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494 comments

NASA + ONDCP = CLIT FP (0, Funny)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102896)

When the investigators ask you why the space shuttle you designed exploded seconds after liftoff, killing seven astronauts and quite probably the entire shuttle program, just tell them you were stoned.

They'll understand.

Accountability in management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103178)

When I first saw this on the front page, I thought to myself "well, there's a trollbait article if I ever saw one, NASA is a bunch of idiot PHBs". So, I wander on in, working on a couple of possible themes in my head, and well, GODDAMN, Sexual Asspussy authoritavely nailed it, and got the first post to boot! There's no way I can hope to top that.

Kudos to you sir!

Re:Accountability in management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103334)

Ahh, but it broke up on re-entry, not on liftoff.

The grandparent joke is quite offtopic, and thusly FAILS IT!

Skip to the last seconds.. (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102900)

OWWWW! hot hot hot hot hot hot hot hot!

Re:Skip to the last seconds.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103111)

Hahahaha. Quite funny, but a troll none-the-less. Thanks for having the courage to post that under your username, though.

It lasted about as long... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102902)

...as this first post will...

Hot Gas != Plasma (5, Informative)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102906)

From the article: ...and that a plume of super-heated plasma entering through that breach had destroyed the wing and triggered the destruction of the orbiter.

While original reports used the term "plasma", there's a good explanation at space.com's Columbia FAQ [space.com] that explains that the hot gas that entered the shuttle's wing was *not* "plasma", as defined by science:
PLASMA: What is it?


[IMPORTANT NOTE: Officials now say that the hot gas that surrounded Columbia and appeared to breach the craft had probably not yet reached the plasma state.]

Plasma is sometimes called a fourth state of matter (in addition to solid, liquid, gas). It's created when gas is superheated and electrons are stripped out, leaving electrically charged particles.
Not to be a science nazi, but there's an important distinction between sci-fi-sounding "plasma" and the mundane -- but still deadly -- "very hot gas".

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (1, Interesting)

norculf (146473) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102958)

How is plasma a 4th state of matter? It is really just a gas isn't it?

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (1, Informative)

Deraj DeZine (726641) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103007)

It's created when gas is superheated and
electrons are stripped out, leaving electrically charged particles.

I'm not sure if you were looking for a more in depth explanation. I don't know much about plasma, but that answered it for me.

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103282)

I thought plasma was blood with all the cells removed!

PLASMA: what is it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103058)

is it good of is it whack?

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (2, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103069)

Actually, there is a good possibility that plasma is not a new state of matter per se, but rather a transference state between gas and Bose-Einstienian condensate... much as water at boiling point. Although as we push to further thermal extremes, it's possible that we'll discover more energy states or methods of creating different forms of matter without relying solely on temperature.

Practically speaking, I don't think it makes a great deal of difference to the story. But it's the tangents that make science fun.

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (4, Informative)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103173)

[Plasma may be] but rather a transference state between gas and Bose-Einstienian condensate

We're trending off-topic, but I'm curious. As I understand (imperfectly), a gas becomes a plasma by becoming completely ionized at high temperature. But a Bose-Einstein condensate [wikipedia.org] requires a temperature very close to absolute zero, so that the particles' velocity approaches zero and the atoms superimpose (Wiki make um smarter! Ugh!). How would plasma fit into that phase transition?

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103208)

Not to be a science nazi, but there's an important distinction between sci-fi-sounding "plasma" and the mundane -- but still deadly -- "very hot gas".

Yeah, it's the difference between White Castle and Taco Bell.

Re:Hot Gas != Plasma (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103299)

When you've got an object traveling very vast what happens? What happens when you move your feet across the carpet? Static electricity. What is static? Electrons stripped from one object to another. What happens when something gets hot? Atoms and larger particles excape it's surface--bingo. Everything above put together, you've got plasma.

Static can be a huge problem in pipes that move large amounts of non-polar fluids. Guess what most gasses in the upper atmosphere are? Non-polar fluids. So, there is your ionized high velocity, high temperature gas. Plasma.

I don't know alot about the shuttle's design, but I'd guess that if you talked with some NASA aerospace engineers they'd confirm this phenomenon. It's got to be a factor with all very fast aircraft.

