Scroll down to read this post.

 

I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.

 

There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.

 

You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:

 

1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.

 

2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.
 

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:


5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


Will the wreck of the submersible Titan and the death of its five passengers impact space tourism?

OceanGate's Titan submersible
OceanGate’s Titan submersible

Three articles today all asked the same question as I pose above in the headline, noting the similarity in the business model of the deepsea tourism company OceanGate Expeditions and the burgeoning space tourism business, including both suborbital and orbital flights.

Without question there will be many more such articles in the coming days, as more information is gathered about what caused the failure of the Titan. As these three articles do, all will note the similarities and differences between deep sea tourism and space tourism.

First the differences. Space exploration and rocketry have been around a lot longer and have a lot more experience with disaster, which also means the engineering and the safety regulations for space are far more developed and robust than with deep sea exploration.

Space tourism is also closely linked with the long term goal of building human colonies, something that really doesn’t drive the deep sea tourism. This distinction further encourages space tourism companies to make their systems more robust, as they have much more long term ambitious goals they wish to sell.

As for the similarities, both appeal to the same demographics, wealthy individuals with a hankering to go somewhere challenging and dangerous. Both appeal to the basic American values of personal responsibility, a willingness to explore and take risks, and, most important, a willingness to accept those risks and not allow them to stop you.

All three articles however also unconsciously recognize that America is no longer the free country where individuals were completely free to take such risks. The government now closely monitors and regulates space exploration, and the biggest question all three articles raise involves the government’s reaction to the Titan failure. Will it use that failure as a wedge to increase regulation on space tourism? All three articles think this is very likely, and worry that the new regulations will squelch this new industry that is fueling the coming settlement of the solar system.

The timing of the Titan failure could very well be critical, as it occurred just as federal lawmakers are trying to decide whether to extend the regulatory moratorium created by the 2004 Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act. That law created a period in which private companies could fly risky missions, with less safety regulation, in order to allow them to experiment with this new technology. It recognized that not enough was yet known to allow the government to impose strict safety rules.

Congress has extended that moratorium several times, and is now considering another extension. The coverage of the Titan failure — assuming it follows the negative and fear-driven approach that is now typical of the press — could very well encourage Congress to clamp down, and impose its will on space, in a manner that will stifle the experimentation that is presently allowing this new industry to grow.

All three articles above, as well as my essay here, come from space-focused news outlets, so all argue that the government shouldn’t panic and impose its will. All are also well educated in the details of space tourism and rocketry, and understand that there are clear differences between deep sea tourism and space. What happened to the Titan does not parallel closely the half century of extensive engineering that new rocketry relies on today.

What the mainstream press will do however is another thing entirely. It is generally ignorant, unwilling to learn, and quick to establish narratives based not on information but on emotional partisan politics. The result in the past two decades has routinely been to encourage bad government policy that has been restrictive and damaging. We need only look at the panicked, foolish, and failed response to COVID to see a clear demonstration of this.

The next few weeks will tell the tale. It seems imperative that the space industry immediately begin a full court press on Congress, working to prevent a regulatory steamroller to gain speed, fueled by the sensational and fear-driven coverage of the Titan failure. If it does not, it likely will find itself struggling to breath under the weight of more rules and restrictions, all of which will accomplish nothing but kill the future.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

32 comments

  • On another blog, an anonymous reply while somewhat disjointed made the assertion that the over regulation of SpaceX Boca Chica was part of a bigger plan by the control freaks that are trying to run the world to keep humans from going off planet. Some might say his assertion is a conspiracy theory, however currently many conspiracy theories end up being real plots. Over regulation of commercial space flight could hurt not just SpaceX’s efforts, but any other companies endeavoring to enter the market. This would be advantageous to any person or group wanting to squash all but government controlled human space flight.

  • BillB: There is a very strong kernel of truth in that assertion, only given further strength by almost every action taken by the administrative state and the left in the past few decades.

