As General Zod might say, so this is Planet Houston?

By Germanm

Jul 4, 2006 3:57pm

Correspondent John Berman blogs from the Johnson Space Center: Shuttle launches have become a bit like Ramadan; it seems like they last for nearly a month. Discovery was supposed to launch on Saturday, but weather got in the way, and then it was supposed to launch on Sunday but weather got in the way, and then on Monday pieces started falling off on the launch-pad… which somehow did not get in the way. 
But today, it launched, and as one NASA employee told me, “at least it is in the air.” Of course, that is not the big issue. The big issue is, did anything happen to Discovery as it was getting into the air? Over the next few days, NASA will take more photos of the Shuttle than Brad and Angelina. They had 121 cameras on the ground, in the air, and in space looking at every inch of the Shuttle to see if there are any dings, or any damage from foam that might have broken away during lift-off. From the naked eye, it looked like there might have been some debris. But the question is, were our eyes deceiving us? If there was debris, how big was it? And no matter what the size, did it hit the shuttle orbiter? NASA needs to prove they can fly this thing with as little risk as possible, and it could take up to a week before we know if Discovery gets a clean bill of health. I can tell you that here ar JSC (that is space-geek talk for the Johnson Space Center) is waiting, anxiously, for that moment. Nothing less that the future of the space program depends on it. (At left, the Discovery today.) This is my second trip to Houston for a Shuttle mission. The Johnson Space Center is where they actually run the whole program, and once the Shuttle clears the launch pad, this is were all the news comes from. It is a hugely interesting assignment, because for the most part Astronauts are every bit as cool as you think there are, and all the engineers are really as smart as rocket scientists. They are, after all, rocket scientists. Plus, ABC has a trailer here so it feels like a family camping trip. Most importantly, Houston figures prominently in Superman II. General Zod mistakenly thinks the Earth is actually named Houston, uttering the famous words, “so this is Planet Houston?” In the 4 days that I have been here, I have said, “so this is Planet Houston,” about 75 times. I am still waiting for someone to laugh once.  (At left, General Zod.)

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus