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ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 05:19 PM
Hubble debate a lot of sound and fury (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4580820/)


While NASA made ghastly blunders in announcing and explaining the decision to cancel a needed repair mission, the public furor that has ensued is based on fundamental misunderstandings and misconception mixed with posturing and politics.

Thumper
2004-Mar-23, 05:43 PM
JimO certainly writes well and level headed. I don't like his conclusion. But I certainly can't disagree with it. You can't argue that the decision needs to be made on scientific, safety, and rational objective means.

Swift
2004-Mar-23, 07:08 PM
Actually, I don't particularly like either his writing or his conclusions. For one, I guess I'm missing something, but what is his conclusion? Is it that he agree's with O'Keefe, but disagrees with how the decision was given to the public (PR malfunction)? Or is it he thinks the reaction is just politically motivated (a way to bash the Bush space plan)? Or is it he doesn't like the general public's opinion to save the Hubble (nuts to them, they just pay to bills)?


After all, we only have three space shuttles left. We need to protect them a lot more than we'll need to protect the planned Constellation-class expendable vehicles with an open production line
So what exactly are we saving these space shuttles for? A rainy day? Yeah, yeah, I know, we are saving them to build the ISS. I actually was a fan of the ISS at one point, but its looking more and more like a big, leaky lemon. If what taxpaying and NASA administrator types care about is being safe and not spending too much money, then why don't we just drop the dang ISS and ground the shuttle fleet completely. Spend the money on a better launch platform. If I have to vote between the Hubble and the ISS, I vote Hubble.

AstroRockHunter
2004-Mar-23, 07:45 PM
One thing I don't understand is, how can it be a greater risk, safety wise, to service the Hubble than it is to build/resupply/waste more money and resources on the ISS???

IMO, the safety, or lack there of, is in large part mission independent. I say "in large part" because there are specific concerns about safety that are mission dependent, but getting to and from the mission site is not.

How so??? you ask. I'm glad you did. Let's start with this:


The Columbia report, issued only last August, blamed the loss of the space shuttle and the deaths of its seven-member crew on NASA's habit of relaxing safety standards to meet financial and time constraints and warned of future tragedy if the space agency's "broken safety culture" continued.




This is an attitude that is not, and should never be considered, part of any one mission. It effects EVERY mission.

The accident that doomed Columbia happened on lift-off. EVERY mission has a lift-off.

Too further flog the issue:


In preparing the next shuttle mission, O’Keefe writes, “NASA has uncovered a number of problems that had previously gone undetected,” which has “deferred Space Shuttle launch milestones.” I wish he’d just used English -– “has delayed the next launch” –- but the point is valid.

As a result, after resuming assembly and servicing and resupplying the International Space Station –- NASA’s priority project, involving major foreign partnerships -– O’Keefe writes that “the earliest NASA could launch a servicing mission to the HST ... would be Spring 2007.”


I especially love the "previously gone undetected" part. Anyway, my point here is that the only mission to the ISS that we should even consider is to recover our people and what small equipment we could reuse and to plant self destruct charges on that white elephant and blow it into pieces small enough to burn up on re-entry.

Mr. Oberg's contention that:


Some “leaked” memos from anonymous “NASA insiders” allege the Hubble mission is actually safer than a space station mission.(This despite the fact that the shuttle crew can actually take refuge in the space station should they need to, and from there inspect and repair their vehicle.)

is ludicrous at best. The ISS can barley support three occupants for any extended period of time. What happens to the resources aboard the ISS when you add the seven shuttle crew members???

I'm not going into the politics of the situation.

Anyway, to argue that we should abandon a proven asset to science like the Hubble in favor of a costly, useless white elephant like the ISS and try to justify it with "safety concerns" is just another example of how gullible our elected representitives think we are.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-23, 08:50 PM
The ISS can barley support three occupants for any extended period of time. What happens to the resources aboard the ISS when you add the seven shuttle crew members???

This is incorrect. If the ISS can support three occupants for months without resupply, it can certainly support ten for weeks. The main limitation on the number of astronauts inhabiting the ISS is that there's only room to rescue three with a single, Soyuz spacecraft. One of the safety requirements is that you can only have as many astronauts up there as can be removed and returned to Earth in case of emergency.

