I've heard reports that some of the Challanger crew may have survived until the 300MPH splash-down of the crew cabin - alot of time to reflect on one's life - about 15 minutes.
Don't know about the Columbia crew - probably a matter of minutes before the oxygen was gone and the heat was too severe to survive.
Has anybody else heard any reports/recordings?
I've read the accident report, without getting too technical about what happened about the time the relized they might have a problem they were dead. It was quick and painless more or less so that should be some comfort to their family and friends.
Thats pretty much what I'd read as well
Given the dynamic forces involved in both breakups, the chances are that everyone lost consciousness in moments.
Challenger didn't have any warning at all before the breakup.
Columbia they may have had a few seconds (at most) between the time the flight control system maxed out trying to compensate for the wing failure and the subsequent breakup. One of those classic "Oh, shit!" moments that many that sit in the pointy end of air (and aerospace) craft have had since Kitty Hawk.
I read a report on the Challenger that said the pilot was killed instantly but some of the others survived long enough to manually turn on their air packs.
We won't know for sure because the goddamn full report is classified!
I was listening to Imus one day after the Columbia accident and his guest was a former NASA official ( I forget his name). The person said that the people in the Challenger were alive until they hit the water. I distinctly remember that he said one women reached up and turned the pilots oxygen on and that he said the pilot "flew" what was left all the way down. From what I understand he learned this through a tape recording of cockpit conversations that has not been released to the public.
The alleged secret transcript: This is what a google search yielded
THE SECRET TRANSCRIPT!
Editors Note: This was snagged from a employee at NASA/JPL a few months after the crash and stored away. Scary stuff... we should get a damn news award for this!
A NASA tape reveals that the crew of the shuttle Challenger not only survived the explosion that ripped the vessel apart; they screamed, cried cursed and prayed for three minutes before they slammed into the Atlantic and perished on January 28, 1986.
The tape began with a startled crewman screaming,"What happened? What happened? Oh God - No!" Screams and curses are heard- several crewmen begin to weep- and then others bid their families farewell.
Two minutes forty-five seconds later the tape ends. That's when the shuttles crew compartment, which remained intact after the vessel exploded over the Atlantic, hit the ocean at over 2,000 miles per hour (edited to add: that is damn near mach 3, way over the terminal velocity of a doomed shuttle) instantly killing the crew.
"Cover up? Of course there was a cover-up," declared Robert Hotz, a member of the Presidential commission that investigated the disaster. " NASA can't face the fact that they put these astronauts in a situation where they didn't have adequate equipment to survive. NASA doesn't give a damn about anything but covering it's ass, " he said.
The official account released by NASA ends with shuttle pilot Michael Smith saying, "Uh-oh!" Some NASA employees have evidently heard more-m[uuch more. And they provided the rest of this account based on what they've discussed within NASA in the last five years. The astronauts had time and realized something was happening after the shuttle broke up.
"All shuttle astronauts carry personal recorders and the tape in question apparently came from Christa's (McAuliffe), which was recovered after the shuttle disaster, " said Hotz. Jarvis was sitting beside her, and when he figured out what was happening he said, " Give me your hand. "
NASA insists there's nothing like that on tape, but they're talking about the mission tape - not Christa's. So they're not lying, but they're not telling the truth, either.
A journalist with close ties to NASA was even more emphatic, "There are persistent rumors, dating back to the disaster, that this tape is absolutely bone-chilling."
The following transcript begins two seconds after NASA's official version ends, with pilot Michael Smith saying, "Uh-oh!" Times from the moment of takeoff are shown in minutes and seconds and are approximate. The sex of the speaker is indicated by M or F. Loud noise of wind coming from the exterior makes much of what is heard unintelligible.
T+1:15 (M) What happened? What happened? Oh God, no - no!
T+1:17 (F) Oh dear God.
T+1:18 (M) Turn on your air pack. Turn on your air...
T+1:20 (M) Can't breathe... choking...
T+1:21 (M) Lift up your visor!
T+1:22 (F) ...hot. (Sobs.) I can't. Don't tell me... (M) God! Do it...
T+1:24 (M) I told them... I told them... Dammit! Resnik don't...
T+1:27 (M) Take it easy! Move (unintelligible)...
T+1:28 (F) (unintelligible) ...die like this. Not now. Not here...
T+1:31 (M) Your arm... no... I (extended garble, static)
T+1:36 (F) I'm... passing... out.....
T+1:37 (M) (unintelligible) ...not dead yet.
T+1:40 (M) If you ever wanted... (unintelligible) ...me a miracle...
T+1:41 (M) She's... she's... (garble) ... damn!
T+1:50 (M) Can't breathe...
T+1:51 (M/F) Jesus Christ! No!
T+1:54 (M) She's out.
T+1:55 (M) Lucky... (unintelligible).
T+1:56 (M) God. The water... we're dead! (screams)
T+2:00 (F) Goodbye (sobs)... (unintelligible)..
T+2:03 (M) Loosen up... loosen up...
T+2:07 (M) It'll just be like a ditch landing...
T+2:09 (M) That's right, think positive.
T+2:11 (M) Ditch procedure...
T+2:14 (M) No way!
T+2:17 (M) Give me your hand...
T+2:19 (M) You awake in there? I... I...
T+2:29 (M) Our Father... (unintelligible)...
T+2:42 (M) ...hallowed be Thy name... (unintelligible).
T+2:57 (M) You...over there?
T+2:58 (M) The Lord is my shepherd, I shall... not want. He maketh me to lie down...
in green pastures... though I walk through the valley... (unintelligible) shadow of death,
(unintelligible)... I will dwell in the house...
This is the alleged transcript on what happened before:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Editorial Note: This is a transcript of the Challenger operational recorder voice tape. It reveals the comments of Commander Francis R.Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialist 1 Ellison S. Onizuka, and Mission Specialist 2 Judith A. Resnik for the period of T-2:05 prior to launch through approximately T+73 seconds when loss of all data occurred. The operational recorder was automatically activated at T-2:05 and normally runs throughout the mission. During the period of the prelaunch and the launch phase covered by the voice tape, Mission Specialist 3 Ronald E. McNair, Payload Specialist 1 S. Christa McAuliffe, and Payload Specialist 2 Gregory B. Jarvis were seated in the middeck and could monitor all voice activity but did not make any voice reports or comments. This transcript was released following the accident on January 28, 1986. A copy of the document is also available in the NASA Historical Reference Collection, History Office, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE CHALLENGER CREW COMMENTS FROM THE OPERATIONAL RECORDER
(The references to "NASA" indicate explanatory references NASA provided to the Presidential Commission.)
Time Crew Crew
T-2:05............MS 2..... Would you give that back to me?
T-2:03............MS 2..... Security blanket.
T-2:02............MS 2..... Hmm.
T-1:58............CDR..... Two minutes downstairs; you gotta watch running down there?
(NASA: Two minutes till launch.)
T-1:47............PLT..... OK there goes the lox arm.
(NASA: Liquid oxygen supply arm to ET.)
T-1:46............CDR..... Goes the beanie cap.
(NASA: Liquid oxygen vent cap.)
T-1:44............MS 1..... Doesn't it go the other way?
T-1:39............MS 1..... Now I see it; I see it.
T-1:39............PLT..... God I hope not Ellison.
T-1:38............MS 1..... I couldn't see it moving; it was behind the center screen.
(NASA: Obstructed view of liquid oxygen supply arm.)
T-1:33. .........MS 2..... Got your harnesses locked?
(NASA: Seat restraints.)
T-1:29............PLT..... What for?
T-1:28............CDR..... I won't lock mine; I might have to reach something.
T-1:24............PLT..... Ooh kaaaay.
T-1:04............MS 1..... Dick's thinking of somebody there.
T-59..............CDR..... One minute downstairs.
(NASA: One minute till launch.)
T-52..............MS 2..... Cabin Pressure is probably going to give us an alarm.
(NASA: Caution and warning alarm. Routine occurrence during prelaunch).
T-47..............CDR..... OK there.
T-43..............PLT..... Alarm looks good.
(NASA: Cabin pressure is acceptable.)
T-40..............PLT..... Ullage pressures are up.
(NASA: External tank ullage pressure.)
T-34..............PLT..... Right engine helium tank is just a little bit low.
(NASA: SSME supply helium pressure.)
T-32..............CDR..... It was yesterday, too.
T-30..............CDR..... Thirty seconds down there.
(NASA: 30 seconds till launch.)
T-25............PLT..... Remember the red button when you make a roll call.
(NASA: Precautionary reminder for communications configuration.)
T-23............CDR..... I won't do that; thanks a lot.
(NASA: 15 seconds till launch.)
T-6...............CDR..... There they go guys.
(NASA: SSME Ignition.)
MS 2..... All right.
CDR..... Three at a hundred.
(NASA: SSME thrust level at 100% for all 3 engines.)
T+O...............MS 2..... Aaall riiight.
T+1...............PLT..... Here we go.
(NASA: Vehicle motion.)
T+7...............CDR.............Houston, Challenger roll program.
(NASA: Initiation of vehicle roll program.)
T+11..............PLT..... Go you Mother.
T+14..............MS 1..... LVLH.
(NASA: Reminder for cockpit switch configuration change. Local vertical/local horizontal).
T+15..............MS 2..... (Expletive) hot.
T+19..............PLT..... Looks like we've got a lotta wind here today.
T+22..............CDR..... It's a little hard to see out my window here.
T+28..............PLT..... There's ten thousand feet and Mach point five.
(NASA: Altitude and velocity report.)
T+35..............CDR..... Point nine.
(NASA: Velocity report, 0.9 Mach).
T+40..............PLT..... There's Mach one.
(NASA: Velocity report, 1.0 Mach).
T+41..............CDR..... Going through nineteen thousand.
(NASA: Altitude report, 19,000 ft.)
T+43..............CDR..... OK we're throttling down.
(NASA: Normal SSME thrust reduction during maximum dynamic pressure region.)
T+57..............CDR..... Throttling up.
(NASA: Throttle up to 104% after maximum dynamic pressure.)
T+58..............PLT..... Throttle up.
T+60..............PLT..... Feel that mother go.
T+1:02............PLT..... Thirty-five thousand going through one point five
(NASA: Altitude and velocity report, 35,000 ft., 1.5 Mach).
T+1:05............CDR..... Reading four eighty six on mine.
(NASA: Routine airspeed indicator check.)
T+1:07............PLT..... Yep, that's what I've got, too.
T+1:10............CDR..... Roger, go at throttle up.
(NASA: SSME at 104 percent.)
T+1:13.......................LOSS OF ALL DATA.
I question the credibility of the first transcipt. The account suggested that the crew crashed into the ocean at 2000mph. That is well over the terminal velocity of a doomed, spiraling hunk of metal. Also, The whole "I'm passing out" just doesn't seem right. If someone is "passing out" they usually are unable to verbalize it. Also, if the second transcipt is accurate, this all occurs over 40,000 ft. There isn't enough O2 up there to be able to breath, let alone talk. The last known altitude is 35,000 at +1:02. Then they have the "uhoh" a minute later. They would still be climbing after that and would still continue to climb after the explosion. There is no way that if there were a breach in the cabin these people would be able to survive for more than a few moments. My guess is that both the crew of the Columbia and Challenger were dead within seconds of the breakups.
Although I usually like a good conspiracy theory, this one just turns my stomach. May they rest in peace.
I'll never forget that cool January morning as I watched from my office window.....
I will never forget Reagan cancelling the State of the Union Address and instead he addressed a grieving nation. Here is what he said:
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we've never lost an astronaut in flight; we've never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we've forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle; but they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, "Give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy." They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us.
We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We've grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
And I want to say something to the school children of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.
I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.
I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: "Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it."
There's a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, "He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it." Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.
The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."
I sure miss that man
While I'm not a total Tin Foil type I'd like to know why the complete records of Challenger aren't available. If the crew died shortly after breakup (or were out before impact) then I can't see anything that should be classified.
The Tin-Foil side of me thinks that the ONLY reason they would keep parts of the report classified is because of something like Sewer_Urchin posted. As pointed out some of it doesn't add up (like the impact velocity). Also keep in mind that they didn't wear pressure suits but did have helmets with O2 systems. They couldn't have survived at that altitude for long but since the crew compartment was in free fall they would have been back down low enough for the supplemental O2 to keep them going.
