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Freedom | A alternate history of the Early 2000's in space exploration


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not sure how to start this but here are the basics, i started working on this because i saw a gap in alt histories. most focused on apollo and the space shuttle, or around that time range, i however wanted to look into how nasa's constellation program and ISS program could have played out differently which made me mess around with concepts for a few months and finally without double checking things leading me to just post some stuff, i hope you enjoy and criticize  me because i know you will 

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January 16th 2003 cape Canaveral Florida

As the crew of sts 107 drove over to the launch site Lisa Smith head of the TPS-HSE program or “Thermal Protection System Heat Sensing Experiment program” Enters the program’s control room to begin turning on the experiment with her fellow colleagues. The TPS-HSE was an experiment that was built into the shuttle’s airframe and to NASA this was an experiment that looked to not pose any risk to other mission objectives and could give valuable data on reentry and accent heating on the tps, after all venture star was going to use it for its orbital test flight in two years time. The TPS-HSE had over two thousand sensors across Columbia's wings. The experiment would tap into the Extended Duration Orbiter Pallet in Columbia’s payload bay. Lisa Smith gave the command over the big loop to turn on the experiment around the L-20 minute mark. Columbia turned on its electrical systems early to accommodate the TPS-HSE. The launch director for sts 107 continued to check system until the L-10 minute mark when then he started to focus more on making sure experiment systems where ready for flight including centaur flight systems which where crucial on bringing TDRS-F to its geostationary orbit where it would communicate to STS orbiters on their missions. Charlie Pérez commander of sts 107 was given a go to start centaur fueling door closure. The CFD or Centaur Fueling door was implemented into all the shuttle orbiters in the late 1980’s for shuttle Centaur flights that require the Centaur to be fueled through the cargo bay doors with a launch tower side fueling arm which retracts 5 minutes before liftoff. Martin polo head of NASA, Sherly Thomas the 3rd ever director of the STS program, and Bob Stevens head of Lockheed martin all met in mission control Houston to watch the launch.

Rocket Physics, the Hard Way: Max q and Bernoulli's Principle
(above: space shuttle Columbia during max Q during sts 107)

10.. 9.. 8.. 7.. 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. “Lift off of the space shuttle Columbia on a mission to study life in space.” “Booster officer confirms good thrust on the shuttle’s two solid rocket motors.” Shortly after liftoff a foam strike was observed on Columbia by the booster officer and the strike was radioed into mission control Houston. The news got mission controllers  speculative of the state of the wing but no one seemed to think it could give reason for a abort. The teams at the TPS-HSE control room saw something much different, over 400 sensors went dead which made Lisa freeze in shock that the foam strike she heard of on the big loop could have pierced the leading edge of the wing. She quickly had her teams check where the sensors that failed where and sure enough all on the leading edge of the left wing. The crew of sts-107 were still oblivious to the foam strike and asked over the nets if Houston was still receiving communications after not hearing anything since their roll program. Cap-Com told 107 that they still had good comms and they were go to throttle up. For the last 20 seconds Lisa had been frantically talking to the flight director about the mission sensors. Flight director Harrison Taylor compared data and even got the booster officer involved over the next 30 seconds.

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