Shuttle News: August 2007 Archives

Management Changes at USA

Richard Covey to Succeed McCulley as USA President and CEO

"Richard O. Covey has been named to succeed Michael J. McCulley as President and Chief Executive Officer of United Space Alliance, effective September 28, 2007. McCulley has announced his retirement following a distinguished career spanning 38 years as a Naval aviator, NASA astronaut and a highly respected space industry executive. Daniel C. Brandenstein of Lockheed Martin Mission Services has been named to replace Covey as USA's Chief Operating Officer."

Post Landing Opinions

The Space Shuttle Hobbles Onward, editorial, NY Times

"NASA will now look for quick fixes to reduce debris-shedding in the next few flights while it pursues a longer-term solution. But it has become increasingly clear that the shuttles design, which puts a huge external fuel tank insulated with foam above a fragile spacecraft, is fundamentally flawed. This problem wont be solved until the shuttles are replaced with a new vehicle."

Larger View - different angle

Endeavour Is Home

Space Shuttle Endeavour Lands at Kennedy Space Center

"Space Shuttle Endeavour touched down at Kennedy at 12:32 p.m., ending its mission to the International Space Station. Endeavour returned home two weeks after it launched from the Florida space port. Endeavour arrived at the station on Aug. 10 with the seven STS-118 astronauts quickly beginning joint operations with the Expedition 15 crew."


More ISS and Shuttle News

Use Microsoft Photosynth To Examine Shuttle Endeavour's Tiles, Microsoft

"Prior to docking at the international space station the Space Shuttle Endeavour did a complete somersault enabling astronauts in the International Space Station to photograph the shuttle's bottom-side. The photos were then sent back to NASA for analysis. The Space Administration has been kind enough to share those images with Microsoft Live Labs. We have taken the photos and created a "synth" so people around the world can take part in the NASA experience."

Changing Mindsets

Caution Over Shuttle Shows Shift at NASA, NY Times

"Confronted with the same kind of problem that doomed the space shuttle Columbia, NASA officials, chastened by years of criticism and upheaval in the agency, took a markedly different approach during the current mission of the Endeavour, calling on an array of new tools and procedures to analyze and respond to the problem."

Endeavour Undocks from Space Station

"Space Shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station at 7:56 a.m. EDT today, ending an almost nine-day stay at the orbital outpost for the STS-118 crew. Undocking was moved up a day in preparation for landing on Tuesday. The earlier landing opportunity was selected in the event Hurricane Dean threatens the Houston area. It allows an opportunity for the shuttle to land before Mission Control, Houston, would be shut down in preparation for a storm. Mission managers are continuing to monitor the situation and assess their options."

More ISS and Shuttle News

On CNN Again

Editor's note: I was on CNN International at around 12:15 pm EDT today. Same topic as yesterday - tile repair.

Shuttle Endeavour, Space Station Crew News Conference

"The 10 astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station will participate in a news conference at 12:34 p.m. CDT on Friday, Aug. 17. Date: Aug. 16, 2007"


Editor's note: Looks like I will be on CNN Domestic/CNN International at around 12:30 pm EDT today - just before the press conference.

NASA decides no shuttle repairs needed, Endeavour safe to fly home with gouged belly, AP

"NASA decided Thursday that no repairs are needed for a deep gouge in Endeavour's belly and the space shuttle is safe to fly home. Mission Control notified the seven shuttle astronauts of the decision right before they went to sleep, putting an end to a week of engineering analyses and anxious uncertainty both in orbit and on Earth. "Please pass along our thanks for all the hard work," radioed Endeavour's commander, Scott Kelly. Mission Control replied, "It's great we finally have a decision and we can press forward."

Editorial: NASA needs better glue, editorial, Waco Tribune

"Now, shuttle Endeavour is in space with a damaged heat shield due to another piece of foam that came loose during launch. NASA has had plenty of warnings. It must fix this dangerous problem."

NASA right to emphasize safety, editorial, Newsday

"Let's hope - and pray - that NASA has made the right call and that the crew remains safe during re-entry, which is scheduled for next week. Let's also hope that, as long as there is a manned space program, NASA continues to improve its record on safety."

