Space Shuttle Discovery

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Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby OperaTenor » Tue Aug 09, 2005 3:18 pm

I'm glad they made it home safe.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby dai bread » Wed Aug 10, 2005 12:07 am

So am I.

Can't someone develop a spray-on insulation to replace those tiles? I've seen spray-on insulation used in a pottery kiln made out of a metal dustbin. (Trash can). You'd think something could be developed from that.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby barfle » Wed Aug 10, 2005 10:40 am

I'm sure we all are.

As an engineer, I understand that design tradeoffs get made every day. I'm not particularly enthusiastic about the tiles, but it's because of the complexity of the system - every one on the shuttle is different. They have serial numbers so the inspectors can make sure they are mounted in the right position.

The thing that I find confusing is what type of effort is made to keep foam insulation that's travelling at several thousands of miles per hour from blowing off the tank. If you remember the first handful of shuttle launches, the tank was white. Now, it's orange. They had been painting it, but they discovered the paint had weight that could be used for payloads instead, so they stopped painting it. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all.

I'm not an aeronautical engineer, but I do enjoy automobile racing, which has had a couple of instances of vehicles exceeding the speed of sound. I've seen pieces blow off race cars at less than 200MPH, and the results were disasterous. Now, I'm not familiar with the foam used on the shuttle's external fuel tank. No doubt, it's a material I can't afford to use to isolate my audio/video room from the rest of the house. No doubt, it's been selected because of its strength, particularly in a high velocity air stream. And, no doubt, particular attention has been paid to those areas where the wind flow is strongest.

But it seems like a major redesign is called for, which could be the death knell for the shuttle program.

I have mixed feelings about the shuttles. They are truly spectacular, and I've actually seen the Enterprise shuttle, presently on display near DC. It's HUGE. It has a tremendous capacity to put large objects into orbit, and to bring them back from orbit. But it's so far from the original performance specifications, particularly in terms of how often it can fly and how much it costs to ready it for flight, that I can't help but feel that every flight is throwing good tax money after bad.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby piqaboo » Wed Aug 10, 2005 3:13 pm

I think they keep the shuttles running because there is no funding or support for a major redesign program, which I think was your point also. And its better to keep hanging on by a thread than to cut the ties to 'space' altogether.

I found it odd that someone was quoted saying something like "we'll make sure all the tiles are in good shape before take off because we dont want a repeat of Columbia". The damage occured to the tiles during take-off.

My guess is that even if the damage had been known / identified/ located, that the Columbia crew didnt have equipment or sufficient excess O2, food, water to make a pre-landing repair. :(

I find it impressive that the 747 can fly with a spaceshuttle strapped to its back! The Shuttle shuttle

<small>[ 08-10-2005, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: piqaboo ]</small>
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby barfle » Wed Aug 10, 2005 4:31 pm

At a billion dollars a launch, it wouldn't take all that many shuttle launches to fund a new vehicle.

Some of the new concepts I've seen call for a shuttle-like vehicle, with similar tiles, mounted to the TOP of the rocket stack, unlike the present design. That would mean any launch debris would fall behind the part that has to come back.

I've commented on Spacecraft Films before, and they have a really nice collection of NASA videos and films on DVD. If I weren't going to California in 10 days, I would own three more of their packages. Anyway, when you see rockets like the Saturn taking off, they have all sorts of ice falling off the side of the booster. But there's nothing for it to hit on the rocket, so nothing important to the flight ever got damaged.

Live and learn.

The shuttle Enterprise was used to test the aerodynamics of the vehicle, and to do so, it was carried aloft by a 747 and released. And if you've ever been close to a 747, you get an idea of how big the shuttle is. It's a real workhorse. Unfortunately, it takes about five times as much hay as was promised.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby piqaboo » Wed Aug 10, 2005 5:49 pm

I have been in a 12 seat commuter, on the ground, looking up the tailpipes of a 747, and feeling the plane shake from the jet exhaust. Big indeed!

Coming to CA? <curious icon> Will this permit a Random event?
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby OperaTenor » Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:25 pm

Ribs in the offing.......
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby piqaboo » Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:39 pm

I think Barfle doesnt want to be seen with us....
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby Schmeelkie » Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:22 am

I think the Shuttle was great when it first came out - it really expanded what we could do in space. And I fondly remember watching the first take-off on TV at school - it was an event!

I think the X-prize people have the right idea - our next steps in space need to be commercial or privately funded or else we'll never get far. Too many people already think NASA gets too much funding - money that could possibly be used better elsewhere. I don't really agree with that, but while that vocal minority is out there, NASA is never going to get a big enough boost in funds to create a replacement fleet of Shuttles. The more people trying different ways to get into space (and stay there too - orbitals and moon-based stations), the more likely it is that someone will find a cheaper, safer way to get up there.

And for those who wonder why we have to go to space at all - well, you know how things like oil are limited resources? Our sun isn't going to last forever either, or there's always the possibility of a catastrophic asteroid hit. Neither of these things are terribly likely in our, or our children's lifetimes, but we shouldn't be waiting for disaster to be imminent before thinking of getting off this planet. Also, there's tons of resources waiting to be used in space - asteroids and other bodies to be mined, not to mention the human need for exploration and discovery. There will always be people who want to explore beyond our world, and encouraging these people can have unthought-of benefits.

I know I would jump at a chance to go into space - even for only an orbit or two around the earth...
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby barfle » Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:48 am

Originally posted by piqaboo:
I think Barfle doesnt want to be seen with us....
My dear Ms. boo, I can't be seen with you until one of us swaps coasts (which won't happen for another week on my part).

Check with your poorer half.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:34 pm

Originally posted by barfle:

Check with your poorer half.
!!!


:D
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby piqaboo » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:24 pm

I just want to be sure you, OT and RC shower before I'm seen with any of you. After you all three shared that FRS, its got to be a bit ripe around y'all. :p
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby RC » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:36 pm

We have to take it off? I was just getting the hang of the giant three headed FRS.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:59 pm

I'm really regretting putting those vent holes in it for Shap........

:eek:
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby barfle » Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:06 pm

Poorer - perhaps not the best choice of words, but an attempt to contrast it with the old description of "better half" used to describe such lovelies as Ms boo.

I pondered "worse half," which would have been accurate as being antonymic to "better half," but probably not quite as readily recognized. "Homelier half" certainly would have been accurate, but again, not as readily understood.

Maybe I should stick to poetry. :confused:
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby barfle » Thu Aug 11, 2005 3:22 pm

Back to the topic...

Originally posted by Schmeelkie:
I think the Shuttle was great when it first came out - it really expanded what we could do in space. And I fondly remember watching the first take-off on TV at school - it was an event!
There's no doubt it's spectacular. I was in Florida once when a shuttle was supposed to be launched, but it was one of those five-seconds-to-go scrubs, and I had to leave town the next day. :(

There's an IMAX film that's been running at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum that features a shuttle lift-off. Every time I see it, I'm amazed at the power of the beast. You see the engines ignite, come to full thrust, the shuttle rocks slightly, the clamps release, and THEN you are enveloped in sound and fury. I doubt if eye witnesses can get that view, but I'm betting it's very, very cool to watch it go for real.

I've seen a few launches from a few hundred miles away (Vandenburg AFB launches at night from Orange County) and even they are pretty cool.

Originally posted by Schmeelkie:
I think the X-prize people have the right idea - our next steps in space need to be commercial or privately funded or else we'll never get far. Too many people already think NASA gets too much funding - money that could possibly be used better elsewhere. I don't really agree with that, but while that vocal minority is out there, NASA is never going to get a big enough boost in funds to create a replacement fleet of Shuttles. The more people trying different ways to get into space (and stay there too - orbitals and moon-based stations), the more likely it is that someone will find a cheaper, safer way to get up there.
While there's no doubt the space program has driven many technologies, I agree that space will only become useful once someone finds a use for it. We have communications satellites that are 100% privately funded, and even though GPS is a military operation, I can imagine such a program being undertaken by private enterprise, with licensing required to use the signals (like satellite radio).

I liken the space program to the discovery and exploration of the Americas by Europeans. Columbus had a commercial goal, although he requested funding from the deepest pockets he could find, which was a government. The settlement of the colonies really didn't take off until Europeans started enjoying tobacco.

Originally posted by Schmeelkie:
And for those who wonder why we have to go to space at all - well, you know how things like oil are limited resources? Our sun isn't going to last forever either, or there's always the possibility of a catastrophic asteroid hit. Neither of these things are terribly likely in our, or our children's lifetimes, but we shouldn't be waiting for disaster to be imminent before thinking of getting off this planet. Also, there's tons of resources waiting to be used in space - asteroids and other bodies to be mined, not to mention the human need for exploration and discovery. There will always be people who want to explore beyond our world, and encouraging these people can have unthought-of benefits.
I'm not too worried about the sun going out any time soon, but the exploration of space is simply the next frontier. We need to find a way to make the moon profitable, and it WILL be utilized and colonized.

Originally posted by Schmeelkie:
I know I would jump at a chance to go into space - even for only an orbit or two around the earth...
I don't know if I'd be satisfied with a suborbital flight like Virgin is planning on offering in the next few years, but it would be quite a kick! Seriously, I'd even fly in the shuttle if given a chance.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby BigJon@Work » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:42 pm

Originally posted by Schmeelkie:
Also, there's tons of resources waiting to be used in space - asteroids and other bodies to be mined.
Yeah! But I bet Greenpeace and their ilk would protest that too.

BigJon

<small>[ 08-11-2005, 05:44 PM: Message edited by: BigJon@Work ]</small>
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby piqaboo » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:49 pm

'poorer' didnt bother me. CA is a community property state, so he's the poorer now than he was before he assumed my debts! :D

I think a small set of humanity needs frontiers. Those dreamers/strivers/adventurers keep the rest of us going, vicariously.
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Re: Space Shuttle Discovery

Postby OperaTenor » Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:58 pm

[quote]Originally posted by barfle:
[b] Poorer - perhaps not the best choice of words, but an attempt to contrast it with the old description of "better half" used to describe such lovelies as Ms boo.

I pondered "worse half," which would have been accurate as being antonymic to "better half," but probably not quite as readily recognized. "Homelier half" certainly would have been accurate, but again, not as readily understood.

Maybe I should stick to poetry. :)
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