Skip to comments.Lost in Space: Were both space-shuttle disasters the result of putting environmentalism...
Posted on 07/29/2005 5:07:04 AM PDT by nsmart
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, said in June that it had found the "smoking gun" that caused the space shuttle Columbia to break apart as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1: a piece of foam that had peeled off the external fuel tank and struck the shuttle's wing 1 minute and 22 seconds after liftoff.
But many experts looking at the tragedy that killed seven astronauts say there is a deeper cause. They say that the metaphorical smoking gun should be painted green.
Because of demands that the agency help to front for environmentalism, and under pressure from the Clinton-Gore administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) led by Carol Browner, NASA had stopped using Freon, a fluorocarbon that greens claim damages the ozone layer, in its thermal-insulating foam. NASA found in 1997 after the first launch with the politically correct substitute that the Freon-free foam had destroyed 11 times as many of the shuttle's ceramic tiles as had the foam containing Freon. The politicized foam was less sticky and more brittle under extreme temperatures. But apparently little or nothing was done to resist the environmentalist politicians.
(Excerpt) Read more at findarticles.com ...
Is it true that NASA didn't change the foam at all for this launch? What on earth is different about this shuttle flight than the one that failed?
Fox 'n' Friends noted it prominently yesterday. But it should have been trumpeted from 1997, when the performance difference and risk associated with the performance difference were known.
2003 FR Thread - Michoud External Tanks May Hold Clue About Columbia Accident.
I'm not rocket scientist, hee hee, but to my knowledge they only put more cameras on it so the astronauts would know they were in deep doo doo.
I'm glad Fox covered it. Of course, they also need to cover the asbestos issue from 1986.
NASA made lots of changes, including eliminating foam from some areas where foam separation would be particulalry risky to the shuttle.
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/112301main_114_pk_july05.pdf <- 8.9 Mb "Press Kit"
The above URL contains a very good summary of the changes to the external tank and other aspects of the mission, most of which is aimed at improving safety. There were LOTS of changes, but a return to the old "sticking" foam was not one of them.
There were many subsantive changes, not just enhancement of observation capabilities.
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/112301main_114_pk_july05.pdf <- 8.9 Mb PDF "Press Kit"
With regard to changes in the wake of the Challenger disaster, which was traced back to seals between sections of the solid rocket motor boosters, there were plenty of design and "decide to go" issues in addition to the asbestos. The mechanics of the seal (the "rigid" parts that house the sealing materials) were radically redesigned.
In both cases, the risks were pointed out to NASA management in advance of the loss of life.
I don't claim to be a rocket scientist. We will defer to your knowledge for that.
Are you disputing the removal of Asbestos as one contributing factor in the O-ring failure? If so, I stand corrected for posting this article.
I'd love to get this covered on C-SPAN.
More blood on the hands of the greenies.
Don't forget that the WTC steel beams were coated with epoxy after the protests. Original specs called for Asbestos which might have kept the towers from falling.
No. I think that is accurate. But there were other issues too. The rubber "O" ring material was not elastic at the temperature it was being used at, the shuttle was launched on a colder day than it had ever been launched, etc. The presence of an asbestos backing material would have reduced the risk of burn through in that context, but the seal design was used beyond it's rated capability.
In fairness to the decision makers, "rated capability" in this case is a label I assign in hindsight. The seal is complex, and didn't have a clear "rating" like we see on everyday component parts of household and industrial appliances. But the decision makers are at fault, because the booster designers asserted "unsafe to launch."
http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/SPACEFLIGHT/challenger/SP26.htm <- Other issues
http://vesuvius.jsc.nasa.gov/er/seh/explode.html <- Verbal description of seal changes
http://www.engineering.com/content/ContentDisplay?contentId=41009024 <- Human decision-making errors
http://cbsnews.cbs.com/network/news/space/51Lchap11recommendations.html <- More
On Sept. 15, 1980, the solid rocket booster joints were classified as criticality 1R, meaning the system was redundant because of the secondary O-ring. Even so, the wording of the critical items list left much room for doubt: "Redundancy of the secondary field joint seal cannot be verified after motor case pressure reaches approximately 40 percent of maximum expected operating pressure." The joint was classified as criticality 1R until December 1982 when it was changed to criticality 1. Two events prompted the change: the switch to a non-asbestos insulating putty - the original manufacturer had discontinued production - and the results of tests in May 1982 that finally convinced Marshall management that the secondary O-ring would not function after motor pressurization. Criticality 1 systems are defined as those in which a single failure results in loss of mission, vehicle and crew. Even though the classification was changed, NASA engineers and their counterparts at Morton Thiokol still considered the joint redundant through the ignition transient. The Rogers Commission found this to be a fatal flaw in judgment.
What ever became of this. Was this proved to be real or fake?
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And of course there's DDT.
Great thread! And you are correct to defer to scientists and engineers. I should have a lot of say as well, understanding the construction of the Welsh longbow.
Starlite? That's real enough. A plastic material. You can blowtorch it for two minutes and it's quite cool to the touch afterwards. Disclaimer: my information is gleaned from a live radio test I listened to a few years back.
As to why its not used all over the place - no idea. Perhaps there's a D notice on it. Perhaps its got Asbestos, DDT and Yanomani Indian blood in it. Who knows?
Here's another one. It too shows "there were plenty of design and 'decide to go' issues in addition to the asbestos."
Above link has a cross section of the failed booster seal design.
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