TRIBUTE TO NASA ON SPACE SHUTTLE ``DISCOVERY'' MISSION
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a resolution commending the people of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the latest mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Successfully launched on July 4 this mission, known as STS-121, marks the second mission on the Return to Flight sequence. STS-121 originally was scheduled to perform just two space walks. However, due to the overall success of the launch, the mission was extended from 12 to 13 days, allowing for an additional space walk.
Among the other tasks that will be preformed on this mission are tests of shuttle safety improvements to build on findings from Discovery's flight last year, including a redesign of the shuttle's external fuel tank's foam insulation, in-flight inspection of the shuttle's heat shield, improved imagery during launch and the ability to launch a shuttle rescue mission. The External Tank, which underwent work prior to the mission to reduce foam loss, performed well this time especially early in the flight when a light weight piece of foam could severely damage the tile or wing leading edge, but nothing like that happened this time. The five instances of foam loss that were experienced all occurred after the critical release time. The largest foam loss on the mission, which occurred in front of one of the ice/frost ramps on the external tank, was calculated to be .055 pounds. The mass limit in that area is .25 pounds, meaning that the loss was not even a quarter of the way to the limit. NASA is very pleased with the performance of the tank, as it is a great improvement from last year's STS-114 mission.
The STS-121 mission will also bolster the International Space Station by making a key repair and delivering more than 28,000 pounds of equipment and supplies, as well as adding a third crew member to the Space Station.
STS-121 is NASA's most photographed mission in shuttle history as more than 100 high definition, digital, video, and film cameras are helping to assess whether any debris comes off the external tank during the shuttle's launch, while four new video added to the solid rocket boosters.
Mr. Speaker, the success of STS-121 is a tribute to the skills and dedication of all NASA employees, especially the Space Shuttle Discovery's crew of Colonel Steve Lindsey; Commander Mark Kelly; Piers Sellers, PhD; Lt. Colonel Mike Fossum; Commander Lisa Nowak; Stephanie Wilson; and Thomas Reiter.
What philosopher Ayn Rand wrote of the moon landing in 1969 applies to the STS-121 and all of NASA's missions: ``Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.'' I encourage all of my colleagues and all Americans to join me in commending NASA for completing STS-121 mission, and all of NASA's work.