Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chang'e versus Space Jalopy.

The WaPo reports:

"China sent a satellite rocketing toward lunar orbit yesterday, the latest step in an ambitious national program to put more astronauts in space, build a space station, and eventually land Chinese astronauts on the moon. The satellite, called Chang'e after a goddess who flew to the moon in Chinese legend, was launched atop a Long March 3A rocket that lifted off at 6:05 p.m. local time (6:05 a.m. in Philadelphia) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province in central China. The China National Space Administration said Chang'e was due to enter a lunar orbit Nov. 5 and send back images and analyses of the moon's surface for about a year. "

Meanwhile, back on the Space Jalopy:

AP reports:

" Discovery's astronauts used lasers and digital cameras yesterday to examine the shuttle's wings for any signs of launch damage as they headed toward a docking this morning with the International Space Station. . . NASA wants to make sure that none of the protective coating has chipped away and that nothing else is wrong with the reinforced-carbon panels, before bringing Discovery home. The three space station residents also will snap hundreds of digital pictures of Discovery as the shuttle makes its final approach for today's docking. The shuttle will do a slow-motion backflip, exposing its belly. "

Now what's more impressive, the Chinese sending a satellite to the moon or the Space Jalopy doing backflips to see if it's in good enough shape to return to earth without blowning up?

This is another proud moment in the annals of US space exploration. We're so close to Mars right now I can smell it.

Michael Griffin weighs in on protecting corporate profits:

As far as the $8.5 million NASA pilot survey goes. . . NASA administrator Michael Griffin says he disagrees with Thomas S. Luedtke's, his associate administrator, stated reason for keeping an aviation safety survey a secret (and, by the way, trying to have it shreaded before anyone could see it). [see previous post]

Griffin said:

"This rationale was based on case law, but I do not agree with the way it was written. I regret the impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and will never be the case."


Just because Luedtke says the release of the survey could "materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies," that shouldn't leave anyone with the idea that NASA is covering anything up to protect corporations friendly to the administration. Heaven forfend!


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