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Doodler
2003-Feb-01, 03:15 PM
Hey everyone, i was reading the other thread and it seemed it was becoming more a place for personal memorials, so I thought I would offer this one for any kind of discussion as to what happened at let the other one be for the eulogies..

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 03:23 PM
On 2003-02-01 10:15, Doodler wrote:
Hey everyone, i was reading the other thread and it seemed it was becoming more a place for personal memorials, so I thought I would offer this one for any kind of discussion as to what happened at let the other one be for the eulogies..


The only thing approaching an answer offered (and it is far, far too early at this stage to speculate) was that the Columbia's starboard wing (ventral side) was struck by a piece of foam-cored insulation from the main fuel tank on launch, and that this dislodged an unknown number of heat-resistant tiles.

It was thought that Columbia easily manage reentry without them, as a number are lost on every lanuch.

Clearly, if this is what occurred, then it could not.

Doodler
2003-Feb-01, 03:25 PM
Could the damage have caused a structural fault? If re-entry heat wasn't the cause, maybe the wing broke up.

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 03:27 PM
I think it's just too early yet to speculate. I think it's better to wait until we have some more detailed info.

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-01, 03:33 PM
We may never know for sure.

It's doubtful that there was any on-board instrumentation that could have detected the damage (during the mission), or reported the failure in real time (during reentry). Perhaps the orbiter was imaged from the ground at some point, to do a visual damage assessment, but so far I haven't seen any such images for this mission.

Even if anyone survived, they may have no idea what happened, or how it happened.

This may be one of those cases where the best we can do is an educated guess. If this turns out to be the case, who will be willing to okay the next launch?

Oh, my stomach hurts. This is just horrible.

Doodler
2003-Feb-01, 03:41 PM
I keep hearing it repeated that they had completed the re-entry burn at 400k feet. They were right about the tiles at least.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 03:45 PM
On 2003-02-01 10:33, Donnie B. wrote:
We may never know for sure.

It's doubtful that there was any on-board instrumentation that could have detected the damage (during the mission), or reported the failure in real time (during reentry). Perhaps the orbiter was imaged from the ground at some point, to do a visual damage assessment, but so far I haven't seen any such images for this mission.

Even if anyone survived, they may have no idea what happened, or how it happened.

This may be one of those cases where the best we can do is an educated guess. If this turns out to be the case, who will be willing to okay the next launch?

Oh, my stomach hurts. This is just horrible.



Strategically placed cameras throughout the launch facility monitor every second from pre-launch to departure; they'd have caught anything untoward that happened. Local news (I'm in Central Florida, so the Space Program is always a hot topic) reported first regarding the heat-tile dislodge.

Regarding saying "OK" on the launch...

The father of my church's pastor is a former director of flight operations at NASA (Gene Thomas) and was on duty the day Challenger exploded.

He said he beat himself up for months after the accident, until one day he just sat down and looked at all of the data that he had that day. Nothing that an investigation showed, no hindsight applied. He looked at everything he knew that day, and asked himself if he'd have have given the final OK for the mission.

Faced with everything that he knew at that time, he said : "Yes."

That is what any inquiry has to look at. No takebacks, no hindsight, none of it. At that time did it seem like a go situation? If the answer is "yes", then all a director, astronaut, technician, anyone can do is say "Go."

RafaelAustin
2003-Feb-01, 03:46 PM
I've heard that there aren't any 'black boxes' or recorders and everything would disintegrate anyway, but how much telemetry data is transmitted live during re-entry? Is there a radio blackout during re-entry that would intterupt the data?

g99
2003-Feb-01, 03:52 PM
I asked this on the other topic, but this seems to be more apropriate.

Did the shuttle come in early or later than it was supposed to? A steepper angle?

Was there a "Black (orange) box" on board? What was it set up to record? I know many of the new airplanes have many of them to record diferent things and for redundancy. Did it record audio, video, data or cmbination of all three?

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 04:10 PM
On 2003-02-01 10:52, g99 wrote:
I asked this on the other topic, but this seems to be more apropriate.

Did the shuttle come in early or later than it was supposed to? A steepper angle?

By all current accounts the reentry was "normal". But all the facts aren't in yet.



Was there a "Black (orange) box" on board? What was it set up to record? I know many of the new airplanes have many of them to record diferent things and for redundancy. Did it record audio, video, data or cmbination of all three?


No; all flight data recording is done via telemetry. Any recording device would've been burned up on a failed reentry, or utterly destroyed on impact with the ground.

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 04:16 PM
They showed a pre-flight interview with one of the astronauts on CNN a few minutes ago. He mentioned that this was going to be the heaviest shuttle re-entry ever.

I don't know if that would have anything to do with the disaster though.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 04:30 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:16, David Hall wrote:
They showed a pre-flight interview with one of the astronauts on CNN a few minutes ago. He mentioned that this was going to be the heaviest shuttle re-entry ever.

I don't know if that would have anything to do with the disaster though.



Did they say why? Were they carrying the science module, recovered satellites, or what?

James_Digriz
2003-Feb-01, 04:39 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:16, David Hall wrote:
They showed a pre-flight interview with one of the astronauts on CNN a few minutes ago. He mentioned that this was going to be the heaviest shuttle re-entry ever.

I don't know if that would have anything to do with the disaster though.



Need more info before we can say on that one. More weight always means more stresses but it depends how close to weight limits they were. I would think they had quite a bit of leeway though.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-01, 04:42 PM
If you look closely at one of the video tapes of the re-entry, before the debris trail breaks into multiple trails, an object can be seem tumbling and twinkling behind the Shuttle. I think it is either one of the wings or possibly the vertical fin. If the fin did detach, then the vehicle would have yawed eccessively prcipitating a complete structural break up.

In 1968 an X-15 was destroyed and the pilot (Mike Adams) killed when it re-entered the atmosphere sideways and broke up. I think there are striking similarities here.

Any comments?

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 04:43 PM
I believe it was due to all the science experiments being done. There was lots of stuff to bring back.

It was just a quick interview clip though. Nobody made any deal of it on the TV, I just caught it on my own.

Waarthog
2003-Feb-01, 04:44 PM
Was there a "Black (orange) box" on board?
I think there was, but in this case it is unlikely they survived. They are designed to take a hell of a beating but only those forces relative to an aircraft crash. the shuttle has a whole pile more energy than a 747 at full tilt. I doubt that the recorders are anything more than commerical models adapted for shuttle use. If as it appears, the fuselage broke up, odds are given the speeds it was going the recorders will not survive intact.

Edit add: In another thread, it is stated the is no recorder as such. I do not know for sure yes or no. It occurs to me that there might not be given the amount of telemetry on that bird so I am now leaning toward no there was not.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Waarthog on 2003-02-01 11:52 ]</font>

James_Digriz
2003-Feb-01, 04:52 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:42, Eric McLoughlin wrote:
If you look closely at one of the video tapes of the re-entry, before the debris trail breaks into multiple trails, an object can be seem tumbling and twinkling behind the Shuttle. I think it is either one of the wings or possibly the vertical fin. If the fin did detach, then the vehicle would have yawed eccessively prcipitating a complete structural break up.

In 1968 an X-15 was destroyed and the pilot (Mike Adams) killed when it re-entered the atmosphere sideways and broke up. I think there are striking similarities here.

Any comments?


No way to really tell because we don't have the whole picture. We don't know why it broke apart. Certainly once you lose structural integrity on any aircraft you have tremendous drag forces acting on the aircraft and even more so at mach 15.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 04:53 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:42, Eric McLoughlin wrote:
If you look closely at one of the video tapes of the re-entry, before the debris trail breaks into multiple trails, an object can be seem tumbling and twinkling behind the Shuttle. I think it is either one of the wings or possibly the vertical fin. If the fin did detach, then the vehicle would have yawed eccessively prcipitating a complete structural break up.

In 1968 an X-15 was destroyed and the pilot (Mike Adams) killed when it re-entered the atmosphere sideways and broke up. I think there are striking similarities here.

Any comments?


Mine being only that I sincerely hope that the G-LOC set in before anyone truly understood their peril.

I can't imagine spending my last few moments in such unfettered terror.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 04:57 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:44, Waarthog wrote:
Was there a "Black (orange) box" on board?

Edit add: In another thread, it is stated the is no recorder as such. I do not know for sure yes or no. It occurs to me that there might not be given the amount of telemetry on that bird so I am now leaning toward no there was not.


We all stand corrected, and I apologize for suggesting that the Shuttle had no CSFDR:



L-3 COMMUNICATIONS CORP./ ELECTRODYNAMICS, INC. - FLIGHT DATA RECORDERS, MEMORY UNITS AND SOLID-STATE DATA STORAGE
L-3 Communications/ Electrodynamics (L-3/EDI) manufactures a wide range of solid-state flight data recorders and crash survivable memory units for tactical military aircraft. They also design and manufacture solid-state data storage systems for military and aerospace applications. The company's expertise is in the design, development, and production of the data recorders, crash memory units, and data storage systems. These systems have been used on a wide range of platforms including B-1B, F-22, T-45, B-2, F-4, F-15, F-16, C-5 Galaxy, NATO AWACS, and the Space Shuttle.



from http://www.airforce-technology.com/contractors/electronic/l3_communications/

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bill S. on 2003-02-01 12:03 ]</font>

jrkeller
2003-Feb-01, 05:09 PM
On 2003-02-01 11:42, Eric McLoughlin wrote:
If you look closely at one of the video tapes of the re-entry, before the debris trail breaks into multiple trails, an object can be seem tumbling and twinkling behind the Shuttle. I think it is either one of the wings or possibly the vertical fin. If the fin did detach, then the vehicle would have yawed eccessively prcipitating a complete structural break up.

In 1968 an X-15 was destroyed and the pilot (Mike Adams) killed when it re-entered the atmosphere sideways and broke up. I think there are striking similarities here.

Any comments?


I have to agree with you on that one. I noticed that too.

Things here in Houston are really somber. It is a warm Saturday afternoon, around 65, I don't hear one lawn mower or anything.

g99
2003-Feb-01, 05:09 PM
Hmmm.. So it did have a "Black Box" (even tought they are orange.

I wonder what data it will show. Hopefully it will have something usefull.

But i was watching the video that the networks have show it shows pieces breaking off and a small explosion after two pieces break off. Was that the fuel burning or could it of been the astronauts trying to escape and blowing a hatch? This is just speculation. I know they would not of survived the speeds that it was traveling, but maybe one of them tried to get out and they did survive the initial breakup.

Oh and if anyone is making out a pitition to keep the space program on the books where do i sign?

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 05:16 PM
On 2003-02-01 12:09, g99 wrote:
Hmmm.. So it did have a "Black Box" (even tought they are orange.

I wonder what data it will show. Hopefully it will have something usefull.


It was in all likelyhood annihilated. I hope not; I hope we can see what happened.



Oh and if anyone is making out a pitition to keep the space program on the books where do i sign?


In the voting booth every election year. I'm not being flip; it's the best way to do it. Failing that, write your congressman.

g99
2003-Feb-01, 05:20 PM
The only problem with voting is that i am not a citizen yet. I am still a Canadian. But we are in the process of becoming citizens. Oh how many times have i wished i could vote.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 05:25 PM
On 2003-02-01 12:20, g99 wrote:
The only problem with voting is that i am not a citizen yet. I am still a Canadian. But we are in the process of becoming citizens. Oh how many times have i wished i could vote.


Dual or are you "converting"? What part of Canada?

This disaster must not be allowed to be the end of manned space flight. I think it will be, personally. I really do. But let's not let it go without a fight. That's not what the Challenger's or Columbia's crew died for.

g99
2003-Feb-01, 05:35 PM
I am going to ask for dual. And i was born and lived till i was 11 in Toronto Canada. Thornhill to be exact.



I don't think that It will be the total end of the program. As in my post on another topic i think it will be the end of the american manned program untill the next line of shuttles comes online. It is just too much of a risk to keep the current program running.


But..I know i will get flak over this but i am going to say it anyways. If it was a terroist attack it would probobly be better than if it was a mechanical failure. If it was a terrorist atack (very, very, very unlikely. No way a missle, only chance is if it was planted on there) than they could continue the shuttle program with little delay. If mechanical, they are screwed untill they find out exactly what happened.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 05:45 PM
On 2003-02-01 12:35, g99 wrote:
I am going to ask for dual. And i was born and lived till i was 11 in Toronto Canada. Thornhill to be exact.


A brother-in-law of mine is a Newfie. If you'd been from there, too, that'd have been just too weird.



I don't think that It will be the total end of the program. As in my post on another topic i think it will be the end of the american manned program untill the next line of shuttles comes online. It is just too much of a risk to keep the current program running.


If there is to ever be any continuation, I sincerely hope that there's a hard look taken at a Shuttle replacement. The X33 was a step in the right direction...



But..I know i will get flak over this but i am going to say it anyways. If it was a terroist attack it would probobly be better than if it was a mechanical failure. If it was a terrorist atack (very, very, very unlikely. No way a missle, only chance is if it was planted on there) than they could continue the shuttle program with little delay. If mechanical, they are screwed untill they find out exactly what happened.


Such an attack might also buy the supporters a WMD attack. That's too frightening to contemplate.

Tuckerfan
2003-Feb-01, 05:48 PM
It's a 2o year old space craft, and even though it has some of the finest technitians on the planet taking care of it, it could simply be that shuttles hit an age limit.

g99
2003-Feb-01, 06:01 PM
Newfie? As in Newfoundland? Hmm..Never heard that before. Slang?

Bill S.
2003-Feb-01, 06:20 PM
On 2003-02-01 13:01, g99 wrote:
Newfie? As in Newfoundland? Hmm..Never heard that before. Slang?


Yeah. That's what I'm told. Never been to Canada. Known a few Canadians, however.

Thanks, BTW, for the Shuttle's remote controlled arm.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 06:35 PM
Speculation from Time.com

'Aerodynamics May Explain Space Shuttle Breakup' (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,418462,00.html)


Kizarvexis

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-01 13:36 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-01 13:37 ]</font>

g99
2003-Feb-01, 06:37 PM
just listened to a cnn broaudcast of the last moments and the nasa operatior mentioned a banking turn (i think it was 50 degrees) and then something wrong with tire pressure. Columbia said "roger..." and no more transmissions form Columbia. Maybe that will mean something. I don't know. Anything dangerous about the tires on the shuttle?

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 06:43 PM
g99, I saw that too and was just about to mention it.

A while ago they had an interview with an astronaut about how the shuttle reentered. He said they "rock" it back and forth to help dissapate the heat. That's probably what they were referring to, instead of a "turn".

I think it interesting that there was such a sudden cut-off. Something caused the communications to go out before the passengers were aware of it. Lends me to think that there was some kind of mechanical failure at fault, rather than a burn-through, or something that would give more advanced warning.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 06:46 PM
On 2003-02-01 13:37, g99 wrote:
just listened to a cnn broaudcast of the last moments and the nasa operatior mentioned a banking turn (i think it was 50 degrees) and then something wrong with tire pressure. Columbia said "roger..." and no more transmissions form Columbia. Maybe that will mean something. I don't know. Anything dangerous about the tires on the shuttle?


