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For NASA, Misjudgments Led to Latest Shuttle Woes (more incompetence discovered)
The New York Times via Drudge Report ^ | July 31, 2005 | JOHN SCHWARTZ

Posted on 07/31/2005 5:34:43 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi

"We are ready to fly."

It was June 24, and William W. Parsons, NASA's shuttle program manager, was speaking to reporters on a telephone conference call from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Two and a half years of study and struggle, he told them, were over at long last. The shuttle Discovery could blast off in July. At a closed-door meeting that afternoon, senior shuttle managers had ruled that the chances that debris from the giant external fuel tank would strike the Discovery at liftoff - in the kind of accident that doomed the Columbia and its seven astronauts in February 2003 - had been reduced to "acceptable levels."

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Government; Technical
KEYWORDS: armchairscientist; foam; govtincompetence; hater; nasa; shuttle; shuttlediscovery
If NASA were a private agency, the liberals would have insisted that the administrators be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter due to their negligence with the Columbia mission.

This article only highlights the continued incompetence by these overpaid bureaucrats.

1 posted on 07/31/2005 5:34:43 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi
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To: Erik Latranyi

No heads rolling over the latest Billion Dollar oops?


2 posted on 07/31/2005 5:39:02 AM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Erik Latranyi

My husband keeps muttering that the foam that they use now is more environmentally friendly and that the old, less "friendly" foam never fell off. Any truth to that.


3 posted on 07/31/2005 5:40:38 AM PDT by Mercat
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To: Mercat
My husband keeps muttering that the foam that they use now is more environmentally friendly and that the old, less "friendly" foam never fell off. Any truth to that.

Read the entire article. It explains the foam issues well.

4 posted on 07/31/2005 5:41:49 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: Erik Latranyi

"...would have insisted that the administrators be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter due to their negligence with the Columbia mission."

Does ANYONE ever "pay" anymore when something goes wrong?

The twin towers are gone and not one head has rolled. Did NO ONE see the looming threat AND WARN OF IT? Well, yeah.... Had'nt we been attacked before? Well, yeah.... Had'nt the towers themselves been attacked before? Well, yeah....

The Challenger blows up in front of the whole world. Was not the very thing warned of? Well, yeah...

The Columbia burns up upon re-entry. The cause is ascertained. Was anyone held responsible for the problem? Was it corrected so that it COULDN'T happen again? Will ANYONES HEAD ROLL?

Welcome to the lying PC world where NOTHING is as important as protecting The Faith.


5 posted on 07/31/2005 5:50:33 AM PDT by TalBlack
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To: Mercat
" ... According to NASA engineer Greg Katnik, the 1997 tile incident was traced to an important change in the shuttle foam. Prior to 1997, the foam was made using Freon. After Freon was banned because of concerns about its potential to deplete the ozone layer, NASA switched to a new kind of "environmentally safe" foam. A 1997 report by Katnik described photographs that showed massive amounts of foam missing from the fuel tank after launch. If the new foam helped protect the ozone layer, its impact would be so tiny as to be immeasurable. The possibility remains that its impact on Columbia could have brought down the shuttle. NASA hopes that recovering key fragments of the left wing will provide vital clues to what happened. Those fragments might be very difficult to find if they are what people saw separating from Columbia over California and Arizona ... "


From ... http://www.sas.org/E-Bulletin/2003-02-21/features/body.html



6 posted on 07/31/2005 5:59:54 AM PDT by G.Mason
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To: Mercat
My husband keeps muttering that the foam that they use now is more environmentally friendly and that the old, less "friendly" foam never fell off. Any truth to that.

No, he is wrong, according to this article, but be kind and don't tell him. :-)

NASA engineers had already seen how fixes can break things. After they made a minor change in the foam application process in the late 1990's to comply with environmental rules, small divots of foam rained off of the tank during ascent. The phenomenon, called popcorning, was caused by trapped bubbles; NASA solved the problem by venting the foam with tiny holes, but it was a reminder, if any was needed, that seemingly small changes could have profound effects.

That is probably what he is thinking of. However, this was before that.

In the end, the old engineering maxim "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" trumped vague misgivings about a part that had not shed any foam, as far as anyone knew, since 1983.

However, most of the flights after that were at night so it was impossible to know whether the problem persisted.

7 posted on 07/31/2005 6:08:46 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Mercat
> My husband keeps muttering that the foam that they use now is more environmentally friendly and that the old, less "friendly" foam never fell off. Any truth to that.

