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Making The Present Shuttle Safer!

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posted on May, 4 2005 @ 08:44 AM
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I have said several times in many threads that i do not agree with NASA's continued use of the ageing shuttle.

But last night i came up with a new safety feauture that could be installed on the remaining three shuttles to make them safe enough to carry on until a replacement is brought into service.

Most problems with the current shuttle design are down to the extremley fragile tiles used to deflect the heat of re-entry back into space. And as was proved in the Columbia disaster, only a few of these tiles being damaged in certain places can spell disaster.

What if NASA installed an aluminium sheet across the whole underside of the shuttle?
During launch if any insulation fell from the SRB's, the aluminium would be there to protect the tiles until the shuttle was in orbit.
Once in orbit the aluminium sheet could either be jetisoned away from the shuttle, or simply left to burn up on re-entry leaving the tiles undamaged and ready to protect the shuttle from the fierce heat!


Just a though but im sure the (so called) bofins at NASA have already contemplated this idea!






posted on May, 4 2005 @ 01:16 PM
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How hot does the shuttle get while going up? I ask this as an unrelated question, I know that aluminum has a melting point of 1200 degrees F, and i'm sure it wouldn't get that hot though.

However this would add a lot of extra weight, and if its going to protect the tiles on the shuttles underside and the wings then it would need to be attached somewhere...So there would have to be major modifications done to the shuttle it order for you "shield" to work. The shuttle could also get hit in space by micro metiorites...so what then, and if your planning on leaving the shield on the whole time in space then it having all that extra weight will reduce the time it stays in space.

I dont like your idea at all. I like Nasa's approach, with more cameras and sensors, redesigning the tank, catch the bolts, an extended Canadarm for use in space to look at the underside of the shuttle.

I agree that the Shuttle is old, but its important, and we need it. The CEV is currently scheduled to enter service in 2014, and the Shuttle will end 2010, If I was Griffen (Nasa's top dog) I would get the CEV operational by 2013, and extend the shuttles life to 2011 or 2012, that way there is enough time for all the ISS payload missions, as well as the Hubble fix...which BTW seems to be what will happen (the average public person knows very little about space and telescopes, and thats the real reason Nasa will send people there to fix er up, they see it as a one of a kind marvel...ahh but now i'm just rambling on about how I think we should just let it burn to its grave, so nevermind that last bit.

[edit on 4-5-2005 by Murcielago]



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 04:10 PM
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The BEST way to make sure the shuttle is safe.... Is to park it in a museum. The Shuttle was designed in the 50's for Pete's sake. It is a dog of a space tug and we should have replaced it ages ago. It cant attain a decent high altitude orbit and many satellites have to be boosted into a higher orbit once released from the shuttle. It has a huge turn around time and requires an enormous ground crew. I am all for space exploration but this is like using an old VW beetle to deliver international parcels. ( like if Fed Ex merged with UPS... it would be Fed Up) Lets move ahead to a better more useful design that isn't so wasteful of resources and has more capabilities. The Newer designs are quite good and not to difficult to build ... so ... lets just do it!



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 04:42 PM
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It's a nice idea, and I've often wondered why they didn't go with some type of ablative shield that could be replaced or resprayed on after each trip back through the atmosphere. NASA had problems from the very beginning just getting the things to stick. This caused a full years delay on the very first shuttle launch. Live and learn, I guess. This link will provide a ton of info on the "belly of the beast".www.centennialofflight.gov...



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 04:44 PM
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posted on May, 4 2005 @ 04:54 PM
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However this would add a lot of extra weight, and if its going to protect the tiles on the shuttles underside and the wings then it would need to be attached somewhere...So there would have to be major modifications done to the shuttle it order for you "shield" to work.



And you dont think that this work would be worth it!

Maybe after another seven brave people have died then???

Cameras on the underside are all very well but say another larger piece of foam from the SRB falls and takes of 50 tiles, what then???
They wont have another shuttle ready in time and they wont have the equipment on board to fix it!

These mods may take time, but if the shuttle is to be in service till at least 2010 maybe even 2012, then i think they are worth it!



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 06:30 PM
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The main problem with your idea is the oblative material you are recommending. Aluminum has far too low a melting point to do any good. You have to have a substance that has a very high ignition and/or melting point so that a large amount of energy is absorbed by that material before it dissipates that energy via its own destruction.

For instance, in the early space days, oak planks were used as oblative shield material because oak has such a high point of ignition. By the time the oak had burned away a great deal of energy had been dissipated.

And, of course, you get into heavier materials then and you have to look at the ROI on the whole thing. But in addition to that you have only moved the same problem to another point. There will be a leading edge seam to this additional layer, and that seam will then become the next weak point - giving an avenue for super-heated, high velocity airflow to make its way to the tiles below this surface, and the substructure below it.

We just aren't where we need to be yet. When you accept that fact, you accept that we are as far as we can be for the time. Perfect - no. But as some one else said, this technology has been around for over 50 years now and no one has come up with better. Until that next step-wise improvement in technology occurs, we live with what we've got...

or we do nothing. Restated: The benefits of continuing are worth the risk.

[edit on 5-4-2005 by Valhall]



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 07:17 PM
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There will always be risks involved, the astronauts know this, its there lives there risking, its up to them.

The shuttle will finally launch in July, it doesn't need anymore delays. When it launches it will be safer then its ever being, it only has a half a decade left of life, it doesn't need some huge expensive overhaul, Everything Nasa wishes the Shuttle was, the CEV will be.



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 07:38 PM
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According to this article, they may try some tile repair techniques.

Shuttle commander confident in mission’s safety



Only part of one of the spacewalks and some time inside Discovery will be spent testing the repair techniques NASA hopes will fix any holes that might develop in the shuttle's thermal protection system, which protects the shuttle during re-entry.

Among the most promising repair techniques are three for tiles and one for the reinforced carbon carbon (RCC) that protects the most critical parts of the shuttle from extreme heat during re-entry.

A gray reflective liquid will be tested in two areas, as a replacement coating if any tiles lose their heat-reflecting black coating, and as a primer for the shuttle tile ablator, which is basically goo that fills gaps between tiles.

A third tile-repair technique -- fastening what looks like sheets of metal over missing tiles -- will not be tested because it would release potentially hazardous particles from tiles into the air inside the shuttle.
NASA is still working on a way to patch a hole the size of the one that caused Columbia's demise.



posted on May, 4 2005 @ 08:41 PM
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Originally posted by Terapin
The BEST way to make sure the shuttle is safe.... Is to park it in a museum. The Shuttle was designed in the 50's for Pete's sake. It is a dog of a space tug and we should have replaced it ages ago. It cant attain a decent high altitude orbit and many satellites have to be boosted into a higher orbit once released from the shuttle. It has a huge turn around time and requires an enormous ground crew. I am all for space exploration but this is like using an old VW beetle to deliver international parcels. ( like if Fed Ex merged with UPS... it would be Fed Up) Lets move ahead to a better more useful design that isn't so wasteful of resources and has more capabilities. The Newer designs are quite good and not to difficult to build ... so ... lets just do it!


Your first sentence is just dumb, and the Shuttle was designed in the 70's not the 50's.
The shuttle's job is to build the ISS, not put satellites in orbit, it has only done that a few times.
The Shuttle was designed to be less wastefull, they re-use the Shuttle, the 2 SRB splash down it the ocean, but the tank burns up.
What newer designs are you refering to?



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 06:59 AM
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The main problem with your idea is the oblative material you are recommending. Aluminum has far too low a melting point to do any good. You have to have a substance that has a very high ignition and/or melting point so that a large amount of energy is absorbed by that material before it dissipates that energy via its own destruction.



I dont think you get my point.

The aluminium sheild would ONLY be there to stop damage to the tiles during lift off. Even if it was jettisoned away after the SRB's were gone it would have done its job and stopped the same foam insulation that destroyed Columbia from destroying one of the remaining three shuttles!



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 12:09 PM
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The shuttle was designed to be reuseable, but serious compromises were made in the initial design. Originally the shuttle was going to be a two stage totally reuseable design, with both stages being piloted. Congress decided that the development of this design would be too expensive. They voted instead for a concept that was cheap to design, but hugely expensive to run.

The reason for the tiles is the high re-entry heat. This is due to a USAF design criterion, that of high cross-range capability. This entails a high wing loading causing great heat.



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 04:56 PM
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This is due to a USAF design criterion, that of high cross-range capability. This entails a high wing loading causing great heat.


IMO the USAF had far too much to say in the design of the shuttle.
The original orbiter was placed higher up the SRB and in a better place to be protected from falling foam insulation. BUT NO.... the USAF had to have it their way!!!



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 05:05 PM
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Actually, much of the design/engineering work that the shuttle resulted from was done in the 50's. The Space shuttle program officialy started in the late 60's and the final design was built in the 70's. It used old design ideas and it is obvious when you look at the flying school bus that the shuttle it. See the X-20 Dyna-Soar designed in 1957 for a look at early shuttle designs that are quite close to the modern shuttle. You should also look at Maxime Faget's design work on the DC3 an early shuttle design which was very influential. He designed the Mercury capsule as well and his 50's ideas stayed in the final shuttle design. The more you look into it the more you will realize how old the design/technology was.

