SpaceChampion

SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

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This is a few months old, but most of you might have not seen this: here's a vine video of SpaceX's first attempt of their Falcon 9 rocket's 1st stage designed for reusability landing on the drone ship Just Read The Instructions. (The other drone ship they have as a floating landing pad is called Of Course I Still Love You, both homages to Iain M Banks' Culture novels.)

 

 

 

 

Close, but a spectacular miss. Before seeing this I was wondering why there was so little debris left on the drone ship -- most of it appears to fly off laterally fairly intact until hitting the ocean and sinking. But despite that it was fairly on target.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday is the second landing attempt. The first attempt was short on hydraulic fluid in the hypersonic grid fins, so the fins couldn't be used long enough to help the reignited rocket slow down and steer to the pad. They've double the amount of hydraulic fluid for this time.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday the Falcon 9 is launching a Dragon to the ISS, on it's 6th of 12 cargo flights. Dragon is also design for reusability, capable of landing at the pad being constructed for it at Kennedy Space Centre. Why we haven't seen a Dragon land on the drone ship yet, I'm not sure, but that's something that needs to be done before NASA will allow a landing at KSC. It's scheduled to land in the ocean after it returns from the ISS in about two weeks after it arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

Usually all Space launches can be watched from live streaming on their site spacex.com. Launch is scheduled for 4:33pm EST.

 

 

 

 

 

It could be historic. This one thing will make all the difference to whether we can afford to build structures in space at 1000 times less cost -- such as fuel depots -- and then finally take on settling the solar system.

 

 

 

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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This is a few months old, but most of you might have not seen this: here's a vine video of SpaceX's first attempt of their Falcon 9 rocket's 1st stage designed for reusability landing on the drone ship Just Read The Instructions. (The other drone ship they have as a floating landing pad is called Of Course I Still Love You, both homages to Iain M Banks' Culture novels.)

Close, but a spectacular miss. Before seeing this I was wondering why there was so little debris left on the drone ship -- most of it appears to fly off laterally fairly intact until hitting the ocean and sinking. But despite that it was fairly on target.

Monday is the second landing attempt. The first attempt was short on hydraulic fluid in the hypersonic grid fins, so the fins couldn't be used long enough to help the reignited rocket slow down and steer to the pad. They've double the amount of hydraulic fluid for this time.

Monday the Falcon 9 is launching a Dragon to the ISS, on it's 6th of 12 cargo flights. Dragon is also design for reusability, capable of landing at the pad being constructed for it at Kennedy Space Centre. Why we haven't seen a Dragon land on the drone ship yet, I'm not sure, but that's something that needs to be done before NASA will allow a landing at KSC. It's scheduled to land in the ocean after it returns from the ISS in about two weeks after it arrives.

Usually all Space launches can be watched from live streaming on their site spacex.com. Launch is scheduled for 4:33pm EST.

It could be historic. This one thing will make all the difference to whether we can afford to build structures in space at 1000 times less cost -- such as fuel depots -- and then finally take on settling the solar system.

Gotta love anybody who quotes Iain Banks.

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So if anybody cares, weather delayed the launch a day, and it did launch today on schedule. Dragon made it up safely, Falcon 9's first stage had a beautiful landing on the drone ship, but wobbled and tipped over.



Vine video: https://vine.co/v/euEpIVegiIx


Tweet: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/588142879245238273



Just need a bit of optimization on the software, and they got this! Plenty of opportunities for further landings this year.



ETA: Spectacular photo moments before attempted landing.


Edited by SpaceChampion

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So if anybody cares, weather delayed the launch a day, and it did launch today on schedule. Dragon made it up safely, Falcon 9's first stage had a beautiful landing on the drone ship, but wobbled and tipped over.

Vine video: https://vine.co/v/euEpIVegiIx

Tweet: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/588142879245238273

Just need a bit of optimization on the software, and they got this! Plenty of opportunities for further landings this year.

I care and I enjoy reading about this stuff.

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Wow, awesome. Despite not being a success, it is pretty encouraging. Do we know yet if the rocket is in a fit state to be reusable?


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I haven't seen anything that suggests the first stage of Falcon 9 was recovered. I think it's at the bottom of the ocean now. Unless you mean the system at a whole? I think they need an actual recovery before that can be declared. Sounds likely though. Next attempt might be on land (see below). But they need to do it reliably.



Dragon has been safely at the ISS for a week, should be back in a few weeks for a a splashdown. I tweeted a question at Musk about whether they'll try landing Dragon on the drone ship before trying a pad landing at KSC, but didn't get an answer. I got to wonder about what their long term use of the drone ship will be since the ultimate goal is to abandon ship landings in favor of pad landings. I thought for the Falcon Heavy (which is 3 Falcon 9 cores straps together) they'd try landing the 2 side cores + Dragon at KSC, but the center core could land on the drone ship since it'll likely be too far down range to make it back to KSC. But in their animations of the FH launch/landings, it shows all cores landing at their pad at KSC. I think the animation (which is only 2 months old) must be wrong and they'll update it with the drone ship in the near future, assuming they can make drone ship landings actually work. But if the animation is right, why put so much effort and resources into the drone ship?



