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Shuttle Doomed at Takeoff (Astronauts doomed from the start)
abc news ^ | 4/18/2003 | Lisa Stark and Gina Treadgold

Posted on 04/18/2003 6:01:28 PM PDT by TLBSHOW

Shuttle Doomed at Takeoff

Telltale Heat Spike Was Recorded After Debris Strike

April 18 — Investigators now have the strongest evidence yet that the space shuttle Columbia's left wing was critically punctured during liftoff, when falling debris started the fatal chain of events that led to the breakup of the shuttle when it re-entered Earth's atmosphere, ABCNEWS has learned.

The evidence comes from an old magnetic tape recorder that is part of the Orbiter Experiment Support System, sources said.

It shows an unusual temperature increase in a key sensor just behind the leading edge of the left wing near the spot where foam that fell from the shuttle's external fuel tank is suspected of striking the shuttle, just 81 seconds into the flight.

The temperature spike happens within the next 40 seconds. Usually during this phase of flight, the temperature would be decreasing or holding steady, sources said.

"All the evidence is pointing there," a knowledgeable source told ABCNEWS. "It's kind of like the lady in California. Everybody knows it's her, but they just can't officially say it yet." The data comes from a temperature sensor behind the front spar of the left wing near a shuttle's protective thermal panels known as reinforced carbon carbon panels, or RCC. These panels are supposed to protect the shuttle from the heat of re-entry.

This video image released by NASA shows the likely catastrophic debris strike approximately 81 seconds after liftoff. Pieces of debris are observed ahead of the left wing. (NASA, HO/AP Photo)

Investigators say it was a breach in the left wing near the leading edge that led to the breakup of Columbia on Feb. 1 when it plunged back into the Earth's atmosphere at more than 20,000 mph. All seven astronauts on board perished.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board is still trying to piece together the puzzle of the shuttle disaster — but they have already recommended that NASA do a much better job of inspecting RCC panels for any weaknesses prior to liftoff.

The board is concerned that as the shuttle fleet ages, the RCC panels may be more susceptible to failure — and that Columbia's age may have been a factor in the shuttle accident. Columbia flew its first mission in 1981, making it the oldest shuttle in the fleet.

The board will hear from more experts at another public hearing next week. Members will start to write their report at the end of May and hope to issue it sometime in June.

None of the information from the recorder could have helped save the doomed shuttle. It was not available to ground control at launch, and controllers would not have noticed the spike until the shuttle landed and, weeks later, analyzed the data.

And even if they had known, it is open to debate what could have been done.

"If they suspected the damage, could they have done something? Probably not," a source said. "But you never want to say there was nothing that could have been done, because you never know what 1,000 people all working on one problem might come up with."


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: caib; doomed; nasa; shuttle; sts107; takeoff
flashback;

Posted on 02/02/2003 9:35 PM EST by TLBSHOW

Astronauts doomed from the start

THE seven astronauts on space shuttle Columbia may have been doomed in the first moments after they were shot into space 16 days ago.

NASA officials are investigating whether loose foam from an external tank that struck Columbia's left wing during takeoff contributed to its disintegration under the stress of re-entering the Earth's atmosphere – one of the most dangerous parts of any shuttle mission. The last words between mission control at Houston and shuttle commander Rick Husband gave no clue of impending disaster:

Mission control: "Columbia, Houston, we see your tyre pressure messages and we did not copy your last."

Cdr Husband: "Roger, but . . ." No more was heard.

The homeward-bound space shuttle broke up in flames and trails of smoke and vapour over Texas yesterday, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

Astronauts doomed from the start

1 posted on 04/18/2003 6:01:28 PM PDT by TLBSHOW
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To: TLBSHOW
They would not have been doomed if we had a back up shuttle ready everytime we sent one up. The shuttle was up long enough for a shuttle to have been fueled and launched.

This was suggested years ago after the first disaster...but the acountants nixed the idea.
2 posted on 04/18/2003 6:05:48 PM PDT by dinok
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To: TLBSHOW
Interesting how the furor over this event died so quickly. It barely makes the papers with so much else going on.
3 posted on 04/18/2003 6:07:11 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: dinok
Actually they could have jettisoned the pod had the timing been right.
4 posted on 04/18/2003 6:08:18 PM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: RedBloodedAmerican
Either way...the process is flawed.
No back up...
5 posted on 04/18/2003 6:09:28 PM PDT by dinok
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To: Fred Mertz; fooman; Jael; Lancey Howard; #3Fan; Yasotay; Cool Guy; Willie Green
ping
6 posted on 04/18/2003 6:11:16 PM PDT by TLBSHOW (The gift is to see the truth.....)
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To: dinok
Going into space is dangerous... Thank God these wonderful people were willing to take the risk and challenge the odds. We are all better off for it.

