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Columbia Accident Board Preliminary Recommendations

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the picking-up-the-pieces dept.

Space 170

fwc writes "The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) has released some preliminary recommendations to NASA - To do a better job at inspecting the leading edge of the shuttle's wings, and also to ensure that pictures of the orbiter are taken while in orbit. More recommendations are to follow in the full report which is expected in June. More detailed information on the recommendations are at space.com and spaceflightnow.com. NASA Administrator O'Keefe seems optimistic that they will be able to return the shuttle fleet to flight by the end of the year since there has been no show-stopping problems which have been discovered during the investigation."

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170 comments

In Prison (aka webchat.org) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759069)

They use high powered telescopes to verify you own your nickname.

If you need a space-monkey... (2, Insightful)

maelstrom (638) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759078)

I'll gladly volunteer to go up on any shuttle missions to test out the safety :) I can't help but feel that the shuttle program, with all its warts, is still vital and needs to continue.

Re:If you need a space-monkey... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759103)

And also you want your name to be spread far and wide ...just like your ashes....

Re:If you need a space-monkey... (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759843)

I can't help but feel that the shuttle program, with all its warts, is still vital and needs to continue.

I strongly dis-agree. the SPACE program is still vital and needs to continue but the horribly outdated Shuttle program needs to be given an end of life that is in the near future and rapidly design a new more capable and efficient system to replace it with.

I dont know about you but the space programs in both major countries is pretty much a joke. We are flying in a 1982 Reliant K car while the russians ar still flying in their 1957 studebaker.

we have the technology right now for several updated and higher performance launch systems that will be a good basis for getting to Mars and the rest of the inner solar system... a place where we should have been over 10 years ago. Its the idiots and morons we keep voting into office that can't pull their heads out of their arses or the major corperations arses long enough to act like the leaders they are supposed to be.

Dont get me wrong, the shuttle engineers are an amazing crew to keep that old thing flying and somewhat updated, and the same goes for the Soyuz engineers... amazing men doing fricking amazing things with a ball of twine and a roll of duct-tape.

As those are the only approved materials that congress let's nasa use anymore.

Maybe in my children's lifetime we will get a government here in the US that has enough leadership and balls to actually get us there... but I highly doubt it. The chineese will get there first.

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759080)

Here's my recommendation: stop sending people into space to be destroyed you cum monkeys!!!

Tasteless FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759087)

Dead people! Haahhahah! FP!!

The Long Lost Code (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759090)

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HitPoints:
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Attack:
01FE7ED1
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Defence:
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010181D1
Special:
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010183D1
Speed:
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0 10185D1
Genes:
01FF86D1
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by http://www.azureheights.com

Wait a sec... (2, Funny)

iworm (132527) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759092)

"there has been no show-stopping problems which have been discovered during the investigation."

Well no, other than the strong suspicion that a chunk of the craft can fall off during lift-off and fatally damage the vehicle...

Re:Wait a sec... (4, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759171)

A chunk of the craft didn't fall off.

Some insulation on the fuel tank did.

So far the Columbia Accident board has said that before resuming shuttle missions NASA must do a better job inspecting the leading edge of the spaceplanes' wings and ensure that the nation's spy satellites capture detailed images of the orbiter during each flight.

Re:Wait a sec... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759251)

Lies! A chunk of the craft didn't fall off. In fact the craft is still in orbit as anyone can plainly see , Allah be praised.

Re:Wait a sec... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759260)

ah, the iraqi info minister always comes out with the truth in the end!

Re:Wait a sec... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759333)

Wait -- I thought a bunch of Iraqi farmers shot it down with old rifles.

Re:Wait a sec... (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759252)

"there has been no show-stopping problems which have been discovered during the investigation."

Well no, other than the strong suspicion that a chunk of the craft can fall off during lift-off and fatally damage the vehicle...

That and the rather conspicuous lack of (1) shuttle. Are they planning to build another, or just spread out launches for the reduced rotation?

Maybe Richard [thisisbristol.com] Branson [guardian.co.uk] can dig one up...

Re:Wait a sec... (0)

madman101 (571954) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759359)

I've read that it is no longer possible to build another shuttle, the facilities no longer exist. You would have to ramp up the production facility from scratch, something they didn't have to do to replace Challenger.

Re:Wait a sec... (0)

Lershac (240419) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759506)

Every shuttle is pretty much a custom, unique job. In the big picture, the costs of facility set-up would be miniscule.

Re:Wait a sec... (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759515)

I've read that it is no longer possible to build another shuttle, the facilities no longer exist. You would have to ramp up the production facility from scratch, something they didn't have to do to replace Challenger.

You know, a bizarre side effect of this occured to me as I read your post. Now that shuttles are no longer replaceable, and they're proving to be less (ahem) "durable" than it first appeared, we should soon reach the point where we run low on shuttles and finally have to develop and field a better oribiter design like so many of us have been waiting for.

poop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759095)

at got your tongue? (something important seems to be missing from your comment ... like the body or the subject!)

Show stoppers? (3, Funny)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759096)

NASA Administrator O'Keefe seems optimistic that they will be able to return the shuttle fleet to flight by the end of the year since there has been no show-stopping problems which have been discovered during the investigation."

So a 1-in-50 catastrophic failure rate is not considered a show stopper? At this rate, we'll be out of shuttles in another 150 flights. Would you use software that crashed 1-in-50 times? The shuttle is the "Internet Explorer" of space vehicles...

Re:Show stoppers? (4, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759148)

Would you use software that crashed 1-in-50 times

Depends a lot on the software and what you mean by 1-50 times. As an example, take your OS (please ;), I reboot maybe once every couple of weeks. If we said an average of once a week, we're talking one OS crash every year, now that's not too shabby. If we're talking web servers that crashed every 50th http request, that obviously would not be good. If we're talking web broswers that crashed every 50th page request, that would suck. If it crashed every 50th time I fired it up, that would be great (again since I have a usage pattern that starts the browser once and I never close it).

The shuttle is similar, given that almost any problem can easily turn into a catastophic problem, how much of that failure rate is intrinisic in the activity (e.g. no matter how safe you try to make mountain climbing, there is always an element of risk that is higher than many other activities). And the frequency of that activity, if we're talking 50 missions at two missions a year, that's a lot of years between failures. Hey, that's what makes being an astronaut what it is, a risk, that's why they are elevated to such a high status (unfortunately often times not until AFTER something bad happens).

Re:Show stoppers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759462)

>> As an example, take your OS (please ;)

What? XP is rock-solid you zealot!

It's so solid I dropped it in water and use it now to anchor my yacht!

And there's no BSoD anymore! It's beautifully themed now, jerk!

What's about this Linux obsession with stability?

Re:Show stoppers? (2, Insightful)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759594)

The shuttle is similar, given that almost any problem can easily turn into a catastophic problem, how much of that failure rate is intrinisic in the activity (e.g. no matter how safe you try to make mountain climbing, there is always an element of risk that is higher than many other activities).

It's a hallmark of poor design that the shuttle is not fault tolerant. Looking back at the Mercury / Gemini / Apollo missions, they were largely safe because:

1) Simple design -- as few moving parts as possible (largely to save weight).
2) By design they were fault tolerant. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize that something that falls directly down to earth and then pops a parachute to land in the ocean is going to be more reliable than a giant glider with wings which has to land itself on a runway.

And the frequency of that activity, if we're talking 50 missions at two missions a year, that's a lot of years between failures. Hey, that's what makes being an astronaut what it is, a risk, that's why they are elevated to such a high status (unfortunately often times not until AFTER something bad happens).

But the shuttle was supposed to fly one a week. Why do you think it doesn't? And why do you think it is hugely more expensive than its supposed to be?

Just because Astronauts are willing to do it doesn't make it a good idea. They find people to be suicide bombers but that's not justified now is it?

This report just highlights the "band-aid" nature of any fixes to the shuttle. X happened so we must protect against X. Then Y happens and the thing crashes.

And if the shuttle had broken up over somewhere more populated, would you still be saying it was worth the risk?

Re:Show stoppers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759158)

Would you use software that crashed 1-in-50 times?

I do, it's called LINUX.

Re:Show stoppers? (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759170)

So a 1-in-50 catastrophic failure rate is not considered a show stopper? At this rate, we'll be out of shuttles in another 150 flights. Would you use software that crashed 1-in-50 times? The shuttle is the "Internet Explorer" of space vehicles...

Ooooo. You don't like shuttles, do you? I'd say, if NASA were run by Microsoft they'd recommend setting the clock back and trying again...

"Well, there goes the shuttle Explorer 2003 SP1, up in flames. Condolences will be sent to loved ones, and flights will continue while they work on SP2. Meanwhile, in other news, Microsoft lobbyists have renewed pressure on Congress to black out any public notification of these shuttle disasters."

Re:Show stoppers? (3, Informative)

codegen (103601) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759274)

Would you use software that crashed 1-in-50 times

You mean like Windows 95, which could not stay up for more than 49 days continuously (MS technote Q216641)?

Errmmm (2, Interesting)

w.p.richardson (218394) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759305)

You are missing a key point.

The space shuttles are man made vehicles designed to take people into space! There are going to be inherent risks with such undertakings, but this is the nature of space exploration. Time will provide safer alternatives, but for now 1/50 isn't bad.

The astronauts know these risks too, and they willingly assume them.

PS: The Internet Explorer comment is unnecessary.

Faulty reasoning (3, Insightful)

Codex The Sloth (93427) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759518)

The space shuttles are man made vehicles designed to take people into space! There are going to be inherent risks with such undertakings, but this is the nature of space exploration. Time will provide safer alternatives, but for now 1/50 isn't bad.

Really? The Mercury/Gemini/Apollo program didn't kill anyone in a flight (3 were killed on the ground and another 3 came about as close as possible) and that was in the 60s and they were going to the moon. The reason the space shuttle has a higher failure rate is simply that it has more moving parts and things to go wrong. The shuttle failure rate would be significantly higher if it really flew once a week as it was designed to and if the per flight costs were what they were expected to be. Doesn't the fact that it flies 1/50th of the amount it was designed to tell you something about the difference between the expected failure rate and the actual failure rate?

The astronauts know these risks too, and they willingly assume them.

They are brave people, no question. I'm sure, given the choice, they would rather fly in a safer space craft and risk there lives for something more important than studying the effects of weightlessness on tiny screws.

And what if the columbia had broken up over a populated area of California rather than empty portion of Texas. Would all those people who gave their lives appreciate the risk that was being taken on their behalf?

PS: The Internet Explorer comment is unnecessary.

