Author Topic: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back  (Read 21636 times)

Offline Ares67

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RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« on: 05/05/2012 05:40 PM »
Hi, everybody, it took a while, but here is the first part of my presentation of NASA’s Return to Flight after the Challenger accident. In order to recap the situation shortly after January 28, let’s start with this Newsweek article:

NASA’s Troubled Flight Plan – There’s no turning back, but are we on the right path?

(By Melinda Beck with Mary Hager, William J. Cook, Mark Miller, Susan Katz and Daniel Shapiro – Newsweek / February 10, 1986)

See attached PDF-file

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #1 on: 05/05/2012 05:46 PM »
February 5: Columbia was powered up to allow workers to resume post-flight servicing and generic systems checkout and processing, NASA officials said. The work includes post-flight leak testing and functional testing on the three main engines, general orbiter inspections and routine thermal protection system maintenance. (Florida Today, Feb. 6, 1986)

February 20: Only 22 days after the U.S. space program had experienced the loss of Challenger and her seven-member crew – a Proton rocket rose into the early morning skies above the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Only minutes later it placed Mir into orbit – the next generation of Soviet space station technology. Although it represented only a slightly improved version of Salyut 7 – which was still operational at the time – there was one major difference between the old and the new generation: a five-port docking adapter at the front of Mir. Together with a rear docking port this represented the base block of a modular space station concept. During the next four years the Russians planned to dock another five modules to this base block. – Eventually it would take a little longer, but who – at the time – could have guessed that nine years after its launch this Mir (Peace) space station would start hosting American astronauts and in fact would represent the first step towards the ISS… 

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #2 on: 05/05/2012 05:50 PM »
March 1: NASA officials are investigating possible uses of launch pad heating units and a safety device on the Solid Rocket Boosters to prevent hot gases from escaping between segments. Developed at Kennedy Space Center for shuttle launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the heating unit is operated by two jet engines housed in a nearby building. The engines pump hot air through a pair of pipes. Each pipe has an outlet at the base of the shuttle, shooting heated air up between the boosters and the external tank, said Vandenberg spokeswoman Sharon Walker. (Florida Today, Mar. 2, 1986)

March 3: NASA acknowledged that shuttle flights would be halted for at least 18 months. The agency suggested that it might use some expendable rockets to pick up the slack caused by the Challenger disaster and ease scheduling pressures on future shuttles. - A record attendance at Spaceport USA is due in part to the Jan. 28 Challenger accident, according to Arnold Richman, chief of Kennedy Space Center's Visitors Services Branch. An estimated 200,000 people toured the KSC visitor information center in February, breaking a previous record of 146,950. "Before the accident we were up about 25 percent over last January," Richman said. "Afterwards, that surge just kept on gaining and going." He said he has noticed a marked change in the outlook of Spaceport USA visitors since the accident. "It's a little more intensive for the adults," Richman said. "They're more inquisitive. It's a more somber attitude. People are out there to read and see and learn about what is happening with our space program. When they're out here, they're much more attuned to what's going on." (Florida Today, Mar. 4, 1986)

March 5: NASA is proceeding with the construction of two projects at Kennedy Space Center worth $35 million. Work began last week on the $10 million Orbiter Modification Facility that will be used to prepare shuttles for flight. Construction also is continuing on a $25 million plant where the shuttle's Solid-fuel rocket boosters will undergo final assembly and refurbishing. Officials said the projects will provide a total of 475 jobs before construction is finished. NASA spokesman Jim Ball said the new orbiter facility is needed because the Vehicle Assembly Building had become cramped. "We had what amounted to a bottleneck," said Ball. "Whenever you were bringing in an external tank, you ran into conflicts." He said the facility will have a 95-foot-high bay where one orbiter can be stored while technicians do necessary work between flights. He also said the halt of the shuttle program would probably not affect work at the facility once it opens. "The only curtailment we currently have is not authorizing any overtime," he said. (The Orlando Sentinel, Mar. 6, 1986)

Don Dallas, 45-year-old Kennedy Space Center technician, received second-degree burns on his hands during an electrical accident at Pad 39A, said Lockheed spokesman Stuart Shadbolt. "He was trying to cut off a portion of the line itself," said Shadbolt. "In so doing, he caught the electricity in his hands." Dallas was taken to KSC's occupational health facility after the accident. He remained in satisfactory condition through the night in Titusville's Jess Parrish Memorial Hospital, said a spokesman for the hospital. (Florida Today, Mar. 6, 1986)

March 6: The launch of conventional unmanned rockets from Cape Canaveral is receiving new attention with the hiatus in the shuttle program. "We are continuing to implement the schedule that calls for the launch of seven expendable vehicles between now and August 1987," said NASA spokesman George Diller. The next unmanned launch is scheduled for May 1 and will deploy a weather satellite to be used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Florida Today, Mar. 7, 1986)

