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Old 02-07-2003, 04:46 PM   #41
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You're still not understanding the momentum issue. The foam doesn't just stop instantanously when it deattached from the fuel tank. Yes, the air resistance slows it down, but the impact speed isn't easy to guessimate.


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Old 02-08-2003, 12:50 PM   #42
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But anything even past 100MPH, which is probably underestimating would be enough fpr a 2.7 lbs piece of insulation foam(with probably some ice formed on it) to do some damage. And apparently,we all know that it was enough damage to place those 7 astronauts into their graves.
But one thing that confuses me is why NASA didn't implement a repair procedure. Oh wait, I know, they only wait till they kill of some of their own before they should do it. Perhaps one day they will actually learn to think ahead of time before making yet ANOTHER crucial mistake or wrong assumption. Perhaps this disaster will get NASA to get on top of the ball for once, and actually implement safety procedures. Shuttle repair procedure should be a basic procedure, not some idea to be considered.


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Old 02-08-2003, 03:43 PM   #43
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I think the reason why is because they didn't think it was an issue.

First off, minor tile loss was expected and non-mission critical. The shuttles always came back with some tile lose.

Second, all the tiles are custom made. You can't just bring up some spare tiles.

Third, there's not enough time. The shuttle has a limited amount of fuel, oxygen, etc. Even if they had found major damage, they wouldn't have been able to do much. They didn't have the equipment, time, or fuel to either repair the damage or cut and run to the ISS.

Finally, there's the money issue. We could come up with a safer way to do our space exploration but it would take many more times NASA's current budget. Yes, losing the astronauts and a 2 billion dollar shuttle was bad, but we accepted those risks when we cut NASA's funding dramatically since the Apollo program.


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Old 02-08-2003, 08:33 PM   #44
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Space Shuttle repair should already have been a primary procedure when space travel came to be.
NASA and anyone with a basic understanding of thermal energy and space shuttles knows that even the slightest crack at speeds of MACH 18 and 3000 centigrade is not good. Once that heats get up into the aluminum shielding, the astronauts are basically chicken in the oven as they are heated up to that fatal 3000 centigrade.

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Third, there's not enough time. The shuttle has a limited amount of fuel, oxygen, etc. Even if they had found major damage, they wouldn't have been able to do much. They didn't have the equipment, time, or fuel to either repair the damage or cut and run to the ISS
All they would have to do is stop the shuttle. Then get a couple people out in the suits, and at least inspect the damage so if needed, another shuttle could come up with a repair crew. Because right now, there is more money being spent on the recovery then would be on any procedure that even I could conjure up.

And if losing the Challenger, and the 3 astronauts in Apollo 1 was bad enough, NASA still doesn't have more safety precautions? Hell, Apollo 1 was an accident waiting to happen with its suicide door.


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Old 02-08-2003, 09:19 PM   #45
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They didn't have the money to DO that. Having a emergency shuttle preped and ready to go for every shuttle mission would have cost billions in additon to the money spent on all those extra spacewalks. Our political representives and NASA decided that it wasn't worth it. They made their bed; now they have to lay in it.


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Old 02-09-2003, 03:16 PM   #46
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Well, If NASA would have quit screwing up with their heads up their asses, they would have seen all these problems, and the Government would still be helping in funding NASA. The gov't will only fund project that work, and with NASA repuation being less than reputable, they kind of screwed themselves over for a long time or until they can get themselves onto the positive side of the spectrum, like discovering intelligent life outside of Earth.


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Old 02-09-2003, 05:11 PM   #47
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Nah, I don't think NASA did anything wrong. They just quit having the needed leadership and support from the Prez and Congress. If the Prez said TODAY that we'd be landing on Mars in a decade, NASA could do it (with the financial/political support).


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Old 02-09-2003, 06:58 PM   #48
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Didn't do anything. Let's recall these dates:

1995: Independent specialists, hired by NASA, warn NASA that a piece of foam striking the shuttle and cracking even tearing away the ceramic heat tiles would be sufficient enough to cause probems.

Jan 16th, 2003: During launch, a piece of foam(possibly coated externally with ice) strikes the left wing. Several NASAengineers and specialists confront the mission leaders and other experts that the incident could prove critical in the re-entry of the orbiter.

Feb 1st, 2003: At approximately 9:00am EST, NASA loses contact with the shuttle, and amateur home videos show the shuttle breaking up into many pieces, while specialized Air Force Tracking cameras take photos of the re-entry, which show a jagged/damaged section of the left wing.

"The Columbia is lost."

So, because NASA ignored many warnings over time, they DID do something. They did many things wrong.


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Old 02-09-2003, 07:17 PM   #49
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Hindsight is 20/20. There's ALWAYS some group saying that such and such is a danger. If we pissed our pants everytime a "danger flag" is raised, we'd never get anything done.