NASA nears decision on shuttle fix, AP

"Officials have to balance those fears with the risk that astronauts wearing 300-pound spacesuits and carrying 150 pounds of tools could bang into the shuttle and cause more damage as they try to fix the gouge. Putting the wrong amount of the caulk-like repair goo into the gash or failing to put it in exactly the right spot could make the problem worse, Shannon said."

Costly redesign only cure for shuttle's debris woes, USA Today

"Shannon has said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the gouge does not need to be fixed. It poses no risk to the crew, he has said, but could lead to structural damage on the shuttle."

Long Time Between Lessons

Astronaut Teaches in Space, and Lesson Is Bittersweet, NY Times

"Barbara R. Morgan got back to teaching yesterday. The students were in Idaho; she was in space, orbiting aboard the International Space Station. Students at the Discovery Center of Idaho questioning astronauts on the International Space Station on Tuesday. One of the astronauts, Barbara R. Morgan, had been a teacher in Idaho. The lesson was just over 20 minutes, but it was supposed to make up for more than 20 years, and it had a bittersweet air for those who knew the history."

Will NASA's Reforms Fix Endeavour?, Time

"Dr. Jonathon Clark, husband of astronaut Laurel Clark who lost her life aboard the Columbia, says the agency can't afford to make anything less than a well-thought-out decision. "This is the kind of rock and a hard place scenario that you're in," Clark told TIME. "Realistically, I think NASA's going to do the right thing. And the right thing may not necessarily result in a good outcome but they really are trying to do their best. The world is hanging on to what's going to happen here."

NASA And Its Hang Ups, Michael Graham WTKK

Editor's note: You know, I thought I had encountered just about every sort of vapid idiot in the media until I had the pleasure of being ambushed on Michael Graham's talk show Tuesday morning as he giggled about astronauts dying on Space Shuttles. Then again this is not the first time this twit has said things like this on the air - check this link. His producer Eric had called me half a dozen times to get me on the show before I finally said yes. Now I see why Eric did not tell me exactly what the specific topic would be nor the means whereby Graham would address it. Given what Graham said about NASA's "death machine" I tried to imagine Graham facing someone who rode into space - risking their life - for Graham and every other American. Then, to my surprise this guy has the nerve to post this:

"If Mr. Cowing finds my questions difficult to answer, he should hope not to face any from the families of the 14 dead astronauts."

Well guess what, you pathetic moron, I will be doing EXACTLY THAT Wednesday morning at 9:00 am in Alexandria, Virginia as an invited guest at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. This is why I will be there.

Editor's earlier note: I just did a morning commute interview with Michael Graham on WTKK radio in Boston. The producer simply said that they wanted to talk about the shuttle. When I got on air Graham staged an ambush and kept hammering away at me saying things like "the space shuttle is the most efficient killing vehicle in use today" etc. and laughing and chuckling all the while as he tried to get me to agree that it as a "horrible mistake and should be replaced". When I told him "guess what, it is being retired" he was silent for a moment and then switched back to his astronaut killing rant. I then suggested that he just interview himself since he had already made his mind up on the topic. He continued to be obnoxious, so I hung up. No one is ever going to change this twit's mind.

I have done hundreds of radio interviews like this and have never hung up during one. This guy wins the a--hole of the day award from NASA Watch. Anyone who chuckles while talking about astronaut deaths - or anyone's death - has a few loose screws.

STS-120 Delay?

NASA May Delay Next Shuttle Flight, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"NASA is pondering whether the next space shuttle mission in October should be delayed for modifications to thwart a new external tank (ET) debris threat, following the discovery of a serious tile divot on Endeavour. The STS-118 crew conducted a focused inspection of the belly tile damage Aug. 12 using laser imaging sensors on the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS). The key area of concern is a damaged area extending 3.48 x 2.31 inches and spanning two tiles."

