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)