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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

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Tag: Disaster

Written by Gerald Boerner

    

    
Commentary:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb_Superstition holds that bad things happen in groups of three. If you believe that, the events of the last week fall into that pattern. on January 27th, the Apollo 1 fire took the lives of three of our astronauts. On the 28th, the Space Shuttle, Challenger, exploded just as it was about to go to full power on launch. And today, February 1st, we are covering the break up of the Space Shuttle, Columbia, the first shuttle to fly. So within a seven day period, we remember three disasters that have befallen our space program over the years.

night_space_shuttle_launch

Fortunately these disasters did not occur during one calendar week, but identifies a time of the year when they seemed to be more likely to occur. Why does this week seem to be so prone to accidents? After all, these missions were all associated with the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center complex located in southern Florida. That is not in the snow belt of the Great Lakes region nor were any of these accidents associated with hurricanes known to hit the area. So what could be the cause?

Well, for one thing, space exploration has inherent risks; it is far riskier than traveling on a scheduled airline. The fire in the Apollo 1 Command Module probably could have occurred anywhere. NASA was still experimenting with the environment, especially for the first three-man crew.

A second factor was the weather at the cape. While the area is generally known to have a warm, sunny climate. However, the nights often had low temperatures that resulted in overnight frost and the build-up of icicles. And both shuttle disasters were associated with the cold temperatures. We often still hear about a delay of a launch due to icing, a lesson learned from these disasters.

Columbia_sts-1_01

Finally, we must remain aware that these rockets ran on liquid hydrogen and oxygen. In that state, the fuel itself is at temperatures far below zero degrees Fahrenheit. That in itself can cause ice to form on the outside of the tanks, of which the shuttle launch vehicle has two. Between the ice formed on the launch platform itself and the ice on the tanks, the is a real possibility for some of this ice breaking off and damaging the insulation tiles, o-rings, and other connections.

We grieve with the families and friends of these brave astronauts who perished in this disaster. The two non-Americans had performed their assigned tasks as expected during their time in space. It was as shock to all watching, including myself, as this shuttle came in for its landing at the cape. We had seen so many of these re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere during previous flights and expected the same, routine glide of the shuttle to another safe landing. Then the disaster hit; the areas of the shuttle’s underbelly that lost its heat tiles caused the accident. We didn’t know what had happened until the announcement from mission control. While space travel has inherent risks, may we never see another scene like this!

But now let’s get started looking at the details of this Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 • Gerald Boerner • All Rights Reserved

[ 2338 Words ]
    

    

Quotations Related to Shuttle:

[ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/shuttle.html ]

    

“After the Challenger accident, NASA put in a lot of time to improve the safety of the space shuttle to fix the things that had gone wrong.”
— Sally Ride

“I will go around the space shuttle and give a guided tour of the major areas and describe what is done in each area. This will be called The Ultimate Field Trip.”
— Christa McAuliffe

“I think the Space Shuttle is worth one billion dollars a launch. I think that it is worth two billion dollars for what it does. I think the Shuttle is worth it for the work it does.”
— Pete Conrad

“I had been here five years already, training very hard, learning about the systems, the shuttle, the station systems. But, everything really became real when I started to work with them.”
— Philippe Perrin

“After the loss of Columbia a couple of years ago, I think we were reminded of the risk. All of us, though, have always known that the Space Shuttle is a very risky vehicle, much more risky than even flying airplanes in combat.”
— Mark Kelly

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoAnother disaster! While Japan has faced the combined effects of an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear core meltdowns during a single event, the U.S. has been more fortunate. As we learned yesterday, the 1964 Alaska earthquake and tsunami occurred separately from the 1979 nuclear emergency at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. None the less, the magnitude of these disasters were about the same; the results were quite different.

While our Alaska quake and tsunami resulted in only 131 deaths and the Three Mile Island emergency did not result in any deaths. The Sendai disaster in Japan is expected to be around 18,000 deaths. Several factors were different, especially the population densities of the two sites. In addition, the earthquake damaged the automatic control systems as well as the power outages that accompanied the disaster. We were lucky!

Three_Mile_Island_nuclear_power_plant

Given the increasing pressure to convert to alternate sources from carbon-based fuels, nuclear power plants are a attractive alternative. Countries like Germany who have invested heavily in nuclear power are currently evaluating their facilities and procedures to determine if their plants would survive emergencies such as those being reviewed here. I think this is a step in the right direction.

So, let’s get on to today’s exploration…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4132 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to NUCLEAR:

    

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.”
— Ronald Reagan

“A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.”
— Margaret Thatcher

“But the nuclear powers still cling tenaciously to their weapons.”
— Joseph Rotblat

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

    

    
Commentary

JerryPhotoI sat in awe as I watched the Tsunami the hit Sendai, Japan, today. To see that thirty foot high wall of water rushing over the countryside taking houses, trains, cars and any other obstacle out as it progressed. Here in Southern California we live with earthquakes of 6.0 + range, but the quake that generated today’s tsunami was an 8.9, about a thousand times more powerful than the largest one that I remember (an 7.1).

The area that generated this tsunami was about 150 miles by 500 miles in size — larger than anything that I have ever thought of. I remember seeing History Channel programs about the Dam Buster raids in the Ruhr valley during World War II. I also remember seeing the sequence in the movie, “Force 10 from Navarone,” that used the force of water from a “blown” dam to destroy a bridge that could not be taken down by explosives. Such is the power of water!

Tsunami2

The current post presents some basic facts about tsunamis for your understanding. I have included an excerpt from a Washington Post article as well as a short video of the event. Let us remember the victims and survivors of this tragedy in our prayers… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3050 Words ]
    

      

Quotations Related to TSUNAMI:

 

“Being here, it is just impossible to imagine what that was like, when the tsunami hit.”
— Connie Sellecca

“Britain can be proud of its response to the tsunami appeal.”
— Gordon Brown

“What is perhaps more worthy of note than how many tsunami dead we’ve seen, however, is how many other recent dead we have not seen.”
— Bruce Jackson

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoSuperstition holds that bad things happen in groups of three. If you believe that, the events of the last week fall into that pattern. on January 27th, the Apollo 1 fire took the lives of three of our astronauts. On the 28th, the Space Shuttle, Challenger, exploded just as it was about to go to full power on launch. And today, February 1st, we are covering the break up of the Space Shuttle, Columbia, the first shuttle to fly. So within a seven day period, we remember three disasters that have befallen our space program over the years.

Fortunately these disasters did not occur during one calendar week, but identifies a time of the year when they seemed to be more likely to occur. Why does this week seem to be so prone to accidents? After all, these missions were all associated with the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center complex located in southern Florida. That is not in the snow belt of the Great Lakes region nor were any of these accidents associated with hurricanes known to hit the area. So what could be the cause?

Well, for one thing, space exploration has inherent risks; it is far riskier than traveling on a scheduled airline. The fire in the Apollo 1 Command Module probably could have occurred anywhere. NASA was still experimenting with the environment, especially for the first three-man crew.

night_space_shuttle_launch

A second factor was the weather at the cape. While the area is generally known to have a warm, sunny climate. However, the nights often had low temperatures that resulted in overnight frost and the build-up of icicles. And both shuttle disasters were associated with the cold temperatures. We often still hear about a delay of a launch due to icing, a lesson learned from these disasters.

Finally, we must remain aware that these rockets ran on liquid hydrogen and oxygen. In that state, the fuel itself is at temperatures far below zero degrees Fahrenheit. That in itself can cause ice to form on the outside of the tanks, of which the shuttle launch vehicle has two. Between the ice formed on the launch platform itself and the ice on the tanks, the is a real possibility for some of this ice breaking off and damaging the insulation tiles, o-rings, and other connections.

Well,we cannot solve the problem of why these disasters occurred, but we can point out that perhaps the middle of winter may not be the best time to schedule a launch. Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts wit you. Please let me know what you think.

So, it’s time to explore the Columbia shuttle disaster in a little more detail…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3764 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to SHUTTLE:

    

“Every shuttle mission’s been successful.”
— Christa McAuliffe

“I’ll be the person using the shuttle robotic arm.”
— Linda M. Godwin

“I wanted to get superimposed on a shuttle launch.”
— Mark Roberts

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary

Due to injury, this commentary will be added later. Please check back. Thank you.  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 2705 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to FireFlying Embers,

“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”
— Mark Twain

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”
— Maya Angelou

“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”
— Benjamin Franklin

continue reading…