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back to article Ares 1-X booster rocket dented in test flight

The first stage booster rocket used in the Ares I-X test flight was found to be badly dented when it was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean. Ares 1-X was launched Wednesday to test the rocket's flight characteristics and hardware. NASA hopes Ares 1 will carry astronauts aboard the new Orion crew exploration vehicle back to the …

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Only 1 camera

You'd think they'd have more than 1 camera for a test launch that was so important for testing.

Not like they had to worry about extra weight when it wasn't an orbital flight.

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Pirate

Poor sinked ship

Of course they won't see what happened. After all the thip that was hit by the falling rocket sinked very quickly

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FAIL

Video.

How is it that NASA still can't deploy a fully functioning video system? The Discovery Channel and Mythbusters and Co. can stick a prosumer digital camera a couple dozen feet away from a metric ton of TNT and it'll not only survive the experience but come out of the ordeal never having lost the feet.

WTF, NASA?

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Silver badge

Altitude + falling + H2O = dents.

"so NASA is currently unable to determine whether the damage was caused by any of the rocket's three 150-foot-wide parachutes not properly inflating, the rocket hitting the ocean at an unexpected angle, or some other unknown issue Spaceflightnow reports."

Rocket science ... it's not just rocket science anymore, it's simple physics!

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ET?

Been involved in accident that wasn't your fault? Then phone us.

"So, Mr ET. You say that you were cruising along when suddenly this large rocket bounced off your front wing? The reg was NASA? We'll get our lawyers straight on it."

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Pint

Ouch!

Somewhere out there is a large whale with a very bad headache...

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Anonymous Coward

My money's on the sea

Still, I was most impressed to see the Ares 1-X fire up and fly first time, rather than doing a firework job on the pad. Looks like NASA still have at least a little rocket knowhow.

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Boffin

or some other unknown issue

My Money is on a bad seperation! the first stage was still connected to the upper simulator at the point the SRB Main Engine Cut Out - Probably due to there not being any engines on the simulator it was not able to pull away from the first stage, Additionally it also has a larger cross section therefore decellerates faster than the first stage due to atmospheric drag. therefore keeping the first stage pushed up tight.

When the Tumble Boosters fired the two stages were still connected which caused the whole craft to Bend whilst experiancing supersonic drag.. resulting in the big folding dents

To be honest Im surprised that this folding dent is all the damage there was!

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Troll

Clangers?

Clangers taking offence at us lobbing so much hardware into "their" orbit.

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Joke

Seagull?

I bets theres a really pissed of Albatross out there at the moment...

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Alert

Ouch!

"Well doctor, I was just minding my own business doing a bit of quiet filter feeding when something dropped out of the sky and hit me ... Where? Off the coast of Florida ... Oh I see. Just behind the blow-hole there's a bruise and a lump coming up ... yes quite a big one - I'm going to look like a humpback in the morning ... no I don't know what it was but it hurt like hell. "

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Gold badge
Coat

The word in the newsgroups is...

The 1-x stage (the only actual working bit) got wacked by the dummy upper stage / dummy crew module.

This is alarming but note the following.

1st stage had dummy 5th segment. This increasees weight but not thrust so seperation was at totally different height to real thing. Still in the atmosphere so dummy 2nd stage exposed to increased drag.

No ullage rockets on dummy 2nd stage to push it away, unlike real thing. They also settle propellants prior to engine start.

The test did demonstrate that a rocket with this high a length to diameter ratio was controllable and the range safety system did not cooked by the exhaust (at least it should when they examine it). which were concerns.

Overall people are skeptical the test vehicle was close enough to the actual design to prove much one way or the other.

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Have to agree..

..how can NASA not have more than 1 method (a camera) for sensing whats going on?

Come on NASA - stick a wii remote in the black box and you'll get some good info back.

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Big dent?

Shouldn't be a problem to fix, there must be dozens of body shops nearby with lots of experience fixing dents. They'll even match the paint color.

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Anonymous Coward

Second stage tumbled upon separation.

I remember noting that separation wasn't like the simulation I saw beforehand. In the simulation, the second stage carried on with unchanged orientation while the first stage tumbled.

The live pictures clearly showed both stages tumbling. You'd think that residual drag would help keep the second stage stable for a while, assuming a clean separation, despite it not having any gyros or other stabilisation. Mind you, I'm no expert on supersonic aerodynamics.

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Troll

I know what did it

It was SpaceBat, back from his glorious voyage.

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Alert

sinked

SANK!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Not sea impact.

This is the same SRB design that has been used over 100 times launching the Space Shuttle. They have been parachuting them into the sea and reusing them for decades now. Highly unlikely that that aspect of the test went amiss.

I agree with stress loads at separation. I don't know how much aerodynamic drag plays at that altitude or at those velocities, but they're pretty good about not taking everything into account in preflight simulations or post-flight data analysis.

I watched the press conference Thursday afternoon and they were discussing how, after all these shuttle flights, they came to the realization that they were not taking into account the stress on the sensors from vibrations of the structure on which they were mounted at launch when analyzing the launch data and, when they did, they discovered that the area in question was subjected to way more acoustic energy and aerodynamic stress that it was originally designed for. This was regarding the drag chute door loss during a recent shuttle launch.

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Thumb Down

That's it. Shut it down now!

"...they came to the realization that they were not taking into account the stress on the sensors from vibrations of the structure on which they were mounted at launch when analyzing the launch data and..."

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Silver badge

Bah!

The first dent in a new vehicle is always traumatic. After the next couple you get more laid back about it all.

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FAIL

Camera

If only they had attached a camera, they could have recor...... oh, never mind.

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Boffin

@ newsgroups..

It doesn'nt look like an impact dent! admittedly I've only seen the dive photos, but Id agree Lack of an ullage motor would keep the wider simulated stage pressed hard against the First stage even after engine burn out. there would be massive forces on the mount as the tumble boosters fired!

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Anonymous Coward

Pictures

Pictures here:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/ares1x/091029dent/

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Silver badge

@ Anonymous Coward

'This is the same SRB design that has been used over 100 times launching the Space Shuttle. They have been parachuting them into the sea and reusing them for decades now. Highly unlikely that that aspect of the test went amiss.'

It's a new parachute system to accommodate the greater weight of the fifth segment.

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FAIL

Obviously...

... they had only used a cheap cardboard tube. That is why they couldn't fly when it was "a bit cloudy". If only they'd bothered giving it a coat of Clearcote...

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Happy

Twas Godzilla...

playing kick the can.

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FAIL

must be an EPIC FAIL

I have to agree with various ACs about the seperation 'anomaly'

The whole 'ting bent in two at booster burnout and 'lo and behold, seconds after all video coverage was lost... I had a friend watching this and he commented... ahhh, we are now seeing pre-recorded footage... They even had to go thru the sick-making ceremony of awarding plaques etc afterwards.

EPIC FAIL I tells ya

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Gold badge
Happy

AC@14:06

"This is the same SRB design that has been used over 100 times launching the Space Shuttle. They have been parachuting them into the sea and reusing them for decades now. Highly unlikely that that aspect of the test went amiss."

Well that's the original justification for using this given in the ESAS study.

But in what has become NASA SOP there has been a bait and switch game. Shuttle standard SRB + expendable "low cost" SSME -> new 5 segment design with new parachute system (as Mike Richard pointed out) + new, lower performance "J2X" engine because an expendable SSME costs a hell of a lot more than an RS68 (which is what the J2X is roughly 80%made of).

Baysian statistics is a way of using already accumlated data to improve reliability assesments of future work. The question is *what *part of the SRB's reliability history does this thing inherit.

All of it (c200 individual firings) ? The bit after the joint redesign following Challenger?

Or nothing, as the changes brought about by adding the 5th still unfired segment (I have also seen claims the internal burn pattern and possibly the detailed propellant formulation are different to Shuttle SRBs) invalidate that history.

Note Checking the stats at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/launch/orbiter_flights.html

shows 127 flights and 2 failures. 127/2 is a 1 in 63.5 or 1.57% chance of failure. This is better than virtually *all* ELVs, except possibly some Russian launchers.

However Shuttle has lots more ways to fail. The Aerospace Corp study predicted 3 orbter losses by the end of the programme. I'm not sure NASA have fixed the foam shedding problem very well but personally I think the windscreens look *very* vulnerable on launch. Apollo took off with a cover shield on its windows, but that would be something else to replace, and how would the pilots see during an abort? Not to mention damaging its image as "Just like an aircraft."

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Re: Poor Sinked Ship

"Poor sinked ship #

By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 30th October 2009 06:59 GMT

Of course they won't see what happened. After all the thip that was hit by the falling rocket sinked very quickly."

Thip?? So, after the impact, the ship developed a lisp to Starboard?

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WTF?

You gents will have to take it from here...

I'm afraid we're in the process of creating our own version of the NHS on this side of the pond. So we'll have no money left over for cool nerdy stuff like rockets in space, or even less nerdy but still cool stuff like roads, bridges, and water pipes.

Moonbase Alpha is up to you UK. Do us proud.

Mines the one with the moon immigration visa and the 'learning conversational British' softcover in the pocket.

WTF icon: For what happened to the double ringed orbital station Arthur promised us in 2001. All I got was a floating six pack.

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Stop

never buy cameras on ebay

NASA should stop buying their kit off e-bay. 5 quid for proving that the video system was made by kids in some chinese sweatshop

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