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View Full Version : why all this talk of "grounding" the shuttle fleet



novaderrik
2005-Jul-27, 06:55 PM
why not keep it going, and build new design shuttles using as much of the existing hardware as possible- external tank, boosters, launch facilities, etc.? keep flying the existing shuttle alongside the replacements, and phase them out as there are replacements available?
now, i know you can't just slap together a new design overnight and would need to allocate as many resources to the task as possible, but why waste what we already have? after all, the US has BILLIONS of $$$ in each of the remaining orbiters- and they are already built- so why throw them away without any replacement?
i don't care what anyone says- the shuttle launch system is one of the greatest things we ever did as a country, and even tho it isn't nearly perfect, it is a good jumping off point for new designs. i mean, the only spacecraft in the world with ANY re-usable parts in addition to the people inside is a cool thing.

is the US trying to get out of the manned space travel industry, and "outsourcing" it overseas like everything else?

Eric McLoughlin
2005-Jul-27, 07:18 PM
Beacuse it doesn't work very well., is far more costly to operate than envisaged and is downright dangerous.

NASA needs to go back to a simpler, more reliable system for getting their astronauts into space.

ToSeek
2005-Jul-27, 07:42 PM
I think the shuttle may be the worst single mistake NASA has ever made. It was supposed to provide cheap, safe, reliable access to space but proved to be a failure on all counts. The sooner NASA gets rid of it and instead develops a truly efficient way of getting man and materials into orbit, the better.

Jpax2003
2005-Jul-27, 07:48 PM
I think the old saying "throwing good money after bad" is especially apt here.

publiusr
2005-Jul-27, 08:31 PM
Griffin does want to keep the shuttle architecture for HLLV--minus the orbiter. The spaceflight spaceplane community doesn't like it--so they lash out at HLLV. When Griffin tried to cut the aero out of aerospace--which he was right in doing--the spaceplane people balked.

That should be DARPA or Rutan territory--but instead of going along with Griffin's leadership--he has been fought by every petty parochialist who stands to get his Goldin-era smack-supply cut.

Its just the DTs.

They'll get over it.

I would still rather fly the orbiter down than Soyuz myself.

Eric McLoughlin
2005-Jul-27, 10:49 PM
The fleet is now grounded.

Davros
2005-Jul-27, 11:04 PM
The fleet is now grounded.

What do you mean? I've not seen any suggestion that they're not going ahead with the next launch, they haven't finished collecting data from the current one, let alone study it and determine any safety concerns.

Davros
2005-Jul-27, 11:10 PM
Ok. Ignore me, I've just read the article on the MSNBC website.
Any news on when they'll likely try another launch?

Van Rijn
2005-Jul-27, 11:11 PM
*sigh*

See:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8720825/

Eric McLoughlin
2005-Jul-27, 11:13 PM
I would haxard a guess that this could very well be the end of the Shuttle. After two years of "fixing" the problem, NASA discovers it hasn't fixed it at all.

Or perhaps they could go back to painting the tank, like they used to.

johnwitts
2005-Jul-27, 11:37 PM
Did I read somewhere that the formulation of the foam was changed at some point because it origionally used CFC's? Can anyone else back me up on this?

frogesque
2005-Jul-28, 12:03 AM
BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4723109.stm)


...

Video and still images show that foam came away from the Pal ramp and bipod areas of the shuttle's external tank.

Shuttle programme manager Bill Parsons said the debris did not hit the orbiter and posed no threat to the crew.

"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," he said.

"I am personally disappointed that this happened, but it didn't harm the orbiter and we learned something."

...

R.A.F.
2005-Jul-28, 12:17 AM
"Until we fix this, we're not ready to go fly again," he said.

Jim Oberg was just on MSNBC and said that he didn't expect the Shuttle to fly again until the end of this year, perhaps not until the middle of next year.

Sad news indeed!

