TheSultanOfWing
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Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:30 am

Hello,

10 years ago today!

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/01/us/columbia-anniversary/index.html

I read in another newspaper (not on-line) today that the crew's fate was pretty much known from day 1, as the heat shielding was way too damaged for a safe re-entry.

I don't quote, but it was something like:
"Instead of leaving the crew to worry, orbit and starve of oxygen starvation, NASA decided to have them do their job, get the results from the experiments and make it a swift ending for all astronauts upon re-entry".

Pretty powerful stuff.......is this true? I never heard this before!
Apparently there was no chance of sending a back up Shuttle to go and get them, not in time anyway.

FH
I feel like the A318 at times: I am probably worth more parted out than as a whole.
 
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Moose135
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:56 am

That doesn't sound like the other stories I read about it. From this article:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nati...arned-2003-risks-article-1.1253119

Former NASA scientist Wayne Hale is quoted as saying that ground control knew there was some damage, but that it was minor. He reports that mission operations chief John Harpold said "There is nothing we can do. If it has been damaged, it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know."

Hale goes on to say that if they knew the extent of the damage, there was likely nothing they could do, but would have made every attempt to find a solution. That's a far cry from saying they knew all along the crew was doomed.
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TheSultanOfWing
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:15 am

Quoting moose135 (Reply 1):
s:

That doesn't sound like the other stories I read about it. From this article:

Same here!

So I googled in English:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/col...0-years-accident/story?id=18360615

Quote:


"After one of the MMTs [mission management teams] when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed," Hale wrote, "[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?"

Granted, that is not quite the same as my original bit of information I posted......in the sense that they didn't know for sure.
However, they were not able to do anything about it according to this article.

Truth or Baloney?

FH
I feel like the A318 at times: I am probably worth more parted out than as a whole.
 
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Dreadnought
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:25 am

Quoting TheSultanOfWing (Thread starter):
I don't quote, but it was something like:
"Instead of leaving the crew to worry, orbit and starve of oxygen starvation, NASA decided to have them do their job, get the results from the experiments and make it a swift ending for all astronauts upon re-entry".

Pretty powerful stuff.......is this true? I never heard this before!

If NASA felt "from day one" that the shuttle was really screwed, you would have seen them A) put the crew on emergency conservation mode. By careful rationing, I'd bet the crew could survive in orbit for at least 3-4 weeks, if not more, which would give them a chance to B) make an all-hands balls-to-the-wall effort to get a second shuttle into orbit within a month to offload the crew, or C) get the Russians to launch a rescue mission or two of their own.

Let's not forget that the space station was also around, if the crew needed to get off.

Also, assuming that the Shuttle could not adjust its orbit to rendezvous with the space station, and no Shuttle or Soyuz could be launched within the allotted time period, NASA could have easily found an unmanned launch vehicle (Russian, US, or European) to launch a supply mission or two to rendezvous with Columbia, who would do an EVA to bring the supplies in.

Conclusion: If they knew early on that the shuttle had serious damage, there were alternatives available. So I say the story is bunk.
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Aesma
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:35 am

I was reading about the disaster a week ago on wikipedia, not even realizing the anniversary was coming. I had a pretty good idea of what had happened, but I discovered the part about what went on on the ground, talk about a rescue mission, a request of an EVA to go look at the damage, request of DOD hardware to look, etc., all refused.

From the wikipedia article you get the idea that what happened was pretty similar to Challenger, lots of warnings, but nobody wanting to step up.
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Dreadnought
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:52 am

Quoting Aesma (Reply 4):
From the wikipedia article you get the idea that what happened was pretty similar to Challenger, lots of warnings, but nobody wanting to step up.

Agreed. Bureaucratic mindsets had set into NASA, and everyone just a little too comfortable in their routine.
Forget dogs and cats - Spay and neuter your liberals.
 
avi
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:21 pm

I think from all the quotes the key words are:

Quote:
If it has been damaged…
IF. I don't think they knew, I don't believe for a second they knew from day 2 it is a "game over" and acted like nothing is going to happen.
During the investigation an emergency repair or rescue flight options were checked to see if they were possible.
NASA could have made a rescue flight IF so many things were ok during the rescue shuttle preparation (and very rarely everything were 100% ok during preparations) and IF the rescue flight wasn't damaged like Colombia during launch and IF … (lots of IF)

It could have been much bigger story than Apollo 13 but they thought there was no problem (or the problem was not that serious) so they decided not to tell them anything (I'm not sure it was wrong decision) and we all know how it ended. As I said, I don't believe they didn't do anything on purpose.

