backtop


Print 55 comment(s) - last by Visual.. on Aug 29 at 4:11 AM

No injuries were reported following the mid-air explosion

You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.”
 
The SpaceX team suffered a setback yesterday when its experimental Falcon 9-R (F9R) reusable rocket experienced a malfunction during a test flight in Texas. According to SpaceX, an “anomaly was detected” during the test flight, and as a result, the flight was auto-aborted and the rocket F9R was instructed to self-destruct.

  [Image Source: News Channel 25]

 
In a statement released via Twitter, the company explained:
 
With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during testing is the purpose of the program. Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.
 
Luckily for SpaceX, they already have a second F9R already in production, so not all is lost when it comes to its reusable rocket platform.
 
When we last visited the F9R in May, the rocket made a test flight to a height of 3,280 feet, hovered in place for a short while, then slowly descended back to its launch pad.

 F9R test flight from May 2014
 
SpaceX’s “endgame” with the F9R tests (and subsequent prototypes) is to develop rockets that can launch payloads into space, then make a controlled landing back to Earth where they can be quickly refueled to partake on another mission. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk calls this concept “rapid reusability” and likens it to the airline industry where aircraft are refueled after a flight, and then sent to the next destination.
 
This makes more sense than scrapping the entire vehicle after just one flight and will lead to more cost-effective space travel according to Musk.

Sources: News Channel 25 [via Facebook], SpaceX [via Twitter}, Elon Musk [via Twitter]



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Better to Abort
By deltaend on 8/23/2014 12:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
Better to abort and self destruct on your own terms than to have an embarrassing crash back to Earth and subsequent detonation. That being said, let's hope that they remember to disable the auto destruct sequence before they begin to shuttle people to orbit. :)




RE: Better to Abort
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/23/2014 12:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Uh, Houston. We're going to make a minor course correction..."

**Boom**


RE: Better to Abort
By DiscoWade on 8/23/2014 12:34:35 PM , Rating: 3
And make sure the self destruct code is changed. The default sequence "Destruct Sequence 1A 2B 3C" is too obvious. Bender never changed his and it was a problem.
http://futurama.wikia.com/wiki/Bender_Bending_Rodr...


RE: Better to Abort
By inperfectdarkness on 8/25/2014 10:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
I nominate this for the destruct sequence:

Destruct sequence 1, code 1-1 A
Destruct sequence 2, code 1-1 A-2B
Destruct sequence 3, code 1 B-2B-3
Code zero zero zero. Destruct. Zero.


RE: Better to Abort
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/25/2014 2:21:43 PM , Rating: 2
"The bridge appears to be run by computer, it is the only thing speaking."


RE: Better to Abort
By therealnickdanger on 8/25/2014 3:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
"Get out! Get out of there! Get out!"

That always confused me - why wouldn't he lock onto them and beam them off the ship instead of wasting five whole seconds telling them to get off? Jump out the airlock, what?


RE: Better to Abort
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2014 3:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
The Bird of Prey has very little crew. I think he sent nearly every capable person away in the boarding party and left himself alone to run the bridge. I don't think he could have gotten to the right station and done the beamup himself in only 5 seconds.

Also the Bird of Prey seems to have very little in the way of automation computer control like Starfleet ships have. You never, for example, see Klingons issuing voice orders to the computer and having them carried out. Everything is done manually.

Or perhaps, it was a plot hole :) Your pick.


RE: Better to Abort
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2014 4:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
Actually upon further research, that's EXACTLY what happened lol

Kruge: "Take every last man . Form a boarding party armed heavily."


RE: Better to Abort
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/25/2014 4:22:56 PM , Rating: 3
Heh, the most surprising thing to come out of ST III for me (recently) was learning that John Larroquette played Maltz.

That was a serious WTF for me :)


RE: Better to Abort
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2014 4:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
No fuc*#$$ way!!?? Seriously!?

*furiously searches IMDB*


RE: Better to Abort
By delphinus100 on 8/26/2014 9:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
Someday, I should sit down and see if that's exactly as they did it in 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.'

But when I first saw ST-III, I was pleased that someone clearly did their homework, and tried to be consistent on this...and if so, in the last five seconds, the sequence cannot be aborted.


RE: Better to Abort
By coburn_c on 8/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: Better to Abort
By M'n'M on 8/23/2014 4:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it's a good thing but you do learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. To me it appeared that Grasshopper tilted over about 12 - 14 secs into the flight and then never fully recovered. Flight termination happened shortly there after.


RE: Better to Abort
By Mint on 8/23/2014 4:53:52 PM , Rating: 2
This wasn't Grasshopper (a much smaller rocket). It was F9R-Dev1.


RE: Better to Abort
By M'n'M on 8/24/2014 11:39:48 AM , Rating: 2
Ooops, you are correct sir !


RE: Better to Abort
By delphinus100 on 8/26/2014 8:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
I remember explicitly telling a friend a month or so ago, that unlike many experimental vehicles, Grasshopper got to end its days retired intact, and not as a smoking hole in the ground.

Its successor...clearly not so much.


RE: Better to Abort
By Mint on 8/23/2014 4:56:22 PM , Rating: 3
SpaceX's president (Glenn Shotwell) said this about their previous reusable rocket program:

“In some ways we’ve kind of failed on the Grasshopper program because we haven’t pushed it to its limit... We haven’t broken it.”


RE: Better to Abort
By Keeir on 8/23/2014 10:29:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
a reusable rocket blowing up in a test is a good thing


Its not a good thing.

Its just better than the alternatives.

An out of control rocket could do serious damage over a wide range. Even one fatality or maiming would not look good for "cut rate" launch company.

A video of an out of control rocket is also not a good thing.


RE: Better to Abort
By tanjali on 8/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Better to Abort
By weaponzero on 8/24/2014 1:28:27 AM , Rating: 3
First of all, this is only a first stage. They were pretty much done with it and were doing a stress test to see the limits. When an anomaly happened, it activated the self destruct. This is a good thing because they can study this data to make sure it doesn't happen when they are using it for real outside a test zone.

They were already almost done with the Dev-2 unit so the loss of the Dev-1 is irrelevant.


RE: Better to Abort
By gamerk2 on 8/25/2014 8:47:49 AM , Rating: 2
Well typically, you'd disengage the crew capsule via some abort stage, then self-destruct the rocket.

I'm interested to see if the abort was due to some form of damage incurred from the first launch that went undetected...


RE: Better to Abort
By CharonPDX on 8/26/2014 2:29:01 AM , Rating: 3
Well, in manned rockets, the "abort" command causes the manned capsule to eject from the rocket first (see "SuperDraco engines" for Falcon/Dragon) *THEN* causes the rocket to destruct.


Boom!
By chromal on 8/23/2014 10:07:16 AM , Rating: 5
So long, 9-R mk I! Thanks for all the cool youtube videos!




3D printed chamber as a cause?
By Silvergoat on 8/23/2014 2:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
Weren't they going to be testing a 3D laser/electron gun sintered combustion chamber? I wonder if it were on this launch.




RE: 3D printed chamber as a cause?
By Bubbacub on 8/24/2014 3:51:10 AM , Rating: 3
No that's for the draco 2 chamber. A much smaller, much lower pressure, much lower thrust and isp hypergolic engine for the dragon 2 capsule launch abort system/landing system.


By fteoath64 on 8/24/2014 6:53:12 AM , Rating: 2
Just "an anomaly" is the explanation ?. It could be any sort of malfunction or predicted limits to steering while on lift-off phase. Sure detonation is a safe and easy thing to do. I am sure it is part of the "testing regulations". One wonders why not have parachutes deployed and bring it down to the ground. That might sound like a good idea but it is actually very dangerous for recovery people since any part might explode later or leak dangerous/poisonous liquids.
It appears their design involves 9 or so small rocket units grouped into a large base. This means regulating each one of these to stabilise the crash on ascend is easier but the required thrust must be maintained for stability. Once instability sets in, it is usually nothing anyone or thing can be done. We have seen a range of Russian rockets detonated just after launch in similar situations. At least it did not explode in the launchpad like in the early days of rocketry!. Go SpaceX but provide more details of issues so others have a clearer view of the tech and it safety measures.




By bhaberle on 8/25/2014 8:25:28 AM , Rating: 3
SpaceX actually said that they will investigate the cause of the issue and report back with an explanation.