March 12: Kennedy Space Center's runway is safe and will continue to be used when the shuttle program resumes, according to Dr. Charles Niebauer, chief of launch and landing operations. "We think the landings at Kennedy, given good weather conditions, are safe, and we don't think there will be a change in that philosophy," he said. (Florida Today, Mar. 13, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #3 on: 05/05/2012 06:00 PM »
March 13: NASA's woes were further accentuated by a Soviet coup. Just as U.S. television cameras were showing the Navy recovery ship, the U.S.S. Preserver, bringing to Port Canaveral its dolorous cargo in a flag-draped container last week, Soviet television was beaming to the world images of a triumph: the successful launch of a Soyuz spacecraft that carried a pair of cosmonauts to the Soviets' newest space station. Normally, the Soviets announce space shots only after they have been safely launched. Though last week's "live" telecast appeared to be risky--what if something had gone wrong?--the Soviets actually hedged their bet. They appeared to have built a 60-second tape delay into the broadcast of the launch.

NASA officials acknowledged last week that the impact of the crash on the U.S. space effort has been to ground the shuttle program for at least a year, and perhaps as long as 18 months. A study by the Congressional Budget Office estimates that redesigning the flawed rocket booster and replacing the shuttle's cargo, a tracking satellite, will cost some $440 million. If a new orbiter is built to replace Challenger, it would cost at least $2.3 billion and take three or four years to complete. When NASA does resume shuttle operations, its overambitious aim of launching 24 flights a year by 1988 will be scaled down to no more than nine the first year, 14 the next, 18 the following year. Even that schedule may be unrealistic: NASA has never managed to launch more than nine shuttle flights in a twelve month period. The backlog of unlaunched satellites and space experiments is already mounting. The shuttle launches of the Jupiter probe Galileo and the solar probe Ulysses, originally scheduled for this May, have been put off for more than a year, and then only one of the two craft may fly. NASA has had to tell paying customers of the shuttle to look elsewhere. The Pentagon, a prime NASA customer, will have to put off plans to conduct certain top secret experiments in space for President's Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Always suspicious of the shuttle's reliability, the Air Force last year won congressional approval for a $2 billion program to build ten unmanned rockets for satellite launch by 1988. A federal interagency task force set up to make U.S. space policy decided last week that the military may need to buy ten more of these missiles.

NASA began de-emphasizing unmanned rockets about ten years ago in order to push the shuttle program. "NASA put all its eggs in one basket, and the basket fell on the concrete," says Wilbur Pritchard, president of Satellite Systems Engineering, Washington consultants to satellite makers. Space agency officials now ruefully admit the error. Last week NASA Acting Administrator William Graham urged private industry to try to develop unmanned rockets to launch satellites. Some private aerospace executives, however, bitterly noted that before the Challenger disaster, NASA had actively tried to discourage private industry from competing with the shuttle for satellite business. They also pointed out that it will still be difficult for private companies to under-price the Space Shuttle and Europe's Ariane system, both of which are government subsidized.

The shuttle had originally been designed to construct and then service an $8 billion space station to be in use by 1992. Even before the Challenger disaster, that date had slipped to 1994. The purpose of the program is to provide a platform for conducting scientific experiments, some with commercial applications like zero-gravity manufacturing, and to provide a base for further exploration.

The new Soviet space station, named Mir (Peace), was put into orbit last month to serve as the core of a planned complex of living quarters and laboratories. Many experts believe that the Soviets, who have concentrated on space-station technology while NASA focused on reusable shuttle craft, are years ahead of the U.S. in establishing a permanent space presence. The Soviet space program picked up more plaudits last week as its probe Vega 2 passed within 5,125 miles of Halley's comet. Meanwhile, NASA's $1 billion space telescope designed to peer to the edge of the universe, originally scheduled to be launched by the shuttle this fall, sits uselessly on the ground. (TIME, March 24, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #4 on: 05/05/2012 06:07 PM »
March 16:  A majority of Space Coast residents believe the Space Shuttle will be flying again within the next 12 to 18 months, according to a survey conducted by Florida Today. Almost 73 percent of the people polled agree with NASA's assessment that the next shuttle will fly before the fall of 1987. (Florida Toda, Mar. 17, 1986)

March 17: Atlantis was moved from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building, NASA officials said. The newest shuttle was expected to remain in the VAB pending a decision on whether to unstack Solid Rocket Boosters that already have been attached to the vehicle, NASA spokesman George Diller said. The unstacking was proposed so officials could check the O-rings that seal the segment joints. (Florida Today, Mar. 18, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #5 on: 05/05/2012 06:18 PM »
March 24: Joseph L. Tyre, a construction worker at Kennedy Space Center, was killed after he fell 90 feet while installing a bridge crane in a new facility, officials said. The employee of Cherokee Steel Erectors (Orlando, FL), Tyre apparently was pulling a cable while installing the crane in the cargo Hazardous Servicing Facility when he fell at 2:45 p.m. He was taken to KSC's infirmary where he died a short time later. The accident is under investigation.(The Orlando Sentinel and Florida Today, Mar. 25, 1986)

