Tuesday, August 09, 2005

shuttle down

Saw Discovery land at Edwards at 8:12 am (EST) this morning, on CNN.

Nostalgic, I was at Edwards for the first landing after the Challenger hiatus ended. JPL contacts got us VIP passes (for the hill across the runway from the public viewing area, not for the "families and VVIP" area on the runway).
When deorbit was confirmed a phone tree would call people up (well, not for the first one after return to flight, bunch of us made a camp trip out of that), turned out that you could just get up to Edwards before the base gate closed, IF CHiPs didn't decide to provide an interruption.

Seeing the landing is extrordinarily impressive; a fair fraction of the people who went up there in '88 are now senior engineers in NASA or aerospace.

I'm glad the Discovery is down, I'm concerned for the future of the space program. It is flailing, half-strangled and they've been given impossible goals with too little funding for those goals. Not to mention the budgetary death of a thousand bit of pork being sliced off the funding.
Any year now, some agency will find its entire budget line has been assigned to assorted congresscritter directed line items, with no money at all left for actual agency operations. Maybe that will be enough to trigger reform.


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