The fly in the ointment is how much force did the compartment take when the ET exploded. That was one hell of a blast and they were sitting right under it. The fact that crew compartment survived fairly intact is not an indicator that the crew would have survived. That structure holds sea level atmospheric pressure in hard vacuum.
Again, not a real big fan of conspiracies but....
Living on the Space Coast is kind of weird when things like this happen. I saw the shuttle launch before the Columbia, and i've seen plenty of the rockets go up. I've seen some shuttles return (heard them as well - distinct double sonic boom). It sucked bad, i hope the shuttle program returns to flight status within the next couple of years though. No matter how many times you see it, it's never the same.
Challenger did not hit the water at 2000mph. After the explosion, the crew compartment and other pieces of debris continued to climb on a ballistic path until the effects of gravity and friction began their fall to earth. The crew compartment then began its fall to the sea at the standard speed of any object in normal Earth's atmosphere, less the effects of drag: 32fps/ps until terminal velocity. Also...V = sqrt ( (2 * W) / (Cd * r * A) ). Bottom line...about 200kph...plenty enough to kill them all instantly.
The compartment hit the water largely intact and some of the crew were still alive. They were using their emergency breathing devices when they hit the water.
My source was a former shipmate of mine who served in the Navy rescue ship that located and recovered the remains.
My guess is that NASA and the government won't release the info because of the incredible bad press it would bring. Wouldn't bring them back anyway...and we already know that NASA management really screwed the pooch on that (and the Columbia disaster as well) launch. This sort of mishap is totally predictable whenever cost and schedule becomy more important than safety.
My guess would be that its classified due to the way they brought down the remaining rocket booster. NASA probably feels to detail that would detail some of the other activities that go on at the Cape.
Cape C, not just for space shuttle activities anymore.
I once took a weeklong statistics course with a professor who was on the investigation board for Challenger.
He told us that yes, the astronauts were alive when they hit the ocean, but no, they were not conscious.
The guy was a jerk and a lousy teacher, so feel free to take what he said with due caution...
I have no idea about the technical aspects of that disaster. But I sure do remember it vividly since it happened on my 9th birthday. I was home from school sick that day with a cold. But I was watching the coverage anyway when all of this took place. I just sit there stunned. I suppose this was one of the first national tragedies I had witnessed in my life to that point. The image of those smoke plumes and debris trails was burned into brain forever and I can see them in my head right now just as if I was watching it on tv. All I could think of then and still today was God bless those poor souls. Let them go quickly. I like to think that they did.
The first part of that "transcript" is obviously hokey and contrived. Sounds like it was written for a bad soap opera.
I do imagine reciting the entire Psalms 23 while the remains of your craft is falling out of the sky on fire is a bit much to believe, considering the stress and sheer overwhelming amount of things going on around them. If you were injured and lying on the ground slowly bleeding out, after the event had took place, I could perhaps imagine someone doing that. But not under the circumstances of the space shuttle Challenger explosion.
I guess since whatever they have is classified, we'll never know either way. But being that is the case, it just invites conspiracy theories and wild stories.
I will say this much. If the above referenced quotes from the crew were real, I would hope it would remain classified. There is nothing among that which I could view as helpful to the investigation or nothing to learn from it. All it is (again, if true) are the final moments of those people's lives. If that had been me up there, I would not have wanted my family to have to listen to my final moments caught on tape like that. I would imagine those people would feel the same way. Again, it offers nothing but the fear and horror of the moment. Therefore all it could possibly do is bring even more pain and misery to the families.
But I still say 90% of that is pure BS. I still say that even if they were still alive upon impact, there's no way they were conscious.
The bottom line is that NASA designed no means for escape or rescue once that thing is off the pad.
They didn't learn after Challenger and probably won't after Columbia.
It's called an escape pod.
Yep..... I'll sleep better once NASA scraps the shuttle program.
I can't imagine too many ways of escaping something like that. An ejection from a fighter jet going 400 knots is risky enough. Trying to punch out of an exploding shuttle is about 10,000x more complicated. In other words, some things just aren't survivable. When you strap your ass to the nose of thousands of pounds of fuel and blast into space at thousands of MPH, if something happens, the results are catastrophic. Even if a an escape pod had been in use, I'm not sure it would have mattered. Even if the pod survived intact, the tremendous forces and energy involved would still likely make suriving such a catastrophic failure unlikely.