Chris CII
2004-Mar-24, 10:48 AM
Hubble is in a near-equatorial orbit that requires launching shuttles east over the open Atlantic, far from the emergency landing sites on the U.S. East Coast that could save a limping shuttle bound for the station’s orbit. And Hubble is almost twice as high as the station, presenting a challenging propulsion task to return to Earth –- some hardware or fuel supply problems that would merely annoy a shuttle at the space station could doom it on a telescope mission.

Based on this it seems there is indeed a different level of risk in a Hubble service mission than in an ISS mission.

Swift
2004-Mar-24, 01:52 PM
I agree that in some sense the Hubble mission is riskier, given the lifeboat nature of the ISS and the different orbit. But I think that is a little false.

Using the ISS as a lifeboat only works if you find out that there is something wrong with the shuttle before you leave orbit and the thing that went wrong doesn't destroy it during launch. The real risk, IMHO, is the launch. Both shuttles were destroyed by problems during launch. Yeah, yeah, the second one was acutally destroyed during re-entry, but the damage was caused during launch.

So to me, the real risk is launching the shuttle, whether you are heading to the ISS or the Hubble. If its too risky to go to the Hubble, its too risky going to the ISS.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-24, 02:52 PM
Hubble is in a near-equatorial orbit that requires launching shuttles east over the open Atlantic, far from the emergency landing sites on the U.S. East Coast that could save a limping shuttle bound for the station’s orbit. And Hubble is almost twice as high as the station, presenting a challenging propulsion task to return to Earth –- some hardware or fuel supply problems that would merely annoy a shuttle at the space station could doom it on a telescope mission.

Based on this it seems there is indeed a different level of risk in a Hubble service mission than in an ISS mission.

It seems bogus to me. The shuttle's routine mission profile has always been the low-inclination orbit, and the abort modes are well-defined. The abort modes in which landing at, say, Dover, Delaware, would be helpful are highly unlikely as well as brief due to the shuttle's speed. If it were really that much safer, then shuttle missions would take the high-inclination path by default, not by necessity.

On the other hand, it takes more work to get to a high-inclination orbit, and more can go wrong when trying to do so.

As for the different altitudes, that also seems bogus. The amount of fuel needed to be expended by the shuttle to return to Earth is very small, and the difference between a low orbit and a slightly higher orbit is tiny.

Oberg just seems to be coming up with any rationale that will support his case. You could come up with equally meritorious reasons (i.e., not very) why an HST mission is safer than an ISS mission.

Overall, I think the difference in safety between the two missions is minuscule compared with - as Swift says - just launching the shuttle in the first place. We're talking about the difference between a 2% chance of failure and a 2.01% chance.

daver
2004-Mar-24, 07:16 PM
So to me, the real risk is launching the shuttle, whether you are heading to the ISS or the Hubble. If its too risky to go to the Hubble, its too risky going to the ISS.
We haven't lost enough shuttles to have a good idea as to the various disaster scenarios and their likelihood. Possibly a Columbia-style problem could have been detected from the ISS, possibly flights to ISS could cut the loss-of-crew accident rate by 50%. I don't think it is very likely, but I don't think anyone has enough data to know for sure.

One of Oberg's points that I wholeheartedly agree with is the value of a shuttle. We cannot make more, and any further shuttle loss probably will kill the program. This is an incredibly stupid position to be in.

Swift
2004-Mar-24, 07:36 PM
One of Oberg's points that I wholeheartedly agree with is the value of a shuttle. We cannot make more, and any further shuttle loss probably will kill the program. This is an incredibly stupid position to be in.
But that is exactly one of my points... what are we saving the last three shuttles for? We don't want to do something that will risk losing another one. So what "special occassion" are we saving this good china for. The construction of the ISS? So the 10 or 20 further missions to finish the ISS have less risk than one Hubble mission?

