NASA's Return to Flight Mission July 13!

A Slashdot user commented on the fact it appeared that Tiles fell off. If I could download a video or something, I’d like to see it, I mist have missed it on CNN.

It would have been cool to watch the carmera attached to it as it fell back to earth. but it unfortudently orbits for a good deal of time (as it had orbital veolicity when it seperates from the shuttle itself).

Does anyone else get goosebumps when they hear the words, “ground launch sequencer is a go for auto sequence start?” I do, and I’m glad to see the shuttle program back.

A video from Cnn can be found here although I’ll keep searching for a full video of the launch, that one only covered the first 2:40 of it. But watch around 2:20, when the external boosters detach, it freaks me out a little bit that its a flaming firefball that looks like its falling apart. The detachment I saw on the original webcast showed the main fuel booster coming off that was pretty cool. But it looks like Nasa is back in space.

Welcome back, Discovery. :slight_smile: We’ve missed you.

Thanks for the link :slight_smile:

I’ve just posted a thread in Chit-Chat on how to spot International Space Station and space shuttle discovery. So if you’re interested go here

Glad to finally see that shuttle up there again. IMO, I don’t think anything that fell off looked too serious, except for maybe that little piece of tile, but I’m not the expert. Followed along with the mission broadcast on NASA TV all day, and it seems that they got every thing done that they needed to today, so thats good. Hope the rest of their mission is successful.

Also, the top of the external fuel tank strikes a bird at liftoff…poor bird :frowning:

Yeah, I saw those birds circling right over the launchpad, and I’m not really surprised. That must have been quite a knock, though. Today’s launch (alright, yesterday’s, but its still Tuesday for me) went beautifully. The onboard cameras also showed the incredible journey the shuttle takes when it is launched.

NASA continues to amaze me, especially at the precision and integrity of their work (one tiny error in one of hundreds of thousands of parts, miles of cable, and thousands of tiles can jeapordize the mission). Hats off to all the NASA engineers, who did an incredible job!

You may be right. . . I just heard that a small piece of foam tile broke off the shuttle but the crew is going to try and fix it.

Woah, you got your info a little confused. The foam insulation on the external tank did shed in at least three places, but there are no such thing as foam tiles. The largest piece of foam was the one in the picture I posted, which came from the Protuberance Air Load (PAL) Ramp, while the two smaller ones came from the left bipod area (the area where the foam that hit Columbia came from). You can see a nice high-res picture of the tank missing all three pieces of foam at http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/123625main_s114e5070_high.jpg(1.5MB). While it doesn’t look like the big foam piece hit anything, it is unknown what happened to the little pieces. However, even the big piece is smaller than the bipod ramp that hit Columbia. These cannot be repaired as the tank has already burned up in the atmosphere.

Seperately, a small piece of tile (approx. 1 square inch) chipped off the forward landing gear well door on the shuttle orbiter. This is not really a concern, as there have been literally thousands of documented tile shedding events, and none have resulted in vehicle damage during reentry (Columbia had a damaged RCC panel, which is very different).

There are currently no plans for actual tile repair on the vehicle. There are plans (which have always been part of the mission) to test repair methods on pre-damaged panels which are being stored in a box in the payload bay, but none of these repair methods are flight-certified yet. Unless the analysis of the LIDAR (laser scanner) data shows that a significant amount of tile is missing, this is not expected to change.

However, as a result of the foam shedding, the shuttle fleet has been grounded (meaning that Atlantis probably won’t fly this year).

Grounding the Shuttle again! :frowning:

This is very upsetting, after we just made it back to space and everything. But i do agree that we have to fix all the problems so we will not have another disaster

It is very unfortunate to see the fleet grounded again, but it is all in the interest of safety. I hope they can figure out the issue. Also does any one know whether or not this applies for Atlantis should it need to be launched for a rescue? If not and a rescue were needed, what would be the solution?

My best guess would be keeping the crew at ISS and asking for another favor from Russia, or another country planning a mission in the coming weeks/months.

wow its like everyone (china, america, russia) is rushing to get to space. its just like the olden days! :ahh:

What other countries have their own launch vehicles to get people?

Wetzel

Only one spacecraft could carry an entire shuttle crew back; that is, of course, another shuttle (crew capacity is up to ten, if so equipped). If Discovery needed rescue, another shuttle could be launched with a crew of two or three (with two being the minimum—unlike Buran, shuttles can’t fly unmanned); I seriously doubt they would let a little thing like pieces of foam stand in the way of a rescue. By the way, the ISS is not equipped for long-duration occupancy by a shuttle crew—it would require several more shuttle flights to attach additional modules, and many more years (with the most optimistic scheduling) to even approach that sort of capacity.

As for other nations, China’s in no condition to mount a rescue, given that they only have the Shenzhou (3 occupants, but only flown unmanned and with one aboard), and one manned spaceflight in total. Russia has only Soyuz (3 occupants), of which several would be needed—it is possible, though not especially likely that Russia has any spaceworthy Soyuz craft ready to launch. You’d need three flights between the Soyuz and the Shenzhou. (And please, nobody suggest any of the X-Prize entries…)

But of course, there are no reports of significant damage to the shuttle. Just the potential for trouble during the future launches.

Well, the US would have to do something. CNN said earlier that the grounding of the fleet could quite possibly mean Atlantis (or whatever the reasue craft is) would be grounded from taking off even if it needed to be used for a rescue. Meaning, I guess the crew would be stuck on ISS and in deperate needs of food/supplies until someone figured out a logical way to solve the problems at hand.

I really think if there was need for a rescue. They would research every possible option and if the only thing they could do is send up a rescue shuttle, I really think they would.

A few minutes ago, I saw an online article saying that Discovery is good to return, pending some laser examination of a slightly damaged area of the belly. Apparently ISS crew got pictures of areas thought to be damaged and they look fine.

In regards to a rescue mission being grounded, I doubt that will happen. The max crew size for that would be three, though I doubt that more than two would go. But, if they don’t need rescue, Atlantis is grounded until further notice, same as all the others.

I’d be willing to say that NASA is looking at new designs for a shuttle, if they haven’t started already.