Friday 7 February 2003

Columbia Crash Caused By Fire in the Left Wheel Bay

by Joe Vialls

Claims by NASA that a ten-pound chunk of soft water-resistant foam caused “severe damage to the heat tiles on Columbia’s port [left] wing" are absurd. At the time the foam broke away from the main fuel tank, shortly after launch, Columbia had a velocity of only 513-mph, rendering the oblique glancing impact of the soft foam completely insignificant.

Think about it people, think about it! This is a craft designed to withstand the impact of minor space debris while in orbit, and then cope with enormous temperatures during re-entry to earth’s atmosphere. The heat tiles are even designed in such a way that if you lose a few {and some have been lost in the past], the Shuttle will easily survive to fly another day.

All we have to do is ignore the NASA fundraisers, ignore the blatantly forged Israeli picture “proving” that Columbia had “cracks and a dent” in its left wing, and focus on hard data which were made available on the actual day of the catastrophe, before NASA could start changing the ground rules.

Real-time telemetry provides us with the proper sequence of events, which are as follows: There was an asymmetric 45F temperature increase in the left wing, reported by heat sensors located next to the left main wheel bay. Then these sensors failed completely, followed by failure of those sensors which normally report the tire pressures of the left main wheels, which are located inside the left wheel bay. By any reasonable analysis, at this point we have a serious problem next to, and also inside, the left main wheel bay. Most probable cause [indicated by the sensors] would be fire.

Next up, the real-time telemetry records sudden and massive drag on the left wing; drag so incredibly severe that the emergency retro-rockets fired in an attempt to correct the Shuttle’s attitude. Losing a few heat tiles would produce no significant drag at all, because they would have already left the craft and be trailing far behind in its slipstream. Got it so far? But what if Columbia lost 50 tiles, or even more. Exactly how would this affect the space vehicle during re-entry? Well, there would have been a much steeper increase in asymmetric temperature than was recorded by the sensors, but still very little drag, because there is a perfectly streamlined wing surface existing immediately underneath the tiles.

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