back to article ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff

Orbital Sciences was forced to scrub the launch of a Cygnus cargo-craft to the International Space Station yesterday when a sailboat wandered into the area. The Antares rocket was scheduled to blast off at 6.45pm EDT (10.45pm GMT), but had to abort when the boat couldn’t get out of the restricted area in time for the 10-minute …

  1. Anomalous Cowturd
    Boffin

    No Range safety boats?

    Why not?

    Down here, the local military firing range has two high speed launches patrolling the safety zone. Any vessel approaching this area gets warned away pretty sharpish.

    There are also two-hourly broadcasts on Marine Channel 16 announcing aforementioned safety zone.

    It's been like this for at least forty years.

    This is NOT rocket science!

    1. Measurer

      Re: No Range safety boats?

      Wouldn't be Lulworth would it?

      1. Anomalous Cowturd

        @Measurer

        Hythe and Lydd in Kent.

        They moor in Dover.

        HTH.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: No Range safety boats?

      You assume the sailboat operators

      1: Have a radio

      2: Have it tuned to marine channel 16.

      From the sound of it they did get intercepted, but sailboats do tend to take a while to go places and given the size of "downrange" (several orders of magnitude larger than a firing zone) even highspeed boats could take an hour or two to intercept.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        Re: No Range safety boats?

        Around here (US Northeast) it is the same, you should listen to VHF ch 16 (aka hail and distress) - but this is not mandatory unless you are a commercial vessel and once they have GMDSS installed they don't have to watch VHF16 anymore.

    3. Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

      Re: No Range safety boats?

      To be fair afaik the military have no right to force you out of the firing area, they can ask politely but you can choose not to and they'll have to wait.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: No Range safety boats?

        "To be fair afaik the military have no right to force you out of the firing area, they can ask politely but you can choose not to and they'll have to wait."

        That's hardly conductive to a result now isn't it?

        How about "We're firing in 10 minutes. If you hang around till then, we would recommend you put yourself in the brace position and kiss your arse goodbye. Thank you and come again.".

        I'm quite sure their fishing would take a lower priority then.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: No Range safety boats?

      My thought exactly! No range safety boats? WTF?! Just sad that we've become that cheap and lazy.

      As for the radio, it was reported by other news sources that broadcasts were made, but the boat responded to neither the automated broadcast nor a direct hail.

    5. Anomalous Cowturd
      FAIL

      Re: No Range safety boats?

      In reply to myself, with hindsight, how much of the subsequent "failure to launch" could be attributed to this delay?

      Penny shy, pound foolish?

  2. Camilla Smythe

    Hmm...

    Does Elon Musk own a Yacht?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm...

      Yes... one of those ones that turns into a submersible to allow him to enter his volcanic lair unseen

    2. Anonymous Dutch Coward

      Re: Hmm...

      He can always ask Larry. I hear he's not so busy anymore ;)

  3. Alistair
    Windows

    Hey stupid.

    We're launching a rocket here. Your boat is in range.

    a) if it was there to start with, the operator wasn't monitoring the local advisory channel

    b) "wasn't able to .... in time" - indicates that a) is highly likely. Incapable of coordinating the departure indicates to me that it's highly likely that the operator was either insufficiently skilled in operation of the craft or very likely not in possession of complete training.

    Sad that it caused the delay. Scary that they're letting the same level of stupid that exists on our highways out on to the open ocean.

    (yup, the grumpy old bastard's still around)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Hey stupid.

      "Scary that they're letting the same level of stupid that exists on our highways out on to the open ocean."

      Sometimes that level of stupid is allowed to operate large vessels.

      Googling "astrolabe reef shipwreck" will give an example.

      1. Fatman

        RE: Re: Hey stupid.

        "Scary that they're letting the same level of stupid that exists on our highways out on to the open ocean."

        Sometimes that level of stupid is allowed to operate large vessels permeate corporate culture.

        FTFY!!

    2. Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

      Re: Hey stupid.

      In the UK there's no requirement to pass any form of test or for a boat to be any kind of seaworthy. We have a long tradition of seafaring and playing silly buggers with boats and we'll fight to the death to keep it that way!

      1. Robert Helpmann??
        Childcatcher

        Re: Hey stupid.

        We have a long tradition of seafaring and playing silly buggers with boats and we'll fight to the death to keep it that way!

        So, a bit like Americans and guns, then?

        1. Number6

          Re: Hey stupid.

          Except that hundreds of years of natural selection tends to help weed out the idiots because they drown, whereas idiots with guns tend to weed others out of the gene pool.

      2. IT Hack
        Coat

        Re: Hey stupid.