7 posted on 04/18/2003 6:15:47 PM PDT by Stars N Stripes
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To: TLBSHOW
Ultimately the died because of politically correct foam.
8 posted on 04/18/2003 6:17:43 PM PDT by twntaipan (Defend American Liberty: Defeat a demoncRAT!)
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To: twntaipan
That should say: Ultimately they died because of politically correct foam.
9 posted on 04/18/2003 6:18:27 PM PDT by twntaipan (Defend American Liberty: Defeat a demoncRAT!)
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To: RedBloodedAmerican
If they had been paying attention to the data they could
have aborted to Rota, Spain before even getting to orbit.
10 posted on 04/18/2003 6:20:27 PM PDT by konaice
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To: IronJack
nasaproblems.com
April 7, 2003

Space Shuttle Columbia is gone... but has the countdown already started for a third shuttle disaster? There were two reasons for the Columbia disaster: a system failure and a management failure. We may never know the exact cause for the system failure, but the reasons for the management failures are there for all to see. Unless the Office of the President and Congress address the following management failures... then indeed, the countdown has already started for the third shuttle disaster!

NASA Memo: "support a launch opportunity as early as Fall of 2003."

http://www.nasaproblems.com/

11 posted on 04/18/2003 6:22:54 PM PDT by TLBSHOW (The gift is to see the truth.....)
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To: TLBSHOW
Now one piece of the puzzle has been revealed. I still think that the foam was weighed down with ice from it's splattering pattern when it struck the wing.
12 posted on 04/18/2003 6:30:39 PM PDT by #3Fan
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To: TLBSHOW
Astronauts doomed from the start.

Aren't we all?

13 posted on 04/18/2003 6:40:49 PM PDT by Sangamon Kid
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To: RedBloodedAmerican
Jettison what pod? and when? What are you talking about?

Seems there's a provocative design problem with the external tank foam and launching in the winter. Having a hot back up is certainly not a bad idea, nor to always launch with the Space Station as a life boat option.

14 posted on 04/18/2003 7:00:07 PM PDT by bellevuesbest
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To: Tamsey
Ping
15 posted on 04/18/2003 7:00:45 PM PDT by Calpernia (Nancy = Bipolar - "This has been a public service announcement")
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To: TLBSHOW
And, just in the nick of time...
Mojave, California, April 18, 2003:

Scaled Composites today unveiled the existence of a commercial manned space program. This previously hidden, active research program has been in the works at its facility for two years. This program includes an airborne launcher (the White Knight), a space ship (SpaceShipOne), rocket propulsion, avionics, simulator and ground support elements.

Master of Ceremonies Cliff Robertson introduced Burt Rutan who explained the history and the components of the program. Other dignitaries who attended the event were Dr. Maxim Faget (pioneer configuratioin designer of the early NASA space program from the Mercury through the Apollo programs), Erik Lindbergh (grandson of Charles Lindbergh and President of the Lindbergh Foundation), and Dennis Tito (Soyuz space tourist).

Further information about the space program and high-resolution photographs are available at the Scaled Composites website: www.scaled.com.

Photo of spacecraft

These are not models, mockups, or non-flying prototypes. That is a real spaceship sitting on the tarmac there. The mothership White Knight has been flying for almost a year.

American ingenuity triumphs again.

16 posted on 04/18/2003 7:06:12 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic and Monarchist)
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To: konaice
"If they had been paying attention to the data they could
have aborted to Rota, Spain before even getting to orbit."

Can you square your statement with this from the article:
"None of the information from the recorder could have helped save the doomed shuttle. It was not available to ground control at launch, and controllers would not have noticed the spike until the shuttle landed and, weeks later, analyzed the data."

17 posted on 04/18/2003 7:06:22 PM PDT by ironman
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To: TLBSHOW
Guess you were right all along. Somehow I suspect the people who should now be apologizing to you will not.
18 posted on 04/18/2003 7:12:05 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: bellevuesbest
I call it a pod because thats what they are in, but you can bring the orbiter back down 1 Engine BEN, last chance TAL is Morocco on two engines, right before ECO. Sorry if my lingo didn't make sense or was of technical nature. Figured anyone who knew, would know what I was referring to.

