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Shuttle News

On Second Thought, Let's Roll Back – To the Pad

By Keith Cowing
August 29, 2006

Editor’s note: NASA HQ called me twice today to tell me about a JSC telecon (they won’t put me on their list at JSC for some reason). JSC called to link me up to this second telecon but never called on me. Oh well. My question would have been: NASA is an agency which seeks to describe its programmatic risks in a number of ways – most of them numerical. What numerical level of confidence do you have that the predictions you are relying upon will be valid throughout the storm’s passage? If there is no numerical evaluation, can you describe how you made this decision and what established criteria you based that decision upon?

[Follow up/alternate question] Given that you spent several days pondering whether or not to scrub and do the rollback to the VAB in the first place – and then suddenly reversed your decision in just a few hours today, do you feel that your decision to return to the pad was given enough consideration, and, if so, did you therefore spend too much time debating the initial decision to roll back to the VAB?

Atlantis going back to the pad, Orlando Sentinel

“In a stunning turnaround, shuttle Atlantis is being rolled back to the launch pad after getting halfway to the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.”

Editor’s note: Less than 2 hours ago NASA completed a telecon with reporters regarding the roll back of Atlantis to the VAB. At that time not the slightest hint whatsoever was dropped by either Wayne Hale or Mike Suffredini that there might be a change in NASA’s plans. Now it is sending Atlantis back to the pad. It would seem that NASA is making these major decisions in near realtime – otherwise, why spend an hour answering questions (between 12:00 and 1:00 pm EDT) based on the premise that a roll back to the VAB was a done deal?

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.