Shuttle Fleet......GROUNDED. Bummer.

Ridgerunner

Vice Admiral
Seems the problem with crap flying off the center tank isn't fixed. Thank the EPA for not allowing the Freon manufactured foam from pre- 97. :mad:
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I think that'll end up being pretty minor. They'll probably confirm that they've been losing bits of foam on every flight and it just happened to cause damage with the Columbia. That's why they developed all the cameras to check for damage.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
As best I can tell from work, the mass media is blowing this one way out of proportion to an insulting level. CNN et al are droning on about "this throws the future of the space program away" when it's almost certainly just an average engineering problem that needs to be thought through.
 

Shaggy

Vice Admiral
What exactly is the purpose of the foam anyway?
Couldn't they develop a system without it?
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
It's insulation. You could develop another type of insulation, which may well be what they end up doing, but you'd need to put something there. High tech space shuttle "foam" is probably already one of the better materials to do it.
 

Ridgerunner

Vice Admiral
This is third hand or so information, but supposedly the first two shuttle launches had tanks with no foam at all on them, and the ones up to 1997 had a foam manufactured with/from/something to do with Freon (with no problems we know of) and damage to shuttles went up dramatically after 1997 with the new "environmentally friendly" foam. And the whole reason for the last downtime was to fix the foam flying off the tank.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I've never seen very compelling evidence for the 'freon' claim -- Googling for references only gets you unabashadly biased political blogs, and they in turn only ever cite "a former mission controller" as proof that there was any sort of increase in debris. If there were really a single, easy to pin issue like this someone a little more legitimate than internet users and small town newspaper editorialists would have brought it up.

You're thinking of a different story, re: the first two missions. On STS-1 and 2 the external tanks were *painted*. NASA stopped painting them afterwards to save weight, and that's the fact that people like to reference (when you see a picture of the shuttle with a white tank, you know it's one of those two missions.)
 

Ridgerunner

Vice Admiral
Painted. That's right. It's been a while. What I've been thinking lately is, what was on a Saturn V? Didn't seem to be a problem with shit flying off those. And if weight is a concern (there was something about only a couple of the shuttles were light enough to make it to the space station), how about putting a third solid rocket booster opposite the shuttle? More thrust = more weight in orbit. Maybe it's too simple. :(
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
the russians' stuff is ancient, but it works. what's the real gain in not painting the tanks?
 

Ptarmigan

Spaceman
I hope the next one is in September. I am sure foam has fallen out many times after 1997. Only reason Columbia got destroyed was perhaps it was an old orbiter that should of been retired. How come we have not developed new orbiters, that use current technology?
 

Ridgerunner

Vice Admiral
Columbia didn't crash because it was old. It crashed because a piece of foam struck the wing and damaged the tiles. The fleet was grounded to fix the problem of the foam coming off. Although the foam that came off of Discovery's tank didn't damage it, the problem of the foam coming off wasn't fixed.

I had another thought for a fix. Go back to the Saturn V, or a derivative of it, and put the shuttle on a boom attached where the fuel tank would be, then there would be nothing to fly off and damage the shuttle. Once again, probably too simple. :mad:
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
The issue with that is that the rocket isn't reusable. Part of the reason that the shuttle exists is that most of it (except the SRBs (solid rocket boosters - the white engines) is reusable. That big liquid engine tank is reused (and why the fuel sensor was so important).
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Painted. That's right. It's been a while. What I've been thinking lately is, what was on a Saturn V? Didn't seem to be a problem with shit flying off those.

Well, the key difference with the Saturns was that the CSM was mounted on the top -- so if ice or foam fell off the rocket there wasn't anything for it to hit.

(There was a similar threat with the large rockets -- they could oscillate badly and the worry was that they might detach the heat shields fixed to the bottom of the capsules. Had that happened, the result would have been the same as the Columbia accident.)

And if weight is a concern (there was something about only a couple of the shuttles were light enough to make it to the space station), how about putting a third solid rocket booster opposite the shuttle? More thrust = more weight in orbit. Maybe it's too simple.

