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Space Shuttle Atlantis Delayed Again 174

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the mom-says-i'm-grounded dept.
eldavojohn writes "An electrical short cause the space shuttle Atlantis to be delayed since a lightning strike to the pad and Tropical Storm Ernesto caused delays. From the article: 'Liftoff was only hours away Wednesday morning when engineers reported a short in one of three fuel cells that supplies electricity for all the on-board systems, including the crew compartment.' It also points out that 'The faulty cell is currently operational even with the short. But after the 2003 Columbia disaster, which killed all seven astronauts, NASA says it has adopted an aggressive, safety-conscious approach to launching.' It causes one to wonder whether pre-Columbia-disaster NASA would have just replaced the fuel cell on the fly without telling anyone — and whether or not that is an ethically sound choice."
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Space Shuttle Atlantis Delayed Again

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  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:32AM (#16065183)
    NASA are presently in conference with the fuel-cell's supplier, Dell.
    • by kingtonm (208158) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:35AM (#16065195)
      Dear Dell Customer,

      Dell has identified a potential issue associated with certain batteries sold with the NASA Shuttle(TM) series. In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and other regulatory agencies, Dell is voluntarily recalling certain Dell-branded batteries with cells manufactured by Sony and offering free replacements for these batteries. Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could pose a risk of fire, explosion, or firey death.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      If you think thats bad, think about the poor Dell guy who has to replace the ISS batteries.
      Nasa were smart and paid for onsite maintenance.
  • If only. (Score:4, Funny)

    by rtyall (960518) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:33AM (#16065186) Homepage
    I bet they wished they bought Duracell now.
  • by interiot (50685) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:33AM (#16065188) Homepage
    Unfortunately the article is a day old... Countdown is continuuing [space.com] for a launch this morning (Friday morning).
    • by keithmoore (106078) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:49AM (#16065245) Homepage
      for news about something like the shuttle, where the status changes from day to day,
      it really pays to check a primary source. like
      http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/ind ex.html [nasa.gov]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lxs (131946)
      Thanks for that info. Between the state of the shuttle program and the state of Slashdot, I didn't know whether this was an old article, a dupe or Yet Another Shuttle Delay.
  • Tad unfair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StuBeck (983120) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:34AM (#16065191)
    I think its a tad unfair to question what may or may not have happened years ago. They learned and are acting on the safe side now.
    • by khallow (566160)

      I don't. It doesn't appear to me that NASA has learned whatever there was to learn from the previous accidents. Ie, there seems to be a well-established disfunctional life cycle of a NASA disaster now. Lots of irresolute soul-searching immediately after the disaster. A couple years later they finally resolve to start launching again with extremely conservative rules in place. As the number of launches since the last disaster go up and the need to actually launch the backlog grows, the rules get weakened. Ev

  • If it's broken ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gaima (174551) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:34AM (#16065194)
    ... replace it.
    As long as they test it properly after replacement, what's the problem?
    • by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:36AM (#16065199) Homepage
      The problem is filling out the paperwork in triplicate. They may have enough time to safely repair the shuttle for launch, thye just don't have the time to do all the paperwork. This is why private space endeavors are they way of the future.
      • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:56AM (#16065272)
        The problem is filling out the paperwork in triplicate. They may have enough time to safely repair the shuttle for launch, thye just don't have the time to do all the paperwork. This is why private space endeavors are they way of the future.
        So you would be quite happy with the batteries being replaced with a cheaper alternative which might work almost as well because the savings made will increase share dividends.

        For those who insist that the private sector is always preferable my I remind you what happened to the Herald of Free Enterprise http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herald_of_Free_Enterp rise [wikipedia.org] or, for that matter, how much better UK trains are running in the Hatfield area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield_rail_crash [wikipedia.org] since privatisation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alioth (221270)
          Both of those incidents could have happened either to a private or publically owned company - they all boil down to negligence of which there is plenty in both the private and public sector and it doesn't really make your argument one way or the other!
          • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:29AM (#16065367)
            From the Wikipedia article (emphasis mine)
            The Hatfield rail crash was a railway accident that occurred on 17 October 2000, at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK. Although the accident had a low death toll in comparison to other railway incidents in British history, Hatfield's historical significance has become much greater, since it demonstrated many of the flaws present in the mid 1990s privatisation of the British railway system and ultimately triggered its partial renationalisation.
            As someone who was a civil servant and now works in the private sector (my job was sold) I have seen both sides of the fence. I'm not saying that the public sector is better, but I know that the private sector has just as many problems and is not a panacea. In very broad brush terms the public sector tends to err on the side of caution, and hence fail to achieve anything, the private sector is so profit driven that it cuts too many corners. I know which attitude I want behind me if I ever fly on the shuttle.
            • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:42AM (#16065411)
              In a nutshell, better to not go up than to blow up.
            • by goldcd (587052)
              Private operators competing, with serious regulators with f'in big teeth.
              Look at airlines - we might all bitch and complain about the odd late flight, but by and large (especially considering the technology/logistics etc) involved they work/are safe/and cheap(ish).
              • by jskiff (746548)
                Cheap(ish)? The other day I was looking for a flight from London to Amsterdam. BA's price? $1 USD. Of course, with all of the requisite taxes it came to $130 USD, but that is dirt cheap for a round trip flight.
        • by khallow (566160)
          Infrastructure often gets neglected since it tends to be a public good or because the company or government agency can push risk into the future. However, I'm not clear why this is considered a problem of private rather than public organizations. Government agencies, eg, NASA, often run systems, eg, the Space Shuttle, with a bad safety record.
      • The issue is not having to deal with the gov. The real issue is that all capitalistic incentives are removed from the current space system. In fact, LMart, Boeing, Rockwell are all milking the system. This is part of what Eisenhower warned us about. In fact, the merger between lmart and boeing rocket divisions has to be one of the bigger disasters coming.

        The funny thing is, that, by the time, the new orion is operational, we will be going to the moon, but in a ba-330 with crews of 10-20 ppl. All that will
    • As long as they test it properly after replacement, what's the problem?

      One article I saw said the faulty pump is between the payload bay and the heat shield of the spacecraft. You would have to disassemble the whole stack and much of the orbiter to replace one little motor. That might be six months of work and if you think you can get by safely without this motor it may be worth the risk.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      well, it depends on the Accident avoidance response and practivity committee findings. They will be submited to the Budget Committee, the Inventory Committee, the Human Resources committee, the Technical Services committee the Union Shop Boss, the Public Affairs Committee, OSHA, and any Congressional Executive, State, Commisision, Department, or internal Houston advisory staff who has a "need to know flag" on their respective forms. Then once signed off, by each (this shoudl take 6 months) the one ille
  • On again? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:37AM (#16065202)
    CBC radio is saying it's on for today. This is in spite of the fact that the chief safety officer objects. They say they can go with only two fuel cells and don't need the third one. The spokesman I heard said that replacing the fuel cell had its own risks. Could this thing be so complicated that they can never get the whole thing working at the same time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Detritus (11846)
      It's complex system. You often see similar issues with modern jet aircraft. There are so many things than can degrade or fail that it is unusual for 100% of the systems to be working perfectly. You end up making a list of what systems must be working before takeoff. That's also why there are redundant systems. You don't want to be in a situation where you are one failure away from a catastrophe. You don't want to be running on a single fuel cell. With two fuel cells, you can lose one, abort the mission and
      • by 0123456 (636235)
        "With three fuel cells, you can lose one and safely continue the mission."

        No you can't. Every mission that's lost one fuel cell has been brought back early, because they can't risk losing another.

        Given how heavy the current payload is, you seriouly don't want to have to bring it back to Earth unless you really, really have to (e.g. an early engine failure during the launch where there's no alternative).
        • by khallow (566160)

          No you can't. Every mission that's lost one fuel cell has been brought back early, because they can't risk losing another.

