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NASA News Science

Shuttle Launch Delayed Again, Possibly Until December 111

An anonymous reader writes "NASA engineers worked overnight trying to fix the electrical problem that forced the launch of space shuttle Discovery to be delayed again. Mission managers will meet later Wednesday to figure out if a launch on Thursday is even possible. The tentative plan is to have Discovery lift off Thursday at 3:29pm. If that does not happen it would be rescheduled for Sunday. If it cannot launch Sunday then it will have to wait until December. NASA engineers have a lot of work on their hands Wednesday morning. Discovery has an electrical issue that forced officials to postpone its liftoff, which had been rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon."
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Shuttle Launch Delayed Again, Possibly Until December

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  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:09PM (#34116364)

    Interesting stuff indeed. It's probably a good thing that NASA is demanding certainty from it's engineers before clearing Discovery for launch.

    And part of the reason I don't trust private sector space exploration at this stage of space exploration..

  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:13PM (#34116412)

    And part of the reason I don't trust private sector space exploration at this stage of space exploration..

    Any private launch company who killed its passengers one time in fifty would be out of business very fast. As far as I remember Branson is planning over a hundred test flights before putting passengers on SS2.

    And the main reason this is an issue is because a failure which caused an engine shutdown early in the flight would require an RTLS abort which is probably unsurvivable, and a failure later in the launch would require an ATO abort which would prevent them from getting to ISS.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:17PM (#34116460)
    To be fair, if the Buran design is superior it's likely because they started with the shuttle design and improved on it, whereas the shuttle was designed from the ground up. The Russians were (and are) clearly very good at designing space vehicles, but it's a lot easier to come up with a better design if you start with the design your opponent already came up with.
  • Re:Why bother? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:17PM (#34116464)

    >We also could build a modern Saturn V with better metallurgy, and computers very easily.

    You could also create a modern rocket with the same costs. There's no reason to revive 60s technology and the cost savings of doing so are borderline non-existent and you have the liability and cost of using 50 year old tech.

    Not to mention that LEO is yesterday's problem and is solved using technology being built by private companies like SpaceX. Why spend 100 billion dollars on some new system just to hop to the ISS? Use SpaceX and be done with it.

    NASA will probably use the DeltaIV or the Atlas V heavies for their next rocket, instead of building a new costly rocket anyway. Unless Congressmen who want to bring the pork home get their way and force NASA to build a new rocket, which seems likely especially after GOP gains.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:23PM (#34116528)

    And how would they know that if they haven't tried it? Paper pushers made numbers look good. Reality made numbers look bad. Reality is where space shuttle flies.

    There is nothing comparable to the Hubble. People like you, doing nothing but paper pushing, can't even grasp the numbers never mind the science.


    "From its original total cost estimate of about US$400 million, the telescope had by now cost over $2.5 billion to construct. Hubble's cumulative costs up to this day are estimated to be several times higher still, with US expenditure estimated at between $4.5 and $6 billion, and Europe's financial contribution at €593 million (1999 estimate)." - reason? fuckups.

    The mirror was not correct shape too. Reason? Another human fuckup. "The Allen Commission found that the main null corrector, a device used to measure the exact shape of the mirror, had been incorrectly assembled—one lens was wrongly spaced by 1.3 mm.[54] During the polishing of the mirror, Perkin-Elmer had analyzed its surface with two other null correctors, both of which correctly indicated that the mirror was suffering from spherical aberration. The company ignored these test results as it believed that the two null correctors were less accurate than the primary device that was reporting that the mirror was perfectly figured.[55]"

    So, thanks to the Shuttle, it was fixed. No shuttle, Hubble is not very useful.

    result: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Improvement_in_Hubble_images_after_SMM1.jpg

    And Hubble is productive since 1990 to 2010+ - 20 year life!

    The service missions and ISS assembly are themselves important to understand how to do work in space. Prior to ISS and Hubble, no long space walks were necessary.

    But then why bother arguing with someone like yourself. Someone that is against knowledge, but all for spending $1,000,000,000 per day in Iraq during height of the invasion..


  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:46PM (#34116804) Homepage Journal
    Well, believe it or not, the type of data that reflects this particular fault would need to be gathered just to allow the engine controllers to function properly. In other words, the redundancy that is built into such a two channel system is in-built so that both processors can check one another in order to have one more reference input to their feedback loop. If I have controller 1's best estimate of the current system state, and I have controller 2's best estimate of the system state, and I have a third estimate of the system state uploaded to the launch vehicle through telemetry resources based on observed flight characteristics, then then I have three system states that I can compare against one another in order to develop and process a command set for the next clock cycle. This type of three-state estimation is pretty much necessary just to damp your transient responses in any highly dynamic system within a reasonable amount of time. Without such a system, your controller often cannot damp out the transient responses for any given state variable and your system decays into an unstable (exploding) mode. In other words, no steady state is achieved.

