These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced
(no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
here to return to the Table of Contents.
Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
Did extreme environmentalism contribute to the Columbia's demise? The
Freon foaming agent for the spray-on foam insulation used on the shuttle's main fuel tank changed in the mid 1990s
when a concern was raised about the Freon's affect on the ozone layer. Freon worked perfectly and without a
separation failure since the inception of the shuttle program. The new foaming agents use water and pentane, which
traps moisture and subsequently weakens the foam's adhesion to the primer on the surface of the fuel tank. The
problem is exacerbated at high altitudes due to trapped gas expansion in the foam's cells. Numerous instances of
foam swelling and breaking off has been reported since the switch. A separated piece of foam that struck the left
wing leading edge at takeoff is the prime suspect for causing the Columbia's reentry breakup on February 1, 2003.