Today in Investor’s Business Daily stock analysis and business news — I’ve been wondering what changed. Now I know.

But the root cause for both the disintegration of the shuttle Columbia due to thermal tiles damaged by chunks of insulating foam falling off the large external fuel tank, the earlier loss of Challenger, and the repetition of the foam problem with Discovery, may be the decision imposed on NASA to use parts and materials that were more environmentally friendly.

In 1997, during the 87th space shuttle mission, similar tile damage occurred during launch. NASA’s Greg Katnik stated in his December 1997 review of the problems of STS-87: “During the STS-87 mission, there was a change made on the external tank. Because of NASA’s goal to use environmentally friendly products, a new method of ‘foaming’ the external tank had been used for this mission and the STS-86 mission.”

NASA was just responding to pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency to stop using Freon, a fluorocarbon that greenies claim damages the ozone layer, in the manufacture of its thermal-insulating foam. But the politically correct foam was known to be less sticky and more brittle under extreme temperatures.

Hannes Hacker, an aerospace engineer and former flight controller at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, states: “The risk of a piece of debris falling off and causing significant damage to the shuttle’s thermal protection system was 10 times greater with the new material than the old material.”

found by B. Mounsey



  1. Miguel Lopes (not a US citizen) says:

    Man, this is revolting! To use the Space Shuttle program to forward your government’s agenda of environmentally-unfriendlyness makes me sick! I hope none of the readers buy this sort of bullshit!

    1 – The Challenger blew up because it was launched after a night of sub-zero temperatures – the rubber O-rings got brittle as a result, not because “NASA was encouraged to use a new type of putty to protect the O-rings ” as the article states. It was an internal *political* decision within NASA to lauch at all cost.

    2 – While it *may* be true that the new foam is less ‘sticky’, the flawed decision to bring Columbia back with little of no investigation of the foam impact occurrence was also an internal *political* decision.

    (I say ‘may’ as Doug Osheroff, a physicist at Stanford University in California, and a member of the CAIB, recently said “we clearly don’t understand all the mechanisms for foam shedding.” )

    Both disasters were caused by *internal politics* inside NASA – people wanting to look good – never mind the costs! Billions of dollars. Lives.

    I dare say the same is happening right now – it has been widely reported recently that not all of CAIB’s (Columbia Accident Investigation Board ) recommendations have been observed. NASA’s director Michael Griffin has pressed forward nonetheless, arguing that NASA has done the best human beings can do. I beg to differ, and those of us old enough to remember the Apollo program will know what I mean. Right now, failure seems to be an option. A political risk.

    Your government stinks. Bigtime. The worse things I can imagine being done to attack our environment WILL get done by your government, and then some.

    BTW, my congratulations to the absolutely admirable job to the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery. You guys in the US should support the space program, instead of running for cover and easy solutions whenever difficulties arise. Hopefully better days will come, after the Bush Dark Ages.

  2. M Schuetz says:

    This certainly isn’t an isolated case. Take ‘noise abatement’ regs around airports. People get used to the sound. That’s the trade off for affordable property. However, these regulations require reduced noise which means that aircraft opperate at reduced power levels. Once at sufficient altitude, noise isn’t an issue so you try to gain altitude as quickly as possible. A full aircraft, trying to gain altitude as rapidly as possible, without being able to use maximum engine power is just asking for similar troubles. All in the name of political correctness…..
    M Schuetz

  3. AB CD says:

    Also as the World Trade Center was being built , more environmental friendliness went into the top floors. Thus there was no asbestos to retard the fire on 9/11.

  4. Rick says:

    This is really not surprising to me. I’ve seen it before.

    My father and my brother have both owned manufacturing companies for many years. I’ve seen them both have to change how their products are made numerous times because things are outlawed.

    With each change the end product behaves differently and must be reformulated or changed in some way. The new product usually performs worse than the original.

    Common sense tells me that NASA faces similar problems.

  5. Pat says:

    The World Trade Center was designed in the 1960s. Asbestos WAS used as insulation. It was also designed to withstand the impact of the largest aircraft at that time, the Boeing 707. It was a combination of factors including the size of the planes, the increased fuel load, the office furnishings and carpeting, the tons of paper, and lack of water for fire suppression that led to the fall of the Towers. To suggest just one is folly. The towers lasted for some time after impact before finally giving way, which would have happened eventually, insulation or no insulation.

    As for changing methods for manufacturing, GREAT IDEA. The Environmental Protection Agency grew out of the aftermath of Love Canal in Niagara Falls NY. By products from industry was killing not only the residents that lived there, but also those whose water was being tainted by the chemical dump leaking into the Niagara River. And the Love Canal was only one of thousands of toxic sites leaking dangerous chemicals.

