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NEWS: Discovery Escapes Serious Damage - NASA Admits Launch A Mistake

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posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 06:19 PM
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It appears the space shuttle Discovery has escaped serious damage from the incident during launch where pieces of foam debris separated from the fuel tanks, putting the orbiter at risk of the same damage that destoyed Columbia on re-entry two years ago. NASA has now admitted the launch was a mistake and in hindsight to go ahead with the launch after the Columbia disaster was a serious error of judgement. NASA has now grounded the Space Shuttle fleet in light of this incident.
 



www.abc.net.au
NASA leaders say the space shuttle Discovery appears to have escaped serious damage during lift-off but admit they made the wrong decision to go ahead with the launch.

"We decided it was safe to fly as is. Obviously we were wrong," shuttle program manager Bill Parsons said.

NASA was warned before the Discovery blasted off this week that it had not fully corrected the problems that caused the Columbia disaster.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


The "Return To Flight" group of experts appointed by NASA warned in June that the problems experienced by Columbia were not fixed and that debris could come off again and hit the orbiter.

Although the fleet is grounded NASA still has to deal with getting Discovery back to a safe touchdown and the eyes of the world will be watching the re entry very closely. NASA would be devastated and the space program thrown back many years if the space shuttle does not land without incident.

[edit on 28-7-2005 by Mayet]

[edit on 28-7-2005 by Mayet]




posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 07:47 PM
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I'd imagine that morale at NASA is about to hit an all-time low. At least they are admitting that they made an error. It will be interesting to see if any documents / emails come to light this time around that indicate that managers once again ignored or supressed tech folks who objected to the launch.

I'd also be interested in knowing how the astronauts in orbit feel about hearing that their current mission was a "mistake". Great way to support your people.


jra

posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 07:50 PM
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One thing I wonder about is, why wasn't this foam debris a problem before Columbia? Were all the previous shuttle launches for the last 20 or so years just lucky?



posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 08:06 PM
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I still think the reason they rushed the shuttle back into operation is beacuse the Russians didnt want to give the US Astronauts free flights into space anymore (link)... so the Americans not wanting to pay decided to send the shuttle up.

Not saying Russia was wrong to stop giving the Americans free flights, its an expensive thing to send people to space, and the Russians just decided their cash strapped space program couldnt really afford to ferry the US astronauts.

The shuttles being grounded will have a negative effect on space flight for many years to come. If the US cant sent their people up, and they may not want to pay for the Russian taxi service, the ISS may have to be abandoned untill a new, more viable, means of spaceflight is devised.



posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 10:47 PM
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Originally posted by jra
20 or so years


I think you hit the nail on the head right there...these shuttles are getting ooold. there was a point when shuttle launches were very frequent so they are heavily used and partly fragile on top of that. And like someone quoted in another thread "its like strapping a butterfly to a bullet". They would probably need to shorten a shuttles life to like 5 yrs and build a new one to keep them workable...but it all comes down to money. Do we keep our astronauts safe with new shuttles and more stringent inspection guidelines, or do we just say screw the problems....go for it... which i think they they just did that??



posted on Jul, 28 2005 @ 10:51 PM
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Not to nitpick, but I don't think NASA said the launch was a mistake -- they say they made a mistake in thinking the improvements to the fuel tank were adequate.

Anyway my position is the shuttle should be immediately scrapped and all the money poured into the new CEV vehicle and get it done ASAP.

We can either convert the shuttle system to an unmanned heavy-lift vehicle to complete our obligations to the construction of the ISS or pay the French or Russians to do it.



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 12:25 AM
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I've been following this story for quite some time now, and I can't help but wonder, how much will this missing piece of foam affect Discovery's re-entry into Earth's atmosphere?



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 01:17 AM
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Originally posted by ju stab urden
I've been following this story for quite some time now, and I can't help but wonder, how much will this missing piece of foam affect Discovery's re-entry into Earth's atmosphere?


The missing piece of foam is from the external fuel tank that has already been jettisoned and burned up in the atmosphere, it poses no risk.

The problem is when the foam falls off, it could possibly hit the orbiter and damage its heat insulating tiles that protect the ship on re-entry. This is what caused the Columbia disaster. Luckly the foam appears to not have hit Discovery this time, and the ship appears to be safe to make re-entry.


[edit on 7/29/2005 by djohnsto77]



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 01:25 AM
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Originally posted by djohnsto77
Not to nitpick, but I don't think NASA said the launch was a mistake -- they say they made a mistake in thinking the improvements to the fuel tank were adequate.


DJ I don't think that is a nitpick comment at all. The comment actually made is completely different than the title of this thread and carries a completely different meaning.



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 04:29 AM
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NASA is very thorough and to go through the shuttle problems is no mean feat, almost all the primary systems were designed with 60's technology, which by today’s standard is dismal.
Also the number of back up systems and sub systems in the shuttle are too many to go through all before launch manually so they generally have a computerized systems check which is also not perfect.
They spent 2 years on the shuttle 'Discovery' with the risk of getting their funding removed, so I think they were through to a degree by to be absolutely sure they would need to rebuild it, which I don’t think they could.
Also this is the last flight of the space shuttle, as we know it, so 'discovery' is expendable.
If they have a problem with reentry they will just jettison the shuttle back to earth on autopilot if it is possible and send a rocket with a re-entry capsule to the ISS to get the astronauts back safely.
That’s what I think the NASA would do.
Hey people this is NASA and in space travel their is always risk, its not like taking the bus to school, these people go to space.
Yeah people have died but as they say Sh.. happens.

The main focus is that we should not let incidents like cloud Man's dream of space travel and exploring the great unknowns of space.

In the end they will come through.
IAF



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 05:10 AM
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IAF101 - I share your opinion that in the end space travel will happen. I think though that private enterprise may be what finally opens the gate. The potential reward of capturing & exploiting just one small asteriod is astronomical. That kind of potential gain will ultimately provide the incentive for private enterprise to take some risks that NASA or ESA or other government space agencies will not. Along the way many brave, adventurous souls will perish, but much will be learned that will ultimately reduce the risks to a level acceptable by most people and most govts.



posted on Jul, 29 2005 @ 05:57 AM
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Originally posted by jra
One thing I wonder about is, why wasn't this foam debris a problem before Columbia? Were all the previous shuttle launches for the last 20 or so years just lucky?


The theory I've heard is that they changed the composition of the foam on the External Tank about 8 years ago (Clinton Administration, go figure) to make it more "environmentally friendly" and CFC free. Odds are, if they went back to the old formula and painted the tanks(adding about 1000 weight) the problem would go away.

If true, we are sacrificing the lives of astonauts to be politically correct, as single External tanks have less effect on the environment than my car..

quest.arc.nasa.gov...

"During the STS-87 mission, there was a change made on the external tank. Because of NASA's goal to use environmentally friendly products, a new method of "foaming" the external tank had been used for this mission and the STS-86 mission. It is suspected that large amounts of foam separated from the external tank and impacted the orbiter. This caused significant damage to the protective tiles of the orbiter. Foam cause damage to a ceramic tile?! That seems unlikely, however when that foam is combined with a flight velocity between speeds of MACH two to MACH four, it becomes a projectile with incredible damage potential. The big question? At what phase of the flight did it happen and what changes need to be made to correct this for future missions? I will explain the entire process. "

www.floridatoday.com...

"Debris got people's attention again in the late 1990s, when NASA had to change the way it sprayed the orange foam onto the tank to satisfy environmental laws. The first shuttles that flew with the new flavor of external tank foam came home with the worst damage of the decade. "






[edit on 7/29/2005 by soulforge]



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