Fuel for thought
Gotta admit I was selfishly pleased to see the launch scrubbed. It ain’t easy catching a mid-afternoon launch when you are Houston +13. That fuel sensor problem really seems like the undead issue. Can’t kill it.
I bet the commander, Eileen Collins, had deja vu when the window cover fell off on the launch pad — and not because of the falling foam that doomed Columbia. Collins had her foot on the gas for the scariest ride up in recent shuttle history, STS-93, when three cooling lines were ruptured by a falling pin during main engine ignition. Collins and her crew ended up short of their orbit, but the mission was a success. I’m pretty sure NASA had this in mind when they selected her for the program’s return to flight. She’s apparently quite cool under pressure.
I really wish NASA had a shuttle alternative in the functional prototype phase in the next year or so. By my calculations, even if the shuttle makes it to the 2010 mothballing date there will be several years — akin to the post-Skylab pre-shuttle era — where the US has no operational manned space vehicle program.
Ironic that that the two bright areas in manned spaceflight are private industry and communist China. What an odd space race.
Sidenote: You can get uncluttered live video and often telemetry data from United Space Alliance, the contractors who provide many of the ground operations to NASA.
Sidenote II: Does anyone know of any good space blogs? Why can’t I find this?