CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA finally broke the news to space shuttle Endeavour's most famous astronaut, school teacher Barbara Morgan, right, that the spacecraft's thermal shield has a potentially serious gash.
"Nobody wanted to tell her," chuckled NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "I guess we thought she'd give us detention or something," he said, barely able to contain himself.
NASA feared alarming Ms. Morgan because of the uncanny similarity of the problem to the one that doomed the shuttle Columbia in 1986. But Griffin ultimately decided Morgan had to be told.
"We had an office pool as to how the teacher would take it," Mr. Griffin said, smiling. "Now I have to tell you, I never win anything, but damn if I didn't bet twenty dollars that she would throw her lunch tray at the wall -- and that's exactly what she did. So, yes, it was a good payday for me."