A body discovered March 22 in remote woods near the Kennedy Space Center has been identified as Frank "Buster" Sims, 49. The Mims resident and EG&G electronics engineer had been missing for two weeks, a sheriff's spokeswoman said. "Investigators are working it as a suspicious death," she said. (Florida Today, Mar. 25, 1986)

With the U.S. space program grounded indefinitely by the Challenger tragedy, the Soviet Union demonstrated once again last week that it is strongly forging ahead in space exploration. From the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Central Asia, the Soviets launched the first in a projected series of supply missions to their new manned space station called Mir (Peace). The unmanned cargo vessel Progress 25, boosted into orbit by a workhorse Proton rocket booster, hooked up on Friday with Mir, bringing food, fuel, water and other supplies to Cosmonauts Leonid Kizim and Vladimir Solovyev, whose own Soyuz T-15 spacecraft docked with the orbiting space station on March 15.

To frustrated proponents of an expanded U.S. space effort, the latest Soviet achievements provoked an old rallying cry. "We've been sputniked again," exclaimed Sandra Adamson, a director of the L5 Society, an organization formed to promote an all-out American effort to colonize and commercialize outer space. Adamson's reference was to the 1957 Soviet satellite launch, which galvanized the U.S. into the effort that culminated in the 1969 manned moon landing. Such concern is overdrawn. Despite the Challenger calamity, American experts say, in many respects the U.S. space program is still ahead of its Soviet counterpart. Nonetheless, Moscow has racked up a number of major achievements in space over the past 2 1/2 years. Among them: a record 237-day manned flight by three cosmonauts aboard the Salyut 7 space station, a daring repair mission to restart that station after a near total power failure, and a highly sophisticated radar mapping of Venus by two robot Venera probes. Earlier this month the Soviets dazzled the international scientific community with their Vega 1 and Vega 2 inspections of Halley's comet. Each Vega flyby was preceded by a swing past Venus to drop an instrument-laden balloon into the planet's dense atmosphere.

Then came Mir. On March 13, the Soviets sent veteran Cosmonauts Kizim, 44, and Solovyev, 39, aloft on Soyuz T-15 to activate the space platform, which had been launched into a slightly elliptical 210-mile-high orbit three weeks earlier. (Both Kizim and Solovyev took part in the record-breaking Salyut 7 flight between Feb. 8 and Oct. 2, 1984.) The subsequent rendezvous marked a milestone: the establishment of what the Soviets have heralded as the first permanently manned space station. According to current estimates, the first comparable U.S. station will not be operational before 1994.

As usual, the secretive Soviets have released little information on the exact specifications of the Mir station or on their long-range plans for its operation. Some scraps of information, however, are available. Mir, which measures 56 ft. by 13 ft., is 16 ft. longer than the Salyut 7 but only slightly wider. Since the new space station is not intended to house bulky experimental gear, it has much more living space inside. Crew members have separate "cabins," or cubicles, each equipped with a folding chair, a desk, a mirror and a sleeping bag. The common area of the space station's living unit features a dining table, a buffet built into a nearby bulkhead, and exercise equipment for the crew. The station is fitted with a large number of portholes, providing views from all four sides of Mir. One oversize porthole has been installed in the floor for viewing the earth's surface. Above the living area is the ship's control and work area, containing the main console from which the cosmonauts will monitor computer-controlled dockings, relying on floodlights and remote-TV cameras mounted outside the ship. Above the work area is a cylindrical docking unit with four "module ports" around its circumference and a fifth at the end (see diagram). Both manned and unmanned spacecraft will dock in the end port and then will be shifted to the module ports by an external arm. A sixth docking port is located at the opposite end of the space station and is intended to receive cargo. Mir has much larger solar-panel "wings" than those on Salyut 7: 800 sq. ft. vs. 440 sq. ft. The distinctive appearance of the station has already moved Soviet Flight Commander Kizim to a flight of poetic fancy. "As we came close," he said in a TV broadcast, "it looked like a white-winged seagull, soaring above the world."

According to James Oberg, an engineer for a NASA contractor and an expert on the Soviet space program, the next step in the assembly of the new station may be to switch a laboratory module known as Cosmos 1686 from the aging Salyut 7 over to Mir. Currently, the two major Soviet spacecraft are in virtually identical orbits, with Mir several thousand miles ahead of Salyut 7 and a few miles closer to earth. In coming weeks, says Oberg, Mir will get farther and farther ahead and eventually come up behind its rival around mid-April for the linkup. Before then, Oberg believes, there is a good chance that another team of two or three Soviet cosmonauts will visit Salyut 7 and transfer reusable material into the laboratory module. The next spacemen "could go up any day now," he says. Oberg also expects that a second unmanned laboratory may be launched in the next week or two to attach to Mir. Thus, he sums up, "we're talking about a Mir, a new module on it, and the Soyuz T-15 at the back end. Then the old Salyut 7, the module hooked up to that, and another Soyuz with a crew. That's a real constellation."