Well IE never killed anyone (although I could be wrong on that) -- they are both crap though.

Re:Show stoppers? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759571)

We would need to know what "show stopper" means. I think a show stopping problem might mean a flaw that would mean permanently grounding the fleet because it is unfixable.

Comparing the risk to to IE is not the same, in some ways worse. For IE to compare, then there would be a 2% chance that any startup would completely destroy the computer to the point of unsalvageability of parts, and also kill its user.

NASA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759101)

Need Another Seven Astronauts

Um... (1)

mschoolbus (627182) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759102)

Shouldn't NASA be fully aware of this already? I think in pretty much most cases they know what they are doing, at least more than anybody else knows what they are doing...

US Taxpayer columbia board recommends (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759121)

STOP SENDING PEOPLE UP INTO SPACE TO BE DESTROYED YOU CUM GUZZLING BEAURACRATIC MONKEYS!!!!
--
Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal [jennycraig.com].
Poblems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal [weightwatchers.com].
Probems regahding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal [tugbirl.com].

Not very encouraging... (4, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759122)

So they'll do more thorough inspections before reentry - but they still haven't addressed the issue of what to do if they actually find something wrong. As I understand it, there is no capacity to perform such repair work while in orbit.

So again, what do they do if they find a problem? Just upload an MP3 of "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"???

Re:Not very encouraging... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759143)

Damn that's a whack troll. You're a faggot, and probably a loser as well.

Re:Not very encouraging... (1)

CrazySteve7 (660500) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759330)

There is a way to repair damaged tiles in orbit. The Columbia mission didnt have the right equipment to do it, or the gear to spacewalk to the underside of the orbiter.

Re:Not very encouraging... (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759347)

Then I'm surprised not hear among these recommendations that such equipment and gear be required for each mission. After all, they didn't always pack seven astronauts in each mission. At what point does making room for additional crew reduce space for safety-related material???

Re:Not very encouraging... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759735)

There is a way to repair damaged tiles in orbit.

Do you have any specifics on this?

Reminds me of something I saw here.. (0, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759123)

Columbia Accident Board Preliminary Recommendations

Reminds me of something I saw here..

The president, when presented with the findings, gave it much serious thought and consideration then recommended drilling for oil in Alaska.

Anyone else notice another attempt to sneak that through in the last few weeks.

Re:Reminds me of something I saw here.. (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759172)

At this point you have two choices: you can shut down alaska and force everyone to relocate to the lower 48, or you can open anwar. That's the economic reality up there atm, and is likely to remain so for quite some time.

Anyone who tells you differnt hasn't lived up there, or is lying (most probably both).

Re:Reminds me of something I saw here.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759195)

At this point you have two choices: you can shut down alaska and force everyone to relocate to the lower 48, or you can open anwar. That's the economic reality up there atm, and is likely to remain so for quite some time.

What? With all that oil soon to be flowing from Iraq...?

Re:Reminds me of something I saw here.. (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759236)

What? With all that oil soon to be flowing from Iraq...?


Exactly; so the one resource that alaska DOES have is being undercut even more (as if selling off the rights to BP wasn't bad enough!)....

Command & Conquer? (0)

Lershac (240419) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759574)

Hasn't anyone ever played C & C on large maps? CONSERVE the resources close to home and exploit those that are harder to protect and defend, before everyone has a chance to use them. That makes your home resources veeeery valuable in the end-game when money is tight, and denies your opponents access to the resources you used in the beginning. So, yeah, lets keep importing oil until we HAVE to use ours.

show-stopping problems (3, Informative)

ih8apple (607271) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759126)

The problem I have with there being no "show-stopping problems" is that they are white-washing the risk away. There is inherent risk in space flight and the public is stupid if they think that it's now somehow safe (until they are shocked when the next O-Ring or Leading-Edge-of-the-Wing fails.)

Here's a good analysis from 1996 [gladwell.com] about the Challenger disaster and inherent risk that people need to accept.

Re:show-stopping problems (4, Insightful)

Surak (18578) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759319)

Exactly, especially when there are rockets or rocket engines involved. Rockets work via a large controlled explosion. The larger the explosion (the more thrust), the harder it is to control that explosion. Anytime you're strapping people into a vehicle that has close to 6 million pounds of thrust [nasa.gov] behind it, you're taking a risk that the explosive power behind that ~6 million pounds isn't going to get away from you. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that. ;)

Re:show-stopping problems (4, Interesting)

XNormal (8617) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759381)

There is inherent risk in space flight

And it's made much greater by operating a vehicle with razor-thin margins. Take a look at this amazing story [jamesoberg.com] about the reentry of Soyuz 5. One of the things that struck me was how robust soviet space hardware is. The shuttle, by comparison, is extremely fragile. It couldn't possibly take one percent of the punishment that Volynov's capsule took.

And yet Boris Volynov is alive to tell the story.

Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Blair and Ilan Ramon are not.

The Russian space program had its share of lethal accidents - but it also had several major accidents where the crew survived. With the shuttle the abort modes are mostly theoretical. In practice any serious accident means loss of the entire crew.

Re:show-stopping problems (3, Informative)

amabbi (570009) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759590)

you are oversimplying things. the soyuz safety record, i believe, is actually worse than the shuttles (the shuttle had 2 catastrophic failures in 140 some-odd flights, the soyuz had 2 catastrophic failures in 130 some-odd flights.. or something to that effect). previous shuttle flights have come back with meteor damage, wing damage, tile damage..

