Sunday, July 31, 2005

Discovery Extends Mission; More high-res pics

UPDATE- Looking for the new Discovery Mission? The one that launched July 4th, 2006? Click Here.

SPACE CENTER, Houston - (AP) - Two spacewalking astronauts armed with caulking guns, putty knives and foam brushes practiced fixing deliberately damaged shuttle heat shields Saturday, as NASA extended what could be its last trip to the space station for a long while.

With future shuttle flights grounded because of Discovery's fuel-tank foam loss during liftoff, mission managers decided to keep the crew at the international space station an extra day to haul over surplus supplies and help with station maintenance. It could well be next year before the foam problem is fixed and a shuttle returns to the space station. The two spacewalkers, meanwhile, practiced repair maneuvers they hope they'll never have to do for real.

On Monday, NASA expects to wrap up all its analysis of Discovery's thermal shielding and give the final safety clearance for the shuttle's descent on Aug. 8, a day later now than originally planned. A final decision was expected Sunday, but was put off to give engineers a little more time to analyze a couple of protruding gap fillers between thermal tiles.

Full Story...

Yes, your eyes didn't deceive you. I am a big fan of high-resolution images so here ya go! All which came directly from the Shuttle and ISS. (Credit: NASA of course!)

View of the Discovery's tiles while it was performing a flip.

Another Picture of Discovery's tiles.

View of Discovery's nose.

View of Discovery's Cargo bay.

View of the ISS from Discovery.

Another view of the ISS.

I also wanted to add a picture I took during the shuttle launch. It's not the best quality but is pretty good since all I did was walk outside. :) Click Here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


SPACE CENTER, Houston - NASA said Wednesday it is grounding future shuttle flights because foam debris that brought down Columbia is still a risk — and might have doomed Discovery if the big chunk of broken insulation had come off just a bit earlier and slammed into the spacecraft.

A large chunk of foam flew off Discovery's external fuel tank just two minutes after liftoff Tuesday morning. Shuttle managers do not believe it hit the shuttle, posing a threat to the seven astronauts when they return to Earth. But they plan a closer inspection of the spacecraft to be sure. "You have to admit when you're wrong. We were wrong," said shuttle program manager Bill Parsons. "We need to do some work here, and so we're telling you right now, that the ... foam should not have come off. It came off. We've got to go do something about that."

The loss of a chunk of debris, a vexing problem NASA thought had been fixed, represents a tremendous setback to a space program that has spent 2 1/2 years and over $1 billion trying to make the 20-year-old shuttles safe to fly.

Image that led NASA to this decision:
--View High-Resolution Version here.

Initial analysis of the imagery shows a large piece of foam separated from an area of the tank called the Protuberance Air Load (PAL) Ramp during the shuttle's ascent to orbit. This debris did not impact Discovery. The area of missing foam on the tank is indicated by a light spot, center, just below the liquid oxygen feedline.


Shuttle Update: Chipped tile not serious

Video Story (4mb asf file)

Photo: Nasa/AP

Nasa said Wednesday that a chipped thermal tile on space shuttle Discovery's belly does not appear to be a serious problem, based on what engineers have seen so far. In orbit, meanwhile, Discovery's astronauts slowly and delicately inspected the wings and nose for launch damage, using a 100-foot movable arm with lasers and a camera mounted on its tip.

NASA lead flight director Paul Hill said experts were still receiving and analyzing the data from the inspection, but during his own cursory look at the 3-D footage beamed down to Earth as the lasers panned across the spaceship's surface, "I didn't see anything that stood out."

Discovery settled into orbit Tuesday on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster 2 1/2 years ago. Hours later, the space agency disclosed that an object believed to be a 1 1/2-inch piece of thermal tile appeared to have broken off from a vulnerable spot near the nose landing-gear doors on the underside of the shuttle during liftoff. Hill said Wednesday that engineers were still studying the tile damage, but added, "Their judgment based on the data so far is that it's not going to be an issue." He said the engineers have not yet decided whether to ask NASA to gather more data on the tile by using the arm to inspect the belly.

Full Story...

Note: I also came across some high-resolution photos of the launch. View them below.

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4

Discovery debris spotted, analyzed

Video Story. (26mb wmv file)
Photo: NASA/AP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - In uneasy reminders of the Columbia accident, a thermal tile apparently got chipped and other debris whirled around Discovery as it rumbled toward space Tuesday, but it wasn't clear if the shuttle's sensitive skin had been jeopardized. *A 1 1/2-inch-wide bit of tile captured on camera appeared to fly off the shuttle's belly, on the edge of a door that encloses the nose landing gear. It was not clear if the tile had been struck by anything. Pieces of tile, which protect the shuttle from searing heat on return to Earth, have been lost on past flights without preventing a safe homecoming.