          They can't afford to lose *three*. The problem they have to worry about is that the other two fuel cells may fail in the near future for the same reason. I imagine that's why they don't bother with four fuel cells. Otherwise, you'd be able to allow two fuel cells to fail before the mission is compromised.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by samsonov (581161)
      CBC radio is saying it's on for today. This is in spite of the fact that the chief safety officer objects. They say they can go with only two fuel cells and don't need the third one. The spokesman I heard said that replacing the fuel cell had its own risks. Could this thing be so complicated that they can never get the whole thing working at the same time?

      From the looks of it, it might be another 24 hours (credit to CNN the bias news source):

      The scheduled late-morning liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis
  • by Sunburnt (890890) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:37AM (#16065204)
    ...why, exactly, our country's spaceport is still located in a state known for nothing so much as lightning and storms? I'm silly enough to live in Florida right now too, but I'd be moving even sooner if I had a multimillion dollar vehicle parked in my garage. Everything seems to point to Florida's climate worsening throughout the foreseeable future.

    Ha, I'm just kidding. Congress would love to see NASA inoperable so they can go back to spending money on bridges to nowhere (Thanks, Ted Stevens!)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:42AM (#16065220)
      "why, exactly, our country's spaceport is still located in a state known for nothing so much as lightning and storms?"

      Uh...because being as close to the equator as possible has advantagous trajectory characteristics for many important orbits and with a trajectory heading eastward one needs to be on the east coast so as to minimize time over land while still at low altitudes?
      • The obvious is Hawaii.

        Southern Arizona is damn good. Perhaps you lose a tad with the latitude, but the air is thin (you could launch from well over 5000 feet) and dry. You'll never get worse than a very rare thunderstorm. The air is so dry that ice won't be much of a concern. You fly over isolated desert, which is decent for recovering little shuttle bits.

        • by mgblst (80109)
          There must be huge costs to getting all the equipment to Hawaii, compared with mainland USA.
        • by khallow (566160)

          No it's not. Hawaii isn't much further south than Florida is. And as another sibling pointed out, it's expensive too. The Florida launch site is also attached to a lot of manufacturing. Ie, you only need to ship stuff by rail or around the tip of Florida (for the external tanks from New Orleans) to get it to NASA.

          Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are even further south than Hawaii. And they're much closer to the existing manufacture base than Hawaii is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Intron (870560)
        Don't we have some land in Cuba? Are we using it for anything important?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      why, exactly, our country's spaceport is still located in a state known for nothing so much as lightning and storms?

      Ummm because its in the extreme south east of the country. Launches to the north give you a high inclination orbit. Launches further west expose landmass to bits of spacecraft in the event of an abort.

      I could suggest that they launch from Cape York [wikipedia.org] but the weather is pretty bad [wikipedia.org] in that general area as well.

      • I wonder if anyone has ever considered opening a launch pad even farther south, like Mexico, or Central America? Would an army of engineers & technicians need to move there permanently, or could a (relatively) small crew handle setting up a launch?

        I know, Congress would allow NASA to launch from a foreign country when pigs fly, but a private company could have more flexibility.
    • The spaceport is located in Florida at least partially for two reasons: (1) the extreme easterly location means that launches in the direction of Earth's rotation are over water, reducing hazards for persons and property on the ground. (2) it's closer than most states on America's mainland to the equator, which makes for more efficient launches (more payload can be lifted into a given orbit).
    • by onion2k (203094) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:53AM (#16065261) Homepage
      You save a huge amount of money if you launch from a geographic location that is near the equator, heading east (so you get the benefit of the Earth's rotation, which saves fuel and allows for an increased payload), and is far enough away from people that you don't get bits of rocket landing in residential areas if it all goes wrong. Being near the equator also puts you in a good position for a geostationary orbit.
      • by FleaPlus (6935) *
        You save a huge amount of money if you launch from a geographic location that is near the equator, heading east (so you get the benefit of the Earth's rotation, which saves fuel and allows for an increased payload), and is far enough away from people that you don't get bits of rocket landing in residential areas if it all goes wrong. Being near the equator also puts you in a good position for a geostationary orbit.

