Christmas Fail

India’s space program gets a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking.

Indian Rocket Explodes Seconds After Liftoff

An Indian space rocket carrying an advanced communications satellite exploded in smoke and fire just seconds after lifting off from a launch pad at the Sriharikota space center in Andhra Pradesh state, about 50 miles from the city of Chennai.

The Christmas Day launch of the satellite had originally been planned for December 20, but was delayed after engineers discovered a leak in one of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (GSLV) engines, the United News of India reported.

The GSLV was carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into orbit when it strayed from its planned flight path, and was deliberately blown up by mission control 47 seconds after liftoff, according to state-owned Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

Radhakrishnan said the GSLV developed an error shortly after takeoff, and then lost command, resulting in a higher angle in the flight.

“That caused a higher stress, breaking up the vehicle,” he said.

The GSLV exploded “at an altitude of 4.9 miles (8 km) and the debris have fallen in deep sea,” Radhakrishnan said.

See also:
Indian space rocket explodes soon after launchIndian rocket explodes after take-off
Indian rocket explodes on launch
Satellite-Carrying Indian Rocket Explodes After Launch
Unmanned Indian rocket explodes
GSAT-5P, GSLV-F06 were not insured
ISRO teams analysing data to pinpoint GSLV failure
Heavier payload caused Indian rocket’s failure: Expert
Disaster leaves Isro with 1 cryo engine
GSLV failures fuel disappointment and anxiety
GSLV failure sparks safety fears for 2016 manned space flight

Apparently, this isn’t the first time this particular type of rocket has failed.

/India might want to rethink their plans to use these rockets for manned flights

Better Luck This Time

After failing to remove a broken coolant pump last Sunday, NASA and two American spacewalkers regrouped, tried again, and were successful this time.

Space station spacewalk saga: faulty pump removed, more work ahead

Two crew members from the International Space Station took a major step toward replacing a critical piece of the orbiting laboratory’s cooling system today, following a failed attempt Sunday.

During a 7 hour, 26 minute spacewalk, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Army Col. Douglas Wheelock removed a coolant pump on the outside of the station, clearing the way for another spacewalk Monday to install an on-board spare.

The pump failed unexpectedly on July 31, cutting in half the station’s capacity to shed heat generated by its electrical systems, laboratory experiments, as well as six active astronauts.

The six crew members aboard the station were never in danger, NASA officials have emphasized. But the outage forced mission managers to significantly curtail research activities on the orbiting lab.

“Lots of smiles down here guys,” came the word from mission control as Dr. Caldwell Dyson and Colonel Wheelock sat in the air lock after the spacewalk.

A major fix-it project

Swapping the coolant pumps represents one of the 14 most difficult maintenance jobs station crews face. Spacewalks ordinarily take weeks to plan because they require detailed choreography. But the urgency of returning the station’s cooling system to full capacity prompted planners to accelerate the process for a repair job astronauts had trained for with only the broadest of brush strokes.

For instance, last night, engineers were still working on procedures governing the use of the station’s robotic arm for today’s effort. The broad-brush plan for removal of the pump that astronauts used in training had assumed that the arm wouldn’t be available.

Clamping an astronaut to the end of the robotic arm, then having him hold a 780-pound pump steady while a crew member inside the station moves the two to the spot where planners want to deposit the pump – that’s a procedure planners would rather not develop at the last minute, mission officials said.

But they did.

“There are so many facets to a major change out that you just don’t really get to tackle” in the planning stage “unless you train for it at a very detailed level, which we hadn’t done yet,” said Michael Suffredini, NASA’s space station program manager, during a post-spacewalk briefing.

See also:
Spacewalkers make space station coolant repairs
Space Station Repair Job Makes Headway
Astronauts remove cooling pump from space station
Astronauts Successfully Remove Failed Pump on International Space Station
Astronauts successfully remove faulty pump outside ISS
Astronauts progress in mission
Spacewalkers remove railed ammonia pump on space station
Spacewalk Fail

Chalk one up for NASA ingenuity and our adaptable, seat of the pants spacewalking astronauts.

/let’s just hope installing the replacement pump goes more smoothly than removing the old one

Two Months Later And Still Waiting . . .

Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail!

Testing? We don’t need no stinkin’ testing, either the damn thing works or it doesn’t, get on with it!

‘A Whale’ mega-skimmer arrives in Gulf of Mexico, testing begins

The modified ship is being hailed as the “world’s largest skimming vessel” and is being tested in waters north of the oil spill to see if it can safely skim 21M gallons of oil per day.

The 1,100-foot long tanker, called “A Whale,” was designed to carry iron ore and crude oil. However, according to ABC News, after hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, “the owner of the ship, mysterious Taiwanese billionaire Nobu Su, ordered his engineers to cut vents in the bow and redesign the tanks inside, creating the largest skimming vessel in the world.”

