Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Thursday, 28 July 2005 11:24 UK

Shuttle launch: Your comments

Discovery on the launch pad
The space shuttle Discovery has launched from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the second page of your comments.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Those who fly on the shuttle are aware of both the risks and the critical importance of the missions they undertake
Dan, Chicago, USA
Those who claim that manned space exploration is pointless or a waste of resources demonstrate a frightening ignorance of the historical and potential benefits of the space program. This is especially ironic in light of the space program's ultimate goal: reducing our ignorance of the universe around us. Those who fly on the shuttle are aware of both the risks and the critical importance of the missions they undertake. Good luck and Godspeed.
Dan, Chicago, USA

Between 1970 and 2004 the African nations received almost $570bn in aid and loans so dictators could fight wars against each other. NASA costs the US around $18bn a year and pushes almost every technological and scientific boundary to its limits, hence developing new technologies. I hope the launches go on so I can get off this backwards planet!
Simon Triste, Letchworth, Herts England

To all those pessimists and doubters, what would have happened had Columbus and others looked out to sea and said, "Hmm, looks a bit too choppy, we might sink and even if we don't sink there might be nothing out there." There's a whole galaxy out there, they might be tentative, small steps but they've got to be made.
Bob S, London

I still don't understand what NASA actually does to justify the ridiculous amount of money thrown at them. Firing a rocket into the sky is just crazy! There has to be more to this.
Sarah Wade, Havant, UK

Maybe if the engineers had been allowed to have the design they wanted, rather than the one the bean counters insisted on (the engineers originally threw it out), there would have been less fatalities and the programme would be forging ahead and not tied up trying to patch up a cheap design. They may be sparing no expense to get it flying again, but you can be sure it'll be back to the cheapest (NOT most cost-effective) means possible afterwards.
Jeremy Broadribb, Horsham UK

The Americans are so proud of the shuttle and rightly so
Paula Berry, Guildford, Surrey
I was at the aborted space shuttle launch. The Americans are so proud of the shuttle and rightly so, it is a fantastic achievement. I wish them every success with this mission and am so sorry I am not in Florida to experience the launch first hand.
Paula Berry, Guildford, Surrey

The ISS is vital for mankind. The shuttle is the only vehicle we have for finishing that mega project. Good luck, Discovery.
Roger, Whitwick, England

I think sending humans into space is a waste of resources. Of late more has been achieved by the robotic missions to Mars etc. and require a fraction of the resources required to send a human into space.
Ed, Edinburgh

Of course the shuttle launch should go ahead. The crew are willing to take the risk, which we should all be grateful for. The advances in many sciences, in particular medical science, from space flight have been nothing but spectacular.
Dave Endsor, Stockport

The United States is too far into the space programme to quit now. I do not like the idea of risking the lives of the crew. Yet, they are willing to take the risk. My major concern is that the spacecrafts they are using are so old. If we are going to send people into space, why not use the most current technology?
Richard Melville, Midland, Texas

Perhaps we can underwrite the Soyuz program to feed the shuttle until we can fix the fundamental problems
Mick Anderson, Memphis, TN, USA
NASA has become a one-trick pony in regards to manned space flight. In the '60s we had a plan and a great deal of luck. Now our shuttle is showing its age and minor design flaws have become fatal. NASA has all but admitted the 'unfixability' of the craft by mounting observation cameras rather than going to the core issues. Perhaps we can underwrite the Soyuz program to feed the shuttle until we can fix the fundamental problems.
Mick Anderson, Memphis, TN, USA

I'm sure NASA are the experts in this field. They know if the launch should go ahead or not. If they think that everything is safe enough, then let them get on with it. Best of luck to all of them!
Michael, Bucks

While I am a keen supporter of space exploration and development, I am inclined to agree with those who have pointed out that the current space programme is using up resources that could be better used elsewhere. If the US government isn't going to work seriously on producing resources from space (e.g. asteroid capture missions, orbital manufacturing), they should spend their money elsewhere. The US space programme has achieved amazing things, but at the moment it seems to be doing little besides soaking up money and expertise.
Keith Fraser, Oxford, UK

I wish everyone who is British stop telling the USA how they should or should not spend their own taxpayers money! It is none of our business. Go America and good luck on your shuttle mission.
Peter Byrd, Worcester, UK

I wish that the technician should first fix the fuel problem, before any launch takes place, we had already in the past two disasters, a third one will be too much for the future of the space science
O Barre, London

Many may complain that the shuttle should go ahead and launch, stating that it is important for technological advancements. I doubt any of those people who claim that, have loved ones who will be astronauts on that shuttle. Let's put people first, advancements second.
Adrianne Di Re, Washington, DC, USA

