St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Email editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

For NASA, mission shows that 'We're back'

Published July 12, 2006

HOUSTON - Aboard the space shuttle Discovery on Tuesday, three words rang out, capturing what a beleaguered space community is finally feeling after the problem-plagued Columbia years:

"We're back, baby!"

Astronaut Scott Kelly, down on Earth, telephoned his twin brother up in space, Discovery pilot Mark Kelly with that assessment.

Several outside space experts and astronauts agree.

Legendary Apollo era spaceflight chief Gene Kranz gave the highest praise possible in space circles: "They've demonstrated 'the right stuff' in addressing this mission."

NASA's top managers won't take a bow until Discovery is safely on the ground Monday, but day-to-day officials are clearly pleased.

"We're going in the right direction," Discovery lead flight controller Tony Ceccacci said. "It's time to get going and start building the station."

Experts say Discovery's performance allows the shuttle program to return to its old job before Columbia shattered in 2003, killing seven astronauts. NASA's mission is to finish building the space station with a 15 more shuttle flights.

Kranz, whose "failure is not an option" speech during the Apollo 13 crisis was immortalized in books and movies, said, "I look forward toward reopening of this space frontier and getting onto completion of the international space station and then get on to the moon and Mars. I think we're on track."

After a spacewalk today does further tests on heat shield repair techniques, NASA will have met all the requirements for continued regular shuttle missions set by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

"They have incorporated the spirit of our recommendations quite effectively," said accident board member John Logsdon. "The shuttle is a less risky vehicle than we were flying at the time of the Columbia accident. That was our plan."

[Last modified July 12, 2006, 06:05:17]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters