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#94171 - 02/01/03 10:04 AM Space Shuttle Explodes
wow Offline
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The space shuttle Columbia has exploded on approach to its landing this morning, Feb. 1, 2003 at approx at 8:09 Central time. Contact with the shuttle was lost by mission control as the shuttle was making its approach to its landing.
Amateur film of the shuttle shows a white streak indicating the shuttle had exploded over Texas on landing approach to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
God be with the astronauts and their families at this tragic time.




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#94172 - 02/01/03 11:12 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Jackie Offline

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Yes. They've just made the official announcement that there is no hope. All the families had been gathered at the runway to have lunch with their returning loved ones...


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#94173 - 02/01/03 11:38 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Another horrid tragic loss for the space program...brings back the Challenger disaster. My thoughts are with the families of the astronauts. Sad, sad day...


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#94174 - 02/01/03 11:44 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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Oh, no! I just saw the heading on MSN... It does bring back Challenger...

Remembering film clips of techs checking various parts of equipment for safety...


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#94175 - 02/01/03 12:22 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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NOW maybe they'll look at their antiquated launch systems with a more pragmatic eye.

But it's a desperately sad day for all concerned. Of course I feel for the astronauts' families, but I also feel very sad for the ground crews and mission control people. Losing a spacecraft on your watch must be as bad as losing a family member.

It's perhaps even more ironic that it happened on ST-107, because it was a pure science mission - no spacewalks, no satellite launches, no hush-hush aspects. Just plain science, trying to expand the boundaries of human knowledge.

It makes me WILD that NASA felt that they had to state that there was no reason to suspect terrorism as almost their first announcement. There are enough things that can go wrong with one of those babies without any outside help, that's for real, and using a 22-year-old prototype is hardly a safe proposition, is it? Having said that if I was offered the chance to go up in a shuttle, I'd be camped at 39B within a day to ensure that I made the flight.

From the news reports, my guess is that the shuttle lost attitude during the reentry phase, because it was far too low when it flew over Dallas and Plano, creating sonic booms along its path. They have an attitude leeway of less than 5deg, and no realistic way of recovering if they get out of shape. I don't have any idea of why it might have lost attitude, though. I hope they can find out.

Damn!

- Pfranz

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#94176 - 02/01/03 12:24 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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#94177 - 02/01/03 12:31 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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Here's a link to the MSN reports:

http://msnbc.com/news/857733.asp?0cv=CA00

Beef-up security, Israeli aboard...that's why NASA had to come out immediately and state whatever it stated about no terrorism [and I, too, shuddered when I read the word]. I haven't seen NASA's statements on the matter, but it makes sense something would have been stated under the circumstances. Sharon hasn't said anything public yet.

It's all too terrible--hard to think of anything to say at all. Just want to know more about what went wrong.

Thanks, D., for your input here.

T.


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#94178 - 02/01/03 02:33 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
milum Offline
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Registered: 09/03/01
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The Crew of the Columbia: In Memoriam 

Richard P. Feynman's Minority Report to the
Space Shuttle Challenger Inquiry


Conclusions: (abridged)

If a reasonable launch schedule is to be maintained, engineering often cannot be done fast enough to keep up with the expectations of originally conservative certification criteria designed to guarantee a very safe vehicle. In these situations, often with apparently logical arguments, the criteria are altered so that flights may still be certified in time. They therefore fly in a relatively unsafe condition, with a chance of failure of the order of a percent.

Official management, on the other hand, claims to believe the probability of a failure is a thousand times less.


This difference has unfortunate consequences, the most serious of which is to encourage ordinary citizens to fly in such a dangerous machine, as if it had attained the the safety of an ordinary airliner.

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

~ Richard P. Feynman 1986




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#94179 - 02/01/03 08:12 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Some wretchedly depraved soul was offering a piece of the wreckage on eBay today for $5,000. I hope the Feds nabbed him. (eBay ivalidated the auction and took all the info down, except for the main menu).


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#94180 - 02/01/03 08:16 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
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and we wonder what's wrong with the world. god, I just wish people would wake up.

