''21 His plastic-covered, inflatable metal-foil sphere was about as close to a lead balloon as any professional engineer would ever want to get. In 1952, Pierce began to develop his own ideas for a communications satellite system but, fearing the ridicule of his colleagues, decided to publish his ideas under a pseudonym. A current overhaul of Discovery has turned up an additional 2,438 wiring problems, documents show. GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Oct. 7. A NASA spokesman also said the company had indicated that "it will take a great deal of time" to respond. Then, after orbiting in the vacuum of space, it endures temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees on its way to landing on Earth. The company's technicians were having a terrible time: not only were they unable to fit the balloon into its canister, they couldn't even squeeze it into a small room. PYROTECHNIC DEBRIS "64 To remove all residual air from future deployments, the engineers made over 300 little holes in the balloon to allow the air to escape after the balloon was folded. NASA has been unable to prevent episodes of highly explosive hydrogen gas -- which leaks from the external tank, shuttle and ground systems -- accumulating beneath the shuttle as it sits on the launchpad. Kapton, prone to damage and susceptible to arcing, has been mostly banned from new U.S. military aircraft after suspected involvement in crashes. For that entire period, the satelloon served as a significant propaganda weapon for the United States. NASA engineers refer to that type of failure as a "stud hang-up"; they think the shuttle can launch safely even if all eight hold-down posts hang up -- as long as all of the nuts ultimately break apart. In the late 1990s, NASA decided it wanted units that could run on batteries to cut to 5 percent the risk of disaster because of power-unit failure. Thus, the Echo balloon served primarily as a demonstration model, showing how a simple passive comsat might work. What NACA headquarters now wanted to know, Crowley said, was whether Langley was interested in constructing a larger 100-foot inflatable sphere, on a tight schedule, to be used as an orbital relay satellite like that envisioned by Pierce.49, O'Sullivan assured Crowley a few days later that his Space Vehicle Group was "not only interested but enthusiastic about the possibility of placing such a satellite in orbit, and that the schedule could be met." On 25 February 1963, NASA announced that it was canceling its plans for any advanced passive communications satellites beyond Echo 2 and cutting off funding for several feasibility study contracts aimed at determining the best shape, structure, and materials of future communications balloons in space. In an ironic twist of fate, given the history that was to follow, the Echo balloon actually changed this thinking about the potential of a communications system in space. Then the two solid rocket boosters fire -- and explosive charges simultaneously fragment the nuts atop the hold-down posts, allowing the shuttle to rise off the launchpad. In just a few decades, Arthur Clarke's idea for a global communications system (for which the British radio journal paid him the equivalent of a measly $40) exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry, leading Clarke to pen a facetious little article, "A Short Pre History of Comsats, Or: How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time. (NASA simply launched the satellites and was reimbursed for its costs.) A global communications network based on a series of geosynchronous satellites like those suggested by Pierce and Clarke interested O'Sullivan, but [164] in January 1956, as a member of the Upper Atmosphere Rocket Research Panel, his sights were set on a much more limited and immediate goal, the upcoming IGY. "Some people still involved in the program confided to me that they have been awakened in the night with nightmarish pictures of the vehicle cartwheeling off the pad," said Bill Heink, who retired in 2000 as site director of The Boeing Co. shuttle operations at Kennedy Space Center. The big and brilliant sphere had a 31,416-square foot surface of Mylar plastic covered smoothly with a mere 4 pounds of vapor-deposited aluminum. A lot of times coursework can be pretty formulaic, and you're learning how to solve one type of problem so that you can solve a similar problem. "62 Thereafter, NASA headquarters also announced the Shotput tests well ahead of time, so that everyone on the East Coast could watch and enjoy them. All the flights so far had shown that the uncompromising demands of space could be overcome with determination and ingenuity. One problem remained: the means of tracking the satellite. Now it was time for the first step, formally known as AS-204 and only casually as Apollo 1 ā€” not to be a particularly sexy mission, just a suborbital test of the new command module that would be home for the trio of astronauts during the long trip to the moon and back. When the red dye appeared in the sky, it was clear that the de Spin failure had caused the balloon to tear while inflating. ā€œIā€™m not saying anything bad about Gene, or about coaches at halftime. So frustrated was Grissom about the inability of the simulator to keep up with the changing capsule that he grabbed a lemon from a tree in his backyard and hung it over the training equipment.

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