Monday, July 03, 2006

Shuttle Vultures

Ever since a vulture smacked into the rocketing space shuttle Discovery during its launch last year, NASA officials are worried enough about another big-bird incident that they are trying several unorthodox schemes to keep the carrion-eaters from the launch pad during liftoff.

They point out that the piece of falling foam that damaged and doomed the Columbia weighed less than 2 pounds, or about half the weight of a typical black vulture. Turkey vultures, which are larger and have pink heads, can weigh 6 pounds with a 6 foot wingspan.

I've seen flocks of these turkey vultures land on my yard and they are huge, creepy looking birds. I hope NASA can figure out a way to keep them away from the Shuttle...

...hmmm, maybe piping in Madonna songs ;-)

Update: I just heard that an 8" x 5" crack has been found on a bracket holding Discovery's insulation. Bad weather, vultures, and now this. Don't bet on a July 4th liftoff.


At July 03, 2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Jill said...

It's a little scary when you hear several former NASA engineers say that the shuttle should not be launched because of it's problems. I remember my mother never wanted to watch any of the early Mercury and Gemini launches cause she said someone was going to be killed on national tv. She was I hesitate to watch for the same reasons.

At July 03, 2006 10:55 AM, Blogger cube said...

Risk is part of every worthwhile endeavor. You can't eliminate it; you can only minimize it. Thank goodness for the brave souls who face those risks to advance our knowledge.

At July 03, 2006 11:11 AM, Blogger nanc said...

vultures usually only hang where there is something dead and stinking - we get them also if one of our birds wanders off and gets caught up in the briars and dies. if our dogs drag in some road kill, there will be the vultures also. wonder what this means? could the shuttle program be dead?

At July 03, 2006 12:05 PM, Blogger cube said...

nanc: the program certainly doesn't look like its in good shape right now.

But there is a wildlife refuge around the pad. The vultures like to sit up high so they can check it out.

At July 03, 2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Do they respond to the high-pitched noise that parks use to keep birds at bay?

Maybe they could um... feed them during liftoff; keep 'em occupied.

At July 03, 2006 2:02 PM, Blogger tlm said...

*gobble gobble*

That was my lame impersonation of a turkey vulture. :)

At July 03, 2006 4:41 PM, Blogger Rhodester said...

I dunno, I think THIS concerns me more.

At July 03, 2006 5:15 PM, Blogger nanc said...

yes, that gives great cause for concern, rhodester. great cause for concern.

those onion people!

At July 03, 2006 7:13 PM, Blogger cube said...

tlm: I dodn't know turkey vultures limped ;-)

rodester: heh heh. It's the evil twine!

At July 04, 2006 12:26 AM, Blogger nanc said...

as i've thought of the space program for the last thirty or so years - i do believe the special interest people should pay for the entire project. i don't want to pay for it! i have my own space i'm trying to protect and preserve for pete's sake - and while i'm at it, who is this guy pete and why do we do anything for him?

At July 04, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger birdwoman said...

I think I see the ABC logo in the vulture's tail feathers...


At July 04, 2006 7:47 PM, Blogger cube said...

birdwoman: ABC or NBC... ? ;-)


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