Today's launch of Discovery and America's return to manned spaceflight was picture perfect. The new tank-mounted real time camera provided a spectacular view of the tank separation event from space. Spectacular though it may be, here's to hoping that NASA will get serious about a safer shuttle replacement this time and retire the aging beast as scheduled in 2010.
Word of the day: Nominal. NASA bureaucrats are congenitally incapable of exuberance. In this vein, a perfect launch is termed "nominal." Usage: "Wow, we just launched a 4.5 million pound Roman candle into space with a terminal velocity of twenty-five times the speed of sound. I feel nominal!" In a nutshell, this word sums up why manned spaceflight can, should and will be in the hands of private enterprise.
ADDENDA: The F-22 Raptor is America's primo warplane of the future. We paid a gazillion bucks for these things. Here's a pic of the first operational spec plane. At least it looks cool. Hat tip: Blackfive. (The F-35 is the cheaper companion plane to the Raptor. It's not yet fully baked.)