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Oversight panel blasts post-disaster leadership at NASA

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posted on Aug, 18 2005 @ 04:50 PM

Some safety improvements were skipped by NASA officials as they tried to meet unrealistic launch dates for the space shuttle Discovery, seven members of a larger oversight panel said in a scathing critique.

Poor leadership also made the shuttle's return to space more complicated, expensive and prolonged than it needed to be, the task force members said. In fact, some of the "disturbing" traits that contributed to the Columbia tragedy -- like smug, overbearing managers influencing key decisions - were still present in the months leading up to Discovery's flight, the panelists noted.

"We expected that NASA leadership would set high standards for post-Columbia work ... We were, overall disappointed," they wrote in the task force's final report Wednesday.

The seven critics include a former shuttle astronaut, former undersecretary of the Navy, former Congressional Budget Office director, former moon rocket engineer, retired nuclear engineer and two university professors.

Entire article

Somehow I'm not surprised.

posted on Aug, 18 2005 @ 06:23 PM
I wonder who is right?
-The 11,000 odd science and engineering professionals working at NASA
-1000s of university professors working on their projects(not a hard statistics but is reasonable IMO)
-dozens of astronauts

-2 engineers
-2 professors
-2 Washington types(NASA has those too including a budget director with a budget direction team I am sure)
and 1 astronaut

Poor leadership also made the shuttle's return to space more complicated, expensive and prolonged than it needed to be, the task force members said.

doesn't jive with

The seven said NASA should have done detailed engineering reviews of the Columbia accident investigators' recommendations before committing to short-term launch dates. That way, they said, the space agency would have better understood the foam loss and seriously considered alternative approaches, such as a completely redesigned fuel tank or hardening of the shuttle's thermal skin.

Complete fuel tank redesign would have been more costly and take more time than what NASA did. So, they say that it could have been done faster and less costly, but then propose a plan that is exactly opposite to that in that more components are redesigned, manufactured and tested? Unless they know better science than the NASA engineers, more redesign takes more engineering time. Anyway, they did redesign the fuel tank...see shuttle redesign information and the next page talking about the explosive bolt redesign that causes solid rocket booster-external fuel tank separation.

"At the end of 2 1/2 years and $1.5 billion or more, it is not clear what has been accomplished," they said.

so, they are saying that this mission cost about 2-3 times what the usual space shuttle mission costs(600 million)? Hmm, sounds reasonable in the scheme of things.

What have they accomplished?
-22 heat detecting sensors and 66 accelerometers to detect damage to the wing
-camera systems (IR, high resolution, shuttle mounted, high frame rate, aircraft based) installed to detect damage to shuttle
-Canadian designed robotic arm for detecting damage and for repairing heat shield like what was done on this last discovery mission

If you can detect it, the astronauts can leave the shuttle parked up in space for an indefinite amount of time. It really is no big deal. Then they just wait for a rescue mission on the ISS. The Shuttle could be repaired years later if needs be and returned to Earth. If that doesn't happen, I'm sure the NASA engineers could rig up some way to modify it to be a ISS ferry (can't land) or risk a landing without anybody inside (most of landing is controlled by computer anyway especially the part where communications are hindered, while the landing on the run-way will probably need some new hardware/software in space installed, but the NASA guys/astronaut candidates are smart). MAYBE, a module for the space station with extra emergency supplies for a short term larger occupancy would be all that is needed to make the shuttle safe again. PERHAPS a slight redesign for some extra Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) fuel so that no matter what it is doing, it can get back to ISS. Then again, maybe just limit the orbital maneuvering a little bit so that their is enough fuel always to get back to the ISS without a redesign. So, I don't know really if either of those things are needed for such a plan to work, but I do know that NASA has looked at this plan and sees it as a possibility and thus, must have worked out the bugs.

posted on Aug, 20 2005 @ 01:51 AM
NASA pushed back the next shuttle launch 6 months, I wonder why...

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