Funny man (0, Informative)

iworm (132527) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759127)

from the picking-up-the-pieces dept.

Michael, you are either (a) thoughtless or (b) have one sick sense of humour. Or both.

In a nutshell... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759130)

Be more careful! As if NASA wasn't already careful.

SLI (1)

danratherfan (624592) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759131)

I'd have recommended that they didn't cancel the 2nd generation shuttle part of the SLI. Can you believe they want to keep flying those death traps till 2022? Jeez.

Are you listening Carmack? (4, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759134)

Space is some scary, dangerous shit. You dont want anything to do with it, trust me.

Finish Doom 3 please.

Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (4, Interesting)

patmandu (247443) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759154)

I mean, they go over it with a fine-toothed comb before they launch, and then a couple of weeks later they just say "OK, everybody buckle in, we're heading home". Sheesh, it takes more than that to fly a private plane, doesn't it? You do a pre-flight check, you fly, you land, then you do another pre-flight before you fly home again. Is that so hard a concept to apply here?

How come they don't have some tethered drone camera dingus that does an inch-by-inch surveilance of the important bits while they're still in orbit? Why bother with all the "well, if we use a 3-foot-long-telephoto-spy-lens..." crap?

Heck, here's another opportunity for Canada to come to the rescue, just add another attachment on to the big shuttle bay crane arm.

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (5, Insightful)

rand.srand() (243903) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759382)

You are at 30,000 feet in your 747. You've been flying for 11 hours. You decide to go and do a prelanding check because hell, anything could have broken and you've got 200 innocent people on board. In your checklist you discover that one of the wings has lost 14 of its 18 welding points.

You can't repair anything away from your repair facility. You can't land the thing any differently than you normally would to reduce stress. And you can't transfer your passengers to a different plane while in the sky. There's no parachutes. Why did you even bother checking?

And that's a 747 very close to the surface going much slower built with much less exotic materials.

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (2, Insightful)

patmandu (247443) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759591)

Ya, but the big difference is that the shuttle crew has the *opportunity* to have some surveillance checks...the 747 isn't flying for 2 weeks.

Think Silent Running with the little drone guys.

And as far as 'you can't fix it so why look?', the flipside is 'if you know it's going to blow up, why try to land it?'

If you know there is a problem, you have an outside chance of doing something about it. If you don't know, then you're screwed.

Heck, I'm sure that given the choice of toasting a crew and a multi-billion-dollar ship, and sitting down to do some creative thinking, NASA would choose the thinking.

Even if it couldn't be repaired quickly, they might luck out with the launch windows and be able to launch another ship/shuttle to offload the crew, and nudge the damaged into a higher orbit to buy some time. Maybe having a rescue mission waiting in the wings becomes a new launch criteria.

If you really can't fix it, you tow it up to the USS and use it for a new rec room or something :)

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759758)

jesus fucking christ, this is the tiredest suggestion ever. read a few facts, it will do you good.

COLUMBIA WAS NOT CAPABLE OF REACHING THE SPACE STATION'S ORBIT. Not with the science module, not with the Canada Arm, not with bare kit, NOT EVER.

asshat.

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759799)

On a 747, you can not climb out on a wing whilst it is flight. On a shuttle you can once you are out of the atmosphere. A 747 is very well understood and flies well within its envelope.

When the shuttle was built, repair was not a possibility. SInce then, materials tech has improved and there are a number of materials which could have significantly increased survivability.

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (1)

amabbi (570009) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759429)

Heck, here's another opportunity for Canada to come to the rescue, just add another attachment on to the big shuttle bay crane arm.

probably wouldn't have been very useful, considering columbia wasn't carrying the canadarm...

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759463)

I mean, they go over it with a fine-toothed comb before they launch, and then a couple of weeks later they just say "OK, everybody buckle in, we're heading home". Sheesh, it takes more than that to fly a private plane, doesn't it? You do a pre-flight check, you fly, you land, then you do another pre-flight before you fly home again. Is that so hard a concept to apply here?

You're misidentifying the orbit phase of the mission. The orbit phase is not the same as landing at your destination in a plane. It's still part of the flying through the air stage. The difference is, you only have the passengers/pilots of the vehicle available to check the thing over while you're in orbit, and any repeairs you might attempt are a little trickier than sending for the NASA contracted grease monkey from Rockwell to bang on the fuel pump of the engine with a wrench. Think about it.

Heck, here's another opportunity for Canada to come to the rescue, just add another attachment on to the big shuttle bay crane arm.

The arm already HAS a camera attachment. The problem is that the arm is quite heavy and takes up space in the cargo bay. This is fine when they're just going up to launch a satellite, but when they go up with a lab module, there isn't enough room or weight capacity to bring it along so they have to LEAVE THE ARM AT HOME.

Re:Why is there not 2 pre-flight checks? (1)

gandhii (658409) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759612)

Comparatively speaking, going over the shuttle with a fine toothed comb is a "pre-flight check". As would be checking the shuttle with a telephoto lense or any other device while it is in orbit.

Btw, it should be apparrent that walking around the shuttle and kicking its wheels or a similar cursory inspection that a private plane's preflight check is, would not make a difference to any of the problems that have brought shuttles down so far.

