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NASA to Release Shuttle Columbia Accident Report

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posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 01:16 AM

NASA to Release Shuttle Columbia Accident Report
VOA News
26 Aug 2003, 01:33 UTC

The board investigating the space shuttle Columbia disaster releases its findings on the cause of the deadly accident later Tuesday.

The 250-page report from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board will be made public in Washington. Its release comes nearly seven months after the shuttle disintegrated on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. All seven astronauts on board died in Columbia's fiery breakup over the U.S. state of Texas.

The accident report is expected to detail how the shuttle was destroyed and analyze management and engineering decisions at NASA which led to the February first accident.

The 13-member board has already concluded that a chunk of foam cracked Columbia's left wing during liftoff in January as it began a 16-day mission into space. Engineers believe that hot gases entered the hole in Columbia's wing during re-entry, causing its fiery breakup.

Investigators have already issued five proposals for safer shuttle missions. They include getting better pictures of shuttles during launch and flight, developing a system for astronauts to inspect and repair the shuttle while it is in orbit, and improving wing inspections between missions.

NASA has set March as a possible time for resuming the space shuttle flights, but officials stress there is no firm deadline.

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 01:22 AM
One wonders how space exploration would have gone had we taken the NERVA approach instead of the winged orbiter/station.. then mars approach outlined by Von Braun in the early 50s...?

Most people don't realize it, but there WAS an option for NASA to pursue a nuclear space option way back when...

[Edited on 26-8-2003 by onlyinmydreams]

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 01:24 AM
Personally, i find this explanation a bit hard to swallow. I think something else definantly happened here.

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 01:31 AM
Just to clarify, before we get into the details of the accident, this site details the 'alternative' option NASA had...

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 06:32 AM
I'm looking forward to reading this report and the details of the changes they are suggesting.

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 06:49 PM
Hmmmm... Why does the phrase "White Wash" and "Warren Commission" come to mind????

posted on Aug, 26 2003 @ 08:29 PM
[quote DR]Why does the phrase "White Wash" and "Warren Commission" come to mind????[/Quote DR]

It DOESN'T why does it with you? I am sorry my man but I NEED a WHOLE lot MORE than this.

I paid attention to this whole deal because of Val's former employment with and current association with N.A.S.A....

I have to say that this was the FIRST "NASA Investigation" that I really beleived we were getting the whole truth AS THEY DISCOVERED IT.

UNlike the Challenger load... This one was UP FRONT. To the point they even said "We are no better now than we were in the Challenger days"...

Where's the beef bro?


posted on Aug, 27 2003 @ 12:30 PM
I just wanted to input what little I can so far on this (prolly be worth about a cent and a half I'm thinking
). Last night I got about 1/8th of this 248 behemoth read. So far I am impressed with the open-mindedness and holistic approach in the causal analysis. I urge any posters who have an interest in space science in general, and the US space programs more specifically to read this document. We all have biases that tend to filter our take on these things, so I don't feel that taking my word, or anybody else's about this will be sufficient.

Also, I'm really looking forward to discussions between all of us once we have finished the report!

posted on Sep, 2 2003 @ 10:53 PM
The following is taken from the Columbia Accident Report. Though it is a bit of a read, it constitutes only 2 pages of the 248 page document. I thought there may be some here interested in this:

At 8:49 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the Orbiter’s flight control system began steering a precise course, or drag profile, with the initial roll command occurring about 30 seconds later. At 8:49:38 a.m., the Mission Control Guidance and Procedures officer called the Flighter Director and indicated that the “closed-loop” guidance system had been initiated.

The Maintenance, Mechanical, and Crew Systems (MMACS) officer and the Flight Director (Flight) had the following exchange beginning at 8:54:24 a.m.

MMACS: “Flight – MMACS.”
Flight: “Go ahead, MMACS.”
MMACS: “FYI, I’ve just lost four separate temperature transducers on the left side of the vehicle, hydraulic return temperatures. Two of them on system one and one in each of systems two and three.”
Flight: “Four hyd return temps?”
MMACS: “To the left outboard and left inboard elevon.”
Flight: “Okay, is there anything common to them? DSC or MDM or anything? I mean, you’re telling me you lost them all at exactly the same time?”
MMACS: “No, not exactly. They were within probably four or five seconds of each other.”
Flight: “Okay, where are those, where is that instrumentation located?”
MMACS: “All four of them are located in the aft part of the left wing, right in front of the elevons, elevon actuators. And there is no commonality.”
Flight: “No commonality.”

