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SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA - How and why the tragic accident happened.

Old 02-01-2003, 09:12 PM
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I watched most of the Nasa briefing. Honestly, much of it was above my head. What I do know is that they had previously lost pieces of insulation off the center tank. It was a known problem. What happens is that ice builds up on the insulation and then flakes off, sometimes tearing a chunk of the insulation with it. When this happened in the past the damage to the tiles was not significant. In fact it was minimal if any. If I recall correctly, Nasa even said that the insulation alone was not significant enough to damage the tiles. The problem is that they didn't have a solution. It had only happened twice before and they hadn't figure out how to solve it.

As to inspecting the tiles for damage, well they couldn't. There are some areas around the shuttle where they can't view, even when in space. They cited a specific incident where they had some known damage to a door. They tried to take pictures and video of the door in space and it was useless. They simply couldn't see it with enough definition to determine the level of damage. That was the reason they cited for not even trying to look at the potential damage from the ice/insulation. They knew that wouldn't be able to see it. Even then, what would they do? They are unable to repair the shuttle in space. The space station couldn't support the astronauts until March when the next launch was planned. They had to come back and take their chances. Based of past experience with this type of damage it was felt that there wouldn't be very severe damage. Yea, you want to stand back and say "You should have known". But hind sight is 20/20 and they did they best they could with the crystal ball.
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Old 02-01-2003, 09:48 PM
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I listened to the NASA briefing also what they did not say was the tank has been redesigned a couple times (for weight savings)and contains Liquids at Cryogenic Temperature on the Florida coast at maybe 80%+ humidity.

This is the second instance of tank insulation failure; there is Alternate landing areas designated for takeoff emergencies.

Like the Challenger failure originally the boosters were one Piece and to be done in Florida then Morton got involved and the framacated joints and the assembly headaches began.

Personally I am a little disappointed in This NASA Like I said they need to clean house starting with the two that gave the briefing!But maybe even they are victimized by Quotas too nowdays.

They are most definitely not the Old no Bull**** Guys who went to the Moon!
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Old 02-02-2003, 03:44 AM
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A very sad day indeed, but as all pioneers, there is always a chance of something happening. This is Space Travel, it to me is the same as flight itself, if there were no problems with us flying we would have wings. obvouisly we dont, so there is a certain risk to all our endeavors, in any type of flight. unfortantely most of the public feel, that space flight is very routine. and when a accident occurs we all want to point fingers, it is a knee jerk reaction. the engineers and technicians will determine the most probably cause and try and learn from it. we will move on, the key is to never forget the crew thier contributions to mankind and space exploration.

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Old 02-02-2003, 07:17 AM
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Very well said Pete. Nasa is a very tight family and will never forget their brothers and sisters. People think nothing of space travel now. Like going to 7-11 for milk. Space travel is not perfect and this is one of the ones that went very wrong. Now lets not assume we know what happened. (because to assume something you make an "ASS-U-ME") Now space travel WILL have to go on. Their is so much to learn still. I feel sorry for the guys (and family) in the space station and what is running through their minds. Luckly we have the Russions(sp) to help us out. I have a feeling these guys might break a new record for the longest stay in the ISS. We need to fund NASA and make sure the money is NOT WASTED!! But we spend SOOO MUCH money on goofey stuff with grants to some colleges that have more money of their own than most of the 3rd world countries added togeather. Space travel may have the cure for something that will save the life of one of your grandchildren, or your child. Lets not forget that space is full of junk floating around all over (kinda like the Hudson River if you know what I mean) and could have done some damage to the shuttle. I tried to explain to my little girls last night what happened when we went to a Monster Truck show (it was really a fight and a truck race broke out ) and they wanted to know why the flag wasn't at the top of the poll? After trying to explain to a couple of five year olds. My one twin said atleast they didn't have far to go to Heaven. Out of the mouths of a child, it really amazes you sometimes.

God Bless the USA. We are still #1

I hope if we see anyone dancing in the street of the world over this we get pictures and personally take out these scumbags!!!
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Old 02-03-2003, 07:23 AM
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The reports of toxic and dangerous chemicals on the debris was not given to just stop people from taking souvenirs. Some of this tuff is highly caustic and deadly in small quantities. Just ask any Air Force mechanic about the use of hydrazine fuel in the F-16 and various other aircraft.

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Four compounds used on the space shuttle Columbia could pose an immediate hazard to people on the ground, a NASA spokeswoman said Sunday.

The deadliest chemical of the four would not provide any warning to someone who touched it, according to toxicology databases.

The compounds are: two forms of hydrazine, nitrogen tetroxide and a pure form of ammonia.

Raw hydrazine fueled the shuttle's auxiliary power units, which generated hydraulic pressure for various functions in the shuttle.

Another form of the chemical, monomethyl hydrazine, fueled the shuttle's maneuvering systems while it was in space, said Randy Azera, a former NASA engineer and consultant to CNN.

Both forms of hydrazine are clear, flammable liquids. They can irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory system and cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, convulsions and permanent damage to internal organs. They are considered "immediately dangerous to life" at a concentration of 50 parts per million.

They are not considered to have warning signs of contact but can be detected in the blood of an exposed person.

Anyone who suspects contact with the chemicals is urged to seek medical help. Flushing with water for at least 15 minutes is recommended after suspected contact.

Nitrogen tetroxide and monomethyl hydrazine are "hypergolic" propellants, meaning they ignite spontaneously when they come in contact with each other, a useful property for maneuvering systems.

Nitrogen tetroxide is a reddish-brown gas at room temperature and has a "pungent, sweetish" smell, according to experts.

It can injure the eyes and skin on contact, and, if inhaled, can damage the lungs.

A single exposure can prove fatal, but only high concentrations produce immediate symptoms.

Warning signs of contact might not appear for hours after exposure, and extreme symptoms might not show up for days, so a victim might be unaware he or she has been exposed until it is too late for treatment.

People who suspect contact with the chemical are urged to flush their body and clothes with large amounts of water, and, if necessary, remove their clothing and bathe with soap and water at least 15 minutes. Eyes should be held open and flushed with water for at least as long. People who suspect contact should be taken to a hospital or doctor as soon as possible.

Pure ammonia is a clear liquid at normal temperatures with a pungent smell. It was used as a coolant to remove heat from the electrical systems on the orbiter engines. It can blister a person's lungs if it is inhaled and can cause death in high concentrations.
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Old 02-03-2003, 09:15 AM
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A couple questions that have come up in our discussion around home. First the shuttle has landed with tiles missing before, why the assumption these tiles caused the crash. Second .. I believe at 200,000 ft the “wings” would have little to do with the shuttle. Is it not flying or falling like a rock at that point?
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