        Cape Canaveral is at a latitude of 29N. Vandenberg, the site of the West Coast Space Shuttle l [wikipedia.org]
    • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:11AM (#16065317)
      >a state known for nothing so much as lightning and storms?
      And oranges. It's a well kept secret that rocket fuel is actually distilled orange juice. What colour is the shuttle's fuel tank? Orange. To hide the leaks.
  • by CiRu5 (859713) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:38AM (#16065208) Homepage
    This article is a little late wouldn't you say, the shuttle launches this morning baring any further delays. Also I believe they are choosing to fly with the damaged fuel cell as it is not a threat to the safety of the crew.
    Good Update: http://www.spacetoday.net/Summary/3484 [spacetoday.net]
    Countdown ticker: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/ind ex.html [nasa.gov]
  • by saboola (655522) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:43AM (#16065226)
    ..or maybe it's the Goa'uld Ha'tak mothership sitting a couple hundred miles above Port Canaveral preventing the launch. You can fool me Nasa, I watch television.
    • Dude, get over it. They blew up the Goauld ships two (three?) seasons ago. Colonel (now General) O'Neil used the Ancient Control Chair they found in Antartica. He can control it because he has a special gene. It shoots these really cool yellow drones.
    • by Mercano (826132)

      When the first two motherships showed up in orbit:

      "Perhaps when the warships of your world attack... Surely you have such vessels?"
      "Well, we have a number of... shuttles."
      "These shuttles, they are a formidable craft?"
      "Oh yeah. Yeah... Bad day."
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:53AM (#16065263)
    Lotsa questionable statements in this article:
    • There's very little likelyhood the lightning strike is directly connected to the fuel cell problem.
    • It's not a "short". Everything isnt a "short". A shorted fuel cell would be totally unusable.
    • NASA, now or then, can't replace the fuel cell without major trouble-- the whole thing has to be taken back to the assembly building, anything in the cargo bay has to be unloaded, the cargo bay floor has to be taken up-- major hassle. Not something that can be done on the Q.T.
    • The shuttle has *three* fuel cells, so it's not a major problem if one is acting a teensy bit unusual.
    • There are plenty of safety issues with *not* launching, parts tend to age quickly when out in the humid Florida sun. It's not clear that delaying launch is a ssafety improvement.
    • by 0123456 (636235)
      "The shuttle has *three* fuel cells, so it's not a major problem if one is acting a teensy bit unusual."

      But if one stops working, then mission rules say they have to return to Earth within a couple of days in case another one stops working. It just seems bizarre to me that the new supposedly 'safety-conscious' NASA is going to fly with a possibly duff fuel cell and possibly duff fuel tank sensors, apparently because 'it's never caused a disaster before'.
      • by khallow (566160)

        But if one stops working, then mission rules say they have to return to Earth within a couple of days in case another one stops working. It just seems bizarre to me that the new supposedly 'safety-conscious' NASA is going to fly with a possibly duff fuel cell and possibly duff fuel tank sensors, apparently because 'it's never caused a disaster before'.

        But all three have to stop working before it's a problem. And while some people dislike the attitude, "It's never caused a disaster before" is a fair reas

    • It is a short, in the power to the motor that pumps Freon coolant through the fuel cell. One part of the 3-phase power is shorted. The motor can still run with 2 phases left.

      They can indeed replace the thing at the pad. They'd initially thought not, but now they think that it would be possible. The device weighs 200 to 300 pounds. I don't know how they expect to be able to get at it. They'd have to get somebody out on a device (bucket? platform? crane?) in the payload bay, somehow get behind the cargo, remo
      • >It is a short, in the power to the motor that pumps Freon coolant through the fuel cell. Very dubious information!

        I've never seen a "short" in one phase that didnt pop the three breakers.

        >One part of the 3-phase power is shorted. The motor can still run with 2 phases left.

        There's no such thing as "2-phase" power. You lose one phase, you're left with two wires, across which there's a single-phase of sqrt(3) of the voltage. And no, a 3-phase motor can't run with one phase.

        • by khallow (566160)
          And no, a 3-phase motor can't run with one phase.

          This isn't your Mother's refrigerator motor. I bet that NASA has indeed engineered it so that the coolant motor continues to function with one shorted lead.

