Skip to main content
  • Book
  • © 2005

Space Systems Failures

Disasters and Rescues of Satellites, Rocket and Space Probes

  • The very first book on space systems failures written from an engineering perspective

  • Focuses on the causes of the failures and discusses how the engineering knowledge base has been enhanced by the lessons learned

  • Discusses non-fatal anomalies which do not affect the ultimate success of a mission, but which are failures nevertheless

  • Describes engineering aspects of the spacecraft, making this a valuable complementary reference work to conventional engineering texts

  • Provides extensive references to the literature for further reading

Part of the book series: Springer Praxis Books (PRAXIS)

Part of the book sub series: Space Exploration (SPACEE)

Buying options

eBook USD 39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-0-387-27961-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table of contents (17 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xvii
  2. Launch vehicles

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. The missiles

      Pages 3-23
    3. The Shuttle

      Pages 25-45
    4. Back to expendables

      Pages 47-69
    5. Heavyweights

      Pages 71-95
    6. Lightweights

      Pages 97-111
    7. Boom and bust

      Pages 113-133
    8. The Chinese experience

      Pages 135-143
    9. The current crop

      Pages 145-174
  3. Satellites and space probes

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 175-175
    2. Failure and redundancy

      Pages 177-180
    3. Electrical failures

      Pages 227-264
    4. Environmental failures

      Pages 265-284
    5. Structural failures

      Pages 285-314
    6. Failures on the ground

      Pages 315-333
    7. Conclusions

      Pages 347-353

About this book

In the 1960s and 1970s deep space missions were dispatched in pairs in case one was lost in launch or failed during its journey. Following the triumphs of the Viking landings on Mars in 1976 and both Voyagers spacecraft successfully surveying the outer giant planets of the Solar System, it was decided by NASA to cut costs and send out just a single probe.

Although Magellan successfully mapped Venus by radar, it suffered from problems during the flight. Then came the loss of Mars Observer, whose engine exploded as it was preparing to enter Mars’ orbit because it was using technology designed for Earth’s satellites and the engine was not suited to spending several months in space. Later came the high-profile losses of Mars Climate Observer and Mars Polar Lander - a consequence of the faster, better, cheaper philosophy introduced by Dan Goldin in 1993. Even the highly successful Galileo mission suffered a major setback when its high-gain antenna (also based on satellite mission suffered a major setback when its high-gain antenna (also based on satellite communication technology) failed to deploy fully, greatly diminishing the craft’s radio transmission capabilities, forcing the ground crew to re-programme the on-board computer to enable it to fulfil its mission and provide stunning images of Jupiter and its moons.

In Space Systems Failures, David Harland (here working with co-author Ralph Lorenz) describes the many quite fascinating tales of woe involving failures of rockets, satellites and deep space missions in his inimitable style, providing a unique insight into the trials and tribulations of exploration at the high frontier.

Keywords

  • Galileo
  • control
  • design
  • radar
  • satellites
  • space

Reviews

From the reviews:

"Harland (space historian) and Lorenz (Univ. of Arizona, Tucson), using occasional flashes of humor, explore in depth the wide variety of causes of failure of space systems … . The material is very practical, punchy, and straightforward, presented in a refreshing writing style. The book contains many … illustrations, extensive references at the end of each chapter and a full 14-page index. … it is a must for scientists and engineers engaged in or planning a career in space systems. Summing Up: Recommended." (W. E. Howard, CHOICE, November, 2005)

"This book is the literary equivalent of the ‘tell-all’ TV documentary and should meet most of its readers’ vicarious interests in what can go wrong in – or on the way to –space. … The book is pretty well encyclopaedic … . The book is illustrated with black-and-white photos and diagrams … . On balance, this book is well researched and referenced … . Anyone involved in the design, manufacturing and operation of spacecraft and launch vehicles should read this book … and learn." (satellite-evolution.com, May/June, 2007)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelvinbridge, Glasgow, UK

    David M. Harland

  • Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA

    Ralph D. Lorenz

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-0-387-27961-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)