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Listen first, before reading transcript
August 1, 2005 12:11 AM   Subscribe

Next to last words from Columbia reentry, at 9 seconds into this -- wma (windows media audio) file at the first link -- very brief. listen to the audio link, first -- just twelve or so seconds long -- and give your brain the chance to hear what it hears. then, see what nasa made of it in the transcript. this and much more can be found at chris valentine's website. the particular page which he discusses this audio file is here but don't miss the movies at his home page. I can agree with Chris Valentine (whose movies are at the same site and much worth watching) that NASA may honestly not hear what he heard -- and I hear -- in this bit of audio. But, as I listen to and watch NASA TV live right now, I notice that every time we start to hear anything at all revealing of plain old humor, or comments about having to reboot Windows again or power cycle when shutdown won't work, or much else, Houston intervenes with "hot mike" and the sound goes away for a while. They micromanage what we get to hear. Valentine's movies have far better video than we see live from NASA too.
posted by hank (44 comments total)

 
I am certain he is not saying 'feeling the heat' but something like 'go, and uh hou..', 'oh, and uh hou..'. The initial sound is distorted my the microphone's noise dampening amplifier. I am experienced in speech recognition systems research so have spent a lot of time listing to sound snippets and these sorts of pattern illusions.
posted by Osmanthus at 12:38 AM on August 1, 2005


that is an unusually clear presentation of information. And a fantastically produced video.

It's hard to hear what he's saying. We all know how top-down knowledge can affect perceptions - or at least how malleable our perceptions are.

Would have been nice to have listened to that looped excerpt first.
posted by spacediver at 12:55 AM on August 1, 2005


I am not a rocket scientist, but I don't think they'd be feeling any extra "heat" at that point in the failure. The only location feeling excess heat right then would have been the wing. When the wing broke off, the orbiter disintegrated... at that point they would have been "feeling the heat" and a) wouldn't have been idly noticing tire pressure readouts and b) would have been during a communications blackout.
posted by trinarian at 12:55 AM on August 1, 2005


trinarian, Valentine suggests that this wasn't remarking on how unseasonably warm it was, but that it was the captain trying to tell base that the craft had a problem and that they were under pressure/in danger/worried.
It's in the second link, although I realise the text is damnably hard to read in that colour.
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:32 AM on August 1, 2005


Oh man. I went online and came here without having seen the news recently, and I saw this entry, and for a moment I thought the shuttle that had just launched a few days ago had come down today and there had just been another disaster like the Columbia. You scared me :)

/stupidity is its own reward
posted by -harlequin- at 1:57 AM on August 1, 2005


Ninja: I also doubt his thesis that earlier falling debris would have lit up the cockpit like a strobe light. You're traveling inside of a fireball at 60,000 miles and hour... how much brighter could objects breaking off BEHIND you light up a forward-facing window? One could argue they felt the objects falling off - and he never says this - but that'd be like feeling a a bump on a roller coaster.

It's also a long shot to think that the astronauts on board wouldn't be relaying back as much information as possible about problems... I mean, that's their job. Right? How are you not gonna hear at least one of the seven say, even under there breath, "man... do you hear/see that??"

A pilot and commander are going to do everything in their power to make sure the craft, and crew, get's home alive. There's no way they instantly knew it was all over and made a collective silent decision to play dumb until the end.
posted by trinarian at 2:00 AM on August 1, 2005


Agreed, trin. They didn't see the end and hold fingers to lips so as not to spoil it for the folks down below with an annoying exclamation.
I much prefer the idea that they faced fate with stoicism rather than doe-eyed hope, but in a situation which resolved so suddenly on the bloody edge of the knife it will always be prey to those with a dream/agenda. Of course I have no idea which is the truth. I subconsciously paint things for myself.

It's odd the way I feel a lot more about the Columbia fatalities now than I did at the time, but I suppose it's down to the same errors glaring silently again. You don't learn from your mistakes, you recognise them when they come around again.
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:31 AM on August 1, 2005


Before reading anything the looped recording spacedriver linked to sounds like "stand-by" with a break in the "by" part that creates three syllables.
posted by 517 at 3:15 AM on August 1, 2005


I dunno. Sounds like "feelin' no heat", but could be "feelin' the heat," or possibly "feelin' noogie"--a reference to the time-honored Shuttle tradition of rubbing your Commander's head violently with your knuckles upon re-entry.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:12 AM on August 1, 2005


Before people get too deep into their "expertise", I should point out that "feeling the heat" is a separate utterance than the disputed "last words" transmission, which is either "Roger, uh, bu..." or, as NASA transcribed it "and uh Hou...".