  • Jeff Wright

    To be fair:
    https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-university-of-washington-deny-helping-design-oceangate-titan-submersible-2023-6

    “NASA did previously consult on the Titan submersible with OceanGate. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center had a Space Act Agreement with OceanGate, Lance D. Davis, acting news chief for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center said in a statement sent to Insider. A Space Act Agreement allows NASA to work with any organizations that “meet wide-ranging NASA missions and program requirements and objectives,” according to information about the policy on NASA’s website.”

    If you recall, there are those who wanted to replace SRB’s steel caisson segments with fiber:
    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/01/the-dark-knights-atks-advanced-booster-revealed-for-sls/

    Outside-in pressures—or inside-out pressures…hmm.

    I wonder if it was the same people.

    Then too, the way the CEO pooh-poohed regulations, I move that the Titan be retro-actively renamed the S. S. Rand Simberg:
    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2435/1

    Elon would probably have put crash test dummies in these things and watched them fail—not do CYA.

  • David Eastman

    Jeff Wright wrote: “Elon would probably have put crash test dummies in these things and watched them fail—not do CYA.”

    As much as I’m a fan of Elon and SpaceX, the failure here bears at least some similarities to how Elon has been working SpaceX. They tried a novel approach to a problem that had not been seriously evaluated, tried it, and it worked, several times. This thing didn’t fail on it’s first trip down. We may never know the exact failure mode, but it’s probable that the carbon fiber hull was good enough for a few runs, but was not a viable approach for repeated use. We know that this was a risk brought up by engineers, and they pointed out that there is no real way to examine the parts and see if they are still good, it will just be “good voyage, good voyage, POP.” And that warning was discounted.

    SpaceX has certainly done similar in the test program. Sometimes they know they are pushing a boundary and the test program is designed to validate it. The orbital launch mount for Superheavy is an excellent example. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that had never been used at anything remotely approaching this scale. The consensus of the SpaceX engineers was that it would be fine. There were some nay sayers that were not ignored, but it was a case of “well, if you’re right, we’ve learned something and better to push on with testing than rebuild something we might not have to.”

    The risk is that something sneaks through into production and flights with people on it. Hopefully you do enough design reviews, evaluations, and tests to catch that, but not so much that you never fly in the first place. OceanGate clearly erred on the side of forging ahead without enough due diligence, there are people that believe SpaceX is doing the same, but most of them are firmly on the side of “Don’t go until you can prove 150% safety, and if that means you never go, oh well.”

  • Gary H

    Which country/political/social system will move forward despite the risk associated with space exploration? For certain, the CCP will push forward … The next decade will not be an easy one.

  • Col Beausabre

    Se4ems to me, that there is a solution that can be borrowed from the FAA. That is the experimental aircraft category

    “A Special Airworhiness Certificate is issued to operate an aircraft that does not have a type certificate or does not conform to its type certificate and is in a condition for safe operation. Additionally, this certificate is issued to operate a primary category kit-built aircraft that was assembled without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder.

    Special airworthiness certificates may be issued in the experimental category for the following purposes:

    Research and development: to conduct aircraft operations as a matter of research or to determine if an idea warrants further development. Typical uses for this certificate include new equipment installations, operating techniques, or new uses for aircraft.

    Showing compliance with regulations: to show compliance to the airworthiness regulations when an applicant has revised the type certificate design data or has applied for a supplemental type certificate or field approval.

    Crew training: for training the applicant’s flight crews in experimental aircraft for subsequent operation of aircraft being flight tested in type certificate programs or for production flight testing.

    Exhibition: to exhibit an aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics for air shows, motion pictures, television, and similar productions, and for the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency.

    Air racing: to operate an aircraft in air races, practice for air races, and to fly to and from racing events.

    Market surveys: to conduct market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training for U.S. manufacturers of aircraft or engines.

