According to the New York Times, Falcon 1 Flight 3 failed to reach
orbit. Reports say that around two minutes into the flight the rocket was seen
to be oscillating before the live signal from an on-board camera went dead and
the rocket was lost.
Mission Manager Max Vozoff and launch commentator said, "We are hearing
from the launch control center that there has been an anomaly on that
vehicle." SpaceX's Elon Musk wrote in a blog post on Saturday at the
SpaceX website, "It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit
on this flight [Falcon 1, Flight 3]. On the plus side, the flight of our
first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was
picture perfect. Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation,
causing the stages to be held together. This is under investigation and I
will send out a note as soon as we understand exactly what happened."
Musk continued writing, "The most important message I’d like to send
right now is that SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward.
We have flight four of Falcon 1 almost ready for flight and flight five right
behind that. I have also given the go ahead to begin fabrication of
flight six. Falcon 9 development will also continue unabated, taking into
account the lessons learned with Falcon 1. We have made great progress
this past week with the successful nine engine firing."
Falcon 1 Flight 3 is not the first failure for SpaceX. DailyTech
reported in March 2006 that the first
Falcon 1 flight failed 20 seconds after liftoff. It was later determined
that the failure of the rocket was due to a fuel line leak. In March 2007, DailyTech
reported that the second
Falcon 1 flight had failed about five minutes into launch.
The payload on Falcon 1 Flight 3 was varied and included the Trailblazer
satellite developed for the Jumpstart Program from the Department of Defense's
Operationally Responsive Space ORS Office. Two small NASA satellites were also
onboard Falcon 1 Flight 3 including PRESat -- a micro laboratory for the Ames
Research Center -- and the NanoSail-D -- a test project to study propulsion for
space vehicles using an ultra-thin solar sail.
The New York Times reports that the rocket was also carrying
the ashes of 208 people who wished to be shot into space. Among the
cremated remains were those of astronaut Gordon Cooper and actor James Doohan
of Star Trek fame.
SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch facilities are on Omelek Island and part of the
Reagan Test Site (RTS) at the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Central
Pacific. SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket was designed from the ground up in
Hawthorne, California and is a two-stage, liquid oxygen and rocket-grade
kerosene powered vehicle.
SpaceX says that the first stage of the Falcon 1 is powered by a single
SpaceX Merlin 1C Regenerative engine and the engine was flying for the first
time aboard Falcon 1 Flight 3. The second stage of Falcon 1 is powered by a
SpaceX Kestrel engine.
quote: The New York Times reports that the rocket was also carrying the ashes of 208 people who wished to be shot into space.
quote: Sundancer, planned for launch early in the next decade, will be the first module built by Bigelow Aerospace capable of manned operation. It would support a crew of up to three for varying mission durations and eventually provide the backbone for the first commercial space station. It follows the successful and continuing missions of the unmanned Genesis I and Genesis II, which continue to test and verify systems for future commercial space habitats.
quote: The Atlas booster has been used for decades to launch government and commercial payloads to a wide range of orbits and its reliability record is at the top of the space industry. As the simplest, most robust, and most reliable version of the Atlas V family, the 401 configuration has been selected by Bigelow to launch its space complex. This launch vehicle, compliant with the Federal Aviation Administration's stringent requirements for unmanned spaceflight, will undergo modest system upgrades that will augment existing safety features prior to flying the first passengers. During the operational phase, which is currently planned to begin in 2012, up to 12 missions per year are envisioned, increasing as demand dictates.
quote: Whoa, whoa...stop moving the bar. Your original claim was that there was no possibility for further innovation. Now you want a working mass market model immediately.
quote: Secondly, Falcon 9 is fueled with cheap kerosene, not the Proton's expensive and difficult to work with hydrazine variant.
quote: Thirdly, the Proton rocket had over two dozen failures when it was first being developed. It's safety record of *today* is excellent, but when first starting out, it bombed worse than the Falcon.
quote: Eh? Composite materials can be both lighter AND stronger than conventional construction. Also, weight savings can be had in many other areas, such as control electronics and wiring. This doesn't affect safety one bit...and it can mean payload increases of up to 100%. Furthermore, regardless of fuel isp, things such as nozzle design and total thrust can greatly affect total payload.
quote: Nuclear thermal rockets don't emit any radiation in operation.
quote: First is the increase in specific impulse possible from exotic fuels -- yes, they're too difficult to use with current technology...but technology improves.
quote: A weight savings of only 20% would roughly double that payload.
quote: It's like Horatio Nelson claiming his 28-gun wooden sailing ship is the pinnacle of naval technology.
quote: Stuff and nonsense. A nuclear thermal rocket separates its reaction mass from the nuclear fuel; there is no release of radiation except by catastrophic failure.
quote: NERVA rockets would still emit punitive amounts of radiation via neutron absorption and breeding of tritium.
quote: SpaceX's Falcon 9 lifts 9.9 tons with a mass of 325 tons.
quote: It is. Hydrogen consists to 0.015% of deuterium. And that will readily transmutate into tritium via neutron capture. And yes, tritium is a severe issue for any LWR, and more so for CANDU reactors. Under normal operation those plants will emit 50-50 tritium via the water markup system, and radioactive noble gases. You can AFAIK look up the relevant numbers on NRC.gov . These are not small amounts.Any maintenance on primary loop systems in LWRs can only be done after purging the relevant system with inert gas. And even after that, one would sustain the yearly allowable radiation dose within 5min while wearing an air tight "space suit".Hydrogen is evil. Pure evil at 1400K. It will react with anything at those temperatures. NERVA rockets were designed with the hope that the core would not severely degrade within the short time span that they would operate in.Do you want to know what really killed NERVA?The test stands. Building a close loop, leak tight exhaust coolant loop, with sufficient radioactive shielding and then scrubbing that stuff clean would have already cost in the 50s billions of dollars. Please, do not underestimate the dangers of radioactivity.
