Despite a less than glowing review of NASA’s efforts at resolving safety issues in preparation for the next launch, NASA decided that they had reduced the risk from debris during liftoff to “an acceptable risk”.
Here’s some stuff I didn’t write:
NASA has cleared the Space Shuttle to Return to Flight. After a two-day Flight Readiness Review meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, senior managers approved a July 13 launch date for Discovery.
Commander Eileen Collins and her crew are scheduled to lift off at 3:51 p.m. EDT on the first U.S. space flight since the February 2003 loss of the Shuttle Columbia.
“After a vigorous, healthy discussion our team has come to a decision: we’re ready to go,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said after the meeting. “The past two and half years have resulted in significant improvements that have greatly reduced the risk of flying the Shuttle. But we should never lose sight of the fact that space flight is risky.
“The Discovery mission, designated STS-114, is a test flight,” Griffin said, noting that astronauts will try out a host of new Space Shuttle safety enhancements. In addition, Discovery will carry 15 tons of supplies and replacement hardware to the International Space Station. July 13 is the beginning of three weeks of possible launch days that run through July 31.
NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Operations, William Readdy, chaired the Flight Readiness Review, the meeting that traditionally sets launch dates and assesses the Shuttle’s fitness to fly.
“Today’s decision is an important milestone in returning the Shuttle to service for the country. Our technical and engineering teams are continuing their in-depth preparations to ensure that Eileen and her crew have a successful mission,” he said.
Joining Collins aboard Discovery will be pilot Jim Kelly and Mission Specialists Steve Robinson, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence, Charlie Camarda and Soichi Noguchi, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut. The crew will test design changes that will reduce the chances of damage to the Shuttle, procedures for in-flight inspection of the Space Shuttle heat shield, and repair techniques — all in response to the Columbia accident. The mission also features three spacewalks, including one to replace a Space Station gyroscope.
Aboard the Station, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev, a Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut, and Flight Engineer and NASA Station Science Officer John Phillips will greet Discovery. Krikalev and Phillips are on a six-month mission. They have been aboard the Station since April 17.
Returning the Space Shuttle to flight is the first step in the Vision for Space Exploration, a plan for humans to journey into the cosmos. The Space Shuttle will be used to continue construction of the International Space Station, a crucial test bed for exploration missions.
For more information on Return to Flight, including images, interviews with the crew, and descriptions of the improvements to the Space Shuttle on the Internet, visit: NASA Return To Flight
This article (above) comes from NASA, and was reasonable well written, so I left it – as is.
Okay then, the launch window starts July 13th, less than two weeks from today, on a Wednesday. Believe me when I tell you that the whole world will be watching. Not every person of course, but every country. Especially China, Russia, EU Members, and the USA. So much is riding on this first flight, so much of the momentum that will drive the next twenty years of manned space flight is packed into the successful completion of this mission, and the safe return of this ship, and this crew, to our sweet planet.
What needles and pins the engineers and technicians must feel, knowing that every small detail could mean the difference between a successful return to flight by the space shuttle, and a depressing and cheerless feeling at having to squirm through another months-long delay, or zeus forbid, failure.
I’ll be watching. You couldn’t stop me from seeing this one, folks.