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sacrelicious
2003-Feb-03, 08:22 PM
an article posted on bostom.com, and then yanked soon after for... obvious reasons:
http://www.neowin.net/comments.php?id=8974&category=main

it's stuff like this that really shows how little respect most reporters have for journalistic integrity. just goes to show, no matter how much of a forgone conclusion the story may seem, WAIT TIL IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR ARTICLE!

Eirik
2003-Feb-03, 08:35 PM
Hardly a unique mistake in the world of the newspaperman. Think "Dewey Defeats Truman" or even "Titanic Safe after striking Iceberg"....

Doodler
2003-Feb-03, 08:40 PM
Nothing out of the ordinary there, there was no mention of a safe landing or anything deliberately wrong. It looks like a form-letter style article that was written for a newspaper with no direct connection to the event itself. This was probably written Friday night for an open spot in a Saturday column.

ToSeek
2003-Feb-03, 08:42 PM
Allegedly the Washington Post had a similar article on their website for a while.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-03, 08:56 PM
These sorts of articles are routinely written in advance in anticipation of certain events. However, they shouldn't necessarily be published ahead of the event.

I'm not bothered by premature indications of success as much as I am by blatantly wrong reporting. Some gems from the CNN ticker:

"When contact was lost, Columbia was traveling at 18 times the speed of light."

"Other ships named Columbia include ... the command module for Apollo 11, the first spacecraft to land on the moon."

I can be charitable and cut reporters some slack for goofing specific details about shuttle operations under periods of extreme stress. These particular errors I don't find especially excusable.

On the whole I think the coverage has been helpful, tasteful, and reasonably well informed.

Doodler
2003-Feb-03, 09:48 PM
I heard one about the Columbia breaking up at 207 feet. I think we ought to forgive these for a couple reasons, one this is a nasty tragedy that took us all by the heartstrings and threw us against a wall. Journalistic objectivity be damned, even the anchors were hurting visibly. Second, these aren't the most technically oriented people out there, so the instinctive knowledge that most of us here have with jargon is something of a challenge to them at the BEST of times, and i heard not one misspoken term that someone did not catch after a moment or so, at least on CNN-HLN.

Doodler
2003-Feb-03, 10:10 PM
http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101030210/sceasterbrook.html?cnn=yes


Here's one I found from the "stick your head in the sand till it goes away" crowd. This one reminds me a Monday morning armchair quarterback in action. My thought here is the same I had when the "average" American was grousing about how the Mir should have been scrapped after the supply ship accident. They can tell you all about how its junk and shouldn't fly, but get real quiet when you ask them to come up with a better idea.

Bill S.
2003-Feb-04, 03:35 PM
On 2003-02-03 16:48, Doodler wrote:
I heard one about the Columbia breaking up at 207 feet.


Heh. I wish that had been the case. We could've just caught the crew with a net.
:/

kilopi
2003-Feb-04, 04:10 PM
On 2003-02-03 15:40, Doodler wrote:
Nothing out of the ordinary there, there was no mention of a safe landing or anything deliberately wrong. It looks like a form-letter style article that was written for a newspaper with no direct connection to the event itself. This was probably written Friday night for an open spot in a Saturday column.

I've read the article at the link three times, and I can't find anything to support that. The second paragraph says "The early morning fog burned off as the sun rose, and Mission Control gave the seven astronauts the go-ahead to come home on time. 'I guess you've been wondering, but you are 'go' for the deorbit burn,' Mission Control radioed at practically the last minute."

The dateline is 2/1/2003 8:20. When was the go ahead given? Aren't the details accurate up to that time?

Doodler
2003-Feb-04, 04:15 PM
After 113 shuttle landings how routine do you think that call was? He was describing ahead of time the very call that would have occurred if nothing had happened out of the ordinary. You will note he did not say EXACTLY what was said. As I said, its a generic piece of writing. Not to defend it as the "way journalism should be done", but if no accident had occurred, it would never have been commented on.

Quasi
2003-Feb-04, 04:37 PM
A couple things that bug me about the above Time article:

1. The author's insistance that the Shuttle is needlessly dangerous. Umm.. 2 shuttles lost in 20+ years is alot less than what most people expected I'm sure. Especially compared with the Apollo missions. Accidents happen, and as far as our space program goes I believe that relatively few accidents happen considering how inherintly dangerous space flight is. And why throw in the one Russian manned flight that ended in tradgedy? Utterly pointless.

2. The author seems to bring up Challenger to try and bring home the point that the Shuttle is flawed from the start. Of course this article later makes mention that it was the rocket booster, not the shuttle itself, that caused the Challenger explosion. It always seems to amaze me how people love to compare apples and oranges.

3. Who thought an old HB argument would find its way into this whole thing? The author says that until recently the flight-deck used old 8086 (think 286, 386, and 486 processors)chips to run the computers, and then goes on to needlessly say that no self-respecting teen would play video games on these. Just how in the world does this guy get away with drawing completely irrelevant comparisons? Did anyone tell this guys that the Astronouts do NOT have any need to play Quake 3 while in low orbit. A 486 is/was sufficient for the tasks handled by the shuttle. Especially back when it was first designed.

