Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hoagland and Bara still confused about Explorer 1

        There are signs of a slight rift between those terminally erratic writers Hoagland & Bara on the question of Explorer 1, America's first satellite. Not that either of them is right about the orbit, but they now appear to be wrong in significantly different ways.

        Hoagland, as some readers of this blog will remember, made an attempt to apply the Tsiolkovsky equation to the four-stage rocket Juno 1 that launched Explorer. He completely screwed up the calculation, admitted as much about nine months ago but so far has made no move to correct his web page.

        Hoagland's general thesis was that the rotation of the three solid upper stages induced an "anti-gravity effect" which added significantly to the velocity of the final orbit insertion. An additional reason to discount this claim, beyond Hoagland's appalling math, is that by the time the upper stages fired the rocket was traveling horizontally, so gravity is not really the point.

        Mike Bara had his own excruciatingly fallacious attempt at deriving the excess velocity of Explorer 1, but perhaps he somehow sensed that they need something more plausible than anti-gravity to explain their incorrect figures. Earlier this week he stated that perhaps "the spinning changed the burning properties of the fuel." This was in the course of an hour-long podcast interview hosted by Robert Bradbury (who had failed to read any part of The Choice prior to the recording, oops.)

        I'm having a hard time imagining anything less plausible than this attempt to explain what does not need explaining. If the upper stages had been liquid-fueled the idea might have had some superficial credibility, since liquid rocket fuel does indeed slosh around in flight and needs management to ensure a good burn. But we're talking here about military-grade solid fuel which does nothing other than burn enthusiastically when someone puts a match to it.

        Now for the good news. In the course of the podcast (00:45:00 approx) Mike said "Probably not everything in my book is correct." HOORAY. The first step toward redemption is recognition of ones failings.

Rocketry geeks read on...

        Juno 1 was, frankly, a bit of a lash-up—put together in an atmosphere of near-panic as the USSR twice demonstrated its superiority at getting to orbit, and other US rocketry crashed and burned on national TV several times. It was a Jupiter-C rocket with one additional stage.

        Von Braun had a special version of the Redstone missile made, with tankage stretched by eight feet. He fueled it with 60% unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine and 40% diethylene-triamine, instead of the alcohol fuel the Redstone was designed for, increasing thrust to 83,000 lb. Burn time was 155 sec, and specific impulse 235 sec. On top of that he added three upper stages, consisting of clusters of 11, 3, and 1 Baby Sergeant solids, with specific impulse 220, 235 and 235 sec. The trajectory of the Redstone first stage was guided by aerodynamic surfaces, but the upper stages had no terminal guidance whatever. For stability, the whole upper stack was therefore spun up to a rotation rate varying from 450 to 750 r.p.m. Thus, it was known in advance that the actual orbit parameters could not be predicted with great accuracy. The nation didn't care—it wanted to see something American in any orbit that could be contrived.

        To achieve orbit, a rocket has two separate tasks—get the payload high enough, then boost it horizontally to sufficient velocity to maintain the orbit. An altitude of 122 km and a velocity of 7 km/sec are approximately the minimum requirements. At cutoff of Juno's first stage, it had a velocity of just over 4 km/sec pitched over to 40° from horizontal. The upper stages were then allowed to follow a purely ballistic trajectory for over four minutes until the stack was horizontal, before sequential firing under direct ground command.

        The ideal theoretical orbit was 352 x 1600 km. In fact they achieved 357 x 2547 km. It was in noticing that rather big apogee excess that Hoagland & Bara made the elementary error of declaring that the whole thing had 60%[1] more energy than anticipated, not realizing that orbital velocities are calculated on the semi-major axis, NOT altitude above the Earth's surface. Mike Bara wrote "I won't bore you with the details, but the fact is a miscalculation of that type simply cannot happen." He should perhaps have bored himself with some details before writing such garbage.

        When you work out the math correctly, the velocity at orbit insertion turns out to have been 8.215 km/sec, cf. the planned 8.018 km/sec— an excess of 2.46% and well within known slop factors such as rocket fuel performance, pitch angle, and upper atmosphere wind speed.


        So Hoagland & Bara between them delivered four hours of overnight radio, one long web page and two book chapters of complete hogwash, based on a childish lack of understanding of rocketry. I wish I thought their fans cared, but alas those people are so gullible I swear they'd accept kool-aid if it was offered.


[1] 60% was Bara's figure (The Choice, p. 144.) Hoagland said 30% on Coast-to-Coast AM, but the inaccurate calculations in his web page suggest 17%. All three figures are, of course, wrong.


Chris Lopes said...

It's interesting that they disagree about the why of the increase. I was under the impression that Bara was the one actually writing the EM papers, and the lack of any new material since they went their separate ways would tend to support that contention. Since the EM Von Braun material quite clearly points to HD physics as the reason for the orbit change, Bara seems to be contradicting himself as well as Hoagland. Is it possible that Bara has just plain forgotten what he wrote?

expat said...

It's definitely an interesting departure from the doctrine of HD physics, and hard to say what brought it about. Bara definitely wrote much of the enterprisemission web site, but I somehow think "Von Braun's Secret" was RCH's own work.

