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Talk about tough management decisions...

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  • Talk about tough management decisions...

    It was better for them to die unexpectedly: Columbia Shuttle Crew Not Told of Possible Problem With Reentry | Mail Online

    NASA has revealed that the Columbia crew were not told that the shuttle had been damaged and they might not survive re-entry.

    The seven astronauts who died will be remembered at a public memorial service on the 10th anniversary of the disaster this Friday at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

    The shuttle was headed home from a 16-day science mission when it broke apart over Texas on February 1, 2003, because of damage to its left wing.

    Ten years ago, experts at NASA's mission control faced the terrible decision over whether to let the astronauts know that they may die on re-entry or face orbiting in space until the oxygen ran out.
    I'm torn on this one.

    I definitely understand the decision and can't really condemn it but I have to wonder if letting them know would have allowed them to make their own peace before re-entry and, perhaps, say a few words to their loved ones.

  • #2
    Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

    They should have been told of the high risk, IMO. I thought we had a space station up there? Could it not support them until a rescue shuttle arrived? Probably not large enough for that. But yeah, I think they had a right to know instead of death coming as a total surprise. I would want to know if I were in their shoes.

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    • #3
      Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

      It was a bullshit call by NASA. They could have told them and let them orbit for another day or so to give them a chance to call their families. They didn't even try and mount another mission to retrieve them or anything. I'm not torn on this call, at all.

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      • #4
        Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

        I was sitting in my kitchen in the DFW area when I heard the boom of the explosion. I'm not sure if I would have wanted to know or not.

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        • #5
          Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

          No rescue mission was coming. Nasa opperates on a miniscule budget for what it does. Every mission is years of planning they didn't have years.

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          • #6
            Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

            Wow what a gut wrenching call this must have been to make. How difficult it would have been to either say something or not is something that none of us here would want to make.

            This is why faith is the single most important thing in life because at times like this, it is only God whom can help.

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            • #7
              Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

              This is one of those calls that is not any easier to make even with hindsight after the fact helping you.

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              • #8
                Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                This sounds like BS, or my trust in NASA should take a dent.

                NASA is an organization with educated professionals. In any such organization you expect the teams and people to cross-review their findings and especially communicate when serious issues arise.

                They expect the astronauts to truthfully report to the command center, and the astronauts expect to be informed truthfully about their mission.

                What the article implies was never stated that strongly on Wayne Hale's blog which is the source of this conclusion. The problem was not recognized as serious enough because the damage was underestimated and the engineers+managers were too confident in the abilities of the craft. That is why the crew was not informed.
                Last edited by erikvv; 02-02-2013, 02:47 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                  Doesn't it really depend on how much NASA knew and when they knew it?

                  Granted, my recollection may be off, but wasn't it the case that NASA leadership only suspected that something might have been off once the shuttle broke up on its landing?

                  And even then, had they suspected an imminent failure, what could they have done? No spare parts in orbit. No known means for repair.

                  I don't even think that the shuttle was carrying EVA equipment on board, it wasn't their mission, and weight is always of paramount importance.

                  Or am I remembering all this wrong?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                    Originally posted by JDJarvis View Post
                    No rescue mission was coming. Nasa opperates on a miniscule budget for what it does. Every mission is years of planning they didn't have years.
                    My Brother in law actually works at NASA. They have contingency plans on what to do for almost anything imaginable. Apollo 13 was one of the biggest pushes for a group that just thinks up worst case scenario. One of the simplest plans was what to do if a Shuttle could not land and had to stay in Space.

                    There is no excuse for being quiet and not saying anything.

                    Actually I just talked to my wife. She worked at the plant in Michigan that made the strain gauges. According to her NASA knew that the Shuttle was risky going up.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                      Originally posted by Wlessard View Post
                      My Brother in law actually works at NASA. They have contingency plans on what to do for almost anything imaginable. Apollo 13 was one of the biggest pushes for a group that just thinks up worst case scenario. One of the simplest plans was what to do if a Shuttle could not land and had to stay in Space.

                      There is no excuse for being quiet and not saying anything.

                      Actually I just talked to my wife. She worked at the plant in Michigan that made the strain gauges. According to her NASA knew that the Shuttle was risky going up.
                      Given this, it sounds more likely that NASA didn't know there was a threat with the shuttle landing.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                        I think the reason they didn't tell them is because they couldn't do anything about it. If it was something I could fix I'd want to know but if not I'd rather not know than worry myself sick in my last few hours.
                        At least they died doing something they loved doing and I'd take a small chance of death if it meant I could go into space.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                          Originally posted by PeterUK75 View Post
                          I think the reason they didn't tell them is because they couldn't do anything about it. If it was something I could fix I'd want to know but if not I'd rather not know than worry myself sick in my last few hours.
                          At least they died doing something they loved doing and I'd take a small chance of death if it meant I could go into space.
                          Not sure how old you are Peter and not really concerned about it but have you heard of a movie called Marooned? It is a 60's flick that has a shuttle like vehicle that gets stuck in orbit. They are able to get another shuttle like vehicle ready and launched in a short time. This is about 20 years prior. Do you really think they had NO ideas of how to get them down safely. Do you really think that they never thought, hey how do I get down a crew when the shuttle is too damaged to re-enter safely?

                          Why they let them take the high risk re-entry no one can say at this time but they let them basically die rather than mount a rescue.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                            The shuttle program was always incredibly risky. It was a low budget program using vessels that were not designed to be in service as long as they were. There was no rescue mission ready just in case and there usually isn't as it isn't in the budget.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                              Originally posted by JDJarvis View Post
                              The shuttle program was always incredibly risky. It was a low budget program using vessels that were not designed to be in service as long as they were. There was no rescue mission ready just in case and there usually isn't as it isn't in the budget.
                              You either miss my point or ignore it. Either way you cannot really believe they did not have a theory/idea/concept of how they would have been able to send up a rescue mission. Hollywood and the Author even before that could come up with an idea. NASA also has the experience of Apollo 13 and shows that they can think and imagine such a situation or how to fix it.

                              Also I did not say one was ready but that there was scenarios that would cover the situation. Finally it is pathetic to say it isn't in the budget to save some very brave people. How about our current deficit? I really isn't in the budget for the Federal to maintain most of the leech programs yet they do.

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