—News From the Brink, Shuttle Foam Cracked, Hawking Again


News from the brink
FOXNews.com – Israel’s PM Rejects Ultimatum From Soldier’s Captors – The Mideast
Israel has apparently finally lost all patience with Palestinian leaders, as the Hamas-led government inconceivably raised its demand for the return of its hostage from 1,000 imprisoned Palestinians to 1,500. Even more amazing, the Hamas government seems to believe that its terrorist incursion into Israel and kidnapping of Israeli citizens, coupled with such tactics as regular bombardment of Israeli settlements with homebuilt rockets, should give it the moral high ground in international debates on the situation.
FOXNews.com [AP]- Mexican Candidates Each Declare Victory
Mexican voters have cast their ballots, and the election is too close to call. Mexico is perilously close to the kind of radical isolationism that has made nations like Cuba and Venezuela what they are today. This won’t help the social and living conditions of the Mexican people any more than border fences and trade restrictions.
FOXNews.com[AP] – North Korea Warns of ‘Annihilating Strike and a Nuclear War’ if U.S. Attacks
North Korea responded predictably to threats of U.S. pre-emptive attacks on its long-range missile testing.
We must pray for these nations and their people, for wisdom for the leaders involved, for peace in which the Truth can be spoken openly in all these places, and for God’s Will to be accomplished before all else.

Lessons learned
Crack Found in Foam on Shuttle Fuel Tank
New problem found on shuttle tank – Return to Flight – MSNBC.com
The Flame Trench space blog by Florida Today
Spaceflight Now | STS-121 Shuttle Report | Crack found in Discovery external tank insulation
A crack has been found in foam insulation on a bracket for the external tank’s oxygen plumbing. Worse, the crack caused a piece of foam (see images on FL Today and Spaceflight Now) described as “large enough to damage Discovery’s heat shield”—in fact, it “weighs about half as much as a piece that NASA fears could do severe damage…” —to fall off the Shuttle while it was sitting on the pad!
This reminds me of the incident last year with the ET for Discovery’s previous mission. As I remember, ET was filled with cryogenic fuel a couple of times, then finally removed and returned to Michoud after the fuel sensor refused to cooperate. It was then found to have cracks in its foam, which apparently weren’t there before it was fueled. In the current case, the crack is on a part of the oxygen piping which has to accommodate thermal changes from the supercold oxidizer. It doesn’t seem to make sense to have semi-rigid, fragile foam on something that has to flex to operate, but that’s how it’s done.
NASA has demonstrated its new managerial responsibility by having to think about whether to cancel tomorrow’s planned launch attempt. The decision is expected by 8pm ET tonight.
[Update:
My Way News [AP] – NASA to Try Shuttle Launch Despite Foam
According to the AP, NASA has decided to go for the July 4 launch attempt for Discovery/STS-121. After all, they gotta finish that Space Station….]

Steven Hawking, again….
SPACE.com — Why We Must Flee the Planet: The Geometry of Earth is All Wrong
This time, Hawking is criticizing the design of Earth’s habitation spaces. The problem with Earth? It’s a sphere, which has the least available surface area for a given volume of any shape, and all the people are required to live on the surface. Hawking, naturally, has some ideas for more efficient use of materials.

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