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NASA Moon Rocket May Shake Too Much (Pogo Problem)
Associated Press ^ | Jan 19, 2008 | SETH BORENSTEIN

Posted on 01/19/2008 11:03:55 PM PST by anymouse

NASA is wrestling with a potentially dangerous problem in a spacecraft, this time in a moon rocket that hasn't even been built yet.

Engineers are concerned that the new rocket meant to replace the space shuttle and send astronauts on their way to the moon could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle.

"They know it's a real problem," said Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Paul Fischbeck, who has consulted on risk issues with NASA in the past. "This thing is going to shake apart the whole structure, and they've got to solve it."

If not corrected, the shaking would arise from the powerful first stage of the Ares I rocket, which will lift the Orion crew capsule into orbit.

NASA officials hope to have a plan for fixing the design as early as March, and they do not expect it to delay the goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

"I hope no one was so ill-informed as to believe that we would be able to develop a system to replace the shuttle without facing any challenges in doing so," NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in a statement to The Associated Press. "NASA has an excellent track record of resolving technical challenges. We're confident we'll solve this one as well."

Professor Jorge Arenas of the Institute of Acoustics in Valdivia, Chile, acknowledged that the problem was serious but said: "NASA has developed one of the safest and risk-controlled space programs in engineering history."

The space agency has been working on a plan to return to the moon, at a cost of more than $100 billion, since 2005. It involves two different rockets: Ares I, which would carry the astronauts into space, and an unmanned heavy-lift cargo ship, Ares V.

The concern isn't the shaking on the first stage, but how it affects everything that sits on top: the Orion crew capsule, instrument unit, and a booster.

That first stage is composed of five segments derived from the solid rocket boosters that NASA uses to launch the shuttle and would be built by ATK Launch Systems of Brigham City, Utah.

The shaking problem, which is common to solid rocket boosters, involves pulses of added acceleration caused by gas vortices in the rocket similar to the wake that develops behind a fast-moving boat, said Arenas, who has researched vibration and space-launch issues.

Those vortices happen to match the natural vibrating frequencies of the motor's combustion chamber, and the combination causes the shaking.

Senior managers were told of the findings last fall, but NASA did not talk about them publicly until the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request earlier this month and the watchdog Web site Nasawatch.com submitted detailed engineering-oriented questions.

The response to those questions, given to both Nasawatch and AP, were shared with outside experts, who judged it a serious problem.

NASA engineers characterized the shaking as being in what the agency considers the "red zone" of risk, ranking a five on a 1-to-5 scale of severity.

"It's highly likely to happen and if it does, it's a disaster," said Fischbeck, an expert in engineering risks.

The first launch of astronauts aboard Ares I and Orion is set for March 2015.

On the Net:

NASA's Ares and Orion program:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ares/index.html


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: ares; constellation; lunar; moon; nasa; orion; rocket; space
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Oh oh.
1 posted on 01/19/2008 11:04:02 PM PST by anymouse
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To: KevinDavis

Space ping


2 posted on 01/19/2008 11:04:25 PM PST by anymouse
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To: Shuttle Shucker

ping


3 posted on 01/19/2008 11:06:04 PM PST by anymouse
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To: anymouse

shake rattle and roll


4 posted on 01/19/2008 11:10:06 PM PST by spokeshave (Hey GOP...NO money till border closed and criminal illegals deported)
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To: anymouse

Major redesign required here.


5 posted on 01/19/2008 11:12:46 PM PST by FormerACLUmember (When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.)
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To: FormerACLUmember
Major redesign required here.

The way I read this is that they are in the process of design and there is no need to redesign something that has not yet had a final design to redesign......or whatever...

6 posted on 01/19/2008 11:19:10 PM PST by Cold Heat (Mitt....2008)
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To: anymouse

Is it the UN space treaty that holds us back?


7 posted on 01/19/2008 11:20:28 PM PST by wastedyears (This is my BOOMSTICK)
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To: Cold Heat

Modulating flux capacitor......?


8 posted on 01/19/2008 11:21:44 PM PST by spokeshave (Hey GOP...NO money till border closed and criminal illegals deported)
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To: anymouse

I’m not sure if they were testing some J-2 variant at Stennis this past week, but it was definitely making my house shake. A little unusual in that you typically hear the engine testing, but you don’t feel it.


9 posted on 01/19/2008 11:24:19 PM PST by Kirkwood
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To: anymouse

If anyone can figure this out it is NASA.

I hope the last few decades of budget cuts and inattention from the public have not reduced the brain power of one of our most capable agencies.