The perfectly safe position is stop the shuttle program, whether you are trying to be safe for the vehicle or the people. That means no more ISS. That means take the three shuttles and put them in the Air and Space museum and spend the money on a new SAFE launch platform.

If you want to accept some risk, then it deciding what the relative risks are (as best as you can) and the cost/benefit analysis. I'm not an expert, but the risk of 10 ISS missions versus 1 Hubble mission, and finishing the ISS versus extending the life of the Hubble, comes out on the side of the Hubble.

And yes, we can't do the risk analysis like a life insurance acttuary (though 100 shuttle launches is a bigger data set than I often deal with). \lying with stats mode\ 100% of all failed shuttle missions had a failure during the launch. But again, it seems that launch and landing are the two risky parts, and the only failure mode that abort-to-ISS helps is a problem happens during launch, but you still make it to the ISS, you find the problem before you leave the ISS, and you can send another shuttle up there to fetch everyone. Just because this was what happened last time (except the save everyone part), does that make it the most likely thing to happen again? Usually its the things you haven't worked on that fail the next time. I suspect we'll watch the foam like a hawk the next launch, and fail to notice someone left a hatch open or put the gears for the landing gear on backwards.

2004-Mar-24, 08:31 PM
Hubble is in a near-equatorial orbit that requires launching shuttles east over the open Atlantic, far from the emergency landing sites on the U.S. East Coast that could save a limping shuttle bound for the station’s orbit. And Hubble is almost twice as high as the station, presenting a challenging propulsion task to return to Earth –- some hardware or fuel supply problems that would merely annoy a shuttle at the space station could doom it on a telescope mission.

Based on this it seems there is indeed a different level of risk in a Hubble service mission than in an ISS mission.

True but is the accumulated risk worse with one Hubble mission or 30 ISS missions?

daver
2004-Mar-24, 09:39 PM
True but is the accumulated risk worse with one Hubble mission or 30 ISS missions?

We seem to have four choices:

1. Shut down the shuttle program now (well, after the election).
2. Fly the HST refurbish mission and then shut down the shuttle.
3. Finish the ISS (19 missions) and then shut down the shuttle.
4. Finish the ISS and refurbish HST and then shut down the shuttle.

There's another option--business as usual. All scenarios terminate on the next shuttle disaster.

Oberg pointed out that it would likely be at least three years before a refurbish mission could be mounted. He didn't point out, but it seems fairly likely, that the fallout from a disaster during the HST mission could result in the destruction of NASA. It's going to be hard to find a NASA administrator who would put his career on the line like that.

I'd vote for options 1 or 2. I don't know what promises the US has made with regard to completing the ISS; I don't expect the US would have to pay damages for failing to complete the station to Japan or Russia, but it's going to further damage any future chances of international collaboration (not that they were all that high to begin with).

Terminating ISS seems like it would pretty much kill the US manned space program. The previous two US manned space flight programs (the Shuttle and ISS) will have been shown to be hideously expensive failures (they could lump Apollo in there as well I suppose--it wasn't a failure, but an expensive dead-end success); it would be a long time before congress authorized another (it could be done, I suppose. They could lay all the blame on NASA, and create another agency to handle manned space flight).

I don't like camel's nose reasoning myself, but someone more politically astute than I am could well have decided that finishing ISS had some value.

Swift
2004-Mar-24, 09:49 PM
I agree with daver on choices 1 or 2. I would also stop working to fix the shuttle (and I say this as a person who liked the shuttle) and start working on the next generation. I might also investigate other options for working on the ISS or the Hubble. For example, are there means to get modules to the ISS (at least some of them) and attach them without the shuttle.

daver
2004-Mar-24, 11:38 PM
I agree with daver on choices 1 or 2. I would also stop working to fix the shuttle (and I say this as a person who liked the shuttle) and start working on the next generation. I might also investigate other options for working on the ISS or the Hubble. For example, are there means to get modules to the ISS (at least some of them) and attach them without the shuttle.
I'm not sure that there's sufficient manpower. Possibly they could dock two Soyuz's. It sure seems like a Delta IV could be used for payload boosting.

