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Gouge Found on Shuttle Endeavour's Underside

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-hear-duct-tape-works-well dept.

NASA 151

SonicSpike writes " NASA has discovered a chunk missing from the underside of the space shuttle Endeavour. It was discovered after the shuttle docked with the ISS earlier today. Technicians theorize it may have been caused by ice ripping free of a fuel take during takeoff. From the article:'The gouge — about 3 inches square — was spotted in zoom-in photography taken by the space station crew shortly before Endeavour delivered teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and her six crewmates to the orbiting outpost ... On Sunday, the astronauts will inspect the area, using Endeavour's 100-foot robot arm and extension beam. Lasers on the end of the beam will gauge the exact size and depth of the gouge, Shannon said, and then engineering analyses will determine whether the damage is severe enough to warrant repairs. Radar images show a white spray or streak coming off Endeavour 58 seconds after liftoff. Engineers theorize that if the debris was ice, it pierced the tile and then broke up, scraping the area downwind. Pictures from Friday's photo inspection show downwind scrapes."

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How that little porn star get there? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192129)

Oh wait, that's Gauge... nevermind.

Re:How that little porn star get there? (1)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192163)

I will never socialize with a Slashdot user. Sorry guys :(

Blame yourselves.

Re:How that little porn star get there? (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192273)

by alfs boner (963844) Alter Relationship on Friday August 10, @11:14PM (#20192163)
(http://slashdot.org/...id=44091&cid=4592270)
I will never socialize with a Slashdot user. Sorry guys :(

Blame yourselves.
Coming from an 80's sitcom's muppet's genitals, that hurts.

It's curtains for them (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192131)

This is why NASA always has (post-Columbia) astronauts videotape final messages to their families in the event that something like this happens. We should always remember their sacrifice to the country and the hard work that they put in to prepare for this flight. All too often these days, we take astronauts for granted, and it's a shame that we need fallen heroes like these, taken from us far too soon, to remember the very real dangers of this risky, yet worthwhile endeavour.

Re:It's curtains for them (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192209)

It's curtains for them

Yeah, that's it. That's why NASA has sent up tile repair kits with the crew, and made sure they dock at a space station capable of supporting the astronauts for an extended stay. I'm sure the crew of the Endeavour is quite doomed.</sarcasm>

Failure is not an option! [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's curtains for them (2, Insightful)

Kashkalgar (1135029) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192691)

Not necessarily. The terminology 'gouge' could be the result of the overcompensation for the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Reading the NASA articles carefully, it seems that there 'could' be damage to a heat shielding plate based on computer imaging. If inspection shows damage, then I am sure the ISS crew will be more than happy to host the Astronauts until the repairs are completed, and re-entry has been shown to be safe in the most conservative of minds. My prediction; the Endeavor will arrive home quite safely.

Re:It's curtains for them (2)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192825)

I agree with you 100%. That was the point of the sarcasm tag. ;-)

Re:It's curtains for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192219)

This is not good. 58 seconds is roughly Max Q [aerospaceweb.org] (or maximum dynamic pressure). Falling debris will impact the Shuttle with the greatest momentum at this point.

Re:It's curtains for them (1)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192301)

Untrue. Max Q is the maximum dynamic pressure relates the static pressure (p) and velocity (V) of a fluid at point 1 to the pressure and velocity of a fluid at point 2 (per your own link!). As they go faster than Max Q, if something falls off and hits the shuttle, it will have more intertial energy to impact the shuttle with.

Re:It's curtains for them (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192647)

Actually it depends a lot on the shape and mass of the piece of debris. When the piece of debris separates from the fuel tank it has the same velocity as the shuttle. Then it interacts with the atmosphere. For a piece of foam, it will slow down extremely rapidly in the lower atmosphere so that there is a large difference in velocity when the Shuttle rams it. In the upper atmosphere which is much more diffuse the difference in velocity will be much slower. For a piece of ice which will have a high mass and possibly a streamlined shape, it would not slow down nearly as much as a piece of foam. But the ice might have a greater mass. Depending upon the situation the kinetic energy (1/2*mv^2) may be higher for the foam due to the square of the velocity term.

For these reasons a loss of foam in the upper atmosphere when the Shuttle is traveling Mach 15 (for example) is not as serious as a loss of foam in the lower atmosphere when the Shuttle is traveling Mach 1. The point of maximum damage for a piece of foam or ice will occur when the slowing down of the debris relative to the speed of the shuttle is at a maximum. The piece that doomed Columbia broke off when Columbia was traveling roughly 1700 mph at about 80,000 ft. It was estimated that the piece struck with a difference in velocity of about 530 mph. This is relatively close to Max Q. Any impact within about 30 seconds of Max Q is very dangerous.

If USA can't make safe spacecraft, imagine China!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192867)

If USA can't make safe spacecraft, imagine China's spacecraft. It'll work fine for about 5 minutes, then KA-BLOOM !! like everything else chinese. Holy Ming!! it must suck to be chinese !!

Re:If USA can't make safe spacecraft, imagine Chin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193013)

Let us hope...

I am really not in the mood for more space weapons, debris in orbit, and planting a red Chinese flag on the moon with a claim of complete lunar sovereignty.

Re:It's curtains for them (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193239)

That is NOT a sacrifice, I would gladly take the risk of death for the chance to experience a trip to space.

Re:It's curtains for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193255)

Do the US also do that for soldiers they send to Iraq? Or workers they send in a mine?

First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192141)

3 years of reloading slashdot every day finally comes to fruition.

Re:First post (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192225)

3 years of reloading slashdot every day finally comes to fruition.

Think that's hard, next try to get your First Girlfriend :-)
   

Re:First post (0, Offtopic)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192581)

Dude, easy... just go to amazon.com. I'm pretty sure they stock those.

Re:First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192227)

Denied! So sad...

Suits You Sir! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192539)

Reloading the page frequently. How did you do it sir? Did you grace the keyboard with your fingertips? Did you touch the keys sir? Did you press them... gently? Oh, sir! Suits you sir!

First post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192143)

OK, you guys fix that there thing before coming back ok?

Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192151)

This gives me great confidence in the stupid laser inspections that they do with the shuttle arm. How the hell did it miss this? They had to use the backup inspection from the ISS to see it.

Can't be the First Time (5, Insightful)

CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192153)

I wonder how many times this kind of thing happened in the 20-ish years before the Space Shuttle started monitoring its underside like this. Surely this can't be the first time (ignoring Columbia) falling foam has taken a chunk out of the shuttle's heat shielding. IMHO, this is a nearly inevitable side effect of the idiotic design of the shuttle, putting the astronauts next to the fuel and not above it. These kinds of tests and precautions can only be good, but if NASA had stuck with what worked up to that point (astronauts on top of the assembly) instead of changing things up, the tests and worries wouldn't be necessary, and lives would have been saved in 2003, and possibly 1986. Here's hoping this turns out to be inconsequentially small, or at least easily repairable.

Re:Can't be the First Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192285)

Not only that, but they insist on rolling the shuttle over to fly upside down underneath the main engines which increases the likelihood of debris from the main engines hitting the payload.

Re:Can't be the First Time (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192497)

Not only that, but they insist on rolling the shuttle over to fly upside down underneath the main engines which increases the likelihood of debris from the main engines hitting the payload.

      Not at that speed. Gravity becomes negligible when creating vectors compared to the wind resistance. Upside down, vertical, horizontal, it doesn't matter. There's only one real direction: DOWNWIND. That's the only place your debris is going to go.

      Now you could make the argument that some of the streams of air are shaped to blow debris onto the shuttle, that I would buy. Gravity has nothing to do with it, however.

Re:Can't be the First Time (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193501)

The Shuttle rolls over as a proactive measure to facilitate an aborted launch.

Re:Can't be the First Time (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192299)

I'm sure it did, but there were several other issues as detailed in this Space.com article [space.com] :

Foam coming off the tank because of improper application; deficiencies in the materials used; degradation during its transport to the Cape; the loading of supercold fuels; and the violent ride to space. Florida Today reported earlier this year that foam came off the tank on at least 71 flights to date, but NASA did not consider the resulting damage to the heat shield a safety issue.

Requirements and specifications not being followed in testing and manufacturing of the external tank.

Loss of institutional knowledge and experience at NASA and the Michoud plant because of "lots of old-timers retiring or taking buyouts" as the shuttle program reduced its workforce throughout the latter half of the 1990s.

NASA's limited insight into changes vendors had made with materials used in making the tanks.

Environmental requirements requiring removal of freon from the process for spraying the foam insulation onto the tank. NASA has said that the freon-free application method resulted in foam that initially did not adhere to the tank as well, but changes were later made to strengthen the bond of the environmentally friendly foam.


On top of all that, the shuttles themselves are just getting *old*. I imagine that leads to all sorts of maintenance and structural issues. They may still be within engineering tolerances, but engineering tolerances for the Shuttle predicted a 1 in 100,000 flight failure. A figure which Richard Feynman challenged [fotuva.org] and reduced to somewhere between 1 in 50 and 1 in 100.

So far we're on target for Dr. Feynman's predictions. :-/

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192397)

Loss of institutional knowledge and experience at NASA and the Michoud plant because of "lots of old-timers retiring or taking buyouts" as the shuttle program reduced its workforce throughout the latter half of the 1990s.
These experienced people were replaced with appointees and engineers based on how well they fit the politically correct demographic model instead of ability.

Environmental requirements requiring removal of freon from the process for spraying the foam insulation onto the tank. NASA has said that the freon-free application method resulted in foam that initially did not adhere to the tank as well, but changes were later made to strengthen the bond of the environmentally friendly foam.
The shuttle has become a death trap because NASA has placed image before technological reality.

Re:Can't be the First Time (5, Insightful)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193169)

The shuttle has become a death trap because NASA has placed image before technological reality.


Oh, bullshit.

The shuttle may have been a flawed design to begin with, and that may have been because NASA was concerned with big-budget DoD and pie-in-the-sky programs during the 70s...but practically everything except the shape of the ship has changed since the Shuttle first flew in 1981.

It hasn't "become" a death trap. Even LEO flight is risky, and the Shuttle is heavy and uses very bleeding-edge technology (still) like throttled H2/LO2 engines. Be honest and argue about the fundamentals of the Shuttle designs, but don't try to bullshit me and claim that things have gotten more dangerous for Shuttle crews now.

Maybe they should have started Constellation ten years ago - but on the whole, the Shuttle is safer now than it has ever been; in other words, still very dangerous, but less so than before Columbia.

I apologize for the brusque tone, but it really cheeses me off when people who do nothing but read NASAWatch.com think they know how complex and difficult manned spaceflight really is - especially with 35-year-old technology.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193311)

the Shuttle [..] uses very bleeding-edge technology (still) like throttled H2/LO2 engines

...which have proven to be extremely reliable. Of course, if the Shuttle was stacked vertically it wouldn't need to be throttled.

The heat shield is the bleeding edge failure in this design.

They should have stuck an Apollo Command Module on the front of the orbiter where the flight deck is and carried a launch escape tower for the first couple of minutes of flight. That way the crew would always have the option of ejecting if the orbiter fails.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193371)

They should have stuck an Apollo Command Module on the front of the orbiter where the flight deck is and carried a launch escape tower for the first couple of minutes of flight. That way the crew would always have the option of ejecting if the orbiter fails.
I don't disagree. But we were stuck with this design 32 years ago. How does that fit the parent coment's assertion of brain drain since the latter half of the 1990s?

I can't see that it does in any way, shape, or form. Parent has an axe to grind against something he or she doesn't understand.

Re:Can't be the First Time (2, Interesting)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193443)

but on the whole, the Shuttle is safer now than it has ever been;
So, the new "environmentally friendly" freon-free adhesive's problems have been fixed? How come "In all, nine pieces of debris, mostly foam, came off the fuel tank during Wednesday evening's liftoff, and three were believed to have struck the shuttle."?

A staple-gun [npr.org] and patchwork repair of thermal insulation makes the shuttle safer than ever?

Seems like nothing's really getting fixed, just hacked and patched with staples, threads, and Wal-Mart [space.com] brushes. If that's "safer now than it has ever been," then the shuttle has always been a death-trap.

I hope they brought up a case of silver duct-tape this time. That'll really boost the safety factor.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193321)

Loss of institutional knowledge and experience at NASA and the Michoud plant because of "lots of old-timers retiring or taking buyouts" as the shuttle program reduced its workforce throughout the latter half of the 1990s.

"Loss of institutional knowledge and experience" is a big problem in many ongoing engineering endeavours. When cheap computing became available, many of the "old guys" retired/got fired rather than adapt/succumb to the relatively crappy software solutions available at the time. In theory, meticulous "as-built" drawings and documents are prepared but somehow this is always a half-hearted effort since there's always something newer and more interesting to move onto.

Who took over from the old guard in many cases? People that knew how to operate the computers and make deliverables look CAD-nice. It didn't necessarily matter if the documents were flawed or whether the details were sweated - there weren't many people left to check.

Now, instead of competent detail draftsmen/designers that have the ability to work within their discipline at a variety of employers we have employers demanding specific experience with specific software. Many of these guys are now button-pushers that discuss how to make "the damn machine" do what they want rather than talking about design details and getting excited about new ideas.

Don't get me wrong - it's fun to modify software to make it do what you want it to do, it's just that this is not what designers are supposed to be doing.

WaaahWaaah! Gimme back my pencil!

PS Anyone want to help out with BRL-CAD customization?

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193861)

>So far we're on target for Dr. Feynman's predictions. :-/

Quite unfortunately for us and NASA, when he announced these, we all assumed he was joking! :p

http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0393316041/ref=s9_asi n_title_1/102-8483475-6626520?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DE R&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0DEGJCHMSYY456CDH27K&pf _rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=278240301&pf_rd_i=507846 [amazon.com]

Seriously though, it's a great book. Well worth the read for any self-respecting nerd.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192405)

Shame we've gotta wait a few more years for the AltSpace community to get some people into orbit. It'll be nice when we can say "going to space? That's something people do with garage-level engineering these days."

Re:Can't be the First Time (4, Interesting)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192495)

I wonder how many times this kind of thing happened...

Lots [nasa.gov] (yes it's a pdf so kill me). See page 9.

Sorta reminds me of the time the de Havilland Comet blew up in mid air and aviation engineers learned about fatigue and decided to go look at other airplanes for signs of fatigue cracks and found them everywhere. Talk about freaking out.

Then, after that, several smart people[1] figured out that cracks always had been everywhere and, you know, chill. The airplanes we fly around on have lots of cracks. The thing that saves our collective butts is that they are understood.

1 P Paris and F Erdogan (1963), A critical analysis of crack propagation laws, Journal of Basic Engineering, Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, December 1963, pp.528-534.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193285)

Then, after that, several smart people[1] figured out that cracks always had been everywhere and, you know, chill. The airplanes we fly around on have lots of cracks. The thing that saves our collective butts is that they are understood.

At the time, stress was not understood and jet airliners were very new. The engineers figured out the effects of stress and crack propagation and the problem was solved, well, kinda. Whilst the comet was retired a long, long time ago, the same basic airframe was used for Nimrod, a aew/asw platform which has since flown for many, many years (although it too is showing its age). After Comet, it became a priority to check for cracks and when they start to move on all critical parts. At that point, the plane has to be fixed, which may involve major work to get at the parts concerned.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192725)

I hadn't thought of that before (the fact that the shuttle is on the side of the rocket during take off probably does increase the odds of structural damage to the underside considerably). But now that you mention it, that is a good point. I would like to add one counterpoint though: the 1986 accident was caused by a faulty O-ring (on the oxygen fuel tanks I believe) that shifted in shape beyond the design specs because of the extreme cold the night before that launch, and led to leakage of fuel and an eventual explosion of the tank. That one wasn't caused by falling debris of any sort.

SRB, not ET (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193495)

The faulty O-ring was on one of the SRB's, right side I think, not the external tank. It was a massive ring that sealed the joints between two segments. It shrunk in the cold, let burning gases past and torched a hole into the external tank.

Other than that, your counterpoint is perfectly valid.

Re:SRB, not ET (1)

Peil (549875) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193559)

Almost right, it cracked in the cold as the shuttle was left on the pad due to weather delays, they now have heating coils for the o-ring seals which are left on until approx 2 minutes before launch.

Re:Can't be the First Time (1)

swokm (1140623) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193223)

MHO, this is a nearly inevitable side effect of the idiotic design of the shuttle, putting the astronauts next to the fuel and not above it.
That makes me wonder if either of the now cancelled replacements wouldn't have been better? How would the Venture Star or Delta Clipper designs fair with his type of danger? Someone on Slashdot must know...

In any case, I think we screwed up by canceling them, even if the were over budget or whatever. I'm sure they know the risks, but loosing as many astronauts as we have is a hard price to pace for progress -- loosing them needlessly to save a few bucks is criminal... I'm sure that maintaining the 1970s era shuttles is lucrative, I hope that hasn't played a factor in the delay of a replacement.

PS. NASA, if you're listening... next time build the launch facility in a freaking low humidity desert please. I hear MASA rents for cheap!

yes, this just started happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193857)

The first shuttle flights used a tough foam. Then the tree huggers demanded a freon-free environmentally sensitive foam. This new foam flakes off like crazy.

NASA didn't have to do this. I hope the Nature Conservancy is happy.

Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (5, Funny)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192169)

...using Endeavour's 100-foot robot arm and extension beam. Lasers on the end of the beam...

You know what bugs me? Ok? They have this 100-foot robot arm but they don't have the 250-foot robot that it must have come from. I mean if it has lasers on its ARM, imagine what else it has lasers on. Like, for example, on it's frikken head.

Which it's important to know if theres a 250-foot frikken robot with frikken lasers on its frikken head out there roaming around all mad because NASA ripped its arm off.

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (4, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192293)

You know what bugs me? Ok? They have this 100-foot robot arm but they don't have the 250-foot robot that it must have come from. I mean if it has lasers on its ARM, imagine what else it has lasers on. Like, for example, on it's frikken head.
Yeah, you'd think having a 250-foot tall robot would be cool but the damn thing needs an extension cord and the battery only works for five minutes.

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193825)

But it comes in handy if you have any trouble with angels.

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192321)

The 250 foot frikken robot was eaten by a large ill-tempered sea bass.

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192465)

Which it's important to know if theres a 250-foot frikken robot with frikken lasers on its frikken head out there roaming around all mad because NASA ripped its arm off.

      Perhaps the fact that it has "Canada" written on it is a clue as to where we should look first...

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192795)

Perhaps the fact that it has "Canada" written on it is a clue as to where we should look first...

Shh... I'm sure CNN blots out the *****arm. Why run the risk of confusing people?

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192517)

WTF! NASA is screwing up every which way this week. First the redesign of the tank didn't solve the breaking of the shuttle. They broke the shuttle. As you mention they set loose an angry armless monster bent on vengeance, and finally, they reveal that they fucked up and that not only was 1998 not hottest year on record, but half of the hottest years on record were before WWII.

Is there anything NASA can get right? If they're ripping laser-equipped arms off of robots now, the LEAST they could do is give us some sharks with frikken laser beams attached to their heads. Believe you me, if they had sharks with fricken laser beams on there heads, I'm sure THEY would be able to inspect the shuttle!!

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192525)

The CanadArm is originally from a Canadian military project started many decades ago. You see Canada realized it could never fight a ground war effectively because of its comparatively small population, and of course the loss of human life is always undesirable. Instead they developed a radical new plan - robots!

Originally the plan had been to thousands of human sized robots or smaller and in a variety of nature-inspired shapes (dogs, humans, etc) but eventually they came to acknowledge economies of scale. The old robots were shipped to a dummy corporation in Japan, who then turned them around and is currently selling them to other countries children as toys (RoboSapien, RoboDog, etc) that way should anyone go to war with Canada the Canadians will have hundreds of thousands of spies placed convienently in the households of many rich families in other countries.

Of course, this was the old plans, and the new plans instead developed into two different directions - the first was the creation of Metal Gear, a line of bi-pedal nuclear equipped robots that incorporated massive military arsenals, were controllable by a single well-trained pilot, and incorporated the fear of a Tyrannosaurus Rex with massive phallic symbols to demoralize and insult (by comparison to the massive metal penises of Metal Gear) enemy combatants. The second branch developed a more covert approach, hiding massive robots in the shape of common and functional metal bodies, such as 18 wheelers and volkswagons known as Autobots.

The space shuttle is actually a giant interstellar Canadian autobot (thus the arm), and the ISS is a Metal Gear platform capable of launching many dozens of metal gears to anywhere on the planet from Low Orbit.

Personally, I'm terrified of the Canadian military strategy.

Re:Where's the 250 Foot Robot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193207)

Dude you're stoned! That was brilliant though

Funniest post on slashdot? (2, Interesting)

Swordfish (86310) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193211)

I've been reading slashdot since about 1998 or 1999, I forget which. My reader number is not quite accurate because I deleted my original slashdot registration after several months to change the handle name (and then someone named a movie after my new handle name, which is really irritating because I got the name swordfish from a Marx Brothers movie).

Anyway, that's the funniest post I've seen on slashdot so far, although I gave up reading the feedbacks for 99% of the articles a few years ago. So thanks for that. You've made my day. Well expressed, good timing, nice wording and smooth syntax. Too bad there isn't a hall of fame to aggregate the best feedback posts!

Try 'seen on slash' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193719)

http://seenonslash.com/ [seenonslash.com]

Deep [bleep] (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192207)

"Whaddya mean you forgot the Duct Tape?"

They've had it. (-1, Flamebait)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192361)

The worst part for them is when they re-enter, knowing that they're about to burn up at any minute. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now.

Re:They've had it. (1)

Cataclysmic730 (1141109) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192459)

I sure as heck wouldn't either.

Re:They've had it. (1)

Klintus Fang (988910) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192745)

I'm fairly certain that they will not re-enter if they can't patch the heat shield. If all attempts at fixing it fail they'll likely find another way down.

The Real WTF is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192393)

That no one has commented on:

Lasers on the end of the beam will gauge the exact size and depth of the gouge
Oh no sir, that couldn't possibly be an intentional pun!

tagged: spacedrama (2, Funny)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192409)

NASA: the new Star Trek.

Re:tagged: spacedrama (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192739)

Reality TV for nerds.

Best of Luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192443)

Just wanted to wish everyone up there the best of luck on the return trip after the repairs. I can't imagine how fucking scary the ride home will be... Hope the repairs go smoothly - our thoughts go out to you. We should all appreciate the risk these people have undertaken to further humanity.

The shuttle can land without pilots (4, Interesting)

Mal Reynolds (676267) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192651)

The Discovery was given remote landing capability in 2006. I would be shocked if the Endeavour didn't have this same capability.

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/3 0/0458246&from=rss [slashdot.org]

If mission control thinks a manned landing too risky, they'll just hook up the remote system and send down the can without the spam. Another Shuttle will be sent up in 6 or 8 weeks and take the whole lot of them home.

This would probably be another large setback to the ISS and to the astronaut corps. The "rescue mission" would probably depart with just 2 or 3 astronauts. And if the Endeavour was lost on re-entry, it would probably doom the shuttle program.

Sucks to be an astronaut these days. Chances of dying, 1 in 59, and you're lucky to get a single ride every 10 years.

On the other hand, SpaceX may get be getting some rush orders for Falcon 9's and Dragons.

Problem solved! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192489)

Stuff Nancy Reagan's underwear into the gouge. It's impervious to all known forms of penetration, abrasion, or heat generated by friction. Problem solved!

Re:Problem solved! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193639)

Aaahahaha. I wish I had mod points, but I'll settle for leaving a reply telling you that was hilarious.

I once had a car like the shuttle... (2, Insightful)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192507)

I once had a little Corolla like the shuttle. Every time I took the car out for any sort of drive I had to re-inflate one of the tires, so eventually I just bought one of those lighter powered air compressors. Eventually I got the money and replaced the tires and soon after the car.

You would think that with billions of dollars and thousands of talented engineers they could come up with a way of launching the shuttle without having to resort to repairing the damn thing before they can return home again.

Re:I once had a car like the shuttle... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192521)

You would think that with billions of dollars and thousands of talented engineers

      Hey this is a government program you are talking about. They fired all the talented people YEARS ago.

Re:I once had a car like the shuttle... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192695)

I thought that the government only fired prosecutors and air traffic controllers?

Google? (0, Offtopic)

Tom9729 (1134127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192533)

Did anyone else misread "Gouge" as "Google"?

Re:Google? (1)

apoKalypse (568147) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192567)

Yes, but that's because the whisky is blurring my vision.

Re:Google? (1)

MonorailCat (1104823) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192759)

Absolutely. Twice in fact (non-consecutively (boy I'm tired)).

but seriously, where can't you find Google these days?

Re:Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192767)

YEAH! Me too!! Nice to know i'm not the only one.

More reading (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192633)

Here's a non-sensationalist summary of the situation that's not just yanked from AP:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=5195 [nasaspaceflight.com]

The damage is likely minor, but the media loves jumping on these things.

Not Your Daddys NASA Anymore (0, Flamebait)

chromozone (847904) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192669)

I think its time to scrap those vehicles before NASA has the next "event". NASA doesn't exactly come across as a "crack" outfit anymore and I wouldn't want them watching my back as I hurdle through space on aging junk. I would need those special diapers. NASA looks to me like an outfit that will keep launching these "beaters" until they HAVE to stop (after the next accident anyone can see is coming).

Put in a call to the IRS and increase your taxatio (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192803)

Because doing what you suggest cost money, taxpayers money. It is an election year (ah, democracy were goverment is paralysed for months before and after an election every two years, might this be the REAL reason countries like Japan, Korea and now China raced ahead of the west so fast?) and you are calling for an increase in spending, and therefore taxation.

It might be possible to get setup a campaign with that but you would also be the first person in history to actually end up with a negative amount of votes.

Not saying you are not right, just ain't gonna happen. Not until the Chinese space program becomes news and the US suddenly realizes that it is loosing face and it starts another space race (by setting a goal they can achieve quickly and then loudly shouting that was the goal all along for everyone and claim victory even if some doubters question the actual results (was the US/USSR space race "won" by landing on the moon OR did the russians with the their continued space pressence with MIR really have the most succesfull program?)).

Re:Put in a call to the IRS and increase your taxa (1)

cheezedawg (413482) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193081)

this be the REAL reason countries like Japan, Korea and now China raced ahead of the west so fast?
In what way have Japan, Korea, and China raced ahead of the west?

Re:Put in a call to the IRS and increase your taxa (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193193)

Oh, shut up! The amount of money required to fix the space program is equal to the amount we spend in a couple of hours (or, at worst, days) in Iraq, or on Social Security, or on paying interest on the national debt. If the politicians cared, they could damn well find the money!

Re:Put in a call to the IRS and increase your taxa (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193331)

Some time last year, I calculated that we could have done about ten mars missions for one year of Iraq or several hundred shuttle missions. The problem is warfare is much better for contractors than space. The fog of war is quite forgiving over supply difficulties and quality levels. In a civilian space program, there is too much of a spotlight and you can't make money so easily.

Re:Not Your Daddys NASA Anymore (3, Insightful)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192831)

NASA doesn't exactly come across as a "crack" outfit anymore...

I understand why you might say that, but it's a little bit unfair to cast your net that wide.

At one time in my long and sorted career I participated in a NASA sponsored symposium on UBE [nasa.gov] engines. Have to admit, there was a rush to riding the bus that had NASA written on it, and I had a NASA badge. It was really something, just being associated with that acronym.

