NASA's New 'Lesson' from Space

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It's a paradox:
Shun risk, and yet passively persist in a state of risk--howsoever 'calculated'.
From the Seattle times . . .
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003840413_shuttle17.html
"The astronauts had spent much of the day running through the never-before-attempted repair methods, just in case they were ordered up."
While procrastination continues to dog necessary repairs for Hubble, even as essential weather satellites are on the verge of going out of commission with nothing on the agenda to replace them, somehow, somewhere in the administration of the Space Program, there is deemed (in a mentality the flavor of Fruit Loops) to be room on the Shuttle for another frivolous, trivial, patently asinine "School Teacher in Space" mission--but no room in the crew for a pair of crack space-ship mechanics, let alone an engineer or two, to be on board for every mission, thoroughly trained and equipped for just such an exigency as this, which occurred with the last Kaptain Kangaroo and Romper Room in Space mission which ended in catastrophe--as only such a mission is apparently destined to do.
There just seems to be a fateful kind of logic to it that is too mathematical, too concrete, too almost cosmically lawful (let alone 'awful') to be expressed in parabolas of words. It has nothing whatever to do with "justice" that 1 + 1 = 2; it just flatly makes sense, as likewise so does the observation that inanity tends toward tragedy.
When things get stupid, needless, wasteful, capricious, snotty and slothful--well, once again from the Seattle Times . . .
"Endeavour's bottom thermal shielding was pierced by a piece of debris that broke off the external fuel tank shortly after liftoff last week. The debris, either foam insulation, ice or a combination of both, weighed just one-third of an ounce but packed enough punch to carve out a 3 -inch-long, 2-inch-wide gouge and dig all the way through the thermal tiles. Left exposed was a narrow 1-inch strip of feltlike fabric, the last barrier before the shuttle's aluminum structure."
And now get a load of this . . .
"The chairman of the mission management team, John Shannon, said Johnson Space Center's engineering group in Houston wanted to proceed with the repairs. But everyone else, including safety officials, voted to skip them."
How on earth (or in the heavens) can this be happening again, right before our eyes?
It's simple: one 'risk' is deemed superior to another--the easiest risk, the passive, the do-nothing one, not the active one, wins the day in the Romper Room realms of the inane at NASA.
So what *is* the "lesson" for the children to learn from this?
--
Mackie
http://whosenose.blogspot.com
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The poor astronauts. I think this time they will need much more luck then the last time. I heard in England they are making bets...

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Mac the Nice wrote:

The only certain means to be rid of a tenured teacher is... making it ride the Space Scuttle. Princess Diana was a kindergarten teacher before she was a British Royal broodmare. It wasn't every day that her charges got the intellectual better of her.
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/nasa3.htm
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Uncle Al
http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/
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wrote:

Better yet, bag the whole shuttle program. With the cancellation of the AMS experiment, the last tenuous claim that the ISS would do "science" vanished. Now, as Bob Park says "NASA must complete the ISS so it can be dropped into the ocean on schedule in finished form."

I would take this as an indication that at least some of the experts feel the "repair" introduces more risk than doing nothing.
-jc

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jcon wrote:

The "science" claim to justify the manned space program has evaporated. With news of drunk astronauts and unhinged/jealous astronauts, so has the "national prestige" argument. What's left?
We beat the Russians to the moon. The urge to relive past glories is strong, and has kept the manned space program funded ever since. But the Evil Empire is no more, and the cockeyed dream of returning to the moon is as pointless as it is fraught with peril. With the bill soon coming due for the Iraq war, there's no way it's going to get funded.
Finally, thankfully, the manned space program will come to an end.
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: :Finally, thankfully, the manned space program will come to an end. :
Then so will the unmanned space program. Good luck with that...
--
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable
man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore,
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If you think alcoholism and emotional immaturity preclude science, you haven't known a lot of scientists, so I'm willing to cut them some slack on that one :)
I'm more worried that after 35+ years of "space science", about 95% of the experiments are still described as "studying the effects of zero gravity on XXX". The CAM (Centrifuge Accommodations Modules) could have even added some science to *that*, by allowing them to control small amounts of gravity - but of course that was canceled so there'd be plenty of money to launch teachers and such.
-jc

