back to article Space shuttle Endeavour launch delayed until at least May 8

NASA has once again delayed the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, as it works to correct the electrical problem that postponed Friday's original launch attempt. The shuttle will now launch no earlier than May 8 (next Sunday). This past Friday, shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach scrubbed the scheduled 3:37pm …

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Joke

How Much More Training

They have been doing this for thirty odd years & it's the last flight, sounnds a bit like retaking your driving test the day before surrendering it.

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It's not the last Shuttle flight.

That "honour" belongs to Atlantis next month.

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This much

Well the shuttle Endeavour has been 'doing this' for 19 years. I doubt any of the crew have been training for that long let alone 30 years. I don't think any of the crew would like this to be their last flight.

I've never heard of any crew who complained that they were over-trained.

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It's not the last Shuttle flight. #

> That "honour" belongs to Atlantis next month.

Surely that depends on how far the Endeavour launch slips?

At the current moment in time the launch date is where Endeavour is supposed to be - in free fall.

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Re It's not the last Shuttle flight.

NASA has switched Shuttle missions at least once but several months before launch. Even if Endeavour has to roll back to the VAB (which the current problem doesn't require). it will launch first.

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Anonymous Coward

I always wondered...

... why every zit and fart at the shuttle launch site would be world news.

But it's obvious, really. Quite the opposite of cutting edge tech, the things are bloody ramshackle. 'Twas a nice idea in the 70s, but even then a basket case AND poster child of epically poor management --that Feynmann so eloquently showed us-- and never really flew as well or as often as it should. Verily, these things, they're pigs, and lo and behold, with sufficient thrust they do fly. After a fashion.

Is this really the best we can do to try and get out of the well?

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It's easy for you to say, you're not the one who's flying it

Would you be so dismissive of NASA's understandable and laudable caution, if you were slated to be in one of the seven crew seats when Endeavour launches?

No, I thought not.

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How many components are there in the Shuttle?

It runs into the hundreds of thousands, every one of which has a likelihood of failure, put enough of them together it's incredible that a machine of this complexity can ever be made to work. The Shuttle is probably too complex, but it is far from ramshackle.

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Whereas I ...

... always wondered why more people didn't grasp the enormity of throwing a handful of people into Earth orbit using technology.

I guess it's down to the usual thing - a failure of imagination.

That and a lack of education as to what you get for your nickle-a-year investment in Space Tech.

And in a world with Google and Wikipedia there's no un-lame excuse for that.

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Anonymous Coward

The reactions made me laugh, and sad.

Would I be happy to be not be blown to bits? Sure. But that is not a valid counter to the observation that the bloody thing is ramshackle. Worse, as Feynmann showed us, NASA management wasn't all that cautious. Which then can be traced to complete misunderstanding of risk metrics and such. Come one man, space age tech and the managers running the show completely lack even the most basic engineering background.

Besides, yes, that space age thing has brought many a wonderful improvement. But most of those came in back in the 60s and 70s. They've been stagnating for coming on 30 years now. That tech hasn't much improved and hasn't become more reliable and hasn't made flying to space all that easier. The fscking blue prints aren't even in metric. "Too expensive." The poor things should've been put out of our misery 20 years back, with a nod and wave of thanks and a better, cheaper replacement named in their honour.

Where is the replacement shuttle?

One with less parts, if that's the way to make it more reliable, cheaper, and quicker to run again. Recall that this vehicle was to be re-usable. It is, after a fashion. But not very much. It's not efficient, not economical, not easy to launch, and a whole host of other things it also isn't. "Useful", for one.

_The Spirit of St. Louis_ did a, for that time, unimaginably big thing. But you can't run an airline service with it. 30 years after it we had regular inter-continental service. What do we have in the space age category now? Poor counters to the observation that we're still stuck with the "we can go into space with a lot of trouble, maybe, if the celestial AND earthly weather's just right" age and -mindset.

"Well, you'd be happy if you're one of seven speshul people getting to fly in that thing that it won't blow up." Not the strongest of arguments. As the odds would inexplicably have it, I am one of the seven billion odd minus 7 other people. Neither is "too many parts man, too many parts". Engineering problem. Go fix. Or, "you're just not starry-eyed enough". Yesh well, if that is the limit of your imagination then we'll be stuck on the edge of space forever. That enormous thing should've become mundane by now. It's been long enough.

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Gold badge
Boffin

AC@01:16

Joking aside you make some valid points.

"They've been stagnating for coming on 30 years now. That tech hasn't much improved and hasn't become more reliable and hasn't made flying to space all that easier."

Actually it has not been *seriously* updated since it was designed. There have been individual *subsystem* tweaks (some pretty expensive) but the *real* game changers need wholesale changes, a budget to make them and a management prepared to take the *risk* that they *might* fail (although there is a *lot* than can be done to dry run those changes before being actioned). Possibly the *biggest* issue was they'd have to certify the design from scratch again.

