Regarding the issues with the Space Shuttle and the in flight explosion of the Columbia. I believe that of course that hindsight is always easy to use to place blame, however we must continue the program and the Space Shuttle as it sits may not be the best technology as newer technology is now available for re-useable craft such as;
There are newer ideas for heat tiles being considered and new technology of materials being introduced some of which obviously cannot be talked about here.
Let me discuss a few ideas, which can be used to prevent a similar occurrence. Now anyone who owns a boat knows that before you sail your boat, you give it a once over, truck drivers take a bat to the tires, pilots pre-flight the planes. Why would you not send a remote controlled, self-propelled robotic tethered devise around a shuttle before heading for home for a visual inspection? The unit could be pointed toward the shuttle and continuously view the craft; spin it slowly. After all you are going to fly a spacecraft at mach 25, through the atmosphere at 2200-3000 degrees and pray that all is well?
Eventually we can send in the scram jet engines and fly it back under power at your discretion. Or ask the UFO people to tow you back? HA HA. You know things are different inside of a vacuum. All those who study space and vacuums know this. Just because you have an old piece of hardware that runs, does not necessarily mean that it can make the transition from the atmosphere into the vacuum of space and back again safely. Not to mention the inhabitants during solar flares in space.
Let's see the new X-Planes and what they can do. Meanwhile let us put in a few simple techniques to use the current craft and allow those astronauts who feel they wish to take the risk to volunteer to use the older craft until it is replaced. We need these experiments and resources to be used; nothing should be wasted. I know these things happen, hell that is the cost of going for it, but it still sucks. The crew knew it and actually jet boat drag racing is still the most dangerous sport known to man, or underwater welding for a profession. I have a friend who was a TRW materials specialist and it just seems that it is old technology and we are better than that now. I have heard speculation by conspiracy theorists, crazy stuff like; talk that the UFO caused it and shot down a U-2 over Korea also. Then if you look at the Chinese, they have some devises also. Another rumor that the White Sands Chemical Laser Beam was tracking it and was able to cause the break up. Even if this talk is fiction still one might consider the need for some sort of reflective emissions during critical phases of space exploration to prevent such potential problems in the future.
Fiction or not shouldn't we have a plan? A tethered video camera would solve this problem of possible damage during missions, okay then lets keep going and complete the mission, we have so many experiments that are worthy of our tax dollars and the future of mankind, we must stay on the cutting edge of technology, we must not allow over allowances for safety to prevent the need to risk it all for the betterment of the future. It is some of the most dangerous work known to man, yet it must be done. So with this solution, we can prevent a re-occurrence of that problem which downed one of our greatest accomplishments and killed some of our greatest Americans.
We must not allow them to die in vain, we must continue to push for the future and push the envelope and go where no man has gone before. Never, ever, ever, ever give up. Push forward; it is the only way to that anything has ever been accomplished by our species. We are on a roll, we must continue. Think on it.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs