Have they checked that all the bolts are present and tight?
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a nice snap of a rather lonely figure in a chemical suit fuelling the ExoMars mission's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), due to launch between 14–25 March 2016 from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Man in chemical suit fuelling the TGO. Pic: ESA Easy does it. Pic: TAS-F / Y. Le Marchand ESA …
NASA were the ones who stoofed into the surface of Mars when they got their units mixed up.
You say NASA, but the root cause was that NASA's contractor who incorrectly wrote the software. NASA specified metric to Lockheed Martin for the Mars Climate Orbiter; NASA wrote navigational software expecting metric; Lockheed signed the contract and accepted the software interface specification calling for metric. Lockheed then delivered results in US customary units.
Some blame does fall on NASA in that two of its navigators were reporting that the MCO a bit off course earlier in the flight after trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs) 2 and 3. After TCM-4, there was a week's period where calculations were clearly showing MCO was coming in below the target 226km altitude, with estimates of 150 to 170km - which is a huge error by NASA's navigational standards. 24 hours before orbital insertion, updated calculations were showing a pass as low as 110km, and the MCO could only handle 80km at the worst. The flight plan offered a chance for TCM-5, but the MCO team held a meeting and decided the situation wasn't bad enough for that.
Then MCO buzzed Mars at 57km, supplementing an out-of-the-envelope aerobraking maneuver with an unscheduled lithobraking maneuver. The root of that error is Lockheed, though, not NASA.
Have they checked that all the bolts are present and tight?
Heh, those stands do bring to mind the NOAA mess.
But, sidebar question: two of the early comments on this thread regard early 2000s goofs by Lockheed Martin Aerospace division, it's unplanned shock testing of a NOAA weather satellite and the incineration of the Mars Climate Orbiter. What do either of those have to do with a spacecraft built by Thales Alenia and launched on a Rooskie rocket?
When it comes to lovely chemicals I'd highly recommend the "stuff I won't work with" series bij Derek Lowe; http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/category/things-i-wont-work-with
Start with: "Sand won't save you this time" http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2008/02/26/sand_wont_save_you_this_time
Highly entertaining stuff, even for those of us with no background in chemicals. If you've had basic high-school level chemistry lessons you'll understand enough for it to be highly cringe/laughter inducing.
---> I'll be wearing mine, thank you.
as a general comment, I've personally known too many people killed, blinded or otherwise injured as the result of getting nitrogen chemistry wrong
and too many plants demolished........in this country alone we had three in the 1980's in just a few years: Fine Organics, Wendstone, Mostyn Chemicals. All blown to pieces
Surely there's a simple solution to this. Rocket fuel is dangerous. It's messy, and expensive to deal with. And some of them even eat their way through the fuel tanks.
Surely the only possible answer can be Project Orion. Totally safe. If we use only the finest neutron bombs that money can buy and launch from somewhere like Croydon, who could object? The bonus being that we could have a space hotel by simply cutting the foundations of a local Travelodge, bunging a big old metal plate underneath, and whoosh!
Croydon has never stopped going downhill since they built the Whitgift Centre in the '60s, I wonder how much MMH it would take to launch all of it to rendezvous with Mars?
Highly reactive nasty chemicals are often handy for rockets, less so for humans, I bet that guy fueling the probe has high insurance premiums.
Good Lord. I'm reading your excellent post and wondering if someone has restored an unauthorised tape backup of my brain.
Neutron bombs? No, no, a thousand tiny selectable-yield H-bombs all alike.
And if you proposed taking off from Croydon, I'd object: that's close enough to where I live to mess up my TV reception.
We had the 35ft IOR sailboat I crewed on up on stands at Berkeley Marina to strip the bottom and repaint it before the start of the racing season. Bloke from the marina walks up, looks at the paint and says "Are any of you guys planning to father children?" We kind of stood there thinking, W-T-F over?
He then quipped, "Using that stuff you'll never father children".
And I never have (to my knowledge!!)
I'm guessing this stuff is designed from theory - someone works out what they want and how to make it and then gets on with it.
I cant imagine making this stuff by pouring shit into spirally glassware and laughing deeply is going to have a low enough mortality rate to get very far.
Very close to the original :
"(Chlorine trifluoride) is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem.It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water —with which it reacts explosively."
Ignition! by J.D. Clark, a very good read even if you're not really into chemistry :)
"I cant imagine making this stuff by pouring shit into spirally glassware and laughing deeply is going to have a low enough mortality rate to get very far."
Well actually.......this hydrazine rocket technology goes back to the 1930's in Germany and I strongly suspect that to a large extent the research was fairly empirical, with many resultant mishaps. Remember they had plenty of research workers whose lives didn't matter. Or rather, didn't matter to the Germans.
Nowadays things are done more safely - partly due to those who died
In another thread recently someone quoted how many had died during the V2 manufacturing and research projects
There was I thinking that "Project Orion" (ie nuclear pulse jet) was dangerous.
The big reason other than the CTBT why this was stopped was the risk of the small nuclear pulse units (basically itty bitty nuclear warheads) getting into the wrong hands.
Making them on board using berkelium to lower the yield and also make them essentially fail-safe because the half life is so short is doable, in fact I sent some notes about it to NASA and other agencies along with the schematics and calculations.
Essentially my modified design plates about a 250um thick layer of BkFx onto the outside of the normally sub-critical plutonium spheroid, and uses a modification I invented to overcome the need for a bulky and dangerous Po+Be initiator which is the subject of a patent search.
Also because the lasers are what ignites the explosive lenses if something goes wrong nothing happens instead of a fizzle or at worst a <10t yield which is well within the capabilities of a properly designed refractory ejection tube.
The pulse unit I designed is about the size of a coffee cup and despite this has a 220t maximum yield (ie enough for about an Isp of ten times a Saturn V)
Should be enough to get to Mars in about 8 months or less, with the engines running at 25% of maximum power detonating about one pulse unit every 5 minutes with a total fuel usage about equal to 500 kilos of Pu.
Hi, am hesitant to mention *how* I overcame the need for a neutron initiator, but the method I have invented is completely novel and also guarantees that it won't go fizzle unless both systems work correctly.
Can someone who has clearance please contact me via "unverfied_third_party" (you know how, check database) as its important at this point to establish priority and ensure it doesn't get into the wrong hands due to inadequate encryption/etc. Its on an airgapped machine at the moment and backed up on A4 as well just in case.
Also apologies for earlier babbling about ZPMs, essentially it will work but not with technology we will have for at least 20-30 years.
For all the hand wringing about MMH, one should remember that the venerable F-16 powers its APU with MMH. The ground crew need to refuel the planes if there has been an in-flight problem where the APU is needed. And accidents do happen refuelling. Apparently MMH bleaches shirts and stings eyes and skin. Then results is a week of daily hospital checkups.
The stuff is perfectly storeable (unlike most fuels typically used in rockets themselves), so no harm in this regard. It's also not explosive at all, as long as it does not come into contact with each other, which I assume the engineers went to great lengths to make sure won't happen.
As for why it is done so much in advance, a satellite is typically given its last checkup and sanitization (there is a policy to protect space bodies from contamination with Earth bacteria, especially restrictive in case of a place where they could possibly survive, such as Mars), and encased in the fairing (along with filling said fairing with something neutral, often helium) long before it is launched. The main reason I think is that considering how finicky the whole "launching stuff into orbit on top of a giant can of explosives" stuff is, it's nice to have variable less to worry about on the final stretch of preparations.
I went into the comments section expecting to feel forced to respond to misconceptions of people surprised that not everything spacey can run on solar panels and coconut water. Instead I found references to one of my favorite books (Ignition!) and favorite blog posts (the "things I won't work with" stuff). I think I'm in love with this website and its commentards.
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