2114: Launch Conditions

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Launch Conditions
Though I do think the tiny vent on one of the boosters labeled "O-RING" is in poor taste.
Title text: Though I do think the tiny vent on one of the boosters labeled "O-RING" is in poor taste.


An image of a rocket (presumably a Long March 5) with a progressively larger white cloud around it is shown, but no external object for scale is visible until the third panel. It is then revealed to be a model or miniature when Ponytail walks into the shot.

The dialog reveals the miniature rocket is a domestic humidifier appliance, using its plumes of water mist to mimic the appearance of the exhaust plume of a full-size rocket.

Modern rocket launches are backed by a Sound Suppression System avoiding damages to the rocket itself, the payload, or humans inside. This system drops vast amounts of water into the exhaust of the rocket engines and the water vaporizes immediately. This vapor mainly interrupts the sound reflections from the ground. This reduces the sound to a level the rocket can withstand but also produces a big cloud of water mist. The cloud at the ground consists mostly of water and not the exhaust of the rocket engines. This article shows how the system works: NASA's Incredible Sound Suppression System Prevents Rockets from Exploding (interestingengineering.com).

Some rockets use liquid hydrogen as a fuel, especially for upper stages, so steam is the combustion product.

The title text references the failed o-ring that led to the disintegration of the Challenger Space Shuttle. The o-ring in question failed to expand at freezing temperatures, resulting in a leak of gas around the edges that was visible as a small vapor plume on the recording. The launch was pushed to a day with lower temperatures than the engineers had planned for. For the humidifier to vent the water mist from this opening is indeed in poor taste, even though the model does not resemble a shuttle.


[A rocket sits on a launch pad and the tower to the left has retracted its access arms. The engines seem to have just started firing and a small cloud at the bottom is visible.]
[The rocket still sits on the pad but the cloud is growing and extending to both sides on the ground.]
[Ponytail's head, much larger than the rocket, appears above the rocket on the right. The cloud covers the full ground and hides a bigger part of the rocket.]
[Zoom out. Ponytail stands behind a pedestal with a rocket model on top and the cloud is all around the bottom of the rocket and below.]
Off screen: It's still pretty dry in here.
Ponytail: I love the new humidifier, though.


This comic was posted the day after the death of Peter Cosgrove was reported. He was known for photographing many Space Shuttle launches.

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Queue a boost in hits for "rocket shaped humidifier" pages. 19:26, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

I've already done a search to see if this exists. Shouldn't take long for the internet to come through. Andyd273 (talk) 19:34, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

I've checked but all i can find is the steam coming out of the top, not the bottom 19:39, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

I'm thinking this would be a little challenging to create, because liquid water falls out of openings that under it. Humidifiers also usually have a larger reservoir of water than that rocket. I'm thinking the simplest approach would be to place a model rocket on top of a normal humidifier. Maybe you could also make a rocket with a mini-humidifier and a tube that goes from the top to the bottom, or that plugs into a faucet rather than having a reservoir.
I looked closer at the comic, and you can see the body of the humidifier under the rocket. It may actually be a model rocket on top of a normal humidifer. 21:40, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

How disappointing. All of the examples a quick search brought up emit mist from the tip, instead of the exhaust. 19:38, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Yes! I want one! (A PROPER one, with exhaust.) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

But then the water reservoir might be limited to what fits into the rocket (see the comments above). Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 06:36, 21 February 2019 (UTC)
Seems like making the base the humidifier and the rocket just a model on top would get around that problem. Tarcas (talk) 14:59, 25 February 2019 (UTC)
Surely the most elegant solution is to just build a model rocket with a miniature hydrogen engine? -- 10:13, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
Maybe use the launch platform as a reservoir and pipe the water to a humidifier in the rocket? 15:18, 14 November 2019 (UTC)

What does it mean if a rocket is venting steam from its nose, anyway? 19:59, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

You are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today. 20:18, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Nothing Good 20:02, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

What people need is a "pea soup - micro rocket " fog machine and a model rocket. However that would set you back over 400 GBP or USD and do nothing much to humidify the room, being a type of vape machine. I suppose you could take a vape machine and add a fan to mimic a user inhaling, and exhaust into the model for less. Still not humidifying, but the voice off days "still dry in here" RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 20:45, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Whoops! I updated the Feynman story at the same time as somebody else removed it. It's currently back with changes. Maybe I'd better find a better citation to see how accurate it is. It's notable that it was Feynman who found the o-ring issue mentioned in the comic. 20:46, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

The Feynman story is from part II of "What do YOU care what other people think?: Further adventures of a curious character". 21:24, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks. I found it on library genesis ( http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=EA0CB0CF9A75A62E9F407CF1EE915F23 ) and my thirdhand telling was indeed rather inaccurate. 21:38, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
Removed the story and referenced wikipedia. But Feynman was a badass to stand up to the NASA administration and his silent peers so expressively. 20:59, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Anyone else notice someone wrote (after the bit explaining how rockets take off) "This is, of course, preposterous, as rockets are a fake child's fantasy created by Jewish NASA employees"? 21:25, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Trolls, they’re gone now. Netherin5 (talk) 17:44, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

O-Ring seemingly is potentially offensive in another way, too: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=o%20ring Gunterkoenigsmann (talk) 06:36, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Oh wow. I'd never think of this one. 13:22, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Hmmm, I have always assumed that the water pumped to the base of the launch pad was intended to cool the exhaust so it won't destroy the concrete of the exhaust trench. But it's there to suppress sound? Well, one learns new things all the time... -- 09:01, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Here's a link! NASA Page162.158.74.201 18:35, 26 February 2019 (UTC)

Doesn't anybody think it looks like the rocket in 2107: Launch Risk? Should this be part of a series with that or what? --

Is the bit about rockets not being real supposed to be some kind of joke? 17:32, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

It’s been removed, and probably not. It’s weird sometimes.Netherin5 (talk) 17:34, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

I recommend removing the BDSM comment, even with the "unlikely" disclaimer, unless Randall has at some time in the past made a similar reference. "O-Ring" and "Ring of O" are just not similar enough, and the *likelier* reference to the Challenger disaster is too strong. Why detract? Or is there an actual Randall-BDSM thing? 21:39, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

I agree, there is no basis in the comic for that interpretation. The O-Ring as part of a real rocket disaster makes sense, the BDSM similar name is strictly accidental. There would have to be something in the comic, or a recurring theme in the comics, or some related current event in the news for it to be worth a mention. -boB (talk) 22:16, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

Would it be worth noting that some rockets use liquid hydrogen as a fuel, producing water as the combustion product. Liquid Hydrogen--the Fuel of Choice for Space Exploration 03:31, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

At first I thought that in the third panel Ponytail was of gigantic proportions, rather than the rocket being a miniaturized model. This misconception was clarified by the fourth panel, however... 22:26, 27 February 2019 (UTC)

Which kind of rocket?[edit]

A small rocket, with two or four boosters (so probably not a Proton) which are tapered at a 45 degree angle (which rules out the Angara series) towards the body, but away from the top (which means it's probably not American) and payload (which rules out the Ariane series), and a demarcated section for the payload faring (which seems to point to the Long March 5). Coupled with the fact that nearly everything is made in China, this makes me think this is a sly "everything is made in China" joke.


Isn’t this a tribute comic? SilverTheTerribleMathematician (talk) 03:49, 29 December 2022 (UTC)