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Former Space Shuttle Flight Director Wayne Hale talks about how even NASA levels of scrutiny can misdiagnose a critical issue and lead to a repeated (but in this casem avoided) disaster. A good lesson for us all.
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Paul Cowan's profile photoBen Stewart's profile photoAndrew Pam's profile photoJim Mussared's profile photo
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wow. got chills reading that. I certainly will be thankful if I ever go to the Smithsonian and view Discovery.
 
even after that return to flight we still had issues with Ice Frost Ramps, and damage on the underside tiles (in the shape of Texas on STS-118). spaceflight is hard, but you do your best to mitigate issues, understand the failure modes, and prepare for the unknown unknowns. If you try to solve all the problems of spaceflight you will never leave the spaceport. Wayne grew up in Mission Ops like me so the Foundations set out by Kranz and Kraft shaped our thinking and how we live.
Foundations of Mission Operations

1. To instill within ourselves these qualities essential to professional excellence

Discipline…Being able to follow as well as to lead, knowing that we must master ourselves before we can master our task.

Competence…There being no substitute for total preparation and complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.

Confidence…Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing that we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed.

Responsibility…Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.

Toughness…Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again, even if it means following a more difficult path.

Teamwork…Respecting and utilizing the abilities of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends upon the efforts of all.

Vigilance… Always attentive to the dangers of spaceflight; Never accepting success as a substitute for rigor in everything we do.

2. To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.

3. To recognize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but that in the trying we do not give it our best effort.
 
The only launch I ever saw (in person) was the one in '05. I have a particular fondness for that one. I loved the shuttle. Love, indeed, is the right word. I spent many hours in my backyard with a rope, drawing the outline of various pieces. High school friends are amazed I don't work at Nasa. I'll miss the shuttles deeply. A capsule ... isn't a flying machine. But it seems to me that the real flaw wasn't the liberated foam, it was putting the shuttle in the way of it.
Hong Z
 
A very interesting lesson.

Back in early 80s, there was plan to use Ti-Al honeycomb to replace ceramic tiles. It would be much more durable and require much less maintenance. But it never happens.
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