Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space EU

2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit 140

Posted by timothy
from the conspiracy-theory dept.
As reported by the BBC, two satellites meant to form part of the EU's Galileo global positioning network have been launched into a wrong, lower orbit, and it is unclear whether they can be salvaged. NASASpaceFlight.com has a more detailed account of the launch, which says [D]espite the Arianespace webcast noting no issue with the launch, it was later admitted the satellites were lofted into the wrong orbit. “Following the announcement made by Arianespace on the anomalies of the orbit injection of the Galileo satellites, the teams of industries and agencies involved in the early operations of the satellites are investigating the potential implications on the mission,” noted a short statement, many hours after the event. It is unlikely the satellites can be eased into their correct orbit, even with a large extension to their transit time. However, ESA are not classing the satellites as lost at this time. “Both satellites have been acquired and are safely controlled and operated from ESOC, ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany,” the Agency added. Over the course of the next "year or so," an additional 24 satellites are slated to complete the Galileo constellation, to be launched by a mixed slate of Ariane and Soyuz rockets.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

2 Galileo Satellites Launched To Wrong Orbit

Comments Filter:
  • by yamum (893083)

    Just killing some kerbals

  • by Anonymous Coward

    KABOOM!

    • by JavaBear (9872)

      In all fairness, SpaceX is doing remarkably well for a start-up. Besides, their recent failure was an experimental test flight, not a launch.

    • by dk20 (914954)
      Because every other space program doesn't have its share of failures as well?
  • Just wait for the satellites to be overhead.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they should have used GPS :>

  • ... Low Orbit Ion Canon.

  • ugh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:30AM (#47736269)

    I'll never understand these idiotic mistakes made by space agencies.

    Remember when the spirit rover mission almost failed because they never did a real test of the OS's file system?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

    After I heard about that, all I could think of was "Why would you spend billions of dollars on something, send it to mars, and never simulate the trip to see if the OS would have a problem?"

    • by Yoda222 (943886)
      How do you conclude that this is an idiotic mistake from the currently available informations?
      • by mbone (558574)

        The Fregat has a reputation as being an incredibly reliable and accurate upper stage - I have heard of on-orbit accuracies on the order of 100 meters - and there were no initial reports of upper stage technical problems (such as a premature shutdown). That tells me that this is likely to be either a communications problem, or a simple screwup.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:58AM (#47736377) Homepage

    if they had used Engrish units this never would have happened.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In fact 'imperial' system is stupid. It is even retarded.
      12 inches to 1 foot, 3 feets to 1 yard, 1760 yards to 1 mile, ...
      This is just moronic.
      Compare to 1km = 1000m = 100000cm

      • And if you're doing any unit conversions in realtime software, you're the retard. You can have the fundamental unit of distance be the meter, the foot, the nautical mile, the astronomical unit, or the earth radius, but why would you ever need to do unit conversions in the code? It's just as easy to fuck up a decimal point in metric as it is to mix up a mile and a nautical mile.
      • In fact 'imperial' system is stupid. It is even retarded.
        12 inches to 1 foot, 3 feets to 1 yard, 1760 yards to 1 mile, ...
        This is just moronic.
        Compare to 1km = 1000m = 100000cm

        My theory is that the illiterate medieval peasants who invented those systems had an intuitive knowledge that a duodecimal number system would make a lot more sense than decimal, and they ended up creating various half-assed implementations of it for their measurements. (The mile thing is different; it's a Roman decimal measurement of steps).

        Unfortunately we did end up using decimal, and reinforced it with Arabic numerals, which makes those intuitions worse than useless in the modern world.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by TWX (665546)
          My theory is that most pre-Metric units were designed because they're sizing/spacing was convenient to the type of measuring and the task at hand.

          I work on a lot of machinery. To cover a span of 1" or 24mm, I need almost half-again as many mm-sized tools as I need SAE-sized tools at 1/16" increments, and I can't omit any metric sizes because there's no rule that I've found on where one can go from x1mm to x2mm or x3mm spacing between fasteners. With SAE tools, once above 1-3/8, typically one only needs
          • by Splab (574204)

            What a load of rubbish. Celsius are intuitive for those who grew up with them.

            And regarding tools, sure when all your tools are made to imperial standards, it's quite a surprise when working with them are easier than trying to do convert them to metric...

            • by TWX (665546)
              Hmmm. The reading comprehension is weak with this one...

              I just said that I need half-again as many SI tools as SAE tools. Wouldn't that indicate that I carry and use SI tools, and work on SI machines?
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by sound+vision (884283)
              What a load of rubbish. Fahrenheit degrees are intuitive for those who grew up with them.
              • That doesn't mean they're better.