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#94181 - 02/01/03 09:04 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Bingley Offline
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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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#94182 - 02/02/03 12:36 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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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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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
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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
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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
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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

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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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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
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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
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NASA REPORT: Delayed till 5:00 p.m. ET


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#94191 - 02/03/03 09:12 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Jackie Offline

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Here's a link to the MSN slide show of the ...tragedy, and reaction to it. Number 6 is somehow the most poignant, to me. A warning for those even slightly inclined to think of this as ghoulish: don't look at #13.
http://www.msnbc.com/c/0/134/54/ssMain.asp?fmt=&sld=0&res=inline&0ss=N1b5134054


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#94192 - 02/03/03 09:43 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Rubrick Offline
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A warning for those even slightly inclined to think of this as ghoulish: don't look at #13.

That picture appeared on the cover of most world newspapers, Jackie, so there's nothing too ghoulish about it. See today's Irish Times: http://www.ireland.com/

The astronauts don't wear helmets during take-off and landing (and rarely during flights now) so it was probably in stowage outside the main cabin.


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#94193 - 02/03/03 09:53 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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Suggest you look at this article if you're interested in the shuttle operations for the STS-107 mission. It answers some of my questions, anyway:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/867926.asp?0sl=-12

- Pfranz

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#94194 - 02/03/03 12:24 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
vika Offline
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Registered: 06/20/02
Posts: 161
Loc: Aberdeen, Scotland
I just hope that you are not going to abandon your space program after this disaster...

I am so sorry for your loss...


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#94195 - 02/03/03 12:40 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Rubrick Offline
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The space program shouldn't be abandoned but I think the Shuttle has become a dinosaur.

Since its first launch in 1979 it has flown 113 missions using six craft making it the most used spacecraft in history. It has been in almost continuous use for 24 years which would mean, by comparison, that the Apollo craft (which went into service in 1967) would still be running up until 1992 with no view to being phased out.

The shuttle has been successful and has served its purpose primarily as the key builder of the ISS but is now no more than a ferry service to and from the space station and new viable alternatives must be sought to continue space exploration into the 21st century.


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#94196 - 02/03/03 07:09 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Jackie Offline

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The astronauts don't wear helmets during take-off and landing (and rarely during flights now) so it was probably in stowage outside the main cabin.
Thanks, Rubrick--that helped me feel better.



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#94197 - 02/04/03 01:31 AM Re: Columbia Memorial Service Today
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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The National, and, indeed, International, Memorial Service for the Columbia Crew will be held at Houston Space Center today at 1 p.m. EST, televised live by most of the major networks.


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#94198 - 02/04/03 01:41 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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It certainly appears that NASA's contingency planning wasn't all that it might have been. They couldn't abort to the ISS - which appears to be difficult to rendezvous with at the best of times - and there were no other non-reentry abort or repair options. It would appear that the pilot and commander, at least, must have known there was some risk in reentry. Terrible thing to have to live with for 14 days!

Discussed at http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sts107_options_030202.html

What NASA obviously needs to do (and appears to want to do) is to go with one of the SSTO (single stage to orbit space plane) options they've been examining. It doesn't require any fancy R&D and is much more controllable in flight. It's not just a glorified glider. Boeing and Rockwell seem to have the leading big and fancy options, but there is a prize of $10m for a private venture effort and from memory there are five US companies in the running for that.

The problem is, of course, money. NASA would need to have their funding increased by a third for the rest of the decade to pay for one of the "big boys'" SSTO options. Fat chance in the current climate.

- Pfranz

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#94199 - 02/04/03 05:19 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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In the wake of this tragedy, I do not mean to sound harsh here. Just observant and disturbed: Pfranz wrote above about the contingency plans not having been what they could have been; from what I've been hearing in the NASA briefings, primarily through Ron Dittemore's honesty and care in explanations that he admits are 'fluid,' changing each day by necessity as information is gathered, there does not appear to have been contingency planning in the case of damage sustained to the vehicle during liftoff. And I have a very uneasy feeling about the film of the liftoff not having been reviewed till the next day, at which point nothing could have been done to rescue the crew anyway. There is such a very slight window of opportunity for the shuttle to turn back, and that time almost immediately follows liftoff from what I've gathered. As our understanding increases of what the crew and NASA were up against deepens, the whole event takes upon sobering realizations and makes the whole situation that much more piteous and sorrowful.


