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Space Shuttle Columbia Explodes over Texas - Page 7

post #241 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Scott:
<strong>

Ummm? No. In fact I think I was the one called a Nazi. A racist too.


Back on Topic?

Here's the latest from NYT

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/04/national/04WRON.html" target="_blank">Engineer's '97 Report Warned of Damage to Tiles by Foam</a>

login: aimember
pass: aimember

Ooooopps <img src="embarrassed.gif" border="0"> NASucks needs to be shut down.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Scott. For the last time, link the story from google news so we don't have to log in. I'm happy you have a login for us but it's completely unnecessary.

Here is the easy no login link:

<a href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=68&ncid=68&e=2&u=/nyt/20030204/ts_nyt/engineer_s__97_report_warned_of_damage_to_tiles_by _foam" target="_blank">click here</a>

[ 02-04-2003: Message edited by: Brad ]</p>

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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post #242 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by BR:
<strong>

Scott. For the last time, link the story from google news so we don't have to log in. I'm happy you have a login for us but it's completely unnecessary.

Here is the easy no login link:

<a href="http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=68&ncid=68&e=2&u=/nyt/20030204/ts_nyt/engineer_s__97_report_warned_of_damage_to_tiles_by _foam" target="_blank">click here</a></strong><hr></blockquote>

Last time? Don't you mean first time? The big bitch that everyone had is thet they didn't want to register. So I did it for them. No we don't wan t to log in? Sigh.

[ 02-04-2003: Message edited by: Brad ]</p>
post #243 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Scott:
<strong>

Last time? Don't you mean first time? The big bitch that everyone had is thet they didn't want to register. So I did it for them. No we don't wan t to log in? Sigh.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I've been informing everyone about google news in every thread I've visited that has a link to a NYT article.

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
Reply

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
Reply
post #244 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by BR:
<strong>
Carbon nanotubes are the way to go. Once the technology is developed enough, an elevator with one end latched to an aircraft carrier in the pacific ocean and the other end attatched to a satellite or space station in geosynchronous orbit would be possible. Then all that is needed is electricity to move objects into orbit.

[ 02-02-2003: Message edited by: BR ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

I think I read about this idea in "3001." I realize that it was written a fair bit back, but I was under the impression that the tech was still a ways off. I haven't been following it though, what's the latest?
post #245 of 278
The CN tech is still not perfect, but it's getting there. <a href="http://www.highliftsystems.com/" target="_blank">This</a> company seems to be the one on top in the private sector. Very cool stuff.
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post #246 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Guartho:
<strong>

I think I read about this idea in "3001." I realize that it was written a fair bit back, but I was under the impression that the tech was still a ways off. I haven't been following it though, what's the latest?</strong><hr></blockquote>
It's still a ways off. We have to learn how to make longer and thicker nanotubes first.

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
Reply

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
Reply
post #247 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by BR:
<strong>

I've been informing everyone about google news in every thread I've visited that has a link to a NYT article.</strong><hr></blockquote>


awww...how noble of you.


thanks scott and thanks especially for the login/password

very useful
post #248 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by BR:
<strong>
It's still a ways off. We have to learn how to make longer and thicker nanotubes first.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Nanoviagra?

At this point, a software malfunction seems unlikely as the root cause.

Several tiles have been found *far* west of the breakup point, leading to speculation that the initial tile damage was the seed for a much larger bout of tile loss when re-entry started. That larger tile loss is what then allowed the heat in the structure to build up to fatal levels.
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post #249 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Kickaha:
[QB]

Nanoviagra?
/QB]<hr></blockquote>

Now THAT made me laugh.

FWIW, the CN project could *potentially* be up and running in 15 years. This is a very big deal, and worth looking in to. If it wasn't for the cold-war space race, and Americans having to piss on the moon as it were, we would have been building the ISS first and then traversing from there. As it is now, we've got things ass-backwards, because of American ego.
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post #250 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Kickaha:
<strong>

Nanoviagra?

.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Nanoviagra,
Nanodicks,

The future is sad : so small

[ 02-04-2003: Message edited by: Powerdoc ]</p>
post #251 of 278
.....sleep........precious sleep.......

[ 02-04-2003: Message edited by: 709 ]</p>
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post #252 of 278
Ok, from a buddy at JPL, this seems to be the leading theory:

The foam insulation impacted on the bottom of the left wing, damaging an area of at *most* 7"x30". That's only five tiles (6"x6"). The foam weighed about 2.5 pounds. Five tiles is basically nothing on an average liftoff, so it wasn't any reason for concern.

