This is just all kinds of wrong.
Opening sentence: "With the countdown entering its final hours and a fuel gauge problem still unexplained, NASA said it is prepared to bend its long-standing safety rules to launch the shuttle Tuesday on the first flight since Columbia's doomed mission 2 1/2 years ago."
Riiiiight. Considering that their last shuttle CRASHED, you would think that this would be the time to be EXTRA cautious, not LESS so.
The article goes on to state that Columbia's crash "was blamed, in part, on NASA's 'broken safety culture,' or a tendency to downplay risks."
GET OUTTA TOWN. NASA has a history of downplaying risks?? ("Hmmm.....not sure why this darned fuel gauge still ain't workin, but let's send 'er up anyway, boys, whaddya say?")
"We have addressed everything we know on the shuttle that can go wrong that we have the technology to fix," said one NASA official. ("But the shit we DON'T know how to fix....yeah, all that's still broke.")
And now, allow me to skip down to the closing paragraph: "If we were to lose another shuttle, I think obviously the shuttle program would be out of business and the United States would be years away from putting another crew of people in space," he said. "The initiation of
President Bush's call to return the U.S. to the moon and go to Mars would be delayed. And of course — of course, of course, of course — seven people would be killed. So there's a lot riding on this launch." (Translation: "It would really hurt our program if we lose another shuttle. Oh yeah, and 7 people would die, too.")
Seriously, am I missing something here? Is this an Armegeddon-type situation, where the fate of mankind depends on this launch happening tomorrow? I know that they only have until the beginning of August to fly to the space station "on a 12-day supply and repair mission" and that this is their last chance to launch before they miss their window of opportunity...I must be missing some crucial bit of info, however, that would justify risking the lives of these astronauts. Someone enlighten me, please.