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Delta 4 Inaugural Launch A Success 163

brandido writes " is reporting that the Delta 4 has lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 5:40 pm EST. According to the Article: 'Boeing's Delta 4 has lifted off from pad 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Everything appeared to be working normally with the rocket as it made its initial climb out over the Atlantic Ocean during the first minute.' It will now take the two-stage rocket some 37 minutes to deliver the Eutelsat W5 spacecraft to orbit, so keep your fingers crossed all continues to go well.'" Looks like everything went swimmingly well.
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Delta 4 Inaugural Launch A Success

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  • cams? (Score:4, Funny)

    by dirvish ( 574948 ) <(moc.swendnuof) (ta) (hsivrid)> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:20PM (#4720406) Homepage Journal
    Were there any mounted cameras for cool launch vids?
    • Re:cams? (Score:3, Informative)

      They had one mounted on the side of the rocket looking down. The local news station here (FOX News in Orlando) was playing the feed from NASA TV when it went up, but they cut it short after the rocket went supersonic... I was disappointed.

      However, there's a night launch of the space shuttle on Friday, I'm looking forward to that. I'm thinking of visiting a friend who lives in Merritt Island.
  • dv? (Score:5, Funny)

    by RalfM ( 10406 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:20PM (#4720407) Homepage
    but did they strap a video camera to it???
    • by sohp ( 22984 )
      Yes, actually they did, and there was some awesome video closeup from just forward of the 2nd stage engine. Space Flight now has subscribers-only links at Or check back at Boeing's page in a couple of days: ash.htmlI
    • YES! The Delta IV was carrying several cameras. Video will be posted at am.shtml [] as soon as we get the tape. (I work with Ecliptic Enterprises, maker of the RocketCam(tm) system).
  • by PDG ( 100516 ) <> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:21PM (#4720416) Homepage
    I watched the event live on TV and they had a camera showing it from the rockets view.

    You could watch each stage fire off. Pretty neat.

    Real question I ask, is why are they back to using the Deltas? Didn't the older ones blow up enough or are the Shuttles THAT booked up?
    • by Cali Thalen ( 627449 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:29PM (#4720455) Homepage
      The Delta rockets have a pretty good (98%+?) success rate. I have a tendancy to get them confused with the larger Titan 4 series that seemed to want to blow up a little more frequently. I believe the Titan 4 has a failure rate under 10% now...not that that's a good number, but it's better than it used to be.

      I was working for a company that did work on both, and I remember the huge disappointment when one of the Titan 4's exploded at seemed like the program would be declining rather quickly after that. Job security and all. The Delta program always seemed much more reliable in comarison.
      • The Delta rockets have a pretty good (98%+?) success rate

        But imagine if the civilian airplanes had a 98% success rate, wouldn't call that good, huh?
        Just illustrates the fact that our space technology has long ways to go before even thinking about cool stuff like colonization, space mining etc.
        • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:45PM (#4720708)
          Why? Do you think the Atlantic crossing had a 100% success rate before Europeans started colonizing North America? Why are people intolerable pussies these days? I'd like to return to the days when America was a nation full of people who had already done a lot of dangerous risky shit, and were sitting around thinking of how they could risk their hides one more time. I'd like to visit the age of space exploration when people thought astronauts were cool not because they grew earthworms in zero-gravity, but because they had the balls to climb up on top of a fucking rocket and light it.
          • Why are people intolerable pussies these days? Things like dentistry, cable TV and skepticism about the afterlife make us a bit less likely to "climb on top of a fucking rocket and light it."
          • I'd like to return to the days when America was a nation full of people who had already done a lot of dangerous risky shit, and were sitting around thinking of how they could risk their hides one more time.

            Well, most of America uses Windows; that's risky. Many sysadmins think about the next upgrade (to .NET/XP); that's risking hide one more time. I would argue that Windows is more dangerous than raids by natives any day.

    • by Gogo Dodo ( 129808 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:30PM (#4720459)
      Real question I ask, is why are they back to using the Deltas? Didn't the older ones blow up enough or are the Shuttles THAT booked up?

