I suspect the oil companies. Clearly sabotage.
I don't even want to contemplate that possibility. It'll make me too angry.
thats horrible though :(
Yes. I'm pretty sure many of my old colleagues will be philosophical about it since they've obviously all got other interests. There's also a Japanese satellite called GOSAT that's currently on a similar sort of campaign. But it doesn't have nearly the resolution or the coverage that OCO was supposed to have. It's terribly disappointing.
It's a blow for remote sensing in atmospheric science, for sure. These projects never get anywhere near the money nor the resources of the "glory" projects in space science. It's possible that it may be rebuilt, but it'll take years. The ESA Cluster mission that I used to work on blew up on its first launch in 1996, and it took five years for that to be rebuilt.
Space is sexy, but it seems like funding bodies have their priorities upside down.
I just heard about that on the news. What happens when a launch fails? Can the project be rebuilt, or is the project generally scrapped?
I have the impression that the project just ends with a clunk (or a foosh), but I can't quite get my head around the idea of scrapping a long term project because the hardware has been lost. It seems like the preparatory research and design should be the hard part, and the expensive part, so that as long as the design isn't the reason a project fails, there should be provisions to rebuild and relaunch. Maybe a reserved pool of funds at the institution or agency level -- a sort of insurance -- rather than padded budgets for each mission? I don't know.
Basically, I think I'm missing something, and would really like to be set straight if you've got the energy.
Reactions to launch failures vary. You're right that a lot of mission money gets spent on spacecraft development, but there isn't normally much of a cushion in the event of launch failure. Most spacecraft systems are built with full redundancy - the launch is one of the few big the single-point failures for which it's just not possible to have a contingency. (Launches are also terribly expensive.) I'd assume some money had already been earmarked for post-launch support. I don't know whether or not it's possible for that money to be diverted into reconstruction.
The ESA Cluster mission was rebuilt after the first launch failed in 1996. It took five years to be relaunched, but considering that it was under development for about fifteen prior to the first launch attempt, five years is pretty swift to construct, test and launch four spacecraft. I don't know if OCO has a high enough profile at NASA to make a bid for money to relaunch and support the spacecraft. It's an Earth Science mission, and the budget for earth science is a fraction of that for Space Science.
I read about the failure in the NY Times this morning. Of all the missions to have an issue, this is the one that didn't deserve this fate. Saying that sounds a bit cruel, in that some project does deserve to fail. I guess I think about what this satellite was designed to do and it's a pretty big deal for all of us...
The interesting thing for me was looking at the people in the control room when things were going badly. I expected to see some kind of reaction to what was happening, but they just sat there. I guess the hallmark to professionalism...
It's also pretty cheap compared to the big space missions.
Fortunately, the Japanese mission GoSat was launched about a month ago to make similar measurements, and it's been successfully commissioned. OCO was supposed to make much higher resolution measurements and have greater temporal coverage, so it's still a big blow to the scientists, but at least there's something up there that might help.
As I said to wiggyfish
, I'm fairly certain some money had been set aside to cover post-launch support, but whether or not it could be diverted to reconstruction/relaunch and if it'd be enough, I don't know.
Is there insurance against these things happening to rebuild the hardware?
I'm fairly sure the answer to that is no. There are many procedures in place to try and ensure that launches go smoothly, and the spacecraft themselves are usually built with (as near to full) redundancy as they can be. But as I mentioned above, it's certain that money had been put aside to cover post-launch support. Possibly that money can be diverted to reconstruction costs.
That's interesting. I read that this morning and knew that you would be posting about it. I am sorry for your friends. I know what it is like to really invest yourself in a project that never launches taking years worth of work with it. All the time I spent in Hong Kong, not one line of code we wrote was used. Ever...
I am so sorry for your friends.
Your Hong Kong experience actually sounds much worse. At least my friends have gotten a lot of publications out of all the preparatory modeling work they did for OCO. It's been a big part of the making of some of their careers, and it won't go to waste. Even if OCO doesn't get rebuilt, the next mission will benefit from their studies.
That's definitely pretty good to get career results. And while the work didn't get used, the only reason IBM just picked me up is because of the work I did in HK.