And Readies For Atlantis In August
It's happy-happy joy-joy time at NASA... as astronauts,
scientists, and engineers bask in the glow of a successful second
return to flight.
In fact, the Associated Press reports there's a poster floating
around that says "We're BAAAACK!" at the Johnson Space Center in
Houston... a sentiment that echoes through the halls of the space
"This is as good a mission as we've ever flown," said NASA
Administrator Michael Griffin.
Griffin, as well as mission commander Steve Lindsey, say the
hard-earned lessons of Columbia paid off in this second return to
"We obviously have learned the technical lessons of Columbia,"
Lindsey said. "We're still learning them ... but more importantly
we've learned the cultural, organizational lessons of Columbia and
that's the one thing we don't ever want to ever forget."
Foam, for the most part, stayed where it belongs on the external
fuel tank. And in-flight repair techniques -- should a shuttle be
damaged during launch -- appear effective.
Next up on the launch
pad: Atlantis, scheduled for another construction-related mission
to the International Space Station. The window for that launch has
been moved up a day, to August 27... meaning NASA has very little
time to bask in its success before it gets ready to do it all over
On the runway at Kennedy Space Center Monday morning, however,
Discovery's crew took a moment to appreciate the mission they'd
flown. Astronaut Pier Sellers said the most satisfying moment of
the mission... at least for him... was when the crew exchanged
smiles at the end of the flight.
"We all stopped, frankly, and said 'We're done,'" Sellers said.
"'We did it.'"