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Tomblvd
2003-Feb-02, 03:45 PM
I've been vigorously defending manned space flight the past 24 hours on another board (Free Republic). It seems many people see this accident as proof that the Shuttle is a boondoggle (they may have a point), and ALL tasks in space can better be done remotely, with robotics.



Aside from the obvious point that it is man's fundamental nature to explore, what other reasons do we have to send men into space? And what do you think should be our next long term step?

Can this be used as the impetus to replace the Shuttle with something more advanced?

I apologize in advance if this thread appears to have been posted too soon after the fact.

darkhunter
2003-Feb-02, 04:01 PM
Mars

Doodler
2003-Feb-02, 04:07 PM
X-33, not as a replacement to the shuttle, but to complement it. Using a shuttle to ferry crew up to a space station is like using a cargo freighter to (legally) carry passengers across the Atlantic.

nebularain
2003-Feb-02, 06:50 PM
Well, to answer Tomblvd, can you imagine the the government shutting down the railroad the first or second time there was a train wreck? Or highways being banned because people die on them every day in accidents? Or all factories being shut down because one or two had a mishap that led to an explosion?

Sure space travel is dangerous, but where would we be if we let the threat of danger control our lives?

AstroGman
2003-Feb-02, 10:39 PM
Well,whoever,these people were,they sure weren,t voting yesterday because the (unscientific) poll I participated in showed that 88 percent of those who voted were in favor of continuing manned spaceflight despite the risks.

g99
2003-Feb-02, 10:49 PM
I truely think we will see a bnoom in our space industry and exploration. As i said in the other thread, this might be good for the space industry overall. It is horrible that people had to die, but at least their deaths were not in vain. It is all over the news of when will we go back into space? When will we go to mars? What is next? I think there is more furvor for space now than the last ten years combined. I really can see us now getting the funding for Mars and beyond. But this can all be pure optimism. We have to wait and see how much money NASA is going to get in the next budget.

RafaelAustin
2003-Feb-02, 11:07 PM
As posted by someone elsewhere, I can only hope this brings a stronger effort to develop the next generation of Earth-to-Orbit vessel. It will still take 10-15 years to develop and implement a new system.

And as discussed in previous months on this board, I think we need to find a viable economic plan for this venture. Science and research in of itself (at least for me) is reason enough to explore space. But it (like love) doesn't pay the bills. If we can set an economic purpose, goal and incentive to use the new fleet, then it will happen with unanamous support.

g99
2003-Feb-02, 11:19 PM
Advertising on the shuttl. The Pepsi mars lander and the Coke mars orbiter! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

J/K

I think if we privatized some aspects of space and allowed certain reliable companies into space we could go a long way. How to choose those comanies? Well obviously ones that won't put up weapons into space for other nations.

Allow mining on the moon and passing asteroids. Allow them to preform manufacturing in space on their own satelites and stations. Than we would be able to do it. I think some companies once the economy gets better will realize the profit potential of being in space. Basically no rules, don't have to worry about ruining the environment, and no taxes!! Nobody owns space.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-02, 11:24 PM
It seems many people see this accident as proof that the Shuttle is a boondoggle (they may have a point)

Far from boondoggle. But there is a legitimate question over whether it's the best solution for our manned space flight needs. For all its faults, it's the system we know best how to operate, and that's a serious advantage in that business.

ALL tasks in space can better be done remotely, with robotics.

I strongly disagree. There is no computer equivalent to the human brain, no camera equivalent to the human eye, and no manipulator equivalent to the human hand. While there is a place for automated spacecraft, the best work in and the best exploration of space is done in person.

Aside from the obvious point that it is man's fundamental nature to explore, what other reasons do we have to send men into space?

Because learning how to protect ourselves and flourish in new and hostile environments helps us better protect ourselves and flourish in the hostile environments closer to home.

And what do you think should be our next long term step?

Personally I think it would be nice to return to the moon before the last of the Apollo moonwalkers passes on.

Can this be used as the impetus to replace the Shuttle with something more advanced?

That's been contemplated for years. Clearly it will be impetus to increase the safety and reliability of our space systems, whether that means continuing to improve STS or more seriously examining the next step.

Morbid as it seems, engineers always learn more from failure than they do from continued success. When loss of life is concerned, though, this maxim seems pale and ineffectual. However, the space program will emerge from this with greater knowledge of its capabilities and limitations, and that will be priceless in ensuring greater success and safety.

Peter B
2003-Feb-02, 11:41 PM
On 2003-02-02 18:24, JayUtah wrote:
Can this be used as the impetus to replace the Shuttle with something more advanced?

That's been contemplated for years. Clearly it will be impetus to increase the safety and reliability of our space systems, whether that means continuing to improve STS or more seriously examining the next step.


What was the status of the next generation shuttle? I understand that some decision had been reached on which company's idea was to be pursued, but to what point had things moved?

Tomblvd
2003-Feb-02, 11:43 PM
I strongly disagree. There is no computer equivalent to the human brain, no camera equivalent to the human eye, and no manipulator equivalent to the human hand. While there is a place for automated spacecraft, the best work in and the best exploration of space is done in person.





Thanks for all the replies. Thinking about this aspect of the tragedy is cathartic.

Focusing on the above quote a question came to mind. How many of the planetary probes that we have lost throughout the years do you think could have been saved if a human had been on board?

Irishman
2003-Feb-03, 12:21 AM
Tomblvd said:

Aside from the obvious point that it is man's fundamental nature to explore, what other reasons do we have to send men into space?

Well, I'm probably going to get dirty looks, but there really isn't any other reason for us to be going into space, other than the fact that humans wish to explore, and learn. Jay points out why humans should go for our exploration, but why we choose to be going doesn't really have any other reason. We could turn to the answers used historically - discovery, resources, trade routes, growth. How do those apply to the situation? *shrug*


Can this be used as the impetus to replace the Shuttle with something more advanced?

Of course it can be used as an impetus. It probably should be used as an impetus. But whatever the outcome on that, the shuttle will continue to be used because there is no alternative for the near term. It will take about a decade to build a replacement vehicle. We've already seen the problem with stopping your current method before the next version is complete (Saturn rockets). Let's not repeat Skylab with ISS.

Tomblvd asked:

How many of the planetary probes that we have lost throughout the years do you think could have been saved if a human had been on board?

All of them? The reason for the loss of the two Mars vehicles have been traced to lack of information available or confused information to the human controllers. Being on site (i.e. on the vehicle) would have eliminated that confusion.

ToSeek
2003-Feb-03, 12:39 AM
On 2003-02-02 19:21, Irishman wrote:
Well, I'm probably going to get dirty looks, but there really isn't any other reason for us to be going into space, other than the fact that humans wish to explore, and learn.


Reason #2: Sooner or later the Earth is going to get blasted by an asteroid. If we're not set up somewhere else by then, we're not only history, we're the next intelligent species' paleontology.

SKY
2003-Feb-03, 01:38 AM
On 2003-02-02 18:19, g99 wrote:
Advertising on the shuttl. The Pepsi mars lander and the Coke mars orbiter! <IMG SRC="/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif">

J/K



I found this on the internet. I had first seen it a couple years ago. I am not making light of yesterday's tragedy, I just thought it fit this particular quote perfectly:


*Link to pic discontinued*

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-03, 01:58 AM
Why should we be sending humans into space? I'll let Isaac Asimov quote Michael Faraday on the subject of abstract knowledge:



IN THE 1840s, the English physicist and chemist Michael Faraday, in one of his enormously popular lectures, illustrated a peculiar phenomenon. He thrust a magnet into the hollow center of a spiral coil of wire connected to a galvanometer that would record the presence of an electric current. There was no current in the wire to begin with, but as the magnet was inserted, the needle of the galvanometer moved to one side of the scale, showing that an electric current was flowing. As the magnet was withdrawn, the needle flipped in the other direction, showing that the current was now flowing the other way. When the magnet was held motionless within the coil, no current flowed at all.

After the lecture, a member of the audience approached Faraday and asked, "But of what practical use can this be?" Faraday answered, "Sir, of what use is a newborn baby?"

The exploration of space is certainly in the "newborn baby" stage. I have a feeling that our descendants will look back at those who question its practicality much the same way we do towards that anonymous questioner.

If our species is to survive over the long haul, we simply must move out into the wider universe, despite the risks. The alternative, as another poster pointed out, is to become another civilization's paleontology.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-03, 01:59 AM
On 2003-02-02 19:21, Irishman wrote:
Tomblvd said:

Aside from the obvious point that it is man's fundamental nature to explore, what other reasons do we have to send men into space?

Well, I'm probably going to get dirty looks, but there really isn't any other reason for us to be going into space, other than the fact that humans wish to explore, and learn. Jay points out why humans should go for our exploration, but why we choose to be going doesn't really have any other reason. We could turn to the answers used historically - discovery, resources, trade routes, growth. How do those apply to the situation? *shrug*


From the Babylon 5 episode 'Infection' in season 1.

The Interview (end of the show about why to spend money on the B5 station)

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

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

Kizarvexis

infocusinc
2003-Feb-03, 02:12 AM
I was looking at the image SKY posted and had to wonder if I was on the wrong forum. The picture made me think I was at a NASCAR forum /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-03, 02:17 AM
On 2003-02-02 21:12, infocusinc wrote:
I was looking at the image SKY posted and had to wonder if I was on the wrong forum. The picture made me think I was at a NASCAR forum /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


It was kinda funny looking. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Kizarvexis

sacrelicious
2003-Feb-03, 02:22 AM
hi, new here.

how about this: if we switched to unmanned flights, the public would lose even more interest, making it even more justifiable for congress to cut even more funding (which would also be compounded by the penny pinching justification that we'd only need to spend a tiny pitance, since safety is not a concern with robots).

after all is said and done, switching to a totally human free space program would result in having no space program worth mentioning.

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-03, 02:28 AM
On 2003-02-02 21:22, sacrelicious wrote:
hi, new here.

how about this: if we switched to unmanned flights, the public would lose even more interest, making it even more justifiable for congress to cut even more funding (which would also be compounded by the penny pinching justification that we'd only need to spend a tiny pitance, since safety is not a concern with robots).

after all is said and done, switching to a totally human free space program would result in having no space program worth mentioning.

Hi and welcome, sac.

60 Minutes had a segment on tonight's show about this. Someone associated with congressional funding for NASA mentioned that there is a faction that believes exactly this -- that the manned program is the lure that keeps the public interested in space exploration.

Yes, unmanned missions give more science for the buck. But there's an unquantifiable factor at work, too. Flying into space is an adventure, and we all share it vicariously.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-03, 02:33 AM
Yes, unmanned missions give more science for the buck. But there's an unquantifiable factor at work, too. Flying into space is an adventure, and we all share it vicariously.


I don't know. The Apollo astronauts did a lot of stuff on the moon, especially Apollo 17, which took a geologist along. I wonder how much it would have cost to do everything that the 6 Apollo missions did on the moon with robots. Even with today's robots instead of 1960's robots.

Now for far off science missions, like the Jupiter missions, you may be right for now, because we can't get there...yet. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Kizarvexis


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-02 21:35 ]</font>

Graham2001
2003-Feb-03, 02:47 AM
I'm an Australian, so I can't directly affect anything in the US.

But for what its worth, we have to go forward from this, the deaths of Mallory & Irvine on Mt Everest didn't stop people from trying to climb (or fly over) the mountain.

So send a letter/email to your congresspeople saying you want manned space flight to continue, get your friends to do the same. Maybe you can build the momentum to get us back on the Moon, this time for good.

nebularain
2003-Feb-03, 02:55 AM
What can we say? Humanity wouldn't have progressed very far if all we thought about was "playing it safe."

Would Marco Polo have gone to China and back if he was concerned about "playing it safe"? Would Columbus and Magellan and all the other captains and crew ventured across the oceans? Would air flight have occured? The list can go on and on.

Isn't there a famous quote somewhere about the value of taking risks?

Mainframes
2003-Feb-03, 10:14 AM
Not sure if this is the one you're thinking of but:

'You have to speculate to accumulate' certainly springs to my mind...

Tomblvd
2003-Feb-03, 01:02 PM
On 2003-02-02 21:47, Graham2001 wrote:
I'm an Australian, so I can't directly affect anything in the US.

But for what its worth, we have to go forward from this, the deaths of Mallory & Irvine on Mt Everest didn't stop people from trying to climb (or fly over) the mountain.

So send a letter/email to your congresspeople saying you want manned space flight to continue, get your friends to do the same. Maybe you can build the momentum to get us back on the Moon, this time for good.


Well, if it makes you feel any better, a poll in the USAToday this morning has 82% favoring continued manned space flight.

Most support manned space program, poll shows (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-02-02-shuttle-poll_x.htm)

Tomblvd
2003-Feb-03, 01:05 PM
Isn't there a famous quote somewhere about the value of taking risks?




There are many. This is my favorite:


"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

-Teddy Roosevelt

ToSeek
2003-Feb-03, 03:25 PM
On 2003-02-02 21:22, sacrelicious wrote:

how about this: if we switched to unmanned flights, the public would lose even more interest, making it even more justifiable for congress to cut even more funding (which would also be compounded by the penny pinching justification that we'd only need to spend a tiny pitance, since safety is not a concern with robots).

after all is said and done, switching to a totally human free space program would result in having no space program worth mentioning.


I thought along your lines at one point, but then the unmanned Mars Pathfinder drew much more public attention than any of the contemporaneous shuttle missions.

Thargoid
2003-Feb-03, 03:29 PM
Hey Irishman!

I think that we need to look at the space program in the sense of long-term goals. We are working toward setting up heavy industry in space. That will start when we can reliably make and refuel spacecraft with materials gathered off of earth.

We'll likely start my harvesting ice in the lunar polar zones to make into hydrogen/oxygen fuel. Metallic asteroids, such as Cruithne, are already in earth orbit ready to be harvested, as well as many other earth-crossing NEOs.

Once we bootstrap ourselves up, it will be much easier. The momentum will be unstoppable once the first ET steel, platinum, etc. starts showing up on the market. We'll be able to build ships in orbital shipyards instead of trying to launch stuff from the bottom of earth's gravity well. We'll have a foothold.

THAT is the goal, and I pray to God that we don't take our eyes off of it for the sake of political demogoguery!

Oh, and here is the rest of that excellent quote posted earlier:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

David Hall
2003-Feb-03, 09:31 PM
I've been thinking a bit about this. What we need to do next is scrap the "one size fits all" space truck concept; it's been shown to be rather inefficient in practice. Instead, we need to develop a series of launch vehicles, each tailored to different uses.

