Fingers Crossed

July 13th, 2005


Lots of fingers are crossed in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and around the nation today as we attempt, weather permitting, to get the shuttle back in the air and into orbit. In about three hours, if the storms around Kennedy Space Center have cleared off, and the weather is also good at the TAL site, we’ll start the main engines, light the boosters, and send Discovery on her way.

About twelve days later, Discovery will light her OMS engines, descend into the atmosphere and return safely home again. Despite what some NASA-bashers have said over the past two and a half years, safety is important to NASA. It permeates every aspect of everything we do here in Houston, even for those of us who are only tangentially involved in the Shuttle and Space Station programs. This focus on safe flight goes back to the beginnings of the space program. How many of you remember that when John F Kennedy challenged us to go to the Moon, he included a safe return in the challenge?

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

Emphasis mine. People quoting Kennedy sometimes leave out that part.

Unfortunately, we sometimes make mistakes – we lose our focus, or we misjudge a risk and a tragedy like Columbia occurs. My fingers are crossed today not for the spacecraft that the STS-114 crew will ride in, but for the judgement of the flight controllers, the flight directors, and the mission managament team. May they all be on top of their game.

One Response to “Fingers Crossed”

  1. Jim Says:

    OOPS! I accidentally wrote “STS-107″ instead of “STS-114″ in the first version of this post. I guess I’ve got 107 on the brain right now… probably a lot of people around here do. 107 was, of course, Columbia. If I were a superstitious man, I’d be very worried right now.