Grand Vizier
2004-Mar-25, 12:55 AM
[...] I don't expect the US would have to pay damages for failing to complete the station to Japan or Russia, but it's going to further damage any future chances of international collaboration (not that they were all that high to begin with). [...]


Can't disagree - but don't forget ESA, too. There's an awful lot of hardware on the ground in Europe and Japan (Kibo, Columbus and a lot of extra Japanese stuff) and that also requires Node 2 and the full truss/solar panel structure to be flown too. Then there's the equipment racks that would be delivered by MPLM. Not much of this hardware can be shifted to conventional launchers - it doesn't have autonomous rendezvous/docking capability and is sized to fit the shuttle bay.

Plus there are the European ATV (Ariane) and Japanese HTV (H2-A) to be flown, which are bigger successors to Progress re-supply craft (first ATV flight is scheduled for Jan 2005 - dunno about HTV given the state of the H-2A).

If ISS were scrapped, I think the Russians would be less peeved because:

1) They haven't had the roubles to build the extra modules they originally wanted to attach, which would be launched by Proton or Soyuz anyway.

2) They might have the opportunity to sell their 6-person Soyuz replacement (assuming it's not vapourware) to Europe or Japan as a solution to the ISS crewing ACRV problem. That doesn't solve the problem of what to do with the already built modules, though.

(But they might be faintly annoyed about the US persuading them to ditch Mir because running two stations at once would be beyond their capabilities - which it actually would have been, I think).

For the record, I too reckon that ISS is a white elephant (hey, just for a change, some of my tax pounds are involved there) and would either retire the shuttle now or just use it to service Hubble (and, after all that's an ESA collaboration too).

Trouble is there's a real US-domestic and international political mess going on with ISS. I doubt that any politician would do more than want to be seen to be doing something, which is where the ISS 'safe refuge' concept comes in brilliantly. It means not only that ISS justifies the existence of the shuttle, but the shuttle justifies the existence of ISS. Perfect.

ToSeek
2004-Mar-25, 01:44 AM
Oberg pointed out that it would likely be at least three years before a refurbish mission could be mounted.

Yes, but that's assuming that NASA absolutely has to put into place all the backup and rescue capabilities allegedly required by the CAIB (another misleading statement by Oberg, btw). Doing a Hubble servicing mission the way it's always been done would take less time - in fact, most of the hardware is ready to go.

daver
2004-Mar-25, 02:46 AM
Oberg pointed out that it would likely be at least three years before a refurbish mission could be mounted.

Yes, but that's assuming that NASA absolutely has to put into place all the backup and rescue capabilities allegedly required by the CAIB (another misleading statement by Oberg, btw). Doing a Hubble servicing mission the way it's always been done would take less time - in fact, most of the hardware is ready to go.

And if NASA does launch in spite of the recommendations of the CAIB and if something goes wrong then everyone in the chain of command is going to be out of work for the rest of their lives. Nobody is going to commit to that--no bureaucrat is going to decide that a few more years of Hubble is worth his career.

So NASA will wait until the CAIB recommendations can be implemented or someone (not NASA) in a position of authority deems them unachievable. Maybe if Bush is reelected he can decree that NASA should launch regardless, but you'll need someone as bulletproof as a second-term president to do that.

JimO
2004-Mar-25, 05:32 PM
It seems bogus to me. The shuttle's routine mission profile has always been the low-inclination orbit, and the abort modes are well-defined. The abort modes in which landing at, say, Dover, Delaware, would be helpful are highly unlikely as well as brief due to the shuttle's speed. If it were really that much safer, then shuttle missions would take the high-inclination path by default, not by necessity.

On the other hand, it takes more work to get to a high-inclination orbit, and more can go wrong when trying to do so.

As for the different altitudes, that also seems bogus. The amount of fuel needed to be expended by the shuttle to return to Earth is very small, and the difference between a low orbit and a slightly higher orbit is tiny.



The CAIB's criticism focused on an overall cultural problem, not on 'preventing foam from breaking the thermal protection system again'. Safety doesn't lie in specifically preventing a repeat of the last accident -- after all, we never have had a second O-ring burnthrough -- but instead on identifying the 'assumptions of goodness, without hard proof', that open the shuttle up to future DIFFERENT failures.

