Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Making the delayed trip of Discovery family friendly

Several of Discovery's family of six await their trip. (NASA)

Imagine you are a member of the crew of the next space shuttle flight who are taking a family trip into earth orbit.

You arrive at the Kennedy Space Center to review the itinerary for your twelve day trip to your "hotel in space", the International Space Station.

One sunny morning, you and your family of six astronauts head out and board your vehicle known as the space shuttle Discovery.

The last bags are loaded, the family is strapped in and at the last minute, Uncle Mike Massimino remembers to return the family video camera he used on his last vacation.

The family is excited to be going. For several, they haven't left the planet in a year or more.

However, there is a problem.

A neighbor three miles down the gravel road in a white long trailer-styled home next to a garage can tell that gaseous hydrogen is leaking from the vehicle's tank.

"This needs to be repaired," the father thinks, and tells the family to go back inside the house for a few days as the mechanics make a service call to perform the repair.

As the mechanic is draining the vehicle's tank of the fuel, several cracks on the fuel tank can be seen which are unrelated to the earlier leak.

So now the mechanic informs the family that they can make a few repairs at their home, but will need to have a tow service come out and move the vehicle to the garage for several weeks to ensure there are no further cracks.

Well, deep down the father and his family really wanted to be at the hotel in space hanging with several relatives and a few distant cousins, but feel it would be safer to have the mechanic perform the checks in the garage.

The tow service arrives a few weeks later after the mechanic fixes the cracks, puts new fuel in the tank and then empties the tank.

The tow truck then backs in but gets stuck, and has to spend a day adjusting by several inches just to pick up the vehicle for tow.

The technicians in the garage bring in the vehicle known as Discovery to begin examining her tank.

Meanwhile, the family of six wait... and wait through Christmas, and as they wait they think of new plans they want to try and do on their trip.

The boys say they are looking forward to swimming around for seven hours on two of their vacation days. While the mother wants to take a look at the hotel in space she lived in for six months as she worked away from home.

So the family calls the garage several times to check on their vehicle's progress, but the technicians say that they need to add strengtheners to the vehicles tank after discovering new cracks.

The repairs to the additional cracks continue.

The family waits through through the New Year.

They then consider to take that long awaited trip around Super Bowl Sunday in an attempt to get their father out of the house.

After all, he did have a desk job for a while...

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