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Talk about tough management decisions...

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  • #16
    Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

    Originally posted by Wlessard View Post
    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.
    Real life isn't ficition, its constrained by reality as known to everyone present. There was no rescue mission possible, plain and simple. There was no way to sit and wait or to find a safe haven, the only chance was risking rentry.

    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.
    They simply didn't have the resources to launch a rescue, there was nothing getting there on time, it had to be ready or it simply wasn't going to be there to help. While the budget of NASA may seem huge its a shoestring budget. The truth of it is the government decided it was worth risking astronaut lives with the budget they had. Its amazing there were so few deaths in the US space program.

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    • #17
      Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

      Well than we need to get busy with programs and plans to rescue future astronauts. If we cannot afford the rescue, don't send em into space.

      At least NASA USED to be honest with their men. Like apollo mission 13. If NASA knew the shuttle was to burn, they should have informed those people in that shuttle. People face their own death each day in this nation, the ones dying of cancer. What's next? We don't tell these people they are about to die? Let it surprise em, before they can get right with their creator if they believe in one? Those shuttle folks should have been allowed to at least PRAY and to make peace with their possible deaths. This would not have been a hard choice at all for me. I would have told them, out of respect. Everyone of us has to die, sooner or later. I want some time to prepare for my own, and not that it find me in great surprise. We owe this to each human being. It is a common responsibility that originates from the respect for human life.

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      • #18
        Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

        When would you have told them ? One day to go? 1 hour, 5 minutes? If they indeed were fairly certain of death being a likely option they should have been told...but when?

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        • #19
          Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

          Originally posted by JDJarvis View Post
          When would you have told them ? One day to go? 1 hour, 5 minutes? If they indeed were fairly certain of death being a likely option they should have been told...but when?
          Lets pass a law, no doctor is allowed to tell a patient they may die or they are going to die. Apparently it is okay for Doctors to tell 1000's and more people every year they are going to die but tell 7 intelligent, well educated people they are going to die is a no no.

          As for any chance, they thought Apollo 13 was going to be a death ship but they still tried. What happened after that, did everyone get their balls cut.

          JD I understand, you are a Scientist and specialize in space exploration right? While you may have inside knowledge of every working part of a Shuttle and I don't I guess you are the authority that there was nothing to be done. I am more inclined to believe that there are plans on the books for what to do.

          Also you misinterpret my statements, either because you don't have a clue what I am saying or you have no ability to imagine. I said basically that if someone 20 years earlier can conceive of the situation where a spacecraft is in trouble in orbit then so can some of the brightest minds in our country. Your stance that there was no possibility shows your total lack of imagination. It also shows a dogged determination to stick to talking points like position and reject out of hand without explanation.

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          • #20
            Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

            We will go through hell and highwater to rescue our military men left behind. But not spacemen?

            Some say we can't do it. I will just say what my grandpa told me about "can't. He said years ago can't sit down on a log to take a crap. He fell back into his own crap and died. So can't doesn't exist. He died. So we are only left with "won't" and that is not acceptable.

            NASA needs a rescue program because in the future we will continue space travel.

            And apparently if we are in contact with ETs, we are not on good terms with em. Otherwise we would have got em to rescue the shuttle and her crew.
            Last edited by Lutherf; 02-04-2013, 06:07 AM. Reason: removed duplicate

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            • #21
              Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

              I'm aware the quickest it takes to load up a ready space shuttle is 3 weeks. There wasn't one ready to load. There wasn't room on the international space station (even if they had the fuel to get there). There wasn't air to breath waiting for rescue. There was no rescue plan for the moon landing, all we had planned was last rights, a speech from the president and turning off communications so we wouldn't have to listen to them die or commit suicide.
              The Columbia mission may have been doomed from launch but were they certain? When was it decided there was no chance and death was the most likely outcome, tbe closer we come to planned re-entry to reach that conclussion there was less that could have been done.

              Ficition 20 years ago is not reality now.

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              • #22
                Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                I don't think there is anything in this 248-page report that suggests that the ground control was aware of the extent of the risks of reentry because of the damage.

                Who are you going to believe? Some website whose core business is flashy headlines, or the experts?

                About rescue:

                ====================================

                (underlining is mine)

                NASA - Report of Columbia Accident Investigation Board, Volume I

                6.4 POSSIBILITY OF RESCUE OR REPAIR

                To put the decisions made during the flight of STS-107 into perspective, the Board asked NASA to determine if there were options for the safe return of the STS-107 crew. In this study, NASA was to assume that the extent of damage to the leading edge of the left wing was determined by national imaging assets or by a spacewalk. NASA was then asked to evaluate the possibility of:

                1. Rescuing the STS-107 crew by launching Atlantis. Atlantis would be hurried to the pad, launched, rendezvous with Columbia, and take on Columbiaʼs crew for a return. It was assumed that NASA would be willing to expose Atlantis and its crew to the same possibility of External Tank bipod foam loss that damaged Columbia.

                2. Repairing damage to Columbiaʼs wing on orbit. In the repair scenario, astronauts would use onboard materials to rig a temporary fix. Some of Columbiaʼs cargo might be jettisoned and a different re-entry profile would be flown to lessen heating on the left wing leading edge. The crew would be prepared to bail out if the wing structure was predicted to fail on landing.

                In its study of these two options, NASA assumed the following timeline. Following the debris strike discovery on Flight Day Two, Mission Managers requested imagery by Flight Day Three. That imagery was inconclusive, leading to a decision on Flight Day Four to perform a spacewalk on Flight Day Five. That spacewalk revealed potentially catastrophic damage. The crew was directed to begin conserving consumables, such as oxygen and water, and Shuttle managers began around-the-clock processing of Atlantis to prepare it for launch. Shuttle managers pursued both the rescue and the repair options from Flight Day Six to Flight Day 26, and on that day (February 10) decided which one to abandon.

                The NASA team deemed this timeline realistic for several reasons. First, the team determined that a spacewalk to inspect the left wing could be easily accomplished. The team then assessed how the crew could limit its use of consumables to determine how long Columbia could stay in orbit. The limiting consumable was the lithium hydroxide canisters, which scrub from the cabin atmosphere the carbon dioxide the crew exhales. After consulting with flight surgeons, the team concluded that by modifying crew activity and sleep time carbon dioxide could be kept to acceptable levels until Flight Day 30 (the morning of February 15). All other consumables would last longer. Oxygen, the next most critical, would require the crew to return on Flight Day 31.

                Repairing Damage On Orbit

                The repair option (see Figure 6.4-1), while logistically viable using existing materials onboard Columbia, relied on so many uncertainties that NASA rated this option “high risk.” To complete a repair, the crew would perform a spacewalk to fill an assumed 6-inch hole in an RCC panel with heavy metal tools, small pieces of titanium, or other metal scavenged from the crew cabin. These heavy metals, which would help protect the wing structure, would be held in place during re-entry by a water-filled bag that had turned into ice in the cold of space. The ice and metal would help restore wing leading edge geometry, preventing a turbulent airflow over the wing and therefore keeping heating and burn-through levels low enough for the crew to survive re-entry and bail out before landing. Because the NASA team could not verify that the repairs would survive even a modified re-entry, the rescue option had a considerably higher chance of bringing Columbiaʼs crew back alive.

                Rescuing the STS-107 Crew with Atlantis

                Accelerating the processing of Atlantis for early launch and rendezvous with Columbia was by far the most complex task in the rescue scenario. On Columbiaʼs Flight Day Four, Atlantis was in the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center with its main engines installed and only 41 days from its scheduled March 1 launch. The Solid Rocket Boosters were already mated with the External Tank in the Vehicle Assembly Building. By working three around-the-clock shifts seven days a week, Atlantis could be readied for launch, with no necessary testing skipped, by February 10. If launch processing and countdown proceeded smoothly, this would provide a five-day window, from February 10 to February 15, in which Atlantis could rendezvous with Columbia before Columbiaʼs consumables ran out. According to records, the weather on these days allowed a launch. Atlantis would be launched with a crew of four: a commander, pilot, and two astronauts trained for spacewalks. In January, seven commanders, seven pilots, and nine spacewalk-trained astronauts were available. During the rendezvous on Atlantisʼs first day in orbit, the two Orbiters would maneuver to face each other with their payload bay doors open (see Figure 6.4-2). Suited Columbia crew members would then be transferred to Atlantis via spacewalks. Atlantis would return with four crew members on the flight deck and seven in the mid-deck. Mission Control would then configure Columbia for a de-orbit burn that would ditch the Orbiter in the Pacific Ocean, or would have the Columbia crew take it to a higher orbit for a possible subsequent repair mission if more thorough repairs could be developed.

                This rescue was considered challenging but feasible. To succeed, it required problem-free processing of Atlantis and a flawless launch countdown. If Program managers had understood the threat that the bipod foam strike posed and were able to unequivocally determine before Flight Day Seven that there was potentially catastrophic damage to the left wing, these repair and rescue plans would most likely have been developed, and a rescue would have been conceivable. For a detailed discussion of the rescue and repair options, see Appendix D.13.

                Findings:
                F6.4-1 The repair option, while logistically viable using existing materials onboard Columbia, relied on so many uncertainties that NASA rated this option “high risk.”
                F6.4-2 If Program managers were able to unequivocally determine before Flight Day Seven that there was potentially catastrophic damage to the left wing, accelerated processing of Atlantis might have provided a window in which Atlantis could rendezvous with Columbia before Columbiaʼs limited consumables ran out.
                Last edited by erikvv; 02-03-2013, 11:39 AM.

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                • #23
                  Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                  Originally posted by Wlessard View Post
                  JD I understand, you are a Scientist and specialize in space exploration right? While you may have inside knowledge of every working part of a Shuttle and I don't I guess you are the authority that there was nothing to be done. I am more inclined to believe that there are plans on the books for what to do.
                  You see, I have no working knowledge of any part of a Shuttle and I'm not a specialist in space exploration and I'm inclined to believe that both NASA as an organization and the austronauts themslves recognized that flying into space and back was an inherently risky undertaking and that they'd all made peace with the fact that Shuttles had blowed the fuck up before, and that it was only a matter of time before it happened again.

                  I don't think that anyone, neither on the ground nor in the air/space wanted that to happen, and I'm sure they were all commited to doing everything within reason and within their power to eliminate risk and prevent a catastrophe in so far as they were able, but I also think that there was probably some "line in the sand" imposed by budget, or capabilities, or availability of spare parts, or any number of things beyond which they all agreed they were powerless to affect a quickly deteriorating situation.

                  I agree with you that there are almost certainly "plans on the books for what to do" but I would hazard to guess that in some situations the plan is to "bend over and kiss your ass goodbye".

                  I've read that it was possible that the Shuttle Atlantis could have, technically speaking, been rushed through it's pre-flight list of checks and preperations without sacrificing any necessary safety checks and would have been able to be in space in order to rescue the Columbia crew before the latter's supplies ran out.

                  And it's true that on a strict timeline basis that could have been made to happen (assuming nothing was detected that would have grounded Atlantis).

                  But it ignores the fact that the foam-shedding deficency that led to Columbia's wing being damaged in the fisrt place was a deficency that had been observed in several preceding Shuttle launches. The difference between this and prior launches was that Columbia was the first time that the shed foam caused serious damage to the spacecraft.

                  There was no guarantee that Atlantis wouldn't have been damaged in a similar fashion, or worse, and either failed during launch or been left lingering up in space with damage similar to what was imperiling Columbia.

                  You've got to consider that the problem Columbia was suffering wasn't "organic" to the Columbia vehicle but was rather a consequence of a flaw in the design of the launch mechanisim, the same mechanisim that Atlantis would had to have relied upon if she were to launch.

                  So say that you're in charge of calling the shots now.

                  There is something that you can do, right? You can launch Atlantis in time to save the crew of Columbia.

                  But you don't have time to redesign and rebuild the whole launch mechanisim so you have to decide, right now, whether you endanger another Shuttle, and the crew of another Shuttle, by sending them up via a launch mechanisim that has proven in the past that it isn't 100% reliable and that has just proven that given the right confluence of circumstances it is capable of potentially catastrophically damaging your vehicle.

                  What do you do?

                  Say "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead", and play chicken with seven more lives and several billions of dollars worth of equipment?

                  Or do you err on the side of caution and let the Columbia attempt reentry (with the understanding that you don't really know at the time that the damn thing is going to disintegrate) thus only endangering one vehicle and crew (which by all accounts was already in some degree of danger)?

                  I think that you're expecting too much from NASA, NASA management, and the people who would have had to put their lives on the line to effect some sort of rescue operation.

                  If the issue was something completly related to Columbia, and NASA was certain that Atlantis wasn't suffering from a similar deficency, then I might be right there with you calling bullshit.

                  But for all intents and purposes the deficency that doomed Columbia was a deficency that Atlantis shared and in saving the former you would, of logical necessity, have to take a chance of imperiling the latter.

                  I wouldn't have done it.

