Discovery's scary return

The space shuttle Discovery has undocked from the International Space Station is in its initial stages of return to Earth. And, the Big Worry starts. Shuddering memories of Columbia disaster in 2003. Discovery commander Eileen Collins says all is well. NASA too has given the okay to return. Yet, it's nevertheless going to be a scary return on Monday morning (local time), evening in India.

I don't understand why and how these problems regarding insulating foam have cropped up now. The first shuttle Columbia flew in 1981. How is it that the earlier flights went off without any hitch? I think it was its 28th flight that was doomed on Feb 1, 2003. Is it a problem of aging? Do these craft needed to be replaced? Or is it some sort of incompetency among NASA personnel? Both are being speculated in American media. (Unnecessary risk, Risking Discovery).


There have been reports that NASA ignored its own report on faulty laying of insulting foam. Why was NASA in so much of hurry to launch Discovery? One day before Discovery was launched NASA put out a statement saying even if the shuttle is not fully fit to fly it will take off! Not surprising the launch was faulty.


A couple of days back, deputy shuttle programme manager said that risks while landing remained. Surprisingly there doesn't seem to be any outcry in the US about all this.

Today space mission operators said they have real fears of the wings of the shuttle heating up too much while re-entry.

I only hope and pray that these fears turn out to be false alarms, and the the crew return safely back to Earth. But will NASA learn its lessons?

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