Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Does the Space Shuttle Need AAA?

Just to update my earlier rant on the Space Shuttle Discovery, it blasted off finally. And guess what, MORE debris "just fell off" the shuttle, causing damage somewhere, perhaps the "heat shield." Hope those astronauts have updated AAA cards! Someone is going to have to show theirs when the Emergency Service shows up for the tow. ALSO! The BBC is suggesting that "it appears the tip of the shuttle's external fuel tank also hit a bird." Ha! This is exactly the sort of mishap I was speculating about in my earlier post. Birds are not smart enough to get out of the way, and of course the engineers forgot to install their "bird shields" along with their heat shields. But not to worry. They've also installed a specialized "robotic arm" that is designed to snake its way to the back of the shuttle and scratch anyone's butt that may be itching. (Do you ever wonder how astronauts do that in their spacesuits?) This robotic arm can also apparently look for damage that may pose problems upon re-entry, of the sort that caused the previous shuttle to self-destruct. I am thinking I need a robotic arm in my van. I could use it for a variety of tasks, such as picking up the kids' toys that fall to the floor at an inopportune moment. (They then proceed to wail about it for the next 30 miles or until I pull over and retrieve the toy.) Also it could serve them their drinks and food when we're doing drive-through McDonald's. And I could turn off those overhead lights that they flick on! Yes, I definitely could benefit from having a robotic arm at my disposal, and possibly a spare astronaut to operate it correctly. I will immediately add it to my birthday wish list, along with an Instant Battery Charger. As you know, a couple weeks ago the Space Shuttle did not take off as scheduled due to a minor fuel gauge problems. Like those astronauts need to know how much fuel is left! Once you're up there, you either have enough to coast home, or you don't. No sense getting anxious about it! If they kept the tank topped off and got the oil changed regularly, they wouldn't need to be so obsessed with the gauges. Anyway, within days of THAT delay, we were all packed up in our own white van, ready to motor to the Orlando Airport with the kids and luggage. Suddenly, our trusty 9-year-old van wouldn't start! Can you imagine? I think it was just perhaps copying the space shuttle's peevishness. So we had to unbuckle the kids, unwedge the luggage, transfer the small change for the tolls, and hurriedly get rid of a mound of paper trash that had accumulated in Hubby's car that sort of made him look like he had a papier mache passenger. (Which might be a good thing in California's commuting lanes, but really does not benefit us here.) So the shuttle and our van are even MORE alike than I had originally suggested. Now, however, the NASA people appear to be fuming about their "foam problem." You know, the fact that it crumbles upon takeoff, sort of like the way those white coffeecups do if you bite down too hard on the rim. And no one wants the astronauts floating around in the cosmic coffee, if you know what I mean. In fact, I previously mentioned that some expert said the shuttle could NOT withstand a hole in the heat shield as big as a standard fingernail. Well I think now they're saying they've got a gouge about one and a half inches big. Don't know about you, but that's bigger than MY fingernail. Is someone sweating over the gauges up there? Maybe, just maybe, it's time to end the space shuttle program and spend the money on kids without health care. I'm sure they enjoy the occasional blastoffs, but unless they start developing vaccines in space or coming up with cures for cancer, I think the whole thing is an expensive entertainment on the order of Evel Knievel. And he was lucky he never crashed and burned.


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