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Re: "Who Did It?" Thread (Was: Arcjet Motor)

Hi Peter and everyone else,

I'm a little behind the mail and a little late to this one, but I'll throw
in my 2 cents worth.

I don't think that a finger needs to be pointed.  Even if there was a person
who failed to remove the plug, there would be no need to publicly point the
finger.  That person would know what they did and have to live with that
guilt the rest of their lives.  They would probably not be willing to be
part of future projects and they might not even be asked.  There is no need
to perform a witch hunt and publicly crucify them.

The point is that a mistake was made, it has been admitted it was a mistake
and a lesson has been learned.

More to the point, from my understanding of people I have talked to, the
plug was not something that went unnoticed.  People knew it was there.  The
human error was in not knowing what it was for.  I don't know if anyone
realized its function and that it needed to be removed.  After all, in a
normally functioning engine, a vent port wouldn't be needed.

Part of the problem may have been due as well to an unfamiliarity with the
engine design itself.  I may be incorrect, but I believe that this motor was
a different design from what was used on AO-10 and AO-13.  So there was a
learning curve that was climbed as well.

Additionally, the engine system was never really tested.  Of course, it
really couldn't be tested (at least not economically).  So it's difficult to
debug a new system w/o being able to put it through its paces.  That's not a
criticism, but just a fact.

I am sure everyone involved with building AO-40 wishes they would have
pulled that plug.  It will be a knowledge that you'll carry for the rest of
your life.

Anyhow, this is rocket science.  Accidents do happen and while unfortunate,
they need to be learned from.  One of the "lessons" that AMSAT-NA has
decided to learn as a result of this is to stay away from satellites with
propulsion systems.  I'm not sure I agree with this in the long term as I
think failure is never a reason to stop doing something.  For the short
term, though, I think it a wise thing to do in order to get a couple of
birds up quickly and with minimal cost.

I wish people would give up the blame game.  The accident happened, it's
unfortunate, but no amount of crucifixion or stoning of people can change
what happened in the past.  What can happen in the future is that we can
learn from this and cooperate even more.



on 6/9/01 5:44 AM, Peter Guelzow at peter.guelzow@arcormail.de wrote:

> there was no such "remove before flight" designation on this "cap",
> no document, no such item on the "remove before flight" list
> (We indeed had a "remove before flight" list for everything
> else).
> At least three people were present when the engine finally
> was integrated into the S/C in Kourou.
> Nobody in the launch integration team knew that it should have
> been removed or identified it as such..
> Every single person of the launch team in Kourou did a fantastic job!
> My intention of the first reply was to make clear that the
> 400N engine itself worked perfectly and that we can't blame
> the manufactory for our fault.
> Yes, we now know what might have went wrong in the communication
> process.. so it should not happen again.

Jon Ogden
NA9D (ex: KE9NA)



"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

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