Skip to comments.Massive rocket explosion due to technician putting sensors in upside down
Posted on 07/18/2013 10:55:28 AM PDT by null and void
Human error to blame for blast
A few weeks back, a Russian rocket called Proton-M exploded over a spaceport in Kazakhstan a few seconds after it launched.
[scary video at link]
The rocket was carrying three navigation satellites into space and fortunately was unmanned (no one on the ground was injured either). It reached a height of 1 km before disintegrating and then falling back to the Earth, piece by piece.
An investigation into the who, what, and why behind this massive blast was launched and this past week, it was closed. The result?
Investigators found that the rockets angular velocity sensors had been installed upside down. An easy mistake to make, one would suppose, except for the minor fact that they had arrows on them showing which way was up and which way was down.
As a result of the misplacement of these sensors, the flight control system was getting the wrong information about the rockets position. When it tried to correct things, it swung out of control and exploded.
The person responsible for this mistake was an inexperienced technician. Whats more, his work, records indicate, was never double-checked. Even if it had been fixed, however, the rocket was still doomed, as the report also details an engine fire started when the rocket first took off. No indication as to why that happened has been determined yet.
As if all of this isnt already bad enough, the three satellites that burned up were not insured. Barring any setback, Russia plans on simply moving forward from this mess, having since announced plans to launch two replacement satellites this fall from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Story via: americaspace.com
Do their engineers smoke pot?
More wadka, camrade?
Maybe...but I’d bet that technician will be smoking some Siberian tundra for the rest of his life.
And these guys launch our astronauts into space these days...
I would blame this on the engineer not the technician. If there is a specific orientation required for a piece of hardware, the device should be designed and constructed to only fit in one way.
The government way.
And some people think the Chinese can conduct aircraft carrier operations?
Back in the 1960s, a missile was launched out of Vandenberg AFB with an improperly-installed inertial-nav system.
Instead of heading south, as was intended, it headed east towards Los Angeles.
Due to the improperly-installed sensor, it scraped the self-destruct package off the missile as it came out of the silo, so the Range Safety Officer was unable to destroy it.
Fortunately, as it was shedding its self-destruct package, it also damaged itself badly-enough that it disintegrated on its own shortly thereafter, before it got to LA.
The part that terrified me, was there was no action taken by the Range Safety Officer.
They do have a Range Safety Officer, don’t they? Don’t they???
Agree, it should have a (Russian fool proof) keyed assembly.
Up and down arrows can get real confusing in other applications when the larger part isn’t in its natural orientation.
I understand that kind of error was caught early in the Minuteman development program. Someone must have realized which end was the pointy end.
I would point out that it's possible that the rocket was on its side when this was installed, meaning the mistake is easier to make.
Ah. The old “upside-down” trick. I know it well.
Turns out it was an EV error on the sensor bank.
(EV = Excessive Vodka)
“The government way.”
We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us.
Same old, same old.
Maybe the tech and the inspector had to bend over to read the label, so from that perspective, it look right.
Bfl for root cause analysis and keyed assemblies
That’s actually (or was) a saying in Czechoslovakia......
Has this hapless person been executed?
Looks like my modified bottle rockets on the fourth of July.
No. They were too concerned with muslim outreach.
but the sensor only fits in one way ,LOL
Not being a rocket scientist and all, what could the range safety officer do if the destruct package was ripped off during launch? Aren’t they radio triggered or something? Scramble jets to shoot it down? What? - Just asking.
Looks like my modified bottle rockets on the fourth of July.
They should be very afraid. Czar Vlad will not be amused.
Design 101: it should not be possible to insert a component in an orientation other than the correct one.
It must have been pointing to the door when it was on it's side. ;-)
'SI Oops' - A short 3-act play
ACT I - A $125 million spacecraft completes a perilous 10-month journey through space to arrive at the planet Mars. The NASA spacecraft receives its maneuvering instructions that should put it into orbit around the red planet, but, instead, it proceeds to do a flaming swan dive into the Martian surface.
ACT II - NASA convenes three different investigating panels including an internal panel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Along the corridors at the Pasadena laboratory, late into each night, hundreds of engineers in their offices huddle over their computer terminals reviewing, bit by bit, all of the computer codes, electronic schematics, test data, and telemetry dumps trying to find the cause of this terrible scientific loss. Suddenly, echoing through the corridors, up and down the stairwells, around the corners, a single agonizing scream -
ACT III - Excerpts from a CNN News release, September 30, 1999 -
"(CNN) -- NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter because one engineering team used metric units while another used English units for a key spacecraft operation, according to a review finding released Thursday. For that reason, information failed to transfer between the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft team at Lockheed Martin in Colorado and the mission navigation team in California. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft."
"'People sometimes make errors,' said Edward Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science in a written statement.'
"'Our inability to recognize and correct this simple error has had major implications,' said JPL Director Edward Stone."
No cast party was planned.
Never underestimate the resolve of a technician who wants to leave work on time on a Friday. Or more simply put: "Don't force it...get a bigger hammer!"
It was widespread throughout the USSR ...
... and coming soon to the USSA.
Here, hold muh vodka.
That's interesting, because the rocket flew upside down.
"Reach for the sky!"
Human stupidity. Do they fire the novice or his supervisor?
Many of them rich folk cancelling their rocket trips on Russian rockets.
NASA’s Genesis spacecraft crashed on its return back to earth in 2004 for the same reason.
But Russians are smart. They dont have to take precautions like that, because they dont do human error like Americans. </hubris>
Its human nature to sucker for that kind of thinking.. . . and Murphys Law strikes yet again.
It's amazing how often designers DON'T do that. You want to PREVENT errors, not find them, often the hard way.
It is up. If it was down we wouldn’t be able to read the words!
Well seeing that it was probably written in Russian with Cyrillic letters, it was an honest mistake......
Supervisor: Do you like skiing, comrade?
Technician: Why, Yes! I love skiing!
Supervisor: Good. Then you won’t be too bored in Siberia for the rest of you life...............