Shouldn't be. I have heard people on a different forum who reported the problem the tire pressure.

Speculation
If some tiles came off, the skin of the shuttle would start to melt. If it happened near the tires, they would heat up causing the tire pressure to increase.
end speculation

As I have heard on Fox, the shuttle was entering the part of the descent where it does some S shaped banks to slow down. This is normal for descents, but it puts lots of stress on the airframe. (Reported to be the part of a flight with the highest stresses.)

Speculation again
This may be where something failed (even something small) that would be only be a problem elsewhere during the flight, but was catastophic in this part of the flight.
end specualtion

In any case, all will be speculation, until NASA determines what happened in the next few months/years. And even then NASA may only have informed speculation based on what evidence the find in the shuttle parts recovered.

Kizarvexis

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-01, 06:46 PM
CNN have just shown a recording from Mission Control which included the dialogue right up to the point communicstion was lost. It's obvious that the Shuttle was not yet in the communication blackout phase of re-entry which should mean that there is meaningful telemetry data available. More importantly, one of the astronauts commented on rising tyre pressure in one of the wheels. That could indicate that the underside of the vehicle was being heated to an abnormally high level. The Shuttle was in a 57 degree bank at this point but that is normal. However, it would mean that one wing would be exposed to more aerodynamic heating and dynamic forces than the other.He was in mid- sentence when communication abruptly stopped.

Are we looking at a tyre explosion followed by structural failure of the wing and vehicle break up?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Eric McLoughlin on 2003-02-01 13:47 ]</font>

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 06:55 PM
I was thinking that the tire pressure check was a routine thing, a pre-check before the landing, but I don't really know. The idea that excess heat was causing the pressure to increase seems logical to me though.

The landing gear area would be a big area of risk too. The surface there takea a large part of the reentry heat, and since it's on the underside there's no way to check it for lost tiles without a spacewalk and close inspection. If they lost a large section of tiles there, it may have been enough.

Comixx
2003-Feb-01, 06:57 PM
Too bad this wasn't one of the missions which docked with the ISS. A visual inspection could have been made of the shuttle from ISS without the need for an EVA. Of course, this assumes that whatever failed happened before re-entry and was visible externally.

~ Brad

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-01, 07:03 PM
I think NASA have access to USAF/NORAD ground based and space based telescopes which allow them to view the Shuttle and assess external damage. They don't like to reveal the detail they can see for national security reasons. Certainly back in 1981 when there was speculation that tiles had fallen off the underneath of Columbia on the first mission, NASA were at pains to reassure everyone that there were no problems with the tiles on the undersides. However, they would not reveal why they were so sure. 22 years on I would assume the technology for such long range inspections is even better.

g99
2003-Feb-01, 07:05 PM
o.k. so lets learn from this. What can be done on further shuttle missions to prevent this? Maybe a spacewalk right before re-entry to check all of the tiles. Maybe finding a safer place to land, or a different trajectory.


P.S. if any of you work for NASA keep us updated on this event with non-classified stuff. So we don't always get the Media spin and dumbing down on it. Thanks.



Speculation:

If the tire exploded with enougth force due to pressure increase it could of given a disruption in stabilization of the craft. I imagine at that speed even a small change in angle could give it a dangerous spin. Maybe the tire could of damaged some hydrolics or critical wiring in its problem. While i imagine the aviation controlls have many redundant options, it might of lost controll just long enougth to go out of controll.

But this is a depressing day. This sucks... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

Hale_Bopp
2003-Feb-01, 07:20 PM
I seem to remember that some tiles did fall off during Columbia's first flight in 1982...near the tail if I remember correctly. It was only a couple, but the picture I is looking through the cargo bay at the tail and you can see a couple of black spots where there were supposed to be white tiles.

NASA had a program (don't know if they still do) where they would give tile samples to high school teachers. I had a couple of the tiles and they were very brittle and light. You could easily make a mark in them with your fingernail.

Rob

xriso
2003-Feb-01, 07:26 PM
Well, how about the positive outcomes of this? The only one that comes to mind is that there will be more motivation to keep developing the next generation shuttle. Frankly, though, the shuttle still does have a excellent track record if you think about it.

The negative outcomes are just too numerous to list.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 07:27 PM
On 2003-02-01 14:05, g99 wrote:
o.k. so lets learn from this. What can be done on further shuttle missions to prevent this? Maybe a spacewalk right before re-entry to check all of the tiles. Maybe finding a safer place to land, or a different trajectory.

Adding a spacewalk would probably increase the danger of a mission that didn't require one. Not to mention of the added weight of materials needed for the walk. (I'm sure they have materials on board for an emergency , but would need extras for a planned walk.)


Speculation:

If the tire exploded with enougth force due to pressure increase it could of given a disruption in stabilization of the craft. I imagine at that speed even a small change in angle could give it a dangerous spin. Maybe the tire could of damaged some hydrolics or critical wiring in its problem. While i imagine the aviation controlls have many redundant options, it might of lost controll just long enougth to go out of controll.

But this is a depressing day. This sucks... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif



I think any tire exploding would be due to something worse happening, like failure of the shuttle skin or some other fatal structure failure.

Kizarvexis

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 07:32 PM
One positive is that more problems will have been brought to light and corrected. Every failure leads to more improvements.

Well, maybe that's more of making the best of a bad thing, but it is something good.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-01, 07:37 PM
Unplanned spacewalks are a definite "no-no". On average, an astronaut can train for up to two years just to do one particular EVA. In any case, if an astronaut did discover that a bunch of tiles or thermal blanket had falllen off, what could he do about it?

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 08:40 PM
The briefing is on now. They're saying the first indicators were temperature increases in 3 sensors on the left wing, followed by increase in tire and brake line pressure on the same side. All data was lost shortly after that.

_________________
...And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped. --Sir Bedevere

<font size="-1">(minor clarification)</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2003-02-01 15:41 ]</font>

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 09:04 PM
On 2003-02-01 15:40, David Hall wrote:
The briefing is on now. They're saying the first indicators were temperature increases in 3 sensors on the left wing, followed by increase in tire and brake line pressure on the same side. All data was lost shortly after that.

_________________
...And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped. --Sir Bedevere


They also mentioned that the left wing was the one hit by debris on lift-off. They cuationed that this may not be the smoking gun. It could be something else entirely.

Also, I wish that they would have said that a space walk, over the side as it were, to check the bottom of the shuttle may damaged tiles that you are checking to see if are undamaged. You just don't want to risk it.

Kizarvexis


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-01 16:13 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-01 16:15 ]</font>

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-01, 09:04 PM
Stuctural failure of the left (port) wing caused by excessive arodynamic heating. The broken off wing must be the object seen tumbling in the wake of the Shuttle BEFORE the main break up and the multiple vapour trails.

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 09:13 PM
I mistakenly posted this in the wrong thread. Here it is again:

Now they've clarified that there are NO hardened "black boxes" on the shuttle, but there are a number of regular data recorders. If any of them survived, of course they'll take a look at them.

They also do not have the ability to do unplanned spacewalks, inspections, or tile repair in space.

And to add to my last post, several sensors suddenly cut out on the left wing, as if the wires were cut.

cable
2003-Feb-01, 09:25 PM
I recall the accident of last Ariane-5, which was a modified version. as for the engine, they made an extrapolation, rather than going into lengthy testing. the assumption that the "divergent" will sustain extra thrust was wrong ...

was this a normal shuttle, or a modified/enhanced model ??

Glom
2003-Feb-01, 09:29 PM
Where on the orbiter was the antenna used for voice communications between the orbiter and the ground?

Andrew
2003-Feb-01, 09:34 PM
On 2003-02-01 16:29, Glom wrote:
Where on the orbiter was the antenna used for voice communications between the orbiter and the ground?


The information you seek could be here:

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/technology/sts-newsref/sts-ovcomm.html#sts-uhf

Edit: You'll have to scroll up on this link.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Andrew on 2003-02-01 16:35 ]</font>

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 09:36 PM
On 2003-02-01 16:13, David Hall wrote:
I mistakenly posted this in the wrong thread. Here it is again:

Now they've clarified that there are NO hardened "black boxes" on the shuttle, but there are a number of regular data recorders. If any of them survived, of course they'll take a look at them.

They also do not have the ability to do unplanned spacewalks, inspections, or tile repair in space.

And to add to my last post, several sensors suddenly cut out on the left wing, as if the wires were cut.



They just mentioned that the sensor drops started at the rear of the left wing and moved forward. Kinda screws up the straight forward assumption of the forward tiles failing where the debris hit the left wing on lift-off. I'm sure they'll figure out what happened, but it may not be related to the debris hit.

Kizarvexis

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-01, 09:43 PM
On 2003-02-01 16:25, cable wrote:
I recall the accident of last Ariane-5, which was a modified version. as for the engine, they made an extrapolation, rather than going into lengthy testing. the assumption that the "divergent" will sustain extra thrust was wrong ...

was this a normal shuttle, or a modified/enhanced model ??



They send the shuttles through an upgrade program. Mostly to replace internal stuff like cockpit instruments and the like. I'm not sure how many have went through this yet, but I know at least one other has went through the overhaul. I believe Columbia has went or just went through an overhaul process.

A few missions ago, they replaced one of the engines with a new type of main engine that had been through many years of testing. It ran fine. I believe a shuttle flight was going to go up with all three of the main engines as one of this type, but I don't know if this flight was one of them. The main engines are shut down after launch and don't restart, so I would doubt that they would be a problem.

Kizarvexis

Comixx
2003-Feb-01, 09:55 PM
Well, they just said that Columbia had a bunch of extra instrumentation when it was first in service that was no longer being used, so they stripped it out. I wouldnt be surprised if they also upgraded other components as needed as they went through the stripping process. They also said removing said components drastically reduced the weight of the ship...so that may no longer be a speculative factor.

~Brad

David Hall
2003-Feb-01, 09:57 PM
On 2003-02-01 16:36, Kizarvexis wrote:

They just mentioned that the sensor drops started at the rear of the left wing and moved forward. Kinda screws up the straight forward assumption of the forward tiles failing where the debris hit the left wing on lift-off. I'm sure they'll figure out what happened, but it may not be related to the debris hit.


They also pointed out that sensor drops don't mean that that's the point where the problem is. It could be the damage was on the forward wing, but it was burning out wires that led to the sensors in the rear, for example.

Irishman
2003-Feb-01, 10:08 PM
g99, they are called "black boxes" because the internal workings are "not visible", i.e. black. Like "black ops" for secret spy work. It has nothing to do with the physical color of the object, but the lack of describing what occurs within.

From the way Bill S. describes it, the insulation fall occurred during the launch, not prior to launch. Is that the case?

I was present during the Tethered Satellite reflight, STS-75. The payload was a satellite on a "string" that was deployed 7 miles behind the Shuttle to dangle in space. On deploy of the satellite, the tether broke. People shifted into contingency mode to decide what to do, including possible recovery of the satellite. During a meeting on what we could do EVA, the flight director pulled out the chalk board and began describing the satellite. He spoke in strange terms about "let us assume the satellite..." and went on with a detailed description of satellite orientation, and tether tangle and wraparound. Someone asked if we could get some DOD assets to view the satellite for us. The flight director got a smirk on his face, and then repeated "Let's just assume it looks like this."

If they were concerned, they could get visuals. An EVA would be difficult if not impossible. There are no handrails or other means to get to the underside of the orbiter. It would be tricky to use onboard tethers and cables to jury rig a way to get underneath, and then you have to worry about damaging more tiles in the process. Note that astronauts in space suits are not capable of delicate body control. They tend to bump and kick everything around them. This is a known concern dealt with for every piece of equipment potentially near an EVA crewmember. It's not practical. And there's no way to repair the tiles, anyway, so it's pretty pointless.

-----

This just in - the NASA technical press conference is answering a lot of these questions. There is no hardened flight recorders on the orbiter, but there are flight recorders. They're probably junk. The sensors on the left wing dropped off low (stopped reading, like severed). No high temps/pressures shown.

The foam shedding from the ET was evaluated and analyzed and considered not a problem. They will be reviewing that evaluation and looking to see if they missed something.

Nobody has asked about the APUs.

Ron Dittimore (Shuttle Program Manager) dismissed the age of Columbia. It was the oldest, but Discovery has flown more missions. That means it has been exposed to more cycles of stress loading, etc.

anu
2003-Feb-01, 11:22 PM
I recall that on STS-9 (Columbia), there were problems with either the RCS feed lines or the APUs. As I understand it, the APUs will augment power to aerodynamic control surfaces. I'm not sure about this, but if you're at 200,000ft, is dynamic presssure enough to render the RCS system invalid for attitude control? If so, a loss of APU power to control surfaces could cause a total loss of stability and subsequent breakup due to excessive aerodynamic loads. This was the first thing that went through my mind when watching the video, and was explored in depth in Stephen Baxter's 'Titan'.

I hope that I am wrong, but I fear that this is the end of US manned spaceflight for a long time.

Bill Thmpson
2003-Feb-01, 11:30 PM
Video of what happend (no sound) :

http://www.cbsnews.com/media/2003/02/01/video538954.rm

g99
2003-Feb-01, 11:40 PM
Bill there is no reasson to post it in all Shuttle threads, we can all see the one you posted in its own topic. Thnaks for finding it. It was interesting.

DStahl
2003-Feb-02, 12:13 AM
President Bush and NASA are both saying at this point that space flight will resume, though it may be some months before the remaining shuttles are cleared for service. The ISS has supplies to last until June of this year, and of course if necessary the space station astronauts could use a Soyuz capsule to abandon the ISS.

Personally, I think this is a terrible setback but it will not kill the manned space program nor the concept of using shuttle craft (as opposed to single-use rockets). An NPR call-in made an interesting point: after the Challenger disaster the investigation only gained credibility when it became clear that all questions, no matter how sensitive and potentially embarrassing to NASA, were being actively pursued. I hope that the investigation of this tragedy can be open and powerful from the get-go.

johnwitts
2003-Feb-02, 12:14 AM
What a day! I started reading all this stuff about Columbia (because the news coverage in the UK has been poor) and my monitor went pop. Smoke and everything. So I hooked up a laptop to my computer to share the internet connection, like I've done a million times and 'DNS error'. Pants. So I went and bought a new monitor.

Just read all the threads here and it's becoming clear that it's a terrible week for spaceflight all round. Apollo 1 on the 27th Jan, Challenger on 28th Jan, now Columbia on 1st Feb. NASA, do like Disneyland and close down between November and February...