    If a replacement for a dangerous chemical is available, then there is no reason to not use it. Continuing to use, for example, Freon is somewhere between just plain stupid and being a Intelligent Designer. Freon has been demonstrated to deplete the upper atmospheric ozone layer, which protects us from harmful Ultra Violet radiation. In turn, UV increases the risk of skin cancer, eye cataracts and plant growth. Replacements might require some different tooling or usage, but they can sufficiently and safely replace Freon.

    I agree with Miguel. There wasn’t a proper foam replacement study done. If after the Discovery disaster they have not corrected the root cause, foam adhesion, then they haven’t learned anything. Instead, political expediency demanded that the Space Shuttle fly. But don’t use an eight-year-old excuse as a reason for today’s failure. Especially when it was apparent then that there was a problem with the foam adhesion.

    One last comment. To those that think regulations are all stupid and interfere with industries RIGHT to make money are idiots. And I’ll add selfish and inconsiderate to that as well. I challenge anyone to come up with a regulation that does not serve the public good and / or safety. All regulations have either grown out of abuse or the foreseen need to prevent a problem.

    The problem arises when certain groups don’t want regulations to apply to them. Most big businesses want the regulations we currently have. It levels the playing field and they know what they need to do to be responsible corporate citizens.

  6. Pat says:

    The World Trade Center was designed in the 1960s. Asbestos WAS used as insulation. It was also designed to withstand the impact of the largest aircraft at that time, the Boeing 707. It was a combination of factors including the size of the planes, the increased fuel load, the office furnishings and carpeting, the tons of paper, and lack of water for fire suppression that led to the fall of the Towers. To suggest just one is folly. The towers lasted for some time after impact before finally giving way, which would have happened eventually, insulation or no insulation.

    As for changing methods for manufacturing, GREAT IDEA. The Environmental Protection Agency grew out of the aftermath of Love Canal in Niagara Falls NY. By products from industry was killing not only the residents that lived there, but also those whose water was being tainted by the chemical dump leaking into the Niagara River. And the Love Canal was only one of thousands of toxic sites leaking dangerous chemicals.

    If a replacement for a dangerous chemical is available, then there is no reason to not use it. Continuing to use, for example, Freon is somewhere between just plain stupid and being a Intelligent Designer. Freon has been demonstrated to deplete the upper atmospheric ozone layer, which protects us from harmful Ultra Violet radiation. In turn, UV increases the risk of skin cancer, eye cataracts and plant growth. Replacements might require some different tooling or usage, but they can sufficiently and safely replace Freon.

    I agree with Miguel. There wasn’t a proper foam replacement study done. If after the Discovery disaster they have not corrected the root cause, foam adhesion, then they haven’t learned anything. Instead, political expediency demanded that the Space Shuttle fly. But don’t use an eight-year-old excuse as a reason for today’s failure. Especially when it was apparent then that there was a problem with the foam adhesion.

    One last comment. To those that think regulations are all stupid and interfere with industries RIGHT to make money are idiots. And I’ll add selfish and inconsiderate to that as well. I challenge anyone to come up with a regulation that does not serve the public good and / or safety. All regulations have either grown out of abuse or the foreseen need to prevent a problem.

    The problem arises when certain groups don’t want regulations to apply to them. Most big businesses want the regulations we currently have. It levels the playing field and they know what they need to do to be responsible corporate citizens.

  7. site admin says:

    I’m always amused at how observant and deep-thinking individuals oh so insightful seem to get self-absorbed and post the same message twice because they do not seem to read the proclamation announcing the fact that this is a moderated forum with a possible 24-hour delay in the posting. Does this observational failure reflect a general individual system failure insofar as a posted concept or perspective? I wonder.

  8. Miguel Lopes says:

    Maybe something went wrong with the browser and he had to press the button twice? Sometimes that happens, you just get an error message after posting your comment, then you press back and press ‘Say It’ again. The time difference between both comments is 2 minutes, maybe that’s what happened?

  9. AB CD says:

    Asbestos was used for most of the World Trade Center, but was banned as the top floors were being built. As for big business supporting most regulations consider that their costs go up by a little, while small competitors see their costs go up by a lot. Big business loves regulations that freeze out competitors. Consider the big tobacco comapnies insisting that the master settlement be enforced against the little competitors.

  10. AB CD says:

    Wow, Pat. If I read your post right, you are blindly supporting every regulation in the Federal Register, all 350,000 pages. YOu’re essentialyl saying the governmetn can do no wrong, specifically the executive branch as most regulations were never voted on by Congress.


0

Bad Behavior has blocked 19726 access attempts in the last 7 days.