The SpaceX News Thread

Discussion in 'Techforge' started by gturner, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2004
    Messages:
    29,852
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Ratings:
    +27,800
    'Tis but a scratch!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. gturner

    gturner Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Messages:
    19,572
    Ratings:
    +3,634
    But it completely destroyed the Space X logo!
  3. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    one more time! (landing attempt this Sunday June 28.)
  4. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    More:



    THE WHY AND HOW OF LANDING ROCKETS

    Some of you may have been following our recent attempts to vertically land the first stage of our Falcon 9 rocket back on Earth.
    There was this attempt in January, followed by this one in April.

    [​IMG]
    These landing attempts move us toward our goal of producing a fully and rapidly reusable rocket system, which will dramatically reduce the cost of space transport.
    A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don't junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York. Yet when it comes to space travel, rockets fly only once—even though the rocket itself represents the majority of launch cost.
    The Space Shuttle was technically reusable, but its giant fuel tank was discarded after each launch, and its side boosters parachuted into corrosive salt water every flight, beginning a long and involved process of retrieval and reprocessing. So, what if we could mitigate those factors by landing rockets gently and precisely on land? Refurbishment time and cost would be dramatically reduced.
    Historically, most rockets have needed to use all of their available fuel in order to get their payload into space. SpaceX rockets were built from the beginning with reusability in mind—they have enough built-in fuel margin to deliver a Dragon to the space station and return the first-stage to Earth. That extra fuel is needed to reignite the engines a few times to slow the rocket down and ultimately land the first stage after it has sent the spacecraft on its way.
    In addition to extra fuel, we’ve added a few critical features to our Falcon 9 first stage for reusability’s sake. Our rocket has small, foldable heat-resistant wings called grid fins needed for steering the first-stage as it plummets from the edge of space through Earth’s atmosphere, cold-gas thrusters on the top of the first-stage that are used to flip the rocket around as it begins its journey back to Earth, and strong but lightweight carbon fiber landing legs that deploy as it approaches touchdown. All of these systems, while built and programmed by humans, are totally automated once the rocket is launched—and are reacting and adjusting their behavior based on incoming, real-time data.
    So, what have we learned from the most recent landing attempts?
    The first attempt to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic was in January, and while we came close, the first stage prematurely ran out of the hydraulic fluid that is used to steer the small fins that help control the rocket’s descent. The vehicle has now been equipped with much more of that critical fluid for steering purposes.
    Our second attempt was in April, and we came close to sticking this landing. Check out this previously unreleased, longer video from our tracking camera. It shows the stage’s descent through the atmosphere, when the vehicle is traveling faster than the speed of sound, all the way to touchdown.

    [​IMG]
    That controlled descent was successful, but about 10 seconds before landing, a valve controlling the rocket’s engine power (thrust) temporarily stopped responding to commands as quickly as it should have. As a result, it throttled down a few seconds later than commanded, and—with the rocket weighing about 67,000 lbs and traveling nearly 200 mph at this point—a few seconds can be a very long time. With the throttle essentially stuck on “high” and the engine firing longer than it was supposed to, the vehicle temporarily lost control and was unable to recover in time for landing, eventually tipping over.
    Last-second tilt aside, the landing attempt happened pretty much exactly as planned. Shortly after stage separation (when the second stage leaves the first stage behind and goes on to carry Dragon to orbit), cold gas thrusters fired to flip the stage to reorient it for reentry. Then, three engines lit for a “boostback burn” that slows the rocket and brings it toward the landing site.
    The engines then re-lit to slow the stage for reentry through Earth’s atmosphere, and grid fins (this time with much more hydraulic fluid) extended to steer the lift produced by the stage. Our atmosphere is like molasses to an object traveling at Mach 4, and the grid fins are essential for landing with precision. The final landing burn ignited, and together the grid fins, cold gas thrusters and steerable engines controlled the vehicle, keeping the stage within 15 meters of its target trajectory throughout the landing burn. The vehicle’s legs deployed just before it reached our drone ship, “Just Read the Instructions”, where the stage landed within 10 meters of the target, albeit a bit too hard to stay upright.

    [​IMG]
    Post-launch analysis has confirmed the throttle valve as the sole cause of this hard landing. The team has made changes to help prevent, and be able to rapidly recover from, similar issues for the next attempt, which will be on our next launch—the eighth Falcon 9 and Dragon cargo mission to the space station, currently scheduled for this Sunday.
    Even given everything we’ve learned, the odds of succeeding on our third attempt to land on a drone ship (a new one named “Of Course I Still Love You”) are uncertain, but tune in here this Sunday as we try to get one step closer toward a fully and rapidly reusable rocket.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    oops. that blowed up reeeal-good. :(

    total loss of launch vehicle about 2 minutes into ascent.

    I feel like a best friend just died.
  6. Ramen

    Ramen Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2004
    Messages:
    26,115
    Location:
    FL
    Ratings:
    +16,604
    I was reading the side-note about it being in Max-Q, the period of flight that exerts the most stress on the vehicle.

    Then boom. :(
  7. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260



    1. 7:37 AM - 28 Jun 2015
      SpaceX retweeted
      [​IMG]Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 2m2 minutes ago
      Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.

      626 retweets350 favorites
      Reply
      Retweet626
      Favorite350
      More



    2. 7:33 AM - 28 Jun 2015

      [​IMG]SpaceX ‏@SpaceX 7m7 minutes ago
      The vehicle experienced an anomaly on ascent. Team is investigating. Updates to come.

      1,320 retweets580 favorites
      Reply
      Retweet1.3K
      Favorite580
      More




    3. 7:21 AM - 28 Jun 2015

      [​IMG]SpaceX ‏@SpaceX 18m18 minutes ago
      Liftoff!! http://www.spacex.com/webcast
  8. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
  9. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    44,760
    Location:
    Spacetime
    Ratings:
    +46,628
    Overpressure event at Max Q?

    Something collapsed.
  10. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Wonderful, Loving Husband & Father

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2004
    Messages:
    50,635
    Location:
    Norphlet, Arkansas
    Ratings:
    +21,290
    It looked like a staging problem from what I could sea.
  11. Paladin

    Paladin Overjoyed

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Messages:
    44,760
    Location:
    Spacetime
    Ratings:
    +46,628
    I don't think it's staging. To me it looks like the upper stage bursts open, while the 1st stage continues normally.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 4 hours ago
    Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review. Now parsing data with a hex editor to recover final milliseconds.

    Should we send him an invite to TechForge™? I think you have it sussed.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  13. gturner

    gturner Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Messages:
    19,572
    Ratings:
    +3,634
    A strut that holds the helium tank failed under a 2,000 lb load, when it should be able to hold a 10,000 lb load. The strut was from an outside supplier.

    The helium tank apparently sits in the LOX tank, so when it broke loose it released a massive burst of helium that overpressurized the LOX tank.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  14. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    I've advised Elon he should consult with WF TF @Paladin in future.

    Here is a particularly forthright acknowledgement of failure and the return-to-flight plan.


    CRS-7 Investigation Update

    On June 28, 2015, following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, resulting in loss of mission. This summary represents an initial assessment, but further investigation may reveal more over time.

    Prior to the mishap, the first stage of the vehicle, including all nine Merlin 1D engines, operated nominally; the first stage actually continued to power through the overpressure event on the second stage for several seconds following the mishap. In addition, the Dragon spacecraft not only survived the second stage event, but also continued to communicate until the vehicle dropped below the horizon and out of range.

    SpaceX has led the investigation efforts with oversight from the FAA and participation from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Review of the flight data proved challenging both because of the volume of data —over 3,000 telemetry channels as well as video and physical debris—and because the key events happened very quickly.

    From the first indication of an issue to loss of all telemetry was just 0.893 seconds. Over the last few weeks, engineering teams have spent thousands of hours going through the painstaking process of matching up data across rocket systems down to the millisecond to understand that final 0.893 seconds prior to loss of telemetry.

    At this time, the investigation remains ongoing, as SpaceX and the investigation team continue analyzing significant amounts of data and conducting additional testing that must be completed in order to fully validate these conclusions. However, given the currently available data, we believe we have identified a potential cause.

    Preliminary analysis suggests the overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank was initiated by a flawed piece of support hardware (a “strut”) inside the second stage. Several hundred struts fly on every Falcon 9 vehicle, with a cumulative flight history of several thousand. The strut that we believe failed was designed and material certified to handle 10,000 lbs of force, but failed at 2,000 lbs, a five-fold difference. Detailed close-out photos of stage construction show no visible flaws or damage of any kind.

    In the case of the CRS-7 mission, it appears that one of these supporting pieces inside the second stage failed approximately 138 seconds into flight. The pressurization system itself was performing nominally, but with the failure of this strut, the helium system integrity was breached. This caused a high pressure event inside the second stage within less than one second and the stage was no longer able to maintain its structural integrity.

    Despite the fact that these struts have been used on all previous Falcon 9 flights and are certified to withstand well beyond the expected loads during flight, SpaceX will no longer use these particular struts for flight applications. In addition, SpaceX will implement additional hardware quality audits throughout the vehicle to further ensure all parts received perform as expected per their certification documentation.

    As noted above, these conclusions are preliminary. Our investigation is ongoing until we exonerate all other aspects of the vehicle, but at this time, we expect to return to flight this fall and fly all the customers we intended to fly in 2015 by end of year.

    While the CRS-7 loss is regrettable, this review process invariably will, in the end, yield a safer and more reliable launch vehicle for all of our customers, including NASA, the United States Air Force, and commercial purchasers of launch services. Critically, the vehicle will be even safer as we begin to carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.​
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. gturner

    gturner Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Messages:
    19,572
    Ratings:
    +3,634
    I think they might need to look deeper into slosh issues. There could be currents or pressure waves in the tank that were putting a lot more than 2,000 lbs force on the strut.
  16. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    They have a smoking gun:
    Data from more than 3,000 telemetry channels were analyzed, along with tracking camera footage and video from on-board cameras. When all was said and done, a strut failure was the most likely explanation for the mishap. And that was determined by acoustic triangulation -- locating the exact position of the break by analyzing sound from different sensors -- not from any definitive data in the telemetry stream.

    "At approximately 3.2 Gs, the strut holding down one of the helium bottles appears to have snapped and as a result, releasing a lot of helium into the upper stage oxygen tank and causing an overpressure event quite quickly," Musk said.

    The steel struts measure about two feet long and an inch or so thick. They are certified to handle 10,000 pounds of stress, but the failure occurred at a calculated load of just 2,000 pounds.

    Musk said the data were confusing because they initially showed a drop in helium pressure, which would be expected in a breach, "and then, somewhat strangely, a rise in the helium system back to approximately its starting pressure."

    "This is quite confusing, but we think what may have happened is that as the helium bottle broke free and twisted around, it may have pinched off that line to the helium manifold and restored pressure in the helium system but released enough helium into the liquid oxygen tank to cause the liquid oxygen tank to fail," he said.

    It was not clear whether the buoyant helium bottle might have shot up to the top of the oxygen tank, possibly damaging the structure, or whether it simply released enough helium to cause it to rupture. Either way, engineers believe, the failure of the oxygen tank triggered the rocket's destruction.

    Musk said engineers examined close-out photos to make sure the struts used in the rocket that failed had been installed correctly. No problems were found. But during tests to measure the actual strength of struts in the SpaceX inventory, one broke at less than 2,000 pounds. Microscopic inspection revealed abnormalities.​
  17. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    Almost time to try again: 8:29PM tonight. Watch it live.

    This mission also marks the first time SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on land.
  18. gturner

    gturner Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2014
    Messages:
    19,572
    Ratings:
    +3,634
    Live coverage might also be here:

  19. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    they've really kicked up their PR. The preflight show is informative and amusing...
  20. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    wall to wall geeks.
  21. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    Lots of talk about the lox. Do they burn kerosene or hydrogen?
  22. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
  23. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
  24. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    max q. no pictures from the craft...
  25. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    meco, separation, second stage ignition, pictures from 2nd stage.
  26. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    faring separation
  27. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    first stage boostback ignition...
  28. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    4 minutes to 1st stage "touchdown"
  29. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    good trajectory on 2nd stage.
  30. steve2^4

    steve2^4 Aged Meat

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,217
    Ratings:
    +5,260
    1st stage is...