NASA, given heavily to acronyms, even has one for death: LOCV. It actually stands for Loss Of Crew/Vehicle, and there were passing references to it as mission managers debated what to do about that now-famed gouge mark beneath Endeavour’s tail. Early on, John Shannon, the deputy shuttle program manager, made it clear he’d be more concerned "if we were in a Loss Of Crew/Vehicle situation." They decided shuttles had survived worse tile damage–they had "a rich history" of it, he said–but they worked the problem for nearly a week. Inch-deep holes rarely receive as much attention. Now Endeavour is safely on the ground in Florida, and we’ve had our first look at the spot after the heat of re-entry. I’ll leave it to others to decide if NASA was more lucky than smart. Your thoughts on that–or other matters technological or scientific–are, as always, welcome. With STS-118 over, I’m going to take some vacation. I hope you’re getting some time for rest too. See you after Labor Day.