Wow
By Hammer1024 on 8/26/2014 2:05:38 PM , Rating: 4
Folks, I'm a test guy and a chief engineer. I find a lot of the comments here appalling.

Look, we engineers do not do tests to make pass/fail decisions, that's done during system validation... NOT test!

Testing is done to learn how well a device functions in the real world. We use it to learn whether our assumptions in the design are valid or not.

During design, we do our best given the time, budget and features required: As an aside as a chief engineer, I usually tell my program officer to "Pick two: time, budget or features". One never has enough time or budget for all three.

Tests are NOT pass fail and never will be; validation is.

We make design modifications from lessons learned during test. When we fail at validation, we look for new jobs since the business guys always blame us at that point.

I applaud the work that Space X is doing at the top of my voice! You should too, instead of snarking.

It seems they have a business team that gets engineering, and engineers who get time & budget pressures.

So unless the bottom falls out money wise, they'll get the job done... with me cheering the whole way!

They ran a test, had a flight anomally and used the auto-destruct system to keep the vehicle from causing serious issues... like death!

Is it spectacular? Heck yes, but the destruct, which is on all development rockets, missiles and unmaned systems, did it's job.




Curse you Perry the Platypus!
By kamk44 on 8/25/2014 1:18:38 PM , Rating: 3
Next time don't let Doofenschmirtz wire everything through the self destruct button.




Rockets are tricky?
By bhound56 on 8/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Mint on 8/23/2014 4:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
What a useless mess of a post.

This was a stress test of a development platform for a reusable rocket, genius. The rocket is put in a compromised position to see if the control systems can recover and land it.

ULA, Lockheed, Arianespace, etc aren't even 1% as accomplished as SpaceX in this revolutionary endeavor. You know what their solution is for this "tricky" problem? Let the rocket burn up in the atmosphere.

FYI, this work concerns landing the first stage AFTER the payload is in orbit.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By bhound56 on 8/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: Rockets are tricky?
By wordsworm on 8/23/2014 11:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
How many payloads have you sent into space?


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By StevoLincolnite on 8/24/2014 6:05:03 AM , Rating: 3
I like to pretend at-least daily.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By rlandess on 8/24/2014 1:25:14 PM , Rating: 2
Pure ignorance.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Arkive on 8/26/2014 12:02:52 PM , Rating: 1
If you followed Musk to any degree you would know he is known for his candor and humor, even in the face of serious issues. None of this really matters though. SpaceX's record when it counts (contracted launches) is 100%, which is better than any other contractor or govt agency out there can claim.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By jarman on 8/23/2014 10:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
ULA, Lockheed, Arianespace, etc aren't even 1% as accomplished as SpaceX in this revolutionary endeavor. You know what their solution is for this "tricky" problem? Let the rocket burn up in the atmosphere.


Dude, get off the internet. You're making a fool out of yourself. SpaceX has done some interesting work, but they have a long way to go before they can match the proven track record of a ULA.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By weaponzero on 8/24/2014 1:33:20 AM , Rating: 2
I suggest you get off the internet until you learn to READ!

quote:
ULA, Lockheed, Arianespace, etc aren't even 1% as accomplished as SpaceX in this revolutionary endeavor . You know what their solution is for this "tricky" problem? Let the rocket burn up in the atmosphere.


This endeavor is reusable landing on earth of the first stage. So he is right, ULA, Lockheed, Arianespace is not even 1% as accomplished as SpaceX in this because they never bothered to invest R&D in it. (They don't want their rockets reused because most of their money comes from cost plus, not fixed costs)


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Mint on 8/24/2014 12:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you.

And excellent point about cost plus.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By jarman on 8/24/14, Rating: 0
RE: Rockets are tricky?
By flyingpants1 on 8/25/2014 2:31:26 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
The reason it's not done commercially is that the scar-weight of the extra fuel, batteries, and staged avionics make the rockets inefficient.


I laughed out loud. Yeah, so inefficient that they can't do it. And the alternative is throwing the entire rocket away each time.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Mint on 8/25/2014 11:22:53 AM , Rating: 2
Buddy, SpaceX isn't simply developing technology to return boosters to earth. Its goal is returning them to LAND, and in fact to the very location they launched from.

