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Shuttle Fleet Grounded


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36 replies to this topic

#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Ashley Seymour

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Posted July 28 2005 - 04:51 AM

More insulation is falling off the shuttle on launch.

"Benjamin, I have just one word for you - Chickenwire."
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#2 of 37 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted July 28 2005 - 05:12 AM

Hasn't NASA ever heard of duct tape?

#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted July 28 2005 - 06:16 AM

Has the fleet ever been grounded when a shuttle was in space?

I predict lots of coverage for the reentry & landing.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Bob McLaughlin

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Posted July 28 2005 - 06:54 AM

It's amazing that they've spent all this time and money researching this problem--and it didn't change anything. I realize that this was the only test that really mattered--the real thing, but still, it makes you wonder what they did all that time. Supposedly chunks of insulation have been coming off since the very first launches, it's nothing new, but sheesh.
"I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!" - Barton Fink

#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 28 2005 - 07:37 AM

Bob, the problem is not exactly simple. And, therefore, NASA now realizes there is more work to be done.

Chris, this is the first time the fleet has been grounded while an orbiter is still in space. It makes, overall, the fourth grounding of the orbiters (after the Challenger tragedy in 1986; after wiring issues surfaced in -- when was it? -- I think about four or so years ago; after the Columbia tragedy initially; and now, after the disturbing images were reviewed yesterday).

NASA's new (and quite exciting) administrator, Mike Griffin, is no fan of this system (nor of the International Space Station). He would like to limit the Space Shuttle to no more than 15 more flights (and preferably fewer) to fulfill our obligations to the international consortium behind the International Space Station. Instead, Griffin wants to proceed at full speed to develop the next-generation vehicle, the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

#6 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Harris

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:01 AM

Quote:
I predict lots of coverage for the reentry & landing.


Considering that Columbia was lost on re-entry, lots of coverate was a given.

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:18 AM

These old clunkers are over thirty years old. Maybe they outa' think about trading them in on a newer model.

Mort

#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:54 AM

Mort, as already mentioned, the Crew Exploration Vehicle is the next-generation U.S. manned spacecraft, which, currently, is now a design competition between the two leading aerospace contractors and NASA. Their designs are to be presented to NASA in September.

And the Space Transportation System -- i.e., the Space Shuttle -- first flew on April 12, 1981, which makes the machine active for a total of 24 years (though the design itself does go back to more than 30 years).

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Ashley Seymour

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Posted July 28 2005 - 09:30 AM

Quote:
And the Space Transportation System -- i.e., the Space Shuttle -- first flew on April 12, 1981, which makes the machine active for a total of 24 years (though the design itself does go back to more than 30 years).

The B-52 has been around for 50 years and is still working fine. Maybe they could strap a couple of booster along the side and ...
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#10 of 37 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted July 28 2005 - 09:56 AM

Just being a little facetious Jack. I pulled out the 30 year figure as I thought I recalled them being built in the Carter era....guess they didn't fly until later. It's my understanding that they were never intended to be used for anywhere near this length of time (nor were the B52's Posted Image )

Mort (who wouldn't want to be stationed on the space station and dependent on these things for nuttin')

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted July 28 2005 - 10:15 AM

> It's amazing that they've spent all this time and money researching this problem--and it didn't change anything.

Isn't part of the issue the fact that this launch had more (or better) cameras before, so NASA was better able to see the extent of the problem? I'm not sure how they could have gathered that data without doing the launch.

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris_Morris

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Posted July 28 2005 - 11:15 AM

I heard on the radio yesterday that the foam problems started in earnest when they tried to go with a more "enviormentally friendly" material. Not sure how true that is though.

#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Lee ps

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Posted July 28 2005 - 03:29 PM

This could be seen as a blessing in disguise. I had hoped that the Shuttle would have another failure, but not so catastrophic that lives were lost.

And it all happened on the first launch!

NASA has demonstrated that the shuttles in general and the foam in particular are time consuming money pits. They have lost two crews and 40% of the fleet. The current design should be retired sooner, not later.

As for the completion of the ISS, well, that's how it goes. NASA could configure a parts only launch using the present system and find another means of sending humans up to do the assembly. They could return to Earth in something as simple as a capsule (not a bad idea for the CEV).

Better yet, remove the orbiter completely and you have a near heavy lift vehicle. That would take some time for reconfiguring and testing, pity the ISS, but you have to know that people are thinking along those lines.

Griffin favors going with what you've got and would use shuttle derived parts for heavy lift. Those parts, the solid fuel boosters (safest boosters in the world) and liquid fuel engines and the tank (damn that foam) are very expensive, but do not have to be completely redesigned. If you only need heavy lift a couple of times a year, why reinvent the Saturn V?

Although the issue is probably moot, Griffin did consider another servicing of the Hubble, which disappointed me. We already have the parts for Hubble II in storage.

#14 of 37 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted July 28 2005 - 04:41 PM

Quote:
The B-52 has been around for 50 years and is still working fine. Maybe they could strap a couple of booster along the side and ...

The B-52 doesn't have to withstand anything like the heat stress that the Shuttle does on re-entry. Even spy planes don't have do what the Shuttle has to do for the astronauts to survive.

