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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 23, 2005 19:06:57 GMT -6
Cracks found on Shuttle fuel tank: May resumption of Shuttle flights up in the air
NASA engineers investigating a debris shedding problem with space shuttle fuel tanks reportedly found a series of hairline cracks in the same area. Nine cracks -- two of them visible on the surface -- have been detected along a protective foam ramp on NASA's External Tank 120.
Resumption of space flights depends on the pace of repairing foam insulating the shuttle's large external fuel tank, which may not happen by May, NASA said.
NASA still needs to find where a bit of foam that broke off in July's launch came from. And, X-rays have revealed small cracks in the insulating foam. The shuttle external tank program's manager said the cracks could have contributed to the problem.
"It would be premature to say that the cracks played a factor in that, but they might have," John Chapman said. He said nine fine cracks were found in the foam of a fuel tank attached to the Discovery before its July flight, but which was replaced for other technical reasons. Discovery's tank still lost a piece of foam, which struck the delicate ceramic tiles that make up the craft's re-entry heat shield.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 15, 2005 1:58:57 GMT -6
Nasa probes shuttle 'oxygen leak'
Nasa is investigating the possibility of a gaseous oxygen leak, posing a serious fire risk, during the launch of the space shuttle Discovery in July. Experts are studying data from the test flight - the first since space shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas in 2003.
Engineers uncovered possible evidence of high concentrations of the gas in the rear engine compartment about two minutes after lift-off.
A leak could lead to a fire or even an explosion in flight.
Officials said the issue must be resolved before the next shuttle mission, which Nasa hopes to launch in May.
"We're going to err on the side of caution," Kyle Herring, a spokesman for Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston told the newspaper Florida Today, "We're going to run this thing to ground and make sure we understand it."
NASA should leave manned space exploration to entrepreneurs. Those who seek to do it for profit will have an obligation to satisfy their customers --- those who are voluntarily putting their money up will expect a product within a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable cost. The company in turn will have to consider more common-sense in vehicle design as failure to live up to any of these standards will likely put the company under fairly quick. But the upside is if they CAN meet the above expectations then success would be phenomenal, beyond anything we have seen to date.
Unless of course you are guaranteed tax subsidies (or even full funding) whether you succeed or fail, like NASA. Then you are under no incentive to strive for excellence or profit, which is what would be required for the long-term success of any venture.