How We Nearly Lost Discovery – Wayne Hale

Now that Discovery is safely delivered to the Smithsonian, I think I can tell the story of how we nearly lost her in July of 2005, and how well intentioned, highly motivated,  hard working, smart people can miss the most obvious.

It’s tough to know people who have died.  Many of us knew the astronauts on Challenger and Columbia well.  We had met with them daily, we had visited in their homes, we knew their families, their children.  It is not an easy thing to lose a colleague; especially one who entrusted their safety to you.  So don’t question whether we were motivated to prevent another loss.

Discovery was the shuttle return to flight vehicle after the Challenger was lost; two and a half years were spent from January 28, 1986 until Discovery flew in September 1988.  Many improvements were made which resulted in a safe space flight.

Discover was the shuttle return to flight vehicle after Columbia was lost; two and half years were spent from February 1, 2003 until Discovery flew in July 2005.  Many improvements were made but safety was not assured.

It was not until Discovery again flew in July of 2006 before she flew safely.  That counts as the third “return to flight” mission for Discovery.

You see, we dodged a bullet in 2005.  One we should have seen coming but didn’t.

Follow the Complete Article on Wayne Hale’s Blog [ HERE ]

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