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WP: Despite Efforts, Debris Still Issue (task force warned NASA June 28)

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:19 AM
Original message
WP: Despite Efforts, Debris Still Issue (task force warned NASA June 28)
Despite Efforts, Debris Is Still an Issue
Cameras Caught Failure of Numerous Tests to Prevent 'Foam Shedding'

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 28, 2005; Page A17


Twenty-nine months ago, a loosened piece of fuel-tank foam insulation weighing 1.67 pounds struck the wing of the ascending space shuttle Columbia at a speed of more than 500 mph, precipitating the destruction of the vehicle and its crew when it reentered the atmosphere nearly two weeks later.

The disaster on Feb. 1, 2003, gave rise to an extensive effort by NASA to avoid another instance of "foam shedding" from the insulation that is sprayed on the fuel tank to keep its volatile hydrogen and oxygen fuel in a supercooled, liquid state. Technicians were retrained, and some foam was simply eliminated.

The loss of a substantial chunk of foam during Tuesday's launch of the shuttle Discovery starkly demonstrated that this effort failed. But it was hardly a surprise.

A task force established by NASA to monitor the agency's safety improvements after the 2003 disaster concluded on June 28 that the agency "did not meet" the requirement of a team of accident investigators that the agency "eliminate all . . . debris shedding." It noted pointedly that the external fuel tank, attached by metal struts to the shuttle during its violent launch, "still sheds debris that could potentially cripple an orbiter."

A crippling event apparently did not occur Tuesday, but the recurrence of substantial foam shedding caused NASA to recalculate its estimate of the risks of continuing to fly the shuttles without first trying harder to fix the foam problem....


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
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htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. Why are they just starting to have this problem?
And don't say because it's old. The pieces that are falling off are not from parts that are reused -- the foam is new for each launch.

What changed?

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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. The Helms-Burton law is why.
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 09:43 AM by Mika
I was watching the Columbia investigation hearings.

NASA engineers testified that the glue used to be supplied by the only company that could make a product with a wide enough range of temerature/stress variation to fill the bill. A small Canadian glue manufacturer. This small company was purchased by a larger Canadian corporation that does some unrelated trade with Cuba. The Helms-Burton law forbids the US gov from doing biz with any company that does any biz with Cuba.

NASA requested an exemption to this law because the glue was critical. No go. The embargo on Cuba is more important than the shuttle program. NASA used up their stock supply of this glue and had to switch to a lesser adhesive.

As usual, the MSM has buried this fact.


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Tommymac Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 09:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. WTF!!!!!
Do you have a link to this article? I want to send it to my Reps and Senators to let them know we are aware of this.

:wtf:
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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. No link. I saw/heard this testimony on CSPAN with my own eyes/ears
Edited on Thu Jul-28-05 10:05 AM by Mika
Sorry.

I'm sure it is buried within the massive volumes of the testimony, but it is not mentioned in the report. Curious, yes?


BTW, I posted a thread on DU on the day of this testimony and several DUers also saw it. I think the thread was titled "The shuttle was brought down by Cuban embargo" or something close to that title.

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GregW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Link
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IthinkThereforeIAM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Yes, I recall that...

... tidbit of news. Thanks for the refresher!
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flannelmouth Donating Member (27 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
6. Freon foam
According to NASA engineer Greg Katnik, the 1997 tile incident was traced to an important change in the shuttle foam. Prior to 1997, the foam was made using Freon. After Freon was banned because of concerns about its potential to deplete the ozone layer, NASA switched to a new kind of "environmentally safe" foam. A 1997 report by Katnik described photographs that showed massive amounts of foam missing from the fuel tank after launch. If the new foam helped protect the ozone layer, its impact would be so tiny as to be immeasurable. The possibility remains that its impact on Columbia could have brought down the shuttle. NASA hopes that recovering key fragments of the left wing will provide vital clues to what happened. Those fragments might be very difficult to find if they are what people saw separating from Columbia over California and Arizona.

http://www.sas.org/E-Bulletin/2003-02-21/features/body....
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Thanks for posting, flannelmouth -- and welcome to DU!
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don954 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 06:55 PM
Response to Original message
9. what i dont understand, is why dont they just shrink-wrap the
stuff in Mylar like they used to do in the old days? Then nothing would be falling off.
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