NASA must look forward

Published 10:05 am Friday, July 17, 2009

Forty years after the first manned moon landing and it seems that NASA is still making some of the same mistakes of recent years.

When space shuttle Endeavor launched Wednesday, video evidence showed that debris broke free from the craft and struck the space shuttle.

The seven astronauts and mission control are working hard to determine the extent of the damage and take steps needed to correct it.

But the most concerning part is that NASA seems unable or unwilling to make long-term structural changes that would prevent this completely.

Haven’t we learned this painful lesson yet?

In 2003, Columbia was destroyed during re-entry because of a hole in the wing that was also caused by falling debris at takeoff.

Even as recent as 2005 during the launch of space shuttle Discovery — the first flight following Columbia — debris damaged the ship but was fortunately repaired before attempting re-entry.

That shows a pattern of mechanical breakdown that would appear to be a problem with the structure of the ship.

Even though the Space Shuttle program is scheduled to be retired in 2010, there are still at least three more flights scheduled with these models of shuttle.

NASA should take a long, hard look at this recurring problem before a single person is sent back into space.

While we are sure that all future rockets will address these issues, this should be taken care of now before another life is at risk.