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NASA Tests Heaviest Chute Drop Ever

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the not-so-fast dept.

NASA 226

Iddo Genuth writes "NASA and the US Air Force have successfully tested a new super-chute system aimed at reclaiming reusable Ares booster rockets. On February 28, 2009 a 50,000-pound dummy rocket booster was dropped in the Arizona desert and slowed by a system of five parachutes before it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly without any damage. This was possibly the heaviest parachute drop ever, and NASA is planning to perform even heavier drops of up to 90,000 pounds in the next few months."

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226 comments

that's a lot... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308681)

of fracking drugs!

otoh, the galactica could've done better with this for that insane stunt on new caprica. gosh darn!

A good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308685)

Now lets see if they can parachute the first stage of a Sea Dragon rocket. Then they'll be in business!

Re:A good start (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308691)

How much would that stage weigh empty? I know it was supposed to launch 500 tons to orbit (about the equivalent payload of 4 Saturn V rockets).

Re:A good start (5, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310075)

More importantly, how can the submitted article say the rocket "crashed" yet then immediately afterward say it landed softly. Are those two terms not mutually exclusive?

On February 28, 2009 a 50,000-pound dummy rocket booster was dropped in the Arizona desert and slowed by a system of five parachutes before it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly without any damage.

I suppose one could have a soft "crash landing" in an airplane, with the definition of a "crash landing" being: An unscheduled landing due to mechanical problems. But in this case, the parachute system apparently worked flawless ly, exactly as it was designed. So even the loosest definition of "crash" would not fit.

Can someone please fix the article?

Perhaps to this:

On February 28, 2009 a 50,000-pound dummy rocket booster was dropped in the Arizona desert and slowed by a system of five parachutes before it landed softly without any damage.

Thanks.

Astroid Net? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308687)

I wonder if a similar system can be used to slowdown certain large asteroids thus avoiding our extinction.

Re:Astroid Net? (5, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308727)

Afraid not. Parachutes work by increasing air drag. An incoming asteroid would be moving at something like 30 miles per second. The parachute would only have at most a couple of seconds to work. Having said that, if you had a boundary case of an asteroid that would lose a considerable portion of its energy to the atmosphere, but still have enough to cause significant property damage, then you could attach an inflatable balloon (I believe they call it a "ballute") to the front to increase the cross-sectional area of the asteroid, so it would lose more energy to the upper atmosphere. Those asteroids are probably too infrequent to bother planning for.

Re:Astroid Net? (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308847)

Those asteroids are probably too infrequent to bother planning for.

That's it. You've just chosen our doom.

Re:Astroid Net? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309017)

There'd have to be a lot of them. After the first thousand or so, I'd be like "Ok, I'm tired of this. Let's break out the parachutes."

Rate of descent... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309645)

How can it "crash to the ground" and "land softly" all in the same paragraph...?

Re:Astroid Net? (1)

heironymous (197988) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309975)

Respectfully disagree. The damage done by an incoming asteroid is primarily from all that potential energy arriving at the Earth. Even if you could attach a parachute to "lose more energy to the upper atmosphere" our planet still loses.

This is the same reason why nuking the asteroid into dust won't help, if all those tiny particles still hit us.

Re:Astroid Net? (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310433)

This is the same reason why nuking the asteroid into dust won't help, if all those tiny particles still hit us.

I've never understood this argument. Let's take a look at this: Every day, THOUSANDS of tiny meteorites impact the atmosphere. Of that, only a tiny fraction ever reach the ground. The vast majority of them burn up in the atmosphere. Of the ones that reach the ground, a tiny fraction of the original tiny fraction actually impact on land. A tiny fraction of the tiny fraction of the tiny fraction land somewhere in a populated area. A tiny fraction of the tiny fraction of the tiny fraction of the tiny fraction do property damage. and the amount that actually injure or kill someone? Well, the chance is so minuscule as to be laughable.

Yet somehow, utilizing one of our Weapons of Mass Destruction to actually SAVE lives by obliterating a "Chicxulub" sized asteroid into "burn up in atmosphere" sized chunks is somehow supposed to be more dangerous? What?

While I realize that it's impossible to predict precisely how a given asteroid would respond to being blasted with a nuke, Knowing that a large asteroid is about to strike, I would much rather take my chances with a bunch of smaller pieces striking earth. The math says we would be MUCH more likely to survive a bunch of "Meteor Crater Arizona" sized meteors landing randomly around the earth than one "Chicxulub" strike.