#15 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Were

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Posted July 28 2005 - 06:54 PM

Thomas brings up a good point about astronaut survival. Shouldn't we focus on missions that the primary objective is to "do science" not to make astronauts survive? Space is a cold deadly place do we really need to:

Jan. 22, 2003: Day 6

Astronauts collect essential oils from blooming flowers in an experiment sponsored by the fragrance industry.

Jan. 23, 2003: Day 7

Hoping to create a new space scent, astronauts extract and preserve essential oils from blooming flowers in the fragrance industry experiment.

(details on Columbia's last mission according to our good, politically unmotivated friends at http://www.foxnews.c...3,77281,00.html)



Not trying to threadjack, but I think that the main question here is, why are we sending humans into space? I am excited about space exploration, but shouldn't it be about exploration and collecting data not keeping humans alive or creating a "new space scent?"

Good luck NASA, I hope the crew get back ok.


Michael

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted July 29 2005 - 02:48 AM

With all of this news, I start believing more and more that we never landed on the moon. Posted Image I mean, if we can't even send a shuttle into space properly (in this day and age), how the hell did we make it to the moon and back over 30 years ago??????

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   ChristopherDAC

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Posted July 29 2005 - 03:45 AM

As for why send men into space, I can but quote Constantine Tsiolkovskii: "The Earth is the cradle of the human race, but one does not remain in the cradle forever". There's a whole Universe out there, innumerable cubic light years full of matter and energy we can use and perhaps worlds we can inhabit -- with a little tweaking at least.
As for the STS itself, the current half-disposable design is a legacy of Richard Nixon not wanting to spend as much on the the thing as he spent on the secret bombings of Cambodia [which cost more than the Apollo Project, and benefitted nobody but Pol Pot]. Plans for a fully-reusable system exist, in fact have existed since at least 1965 [the Air Force was well on its way to building a small one, known as the Dyna-Soar, to service their space station when the decision was made that the American space programme would be a strictly civilian effort]. The last I heard, a replacement for the "wrap insulation around an aeroplane" design of the Rockwell orbiter had been validated, involving quite simply making the whole underside of the ship from a single piece of metal, titanium I believe. A few simple calculations will show that, even if it isn't any cheaper per pound orbited than the STS [$10 000 per pound is a common figure, which is in the same league with platinum -- of which industry uses huge quantities every year], an orbiter with a faster turnaround time will greatly improve access to space, with attendant high economic value generated. It needn't even have a cargo capacity in the same realm as the STS, as long as the turnaround is fast enough and the fleet is large enough to allow on-orbit component assembly.

Anyway, Big Dumb Boosters aren't the answer. Can you imagine how expensive air freight would be if FedEx had to throw away a drone 747 for every package you mail? Posted Image


#18 of 37 OFFLINE   Bob McLaughlin

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Posted July 29 2005 - 03:48 AM

Jack, do you have any links to competing preliminary designs for the proposed C.E.V.? Or will they be kept secret until it's unveiled?
"I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!" - Barton Fink

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Jordan_E

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Posted July 29 2005 - 03:53 AM

Quote:
With all of this news, I start believing more and more that we never landed on the moon. I mean, if we can't even send a shuttle into space properly (in this day and age), how the hell did we make it to the moon and back over 30 years ago??????


No kidding! The fact that I keep hearing that money is an issue saddens me about our so-called space program. Sadly, the grand vision of Kubrick's 2001 will remain fantasy for decades to come...Posted Image
And you believe, at heart, everyone's a killer...

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 29 2005 - 03:54 AM

Mark, it was a different time then and NASA had concrete goals in place and a magnificent administrator (Jim Webb) who knew how to work the Hill (and who had solid support from Lyndon Johnson).

The Space Shuttle was born in an era when NASA was suddenly without goals or clear intent; Nixon, only at the last moment and upon persuasion from Caspar Weinberger, decided to keep only one component of the the post-Apollo goals alive: a reusable space shuttle. No space station. No manned deep-space vehicles. Just a vehicle to go up and down in. And even then, the resulting design was a victim of budgetary constraints and redesigns to satisfy the U.S. Air Force's requirements on classified payloads.

And, thus, after the ninth and final flight of Challenger on STS-51L, the Air Force pulled out of the program. Also, no upper-stages were ever to be installed into the orbiter's payload bay any longer.

It was at this point that Reagan's 1984 proposal of "Space Station Freedom" began eating billions of dollars out of NASA's budget without anything to show for it.

And so it went.

Things, however, are changing. More focus developed throughout the 1990s, what with the Mir flights and the initial components of the International Space Station coming online.

But even here, there was no overriding goal beyond completion of the space station. Work had begun on potential replacement vehicles for the current orbiter, the most exciting of them having been the VentureStar program. Yet NASA did not have the money to develop them.

So, we arrived at the reentry of Columbia in 2003 and its destruction. A blessing in disguise, alas. For it was at this point that NASA's entire mission was rethought. And, as a result, the new goals are being put in place.

As for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, Lockheed's initial design proposal calls for a lifting body-based main vehicle. Boeing, on the other hand, appears to prefer a capsule-based design.

We will know more later this year.

Whatever the fate of the current Space Shuttle, better days -- far, far better days -- are ahead.


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