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C’mon lucky number 7! Baby needs a new pair of shoes… February 25, 2008

Posted by shubber in CRATS, death, distracting PR, hot air, Manned Space, NASA, public service announcement, smack talk, space, Wasting Money.


Can anyone see the flaw in this logic:

Senior engineers working on the Ares 1 have determined that there is a high degree of danger of catastrophic shaking vibrations in the launch vehicle, with the expected bad outcome for those brave souls sitting on top. (See previous post on this topic here).

Aviation Week Article on Ares 1-X

NASA decides that the best way to verify this risk is to go ahead and build the vehicle and then see if it does in fact shake itself to bits… and if there are such problems, they can incur the expected enormously huge cost overruns necessary to fix those potentially fatal flaws (because NASA is rolling in the $$$… no, scratch that, I was thinking of the DoD. Nevermind). The contractors will of course be happy to eat the cost of the overruns and not pass them on to the taxpayers, because they designed a flawed rocket.

Ha ha! Nah, I’m just kidding.</Bender voice>

Oh, and while I’m not a big believer in the “stand back, give us the money, and let the private sector do it” mantra of the alt.space community, they have a valid point in raising the apparent hypocrisy of Mr. Griffin’s comment that NASA can’t do such a thing because it can’t rely on the private sector for its critical path.

Although I wouldn’t necessarily call it hypocrisy. More like irony.

Where’s Danny Ocean when you need him…?

(hat tip to Walking Eagle award winner Edward Wright, for sending out a link to this article)



1. Joe Latrell - February 26, 2008

If this were a cheap prototype, semi-scale vehicle to check for this sort of a problem, I can see building and flying it. We call it a break/bust cycle. However, one does not wait until the vehicle is pretty much done before testing these issues.

Have they thought about building a miniature and trying to get a handle on the problem? It’s engineering, not rocket science.

2. Dennis Wingo - February 26, 2008

This is how the delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

3. dmduncan - February 26, 2008

Oh c’mon. they’re going to build it and see what happens? You stole that joke from a Simpson’s episode, didn’t you?

4. x - February 26, 2008

Solid rockets have been used since time began and not one of them has ever shaken to bits. They may not be taking the issue as seriously as the media, or maybe the media is taking it too seriously.

5. The People - February 27, 2008

Solid rockets have been used since time began and not one of them has ever shaken to bits. They may not be taking the issue as seriously as the media, or maybe the media is taking it too seriously.

Shaking apart of the first stage is not the issue. It’s the impact of the oscillations on the rest of the stack. The effect is inconsequential on the Shuttle, due to the large mass of the ET. Plus the axial forces are transmitted laterally, which somewhat decouples the structural interactions.

Although I think the whole Ares I approach is ludicrous, I have to say that the Ares I-X IS semi-scale, not-so-cheap prototype of the actual vehicle.

6. Eric - February 27, 2008

I read an interview with Mike Griffin recently on either space.com or spaceflightnow.com and he explained this shaking story is a blown out of proportions sour grapes story from the “losers” in the bid for the Ares contract. He further explained that the skaking issue is well understood and there are a variety of solutions to this “problem”. As much as I’d like to see NASA dealt a potentially devastating blow on their future moon program (I’d like the private sector to provide manned vehicles to LEO, Lunar, Mars, etc) I don’t think this is it.

7. Carnival of Space #43: Oscar Edition | Starts With A Bang! - February 28, 2008

[…] at Space Cynic wins for Achievements in Special Effects for the possible impending doom of NASA’s Ares mission. If Shrubber is right, I would be hard-pressed to find an informed astronaut willing to get […]

8. Paul F. Dietz - March 1, 2008

Wouldn’t a full scale ground firing of the solid rocket motor give them the needed information about the mechanical excitation it produces? The combustion inside the motor should be largely independent of the rest of the stack, as well as independent of the exterior pressure (although the flow in the nozzle downstream of the choke would not be).

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