The East Coast abort sites are needed for multiple-engine-out cases (Hubble servicing does not need a TAL site because the low weight of its payload allows a single-engine-out Abort-to-Orbit before the end of the RTLS window -- there's no gap). However, the analysis I've always seen is that an SSME failure is likely to be 'energetic' enough to take down at least one other SSME, and maybe both -- making the East Coast abort sites the most-likely-to-be-needed abort mode.

The work to get into high inclination is more than low inclination only if the payload is kept constant. Since it can't be -- since the shuttles are made to work TO THEIR MAXIMUM on every mission -- the payloads in high-incl missions are reduced by about 30% in mass. But the burn time and prop loads of either mission profile are similar.

Getting down from orbit is no trivial task. You need about 2 ft/sec delta-V for every NM to be lowered. About 22 lbs of prop are needed per ft/sec. You plan to lower the perigee to zero altitude -- this gives the proper flight path angle at 'entry interface'. Shuttles arriving at a target satellite do so with some excess propellant, that had been pre-flight budgeted to handle 'bad day' navigation, guidance, and control problems (this in fact was my specialty in Mission Control). If it's a normal day or a good day, that prop can be used to boost the orbit of the thingie you've docked to, plus save some more 'margin' for deorbit.

Coming down from higher up -- the prop requirements are essentially linearly increased with altitude -- runs into one major problem. The backup to a deorbit when the OMS system has failed is to use the +X RCS jets, and from the ISS, that will still work even though the RCS jets are significantly less efficient (lower Isp, 285 sec vs about 315 sec) than the OMS engines -- it works because the retained margin will cover the possible loss in performance. But at the altitude of the HST, that performance penalty exceeds the margin that can be carried, you can't enter properly in that failure mode, and you die. This is more dangerous. :(

Advice: restrain your use of the word 'bogus' until you have made sure you know what you are talking about. [-X Otherwise, your critique was pretty rational and fair-worded.

JimO
2004-Mar-25, 05:40 PM
So to me, the real risk is launching the shuttle, whether you are heading to the ISS or the Hubble. If its too risky to go to the Hubble, its too risky going to the ISS.

You must always balance risks against countermeasures. Going to ISS provides a wide array of countermeasures that going to Hubble does not.

Lifeboat mode is one of them, and has been extensively documented so I'm surprised some posters here appear unaware of it. NASA has said it will have a backup shuttle mission -- called STS-300 for planning purposes -- on track for launch soon enough after the first return-to-flight to get the crew off ISS before ISS supplies run out -- within at most two months or so. This has been well advertised.

I think the mission phase of launch and rendezvous is indeed not VERY different for either mission, although HST is measurably more hazardous. It's in the absence of countermeasures to very MANY failure modes, that you'd have on an ISS mission but not on an HST mission, that makes the most powerful quantitative argument.

Please, read O'Keefe's entire white paper. It's linked from my article.

Kaptain K
2004-Mar-25, 05:56 PM
Yeah, let's crawl back to our safe comfy planet and cower down, hoping some roving asteroid doesn't put us out of our misery before we manage to do it ourselves. Space is dangerous. As long as we continue to go into space, people will die doing so. The only way to prevent it is to quit going into space. Have we come to this? :o

ToSeek
2004-Mar-25, 07:55 PM
Please, read O'Keefe's entire white paper. It's linked from my article.

The problem that I have with O'Keefe's paper is that he takes a recommendation in addition to the CAIB's recommendation (that of a safe haven), decides that it's an absolute necessity, and then uses it to beat the HST servicing mission to a pulp.

I understand that circumstances have changed, but I still find it bizarre that shuttle missions that were once routine are now considered too risky to even consider.

Agreed that there's a lot of CYA going on here. What I would really like to see is the president going into a private room in the White House with the astronauts likely to do the servicing mission and tell them, "If you don't feel comfortable flying this mission, tell me, and I will take the personal responsibility to cancel it." But I don't see that happening.

