Space: December 8, 1999


: A new Pentagon report blames the recent string of five space launch failures on flawed workmanship and poor engineering by the contractors who built the Titan-IV and Delta-III. The report also notes the muddled lines of authority inside the government, which can never seem to figure out which branch is in charge of what part of the space launch system, and the eroding engineering staff of the US Air Force, which no longer has the talent pool it once did. The report noted that the best engineers and managers were working on new space boosters, leaving second-stringers to oversee the production of current launch boosters.--Stephen V Cole

There is a Y2K problem with the Discovery space shuttle. It's due to launch December 11, it's mission to get the Hubble Space Telescope working again. This mission was originally scheduled for last July but problems arose which delayed it until now. Discovery's computers are not Y2K ready. This was not considered a problem when the mission was scheduled for July. Since the next mission would be a year later, there would have been time to fix the Y2K problems. But a December launch could be a problem. The December 11 mission will last 9.5 days, meaning December 21st. The shuttle cannot try to land after December 31st with the current software. So another delay or two and the mission will have to be delayed for months until the software can be made Y2k compliant.