Tuesday, August 26, 2003

"That's Not Good Enough"

Excellent interview with Dr. Sally Ride, former astronaut and member of both the Rogers Commission and CAIB over at the NYT this morning. Dr. Ride on the cretinous Linda Ham:

One of the responsibilities of a NASA manager is to be inquisitive to a fault. You have to ask and ask and ask. If you think there's any hint of a problem, you have to get to the bottom of it. In my mind, the question was not, Who is asking this question? What the managers needed to be asking is, What are the potential consequences of this foam hit? And tell me now.

There wasn't any of that quality that Mission Control is almost famous for, which is grabbing onto the pants legs of a problem and not letting go until it understands what the problem is and what the implications are. And that didn't happen in this case. The managers, the Mission Management Team and the Mission Evaluation Room, did not grab onto this problem and insist on an answer. It was really quite the opposite. They assumed they knew the answer. They assumed the foam was not going to be a problem. And they were insisting that people disprove the preconception they had.

Picture Gene Kranz and his crew sitting around Mission Control during Apollo 13. "Well, maybe it'll be all right...fire up the LM? No, we don't need to do anything else...."

Many good insights. Read it.

Brave Men

It's too common among the Neo-cons to criticise the UN. For at least a partial cure, read CNN's piece on the attempt to rescue UN head of mission Sergio Vieira de Mello from the wreckage of his Baghdad office. The story of US Army 1st Sergeant William von Zehle's efforts to save Sergio Viera de Mello and Sergio's own courage is a moving one.

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