After Columbia STS-107


Mars Challenger
The Creed

After Columbia Project has had the misfortune of discovering some rotten eggs that can cause major grief for space amateurs and space researchers.  The Internet is always a case of "surfer beware", so only those which I feel truly obliged to warn you about are listed.

First, please read and understand the following about After Columbia's Advisories.  I (Terry Wilson) do not take these things lightly, because I know I can get into trouble.  To manage the risk, there are some pretty nasty criteria a problem has to meet before I'll consider posting an advisory.  Advisories are also very time consuming, as are the problems they indicate.  Some of the criteria are to avoid wasting effort.  For each advisory here, there are at least five more "rotten eggs" that I've encountered, that are simply not worth posting an advisory for.  Finally, only problems relating to the amateur space community warrant an advisory on this amateur space community website.

In order to get an advisory on this page, you need to do something really nasty:

- Have a busted website forum or other such device that can waste a lot of time due to technical problems.  It has to be at least hours, usually a forum post form that loses data when you hit the post button.

- Flame someone's personal email account badly enough that I feel obliged to give some public exposure to the situation.  Flames are defined as threatening or abusive emails.  You have to be someone I think is capable of repeating (or has repeated) the situation with someone else, typically the owner, operator, or moderator of a website or internet forum.  I typically do not post advisories for online flame wars because they already have public exposure.  I will post advisories for an online flame war that lies about an individual or organization while trying to present the lie as a fact and not an opinion.  You might get prosecuted for harassment or libel.

- Provide really bad (copied without attribution, or just plain inaccurate) space-related information to a lot of people.  In such cases, that information must be bad enough that I'm not afraid of getting sued for saying so.  It also has to appear reputable to the untrained eye, or else the information will warn of itself.  Because of the "surfer beware" rule, websites are almost exempt from these sorts of advisories (I don't expect to ever have a content advisory for a website.)  You might get prosecuted for plagiarism, libel, or copyright infringement.

- Go phishing, which means attempting to acquire someone's personal information online in order to pretend you're someone else.  You might get prosecuted for fraud.

You probably don't want to do any of that anyway.  In that case, here's some general advice for avoiding problems for which advisories have not been posted:

Online information can be wrong.  Most are honestly mistaken (often fools who believe something is utterly rediculous, such as that the earth is flat, or that Columbia was shot down by an electromagnetic ray gun, etc..)  Most of them are voluminous enough to look reputable at first glance.  Sometimes, their basis is upon a fact or facts they've noticed.  Facts that might be accurate, but lead to the wrong opinion (this is how I discovered a hydraulic glitch with the Shuttle.  Someone had gone though reams of old reports to support the opinion that Columbia lost control of its rudder/speedbrake.  That's not how Columbia was lost, but he did convince me the glitch was real.)  Some are deliberately deceptive.  It makes little difference: honest errors and deliberate lies are both wrong information with the same parameters for credibility and the same approaches to verifying its accuracy.

To avoid getting flamed: In most cases, you should be able to gauge a site or forum's usefulness by its introduction page, guidelines, activity level, and a quick browse of its message archive.  When entering a new forum, start with a small or generic message as a test, but stick to something that reflects your authoring style and what you want to discuss in that forum.  Follow the guidelines.  If your authoring style and topics of interest are outside the guidelines, it's best to stay quiet.  It might not always work because forum moderators might not understand or follow their own guidelines, or have other guidelines they don't tell you about.  (For example, my opinions and highly direct method of addressing them are not compatible with all forums, even ones which explicitly welcome such a style in their guidelines or rules.)  That won't prevent headaches, but it will reveal them with a minimum of fuss and frustration for both you and the group's members and moderators.

All of this assumes, of course, that you want to participate in the discussions.  Many are happy to listen; even the most hostile forums won't mind that.  The majority of Yahoo groups have several times as many "lurkers" as they do participating members.  Forums with messages attract search index robots and can access get a lot of traffic from the search engines.

No guarantees are offered that the moderators of space related groups not listed here do not flame their members (After Columbia Project's own forums excepted.)

If you do get flamed by moderators and would like an advisory on this page, send me the flame itself, the message which prompted the flame, and I'll see if its bad enough (it has to be pretty bad.) If the flaming problem is related to an advisory already on this page, please contact me, especially if you are prosecuting the individual or organization causing the problem; I may be able to offer evidence.

Phishing (getting personal, financial, or medical information for the purpose of identity theft) is the worst thing such a group can do.  To combat phishing, don't post personally identifying information (beyond name, city, and email address) on any group or forum anywhere, anytime, for any reason, not even on After Columbia's forums...ever!  This includes specific medical information (i.e.: you might be sick, but nobody needs to know who your doctor is or which hospital you stayed at.)  If you need to share personally identifying information with someone you met at a forum, contact them directly...and make sure you can trust them.  If a moderator or registration form asks for too much information, leave it blank or back out...identity theft can be catastrophic (comparable to bankruptcy and divorce, usually worse than lying on such a form.)  Fortunately, none of these advisories are about phishing.

If you are the subject of an advisory here, I will remove an advisory if you:

- tell me your busted website tool or forum has been fixed.  I periodically test website tools and forums that have advisories.  If the problem appears to be fixed (or no longer worth testing,) I'll remove the advisory.  (No longer worth testing is most likely because the problem is advertising itself.)

- promise never to do what caused the advisory to myself or anyone else ever again.  You may email me for that purpose, but not to defend your actions.  If applicable, your promise must be confirmed by the person who got me to post an advisory.  An apology is nice, but not necessary.

- have your legal representative contact me; we can discuss removing the advisory in a civil manner.

- have a court injunction.  You may contact me via email (bottom of page), and I will provide you with an address for service.  You do have to provide enough information that I can verify that you are not phishing (court and case number, or a phone number I can call you at.)  If you have a court injunction, it is likely you can get Tripod to remove the advisory for you.

- disappear.  Advisories are removed when the organization or individual apparently no longer exists or has the ability to cause the problem associated with it.

- wait.  Advisories will be removed once the problem they are advising on has not occurred or been brought to my attention for two years.  Books tend to linger for much longer and in many places (public libraries, personal libraries, searchable online archives, eBay), so book-related advisories won't be removed.

If you harass me or attack me online, I will attempt to prosecute you for harassment or libel.  If you harass or attack others with advisories on this site, I won't prosecute for them, but they can contact me to have an advisory posted or amended, and they can attempt to prosecute you.

The Actual Advisories

MarsDrive Consortium does not fit the criteria for an advisory.  Their archives and forums are still open to guests, and their problems are plainly visible.

Busted Websites

None currently.

As a general note, the majority of dedicated Orbiter Simulator ( add-on sites (such as have frequent problems.  If you build Orbiter add-ons, please do upload them to these repositories.  If you have or intend to have a "fan base" however, also have your own reliable download site and links to it on the add-on information pages you upload with your add-ons to dedicated Orbiter sites.  If you don't want (i.e. can't afford) downloads from a site of your own, a little page with links to all of the sites someone can download your add-on from is a pretty good long as you upload your add-on to a number of add-on sites.

Harpoon HQ/Harpooner's Point

A brief one since it is of little to no use to space amateurs.  The forum is closed unless you are registered, making the message archive impossible to search prior to registration.  My first thread was locked on Tuesday 23 September 2008, and my last message on that thread (a long informative post of the type I most commonly post on such forums) was deleted.  Located at

The Inside KSC advisory has reached its two year stale date and has been removed.

Apogee Space Series / Collector's Guide Publishing

After Columbia Project has benefitted greatly from the NASA Mission Reports series, as an awful lot of very good information has been compiled into nice paperback volumes.  This information is hard to pull together from Internet sources, and the prices of the books at bookstores competes with the cost of printing all of the material yourself.  The only downside to purchasing these volumes is that NASA Mission Reports, and the CAIB Report, are in the public domain and available for free from government websites and offices.  I would recommend Collector's Guide NASA Mission Reports under circumstances where you need an exhaustive supply of information or have limitations in using the Internet.

The Apogee Space Series and Pocket Space Guides is a far sadder story.  A comparison of Michael Lennick's 2006 volume Launch Vehicles: Heritage of the Space Age, with Alfred Zaehringer and Steven Whitfield's 2004 volume Rocket Science in The Second Millenium reveals enormous problems.  Most of the photo captions in the newer volume are direct, verbatim representations of the captions for the same photos in Rocket Science, and no accreditations are given for the text in the newer book.  I hesitate to call it plagiarism because both books are owned by the same publisher, however it is at the least, a sign of extremely poor quality.  Also, most of the information both books have about launch vehicles, particularly Russian launch vehicles, is totally incorrect.  An excellent example is Energia's "solid boosters".  The strap-on booster for Energia is actually an oxykerosene (liquid fuelled) design using the four chambered Energomash RD-170 engine.  The Zenit, Sea Launch, and Land Launch booster serial first stages are based upon it and use the derived RD-171 engine.  (

After Columbia recommends looking for alternative publishers, even if the material is older (even pre-Glasnost western publications more accurately represent then Soviet boosters.)

Mark Wade's launch vehicle index is located at

(c) 2008 After Columbia Project; responsible individual is Terry Wilson, who has verified this information and certifies that it is accurate and legal.