RE: OT: The Columbia

Subject: RE: OT: The Columbia
From: JB Foster <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 10:34:14 -0700

John, of course everything is speculation now ... even from the experts. I
believe that there was more than just some missing tiles, to this. Columbia
was the original shuttle, and regardless of the x-ray tests, you can never
guarantee any existing fracture (and there would have been many) will not be
the one that fails under a certain situation.

As for nuclear reactors. They don't under-go the same degree of stress. The
loads on the contaminated reactor-pipes are the same pressures we've used in
steam-systems for over 200 years. And still no one can guarantee a rupture.
Goes on, more than you think ... especially with the older plants. You can't
afford to shut it down, you can't afford to replace every suspected pipe,
and you can't afford to pass on the cost ... it's a catch-22. However, as
long as you know the core can be shut down, nothing catastrophic can (I
pause about that - maybe 'hope') happen. That's why there are nuclear power
facilities still operating well after their 40 year lifespan in the U.S.,
And it's the reason Columbia was never retired ... cost of replacement.

Maintenance Engineers often get deluded with fancy procedure manuals, and
start to forget that basically everything has a life. If the more you chose
to continue using something, the more likely you'll find it's life span.
When you find the life span of a nuclear reactor, you shut it down, and do
some mopping up. When you find the lifespan of a plane or rocket, you pick
the little pieces up ... and add to that procedure manual. Always has been
that way, always will ... engineering is still more art, than science!


John Posada wrote:

> I've been staying out because I like discussing something with some fact
> behind it rather than only pure conjecture However...
> >I'm not surprised there was a possible failure in one of the wheel
> housings,
> >or it's cover. Considering these shuttles are getting old, and
> the launches
> >have become rather frequent. Also, there is a tendency - when you
> repeatedly
> >expose a plane, or shuttle, to extreme stress - that the chances of a
> >catastrophic failure will increase. There will always be stress-fractures
> Each shuttle gets over 1 million man-hours of between flight
> maintenance and
> as far as the stress...there are electrical and x-ray tests that you can
> perform on metal to test for fatigue, such as what you do for testing
> structural material in nuclear reactors that will detect any sign
> of stress.


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RE: OT: The Columbia: From: John Posada

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