The offer by Nobu Su and his company, TMT Shipping, was accepted by U.S. government officials on the condition that tests be conducted to see if the modified ship will work for skimming purposes. As mentioned in the video above, “this type of retrofitting has not been done before.”

According to ABC News, Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said, “We’re anxious to find out how effective it will be. But it is a very large ship that’s been converted to be able to recover oil, and we’ll see how it goes.”

CNN reports that the A Whale arrived in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and testing took place Saturday and Sunday. Initial test results are expected on July 5.

See also:
Gulf oil spill update: A Whale skimmer test continues, oil pushes into Louisiana marshes (pictures)
World’s largest skimmer finally arrives in Gulf, but still needs federal approval
Largest skimmer in the world must be deemed ‘effective’ by the federal government before it’s allowed to help with oil clean-up
‘A Whale’ skimmer enters gulf oil spill cleanup
EPA Administrator “Would Not Go Into the Water Today” as Oil Skimmer Attempts to Clean Oil from the Gulf
BP Oil Spill Live Updates: A Whale Skimmer Launched to Solve Problems
A Whale continues skimming operations
‘A Whale’ Supertanker Oil Skimmer Offers Hope for Gulf Spill
Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT)

So let me see if I understand this correctly. We have a giant oil skimmer that can theoretically clean up the Gulf in a week, but the EPA is withholding permission for it to operate because the EPA is worried that the oil laden water that the A Whale scoops up might somehow magically come out on the other end less environmentally friendly, is that it? GOOD GOD, HOW CAN THE A WHALE MAKE THE WATER ANY WORSE THAN IT IS NOW? WHAT KIND OF OBAMA ABOMINATION OPERATION ARE WE RUNNING HERE ANYWAY?

/hello, are there any sane adults in charge here?

Missed It By That Much

Oops.

Unmanned capsule misses space station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship sailed past the International Space Station instead of docking on autopilot, as engineers on Earth struggle to determine what went wrong.

A telemetry lock between the Russian-made Progress module and the space station was lost and the module flew past at a safe distance. NASA said the crew was never in danger and that the supplies are not critical and will not affect station operations.

NASA said that it will not attempt another docking today. Russian flight controllers don’t know yet what caused the failure in the unmanned modules automated docking system.

The robotic cargo ship Progress 38 was slated to dock at the space station at 12:58 p.m. ET (1658 GMT) but lost its navigational lock on the orbiting lab about 25 minutes before the rendezvous.

“The Progress literally flew past the station, but at a safe distance from the outpost,” NASA commentator Rob Navias said. “The station crew reported seeing the Progress drift beyond their view, as they worked to reestablish telemetry with the spacecraft.”

The Progress 38 spacecraft flew by the space station at a distance of several kilometers (a couple miles) away, posing no threat of impact. But because of its orbit, there may not be a second chance to dock the spacecraft by remote control today, Navias said.

Known in Russia as Progress M-06M, the new Progress 38 spacecraft is packed with nearly 2.5 tons of fresh food, clothes, equipment and other supplies for the space station’s six-person crew. It launched Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

See also:
Russian cargo ship ‘under control’ official says
Russian ship zips by International Space Station after failing to dock
Resupply vessel fails to dock with space station
Russian cargo ship fails to dock with ISS
Cargo ship misses space station docking
Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS
Unmanned cargo spacecraft misses tryst with ISS
Supply spacecraft misses space station
June 30, Soyuz-U – Progress M-06M (38P)
Progress M-06M

I’m sure they’ll get this errant Progress under control and docked with the ISS. However, it’s worth noting that, after the last two Space Shuttles stop flying, there’s no plan B anymore, it’s the Russian spacecraft or nothing.

/of course, we had a follow on to the Space Shuttle, but Obama canceled it

Return Of The Dustbuster From Outer Space

******************************UPDATE******************************

Touchdown, the crowd goes wild!

Space Probe Returns After 7-Year Asteroid Voyage

A Japanese space probe landed in the Australian outback on Monday after a 7-year voyage to an asteroid, lighting up the night sky and bringing what scientists hope is a rock sample, witnesses said.

The Hayabusa probe blazed a spectacular trail as it came in to hit the ground at a blistering speed, ending a journey to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa that began in 2003.

An Australian defense spokesman told Reuters scientists monitoring the probe’s return had confirmed it had landed and identified its location, but it would not be retrieved until daylight. Only then would it become clear if a capsule thought to contain the precious sample was intact.

See also:
Space probe returns to Earth from trip to asteroid
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Returns After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Probe returns to Earth after asteroid landing
NASA Aircraft Videos Hayabusa Re-Entry
Hayabusa completes fiery return to Earth
Mission Accomplished For Japan’s Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa

/now we just need to find out exactly what, if anything, Hayabusa brought back

******************************END UPDATE******************************

A long time ago, in a country far far away, the Japanese sent a spacecraft . . .

to land on an asteroid that looks like a giant space turd . . .

and bring back some dirt.