Even more grandiose Soviet plans appear to be just over the horizon. There are indications that Moscow might soon launch its own version of the space shuttle program, ferrying crews and supplies to Mir and eventually bringing back industrial and biological products manufactured in space. Planning is also reportedly well under way for a Sovietled international project to send two unmanned probes skimming past the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos in 1988. Roald Sagdeyev, director of the Soviet Institute of Space Research, has even entertained the possibility of a joint U.S.-Soviet manned landing on Mars.

Meanwhile, the Soviet leadership in Moscow is clearly enjoying the acclaim generated by the country's space triumphs. Last week the scientists in charge of the just completed Vega missions were summoned to the Kremlin for congratulations by Mikhail Gorbachev. The Communist Party General Secretary merely echoed the words of many Western scientists when he called the space efforts a "brilliant achievement of Soviet science and engineering" and a "convincing example of fruitful international cooperation in the peaceful exploration of outer space." (TIME, March 31, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #6 on: 05/05/2012 06:26 PM »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #7 on: 05/05/2012 06:35 PM »
April 18: Another blow to the American space effort came on April 18 when a Titan 34-D launch vehicle exploded six seconds after it was launched with a military reconnaissance satellite (KH 9-20) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. With the shuttle grounded indefinitely, loss of the Titan, the next powerful launcher in the American inventory, temporarily stalled the Department of Defense satellite program pending analysis of the Titan failure.

Like the shuttle, Titan was powered by liquid and solid fuel boosters. The vehicle was manufactured by Martin Marietta; the liquid propellant engines by Aerojet; and the solid motors by United Technologies. A Titan 34-D had failed before, in August 1985, also carrying a reconnaissance satellite (KH 11-07) on a launch from Vandenberg. That failure had been diagnosed as premature shutdown of the liquid fuel engines in the first stage. The 1986 explosion was attributed to a solid rocket booster failure. Thus, both propulsion systems on the Titan had failed catastrophically in less than a year.

Like the shuttle boosters, the Titan solid rocket motors were stacked in segments, but sealed with only a single O-ring instead of two used in the shuttle SRB. In testimony before the Rogers commission, Marshall engineers had cited the consistently good performance of the Titan boosters with only one O-ring as a convincing indication that the shuttle boosters were safe with two, even if the secondary seal was characterized officially as non-redundant. Now that argument had gone up in smoke. (Richard S. Lewis: “Challenger – The Final Voyage”, 1988)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #8 on: 05/05/2012 06:38 PM »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #9 on: 05/05/2012 06:44 PM »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #10 on: 05/05/2012 07:07 PM »
April 22: U. S. Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Melb., FL) delivered the keynote address to open the 23rd Annual Space Congress in Cocoa Beach, FL. "In the aftermath of the national tragedy we have all experienced, it is more important that you are convening now," he said. "This is sending out a message across the land about the future of aerospace development. The enthusiasm is beginning to build again as we are in the process of binding and healing. It is very much the character of America that when its back is against the wall, we move on."

Nelson added that the recent explosion of a Titan rocket at Vandenberg AFB "is going to add to the urgency" of getting the space program back on track. "We'll find the problem, fix it and get on with the program." The congressman also renewed his proposal for a U. S.-Soviet "summit" in space. "Wouldn't it be something to have a summit meeting in space, where the two superpowers would have the perspective I had in political decisions affecting the destiny of this planet?" (Florida Today, Apr. 23, 1986)

Alex Bosmeny, formerly a photographer for Technicolor Government Services Inc. (now called TGS), sued Rockwell International Corp., claiming he was injured after workers negligently spilled rocket fuel while performing maintenance on the Challenger in 1983. At that time Bosmeny was waiting to take pictures of the orbiter in the Vehicle Assembly Building. According to the suit filed in Brevard Circuit Court, on April 17, 1983, the highly toxic fuel – monomethylhydrazine - leaked from several plugs in an orbiter engine while workers performed maintenance on the Challenger which had just returned from California after a space mission. Rockwell, which has a contract with NASA to process the shuttles after flights, failed to turn on the alarm or exhaust system, evacuate employees or warn them immediately after the spill, court records show. (The Orlando Sentinel, Apr. 23, 1986)

April 24: Lt. Gen. Forrest McCartney, Commander of the Space Division of the Air Force Space Command, told the 23rd Annual Space Congress that he was "disappointed" in the recent failures in the shuttle and Titan rocket programs, but he hasn't lost faith in either program. "I have no reason to believe that there is any better hardware in the world than our expendables and our shuttles," he said. "We really don't know what happened in last week's Titan rocket explosion at Vandenberg AFB, and we're working very hard to find the cause and fix it," he said. (Florida Today, Apr. 25, 1986)

