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Tag: Space Shuttle

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

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

    

    
Commentary:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumb_thumb_I remember that day back in 1986, when we were watching the launch Christa McAuliffe, the first educator, into space. Then we watched in horror and unbelief when the Challenger exploded a little over a minute into the flight. This was a sobering time and a time for national mourning, not dissimilar to the aftermath of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, and others. We were all in pain, we all grieved. But today, let’s look back upon the space program and the brave men and women who participated both as astronauts and in the ground crew. We take our “hats” off and thank them for their bravery and willingness to serve on the forefront of our country’s quest of space.

Challenger_flight_51l_crew

In recent history we have witnessed first-hand the explosion shortly after clearing the launch pad of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986. This event sent shutters through our bodies in a fashion similar to that that most of us did as we watched Neil Armstrong take those first steps on the moon in 1969. But this time, the reaction was not from the joyful sharing of an event of great import for all mankind, it came from the realization that the entire Challenger crew perished in the explosion. In just a few seconds, we saw the lift-off of the shuttle from the launch pad followed by a puff of white smoke that could be seen when the shuttle broke apart, with different large chunks going in different directions.

At the time, I was working for a school district and witnessed the event “real time,” not on video tape on the evening news. All educators were thrilled by the fact that one of our own, a high school teacher from New England, Christa McAuliffe, was travelling into space. She would be the first civilian to make such a voyage. She was prepared to carry out a number of educational experiments during her time in space and was being followed by schools across the country. But the voice of the TV commentator soon informed us that something terrible had happened a few seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

420-challenger-crew-1986_imgcache_rev1327533423147

Then we witnessed the debris from the shuttle fall from the sky. With that debris were the bodies of the seven shuttle astronauts. There was no escape. This incident resulted in a suspension of future shuttle flights until the cause of the accident had been determined and remedied. And it turned out that the cause was due to the failure of an O-Ring that cost just a few dollars. After this tragedy, both the equipment checks before launch and the launch procedures themselves were changed. A major cause of the O-Ring failure was the launch in the early morning hours in freezing weather. Ice had been an ever-present hazard to all launches from Cape Canaveral over the years; each crew breathed a sigh of relief when their vehicle had cleared the launch tower. Procedures were instituted that prevented launch until ice would no longer be a hazard.

We now will proceed to examine this event in history in more detail... GLB

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

[ 3472 Words ]
    

    

Quotations Related to (Space) Shuttle:

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

    

“I can remember in early elementary school when the Russians launched the first satellite. There was still so much unknown about space. People thought Mars was probably populated.”
— Christa McAuliffe

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
— Rick Husband

“When you look at the stars and the galaxy, you feel you are not just from any particular piece of land, but from the solar system.”
— Laurel Clark

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…