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Golf-Ball Sized Hail Damages Shuttle

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-make-me-stop-this-thing dept.

NASA 118

MattSparkes writes "The Shuttles March launch has been delayed to late April after golf-ball sized hail caused 7000 pits and divots in the foam that shields the fuel tank. NASA say it's the worst damage of its kind that they have ever seen, but hail is not a new problem for the agency. In 1982, a hailstorm damaged the sensitive heat shield tiles on the Columbia's wings. The damaged tiles then absorbed about 540 kilograms of rain. Once in space, the orbiter faced the Sun to allow the tiles to dry out."

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I'm Like NASA! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18180652)

In 1982, a hailstorm damaged the sensitive heat shield tiles on the Columbia's wings. The damaged tiles then absorbed about 540 kilograms of rain.
Just like my chevy!

I wonder if they're having problems getting the smell of stale McDonald's & whiskey out of their vehicle too.

Re:I'm Like NASA! (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181430)

Yeah. This is going to kill the trade-in value.

Obviously (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180670)

NASA is not a golfer.

Re:Obviously (1)

CoolVibe (11466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180694)

Exactly 7000? Sounds like it was intentional.

(just kidding)

Re:Obviously (1)

MattSparkes (950531) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180712)

Although some of the astronauts have been known to play [newscientist.com] .

Re:Obviously (2, Funny)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180728)

Woo, isn't NASA supposed to be a millionaire?

Re:Obviously (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181506)

Woo, isn't NASA supposed to be a millionaire?

No air in space, so it would be more accurate to say NASA is a millionvacuum.

Re:Obviously (4, Funny)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181138)

That foam really tied the fuel tank together, did it not?

Re:Obviously (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181392)

You want foam? I can get you foam. Believe me, there are ways, dude..

Re:Obviously (2, Funny)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181728)

Also, foam is not the preferred nomenclature. Insulation, please.

Re:Obviously (2, Interesting)

racermd (314140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183206)

Maybe it's just me, and I don't claim to be a super-smrt - sorry, smart - rocket-scientist (because I'm not), but why don't they put the foam insulation on the inside of the fuel tank shell?

I'm sure there are reasons why they don't, but can those reasons out-weigh the problems it's causing with the foam on the outside?

Does anyone know if this has been considered? If so, why hasn't it been done, yet? Please be as specific as you can. I'm really interested in this.

Re:Obviously (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183892)

It's not just insulation to stop the hydrogen from boiling off; it's also an ablative TPS (Thermal Protection System) for liftoff. You'd melt the aluminium. Furthermore, I would wager that having liquid hydrogen seeping through the insulation would ruin its R-value, if the material is compatable with LH at all (I'd have to check). Plus it'd be harder (read: more expensive, slower) to apply internally. Plus it would take a redesign and recertification of the craft.

Re:Obviously (1)

josecanuc (91) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183954)

I don't know the answer to your question exactly, but I could make some educated guesses.

If the foam was on the inside, you could have problem with the fuel (O2, H2) breaking down the foam and "gumming up the works". You could have problems with chunks of foam falling off into the fuel.

A solution to that would be to put a liner over the foam, but that adds weight.

The current setup could be thought of as a liner on the inside, foam on the outside and any outer fairing removed for weight saving.

Re:Obviously (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184166)

Yes, liners do add weight. The ET was initially painted white. They dropped the paint because 600 pounds of paint translated into notably more payload for the shuttle.

Re:Obviously (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183962)

F***in A.

"What foam?"

STFU Donnie, you're out of your element.

Re:Obviously (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184850)

Liquid explosives... within city limits... that ain't legal either.

Re:Obviously (3, Funny)

saboola (655522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181178)

What they need is The Ding King! [dingking.tv] . (As Seen On TV!)

Re:Obviously (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183516)

Those tiles really tied the spacecraft together.

Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (4, Interesting)

bad_fx (493443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180686)

[quote]NASA has had less serious problems with fuel tank foam as well. In 1995, a shuttle on the launch pad had to be returned to its hangar for repairs after woodpeckers punched about a dozen small holes in the tank's insulation.[/quote]

That got a bit of a chuckle; It's in the article linked from TFA.

