How To Destroy $135 Million Almost Instantly

from the drop-a-satellite dept

Whoops. Last year, workers at Lockheed Martin, attempting to move a $239 million satellite, dropped the satellite 3 whole feet, causing $135 million worth of damages. An investigation into the matter now blames workers who failed to follow anything resembling procedure in checking to see if the device was secured before moving it. Still, who sets up a $200+ million satellite in a way that a simple 3 foot drop will cause $135 million worth of damages?

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Comments on “How To Destroy $135 Million Almost Instantly”

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Dave Moore (user link) says:

3 foot drop...

Probably all satellites are set up this way. Reinforcing, and shock protection would add mass, which is extremely expensive when you’re trying to lift the thing into orbit. Most likely, all satellites are basically built to deal with exactly the amount of stress that occurs at takeoff. Anything extra is just wasted weight, assuming you have competent handlers on the ground. Apparently not a good assumption in this case…

Richard Jones (user link) says:

Satellites are fragile...

“Still, who sets up a $200+ million satellite in a way that a simple 3 foot drop will cause $135 million worth of damages?”
Uh, no-one if they follow procedures

Satellites are fragile. They have bracing and internal chassis that holds them together during relocation and launch (about 24 bolts, apparently), but their “skin” is usually a mixture of extremely expensive solar collectors, reflective material, antennae, and given that it’s a weather satellite, high precision optics (the article mentioned that two such instruments were damaged), … the list goes on. Satellites are also usually heavy – so letting them fall a meter gives a fair bit of momentum to bash in some of those expensive bits sticking out – thus damaging internal componentry as well.

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