The Foam Did It!

That’s the final word from the Columbia disater investigation team. Insulation foam from the shuttle’s external fuel tank ripped a 16-inch hole in the underside of the vehicle’s left wing. Space.com, as always, has the full story.

It’s nice to see the shuttle Enterprise being of some use after all these years, parts were removed from the Smithsonian to simulate the foam impact.

Among the board’s preliminary recommendations to NASA: improve launch photography, use take spy satellites to check out orbiting spaceships, conduct better testing of wing panels, and devise an inspection and repair plan for astronauts in orbit.

The next shuttle flight (STS-114) is still under review. Rumor has it NASA would like to get this one off the ground before the year is out.

4 replies on “The Foam Did It!”

  1. jjmahoney007 says:

    I don’t think so
    I must say that I’d be a bit terrified to be the first shuttle crew after the Columbia disaster. Same with those who flew the first mission after Challenger. I’d be really hesitant to be on the next shuttle going up. Although most astronauts seem to have their heads screwed on perfectly straight, knowing the “occupational hazards”, even without a major disaster happening recently. Hearing the families of the shuttle crew saying “he knew, we all knew, the risks involved” really shows me that they know how dangerous their job is, but they do it because they love doing it. I have tons of respect for our men and women who do this, especially in the shadow of what has happened (just like our men and women in the military, police and fire departments). Godspeed!

    • nkuzmik says:

      Re: I don’t think so

      I must say that I’d be a bit terrified to be the first shuttle crew after the Columbia disaster. Same with those who flew the first mission after Challenger. I’d be really hesitant to be on the next shuttle going up. Although most astronauts seem to have their heads screwed on perfectly straight, knowing the “occupational hazards”, even without a major disaster happening recently. Hearing the families of the shuttle crew saying “he knew, we all knew, the risks involved” really shows me that they know how dangerous their job is, but they do it because they love doing it. I have tons of respect for our men and women who do this, especially in the shadow of what has happened (just like our men and women in the military, police and fire departments). Godspeed!

      I imagine that the next shuttle launch will be one the safest in history. It is really easy to look back at the evidence and point fingers, but lets look at this for a second. NASA engineers have thought of virtually every concievable thing that can go wrong. They have planned senarios out to the smallest details.

      But they’re human. They made mistakes. But now they are doing something else humans do, double, triple, and quadruple checking everything.

      I’d fly with them… assuming they would even consider out of shape grad student, with bad knees and C in calculus. :-)

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: I don’t think so
        Some idea of the astronaut’s mindset may be gleened from Roberta Bondar’s (first Canadian female astronaut, first MD in space, from my home town) comment that she started highway driving more slowly after she was accepted into the program, because she was aware of the dangers of driving fast, and didn’t want to NASA to lose their investment.

      • white.roses says:

        Re: I don’t think so

        I imagine that the next shuttle launch will be one the safest in history. It is really easy to look back at the evidence and point fingers, but lets look at this for a second. NASA engineers have thought of virtually every concievable thing that can go wrong. They have planned senarios out to the smallest details.

        But they’re human. They made mistakes. But now they are doing something else humans do, double, triple, and quadruple checking everything.

        I’d fly with them… assuming they would even consider out of shape grad student, with bad knees and C in calculus. :-)

        I seem to recall (not personally, but from reading) from the Apollo 1 congressional hearings, an astronaut attributing the catastrophe as a whole to “a failure of imagination.” It’s a dangerous job, you think and think and think about what can possibly go wrong, you prepare as best you can, but in the end, something someone didn’t think of is what goes wrong.

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