OT: Death by environmentalism

I read an interesting article on the
formatting link
website that
I visited recently. "Death by Environmentalism" was written by
William L. Anderson about how environmentalism had a role in both
shuttle disasters. Previous foam used to insulate Columbia's external
fuel tanks was CFC-based. NASA could have sought an exemption, but
instead chose to use an inferior substitute (what one writer Steve
Milloy called PC-foam (policically correct foam). A similar
substitution happened with the Challenger. The previous O-ring
material contained asbestos which was forbidden from being used by the
EPA.
Reply to
Denis G.
Loading thread data ...
Wrong! The O-rings were made out of solid rubber. And the EPA did not ban anything containing rubber until months after the Challenger disaster. And read all of Anderson's message. NASA could have gotten an excemption from the EPA to keep using the "old" foam.
formatting link
===========================
Anti-environmental myths
formatting link
skepticism
formatting link
Reply to
Jim Norton
I believe that I've represented the article correctly. Here is a direct excerpt from that article:
"... That is all that the mainstream news?and NASA?have been willing to report. What they have not said is that the particular foam that was in use at the time was an environmental substitute replacing a material that had worked well. However, the previous foam used to insulate the Columbia's external fuel tanks contained Freon, which is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) that the EPA banned because of the ozone depletion scare.
As Steven Milloy reports, NASA could have sought an exemption. Freon, after all, is inert and nontoxic, and its connection to ozone depletion is tenuous at best. However, having been burned by the EPA once before (as I will point out), NASA succumbed to what Milloy calls "PC foam." He writes, "PC foam was an immediate problem. The first mission with PC foam resulted in 11 times more damaged thermal tiles on Columbia than the previous mission with Freon-based foam."[i]
Furthermore, the damage was obvious?and quite severe. Milloy writes that following the 1997 Columbia mission, "more than 100 tiles were damaged beyond repair, well over the normal count of 40."
I now examine the Challenger explosion, which occurred the week after the Super Bowl in January 1986. As nearly everyone familiar with the catastrophe knows, a set of O-rings that was supposed to keep hot gases trapped in the rocket carrying the shuttle failed, the fuel quickly leaking out and igniting into a fireball shortly after takeoff.
It was an unusually cold morning at Cape Canaveral, too cold for the O-rings to perform properly. That is well-known. What most people do not know is that the material used to make the O-rings was a substitute to replace a product that the Environmental Protection Agency had banned because it contained asbestos.
The original O-rings used between the rocket joints came from an over-the-counter putty that had been used safely and effectively for a long time. However, in its war against the use of asbestos anywhere, anytime, the EPA forbade NASA from using that product at all after the space agency had sought an exemption. The EPA, not surprisingly, refused that request, something that would ultimately lead to the next disaster 17 years later. The new product, not surprisingly, failed and we know the rest of the story.
In normal situations, this would be a scandal of epic proportions. A government agency requires the use of unsafe materials that lead to the very public deaths of 14 individuals. Had a private firm permitted these kinds of unsafe working conditions, the situation would be worthy of a New York Times investigative report. Instead, all we hear is silence, interspersed with "the show must go on" comments about the future of the space shuttle program. Even the news reports on the foam disaster have ignored the reason why NASA used such an unsafe product; in fact, mainstream reporters are not even asking the pertinent questions. ..."
Reply to
Denis G.
That is nonsense. The O-rings are not made from putty. The O-rings are made of rubber. The O-ring is put in the joint to keep the hot gases in the booster rocket from blowing the putty out of the joints and in turn, the putty keeps the hot gases from burning the O-ring. In other words, they are two different things which are both used together.
In the Challenger accident, the O-rings were too cold to seal the joint and when the booster was started, the pressure blew the putty past the O-ring. Then, since there was no putty to protect the O-ring, the hot gases burned through the O-ring and through the side of the booster itself. This caused the external fuel tank to explode. End of story.
Fred
Reply to
ff
No. The putty contained asbestos. After the origonal maker stopped making the putty, NASA switched to another putty that also contained asbestos.
formatting link
========================== Anti-environmental myths
formatting link
skepticism
formatting link
Reply to
Jim Norton

Site Timeline

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.