What would the world be like if people just settled for what they had and never went to sea to explore?
John Staniford, Liverpool, UK
Technological advancements will be brought about following what is encountered on these missions. We are not going to adapt if we don't know what to adapt to. The shuttles should fly again, man should remain in space. What would the world be like if people just settled for what they had and never went to sea to explore?
John Staniford, Liverpool, UK

Soldiers know the risks when they join an army, yet we don't stop them going to war. Racing drivers know they could die in a crash, thousands die on our roads. And in turn astronauts know the dangers and still want to go into space riding on 10,000 gallons of insanely highly flammable fuel. Launch the rocket as soon as possible and in the meantime start designing the next space shuttle. If several entrepreneurs can design reusable crafts that nearly get into space, imagine what NASA with their budget can do. The sooner the better, progress doesn't come by sitting round table all the time. You need the field missions, training and the expertise.
Tom, Northumberland

While I am a keen supporter of space exploration and development, I am inclined to agree with those who have pointed out that the current space programme is using up resources that could be better used elsewhere. If the US government isn't going to work seriously on producing resources from space (e.g. asteroid capture missions, orbital manufacturing), they should spend their money elsewhere. The US space programme has achieved amazing things, but at the moment it seems to be doing little besides soaking up money and expertise.
Keith Fraser, Oxford, UK

When over a billion people living on our own planet don't even have access to clean water, surely it seems ridiculous to be spending vast amounts of money on this? I know plenty of money is wasted on arms, wars etc as well, but surely it's time the big leaders sorted out their priorities before it's too late?
Clare, Essex, UK

Clare, Essex, UK - the space shuttle launched a satellite currently being used in Darfur to find underground reserves of clean water. NASA has got its priorities entirely right!
Peter, Nottingham

I see no logical reason for spending that much money and risking that many lives
Dale, Swansea, Wales
Do we really need to send people into space? Our technology is clearly not advanced enough to get people into space and back home safely and to be honest the ISS doesn't look like somewhere I'd want to go on holiday! We should be focusing on using satellites, like the ice monitoring satellite to reverse the damage we have done to the planet. Once our technology is advanced enough and we've got climate change under control, then start sending people into space. As it stands I see no logical reason for spending that much money and risking that many lives.
Dale, Swansea, Wales

Like Mir, the shuttle has been an incredible achievement which has been dragged out beyond its designed life by accountants seeking to save money. Nasa should put this vehicle to rest in the museum where it belongs and move on. Perhaps they should copy the Chinese design?
Jan, UK

The space shuttle is an experimental design and was never meant to be the finished product. Lockheed only made four because the shuttle was never meant to go into mass production. The shuttle has been in use for over two decades, and has been useful, and now it's about time Nasa drew up plans for a non-experimental space craft, instead of using the same old technology.
Mark, Brisbane, Australia

What a world we live in! Most people believe there is other life in the universe yet begrudge the US launching a space mission. People who know nothing about how these things work complain about fuel consumption. Non-Americans try to tell the US how it should spend its money. Just curious, didn't Europe put something into space recently? Could this just be sour grapes that they cannot dominate space? Typical.
Jeff, Atlanta, USA

To Jeff in Atlanta: no one should dominate Space, it is not ours to own or dominate. I think we as a planet should explore space, not fight over who has the most money or technology.
DR, Cheshire, UK

I feel confident that NASA has their smartest engineers and scientists working on the problem
Mike Gillis, Salt Lake City, USA
There must be a reason for the sensor to fail. I feel confident that NASA has their smartest engineers and scientists working on the problem. The last thing that anybody wants to see is another disaster. I trust the judgement of the experts in this scenario.
Mike Gillis, Salt Lake City, USA

To all the complainers: Go see a live shuttle launch. You will be forever changed by the experience.
Mark, Arizona, USA

The fact that the very first mission in the late 70's was a success doesn't mean that the shuttle's design isn't basically flawed. One disaster is more than enough, and there have already been three of them. The entire ensemble simply doesn't look right, quite apart from the fact that the shuttle should have an all over (fuselage, wings, tank, boosters, everywhere) mesh carrying a very low current to prevent ice build-up, very similar to what you have on some road vehicle's windscreens and rear window panes.
Mr A Jenery, Hove, England

The US can afford to do it, the US needs to do it and the US must do it. Maintaining spy equipment or any military needs will require missions of this type whether it is shuttle or rocket. The astronauts know the risks and are prepared to do it for their self glory as well as benefits for the US then let them. You are not going to stop them anyhow.
Barry, Folkestone, UK