                  Also you misinterpret my statements, either because you don't have a clue what I am saying or you have no ability to imagine. I said basically that if someone 20 years earlier can conceive of the situation where a spacecraft is in trouble in orbit then so can some of the brightest minds in our country. Your stance that there was no possibility shows your total lack of imagination. It also shows a dogged determination to stick to talking points like position and reject out of hand without explanation.
                  I've also read that the other option was to have the Columbia astronauts do an unscheduled and untrained for emergency spacewalk onto the wing to inspect for damage and if they encountered a situation that they thought would pose a serious risk during reentry they could have tried to patch up that damage with scraps of metal they found laying around within the vehicle, bags of ice, Duct tape, chewing gum, and packing string.

                  There was no guarantee that their jury-rigged patch job wouldn't have effected the aerodynamics of the vehicle in a manner that it would have been more dangerous than simply leaving things as they were and making the attempt to reenter.

                  So what do you do in that case?

                  You suspect that the vehicle might have been damaged but you don't know how baddly or if, in fact, there was any serious damage at all. It's been discussed but nothing definitive has been established.

                  Do you tell those folks to do a risky, untrained maneuver that could potentially result in one or more of their deaths? What if you find out afterwards that one of them died in order to learn that the damage wasn't serious at all?

                  What if none of them die but they are able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that there is chatastrophic damage to the vehicle?

                  Now you know for sure that you can't take the chance of sending Atlantis up so you do what? Tell them to patch it with bags of ice and best of luck and all that?

                  What if bags of ice are the exact wrong thing to do (though really your only option)?

                  This whole situation was fucked six ways from Sunday and if there's anything I'm convinced of its that the folks personally invloved, both in space and on the ground, were professionals and that they did the best they thought they could do with what was available to them.

                  It's a tragedy that those people died but they died doing something dangerous and something that they loved. They did it knowing the danger of their job and in spite of the danger. perhaps, even if only in some small way, partially because of the danger.

                  I think you expect far too much.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                    Mike Mullane's book Riding Rockets addresses this issue. The book is an amazing look inside the astronaut program in the shuttle era.

                    To sum it up, the astronauts all knew that this sort of decision was possible, because it had happened before:

                    On John Glenn's Mercury mission the MCC had an instrument indication that his heatshield hey Congress from his counsel, but they kept the information from him. Since there was absolutely nothing to do about a loose heat shield, and, if it was loose, he was going to dying, the reason there was no reason to tell him the truth. Without giving an explanation, they had instructed Glenn not to jettison his retrorocket pack in hopes it's retention would help keep a loose heat shield in place.
                    One thing to consider here is that the imagery from the camera on the arm sent back to ground control was not very good. During one of his flights on Atlantis, Mullane experienced the tile damage issue firsthand. Atlantis suffered some tile damage during launch when a part of the main tank struck the orbiter. They surveyed the damage with the arm and camera, and while it looked bad to the crew on board, mission control evaluated it and declared it safe. On inspecting the orbiter after landing, they found 700 damaged tiles. The camera resolution was not sufficient to detect much of the damage while they were in orbit.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                      Originally posted by soot View Post
                      You see, I have no working knowledge of any part of a Shuttle and I'm not a specialist in space exploration and I'm inclined to believe that both NASA as an organization and the austronauts themslves recognized that flying into space and back was an inherently risky undertaking and that they'd all made peace with the fact that Shuttles had blowed the fuck up before, and that it was only a matter of time before it happened again.

                      I don't think that anyone, neither on the ground nor in the air/space wanted that to happen, and I'm sure they were all commited to doing everything within reason and within their power to eliminate risk and prevent a catastrophe in so far as they were able, but I also think that there was probably some "line in the sand" imposed by budget, or capabilities, or availability of spare parts, or any number of things beyond which they all agreed they were powerless to affect a quickly deteriorating situation.

                      I agree with you that there are almost certainly "plans on the books for what to do" but I would hazard to guess that in some situations the plan is to "bend over and kiss your ass goodbye".

                      I've read that it was possible that the Shuttle Atlantis could have, technically speaking, been rushed through it's pre-flight list of checks and preperations without sacrificing any necessary safety checks and would have been able to be in space in order to rescue the Columbia crew before the latter's supplies ran out.

                      And it's true that on a strict timeline basis that could have been made to happen (assuming nothing was detected that would have grounded Atlantis).

                      But it ignores the fact that the foam-shedding deficency that led to Columbia's wing being damaged in the fisrt place was a deficency that had been observed in several preceding Shuttle launches. The difference between this and prior launches was that Columbia was the first time that the shed foam caused serious damage to the spacecraft.

                      There was no guarantee that Atlantis wouldn't have been damaged in a similar fashion, or worse, and either failed during launch or been left lingering up in space with damage similar to what was imperiling Columbia.