        @ Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles

        Wasn't Samuel Plimsoll and Englishman?

        1. Anomalous Cowturd
          Thumb Up

          Re: Hey stupid.

          @IT Hack.

          Yes, he was.

          And he's buried in my home town!

          Probably responsible for saving more lives at sea than any man before or since.

          Rest his soul!

      3. Anomalous Cowturd
        Thumb Down

        @Jack Faust meets Mephistopheles Re: Hey stupid.

        Yeah, let's not worry about the lifeboat-men and women that have to go and rescue them in a storm at 4 AM.

        It's traditional!

        Grrrrr.............

    3. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Hey stupid.

      Sad that it caused the delay. Scary that they're letting the same level of stupid that exists on our highways out on to the open ocean.

      Or it could just be that a private company has unilaterally declared thousands of square miles of open ocean a no go zone. Captain of vessel in the area looks at said zone and observes that not crossing it will ruin his schedule. He realises that he has every right to be there so essentially says "Fuck you".

      It is not stupid to refuse to completely alter your plans based on someone else's request. Companies have a tendency to dress up this kind of thing to make it appear that what is essentially a polite word has some kind of legal authority backing it up.

  4. Stratman

    Power gives way to sail

    As per the title

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Power gives way to sail

      Power gives way to sail, my arse. Perhaps with teensy boats & putt-putt Sunseekers that might well be the case, but if the "power" is a massive supertanker/cargo ship and you're in a tiny sailboat, don't expect the laws of physics to change to enable the big boat to get out of your way because you thought it was a good idea to cut them up. An "emergency stop" can take 15 minutes or more in a fully laden cargo ship, so instead expect to be steam-rollered under the large ship (which may not even notice).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Power gives way to sail

      Except in confined waters, where the biggest has right of way. For a lot of ships these days something like the English Channel counts as "confined waters".

      In the Solent it's always funny watching amateur sailors in their 24ft sailing boats take on a 20,000 ton petrol tanker and losing, badly. They hardly dent the tankers at all.

  5. Rustident Spaceniak

    So, next time Dr No doesn't need his own island complete with mechanical dragon -

    a little sailing dinghy with a suitably expendable minion in it will be sufficient to interrupt the US' top priority rocket launches.

    Would've loved to hear what the coast guard patrol had to say to the skipper.

  6. Paul Cooper

    There seem to be some misunderstandings here.

    1) No-one - not even the range safety officers at places like Lulworth - can actually close a patch of sea for navigation. They can advise that you'll be putting yourself in danger, but that's all. As these launches take place on the high seas, there is NO way that entry to the danger area can be banned.

    2) Although most yachts do carry VHF radios, they are not required to and many don't. Far from land, few sailors would have the VHF switched on; indeed many sailors who do have VHF don't have it switched on routinely. Most yachts operate on a very tight electrical budget.

    1. Rustident Spaceniak

      Good point. Incidentally, do we have any information about the type and course of the sailboat and how they managed to contact or intercept it (if they even did)?

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      "Most yachts operate on a very tight electrical budget."

      And that is why smart sailors buy a hand-held radio to use in emergencies and when the main radio is turned off. It'll usually have a much shorter range, but long enough so that they can get out of the way if a larger ship is nearby.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Why?

    So what if a sailboat was under the launch path. I wonder what the odds are of a mis-fire/abort and the resulting fireball/shrapnel landing on any boat which might normally be in the area?

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Why?

      Erm.. have you heard the latest news re. the chances of a kaboom?

      That's not an icon, it's a photo of the launch ---->

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        "Erm.. have you heard the latest news re. the chances of a kaboom?"

        Yes, I have.

        Sent from my iVolcano

  8. Alfred 2
    Meh

    Why not?

    So what if a sailboat was under the launch path. I wonder what the odds are of a mis-fire/abort and the resulting fireball/shrapnel landing on any boat which might normally be in the area?

    Oh look daddy, in the sky, fireworks.

    Daddy: Oh shi...

  9. poopjuggler

    So a small fleet of drone boats can effectively shut down the US space program? I'll make a note of this in my manual that I'm compiling for North Korea.

    1. SkippyBing

      Not really, if it's a fleet of drone boats there won't be anyone to worry about accidentally killing if the launch doesn't go to plan. Of course being North Korea they may not object to putting some passengers on the drone boats...