                Standardization and a logically defined system with strict rules does mean SI is better.

                • by TWX (665546)
                  One word for you...

                  Time.
                  • The fact that the SI has a flaw that the imperial system also has does not make the SI inferior or equal.

                    • by TWX (665546)
                      Angle.

                      For the record, I'm perfectly fine with SI being the principal units system for scientific research, in the sense that once one leaves day-to-day use it doesn't matter terribly much. On the other hand, SI has proven, in scientific terms, to itself be flawed. Attempts to redefine the base units using natural constants aren't finished either. That means now all you have is an easy conversion system.
                    • What's wrong with the radian?

                      Pi is a universal constant. Furthermore, its value is irrelevant in most calculations, being simply a placeholder. When the value is needed, using as much precision as needed is trivial.

                      You know why the imperial system is more flawed than the SI? It's defined in terms of SI units. It's a stopgap solution for those too lazy to standardize.
                      Failure to define units in terms of universal constants is not exclusive to SI, considering the imperial system never made such an attempt (and

                • by rahvin112 (446269)

                  Any measurement system that requires you to use decimals for reasonable accuracy in common situations is the wrong increment and if this is common when using the measurement it's just a bad system for that reason.

                  For example, measuring the height of a human being requires the use of feet and Inches in Imperial measurements but generally uses nice clean numbers in centimeters for the same accuracy. This occurs frequently for certain measurement cases where cm/mm are better, but there are just as many situati

                  • by TWX (665546)

                    It's unfortunate that SI was based on the old French meter, it's just too big in general use, something smaller close to a foot would have been better then we wouldn't have ended up with a worthless deci/deca meter. Centigrade is the same, in looking for a cleaner measurement they used boiling water as the high end which made the unit too large for common use but great for scientific measurements.

                    And that in a nutshell is my beef with SI. The idea for unifying the units for conversion/comparison of natura

                  • Surely you're kidding...

                    I challenge you to tell the difference between 21 degrees Celsius and 22 degrees Celsius in real life. What kind of accuracy do you need? One degree will not make the difference between "I should take a sweater" and "nice warm day".

                    For every situation where you get a nice integer by using feet there's at least one where you get a nice integer using meters with whatever prefix you desire.

                    The whole point of the SI is to demystify manipulations that change between "adjacent" units. Feel

                  • "Outside small measurements and between large ones the foot is a cleaner measurement in my opinion." I guess that would depend on what you stepped in, before you started measuring.
          • by guevera (2796207)

            That's actually a really good point, and it's been a pain point for me for years without realizing the why of it.

            But then you go and ruin it with this: To cover a span of 1" or 24mm.

            1" = 25.4mm, IIRC.

            • by TWX (665546)
              Yeah, I know. Off by one size. Either way though, there's no good way as far as I can tell to know what metric sizes can be skipped. Without knowing that I either have to have a shit-ton of sizes with many that inevitably won't see a lot of use, or I'll find situations where I'm running to the store for the one wrench that I need because it wasn't included in the set.
          • Spare the moronic excuses.

            You do not need tools at every mm value.

            0 degrees Celsius is the freezing point of water, 100 the boiling point. How much more intuitive does it need to be?

            Are you too stupid to use numbers from 0 to 100 with centimeters? Is "50 centimeters" too much for your head?

            The scales aren't "off". There's nothing to be off! A scale is not better because it maps to a few arbitrary values nicely.

            A scale is worse if you have different rules for different units. How many inches in a mile? I'd h

            • "How many inches in a mile? I'd have to think about it or memorize it. "

              How many radians in a complete revolution? You CAN'T memorize it, it's an irrational number with an infinite number of digits.

              • I hope that's a joke.

                I do not need to know the value of pi in many cases - it serves as a sort of placeholder. When I do need it, I do not need infinite precision.

            • by TWX (665546)
              I don't really ever need to know how many inches are in a mile. Things measured in miles do not need the precision of inches. They don't usually even need the precision of feet. Things measured in kilometers do not need the precision of millimeters, or centimeters, or decimeters, or usually even meters the vast majority of the time.

              The boiling and freezing point of water doesn't do anything for me in my day-to-day life. The scant number of times per year that I need to boil water it's a matter of put
              • I don't really ever need to know how many inches are in a mile. Things measured in miles do not need the precision of inches. They don't usually even need the precision of feet. Things measured in kilometers do not need the precision of millimeters, or centimeters, or decimeters, or usually even meters the vast majority of the time.

