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NASA Space

Glory Satellite Lost To Taurus XL Failure 246

FullBandwidth writes "The protective nose cone of an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus XL rocket carrying NASA's Glory environmental research satellite apparently failed to separate after launch Friday, preventing the spacecraft from achieving orbit in a $424 million failure. It was the second nose cone failure in a row for a Taurus XL rocket following the 2009 loss of another environmental satellite."
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Glory Satellite Lost To Taurus XL Failure

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  • Damn.

    Skip eating lunch today, and "make up" for the loss.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

      Skip eating lunch today, and "make up" for the loss

      I've got a better idea. Let's ask the top 1% not to open the second bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild at dinner for a week and pay for the space program for a year.

      • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:00AM (#35379336) Homepage

        You mean the same 1% of media elites and politicians that demand the rest of us do with less while at the same time living their hypocritical lifestyle? I agree.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:07AM (#35379406) Homepage

          I prefer the bottom 99% show up at the 1%'s homes with torches and pichforks and solve the whole problem in a night.

          • by Xoltri ( 1052470 )
            What if you're at the top of the bottom 99%? Might be awkward showing up at your neighbors house with a pitchfork!
          • Oh man, I better go long in pitchfork and torch futures ;)

      • I think a student phrased it perfectly. []
      • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @11:39AM (#35379738)

        I've got a better idea. Let's ask the top 1% not to open the second bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild at dinner for a week and pay for the space program for a year.

        How about you put your money where your mouth rather than Other Peoples' Money? If you aren't willing to kick in, then I can't be bothered to get the 1% to kick in either.

        • by afidel ( 530433 )
          As a percentage of wealth or income I already kick in a LOT more than anyone who could be described as wealthy. Remember Warren Buffet pays a much smaller percentage in taxes than his secretary does.
        • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Friday March 04, 2011 @01:20PM (#35381124) Homepage

          The middle class pays more by percentage of their income than the upper class (even if it's not more total). The middle class also lives much closer to the line of having to cut out various expenses if income changes, as compared to the rich. We already are putting our money where our mouths are [].

  • by Menkhaf ( 627996 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:53AM (#35378634)

    Enough with malfunctioning rockets.

    How many payloads have gone to waste because of rocket failures, and at what cost? Enough to explore the idea of a sort of launch loop []?

    • by AikonMGB ( 1013995 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:01AM (#35378698) Homepage


      Don't get me wrong, I would love easy access to space, but there are enormous up-front costs to constructing a mega launch service, like a launch loop or an elevator, not to mention significant technical risks, very few of which are in the process of being retired.

      Rockets are a tried, tested, and true method of getting to space. They have put up many times the value of spacecraft as they have lost, not to mention a growing number of human payloads. They are also getting cheaper, with public ventures like SpaceX. I think it's going to be a good long while before you see someone investing heavily in alternative launch methods.


    • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:05AM (#35378732)

      I think we're a long way from any 2000km-long megastructure being a viable solution to the problem. There's a lot of good ground between rockets and sci-fi megatech that should be explored first.

      • Like what? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No offense, I'm seriously curious.

        What is the middle ground between rockets and sci-fi megatech?

        1. Rockets
        2. ...?
        3. Launch-loops / space elevators / etc.

        • by rossdee ( 243626 )

          You left out the 'profit' step. Without that, nothing will get done.

        • I was thinking something along the lines of launching to LEO from the back of hypervelocity suborbital cargo aircraft, like that X-Prize competitor but on a bigger scale. We're still talking old-fashioned chemical propulsion, of course, and there will have to be a chemical->physical switchover in launch systems eventually.

        • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
          'bout time for mr "space nutters" to pop up in this thread and berate us for wanting to better our opportunities.
        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          While rossdee has the right one word answer "profit", let's consider how the technology could play out.

          1) Expendable vehicles. Use once and throw away. Best choice when you only launch a few times a year. Minimal infrastructure.

