from what they are saying on the news this morning, it appears they are leaning toward tiles. they say that they are checking everything and not ruling anything out.
There was a comment by a NASA official which seemed to indicate that it might not have been a problem with the tiles. He didn’t want to push any conclusions, but it seemed possible to him that one of the doors covering the wheel on the left wing had come open or that there was a problem with the “flaps” on that side of the craft.
I heard the same thing on NPR this morning: that the failure could have started at the port landing gear door. What they said about the “flaps”, however, was not that they may have failed, but they were deployed more, on the port wing, than they had ever been deployed before. This would indicate some sort of drag on the port wing, which would have required more lift and thus more aileron (or flapperopn) deflection than normal.
Question about the breakup: We all heard the pilot’s last words. NASA said they received his message about the tire pressure and then the Husband saus, “Roger, buh…” This is followed by some intermittent static.
Husband did not seem alarmed. His “Roger, buh…” sounded perfectly calm. I wonder if he was unaware of any major problem, and was just passing on information that he thought would be useful later? He was obviously cut off in mid-transmission. Could the intermittent static have been caused by Husband or some debris accidentally hitting the transmit button? In any case, it sounds as if the crew never knew what hit them.
Good question. The shuttle pretty much lands itself (IIRC, many of the recent landings have been done solely by the computer.) and I’ve always wondered if the astronauts would be paying as much attention to everything with the computer landing the shuttle as they would if they were actually piloting the thing in. Or it may have been that they knew there was a problem, but felt that if the computer couldn’t handle it, there was nothing that they could do, and just didn’t worry about it.
It might be that some of the earliest debris to come off might be the most telling, as it might be more as a direct result of whatever started the critical failure. Even if this is true though, that doesn’t necessarily mean it would land furtherest west. Probably, but not decidedly so.
There was a report that a man in California saw a piece of debris fall from the Shuttle as it passed overhead. Could be that the problem started earlier than the news thinks. (Which is almost always the case in aircraft accidents.)
NASA is recovering 32 seconds of telemetry that computers rejected as “garbled”. There will probably be a clue in there.
What was the weather like in San Francisco Saturday morning? The reason the debris cloud showed up so well on Central Texas radar is because skies were clear and they had the radar settings turned to “very sensitive”. Could we be lucky enough that San Fran enjoyed the same and that any debris shed there might possibly have emitted a radar blip, thus helping to refine our search for it?
there was mention on saturday about people seeing trouble when the shuttle was over calif. i remember on one of the news shows they had 2 men on that were watching the shuttle at an astro. lab in calif, and noticed irregularities.
they seem to be homing in on the port wing and landing gear. perhaps the foam hit harder than anyone thought and knocked something off kilter. i would think it will be very difficult to find wreakage from that side of the vehicle. a spike of 60 degrees in temp. is quite a bit, the parts there had more time exposed to heat.