Politicians and pundits say the darndest things

A quiet week in space policy, but even during the quietest times you can count in people to say some odd things:

  • At a pre-inaugural event in Washington on Tuesday, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) introduced Buzz Aldrin as “as the second man to walk on the moon, following ‘Neil Young,'”, the Washington Post’s lukewarm gossip column reported. Feeney later admitted he made a gaffe, but claimed that, “Some of his [Young’s] later work leads me to believe he spent some time on the moon.” Sure…
  • In a syndicated column, Chris Adamo reveals the real cause of the Columbia accident: “the blindness of liberal ideology.” Um, ok…

11 comments to Politicians and pundits say the darndest things

  • Dogsbd

    There may be something to the Adamo story. We know the foam formulation WAS changed due to enviromental concerns, and that foam shedding worsened after this change. And I would not bet against Al Gore having had his say on the matter, everyone knows he is a staunch enviromentalist and was quite involved with NASA.

    And here’s an interesting document on the matter I’ve only had time to browse:


  • Easterndesert

    There is NOTHING to the story. The cause of the accident was not concern for the environment. The cause was human error was not taking the risk of the foam to the orbiter seriously enough.

    If a person is killed while walking by a hybrid car – can we claim that liberal ideology (in the guise of environmentalism) killed him?

    The decision to switch may have had consequences in terms of its ability to “stick” but the fault is in forseeing that consequence.

  • Dogsbd

    >> There is NOTHING to the story.

    Not true. The foam WAS changed due to enviromental concerns and that change DID lead to more shedding problems.

    Does that erase any guilt from the managment system that ignore teh warning signs, of course not. But to say there is no substance to the story at all is ignoring facts.

  • Walter E. Wallis, P.E.

    After the pad 13 fire, they should have made sure the partial pressure of oxygen never again got into the dangerous range and got on with it. After the Challenger disaster they should have dumped the idea of segmented boosters and gone to the lighter monolithic filament wound tanks then proposed for Vandenberg launches. The mickeymouse suggestion actually adopted in order to keep the booster business in Utah was an abortion. The guy who said “Take off your engineer’s hat and put on your management hat” should have been flogged. The flights should have resumed as soon as weather permitted.
    As soon as the flaking insulation was discovered the old process should have been restarted. The affirmative action manager who rejected the request for photographing the shuttle should have been fired. With all the blather about not believing the foam was massive enough to damage the wings, apparently no one had the wit to imagine that ice would accumulate beneath faulty insulation, and that 10 or 20 pound pieces of that ice were striking the wing.
    At any rate, the primary causes were known within weeks. Quick and dirty corrections should have been made, and the fleet should have gone back to work. This crap of shutting down for two years every time some one dies is crap. Fly them suckers or get someone else who understands engineering to fly them instead.

  • Edward Wright

    > After the pad 13 fire, they should have made sure the partial pressure
    > of oxygen never again got into the dangerous range and got on with it.

    If they had, they would have lost another crew. Apollo had a lot of things wrong with it. The better solution would have been to use the proven Gemini capsule, as Pete Conrad lobbied for. NASA politics didn’t allow that, however.

  • Matthew Brown

    I find it morally defcient, to use an accident to further ones own hate mongering. With out true substance. Take one fact and to distort it to his uses, specially when he claims he knew the processes that it takes to make a change. (Says he worked for aerospace untill the challenger accident)

    He says after a dozen years of safe service it was decided to change the foam to be more environmently safe. And that once done it was shown that it caused more problems. Well, you can have this one way or another but not both.

    A dozen years after shuttle began flying post challenger was the year 2000. And the civil space program does nothing with out extensive tests. (which is mainly to increase costs so the contractors get paid more IMHO) So the descion to go more enviromentally friendly could have been in 96 when the shuttle was flying for only 8 years with round 50 flights, of a still experimental vehical.

    Blaming the ecological “liberal” ideology for the loss of the columbia is akin to blaming the whole of christiandom for the spanish inquistion. When it was individuals and the failure of processes thats the cause.

    And if he attributes this liberal ideology for the loss of challenger. (Its unclear but his tone was leaning that way) well thats the first time i ever heard ronald reagan’s white house called liberal.

  • Dogsbd

    >>> I find it morally defcient, to use an accident to further ones own hate mongering.

    And I find it morally deficient to ignore the facts.
    Fact: the formulation of the foam was changed to make it more environmentally friendly.
    Fact: this change caused the shedding of foam problem to worsen.

    Does that mean environmentalist killed the Columbia crew? No, but the fact remains: if the foam had not changed the Columbia accident very likely may have never happened.

    What should have happened is this: If you are going to change the foam for WHATEVER reason you should insure that the new foam formulation performs properly. This wasn’t done. Was it due to pressure from those who wanted to see the environmentally friendly foam work; who knows? Maybe, maybe not.

    But I’m betting that if the foam change just happened to benefit a company friendly to some conservative politicians, plenty of folks would see THAT connection! You’d now be screaming about how conservative cronyism to benefit some corporate buddies killed the Columbia crew. And you’d find nothing morally deficient about that position.

  • Well, suppose the old foam _did_ contribute to a serious environmental problem. I admit, the jury is still barely out on that (though pretty much only to those who have their own ideological dog to flog), but, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose it’s true. Do we really balance flooding the world’s coastal cities against seven volunteer astronauts, and automatically decide for the latter? Is it really some evil Al Gore plot to do in American industry to try to limit CFC production when it’s a pretty safe bet that it is causing significant future problems? At the very least, these are not a simple or automatic decisions. . . .

    — Donald

  • Dogsbd

    >>>> Well, suppose the old foam _did_ contribute to a serious environmental problem….. Do we really balance flooding the world’s coastal cities ….

    The original foam may very well have been enviromentally harmfull, but I douubt very much that it was to the extent of “flooding the WORLDS coastal cities”. Were that the case, I would expect that those folks around the tank assembly plant would have been dropping like flys, since by reason the concentrations there should have been much higher.

    There should have been a methodical engineering study of the new foam and all it’s attributes before switching the formula. It seems that process may have been rushed.

  • I fully agree with your second paragraph.

    — Donald

  • Matthew Brown

    I’m not ignoring the facts. But i’m not twisting the facts to support some political agenda. As the writer of the column does with consistancy. Like a Micheal Moore for the Far right. ;)

    As to the money side of thing. I can gaurentee you that who ever supply the foam is making a pretty penny off this becuase of the cost plus model NASA still operates under. If its the same people, then the profits of the cost of R&D would more then be incentive for them to switch.

    In truth, if you really want to boil this down the the root human nature cause of the accident, its not some ideology with good intentions, but greed (the companies that profited from the foam change) and fear (fear of loosing ones jobs to let concerns go up within NASA) that subverts these good intentions.

    We are all here trying to figure ut how to work the system to a get a real space program for what ever our own personal agendas. Let just be sure we don’t get caught up in left vs right arguments. As i am neither.. I consider myself apart of the far up and out people. :)