No one has ever mentioned the possibility of woodpecker damage to it.
19 posted on 04/18/2003 7:29:42 PM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: ironman
"Can you square your statement with this from the article: "
Proves my point.

They had data, but did not bother to watch it or (apparently) even trasmit it to ground or cockpit.

The data was clearly out of norm.

If even a rudimentary computer analysis was watching this it would have stood out like a sore thumb.

See how wounderfull hind sight is?
20 posted on 04/18/2003 7:33:22 PM PDT by konaice
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To: Stars N Stripes
"Going into space is dangerous..."

Going into space for the sake of being the justification for one of human history's most massive jobs program is.

That is -- going into space with maximized expense is very very dangerous.

Cheaper is safer. Much cheaper -- very safe.

But then we wouldn't have the congresscritter franchised techno-socialist government-enforced massive wealth transfers and cushy lifetime high G level jobs for the pensionaire class.

And less fancy, grand and overindulgent national mourning galas for dead "heros".

21 posted on 04/18/2003 7:42:53 PM PDT by bvw
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To: TLBSHOW
I think the result of this tragedy we'll see the following happen:

1. Lockheed Martin will go back to the older, more durable foam insulation material for the external tank.

2. There will now be very strict procedures on launch commit based on weather conditions.

3. It's likely the protective tiles will be replaced by new ones that use newer-technology materials that are less susceptible to foreign-object damage (FOD). NASA had been studying switching to the newer-material tiles but never got the funding to actually implement it originally.

4. There will be lots of very strict safety procedures added in place to make sure the new tiles are in proper shape and the external tank insulation is also in proper shape before liftoff.

22 posted on 04/18/2003 7:47:34 PM PDT by RayChuang88
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To: RayChuang88
If that happens we will lose the rest of the shuttes, crews and next time not be so lucky for population groundwards.
23 posted on 04/18/2003 7:51:29 PM PDT by bvw
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To: konaice
"If they had been paying attention to the data they could
have aborted to Rota, Spain before even getting to orbit."

Incredibly stupid comment IMHO. The decision to abort would only be made if an obvious catastrophic event was taking place, as an abort is serious sh_t in itself. The fact that it took two days and ultra slow motion cameras to pin point a POSSIBLE cause is proof enough that it was impossible to make that call as it happened.

24 posted on 04/18/2003 7:55:34 PM PDT by BlackBirdII
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To: TLBSHOW
I don't agree that they couldn't have done anything. At the very least, they could have jettisoned the space lab to lighten the shuttle and they could have tried a different approach angle, one that may not have resulted in the shuttle being landable but one that may have gotten the crew low enough to try to bail out. There were other possibilities including trying to get another shuttle up there or trying to do something with a Russian rocket. Any chance is better than no chance. If nothing else, it would have given the crew time to say goodbye to their families and friends. So, no, I don't find "We couldn't have done anything, anyway..." very satisfying.
25 posted on 04/18/2003 8:06:04 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: dinok
Either way...the process is flawed.
No back up...

Precisely.

26 posted on 04/18/2003 8:09:23 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: RayChuang88
3. It's likely the protective tiles will be replaced by new ones

Ahhh ... this was not a failure of the tiles this time ...

27 posted on 04/18/2003 8:15:31 PM PDT by _Jim (w)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: Lancey Howard
No back up...

Precisely.

Welcome to manned prototypes ...

29 posted on 04/18/2003 8:16:45 PM PDT by _Jim (w)
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To: konaice
They had data, but did not bother to watch it or (apparently) even trasmit it to ground or cockpit.

It appears this was data that was considered to be of secondary value - valuable to a select few engineers/analysts after the flight but considered to be non-essential for normal flight.

It sounds like a bunch of sensor data was processed in a very basic form and simply 'laid onto magnetic tape' - there are special 'data recorders' that will take simple voltage data from, say, a 'thermistor' (used as a simple temperature sensor) or strain guage and simply record it for later review ...

30 posted on 04/18/2003 8:23:44 PM PDT by _Jim (w)
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To: Razzz
Still trying to figure out what we gain from space travel

Manned prototypes - man is more adaptable (like fixing the formerly hobbled Hubble telescope) than 'dumb' machines simply fired into space ... otherwise - beats me.

31 posted on 04/18/2003 8:25:50 PM PDT by _Jim (w)
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To: TLBSHOW
Sad ping. You kinda hate to be right about something so horrible.
32 posted on 04/18/2003 8:27:55 PM PDT by Jael (Ye must be born again)
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To: B-Chan
These are not models, mockups, or non-flying prototypes. That is a real spaceship sitting on the tarmac there.

