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#94181 - 02/01/03 09:04 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Yes, it's desperately sad and my heart goes out to all involved.

After however many millennia people are still being lost at sea, so these things are bound to happen. There is no need to scream terrorism.

I did see a report that said some of the insulation dropped off one of the wings on take-off and that there was very little hope of it being able to come back safely.

Bingley
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Bingley

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#94182 - 02/02/03 12:36 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
Yes, the experts are beginning to come out with the idea that a "zipper effect" took place, and that with one or two tiles gone, the heat got in behind the rest and they just fell off, a bit like a chain reaction. It would only take one. And if the tiles had come off a wing, it explains how one contrail became two and then multiples as that wing would have been torn off first.

Damn!

- Pfranz

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#94183 - 02/02/03 03:11 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
I listened carefully to the NASA report yesterday afternoon. Most questions were fine with only a few reporters repeating questions--which is beyond my understanding.

However, no one asked how soon after take-off could the shuttle safely abort a mission. One of the NASA representatives, Ron Dittemore, indicated over and over that a tile lost before or during re-entry would cause certain devastation of the vehicle, although damaged tiles, not lost ones, at least on the underside, would not cause a crash. He clearly stated that NASA's charge was to insure that tiles would not come off. And he also said that the piece of insulation foam that had come off during take-off had hit the left wing where the problems began to be noticed upon re-entry at 7:53 Central Time, but that NASA would not jump to conclusions about the relationship between the foam and the left wing. Many factors will have to be scrutinized.

Why was there something as apparently flimsy as foam on the outside of the craft? Foam wouldn't be a very stable material in the first place given the great thrust and resistence of take-off. Would it? Still, it seems incomprehensible that a piece of foam hitting tile would have caused the tile to come loose. And that's pretty much what the engineers determined and agreed upon after take-off. They agreed that the foam would not affect the stability of the tile. Still, it hit the left wing and that's where the sensors began to stop working.

One other thing I've heard that is disturbing, but I don't know whether this is true since it didn't come out of NASA or from a realiable source. I heard that there is a 1 in 25 chance that a shuttle will not make it. Has anyone else heard this figure. I'm hoping that this figure is incorrect.

Edit: That one in twenty-five must be incorrect. We've had Challenger and now Columbia. How many other shuttles have not made it somehow in some way?


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#94184 - 02/02/03 08:35 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/28/02
Posts: 1624
Loc: Utter Placebo, Planet Reebok
WW, there have been, from memory, 125 shuttle launches. The mission numbering gets screwed up by "unofficial" Air Force launches, so STS-107 can't be used as a guide to the launch number, just the current mission. Two shuttles have crashed. That makes the odds about one in 62. Not the greatest of odds.

Dittemore is worth listening to as he is the head of the shuttle programme and seems to be a straight shooter. Which means, of course, that he'll never be made head of NASA. The loss of one thermal tile would inevitably mean disaster because of the tiles' function - to prevent 3000deg heat directly onto unprotected outer skin. Go figure.

It may well turn out to be purely coincidental that the insulation foam off the booster hit the same shuttle wing that they had temperature gauge failures in. They obviously didn't think that it had caused any damage at the time, otherwise one of the flight crew would have gone space-walkabout under the orbiter to check, surely.

As Milum has quoted above, this is not just air travel writ higher. Space travel is still balls-to-the-wall "right stuff" material. The routine manner in which it appears to be carried out is much more apparent than real. If'n you're interested in the space programme, then
http://www.space.com/ is good place to keep an eye on.

And in fact, this link: http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sts107_next_030201.html appears to have the best breakdown of events on the Columbia disaster that I've seen so far.

It's interesting to note that a Florida senator had this to say (quote from the article above):

It's a tragic day, not only for America, but for the whole world and especially for the families of the astronauts," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who flew aboard Columbia during a 1986 mission as a U.S. congressman from the district that includes the Kennedy Space Center.

"The American people have started to think that flying in space is like getting into a car for a Sunday drive, but it's anything but that. Spaceflight is still a risky business," Nelson said.


I agree with him entirely, and that's a worry because he's a politician and I instinctly disagree with them as a matter of principle, usually.

The point he made about it being a disaster for the whole world is well made. Although I'm a New Zealander living in Britain, I look on the US space programme as belonging to us all, and what affects the space programme affects us all. It's the next great human adventure. I've argued that taxes from all western countries without their own viable space programmes should be sent to NASA to keep them going in the style to which I would like them to become accustomed. I would dearly love to see space travel become a matter of routine and tickets on sale at prices people like me can afford.

But that time isn't yet.

I'm not religious, but I feel they died doing something they really wanted to do and that in a sense they were doing it for all of us - in spite of being fully aware of the risks. For that alone, they should be remembered ...

- Pfranz

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#94185 - 02/02/03 10:05 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
I'm not religious, but I feel they died doing something they really wanted to do and that in a sense they were doing it for all of us - in spite of being fully aware of the risks. For that alone, they should be remembered ...

Yes, Cap, I, too, believe they risked, and ultimately gave, their lives for the betterment of humanity.

And I concur with your analyses. One other theory they've bantered about is the possibility of computer error during re-entry.

I heard a former astronaut say yesterday, to put it into perspective, that it works out to 1 in 57 shuttles that have gone down, and that, if those same odds were applicable to commercial aircraft, a lot more people would be driving or boating.





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#94186 - 02/02/03 12:22 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2658
Loc: Chicago
I feel the loss and am saddened by this tragedy.

It is quite more refreshing to hear the people on this board talk about it than any of video media coverages I have heard/seen. It sickens me to see the film footage of the Challenger again... shown for no other reason except for sensationalising. There is no need to compare disasters publicly (yet) except for those people and methodolgies which are investigative. It's clear that the lack of the intense footage is a sorry thirst that spreads unnecessary layers of pain upon those closely involved in both tragedies.

Arguments toward a "historical perspective" here are at best yet not talking about history.


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#94187 - 02/02/03 01:01 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
I'm not religious, but I feel they died doing something they really wanted to do and that in a sense they were doing it for all of us - in spite of being fully aware of the risks. For that alone, they should be remembered ... You are right, CK. I did hear a former astronaut on one of the TV stations yesterday saying that space flight is such a passion, that they have more fear of not getting to go, than they do of the risks involved. It is a tragedy, yes; but that statement tells me they all died doing what they most wanted to do, and also, some meaning will come from their deaths.

Your statement ties in with what I thought as I read musick's post. It is possible that previous disasters may be shown, not for sensationalism, but that those others will not be forgotten. My daughter was only 1 when Challenger exploded, and I was glad that she saw it with me yesterday, with eyes that can understand.

I agree with your feeling that space exploration is not for one country, but for all humankind. That, in my opinion, is what makes these deaths so newsworthy. (That is to say, there are others who die doing heroic deeds, but they generally don't give rise to worldwide shock and mourning.)



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#94188 - 02/02/03 02:43 PM Re: NASA Briefing: 4:30 ET
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
The briefing yesterday was excellent. There will be another in a little less than an hour: 4:30 ET.

Edit: MSNBC is covering it. I expect all the other networks will carry it, too, but I don't know for sure.

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#94189 - 02/02/03 02:52 PM Re: A Launch of Continuance...
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
It was good to see the Russians launch their scheduled supply rocket to the international space station this morning. It was a fitting tribute and emblem of the space family's passion, fortitude, resilience, and their determination to carry on with the exploration...


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#94190 - 02/02/03 03:51 PM Re: 5:00 NASA Briefing (delay)
Wordwind Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
NASA REPORT: Delayed till 5:00 p.m. ET


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