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Saturday, July 02, 2005

NASA Investigator: "Shuttle too Dangerous"

Today in an article in the Houston Chronicle an investigator for NASA stated that the Shuttle is "too dangerous" even with modifications -- and needs to be replaced ASAP. The safety of a lot of our astronauts is on the line because the next flight is scheduled a few days from now.

Although NASA has done what it can with what it has, I oppose sending our astronauts up in the Shuttle again - until there is a 21st century replacement.

The Shuttle is 24-years old! How many of you are driving a 24-year-old car? Do you remember the Hawaiian airline flying an old aircraft several years ago when the top of the cabin peeled off above the passengers in flight? The Shuttle is operating on 1970's technology (it first launched in '81).

I still vividly remember the explosion of the Challenger in 1986, two years after Mr. DeLay was elected Congressman of this district that has always included parts of Clear Lake, NASA's base.

So if our Congressman is such a "space nut" why are we flying quarter century old Shuttles when he’s been in office nearly as long?

Mr. Griffin, NASA’s new administrator, is a major improvement from having a “bean counter” in charge of a high tech enterprise. A new Shuttle replacement is his first priority after getting the Shuttle flying again. But the investigator says that even 1 more flight of these antiques is extremely dangerous.

Mr. Griffin just took office. He hasn't been in charge of funding NASA and its priorities for the last two decades. This is the leadership we have - perfectly content until the situation has become a Titanic crisis and overdue for a change (like our roads and commuter rail development, etc.).

Do you remember the Columbia crashed in 2003? I spent the day at Fox TV watching those horrible tapes as their “aviation expert” (this space nut pilot was all they could get on short notice). My Civil Air Patrol teammates flew hundreds of hours in the recovery effort, looking for the remains of 7 astronauts.

I do not want to do that ever again – it was too painful. Even more painful was NASA’s admission that they never looked for the hole in the wing after the launch “because we couldn’t do anything about it anyway.” Fortunately, with Mr. Griffin that attitude is gone (we hope).

If I had been in Congress the last 20 years and had the influence Mr. DeLay has had, our astronauts would already be flying second-generation space machines instead of these death traps. The remaining Shuttles aren't due for replacement until 2010 - when they are 30 years old! They should already be at the Smithsonian.

Our astronauts are too valuable to risk on another Shuttle disaster, which is as avoidable as a crash of a 24-year old computer.

We are the richest country in the world, so why are we asking people to risk their lives going into space with 70’s technology? I oppose sending our astronauts up in the Shuttle again until there is a replacement. We have had a failure in (funding) leadership that makes it too great a risk.

We don’t need a third Shuttle crash for Congress to wake up and act.

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