Old joke! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102925)

OH SHI-

My favorite. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103139)

After 9-11...
Look, in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! OH SHIT, IT IS A PLANE!!!

Reminds me of an old joke (-1, Flamebait)

EmCeeHawking (720424) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102942)

The space shuttle columbia walks into a bar, sits down, and orders a drink.

The bartender sees columbia looking sullen, and asks "Hey, had a rough day?"

The columbia looks up at the bartnder and sullenly says, "Yeah, I just broke up with my crew."

HOW THE FUCK DOES A SPACE SHUTTLE FIT IN A BAR? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103037)

HUH?

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103052)

i wish i had mod points to mod you down into oblivion you sorry sack of shit.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103095)

Too soon...? Yeah, too soon to joke about it.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103130)

Too soon...? Yeah, too soon to joke about it

Not to soon for Challenger though:

Q: Why do NASA engineers drink coke?

A: Because they couldn't get 7 up.

WHAT COLOR ARE THE COLUMBIA ASTRONAUTS EYES? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103113)

Blue! One blew this way and the other blew that way!

BWAHAHHA.

Columbia's Final Minutes? In Detail? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102961)

Can they DO that?

Re:Columbia's Final Minutes? In Detail? (0, Redundant)

dustmote (572761) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103039)

Depends on the level of detail, I suppose. They didn't specify that.

Re:Columbia's Final Minutes? In Detail? (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103089)

1024x768 32bpp with 4xFSAA

Anything else and you won't get 60fps!

May their souls rest in peace. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102963)

This is quite a tragedy. I really hope that a good memorial is built.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102995)

There's at least one online memorial. [nero-online.org]

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (2, Interesting)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103147)

Well given this was slashdot and you posted a link I thinks its fair to say that there *was* a memorial.. In any case thanks for sharing the link with us..

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103248)

Oh, great. Now the Columbia orbiter online memorial has crashed and burned, you insensitive clods!

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (5, Informative)

sahonen (680948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103008)

There's a memorial at Cape Canaveral with the names of ALL of the people who have died in our pursuit of outer space.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (2, Insightful)

LittleGuy (267282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103254)

There's a memorial [amfcse.org] at Cape Canaveral with the names of ALL of the people who have died in our pursuit of outer space.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (0, Flamebait)

danidude (672839) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103054)

This is quite a tragedy.

A real tragedy is millions of children dying from hunger in the world. The astronauts were well paid and knew what they were doing, understanding the risks. It is sad, really, but it is not a tragedy, sorry.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (2, Insightful)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103260)

Sorry, I have to disagree. Those atronauts were furthering mankind and died in the pursuit. Most of the starvation could be solved if (not to make fun) we sent them luggage instead of food. They live in a desert with no food or water.. That's not a tragedy, that's natural selection.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103267)

And the parents of those starving kids didn't have a clue when they were having sex?

It's not tragic, it's just retarded. Use Norplant and be done with the problem.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (3, Insightful)

IshanCaspian (625325) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103294)

Tragedy isn't just measured in terms of the number of people killed. Though most of us spend our entire lives seeking our own comfort and profit, there are some who are willing to risk their lives to advance the entire enterprise known as science, enriching all of our lives. More perished in that accident than flesh and bone...they were carrying with us our very hopes and dreams. You may look at it as a loss for the shuttle's crew and their families, but I see it as a loss for everyone who's ever looked at the stars and imagined touching the sky's blue roof. The death of a starving boy is pitiable beyond description, but the death of our dreams is truly tragic.

Re:May their souls rest in peace. (2, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103344)

> A real tragedy is millions of children dying from hunger in the world. The astronauts were well paid and knew what they were doing, understanding the risks. It is sad, really, but it is not a tragedy, sorry.

A million starving children is a Bad Thing, but it is not tragedy [theliterarylink.com]

[...] Tragedy must tell of a person who is "highly renowned and prosperous" and who falls as a result of some "error, or frailty," because of external or internal forces, or both.

