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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 31, 2005 13:26:54 GMT -6
An interesting and long article.
"Foam really is complicated," said Douglas D. Osheroff, a professor of physics at Stanford and a member of the board that investigated the Columbia accident. "Once you go supersonic, the top surface melts, the bottom surface is brittle as all hell because it's very cold, and you've got everything in between."
Thanks for the link.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
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1) What is the foam's purpose anyway? 2) What are some ideas to eliminate the loss of foam on future, if any, shuttle flights?
Does it really matter? I answer that with an astounding yes, but think about this. Can you not look at the Columbia tradgedy as a freak accident? Foam comes off on every launch. NASA has made an effort to fix this potentially fatal problem, but rarely has been credited for trying.
However, I will admit that overlooking/disregarding foam debris from the PAL ramp was very unprofessional. Why don't they just give up now? I mean, the general public thinks that the shuttle is a death trap, and that it costs too much money to maintain, launch, and operate, so why hasn't NASA said "To hell with the shuttle, let's move on to something else." I don't think it's NASA primary objective to annoy the general public or taxpayer, but I do think that they have faith in the shuttle's ability to continue to service the International Space Station. Sure I will admit it's an old, and tired vehicle, but I just feel that the public, and media are hellbent on seeing it's retirement, that reminds me of a son or daughter carting off their mother or father to a nursing home, complete disrespect!
I know everyone here disagrees with this, but I think the shuttle design is a fairly good one, they should have made more orbiters, and a completely different tank. Couldn't a metal cover or some type of wire mesh be made to enclose the foam? Even if it did separate it would be way at the end with no chance of hitting the orbiter at all.
Bottom line is this. The shuttle has demonstrated brute force time, and time again with it's monsterous ability to delivery enormous payloads to the International Space Station.
Something to ponder; Modify the shuttle to fly safer or build a completely new vehicle that will cost ten times more to fly, and operate, let alone several more years or flying in Low Earth Orbit, oh boy that's really moving the space program in the right direction...
I'd rather go with something that I already understand a lot about, I didn't say fully, rather than completely starting over, and knowing absolutely nothing about a new vehicle, the very fact that we even designed something like the shuttle, and learned to fly it alone is in itself enamoring enough for me to marvel at, and appreciate what it has done for the american space program.
Unfortunately the shuttle is not thought of as an effective, and respectable means of getting to space, it's mainly thought of now as an old horse that needs to be shot in the head...
Out with the old, in with the new, is not always the best concept.
Last Edit: Jul 31, 2005 23:23:09 GMT -6 by Rocketman
Grady -The official satellite hunter of the Chicago Astronomer forum.
Lest we not forget that these things are only being scrutinized post-columbia.
True. Quite obviously they were not well enough scrutinized before Columbia. At least they've been making haphazard attempts at closing the barn door after a couple of horses have gotten away. Unfortunately, government bureaucrats tend to run things that way. Ultimately what this reminds us is that safety concerns are what make manned spaceflights hugely more expensive than robotic missions.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 1, 2005 2:41:05 GMT -6
The purpose of the foam is to prevent Ice build-up upon the external tank. Remember all the ice that shook off the Saturn V during lift-off? All that ice striking the shuttle would be devastating and the foam kept the tank insulated.
The Shuttle has become a maintenance service, much like a building janitor...replacing parts and taking out the garbage from the ISS. No real space exploration.
The extra day in orbit will allow the seven-astronaut crew to get a head start on tasks that could be affected by the suspension of further flights: removal of trash and old equipment from the space station.
Some 11 tonnes of waste have piled up over three years, cramping the space station.
Astronauts will pack it into the Rafaello transport module which rides in Discovery's cargo bay and which had carried 13.5 tonnes of food and equipment for the space station.
And now we learn that a thin spacer in between a tile is peeking out and could cause a problem in re-entry. This spacecraft is indeed non-spaceworthy and hearing the astronauts praise the shuttle program is rather sad, but you gotta tow the company line.
I wonder if the Russian Shuttle will utilize similar designs in their project.
With all the crap falling off the tank posing a threat to damage the shuttle's tile, how do we get them home. Chance flying Atlantis, have a similiar event occur yet again, and strand even more astronauts?
"If we work really hard, we can bring nine people down in next January and February by three Soyuzes," Nikolai Sevastyanov, the head of the state-controlled RKK Energia rocket maker said last week."