Thursday, October 29, 2009

RIP Crew Module Simulator

After a day of trials by weather and an eventual scrub, the Ares I-X booster launched Wednesday morning into a hazy Florida sky. After a 2 minute, twelve second burn of its sole solid rocket booster, the vehicle performed a planned stage separation, with the booster itself parachuting down to the recovery area in the Atlantic Ocean. The Upper Stage Simulator continued its parabolic track and crashed in to the ocean, taking with it the Orion Crew Module Simulator. Even though it was only a mockup, and not even what you could call a boilerplate, it is sad that it won't wind up on display anywhere.

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana described it as "the most beautiful thing he ever saw". I agree, but adding the thrill was less like watching humans travel to space aboard a Shuttle, and more like a large model rocket. Like a model rocket, the X-1 used a reusable booster launched with solid fuel, and deploying a recovery system. There was no recovery system for the USS and the CMS, so as planned they were expendable. So good-bye CMS! We hardly knew you! And we end with a cardinal rule of model rockets: If you don't want to lose it, don't launch it!

video
My apologies for the shaky cam!

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