Maksutov
2005-Jul-28, 02:10 AM
Did I read somewhere that the formulation of the foam was changed at some point because it origionally used CFC's? Can anyone else back me up on this?
Pretty well-known fact.

Here's the NASA fact sheet. (http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/63758main_TPS_FACT_SHEET.pdf)
Here's an article that documents some of the effects. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,77832,00.html)

BTW, when I was watching the Discovery/Science Channel special about the return to flight back in May, on the day that the flight was canceled due to ET problems, I took special notice of the "improvements" made at the Michoud ET manufacturing facility. One of the Michoud managers was gloating about how foam application methods had been "improved". As he and the reporter watched, a worker demonstrated the "improved" method: some sort of change to the way the foam was sprayed on by hand.

Putting on my QA hat, the hair on the back of my neck did its thing. The instructions for putting on the foam may have changed, but it was the same worker-intensive process, subject to all the variability as before. An unmeasured change in distance to the tank, incomplete depression of the applicator trigger, fluctuations in line pressure, one moment of lack of attention by the worker, all these process variables had not been eliminated. Instead, the manager seemed tickled he could still ride herd over his workers.

Apparently no one at Michoud or NASA had ever heard of Deming's red bead experiment. (http://www.maaw.info/DemingsRedbeads.htm) If they had, they had either forgotten about it or ignored it, the latter being currently prevalent in American industry.

At that point in the show I became convinced that no real improvement to the foam application process had been made. Somewhere I've got a note I made at the time re "foam process = unimproved".

From a long time ago, I also recall something about the SRB field joint putty being replaced since the original contained some asbestos. The new putty wasn't as effective in cold temperatures. This was back in the middle 1980s.

Jpax2003
2005-Jul-28, 04:33 AM
Maybe they should go back to painting the external fuel tank. So it's more expensive and makes the tank that much heavier but perhaps it would keep the foam from coming off. Alternatively, they could only paint the side near the shuttle or perhaps apply paint in a square or hex grid or checker pattern to try to keep any falling pieces smaller. Have they tried using a strong lightweight netting over the foam? Ya know, like nylon stockings?

Sticks
2005-Jul-28, 05:37 AM
Why have manned space flights any way?

Unmanned missions are far more cheaper and as the robot missions to the outer planets, you can get far more science done.

kucharek
2005-Jul-28, 05:43 AM
Manned spaceflight can't be justified only by science. Its about exploration and the human desire to go where no one has gone before.

Van Rijn
2005-Jul-28, 05:50 AM
Why have manned space flights any way?

Unmanned missions are far more cheaper and as the robot missions to the outer planets, you can get far more science done.

Because it isn't just about the science. Sure, you can get rid of the manned missions - and at least 95% of NASA funding will melt away at the same time. I'd be amazed if you could do anywhere near as much science with a "robot only" policy. And honestly, as much as I love space, if I thought we were turning away from actually going out there ourselves, I would give away my telescope, I wouldn't look at another astronomy article again, and I wouldn't want to see anything from any space probe - it would just be too painful. Space must be our future, or we have no future.

Having said that, I don't think NASA alone is going much further than it has already gone. There is a place for a government space program. But a government only space effort is doomed to bureaucratic stasis.

Jpax2003
2005-Jul-28, 06:39 AM
Why have manned space flights any way?

Unmanned missions are far more cheaper and as the robot missions to the outer planets, you can get far more science done.

Good point. We could all stop eating regular food and only eat government made starch, protein, and fiber capsules. We could all let the government match us with reproductive mates based on a balance of traits for mediocrity with the occasional intentional genius and the numerous lower intelligences for menial labor. You may not even meet your spouse, but only see that person as a deposit number on your bank account as the government automatically even's your incomes out. Then when the time is right you see a clinic that harvests your gametes and produces an embryo to be placed in the wife or a suitable surrogate if the wife is too important to be off-job or whose health is non-optimax for pregnancy. While we may not have art, we would all probably have the same colorful mass-produced decorations that are designed to instill a sense of calm and contentedness, as applicable to your career-path. If you create your own art it would be confiscated and appraised for worth and either mass produced and distributed to the those capable of interpreting it the proper way for emotion-modulation based on their class and careerpath or it is destroyed as suboptimal and recycled. More likely it is warehoused in case a need arises, such as preventing strife by artyr martyrs and the occasional malcontents by proving that the government did not destroy it but maintains it is precious but of no current practical value and suggests that the creator is merely before or after his time.

Going along like this with processed long-shelf-life foods we could feed the world and everyone would get along and be happy... until the comet hits.

Sticks
2005-Jul-28, 09:30 AM
I like seeing these pictures as much as the next person, but there are certain unpleasant realities, such as money and buget constraints and other spending priorities.

I once heard that when they once sent a shuttle mission to repair a satellite (Solar MAX?), someone pointed out that it would have been cheaper to use an unmanned rocket and send up a replacement. Which does kind of bring home the economics of the shuttle, which you may recall came in well over budget.

Although they come from separate budgets, when someone is in pain because their hip operation has been cancelled yet again and the consultant told to go and play golf until April, the start of the next financial year (happened here in the UK!!!), and they see the enormous cost of manned flight compared to unmanned flight, they might see things differently.

Health care budgets may be separate, but the political reality is that these people will vote to deal with "bread and butter issues", lower down on Maslow's hiarachy of needs rather than the essoteric "need to explore" that you and I may care about.

The one way I can see to justify having a space programme is to cut cost as much as possible so we can be seen to be delivering value for money. Stuff you get from the unmanned robotic probes, which even the proponents of manned space flights must admit have been remarkable.

As for the turning in the telescope argument. Even with what we have now, the chance of going anywhere is slim. All the wonderful stuff out there is unimaginabley far away from us. Even in our own solar system it takes years to get a robotic probe to our nearest neighbours.

And what of those astronomers before the space race, when space travel was dismissed as fantasy, did they give up because it was thought that no one could not even visit the moon?

Much as I would like to see bases on the moon and Mars, the economic and political climate mitagate agianst this. Even the cost of a Mars Rover was condemmed as a colossal waste of public money at only $58m. (Did not Kevin Costner's Water World cost $100m? :roll: )

johnwitts
2005-Jul-28, 10:03 AM
It's got little to do with value for money. It's about doing something cool.

Eric McLoughlin
2005-Jul-28, 11:04 AM
Politicians DECIDE whether something is economically worthwhile or not. What they chose to spend OUR money on is not down to economics but political realities. For the past 30 odd years, expenditure on space has been a low priority for politicians. That could change depending on internatioanl rivalries etc.

They find the money for wars with no problems.

Cugel
2005-Jul-28, 11:13 AM
Isn't manned spaceflight simply a political tool? (Above anything else).

I mean, it is a great way of redistributing taxpayers money to the shareholders (and employees) of the aerospace industry. The mechanism is very simple: they sponsor the campaign for a president candidate, effectively putting him in office, and in return the guy will walk into NASA-HQ one day, put up his most philosophical looks (not easy) and while staring in the distance will mutter something like "I have a vision...".
Hurray! Another 25 years of a guaranteed moneyflow to the Boeings and Lockheeds..... And the best part about this is that it doesn't seem to matter how big a mess you make of it. Just look at the shuttle: its unsafe, expensive and doesn't go anywhere. Yet, the public is happy with it for 25 years. Just put up a few sexy astronauts in space (doing cool things, like mixing urine with paint) and keep everybody smiling.

Moose
2005-Jul-28, 11:50 AM
Isn't manned spaceflight simply a political tool? (Above anything else).

As it is practiced today, yes, absolutely.

As it should be practiced, no. It's an investment we simply have to make for our long term survival. Who was it who said "Earth is much too fragile a basket to keep all of our eggs."?

Eric McLoughlin
2005-Jul-28, 11:57 AM
And Frank Borman once described manned spaceflight as "technological life insurance".

skrap1r0n
2005-Jul-28, 01:48 PM
I can honestly say I am not sad the fleet is grounded. I believe however that we DO need a presence in space. It's a very cool thing to do. As far as the shuttle goes, they need to quit trying to fix the shuttle and hit the drawing boards again.

Right now, we would be better off using disposable capsules as opposed to trying to repair the shuttle. The cost of the shuttle doesn't justify it's purpose.

Kizarvexis
2005-Jul-28, 02:33 PM
Ok, didn't the robot missions to the Moon bring back just a few pounds of moon random dust and peebles?

Didn't the geologist (I forgot his name, wasn't it Cernan?) on Apollo 17 find the specific rock that was needed to prove the theory that the Moon and the Earth were both one at sometime in the past billions of years ago. Didn't the manned missions bring back hundreds of pounds of rocks of the specific types that the geologists wanted to test their theories on the formation of the Moon?

Also, what about the amount of minerals in the asteroid belt. It is estimated that there are billions of dollars worth of metals in the asteroid belt for every living person on the Earth. Granted that much metal being produced would reduce prices, but that it a resource of many multiple lifetimes.

Not to mention this quote from the Babylon 5 episode "Infection". (The station had been attacked by a alien device and Sinclair is the station commander.)


Reporter: "After all that you've just gone through, I have to ask you the same question a lot of people back home are asking about space these days. Is it worth it? Should we just pull back, forget the whole thing as a bad idea, and take care of our own problems, at home?"

Sinclair: "No. We have to stay here, and there's a simple reason why. Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics - and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us, it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the stars."


Well, it is expected to be 5 million years for the Sun to go out, but you get the picture. Not to mention, how many people think that in the far off future that we will have spacecraft flying around in space like you see in Sci-Fi. Well, if we don't start the baby steps and research how we can live in space that won't happen.

I vote for manned missions.

Kizarvexis

shash
2005-Jul-28, 02:50 PM
In terms of the returns, I think we shouldn't judge manned space travel by pure economics. There are several other things that are returned by the fact that we have people going up into space.

First, (and this was pointed ou by BA in the last radio show, that's posted above this thread), there's the incalculable impression made by space launches on budding scientists, engineers and others - the "hero syndrome", as I call it. Many of us became interested in science or engineering because of the effect of growing up learning about manned space flight. Even today, I find myself fascinated and encouraged by the fact that human ingenuity is such that we have put men in space, even upto the moon, and brought them back. This is probably the most valuable return of the manned space programs, and something that cannot be pegged down in terms of the bottom line.

Next, consider the vast number of terrestrial technologies that were seeded by the requirement of the space program - fuel cells, solar power and different fuels just to name a few. I would contend that if it were not for manned missions, the impetus for such development would have been much less, and we many still not have many of the advances that have made our lives easier or safer over the years.

Another point I think should be addressed is the human touch. As an illustration, look at the reflectors placed by the Apollo missions and the Russian robotic missions on the moon. The Russian ones were not placed perfectly, which makes them less usable, while the American reflectors, placed there by the Apollo astronauts, are functional to this day. Sometimes, it is the human hand that is need at close proximity, to perform many tasks. Especially if you consider the distance and time delay factors involved, it becomes all the more useful to have the experimenter at close hand, in case something goes wrong.

Finally, when there is a human being on a mission, it becomes all the more crucial, as life is precious, especially the life of a trained astronaut. Great care is taken to ensure that nothing goes wrong in a manned mission - indeed, greater care than with the average run of unmanned missions. Considering the number of missions flown, I think the fatalities of manned exploration are only statistically below what might be the average.

