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Flight Computers Fought Drag on Shuttle

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Sierra Mike, Feb 2, 2003.

  1. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Read all about it here.

    It's monumentally presumptuous of me to speculate, but I really do thing that left wing strike on lift off was a lot more than it was accepted to be. I saw the plasma plume it left when it entered the rocket stream, and it was like 20 feet long. There was some substantial mass there.

  2. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    Not an space expert but that hit on the left wing has to be proven not it as this point.
  3. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    I wonder what the actual NASA assessment was. If they believed the damage had harmed the shuttle to the point of no return well thats kind of that. No return. Perhaps we turned our radios off.
  4. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    I'm no space expert either, obviously; I didn't regularly fly high enough to even be in "airspace."

    But the sequence of events is certainly damning; circumstantial, but damning. We have the strike on the port structure, which gave the folks at Kennedy maybe six minutes to figure out what to do before the shuttle entered orbit; I imagine that before they can initiate a breakaway, the solid boosters have to be exhausted, unless they can be jettisoned while still under powered flight. Then somehow, that fatass shuttle with that half-full primary fuel tank has to survive the breakaway, then reorient and blow the main tank. Then it has to reorient even further and enter some S-curves to bleed off energy before going wheels down.

    Couple this incident with the emerging data of a catastrophic failure on the port side of the vehicle, and I see some really neat opportunities for scapegoating.

    I know they have a procedure for breakaway and emergency recovery, but it's never been actuated before. I have no idea if they have boldface recovery procedures, but I can guarantee you I'd be pushing to look at them if I was in the chain of command. I'd rather go out regarded as the pussy who scrubbed the mission as opposed to the contrite manly man who has to deal with seven dead astronauts.

    I guess this is one of those learning curve things coupled with administrative inertia that prevented the right thing from being done. I'd really like to know if anyone on the deck championed the breakaway procedure when they saw that piece of insulation hit the vehicle.

  5. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I wonder if there is a specialist assigned to watch the tv looking for anomalies instead of meters and gauges.
  6. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    Thats what I was thinking. I dont think the evidence of anything happening on takeoff is reviewed real time. It took a lot of analysts to even decide that anything had happened.
  7. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    I found this interesting bit of discussion:

    "I suspect that the actual plan was that if they had a SRB or tank
    problem up to about 2/3 of the way to max Q they'd use the
    emergency tank release command and plan on ditching. Just let
    the whole ET/SRB stack fly out from under you..."

    Full info (includes other topics) here:

  8. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Some more events in this particular regard:

    Read all about it at NASA Memo Figured Wing Damage

    Curiously, I just watched the NASA conference with Readdy, and he said he knew nothing about the memo. I guess NASA's beauracracy makes the Army's look lean and mean.

  9. muddly

    muddly Guest

    Given a possible impact by the foam on the same part of the shuttle where there was later drag and multiple sensors not reading normally (is that basically right?) before the destruction, it's pretty hard to NOT suspect they're related.

    But as they investigate more of the variables, you never know how the picture might change.

    Right after it happened, a lot of people seemed sure it was terrorism just on the basis of it being an American shuttle with an Israeli on board. So I'll wait and be sure about whatever NASA becomes sure about. ;)
  10. Jedi Writer

    Jedi Writer Guest

    Instead of just foam, ice? Or "frozen foam? Both would be a lot heavier and harder than just normal insulation foam.
  11. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Even if he had gotten the memo 2 days before, what could have been done?

    From what I have learned, the shuttle did not have enough fuel to make it to the Int'l Space Station. They had no capabilities to repair the tiles on board - even if they had spare tiles on board, they couldn't make the repair because the underside of the shuttle has no where to hold onto, and anyone trying to make the repair would just drift around.

    The mission should have been aborted at take-off, where survival was much higher. But 2 days before landing? I don't know much, but I don't think they could have done anything to fix it and get home.
  12. kasia

    kasia Registered User

    The space station is on a different orbit than the shuttle was.. it wasn't a simple trip to make it there.. Even knowing damage has been done, I do believe their best option was to hope for a landing.

    The tiles do get damaged on re-entry every single time the shuttle lands, so it's probably not a bad assumption to hope the damage done by the piece of foam would not be significant enough to prohibit a safe landing.

    Of course, this is all based on assumptions -- not facts.

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