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#94200 - 02/04/03 07:12 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Jackie Offline

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From Capfka's link, WW:
If NASA knew there was a problem, Columbia could have stayed in orbit for an extra few days — perhaps long enough for the emergency launch of another shuttle, Atlantis. In a series of spacewalks, Columbia’s crew members could have been transferred over to the other shuttle. The operation would have required NASA to throw out its rule book, involving extraordinary risks.




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#94201 - 02/04/03 08:44 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Rubrick Offline
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The space station can hold five people safely (three permanent and two visitors - usually engineers but twice there have been space tourists). Two of the shuttle crew could've transferred to the station and waited there for up to two months. The other five would return to earth on the second shuttle (which only needs two crew to fly it). The damaged shuttle would then be abandoned on the ISS until it could be recovered or else discarded into space.

HOTOL is probably the best option for a replacement shuttle. But it's British so the Yanks won't like it (and, at this stage it's a bit dated - like the shuttle).

Food for thought: In one mission the Space shuttle travels further and endures more stress than a Boeing 747 does in twenty years of service - including refits.


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#94202 - 02/04/03 09:04 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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Rubrick,

From something Pfranz wrote somewhere, he learned that the Columbia had not been outfitted to dock at the space station.

Now that possibility of hooking up with another shuttle? Was that ever a real possibility? Were they so outfitted?


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#94203 - 02/04/03 09:55 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Rubrick Offline
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There are three entries to the ISS. The original Soyuz docking ring (which is in use by the Soyuz 'lifeboat'), the added Shuttle ring which used to be the only way to get out and meant that all Spacewalks had to be carried out by exiting to the Shuttle and then leaving via the shuttle payload door. The third entry is the latest - added just last year. The airlock allows direct exiting from the ISS to space and which could be used by the astronauts using a tether to reach the shuttle in near proximity. It's difficult to use but not risky. It's akin to something similar used by Ed White et al in the early 60s. Alternatively an ISS crew member would be able to perform a tetherless flight to the shuttle and carry the astronauts back one by one. This would be riskier, of course, and is untried, but I'm sure someone in NASA has thought about it before. Maybe it'll be added to the flight book for next time. This would mean, of course, that the Shuttle would have to be ditched in space.

A shuttle launch can take several weeks so it wouldn't be possible to sit in the shuttle indefinitely waiting for a rescue mission. Air and food would run out. However, the universal docking ring woudl allow two shuttles to interconnect. Time is the main factor, however, and NASA obviously thought (if there were any problems before re-entry) that an attempt to return to earth was the best option.


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#94204 - 02/04/03 10:06 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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Thanks for that, Rubrick...I'll chew on this information for a while. It would be good to know what options were available in general, and then which ones were impossible in this specific case because of factors that were not in place (equipment, training, etc.).


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#94205 - 02/04/03 12:32 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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There are a number of issues which could probably have been planned better or risks which could have been allowed for but the plain fact of the matter is that NASA takes risks on every launch, and the astronauts must know and accept that. As I would if I were offered the opportunity to get a ride in a shuttle. Are they looking for 50-year-old astronauts who are myopic and overweight, who have no particular scientific skills, who like their eight hours' sleep, can't stand dried food and who smoke? I did hear they were liberalising. Maybe they even have real ale in casks on the shuttles these days. Wahooo!

Rubrick was misinformed a little: If a shuttle is ready to fly and if lots of corners are cut (i.e. more risks are taken), they can get one up in a week. This could have been done as a rescue mission, but remember that the engineers assessed the risk of damage from the exfoliating insulation as small. They were wrong this time, but give them credit - they're not often wrong. If they were, the world would be littered with the remains of failed launches and/or landings. I don't believe they should berate themselves too much or start being afraid to make decisions in case they're wrong. As I said in an earlier post, the ground crews and mission control staff will not be happy bunnies at all. But they need to get it back together for the next launch.

Aborting to the ISS just wasn't an option given Columbia's mission profile. Her orbit was well below the ISS and was on a completely different plane, so that getting to the ISS was beyond her fuel endurance. End of story. You could say, of course, that they should have planned a possible abort to the ISS in and ensured that the shuttle was in the same general orbit as the ISS. But I'm sure that the credo is that each mission stands on its own and if every mission is planned around a possible accident, i.e. they always ensure that an abort to the ISS is possible, the damned things may as well just sit on the ground.

