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NASA Rocket Barrage Will Light Up Mid-Atlantic Coast

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-in-a-good-way dept.

NASA 69

coondoggie writes "NASA will this week detail a mission where it will launch five rockets in five minutes from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia that will light up the night sky for millions of folks in a swath between New York City and about Wilmington, NC. The five rocket blasts, which could occur between March 14 and April 4, are part of what the space agency calls the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), a Heliophysics sounding rocket mission that aims to gather data needed to better understand the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth, NASA said." NASA will be hosting a teleconference at 1PM EST on Wednesday to discuss the mission. They also have brief PDF descriptions of the rockets involved: Terrier-Improved Orion, Terrier Oriole, and Terrier Malemute.

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Where is the things we need? (1, Offtopic)

ProgrammerJulia (2589195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272461)

Why don't anyone give NASA money to develop and build space elevator or think about colonization.

Japan will have the worlds first fully capable space elevator in 2012. They are highly needed. Is US going to leave behind Japan in technology?

Re:Where is the things we need? (0)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272479)

i doubt japan will have a fully capable elevator this year. They are working on it but everything I've read says they are a decade away from it.

Re:Where is the things we need? (0)

ProgrammerJulia (2589195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272493)

Yeah, that was supposed to be within 10 years. :-)

Re:Where is the things we need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272541)

wang

Re:Where is the things we need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272593)

chung

Re:Where is the things we need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272613)

tonight.

Re:Where is the things we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272601)

That means, by 2112, there might be a working elevator.

Re:Where is the things we need? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272817)

and the meek shal inherit the Earth.

Re:Where is the things we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274153)

We need an "AWESOME +1: Rush Usage" mod...

Re:Where is the things we need? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275085)

Eventually someone will build a proper tower of babel in the middle east. The Burj Kalifa just needs to be made a few thousand times taller.

Re:Where is the things we need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272647)

Because the whole idea of a space elevator is stoopid?

Re:Where is the things we need? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272765)

pubis.

Re:Where is the things we need? (1, Funny)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273739)

You mean, things like grammar lessons?

Grammar != /. (1)

j33px0r (722130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273847)

Grammar_Nazi == Loser

Re:Grammar != /. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274387)

Well don't keep us in suspense. Does that evaluate to true or false?

Re:Where is the things we need? (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274877)

They are already doing both, They have competitions for designs for ribbon material for a space elevator and machines to climb such ribbons, and conferences on colonisation. But both topics are still in the blue sky stage. A space elevator needs a material about four times stronger than anything yet manufactured, and it is a bit early to talk about colonisation when we have not yet reached Mars once, and have no plans for a moon lander. NASA is doing all it reasonably could be doing at this stage.

Japan will certainly not have a space elevator in 2012, nor for many years after. Actually, Japan's space program is not going particularly well. They have a lot of partial and complete failures.

Re:Where is the things we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275125)

The only elevator most Bible thumping Americans care about is the rapture? That doesn't take much work on their part.

God Loves a Terrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272789)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC8rZq3oKuI

Something to feed the conspiracy folks (5, Funny)

mrxak (727974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272807)

Barrage is not really the word one uses for rockets going up, but for rockets coming back down again with destructive force. A bombardment. An attack. This is all just cover for the final phase of the secret military space weapon [slashdot.org] . Oh yes, it will light up the sky.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (3, Informative)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273311)

These rockets will come down (see the graphic in the two first links in the summary), so barrage isn't as mal placé as you think.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273325)

How about salvo? Perhaps that seems more fitting.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (2)

mrxak (727974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39282627)

That would be a far better word.

Yes, I'm sure these rockets won't achieve escape velocity, they'll come back down. But the headline here is that a barrage will light up the sky, which I rather doubt. A barrage is a bombardment, and the rockets crashing down into the ocean I don't think is what will light up the sky, but the rocket engines themselves launching in rapid succession will, and that's a salvo.

Anyway, I was just making a joke about the other slashdot story earlier in the day, and the rampant conspiracy theories there.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (1)

Howard Beale (92386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273555)

What drugs are you on? If you had RTFA, you would have seen that the missles all have an impact of under 500 miles at most. Wallops is on the eastern shore of Virginia, so unless the launchers are turned 180 degrees, I don't think they're going to hit anything.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (1)

mrxak (727974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39282555)

Woosh?