External forces include fate, fortune, the gods, and circumstances. The internal forces include "error or frailty." The Greek term he uses in The Poetics is harmartia, translated as "tragic flaw." The final elements are the reversal of action and the growth of understanding, or self-knowledge. Aristotle calls the reversal of action or intention the peripete: the instant when there is a "change by which the action veers around to its opposite." The moment of comprehension is the recognition (anagnorisis). This recognition means that the protagonist canes to understand his place in the scheme of things.

- a paraphrase of Aristotle

Seven (14) astronauts and a $3B spacecraft (oops, two of 'em), dying because of fucking powerpoint slides written in bureaucratese, however, is about as tragic as it gets.

That applies double when it's the second time this has happened.

And finally, if - after riding a million pounds of explosives into orbit, phoning home about a foam strike once you get there, being told "Naw, our experts told us it weren't nuthin' to worry yer pretty little heads about", and then seeing the diagnostic panel light up like a Christmas tree as your wing collapses and your ship yaws hard, and your last thoughts probably including "Oh shit, I wonder if we've lost a wing?" doesn't qualify as a "moment of discovery in which the hero realizes what has happened to him", I don't know what does.

NASA TO COLUMBIA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102977)

YOU FUCKING FAIL IT. BIG TIME. ALL YOUR FOAM ARE BELONG TO US.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Once yuo pop... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8102990)

teh fun doesn't stop!!!

The complexity... (5, Insightful)

alexatrit (689331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8102991)

...of the shuttle is just fascinating. Call me naive, but it truly is amazing that aeronautical/space engineering has progressed as far as it has. Not to revel in Columbia's destruction, but I'm suprised that we haven't had more accidents since Challenger.

Re:The complexity... (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103011)

We have, we boned up Hubble, we smashed a bunch of multi-million dollar RC cars up on Mars.. The big difference was that Columbia had people on board.

Spaceships are hard, but Cramak gona fix it!!!1!!

Re:The complexity... (1)

alexatrit (689331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103142)

NASA has always been a large money pit, but cost is relative. How do you put a price on the lives of a dozen crew members? You can't.

Re:The complexity... (3, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103221)


Not to sound cold here, but astronauts know the risks involved yet people line up to get into the programs. Space flight is a damn risky proposition but if I could get in, I'd be there in a second.

Discovery costs lives. Countless explorers drowned over many centuries in the quest for knowledge yet people kept getting on ships wondering what's over the horizon.

It's funny, (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103002)

The black box recording of the last moments of 99.9% of airline flights before a crash have a common thread. The pilot or co-pilot always says, "Ohhhhhh shhhhhhhiiii." They can't get to the final "t" since they're blown to smithereens by then though.

Poor bastards.

Get over it! (-1)

Captain Goatse (715400) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103003)

Noone cares about these so called 'heroes'. America's lousy space administration is responsible for their lives, do something, rest of the world!

Let us all rise up and destroy America, let's reform society and finally evolve into communism, Russia is on it's way. They might very well succeed after their current capitalism rush.

how many austronauts can you fit in a beetle? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103018)

4 in the seats and 7 in the ashtray.

What is the purpose of this? (-1, Insightful)

MagnaMark (468484) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103029)

Does this lurid description help NASA make future space flight safer? Does it do anything to advance science or the public good?

All this does is provide an opportunity to rubberneck.

Re:What is the purpose of this? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103098)

perhaps to give an in-depth look at what happened and to answer the questions that the public had about WHY it happened.

Rubbernecking is inevitable and pretty much unavoidable. Be thankful it wasn't as big of a train-wreck as they could have (and normally would have) written it up as.

Re:What is the purpose of this? (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103132)

I don't think "lurid" is the best description; I found it to be informative and well written. But even so - what's wrong with rubbernecking?

It's called Capitalism (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103211)

Everything not done to advance the "common good" (wtf is that, anyway? A subjective term, if you ask me) isn't always EVIL.

Some people just like knowing more about what happened, and this book happens to meet that demand.

Opportunity to reflect (2, Insightful)

yndrd (529288) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103362)

This is an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices of these astronauts, people who knew horrors like this were possible and faced them anyway.

We can do the same.

Atlantic Monthly (5, Informative)

Sean80 (567340) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103031)

Above and beyond this article, if you can get your hands on the article on the Colombia tragedy which was published in Atlantic Monthly, do it. As always for Atlantic Monthly, easily the most intelligent commentary I've seen about the event, and a couple of closing sentences that will stay with me forever.

Re:Atlantic Monthly (5, Informative)

jhsiao (525216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103096)

The Atlantic Monthly article was in the November 2003 issue. It's available online here [theatlantic.com] .

Re:Atlantic Monthly (2, Informative)

alexatrit (689331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103219)

If you use the "printer friendly" link on this page, the text is 42 pages worth. If you print the web page itself, it's about 8. Just a head's up, if you're low on toner/paper.

GNAA (-1, Troll)

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No Disrespect intended. (4, Insightful)

odyrithm (461343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103060)

But this is a classic lack of communication problem, people voiced there concerns but they where shooshed away because of the "nah that won't happen" syndrom.. lets hope we all learn from this lesson.

Re:No Disrespect intended. (1)

odyrithm (461343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103151)

I have to ask why this was moderated overrated? is there some fear factor involved in admitting that sometimes we as humans just don't listen??

I always live by the fact that when there is a situation there is always a problem, listen and learn from *anyone* that voices concern, it can and will save lifes.

Nasa won't learn (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103167)

They didn't after Challenger exploded in 1986.

Re:Nasa won't learn (1)

odyrithm (461343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103197)

They did learn from it, they just did NOT learn to listen.. that is really all I can see where the problem comes down to, please if I am wrong someone tell me.. I really do not think I am.

Common sense if you will at the end of the day could have stopped this from happening.

I didn't think it was so bad until I read this... (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103066)

One of the crew members came to rest beside a country road near Hemphill. The remains were found by a 59-year-old chemical engineer and Vietnam veteran named Roger Coday, who called the sheriff and then watched from the porch of his mobile home as a funeral director drove by to collect them.

IIRC (if I read correctly) they were about 19 miles up when the fuselage broke apart... So this astronaut had about that far to fall before coming to rest on the ground.

I saw it over and over again on TV and thought, well, at least it was instant and there's nothing left... I was wrong and I now have deep sorrow for these individuals.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (1, Insightful)

Gyan (6853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103105)

But they probably *died* quickly.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103123)

Dying quickly is fine. Think about your remains falling 15+ miles to the ground and how horrific that must be for the family of that individual...

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103216)

You'd bury yourself, saving the family big bucks. Burial costs are outrageous these days.

I bet the Jews family, at least, appreciated that.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (2, Informative)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103259)

well, they were already moving at a faster than terminal velocity so when the atmosphere thickened, they body slowed, depending on the substrate of the ground, the damage to the body (after the burning it took) would be minimal.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (5, Insightful)

SteveAstro (209000) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103119)

It did say that once the astronauts hit the hypersonic air flow, they would have died instantly.

It doesn't make things any better to know that though. :-(

Steve

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (5, Insightful)

LittleGuy (267282) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103135)

IIRC (if I read correctly) they were about 19 miles up when the fuselage broke apart... So this astronaut had about that far to fall before coming to rest on the ground.

Karma me down, but I'm just amazed how quickly information about Columbia's last moments is filtering to the media (and the lack of relative umbrage from family and pundits).

In contrast, it took years for NASA to admit that, yes, the astronauts aboard Challenger were most likely aware during their final descent, but that information was quickly coupled with admonishment not to dwell on it, out of respect for the families of the astronauts.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103206)

1986 was a lot different than 2003/2004. We're talking 18 years of information trading.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (2, Informative)

ShortSpecialBus (236232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103150)

According to the article, they would have died instantaneously at that point 19 miles up due to blunt trauma, lack of oxygen, etc. So, while it is still sad and horrible, it isn't like he fell 19 miles still alive.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (2, Insightful)

cyphergirl (186872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103317)

Right, but I believe the article said it was 38 seconds before the cabin seperated, and another 24 before it broke apart, resulting in instant death. Those poor men and women knew what was happening for the last 62 seconds.

A very sobering thought.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (0, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103170)

Because it's cool to be incinerated instantly, but being burned to death and then having your body plummet 19 miles before hitting the ground is terribly sad.

