Author Topic: $28m contract for local KSC firm for Ares I Lightning Protection System Towers  (Read 14752 times)


Offline collectSPACE

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Offline Chris Bergin

Wow, that's awesome. Thanks Robert.

Offline discovery_fan

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Very interesting!

Just a small correction - In the article it reads:
"After the stand-down of the LON requirement was giving during STS-125, Discovery would then be transported from Pad B to Pad A and prepared for her primary mission, STS-126."
I think ist should read "Endeavour" instead of "Discovery".

Offline DeanHFox

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With as many wires as are in the LPS,  I wonder if ARES-I launches will be accompanied by "LPS Clear!" calls in addition to "Tower Clear!" calls...  :)

Offline Jim

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LPS is Launch Processing System.  The acronym would not be used for anything else during launch

Offline Chris Bergin

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discovery_fan - 28/7/2007  11:21 AM

Very interesting!

Just a small correction - In the article it reads:
"After the stand-down of the LON requirement was giving during STS-125, Discovery would then be transported from Pad B to Pad A and prepared for her primary mission, STS-126."
I think ist should read "Endeavour" instead of "Discovery".

Corrected. I stole a line from a previous article I wrote, before Endeavour gained STS-400 from Discovery.

Offline Justin Space

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Don't those crosswires mean there's very little margin for error during the first 10 seconds or so of launch? Seems like a small hole to launch through. Won't the booster exhaust also batter those wires after clearing them? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

Offline Jim

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The trajectory doesn't move more than a few feet on either side of the centerline.  If it did there would be a better issue.  The exhaust doesn't affect them.  See the Atlas V pad.

Offline spacemuppet

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I see NASA is spending $28,000,000 to build 3 huge lightning towers around their new pad.  I thought it was modern belief that lightning does NOT necessarily strike the highest object, and that there are hundreds of documented cases to prove so.  Just wondering if NASA's towers effectively "prove" or "disprove" the age-old saying that "lightning always strikes the highest object".

Offline Jamie Young

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I think they would have considered all options and learned from the pads that do have this system.

Offline AstroRJY

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The artist rendering of what kind of launch pads we'l see for the next chapter of manned space flight is tremendously disappointing, what a letdown. Why do they need to clutter up another launch complex with these unsightly towers?  The single lightning mast was good enough for the Saturn Vs and for the space shuttles which were much larger and more complicated.   The Atlas V pad looks awkward enough, why are these really needed?  In aesthetic terms, they are a  real detriment.  BUt for practical aspects, whyy isn't the existing lighting rod sufficient?

Offline Jim

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AstroRJY - 29/7/2007  12:00 AM

The artist rendering of what kind of launch pads we'l see for the next chapter of manned space flight is tremendously disappointing, what a letdown. Why do they need to clutter up another launch complex with these unsightly towers?  The single lightning mast was good enough for the Saturn Vs and for the space shuttles which were much larger and more complicated.   The Atlas V pad looks awkward enough, why are these really needed?  In aesthetic terms, they are a  real detriment.  BUt for practical aspects, whyy isn't the existing lighting rod sufficient?

Because it isn't high enough.

There wasn't a mast for Saturn V's, only for Apollo/Soyuz

Because the single mast is not good enough.  And modern electronics are more susceptible.  Look at home electronics, surge protectors didn't really exist 30 years ago.

They are needed.  Delta-IV has them too

Why does aesthetics matter?

Offline pippin

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Why do they cost 28 mil. bucks? I mean, is there a fully electronic lightning energy absober fancy stuff in there of what? The rendering looks like just 3 towers and some wire, sounds to me like they've got the comma a digit too far to the right.

Offline JIS

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AstroRJY - 30/7/2007  5:00 AM

 The single lightning mast was good enough for the Saturn Vs and for the space shuttles which were much larger and more complicated.  

Both Ares1/Orion and Ares V are higher than STS. I wouldn't say STS is more complicated than AresV/EDS/LSAM or Ares1/Orion.
'Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' - Old Greek experience

Offline JIS

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pippin - 30/7/2007  12:33 PM

Why do they cost 28 mil. bucks?

With NASA as a costumer I would say it's very cheap.
'Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill' - Old Greek experience

Offline brihath

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spacemuppet - 29/7/2007  11:23 AM

I see NASA is spending $28,000,000 to build 3 huge lightning towers around their new pad.  I thought it was modern belief that lightning does NOT necessarily strike the highest object, and that there are hundreds of documented cases to prove so.  Just wondering if NASA's towers effectively "prove" or "disprove" the age-old saying that "lightning always strikes the highest object".

I'm no expert, but connecting the towers with wire would create a sort of "Faraday Cage" around the pad for protection, probably increasing the probability that lightning would strike there first.  A comment from a design engineer on this would be helpful.

I agree that lightning doesn't necessarily strike the tallest object.  Last month lightning struck a tree in my yard when there was a tree twice as high in my neighbor's yard only 50 ft away.  Totally wiped out my computer, printers, APC UPS, cable modem, sprinkler system, etc.  But then again, I live in Tampa- the lightning capital of the USA.

Definately, modern microelectronics don't stand up well to surges.  I've lost equipment (computer MB, modems) before just due to surges in the local area from lightning.  Thats why I won't run my system without a UPS.

Offline AstroRJY

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Quote
JIS - 30/7/2007  9:00 AM  
Quote
AstroRJY - 30/7/2007  5:00 AM   The single lightning mast was good enough for the Saturn Vs and for the space shuttles which were much larger and more complicated.  
 Both Ares1/Orion and Ares V are higher than STS. I wouldn't say STS is more complicated than AresV/EDS/LSAM or Ares1/Orion.