      Most satellites are put up with rockets, not the Shuttle.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Additionally, shuttle missions were limited to 4 per year according to new budget proposals by NASA, I think for 2003 and most of them were slated for the International Space Station. So, yes... they're that booked.
        • Great!

          Astronauts used to be pilots, and daredevils. Then they slowly phased into glorified cable men. Now they're construction workers.

          I'm glad I didn't want to be an astronaust when I was a kid, I'd have to change my background profession every 10 years to keep up with NASA's purpose. :D

        • Not to mention that all commercial satellite launches were removed from the Shuttle following the Challenger disaster.

          Which had the side-effect of making the Shuttle an even bigger financial liability than before. At least chucking out satellites to beam repeats of M*A*S*H earned some money.

          Best wishes,

      • If you check the Shuttle manifests, you'll see that the DOD has most dates. My imagination tells me most of the lifts for DOD are satellites. ...therefore, most domestic satelites are lifted by Shuttle, me thinks.
      • The Delta 4 is a new vehicle, with a core component using the first new rocket engine in the U.S. fleet since the Shuttle was designed in the '70's. It has about as much in common with earlier Delta's as Lockheed's Atlas 5 has in common with the vehicle that put the Mercury astronauts in orbit.
      • It's important to understand that the Space Shuttle (while a Marvelous piece of technology) is far to expensive for "most" satellite launches. There are numbers out there (somewhere on the internet) that compare cost per pound, for the various launch vehicles. Because it's man-rated, and much larger than the other vehicles, the shuttle is MUCH more expensive, on average.

        The shuttle, on the other hand, is perfect for getting "hands-on" time with a payload, either as a capture, repair and relaunch, or for those payloads that need tender loving care, before being sent on their way.

        That being said, when there is payload space available on an existing shuttle flight, fitting in satellite launchs that make sense for shuttle launch, is a good thing... (Satellite launches that make sense for Shuttle carriage would tend to include low-earth orbit birds) High Altitude Satellites (geosynchronous, and such-like) tend to require a "second stage" to lift them from the shuttles (approx.) 180 mile orbit... making them even less cost effective for deployment by Shuttle.

        All of that being said, it took the Challenger accident to convince NASA that the shuttle wasn't the Do-it-all pick-up-truck to the stars that they liked to think it was. Before Challenger, NASA's plans were to shift more and more Satellite launches (ever hear of Shuttle Centaur? - it's the Centaur second stage, modified for use from the shuttle payload bay) to Shuttle based launches.

        Fortunately, they are now using a "best fit" when it comes to launching Satellites, which means that if it can be done without on-site human intervention, and isn't LEO bound, it'll probably launch on a Delta, Titan, or some other suitable unmanned launch vehicle.

        -I know you think you saw me post this, but you didn't.

    • Cost and reliability (Score:5, Informative)

      by chazR ( 41002 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:58PM (#4720564) Homepage
      It's about cost, reliability and payload.
      {Note - this goes off-topic because I googled a bit and was stunned by modern launch capability. Sorry}

      A Space Shuttle can throw about thirteen tonnes into low earth orbit. That's a huge chunk of satellite. Unfortunately, NASA will charge you in excess of $500 million for the service. The reliability is excellent. One failure in over 110 launches. Probably the most reliable launcher in history. Use the Space Shuttle if it's very heavy, cost is no problem and it absolutely, certainly, definitely must get there.

      Delta is an old, proven, excellent technology. It used to be considered a 'light' launcher. Delta IV, however, can smack a meaty Thirteen tonnes [] to orbit. Yowza. I only found that out now. OK, that vehicle hasn't been built yet.

      Whoo-Hoo! I just read that page again. The Delta Heavy (not built yet, but all technology in place) can stuff 13 tonnes into Geosynchronous transfer orbit. It can throw (and this is astonishing) twenty-three humungous tonnes to low earth orbit. What the hell can compete with that?

      Well, Ariane 5 ECS-B [] can do twelve tonnes to Geosynchronous orbit. No payload assist required for orbit transfer.

