Columbia. Negligence there?

From: Timothy Smith (
Date: Sun Feb 02 2003 - 23:12:35 PST

Appears several list members are knowledgable in the field of aerospace, so
I have a question or at least an observation.

Everyone was well aware that something had hit the left wing of Columbia and
the fellas on the ground with the slide rules and thick glasses had a
pow-wow and came to the conclusion that all was well with Columbia after
that mishap.

HUH?! (having heard that, my antenna began to quiver)

I heard an astronaut (who was a qualified and experienced shuttle
crewmember) state in an interview that (at least in the case of Columbia)
there was no way for the crew to make a visual examination of the exterior
surfaces of the craft.


Having heard all the commentary about the delicacies of reentry in a
shuttle, it seems to me that under circumstances such as these, a visual
examination of the exterior of Columbia would have been mandatory and
failure to do so (assuming there was actually something to see that would
indicate a problem) and failure to consider that such a need would arise at
some time and failing to plan for it would constitute negligence.

I am not suggesting that they would have necessarily been able to fix the
damage, but they sure as hell would be able to make an informed decision as
to what they felt they could and could not do with the shuttle afterwards.

Personally, I wouldn't send another shuttle up without some type of EVA
equipment or perhaps some remotely operated vehicle with cameras and a
tether so that next time (and God forbid there WILL be a next time) they can
at least have a look.

I liken this to one of us taking our HMV's across the desert without a spare
parts and a cel phone.....nuts, huh?

Comments, anyone?

TJ Smith

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Wed Apr 23 2003 - 13:25:24 PDT