In any case, pioneering requires pioneers, and those pioneers, at least until we create true AIs, must necessarily be human. And that is why we need to have manned exploration as far as possible.

erisi236
2005-Jul-28, 03:44 PM
NASA probably should ditch the shuttle, it's done pretty much all it can do. It's time for private interests to take over LEO flights, whille NASA starts to crank up it's Moon and Mars landing programs, think big! =D>

NEOWatcher
2005-Jul-28, 04:30 PM
NASA probably should ditch the shuttle, it's done pretty much all it can do. It's time for private interests to take over LEO flights, whille NASA starts to crank up it's Moon and Mars landing programs, think big! =D>
Let's go back to the vehicle for the job. The shuttle was a good idea, but it fell short in many respects. Much like a Swiss Army knife. Yes, it does many things, but the individual tool is much more effecient.

Sticks
2005-Jul-28, 04:39 PM
NASA probably should ditch the shuttle, it's done pretty much all it can do. It's time for private interests to take over LEO flights, whille NASA starts to crank up it's Moon and Mars landing programs, think big! =D>

And NASA will get the funding for this?

at the end of the day, no matter what eloquent arguments that are put forward. It comes down to money.

NASA like any body is accountable, and "value for money" will not be ignored by the auditors And with some auditors to paraphrase GBS, "An auditor is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing"

If we want any space programme, then we have to go smaller and cheaper, to satisfy the auditors. Personed spaceflight has great difficulty doing this. :(

Nicolas
2005-Jul-28, 05:01 PM
Well, it is expected to be 5 million years for the Sun to go out, but you get the picture.Kizarvexis

Billion :)

publiusr
2005-Jul-28, 06:18 PM
If we want any space programme, then we have to go smaller and cheaper, to satisfy the auditors. Personed spaceflight has great difficulty doing this.

That simply isn't so. We tried that smaller, better, cheaper nonsense--and the result was Goldin era stagnation that soured people on NASA in general--unlike the heady days of Apollo. As I have explained here before--the top selling--very marketable--R-7 Soyuz launch vehicle that Korolov meant to carry humans in space is what the new ROBOTIC Venus mission is going to be riding. (He just sold it as a big ICBM--it was a dedicated space booster for humans)

That R-7 can carry two more tons to LEO than the latest Delta II model that put those two bomb-disposal droids on Mars.

It only looks like they are so great because that's all we can do without pushing forward. If you were to replace Bob Bakker with Spirit--it wouldn't find dino-bone one--and therefore would not be doing good science. We are just amazed that two little delayed action limited autonomy battlebots can send back pictures for so long.

They can't use a pickaxe--climb a ravine, etc.

You would actually be making a better arguement for unmanned fighter planes replacing pilots than in space robotics that are limited.

Without manned spaceflight pushing vehicles along--you don't get real progress. The same HLLV that puts humans on the Moon or Mars is perfect for Solar foci scopes that wouldn't otherwise have a ride and automated Europa landers that will have to burn their way down, melt a hole--and deploy cryobots about the same size as Spirit.

Delta II cannot do this.

The US now relies on Soviet launch infrastructure due in part to the all-political space firsts that only seemed to be an extravagance at the time.

The thinking of the Eisenhower dullards was that the Russians were 'wasting' money on space firsts while American rockets were 'leaner and meaner.'

Our warheads were smaller than theirs, and so we didn't build our rockets large. Then the comsat market took off and all those big Russian rockets found a use as the microcircuitry revolution wound up making space-based assets LARGER--not smaller. As electronics on the ground progressed without having to be space rated--space based electronics lagged behind--and less money was spent on them. Our old vehicles were stretched beyond sense--and by the time the Air Force fielded its first big non-ICBM boosters--the EELVs that were the only all-liquid non-Saturn LVs that could equal the Russian boosters--it was too late.

The Russian R-7 and UR-500 Protons (that launched Soyuz to LEO and a rump Soyuz/ZOND to a circumlunar mission respectively) had glutted the LV market. The wasteful political stunt that gave us Gagarin gave Russia a good selling stable of boosters used for automated craft that are now its bread and butter--so I'd hardly call it wasteful or "expensive." What is expensive is our reliance on them for having the lack of vision I see on this board.

