Manufacturing News from the Engineered Designer Perspective

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Ripped Hole in Ionosphere During 2017 Launch

On August 24, 2017, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket. The launch seemed to go off without a hitch, and everything was going according to plan. However, it has recently been revealed that the rocket ripped a temporary hole in the ionosphere, a portion of Earth’s atmosphere where the sun’s energy and radiation ionize atoms. The rays strip atoms of one or more of their electrons, resulting in a positive charge while the electrons act as free particles. The ionosphere reflects radio waves, facilitating radio communications across distances.

Typically, rockets launch with a curving trajectory and travel nearly parallel Earth’s surface, allowing spacecrafts to carry larger objects that would otherwise be too heavy. However, during the Formosat-5 Mission in August 2017, Falcon 9 carried a relatively light payload in the form of a 475 kg satellite. Due to the low weight, Falcon 9 launched along a vertical path, fighting gravity and creating circular shockwaves, rupturing a 559-mile hole in the plasma of the ionosphere.

The effect was not permanent, as the hole only lasted about three hours, though it has prompted scientists to investigate the incident and determine what this means for the future of space flight. While a singular event is temporary and self-correcting, continued space flight of this type will result in increasingly more disruptions to the ionosphere.

GPS (Global Position System) navigation would likely produce more errors and cause traffic issues. This is because GPS signals travel through the ionosphere to reach Earth’s surface, and the speed of travel can change with fluctuations in the plasma within the ionosphere. According to a paper published in Space Weather, the 2017 hole may have caused a one-meter error in GPS programs.

“Consequently, the rocket launch generated a gigantic circular shock wave in the ionosphere covering a wide area four times greater than California,” said the study. While rockets have created disturbances in the past, one of this magnitude is a first.

The study’s lead author, Charles C. H. Lin of the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, likened the launch of a rock to the eruption of a volcano, which unloads energy into the middle and upper atmosphere in ways comparable to that of a magnetic storm.

“Without considering the rocket launch effects, there are errors from the ionosphere, troposphere, and other factors that will produce up to 20-meter errors or more,” said Lin. “Humans are entering an era that rocket launches are becoming usual and frequent due to a reduced cost by reusable rockets. Meanwhile, humans are developing more powerful rockets to send cargoes to other planets. These two factors will gradually affect the middle and upper atmosphere more, and that is worthwhile to pay some attention to.”

Latest Stories

Aerospace in Ontario: More than 200 aerospace companies, 21,000 skilled employees and half of the top 25 global firms

Aerospace in Ontario: More than 200 aerospace companies, 21,000 skilled employees and half of the top 25 global firms

Whether it’s aircraft integration and assembly, or aviaonics systems, or maintenance, repair and overhaul, Ontario is base to 25 of the global aersopace leaders, from Bombardier to Airbus Helicopters, to Raytheon, Honeywell and Sinclair Interplanetary. Ontario aerospace companies tap into an unparalelled infrastructure: lowest overall infrastructure in the G7 nations $6 billion in annual sales…

Propellant leak during emergency abort sets back Boeing’s spacecraft development for NASA

Propellant leak during emergency abort sets back Boeing’s spacecraft development for NASA

Late in June — but breaking in the news now — anomalies in the launch abort system in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft tests revealed a propellant leak. Starliner spacecraft — and the Boeing space launch system — is part of Boeing’s efforts to develop spacecraft for NASA astronauts. The setback occurred during an emergency abort test…

Danger Doc Robinson: researchers at RMIT University find vehicle vibrations may induce sleep in drivers

Danger Doc Robinson: researchers at RMIT University find vehicle vibrations may induce sleep in drivers

Sleeping behind the wheel kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. According to Transport Canada, an average of twenty per cent of all fatal collisions are due to driver fatigue. The stakes are even bigger with truckers who drive long hauls. New research and practical solutions testings from RMIT University in Australia may have…

Volvo to Expand Production of XC40 SUV in Europe and China

Volvo to Expand Production of XC40 SUV in Europe and China

​Volvo is expanding production of its XC40 SUV in Europe and China in an effort to meet rising demand. According to the company, nearly 80,000 orders have been placed for the SUV, which prompted the company to expand production at its Ghent manufacturing facility. Production capacity will be added at the company’s Luqiao plant in…

Nexen Energy Expansion Announced

Nexen Energy Expansion Announced

​Nexen Energy recently announced that it will spend approximately $400 billion on a 26,000-barrel-per-day expansion of its Long Lake oil sands project in northern Alberta. Plans include adding three steam-driven well pads that will send bitumen to its existing facilities. According to a company spokesperson, site preparation has already begun, with production slated to being…

How Greener Grids Can Stay Lit

How Greener Grids Can Stay Lit

​California recently made headlines after becoming the first state to require solar panels on all new homes. While the move seems at first glance as a major step in the right direction, it also poses a lot of questions regarding the feasibility of the move and its effect on existing distribution networks. ​In order to…

Jaguar Land Rover Set to Move Discovery Production from United Kingdom to Slovakia

Jaguar Land Rover Set to Move Discovery Production from United Kingdom to Slovakia

​Jaguar Land Rover is gearing up for a move from a plant near Birmingham, England to one in Slovakia, a move that is facing criticism as it jeopardizes hundreds of jobs. The company stated in April that approximately 1,000 posts currently filled by workers on short-term contracts would be eliminated following the move and that…

Elon Musk’s Boring Company Making Waves with Latest Announcement

Elon Musk’s Boring Company Making Waves with Latest Announcement

​Elon Musk’s Boring Company gained worldwide attention when Chicago chose the company to build a futuristic, high-speed transportation link between downtown Chicago and the O’Hare Airport. ​“We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!” said The Boring Company via Twitter. The system,…

Could the Future of Energy be Entirely Renewable?

Could the Future of Energy be Entirely Renewable?

​As the world shifts toward greener alternatives to fossil fuels and eco-friendly lifestyles, we begin to wonder just how far we are capable of going. Are there enough options and resources available to meet all our energy needs in environmentally-friendly ways? Is the vision of a green future with 100 per cent renewable energy feasible?…

Airbus and Bombardier Finalize Deal

Airbus and Bombardier Finalize Deal

​According to a dual announcement earlier this month, Airbus and Bombardier have finalized the C Series partnership agreement which was first announced on October 16th. Bombardier struck the deal with Airbus amid a trade dispute with Boeing, which claimed that the Canadian plane received illegal government aid that unfairly shut out the competition. The partnership…

1 2 3 85Next →

Other Popular News and Stories

  • RV industry has growing role in Canada's economy: study
  • BC refinery close to financing deal
  • Economy managed slight growth in Q4, but shrank in December
  • Bombardier holds update on CSeries aircraft
  • Bombardier nearly ready to flight test CSeries
  • Canada keeping up pressure on US for Keystone XL approval
  • FTG Aerospace to supply avionics to Rockwell Collins
  • SPPCA's new landing gear facility opening in Mississauga
  • Miners struggling with higher costs, lower prices
  • DART Aerospace re-branding itself to reach wider markets
  • GM investing $250 million at Ingersoll plant
  • Skilled labour shortage in world oil industry: report
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada announces helicopter engine contracts
  • Manufacturing the sole industry showing job losses in February
  • Canadian oil production up; producers turning to railways for shipment
  • Canadian business, except energy, had profitable Q4: Statistics Canada
  • Japex to buy into west coast LNG development
  • Russian leasing company orders 42 CSeries jets from Bombardier
  • Clean energy expected to surge as pv costs drop
  • Volkswagen to produce super-efficient hybrid