Why? So more people can get killed. The future of space is NOT with NASA.
To the Aerospace techies out there, would it be possible to switch the shuttle over to automated operation? At least for the space station resupply missions? From what I've read, huge portions of the flight are handled entirely by computer and it wouldn't be a great leap to automate the whole thing.
Even if it doesn't prove 100% reliable, it gets more value out of the shuttle program as a test bed for UAV technology than simply retiring them without flying them again.
IMO, unmanned space flight is the way to go, at least for the immediate future. Finish the space station because we're committed to it, but give manned space travel back to the military and the private sector.
The crew of the Challenger, at least some of them, were probably alive, but unconscious. The Crew module was basically intact, although heavily damaged on impact, and according to some folks I know at Nasa, who would definitley be in a position to know, several of the bodies were found still strapped into what was left of their seats. With the impact, it is impossible to determine if the crew module decompressed or not. If it did decompress, then the astronauts would've been conscious only for 6 to 5 seconds at best. The fact that three manuallly activated emergency air packs had been turned on, and others hadn't, probably demonstrated that realization and Loss of consciousness were occurring almost at the same time, due to decompression. If it had remained at pressure, then it is possible that some of the crew *could* have been aware and awake during the descent.
Columbia was going WAY too fast for the crew, at least those on the flight deck, to do much more than realize something wrong a few seconds before G forces rendered them at best unconscious and more than likely dead within seconds of control departure and breakup. More likely that those on the Middeck never knew they were dead.
I prefer to think that both brave crews were spared the knowledge that they were going to die, and for all the naysayers, manned spaceflight is absolutely necessary if we wish to continue to have a presence there, and the technology spinoffs that you use every day are too numerous to mention. I'm typing this message on one...a powerful computer that isn't as big as a fucking house.
As for the Shuttle, I'd ride the fucker tomorrow.
The boosters are destroyed by a radio signal on command of the Range Safety Officer that detonates explosives incorporated into them for just such an emergency, in order that they do not fly into and land on a populated area.
Range Safety blew them, per protocol, once it became apparent that there had been a failure and they were no longer a guidance system controlling them. No secret there.
Signal source and origin. i.e. antenna, ground station, possibility of exposing other functions at said ground station.
Sure. The Russians flew their Buran shuttle on auto, once. They dock their Soyuz and Progress capsules on auto- albeit with manual override, which came in handy a few days ago while docking with the ISS.
Would a automated shuttle in the re-supply role be cost effective? Probably not.
I was in 3rd grade and watched it unfold on TV. Having a V on durring school/class was RARE in those days, but we watched it all. I can still picture Mrs. Garber getting upset and turning off the TV a few minutes later and then not knowing exactly what to say to us.
+3. Sign me up!
from what I have read, it's pretty well established that the crew did survive the initial explosion and were conscious for enough time to manually activate the air packs. Most people seem to think that the probably lost consciousness pretty soon after that.
I remember reading that family members were allowed to hear tapes - suggesting that there was at least some dialogue following the explosion.
The report could be classified because of methods used to track/locate the wreckage in both instances. Some of the sensors they used, or the fidelity of the data they provide, may not be suitable for publication.
Challenger? Hopefully they went quickly. Columbia? Only the CDR and PLT ever had a clue and when the time came it was instant. I have dedicated 15 years of my life to the space shuttle program. I am so sick of the anti-shuttle fuckheads that dont have a clue. You people have no idea how much dedication, heart and soul go into every aspect of the program. Yes, it is time for the shuttle to retire. Too bad the sheep will only remember the failures.
As a sheep, I can say that I remember the successes and mourn the failures. I can't empathize with you having never launched a living soul into space but I'd guess that every time an astronaut dies, a little piece of every person associated with the program dies too.
I'm not associated with the space program but I really appreciate it, and honor the tremendous sacrifices of everyone involved.
All of the reports I read suggested that some of the crew survived the breakup possibly until they hit the ocean.
That transcript is 100% bullshit. No talk about getting emergency O2 on? How would that have been radioed when all other telemtry and radio contact was lost or was this a secret black box recording.
Working out of Huntsville, huh?