However, they now believe that it impacted on the edge of the wheel well, where the well door seals. There would be an opportunity there for buckling of the tiles, since they aren't inter-adhered on the secondary layer.

This buckling would have provided a lip for air to catch early in re-entry, providing the force needed to peel off a tile. Once one tile peels off, the next is exposed, and so on, so they come off like a zipper.

The reports of 'sparks' falling behind the shuttle as far west as CA would reflect this. They were tiles.

It appears it was sheer bad luck that the otherwise unworrisome foam hit precisely where it did. If it had been on a sheer surface (which is the vast majority of the wing surface), it shouldn't have been a problem at all.

No one could have known where the foam hit precisely, but the video supports this theory, or at least doesn't rule it out completely.
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post #253 of 278
<strong>Originally posted by Scott:
Here's the latest from NYT

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/04/national/04WRON.html" target="_blank">Engineer's '97 Report Warned of Damage to Tiles by Foam</a></strong>

The report isn't that conclusive:

... He said on the 1997 mission the shuttle sustained a significant amount of damage to its heat tiles. In a normal mission, a shuttle will sustain damage to up to 40 tiles because of ice dropping from the external tank and hitting the tiles, Mr. Katnik reported. But on that mission, he said, "the pattern of hits did not follow aerodynamic expectations, and the number, size and severity of the hits were abnormal."

Inspectors counted 308 hits. Of those, 132 were "greater than one inch," Mr. Katnik said. Some of the hits measured up to 15 inches long with depths of up to one-and-a-half inches. The tiles were only two inches deep, so the largest hits penetrated three-quarters of the way into the tiles, he noted.

The damaged tiles were mostly around the shuttle's nose. After the mission, more than 100 tiles were taken off because "they were irreparable," Mr. Katnik said.

The report went on to speculate as to why the foam dropped off. As it turned out, to be environmentally friendly, NASA had eliminated the use of Freon in foam production, Mr. Katnik reported. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., later concluded that the absence of Freon led to the detachment of the foam.

While the formulation was later improved, the episode revealed potentially dangerous new ways in which tiles could be damaged.

"The tiles still had plenty of material left," Mr. Katnik said in an interview yesterday. "There was a margin of safety."


That problem was looked at and a fix implemented with a different foam insulation. I can't speculate about any of this, but I will say this, be careful about chasing wild geese. Everyone is concentrating on the foam insulation so hard that they seem to have blinders on. While it very well may be the root cause in the end - if the cause can be ascertained in the first place - this investigation will probably go through a circuitous route of possible causes before it's done.

<strong>Ooooopps <img src="embarrassed.gif" border="0"> NASucks needs to be shut down.</strong>

I partially agree with you actually. Much like my viewpoint after Sept 11 with the FBI and CIA, I think that NASA needs to be dissolved and reconstituted with better organizational rules, in particular, one that is removed from congressional and OMB policy as much as possible (they need to oversee, but cannot direct) as well as an oligarchy of top level management.

If there is an actual sustainable market for space missions, manned space missions, then I'm all for it. But the market isn't there. No NASA, no space, no manned missions. The gov't needs to support basic technological developments and research in many unprofittable things. It's like saying a private company would fund the $8G superconducting supercollider.
post #254 of 278
[ 02-04-2003: Message edited by: 709 ]</p>
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post #255 of 278
Just random thoughts here:

I'm wondering, does the Space Shuttle have one of those "blackbox" things like airplanes, or is that realtime telemetry and data link with ground control essentially the same thing?

The news media seems to be circling viciously around the foam block damaging the wing theory. I can't tell if it is good that they are being vigilent for an answer, or does it risk veiling the matters that really ended up causing the problem (if they are different)? Is it even possible to report honest, objective news at this point, or are they ineptly forcing a historic context to the situation by virtue of their rabidness? It seems almost like a witch hunt to find an answer, find the guilty party, determine if NASA has serious internal problems, is it an issue of money or incompetence or negligence?... Are the space shuttles really "old", or are they unaware of what is really considered "old" for a craft such as this? Are they relatively old when compared to B-52 or A10 standards, for example? As a casual observer, I don't know what to believe, but it seems the media (and detractors) want to take any and all directions not to find the answer to this catastrophe, but just to be media saavy (IMO).