quote: there's the simple expedient of making a launch simpler and cheaper. With less than 5% of a launch being fuel costs, there's no reason a launch couldn't be far cheaper than it is today, even assuming the same payload and engine performance.
quote: But no one is "starting from scratch". Even for a company like Space, nearly all their design is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. In 20 years or so, private launch vehicles will have evolved quite a ways from their public counterparts, but for now, those designs are very similar.
quote: Startups will pay for cutting corners and learn not to. Its all business.
quote: More importantly, a failure of a government launch costs taxpayers millions or even billions...a failure of a private launch costs us nothing.
quote: Take a look at the list of Shuttle missions some time...does another launch to "study the effects of microgravity on the human body" really justify the program or the expense?
quote: Furthermore, working out the true total cost of a Soyuz launch is essentially impossible, as the R&D costs are already amortized in, and were done by the Soviet government in a time where cost accounting wasn't done. The figures here are simply "incremental" costs of using an already established launch platform.
quote: Nasa was far more efficient, because it was a young department with a real goal...and without an entrenched bureaucracy that builds up over time in any government department.
quote: Compared to that, the funding a company like SpaceX receives is incomparably insignificant.
quote: The problem is that "jack of all trade" shuttle, which never came close to meeting its original design goals, and is regularly launched for no reason at all but to justify its own existence. Take a look at the list of Shuttle missions some time...does another launch to "study the effects of microgravity on the human body" really justify the program or the expense?
quote: Exactly. And when a private firm only five years old is already cost-competitive with the Russians
quote: But leaving out obvious costs like the design costs specifically for the shuttle itself is equally silly. We've spent $150 billion on the shuttle program, and it's had 115 launches. That's $1.3 billion per mission. End of story.
quote: Correct cost accounting was *not* done for major Soviet military projects. In fact, such accounting was essentially impossible, due to the command nature of the Soviet economy. Ask any economist or defense analyst specializing in Soviet-era information.
quote: Oops, in 1963, when NASA was as old as SpaceX is now, they hadn't launched a series of moon missions; they'd done nothing but launch a man into LEO for a day. Admittedly more than SpaceX has accomplished sure...
quote: Quite obviously, the statement intended to suggest a substantial percentage of GDP. Apollo at its height was consuming 4% of the total federal budget. Compared to that, the funding a company like SpaceX receives is incomparably insignificant.
quote: And yet you're still missing the point. No one is trying to compare the achievements, the glory, or the relative difficulty of the two programs.
quote: We're simply pointing out that, once private enterprise matures a bit more, it will be able to operate at a far lower cost structure than a government bureacracy. That's it.
quote: Are you willing to bet that none will? I'm willing to wager any sum you wish up to $1000 of my own money that SpaceX will succeed
quote: Err, no. Falcon deviates in several ways from any previous launch platform. Arianespace's launches of Soyuz, on the other hand, are using a perfect clone of the old Soviet design.
quote: Total costs / total missions = cost per mission. Nothing could possible be simpler. That's standard cost accounting, used by every major government and corporate body in the world.
quote: Now you're just being childish again. The costs and launch count I quoted was current as of the end of 2006. The figures are not "wrong".
quote: Disagree all you want; the figures are from NASA's own official budget requests.
quote: Here you go: http://www.space.com/news/shuttle_cost_050211.html
quote: You misunderstand my statement Arianespace is using a clone of the Soyuz launch system, which is based on a decades-old Soviet ICBM design. They aren't modifying the design in any way.
quote: > "I am not betting on anything" Doesn't sound like you have a lot of faith in your position.
quote: Shuck and jive all you want: when you spend $150 billion to pay for 113 launches, the per-launch cost is roughly $1.3B.
quote: You're still trying to claim some sort of parity between what Ariane has done -- which is buy a completed launch system from someone else -- to SpaceX, who has designed their own rocket, using both existing and new technology. The two cases aren't comparable, plain and simple.
quote: It doesn't matter. If they don't make the deadline, the customer will be reimbursed costs plus damages. SpaceX is still selling a service that is cost-competitive with other launch services.
quote: What does this have to do with anything? SpaceX is bearing those costs. Until and unless they begin to raise their rates beyond those of other launch services, the issue of how much they pay for insurance is moot.
quote: These companies are innovating tremendously, especially given their tight budgets. Considering most of these firms are only 5-10 years old, the amount of progress they've made is astounding. Look at where NASA was in 1963, 5 years after its inception.
quote: . They have to scale up by several orders of magnitude in order to make orbit, which means multi-stage liquid fueled rocket - which means money money money.
quote: Bigelow is simply paying Russians to use converted R-36 ICBMs that have been in service since 1967.
quote: These private companies aren't doing anything that hasn't been done 40-50 years ago by governmental agencies, although they're pretty good at making it appear as if they're doing something, I'll give you that...
quote: I guess you haven't been keeping up. The White Knight Two is specifically designed to be able to launch smaller payloads in to orbit from altitude, avoiding a lot of the "money money money" of huge multi-staged liquid or solid fueled rockets. That, along with the suborbital craft. It's still an impressive technical achievement, and one that was done with very little money.