Monday, July 03, 2006

Bad omen?

I know news photographers have to work really hard to get new and interesting pictures of shuttle launches. But perhaps this guy worked a little too hard.

The caption:

A vulture sits on a pole near the space shuttle Discovery at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39-B Monday morning July 3, 2006 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Workers inspecting the shuttle's external tank discovered a crack in the insulating foam. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

That's right. On a day when everyone is wondering if we can get the shuttle into orbit and back down to earth safely, we get a photo juxtaposing a vulture with the shuttle.

The launch was scrubbed twice this weekend, and now they've discovered a crack in the foam on the big external tank. They're still hoping to launch on July 4.

Which reminds me of the other crass shuttle-related imagery I've encountered. Way back in 1985, I spent a summer in Germany. One day some friends and I went shopping for fireworks. Among the items we purchased was a large bottle rocket with a little space shuttle on the top. Light it, step back, and watch it climb into the sky and explode.

I thought it was kind of funny at the time, a poorly thought-out tribute. Then two years later Challenger did it for real.

I still find this stuff morbidly funny. I've always had a weakness for gallows humor, which came in handy in the military. But I recognize poor taste when I see it.

Good luck to NASA and the astronauts.

Update: The shuttle launched safely, with no apparent damage from falling foam.

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