    That said, in order to achieve stable flight (something already demonstrated by the space tourism industry with SS2, Falcon 1 and Falcon 9), the space tourism industry is going to have to have these checks inbuilt on their systems. They wouldn't be able to fly without them (in fact, considering the complicated geometry for SS2, I would be extraordinarily shocked if they could achieve any stable flight without at least 4 redundant state readings). Ergo, this type of pedantry is a necessity in order to have a functioning vehicle. Thus, the likelihood of the space tourism industry killing customers by skimping on these kinds of checks seems highly unlikely, if not entirely impossible, by the very nature of designing a controllable, complicated launch vehicle. Now, don't get me wrong, the space tourism industry (and NASA) very well could kill customers by various other means. I just don't think a problem like this would be the likely cause based on little more than my own experience in designing flight controller systems (as well as an undergraduate degree focused on that subject).

    Of course, you might just be trying to say that, while NASA is willing to slip a launch and miss a launch window in the name of certainty, the space tourism industry might not. Many 'dotters probably feel that an industrial launch industry would say, "Waiting a day will cost us X many dollars in profits, launch anyways!" (kind of like NASA did with Challenger). Personally, I also find this highly unlikely as dead customers don't tend to be able to spend more money on your company. If Branson blows somebody up, he can't count on them to fly a second time. Combining that with the fact that any engineers involved in such a company would promptly quit (because no engineer wants a customer's death on their conscience, trust me on that), and the company would then undergo a brutal brain drain and a period of stagnation, leads me to conclude that no entrepreneur (especially one that intends to fly on his own hardware) would be willing to take that chance. As you seem to imply, companies want, more than anything else, to protect their profit. Anyone getting involved in the commercial space industry that is flying hardware would not be so dull as to think that killing their customers will increase their profits.

    Saying, "Hey look, my company is flying people into space every week!" is awesome and generates a sense of pride.

    Saying, "Hey look, my company has only killed five people in the last five years!" brings on epic levels of shame and thoughts of suicide.

    That is just my $0.02 on the matter though.
  • Re:Tea Party Tard (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @04:57PM (#34116926)

    you can't fight your own battles? you wish to deny others their opinion?

    why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

    the truth threatens you. you're completely pathetic.

    Pathetic is when you need all those sockpuppet accounts because you can't just maintain a single account in good standing. you are NOTHING. bitch. A single account with a single karma rating threatens you. You're completely pathetic. Keep running away from the down-mods you soundly earn, you coward fuck.

    I'd ask you what you are afraid of but we already know. You are afraid of being judged on the merits of what you post. That is why you have to keep creating new accounts.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:08PM (#34117018) Homepage
    Will you just stop? You are either deliberately misleading or didn't quite get the post. Hubble was designed to be serviced by the shuttle. The ulterior purpose was to justify the shuttle program and, more specifically, the budgetary outlays for it. Had the Hubble been designed to be machine-serviceable, it would have been much cheaper overall. That's the point the parent was making. Nobody is criticizing the Hubble. It was and is certainly a great piece of hardware that, unlike most NASA boondoggles (e.g.ISS), actually produced both an enormous amount of scientifically useful data and a grand collection of beautiful and inspiring images.

    The corrupt military-congressional-industrial complex of which NASA is but a part is determined to spend as much money as is humanly possible in order to maximize the amount they manage to skim off.
  • Re:Why bother? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:02PM (#34118898)

    NASA Shutle is incredible, besides they kill the original project.
    Buran, same being a AERODYNAMIC copy, and a lot of other systems copy is amazing to.
    But besides be a copy. Buran do have more in original concepts of shutle than the own nasa shutle.
    and they develop some techonology that already still ahead for nasa today.
    Maybe if and AFTER the Buran, the new Shutles do copy some ideas from Buran ( like buran copy nasa).
    Today we still do have a shutle.
    The most important from all. The russian, do have a ROCKET capable of put BURAN, PAYLOAD, and the own rocket in space.
    This was one of most important point about all thing of CONSTALATION, NEW ROCKET.
    Its what russians already do.
    Both NASA and Russia, do a good job, When the politics/military come one.
    The lost here. IS.
    There 2 technology forks, from the same basic design ( The buran and the nasa shutle), Copy or not and both one doing another better in some way, are lost. ( of course we learn a lot and use this learn in lot of things).
    Today we are coming back to old idea of big managed capsules ( the nasa one will never be done, the X project heavy cargo, the esa/russian ones, the japanese one and china). all are the same.

    Everything come to basic concept about what was suppose to be the shutle.
    In this point.
    Technology, cost, manageability and usability. Buran was more closed to this original project. BEING or not a COPY.
    About the SHUTLE PROJECT by all.
    The most important here are the launchers. There is the point. Buran by own is just a reusable big container well donne.
    Shutle do have engines and all kind of sensible technology inside that put more to trouble and be more expensive.
    Buran was to be sold for anyone want to pay, and was cheap. no one buy. Just because THE AERODYNAMICS by itself, today is well know. the afterwards inside are almost nothing.
    Same the Shutle. Anyone can buy one ( nasa put to sold, all shutles, already, and is cheap). But can do nothing because of level of complexity.

    Same time we lose we win with shutles/buran.
    The pity is an era end. And not a news one in horizon.
    Im the dreaming generation of Shutles, Mine dad was from dreaming generation of Apollo, mine grand-dad was the dreaming generation of SCI-FI crazy book. Mine son will be the dreaming generation of lawyers/government trying to discover what we are thinking.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling