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LCROSS Anniversary - Live Show 3.33

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In 1969 a group of astronauts changed the world... ..they walked on the moon. Armstrong: That's one small step for [a] man... ...one giant leap for mankind. In 1972, our journey ended. We've never been back. 2010 begins a year of change. Private companies are working on next generation spaceships. Governments are looking to go back to the Moon, and on to Mars. It's time to look up and dream again. It's time to push humans into the cosmos. It's time to educate and engage the planet. It's time for spacevidcast. Ben: This is spacevidcast 3.33 for Friday, October 8th 2010. My name is Benjamin Higginbothom, with me as always is the beautiful, lovely, wonderful, and talented Cariann Higginbothem. We'll be your hosts for this evening. And what an evening we have got! Let me think, we missed last week's show, and during that time uh, basically we found a planet that's an Earth-like planet...we think. Cariann: You know we should miss more shows. Ben: Uh, yeah, I mean just, you know, major scientific discoveries! Uh, and for this week, actually, it's the anniversary of LCROSS. It feels like it just happened last month. Those who don't remember, that was the mission where we... BOMBED THE MOON! Ok, well whatever, that's at least how the media had it coming out. And we are joined on both coasts by some of the LCROSS team We are joined both on the West coast by.... Cariann: OH! I actually just closed that! <laughter> Ben: Really? I was like, be prepared for this... ...get ready to go! Cariann: I'm so sorry! Ben: We're joined on the East coast by Emory Stagmer. Hopefully I still pronounce that correctly. And on the West Coast by..... <laughter> Cariann: We've got Jim Munger, Craig Elder, and Jose Cabinallas. Ben: And Vax, just to help us out, we've pasted it in my iPad. Hey guys! Welcome to Spacevidcast. Thank you for joining us. All: Thank you, glad to be here Ben: So, ah, let's start off, for those who don't remember... What was LRO; and what was LCROSS? What was that mission a year ago? Let's start with the hardware guys on the west coast. Craig: Alright, I'm Craig Elder, I was the electrical lead during the design and development process Uh, the LRO spacecraft, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was the Moon version of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Intended to map out lunar resources and many different spectra... ...uh, laser altimeters, surface penetrating radar, optical camera, all sorts of good stuff. Trouble was, it was a little too big for its initial rocket. When it switched to the next biggest rocket, the Atlas 5... ...uh, there was an extra 1000kg of throw weight headed towards the moon. Hence was born LCROSS! Back in January/February of 2006. Uh, should I keep going Benjamin? Ben: Oh yeah! No, keep going! I mean, we're just, we're all about, you know, all about you guys! Craig: All right! Well uh, not to bore your audience... but the proposal was pretty entertaining. There were 19 different, uh, teams. Government industry teams competing for this one slot... ...how to use the 1000kg added to the moon. Uh, there were little rovers... ...there were some guys in Texas, I think, had a drill that would try to drill down though to try to find water. Along comes the NASA Ames/Northrop Grumman team and we decided to cheat. We said, uh, gee, in addition to the 1000kg that we want There's this 2000kg Centaur upper stage rocket. That's just going to be spacejunk if we don't do something with it. How about we use that as a kinetic impacter? Turned out to me a....ooooooo... Jose has the paper version. Ben: Props, we have Props! Jim: Yeah, this model is acctually more important than you realize. Craig: Yeah, we'll get into the importance of that in a little bit. Jose: This part right here is the stage. And this part right here is the LCROSS. That's the business end of it. Craig: Part of the magic of LCROSS beating out the other 18 candidates was that we found out a way not only to cheat on the mass that we were carrying but we also figured out that we could turn piece of the centaur's auxiliary structure, the secondary payload adapter ring... We figured out that we could turn that into a free flying camera platform. Not only to guide the spacecraft into the Cabeus Crater, but also then, to observe, uh, the impact. And then create a second crater up there. Ben: You guys were pretty much looking for water, correct? Jose: Yes Craig: Very much so. Actually, Ice, because at 395 degrees Fahrenheit below zero it's not really water at that point <laughter> Cariann: Fair enough. Jose: We were going to a place, where... ...there places on the north and south pole on the moon that never get sunlight. ...in the craters And that's there they has these, uh, these radar signatures that looked kinda like ice. And that's where they wanted to go and drop something in there... ...and see what they could bring up. Ben: And talk to me about impact day. Because you guys, you go there and then there was a stage sep... ...uh, you send down, um, you send down the impacter first right? Because you are blowing a crater in the moon and then you are getting all the ejections going, and then you're sending LCROSS down after it to get the readings, right? Craig: Right Ben: So how did that all go? Jose: Um, actually it went, actually as planed. Um, the um, the stage itself separated... ...the stage itself separated, um, just perfectly. And uh, after it happened, they turned the cameras on, on the spacecraft and swung the spacecraft around. And all of a sudden on the TV screens that are being beamed down from orbit you are seeing this little image of the rocket stage