RE: OT: The Columbia

Subject: RE: OT: The Columbia
From: "Spreadbury, David C." <David -dot- Spreadbury -at- marconi -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 09:53:20 -0500

There was another option; if mission control had felt that the astronauts
were in danger, they could have diverted them to an alternate landing site
immediately after takeoff. Apparently they did not feel that the loss of
tiles at takeoff did not pose a serious enough threat to the mission.
Obviously, if it determined that this was one of the possible causes of this
terrible accident, NASA will be doing some serious testing and probably come
up with a better way to attach the tiles than with the extra-super-duper
super glue they now use. Maybe even a different kind of protective skin for
the fuel tanks as well as the fuselage of the shuttle.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jan Henning [mailto:henning -at- r-l -dot- de]
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 8:41 AM
Subject: Re: OT: The Columbia

> I understand that there's no other alternate
> procedure for re-entry.

In principle, there are variosu alternate procedures:

- Repairing the damage in space

- Taking refuge in the ISS

- Transferring to another shuttle

In this concrete case, however, none of these procedures would have
been available:

- None of the astronauts was trained in working outside the shuttle,
and there weren't any thermal tiles on board anyway.

- The Columbia couldn't dock at the ISS. (Don't know if it would have
been reachable with available fuel.)

- As far as I know, no emergency shuttle was available. (But maybe they
could have prepared one had the seriousness of the damage been known
right after the start?)

Jan Henning

Jan Henning
Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web:


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