We've All Got to Keep Our Eyes on the Ball!

Spaceflight is among the most demanding of all human endeavors. It is intolerant of mistakes and errors. In order for a rocket to get into low Earth orbit, in slightly more than 500 seconds, it must go from a standing stop… bolted to a launch pad on the ground… to 17,500 mph (25 times the speed of sound), over 100 miles high. Acceleration like this requires the controlled release of huge amounts of energy… rates of energy release that would make a top fuel dragster look like a kiddie car!

And that’s where the danger and the challenges lie. Even the tiniest of mistakes can have huge consequences: a slightly contaminated bonding surface; a barely visible part misalignment; even the smallest “off-ratio” mixture of a two-part material can directly lead to catastrophic consequences.

There has seldom been a time of greater uncertainty in NASA’s history: Will shuttle really end as planned? Will the next launch vehicle really be canceled? What does the future hold for human spaceflight ? All great questions… but all are huge sources of distraction.

In these turbulent times, we’ve ALL got to stay completely focused on our assigned tasks and not lose our concentration. Now, perhaps more than ever, we’ve ALL got to keep our eyes on the ball!

Our astronauts and our nation expect nothing less.

John Chapman
NASA External Tank Project Manager
Marshall Space Flight Center

3 thoughts on “We've All Got to Keep Our Eyes on the Ball!”

  1. Sir, I would like to see the shuttle craft remain in existence as long as there is a want for its usage. What a wonderful machine, such greatness, why put it away? Is it because our enemies view it as a military threat? Is it because of its greatness,(!/?) NASA is the Fountain Head of intelligence on the planet Earth. Can everything of it (shuttle) be sold to an honest consortium of private individuals? i.e. only the shuttle and it supports. Expanding the Florida terriority with many shuttles flying into space every day privately-commerically. Then NASA can concentrate its talents on net-ftl. non exhaust thrust-faster than light. That is the grail which is called cornacopia for the species. Ask the questions, gain the measurements. The Human Experience is only once. We are not un-dead, when dead. no heaven no hell, life never existed…..so to the furthest point of human sight, while alive.

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