“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, February 01, 2013

Ten years ago, 1 February 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up during reentry.

How the Columbia shuttle disaster changed spacecraft safety forever
By Clara Moskowitz
Published January 30, 2013

Ten years after the devastating Columbia space shuttle accident that took the lives of seven astronauts, NASA is building a new spacecraft that will take humans farther into space than ever before, and will incorporate the safety lessons learned from the disaster that befell the agency Feb. 1, 2003.

That day, the shuttle Columbia was returning from a 16-day trip to space devoted to science research. But what began as a routine re-entry through Earths atmosphere ended disastrously as the orbiter disintegrated about 200,000 feet over Texas.

Later analysis found that Columbia was doomed during its launch, when a small bit of foam insulation broke off the shuttle's external fuel tank and tore a hole in the orbiter's wing. That hole prevented Columbia from withstanding the scorching heat of re-entry.

Afterward, the independent team that investigated the accident, called the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), found a number of factors, from the safety culture at NASA to the design of the shuttle, that led to the disaster. [Photos: The Columbia Space Shuttle Tragedy]

'It's especially important to us that were here during the Columbia accident, because they were our friends, too.'
- Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead

All of the lessons the agency learned were incorporated into every subsequent flight NASA flew, and are now being used to inform the design of its next-generation spaceship, Orion. That vehicle is slated to carry people to asteroids, the moon and Mars sometime in the mid-2020s.

"We're hoping nothing ever goes wrong, but if it does, we've taken every possible step to keep the crew safe and give them every possible fighting chance they can have," said Dustin Gohmert, NASA crew survival engineering team lead, at Johnson Space Center in Houston. It's especially important to us that were here during the Columbia accident, because they were our friends, too."

Race car seats and childrens seatbelts

The Columbia investigation exposed a number of flaws in the design of the shuttle's crew cabin, including its seats, seatbelts, spacesuits and life support system. Each of these has been redesigned for Orion.

"The seats were one of the weaker links during the Columbia accident," Gohmert told We wanted to make these seats formfitting so they had a true fit to the body's shape."

NASA looked to the formfitting seats used in professional race vcars, which provide even support to every part of the body, offering extreme cushioning and shock absorption during a crash. Orion designers even fine-tuned the vibration frequency of the seats to have different resonances than the internal organs of a human body.

The engineers also redesigned the seatbelts, which were another issue during Columbia's flight. Here, they took inspiration from the belts on childrens car seats, which are adjustable to fit a wide range of body sizes.

"We wanted an exact fit for every single person who could fit in the vehicle, from females down to 4'10" and males up to 6'4"," Gohmert said. It was quite a challenge."

Suiting up

The astronaut spacesuits were also completely redesigned for Orion. The Columbia investigation board found that the crewmembers didn't have time to configure their suits to protect against depressurization, which occurred rapidly. In fact, some of the astronauts were not wearing their safety gloves, and one didn't even have a helmet on, because of how quickly the accident took place. [Columbia Shuttle Disaster Explained (Infographic)]
In the case of Orion, the suits will instantaneously, and without any action of the crew, inflate and protect from the loss of pressure," Gohmert said.

The capsule life support system was also upgraded to provide a constant flow of oxygen to the crew, even with their helmet visors up and locked, which wasn't possible in the shuttle.
Each of these changes addresses flaws exposed by the Columbia shuttle disaster. Yet Gohmert said none of these upgrades alone would have made a difference during the disaster.

"I caution against saying that any one thing we've corrected would have protected against the outcome," he said. "However, we examined all the lethal events that occurred in Columbia and addressed each of them in the Orion. Were doing a whole lot of things to make it safer, and everything we've learned from the shuttle accidents, from Russian space accidents, automobile accidents — we've taken lessons from all of them and tried to incorporate them into Orion."

Capsule vs. space plane

Perhaps the largest change from shuttle to Orion is the shift from a winged space plane design to the cone-shaped capsule, which sits atop the rocket rather than next to it. 
"When we went to the capsule, we went from a side-mounted spacecraft to a forward-mounted one," said Julie Kramer White, Orion chief engineer. "Therefore, it's not exposed to debris environments, which was obviously a huge issue for Columbia."
This configuration also allows the crew compartment of the capsule to be ejected from the top of the rocket stack in the case of an emergency on the launch pad or during liftoff. Such an escape would not have been possible for the crew cabin of the space shuttle.
Of course, the shuttle had capabilities that no capsule has — namely, the ability to haul large, heavy cargos, such as the building blocks of the International Space Station, inside its cargo bay, White pointed out.

Moreover, the culture of safety at NASA has changed for the better since the days of Columbia, Gohmert said.