A GOES weather satellite was mounted atop a Delta rocket early this morning at Kennedy Space Center as NASA prepares for its first launch since the Challenger disaster Jan. 28. Spokesman George Diller said the operation went smoothly and tests would continue today. Launch is set for May 1. A problem with part of the mechanism that couples the satellite to the rocket's third stage delayed the mating for one day, Diller said. (Florida Today, Apr. 25, 1986)

April 26: A botched systems test at reactor four of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Prypiat in the Ukrainian SSR resulted in the second major technological disaster of the year 1986. A large hydrogen explosion and a fire released large amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The immediate area around the Chernobyl power plant obviously received the largest amount of nuclear fallout – leading to 32 official deaths among staff and emergency personnel and thousands of victims suffering from radiation-related illnesses. At first the Soviet government tried to cover up the disaster, but with radiation levels across the western USSR and all over Europe rising in the days and weeks following the accident, this proved to be impossible. Even more than the nuclear fallout, the political changes and financial burdens resulting from the Chernobyl disaster are believed to have played a major role in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

May 1: NASA decided to scrub the 6:18 p.m. launch of a Delta rocket carrying a GOES weather satellite after engineers found rocket fuel in the first-stage had leaked from the main engine valve. "We're never disappointed to find these things before we fly," NASA spokesman Hugh Harris said. "This is what tests are for to find any problems." About a quarter cup of highly refined kerosene dripped onto a portion of the first-stage engine and possibly onto fuel lines that must remain dry until launch, NASA spokesman George Diller said. "There was no chance of an explosion... there was concern that the rocket could lose thrust."

Launch managers, concerned about overworking ground crews, decided to wait until May 2 to begin purging and cleaning fuel lines. "Rather than take a chance of not getting full performance from the first-stage, we decided to let those lines dry," Diller said. If the valve continues to leak, the replacement could take up to ten days. (Florida Today, May 2, 1986)

May 2: The launch of an unmanned Delta rocket carrying a GOES weather satellite was rescheduled for May 3 at 6:18 p.m.; the launch window extended till 7:17 p.m. "We believe we had a seal in the main-engine fuel valve that was not fully seated," said George Diller, NASA spokesman. Engineers believe the seal seated itself when the fuel was pressurized May 1 before being loaded. Two more leak checks were scheduled to be performed before the May 3 launch. (Florida Today, May 3, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #11 on: 05/05/2012 07:12 PM »
May 3: A Delta rocket and its GOES weather satellite payload were intentionally destroyed less than two minutes after launch when the rocket's main engine abruptly shut down, causing the spacecraft to veer wildly out of control. The main engine shut down 71 seconds into flight after slx of the nine solid rocket boosters had been jettisoned. The remaining three boosters had just ignited when the rocket's liquid-fuel
main engine failed 10.3 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

The nose of the rocket quickly broke up as the Delta turned sideways and tumbled at 1,407 mph. A range safety officer from the Eastern Space and Missile Center at Patrick Air Force Base sent a signal 20 seconds later to destroy the Delta. The rocket's pieces fell 15 miles into the ocean, 30 miles from Cape Canaveral, FL. Navy officials said they had no idea what caused the usually reliable Delta to fail - only the 12th failure in 178 launches dating back to May 13, 1960. The first successful Delta launch was Aug. 12, 1960, and it orbited NASA's first communications satellite, ECHO-1. (The Orlando Sentinel, May 4, 1986, and The Office of Public Affairs, NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland)

The United States space program suffered its third blow on March 3 when a NASA Delta 3920 rocket carrying an 1,851-pound weather satellite failed 70 seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral and was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer. It was the 178th launch of the Delta, NASA’s principal expendable launcher for the last quarter of a century. The Delta payload was GEOS 7 (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite). It was targeted for an equatorial orbit in 22,300 miles’ attitude. There it would hover relatively stationary at 75° west longitude, where it could photograph weather systems and track hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Not only was the loss of GEOS 7 a serious handicap for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its parental Department of Commerce, but the destruction was the first major Delta failure in years and confirmed that quality control had gone awry in American rocketry. Now the Delta was grounded like the shuttle and the Titan until causes of these failures could be determined and fixed. Only one major satellite carrier system remained operational in the United States: The Atlas Centaur.

(…) The Delta rocket debris had barely reached the ocean when the shuttle salvage vessels, engaged in cleanup work, steamed after it. The USS Opportune began a search for electronic boxes, wiring and other electrical parts from the rocket’s midsection. Although its small solid propellant rockets (Morton Thiokol) had functioned nominally, the first-stage liquid fuel engine (Rocketdyne) had shut down prematurely, as if switched off. Telemetry clues suggested an electrical failure. With loss of thrust and attitude control, the 115-foot rocket began to tumble, and range safety signaled the destruct package to explode. (Richard S. Lewis: “Challenger – The Final Voyage”, 1988)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #12 on: 05/05/2012 07:23 PM »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #13 on: 05/05/2012 07:27 PM »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #14 on: 05/05/2012 07:30 PM »
May 4: An eight-member panel was appointed to investigate the unexplained shutdown which led to the destruction of May 3rd's Delta launch. Lawrence Ross, Director of Spaceflight Systems at NASA's Lewis Research Center, will lead the investigation. He arrived today at Kennedy Space Center to meet with those involved in the launch. Six other NASA officials and an Air Force representative also were appointed to the team by Rear Admiral Richard Truly, NASA's Shuttle Director and Associate Administrator for Spaceflight. The panel was given a July 2 deadline to report on the accident and recommend "corrective action." (Florida Today, May 5, 1986)