It's entirely possible that something seedy could be going on inside NASA, however. Would that truth ever be exposed, or is it at all possible a coverup could be attempted? Maybe not something as elaborate as a "coverup", but they could just as easily give the simplest answer that the media would believe just so they move on and stop hounding them.

With the sheer number of levels that can be going on here, who knows if the real, entire fact of the matter could ever be uncovered? Maybe it is entirely unreasonable to expect such an answer, lest we simply settle for the most plausible answer that makes sense to the simple layman in the end? Can it really be pared down to something as simple as a person, an agency, a single defective part, a mishap, or the one-in-million odds collision with the wrong piece of space dust while in orbit?
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post #256 of 278
I hate to step into a pissing match, and I'm not going to read seven pages of stuff to find out if anyone has considered this...

If they had determined there had been damage to the heat tiles, how would they had fixed them? I mean, they don't have all the equipment or more tiles to do it. They couldn't see the reverse to confirm if there was damage, right?

How would they have gotten everyone home safely, or would there be a special trip and we would have the first space-only vehicle in orbit?

Just wondering.
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post #257 of 278
[quote]I hate to step into a pissing match, and I'm not going to read seven pages of stuff to find out if anyone has considered this...<hr></blockquote>

You should probably just skim through the seven pages of stuff, but in brief:
1. there was no way to determine the precise extent of the damage
2. there was no way to repair any damage
3. there was no way to recover the crew without landing Columbia

You could argue that reasonable precautions should have been taken for 1, but since that wouldn't change 2 or 3, it wouldn't have changed the outcome. When you're doing something as dangerous as space travel, sometimes you're just SOL.
post #258 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by nosey:
<strong>I hate to step into a pissing match, and I'm not going to read seven pages of stuff to find out if anyone has considered this...

If they had determined there had been damage to the heat tiles, how would they had fixed them? I mean, they don't have all the equipment or more tiles to do it. They couldn't see the reverse to confirm if there was damage, right?

How would they have gotten everyone home safely, or would there be a special trip and we would have the first space-only vehicle in orbit?

Just wondering.</strong><hr></blockquote>

the answer to yer questions is in the 7 pages you skipped...
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post #259 of 278
That is a very valid point. From all accounts I've read, there isn't any repair that could have been done even if they had located a "bad" tile. Many people don't realize that the space shuttle isn't a car you can just step out of and replace a flat tire, and then be on your way. It certainly raises the pucker factor once you realize that the ship is your lifeline, and quite possibly you will go down with the ship if there is a mishap. It is also not even clear that a "damaged tile" would even be casually recognizable. For all we know, almost every tile on there may show some scuff, scratch, or minor imperfection after a launch and almost 2 weeks in duty in space. So how is someone expected to pick out/distinguish the "bad" tile(s) out of a couple hundred other ones that aren't exactly pristine looking, in the first place?

So really, the only other option is to abandon ship and wait for a pick-up. However, you better be *balls-sure* there is even a credible problem to contemplate such a recourse. This is like an n-billion dollar piece of hardware with even more billions invested in data and cargo, so you don't just abandon ship because you *think* something is wrong. It would be nice if you could for the upmost safety for the astronauts, but it just isn't a practical plan because you might be doing that for every single shuttle ever launched. To reiterate the original sentiment, how can you be *that* sure to make a decision like that? Most likely you can't, so you proceed with the original plan.

What freaks me out is that they weren't sure there was anything to be concerned about until they had already committed to re-entry. *That's* when you find out something is seriously wrong- when you got guidance correction systems going off and weird temperature readings. At that point, you are totally invested. You can't abort a "re-entry". So either the ship makes it or not. That's pretty scary for me to think about! I can only imagine the horror that came about when they (the 7 astronauts) know the ship has had a breach, and they knew that was the end.
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post #260 of 278
Towel is absolutely right.

- No underside photos from space (no arm/no tele requests)
- No definitive photos from ground (wrong angles et all)
- No communication with Shuttle (about foam/wing contact)
- Only 1 precedent for foam fall-away concern (ie: minimal risk)

I love the space program, but, obviously things need to change.
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post #261 of 278
Thanks guys... I appreciate the synopsis... I could only read so much of the "you shut up" "no, you shut up" "Liar lirar, pants on fire!" conversations without my eyes glazing over...