Somehow I think that the scientists predicting this are just putting "anti-nuke" politics ahead of protecting the planet.

Thats great but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308689)

Not as heavy as yo momma'

Re:Thats great but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309063)

Yo momma so fat she stepped on the scale and it said "to be continued".

operation dumbass drop.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308703)

don't they have anything better to do like give rich people more money?

4 out 5 posts are ACs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308705)

the first 4 of 5 posts are ACs. i guess america is still sleeping.

50,000 pounds slamming onto the ground didn't wake you up? next time, it'll be 90,000.

oh wait...the super-chute worked.

Re:4 out 5 posts are ACs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309131)

Hiding pedantry behind anonymity :-)

I was amused at the wording in the summary: ...before it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly without any damage

I know continuity sometimes suffers for dramatic effect in movies etc. but surely two consecutive sentences is stretching it a bit!!

Cool - now how much ... (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308707)

...does that commercial jet weigh?

Re:Cool - now how much ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308733)

Well over 350,000 pounds Boeing 767 [wikipedia.org] so don't get any ideas.

Planes would probably break up as well. Great that you attached to the mid section but you'll probably loose either the front 3rd or the rear as the thin cabin torsions apart.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308831)

The midsection? Where the wings are attached? The wings. The part that (barring the small portion of the lift that comes from the body of the plane) the entire plane is suspended from in flight already?

Re:Cool - now how much ... (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309165)

Well over 350,000 pounds Boeing 767 [wikipedia.org] so don't get any ideas.

Planes would probably break up as well. Great that you attached to the mid section but you'll probably loose either the front 3rd or the rear as the thin cabin torsions apart.

If you could guarantee the front third would survive it would help sell business class tickets in these troubled times.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309637)

Loose?
I guess it works.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (4, Funny)

whong09 (1307849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308783)

Cool? Try hot. As in dropping it like it's hot.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (3, Informative)

tweak13 (1171627) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308793)

Well, some of the larger 747 models have a maximum takeoff weight of over 900,000 pounds. I wouldn't expect ballistic recovery systems for them just yet.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (2, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309963)

Besides, most accidents are on takeoff, landing, or when the pilot didn't notice the mountain. No time to deploy parachutes.

Re:Cool - now how much ... (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309973)

...does that commercial jet weigh?

Even if you had a chute big enough, most airline accidents occur at take off and landing, altitudes well below where a parachute recovery system would be effective.

Remember the old Road Runner cartoons? Whenever the coyote would try a parachute he'd turn into a lawn dart, then the parachute would pop out of the smoking hole in the ground?

Kinda like that.

Nice technology... But for what purpose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308743)

Is Cowboy Neal joining the air force?

1 Question (4, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308759)

When will America start using SI units as the standard? Pounds don't mean anything to me.

Re:1 Question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308763)

What would you have us use in stories about the US?

Kilograms don't mean anything to us.

Re:1 Question (5, Funny)

bakes (87194) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308835)

Here we have a situation where a single large country - with too much power and inertia in these matters - is pointedly ignoring what the rest of the world is doing, and forcing the use of an arcane, unwieldy, incompatible standard on the rest of us.

Thank goodness this sort of thing doesn't happen in the IT industry.

Re:1 Question (5, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309037)

Here we have a situation where a single large country - with too much power and inertia in these matters - is pointedly ignoring what the rest of the world is doing, and forcing the use of an arcane, unwieldy, incompatible standard on the rest of us.

Sheesh, you Esperanto guys just never give up ...

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309305)

or even deciding which side of the road you should drive on..

Re:1 Question (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309733)

Tons would be good. Metric tonnes are approximately the same as imperial tons. I think the US uses "short tons" which are 900kg, so quite a bit less - but you'd still have a reasonable approximation, and when people in the UK and EU see "tons" in an American article we mentally adjust for it not *quite* being as heavy.

Let's try it and see how it works:

"On February 28, 2009 a 25-ton dummy rocket booster was dropped in the Arizona desert and slowed by a system of five parachutes before it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly without any damage. This was possibly the heaviest parachute drop ever, and NASA is planning to perform even heavier drops of up to 45 tons in the next few months."

Easy, isn't it? Now someone here in the UK would look at it and (if they cared enough) would take the weights as being a couple of tons less than the figure given there. They would probably only care that much if they had to load it onto a truck though.

Re:1 Question (2, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309935)

A metric tonne is 1000kg
An Imperial ton is 2000 lbs(pounds)
1 kg = 2.2 lbs
A metric tonne is therefore 2200 lbs
An Imperial ton is 20 cwt (hundredweight)
A hundredweight is 100 pounds
The US uses pounds because it sounds bigger IMHO

Re:1 Question (4, Informative)

OolimPhon (1120895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310203)

An Imperial ton is 2000 lbs(pounds)
An Imperial ton is 20 cwt (hundredweight)
A hundredweight is 100 pounds
The US uses pounds because it sounds bigger IMHO

In the US, maybe. In the UK:
An Imperial Ton is 2240 lbs
A Hundredweight is 112 lbs

Sounds like the US uses small measures because it seems like things weigh more/are bigger over there.

Same goes for pints/gallons.
US pint = 16 fl. oz. UK pint = 20 fl oz. No wonder your cars get so few miles/gallon. No wonder your petrol (sorry, gas) is so cheap.

Re:1 Question (4, Funny)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308775)

When will America start using SI units as the standard?

In NASA's case, it would take something big to make them see sense. Like, say, loosing a major space probe.

Re:1 Question (1)

justleavealonemmmkay (1207142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308785)

Isn't NASA internally using SI ?

Re:1 Question (3, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308809)

Sorry - unfair. NASA has been using SI units for many years. It was Lockheed Martin that fucked up on the Mars orbiter. Even the English do not use English units any more for anything more important than beer glass sizes. Actually, that is important. I've seen some sneaky Australian bars serve US-sized "pints", which are significantly smaller than Imperial pints.

Re:1 Question (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308843)

Yes, but in WA at least, I don't think they are allowed to call them a Pint, rather a "Large" beer. Between stunts like that and the cost, I prefer to head on around to a mates place for a few beers!

Re:1 Question (2, Interesting)

VocationalZero (1306233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308947)

An American pint is actually a copy of a British pint in 1707. The British later changed over to Imperial in 1824. Also, pretty much all of Southern Australia uses a 425 ml pint, and they call the normal 570 ml Australian pint an "Imperial pint", even though its slightly larger than an actual Imperial pint.

Re:1 Question (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309039)

Also, pretty much all of Southern Australia uses a 425 ml pint,

What!? Thats a schooner, not a pint. Only in Adelaide would that piddling amount be called a pint.

Hmmm... maybe when I thought I was ripped of with a US-pint it was even worse than I realised, and the bastard gave me a schooner. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_beer#Beer_glasses [wikipedia.org]

Re:1 Question (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309179)

An American pint is actually a copy of a British pint in 1707. The British later changed over to Imperial in 1824.

We had a choice between Liberty and More Beer. I'm still not sure we chose wrong.

Re:1 Question (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309601)

they call the normal 570 ml Australian pint an "Imperial pint"

Isn't a pint 568ml?

Re:1 Question (2, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309767)

It is. This leads to an interesting situation in the UK, where nearly everything is metric except beer, milk and road signs. If you buy milk it's in the same size carton it was 30 years ago, but it's labelled "568ml" instead of "1 pint" (or multiples). A pint of beer is a pint of beer, although you get slightly larger glasses in a lot of pubs with 1 pint marked by a line about 4mm from the rim of the glass. Depending on what you drink, a pint of beer might be a bit less than a pint, because some room is left for the head - so by making the glass a little bigger you've got that extra room *and* one pint of beer.

The road signs cause their own special problems. When you read a planning document for a section of road, you see lines like "A 4.8km stretch of 30mph limit" and so on. Crazy.

Re:1 Question (3, Funny)

MichaelTheDrummer (1130657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309919)

285ml Glass
- Known as a either a pot or a middy, depending on what state you're in, in all states of Australia except for SA
- SA calls this glass a Schooner

425ml Glass
- Called a Schooner everywhere except for SA
- Called a pint in SA, except for in Irish pubs

570ml Glass
- Called a pint everywhere in Australia, except for SA
- Called an Imperial Pint, or IP in SA, except in Irish pubs where it is just a Pint.

