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Old February 1st, 2003, 06:49 PM   #1
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Time to remember

I would like to take this opportunity to take a moment from our lives to remember the 7 souls who died today doing something very dangerous but something they loved. Kinda put things back into proper perspective
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Old February 1st, 2003, 11:13 PM   #2
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The crew of Columbia lost their lives, and many years of hard work in preparation of the research conducted over the course of the 16-day mission were also lost when the orbiter burned up on re-entry. A terrible tradgedy and an awful shame. I couldn't help but cry watching some of the news footage this morning.

Did any of our Texas friends witness the descent or see any debris?

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Old February 2nd, 2003, 12:01 AM   #3
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A terrible tragedy, indeed. Certainly I feel great sorrow for the astronauts. But my greatest sorrow goes to their families and loved ones. It also goes to the thousands of engineers and technicians at NASA and NASA's contractors who are now bearing a sense of responsibility, justifiably or not, for such a tragic failure. The collateral human damage from such an event can be even more devastating than the even itself.

With respect to the astronauts, my view helps to mitigate my sorrow for their premature deaths. Statistically, most of us will eventually die from cancer or heart disease long after the prime of our lives and often after prolonged illness. The seven astronauts who died today shared a very rare opportunity to meet a quick end with worldwide admiration and sorrow doing something that they loved. Who among us would not choose such an end over most alternatives?
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 06:46 AM   #4
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My wife and I live just a few short miles from the Johnson Space Center and have several NASA engineers that are close neighbors. We did not see re-entry yesterday morning but while we were out in the garden later in the afternoon we saw Air Force fighters from Ellis AFB (used by NASA and the astronauts) fly over quite low in the "Missing Man" formation. Knowing what had transpired we were moved to tears.

I worked with the wife of an astronaut and always found it interesting to hear the various things she had to say about their lives within NASA. She spoke about her husbands first space shuttle mission and how she got to go to the launch, and then for the landing. Her story came back to me yesterday when I learned of the tragedy and how the families of those astronauts were waiting for the landing and their reunion with their loved ones. How very sad.

Let us not forget that we are a great nation with exceptional individuals that serve on our behalf. They are not all astronauts but they surely make significant contributions by the work that they do and the sacrifices they make.

Nick
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 08:12 AM   #5
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I have lived in the Houston area most of my life. For 18 years, I lived in Seabrook, about 5 miles from NASA. The loss of the Challenger seven was a "family" loss to the entire community. The loss of the Columbia seven was equally devastating.

In a world that takes space flight for granted, I am always a little surprised to find out my neighbors "Work in space". They always go about it with a calm, quiet no-nonsense pride.

Heroes one and all.
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 02:33 PM   #6
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Friends from USA and Israel, participating in this community, please accept my condolence regarding the 7 heroes you lost in the tragical accident with Colombia. I really feels with you and I am so sorry for your loss.

Best regards Ivan
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Old February 2nd, 2003, 03:20 PM   #7
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No words to describe such a tragic loss. I hope a/the space program
will still continue because I think it is a very exciting thing!
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Old February 3rd, 2003, 08:39 PM   #8
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What can I say, I'm heartbroken. I've always been a huge fan of manned spaceflight. When it came time to decide on a satellite television programming provider, I chose Dish Network over Direct TV because at the time only Dish carried the NASA channel. With a small TV by my desk, I would stay tuned throughout the shuttle missions... it was comforting to see my tax dollars at work. I could see astronauts going through their workday in orbit while I worked through my own day at home.

My wife, knowing what a huge NASA fan I am, called me immediately with the sad news Saturday morning. I was working a booth at the New York DV Show in Madison Square Garden. On the cab ride through Manhattan, the radio had simply said that the shuttle was due to land within the hour and I regretted not being at home watching as I do customarily whenever possible. When she told me, I was stunned, speechless and heartbroken and it was very difficult to put on my public show face for the day.

In a state of disbelief, I checked the WAP-enabled CNN site through a web browser built into my cel phone periodically all day long. Not only is this castrophe enormously tragic for the astronaut's families and the entire NASA community, but it's also a serious setback for the International Space Station (ISS), for manned spaceflight in general and for other aspects of vital space exploration such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Having been on the road recently and not fully aware of the STS-107 mission undertaken by Columbia's crew, I had thought to myself about a couple of questions, which were answered in a recent NASA press briefing by Space Shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore.

First, with regard to possible tile damage by a piece of insulation debris which fell from a solid rocket booster during launch, why wasn't a visual inspection carried out on site in orbit by a spacewalk (EVA) or by a camera mounted on the shuttle robot arm (SRMS)? Answer: the STS-107 mission did not call for an EVA, therefore no EVA suits were on board. There has never been an EVA attempted on the bottom side of the shuttle, because the maneuver itself risks damage to the tiles. Also, due to the nature of the STS-107 mission, there was no SRMS arm mounted on Columbia.

Second, if an on-site inspection were possible and had revealed significant damage to Columbia to the extent that re-entry had been evaluated as dangerous, why couldn't Columbia fly to the ISS, where the crew could have awaited recovery by Endeavor, scheduled to launch in early March? Answer: due to the nature of the STS-107 mission, Columbia was not equipped with the ISS docking port neccessary to enable transfer to the station in a shirt-sleeve environment, and with no EVA suits on board, no other transfer method was available. Columbia and the ISS were at different altitudes with very different orbits, posing a staging problem which in my opinion was not insurmountable but a moot point regardless considering there would have been no way to safely egress from Columbia into the ISS.

They were so close to home, within minutes of being safely on the ground... so very sad.
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Old February 3rd, 2003, 09:45 PM   #9
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And the ripples stretch farther than the U.S. border. One of the front page stories in the Japan Times is about how this catastrophe is setting back their future plans for space.
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Old February 3rd, 2003, 11:14 PM   #10
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Chris,
We had dinner this evening with friends that work at the Johnson Space Center and wished you could have been here.

We laughed and cried as we spoke of memories of the NASA space program. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. After our friends left I came to the computer and started to roam, reflect, and ended up here at DVinfo.net and saw your post.

Chris, don't sell that little TV in you office. The NASA team is definitely hurting because it's "on field" team was hurt. But they are going to come back. And they are going to come back better, smarter, and more agile than before.

I just wanted to share this with you because although you are not at JSC I think you are, in spirit, one of them. Keep the faith.

Nick and Carolyn
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Old February 4th, 2003, 12:50 AM   #11
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To carry on a bit of speculative tech talk from Chris's post... ALso if they had been able to inspect the ship while in orbit, and found a damaged tile, they would not have been able to repair or replace it. They tiles are all custom fitted to their unique locations. Even if they had a spare, the adhesive used to attach them won't cure in the vacuum of space.
If they did find the damage, the only real solution would have been to send up another shuttle to retrieve them. I could be wrong, but I think the shuttle can only hold 7 or 8 people, and the minimum crew is 2. So two trips would have been required to retrieve the whole crew. I don't know how long it would take to prep and launch another shuttle, but I'd guess the better part of a week, which could mean up to two weeks to get everyone out. Something they probably wouldn't have had the oxygen for.

Horrible tragedy. That's why they call them heros.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 11:31 PM   #12
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Yeah, the mood here in Nassau Bay has been a somber one the last several of days. I went down to "the people's" memorial in front of Johnson's today and shot some tape...

Sad stuff.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 01:01 AM   #13
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Hollywood "2-shuttles" scenario

"If they did find the damage, the only real solution would have been to send up another shuttle to retrieve them. I could be wrong, but I think the shuttle can only hold 7 or 8 people, and the minimum crew is 2. So two trips would have been required to retrieve the whole crew."

They would have been able to strap everybody in one way or another; I don't think that was the issue. But if the damage on the Columbia had been discovered and a decision was made to assemble an emergency, skeleton-crew STS mission with the Atlantis orbiter, many safety precautions in the assembly and launch process would had to have been neglected in order to get into orbit within the short time frame. It takes three weeks to prep a launch assembly but the Columbia only had provisions and life support for 21 days (or five days longer than its mission duration). Instead of seven astronauts and one orbiter, they would have been risking nine astronauts and half the fleet.

At least, that's what I read in the paper.

In any event it's a bit senseless to Monday morning quarterback surpise catastrophes beyond examining the failures involved and ensuring against their recurral.
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