At 8:56:02 a.m., the converstaion between the Flight Director and the MMACS officer continues:

Flight: “MMACS, tell me again which systems they’re for.”
MMACS: “That’s all three hydraulic systems. It’s…two of them are to the left outboard elevon and two of them to the left inboard.”
Flight: “Okay, I got you.”

The Flight Director then continues to discuss indications with other Mission Control Center personnel, including the Guidance, Navigation, and Control officer (GNC).

Flight: “GNC-Flight.”
GNC: “Flight-GNC.”
Flight: “Everything look good to you, control and rates and everything is nominal, right?”
GNC: “Control’s been stable throught the rolls that we’ve done so far, flight. We have good trims. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
Flight: “Okay. And MMACS, Flight?”
MMACS: “Flight-MMACS.”
Flight: “All other indications for your hydraulic system indications are good.”
MMACS: “They’re all good. We’ve had good quantities all the way across.”
Flight: “And the other temps are normal?”
MMACS: “The other temps are normal, yes sir.”
Flight: “And when you say you lost these, are you saying that they went to zero?” “Or, off-scale low?”
MMACS: “All four of them are off-scale low. And they were all staggered. They were, like I said, within several seconds of each other.”
Flight: “Okay.”

At 8:58:00 a.m., Columbia crossed the New Mexico-Texas state line. Within the minute, a broken call came on the air-to-ground voice loop from Columbia’s commander, “And, uh, Hou…” This was followed by a call from MMACS about failed tire pressure sensors at 8:59:15 a.m.

MMACS: “Flight – MMACS.”
Flight: “Go.”
MMACS: “We just lost tire pressure on the left-outboard and left inboard, both tires.”

The Flight Director then told the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) to let the crew know that Mission Control saw the messages and that the Flight Control Team was evaluating the indications and did not copy their last transmission.

CAPCOM: “And Columbia, Houston, we see your tire pressure messags and we did not copy your last call.”
Flight: “Is it instrumentation, MMACS? Gotta be…”
MMACS: “Flight – MMACS, those are also off-scale low.”

At 8:59:32 a.m., Columbia was approaching Dallas, texas at 200,700 feet and Mach 18.1. At the same time, another broken call, the final call from Columbia’s commander, came on the air-to-ground voice loop:

Commander: “Roger, [cut off in mid-word]…”

This call may have been about the backup flight system tire pressure fault-summary messages annunciated to the crew onboard, and seen in the telemetry by Mission Control personnel. An extended loss of signal began at 8:59:32 a.m. This was the last valid data accepted by the Mission Control computer stream, and no further real-time data updates occurred in Mission Control. This coincided with the approximate time when the Flight Control Team would expect a short-duration loss of signal during antenna switching, as the onboard communication system automatically reconfigured from the west Tracking and Data Relay System satellite to either the east satellite or to the ground station at Kennedy Space Center. The following eschange then took place on the Flight Director loop with the Instrumentation and Communication Office (INCO):

INCO: “Flight – INCO.”
Flight: “Go.”
INCO: “Just taking a few hits here. We’re right up on top of the tail. Not too bad.”

Flight: “MMACS – Flight.”
MMACS: “Flight-MMACS.”
Flight: “And there’s no commonality between all these tire pressure instrumentations and the hydraulic return instrumentations.”
MMACS: “No sir, there’s not. We’ve also lost the nose gear down talkback and the right main gear down talkback.”
Flight: “Nose gear and right main gear down talkbacks?”
MMACS: “Yes sir.”

At 9:00:18 a.m., the postflight video and imagery analyses indicate that a catastrophic event occurred. Bright flashes suddenly enveloped the Orbiter, followed by a dramatic change in the trail of superheated air. This is considered the most likely time of the main breakup of Columbia. Because the loss of signla had occurred 46 seconds earlier, Mission Control had no insight into this event. Mission Control continued to work the loss-of-signal problem to regain communication with Columbia:

INCO: “Flight – INCO, I didn’t expect, uh, this bad of a hit on comm.”
Flight: “GC [Ground Control Officer] how far are we from UHF? Is that two-minute clock good?”
GC: “Affirmative, Flight.”
GNC: “Flight – GNC.”
Flight: “Go.”
FNC: “If we have any reason to suspect any sort of controllability issue, I would keep the control cards handy on page 4-dash-13.”
Flight: “Copy.”

Flight: “INCO, we were rolled left last data we had and you were expecting a little bit of ratty comm, but not this long?”
INCO: “That’s correct, Flight. I expected it to be a little intermittent. And this is pretty solid right here.”
Flight: “No onboard system config changes right before we lost data?”
INCO: “That is correct, Flight. All looked good.”
Flight: “Still on string two and everything looked good?”
INCO: “String two looking good.”

