NASA Looks at going back to basics

An article run on the UPI wire today suggests NASA is looking at a return to Apollo style capsules. The article cites NASA reports suggesting that the Apollo style modules may be more cost effective than attempting another winged style craft.

Searching for Columbia - Day 4

We arrived at the new ICP still without and idea of where or when we will be doing the training of the crews. We were told that we were going to move permanently to a new ICP. It is in town in a huge warehouse. Everything will be inside out of the rain and elements. There was not much for us to do except train the crew bosses about grid searching in theoretical terms. They were pretty receptive. It is hard to grasp the concept without a visual so wanted them to take back the information to their crews and be ready to try it tomorrow. We got to eat at the new facility and talked about how we wanted to tackle the training tomorrow. It would be bigger than any group any of us had ever trained so we would need to coordinate well. We headed off to bed with a lot of thoughts.

Search for Columbia - Day 2

An obnoxious rooster announced the prematurely. We departed at 4:40 a.m. heading to Nacogdoches ICP for breakfast and orientation. We were introduced to the search technique being taught and we orientated to the map system that was going to be used. Meeting with Tom Minor from Washington USAR was an enlightening step in determining what our true purpose was.

Grabbing a bag lunch and headed into the field to watch the teams in action. The terrain was mild and did not give us any clues to what was to come. We loaded up and headed off to our ICP in Palestine where we would make our home for the next several weeks. Texas roads are barely big enough for 2 cars but people feel the need to pass on every double yellow line there is.

Palestine ICP was located at a small livestock showing grounds. There were 2 indoor arenas and 1 outdoor arena. Not a traditional Type 1 Camp but then what is? Although there were sheltered places for tents no one was allowed to use them. There was a livestock show in a few days and we were not allowed to use the shelter. The person setting up camp seemed to think this was all right. However, having 600 people in tents when there was 2 inches of rainfall a day was not going to work for this mission.

Searching for Columbia - Day 1

With 2 days notice Dan and I were dispatched to Texas in late February to help lead legions of federal firefighters in the search for Columbia's remains in eastern Texas. Over the next days I'll post the story of that trip.

We got to the airport 2 hours before our flight. Flying with a one way ticket bought the day before does not allow you a speedy departure. We were put through every known screening the airport has. Searching every article we brought, taking a little more than 2 hours. Leaving the confiscated items (waterproof matches) from the checked bags with Josh to take home we headed off to the terminal. Again are carry-ons were searched as well as our shoes and our clothing. With 10 minutes to catch our plane hope was not my dominant feeling, but we got there just as the doors were getting ready to close. Having seen Kevin in line and knew that he was not going to make the flight but we met our team leader Kelly from Rocky Mountain Rescue Group when we got on the plane.

We began to prepare ourselves for the job that lay ahead. I went over some equations for POD and spacing that I took out of Managing a Lost Person Incident. One equation I found interesting was POD = 100 - (.5 x spacing). I am interested to see the studies behind this particular equation -- a topic for another time.

Report rasies more safety concerns at NASA

USA TODAY: NASA found a weakened wing panel on another shuttle almost a year ago. According to the article NASA said the Shuttle Discovery's safety "was not comprimised" when they found a 2-inch tear in a leading edge surface where four-hundredths of one inch is considered the maximum. This is EXACTLY the same type of things that Feynman writes about in his appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Challenger accident. How a surface can tear fifty times more than it was designed to withstand and be considered uncompromising of the safety of the craft and its crew. The situation should have been seen as the potentially near catastrophic situation it really was and treated with the seriousness it deserved.

Starting tomorrow I'll publish Sarah's account of participating in the recovery efforts for the Columbia.


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