[FPSPACE] on Virgin Galactic
kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Wed Nov 5 05:18:13 EST 2014
If, repeat IF, it was the case that the feathering system was the problem, I imagine that safety engineers could pose questions such as:
If the physical force caused by the feathering system increases above the level which threatens the spacecraft's structural integrity, is there an automatic device or programme which may reverse the deployment of the feathering system?
Of course, hindsight is easier than foresight. I point no fingers, no witch-hunt. High emotions cannot substitute for waiting until the technical investigation is complete. The first facts & claims to emerge in any aerospace or sub tragedy are often not the final facts or claims to be proven.
>>> On 2014/11/05 at 11:33 AM, in message <6BF2FAC2AA624793B303C6F4DAF6E5EB at SVEMPAZDator>, "Sven Grahn" <svengrahn at bahnhof.se> wrote:
Very thoughtful, Keith. I would just like to add an observation about the present debate. Some commentators say that Virdin G and Scaled have a cavalier attitude toward safety. I have met Virgin managers and engineers over a period of nine years and my imporession is the opposite. I have gone to dinner parties where VG employees started quarreling at the dinner table over safety issues! Of course, awareness of the importance of safety and the ability to do something about it are two different things. My comment only refers to the attitude of the people I have met
Interestingly, at the Wired NEXTFEST 2006 in NYC where the cabin layout of SS2 was revealed I was approached by the husband of one of the persons that had signed up to fly. He wondered if I felt that the feathering system is safe. He was worried about the safety of his wife and clearly had identifed the very novel feature of SS2. I wonder how feels today?
From: Keith Gottschalk ( mailto:kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za )
Sent: den 5 November 2014 09:06
To: Friends & Partners FPSPACE ( mailto:fpspace at friends-partners.org )
Subject: [FPSPACE] on Virgin Galactic
I too support the request that the co-pilot's name should be added to the Roll of Honour of fallen astronauts.
Was the cause of the tragedy:
1) engine failure?
2) structural integrity failure?
3) pilot or co-pilot error?
4) If it was co-pilot error, are the controls ergonometrically optimal to minimize the chance of such disasters repeating?
5) The same query about flight operational protocols?
This forum is the obvious one for debate about the tragedy. My own response is not yet to get too heated about arguing the precise cause. There is no substitute for waiting until the Accident Board's final technical report is published, & then reading that cover to cover, twice.
We can anticipate that further failures will occur during R&D testing programmes of the rival sub-orbital spaceplanes. What we can say at this moment is that it is difficult to predict which of Virgin Galactic, Xcor, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, etc, will be the first to actually launch paying passengers on scheduled flights. Or even SpaceX using Dragon capsule to send thrill-seekers on a sub-orbital or orbital trip.
But we can be confident that one of them, sooner or later, will succeed, just as some of the batch of the first airlines in the world succeeded during the 1920s.
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