Just another thought before I calibrate my monitor so I can see all the screen at once; I thought black boxes were so called because they were first thought up by a 'Mr Black'...

g99
2003-Feb-02, 01:04 AM
Wait challenger on jan 28th and this on feb 1st? Wow that is close. I am not asaying that it is bad luck, or superstition, but that is one heck of a coincidence. And it is only a coincidence (Well in my view at least). But you can't rule out anything....

overrated
2003-Feb-02, 01:38 AM
As I understand it, Columbia was the heaviest of all the orbiters. This obviously doesn't make much of a difference, though, because it has successfully returned from orbit many times.

If they had discovered significant tile loss while in orbit, did they have enough supplies to stay up until a rescue mission (even one using a Progress mission) could be mounted? Here's where the weight may have been significant--Columbia never is used to dock with the ISS because of its weight (and subsequent inability to carry enough payload).

As the computer is running the show during re-entry, there's no possibility of manually recovering if something goes wrong aerodynamically, right? I guess what I'm saying is, could the crew have noticed: Whoa, we're getting a lot of yaw, or, whoa, the temp guages are too high--and then done something about it?

How much drag would it take to throw the shuttle uncontrollably out of whack? Just a few missing tiles? Or would the lack of heat protection do more damage?

What about hydrazine makes it so toxic to people?

Where would be the worst place for the shuttle to have lost heat tiles?

My speculation: Telemetry said the re-entry angle and positioning was correct. So what happened was a missing heat tile created drag that stripped off more heat tiles. The resulting heat caused the sensor failures in the wing and tires. It also began weakening the internal structure. The drag made the orbiter deviate from a smooth glide path, putting further stress on the wings (which already were at maximum G-loads because of the S-turns). The combination of the extra drag and excess heat caused the wing to fail and the orbiter to break up.

And to conclude this jumbled post, I worry now that the space program will be severely set back. "Why spend money on NASA if it can't do its job right?" Washington will ask. And instead of reaching out and continue to explore our surroundings, mankind will do the safe, easy (and cheap) thing and stay at home. Dreams--mine, at least--will remain unfulfilled.

Graham2001
2003-Feb-02, 02:29 AM
But..I know i will get flak over this but i am going to say it anyways. If it was a terroist attack it would probobly be better than if it was a mechanical failure. If it was a terrorist atack (very, very, very unlikely. No way a missle, only chance is if it was planted on there)

Alt.Conspiracy has already started, from the material I looked at it seems that the posters think that the 'it wasn't terrorists' is 'spin doctoring' and are starting from there.

Causes listed on that forum range from Orbital Lasers to an Israeli suicide mission.

I'll not include links because the material there is just appalling.

Graham

sarongsong
2003-Feb-02, 02:47 AM
overrated asks:
What about hydrazine makes it so toxic to people?
A bit OT, but of some benefit perhaps:
"Advocates say hydrazine sulfate combats cancer's wasting effect on the body and that it halts or shrinks tumors..."
http://www.boston.com/globe/magazine/1997/10-26/mindandbody/

Doodler
2003-Feb-02, 02:49 AM
If i heard correctly is EXTREMELY reactive chemically. I want to say its the "burning" agent in maneuvering thrusters, but I do not know the chemistry myself.

g99
2003-Feb-02, 02:53 AM
Would you handle gasoline or desil(sp?) fuel with your bare hands? No of course not. Then why handle something coated in something hundreds of times worse than desil or gasoline? Duh people!! (i am talking to average joe not you)

nebularain
2003-Feb-02, 03:00 AM
Yes, but y our average Joe has no idea what the shuttle is coated with!!!

g99
2003-Feb-02, 03:03 AM
true, touche! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

SAMU
2003-Feb-02, 06:35 AM
So, what would it really cost to routinely do two quick EVA swings around the shuttle for damage inspection? One after launch and one before rentry. (Basic flight school stuff really.) And if catastrophic airframe damage is discovered after launch, is 15 to 30 days orbital integrity time enough to get a rescue/repair launch off? (If planned for and minimally maintained for all flights.) Is the cost of maintaining the capability of such a mission excessive? Is such a mission capability impossible to maintain without additional non rescue mission loads being placed on the capability causing the cost and time to prepare the mission to rise to uselessness?

Is rescue of crew and or shuttle worth it? Or are they so expendable that even a basic inspection opens a can of worms bigger than they are worth?

Bill S.
2003-Feb-02, 07:01 AM
On 2003-02-02 01:35, SAMU wrote:
So, what would it really cost to routinely do two quick EVA swings around the shuttle for damage inspection? One after launch and one before rentry. (Basic flight school stuff really.) And if catastrophic airframe damage is discovered after launch, is 15 to 30 days orbital integrity time enough to get a rescue/repair launch off? (If planned for and minimally maintained for all flights.) Is the cost of maintaining the capability of such a mission excessive? Is such a mission capability impossible to maintain without additional non rescue mission loads being placed on the capability causing the cost and time to prepare the mission to rise to uselessness?

Is rescue of crew and or shuttle worth it? Or are they so expendable that even a basic inspection opens a can of worms bigger than they are worth?


Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

What would an inspection have revealed? The wing failure (if indeed that is what doomed Columbia) seems, by telemetry data, to have begun aft and moved forward, thus casting doubt on the idea that the wing failed where the insulation impacted.

It could have been a micro-meteroite strike during reentry. Unavoidable, undetectable until too late.

And if they had discovered damage, then what? Despite what anyone thinks, there are no parachutes or escape pods on the Shuttles. There's no way for the crew to get home except in the Shuttle itself. Progress modules launched from Russia - presuming they could mount such a mission literally immediately - have no way of docking with the Shuttle; even if they did, who gets to come home? Multiple Progress modules? Not likely; the capsules seat three or four perhaps, but a best-case scenario puts their launch two weeks apart...so three come home and four wait. Then three more come home...

Consumables on Discovery would be long gone by then.

Dock with ISS? Columbia had no docking module and was at any rate incapable of maneuvering to the required altitude even if it had. It also had no fuel for the duration of burn required to boost it to the ISS' orbital level.

Irishman
2003-Feb-02, 10:36 AM
First a lot was posted while I was composing my post, then a lot since.

Eric McLoughlin said:

Unplanned spacewalks are a definite "no-no". On average, an astronaut can train for up to two years just to do one particular EVA.

That's not true. The astronauts train a number of possible problem scenarios, called contingencies. These include things like payload bay hatches failing to close and the payload bay doors failing to close. There are a number of tools on board for contingency use, in case something comes up. Yes, crew members to train extensively for planned tasks (like Hubble repair missions, or ISS assembly). The train a certain amount for identified potential problems. And a lot of analysis has gone into identifying the potential problems, and what can be done. So unplanned EVAs are not a no-no. They are, in fact, planned for. Every shuttle carries two suits and enough consumables for 1 contingency EVA (~6 hrs). It's just a lot of evaluation goes into deciding to make an unplanned EVA.


In any case, if an astronaut did discover that a bunch of tiles or thermal blanket had falllen off, what could he do about it?

This is correct. It was stated numerous times in the press conference, there is no ability to repair the tiles on orbit. None. Rather, the design is made as robust as possible in order to be able to sustain reasonable damage/tile loss without risking safety too much. Note the qualifiers. Risk evaluation and mitigation is a large part of how they deal with the tile situation.

Even if there had been a problem (damage) from the insulation impact that was discovered, there really isn't anything they could have done about it. No repair kit, no way to get to the underside in order to repair it, and trying to get there would probably cause more damage to tiles. They would have been stuck in the unenviable position of knowing they probably wouldn't make it home, but having no option but to try.

There's no way they could wait for rescue mission. First, shuttles just can't get off the ground that fast. Since one is in processing for a launch in early March, it might have been able to rush it, but that would have been an extraordinary effort at the limits of conceivability. Often orbiters are not anywhere near that close to launch, so there would be no recourse. And Columbia could not have reached ISS. There would not have been a way to ferry between the two with the Soyuz. Even if they met, Columbia is not outfitted with a docking hatch - there would have been no way to transfer the crew. There are only two EMUs on the flight, and they only fit the designated EVA crewmembers.

cable said:

I recall the accident of last Ariane-5, which was a modified version. as for the engine, they made an extrapolation, rather than going into lengthy testing. the assumption that the "divergent" will sustain extra thrust was wrong ...

was this a normal shuttle, or a modified/enhanced model ??

First off, the shuttle engines are fully removable and replacable. They are installed for each flight, though they are reused. They change around between orbiters. There are a couple of versions with different thrust levels, but both designs were fully tested and certified.

Second, the main engines only burn on launch. Then they are turned off and not reignited again. The orbital maneuvers are controlled by smaller thrusters that use hydrazine fuel. The fuel has two components that spontaneously ignite upon mixing, no heat source (spark) required. This is more reliable and consistent for cycling on and off, but the stuff is very toxic. There are two thruster systems - the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) and the Reaction Control System (RCS). OMS is for big changes in attitude and position, RCS is for smaller changes. Both use similar fuel.

Third, I believe the word "divergent" you mean the nozzle. You're referring to the cone at the bottom of the rocket, yes?

Comixx said:

They also said removing said components drastically reduced the weight of the ship...so that may no longer be a speculative factor.

Sorry, even with those weight savings, Columbia was still the heaviest of the Orbiters. One reason it was not outfitted with a docking assembly is because it was too heavy to go to ISS anyway, or at least to go there and carry a meaningful payload. Instead, it was chosen to be kept without the docking assembly for other missions - like SpaceHab, or Hubble servicing, or deploying things like Chandra (a really big space telescope). I don't think the extra weight was an issue, but not because it wasn't heavier - it definitely was.

anu said:

As I understand it, the APUs will augment power to aerodynamic control surfaces. I'm not sure about this, but if you're at 200,000ft, is dynamic presssure enough to render the RCS system invalid for attitude control? If so, a loss of APU power to control surfaces could cause a total loss of stability and subsequent breakup due to excessive aerodynamic loads.

They were in the "S" turn portion of reentry, where the heating is greatest as they lose speed through drag (friction heating). This is the part of the flight where the control surfaces begin to have effect, vs the RCS.

johnwitts said:

Apollo 1 on the 27th Jan, Challenger on 28th Jan, now Columbia on 1st Feb. NASA, do like Disneyland and close down between November and February...

Coincidences. Apollo 1 was full systems ground test. The date was irrelevant. Challenger was lost because of extreme cold weather due to the season - February. We have yet to identify the cause in this case, but it does not appear to be related to the season. Independent causes. Though the closeness of the dates clearly seems eerie to those inclined to think that way.


I thought black boxes were so called because they were first thought up by a 'Mr Black'...

I've never heard that. In engineering, any device that you regard as a closed box that you don't care what's going on inside, only the inputs and outputs, is called a "black box". It is "black" because the inside of the box is not visible - the old "dark side of the moon" argument. I assume that is why in-flight recorders are called black boxes, but I don't know specifically that they weren't invented by a Mr. Black. It could be that in this case that was the origin and the two are just coincidentally similar.

overrated said:

How much drag would it take to throw the shuttle uncontrollably out of whack? Just a few missing tiles? Or would the lack of heat protection do more damage?

I don't think even a gaping hole in the tiles would affect the drag enough to skew the flight profile. I think the more critical situation is the loss of the heat protection. There are a couple of layers of heat protection, and as long as the black tiles are mostly intact the orbiter is in good shape. How big a hole causes a problem I don't know. I think heat becomes an issue faster than drag.

The worst place to lose tiles? Maybe along the leading edge of the wings. Not sure.


What about hydrazine makes it so toxic to people?

They were saying on the news that hydrazine will coat the inside of your lungs with a film that seals the air sacs, preventing your body from absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. You die from suffocation.

Somebody mentioned earlier about the "S" turns, and whether they were turns or not. The orbiter makes a side to side motion as it pitches over. As it begins to reenter the atmosphere, the nose is pitched up about 60 degrees. This presents the bottom of the orbiter to the friction. Then the nose cants to one side, say right. This puts the orbiter into a glide to the right. After a while, the nose is yawed back to the left, making a turn. The path then glides to the left. This back and forth, back and forth sends the orbiter into an S shaped glide path. Yes, there are turns. The side to side motion helps slow the orbiter down.

sarongsong, there are several different types of hydrazine, and they are not the same chemically. I believe the orbiter uses monomethyl hydrozine, not hydrozine sulfate. That's like the difference between sodium chloride and monosodium glutemate.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-02, 11:41 AM
Irishman - thank you for the clarification on the issue of crew training for EVAs. I was thinking of things like Hubble Space Telescope maintenance and such like.

Regarding the availability of space suits, You mention that the Shuttle carries two suits. I remember in the years before the first launch in 1981 seeing photos of astronauts climbing into a "rescue ball". The idea was that they could transfer to an adjacent Shuttle or other spoace craft using this pressurised ball rather than a suit. Did this idea get dropped as impractical?

By the way Irishman - are you a genuine "Irishman" and if so, where from? I'm originall from Dublin myself.

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-02, 12:01 PM
Well it didn't take long for the NASA bashing to start - from MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.com/news/867623.asp?0cv=CB10) "Experts warned of safety worries".

All of the standard stuff from budget cutback caused canceling of re-fits to NASA was just "making up" safety estimates. The members of congress who dislike NASA are going to have a field day with this tragedy, no matter what the facts are!

cable
2003-Feb-02, 01:47 PM
there is a strange discussion , regarding the shuttle, here:

http://www.omanforum.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/listings/CFB/1/forum/19.cfm

JayUtah
2003-Feb-02, 03:26 PM
There are always "safety concerns" and warnings and so forth in any large engineering enterprise. Incidents such as this focus unusual attention on reports and concerns that were aired recently, or on past reports that seem to relate to the problem at hand. This gives those reports an aura of elevated importance or relevance, trying to suggest some sort of ominous forewarning that went unheeded.

None of that means diddly-squat until [i]Columbia[i]'s "failure mode" is ascertained.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-02, 03:42 PM
First off, the shuttle engines are fully removable and replacable. They are installed for each flight, though they are reused.

The SSME is not restartable. Therefore the STS system is designed to facilitate rapid swap-out of the engines in case of a GLS cutoff between ignition and liftoff. The SSME is man-rated while Ariane is not, therefore requiring not only actual testing but extensive actual testing.

In engineering, any device that you regard as a closed box that you don't care what's going on inside, only the inputs and outputs, is called a "black box".

True, but this derives from the military practice of sealing top secret electronics inside impregnable black boxes (which, too, were various colors but chiefly black) so that the uncleared mechanics could work on the aircraft or submarine or whatever without having to know the inner workings of these devices. FDRs usually had the same form factors as these sealed modules and so fell under that category.

The worst place to lose tiles? Maybe along the leading edge of the wings. Not sure.

I agree. In the orbiter's case the leading edge is a high-stress, high-temperature area during re-entry. In any airframe where aerodynamic heating is an issue, the leading edge is critical.

It is also important to consider any critical routes -- cable runs, etc. -- in the wing structure. If burn-through occurs there it could compromise flight control. Certain parts of the orbiter's structure are more vulnerable than others in terms of their need to remain intact to ensure safe flight.