The Ground Control officer then told the Flight Director that the Orbiter was within two minutes of acquiring the Kennedy Space Center ground station for communications, “Two Minutes to MILA.” The Flight Director told the CAPCOM to try another comm check with Columbia, including one on the UHF system (via MILA, the Kennedy Space Center tracking station):

CAPCOM: “Columbia, Houston, comm check.”
CAPCOM: “Columbia, Houston, UHF comm check.”

MMACS: “Flight – MMACS.”
Flight: “MMACS?”
MMACS: “On the tire pressures, we did see them go erratic for a little bit before they went away, so I do believe it’s instrumentation.”
Flight: “Okay.”

The Flight Control Team still had no indications of any serious problems onboard the Orbiter. In Mission Control, there was no way to know the exact cause of the failed sensor measurements, and while there was concern for the extended loss of signal, the recourse was to continue to try to regain communications and in the meantime determine if the other systems, based on the last valid data, continued to appear as expected. The Flight Director told the CAPCOM to continue to try to raise Columbia via UHF:

CAPCOM: “Columbia, Houston, UHF comm check.”
CAPCOM: “Columbia, Houston, UHF comm check.”

GC: “Flight – GC”
Flight: “Go.”
GC: “MILA not reporting any RF [radio frequency] at this time.”

INCO: “Flight – INCO, SPC [stored program command] just should have taken us to STDN low.” [STDN is the Space Tracking and Data Network, or ground station communication mode.]
Flight: “Okay.”
Flight: “FDO, when are you expecting tracking?” [FDO is the Flight Dynamics Officer in the Mission Control Center]
FDO: “One minute ago, Flight.”
GC: “And Flight – GC, no C-band yet.”
Flight: “Copy.”
CAPCOM: “Columbia, Houston, UHF comm check.”
INCO: “Flight – INCO.”
Flight: “Go.”
INCO: “I coul swap strings in the blind.”
Flight: “Okay, command us over.”
INCO: “In work, Flight.”

At 9:08:25 a.m., the Instrumentation and Communications Officer reported “Flight – INCO, I’ve commanded string one in the blind,” which indicated that the officer had executed a command sequence to Columbia to force the onboard S-band communications system to the backup string of avionics to try to regain communication, per the Flight Director’s direction in the previous call.

GC: “And Flight – GC.”
Flight: “Go.”
GC: “MILA’s taking one of their antennas off into a search mode.”
Flight: “Copy. FDO – Flight?”
FDO: “Go ahead, Flight.”
Flight: “Did we get, have we gotten any tracking data?”
FDO: “We got a blip of tracking data, it was a bad data point, Flight. We do not believe that was the Orbiter [referring to an errant blip on the large front screen in the Mission Control, where Orbiter tracking data is displayed.] We’re entering a search pattern with our C-bands at this time. We do not have any valid data at this time.”

Flight: “OK. Any other trackers that we can go to?”
FDO: “Let me start talking, Flight, to my navigator.”

At 9:12:39 a.m., Columbia should have been banking on the heading alignment cone to line up on Runway 33. At about this time, a member of the Mission Control team received a call on his cell phone from someone who had just seen live television coverage of Columbia breaking up during re-entry. The Mission Control team member walked to the Flight Director’s console and told him the Orbiter had disintegrated.

Flight: “GC, - Flight. GC – Flight?”
GC: “Flight – GC.”
Flight: “Lock the doors.”

posted on Sep, 3 2003 @ 12:11 AM
May our hearts and prayers go out to those BRAVE souls who tempt fate so that we all may see beyond our own limitations...

Reading this has frimly reestablished the fact that there are HUMAN BEINGS on the ground that get each of our daring space flights accomplished...

These Human beings get to know and befreind the Astronauts that fly our wild machines into the unknown...

These Human beings literally CARRY the astronauts on their backs, from just after launch to touch down.

Can YOU imagine what these Human beings went through this day?

I can't...

PEACE to them and their dreams, may the NEVER stop dreaming, for if they do we are all trapped right here.


posted on Sep, 3 2003 @ 12:31 AM
Well said Springer. I think that this accident reminded us of how brave the Astronauts really are.
God Bless their souls.

posted on Sep, 3 2003 @ 08:43 PM
I started back in 1980 trying to get Nasa to look at a problem they knew about but did nothing, same as with Columbia.


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