drifting away. And if you looked real closely at it you could see the shadows of various things that had been troubling us... ...like the batteries that had sprayed on us <laughter> and all sorts of other stuff like that. which was really, uh, just fascinating and absolutely wonderful; because that was the one thing that we couldn't rehearse, and the one thing we couldn't plan for. And it was the one thing that had to work, or else we were going to have to go to the backup plan real quick. ...which didn't involve us doing much of anything past that point Ben: wait, wait, wait, what was the backup you had a backup plan? How do you have a backup plat to, you know, to impacting the moon? The backup plan is: don't hit the moon? what? <laughter> Jose: No actually the backup plan is the spacecraft just carries the stage and crashes along with it. And you have to kind of look at it from other things. You can't get the real good closeup pictures that we got. Jim: Our success criteria was crashing into the moon... Jose: Yeah Jim: ...and discovering water not necessarily taking the pictures our self. Ben: So, you set your bar really low, right? What are we going to do? We're crash into the Moon, that's pretty easy! we don't need...<laughter> Jim & Jose: Oh no, no, no! Jim: That was the minimum set! Jose: It's better than that because the way that they structured the mission the whole idea was that it was supposed to be cheap enough that it could fail. And we had to, as we got further into it we were kinda saying... ...You know, that really is not a good guiding criteria for how you're going to build and fly the spacecraft. We started taking it lot more serious as time went on. Jim: We were class "D" when we started out and we weren't class "D" any more by the time we started getting close to the moon. Jose: Yeah. Ben: I'm going to pop over to, um, the east coast for a second and talk to Emory. Because Emory, you've talked to use about this before; about the different classifications of missions and what they mean. And how LCROSS was classified. Can you uh, uh, kinda recap what all that means and why it was important? Emory: Yeah, the, um, class "D" essentially means that there's a significant possibility that you will not be able meed your mission criteria. But, because it's, uh, risky and, uh, worthwhile doing uh, you might want to go ahead and take the risk and do it anyhow. So, this was about as low cost of mission that you could do and actually fly a satellite. So, uh, NASA said, uh, we're gonna take that risk; we're gonna go ahead and try and do it. Ben: Awesome! And, uh, it was... Cariann: ...with very low expectations.. Ben: Well, which I do still still think it's funny Because, I realize it's very hard this is rocket science, but you know like, eh, crash that thing into the moon! ahh, that's not gonna work! Cariann: No, but do it anyway! Go ahead an try! Jim: ...given 24 months and uh... Jose: It gets better than that because as time went on when we first started this mission there were a number of folks that we talked to in NASA who said it wont work. And as time went on, um, there was, uh a piece of the project that we had which was dedicated to having a set of just aluminum boxes full of sand available to bolt on in place of the electronics if we couldn't make the schedule. And so we went all the way down to the point where were just were about ready to go into the enviromental test chambers before they finally canceled that. Because there was, uh, concerns on the part of everybody. And we weren't immune to it. We had, we had a certain amount of fear ourselves, as time went on, that this was very aggressive scheduling and this was a very aggressive program. And um, the opportunity was there for us to fail at many points along the way. Cariann: It's like a double-dog dare. Jose: Yeah. Ben: You know, lets go back a little way, because this was not a flawless mission. It's not like you launched, and you just made it there, and everything went as planned. There were a few hurdles along the way. Can you describe a few of those? Jim: Sure! OK, here's our, here's our spacecraft. And, uh, our first problem... ....hold it up to the camera here.... Jose: higher, higher, higher... Craig: higher... Ben: This is, by the way, for everyone watching, this is highly technical CGI...you're viewing right now. Jim: It is! Ben: Very expensive animation... Jim: Actually, use this model, ok? So, we have problems with the thrusters Cariann: m-hm Jim: OK, and they were running cold... the thermostats weren't turning on and weren't keeping them warm. So we figured, ok, how do we get these warm? So I picked up the model, literally. I started looking at it, and I go, you know.. if i tilt it toward the sun, I can get sun on the thrusters back there, and we can keep the thrusters warm! And,uh, that's where we started. And once we figured that out we got the mass properties guys, we got all the designers in there, and had them do CAD pictures and started the real technical ball rolling. OK. And um, slowly but surely, we had to slowly work in violation of a bunch of limitations and constraints until we understood the thermal... But we started with the... cardboard model, and figuring out that we could roll it into the sun. So, that was the first hurdle.

Video Details

Duration: 43 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 76
Posted by: spacevidcast on Oct 10, 2010

For our 1 year anniversaryasode of LCROSS we are joined by Jim Munger, Craig Elder, Jose Cabinallas and Emory Stagmer. Great behind-the-scenes stories of this little mission that could as well as some details as to how it all worked out. The rest of this live show is available via Spacevidcast epic.

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