"We're going frame-by-frame through the imagery," said John Shannon, a NASA operations manager. Also, NASA video revealed what appeared to be a *sizable piece of material — maybe a chunk of insulation — coming off the shuttle's external fuel tank two minutes into flight. It did not strike the orbiter that carries the seven astronauts, the NASA manager said. Other agency footage showed covers flying off Discovery's thrusters — something expected to happen.

Full Story...

* -Mentioned in video

Monday, July 25, 2005

Discovery Launches, "It’s a great day.”

Photo: AFP/Robert Pearson

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER- Right on schedule and without a hitch, the space shuttle Discovery launched on NASA's first shuttle mission in two and a half years. There was a lot of pride and relief at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, which has played a huge role in the Return to Flight program. “We needed this,” said one worker after Discovery safely lifted off.

Two former NASA Langley workers are astronauts aboard Discovery – Charlie Camarda and Stephen Robinson. “I think it’s wonderful and I think everybody’s very excited. It was just so smooth and just wonderful," said Ginger Dutuis, an information systems specialist. “Human space flight is a big past of the agency and this one had some special significance to Langley because we had played a big role in that – all the way from the accident investigation, preparing and working with the people on return to flight,” noted David Dowles, the director of Space Operations Technology for NASA Langley.

Full Story...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Rapping Baggage Screener

HOUSTON -- When Bassam Khalaf raps, he's the Arabic Assassin. His unreleased CD, "Terror Alert," includes rhymes about flying a plane into a building and descriptions of himself as a "crazy, suicidal Arabic ... equipped with bombs."

Until last week, Khalaf also worked as a baggage screener at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

"I've been screening your bags for the past six months, and you don't even know it," said Khalaf, who also said Thursday that he is not really a terrorist and that his rhymes are exaggerations meant to gain publicity.

Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for the regional Transportation Security Administration office in Dallas, said the agency checks criminal records before hiring screeners, but it does not investigate what people do in their spare time.

"We have eyes and ears in the workplace," McCauley said. "Once we discovered these Web sites, we fired him."

An Internet search of Khalaf's name brings up Web sites that feature his obscene, violent and misogynistic raps that threaten to fly a plane into a building on Sept. 11, 2005.

Khalaf, 21, was hired on Jan. 16 and fired July 7, according to a TSA termination letter that cited his "authorship of songs which applaud the efforts of the terrorists on September 11th, encourage and warn of future acts of terrorism by you, discuss at length and in grave and alarming detail various criminal acts you intend to commit, state your belief that the U.S. government should be overthrown, and finally warn that others will die on September 11, 2005."

Full Story...

I am speechless.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


LONDON (AP) - Four blasts rocked the London subway and tore open a packed double-decker bus during the morning rush hour Thursday, sending bloodied victims fleeing in the worst attack on London since World War II. Three U.S. law enforcement officials said at least 40 people were killed and London hospitals reported more than 350 wounded in the terror attacks.

Prime Minister Tony Blair called the attacks "barbaric" and said they were clearly designed to coincide with the G-8 summit opening in Gleneagles, Scotland. They also came a day after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. A group calling itself "The Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe" claimed responsibility.

The explosions hit three subway stations and a double-decker bus in rapid succession beginning at 8:51 a.m. (3:51 a.m. EDT) and ended about 40 minutes later when a blast ripped the top off a bus. Implementing an emergency plan, authorities immediately shut down the subway and bus lines that log 8.4 million passenger trips every weekday.
(AP Photo/ Jane Mingay)


London Blasts Set Off Chaos, Confusion
(Photo) (AP)

London Blasts Have Hallmarks of al-Qaida
(Photo) (AP Photo/ Jane Mingay)

Bush Offers U.S. Condolences to London
(Photo) (AP)

U.S. raising terrorism alert level for rail, metro

Group that no one has ever heard of before lays claim to London blasts...

Putin: London Blasts Show World Not United

World Stands With London After Attacks

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tracking Dennis

The Atlantic Watch Center is currently tracking Hurricane Dennis. Projected Path, Strike Probabilities, Computer Models, and more.

Also, I have an archive for your own personal use. It makes you feel good to see how much the projected path changes in less than a week. ;)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Proud to be an American?

Looks like the Chinese are.
(Click images to enlarge)

I have flown the glider and have to say, the chinese put this baby together nicely. Its origin is not a surprise really. I don't expect it to ever change.

MORE- Yes, unfortunately I can add to this post. Here is a head-band I got today which also was 'Made in China.'

God Bless America

Happy 4th of July

Click images to enlarge.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July. Later today I will take/post more pictures of fireworks. Earlier at the local show I tested my ability. Photo without text

Click here for a short quicktime video clip (9mb) of the finale for the fireworks show.

Also on a historic note, Malachy Joyce reminds us of the men who gave us the freedoms we have today. You shouldn't ever forget it.

Of note- Local History post updated 7/4. I will be posting pictures from my visit to Debary Hall soon.

MORE- Feeling Patriotic? Check out where the little things we use to celebrate a day like this, actually come from.