james+burgundy wrote:Were you a relative to the people aboard Mission KA-BOOM? I personally find NASA to be one of the biggest wastes of tax payer dollars.
So is your state's 10 commandment tablet crap at the courthouse.
No umm seriously two of those things blew up so I can see why people would make fun of it. But Warthead where is your space program?
The problem is that it was meant to be re-useable. The shuttle had three conflicting engineering goals stacked up against its use as a political tool which lead to two disasters and 14 dead:
A: Land like a plane & Reuseablility
B: Transport humans into space
C: Transport cargo into space
This lead to a number of problems. I'll start with the Challenger accident...
The Challenger exploded because of a problem with one of the Solid Rocket Boosters. The SRB's (unlike the big brown tank) don't burn up when they re-enter the atmosphere. Instead they fall into the Atlantic and are recovered by the US Navy. They are then repaired and re-fitted with more fuel and sent on another mission. This refitting takes time, but can be done up to 15 times making the SRB's have 15 runs total.
Anyway, what was also going on at the time of the Challenger accident was that NASA had been under intense pressure since the start of the shuttle program to perform, and well by this time it finally was. In 1985 there were 9 shuttle missions, more than any previous year. When the Challenger blew up in late January 1986 there had also been a shuttle launch earlier in that month. The turn-around time here is pretty crazy. That plus NASA under pressure to keep doing launches encouraged engineers to not delay the launch due to cold weather and because of this pressure NASA never fixed the flaw with the SRB's even though they knew about it since 1977.
This problem meets the issue of multiple engineering goals when you realize that unlike all previous American manned space-flight programs the design of the shuttle prohibited an escape mechanism in case of launch error. The shuttle exploded, but the crew members did not die until they hit the ocean a couple of minutes later. An escape device would have saved them, but the shuttle couldn't be built with that in mind because it was to be re-useable and carry both crew and payload into space, meaning that instead of being on top of the rockets, the cockpit was right next to a huge tank of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and which compromised the ability to put on an escape mechanism because it would have ruined the launch aerodynamics of the shuttle transportation system. The orbiter itself is supposed to land like a plane not a space capsule so when the shuttle explodes the cockpit can't detach from the rest of the orbiter and land itself -- the orbiter got shredded up to the point of the cockpit. There was no possible escape for the crew even though the explosion didn't kill them.
As for Columbia, similar political pressure was on NASA at the time. They were behind in construction of the ISS (which is only now being completed) and the mission control team ended up ignoring reports that during launch some of the foam on the main fuel tank had fallen off during launch and hit the orbiter. If they had taken time to look at that a rescue mission could have been launched (Shuttle Atlantis was ready for launch when Columbia disintegrated on re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.) and the crew could have been saved, but that didn't happen. However the problem of foam hitting the orbiter and damaging the heat-shield tiles would never have happened in the first place if the shuttle was meant only to take a crew into space or to do cargo or whatever, and not land like a plane. Star Wars and our culture make space travel look like flying a plane but the STS is a space ship not an air plane, so we don't need to confuse planes with space ships. It only ends in disaster given our limited propulsion technology.