There are no other possible abort options that I'm aware of.

I was surprised to hear that they didn't have EMUs on board. I thought they were standard equipment. They certainly were in the early years. Still, what could they have done even if they found the gash, presuming it existed? Duct tape is amazing stuff, but in this instance, well, maybe not.

One thing that could be done is to have a Saturn V on standby with a big Apollo capsule specifically to carry out rescues, although it wouldn't take seven people, of course. But it would be costly; they don't have any Saturn Vs left, dammit. They were amazing machines. If you ever get to the Hutchinson Aerospace Museum in Kansas, take a look at the F1 engine they have on display there. Absolutely, mindblowingly amazing. Even if it was the Huntsville Nazis who designed it. The Saturn remains the most powerful booster the US ever built and the most reliable.

They also have the actual Apollo 13 capsule there.

Maybe the Russians could be contracted to keep an Energia on tap. They'll do anything for dollars.

Anyway, they have to keep on truckin'. Getting the space plane built and up and running will reduce the number of heavy-lift shuttle launches necessary and each SSTO mission will cost peanuts alongside shuttle launches.



- Pfranz

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#94206 - 02/04/03 12:39 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
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thank you, Pfranz. that was so very well put.
I, too, with some discussion with my family, would go in a minute, if given the chance.

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#94207 - 02/05/03 04:24 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Rubrick Offline
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Loc: Somewhere outside New York
Yes, sorry about that. I completely forgot that this wasn't an ISS related shuttle mission. As a result they were orbiting at a much lower altitude and so an abort to the ISS was not an option. A re-entry despite the risks seemed to be the only possibility and I'm sure that the astronauts were aware of this. One probability for the breakup could've been that the re-entry trajectory was recalibrated to compensate for a minor hull breach and the shuttle was pitched at a steeper angle. This would result in more turbelence, stress on the hull and an increased likelihood of hull failure. It's plausible.

It has always been my dream to fly to space - even now. I've only met one astronaut (candidate, actually) and he was young, a genius and incredibly fit. Plus he was genial, eloquent and astute. Perhaps the last three are the most important. He told me that his interview was in front of 14 people (all senior NASA members and ex-astronauts) and the chair was John Young - the most experienced astronaut ever. His heart monitor (worn 24 hours a day) measured over 180bpm and he almost lost his lunch. He got the job. If astronauts feel scared in those situations - imagine how they feel sitting on top of a Hydrogen and Oxygen-filled bomb.


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#94208 - 02/05/03 03:58 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Capfka Offline
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Here's some info about the insulation/tile damage thing. Quite frightening, really:

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/shuttle_tiles_030205.html

- Pfranz

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#94209 - 02/06/03 11:23 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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It seems that now Dittmore has all but dismissed tile damge on takeoff as the cause of the breakup. He said at the briefing yesterday that the foam just isn't hard enough to produce the type of damage that would cause the tiles to fail. So, according to him, they're back to the drawing board.

On another note, here's one for the Darwin Awards...it's announced that taking and possessing pieces of the shuttle wreckage is a federal offense. So no less than 17 people took wreckage and posted it for sale on eBay with all their required contact information. They are all presently being visited by federal agents.


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#94210 - 02/06/03 11:29 AM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
Wordwind Offline
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AFter the NASA briefing late Sunday afternoon, a specialist stated that a piece of insulating foam had broken off during lift-off over a year ago, had hit an exterior rocket engine made of steel, and had dented the steel.

This foam is a lot harder than most of us would first imagine--and traveling at between 1200 and 2000 mph during the earlier phases of lift-off would give this hard foam a lot of force upon impact.

I have not heard Dittemore say that NASA has cast out the foam hitting the underside tiles theory altogether. I thought NASA has gone back to the drawing board to see whether they could have miscalculated the force of the foam. If that foam can leave a sizable dent in steel, it ain't no small force.


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#94211 - 02/06/03 01:06 PM Re: Space Shuttle Explodes
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Yes, all I've heard and seen would seem to support the intitial foam/tile damage on takeoff theory...but, evidently, they're backing off on that one now.