                      You've got to consider that the problem Columbia was suffering wasn't "organic" to the Columbia vehicle but was rather a consequence of a flaw in the design of the launch mechanisim, the same mechanisim that Atlantis would had to have relied upon if she were to launch.

                      So say that you're in charge of calling the shots now.

                      There is something that you can do, right? You can launch Atlantis in time to save the crew of Columbia.

                      But you don't have time to redesign and rebuild the whole launch mechanisim so you have to decide, right now, whether you endanger another Shuttle, and the crew of another Shuttle, by sending them up via a launch mechanisim that has proven in the past that it isn't 100% reliable and that has just proven that given the right confluence of circumstances it is capable of potentially catastrophically damaging your vehicle.

                      What do you do?

                      Say "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead", and play chicken with seven more lives and several billions of dollars worth of equipment?

                      Or do you err on the side of caution and let the Columbia attempt reentry (with the understanding that you don't really know at the time that the damn thing is going to disintegrate) thus only endangering one vehicle and crew (which by all accounts was already in some degree of danger)?

                      I think that you're expecting too much from NASA, NASA management, and the people who would have had to put their lives on the line to effect some sort of rescue operation.

                      If the issue was something completly related to Columbia, and NASA was certain that Atlantis wasn't suffering from a similar deficency, then I might be right there with you calling bullshit.

                      But for all intents and purposes the deficency that doomed Columbia was a deficency that Atlantis shared and in saving the former you would, of logical necessity, have to take a chance of imperiling the latter.

                      I wouldn't have done it.



                      I've also read that the other option was to have the Columbia astronauts do an unscheduled and untrained for emergency spacewalk onto the wing to inspect for damage and if they encountered a situation that they thought would pose a serious risk during reentry they could have tried to patch up that damage with scraps of metal they found laying around within the vehicle, bags of ice, Duct tape, chewing gum, and packing string.

                      There was no guarantee that their jury-rigged patch job wouldn't have effected the aerodynamics of the vehicle in a manner that it would have been more dangerous than simply leaving things as they were and making the attempt to reenter.

                      So what do you do in that case?

                      You suspect that the vehicle might have been damaged but you don't know how baddly or if, in fact, there was any serious damage at all. It's been discussed but nothing definitive has been established.

                      Do you tell those folks to do a risky, untrained maneuver that could potentially result in one or more of their deaths? What if you find out afterwards that one of them died in order to learn that the damage wasn't serious at all?

                      What if none of them die but they are able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that there is chatastrophic damage to the vehicle?

                      Now you know for sure that you can't take the chance of sending Atlantis up so you do what? Tell them to patch it with bags of ice and best of luck and all that?

                      What if bags of ice are the exact wrong thing to do (though really your only option)?

                      This whole situation was fucked six ways from Sunday and if there's anything I'm convinced of its that the folks personally invloved, both in space and on the ground, were professionals and that they did the best they thought they could do with what was available to them.

                      It's a tragedy that those people died but they died doing something dangerous and something that they loved. They did it knowing the danger of their job and in spite of the danger. perhaps, even if only in some small way, partially because of the danger.

                      I think you expect far too much.

                      I would have told them. I would have outlined what we on the ground had for possibilities. I can probably in the space of a few hours come up with at least a dozen ways that something could be done. Not telling them and making it a sudden OMG moment was in my opinion the worst thing to do. Give them a chance to come up with ideas and make the decision themselves would have been much better. Either way NASA has become a joke.

                      Among other things, the astronauts are all trained in EVA. They know how to use the tools available. Maybe one of them could come up with a plan. Maybe someone on the ground could have if they had known. Also if you think back to the Apollo 13 you should remember basically they fixed the problem with spit, duct tape and bailing wire, not exactly but not much more than that. One of the biggest halmarks of human beings is their ingenuity and ability to think outside the box during a crisis. I know for a fact that at the time they had several of the Saturn 5 rockets available. A quick idea off the top of my head. Send up repair supplies by rocket and use the swing arm of the shuttle to catch the payload and real it in. No different than grabbing or releasing a satellite. Give me a couple more hours and I can come up with many more ways than just sending a shuttle up.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Talk about tough management decisions...

                        Supply rocket? What supply rocket?

                        Eva ... in a suit with no propellent system over to a blind section of the vessel with no handholds, incredbly risky as it requires one person to let loose from the shuttle and have the shuttle do the manuvering, just to get better tthen camera analysis.

                        The appollo 13 scenario where alternative solutions were explored is based on extended research before the indicent it didn't all happen when the mission was in danger as shown in fiction

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