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NASA beefs up space station safety

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#1    Starlyte


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Posted 07 November 2003 - 04:42 PM

Post-Columbia upgrades planned in inspection and shielding

NASA is beefing up exterior inspections of the international space station and making other improvements in the program as the result of a post-Columbia safety review.

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A NASA graphic shows "blind spots" (in pink) as well as places observable only from oblique angles (in orange) on the exterior of the international space station. Spy satellites and spacewalking astronauts may be needed to inspect those areas for potential damage.

THE SPACE AGENCY on Thursday released its plan for safely keeping a crew aboard the space station without the help of the remaining three shuttles, grounded until at least next fall. Currently, smaller Russian spacecraft are taking crews and supplies to the station.

The 84-page report notes there is room for improvement, including the need for more and better inspections of space station wiring, equipment and outside surfaces, improved shielding against orbiting debris, and more complete monitoring of problems.

“The Columbia tragedy serves as strong reminder that space flight is harshly unforgiving of engineering deficiencies, overconfidence, system or human error and inaccurate risk assessments,” the report stated.

Soon after Columbia disintegrated over Texas in February, NASA’s space station program began examining its own operations to identify safety risks that could be reduced. The team assessed every recommendation and observation put forth by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board to see how they might apply to the space station.

One area of inadequacy was found to be external surveying.
Visiting space shuttles had routinely photographed the exterior of the space station, and now, without the shuttles flying, NASA worries that outside damage could go undetected.

NASA instituted a plan to survey the outside of the space station using external cameras; no serious problems have been uncovered. But not every corner of the outpost can be viewed by these cameras and will require help from satellites or spacewalking astronauts.

The station program agreed to take advantage of spy satellites, if needed, to spot outside damage.

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#2    The Nameless One

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 02:35 AM


One night I ventured to my wooden rocking chair right outside my back porch, and I looked to the sky in the break of twilight, staring into the dark mirror of space, filled with sands of star dust, colossal supernovas and red giants, strings of wormholes and distant planets beyond my grasp. A place where tiny enigmatic hidden black holes tear through the fabric of space and time which, who knows; may lead into other dimensions and perhaps alternate realities. And as I look up at this heavens mirror which my hands can only reach so far through this looking glass, I felt an odd sensation of something looking back staring into my own eyes, staring into a whole other universe of which I new nothing about until I saw my reflection within it, and in that moment I then knew that the key which open the portal doors to parallel worlds was myself.    "The Eyes of the Universe, Chris Landrum"

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