                Do not generalize. An airplane's wing is many meters long, yet its tolerances are in the mm range or smaller.
                Some application do benefit from being able to freely mix prefixed units. Since having two incompatible systems is stupid, it makes sense to standardize around the better system.

                Do not mistake SI for people who cannot standardize on a few sizes of hex heads for screws. It's unfortunate, but bad decisions are everywhere.

                The system is absolutely superior as already detailed. "Everyday life" is a matter

                • by TWX (665546)

                  Do not generalize. An airplane's wing is many meters long, yet its tolerances are in the mm range or smaller. Some application do benefit from being able to freely mix prefixed units. Since having two incompatible systems is stupid, it makes sense to standardize around the better system.

                  An aircraft's wing is in meters, not in Kilometers. It's expansion and contraction due to temperature and aerodynamic stresses causes it to change length more than a centimeter during operation.

                  Besides, SI has no monopol

          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Yep the problem with your world only comes when you need to work outside your world. Why not start thinking what the world would look like if you had to do more than just drill a hole. Josh Bazell put it well in one of his novels (a photo of which is making the rounds on the net at the moment):

            In metric, one cubic centimetre of water weighs one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade 0 which is 1 percent of the difference between its freezing point and it's boiling point

          • by dk20 (914954)
            " 0 degrees Fahrenheit is really cold, about the coldest that one can stand by simply bundling up, without having to resort to special clothing. 100 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty hot, about the hottest that one can stand without having to take special precautions with hydration and attire. By contrast, -18 degrees Celsius and 37 degrees Celsius aren't terribly intuitive.

            " Perhaps that is simply because you are not use to Celsius?
            0F was suppose to be the coldest Fahrenheit could get. He used brine of am
          • I hate to pedant, but 0C and 100C are extremely useful where you need a reference temperature since ice cold water and boiling water are cheap and readily manufacture-able. Plus, when its below 0C you know ice could show up on the roads. The issue is inertia. Imperial suck when you get into engineering calculations and maintaining units since everything doesn't convert in magnitudes of 10. One system makes sense to you and the other will always feel alien. It just seems to depend on the one you learnt firs
          • For temperatures, the Celcius is much more usefull and intuitive than Farenhight becaue Celcius is based on important milestones. What is the difference between -1F and 1F? One really really cold and the other is also really really cold, there is no difference, the 0F doesn't mark any intuitive usefull milestone. The zero degrees Celcius on the other hand, is a very important milestone, the temperature in which water freezes. You can intuitively see the difference between -1C and 1C by noting the presence (

          • 0 degrees Fahrenheit is really cold, about the coldest that one can stand by simply bundling up, without having to resort to special clothing.

            Wimp. -20F is quite bearable with a nice warm coat, and I've been out in -30F weather dressed like that (I didn't enjoy it, but I could stand it). There are communities a couple hundred miles north of me where -40 and below happen now and then, and they don't close everything down.

            Is your idea of "special clothing" scarf and gloves?

        • by mbone (558574)

          Not quite - it's more that there were a number of different units for different purposes and different locations - inches and feet and rods and yards and chains and furlongs and fathoms, etc. (and these are just for length - there are acres and oxgangs and virgates etc. for area, and on and on). Over time, some of these dropped out and the others got rationalized, leading to a bunch of different ratios.

          At least some of the duodecimal units (and I believe all of the base 360 units, such as degrees) are stra

    • Nah. It's due to the ongoing shrinking of the Euro vs other currencies. That 10 million euro in fuel just didn't go far enough.

  • What a debacle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @11:08AM (#47736417)

    This will for sure mess up the constellation, which is designed to minimize the times where some places on Earth do not have 4 satellites above the horizon, and also the places where this is going to happen (i.e., coverage gaps over the far South Pacific are likely to be more acceptable than over Northern Europe) . Since these satellites are too low, they will have shorter periods and will thus not be commensurable with the existing constellation, and will drift in and out of place.

    You can be sure ESA engineers are busily looking at orbits this weekend, to see what can be salvaged from this debacle. Now, they may be really lucky, and have gotten an orbit where these two satellites can be used to fill a hole in the current constellation. I would bet in that case that both satellites would serve to fill the spots normally filled by one satellite; so at best only one, but if (as is more likely) they are unlucky, two satellites will have to be launched to fill the gaps.

    In other words, while these satellites are not a loss, and will be used, new launches are likely to be necessary to make the constellation whole, which will cost as much as if they were lost.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The problem with a lower orbit is that it's also a faster orbit. And it's not going to be a nice 3:2 faster orbit. Hence, these birds will move all over the place relative to the others. "Lucky" just won't happen.