Hopefully new designs from the private sector will be considered now. The Space Shuttle was designed a long time ago, and while technology and updates have advanced, I can't help thinking it is going to turn into something like the Canadian Militaries Sea King helicopters over time.

Innovation can't be curtailed if there are improvements to be made. Imagine where Apple would be today if they had stopped with the iMac and first generation of towers.
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post #262 of 278
[quote]I love the space program, but, obviously things need to change.<hr></blockquote>

Not sure I agree with the conclusion. There's a certain risk of doing business in such a hostile environment that you can't reasonably eliminate. Like I suggested, they could/should make those new little robot cameras standard cargo, but beyond that...nothing they could have reasonably done, even in hindsight, could have saved the crew. And from what Kickaha said (which seems like it's becoming the favored theory), it was just dumb, piss-poor, sh1tty luck that the foam happened to hit in the precise spot where it could do fatal damage. You can never engineer probability to zero. You can radically change the technology, but all that does is change the nature of what can randomly go wrong. So is it worth the risk in the end? Yes. Learn lessons if you can, and drive on.
post #263 of 278
Staying "modern" with frequent updates is not necessarily the "solution". We could be in a far worse situation if we had a brand new space shuttle design every 2 years (if it were even possible). The sheer complexity of this craft would ensure a steady amount of new bugs and defects to contend with. Being "old" does not automatically mean "obsolete". Things like this are built with the most reliable technologies available to date to ensure safety and integrity. They are designed and built with longevity in mind (we not talking about consumer cars with planned obsolescence). So various aerospace crafts may seem "old" in car years, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is really "old" in its own terms. IIRC, Columbia was, at best, "middle-aged" as far as its intended lifespan.
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post #264 of 278
The crew, what they did and what they did not do:

The Columbia crew was a crew made up of individuals who took great risk to chase their dreams. These individuals came together without political, religious or any other consideration to put mankind ahead via the hopes and deeds of their courage and commitment.
This group of inspired dedicated people set out to participate in the expansion of human knowledge and understanding. The cost was great both measured and realized. We as citizens of the world are forever thankful for their works of science but further for their works of showing the entire world the measure of their human character. Laughter and smiles, with the interface we had with their communication to earth in days past show a quality of mankind to which we must all hold in great humble respect.
We must learn that it is not what goes wrong that is the main story of the day but rather what went right with these men and women in their journey for all of humanity.
The crew did not let fear of the possible dangers stop them from reaching for their dreams. This too is a lesson that we must take hold of as people who will act in the future in their legacy. Discovery and courage with a tremendous level of human emotion of all sorts is what makes us all human.
I am hopeful that with all that is known we come to understand that what drives us all is indeed our humanity and concern for all of us. As we all know planet Earth is not so big when viewed from space. May we all do our best to make the future a better place never to forget the people of all walks of life who inspire us.

God Bless..

Fellowship
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May the peace of the Lord be with you always

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post #265 of 278
i heard a guy interviewed from NASA today, and they were asking him the same question.

they wanted to know, if NASA had known how badly the damage was, what would they have done differently.

he said there was only 1 possiblilty, but that it would be extremely dangerous, and they wouldn't do it unless they were almost 100% sure it couldn't land normally.

he said that in the case of massive damage to one side's tiles, they could try and bring the shuttle in with more heat/emphasis on the good side.

the problem is that it's not designed to take this kind of heat, and it would destroy the shuttle. then he said before the thing blew, they'd have the astronauts bail out and hope for the best.

the real kicker?

it has to be done at under 20,000 ft. and slower than Mach 1.

they were upwards of 200,000 and Mach 18 when it blew.
post #266 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Towel:
[QB]
Not sure I agree with the conclusion.../QB]<hr></blockquote>

I don't know....let's say the little robots and the Canada Arm came as 'standard features' on every shuttle launch from here on out. Would that have prevented this week's tragedy? Probably not. Would it have aided the crew and the controllers in assessing the situation? Sure. Is that reasonable change? I think so. Yes, every kilogram of weight adds to the cost of launch and subtracts from the billable cargo. I get that. But, at what cost/weight/safety standard do we draw ther line? Nobody ever really thinks they need side airbags, until they really need them.
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post #267 of 278
Ok, I'll say it once again. Don't you guys think this sort of thing happened a lot with the early days of flight? If you don't believe me just look at some of those old films from the early part of the last century.