The shuttle is powered by the cleanest fuels imaginable
Dave, Chatham, England
To all those who criticise the waste of fuel and make wild claims of environmental catastrophe, you should get your facts straight. Do you think the shuttle is powered by gasoline? The real environmental threat is the plane you take on holiday. The shuttle is powered by the cleanest fuels imaginable - hydrogen and oxygen. The only waste product is pure water. I am a keen supporter of the environment, and I am desperate for the shuttle launch to go ahead and succeed. Most people have no concept of how many of our advances in the last 50 years are dependant in some way on expensive space exploration. If you want cleaner energy and better medical, materials and agricultural science to help all the world then you should support manned space flight.
Dave, Chatham, England

Russia does not have this problem. We should go back to rockets; they work and it's cheap. You can launch a rocket in snow, but if the wind is too strong the shuttle cannot take off. The shuttle as it stands is a bad design. Too many things can go wrong inside and outside to cause problems. We need a new space vehicle that is not weather dependant, and is cheap to use.
Gabriel Strange, Wolverhampton, UK

The shuttle should only launch if every safety indicator says so. There is no playing around with the crew's safety. It must be the primary concerns of the NASA engineers and I'm sure it is.
Mike Daly, Miami, FL, USA

As a former shuttle engineer, we all realize it is a very complicated machine where a small failure from a seemingly unimportant part may cause a catastrophic failure. Everyone at the agency understands this. We do everything to reduce the risks, but no craft will ever be completely safe. Approximately 50,000 people are killed every year driving on roads in the USA, yet I don't hear any plans to take away vehicle keys from everyone.
J Pflurath, Marietta, GA, USA

NASA can take reasonable caution, but anyone that thinks this process can be rendered safe need to get a reality check
Tim Watkins, Cardiff
At our current level of social organisation, science and technology, going into space means being strapped to tons of highly explosive chemicals put together by several hundred companies who promised to build the components on the cheap. NASA can take reasonable caution, but anyone that thinks this process can be rendered safe need to get a reality check.
Tim Watkins, Cardiff

When you watch a shuttle lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center, the ground literally trembles under your feet. As you see that magnificent craft soar into space, you cannot help but be moved and view the majority of the launch through the blur of tear-filled eyes. My father was a 'rocket scientist' at NASA and I grew up hearing stories of the hard work and dedication. The shuttle disasters left those people devastated yet resolute that fatal accidents would not happen again on their watch.
Kathi Wright, Chicago USA

Instead of trying to colonise other planets, we should be looking after our own Earth which has all the life support systems we need. How frivolous of the West to be spending so much money on what they say is in the interests of humanity when so many of our fellow humans on this Earth are lacking basic living conditions, such as clean drinking water and food.
Matthew Scott, Wimbledon, London

I'd just like to point out to all the people who complain that the shuttle design is 30 years old and therefore obsolete, that the Boeing 747 that thousands of people travel on for their holidays every year is based on an even older design, it dates back the 1960s.
Kevin, Edinburgh

What else can damage those tiles on the way up?
Bill, Wells, England
The shuttle design is basically flawed. No other space vehicle exposes its re-entry shield during launch. Okay, a piece of tank insulation is unlikely to cause a catastrophe now, but what else can damage those tiles on the way up?
Bill, Wells, England

Definitely, regardless of the cost, man must continue to explore the universe and it is important that the international space station is completed. At the moment the Shuttle is the only vehicle that can deliver some of the essential components. Already medicine has greatly benefited, as has the viability of food crops in places like Africa. Without the shuttle, we will not be able to take advantage of the technological advantages that it provides!
Allen Funnell, Cambridge, UK

I would love to see this launch go ahead. I was so disappointed when the last launch had to be delayed. However, the safety of the crew is critical to completion of the mission and all precautions should be taken to ensure their safe trip to the ISS.
G Borodovsky, Sierra Madre, CA USA

No, this mission should not go ahead. When I asked people this question in my workplace, the consensus was that space exploration is simply "boys and their toys" and that this type of research wreaks environmental havoc for very little return. Surely this money would be better spent on schemes which are proven to help our environment, such as recycling.
Dr Christine M, Northumberland, UK

We have to press on with space exploration to see what it will reveal
Chris, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The mission should go ahead so long as there are no last minute glitches. Space travel is dangerous, it always will be but we have to press on with space exploration to see what it will reveal - I'm not talking about aliens but medical advances and other scientific discoveries are all going to happen if we press forward. As has been pointed out, astronauts know the risks and are the last people who want the mission stopped and earth plunged into a second 'dark ages' period.
Chris, Amsterdam, Netherlands

No, this mission should not go ahead. When I asked people this question in my workplace, the consensus was that space exploration is simply "boys and their toys" and that this type of research wreaks environmental havoc for very little return. Surely this money would be better spent on schemes which are proven to help our environment, such as recycling.
Dr Christine M, Northumberland, UK

