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NASA Space Science

NASA to Test Emergency Ability of New Spacecraft 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-out-quick dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA this will show off the first mock up of its Orion space capsule ahead of the capsule's first emergency astronaut escape system test. NASA said it will jettison the full-size structural model off a simulated launch pad at the US Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The launch escape vehicle sits atop the Orion capsule which is slated to be bolted on an Ares rocket. The escape vehicle is made up of three solid rocket motors as well as separation mechanisms and canards, and should offer the crew an escape capability in the event of an emergency during launch, according to NASA."
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NASA to Test Emergency Ability of New Spacecraft

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  • Hopefully (Score:5, Funny)

    by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:21AM (#22660254)
    they'll have this whole thing ironed out for when that one guy has to go to Mars alone

    • three solid rocket motors as well as separation mechanisms and canards

      He won't be alone they are sending along some ducks for company.

      • by cizoozic (1196001) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:00AM (#22660682)

        He won't be alone they are sending along some ducks for company.
        For god's sake I hope one of them is that Aflac duck - Either that or the guy is Gilbert Gottfried and they disable any proposed escape mechanisms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tm2b (42473)
        <Marx> Why a duck? Why-a-no chicken? </Marx>
      • by sm62704 (957197)

        three solid rocket motors as well as separation mechanisms and canards

        He won't be alone they are sending along some ducks for company

        I think that's a typo, they must mean "canary". The thing doesn't look big enough for ducks!
        >ducks<

        It was Nasa's picture of the day [nasa.gov] yesterday.

        Orion
        A mock-up of the Orion space capsule heads to its temporary home in a hangar at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

        In late 2008, the full-size structural model will be jettisoned off a simulated launch pad at the

    • by iminplaya (723125)
      They kinda did, back in '62.
    • First came the lighting tower - designed to "divert" lighting.
      Now they're building an "emergency" rollercoster to "quickly" move people away.

      Just add a flux capacitor and I think they're good to go.
    • Very interesting how that are adding a lightning arrest system. From description it looks like systems I have seen for smaller launch sites. Wonder why it took them so long to add one here? I for one do NOT what to meet our Electrically charged overlords ...
  • The shuttle had no escape system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
      The shuttle had no escape system.

      But was it hubris, callousness, or bean counting? One from each column?

      I'm somewhat embarrassed for NASA that they feel the need to press release this. It should be right up there with "NASA To Tighten All Screws On New Spacecraft". Of course you're going to do that.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm somewhat embarrassed for NASA that they feel the need to press release this. It should be right up there with "NASA To Tighten All Screws On New Spacecraft". Of course you're going to do that.

        There are people like me who are very interested in the development of this rocket. I don't really care that it embarrasses you that NASA is putting out press releases when major equipment tests take place. This is a vitally important component that has to work properly. It is not a trivial thing to pull a payload off of a rocket in subsonic, transonic, and supersonic conditions without destroying that payload (which in this case means astronauts). You are probably also going to be annoyed when NASA pu

        • by SETIGuy (33768)

          It is not a trivial thing to pull a payload off of a rocket in subsonic, transonic, and supersonic conditions without destroying that payload (which in this case means astronauts).

          Damn straight. And this system probably won't work in all of those environments. There will probably be a limited set of circumstances where this system will offer any chance of survival. I haven't seen any estimates of which flight envelopes this will function in, and at velocity, once these motors shut down the capsule is going to be in an unstable attitude and potentially in the path of an accelerating booster that has had its load lightened. I've often wondered the escape system is more of a "feel-

      • Re:The real story... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ScottKin (34718) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:38AM (#22661258) Homepage Journal
        Interestingly enough, early designs from North American Rockwell for the Shuttle included a crew escape system similar to what was going to be implemented in the North American Rockwell B-1A - which in itself was based on the F-111's Crew Escape Module, where the Crew Cabin / Cockpit blasts away from the rest of the vehicle using solid rocket motors. When the decision was made to use the area where the motors would have been for the extra crew seats and stowage, the whole escape system was scrapped. So much for hindsight.

