HumptyDome Down!

Oh the snowmanity!

Metrodome roof collapses

The roof of the Metrodome collapsed early Sunday morning, following heavy snow over the weekend.

The collapse occurred around 5 a.m. after work crews, who had been using steam and hot water to melt snow off the roof, had been pulled off for safety concerns.

Experts on the Metrodome’s roof construction are arriving in Minneapolis to assess the situation and establish a timeline for fixing it.

See also:
Snowstorm brings down Metrodome roof
Minneapolis Metrodome roof deflates after heavy snow, NFL moves Vikings vs. Giants game to Monday in Detroit
Vikings-Giants to play in Detroit Monday night
Metrodome roof collapses under snow; NFL moves Giants/Vikings game to Detroit’s Ford Field Monday
Metrodome roof collapses in Midwest blizzard
Minn. Metrodome roof collapses in Midwest blizzard
Brett Favre: Metrodome collapse gives Vikings QB time to heal
Free Football In Detroit Tomorrow (If You Can Get There)
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Just Build The Damn Stadium!

And this is hardly the first time the HumptyDome roof has collapsed either. What a joke, building an inflatable dome in the Snowbelt.

/can we haz new stadium now?

Better Luck This Time

After failing to remove a broken coolant pump last Sunday, NASA and two American spacewalkers regrouped, tried again, and were successful this time.

Space station spacewalk saga: faulty pump removed, more work ahead

Two crew members from the International Space Station took a major step toward replacing a critical piece of the orbiting laboratory’s cooling system today, following a failed attempt Sunday.

During a 7 hour, 26 minute spacewalk, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Army Col. Douglas Wheelock removed a coolant pump on the outside of the station, clearing the way for another spacewalk Monday to install an on-board spare.

The pump failed unexpectedly on July 31, cutting in half the station’s capacity to shed heat generated by its electrical systems, laboratory experiments, as well as six active astronauts.

The six crew members aboard the station were never in danger, NASA officials have emphasized. But the outage forced mission managers to significantly curtail research activities on the orbiting lab.

“Lots of smiles down here guys,” came the word from mission control as Dr. Caldwell Dyson and Colonel Wheelock sat in the air lock after the spacewalk.

A major fix-it project

Swapping the coolant pumps represents one of the 14 most difficult maintenance jobs station crews face. Spacewalks ordinarily take weeks to plan because they require detailed choreography. But the urgency of returning the station’s cooling system to full capacity prompted planners to accelerate the process for a repair job astronauts had trained for with only the broadest of brush strokes.

For instance, last night, engineers were still working on procedures governing the use of the station’s robotic arm for today’s effort. The broad-brush plan for removal of the pump that astronauts used in training had assumed that the arm wouldn’t be available.

Clamping an astronaut to the end of the robotic arm, then having him hold a 780-pound pump steady while a crew member inside the station moves the two to the spot where planners want to deposit the pump – that’s a procedure planners would rather not develop at the last minute, mission officials said.

But they did.

“There are so many facets to a major change out that you just don’t really get to tackle” in the planning stage “unless you train for it at a very detailed level, which we hadn’t done yet,” said Michael Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager, during a post-spacewalk briefing.

See also:
Spacewalkers make space station coolant repairs
Space Station Repair Job Makes Headway
Astronauts remove cooling pump from space station
Astronauts Successfully Remove Failed Pump on International Space Station
Astronauts successfully remove faulty pump outside ISS
Astronauts progress in mission
Spacewalkers remove railed ammonia pump on space station
Spacewalk Fail

Chalk one up for NASA ingenuity and our adaptable, seat of the pants spacewalking astronauts.

/let’s just hope installing the replacement pump goes more smoothly than removing the old one

Spacewalk Fail

This is not good.

Longest spacewalk in International Space Station’s history fails to fix fault

Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, two American astronauts, spent just over eight hours in the void outside the space station in an effort to repair the orbiting lab’s faulty cooling system, NASA said.

