T Nation

shuttle lost!

just waking up an saw this on cnn…


As a long-time follower of the Space Program, I have an admission to make that I really feel ashamed about…until this tradgedy, I did not even realize that the Shuttle had gone up…and for that, I truly feel shame…

Like may Americans, from the media to the average “Joe and Jane” in the street, I have become complacent…but we have to remember that these are people whom place their lives on the line each and every time they go up…all in the search for greater knowledge and understanding…and for a love of science and exploration that many have had burning in their hearts for as long as they can remember…

My heart goes out to their friends and loved ones…


I’m a big supporter of NASA, and the space program in general, I’m a sr physics major in college, wanting to work at Kennedy when I’m done with my PhD, but the shuttle is one of the few things I don’t agree with. Columbia was 25 years old if I’m not mistaken. If any of you are driving cars that are 25 years old, do they break down? I’m assuming probably so. Just from the structural characterisitcs of these metals, the structural integrity is going to degrade, now I don’t work inside NASA, and if someone here does and knows I’m wrong, please tell me, but I’d think that after a time of approx 10 years, they should be retired. The only thing I can think of that would prevent this is cost effectiveness, although the human cost of losing 6 of our best young scientists and pilots in america (and one israeli, this might be a serious blow to their aspirations toward space), and that’s a pretty serious loss too. I’d say any of the guys on that shuttle would probably be in the running for TC’s T-man of the year. It’s a shame to see it happen.

brings back bad memories of the challenger… let see, I was only 8 yrs old and I still remember it vividly.

Godspeed Columbia.

The next astronauts to be on a mission will be some of the bravest souls on earth.

I just hope the media won't go completely nuts and not leave the families alone.

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to go up in space. I still believe in NASA’s space program. But I question there thinking. Why, didn’t they try to fix the tile in space? The tiles are suppose to protect them from the exterme heat when re entering the earth’s atmosphere. Know obviously I am just speculating here. But why take a chance on 7 lives? Should have been fixed in space at least we can rule out that reasoning if the problem was corrected a head of time.

My heart and Prayers go out to friends and family’s of the 7 crew memember.

May the Good Lord watch over the astronauts and their families…

We wouldn’t be flying old orbiters if NASA had more money. The program has given us so much in raw knowledge and spin-off products yet it’s barely funded. This is very reminicent of the mission to rescue the Iranian hostages that went so terribly wrong that day in the desert. That accident showed how poorly funded and under trained our military was at the time. I saw some major changes once the repurcussions of that day were fully realized. Hopefully that is the good that will come of this tragedy.

A real science wake-up call. We really shouldn’t be surprised considering how many things that could go wrong every time. Nevertheless, terrible.

Hopefully the loss of Columbia won’t bury NASA’s planned manned missions to Mars (later on in 2010’s) or be used as an excuse to kill even more of its funding.

But honestly it was a tradegy waiting to happen, as the shuttles are almost 30 years old and go through hell on each trip. With NASA’s continual budget crunch and focus on cheaper solutions one can only mourn the loss of life caused over the restriction of a few percetage points on their budget.

According to NASA officials they don’t have the ability to repair tiles in space. EVA maneuvers are confined to the payload bay. The astronauts can’t go under or around the sides of the orbiter. They also didn’t have reason to believe the tile was a problem. As always, hindsight is 20/20. Hopefully NASA keeps flying.

I was curious which university you attend. I did a summer internship at Kennedy (I too am a physics major), and it was a great experience. Columbia is a terrible disaster and just reminds of Challenger and Apollo 1. Hopefully the pursuit of knowledge will not be lost by this setback.

I’m studying at West Virginia University. I wanted to intern at Kennedy this summer, but I decided not to this year, I’m doing undergraduate research in dusty plasmas and plasmoidal conductivity, and hoping to finsih up my thesis this summer, so I won’t even have to worry about it my senior year. I’m going to try working there next year, I’m on a NASA scholarship program for my research. Where do you go to school at? Are you still undergrad or are you in grad school? There are only one or two potential T-men up here in the physics prgram, at least that I’ve seen, it’s normally not a real high T field.

It sucks when brave men and women lose thier lives doing what they love. I wish them well and hope thier sacrafice will not be in vain. Godspeed!

It seemed they did not think the tile would be a problem - though the left wing was damaged during take off, and the left wing was the one that stopped sending data completely.

You would think if they could not have repaired the tile in space they would have launched another shuttle (or something) to bring the crew home.

As someone else said though, hidsight is 20/20.

The most disgusting news I heard was of the Iraqi people celebrating and saying that it was 'God's Judgement' or someother horse shit. If this doesn't redouble the ferocity of our attack (which seem to be inevitable at this point), nothing will.

well, it’s not hta teasy, every tile is unique, and require a special process to adhere them. not going to happen in space, perhaps if the station was done?

Mdog, you sound as if you know quite a bit about the shuttles, what makes the tiles unique? (shuttles aren’t my area of expertise, I do most of my work with plasmas) I agree completely about the space station though, somewhere for the shuttles to dock for repairs and refueling in space is the biggest piece of the puzzle left for us to explore deep into space.

I spent 10 years working at the Johnson Space Center, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents worth. I worked in tracking and communications , but you still pick up a few things.

Every tile is unique. Each one is precisely machined to the shape of the orbiter at its position on the body. Each has a unique serial number. Why couldn’t they design for common tiles? I don’t know for sure, but I will guess that you don’t want any contiguous seam lines anywhere that would provide a weak point during re-entry. You cannot replace them in space, because they require special adhesives and high pressure bonding. It just isn’t done. It’s not even an easy job to do it on earth. I doubt you could even do it at the space station.

Could you patch the tiles? I seriously doubt it. These things stand up to air blasting them 18 times the speed of sound (its pretty thin air, but still…) and 3000 degree F temperatures. A patch just won’t do it.

For those who want to work at Kennedy Space Center, I’ll point out that KSC is primarily a shuttle processing and launch facility; you won’t find much high-temperature plasma research going on there. That would be found at another NASA center.