10 posted on 01/19/2008 11:32:57 PM PST by truemiester ((If the U.S. should fail, a veil of darkness will come over the Earth for a thousand years))
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To: anymouse

i’m no space geek but if they could send one up no worries in the 60s why not now?


11 posted on 01/19/2008 11:34:47 PM PST by kawaii (Orthodox Christianity -- Proclaiming the Truth Since 33 A.D.)
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To: truemiester
If anyone can figure this out it is NASA.

Um... nasa already DID!
12 posted on 01/19/2008 11:35:29 PM PST by kawaii (Orthodox Christianity -- Proclaiming the Truth Since 33 A.D.)
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To: anymouse

Now is the time to find these problems.

In the engineering stage.

Shocker.


13 posted on 01/19/2008 11:38:09 PM PST by Names Ash Housewares
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To: spokeshave

“Modulating flux capacitor......?”

Simple! Reverse the polarity.


14 posted on 01/19/2008 11:55:18 PM PST by PetroniusMaximus
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To: anymouse

A crack in the dilithium crystals?


15 posted on 01/19/2008 11:57:43 PM PST by LachlanMinnesota (Si vis pacem, para bellum)
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To: kawaii

“i’m no space geek but if they could send one up no worries in the 60s why not now?”

I’ll answer that question by saying “Good enough for government work.” In other words, completely unacceptable by non-government standards. NASA has become a monstrous, inefficient beaurocracy. Things crash, break, fall apart, fail to operate, because these morons can’t even read the designs. When something’s supposed to have an auto-guidance using the metric system, and your department programs it to use feet, and no one notices... That’s a SERIOUS PROBLEM!

There are firms that would LOVE to get a contract to build a shuttle, or a space station, or get a man on the moon again. Why won’t we let them try?


16 posted on 01/20/2008 12:01:19 AM PST by COgamer
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To: anymouse
Sounds like NASA needs a couple of really large trim tabs.
17 posted on 01/20/2008 12:09:58 AM PST by HawaiianGecko
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To: anymouse

I a so old that I know they used to something called a Slide Ruler and then actually build the thing.

And it worked!


18 posted on 01/20/2008 12:14:54 AM PST by NoLibZone (If the Clinton years were so great, why is Osama doing so well?)
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To: anymouse

Put men on the moon six times and can’t make a vehicle to get us there again? Lends credence to the original hoax.


19 posted on 01/20/2008 12:16:47 AM PST by taxesareforever (Never forget Matt Maupin)
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To: anymouse
A quarter century ago (hard to believe) when I was a young engineer working on the Space Shuttle Mission Simulator at Johnson Space Center, my boss told me an interesting story.

Of course the simulator had been under development for many years prior to the shuttle's first launch. During that development it was noticed that the "motion base" simulator would experience significant vibrations during the roll maneuver that was part of lift off.

It was presumed that the source of the vibration was an elusive software bug. After many months of fruitless debugging NASA finally took the (rare) step of putting a cash bounty out on the squashing of this particular bug.

Nevertheless, no bug was ever found and launch day approached. When the launch finally did take place, and the roll maneuver was executed for the first time, the astronauts were astonished to experience the very same vibration.

For us nerds that was a pretty neat story.

LESSON LEARNED: Pay attention to your simulatons.

20 posted on 01/20/2008 12:20:43 AM PST by The Duke (I have met the enemy, and he is named 'Apathy'!)
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To: The Duke

This thing is going to shake apart .....we’ve got to fix it...
Capt. Obvious call your office.


21 posted on 01/20/2008 12:40:07 AM PST by P8triot1 (Liberalism ALWAYS produces the exact opposite of its stated intent. Quinns 1st. law..)
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To: anymouse

Pogo Problem?

“We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities”

or

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”?


22 posted on 01/20/2008 12:51:57 AM PST by gridlock (300 Million Americans will not be elected President in 2008. Hillary Clinton will be one of them.)
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To: COgamer
“i’m no space geek but if they could send one up no worries in the 60s why not now?”

The federal government has become a place where young people go after college to retire to the “good” life while they are in their early 20s. The only thing they know how to do well is get the check deposited and party. Meanwhile, those who are capable are shown the door because they may do something to end the gray train.

Cut the government in half and you would still have enough inefficiency to half it again.

23 posted on 01/20/2008 1:09:50 AM PST by Herakles (Diversity is code word for anti-white racism)
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To: anymouse

The problem is those solid rocket boosters. They were already controversial as part of the shuttle launch system, one of the original corner-cutting schemes. They are more powerful than liquid fuel rockets, but harder to control and cannot be shut off mid flight. The Challenger disaster showed how unreliable they can be. The Saturn V first stage worked just fine during the 60’s and 70’s, was in fact very reliable and efficient. NASA has probably invested too much in solid rocket fuel tech to just drop them now.