Typical NYT...the article is so longwinded you fall asleep before you get to the end :) I think this might answer your question:

" At the dawn of the shuttle program, NASA rules said no foam at all should be allowed to hit the shuttle and possibly damage the fragile heat-resistant tiles that cover its aluminum skin.

"But fidelity to those standards was relaxed over time; in fact, foam fell from a PAL ramp in two early missions, including the one in June 1983 on which Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. There may have been many more incidents, but dozens of shuttle missions have been launched in darkness, with no visual record of foam, and the tanks themselves cannot be retrieved from the ocean for analysis."

"...NASA engineers had already seen how fixes can break things. After they made a minor change in the foam application process in the late 1990's to comply with environmental rules, small divots of foam rained off of the tank during ascent."

8 posted on 07/31/2005 6:10:05 AM PDT by cloud8
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To: TalBlack
Does ANYONE ever "pay" anymore when something goes wrong?

I am troubled by this emerging pattern in gov't as well.

With regard to the WTC....the intelligence services should not have bourne the brunt of the firings (even though some were needed).

The real culpability for BOTH the WTC and NASA lie squarely on the shoulders of our elected representatives. They are charged with oversight. They shackled the intelligence services and they created a space program with a culture that leads to repeated mistakes and loss of life.

9 posted on 07/31/2005 6:35:04 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: TalBlack; ncountylee
Does ANYONE ever "pay" anymore when something goes wrong?

I certainly share the frustration but why must someone's head roll? Read the article. What they did was reasonable. It was wrong in some areas but it was reasonable and within normal procedures. Why should someone be sacrificed other than for PR reasons? That is the cowardly way out.

The twin towers are gone and not one head has rolled. Did NO ONE see the looming threat AND WARN OF IT? Well, yeah.... Had'nt we been attacked before? Well, yeah.... Had'nt the towers themselves been attacked before? Well, yeah....

Those whose heads should have rolled were no longer in office. The Clinton administration had put road blocks in place between the FBI and the CIA to prevent cross checking and sharing of infromation. They decided that terrorism was a criminal matter rather than a war declared on us from the outside, as bin Laden most certainly did in 1998. Although the intelligence was there to find and eliminate bin Laden and others Clinton found a way not to do it.

Bush was only in office a short time when 9/11 happened and had been purposely hampered in getting started by the Democrats refusing to release the normal transition money allocated for changes in office until the election was settled, and they drew that out as long as possible. Regardless, I, too, was disappointed that Mueller and Tenet stayed in place but, as I said the work of the FBI and the CIA was sound and the ones who created the problem were gone.

The Challenger blows up in front of the whole world. Was not the very thing warned of? Well, yeah...

As well as I recall, not too well at times, there was a change at NASA after that.

The Columbia burns up upon re-entry. The cause is ascertained. Was anyone held responsible for the problem? Was it corrected so that it COULDN'T happen again? Will ANYONES HEAD ROLL?

As far as heads rolling I don't remember but with something as tricky as space flight you will never be able to assure that nothing will happen. After Challenger we went a long time trying to fix the problem. Read the article to see the process.

Welcome to the lying PC world where NOTHING is as important as protecting The Faith.

I don't understand that but having heads roll just for the sake of it is stupid and cowardly. Want someone's head? How about Sandy Berger's? There is a guy who should be in prison. Want more? How about Bill and Hillary? Each should be in prison on death row.

10 posted on 07/31/2005 6:35:48 AM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: TalBlack
Did NO ONE see the looming threat AND WARN OF IT?

Let's see: Operation Bojinka, and another plan to crash a plane into the Pope's motorcade in the Philipines, multiple prior SAM attampts and Arrow Air, which was probably a successful shoot-down or sabotage... Yeah, 9/11 was "unimaginable."

Now, instead of security people losing their jobs for incompetence, we get more incompetent "security" people at airports that make us NOT ONE BIT more secure.

11 posted on 07/31/2005 6:42:17 AM PDT by Haru Hara Haruko
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To: TalBlack
Yea someone pays, but like all businesses it not the top people. I can see some poor technician telling his family that he was fired from his job while his boss gets a raise. Kind of like the elected officals in Pa., fast eddie cuts benifits for those who need them most, elected offical vote themselves a raise in the middle of the night and fast eddie signs it late on a friday night.
12 posted on 07/31/2005 7:46:25 AM PDT by chiefqc
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To: Erik Latranyi
Misjudgements? Ya think? Nobody has said anything about what I found and published on my website.
After Columbia disintegrated, a set of NASA emails were released to the public, detailing the internal discussions among engineers and lower management about whether and how the possibly damaged spacecraft could suffer a catastrophic failure upon re-entry and landing. Interestingly, nobody in the media has picked up on the "smoking gun" buried within these emails, showing who made the fateful decision that ultimately doomed the craft and crew.

