Category Archives: Uncategorized

STS-93: We don’t need any more of those

It was about a quarter past midnight on July 23, 1999 when the Ralph Roe, the Shuttle Launch Director, told Eileen’s crew that they were go for launch and wished them good luck. The launch, which had been scrubbed late … Continue reading

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Practicing for Disaster

Even though we sometimes hated them, the training teams that prepared mission control and the astronauts for every flight are real heroes.  Without their efforts, all of us flight controllers would have believed we knew everything there was to know … Continue reading

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STS-93: Dualing computers

In the early days of rocketry, when subsystems reliability was low, hard experience led designers to add redundancy for critical functions where they could.  Redundancy comes at a cost:  increased weight, increased complexity, unintended interactions, complex schemes to manage the … Continue reading

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STS-93: Dodging Golden Bullets

  Calling it Rocket Science is, of course, a misnomer. Science provided the background but today it is definitely Rocket Engineering. Scientists and Engineers mix together like, well, cats and dogs. Friendly détente some days, not so much other days. … Continue reading

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Understanding STS-93: the key is Mixture Ratio

Some time back I started to tell the story of the most interesting shuttle launch:  STS-93.  I think it is time to return to that topic.  To understand what happened, some background is necessary. If this is too engineering-geeky for … Continue reading

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O Columbia

When I first heard that the Houston Grand Opera proposed to produce an opera about the Columbia disaster, I was appalled.   If HGO wanted a spaceflight opera, it would better be the moon landing of Apollo 11; or the … Continue reading

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Manifest Destiny or Pipe Dream?

“I started out as a child” – William H. Cosby, Jr., Ed.D. I have been ruined by the timing of my childhood. Grew up with the space race; 3 years old when Sputnik launched, 7 when Gagarin and Shepard flew … Continue reading

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