Friday, February 25, 2011

Godspeed Discovery

Space Shuttle Discovery is now on it's last mission, the next-to-last of the program. I have an uneasy feeling about this flight, don't know why.

"I like space. The farther you go out into space, the smaller the Federal Goverment looks."
—Ronald Reagan



  1. I was watching it on the news. I hope your uneasiness proves unfounded.

  2. If only the first had taken Reagan
    with them, and left him there!

    Unless someone has cut corners again I suspect they will return safely.

  3. I hope you're uneasiness proves unfounded, too.

    Adullamite, there were no flight specific corners cut that cost us Columbia. The Space Shuttle is just incredibly fragile as a design. Not deliberately fragile, but fragility is the price when you must have low weight and have reusable surfaces exposed to the extremes of space and reentry.

    The only corner cut was pretending it wasn't fragile or in a dangerous environment, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, rather than taking more precautions or making it stronger. We painted ourselves into a corner with no options, by closing our eyes to reality.

    I say we because I will always live with part of the blame.

  4. I love Ronald Reagan, I'm just sorry while he was President I was to young and stupid to appreciate him. Oh sorry Adullamite.

  5. And Nancy, don't forget Nancy.

    Great picture there of the shuttle. It looks different like that with the wings folded and the road-wheels deployed.

    On a slightly different orbit, I'd like to ask the rocket-scientist, if she can explain the colour of the natty suits. I know orange is a good colour for people needing rescue at sea, or in snow, I'm assuming NASA has chosen the colours all its various mission and associated personnel wear, for rapid recognition of each's role in the endeavour.
    I'm just interested. I won't cry if i don't get an answer, but I'll be most awfully chuffed if I do.

  6. @A. - I hope so too.

    @Adullamite - Reagan made Granada safe to grow nutmeg again. Reagan refueled the Falkland warriors. Reagan said "Tear down that wall!" Reagan cut through red tape and government regulations so my bank can now charge me a $40 late charge. Reagan beat the crap out of that worthless scum Jimmy Carter. But best of all, Reagan stood shoulder to shoulder with your beloved Maggie in her struggle against low unemployment stats. What's not to love?

    @Stephanie Barr - Now is not the time to argue that "cutting corners" might include complacency. And no one person is to blame for any accidents of that magnitude, be it tile or o-ring. Hindsight is always 20-20. One does their best with the facts available at the time.

    @Sue - Were you stupid when you were young? Well, President Reagan believed in you anyway, and trusted the youth of America with their country's future. And then he shrugged and rode into the sunset. "We shall never see his like again." ::wiping tear away::

    @Soubriquet - I know the Rocket Scientist would prefer I answer her easy questions so she can be freed up for the tough ones. So here goes:

    All shuttle astronauts wear orange flight suits. Always have, always will. Except for the ones which were navy blue, and blended in with the ocean. To those who ask "why", I answer "why not?" Are they made in China? Probably. Are they individually fitted, or are they "one size fits all"? Are there extras on board, or does one have to simply live with it the entire mission if one has an accident of nature? Do they get to keep them to give to their kids or sell on eBay during hard times? or must they instead be handed down to the younger astronauts coming up, with only the mission patches replaced? You are not alone in being plagued over these momentous issues, tossing and turning in your restless sleep. For the record, NASA doesn't choose the colors of the suits. That's up to the crew ** and they also design their patches. As for the shuttle itself, it was agreed in the beginning that it would be all white, but the astronauts could choose the paint color of the lettering. Tradition has left the lettering a nice dull black. Except for STS89 in which the lettering was plaid.

    **As long as the crew chooses orange.

    Other questions commonly asked by people who own big wrenches are:

  7. I love your blog, and all the topics covered here.

    I’ve been without internet access lately, but hopefully that problem is solved.

  8. Thank you.
    I am suitably appeased.
    Perhaps you could take over the Rocket Scientist's blog, whilst she isn't using it.
    I think I should submit your answer to wikipedia, because it seems to contain just the sort of factual information that they thrive upon.

    Socks? what colour socks? And how do they flip pancakes in zero gravity? That's important for shrove tuesday. Maybe you flip and turn on the pan's suction?
    Help me ot here, please. I need to know. Right now.

  9. All right, I gave soubriquet a real answer to his/her question. Saw it there briefly and then it disappeared.

    Why is that?

  10. It's a her.

    No, wait. If it were a her it would be spelled Soubriquette.

  11. Relax Max rescued my absent comment. Thank you, RM.

    Soubriquet, as you mention, orange is used for contrast during water rescue. As shown here, training is done in blue suits. ACES (the suit) were originally designed for the USAF for high altitude flights and they are full pressure suits. The orange contrast is for water rescue as Shuttle launch ditching scenarios involve water crashes (which is why we launch from the Cape). Because the Shuttle doesn't have a self-destruct like other types of launch vehicles, it can't just be blown up, hence needing a place to drop the craft without taking out citizenry.

    There are emergency scenarios that involve a land landing: Return to Launch Site (which is tricky) and several emergency landing sites on the opposite side of the Atlantic. There's also Abort Once Around (where you go into orbit and come back to land at the launch site)and Abort To Orbit (where you end up in orbit, but not at the orbit you'd originally intended - coming back down if the mission can't be completed).

    Shuttles have never been ditched, though there are scenarios where it could happen. During reentry, of course, we do come in over ground, as happened with Columbia. The suits are the same, but the visibility advantage is not the same. There are scenarios where we maximize the trajectory over water, like through the Gulf, but not always.

    Also, for the record, I am blogging, but only on Rockets and Dragons, not my other two blogs. Only so many hours in a day. Note also that if you left rocket science type questions on Ask Me Anything, I'd probably break down and add more blog posts there. I respond to that sort of thing.

  12. She forgot to explain about the pancakes.

    But I'm really chuffed about the rest. I just like to find out about stuff, even though it will never be of any use to me whatsoever.

  13. Flipping pancakes in zero g is easy. In fact, it's getting things to STOP flipping once you've got them spinning that can be difficult.

    What does "chuffed" mean?

  14. I have another blog called BritishSpeak, and you are welcome to participate there. I suppose it has long since departed from its premise, though. Chuffed means he's pleased. Maybe even pleased as punch. Can't picture him/her being pleased as punch, though.

  15. @Stephanie Barr - Nobody said you weren't still blogging, only that you weren't blogging well. I mean that you weren't blogging on your rocket blog "as well" as on your Japanese drawing blog.

  16. @Jeff King - I'm glad you have your internet back. I've missed you.

  17. She is! And I am sorry to have worried.



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