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July 2006

Not For Nuttin Shuttle People

I’m not really awake yet as I only went to sleep about four hours ago and am about to go lie down again, but as I was up I checked on the shuttle status and saw this:

Spaceflight Now STS 121 Mission Status

1453 GMT (10:53 a.m. EDT)

The countdown is still holding at the T-minus 3 hour mark. Clocks are slated to resume ticking in 60 minutes.

The analysis and debate about the faulty heater on one of Discovery’s vernier steering thrusters continues. That heater is not working, which makes the maneuvering jet considered failed for the mission. Although there are other thrusters that can compensate for the loss of the L5L jet, managers must decide if they want to launch knowing some of the redundancy is gone.

Now given that they already are launching over the objections of a bunch of safety people (see here)…

Now, I know, I know… this kind of thing will never be “safe” and they are only estimating a 1% chance of a catastrophic failure that would lose the orbiter and the crew. And that is considered an acceptable level of risk at this point.

But if that 1% hit, or even if there was enough damage that they need to leave the astronauts on ISS then you’ll be hearing the “I told you so”s so loudly we’ll all go deaf. Oh well, at least this time around the objections were clearly heard then decided upon, whereas in previous cases they either have been so discouraged that people never made the objections even though they were worried, or they were made and were squelched by middle management and never made it to the top. This time everybody clearly knows the risks that have been warned about, and are choosing to go anyway.

The Astronauts are loading into the vehicle as I type. Also as I type some scary clouds have moved into the area which will scrub the launch for today if they don’t move soon. So we shall see.

My alarm is set to make sure I’ll be up to watch, and NASA TV has been up on my computer with the sound up for hours now, so it will wake me up if anything significant happens too.

Of course, I’m out west, so unlike home, I can’t just step out the back door of the house and look up to see the launch. Oh well.

David Clement Brandon

My mother’s father’s father. As I post these going through the tree breadth first, this is the first ancestor I do not have a picture for. At least not yet. (I didn’t post pictures for the first few I posted, but there were pictures on the corresponding wiki pages, I was just negligent.)

I don’t know a whole lot about him either. Born 1875 in Darke County, Ohio. Moved to Indiana, then Arkansas, then back to Darke County, Ohio, where he died in 1956.

The first of his three children was my mother’s father. The last of his three children was my Uncle Ed… actually Great Uncle Ed. I visited Uncle Ed’s house a few times as a child. I remember swapping Commodore 64 software with one of his grandkids.

But back to David Clement. The main other thing I know is that he was a Justice of the Peace for 36 years.

For more, see his wiki page.