Jim, my use of the term "bogus" was expressed by my own understanding of the circumstances as a NASA insider though obviously not one so well-versed as you. I stand corrected and apologize for any overstatements. Still, I would be interested in seeing any sort of numeric estimates for the difference in risk between an ISS mission and a shuttle mission, because I believe they would be small.

JimO
2004-Mar-25, 08:30 PM
Yeah, let's crawl back to our safe comfy planet and cower down, hoping some roving asteroid doesn't put us out of our misery before we manage to do it ourselves. Space is dangerous. As long as we continue to go into space, people will die doing so. The only way to prevent it is to quit going into space. Have we come to this? :o

Did you get any clue from my article -- or any of the other >million words I've put into print over the past 30 years, that I remotely argue that?

Or are you just spouting off in frustration and I'm a handy target?

JimO
2004-Mar-25, 08:37 PM
I understand that circumstances have changed, but I still find it bizarre that shuttle missions that were once routine are now considered too risky to even consider.

By no means is it 'bizarre' that when NASA looked more strenuously at missions it had flown, and was considering flying, it discovered a LOT of hazards it didn't know were there. The speedbrake hardware is exactly such an example. There have been others, and will be more.

And you clearly exaggerate unfairly that such missions are 'too risky to even consider'. They ARE considered, as are all missions, only this time -- for the first time in a LONG time -- the risks are being properly and fully assessed.

We will take greater risks with new spaceships and new missions, and will do so with open eyes. Assessing risks with less-than-fully-open eyes has lamentable consequences, especially in cases where the disastrous results were avoidable.

Do you believe that the Challenger disaster was avoidable, and that the Columbia disaster was avoidable? If you say 'yes', then you have to agree that BETTER safety assessment is needed. If you say 'no', that these losses were unavoidable consequences of the difficulty of space flight, you have written a blank check for incompetence for every future space worker and manager.

JimO
2004-Mar-25, 08:42 PM
What I would really like to see is the president going into a private room in the White House with the astronauts likely to do the servicing mission and tell them, "If you don't feel comfortable flying this mission, tell me, and I will take the personal responsibility to cancel it." But I don't see that happening.

NEVER.

JAMAIS.

NIKOGDA.

NIEMALS.

NUNCA.

(you get the picture?)

You NEVER ask an astronaut if they are willing to 'take the risk', because they are psychologically unfit to make a rational judgment.

People who understand risk assessment must make those decisions, openly, and of course astronauts would have the opportunity to back out.

But it is utterly inconceivable to me, with my personal knowledge of many of these admirable people, that they are ever prepared to NOT want to go. I'm glad they exist, and I don't want them to die needlessly in preventable accidents. But they are not authorities on safety strategies.

George
2004-Mar-25, 10:20 PM
Do you believe that the Challenger disaster was avoidable, and that the Columbia disaster was avoidable? If you say 'yes', then you have to agree that BETTER safety assessment is needed. If you say 'no', that these losses were unavoidable consequences of the difficulty of space flight, you have written a blank check for incompetence for every future space worker and manager.

Who would say 'no' to "was it avoidable?". WWII was avoidable. The safe bet is always more safety. If there were no loss of life and a new safety director obtained similar safety research, would there be the same delay in a shuttle launch? Emotions and politics can magnetize a normal attitude pendulum and it appears to have swung further than necessary, IMO. Certainly much is justified but is it not too much? Safety itself is not the question, as much as, how much safety and at what expense in time and advancement. Risk assessment without the magnetism.

I like to hear specifics on design flaws. The foam separation seems to be fixable as the "hair net" seemed to be a good idea but too expensive as an alternative seems to be better. Specifics might fill in the seams.

Also, can't the Shuttle itself be supplied with needed supplies by conventional rocket until it is either fixed or another Shuttle goes up?

Kaptain K
2004-Mar-26, 12:52 PM
Yeah, let's crawl back to our safe comfy planet and cower down, hoping some roving asteroid doesn't put us out of our misery before we manage to do it ourselves. Space is dangerous. As long as we continue to go into space, people will die doing so. The only way to prevent it is to quit going into space. Have we come to this? :o

Did you get any clue from my article -- or any of the other >million words I've put into print over the past 30 years, that I remotely argue that?