    All aircraft is this category must be prominently marked EXPERIMENTAL

    The key point is that while an aircraft in this category can carry passengers, it can not do so for hire. So if you want to make money by having your passengers pay you, it has to be certified and have a Commercial Air Worthiness Certificate, This hits a nice middle ground of not stifling innovation and the public who expect the vehicle carrying them meets reasonable safety standards.

  • Col Beausabre: The experimental aircraft category was exactly what was used for the 2004 Commercial Space Amendments Act, except that it placed a time limit on how long that category could exist. When the moritorium ends, so does that experimental category for spacecraft.

  • Edward

    I have been thinking about this problem for more than a decade and a half. I went to a talk by an XCOR executive and asked him how the industry was preparing for this very problem. His answer was that the industry was trying to prepare the public for that reality so that they would not panic at the first lost passenger tourists.

    So far, every manned spacecraft that took people to space more than a dozen times has killed at least one crew member. At least one of them took more than a dozen flights to do it, such as the Space Shuttle, but it did the killing nonetheless. Apollo, Soyuz, and the X-15 took people to space less than a dozen times and each killed a crew, and Soyuz killed two crews before its dozenth flight. Even SpaceShipTwo killed one of its two crew members (and I don’t know the fate of the other, injured, test pilot).

    I cannot imagine Crew Dragon, Starliner, or the proposed manned Dream Chaser flying large numbers of missions without also killing crew members. We thought we knew better with the Space Shuttle, but we didn’t. We have had very few new spacecraft designs, so we have learned little about what can go wrong, only what to do right with the existing spacecraft: Soyuz and the Chinese variant of Soyuz.

    Robert wrote: “The timing of the Titan failure could very well be critical, as it occurred just as federal lawmakers are trying to decide whether to extend the regulatory moratorium created by the 2004 Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act. That law created a period in which private companies could fly risky missions, with less safety regulation, in order to allow them to experiment with this new technology. It recognized that not enough was yet known to allow the government to impose strict safety rules.

    In 2004, it was thought that Virgin Galactic’s suborbital missions were going to start in 2008 or so, and they may have expected orbital manned spacecraft in the mid 2010s. Instead, both versions have had only about three years and a total of about a dozen operational flights. The data is pretty sparse on how to be safe. After three years of flight, 1907, we certainly couldn’t have had the safety record that we have in the past two decades with airliners. Not enough was known about how to fly an airplane, and flying passengers was rare, back then. Just as a century ago with airplanes, we don’t know enough about flying passengers in space.

    What we are really concerned about is not the safety of the spacecraft but of the safety of the passengers. We have only been taking tourists to space for two decades, and I don’t consider the ones launched on Dragon to be tourists, per se, as they all performed their own experiments as though they were NASA mission specialists. We are concerned that minimally trained passenger/tourists will be relatively safe in space, on the way up, and on the way back. Otherwise, the discussion would not be about tourists but about all of manned spaceflight.

    What keeps the barely trained tourist from throwing the wrong switch or turning the wrong valve handle?

    We should not discount the large numbers of people risking their lives, and sometimes dying, climbing Mount Everest. That seems to be OK, but space travel and undersea tourism should be risk free? We can even be killed driving to the grocery store, so life is not as safe as we want to think it is. Going on adventures, such as back packing is dangerous, but how much government regulation do we have for that activity? Actor Julian Sands was lost on Mount Baldy, last January, and they have just resumed the search for him. Should his hiking trip been regulated? Heck, we know how to hike safely, yet we still lose people every year — but we still have questions about spaceflight. How can we regulate what we don’t know about?

    Russia’s tourists were definitely tourists, but should we really consider the private Dragon spaceflights to be tourists? These people had experiments to do. Would we consider the UAE astronauts tourists? They had government experiments to do.
    _______________________
    David Eastman wrote: “OceanGate clearly erred on the side of forging ahead without enough due diligence, there are people that believe SpaceX is doing the same, but most of them are firmly on the side of ‘Don’t go until you can prove 150% safety, and if that means you never go, oh well.’