I don't know how future crews (after the disaster) felt when they were told a "focus inspection" of the TPS was needed (and they had the space station as a safe alternative).
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zanl188
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:29 pm

Quoting moose135 (Reply 1):
Former NASA scientist Wayne Hale is quoted as saying that ground control knew there was some damage, but that it was minor. He reports that mission operations chief John Harpold said "There is nothing we can do. If it has been damaged, it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know."

Hale goes on to say that if they knew the extent of the damage, there was likely nothing they could do, but would have made every attempt to find a solution. That's a far cry from saying they knew all along the crew was doomed.

The problem was they didn't believe the foam could put a hole in the RCC, tiles yes RCC no. If it had hit the tile I'm sure they would have figured a way to inspect the damage, much as they did on STS-27.


Hale was an engineer, and later program manager with NASA.

Probably best to just read from Mr Hales Blog:

http://waynehale.wordpress.com/

I understand he feels the press is sensationalizing his comments...
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cornutt
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:10 pm

Yeah, they suspected that there may have been tile damage, but previous analyses gave them a pretty good chance of surviving that depending on how much and where the damage was, they had a pretty good chance of surviving the reentry. The possibility of RCC damage was thought about, but the thinking was that it would not damage that, since it never had before.

I was a controller for the SPACEHAB Research Double Module which was the primary payload on that flight. Had we known that the ship was in trouble, there were ways in which we could have helped, e.g., there were extra LiOH canisters in the RDM, extra water, and some plant specimens that possibly could have been eaten. One of the guys on my shift was attending the daily mission management meetings, and the foam damage was talked about it every day and it was rather contentious. The flight controller team wanted to get some sort of inspection done, but mission management was adamantly against it. You guys probably know this, but the flight control team worked a back channel through the aforementioned Wayne Hale, who had some contacts with the Air Force, to see if they could get a recon satellite to look at it. Linda Ham found out and got it stopped.
 
jollo
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:04 am

Quoting cornutt (Reply 8):
The flight controller team wanted to get some sort of inspection done, but mission management was adamantly against it. You guys probably know this, but the flight control team worked a back channel through the aforementioned Wayne Hale, who had some contacts with the Air Force, to see if they could get a recon satellite to look at it. Linda Ham found out and got it stopped.

So, basically: NASA didn't know for sure Columbia was doomed, but NASA's management most carefully didn't want to know.
 
boacvc10
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:53 am

Quoting cornutt (Reply 8):
Linda Ham

I didn't know about this person, and found a wiki entry (cannot verify contents) which may be of interest: Wikipedia
Up, up and Away!
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:27 am

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 3):
By careful rationing, I'd bet the crew could survive in orbit for at least 3-4 weeks, if not more

They stayed for almost 16 days already and even if they were told to start rationing supplies on day 1 they couldn't stay that long because of cryo supplies, not food or water. Columbia did carry the Extended Duration Orbiter Cryogenic kit (EDO-pallet or CRYO), which did have extra fuel, but even additional fuel has limited life. Cryo is needed for life support...

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 3):
Let's not forget that the space station was also around, if the crew needed to get off.

Their orbits were very different and Columbia didn't have that much fuel to change its orbit. Its Orbiter Maneuvering System (OMS) only had fuel left for deorbit burn as not much is dumped overboard once deorbit trajectory is confirmed. Columbia also could not dock to the ISS. It did not carry docking system.

Quoting zanl188 (Reply 7):
The problem was they didn't believe the foam could put a hole in the RCC, tiles yes RCC no.

Right. Remember shocked faces after they did the actual test? This one shows the extent of damage tests proved. NASA knew nothing for sure for 5 months. http://youtu.be/7fEna8ok2z8 Worth watching, but see 9:25 mark specifically.

