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T-22 hours, and counting
July 12, 2005 3:09 PM   Subscribe

The space shuttle (and NASA) return to flight tomorrow at a scheduled launch time of 1551 ET, weather permitting. They had a laundry list of things to fix, and of course, they've fixed all of them... except the three that actually killed the last crew. They're launching nonetheless, and NASA TV will be covering it, with a couple of lists of mirror site links. I wish them well.
posted by baylink (37 comments total)

 
This just in! NASA Finds Damage On Space Shuttle Discovery.
posted by ericb at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2005


"With the countdown for Discovery in its final hours, NASA was dealt a setback Tuesday when a window cover fell off the shuttle and damaged thermal tiles near the tail.
But the space agency said it could fix the problem in time for Wednesday's launch."
posted by ericb at 3:18 PM on July 12, 2005


Live updates from spaceflightnow.
posted by smackfu at 3:19 PM on July 12, 2005


Godspeed!
posted by ericb at 3:19 PM on July 12, 2005


From smakfu's link:
"2154 GMT (5:54 p.m. EDT)
The window cover in question is from one of the overhead windows. It fell on its own, not when workers were handling it. The cover was found after it had fallen and hit the orbiter. In addition to the carrier panel that workers plan to replace tonight, engineers are looking for any other damage.
2149 GMT (5:49 p.m. EDT)
NASA expected to know by 7 p.m. if the replacement panel will work and whether launch can proceed tomorrow as planned."
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2005


It also said the orbiter had not been sufficiently hardened and it lacked an in-flight repair system.
Oh, I see, NASA failed to design a whole new Shuttle..
What do they expect, steel plates welded on just like on Hummers?
posted by c13 at 3:37 PM on July 12, 2005


except the three that actually killed the last crew

What really killed the crew of both Challenger and Columbia were managers overriding the vocal concerns of engineers.

In both cases, bad design coupled with lax regulation resulted in a specific hardware failure heavily suspected by engineers beforehand, but pressure from above forced each mission to proceed to a danger point which exploited the failure.

The missing checklist items represent three examples of continued "bad design" but, as of yet, no specific hardware failure. Whether one will arise as before with enough warning to prevent tragedy remains to be seen.
posted by CynicalKnight at 3:51 PM on July 12, 2005


I've just noticed that the NasaTV page has been updates: the Real streams are being handled by Akamai, so the mirrors will probably be unnecessary.

For those who can listen but not watch, and want a bit more commentary than Nasa TV audio, NPR's spaceman Pat Duggins will be streaming live from WMFE Orlando.
posted by baylink at 3:53 PM on July 12, 2005


And I'll second your observation, Knight: the people with the Last Clear Chance blew it, and astronauts died as a result.

Is Flight an astronaut this time?
posted by baylink at 3:54 PM on July 12, 2005


Oh, and while WMFE's site has a WinMedia stream link, the station is also on Shoutcast.
posted by baylink at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2005


Two Days Ago On Metafilter ... although I have to say that this is, at least, a better written post.
posted by anastasiav at 4:29 PM on July 12, 2005


How brave you must be to get back on that thing ...
posted by carter at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2005


I don't see what the problem is.
Those O-rings look fine.
posted by antron at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2005


Damn brave. Goddamn, just a little idealism for a change. What ever happened to the popular wonder at science?
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:45 PM on July 12, 2005


Thanks for the links, but I don't know what you're talking about with the three problems not solved business. The problem was first the foam which detached, then they had no way way to detect the damage it did. The foam stuff has been changed and updated, and a huge amount of sensors have been placed within the wings, mainly on the leading edge, to keep an eye on temperature, stress, etc. I read the NYTimes' big article on it and it seems they've really made the thing more safe, and they have many more perspectives on the sucker's launch now - that is to say, lots of cameras from florida to the space station to the shuttle itself. Anyway, while they may have improved the shuttle to the point where it is difficult to improve, that simply means it's time to move to a completely different design.

That said, You who are about to launch, I salute you, for you are brave and smart and cool. Hope everything goes well.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2005


Astronauts know they might die. It's part of their job description. Just like F1 racers, stunt pilots and mountain climbers.

Just because it went wrong the last time doesn't mean that it will go wrong this time. The reason NASA kept the shuttle on the ground for so long (and why everybody is so anxious now) is that if this mission goes wrong NASA will loose the small amount of prestige they still have with the politicians that decide about their funding.
posted by kika at 8:47 PM on July 12, 2005


What ever happened to the popular wonder at science?

excuse me, but a brick strapped to a bomb isn't very advanced science.
posted by quonsar at 8:49 PM on July 12, 2005


Yeah. How hard can it be? It's not rocket science.
posted by spock at 9:19 PM on July 12, 2005


excuse me, but a brick strapped to a bomb isn't very advanced science.

Just because you don't understand it, doesn't make it easy. The Shuttle boosters are one of the most complicated machines we (humans) have made.
posted by Capn at 9:43 PM on July 12, 2005


Apollo 1 - Jan. 27, 1967
. Virgil "Gus" Ivan Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
. Edward Higgins White, II, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
. Roger Bruce Chaffee, Lieutenant Commander, USN

Challenger STS 51-L - Jan. 28, 1986
. Commander: Francis R. Scobee
. Pilot: Michael J. Smith
. Mission Specialist 1: Judith A. Resnik
. Mission Specialist 2: Ellison S. Onizuka
. Mission Specialist 3: Ronald E. McNair
. Payload Specialist 1: Gregory B. Jarvis
. Payload Specialist 2 (TISP): Sharon Christa McAuliffe

Columbia STS-107 - Feb. 1, 2003
. Commander: Rick D. Husband
. Pilot: William C. McCool
. Payload Commander: Michael P. Anderson
. Payload Specialist: Ilan Ramon
. Mission Specialist: Kalpana Chawla
. Mission Specialist: David M. Brown
. Mission Specialist: Laurel Clark
posted by spock at 9:45 PM on July 12, 2005


Vladimir Komarov, Soyuz 1.
Georgi Dobrovolski, Soyuz 11.
Viktor Patsayev, Soyuz 11.
Vladislav Volkov, Soyuz 11.

Valentin Bondarenko, training (similar to Apollo 1).
Theodore Freeman, training (jet crash).
Elliott See, training for Gemini 9 (jet crash).
Charles Bassett, training for Gemini 9 (jet crash).
Clifton Williams, training for Apollo 9 backup (jet crash).
Robert Lawrence, training (jet crash).

Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, training (jet crash).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:01 PM on July 12, 2005


These people know the risks they're taking, and go gladly anyway.

If I thought I had the least chance of making it in these programs, I'd sign up to go on the very first generation of Shuttle, before all the extra safety gear was installed.

And, if I ended up dying on the way, if I had time to reflect, I wouldn't be angry about it... sad, of course, but not angry.

Shame on you people kvetching and whining about how it isn't safe. Exploration has NEVER been safe.
posted by Malor at 11:38 PM on July 12, 2005


The reason NASA kept the shuttle on the ground for so long (and why everybody is so anxious now) is that if this mission goes wrong NASA will loose the small amount of prestige they still have with the politicians that decide about their funding.

This sounds right, BUT the last shuttle went down because of ice-solid foam falling off and hitting the protection tiles. As this shuttle sits on the launch pad, they've had a very similar incident as last time: foam piece falls off and damages tiles. I am almost certain that there are fundamental differences between the two incidents, but until I know what they are, I ain't betting on NASA's prestige.

PS: damn cool and damn brave indeed!
posted by magullo at 3:51 AM on July 13, 2005


Ad astera per aspera.
posted by Inkslinger at 6:39 AM on July 13, 2005


There will surely be another post about this WHEN IT HAPPENS. Do we really need posts about "future news", especially when we already had a previous post about it?
posted by mkultra at 7:12 AM on July 13, 2005


excuse me, but a brick strapped to a bomb isn't very advanced science.

quonsar, I love you. I swear you'd piss on an old lady's petunias just to get a reaction. And when she complained, you'd aim the stream right at her open mouth, you adorable little killer rabbit.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2005


a brick strapped to a bomb isn't very advanced

No, but it's totally wicked. Where do I get one?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2005


Well, anastasiav and mkultra, I posted it for one reason: the previous posting was mostly fluff, and mine was an attempt to supply useful information (how to get to where you could see (or hear) the launch on-line if you were, say, stuck at work), at the time that information might be most useful (the day before, when you could test out the things you might need to use to view it).

I haven't posted recently, but I *have* been doing this for, oh, a little while...

So I'm sorry if my posting wasted your time, and feel free to filter me out. I won't cry for *too* long... :-)
posted by baylink at 8:13 AM on July 13, 2005


Well, anastasiav and mkultra, I posted it for one reason: the previous posting was mostly fluff, and mine was an attempt to supply useful information (how to get to where you could see (or hear) the launch on-line if you were, say, stuck at work), at the time that information might be most useful (the day before, when you could test out the things you might need to use to view it).

I haven't posted recently, but I *have* been doing this for, oh, a little while...

So I'm sorry if my posting wasted your time, and feel free to filter me out. I won't cry for *too* long... :-)
posted by baylink at 8:24 AM on July 13, 2005


<le sigh>
posted by baylink at 8:25 AM on July 13, 2005


Here's CNN's package page, complete with the dorkiest looking countdown clock I've ever seen on a webpage. and the launch dashboard - live countdown clock, weather, video, and more.
posted by baylink at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2005


I would like at add a word about the 'brave' part, these people are scientists and engineers who weigh risks and options to resolve risks every waking moment, even on the toilet, I'm sure.
They've weighed the risks on each and every flight and, for the most part found them acceptable. I think they would be first in saying they're not brave, just aware.
They 'maintain an even strain'
Ad Astra ! ! !
posted by mk1gti at 10:20 AM on July 13, 2005


and a huge amount of sensors have been placed within the wings, mainly on the leading edge, to keep an eye on temperature, stress, etc.

What good will that do? It's not like they can go into a holding pattern until George Kennedy can save them.

"Sensors indicate the shuttle will burn up in 5... 4... 3... "

I'm psyched they're launching again. They could go up there to twiddle their thumbs and I'd still find it exciting.
posted by bondcliff at 10:30 AM on July 13, 2005


Just heard on the BBC that the Launch is postponed.
posted by Sk4n at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2005


NASA TV report: Launch scrubbed for today due to failure of LH2 low-level fuel flow sensor. Flight crew unstrapping now.

The commentator said that if this sensor failed and the engine kept trying to run as if the fuel was flowing properly, it could have an "uncontained catastrophic failure."

Heh... you know what that means, right? It's a techno-euphemism for "KABOOM." Make me chuckle ruefully.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:56 AM on July 13, 2005


Confirmed, via the nasa website. (flash site)

(what zoogleplex said)
posted by Space Kitty at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2005


And my hat is off to Flight, for calling the scrub. I'm sure they tell them that the pile of people out on Static Test Site Road is *not* one of their responsibilities... but I'm sure things like that factor in anyway. Takes some balls to call it off -- balls that have been sadly lacking in the past.

Bookmark this thread though, for the links; I certainly won't be posting them again for the resked. :-)
posted by baylink at 12:27 PM on July 13, 2005


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