My point is, the young lads and lasses that work for NASA are just pumped to be there. Don't disparage them for feeling that way. It's the older bunch that should know right from wrong, and that's where you have a point, they don't always act like they do.

NASA has a unique problem engineering-wise, which is that the very name psyches out the people that work there. Anywhere else, a highly qualified young person would feel protected to call bullshit, but not at NASA.

If I could give any advice to a 20-something working at that place it would be: don't act like you work for a legendary establishment. Act like you work for ACME spaceships Inc. Call it like you see it, and if you find it hard to do think of this: if NASA turfs you out, there are plenty of opportunities for people with those 4 letters on their resume to make obscene amounts of money. So, theres absolutely no reason to worry about your future. Do the right thing.

Re:Not Your Daddys NASA Anymore (1)

d12v10 (1046686) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192839)

They've already been scheduled to stop "launching these beaters". Quit your "bitching", NASA is full of talented individuals, this incident is not actually "unique", and blasting them for no "reason" while surrounding your post with quotes is just "insulting".

Re:Not Your Daddys NASA Anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193205)

NASA is just a notch above a Florida "trailer park". An astronaut wearing diapers while going off after some slag screwing another white trash astronaut is like something off a Jerry Springer show. Throw in all the other stories about "sabotage" and drinking and poor QC and it's plain to see NASA is just another liberal bureaucracy that creates 2 problems for any 1 that it solves. Even in their photos NASA staff looks fat and trashy. Time to wake up.

Re:Not Your Daddys NASA Anymore (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192915)

NASA looks to me like an outfit that will keep launching these "beaters" until they HAVE to stop (after the next accident anyone can see is coming).

Ah right, like the spaceplane [space.com] that congress keeps cutting the funding for?

Rocket Scientists? (2, Funny)

n0dna (939092) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192729)

Too bad NASA doesn't have access to any Rocket Scientists.

Maybe they could find some way to overcome whatever this treacherous material is that they've codenamed: "Styrofoam."

Although the new cameras do give us much nicer pictures of the things they decided were too hard to fix.

Perseid meteor shower (3, Interesting)

flewp (458359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192781)

I have some somewhat offtopic questions I was hoping someone here might be able to shed some light on.

Does anyone know how/if NASA handles things like micrometeorites? Now, I know that for the most part they're just tiny specks of debris, and *very far* and *very few* between, but do they have any kind of contingency plan for fixing either parts of the shuttle or the ISS in a case of impact? I've seen and heard a lot of times that even a small speck at those speeds can punch a rather large hole in even thick aluminum/steel/etc plating. Can a spec of dust truly do that much damage, or are they exaggerating and really talking about something more along the size of a pebble or even a grain of sand? It wouldn't surprise me to learn that a tiny speck of debris could indeed punch a huge whole, but it also wouldn't surprise me that even the scientific/educational* shows I've seen this on could be exaggerating for effect. (* I use scientific/educational loosely, as even stuff on the Discovery Science channel is still entertainment, especially more so now than ever it seems)

Also, how would an event like the Perseid meteor shower change the odds? Again, I realize that even during a meteor shower, the actual meteors and objects are extremely sparse. What I'm wondering is, do they (statistically speaking) increase the likelihood of an impact, or are they still so sparse as to have very little consequence?

And finally, about what is the lower limit for NASA and other agencies when it comes to tracking space junk and meteors that orbit the Earth? I know they have some kind of tracking system, but I'm wondering what its limits and capabilities are. Are they making efforts to curb space junk, since I imagine there's more stuff in orbit now than ever? Are the number of launches increasing with time as well, or have they sort of leveled off or even dropped off now that we have a lot of communication, research, etc satellites in orbit?

Apologies for asking here instead of googling, but I figured it might make for good discussion. Or at the very least, expand my knowledge a bit.

Re:Perseid meteor shower (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192883)

Yes, there are patching materials on ISS. The micrometeorite hole would be small and facing inward, so any strong duct tape like substance would seal the hole for good. The pressure is continuously monitored throughout the station, and there are airtight doors everywhere in case the hole is too large for patching. As long as the micrometeorite does not hit any occupants, they are safe enough.

I do not know for sure what they would do aboard the Shuttle. Probably there are procedures for that too, since the air leak can have other causes too (a bad valve, a crack, some defective gasket etc.) The easiest and most obvious procedure could be to jump into their pressurized suits and land ASAP. The only catch is that if the pressure loss is fast they have no compartments to escape and no doors to close.

Re:Perseid meteor shower (4, Interesting)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192975)

I've read that a little piece of paint made a fairly noticeable "dent" in the Shuttle's windshield. Here's a website that mentions it: http://www.spacetoday.org/Satellites/SatBytes/Spac eJunk.html [spacetoday.org]

Several other sites showed up on Google when I searched for shuttle, fleck of paint, windshield

Considering how small the mass of the paint must have been, I could easily see how a small pebble sized object could cause major damage, but I'm not a rocket scientist. I think there has also been some general concern about all of the debris from China's ASAT test earlier this year. I think they are tracking most of the thousands of pieces of debris, so they would hopefully have an idea if something was coming, but I'm sure that they can't track the smallest pieces of debris. There are some animations on the web that show how the debris spread out from that test - its really amazing.

When you're traveling at 7 km per second, hitting anything that is not traveling along with you on a similar orbit (they would have similar velocities and wouldn't be moving as fast relative to you) has got to be seriously bad news.

Re:Perseid meteor shower (4, Informative)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192977)

Lucky for you my young padawan I have no life.

Does anyone know how/if NASA handles things like micrometeorites?

Dunno exactly, how's that for a start? I do know the shuttle's glazings are replaced [nasa.gov] about once every 10 flights due to impact, mostly with man made stuff like paint chips from exploded satellites. Just guessing here and don't quote me, but the way they deal with this is probably with stats. As in, if a chip of paint can ding a window, I guess a gram-sized piece of debris can poke two holes in the orbiter (an in and an out). Although, that might not be fatal if it doesn't pass through someone's body, the little hole can probably be patched with, you know, the space shuttle hole patch kit they must have.

The Orbiter is maneuvered [nap.edu] to avoid known space debris, but that only goes down to about tens [esa.int] of centimeters. So stuff smaller than that has to be handled with stats.

Color radar? (2, Funny)

RobRyland (960596) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192833)

"Radar images show a white spray or streak coming off Endeavour 58 seconds after liftoff."
OK, it is a nit, but i couldn't let it pass...
-Rob

Damn... (2, Interesting)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192855)

I have nothing comical or insightful to add. I just hope that everything turns out for the best. I want to add my voice to that.

Especially since there is a teacher on board.

Re:Damn... (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192937)

Especially since there is a teacher on board.

I'm sure it will be seen as bad omen. Sailors, and by extension - astronauts - are superstitious. You would be too, considering the age of the equipment they have to use. Paris is worth the Pascal's Wager, so to say.

Re:Damn... (1)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193019)

Yeah.. It'll be seen as a bad omen until -- I hope -- this teacher touches down safely.

And then I hope a new superstition replaces the current one...

So, did they pack one of these? (2, Interesting)

Cef (28324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192979)

Only just before this mission (STS-118).

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/news/wir eless_scanner.html [nasa.gov]

Basically it's a close-range imager for cracks in the tiles, to reduce the need for manual inspection. Little detail in that link, but the question is: Was it was made for the ground crew or the shuttle crew to inspect the tiles?

Still, at least they have the SSPTS (Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System) available and working, which gives them a few more days in orbit to evaluate and fix things.

Color Radar (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#20192993)

Radar images show a white spray or streak coming off Endeavour 58 seconds after liftoff.


When do we get the Slashdot story about color radar?

-Peter

Re:Color Radar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193553)

I dunno, ever watch the weather?

Deja Vue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20192995)

Scratch one more teacher!!!

Of course there's a gouge! (3, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193063)

Meteor showers are the BEST times to send shuttles into space!!

Re:Of course there's a gouge! (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193319)

Meteors have only been spotted while the sun was on the opposite of the earth. So as long you launch during daylight hours you should be safe.

why the hell can't we get it right? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193113)

We've got the best minds in the country working on these projects.

The problem is, all those lowest bidders that keep making shit parts.

Our government is going to eat itself.

Not a real gouge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20193347)

This is just an excuse by the ship's computer to send out astronauts that are getting in the way of the REAL mission.

"I predict the chances of a safe re-entry are not good. I recommend that a team of astronauts do an EVA to repair the gouge."

Service vs working hours? (1)

complex(179,-70) (1101799) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193593)

I've seen this argument before on some blog, but: isn't the amount of hours that those people up there spend on servicing and checking for damage getting out of hand? ISTM that we don't hear anything about what it is they do, expect that it involves repairing or replacing something on either the shuttle or the ISS. Do they actually still have time and money to do scientific work or is that just a dish on the side now?

Possible rocket debris? (2, Interesting)

micronicos (344307) | more than 7 years ago | (#20193705)

I was up too darn late watching the Nasa TV press conference. Questions were asked about maybe the debris source being space junk from an old rocket;

"NASA also revealed that Endeavour came within a mile of a piece of floating space junk during the launch. The garbage was an old Delta rocket body that has been orbiting for years, NASA said".

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la- sci-shuttle11aug11,1,1712330.story?coll=la-headlin es-nation&ctrack=2&cset=true [latimes.com]

Tracked back to a '70s launch apparently, though I can't confirm this apart from what I heard.
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