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Shuttle Launch Postponed To July 4th 122

Posted by Zonk
from the very-patriotic dept.
mkosmo writes "NASA has yet again delayed Space Shuttle Discovery from launching due to growing weather conditions. Next launch attempt is the afternoon of the 4th of July." From the article: "Windows of opportunity are determined by the path of the orbiting international space station, the shuttle's destination. With each passing day, the time for a launch gets earlier by 22-1/2 minutes. That could be good news for NASA because summer thunderstorms are less likely to be a problem earlier in the day."
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Shuttle Launch Postponed To July 4th

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  • Lets just hope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:33PM (#15647939)

    there arn't any billion dollar firework displays

    god speed

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Lets just hope there arn't any billion dollar firework displays

      I saw the phrase "Windows of opportunity" and thought "Those poor astronauts are headed big blue screen up above."

    • Frankly, a successful launch is a far more impressive firework display than any of the traditional fare. Especially if you're watching from down wind.
      • You missed his point I think... He meant that it will BE a billion dollar firework in the sky... "boom" get it? :P
        • Re:Lets just hope (Score:3, Informative)

          by zippthorne (748122)
          I got his point, but it's still a rocket, and a damn impressive sight if you ever get a chance to see it "up close." Far more spectacular than a run-of-the-mill starburst mortar. If you ever do get the opportunity to watch one and you can't convince your congress critter to get you a VIP pass, make sure you check the wind before you pick the spot to watch from. If the wind is blowing away from you, it's barely audible from many of the possible locations, but if the wind is blowing toward you...
  • by dsraistlin (901406) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:39PM (#15647955)
    I like fireworks and all but is this not just tempting fate as across the US lots of small rockets will be launched for our enjoyment as we wait and watch them explode.
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:39PM (#15647956) Homepage Journal
    I find it funny that the Russians pick a date and launch on that date, but the Yanks pick a date and launch 5 weeks later. The USA worries too much about wind and rain, sure a hurricane might upset the launch, but a bit of rain? It is a massive thing the shuttle. Does anyone know how many deaths the Russian (and USSR) space program has had? Is that more or less then the USA one?
    • by wesley96 (934306) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:47PM (#15647978) Homepage
      It's a bit of apples-to-oranges comparison. Russians do not currently operate a shuttle fleet. They launch the much smaller Soyuz / Progress vehicles, which in turn need less stringent launch conditions.
      • Let's not forget that the US has had some high-profile explosive endings to more than a few shuttle missions (and plenty damn recently in the history of the program, too)

        We're KINDA keen on only killing Americans and associated foreigners we haven't invested millions in already.
        • Where do you get your statistics? By more than a few you mean a total of two. By plenty damn recently in the history of the program you mean one (or half of all of them since you like to pretend that we're talking about a large quantity) was 5 years after the first launch, which happened 25 years ago. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, but your evidence is wrong.
      • ... but when they did have a shuttle (the Buran), it launched (once) in poor weather conditions (going off Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]).
    • by tftp (111690) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:09PM (#15648056) Homepage
      Russian space program lost 4 people in missions, in two Soyuz accidents in 70's, all on descent (one parachute failure when USSR leaders scheduled a flight for a national holiday, for political reasons, instead of launching when ready; and one outer air valve failure when they were brave/foolish enough to descend without light spacesuits.)

      US space program lost 14 people in missions, in two Shuttle accidents, one on launch and another on descent.

      Both programs had various accidents on the ground, not in missions.

    • Well I don't think a lightning strike on the Shuttle would be good...
      • No, but IIRC, lightning is only part of the problem. Ice, wind gusts, etc., all come into play. Taken alone, they're each fairly minor (lightning won't necessarily destroy the shuttle on it's own, but even "minor" skin damage might increase reentry risks), but there's no real good reason to force the schedule.
      • Not really applicable, as they're two different birds, but Apollo 12 took a lightning strike just after liftoff.
    • by ChePibe (882378) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:28PM (#15648106)
      As someone who grew up in Florida, I can attest to the fact that random, intense thunderstorms occur practically everyday in the summer. It's amazing to watch. One moment, all looks well outside. The next, gloomy and overcast. Then, it appears that the very wrath of God has come down upon you - these are serious storms with very strong gusts, lots of lightning, heavy rains, and a bit of hail from time to time. Thirty minutes later, the storm ends, the sun comes out, and it's all good and fine - only even more humid. It's fairly unpredictable. This is why native Floridians don't take Tropical Storms all that seriously - they leave through miniature versions of them frequently in the summer, and they know how to handle them. It's the snowbirds that freak out.