      The Russian Proton []
      can do about 23 tonnes to low earth orbit. This is the only one I know the cost for. You want twenty-three thousand kilogrammes orbiting at 350 kilometers? 75 million dollars. Cash up front, go talk to your insurers. (The Proton is almost as insanely reliable as the shuttle, actually - certainly comparable with Delta)

      Right. That's it. I'm going to become a rocket engineer. It's got to beat the hell out of managing telecoms networks for a living.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        ...just don't become an editor... ;)
      • The Atlas V [] has a similar throw weight, but uses a Russian designed motor. Commercial space is a tough field right now: There are a lot of competitive products for as many payloads... Who knows, maybe they'll drag out the spaceplane one more time.
        • In fact, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter scheduled to be launched in 2005 will use the Atlas V as the launcher rocket, because the satellite is too heavy to be carried by pre-Delta IV rockets. It will be the biggest space vehicle to go to Mars since Viking was launched in 1975.
      • by Howzer ( 580315 )
        I've said it before but it needs saying again:

        The STS is a 100 tonne to LEO launch vehicle.

        How can that be? Well, if you take off that 90 tonne waste-of-space 70s technology monster that is the frickin' orbiter we could get some real lifting done around here! Has this "radical" design been actually engineered? of course it has []. It's called the Ares booster.

        Now if only NASA would get over their bad case of NIH we could do things, like, oh, I don't know, throw the ISS to orbit in 3 shots, go to Mars (2 shots), go back to the moon (1 shot)? And that's just three off the top of my head. In 6 launches. Sigh.

    • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:24PM (#4720638) Homepage
      Well, the Shuttle is booked for ISS, but the military hate using it anyway ever since the Challenger fiasco. If a Delta fails then their black projects don't get held up for years on end.

      Also, they can't buy services elsewhere (the Russians have comparable or larger vehicles, for maybe 1/10 the cost), but a lot of these space programs, pretty much, are job creation programs for American citizens so they try to keep the tax dollars in America (quite apart from any security issues).

    • It was the Delta 3 that had an abysmal debut. 2 out of 3 launches failed. Delta 2s have been around for 25-30 years and are quite reliable but are muuuuuch smaller than the 4s. The 4's first stage (the Common Booster Core) is all new technology.
    • Real question I ask, is why are they back to using the Deltas? Didn't the older ones blow up enough or are the Shuttles THAT booked up?

      Couple problems. First, the shuttle is a bit more expensive per kilogram. Second, since the shuttle carries people, you need to meet more stringent safety standards than you would with a Delta. As I understand it, the US government has been providing most of the payloads for the Space Shuttle.

    • Todays launch was for a French commercial satellite, Eutelsat []. The shuttle is banned from commercial satellite launches. See here []. Minor payloads, such as experiments, routinely fly in the Shuttle and also the International Space Station.
  • by NeMon'ess ( 160583 ) <<flinxmid> <at> <>> on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:21PM (#4720417) Homepage Journal
    What use can there be for at least 37 launch pads on one base?
    • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:32PM (#4720467) Homepage
      Not all the pads are active. For example, the launch pads they used to fire off Snarks and V2s captured from Germany in the 1940 are of limited use when launching vehicles that are literally hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of lbs heavier.

      A shuttle launch pad (there are two active) has a very different set of requirements from a Titan V or Atlas launch pad, for example, because of the SRBs, the launch escape system, and more.

      Additionally, newer pads are getting simpler and simpler to lower costs and increase reliability.
  • by YahoKa ( 577942 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:21PM (#4720420)
    I would cross my fingers, but this happened at 5:40. It's 8:20 now.
  • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:23PM (#4720427) Homepage Journal
    Looks like everything went swimmingly well.

    Don't say "swimmingly" when there is a rocket flying over the ocean with a satellite payload. Swimming is the last thing we want the satellite to do.
  • no crash (Score:5, Funny)

    by pyr0 ( 120990 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:23PM (#4720437)
    Heh...I'm guessing they *didn't* get John Carmack to design the onboard computer :)

  • by heldlikesound ( 132717 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:25PM (#4720444) Homepage

    The Delta 4 swerved suddenly of course at 5:45pm today and headed for Iraq with uncanny precsion eventually crashing into Saddam Hussein's secret, undergroud, booby trap filled hideout. A Pentagon spokesperson said "Our plan is working wonderfully, uh, I mean... to bad about the whole rocket foul-up."

  • Video here (Score:5, Informative)

    by w42w42 ( 538630 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:36PM (#4720482)
    The Seattle PI had this link [] on their webpage.
  • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:37PM (#4720484)
    Here's hoping that Boeing doesn't acquire Armadillo Aerospace. I'd hate to see what would happen if John was launching a Delta 4.
    • Yeah, well John Carmack knocked up the rocket that crashed in a couple of months. Boeing have been working on theirs for maybe 5 years. And Johns rocket nearly worked, and I'm expecting Johns next rocket to work fully, although Delta IV's will go a bit higher I rather suspect.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      And on a related note, Boeing would probably not do as good a job on Doom 3 either...
  • Full success (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajakk ( 29927 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:37PM (#4720486) Homepage is now reporting [] that the entire launch was a success. It made it through the last 37 minutes and deployed the satellite.

  • How can people so viciously attack the heaven with these 'rockets'. Hasn't anyone learned anything from the bible? God lives in those skies and we best not be attacking his realm for he may wreck havoc on us for this obvious contempt over His will.

    When will people learn?
    • Don't you watched Southpark? Saddam is building biological weapons in heaven.. WE MUST BOMB HEAVEN!!
      "SON OF A BITCH!!!"
      "Uh oh. I think they hit Azrael..."
      "Why the fuck is the can always a launch window for these people?! I swear, if I hadn't gotten up just then, those little bastards would've been in such a world of shit..."
      "Heheh. I bet they're trying to get you back for Soddom! Get it? Soddom? Heh."
      "Do you have to use that one every chance you get, Michael?"
      "Yes. Wait... World of shit! Ha! I missed that one!! You're hilarious, man... angel... whatever."
      "Come on, Enoch, that was pretty funny. Asses. Ha."
      "Michael, you are such a dork. Why didn't he read the note He put on the door?"
      "You're the only one who can ever read His handwriting."
      "Oh, right. I wish He's use that label maker we got him..."
      "Who writes 7-dimensional "E"s anyway?"
  • by linux_student ( 581144 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:38PM (#4720489)
    Unfortunately's article doesn't say much about the actual satellite, a few more details here: html
  • So can one of these puppies actually break orbit. I mean we DO need something capable of delivering a thermonuclear warhead to Mars to preemtively stop those Martians from developing nuclear weapons...
    • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:07PM (#4720593) Homepage
      Actually, surprisingly, yes it could send a few tonnes to Mars. It turns out that the 'delta-v' to get to Mars is only slightly more than the delta-v to get to Geostationary orbit; so the payload would be a bit less that launched today, but it could make it; although you'd probably need to modify the guidance system.

      There's a list of 'delta-v's here [].

  • by soulctcher ( 581951 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:39PM (#4720495)
    ...and we still don't use flying cars.
  • Can I see too? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trevalyx ( 627273 )
    Does anyone else really wish they could go see a launch live? I've had a fascination with space and rockets since I was a child (geek, what? JUST because I have glowwy-glowwy rounded uv-sensitive cables inside my computer, DOESN'T MEAN...) but have never had the fortune to see a launch in person.. Sure, watching on TV is nice and all, but it cannot begin to compare to the joy of seeing a rocket claw it's way into the sky (mmmmmm.... fiiiirrrre) and become it's own star for a while..
    • The problem with going to see a launch, especially if it's a long trip, is that you don't know whether or not it will be cancelled due to weather or other problems. For example, my dad was selected from a drawing of Boeing employees (formerly McDonnell Douglass) that had done work on the development of the Space Shuttle to go see a launch. They flew him and my mom down to Florida, but the launch got cancelled because the weather wasn't right. I also have a friend that tried to go see a shuttle launch that got cancelled by weather.
      • Guess I'll just have to go down to Florida and live near Cape Canaveral for a while.. Maybe I could do my co-op for a there...
        Anyone in south florida need a roomate? Must enjoy raves, computers, coffee, and the occasional beach romp @3AM...
        (failing that)Anyone in south florida need an employee? I'm good with computers (Naw, I'm just here because I enjoy the trolls) and I speak spanish fluently...
        *Ahem* Realistically speaking, the only rocket launches I've seen are the ones I've launched myself, of the back yard variety.. Lots of fun though....
    • by oaklybonn ( 600250 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:17PM (#4720622)
      When I was about 14, my parents moved to Jacksonville, FL. I came home from boarding school (ahem, military school) to visit there. We drove down to the cape and did the normal touristy tours of the facilities. They spent a bit of time talking about lightening detectors. Then they announced that there would be a launch today! Gosh was I excited!

      But you know what? My iron bitch mother decided that we had best drive back home *now* before the launch because she didn't want to get caught in traffic. Much whining and pouting later found me crying in the back of the station wagon as we drove away without seeing the launch. (No, I didn't do very well at military school.)

      But you know what? That launch vehicle was hit by lightning and exploded shortly after takeoff.

      And I missed that too. Fuck you, mom.
    • I saw a few Delta launches during the late 80's at Vandenberg AFB in California. Some were classified launches due to the payloads. I'd highly recommend seeing one if you get the chance. You can feel the rumble in your chest! I really didn't think it would be such a big deal, but when I actually saw one, my first response was "holy shit!"
    • Re:Can I see too? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcd7756 ( 628070 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @11:05PM (#4720775) Homepage
      I grew up on Merritt Island in the 50s thru 70's. The space shots were just a fact of life. I don't remember the Gemini's, but the Apollo's were awesome. I saw all of them. We lived about 25 miles south of the Cape. When a Saturn V went up, the windows rattled, the ground shook...even the leaves on the trees vibrated. You could feel it shaking your body. Then you'd see this monster flame slowly going up into the sky, with this teeny, tiny white speck at the top. They say those at the press stands could see the shock waves rippling across the ground toward them Even saw Apollo 17, which was a night shot. Sat out on Courtenay Parkway near Jefferson Jr. High School. Listening to the radio I could hear the countdown. At 7 seconds, the engines would cut on, (Took 7 secs at full power before it lifted off) and the whole north sky lit up like the sun coming up. A few seconds later this awesome flaming sword thing started rising up into the sky. The stars weren't visible and my shadow behind me rapidly shrank as the spacecraft ascended. It was way cool. And, it was an incredible demonstration of what flawed humanity can do when they work together. -Mike
    • by DoraLives ( 622001 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @01:59AM (#4721071)
      I was at work, at Cocoa Beach Surf Company. Apparently I work well enough, 'cause my boss kindly allowed me to go up to the top of our five story parking garage to watch the shot this evening. On top of the garage I met my son, and an old friend who is now senior photographer for the local paper hereabouts, Florida Today. My son had the scanner and his telescope (we're both pretty seriously into this). Nice view from our perch, and we could plainly see the launch vehicle, sitting there on the pad out on the Cape, lit up by the searchlights. After sundown, but not dark by any means. The guy on the Photo Ops channel counted it down and when they fired it up, it put out an impressive blaze of orange flame, and began lumbering upward. Kinda slow getting off the ground and as my son (staring through the telescope) called "tower clear!" I made a comment about how it was nearly as slow as an Atlas getting going. Soon enough, it got to moving right along, arcing seaward over the lights of Cocoa Beach with a brilliant yellow-orange flame topping a dense column of smoke from the two strap on solid rocket motors. Nice rumble when the sound finally arrived. It moved into and above the deck of thin cirrus that covered the whole sky, and remained plainly visible and audible. I wondered aloud to my son as to how it was going to look when the solids went out and were jettisoned. (The main engine is LOX/LH2 and has no sensible flame that you can see. It's see-through clear, kinda like an alcohol flame or something like that) Soon enough, the two solids separated and could be seen winking on and off, tumbling over and over in free fall, now in direct sunlight way the hell and gone up there. The Delta IV continued on its merry way, now arcing (apparently) downward, as it sped towards an aim point vastly beyond our local horizon. Surprisingly, despite the LOX/LH2 flame, it remained QUITE bright. Moreso even than the Shuttle, which has an identical deal (LOX/LH2 clear flame) going on after SRB sep. Not sure what the deal is with that. With the Shuttle, the brilliant light is coming from the inside of the three SSME's. The nozzle lining is white hot and puts off a pretty bright light. I guess that's what was going on with the Delta, also, but since the Shuttle has three motors and the Delta has one, I just wasn't expecting that much bright light following SRM sep. Anyhoo, it stayed visible for quite a while, before fading into the cirrus murk out over the ocean. Shortly after everybody else departed the parking garage roof (I'd put a couple of tourists on to the fact that there was going to be a little show today and they were fully stoked at what they saw) my son and I noticed a weird cloud at extreme altitude, with direct sunlight shining on it. We had earlier discussed whether or not this one would "blow a balloon" and had decided that it wouldn't. ["Balloons" form when rockets exit the sensible atmosphere and the exhaust gasses from the engine nozzles begin spreading out without any resistance from the surrounding atmosphere, which isn't there anymore. On evening shots, with the sun the exact perfect distance BELOW the local horizon and the sky the exact perfect shade of dark, the exhaust gas will rapidly expand, and form a weirdly beautiful {fucking GORGEOUS, to be more precise) spectacle in the darkling sky, enveloping the pinpoint brilliance of the rocket itself, before fading away a few minutes later] This bird did NOT blow a "balloon" (we've NEVER seen LOX/LH2 do it and have more or less decided it just doesn't happen), but it DID leave that weirdie bluish-white glowing cloud. Not sure what the deal was. We'll probably both be very old and very gray before an identical set of circumstances repeats. Whatever. Anyway, it was a real pretty shot, and we're glad the vehicle performed nominally and put the payload where it's supposed to be.
    • Thanks for the vicarious thrill, guys.. I appreciate it. And consider yourselves fortunate for the opportunity... It's not something that everyone gets a chance to see.
    • What you have there is a Goal.

