back to article Blast-off! Boat free launch at last. Orion heads for space

NASA’s Mars-hopeful spacecraft Orion has successfully blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its first test flight, launching on time at 12.05pm GMT. Orion successfully launches on first test flight The agency’s first step towards reviving its manned space exploration programme went off without a hitch today, after a number of …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Pint

    Shortly after takeoff

    the cabin crew will pass amongst you with snacks and drinks.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Shortly after takeoff

      But they're still waiting for the small lemon-soaked paper napkins

      1. bazza Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Shortly after takeoff

        "But they're still waiting for the small lemon-soaked paper napkins"

        So whilst we're on that topic, just why was this particular universe created?!

        1. AbelSoul

          Re: Shortly after takeoff

          Don't forget your (hot) towel.

      2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: Shortly after takeoff

        "But they're still waiting for the small lemon-soaked paper napkins"

        They serve KFC on their flights? Now THAT is proper in flight catering!

  2. Esme

    Typo

    That's 'on cue' not 'on queue'. And Fahrenheit? Are you seriously telling me that NASA still works in Fahrenheit these days?!

    That said, well done all involved with the launch! Whilst my money's on SpaceX, it's still good to have options for putting things oop thar...

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Fahrenheit?

      'fraid so, yes. Also feet and inches, except for Mars orbit insertions which are measured in London Double-decker buses.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Fahrenheit?

        So what's the official Register unit for temperature? The Hilton (1H = 37C) ?

    2. D@v3
      Pint

      Re: Fahrenheit

      Apparently, they still work in miles so it's not all that surprising that they don't mix their measurement systems.

      Anyway, to hell with that. Congratulations on a successful launch

      1. PurpleMoneky
        Pint

        Re: Fahrenheit

        Speaking of measurements, their pint only contains 16 fluid ounces instead of 20.

        That's 5 American gallons to 4 Imperial - need to be careful when converting to liters for fuel!

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: Fahrenheit

          >liters for fuel!

          Litres... Litres...

        2. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          Re: their pint only contains 16 fluid ounces

          I guess that explains why a barman in Oakland responded to my request for a pint of Newcastle Brown (only place I ever saw it on draught) by asking if I'd like a large or a small pint. It seemed rather odd at the time.

          1. linicks

            Re: their pint only contains 16 fluid ounces

            Ha Ha. Years ago, being a dev. on a Quake2 game I was in IRC when a 'Murrican came in complaining some code he had done didn't work. I said don't use UPPERCASE - the function is case sensitive. His reply was "so I use small uppercase?".

            Heh

          2. kleinman

            Re: their pint only contains 16 fluid ounces

            As I heard it, the american pint is actually the "wine" pint, or 1/8 of the old "wine gallon" which was a measurement used a few centuries ago. As the british standardized the pint after the revolution it makes sense that the US would stick with the older version.

            1. Irony Deficient

              Re: their pint only contains 16 fluid ounces

              kleinman, yes, the US gallon is really Queen Anne’s wine gallon, which was established in England and its possessions in 1707 (Scotland had its own system of measurements) and was replaced by the Imperial system there in the 1820s.

        3. Irony Deficient

          Re: Fahrenheit

          PurpleMoneky, the US fluid ounce is slightly larger than the Imperial fluid ounce, so a closer rule of thumb would be six US gallons to five Imperial gallons.

        4. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: Fahrenheit

          Missed an opportunity to measure fuel in hogsheads (and consumption in hogsheads per league)

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: Fahrenheit

            Or rods to the bushel, as Abraham Simpson used to.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fahrenheit

        Don't mix measurement systems? I thought one of their Mars probe failures was down to one team interpreting "m" as miles and another as metres leading to descent boosters being fired at the wrong time.

        1. AIBailey

          Re: Fahrenheit

          "I thought one of their Mars probe failures was down to one team interpreting "m" as miles and another as metres leading to descent boosters being fired at the wrong time."

          Are you sure you're not getting the Mars probe confused with Jimbo? :)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimbo_and_the_Jet_Set

        2. Tom 13
          Devil

          Re: Don't mix measurement systems?

          We don't. It was the bit we outsourced to you Europeans that got all frelled.

    3. Johnr

      Re: Typo

      Are you seriously telling me that NASA still works in Fahrenheit these days?!

      Welcome to the USA . The tea partly would never tolerate any of that sciency Celsius stuff . If Fahrenheit was good enough for my pappy and his pappy it's good enough for me. What are you some kind of commie ?

      I can watch the launches from my back yard on a clear day (about 50km away) The best are the night launches because even at that distance it lights up the horizon like the sun coming up and you can follow the flame and see the boosters drop off with the naked eye.

      1. GrumpyOldMan

        Re: Typo

        The Americans don't have Europe to dictate what they can and can't do with their measurement systems. So they even use pounds and ounces. I still use feet and inches in preference - but at least we can still use miles. For now...

        And anyway - I'm not the teensiest weeniest littlest bit jealous that you can see then from your back yard. No, really. Git!

        1. Johnr

          Re: Typo

          Well it's 68 Fahrenheit (16 C) now heading to 80 (26 C) . Jealous now ?

          1. stuff and nonesense

            Re: Typo

            Hey John,

            you got your conversions wrong..

            68 F .....

            68 - 32 = 36

            36 * (5/9) = 20C

            80F

            80-32=48

            48 * (5/9) = 26.6C, 27 rounded correctly.

            26C is 78.8F

            The simple arithmetic..

            C = (F-32)*0.55555556

            F= (C/0.5555556)+32

            1. TheRealRoland

              Re: Typo

              yeah - rules of thumb I use when talking to peeps in Ye Olde Worlde are 16C = 61F; 20C = 68F; 25C = 77F; 38C = 100F

              But then when it's cold - it's very simple. 0F = -18C, 12F = -11C, 32F = 0C - anything below 0F converts to 'why again did i decide to live here?'

            2. Johnr

              Re: Typo

              Hey John,

              you got your conversions wrong..

              Why thank you professor. That will teach me to take the readings off my stupid cell phone switching from F to C .

              You nit with the pickiest

            3. Vic

              Re: Typo

              The simple arithmetic..

              C = (F-32)*0.55555556

              F= (C/0.5555556)+32

              It's a lot simpler to use the reciprocal of that constant :-

              F = (C*1.8) + 32

              C = (F-32) / 1.8

              Vic.

          2. Dr Paul Taylor

            Re: Typo

            I now have to translate from Fahrenheit phrasebook-style, so I happen to know that 68F=20C. I haven't got a clue what 40000F means, I just divide by 2. Negative F temps leave me completely flummoxed. Completely unsuitable for scientific or engineering use.

            1. Irony Deficient

              Re: Typo

              Dr Taylor, another handy °F-to-°C phrasebook-style scale translation is -40 °F = -40 °C. Combined with knowledge of the proportion of nine degrees Fahrenheit to five kelvin, deflummoxation is certainly within reach.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Typo

          Canada doesn't have Europe telling us what we can't and can't do either. In fact, we usually have America trying to do that.

          We still chose the metric system, like rational people.

      2. Hud Dunlap
        FAIL

        @Johnr Stupid slam on the Tea Party

        The fight against metic has been going on since the seventies at least. Some money was spent on road signs in MPH and KMH. Huge reluctance to switch. The Union people ( absolutely not members of the Tea Party) are just as adamant against it. I was installing some equipment years ago and the Union Rigger asked me what height the feet needed to be set at. I said 50mm and he got his tools and left.

        As a practical matter just think of the cost to change everything in the NASA data bases. It is just not cost effective. I am sure at some point it will have to be done but that is a long way off and it will be a huge and expensive project.

        1. Johnr

          Re: @Johnr Stupid slam on the Tea Party

          Don't have your snark radar on today do we? Go pound sand . Regardless of how long 'mericans have been fighting metric , the Tea party and the Republicans are vehemently anti science ...

          http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/most-anti-science-lawmakers-running-office

        2. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: @Johnr Stupid slam on the Tea Party

          I'm willing to bet that he agreed to be paid in metric US dollars

        3. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: @Johnr Stupid slam on the Tea Party

          Only an idiot would do the conversion - or a simple piece of code. It shouldn't matter a toss which system you use - or both.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

      and other "english" measurements because we were not stupid enough to fall for your "metric" ruse. The take up of metric is a conspiracy foisted on the rest of the world to gain a competitive advantage by forcing US manufacturers to change all their tooling. This would have cost the US trillions, and had no other benefit besides "similarity" of units.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

        >This would have cost the US trillions

        Wrong way round, it would generate trillions in new business.

        1. pseudonymous blowhard

          Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

          >>This would have cost the US trillions

          >Wrong way round, it would generate trillions in new business.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

      2. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

        Quite right. Its cost us a fortune here in Blighty too.

        And the trouble is, to satisfy political correctness or whatever none of the kids at school get to learn anything about imperial units, let alone that a very substantial part of the world still uses them.

