Shuttle need repairs

http://news.yahoo.com/fc/science/space_shuttle

A couple of short strips of material dangling from Discovery’s belly had NASA scrambling Sunday to determine whether the protrusions might endanger the shuttle during next week’s descent and whether the astronauts might need to attempt a repair.

I’m all for space exploration, but is it just me or does NASA just totally screw it up?

NASA is inept in a number of ways, but I wouldn’t be quick to jump to the conclusion that this is their fault. The shuttles are nearing the end of their practical lifespan. These are old vehicles. They were state of the art in the 70s… now, it’s like trying to keep an old car on the road.

Yeah, think of the mileage on those suckers!

So, is this the far left or far right’s fault?

Well far right of course, both crashes happened on thier watch
:D

Amtrack. I love trains (and space exploration), but…gov’t is not the best at this type of thing.

Note: I thought, and think, that the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo program was, and is, probably the finest expression of man’s finer side, ever. Gov’t did real good, back then, but those days are sadly over, it seems. NASA still does good science with their robot probes, but their manned missions (unless, and until they really go to Mars) are just so 1990’s. Not that there aren’t brilliant people in NASA, it’s just too gov’t, IMHO.

Is there any chance that they’d just leave the shuttle up there, attached to the station and bring the astronauts back via the Russian shuttle?

No.

A combination of a screw up and some really old fashioned technology. They should have retired the shuttle a long time ago. Interesting that the crew has been criticising NASA from space. I wonder if they will still have jobs when they get back. :wink:

Since it’s their lives on the line, and it looks like the ball has been dropped again, in spite of several years of investigations and problems solving, I wonder if they care.

Just before that launch I read an interview with some NASA folks. “Ha, don’t fear, we triple-checked EVERYTHING and we’re ABSOLUTELY sure that the shuttle is in top condition!” Right…

Well, it looks like NASA is may be going back to capsules on rockets. On its face, this sounds reasonable, and the idea of lifting cargo and crew seperately could make the process safer. It makes a certain amount of sense when you consider that the shuttle really failed to live up to its main promise of making space travel easier and cheaper by making the craft reuseable. It ended up doing neither of those things, since the shuttle is way more complicated than previous spacecraft and costs $1 billion per trip to operate.

Still, space capsules. It’s so… retro.

Here’s a thought, though. As long as NASA is lifting crew seperately, I wonder if they could use something like Burt Rutan’s Spaceship One to do it. I’m no engineer, but it seems like that would be safer than even a small conventional rocket, and it’s reuseable as well. Plus, they could save a lot on development by just licensing the design.

I may be wrong, but didn’t Rutan’s ship only kiss the edge of space? I think that you need quite a bit more power to enter a stable orbit than what his ship can provide.

You’re right, but Spaceship one was really just a proof of concept. There are some things from that design that NASA could learn. Like the way SS1 does re-entry.
I have to admit, that this screwing around in near space is just…boring. It’s been more than 30 years(right? 1974 was the last trip?) since we have been to the Moon- as a kid I would have thought we would be on Mars by now. I guess with all the unfortuante events with the shuttle it has scared them off a bit from doing something a bit more daring.

The whole deal is just messed up.

On the CNN front page… “Astronaut to clip shuttle stubble.”

What an adorable life-threatening situation. The shuttle’s getting its first shave.

Shuttle and ISS killed any chance of going to Mars.

Long story short: shuttle was a disaster from the beginning, due to typical beuracratic bullshit. One problem is that it was originally going to be a great dealer smaller, but the USAF was partnered on the project and insisted that it have the capacity to carry spy satellites and shit into orbit. Of course it never got used for that purpose and that giant cargo bay is mostly worthless, but… It’s an abject failure of a launch vehicle - it was originally supposed to be cheaper and safer than the Big Dumb Boosters but it’s ended up being neither of those things.

ISS also has funneled a ton of money away from manned exploration for what’s basically a giant waste of money - there’s really not anything being done on it that couldn’t have been done on a rejuvinated Mir, or in the shuttles. Stephen Baxter once called the ISS something along the lines of “a flying white elephant, but without the benefit of studying the effects of microgravity on albino pachyderns”.

I doubt we’ll ever see the US launch a manned Mars mission - not unless the Chinese follow through with their plan on going to the moon. That might kick us in the ass, but nothing else will.

JD