The faster better nonsense has never worked. Remember--all the military types wanted was a quick and dirty missile like Minutman III--or TOPOL M or Volna :wink:

And we just saw what that got us--didn't we? =D>

Jpax2003
2005-Jul-28, 08:53 PM
If we want any space programme, then we have to go smaller and cheaper, to satisfy the auditors. Personed spaceflight has great difficulty doing this. :(

Why go smaller and cheaper when you can go bigger and cheaper?

frenat
2005-Jul-28, 09:03 PM
Well, it is expected to be 5 million years for the Sun to go out, but you get the picture.Kizarvexis

Billion :)

Whew!!! I thought you meant million!! :o

novaderrik
2005-Jul-29, 08:35 AM
why does everyone say the shuttle is "dangerous"?
of course it's dangerous- anytime you strap yourself into a chair in a 200,000 pound glider strapped to a few million pounds of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that is strapped between 2 huge rockets that can't be shut off once ignited, i think there is danger involved...
it has a less than 2% failure rate- for what it is CAPABLE of doing, i'd call that a pretty good success/failure ratio.
not that it has really ever been truly used to it's full poterntial, however.
plus, the shuttle just LOOKS cooler than a Saturn V ever coould- it is shaped like an airplane, and it goes to space and comes back (usually) in one piece, and lands just like the airplanes everybody sees at the airport.
it makes space travel REAL to mosty people. i know that as a 6 year old kid back in '81, watching that first launch made space flight REAL to me.
yes, it's expensive- but for what it is and what it does, i personally don't think it's THAT expensive.
we practically spend more everyday in Iraq than it would cost to build replacements for both Columbia and Challenger, so i for one won't complain about the costs.

Jpax2003
2005-Jul-29, 08:57 AM
It looks cool. That must be the epitome of the phrase "superficiality over substance" as we have spend billions on this white elephant. I, for one, would prefer to spend it on a one trick pony that gets it right.

Sure I mix metaphors, for as much money as we spent, I think I'm allowed.

Launch window
2005-Jul-29, 09:22 AM
Don't be shocked by this recent turn of events. Shuttle safety panels always could see where NASA was going, remember Armstrong and Roger's report on Challenger's tank and how the Russians were already becoming dominant in manned Space light with MIR and how ESA's Space robotics had improved and NASA customers had already defected to French Guiana and communist China was building its own programs. The task force established to monitor the agency's safety improvements after the 2003 disaster concluded in June that the agency "did not meet" the requirement of a team of accident investigators. The sad fact is people will die in space this is a fact, we all knew that from the beginning but Shuttle has taken many lives and its finally time to build some as safe, cost-effective and reliable as the Apollo or other manned designs by people like Russians.

NASA's Shuttle return is costing billions, when you redesign something, you introduce more sources of problems. NASA was warned about the current Shuttle events, people knew it was going to happen. Back then in 1986 the writing was on the wall, Chinese are now growing very fast, ESA are sending unmanned craft to Venus plus Mars while the Russians will be launching Soyuz from Europe's pad. They say NASA can not fly the 28 trips needed to finish the science on the ISS and Hubble repair is out, but will Shuttle even be making its 15 missions ? It had been reported that back in 2003 the Columbia sat on the launch pad for some 6 weeks, 4 times longer than normal, and Florida had the most-wet Dec in 50 years. For a long time after Columbia broke up and became a fireball over Texas and all the investigations were done, there was still three of the 15 recommendations NASA had to complete for a safe space Shuttle. The task force established told NASA to eliminate debris shedding and noted pointedly that the external fuel tank, attached by metal struts to the shuttle during its launch still sheds debris that could potentially cripple an orbiter.

Kizarvexis
2005-Jul-29, 11:54 AM
Well, it is expected to be 5 million years for the Sun to go out, but you get the picture.Kizarvexis

Billion :)

Oops :oops: :)

Million, billion, it's still a LOT of time and we should get started on going out before something a lot closer (in time) gets us, like a BIG rock.