The writer isn't saying the last words were "feeling the heat". Rather , the last words were a continuation of the same thought:

Most people who have followed the details of this story know that Rick Husband's final words at 8:59:32 were "Roger, uh, bu...". His words were cut off as Columbia performed a roll to the right and communications were interfered with by her tail and shortly there after, Columbia’s break up began. I believe those were Husband's words! But for me the last cogent thought, the last complete sentence expressed by Husband happened on his previous call down. Unfortunately, this statement by him received almost no attention and sadder than that I believe it is transcribed incorrectly by NASA.

Just one of those cases where it pays to actually understand what is being claimed before leaping directly into expertise.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 4:55 AM on August 1, 2005


Man, this page has some bad CSS. I am seeing text on top of other text.
posted by grouse at 5:26 AM on August 1, 2005


Rev, might be worth reading the thread before posting comments about people's comments about expertise.

What are you banging on about?
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:29 AM on August 1, 2005


(Embarassingly enough, this is the first thing I've heard about a Shuttle disaster having happened in 2003)
posted by Bugbread at 6:04 AM on August 1, 2005


Where did these nuts put their crackpot theories before the internet?.

I'm sure that flash lit up the crew cabin like a giant strobe light

Oh, well, if he's sure of it then it must be true. I bet he's also sure a 757 would have destroyed the Pentagon and that there would have been stars in all those moon photos.
posted by bondcliff at 6:28 AM on August 1, 2005


Yea, uh, er, I'm in the nonplussed camp here. I read the page and listened to the audio several times. Unless the hyperlink above is to something other than what the 'here' link is to, this is what I get. Note, I am not a transcriptionistististist.

00:34 second WMA file

starts

:00-:05 - silence

:05: Voice1: Flightitem

:06-:09 - silence

:09: Voice2: [unintelligible] un uh Hous--

:10-:14 - silence

:15 Voice1: Flight, Max

:15 Flight: Go

:16-:21 Voice1: We just lost uh tire.. pressure on left outboard and left inboard, both tires

:22 - silence

:23-:25 - Voice3: And Columbia , Houston - we see your tire pressure--

:25 Flight: Copy

:26-27 - Voice 3: -- messages and we did not copy your last

:27 Flight: [unintelligible] ?Is it? Instrumentation, Max?

:28-30 - Voice1: Flight, Max uh those are also off

:30 Voice4?: ?Copy?

:31 Voice5: Roger ?limbo? [unintelligible]

:32-:34 silence

That's just me on my headphones after several repeats..

So uh unless I'm missing something, then uh, well, this is wishful thinking looking for a hero soundbite?
posted by cavalier at 6:49 AM on August 1, 2005


Interesting.
posted by jmccorm at 7:12 AM on August 1, 2005


cavalier you missed the last few seconds

:26-27 - Voice 3: -- messages and we did not copy your last

:27 Flight: [unintelligible] ?Is it? Instrumentation, Max?

:28-30 - Voice1: Flight, Max uh those are also off

:30 Voice4?: ?Copy?

:31 Voice5: Roger ?limbo? [unintelligible]

:32-:34 silence


:35 - :37 Voice1: Flight what's the little red button that says "do not touch" do?

:37-:38 Flight: DON'T TOUCH THE LITTLE RED BUTTON!!

:39-:40 Voice1: Oh shit.

:41-:42 silence
posted by three blind mice at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2005


Three Blind Mice:

See, now that's just fucked up. Seriously funny, too.

Don't touch the red button . . . heh.
posted by John of Michigan at 7:50 AM on August 1, 2005


NinjaPirate: Rev, might be worth reading the thread before posting comments about people's comments about expertise.

I did, you [fill in favorite term of abuse here. In this context I would favor a comparison between the person addressed and a small syringe with detachable nozzles used for vaginal lavage which leaves orifices springtime fresh].


What are you banging on about?


The first response by Osmanthus:

I am certain he is not saying 'feeling the heat' but something like 'go, and uh hou..', 'oh, and uh hou..'.

