Author Topic: Challenger STS-51L  (Read 2268 times)

Offline UK Shuttle Clan

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Challenger STS-51L
« on: 11/29/2005 02:08 PM »
I've been re-reading Steve's comments on Challenger and I thought it deserved its own thread.

This is what struck me, in part of a post why the Shuttles never launched from Vandenberg.

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Steve_the_Deev - 28/11/2005  8:28 AM

Second big reason we never launched a Shuttle from Vandenberg was the Filament wound SRBs were not up to spec at the fieldjoints for strength.  

Long story short SLC-6 finally recieved the death blow when Challenger blew up. Due to an O-ring seal burn through which as you know resealed temporaraly then as they passed through Max Q and the go for Throttle up was given the vehicles lower SRB strut had been cut through by the exhaust gases leaking through the compromised Field Joint O-ring.  

Once the bottom strut failed it kicked outward forcing the top of the SRB to rupture the LOX tank and then the LH2 Tank. Mix LOX and LH2 you don't get an explosion you get a giant fireball.  

I was privy to the cockpit tapes and it was very hard to listen to the crew as the vehicle came apart.  That's a story for another time.

First I didn't know the SRB actually came loose and smashed into the ET  :o  I always thought it was the flame that was coming out of the joint that burnt through the ET.

Also the cockpit tapes. I hate to ask but I thought nothing was heard right after the the breakup of the Orbiter (which I think took about a second) because they lost the downlink with the last words being heard as "Uh oh!"

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Steve_the_Deev - 28/11/2005  12:13 PM

Processing the Shuttle in those early days let's say the early days are STS-1 till Challenger. After the Challenger incident we were on the warpath to find out what REALLY happened.  No One was at home much for two years.  I will say we were really getting good at processing and launching the Shuttles until the idiots at NASA high level mngmnt basically forced us to launch on that Ice cold day when the O-rings had lost their sealing ability.

I was flying from KSC to Downey California (where the shuttles design group resided at Rockwell International) and home then off to JSC to meet with the Head level 2 and level 3 NASA managers.  We worked our tails off.  


Why did they force a launch and why would they risk people's lives and their own program if they've had to force it, which obviously suggests people were saying it was dangerous to launch at such low temps (had they before?).

Did those managers get charged with manslaughter, as that seems to be what they've done (not directly, but causing the loss of life).

Sorry about this as I know its a tough subject for people involved, but learning is one way to respect.


Offline rsp1202

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RE: Challenger STS-51L
« Reply #1 on: 11/29/2005 02:43 PM »
Comments about supposed tapes and "a story for another time" are unsettling. Those couldn't be his intentions. I'm not questioning credentials or motives, but you just don't leave something like that hanging.

Online Chris Bergin

RE: Challenger STS-51L
« Reply #2 on: 11/29/2005 02:47 PM »
He simply didn't have time to give a full elaboration and it was part of a long post that happened to have various comments which happened to include Challenger.

I might make this thread invisable for now, while I ask him if he's willing to talk about it - the bring it back with just the first opening post.

Offline rsp1202

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RE: Challenger STS-51L
« Reply #3 on: 11/29/2005 02:53 PM »
Perhaps that best. It's a real can of worms.

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