      What you need to do is figure out what launch you want to see, I recommend the space shuttle, then save some money and go.

      What a great opportunity to begin one of the most advantages habits one can have, goal setting and achieving.
  • As I read of another stunted shot into space, another symbol of our aborted attempts to get man into the void, I can but shed a tear and say "WHERES MY FLYING CAR!?!?!"
  • by Liquidity ( 62369 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @09:52PM (#4720545)

  • Lance Bass, Bill Gates, John Ashcroft, and the PanIP bastard all have a meeting underneath it at launch time.
  • by Burgundy Advocate ( 313960 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:01PM (#4720573) Homepage
    Well, purely from an aesthetic standpoint.

    There's just something about a liquid fueled center surrounded by a bunch of boosters [].

    The whole thing just looks beefy.
  • Delta what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:02PM (#4720576)
    The story said that a "rocket" is putting a "satellite" into orbit. Forgive me for being a complete ignoramus, but what's so special about that? Hasn't this been going on for decades? Somebody explain this to me like I'm six.
    • Re:Delta what? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well son, you see... The engineers have to work for hours and hours and it costs a lot, and they launch up a sattilite with a big rocket. The satillite is how you get to see spiderman on TV.
      • The satillite is how you get to see spiderman on TV.

        Damn, I thought I watched Spiderman on cable TV... I'll call my cable operator and ask them to rename their service to satellite TV. Maybe I can sue them for lying to me all these years?
        • Where do you think the cable company gets their video feeds?
        • Maybe they SHOULD rename their service to satillite tv. Ever seen the HUGE dishes at the COX offices? Cable providers took over the satillite TV market way back by paying off congressmen, and basically killed regular satillite so only people with cable could get good service. Just like telephones, just because there's no dish at your house, you'd still use a satillite if you called outer mongolia.
    • It was a NEWER rocket that can put BIGGER things into SPACE. BIG things in space are IMPORTANT to adults.

