Shuttle News: December 2008 Archives

Editor's 30 Dec note: There is a post regarding the release date of the Columbia report on the blog Rocketsandsuch read by folks in and around NASA written by an unhappy employee at NASA that claims "One spokesperson said it was released now to keep the crew's children from having to deal with questions from their classmates the following morning. Don't believe that for a minute. No, today's release was another piece of the duplicitous campaign for the Emperor to keep his job. ... This man knows no bounds, using seven dead crew as a lever for advancing his own career."

I submitted the following comment which as yet to be posted:

"Your statement regarding the choice of release date is wholly and demonstrably false. It was chosen for precisely the reason given. I have that on sterling, irrefutable, personal authority. To make such a statement is reprehensible, plain and simple. As for the rest of Griffin's campaign to keep his job, that is a different story. But for you to drag the concerns of the families of the Columbia crew in on this complaint about Griffin's activities so as to score a cheap and knowingly false point - and to do so anonymously at that - is cowardly and beyond repugnant. You should be ashamed of yourself. The decent thing for you to do would be to post a written apology immediately."

I simply cannot fathom how Mike Griffin could ever be a party to something as repugnant as this anonymous poster claims. Period.

Editor's 1 Jan note: The editor of Rocketsandsuch blog posted 8 comments - but not mine. So much for tolerance of different opinions on that site. Keep that in mind when you read it.

NASA Report Reviews Crew Safety Measures During Columbia Accident, Recommends Improvements

"A media teleconference will be held at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday to discuss the report. To participate, reporters must contact NASA's Johnson Space Center newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 2 p.m. Space may be limited. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:"


After the CAIB, Bill Parsons and Wayne Hale were informed that a lot of information was available that could be used to improve crew survival on future spacecraft. They asked a team to develop an NTSB-like report in this regard.

Report took as long as it needed to. Recommendations cover a broad array of subjects. Hale calls upon spacecraft designers around the world to read this report and implement its findings.

The accident was ultimately not survivable.

Columbia Report Issued

NASA Report: Understanding Columbia's Loss, SpaceRef

"Accidents are things to be avoided. However, by the very nature of how we currently send humans into space and return them to Earth, there is a substantial amount of risk involved. Much of that risk has been identified and is manageable. But not all of it. Of course, when you hear this discussion, someone inevitably says that the only way to make these things risk free is not to do them.

Well, we have decided to do these risky things, now haven't we?"

NASA Space Shuttle and Constellation Program Actions Resulting From SCSIIT Recommendations

The Columbia Report, Part 1, FreeSpace, Discovery News
The Columbia Report, Part 2, FreeSpace, Discovery News
NASA releases post-Columbia crew survival study, Spaceflight Now
NASA: Columbia crew equipment didn't work well, NewsDay
NASA to change spacecraft due to Columbia tragedy, Huntsville Times
New Report on 03 Disaster Details How Astronauts Died, NY Times
NASA faults equipment in Columbia shuttle disaster, CNN
Columbia crew had no chance, new NASA report says, Reuters
New Report Details Columbia Accident, Recommends Improvements, Universe Today
New NASA report details final minutes of Columbia, AP

NASA Might Change Hubble Mission Requirement to Keep Ares 1-X on Schedule,

"Current plans call for having Atlantis and Endeavour occupy Pads 39-A and 39-B, respectively, during preparations for the planned May 12 launch of the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission. But NASA officials now are considering launching Atlantis and then rolling Endeavour out to Pad 39-A, said Jeff Hanley, Constellation program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. This would make Pad 39-B available to undergo the three to four months of modifications necessary to support the Ares 1-X flight, he told reporters in a Wednesday press briefing."

Editor's note: After several years of safety-driven planning, Mike Griffin is now allowing Ares schedule pressure to drive the implementation of shuttle safety decisions in a last minute effort to try and salvage Ares. How quickly NASA forgets.

NASA Solicits Ideas for Displaying Retired Space Shuttles and Main Engines

"NASA today issued a Request for Information seeking ideas from educational institutions, science museums and other appropriate organizations about the community's ability to acquire and publicly display the space shuttle orbiters and space shuttle main engines after the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. Sponsored by NASA's Office of Infrastructure, the RFI seeks input from appropriate officials and decision-makers from museums, science centers, institutions and other organizations dedicated to education or educational outreach with experience in public display of space hardware and nationally recognized historic artifacts. NASA will use information gained from this RFI to develop strategies for eventual placement of two space shuttle orbiters and a minimum of six unassembled space shuttle main engine display "kits."

NASA Request for Information on Space Shuttle Orbiter and Space Shuttle Main Engine Placement

NASA seeks shuttle suitors: Museums may need to cover the costs for retired orbiters, Collectspace

"Though NASA has three orbiters -- Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour -- only two will be available for donation. NASA plans to reserve the third for the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, assuming they too can meet the same financial and facility requirements as the other museums."

Tough Decision Looms on Space Shuttle's Fate, Wall Street Journal

"Keeping the Shuttle flying is not without risks, however. An internal National Aeronautics and Space Administration study projects that extending the program until 2015 would cost up to an additional $13 billion and could increase the chances of accidents with astronauts aboard. Findings of the study, which has not yet been released, are likely to be discussed during a NASA news briefing on Wednesday."

Endeavour Heads to KSC

Space Shuttle Ferry Flight Arrival On NASA TV's Public Channel

"Mounted atop a modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft, Endeavour is scheduled to land at Kennedy at 2:30 p.m. EST after a three-day cross-country ferry flight from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif."

Editor's update: check the comments section for this posting and you will see some comments by John Shannon wherein he explains the thought/planing process that lead to one flyby and not another (weather).

Editor's update: Endeavour is now home at KSC. Alas, I only received this media advisory from NASA PAO 10 minutes after the actual landing time. But at least someone thought to send something out (unlike the JSC PAO crowd yesterday). However, I did know about the landing due to a Twitter posting hours ago by Bob Jacobs from NASA PAO. Once again new tools like Twitter prove their value over antiquated NASA tools such as their Listserv.

Editor's earlier note: Space Shuttle Endeavour is on the move again from Barksdale AFB to NASA KSC. Apparently, making a detour so as to fly over MAF and SSC or MSFC so that other NASA employees can see Endeavour is too much to ask. This is all rather odd given how little of a cost or planning issue it was for the JSC folks to do. Oh well. You can track its flight here (Note: FlightAware has been overloaded with users today so you may not get through). You can watch the arrival live on NASA TV at 2:30 pm EST.

Reader note: "A request to JSC to authorize a 20 mile detour so the folks of the Antelope Valley, CA (home to DFRC/Edwards AFB) could get a look was denied by JSC. But a longer detour over Texas was OK. What's right about that?"

JSC Flyover: Missed Opportunity, earlier post

Editor's update: According to NASA AO: they agree with the 1 hour extra flight time estimate. "The mated SCA burn rate is ~5000 gal/hr. At our average November DOD fuel cost, this would be approximately $14,400." So it was not all that expensive. Like I said, I was just using the numbers at hand - and I am leaving all of my bad guesses (and math) online for y'all to see.

Several people have suggested that there might be security issues involved. OK, let's consider that. Why does NASA publicly announce where the plane will be sitting for hours (days) at a time next to public roads? Why do they put the shuttle in the air twice as long as it needs to be, circling over a major metropolitan area at an abnormally low speed and altitude? That's sure not too smart if you do not want the bad guys to know where it is or point something at it.

For NASA to do something like this, and only tip off its employees that it is going to happen, while going out of their way not to tell the overwhelming majority of people who could have seen it, is just inexcusable regardless of the cost.

What is really troubling is the folks (at JSC) who have commented saying "I don't care what it cost". If ever there was a single comment that so aptly epitomized the biggest problem that NASA has today, that is it.

And NASA wonders why people have a problem connecting with what it does. They can't even announce a simple flyover - something that has the power to amaze everyone who sees it. What a bungled opportunity.

If an extra hour's flight time @$14,400/hour is not an issue, then I would hope that NASA considers trying to fly over the communities surrounding MAF and SSC, or MSFC on the way back to KSC - and give advanced notice such that a few more people can actually see this marvelous sight. Or is this something only JSC gets to see?

Reader note: "A request to JSC to authorize a 20 mile detour so the folks of the Antelope Valley, CA (home to DFRC/Edwards AFB) could get a look was denied by JSC. But a longer detour over Texas was OK. What's right about that?"

Editor's update: Is there any mention here at JSC of the flyover - photos, public reaction, etc.? No. Here on the events page? No. Here at the Shuttle page? No. Here at NASA HQ? No. The best flyby photos are online here and here. Non-PAO employees take better pictures and get them online when NASA PAO cannot figure out how to do so. This is so very odd given all of the commentary by JSC employees about my postings. NASA Watch has given the flyby more visibility than JSC's website has.

Earlier post below

Endeavour Flies Over JSC

bnjacobs: The people of Houston will get a nice air show around Noon CST when Endeavour flies overhead

bnjacobs: Around Noon we hope to have live video of Endeavour's flyby above JSC on NASA TV and

Editor's note: Here's a photo of the flyover via kittell on Twitter. More photos including the one on the right here via Saroy on Twitter.

Susanne P. Schwenzer, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Institute sent this photo of the flyover taken from the LPI parking lot.

PAO Snarkiness at JSC

16 Days in Space and ??? To Get Home, Free Space, Discovery News

"I got curious about how the weather actually turned out on Dec. 1, the day the shuttle likely would have landed if a 24-hour delay had been ordered. Apparently, I wasn't the only one, because Bill Johnson, the news chief at KSC, had the report on the ready: North to northwest winds up to 10 knots. Visibility: Unlimited. In other words, a good day for landing. The response from JSC was not so warm. "Wow, you're the weather forecaster now," sneered one public affairs officer whom I'll not name on the condition that he promise to refrain from using sarcasm in the future when responding to uncomfortable questions like, "Why didn't NASA wait a day to see if the weather in Florida got better?"



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from December 2008.

Shuttle News: November 2008 is the previous archive.

Shuttle News: January 2009 is the next archive.

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