Astronaut Andrew Feustel was at the Daytona International Speeedway in Florida last week for the kickoff of NASCAR’s 2008 season. NASA and the racing league are both celebrating 50th milestones: the space agency’s anniversary and the running of the Daytona 500.
The astronaut toured the pits and garages and met some drivers. Feustel also drove a few laps in a stock car, reaching 100 mph. That’s fast, but on his August 2008 shuttle flight, Feustel will travel about 175 times faster.
On this shuttle mission, the crew will repair the Hubble Space Telescope. I wonder if Feustel picked up any repair tips from NASCAR pit crews. Maybe something beyond the quick tire-changing in the pits. Instead, how about something valuable, like advice on adjusting Hubble’s resistor plates.
It would only be fair for NASCAR to give back to NASA. Space missions have contributed greatly to the safety of racecar drivers. Drivers wear cooling suits similar to what astronauts wear during spacewalks. Foam that NASA developed for aircraft seats protects drivers’ necks in crashes.
Can NASA tap into NASCAR enthusiasm to rekindle AMerica's interest in shuttle missions.