And there you have it.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27310539)

123

Re:1 Question (1)

Cathbard (954906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309003)

But they aren't sold as pints, they are sold in ml. Look on the glass and you'll probably see it written there. It was actually made illegal to sell things in imperial measure. In the early days the government even made everybody to retool so things weren't stupid sizes like still selling a quart of milk and just being labelled 1.14 litres . About the only thing I know of that is off-sized is corrugated iron.

Re:1 Question (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310445)

"Even the English do not use English units any more for anything more important than beer glass sizes. "

THERE IS *NOTHING* MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SIZE OF A BEER GLASS.NOTHING!

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309677)

Loosing?
I guess it works.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308791)

when you pry them from our cold dead hands.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308799)

I would argue that anything over your own body weight in _any unit of measure_ won't mean anything to you. There's no easy way for to reason about 50000lbs or 22679kg. Does 22700kgs mean something to you?

If it does it's only because you could rationalize it against another known measurement... hence we get into the realm of using units of measure like "libraries of congress." e.g this is about 14mid-size cars :) There, now everyone understands.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308837)

Yep, 22 tons means a lot.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308985)

Yupe... 22tons and 50000lbs both mean "a lot" :)

Re:1 Question (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308813)

Sounds like a personal problem.

Re:1 Question (1)

flydude18 (839328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308825)

I'd much rather see the weight in pounds than an abomination like kilogram-force, or, even worse, with the mass given rather than weight (weight being the pinnacle of all parameters in aviation, except in rocketry, but a falling rocket is more like an aircraft).

Sure, SI has the rather lovely Newton, but the kilogram always seems to find its way into any representation of mass/weight.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308845)

Never. Seriously. America isn't going to /approach/ that change for at least a couple of generations, if even then.

Which is no excuse for you to be inflexible about learning a foreign unit. It's about 2.2 kg. Or more to the point, 50,000lbs is 25 tons, which in gosh-it's-heavy terms rounds close enough to 25 tonnes if you're feeling too pressed for time to do the math.

"Pounds don't mean anything to me" (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308865)

Yeah, but when you use an alias like Karganeth you're Totally speaking a language I understand! Now I have to go dig my Orcone out of his storage pen and take him for a run in the dog park....

Re:1 Question (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308887)

It's a shade over 6428 stone. If you have problems visualising that, imagine 918 weaklings or 357 burly rugby players. Which is 17 teams (with substitutes) composed entirely of loosehead props.

Better?

Re:1 Question (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308891)

The ones who care already do. In some cases, it is easier to use the empirical system, for example, I can't imagine having to do construction with millimeters, but 1/8 and 1/16 inch are the perfect tolerances of precision when framing a house. The millimeters are just too hard to see because they're so close together. Try it sometime. I guess in Europe they must use them, so it must be doable (or maybe that's why they use bricks so much in construction instead of wood!)

In other cases it's easier to use the SI units, like if you are a scientist trying to calculate the velocity of things falling. People who need to do this already DO use SI units.

Finally, there are times when it doesn't really matter which one you use, like when you are weighing yourself, does it really matter if you use kilograms or pounds? Not really. The effort to change there just isn't worth it for most people. If we talked to Europeans more often, it might be, but.......

Incidentally, it isn't just Americans. Other countries use a mix of measurements as well. For example, in El Salvador, they use centimeters to measure their height, kilograms to measure their weight, and liters to measure their water, and gallons to measure their gas. I believe Taiwan uses some traditional measurements as well.

Re:1 Question (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308905)

Dang, I messed up there. I meant that in El Salvador they use pounds to measure weight, not kilograms. And for what it's worth from news reports I've seen and from talking to people, UK still seems to use stones to measure human weight.

Re:1 Question (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309061)

for what it's worth from news reports I've seen and from talking to people, UK still seems to use stones to measure human weight.

Yes we do, in general :) And a stone is 14lbs.

Re:1 Question (1)

DougWebb (178910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309723)

Yes we do, in general :) And a stone is 14lbs.

I never understood that unit of measurement. Where'd you guys get such regularly-sized rocks? Over here in the colonies, they're all very inconsistent.

Re:1 Question (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309749)

I believe the unit was standardised on the weight of Winston Churchill's right testicle.