" The fscking blue prints aren't even in metric."

And (certainly for the main engines) they still *are* blueprints (and microfiche). No neat CAD files that can be piped into a CFD programme to test out improvements.

"The poor things should've been put out of our misery 20 years back"

NASA has tried this on *several* occasions. Their last serious outing was in the early 90s and called the X33. It transferred $1.1Bn to LockMart and resulted in *no* flight vehicle.

LockMart had an expendable rocket business and made *much* bigger investment promises (concerning the planned "commercial" vehicle that would have been *derived* from X33) than its competitors, who would have become *new* competitors had they won.

It hoovered up the cash and, eliminated any *real* competition so that 20 years later it still launches payloads on very expensive expendable rockets. "So sorry. Who knew how hard it would be to do? Come back when you've got a bit more money to try again"

Right out of the Dick Jones management play book.

"Where is the replacement shuttle?"

See above.

"One with less parts, if that's the way to make it more reliable, cheaper, and quicker to run again."

That's certainly *one* of the ways to do it. There are at least *several* NASA studies on how to make a better shuttle, or even how to just re-implement the *architecture* better. Cutting down the number of separate fluids (and grades of fluid) would also help a lot.

" Recall that this vehicle was to be re-usable. It is, after a fashion. "

Refurbishable is *much* nearer the mark. Reusable sort of implies a wipe down and refilling the tanks (on the current design there are around 60 of them, many doing non obvious things).

"It's not efficient, not economical, not easy to launch, and a whole host of other things it also isn't. "Useful", for one.

Actually it has its uses. It is the only *US* vehicle *allowed* to carry crew to the ISS, and it's full payload of c55 000lb is at the *top* end of launch vehicles.

"_The Spirit of St. Louis_ did a, for that time, unimaginably big thing. But you can't run an airline service with it."

"Poor counters to the observation that we're still stuck with the "we can go into space with a lot of trouble, maybe, if the celestial AND earthly weather's just right" age and -mindset."

Note that is a US centric mind set. The Russians have launched in near gales. BTW despite it's c$6Bn price tag the Shuttle is not certified for instrument landings so it's not just *perfect* weather at Kennedy for the takeoff, it's also perfect weather at the *emergency* landing sites and Kennedy in case anything goes wrong. It's gotten a bit better about high altitude winds (they can hit 100Knots) due to revised control constants uploaded to the flight software about 2 hrs before flight.

NASA has been traditionally about 2 things. Performance uber alles and being both customer *and* major contractor. This has lead to designs that are *fragile* (especially when some of their suppliers don't deliver on their specs, as happened with both SSME and the solid fuel boosters on the Shuttle) and designs chopped and changed to meet the (set yearly) NASA budget, stretching out say a 3 yr programme to a 5 yr programme.

"As the odds would inexplicably have it, I am one of the seven billion odd minus 7 other people."

Only if you assume that the only way in to space is on a vehicle designed and partly built by the US government. That position is no longer true.

You're quite correct if you think that most of the "reasons" why space travel is *so* expensive sound like excuses it's because they *are*.

There has been *very* little competition in space launch. Note BTW that *no* existing US supplier has looked at offering transport to the ISS. Only the Russians (who needed the money) did not see anything *inherently* bad about the idea of space tourism.

It has taken a complete outsider from the hotel business (Robert Bigelow) to actually start *building* an orbital hotel, having acquired the core technology from NASA, who (along with Big Aerospace) managed to do *nothing* with it.

For a country that prides itself on being a classless society the US has probably the *most* elitist (and not in a good way) space programme on Earth.

That is *starting* to change.

Some parts of NASA are helping. Some parts (with substantial Congressional and Senate assistance) are (how to put this delicately) not.

Americans in space does not *have* to mean NASA, ex-test pilot or PhD.

Space is a place, not a programme.

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Anonymous Coward

Just goes to show..

...when stuff gets old, it breaks down. It's "death by a thousand niggles". Whether it's your old e-type or a mult-million dollar space shuttle.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Idiot

If you're going to take cheap cracks, at least realize Endeavour is the youngest of the shuttles by a long shot, being assembled as a replacement to Challenger. Heck, one of the astronauts flying this mission has more hours in space than the spacecraft he's in.

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@ Gene

Wow...chill pill for you methinks. Not enough coffee this morning, grumpy?

There...*that* was a cheap crack.

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Happy

Mechanics

...wot those NASA boys wanna do is flush the coolant system innit? That'll sorted their heater problem. Drop it raa'nd tomorra, and I'll squeeze it in between that metro and the cortina. Cost ya a hundred nicker.

Oooh, and have you seen those tiles? They're well dodgy. Last guy did them cheap eh? I'll replace them all for two hundred too if you want; job done.

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