84 votes
Accepted

What safety protocols did this Pythom Space rocket crew ignore?

The easy-to-spot stuff: (assumed) Improper transportation of hazardous materials. Both white fuming nitric acid and furfuryl alcohol are considered hazardous materials; none of the vehicles in the ...
  • 11.9k
57 votes
Accepted

Why is there any launch window at all for the Falcon Heavy test flight?

First of all, a typical launch window for going towards Mars is about 2.5 hours maximum. As a goal is to send the payload towards Mars, that is one limit to the window. Also, there are a number of ...
  • 120k
28 votes
Accepted

How can a rocket's self-destruct make for a safer situation than being out-of-control?

Self destructs do not result in smaller deadly pieces hitting people! What the self destruct is designed to do is prevent powered chunks of rocket or payload getting to somewhere dangerous. If you ...
  • 13.5k
20 votes
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Electronic Circuits for Safe Initiation of Pyrotechnics?

This excerpt from the Space Shuttle Systems Handbook Volume 2, drawing 13.1, (pdf page 200) shows a typical shuttle pyro circuit. (This one happens to be for the nose gear assist thruster, but they ...
18 votes

How can a rocket's self-destruct make for a safer situation than being out-of-control?

As for whether it's implemented on real spacecraft: This amateur video of the Challenger accident captures the destruction of the SRBs (about 1:45 in). Three factors as to why: When you push the ...
17 votes

Why is there any launch window at all for the Falcon Heavy test flight?

Another minor factor in the timing of the launch is avoidance of other spacecraft and orbiting debris, as exemplified in a note posted on the Spaceflight Now mission update page for this test flight ...
15 votes
Accepted

How are self-destructs implemented in rocketry?

Flight termination systems serve two purposes: Termination of thrust Dispersal of propellant Termination of thrust can be accomplished any number of ways. For liquid fueled engines, it may be ...
  • 17k
14 votes

Space Shuttle range safety system - Why is there a caution light?

The Range Safety Armed light was a cue for the crew to eject during the Orbital Test Flight period of the Shuttle program. After the ejection seats were removed from Columbia, the light was still ...
12 votes

How much does a launch scrub cost?

It will be difficult to find information about SpaceX costs, but Space Shuttle launch scrub costs have been published. NASA estimates every launch cancelled after fuel tanking has begun can cost ...
12 votes
Accepted

Why are lightning towers at launch pads topped with big hollow tubes with spiral windings and not "lightning rod-shaped" lightning rods?

Because those tubes are not lightning rods! They are insulators. Their function is to hold up the conducting wires that actually soak up the lightning strikes. The big hollow tubes are made of ...
12 votes
Accepted

Why do the Chinese launch most of their rockets so far from the coast?

The reason why the launch sites are built inland goes back to the Cold War. Western commentators have expressed surprise at the selection of a launch site so far inland, in difficult terrain, with ...
11 votes
Accepted

What is the farthest distance a failed rocket has landed from its launch site?

A satellite with SNAP-9A plutonium energy unit was launched from Florida in 1964. It failed to reach orbit. Debris fell in Southern hemisphere including Madagascar. It's more than 14000 km fom the ...
  • 8,746
11 votes

Electronic Circuits for Safe Initiation of Pyrotechnics?

In some cases, a pyrotechnic initiator may be designed to require a higher voltage than would normally exist anywhere anything connected to it. Consider the circuit at https://tinyurl.com/2p7xs8td (...
  • 341
10 votes
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Possible places for a launch complex in UK and continental Europe

The Baltic Sea is far too crowded to make it the range area. At any point of time you can see at least several ships within view distance. For the same reason, while it might seem like the isle of ...
  • 53.4k
9 votes

How can a rocket's self-destruct make for a safer situation than being out-of-control?

If you check for example the Jason 3 satellite launch webcast starting around 23 minutes, you will see this: (SpaceX webcast) The white path shows the past trajectory of the rocket and the blue is a ...
  • 5,058
9 votes

How can a rocket's self-destruct make for a safer situation than being out-of-control?