Oh, and in regards to your comment that the shuttle was intended for building the space station.....The shuttles origional mission design was to provide satelite launch capabilities primarily for the Air Force and not for building the Space Station which is a much more recent project. The shuttles have placed several satelites into orbit and retrieved and repaired a few long before it placed any ISS components in orbit. Check your facts and dates.

Years back, after the shuttle program had begun, NASA had some people take a look at future designs for a reusable space vehicle. A SSTO or single stage to orbit. Both Boeing (Actualy it was North American Rockwell that submitted the design I believe, but they are now part of Boeing,) and Lockheed Martin proposed some great plans along with a few others designers and manufacturers. Ever hear of the Delta clipper? The design originally used off the shelf components. Had a significantly smaller ground crew and a two week turn around time unlike the months that the shuttle needs to get ready. It was also far cheaper to launch and had a greater capacity. Take a look at what Rutan designed before he won the X-Prize with his Space Ship one. There has been a lot of work done on designing better space vehicles and the shuttle is clearly old tech. NASA is a huge bureaucracy and that leads to glacially slow upgrades and design by a committee of managers instead of design by engineers is always a bad idea. The Shuttle was far from cutting edge when it first launched and today is an ancient bucket of bolts. Park it in a museum with some mothballs and build a better system than that old tug.

[edit on 5-5-2005 by Terapin]



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 05:13 PM
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I think it is rediculas to keep using the shuttle. My country should just swallow its pride and buys some russian Soyuz to use till we build our CEV to relace it.

Russia has the safest spacecraft ATM. Shuttle is uneeded and no reason to risk anymore lives on it.


apc

posted on May, 5 2005 @ 05:49 PM
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Russia has the safest spacecraft ATM.

Hahah on average yes, now that they finally let MIR burn up

Im just playin I



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 06:01 PM
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I think it is rediculas to keep using the shuttle. My country should just swallow its pride and buys some russian Soyuz to use till we build our CEV to relace it.



The ESA's Ariane 5 was 'originally' designed to carry a command module so why not use that rather than the Russian variant?



posted on May, 5 2005 @ 08:35 PM
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Originally posted by Terapin
Actually, much of the design/engineering work that the shuttle resulted from was done in the 50's. The Space shuttle program officialy started in the late 60's and the final design was built in the 70's.

Show me some credable links that prove the shuttle was designed in the 50's. To the average Joe, the F-15 may look a lot like the F-22, but with a closer look you see just because the have the same basic design, doesn't make them the same.




Oh, and in regards to your comment that the shuttle was intended for building the space station.....The shuttles origional mission design was to provide satelite launch capabilities primarily for the Air Force and not for building the Space Station which is a much more recent project.

I was talking about what the Shuttles job is, not what was its original intent.



Ever hear of the Delta clipper?

yes, I know I little about it, but never really liked it.
As for SSTO: I preferred the X-33.


apc

posted on May, 5 2005 @ 08:42 PM
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Not to cut anyone off but I think this will do Murcielago...
www.hq.nasa.gov...

And even the present day 'job' of the Shuttle is not solely to serve the ISS.. dont forget about the antfarms and space-radishes!



posted on May, 6 2005 @ 03:48 PM
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Originally posted by Murcielago

Your first sentence is just dumb, and the Shuttle was designed in the 70's not the 50's. The shuttle's job is to build the ISS, not put satellites in orbit, it has only done that a few times.


aerospacescholars.jsc.nasa.gov...
www.hq.nasa.gov...
www.answers.com...
Here are three simple links that demonstrate that the shuttle was based on 1950's design work. The history of the shuttle design is well documented and no one at NASA disputes that the shuttle as we now know it comes from a design concept developed in the 50's. Earlier, I pointed you to the work of Maxime Faget and if you look there you will find even more information about his specific work in the shuttle design in the late 50's. There is plenty of information out there if you choose to look for it. Heck, even Von Braun promoted the design we now have in a Disney made film in the 50's.


If you check your facts you will see that the shuttle has delivered more satellite payloads than it has components to the International Space Station. There were also some "black" missions delivering payloads for the Air Force which were intelligence and communication satellites. Yes, it has an important role to play in servicing the ISS but it continues to play a major role in the satellite industry. Remember, the Hubble Space Telescope is a satellite as well. The Canadian made robot arm was developed initially to assist in satellite servicing. The shuttle still has future satellite missions on its agenda.




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