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Space Science

Delta IV RocketCam Videos 85

dmaas writes "High-quality RocketCam videos from the inaugural launch of Boeing's Delta IV rocket have just been made available (in MPEG-1 and Quicktime formats). Of note are the spectacular strap-on solid rocket booster separation, the extension of the second-stage engine nozzle, and the red-hot glow of ablative material in the second-stage engine. (disclaimer: my company prepared these videos for Ecliptic Enterprises, maker of the RocketCam system)" We did RocketCam photos for model rockets a few weeks ago, if you want to compare.
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Delta IV RocketCam Videos

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  • Obligatory (Score:4, Informative)

    by Freston Youseff ( 628628 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:14AM (#4831721) Homepage Journal
  • The large QT link seems corrupted somehow, last part is missing, try the small (file size) link, though you're not missing too much.

    In a related story: conspiracy theorists claim this footage is fake because you can't see any stars in the background..... ;-/
  • by YuppieScum ( 1096 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:21AM (#4831733) Journal
    Looks like the Gates Bros. Rocketry [gbrocketry.com] from last months story is still down.
    503 Service Unavailable

    The requested URL Bandwidth is temporarily unavailable.
    Perhaps "temporarily" now means "not while Slashdot still has a link to it"?
  • Wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trotski ( 592530 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:22AM (#4831737)
    Hey those rockets are VERY cool.... I am impressed. I wonder.

    It looks like right now they're using them for sattelite launches. I wonder, since space shuttles are gettin' kinda old and are and always have been rediculously expensive, will these Delta rockets eventually serve as the american's main launch vehicle for astronauts? That would be very cool.

    To remain a little bit more on topic, they videos look great, all of this is very exciting.
    • I am not a rocket scientist, but I always thought the whole point of the shuttle was that it is resuable, thus saving money in the long run.

      Isn't NASA working on a next generation shuttle for human missions?

      • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Soft ( 266615 )
        I am not a rocket scientist, but I always thought the whole point of the shuttle was that it is resuable, thus saving money in the long run.

        That's the idea on paper. However, this only works if the vehicle flies again and again; the current shuttle flight rate is about four to six a year (all four vehicles combined), and it requires a standing army of several thousand people to rebuild each one between missions - it is not a matter of "fueling her up, checking the oil, cleaning the windshield", more like swapping out the engines, replacing thermal tiles, and so on. And the airframes are aging, fast.

        This puts the price tag for each flight in the $300 million range, or $10,000/kg (payload mass, not counting the hundred-ton shuttle deadweight). With that kind of performance, the expendable launchers are more economical. Or you could say that the current shuttles are not, in fact, reusable.

        Many space advocates believe that we now have the technology and know-how to cut those costs by a large factor, but that NASA and the big players have no interests in doing so. Check this previous /. story [slashdot.org] about "How the West wasn't won".

        Isn't NASA working on a next generation shuttle for human missions?

        They have just relaunched an orbital spaceplane program to alleviate the ISS' dependency on Russian Soyuzes; this would be a small (reusable?) vehicle housing up to ten people, launched either by a shuttle or a Delta 4 Heavy, to be used mainly as a lifeboat for the ISS so that more than three people can stay there for extended periods.

        Other than that, the SLI program is more or less aimed at replacing the shuttle in a two or three-decade timeframe, and will probably produce yet another expensive all-in-one monster vehicle, if anything.

    • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

      They don't carry enough payload. They will carry up a 500-1000 pound satellite, but 2 people plus all the life-support crap necessary to keep them alive would weigh about the same. Not too economical to just send 2 people up, with no cargo. Also, they're not re-useable, nor cheap enough to be more economical than a re-useable vehicle. We need to send more than just people into space; we've been there, done that. Cargo capacity is the most important consideration, but cost is also important - the Shuttle holds lots of cargo, but it's too expensive to use for everything we want to send up.

      • They don't carry enough payload. They will carry up a 500-1000 pound satellite, but 2 people plus all the life-support crap necessary to keep them alive would weigh about the same.

        The Delta 4 that was just launched has a payload capacity to low Earth orbit of over 11 metric tons (24,000 pounds). The heavy version will double this. Atlas 5 and Ariane 5 are at the same level or better.

        The latest Soyuz-TMA (3 people, 14 days life support, 6 months orbital storage - little cargo, agreed) is a little over 7 tons.

        Conclude.

        • Thanks for the correction; I realized as I hit enter my example was a bit low. Oh, and yes, the other reason we don't use these for people is that it seems about every 1 in 10 of them blows up. The safety factors and redundancies aren't up to "human" standards.
          • the other reason we don't use these for people is that it seems about every 1 in 10 of them blows up. The safety factors and redundancies aren't up to "human" standards.

            It depends on the rocket, it can be as low as 1 in 30. Which doesn't prevent the Russians from sending people on expendable rockets, as they have a launch escape system (and it was actually used a couple of times), just like the Saturn 5 and its predecessors had, for Apollo. In fact, I think the shuttle is the only manned launcher ever in which people were killed on take-off...

            If we are to develop a space industry, then indeed these reliability rates are way too low.

  • Forward (Score:5, Funny)

    by denisonbigred ( 611860 ) <`ude.llenroc' `ta' `2nbn'> on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:27AM (#4831748)
    Approximately 37 minutes after liftoff, the rocket deployed the W5 spacecraft to a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a perigee of 539 kilometers above the Earth.

    Kind of makes your 37 minute commute to work seem slow, doesn't it?
  • Shuttle Cam (Score:2, Informative)

    by MrJones ( 4691 )
    Hey, the Shuttle Cam from STS-112 is also available in that page, great!
    • Also films of the XCOR glider-jet tests are on the site. Does anyone have any other info about that particular project? It looks really interesting.
  • 37 minutes (Score:5, Funny)

    by isorox ( 205688 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @05:34AM (#4831767) Homepage Journal
    Approximately 37 minutes after liftoff, the rocket deployed the W5 spacecraft to a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a perigee of 539 kilometers above the Earth.

    But will the web server last that long?

  • I like how well you can see the shadow of the shuttle's rockets on the ocean. It kind of gives a nice perspective on the scope of the launch. But it sure sucked that we missed full angle of the acent, I would like to have seen the few minutes of earth getting smaller footage. it also sucks we missed the nose jet footage and the final zero g seperation. I tell you, those booster rockets are trouble trouble trouble...NASA needs a camera wash like in Steel Battalion.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Warin ( 200873 ) on Saturday December 07, 2002 @06:18AM (#4831843)
    I wonder how the politicians that feel the space program should be cut can watch something like this and not be moved... Sure the space program is expensive, but in spite of how trite it sounds, space really is the final frontier. We've explored pretty much all of surface of our planet, and short of being into submarines (which isnt anywhere as cool as the Space shuttle!) earth orbit and beyond are the last frontier for exploration. All of human history has been about going beyond the next hill... seeking out what we dont know. It seems awfully short sighted to expect that drive to just fade away... Sometimes a concept is worth more than money.
  • Wastefulness... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neksys ( 87486 ) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 07, 2002 @07:30AM (#4831949)
    All this video did (besides impress me to the point of breathlessness) is reinforce the need for a cheap, reuseable launch vehicle. Watching 80% of the rocket fall away in stages - all those millions of dollars in raw materials - just goes to show how wasteful our current launch systems are. Even the shuttle sheds a large part of itself soon after launch - not to mention the fact that the shuttles are aging, inefficient behemoths that deserve a proper rest. We need to develop a fully reusable, inexpensive, efficient launch vehicle. No, there isn't any oil in space, and yes, it is terribly expensive to retrieve raw materials from off our planet, but the value of such a craft cannot be measured in dollars or tons - its value instead is found in the history books of the future, proclaiming it the first step in bringing the stars to our doorstep.
    • The question I have is, is there any recovery done on the parts that fall away? Do they just sink into the ocean, or are they even worth recovering -- damage from falling, child stage engine blast, etc?

      Any concern for people/ships/planes that might be flying underneath where the parts fall away or is some attempt made to ensure that the places where the stages drop is 'empty'?
    • All this video did (besides impress me to the point of breathlessness) is reinforce the need for a cheap, reuseable launch vehicle.

      Yah, like electromagnetic catapults. Heinlein was on the right track there.

    • Watching 80% of the rocket fall away in stages - all those millions of dollars in raw materials - just goes to show how wasteful our current launch systems are

      You haven't priced metals recently, have you? The raw materials for a decent sized rocket cost at most a hundred thousand dollars - not even a million. What's expensive is the production of the parts from those raw materials. That problem is easily licked - make a few thousand rockets, and the production cost drops dramatically. I lost exact count, but the total number of launches of all types from Earth in the last 50 years is something less than five thousand. We are still in the very early stages of the Space Age.
    • You'd be amazed at how wrong this conventional "reusable" wisdom is; not that you haven't put some thought into it, but history and current events shows it to be wrong.

      Take, for example, the Saturn V moon rockets. This behemoth rocket, standing who-knows-how-many stories tall, and all you get back is this teensy little capsule with three astronauts in it. Wasteful, eh?

      Well, yes it is, but engineers plan that wastefullness into the system. For example, the massive Jupiter engines that were on the first stage of the Saturn V were designed to work once, and only once. As such, you immediately can dispense with one of the largest expenses of the shuttle fleet -- namely, the tear down and inspection process following every launch. There's nothing to inspect when your launch system is expendable. Ironically, the shuttle costs more per pound of payload than the Saturn V did, even taking inflation into account, and the inspection procedures are a large part of this.