        --ScottKin
        • by Keebler71 (520908)
          Hindsight isn't 20/20 here... the escape pod considered would probably have been too heavy to allow any meaningful payloads to get to orbit and would have forced crew size down to 2-4 people. Nevermind the fact that it never went beyond the feasibility stage so we don't even know if it would have worked.
        • I worked on the B1 project right durring the change over when they changed over to ejection seats. I think I did some drawing of pyrotechnic tubes used to blow a hole in the roof above the seats. --- The capsule thing did not work so well. Had it been used durring a lunch abort aerodynamic forced would have turned it into shrapnel in an instant.

          When that SRB attachment failed and the shuttle yawed it was the aerodynamic forces of the yaw that caused the break up.

          The bottom line is that there is no reasit
      • by tjstork (137384)
        But was it hubris, callousness, or bean counting? One from each column?

        Well, no. The Shuttle is a lot heavier than the Orion capsule. The escape system described here is designed to pull the little capsule away from the booster quickly. In the case of the shuttle, the whole thing is way to big for that.

        However, in the shuttle, it is a -lot- roomier than the Orion is on the inside. The shuttle is basically a re-usable station. The orion, on the other hand, is basic transportation. Think, inside of 737
        • The shuttle's cabin is nowhere near 737 size. More like a six or eight seat business jet.
          • by tjstork (137384)
            The shuttle's cabin is nowhere near 737 size. More like a six or eight seat business jet.

            That cargo bay is pretty roomy though, and it can be closed and pressurized, if the astronauts feel a need to do jumping jacks in orbit, and what not.
            • by ThreeE (786934)
              and it can be closed and pressurized

              I'd love for you to tell me where you heard this...

              • by tjstork (137384)
                I'd love for you to tell me where you heard this..

                You and me both. I got that impression from some Rockwell literature (that I still have) from the late 1970s. Best I can find on the internet are some plans about that kind of thing that were aborted since the Challenger. The Air Force conception was that the astronauts would bring a satellite into the cargo bay, close the doors, pressurize it, work on it, then send it back out into space. But, satellites got more reliable, the Challenger blew up, and t
                • by ThreeE (786934)
                  Nothing remotely like this was considered in anything like the Challenger timeframe (1986) -- or anytime after the Shuttle's CDR -- which was well before the "late 1970s."
                  • by tjstork (137384)
                    Nothing remotely like this was considered in anything like the Challenger timeframe (1986) -- or anytime after the Shuttle's CDR -- which was well before the "late 1970s."

                    Dang. Guess I'm just totally wrong. However, I will at least say that while my analogy is wrong, my overall point still stands, in that, the space shuttle is much, much roomier than the new spacecraft:

                    SS Habital Volume: 71.5 cubic meters
                    Crew Model: 10 cubic meters...
    • Yes it did -- It just didn't improve the user's odds of survival.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Saberwind (50430)
        Columbia originally had ejection seats for the Commander and Pilot for the first few flights. After crews exceeded two people, however, they replaced the seats with normal ones because it wouldn't be fair for only two of the crew to be able to eject while the rest perished.
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:45AM (#22661064) Homepage Journal

      The shuttle had no escape system.

      The shuttle should have been an evolution from Apollo. Make the orbiter a stretched, winged service module. Install a hatch in the command module heat shield (this was trialled for the Gemini wet lab). For launch and landing pack the crew into the CM using the rescue mode layout. During launch use a launch escape system. This will get you past the Challenger failure mode. During reentry the LES won't be there but you can use the reaction control system to achieve separation.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        Or just send people and cargo in different vehicles.. not only do you save yourself the trouble of man-rating a beast like the Saturn V but you also learn to say no to the committees that want to make your vehicle everything for everyone.

