[LINK] Finally up to date on the Shuttle

Jan Whitaker jwhit@melbpc.org.au
Mon, 03 Feb 2003 07:47:09 +1100

At 10:47 PM 2/02/03 +1000, Ann Moffatt wrote:
>i worry that the yanks don't seem to learn lessons. they say they noticed a
>bit fall off on launch. i wonder if they informed the shuttle crew or had
>the damage inspected.
>my gut feel would be that they held numerous meetings of 'top brass' at hq &
>decided not to tell anyone in case they'd have the program stopped, just
>like they did with challenger when they noticed a little puff of smoke on
>takeoff. according to feynman's findings at the enquiry, they knew with 14%
>probability that the o-rings would fail and still they hushed it up.

That's probably all true, but there was something an engineer said 
yesterday:  even if they had inspected it, they had no way to repair 
it.  Given that the tiles have always always always been a problem, it's a 
wonder they hadn't come up with some sort of back-up plan if something did 
fall off and do damage like that - especially with the potential of space 
debris doing the same thing, not just the type of thing that did hit the 
wing.  He said specifically that there wouldn't be a way to do a space walk 
and fix anything at all.

Re the O-rings, I know a guy here who did a complete analysis of the chain 
of events on that for future risk management preparation.  Actually, Ann, 
certain people knew 100% that the O-rings weren't engineered to these 
conditions.  The problem was that the top brass ignored the engineering 
advice -- but I can't remember the reason for ignoring it -- there was one.

I'm also not sure that it's a 'yank' problem, either.  You gotta admit that 
the US space program is one of the most highly engineered things ever 
done.  It just isn't perfect.  Not much is.  The public just doesn't 
appreciate how high risk those flights have always been.


JLWhitaker Associates
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit@melbpc.org.au  --  http://member.melbpc.org.au/~jwhit/whitentr.htm