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84 votes
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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 ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 15.3k
57 votes
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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 ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
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40 votes
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Wouldn't it make sense to use parachutes for aborting test flights rather than destroying the whole rocket?

The ability to successfully deploy a parachute still requires some level of stability or control, it's simply not an option for a badly out-of-control rocket. In cases where something goes wrong, the ...
Nuclear Hoagie's user avatar
33 votes

Why was Space X's Starship blown up?

Why not let it fall in one piece, so it will be more intact and thus easier to investigate as to what went wrong? There were designated areas where it was okay for Super Heavy and Starship to ...
Erin Anne's user avatar
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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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
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 ...
Katie Bechtold's user avatar
16 votes

Wouldn't it make sense to use parachutes for aborting test flights rather than destroying the whole rocket?

great question, and it is similar thinking that led SpaceX to attempt to land rockets for re-use. In this case though I don't think it would be safe or practical to attempt recovery of a launch ...
Grandpa's user avatar
  • 161
13 votes

Wouldn't it make sense to use parachutes for aborting test flights rather than destroying the whole rocket?

I think the average person doesn't quite realize how much parachute is needed for even a relatively small piece of machinery. When the military drops a humvee out of an airplane, a vehicle weighing ...
Darth Pseudonym's user avatar
12 votes
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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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
12 votes
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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 ...
Barry Jenakuns's user avatar
11 votes
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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 ...
Heopps's user avatar
  • 9,061
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 (...
supercat's user avatar
  • 361
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 ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
10 votes

What initiated the Starhip/SuperHeavy detonation?

The flight termination system on Starship/Super Heavy is fully autonomous, and FAA notes confirm that it activated. However, the first explosion appears to initiate from the base of Super Heavy. The ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 15.3k
9 votes
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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 ...
BrendanLuke15's user avatar
8 votes
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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 ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
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 ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
8 votes
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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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 votes
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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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 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. ...
Polygnome's user avatar
  • 6,956
8 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 ...
Bob Jacobsen's user avatar
  • 12.7k
8 votes

Why was Space X's Starship blown up?

The SpaceX Starship rocket blew up because it had the self-destruct sequence activated. Starship's first stage didn’t go quite as planned because it was overweight and not all engines were working. It ...
The Rocket fan's user avatar
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 ...
user3528438's user avatar
  • 1,641
6 votes
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Most recent launch of a nuclear reactor, and current barriers to launching the next one?

From the Wikipedia list, the most recently launched nuclear reactor appears to be a TOPAZ-I on Kosmos 1867, launched by the USSR in 1987. It's parked in a 800km orbit at 65º inclination and appears ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
6 votes
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Which launch was the first to use a dogleg maneuver?

Unsure if it was the first dogleg, but the launch of Telstar 1 was certainly an early one (July 10 1962). Because of range safety considerations, when a Delta vehicle is launched from Cape Canaveral ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
6 votes
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Ground personnel proximity to space shuttle at launch?

The closest personnel were the fire/rescue teams stationed in the M113 vehicles, approximately one mile from the pad. Three are on hand on launch day. Two stand by less than a mile from the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
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 ...
Vikki's user avatar
  • 4,157
6 votes

Why don't unmanned launch vehicles include launch escape system for payload?

Another difference between human spaceflight and uncrewed launchers that isn't mentioned in the other answers: Capsules for human spaceflight are used for both ascent and return, so are designed to ...
djr's user avatar
  • 1,705
6 votes
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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 ...
Ilmari Karonen's user avatar

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