Some orbital gymnastics..

Not the Perseids.. The Space Shuttle Endeavour performing a 1 degree per second backflip as the Earth turns beneath it [you can hum a little Johann Strauss Jnr while you watch – Ed]
The serious point to be made is that although the launch appeared to go smoothly the manouevre allowed the ISS crew to photograph the heatshield and, when NASA had examined the images, they discovered a 3 inch gouge which, if it cannot be repaired, could strand the astronauts on the Space Station for several months until a rescue shuttle can be launched.

From the NASA Space Shuttle website

The STS-118 crew continues to conduct a focused inspection of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s heat shield. Using the shuttle’s robotic arm and 50-foot-long Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), the crew is taking a look at five areas on the underside that may have been damaged during the climb to orbit on Aug. 8.

Update More on the damage to the heat shield

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  • Dewi

    It’s 4.36 and I’m playing the Blue Danube and watching a space ship do a back-flip. Pete – I blame you for my psychosis.

  • bootman

    Half-orbital half-gymnastics,

    just to be consistent

  • Wilde Rover

    The Roman Candle rumbles upward and sheds its skin to transform into a graceful Space Butterfly before descending in a ball of fire as the plucky and familiar Flying Brick.

    Very impressive butter-flying, and on many levels, touching,


    In many ways the shuttle has been as about as practical as tits on a dog, but then again perhaps it stands as testament to the hubris and myopia of so many and on so many levels.

    Perhaps now in this new era of conservation the humble but ingenious designs of Russian origin (although pedants often argue that the Germans be mentioned at this point) will be given the priority they deserve if any manageable form of space travel is to occur from our resource hungry planet.

    Perhaps in the future people will boldly go rather than hang around to pimp their ride.

  • sportsman

    Beautiful though. I wonder what would have happened if 2000 years ago the Greeks with their primitive steam engines had got together with the Chinese and their horse drawn railways? We would probably have travelled to the stars by now.

  • Eamonn

    Wilde, not to be pedantic or anything, but dogs being mammals do have tits and I’m sure puppies find that they are very practical.

    As for the shuttle, it was a nice idea that we thought would be cheaper than a disposable spacecraft, it just didn’t work out that way. The wings turned out to be a liabilty because they’re dead weight for most of the mission and don’t come into play until the end – a parachute system would be a lot less bother. Still, was worth a try IMHO.

    It does indeed look like we’ll be back to conical capsules on top of stage rockets and the Single Stage to Orbit idea will have to wait until an air-breathing engine can be developed that has enough power to reach escape velocity. I’d say composite materials will have a big role to play in lightening the load and bringing that closer.

    I was just reading something about the Tunguska meteor (apparently part of it has been stolen) and was thinking about what had happened if that thing had struck over a city rather than Siberia. As the saying goes, the dinosaurs are extinct because they didn’t have a space program.

    BTW, cool video. Kudos to NASA for beefing up their ‘marketing’ of what they’re working on. Very important that the next generation of engineers is inspired to get into this stuff.

  • Pete Baker


    Ignore Wilde until he can be coherent. ;op

    But “part of it [Tunguska meteor] has been stolen”?

    As I recall, that meteor disintegrated before impact.

    And we’ve already noted the next generation rockets.

    But, yes, cool video. I liked the music too.

  • Donnacha

    ANd just to continue the pedantry, tits on a dog are pretty useless. On a bitch, however….

  • Wilde Rover

    Thank you Donnacha. I was beginning to think I was the only one who was aware of the difference.