This back and forth, back and forth sends the orbiter into an S shaped glide path. Yes, there are turns. The side to side motion helps slow the orbiter down.

I live in a state of skiers who instinctively understand roll reversals. It's the same means by which a skier controls his speed on a steep slope.

there are several different types of hydrazine, and they are not the same chemically.

As the names imply they differ in the number and placement of the methyl groups. Hydrazine per se is N<sub>2</sub>H<sub>4</sub>.


_________________
"Facts are stubborn things." --John Adams
Clavius Moon Base (http://www.clavius.org/)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: JayUtah on 2003-02-02 10:43 ]</font>

Argos
2003-Feb-02, 07:35 PM
On 2003-02-02 05:36, Irishman wrote:

(...)Then the nose cants to one side, say right. This puts the orbiter into a glide to the right. After a while, the nose is yawed back to the left, making a turn. The path then glides to the left. This back and forth, back and forth sends the orbiter into an S shaped glide path. Yes, there are turns. The side to side motion helps slow the orbiter down.


How is it done? By the aerodynamic control surfaces? By gyros?

Irishman
2003-Feb-02, 11:54 PM
Eric McLoughlin said:

Regarding the availability of space suits, You mention that the Shuttle carries two suits. I remember in the years before the first launch in 1981 seeing photos of astronauts climbing into a "rescue ball". The idea was that they could transfer to an adjacent Shuttle or other space craft using this pressurised ball rather than a suit. Did this idea get dropped as impractical?

I have never heard of this. It is possible it was a concept evaluated, but it was never put into use. I've reviewed the EVA tool catalog, that included all historical tools as well as currently available ones, so I know it was never built and flown. Why is a different matter. I think mainly because there isn't really anywhere for them to transfer to, so there's no reason to carry a contingency transfer mechanism. Even now that ISS is up there doesn't mean there's any ability to get to ISS.


By the way Irishman - are you a genuine "Irishman" and if so, where from? I'm originall from Dublin myself.

I'm fully American (born and reared), but have Irish ancestors.

JayUtah said:

First off, the shuttle engines are fully removable and replacable. They are installed for each flight, though they are reused.

The SSME is not restartable. Therefore the STS system is designed to facilitate rapid swap-out of the engines in case of a GLS cutoff between ignition and liftoff. The SSME is man-rated while Ariane is not, therefore requiring not only actual testing but extensive actual testing.

Correct, and sorry if I gave the wrong impression. The SSMEs are not restartable in flight. They are refurbished on the ground prior to reuse. And I think you meant "therefore requiring not only analysis but extensive actual testing."

Thanks for more info on black box origination.

As for critical areas for tile damage, it was commented today that the wheel wells are areas they have carefully analyzed because they are important.

Argos, control in the reentry phase we are talking about is by the elevons, the aerodynamic control surfaces. Gyros are used for orientation measurement, but the attitude control is computer control of the flight surfaces. The tech briefing today gave some explanation. Columbia was experiencing some above nominal drag on the left wing, and it was compensating for it with the elevons. While it had not exceeded the dynamic range of the control surfaces, it was outside the range of effects that have been witnessed in prior missions. On orbit, the attitude control is by the RCS thrusters.

SAMU
2003-Feb-03, 12:21 AM
On 2003-02-02 02:01, Bill S. wrote:

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.


Let's call it foresight. We want to set up a system where this particular sequence of events is overcome in the future.



What would an inspection have revealed?

The shuttle is one of the most inspected objects made by man. Before launch, that is. After launch it seems to be handled like a paper airplane. Toss it off, cross your fingers, stick your head where the sun don't shine and "hope for the best"( quote: Ron Dittmore NASA Shuttle Program Manager 2/1/03).




And if they had discovered damage, then what? Despite what anyone thinks, there are no parachutes or escape pods on the Shuttles.
There's no way for the crew to get home except in the Shuttle itself.



Quite right. At last count there were 4 (oops, last count there are now 3) Shuttles in varying states of readyness in the planned launch rotation cycle. It is hardly impossible and not really much more of an expense to hold each launch until the next vehicle in the rotation is "refurbished" within 15 to 30 days (the limits of the shuttles consumables) of miniumum launch capability.


So much for discussion, now for some speculation.

The piece of fuel tank insulation I saw in the video clip was in my estimation the size of a volkswagon. (Ron Dittmore, asked "what size was the piece" has already twiced dodged the size question. Yesterday he sidestepped it by seperating the question into two parts, answering the first "yes the piece was a concern and "forgetting" the part regarding size. Then today asked again, directly, the size question he flatly stonewalled with the answer "Talk to our public relations people" If there is no smoking gun to be found here, there is a lying man on the run with a consciosness of guilt to be found. (voice stress analysis)) It knocked a patch of tiles about the size of a car hood loose or off of the wing. The forces of of reentry tore at the weakened area and eventually tore off the wing. The vehicle rolled to the left and yawed to the right tearing off the other wing, the tail fin and breaking the fussilage in half. Throughout the event the shuttle was throwing off tiles by the hundreds.(as can be seen in some of the videos) These tiles, due to their low density and high heat resistance, should decelerate quickly, fall slowly and survive the reentry, vehicle destruction and fall nearly intact. If care is taken in the recovery nearly all should be found except an inordinate number from the left wing as they were lost during and after launch. This may give a pattern showing the airframe failure pattern. Also an examination of accelerometer telemetry at launch should give an estimate of the force applied by the insulation when it impacted.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-03, 12:34 AM
Correct, and sorry if I gave the wrong impression. The SSMEs are not restartable in flight. They are refurbished on the ground prior to reuse. And I think you meant "therefore requiring not only analysis but extensive actual testing."

You didn't give the wrong impression. I wasn't trying to make a correction. I thought it would be helpful to know that quick replacement of the SSME was part of the plan from the start. Since you can't restart them once they are shut down, it's important to be able to change them out quickly on the pad. I was going somewhere with this, but I can't remember where.

Actually I meant to say "testing" twice, although my meaning is a little obscure. What I mean is that man-rating imposes stringent performance and reliability constraints. Even cursory testing is not sufficient; you have to test extensively. Analysis alone is right out.

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-03, 12:39 AM
I just saw a Mr. Don Nelson (former NASA?) on Dateline stating that he personally told NASA that there would be a catastrophic failure of an orbiter and he wanted to reduce crew size to reduce risk and also wanted to automate the shuttles and put the crew of 4 in “escape modules”. HE was asked what NASA’s reaction was and he basically said he was forced out.

Can anyone tell me who this person is and what was his position in NASA was? Is he someone to believe or some disgruntled employee looking for his 15 min of fame?

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-03, 12:53 AM
Now for speculation-

Based on this afternoon’s briefing (Sun 2/2/03) it looks like the nexus of the telemetry problems is the left main landing gear compartment. Could this have indeed been a structural or design flaw? Columbia was the oldest and heaviest of the fleet (considerably heavier in its early life) and therefore put more stress on the structure during landing. Also, did it make a significantly more landings at Edwards on the lakebed than the other orbiters?

As I’m on a 33.6kbs dial-up connection and don’t have my link list eitheBa, can someone point me to a diagram of an orbiter that shows the position of the landing gear compartment?


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SpacedOut on 2003-02-02 19:56 ]</font>

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-03, 02:21 AM
On 2003-02-02 19:21, SAMU wrote:
Quite right. At last count there were 4 (oops, last count there are now 3) Shuttles in varying states of readyness in the planned launch rotation cycle.

Is it really necessary to be so snide and flippant about this?



So much for discussion, now for some speculation.

The piece of fuel tank insulation I saw in the video clip was in my estimation the size of a volkswagon. (Ron Dittmore, asked "what size was the piece" has already twiced dodged the size question. Yesterday he sidestepped it by seperating the question into two parts, answering the first "yes the piece was a concern and "forgetting" the part regarding size. Then today asked again, directly, the size question he flatly stonewalled with the answer "Talk to our public relations people" If there is no smoking gun to be found here, there is a lying man on the run with a consciosness of guilt to be found. (voice stress analysis)) It knocked a patch of tiles about the size of a car hood loose or off of the wing. The forces of of reentry tore at the weakened area and eventually tore off the wing. The vehicle rolled to the left and yawed to the right tearing off the other wing, the tail fin and breaking the fussilage in half.

Well, it's nice to know we don't have to spend all that time and money on an exhaustive investigation -- SAMU has it all figured out.

I hope the real investigators aren't so quick to jump to conclusions.

Hale_Bopp
2003-Feb-03, 02:40 AM
Here is a Miami Herald article about Don Nelson who is mentioned above.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/special_packages/shuttle/5085982.htm

Rob

sarongsong
2003-Feb-03, 02:52 AM
"A San Francisco amateur astronomer who photographs the space shuttles whenever their orbits carry them over the Bay Area has captured five strange and provocative images of the shuttle Columbia just as it was re-entering the Earth's atmosphere before dawn Saturday...what appear to be bright electrical phenomena flashing around the track of the shuttle's passage...asked not to be identified, will not make them public immediately..."
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/02/02/MN221641.DTL

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-03, 03:19 AM
SFGate.com also had this article.

Could NASA have pulled an `Armageddon'-style space rescue? (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/02/02/national1602EST0561.DTL). It has a lot of the rescue scenarios that have been mentioned here and elsewhere.

Kizarvexis

Irishman
2003-Feb-03, 05:12 AM
I meant to comment before. I saw Story Musgrave (former astronaut of some notoriety) last night on CNN. He was asked about the insulation impact and tile damage, and something about the evaluation of that by NASA. His response was that he didn't have the technical information on that and would not comment. Good response.

SAMU said:

The shuttle is one of the most inspected objects made by man. Before launch, that is. After launch it seems to be handled like a paper airplane. Toss it off, cross your fingers, stick your head where the sun don't shine and "hope for the best"( quote: Ron Dittmore NASA Shuttle Program Manager 2/1/03).

I'm not sure I like your characterization here, or what you're implying. You seem to be saying that there's a careless attitude regarding shuttle after it takes off. If so, you are very mistaken. Safety has the utmost regard at NASA (certainly post-Challenger). The quote "hope for the best" is accurate, but only because there is no alternative. They can't pull off to the side of the road if there's a problem. They can't get a tow home if something breaks down. There is only one way home.

You seem to think there's something wrong with the NASA approach. Why is it wrong? What do you think they should do differently? Do you understand the concept of "mitigated risk"?


It is hardly impossible and not really much more of an expense to hold each launch until the next vehicle in the rotation is "refurbished" within 15 to 30 days (the limits of the shuttles consumables) of miniumum launch capability.

You do not understand the logistics of shuttle flight preparation. Your view is naive and uninformed. Schedule juggling to send the orbiters through processing is complex, especially when they are being cycled through inspection/refurbishment. And it ignores scheduling the missions against ISS needs. Certain elements of payload installation have to be performed at certain stages of processing, for access and such. Then there's the precision of planning going into balance and weight on each flight, the flight profile, the orbital dynamics concerns. Even assuming you had your shuttle with all avionics runs completed and such and were installing the payload elements, it would be a logistic nightmare of inconceivable proportions to take it out of the flow and rush it to the pad to launch on an emergency profile you cobble up at the last minute, with incomplete and/or inaccurage center of gravity and weight numbers.

The only reason it is mentioned as an outside possibility in this case is because the shuttle was almost ready for rollout. That means all the weight and cg issues were known. The flight profile and launch windows and such would still have needed recalculating, but the scope was more reasonable. But it would not be practical to schedule launches around having a second orbiter ready (or almost ready) for launch. You would then find yourself having orbiters spend long perionds of time sitting on the pad waiting. First waiting as the previous orbiter launches, then waiting until the next orbiter is ready. Not sensible.


(Ron Dittmore, asked "what size was the piece" has already twiced dodged the size question. Yesterday he sidestepped it by seperating the question into two parts, answering the first "yes the piece was a concern and "forgetting" the part regarding size. Then today asked again, directly, the size question he flatly stonewalled with the answer "Talk to our public relations people" If there is no smoking gun to be found here, there is a lying man on the run with a consciosness of guilt to be found. (voice stress analysis))

Now you're bordering on libel. These men are going overboard to provide every detail of information as fast as they can get it, and you're still accusing them of stonewalling and lying? You're unbelievable. Voice stress analysis is supposed to show what, that he's undergoing stress? DUH!!!! He's top dog on the show where seven people died on his watch. And he's had little sleep for the last 3 days. Remember, he went to work midnight Friday night, and probably hasn't slept much since then. And even someone innocent of wrongdoing feels guilty when someone dies around them.

As for the "talk to our PR folks" part, the question was about specific number information that he didn't have in front of him. However, the PR folks are getting that information as soon as it comes in. Talk to the PR folks, because they already have it and I don't. Simple, straight-forward, no evasion, and providing the information that was asked for. How in the world is that being evasive, when it is providing the answer?!?!?!?!?

You're expecting him to have every detail on flash cards in front of him or something. And that he can't ramble off the top of his head that one of the pieces found was 5 ft 7.4 inches by 3 ft 1.25 in by 6.27 in somehow means he's avoiding something? How ridiculous can you be? (Maybe I shouldn't ask that.)

Jay, I see your emphasis now. Thanks for clarifying what you meant.

SpacedOut said:

I just saw a Mr. Don Nelson (former NASA?) on Dateline stating that he personally told NASA that there would be a catastrophic failure of an orbiter and he wanted to reduce crew size to reduce risk and also wanted to automate the shuttles and put the crew of 4 in “escape modules”. HE was asked what NASA’s reaction was and he basically said he was forced out.

I don't know anything about Don Nelson. Guessing there would be a catastrophic accident with the shuttle does not take a genius - I think we all on some level knew it was possible. Just listen to what many of us are saying now - they knew the risks, but chose to go anyway; 2 losses in 113 missions is a good record; etc. What exactly does it mean that he said there would be a catastrophic incident? What specifics did he offer? Anything as specific as the o-ring in cold weather problem with Challenger, or just a general "things are bad"?

Not sure what to make of his recommendations. "Escape modules" would be a very expensive refit of the orbiters - far more expensive and complex than the escape system that was installed post Challenger, though probably more reliable/useful. They would also impact weight. The tradeoff might be acceptable, but that would be a serious debate. As for the crew reduction in size, that would reduce the usefulness of each shuttle flight. Might or might not be a reasonable policy decision. Again, a topic for serious evaluation. What about being "forced out"? NASA takes safety seriously, but doesn't care for fearmongering. It's one thing to voice safety concerns, and even suggest policy recommendations. It's quite another to be difficult about policy decisions that have been made, and refuse to cooperate.

Let me be clear: I know nothing about the specifics of his situation. I do not know whether my descriptions above are an accurate description of his case. I am speaking generally.


