Shuttle News: July 2005 Archives

Space Cargo Physics 101

Do cargo-hauling astronauts really lift 15 tons?, MSNBC

"Counting the containers as payload makes about as much sense as the post office charging you postage for the weight of the mailbox, or an airline assigning the weight of your seat to your baggage allowance. Its probably not a deliberate deception, but the figures do border on the bogus."

Orbiter Status

NASA May Try Shuttle Repair - Reentry Hazard Is Feared From Fillers on Shield, Washington Post

"NASA hopes to decide Monday whether to order an unrehearsed spacewalk to make the first exterior "repair" of the space shuttle in orbit. An astronaut would try to eliminate a potential reentry hazard by removing two protruding bits of heat shielding on the belly of the shuttle Discovery."

Cloth Protrusions on Discovery May Constitute a Threat, NY Times

"NASA may conduct a spacewalk to correct a problem on the underside of the space shuttle Discovery that provoked "strong disagreement" among NASA analysts about whether or not it poses a safety hazard to the spaceship and its crew, the lead flight director for the mission said today."

Why NASA Can't Get It Right, Time

"The larger question may not be the fate of Discovery but that of the whole fleet. After 2 1/2 years and $1 billion spent on safety upgrades designed to prevent just such a setback, how could things go so wrong again?"

NASA mulls threat from protrusions, CNN

"I believe the gap fillers are similar to what we had seen in previous flights," Discovery commander Eileen Collins said in a news conference from orbit. "It's definitely not a big concern for me now. What we looked at during the inspection looked pretty good us to through the camera lenses," she said.

Thomas questions NASA safety judgment,

"Was there a sound technical reason why they made that decision or was it subject to cost pressures or schedule pressures?" said Thomas, in a series of TV interviews from space.

Foam Update

For NASA, Misjudgments Led to Latest Shuttle Woes, NY Times

"Last Tuesday morning, NASA's contention that it had produced the safest fuel tank in shuttle history was shattered two minutes into the Discovery's mission to the International Space Station."

Waiving Safety Margins

Ex-NASA engineer: Waiving safety margins 'crazy', CNN

[Bob Daugherty] "You never throw away a margin while you're sitting on the ground in comfort. Those things are designed for when you're flying. This is an aging vehicle. Those failures and unknowns are probably there because it's an aging vehicle, and you're crazy to throw away that safety while you're sitting there on the ground."

Difficult Choices

The Safest Shuttle Tank Ever, editorial, NY Times

"Leaving the station half-finished would diminish its scientific value and anger some partner nations. But if the next phase of shuttle repairs looked daunting, a half-finished station might look pretty good."

NASA Grounded, editorial, Washington Post

"Before sinking billions of dollars into manned space missions to the moon or Mars, politicians should reflect hard on the price, in dollars and in lives, of what may someday be known as the space shuttle fiasco."

Debris Update

Shuttle will face more scrutiny today, Orlando Sentinel

"A review of more than 90 percent of Discovery's photo, radar and laser images from the first three days in space has so far failed to turn up any significant problems."

NASA: Foam may have hit wing, CNN

"Late Thursday, NASA officials said deeper analysis of camera footage shot during launch showed a small piece of foam may have struck the wing of Discovery's orbiter -- a scenario eerily similar to the accident that doomed its sister ship, Columbia, in February 2003."

Timing of fuel tank foam loss saved Discovery from big hit, SpaceflightNow

"The shuttle Discovery's crew might have dodged a bullet when a piece of foam debris broke away from an aerodynamic ramp on the side of the ship's external fuel tank during launch Tuesday."

White House Press Briefing 28 July 2005 (NASA Excerpt)

"In terms of the latest announcement, NASA has not made any decision or announced anything about the timing of the next mission. The experts at NASA continue to look at all the facts and all the data. And once they have had the opportunity to do so, then they will come to some conclusions and make decisions about how to proceed."

Discovery Arrives at Space Station

"Space Shuttle Discovery reached its orbital destination this morning. Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 7:18 a.m. EDT to begin an eight-day stay at the Station. During the approach to the ISS, the Shuttle crew performed a maneuver to allow the Station crewmembers to take more imagery of the Station's heat shield."

Editor's note: "the Station's heat shield"? I did not know it had one.

Despite Efforts, Debris Is Still an Issue, WAshington Post

"NASA may also have bet wrongly in the final months before the launch that external tank ice -- rather than foam insulation -- posed the largest risk to the shuttle. It delayed the launch twice primarily to confront the ice problem, but in the end, it was the foam that vexed the agency again."

Statement by NASA Administrator on Foam-Shedding From Space Shuttle External Tank

"Among the things we are testing are the integrity of the foam insulation and the performance of new camera equipment installed to detect problems. The cameras worked well. The foam did not."

NASA Suspending Shuttle Program Over Foam Debris, NY Times

"The effort to fix the foam problem had consumed more than two years and hundreds of millions of dollars. In the end, NASA identified the area on the tank that shed the foam as a risk, but put off redesigning it. "We decided it was safe to fly as is," Mr. Parsons said. "Obviously, we were wrong."

Discovery's fuel tank shed unexpectedly large pieces of foam, Orlando Sentinel

"Space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank shed several pieces of unexpectedly large foam insulation during launch Tuesday in a serious setback for NASA's return to flight efforts. NASA sources told the Orlando Sentinel today that pictures taken by Discovery's astronauts and a camera on the orbiter's belly revealed that a piece of a foam ramp protecting a liquid hydrogen fuel line on the tank broke off about two minutes after launch. The images also showed that several surprisingly big pieces of foam broke off the tank's bipod area where a pair of struts connects the tank to the orbiter."

Foam loss grounds shuttle fleet again, Spaceflight Now

"The largest pieces of foam did not strike Discovery and engineers believe the ship's seven-member crew will be able to safely return to Earth Aug. 7 after a long-awaited mission to deliver supplies and equipment to the space station."

NASA Will Not Fly Shuttle Again Until Debris Problem Understood, SpaceRef

"Clearly, with the event we had, we were wrong. We did not contact the orbiter at all. But it does give us pause to go back and look at what it is. Until it is closed we will not fly again. Might as well let that out now. Until we are ready we will not fly again."

- NASA External Tank Images 27 July 2005
- NASA Images from Post-MMT Briefing 27 July 2005

Space Adventures' Orbital Spaceflight Candidate, Greg Olsen, Confirmed to the Soyuz TMA-7 Crew

"Space Adventures announced today that American technology entrepreneur Gregory Olsen, Ph.D. has been confirmed to the Soyuz TMA-7 crew which is currently planned for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."

Editor's note: With the grounding of the Shuttle fleet it will be interesting to see if this third seat will be used for a sightseer or someone who will actually work aboard the ISS.

Editor's note: Check out this page at the Newseum. Looks like Discovery's launch made virtually every front page.

Discovery Debris Update

Sensor boom to scan shuttle during inspections today,

"[Lead flight director Paul Hill] There's been a lot of concern about whether or not we'll over react and that would paralyze us for making all of the right decisions during the flight or maybe jumping the gun and repairing a vehicle when we didn't need to repair the vehicle."

Intense Hunt for Signs of Damage Could Raise Problems of Its Own, NY Times

"But all this inspection may be a mixed blessing. The more NASA looks for damage, engineers and other experts say, the more it will find. And the risks of overreaction to signs of damage while the shuttle is in orbit may be just as great as the risks of playing them down."

NASA sends shuttle to space, debris fears arise, Reuters

"NASA successfully launched space shuttle Discovery on Tuesday, but anxiously reviewed video showing debris falling from the craft during liftoff, the same problem that caused the fatal Columbia disaster 2-1/2 years earlier."