"Accident?" Doubtful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759165)

You won't see this on any of the major news networks (surprise, surprise) but there is significant reason to believe that there is a large clandestine Syrian presence within NASA. There is also evidence that the nation of Syria and people acting on its behalf actively worked to sabotage the February Columbia mission. Many of NASA's employees are immigrants and lots of them who are directly involved with the Shuttle program are Syrian. There is also much evidence of disgruntlement among the Syrians with the prospect of the first Israeli astronaut.

Write your congressman and President Bush and make the following things clear:

  • We will not tolerate acts of terrorism from the nation or people of Syria
  • We will take action when our national treasures (in particular, our space program) are attacked
  • We will not tolerate rogue states with active chemical and biological weapons programs
  • We cannot allow an outlaw nation to harbor Iraqi fugitives and war criminals
Syria has long been a staging ground for nefarious acts of all shapes and sizes. It's time that we let them know that this must come to an end.

Shuttle Fleet? (1)

Fenis-Wolf (239374) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759176)

Shouldn't that be "shuttle" instead of shuttle fleet?

Re:Shuttle Fleet? (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759431)

Shouldn't that be "shuttle" instead of shuttle fleet?

No, there is more than one shuttle in the fleet. Endeavour and Atlantis are two that pop into my mind.

If you have a pile of stones and you start removing them one by one, then at what point can't you call it a pile anymore?

Executive summary (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759184)

Here are the findings in a nutshell:
Shit happens. Get over it.

Is a fucking conspiracy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759243)

to make everyone sympathetic to that jew who was on board, or maybe they had some nuclear weapons on board, or maybe it was a just a distraction from the heat Bush was getting for the world war he's started.

Noticed everyone rallied round the flag for these poor seven people who died on a nice little space flight, but nobody gives a fuck about the thousands of people who starve every year, or the people that got killed and maimed by USA bombs in Iraq. Yeah, good priorities. Fuckwits.

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759313)

World wars generally have multiple countries on both sides, and the area of conflict is usually larger than a few hundred square miles. Plz fix thx.

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759337)

One word: syria. plz dy thnx

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759450)

Uh, are there US troops in Syria? Or are you one of those paranoid leftists who think that Bush is a warmongering idiot who is going to invade the whole Middle East one country at a time? Do you think that because some (a minority) on the right want to do just that, that Bush is automatically a part of that minority? Bush has already made the decision to rule out military intervention in Syria. It's just not being well-publicized because we want to keep the heat up on them. Learn the difference between using your military for diplomatic leverage and actually fighting, hippie.

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759474)

Bush has already made the decision to rule out military intervention in Syria. It's just not being well-publicized because we want to keep the heat up on them.

Sounds like what was said before invading iraq.

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759364)

to make everyone sympathetic to that jew who was on board

You are nothing, you shit filled bigot. Little Joe Geek Nobody from WhoCares, Nebraska or SpoogeSuck, Idaho. You are so fucking ignorant you should kill yourself. You're a flyspeck on the world. Concentrate on your utter insignificance as you gloomily masturbate yourself to sleep tonight.

If you're so caring, where were you when Hussein was slaughtering over a million people? Oh, but those deaths are just a statistic, aren't they, Stalin? They don't support your warped and insane ideology.

nobody gives a fuck about the thousands of people who starve every year

Yeah, it isn't like the USA and other Western countries give foriegn aid and food- oops, wait a minute! They DO! I guess you've just drilled down to ever deeper levels of vacuum-headed pig ignorance! Congrats! You might just be the stupidest living thing on the Earth.

Most countries with starving populations are that way because of their own governments, including Iraq despit what the pigshit Leftist ideologues keep clamoring about it being the sanctions.

...maimed by USA bombs in Iraq. Yeah, good priorities.

As if YOUR priorities are anything more than randmon neural noise in a degenerate brain. If you want to do something for the world, kill yourself. Your brain is so locked into ideological mental illness, there is zero hope for you, loser. There are victims of brain damage in comas who have been declared vegetables who are more aware of reality then you. Kill yourself ASAP.

Re:Is a fucking conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759461)

If you're so caring, where were you when Hussein was slaughtering over a million people?

Where were you? It was the USA who setup and funded Saddam for many years. When he gassed the Kurds, the USA didn't even blink.

Most countries with starving populations are that way because of their own governments

Yep. USA Included.

How bout you grow a brain and get educated you ignorant american fucktard!

Damn Mods (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759500)

I was hoping for a Flaimbait on this one. Oh well, maybe next time!

Better pictures to aid next accident investigation (3, Insightful)

jj_johny (626460) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759248)

Recommendation two - get good pics of shuttle in orbit every time. Wow, that should help determine if we are going to tell the astronauts that they have stuff they can't fix.

Honestly, do you have any contingency to examine in space and fix the shuttle if it does have problems? No, well, see you back here in another 10 years.

obvious... (4, Interesting)

dioscaido (541037) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759282)

when the shuttle launched, a piece of debris broke off and hit the wing. Back then they said it didn't matter, then the shuttle exploded on re-entry. Now, months and months of 'careful study' they find that the wing had been damaged. No sh*t... what a useless exercise. And the recommendation: study the shuttle more carefully! Ummm. yeah, how much are they being paid for this?

Not obvious (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759482)

The problem with that argument is there's still no clear way that the impact could have done enough damage for the shuttle to burn up. Either it was a very, very unlucky hit in just the wrong place, or there's some other problem which, in combination with the impact, lead to plasma coming in through the wing. For all we know, the wing could have been damaged prior to launch (either due to errors in handling on the ground or pure old age) and the normal stresses of orbital maneuvering could have led to the same damage on this or a later flight.