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181558)

Ok, so they should move the launch site to somewhere where they don't get stupidly large hailstorms, massive amounts of ice, super strong winds! (and is barren of trees, too).

I mean, is it me, or did they get sold some 'prime real estate' to build the launch centre?

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (2, Informative)

saboola (655522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181842)

Here ya go, right from the pedia:

Cape Canaveral [wikipedia.org]

Cape Canaveral was chosen for rocket launches to take advantage of the earth's rotation. The centrifugal force of this rotation is greatest at the equator, and to take advantage of it, rockets are launched eastward, in the same direction of the earth's rotation. It is also highly desirable to have the downrange area sparsely populated, in case of accidents; an ocean is ideal for this. Although the United States has sites closer to the equator with expanses of ocean to the east of them (e.g. Hawaii, Puerto Rico), the east coast of Florida has substantial logistical advantages over these island locations. The tip of the cape is at LC-46 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182446)

exactly - despite there being potentially better sites, they went and placed it on the east coast of Florida. Substantial logistical advantages? Its near the shops? I mean, they ship parts all over the place.

It beats me why they couldn't have negotiated a base elsewhere on the planet that doesn't have golf-ball sized hailstones and killer woodpeckers. :)

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (1)

saboola (655522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182738)

I guess the logistics of it might be better now, but think about when it was being built in the late 1940s. Shipping parts now is definitely easier than shipping parts 60 years ago. Just a thought.

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183462)

Puerto Rico and Hawaii have significant logistical disadvantages.

Re:Heh, apparently hail ain't their only problem (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184084)

It's unfair just to assume that because there are problems in one place, some other place would automatically look better. Look at SpaceX. The Falcon is a nice looking rocket. I like the design. The company has worked well, and things have worked great in the US. On the atoll, for the actual launches, however? Problem after problem. The biggest single factor that seems to have led to them? Their choice of launch site, Kwajalein Atoll. Cheap. Equatorial. Storms are rarer than many other sites. No major population centers. Sounds great, right? Well, unfortunately, it's been a logistical and environmental nightmare. Logistical, because given its remoteness, if you run out of something or need to ship a part in, you have to wait a long time. Environmental because it's such a high corrosion environment due to the salt spray; leave something metal that's shiny and new out for a few weeks, and it looks like it's been there for years. According to a contact of Jeffrey Bell, concerning Army missile operations there before SpaceX, "?standard operating procedure [at the Kwajalien Atoll] was that all parts had to be electrolytically compatible and even then, all bolts got?a Teflon grease?put on them and all moving interfaces, bearings, slides, got coated in lithium grease.?"

I'll be very upset if their choice of Kwajalein kills the Falcon.

Paradigm shift (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180698)

Maybe there really is something to all of those science fiction movies that show space ports opening like a clamshell a few minutes before the spacecraft lifts off, especially if the air inside was temperature and humidity controlled. That kind of thing might have prevented Challenger's destruction and would keep any craft free from weather-related damage before takeoff...

Re:Paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18180724)

I hear Epcot isn't doing anything useful these days ...

Re:Paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18180798)

When they're not being used for spacecraft, we can use them for giant robots!

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181174)

When they're not being used for spacecraft, we can use them for giant robots!
"...and I'll form The Head!" *queue giant sword and majestic Voltron music*

Re:Paradigm shift (5, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180940)

The only problem with that is keeping the clamshell (and the whole building) from being blasted to smithereens during takeoff. The noise level alone is enough to crumble concrete, add to that the temperature and pressure, and you see why rockets are usually launched in the open. True, missiles are often launched from canisters or silos, but:

1. Smaller missiles often use a cold-gas ejection system. The motor doesn't ignite until the missile is out of the canister. Some systems (e.g. Mk 41 VLS) ignite the missile in the canister. In this case, the canister consists of an inner tube that contains the missile, and a fixed outer tube. When reloading, the inner tube is replaced. This is doable for a missile, not so much for a Shuttle-sized rocket.

2. For larger missiles (ICBMs), a reusable launch site isn't the top priority. Damage to the silo is more acceptable here than for a NASA launch facility.

Re:Paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181152)

In this case, the canister consists of an inner tube that contains the missile, and a fixed outer tube. When reloading, the inner tube is replaced. This is doable for a missile, not so much for a Shuttle-sized rocket.

Just use a series of tubes for the shuttle! And a big truck to carry them...

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184208)

No, they'd get clogged because NASA would just shove in enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181352)

The Shuttle's launching off the Mobile Launcher Platform [wikipedia.org] . Unlike a clamshell it's directly below the exhaust and it is even mobile (as the name implies; btw. the parts of the clamshell would need to be "mobile" as well, to open and close that thing, but unlike the MLP the engines wouldn't need to be 5m below the SLBs.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181434)

The platform isn't an enclosed structure, so there's no pressure buildup. And they need 1.2 million litres of water to protect the platform (and the rest of the launch pad) during the launch. The water absorbs the heat and vibrations. A large fraction of the water is converted to steam in the 20 seconds or so from ignition to clearing the tower.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

josecanuc (91) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184064)

I thought the water was part of the sound suppression system:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/launch/s ound-suppression-system.html [nasa.gov]

They had a problem with noise from the rocket engines reverberating off the platform and causing pressure variations near the nose of the shuttle.

The pad site itself is being damaged by the frequent heat-swings, causing the heat-resistant concrete to crack and come loose:
http://engineer.tamu.edu/news/story.php?p_news_id= 1220 [tamu.edu]

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181468)

Nah... look at Thunderbirds. Q whacking great underground chamber that opens up just prior to launch. of course, you need to allow some time for all the NASA employees to exit the giant swimming pool before it slides out of the way ;-)

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181836)

When reloading, the inner tube is replaced. This is doable for a missile, not so much for a Shuttle-sized rocket.

Bah!, a foam or plastic sabot for the shuttle will solve that problem. Rifling the barrel will also help in the accuracy as well.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181912)

For a miserly 5,000,000 per launch, I will personally setup a gigantic tent around the Shuttle and then will dismantle it about 2 hours before the launch ;)

For larger missiles (ICBMs), (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182118)

a reusable launch site isn't the top priority. Especially as it is assumed the silo is going to get hit by an incoming MIRV, which will do more damage than any launch would do.

Re:Paradigm shift (4, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180998)

ISRO has fixed launch pads and the Vehicle assembly building moves on rails out of the way for launch. NASA has a fixed Vehicle assembly building and the rocket moves on very complex tracked vehicle a few miles to the launch site. So far ISRO has not launched anything the size NASA has. The largest payload by ISRO, a six ton Low earth orbit, 1 ton Geostationery payload (quoting from memory, pardon errors) is very small compared to what NASA has done. So the building capable of assembling something the size of space shuttle cant easily move out of the way. But the could try to create a simpler building mainly to protect the vehicle without all that expensive jigs and assembly equipment that moves out of the way on the day of launch. They would not really like to have a fueled vehicle inside a building.

Re:Paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18183456)

ThunderBirds seems to manage it quite well. It doesn't even disturb the swimming pool water or the palm trees!

Re:Paradigm shift (2, Interesting)

Mercano (826132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181614)

How about, say, something like this [wikipedia.org] ? Though I don't know how early in the countdown then need to roll back the building.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181734)

IIRC, that's what the shuttle facilities at Vandenberg were going to be. The stack would be raised in situ at the pad, and the "VAB" would roll away on both sides at some point during the countdown.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

centron (61482) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182408)

Maybe they could just build a big umbrella over the launch site.

Seriously though, a retractable canopy wouldn't be temperature and humidity controlled, but snow, freezing rain, hail, and the like wouldn't be nearly as big a problem. Obviously you have to weigh the costs and engineering challenges of building a retractable canopy versus making the shuttle and tanks fully weather-proof, but I suspect it would be a pretty quick calculation.

Hanger Queen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18182510)

Does anyone else view this entire situation as fundamentally flawed?

The shuttle is the most expensive vehicle ever created, yet it's so fragile that a hailstorm can render it unusable.

Just goes to prove how nothing spends faster than other people's money. Your tax dollars at work.

Re:Hanger Queen (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184332)

No, it just goes to show how easily people ignorant of the difficulties of getting to orbit can make fun of those who actually have to deal with them. Rockets must be built incredibly light. Unfortunately, for the time being, this means flimsy. Even an extra coating of paint could kill the amount of payload they could take up.

Also, in constant dollars, the Apollo Saturn V stack was probably more expensive; it depends on how you do your accounting. And it, too, was vulnerable to weather. NASA was simply braver (perhaps crazier) back then. They even launched once during a thunderstorm -- Apollo 12. I love the logic of that one. There's a thunderstorm, and we have a gigantic vehicle full of explosive fuel, made of highly conductive metal. Lets have it launch so that it gets up to the charge layer, with a trail of ionized exhaust gas leading straight to the ground. ;) When it was struck by lightning, it nearly caused the termination of the mission -- knocked the fuel cells offline and scrambled the data from the navigational computer. Thankfully, the computer damage could be worked around due to an electrical engineer in Mission Control who knew a workaround.

Re:Paradigm shift (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184070)

Maybe there really is something to all of those science fiction movies that show space ports opening like a clamshell a few minutes before the spacecraft lifts off, especially if the air inside was temperature and humidity controlled. That kind of thing might have prevented Challenger's destruction and would keep any craft free from weather-related damage before takeoff...

Those clamshells are nice - but for any useful size of rocket they are pretty much impossibly beyond our current engineering abilities.
 
While such a clamshell might have prevented Challenger's loss - it's pretty much even odds that sooner or later we would have lost a Shuttle to O-ring blowby. The rings were failing at much higher temperatures because the real cause of the blowby (joint rotation) is temperature independent.
 
Also, it's not just the Shuttle that can be grounded by insulation damage - every cryogenic fueld rocket has insulation.

I do the same (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180700)

.. faced the Sun to allow the tiles to dry..

I do the same thing with my pickup after it rains...except I didn't tile my truck.

Re:I do the same (3, Funny)

DeeVeeAnt (1002953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180842)

So, how do you expect it to survive re-entry then?

Re:I do the same (2, Funny)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180960)

Better to have it burn up in re-entry than have your wife get your truck in the divorce.

Rain (3, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180718)

So Columbia survived a half a ton of rain in its fragile shield, but was brought down by scarring foam. How odd space flight can be...

Re:Rain (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18180848)

What is more shocking is the fact that they deliberately took up half a ton of water up into space.

I wonder how much such a worthless payload costs in terms of fuel needs.

Would it not have been cheaper to dry the shuttle while on earth? and spare a couple of hundred liters of fuel?

Re:Rain (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181100)

The fuel costs are marginal. The costs of space flight are complexity and manpower. If the tank was big enough to carry enough fuel to reach the intended orbit, it would cost way more to delay the launch than it would to carry the water up.

Re:Rain (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181412)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Orbiter [wikipedia.org]

The whole thing apparently weighs more than 4 million pounds at launch, with the orbiter being about 150,000 pounds and the payload being more than 50,000 pounds(there are 35,000 pounds that look like they are fuel). 1,000 pounds doesn't really seem like that big a deal, and probably needs to be factored into their payload mass tracking anyway(it seems like it would vary with humidity, etc).

Re:Rain (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180854)

I suppose it's because so much of engineering boils down to finding the most applicable of proven solutions. "Proven" is always relative to a set of assumptions. You might not even know what the relevant assumptions are until they are violated. It is important for engineers to pay attention to intuition, but you can't actually trust it, especially in unusual situations.

Maybe they should have invested (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180790)

in a few wee Kevlar umbrellas. For the price of this shading material, which they discovered they needed more than TWO DECADES AGO, they wouldn't have multi-million dollar dent problem.

Exactly how hard... (2, Informative)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180792)

Exactly how hard is it to just cover the damn thing? I would think after spending so much money on something NASA would want to take care of it...

Re:Exactly how hard... (4, Funny)

SydBarrett (65592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180900)

Uh oh, NASA forgot to put the shuttle in the garage after they got back from the mall. Their dad is gonna be SO pissed.

Re:Exactly how hard... (1)

decsnake (6658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182460)

they shoulda gone by home depot and got one of those gigantic blue tarps and covered it when they heard the weather forecast.

hey, it worked for me when I had the roof off of my house

Re:Exactly how hard... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184082)

I'm going to get the blue tarp contract with NASA and get rich!

hang on... (5, Funny)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180816)

Golf balls [wikipedia.org] have bumps and divots over the surface to enable longer flight times. Surely these additional bumps will also aid the shuttle's aerodynamics?

Re:hang on... (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181038)

Golf balls have bumps and divots over the surface to enable longer flight times. Surely these additional bumps will also aid the shuttle's aerodynamics?

Only if you're going to be whacking it with a giant hammer that's also designed to give it backspin. But that's the kind of stuff NASA wants to avoid.

Re:hang on... (1)

bdonalds (989355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181200)

Maybe...how fast does the shuttle need to spin before the Magnus effect makes a difference?

Re:hang on... (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181290)

Golf balls have bumps and divots over the surface to enable longer flight times. Surely these additional bumps will also aid the shuttle's aerodynamics?

I hear they're planning on painting red racing stripes on it, too, to make it go faster.

Re:hang on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181742)

Leela: And what's you scientific basis for thinking that?
Cubert: I'm twelve.

Re:hang on... (1)

atomicflounder (821072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182350)

Red stripes nothing. I think they should enlarge the tailpipes on that thang by a factor of at least twelve, add a few spoilers and some rims.

That is what you get having it in Florida (3, Funny)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18180826)

All those damned retirees and there golf. Worse than kids, I tell ya!

Re:That is what you get having it in Florida (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184172)

At least there are quite a few "dent gypsies" in the area who will show up to fix it.

Obligatory Radiohead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18180846)

Hail to the Thief!

Why is there foam on the outside of the tank? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181032)

I know the article said "NASA covers its fuel tanks with foam both to protect the tank from aerodynamic heating during launch and to prevent hazardous ice from condensing from the atmosphere onto supercooled tank components." My question is why is the fuel that close to the surface of the tank? I would imagine that a fuel tank built more like a thermos [wikipedia.org] (or probably a collection of several, since that would be a BIG thermos) would be an alternate way to avoid or reduce the impact of both problems. If you do need foam to protect against heating at launch, put it on the inside, where if it breaks off it won't hit the actual orbiter.

Re:Why is there foam on the outside of the tank? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181332)

I'm no expert, but I'd imagine the reason they don't built it that way is weight. Heck, they even stopped painting it to save on weight.

liars, touts & shills, o my (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181092)

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i did not read other comments (-1, Offtopic)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181116)

but I do not care if I will be one of many:

Once in space, the orbiter faced the Sun to allow the tiles to dry out."


LOL

Re:i did not read other comments (1)

Yggdrasil42 (662251) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181372)

I'm not sure what you found weird about that.
Lack of air pressure means that water will evaporate faster.

Re:i did not read other comments (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182224)

You mean it will freeze before being blown off and evaporating in upper atmosphere?

Re:i did not read other comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181450)

I don't really understand that comment though. I'd think facing the sun would not be required. Water boils based on a combination of two things, temperature and pressure. At standard atmosphereic temperature, that would be 100C and freeze at 0C. What about in space? I assume it would be colder in space but there is 0 pressure. What temperature will water boil in 0 pressure? There is also the evaporation effect but how does that work with no air, the vapor pressure would be very low which would speed up evaporation right? With all that being said, would the direct sun light be just enough to tip the scale and cause more drying then without the sun? It seems to be many more things to consider for the sun to have such a major factor in drying something in space.
I understand the vapor cycle at normal earth temps and pressures, never thought about those concepts in the extremes of space.

540 kilograms of rain... (0, Offtopic)

swatthatfly (808033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181348)

The damaged tiles then absorbed about 540 kilograms of rain
Not to be anal but you cannot measure a liquid in kilograms, especially in a summary to a technical article. I know that most of the Slashdot crowd is not proficient in metric measurements (sigh...) but just in case you care, it should have been "540 liters".

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181408)

I feel like being anal.
You CAN measure in kg. Water ain't weightless ya know.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181424)

>Not to be anal but you cannot measure a liquid in kilograms
Sure you can. Stick a big bucket on some scales, fill it until the scales say 540Kgs. Not the best way of measuring it, to be sure, but you can do it.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

hunterkll (949515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181466)

Unless i'm mistaken... dosn't, uh, liquid have WEIGHT too? In respect of a shuttle launch --- they wouldn't care about volume... weight is most critical. Weight, mass, whatever.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18183706)

Technically, kilograms measure MASS, not weight. Mass never changes, while weight depends on gravity.

That said, the original poster is wrong. It's correct to measure the mass of a liquid in kg. Litres is a unit for volume, which varies with pressure.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18181554)

Really? Because I have several syringes that the pharmacist has given me that measure in milligrams, not milliliters, so the same principal should apply...

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18182068)

That's probably so that you don't accidentially overdose by a factor of 1000 when you confuse milliliters and microliters, since milligrams and microliters are more or less interchangeable for water.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

Lumbergh (1053438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181584)

Yes, you can. Evidently you don't know your own metric system, or just wanted to be "cool" by taking a potshot at the Slashdot crowd, but 1 kilogram of water takes up 1 liter of volume. The two are effectively interchangeable in this instance and given that we're dealing with rocketry here, qualifying quantity by weight rather than volume is more relevant.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (2, Informative)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181736)

It's unlikely that they knew the volume but this being a rocket the mass was measurable. While you can calculate the volume from the mass, due to the rain not being perfectly pure and the temperature not being 4C the volume will not be exactly 540 liters even if the mass is exactly 540 kg (at room temp it'd be ~537 by my calculations).

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

ABoerma (941672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18185048)

Also, as the temperature changes, the volume for a certain amount of rain will change, while its mass will remain 540kg.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181960)

Aircraft fuel is often measured in pounds or tons. You fail at being anal retentive.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

TheChromaticOrb (931032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182044)

Not to be anal but you cannot measure a liquid in kilograms, especially in a summary to a technical article. I know that most of the Slashdot crowd is not proficient in metric measurements (sigh...) but just in case you care, it should have been "540 liters"

Actually, using the mass makes more sense here, as said water volume will vary a lot with temperature and pressure during the shuttle's flight.

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18182260)

Shouldn't they have measured in Newtons then?

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182404)

Sorry, but spaceflight is one of those occassions where there is a rather distinctive difference between weight (N) and mass (kg).
Hint: in orbit, the stuff still was 540Kg, but 0N....

Re:540 kilograms of rain... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184962)

I think it is the process of GETTING it into orbit that we're discussing. The weight of payload is kinda irrelevant if you're already up there.

It's global warming! (1)

Rotten168 (104565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18181810)

Nobody else said so I figured I would. ;)

Big Ass Shed (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182018)

Seems like it would not be too hard to contruct a big ass building around the launch pad to protect the shuttle from the weather. Put it on rails so that it could be pulled back the req. safe distance for launch.

Face the sun to dry out? (1)

Armchair Dissident (557503) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182108)

I'm confused. Why would the space shuttle's heat shields need to face the sun in order to dry out water? There's no pressure in orbit. Surely water under no pressure is vapour?

Re:Face the sun to dry out? (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182464)

Evaporation enthalpy.

At 80 Kelvin, ice will be fine even in ultrahigh vacuum. So energy has to come from somewhere to allow the ice to evaporate. Those headshields are very good insulators, which leaves the sun as energy source.

Re:Face the sun to dry out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18184206)

I belive that heatshield-twoards-sun is the normal attitude, to avoid cooking the contents of the cargo bay. The time to dry out the heatshield is before the launch. Carrying half a ton of water into space is not too clever.

Someone call Al Gore! (1)

LawDog (955799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18182784)

I'm sure the hail was the result of Global Warming. See, Karl Rove hates NASA and so he's engineered the continuation of Global Warming to make the Cape totally useless for space launches. Once Rove has eliminated NASA, he and Cheney will construct their command bunker there and take over the world, ala Pinky and The Brain.

sounds like... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183770)

one HAILUVA problem...

Um, hail? (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18183812)

So am I the only one who's more concerned that Florida is getting golf-ball sized hail??

Too Bad... (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18184476)

Columbia wasn't still around to be on the launch pad for the inevitable "Hail, Columbia!" headlines that would have resulted.
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