Friday, July 17, 2009


It’s still got to be tough to speak for NASA, even though things had been going better over the last while for the space agency than they had in the past couple of years. This week, after numerous delays in getting the shuttle Endeavour off the ground, the good news of a successful launch was quickly overshadowed by the darker story of potential damage caused during launch by foam insulation falling off the giant external fuel tank and bouncing off the ship’s delicate belly. They’ll spend the next couple of days assessing whether anything was dented badly enough to question the safety of the ship for the return to Earth. Cue the straight-talking chair of the mission management team: “The bottom line is we saw some stuff,” said Mike Moses. “Some of it your just can’t really speculate on right now. But we have the tools in front of us and the processes in front of us to go clear this vehicle for entry.” I like this: up front about the possible concern, yet he makes it clear that he’s not going to speculate about what may or may not happen – pointing only to the action they’ll take to get the answers. And bonus points for the everyday language – “we saw some stuff.” Touchdown.

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