It was the longest spacewalk in the International Space Station’s history and the sixth longest ever.

“It was a tough one as spacewalks go,” an announcer from NASA’s mission control in Houston, Texas, conceded on a live video feed.

The pair had slept in an airlock beforehand to allow their bodies to adjust to different pressure conditions.

The walk was slightly delayed because of what NASA officials described as a “communication problem” inside Caldwell Dyson’s helmet, but the issue was resolved.

Experts had warned ahead of the spacewalk that the operation was challenging because the astronauts would be handling ammonia lines at full operating pressure, which makes them stiff.

A second spacewalk is planned for Wednesday when the astronauts will once again attempt to repair the system, which shut down on July 31.

See also:
Wrench Thrown Into Repair Work on Spacewalk
Stubborn Fitting Holds up Space Station Repair Job
Astronauts fail to remove broken cooling pump
Spacewalk fails to remove broken cooling pump
3rd spacewalk needed to restore cooling system
Astronauts fail to remove broken cooling pump at ISS
Space station astronauts to make another attempt to mend cooling system

I sure hope they can figure out a way to fix this problem. it’d be a shame to have to abandon the ISS.

/on the bright side however, at least the astronauts didn’t lose an tools in space

Get Your Physics Fun While It Lasts

They just restarted the LHC about a week ago and now they’re already announcing it needs to be shut down again. I bet that right about now they wish the could return it and get their $5 billion back. What a gigantic boondoggle. As I’ve said before, they should have had the Germans build it in the first place.

LHC to shut down for a year to address design faults

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) must close at the end of 2011 for up to a year to address design issues, according to an LHC director.

Dr Steve Myers told BBC News the faults will delay the machine reaching its full potential for two years.

The atom smasher will reach world record collision energies later this month at 7 trillion electron volts.

But joints between the machine’s magnets must be strengthened before higher-energy collisions can commence.

The Geneva-based machine only recently restarted after being out of action for 14 months following an accident in September 2008.

Dr Myers said: “It’s something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided but I have difficulty in thinking that this is something that was a design error.”

He said: “The standard phrase is that the LHC is its own prototype. We are pushing technologies towards their limits.”

“You don’t hear about the thousands or hundreds of thousands of other areas that have gone incredibly well.

“With a machine like the LHC, you only build one and you only build it once.”

He said the second problem is not with the most complex technology but involves the copper sheaths around the superconducting joints in the tunnel.

The copper sheaths are a failsafe mechanism designed to take up the current if one of the magnets in the Large Hadron Collider warms up – an incident known as a “quench”.

The 2008 accident caused one tonne of helium to leak into the tunnel and resulted in a series of “quenches” and a 40m Swiss franc (£24m) repair bill.

Engineers believe the machine is now safe to run at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) but are anxious to avoid another breakdown.

So they have taken the decision to run the machine for 18 to 24 months at half-maximum power before switching it off for a year to carry out improvements to the 27km tunnel.

Dr Myers said the decision was taken jointly with the physicists working on the four giant particle detectors on the LHC.

He said they appreciate the chance to test their own equipment while the machine is running at half its maximum power.

See also:
Large Hadron Collider to close for a year for refit and repairs
Large Hadron Collider ‘to shut down for a year’
Hadron Collider to be closed amid fears of a very big bang
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, world’s largest atom-smasher, needs to be shut down for repairs
Large Hadron Collider will finally reach full power in 2013… eight years behind schedule
Collider to shut down at end of 2011
Large Hadron Collider shutdown planned
Large Hadron Collider to shut down, not baguette this time
Scientists rubbish stories about LHC shutdown over safety concerns
Woman, fearing apocalypse, tries to halt collider
Woman fails to shut down Large Hadron Collider
Here We Go Again

As they say, measure twice, cut once.

/on the bright side, at least while it’s shut down again, they won’t have to pay the ridiculously high electric bill for all the vast amounts of power that the LHC sucks down while in operation