Both the wheel covering as well as the thruster plugs have been removed before final packaging.
No, just No.
This rocket can be described in a few words: it is a desperate attempt from ATK to find a possible justification for their 5- segment booster.
That is all. There is no technical merit for this rocket.
I can guess the design process went like this:
"Hey, We need an upper stage for our 5 segment booster!"
"How about that Ariane 5 center ( ! ) stage?"
The press release is an exercise in PR. Flexible, Commercial, hell, the name is LIBERTY!
There are a few things that make this rocket BAD.
The Vulcain engine is not air startable. They will have to fix this; it is not clear how much this will cost
You don't want a Solid rocket engine for manned launches. They are not able to do a hold down test before launch. Once it is lit, you are going, whether it is working or not.
With this rocket, there is once again no Horizontal stacking.
It lifts less than just the ariane 5 as it is RIGHT NOW!
The Ariane center stage will have to be radically altered - right now it is build for bearing the load of boosters on its sides. Now it will be pushed up?
Really, this is ATK lobbying and marketing. It is just not efficient, safe or even a good idea.
If NASA adopts this it will be because of the ATK lobbying lawmakers, not because of technical merit. Because it just has less merit than anything else currently being discussed. They want a piece of the pie, and they will ask for a bigger piece of it while paying less for it then other ideas being discussed.
All in all, I hope this bombs hard.
My sincere apologies. I was in a bit of a rage at seeing this article when it was posted, since it is so wrong.
My last sentence was meant to be
And next to that, as said above, it is absolute BS to talk about the capsule containing a sample or not at this point.
The article, however, does mention failure, and you'll have to agree with me that it does not regard the mission as a succes.
I would also argue that the sentence
"but now it appears that the only thing it accomplished was one long and error-prone journey."
Is really, really negative after seeing the official mission objectives. So strong in fact that I would argue that it is being called a failure, while the mission is far from that.
The submitter of this article has no idea what he is talking about. It will take months to even be sure that there is something in there.
The only tests that have been done to date on the canister is a CT scan which can only detect samples as big as a grain of sand, way bigger then was expected.
The gas in the capsule might have come from evaporated organics / ice of some form. How was this gas detected? The top of the capsule behaved slightly diffirent ( on a sub-millimetre scale ) in various pressure surroundings ( Nitrogen and CO2 under various pressures )
The container has not been opened yet. All this talk is bullocks. The japanese estimate right now is that it will take some MONTHS to come till they know if they have something. The tiniest of particles is enough for this.
Furthermore, the source, a NYT article, does not reflect at all the actual goal of the mission - for this, I refer to wikipedia.
Succes for Hayabusa is considered 100 points. I'll repeat that: Primary mission objective succes is defined as 100 points. You do the math.
Operation of Ion Engines
50 points Success
Operation of Ion Engines for more than 1000 hours
100 points Success
Earth Gravity Assist with Ion Engines
150 points Success
Rendezvous with Itokawa with Autonomous Navigation
200 points Success
Scientific Observation of Itokawa
250 points Success
Touch-down and Sample Collection
275 points Success
400 points Success
Sample obtained for Analysis
500 points Uncertain
This mission IS A BIG SUCCES. There is no other way to talk about it. In the NYT article it is stated this mission was a failure as soon as there is no dust.
And next to that, as said above, it is absolute BS to talk about succes or not at this point.
that way you dont even have to worry about them getting all sterile from radiation. And the cancer doesnt matter either; they'll die sooner anyway.
Of course, this means you dont worry about getting them down again, but still, this is quite serious if you find a solution for that.
For such a thing we will have to wait till congress looks at budget proposals, and some real life testing. constellation is still doing some tests, but everyone knows that the Ares 1 will never launch a single human to orbit. Officially - and even this document changes nothing about that - it is still going on.
And please, dont attach too much meaning to rumors of a new "space race". The chinese have a launch rate of one mission every 2 years. They are currrently way below 1965 level of experience from the USA. Instead, look at the slow but significant progress:
ESA getting Soyuz acces: http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Launchers_Home/SEMXN619Y8G_0.html
Russia upgrading its production facilities to build a 5th soyuz ( notably the upgrading of its thermal room so that 2 soyuz heatshields at the same time can be fitted to the spacecrafts: http://www.federalspace.ru/main.php?id=2&nid=9719&lang=en
While its nothing flashy and I think there should be more money into spaceflight, spaceX and orbital and the likes are really going for it. Talk in the article about "losing the space race" is overly simplistic, certainly with an ISS that'll be around till atleast 2020, and very possibly 2030. It is international, dont forget that.
also, a rumor; ATK ( they manufacture the shuttle srbms) have finally caved in it seems, and are willing to build the old 4 segment boosters instead of continueing to lobby for a 5 segment version. Great news; they finally might get something moving now...
Link to Original Source
a deuterium fusion bomb propulsion system is proposed where a thermonuclear detonation wave is ignited in a small cylindrical assembly of deuterium with a gigavolt-multimegampere proton beam,
that has to be right up there with back to the future. I mean, it has a frickin' gigavolt-multimegampere proton beam