In The Field

The Precautionary Principle

It’s a sign of just how cautious NASA has become that they decided to stand down today. The questionable engine cut-off sensor was one of four that are used to shutdown the engine if the hydrogen fuel runs low. The shuttle needs just two of its four sensors working, and the whole cut-off system itself is a backup: the navigational computers typically turn things off automatically at the right altitude and speed. Even if they don’t, Atlantis carries an extra 300 kilos of hydrogen to prevent the engines running dry. 


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