Discovery mission not ‘in crisis mode’, says astronomer

As the space shuttle Discovery entered its first official day in space on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station, the first order of business was to survey Discovery’s nose and wings for damage, using a piece of Canadian technology, reported CTV News and Current Affairs July 27.

“Everything is still greatly speculative,” York astronomer Paul Delaney told CTV, in an interview also aired on “Canada AM.” “Give them a day.” Delaney said, “We’re not in crisis mode by any stretch of the imagination yet. But it’s where the Canadarm is going to really be the important part of this equation as it unfolds.”

“There is a phenomenal amount of pressure on this mission,” said Delaney, a senior lecturer in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering. “And the seven astronauts in orbit know it full well. And they are going to perform their tasks down to the letter, to show that we can go back into space, we can go into earth orbit safely. Would it mark the end of manned spaceflight for the foreseeable future if there were issues aboard? I’d like to think no. I mean, when all is said and done, this is a very complex system. The International Space Station, the science that is being attempted on there and so on, this is a very complicated package.”

Delaney added, “We’ve not been up there for two and a half years. There’s a lot of stuff we have to get off, there’s a lot of new stuff we’ve got to get on. So, this is a bit of a maintenance. This is a U-Haul delivery, in some sense, to the International Space Station.”

On air

  • Biologist Bonnie Woolfenden was interviewed on “Global News” and CBC-TV’s “Canada Now” July 27 about a York University study that shows whether male or female birds are more likely to cheat. Woolfenden, a post-doctoral fellow, is part of a team of researchers led by Bridget Stutchbury, York’s Canada Research Chair in Ecology and Conservation, studying forest birds.