        • by ubrgeek (679399)
          I vaguely recall an episode of Robotech where one of the lead female characters was flying somewhere in (what I think was) a military jet. As the "camera" pulled back, it showed her in a curved, almost bubble seat that appeared to be made of thick metal and had a "lid" resting in an up position. It looked like it was an escape pod, where in an emergency the top of the seat would fold down, sealing the bubble. I assume the intent would have been for the sealed unit to be ejected. I always thought that was a
          • by QuantumG (50515) *
            I'm reading a book at the moment about the Shuttle-Mir program. Along with all the other crazy shit the Russians did, one of the stupidest, I think, was trying to dock the Progress with the station using only dead reckoning and, when it works, a camera *on the progress*. I'm reading this book wondering why they don't have 30 CCD cameras scattered around the outside of the station and some system for selecting 4 or 5 of them to output to monitors simultaneously. Then I remember that it is 1992 and a Russi
        • by cpotoso (606303)

          Or just send people and cargo in different vehicles.. not only do you save yourself the trouble of man-rating a beast like the Saturn V but you also learn to say no to the committees that want to make your vehicle everything for everyone.

          And then kiss your funding good-bye...

        • by Zeussy (868062)
          Interesting that, seeing as that is NASA's plans, you have the smaller Ares I to launch the Orion crew module and the larger Ares V to do the heavy lifting of equipment: Shuttle-Derived_Launch_Vehicle [wikipedia.org] Inless wikipedia is out of date and NASA's plans have changed.
    • I thought I remember reading somewhere that if something went wrong with the shuttle while it was still on the ground, the explosion would be equal to a small nuclear bomb. Unless the excape system moved you a mile away in a matter of seconds I don't think it would do much good.
    • by nizo (81281) *
      Considering the likelihood that any escape system designed by the same people who made the shuttle would probably malfunction and jettison the astronauts accidentally, this is a good thing.
  • by BadEvilYoda (935532) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:26AM (#22660282)
    http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4205/app-c.html#section2 [nasa.gov] Ah, Saturn V... good times. Glad we've once again remembered it's a better idea to have the astronauts at the TOP of the stack rather than stuck to the SIDE of the stack.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Glad we've once again remembered it's a better idea to have the astronauts at the TOP of the stack rather than stuck to the SIDE of the stack.

      On the side wouldn't have been so bad if it would have been in a vehicle with emergency escape capability. After all "The US Space Shuttle has a lower failure rate (1.6%) than the other launchers. The failure rates range from 5% for the Russian R-7 Soyuz and European Ariane 1-4 to 14% for the US Atlas." [futurepundit.com] Perhaps in this round of launch design we can manage to cut th
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SacredByte (1122105)
        The thing you overlook in declaring the shuttle "safer" than previous launch/re-entry vehicles is this:

        When we built the previous generations of spacecraft we didn't know WTF we were doing -- Especially with the earliest attempts (made by the US) after the launch of Sputnik; We were trying to get something up fast, not something up safely.

        The shuttle has been a compromise since its very inception. It was designed to be able to intercept/capture (as well as launch) satalites. Because of this, it doesn't real
      • by Rakishi (759894) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @03:45AM (#22660634)
        BS. Using misleading statistics to prove a point does not prove a point. The Soyuz has a lower fatality rate than the Shuttle and that's going back to the 60s. It has a flawless fatality record for longer than the shuttle has even existed. Unlike the shuttle failures for it (well launch.re-entry ones) are far from fatal and even then it has a lower failure rate if you don't count the pre-shuttle era I think.

        Now consider that the Soyuz is likely flown/managed by people whose attention to safety would give NASA managers heart attacks and just how much of a fuck up the shuttle is become evident.
        • by timmarhy (659436)
          and how many flights did the soyuz have vs the shuttle?

          thought so.

          • by putaro (235078)
            Soyuz is still flying! How do you think those tourist guys get to the space station? Hint - NASA doesn't sell things.