 

I meant that ARES is one vehicle. The shuttle has the ET, two SRBS and the orbiter.  

How tall are they expecting the complete ARES vehicle and spacecraft to be anyway? 


Offline edkyle99

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brihath - 30/7/2007  8:41 AM

Quote
spacemuppet - 29/7/2007  11:23 AM

I see NASA is spending $28,000,000 to build 3 huge lightning towers around their new pad.  I thought it was modern belief that lightning does NOT necessarily strike the highest object, and that there are hundreds of documented cases to prove so.  Just wondering if NASA's towers effectively "prove" or "disprove" the age-old saying that "lightning always strikes the highest object".

I'm no expert, but connecting the towers with wire would create a sort of "Faraday Cage" around the pad for protection, probably increasing the probability that lightning would strike there first.  A comment from a design engineer on this would be helpful.

I agree that lightning doesn't necessarily strike the tallest object.  Last month lightning struck a tree in my yard when there was a tree twice as high in my neighbor's yard only 50 ft away.  Totally wiped out my computer, printers, APC UPS, cable modem, sprinkler system, etc.  But then again, I live in Tampa- the lightning capital of the USA.

Lightning doesn't strike the tallest object.  It strikes the object, or group of objects, that provide(s) the easiest path to ground.  This is often the tallest object at a given location, but not always.  

It is the grounding that is important.  As with icebergs, a lot of the lightning protection system at the pad won't be visible above ground.  The contractor will do a lot of digging to install a large subsurface grounding array connected to the tower bases.  If the system is designed and built properly, the towers and cables attached to them should then become an easier path to ground for lightning than a stacked Ares I/Orion vehicle *almost* all of the time.  I say *almost* because lightning can do unexpected things, which is why these lightning systems end up being so massive almost to the point of seeming to be overkill.  The design is an attempt to minimize probabilities.  

 - Ed Kyle

Offline pippin

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As I understand Florida these towers should be more or less standing in water. Shouldn't that make grounding faily straightforward?

Offline brihath

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pippin - 30/7/2007  11:29 AM

As I understand Florida these towers should be more or less standing in water. Shouldn't that make grounding faily straightforward?

I think Ed's point is well taken- you want to direct the charge into the ground in a specific direction and away from other wiring, cables, etc. in order to prevent damage to critical systems.  As in my example above, the lightning charge travelled through the ground about 50' before it did damage in my house.  It came in the ground wire for my house wiring- melted the contact in the outlet my UPS was plugged into.

Offline edkyle99

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pippin - 30/7/2007  10:29 AM

As I understand Florida these towers should be more or less standing in water. Shouldn't that make grounding faily straightforward?

It probably helps, but soil type plays a role, and the system has to be designed to work during dry spells too, when the local water table around the pad might drop a bit.  Also keep in mind that the launch pads are built on what are essentially man made islands that probably consist of compacted clay and that were designed to drain water away.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline pippin

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Jim - 30/7/2007  1:24 PM

There wasn't a mast for Saturn V's, only for Apollo/Soyuz


So what exactly is that white structure on top of the tower for?

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/misc/apmisc-KSC-66PC-75.jpg

Offline Jim

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pippin - 31/7/2007  8:29 AM

Quote
Jim - 30/7/2007  1:24 PM

There wasn't a mast for Saturn V's, only for Apollo/Soyuz


So what exactly is that white structure on top of the tower for?

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/misc/apmisc-KSC-66PC-75.jpg

Was referring to the "real" mast vs a lightning rod

Offline pippin

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Ah.
Why was it added only for ASTP? I would understand it after Apollo 12, but that late in the program...

Offline Jim

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pippin - 31/7/2007  9:10 AM

Ah.
Why was it added only for ASTP? I would understand it after Apollo 12, but that late in the program...

Because ASTP was launching in July.  It couldn't afford a delay if the Soyuz was already launched.

Offline renclod

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http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/160648main_Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Pad B Catenary Capability Analysis and Technical Exchange Meeting (TEM) Report.pdf


Offline punkboi

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The KSC gallery page currently has a page devoted to Constellation.  There are pics of one of the lightning towers now undergoing construction at LC-39B

http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=169


Offline STS Tony

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Yeah, there's been update images from pad rats taking photos and publishing them on L2 :)

Offline punkboi

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NOW you tell me... Haha just kidding. :bleh:


Offline kraisee

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pippin - 31/7/2007  8:29 AM

Quote
Jim - 30/7/2007  1:24 PM

There wasn't a mast for Saturn V's, only for Apollo/Soyuz


So what exactly is that white structure on top of the tower for?

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/misc/apmisc-KSC-66PC-75.jpg

Just for clarity - there *WAS* a lightening mast for Saturn-V.   It was just a different design.   I have the 1st October 1964 blueprints in my hand right now.   Document number 75M05128.

It wasn't the big white cylinder design, like ASTP and Shuttle used, but it was the small trellis structure in tapering triangular profile shown very clearly in the image you linked above.

It was changed to the "spiral cylinder" design in time for ASTP simply because the old one was rusting away and needed replacing after Skylab 4 flew from the same tower.   They decided to change the design at the time, and that same design led to the Shuttle design which we see today.


You can see the original lightening mast design quite visibly in all Saturn-V rollout and launch pictures.   It used to be folded down just before entering the VAB and somewhere there is a cool picture showing it being lifted just as the LUT exited the VAB on one mission.   I'm not sure where that image is right now, but it must have been a really great view for the workers at the top of the Crane while rolling out.

Ross.
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