      Take it a step further and you'll see that reliability comes into play. How many shuttle launches have been delayed or scrubbed due to equipment failure? Quite a few, and it's because the shuttle has sacrificed much to the altar of reusability. Weight, the evil bugaboo of the space program, has been ruthlessly trimmed to the point where things aren't as overengineered as the were in the Apollo days. Such cuts had to be made or the shuttle wouldn't be able to carry as much as a postcard into orbit. Apollo, by contrast, was rarely delayed because the equipment wasn't being pushed as hard as the Shuttle is. Again, Saturn V's were designed with finite lifetimes, and the engineers used that to build cheaper, more reliable, but somewhat less efficient systems.

      Lastly, reusability comes at a heavy cost in payload capacity. The shuttle can only reach low earth orbit, and only a few orbital trajectories at that. Why do you think so many companies still use Delta's for satellite launches? It's cheaper and it's more reliable, otherwise you'd bet that companies would be bashing down NASA's door trying to get space on a shuttle launch.

      I'll leave you with a good analogy from the motorsports world: drag racing. A Top Fuel dragster is designed to do one thing -- run the quarter mile as fast as possible. To that end, the engines are designed to be torn down and practically rebuilt in between runs, and are junked after a very few runs. Why is that? Well, parts designers realized that to design a longer, more reusable lifespan into these engines would either diminish their competitiveness (heavier components last longer but hurt performance) or cost an unholy amount of money in exotic materials and technologies. The analogy is not complete, of course, since drag engines still cost a fortune, but you get the picture as big, dumb boosters do not cost a fortune with respect to the shuttle.

      The shuttle is, and has been, a political jobs program. It should never have been made, and should not be continued. Manned spaceflight to LEO could be just as easily accomplished with cheaper, expendable boosters like the ones we were using forty years ago. In fact, with the technology advances of today, those yesteryear boosters could be much cheaper to operate today than they were then.
  • I wouldn't like to be a bug hitting *that* windscreen.
  • by Knunov ( 158076 ) <eat@my.ass> on Saturday December 07, 2002 @07:49AM (#4831969) Homepage
    Their server is down already.

    Download a movie directly from Boeing here [boeing.com].

    QT format. The site also has Real Audio format.

    Knunov
  • Subject line says all. I've been trying to see those Gates Brothers movies, but the site has always says "503 Service Unavailable
    The requested URL Bandwidth is temporarily unavailable." Did anyone mirror them?
  • Hu Hu Hu, you said strap-on.
  • Mirror of the large QT file available here.

    http://66.111.35.100/d4_launch_2002-11-20.mov [66.111.35.100]

  • What timing... it turns out I have moderator access today.

    Should I mod this thread down to try to save my server?

    Evan Dorn,
    Ecliptic Enterprises Webmaster

    p.s. Thanks a bunch, Dan.

  • Of note are the spectacular strap-on solid rocket booster separation

    ..they said strap-on. That was cool

    /butt head

  • For those interested, the Delta IV is build in my home town of Decatur, Alabama. At construction time it was the largest Boeing building under one roof (or so they told us contractor). Massive complex. And from what I understand, the Delta IV's are one of the components of the National Missle Defense system that the Government has been developing. Interesting stuff in Alabama, lots of rockets and other stuff. ;)
  • Ecliptic, the folks who brought you the Delta IV and shuttle cameras, also sponsored us with a camera which I installed on to our EZ-Rocket [xcor.com], currently the world's only privately owned, manned rocket powered airplane. The new videos can be seen here. [xcor.com] They are from this year's AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, WI. My favorite video is the re-light, there's great vertical action and lots of good views of the airshow. There is also an older rocketcam video from our home base in Mojave, CA. Enjoy.

    --Mike
    www.xcor.com [xcor.com]

  • Folks, this brings tears to my eyes.

    I was a computer tech and systems analyst in the aerospace biz for seven years, and here's some of my thoughts as I watch this footage:

    Rocket building is about overcoming physics in a brute-force fashion, because budget concerns weigh heavily into the issue of getting your payload to low-Earth or geosynchronous orbit.

    Those payloads have varying degrees of tolerance to G-forces, thus we can't just put everything in a Mother-of-All-Cannons and shoot them into space.

    Most payloads are lifted into orbit as if there were human occupants included, whether or not there are such in the payload.

    Most rocket technology, by and large, is at this point 40 years (or better!) old. I have actually been on projects where we have had to call engineers out of retirement after 30 years because their paper drawings, which hadn't yet been digitized, were starting to fade, and we need to know WHY they had designed certain structural and electronic features into their work.

    Yes, solid fuel boosters and the shuttle are inefficient ways to get to space. We knew this before we designed the shuttle. But there is a cost-vs-efficiency trade-off which must be made, as well as a 'will to get the job done' factor. We no longer have a 'do-or-die' ethic as regards space utilization. Perhaps another Sputnik is in order...

    • What options are there other than brute-force? Other than the proposed space elevator, I doubt we will do much better. We could save some costs on a redesign, but it will still be a brute-force sit on explosives approach.
  • ... Did anyone else see the duct tape at the end of the first movie..
    Upper right hand corner.
    Around the pipe.

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