HOUSTON, Texas (AFP) -
NASA administrator Michael Griffin said Sunday that the US space agency had "goofed" on vital safety checks before launching the shuttle Discovery and that it was "lucky" the shuttle had not sustained serious damage during liftoff.
Facing down questions over a stray shard of foam which broke off from an external tank during Discovery's launch on Tuesday, Griffin told NBC's "Meet the Press" that pre-launch checks had fallen short.
"Our judgement at the time was that it was okay," the NASA chief said of the structural reviews of the external tank and other vital equipment that was examined before Discovery's liftoff.
"As everyone has said without any attempt to hide it ... we goofed on that one," he said.
Um, did the Director of NASA actually use the term "goofed" to describe the potentially life-threatening gaps in safety checks prior to the shuttle launch? GOOFED? How about "everyone involved is being fired" or "this type of shoddy workmanship is unacceptable for any reason"? The lives of the Discovery crew is at stake, and these guys "goofed"?! No. They were lazy. They were imprecise. They were incompetent.
Geez, I sure hope the pilot of my jetliner doesn't "goof," I hope the guy driving my kids' schoolbus doesn't "goof," I hope my brain surgeon doesn't "goof." The use of that term is as embarrassing as it is appalling. Someone get this guy a PR handler, and fast...