Quoting cornutt (Reply 8):
You guys probably know this, but the flight control team worked a back channel through the aforementioned Wayne Hale, who had some contacts with the Air Force, to see if they could get a recon satellite to look at it. Linda Ham found out and got it stopped.

I didn't know this. Thanks for sharing. Found this one on Wikipedia: Neither she nor anyone else was individually blamed in the report for the deaths of the seven Columbia astronauts, but she was singled out for exhibiting an attitude of avoiding inspection and assessment of actual shuttle damage.[http://caib.nasa.gov/news/report/pdf/vol1/chapters/chapter6.pdf] After the report's release, Ham was demoted and transferred out of her management position in the space shuttle program.

[Edited 2013-02-02 19:32:28]
 
garudaa
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:27 am

Tribute to the space warriors on this anniversary of the tragic mission :   

 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:17 am

This is what Pam Melroy had to say about the accident report she worked on: "I would say this is one of the hardest things I've ever done technically and emotionally," said NASA shuttle commander Pamela Melroy, deputy project manager of the study team. "But it was so important and I felt sure that we needed to make the best of all the knowledge we could get out of the action."

Here's the full report.
http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/caib/html/start.html
http://www.nasa.gov/columbia/caib/html/report.html
 
cornutt
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:51 am

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 11):
They stayed for almost 16 days already and even if they were told to start rationing supplies on day 1 they couldn't stay that long because of cryo supplies, not food or water. Columbia did carry the Extended Duration Orbiter Cryogenic kit (EDO-pallet or CRYO), which did have extra fuel, but even additional fuel has limited life.

Actually, some folks at JSC worked out that if they had done a bunch of powering down and gone into survival mode, like Apollo 13 did, then with the EDO kit and the extra LiOH and water in the RDM, they could have stayed on orbit for 30 days.

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 11):
Neither she nor anyone else was individually blamed in the report for the deaths of the seven Columbia astronauts

At the time of the STS-107 flight, NASA was really getting beat up by Washington about the slow pace of launching and assembling the ISS components. Without going into individual culpability any further, I will say that there was a "stay on schedule no matter what" attitude (the CAIB report mentions this), and that the mission management regarded the STS-107 flight as a distraction. And, STS-107 itself had been delayed several times because of some persistent problems with the main engine propellant plumbing. There was an attitude of wanting to just get the flight out of the way so they could get their focus back to the ISS assembly flights. (What I'm stating here is the mission management attitude. This was not shared by the flight control team, who were totally professional and dedicated to the STS-107 flight.)

I watched the launch in a payload conference room in the MCC. I saw the foam hit. At the time I didn't understand what I had seen, but I immediately had a feeling that something bad had happened. It was a feeling that I never managed to shake through the whole 16 days. I put four years of my career into the SPACEHAB RDM for that flight. The accident was more or less the end of SPACEHAB.
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:43 am

Quoting cornutt (Reply 14):
Actually, some folks at JSC worked out that if they had done a bunch of powering down and gone into survival mode, like Apollo 13 did, then with the EDO kit and the extra LiOH and water in the RDM, they could have stayed on orbit for 30 days.

Thanks for the details I obviously had no clue about.

Quoting cornutt (Reply 14):
the mission management regarded the STS-107 flight as a distraction.

This is why Wayne Hale kept repeating that culture within NASA had to change.

Quoting cornutt (Reply 14):
I watched the launch in a payload conference room in the MCC. I saw the foam hit. At the time I didn't understand what I had seen, but I immediately had a feeling that something bad had happened. It was a feeling that I never managed to shake through the whole 16 days. I put four years of my career into the SPACEHAB RDM for that flight. The accident was more or less the end of SPACEHAB.

I had a chance to visit JSC in 2006 and that's when I really started appreciating all the effort that goes into space flights. Actually I got interested in space shuttles and space flight in general after I saw what happened with STS-107.

Again, thanks for providing all the detail.
 
jollo
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:26 pm

There's an interesting article on Space.com about a yet-unidentified object drifting away from Columbia on day 2, after some orbital maneuvers: another then-missed clue about things taking a very wrong turn...
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:56 pm

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 11):
Their orbits were very different and Columbia didn't have that much fuel to change its orbit.