Obviously the poster has confused the transmission "feeling the heat" (which is pretty clear) with what the author of the piece claims is a misheard "last words" of "Roger, uh, bu..." rather than as NASA transcribed it as "and uh Hou...".

But thanks for the useful tip about reading the entire thread.

Practice what you preach much?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2005


Just to be clear, if you listen to the audio, "feeling the heat" occurs at 9 seconds into the recording while the "last words", whatever they are, happen at 30 seconds into the recording. So obviously "feeling the heat" is not the disputed final words from the Columbia.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 8:06 AM on August 1, 2005


Reverend Mykeru : "Obviously the poster has confused the transmission 'feeling the heat' (which is pretty clear) with what the author of the piece claims is a misheard 'last words' of 'Roger, uh, bu...' rather than as NASA transcribed it as 'and uh Hou...'."

Not so obvious. To me, it appears the poster has heard the transmission that you hear as "feeling the heat" (at the 9 second mark) as "oh, and uh Hou".

Reverend Mykeru : "So obviously 'feeling the heat' is not the disputed final words from the Columbia."

Yeah, but nobody's saying they are, either.
posted by Bugbread at 8:17 AM on August 1, 2005


Ha, I get it, I'm supposed to believe :09 says feeling the heat? I guess, if I really wanted to hear that I could make that out. I'm glad I didn't go into listening with that preconception..

Not flaming, actively trying to diffuse it, sorry..
posted by cavalier at 8:21 AM on August 1, 2005


I didn't read any of the text but clicked the soundfile first. The very first thing I heard, with no prompting at all, was "feeling the heat", on the first listen, at 9 seconds in. No prompting, no preconceived notions, and I heard verbatim what they expected me to hear.

It is very clear to me. But, I don't think this should be a controversial thing.

I imagine the inside of the orbiter would heat up remarkably during a normal entry. I would think commenting on this (quite expected) increase in temperature would be normal, and probably occurs in other landing recordings. I don't see what there is to go on about.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2005


If you play this recording backwards it says "Rick is dead man, miss him miss him."
posted by bondcliff at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2005


Um, I don't have a soundcard at work. In any event, why exactly does this matter?
posted by delmoi at 8:30 AM on August 1, 2005


Me, it sounds like Arabic. Clearly, it was Al Qa3da!
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on August 1, 2005


Sounds like "Sei, na zhee" to me. Whatever that means.
posted by squidlarkin at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2005


Rev: tasteful. I can see why you've decided against becoming a real Reverend.
As for preaching, it's not my game - I simply had no idea what you were referring to.

while on the topic, I'd love it if we could kill the "xxx much?" colloquialism? It's depressingly trite.
posted by NinjaPirate at 9:11 AM on August 1, 2005


.


Watching videos like this always shakes me up. The ending is inevitable--but not only is there nothing we can do now, years and miles distant from the event, there was nothing anyone could have done at the time it happened. (And it's not even certain what preventive measures could have been taken prior to reentry; there's just no way of knowing.)
posted by voltairemodern at 9:32 AM on August 1, 2005


I remember reading years back about an SR-71 pilot who was piloting an aircraft that broke up around him. One moment he is traveling at mach 3, the next he's flying forward minus his aircraft as it disintegrated around him.
Since the shuttle was traveling at around 25 times the speed of sound when the accident happened, I don't think the crew would have had much chance to even realize something bad was happening before it occured and ran to it's conclusion.
Just my two cents worth . . .
posted by mk1gti at 10:41 AM on August 1, 2005


"Roger, uh, bu..."

..."mmer."
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 AM on August 1, 2005


If it really is "feeling the heat" at :09, it's a strange inflection, as if the guy has an Arabian accent or something. I tend to think that's not what he's saying, but the transmission is cut off so we can't really tell.
posted by knave at 11:04 AM on August 1, 2005


This is the oddest thread I've seen here in a long time. Rev. you owe Osmathus and others an apology. Valentine is claiming that Husband's last recorded words were ""Roger, uh, bu..." at 8:59:32. NASA's transcript and Valentine are in complete agreement on this. There is no dispute on this, as you misread.

