The explosion, not the institute

"CATO" can stand for a number of things, but in rocketry it means an explosion very, very early in the flight.

Opinions differ about whether it stands for "Catastrophe At Take-Off" or something else, but whatever the exact term is, everybody agrees that it involves lots of fuel burning much too early, for one reason or another.

CATOs are often very entertaining, for people who do not have to pay for them.

I remember watching an excellent documentary about Peenem√ľnde that included quite a lot of period footage of V2 tests...

...though obviously not with a voice-over nearly as good as this.

On the subject of voice-overs - if you have the choice of using the word "catastrophe" or the word "anomaly" in a situation like this...

...the former is better.

(And how about that dubbing of the World's Oldest Explosion Sound over the real thing, huh? I bet that show was produced by the same people who do the "World's Most Severely Padded Police Videos" series.)

When big (unmanned) rockets blow up, it's got a kind of... corporate... feel to it. You're not personally connected to the action and feeling sorry for whoever's losing his job over it.

When amateur rocketry enters CATO land, though, there's more room for sympathy. Some individual person usually invested considerable time and money in that thing, and wh-BANG, there it all goes to nowhere.

For some reason, though, I find this one quite funny:

This one doesn't have the same comic timing, though:

One kind of rocket malfunction that can segue from CATO status into a general flight problem is the "blow-by", in which in which exhaust gases get out through the top of the motor as well as the bottom.

Which is bad.

4 Responses to “The explosion, not the institute”

  1. Noodles Says:

    Watching these is so much better than doing work! Similarly, I'm fond of "extreme plane landing" videos - ridiculous amounts of crosswind and so forth :D

  2. DeeMan Says:

    Quite topical at the moment...

    http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?aid=351316&ssid=27&sid=ENV

    That said, strapping expensive electronics to what is 4/5ths of a controlled explosion is bound to make for the occaisional expensive fireworks show - which i'll happily watch, because it's someone elses money.

  3. corinoco Says:

    Americans get much better rockets than we do here. That said, we still manage to have some fun.

    That Delta-go-BANG is a classic 'anomaly' leading to a 'major problem'. I did like the 'no-one was injured' bit - well, no-one on full-time staff anyway. I wouldn't have wanted to be one of the contractors in those sheds!

    Does anyone know the source (probably some sfx vinyl disc or 8-track from the 60's) of the 'ker-p-woar-shwoaaar' sound? It sounds like a simple gunshot slowed right down and delayed a bit to me.

  4. corinoco Says:

    Actually the third film looks more like a simple Maximum Dynamic Pressure failure that even gets the big guys.


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