back to article It's not rocket science! Actually it is, and it's been a busy frickin week

Russia and China celebrated a pair of successful launches this week, with a Rockot booster placing Sentinel-3B into orbit while China's Long March 11 lobbed five imaging sats into space. The launch for the European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday evening from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome added to the growing Copernicus fleet with a …

  1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

    Swords to Plowshares

    Originally designed for carrying nuclear warheads... the Rockot ...shepherd[ed] the satellite into an orbit approximately 800 km above the surface of the Earth.

    I much prefer this use over the original. Drinks all around.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The four solid fueled stages are estimated to be able to lift a payload of 1,000 kg into orbit."

    How do they achieve an accurate orbital insertion with no throttling ability at all?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Several centuries of experience with solid fuelled rockets?

      1. handleoclast

        Re: Several centuries of experience with solid fuelled rockets?

        They invented gunpowder, which they used to make the kind of thing people launch up into the sky on November 5th, although the original purpose was more likely to have been warfare.

        1. teknopaul Silver badge

          re: more likely to have been warfare

          I believe the oposite...

          Taoist alchemists looking for elixir of eternal life.

          Per the Tao of Pooh & Te of Piglet. Probably reliable.

    2. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Liquid fueled thrusters

      If the main stages are all solid fuel then the final stage (or the payload) has to have liquid fueled thrusters to make up for the inevitable inaccuracies in the solid fuel stages. (A few kilograms of fuel on a 1000kg satellite can make up for a considerable inaccuracy in the main stages burns. As the satellite is already in orbit, high powered rockets are not needed - just relatively large fuel tanks.)

    3. cray74

      How do they achieve an accurate orbital insertion with no throttling ability at all?

      Selective steering to waste energy? You don't have to follow an optimal, energy-minimizing flight path to orbit if you have excess solid fuel to burn. You can take flight paths with unnecessarily high or low inclinations, or even use "energy management maneuvers" like Lockheed-Martin's THAAD.

      And the final satellite, if not an upper orbit insertion stage, will be able to throttle and maneuver to a desired orbit.

  3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Sea launch

    I wonder if this means that they've nabbed the assets of the now defunct Sea Launch company.

  4. nagyeger

    Is it rocket science?

    Having wielded the rocket equation a few times, I think it's the rocket engineering (and orbital mechanics and re-entry maths) that are the really hard bit(s).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it rocket science?

      It's Kerbalistic!

    2. annodomini2

      Re: Is it rocket science?

      In the '50s and '60s it really was rocket science, now it's rocket engineering as the base principals are well understood.

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Long March is launched via a Barking Dog?

  6. F111F

    Missed One...

    (Cough) NewShepard (cough)

  7. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    Can the Sentinel 3B environmental monitoring satellite detect...

    ...that the Arctic ocean is becoming littered with ex-SS-19 (a.k.a. UR-100NU, 15A35) intercontinental ballistic missile boosters leaking left-over hydrazine into the environment?

    Ref 'The News': "The launch vessel, a former SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile, is powered by hydrazine - a fuel so toxic and carcinogenic that almost every space program in the world, including Russia's, no longer uses it. The spent rocket stage is expected to contain up to a tonne of unused hydrazine."

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