      I imagine weather patterns in Florida are a lot more difficult to predict than they are at Russian launch sites.
      • You forgot the tornado's. :)

        I lived in Florida for years. Some of those storms are awesome. Blinding rain, several lightning strikes per minute, heavy winds.

        The house I grew up in was hit by lightning more times than I can remember. I remember sometimes (at least a few times a summer) lightning would strike the house, and then arc inside the house from the stove to the kitchen sink.

        Once, in one of the freak storms you're describing, I was driving up US Hwy 1
        • We're shopping for the house right now, but one of my qualifications is for it to be out of the flood zones. Oh, one of those pesky things that people forget about until their house gets flooded.

          All those jokes about people buying Florida swampland are true. Only now those people have built houses on that swampland and are making millions.

          •     It's really sad. One beautiful place I found for only $400,000 was built in what is obviously wetlands. Well, obvious if you look at the satellite photo. Maybe it's not obvious if you drove up, but you'd have to be an idiot.

                It's really sad that I'll have to specify "I want a house that won't be flooded when it rains." I expect I'll have to spell it out.
    • by djupedal (584558) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:40PM (#15648135)
      >...a bit of rain...

      The larger tank used to be painted white, until they thought about how heavy that extra coat of paint was, and how the primer color could be used to help heat the main tank on the ground. Now, calculate how much weight 'a bit of rain' would add to an already dew moistened tank and how that would require an immediate recalibration of many main systems. On the surface, it does seem as if NASA overthinks something as simple as punching a hole in the clouds, but the very nature of this particular roman candle is such that there are a myriad of complex issues and sub-systems all demanding attention. Ignore one and what looked simple while at rest can quickly become an unharmonious rage by the ghost in the machine...

      I think the only ones that have any idea the cost in lives paid at Balkinor are the families left without sons/brothers/fathers/husbands/uncles.
    • by mdmoery (875902) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:43PM (#15648142)
      Shuttle has to worry about rain because, unlike the Russians, the shuttle heat shield is 1) exposed during the entire ascent instead of being tucked safely between rocket stages and 2) is made of silica glass that is glued on to the orbiter's belly. Rain=BAD
      • by rs232 (849320) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:46AM (#15649221)
        "Shuttle has to worry about rain because .."

        It isn't rain but lightning that is the problem. The column of ionized gases ejected from a vehicle in assent is highly conductive and makes for a very good earth. Apollo 12 [wikipedia.org] was hit twice in just such an incident. The strike affected the parachute deployment system among other things. They didn't know for sure if it would actually work until the final moments of the descent.
      • How about if they covered the space shuttle with a removable kevlar anti balistic coating that could be easily discarded before they returned to earth. The cost for every shuttle flight is so large that the extra costs would be inconsequential. I would definitely get into the book of world records as the largest car cover ever made. :)
    • I did not realize that the soviets and the US have identical programs in every meaningful way so that a metric like "who has had more deaths" means anything about whether we should launch in the rain or not. I mean, wow; we don't even have to consider who has had more launches in addition?
    • we take the shuttle catastrophies seriously. we've had two. I live Across the river from the cape in titusville, which is one of the couple of cities that provide NASA-KSC's life force. A good percentage of Titusville's jobs come from the space industry, from Lochead Martin, Boeing, United Space Alliance, and NASA itself.

      When the columbia broke up, I can't even describe to you the mood in the town. We were all shellshocked. The space industry employees seemed as if a member of their family had died. T
    • I find it funny that the Russians pick a date and launch on that date
      Perhaps the Russian launch site is near a desert instead of on the Florida coast.
      • by AJWM (19027) on Monday July 03, 2006 @02:24AM (#15648504) Homepage
        The Russians have also been known to launch in the middle of a blizzard.

        That's one thing that basing your launchers on ICBM technology gets you. After all, if it comes down to it, you can't hold up your ICBM launches for a little inclement weather.

        Designing a vehicle with a safe abort mode in all phases of flight would help too (think "commercial aircraft") -- but vertical takeoff/horizontal landing just doesn't do it, and especially not when you've got SRBs that have to burn for two full minutes once lit -- and you can't separate them (or from them) while burning.
    • [quote]In Soviet USA, Shuttles launch you?[/quote] I sooo saw Wile E. Coyote being launched into space in the ejection seat of his ACME spaceship when I read that.
    • The heat shielding tiles are sensitive to ice.

      If they are wet, the water dropplets could freeze in space and break them off.

      Also bad things can happen with lightning hitting tons of jet fuel. Lightning has hit apollo 10 and 11 before however.
    • Do you know what the recommended procedure to de-ice a frozen AK74 is? Wrap it in some blankets and jump on it repeatedly. If a tank is available, alternatively you can run it over the blanketed AK.

      Now try that with an M16.

      Russian technology is often less sophisticated than US technology. But it can often take a lot more stress, and you can fix it fairly easily. You'd be amazed what junk you can find in some Ural trucks used in lieu of spare parts...
    • I find it funny that the Russians pick a date and launch on that date, but the Yanks pick a date and launch 5 weeks later. The USA worries too much about wind and rain, sure a hurricane might upset the launch, but a bit of rain? It is a massive thing the shuttle. Does anyone know how many deaths the Russian (and USSR) space program has had? Is that more or less then the USA one?

      You're all messed up, but since you're a communist/socialist european, that's not surprising. Russia killed over a hundred just in
    • Russian death toll for space exploration is much larger than the US's. The Nedelin disaster accounted for over 100 lives alone and is the largest single loss of life due to the exploration of space.
  • Not A Dupe! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:40PM (#15647960) Journal
    It would be funny, though, considering that it would be Zonk duping himself. =)

    Anyways, they should delay all that they need to and not take any undue risks. We need another shuttle tragedy like someone named GothChick1989 needs another piercing.
  • So (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fimbulvetr (598306)
    So later on down in the article (I know, I know, I read it), it says there are 16 missions left, all having something to do with the ISS. What are these 16 missions going to accomplish? What happens if the 16 are not completed by 2010, when the space program ends? Do other country's programs take over? What happens after that, what's the plan for supplying, repairing, etc, to the ISS?
    • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cooley (261024) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @10:51PM (#15647994) Homepage
      The "space program" doesn't end in 2010, the "shuttle program" is scheduled to be over in 2010. Folks are working on other vehicles to take over. Also yes, other countries (Russia) can make trips to the ISS also.

      Of course, the shuttle can take a much, much larger payload than anything else currently available (I think).
      • The "space program" doesn't end in 2010, the "shuttle program" is scheduled to be over in 2010. Folks are working on other vehicles to take over. Also yes, other countries (Russia) can make trips to the ISS also.

        Yeah, my bad. I meant the shuttle program.
        • by cooley (261024)
          No problem buddy, any other day I might have assumed that's what you meant but I just recently had a conversation with someone who thought is was "crap that we spent all that money on the ISS and now we're not gonna fly into space anymore". :)
      • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

        by tftp (111690) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:27PM (#15648103) Homepage
        The Shuttle is as capable as Atlas V Heavy to LEO (50,000 lbs) among currently active vehicles. Proton is close at 46,000 lbs. However STS can only to to LEO, whereas Proton can (and does) go to geosynchronous orbit, delivering up to 12,000 lbs.)

        Energiya was a modular design, and could be configured to lift up to 400,000 lbs from the ground. It was flown twice in 160,000 lbs configuration (one of those flights launched Buran, which weighted about 80,000 lbs.) Given Energiya's thrust, Buran could lift up to 60,000 lbs in its payload bay, but that never happened because nobody was interested - we are not building starships yet.

        Energiya as such is not manufactured now, but it's engines - RD-180 - are used on Atlas V. The "heavy" option can lift up to 50,000 lbs to the LEO, or 26,000 lbs to the geostationary orbit.

      • There was a plan to make a launch vehicle (unmanned) using 4 of the same boosters that help put the shuttle in orbit; it probably wouldn't be difficult to put together, and would have a huge lofting capability.
      • Of course, the shuttle can take a much, much larger payload than anything else currently available (I think).

        More importantly, the Shuttle can return payloads and experiments to the ground. The Soyuz module has very little space to return payloads. Progress is destroyed during re-entry, as ESA's ATV will be.

        In addition the Shuttle connects to ISS using the US docking port allowing the of transfer large rack-sized payloads into ISS. For example this mission will deliver the MELFI rack payload to ISS (a fr
  • Be serious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:04PM (#15648028) Homepage
    Nobody ought to make jokes until AFTER the shuttle launch, since we don't yet know the morbid details soon to play out that will make the jokes funny or not.
    • Re:Be serious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oneiron (716313)
      The jokes are funny right now, and that's what matters. Enjoy the moment.
    • Why the hell would anyone do that? If nothing bad happens, the jokes will be really lame. If something bad does happen, those who joke about it will be called insensitive clods. The fact that we don't know what's going to happen is what makes the jokes funny.

      And on that note:

      Comedian: "Hey, did you hear the joke about Hao Wu who posted something called 'Be serious' on slashdot?"
      Audience: "Uh, yeah... we just read it."
      Comedian: "Oh, well in that case did you hear the one about his post being marked +5 Ins
      • Audience: "You a funny comedian! Tell us more, but wait until we see what do happen to important space shuttle mission."
    • Re:Be serious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by datafr0g (831498) * <datafrog@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 03, 2006 @01:48AM (#15648439) Homepage
      Nobody ought to make jokes until AFTER the shuttle launch, since we don't yet know the morbid details soon to play out that will make the jokes funny or not.