    Actually, what they see as forging ahead without enough due diligence is development testing. The test is the due diligence. It is why it is development testing and not operations. Titan was operational, not a test and not in development. There is a difference, which I have expounded upon before.

  • James Street

    Boeing’s Starliner was in the back of my mind as I watched the Titanic submarine story unfold.

    The thing is it’s already been politicized. Biden knew the sub had imploded last Sunday and milked the story all week to distract attention from the breaking news of Hunter Biden’s text to the Chinese businessman with “the Big Guy” sitting beside him:
    https://t.ly/YCK8o

    Radical leftists will use this as one more thing to try and take down America. Our side needs to start preparing the public that death is a reasonable cost of doing business.

  • GaryMike

    What did the sinking of the Titanic do to ocean shipping?

    Better ship building practices and Titanic tourism?

    Many more people died.

    I can step off a street curb, get hit by a car, and be killed. (Sadly, I’ve seen that happen twice. One was a speeding police car hitting a drunk guy, hurling him half a block through the air.)

    If you camp in the forest, you check your vertical for widow-makers.

    You don’t walk through the wrong neighborhood.

    You’re always at risk because you live and there is a broad spectrum of ways that can affect that condition.

    Why is the ‘main stream media’, and even local media, making such a big fuss of this minor tragedy?

    What are they trying to distract us from?

  • MDN

    IMHO Oceangate were idiots to use carbon fiber in the pressure vessel. In the first place it is constructed via lamination, and laminated layers can, and do, DElaminate in ways that are extremely difficult to predict in engineering a component, detect when they do happen, and I would not even want to think of trying to repair and re-use a laminated component in this application. Worse, Oceangate chose to pair a cylindrical composite hull with hemispheric titanium end caps. Mating disparate materials that will deform differentially to stress guaranteed that the mating junctions between these components would deflect differently as pressure built up, and I conjecture this almost certainly created stress risers that ultimately triggered a catastrophic failure. Very dumb, especially for the stated reason of saving weight on a craft that requires ballast to operate.!

    Carbon fiber in SRBs is an altogether different matter. Here weight IS a premium factor. There is substantial industry experience from the world of military missiles . And the re-use of an SRB involves an extensive prep and reload of propellent that would assuredly include an extensive structural inspection before each use.

    One of the unappreciated travesties of the Challenger accident was that somehow, Morton Thiokol managed to manipulate the event to convince Congress and NASA to cancel the composite SRBs for the shuttle (made by a competitor if memory serves, but the gray cells have faded so I could be wrong on this point). At the time the composite SRB’s were done, fully flight rated, and scheduled to be used on the very next mission on the docket.

    I remember following the course of these events in Aviation Week and Space Technology as they came to light over the months following the accident, and pounding my head against the wall at the abject stupidity.. The result was a 2 year delay in the entire program, Thiokol re-designing their SRB multi segment assembly to incorporate the “capture Feature” which added thousands of pounds of weight per booster, and the cancellation of plans to fly out of Vandenberg as well as Kennedy..

    In contrast if they had simply stayed the course on the planned transition to composite SRBs as scheduled they could have proceeded with no delay, REDUCED weight by some 5000 lbs per booster, had a monolithic SRB with NO segment joints because the composite’s were constructed as a single tube, and as a California resident I could have enjoyed an occasional shuttle launch with a most affordable RV trip.. What a crock this was!

  • MDN wrote: “Oceangate were idiots to use carbon fiber in the pressure vessel….etc”

    My thoughts exactly when I heard they had done this. The only reason space companies consider carbon fiber for rockets is the savings in weight. There is no reason to go to this relatively untested technology for a deep sea vessel. Steel has proven to work for almost a century in submarines. To use carbon fiber here reveals a stupidity that is unfathomable.

  • Edward

    GaryMike asked: “What did the sinking of the Titanic do to ocean shipping?

    It measured people that ocean travel was just as unsafe as it had always been, that there was no getting around the power of Mother Nature, and that America’s viewpoint of class structure was better than Europe’s.

    It was European class structure that allowed the lowly steerage passengers to wait below until it was their turn. America did not seen class in that same way and saw more that a person was a person no matter his noble title. Oh, that’s right, there are no titles in the nobility-less America.

    Titanic was perhaps the first case of the lifeboats being almost 100% safe. In many sinking before and since, lifeboats would scrape the side of the ship, catch on something and tip its passengers into the water. Other lifeboats that made it to the water might founder in heavy waves (not a problem for Titanic, but still a fear for passengers). Other lifeboats got caught in propellers (again, not for Titanic). A major purpose of lifeboats, as seen at the time, was for transporting people from the ship in distress to a ship that had come to the rescue (again, not applicable to Titanic).

    As a percentage, Titanic had a remarkably good survival rate compared to most other shipwrecks. Some shipwrecks did better, but the best chance comes from not ending up in the water or in a lifeboat.

    Thus, the sinking of Titanic did little to ocean shipping, but taught us that Mother Nature is stronger than mankind.

    Until the impending ice age came along, in which mankind was once again a stronger force that Mom. Even when the ice age turned to global warming. And even when it turned to regular climate change. Mom changes the climate, mankind must necessarily be the actual cause.

    A major problem we face is that we now expect almost all aspects of life to be safe. We spend much on our automobiles to make sure we survive wrecks rather than avoid them in the first place. America’s major airlines have become so safe that it is difficult to believe. Food preparation techniques have improved dramatically for restaurants and other commercial servers.

    Somehow, we now expect our newest industries to be just as safe as our airlines. Excellent cockpit resource management has been a major reason for the reduced accidents in airliners, but we don’t yet know how to do the same in our spacecraft. Different problems keep killing the crews, and even Apollo 13 required the ground controllers to help find solutions to the many problems that came up. Now that was a good early example of excellent; resource management.

    Improved maintenance techniques are another reason for modern airline safety. Our reusable spacecraft are new and barely tested in actual flight conditions. This could take a few deadly accidents to work out the proper techniques. Ergonomic (man-machine interface) design of airliners and cockpits has also been a help in the improved safety. As we run into problems, we will learn more about how the man-machine interfaces will help in problem solving.

    Designs improved for aircraft, which also helped, but is not yet perfect. An engine containment failure was the reason for the one passenger fatality, due to accident, in the past two decades. As MDN noted, material selection is vital in any design.

    All these things are what we need to work on with our various manned spacecraft designs in order to make spaceflight as safe as we can. The conditions and environment of space is different than the air, but perhaps many of the lessons from aircraft can successfully be incorporated into spacecraft.

  • pzatchok

    That sub was a big ball of troubles.

    First the hatch could never be opened from inside the sub. So even if they came to the surface they could still have suffocated before being found.

    It had an all digital control system run by a single computer.

    They had no manual back up controls at all. Nothing to let the ballast go in an emergency.

    Add in the above mentioned materials problems.

    The sub was only rated to a depth a little greater than the Titanic’s depth. Thus it would suffer maximum stress close to its rating every time it went down.

    I can not find any mention of exactly how many trips this craft went on down to those depths?
    They could have put it on a cable and sent it down a dozen times unmanned to test it. Did they?

  • Col Beausabre

    ” Nothing to let the ballast go in an emergency.” The USN Bathyscaph Trieste back in 1960 had magnets controlling the ballast tanks (filled with steel balls) and attaching the keel to the vessel, If there was a power failure or someone hit the Chicken Switch, the tanks dumped their contents and the keel said Bye-bye as she got instant positive buoyancy. You were on a one way elevator ride to the surface whether you liked it or not. The major concern as you rocketed up from the depths was you might hit a support vessel’s hull, so they moved well clear of the dive area until she surfaced. BTW, Trieste accomplished the deepest dive in history, something like 36,000 feet (three times the depth of the wreck of the Titanic) in the Mariana’s Trench ‘s Challenger Deep – the deepest spot on the planet

