August 26th, 2003

Roadkill

Columbia

From the NY Times article on the release of the final Columbia accident report.

"We are challenging the government of the United States" to make up its mind, Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., the commission's chairman, said yesterday, alluding to the ease with which politicians hail the shuttle program while cutting its budget by 40 percent.

"We need to decide as a nation what we want to do," Admiral Gehman, who is retired, warned. The solution, he said, was not just a modernized shuttle. "We shouldn't start by designing the next vehicle," he said. "That is a trap that we've fallen into several times."


Call me a pessimist, but I suspect is that Congress and the Administration will just do what they always do, and put their fingers in their ears and just go "La la la la," hoping it will all go away. Making the required changes at NASA will require the kind of leadership in DC that hasn't been seen in a very long time. It really is a shame. A large chunk of the American people don't give a rat's ass about space. They just want their tax rebate bribes checks. Bread and circuses. Maybe we should spread a rumor that there's oil on the moon.

The report appears to indicate some pretty appalling negligence on the part of NASA administrators. I find it incredible that those rat bastards didn't even try to find out if there was a problem. Certainly, there were ways (and plenty of time) to get the crew off the shuttle. They were much more concerned with the schedule than the lives of the crew. There is even blame to be laid upon the crews to some extent. I saw a brief interview of Gene Cernan tonight on CNN, and he mentioned that he was surprised at how little the current crews seemed to know about glitches in earlier missions, including previous problems with the insulation hitting the shuttle. His implication is that the present crews treat the shuttle as though it's just a bus, rather than an experimental aircraft, i.e., they're leaving the decision whether or not the machine is safe to fly to people who aren't actually going on the mission. This is a very different attitude from that of the earlier astronauts. Current crews don't seem to want to rock the boat.

In contrast to this, I was rewatching the "Failure is not an Option" documentary as I was reading the Times article. I feel pretty confident that Gene Krantz, John Abrams, et al., wouldn't have let those people die.

Did twelve miles tonight, and decided to push it some. My time was good, although I'm still not back to where I was before. Still, I/m getting there.
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