This post has nothing to do with United States space policy or budget dollars, it has to do with ABC News totally distorting the facts when it comes to the Bush administration’s space policy after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.
The last Space Shuttle just took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission – crewed by NASA astronauts Chris Ferguson (commander), Doug Hurley (pilot), and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus – will “deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station.”
Hopefully its not a five year mission. Charles Bolden, in an interview with Al Jezeera TV, let’s the cat out of the bag and it is almost laughable. No, I take that back. It is laughable.
There have been a couple of NASA missions to rehab the Hubble telescope that has provided some pretty amazing images over the past few years. Seven astronauts are heading up this afternoon, for what is being described as a pretty dangerous mission.
I had not heard this, but the mission has a back up team in-waiting if there is a need to rescue the crew. As a matter of fact, NASA only approved the mission if a back-up shuttle was available to go up and rescue the crew within one week.
If the Hubble repair crew due for liftoff on Monday got into the deepest sort of orbital trouble, yet another shuttle would have to be launched into orbit as little as a week later. NASA hasn’t launched two piloted spacecraft so close together in more than 40 years. But that’s just the first act of the drama.
The rescue shuttle, Endeavour, would have to pull within about two dozen yards of the stranded shuttle Atlantis, and then help Atlantis’ crew members make their way across a lifeline to refuge. Then Endeavour, full to capacity, would have to leave Hubble as well as Atlantis behind and return home — but not before Atlantis’ controls are set for a self-destruct sequence.
The reason why this is a big deal? Hubble is up at 350 miles, 100 miles higher than where the shuttle normally flies. Click on the image to the right to see a recap of the mission from NASA.
Among the greatest hazards facing Atlantis is the intense amount of space junk – such as broken satellites and dead rockets – that is cluttering the area where the shuttle will rendezvous with Hubble.
Shuttle flights usually only go to the International Space Station no more than 250 miles up – but at 350 miles, where Hubble flies, the hazards are far greater.
If Atlantis suffers damage, the crew would be marooned.
Everyone remembers the past Hubble missions as being quite spectacular, and this one will be no different!
Twenty three years ago today, at 11:39 a.m. ET, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart and disintegrated off the central coast of Florida during ascent. An o-ring seal failed, and disaster incurred.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge and I’ll meet it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.
We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.
I’ve always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.
I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: “Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.”
There’s a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, “He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.” Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake’s, complete.
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”
The United Nations relies on four data sources for it’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. One of them is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), headed up by Dr. James Hansen who some consider to be the scientific leader of global warming hysteria, and a good buddy of Al Gore.
Other scientists – who have a full time job peer-reviewing GISS data – pointed out that GISS carried over Russian data that was two months old. Gee, ya think it would be warmer in August as compared to October?