What looks like a common housefly sure looks awfully big in that one corner ...

33 posted on 04/18/2003 8:30:23 PM PDT by _Jim (w)
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Comment #34 Removed by Moderator

To: brityank
Ping...
35 posted on 04/18/2003 8:43:15 PM PDT by tubebender (?)
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To: B-Chan
Is Rutan one of the designers? If John Denver could see this...
36 posted on 04/18/2003 8:51:59 PM PDT by Cloud William
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To: RedBloodedAmerican
OkAY, but they didn't launch with that split second contingency in the plan so it was not a practical option. I'll stand by my previous comment.
37 posted on 04/18/2003 9:47:57 PM PDT by bellevuesbest
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To: RedBloodedAmerican
Geez, I thought you were serious until the woodpecker comment.
38 posted on 04/18/2003 10:00:45 PM PDT by bellevuesbest
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To: Razzz
Still trying to figure out what we gain from owning Louisiana, let alone a transcontinental railroad. If military advantages are gained then let the military run it.

The motivation is the innate human need to explore. The gain is the expansion of the human habitat. The most important by-product is inspiration. The payoff will be when human beings are living permanently in space -- because at that point our species' eggs will no longer all be in one basket.

Our country has faced the Last Frontier before. They called it "Seward's Folly". No one knew that Alaska was sitting on a sea of oil...
39 posted on 04/18/2003 10:39:18 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic and Monarchist)
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: _Jim
"It sounds like a bunch of sensor data was processed in a very basic form and simply 'laid onto magnetic tape' -"

This craft was instrumented with a lot more sensors than the others because these were embedded at build time for performance analysis on the early vehicles.

Most of this extra sensors and the wires to support them were torn out (saveing 7000 bounds (or was it kilos) of vehicle weight.

According to nasa, only those few sensors that were hard to get to were left in place. (This per one of the televised briefings a month ago).

Im speculating thats where these measurements came from.
41 posted on 04/18/2003 11:24:02 PM PDT by konaice
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To: BlackBirdII
"Incredibly stupid comment IMHO. The decision to abort would only be made if an obvious catastrophic event was taking place, as an abort is serious sh_t in itself. "

Serious ?
Financially maybe, but abort to Rota is PLANNED in every mission. Its practiced in the simulator time and time again.

The largest consequence (other than the loss of the mission) is the cost of flying the shuttle back across the Atlantic on the 747.

42 posted on 04/18/2003 11:28:16 PM PDT by konaice
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To: Razzz
There are countless things we've gotten from the space program once a process or experiment or a device was, by the companies they contracted, developed for commercial use. Like mircowave ovens.

Would that stuff have been invented on it's own? Probably. But the innovation was sparked by working on the space program.

And NASA's budget is nothing compared to the vast waste of money on some worthless and proven unworkable gov't programs.

Regardless, we are explorers and we always will be.
43 posted on 04/18/2003 11:39:47 PM PDT by Fledermaus (Iraq - Free At Last!)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: bellevuesbest
They chose not to send up another orbiter after them. They knew they could have and chose not to.

And yes, shuttle launches have been scrapped due to woodpecker damage. They have been rolled back to the assembly building for it from the pad.

"NOTE: Workers at Launch Pad 39-B are preparing the Shuttle Discovery
for rollback to the Vehicle Assembly Building beginning at 3:30 a.m.
Thursday. The decision to go back to the VAB was made in order to
repair damage done by woodpeckers in the foam insulation of the
external tank. It is estimated that about six days will be needed to
repair the woodpecker holes once access is gained to the external
tank in the VAB."
45 posted on 04/19/2003 5:01:17 AM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: twntaipan
they died because of NASA and their problems!
46 posted on 04/19/2003 6:45:58 AM PDT by TLBSHOW (The gift is to see the truth.....)
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To: leadpenny
ping
47 posted on 04/19/2003 7:27:44 AM PDT by TLBSHOW (The gift is to see the truth.....)
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To: konaice
The article implies the data was recorded and was never engineered or intended to be transmistted.
48 posted on 04/19/2003 9:39:29 AM PDT by ironman
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To: TLBSHOW
Thanks for the heads-up. What is your best WAG or SWAG for a date that we may see another shuttle launch? If ever?
49 posted on 04/20/2003 3:39:39 AM PDT by leadpenny (OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM)
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