Here is the critical tidbit:



Translation: someone at NASA asked the USSTRAT (part of the military) to use a spy satellite to examine the suspected damage. Higher management had not approved that request, so Steve J. Stich told USSTRAT to cancel the request. Upon reflection (before the deaths of the crew), Mr. Stich was more concerned with looking like he "cried wolf" than whether lifesaving information might be obtained.

The upshot is that Steve J. Stich deliberately blocked the action which would have, in all likelyhood, revealed the serious damage which resulted in the loss of craft and crew. Why Mr. Stich has not been publicly called to account, by NASA nor by the media, for his actions is bewildering.

- Carl Donath
13 posted on 07/31/2005 7:52:12 AM PDT by ctdonath2
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My recollection is that there were two major debates over the design of the shuttle: one was whether to use an active cooling system or a passive heat shield for reentry; and the other was whether to use solid fuel boosters or liquid fuel boosters.

I remember being upset that they decided they would use a kind of rocket motor that you could not turn off. Once you light a solid fuel booster, it stays lit until you run out of fuel, or explode -- no chance to abort. The first shuttle that failed, exploded. A liquid fuel system would have been more expensive, but it would have allowed for more opportunities to abort.

I also remember horror at the idea of a passive heat shield, for one, because the technology did not exist. They bet on unknown science to save their budget. The tiles they came up with are so fragile, that, well, the second shuttle that failed, failed because a couple pounds of foam hit the tiles.

As I recall, the shuttle systems was to be launched every two weeks. Thanks to the complexity of the "cheaper" heat shield and boosters, the cost went through the roof on a per flight basis.

The nasa we've had since Apollo ended has been nothing but embarrassing. Shut it down and rebuild with real scientists and engineers, not the present personnel who aren't wanted by private industry. Get rid of the bureaucrats and nincompoops.
14 posted on 07/31/2005 8:00:55 AM PDT by Born to Conserve
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To: ctdonath2

On the day of the accident, Sean O'Keefe repeatedly emphasized that the foam strike could never have caused sufficient damage to Columbia. He continued to repeat that a 1.5lb piece of foam was no danger to the shuttle.

Of course, the truth, known by everyone with a rudimentary physics trainig, became evident with real-world testing.

This single fact is proof of the culpability of everyone from O'Keefe on down who refused to acknowledge a simple physics calculation on a 1.5lb object hitting another at 700mph.

When the force is calculated, it was clear that the fragile tiles on Columbia could, and should have been damaged.

The negligent homocide charge should have been leveled at that time.




15 posted on 07/31/2005 8:07:42 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: Born to Conserve
The nasa we've had since Apollo ended has been nothing but embarrassing.

Absolutely. Sean O'Keefe stated after the "discovery" that it was the foam that caused Columbia's destruction that "there was nothing we could have done" to save the crew.

This is a far cry from "failure is not an option".

16 posted on 07/31/2005 8:10:58 AM PDT by Erik Latranyi (9-11 is your Peace Dividend)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

"As well as I recall, not too well at times, there was a change at NASA after that."

Yeah? Then WTF happened to the current shuttle up there right now? The only change I recall was on the level of new procedure in terms of input on flights. If they had become anything other than the PC idiots that they have been for years the current flight wouldn't have the problem that it does.


"As far as heads rolling I don't remember but with something as tricky as space flight you will never be able to assure that nothing will happen."

Who said anything even remotely like "assure that nothing wil happen"?


"After Challenger we went a long time trying to fix the problem."

You will recall that "the problem" was that no on listened to the engineer who plainly said: 'Don't try to launch at too low a temp because the "O" rings will fail.' So I am "stupid" and a "coward" for thinking that someone should have paid dearly for the deaths of the crew and the loss of the ship?






17 posted on 08/02/2005 2:35:48 PM PDT by TalBlack
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To: Haru Hara Haruko

"Let's see: Operation Bojinka, and another plan to crash a plane into the Pope's motorcade in the Philipines, multiple prior SAM attampts and Arrow Air, which was probably a successful shoot-down or sabotage... Yeah, 9/11 was "unimaginable."