Re:obvious... (5, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759509)

when the shuttle launched, a piece of debris broke off and hit the wing. Back then they said it didn't matter, then the shuttle exploded on re-entry. Now, months and months of 'careful study' they find that the wing had been damaged. No sh*t... what a useless exercise. And the recommendation: study the shuttle more carefully! Ummm. yeah, how much are they being paid for this?

A classic misinterpretation of an accident report - though this isn't even a full accident report yet, and I imagine there will be even more misinterpretation when it is finally released.

What the investigators have actually determined is really nothing. What they have determined probably happened is that there was pre-existing corrosion to the frame of the wing's leading edge, which weakened it to the point where the foam strike caused something to break. This pre-existing corrosion should have been caught and fixed by NASA, and if finally proven as fact, would be the root cause of the accident. The foam hit was not the cause of the accident, the corrosion was. Assuming they stick to this theory, of course.

I've said before that almost all accidents are a series of events, some preventable, some not, most benign by themselves. It's that particularly series of events and the way they unfold that causes the accident. Without the corrosion, the foam hit would have done nothing. It's happened so many times before without incident, and the shuttles were built to take punishment - these are vehicles designed for repeated launch and re-entry, for God's sake - the G-forces, shock and vibration they're built to withstand are almost ridiculous, and they've been hit by multiple objects at launch, in orbit and during re-entry before without incident. The facts seem to suggest that Columbia was no longer in like-new condition - that it was fatally weakened even before its last launch. If it wasn't for this foam hit, it would have been something else that would have brought it down eventually. The foam was just a catalyst.

What I find shocking is the apparent deriliction of maintenance on the part of NASA, and the budget cuts really need to be looked at as a contributing factor to the accident. There's no way these shuttles should be allowed to have this kind of corrosion, and Columbia was just refitted a couple of years ago - the wings were taken completely apart, they should have seen any damage like this. Even if they didn't, though, they should be doing MRI's or whatever they need to every 6 months or a year to check the interior structures of all critical structures.

Just one final comment - someone suggested doing 2 "pre-flight" checks, one before launch and one before re-entry. This doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The poster used commercial airliners as an example - well, this would be like doing a "pre-flight" check both before takeoff and before landing. First of all, the pre-flight on a commercial airliner is usually nothing more than a walk-around by the pilot and a systems check while taxiing (many airplanes spend 30 minutes or less at the gate before pushback). The space shuttle sits in a hangar for 6 months being looked over with a fine tooth comb before launch - it's much more thorough than anything a commercial airliner goes through. Second, there's no "pre-flight" before a plane lands - that would not be feasible or even necessary. There's no reason why a space shuttle would need such a check either if the vehicle itself is in good working condition - which should be established while it's on the ground, not in space. If you establish the fact that the foam hitting the wing was not catastrophic in and of itself but that it was corrosion to the interior structure of the wing's leading edge that weakened it and led to the break when the foam hit - that's something that should be caught before it even gets to the launch pad. It's not something you should worry about in flight.

Re:obvious... (3, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759866)

People who say that it is pointless to do an inspection while in space have limited imagination about what damage those inspections might find, and what might be done in response to that damage. While it is worthwhile to examine that 10,000 (say) most likely failure modes and come up with the best way to respond to each (including, perhaps, just administering last rites), doing an inspection to look for unanticipated damage is a really good idea.

The test-flight community is awash with stories of pilots who through skill and ingenuity (and luck) managed to recover airplanes with catastrophic damage. There's nothing like impending death to focus one's mind -- and in the case of the shuttle there might be millions of engineers around the world thinking of creative solutions if the problems are known.

In the Apollo 13 near-disaster, a failure of the magnitude that occured was not planned for, because it was assumed that something like that would lead to the prompt and certain death of the crew and loss of the ship. But, due to extremely insightful prompt action on the part of the crew, and the dedicated work of tens of thousands of engineers within NASA, the crew just barely survived.

The case mentioned above of describing the futility of noticing that the welds had failed on a 747's wing spars is incorrect, and demonstrated by a classic case. A test pilot was flying a n early Czech aerobatic monoplane, and the right wing started to fold up because the main wing spar had failed. Now, there was no checklist item for 'spar failure recovery', it is assumed that that is one of those things that cause planes to invariably crash.

What the pilot did was immediately roll the plane inverted. With the loads in the other direction, the spar held. Obviously you can't land the plane inverted, so he held it inverted until he was just over the runway, then rolled the plane upright, and landed just as the wing was folding up.

Inspect! Information is almost always better than no information. It's really important.

thad

Appropriate Larry Niven quote (5, Interesting)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759286)

"The USA has been flying a fleet of twenty-year-old X-planes, and we're running out. Half the people I know have been trying for all their lives to build a better rocket ship. I can't find the energy to be enraged."

-Larry Niven

Re:Appropriate Larry Niven quote (4, Insightful)

ChuckDivine (221595) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759514)

"The USA has been flying a fleet of twenty-year-old X-planes, and we're running out. Half the people I know have been trying for all their lives to build a better rocket ship. I can't find the energy to be enraged." -Larry Niven

This begins to address the real problem. The space shuttle was sold as "routine access to space." It isn't. It's a routinely operated experimental vehicle. That's not good. Back in the 1940s we didn't build Bell X-1s for the Air Force. We used what we learned from the X-1 to build production jet aircraft.

Official attempts to build better rockets (NASP, X-33) have failed to produce even flyable vehicles. Currently a considerable number of people have given up hope that the aerospace establishment will eventually come up with a vehicle that actually gives us routine access to space. I believe Larry's friend and coauthor Jerry Pournelle is one of them.

People have noted that real innovation in software comes from academia and small companies. Microsoft talks about innovation, but doesn't really deliver.

In the aerospace field, however, a healthy culture of small companies and independent academic research hasn't begun to exist until recently. And NASA's experiments turn into expensive failures. What's worse is the establishment tends to inadvertently suppress research by people other than itself.

What a great use of tax dollars. (4, Interesting)

Pop n' Fresh (411094) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759291)

I sure am glad we're spending 50 million dollars to find out why an old, damaged spacecraft exploded, killing several people who knew what they were doing, and only 9 million to find out how our government's inability to communicate with itself allowed 9/11 to happen. Our government sure does have its priorities in order.

Re:What a great use of tax dollars. (-1)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759383)

Hey, it's NASA's money already. Throwing the money away is better than spending it on that piece of shit space station.

The rocket plane is boring. I really don't care about growing mold in space and throwing satellites out with that robot arm. The US should go back to putting white military guys in tiny nuclear missile warheads and shooting them hundreds of thousands of miles away. Now that was some exciting stuff.

Re:What a great use of tax dollars. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759389)

9/11 happened NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO!!! It's time to lick your wounds AND GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE!!!

Band-aid (2, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759299)

They don't need to check the wings better, they need to be 'on their feet' when there is and anomoly during lunch, and respond intelligently.

Re:Band-aid (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759345)

is and anomoly during lunch like what? the soup was cold?

Re:Band-aid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759432)

offtopic? he said LUNCH you crackpot mods

There is one big "show stopping" problem... (5, Interesting)

sockit2me9000 (589601) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759315)

... and that is the space shuttle program itself. Too many variables, too inefficient and too easy to break. What is really needed is a fundamental rethinking of the space program. The shuttle is still useful as a "space truck", perhaps. But to use it to just jet people into space for scientific experiments is a huge waste of resources. They need something smaller, lighter, safer, and easier to maintain. NASA is one major accident away from getting its program sacked completely. The shuttle it a ticking time bomb.

Interesting thought: Build new shuttles! (-1, Troll)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759369)

Face it, they're rocketting around in technology that's 25+ years old. It's time to redesign from the ground up.

The U.S. just paid 75 billion on a war in Iraq, most of which was wasted money. I mean the fuel bill alone to send an aircraft carrier to the Gulf would set me for life.

Maybe they don't spend more money on Nasa is because in space there's nobody to kill.

Re:Interesting thought: Build new shuttles! (2, Funny)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759425)

Face it, they're rocketting around in technology that's 25+ years old. It's time to redesign from the ground up.

So glad you're on top of things, there, Tom Corbett! What would we do without your deep insight?

The U.S. just paid 75 billion on a war in Iraq, most of which was wasted money.

Well, no, 20 billion is the current price tag. Try reading beyond the headlines. You will learn many interesting things and begin to avoid superficial analyses.

I mean the fuel bill alone to send an aircraft carrier to the Gulf would set me for life.

Maybe, but that's assuming your life is worth setting. :-P

Maybe they don't spend more money on Nasa is because in space there's nobody to kill.

Too bad, because no one could hear them screm. Wow, what a great, um, amazing, er... yeah. Whatever.

Good Lord, I'm in a crappy mood for a Friday! Don't take any of this personally Angry White Guy.

Re:Interesting thought: Build new shuttles! (-1, Flamebait)

Lord Sauron (551055) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759638)

Don't forget the loss of public image the US got. I don't know if it can be translated to numbers, but in the long run, the US lost, in the war, more than what was conquered.

Now millions of people, worldwide, are loathing the US. Millions of potential Bin Ladens got angry. Millions of consumers are boycotting American products. Does it have a price ?

I think the US shot their own foot, and I don't think the economic costs will be limited just to the war price tag.

Re:Interesting thought: Build new shuttles! (0, Offtopic)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759806)

Tom Corbett? Man that's going back! (If you /.'ers just said WTF, click HERE [solarguard.com])
I'm not sure if my life is worth setting, but the point is, as a massive show of force, the U.S. sent everything they had available to 'liberate' Iraq, which, after they dropped more than the required amount of very expensive bombs in their shock and awe campaign, they had way too many troops running around that they had to feed, transport, and supervise.

ANd if I took anything personally on this blog, I wouldn't have used this nick, and I probably would have killed myself after the first flame war. And it is a crappy Friday here too, but it's better than work.

Safer space flight (3, Insightful)

Tomster (5075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759448)

Both Challenger nor Columbia were caused by human error. In Challenger's case, the politicians/managers made the decision to go despite warnings from the engineers. In Columbia's case, they had the opportunity to take pictures of the shuttle in orbit, per suggestions by the engineers, but decided not to do so. (What they could have done to save the crew is a separate topic.)

So when we talk about the dangers of space flight, or how unreliable the shuttle fleet is, let's not forget how much of an element human decision-making is.

