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NASA Science

NASA Worker Falls To His Death On Launch Pad 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "Tragedy has struck NASA as the organization announced a space shuttle worker fell to his death at the Endeavour launch pad this morning. NASA said the United Space Alliance worker fell at approximately 7:40 am eastern at the NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A. The launch pad is currently holding the space shuttle Endeavour, which is slated to launch on April 19."
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NASA Worker Falls To His Death On Launch Pad

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  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:44PM (#35482696)

    Well,

    I hope he died doing what he loved. It's the least any of us can ask for.

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Stele (9443) on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:49PM (#35482758) Homepage

      What, falling?

      • Stopping.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Burning1 (204959) on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:27PM (#35483192) Homepage

      I say this as a guy who loves motorcycles... Think about them most of the day, commute on one, race one.

      I do not want to die 'doing what I love.' I would rather die quietly in my sleep at an old age. I take some solace in the fact that a falling death is probably one of the less painful 'accidental deaths, still... I would hope for much better.

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Funny)

        by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:05PM (#35483616)

        I do not want to die 'doing what I love.' I would rather die quietly in my sleep at an old age.

        You don't love sleeping? Cause I do. Dying in my sleep would -totally- be dying doing one thing I love.

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          I've known plenty of people who hate sleeping. I'm one of them. It just feels like such a waste of several hours that I would rather use for something else.

          • Rest is just as important as activity, do not undervalue it.
          • Yeah, but vivid, surreal hallucinations are a reasonable substitute for "something else".
            • Yeah, but vivid, surreal hallucinations are a reasonable substitute for "something else".

              Now don't go turning this into a drug conversation.

            • Yeah, but vivid, surreal hallucinations are a reasonable substitute for "something else".

              The problem is, how do you distinguish vivid, surreal hallucinations from normal office routine?

      • by necro81 (917438)

        I would rather die quietly in my sleep at an old age

        Unlike those poor bastards riding in the car I'm driving at the time.

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        I think you're kinda missing the point? I'm pretty sure most people would rather die of old age, but a lot of people don't get that option.

        IF i'm going to die tomorrow, i'd certainly rather die working on a spaceship or saving someone else's life or something else important. As opposed to dying working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant during a robbery, or getting killed during a mugging, or failing to look both ways before crossing the street, etc.

        Dying old and dying well are both better than dyin
      • by chihowa (366380) *

        Why die quietly in your sleep? You only get to die once (maybe). Aren't you curious how it will feel? Having said that, I'd still prefer a relatively quick death to the long drawn out agony of cancer or something. But as the actual moment of passing approaches, I want to be as conscious as possible.

      • by tylernt (581794)

        I would rather die quietly in my sleep at an old age

        I always say I want to die in bed, but what I really mean is, I'd like to be trampled by a herd of wild elephants while having sex.

        (RIP Roger Zelazny)

    • by pclminion (145572)
      I've bungee jumped from 175 feet before. That's not far... But you have plenty of time to think about what's happening to you on the way down. I'm sure he was doing his dream job, but his last seconds of consciousness were probably the worst terror he'd ever experienced in his life. That really sucks.
      • by deroby (568773)

        Seconded.
        I bungee jumped from a 103 m (ca 337 ft) bridge some years back. ( http://www.vertigeaventures.com/xindex.htm [vertigeaventures.com] )
        I have no clue how deep the guy fell, but I remember two things very clearly
        * you pick up speed ENORMOUSLY FAST, the air really rushes by as you go head first.
        * the brain goes in some kind of overdrive making every second seem to take forever and although I did not quite see my life flash by, I sure had plenty of time to realize what was going on and wonder why that elastic cord hadn't st

        • by sconeu (64226)

          the brain goes in some kind of overdrive making every second seem to take forever

          I suspect that's adrenaline. The same thing happened to me in the one major auto accident I got into.

          Time slowed down, I *KNEW* that I was going to be hit, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

      • It takes nearly a minute to fall from this height.And despite what you may have heard,you're likely to stay conscious all the way down.Thoughts like this keep me warm at night.

        - Batman

    • I never understood why it's better to die doing something you love. I often fantasize about dying while I'm doing something I hate, like during a root canal or dinner with the in-laws.
  • Truly sad news :( having met few workers at Kennedy Space Center right after Discovery last launch, I have no doubt he died doing what he loved. From astronaut to tour guide bus driver, KSC employees proud of what they're part of. Sad day for Brevard Co residents.
    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:25PM (#35483168) Journal

      I have no doubt he died doing what he loved.

      Skydiving.

      • by mangu (126918)

        Do you know the difference between a golfer and a skydiver?

        The golfer:
        WHACK!
        -"Oh, shit!"

        The skydiver:
        -"Oh, shit!"
        WHACK!

        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          There's also the difference between falling from 2 meters and falling from 20 meters:
          2m: *thud* AAAAA!!!
          20m: AAAAAAA *thud*

  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:55PM (#35482830)
    That's really awful. But... Aren't these guys supposed to be clipped in when they're working up there?
    • by jandrese (485)
      Probably he's a candidate for one of those safety videos where someone takes a shortcut and ends up dead/horribly mutilated.
      • by Zerth (26112)

        Or one of those "Is your awesome job about to end? Don't know what you'll do next, but are sure it won't be as awesome as working on the space shuttle? Don't jump off the launch tower, call 1-800-GET-HELP" videos.

