Tuesday, August 09, 2005
"The Vehicle Is Not Safe!"
This morning, Discovery returned home-to Edwards AFB, finally, after an extra day in space and two passed attempts at landing at the primary site of Kennedy Space Center. The re-entry and descent were uneventful-the landing, perfect. As I write, the crew is performing the final shutdown and "safe" procedures before departing the aging spacecraft.
After watching the events on NASA TV, I decided to check the talking heads out to see what was being said about the mission. Tom Jones, one of NASA's shuttle designers was on FOX News (yes-I was watching FOX), and told the Fox and Friends panel that this "test-flight" (this is what NASA is calling the mission, as well) should never have included the four astronauts on board besides the flight crew. He emphatically implied that both the flight crew of STS114, and the Expedition 11 crew aboard the ISS were uneccesarily put at risk by a "shoddy" mission planning phase!
A spokesman (Didn't catch his name) for NASA, in a scripted manner, "assured" the world that the shuttle was safe and that every precaution was taken to make it so for the mission.
As the segment ended with the image of the NASA spokesman- who had a concerned look on his face- on screen, Mr. Jones' voice could be heard saying: "The vehicle is NOT safe!"
I dunno-but wouldn't the billions the government is wasting on the rediculous attempts to figure out what the origins of the universe are be better spent developing-better yet-encouraging civilian developers to find an economical and safe replacement (or replacements) for the shuttle program?
The future of space exploration lies with civilians. Why can't NASA see this and do a split-up like the technology monopolies of the past?