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  • Shuttle Fleet Re-Grounded

    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- NASA has grounded its space shuttles until engineers solve the recurring problem of falling debris, NASA's mission managers said Wednesday.

    Pieces of debris tore away from the shuttle Discovery during liftoff Tuesday -- despite NASA spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to prevent a repeat of the problem that caused the 2003 Columbia disaster.

    A piece of insulating foam falling from the external fuel talk during Columbia's launch was blamed for the deaths of its seven crew.

    NASA officials say they do not believe falling foam actually hit Discovery.

    "Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," shuttle program manager Bill Parsons told reporters at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. "You can say that means they're grounded."

    Wayne Hale, deputy shuttle program manager, added: "We are treating it very seriously. Are we losing sleep over it? Not yet."

    Discovery is due to return to Kennedy Space Center August 7. A date for the next planned mission has not been set.

    Earlier Wednesday NASA lead flight director Paul Hill said that, based on engineers' "first-blush" analysis of falling debris, there was "no significant problem" with the orbiting shuttle.

    Hill spoke to reporters after astronauts, using a robotic arm equipped with a camera and laser, spent "one hell of a day" poring over every inch of Discovery for surface damage.

    Of the Discovery's seven-member crew, three spent the entire day operating the 50-foot robotic arm and its 50-foot boom extension. Other members who had a spare moment from their tasks "were also there helping to look out the windows and look at camera views," Hill said.

    NASA was analyzing data from the launch and from the robotic arm to decide what steps to take next.

    "We should start seeing the jury coming in on those decisions by the end of the crew's day tomorrow," Hill said.

    Although the search for damage was already included as part of the mission, video from an array of cameras raised concerns after showing a piece of debris falling away from the orbiter's underside during Tuesday's liftoff.

    NASA officials said the debris could have broken off from a tile near a door covering the nose landing gear. Space shuttles have shed tile during previous missions without consequences.

    The February 2003 Columbia disaster prompted NASA to ground the shuttle fleet and make safety-related activities a priority.

    NASA flight operations manager John Shannon said the debris that broke off may be the tile covering rather than the tile itself. He said that initial estimates show it was about 1.5 inches long.

    Footage from Discovery's launch also showed a piece of debris falling from the external fuel tank at the time it separated from the orbiter. That debris did not strike the orbiter, he said.

    Footage also showed that the external fuel tank's nose cone hit a bird about 2.5 seconds after liftoff -- when Discovery was probably traveling too slowly to sustain any damage, he said.

    As the orbiter approaches the international space station for a scheduled Thursday 7:18 a.m. ET docking, the station's crew will photograph Discovery to look further for any damage.

    Shuttle crew members plan to test repair techniques during three scheduled space walks by astronauts Steve Robinson and Soichi Noguchi of Japan. The astronaut pair also plans to service the space station.

    Since Columbia, NASA has developed contingency plans for astronauts to try to repair damaged shuttles so they can return to Earth. In the event a spacecraft cannot be repaired, plans call for the crew to take refuge in the space station until a rescue mission can be launched.
    RIP Brett Thompson, 17, 09/12/1989-09/14/2006

    Seatbelts save lives

  • #2
    I pray the crew will come home safe. Looks like the shuttles are getting a little too old.
    Hail hail the gang's all here, when the going gets tough I know my friends will still be there. - Drop Kick Murphys, "The Gang's all Here"

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    • #3
      I'm glad they're putting safety above all other concerns.


      On a side note, am I the only one here who wonders if the billions and billions of dollars devoted to NASA is worth it?
      Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The first amendment protected views/commentary/opinions/satire expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BrickCop
        I'm glad they're putting safety above all other concerns.


        On a side note, am I the only one here who wonders if the billions and billions of dollars devoted to NASA is worth it?

        I'll agree with that, I may be a bit niave (or undereducated about NASA) but I can't recall anything they've done for the betterment of mankind.
        A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

        -GK Chesterton

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BrickCop
          I'm glad they're putting safety above all other concerns.


          On a side note, am I the only one here who wonders if the billions and billions of dollars devoted to NASA is worth it?
          No, you're not. I was wondering the same thing myself.