Valentine's beef is that NASA's transcript is incorrect at an earlier point -- 8:58:48. NASA claims that at this earlier point, before Husbands last recorded words, Husband says "and uh Hou." Valentine claims that he actually said "Feelin' that heat" at 8:58:48. Osmanthus says it sounds like what NASA says it sounds like.

You are cranky, which seems so out of place in such a meaningless discussion, but, even worse, you are basing your crankiness on a lack of comprehension of what you've read..
posted by Cassford at 11:19 AM on August 1, 2005


*Scratches head at entire thread*
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:38 AM on August 1, 2005


Remember Challenger jokes? I've never heard a Columbia joke. Now there's your conspiracy.
posted by bardic at 1:30 PM on August 1, 2005


When Challenger happened we had forgotten Apollo 1 and Apollo 13. There was a belief that going into space was like driving a truck. Challenger exploded and we were shocked. The jokes came (mostly) from that shock. When Columbia exploded so many simply wondered why it hadn't happened sooner.

We go into space now with all the confidence of Knievel's Snake River Canyon crew and with just about as much sense.
posted by ?! at 1:59 PM on August 1, 2005


Do I get a hug after my time-out?
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 2:04 PM on August 1, 2005


FWIW: I hear "feelin' the heat" at 9 seconds into the clip, but I would interpret this as "we're currently feeling the normal effects of a difficult procedure." Perhaps it's analgous to Tom Hanks' line in Apollo 13, "a few bumps and we're hauling the mail," a casual metaphor to describe something very dangerous.

Perhaps someone can confirm this, but I'd guess that there are communication protocols that are followed when something bad happens. "Houston, we have a problem," is likely to be a pre-chosen phrase meaning "we have a problem and I need you to listen to me right now."

It seems unlikely (to me) that "feeling the heat" would be chosen as such a phrase, or that it would be chosen even in the spur of the moment as a message of warning or distress.
posted by o2b at 3:00 PM on August 1, 2005


Arabian accent or something

The Columbia mission was the first shuttle mission to carry an Israeli. I was very surprised we didn't hear more conspiracy theories about that.
posted by betaray at 3:56 PM on August 1, 2005


Perhaps it's analgous to Tom Hanks' line in Apollo 13, "a few bumps and we're hauling the mail," a casual metaphor to describe something very dangerous.

Like Chuck Yeager said while breaking the sound barrier, "Say, Ridley, make a note here. Elevator effectiveness regained (my emphasis).

posted by kirkaracha at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2005


I listened to the clip three times before reading this thread or the linked pages, and each time I heard "and, uh, Hou..." After I read the thread, I listened to it again, and this time could easily hear how it could sound like "feeling that heat." However, I don't think that's what Husband said. I also don't think the "we didn't copy your last" remark necessarily refers to Husband's transmission. The whole sentence was "And Columbia, Houston, we see your tire pressure messages and we did not copy your last." It could be stating two separate things - that they see the tire pressure messages and that they didn't copy Husband's last transmission - but the transcript notes that Mission Control received one final tire pressure fault message just prior to losing pressure on the left tires, implying that the sentence as a whole referred to the tire pressure messages.

It's open to interpretation either way. We'll never know what happened in that cockpit, leaving us free to speculate on whether the astronauts realized their fate before they met it, whether they faced it stoically or fearfully, whether they had any clue at all. That's where the "controversy" lies: it's not what he said but what he knew. There are those who want to believe he knew what was happening, and those who want to believe he didn't - whatever helps them come to terms with it. It's meaningless in terms of understanding the disaster itself, but important to those affected by the human side of the tragedy. Personally, I'm not sure which I find more comforting.
posted by Aster at 5:28 PM on August 1, 2005 [1 favorite]


Thank you Aster, I found that moving.
posted by cavalier at 6:44 PM on August 1, 2005


Well, I heard "feeling the heat" at first, but now I'm sure the last bit is Hou... because there's no hard consonant sound (alveolar) like "t" or "d". I'm not sure what the other syllables are.

The publicly available transcript merely says "(unintelligible)", though. I think Valentine wants a human gloss on the tragedy, like Aster, but has to invent a melodramatic narrative.

Even if it were "Feeling the heat" that could simply be normal reaction to what was possibly by that point abnormal cabin temperature, rather than some sort of esoteric code.
posted by dhartung at 10:02 PM on August 1, 2005


Hugs all around.
posted by Cassford at 6:16 AM on August 2, 2005


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