        Including an awful lot of stuff here in the uk.

        Still, working in tens is much easier. Or so I'm told. But don't tell the kids that. They still think they can add up (in tens) but usually can't. As for eights and sixteenths....

        ...RANT... splutter....

        Anyways, you Merkins are heretics as well, with your mertic dollar. Years ago, when I was a lad, we had REAL money, pounds shillings and pence, but things like furniture, fridges and cars were sold in guineas. Used to confuse you lot no end.

        1. Martin 47

          Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

          You do know that the metric system has far more advantages than just counting in 10's don't you?

        2. linicks

          Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

          Great post - my first (and only dog) cost 21 guineas - and race horses today are still sold using them.

          Reminds me of that old quiz thing in the '70s that had questions relating to old money that added up to a total... i.e. pluto, neptune and saturn = 3 farthings etc.

        3. Irony Deficient

          Re: Typo? No, they use Fahrenheit

          PNGuinn, the reason we became monetarily heretical was because by the time the Treaty of Paris was signed, we had five different £sd systems in place among the states — as with regional measurement systems in many European countries, it was easier to adopt a new system than to reconcile all of the old ones. There were still $-to-£sd tables published into the 1850s, as people even then still tended to reckon in their state’s particular £sd system, and new states often adopted the system where their earliest anglophone colonists came from; Texas was the newest state that I’d seen with a $-to-£sd conversion rate (it followed the system of Virginia and New England).

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

          What about the farthings? How else would you buy candy and ale?

        5. Vic
          Joke

          Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

          As for eights and sixteenths....

          A surprising number of teenagers are really quite good with eighths and sixteenths...

          Vic.

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Typo? No, they use Farhenheit

        and other "english" measurements

        Fahrenheit was German...

    5. PNGuinn
      Coat

      Re: Typo

      ok wiseguy.

      So whats the temperature of a sheep in a vacuum then?

      In el Reg units if you please.

      1. VinceH Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Typo

        What type of vacuum?

        Upright? Bagless? Cyclone?

        Does the brand matter? Hoover? Electrolux? Dyson?

        Not enough detail!

        1. PNGuinn
          FAIL

          Re: Typo

          Those are NOT el REG units, are they???

        2. Frankee Llonnygog

          Re: Typo

          I always wondered why a certain brand of vacuum has a smiley face on the front ...

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: Typo

        So whats the temperature of a sheep in a vacuum then?

        With the assumption of a soon-to-be-dead sheep placed into a vacuum, 1.90° Hn on average.

        Sources:

        Average body temperature of a sheep

        The Reg online standards converter

    6. Just Enough

      Re: Typo

      I expect that NASA, in common with most of the international scientific community, work to metric and Celsius. But their PR department translates everything in releases to pander to American fondness for antiquated systems. Otherwise they're likely to be called communists, or something.

    7. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Typo

      NASA works in Celsius & meters. NASA PR has to work in Fahrenheit & feet/miles because the American public is a complete sack of retards (like that's a news flash)

      1. Johnr

        Re: Typo

        'Tards? We are too ! We sit around all day and have our brains calcified by Rupert Murdoch's dumbing down media arms of Fox News and the Murdoch Street Journal.

        I know you lot suffer too in the UK with him doing his best to divide and stupify

    8. Fink-Nottle
      Coat

      Re: Typo

      > my money's on SpaceX

      Hehe. Given the context, I read that as "my monkey's on SpaceX" ...

      Also; isn't determination of the temperature of a sheep in a vacuum known as baarometerics?

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Great news

    Fingers crossed that the next few hours go as well. BUT...surely there must be a better way to get a load into orbit and beyond than shoving it on top of a giant V2 stuffed with liquid oxygen and hydrogen?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Great news

      Given the target escape velocity is somewhere in the 20,000 mph range, you know anything else with enough force?

      1. TheRealRoland

        Re: Great news

        Lots of rubber bands?

        (I unfortunately had to watch Discovery Channel's Punkin' Chuckin' program... Trebuchets are cool though.)

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Great news

          They're not rubber bands, they're continuous elastomer retaining devices.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Great news

      There is. NASA are testing the giant space trampoline next month.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Great news

        "There is. NASA are testing the giant space trampoline next month."

        No good for anything on the surface. Plus the acceleration is limited to about 3-4Gs which means it has to be able to exert a lower force for a longer period of time and still get up to escape velocity. And since AFAWK imparting force on an object takes a reactive mass, we're kind of low on options.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Great news

      Yep.

