Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hungarian Revolution 50th pre-Anniversary, More on STS-121 

Hungary, 1956 commemorated
My Way News - Bush Pays Tribute to Hungarian Revolution
President Bush is paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the brutal Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolt in November, 1956 a few months early.
I learned the details of the 1956 revolt back in my Texas A&M days, when a graduate school housemate left me a copy of "The bridge at Andau" in a box of used books. The images of children fighting tanks, and would-be revolutionaries who convinced themselves that the Americans would appear on the horizon just in time to save them are still quite vivid. It took another thirty years, thousands of dead, and suffering we may never fully comprehend, before the Soviets finally left Hungary.

More on STS-121, or how NASA learned to stop worrying and fly with “technically unacceptable risks”....
FOXNews.com [AP]- NASA Engineer: Shuttle Scheduling Trumped Safety Concerns
Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Officials tell reporters about 'no-go' shuttle launch votes
Chief of NASA Engineering Christopher Scolese continues his dissent over the decision to schedule the launch of STS-121 for July 1 despite unresolved safety concerns such as shedding from the ET “ice/frost ramps”. It is worrisome that both Scolese and O’Conner apparently view this matter as a risk to the orbiter, but not the crew. But because NASA chief administrator Griffin decided that the ISS “safe haven” option mitigated the risk to the crew, O’Conner says,

“...I felt like I was not going to lie down in the flame trench or throw my badge down.”
NASA associate administrator for space flight, Bill Gerstenmaier, had some even more bizzarre things to say, such as:
“I'm just as concerned about protecting the hardware as I am the crew....”
Gerstenmaier admitted, however, that “...Discovery's flight will be the first in shuttle history with a system officially classified as probable/catastrophic, that is, one that poses a technically unacceptable risk.”
The decision to launch evidently was based on the conclusion that it would take too long to actually fix the “ice/frost ramps”, and the impact on the ISS construction schedule overshadowed the concerns. After all, if anything bad that they’ve predicted happens on ascent, the crew can always hole up on the poorly maintained, poorly supplied, undermanned, technically negligent Space Station until another Shuttle or several Soyuz spacecraft built by a massively underfunded Russian company can come get them....
But not everything about this is overwhelmingly negative. Two important NASA managers dissented in a very important decision about manned spaceflight, and have not yet been fired, harrassed or idled until health problems forced them to retire to avoid killing themselves, or re-purposed to basement broom closets, and superior managers who dismissed their opinions have yet to receive special honors or promotions. Progress!

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