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July 30, 2005

Hutchison and DeLay still have faith in space

I was heartened to read today in the Houston Chronicle (article by Samantha Levine) that Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay both still have faith in our space program. Hutchison said that news reports mistakenly have made it sound as if the shuttle is grounded for good. "They are trying to be direct, open, honest," the senator said. "Every little thing they see that might be wrong, they are just going public with it," she added. "You have to admire them for that, but it is also causing stress on the public and the families of the astronauts that are up there." The shuttle will be grounded only while the foam issue is readdressed.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) whose district includes Johnson Space Center reported through his spokesman Ben Porritt that "he is clear that nothing will stop NASA from accomplishing future expeditions and fulfilling the vision set forth by the administration."

This reaffirmation by our leading space politicians was much appreciated here in Houston. It is great to know that like NSS members, our politicians are taking the long-term view, and accept that delays are inevitable when dealing with complex systems.

It is hard to be patient when you know that new worlds are waiting for us to explore out there - like the new planet discovered just today. But this community more than any wants NASA to take special care with the lives of our neighbors, friends, and coworkers who fly into space. We appreciate NASA being frank with us and share our politicians faith that NASA will indeed get the shuttle safely flying again, finish the station, and then take us to the moon and beyond.

Marianne Dyson
NSS Board Member
Former NASA Flight Controller

Posted by m_dyson at July 30, 2005 12:20 AM


I hope Huchinson and DeLay's optimism is justified. Of course, as Texas legislators, they have a vested interest in drawing federal tax dollars into their state, and NASA's got a lot of infrastructure in Texas.

The fact that NASA failed to figure out a solution to the foam problem, despite two and a half years of investigation into the foam problem, is direct evidence of serious problems with this agency from top to bottom.

I don't want our test pilots to die either (and EVERY astronaut who goes up IS a test pilot), but risk is part of taking on the hostile environment that is SPACE. Nor do I appreciate do-nothing engineers who don't solve specific, known problems, or an inept management structure that condones the wasting of time and tax dollars.

My guess is that SpaceShip 2 will put paying customers into space before NASA puts another astronaut in orbit. NASA, prove me wrong. PLEASE!

Posted by: Keith Wick at July 30, 2005 03:28 PM

i've got your foam and cloth solution right here. mothball the shuttle and start over. scaled composites went up and back for only $20 mil. imagine what they coupld do with just the $1 billion+ that was spent JUST to return it to flight. we need to develope a single stage craft to replace the shuttle. the shuttle is a cold war relic that was doomed from the start. it's a giant monster that was meant to haul spy sattelites into space. it's too bad we don't use it for that anymore. by the way, what exactly is the space shuttles purpose other than to suck up resources??? and where is the orbital space plane???

Posted by: jayson hodges at August 3, 2005 03:25 AM

I can remember that in 1950 my brother and I signed up in the Hayden Planetarium in NYC for the first space flight.

Posted by: Bill Archer at August 3, 2005 06:59 AM



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