Today is a very sad day and my heart goes out to the astronauts families. It is at times like this, just as the Challenger explosion of 1986, that we cannot let the deaths of the astronauts go in vain. We must continue our exploration of space. Despite these tragic circumstances, space migration is critically important to our future. Below is the current best working theory I’ve read on what may have caused this tragedy:
A sad day indeed….I and one of my co-owners, Jeff Bertsch, work at the Space Center and are both former flight controllers (Ascent/Entry Guidance & Procedures Officers). I worked with Wille McCool on the Shuttle Cockpit Upgrade, which is supposed to fly in 2006. The deorbit burn is targeted with excess energy, so the Shuttle flies about a 45 deg bank during Entry and does a couple of roll reversals (S-Turns) to manage the energy. The video shows a large object separating, then a flash and puff in the contrail and then the breakup. I believe the large object was the left wing and it was probably during a roll reversal. The left wing was struck by External Tank debris during Ascent. The wing leading edge temperature is ~3000 deg during Entry. Dennis Bentley
For those who think that space travel is not worth the risk, here is a copy of my post to slashdot this morning:
Manned Space Travel is worth every risk! Sure the science they are doing might seem trivial, but just having people in space is absolutely necessary for our survival. As Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said:
“We cannot remain in the cradle forever.”
We must continue to explore space, to push the envelop. Sure space travel is still dangerous, but every astronaut took those risks gladly and with with dignity and honor. Don’t let them die in vain. If they were alive today they would urge us to continue this noblest of pursuits.
Manned space travel is the greatest adventure we can possibly make and it is worth every risk. In the scheme of things, the current survival statistics of space travel is an order of magnitude safer than it was a short 30 years ago.
With nanotech materials on their way, space travel is only going to get cheaper, safer and more profound in everyday.
My hear goes out to the families, and with them I say we keep moving forward.