Feeds

NASA moves fast on hail damage, astronaut madness

Shuttle repairs, gaffer tape and loose nuts

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

NASA has postponed a shuttle launch planned for 15 March after the space vehicle was damaged by a launch-pad hailstorm on Monday.

Engineers monitoring remote camera systems spotted "bright-coloured dings" in the foam insulation covering Shuttle Atlantis' external fuel tank, and yesterday it was announced that the stricken spaceship would be wheeled back under cover for repairs.

"It will be about a month before we can talk about heading back to the launch posture," Shuttle programme head Wayne Hale said.

This is far from the first occasion shuttle flights have been delayed by the forces of nature. Previous snags have included rain leaking into an orbiter wing in 1982, and tank damage inflicted by (presumably exceptionally hungry) woodpeckers in 1995. There have also been numerous other hailstorms and technical delays.

NASA needs to finish the International Space Station before the Shuttle fleet's planned retirement in 2010, so the pressure is on to get Atlantis ready for the next launch window in late April.

The delayed mission, designated STS-117, has as its official slogan "Just Do It – Again". There was no word form NASA yesterday on any change to "Just Do It, Already".

In other space-cadet related news, it was revealed over the weekend that NASA has a written plan to be followed in the event of an astronaut becoming mentally unstable while in space.

This is perhaps just as well in light of recent evidence that the agency's rigorously-selected flight personnel sometimes wig out due to relatively mundane love-triangle issues, never mind the stress of orbital voyaging.

It seems that a troubled astronaut would be ruthlessly duct-taped, fastened down with bungee cord and, if necessary, drugged into submission by fellow crewmembers. But NASA is also a caring employer. The manuals apparently instruct a space-going master-at-arms to "talk with the patient while you are restraining him", and to "explain what you are doing".

The STS-117 crew includes three US-forces colonels, each with the customary American chestful of medals. Even the remaining, relatively geeky PhDs seem a muscular lot, listing various active hobbies such as weightlifting, hunting, and surfing. Duct-taping and syringing one of this bunch isn't going to be simple, suggesting a violent zero-gee donnybrook in the event of an outbreak of lunacy after the mission finally gets off the ground. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.