Tile Damage Update


Inspection shows gash though tiles, NASA analyzing options, AP

"The unevenly shaped gouge-which straddles two side-by-side thermal tiles and the corner of a third-is 3 1/2 inches long and just over 2 inches wide. Sunday's inspection showed that the damage goes all the way through the 1-inch-thick tiles, exposing the felt material sandwiched between the tiles and the shuttle's aluminum frame."

NASA STS-118 Execute Package FD04


The following procedure should be followed on MCC "Go" to perform a sneakernet transfer of execute package messages from the ISS SSCs to the Shuttle PGSCs. During the docked timeframe, the Shuttle Ku coverage is very limited in the hours before crew wakeup due to ISS blockage. The Shuttle OCA OFFICER will uplink the Shuttle execute package to a Shuttle PCMCIA card (inserted into an ISS SSC) and you (shuttle crew) will move the PCMCIA card to a Shuttle PGSC in the morning and run a batch file to copy the execute package files to their standard location on the KFX PGSC."

Familiar Wake Up Song

Endeavour Undergoes Heat Shield Inspection

"The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour was awakened for its first full day in orbit at 8:37 a.m. EDT by the song "Where My Heart Will Take Me," performed by Russell Watson. It was played for Mission Specialist Rick Mastracchio."

Editor's note: You may find this song to be somewhat familiar. This is not the first time it has been played either.

Space Shuttle Endeavour Launched on STS-118 Mission

"Cheers and shouts can be heard throughout the Space Center as Endeavour, carrying the STS-118 crew, roars off the launch pad into the late afternoon sky to begin the 22nd mission to the International Space Station. "

Additional ISS and Space Shuttle News

Microsoft And NASA Team Up For 3-D Space Shuttle Tour, Wired

NASA, Microsoft Launch Collaboration With Immersive Photography, NASA

Groundbreaking Digital Experience for Endeavour Shuttle Launch. Microsoft Live Labs

"For the first time, people around the world can view 3-D images of the space shuttle Endeavour and surrounding buildings at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida before it launches into space, through a collaboration between Microsoft Corp. and NASA. Microsoft(R) Live Labs and NASA developed the environments using hundreds of photographs and a photo-imaging technology called Photosynth(TM). Photosynth uses hundreds of standard digital camera images to construct a 3-D view of an environment that can be navigated and explored in a highly intuitive manner."

Editor's note: You are out of luck, Mac users. According to this site: "The Photosynth technology preview runs only on Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista.". I have seen this software demonstrated with my own eyes (on a PC) and it is jaw dropping.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Digital Cameras and Digital Peripherals

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for multiple digital cameras and camera peripherals. The digital cameras and all camera peripherals must be manufactured from the same lot. NASA has a requirement for 48 Nikon D2XS SLR Digital Cameras. The cameras must be lubricated with Braycote lubricating grease which is approved for spaceflight during the manufacturing process. Attempts to compete similar efforts have been unsuccessful due to the camera equipment having to be manufactured from the same lot and items requiring Braycote lubricant grease having to be lubricated during the manufacturing and assembly process."

Editor's note: This Expedition 15 photo should give you an idea of what camera gear they already have on orbit.

NASA's Space Shuttle Mission Postponed by 24 Hours

"The launch of space shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-118 has been postponed 24 hours to allow the shuttle processing team additional time to complete routine work before liftoff. The new launch is targeted for Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 6:36 p.m. EDT. The additional day will provide time to complete the processing and allow the countdown to begin at 8 p.m. Sunday. Despite the delay, the STS-118 crew will still arrive at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., at 5 p.m. EDT Friday. NASA TV will have live coverage of the arrival. On launch day, live coverage starts at 8:30 a.m."

Leaky Shuttle

NASA Probing Space Shuttle Cabin Leak, AP

"A week before Endeavour's planned liftoff, NASA was analyzing a cabin leak in the space shuttle Tuesday. The leak was detected over the weekend. NASA thought it fixed the problem by tightening a loose bolt, but testing Monday night confirmed air was still escaping from the crew cabin, said NASA spokeswoman Tracy Young. Engineers have yet to pinpoint the leak, which could require so much work that NASA might not be able to launch Endeavour on Aug. 7."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from August 2007.

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