back to article Pub time for NASA bods? Orion spacecraft test launch called off

NASA’s shiny new space shuttle Orion has missed its launch window today, as countdown after countdown was called off amid a number of difficulties. Orion on the launch pad A boat in the red zone of the launch, high ground winds on more than one occasion and a fill and drain valve not closing properly kept the ground crew on …

  1. Simon Harris


    Was it the same one that scuppered the Orbital Sciences Corp. launch in October?

    I suspect the work of evil Bond villains.

  2. Hopalong

    Just hope that they do not have the same 'next day' event as Antares, that is a RUD.

    Someone needs to do something with that wind gauge and hit that valve with universal tool #1 (big hammer)

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      They did do something with the wind gauge, they decided to ignore it. The automatic detector was taken offline and the meatsack on that console was going to do the monitoring if the 14:44 attempt had gone ahead.

      As for the valves (two were sticking) they tried various things but I didn't hear them discuss your suggestion. Volunteers for the job might have been thin on the ground :-)

  3. AbelSoul

    Unlucky again..

    "See this? It's an Orion launch ticket, though knowing my luck some twat on a boat will sail int't exclusion zone and they'll probbly cancel it"

    "Oh, bugger!"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From your photo...

    ...Look at all that lovely infrastructure....huge metal towers, pylons, buildings etc. If they had all that on the Moon back in the sixties, then i too might've believed that they landed and took off from there.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: From your photo...

      We had a couple of odd comments about this (difference between Earth and Moon launch) on the other Orion threads. Do we have a troll, a serious moon-conspiracy nut, or is it supposed to be a joke?

      I really can't decide which...

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: From your photo...

      However, our troll/idiot/joker is correct. There's no way the Moon landings could be real. It's an established fact that the Moon is made of cheese. So where the rockets landed and took off, you'd get a fondue effect. As no astronauts were ever seen drinking unfeasibly vast quantities of wine while eating potatoes, charcuterie, bread and pickles - it can be firmly established that the moon-landings are a fake.

      Unless the Moon is made of hallumi I suppose. You can hit that stuff with blowtorches, and it doesn't even bend, let alone melt...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: From your photo...

        Troll/idiot/joker, or maybe he or she has a different agenda to yours Spartacus? If this person is either a Troll, Idiot and or joker, then what does that make you for 'Replying' to their comment?

        Why are you so keen to rubbish them? If their opinion is utter garbage then either 'Downvote' or do what most people do and just ignore them. If you do that then maybe they'll go away.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: From your photo...

          Troll/idiot/joker, or maybe he or she has a different agenda to yours Spartacus?

          I have no agenda, my anonymous friend. I can't imagine many people do, as all we're doing is posting on the forums of a reasonably obscure online IT publication. I suppose timewasting might count as an agenda...

          Why are you so keen to rubbish them?

          Why not? Why would I post something on this forum at all? I guess to add to the gaiety of nations. Or out of boredom or a work-avoidance-strategy.

          If their opinion is utter garbage then either 'Downvote' or do what most people do and just ignore them. If you do that then maybe they'll go away.

          See above. Why post on here at all? I guess it was for the amusement of my fellow commentards. Also out of interest, as I've never seen such an odd argument put before. I've seen all the shadows being wrong / wavey flags / camera stuff before. That's not interesting. But I've never seen someone argue the moonlandings didn't happen because there's no Kennedy Space Centre on the moon. Yet every single one of these Orion articles has some variation of it. That's genuinely interesting.

          Now I'm also interested by your motivation, for your slightly odd post. You could have ignored me, as you advised me. You could have used a username, to make it easier to reply. You could perhaps be the offended party, who I was somewhat dismissive of. Or someone leaping to their defence. Or a fellow believer in anti-moonlanding-conspiracy-nutjobbery. Who knows? What could be more interesting than the thoughts and beliefs of my fellow human beings?

    3. cray74

      Re: From your photo...

      "...Look at all that lovely infrastructure....huge metal towers, pylons, buildings etc. If they had all that on the Moon back in the sixties"

      Which, of course, is all the proof we need to know that all those Cold War nuclear missiles were a complete hoax. All the Cold War money spent by nations to build SLBMs, IRBMs, and ICBMs able to operate from rough, unprepared woods and oceans was, in fact, probably spent on vast underground shelters used as sex resorts by national leaders.

      These giant love bunkers in turn prove that Apollo was a hoax because by 1969 no engineers on the planet had any experience designing rockets to be launched with minimal field support.

    4. PassiveSmoking

      Re: From your photo...

      The problem with your typical moon hoax conspiracy nut (or conspiracy nuts in general) is that a) they think they're smarter than everyone else, and b) they're actually so fucking stupid that they're too fucking stupid to realise just how fucking stupid they really are.

      They all think they're Agent Mulder when they're really Jenny McCarthy

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drama Queens

    They could've launched today, stuff the 'Water Boatman', if it had landed on his head it would've been his own fault!

  6. Khaptain Silver badge

    Why is wind a problem

    Honest question. Why would something this large suffer from the wind.

    I presume by wind that they don't mean a hurricane or force 5 blasts, which would lay down more obvious reasons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      Careful Khaptain, careful! The 'Downvoters' have itchy trigger fingers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      'Honest question. Why would something this large suffer from the wind.'

      Not enough roughage in the diet, would be my guess.

    3. James Hughes 1

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      I think it's the high altitude shear that's the problem, throwing the rocket off course, presumably meaning more fuel to keep on course or get up to orbital speed.

    4. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      "Why would something this large suffer from the wind."

      Eh? Because it's large. And it balances on its tip. You wouldn't want it to hit the tower on take off or gimbal-lock the engines while trying to correct for wind drift so that you'd have to then ask the range safety officer to turn it into an unscheduled fireworks display...

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: Why is wind a problem

        The Challenger disaster was caused, in part, by wind shear at high altitude just as the shuttle hit max aerodynamic load, this caused the SRB to flex more than usual and the already degraded o-rings to fail completely. I'd guess that's still something they want to avoid as the rocket bodies probably resist lateral loads poorly to avoid excess mass.

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Why is wind a problem

          So it appears that there are 2 schools of thought to my simple question.

          1 : Ground level wind - It would take a might wind to move a mass of 21 tonnes and as I mentioned I do nto believe that hurricane forces were in effect.

          2 : High altitude wind : Ok this I can understand more but surely by the time it reaches that altitude it already has gained a lot of momentum. I would therefore have consider that the wind would have little effect.

          I could be and probably am wrong on both hypotheses.

          As for the downvoters and itchy fingers, believe me I have far more downvotes than many have upvotes... My skin is thick, it has to be, I am not intelligent enough to survive by any others means.

          1. Rob Carriere

            Re: Why is wind a problem

            1. Considering ground level wind was mentioned, this is probably what was up.

            As for the thing being 21 tons, fair enough, but that doesn't make it hard to move. I have moved 10 ton boats on my own and I am not a strong guy. In water or air, you don't get the friction with the ground and things are very different from what intuition might tell you.

            The basic question is, can the wind move the rocket sideways by the couple of meters clearance it has from the tower before the tail of the rocket clears the top of the tower?

            Alternatively, can it topple the rocket before it clears the top of the tower? (Once you're clear, you can lean into the wind; while you still next to the tower, you're pretty much restricted to engine gimballing.)

            Neither of these would take hurricanes. Just a good solid breeze against that huge sail, err, rocket.

            Consider that a 40 knot crosswind is reason not to land most aircraft and those things are more controllable than rockets.

          2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Why is wind a problem


            You just have to remember that rockets are very tall, and very thin. And most of the stuff you control them with is right at the bottom. It's hard enough to get them to go in a straight line anyway, without adding even more factors that make them unstable. Balance a pencil on its end on your finger, try and hold that upright. Now blow on it...

            Winds in the upper atmosphere can regularly hit over 100 mph as well, even on calm days at surface level. This is why trans-Atlantic flight times might vary by over an hour (if the jetstream is going really fast). That's a lot of force exerted on a rocket, which it has to correct for. Although in this case it was apparently low altitude wind.

            1. Hopalong

              Re: Why is wind a problem

              The ground level wind exceeded a predefined value (20 knots I think) and the launch control computer automatically stopped the countdown.

              The last think you want is the wind pushing the stack into the tower with the associated RUD event.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Why is wind a problem

                Well, knock me over with a feather.....and so it seems, tonnes of metal and liquid propellant!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: WindyPOPS

                  Well Khaptain, your little question has certainly 'ruffled' some commentard feathers. Would have thought that wind would be a problem on a less aerodynamic lifting body. Would have thought that the rockets slippy-slidey shape would've allowed it to cut through the air cleanly.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Why is wind a problem

                  THE BLACKPOOL SOLUTION...

                  To stop the wind spoiling our time on the Pleasure Beach our dad used to put up a 'wind break'. Could this humble technology be the solution to NASA's wind problem?

                  I'm not talking about a few metres of stripey material, but someting akin to what they constructed the 'Millenium Dome' out of. They could enclose the launch site with this structure and prevent costly delays due to the problem of high winds at ground level.

                  1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

                    Re: Why is wind a problem

                    Because they'd never find a rock big enough to knock the poles in with.

          3. cray74

            Re: Why is wind a problem

            "1 : Ground level wind - It would take a might wind to move a mass of 21 tonnes and as I mentioned I do nto believe that hurricane forces were in effect."

            Isn't the Delta IV Heavy 733 tons at the launch pad? The ~20-ton Orion payload isn't released until well above the atmosphere.

            1. PassiveSmoking

              Re: Why is wind a problem

              An A380 Airbus is 500 tons empty. Try watching one of those landing in a strong cross wind!

          4. Captain DaFt

            Re: Why is wind a problem

            Here's a simple little experiment that'll give you an idea of why wind's a problem to rocket launches.

            Get a broom, and balance it on your finger vertically, brush end up. This is similar to how a rocket balances on its thrust.

            Now try this outside on a breezy day... much harder!

