Discovery’s launch delayed until December 17 at the earliest

Discovery’s launch delayed until December 17 at the earliest. Key quote:

Shannon said that one of the concerns was that another major crack might liberate a piece of insulating foam large enough to damage Discovery, as happened during the January 2003 liftoff of Columbia. A suitcase-sized chunk of foam punched a hole in Columbia’s wing, dooming the ship and her crew of seven astronauts when they reentered the atmosphere.

Shannon said that teams were also examining the possibility that the tanks have been flying with undetected cracks for years.

Cracks became more common after the 1998 debut of “super-lightweight” tanks built with a more brittle aluminum-lithium alloy. Since then, 29 cracks in stringers making up the ribbed “intertank” section that separates liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks have been found and repaired in 18 tanks, including Discovery’s and a tank scheduled for use by the shuttle Atlantis next summer.

Saving NASA’s astrophysics budget and Webb

The struggle to find $1.5 billion to save NASA’s astrophysics budget as well as the overbudget James Webb Space Telescope. Note that this article once again allows a variety of NASA managers and scientists push the false story that Webb is a replacement for Hubble. It is not. Hubble looks at the universe mostly in optical wavelengths, as our eyes do. Webb will be an infrared telescope. It will do wonderful things, but different things than Hubble.

Gore admits that ethanol was bad policy

Gore admits that he knew that ethanol in cars was bad environmental policy, but voted for it anyway to win votes in the 2000 election. Key quote:

“One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president,” the former vice president said.

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