            A quick look at Wikipedia shows there have been 98 manned Soyuz missions to date and 121 Shuttle missions. Additionally, you could include the Progress missions which have been used to supply both Mir and the ISS - Progress is an unmanned spacecraft based on the Soyuz design. There have been 114 Progress flights.
            • by ThreeE (786934)
              Remember that you have to fly the Soyuz 2-3 times to get the same number of crew up/down -- and a hell of a lot more to get the same cargo up -- and even more to get the same cargo down as the Shuttle. All of this results in a significantly reduced reliability compared to the Shuttle.
              • by johno.ie (102073)
                And don't forget you have to launch 8-9 Soyuz rockets to waste as much money as 1 shuttle flight. :)

                johno
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by johno.ie (102073)
            The Soyuz rocket has been launched over 1700 times, according to this wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]. I don't think that's completely accurate, I think that's counting the R-7 and all its derivatives. About half of that number would be my guess for the current Soyuz design.

            There have been a few variations of the Soyuz manned spacecraft as technology has improved. The current version can support a 3 person crew for 30 days. When docked to a space station it can survive for 6 months in space and safely re-enter with a crew.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by moosesocks (264553)
            The last Soyuz failure occurred in 1983 when the rocket exploded on the pad with the crew inside.

            It might be a good point to note here that the crew all survived.

            In 1975, Soyuz 18a aborted its launch before reaching orbit due to a major booster malfunction. The Launch-Escape-System automatically triggered when the rocket left what was considered a "safe" trajectory, and the crew also survived.

            Soyuz capsules have also survived landings in virtually every sort of terrain known to man. Although subsequent re
            • by Rich0 (548339)
              Good point - you could probably land a Soyuz without a working computer if you had to in a pinch (assuming you could manually trigger the engines and have some idea what your speed was). Deorbital burns from LEO aren't nearly as touchy as the Apollo re-entries. And not having to hit a particular point on the earth is a big plus.

              The shuttle would be a death trap if you did the re-entry just fine but ended up 100 miles away from the nearest airport with gargantuan runways. I'm not sure how well it would do
          • by tgd (2822)
            Several multiples more?

            Or were you assuming it was less and trying to pretend to make a point about something you don't understand?
        • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @10:09AM (#22662432)
          It may come as a surprise, but the attitude to things like crew safety in the old USSR was actually pretty good. In WW2 Stalin executed his head of the Air Force for attacking the safety of Soviet aircraft, but Stalin was a monster and his successors weren't. Spaceflight was post-Stalin, you know. Kruschev, whatever his faults, was probably no worse as a human being than Kennedy.

          People who have investigated the ejector seats on Soviet military aircraft have commented that in some ways they were better than ones used on many NATO planes,and the armor on Soviet helicopters was truly impressive. After all, who do you think worked on the Soviet space and military aircraft programs? Hint: they weren't heroic Stakhanovite peasants. They were the sons and daughters of Party members, the people who were on top in the Soviet Union. And middle class people are notorious for caring an awful lot what happens to their children.

          So I guess what I am saying is, there is no a priori reason for believing that the US and USSR attitude to space flight safety was significantly different, but, as Arthur Clarke once commented, the Russians preferred to go with solid, proven, perhaps over-engineered systems even if they were bigger and heavier.

          • That was always my take on soviet tech - built like a tank. A few examples: A late-model Russian fighter jet has A LOT of titanium (Russia has a lot of mine-able titanium). Taking a bird into its turbine will not cause a failure. One of my professors did freelance FEA work for NASA. One of his jobs was analyzing the Shuttle's collision with the MIR space station. He had accelerometer data from many positions. He concluded no damage from the strike.
            • by LarryWake (855436)

              ...the Shuttle's collision with the MIR space station.
              I think you meant "...the Progress freighter's collision with the Mir space station" ? There was never a Shuttle/Mir collision that I'm aware of.
        • by GreggBz (777373)
          And you are using some opinion to back your point.

          Now consider that the Soyuz is likely flown/managed by people whose attention to safety would give NASA managers heart attacks and just how much of a fuck up the shuttle is become evident.

          You don't [wikipedia.org] know anything about the history [russianspaceweb.com] of the Russian space program, do you? Oh, and this [wikipedia.org], which killed 48 people. It's hard to find stuff on it though, because it was at the height of the cold war, and the USSR kept it secret.