    5. Jos

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      NASA has done extensive research into this. For the shuttle for instance it was:


      "Wind: Tanking will not begin if the wind is observed or forecast to exceed 42 knots for the next three hour period.

      For launch the wind constraints at the launch pad will vary slightly for each mission. The peak wind speed allowable is 30 knots. However, when the wind direction is between 100 degrees and 260 degrees, the peak speed varies for each mission and may be as low as 24 knots."

      If you want to read a full study on wind effects (this one is from 1966, 435 pages) go here:

      "Ground wind load effects on launch vehicles and circular cylinders - conference "

      You will see that there are a couple of issues with wind, including nearby objects, vibration, trajectory of parts falling back to earth, etc. It also has a nice pic of one of their test models being blown over from its platform in a storm.

    6. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Why is wind a problem

      You hit a bit of wind shear and turbulence in a light aircraft at 100MPH it feels like the mighty hand of god has dished you out a slap. I imagine thumping through the same sort of turbulence at supersonic speed might rattle your fillings a bit.

  7. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Why 8 parachutes? Sounds like an obvious equation

    8 parachutes = one tangled mess

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Parachutes are like aeroplane engines - you can never have too many...

      Airline captain's dream:

      Flight Engineer: "Captain, we have a slight over-temp on engine #6, sir"

      Captain: "Very well. Pilot, throttle down engine #6"

      Pilot: "Ay ay, sir. Ah... that will be #6 on which wing, sir?"

      1. Hopalong

        Reminds me of a story I read many years ago -

        An F-4 Phantom came across a B-52 somewhere over the States and started to show off doing rolls etc. After a minute or two, he flew along side the B-52 and radioed him saying 'I bet you can't do that'. The B-52 came back with 'Ok, we bet you can't do this!' The B-52 flew on straight and level.

        After a couple of minutes the F-4 jock radioed back 'Do what? nothing has happened?'

        At which the B-52 replied 'We have just shut down 2 engines'

    2. Hopalong

      It's a three stage event (If I remember it correctly)

      1) Orion hits the top of the atmosphere @20,000 mph

      2) It is slowed down to 300mph approx by atmospheric drag

      3) 2 small chutes are deployed to slow it to 150mph and are released

      4) 3 drogue chutes are deployed which drag out the main chutes

      Hence 8 chutes!

    3. cray74

      "8 parachutes = one tangled mess"

      They're not all out at once.

      Big parachutes, like the main chutes of the Orion capsule, sometimes need some assistance to be pulled out to a correct inflation distance from the payload they're trying to soft land. So, smaller chutes are used. This particular process used by Orion achieves the following:

      1) Stabilizing the capsule in the correct orientation for main parachute deployment (with the drogues opening in a few steps to avoid a hard shock on the capsule)

      2) Small chutes help pull out the main ones

      3) Finally the main chutes deploy in a few steps to, again, avoid a hard shock.

  8. Simon Harris

    Should have gone to Specsavers...

    I keep reading that NASA are intending to launch an Onion into space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should have gone to Specsavers...

      Y'know something, they'd probably fake that as well.

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Should have gone to Specsavers...

      "I keep reading that NASA are intending to launch an Onion into space."

      Ah, that explains this!:

  9. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Why did they mention the boat and the winds? Clearly to detract from the fact that the craft wasn't ready for launch. If the boat hadn't been there and the day had been calm the launch wouldn't have taken place due to the valve fault.

  10. Uncle Ron


    "Overcautious Automated Scripts" should also be in your headline. "Hold, Hold, Hold," was called out twice this morning during two separate 4 minute windows because of winds a bit above maximum. The LD actually called for turning off that part of the script system and manually making the wind decision, before they called the third "Hold, Hold, Hold" for the "faulty" valves. Who knows if the valves would have been sensed to be "faulty" if the wind decisions hadn't caused everything to have to be spooled down and spooled back up. Just sayin'...

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Scripts

      The second wind hold caused them a bit of a problem because they were in the middle of some preparation for launch and the hold happened at precisely the wrong moment to back out what they were doing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Place Your Bets, Ladies & Gentlemen" (05/12/14)

    2/1: Perfect launch, first time of asking.

    10/1: Minor fault, small delay, then flawless launch.

    100/1: Countdown delayed again!, because of leaves on the line.

    1,000/1: NASA fess-up and admit the space programme has been one big con.

    10,000/1: The Human race's reaction to the truth is to just shrug their shoulders and carry on with their lives.

  12. Ralara


    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Shuttle

      It's supposed to be re-usable. Although it's cheating, as they throw the rocket away. Then again, the shuttle itself threw two rockets and a honking great tank away on every launch. Well I know they re-used bits of the SRBs, but not with the hoped for success.

      SpaceX are getting pretty shuttley though. They've designed a re-usable capsule, and the first stage of one of their rockets is doing a test landing next week.

  13. dan1980
  14. Christian Berger

    Spaceship? ...named Orion?

    ... queue music!

    There was a weird little German Sci-Fi TV show called "Die fantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion". It was mostly famous for having common household items as sci-fi instruments.

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