Re:1 Question (1)

zach_d (782013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309049)

I work construction in canada, and while we use Imperial most of the time, I actually find it a relief when we work a government job, and get to work metric. on a metric tape, you've only got mils, and they're way closer together than 32nds.

most of the time you're only working to the half a cent anyway, and you do way less low level math.

(and the code's written in metric here, so it's a bit easier to get things spot on code)

Re:1 Question (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309169)

The ones who care already do. In some cases, it is easier to use the empirical system, for example, I can't imagine having to do construction with millimeters, but 1/8 and 1/16 inch are the perfect tolerances of precision when framing a house. The millimeters are just too hard to see because they're so close together. Try it sometime. I guess in Europe they must use them, so it must be doable (or maybe that's why they use bricks so much in construction instead of wood!)

I live in Australia and I do all my house framing in millimetres. I have never had trouble seeing a millimetre.

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308919)

Call it 25 Tons.

Re:1 Question (5, Funny)

nickgrieve (87668) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309027)

Metric, motherfucker, do you speak it?

1 answer! (1)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309113)

Since I know a thing or two about conversions, I've looked this up for you. The answer is the following: 50,000 (British) pounds is roughly 53,823 euros.

I don't know what the answer is for Canadian pounds though... Sorry!

Re:1 Question (1)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309145)

Well here in the UK, a 50,000 pound dummy rocket is regarded as quite expensive. You'd think a dummy would be a lot cheaper than that. I'm sure I saw one on eBay for a half-a-dozen monkeys.

Re:1 Question (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309639)

Well here in the UK, a 50,000 pound dummy rocket is regarded as quite expensive. You'd think a dummy would be a lot cheaper than that. I'm sure I saw one on eBay for a half-a-dozen monkeys.

2^6*10^5 drachm for 120 pony ain't cheap.

About 22.7 Tonnes (1)

rHBa (976986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309241)

~2.2 pounds/Kg so off the top of my head that's about 22.7 Tonnes. Of course it depends what type of pounds your talking about as there are lots [wikipedia.org] .

Re:1 Question (2, Informative)

PerlDudeXL (456021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309453)

Feet, miles and knot based units are the de facto standard in aerospace. The scientists
use SI units, the pilots do not. For a software I wrote I had to use SI units internally
and had to convert those values to feet/miles/knot based ones before passing them into a
pilot specific software. I work in germany (at the DLR if it matters).

Re:1 Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27310039)

sorry, 50000 pounds would be ~3571 stone

Thank you NASA! (5, Funny)

Morkalin (992168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308851)

Maybe someday I'll be able to take up skydiving after all!

Re:Thank you NASA! (4, Funny)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309117)

Your mom will.

What Is The Upside To Reusing The Booster? (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308855)

Recovering, fixing, and verifying the booster is an expensive proposition. How much does the recovered booster actually cost? The entire reusable Shuttle idea was kind of dumb because it was cheaper to stick with expendable launch vehicles than drag a huge piece of deadweight into space every time. What is the difference here? (Seriously.)

Re:What Is The Upside To Reusing The Booster? (4, Interesting)

berglin (846569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308869)

But then we wouldn't have known how to build a reusable shuttle, which I'm sure left some residual science in other fields as well.

Some things are worth doing just for the sake of it.

Re:What Is The Upside To Reusing The Booster? (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310263)

I'd argue that much less was learned building the shuttle. Thats why they are having so much trouble building a new launch vehicle now -no one knows how to build one first hand. If they had been building rockets for the last 30 years, the technology would have been improving in each iteration. We would be in an entirely different situation now.

Re:What Is The Upside To Reusing The Booster? (3, Interesting)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310011)

The shuttle concept in an of itself is not a terrible idea, however it got horribly warped by the Air Force's unrelenting requirements (i.e. payload bay size, etc.) and morphed into something horrendously inefficient.

There are certain parts of rockets that lend themselves much more to re-use than others. In this case, I believe the intent for Ares rockets is to replace the nozzle each flight -- they decided it was cheaper to build consumable thruster nozzles for each flight than to re-process the expensive, intricate cooling designs for keeping a nozzle in good enough shape to use again.

Aikon-

Not even close to "heaviest ever" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27308901)

Current SRB cases which parachute back weigh ~200 000 lbs

Re:Not even close to "heaviest ever" (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308983)

Not after the fuel burns out.

How many libraries of congress? (4, Funny)

definate (876684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27308927)

Seriously, this is a useless measurement, it's way over things I know about. I need it in something practical, like how many libraries of congress is it?