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Old 02-10-2003, 12:03 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by Andy867
And apparently,we all know that it was enough damage to place those 7 astronauts into their graves.
Actually, making that statement would be making a blanket assumption. The dislodged foam is definately a possibility (and looks very probable), but there is still much left to examine and several hypotheses left to test. It could easily have been micro-meteorites or tiny space debris. Many contend that it is only a matter of time before a spacecraft encounters some nut or bolt that is orbiting the earth. These bits of debris, themselves, could be traveling at 8 km/sec. Factor in the orbital velocity of the spacecraft, and depending on the bearing of both.... well, bullets on Earth aren't that fast.

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Originally posted by Andy867
But one thing that confuses me is why NASA didn't implement a repair procedure.
There was no way to do so. If one has a flat tire, the driver stops his vehicle and uses the spare. This analogy doesn't work for the shuttle crew for two reasons: 1) they could not possibly carry enough spare tiles. It would require that they have one spare for each in use, since they are that unique; 2) The crew did not have that kind of EVA capability and were probably not trained in EVA since that was not in the mission profile.

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Originally posted by Andy867
Oh wait, I know, they only wait till they kill of some of their own before they should do it. Perhaps one day they will actually learn to think ahead of time before making yet ANOTHER crucial mistake or wrong assumption.
That is a completely ignorant statement. I use the word ignorant because you obviously know little of how NASA works. They are the original thinkers when it comes to contingency planning. So, obviously they "think ahead." I will, however, conceed that it may be time for the Space Program to rethink it's vehicle design. Also, to even suggest that the folks at NASA would be careless with lives is a very calleous and thoughtless statement. NASA is a very tight-knit family. Most of the mission control people consider the mission specialists their friends. I cannot imagine what level of professionalism allowed them to continue calmly at their jobs as their friends perished.

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Originally posted by Andy867
Perhaps this disaster will get NASA to get on top of the ball for once, and actually implement safety procedures.
NASA has been more "on top of the ball" than any other government agency in US History. I wish their level of efficiency existed elswhere. Safety procedures? Going into space is inherently risky. These astronauts knew this. The use a hydrogen bomb to get there for Pete's sake!

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Originally posted by Andy867
Shuttle repair procedure should be a basic procedure, not some idea to be considered.
You're obviously a smart guy.... write a proposal and submit it.

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Originally posted by Andy867
Well, If NASA would have quit screwing up with their heads up their asses, they would have seen all these problems, and the Government would still be helping in funding NASA. The gov't will only fund project that work, and with NASA repuation being less than reputable,....
NASA has always had, and still has, a reputation of being professional and of planning missions to the very second with contingencies for contingencies. I'm not surprised, however, that those that are largely ignorant are willing to step out into the limelight and nay-say as a highly successful organization experiences a tragic loss.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

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Old 02-10-2003, 01:58 AM   #51
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I'm with Skinwalker. To blame this on NASA doesn't seem right. They're doing the best they can with what they got.

As for developing a new form of space travel for NASA will take billions of dollars and years. We'll most certainly have to use the shuttles in the meanwhile to maintain the ISS.


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Old 05-10-2004, 12:43 PM   #52
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This is a long overdue apology.

Two posts up I made a accusation to Andy867 about being ignorant of the workings of NASA as I defended their ability to handle the Space Shuttle Program's administration.

I was probably very wrong and, Andy, I apologize. Sincerely. This has been nagging at me off and on for quite some time and I finally did a search and dug this post up. I didn't remember that the person I was so scathing to was, in fact you, but I did remember the tone I took.

I read, last summer, a book by Richard Feynman: "What do you care what other people think?" In it, Feynman goes into detail about the Challenger investigation (he was a physicist on the committee) and the culture of NASA (from his description, "cultures" would be more accurate) and how this was the main contributor to the faulty "O" rings.

It struck me then, and the apology should have come then, that my assumption about NASA was completely wrong. Having grown up on or near a NASA base as a child (Wallops Island, VA), I had some pre-conceived notions about NASA. I was always impressed with their thouroughness and dedication to a mission, even the small ones. My family was friends with many NASA administrators and, as a toddler, I even had U-2 pilots and crew show me their aircraft and even babysit for me (a guy named Luke, who everyone nicknamed "Coolhand").

In short I was biased and made an emotional response based on that bias. I still hold NASA in very high regard when it comes to the way they operate, only now, I realize and concede that they are people. And as such, have all the same fallibilities as the rest of H. sapiens. Cultural norms, particularly the pressures of the "bottom line" of money and funding can creep into any organization and corrupt it, especially as it grows in population.

I was emotional and biased and I was far more belligerent than I should have been.

I should be ashamed of myself.

