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Jack William Bell's Journal: Best of: The Columbia Disaster

Journal by Jack William Bell
(It seems odd to call this post 'Best of: The Columbia Disaster' when there was nothing 'best' about the Columbia disaster. However this is the first part of a series of entries linking to my best posts in the past year, and these posts certainly qualify.)

After the Columbia disaster I was fairly upset with the regular media reporting and with NASA's lack of open discussion. However NASA did release some telemetry information gathered right before the shuttle breakup. That information seemed to contain some clues as to exactly what had happened, but it was pretty hard to understand. Being a visual thinker I needed a more graphical view of the sensor results over time, so I created my own animation of the data.

Veiwing my animation and a picture taken of the shuttle right before the breakup led me to the conclusion that one of the leading edge carbon/carbon shielding blocks had failed, just outboard of the wheel well. For whatever it is worth, I turned out to be 100% correct!

However being right did not make me feel good. Instead I was irritated on several levels. First off, I was an amateur using those little bits of information openly released to come by my findings, while NASA engineers with access to even more information were silenced -- even after the 'official' findings were released. Something that took another four months. Certainly they arrived at the same conclusion long before I did; why weren't they alowed to speak and why did it take so long?

Furthermore none of the various news sources, any of whom could have done the same thing I did, paid any attention to this data at all. Yet another case of someone in the blogosphere getting it right while the media yammers about inconsequentials. Oh well. And it didn't even lead to fifteen minutes of fame for me. Probably a good thing...

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Best of: The Columbia Disaster

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IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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