Mike has also made it very clear that he despises homosexuals — or should that be "fears homosexuals"? I'm not going to comment on that, either.
Today, however, Mike strayed into territory that I do feel competent to comment on. Namely, the problem of foam insulation shedding from the Space Shuttle external tank during launch, which led to the loss of Columbia and her crew nearly nine years ago now. Mike Facebooked:
7 astronauts were killed on the Columbia space shuttle because NASA switched to "green" insulating foam on the external fuel tank. The original foam never broke off. It only started after they went to "green" insulating foam and 7 people lost their lives.
It's simply not true
So apparently, scorn for environmental conservation goes along with militarism and homophobia. I can't really explain that — but anyway, there's no doubt that foam-shedding was the cause of the Columbia tragedy. A large piece of the left bipod ramp broke off and smashed a huge hole in the leading edge of the left wing. The bipod ramp is made entirely of foam — this is not a case of simple foam cladding on the outer wall of the tank.
image credit: wikipedia commons
There was indeed a change in the composition of the foam during the history of the Shuttle. The original formula, BX250, included Freon, a gas which has been implicated in ozone depletion. The new formula was Freon-free, and that's presumably what the world-renowned aerospace engineer means by "green". But he evidently hasn't reviewed the history of foam-shedding events to verify that the change was responsible for the disaster. And, in fact, it clearly was not.
STS-7 (Challenger), 18 June 1983 - tank 06, left bipod ramp detached
STS-26 (Discovery), 29 September 1988 - Severe damage from cork insulation on SRB
STS-27 (Atlantis), 2 December 1988 - Severe damage (707 dings)
STS-32R (Columbia), 9 January 1990 - tank 25, left bipod ramp detached
STS-45 (Atlantis), 24 March 1992 - tile damage
STS-50 (Columbia), 25 June 1992 - tank 45, left bipod ramp detached
STS-52 (Columbia), 22 October 1992 - tank 55, left bipod ramp detached
STS-62 (Columbia), 4 March 1994 - tank 62, left bipod ramp detached
STS-71 (Atlantis), 27 June 1995 - tile damage
STS-87 (Columbia), 19 November 1997 - First to use the new foam formula (100 tiles damaged)
STS-107 (Columbia), 1 February 2003 - The disaster
The Columbia Accident Investigating Board reported in 2003 (ch.6)1:
Photographic evidence of foam shedding exists for 65 of the 79 missions for which imagery is available. Of the 34 missions for which there are no imagery, 8 missions where foam loss is not seen in the imagery, and 6 missions where imagery is inconclusive, foam loss can be inferred from the number of divots on the Orbiterʼs lower surfaces.
It flies in the face of all logic to conclude that a change made in 1997 was responsible for at least eight foam-shedding events, five of which were from the bipod ramp, during the years 1983-1995. And as if that were not enough of a rebuttal, consider this: The bipod ramps were exempt from the environmental regulations, and were made of the original BX250 foam.
Contemplating this and other similar embarrassing errors, I'm driven to the idea that Mr. Mike Bara really doesn't treat information the way most of us do. If he gets an idea—such as that "green" foam caused the death of the STS-107 crew—he'll publish it without really checking whether it's true or not. If it's material for a book, maybe he thinks "Oh, an editor will check that out, I don't need to bother." Surely by now he ought to know that the kind of Mickey-Mouse publishing houses he works with don't care about accuracy and don't have editors in the sense that professionals attach to that word.