        • i'd think a 3 phase motor that was wye connected with a neutral wire would still run though (assuming it wasn't on a common trip breaker)?

    • parts tend to age quickly when out in the humid Florida sun. I didn't know Florida's sun was humid. I didn't know Florida had it's own sun, for that matter.

      Individual cells in car batteries short out all the time. Sometimes they still work, with reduced capacity or voltage, or they don't work at all. Fuel Cells can and do have the same thing happen.

      Parts tend to age and wear faster because of the salt in the humid Florida air, not because of the humidity. Salt water corrodes metal and electronics much
  • Dupe!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mangu (126918) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:05AM (#16065302)
    How long will Slashdot keep reposting this "Space Shuttle Delayed" story?
  • If Apollo 12 (and the lighting strike) were to happen under the current safety-focused NASA brass, its likely that NASA would have ordered an immediate abort without even considering what went wrong with the CSM (or failing that, ordered some kind of abort from earth orbit in case something fried)
  • by Chacham (981) *
    I've always wondered how things that cost millions and millions can be so shaky. I kind of understand, but it just seems odd that their hardware is so sensitive.

    Can't they just hire Woz to build it for them?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AlecC (512609)
      It's just the total complexity of the system. Most successful systems are simple enought hat, at some level, one person (such as Woz) can understand the whole system; and the purts on which that system are well understood and well characterised. In the se of the Shuttle, there too many parts, and too many of the parts are designed for that system alone, for anyone to understand the whole thing.
      • by Chacham (981) *
        for anyone to understand the whole thing.

        That actually make some sense. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hcob$ (766699)
      It's not that it's a "shaky" piece of hardware, per se. It's just there are SO MANY points of failure, and after a few really bad problems, they've learned to be almost overly cautious with every failure.

      An electrical supply on the ground goes down, you're fine. You just wait for a new one. An electical supply goes down in space, it's likely you're going to face serious challenges just staying alive.
      • by Chacham (981) *
        Yeah, but isn't it something another million couldn't fix? It's not like they have a realistic udget or something.

    • Complexity.

      Hazardous environment (vacuum, extreme cold, extreme heat, vibration).

      Very little of regular hardware would survive well in such situations.
      • by Chacham (981) *
        Very little of regular hardware would survive well in such situations.

        But what if the nails were banged in with $200 hammers?

        Seriously, why can't a few more dollars fix it? Or are we that incompetent even after forty years?
  • It causes one to wonder whether pre-Columbia-disaster NASA would have just replaced the fuel cell on the fly without telling anyone -- and whether or not that is an ethically sound choice.

    Sorry, but who cares?

    Was that a questioning of their historical policies having been ethically sound? Ummm...
  • by Snowtide (989191) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:41AM (#16065408)
    Well here goes my positive karma.
    The summary asks if it would be ethical to replace the cell or not without telling anybody. Who does the author want them to tell? The only people who have an ethical need to know the conditions of the shuttle and the risks associated with them are the crew in the shuttle and the ground crew. These people, the crew in particular, are taking the risks and making the decisions. These two groups of people are likely to know anyway, astronauts, especially the flight crew, tend to be technical people, it goes with the job. Read about the boring parts of an astronaut's job, including hundreds of hours getting to know the details of the shuttle and the booster assembly. It is often said Murphy was an aircraft engineer, astronauts know this. Space travel is risky and can be dangerous. From Florida to orbit and back is hell on materials, electronics and mechanics. The decision to go or not go under a set of conditions belongs to the crew on the shuttle and the ground crew.
    Any errors in grammar, spelling and tone are due to my uncaffinated state. Getting my breakfast apple and Dew now.
    • by khallow (566160)

      The only people who have an ethical need to know the conditions of the shuttle and the risks associated with them are the crew in the shuttle and the ground crew.