      This was the FIRST time this type of rocket had been launched. SOMETIMES rockets blow up when they are launched, instead of going into space.

      An UNTESTED version of this rocket will be able to lift almost as much as the SPACE SHUTTLE, at a LOWER cost. This was an important MILESTONE in space technology.

  • Finally... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday November 20, 2002 @10:11PM (#4720607) Journal
    Does this mean we've gone back to the "sane" method of launching satellites, and can stop wasting the shuttles (which cost WAY more to send up than a "disposable" launch vehicle) on such mundane tasks?

    I hope so. While I totally support "real" space exploration, the shuttles have, for the past few decades, scammed the US out of billions (trillions, yet?) of dollars. We use them for nothing even remotely interesting, yet pay a fortune to maintain and occasionally launch them.
    • Hmm... I wasn't aware things like artificial diamonds, biological medicens and other stuff that would boggle your mind were uninteresting
      • All those things did indeed come about as byproducts of the US space program (well, "better" artifical diamonds, I think we had some variety before NASA)...

        But none of those have anything to do with the vast majority of shuttle missions - namely, launching satellites for 10x the cost of a disposable launch vehicle...

        Like I said, I TOTALLY support the space program (although it seems to have gotten a bit crufty and needs an overhaul). But use the shuttles to do real science, not as a military transport or a commercial cargo-ship.
      • Artificial Diamonds ? I was not aware of the connection to "space technology". Most efforts looked rather earth-bound to me like the works of the FHG CVD Diamond group: IAF [].
    • I agree. We have wasted 2 decades of space travel
      sending up shuttles with hokey experiments. The
      ISS should have started 10 years ago, using the
      shuttle as, hey, a "shuttle". But satellites and
      such are best launched using disposable hardware.
      We need people to stay in space, for months and
      even years, so we can learn about extended living
      in space. The ISS is that. Going to Mars?
      We couldnt go to the moon now if we tried. Forget
      Mars for 50 years. How about putting up space
      stations and living centers, get 10-100 people
      living in space. We can do hokey experiments from
      space stations. We can send scientists and such
      to REALLY do experiments and see some results.
    • ... We use them for nothing even remotely interesting, yet pay a fortune to maintain and occasionally launch them.

      Some of the missions seem to have lacked, shall we say, hard science?

      • What are the politico-economic effects to NASA of launching a Brevard County, FL US Representative into space as member of the shuttle crew [] ?
      • What are the politico-economic effects to NASA of launching a US Senator [] into space as a member of the shuttle crew?
      • Experimentation into the adhesive properties of Post-It-Notes (tm) in weightlessness. (okay so I made that one up - I hope).

  • For some reason that just totaly blows my mind:

    And that fact that the new Atlas V is based on a russian engine?????

    That just depresses the heck out of me......
  • by fname ( 199759 ) on Thursday November 21, 2002 @12:18AM (#4720979) Journal
    Well, at one point the plan was to use shuttles to launch all the US satellites-- commercial, civil and military. In 1985, there were supposed to be 15 (!) launches. The shuttles were going to VERY inexpensive. The challenger accident happened, and, after a serious re-examination, the program was really tightened up and its mission was narrowed.

    This led to the rebirth of the Delta, the Delta II, to launch the new GPS satellites (planned for shuttle originally). Reagan announced that shuttles were not to be used for commercial satellite launches, and the commercial launch industry was reinvigorated.

    Fast forward 10+ years, the AF decided they need better launch options, give Lockheed-Martin and Boeing (nee Mcdonell Douglas) 1/2 Billion dollars each. They used this to develop the EELVs (Delta IV and Atlas V).

    The point of the EELVs is to replace the Delta II and Titan IV, as far as the Air Force is concerned. Commercial satellites just aren't launched on the shuttles anymore. One or both of the EELVs may be used to launch the new space plane NASA plans to build, and variants could be used to help launch the replacement for the shuttle.