Light launchers are already available, the Titans and Ariennes and such. But we need heavy lifting capacity again. I'd say go back and develop a next-generation Saturn V style vehicle. Well, maybe not that large, but close to it. They don't have to be reusable, but another thread mentioned that there are some ideas for recoverable intermediate stages, that may be a direction to look into.

Second, we should design a series of modules designed to be lifted by these large boosters. Unmanned payloads along the line of the Russian Progress modules should come first. This would allow for servicing the ISS. Later, we might consider a manned module as well.

Third, we should have one or two different human shuttles for the main work fleet. I think a small 4-8 man lifting body design would be best here. If we do away with the heavy payload capacity, we could even have a horizontal-takeoff-to-orbit design, perfect for quick turnarounds. I think two versions would be best, a small shuttle for human-only transfer, and a slightly larger one for orbital science missions, maybe half the size of the current shuttle.

We already have the biggest resource we need, the ISS. Now that we have it, we should use it to capacity. We no longer need a large shuttle to use as a science platform. Most orbital research can be done on the ISS more easily. Shuttles are only needed to get people and equipment to and from the station.

Other missions, like servicing the Hubble, could be done with a smaller shuttle just as easily as a big one. Maybe even more easily, as it would take less delta-v to rendevous. Heavy lifting could be done by more standard rockets, and rendevous made if necessary. And the shuttle design is still kept for manned missions, allowing for the reusability of most equipment.

The heavy lifting equipment would also come in handy if we decided to go back to the Moon or on to Mars. I think it will be necessary to develop them eventually anyway, might as well do it now.

So what do you all think? Any additions or subtractions to my idea? It would mean a lot of inital development outlays, but there would be a lot more flexibiltiy in the end.

Zathras
2003-Feb-03, 11:46 PM
DH, I think you raise some good points on these issues. The one point I might differ with you on is whether we need reusable vehicles at all. Thr space shuttles have never been able to match what the Saturn rockets could have done on a cost per pound basis. I think it would be better to stick with what has worked the most efficiently and build a spectrum of rockets to meet the needs of space flight.

By the way, here is an interesting article which advocates the cancelling of the space shuttle program. I don't agree with everything it says, but it has some good points.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101030210-418518,00.html

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Zathras on 2003-02-03 18:49 ]</font>

g99
2003-Feb-04, 12:08 AM
In Buzz aldrin's book "The return" they actually encounter this problem.
( http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=53V9FGHICG&isbn=081257060X&itm=10 )

****spoilers****
In the book at the end they go to the failing space station and rescue the crew. The shuttle fleet is grounded and can't rescue the Iss crew in time. So one of the character's secret black ops project is put into motion. It seems that they have been making a multi-stage multiple use rocket system. It consists of a standard base. Then several attachments are added as needed. It comes in many sizes, from small payloads/quick turnaround, to very heavy payload/long turnaround. They can add a crew compartment, or a payload compartment, or any number of additions. They explain it alot better than i can, but you get the gist.

(He co-authored the book. I reccomend it. Good for the shuttle program. It actually has a massive disaster in space and deals with ISS getting in trouble and having a group of scientists save them in a realistic fashion. To me after reading on this board it seems very on the level and good. Check it out. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif)

NubiWan
2003-Feb-04, 12:45 AM
Well, we've taken a real shot to the gut with Columbia's loss. The Bush admin has reassured us, that the trek to space will continue, and they had already increased NASA's budget by about a half a billion dollars before Columbia's liftoff. Well that should show they're serious.
The current administration has submitted a budget, that includes about a 300 billion dollar deficit. The previous record deficit was in 1992, and was about 270 billion. That's before any new round of tax cuts, and the Iraq war, we may be spending our childern's and grandchildern's money, but at least we are doing it with compassion and integrity.
Thou most shuttle replacement design projects have been mothballed, am sure public interest, as well as other interests, (Boing Boeing, Lockneed, for instance), will be ready to push their vision forward with government money, our money, as soon as the check clears. Have heard that they are quickly dusting off Prometheus, the nuclear rocket project, even now.
Why not use this severe loss as a turning point in humanity's march to the stars? We still have three shuttle craft, and current plans are to extend their useful life till about 2020/2025. Go with that, and use their time left to 'leapfrog' current technology and timetables.
Were I king of the freeworld, would use that time to forge stronger bonds with our spaced parnters, to collectively pay and reap the rewards, for a real off-world step. Forget Mars for the moment, the ISS would become a depot and construction facility. Would make a bee-line for the southern lunar pole and estabish a 'colony' here, and lock it up for us, ASAP. Have read that there is enough ice there to support about five thousand for a hundred years. That should be enough time for humanity's next step, the planets and their moons.
Nuclear rockets, not on my world, build them off world. Put the "go" on full for the 'space elevator.' NASA was aiming for a launch every three months, with it, you could deliver an obital payload every three days if needed, with no eviromental impact to speak of. Last I read, estimates are, fully funded and brained, one could be completed in ten years. Conventional space-trucks using rockets and maybe nuclear ones as well, could be built in orbit. Without having to climb out of earth's gravity well, they could be much smaller, cheaper, and efficent, too.
OK, have at it... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