      • by Megane (129182)
        Like Staplerfahrer Klaus? [google.com]
    • by vlm (69642)

      That's really awful. But... Aren't these guys supposed to be clipped in when they're working up there?

      Metric clips vs Imperial clips?

      Seriously though, I've worn a climbing harness to do light telco wiring (admittedly decades ago) and one annoying failure mode was the thing you clip on breaking. In that situation you are very firmly and securely attached to something falling right next to you.... I always felt weird cliping onto the basket right where they did the repair welding... I would not be surprised if whatever he clipped onto, landed on top of him.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:29PM (#35483866) Homepage

      That's really awful. But... Aren't these guys supposed to be clipped in when they're working up there?

      Apparently there are some contexts in which OHSA will allow free-climbing since tying in as actually more dangerous.

      A friend sent me this [liveleak.com] video a while back (sorry for the flash) ... it shows some guy climbing a really tall tower and not being tied on for the most part.

      Not for the faint of heart or people who really don't like heights. It's not something I'd be willing to do.

      • That's really awful. But... Aren't these guys supposed to be clipped in when they're working up there?

        Apparently there are some contexts in which OHSA will allow free-climbing since tying in as actually more dangerous.

        What do they [ohsa.net] have to do with it?

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        We had a guy who did that. I'm 100% sure that it wasn't OSHA approved however! ... and the tower was only about 150ft... but still.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      There is an investigation so we will find out eventually what happened.

      I work at KSC and I have had fall protection training. There are certain times you need to wear fall protection. It has to do when you are working near an unprotected edge. You have to wear it when you are near an unprotected edge with a drop of 6 feet. The Pad is really pretty impressive because you can access most areas or the orbiter and a few key areas of the SRB's and ET. Before launch the access arms and platforms are moved away. M

  • by Grapplebeam (1892878) on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:59PM (#35482868)
    It's gotta be NASA. How did this happen?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People working in potentially dangerous conditions at 7:40 in the morning a day after we all lost an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time...yeah that could end badly.

      • by Thud457 (234763)
        After these idiot time changes, I'm usually dangerously sleep-deprived until about April.
    • by tylernt (581794)

      How did this happen?

      Gravity. Come on, it's not rocket science.

  • by subk (551165) <drumhed@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:15PM (#35483038)
    Where was his harness and shock-cord? I have seen contractors get BIG whammies for letting workers "strap out", and this at only 35ft. This guy should have fallen about eight feet and suffered a cracked rib or two from the shock-cord snapping him a bit, but a fall to the death? At a NASA facility? That would require CCCPish levels of idiocy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:29PM (#35483214)
      Having worked at a national lab, I'm similarly amazed. The rules are very strict (e.g. you have to be safety-trained to even use a regular ladder to fetch something up high). For this to have happened, the worker must have been violating the safety rules. (It's possible, but much less likely, that there was some kind of equipment failure.) One thing the investigation will have to look into is whether this was just one employee breaking the rules, endangering himself, or whether higher-ups were aware of the corner-cutting and let it happen anyways. Or, worse, is a superior was pressuring him to complete certain work in an unsafe manner.

      Again, from my experience I would guess it was the worker himself who was side-stepping the rules. (I hate to sound like I'm blaming the victim, though...) Typically management get in so much trouble (and have to deal with so much paperwork and lost productivity from shutdowns) that they really do care about safety and DO NOT want anyone breaking a safety rule.

      Then again, I'm speaking in generalities. We'll have to wait and see what led to this particular tragedy.
      • by pclminion (145572)
        A friend of mine who works mostly blue-collar jobs has been told by more than one foreman on a work site: "If you fall from rigging, your employment is terminated before you hit the ground." Apparently this is how they sidestep safety regulations -- I'm not responsible for that guy, he wasn't my employee.
        • IME from my younger days, jobs sites like that are the exception. Unless you're working for a really shitty contractor you probably have foremen that know how dangerous working in rigging can be and make sure their guys are happy, comfortable, and safe. Nobody likes seeing anyone get hurt at a job site. And nobody who works for a living would want to see a job shut down (and people out of work) because someone else was cutting corners and being unsafe.

          Of course I have no personal knowledge of what the co

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I'm not sure about OSHA, but I know our state L&I compliance personnel don't adhere to that standard. If I'm out flagging and I so much as utter the words "I don't know" that's a willful violation right there, the company is ultimately responsible for making sure that the employees know about the safety requirements and if there is a violation knowing why it was done that way. A willful violation carries a much stiffer penalty than one that's accidental. And often times they'll let you off with a warnin

        • by syousef (465911)

          A friend of mine who works mostly blue-collar jobs has been told by more than one foreman on a work site: "If you fall from rigging, your employment is terminated before you hit the ground." Apparently this is how they sidestep safety regulations -- I'm not responsible for that guy, he wasn't my employee.

          ...and is the manager's employment terminated before the back of his head hits the ground as the result of blunt force trauma to the front of his face?

          Unless it's all off the books (which in itself can be tracked), how does a foreman deny someone on the job site that's been paid is a worker?

    • by wkk2 (808881)
      People never think they will fall so they do dumb things. Yesterday, a friend told me that one of his workers was caught standing an extension ladder on top of a small SUV to gain a little extra height. A crew painting my house “borrowed” a 14-gauge extension cord without asking. They used it to lower themselves down a 12:12 pitch roof. Idiots! If they had just asked, I would have let them use a 12.5 mm kernmantle rope and harness. They damaged the cord and cut the top shingle.
    • this is but a glimpse of the privatized space biz.

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