Houston We Have a Problem

This morning I awoke and turned on the radio to listen to some music as I went through my daily routine. During this time, the news came on and one of the stories was of the Space Shuttle Endeavor and its mission to the International Space Station. Endeavor was carrying a payload for the space station which included a giant truss which will be used to unfurl solar energy collectors to produce power for the space station. According to the news story, the shuttle would connect the truss to the space station today in a series of maneuvers by astronauts doing space walks. I quickly ran downstairs and turned on the satellite dish. One of the beautiful things about satellite television is that you usually get the downlinks from the space shuttle to mission control in Houston. Sure enough, the NASA channel was showing the shuttle unloading its payload in preparation for the connection with the space station. I watched eagerly as astronauts Noriega and Tanner began to guide the 17 ton truss into place and bolt it together. Their space walk lasted several hours and it was amazing to watch. The shuttle circles the earth every 90 minutes meaning it is night for 45 minutes and day for 45 minutes. To watch these two astronauts hanging 40 feet above the space shuttle connected to the space station with a small tether while traveling over 5 miles per second was incredible. The mission was not without its problems as one of the solar wings did not deploy correctly. This is where the astronauts differ from other do-it-yourselfers. They did not get out a hammer and give the space station a good whack. Instead, they left it there for mission control to best determine what would be the next steps. I just kept thinking to myself, they wouldn’t have had this problem if they would have sent up Norm Abram from This Old House. He is after all a master carpenter and would have had it fixed in no time and been able to provide it with a decorative crown molding. Sometimes these NASA guys make things to complicated.


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