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Astronaut Soichi Noguchi's Training Report for STS-114 Mission, #16
A Night Never Comes without Its Dawn

Last Updated: June 30, 2005

Hello to everyone in Japan. This is Soichi Noguchi reporting from Houston.
As announced by the press, the STS-114 mission has been postponed until July 2005. The launch window, or the time frame for when the launch is possible, is now between July 13 and 31. The mission came to a halt a month before the original launch date due to the Columbia accident. This time the decision to push back the launch date was made a month before the scheduled launch for other safety reasons.

NASA clearly stated that safety was the reason for the launch delay. The decision is appropriate since additional time will be needed to complete the additional safety measures and to eliminate any uncertainties. As STS-114 crew members under Shuttle Commander Collins, we quickly revised the training plan toward the launch in July. We’re now following our training plan based on the new schedule.

We understand and fully accept the technical reasons for the delay, but we cannot ignore the psychological effects caused by the delay. It was not unexpected, but it was still distressing because the astronauts, members of the control centers, and ground workers were working hard towards the launch date. It’s like telling Olympic competitors that the Olympic Games will be postponed a month. The STS-114 crew members have trained four years, with the Columbia accident occurring during that time, so it feels like preparing for the Olympics for a second time. We now need to relax and reconsider, and adjust our training plan so that we will be at peak condition for the new launch date.

STS-114 Crew members
(Photo provided by NASA)

The postponement was not all negative. It is true that it made us feel somewhat stagnated, or like a clock being forced to move backwards. However, we have not wasted our time in training for the tasks of the launch. Even if the launch were pushed back two months, we’re confident that we will be just that much better prepared two months from now. This confidence will keep us from becoming impatient. Return-To-Flight does not just return us to the point prior to the Columbia Accident. It challenges us to achieve the safest and most complete mission possible at this point in time. I am renewing my determination to remain positive during this challenge, right up to the moment of launch.

Thank you for sending all of your supportive messages through JAXA's (Japanese) website.

I read your messages whenever I find some free time. All of the messages, especially those from very young space fans, bring a smile. Those from our senior citizens make me want to sit up straight while I read their messages. All of your messages provide me with a lot of encouragement. Intellectual curiosity in space, a dream of traveling to space, parents' expectations for giving a huge dream to their children, and the dreams and hopes that everyone has for the STS-114 mission have been conveyed in a variety of ways.

STS-114 Crew members at the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test
(Photo provided by NASA)

Machiavelli, a scholar who lived during the Italian Renaissance, once said, "Of everything, the success of a business is dependent on whether the business has something to drive people."

When I read the messages, I feel that STS-114 surely has that “something” to drive people towards the Space Shuttle’s return to flight. The “something” is their dreams, hopes, and determination. I, myself, am driven by “something” similar, and I have dedicated myself to this mission. As I have written above, “a night never comes without its dawn.” The Space Shuttle will be launched again, even if delayed. Nothing will tarnish the “something,” even if the time required is greater than anticipated. We are just a step away from the dawn.

June, 2005

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