Japanese Probe Set to Land in Australian Outback Sunday, Returning First Asteroid Sample to Earth

A Japanese meteor-investigator probe will become a meteor itself when it returns to Earth over the weekend. The Hayabusa probe is screaming toward Earth at asteroid speed,
according to scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Scientists hope it is carrying samples obtained from a 2005 visit to the small asteroid Itokawa.

The probe’s sample-return capsule will separate from the main probe and reenter the atmosphere at 7.58 miles per second early Sunday. Scientists from NASA, the Japanese Space Agency and other organizations are planning to watch its fiery descent to learn more about how objects behave and break up during high-speed reentry.

When Hayabusa (“falcon” in Japanese) reaches an altitude of 190,000 feet, its heat shield will reach temperatures of more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the gas surrounding the capsule will reach 13,000 degrees Fahrenheit — hotter than the surface of the sun, NASA says. It is planned to fall over a large unpopulated area of Australia called the Woomera Prohibited Area.

There’s no guarantee of success — actually, scientists don’t even know if Hayabusa is carrying anything. The craft has been plagued with problems for five years.

It made two touchdowns on Itokawa in 2005 to collect rocks and soil, but apparently failed to fire a metal bullet designed to dislodge the samples. Then, a fuel leak left its chemical propellant tanks empty, so engineers had to use Hayabusa’s ion engines to guide it home. Still, Hayabusa was the first spacecraft to land on a celestial object other than the moon and take off again.

See also:
Japan’s “Falcon” Spacecraft Returns—Asteroid Dust On Board?
Japan’s Asteroid Mission Set For Fiery Re-entry Over Australia
Japan Itokawa asteroid mission set for re-entry
Asteroid spacecraft makes its way back to Earth
Japanese space probe returns home Sunday
Japan asteroid probe to make historic return to Earth
Hayabusa just hours from home
Scientists wait in Outback for Japanese spacecraft
Japan’s ‘Falcon’ Set to Land After Seven-Year Asteroid Mission
Ames Research Center
Ames Research Center
JAXA | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Hayabusa
Hayabusa

Well, I wish JAXA luck and hope they retrieve lots of asteroid dirt to play with. Otherwise, it’ll be a lot like Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault.

/let’s all hope Hayabusa didn’t pick up any cosmic hitchhikers like in The Andromeda Strain

Here We Go Again

How long before it breaks down again? They should have had the Germans build it in the first place.

CERN restarting Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, is set to restart late Monday following a technical break and a glitch on Saturday.

The first proton beams of 2010 were circulated in the Large Hadron Collider on Saturday, CERN said Monday. The machine had been undergoing technical maintenance for 10 weeks. However, soon after the beams were circulated Saturday, they had to be stopped to allow for maintenance to the cryogenic systems that help regulate the superconducting magnets, according to CERN, which is also known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

“Engineers had to access the filters for the cryogenic systems,” a CERN representative said Monday. “They are fixing that, and we expect…beams to be circulating again tonight.”

LHC to restart following break and glitches

The world’s largest particle accelerator is to restart on Monday following a technical break and glitches in the machine.

The first proton beams of 2010 were circulated in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on Saturday, Cern said on Monday. The machine had been undergoing technical maintenance for 10 weeks.

However, soon after the beams were circulated on Saturday, the beams had to be stopped to allow maintenance to cryogenic systems which help regulate the superconducting magnets, according to Cern.

“Engineers had to access the filters for the cryogenic systems,” a spokesperson for the organisation said. “They are fixing that, and we expect to beams to be circulating again tonight.”

The beams will be injected at an energy of 450 gigaelectron volts (GeV). The beam energy will be slowly increased until it reaches 3.5 teraelectron volts (TeV) per beam, which is expected to happen in 2 to 4 weeks.

Cern said at the beginning of February that it plans to run the LHC for up to two years at 3.5 TeV, then shut the machine down prior to preparing it to run at 7 TeV per beam.

The LHC has been designed to conduct experiments that will reveal new physics, including proving the existence of the Higgs boson, a hypothetical elementary particle.

The LHC as a project has had mixed fortunes. It was forced to shut down shortly after powering up in 2008 following a helium leak, and was then subject to various delays to its restart. However, when it did start up again in November it quickly became the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, before being halted again for maintenance.

See also:
Hadron collider resumes, full speed seen in weeks
Large Hadron Collider back in action
“Big Bang” Collider Restarted In Europe
Large Hadron Collider briefly back on over weekend
Large Hadron Collider in multi-magnet quench hiccup
Design Flaws Caused the Massive LHC Glitch
Watch Out For Black Holes!
Saw This In a Movie Once, Pretty Sure It’ll Work*

/round and round it goes, what will end up getting blown up this time, no one really knows