After a few days of bad weather, it was the rockets red glare of the space shuttle Discovery that illuminated the skyline on this 4th of July. The successful launch of the mission dubbed STS-121 is only the second shuttle launch since the space shuttle Columbia disaster several years ago and the first since the shuttles were grounded about a year ago after a piece of foam from the external fuel tank broke off during takeoff. Modifications were ordered and completed as part of the requirements. Yet, despite the changes to ensure safety of the crew, concerns arose late Monday afternoon about a 5 inch crack in the foam on the fuel tank of Discovery....just 24 hours before scheduled liftoff. Crews worked hard through the night and Tuesday afternoon STS-121 got underway with several space walks and much needed supplies being delivered to the International Space Station.
Yet, today's launch brings up the big question on everyones mind....Is the space shuttle program safe? Should the program be grounded? Are the space shuttles too old to fly?