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SpaceX Stress Test

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Thu Feb 9, 2006 10:03 pm
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SPACEX FALCON 1 STRESS TEST (not actual launch):

A forum topic is available over here.
If you have more information, I don’t have posted over here, feel free to share with me in the forum.

Unloading the fuel
Propellant is being dumped back into the storage tanks. After the vehicle is safe and not holding fuel, the engine will be reset and the data analyzed.

This is probably a two hour process.

Auto-Sequence aborted
The system stopped the count again.

I’ll update once I know more.

CountDown 3: T-Minus 1 minutes

Fuel tanks are loaded.
Auto-sequence has begun.

Trouble-shooting the countdown
It’s amazing to watch this process.

Whenever something alerts the system, it automatically halts the countdown.
Within minutes, the control room crew huddle around data and discuss their options. It seems to be a discussion of whether to agree with the computer that something is off, or to decide that the computer faced an anomoly (not something that normally occurs).

The amount of data they see and how quickly they see it is absolutely remarkable. The team in Texas (where the engine is tested) and LA (where it was built) see the same data. While the key decision people are on Kwaj, technology enables the entire team to be part of the troubleshooting process if needed.

Something that would take months or even years back in the 70’s, can now be done several times in one morning. In just the past two hours, we’ve had two countdowns and we’re now in another after just a 45 minute troubleshooting period.

Pretty incredible.

T-Minus 15 minutes
We are running the count again. No changes to the sequence.

Countdown will Restart
It seems like the engine did ignite, but the system stopped the count before it could fire.

They’re going to restart the count and take it to engine firing.

T-Zero and Count Held
We got to T-Zero, everything was a go.

A few seconds before the engine ingited, the count was held.
They are now safing the vehicle and we will find out soon if they will restart the count and take it all the way to ignition.

T-Minus 3 minutes
We are 3 minutes out and everything’s good.

The erector has been lowered.

T-Minus 10 minutes
Fuel tanks are topped off and the count is moving smoothly.

The count is on again

We are just about to go into the count again.

Count will be pick up at 8:30am (five minutes).

This is what it sounded like happened:
There seemed to be an incorrect step in the sequence. When power was transferred to the rocket batteries from the ground batteries, there was a reset of one of the controllers that caused them to call for a hold on the count. Not a big deal, but enough for them to hold the countdown and check everything.

Image Summary
Satellite is having difficulty, so I’ve finally got some images up.

While we wait for the decision on restarting the count, I’ll give you a quick summary of what’s been happening:
7am Kwaj time. The rocket is almost fully fueled. T-Minus 60 minutes.

The control room (Elon on the left)

The engine at T-Minus 10 minutes

The erector moving out of the way at T-Minus 5.

Currently the erector has been put back in the upright position. We are waiting on the decision to re-cycle the count (start the count again at a designated T-Minus point).

T-Minus 1 and CountDown on Hold
Something came up during auto-sequence. The count is on hold.

T-Minus 5 Minutes to HOLD DOWN FIRE!
We’re in the control room and the Wet-Dress is now 5 hours into it.

T-Minus 5 minutes to the hold-down fire.

A wet-dress is where we fuel up the rocket and run through the entire count-down. Most times, we don’t do a hold-down fire. In this case, we’re taking it all the way to zero count-down, and starting the engine. The engine fires for about 3 seconds before aborting. At 5 seconds, it wants to lift off, so it’s pretty important that everything not only work correctly, but also abort correctly.

The stressful part of a wet-dress and hold-down fire, is that the only positive outcome is the status quo.

In the previous two launch attempts, we never made it all the way to a hold-down fire, so in essence, if we make all the way to T-Zero, we’re ahead. A hold-down fire was successful back in November, so it has been done, just not when it counts.

[images not uploaded due to satellite connection trouble]

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