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LIVE COVERAGE: FAILURE SpaceX Falcon 1 Launch

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:54 pm
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LIVE COVERAGE: FAILURE SpaceX Falcon 1 Launch 
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Post LIVE COVERAGE: FAILURE SpaceX Falcon 1 Launch   Posted on: Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:54 pm
LIVE COVERAGE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Launch



You can find the live coverage at:
http://spacefellowship.com/News/?p=6238


Feel free to join the SpaceFellowship Chatroom.

Please use this topic to discuss the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1.


Last edited by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:31 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Last edited by Klaus Schmidt on Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:42 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:41 am
damm... feed got cut.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:41 pm
What a sad day. It's been a year since previous launch and the whole system seems to failed in the same phase - stage separation. Or maybe not.
Hopefully they'll pinpoint the cause.

Ahh. It's a sad news...

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:35 pm
News is starting to trickle out with respect to the anomoly, but I have my own personal reservations about them.

AIAA Daily Launch - August 5, 2008 wrote:
NASA has spare solar sail, no plans for mission.
In continuing coverage from previous editions of Daily Launch, New Scientist (8/4, Courtland) reported on the failed launch of SpaceX's Falcon 1 on Saturday. According to Diane Murphy, vice president of marketing and communications, "If the second stage fired, the rocket may have been destroyed in mid-air. ... But the rocket may also have fallen back to Earth; the first stage carries a parachute and is designed to be recoverable." Regarding the lost NanoSail-D payload, principle investigator Mark Whorton of Marshall Space Flight Center said, "NASA has a spare sail, but no launch has been scheduled to send it into orbit."

SpaceX founder interviewed. Wired (8/5, Hoffman) conducts an interview with SpaceX founder Elon Musk, in which Musk states that the recent failure is "a design issue related to new hardware that has only flown on this flight. It was our first with the new Merlin 1C regeneratively cooled engine. The problem we think we've identified is a lesson learned and...won't make it on the big Falcon 9." Musk calls his oft quoted statement about quitting after three flights "the dumbest thing I've ever said. I meant that after three unsuccessful flights we might be abandoned by our customers." However, Musk said, SpaceX has "gained customers between missions, and so it would be silly to abandon the business." Musk also said, "We haven't gotten into orbit...but we've made considerable progress. ... It might take us one, two or three more tries, but we will. We will make it work."


I don't usually post a lot, but am always intrigued by marketing quotes on "anomalies". I thought this one was particularly interesting. In my opinion, there are so many things wrong with Diane Murphy's statement.

First off, the if statement about the upper stage rocket was premature and a poor attempt at covering up an issue. The vehicle would have to be designed without a separation detection system and/or it also fail in order for the upper stage to ignite. In that case, the vehicle was lost.

Second, if the upper stage did not ignite and the vehicle did not blow up in mid-air, then the telemetry system would have had to fail to prevent the ground crew from knowing what's going on. So, to not have that would be a failure in the separation, a possible upper stage ignition failure, as well as a telemetry failure all at once.

Third, the parachute comment was unnecessary. Let's assume the parachute was mounted to the side (I don't know the configuration, but many recoverable rockets have the chute in the nose), then the mass and balance of the entire stack would have exceeded the design specs of the first stage chute system. The descent wouldn't have been pretty, but again, telemetry should have been available.

If none of these are correct assumptions and the vehicle had multiple simultaneous failures, then I would have to conclude that it is plagued with poor engineering and it will be several more flights before I get my hopes up of a successful launch.

I just hope that SpaceX hasn't set the public perception bar so high that they spend more resources doing spin control than solving their technical problems.

I found a comment on Wikipedia that appears to have been written by an "insider":

The aft facing onboard camera showed the first stage violently recontacting second stage seconds after the separation. Several seconds later major portions of the second stage were torn away with the first stage. The second stage was observed to tumble and propellent covered the camera lens. Shortly thereafter a major explosion was observed and the video signal was lost by the receivers on the ground. Telemetry data continued as the second stage re-entered on a trajectory slightly north of the first stage. The second stage appeared to never ignite.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 05, 2008 8:35 pm
I'm afraid I can't help comment on the comments....

----------------------------------------------------------------------





Quote:
Second, if the upper stage did not ignite and the vehicle did not blow up in mid-air, then the telemetry system would have had to fail to prevent the ground crew from knowing what's going on. So, to not have that would be a failure in the separation, a possible upper stage ignition failure, as well as a telemetry failure all at once.


The if statement might have been an attempt at spin, but regarding any second stage ignition, have you looked into what type of system they have? It may not be readily available, but until you look at what actually is there, you are only speculating. We don't yet know if they lost telemetry at that point or not.

Quote:
Third, the parachute comment was unnecessary. Let's assume the parachute was mounted to the side (I don't know the configuration, but many recoverable rockets have the chute in the nose), then the mass and balance of the entire stack would have exceeded the design specs of the first stage chute system. The descent wouldn't have been pretty, but again, telemetry should have been available.


Not really. I don't know if SpaceX has made their recovery scheme public, but if it did manage to work, it would at least ease the impact, making recovery of the pieces easier. What it is or is not designed with is not publicly known, so you're still speculating.

Quote:
First off, the if statement about the upper stage rocket was premature and a poor attempt at covering up an issue. The vehicle would have to be designed without a separation detection system and/or it also fail in order for the upper stage to ignite. In that case, the vehicle was lost.


Again, we don't know anything about the actual design.


Quote:
If none of these are correct assumptions and the vehicle had multiple simultaneous failures, then I would have to conclude that it is plagued with poor engineering and it will be several more flights before I get my hopes up of a successful launch.


Your conclusion has no basis in fact. The early days of the space age saw many many vehicles fail on a regular basis.

Quote:
I just hope that SpaceX hasn't set the public perception bar so high that they spend more resources doing spin control than solving their technical problems.

I found a comment on Wikipedia that appears to have been written by an "insider":

The aft facing onboard camera showed the first stage violently recontacting second stage seconds after the separation. Several seconds later major portions of the second stage were torn away with the first stage. The second stage was observed to tumble and propellent covered the camera lens. Shortly thereafter a major explosion was observed and the video signal was lost by the receivers on the ground. Telemetry data continued as the second stage re-entered on a trajectory slightly north of the first stage. The second stage appeared to never ignite.
Quote:


First, its probably best they're doing this as openly as is reasonable. There have been too many snake oil salesmen claiming to be building launchers over the years. The wikipedia statement? Pure heresay. Not worthy of any other comment.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:03 pm
The Wikipedia statement is quite strange and makes no sense: Webcast was stopped at 2:12 into the flight. Staging should have occured a lot later.

These are the events: (Event, Seconds into flight, in minutes, Description)

Inertial Guidance 140 0:02:20 Vehicle switching to inerital guidance mode
Pressurize Stage 2 145 0:02:25 Stage 2 pressurizing.
MECO 158 0:02:38 Approaching Main Engine Cut-off - “MECOâ€

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:09 pm
I wonder why they have cut the webcast so early.

Anyway, SpaceX has the Falcon 1 launch video now online.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:23 pm
I would say there are a lot of reasons to cut it off early. There's no reason to have video coverage out in the public because it will cause speculation or highlight things that they may or may not want in the public.

SpaceX has set the stage about being open and public, but they are risking the negative impacts of being too open and public. I for one am glad that they are locking things down and although I strongly disagree with Diane's initial statement, I think Elon's follow-on statements have been handled much better.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:21 pm
The launch video above shows the whole flight until and including staging.
The webcast was cut at 2:12 into flight, the staging (and the problem) occured at 2:39 into flight, so the webcast was cut 27 seconds before the staging and the problem.

So why did they cut at 2:12 and said there's an anomaly when the anomaly occured nearly half a minute later?

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:28 am
Hello, Klaus,

perhaps the cut was due to a failure of the camera and nothing more could be cust while telemetry was still there.

Wat about that?



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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:09 am
The commentator said at T+2:22 that there was an anomaly, that's 10 seconds after the webcast cut but still a lot before the staging.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:52 am
I would still fall back on my original comments about all the things that don't add up. Although, my declared assumptions were retitled as speculation it doesn't change the fact that the timing of events do not support the initial public claims and still leave questions for those of us that are extremely curious and unable to just sit back and wait for the official results. I for one will continue to "guess" at what occured and will compare my "speculations" to the real outcomes as a mental flex on my own abilities; it's what separates the engineers from the enthusiasts.

With respect to the question about cutting the webcast early, I would "speculate" that they did detect an anomaly, (ie a red line was detected) and to prevent a negative public reaction, the feed was cut to protect the company and allow them to do a proper investigation and avoid a public focus on an event.

Going back to the previous failures, the public made conclusions and titled them as launch failures and it took a great deal of effort from SpaceX to point out that it was a test and although it did not achieve orbit, the flight was considered a good test. In other words, some flight test data is better than nothing and even when things go bad, having data as to why it goes bad is a good lesson learned to have during test and not operations.

SpaceX is getting better at balancing public opinion with good engineering and I suspect they had someone on standby at all times to cut the feed. Elon himself is finding that the public will latch onto a phrase made and attempt to hold him to it (e.g. 3 launches and I'm done...) the general public seems to not understand that design and development is an art with a little trial and error thrown in.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:10 pm
My guess is the webcast is buffered (delayed) by about half a minute on their end, so they saw the error at 2:39-2:43 into the flight, then cut the webcast at 2:12 "our time" to avoid speculation.


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