Columbia

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by Cletus Lee, Feb 4, 2003.

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  1. Cletus Lee

    Cletus Lee Guest

    Last Saturday, at just a little after 8AM CST, my usual ride route was headed North on an otherwise
    beautiful clear day. Some in my group (one even on a DF) happened to look up at the sky in time to
    witness the Columbia disintegrating 150 mi. to the North of Houston.

    Someone sent me this URL It shows the plume of the Columbia as it passed through the doppler RADARs
    managed by NOAA. The one from Shreveport is the most dramatic.

    http://www.srh.weather.gov/ftproot/columbia/default.html
    --

    Cletus D. Lee Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager http://www.clee.org
    - Bellaire, TX USA -
     
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  2. Up here in Benbrook TX I was getting ready for a ride and was 'sitting' in the bathroom when I heard
    a really loud BOOM. My roof actually rattled and the house shook.

    I, of course, had no idea what was happening. My first thought was that something had fallen from a
    plane and landed on my roof but then I heard some neighbors voices, so I then assumed that somebody
    had run into my garage door.

    After I got dressed and went outside to load my bike, I could see that nothing was amiss, so I
    promptly forgot about the noise.

    When I got to the ride people were dicussing the disaster and I realized what I had heard.

    Lewis.

    http://home.earthlink.net/~limeylew/index.html

    ............................

    Cletus Lee <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Last Saturday, at just a little after 8AM CST, my usual ride route was headed North on an
    > otherwise beautiful clear day. Some in my group (one even on a DF) happened to look up at the sky
    > in time to witness the Columbia disintegrating 150 mi. to the North of Houston.
    >
    > Someone sent me this URL It shows the plume of the Columbia as it passed through the doppler
    > RADARs managed by NOAA. The one from Shreveport is the most dramatic.
    >
    > http://www.srh.weather.gov/ftproot/columbia/default.html
     
  3. Mike O'Brien

    Mike O'Brien Guest

    It's Time To Dream Higher

    By Charles Krauthammer Tuesday, February 4, 2003; Page A25

    First we will mourn the brave and beautiful who fell out of the sky. Then, however, we will proceed
    to the usual post-catastrophe ritual: investigation and recrimination. We will search for the
    culprits. Some human agent will be hauled out to bear the blame. And we will search for the cause:
    flying foam, wing damage, insulating tiles, whatever -- we will find it. But we will miss the point.

    The point is that the first 150 or so miles of space travel -- braving the gravitational well of
    Earth and shooting through the atmosphere -- is the most difficult and dangerous; the next million
    miles are comparatively easy. Yet going up and down that first 150 miles is the least glorious,
    least inspiring of all space adventures; it is the stuff beyond low-Earth orbit that speaks to our
    yearning as a restless, seeking species. Everyone notes how Columbia's flight was almost totally
    ignored until disaster struck, but it is hard to excite people about a space truck taking off every
    couple of months on service missions.

    Here, then, is the heart of the problem: The shuttle does nothing but this most dangerous, yet most
    mundane, short-haul trip, over and over and over again -- until the odds catch up with it.

    The risk of catastrophe for a commercial jet is 1 in 2 million. For a fighter jet, it is 1 in
    20,000. NASA's best estimate for the shuttle was 1 in 240. Our experience now tells us that it is
    about 1 in 50.

    That is a fantastic risk. It can be justified -- but only for fantastic journeys. The ultimate
    problem with the shuttle is not O-rings or loose tiles but a mission that makes no sense. The
    launches are magnificent and inspiring. But the mission is to endlessly traverse the most dangerous
    part of space -- the thin envelope of the atmosphere -- to get in and out of orbit without going
    anywhere beyond. Yet it is that very beyond -- the moon, the asteroids, Mars -- that is the whole
    point of leaving Earth in the first place.

    We slip the bonds of Earth not to spend 20 years in orbit studying zero-gravity nausea, but to set
    foot on new worlds, learn their mysteries, establish our presence.

    Why was Columbia up there in the first place? It was conducting scientific experiments. But almost
    all such experiments can be conducted by robot. Sending humans through takeoff so they can study
    spider behavior in weightlessness is crazy.

    It is almost as crazy to risk lives to act as trucking agent for the space station, which was the
    mission of nearly every other shuttle flight for the past three years. It is hard to justify the
    space station in the first place. It is not a platform for further space travel. It produces very
    little science. It is basically a laboratory for the biology of weightlessness. That's about it. Yet
    the shuttle has become its slave, hauling up huge pieces of equipment and bringing up astronauts to
    do the construction work.

    What an end. What a dead end. After millennia of dreaming of flight, the human race went from a
    standing start at Kitty Hawk to the moon in 66 years. And yet in the next 34 years, we've gone
    nowhere. We've gone backward. We've retreated from the moon and spent our time spinning around
    endlessly in low-Earth orbit.

    The way to consecrate the memory of those noble souls on Columbia is not to mindlessly repeat the
    past 20 years but to rethink the whole enterprise. For now, we need to keep the shuttle going
    because we have no other way to get into space. And we'll need to support the space station for a
    few years, because we have no other program in place.

    But that is not our destiny, nor our purpose. If we're going to risk that first 150 miles of
    terrible stress on body and machine to get into space, then let's do it to get to the next million
    miles -- to cruise the beauty and vacuum of interplanetary space to new worlds. Back to the moon.
    Establish a lunar base. And then on to Mars.

    The Columbia tragedy will give voice to the troglodytes who want to give up manned space travel
    altogether. But the problem is not manned flight. The problem is this kind of manned flight,
    shuttling up and down at great risk and to little end.

    Icarus fell because he flew too close to the sun. Columbia -- and the whole American manned space
    program today -- fell because it flies too close to the Earth, repeatedly, gratuitously braving the
    terrors of takeoff and reentry. It is time to once again raise our eyes and our horizons, and return
    to our original path, so inexplicably abandoned: to the moon and beyond.

    © 2003 The Washington Post Company

    Regards,

    Mike O'Brien

    Trying to keep the barbarians from the gate, but they all have fake ID's
     
  4. John Riley

    John Riley Guest

    Mike O'Brien wrote:
    >
    > It's Time To Dream Higher
    >
    > By Charles Krauthammer Tuesday, February 4, 2003; Page A25
    [...]
    > The Columbia tragedy will give voice to the troglodytes who want to give up manned space travel
    > altogether. But the problem is not manned flight. The problem is this kind of manned flight,
    > shuttling up and down at great risk and to little end.
    [...]
    > © 2003 The Washington Post Company

    Excuse me? Troglodytes? Try hard core scientists who know that you can do more science if you don't
    spend all the money it takes to keep fragile humans somewhat safe in the very hostile environment of
    space. Manned flight _is_ a problem.

    Other points taken.

    John Riley
     
  5. A&B

    A&B Guest

    Mike, I agree. Exploration at the edge has always had it's risks. Star Trek has jaded our
    perceptions of risks in the space program. Magellan set out with 5 ships and one returned, without
    Magellan. The odds have improved since then but it still ain't as clean as tv and movies would
    portray it. bill g

    Mike O'Brien wrote:
    >

    NASA's best estimate for the shuttle was 1
    > in 240. Our experience now tells us that it is about 1 in 50.
    >
    > That is a fantastic risk. It can be justified -- but only for fantastic
     
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