"The reaction has been very positive around all of NASA in terms of giving us the capacity to make these safety improvements," he said. "Previously, it was difficult to implement some of the safety features as we'd hoped. Now it really is on the forefront of everyone's mind."


  1. Morons.
    All the things that wouldn't have made a damn bit of difference.
    (Except the capsule design that wasn't)
    They ignored lessons learned in the first shuttle accident, too, leading to this.
    Typical Government Work.

    They could have had detailed photography of the Leading edge from here on Maui.
    Could have at least tried to return to the station.
    ...but NASA did not desire pictures.
    Better to risk lives.

    INS now saying standard Obamacare policy for a family of 5 will cost 20 grand.
    That should work fine for those new high earning obamacare receipients from Mexico.

    We're fucked.

    1. Could have fixed Immigration during the Bush years, but some 'Haardliners' stopped the process.

      Now even the AZ governor supports the'New' Obama era reforms.

      You and yours surely did get US fucked, dougo

  2. Colon Blow

    Phil Hartman.
    ...trying to revive that 22 yr old hidden inside Quirk.

  3. Chuck is demonstrating his fondness for all things Israeli by insisting everyone address him as,

    "Chuckie Bagel"

  4. Mathew Quick

    For several years, Matthew Quick (a.k.a. Q) told his students that they should take risks and do amazing things, because there is potential in all of us. He became known for his impassioned speeches about literature—how it pushes us to live an examined life, and how Thoreau promised success unexpected in quiet hours for those who dare to live the life they imagine, for those who advance confidently in the direction of their dreams.

    Because he secretly wanted to be a novelist, but had settled for the more financially stable life of a teacher, Q began to feel like a gigantic hypocrite.

    He quit his tenured teaching position, sold his house, floated down the Peruvian Amazon and formed The Bardbarians (a two-man literary circle), backpacked around Southern Africa, hiked to the bottom of a snowy Grand Canyon, soul-searched, and finally began writing full-time in his in-laws’ unfinished basement.

    Three years later, he emerged from the basement with a finished manuscript called THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. He found an agent, who sold the novel in several countries—before selling the movie rights to The Weinstein Company.

    Q now lives in central Massachusetts with his wife, novelist Alicia Bessette.

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Too fast for me, like a lot of movies these days, should read the book, I guess.

    Toronto Film Festival

    "Don't write about what you hate, write about what you love.

    When you hate something you hate it for a brief period of time.

    When you love something, you love it forever."

    1. Bilbo was bagging it too and sat on his comfortable ass by his fire in his cozy hobbit habit hole smoking a pipe till the call to adventure stirred from within and he was dragged seemingly from without out screaming nearly without even his favorite handkerchief onto the cold bare earth and with helpers and hinderers abounding it was off to the misty mountains and the testing knightly jesting jousting and oh what good luck really if it wasn't luck what was it and he won the boon and became more of a hobbit than any hobbit could normally have hoped in this strange immortal life and o dear he found himself providentially a brand new hobbit and he returned. That's what happened and where have I heard this before?

    2. Farmer Bob is jealous.
      ...another frustrated English Major.

  5. The US is trillions in debt, borrowing a trillion USD annually,while we buy race car seats for rocket ships.

    Pure foolishness

  6. Whoever in their right mind would want to go to space anyway it's boring and a waste of time and money and the Super Bowl is on tomorrow.

    1. Speaking of the Super Bowl:


      In a just World, the black chick would have decked the b.... and gotton off:


  7. least she got in

    "Go Niners"

  8. Who is playing, Doug?

    San Francisco and somebody back east I think. Something about two brother stars on the same team.

  9. The Harbowl.

    Harbaugh bros. both ex-players, but the Niners guy had a real career.
    1 year apart, I think.

    ...atlanta falcons.

  10. SF v Baltimore Ravens

    Your Super Bowl guide -

  11. Rat's reply thingy is screwed up:

    I replied:

    You forget I agreed with you long ago when you finally stated your position clearly:

    Recognition, but no citizenship.

    (you repeated the actual words in the last thread)

  12. Ravens, Falcons

    ...both birds, aren't they?

  13. Why did you get the comments turned off in the next thread?

    1. I don't see myself as to blame. I used no swear words, no sexual innuendo, no name calling, just some support for Israel and criticism of Hagel.

      So, I don't know the answer to your question.

      I best go back to bed, lest this thread get closed down as well.

  14. Deuce seems to have closed down the comments thread about the explosion at Fordow, which is an important development in today's world.

    I expressed in perfectly reasonable words some support for Israel and some criticism of Hagel.

    I find this inexplicable, and don't see myself at fault, if I am indeed the cause of it.

    1. Must be Hamdoom

      or is it doon?

    2. Hamdoon was the first to bring the incident to the attention of readers here, some day or two ago, so how could Hamdoon be at fault?

    3. Doesn't someone have to be at fault?

    4. Now I forgot what I ssid:
      Could it be?

  15. The guys open the show talking with Adam’s buddy Ray about the unreliability of people in the home improvement industry. Adam also talks about working at the Decorative Box Factory in Gardena, and their friend ‘Russ the Drywaller’. Adam and Ray also look back on their football days, as well as Ray’s ‘abrasive personality.’ Next up, they jump to the phones, and talk to callers about repairing a hollow core door, replacing carpet with hardwood floors, and questions to ask a carpenter.

    Domenick Lombardozzi is in studio next, and Adam talks about his love for Dom’s performance on Entourage. Dom also tells Adam how much he enjoyed ‘The Hammer’. Later, the guys talk about Dom’s experiences working with actors like Robert DeNiro, Chazz Palminteri, and Tommy Lee Jones. Alison opens the news discussing Dr. Phil’s exclusive interview with Roniah Tuiasosopo of the Manti Te’O scandal. They also talk about Beyonce’s press conference, and Dom rants about not being able to get regular milk in his coffee. As the show wraps up, the gang watches the viral video of a controversial news reporter.


    Great Camel Cigarette ad Photos

    Dom and Ray

  16. "Dr. Phil’s exclusive interview with Roniah Tuiasosopo of the Manti Te’O scandal."

    Gotta see that.

    The WEIRD side of my Samoan Brothers.

  17. "Barbara LoMoriello : If anyone saw dr. Phil yesterday very disturbing show and part two is today. It featured Ronaiah Tuiasosopo the young man who pulled the hoax on Manti Te'o, I think we have anew psychiatric diagnosis......what we saw was a man trying to deny his homosexuality to the point where he had to develop a female persona on line. It was tough to watch, I know Doctor Phil picked up on it because as he said something derogatory about Homosexuality dr Phil said,we will talk about what you just said later. It took allot of courage for this troubled young man to speak out, I hope he gets feeling is he did this because on some level he knows he needs help. I wish him peace"


    Maybe a .38 to the temple?

  18. "
    Alberto Diaz : Man At Center Of Manti Te'o Hoax Says He's Recovering From Homosexuality Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man behind the now-famous hoax on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, now says he's "recovering" from homosexuality.

    45 minutes ago - View

    Kenneth Lea : Fairly sure that Manti Te'o and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo have created what I am officially naming a "Catfish Beard". Just my opinion..."

  19. Sine Nomine

    Update: I closed this thread because it was tending toward a subject we can’t look at head on: race. Race is a subject which might not be rationally debatable because it goes to some primordial programming in human beings. And if that’s the case then it operates according to some other calculus, along with such things as sex or deeply held belief. A friend wrote to me “millions of Americans have refused to face this issue head-on; which is one of the reasons, we end up with Chicago. Everyone looks the other way.”

    Well not everyone. For there’s a great deal of power in using the subject of race to political advantage such that the strongest argument for talking about race, however irrationally, is that you can try to do better than the hustlers. But maybe the rules in that polemical universe are different and there’s really no rational calculus in it just an emotional one.

    There are limits to reason; or rather there are limits to what can reasonably be discussed. Objects outside the realm of reason can exist but we must find some other road to them than words.

  20. 43. Morton Doodslag

    Hadiya, a black child named in the Arabic idiom, deserved everything she got including the bullet in the head.


    That sounds more extreme than Hamdoon!

  21. On thread, and ON TARGET:

    40. RWE

    Machias #8:

    “Later analysis found that Columbia was doomed during its launch, when a small bit of foam insulation broke off the shuttle’s external fuel tank and tore a hole in the orbiter’s wing.”

    Well, they got that wrong. The assertion all during the flight was that it was a “small bit of foam” but in reality it was neither small nor foam. It was a big piece of silicone rubber that formed a aerodynamic streamlining ramp in front of one of the struts that held the Shuttle to the External Tank. Even after the loss of Columbia the Shuttle program manager still asserted that it was a “small bit of foam” that could not have done any damage that could have caused the loss.

    I knew many of the details but I am finally reading Comm Check, the book about the Columbia disaster. The shocking thing I found in the book was not facts but attitudes. Multiple people at NASA responded to requests by engineers to seek USAF and NRO data on the Shuttle’s on-orbit condition by saying, basically “What difference does it make now? We can’t do anything about it.” They did not think there was a way to save the crew, so they did not want to know if they needed saving. They persisted in that attitude even when their own computer simulations showed that even if it was just foam, a strike of that size at that time would be sufficient to rip away the thermal protection to a degree to cause loss of the vehicle.