May 5: NASA officials said that an electrical short circuit may have caused the engine shutdown that led to the destruction May 3 of a Delta and its weather satellite cargo. Delta manager Bill Russell said technicians found evidence of a short circuit eight-tenths of a second before the first-stage engine shut off, causing the rocket to gyrate wildly out of control and necessitated its destruction 91 seconds into the flight. Investigation panel chairman Lawrence Ross said the Delta accident made it unlikely that the Atlas-Centaur launch scheduled for May 22 will occur as planned. "There's a fair probability it will be delayed, unless we can find the cause of May 3's malfunction very quickly," Ross said.

Four pieces of debris from the Delta rocket which was destroyed May 3 washed ashore in Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach today, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman said. A control box from the GOES weather satellite was discovered about 10:30 a.m. floating near a Cocoa Beach hotel, and three rocket hemisphere tanks for fuel and nitrogen were discovered later in the morning near Patrick Air Force Base, Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Nicholson said. Michael Borsof, manager of the Beach Island Resort, reported finding the control box during his daily rounds at the hotel and recognized its importance from an inscription reading "GOES Triflex Filter." (Florida Today, May 6, 1986)

Kennedy Space Center celebrated the 25th anniversary of America's first manned launch. Tape recordings from the flight of Alan Shepard in Freedom 7 were played at the launch site; Shepard sent his thanks in a telegram from Los Angeles where he and four of his Mercury colleagues were attending a celebration. Standing in for Shepard at KSC was astronaut Bob Crippen who said: "A wise man once said the longest journey begins with the first step. Many of you gentlemen took that first step. The journey was a trip to the stars. We have a way to go. Thanks to you, we're on our way."

Referring to NASA's recent launch failures, he said, "It's rare to win without some losses. We like to feel we're infallible. We're not. We proved that on Jan. 28 and underscored it this past Saturday (May 3). We'll learn from our errors. When we fly again – and we will it will be in a stronger, safer vehicle."

KSC Director Dick Smith spoke of the same determination to succeed. "A lot of you remember we had a lot of problems in the early days. Still, you were shocked, we were shocked by the recent failures. Perhaps we'd become a little complacent. We all know we're on the front edge of technology. A lot of things can happen; a lot of things can go wrong." (Florida Today, May 6, 1986)

The Challenger disaster understandably haunted space officials at the Cape last week as they prepared for their first launch since the accident. They checked and rechecked a 116-foot Delta rocket that was to carry a $57.5 million weather satellite into an equatorial orbit to detect developing hurricanes. When a tiny fuel leak was detected on Thursday, the launch was prudently postponed until Saturday as technicians pored over the problem.

The launch team had another concern: the last two attempts to send Titan rockets into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California had failed, one last August, the other on April 18. Both Titans reportedly had been trying to put secret military photographic satellites in position to keep watch on the Soviet Union and the Middle East. With the shuttle program on hold and the once trusty Titan turning unreliable, America's ability to get satellites into orbit had been seriously impaired. But NASA looked with confidence to the workhorse Delta. It had flown successfully 43 consecutive times, including its last mission, on Nov. 13, 1984. "We need this satellite," said NASA Acting Administrator William Graham, "and we need to remind ourselves that we have had success in the space program."

The sleek three-stage Delta roared off its pad at 6:18 p.m. Saturday after a trouble-free countdown. Its main liquid-fuel engine and solid-fuel boosters all fired as planned. Delta soared into the clear Florida sky. Then, 71 seconds into its flight, monitoring technicians experienced a chilling case of déjà vu. Their instruments showed that the main engine had shut down before it was programmed to do so, causing Delta to lose its flight stability. Veering out of control, the rocket began to break up. At 91 seconds, range safety officials destroyed it by remote control. Once again a fireball flashed over Cape Canaveral. Again there would be an intensive investigation to find out what had gone wrong. Inexplicably, America's space program seemed to have shifted into reverse. Even as the Challenger astronauts were buried, more gloom overtook a once proud space agency. (TIME, May 12, 1986)
« Last Edit: 05/05/2012 07:33 PM by Ares67 »

Offline Ares67

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #15 on: 05/05/2012 07:36 PM »
May 6: Kennedy Space Center Director Dick Smith expressed pleasure on hearing the news that the U. S. Senate had confirmed former NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher by a vote of 89-9 for a second term as head of the space agency. "I'm very pleased,” Smith said. "I've been a supporter of Dr. Fletcher's since before the nomination. I'm happy to see him back and look forward to working with him again." (Florida Today, May 7, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #16 on: 05/05/2012 07:42 PM »
May 7: The apparently faulty engine that shut down on the Delta rocket launched May 3 was found 30 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, according to an official of the research foundation assisting in the recovery effort. NASA spokesman Dick Young said he was unable to confirm the report. In a related development, NASA delayed for a month the planned May 22 launch of an Atlas-Centaur rocket. Its first-stage engine closely resembles the suspect Delta engine. Officials wanted more time to examine the rocket. (Florida Today, May 8, 1986)

May 12: It had been conceived as a joyous occasion, a chance to let U.S. pride soar. The six surviving original Mercury astronauts would be reunited at a gala Los Angeles dinner, and workers at the Kennedy Space Center would gather for a ceremony. At both events, speakers would celebrate the 25th anniversary of American manned space flight and chronicle the quarter-century of achievements since Alan Shepard's historic suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. After Challenger's seven crew members perished on Jan. 28, plans for a more somber observance continued; a reminder of past successes might restore NASA's morale.

Then, on April 18, a Titan 34D rocket blew up on launch at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base while trying to lift a Big Bird photo reconnaissance satellite into orbit. And just two days before the anniversary ceremonies were held last week, yet another U.S. space failure occurred: the main engine of a $30 million Delta rocket carrying a $57.5 million weather satellite shut down just 71 seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral. The Delta was destroyed by ground command. "We like to feel we're infallible," Shuttle Astronaut Bob Crippen told the subdued workers at the cape. "We're not. We proved that on Jan. 28 and underscored it this past Saturday."

The U.S. had suffered three consecutive launch disasters, not counting the failure of a small Nike-Orion rocket on April 25, disclosed by the Associated Press last week. That adds up to the worst string of failures since the early days of the space program. Democratic Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee saw more than bad luck at work. Said he: "There may be a quality-control problem at NASA." Gore revealed that the space agency had slashed 70% of the personnel assigned to monitor the quality of its work between 1970 and 1985.

Still, the Titan failure, as well as a Titan explosion last August, were Air Force launches. Whether the space accidents were merely coincidental or shared some human failing was not clear. A poorly designed joint in the shuttle's boosters, coupled with the refusal of officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where the rockets were developed, to heed engineers' warnings about the cold weather at launch time, presumably will be cited by a presidential commission as contributing to that catastrophe. The commission disclosed last week that just five days before the disaster, the Marshall managers had virtually dismissed the recurring flaws in the joint, deciding in an unsigned internal memo that "this problem is considered closed." Three of the Marshall officials who pushed the fatal launch are leaving their posts. Stanley Reinartz, the shuttle manager, last month asked for reassignment; George Hardy, deputy director of science and engineering, took early retirement at 55; Lawrence Mulloy, the booster manager, last week was shifted to another position at the center.

The suspect in the April 18 Titan failure is also a booster rocket. But a burn-through caused by faulty insulation seems the likeliest explanation. As for the Delta failure, two unexplained surges of high current in the main engine's electrical circuits apparently lowered battery voltage, leading to the premature shutdown. This possibility had been detected in 1974. Some corrections were made then, but not to the circuit that failed.

The failures leave the U.S. temporarily without any means of getting medium to heavy payloads into orbit. "It wasn't very long ago when people were talking about there being too many satellites," says Ivy Hooks, a former NASA engineer. "When you suddenly can't launch them, you realize how critical the weather, spy and communications satellites are." None of the three remaining shuttles, which can lift as much as 65,000 lbs., are expectedto fly until the summer of 1987. The Titan 34D, which can put 27,500 lbs. into orbit, will be grounded for at least six months. The Delta, which had run up 43 successes since the last failure in 1977, has a 7,500-lb. lift capability that will be lost until August. The nation's other medium-lift rocket, the Atlas-Centaur (13,500 lbs.), was scheduled to loft a Navy satellite on May 22, but that launch has been postponed until the Delta problem is understood; the Atlas has an engine electrical system similar to Delta's. Said a top Pentagon official: "We are denied access to space, and it does impact our capabilities."

Despite that impact, insists Air Force Major General Donald Kutyna, a member of the presidential commission, "we are not, as some have suggested, in a crisis situation." Hereferred to the "relatively healthy" key satellites the U.S. has in orbit. A single KH-11 spy satellite, which is even more effective than the Big Bird, is still operational, keeping special watch on the Soviet Union and the Middle East. It has enough maneuvering fuel to last at least another year. Similarly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an orbiting weather satellite identical to the one lost in the Delta accident and expects it to continue performing for at least two years. Nonetheless, concedes NOAA Spokesman Joseph LaCovey, "the single satellite doesn't give us as good a view as we would like."

