Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Honey, Did You Fill the Tank?

The first space shuttle launch in 2 1/2 years was delayed today because they forgot to fill 'er up. NASA claims it was a faulty fuel gauge, but that seems unlikely with all the money they've spent building the thing. Of course, it could be a GM product. At any rate, I'm guessing someone ran a few errands and didn't top it off before parking it on the launch pad. I even have a prime suspect. This Washington Post article gives us a clue:
"All I can say is shucks," deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said at a news conference of grim-faced NASA managers.

On a more serious note, the article goes on to say:
Similar fuel-gauge problems cropped up intermittently during a test of Discovery back in April. The external fuel tank, cables and other electronics were replaced, and even though NASA could not explain the failure, officials thought the problem was resolved and pressed ahead with launch.

Just a day earlier, the window cover caused damage to some of Discovery's thermal tiles _ the very thing that NASA had worked so hard to avoid after Columbia's wing was pierced at liftoff by a chunk of foam insulation from the fuel tank. Discovery's tiles were quickly replaced.

And we're actually sending people up in these things? Maybe it's time NASA gave Richard Branson a call.