Columbia. Yes, negligence!.

From: Timothy Smith (
Date: Tue Feb 04 2003 - 00:32:31 PST

I brought this topic up. In my original posting, I stated the purpose for
proposing EVA or ROV equipment as standard equipment for a shuttle was to
make a visual examination of the shuttle if only to determine whether the
craft remained (for lack of a better word) airworthy. I deliberately left
out the repair option because I am aware that the technical nature of the
shuttle doesn't lend itself to "roadside" repairs.

If I were a crew member on the shuttle under the same circumstances, I'd
sure as hell want to have a look and furthermore I wouldn't trust some
slide-rule commando to assure me, from afar, that all was well. (I'd make a
lousy astronaut, no doubt.)

Doesn't it seem strange to anyone besides me that with all the forethought
and planning that went into making the shuttle a reality, with all the hours
of if-then logistical planning that must have taken place, that under
circumstances such as these, NASA's only solution seems to have been to have
some meetings, make some calculations, cross their fingers, hope for the
best and blindly go ahead with the mission. Seems more than a little odd to
me. It seems pretty smug, and endeavors such as these SHOULD NOT BE A

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist but I'll tell you what I think....I
think I smell a rat and I'm guessing that someone's budget is involved and
no one can convince me that having ROV or EVA equipment aboard was a
budget-breaker. Having a crew of seven die a slow death up there would have
been disastrous for the space program and you can bet heads would roll down
here (yeah, they learned more than a few things from Apollo 13, didn't
they?) ...however, if the shuttle went kablooie (as it most certainly did)
and everyone shrugged their shoulders and said, gee, we don't know what
happened but we'll try to ensure it don't happen again, we'd STILL have
seven dead astronauts, but they'd be heroes and the space program would get
lots of free exposure in the media and a big shot in the arm for their tight
little budget. If NASA didn't murder these seven souls by making uninformed
decisions, they sure as hell murdered them by denying them basic common
sense safety equipment.

Everyone says that even if they had found damage they couldn't have repaired
it and there would have been NOTHING they could do. To that, I say,
bullshit!! Yeah, maybe there wasn't anything they could do to fix the
shuttle but that's not necessarily the end of the scenario, is it? Again,
assuming there was actually some visual clue that there was damage and the
shuttle was not repairable, then they would have had at least the
opportunity to make an informed decision on how to proceed or (in the very
worst case) how to die well and that's a damned sight better than being lead
to the slaughter by some thick-headed rubes down in Houston. But they were
denied even that opportunity due to poor planning and in the inhospitable
environment of space, that goes beyond negligence and borders on the

So much of what goes into putting one of these things into space is based on
if-then logic I cannot fathom how a situation like this got overlooked
unless SOMEONE was grossly negligent. The budget argument does not fly
where lives are concerned unless you are a cooler cat than I am and are
willing to trade some blood for a few bucks.

By God, as Americans should we not demand better than what we got with the
Columbia!? For crying out loud, look on the wall of any Walmart and you'll
see loads of common sense emergency equipment, from firefighting apparatus
to those funky little fire hoods to first aid and spill kits. Something as
simple as having some way to look over the exterior of the shuttle seems too
much like common sense to me. Or am I missing something?

Thinking as a parent and of my young son (who is now only two but who loves
all things with wings) if I lost him to this kind of crap I'd be on the
first plane to NASA (whereever they are) and then I'd beat someone there to
death with a baseball bat for being so damned stupid.

Right now, we need to be putting NASA on notice that we won't tolerate this
kind of crap any longer. I support the space program. I see its worth but
I also believe in setting high standards for this type of endeavor......and
this time, they didn't even come close.

Just my $2.98 cents worth.

TJ Smith

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