Kizarvexis

Glom
2005-Jul-29, 05:00 PM
The biggest mistake would be to write off the entire space vehicle right now and lose any heavy lift capability. The Space Shuttle is a hugely powerful booster. It's problem is that it has too much dead weight. Replace the front bit of the orbiter with some useful payload, like a large dry station (and once you remove the control surfaces and TPS, you could probably get a dry S-IVB on there commonly referred to as Skylab) and you can really get somewhere with building a space station rather than doing it tiny bit by tiny bit, which is a logistical nightmare.

Even better, how about a wet and dry station? The ET could be outfitted later on.

Jorge
2005-Jul-29, 08:07 PM
take orbiter of, place it of groud and ram some big object on it...

once that is done, we can atache like glom said other to the ET+SRB package

kucharek
2005-Aug-04, 05:21 AM
BTW, when I was watching the Discovery/Science Channel special about the return to flight back in May, on the day that the flight was canceled due to ET problems, I took special notice of the "improvements" made at the Michoud ET manufacturing facility. One of the Michoud managers was gloating about how foam application methods had been "improved". As he and the reporter watched, a worker demonstrated the "improved" method: some sort of change to the way the foam was sprayed on by hand.

Putting on my QA hat, the hair on the back of my neck did its thing. The instructions for putting on the foam may have changed, but it was the same worker-intensive process, subject to all the variability as before. An unmeasured change in distance to the tank, incomplete depression of the applicator trigger, fluctuations in line pressure, one moment of lack of attention by the worker, all these process variables had not been eliminated. Instead, the manager seemed tickled he could still ride herd over his workers.

Hi Mak,
you should read this (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/04/science/space/04foam.html). (Registration required)

An internal NASA report last December warned of deficiencies in the way insulating foam was being applied to sections of the fuel tank to be used on the shuttle Discovery's current mission.
[..]
The December 2004 report, ..., said it was obvious that Lockheed's external tank engineers "did not do a thorough job" of identifying the quirks and variations that can occur when foam is applied by hand.

Harald

Ara Pacis
2005-Aug-04, 06:16 AM
An internal NASA report last December warned of deficiencies in the way insulating foam was being applied to sections of the fuel tank to be used on the shuttle Discovery's current mission.
[..]
The December 2004 report, ..., said it was obvious that Lockheed's external tank engineers "did not do a thorough job" of identifying the quirks and variations that can occur when foam is applied by hand.

Harald

Anyone who has ever shaved their face should know that. :D

NEOWatcher
2005-Aug-04, 04:25 PM
Hey, I think I'm uncovering another cover up.

According to this article (http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/08/04/shuttle.earth.environment.reut/index.html) "astronauts on shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and..."

We can't have reports of environmental destructions, it's going to hurt the economy. So let's keep the astronauts away from earth by sending them farther (Moon, Mars). And discredit the shuttle so we can get rid of human orbits.
Now, since no-one is seeing the environmental impact, there's no need to do anything about it.

Launch window
2006-Jan-23, 04:58 PM
Shuttle a deathtrap, says astronaut
Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday January 22, 2006
The Observer
Shuttle a deathtrap,
One of America's most experienced astronauts has denounced the space shuttle as a deathtrap and accused US space officials of stifling all concerns raised about its safety.
The revelation comes as America prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. Seven astronauts were killed on 28 January 1986, when their shuttle exploded 73 seconds after take-off.
Veteran astronaut Mike Mullane's outburst therefore comes at a deeply embarrassing time for the Nasa. Apart from dealing with the Challenger anniversary, it is now struggling to save its remaining space shuttles so they can complete the international space station.
However, all three - Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour - are still grounded because engineers have not yet fixed insulation problems that doomed Challenger's sister craft, Columbia, in 2003. 'It's the most dangerous manned spacecraft ever flown,' said Mullane, who took part on three shuttle missions before retiring in 1990. 'It has no powered-flight escape system... Basically the bail-out system we have on the shuttle is the same bail-out system a B-17 bomber pilot had in World War II.'
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1692139,00.html
It was this lack of ejector seats that ensured the deaths of Challenger's astronauts. Such a powered escape system could have blasted them from their stricken ship and saved them.
'That was the true tragedy of Challenger. Nothing was learnt. Only janitors and cafeteria workers at Nasa were blameless in the deaths of the Challenger seven,' said Mullane. 'Columbia was a repeat of Challenger, where people had a known design problem and launched anyway.' Mullane added that astronauts deserved some share of responsibility for not pursuing safety issues more doggedly.