    Any of these rockets can get you to Mars, or at least a Rover. NASA uses Delta IIs for most of their Mars missions, which is much smaller than the IV. Bigger rocket, bigger payload.

    As for the shuttle, it's an amazing piece of technology that is completely unappreciated due to its string of successes, high cost, and early problems. The marginal cost of a shuttle is about $40 million, not $500 million. That higher number comes from dividing the shuttle budget ($2 billion) by the number of launches/year (4). Adding one flight costs $40 million that year, although it will shorten the life of the shuttle, so that needs to be taken into account.

    Then realize that the shuttle is the heaviest launcher in the world right now, it can put more payload into orbit than any other system. That does not include the mass of the shuttle itself. There may not be a space vehicle as versatile, powerful and reliable as the Space Shuttle for another 50 years. It's a shame the shuttle will never recover from its early problems.
    • The shuttle is the heaviest launcher in the world right now, it can put more payload into orbit than any other system. That does not include the mass of the shuttle itself. There may not be a space vehicle as versatile, powerful and reliable as the Space Shuttle for another 50 years.

      How much a launcher can put on orbit depends also on the orbit. Shuttle may be useful when putting heavy loads to low orbits. Getting the payload to geostationary (many communiations satellites) or other high orbits (e.g. INTEGRAL satellite observatory has 3 day orbit going halfway to Moon at apogeum), or launching probes to other planets is easier with Delta.

      Wasting fuel on getting the shuttle to high velocities needed to reach these orbits is just stupid. If the astronauts wanted back home after being fried in the (Van Allen) radiation belts, an extra load of fuel is needed. In principle the Shuttle could be used to get an upper stage and the real payload to a lower orbit, but it does not make sense.

      The astronauts are a problem. Plenty of equipment is needed to keep them alive, they can't take that much radiation, and you want them back. A robotic shuttle (like Buran) or preferably fully reusable lower stages would be much, much better for simply putting stuff on the orbit.

    • Actually, the larger Delta IV and Atlas V launchers will be used on the next generation of Mars exploration probes.

      Already, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be launched on top of the Atlas V; future Mars missions carrying payloads to examine the Mars atmosphere by glider and free-flying balloon and eventually a Mars soil sample return mission will likely need these bigger launchers.
    • I found it amusing the other day while watching Moonraker (Roger Moore Bond, 1973). That a private orginization (a huge one, but private none-the-less) would have 5-6 of their own shuttles, and the US quite a few more? A good example of when bureaucracy and politicking gets in the way of vision.
  • With all these new rockets I hope that space tourism can be expanded beyond paying $20 mils to the Russians.
  • The Delta 4 class of rockets are powered by the only brand-new large rocket engine developed in the US since the Space Shuttle Main Engine -- which was developed during the early 70s. The funny thing is that Rocketdyne (now a division of Boeing) didn't actually have anybody there anymore who knew how to design rocket engines.

    So, it ended up just like the movie Space Cowboys. Boeing rounded up all of their retired engineers, and put them to work designing one last engine. My neighbor went shuffling out every morning to work, coming back each evening with stars in his eyes for getting to work on this.

    His take on this engine, confirmed by reports in Aviation Week, is that it is a great advance over the previous state of the art. It's remarkably simpler than previous engines, and operates at dramtically lower pressures -- trading a tiny bit of efficiency for dramatically higher reliability and manufacturability.

    It's great to see that everything worked as planned. Almost everything in the Delta 4 is new (except the name 'Delta' :) ) and any of thousands of things could have gone wrong, but apparently they've got something solid going here.

    What will be really impressive is the first launch of the heavy lifter version of the Delta 4. Where the launch yesterday had a core vehicle with two small strap-on solid boosters, the heavy-lift version has three copies of the core side-by-side. It should be an absolutely beautiful launch, with the three RS-68s burning away with clean oxygen/hydrogen flames, and no smoky solids getting in the way. I can't wait.



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