Sunday, August 07, 2005

This Old Spacecraft

Discovery is headed back to earth with touchdown expected early tomorrow morning. I know that previous flights may have accomplished more, but these guys speak to those of us who grapple every day with houses and vehicles that have seen better days.

As someone who has almost met her demise while trying to replace a shower curtain rod, I am amazed by the repairs that have been made floating in space, attached to the mother ship by the slimmest of tethers. They went out armed with duct tape and a hacksaw, and ended up ripping off the stuff that was sticking out. And who among us has not done the same, only with feet planted on terra firma? This, to me, is of more scientific importance than whether fruit flies can successfully copulate in zero gravity. Never again will we be able to use the excuse “I can’t figure out how to get to it” to put off long-needed repairs. Hell, if we can put a man on a heat shield 8 miles above the earth, we can clean out a clogged gutter two stories up.

The return to earth will be dicey, and one wonders what these astronauts can be thinking as they prepare for re-entry. Because of the Columbia disaster, cameras were installed on Discovery that recorded the damage done, so for the first time we knew what went wrong and could figure out how to fix it. But prior to Columbia we were just damned lucky. Without the cameras, we have no idea how many times just this kind of damage occurred. Kinda like covering up the Check Engine light with electrical tape, an approach often recommended by Tom and Ray. And astronauts returned to earth blissfully unaware of just how much like a ’64 Dodge the spacecraft they were traveling in was.

But now they know. And we know, too. And we’re holding our breaths until they touch down safely. Especially those of us who have to hold onto the bracket every time we raise the mini-blinds because we were off by half an inch when we installed it.

Godspeed, Discovery.


Blogger D.B. Echo said...

8 miles? I do believe the International Space Station orbits a bit higher than that. Though I am too lazy to look up the actual altitude. Or is this a reference to Eminem?

12:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home