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#94212 - 02/06/03 02:38 PM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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Just a mention from the essay...we went from Kitty Hawk to the Moon in just 66 years!...just think about that...

It's Time to Dream Higher

http://makeashorterlink.com/?T2FA62E53


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#94213 - 02/07/03 12:53 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Capfka Offline
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Yep, I agree with him. The current policy of pottering about in LEO gives no one anything worth the constant risks of getting there and back. Mars or bust, I say! Would they need someone to carry their bags?

- Pfranz

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#94214 - 02/07/03 04:59 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Rubrick Offline
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No, I don't agree with him. Dreams are all very well but there are very good reasons why there are manned missions to space. Firstly, if scientific experiments and research are still carried out manually on earth what makes the different medium of space any different? A human presence is still required. Secondly, scientific experiments in space are not affected by the extremes of gravity on earth. Successions of tests over the decades have proved that research into medicinal compounds and serums are greatly enhanced under these conditions - thus justifying the expense of the ISS and the shuttle flights.

If space flight is just to be about flights of whimsy and flag-waving and space races to Mars and bases on the moon then it will have to funded globally and probably through private enterprise. They're the ones (judging by the two space tourists) who really want that kind of thing to succeed. The real point of space flight is not about dreams but about aiding reality through the benefits of reserach in space.

Space flight is not a game which should be produced as a crowd pleaser. It is dangerous, unwieldy and still in its nascency despite its rushed beginnings which led to seven unnecessary deaths in the 60s. As great as it sounds to reach the stars, the asteroids or, more humbly, Mars this is just pie on the sky at the moment. The technology to get a small cart-sized robot to Mars was immense and very lucky. The technology to get it back doesn't exist. It also took five years to get there. That would mean a return manned-trip of at least ten years. The problems of oxygen, food, waste disposal, exercise, bone-marrow loss, mental and physical fatigue and psychosis from being cooped in such a confined space for so long are the least of the problems to be faced. These are only the ones dealing with the human side of the mission. A justification is necessary to send people that far and or so long. Flag-planting is not one.

If dreams of space exploration are to a fore then we need to know more about the place where we will send our astronauts before we make such bold a leap. Forty years is not long enough to get to know something which is boundless in size and which is more hazardous than sending a rowing boat out in a squall.

Dream the dream but don't get too disappointed if it doesn't happen in your lifetime or that of your grandchildren.


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#94215 - 02/07/03 05:35 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Wordwind Offline
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Thanks, Rubrick, for the information about the ten years (at least) required to get to and from Mars. Most excellent point.

Too bad there aren't wormholes in the solar system. That's a fascinating consideration.


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#94216 - 02/07/03 06:15 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Bean Offline
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Posts: 1156
Just think of the (crazy) guys who originally went to explore the North and South Poles. Some of those trips lasted several years due to mechanical breakdowns, etc. And all for what? To claim some part of Antarctica as belonging to some country. Lots of people died on those missions. They were mostly privately funded by rich guys who wanted their name on some distant bay or cove. There was some oceanographic research conducted, but that wasn't the main thrust. Sounds strikingly similar to Rubrick's argument about space exploration. The arguments could've applied equally well to polar exploration 100 years ago. I'm not saying it [space flight] is good or bad, noble or foolhardy...but just think about the parallels.


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#94217 - 02/07/03 06:49 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Rubrick Offline
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Ah, there's nothing wrong with the human spirit of exploration. This is natural. But we are less gung-ho now about such risks as we were a hundred years ago when the poles were first conquered.

Exploring the unknown and the dangerous was considered part of the Edwardian nobleness (when the poles were discovered). But, then again, so was volunteering to get machine-gunned in Flanders. Whole continents were explored (and annexed) during a relatively small time and usually at a much greater expense (in human terms as well as monetary) than the space race. A hundred years later we are still reconsidering what is worthwhile and what is not when we endeavour to conquer the unconquerable.

