Skip to comments.Elon Musk called the Antares rocket a 'joke' 2 years before it exploded
Posted on 10/29/2014 9:10:49 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
An Orbital Sciences rocket operating under a NASA contract exploded shortly after launch on Tuesday evening, much to everyone's surprise except, perhaps, Elon Musk.
Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, trashed Orbital Sciences for using outdated Russian engines during a 2012 Wired interview:
"One of our competitors, Orbital Sciences, has a contract to resupply the International Space Station, and their rocket honestly sounds like the punch line to a joke. It uses Russian rocket engines that were made in the 60s. I dont mean their design is from the 60sI mean they start with engines that were literally made in the 60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere."
Two years later, Musk tweeted his condolences about the explosion, in which no one was injured:
"Sorry to hear about the @OrbitalSciences launch. Hope they recover soon."
The Antares rocket was carrying a Cygnus spacecraft that was supposed to deliver supplies to the International Space Station on a routine mission. The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown. However, the Orbital Sciences team wasn't tracking any issues prior to launch. The private space company says it will conduct a thorough investigation starting immediately
SpaceX has a similar contract with NASA to supply cargo to the space station.
Jack Hydrazine - great name. It looks to me like one of the combustion chambers let go at the reported 108% thrust.
Way beat me to it.....
I’d say either a turbopump, a fuel or oxidizer line, or the nozzle catoed.
Serious question. How can a rocket produce 108% thrust? Isn’t 100% of something the maximum?
We actually did have a space program once and actually did rocket science but reassigned NASA to Muslim outreach and global warming. Now we rely on the Russians to shuttle our astronauts to the International Space Station since we do not have the capability to place astronauts into outer space.
Still remember the sheer panic when we discovered Sputnik orbiting above us and were years away from orbiting a satellite of our own.
108% of rated thrust. Apparently pushing those old engines hard.
For all you folks out there that like to give 110%. See what happens when you try that $hit?
I think a bit of accurate history is in order in the wake of the attention-hoar Musk:
Aerojet imported the engines to the United States in the 1990s in an effort to develop a commercial rocket to launch U.S. military satellites. The California-based propulsion company competed to supply engines for the Atlas 5 rocket, which was then under development by Lockheed Martin Corp.Mocking aside, it was NASA that both made the selection and saw fit to let domestic rocket research get to the point of using Russian/Soviet rockets, launches & engines.
Lockheed Martin selected another Russian engine to power the Atlas 5's first stage, leaving Aerojet with a stock of three dozen NK-33 engines at the company's headquarters in Sacramento, Calif.
Aerojet modified the NK-33 engines by adding a gimbal mechanism for steering, installing modern instrumentation, and qualifying the engines for U.S. propellants, according to Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of space programs for Aerojet.
Following Lockheed Martin's decision to use another engine, the NK-33 engines appeared to be left in the dust for a second time until Orbital Sciences came along with a proposal for the Antares rocket - then called the Taurus 2 - in 2007.
Once Orbital's Antares rocket was selected by NASA to supply the International Space Station, the company purchased 20 of the engines from Aerojet to power 10 launches - two test flights and eight operational missions, according to Kurt Eberly, deputy Antares project director at Orbital Sciences.
Musk's egotistical mocking surely wasn't heard well at NASA...causing him to tone it down to get his cushy 'sharing' portion of the Boeing contract. Surely his crew were not happy to see that story recirculated (me? Smiling).
Seriously: What better representation of how a Progressive works than to use your clout to get NASA more involved in 'climate change' and less involved in its core missions...and be there with open arms to reap the benefits of more Federal dollars to add to your portfolio of Federal & State subsidies while riding high on an emotionally-supercharged stock with little basis in value reality.
NASA: What a joke. Were leading progressives on board the rocket? (in my dreams)
I didn’t see your comment prior. Spot-on.
Someone wrote recently that we now look at the Apollo program the way local Dark Ages people looked at the monumental works of the Romans.
No. But at 101% you put on your sunglasses and cover your ears.
Sounds like a liberal Obama supporter to me.
Not the mains - I'd think that would be more like an earth-shattering kaboom. Even a nozzle burn-through should be more spectacular and result in some thrust vectoring. Those are rebuilt NK33 engines. That design is based on staged-combustion, with pre-burners powering turbopumps and LOX cooling the bearings. Looks more like the turbomachinery sprung a leak (or blew off some plumbing). This in turn led to a rapid release of O2-rich white hot drive gas. Thus shower of sparks, white-hot flare, no chamber pressure in the mains, and no thrust.
Usually when the hot pressurized RP1 gets loose it's massive fireball time...look for BLEVE on youtube for an example...
I’m at 50% today on account of how much sleep I got.
(I’m normally at 25% but I slept really well last night.)
The self-destruct was triggered due to loss of control.
“14 seconds later: The range safety officer sends a self-destruct command. The rocket explodes into a fireball over Wallops Island, Virginia.”
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