24 posted on 01/20/2008 2:11:58 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder
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To: COgamer
“i’m no space geek but if they could send one up no worries in the 60s why not now?”

The Saturn V Moon Rocket was a multistage liquid-fuel rocket which was a concept developed by Wernher von Braun and a team of German scientists.

25 posted on 01/20/2008 2:22:51 AM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: Telepathic Intruder

The Challenger disaster showed how unreliable they can be

Most equipment is unreliable when you use it outside it’s design parameters.


26 posted on 01/20/2008 4:28:25 AM PST by saganite (Lust type what you what in the “tagline” space)
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To: saganite

Yes, but I don’t think liquid fuel rockets even need O ring seals. It’s just one more thing that can go wrong due to the complex requirements of controlling a solid fuel reaction.


27 posted on 01/20/2008 4:43:51 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder
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To: kawaii
i’m no space geek but if they could send one up no worries in the 60s why not now?

Most likely it's because of the difference of mass between the Shuttle and the Ares. More mass makes pogo less of a problem.

These types of problems are going to pop up with any new program, and the media is going to blow it out of proportion.

28 posted on 01/20/2008 4:51:55 AM PST by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Simple! Reverse the polarity.

Don't cross the streams.

It would be bad.

29 posted on 01/20/2008 4:59:20 AM PST by Jim Noble (Trails of trouble, roads of battle, paths of victory we shall walk.)
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To: anymouse

Scrap the manned programs and send out robots.

They could do 100X the exploration at a tenth the cost.

We should be drilling Jupiters moon’s, more landings on Titan, not flying around in cirles in low-earth orbit tin cans anyway.

Really, there’s nothing in this system worth walking around on right now, and dat’s da name of dat tune.

Athough terraforming Mars for eventual habitation in another 200 years or so has it’s charms....so get chopping there too.


30 posted on 01/20/2008 4:59:58 AM PST by baclava
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To: anymouse

“Engineers are concerned that the new rocket meant to replace the space shuttle and send astronauts on their way to the moon could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle.”

This is a result of using solid fuel boosters. Why are is NASA using them rather than safer, less expensive, and less polluting liquid fueled boosters? Those seemed to work fine in the Apollo project.

Fortunately, private enterprise may yet come to the rescue, in the form of the SPACEX Falcon 9 project and its kerosene fueled liquid engines.


31 posted on 01/20/2008 5:09:07 AM PST by PreciousLiberty
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To: anymouse
I saw a program not too long ago that revealed that NASA was disassembling its last Saturn V rocket (on display in Huntsville) so that the agency can reverse engineer it for this new project. Although NASA has Von Braun's original plans for the Saturn V, many of the original contractors are out of business and taken their knowhow with them, and it seems that NASA has forgotten exactly how to build a moon rocket. They know what the individual parts are, but don't know how or why they work.

Truly sad....

32 posted on 01/20/2008 5:16:44 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (“We must not forget that there is a war on and our troops are in the thick of it!” --Duncan Hunter)
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To: truemiester
Today's NASA is not the NASA of the 1960s.

The Old Guard (personified by Chris Craft, Gene Krantz, and John Aaron) were not afraid to take risks and do seat of the pants engineering.

Today's NASA is just a bloated bureaucracy that is risk advsere to anything...

33 posted on 01/20/2008 5:19:50 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (“We must not forget that there is a war on and our troops are in the thick of it!” --Duncan Hunter)
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To: PreciousLiberty

Liquid fuel doen’t pack the punch of solid fuel, and it’s harder to store. High thrust-to-weight is especially important during liftoff. NASA has also designed them to be recoverable. The trade-off is not being sure what the damn things will do once the fuse is lit.


34 posted on 01/20/2008 5:26:51 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder
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To: COgamer
FWIW, this spacecraft is a Lockheed Martin design, chosen by NASA via competition. More info here.

Also, Boeing won the contract to build the Ares I upper stage.
35 posted on 01/20/2008 5:36:44 AM PST by Lord Basil
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To: Telepathic Intruder
Yes, but I don’t think liquid fuel rockets even need O ring seals. It’s just one more thing that can go wrong due to the complex requirements of controlling a solid fuel reaction.

You know, I've always wondered why they don't cast the solid fuel rocket in one piece instead of in segments, thus eliminating the problematic O-rings. It must be a transportation issue.

