Broadcast 2753 Rowland White

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Guest: Rowland White;  Topics:  We discussed Mr. White's new book about STS-1 and the Columbia space shuttle.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See   

We welcomed Rowland White to the program to discuss his new book, "Into The Black: The Extraordinary Untold Story of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the Astronauts Who Flew Her."  During our 61 minute one segment program, Mr. White took us from his interest in space and the shuttle from a very early age given he was born in 1970 to the incredible events surrounding the first shuttle flight which was a manned test flight to orbit.  Remember, the shuttle had not been extensively test flown as would likely be the case today for a new spacecraft.  We actually talked about that and controlled risks, plus the fact that a crew today would do it but the policy makers and organizations would not allow it.

The big problem faced by Columbia was that of missing thermal tiles.  To find out if tiles were missing on the underside of Columbia that could prevent it from returning, they relied on top secret access to the highly classified NRO and KEYHOLE spy satellite to image the bottom side of Columbia.  Rowland talked about the narrow viewing windows for doing this and how challenging it was to put Columbia in the right position for the photos given the satellites were in a polar orbit and Columbia was in an equatorial orbit.  His book tells this story in detail but don't miss what our guest said about this.

We talked about other shuttle issues including a flight data recorder problem and hot plasma gasses getting into the wheel well.  Listeners asked many questions including one by Arnold asking why they got photos on STS-1 but not on the final Columbia flight for a similar problem.  Don't miss what our guest said in response to Arnold's question.

Other topics came up such as why the shuttle did not fly remotely as did Buran.  Also, were all shuttles built the same with identical specs.  Another listener wanted to know the advantages and disadvantages of a capsule compared to a winged craft.  Again, don't miss what our guest said in response to all of these questions. 

As we were nearing the end of the program, he was asked about shuttle operational costs.  In response, he used the term "extraordinary arithmetic."  Rowland was asked about general public interest in the topic in both the UK and the U.S.  He then talked about the British human spaceflight program and British astronauts.

Please post your comments/questions in the comments section for this archived show on The Space Show website.  You can email Rowland White through me.




"into The Black" This is the story of the shuttle's first flight!

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08 Aug 2016 Rowland White
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