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    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Shuttle On Queue...

    Stardate 4227.6

    The shuttle sits poised, again. The clock is a little off, as there seems to be some scheduled pauses in the countdown. I wonder if they should be worried about them :)

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The countdown is under way for the first space shuttle mission in 2 1/2 years — a mission whose main aim is to make sure the problems of the last disastrous shuttle flight can be caught and perhaps corrected.

    After fits and starts, NASA says it has changed its hardware and its "safety culture" enough to resume flights after the breakup of the shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1, 2003, which killed all seven astronauts and brought America's human spaceflight program to a halt.

    Investigators say flying foam insulation from Columbia's external fuel tank knocked out a portion of the orbiter's left wing just after launch. During re-entry, 16 days later, superheated gases entered through the hole and destroyed the shuttle from within, the investigation concluded.

    The clock being shown is superimposed over the photo and NASA tv coverage as the clock at Kennedy Space Center actually is incapable of displaying more than a 24 hour countdown. However, liftoff is scheduled for 3:51 pm on Wednesday.

    NASA assures us that their focus has shifted now from recovery and investigation to redesign, improvement and now a new mission... The big concern this time seems to be thunderstorms. If the launch is delayed, it may be as late as September before they have another window.

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