NASA Jubiliant As Shuttle Doesn't Fall Apart
Officials of NASA's shuttle program were ecstatic Tuesday as the aging orbiter Discovery made it into orbit with only a few pieces flying off.
"Foam, shmoam," said NASA administrator Michael Griffin, when asked about the insulation on the shuttle's external fuel tank that, once again, was seen flying off the ship during liftoff. "Nine-nine point ninety-nine percent of the ship made it off the launchpad. We're focused on that."
When a reporter noted that the space agency had spent millions of dollars studying how to keep the foam insulation on the ship after one troubled launch and one disaster, Griffin said: "As of an hour ago, the thing is holding together, and our fingers are crossed that 80-90 percent of it comes down in one piece, with all the astronauts fit as a fiddle."
The launch came just days after NASA technicians were seen coating antennae with aluminum foil as the damn Hubble Telescope went on the fritz for the fourth time this year.
"Dad-gum it," said Griffin then. "We done paid about a half-zillion dollars for this bucket of orbiting bolts. Is it too much to ask to get a decent six months outta the thang."
NASA observers were monitoring a key cluster of gasseous clouds near Alpha Centurai around 11 AM this morning when the picture suddenly blinked out. "We was just getting to the best part and BAM," said Fred Halstead of Jet Propulsion Laboratories. "Now we'll never know if those clouds completely dissipated or merged into a field with a larger mass."
Griffin told reporters that by coating the giant rabbit-ear antennae with foil and having 73 volunteers stand in a ring around them while holding hands he was able to tune in for the remaining five minutes of the cloud formation. But he said a long-term solution would have to be found in the future. "We may have to spring for one of them newfangled plasma, flatscreen telescopes," he said. "Hope we can get it on layaway."