The only difference is that now cutting edge technology costs billions of dollars. However the subject here seems to be lives.

I would be willing to bet there will be many disasters connected with space travel in the next oh say hundred years. At least as many as we have with airplanes. But ironically it will still be safer than driving your car on the freeway right now. We need to see this in perspective.

This will probably be remembered as an historical event. Like some of those early airplane crashes. Not something that caused us to rethink space travel.

I still say they need to give them more money for modern space craft design.

Once again losing two in twenty years isn't a bad record.

I'm not trying to be callous but you can only learn from making mistakes.

[ 02-05-2003: Message edited by: jimmac ]</p>
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post #268 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Kickaha:
<strong>Ok, from a buddy at JPL, this seems to be the leading theory:

The foam insulation impacted on the bottom of the left wing, damaging an area of at *most* 7"x30". That's only five tiles (6"x6"). The foam weighed about 2.5 pounds. Five tiles is basically nothing on an average liftoff, so it wasn't any reason for concern.

However, they now believe that it impacted on the edge of the wheel well, where the well door seals. There would be an opportunity there for buckling of the tiles, since they aren't inter-adhered on the secondary layer.

This buckling would have provided a lip for air to catch early in re-entry, providing the force needed to peel off a tile. Once one tile peels off, the next is exposed, and so on, so they come off like a zipper.

The reports of 'sparks' falling behind the shuttle as far west as CA would reflect this. They were tiles.

It appears it was sheer bad luck that the otherwise unworrisome foam hit precisely where it did. If it had been on a sheer surface (which is the vast majority of the wing surface), it shouldn't have been a problem at all.

No one could have known where the foam hit precisely, but the video supports this theory, or at least doesn't rule it out completely.</strong><hr></blockquote>

sounds very plausible to me
post #269 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by 709:
<strong>I don't know....let's say the little robots and the Canada Arm came as 'standard features' on every shuttle launch from here on out...Would it have aided the crew and the controllers in assessing the situation? Sure.</strong><hr></blockquote>

That is completely predicated that such damage was even visible or could even be assessed by visual means. Maybe it was, maybe not. This isn't like a videogame where the objective is to find the bad tile, and you find it because it is a slightly different shade than the others and something happens when you target it and press the "action" button. So putting an arm on every shuttle flight whether or not the mission called for one, still wouldn't make such detection a "sure thing". Compounding the situation, do you think an astronaut could really assess the damage of some black tiles with less than ideal lighting just by looking at a lo-res CRT screen from inside the shuttle? Do you think an engineer on the ground could make such a determination by looking at a fuzzy version of an even more lo-res video feed sent to ground control?

[ 02-05-2003: Message edited by: Randycat99 ]</p>
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post #270 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by Randycat99:
<strong>

That is completely predicated that such damage was even visible or could even be assessed by visual means. Maybe it was, maybe not. This isn't like a videogame where the objective is to find the bad tile, and you find it because it is a slightly different shade than the others and something happens when you target it and press the "action" button. So putting an arm on every shuttle flight whether or not the mission called for one, still wouldn't make such detection a "sure thing".

[ 02-05-2003: Message edited by: Randycat99 ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

Um. The controllers had the damage on tape. They knew what happened. Had the shuttle had the capabilities at that time, I'm pretty sure Houston would have swung the camera arm around to have a look-see. Video Game? No. Video? Yes.
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post #271 of 278
...and what would they have said, "Uh yeah. Definitely some scuff marks and missing tiles there. Looks pretty much like the rest of the shuttle. Do I think the shuttle is going to go up in a ball of fire because of it? Beats the hell outta me! It didn't turn out that way for every shuttle mission that preceded this one." Better call off this one, because we have 20/20 hindsight, right?

To clarify, I'm not necessarily saying it would not have been a good idea to have a look. I'm saying that just being able to look at it still guarantees nothing, barring obvious, extreme damage (which has certainly not been indicated at this time). My hunch is that looking at it still probably tells you less than nothing, unless it is a big gaping hole in the wing (at which I'm sure they would have detected a breach by other means long before a visual inspection was done).

