Being a Science Fiction fan, I love stuff having to do with space and space travel. I'm not as big of a fan (read geek) as my friend Mark who took one of those 'vomit rocket' trips to experience weightlessness. But I'm still a fan, and enough about Mark.
While I love things having to do with space flight, I'm also a big chicken. I've written before that I'm probably not the bravest person around so I was watching with more apprehension than anticipation, I guess, the proposed flight today.
The reason being, that while NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has given the all clear for the Shuttle to fly, two others, Bryan O'Connor, NASA's chief safety officer, and chief engineer Christopher Scolese recommended, two weeks ago, that the shuttle not fly until further design changes are made to 34 areas on the fuel tank known as ice-frost ramps.
Add to that the failure today of a heater that keeps propellant from freezing in a firing thruster and you gotta wonder if the Shuttle isn't past its prime.
Of course I want to see the Shuttle fly, I want to see us back on the moon, or even attempting a manned trip to Mars. But I want it to be done without losing lives.
I know, I know, space travel is inherently dangerous, and few discoveries are achieved without some loss. But I can't help but wonder if you know you have a problem, and that problem isn't fixed yet, then why not wait until it is.
Oh, and the reason for the scrubbing of the mission today? Weather. Bad weather. And what about the heater failure. Well, NASA managers decided to waive a requirement that four such thrusters work properly at launch, believing the astronauts could work around the problem in orbit.