Based on this afternoon’s briefing (Sun 2/2/03) it looks like the nexus of the telemetry problems is the left main landing gear compartment. Could this have indeed been a structural or design flaw? Columbia was the oldest and heaviest of the fleet (considerably heavier in its early life) and therefore put more stress on the structure during landing. Also, did it make a significantly more landings at Edwards on the lakebed than the other orbiters?

Could it have been design flaw? Depends on what you mean. I suppose so, but 111 flown missions plus a drop tests, ground tests, etc tend to suggest that isn't the case. Life cycling due to age? Perhaps. I'm sure NASA is considering that. Right now they're figuring out what the evidence is. They'll be looking at where the evidence takes them, and trying to look at all possibilities.

As for landing at Edwards, what is that supposed to mean? You think it sits down on the lakebed any harder than landing on a concrete runway? Or do you think the lakebed runway is rougher in some manner? What is your proposal for how that makes a difference?

The landing gear compartment is on the bottom of the shuttle, rear gear is in two sets - left and right. Each is under the wing right about under the line where the top of the fuselage meets the wings. I looked for a diagram, but this is the best I came up with.
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/reference/basics/orbiter/index.html

Lexx_Luthor
2003-Feb-03, 05:37 AM
"A San Francisco amateur astronomer who photographs the space shuttles whenever their orbits carry them over the Bay Area has captured five strange...

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/02/02/MN221641.DTL


I saw that. And it made me wonder if in the future NASA will film the re~entry of upcoming missions either from the surface (land/sea) or from aircraft stationed above overcast (call them "chase planes" if you absolutely must /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif ).

Anyway, I have no idea what to make of the short article.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-03, 06:38 AM
I just saw a Mr. Don Nelson (former NASA?) on Dateline ...
Can anyone tell me who this person is and what was his position in NASA was?

Don A. Nelson retired from NASA in 1999 after 36 years. He was a mission planner for the first rendezvous, for Apollo 11, and for STS-1. He spent the last 11 years evaluating proposed advanced space transportation systems.

Basically he suggested replacing the current crew module with an LES-capable one. This had been suggested back in 1986 following the Challenger accident. It's impractical because the weight of such a system would have shifted the vehicle's center of mass unacceptably forward.

Nelson countered that if the human pilot equipment were removed, this would save enough weight to implement a launch-escape module. When NASA naturally objected to this, Nelson accused NASA of putting political and ego concerns of the pilots ahead of crew safety -- i.e., that the only reason any manual flight controls were provided was to appease the egos of the pilots who flew the shuttle; that everything could and should be automated.

Nelson seems to have interpreted the rejection of his idea as evidence that NASA "wasn't interested in safety." He seems to overlook the gaping holes and handwaving in his proposals.

From my perspective, having some experience in flight control systems, a manned vehicle with no capacity for manual pilot override is just about the stupidest thing I can think of. Nelson seems to think the shuttle would be safer if there were no opportunity for "pilot error."

I my opinion the shuttle can't fulfill its mission without human pilot capability. And I don't believe the human pilot equipment weighs all that much anyway.

Most importantly, his suggestion wouldn't have helped the Columbia crew. His suggestion for an ejectable crew module would have helped only during launch. Unless it was provided with its own heat shield system it wouldn't have survived re-entry at Mach 18.

I don't think he's just out for his 15 minutes of fame. I think he's just somewhat deluded about the practicality of his suggestions and misguided about why people rejected them.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-03, 06:58 AM
I'm not sure I like your characterization here, or what you're implying. You seem to be saying that there's a careless attitude regarding shuttle after it takes off.

I don't like SAMU's insinuations either. It seems he's one of the people intent on finding culpability whether it's there or not.

We pay firefighters to mitigate the fire risk in our communities and save lives in dangerous circumstances. Death and injury is part of that business, no matter how well we train the firefighters and provide them with equipment. Same with police: we send them after dangerous criminals and accept that some of them will die in those confrontations. Unfortunate, but it's part of the job.

Astronauts have high-risk jobs.

I don't know anything about Don Nelson.

I was able to dig up some information on his prior proposals to NASA management. See below.

Don Nelson is correct in principle, but there's another side to the story.

I think we all on some level knew it was possible.

I was reflecting earlier today on how many re-entry scares we've had since the beginning of manned space flight. In my hindsighted opinion it was only a matter of time before an re-entry went bad.

Life cycling due to age? Perhaps.

I highly doubt it. The airframes were designed for 100 missions. That includes engineering expertise on structural fatigue. Columbia was still very young.

sarongsong
2003-Feb-03, 07:05 AM
Scalar "activity"?
"In the 1930's Tesla announced other bizarre and terrible weapons: a death ray, a weapon to destroy hundreds or even thousands of aircraft at hundreds of miles range, and his ultimate weapon to end all war - - the Tesla shield, which nothing could penetrate..."
http://216.247.92.101/pub/bearden/examples.htm

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-03, 12:41 PM
Hale_Bopp and Jay – Thanks for the information of Don Nelson. I only caught a bit of his interview on dateline. My take on his “recommendations” was the same as yours Jay, interesting idea but probably not practical and not fully thought out. I can’t think of anything short of a mini space capsule that could have survived an ejection at mach 18+/-. Forgetting heating, could such a system be designed to protect the occupant from massive G forces no matter from what attitude the ejection happened?

Irishman and Jay – My thoughts concerning the landing gear were as follows:
A heaver craft would put more stress on the support structure of the gear therefore any structural problem associated with the gear would probably show up first on Columbia. As to the landings at Edwards, my thoughts were about the roughness of the lakebed putting more stress on the orbiter as opposed to smooth concrete.

The reason I was looking for where the landing gear is positioned is I didn’t know where the compartment was in relation to the leading edge of the wing. I am trying to tie together the possible damage to the leading edge of the wing by debris to the anomalies that appear to have been happening in or near the wheel well.

Argos
2003-Feb-03, 01:06 PM
On 2003-02-02 14:35, Argos wrote:


On 2003-02-02 05:36, Irishman wrote:

(...)Then the nose cants to one side, say right. This puts the orbiter into a glide to the right. After a while, the nose is yawed back to the left, making a turn. The path then glides to the left. This back and forth, back and forth sends the orbiter into an S shaped glide path. Yes, there are turns. The side to side motion helps slow the orbiter down.


How is it done? By the aerodynamic control surfaces? By gyros?


I´d like to know how Shuttle performs the S-turns in descent. Are the control surfaces activated or the turns are made by other means (rockets, gyros)? Does anybody know?

I couldn´t find the info, so I resort to you fellows. Thanks in advance.

Zathras
2003-Feb-03, 05:26 PM
The NY Times is now reporting that NASA let go 5 out of 9 members of a safety advisory panel on the shuttle last year when they stated that the shuttle budget needed to be increased for safety reasons. This was public knowledge before, but more revealing now.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/03/national/03NASA.html
(free registration req'd).

A quote from the article:


The panel's most recent report, which came out last March and included analyses by the six departed members, warned that work on long-term shuttle safety "had deteriorated." Tight budgets, it said, were forcing an emphasis on short-term planning and adding to a backlog of planned improvements. The report called for sweeping change.

"I have never been as worried for space shuttle safety as I am right now," Dr. Richard D. Blomberg, the panel's chairman, told Congress in April. "All of my instincts suggest that the current approach is planting the seeds for future danger."

His worry, he continued, "is not for the present flight or the next or perhaps the one after that." He added, "One of the roots of my concern is that nobody will know for sure when the safety margin has been eroded too far." He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Argos
2003-Feb-03, 11:42 PM
On 2003-02-03 08:06, Argos wrote:


On 2003-02-02 14:35, Argos wrote:


On 2003-02-02 05:36, Irishman wrote:

(...)Then the nose cants to one side, say right. This puts the orbiter into a glide to the right. After a while, the nose is yawed back to the left, making a turn. The path then glides to the left. This back and forth, back and forth sends the orbiter into an S shaped glide path. Yes, there are turns. The side to side motion helps slow the orbiter down.


How is it done? By the aerodynamic control surfaces? By gyros?


I´d like to know how Shuttle performs the S-turns in descent. Are the control surfaces activated or the turns are made by other means (rockets, gyros)? Does anybody know?

I couldn´t find the info, so I resort to you fellows. Thanks in advance.


Disconsider this, folks. Now I see Irishman answered it perfectly above. Thank you, Irishman. :embarassed:

Tomblvd
2003-Feb-04, 12:22 AM
Unfortunately I think we have only seen the beginnings of the conspiracy theories. Here is a picture supposedly of the left wing of the shuttle, this is from an Israeli newspaper (http://images.maariv.co.il/cache/NP_0.html?1044318354700) and is a vidcap from a talk that occurred between the Israeli astronaut and the Prime Minister of Israel:



http://images.maariv.co.il/images//news2/columbia0302034.jpghttp://images.maariv.co.il/images/general_maariv/iton03-FEB-03.jpg



Obviously, it isn't a picture of the wing, and I'm not sure that the picture hasn't been doctored.

Anybody have any ideas?

g99
2003-Feb-04, 12:30 AM
Top right looks just like a shadow and a change in the angle of the hull of the ship. No crack or dent to me.

The second i have no clue. Maybe just a hair on the lens? Or doctored. If you look at the lower left detail of the lower left red circle, the crack looks like it was doctored. It looks to be a difference around the crack from the skin colour and the color of the crack. Like someone tried to asccurately hide the photoshop work, but not good enought. It also looks like a strait line border between the real hull and the supposed doctored crack. But this could just be aspects from blowing up the photo.

grover
2003-Feb-04, 12:47 AM
Every time someone asks why the Columbia didn't just fly to the ISS, it's rapidly shot down by "bah, it's impossible!" or "the Columbia didn't have the delta-V". While I have no doubt this is true under normal circumstances and a a 1° inclanation deviation is all the orbital thrusters can manage during a routine mission, I can't help but think that the bingo fuel reserved for de-orbit burn could have made a difference. So, my question boils down to simple physics: how much energy does it take to change orbits? The ISS is at 208nm at an inclination of 51°. The columbia was at 150nm and 39°. Rendezvous is by no means trivial, but de-orbit burn is 3.5 minutes worth of fuel, which is an awful lot: how much could they change their orbit with another 3.5 minutes of fuel? If they investigated the damage right away, jettisoned the experimental module, and used their 2 weeks of supplies to match orbits with the ISS, would it be possible? If not, how close might they be able to get?

I've hear a lot of "besides" excuses too- like they columbia being unable to dock with the ISS and the ISS being unable to support 10 people. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the astronauts pressure suits allow them to survive in vacuum? Both the Columbia and ISS have airlocks- there is no need to dock. And Columbia might not have umbilicals, but the ISS does. The ISS could also send over suits which, though ill-fitting, would work. They're not exactly going to be working for hours, so the lack of heating/cooling in the ascent/descent pressure suits shouldn't be fatal.

I don't buy the "ISS can only support 7 people- they'de all die if 10 were there!" argument either- water reclemation, power and CO2 scrubbers would be taxed, but a 30% overcapacity is certainly not enough to cause instant death to everyone on board. Oxygen and other consumables would be consumed faster, but 5 months of supplies for 3 will still last 10 long enough to get another cargo ship and some more escape pods up. Even if it were critical, there would still be working resources on the columbia and soyuz.

Anywho, I was mostly curious on the actual orbital mechanics involved in changing orbits /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

tekgiz
2003-Feb-04, 12:52 AM
Even a marginally skilled engineer can quickly gestimate the cost of an 'escape capsule' that would give the crew of a space shuttle a signifigantly higher chance of survival than the shuttle itself would, given the dynamic range and extreme conditions the shuttle is subject to; You likely wouldn't be able to get the vehicle off the ground with current launch technology, and certainly wouldn't be able to achieve any orbit...It would be like Alan Sheppards ride into space...90 miles up, and 300 down range. The shuttle is it's own best emergency capsule.

DALeffler
2003-Feb-04, 10:41 AM
So, my question boils down to simple physics: how much energy does it take to change orbits?

Plane changes are extremely fuel expensive.

A very rough Hohmann Orbit Calculator (http://home.att.net/~ntdoug/smplhmn.html) shows that Columbia would have needed the equivalent of about 1.6 km/second of additional velocity change (delta v) to have changed it's original orbit by 12 degrees.

That's enough delta v to have simply raised Columbia's original orbit by something close to 4000 km.

And you kind of answered your own question: if the shuttles can already change thier orbit planes by 1 degree, then we kinna know that it will take more than 12 times thier current load of fuel to change thier orbit 12 degrees - they'll need fuel just to push that much fuel around...

If the ISS is were going to be used as a safe haven for shuttles that can't return to Earth, the shuttle would almost have to be docked to the station in the first place...

edited display syntax...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DALeffler on 2003-02-04 05:46 ]</font>

kucharek
2003-Feb-04, 10:51 AM
One has to keep in mind that the de-orbit burn doesn't change very much the orbit. It just lowers the perigeum enough to intersect the atmosphere. The fact that a small velocity change seems to change the orbit a lot just comes from the fact that we measure height above ground. But to be exact, we have to look at height about center of the earth. And then the change is from some 6630km to some 6470km.

Harald

John Kierein
2003-Feb-04, 01:50 PM
One might think a new mission rule could be made to require the shuttle to roll to the "top" of the ET, so that any debris from the tank would fall away from the shuttle, but this would be pretty hard to do. As soon as the launchers gain speed the wind velocity dominates gravity,especially for light stuff like the SOFI.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-04, 02:28 PM
The slipstream at that speed is more of a factor than gravity. And the heads-down arrangement is necessary for fuel flow.

John Kierein
2003-Feb-04, 02:54 PM
Are you sure about this? I doubt that a heads down is required for fuel flow. The shuttle flies above the ET before the ET is dropped off. I think so anyhow.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: John Kierein on 2003-02-04 09:56 ]</font>

Doodler
2003-Feb-04, 04:07 PM
I thought the first roll maneuver put the shuttle under the ET?

johnwitts
2003-Feb-04, 11:30 PM
I've suggested this on another board... What if all Shuttle missions were launched so that they rendezvoused with the ISS. They wouldn't need to dock, but they would be within sight of a safe haven if one became necessary. The station could give the orbiter a once over and it wouldn't affect the science on the non ISS missions. The thing is there, may as well be useful...

grover
2003-Feb-05, 12:15 AM
On 2003-02-04 05:41, DALeffler wrote:
So, my question boils down to simple physics: how much energy does it take to change orbits?

Plane changes are extremely fuel expensive.

A very rough Hohmann Orbit Calculator (http://home.att.net/~ntdoug/smplhmn.html) shows that Columbia would have needed the equivalent of about 1.6 km/second of additional velocity change (delta v) to have changed it's original orbit by 12 degrees.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DALeffler on 2003-02-04 05:46 ]</font>
Thanks!! That really helped me solve this little problem to my own satisfaction.

It would take a velocity impulse of 1653m/s to change orbit of 150nm at 39° inclination to the ISS's orbit of 208nm at 51° inclination.