ToSeek
2003-Feb-04, 04:19 PM
One of the better columns I've read on the topic, from Charles Krauthammer:

It's Time To Dream Higher (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21340-2003Feb3.html)

"The point is that the first 150 or so miles of space travel -- braving the gravitational well of Earth and shooting through the atmosphere -- is the most difficult and dangerous; the next million miles are comparatively easy. Yet going up and down that first 150 miles is the least glorious, least inspiring of all space adventures; it is the stuff beyond low-Earth orbit that speaks to our yearning as a restless, seeking species."

_________________
"... to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." - Tennyson, Ulysses

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ToSeek on 2003-02-04 11:21 ]</font>

Doodler
2003-Feb-04, 04:43 PM
Nice story, I like Charles's work in the Post, but I think he's missed the mark a bit on this one. He spoke about the relative safety of the "next million miles" (minus rocks, radiation, extreme cold, physical deterioration in extended weightlessness,but we can look past that for the time being.) and spoke of the unglorious and dangerous first 150 miles. I hate to call him on this, but we'd need to know how to handle those first 150 miles as "safely" as we do the "next million" or the whole venture is pointless. As cold as it sounds, that's only going be done by trial and error and death and survival. We're going to someday find a solution to those first 150, but the price is going to be paid in hard work, sweat, anxiety and blood. That's life, folks. How many wooden hulks line the shore and ocean floors from the early days of exploration? How many hundreds of lives have been lost in hurricanes, tidal waves, iceberg impacts, reefs, and sandbars across the world? Exploration is not safe, we either get used to it or we bury our head in the sand and snuggle with our teddy bears.

The end point is, that even if the shuttle and the station aren't the "grand adventure" the common schmoe is looking for in manned space flight, it IS the most important training for those grand adventures we must undertake. There is no point leaving if its too dangerous to come home triumphant.

ToSeek
2003-Feb-04, 10:27 PM
On 2003-02-04 11:43, Doodler wrote:
we'd need to know how to handle those first 150 miles as "safely" as we do the "next million" or the whole venture is pointless. As cold as it sounds, that's only going be done by trial and error and death and survival. We're going to someday find a solution to those first 150, but the price is going to be paid in hard work, sweat, anxiety and blood.


However, doing it the same way over and over again, via the shuttle, isn't much of a learning experience. If we really want missions to the planets rather than a "space truck," then we need to be trying newer, better ways of getting to orbit.

Doodler
2003-Feb-04, 10:59 PM
The core concept of the shuttle as a launch vehicle is sound, there are elements of it which must be refined through experience and observation and technological improvement; The O-ring changes, lighter flight control systems, new docking systems, more durable insulation (the latest one), less brittle tiles (hopefully coming soon). The overall system works, it is just shaking itself out as we use it more often, the lesson it teaches will assist us in designing its successor. Even the Saturn series rockets evolved constantly, though they thankfully never lost a crewman in operation. As each rocket was built, lessons learned from previous missions were applied. The second fully assembled Saturn rocket (unmanned) that was launched was lost due to internal vibrations that had been detected in the first (manned) mission, but were considered a manageable event at the time, by the time the next Saturn went up (unmanned), the vibration problem was solved, the missions proceeded as scheduled (revised). This is the same reasoning used in shuttle operations. Heck, its even the same reasoning used in commercial aviation. After ever accident, there is a thorough analysis done for each situation brought about my mechanical failure and the rest of the planes in operation (hopefully) are retrofit with improvements (Concorde comes to mind, as does the 737-300). It is tragic that these heretofore unknown flaws cost lives, but there is often no other way to find them. Vehicles like these are seldom ever perfect the from the time they are certified operational, and many over time develop flaws the designers could never account for. No preflight test known can uncover EVERY flaw, its just not possible. No matter what engineers do, something will come up that leaves tehm desperately scratching their heads looking for a fix to keep the system flying. Its a fact of life. We use the shuttle because it works, even if not perfectly.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-04, 11:43 PM
Excellent analysis, Doodler.

We are accustomed to equating space technology with commodity consumer technology, which may in many cases be less problematic but isn't trying to solve nearly the same problems.

Prior to 1986 O-rings were things you found in faucets. Homeowners dealt with eroded O-rings by letting the faucet drip until nagged to replace it. It was a revelation that an O-ring would, in some cases, have to function perfectly every time in order to preserve someone's life.

Homeowners are also familiar with spray-on foam insulation. But that foam isn't meant to handle -400 F at one surface and 1000 F an inch away, with several hundred pounds per square foot aerodynamic loading. That's pretty impressive foam.

So laymen get the idea that accidents like this are simply sloppy workmanship and lackadaisical management. Our efforts to relate space technology to that which the layman might recognize sometimes backfires when the layman expects the space program to operate within the comparatively sloppy tolerances of consumer technology.

Nobody remembers the early crashes of the 707s and 727s. Pilot error. Why? Because the 30-degree sweep of the Boeing wing made possible enormous savings in drag and enabled these airliners to be commercially successful. But it came at the cost of low-speed performance. The stall characteristics of a swept wing are abysmal, and pilots who tried to fly them by the seat of their pants quickly found themselves in a smoking crater. You must fly these aircraft "by the numbers".

Today we think nothing of this. We don't consider that the airliners we fly on have airfoils with narrow aerodynamic margins -- "unnecessarily risky". This is because the early failures led to increased pilot awareness, better training, and improved flight control systems.

The Challenger accident caused sweeping changes. The Columbia accident will likely cause sweeping changes. We are discovering how to fly in space. And yes, there are perhaps other ways outside of the STS arena that may look more attractive, but the fundmantal problem of engineering remains: you can never anticipate all the problems. This is why engineers search for the two-pronged solution. First, reduce the risk of failure. Second, mitigate the effects of failure. But not all problems lend themselves to ideal solutions.

I'm reminded of one of the maxims of engineering: "Any yahoo can build a bridge that stands up, but it takes an engineer to build a bridge that just barely stands up."

The lesson is that engineering is not merely about solving problems. It's about solving problems within the given constraints. A lot of talking heads are lamenting that but for a few dollars (or so they say) STS could be made virtualy risk-free. No escape module? Too expensive. No patch kit? Too expensive.

Look at all the overpasses that collapsed in the Bay area during the earthquake several years ago. Don't you think it was within engineers' capacity to build those structures to withstand the forces which failed them? Yes, absolutely. But the resulting structure would have been far too expensive.

99% of a system's theoretical reliability can be achieved using 99% of its allocated resources. The remaining 1% requires the other 99% of the resources. What if the average automobile price were $150,000, but nobody ever died in one? Nobody would buy or sell cars. This price-performance curve is even sharper in aerospace.

We travel at unsafe speeds on the freeways because we accept risk in return for convenience. We'd rather hurtle along at 70 mph instead of a much safer 25 because we don't want a 60-minute commute. And in return for that convenience we accept the increased probability that someone may have to hose us off the pavement.

Our lives are governed by "acceptable risk." We find that sweet spot right between inconvenience and recklessness. 55-65 mph is acceptable risk for everyday freeway driving in the U.S. We're still, apparently, defining "acceptable risk" for STS.

Can STS be made safer? Yes, and it will. We'll change the way we build it. We'll change the way we fly it. We'll change the way we evaluate its performance. But there's no need to placate extremists who want to halt manned space flight. That would be an extraordinarily stupid thing to do, if just for the reason that by stopping it we'll soon forget how it's done and then we'll have to learn all these hard-won lessons again sometime in the future.

Glom
2003-Feb-05, 03:21 PM
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/columbia_experiments_030204.html

Manned launches for the sake of manned launches are a waste of time. But a program that seeks to build space infrastructure and extend human presence further like Von Braun envisioned, it certainly worth its price.

It's certainly worth more than channeling billions of dollars into developing newer and better weapons of mass destruction.

I hope from this disaster, public opinion gets stirring so that Congress will get NASA back on track to getting a true program of exploration underway.

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-05, 05:05 PM
On 2003-02-02 21:55, nebularain wrote:
Isn't there a famous quote somewhere about the value of taking risks?

How about, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained"?

Hmmm... "Venture"... good name for a spacecraft.

ToSeek
2003-Feb-05, 05:23 PM
On 2003-02-04 17:59, Doodler wrote:
The core concept of the shuttle as a launch vehicle is sound, there are elements of it which must be refined through experience and observation and technological improvement; The O-ring changes, lighter flight control systems, new docking systems, more durable insulation (the latest one), less brittle tiles (hopefully coming soon). The overall system works, it is just shaking itself out as we use it more often, the lesson it teaches will assist us in designing its successor.


I can't argue that we're not learning from the shuttle; however, if our primary purpose were to learn better (cheaper, safer) means of getting into low-Earth orbit, this isn't how we'd go about it. We'd be trying various technologies to see what worked best, which, ironically, would be far more dangerous in the short run, if safer eventually.



Even the Saturn series rockets evolved constantly, though they thankfully never lost a crewman in operation. As each rocket was built, lessons learned from previous missions were applied. The second fully assembled Saturn rocket (unmanned) that was launched was lost due to internal vibrations that had been detected in the first (manned) mission, but were considered a manageable event at the time, by the time the next Saturn went up (unmanned), the vibration problem was solved, the missions proceeded as scheduled (revised).