It takes hours to incinerate a corpse in a crematorium, what made you think it'd happen instantly inside Columbia? It rained little bits and pieces of crew and spaceship all over the countryside. They just found the israeli guys diary on the roof of an outhouse in Kentucky a few days ago.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (1)

jterry94 (654856) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103233)

Where did you see this information about the diary?

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103269)

bullshit, it was a texas field you wanker and it was found months ago.. Stop distorting the facts.

Re:I didn't think it was so bad until I read this. (4, Insightful)

odyrithm (461343) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103296)

At the end of the day they knew the risks, and they took them, hell I'm not an American, but I respect them, and know they served humanity with all they had to give, shame we all are not like that, could be a nice place otherwise, this world that is.

Saw it on DVD (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103081)

This sounds familiar...didn't they have a version of this on The Animatrix?

Definitely RTFA... (4, Informative)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103092)

...it's an incredible piece, and very well written. One never understands such things until it is succinctly written out, and these authors did an amazing job.

Re:Definitely RTFA... (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103295)

Agreed. I liked the detached, clinical way it was written in without any hysterics or overdue emotion. No doubt some people will find that particular style offensive, but as a (dare I say, fellow) scientist I found the style comforting.

Last heard (-1, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103107)

"Hey, I don't remember this button. I wonder what it does? [click]...."

Re:Last heard (2, Insightful)

t3553r4ct (199848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103322)

"Hey, I don't remember this button. I wonder what it does? [click]...."

That's a really kind, articulate thing to say. If you actually read the article, you'd realize the intensity and horror of the event. I'm glad that your life has been so blessed that you haven't experienced anything so terrible in it, but please be sensitive to the fact that people lost their lives. Maybe next time you should think about being more courteous about tragedies such as this?

Survivability? (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103115)

From the article: The survivability study concluded relatively modest design changes might enable future crews to survive long enough to bail out.

I'm not sure how the crew can survive by "bailing out" of a doomed orbiter during re-entry (take-off is another matter entirely). Once the orbiter drops below a certain speed, a return to orbit is impossible anda very hot descent is inevitable. This "bail out" logic sounds like surviving an elevator crash by stepping out at the first floor to me.

Unless the crew module can gracefully decelerate to less than hypersonic speeds, exiting the compartment is instant death.

Re:Survivability? (3, Insightful)

evilad (87480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103155)

That's probably the whole point: that the crew compartment could be designed to decelerate to a sane velocity just like a splashdown capsule. At that point a bailout would be possible.

Re:Survivability? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103349)

It is not entirely unfeasible. Engineered breakaway points for the crew capsule and hypersonic drag chutes for orientation in order to keep any insulating barriers between the crew and the encroaching atmosphere.

Humans have free fallen from as high as 19 miles with nothing more than a pressure suite and a hypersonic drag/parachute system.

Interesting (5, Interesting)

jchawk (127686) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103148)

This article is kind of an intense read... I think it's important to remember these fallen heros, who gave their lives for the purpose of furthering our understanding of science.

Hats off to those brave souls.

bad management kills (4, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103210)

"The most complicated machine ever built got knocked out of the sky by a pound and a half of foam. I don't know how any of us could have seen that coming. The message that sends me is, we are walking the razor's edge. This is a dangerous business and it does not take much to knock you off." -- Flight director Paul Hill

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. The folks at NASA could have seen this coming by listening to the engineers who wanted to get a closer look at the spots hit by the foam. The folks at NASA should have been watching for this type of situation if any attention had been paid to the follow up of the Challenger explosion.

It is simply not true that this tragedy was unavoidable and that there was no way to see this coming. The most complicated machine ever built was not knocked out of the sky by a pound and a half of foam. This was murder by management.

Re:bad management kills (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103309)

"The most complicated machine ever built was not knocked out of the sky by a pound and a half of foam. This was murder by management."

So every fatal car accident caused by untimely mechanical failure is "murder by manufacturer"?

Every precaution SHOULD be taken to prevent tragedies like this, but calling it "murder by management" is far too harsh a term that unjustly impunes the motives of NASA administrators.

Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that shit happens.

Re:bad management kills (4, Insightful)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103311)

I'm not so sure. If you create an atmosphere of 'everything must be 100% safe', no engineer would ever approve anything, no astronaut would ever don a spacesuit.

It was human error, and a regrettable one... probably rooted in the difficulty of comprehending physics so far beyond our everyday experience.

and the final seconds? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103217)

"oh shit......."

Only 38% found... (4, Insightful)

feidaykin (158035) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103227)

From the article:

More than 25,000 searchers, who scoured a debris "footprint" that was 645 miles long, found 84,900 individual pieces, about 38 percent of the space shuttle.

Does this not make one wonder how much of the shuttle might still be "out there" waiting to be found, or perhaps sitting on display in someone's house? Granted, much of it would have been literally vaporized, however I think that would amount to far less than the remaining 62% of Columbia.

I heard on CNN that pages of Ilan Ramon's journal were found recently in Texas. A quick google news turned up this article on the Post. [nypost.com]

It has also been stated that remains from all seven astronauts were recovered, and that some of the organisms on the shuttle actually survived.

This all points to the possibility that there is still more shuttle out there, and that perhaps we could be finding Columbia piece by precious piece for years to come...

one thing i don't understand (4, Interesting)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103265)

How can a hole being ripped in the wing, or any other part of the shuttle not be picked up by some sensor?

though, what could be done 81 seconds after beginning re-entry? anything besides acknowledge that you're going to die? if you level your course, instead of going down into the atmosphere will you just gradually burn up? I'm thinking, skim the outter atmosphere, since the air is thin it isn't having a drastic effect on the structure (compared with a few minutes later the change in atmosphere rips into the shuttle a lot more). skip out of the atmosphere and resume some sort of drift through space. try to control the drift so you're not hurtling into nothingness, although if your travelling at 1,568 mph maybe that is a little far fetched. then, assess the damage, and deal with it somehow (emergency rescue mission, repairs if at all possible?).

i am not a rocket scientist. but at what point of re-entry is it too late to do any sort of constructive abort?

Timely: Tomorrow is Challenger's 17th anniversary (5, Insightful)

talexb (223672) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103288)

The shuttle astronauts are true heroes -- think of the bravery it takes to fly one of those things. And let's not forget the Challenger mission which failed on January 28, 1986, seventeen years ago tomorrow.

I'll be outside at about 1130am tomorrow, looking up at the skies as I do every year, thanking that shuttle crew for their sacrifice.

Expensive mistake = critical lessons (5, Insightful)

danwiz (538108) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103305)

From the article ...
Like Challenger's crew, the Columbia astronauts met their fates alone and the details will never be known.

The initial government line is always that that people die instantly. After the Challenger crew compartment was recovered, it surfaced that some of crew's PEAPs (Personal Egress Air Packs) had been activated. This lead to the debate on whether anyone was conscious prior to impact with the ocean, and if there was any improvements that could be made to escape such a fate.

It may seem morbid as first but spacecraft, unlike automobiles, aren't as easy to crash-test. This promotes learning as much as you can from the mistakes.

Unfortunately, its unlikely more meaningful debris will be recovered from the Columbia.

Really never thought it would happen again (5, Interesting)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8103318)

I remember when the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed, and I really never imagined that another space shuttle would be destroyed in my lifetime.

I've heard complaints about feeding starving people instead of exploring space, and that does sound compelling in light of the fact that there is so much human suffering, but I believe (as do many) that space exploration represents a greater destiny for mankind.

Maybe that destiny could be put off a few decades while we solve all the world's problems, but I don't want that long.

It's like that t-shirt my one trekkie buddy used to wear, "The meek shall inherit the Earth... the rest of us shall go to the stars."

It's lurid, but I love these forensic accounts (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8103359)

I'm getting the same feeling in the pit of gut when I was reading final accounts of the World Trade Center collapse. If this was some unmanned satellite the same detailed account would have no impact. In the end, our fascination with the shuttle was not about the technology, but the fact that humans were involved.

We all die alone and nothing can change this fact. How our own lives will end is the ultimate question. Why wouldn't we all be interested in the minutia of how other lives ended. I put myself into their seats and feel the fear and guess at the oblivion that followed. It is natural and I refuse to apologize for these supposedly sick feelings.

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