On 2003-02-10 10:43, Bill Thompson wrote:
Let me know if I should write a letter to NASA.
Why, I wonder, don't they ask a computer programmer -- one whose job and experience is solving problems -- for a solution when confronted with a problem?
As I see it, there are things that need to change in order to insure that people can travel into space
#1. Forget about glue. The tiles should not be glued on but clamped on. The tiles should be anchored to the shell of the shuttle not glued on. I don't know if they even considered this. I am talking about redesigning the back of the tiles so that they have a lip and and indention going all around it and design the bare shell of the shuttle body so that it is equipped with titanium clamps to hold the tiles in place. Now, these babies are not coming off if they are hit by a micro-meteorite, a micro-asteroid, a bullet, a piece of metal traveling thousand miles of hours. Etc.
#2. They need to borrow from nature. Just as cars have crumple zones, the human body's bones are designed with varying thickness so that, if push comes to shove, a bone will break in the least lethal areas. This is why the bones around the knees and elbows are thicker. But in the case of the space shuttle, It is the physiology of a shark that is the area of nature that they need to borrow from. Whenever a shark gets a tooth broken off, a new one grows back to replace it. The skin of the shuttle can be in several layers. If a few tiles on the outer layer gets lost, there are tiles behind them that will pop out.
#3 It is just simple common sense -- and good hindsight -- to say that every mission should include a space walk to check the outside of the shuttle for damage and need for repair.
#4 The next shuttle mission -- maybe the next two shuttle missions -- should be focused on placing some sort of shuttle first aid kit and even an emergency escape pod into orbit.
#5 The navy designs modern war ships into compartments so that if one area of the ship becomes flooded, it can be sealed off from the rest of the ship. Also, F-14's are designed to save the life of the pilots if the aircraft is doomed. Borrowing from these two aspects of the Navy, it is easy to imagine a design of the passenger area at the nose of the space shuttle that is physically sealed off from the rest of the ship and is designed to break away in the event that the rest of the shuttle is lost.