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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Measure Twice, Cut Once

For John, BLUFAt least with WAZE you know where you are when you begin, thanks to previous successful launches.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Does anyone remember this?

NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched, space agency officials said Thursday.
This is from The LA Times, back on 1 October 1999, by reporter Robert Lee Hotz.

It has taken 18 years, but I think the Russians have topped it.

This is from The Guardian, via Reuters, 27 December 2017.

Here is the lede plus four:

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Wednesday the loss of a 2.6bn-rouble ($45m) satellite launched last month was due to an embarrassing programming error.

Russian space agency Roscosmos said last month it had lost contact with the newly launched weather satellite – the Meteor-M – after it blasted off from Russia’s new Vostochny cosmodrome in the country’s far east.

Speaking to Rossiya 24 state TV channel, Rogozin said the failure had been caused by human error.  The rocket carrying the satellites had been programmed with the wrong coordinates, he said, saying it had been given bearings for take-off from a different cosmodrome – Baikonur – which Moscow leases from Kazakhstan.

“The rocket was really programmed as if it was taking off from Baikonur,” said Rogozin.  “They didn’t get the coordinates right.”

The rocket was carrying 18 smaller satellites belonging to scientific, research and commercial companies from Russia, Norway, Sweden, the US, Japan, Canada and Germany.

The key to successful navigation is knowing where you are.  The first step, of course, is knowing from whence you started, or having a great update point, but to get there you have to know where you are.  Everything else is dead reckoning.

Check and recheck is a good course of action.

Hat tip to my Middle Brother, who, before retirement was both a buyer and a seller of satellites.  As an aside, my Youngest Brother was a buyer of expendable launch vehicles.

Regards  —  Cliff

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