Re:How many libraries of congress? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309181)

The challenge would be getting your Library of Congress down as a single load.

Re:How many libraries of congress? (1)

definate (876684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309211)

Well go to your local library of congress, and just drop my name, and they'll help you set it up for a single load.

Re:How many libraries of congress? (1)

spcmky (1156899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310527)

There are 3 buildings that make up the LOC.

No M-1 Abrhams, then (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309009)

At roughly 140,000 lbs, they're still out of reach.

Re:No M-1 Abrhams, then (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309219)

Unless you use two ...

I can't find the link but it has been thought of. All you have to save is the cabin. That is just an aluminum can

no fuel, no engines, no cargo ... easy peasy.

Next attempt.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309091)

....dropping Rosie o"Donnell from 10 feet. The reason for this first test is to figure out how to keep the world from cracking every time the Rosie gets out of bed.

Heaviest chute drop? (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309127)

My first thought was that this had something to do with the new waste recovery system. Ever since the Pizza Hut pastas came out, I've been a ready and willing contributor of test samples.

crashed softly? (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309387)

it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly...

WTF? If it "landed softly" it didn't "crash".

Re:crashed softly? (2, Insightful)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310595)

You left out "Before it"

Memory doesn't last too long, right? (1)

silverdr (779097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309585)

50,000-pound dummy rocket booster was dropped [...] This was possibly the heaviest parachute drop ever

Like if Soviet Russia never dropped 20+ tons tanks on the chutes still in the seventies...

Re:Memory doesn't last too long, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27310063)

i inmediatly thought of this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba

Czar bomba was 27 tonnes, almost 60k pounds for you imperial people, and was dropped with 800kg of nylon chute attached to it, to allow the bomber to escape the range of the 50 megaton blast..

granted it wasnt ment to land in a recoverable fashion on the ground, but it was a chute drop..

Only one chute (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309699)

I'm curious about the engineering reasons for using one really big chute instead of a cluster of smaller ones as on the Apollo command module.

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27309977)

Does this mean I can order a car online, and have it air lifted to me? like in Mercenaries?

Original NASA press release (3, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27309981)

The original press release is here [nasa.gov] .
This is pretty old news. If you want up to date news from NASA, subscribe to the RSS feed [nasa.gov] .

Could the wind mess with this? (1)

ilikebees (1382425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310123)

I realize it is a very large object so perhaps the answer is no. I'm just curious. Whenever I made rockets as a kid I lost them in the damn trees after the first launch because of that blasted parachute. It took so long to get the decals just right too... "It's going to land on my house!" "Don't worry, it's going to land softly." "Oh, ok." *crunch*

to hell with parchutes (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310217)

I want to see flyback boosters! There was a design they had for the shuttle boosters that would replace them with liquid-fueled models and they would also come equipped with jet engines. Launches as a liquid-fueled rocket, separates from the shuttle stack, deploys swing wings (which were flush with the airframe at launch) and fire up the conventional jets to make a powered return flight, landing at the Cape pretty as you please.

I think they scrapped this plan because it would be too much development for a program near the end of its life but you'd think it would be viable for the boost stages of newer vehicles. The first stage has got to be the heaviest, most expensive part of the stack. The refurb cost on the shuttle makes you think it might just be cheaper to throw it away but maybe we could actually save some money with better engineering on something like this?

Parachutes are a drag. (1)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310291)

So. We're back to parachutes. While I suppose it's better than just letting the boosters crash, we're still not where we need to be. The age of the rocket is over, dammit, and serious work needs to be done on the next generation earth-to-orbit vehicles.

This means space planes (The X-prize made it out of the atmosphere, if not the gravity well, on a private sector budget) or cool stuff like the Delta Clipper.

Parachutes in the year 2009 is not a re-entry mechanism worthy of the manpower and money NASA has at its disposal.

Re:Parachutes are a drag. (1)

WatcherXP (658784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310441)

Yeah, and get rid of wheels and the printing press as well!

Crashed or Landed? (1)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 5 years ago | (#27310683)

...before it crashed to the ground. The booster landed softly without any damage.

It's only a joke that any crash you can walk away from is called a landing. So did the chutes not work and the thing crashed? Or did they work and it landed? Make up your mind!!!!
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