3-2-1 LIFTOFF: Launch that Rocket!
#outerspace, #rocketlaunch, #easy
Model, Imagery, Platform
KSC 2015 SPACE APPS GOOGLE HANGOUT
Just annouced: Google Hangout for the Survivor: 3-2-1 LIFTOFF: Launch that Rocket! with NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) subject matter experts (SMEs). Click here for details.
We’re NASA. We launch rockets. We are, after all, rocket scientists. What you don’t see when you attend a launch, or watch one online, is all the planning, testing, and integration that goes on behind the scenes. We work for years developing the science missions, procuring the rocket (or building our own), and scheduling missions on the launch ranges. The launch window (the time we have to get it right) will vary depending on where we’re going off the planet. For example, the launch window to Mars is often for less than a month every 26 months, due to the orbits of the Earth and Mars relative to one another. We worry about weather conditions, and map out human free zones (so that if something goes wrong, rocket parts won’t fall on you in your sailboat). We fuel the rockets and secure the science payloads on the launch pad. Fluid dynamics, mass properties, center of gravity of the vehicle during tanking are all considerations we take into account on launch day.
Some days, we launch rockets exactly as planned. Other days, we scrub and start over. After all, it’s rocket science.
Develop an experience that captures all the variables involved with making the launch decision -- green light for launch. Create a way to analyse the data from the rockets, weather, range safety, and more. Enable the user to decide when to tank, when to clear the range and airspace, and how to detect weather disturbances that could affect launch. Choose a platform to convey the experience: game, video, roadmap site, comic, or whatever you can think of!
The platform is up to you. The experience can be absorptive, interactive, and/or collaborative. You can choose the platform that best suits your project and is within your team’s abilities/time.
Here are a few of the many options you can choose from. Pick one, several, or all to portray in your experience.
- NASA launch vehicles/spacecraft of past, current, or future (robotics and human missions)
- A complete launch experience would include prelaunch phases. Some of work in those phases are detailed below.
- Mission design: early trajectory work during development of the spacecraft, determining where the current/expected rocket fleet could drop off the spacecraft (either in its science orbit or an orbit from which it could get itself to its science orbit)
- Vehicle selection: which rocket in the current fleet is the best value for each particular mission, taking into account cost and experience of the provider, along with a multitude of other factors
- Mission integration
- Problems often come up during this time with the hardware and analyses of both the spacecraft and the launch vehicle, as teams work to meet the requirements of the particular mission. Decisions have to be made how to mitigate the problem and sometimes whether to delay the launch months (or even years) to fix the problem
- Communication, key throughout all phases, is occurring among the greatest number of launch stakeholders during this time
- Readiness reviews with all stakeholder organizations; these take place in the months and days prior to launch
- Vehicle testing prior to launch day
- Launch Day!
- Post Launch review
- Engineer organization: NASA, launch vehicle contractor, Range, spacecraft customer monitoring the spacecraft prior to the launch, spacecraft customer attempting to make contact with the spacecraft after separation from the rocket
- Engineer role: each organization has a large number of roles within them. A couple of examples are the launch director, avionics engineer, structures analyst, chief engineer, public affairs officer, and Mission Flight Control Officer (MFCO).
- Different violations occur within the experience
- Different launch sites: Cape Canaveral, Florida; Vandenberg, California; Wallops, Virginia; Kwajalein Atoll (Pacific); Kodiak, Alaska
- Experience can track probable launch sequences or even follow the actual launch day experience(s)
- Risk levels for NASA robotic science missions are assigned different values, depending on priority of the science and cost. Robotic missions can accept higher risks than human missions.
- Social aspect of informing and interacting with the public about the launch
- Example goals (if a game)
- For a given budget, launch 5 different missions given to the player in 2 years
- Rockets bid different costs for each mission; select the best value for each spacecraft
- Penalties for launching significantly late, going over budget, and/or taking unacceptable risks with public safety (and rewards for the opposite)
- Large penalties for a mission failure, with delays to following missions on the same vehicle
- Rewards/penalties correspond to the risk level of the mission
- The resources below focus on NASA launches; however, real non-NASA missions/vehicles could be included
- Remember: on a given day, if the conditions are outside what has been previously determined to be acceptable, NO LAUNCH IS BETTER THAN A BAD LAUNCH!
Sample Resources(Participants do not have to use these resources, and NASA in no way endorses any particular entity listed).
- NASA Case Studies (catalog includes quite a few case studies involving launch decision making)
- NASA Launch Services Program website
- Booklet on LSP
- Launch history of NASA LSP
- LSP Launch Vehicles (includes Countdown 101s)
NASA Launch Blogs (search for missions)
- Collision Avoidance (COLA) cutouts and gaps
- weather balloons
- LSP launch roles
- Shuttle launch roles
- Range launch roles
- Weather Forecasters Balance Experience with Technology
- Assessing Upper-Level Winds on Day-of-Launch
- Launching 101: First Weather Balloons, Then Rockets
- Range Flight Safety Program: NPR 8715.5A
- Launching Saturn V
- NASA History: Apollo Program (flight journals contain transcripts of countdown on day of launch)
- Apollo Saturn V launch hold / recycle and scrub turnaround constraints Transcripts of launch day
- Launching Shuttle
- Space Shuttle Launch Countdown
- Space Shuttle Weather Launch Commit Criteria and KSC End of Mission Weather Landing Criteria
- Space Shuttle Countdown 101
- Ares I-X Launch Blog
- Videos of launch engineers discussing their job
- Description of redlines
- Webcasts of launch
- Available launch games
- Rocket Science 101
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