    “Nine metric tons (20,000 pounds) of magnetic iron pellets were placed on the craft as ballast, both to speed the descent and allow ascent since the extreme water pressures would not have permitted compressed air ballast-expulsion tanks to be used at great depths. This additional weight was held in place at the throats of two hopper-like ballast silos by electromagnets. In case of an electrical failure, the bathyscaphe would automatically rise to the surface”

    “On 23 January 1960, she reached the ocean floor in the Challenger Deep (the deepest southern part of the Mariana Trench), carrying Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh.. This was the first time a vessel, crewed or uncrewed, had reached the deepest known point of the Earth’s oceans. The onboard systems indicated a depth of 11,521 metres (37,799 ft), although this was revised later to 10,916 metres (35,814 ft); fairly recently, more accurate measurements have found Challenger Deep to be between 10,911 metres (35,797 ft) and 10,994 metres (36,070 ft) deep.”

    Descent took 4 hours 47 minutes, ascent took 3 hours 15 minutes. They were so deep that messages over the voice hydrophone took 7 seconds to travel to the recipient (sound in water is about 5 times faster than in air)

  • pzatchok

    I just read that after the first few very few test dives one of the engineers heard cracking and popping sounds from the hull both going down and coming up.

    The engineer thought it was the carbon layers separating.

    Soon after that they made a new carbon fiber hull for the sub.

  • wayne

    “37 Pings : Death Throes of the USS Thresher”
    Sub Brief (June 2022)
    https://youtu.be/HV5FGTxIU4Q
    41:40

  • pzatchok

    I do not think This tragedy will have much effect on space tourism.

    First off is America stops space tourism totally other nations will still do it.

    The Titanic disaster mainly changed the safety requirements for the passenger shipping industry so at worst it might up the safety requirements for mass passenger flight.

    And I mean mass passenger flight not this 5 to 10 passenger stuff but the future ships that could carry a hundred at a time to a private space station for real fun and a weeks stay. Real tourism will not take off until the costs come down a bit and the activities go up a lot.
    What do tourists really want to do in space? Sex and other zero gravity games. Maybe a space walk for an extra charge. Or to go to the Moon for pretty much the very same stuff.
    Only the very supper mega rich will blow cash on a working trip to the ISS.

    As for those pogo hops that are being offered by BO and Virgin. They are cheaper and could fly multiple times a day but the real fun is in the zero G effect and the longer that can be held the more popular it will become. Its pretty much just a very expensive roller coaster with a great view.

  • Edward

    Ok, I have atrocious spelling (or can I blame spellchecking?):

    It measured people that ocean travel was just as unsafe as it had always been …

    Should Be: “It reassured people”*

    The rest of the typos are still relatively intelligible.

    As I usually include when this topic comes up, from a time when the Space Shuttle was no longer flying and before America’s commercial manned space industry began launching people to orbit:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXbdJ3kyVyU (7 minutes: “The Deal”)
    “The reason that we have cheap, affordable, and safe air transportation today and no space transportation whatsoever is simply because we were serious about air travel, serious enough to pay the price in blood and money, and we’re not serious about space. My friend and noted space expert Rand Sinberg summed it up perfectly when he said ‘we’ll know we’re serious about space travel when we have entire cemeteries full of dead astronauts who lost their lives showing us how to do it right,’ just like Gann’s generation did. Because that’s the deal. That’s what it costs.”
    ___________
    * This reminds me of one day at my second-ever paid job, half-time in the afternoon, after classes were over. When I arrived, my boss was late back from a long lunch, but he had left me a note that looked like it told me to reassure a value on our experiment. He had terrible handwriting, so I couldn’t figure out what he meant, because we hadn’t taken that value, yet. I asked everyone else in the lab if they could make out what he wrote or what it meant, but they all were just as mystified.