          2) Reusuable vehicles. These range from simple reuse of parts of an expendable rocket (for example, SpaceX wants to recover the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket) to wholly reusable designs like air-breathing space planes with scramjets. Due to their design, they tend to be a
        • Well to start, we could start developing not-so-mega structures. For instance, if America could get the national momentum to develop a truly high speed rail system, not that wannabe crap that got passed in California a year or two ago, that would show that we could overcome the bureaucratic, legal, and technical challenges that high-power, high-cost, high-risk projects tend to run into. But if you look at how much kick back we get from simply trying to develop various not-so-mega infrastructure projects (re
      • only because of naysayers like yourself. We are very close to having the tech to build a space elevator. A big project like that is just want the USA needs, and having the only cheap way to and from space would secure our super power status for the next 100 years or more. Our ability to seed space with cheap orbital solar arrays and solve our energy problems would be reason enough to do it. That's not even considering all the easy material wealth that could be mined from asteroids. Flying around and working
        • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:45AM (#35379180)
          Very close? The longest carbon nanotube ever observed was only 18.5 cm long. I think LEO is a bit higher than that.
          • Really? If you are right, then so is he. At 18.5 cm, you can start meshing the things...

            • Dude seriously, Carbon nanotube are very conductive and they also tend to spontaneous combustion when flashed with a light, now imagine one reaching from the Earth's equator to LEO during hurricane season; it's not rocket science here.

              • spontaneous combustion aside, conductive is a feature, not a bug...

                • spontaneous combustion aside, conductive is a feature, not a bug...

                  Not when it get hit with a bolt of lightening [] I'm sure the 30,000 C generated in a lightening strike is enough to fry you carbon nanotubes.

                  • Because we never make ships, planes, buildings out of conductive metals... You know, there are solutions, and no-one says the cable will not be isolated.

            • Show me a process that allows you to mass produce carbon nano-tubes at 18.5 cm long in quantities large enough to start meshing them together for a space elevator cable.
              • I don't know. I don't follow the field, but not long ago, 1 cm was science fiction. So progress is made at an amazing rate.

        • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
          Not to mention that the USA is one of the few big enough countries to have such a structure.
        • Not to rain on the parade, but from where I'm sitting, I don't see the US building one of these this generation. One, you don't have remotely the political will to fund it. (I would put a Republican joke here, but I don't see the Democrats doing it either). Two, you don't have the money to do it anymore. Three, before you can start building that sort of stuff, you'd need to rebuild your manned launch capability, and you may have noticed that's not going particularly quickly.

          My money's on China being the one

          • I would put a Republican joke here, but I don't see the Democrats doing it either.

            I think you'd see a Republican support space initiatives because of the possible military spinoffs long before a "We've got to solve all our problems here on Earth first" Democrat.

            I believe that once we've diverted all our money into feel-good social initiatives and stop pushing forward the boundaries of science, we're doomed. We may already be doomed, in fact. We're pretty far along that road with all of the current 'entitlem

    • by strack ( 1051390 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:16AM (#35378854)
      you think the launch loop is a good idea because you have no idea just how chaotic a system a cable, being accelerated through a curve at some very high mach number, is. and the most minor of wobbles is enough to crash it into the sheathing and kaboom. not to mention sending something along it, that is magnetically suspended close to it. and the wear from flexing at those speeds, and the heating, and having a flexible tube in which it can be magnetically suspended in as it passes through it. a tube that must also maintain a vacuum. and a myriad of other near impossible obstacles.
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Enough to explore the idea of a sort of launch loop?

      I'm curious to know where you are going to put this thing. Its not a case of NIMBY, but NIMC (Not in My Continent)

  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @09:53AM (#35378638)

    I bet Big Oil is behind this.

    • by G-Man ( 79561 )

      Get with the times - everything these days is the fault of the Koch brothers. The KOOooOOooOOCH Brothers!

