TEDxDelft: 2 weeks after

The TEDxDelft event in the TU Delft Aula congress center on November 7 was just great. Congratulations to Rob Speekenbrink and his team for putting a world class program on stage. Of course Dutch-American astronaut Lodewijk van den Berg stole the show. See a picture from his on-stage performance below.
Lodewijk van den Berg at TEDxDelft on November 7 2011 (credits here)
I shortly met Lodewijk during the TEDxDelft event but was very fortunate the day after. I got a text from Aerospace student and sinologist Martin Kers: if I would be interested having dinner with Lodewijk..... The three of us had the most wonderful evening in Italian restaurant Stromboli on the Markt in the center of Delft. We discussed the most minute but wonderfull details of flying the Space Shuttle and all the tests he had to go through in preparing his mission. Did you know that the top window of the Space Shuttle can be blown out with explosive bolts in case of emergency? And in case these bolts do not relieve the window, there are hand tools in proximity to try to get it open? After every flight, these hand tools need to be requalified again. Lodewijk himself had some doubts about this system. He wondered in what circumstance this system should be used? The only circumstance would be after landing. But if there was a malfunction, you would better stay inside with all the Hydrazine remnants that could be around from the thruster system.... And also, exploding the bolts could be quite hazardous itself to the crew. This is one of the examples that actually made the Shuttle too complex to be operated cost effectively. It was a great flying machine for 30 years but it is time to move on!

Lodewijk van den Berg made my TEDxDelft 2011. So thank you for that!

18.12.2011 Update: Youtube video of TEDxDelft talk by Lodewijk van den Berg is available, see below!

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