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Hiccup In Space: Orbital Sciences ISS Docking Delayed By Days

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the no-one-can-hear-a-hiccup-there-totally-proven dept.

Space 51

Reuters has a quick report that "[a] software glitch will delay Orbital Sciences' trial cargo ship from reaching the International Space Station until Tuesday, officials said on Sunday. The company's Cygnus capsule, which blasted off Wednesday from Virginia for a test flight, had been scheduled to reach the station on Sunday. ... Orbital Sciences said it had found the cause of the data discrepancy and was developing a software fix. ... The next opportunity for the capsule to rendezvous and dock with the station will be on Tuesday." The WSJ has a more detailed article, and notes "The mission is a challenge for Orbital, which has invested more than five years and about $500 million of its own funds to develop a commercial-cargo capability. But it also presents a dramatic test of NASA's plans to outsource to industry all U.S. resupply missions to the space station. The agency has paid Orbital about $285 million to spur development of the Cygnus and Antares rocket system."

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51 comments

Hiccup? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918189)

Hiccups are one thing. Just wait until Ivan farts.

It's Rocket Science, folks. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#44918207)

Not much else to add except that the linked WSJ article seemed rather... well... brief (available to subscribers only)

Rocket Surgery (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#44918581)

Not much else to add except that the linked WSJ article seemed rather... well... brief

Not many of the people who pay to subscribe to the WSJ could follow more than a brief overview article.

Re:It's Rocket Science, folks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44923341)

Why is slashdot linking a paywalled Greedster site for news you could get at NASA? [nasa.gov] What nerd subscribes to the 1%er Journal?? If I'd seen it in the firehose it would have gotten a -1 from me just for linking the WSJ. I'm a nerd, not a stockbroker.

Wow (1, Redundant)

fermion (181285) | about 7 months ago | (#44918267)

Company makes a significant error and jeopardizes it's own investment, not to mention hundred of millions of taxpayer funds. Not that NASA does not make mistakes, but some companies will not survive the initial shake out because they make too many mistakes.

As others have said, this is rocket science, and rocket science has the reputation it does for a reason.

Re:Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918335)

it's means IT IS. Now try it out in your sentence. Does it work? No? Then you want ITS.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44921013)

Or put another way, you don't say "her's", or "hi's", so you wouldn't say "it's" either.

Re:Wow (1, Flamebait)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 7 months ago | (#44918377)

jeopardizes ... hundred of millions of taxpayer funds.

Bring the main hyperbole cannon on line! Maybe you could dial back the rhetoric to 11.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44919263)

$285 million sounds like hundreds of millions to me.

Re:Wow (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 7 months ago | (#44921289)

jeopardizes ... hundred of millions of taxpayer funds.

Bring the main hyperbole cannon on line! Maybe you could dial back the rhetoric to 11.

$285 million sounds like hundreds of millions to me.

Sounds like small cheese compared to what was thrown down the rat-hole with Solyndra, et al. And when IS Obama-backing GE going to pay taxes? Ever again?

Strat

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918549)

Yeah, next time i make a software glitch, i will say "it's rocket science" :D

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about 7 months ago | (#44918719)

As others have said, this is rocket science, and rocket science has the reputation it does for a reason.

Building something that gets into orbit successfully, much less performing a rendezvous with another object already in orbit, is something that has such a thin margin of error that almost anything can prevent success and a whole lot of things can cause a failure.

I see this more as a glass is half-full kind of thing where it is just freaking amazing that Orbital has been able to get this far and even get near the ISS, much less be in a position to actually dock. Not only that, but this is the very first time that this launch vehicle + spacecraft has done something like this. And you expect it to be perfect on the very first try?

The cargo itself isn't all that valuable BTW, so "hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds" are not on the line. Orbital is only going to be paid for cargo delivered, although NASA did send them some money earlier for meeting previous manufacturing objectives. It should also be pointed out that Orbital wasn't even the original contractor [wikipedia.org] who was supposed to be taking cargo into space, but rather Kistler Aerospace [wikipedia.org] . NASA justifiably dumped that service contract and awarded it instead to Orbital after some pretty stiff competition from some other very worthy alternatives.

If anything, it sure is a heck of a lot cheaper in terms of the few hundred million dumped into the COTS program than the tens of billions that have been wasted on Constellation and SLS, where there has yet to be anything even close to flying. Those were both programs that were supposed to be operational before the Space Shuttle flights ended, but instead won't even be considered for an initial flight before 2017, and likely will be delayed well past 2020. Without this program, the $100+ billion dumped on the ISS would be wasted because the ISS would have to be splashed by now. That 1000x difference in orders of magnitude for these programs really makes the amount spent by NASA on Orbital to be real chump change and insignificant, especially with the results that have already been earned by Orbital.

Re:Wow (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 7 months ago | (#44918843)

I should add that the items in the Cygnus spacecraft [orbital.com] is mainly a bunch of food, what amounts to be toilet paper for the sanitary facilities in the ISS, personal items for the astronauts on this and future missions, and a new computer printer to replace one that broke down on board the station as well as some minor spare parts needed for station maintenance.

You would be hard pressed to find this whole load of cargo to be worth more than a hundred thousand dollars, although its value is important for the people on the ISS and the fact that it is so expensive to haul anything up to that altitude. Hopefully a competitive cargo delivery service can improve that cost as an issue.

Re:Wow (4, Informative)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 7 months ago | (#44919087)

Well, this is a test run. As such nothing critical is on board. The first Dragon payload was the same thing – low priority stuff that would not be missed in case of failure.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44922699)

Kudos to the point, 'Teancum' also remember all, it seems like 775+ mills is a lot, but it's not even a billion, how many fruitless projects has man endeavored that cost over a billion? Seem to be a few every year in this country (not even counting war of any kind...) .

Oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918301)

The Tang and Raspberry Quick powder shipment is delayed! What a blow for SCIENCE!

"The glitch is fixed!" (4, Funny)

tlambert (566799) | about 7 months ago | (#44918371)

"We have the glitch fixed!"

"Outstanding! Resume ramming speed!"

Re:"The glitch is fixed!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44920527)

I thought NASA already outsourced supply missions to the ISS...to Russia.

Re:"The glitch is fixed!" (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 7 months ago | (#44923911)

You realise that the "I" in ISS stands for "international" so Russia doing some of the work doesn't really mean that NASA is outsourcing.

Shit, I always mess up some mundane detail (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 7 months ago | (#44918439)

It's not a software bug, it's a "data discrepancy" that software will "fix".

Re:Shit, I always mess up some mundane detail (0)

karuna (187401) | about 7 months ago | (#44918539)

What kind of data discrepancy? Meters confused with feet again? Time to switch to the metric system is long overdue.

Re:Shit, I always mess up some mundane detail (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#44919557)

The purchased the interface for the docking datalink. Apparently the values being returned did not match the expected format. Boils down to testing, essentially.

Re:Shit, I always mess up some mundane detail (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#44919723)

Testing, smeshting, light the damned thing up. What is this, science or somethin'?

Re:Shit, I always mess up some mundane detail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44922005)

No, they mixed up British and Norwegian inches. The Norwegian inch is based on the Danish inch which is about 3% longer than a British inch.

Extended downtime on the forums... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 7 months ago | (#44918505)

No doubt this is a result of the extended downtime on the forums. They need to download the latest MechJeb and they can't until the forums are back online...

Re:Extended downtime on the forums... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44922713)

KUDOS to the Kerbal reference!! If only it were that open source, and forgiving.

Cargo my ass... (0, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 months ago | (#44918527)

"Orbital Sciences Corporation is an American company which specializes in the manufacturing and launch of satellites. Its Launch Systems Group is heavily involved with missile defense launch systems"

Re:Cargo my ass... (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 7 months ago | (#44918613)

So a company who is launching satellites for the military is also delivering cargo to the International Space Station. Did I miss something?

Or do you really think that the ISS is a part of some global conspiracy to conquer the Earth?

Re:Cargo my ass... (1)

stoploss (2842505) | about 7 months ago | (#44918689)

So a company who is launching satellites for the military is also delivering cargo to the International Space Station. Did I miss something?

Or do you really think that the ISS is a part of some global conspiracy to conquer the Earth?

I think what djupedal is saying is, why conquer the Earth when you can hold the nations hostage and demand ONE... MILLION... DOLLARS?

Re:Cargo my ass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918897)

Well if you shift I forward by 5, S by 4, and 2nd S backward by 4 you get NWO. Unless you aren't a complete nutjob, you have to admit that's indisputable evidence of ISS's real goal.

Re:Cargo my ass... (1)

fuzzywig (208937) | about 7 months ago | (#44922479)

Pretty much every space launch company in the US does work for the DoD/NRO if they can. Military contracts are where the big money is.

Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

Oil_Tan (854423) | about 7 months ago | (#44918601)

The USA will end up owning the solar system. 100 years from now. One small hiccup is nothing. Future generations of Americans, not future generations of Portuguese or Chinese, Indian, Russian etc, etc, speaking peoples owning the nearby space. To quote Robert Heinlein..."It's raining soup in space, and we don't even know about soup bowls."

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918787)

It will be nice to know that future generations of people in space will be speaking Mexican dialects of Spanish.... er "American".

(and then ducks for cover)

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44920371)

No one's going to "own" the solar system. Our cheap energy is running out and the value of putting people into tin cans in low Earth orbit will be highly questionable. Your fantasies will be totally impractical by then.

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

Oil_Tan (854423) | about 7 months ago | (#44921043)

A lot of people have missed the significance of private industry entering space missions. For now. Columbus wanted a short cut for spice trades. Yet those Spanish speaking folks you refer to, after bank rolling Columbus, decided to make a little history themselves. And brought home plenty. Of Gold. They made a lot of history,,,,but got tired and were relegated to obscurity. Gone are the days of showmanship, competing for fanfare, first to orbit, first to the moon. Time to make more history. No, low earth orbit won't get us anywhere. We are immensely more sophisticated then the Spaniards. We will need to be, to take advantage.

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#44921671)

Our cheap energy is running out and the value of putting people into tin cans in low Earth orbit will be highly questionable. Your fantasies will be totally impractical by then.

The Sun outputs roughly 4*10^26 watts of power, all of it free for the taking. And the Earth intercepts a part of that.

Also, we'll just have to find other sources of cheap energy.

As to who owns what in the Solar System, I'll just wait and see what happens. The US doesn't have a lock on space development nor is it doing much for the vast sums it spends on space development.

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44921789)

"The Sun outputs roughly 4*10^26 watts of power, all of it free for the taking."

Your definition of "free" seems to include massive technologies that simply don't exist, and if they did would require the resources of several Earths to use.... Very interesting use of the word "free".

Here's how I would use the word: your posts are fact-free. How you like that you uncritical Space Nutter?

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#44921873)

Your definition of "free" seems to include massive technologies that simply don't exist

Like a tree.

Here's how I would use the word: your posts are fact-free.

I note two facts in my so-called "fact-free" post, the power output of the Sun and that no one is charging you to use energy from the Sun. Two things is not zero things.

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44923247)

Trees? You mean the things that grow on this planet only and that you have to pay someone to use? And yes, your post is fact-free. The Sun shines. OK fine. Now please describe this technology you plan on using to go get it?

I mean, oil is free too right? It's just there in the ground, right? Well? Where's your "free" now you pathetic idiot?

Re:Open the pod bay doors HAL! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#44929413)

You mean the things that grow on this planet only

And which need only a degree of gravity, sunlight, and the right mix of nutrients. Those can all exist elsewhere just as they do on Earth.

New or old data link format? (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 7 months ago | (#44918841)

There's a data link between the ISS and docking vehicles. A new version of that was developed recently. [businesswire.com] Here's the presentation on that. [nasaspaceflight.com] But it doesn't seem to be operational yet. NASA has been talking about the new C2V2 system for years, and commercial spacecraft were supposed to be designed to use it. But it's not ready yet.

So Space-X and Orbital Sciences had to also develop a temporary capability to use the old automated docking system, which, I think, is derived from the Soviet-era Kursk system.

Re: New or old data link format? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44918893)

If I only had mod points, or an account.

Re: New or old data link format? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44919761)

If I only had mod points, or an account.

...or something interesting to say.

Re:New or old data link format? (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44920069)

iirc OS capsule just goes close enough and then they dock it with the robot arm.

Hahahaha (5, Interesting)

porcinist (1847634) | about 7 months ago | (#44919651)

I worked on this program a few years ago. This doesn't shock me at all. It was a clusterfuck from beginning to end. OSC managers had no clue how to do software development on this kind of program. OSC is mostly a testament to value of lobbying over competence. This is also in line with how things have gone with: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbiting_Carbon_Observatory [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_(satellite) [wikipedia.org] Here is the really good one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DART_(satellite) [wikipedia.org] Orbital science crashed two satellites trying something almost identical in 2005!

NASA was not a success from the jump. (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 7 months ago | (#44921057)

It took them time to get it all in one bag and shit still goes wrong the nature of infant space voyages.
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