Did you ever bother to note that neither ULA, Orbital Sciences, S.P. Korolev (Soyuz), nor Arianespace are using that NASA/DARPA technology? Retrieving and refurbishing boosters that landed in the sea barely saves you anything, if at all, especially solid boosters which are separated far earlier than Falcon 9's first stage.

The reason it isn't done commercially is nobody knows how to do it.

If you can directly return a $50M rocket intact near the launch pad as opposed to disposing of it, you don't care about scar-weight of extra fuel. Reusing three first stages in a Falcon 9 Heavy would be far cheaper than disposing a regular Falcon 9.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2014 12:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
Rocket's aren't that expensive though. So I'm not sure there's even a point in doing this. Especially if the R&D costs to do it, and added complexity of equipment, wipe out your "savings" anyway.

If you look at a typical rocket it costs about $500 per kilogram of dry mass. About the same as a Boeing 747!

You people are really dilluding yourselves into believing nobody else has looked into this or worked on it. It's just that they determined it's not worth it. Going into space is complex and expensive enough as it is, without trying to make the rocket itself self-landing.

Also there is a VERY real safety factor here that could be cause for concern.

quote:
If you can directly return a $50M rocket intact


But that's just the thing. $50M is pocket change for this sort of thing, and you've spent several times that just trying to develop this technology. So savings don't enter into this until many many flights. If ever.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By ChronoReverse on 8/25/2014 2:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
Um, it costs more than $500 per kg to launch and that's assuming a fully loaded rocket to maximize efficiency.

Even the Soyuz is like $4850/kg


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Reclaimer77 on 8/25/2014 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
That's including the fuel. For obvious reasons, I didn't include the fuel because there's no reason to. I don't care what type of rocket you use, reusable or not, escape velocity must be reached regardless.

That's what "dry mass" means...


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Mint on 8/26/2014 4:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
Look at Soyuz specs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_(rocket_family)
4 boosters (3784kg dry mass each), a 6875kg second stage, and a 2355kg third stage. They take 280,000kg of fuel, costing under $300k (~$1/kg for RP1 kerosene, $0.20/kg for liquid oxygen).

Yet they cost $50M per launch, and this is the lowest launch cost in the world alongside SpaceX. I don't know what their overhead/profit per launch is, but the rest of that cost is for the 24,366kg of dry mass.

So it's over $1000 per kg of dry mass for Soyuz, and much more for ULA and other pricier rockets.

And no, $50M is not chump change when you're spending it every single launch. A reusable Falcon 9, according to the SpaceX president, would get costs down to $5-7M per launch.


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Shadowself on 8/26/2014 5:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Rocket's aren't that expensive though. So I'm not sure there's even a point in doing this. Especially if the R&D costs to do it, and added complexity of equipment, wipe out your "savings" anyway.
Then why is the typical launch cost on the order of $100 million? They ARE expensive. Sure, I'd like to get a launch for $20 million. You can do it if you're launching very small satellites to low Earth orbit (e.g., with the Pegasus or such), but putting something into Geostationary orbit is another matter entirely. Today, you can't throw a brick into GSO for less than about $35 million (and that's sharing the launch with others to defray costs). I know. I've actually negotiated several of these contracts. Have you?

You can get a sub $20 million launch to GSO if you're willing to go wherever they place you, you're small enough, and you're willing to launch on a "mass available and space available" basis, i.e., you might launch this month or not until next year. Otherwise, if you want to have control over your own launch aspects, even a small, tertiary payload will cost you $35 million or more.

quote:
You people are really dilluding yourselves into believing nobody else has looked into this or worked on it. It's just that they determined it's not worth it. Going into space is complex and expensive enough as it is, without trying to make the rocket itself self-landing.
Lots of people have worked on this issue. Most of them were funded by governments with the associated idiotic overhead and paperwork. SpaceX is doing things for half (or less) of the cost of the typical government funded process simply because they are doing it as a commercial venture and just selling the service to the U.S. Government and to commercial customers. Why else do you think a Falcon 9 is priced at $56 million versus the Atlas/Delta that are in the $90 to $100+ million range for the equivalent launch capability.

Also, I've known the guys from many of these organizations (both technical staff and management [up through CEOs]), e.g., Kistler, Pioneer Rocketplane, etc. Typically the cost run ups are as much due to idiotic management decisions as due to technology issues. I doubt you'd believe the lunacy of some of those management decisions.

quote:
But that's just the thing. $50M is pocket change for this sort of thing, and you've spent several times that just trying to develop this technology. So savings don't enter into this until many many flights. If ever.
First, $50M is NOT "pocket change" it almost the *price* (not cost) of the Falcon 9 to geo-transfer orbit. Besides, R&D costs on these things is always several multiples of a single bird. Always has been, always will be. (Well, maybe in 100 years things will be different, but not for the foreseeable future.)

SpaceX is trying to change the industry. They did it first with the Falcon. They followed that up with the Falcon 9. They expect to do so again with the Falcon 9 Heavy. Their hope is to do so yet again with the reusable craft.

I hope SpaceX keeps pushing the envelope. The fact that I can fill a Falcon 9 to GSO for $56 million rather than $90+ million for the other U.S. launch services makes my life a lot easier. (And, no, going off shore for these launches is not really an option.)


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Visual on 8/29/2014 4:11:11 AM , Rating: 2
In a single post you call rockets cheap and 50M chump change and also call going to space expensive... way to go.
Then in your next post you claim that the fuel, which costs about $1/kg, rises the rocket's cost from your stated $500/kg to almost $5000/kg.

And yes, big surprise, R&D costs are only made worth it after many flights, thanks for letting us know that fresh bit of info. Well, "many flights" is exactly the plan for this. It's not aimed to just replace the space shuttle's puny 3-5 launches per year. It's long term goal is to commercialize space flight in general, which used to be over a hundred launches per year back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and despite its reduction to half at the start of this millenium is on the rise again today and may easily reach thousands of flights per year in the next decade if programs like this are successful in reducing costs.

To top it off, you are diluting your delusions with some wordsmithing... way to go, mr. "dilluding"!


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By jarman on 8/25/2014 6:49:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The reason it isn't done commercially is nobody knows how to do it.


No... you're still missing the point. Building the avionics, TVC, and guidance software to soft-land a stage from the launch site is not some mythological leap of technology that only SpaceX had the intelligence to pull off. The design engineering (and risk) has been well understood as long as the US has had a space program.

The issue is that the trade between performance, cost, risk/reliability, and efficiency has never paid off. Would you be willing to bet the cost efficiencies of your entire rocket fleet on a landing system that at best might be 80-90% reliable?


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Shadowself on 8/26/2014 5:27:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The design engineering (and risk) has been well understood as long as the US has had a space program.

Creating reusable launch vehicles that do not require MAJOR rework for months and many, many tens of millions of dollars IS tricky. Saying otherwise is burying your head in the sand. NO ONE has done it yet. (The Space Transportation System [official name of the U.S. Shuttle] does not count as a large fraction of it was not reusable (main tank, SRBs, etc.) and the refurbishment schedule took many months at many, many 10s of millions cost.) Yes, a lot of the conceptual technology has been out there for years. However, there's a huge series of steps between a conceptual design and a flight proven launch vehicle.

quote:
Would you be willing to bet the cost efficiencies of your entire rocket fleet on a landing system that at best might be 80-90% reliable?

Absolutely. I'm talking to SpaceX to put up a series of geostationary satellites for me.

Further, so you think we should have stopped using the Atlas series back in the early 80s when, for a time, they had a launch success rate of about 2 out of every 3 (~66% reliable at the time)?


RE: Rockets are tricky?
By Mint on 8/26/2014 3:37:44 PM , Rating: 2
It most certainly is not well understood. It was all theory until SpaceX came along, and we can only understand that so much without actually building it.

Prior to SpaceX, there hasn't even been a single prototype built to land a rocket after reaching hypersonic velocity, so what's your basis for judging things like risk/reliability?

Even your out-of-the-ass assumption of 80-90% isn't anywhere near low enough to trash the economics of reuse. Fuel for a launch is less than $500k.


Find another means...
By wordsworm on 8/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: Find another means...
By weaponzero on 8/24/2014 1:30:05 AM , Rating: 5
Making airplanes and cars were tricky, imagine people decided to do something more safe or cost effective instead?


RE: Find another means...
By delphinus100 on 8/24/2014 3:55:55 AM , Rating: 2
Tricky, but there's no real alternative to rockets for getting into orbit...


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki