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Rocket launch causes stir

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Description: bright objects were seen to be passing overhead...
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bluegray
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« on: October 21, 2009, 09:37:25 AM »

SAAO: Rocket launch causes stir locally and around the world
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Lilli
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2009, 09:48:08 AM »

wish i could have seen that - definitely score one for rocket science. surely minus one for environmental science? what happens in a 'fuel dump'? that can't be good? how much fuel actually gets dumped? what kind? where?  Huh?
and how many people who saw that (and didnt know what it was) thought that aliens were invading... haha  Tongue
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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2009, 10:12:08 AM »

what happens in a 'fuel dump'? that can't be good?
The fuel for high-altitude rockets is usually oxygen and hydrogen kept in separate pressurised tanks.  Burning hydrogen produces water, nothing else.  In itself, dumping hydrogen and oxygen into the upper atmosphere is environmentally harmless, but even more so since the quantities are a minute fraction of, say, natural and industrial carbon dioxide emissions.

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Lilli
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2009, 10:31:00 AM »

cool. i did not know that. just love learning something new every day  Grin
ok so scratch greeny-concerns, and i shall reiterate: score one for rocket science!
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Mefiante
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2009, 11:31:22 AM »

Each Atlas V rocket uses a Russian-built RD-180 engine burning kerosene and liquid oxygen to power its first stage and an RL10 engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to power its Centaur upper stage.
Piecing together bits from the above-cited article and another, it emerges that the Atlas V rocket’s first stage carries around 285 metric tons of fuel (O2 + kerosene, most of which is used during launch), and the second stage around 15 tons (2.2 tons H2 + 12.8 tons O2).  The amount of fuel dumped by the second stage would be at most a few hundred kilograms.

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BoogieMonster
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2009, 15:36:22 PM »

This is getting a bit confusing... Apparently (now I'm talking hearsay, so I distrust it anyway), they talked about this on 702 and they said the effect seen wasn't due to a fuel dump (as the picture link speculates) which they (allegedly) said happened over Europe and the effect seen from SA was just the flashing of lights during some kind of test or demo.

Now I'm certainly not the world's greatest physicist, but I don't see how some pulsating lights could produce the concentric rings effect without having something to bounce off of, like jettisoned fuel. So I'm currently inclined to go with a "fuel/something else dump happened over SA, and the lights bounced off the expanding gas" theory. Thoughts? Confirmations? Any more concrete resources? Undecided
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