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Guest dkukla

One could assume they knew.

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More and more detail on the wing damage. Thrusters firing more and more to keep attitude. Wing coming apart it seems. Took minutesBrave men and women fly the Shuttle. 14 have been lost in all these years. Amazing when you think about it. I say, do not diminish their bravery by grounding the Shuttle indefinitely! This was an accident, pure and simple. Foam probably did it, but accident nonetheless.Did we ground Airplanes indefinitely after 9/11? How many died on that day?God bless Human spirit and Bravery!http://www.msnbc.com/news/867336.asp?0cv=CB10bt

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It was a miracle that the debris falling from the shuttle didn't kill anyone. Had the path been a bit different, the Dallas metroplex could have been at risk. Had it been a weekday, it's possible school students would have been killed.We shouldn't ground the shuttle, but we should accept the fact that there will be risks, and minimize them.I propose:-Landing at Edwards, to keep most of the reentry over water.-Limit use of the shuttle for ISS visits and work. It's well designed for this task. Make the ISS a science laboratory it was intended to be, vs. risking a shuttle and her crew.-Redesign the fuel tank--hardly an unexpected accident, foam has fallen off before.-Limit the size of the crew.In tandem with this, we should work on a launch vehicle to handle satellite launches originally tasked for the shuttle. I am confident we can make it safer to fly in the shuttle, but we need to be pushed to launch new technology, rather than axe it on the budget floor thinking the shuttle will serve us forever. The shuttle fleet is aging, and it goes through more stress than an airliner would over 15-20 years. And private enterprise needs to get more involved....400 to 500 million a launch, vs. the 4-5 million originally projected for the shuttle, just won't cut it for much longer. If that'd sink in for private enterprise, and they could run a profit at $10 million a launch, you'd see new technology coming out of the woodwork.There's a lot of talk about eliminating humans from space. Inhospitable, they say. Considering the hostile environment that sits a few inches from most airline pax at FL350, I think that's a very bad thought. Let's try to move spaceflight closer to a routine. Airline flights have become just that, but the environment they fly in has its risks, which we've mostly overcome.

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I can't think of the last time a satellite was taken to orbit by the Shuttle, nor can I find one on the current manifest. Sounds like that part of your plan has already been taken care of. 100%, or darn near close to it, of the missions on the current manifest involved ISS visits. This, except for a Hubble mission in 2004, were probably the last non-ISS missions any of the orbiters were currently scheduled to fly. Not sure where you get the limiting of the size of the crew from. What advantage is that supposed to gain?Landing at Edwards costs a lot more money and time. Additionally, had this one been landing at Edwards we may never ever know what happened, much less recovered much (if any) of the debris.

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"Not sure where you get the limiting of the size of the crew from. What advantage is that supposed to gain?"This has been suggested as a way of limiting risk to lives.... I believe it's a worthy suggestion, given that we've now lost fourteen on these shuttle missions. Most experts have suggested keeping the crew size down to four."Landing at Edwards costs a lot more money and time. Additionally, had this one been landing at Edwards we may never ever know what happened, much less recovered much (if any) of the debris."Again, it comes to what is more important--risk to life, or an effort to save money or make things easier for NASA. We are very lucky no lives were lost on the ground--had the shuttle broken up just 100 miles earlier, that may have been quite different.I believe there is too much risk in bringing the shuttle in over a populated area--and even coming into Edwards doesn't eliminate that risk 100 pct. Sure, we would have lost the chance to recover debris. But I'd take that tradeoff vs. the very real risk of loss of lives on the ground. This accident proves that potentially fatal debris will survive reentry. And it also places the odds of failure at 1 in 50, give or take. Forget the money it costs to bring shuttles into Edwards--lives are more important. Those on the shuttle knew the risks. Those on the ground? God was watching over them.... This time...With NASA ready to pin the cause on space debris or a micro-meteor strike, we'll have a convenient and quite unprovable scenario that would get the shuttles back in orbit in no time. Very few are discussing what risks might be forced on those in the shuttle's path. It's time to start.

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Now if we could just outlaw those automobiles that kill dozens of people evey day. Even with the falling debris, the people of eastern Texas were probably at greater risk to being hit by a more ordinary vehicle or suffering from the enviromental impact of a brush fire, truck crash or train wreak.There realy aren't many areas in the United States that have such a dense population that more than a percent or two of the ground is occupied at any one time. I suspect once the orbiter clears the Orlando area its flying over a lower density area than the California coast too. During the late approach phase the orbiter is at a lower altitude and more likely to produce large wreakage following a serious problem.As much as it costs to put an astronaut and the required food, oxygen, and clothes in orbit; I doubt NASA had anyone on board that didn't have a very busy schedule. There are a lot of other research projects that involve personal risks. Some researchers walk to the very edge of volcanic vents that could erupt violently at any time. Others descend to great ocean depths in submarines that could be destroyed by a minor undetectable structural flaw. And others spend months in antarctic bases during periods when they cannot be evacuated to a hospital in reponse to medical emergencies.

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"Now if we could just outlaw those automobiles that kill dozens of people evey day."I'm not talking about eliminating risk--to do so would mean the end of spaceflight, with today's technology. I just suggest that we do whatever we can to reduce risk, rather than just accept that risk is part of the price we pay for being in space. Autos kill dozens of people every day, but many more would be killed if we didn't have limits. What if driving 100 mph through a residential area was the norm? What if cars were built only for speed, regardless of safety? In the case of the shuttle, regardless of population density, debris fell on school grounds, through the roof of a business, and even into the water supply. The point where the shuttle hits the greatest atmospheric friction, is as it starts hitting the more densely populated areas of the west--central and eastern Texas. As for risks, same goes for aviation, or any other risky venture. We have learned to make what was once a great risk into something far safer. Quotes such as yours usually surface to disguise the point or disrespect those making it--the point being that in my opinion, and many others, not enough has been done to make the shuttle program safer for those who fly it, as well as for those who could be at risk from a launch or reentry gone awry.

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Time to put a stop to airplanes crossing over crowded highways on their final approaches, as well. They needlessly put the lives of people sitting in their cars going about their everyday business at risk.

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Bring back the Saturn IV! It has the lifting power to put anything we need into orbit. Save the manned shuttle missions only for critical operations. I would also like to see a move towards robotics to replace as much work as possible currently done by humans in space.The problem we currently have is that we are riding the ragged edge of our technology and there is no room for error.These things are going to happen until we see large advances made in our propulsion and materials.We have a long way to go...Gene

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"In Flight" repairs? The shuttle has advantages over aircraft, as we know them, in that while out of the Earth's environment it can be serviced by the flight crew. A MD-80 at FL350 with a horizontal stabilizer issue has no chance but if a shuttle is damaged during liftoff it would be concievable that it could be repaired in "space". Along with this, pre flight check outs! (A pre flight would be required for the return segment back to Earth).The Columbia had no aircraft check outs (EVA's) in the plan prior to return. If there was damage under the left wing, it would have been discovered at that time. According to NASA though, even if they found missing tiles or a defect, there was no way they could have fixed it. This is probably why there was no EVA on the agenda. Columbia's fate was established 18 seconds after leaving Florida.My suggestion is as such: #1 - Provide a "Repair Kit" (You only need one up there) on the Station. Stock it with just the key elements that would get the aircraft back to Earth with the crew. Other issues could be solved here at home. #2 - Require a EVA (Pre Flight) prior to returning from the mission. Inspection of the entire aircraft outer surface, hatches, hinges, locks, etc. Just my 2 cents.

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