      But until the entire system is up and running, Galileo will have gaps in its coverage, and these satellites may reduce the size and duration of those gaps. And for multi-system receivers it's even less of a deal.

  • Maybe they forgot to use Metric? Oh wait, the satellites would have ended up in Martian orbit if they had done that.

  • Most major GPS chip sets now actively filter pulsar noise. The thing about pulsars is they are better clocks than what is being launched and they transmit on all frequencies. The ephemeris calculations are much harder but it has be used to 2 meter accuracy and it isn't even limited to working just around earth. I wonder why they spent so much money to duplicate two existing systems that weren't even state of the art when they started. Maybe it was because you can't license pulsar transmissions.

    • by TWX (665546)
      Maybe they just thought that Pulsar Navigation System, or PNS, would never be widely adopted due to the pronunciation of its acronym...
    • by mbone (558574)

      Most major GPS chip sets now actively filter pulsar noise.

      Got a link for that? I know that most pulsar observers filter out GPS and other satnavs (GLONASS sidebands are especially annoying) but I have not heard of GPS receivers having pulsar ephemerides.

      The thing about pulsars is they are better clocks than what is being launched and they transmit on all frequencies. The ephemeris calculations are much harder but it has be used to 2 meter accuracy and it isn't even limited to working just around earth. I wonder why they spent so much money to duplicate two existing systems that weren't even state of the art when they started. Maybe it was because you can't license pulsar transmissions.

      Or maybe because observing pulsars requires a substantially bigger antenna than a hand-held smart-phone - 170 m^2 (and 500 Watts!) for a phased-array radio dipole and 0.1 m^2 for an X-ray Pulsar Nav system in Becker et al. [arxiv.org] (and the latter could only be used in space, outside the Earth's atmosphere).

      • by thogard (43403)

        Radio astronomers are look at pulsars a different way than a Galaxy Position System needs to.

        The pulsar interference issues came up shortly after the industry found out that Trimble was making use of the short bit at the end of the message to figure out when a frame started on the military signal which gave them much better accuracy. The pulsar noise messes up the way that was found so it had to be filtered out and those filters helped clean up other noise issues. That was over 15 years ago and I haven't

  • This is what they get for not using a GPS. It's not rocket science!

  • Is this the space version of Controlled Flight Into Terrain? All the other mishaps I can recall were equipment failures, barring the satellite collision.

    • by mbone (558574)

      I suspect it will be like the 1999 Mars Climate Orbiter - "what we've got here is a failure to communicate."
       

  • Unlike existing GPS, Galileo has an interactive "search and rescue" function that can interact with the unit on the ground.

    Given how infrequently this would be useful in the grand scheme of things - and the likely higher power requirements over passive GPS - the paranoid person in me wonders if the real reason this was included is because spy agencies requested it. With GPS being passive, taking advantage of it to locate a target requires a second piece of software be loaded onto the device.

    • by ChumpusRex2003 (726306) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @03:54PM (#47737839)
      The SAR component of galileo is a separate service to the positioning service. The intention is that it can operate as an EPIRB receiver. Conventional emergency beacons can be located by satellites, but the resolution is poor (tens of miles) and the time to fix is long (30-60 minutes). The beacon transmits a signal, and suitably equipped satellites detect the beacon, and relay it to ground stations, which then compute the location of the beacon by measuring the change in Doppler shift as the satellite flies by. The SAR component of galileo was designed with the intention that the overhead satellites would detect the time-of-arrival of the beacon signal and cross reference it with the satellites' atomic clocks, effectively performing a reverse GPS-fix. Such a system would be able to obtain a fix within minutes or seconds, and such a fix would likely have a resolution of 1-2 miles. The SAR component is not a mandatory service. You can use the passive location service without implementing SAR in a device. You would only use the SAR service, in an emergency locator beacon device. At the time the galileo SAR system was designed, feedback was a problem with locator beacons. The user had no idea if the signal had been received. Later revisions to the system mean that modern beacons and satellites now offer two big upgrades - the beacons can contain a passive GPS reciever, and can embed the location data in the beacon signal; and the satellite system can transmit feedback to a compatible receiver telling it that it's signal has been received and a position fix made. The Galileo SAR function is therefore rather redundant, but it's often helpful to have a 2nd independent and redundant safety system available, so I can see that it would still get used.
  • The miracle and wonder behind celebrating successful space missions is realizing that going to space is hard and a lot had to go well to get things to turn out right. Even with decades of satellite launches under humanity's belt, each launch is a challenge and a learning opportunity...

    ...some more costly than others.
  • must have used Apple Maps to figure out the proper orbit...

"Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out." -- Montaigne

Working...