    That was worse than Challenger. With Challenger they ignored data and opinions they did not like. With Columbia they even refused to acquire data and ignored people who they hired to provide opinions.

    I study failures, and it is amazing how much things get misremembered. Inside of a year it will be widely recalled that Haidya Pendleton was killed by a white man wielding an AR-15 as part of an attack on Obama’s gun control efforts. In the cases of Tawany Brownley and the Duke Lacross Rape it was asserted that the seriousness of the charges outstripped the utter lack of evidence; no doubt many felt that such things had happened in the past and they were just catching up.

  22. "The shocking thing I found in the book was not facts but attitudes. Multiple people at NASA responded to requests by engineers to seek USAF and NRO data on the Shuttle’s on-orbit condition by saying, basically “What difference does it make now? We can’t do anything about it.” They did not think there was a way to save the crew, so they did not want to know if they needed saving. They persisted in that attitude even when their own computer simulations showed that even if it was just foam, a strike of that size at that time would be sufficient to rip away the thermal protection to a degree to cause loss of the vehicle."


    Which is why they didn't want photos from Maui's Mount Haleakala.

  23. 7. RWE

    The NAACP launched a lawsuit several years back when it was revealed that black people, displaying gang colors and phrases, could leave Chicago or Detroit and buy guns elsewhere with no problem.

    But the people buying the guns were in fact black police officers from the big city, not gang members. And, naturally, they passed the required background check. The NAACP was suing on the basis that gun store owners would NOT refuse to sell to black people just because they were black and dressed a certain way. That is an interesting interpretation of “discrimination.”

    People from large cities think themselves well informed and everyone else mere rubes. In my experience the exact opposite is the case. A gunshop owner well outside the city is likely to regard gang signs, language, and colors as yet another baffling big city eccentricity.

    Meanwhile, the glad news comes that Tawany Brownley, the black woman who launched Al Sharpton’s career as a race pimp, has been hit with a $400K lawsuit by the people she falsely accused.

  24. I can't help it, and hope this post doesn't offend anyone, but even the White House seems to be saying Hagel is a dolt -

    Unspinnable: White House “disappointed” in Hagel’s performance at hearing
    posted at 9:31 am on February 1, 2013 by Allahpundit

  25. Chuck Hagel Humiliates Chuck Schumer: Obama’s ‘Good Jews’ Revisited

    One person broke into a cold sweat yesterday during Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing for secretary of Defense — Chuck Schumer.

    At least he should have.

    As will be recalled, the New York senator performed a “rabbinic” function for American Jews a couple of weeks ago by privately questioning Hagel about some possibly anti-Semitic statements made by the former Nebraska senator re: “the Jewish lobby,” etc. He also queried Hagel about the nominee’s controversial views on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    Schumer then pronounced Hagel “kosher” and proceeded to his desired reward, a grand televised appearance at Obama’s right hand at the president’s second inaugural.

    But forget the anti-Semitism and Iran for the moment. What we learned on Thursday is that Chuck Hagel is less qualified to be secretary of Defense than most of the students in my daughter’s high school history honors class.

    Not to mince words, the former Nebraska senator is an uninformed nitwit. He’s confused about practically every issue and doesn’t even know what the administration’s policies are. (Didn’t he study for the hearing? If he did, it’s even worse.) They had to send him a note in the middle of the proceedings to remind him of the administration’s position on Iran and “containment” and even then Hagel got it wrong. Carl Levin had to explain it to him.

    I have never seen a nomination hearing so humiliating. (I see why people like Hagel though. He’s kind of an affable dope. But a secretary of Defense? Better for bartender at the golf club.)

    So what did Hagel tell Schumer in their private confab that so reassured New York Chuck? Perhaps Schumer will tell us now, but I doubt it. The real villains here are Schumer and, of course, Obama.

    Why in the world would the president nominate such a person for such an important position? Well, I think we know — he wanted a Republican ally in gutting the Pentagon, a lackey who would give him cover for his most extreme policies. But why would Schumer betray his own co-religionists AND the country in going along with that sleazy and destructive enterprise?

  26. "They had to send him a note in the middle of the proceedings to remind him of the administration’s position on Iran and “containment” and even then Hagel got it wrong. Carl Levin had to explain it to him."


    That was classic.

    The old "I mispoke" I think.

  27. Breaking News11:27 AM ET

    White House Proposes Compromise on Contraception Coverage

    Seeing that headline reminded me of a bit I heard on the radio the other day. It was interview with one of the lawyers involved in Roe v Wade. She mentioned that in Texas, when they were beginning the legal fight, it was illegal for an unmarried woman to purchase contraception.

    illegal to obtain birth control illegal to get an abortion - how messed up is that?