Rocketaholic
2006-Jan-24, 04:37 PM
The speed and velocity that the craft was going at the time of the breakup with Challenger would have made it highly impossible as it was with any type of safety system.

The two incidents (Challenger and Columbia) were due to complacency. Everyone involved with any part of the program takes personal blame. Identifying the errors, correcting them and continuing with the program is what those who believe in it, want to do. Right now the three Shuttles right now are about the only crafts that can complete the ISS at the present time.

The Astronauts do take responsibility and they are all very aware of the risks involved with the program. I believe in it, and I would glady go on the next mission myself. Well aware of the risks.

The Unmanned systems do have a purposes just as well as human exploration does. Both programs compliment one another.

mantiss
2006-Jan-24, 06:42 PM
For Challenger, an escape system would have had to withstand the tremendous blast of the Liquid Hydrogen Tank and still be able to automate release. I am sure those astronauts not instantly killed in the explosion most likely we're not conscious for long because of depressurisation etc.

As for Columbia, I don't think anything could have been done at that speed, short of having the whole front cabin detachable as an escape system. In the design of the shuttle it's just not feasible.

I still think the early Hermes design the ESA had put out, with the spaceplane atop an Ariane-5 rocket was the best idea: nothing to smash onto you from above, allows an apollo type escape rocket in case of launch pad aborts/disaster, and you could, theoritically survive the Ariane-5 blast while ascending and have more than a 0% chance of making it out.

Of course hingsight is always 20/20.

joema
2006-Jan-24, 10:25 PM
For Challenger, an escape system would have had to withstand the tremendous blast of the Liquid Hydrogen Tank and still be able to automate release. I am sure those astronauts not instantly killed in the explosion most likely we're not conscious for long because of depressurisation etc...
Challenger was probably within the ejection envelope of ejection seats. In fact the first four shuttle missions had modified SR-71 ejection seats that would work up to 100,000 ft and Mach 3. For those four flights, the two crewmembers wore full pressure suits, obviously a requirement for high altitude ejection. Later shuttle crews only wore cloth coveralls. After Challenger they again begin wearing pressure suits (of a different type).

They were removed partially to save weight and space, also there is no easy way to eject the lower deck astronauts.

There are possible issues with ejection seats clearing the SRB exhaust plume, but just as an ejecting fighter pilot must clear the tail, it seems solvable.

The Challenger astronauts were almost certainly conscious for several seconds after the disintegration. Three of four flight deck astronauts apparently turned on their emergency air supply. They'd have been conscious long enough to pull an ejection handle, had it existed.

Despite appearances, there was no "tremendous blast" from the external tank. It was merely a rapidly expanding, non-explosive cloud. However you're right with any violent upset, there's always some doubt an ejection seat will function properly. But fighter pilots have ejected safely many times from disintegrating aircraft similar to the Challenger break-up.

If all severn Challenger astronauts had the same equipment as the two-crew first four flights, it's plausible (but not certain) they could have ejected and possibly survived.

mantiss
2006-Jan-25, 02:55 PM
If all (sic)severn Challenger astronauts had the same equipment as the two-crew first four flights, it's plausible (but not certain) they could have ejected and possibly survived.

Yes, had the right steps been taken, it is quite plausible some of them might have made it alive. I was unaware that three of them had enabled the emergency air supply system, I heard of only one... Makes it even more tragic, as you point out they HAD reaction time before depressurisation took over.