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Old 05-13-2004, 11:41 AM   #53
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Just to rack up more bad stuff against NASA, I've been told a conference where some NASA guy proposed cooling a space probe with liquid He-3 Now, recycling He-3 in a zero-g environment is impossible, so they proposed simply allowing it to evaporate into hard vacuum! 3 litres of liquid He-3! AFAIK that's half the available He-3 in the world! Just where did they think that everyone else was supposed to get their helium from after that? At twice the price, at least? Stupid gits with no respect for rare and precious resources.

[edit] Just to give a sense of scale to this, a litre of gaseous He-3 costs roundabout a million dollars.[/i]

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Old 05-13-2004, 03:35 PM   #54
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What a sec, is He-3 just processed helium? There's loads of helium on the planet.

Secondly, you're not truely losing it because it would still be in Earth's gravitation field, right? It would eventually just settle back into the atmosphere.


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Old 05-16-2004, 05:01 PM   #55
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Quote:
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What a sec, is He-3 just processed helium? There's loads of helium on the planet.
Nope. It's a helium isotope (like U-235 is a uranium isotope). And it's an isotope that we don't have in plenty.

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Secondly, you're not truely losing it because it would still be in Earth's gravitation field, right? It would eventually just settle back into the atmosphere.
1) We're talking about a deep space probe.

2) He-4 cannot escape the atmosphere, because it is too heavy, but He-3 is lighter by 25%. I don't know whether He-3 can escape but it would seem likely.

3) Even orbiters are so far out in space that the Earth's gravitational field is too weak to hold back He-3

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Old 05-16-2004, 10:41 PM   #56
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ok, more specifically, is it just rare because it is hard to create or because it's a rare resource that we can't create thru other means?


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Old 05-26-2004, 11:31 AM   #57
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Well, it's a combination, really: There's not a lot of it in the atmosphere, it's hard to extract, and it's hard to store and transport.

As for your other question, then yes, theoretically we can make it, but not in any significant quantities. Besides, even if we could make industrial scale manufacturing plants, you'd still need a nuclear reactor to power it, even without considering waste energy. I sure could find some better way to use a nuclear plant.

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Old 05-26-2004, 05:57 PM   #58
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Define "not a whole lot". You can have a element be very low density (like Uranium) but have a whole lot since there's a lot of earth to refine it from.


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Old 06-05-2004, 02:13 PM   #59
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'Not a whole lot' in absolute numbers. Even if we could improve our means of refining, there'd still be a fairly low upper cap to how much we could produce in total. I don't have the exact figure, but it's a noble gas, and it is fairly light, so one can conjecture that it will tend to escape the atmosphere little by little. Furthermore, it has a high binding energy, which means that it's tough to create in natural processes (He - 4 is much, much more likely). And lastly, it might be unstable, but I'm not sure about that. I'll have to look it up if you want to know.

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Old 06-05-2004, 03:13 PM   #60
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Nah, that's ok.


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Old 06-06-2004, 05:39 PM   #61
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Its ok Skin, some of my remarks were biased in that I was very upset by NASA's lack of resourcefulness to investigate the possibility that the foam that struck the left wing could cause complications, especially since NASA doesnt have the best track record.

What I found really interesting was about 6 months ago, I read a report that way stating that NASA is looking into making a repair procedure for future flights, which could possibly help prevent future incidences, such as the Columbia accident.

For me, the procedure of space repair would be the standarization of parts for the crafts that go up, and make them into components and sections to that if say a wing does get struck, they can initiate a procedure that would have systems start-up that would act as a counter while that section of the wing is removed and repaired, or possibly have the repair vehicle be able to dock with the shuttle or station whatever and help it maneuver while the repairs to the section of the wing, nose, whatever, are being completed.


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Old 06-06-2004, 11:07 PM   #62
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Well, the problem with that strategy is that you'd have to waste huge amounts of resources to do so. They discussed it at the time, but the shuttle didn't have enough fuel to make a run to the space station had they discovered the problem in the first place.

Personally, I think they just need to construct a new shuttle design with a titanium hull that can survive reentry. The problem is that we've haven't been giving NASA the funding to do such projects. As such, they've been stuck with an inferior design for decades.


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Last edited by Andy867; 06-07-2004 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 06-15-2004, 06:14 PM   #63
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The main problem with creating redundant systems is that it takes up weight, and every kg you want to send into orbit costs valuable fuel. Personally, I think that they should scrap the shuttles and use more specialized craft instead. The shuttle is basically a catch-all: It's designed to carry out the following operations

1) Bring stuff into orbit

2) Bring people into orbit

3) Carry out repair functions and experiments in orbit

4) Fetch stuff back to Earth

5) Fetch people back to Earth

Now if the shuttle can use two, three, or four of those capabilities, it pays to use it, but more often than not, it has only one mission, meaning that you send a lot of useless functions into orbit, which is more expensive and hazardous than using single-purpose craft.

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