Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby paperburn1 » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:15 am

It is my understanding that this was the first test of a new fuel type. It was polymer-plastic based rather than normal rubber tire based product that they were using. Ground test of this fuel were performed successfully with no indication of any problems. It's my understanding that the reason for switching to this fuel type was to provide a little bit more thrust.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby KitemanSA » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:44 am


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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby Aero » Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:45 am

Do we have a thread regarding the SS2 failure in flight test? One dead, the other pilot is in critical condition.
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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby GIThruster » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:54 pm

Yeah, it's been getting posted here. early rumor is they test pilot rotated the tail section early at Mach 1 instead of the designed Mach 1.4 and this may have led to the failure. Sounds like it just broke up. If this is true, the new plastic based rocket motor would long earlier have burned out. The tail rotates for reentry only.
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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby D Tibbets » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:09 pm

To error is human... and I'm very human.

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:48 pm

Flying at transonic speeds can cause several problems. The most obvious are control reversal and flutter. Sometimes an aircraft get into a configuration that will cause severe buffeting especially when going from supersonic to transonic speeds. One would think that the engineer that spaceship one would have accounted for the these factors. Perhaps the feathering effect was deployed to soon, the air too thick and it somehow got into a regime of flight that tore apart as it decelerated through mach one. That was the doom of many test flights that manage to make supersonic speed. As soon as they started to slow they tore up into pieces.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

paperburn1
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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:06 pm

As far as to my understanding, the only good thing that will come out of this problem they will will be able to figure out exactly what went wrong. The flight vehicle was heavily instrumented, aglow with live and recorded telemetry. Even to the point of having six different cameras mounted to observe the control surfaces in-flight
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

paperburn1
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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:58 pm

I just watched an NTSB briefing and the preliminary investigation revealed that the tail feathering mechanism was unlocked at Mach 1.0. This lever is not supposed to be moved to the unlocked position until Mach 1.4. Two seconds after the lever was moved to the unlocked position flight elementary terminated with the disintegration of the aircraft. Currently it is unclear if the secondary switch that actually moves the tail into the feathered position was actuated. In my experience working with aviation for the past 30 years and I have some familiarity with transonic and mach flight this was the absolutely worst time for any control surface to move. Right at the point when they were transitioning from sub Mach to Mach speeds. With the current data that we have in place is my opinion that when they unlock the tail there was a control reversal effect on the tail plane that sucked into a position that cause the aircraft to tear apart.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby GIThruster » Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:27 am

"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby Skipjack » Tue Nov 04, 2014 4:29 am


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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby mvanwink5 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:24 am

Face it, the unlocking procedure based on speed alone as it has been reported makes no sense if the rocket is still firing, as whether speed is mach 1 or 1.4, releasing the manual safety interlock while the rocket is thrusting removes your safety from a catastrophic tail brake system malfunction.

I guess at some point this will be clarified, but for now it makes no sense to me.
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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby Tom Ligon » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:57 pm


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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby DeltaV » Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:18 pm

I was at Apollo 12 and STS-3.

Apollo 12 got hit by lightning (inside a cloud, didn't see the strike).

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby D Tibbets » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:10 pm

If the feathering lock was released early, it raises several questions. Why the Mach 1.4 limit during powered assent.It seems it should be locked out until after rocket burnout, and deployed only when in space. Was the lock out lever actuated by the pilot, or was it knocked out of position by the G forces as the rocket fired and the aircraft was jarred and shaken? If there is a lockout switch and also an actuater switch, how did they both get actuated. Again, pilot , mechanical failure, or if one or both actuaters were computer controlled, a failure there?

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Re: Orbital Sciences rocket explodes on launch

Postby paperburn1 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:30 pm

As posted by DK in the spaceship two thread
There's some really good discussion on the NASA Spaceflight Forum. The consensus there seems to be that the feather unlock is done during the burn so that you have the option to abort the burn if it won't unlock. Once the burn is done you're headed for space no matter what you do. If you find out at that point that you can't configure for reentry, it's too late.

This makes perfect sense to me as the higher-speed would put them in a flight regime that would not have dynamic instabilities due to crossing the mach threshold. One could theorize that at anything above Mach 1.1 the dynamic forces on the tail plane would hold it in the correct position. As stated earlier in my theory at Mach or slightly below mach control reversal is a distinct possibility not to mention the dreaded flutter that was the death of many test air craft.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.


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