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          • #6
            Why is it we could send men to the moon in the late 60's, but can't launch a shuttle into space in the 21st century????

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JKooL
              Why is it we could send men to the moon in the late 60's, but can't launch a shuttle into space in the 21st century????
              You mean like the one we launched yesterday? Money is a big issue, but they are also being careful about what they do. The shuttle design is dated, and NASA knows that.

              One thing to keep in mind about the space program is that it drives a lot of technologys, even basic stuff. Now I'm not sure whether or not we need to spend that much money on the space program but look at some of the things that have been accomplished. Lately, the Mars landings and explorations. This is a proving ground for further achievements in space, such as the eventual colonization of Mars.
              Hail hail the gang's all here, when the going gets tough I know my friends will still be there. - Drop Kick Murphys, "The Gang's all Here"

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BrickCop
                I'm glad they're putting safety above all other concerns.


                On a side note, am I the only one here who wonders if the billions and billions of dollars devoted to NASA is worth it?
                I'm right there with you. Frankly, when were forking over large chunks of our income, it should be going to other things. Not billions of dollars to NASA, for a shuttle that they aparently can't send into space without it falling apart.
                I do support the astronauts, and hope they come home safe.

                The other thing I can't get over is spending billions to send a satelite into space to crash into a meteor. Guess they needed something to spend the billions on.
                "I only had a couple!"

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                • #9
                  It like a big all expenses paid playground for the geniuses at NASA to find out if Raisin Bran tastes different at zero gravity. Meanwhile our schools are struggling with class sizes, city/town budget's are hurting to maintain police officers....etc.

                  Yeah we went to the moon all those years ago but other than bragging rights over the former USSR, have any Americans outside of NASA benefited from it?
                  Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The first amendment protected views/commentary/opinions/satire expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer.

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                  • #10
                    Well, seems the enviromentalists have been prooved to kill again. Much like in 86 when the shuttle blew because of them not using asbestos in the seals the foam is falling off because they aren't using freon. Sad that they would cave to enviromentalists on a safety issue.
                    "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

                    For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Contact
                      I'll agree with that, I may be a bit niave (or undereducated about NASA) but I can't recall anything they've done for the betterment of mankind.
                      um....hello, McFly?? What about Tang and velco??

                      Come on now, I'm sure other good things have come out of NASA

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Actually, microcroelectronics & putting satellites into orbit therefore GPS & satellite TV come to mind.
                        "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

                        For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pkagel
                          Actually, microcroelectronics & putting satellites into orbit therefore GPS & satellite TV come to mind.
                          mmmmm....Satellite TV... Now that you mention it, I love NASA

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pkagel
                            Actually, microcroelectronics & putting satellites into orbit therefore GPS & satellite TV come to mind.
                            There are a ton of things that we now take for granted that trace their roots back to the space program.

                            Brick I hear what you're saying about using the money for other things, and the pragmatic side of me says you're right. But the idealistic side of me says that space exploration is a good thing, even if it costs a lot. It increases the collective knowledge of mankind and helps give scientists more information about the composition of the universe. Granted these might not be intrinsically useful in everyday life, I also believe it is a necessary thing for a civilization or society to always strive to increase their knowledge.
                            Hail hail the gang's all here, when the going gets tough I know my friends will still be there. - Drop Kick Murphys, "The Gang's all Here"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JKooL
                              Why is it we could send men to the moon in the late 60's, but can't launch a shuttle into space in the 21st century????

                              I agree. Even if money is a factor lets face it, it has been about 40 yers since we landed on the mood. Technology has improved as well as cost saving materials. Just look at how far our military has come.
                              Though I hate to believe in conspiracy theories maybe we did just stage in in the desert.

                              TGY
                              Disclaimer: The writer does not represent any organization, employer, entity or other individual. The views expressed are those only of the writer. In the case of a sarcastic, facetious, nonsensical, stirring-the-pot, controversial or devil's advocate-type post, the views expressed may not even reflect those of the writer [This sig stolen from Brickcop who stole it from Frank Booth].

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