      A giant V2 filled with liquid oxygen and kerosene.

    4. Florida1920 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Great news

      surely there must be a better way to get a load into orbit and beyond than shoving it on top of a giant V2 stuffed with liquid oxygen and hydrogen?

      Yes, but the blasted rubber bands keep breaking.

      One with the slingshot in the pocket.

    5. Dave Bell

      Re: Great news

      Yes.

      There's even a song about it.

      Kantrowitz 1972 (HEL Crew's Song)

      Plenty of sites claim to have recordings and videos, but it's not for nothing that it's known as the net of a million lies.

  4. Richy Freeway

    Fahrenwhatnow?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's the ideal measurement for rockets: far-in-height.

      I'll just pick up my coat...

  5. aBloke FromEarth
    WTF?

    Degrees

    Fahrenheit? Really? I believe it's orbiting 12.5 million cubits above the surface too.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Degrees

      Celsius is just as unscientific really. Do you cook your dinner at 463K?

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Degrees

        "Celsius is just as unscientific really. Do you cook your dinner at 463K?"

        When you can add a constant offset to a temperature in Celsius to get one in Kelvin, I'll agree.

        1. Richard Altmann

          Re: Degrees

          0 Celsius is when water changes from being liquid to being solid.

          100 Celsius is when water changes from being liquid to being a gas.

          That´s at sea level.

          Its the most precise measurement there is since water can not be compressed.

          I prefer the english mile when it comes to distances but Celsius when talking about temperatures

        2. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Degrees

          >>When you can add a constant offset to a temperature in Celsius to get one in Kelvin, I'll agree.

          y = mx + c is hardly complex maths.

          1. Vic

            Re: Degrees

            y = mx + c is hardly complex maths.

            Particularly when m=1...

            Vic.

    2. calmeilles
      Coat

      Re: Degrees

      And re-entry speed of 53.76 megafurlongs* per fortnight.

      (* Yes, I know.)

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Degrees

      How many bushels of fuel was it carrying?

      1. linicks

        Re: Bushels

        Well, that is dodgy - bushel is a unit of dry volume - but the excellent 'units' program for *nix reveals:

        You have: 29.2 tonnes%%

        You want: bushels

        conformability error

        29200 kg

        0.03636872 m^3

        You have: 29.2 tonnes

        You want: ounces

        * 1029999.7

        / 9.7087408e-07

        %% struggled to actually get the weight of fuel here

  6. Philanthropic Philanderer

    Given the current frosty relations with Russia, does the launch of Orion signal that NASA (/USA) is now one step closer to having their own launch vehicle, once more?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Not Orion. That's not designed for ferry work to the ISS. And I'm not sure they're due to fly it again until they've built the new rocket to go with it.

      NASA are paying Boeing and SpaceX for manned deliveries to the ISS. SpaceX unveiled the Dragon 2 about 3 months ago. I don't know when they plan to test it though. They've got all sorts of stuff to get done before they can get a whole stack man-rated.

      There's still a few years to go of relying on Soyuz. Currently only China and Russia have anything they're willing to fly people in.

  7. PurpleMoneky
    Pint

    And another thing...

    American "pints" only contain 16 fluid ounces, not 20 as proper British ones do.

    That means that 5 of their gallons is the same as 4 of ours, so watch out for them calculating gallons of fuel for these flights!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And another thing...

      Not quite ... the US and imperial fluid ounces are also subtlety different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And another thing...

        A bit like the difference between "subtlety" and "subtly"?

        1. Andy E
          Coat

          Re: And another thing...

          Were the Three Degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius?

          I'll get my coat (humming "When Will I See You Again")

          1. TitterYeNot
            Coat

            Re: And another thing...

            "Were the Three Degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius?"

            yeah, that always gets me confused when people talk about six degrees of separation.

            <Ahem>

            Anyway, back to the Fahrenheit scandal - this being El Reg, shouldn't we be using Vindaloos as the unit of re-entry hotness...

      2. Toltec

        Re: And another thing...

        " the US and imperial fluid ounces are also subtlety different."

        I never realised that, have an upvote for addding another trivia quiz, fact into my head.

  8. Mage Silver badge

    I wonder ...

    Will India or China be first with someone on Mars?

    1. OrientalHero

      Re: I wonder ...

      China is set on the Moon, India seems to be set on Mars.

      Prior to those objectives, the US was doing long term biomes and the Russians were investigating year long zero g both of which could have been focused on the roughly 9 month trip to Mars.

      But how come no-one's tried Venus?

