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The space shuttle that re-entered Earth's atmosphere


Meltarb

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https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2024/feb/12/the-space-shuttle-that-fell-to-earth-review-a-moving-tribute-to-the-astronauts-who-lost-their-lives-in-the-columbia-disaster

The Columbia catastrophe was attributed to NASA's management structure rather than technical issues causing the shuttle to break apart upon re-entry. An essential viewing experience.
BBC2 or iPlayer

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Such assertions need statistical context to be fully understood, regardless of whether they are related to the space shuttle tragedies.

For instance, how many issues were brought forward by engineers? One? Ten? One hundred? How often were these issues brought up?

How many engineers raised the concern? One out of forty team members? Et cetera.

I am not excusing inadequate management, but it is often revealed after a tragedy that someone has previously raised concerns about the situation. In hindsight, disregarding these warnings seems to be a serious failure in duty.

However, it might be challenging to choose which issues to prioritise in real-time. Addressing every voiced worry exhaustively could potentially hinder the project's completion.

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The unfortunate reality of the shuttle project is that it failed to achieve its primary goal of creating a cost-effective method for launching cargo into orbit by developing a reusable spacecraft. In practice, it failed to meet its estimated cost per kilogramme for space transport and ended up costing almost twice as much as launching items using traditional disposable rockets. Servicing the main engine after each trip is more expensive than replacing it with a new one each time. Regrettably, the most perilous method of transporting men into space has resulted in the loss of 2 out of 5 shuttles and 14 fatalities.

This ambitious project, however impressive, would have been discontinued due to economic constraints even if safety issues were not a factor. Russians replicated it and conducted a single unmanned orbital trip before discontinuing further flights. The Russian duplicate was flawless, but they were unable to buy it.

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During the Challenger launch mishap, I was collaborating with a team of ex-rocket technology engineers.

They first mentioned the possibility of seals being affected by frost, leading to a leak and maybe causing the collapse. This occurred when the news clip was first released, much before the formal inquiry began. A well recognised kind of breakdown. I would be astonished if NASA engineers did not anticipate this issue before the launch and notify flight control.

Good engineers never feel completely satisfied with any intricate system to avoid becoming complacent. They always seek methods to enhance their areas of responsibility. As a result, it is common for individuals to express concerns that are disregarded by those in charge of overseeing the schedule and/or the finances.

When undertaking a project, someone must evaluate several elements and reach a choice. Occasionally, mistakes are made resulting in loss of life.

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Consider it akin to the postal service issue in space.;)
Episode 2 highlights the human interactions revealing how the senior management of the business lost sight of the original compass and mission. Several organisations are capable of launching manned space flights, but the challenge is in ensuring the safe return of the astronauts.

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At the time, there was speculation about whether the space shuttle had been damaged by foam debris during takeoff. The post-disaster experiment demonstrated that it was possible to observe the damaged wing from long-range ground telescopes or spy satellites, but this was not done during the flight due to reasons that are still unknown. The fundamental principle of scientific and engineering inquiry is to create a hypothesis and then verify or refute it by experimentation and observation, which they did not do. Ironically, their behaviour may have inadvertently exacerbated the fear of funding cutbacks to NASA.

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After watching all three episodes consecutively, I was unsurprised by the administrative shortcomings at NASA, which brought to mind the other inept organisations I had unfortunately worked for.

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