  10. Daz555

    Sailboat? I occasionally wonder if Register is a UK or US centric site - does the use of this word confirm the latter?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been on the inside at Cape Canaveral AF Station

    Jack and Paul are incorrect. Range Safety for military and civilian launches on the East Coast are the responsibility of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The Coast Guard and partner agencies enforce a security zone that stretches 22 miles along the coast north of Port Canaveral and three miles into the Atlantic Ocean. An additional federal safety zone stretches 12 miles out to sea and is in effect 45 minutes before launch through 15 minutes afterward. Violate the off-limits security zone and face a fine as hefty as $40,000. Willfully violate the zone, and the penalty could be as much as $250,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I've been on the inside at Cape Canaveral AF Station

      Thank you AC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've been on the inside at Cape Canaveral AF Station

      "Violate the off-limits security zone and face a fine as hefty as $40,000. Willfully violate the zone, and the penalty could be as much as $250,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both."

      http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Media/PublicNotices/tabid/3060/Article/528766/nao-2009-00949.aspx

      "Penalty: Every person and every corporation which shall violate such regulations shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction thereof in any district court of the United States within whose territorial jurisdiction such offense may have been committed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months, in the discretion of the court."

    3. Number6

      Re: I've been on the inside at Cape Canaveral AF Station

      That only extends out to the territorial waters limit, which is as far as they can legally go under international law. How far out do they actually want people to keep clear?

  12. lawndart

    says:

    Reminds me of the old nautical rhyme:

    When the wind comes from the north-and-west,

    It's time to don your thermal vest.

    When the wind from the northeast does blow,

    Just give it up and go below.

    When the wind does fail and fade away,

    They will not go to space today.

  13. Havin_it
    WTF?

    Where?

    Would it have been too much to ask for the article to give some hint as to where this launch site actually was?

    1. Hurn

      Re: Where?

      The third Orbital Sciences cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch at 6:22 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 28, from Pad 0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Was it Larry Ellison?

    Honestly when I read this, the first thing I thought (for some reason) was Larry Ellison tooling around in his racing sail yacht 8-).

  15. TimePilot84

    Good call

    So, good call on delaying that launch for the boat, because the damn thing blew up. http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/28/nasas-unmanned-antares-rocket-explodes-on-liftoff/

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Good call

      The video is here for all to see:

      http://www.reuters.com/video/2014/10/28/nasas-unmanned-antares-rocket-explodes-o?videoId=346731881

  16. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Your typical sailboat does (at best) 7 knots... around 8 mph.... assuming it can move at all. There is no excuse for not listening on channel 16, But its not mandatory, especially pleasure boats. The range is over 100 sq miles. If a patrol boat had to go visit (say half an hor from dispatch), it coul take 1 to 3 hours to get out of the way (I imagine that a rocket wont launch in a 'good wind' for a sailboat...) say force 4....

    It has nothing to do with 'training' or experience... just manners.

    Having accidently sailed a 10mtr motor boat into a live fire range, a small error in navigation in trackless seas can be a bit embarrising (though I was on 16 at the time, I missed the first call being on deck at the time). I didnt miss the destroyer giving me a bollocking....

    As said earlier, it blowed up in any event....

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      There is no excuse for not listening on channel 16

      Marine VHF is very limited in range, both by power and by curvature of the earth. There is no reason at all to have a VHF set switched on forty miles offshore - it's for inshore and intership use only.

      1. John Jennings Bronze badge

        as mentioned above, the range is 12 miles or so deep - so - you are technically 'inshore', and yes, you should have the radio on. a sailboat (it has a mast) will easily have a vhf range of 25+ miles @ 5 watts. it does not have to be on, but it is good manners. as the exclusion is in effect only 45 minutes before launch (mentioned above), it is possible that the vessel was in transit, and was not aware of an active exclusion zone.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what if?

    If the boat did not scrub the first launch, then all would go well?

    Bill the boat $1B.

  18. John Jennings Bronze badge

    here is an interesting fact.,,,,,

    NASA publish a 'notice to Mariners' on http://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/home/marine.html

    It shows the gps cords and a chart.

    Interestingly, you communicate in wallops on channel 12, not 16.

    here is the interesting thing - the last notice is JUNE !!!!!

    1. Anomalous Cowturd
      Happy

      Re: here is an interesting fact.,,,,, @John Jennings.

      You are correct in both your postings above!

      I only mentioned channel 16 as that is the international hailing/distress frequency, although the Merkins, of course have their own, slightly different frequencies than the rest of the planet...

      12 miles is the limit of territorial waters, and NoTaMs are also broadcast here (Dover Straits) bi-hourly.

      I used to have access to channel 0, which is set aside for Coastguard/Lifeboat use, but unfortunately am no longer involved, and can only listen in... :o(

      When inside territorial waters, it is common sense, and courtesy, to have your VHF turned ON, but squelched. Modern short range GMDSS/DSC sets use just milliamps when idle.

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