Congressional Reaction

Rep. Calvert Congratulates NASA on the Successful Launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery

House Science Democrats: Great Day for NASA and Shuttle Discovery

Boehert and Calvert Congratulate NASA on a Successful Return to Flight

"This morning, as I was talking with some of the dedicated men and women at NASA, I reminded them that last Friday, by a 383-15 bipartisan vote, they were given a resounding vote of confidence," Chairman Boehlert added referring to the House's overwhelming passage of H.R. 3070, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005."

Sen. Hutchison Lauds NASA on Successful Return to Flight

"On June 23, Sen. Hutchison passed her NASA reauthorization bill through the full Senate Commerce Committee. The bill authorizes NASA for Fiscal Years 2006 through 2010, provides a legislative framework for a national space exploration policy, requires completion of the International Space Station (ISS) and prohibits a gap in U.S. human space flight capability. The legislation also designates the U.S. segment of the ISS as a national laboratory facility and requires the administrator to outline operations and functions of ISS national laboratory activities."

NASA STS-114 Mission Status Report #01 26 July 2005

"Discovery lifted off at 9:39 a.m. central time today following a flawless countdown. Over the next 11 days, Discovery's seven person crew will demonstrate techniques for inspecting and protecting the Shuttle's thermal protection system and continue assembly of the International Space Station. Today's launch was the first for a Shuttle since the loss of Columbia and its crew in February 2003."


Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off on time this morning at 10:39 am EDT after a flawless countdown.

Discovery is now on its way to orbit and eventually to the International Space Station.

NASA Photos of US Air Force F-15 Eagle Jetfighters Providing Air Cover Over Kennedy Space Center

Editor's note: According to an internal NASA memo, "A flight of US Air Force F-15 Eagle Jetfighters helped to provide air cover over Kennedy Space Center and the shuttle launch pad against terrorist attacks during yesterday's launch countdown of the Space Shuttle Discovery."

Reader comment: "Just thought you might want to know that the F-15 pictures are not from the pre-launch time frame of the upcomingDiscovery launch. They are post-9/11 photos. One dead giveaway, the pictures of the vehicle on the launch pad are of Pad A, not Pad B where Discovery is located. Theproofof this is in the crawlerway which is curvedjust prior to reaching Pad A and straight just prior to reaching Pad B. It doesn't mean that F-15's weren't patrolling Discovery, just that the photos are old."

NASA Puts Shuttle Mission's Risk at 1 in 100, NY Times

"With a new realism born of disaster, NASA says that the risk of catastrophic failure during the space shuttle Discovery's mission is about 1 in 100, more than twice as great as an upbeat estimate issued before the loss of the Columbia in 2003."

Shuttle Launching Faces Two Familiar Obstacles, NY Times

"Michael D. Griffin, the agency's administrator, said Sunday that he was "comfortable" with how agency managers were dealing with recent technical problems. The space agency, Mr. Griffin said, is not "brushing away" uncertainty, but dealing with it the way that scientists and engineers do, which is to "balance one type of risk with another type or risk."

Shuttle to Be Launched Today If Weather, Sensors Cooperate, Washington Post

"NASA engineers readied the space shuttle Discovery for a second launch attempt, scheduled for Tuesday, keeping one eye on Florida's capricious summer weather and another on fuel sensors whose mysterious malfunction scrubbed the first try nearly two weeks ago."

Mission Status Center, Spaceflightnow

Old Dog, New Tricks?

Why NASA's making the right decision - Analysis, not wishful thinking, guiding shuttle officials, MSNBC

"At first glance, NASA's decision to possibly launch even if a sensor glitch reappears suggests that the space agency was wrong two weeks ago to postpone the launch. However, the two decisions actually are very different, and indicate how much NASA's safety culture has improved."

High Tech in the 70's, Shuttles Feel Their Age, NY Times

"After the postponement on July 13, Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, told reporters at a news conference he wondered "whether I could find a single electronics box in my house that's 25 years old and still works, and I don't think I can."

Editor's note: Gee Mike, I have an electronic clock radio that I bought in 1978 and it still works just fine. I have a transistor radio I got as a kid in the 60's It works fine too. Indeed, I also have a radio that my father used to listen to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadacast in 1938, and it works OK too (original tubes and all). Of course there's Voyagers 1 and 2 which are pushing 30 - and have even been remotely reprogrammed more than once.

Editor's note: According to CNN, First Lady Laura Bush will be at the shuttle launch tomorrow. She will view the launch at the Banana Creek viewing area and then visit the LCC firing room after the launch.

Interesting Ad Concept

Editor's note: The graphic shown here is the work of a team of students from the University of Texas at Austin who were enrolled in a jointly listed class for both advertising and radio, television and film students conducted by Professor Neal M. Burns. Part of the course assignment involved participating in the NASA Means Business 2005 effort.

Amazing - But Aging

High Tech in the 70's, Shuttles Feel Their Age, NY Times

"The document, which was first reported on, said the wires were coated with an insulator known as Kapton that tended to break down over time, causing short circuits and, potentially, fires."

NASA to Launch Even if Problem Recurs, AP

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he supports the decision and even hopes the problem recurs to further pinpoint the source of the trouble. He acknowledged that the public might perceive that the space agency is rushing to launch, but insisted it was the right technical judgment. "These are rather arcane matters, I would admit. They're rather difficult and sometimes they don't always present well," Griffin said. "But in the long run, I think if it's the right thing, we can explain it to you and you want us doing what's right, not what necessarily is obvious or popular."

STS-114 Preps Continue

Astronauts endorse NASA's fuel sensor strategy, SpaceflightNow

"In the meantime, NASA managers ordered engineers to swap the wiring used to connect sensors 2 and 4 to the point sensor box. If sensor 4 acts up during fueling Tuesday, troubleshooters will have strong evidence the problem is, in fact, in the wiring and not a generic problem that could affect the other sensors."

NASA May Cut Shuttle Flights and Reduce Science on Station, Science (subscription)

"But Griffin's job over the next several months will be to satisfy a White House eager to move beyond the station, placate foreign partners frustrated by delays, and convince lawmakers that he isn't ignoring station science. "With a radically reduced [shuttle] flight rate, the change is going to be traumatic," warns one official. "We're in a mess." That mess may well prove more daunting than a successful return to flight aboard Discovery."

NASA Moving Toward Tuesday Launch Attempt for Shuttle Discovery

"With some work still to go, NASA is moving toward a new launch attempt for the Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday, July 26, at 10:39 a.m. EDT. Engineers are wrapping up a troubleshooting plan to address a fuel sensor system issue that caused Space Shuttle managers to scrub the first launch attempt for the Return to Flight mission, STS-114."

NASA OIG: Space Shuttle Orbiter Wiring Inspection, final memorandum issued

"When NASA elects to bypass its risk management requirements it is turning away from the safety and management principles built into the policy and is engaging in "decision making processes that operate outside the organization's rules," which was cited in the CAIB report's executive summary."

STS-114 Update

NASA ponders launch next week, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA managers are trying to keep all their options open and get Discovery off the ground before the current launch window ends July 31. "Hopefully, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we will find the glitch that has us all confused or frustrated or pick your adjective," said Wayne Hale, NASA's shuttle-program deputy manager."

NASA mulls launch options, SpaceflightNow

"NASA managers today told the shuttle launch team to gear up for a possible attempt to launch Discovery next Tuesday if troubleshooters can either fix the fuel sensor problem that grounded the ship last week or gather enough data to prove it won't affect other sensors this time around."

NASA Is Pushing for a Shuttle Liftoff, NY Times

"But so far, a eureka moment has eluded NASA, and officials are looking for ways to return to flight before the current launching window closes on July 31. If they are unable to launch by then, the next window opens on Sept. 9."

White House Memo Calls For Slashing Remaining Space Shuttle Flights, SpaceRef

Specifically, the memo says "The Administration is convinced that 28 Shuttle flights are not required to assemble a Space Station that meets the goals of the Vision and that this number of flights is not achievable by 2010. The projected increases to the Shuttle's lifetime budget could put the Vision in jeopardy ... To ensure that the Shuttle can be retired safely by the end of the decade at close to its planned lifetime budget, and without undue schedule pressure, Passback assumes that the Space Shuttle program is limited to a total of 15 additional flights to complete the assembly of the Space Station."

Earlier story: NASA and White House Discuss Early Shuttle Fleet Retirement, SpaceRef

Winging it, The Economist

"To what extent NASA is able to please everyone will depend on how many more shuttle flights there are. Even if the next few go ahead as planned, NASA will almost certainly fly fewer missions than the 28 it had once hoped for. Current speculation ranges from as few as 12 to as many as 20 flights."

Shuttle delay worries intl space station partners, Reuters

"NASA is now looking to fly 20 missions to the station at best, and more likely about 15, said NASA administrator Michael Griffin."

Aging NASA ships worry experts, AP

"If I have any worries at all, it's a few years from now, down the road, when the hardware gets older," said Bob Sieck, a former shuttle launch director and NASA safety adviser.

RTF Update

Wayne Hale: "The simple things we did last night did not provide us with any resolution to the problem"... "We are going forward on a day-by-day basis. As soon as we find the problem we will fix it then we will be 4 days from launch. What will that date be? I don't know."... "We are not becoming pessimistic about making the July window. We are here for the duration and will give it the old college try."

NASA Updates Media About Space Shuttle Launch Status

"Space Shuttle managers will brief reporters this afternoon about NASA's Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission (STS-114). The news conference starts no earlier than 5:30 p.m. EDT, and it will be carried live on NASA TV from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla."


Discovery launch pushed back more, SpaceflightNow

NASA's shuttle launch off till late next week, Reuters

"NASA said on Friday that the earliest it could launch the space shuttle Discovery on the first shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia accident would be late next week, after liftoff was postponed two days ago because of a technical problem."

RTF Monday?

Sunday launch odds are low, Orlando Sentinel

"The best-case scenario would give NASA another launch attempt at 2:14 p.m. Sunday. The chance of that happening, however, is virtually zero."

NASA'S Return to Flight Launch no Earlier Than Sunday

"NASA announced the earliest the Return to Flight Space Shuttle mission (STS-114) could launch is 2:14 p.m. EDT, Sunday, July 17. Mission Management Team and engineering meetings took place last night and today at NASA's Kennedy Space Center."

Note from "The level sensor itself is a platinum wire. The wet/dry situation is a measure of resistance. After the tank was drained, one sensor showed wet but 3 hours later showed dry. In a later test the sensor again disagreed with the others but 5 minutes later agreed. Current thinking is that the vast time difference in the reading returning to nominal indicates that this is a mechanical problem where vibration (wind gusts, etc.) that can produce instant effects would be causal, rather than electrical where environmental (temperature, humidity) changes that are slow to build and slow to dissipate would be the culprit."

Launch on hold for troubleshooting, Spaceflight Now

"Shuttle engineers are trying pinpoint why one of four critical hydrogen fuel sensors failed a test late in the shuttle Discovery's countdown Wednesday, forcing NASA managers to scrub the agency's long-awaited return to flight."

Part fails, delaying Discovery launch, Orlando Sentinel

"Two of the sensors malfunctioned April 14 during a test in which engineers fueled Discovery's tank. However, the sensors worked properly during a second test of the same tank May 20."

Fear of Flying, OpEd, NY Times

"As NASA prepares for its first space shuttle launching since the Columbia disaster, the question on everyone's lips is this one: Is the shuttle safe? My answer, as the former chairman of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, is that there is no such thing as safety. Spaceflight will always be risky. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it."

NASA and White House Discuss Early Shuttle Fleet Retirement, SpaceRef

"NASA is considering retiring a Space Shuttle orbiter in 2007 and beginning modifications to one shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center under a plan now being reviewed at NASA headquarters, according to senior agency sources. No final decision has been made but discussions continued as Discovery was being prepared for launch."

Editor's note: Today's launch of the space shuttle Discovery has been scrubbed due to a low level fuel cut off sensor problem. No new launch date has been set yet. The crew is preparing to disembark the shuttle at this time.

Editor's note: The rain has let up, the power (and air conditioning) are back on, and the crew is climbing into Discovery.

Editor's note: Dark clouds are gathering over KSC - and they do not seem to be moving very fast. It is raining and loud thunder can be heard nearby. Meanwhile, due to heavy power usage, the main generator here at the press site just went out leaving much of the immense media swarm without some of their systems. A stage 1 lightning alert is in effect and people have just been told to take cover. So far the WiFi is still working.

NASA Space Shuttle Processing Status Report 12 July 2005

"At about 5 p.m. today during routine closeouts at the launch pad, the cover of Discovery's window number seven, one of the overhead crew cabin windows, fell about 65 feet and hit a carrier panel on the left Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod, damaging several tiles. The tiles were on a single carrier panel, which fits over the area. A spare carrier panel was taken to the pad and used to replace the damaged panel. The replacement procedure took about an hour to complete".

Ready for liftoff, CNN

"But after Columbia, some say, the agency may have finally started listening.Maybe the point wasn't driven completely home with Challenger, but it certainly was with Columbia," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA scientist who now runs the independent watchdog publication "It certainly seems that the senior management gets it. Whether it has filtered down to everyone involved ... it's a bureaucracy, and it probably never will, but there are some changes."

Roaring Comeback, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"Discovery's zero-to-Mach 25 launch to orbit will be propelled by Space Shuttle Main Engines and Solid Rocket Boosters that have undergone substantially increased testing and rigorous quality oversight in the two years since the Columbia accident."

Flight of the Phoenix, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"Crew safety is paramount, but the immediate fate of thousands of shuttle related aerospace jobs across the U.S. is also quite literally riding on the success or failure of Discovery's return to flight and subsequent shuttle missions."

Calm and steady, launch director ready for liftoff, Orlando Sentinel

"I am a fan of ordinary people doing something extraordinary, and, for the most part, that describes our presidents," [Mike] Leinbach said. He turned and gestured through a giant window in his office toward the launchpad where space shuttle Discovery awaits liftoff Wednesday. "We have 14,000 people doing extraordinary things out here."

STS-114 Crew Now Arriving at KSC at 6:30 pm Saturday July 9

"Due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Dennis in the Gulf Coast, the crew of STS-114 will now arrive at KSC a day early."

Songwriter and Entertainer Glenn Medeiros Writes Timely and Inspirational Tune for NASA's Return to Flight Launch Scheduled for Next Week

"Glenn Medeiros, well known for his smooth rendition of "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" and the #1 MTV hit recorded with Bobby Brown, "She Ain't Worth It" has written a tribute song to the fallen astronauts of the past and an inspiration to future flights and space exploration."

Griffin: "We're Go for launch on July 13th."

NASA says Discovery is a 'go', Orlando Sentinel

"A standing ovation erupted in the meeting room after the traditional polling of managers for whether they were "go" or "no go." "I had a lump in my throat," said Bill Parsons, NASA's shuttle-program manager. "For us to get the 'go' to proceed from this point on was a big step, and we're pretty proud of what we've accomplished."

Chairman Hutchison Applauds NASA Return to Flight - Will attend July 13 shuttle launch in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"I am pleased NASA has approved a return to flight date and I look forward to attending the launch that will mark an important milestone in space exploration for the United States," Chairman Hutchison said. "It took a great deal of hard work and dedication by NASA to get us safely back in flight and leading the world in exploration."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from July 2005.

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