General Space Discussion (Thread 1)


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25 minutes ago, Beittil said:

Dang, tonights Ariane 5 mission may have failed. That could have serious repercussions for BepiColumbo and JWST. 

Wouldn't doubt it.  At least with the JWST ... there is time to figure out what went wrong and take corrective actions.  Not sure about BepiColumbo and how pushing back its launch date would affect its mission to Mercury.

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Contact reestablished with both birds. They were released into orbit at the correct times. Still gathering info as to the orbit parameters, but at this point they should be more or less okay. Arianespace had better thank their lucky [expletive] stars that this one didn't fail ... sheesh, what a nail-biter.

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That would still give equal risk of something going wrong on the ride uphill tbh... 

 

I mean the more rockets the merrier but just because it is domestic doesn't mean it is suddenly free of risk. 

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True, but all else being equal higher flight rates tend to reduce risk and several US launchers (not just SpaceX) are likely to have insane flight rates. 

 

Another wrinkle related to rate,

 

The convention thinking rap on Falcon Heavy, BFR, New Glenn CV and New Armstrong, Vulcan etc. has been "Why so large? There aren't any payloads that big!. Unnecessary!!" 

 

Apparently the science community has been paying attention to the development of these super-heavy launchers, and is thinking about those big payloads.

 

From Science.org

 

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/successful-test-fire-massive-falcon-heavy-rocket-poised-boost-space-science

 

Quote


With successful test fire, massive Falcon Heavy rocket is poised to boost space science

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said he'll consider it a win if his enormous new Falcon Heavy rocket even escapes the launch pad. Today, the rocket fired its engines in a test at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, clearing the way for an inaugural launch in the coming weeks. Space scientists will be rooting for it, too. With its heavy-lift capability, the rocket can fling larger probes to distant planets more quicklyand, perhaps, more cheaplythan previous rockets.

"We can think about follow-up missions across the outer solar system, Mars sample return, even missions to Venus or Mercury," says planetary scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, 
>
...It says a Falcon Heavy launch will start at a mere $90 million, less than 20% of the Delta IV Heavy's cost.

Such price tags could transform mission planning for NASA and other space agencies, Stern says. "You're talking about savings of hundreds of millions of dollars, which is sufficient to create whole new missions just from the savings."
>
Other possible targets for Falcon Heavy include Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus and the ice giants Neptune and Uranus. Stern, who leads a NASA mission that flew past Pluto in 2015, says teams are considering using the rocket to send a probe with enough fuel to slow down and orbit the distant world. SpaceX has said that Falcon Heavy could deliver 2 to 4 tons to the surface of Marsopening the way to more ambitious missions than the 1-ton Curiosity rover.

Astronomers are also thinking about what heavy lift can do for them. Each component of NASA's upcoming 6.2-ton James Webb Space Telescope, with a 6.5-meter mirror, had to be both lightweight and yet hardy enough to withstand rigorous shaking during launch, two often incompatible requirements. With Falcon Heavy's additional lift, researchers planning the Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor telescope, a proposed mission for the 2020s with a mirror at least 9 meters across, could focus less on reducing weight and more on delivering a great scientific instrument, says Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C. "If we don't have to fight for mass, the testing is greatly simplified and you can launch more ambitious systems."
>
SpaceX's big rocket will face competition in the coming years, and not just from the SLS. Another private company, Blue Origin, intends to debut its reusable New Glenn rocket in 2020, and ULA is working on a vehicle called Vulcan. The competition could lower prices for researchers, says Phil Larson, an aerospace expert at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a former communications director at SpaceX. "You could see not just governments having space programs, but private entities doing more in space, and maybe universities," he says.
>

Edited by DocM
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Oh dear. :no: That's gonna put Arianespace in the hurt locker. Wonder if they got useful telemetry from the S2 when it faulted?

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Anyway, WRT Falcon Heavy, it opens up a lot of missions that just weren't possible before, as @DocM mentioned, especially ones that were limited by launch costs. And this is before discussing whether or not a SpaceX-designed kicker stage enters the mix -- which can and should be considered, imo. 

 

The other in-work launchers (as @DocM mentioned) all have their uses too in that regard; but what most of us really want to see are the OPO (Outer Planet Orbiter) missions -- Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto-Charon. Nice, beefy, loaded-up Class A+ platforms that'll spend a dedicated 10+ years at each planet. The only really cost-viable SHLV that's appropriate to handle launching the OPO mission series would be BFR. SLS I wouldn't even bother considering at this point; it's a complete waste of materials and engineering. BFR is completely reusable, just gotta buy the fuel and pay SpaceX for the services.

 

Yeah ... plenty to come down the pike. FH is cool, and opens up a ton of great missions that can be done as well as opening up a whole tree of possible options and additions to the platform. I'd like to see a Kicker Stage option to boost the weight an EET (Earth Escape Trajectory) bird can be.

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I understand SLS delays have managers and the administration reconsidering it launching  the Europa Clipper mission, and sending the Deep Space Gateway's Power Propulsion Element uphill in Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2).  The alternatives are commercial birds like FH, New Glenn, BFR, Vulcan etc.

 

If SLS loses them it's a major blow to the entite program.

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25 minutes ago, Unobscured Vision said:

I'd like to see a Kicker Stage option to boost the weight an EET (Earth Escape Trajectory) bird can be.

kicker stage being an extra stage before/after the second stage?

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14 minutes ago, anthdci said:

kicker stage being an extra stage before/after the second stage?

A tug above the second stage, like Russia's Fregat or Rocket Lab's Curie.

 

More on Ariane 

 

https://www.geo.tv/latest/178742-ariane-5-satellites-in-orbit-but-not-in-right-location

 

For nearly 30 minutes mission controllers were left on tenterhooks when the rocket lost contact in what CEO Stephane Israel described as an "anomaly".



But the team later received good news when the satellites chirped into contact.

"Both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit," Arianespace said in an updated statement after the initial lift-off scare.

The French-headquartered company said a tracking station in Brazil was unable to track the craft shortly after ignition of the rocket´s upper stage.

"This lack of telemetry lasted throughout the rest of powered flight," the statement said. But both satellites were later "communicating with their respective control centres".

But a source told AFP the satellites did not detach from the rocket in the correct place after the craft followed an "imperfect trajectory".

Arianespace said they were currently "repositioning the satellites in the right place using their propulsion systems" adding that the current status was "reassuring after strong concerns".

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If the trajectory is off, doesn't that mean there was another problem with the rocket besides the telemetry? 

 

I would think the computers on board should have been able to keep launch on the right track irregardless of the telemetry issue. 

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3 hours ago, flyingskippy said:

If the trajectory is off, doesn't that mean there was another problem with the rocket besides the telemetry?  

Yes.

3 hours ago, flyingskippy said:

I would think the computers on board should have been able to keep launch on the right track irregardless of the telemetry issue. 

Depends on the issue.

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Depends on the launcher. Soyuz uses a rotating launch table to set the azimuth plus inertial, Falcons use precision GPS with an accuracy of <1 meter. The record for an F9 landing was 0.6m.

 

More troubling news on the Ariane 5 front.

 

 

 

 

 

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I'd really love to know what happened here. Then I'd be in a better place to comment on what should happen next.

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On second thought, I think this is great news for the JWST mission.  I agree with Ethan Siegal's tweet ... at least this issue appeared with VA-241 and not further down the road (say the JWST mission).  This gives ESA/CNES/etc time to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent future anomalies.  Ariane has had a very high success rate ... and I'm not sure of any delivery systems that have been foolproof (heck SpaceX destroyed a satellite without even launching).  Space is hard...

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I have to agree here. Space is difficult, and I'm a fan of all space programmes, of whatever size. They'll figure out what happened and press on -- and I also agree that it was better to have something like this happen now rather than on the JWST launch.

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Well ... at least this an inexpensive fix and an error that didn't result in loss of payload (like the Mars Climate Orbiter).

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15 minutes ago, Jim K said:

Well ... at least this an inexpensive fix and an error that didn't result in loss of payload (like the Mars Climate Orbiter).

Depending on the definition of "inexpensive" ... nothing is inexpensive when it concerns Space. :laugh:

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