Most Dangerous Shuttle Mission Ever Gets Off to a Rough Start

Illustration for article titled Most Dangerous Shuttle Mission Ever Gets Off to a Rough Start

They may have made it to space without blowing up, but just one day into their famously dangerous mission, the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis already have something to worry about: heat shield damage.

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The scar, spotted during a standard survey of the shuttle's heat shields, was described by NASA as "appear[ing] very minor", and occurred at a very early stage of the launch. Similar damage cast a pall over a space shuttle Endeavor mission in 2007, though repairs—Hollywood-style or otherwise—probably won't be necessary.

The astronauts will just have to put this out of mind while they carry out their ridiculously difficult Hubble repair mission, but it certainly won't make their reentry and landing, scheduled for about 10 days from now, any less stressful. [Daily Mail, Images courtesy of AP]

DISCUSSION

The sooner they retire this POC and replace it with something based on sound design and engineering principles, the better!

Now I know The Shuttle is surrounded by this bubble of NASA PR and national pride that forbids people pointing out what a poor design it is, but it was flawed from the start.

Designing a satellite launcher that also carries people, so that EVERY SINGLE component has to be manned spaceflight grade (and price) makes zero sense. If you need humans to work on an unmanned satellite that was launched on a non-manned grade, "low cost" launcher, then there's always the space rendezvous that has been carried out since 1963.

You see the problem is The Shuttle was designed in the Mid-West. They sat down and said, "Hey wouldn't it be cool to have a pick up truck for space! We can throw all our crap in the back and have an extended cab so can carry all our buddies and have room for a six pack and a shotgun holder". And thus The Space Shuttle was born.

Even here people post in awe about it being the most complex machine ever built (I wonder if that's really true anymore) as if that's a good thing. It's not! The simplest machine that gets the job done is always the best.