Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Believe I Can Fly

Does anyone else find the latest iterations of NASA's shuttle program a little...disconcerting? For one thing, why is the shuttle covered in tiles? It's like going into orbit in my bathtub. And why are these tiles so easily broken by foam pieces? You can see where this is going: why are crucial pieces of the space shuttle made of foam? The only thing I can think of that's made of foam are those long noodle floaties that kids play with in the pool. Very sturdy, those noodles. So just to sum up, the space shuttle Discovery was built in 1983 out of foam and bathroom tiles. I'm no rocket scientist (har har), but this seems a little shaky to me.

Aside from the actual engineering of the flying bathtub, I'm not so impressed with the NASA news department's timing. First, of course, there's the delayed launch, which, I admit, was not the fault of the NASA news department. Then the flawless-except-for-the-pieces-of-shuttle-falling-off actual launch, followed by a reassurance that none of those pieces were THAT important, and they didn't hit anything anyway. Next, the announcement, while the Discovery is still in the air, that the shuttle program will be grounded. Except for that last flight that hasn't come in yet, which we're sure will be fine, it's totally safe, we're just curtailing the future of the program because, well, because our safety improvements have failed. But they're having a great time out there, right folks? And finally, the announcement that the flying foam from the launch actually DID hit the shuttle, which was the cause of the Columbia disaster, but don't worry, this time everyone on board will not die a horrible death, because this piece of foam was smaller than the really bad piece of foam, and it hit somewhere else. Whew, I'm feeling better, how bout you?


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