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View Full Version : We've Returned to Flight.



Pthom
07-27-2005, 02:07 AM
The launch this morning of STS 114 went off without a hitch. It was filmed by over 100 cameras (http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/main/index.html?skipIntro=1).

Go NASA!

DragonHeart
07-27-2005, 04:30 AM
Curses, I forgot that was this morning. I was planning on watching it, but must have been sidetracked by something. >.< Oh well, things happen. Thanks for the site link, those are some nice pictures. ^^

~DragonHeart~

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2005, 04:53 AM
Yes, but now the question is whether or not we can get down again?

Pthom
07-27-2005, 09:50 AM
Yes, but now the question is whether or not we can get down again?Yeah, well...one of those 100 cameras recorded a bit of flying trash where they didn't expect to see trash (and the shuttle hit a bird on lift-off), so now everyone seems overly concerned that there is life-threatening damage to the shuttle.

The reporters at the Q&A sessions aren't helping things by asking worrysome questions.

My supposition is that there is no damage to this space shuttle any greater than was experienced by the over 100 previous flights (the Challenger and Columbia are special cases). They're just noticing it during takeoff rather than after landing where such damages to tiles and seals is compromised by the heat of re-entry. Should that lessen concern? No. But let's realize that the odds are very good that there is no damage to Discovery that would cause a fatal re-entry.

Unless they think repairs are necessary and botch something in effecting them. But my trust is in the flight team. It's their lives at stake; you'd better believe they will do whatever they can to err on the side of their own safety.

So I believe they'll come home just fine. And the rest of the space shuttle program will run its course without any further hitches. And the next ground to orbit vehicle will be better. That's what I believe.

preyer
07-27-2005, 11:05 AM
what, you mean PETA isn't howling for NASA to shut down operations over the death of a bird?

Jamesaritchie
07-28-2005, 03:29 AM
Yeah, well...one of those 100 cameras recorded a bit of flying trash where they didn't expect to see trash (and the shuttle hit a bird on lift-off), so now everyone seems overly concerned that there is life-threatening damage to the shuttle.

The reporters at the Q&A sessions aren't helping things by asking worrysome questions.

My supposition is that there is no damage to this space shuttle any greater than was experienced by the over 100 previous flights (the Challenger and Columbia are special cases). They're just noticing it during takeoff rather than after landing where such damages to tiles and seals is compromised by the heat of re-entry. Should that lessen concern? No. But let's realize that the odds are very good that there is no damage to Discovery that would cause a fatal re-entry.

Unless they think repairs are necessary and botch something in effecting them. But my trust is in the flight team. It's their lives at stake; you'd better believe they will do whatever they can to err on the side of their own safety.

So I believe they'll come home just fine. And the rest of the space shuttle program will run its course without any further hitches. And the next ground to orbit vehicle will be better. That's what I believe.

Playing the odds is fine when you're on the ground and just an observer. It's a different matter when you're up there in the shuttle, or you're a friend or family member on the ground.

And in truth, the odds are not all that good. Divide the number of shuttle flights by the number of accidents and ask yourself whether or not you'd let anyone you care about fly on an airline that had the same safety record.

Now, the trouble with the flight crew is that there simply isn't much they can do. If there is damage, it's unlikely they can find it, and if they do find it, it's unlikely they can repair it.

The next ground to orbit vehicle had better be far better. If it trips to space are going to be over for a very long time to come. And if we do lose one more shuttle, this one or the next, we'll be grounded until a brand new ground to air vehicle is not only built, but tested unto death.

The odds are decent that this shuttle will come down fine, but they're still lousy odds to bet people's lives on, and even worse odds to bet the next twenty years of access to space on, and that's just what we're doing.

Pthom
07-28-2005, 03:57 AM
The odds are decent that this shuttle will come down fine, but they're still lousy odds to bet people's lives on, and even worse odds to bet the next twenty years of access to space on, and that's just what we're doing.And you would rather ... what? I'm most confused, James. We're exploring. You would have advised Chris Columbus to stay home, because it isn't safe? Hell, it wasn't safe to go anywhere in a wooden caravelle. But they did it. With human lives, too. If we followed your logic, using the percentage of fatalities in the space program to sucesses, we wouldn't have continued after the Apollo 1 launch pad fire...maybe would have quit before then.

But it is human nature to go off into the unknown, mostly unprepared, and look at the risks we've taken in retrospect. Personally, I hope we continue to do so.

Jenny
07-28-2005, 05:13 AM
Today is my day for being unpopular, so ... Look at the odds. Should you (not you, obviously, but NASA) really have gambled so much on getting people into space again? Why is that so important when robots, like those sent to Mars, can do other stuff without risking human life?

And don't say adventure, not when it's tax dollars funding it.

Julie Worth
07-28-2005, 05:21 AM
The whole shuttle thing is an incredible boondoggle.

Jenny
07-28-2005, 05:23 AM
boondoggle? Explain it to an Aussie, pls.

Qalyar
07-28-2005, 08:15 AM
The ability for mankind to reach beyond the surface of the planet it was born from is transcendent in its importance. It shouldn't take writing - or reading - speculative fiction to appreaciate it. And while robots and rockets are wonderful - cheaper and safer than risking brave men and women - they are not equals. No rover can adapt the way that a thinking human can. No rover can be inspired by new vistas, or humbled by the smallness of the Earth from space. No robot can tell us what it is like to be in space, can let us learn about and overcome the myriad problems we will face before setting our first permanent structure beyond the firm surface of our world.

It isn't about any given mission. It never has been, not really, not even at the heights of passion for moonshot. It has been about fronteirsmanship and discovery, about proving that the limits to which mankind can push itself are far, far beyond the blue veil of the sky.

And, no, it isn't safe. The dawning of new eras are never for those weak of heart or those who fear death. How many European ships were lost trying to be the first to round the Cape of Good Hope? How many men died in the first decades of experimental airplanes? There have been three major fatal accidents (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia) and one near-miss (Apollo 13) in US space exploration history. The Russians have been slightly less lucky, but run with cheaper, less-well-tested hardware in general. It is certainly true that three such tragedies makes for a poor record on a percentage safety measure, but what a poor measure that is! Three catastrophes in the first fourty years of manned space flight. Compare that with the first fourty years of any other Age of Exploration - the rounding of the Horn, the crossing of the Atlantic, the birth of flight - and the shuttle and its forebearers will come out ahead.

We should be proud of what we have wrought so far ... and we should be proud too of the willingness of brave souls to take those risks in the name of progress - real progress, not a poster on a billboard announcing a new brand of car or a razor with an extra blade. If, instead, we conclude that we will never again cross the thin barrier between sky and space until it is a process well and truly and completely safe ... then we will likely never fly again, and the spirit that once moved a nation to fever with moonshot will instead be itself safe. Safely entombed in the past, well and truly dead.

azbikergirl
07-28-2005, 09:26 AM
boondoggle? Explain it to an Aussie, pls.
boondoggle = work of little or no value

Jamesaritchie
07-28-2005, 10:30 AM
And you would rather ... what? I'm most confused, James. We're exploring. You would have advised Chris Columbus to stay home, because it isn't safe? Hell, it wasn't safe to go anywhere in a wooden caravelle. But they did it. With human lives, too. If we followed your logic, using the percentage of fatalities in the space program to sucesses, we wouldn't have continued after the Apollo 1 launch pad fire...maybe would have quit before then.

But it is human nature to go off into the unknown, mostly unprepared, and look at the risks we've taken in retrospect. Personally, I hope we continue to do so.

Taking risks is one thing, taking stupid risks is another. No, I don't want to stay home, but I do want vehicles safe enough that a piece of foam insulation can't cause seven deaths and long setbacks.

People die in every new endeavor, but no one should die because of foolishness. No one should die because things are dangerous in areas where they could be safe. The space shuttle isn't dangerous because going into space is dangerous, it's dangerous because of foolish design, fools running the program, and a complete unwillingnes to get politics out and good science in at NASA.

The shuttle fleet is now grounded again. Why? Because no one bothered to find a way to fix the same problem that destoryed the last shuttle.

And, yes, it was actually many safer to travel in a wooden carvelle than it is to travel on the shuttle. I would not have told Columbus to stay home. . .unless I saw his boat had holes in it. But even Columbus wouldn't have sailed with the kind of track record the shuttle has.

You have to use the percentages of deaths. There's even a formula to calculate these percentages. Only NASA either doesn't follow it, or refuses to acknowledge it.

Yes, of course there will be deaths. Things happen. But preventable deaths due to poor science, politics, and a complete unwillingness to spend money where it should be spent are simply unacceptable. Just because some deaths are unavoidable does not mean you should accept ones that can be prevented.

It's awfully easy to talk abouit human lives lost when you aren't going to be one of them, and have no stake in any of them.

I've done some darned dangerous things myself, and took the risks willingly. But only a fool takes a risk when the same thing can be done with no risk, or with greatly reduced risk.

We will continue into space, and rightfully so, but there is no such thing as an acceptable death when that death could have been prevented. People aren't numbers, percentages or otherwise.

You see, the thing is this. After the Apollo fire, NASA fixed the problem that cause the fire. Peole seem to forget that. The problem that caused the fire was fixed so the same thing could never be repeated. Only somewhere along the line NASA decided that wasn't a good policy. It costs too much, in both time and dollars. So this time they didn't fix the problem.

And now seven more lives are at risk needlessly, and the shuttle program is once more grounded, this time until they fix the problem. If they had done this in the first place, there would be no grounding, no more delays because of the same old, same old, and no more lives at risk from a problem that could have and should have been fixed long ago.

NASA is a cluster you know what, and until and unless someone with a big broom sweeps the place clean and installs a whole new group of people with a hwole new set of priorities, it's going to stay this way.

The shuttle was never the right vehicle, and never the vehicle anyone outside of NASA wanted. Everyone except NASA knew the dangers, knew the shuttle couldn;t and wouldn't last, and knew it would set space exploration back for many years. That's just what has happened, and if NASA gets to set the specs for the next ground to space vehicle, I can only hope this disater teaches them a lesson.

Of course there's risk. Of course people will die. But people dying foolishly and needlessly is a waste of life, and a crime.

Jamesaritchie
07-28-2005, 10:32 AM
The whole shuttle thing is an incredible boondoggle.

The shuttle is worse than a boondoggle, it's a crime.

Pthom
07-28-2005, 11:34 AM
Taking risks is one thing, taking stupid risks is another. ... The space shuttle isn't dangerous because going into space is dangerous, it's dangerous because of foolish design, fools running the program, and a complete unwillingnes to get politics out and good science in at NASA.I'm curious. With what authority do you call the scientists, engineers and technicians at NASA fools, besides your personal opinion?


And, yes, it was actually many [times] safer to travel in a wooden carvelle [sic] than it is to travel on the shuttle. No doubt. But you're comparing apples to oranges. In Columbus's time, travel on the open ocean in a wooden caravelle was possibly the single most dangerous way of transporting human beings from one place on the planet to another.


I would not have told Columbus to stay home. . .unless I saw his boat had holes in it. But even Columbus wouldn't have sailed with the kind of track record the shuttle has.Right again. And apples and oranges again. By the time Columbus was born, wooden sailing ships had been in use for centuries. Yes, people knew how to use them, even if, as Columbus's boats did, they had holes in them. They could jumpe overboard and patch holes. They were using proven technology. So I apologize for using a poor example. I should have looked further back in history for the people who invented the very first boat...except I'm almost positive the records of such event are long lost.

Now, you see (or perhaps you won't see, because you don't really want to), the reason we experience accidents, yes, even horrible fatal ones, is that we are stepping into realms of science and technology thousands of times faster than were those original inventors of boats. If we took the same amount of time...oh hell, James. If a boat leaks and sinks, the occupants fall into the water and get wet. (And they use the flotsam of the wreck as life preservers.) If a space shuttle leaks, everyone aboard dies. It doesn't have to be one of the (admitedly out-of-date) current fleet: This is true of ANY space vehicle.


... Yes, of course there will be deaths. Things happen. ...
It's awfully easy to talk abouit human lives lost when you aren't going to be one of them, and have no stake in any of them.
...
Of course there's risk. Of course people will die. But people dying foolishly and needlessly is a waste of life, and a crime.
People may die needlessly, but to say that anyone dies foolishly implies that person has made a choice to die. By extrapolation, you are calling the astronaut corps foolish because they are willing to take a potentially life-threatening risk. Was Chuck Yeager foolish because he (and others like him) risked their lives to operate yet untested vehicles?

Don't answer. I already know that you have your opinion fixed in the stone of planet Earth. I will give up not just a weekly pizza to help fund the space program, I'll give up them all. And yeah, if I was asked to go, on a Gemini, an Apollo or a Shuttle, I'd be there before you could hit Submit Reply.

Thank you very much, but I WANT to go into space, and damn the torpedos, but full steam ahead.

Birol
07-28-2005, 11:40 AM
If I could afford the ticket, I'd buy one for the civilian space program started by the contest. Heck, if I had the money, I'd be willing to help fund the Russian space program, too.

The space shuttle is just a small part of NASA's research and mission strategy, but it is the most visible part. And what we all have to realize is, no matter what we do to preserve it, the Earth isn't go to last forever.

As a species, I'd rather not go gentle into that good night.

arodriguez
07-28-2005, 01:54 PM
what dos this have to do with writing sci fi fantasy?

brinkett
07-28-2005, 03:49 PM
As a species, I'd rather not go gentle into that good night.
It'll be a while before we go into that good night. I'd rather the money be spent on things like cancer research and that we learn how to take care of our own environment before we start polluting other planets. Once we've got a handle on problems like that, then maybe it won't be such a bad idea to spend massive amounts of money on programs like the shuttle.



what dos this have to do with writing sci fi fantasy?

Agreed. It should be in Office Party. They don't talk about real life murders in the Mystery forum, for example.

Pthom
07-28-2005, 11:20 PM
Fellow SF/F forum members.

First, my apologies for even starting this thread; I was so caught up in the wonder of humanity's return to space exploration that I lost sight of the purpose of this forum.

But as a science fiction writer, anything that pertains to the science and technology of space exploration is of interest. I guess I hoped you all would find the same interest as I did. I was wrong. As it turns out, there is more interest in the politics of this single event than there is in the future...at least regarding this thread.

Therefore, I'm closing the conversation. Those of you who wish to do so, may take your arguments about the validity of human exploration of space to the TIO forum. I had imagined moving this thread there, but that would imply I wish to continue this discussion, which I do not.

I will, however, entertain any optimistic discussion regarding humans in space here in this forum. You may either agree or disagree with me. But if you wish to fight with me, don't do it here.