Or are you just spouting off in frustration and I'm a handy target?
1) My comments were not aimed specifically at you. If they were, the relevant part of your post would have been quoted.

2) Although I am frustrated, I was not "just spouting off". I have followed space flight since Sputnik I. I still have a vivid (black and white) image of Vangard I rising a few feet and falling back in flames.

My point was (and still is) that exploration is, was, and always will be, dangerous. Columbus did not return with all hands. Magellan did not survive his around the world trip (although his ship and some of the crew did). Marco Polo lost people. Lewis and Clark lost people. etc. etc. etc. We have become so risk averse that we refuse to let our explorers explore because they might get hurt (or even killed) and that would make us feel bad.

daver
2004-Mar-26, 06:45 PM
We have become so risk averse that we refuse to let our explorers explore because they might get hurt (or even killed) and that would make us feel bad.

Yes, it would, particularly if they died because NASA did something stupid. The shuttle is horrendously complicated, and it's pretty easy to do something stupid (like installing some gears backwards, or getting lax on safety waivers).

Right now the astronauts aren't explorers, they're truck drivers (driving hugely expensive trucks with somewhere around a 1% chance of the truck exploding on each trip). These trucks suck up billions of dollars every year.

George
2004-Mar-26, 09:09 PM
Right now the astronauts aren't explorers, they're truck drivers (driving hugely expensive trucks with somewhere around a 1% chance of the truck exploding on each trip). These trucks suck up billions of dollars every year.

Allow me to borrow and extend your analogy. About the time it takes me to type this up, someone in the US will die in an auto accident (43,000/year). Should the highway dep't. and auto engineers improve on safety? That's easy. Should they close the highways for a year saving 43,000 lives possibly? It wouldn't be just truck drivers who would get mad. People won't take the alternative as it stinks (sorry, accidental pun - horses). If WalMart was only in space, we might wait a whole week before going back, others a whole month, maybe. How necessary to society is shuttle activity? The public may not have that message and many politicians may find it expedient to eschew this needed public education.

Doing what is right is more needed than what is politically expedient. Give me secret meetings with the right engineers for the facts and I’ll bet I’ll go up. [I may still have my astronaut application from 11 years ago].

ToSeek
2004-Mar-30, 05:10 PM
Using ISS as a "safe haven" isn't a cakewalk: Rescue mission challenges NASA: Agency finds project easier said than done (http://www.floridatoday.com/news/space/stories/2004a/033004rescue.htm)

daver
2004-Mar-30, 05:29 PM
Using ISS as a "safe haven" isn't a cakewalk: Rescue mission challenges NASA: Agency finds project easier said than done (http://www.floridatoday.com/news/space/stories/2004a/033004rescue.htm)

Stocking the station with more supplies seems like an obvious step.

Again (and again--this seems so obvious to me) it would help if the shuttle had an autoland.

The possibility of using Soyuz to offload astronauts was discarded. I assume they've checked with the Russians about the possibility of having a few Soyuz capsules and boosters on hand so a piecemeal rescue effort can be mounted; unfortunately the article didn't mention why this wasn't a possibility. Someone needs to lobby for an exception so that NASA could pay the Russians for rescue flights.

ToSeek
2004-Apr-12, 04:14 PM
Hubble Servicing: Robot to the Rescue? (http://skyandtelescope.com/news/article_1233_1.asp)

George
2004-Apr-12, 10:18 PM
Hubble Servicing: Robot to the Rescue? (http://skyandtelescope.com/news/article_1233_1.asp)


... The latest NASA budget doesn't include money for any more Hubble repairs, though it does provide $300 million for a robotic mission to attach a retrorocket to the telescope before it burns up in the atmosphere early in the next decade. The booster would steer Hubble harmlessly into the ocean, avoiding the danger of an uncontrolled reentry that might spread debris over populated areas...

They might as well do both now.

Besides, if all else fails, they can flame it as planned into the ocean. :cry: Too bad they won't use it at the new moon base.