      As does the US voter. NASA is a US government agency and as such is beholden to the US public just like every other government agency. So legally (which after all is applied ethics), it should be required to report decisions which materially affect the safety of the Space Shuttle unless that would compromise a legitimate national interest (eg,

  • No, it does not cause me to wonder, it causes YOU to wonder. Please leave the passive-voice editorializing out of this... or was this a feeble attempt by an Editor to actually edit?
  • The shuttle Atlantis is set for liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 11:41 a.m. EDT this morning. This "news post" is a little delayed. See NASA Launch Blog [nasa.gov] and NASA Online TV for up-to-date info.
    • by igb (28052)
      ``Shuttle Delayed'' is like ``Earth in Orbit Around Sun'' --- always true, to the point of redundancy. Has any Shuttle every launched on time?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's not a short in the fuel cell. Its a short in 1 phase of a 3 phase pump motor that supplies coolant to the fuel cell. The pump is currently limping along on 2 phases. If this pump looses another phase, it will be unable to pump and the fuel cell must be shutdown within 9 minutes. With the loss of 1 fuel cell, the mission must be aborted, and shuttle return to earth.

    Nasa has said in the past that it would be unsafe to retreve the hubble and bring it back to earth because of its weight causing problems du
  • Mod article down? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moracity (925736)
    Slashdot needs article moderation ala digg. This article is two days old and confusing considering TODAY'S launch is still on as of right now.
  • Atlantis is T minus 2 hours and 30 minutes from launch and still counting as I post this. They were delayed YESTERDAY! Did the frickin editor READ the story??
  • by AsnFkr (545033) on Friday September 08, 2006 @09:21AM (#16065585) Homepage Journal
    SCE to Aux.
    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Friday September 08, 2006 @09:30AM (#16065636) Homepage Journal

      The poster of the above comment is a friend of mine, aside from being a pre-space shuttle space program junkie and also a big fan of apollo 12, and he explains the above post as this (over IM):


      HIM: man, im a fucking dork.
      ME: how's that?
      HIM: http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=196049 &cid=16065585 [slashdot.org]
      HIM: gotta read the story
      HIM: problem is, no one at /. is gonna get it.
      HIM: basically, like 90 seconds into the apollo 12 flight it was hit by lightning and the entire computer stopped working
      HIM: the fix was a switch labled SCE, and to flip it to aux to basically power cycle the computer.
      ME: heh
      ME: you know your shit.
      HIM: Apollo 12 is the shit.
      HIM: its my specialty.
      HIM: haha
      HIM: im *that* guy on /. that has a absurd amount of knowedge about one small area of things that are discussed.
      HIM: and its useless information.


      I figured those of us who haven't spent weeks in the Air and Space museum, or read the audio transcripts from all available NASA flights, would want an explanation.

      ~Wx
      • Eh, not *quite* right.

        The computer didnt need rebooting, it was a problem in some Signal Conditioning Equipment.

        They were getting screwy telemetry data downloaded. One of the guys on the ground remembered something similar from a practice run, and suggested this unorthodox maneuver.

    • John Aaron -- is that you?
  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Friday September 08, 2006 @09:42AM (#16065726) Journal
    They should make a Star Trek show that is realistic. The crew never fights other species, but instead are constantly doing maintenance work on the ship. The whole show takes place only 200 miles from Earth because that's as far as they can go before something goes wrong.

    It can start off with a captains log, but there's a computer error, so he never gets to complete it. Instead he calls IT to fix the problem. While that's going on the viewer is taken to the engine room where there are all sorts of problems.

    I see it as a drama/comedy. There could even be a sick bay that is constantly busy, but the doctors have enough time to have love triangles and all sorts of personal drama amongst the already suspensful disasters.
  • The scene in Star Wars IV where Hans Solo's ship sputters when he trys to take it to light speed reminds me of NASA's three stooges attempts. Too bad NASA lacks a "Chewie" who can punch the right bulkhead and get things running again.
  • by igb (28052)
    The shuttle is hideously unreliable, and using it for planned purposes is futile in the way that attempts to drive long distances in ancient cars are futile. The task it's carrying out is solely there to act as a purpose for the Shuttle, and the Shuttle is only kept going to carry out that task. NASA will continue the grim circus of getting an obsolescent collection of systems that no-one still working there actually understands flying, and every once in a while one of their diminishing stock of orbiters

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