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Space Science

NASA Satellite Un-stranded 21

Posted by michael
from the get-out-and-push dept.
Ronnie Coote writes "In March, a previous article mentioned that NASA's latest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (used for communications between Shuttle, Space Station, ground, etc) had been stranded in a low orbit due to fuel leaking from its tanks. Well, thanks to the hard work of Boeing and NASA boffins, it's now reached geostationary orbit and "expected to fulfill its contractually required 15-year service life". More details from Boeing."
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NASA Satellite Un-stranded

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  • by isorox (205688) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @12:41PM (#4381274) Homepage Journal
    unfortunatly my first post was routed through this satelite, and got stranded inbetween the tv and 802.11b antennas
  • Ignoring the fact that I do not know whether "pressurant" is a real word or not, the fact that they were able to (ala Star Trek Enterprise, which could apparently reroute damn near anything through and to anything) "reroute" the pressurant around a blocked valve is a pretty cool thing. Promote that guy to Chief Trilithium Engineer!!

    (I registered just so I can moderate. Bahaha. )
  • by Observer (91365) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @02:42PM (#4382439)
    The problem was not a leaking fuel tank. The Boeing press release linked in the /. story (it's only a few hundred words, for pity's sake) says clearly that the problem was that the pressurant (that is, the thing that pushes the fuel out of the tank to the motor) didn't get to the tank, because of a blockage in a valve.

    But all kudos to the engineers from Boeing and NASA who worked out what the problem was - quite possibly from fairly subtle clues in the telemetry information or some very careful trial and error experiments - and how to get around it and coax the satellite up to its intended orbit.

    • Oops.

      "...didn't get to the tank..."

      motor, of course, mea culpa.

      --
      See how dangerous righteous indignation is?
    • But all kudos to the engineers from Boeing and NASA who worked out what the problem was - quite possibly from fairly subtle clues in the telemetry information or some very careful trial and error experiments - and how to get around it and coax the satellite up to its intended orbit.

      Probably the geek who suddenly remembered his missing gum pretended like it was lucky guesswork to figure out the segment position and density of the object clogging the gizmo segment he built. Telemetry my ess.

  • by Psion (2244) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @03:04PM (#4382580)
    I suspect they rerouted the EPS conduit from the primary pressure manifold to the secondary navigationdal deflector array and used the resulting graviton flux to trigger a rapid nadion cascade and thereby providing just enough kick to get the whole system back into spec. Oh, I'm sorry. I thought the satellite was named "Voyager."
    • I suspect they rerouted the EPS conduit from the primary pressure manifold to the secondary navigationdal deflector array and used the resulting graviton flux to trigger a rapid nadion cascade and thereby providing just enough kick to get the whole system back into spec. Oh, I'm sorry. I thought the satellite was named "Voyager."

      That is not Voyager, but Jimmy Neutron's toaster.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      if this were voyager, half the ship would have been vaporized by the resulting phaser blast aimed backwards
    • I always wondered why they named the series after the villian in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Technically how? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lommer (566164) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @05:55PM (#4383793)
    What I want to know is how did they acomplish all of this? I mean, reprogramming electrical circuits are one thing to reroute and fix remotely, but how do you fix a valve-blockage from several thousand km away!?

    My only thought was that they somehow had a completely redundant backup valve and pipe system in anticipation of this exact problem. But when going into space, every gram costs $ so I highly doubt that this was the case. Kudos to them for first figuring out what was wrong in the first place, and then actually being able to do something about it. But really... how the hell did they do that?!
    • Obviously, they used a Field Programmable Valve Array.
    • Re:Technically how? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Almost all spacecraft built have extra plumbing to reroute around stuff like this. Its a hard lesson learned over the years. You always have redundant thrusters, cross-configurable piping between your fuel tanks and your thrusters. Whenever you fly a new type of thruster you always have the old reliable model on-board as well.

      You are correct that every gram costs $$, but not planning for contingency situations costs even more.
  • "Un-stranded"?? Man oh man...
  • The satellite was recovered and restored to its orbit, and there was much rejoicing... ...yaaay...
  • by Perdo (151843) on Thursday October 03, 2002 @09:08PM (#4384637) Homepage Journal
    This is just another case of slashdot being a mouthpiece for corporate America. The link is to a corporate press release for god sake.

    "The TDRS-I recovery effort was an incredible feat that demonstrates the inherent design robustness of our products and the incredible space operation knowledge and experience of our team,"

    Blatant advertisement designed to get all us geeks to buy Boeing's satellites instead of Ratheon's or Lockheed's.

    Well not me. My billion dollars is going to Alcatel Space. They are an open company that doesn't engage in these slashvertisments. Slashdot is so corporate owned.

    (joke)
  • In terms of a floating-in-space standpoint, what is the difference between "geostationary" orbit, and "geosynchronous" orbit.

    Does stationary mean it sits in relatively the same position while the earth rotates below.

    Synchronous I believe means it moves with the earth's rotation to be fixed over the same point?
    Maybe they mean the same thing. Any space-heads out there that can clarify this. Thanks.

    All your satellites are belong to us? - phorm

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