Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to train hundreds of cameras on the Space Shuttle and broadcast the images live during Discovery’s return to flight launch.
You’ve known for years that the thermal tiles on the belly of the Orbiter fall off. It has been deemed an acceptable risk. And it hasn’t caused a problem yet. This was NOT the reason Columbia disintegrated upon reentry. A large piece of foam debris came off of the fuel tank during launch and crashed into the leading edge of the Orbiter wing. The resulting hole allowed super-heated plasma to enter Columbia, and ultimately destroy it.
But you had to know that the media would scrutinize every single frame of this unprecedented “return to flight” video. Right on cue, debris can be seen falling off of the shuttle. Actually several times during the 8 minute launch. None of it hit the Orbiter. But that really doesn’t matter. This country can not handle another space catastrophe. And now, you have no choice but to ground the rest of the Shuttle fleet. Good work. Sure the video was extraordinary and gave us all a view of the launch that we’d never seen before. But come on. This was such an obvious outcome.
This video has probably ended the Shuttle Era 5 years earlier than you had planned. Now whether or not that’s a good thing is a whole other conversation. Maybe this will speed up the Shuttle replacement?