Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

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Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Switch625 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:21 am UTC

Hi all,

When you see a rocket launch or space shuttle launch, you usually see big chunks of ice falling from the vessel during lift-off.
I am half-convinced I once saw a programme where they put forward an interesting scientific explanation of why this is so, involving air pressures and various other factors during launch. I remember it making sense at the time in a pop-science sort of way, but I can't find anything on the Internet which readily confirms this.

Does anybody know whether this is the case? Or is the explanation something entirely mundane such as that the spacecraft is supercooled before takeoff so the ice is already there and the vibrations simply shake it loose?
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby hyperion » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:39 am UTC

I'm guessing it's because liquid oxygen is kinda cold.
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Switch625 » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:48 am UTC

ah... yeah, you're right. Of course, the shuttle's main fuel tank is full of liquid hydrogen at -253°C, so you'd expect a lot of ice to form on the outside.

The answer was a lot easier (and more boring) than I expected.

Thanks anyway.
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Cryopyre » Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:25 am UTC

hah, simplicity
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Øsse » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:00 pm UTC

I'm allowing myself to use this thread to ask a related question. I was just wondering, in this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=tKZzFTLrNvc, what's that white gas/liquid coming from those small nozzles by the main engines? (first seen after about 6 seconds). I first thought it was the water they use to cool the platform, but I guess it's not enough for that.
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby jaap » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:16 pm UTC

Øsse wrote:I'm allowing myself to use this thread to ask a related question. I was just wondering, in this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=tKZzFTLrNvc, what's that white gas/liquid coming from those small nozzles by the main engines? (first seen after about 6 seconds).


I don't know, but it might be the exhaust for some kind of cooling system in the engine.

Øsse wrote:I first thought it was the water they use to cool the platform, but I guess it's not enough for that.


The main purpose of the water is not cooling, but absorbing the sound wave energy from the rocket engines. Without it the whole platform would be shaken to pieces, or so I was told when I visited Florida. At 3:10 in the video he says "Sound Suppression Water System is armed.".
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Thisisnotausername » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

I wonder if sound suppression water systems could prevent burglaries :roll:
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby Øsse » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:15 am UTC

Thisisnotausername wrote:I wonder if sound suppression water systems could prevent burglaries :roll:
Sounds like a job for SMASH LAB!!! :twisted:


:|
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Re: Ice falling off rockets and space shuttle

Postby IceBurner » Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

I try not to fall off rockets as much as possible, re-entry really hurts.

My apologies, I had to.
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