-Thomas

Re:Safer space flight (3, Interesting)

badasscat (563442) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759605)

Both Challenger nor Columbia were caused by human error. In Challenger's case, the politicians/managers made the decision to go despite warnings from the engineers. In Columbia's case, they had the opportunity to take pictures of the shuttle in orbit, per suggestions by the engineers, but decided not to do so. (What they could have done to save the crew is a separate topic.)

No, it's not a separate topic, especially since you use the lack of cameras as a "cause" of the accident. People need to use their heads before making statements like this. What, exactly, would have taking pictures of the shuttle actually accomplished in this case? How was not taking pictures in any way contributory to the accident? The recommendation is for *future* space flights - pictures of Columbia while in space would have accomplished nothing but satisfying the morbid curiosity of people like you after the fact.

If there was damage to the leading edge of the wing from launch, Columbia was doomed, plain and simple. I don't see how having pictures confirming that ahead of time is going to make anybody feel any better about it. Great, so now the astronauts know they're going to die. How fun for them and for us. It would have been like Apollo 13 all over again, only this time without the happy ending.

It's been firmly established that there was no way to save these astronauts once they were up there. They did not have enough fuel to reach the ISS. There was not enough time to rush another shuttle up to rescue them before their food and water ran out - not even ignoring all safety rules and risking two accidents for the price of one.

Cameras may help troubleshoot and solve problems on future shuttle flights. Eventually, it will likely seem ridiculous that we don't now have exterior cameras covering all surfaces of our spacecraft, and the ability to film them from satellites as well. But on this particular flight, there is nothing anybody could have done to save these astronauts once they were up there, camera or no camera. The only helpful thing having pictures would have done would be in helping determine the cause of the accident afterwards - but we know there was a breach in the wing without them, so even that point is moot.

Re:Safer space flight (1)

Tomster (5075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759730)

If the Apollo team had had your attitude, the Apollo 13 capsule would have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere with three dead astronauts. Fortunately, they had a "can-do" attitude.

Re:Safer space flight (4, Interesting)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759850)

The Apollo team did have his attitude. Read up on the lightning strike during the launch of Apollo 12 and the descision to go ahead with the mission. There was a pretty good chance that the parachute pyros had been fried by the lightning, but there was no way to inspect them, and no way to fix them even if they were fried. There also was no spacecraft that could be sent up for a rescue mission before 12 would have run out of supplies. Mission Control decided to send them on to the Moon, since they'd be just as dead if they brought them back immediately.

Re:Safer space flight (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759793)

No, it's not a separate topic, especially since you use the lack of cameras as a "cause" of the accident. People need to use their heads before making statements like this. What, exactly, would have taking pictures of the shuttle actually accomplished in this case? How was not taking pictures in any way contributory to the accident?

This has been discussed many times, where were you? There are things that could have been attempted if it was known the wing had a big hole in it. For example, the attitude of the shuttle could have been adjusted to shift the heating pattern more to the good wing, the rentry trajectory could have been modified, a rescue by the Russians could have been attempted, the crew could have been prepared to bail out if they got down far enough, and so on. Closing one's eyes and hoping the danger goes away, ostrich-style, has never been the best strategy.

Re:Safer space flight (2, Interesting)

enkidu (13673) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759739)

Maybe a link (or several links) in each chain was human error, but to place the blame for each entire accident on those two decisions is bullshit. Regarding the Challenger accident, if they hadn't had to build the booster rockets in sections for political reasons, there never would have been any O-rings to start with. Oh, and if they had actually sat down and figured out the actual engineering costs of using liquid hydrogen, they would not have needed the damn boosters in the first place. The Challenger accident could have been prevented by altering any one of those links. Of course, that doesn't deny the fact that the Space Shuttle program has been a farce or over-hyped capabilites, rushed engineering, and poor management. Remember, each space shuttle was supposed to fly more than once a month.

Safer space flight IS possible (remember when flying was dangerous?). Yes, the challenges are greater, but none of them are beyond our knowledge of physics or engineering. Building robust, safe, efficient spacecraft has been possible 20+ years ago. Building robust, safe, efficient reuseable spacecraft wasn't 20 years ago, but we may be getting close now.

EnkiduEOT

Re:Safer space flight (1)

Tomster (5075) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759766)

The proximate cause for each accident was human decision-making. Yes, there are engineering weaknesses in the shuttle. There are also engineering weaknesses in my car. That doesn't mean the car and I share blame if I take a corner too fast.

It was really a good thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759693)

It was really a good thing that Columbia blew up... I mean peoplekeep focusing on the fact that the astronauts had families... blah blah blah...

But I look at it as: At least one good thing was there was an Isreali on board when it blew...

No Show stopping problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#5759696)

since there has been no show-stopping problems which have been discovered during the investigation. / What, other than the fact that NASA keeps ignoring trends that point to a possible loss of life/loss of vehicle? (Challenger- Ignored a trend showing that in cold weather the O-rings sealing the SRBs could fail) (Collumbia- Ignored a pair of worsening trends- The age-related deterioration of the TPS, and the worsening trend of debris shedding from the ET) I would call NASA decision making capabilities the show stopper.

The final recommendation will be (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 10 years ago | (#5759818)

No doubt the plan is going to be to pay Bechtel and MortonThiokol a few billion to redesign and upgrade the whole bloody shuttle.
(The Bechtel crack is a response to the free ride the Bush administration just gave Bechtel in Iraq)
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