    Of course I eventually figured out he meant for me to make the measurement: “measure the value” of the whatever. When he got back from lunch, I was in the middle of the task, and he wondered what was taking me so long — I should have been done already.

  • James Street

    OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was a typical lib with no value for human life. One interview he was bragging how he went low budget, controlling the sub with a cheap video game controller, and using cheap battery powered stick-up fluorescent lights with the adhesive on the back he got at Home Depot for lighting inside the sub.

    Old saying: Go woke, go broke.
    New saying: Go woke, die.

    “Missing Sub CEO Explains Why it Was Important for Him Not to Hire “50-Year-Old White Guys From Military” as Submariners for His Tourist Sub Business”
    “According to Mr. Rush, he intentionally did not want to hire a certain kind of submariner expert for his corporate endeavor, because that would only bring ex-military submariners into the company. In his own words he explains how he did not want to hire “50-year-old white guys“, and instead preferred a more diverse and younger workforce to represent the operational face of the company. Diversity, equity and inclusion was the priority.”
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2023/06/21/missing-sub-ceo-explains-why-it-was-important-for-him-not-to-hire-50-year-old-white-guys-from-military-as-submariners-for-his-tourist-sub-businesso/

    An article about a German man who did the same tour to the Titanic in August 2021:
    “I went on the Titanic submarine — it was a suicide mission”
    “Not only that but right before the voyage, the bracket of the stabilization tube — which balances the sub — tore and had to be “reattached with zip ties,” he said.”
    https://nypost.com/2023/06/21/former-titanic-sub-passenger-dubs-dive-a-suicide-mission/

  • Jeff Wright

    Secret Projects Forum has a great discussion there.
    Composites are best for control surfaces, rudders—so long as lightning doesn’t strike—-but you need metals for depth.

    The SUBSAFE program ended disasters like Scorpion and Thresher.

    Here you want to add bulk—the best part is every part.

    Here is something I didn’t know—the NEW HORIZON Pluto Shot lead—Alan Stern—was on that bloody thing:

    https://nasawatch.com/exploration/per-aquas-ad-astra/

  • D. Messier

    Deep sea exploration with submersibles started in 1960. A year before Gagarin orbited the Earth and three years after Sputnik was launched. James Cameron, who has done a lot of deep sea exploration, says the industry has a very rigorous rating (certification) process for vehicles that has kept the industry operating safely. OceanGate didn’t go through the rating process.

    SpaceX’s Crew Dragon had to meet rigorous NASA requirements. There are no safety regulations for the suborbital crewed vehicles. There’s been a moratorium that expires at the end of September. The industry wants it extended for a fourth time.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “Real tourism will not take off until the costs come down a bit and the activities go up a lot.

    Starship may be able to cover this requirement. If the cost to SpaceX is $2 million to launch, and they make a good profit, they may charge $20 million (my speculation), or for a 100 person trip to orbit, $200,000 per person. Stay a day or a week, similar cost, maybe a bit more. Right now, suborbital companies charge a comparable amount, so SpaceX can give more bang for the buck (sorry for the pun with pzatchok’s list of activities).

    Only the very supper mega rich will blow cash on a working trip to the ISS.

    But a working trip may be for developing a product to sell on Earth. Worth the price of admission to the station.

    As for those pogo hops that are being offered by BO and Virgin. They are cheaper and could fly multiple times a day but the real fun is in the zero G effect and the longer that can be held the more popular it will become. Its pretty much just a very expensive roller coaster with a great view.

    But the view seems to be fantastic. Even the astronauts on ISS spend quite a bit of their relaxation time in the Cupola, watching the Earth roll by. A bit like Amtrak’s observation cars.
    https://amtrakguide.com/2018/12/31/amtrak-routes-with-observation-cars/
    ______________
    Here is a video by Mike Brady, who has been researching ocean liners in general and has done several videos on Titanic, as a popular topic. In this video he discusses the construction of the Titan submersible, including some video of winding the carbon fibers into its cylindrical form. He compares Titan with Alvin (the explorer that D. Messier references), a similar submersible that is approaching 2/3 of a century old and is still in operation today. Brady discusses possible points of failure for submersibles. He also discusses the search for Titan and the methods. He includes audio of modern sonar, which I had not heard before and thought you all may want a listen.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O5F4ZVlIac (34 minutes)

    I like that he tries to avoid speculation and tries to stick to known facts. He clearly has done his research on this topic.