          Further, It's apples and oranges. T

          • by GreggBz (777373)
            Since I can't read, I completely mis-understood 50% of your post. The point about the Soyuz and Shuttle being so different.. that still bugs me but that's a rebuttal to the overall discussion.
          • by Rakishi (759894)

            You don't know anything about the history of the Russian space program, do you? Oh, and this, which killed 48 people. It's hard to find stuff on it though, because it was at the height of the cold war, and the USSR kept it secret.

            I know the history and that was my point, if the soviets were flying the shuttle there'd be no left.

            Making just a big giant Soyuz won't necessarily be safer by default.

            Of course it won't but why would you even do that, the shuttle is a abysmal attempt at a jack of all trades and that's my point.

            Certainly we learned from the shuttle and it's far from perfect, but don't assume the Soyuz is a better design, because it's not designed for nearly the same purpose.

            No they are used for essentially the same main goal, to get humans into space. The original shuttle design was a lot smaller and it's only goal was to get people into space. The shuttle can do some other things as well and it's as a result worse at getting people into space and ev

        • BS. Using misleading statistics to prove a point does not prove a point. The Soyuz has a lower fatality rate than the Shuttle and that's going back to the 60s.

          Ok, quote some valid and non misleading statistics then. Otherwise, you're making an emotional argument rather than an engineering one.

          It has a flawless fatality record for longer than the shuttle has even existed.

          There is far more to safety than simply fatalities. The simple fact is, Soyuz has a long record of near fatal accidents

          • by Rakishi (759894)

            Four major computer failures in the span of a few years - yeah, these are guys who pay attention to safety.
            That's my point, if the soviets were flying the shuttle there'd be no left. I mean the Soyuz once reentered the atmosphere upside down still attached to it's orbital module... and no one was killed in the end.
            • by Rich0 (548339)
              I guess the difference is this:

              The US tends to use elegant designs that just barely work, and then engineer 40 layers of redundancy to keep anything from going wrong.

              The USSR tended to use simple designs that are inherently more stable, so that when things do go wrong they're less likely to cause a critical failure.

              In the shuttle they have 5 computers so that the chances of the computer going out are minimal. However, if the computers do go out they're probably toast - the shuttle can't just land anywhere
        • Once again, we somehow end up having the same discussion...

          First of all, you're wrong about the fatality rate. The soyuz has had 2 fatal missions in 98 flights (2%), killing 4 crewmembers (Soyuz 1 only carried a single crewman) out of 260 (1.5%). Only a serious miracle and herculean rescue effort kept Soyuz 23 from being fatal. It was a pair of small miracles that Soyuz 18a and Soyuz T-10-1 (which exploded on the pad 2 years after the first shuttle flight, contrary to your assertion) weren't fatal.

          The
        • I wasn't trying to suggest that the shuttle had a lower fatality rate, just being astronauts being mounted on the top vs on the side wasn't a superior design. Of course a design with an escape plan has superior survivability in the event of an accident, that's pretty obvious. I was pointing out the frequency which such an escape plan would need to be used. I wasn't dealing with fatalities, but with how often the launch actually made it to space. Yes, the space shuttle is now an outdated piece of shit, but t
      • by khallow (566160)

        Rockets used for cargo routinely have a higher failure rate than rockets used for manned spaceflight. And the article you quote is misleading in a number of ways. For example, the Atlas V (not the entire Atlas program which has a failure rate around 2%) is a new design with some failures in the begining. Similar thing for the Ariane 5. Both vehicles have a better safety record now. And the manned Soyuz has a failure rate around 2% with both accidents occuring by the early 70's (and the 7th launch IIRC) and

  • All they needed to think was couple of parachutes....oh wait..
  • Project Orion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arodland (127775) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @03:09AM (#22660478)
    Somewhat offtopic, but I still don't think you should name any space project "Orion" unless it involves nuclear propulsion! It's... misleading.
    • Perhaps a little off topic, but why are US space programs named after Greek mythology? It's not like it is appropriate. Apollo, Nike-Zeus, Atlas,Orion, Ares - what was wrong with names like Redstone, Columbia etc.?
      • by Aglassis (10161)
        You've got to name it something. I prefer Greek or Roman mythology over placenames (Redstone), conceptual names (Endeavour, Opportunity, Discovery), or quasi-patriotic names (like Colombia). The Western world has a special attachment to the Greeks and Romans for our view of the cosmos. It is only appropriate that we pay tribute in some form or another. I should also note that I wouldn't be opposed to using some of the ancient Egyptian or Babylonian mythology either.

        Ok, and now for some completely unsupp
      • by RevWaldo (1186281)
        I was just thinking that - all these pagan names! This is a Christian nation after all. "The Mary Magdalene achieved orbit around Mars today, while the Nicodemus lander safely touched down on Utopia Planitia.."
    • by kvezach (1199717)
      Hush, you can't go and say Nuclear like that! It's External Pulsed Plasma Propulsion [nextbigfuture.com], natch.
  • do what now? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668)
    Excuse me? During launch? They're supposed to get into an emergency capsule if something goes wrong during launch? Okay let's just ignore the whole idea of how fast they'd have to be and say they're really, really fast astronauts...how the hell is anyone going to get up out of their seat and into a capsule while they're pulling what like 7 Gs? I'd like to see someone even lift their arm up let alone get up.
    • Re:do what now? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bobb9000 (796960) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @04:38AM (#22660798)
      The summary doesn't describe the system itself very well - if that was how it worked I'd agree it'd be idiotic. The "vehicle" the summary mentions is actually just a separate rocket engine attached to the nose of the capsule. If something goes wrong, the astronauts don't have to go anywhere; the bolts holding the capsule onto the main Ares launch vehicle blow, and the escape rocket fires, lifting the entire Orion capsule off the Ares rocket and high enough into the air to get clear of the launch pad and any unpleasant explosions. Then the escape rocket separates from the capsule, while the capsule is hopefully high enough to land softly by parachute. For more info (and pictures), see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_escape_system [wikipedia.org] and here: http://www.astronautix.com/craft/orionlas.htm [astronautix.com].
      • If something goes wrong, the astronauts don't have to go anywhere; the bolts holding the capsule onto the main Ares launch vehicle blow, and the escape rocket fires, lifting the entire Orion capsule off the Ares rocket and high enough into the air to get clear of the launch pad and any unpleasant explosions.

        Most of the thrust from the LES is needed to get the capsule high enough to land by parachute. Normal RCS thrusters could do the job with less mass overhead if you assume that the capsule will normally land by rocket power.

        • by Bobb9000 (796960)
          I suppose that makes some sense, though I wouldn't have thought that the RCS motors would be able to get the capsule far enough fast enough. Regarding landing by rocket power, though, I thought that while there is a debate between airbags or retrorockets, either one is used in conjunction with the parachute system. The retrorockets would be designed to slow down a parachute-assisted landing, which would be IIRC around 18 mph. You're going to end up going much faster than that from a ~350 foot fall, which is
      • by Keebler71 (520908)
        You are correct - the launch abort system is a rocket package that pulls the crew capsule away from the hazard during a pad abort or abort early during the ascent. This is the same abort concept used for Mercury, Apollo and Soyuz (interestingly Gemini had ejection seats).
    • It appears to be a super sized version of the system used in the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo days. The astronauts are already in the "escape capsule". Three rocket motors lift the capsule to an altitude that will allow safe parachute deployment. Capsule and contents drift down and land more or less safely.
    • Re:do what now? (Score:5, Informative)

      by darkmeridian (119044) <william DOT chuang AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:14AM (#22661952) Homepage
      The astronauts are seated in the capsule during launch. The emergency system is basically a rocket on top of the capsule. If there is an emergency, the rocket fires and pulls the capsule away from the stack.
    • Re:do what now? (Score:4, Informative)

      by codepunk (167897) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @09:28AM (#22662042)
      You went to college didn't you? It shows!

      It is the same sort of escape system attached to the top of the
      capsule as the soyuz spacecraft has. If you do some searching it
      is a tried and proved emergency escape system. Look for Soyuz T-10,
      a fire on the pad occurred during launch causing a explosion that
      destroyed the pad. The cosmonauts where launched to safely by their
      emergency escape rockets.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Waste55 (1003084)
      I am working CEV, the people doing the Abort Software are 1 row over from me.

      No, the crew will not be moving around during ascent. :)

      In short: The software will monitor for abort conditions, at a point where any are detected the Launch Abort System (LAS) will take over and "pull" the CM in the proper direction away from the rocket.

      More unofficial info (sorry, cant link to official docs):
      Launch Abort System [wikipedia.org]
      Orion Abort Modes [wikipedia.org]
      (I also remember an animated video on NASA's site at one point, but
      • In short: The software will monitor for abort conditions, at a point where any are detected the Launch Abort System (LAS) will take over and "pull" the CM in the proper direction away from the rocket.

        This sounds like an interesting challenge. How do you differentiate between a sensor failure and the destruction of the sensor? In the first case, an abort is the wrong thing to do, and in the second case, it's the right thing to do.

        In one of the many articles on the Discovery loss, there was mention made of the person monitoring some of the wing temperature sensors noticed an unexpected rise in the temperature reported and then zero degrees was reported. The person wondered if they were observing a sensor

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by n3tcat (664243) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:44AM (#22661056) Homepage
    I skimmed the article looking for details on the ejection system itself, but nothing stood out.

    I'm guessing this is an ejection system strictly for non-moving spacecraft, right? I mean I can't imagine the speeds those shuttles reach, and having a piece of it suddenly pop open and eject the crew. Debris would be flying for miles.
    • by david.given (6740)
      If it's the same as the old Saturn system, it's not an 'ejection system' in any traditional sense of the word. Rather, it's a set of emergency rockets attached to the crew capsule that, in the event of emergency, can lift the capsule up and away from a fireball sufficiently quickly that the crew will survive. The capsule then descends safely on its own reentry parachutes. Remember that the capsule is designed to withstand reentry, and that exploding rockets aren't actually very violent --- they look impres
      • by david.given (6740)
        Feel free to insert the following paragraph breaks whereever in the previous post you so wish:







        Stupid frickin' comment submission system...
    • like Apollo. The Astronauts ride inside it, the tower is attached to the top. When they eject, the tower pulls the capsule away from the rest of the stack.
    • by necro81 (917438)
      Calling it an "ejection" system is a misnomer. It's not like the ejection seats in a fighter jet, or the Gemini capsule [wikipedia.org]. It doesn't actually eject the crew from the capsule, but rather lifts the whole capsule away from the launch stack. The article mentions that the first few tests will be more or less static tests, but eventually work their way up:

      a trio of in-flight trials is scheduled between 2009 and 2011 to measure the escape system's effectiveness at subsonic and supersonic speeds, as well as duri

  • Everyone knows that NASA will be pressured to end manned spaceflight after the Shuttle program and it will be respun as some kind international friendship effort to have all American astronauts put into orbit by Russian, Chinese and Indian systems.

    And oh, in case you were wondering, manned spaceflight past Earth orbit is dead, buried over and out through at least this entire century.
  • From TFA:

    Meanwhile, a series of other technology checks are underway to test Orion parachutes and the shuttle-derived solid rocket booster of Ares I's first stage. NASA successfully launched a 1:100 scale model of the Ares I rocket in January.

    Check out the link http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/multimedia/photos08-009.html [nasa.gov]

    In the article they actually admit that it's an Estes rocket. OMG, I built models bigger than this thing when I was 12! And they came back in fewer pieces (by law), all o

  • Orbital Science is the manufacture of the Orion CEV Launch Abort System [orbital.com]

    Nice to see NASA try to give the Astronauts a way out of a potentially deadly situation. Please give them credit for that much.

    This is also good for the people in Southern New Mexico that live and work near White Sands Test Facility [nasa.gov] and White Sands Missile Range [army.mil]. As well as Tuscon Arizona, where Orbital is located, as it helps the economies of both regions.

  • Here's a picture of one of the apollo abort tests: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pad_abort_test_1.jpg [wikipedia.org] . The wiki has a good summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pad_Abort_Test-1_%28Apollo%29 [wikipedia.org]
  • We'll never be ready for a spacecraft emergency until they've perfected that "Red Alert" klaxon/flashing light combo, and properly choreographed the entire crew to lean toward one side and then the other in unison.
  • The Little Joe series was a set of clustered solid two stage boosters designed to test the Mercury and Apollo capsules. Little Joe I was initially had clusters of four Sergeant solids, later the addition of Recruit motors for added "kick". Little Joe II had a bigger kick though, using 2 Algol 465 Kn motors in each stage.
    I can see a new Little Joe being built to loft Orion "boilerplates" on a new series of tests.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Joe [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Joe_II [wikipedia.org]

    There was one la

  • Basically, the "escape system" they describe is a series of small retro-rockets and some explosive charges that will detach the capsule from the launch vehicle in the event of an emergency. There is no separate escape module.

    The overall launch vehicle differs in a few critical areas from the old Mercury/Gemini/Apollo setups in that all of those capsules were on rockets that could be shut off after ignition. If there was a problem on a Saturn, or Atlas, or whatever, they would t
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @12:31PM (#22663986)
    I have to admit, I get a burst of geek pride when I see the shuttle actually building something in space, even if it's the deeply flawed space station. Back in the 90's, it burned me up to see the shuttle just dicking around in low earth orbit, not doing much but performing breeding experiments on fruit flies and floating around in the cabin. $500 million a launch and the damn thing isn't doing much on orbit when it's there! But building the space station, that's one of the original meat and potato missions planned for the shuttle. Neato! And to see that sucker in space, then see it come down through the atmosphere and land like a plane, oh so cool.

    But you know what? None of that stuff was really necessary. There's no financial sense in retrieving satellites from orbit. The servicing of the Hubble was a very unique situation, it's almost always easier to treat each satellite as an expendable unit, send another one up when the last one wears out. The cost of launch is so high that "servicing" missions to install new components, refuel the thrusters, etc, all would end up significantly more expensive than sending up a brand new satellite.

    As for building space stations, it really does make more sense to have a light man-rated vehicle that has 99.9999% reliability and a big dumb booster with 99% reliability sending up the big pieces. A shuttle really isn't needed for building anything in space -- things like the cargo bay arm should be a part of the station already. I believe one of the cut modules for the station would have been a super-arm, a multi-segmented robot that could walk it's way around the station, anchoring itself on special pads that would provide support and power. One or two of these arms could move anywhere on the station and help attach incoming modules every time they're boosted.

    What we really need for a revolution in space, we need bigger boosters. Why did pepper used to be worth more per ounce than gold? Because getting to the far east was so damned expensive, caravan or ship, it was a dicy proposition. Why is pepper cheap as dirt now? Affordable transportation. Lower the cost of transport and whole new worlds of possibility are opened.

    I remember reading about the Orion drive for the first time and smacking my head in awe. They weren't talking about building finnicky paperweight rockets, they were talking about constructing true spaceships in frickin' shipyards, launch weights that dwarfed naval destroyers! Ok, so maybe using open fusion explosions to propel the ship ain't politically correct but I've seen some very intriguing theoretical designs for clean nuclear propulsion, the kind of stuff with ehough ISP to get big, heavy things into earth orbit. Screw rockets and capsules, I want to see us launching stuff that looks like Battletech DropShips. Let's have some goddamn ambition, for chrissake.
    • I believe one of the cut modules for the station would have been a super-arm, a multi-segmented robot that could walk it's way around the station, anchoring itself on special pads that would provide support and power. One or two of these arms could move anywhere on the station and help attach incoming modules every time they're boosted.

      Nope, that arm was installed on the station years ago.

      What we really need for a revolution in space, we need bigger boosters. Why did pepper used to be worth

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