Re: Columbia

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. (
Date: Fri Jun 06 2003 - 23:59:27 EDT

  • Next message: George Murphy: "Re: Columbia"

    On Fri, 06 Jun 2003 22:31:06 -0400 George Murphy <>
    > I don't have the exact parameters for the space shuttle but news
    > reports of the
    > tests to determine the cause of the Columbia break up-puzzle me. A
    > piece of foam like
    > that which broke loose from one of the fuel tanks and struck the
    > shuttle's wing was
    > fired at a wing at a reported speed of 530 mph = 777 ft/s. I don't
    > know the shuttle's
    > acceleration but am pretty sure its maximum must be less than 10 g =
    > 320 ft/s^2 , so the
    > acceleration of the foam relative to the wing was less than 11 g =
    > 352 ft/s^2. To reach
    > a speed of 777 ft/s at this acceleration it would then have to
    > travel a distance
    > d = v^2/2g = (777)^2/2*352 ~ 860 ft.
    > & I think this is a good deal longer than the total length of the
    > shuttle plus fuel
    > tanks.
    > I'm just guessing at numbers here but it seems to me that
    > the speed they're
    > using is too high. Does anyone have the right values?
    > Shalom,
    > George

    I don't have explicit data, but I've got a guess. Shuttle and booster
    were obviously flying at the same speed and acceleration when the piece
    broke off. But the piece was quickly decelerated by the air through which
    they were flying, so the relative velocity on striking the shuttle wing
    was close to the velocity of the craft.

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