The shuttle used to be a symbol of national pride in America. Now it is fast becoming a symbol of institutional incompetence and just how far removed the decision makers in Washington are from the real world. It needs replacing with something practical fast or simply abandoning.
Martin, Streatham, England

Where would we be if the first horse and cart that tipped over stopped any more being driven?
John, Nottingham
Of course it should go ahead. Where would we be if the first horse and cart that tipped over stopped any more being driven? The astronauts are aware of the risks but the advancement in knowledge and the further exploration of space is what these people are working towards.
John, Nottingham

After the recent discovery of technical problems, I think NASA should go back to the drawing board to ensure that any further mission is as safe as it can be. You cannot rush something as important as this.
Chris, Wuppertal, Germany

Yes I believe the shuttle should go ahead on launch day next Tuesday because I know Nasa engineers have done every thing they can to make the shuttle a safe spacecraft.
Rob Smith, Vancouver

Nasa has a responsibility to absolutely ensure that no such accidents will ever happen again
R Chan, Hong Kong
It is inconceivable that accidents like the 2003 disaster could ever have happened. I think Nasa has a responsibility to absolutely ensure that no such accidents will ever happen again. The agency should consider halting Discovery's launch if a slight doubt about the functioning of any part of the spacecraft ever arises.
R Chan, Hong Kong

I am really looking forward to the Discovery launch and I am sure it will bring wonderful new ideas to the international space program. With everything that is going on in the world, I wish that someday everyone would have the opportunity see the Earth from space. It would be a humbling experience and show us how insignificant our disputes are back on Earth.
JS, Ottawa, Canada

I wish the crew well on Tuesday. It has been said that the shuttle is old and expensive - which it is. However there is nothing to replace it at the moment. If the shuttle does not fly, the ISS itself will fail. It's all very well saying the money spent on the Space Program could help wipe out world debt, but there needs to be an infrastructure in the third world that can cope with the challenges debt relief would give.
Cody, Austin, TX, US

Space exploration and science was undaunted in pursuit of orbiting Earth, and landings on the moon. The spirit of exploration and discovery that enabled the earlier years of the space program, with its many perils, with its higher levels of risk, need to be reinvigorated. They need to be given new life and new hope. We must trust that the launch of the Discovery will help to achieve that renewal, in continued preparation for humankind to venture far beyond the boundaries of previous conquests.
Bob Ezergailis, Canada

The shuttle missions must go on
H Amidhozour, Tehran, Iran
The shuttle missions must go on. The 2003 accident was truly sad, but scientists are aware of the risks when it comes to exploring outer space. The only way we are going to learn about the stars and planets are through such missions. I hope NASA continues their missions for years to come.
H Amidhozour, Tehran, Iran

I will be glad when the US is back in space on a regular basis. In their job, astronauts take and know the risks involved in space exploration. The shuttle is a complex machine and it has seemed to have been on a number of missions which were successful. One crashing goes with the territory like driving cars. Someone sometime somewhere is going to die and astronauts accept this for their love of space and lifelong endeavours of exploration. We must push on, should be the motto.
Michael, USA

I wish the crew well on Tuesday. It has been said that the Shuttle is old and expensive - which it is. However there is nothing to replace it at the moment. If the shuttle does not fly the ISS itself will fail. It's all very well saying the money spent on the Space Program could help wipe-out world debt, but there needs to be an infrastructure in the third world that can cope with the challenges debt-relief would give. Diverting money from the space program without specific planning for the third world will do nothing. Continue to fund the Space Program, with new vehicles and also establish a realistic way to overcome third world problems.
Cody, Austin, TX, US

I am really looking forward to the Discovery launch and I am sure it will bring wonderful new ideas to the international space program. With everything that is going on in the world, I wish that someday everyone would have the opportunity see the earth from space and do their share for the space program. It would be a humbling experience and it would show us how insignificant our disputes are back on earth.
JS, Ottawa, Canada

Maybe the folks recommending that the shuttle should be scrapped so the money 'spared' can be given to developing countries should look at their respective countries defence budgets in relation to the costs of the shuttle programme. Maybe it's time to look at a flagrant waste of money which provides no inspiration to anyone.
SW,UK

I would much rather see money being spent on the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking program
Lorraine Robinson, UK
I would much rather see money being spent on a more focused issue such as the NEAT program (Near Earth Asteroid Tracking). If ever such an event should pose a threat to our planet, we need to be ready.
Lorraine Robinson, UK

Space is the new frontier and any risk in the situation is more than acceptable for the monumental scientific impact that is sure to develop with these continued space voyages.
Winston McNulty, Chicago

