58

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 other factors affecting a launch. These include: Availability of the range Personnel that are required. A lot of people are required on launch day from quite ...


28

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 look at any destruct videos, you will see that the explosion takes out any form of propulsion. Imagine leaving the craft to travel unguided until propellant ran ...


17

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 button you convert one big rocket into a bunch of little pieces. Little pieces fall much more slowly. When you blow the rocket you know where the debris is ...


17

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 at 02/06/2018 13:47: There is one collision avoidance cutout in the remainder of today's launch window at 3:56 p.m. EST (2056 GMT). The Falcon Heavy cannot ...


15

The size of the restricted area is defined in TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) and is announced by NOTAM (notice to airmen). An example of a NOTAM for a space shuttle launch (STS-115 Atlantis) is here - the size is 30-40 nautical miles. Some additional information can be found on NASA web as well. The reason for the size is safety of the aircraft (...


14

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 sufficient to simply stop the engine. For solid motors, once the fuel grain is started, it cannot be stopped, so it needs to be rendered nonpropulsive. This can be ...


13

I think I may have found a possible answer. The control panel for Columbia had the indicator: The control layout for Discovery (and presumably the other orbiters as well) was somewhat different, and does not have the indicator: Given that Columbia was originally fitted with ejection seats, in that context the indicator seems to make more sense.


12

Proposed Russian spacecraft, for Mars, Lunar, or orbital tug missions that would have used a nuclear reactor, did provide escape tower like functionality for the reactor. But the issue is that the entire payload stack, is usually too big to save with an escape tower (and still have any payload left to go to orbit, due to weight of escape system). In the ...


11

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 as much as 1.2 million dollars. Endeavour endured five liftoff scrubs before successfully launching Wednesday at 6:03 p.m. (2203 GMT), though some of these ...


11

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 fibreglass. There is a (relatively) small lightning rod on the top of the insulator. It's more obvious on the old Shuttle pad. Why would you have a giant ...


10

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 there. See Space Shuttle Range Safety System in the Rogers Commission Report. The location of the indicator changed after the Orbiter 'glass cockpit' upgrade, ...


9

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 weight of a soda tin can is soda. Also to make sure that the event takes place over an evacuated area in a prepared launch range (although the Chinese don't seem to ...


9

Let's take a survey of some of the powers that have launched something in to orbit, taken from Wikipedia. This list is in no particular order. United States- Highly likely, even manned missions have self destruct. North Korea- It seems they do. Russia- Nope, they aren't required. France- Ariane 5, yes, most likely all. Japan- Yes China- Yes, it appears ...


8

A smaller engine means a lower peak altitude and a smaller recovery area. You wouldn't want your first flight to involve losing sight of it as it passes 1000 ft AGL and letting it drift a mile away, never to be seen again, would you?


8

Weight is a major factor... every item on the vehicle has to have a good reason to be there. Rather than trying to save an expensive payload in the event of a launch failure, it may be simpler/cheaper to maximize the reliability of the launch system, and accept the cost of losing the entire vehicle and payload in the (presumably rare) event of failure. Even ...


8

It's simple economy. Unmanned payloads can and usually are insured against loss due to launch complications. The insurance costs less than the additional cost to install a launch escape system.


8

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 projection of ballistic path in case of total engine cutoff. The projection is always updated as can be seen in the video. For each launch there is a ...


8

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 zone is the first stage landing zone, and stretches from 300 to 600 km outward from Cape Canaveral. The Saturn V second stages ended up halfway across the ...


7

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 Ibiza would provide 2700km of downrange over the sea, the Mediterrean Sea traffic is so high, it's unlikely to be allowed, plus the range of inclinations is ...


7

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 missions. That turnaround time should be reduced with the introduction of auto-destruct mechanisms So in the old situation, every user had its own self-...


7

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 destruct signal (or signals the crew to tell them to shut off the engines, in the case of the Shuttle second stage). The inner lines are chosen so that if the ...


7

Streamlining is not the problem: those fancy-looking outer shells will burn up early on in the re-entry process. The pieces of a satellite that hit the ground are the high-density ones: things like pressurized fuel tanks, thick structural members, and radiothermal generators. If a satellite uses unpressurized maneuvering fuel, has lightweight structural ...


7

@Philipp has nailed it in his answer in my opinion, and we've, in a sense, discussed the economic viability of such payload escape systems versus insurance cost before in our main chat room, too. Technical and economic feasibility studies of such payload escape systems have however been done before, one such good example is Fred E. Wagner's thesis on ...


7

Besides reasons mentioned by others - humans are more durable against "impact" type stress than usual orbital payloads are. The satellites are calculated to withstand the sustained several g of rocket acceleration, but not a single ~80g shock of hitting the ground. That means their emergency system would have to be far more advanced - provide much more ...


6

The issue is if something's wrong with your rocket. The smaller the engine the slower it will be going if things go badly. I've seen one case where the motor mounting broke free on second stage ignition. I don't know exactly what went wrong but the rocket hesitated in flight and pretty much fell over before the second stage was producing any substantial ...


6

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 miscible bipropellant" by John J. Rusek, Nicole Anderson, Bradley M. Lormand and Nicky L. Purcell, assigned to the US Secretary of Navy, filed in 1997 and granted in ...


5

In most scenarios in which a rocket flight needs to be deliberately terminated, the rocket is nearly full of fuel and oxidizer. The range-safety self-destruct system opens the propellant tanks rapidly, allowing the propellant to mix and burn while the rocket is still up in the air. In this video of a Proton rocket guidance failure, it's clear by 0:15 ...


5

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 barge were about 30 miles form shore and within the safety zone... violators of the safety zone can be fined if they are within 12 miles U.S. territorial waters....


5

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 there are no "powered chunks" flying in unpredictable directions. Predictability is the goal. The self destruct is designed to be a floor on how bad things can ...


5

Yes, the rules are the same for an air-launched vehicle. From a 2008 paper describing the FAA's approach ("Separation Distances for Rocket Launch Operations" AIAA 2008-7124) the permit applicant must identify and qualitatively characterize the risks of each of the potential hazards associated with its proposed operation and apply mitigation measures ...


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