I'm not sure what you're referring to here, though it sounds like the evolution of the Saturn V:

Apollo 4: unmanned, successful
Apollo 6: unmanned, unsuccessful due in part to vibration ("pogo") problems, but problems were believed to be understood
Apollo 8: manned, successful (still can't believed that Saturn V was not only man-rated after Apollo 6 but sent men to the Moon!)

So far as I know the only unmanned Saturn launched after the first manned Apollo launch (7) was the one that put Skylab into orbit.

R.A.F.
2003-Feb-05, 06:56 PM
On 2003-02-04 18:43, JayUtah wrote:
A lot of talking heads are lamenting that but for a few dollars (or so they say) STS could be made virtualy risk-free. No escape module? Too expensive. No patch kit? Too expensive.


Along this same line of thought...
I'm hoping that the American public will not be lulled into a false sense of "if we just send up a escape module and a tile repair kit, space will be safe". That line of reasoning begs disaster.

Space travel is a dangerous business, but with big risks come big rewards. We can try to make it as safe as possible, but there is only so much we can do and still maintain a viable space program.

My signature, more appropriate now than I originally intended, says it all...

Diablo
2003-Feb-05, 07:05 PM
The next step should be to forget all about going into space at all. We have enough problems here on Earth without trying to find other planets to populate. Really when you look at the whole picture, the whole space program has been a huge waste of taxpayers money which could have been used to cure aids, cancer, MS, Meningitus, etc, etc. We have third world countries starving to death and yet the US Government sends up the Shuttle into space every few months for little purpose (maybe other than the invention of Teflon). NASA decide to keep a 20 odd year old shuttle in commision which even airlines would not do. Space travel is a risky business and all NASA could say after last weeks crash was 'Well, we will find what went wrong and send another 7 suckers up to see if were right'.

Save the money and spend it on this planet!

Diablo

Diablo
2003-Feb-05, 07:07 PM
Oh yes and before I forget, if they saved money on the Shuttle perhaps they could refinance Jim Obergs book which will try to explain the Apollo Hoax theories... or did they pull out because they were worried of being found out?

Diablo

Diablo
2003-Feb-05, 07:08 PM
Oh yeah and heres one for Jay Utah

Its not he who has the loudest voice, but he who has something to say that the people will listen to.

Diablo

Laser Jock
2003-Feb-05, 07:12 PM
On 2003-02-05 14:08, Diablo wrote:
Oh yeah and heres one for Jay Utah

Its not he who has the loudest voice, but he who has something to say that the people will listen to.

Diablo


Exactly. That's why we listen to Jay and not you.

sts60
2003-Feb-05, 08:18 PM
Diablo,

if you think that monies diverted from Shuttle or Station would make a material difference in conquering various diseases, I suggest you take a good luck at how much is spent on disease research in the US, let alone worldwide, then come back and explain why taking Shuttle/ISS money out of a two trillion dollar budget and throwing it at some disease would be particularly effective, or beneficial to the economy for that matter.

If you think we didn't land on the Moon, why don't you go to the Lunar Conspiracies forum and defend some of your earlier claims. Or make some new ones and defend them.

And as for tossing insults at Jay, you might stop to consider that (a) it's bad manners and (b) Jay has established a long track record here of reasoned and detailed arguments.

Bring out any specific claim and we'll talk about it. If you just want to insult people, there are forums where flaming is considered acceptable.

Jim
2003-Feb-05, 09:07 PM
...and yet the US Government sends up the Shuttle into space every few months for little purpose (maybe other than the invention of Teflon).

Teflon was not a discovery or development of the space program; it was discovered when a Dupont researchist noticed a strange rattle when he moved an old cylinder of flourine gas.

What the manned space program has given us - either directly or as a spin-off - is:
Kevlar (bullet-proof vests for police officers);
MRIs;
Cat scans;
Mammography;
ER and ICU medical telemetry;
Microgravity research on cancer, osteoperosis, cardiovascular disease, kidney function...;
Cool suit technology for multiple sclerosis patients;
And so on.

Donnie B.
2003-Feb-05, 09:39 PM
On 2003-02-04 17:59, Doodler wrote:
... The second fully assembled Saturn rocket (unmanned) that was launched was lost due to internal vibrations...

Nitpick:
The second full-up launch of the Saturn V was not lost. It did experience severe pogo vibrations and other serious failures, but made it into orbit and was good enough for NASA to pronounce it a success, in that it met all mission objectives. It also provided a lot of data that allowed Huntsville to prevent pogo on later launches, and repair the other problems.

However, had that been a manned mission, it probably would have been aborted because of the pogo.

lpetrich
2003-Feb-05, 09:52 PM
To me, the best thing to do would be to start work on a replacement for it. It will be at least 2 or 3 years, and maybe 5 or 6 before one flies, so IMO it's best to get started as soon as possible.

A replacement ought to be a smaller craft, and one that can be launched with the help of some existing expendable-booster design. The Shuttle's main engines become dead weight after launch, so it may be a good idea to leave them behind, as it were.