At the moment the average stay in space for an ISS crew is four months. The confined space is ample for the crew to work well together without a feeling of claustrophobia and they have the added assurance that earth is just below ina case their is anything wrong. The same went for the moon shots. The earth was but a blot but it was still reachable by the three astronauts.
Not so Mars. Halfway on their journey the earth will disappear and blend into the masses of other heavenly objects like just another star. The feeling that this could be a one-way journey with no chance of rescue would phase even the hardiest of astronauts. Imagine being stuck in a telephone booth for five years only to be let out into a cold environment for a few hours (wearing a spacesuit) and then having to do the return journey. Just the thought makes me claustrophobic.

The only hope for space exploration is to develop our endurance in such conditions while engineering larger and more habitable spacecraft which can only be feasibly constructed in space. Barring the setbacks of the recent disaster that could take another 50 years - if NASA and the other administrations get full funding which, in the current climate, isn't forthcoming or likely.


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#94218 - 02/07/03 08:51 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
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my guess is that there would be a line several miles long(slight hyperbolic statement, there) of people waiting to take that trip to Mars. danger, or no. we've no shortage of people willing to take the risks necessary to be the first at anything.
my feelings:
vision, moderated with care and thought. but first, vision.



_________________________
formerly known as etaoin...

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#94219 - 02/07/03 08:58 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Rubrick Offline
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Hey, I'm high up that queue, etaoin. That's one feat I'd love to achieve.

I'm just saying that it's ridiculous to put unnecessary stress on current technology in order to get us there now. It's hard to believe that men got to the moon using a computer with the same processing power as a modern VCR but we still haven't progessed much since then. Let's wait until the technology exists to get us to Mars before we commit to a manned (or womanned) mission.


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#94220 - 02/07/03 09:05 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
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Let's wait until the technology exists to get us to Mars

I agree with you Ru, but the technology already exists. maybe not as fast or as safe or as comfortable as we might like, but we could get there. matter-of-fact(maybe), if we always waited until everything was perfect, we'd still be swimming in the sea...…

_________________________
formerly known as etaoin...

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#94221 - 02/07/03 09:14 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Rubrick Offline
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Not quite sure about this, etaoin. A technology exists but not the technology.

It's too easy to say that the technology exists to get us to Mars when we are still stuggling with sub-orbital space stations. It's not just a case of building a spaceship and launching it. That's been proved to work. It's maintaining a workable life-support system and a healthy crew for ten years in space which are the problems. The technology does not exist for this.


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#94222 - 02/07/03 02:47 PM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
wofahulicodoc Offline
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It's maintaining a workable life-support system and a healthy crew for ten years in space which are the problems. The technology does not exist for this.

And that, of course, is the crux of the matter. We don't really know whether what we have available works or not without the testing we're doing now. I suspect it does, _if_ it can be made reliable enough. (Which, clearly, is a big "if.")

A word about the foam and tiles - it's the relative speeds that count. The 1200-2000 mph speed of the foam isn't that much different from the speed of the shuttle, so that even if it's hardened foam (not soft and squishy at all, the way we tend to picture "foam") the difference in speed may not be enough to make it a damaging projectile. A little slower to be sure, but enough to cause that kind of impact and damage? That's what the experts are trying to determine, as best thay can.


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#94223 - 02/07/03 02:57 PM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
sjm Offline
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Registered: 07/19/02
Posts: 742
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Rubrick, where do you get the ten years? The unmanned missions to Mars have only taken around 18-21 months to get there, so a manned trip should involve no more than 5 years in space (2.5 there, 2.5 back). Mars ain't that far away, after all. Cassini will reach Saturn less than ten years after launch, so ten years to Mars must be taking the scenic route.


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#94224 - 02/07/03 03:08 PM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Wordwind Offline
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In reply to:

A word about the foam and tiles - it's the relative speeds that count.


What you wrote makes sense.

But there's still the commentary made on Sunday that a piece of foam hit the exterior rocket engine in a lift-off over a year ago and made a dent in the steel.

This foam issue isn't minor. From what I've been reading, experts have warned about the foam problem for years. Modifications have been been, but I haven't inferred in reading anything that there was ever consensus that foam was now a non-issue.

So back to the fine point you made about relative speed. If what you wrote is abolutely true, then how did a piece of falling foam insulation put a dent into an exterior steel rocket engine? I'm curious about how the relative speed factor didn't come into play there.


