Astronaut watch

If the Discovery shuttle launch goes ahead tomorrow, it will be the first time two simultaneous missions have been under the command of female astronauts, reports The Guardian.

Retired US Air Force Colonel Pamela Melroy (pictured left), will lead a six-person team on the shuttle run to the international space station, which is under the command of another female astronaut, Peggy Whitson.

All very nice, but it looks like there are some serious safety issues, and even some suggestion that Nasa would push ahead despite these concerns in order to cash in on the gender-politics kudos, which hopefully is not the case:

“I didn’t say it’s safe to go fly and I wouldn’t say that,” said Wayne Hale, the shuttle programme manager, who added that members of Nasa’s engineering and safety centre were overruled after 12 hours of debate. “The preponderance of evidence in my mind says that we have an acceptable risk.”

Copyright-free image from Nasa