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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chron screws pooch in NASA editorial

The Chronicle is ostensibly a newspaper, right? One would think its editors would follow the news. One would be horribly wrong:
The thunder and fire of what appeared to be a nearly flawless launch Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida served notice that NASA's commitment to station Americans permanently in space and eventually to take them well beyond Earth's orbit is back at full throttle and soaring upward.
Appeared nearly flawless to whom? Every news outlet in the English-speaking world is discussing the damage to the orbiter in today's launch. A piece of foam insulation sloughed off the external fuel tank (fortunately missing the orbiter), and another piece of debris struck -- and damaged -- the Shuttle's critical heat shield. Here's a smattering of headlines. Drudge:
HOW SERIOUS?
AP:
NASA Probes Shuttle Debris After Launch
Reuters:
NASA sends shuttle to space, debris fears arise
Considering that seven astronauts were incinerated the last time this scenario happened, how the hell can someone consider the launch "nearly flawless?" Also, this paragraph struck me as a complete non sequitur:
Fittingly, the first woman to command a shuttle mission, 48-year-old retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, is directing her second flight aboard the retooled Discovery.
How is that fitting? Once we've established that a woman can command a shuttle -- and Col. Collins established that -- why make a gender issue out of it?

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