17 thoughts on “Vega”

    1. Murphy’s Law says that is something can wrong, it will go wrong. To engineers, that means you should design something so that it can’t be done incorrectly. You can only insert a USB cable into the slot in one way (which 9 times out of 10 will be the opposite of the way you tried to insert it), so that is a well designed connector. One of the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft crashed on its first flight because the connectors to the pilot’s controls were reversed. Those were poorly designed connectors. If what you’re reporting is true, the connectors on the Vega were also poorly designed.

    1. “Installed” in that the barely-trained gorilla at Roscosmos hammered the sensor in upside-down.
      Actually, wasn’t there another incident where someone drove a forklift into a booster and then tried to cover it up? Then there was the hole drilled into the Soyuz and then patched with epoxy…

    1. That’s a design flaw. The connections should only go one way, and it shouldn’t be possible to plug a connector into the wrong place.

  1. I wouldn’t think it would be asking much for a basic pre-flight controls check, the equivalent of “stick back – elevator moves up, left-rudder, rudder moves left.” Travel limit checks, etc.

    But if they’re not going to do that, they could add a software patch where the rocket detects it in flight, based on the responses to the control input, setting a flight control parameter like:

    Nicolas_swapped_the_cables_again = TRUE

    And then using that to remap some of the outputs or inputs.

  2. The again, different plugs on the end of the two cables assumes some genius doesn’t swap the plugs in manufacture.
    There’s no substitute for realistic testing pre flight.

    However we’re talking Euroweenies (the US isn’t immune, neither is Australia where jerbs is all important) where spreading the money, jobs and work around is far more important than results. Think of the work involved in replacing the lost satellites!

    1. Well, Vega is a bit more like a hobby rocket than the future of space launch. Four stages, with three solids, just to launch a payload about as heavy as a Mercury capsule? A Falcon 9 re-usable can put up eight times the payload for only 35% more cost.

      1. Sometimes, all you need is a pickup truck to do a specific job. Not every task is best handled by a big semi. On a ton-mile basis, the semi is more efficient but if all you need to carry is several hundred pounds, the semi is overkill.

        1. Good point. There’s also rideshare on a F9 launch, which would be the LTL version of your semi analogy. For pickups, the Electron comes to mind, though I’m not very knowledgable on these things.

          I’m sure F1 would have stuck around if F9 hadn’t been more profitable and marketable (and on the critical path to FH and StarShip).

          I’m sure there are more options coming online in the smallsat category as well, but reusability is still better than driving the truck into the nearest lake after every shipment.

  3. NASA must be getting very nervous about Arianespace’s performance, given that they are going to launch the single most expensive spacecraft ever built (James Webb Space Telescope) on an Ariane 5 – as a freebee. The launch, which has been approaching at breakneck speed (with NASA’s schedule slipping at breakneck speed + epsilon > 0) for a decade, now has a latest new launch date of 31 October 2021 – practically tomorrow, in the NASA spacetime continuum. Given the length of time NASA took to get comfortable with Crew Dragon, I’m not sure there won’t be another schedule slip.

    As a matter of fact, I’m sure there will be a schedule slip, regardless. This is, after all, the James Webb Space Telescope!

  4. If the JWST winds up at the bottom of the ocean, there is an entire generation of astronomers who will make sure that Arianespace is never used for any science mission ever again.

    Thinking of all the missions that got cancelled to pay for JWST makes me want to cry. (And I have friends working on JWST, and it’s going to be amazing, and I *still* wish we had twenty $500M missions instead.)

  5. “You can only insert a USB cable into the slot in one way (which 9 times out of 10 will be the opposite of the way you tried to insert it), so that is a well designed connector.”

    Who was it said here that if you can’t insert a USB plug the wrong way you clearly aren’t using enough force?

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