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Lee Hutchinson, Monday, 3-17-14 March 18, 2014

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Lee Hutchinson, Monday, 3-17-14


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Guest:  Lee Hutchinson.  Topics:  The possible Columbia Space Shuttle rescue mission.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Lee Hutchinson to the program to discuss his recent article, “The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia” which you can read at http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/02/the-audacious-rescue-plan-that-might-have-saved-space-shuttle-columbia.  Note that Mr. Hutchinson said he found the possible rescue plan spelled out in the CAIB report in seldom discussed Appendix D13 of the report.  In questioning Lee, we also learned that the plan did not exist real time with Columbia but was actually requested as part of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s work.  In the first segment of our 1 hour 28 minute program, our guest told us why he wrote the article and how he noticed the possible rescue plan back when he was tasked with reviewing the CAIB Report.  During this segment, our guest described all parts of the plan and we discussed the likelihood of it having worked had it been implemented.  Lee also discussed probable & significant timing issues with parts of the rescue plan making it unlikely to have been implemented had it been a real time plan under consideration.  It was dependent upon too many things happening precisely on time and schedule, something that was not always possible with shuttle launches.  Lee also went over the specific crew training issues that would have been required, plus issues in using EVA suits and getting them to and from Columbia for the astronauts to use.  Listeners asked many questions including questions about NASA management at the time, risk averseness, & the NASA culture. Lee was asked about the comments & feedback he received from writing his article.  As the segment ended, Mr. Hutchinson discussed plane change maneuvers and the significance of the orbital inclination of Columbia and the ISS.

In the second segment, a Cleveland listener ask for Lee’s thoughts on SLS-Orion.  Lee & I talked about this & the NASA culture plus the need for heavy lift assuming there are missions for it.  He was asked if the shuttle could fly without pilots, then we went back to SLS.  He also told us about his interest in the redesign of the F1 engine.  You can read his articles on the F1 here:  http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/how-nasa-brought-the-monstrous-f-1-moon-rocket-back-to-life; http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/new-f-1b-rocket-engine-upgrades-apollo-era-deisgn-with-1-8m-lbs-of-thrust.  Lee received several email questions regarding the foam strike on Columbia & foam modification efforts.  He was also asked about the shuttle repair kit which was carried on subsequent shuttle flights.  Benny asked if a 3D printer on board could have made the materials to repair the Columbia damage.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS Blog above. You can reach Lee Hutchinson through me or the Arstechnica.com site.


Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David, Tuesday, 7-17-12 July 17, 2012

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Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David, Tuesday, 7-17-12


Lessons Learned from the Columbia accident & NASA’s human spaceflight experience

Guests:  Michael Ciannilli, Leonard David.  Topics:  Columbia lessons learned & human spaceflight safety issues.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Michael Ciannilli of NASA to the program to discuss lessons learned from the Columbia accident & NASA’s history of human spaceflight. Leonard David of Space.com returned as a co-host for this program.  Our nearly two hour no break discussion started with Michael providing us with an historical overview of the Columbia accident.  We talked about the debris retrieval process & the fact that about 38% of Columbia was retrieved.  Michael was asked about surprises & among the many he mentioned, one in particular dealt with the tile & thermal impact showing burning on the inside & how that was a clue to what happened to Columbia.  Michael then listed several lessons learned.  When I asked if he could prioritize the items he mentioned, he said they were all important.  We talked about the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), return to flight, incorporating lessons learned, & more.  Leonard asked about the idea of NASA HSF safety excesses & we asked Michael if lessons learned & HSF safety issues were shared with both the private sector companies & the Russians.  I asked Michael about educational outreach & he had some interesting things to say about the international internet audience as well as the local audience.  The subject of urban legends came up in the outreach discussion & we honed in on the idea of the possibility of a rescue mission.  You do not want to miss this important discussion.  Other issues discussed included the foam problem, Leonard asked about the “bone matrix” he saw in use at the CAIB hearings, & I mentioned the need to really know & understand the hardware given our recent intimate visit with Endeavour.  Cultural issues were a part of this discussion, including the risk of workforce lulls & the need to avoid complacency.  Michael cited tile issues as an example going back to STS 1 and studying all missions to really understand tile concerns.  One email dealt with NASA risk aversion & some space enthusiasts saying that to open the space frontier we need to “kill more people.”  Michael addressed these issues, going over the NASA mission & imperatives, their responsibilities, and the risks of all sorts of consequences coming to life.  We talked about individual worker responsibility and accountability with Michael giving us both NASA and personal insights into this subject.  We then talked about the balancing act required in weighing the risk trades of cutting costs, cutting corners, taking more risks, taking less risks, etc.  He suggested private companies will go through a similar process and talked about the consequences of decisions which can be devastating with the loss of a crew to the termination of a program or the loss of the company.  Michael explained the Criticality One status and what it means in the risk analysis process.  Another listener asked if shuttles still had life left in them at the time of retirement. The short answer was yes but don’t miss what Michael has to say about the condition of space shuttle fleet at the time of retirement.  Another issue discussed dealt with trying to find a lower cost way of operating shuttle and dealing with all their infrastructure without compromising safety.  Near the end of the program, we took a Southern California call asking about potentially different standards for government astronauts and private-sector astronauts.  I was asked to lead off with my opinion which I did from a business liability perspective, then Michael and Leonard discussed the subject. We had lots to say about informed consent, litigation, & the uncertainties inherent when involved in a jury trial.  As we were winding down the program, Michael provided us with his closing comments, then I added in my own comments that focused on the sports inspirational speaker, Ray Lewis, linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, who gives a terrific inspirational speech to teams around the country, “Pissed Off For Greatness.”  You can find lots of information about this by using Google for his name or the speech title.  Essentially, this is about not accepting mediocrity in what you do & I extrapolated it to space.  HSF workers, regardless of being with NASA or any company as well as others involved in the space field cannot accept mediocrity.  Being pissed off for greatness implies that if you are not pissed off for greatness, then you willing to settle for being mediocre in what you do.  Michael, Leonard and I talked about this at the end of the program.  I hope you will concur with me that extrapolating this inspirational sports talk to space fits.  Michael closed us out by saying it takes courage to stand up and say something if you believe something is off or not right in the program.  He further said it takes a lot to challenge the bureaucracy and stand up but that we all have to do it when the situation arises.

Please post your comments and questions on The Space Show blog URL above.  If you want to email Michael or Leonard, do so through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com and I will forward it to the person of your choice.