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (1)

Howard Beale (92386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39326161)

Yeah, guess so. Wasn't too many comments at the time, and I just figured the parent post was nuts.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273605)

Don't worry, you are protected by your tinfoil hat.

Re:Something to feed the conspiracy folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274011)

Among team members involved in these 5 missions the phrase "Atlantic Armageddon" has been circulating as a kind of a joke used to describe them.

Wouldn't it be funny (0)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272821)

Wouldn't it be funny ... if they all accidentally landed on Iran's nuclear sites.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273029)

What would be even more hilarious would be the Chinese and Russian response. Then we'd be rid of the self-appointed world poli^H^H^H bully once and for all.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (2, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273229)

What would be even more hilarious would be the Chinese and Russian response. Then we'd be rid of the self-appointed world poli^H^H^H bully once and for all.

Seriously I would expect some very strong diplomatic objections .... together with sighs of relief.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273581)

China would continue to sell junk to us and Russia would continue to swill vodka and brag about themselves. Basically, nothing would change, so suck it.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273055)

Wouldn't it be hilarious if some passenger planes flew into some large office blocks in the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons, what a hoot!

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273073)

Wouldn't it be hilarious if some passenger planes flew into some large office blocks in the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons, what a hoot!

Silence from the Muslim quarter please

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273097)

Take off the "please" and you have summarised US foreign policy in 5 words

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273095)

Wouldn't it be hilarious if some passenger planes flew into some large office blocks in the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons, what a hoot!

Its precisely because you Muslims find this sort of thing funny that we don't want you to have nukes.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (2)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273767)

Wouldn't it be hilarious if some passenger planes flew into some large office blocks in the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons, what a hoot!

As if one thing had anything at all to do with the other...
Somehow, "fuck-wit" just doesn't seem adequate in this case.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

radja (58949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274179)

if you can laugh about bombing iran, you can laugh about the bombing of the twin towers.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274385)

Congratulations for missing the point almost entirely. And BTW, bombing is seldom funny.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275021)

I saw Jay Leno bomb once..it was hilarious.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

celle (906675) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274801)

"Wouldn't it be hilarious if some passenger planes flew into some large office blocks in the only country which has ever used nuclear weapons, what a hoot!

As if one thing had anything at all to do with the other...
Somehow, "fuck-wit" just doesn't seem adequate in this case."

    No, he's right. When I was in the army in the late 1980's we did joke about commercial assets, including airliners, being used as weapons. The idea was viewed with contempt since it seemed most terrorists wanted to live regardless of whatever they got out of the terrorist act. Most concern was on large military engagements from other powers and not on individual isolated attacks. Suicide attacks had been used very rarely and not on a large scale against the US so the end view was no one was crazy enough to directly attack a country with a nuclear stockpile that could destroy the entire world several times over. It was also viewed as self-defeating as anyone doing so and their supporters would be rendered extinct the next day by both sides just to keep the peace.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273257)

It would be a miracle actually, these rockets aren't very big. Wallops facility isn't Cape Canaveral.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274167)

"Miracle" is exactly the word I would have used. These aren't orbital launch vehicles. The biggest one, the Terrier-Malamute, will drop into the ocean about 700km from the launch site. That's about half-way to Bermuda. Granted, that's with a launch angle of 77 degrees, and I expect they might be able to extend the downrange performance a bit by reducing the launch angle (which they won't do.) But the only land mass that's anywhere near the performance envelope of these vehicles is Bermuda. Last I checked, Bermuda hadn't petitioned for admission into the Axis of Evil.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275449)

Wallops Island did win the contract to be the launch site for manned space for the US. It also has been the launch site for unmanned for a while. They needed to test to see if the delta V rocket could get there. Seeing parts of a huge rocket on the bridge getting there was something. They build a new launch site on the island just for the purpose of launching bigger rockets. They are supposed to be doing a test of the big rocket sometime this spring. That maybe a were since the budget cuts.

Re:Wouldn't it be funny (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275497)

We could load them with infected USB memory sticks.

ObConspiracy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39272833)

Plainly they will spray chemtrails along with the markers for HAARP target on their way to Iran to start WW3 so that the Federal Reserve can, at the request of the Rothschilds, have a glowing sky to celebrate the birthday of oh... Elvis's alien baby.

Almost interesting (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272985)

None of the article say when it's going to happen. They only say, "could occur between March 14 and April 4". Eh.... Not quite specific enough to be useful.

Re:Almost interesting (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273389)

This is just one of those "we're planning to send some stuff up but we're going to pretend this is a ridiculously expensive publicity stunt 'in plain sight' operations."

It's kind of like how Saudi Arabia announces "We're taking our airspace monitoring stuff down for maintenance but don't fly through our airspace! That wouldn't be nice at all!" followed closely by some military operation which happens to unfairly take advantage of their lowered guard.

Of course, none of these things ever happen... it's all conspiracy theory.

Re:Almost interesting (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275065)

So how would you do tests?

Conspiracies happen*, but you kind of need proof of you allegations.

*see Tobacco companies.

Re:Almost interesting (1)

TrAvELAr (118445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273837)

There are lot of factors here, most of which resolve around the weather. The FAA has given consent for this to happen between midnight and 4am for those dates. Outside of those hours will be too disruptive to air traffic.

Re:Almost interesting (1)

pease1 (134187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274317)

Because they won't know until about a day before if the science conditions are right. This is the window they are working within, likely with FAA approval, scheduling of their other activities and use of the east coast tracking range system in relation to activities at the Cape. Factors down to the hour will include surface conditions and boats out in the water. Join the Wallops Twitter feed to get updates. I've never been able to see a terrier launch from the DC area. Just too far away.

Re:Almost interesting (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275509)

The boats are either not let out, or told to get away. Unless it is the US Navy all other boats are not an issue. You could also go to Ocean City MD to get a great view of this. It is only like 30-40 minutes north of the Wallops. You may miss the rocket taking off from the ground, but you should still be able to see it in the air.

...which could occur between March 14 and April 4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273083)

Guess there isn't enough orbital data to accurately predict when this will happen...

Research? Sure. (0)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273471)

I'm certain that there is some sort of scientific value to this.

Of course, demonstrating to the Chinese that we can rapidly launch a barrage of orbit-capable warheads, er, payloads isn't a bad thing either.

Re:Research? Sure. (4, Informative)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273751)

These are sounding rockets.

The Orion is a single stage sounding rocket which will achieve an altitude of 60 km with a 250 lb payload or 90 km with a 75 lb payload.
The Terrier-Malemute is a two-stage, solid fuel rocket consisting of a Terrier 1st stage and a Malemute 2nd stage. It is capable of lifting a 200 lb payload to an apogee of approximately 700 km or a 500 lb payload to approximately 400 km.
The The Terrier-Improved Orion consists of a Terrier 1st stage and an "improved" Orion second stage. This vehicle is capable of achieving an altitude of 75 km with an 800 lb payload and 225 km with a 200 lb payload.
(source: http://sites.wff.nasa.gov/mpl/srockets.html [nasa.gov] )

To be compared to the LGM-30G Minuteman-III which is a three-stage, solid fuel rocket capable of lifting an approximately 600 lbs warhead to over 1100 km. We have 450 of these more or less ready to launch.
(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGM-30G_Minuteman-III [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W87 [wikipedia.org] )

In short, the Chinese already know we have "the capability of rapidly launching a barrage of orbit-capable warheads", and either way, these rockets aren't demonstrating anything of the sort.

Re:Research? Sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39275195)

I'm sorry, but 700 km = 434 miles, is well within the height necessary for Low Earth Orbit (LEO), 400km = 234 mi. The normal delineation for LEO is anywhere from 100 - 620 miles (200-2000KM) to 200-500 mi (340-800 km). Well at least according to NASA [slashdot.org] , NASA again [nasa.gov] , Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] and ESA [esa.int] . So it seems this little rocket "barrage" is one way to test a new "inexpensive" launch vehicle. Perhaps with military implications. Minutemen are rather expensive , and three stages. A two stage rocket is bound to be cheaper.

 

Re:Research? Sure. (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275831)

What, exactly, are you sorry about?

Nobody claimed they couldn't get into LEO (although of the three only the Terrier-Malemute is really capable of it).

Neither of these rockets are new - both the Orion [astronautix.com] and the Malemute [astronautix.com] first flew in the 70's, so the military (and anyone else interested) has had plenty of time to consider them as launch vehicles.