Remember this as well: An FBI agent was running around telling anyone he could about the Muslim radicals learning to fly planes but NOT land them, and of the radicals probable hope of using them to take out a building. He pretty much predicted what came to pass on 9-11. AND NO HEAD ROLLED!


18 posted on 08/02/2005 2:41:51 PM PDT by TalBlack
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To: TalBlack

Would you be happy if a bunch of folks were fired but we still had the same problems? They are obviously trying to solve the problems. How many would you like fired now, whom, and why?


19 posted on 08/02/2005 3:49:13 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: TalBlack
AND NO HEAD ROLLED!

Clearly you have no appreciation for the hard working congresspeople working to get steroids out of baseball. I mean, where are your priorities, man?

20 posted on 08/02/2005 3:50:57 PM PDT by Haru Hara Haruko
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

Start with the entire management team. Hire them back on a case-by-case basis into an entirely new structure. Put the criminally negligent on trial.

Or do you think there was no criminal negligence?


21 posted on 08/02/2005 3:52:33 PM PDT by Haru Hara Haruko
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To: Haru Hara Haruko
Or do you think there was no criminal negligence?

It sounds like there may have been in the case of the O rings but I don't know all the details of any of it because no matter how much has been published we still don't know it all. I doubt any of the people in charge then are still in charge now. Did heads officially roll? I don't know.

They are certainly looking like the Keystone Kops at times but how much negligence is involved is hard to say and I am still not in favor of firing anyone just for appearance sake.

22 posted on 08/02/2005 5:57:52 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

"Would you be happy if a bunch of folks were fired but we still had the same problems? They are obviously trying to solve the problems. How many would you like fired now, whom, and why?"

Can you read? Or is the problem with comprehension?.

Fire the people all along the line, in positions of authority who ingnored the obvious with the result that Challenger was lost; and then Columbia as well.

The whole point is that neither of these were accidents. They were predictable and predicted. This current problem with the ship presently aloft was predicted on this very forum. That is, many FReepers (myself included)were of the opinion that NASA is such a hopelessly PC entity that nothing would change and a future shuttle would be endangered.

PC kills. Let's face it, the present mission is commanded by a woman who did not earn her position by merit but rather by her gender. No man with her backround would be allowed anywhere near command of a shuttle. Hell, back in the day the man who piloted the X-15 (Yeager) wasn't deemed fit to ride rockets in the space program.

Since nothing happens any more to people who fail miserably in ther jobs look for the carnage to continue. And look for the self centered zealots to continue to protect their silly faith (PC).


23 posted on 08/04/2005 2:47:31 PM PDT by TalBlack
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To: TalBlack
Can you read? Or is the problem with comprehension?.

Among my many failings is also a dislike for A*holes.

Were the ones who were in the positions "all down the line" the same with the Challenger and the Columbia and are they still in place? If so, perhaps you have a point. If not, I don't see how emptying the boat will solve any problems. Are there qualified people to replace those you jettison just to prove a point?

If the problem is one of political correctness that is an institutional problem that will not be resolved by moving people around. The same problem exists in the military and I agree that it must be corrected.

As far as the gal who is commanding the present mission I agree with you there, too. Her observation of the environmental problems was a classic example of that.

My objection to your suggestions, well they sounded more like Keyboard Rambo demands than suggestions, is that they cannot be done with the snap of your fingers. Again, you must have replacements better than those you dispose of. Are they available? It is likely those who committed blunders were acting in accordance with the politically mandated politically correct culture.

The decision to launch the challenger knowing what the did about the O rings and low temperatures was a tragic mistake. Is the person who made that decision still in that position? I doubt it.

The decision on this last launch can easily be second guessed but it was made by a lot of engineers working together. Fire them all?

Don't bother replying as I no longer care to deal with you.

24 posted on 08/04/2005 4:38:42 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done needs to be done by the government.)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

"Don't bother replying as I no longer care to deal with you."

It figures. One tires of defending the indefensible by calling others with whom he disagrees "A*hole" "coward" and "stupid".

Ever man enough to say such things to anyone's face? Yeah that's what I thought. Talk about a "keyboard Rambo"--well, you'd know. You call the O-ring failure a "tragic mistake". Let me guess: you work for NASA. You're truly mind-numbed enough to make a perfect worker bee in that corrupt hive.

And don't tell me who to reply to. You're not man enough to do THAT either.


25 posted on 08/05/2005 4:21:41 AM PDT by TalBlack
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