Words have meaning: Exploded View

Working on a space mission, you get used to seeing a LOT of technical drawings. These include schematics, interface diagrams, flow charts, and, of course, the

Exploded View

To those of you who are unfamiliar with the nomenclature for technical drawings, these are the graphics that depict the hardware spread apart in pieces. If you were to move the pieces into place next to the adjacent pieces, you would see what the finished product looked like intact.

These drawings are excellent for understanding how a particular item (for example the bearings in your wheel mechanism) fit into the larger structure. They are a very useful tool in engineering almost any type of technical hardware. Say the phrase “exploded view” to anyone who does space mission operations, and you see a rather interesting reaction. They cringe.

One of the last promotional products sent out before a mission launches is an “exploded view” of the observatory sitting on top of the launch vehicle. I love receiving these, because they are hard evidence of the mission in its final form. I have three of these posters, all framed and mounted like hunting trophies on my wall. However, I refuse to call these diagrams by their proper name: Launch vehicle, exploded view.

Place an observatory, with 5-15 years of many people’s lives invested in it, place it on top of a ticking time bomb filled with liquid explosives, and then send out a lovely graphic called an “exploded view” and see what kind of response you get. In the Mission Operations Center (MOC) we tend to call these graphics the “launch vehicle poster.” It’s descriptive enough to know what you’re referring to, without using the dreaded “E” word.

My rockets may always blow up. But that doesn’t mean I WANT them to…


One Response to “Words have meaning: Exploded View”

  1. Oh so right. Never say that E word when it’s on the pad. Patience, patience. Soon enough you’ll get to the exploded view, one way or another.

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