4. The author then finally comes to the conclusion that unmanned rockets can do everything a human can do in space. HA! Do you really want to attempt sending unmanned rockets in to try and do things like dock with the ISS? Call me paranoid but NASA has low expectations for its unmanned missons. An automated rocket can't cope with every contingency that may arise during a delicate procedure like docking. Doing so would be even more risky than sending manned flights.

JayUtah
2003-Feb-04, 05:34 PM
The author's insistance that the Shuttle is needlessly dangerous.

It is, for some applications. Because STS was design both as the principal heavy-lift booster and as the principal manned orbital spacecraft, it requires the heavy-lift application to satisfy the constraints of human spaceflight. This puts astronauts unnecessarily at risk. Thankfully this is not so much the case now as when STS first became operational.

On the other side of the coin the shuttle is uniquely adapted for many roles, especially orbital construction and checkout. No other spacecraft in the world can do this as well.

Reliability, of course, is another question. "Unnecessary risk" implies that the job could be done just as well with less risk. That, of course, depends on the job. You can think of two catastrophic failures in more than 20 years of operation, and this seems consistent with expectations for manned space flight. But you can also look at it as, on average, one catastrophic failure per 50 missions, which isn't so great. Yes, better than Apollo, but not necessarily where we want to be. For an "operational" system I would like to see a catastrophic failure rate of 1 in 100 or 1 in 200.

Accidents do happen, and we need to put space exploration in perspective compared to other high-risk occupations. Space travel is not necessarily more dangerous than other occupations, but it is what we call "tightly coupled," meaning it is quite intolerant of incapacity and inattention.

The author seems to bring up Challenger to try and bring home the point that the Shuttle is flawed from the start.

It is, if by "flaw" you mean something that wanted to have been done better. Chalk it up to budget and to too many people having a finger in the pie. Challenger really didn't have much to do with that. Every design will have flaws. People who say, "If it hadn't been for those boosters..." or, "If it hadn't been for those tiles..." don't realize that every design will have a weakness.

The author says that until recently the flight-deck used old 8086 (think 286, 386, and 486 processors)chips to run the computers

I'm not sure what the author is referring to, but the initial design was built around the IBM AP-101 computer. I believe the current revision is the AP-101S, using CMOS technology.

The AP-101 is a tried and true design for a guidance computer. It's essentially "off-the-shelf".

no self-respecting teen would play video games on these.

Obviously irrelevant. The business and consumer world judges computers by raw speed and processing capacity, and ignores the occasional crashes and low MTBF. Computers to which you entrust your life are those which are built to take a licking and keep on ticking. Reliability and correctness are the chief criteria for a digital control system.

The author then finally comes to the conclusion that unmanned rockets can do everything a human can do in space.

A completely absurd conclusion. I wonder sometimes if these people even know what is done in space. Wernher von Braun strongly advocated human space flight, although he also recognized the value of automation. Exploration is always best done in person.

heliopause
2003-Feb-04, 09:32 PM
On 2003-02-03 17:10, Doodler wrote:
http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101030210/sceasterbrook.html?cnn=yes


Here's one I found from the "stick your head in the sand till it goes away" crowd. This one reminds me a Monday morning armchair quarterback in action(emphasis mine). My thought here is the same I had when the "average" American was grousing about how the Mir should have been scrapped after the supply ship accident. They can tell you all about how its junk and shouldn't fly, but get real quiet when you ask them to come up with a better idea.


Interesting, since the Gregg Easterbrook that wrote this column actually writes a column for Espn.com called "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" which The BA linked to here http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=3648&forum=3&5

Just one of those "small world" type of things.

_________________
"You've got your whole life to do something, and that's not very long."
-Ani DiFranco

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: heliopause on 2003-02-04 16:33 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: heliopause on 2003-02-04 16:34 ]</font>

chascarrillo
2003-Feb-05, 08:00 AM
Here's another example of bad shuttle astronomy.

http://home.attbi.com/~jlhouk/cnnlight.jpg
On a lesser note, one of the cable news channels had a caption that said that the shuttle was flying at "mock 18" [sic].

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: chascarrillo on 2003-02-05 03:04 ]</font>

DaveOlden
2003-Feb-05, 10:18 AM
On 2003-02-04 12:34, JayUtah wrote:
The author says that until recently the flight-deck used old 8086 (think 286, 386, and 486 processors)chips to run the computers

I'm not sure what the author is referring to, but the initial design was built around the IBM AP-101 computer. I believe the current revision is the AP-101S, using CMOS technology.

The AP-101 is a tried and true design for a guidance computer. It's essentially "off-the-shelf".



Over coffee with my friend and computer tech Rob, I told him about this post, and the 8086's. He nodded when I mentioned the IBM AP-101.

Although not an authority, as an enthusiast, he is under the impression that there were "8088's, but in non-mission-critical subsystems."

I asked if he could cite sources on that.

"No, that's just my understanding from when Nasa was picking them up years ago."