Self destruct is used in order to burn all the fuel in the air, preventing it from landing on the ground. The debris is not so dangerous in comparison. Most of a rocket is fuel, like most of the ...
  • 26.6k
9 votes
Accepted

Just how "unreasonably gigantic" was the exclusion zone for the scrubbed SpaceX's Transporter-2 Mission first attempt?

SkyVector shows the two current TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) around Cape Canaveral related to the SpaceX launch: The accompanying information with these TFRs say: No pilots may operate an ...
8 votes
Accepted

How much water to the east is needed?

This depends on the rocket you're launching. The first stage usually lands a few hundred km away from the launch point. Here is an example of the exclusion zones for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. The red ...
  • 122k
8 votes
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Why would autonomous auto-destruct ramp up launch tempo/cadence?

I haven't found a full list of range activities, but there's a key comment in this article: The Air Force currently requires several days to reconfigure its ranges between Atlas, Delta and Falcon ...
  • 122k
8 votes
Accepted

What rocket launch protocols (if any) are in place to prevent premature or late intentional self-destruct?

tl;dr The Range Safety Officer watches the vehicle trajectory to ensure that it stays within pre-determined trajectory limit lines. If the vehicle strays outside of those lines, the Officer sends the ...
7 votes

What are the consequences for a person who violates a launch exclusion zone?

This article from Florida Today has a comprehensive look at the particular violation on Sunday. In this case, the violator was a tugboat hauling a barge. The Coast Guard said the tug boat and ...
7 votes

Rocket explosion compared to kT of TNT; has one ever knocked something over at a distance?

National Geographic reports that the 2014 Antares explosion carrying a Cygnus v4 for the Cygnus CRS Orb-3 mission "knocked two spectators off the bed of their pickup truck and another off her dock. ...
  • 6,841
7 votes

How did JPL detonate a liquid oxygen methane mixture with light?

At low temperatures, the activation energy for pure CH4 O2 oxidization is about 170kj/mole. (See figure 1 here) That’s about 1.8eV per atomic reaction. 1.8eV can be provided by 688nm red light, or ...
  • 12.4k
7 votes

Electronic Circuits for Safe Initiation of Pyrotechnics?

STS-113 Mission Overview The solid rocket motor ignition commands are sent by the orbiter computers through the MECs to the safe and arm device NSDs in each SRB. A PIC single-channel capacitor ...
  • 1,549
6 votes

Possible places for a launch complex in UK and continental Europe

If we stretch the definition of "continental Europe" a bit to include the Canary Islands, a spaceport on Gran Canaria would have a bit over five thousand kilometers of useable range over the ...
  • 4,005
6 votes

How can a rocket's self-destruct make for a safer situation than being out-of-control?

The purpose of self destruct is not necessarily to make it safer in all scenarios. It's to make it more predictable. As Rory mentioned, one of the major purposes of self destruct is to make sure ...
  • 1,864
6 votes
Accepted

Why was Bluegill Prime range-safetied on the launchpad?

According to the Defense Nuclear Agency report Operation Dominic I page 232 the destruct command was sent "to prevent any possible nuclear explosion." Nuclear weapon safety systems, while robust, are ...
6 votes
Accepted

What is Tesseract's "secret sauce"? (green propellant)

Based on the SEC document and the paper by Rusek et al. (1996) found by Polygnome, I managed to locate what I believe to be (one of) the relevant patent(s): US5932837A: "Non-toxic hypergolic ...
6 votes

What is the farthest distance a failed rocket has landed from its launch site?

Soyuz 7K-T No.39 The mission was expected to dock with the orbiting Salyut 4 space station, but due to a failure of the Soyuz launch vehicle the crew failed to make orbit. The capsule landed southwest ...
  • 7,733
6 votes
Accepted

Does the Proton-M have a launch termination system?

«Если что-то в ракете перестает работать, подается команда АВД — «аварийное выключение двигателей». Это пошло еще со времен боевых ракет, чтобы в случае отказа ракета упала на нашей территории. ...
  • 7,733

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible