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The Space Race was about Power Projection - Miles O'Brien

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Old February 6th 17, 11:49 PM posted to sci.space.history
Greg \(Strider\) Moore
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Default The Space Race was about Power Projection - Miles O'Brien

"Jeff Findley" wrote in message

In article ,
Columbia could have been saved; if they used ground based telescopes
to find the damage, then they would have had 2 weeks to come up with a
patch from either material on board or material sent up on an
expendable rocket, then EVAs to apply the patch. The ability to patch
would have been marginal, but they would have had a good shot at a
safe landing.

Do you understand what was damaged on Columbia? I don't think you
could have seen it with a ground based telescope and even if you could
the Shuttle would have been a write off because there was no way to
effect a repair on orbit. There's no way to 'patch' that kind of

No way? Au contraire. It is quite possible that *duct tape* might have
gotten them home.

The Air Force has a program called "ABDR" that teaches how to do such
repairs. They will cut things like soda cans and flatten them out and
then duct tape them onto holes on a jet's wing or fuselage as a viable

So for doing a MacGyver-style Aircraft Battle Damage Repair of Columbia's
wing leading edge, you scour the crew cabin for some flat bendable piece
of metal. Maybe use clipboards. Whatever. Then go out and tape it over
the gaping hole. On day of Entry, hope it holds long enough to get you

Wrong. The wing leading edge was reinforced carbon-carbon composite.
This was the material on the shuttle which could withstand the most
reentry heating. This isn't something you can "MacGyver" with any spare
parts on board Columbia.

I'm on the side that... I think you're right but... :-)

(and I'll be honest it's been awhile since I read the CAIB, I think this was
covered in there, but I don't recall the details)

So I agree, any chance of fixing this was virtually impossible, BUT there
were three possible things that might have helped.

1) Back the space between the hole as much as possible with beta cloth (I
believe the CAIB suggested cannibalizing it from the rear of the cargo bay)
2) I think this was in the CAIB also, but then filling as much of the space
as possible with water pouches. The idea being to take advantage of the heat
of fusion to help absorb some of the heat
3) As much as possible, shape (I think it was the water bags) into the shape
of the leading edge.

Oh a 4th thing I think was mentioned: cold-soaking the wing-root and flying
a modified re-entry.

The goal was never to be able to land the shuttle, but to reduce the
burn-through as much possible and delay it as much as possible so that it
might have been possible for the crew to bail out.

Now that all said, I think the odds of this being successful are pretty dang

I just tried to download the actual chapter, but my browsers are barfing on

That all said, any repair would have been far more complicated than Stuf4
makes it out to be and far less likely to succeed.

One of the biggest problems with complex issues is generally they don't have
simple causes or simple solutions.


Greg D. Moore http://greenmountainsoftware.wordpress.com/
CEO QuiCR: Quick, Crowdsourced Responses. http://www.quicr.net


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