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On Fri, 17 Aug 2007 12:19:10 -0500, "Mac the Nice"

Jeez... one stupid little research satellite (launched as the first of its kind in 1999), is approaching its end of life with no replacement, and critics make it out be the end of the weather satellite program and we're all gonna be doomed by hurricanes. QUIKSCAT will be mourned, but let's keep perspective here. We still have a fleet of GOES weather satellites (the ones that provide the cool global weather photos on News At Six) and the low-orbit weather satellites still have one last-generation yet to launch before moving on to the new generation NPOESS. Plus those Earth Observing Satellites ("Mission To Planet Earth") are still going strong.
And you do realize NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration) is responsible for weather satellites, not NASA, right?

Morgan's a full-fledged astronaut now, and the teacher aspect is her very-secondary duty. She also operates the robot arm and probably would have done so had the tile repair been ordered. But let's not let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Last I checked, they've already gone out three times on this flight to install and repair things on the Station, and will do so again on Saturday. Sounds to me like they have the mechanics if they need them. But again, we must have our ignorant rant...

The "everyone else" are pretty smart, too. And the guys who disented aren't the guys most familiar with the hardware involved. And those guys didn't think it was a loss-of-crew situation, just a danger of time consuming repairs afterwards.
Brian
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Good thing the astronauts are keeping the shuttle in good repair, so they can go up again....and repair it.
wrote:

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We've got to be approaching the end of the line for the shuttle...How many more missions are planned with it?
--


MichaelB
www.michaelbulatovich.ca
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On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 08:37:00 -0400, "Michael Bulatovich"

14.
Brian
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wrote:

Ouch. What are the bookies saying about the chances of another catastrophe?
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On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 14:06:55 -0400, in a place far, far away, "Michael
such a way as to indicate that:

The "bookies" don't know much about it. If you think that there's a one in a hundred chance per flight, the probability would be about 13%. If you think it's two in a hundred, it's about one in four. I think it's actually less than one in a hundred per flight, so the chances of losing another one are pretty small in the remaining fourteen flights.
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Speaking of space photos, check out the following page in the Wikipedia with a bird's eye view of Hurricane Dean:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hurricane_dean_2007_nasatv.png
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wrote:

Be that as it may, these guys make odds that generally win for themselves. My (uninformed) sense is that shuttle missions have been meeting with more regular damage requiring repairs or burials than when the vehicles were new. Most of them have around the same mileage, don't they?
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On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 16:43:33 -0400, in a place far, far away, "Michael
such a way as to indicate that:

No, they haven't. It's actually less, but they can't reduce it to zero. The only reason that it seems like more now is because we're paying a lot more attention to it than we used to.
And the "mileage" of the orbiters is irrelevant. The problem is caused by the external tanks, which are new every flight, since they must be expended.
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wrote:

What about the tiles?
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What about them? They're the *victims* of the damage, not the cause.
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wrote:

Well..... to use an analogy in this field, consider door casings. Besides the function of covering joints between materials, it can be argued that one of their functions is to protect a buildings' more fragile interior finish at the places where mechanical abrasion is more likely....at door and window openings.
In doing this, over extended periods, a degradation of the condition of these elements is normal and expected. You could argue that the "cause" of the damage is not the casings themselves but the movement of people and goods through the opening, but the effect is the same. The materials and their attachment can be weakened without immediate, obvious visual evidence of that fact. They also get obviously banged up progressively, and eventually bits start to come off, especially when we start moving furniture. These casings can be hardwood, softwood, even stone or metal, and each material will degrade at different rates and in slightly different ways.
I never said the tiles were the *cause* of any damage, and have heard the explanations regarding tank insulation, but find it very hard to imagine that the tiles (which I recall thinking were a dicey idea when I first saw them) do not suffer any cumulative degradation from repeated exposures to the kinds of stresses they experience. Ditto for their attachment. I also know nothing of the inspection regimen, but imagine that it is primarily visual, which could fail to detect 'invisible' defects or wear.
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On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 17:41:34 -0400, in a place far, far away, "Michael
such a way as to indicate that:

They are inspected every flight, and replaced, if necessary. Again, it has nothing to do with "mileage."
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