==== R.I.P. ====
Rick D. Husband, Commander
William C. McCool, Pilot
David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1
Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2
Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander
Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist 4
Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist 1
I've already commented about the colossal error made by Mike Bara, who asserted mistakenly that it was the decision to use "green" insulation that was the death sentence of the above seven heroes.
Ten years ago today, Richard C. Hoagland made a bad situation worse by comprehensively misinforming the audience of Coast to Coast AM about the Columbia tragedy. This was well before the true cause was known, and his "angle" was that the likely cause was sabotage. "Somebody," he said, had interfered with the thermal protection system. He told the following lies:
All the thermal tiles are replaced between Shuttle flights
Nonsense. Some tens, or at most hundreds, of tiles are replaced.
The tile replacement is done by low-paid workers any one of whom could “easily” be a Moslem saboteur.
Nonsense. The grade of these workers was increased in 1999 as a specific result of a review by a safety oversight committee. Background checks are carried out, and, while obviously not infallible, that procedure would make it far from easy for a saboteur to be in a position to cause harm to the Shuttle.
Tile replacers are known to have spat in the bonding compound, weakening it.
That’s impossible — the silicon RTV bonder is not water-soluble.
Responding to a question about the possibility of meteorite damage, Hoagland dismissed it totally, declaring that “the likelihood of a meteorite strike at the exact moment of re-entry is just too remote”.
He doesn’t understand that a meteorite strike at any time during the mission would be capable of causing failure of the thermal protection system.
I was able to save myself some keyboard time in making the above list, since I was quoting myself in a letter to the radio show's executive producer, Lisa Lyon, dated 8th February 2003. I added the following:
I would ask you, therefore, to consider replacing Richard Hoagland with somebody who’s qualified to discuss and report on spaceflight. There is no shortage of articulate space enthusiasts, and it seems a pity to feature somebody like Hoagland who has no standing in the space community whatever. Because of his ignorance, your audience has been seriously misled on important questions.
I got no response from Ms. Lyon. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.