I have no doubt in the skills of the people involved. My concerns center around the dated vehicle they are piloting. Automobiles of this age in the US are considered 'classics'. Most are off the road rusting in junkyards.
Rob G, Kansas City, USA

I am sure that every possible precaution will be taken to avoid any accident. The bravery shown by the astronauts make us all proud, as their achievements belong to all of mankind.
Esra Karatash Alpay, Istanbul, Turkey

This is about more than just the shuttle
Rachel, Leuven, Belgium
I bet the poor astronauts and cosmonauts on the ISS cant wait for Discovery to get up there with provisions, fuel and more people. This is about more than just the shuttle. If the US cant get the shuttle working, the ISS will never be completed, and it will just be a more expensive, less effective Mir.
Rachel, Leuven, Belgium

I hope this and all of the subsequent shuttle missions go off without a hitch. For all of you folks who prattle on about the money being used here on Earth, please consider that this funding likely wouldn't be feeding the third world but might possibly be feeding the US Air Force's space weapons programs.
Victor, Columbus, Ohio

The shuttle was originally part of America's mine's-bigger-than-yours contest with the Soviet Union. Now that America has well and truly won, why not redevelop a modern space programme that pushes technology forwards, instead of struggling on with these expensive old 1970s-technology vehicles?
Rob Findlay, Shrewsbury, UK

Astronauts who take part in space missions are fully aware of the risks involved. Space research and development is still very much in its infancy. To abandon it now would be an insult to the memory of those who have lost their lives to further it.
Iain, Scotland

I would take the ride tomorrow and not even ask about the risk
James, UK
I would take the ride tomorrow and not even ask about the risk. I have visited the Kennedy visitor complex seven times and done most of the tours available and never met a more dedicated group of people. 35 years ago these people achieved the greatest achievement of mankind to date so let's not right them off because of two accidents.
James, UK

From the comments so far, there is a lot of criticism of fuel and money wastage. How many gallons of fuel are wasted just by people of Britain from unnecessary car journeys today, or wasted electricity on lights and heat at home?
Chris Thompson, Newcastle upon Tyne

The exploration and conquest of space is more important than helping the third world. It is just $17 billion out of a federal budget measured in trillions. The US has always been a frontier nation. It is a testament to its health as a country when we reach and try to the near impossible.
Jonathan, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

I was shocked and saddened by the Columbia disaster in 2003, but I do not see it as a barrier. Those astronauts died doing something they were trained to do, and had probably been wanting to do since childhood. You are bound to get deaths in space travel; it is inevitable, and no rocket or space shuttle is absolutely safe. The astronauts aboard Columbia knew what the risks were, as do all astronauts who venture into space.
Laura Johnson, UK

I have nothing but the utmost admiration for the astronauts
Lesley, Warrington
When I was 11, I saw the first ever shuttle launch, then in 2003 I saw Columbia take off. An experience that I will never forget, the sound, the emotion but ultimately the support from the American people. I have nothing but the utmost admiration for the astronauts. I say good luck to them all and my eyes are green with jealousy!
Lesley, Warrington

It is time for Nasa to embark on radically new and better designs for manned space vehicles. Once they are developed, tested, and in service, these remaining old shuttles can be sold off to the EU Space Agency. Europeans have demonstrated that they are very happy to settle for thirty-five year old American or Russian technology, witness the A380 a passenger near clone of the C5A, and their plans to build their own space shuttle.
Mark, USA

When it was first launched it was one of the most complex and daring programmes since the Apollo program. But that was 30 years ago. So many changes in technology and the fact that the launch stresses on the shuttle indicate that Nasa should really restart their replacement program. They should also introduce the so-called cargo shuttles. These launch cargo into space without anyone on board. Coincide this with a human-carrying shuttle launch and we can get more mission for less than the cost of two. Such a move will accelerate our progress into space and open the gateway to future exploration.
Peter Stagg, Bourne End, Bucks

I hope that this mission is successful, but I'm worried that the remaining shuttles will continue to be used purely to catch up with the demands of commerce and the US military, who provided most of the funding for the space shuttle in the first place. The space shuttle has become a technological albatross around Nasa's neck, and needs to be retired if Nasa and much of the world's efforts in space exploration are to survive. When the shuttle first went to space in 1981 Nasa's view was that by 2000 shuttle operations would be seen as "orbital trucking", and the US government would privatise it and let Nasa get back to science. The Challenger disaster put paid to that timetable, but that was the long-term view that the program was built around.
Trev, Stevenage, UK

