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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:57 pm 
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I can remember hoping that somehow they could have survived.

http://www.space.com/12516-photos-colum ... aster.html

On February 1, 2003, during re-entry, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over northern Texas with all seven crewmembers aboard. This picture survived on a roll of unprocessed film recovered by searchers from the debris.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:16 pm 
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And NASA was pretty sure the crew were dead men walking before they entered the atmosphere...and the insulating foam that damaged the heat tiles protecting our astronauts was changed to be more enviromentally friendly.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:38 pm 
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I kind of understand the decision made to not tell them since they had no way to repair the damage and the crew likely couldn't have done anything different upon re-entry to prevent the burn-up, but not giving them the knowledge and opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones seems wrong.

Columbia Shuttle Crew Not Told of Possible Problem With Reentry
By GINA SUNSERI
Jan. 31, 2013
Quote:
What would you tell seven astronauts if you knew their space shuttle was crippled on orbit?

"After one of the MMTs (Mission Management Team) when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed, he (Flight Director Jon Harpold) gave me his opinion: 'You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged it's probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don't you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?"

The doomed astronauts were not told of the risk.

While no one knew for sure what caused Columbia's accident, there were engineers at the Johnson Space Center who were pretty sure they knew what happened, who had tried to alert senior management, and who were ignored.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:53 pm 
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I am guessing they couldn't get another shuttle or Russian rocket up there in time, or had them go the the International Space Station to wait for rescue.

Can you imagine if they had told the astronauts and the world that they couldn't survive re-entry, how it would be taken?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:04 pm 
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No, the article said they couldn't get another shuttle up in time, and they weren't in the same orbit as the ISS so they couldn't make it there either. Back then, they didn't include tile repair kits on the shuttles, or even robotic arms that could look out and get a picture of the damage, much less repair the damage that way.

They also didn't have parachutes that would deploy if the astronaut was unconscious and they all were within 30 seconds of so of the flight experiencing trouble so even if they could've ejected somehow, they wouldn't have even survived free-fall from 200,00' . There were a lot of safety backups and procedures missing that were put in place after this event, but a repair kit not even being available??? That just seems common sense to me, especially with all of the tiles that came off during liftoff. Senseless waste.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:01 pm 
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When one takes even a brief moment to realize the volitility of rocket fuel and that each and every time a rocket is launched it is little more than a controlled explosion, one can only be amazed that there has been so little loss of life in the pursuit of space exploration over the course of the last 60 years.

The Space Shuttle Program put over 800 people into orbit, accumulated neraly 200,000 man hours of time in orbit and over 1300 days that an orbiter was actually in orbit over the course of the 135 missions that were flown. Over the course of 30 years that the orbiters were flying there were two catastrophic accidents resulting in the loss of 14 lives.

We spent less on the entire Space Shuttle program over the course of 30 years than we will spend paying interest on our national debt for the current fiscal year. Think about that for a moment or two before you start talking about "senseless waste".

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:01 pm 
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For a change I agree with PrintSmith......the space program has been a continuing wonder to me......starting with the promise from JFK.....through the many flights....and to this day, I have watched, marveled, and been totally engrossed by the program. That we did it, that we did it well, and that it was much safer than I ever thought possible. The tragedies were awful, for the program, for the nation and especially for the astronaut's families....but I believe that they all knew what the risks were, and even if they had been told of the problem they would have handled themselves with professionalism and dignity......I don't think you can put a price on what the space program did for this country, for science, and really for the consumer world.......It was money well spent, but that is the least of it...If you really think about how intricate and involved every phase of a manned space flight is, from concept to design to execution.....how ever did we accomplish so much against such odds? We have advanced our knowledge of space and this planet we call home .....awesome.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:47 am 
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Originally each Space Shuttle were supposed to be retired after 4 trips IIRC, and they broke that rule early on. I eagerly await to see what will replace it.

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