36 posted on 01/20/2008 5:58:28 AM PST by Vinnie_Vidi_Vici
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To: Telepathic Intruder
NASA has probably invested too much in solid rocket fuel tech to just drop them now.

I'm not so sure about that. I'm just about done reading a book by a first generation mission specialist.

His big disappointment, in addition to losing classmates on the Challenger, was that it killed shuttle launches from VAB.

The USAF wasn't keen on the shuttle launching satellites to begin with, and the SRBs for use at VAB were designed with a composite material, and if Thiokol couldn't get it right with metal....

(VAB launches would be for polar orbits. More energy is required since launches wouldn't benefit from Earth's Eastward rotation, hence the need for greater thrust to weight. From an astronaut POV, a polar orbit allows viewing of the entire planet, not just an equatorial oscillation.)

Bottom line is that planned shuttle launches from VAB were canceled after Challenger, along with the composite SRBs.

Some poster once said that Thiokol got the contract over a Georgia-based firm because of Sen. Jack Garn, of Utah.

The Georgia firm pitched a solid SRB, not a sectional one. While I'm sure Thiokol could make it a single piece, getting it to KSC was the problem. The geography favored the GA firm. Garn's influence favored Thiokol.

37 posted on 01/20/2008 6:09:25 AM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Vinnie_Vidi_Vici

If it wasn’t a reusable design they could probably make it all one piece, but having to refuel and overhaul it every time, doing in sections makes it easier I would guess.


38 posted on 01/20/2008 6:50:45 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder
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To: Vinnie_Vidi_Vici

If it wasn’t a reusable design they could probably make it all one piece, but having to refuel and overhaul it every time, doing in sections makes it easier I would guess.


39 posted on 01/20/2008 6:51:11 AM PST by Telepathic Intruder
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To: anymouse

Quick, import some Germans!


40 posted on 01/20/2008 6:52:11 AM PST by ovrtaxt (In my fantasy world, the Dems run a Zell Miller/ Lieberman ticket...)
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To: anymouse
It's time for Orion.
41 posted on 01/20/2008 7:16:00 AM PST by aruanan
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To: anymouse

42 posted on 01/20/2008 7:57:08 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: Jim Noble
Don't cross the streams.

It would be bad.

"Egon, define 'bad.'"

43 posted on 01/20/2008 8:13:50 AM PST by Erasmus (Native of Gondwanaland)
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To: PetroniusMaximus

“Simple! Reverse the polarity.”

Don’t cross the streams.
That would be bad.


44 posted on 01/20/2008 8:16:53 AM PST by Kozak (Anti Shahada: There is no god named Allah, and Muhammed is a false prophet)
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To: Telepathic Intruder
The trade-off is not being sure what the damn things will do once the fuse is lit.

I presume they carry the same instructions as a Chinese firecracker pack:

"Light fuse

Get away"

45 posted on 01/20/2008 8:17:30 AM PST by Erasmus (Native of Gondwanaland)
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To: Moonman62
These types of problems are going to pop up with any new program, and the media is going to blow it out of proportion.

I agree, it certainly sounds like NASA is taking all the right steps. You make a preliminary design, analyze it and improve it. If this is something that should have been anticipated before the original drawings were begun, that's a bad thing but not a disaster.

All in all, it's merely an uncomfortable stumble, but not really anything like a major embarassment.

46 posted on 01/20/2008 8:24:11 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (Being an idealist excuses nothing. Hitler was an idealist.)
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To: anymouse

Pogo problem?

We have met the enemy, and he is us?...


47 posted on 01/20/2008 8:25:36 AM PST by null and void (We're tired of being sucked up to once every 4 years and stabbed in the back the rest of the time.)
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To: NoLibZone
I a so old that I know they used to something called a Slide Ruler and then actually build the thing.

I'm so old I've actually used a slide-rule. (AKA a 'friction calculator')...

48 posted on 01/20/2008 8:27:53 AM PST by null and void (We're tired of being sucked up to once every 4 years and stabbed in the back the rest of the time.)
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To: Telepathic Intruder
Yes, but I don’t think liquid fuel rockets even need O ring seals.

They need seals at every pipe juncture, pump, valve, and gimbal.

49 posted on 01/20/2008 8:32:11 AM PST by null and void (We're tired of being sucked up to once every 4 years and stabbed in the back the rest of the time.)
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To: kawaii

Because in 1960 NASA was a space program, and in 2008 NASA is a federal affirmative action jobs program that needs to satisfy environmentalists and lawyers.


50 posted on 01/20/2008 8:36:31 AM PST by CGTRWK
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