Space exploration is a source of great pride and inspiration
PM, NYC, US
I always look forward to every mission and am in awe of the courage of the astronauts who man these flights and the brilliance of the engineers and scientists who build the ships. My only regret is that all nations are not pooling resources and personnel to accomplish these incredible journeys to the stars together, all humanity has a stake in this endeavour. Space exploration is a source of great pride and inspiration for nations and their citizens, especially the younger generation. Maybe, through such cooperation, we would start to recognize our real relationship to each other, that we are all native residents of a beautiful little spot in the galaxy and we are of one kind. We could really use some cosmic unity.
PM, NYC, US

Actually, although the cost of the space program seems like a huge amount of money, it would only scrape the surface of the amount needed to relieve poverty and climate problems. Whereas, the technological advances that filter down from the space program by far contribute more to higher standards of living for all.
Tim, , UK

For the past 40 years or so just about every advancement in computer technology, engineering, medicine, science, weather forecasting, mineral exploration, communications and thousands of other commonly used technologies are a direct result of research from the space program. It is just unbelievable that so many people are ignorant of this fact and are calling for the program to be scrapped. Next time you watch the news and see a hurricane warning, imagine what it would be like if we didn't have a space program.
Richard Ruiz, Costa Mesa, CA, USA

Concorde was the greatest airliner the world has ever seen and when she was grounded aviation went backwards. Sadly the same may happen to the Shuttle.
Chris Parker, Padbury

I'm really looking forward to the launch. It may come as a surprise to many, but there are a lot of people in the UK that are as enthusiastic about Nasa and space exploration just as Americans are! I remember where I was when Colombia broke up on re-entry in Feb 2003 - it was really sad. I've followed the "reincarnation" of Nasa with its new vision over the past two years - Return To Flight is of great importance to all nations involved in ISS. Several new systems have been employed to protect the shuttles over the next five years. Nasa can now visually track the shuttle from launch to ISS dock in high resolution, they can even repair the shuttle's under-body in space or send up a "rescue" shuttle! The remaining shuttles are absolutely crucial to completing ISS. Only then can they be retired and fully replaced by Nasa's new CEV vehicles. Once ISS is complete the world can use it as a platform to prepare for international missions back to the Moon and onto Mars and thereby freeing up low Earth orbit to private ventures like Virgin Galactic! Godspeed Discovery!
D Brown, Birmingham, UK

The latest incidents involving the Shuttle show that it shouldn't fly again. After all, Concorde basically stopped flying after one accident in its entire flying history. Nasa should be developing a new more reliable version of the shuttle, maybe they should look at the winner of the X prize for some guidance.
Tony, UK

I have faith in NASA and the Discovery mission
Christine, Northampton
I was lucky enough to meet one of the seven astronauts killed in 2003's Columbia disaster. I hope that nothing like that will EVER happen again. I have faith in NASA and the Discovery mission.
Christine, Northampton

The space program is a paradox as Americans consider it both a huge waste of money and, at the same time, are fascinated and proud of it. I think it is a good barometer of our faith in the future, science, and ourselves. My guess is it is not going to be cancelled anytime soon.
Steve Mac, Boston MA,USA

At the speed aerospace technology was moving in the 50s, 60s and 70s it would have been inconceivable then that we would still be relying on this flawed, expensive and unreliable relic in the 21st Century. It was never designed to be in service for this length of time and should be replaced as soon as is humanly possible.
Dan, Yateley, UK

What is the point of the space shuttle? At a cost of billions of dollars, is it really justified? That money could go a long way to writing off Third World debt. Weigh that up against the great contribution made by space travel: non-stick saucepans!
Daniel, London, England

Those who don't believe the space program benefits humanity aren't looking deep enough into the subject
Mike M, Austin, USA
Beyond the circus, there is a great deal of hard work going into medical research, engineering, communications technology etc. Those who don't believe the space program benefits humanity aren't looking deep enough into the subject. Let's not forget the PCs we're all gazing into are a result of the space missions of the 1960s.
Mike M, Austin, USA

Cancelling this waste of money would go a long way to contribute to both the climate problems and more aid for Africa, as recently discussed by the G8.
Rob, Bolton, UK

I think NASA would be the first to admit that whilst it has done excellent work, overall the shuttle program has not lived up to expectations. The costs and complexity are too high. I think that NASA will now be using the shuttle as infrequently as possible, treading water essentially, until their next stage launch vehicle is up and running.
MNB, Leicester, UK

NASA is making the best possible effort for a successful launch and their tireless work should be lauded.
ASDR, Mississauga, Canada

Hopefully in a few years there'll be a suitable replacement for the shuttle fleet
Andrew, Cardiff, UK
There's an expression for things that are simple - "It's not rocket science". Well this IS rocket science. It's complicated and dangerous. It is also the greatest endeavour that mankind has ever embarked upon. Hopefully in a few years there'll be a suitable replacement for the shuttle fleet. Until then though we can only hope that the vigilance of engineers will avert another loss.
Andrew, Cardiff, UK

