Re: [MV] Columbia. Yes, negligence!.

From: Steve & Jeanne Keith (
Date: Tue Feb 04 2003 - 09:21:43 PST

I was not going to add to this but:

On the news this AM, givmint (because of env treaty) switched the insulating
foam to a different tyoe that does not adhere as well....


----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Davis" <>
To: "Military Vehicles Mailing List" <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 11:46 AM
Subject: Re: [MV] Columbia. Yes, negligence!.

> Hi Tim,
> Look, I always enjoy your posts. Your Scout Car updates were great and I
> look forward to the time you're able to pick up the project again. I also
> think you're licensing and vehicle related law post have been insightful
> and help clear up some of the incorrect information that can run amok on
> the list.
> All that said, I have to take exception to most of your last post.
> "Slide rule commandos" are the only reason the shuttle, or any other space
> endeavor, ever leaves the ground. So much depends on pure mathematics and
> theory... if it was run by what you can actually touch and visually
> and put a set of calipers on... we either never go, or loose hundreds in
> trial and error.
> It is so easy to second guess after the fact. The media does it every
> evening on the news... looking for a hook... something sensational to make
> you sit through the next commercial. It's much easier to destroy than
> support or build. Seven good people are dead, and dead in what was likely
> a very unpleasant way. They leave behind husbands, wives, and
> children. It is a huge tragity. But it isn't a consperiousy. Someone
> isn't burning up shuttles to hide evidence and pad the personal bank
> The people who go into space, and the huge team on the ground that will
> never get to go, but make it possible for those few, are passionate about
> what they do. They are explorers. Exploration takes risk. No one there
> wanted this. No one did a cost benefit analyst and said "we'll just have
> to let this one burn up on re-entry because photographing the underside is
> just too expensive".
> It's like putting on your shoe in the morning and getting bit by a spider
> in there. You've seen spiders in the house before, but you don't check
> your shoe every morning? It just doesn't usually happen. 10 friends can
> tell you after the fact how you should have checked, how spiders can be
> avoided by putting your shoes in plastic bags... but it just wasn't
> something you expected. It was an accident. Probably a rotten analogy...
> They saw the video of foam hitting the underside of the shuttle. They
> pulled together the best and brightest (and they really do have the best
> and brightest) and looked at what they knew. It wasn't the first time
> had happened. They had experience. The foam isn't dense, tends to self
> destruct, and hadn't done real damage to the underside before. They had
> reason to believe this time should be different. No single engineer got
> shouted down. It was a consensus, and slide rule, and theoretical, but
> that's how this sort of endeavor works!
> If we "roll heads" and string all the ground crew up by their toe nails we
> will just loose our explores and the national will to take on great (and
> yes, risky) endeavors.
> Let NASA investigate. They will find the source and fix it, or fix it at
> least as much as can be done. Give them the funding they need. But there
> will be losses again... part of exploration is loss. These guys died
> what they loved and I'll bet anyone of the ground crew would have traded
> places with them if they could.
> Chris Davis
> At 02:32 AM 2/4/03 -0600, you wrote:
> >I brought this topic up. In my original posting, I stated the purpose
> >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
> >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
> >and planning that went into making the shuttle a reality, with all the
> >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
> >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
> >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
> >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
> >been disastrous for the space program and you can bet heads would roll
> >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
> >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
> >lots of free exposure in the media and a big shot in the arm for their
> >little budget. If NASA didn't murder these seven souls by making
> >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
> >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?
> >assuming there was actually some visual clue that there was damage and
> >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
> >worst case) how to die well and that's a damned sight better than being
> >to the slaughter by some thick-headed rubes down in Houston. But they
> >denied even that opportunity due to poor planning and in the inhospitable
> >environment of space, that goes beyond negligence and borders on the
> >criminal.
> >
> >So much of what goes into putting one of these things into space is based
> >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
> >Columbia!? For crying out loud, look on the wall of any Walmart and
> >see loads of common sense emergency equipment, from firefighting
> >to those funky little fire hoods to first aid and spill kits. Something
> >simple as having some way to look over the exterior of the shuttle seems
> >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
> >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
> >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
> >kind of crap any longer. I support the space program. I see its worth
> >I also believe in setting high standards for this type of
> >this time, they didn't even come close.
> >
> >Just my $2.98 cents worth.
> >
> >TJ Smith
> >
> >
> >
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