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Fraser
2007-Jul-27, 09:01 PM
What a terrible couple of days for spaceflight. I thought NASA was having a tough time with its drunken astronauts and sabotage, but that pales in comparison to what happened in the Mojave Desert yesterday. ...

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2007/07/27/3-dead-3-injured-at-spaceshiptwo-explosion/)

spensyr
2007-Jul-27, 11:09 PM
Believe me, I'm not eager to be the next conspiracy theorist, but, while the tragic deaths and injuries among the SpaceShipTwo personnel cannot be reversed, I do hope they find a plausible explanation other than possible sabotage. What concerns me most here is that every knowledgeable source commenting on the explosion seems to consider it highly IM-plausible.

I noticed tucked away in a BBC article today on the miscreant behavior by NASA personnel that NASA also recently found "obvious sabotage" inside equipment scheduled for the next space shuttle run to the International Space Station.

NASA's doing every thing they can to play down the potential impact of the equipment sabotage, stressing that it would not have had life-threatening effect on the space station had the sabotage escaped detection. However, with Homeland Security issuing a warning very recently to airports after detecting what appear to be several incidents of potential commercial airline attack rehearsals, who knows what's in the pipeline elsewhere?

I would assume that Rutan has good security, but then I would have assumed so did NASA. However, if a member of an educated and sophisticated American terrorist cell wants horrific headlines but feels frustrated by finding other avenues to generate them, that person ought to recall the immediate and long-lasting emotional impact of the Challenger disaster on the entire free world.

Even if the SpaceShipTwo tragedy proves to be an unfortunate but true accident, I still encourage NASA, the SpaceShipTwo development team, and all other high profile space travel and exploration projects to use recent events as serious and immediate motivation to review and to adjust their security regimens now to account for the increased potential of terrorist exploitation.

Cyber_I
2007-Jul-28, 12:42 AM
My heart goes out to the people that lost there lives or were injured! They too are heros and should be honoured like everyone else lost in the humans quest for space travel!

I hate seeing negative press about any space program...it's another reason for some unintelligent person to try and cut funding!

Jerry
2007-Jul-30, 02:05 PM
Believe me, I'm not eager to be the next conspiracy theorist, but, while the tragic deaths and injuries among the SpaceShipTwo personnel cannot be reversed, I do hope they find a plausible explanation other than possible sabotage. What concerns me most here is that every knowledgeable source commenting on the explosion seems to consider it highly IM-plausible.

Unlikely.

Even a cold test of a nitrous engine pumping system has dangerous risk factors: A miss-aligned gasket or O-ring, a bolt that is not properly torqued. That is why they run cold tests - hoping to find the minor, hidden flaws before lighting a fire under the system. Unfortunately, some flaws can create enough heat energy to ignite a fuel without lighting a match.

In a pressurized oxidizer system, all of the pipes and fittings must be perfectly clean, containing no sources of fuel - not even the oil often used to lubricate gaskets. If even a small amount of hydrocarbons from any source is left in a tank or line, when high pressure gas is introduced, the ambient gas can be quickly rammed to high pressure, heating it to the auto-ignition temperature of the trapped oil - dieseling. In a nitrous oxide system, this could immediately result in a devastating explosion.

I have even seen incidents where an unscrupulous vendor has substituted substandard bolts in a certified lot. One time a barrel of a raw ingredient used to make high energy fuel was spilled by a night crew and quickly cleaned up and put back in the barrel - along with rat droppings.

Burt's crew was a small and close knit bunch. The desert temperatures extreme, the financial pressure on the project palpable. Many things can and do go wrong. It is very sad, and as NASA has already learned, space tourism carries with it Everest size risks.

John Mendenhall
2007-Aug-01, 04:50 PM
Getting off Earth requires huge amounts of energy. The physics is unrelenting. Getting back requires the same. We have seen shuttles destroyed on lift off and on reentry. The Russians have had similar experiences. A space elevator may not have such high energy concentrations, but lifting weights to orbit still requires the same amount of work. Everybody seems to have abandoned space planes. The early 'this is easy' NASA attitude about the shuttle was simply wrong - getting into space is expensive and dangerous. Rutan and company just showed it to us again.

What can we do? I would propose putting everything on hold for the manned programs while we thrash out which direction to go. I don't like it, but the instrument programs might be the way to do things for right now.

publiusr
2007-Aug-10, 09:21 PM
More here:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=9002&posts=130&start=1