Wednesday, July 27, 2005
EARTH, DISCOVERY, ROBOTIC ARM. It's surreal, isn't it? Though NASA has been flying shuttles for over 20 years (can you believe it?), I remain amazed. The earth hangs from the horizon, a 100-foot robotic boom/arm dangles above, and the shuttle Discovery carries seven astronouts at unimaginable speeds in orbit approximately 200 miles from the earth's surface. Though yesterday's liftoff was majestic and the effort to get back on track after the Columbia disaster two years ago nothing less than yeomen, much of the concern in the first 24 hours of Discovery's flight has been identifiable and unknown debris that fell off the shuttle during liftoff. The robotic arm has been used to take digital photos of nearly every square inch of the shuttle surface. Repairs, if necessary, are possible; that's one of the protocol changes since the loss of Columbia. I am fascinated by the live shuttle photos and conversation between the shuttle crew and mission control. Here's access to the live video link.