posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 07:13 AM
Kudos for the very well informed readers here.
The 'merciful death' scenario for the Challenger crew and the columbia cvrew seems more an immediate knee-jerk media construct than a deliberate
NASA policy falsehood, since subsequent NASA reports made it clear both sets of astronauts survived the initial vehicle breakups [just as the Soyuz-11
crew in 1971 struggled to stop the air leak that ultimately killed them].
I've seen no persuasive evidence the Challenger cabin kept airtightness, and the arguments that it did -- eg, that the floor would have buckled if it
had decompressed, or the recovered remains show no sign of decompression -- are unimpressive. The condition of both the vehicle fragments and of the
body fragments [after weeks of scavenging by sea life] were too degraded for any such conclusions.
Also, as the crew cabin came loose from the PLB equipment, significant piping was torn free that provided ample air flow opportunities for a rapid
loss of pressure. The PEAPs [which were AIR flow, not oxygen flow, units] provided no pressurization ability. And the naive suggestion that a person
could 'hold his breath' against a near-vacuum is, well, to be generous, just naive.
The question of whether the crew would have regained consciousness as the altitude dropped is more interesting, and horrifying. As far as I know, NASA
never reproduced the pressure profile in chambers at Brooks or elsewhere, seeming to want to NOT know of any such possibilities. My suggestions to my
news media clients to reproduce the profile on volunteer subjects [myself on the list] never got anywhere.
The 'space docs' I trust have assured me that the process of regaining consciousness after an episode of near vacuum is gradual -- involving many
minutes. For my peace of mind, I've chosen to believe them.
The rumors of post-break-up messages don't deal with radio transmissions, since all power was cut off at the moment of breakup. They involve a
suggestion that one of the crew had a battery-powered voice recorder running, inside their pocket, to get ascent commentary, a recording which [per
rumor] was deemed the private property of that crewmember's heirs, and turned over to them after determining there was nothing on it germane to the
These are still issues to be discussed, in the degree that social and professional media sugar-coated the event, and agencies involved observed
privacy requirements for the next-of-kin of the victims.
But culturally, I've found space workers [as I was for decades] e a loose-lipped and gossipy lot who have never been accustomed to, or agreeable to,
keeping secrets, on this or any other topics.