Monday, August 01, 2005

How's This For a Day at the Office?

Fix something wrong with your vehicle. Otherwise, you'll burn the atmosphere. Do it in space! My Way News has the story courtesy of AP. Man, these people have guts! Behold:
NASA announced Monday that an astronaut will perform a spacewalk to fix two worrisome pieces of filler material protruding from Discovery's belly - a high-stakes operation to repair a problem that could threaten the shuttle during re-entry.

Wayne Hale, the deputy shuttle program manager, told a news conference that engineers simply did not know enough about the problem to leave it unattended, so they decided to conduct the spacewalk Wednesday to "set our minds at rest."

"At the end of the day, the bottom line is there is large uncertainty because nobody has a very good handle on the aerodynamics at those altitudes and at those speeds," Hale said. "Given that large degree of uncertainty, life could be normal during entry or some bad things could happen."
So this is how they'll do it:
The plan called for the operation to be performed by Stephen Robinson on the end of the space station's 58-foot robot arm, which would bend and wrap around the side of Discovery to enable him to reach all the way underneath.

Robinson will first try to tug the dangling strips out with his gloved fingers. If that does not work, he will use a hacksaw to cut them off while holding the material taut with forceps.

Discovery's other astronauts and Mission Control would see him the whole time via robot arm cameras, but he would be out of sight of his spacewalking partner, Soichi Noguchi, who would be busy elsewhere doing other things. NASA decided two astronauts would be too many for the work site and might cause too much banging around.
May God bless and keep these astronauts as they engage in this risky repair. May they all return home safely.