[ 02-05-2003: Message edited by: Randycat99 ]</p>
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post #272 of 278
Don't be absurd. I'm not trying to insinuate any blame on the lack of tech aboard. There's nothing that could have been done to fix anything on this mission anyways. Period. Hindsight is always 20/20, as you say, I'm just thinking aloud to what could have happened if they had the extra tech on board. Not that it would have saved the crew, but it might have saved months of the upcoming investigation.
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post #273 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by 709:
<strong>Not that it would have saved the crew, but it might have saved months of the upcoming investigation.</strong><hr></blockquote>

If it didn't save the crew, then that implies the shuttle crashed. If the shuttle crashed, why would it have saved months of investigation?
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post #274 of 278
[quote]Originally posted by 709:
<strong>

I don't know....let's say the little robots and the Canada Arm came as 'standard features' on every shuttle launch from here on out. Would that have prevented this week's tragedy? Probably not. Would it have aided the crew and the controllers in assessing the situation? Sure. Is that reasonable change? I think so. Yes, every kilogram of weight adds to the cost of launch and subtracts from the billable cargo. I get that. But, at what cost/weight/safety standard do we draw ther line? Nobody ever really thinks they need side airbags, until they really need them.</strong><hr></blockquote>

For inspection purposes, you only need the little robots to launch from the Space Station. Like Seaquest... manueverable for different camera angles.

Hey... What an idea for international marketing... Let Sony, Kodak or one of the other camera manufacturers pay for it, with exclusivity on the images produced. A manueverable little camera which can inspect for damage and film for posterity using various technologies.

I mean, why put all this on every shuttle mission. They did make it to the station, didn't they?
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post #275 of 278
Because if they had the arm, or robot thingys, or whatever, they could have at least taken a look at any supposed damage.

'Hey, there was a big chunk of foamy stuff that might have knocked some tiles off your wing" "OK, let's have a look"

If indeed there was a huge strip of tiles missing, or none at all, that would at least alleviate some of the guesswork NASA is going through right now. That's all I'm saying.

It's difficult to be so science and callous in these situations, but that's exactly what needs to happen to make sure this doesn't happen again.
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post #276 of 278
...and if the shuttle still crashes after that, they would spend months piecing it back together and reviewing the data just as they are now. They still wouldn't up and chalk it up to some missing tiles. They would still have the huge job of determining and confirming the real mode of failure before them. You have to find the evidence and work your way backwards to the cause. You don't pick a probable failure mode and then try to connect it with the evidence (well, maybe you do if you are the news media).

[ 02-05-2003: Message edited by: Randycat99 ]</p>
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post #277 of 278
Fascinating article, which sounds like it was written this week..including the line:

[quote]But you're in luck--the launch goes fine. Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back. <hr></blockquote>

<a href="http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/8004.easterbrook-fulltext.html" target="_blank">Written in 1980</a>

(link shamlessly stolen from a /. poster)
post #278 of 278
IIRC, the prototype AERCam Sprint robotic inspection ball was equipped with stereo colour television cameras (as the NASA link i provided on p5 confirms)

I have also seen video/animation from ISS proposals where the 2nd generation of this little soccerball sized 'bot is designed with thermal imaging cameras, particle detectors, and either spectroscopic or uv capabilities.

slugging a more advanced sensor package into the ball (even if it's a one-use and lose investment) would thus theoretically provide more than enough data sources to gather detailed information about tile state prior to re-entry

and if the shuttle still disintegrates, at least the engineers will have had an accurate "before" picture (in many wavelengths) to direct investigations

and though there isn't a tile repair kit that would work for the replacement of such unique tiles, how about just slathering on a patching compound that liquifies and distributes re-entry heat in a laminar flow away from any surface divots or freakishly separated seams

such coatings wouldn't need to be cement (and bricking up the landing gear doors wouldn't make landing any softer... but a belly landing beats burning up any day),
even if they cooked off at 3000 degrees, if they provided even a minute of dissipation, if might ameliorate local tile damage with a "second skin" that sheds before subsonic

that or throw a few coats of ding-resistant varnish on the shuttle before launch... sure to smoke off during early re-entry, but maybe enough to provide a barrier to ice and foam damage during liftoff

and if we really want to crowd the life-imitating-art folks, consider this technological fix ... cold plasma shields



caption: Side view of a cold plasma inside a Pyrex glass container. Cold plasmas can cloak satellites and spacecraft from radar view and shield them against attack from certain kinds of energy weapons.

from <a href="http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/cold_plasma_000724.html" target="_blank">here... state of the tech in 2000</a>

Damnit Scotty, I need those shields NOW!
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