Overreliance on the shuttle for launching satellites has left the U.S. short on unmanned expendable rockets. There are just six Titan 34Ds, 13 Atlases, three Atlas-Centaurs and three Deltas left in the national inventory. The Air Force, however, has ordered ten more advanced Titans and will modify 13 old Titan II rockets to take some pressure off the future shuttle demands. The expected cost: $2.4 billion. It also intends to design its critical payloads for either shuttle or expendable rocket launches. Says Kutyna: "We want never again to be as vulnerable as we are today." (TIME, May 19, 1986)

[bMay 13][/b]: Air Force Col. Edward O'Connor said lessons learned in the lengthy recovery of Challenger debris sped up efforts to salvage the suspect main engine components of the failed Delta rocket which exploded May 3. Those same lessons provided the knowledge needed to develop a computer program which will enable authorities better to track down spacecrafts, aircrafts or satellites falling from orbit back to Earth. Creighton Terhune, director of payload management and operations at Kennedy Space Center, will head a panel on launch and flight data collection for the board investigating the May 3 explosion of a Delta rocket. (Florida Today, May 14, 1986)

May 19: NASA and its contractors initiated systems improvement programs at Kennedy Space Center to update, streamline and standardize shuttle processing operations and to eliminate hardware and procedural deficiencies. Some of the deficiencies were long standing and some were uncovered in the course of reviews and investigations resulting from the Challenger accident. Government and industry leaders said the current work corrects shortcomings and makes the processing system more time and cost efficient. They said, further, that previous procedures had not contributed to the 51-L disaster, but that they had needed improvement.

Many of the work items under way had been relegated to a low priority because shuttle turnaround and launch schedules were so tight that there was no opportunity to fix them. The most significant areas involved: documentation and record keeping, maintaining and upgrading ground support equipment and facilities, modifying and testing orbiters, and training and recertifying the entire management, engineering and
technician workforce. (Aviation Week & Space Technology, May 19, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #17 on: 05/05/2012 07:44 PM »
May 20: Atlantis and Discovery swapped places at Kennedy Space Center; Atlantis moved from the Orbiter Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building and Discovery took the reverse route, said NASA's George Diller. At the VAB, technicians currently are stacking two solid rocket boosters that eventually will be joined by an external tank and then Atlantis. Officials hope to move the shuttle "stack" to a launch pad during the last week of June, Diller said. At the pad, a Centaur rocket would be placed inside the payload bay, along with the spacecraft or a mock-up. (Florida Today, May 21, 1986)
« Last Edit: 05/05/2012 07:45 PM by Ares67 »

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #18 on: 05/05/2012 07:48 PM »
May 23: The Pentagon named Col. Jon Mansur as the new commander of the Eastern Space and Missile Center beginning June 25. The missile center, which includes Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, provides support for shuttle and unmanned rocket launches. (The Orlando Sentinel, May 24, 1986)

A 35-foot-long tank from the Delta rocket which failed shortly after launch on May 3, was discovered less than a mile away from where the main engine was found, NASA officials said. Divers from the Navy salvage ship USS Opportune found the tank 32 miles east of Kennedy Space Center in 150 feet of water, NASA spokesman George Diller said. Spokeswoman Lisa Malone said that divers are "looking for some electronics boxes that control certain events during the launch and during the flight, wiring and any hardware having to do with the engine." (Florida Today, May 26, 1986)

May 24: NASA's launch rules are "going to be revised from top to bottom," said Bob Sieck, NASA director of shuttle operations at Kennedy Space Center. He predicted the new policies will lead to a more conservative approach than the one that allowed Challenger to lift off Jan. 28 in the coldest weather for any shuttle launch. Three changes being considered from among 3,000 launch commit procedures are: making
weather constraints tougher, announcing over an in-house radio network the launch decisions made by contractors during the countdown and these decisions would be tape recorded, and involving more people in the formal launch decision. One of the key changes under consideration, Sieck said, would stop managers from basing part of their launch decision on the temperature at liftoff time. That single factor would be replaced by looking "at the previous trend for the past 24, 36, even 72 hours," Sieck said. (The Orlando Sentinel, May 25, 1986)

May 29: Atlantis and two Solid Rocket Boosters were moved to different areas of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for the first shuttle "stacking" since the Challenger tragedy. (Florida Today, May 30, 1986)

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Re: RTF 1986 – Find Your Way Back
« Reply #19 on: 05/05/2012 07:50 PM »
May 30: Another launch failure – this time for Europe’s Arianespace: During the maiden launch of an Ariane 2 from Kourou, flight V18, the failure of the third stage engine resulted in the loss of its payload – the Intelsat V-A F-14 communications satellite. It was the second accident of an Ariane rocket within less than a year – again due to the failure of the third stage. On September 12, 1985, an Ariane 3 (V15) went down with two satellites aboard. “Now China and the Soviet Union announced they would enter the commercial satellite launching market,” Richard S. Lewis describes in ‘Challenger – The Final Voyage’. “And the Japanese space agency indicated it would soon be in a position to compete.”

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