Also, I think that it would be a good idea to research ways of refurbishing parts of nominally-expendable boosters -- to equip the main-engine mounts with parachutes, perhaps.

The Shuttle solids are already recovered, so why not go further?

One problem that has kept the Shuttle's cost high is the necessity for a thorough inspection; computerized inspection techniques using artificial vision and other such AI technologies could be very useful here.

This could also be useful for refurbishing recovered main engines.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: lpetrich on 2003-02-05 16:54 ]</font>

nebularain
2003-Feb-06, 11:27 PM
Well lookie here - our discussion got echoed on CNN's website! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/02/05/sprj.colu.shuttle.future/index.html

Irishman
2003-Feb-09, 02:14 PM
All this discussion sparked me to think of one capability the shuttle has that no other method or space vehicle has - the ability to bring a payload back to Earth. Columbia was carrying Spacehab, up and down. How likely is it to require returning payloads? Well, I can think of one payload not a manned science module replaced by ISS - LDEF. This was a satellite flown for several years to test the environmental exposure (atomic oxygen, ultraviolet, micrometeors, etc.) of various materials.

Other payloads that flew and were returned for various reasons - Spartan 201, Wakeshield, Orpheus-Spas, Tethered Satellite. (Okay, TS had problems and the satellite was actually lost. The plan provided for return.) Could the objectives of these payloads have been accomplished as well by expendables? Some maybe. However, recovery allowed multiple flights of some of the payloads for cheaper cost than building new copies of the hardware. The cost to the payload provider was cheaper.

Something to think about.

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-09, 10:40 PM
On 2003-02-09 09:14, Irishman wrote:
All this discussion sparked me to think of one capability the shuttle has that no other method or space vehicle has - the ability to bring a payload back to Earth. Columbia was carrying Spacehab, up and down. How likely is it to require returning payloads? Well, I can think of one payload not a manned science module replaced by ISS - LDEF. This was a satellite flown for several years to test the environmental exposure (atomic oxygen, ultraviolet, micrometeors, etc.) of various materials.

Other payloads that flew and were returned for various reasons - Spartan 201, Wakeshield, Orpheus-Spas, Tethered Satellite. (Okay, TS had problems and the satellite was actually lost. The plan provided for return.) Could the objectives of these payloads have been accomplished as well by expendables? Some maybe. However, recovery allowed multiple flights of some of the payloads for cheaper cost than building new copies of the hardware. The cost to the payload provider was cheaper.

Something to think about.


Well ISS uses the Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (MPLM) Leonardo, Raffaello, and Donatello. (They were named after the famous Italians and not the ninja turtles. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif) Here is a link (http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/assembly/elements/mplm/index.html) and a quote about them.

The three Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, which were built by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), are pressurized modules that serve as the International Space Station's "moving vans," carrying laboratory racks filled with equipment, experiments and supplies to and from the station aboard the space shuttle.

IMO, any shuttle replacement that services the station, should be built to carry these MPLMs.

Kizarvexis


_________________

"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." - James D. Nicoll

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2003-02-09 17:40 ]</font>

roidspop
2003-Feb-10, 04:11 AM
It seems to me that there is too much talk about "space exploration" with regard to the shuttle; essentially it is a truck. The payload it carries can contribute to the exploration of space, of course, but what purpose is served by willfully glamorizing something which would be utterly workaday and unremarkable if re-cast as an earthly counterpart such as a van or truck?

I agree that the most rational next-step for a human push into space would be the creation of a space elevator system. It is amazing to me to see that we are now apparently on the verge of actually being able to build such structures...when I first read "Fountains of Paradise", I never seriously believed I would see that day come.

But if there is a show-stopper (and surely there might be) in the development of such a system, what would make sense for a follow-on or complement to the shuttle? The Roton that was much in the news a few years ago seemed to have a lot of promise, at least in terms of SSTO capability. Was there ever any chance that it might have been developed to the point of actually reaching orbit and returning? Or was it so far over the horizon of current practice that it was really just moonshine?

And, of course, in the end, it seems that we need a goad besides romance and science to send us on into space. The commercialization of space as envisioned by O'Neill seems as close as anything to being a rationale that could push us on to claiming the high frontier. If somebody can make several billion dollars doing something besides parking comsats in GEO, then we'll be on our way.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: roidspop on 2003-02-09 23:25 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: roidspop on 2003-02-09 23:26 ]</font>

Kizarvexis
2003-Feb-10, 04:30 AM
On 2003-02-09 23:11, roidspop wrote:
If somebody can make several billion dollars doing something besides parking comsats in GEO, then we'll be on our way.


I've seen estimates that, IIRC, there is $20 billion worth of metals in the asteroid belt PER person on the earth.

Now we just have to find a way to get there that is cheaper than digging them up from here. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Kizarvexis

Irishman
2003-Feb-10, 03:00 PM
MPLMs!!! I forgot those.