      I don't think anyone here is laughing and making fun of at the horrors of a potential disaster - that's not funny.

      What is funny is the irony of the situation: On July the 4th, people all over the USA gather and celebrate while watching rockets explode in the sky - AND THEY CHOOSE JULY 4TH TO LAUNCH THE SHUTTLE??
      Now that's Irony.
      • What is funny is the irony of the situation: On July the 4th, people all over the USA gather and celebrate while watching rockets explode in the sky - AND THEY CHOOSE JULY 4TH TO LAUNCH THE SHUTTLE?? Now that's Irony.

        But there is some symbolism too. Not only will a successful launch put Americans back in space, but it will as well signify our freedom to recover from tragedies. I do not think the prior tragedies are really what has held us back from this launch so much as bureaucracy. Please remember:
  • They need to recorded the show down below, if they can see it from space...
  • by tetrahedrassface (675645) on Sunday July 02, 2006 @11:34PM (#15648119) Journal
    "....due to growing weather conditions"
    This just in.. Weather conditions are growing all over the world. Visual, and radar data combined with realtime satellite imagery have proven without a doubt that weather is growing! Scientists have so far been unable to explain why the weather is growing however recent CERN experiments have concluded that if left unchecked weather will soon sweep the entire planet@!

    Save Yourselves!

  • Damn! (Score:1, Funny)

    by TemplesA (984100)
    Another two days I can't change my background. Come on, give me a few new good pictures...
  • "That could be good news for NASA because summer thunderstorms are less likely to be a problem earlier in the day."

    Maybe in Florida. Here in the Midwest we can get the flash-boom of T'storms any time of day or night. Nothing like being woken up at 5 am to a power outage.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Nothing like being woken up at 5 am to a power outage."

      Huh? Do you have a diesel generator somehow attached to your local power grid so that it knows when the power goes out, starts itself up, then generates power for one of those tornado warning sirens (you know, just to keep the neighbors guessing) and fires up the 8,000,000 candle-power spotlight in strobe(!) mode aimed directly at your window? Or what's the deal?
    • Well not so good depending on if it gets pushed back again. They're really hoping for a daytime launch because they need to keep an eye on foam, if they are forced to launch too early the cameras they have all over the SRB's aren't going to get the data they hoped for.

      If there is another problem with that foam, and no camera data because of launching at night (or pre dawn), well thats going to be a major obstacle.

      Its really, really important for the whole space station program that this launch happens, with
  • by powermacx (887715)
    I wonder why are they carrying a MacBook. And Jeff Goldblum.
    • C'mon! It's ID4 10th anniversary, Jeff Goldblum, a Powerbook infecting the alien mothership with a ridiculous virus? Anyone?

      MUST-GO-FASTER!
  • I'll be watching. Perfect day for patriotism.
  • Obviously shining a pocket laser at the shuttle would be considered an act of terrorism, but what about aiming homemade fireworks at it?
  • Why not go out to the desert, somewhere like Arizona, to launch these things? Whose brilliant idea was it to launch from Florida in the summer, pretty much right in hurricane season? Furthermore, how come the weather can delay a launch, but the complaints of engineers are ignored? I think a healthy amount of concern is relevant at this point for NASA and the space program. They have just not had enough money for way too long.
    • "Why not go out to the desert, somewhere like Arizona, to launch these things?"

      Because, in the event of an accident they don't want 1,018,181.8 gallons of liquid oxygen and kerosene crashing into some highly populated city instead of the Atlantic.
    • 1. If the thing explodes on ascent, launching from Florida absolutely ensures that no debris will fall on a populated area. This fact can extend for hundreds of miles. A recent unmanned launch out of Cape Canaveral had Canada up in arms because an ascent trajectory had the rocket coming too close to Newfoundland for their comfort.

      2. There is an enormous benefit to most missions for launching as close to the Equator as you can, so that the missions can take advantage of the extra velocity boost from Eart

  • "Crack found in foam of space shuttle's external fuel tank... Developing... "

    As of Monday AM. NPR says it's a 5 inch crack. I'm not sure if this is a big issue or grandstanding, but it could scrap this launch. Thermal cycling of the tank causes the cracks, they've tanked Discovery twice so this is to be expected. It definitely poses an added element of risk. If they are going to fly, they need to light that candle. Otherwise, stop the song-and-dance routine.

    I want to see them succeed, finish the ISS and ret

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