Also, the "Terrier" in Terrier-Malemute and Terrier-Improved Orion is the old RIM-2 Terrier Surface-to-Air missile [wikipedia.org] from the 50's used as a first stage for the Malemute and Orion rockets, making them two-stage for improved altitude and payload.

Finally, while there certainly is a fuzzy border between top-performing sounding rockets [wikipedia.org] and small lift launch vehicles (generally defined as being able to lift 2,000 lbs to LEO), these three vehicles belong squarely in the sounding rocket category.

This is not a test of a new inexpensive launch vehicle, nor is it a way to demonstrate our military capabilities. It's just science.

Re:Research? Sure. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39279985)

There is a big difference between getting to the same altitude as LEO, and actually getting into orbit. The latter requires both the altitude, and horizontal velocity. For example, it takes about 7 MJ of energy to get a kilogram to an altitude of 700 km, but would require an additional 30 MJ to get that kilogram to orbital velocity.

Bad time for a briefing... (1)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273615)

Ha! They're competing with Apple's product release. Are they trying to be ignored?

NASA isn't dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273641)

Does anyone else find it odd that NASA, whom I thought was mostly out of funding, is going to launch 5 rockets to test the jet stream?

NASA - almost dead
jet stream - well "tested" since the 60's
5 rockets - 5 rockets?!!

So NASA is going to strap some measuring devices to 5 rockets and measure stuff in the air, ok. I seem to remember a couple of Canadian kids that recently launched an air balloon to the edge of the atmosphere. Couldn't NASA as easily use balloons? ...but, but.. I mean.... the jet stream???

Re:NASA isn't dead? (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273811)

Not at all. These rockets are little more than a scaled up version of those flown by hobbyists. The basic design is 50-some years old. They probably don't cost nearly as much as you think.

Re:NASA isn't dead? (5, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39273819)

Does anyone else find it odd that NASA, whom I thought was mostly out of funding, is going to launch 5 rockets to test the jet stream?

No. First, sounding rockets, even the ones used by NASA, are cheap. I'd be surprised if the rocket launches themselves are over a million dollars apiece even with NASA prices. And NASA has a vast amount of funding. Second, atmospheric studies are part of their portfolio. So no oddness here.

Second, from the article:

According to NASA, the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white tracer clouds that let scientists and the public to "see" the winds in space. In addition, two of the rockets will have instrumented payloads, to measure the pressure and temperature in the atmosphere at the height of the high-speed winds.

So they're introducing a chemical tracer. Rockets do so faster, more accurately than balloons, have a great mechanism (their exhaust) for doing so, and can cut through a cross-section of the jet stream while balloons would float with the jet stream.

Re:NASA isn't dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273895)

These rockets also go much, much higher than balloons do, which is important since they are studying winds at >60 miles altitude. For example, the Terrier-Mamelute is likely to have an apogee higher than the International Space Station (unless the payload is extremely heavy).

You'd be lucky to get a balloon higher than 20 miles.

Re:NASA isn't dead? (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#39274397)

It's difficult to find specific numbers for "launch costs," as they're different for each mission. Wallops has some numbers on their website indicating that a LEO insertion will require a vehicle that costs $5M-$10M. That doesn't include any of the facility costs, nor the collateral costs like clearing the downrange area of ships and payload recovery. A typical 100kg payload launch program on a mid-sized sounding rocket from Wallops will run you about $12M total.

Re:NASA isn't dead? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39284319)

Wallops has some numbers on their website indicating that a LEO insertion will require a vehicle that costs $5M-$10M.

LEO insertion is a much harder and more regulated problem than the suborbital launches these guys are doing. Even so, I have to change my mind and agree somewhat with you. NASA has a habit of overpaying a lot for such things.

Re:NASA isn't dead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274861)

the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white tracer clouds

OMG!! Chemtrails!!!!!!!11

1c0m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39273835)

corporations If you Do not it. Do not share has run faster turd-suckingly which allows of challenges that these rules will moronic, dilettante

Day of the Triffids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39274803)

That's it. I'm getting a Triffid gun. And whatever you do, don't look at the lights!

Do it like Iran (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39275323)

Just launch one and photoshop the others in.

ATREX (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39286083)

Alien Tourist Rocket Extravaganza

I'm on to you NASA.

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