I was sitting in my living room reading CNN.COM tonight when I came across an article about NASA scrubbing the night shuttle launch because of “low lying clouds.” I started reading the article to try to find out why billions of dollars of technology could be grounded by weather that wouldn’t stop a half empty Southwest jet from taking off from the smallest airport in the country.
The article didn’t explain that. My wife told me later it was becasue it violated the safety procedures for emergency landings. In 25 years of shuttle flights we have had over 100 successful missions. 2 tragic disasters. And not a single attempt at an emergency abortive landing. Not one. 25 years we have had this protocol in place for a very unlikely scenario and it causes us to waste millions of dollars in time and resouces to avoid clouds.
The article did tell me one thing. It told me that our government funded space administrations inability to get into space around some clouds is nothing compared to the reason that NASA needs to launch before the 17th of December. The reason is that the ancient computers on the shuttle aren’t designed to be operated in flight between calendar years. They have a “new year bug” which they THINK they have a solution for but really don’t want to test out in space.
Honestly…this is the best we can do?