Saturday, November 26, 2005

Countdown on Hold

Due to the supply pump for Helium being slower than expected, the launch countdown has been put on hold.

The destination tank for the Helium is at 4900 PSI and the source is at 1400PSI. As a result, you need a very strong pump to keep pushing the helium into the rocket tanks. The pump is slower than expected but it is working.

Current expected launch time: 10am Kwaj time, 2pm CA time.

Quick rocket fuel primer for dummies:
LOX, liquid oxygen is stored in the tanks with Rocket Propellant 1 (RP1). In Stage 1 (the big bottom section of the rocket), the ratio is 2.2:1, LOX:RP1. In the 2nd stage, the upper section of the rocket, the ratio is 2.35:1. The LOX and RP1 are combined at the base of the rocket and accelerated by the turbo pump. That makes the rocket go.

The Helium is used to ensure a constant pressure in the fuel tanks, and is used to activate the valves in the rocket. In the 2nd stage, there is no turbo pump and the helium is essential to pressurizing the fuel tanks.

LOX, Helium and RP-1 being filled

The steam you see being released from the rocket is the boil-off from the LOX.

By the way, the rocket goes very fast. The 1st stage accelerates the rocket to 6,850 miles per hour. That is very fast. It gets to this speed in 160 seconds.

But truthfully, if you know rockets, that is not really that fast. So after it jettisons the first stage, it accelerates to 17,000 miles per hour. Now that... is very fast.

Countdown has restarted. T-minus 40 minutes and counting.


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