The Columbia weights 159,315lbs dry. Assuming they jettison and experimental module and anything else they can get rid of, I'm assuming a moderate mass in orbit of 80,000kg. (If it came out close, I'd go back and estimate closer, but it turns out not to matter)

The two Orbital Maneuvering Thrusters each put out 6,000lbs of thrust. We know de-orbit burn lasts 3.5 minutes, so I'm using that as the baseline of the thrust availible. F=ma, v=at, and we find we've only given the shuttle 100m/s impulse- a far cry from the 1653m/s needed to get to the ISS.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: grover on 2003-02-04 19:17 ]</font>

JayUtah
2003-Feb-05, 12:36 AM
Plane changes in low orbit are more expensive than in higher orbit. That's why, when we launch communication satellites, the plane change happens at the end.

I answered John Witts' question in the forum where he asked it, but the answers are applicable here too.

First, the ISS is in a high-inclination orbit. Getting to a high-inclination orbit is more fuel-intensive.

Second, any rendezvous mission gives you only one launch window a day. (Theoretically there are two, but you can't launch the shuttle on a southerly trajectory.) That window is only five minutes wide at the most. That adds additional pressure to the launch and this may result in taking greater chances to meet the window on any given day. And if you miss the window, you have to detank all the fuel and start over again the next day. Very expensive and gruelling on the crew. With a more relaxed launch window you can often recycle back to the 20-minute GLS entry point and launch the same day without detanking.

Third, sometimes there are other rendezvous constraints. The HST, for example, is in the "natural" KSC orbit. You can't simultaneously rendezvous with the HST and provide to rendezvous with the ISS later without lots and lots of fuel.

daver
2003-Feb-05, 01:17 AM
On 2003-02-04 18:30, johnwitts wrote:
I've suggested this on another board... What if all Shuttle missions were launched so that they rendezvoused with the ISS. They wouldn't need to dock, but they would be within sight of a safe haven if one became necessary. The station could give the orbiter a once over and it wouldn't affect the science on the non ISS missions. The thing is there, may as well be useful...


This probably would have been more feasible if we hadn't banked so much on Russian cooperation on the ISS. We increased the inclination of the station to make it easier for the Russians to launch to it, but harder for us. Columbia was the heaviest orbiter, it would have the hardest time launching into the ISS' inclination.

Having a man-tended mini-station (solar power array and an ion booster) with cameras and whatnot in a low-inclination, relatively low-altitude orbit seems like a nice idea in retrospect.

daver
2003-Feb-05, 01:27 AM
On 2003-02-04 19:15, grover wrote:


On 2003-02-04 05:41, DALeffler wrote:
So, my question boils down to simple physics: how much energy does it take to change orbits?

Plane changes are extremely fuel expensive.

A very rough Hohmann Orbit Calculator (http://home.att.net/~ntdoug/smplhmn.html) shows that Columbia would have needed the equivalent of about 1.6 km/second of additional velocity change (delta v) to have changed it's original orbit by 12 degrees.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DALeffler on 2003-02-04 05:46 ]</font>
Thanks!! That really helped me solve this little problem to my own satisfaction.

It would take a velocity impulse of 1653m/s to change orbit of 150nm at 39° inclination to the ISS's orbit of 208nm at 51° inclination.

The Columbia weights 159,315lbs dry. Assuming they jettison and experimental module and anything else they can get rid of, I'm assuming a moderate mass in orbit of 80,000kg. (If it came out close, I'd go back and estimate closer, but it turns out not to matter)

The two Orbital Maneuvering Thrusters each put out 6,000lbs of thrust. We know de-orbit burn lasts 3.5 minutes, so I'm using that as the baseline of the thrust availible. F=ma, v=at, and we find we've only given the shuttle 100m/s impulse- a far cry from the 1653m/s needed to get to the ISS.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: grover on 2003-02-04 19:17 ]</font>


I posted this, but it seems to have gotten lost. It looks (if i didn't mess up in my math) as if delta V to go from one circular orbit to another is going to be roughly v * h / (4R), where v is your current orbital velocity, h is the change in altitude, R is the radius of your orbit. So for h = 80, R = 4000, v = 5 (deorbit burn) you get a delta v of about 0.1 miles/second. Delta v for a 12 degree inclination change is about 1 mile/second.

Your numbers are about a factor of 2 off of this estimate, but we essentially agree that Columbia lacked enough delta V by an order of magnitude.

johnwitts
2003-Feb-05, 01:28 AM
Thanks Jay. Again!

Squink
2003-Feb-05, 02:54 AM
http://www.ktvu.com/news/1957283/detail.html
This story which covers Beasley's observations in CA got me wondering about the brightness of the falling objects. Does anyone have an idea of what size an object moving at ~5.8 km/sec would have to be in order to be visible in daylight ?

Mokele Mbembe
2003-Feb-05, 04:57 AM
IT doesn't really matter... it wasn't daylight in Cal yet.

They showed the video shot of Columbia over Cal in the news... there looked to be some small pieces of debris left behind - I couldn't tell for sure.

But the sky was dark. at 6:45 in Cal (I think that was the time), the sun hadn't come up yet.

Orlando
2003-Feb-05, 06:10 AM
I have a question to ask you all,
I enjoy reading your comments and
insight, but never wrote before.

I got to ask , can the weather effect
the ET foam insulation ?

It was cold(30's), raining days before
Columbia was launch.

lpetrich
2003-Feb-05, 06:33 AM
There is a certain difficulty.

The Shuttle must transmit its main-engine thrust to the ET, and the best way to do that is to push against that tank. Meaning that the Shuttle will inevitably be downstream of the ET.

So there's no way to escape that.

sarongsong
2003-Feb-05, 08:27 AM
"...But the sky was dark. at 6:45 in Cal (I think that was the time), the sun hadn't come up yet..."
Sky wasn't dark at that altitude---watched clear blue sky on TV coverage as event unfolded, indeed it was already getting light here in San Diego at 6 AM---eery how pin-drop silent the commentators suddenly remained as it slowly but surely sank in what the camera was telling us.

SAMU
2003-Feb-05, 09:11 AM
Let me hit the nail on the head and ask for some speculation on this.

Given that a shuttle has damage that certainly dooms it on reentry. And that it possible to:

At a cost of 100 million dollars per rescue plus an increase of 20% of the program budget to maintain a rescue/repair capability that will give the astronauts a 98% chance of rescue and a 50% chance of vehicle repair/recovery with a 2% chance of loss of both vehicles.

Would that be too much to "risk" to save an otherwise certainly doomed mission?

David Hall
2003-Feb-05, 01:09 PM
Another point about shuttle/ISS rendevous orbits is that you need a docking ring to actually couple with the station. If you carry one on every mission, you're taking space and weight away from more productive activities. If you leave it out, then there's no reason to be in a rendevous orbit in the first place.

traztx
2003-Feb-05, 03:48 PM
On the rescue ideas:

What about a robotic rescue satellite that was kept in orbit and had enough fuel to go get the crew and take them home?

Is there a type of fuel and equipment that can last for decades in orbit? The re-entry part would need to be well protected against damage over the years, of course.

I'm guessing that it would cost a lot over time to keep a ground-based system ready, but I don't really know.

DALeffler
2003-Feb-05, 03:53 PM
Are you sure about this? I doubt that a heads down is required for fuel flow. The shuttle flies above the ET before the ET is dropped off. I think so anyhow.

STS-87 (http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/sts-87/mission-sts-87.html)

Scroll down to Launch:


This launch was the first to use a "heads-up" maneuver which has the SSME's automatically rotate the orbiter from belly-up to belly-down approximately 6 minutes after liftoff. This procedure will be used on all future low inclination (due East) launches. It allows the orbiter to communicate 2.5 minutes sooner with the space based tracking and data relay network (TDRS) system and eliminates the need for the Bermuda tracking station.

I'd thought I'd read this somewheres...

Doug.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DALeffler on 2003-02-05 10:55 ]</font>

DStahl
2003-Feb-06, 03:15 AM
Maybe this has been mentioned on another thread, but I haven't seen it and a couple of guys at work have been wondering about the details of the escape mechanism that was worked out after the Challenger accident. What is it, and how does it work?

obiwankanathan
2003-Feb-06, 04:57 AM
This is of the top of my head, and I don't know much about the escape system, but I think that it's basically a bailout system like something you would use when parachuting out of a plane. So the only time you could use it would be during launch and right before landing.

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-06, 02:14 PM
I don't think the bailout could be accomplished during launch. You'd hit the wing, then get engulfed in the plumes from the SRBs. Not a good day.

However, in the case of an aborted liftoff, if the lander couldn't make it to the ground safely for some reason, you could still bail out once you got back under 20,000 ft or so.

It would be a rare set of circumstances that kept the orbiter intact until after SRB separation, prevented continuing to orbit, and precluded a safe emergency landing... but they had to do something after Challenger, and parachutes don't weigh much.

daver
2003-Feb-06, 05:47 PM
On 2003-02-06 09:14, Donnie B. wrote:
I don't think the bailout could be accomplished during launch. You'd hit the wing, then get engulfed in the plumes from the SRBs. Not a good day.

However, in the case of an aborted liftoff, if the lander couldn't make it to the ground safely for some reason, you could still bail out once you got back under 20,000 ft or so.

It would be a rare set of circumstances that kept the orbiter intact until after SRB separation, prevented continuing to orbit, and precluded a safe emergency landing... but they had to do something after Challenger, and parachutes don't weigh much.



In event of a failure during lift-off (two or more main engines shutdown) you wait until the SRBs shutdown. If you don't have enough energy to make it to one of the trans-atlantic abort points, you get to ditch. Ditching with a payload is almost certainly non-surviveable, so you bail out. Pre-Challenger, they ditched anyway. Post-Challenger, they have a bail-out pole. They stick the pole out the door into the slipstream and slide out down the pole. The pole is supposed to keep them from running into the wing or tail. I don't think the pole would be useful during landing--maybe if you found one of the landing gear didn't descend. But by that point i think you're too low to bailout.

I was wondering this morning about a belts and suspenders approach to reentry. Tiles on top of an ablative heat shield. Obvious weight penalty, potentially a problem attaching the tiles to the heat shield. And its not clear if the heat shield would ablate properly if only some of the tiles were missing. Oh well, it was a thought.

SiriMurthy
2003-Feb-06, 06:07 PM
Guys, please help me understand.

OK, we know that NASA was aware of the fact that something (sheet of ice or foam insulation or something else) came loose during the lift off and hit the left wing.

After detailed analysis NASA engineers concluded that it was not a problem whatever it is would not lead to catastrophic failures.

Here are my questions:

1. Could we have used some powerful earth based telescopes to inspect the underside of the shuttle? (I am aware that the shuttle will be travelling quite fast wrt ground. But, is it possible to use an Earth based scope?)

2. Since ISS and the shuttle were in different orbits, could we have inspected (I am not sure if they have telescopes or binocs aboard ISS) the shuttle from ISS for damages?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SiriMurthy on 2003-02-06 13:10 ]</font>

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-06, 06:19 PM
On 2003-02-06 13:07, SiriMurthy wrote:
Guys, please help me understand.

OK, we know that NASA was aware of the fact that something (sheet of ice or foam insulation or something else) came loose during the lift off and hit the left wing.

After detailed analysis NASA engineers concluded that it was not a problem whatever it is would not lead to catastrophic failures.

Here are my questions:

1. Could we have used some powerful earth based telescopes to inspect the underside of the shuttle? (I am aware that the shuttle will be travelling quite fast wrt ground. But, is it possible to use an Earth based scope?)

2. Since ISS and the shuttle were in different orbits, could we have inspected (I am not sure if they have telescopes or binocs aboard ISS) the shuttle from ISS for damages?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SiriMurthy on 2003-02-06 13:10 ]</font>

These have been addressed in other threads, but...
1) Yes, it could have been imaged by both ground and space-based (spy satellite) telescopes. This was done at least once, on Columbia's very first mission. However, it's doubtful whether this would have yielded any definitive diagnosis, since the maximum resolution would have been on the order of a couple inches (appx 5cm).
2) No, it was impossible to get Columbia close enough to the ISS for visual inspection.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-06, 06:19 PM
Tiles on top of an ablative heat shield.

Those kinds of suggestions are rippling through the industry: better tile material, a solid tile surface, heat-shield shrouds for launch, supplementary layers, heat sinks.

Each of these solutions has attendant advantages and penalties. Depending on the solution, weight penalties are irrelevant; STS almost never carries its maximum payload. It would simply make the system more expensive to operate. It would also, ironically, make it more difficult to land normally.

Although from an engineering standpoint there may not be any real need to fix the tile system, from a public relations and public policy standpoint it may be inevitable. What I fear most is a change effected to placate the public while offering no real advantage and complicating the common, normal case -- sort of like I.D. checks at the airport in the wake of 9/11.

NASA is questioning the theory that launch debris is the "root cause" of the accident. Obviously we'll have to see their engineering assessment prior to agreeing or disagreeing, but from the lay public's point of view this is a hard sell. The media are notorious for latching onto a specific theory and holding onto it tenaciously even if the data suggest otherwise. So we can't be unduly influenced by enhanced slo-mo foam impacts.

But you have to admit there's something suspcious about a heat shield impact right where the problem occurred later in the flight. Sure, we have to consider things like on-orbit debris hits, but parsimony is still in our tool belt. We have proof positive of an impact, and no proof yet of anything else. That makes "anything else" automatically a less likely conclusion.

NASA appears to be sticking to its guns about the original post-launch assessment that found little cause for concern over the debris hit. Obviously that assessment will -- and should -- come under intense scrutiny.

We should also be looking for mixed-mode failures, which are the most common in aerospace. A mixed-mode failure is where two or more factors, each of which is relatively insignificant, combine to amplify the danger. Challenger was a mixed-mode failure (design flaw + weather + inappropriate test procedures). Apollo 13 was a mixed-mode failure (design flaw + manufacturing flaw + ground operation error).

DaveC
2003-Feb-06, 06:20 PM
On 2003-02-06 13:07, SiriMurthy wrote:
1. Could we have used some powerful earth based telescopes to inspect the underside of the shuttle?


No - there just isn't a telescope on Earth that powerful - assuming we might be looking for someting as small as a loose or slightly displaced tile. And if there were a telescope that powerful, it would be very difficult to track the movement of the shuttle which passes from horizon to horizon in about 5 minutes.



2. Since ISS and the shuttle were in different orbits, could we have inspected (I am not sure if they have telescopes or binocs aboard ISS) the shuttle from ISS for damages?


Probably not. I don't think they simultaneously occupied a region of space small enough to make such an observation possible. Because the orbits were on different planes, there's some of the same relative velocity issue you'd have with earth based observations.

Added by edit:

Darn, Donnie B. you beat me to the answer. I thought you were busy calculating Pi! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: DaveC on 2003-02-06 13:24 ]</font>

joema
2003-Feb-06, 06:31 PM
Launching each shuttle to an ISS-reachable orbit would cut the shuttle payload by huge amount. I've seen numbers around 14000 lbs penalty. This due to the higher altitude, but mainly the higher orbital inclination.

The max payload any post-Challeger shuttle has lifted is about 44000 lbs, so going to an ISS-type orbit would cost you roughly 33% of your payload capacity. In Columbia's case I'm pretty sure it couldn't have reached this orbit while carrying the SpaceLab payload. For details on payload weights, see http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/reference/green/sumcarg.pdf

For details on shuttle abort modes see http://www.theandyzone.com/launchzone/default.htm

DStahl
2003-Feb-06, 09:58 PM
Guys, thanks for the replies on the bailout system. I'll pass it on to the guys at the plant.

It strikes me that the shuttle astronauts--all astronauts, for that matter--place themselves in much the same position as polar explorers like Robert Scott and alpinists like Reinholdt Meissner. If something goes wrong in a blizzard at 27,000 feet on Everest, immediate rescue may be just as impossible as it would be for a disabled shuttle. As much as our consciences and emotions might insist that there must be something we could have done, the real world is not obliged to provide us with such a possiblity.

Not to say that looking again at escape pods, on-call rescue vehicles, and other options is a bad thing! I just note that some of the boldest human endeavors are those carried out with no possibility of a safety net.

g99
2003-Feb-06, 10:35 PM
I saw a brief Clip on CNN that they said that NASA is now looking at the Autopilot program and seeing if that somehow caused it. (Along with many, many other theories)


Could it of crashed by overcorrected do to a erroneous sensor reading?



speculation: Maybe the tile damaged, damaged critical sensor witres and burnt throught them. The autopilot misred the lack of information and overcorrected causing shear forces on the wind to become too much and well, you know what happened.

Doodler
2003-Feb-06, 10:39 PM
OUCH, oh that would suck... But is there an autopilot? I thought shuttles were flown in manually?

Gemstone
2003-Feb-06, 11:02 PM
This was an anonymous post on DSLREPORTS.COM... Dslreports.com is a very good site devoted to everything broadband, plus it has very good forums... But this post seemed out of place there, but it's worth a read... I'm interested to hear comments on this post from the people here...

"Orbiter Vehicle designated -102 was the first orbiter that I worked on when I signed on with Boeing at USAF Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA. I had many functions in the program, which also included Int'l Space Station (ISS) support. The accident greatly saddened me, and affected me in several different ways. Other than launch, a total TPS (thermal protection system) failure was my greatest fear, no doubt shared by others in the program."

"I know of the critical areas where heat is a concern, and the NLG and MLG (nose and main landing gear) doors are extremely critical, along with the ET doors and the area where the FRCS (forward reaction control system) meets the orbiter. Step and gap between tiles are given tight tolerances-and only in one way-aft facing.

Our biggest fear is what is known as the "zipper effect" aka the "domino effect"--effectively the theory being the loss of even one tile could result in the loss of tile adjacent and aft of it to start being "ripped" away from the structure due to extreme heat and violent airflow "stepping down" into the cavity and continuing to "tear out" other tile. Hence the interest in finding tile if it is in fact in CA and/or AZ.

The tiles are bonded to a SIP (strain isolating pad) pad with a red RTV silicone (MBO or MLO part # I do not know-I am not a tile bonder), and then once that is cured a bonder preps the cavity on the orbiter that gets filled by the tile, "wets" or "paints" the cavity with the red RTV, and bonds the tile. The process is critical in all aspects, and is controlled and inspected.

I won't go into details but I have great respect for the bonders. The tile can only be as good as the pattern created for it, but tolerance buildup and other factors come into play, and the resultant bonded tile doesn't look anything near what the pattern did. Enough about the technical aspect of the tiles.

OV-102 was a mess. We performed her OMM (orbiter maint. and mods) at Palmdale, CA, and were instructed to also search for corrosion anywhere on the orbiter. 2000 feet of convoluted tubing were inspected. A multi-function electronic display was installed. Lots of structural X-rays were taken. Redundant instrumentation was deleted. Her OMM was the longest of any, and wasn't even finished there.

A lot of discrepancies were reported to NASA, a lot of repairs and replacements occurred, but it was still incomplete. Due to time limits and mission planning, NASA wanted her returned, and USA completed the remainder of the OMM, with them calling it OMDP-2. As far as the tiles were concerned, critical tile along the ET and MLG doors were incomplete, as well as three along the C/L and where the body flap meets the ship. They were finished at KSC. OV-102 was also unique. Atop the vertical was, actually, I don't know what you would call it, but it was the only bird out of the fleet that had it. Instrumentation was housed in it. Ilan Ramon and the Israeli AF visited.

I have fond memories of the people and the vehicle-I really don't know how to describe them. To me they are now priceless. We were ultimately laid off, but USA (united space alliance) won the OMM contract. NASA however specified that some Palmdale people had to be picked up, because the KSC workforce is consisted of "turnaround" processors-most only saw what the orbiters looked like torn down when they came out and saw us during the OMM periods. So ten of us were chosen at that time and transferred to USA. March 1, 2001 was the day OV-102 left for KSC.

So I went. Alone, but with 9 other "family members", which is what best describes the Palmdale space community.

I was amazed when I got there, and started working, immediately inside OV-104, which is Atlantis. I saw several launches, which is still something I believe everyone needs to see, at least once. I saw the wrapping up of -102's OMM, and was not happy to see what was happening. They undid a lot of the Palmdale tile bonds because they claimed they were subnominal bonds--although they were BV'ed (bond verification) at the time, and obviously passed. I believe this was used to make their case to win the OMM-the decision wasn't final until well after we arrived there.

However, I had nothing to do with tile anymore, although I kept in close contact with other engineers (Boeing and USA) regarding tiles. I spent A LOT of time crawling around inside the aft of -102.

March 1st comes again, this time 2002. An absolutely beautiful predawn launch occurs, and I have a better seat to see it than any VIP, we get to be only two miles away, while the closest visitor is 3. I don't know how to describe it, but it was beautiful to see her liftoff, shift a few feet over, and then ascend. There was a bit of cloud cover just above her, and it was almost majestic to see the clouds evaporate, as if Heaven was clearing the way for her. But there was trouble. It was possible that she was going to return that day or a day later.

You may remember that there was a cooling problem? A piece of slag in a radiator was found-blamed on the initial build. It also didn't help that the PLBD (payload bay doors) were not opened as soon as they were supposed to. She stayed up, completed the mission, and I worked the night she came home. I cannot say anything in detail about her condition then.

At one point we asked for OV-102's retirement. NASA did consider the issue, but put her back in service after a $90 milllion or so OMM. Again it should tell you something that the workers involved (at least a bunch of us) asked for her to be put in a museum and a replacement built. I'll leave it at that.

I was involved in every vehicle, and there is a uniqueness to all of them. Just like every astronaut I met, who are some of the coolest and most down to earth people you meet. They are cool to work with, and very interesting to talk to over lunch at the OSB cafeteria. Rick Husband is one such example. Every single one of them is a hero to me. Not just the crew of STS-107. By the way, STS-109 was the mission -102 flew last year.In regards to the KSC tile crew, something needs to be made known to the public.

At Palmdale, everyone on the program was treated the same, and paid on a similar scale. Not so at KSC. Tile guys are considered airplane washers and paid less than their janitorial contract counterparts often. Sure, some are paid better. Most aren't. Electrical and vehicle mechanics are regarded and paid much better, with AST (adv. system tech) being the only other aspiration other than engineering. The tile guys do an excellent job, but most want to go to electrical or vehicle. It should not be this way. Everyone there should be on the same page, because it is their work that keeps the others safe when they come home. NOTE it is not determined what had happened yet, and tile workmanship is top-notch, I have seen it myself.

Last Sat a.m., I got an early phone call, but before I answered it I saw the Caller ID from a coworker at KSC-and I knew -102 was coming home. I answered it, and I was told, "turn the TV on". And my heart sank as I heard the newscaster before the screen came to. I don't even remember hanging up the phone. I was disturbed that they kept showing the breakup over and over, because they were showing seven people losing their lives.

Those seven people will never be forgotten.

I believe that we are past the point of canceling human spaceflight. We knew there would be another accident sooner or later. There's talk of building another with the insurance money. I should add something here. The orbiters were designed to perform one hundred flights within a span of twenty years. Although Boeing warrants the vehicles if maintained and modified, the wiring was only warranted for twenty years by the manufacturer. OV-102 has seen a lot of service, and a lot of stress. Especially during the first few flights where we were still learning.

The risk that is taken is that if something happens in flight, there may be the situation that nothing could be done about it. We do our best on the ground. I can vouch for that. We all saw 58-L's film (OV-99, Challenger), and know what happened. We are keenly aware of how critical our work is and how lives depend on it."

-Anonymous

sarongsong
2003-Feb-07, 02:51 AM
-----Original Message-----
From: marstar@mailshell.com [mailto:marstar@mailshell.com]
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 11:10 PM
Subject: M*: Criminal Negligence at NASA Cost US Loss of Columbia

Attention all "Friends of Apollo":

This was a terrible weekend for this pilot poignantly punctuated with the
loss of Space Shuttle Columbia.

Imagine, one of the great ironies of my life, meeting Edgar Mitchell, Apollo
14 astronaut and "Moon Walker", on Thursday night, January 30th, only to
wake up to the news of Columbia's loss 2 days later. This tragedy followed
immediately upon my cosmic collision minds with Dr. Mitchell and an entire
night of lunar research, compiling and studying Lunar Orbiter and Clementine
photos of NASA's most occulted secret...Crater Ukert.

I am writing now to demand the resignation (or firing) of the entire NASA
leadership and aerospace engineering advisers who gave their "O.K." to
attempt Columbia's fatal reentry in an obviously damaged and patently
un-aerodynamic spacecraft.

I have acquired important photographic information via NWI, News World
International, cablenews of CBC, Canada revealing the real cause for the
disaster.

These videos and photos reveal the cause of the breakup to have been a huge
gash in the shuttle's spoiler leading edge along the left wing leading edge.
This disaster is eeriely similar to the Titanic disaster. A rupture, caused
by ice and/or frozen foam, gashed the left leading edge spoiler like a rough
can opener and impacted the wing, denting it severely.

The damage suffered by Columbia 80 seconds after lift-off was not so much to
the tiles below the wing; it was damage to the spoiler and upper surface of
the left wing which led to the disaster. NASA is stonewalling and hiding
the pictures of the top of the wing but they released them to Canadian
television over 2 weeks ago (5 days after takeoff) and are historically
archived on video tape. The video shows a deep dent on the top of the left
wing and a distinct fracture in the spoiler, a long gash (about 8 to 10
inches long). This fracture rendered the spoiler disfunctional and served to
disrupt the air flow over the leading edge of the left wing, where the
concatenation of events leading to Columbia's destruction began early in
reentry, while the spaceship was still over California.

The 7 astronauts had no hope of getting back alive in that condition. NASA
blew it; the entire leadership should all be fired and NOT REWARDED with
more money for such failure. The space program must go on but under
completely new leadership.

It took this analyst no more than 2 seconds of viewing the snip of tape to
see the gash in the spoiler It is incomprehensible that NSA "aerodynamic"
engineers had the entire video for 12 days and didn't notice the crack
meandering directly through the leading edge of the spoiler from front to
back, followed by a huge dent in the wing, which propagating sideways,
buckled an adjacent panel into a "ruffle".

Aerodynamically speaking, Columbia was "a dead duck" with ZERO CHANCE OF
SUCCESSFUL RE-ENTRAY.

As I see it, Columbia's destruction was due to criminal negligence and
nearsightedness at the highest levels of NASA.

Plainly and simply: heads should roll...

The government must stop rewarding failure at NASA with "guilt money"
despite the crocodile tears appearing to well up behind Dr. Dettemore's
"coke bottle" thick glasses. Nothing could be more symbolic of endemic
myopia in the NASA leadership. Dettemore is blind to the reality of his
culpability in this catastrophe, very much like Dr. Morbius in the film
"Forbidden Planet". I reiterate the words of Captain J.J. Adams to the
misguided scientist:

"Morbius, your mind refuses to reach a conclusion!"

I will be releasing the photographs with a detailed analysis shortly.

Robert D. Morningstar
Member, U.S. Naval Institute
Federation of American Scientists
-------end of message--------------------

Squink
2003-Feb-07, 03:04 AM
Robert D. Morningstar should be taken with a grain of salt:

I am very much impressed with the work that Robert Morningstar has done in bringing fresh new ideas to the public regarding a Mars/Egyptian connection. His image of the Face on Mars as Horus the Falcon is stunning!
http://www.cyberspaceorbit.com/phikent/morningstar/morningstar.html

roidspop
2003-Feb-07, 04:08 AM
What spoilers?

sarongsong
2003-Feb-07, 06:29 AM
"Robert D. Morningstar should be taken with a grain of salt..."
Thanks, Squink; awaiting his "photos and analysis".

sarongsong
2003-Feb-07, 07:05 AM
"Spoiler" term, perhaps:

"...Because of the orbiter's delta wing configuration, the elevators and ailerons are combined as elevons and placed at the trailing edge of each wing. The orbiter's vertical stabilizer (fin) has the rudder which controls its yaw (nose left, nose right). The split-rudder on the orbiter works as a rudder and also a speed brake (found on most airplanes as a spoiler located on the wing). It does this by splitting in half vertically and opening like a book. This deflects the airflow, increases drag and decreases the orbiter's speed as it rolls along the runway upon landing..."
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/activities/aeronautics/lift.html

joema
2003-Feb-07, 07:27 AM
On 2003-02-06 13:20, DaveC wrote:
No - there just isn't a telescope on Earth that powerful - assuming we might be looking for someting as small as a loose or slightly displaced tile. And if there were a telescope that powerful, it would be very difficult to track the movement of the shuttle which passes from horizon to horizon in about 5 minutes.
I think there may be some specialized telescopes that could have attempted it. The Starfire Optical Range is a 3.5m telescope with adaptive optics and special tracking for low orbit satellites. If it's adaptive optics worked perfectly, in theory it could resolve 1.6 inches at Columbia's 150 mile orbit, on a vertical angle. In reality I don't know how well it works for this, but it's designed for this application. http://www.de.afrl.af.mil/SOR/

The 2.3m mirror on a KH-11/12 recon satellite in theory can resolve 1 inch at 70 miles. It probably has the necessary motion compensation for satellite imaging. However it would take a fortunate orbital intersection or lots of maneuvering to get this close.

As of today, it's unclear if Columbia's problem was tile damage caused at launch. It's possible NASA or DoD could have imaged it and not seen anything. Hopefully in time we'll know the cause.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: joema on 2003-02-07 02:29 ]</font>

joema
2003-Feb-07, 08:17 AM
Just posted by Aviation Week: An AF telescope somehow took high res pictures of Columbia as it passed overhead at about 207000 ft, roughly 60 sec. before it broke up. It appears Columbia's left wing reinforced carbon/carbon leading edge was damaged around the glove area (where wing mates with fuselage). http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts107/030207avweek/

Hypatia
2003-Feb-07, 12:31 PM
Ejection from Shuttles: at one time NASA considered some sort of ejection system for the Shuttles. But it could only be for the pilot & co-pilot, not the rest of the crew (probably due to where they are seated). If they used suits to protect them during ejection, they would have to be better than the ones used during spacewalks, which only have to protect from vacumn and cold. They would have to protect them from 18 g's of gravity and the heat of re-entry from 40 miles up. (The ejected pilots would still be traveling with the same momentum as the Shuttle).
If they used a capsule system, then the Shuttle controls would have to inside the capsule and the capsule would have to withstand these same forces on ejection.
Both methods would reduce the "freedom" of the pilots to handle the controls during flight and landing.
On the human side, do you really think that 2 crew members could make a descision to press an eject button and wave "Bye-bye" to the other crew members, (people they have trained with for months, if not years)? Especially the pilots who are responsible for landing the vehicle. I don't think any pilot could ever make the decision to eject if he felt he might still save the ship; or that he was saving himself and leaving everyone else to certain death.
We don't give parachutes to airplane pilots so they can bail out on their passengers; we expect them to go down fighting to save everyone on board.
Examining the Shuttle for damage: Dittemore (sp?) stated that the Shuttle crews do examine and photgraph as much of the Shuttle's exterior structure as they can on every mission (presumable from the inside of the Shuttle). They use a film camera, not digital images, and, of course, that film was lost during the crash. I think that the crew might have noticed if something was wrong with the parts of the structure they can see.
(That is why I immediately dismissed those images from the Israeli TV interview. Do you think anything so visible on a video camera would have been overlooked by the crew?! In actual fact, those were pictures taken through the bulkhead door in the Shuttle bay; with a permanently mounted camera. The "cracks" were seams and/or folds in the thermal blankets that cover the exterior of the Shuttle. The black "tower" is a bolt cover.
The original article implied that during an interview with Sharon, the Israeli astronanut panned a camera to show a wing outside the window; actually, they probably just switched to a feed from the other camera, which was not pointed at a wing).
Dittemore also says they have tried to examine the Shuttle with ground based telescopes in the past, but the images were so dark and of so poor resolution that they could not see enough detail to detect any damage. The Shuttle also orbits up-side down (bay facing the Earth). The Shuttle may only be in an opportune position to photgraph the bottom tiles for only a very brief time during any mission.

Eric McLoughlin
2003-Feb-07, 12:51 PM
The RAF V Bombers (Avro Vulcan, Vickers Valiant and Handley Page Victor) featured crews of five. Only the pilot and co-pilot had ejector seats. Probably goes to show a difference in attitude between the Brits and the Yanks as much as anything else.

sarongsong
2003-Feb-07, 04:54 PM
Morningstar's photo-analysis:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/changingplanet/message/2681

Thumper
2003-Feb-07, 05:06 PM
Ummm, help me out please if I'm wrong. But in the two pictures he posts in his "analysis", I do not see the left wing. I looks like the inside right (starboard) of the payload bay looking aft. The "buckling" would probably be thermal blankets and insulation inside the bay as had been suggested earlier. Am I missing something?

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-07, 05:25 PM
On 2003-02-07 12:06, Thumper wrote:
Ummm, help me out please if I'm wrong. But in the two pictures he posts in his "analysis", I do not see the left wing. I looks like the inside right (starboard) of the payload bay looking aft. The "buckling" would probably be thermal blankets and insulation inside the bay as had been suggested earlier. Am I missing something?


You are absolutely correct. We've discussed this one earlier in the week and someone posted a wider angle shot that confirms that this photo is indeed from INSIDE the cargo bay.

Can anyone remember the thread? - I'm in too much of a hurry right now to search. I'll do it later if no one remembers.

Found it - it was from 2/4 in a locked thread - see the second to last post by David Hall (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3740&forum=2&8)

[edit to ask question]
{2nd edit to provide thread}
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SpacedOut on 2003-02-07 12:52 ]</font>

sts60
2003-Feb-07, 05:30 PM
Morningstar is, frankly, a crank. He doesn't have a picture of a damaged left wing (that has already been discussed on this board); he thinks what he sees on TV news is a primary source; he is a believer in ridiculous conspiracy theories ("NASA's most occulted secret"). BTW, I've met Rob Dittemore, and I don't appreciate his slander against a conscientious and competent man. Especially not by a raving know-it-all.

Sorry about the harsh tone, but frankly my tolerance for aggresive, ignorant people is a little low right now.

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JayUtah
2003-Feb-07, 05:30 PM
The video images allegedly showing the orbiter wing were quickly identified as other parts of the orbiter structure, not the wing.

Ejection seats used on the SR-71 were provided on Columbia during the STS flight test missions. They were never considered for operational STS missions carrying more than just pilots. First, the SR-71 seats were discovered to be ineffectual for ascent evacuation because the ejectees would have been drawn into the SRB exhaust plume.

Second, to eject through the overhead panel of the orbiter crew compartment would sever many crucial flight control and stabilization circuits, essentially throwing the orbiter out of control within a second or so. Since front-to-back seating requires ejection in sequence instead of simultaneously, the full ejection sequence for the flight deck could not be completed before the orbiter's flight path destabilized and made ejection impossible. And of course ejection from the middeck is highly problematic. You can't go up, you can't go down, and going sideways is not very survivable.

ToSeek
2003-Feb-07, 06:42 PM
On 2003-02-07 12:25, SpacedOut wrote:


On 2003-02-07 12:06, Thumper wrote:
Ummm, help me out please if I'm wrong. But in the two pictures he posts in his "analysis", I do not see the left wing. I looks like the inside right (starboard) of the payload bay looking aft. The "buckling" would probably be thermal blankets and insulation inside the bay as had been suggested earlier. Am I missing something?


You are absolutely correct. We've discussed this one earlier in the week and someone posted a wider angle shot that confirms that this photo is indeed from INSIDE the cargo bay.

Can anyone remember the thread? - I'm in too much of a hurry right now to search. I'll do it later if no one remembers.

Found it - it was from 2/4 in a locked thread - see the second to last post by David Hall (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3740&forum=2&8)



Here's (http://www.snopes.com/photos/shuttle.asp) the writeup on Snopes.com.

David Hall
2003-Feb-07, 06:43 PM
On 2003-02-07 12:25, SpacedOut wrote:

Found it - it was from 2/4 in a locked thread - see the second to last post by David Hall (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3740&forum=2&8)


Just to give proper credit to where it's due, the original debunking was by the posters at the Snopes forum, and the thread there was brought to our attention by Silas. I just took what I found there and posted it here. A very small part of the whole. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

What I find amazing (it would be funny if it wasn't so sad) is that you can clearly see that it's not the wing (do wings have big knobs and fabric covers?), and that the "cracks" are actually manufactured joints in the very photo Morningstar provides as his evidence! Talk about dense! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif

DaveC
2003-Feb-07, 11:16 PM
On 2003-02-07 02:27, joema wrote:
I think there may be some specialized telescopes that could have attempted it. The Starfire Optical Range is a 3.5m telescope with adaptive optics and special tracking for low orbit satellites. If it's adaptive optics worked perfectly, in theory it could resolve 1.6 inches at Columbia's 150 mile orbit, on a vertical angle. In reality I don't know how well it works for this, but it's designed for this application. http://www.de.afrl.af.mil/SOR/

The 2.3m mirror on a KH-11/12 recon satellite in theory can resolve 1 inch at 70 miles. It probably has the necessary motion compensation for satellite imaging. However it would take a fortunate orbital intersection or lots of maneuvering to get this close.


Thanks for that. We don't yet know how obvious the external damage (if any) would have been. My take on it was that the shuttle would have to still be in a stable orbit - about 150 miles up - for imaging of external damage to have any value for contingency planning, and if the problem was a misaligned or loose tile in a critical area the resolution required to see it would have to be much better than 1 inch at that distance. If the flight path didn't take it directly over the telescope during the mission, there is an additional distance factor to be considered. I did assume that on relatively short notice it would be difficult to program a ground based telescope to track the shuttle precisely enough to get a sharp image, but you've set me straight - we have tools developed for that purpose.

Irishman
2003-Feb-08, 01:46 PM
I'm back. Sorry took so long, I've been out of pocket.

JayUtah said:
Life cycling due to age? Perhaps.

I highly doubt it. The airframes were designed for 100 missions. That includes engineering expertise on structural fatigue. Columbia was still very young. [/quote]

I agree. I only leave the possibility open because of questions over corrosion. Now you and I know inspection procedures for the Shuttle are extensive and very particular, but those 100 missions were supposed to be in a 20 year life. It's a question to be checked - part of the detailed fault tree full of not-likely and probably nots that have to be systematically evaluated, not just brushed off. I know, you weren't suggesting that either.

SpacedOut said:

Irishman and Jay – My thoughts concerning the landing gear were as follows: A heaver craft would put more stress on the support structure of the gear therefore any structural problem associated with the gear would probably show up first on Columbia. As to the landings at Edwards, my thoughts were about the roughness of the lakebed putting more stress on the orbiter as opposed to smooth concrete.

Fair enough that stress problems would show up in the heaviest vehicle. But I'm not convinced the runway at Edwards is any rougher than concrete. I would think they would grade the runway even if they didn't top it with asphault or concrete. After all, they're flying high performance aircraft (jet fighters) off it. And NASA's not going to land the orbiters on gravel. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

I don't know if you've seen the location on the wheel wells yet. There was a good cartoon in the press briefing today, showing the sensor locations in question. It included markings for the location of the wheel well from a top view.

Orlando asked and was overlooked:

I got to ask , can the weather effect the ET foam insulation ?

It was cold(30's), raining days before Columbia was launch.

I don't know if you got your question answered in the NASA tech briefings. The answer is no. The ET foam insulation is essentially waterproof. It would need to be to prevent any moisture build up from drastically affecting the weight. Icing occurs on the insulation from the cryogenic fuel - the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that are pumped into the tanks just prior to liftoff. However, the region in question is one of the ice critical zones. There is a special ice team that inspects the orbiter and tank after fueling and prior to liftoff precisely to preclude ice being in the off limits areas. They reported all clear.


SAMU asked:

Given that a shuttle has damage that certainly dooms it on reentry. And that it possible to:

At a cost of 100 million dollars per rescue plus an increase of 20% of the program budget to maintain a rescue/repair capability that will give the astronauts a 98% chance of rescue and a 50% chance of vehicle repair/recovery with a 2% chance of loss of both vehicles.

Would that be too much to "risk" to save an otherwise certainly doomed mission?

Interesting question. You're assuming that the amount of damage is known or suspected to be enough to be a serious risk to return. In Columbia's case, the evidence did not indicate that at all. Within the limits of previous flight experience, experience with tile damage, and analysis calibrated by comparison with previous situations, all evidence supported the conclusion that it was not a safety issue. Sure, the ride might be off nominal, and the structure need post flight inspections, but there was no reason to conclude the risk was much higher than normal. So pursuing any course of rescue/change in mission profile was not warranted. According to the evaluations at the time.

As for the cost assessment, ask Congress, who have been whittling down the NASA budget for the past 15 years. (Or blame Clinton, or Goldin, or whomever you feel convenient.)

Your situation completely ignores the projected risk probabilities for "dooming level" tile damage.

Doodler asked:

But is there an autopilot? I thought shuttles were flown in manually?

The autopilot flies the reentry after the doorbit burn through the S-curve profile until the shuttle slows to near sonic speeds (not exactly sure the transition point). Once the speed has dropped enough that the heating has abated, the manual control takes over for the final descent, circling the runways for lineup to approach, and final landing. The actual landing is under manual control, but performance at the ~Mach 20 zone is so tricky the human reaction times aren't good enough.

Gemstone, you provided an interesting message. It certainly seems authentic - terminology is correct, descriptions appropriate. The content is certainly one person's perspective. Given the details described, I'm not sure why it was posted anonymously. It wouldn't be too difficult for NASA to narrow down the list of originators to a very select pool (maximum 10 people). If they so chose to. Unless he didn't want to get hounded by the press?

I didn't recognize the payload bay latch lug in that picture. I should have, but I paid more attention to the supplemental latch operation than the lug it gripped.

joema, is that the picture released today by NASA? If so, it is too grainy for me to make sense of. There is possibly a rough spot along the leading edge that could just be the graininess of the image and pixelation. There is possibly some effect off the trailing left wing that could just be pixelation and/or perspective on the plasma trail or RCS exhaust.

SpacedOut
2003-Feb-09, 03:19 PM
Irishman – Thanks for the feedback.

I found the imagry (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/investigation/sensors/index.html) you were referring to from the NASA February 7, 2003 Technical Briefing . Thanks for the heads up – Very interesting series of graphics – Definitely worth a look folks.

The imagery is linked from the NASA Human Space Flight site (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/).

PS - I've created a powerpoint slide show of the images. send me a private message with your email address and I'll send it to you. FYI - even after I reduced the resolution of the images the *.zip file is still 1.5Mb so make sure your email can accept a file this size.

[edit to add PS]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SpacedOut on 2003-02-09 11:09 ]</font>

David Hall
2003-Feb-14, 09:19 PM
g99, I just posted this in a new thread. My link is from the NYTimes though.

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3881&forum=2&0

(PS, for those wondering, g99 and I both posted about the new shuttle findings. follow the link for more.)
_________________
"If we die, we want people to accept it. We're in a risky business and we hope if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." -Gus Grissom

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2003-02-14 16:30 ]</font>

g99
2003-Feb-14, 09:24 PM
deleted mine. You must of read my mind when i wanted to post it. Can i borrow your thought helmet?

David Hall
2003-Feb-14, 09:28 PM
You didn't have to do that. It wasn't hurting anything. ps: I stole your link. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Actually, ever since I finished and donned my new tin-foil beanie, I've discovered I've been getting random thought signals from others now. I think I must have put the shiny side wrong-side out.

g99
2003-Feb-14, 09:43 PM
On 2003-02-14 16:28, David Hall wrote:
You didn't have to do that. It wasn't hurting anything. ps: I stole your link. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


No problem, i just want royalties. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif



Actually, ever since I finished and donned my new tin-foil beanie, I've discovered I've been getting random thought signals from others now. I think I must have put the shiny side wrong-side out.



When i made mine i must of gotten the wires crossed. I started to pick up the signals from the Zetas. But then i realized that it was just the people in my head making fun of me.

Did you make yours in a pyramid shape? It is a common mistake to create thought blocking helmets in the shape of cones or smooth sided domes. But these actually divert thoughts into your head and not away from the earth. But if you did do this, it can easily be fixed temporarily untill you create a nw, proper one. Just attach a pure gold wire to your helmet and lead it into the ground as a grounding wire.