It really just reinforces the growing view that manned space exploration is a white elephant. It looks impressive but is actually very poor value for money compared to unmanned space exploration and far more risky.
Christian Matthews, Liverpool, UK

Would you fly on a thirty year old airliner, of which only five were ever built, two of which had crashed killing all on board? I may sound like a Luddite, but maybe there were things we were just never meant to do.
Dr Reece Walker, London

I congratulate Mike Griffin for postponing the launch. With Bush's grossly unrealistic exploration goals, you can bet he was under tremendous pressure to launch on time, but he put the safety of the astronauts first. Well Done!
Andy, Stafford, UK

It's time to build a true successor to the space shuttle
Ray, Soton, UK
The shuttle is now 20 odd years old. Would you travel at over 17,000mph in a 20-year-old vehicle? It's time to build a true successor to the space shuttle, a fully reusable craft that can achieve the shuttles original goal of routine weekly departures to space. Then once we can hop in and out of Earth orbit reliably and cheaply we can look at the Moon and Mars.
Ray, Soton, UK

The changes to the shuttle are like lots of sticky plasters. The numerous cameras to review possible damage is all well and good but what's the point if the Discovery doesn't have the tile repair kit onboard? I'm surprised they still put 7 very rare people in there given that 14 have sadly been lost in the programme to date. There must be a safer way to launch a craft these days instead of strapping it to a million gallons of fuel.
Gary, Herts, UK

One can only marvel at the courage and commitment of the crews. For them to undertake a mission in order to preserve the budget allocated to the programme is above and beyond any call of duty.
ken, Wirral, England

I hope the shuttle is scrapped and soon. It is eating up an enormous amount of money that would be better spent developing the next generation of spacecraft that can fly from a runway straight into orbit (without extra strap-on tanks and booster rockets) and which can be quickly prepared for another flight in the same way as a normal aircraft. The goal must be to reduce the cost of getting into orbit - achieving that will benefit everyone.
Mal Lansell, Finedon, England

Better safe than sorry. The Space launch may take a few more days with glitches here and glitches there but once all these annoying problems are fixed, America can stand tall again at least where space exploration is concerned. They have earned their successes thanks to JF Kennedy's vision and foresight.
Pancha Chandra, Brussel, Belgium

A 30 year old spacecraft that has parts built by various companies across the states all done at the lowest price possible. It's about time the fleet was replaced by something more 'international'. But it is good that NASA is committed to carrying on with space travel. Good luck with the mission.
Jason Rice, Crawley, Sussex

It is to be expected that some component will break down, and delays for this should be applauded as lives are at risk
Norman West, Truro
The space shuttle is most likely the most complicated and sophisticated vehicle ever built. It is to be expected that some component will break down, and delays for this should be applauded as lives are at risk. I wish my car had been as reliable as the shuttle over time.
Norman West, Truro

It will be great to see a shuttle fly again, as they are awesome pieces of engineering. But at the same time, the shuttles are a massive economical failure. They gobble up a disproportionate part of NASA's budget and, by today's standards, rely on overly complex, fault-prone and obsolete technology. The shuttles should therefore be retired as soon as possible, and replaced by a saner system.
Jeroen, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

I believe that the sensor problem will be quickly rectified by NASA. The time delay is probably due more to emptying the fuel tank than replacing the offending sensor. I work on Ariane 5 and we were scheduled to launch on the 11th July but have encountered minor problems with the ground support equipment. Sometimes I wonder how systems that have functioned perfectly time after time suddenly decide not to. However this is a risky business and safety is more important than a few days delay. I wish NASA a glitch free flight and maybe we will still be able to launch before them.
Ian, Germany

It's very expensive to have all of the equipment sitting around for weeks until a sensor is repaired
Brian, Edinburgh
That it actually gets off the ground! It may sound extremely negative but NASA needs this to work or the programme will be scrapped. It's very expensive to have all of the equipment sitting around for weeks until a sensor is repaired. Of course safety comes first and space exploration is expensive but if you're building up costs without any actual exploration, questions need to be asked about its future viability.
Brian, Edinburgh

I would like to see the space program be more science and less circus. The cost of many unmanned projects that are currently being dropped pales in comparison to the cost of a single shuttle mission.
Bill Carter, Los Angeles, California

This latest delay is unfortunate but essential. Under no circumstances can more lives be risked. However, it is of some concern that lack of quality control should lead to such a fundamental failure at this stage.
Chas Gill, Bishop's Stortford, Herts

