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Friday, August 05, 2005

NASA and Accountability: Likely?

[It's a sad commentary that NASA, today one of the most touchy-feely recipients of taxpayer dollars, is likely to do the bureaucratic thing, again showing that its long-standing policy of finger-pointing doesn't produce results, and that career NASA-ers will forever be protected from their actions. I sent this as a letter to the editor, to several newspapers, local and national. We'll see where/if it gets published. --TK
Note: it was published August 11, 2005, in Winter Haven (FL) News Chief: http://polkonline.com/stories/081105/letters_blame.shtml ]
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It's a good thing that Stephen Robinson and the rest of the Discovery and Space Station crews are talented and patient, and that he removed two gap fillers that protruded an inch or so from the tiles. Otherwise, NASA says, the orbiter could have burned up on re-entry.

Now, I want to know which chowderhead NASA is going to fire.

Will NASA fire the technician who left the gap fillers in place, for not following regulations? Maybe NASA will fire the tech's inspector, or the inspector's supervisor.

Possibly, NASA's procedures don't mention removing the gap fillers. If so, whoever wrote, reviewed and approved the procedures should be axed.

Did anybody look at the shuttle before launch? If the gap fillers were apparent when the shuttle was in space, they should have been more so, on the ground. Let's fire the stream of people who looked, and didn't see -- or who should have looked, and didn't.

My guess: NASA will take the entire embarrassing incident (that required extremely dangerous and expensive in-flight remedial work) into some meeting room, whence they will issue a statement and then... nothing will happen. It's all about accountability, and today’s NASA doesn't do accountability.

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