NASA busts booster booster
Confiscates BLOODY BIG rocket after Web sale
An RL-10 rocket booster – the kind that just lifted the Martian Space Laboratory on its trip to the Red Planet – has been confiscated by NASA after being offered for sale on the Internet.
New Scientist says NASA’s Office of Inspector General has revealed the confiscation in its semi-annual report.
The Pratt and Whitney engine is reportedly worth around $US200,000, and while NASA’s happy to sell off some surplus kit to the public, it doesn’t like the deep secrets of its launch technology ending up in private hands. The engine, NASA says, is covered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
NASA doesn’t identify either the individual who is now out of pocket for buying the rocket, nor the auction site the rocket was sold through.
“The owner advised investigators that he purchased the engine from an individual who had received it from an unknown NASA employee,” the NASA report states.
While the RL-10 is still in use, the engine that escaped into the wild was built in the 1960s. Back then, it was the first to be powered by liquid hydrogen and pumped out 15,000 pounds of thrust. Now, as then, it’s used as the motor for the Centaur second stage rocket.
New Scientist says space kit collector Robert Pearlman identified the booster as having appeared on eBay in 2010. ®
There are sooo many things to be upset about in this article
First off.... NASA's not wanting booster tech to get out into the world.... NASA doesn't actually build things..Lockheed builds things, NASA's just acting as a government schill for their corporate owners and justifying their continued existence as the primary agency responsible for stopping anyone else from having a space capability and nobbling private companies with withdrawn contracts when they can't stop them legally.
Secondly. 1960's technology, No doubt theres been updates but if a 1960's engine still has secret bits they haven't really been busting a gut trying to improve the things have they? And as has been said, unless someone happens to have 300 cubic feet of liquid oxygen and hydrogen handy, they won't be getting far with launching it.
NASA and big Aerospace just seem more and more like a for-profit conglomerate trying to keep a monopoly by doing as little as they possibly can while going slow on solutions.
But it's 50 year old tech!
I think every country in the world has seen schematics of this old beast. They've had half a century to send in spies, honeytrap engineers and managers, buy blueprints and parts on the black market, pay-off employees and contractors...
Do they think some crazy person is going to use this part and strap a dirty bomb to it and launch it towards a populated area? I wouldn't worry about that unless it's known that ebay has recently sold a 40ft long metal cylinder, a large supply of chemicals, a guidance system, a DIY self-assembly launch pad, and who knows what other parts are needed.
Darwin awards the loser
Some knobend was probably going to bolt it to the back of his pickup truck anyway...