Considering it's been 2 years since the Columbia accident, you'd think that this new shuttle would have been properly checked and double-checked for problems.
Stewart, Bracknell, Berkshire

To Katharine Friedmann, Leicester: There is an exhibition on your doorstep (the National Space Centre) which shows very clearly how space research benefits the population of the planet in developed and developing countries alike. Far from diverting money away from poor countries, the international space programme is an essential tool in combating the widespread poverty which blights the third world.
Nigel Bannister, Leicester, UK

Space exploration benefits everybody
Tom Brown, Kongsberg, Norway
The space programme is one of the few applications of engineering and science that commands the ability to create awe, imagination and pride in the resourcefulness of human kind. The people who claim space exploration is a waste of money obviously have little foresight and imagination or the drive to push boundaries. Space exploration benefits everybody.
Tom Brown, Kongsberg, Norway

It has just been delayed again because of another faulty system. I think it may be time to scrap the shuttle programme all together and spend the money on a more noble cause like a manned mission to Mars.
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio

I'm surprised that Nasa have not moved on to a smaller re-usable craft that can be launched by "piggyback" or at least not have to depend on such a dangerous launch. Maybe it's the only way for now of fitting out the ISS, but as has been said earlier, the shuttle fleet is getting past its sell-by date. Good luck to the mission and safe home to the brave astronauts of Discovery.
Mike, Limerick, Ireland

Good luck Discovery. Without the intrepid women and men on such flights, the human race would have few unknowns to inspire and dream about.
Tim F, Oxford, UK

I hope that this is the start of a further push for the development of the International Space Station and possible future missions to the Red Planet. I also hope that it passes off safely.
Jordan Dias, London, UK

I started working on the Columbus segment of The International Space Station Project in 1984. Twenty one years later it still sits in Germany unlaunched because of the Shuttle accidents. I retired 11 years ago, little did I think it would take this long. The ESA European engineers and taxpayers would like to see their project in orbit and operational use please. Good luck Nasa.
Robin, Oxfordshire

I find space interesting but there are more important issues to deal with
Katharine Friedmann, Leicester, UK
I hope the people involved will all spare a thought for people worldwide who live in poverty and who could have used that money to save lives. I find space interesting but there are more important issues to deal with.
Katharine Friedmann, Leicester, UK

I visited the Kennedy Space Centre and did the up close tour of the launch pads. It is truly a magnificent place to be. All the best NASA and God be with your crew.
Charles, Crawley, UK

One of the things on my 'places to go' list is seeing a space shuttle launch at Kennedy. Awesome stuff. Good luck NASA.
Matt, Plymouth

Really looking forward to continuing to build the space station and for man to have a permanent presence in space. The shuttle hasn't got long to go before it is replaced with new technology so here's to a successful mission.
Paul Robinson, Grimsby, England

Good luck to the Discovery mission and all involved
Kenny H, Glasgow, Scotland
This is an important step for the US space programme. Good luck to the Discovery mission and all involved. After the tragic events of the Columbia shuttle it is heart-warming to be at the stage of another launch.
Kenny H, Glasgow, Scotland

I wish them God Speed. Americans have a great love of the space program. There is always danger and I admire these brave people.
Barbara, New York, USA

I have no hopes for this mission, except for the safe return for the individuals on board. The NASA programme has been a total irrelevance to most people's lives for decades.
Michael Townsend, London

I am looking forward to a successful mission. However, the shuttle is past its sell by date and needs to be scrapped.
Philip, Glasgow

I still clearly recall sitting with my son watching the incredible 1969 moon landing. We should not let terrible tragedies like Columbia defeat us. I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to experience the same joy and wonder I felt then as man continues to reach for the stars.
Bill Stitt, Edinburgh, Lothian

I can't help but feel we would be better off spending money protecting our own planet
Hazel Adamson, Shetland Islands, UK
Space exploration is incredibly interesting, but I can't help but feel that right now we would be better off spending money, time and energy protecting our own planet rather than learning about new ones.
Hazel Adamson, Shetland Islands, UK

My view is that after a launch or two to the space station, another launch to repair Hubble should be undertaken. If NASA does not rise to that relatively simple task, then they should not push forward with their plans for manned space flight to the Moon or elsewhere. Hubble remains one of the most outstanding telescopes available to man. Its age does not matter.
Alex, Woking, UK

I'm disappointed that the resumption of the shuttle flights took so long. Although the loss of the Columbia was a tragedy, we have to realize that space flight is inherently dangerous and there will be losses from time to time. I hope this mission gives NASA some much needed confidence and reminds Americans of the importance of the exploration of space.
Michael James, Montreal, Canada

My hopes for the shuttle mission is that the crew walk away from the landing.
TJ Cassidy, Arlington, VA, USA




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