    • by gatkinso ( 15975 )

      Charlie Sheen's global warming aliens are behind it... or maybe it is just Charlie Sheen....

    • Oh come on, we can make the conspiracy bigger than that. China is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and the Republican Party wants to kill NASA's Earth monitoring program. Their motto: "What we don't know, can't hurt them."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2011 @10:02AM (#35378704)


    Just make the fairing lighter and stick a bit more fuel in the rocket, problem getting to orbit solved! As for getting the satellite out, perhaps they could stick a baby chick in who can peck their way through the shell?

    (Absolutely no idea why NASA didn't hire me, what with all my lack of qualifications and everything. I have loads of useful ideas ;)

  • second nosecone failure in a row... man. im no rocket scientist, but im pretty sure thats like, what, a few explosive bolts, something that detects main engine cutoff, with a timer backup? its not like its the fucking guidance system.
  • Everyone seems surprised about this, but getting stuff out of the gravity well is complicated and doesn't always work. I've heard stories about satellite companies with early histories that read like a Monty Python skit "Well yeah, the first rocket burned down on the launch pad. The second rocket burned down on the launch pad. The third rocket fell over, burned down and sank into the swamp." You don't launch a satellite without insurance against that sort of thing. At least then you're not out all of the se
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      You don't launch a satellite without insurance against that sort of thing.

      The US government does. I'm pretty sure they don't insure any of their satellites, they just ask Congress to fund them to build another one.

      And Delta and Atlas have a 95+% success rate.

    • And let's not forget pre-launch failures like this one [].

      (NOAA. Environmental craft seem to have the same sort of elevated failure rate as Mars missions. What is it that the martians do not want us to know about the environment?)

    • what company wouldn't want to insure a giant metal can full of rocket fuel with a multi-million dollar, fragile device on the end. I bet that little Gecko would all over it..

      So easy, a rocket scientist can do it..... sometimes....
      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        what company wouldn't want to insure a giant metal can full of rocket fuel with a multi-million dollar, fragile device on the end. I bet that little Gecko would all over it..

        If I remember correctly, Lloyds do or did launch insurance, even if no-one else does; I'm sure I read a story about them celebrating when the space shuttle recovered a couple of satellites which failed to reach their intended orbit in the 90s.

        Ultimately it shouldn't be much harder than any other field of insurance, except that launch rates are so low that you need to err on the side of caution when estimating the chance of a failure.

    • I suppose it's a matter of the cost to build Vs. the cost to insure and how big your cahonies are. I expect the insurance rate for Taurus launches are going up past break-even for a while.

  • Anybody care to venture a guess as to how much this mission would have cost if outsourced to India's Antrix/ISRO or Russia? I realise that they also had a failure a few months ago. But their success rate has generally been pretty good when it comes to launches. Are there other space agencies which are offering cheaper alternatives? China? Japan? How about American privateers (sic)?
    • Even if the launch itself were cheaper, you then have to look into getting the payload over to the launch location ... and that might not be a risk they're willing to take.

      When there were massive flight delays for some of the groups that I've worked with, they've talked about trying to get into the queue at Vandenberg, rather than Canaveral, but that'd require either trucking it across country, or a flight. Even with launch delays at Canaveral, it was costing them more to hold it on the ground at Canaveral

  • Shoulda gotten a Saturn!

  • Rocket science is still a challenging science. Where is Werner von Braun when we need him?
    • I'm pretty sure Werner von Braun never designed a payload fairing separation system. He was more into the actual rocket design itself, as in, the engine and nozzle systems and such.
  • When a Glory satellite crashes, does it make a Glory hole?

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @02:14PM (#35381880)
    if the US House of Representatives sabotaged it, given it's mission - and theirs.
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @02:40PM (#35382252) Homepage

    Also lost in this launch were three Amateur Radio Satellites [].

  • This will be the first of many failures due to the privatization of the space sector.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!