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Author Topic:   NASA Chart: Human spaceflight close calls
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2009 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Johnson Space Center's Flight Safety Office maintains this Significant Incidents and Close Calls in Human Spaceflight graphic to provide continuing visibility of the risks inherent with space exploration and provide engineers with a summary of past experience.
It is hoped this information will be used to learn from the past and make present and future missions safer.
Editor's note: This version of the document was first forwarded to collectSPACE in February 2009 and, as a work in progress, is still under review and revision.

Click to enlarge (2.8 mb graphic) or download document (584 k PDF)

John Charles
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posted 04-10-2009 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for posting this! I have seen the 2007 version -- and added a few more items to it.

Speaking of which, given the recent attention that the STS-27 TPS damage attracted, it is curious that STS-27 is not listed in the box for significant TPS damage.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2009 10:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My understanding is that there is a revised edition, which adds STS-27 to the list and denotes it as the most severe damage to date (the update was likely because of the recent coverage published about that mission).

328KF
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posted 04-11-2009 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone know more about the "fire/combustion" events on the 4 STS missions?

cspg
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posted 04-11-2009 11:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's what I've found but I'm not sure that this info fits within the "fire/combustion" description:
  • STS-6, damage to the AFRSI thermal blanket on the orbiter's OMS pods, damage ranging from "missing outermost sheets and insulation to broken stitches and, in the severst cases, was even attributed to "some type of undetermined flow phenomena" during re-rentry." (Space Shuttle Challenger: Ten journeys into the Unknown, by Ben Evans, Springer-Praxis, 2007, pp42-43.)

  • STS-28: Brewster Shaw investigated unusual aerodynamic "shift" experienced during reentry, Columbia's wings being 2-4 times "rougher" than other orbiters; the left wing was rougher than the right one, suspecting a change in the orbiter flying characteristics (surface roughness and RCC damage could explain that). (Space Shuttle Columbia, Her missions and crews, Ben Evans, Springer-Praxis, 2005, p446.) Also there were RCS thrusters failures.

  • STS-35: Data Display Units (DDUs) scent of overheating (source: ibid, p130)

  • STS-40: "Several thermal "blankets" attached to the aft bulkhead had become unfastened"; "part of the payload bay door seal strip was displaced" (source: ibid, p144).

328KF
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posted 04-12-2009 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only one there that I see as proper for that category might be the overheating on STS-35. Putting external heat shield issues in the same grouping as the '97 fire aboard Mir doesn't seem right.

I have asked here before, but I had heard there was some major issue during the STS-36 landing which has never been disclosed due to the classified nature of the flight. With Gibson's recent openess with the STS-27 problem, which was a classified flight as well, I wonder why someone else (Mullane?) hasn't been willing to give details.

John Charles
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posted 04-12-2009 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by cspg:
Here's what I've found but I'm not sure that this info fits within the "fire/combustion" description
Here is what I have, from a 2002 briefing, all internal to the Space Shuttle crew environment (plus about 9 in-flight events on Soviet/Russian space stations):
  • STS-6: Wire burnt beneath humidifier
  • STS-28: Teflon sleeve pyrolyzed by electrical short
  • STS-35: Combustion products from electronics pyrolysis in 2 data display units
  • STS-40: Formaldehyde pollution from pyrolysis of motor housing in refrigerator

Aztecdoug
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posted 04-12-2009 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Funny, I didn't see a listing for the 1984 STS-41G incident where the Soviets shot the orbiter with a Terra-3 death ray laser turned down low onto stun. I guess a little temporary blinding of the crew, etc. is all water under the bridge now that we are partners with Russia on the ISS.

cspg
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posted 04-12-2009 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Putting external heat shield issues in the same grouping as the '97 fire aboard Mir doesn't seem right.
You're quite right as to your first point, meaning that "Fire & Combustion" (much like what happened on Mir) are issues which took place during orbital flight and not related to TPS issues.

As for the second point, isn't there a period of time regarding classified shuttle missions during which information cannot be revealed? End of shuttle program? Number of years (much like the National Archives)? Are astronauts bound by a contract not to reveal information?

cspg
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posted 04-12-2009 11:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John Charles:
Here is what I have, from a 2002 briefing
Thanks, those fit more the "Fire & Combustion" category.

SpaceAholic
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posted 04-16-2009 05:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a good supplemental briefing of the charts contents presented by Dr. Clark (Baylor College of Medicine): Having a Bad Day in Space.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-24-2010 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Courtesy Bill Wood, manager of the Flight Safety and Integration Office, here is the most recent version of the chart.

Click to enlarge (5.6 mb poster-size graphic).

hlbjr
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posted 06-25-2010 06:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aztecdoug:
Funny, I didn't see a listing for the 1984 STS-41G incident where the Soviets shot the orbiter with a Terra-3 death ray laser turned down low onto stun.
Holy cow! I thought you were joking. I found this link to a pretty scary story. What physical symptoms did the shuttle crew suffer?

KSCartist
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posted 06-25-2010 07:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Didn't Tom Clancy use this story as the basis of his book: "The Cardinal of the Kremlin"?

MrSpace86
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posted 06-25-2010 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought STS-95 had 7 crewmembers, not 6. Is the chart wrong?

mjanovec
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posted 06-25-2010 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also, the date of the Soyuz 11 disaster was June 1971, not June 1969.

moorouge
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posted 06-25-2010 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
Didn't Tom Clancy use this story as the basis of his book: "The Cardinal of the Kremlin"?
I think that Dale Brown's "Silver Tower" uses a space laser as the basis for his book.

Why no information on the Challenger incident? I believe I read somewhere that the Bush administration classified any information about this as it impinged on US activity in this area. This, of course, is assuming that the incident actually took place and, if it did, that it was no more lethal than a tracking mechanism.

parg1
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posted 06-25-2010 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for parg1   Click Here to Email parg1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting to see SR-71 included in the chart as sub-orbital?

moorouge
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posted 06-26-2010 03:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A most impressive chart. However, unless my aged eyes have missed them, there are some glaring omissions from the Mercury flights. I could only find two - the fuel depletion on MA-7 and the premature hatch blowing on MR-4. Missing are -
    LAUNCH -

  • MA-7 - an abort switch activated four minutes into flight showing a drop in hydraulic pressure in the sustainer engine.
  • MA-8 - a launch anomaly (can't remember exactly what as I write this)

    IN ORBIT -

  • MA-6 - failure of segment 51 indicating heat shield was detached; early RCS fuel depletion.
  • MA-7 - failure of horizon sensor; failure of automatic retro-fire sequence.
  • MA-9 - failure of automatic system requiring pilot to fly a manual re-entry.

jasonelam
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posted 06-26-2010 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jasonelam   Click Here to Email jasonelam     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by moorouge:
MA-8 - a launch anomaly (can't remember exactly what as I write this)
MA-8 went into an unexpected clockwise roll 10 seconds into flight caused by a misalignment of the engines. Came within 20% of the abort limit.

328KF
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posted 06-27-2010 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found an interesting explanation of STS-37 landing short at EDW by the entry training supervisor at the time.

moorouge
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posted 07-01-2010 05:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
Also, the date of the Soyuz 11 disaster was June 1971, not June 1969.
There is another over simplification with this entry.

The pyrotechnic bolts did not fail, though they did trigger a sequence of events that led to the loss of the crew.

As the explosive bolts fired to release the two sections an exhaust valve was shaken open. Escaping air disturbed the orientation of the spacecraft causing the automatic controls to fire the attitude thrusters to contain the movement. It was this automatic reaction that is thought to have confused the crew and delayed their response to the open valve. By the time the problem was recognised it was too late, though there is evidence to suggest that attempts were made to reseal the cabin.
Ground tests indicated that 27 seconds were required to close the valve, but within 10 seconds there was not enough air to support life and 45 seconds after the valve opened the cabin was completely exhausted of air.

Whether the crew would have survived if spacesuits had been worn is conjecture. It is worth noting that the Apollo life support system was capable of sustaining a breathable atmosphere for about 15 minutes with a half inch hole in the structure.

SpaceAholic
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posted 07-02-2010 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another event to add to the NASA Human Space Flight close calls chart...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-02-2010 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Another event to add...
Perhaps not: Russian flight controllers did not lose contact with the Progress and per NASA, the crew was never in any danger.

SpaceAholic
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posted 07-02-2010 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The reporting I have seen reflect loss of telemetry lock... equivalent to loss of contact/positive control on approach.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-02-2010 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And that reporting is accurate however, while the Progress lost contact with the station, it was always in contact with the ground (which is how we had the live views from aboard Progress throughout).

LM-12
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posted 03-16-2014 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are two detailed NASA charts that may be of interest. The first is Significant Incidents and Close Calls in Human Spaceflight and the second is Significant Incidents in EVA Operations.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

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