Orbit of Discovery
During Memorial Day weekend in 1995, a little more than a week before the scheduled launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-70 mission, a single woodpecker made 205 holes in the soft foam insulation covering the huge external fuel tank of the Shuttle.
The resulting damage led to one of the more unusual delays in the thirty year history of the Space Shuttle Program as NASA wrestled with what had happened, how to fix the damage, and how to prevent additional woodpecker attacks on its Space Shuttles in the future. Forever nicknamed “The Woodpecker Shuttle Flight” the mission was also unique in that 4 of the 5 crewmembers assigned to the flight were from Ohio. After the governor of Ohio issued a proclamation making the fifth crewmember an “Honorary Ohioan” this flight also became known as “The All-Ohio Space Shuttle Mission”. Orbit of Discovery is an engaging first-person account of Discovery’s STS-70 mission that shares the excitement, passion, adventure, accomplishments, and shear fun of the Space Shuttle Program as told by four-time veteran astronaut Don Thomas.
About the authors
Don Thomas was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and joined NASA in 1988 as a materials engineer working on the Space Shuttle program. In 1990 he was selected in NASA’s 13th group of astronauts. He is a veteran of four space shuttle missions completing nearly 700 orbits of the Earth and traveling over 17 million miles during his 20-year career with NASA.
Mike Bartell, a lifelong resident of Toledo, Ohio, covered numerous Space Shuttle missions during his 35-year award-winning career as a reporter and editor at The Blade newspaper in Toledo. He also taught journalism at the University of Toledo for more than 30 years.