    How this affects space tourism is not his concern, so don’t expect this topic in his video.

  • GaryMike

    Edward:

    Thank you for making reference to airline Black Boxes.

    Trust isn’t as trustworthy as we’re expected to believe.

    Stuff is going to happen, we’ll learn to do better afterwards.

  • Steve Richter

    on the sub itself, how is it that social media did not figure out early on what had happened to cause it to go missing? All I know is what I read on the internet and I still do not know how it is that the sub descends and then returns to the surface ( like a regular submarine or does a deep diving sub drop ballast in order to ascend ) Scott Manley had a good account of the forces pressing on the sub at great depth and he calculated a mega newton number to show there was a very loud bang. But he did that after the fact. How is it that the voices of sub experts did not “surface” during those days that the sub was missing to inform the public as to what could have and most likely, did happen?

  • wayne

    What Happens When a Submarine Hits “Crush Depth”
    Fleet Files (March, 2023)
    https://youtu.be/C1VKotduWek
    5:45
    ………

    Deepest Wreck Ever Located:
    The Destroyer Escort USS Samuel B Roberts (DE-413)
    Caladan Oceanic (July, 2022)
    https://youtu.be/sfGI_6_gvmU
    26:23

    “We’re making a torpedo run. The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty.”
    Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland

  • wayne

    Steve–
    The “media” know less than nothing about pretty much everything.
    If they told me the sky was blue, I’d wonder what sort of narrative they were trying to push.

  • Steve Richter

    “… The “media” know less than nothing about pretty much everything. …”

    I am asking more about social media. Twitter has been touted as the great equalizer. Granted, I did not look very hard, but I saw no tweets discussing how and why the sub had likely imploded prior to the Coast Guard announcement.

    One question I have is whether those inside the vessel would have heard sounds of the pressure building prior to the breaking point?

    ( My growing suspicion is that biased search algorithms and the ever present threat of being arbitrarily shadow banned is having an accumulating result to damper the discussion of ideas and facts. )

  • wayne

    Steve-
    -sorry, missed the key word in your 1st sentence. (I personally don’t do social-media.) How effective is the Search function?

    Ref– “…whether those inside the vessel would have heard sounds……?”
    I only play an engineer on the internet;
    -from what I understand, it depends on what sort of failure occurred, and at what depth. There are some good factoids in that “crush depth” video I linked above, which indicate the time-frames involved.
    It can happen. faster than your ability to perceive it.
    Apparently, with the Thresher loss, the time-frame involved & the use of the emergency “pinging” device, yields more than enough time to realize your dead.

  • Steve Richter wrote, “My growing suspicion is that biased search algorithms and the ever present threat of being arbitrarily shadow banned is having an accumulating result to damper the discussion of ideas and facts.”

    You are undeniably right. All standard search engines right now are garbage, even the ones that tout their privacy. Many only give you one or two pages of results, and then simply repeat them if you dig down. Others simply don’t give much variety or depth of results associated with your search. Above all, if you only enter general search terms they all seem to limit results to established or commercial sites,

    I know because I try them all, and experiment. Others have demonstrated these points as well.

    We are truly in a dark age, where the culture is close-minded and works hard to limit knowledge.

  • GaryMike

    The next few generations may bring back different perspectives.

    The ability to actually reproduce may be a game-changer.

  • Star Bird

    Most of the Submarines have Crush Depth Limit Subs like the Thresher and Scorpion were lost to this kind of limit

Readers: the rules for commenting!

 

No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.

 

However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.

 

Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *