Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Update: For Want Of An Ejector Seat?

We linked to astronaut Michael Mullane's criticisms of the shuttle as a "death trap" the other day. (Here.) Mullane's criticism about the shuttle's failure to include an ejection seat drew a rebuttal from an engineer, who makes the reasonable point that an ejection system would not have saved the Columbia astronauts because of the speed the shuttle was traveling when its catastrophic failure occurred and the extreme temperatures during re-entry. (Here.)

In Mullane's defense, his point was not so much that an ejection system would have saved the Columbia astronauts. His argument was that NASA failed to learn the lesson of Challenger when it launched Columbia. In his view, NASA's failure was to permit continued launches of the shuttle with a known and dangerous design flaw. As he said, "Columbia was a repeat of Challenger, where people had a known design problem and launched anyway." (Here.)


I believe Mullane also said what the engineer rebutted. I didn't read the same source article that you have posted but in the one I read he said straight out that no, it would not have saved the Columbia astronauts but, as you stated, it is a lesson that should have been learned.

Anyway, keep up with the updates.
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