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#94225 - 02/07/03 03:26 PM Relatively speaking
wofahulicodoc Offline
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Perhaps the relative speeds _are_ different enough to cause damage. As I said, that's what the experts have to figure out.

The same issue arises in consideration of the airplane that supposedly shoots itself down by firing its guns, then diving under the bullet trajectory and picking up speed, then overtaking and getting hit by its own bullets. Is it a true story, or apocryphal? Anyone know the status of that phenomenon? I'd almost sooner believe it inhaled it's own (relatively slowly-moving) bullets and fouled its turbines.


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#94226 - 02/07/03 03:57 PM Re: Relatively speaking
Wordwind Offline
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Pretty good article here with a video clip of the foam falling:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/867336.asp?vts=2720031323#BODY

One thing the video clip impressed upon me was the foam was falling in one direction, but the shuttle was moving upward in the opposite direction, so the force of impact would have been far greater than had the foam and shuttle been moving in the same direction.

You're in a race with someone; you're moving in the same direction; he catches up with, slaps your hand forward; not too much pain. Completely different scenario if you're running toward each other and he slaps your hand--you're going to feel that impact more. In other words, had the shuttle been heading toward the earth and had hit a piece of foam heading the same direction, the impact wouldn't have been as great as in the case as it was.

But the vulnerable part of the left wing--that leading edge--from this video clip it doesn't appear that the foam hit the leading edge where the problems have been assumed to have begun. Could just be the lack of clarity in the clip.

Has anyone read any confirmation that the insulating foam hit the leading edge of the left wing?


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#94227 - 02/07/03 04:17 PM still speaking relatively
wofahulicodoc Offline
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One thing the video clip impressed upon me was the foam was falling in one direction, but the shuttle was moving upward in the opposite direction, so the force of impact would have been far greater than had the foam and shuttle been moving in the same direction.

Still the same problem: the foam probably wasn't falling yet, just no longer rising as fast as the shuttle was. It looks like falling because the camera is following the shuttle up, at say 2,000mph, while the debris had slowed because it was no longer attached to the pushing-up rockets and because of air resistance.

How much did it slow in that less-that-one-second? to -- what? 1999 mph? 1950 mph? 1900 mph? 1500 mph? That's what determines the severity of the impact.


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#94228 - 02/07/03 04:39 PM Re: still speaking relatively
Wordwind Offline
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Well, for sake of argument, say the foam was immobile in space and the shuttle hit it at 2000 mph--hmmm. That's still quite a whack. And then let's say, again for sake of argument, that the glue on the tile on that leading edge hadn't been applied as precisely as it should have been, the tile itself could have been vulnerable.

That said, I really don't expect the gluing to have been a problem--though it certainly has been a past problem--especially with the leading edges on the wings, which were critical points. I would expect the crew that glued to have taken special care with the gluing of tiles onto those leading edges.

I hope the portion of the wing that was recovered today was the left wing...


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#94229 - 02/07/03 05:13 PM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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I see no reason not to continue with both programs in conjunction with the other. I'm all for the ISS, and was highly disappointed when they cut the size back so that habitation can only accommodate three astronauts/scientists rather than the intended twelve. That would have been a real little community working together in space, and would have greatly enhanced the amount of experimentation which could be conducted on an ongoing basis. But why couldn't we, for instance, have continued with the Apollo program at the same time we were developing the shuttles and space stations? I know it's largely due to budgetary concerns...so increase the budget! What we spend on space is a paltry sum compared to other areas of exorbitant expense. Both programs are important and should be pursued together, complimentary to one another...not as an either/or proposition. And I certainly don't see where "flag waving" is any longer a factor in all this...the Cold War "Space Race" had it's place, and that notion is now passé. I really don't think anybody's going to Mars to be the first one to plant a flag there. That trip will, and should be, an internationally supported journey to explore other worlds for the benefit of mankind...and maybe for proof of other life.


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#94230 - 02/07/03 05:58 PM it's the relative speeds that count
TEd Remington Offline
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wofa:

Do NOT do this, but think about what happens:

Driving along at 60 miles an hour, throw a styrofoam cup out of the window at the same time you throw out, oh, a marble.

Which one is going to continue moving at close to 60 MPH and which one is going to slow down immediately. That piece of foam would go to zero air speed pretty quickly. And when your tail fin hits it. . . .

_________________________
TEd

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#94231 - 02/07/03 10:17 PM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
milum Offline
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Registered: 09/03/01
Posts: 872
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
OK HERE'S WHATS REAL.

(A) We (the USA) are the only gutfull defenders of the rights of mankind, and we, will defend and protect our God-given-right to extend our God given rights to the recogition of we men.


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#94232 - 02/08/03 07:20 AM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
Faldage Offline
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#94233 - 02/08/03 08:17 AM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
maahey Offline
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Registered: 12/03/02
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I see multiple threads there Faldage; which one of them were you referring to?


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#94234 - 02/08/03 08:53 AM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
Wordwind Offline
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Cool board, Faldage.

There are two threads I've gone through: one on interstellar travel and the other on the shuttle crew.

Thanks for the link.


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#94235 - 02/08/03 09:48 AM Re: Some interesting thumbnails
Wordwind Offline
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If you've got plenty of time and the inclination, here's a page from the NASA site I posted earlier down below in Miscellany:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/investigation/sensors/index.html

This page has numerous thumbnail diagrams of the sensors going out in the order they went out. The thumbnails aren't of much use, but if you have patience and time, increase the size of the thumbnails and follow the time sequence.


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#94236 - 02/08/03 06:22 PM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
Faldage Offline
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which one of them were you referring to?

I wasn't referring to any one of them specifically. That's where you go if you want to discuss politics or religion or other subjects that aren't really of concern to this board.


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#94237 - 02/08/03 06:56 PM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
milum Offline
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Registered: 09/03/01
Posts: 872
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
I wasn't referring to any one of them specifically. That's where you go if you want to discuss politics or religion or other subjects that aren't really of concern to this board.

I agree faldage, but please, pray tell, what are the real concerns of your board? _____________________



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#94238 - 02/10/03 03:50 AM Re: It's Time to Dream Higher
Rubrick Offline
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Rubrick, where do you get the ten years? The unmanned missions to Mars have only taken around 18-21 months to get there, so a manned trip should involve no more than 5 years in space (2.5 there, 2.5 back). Mars ain't that far away, after all. Cassini will reach Saturn less than ten years after launch, so ten years to Mars must be taking the scenic route.

The ten years are the worst case scenario which must always be presumed before a firsts-time launch. If you have a small unmanned mission like the lunar rover then you don't have to worry about a leak in the oxygen supply before a launch. This light that candle and watch it fly!

Now there is only a small launch window for Mars because it and Earth are orbiting at different speeds. Miss that aunch window and you are likely playing catchup. If you don't launch then you will have to wait another 18 months for the next realignment. It could feasibly take 18-21 months to get there if all went well but this is nothing like any manned mission performed before so I'm guessing that they'll add a few months on to an each way trip to allow for hitches such as the realignment one above.

Structural damage due to speed is not an issue in space where the vacuum means there is no medium to incur fatigue. The only real risk of damage is landing on Mars and, with its lower gravity than Earth (but denser than the moon) the question of relaunch is going to be a tough one to answer.


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#94239 - 02/28/03 12:33 PM Re: Columbia video
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
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I just watched a hand-held video NASA released taken by the crew 11 minutes before the break-up. There is no indication in the footage the crew had knowledge of any problems, though it is a bit eerie watching them film the plasma building through the windows and commenting about it....the film ended about 4 minutes bofore any trouble began as they first entered the atmosphere...the rest of the file was destroyed. It will air again at 3 pm and 6 pm (EST) on the 24 hr news channels, for those who might be interested.




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#94240 - 03/02/03 11:50 AM Re: it's the relative speeds that count
modestgoddess Offline
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Registered: 02/18/02
Posts: 833
Loc: Eastern Ontario, Canada
That's where you go if you want to discuss politics or religion or
other subjects that aren't really of concern to this board.


Hm. I had that initial reaction to milum's post, but then I thought he must be joking?

anyway, 'tis good to know about snurl, for them as wants to battle that notion out.


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#94241 - 03/02/03 06:58 PM snurl
AnnaStrophic Offline
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...is an even shorter make-a-shorter-link.


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