Thanks for reading what was a rather long post.

Chris Lopes said...

You may be right about the Von Braun papers now that I think about it. I've read enough of Richard's stand alone work (The Monuments of Mars specifically) to see his affinity for (and total lack of competence in) convoluted math. I also seem to remember Bara in some kind of talk (promoting Dark Missions) admitting that the HD physics thing and the math behind it were both more Richard's area.

BTW, the original post is as long as it has to be. Those figures you presented were exactly what I was looking for when I started looking into Hoagland's rocket equation material in the first place. The figures he gave didn't even add up using his version of the formula, which was my first clue that he just made the whole thing up.

Biological_Unit said...

It IS Rocket Science, after all!

It's worthwhile to point the errors out, but the poor innocent trees that were destroyed to make these "buks" ... it's a damn shame!

Chris Lopes said...

Expat, Hoagland claimed that even the revised figure (which he never quoted for obvious reasons) rises above the statistical noise. Is there any test data on the solid rocket motors used that would document their real statistical variation?

expat said...

Chris, you're correct, he did. The solid fuel was a polysulfide-aluminum/ammonium perchlorate mixture. The second and third stages were fueled with T17-E2 propellant. The fourth stage motor, which remained attached to the satellite, was loaded with the JPL-532A variant, offering slightly more thrust (but apparently no additional specific impulse, according to the available documentation.)

There is some information on batch variation of the T17-E2 fuel in this report, on p.13. Between-batch variation is reported as 3%, but the report says that judicious loading supposedly reduced that by a factor of 2.

Chris Lopes said...

Even the within batch variation is 1.5%. Given all the other factors beyond anyone's control at the time, "above the statistical noise" has no meaning here.

BTW, that was a great source. It's the kind of thing Hoagland should have used. If he had, he'd have known how vulnerable to correction his calculations were.

Chris Lopes said...

Expat, did you catch Hoagland on C2C last night?

expat said...

Part of it. I'm contemplating an update to the "non-hyperdimensional event" post because, unbelievably, he really did try to force the Sendai quake to fit his pattern.

Chris Lopes said...

Expat, yes I know. Apparently he's pushing it as a ritual number thing.

Biological_Unit said...

RCH is good at "riffing".

The Audience is mainly American, RCH is American. His experts have American-Sounding names like Chuck Sellier and Lee Eric Shackleford. Don't you understand that Arabic Numerals and Algebra are a vile conspiracy?

Biological_Unit said...

RCH is now on Facebook writing about Nuclear Remediation. I really don't think Torsion Physics is involved. It's a good idea if it works. Spent Nuclear fuel can be easily created into Nuke bombs.

I guess the Nuke Industry gets more money from Bomb-builders than can be saved by getting rid of the stored rods that must be kept in deep pools of water - until they find a storage solution. They never will - NIMBY.

Biological_Unit said...

RCH is making goofy claims about Nuke remediation being used in Japan. He gets threads going on Facebook and then drops them once the stink of his fail sets in.

I don't understand. Just cover that Fuku Shima Nuke shit up, fecken retards.

Chris Lopes said...

Something is very odd about this nuke cure post of Richards. All he did was present a graphic (that he also claims joint copyright with ABC) that he says is from a TV show presented back in 1997. No link to the actual broadcast, just the transcript from a free energy site. So as far as anyone can tell, this may never have happened.

expat said...

I don't doubt that it happened. I'd like to know which isotope of Uranium was involved. I have a hard time believing that 235 was allowed into a TV studio.

Chris Lopes said...

The fact that there isn't any video of this and the fact that the only "transcript" is from a free energy site would seem to validate that it's a fake. Hoagland though, is making quite the slash on his FB page with it. If it is fake, he's either been had, or very desperate for attention. Perhaps the conference in Amsterdam is not exactly filled up yet.

Chris Lopes said...

Hoagland claims he has the video which he will upload after the trip to Amsterdam. Any guess as to this actually happening?

Biological_Unit said...

My Physics teacher showed us a bunch of radioactive isotopes on small plastic pieces.
I think the really nasty isotopes were mere handfuls of atoms, bound up in the plastic so as not to be a danger of release, obviously.

Biological_Unit said...

Posted from Facebook:

Richard C. Hoagland In fact, I LOVE it when folks -- REAL folks -- disagree with me; that way, if they are right, I DO learn something I didn't know before ....

But, it ALL begins with "respect."
22 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · 1 personUwe Langer likes this.
Uwe Langer Richard don't take any crap from people who couldn't even explain how their microwave oven works
10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

#Biological_Unit All the Trolls here want to suck poisonous fossil fuel vapors, or are being paid enough to disregard that. Is that your assertion?
2 seconds ago · Like

Chris Lopes said...

BU, what you don't understand is that Hoagland is "The Big Man" so you should show some deference to him. After all, he got to hang out with Walter Cronkite 4 decades ago. Therefore he is the expert here, not you. Any attempt to question him is obviously an exercise in disinformation. He is, in other words, a delusional egomaniac.

expat said...

I have now added an update to "a non hyperdimensional event."