However, SpaceX's president Gwynne Shotwell suggested they might land the next Falcon 9 first stage on land, before trying another drone ship landing. It should be vastly easier on their landing software. The comment makes clear though that drone ship landings would continue to be part of SpaceX's plans. The issue with landing on the drone ship was apparently due to a slower than expected valve used to throttle the engines.



The next launch is scheduled for April 27, for a commercial satellite to synchronous orbit, which won't leave enough fuel to attempt a landing. In the future those types of payloads will be launched with Falcon Heavy, having plenty of fuel for a recovery of the boosters. Greater than 50% of the launches for SpaceX on the schedule are actually for commercial companies, or commercial contracts with foreign governments to launch their telecom and weather satellites. So the public perception that SpaceX is wholly reliant on NASA is false. If it had never got those NASA contracts, SpaceX would have taken several more years to get as far as they have so far, but they would get there.



Next landing attempt will be June 19th for their next cargo run to ISS. That's the one where SpaceX might attempt a pad landing.



Between now and then in early May will be a pad abort test of the escape system for the crewed version of the Dragon, sticking a Dragon on a truss mock up of the Falcon 9. If you get NASA TV, you'll be able to watch it live.



The abort system is wicked cool, using the SuperDraco landing thrusters as the escape rockets, instead of using a separate rocket system attached to the nose cone that pulls the capsule to safety as has been traditionally done with older rocket designs, in which after launch the abort rocket is useless within seconds of launch so it's ejected. SpaceX's abort system is called a pusher system and is useful for the entire duration of the flight, can even abort from orbit if necessary. SuperDraco are way more powerful versions of the existing Draco thrusters on the Dragon used for in-space maneuvering. As a landing and abort system, it'll give the Dragon helicopter-like hovering capabilities for fairly gentle landings on the ground. An in-flight abort test will be conducted in California at Vandenberg later this year too, using an actual Falcon 9 instead of a mock up.



Then there is this video.


Edited by SpaceChampion

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1st Pad Abort test for Dragon was successful, though apparently a bit underpowered according to a comment on this video. [youtube]


It should have burned a little longer and fly further out to sea. Landed a bit too close to shore, which is why the flight director said "hold tight everyone!" thinking there was a chance it might come down on land. I'm guessing one or two of the 8 SuperDraco engines didn't fire or shut down early.



They'll do an in-flight abort test next, unless they feel the need to redo this one.



ETA: Yep, SpaceX says one SuperDraco was "very slightly" under thrusting. Only 4 of 8 are actually needed for an abort, so I assume they'll fix the issue and go right to the in-flight abort test asap.


Edited by SpaceChampion

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Rocket engines are extremely complicated and prone to failure. As a kid I watched enough of the on TV go bad before the Apollo missions. Practice makes perfect.


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Falcon 9 with Dragon making a cargo run to the ISS this weekend, and they're going to attempt a barge landing of the first stage. I'll dig up and post the details to watch a video stream if the weather looks good for a launch.


Edited by SpaceChampion

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It's looking good to launch today SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with an ORBCOMM satellite aboard.  SpaceX is going for landing of the first stage on the ground instead of on the drone ship.  Launch is at 8:29pm EST tonight if all goes well, and the stream is hosted by the Wait But Why guy here:  http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/spacex-launch-live-webcast-and-explanation-1-21-15.html

And the direct from SpaceX stream here.  http://spaceref.com/live/spacex-webcast.html

Update:  Historic achievement unlocked!  First stage landed!  The feed was spotty, but here's a gif.  https://twitter.com/elakdawalla/status/679114565901090816

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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My family and I watched the live stream. This is really neat, although I suspect they will need to do a lot more to make it work reliably.

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I was lucky to see the rocket from my front porch as I live in Florida. We saw the launch and the booster stage ignite and descend (two points of life one going up and one going down.) it was awesome!

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We were inside the sonic boom cone a few times when the Shuttle would come in from the Gulf side. There's nothing like it, especially at 2:00am when we were unaware. 

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Excellent news. Now we just need to see how well they do the turnaround before the next flight with the landed hardware - that will be the real key to getting the costs down with reusable rocket stages. 

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Excellent news. Now we just need to see how well they do the turnaround before the next flight with the landed hardware - that will be the real key to getting the costs down with reusable rocket stages. 

The landed one is going for engine static fire testing (on its side, held down so it doesn't actually fly anywhere) just to analyze the condition of the engines and rest of the booster, then probably a museum somewhere.  So it'll have to be the next one they landed that'll refly.

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