      1. linicks

        But how come no-one's tried Venus?

        Because it is about 400 deg. C and about 100 earth atmospheres at surface... plus 200/250 mph winds of dodgy acid type stuff.

        Soviet Venus images

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: I wonder ...

      Neither, North Korea already has a base there (at least according to their state television), and they made the trip on unicorns.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder ...

      India has a space programme and the uk does not. Guess which country gives overseas aid money to the other one?

  9. linicks

    Video

    Fantastic on board camera video here:

    Orion launch

    1. Julz

      Re: Video

      Looks like my ksp mun rocket...

  10. LucreLout Silver badge
    Pint

    Rather than....

    ...bicker about temperature scales, units of weight or measurement, or vaccuum packed sheep, as many fine commentards before me have that covered in some depth, I'll just say that I'm starting to get really excited about the planned moon mission that is just a few years away. A manned mission to Mars I'm not quite ready to believe in just yet.

    The technology improvements should ensure some amazing lunar video feeds and absolutely spectacular photography. The only bit I'm not excitied about is the inevitable "Mans first tweet/farcebook post from the moon".

    Well done NASA - lets hope this is the first of many successful launches!

  11. davcefai

    Project Name

    Isn't it a shame that they called it "Orion"?

    As far as I am aware "Orion" was the name given to the concept of nuclear pulse propulsion where a rocket would be propelled by small nuclear explosions "pushing" on a plate at the back of the craft.

    Has anybody read Larry Niven's "Footfall"? An Orion craft spearheads the best space battle I have ever read.

    1. Richard Altmann

      Re: Project Name

      "Footfall" is a read that goes into your brain and never leaves your unconsciousness. More of a horror than sci-fi. "Raumpatrouille Orion" (1962)was a sci-fi series and a german prodcution. Pre Star Trek(1963), in black in white. A must see, even if it is in german. For the germans "Orion" is a spacecraft that goes beyond borders.

  12. CJ_in_AZ

    I'm just glad to see that the government is doing something useful with at least a little of my tax dollars, instead of squandering it all on [anti]social programs. (I'm in the US, so I spell "program" correctly -- and know that there's no "u" in "color".)

    1. Richard Altmann

      you´re paying

      tax dollars? You don´t know what taxes are

  13. Richard Altmann

    Why

    should a space vehicle come back to earth once it´s up there? What about a modular system? First you send unmanned habitats to mars. Then you send fuel modules and a landing module into an orbit around Mars. A launch system to Mars. Then you shoot the astronauts in that radiation hardened box into an orbit to Mars and they dock to the landing module circling the planet. Once they are done with planting their Stars and Stripes Banner ( well, that scene could be easily captured in a Hollywood Studio) they walk over to the launch module and lift off into Mars orbit and connect to the fuel module and their radiation hardened box which gives them enough umph to enter into an Earth orbit. Some of these russian capsules come to pick them up there and bring the astronauts safely home by parasuit. The main obsticale of space faring is to overcome Earth´s gravitation and reentry into the atmosphere. Both seem to be overcome since at least 40 years. But again, why should a spacecraft, once its up there have to come back to Earth? There is no need of heatshielding a Spacecaft for example. Repairs and resupply can be done "cheaply" in orbit. No need to send another manned vehicle to intersolar exploration with all this expensive stuff all the time. I would really like to discuss this.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Why

      Routine maintenance, mostly. Kinda hard to service a ship when it's out at sea, for example. Similarly, a spacecraft is difficult to maintain while it's out in space. A lot of the stuff you need to do a good job is stuck on Earth.

    2. Sean H

      Re: Why

      Seconded, why? Orion in this article at least is billed as something for going to Mars. I've seen NASA videos suggesting a return to the moon using Orion, and a trip to Mars using it. But it's got return-to-earth heatshielding, so it's clearly (also? instead?) good for returning from (say) the ISS to earth.

      That doesn't make it a ship for going to the moon or Mars. The notion of several vehicles seems to have been forgotten along the way. What about Buzz Aldrin's Mars Recycler concept?

      Which all leads me to believe that Orion is just an overpriced earth orbit round trip crew container, and all the rest was added to get the funding. It will never go to the moon, never mind Mars. Or Venus, for those still keen.

  14. Richard Altmann

    And then...

    Where is the Space Elevator?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And then...

      Still waiting on a material that can reliably handle being flung about the planet while able to handle the massive tension needed to make it viable under working conditions (mostly its own weight). Have you ever measured a 25,000-mile-long piece of string? That's below the LOW end of the weight involved.

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