It was more of an aside -- 'hey, neat, we can add a few more pounds to the payload if we do this' rather than the shuttle being under spec in some manner.

There's never been any claim that the paint was important for doing anything other than protecting the tank from weather. It wasn't holding the foam in place or anything.

the russians' stuff is ancient, but it works. what's the real gain in not painting the tanks?

It costs something like $1,400 to put a pound of payload into orbit using the shuttle -- so finding a way to add ~600 pounds was a neat trick (they also saved the $15k it costs to paint the things).

I hope the next one is in September. I am sure foam has fallen out many times after 1997. Only reason Columbia got destroyed was perhaps it was an old orbiter that should of been retired. How come we have not developed new orbiters, that use current technology?

While the system is older than most of the people who post here, it's still far and away more advanced than anything else -- the big problem with the shuttle is more that it's *too* advanced than that it needs to be updated with modern technology.

While the press did play up the fact that Columbia was 'old', it ultimately had very little to do with the accident. Discovery and Atlantis are of a similar vintage -- and Columbia recieved a major refit in 1991 that her sisters did not.

The issue with that is that the rocket isn't reusable. Part of the reason that the shuttle exists is that most of it (except the SRBs (solid rocket boosters - the white engines) is reusable. That big liquid engine tank is reused (and why the fuel sensor was so important).

Other way around - the Solid Rocket Boosters are recovered and reused while the External Tank is not.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
spiritplumber said:
the shuttle is a flying disaster anyway.... CSV for people and Energia for heavy lifting, IMHO.

Stop replying to month old threads if you don't have anything interesting to say.
 

Halman

PSY-YI-YI
spiritplumber said:
the shuttle is a flying disaster anyway.... CSV for people and Energia for heavy lifting, IMHO.

Flying disaster? What a terrifically stupid thing to say, no offense. It's the most complicated thing ever, and it's only failed twice. Thats freaking amazing. You need to use your thinkotron more than your media-tells-me-what-to-thinkatron.

And forgive me my nationalist sentiment, but I'd prefer it if the american space program didn't import it's rockets thank you very much.
 

Frosty

a full fledged GF
spiritplumber said:
the shuttle is a flying disaster anyway.... CSV for people and Energia for heavy lifting, IMHO.
I'm not at all sure what this CSV thing is, but your vaunted Energia rockets haven't flown in 15 years, and they only went up twice, anyway.

The Shuttle is more advanced and more capable than any other spacecraft flying today, or envisioned for the future, with an excellent safety and reliability record. It carries a larger crew and can lift one of the largest payloads and de-orbit the largest. Dissing the world's Most Amazing Thing is stupid.

The CEV is a couple drawings on the Internet, Kliper is a never-gonna-happen pile of aluminum scrap, and the flashback Shenzhou has carried a man into low orbit once.

The next time somebody develops and successfully flies a vehicle that can take a schoolbus into orbit and land, and then go back up, grab it, and take it back to Earth, you'll be allowed to open your mouth. Until then, hop off the anti-Shuttle eBandwagon and make yourself scarce. Everyone knows the only reason people beat up on the Shuttle all day long is to appear intelligent and well-informed, but nobody actually believes the ruse.
 

Nomad Terror

Rear Admiral
The space shuttle is an amazing piece of technology that unfortunately fell short of its intended goals (the cost of the program was more than they planned, turn around time is way longer than they hoped, and a lot of other things). However, as a whole the program has certainly done some great work. It was certainly not a disaster.

My main issue with the space shuttle is that our shuttle fleet is frankly showing its age. With today's technologies we can do far greater than the space shuttle for a reusable space vehicle. The issue is pretty moot now though with NASA's plans to commission the CSV. From what I understand, a final design for the CSV should be chosen this year or next year, with unmanned orbits following not too far along afterwards. Hopefully by 2040 we will have a full-fledged space program again.
 
Top