Re: Cabin Depressurization

Date:         10 Feb 2000 05:03:26 
From:         Tim Long <tlong@vcnet.com>
Organization: VCNet - Internet Access of Ventura Country (vcnet.com)
References:   1 2 3
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Hugo 'NOx' Tyson wrote:
> Mary Shafer <shafer@rigel.dfrc.nasa.gov> writes:
> > However, there are two important caveats to make.  The first is that
> > the absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.  The second is that
> > complex accidents (say, for example, where the aircraft broke up in
> > flight and fell to the ground) are excluded; the O2 may have kept
> > someone alive long enough to die from the ground impact, for example,
> > but there's no evidence of this.
>
> I know this is crossing over into space and urban legend, probably, but
> wasn't there evidence of exactly that in the space shuttle explosion?
> It's not the same as an airliner O2 system, I know.

This is not urban legend. Aviation Week and Space Technology published
an article after the crew compartment had been recovered and studied.

Based upon the video and radar data, NASA calculated the G forces the
crew had likely experienced during the explosion. Their conclusion was
that the forces were not enough to have killed or even seriously injured
the crew. In the recovered cabin section of the shuttle, a few of the
emergency oxygen bottles that are apparently stored by the cockpit seats
were in the 'on' position, which would have only  occurred if at least
one member of the crew were conscious after the explosion. Because of
the damage to crew cabin upon impact with the water, NASA was unable to
determine whether pressurization was lost during the explosion or not
(likely, though). If pressurization had been lost, the crew would have
lost consciousness within about 15 seconds, even with the oxygen (not
enough pressure in the vicinity of 50-60 thousand feet). If
pressurization was not lost, the crew could have been conscious all the
way down to the water.