Lorenzo von Matterhorn
- Jan 31, 2009
- Reaction score
Could the Crew of Columbia Have Been Rescued?
Not "a broken tile". An entire leading edge RCC panel was smashed. A ground test firing real foam, of the actual size of the piece that broke off, at real velocity, aimed at a real RCC panel (taken from Enterprise) produced a "basketball sized hole" in it. Until THAT test was done, some NASA people thought that the shuttle could fly thru a mountain-sized piece of foam and survived (Well, I exaggerate... a bit. The attitude was "it's just foam", as though there could never be a big enough piece to hit just the wrong place at high velocity to cause fatal damage. Never mind that if one of those people was hit in the head by a piece of foam at that size and mass and velocity , that "just foam" would have not left much above their shoulders. I mean, really they clung to that "it's just foam" mantra until the test months later, and even then a few still did not believe that they could ever be wrong) .This is the disaster that was caused by the broken tile?
Do they knew they had a problem but figured let's chance it kind of attitude and see what happens? I'm not sure on the events it was long ago but were any type of repairs done at all?Here is Endeavor's wing where Columbia's failed, the join between the 7th and 8th grey leading edge Re-enforced Carbon carbon (RCC).
As I understand it, there is no consensus as to the size of the hole/damage. That area of the wing gets VERY hot during re-entry, the reason for using the RCC leading edge sections. Unfortunately RCC is relatively fragile, but has excellent thermal properties. It was an engineering compromise.
If I remember properly from the accident reports published in Aviation Week after the report, there was a theoretical re-entry procedure that might have saved the crew. Columbia would have had to re-enter in a slight crab, using the body of the shuttle to lessen the heating on the damaged RCC area. This would have put much higher stress on the shuttle causing it to be grounded after it landed, If it succeeded in landing.
The telemetry showed the progress of the burn through in the wing with temp sensors, I believe the last was an over temp in the landing gear bay just before the wing failed. Corresponding to the temp data, the auto-pilot was making corrections up until failure due the the increased drag caused by the progressing burn through.
All in all, a very sad day for NASA.
This is all from memory, so take it as such. Others here probably know better.
Everything about space flight is dangerous, it's all about risk management. If they had known then, what we know now, they would have done things differently.If they knew there was damage and didn't try to do a rescue its murder. They could have done something.
It dosen't take a whole lot of smarts to think of a rescue. Yes it would have been very difficult to do.Everything about space flight is dangerous, it's all about risk management. If they had known then, what we know now, they would have done things differently.
Hindsight produces 20/20 vision.
Nope, I think even Hindsight is 20/40 at best, and that’s for people that even BOTHER to study history.Hindsight produces 20/20 vision.
Only in the movies. Read that wikipedia article -- maybe they should have realized how bad the odds were, but they didn't.If they knew there was damage and didn't try to do a rescue its murder. They could have done something.
Scary indeed and timely that you should mention that. I just finished reading a book written by Frederick Libby entitled "Horses Don't Fly". It's an awesome book.Also remember, history books are generally written by the winners. Had we LOST WW2, we might be reading something’s quite differently (and possibly in German or Japanese!). Scary.
It was one hell of a workhorse but as far as crew safety bad news. No way to escape on the way up, designed with fragile components that if damaged to a certain extent no way to survive re-entry.The real issue was with the whole design of the shuttle. Putting the crew next to the SRBs and the main tank is what caused both fatal accidents. Landing like an airplane is a romantic notion that caused a huge amount of extra complexity, cost, and risk.
I’m not sure that Gorilla Glue would hold up during reentry.Tape and drop glue in trough
Wipe off excess. All the glue is now on wrong side, but wait
Slide in place
Tape over joint, burnish over joint
Set up root side DOWN, so glue will run back down from back side to joint
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Was the Shuttle Crew ever informed, by NASA, that there had been a Wing Impact, during launch ?They knew a large chunk of foam had hit the wing. No repairs were thought necessary at the time by NASA management.
Yes, they were informed but trusted NASA's conclusions that the foam was little threat.Was the Shuttle Crew ever informed, by NASA, that there had been a Wing Impact, during launch ?
If the answer is "yes", why was no EVA done to evaluate the damage ?
If I were the Shuttle Commander, we WOULD have done an EVA, had I been informed . . . "Houston, we have a hole in the Leading Edge of the Port Wing, the size of a BRIEFCASE" ! ! !
I think a combined NASA / RUSSIA ( multiple Soyuz launches ) Rescue Mission could have pulled it off, safely . . .