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SCI/TECH: NASA Finds Cracks in Shuttle Fuel Tank Foam

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posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 10:16 AM
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NASA, the U.S. space agency, announced Tuesday that it found cracks in the space shuttle's insulating foam used on its external fuel tank. Chunks of foam falling off the tank damaged the orbiter Columbia in 2003, causing its loss and all astronauts aboard during Earth re-entry. The problem was thought to have been fixed, but falling foam was observed in the latest mission of Discovery, leading to another fleet grounding. The newly discovered cracks could lead NASA scientists and engineers to discover why and how the foam is falling off and how to prevent it in the future.
 



edition.cnn.com


(CNN) -- Under mandate to keep space shuttles grounded until its issues with foam insulation are resolved, NASA discovered nine small cracks in the foam coating on an external tank that had been slated for use by space shuttle Discovery, the agency said Tuesday.

Engineers found the cracks while investigating why a large piece of foam broke from Discovery's external tank during its last liftoff. Analyzing the cracks could help NASA understand the causes of foam shedding, which has emerged as a chronic and dangerous problem for the space agency.

"How do these cracks that we've found figure into that? We don't know," said John Chapman, manager of the External Tank Project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "It would certainly be premature to say the cracks play a factor in that. We don't know that right now. But they might."


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


I hope this does lead to a solution, but it seems difficult to prove this had anything to do with the problem. My fear is that NASA will continue to waste more money on this dangerous and aged vehicle rather than investing into new technology that would be both safer and capable of doing more, such as returning to the moon and going to Mars.

[edit on 11/23/2005 by djohnsto77]




posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 10:58 AM
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With all these problems they've recently found on the spaceshuttle, it's surprising so many completed launch/reentry without more incidents.

Now hopefully they'll start working on developing something to replace it. I don't really care for the idea of going back to staged rockets. There just doesn't seem to be the same excitement in a rocket going up and a capsule coming down as an actual "spaceship" flying into space, then back down.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 11:08 AM
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personally I want to get away from rockets and like to go to a plasma or nuclear electric power propulsion system

it is not only dangerous technology it is also enverimentally a bad technology.

can't they find a replacement for rocket technology for exiting our planet.?

bendng space around the ship creating a continues wake ?


xu

posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 11:31 AM
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this will be like an auto repairmen telling a NASA rocket engineer, move aside let me open the hood on that have a look,

the foam is similar to ceramics in structure in terms of its elasticity I assume, covering the surface of the tank or rocket, the foam is also observed falling off during the take off, right after the ignition, we can say that the main structural damage to the foam is occuring during ignition, and later fails during flight because of the weakened and damaged parts.

so what could happen during ignition that could damage the foam, speculation is, the difference between an ignited rocket and un-ignited rocket is the heat factor and this change in heat on the aircraft must be pretty steep. and materials extend when they got heated and the materrials which are heated suddenly also extend suddenly, with the reason of the foam and the material of the rocket(titanium?) extending specifications when exposed to heat could differ greatly, naturally the foam would crack, maybe if the heat transformation wasnt that steep this wouldnt happen. it depends on the elacticity of the foam. ok let me open the hood and have look.


well they can and did make simple mistakes in the past, like not calculating the factor of the applied force by light photons during moon voyages.

[edit on 23-11-2005 by xu]



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 11:33 AM
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Has anyone other then me ever wondered why they never designed the external tanks like a stainless steel thermos bottle? I am no engineer, but it seems to make sense to me that would have prevented the problems with the foam.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 01:18 PM
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Here's a bits and pieces answer: I had heard that the type of foam permitted on the shuttle was dictated by an environmental ruling on permitted refrigerants. The current foam meets the EPA standard but is weaker than it's predecessor.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 01:39 PM
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Originally posted by shots
Has anyone other then me ever wondered why they never designed the external tanks like a stainless steel thermos bottle? I am no engineer, but it seems to make sense to me that would have prevented the problems with the foam.


I think weight would be the answer to that question.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 01:50 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky
Here's a bits and pieces answer: I had heard that the type of foam permitted on the shuttle was dictated by an environmental ruling on permitted refrigerants. The current foam meets the EPA standard but is weaker than it's predecessor.


I thought NASA was exempted from legislation that called for a reduction in freon use. Therefore there should have been no need to change the foam.



--------

Yes Grady, weight was the first thing that came to my mind also, but I still think it would have been neat if possible.

[edit on 11/23/2005 by shots]



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 01:54 PM
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The foam formulation was changed when they stopped painting the fuel tank white. I think this is the most underreported aspect of this story. I actually e-mailed FOX about this and my mother said she saw on FOX & Friends asking this question a day or two later to someone from NASA (I didn't see it) and she said the NASA guy got very defensive.

I really do think this is part of the problem.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 02:20 PM
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I thought NASA was exempted from legislation that called for a reduction in freon use. Therefore there should have been no need to change the foam.

You would think so. That would seem logical; we're not talking kilotons of the stuff.

My source may be somewhat suspect - I think I heard it on c2cAM.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 02:34 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky

I thought NASA was exempted from legislation that called for a reduction in freon use. Therefore there should have been no need to change the foam.

You would think so. That would seem logical; we're not talking kilotons of the stuff.



That's good enough I found it on
en.wikipedia.org...

so it does have some validity albeit slim. I tend not to believe wikipedia sources because anyone can edit the info on any page they want, if they want.

That gives us two scenarios here.

1. They changed the foam when they decided not to paint it

or

2. they changed the foam to meet epa requirements

Suddenly after years of no problems NASA changes changes foam for either reason and we have two problems that are foam related, Equals cover up by NASA because they know the new foam is not as good.

[edit on 11/23/2005 by shots]



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 03:32 PM
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I'm looking in my crystal ball.... I see.. I see a contract.. wait.. A no-bid contract..

Halliburton House of Foam..



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 04:52 PM
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Suddenly after years of no problems NASA changes changes foam for either reason and we have two problems that are foam related, Equals cover up by NASA because they know the new foam is not as good.

Good digging, shots.
There's a story out there with your name on it.



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