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SUN 07 AUG 2005: Interaction: STS-114 EVA Review

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Interaction: STS-114 review

Myers: Hello, and welcome to Interaction, the programme that gives you the chance to interview like the pros, right down to the part where none of us really know what the hell we're talking about either. Well, we're wrapping up our stay at Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, FL, USA this week as STS-114 has successfully landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, USA. The crew on board Discovery had to remain on orbit an extra day waiting for weather to improve here at KSC, although that never happened. But with the crew safely on the ground, attention now turns to STS-121, the next mission that will carry more supplies to the International Space Station. Will the foam shedding observed during this mission become a critical issue that will keep Atlantis grounded throughout the rest of the year? Will the problem be resolved tomorrow? Or will something else crop up and confuse us all? Any or all of these possibilities are still available, but before we examine them, we're going to examine our Interaction IQ, the Initial Question. Today it's from Duane in Tshwane, South Africa. He asks whether the foam shedding problem applies to other spacecraft, such as SpaceShipOne. We'll go first to a freelance photographer based in Montgomery, AL, USA, Mr Dick Cruxton.

Commitment to Space

Cruxton: I don't know. I'm a photographer.

Myers: The author of several recent science books, including Eat My Sports and The Real Mr Neutron, Mr Gerard O'Nully.

O'Nully: SpaceShipOne does not use the same type of insulating foam. In fact, it doesn't even have an external tank.

Myers: We also have a film student and the director of the short film Your Space: Personal Stories From the Planet Earth, Ms Lisa Gu.

Gu: I guess not. It shouldn't, right? It's smaller, and looks different, right?

Myers: And finally the editor of the Journal of Solid Surfaces, Ms Sandy Crzena.

Crzena: Obviously not. What a ridiculous question.

Myers: And I'm Debbie Myers. I'm pretty sure there's a big difference between SpaceShipOne and the Space Shuttle. Well, there may have been some anxious moments during the entry, but all was swell with Discovery this week as commander Eileen Collins delivered the orbiter to a safe landing at runway 22 at Edwards. Gerard, did ground inspections show any significant damage to the orbiter's thermal protection tiles?

O'Nully: Well, of course. It's perfectly normal for orbiters to return with some damage to the heat tiles. Quite a few tiles have to be replaced after every mission. But as far as we can tell, there wasn't any damage that was significantly out of the ordinary. I understand that the orbiter came back looking like just about any other orbiter that returns to make a safe landing.

Myers: So we're not expecting a lot of repair work on Discovery?

O'Nully: Nothing out of the ordinary.

Myers: All right. Well, with that we're going to move on to viewer questions now. As usual, you have several ways to get in touch with us, including E-mail, snail mail, telephone, text message, telegraph, and facsimile. You can see the various numbers and addresses on your screen right now. They'll stay on for a little bit longer until Pac-Man comes and eats them all up. And so here's our first question of the evening, with Jo from Fort Worth, TX, USA. Jo, are you there?

Jo in Fort Worth: Am I on?

Myers: Yes, you're on.

Jo in Fort Worth: Great! Can I just say one thing?

Myers: Can she just say one thing. Dick?

Cruxton: She probably can, but I don't think she'd want to limit herself to just one thing to say for the rest of her life. Most people will want more, I'm sure.

Myers: That's probably a good idea.

Crzena: Anne, can I just jump –

Myers: I'm Debbie.

Crzena: What did I say?

Myers: You called me Anne.

Crzena: No I didn't.

Cruxton: Did too.

Crzena: Did not.

Cruxton: Did too.

Crzena: Did not.

Cruxton: Did too times ten.

Myers: Why Anne, anyway?

Crzena: I must have been thinking of Anne Robinson.

Myers: Anne Robinson? From Weakest Link?

Crzena: Yeah.

Myers: I look nothing like her.

Gu: You dress like her.

Myers: I have orange nail polish! Blue lipstick! A pierced lip, for fuck's sake!

Gu: But you're wearing black.

Myers: So are you!

Gu: But yours looks more like what she wears.

Myers: [increasingly agitated] The hell are you talking about? Look at this exposed midriff! Can you imagine her like that?

O'Nully: Wow, that's a turnoff.

Myers: Exactly! So can we all agree that I have absolutely nothing in common with her?

Crzena: Well, when you wear glasses –

Myers: I never wear glasses! Next question! Ron from Brooklyn, NY, USA, are you there?

Ron in Brooklyn: Yes, um, hi.

Myers: What's your question?

Ron in Brooklyn: I want to know if your refrigerator is running.

Myers: [harshly] Let me guess. Baba Booey.

Ron in Brooklyn: Baba Booey! Baba Booey! Bab- aaaaaaaaaaaa...! [voice recedes into faintness]

Myers: Let that serve as a warning to any other Howard Stern listeners. Okay, any other questions? Yes, one from Rinus in the Hague, the Netherlands. In his text message, he asks how the experience gained on this mission can be applied to any future missions to the Moon or Mars. Bit long for a text message. Sandy?

Crzena: Yes?

Myers: Who am I?

Crzena: Debbie.

Myers: Good girl. So, how can the experience of STS-114 be applied to lunar and Martian missions?

Crzena: I think that starting now, you're going to see a lot more inspection of spacecraft during the mission. For example, Apollo astronauts never saw their own heat shields during the mission, and yet the heat shield was one of the most important components in their capsule. So now there's this realisation that an entire mission can be screwed over at reentry to Earth, and we're finally starting to respond to that.

Myers: All right. Well, we can take one more quick question. It's an E-mail from Lulu in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Lulu asks what the landing felt like. Well, none of us were there, but Lisa, I understand that you had a second unit for your film at Edwards Air Force Base.

Gu: Yes, I'm working on a film about people's reactions to STS-114. I had Eddie and his crew at Edwards, and they were able to record the landing. It was a bit hard to see, but the sonic booms sounded neat.

Myers: And did your second unit speak to some of the spectators there?

Gu: Yup.

Myers: And what did they say?

Gu: They said hi.

Myers: Okay. Well, it looks like we'll have to wrap things up tonight. Thanks to Ms Sandy Crzena, Ms Lisa Gu, Mr Gerard O'Nully, and Mr Dick Cruxton for whatever you did here tonight. We'll be returning to Warwickshire next week, but we'll be talking about the situation in Sri Lanka after yesterday's assassination of foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. Joining us then will be a candidate for the now vacant position, a representative of the Tamil Tigers, a writer for Sri Lankan television, and a retired shoe shiner. Don't forget that you can visit our website at any time to see next week's guest list and send in your question for them. So until next week, good night from Interaction.

Gu: You know, you sound like Anne Robinson too.

Myers: [raging] I've got an Ipswich accent! It's completely different! That does it! You're the weakest interactor! Goodbye!