I've heard this as well from several other sources, not Wiki. There are a lot of NASA reports on line available if people want to dig further.

NASA also had a ground based telescope look at the Space Shuttle while it was in orbit. Dig deeper than Wiki (some of the reference links there are actually ok) and you'll find out more about the incident.

I'm not saying that NASA knew it was going to burn up on re-entry but sometimes it takes an incident like this to make them re-think how they approach problems that can occur in the program.
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BEG2IAH
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:13 am

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
I've heard this as well from several other sources, not Wiki.
Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
Dig deeper than Wiki

I used Wiki only for Linda Ham. I tend to stay away from it.   I religiously watch NASA TV and read other sources.

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 17):
There are a lot of NASA reports on line available if people want to dig further.

I posted the links in response #13. It's hard to read some of that stuff.
 
Areopagus
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:24 pm

In the fall of 1985, I saw some articles in AW&ST that gave me the willies, describing O-ring erosion that had been found in the shuttle’s SRB joints on recent flights. Surely, I thought, they would stop and resolve this hazard before any future flights. Oops.

In the fall of 2002, I saw an article in AW&ST that gave me the willies, about how a foam strike had dented the steel aft skirt of an SRB. Surely, I thought, they would fix this problem, or at the very least, they would mount Rocket-Cams on the tank looking at the orbiter, and task a couple of observers to monitor this feed so they could call an RTLS in the case of leading-edge damage. Oops. How could they possibly think foam couldn’t break the RCC, given that it had been known to dent the steel skirt? (Well, I think the answer to that is that they didn’t believe foam could get as far from the tank as the orbiter wing.)

Working for a NASA contractor, my daughter did a required safety analysis of some of the experimental equipment on STS-107. This included procedures to be followed in case of severe problems with the orbiter, to effectively and safely (to the humans) kill the lab animals and shut down inessential systems to stretch out supplies to hold out until a rescue mission could be mounted. Clearly, someone within NASA was thinking about rescue scenarios before the flight.
 
cornutt
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:22 am

Quoting Areopagus (Reply 19):
Well, I think the answer to that is that they didn’t believe foam could get as far from the tank as the orbiter wing.

There was something about where that particular bit of foam came from. I've fogotten the details, but it was from an area of the tank near the forward attach strut that was not thought to be subject to high aerodynamic loads. The EPA had made Martin Marietta change the formulation of the foam, and the reformulated foam was less pliable and more brittle than the old foam, and it had been causing a lot of problems with tile strikes on previous flights. The ironic thing is that, after the analysis of the accident was complete, MSFC did an assessment that concluded that foaming that particular area wasn't actually necessary.

I should write something about my experiences with that flight. As I said, I spent four years working on preparing for it. Would anyone here be interested in seeing that?
 
Areopagus
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:25 am

Quoting cornutt (Reply 20):
Would anyone here be interested in seeing that?

I would.
 
zkeye
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:50 am

Quoting cornutt (Reply 20):
Would anyone here be interested in seeing that?

So would I. I have found this thread fascinating and appreciate your insight and input into it.
Bring out the gimp
 
cornutt
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:44 am

Thanks guys... I'll do a first installment this weekend.
 
TheSultanOfWing
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:05 pm

Quoting cornutt (Reply 23):
Thanks guys... I'll do a first installment this weekend.

Please do! Interesting!

FH
I feel like the A318 at times: I am probably worth more parted out than as a whole.
 
canoecarrier
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:52 pm

Quoting BEG2IAH (Reply 18):
I posted the links in response #13. It's hard to read some of that stuff.

No disrespect meant. And, yes it is hard to read some of that stuff.

Quoting Areopagus (Reply 21):
I would.

I'll third that.
The beatings will continue until morale improves
 
BEG2IAH
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RE: Columbia Disaster 10 Years Ago, Was Fate Known?

Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:20 pm

Quoting canoecarrier (Reply 25):
No disrespect meant. And, yes it is hard to read some of that stuff.

No worries at all.

Quoting cornutt (Reply 20):
Would anyone here be interested in seeing that?

I'm glad you offered it first. I was about to ask.  

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