Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA To Send SpaceX Resupply Capsule To ISS Despite Technical Problems

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the show-must-go-on dept.

NASA 71

An anonymous reader writes "Despite a critical backup computer failing on the ISS Friday, an unmanned SpaceX rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral at 4:58 p.m. Monday with more than 2 tons of supplies for the space station. From the article: 'The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided to proceed with its resupply mission, despite technical problems with its computer in the International Space Station (ISS), as it needed to deliver necessary supplies.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Open the pod bay door HAL (3, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | about 7 months ago | (#46747551)

There's some risk involved but missing the launch window for supplies could be a greater risk (and spoilage time, etc;)

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (5, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46747761)

Yes. The "obstacle" causing the delay was a problem with a backup unit, while the primary is still functioning fine. They had originally scheduled a spacewalk to fix the backup, but presumably, in the event of a failure, they could just "park" the Dragon a convenient orbit to await repairs. So they're better off launching now instead of waiting for the repairs.

Sounds good to me... I just want to see another Falcon fly... ;-)

And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 7 months ago | (#46747945)

And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

I've seen the footage of their initial propulsive tests (awesome) but had not realised they were planning a full blown test following a proper mission so soon. Really looking forward to seeing that!

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (4, Informative)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46747993)

IIRC, they're not trying to land this 1st stage on land, instead they're going for a "soft splashdown" in the ocean. But if they get good "numbers" from this attempt, they will probably try a "dry" landing in the near future.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 7 months ago | (#46748059)

Ah, ok, that makes good sense. Hopefully it all goes well and we'll see a dry, and soft, landing soon.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (3, Informative)

Megane (129182) | about 7 months ago | (#46748363)

I think they also want to try to recover the stage. Normally they break up because of the stress of sub-orbital re-entry or from hitting the water. (The Shuttle SRBs were designed to take the stress of splashdown.) If this works, it would stop and hover just above the water, then cut out the engines and flop over. This one might not be reusable thanks to salt water, but this is only one test on the way to the final goal.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 7 months ago | (#46749517)

...which is, of course, the elimination of the moon people.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 7 months ago | (#46750049)

...which is, of course, the elimination of the moon people.

What did they ever do to you to deserve annihilation?

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 7 months ago | (#46750451)

they are Moon people. Not Earth people. Kill em all I say.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46753101)

They know what they did.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46758591)

They terrorized Boston. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 6 months ago | (#46759755)

"Investigators were not mollified by the discovery that the devices were not explosive in nature, stating they still intended to determine "if this event was a hoax or something else entirely". Though city prosecutors eventually concluded there was no ill intent involved in the placing of the ads, the city continues to refer to the event as a "bomb hoax" rather than a "scare"."

Hmm.. yes, marketing pretty much == terrorism. .. but what the investigators really meant was: "fuck it--we wanna blow something up!"

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46749839)

Last launch was also a test of the recoverable first stage. No landing legs last time, though. First stage came down, but when it began hover, it spun out of control.

SpaceX theorized that if it had had the landing legs to stabilize it, it wouldn't have augured in, so they're repeating the test with landing legs. It's still going to dump into the ocean, but hopefully it'll hover properly before they dump it.

If things go well this time, next launch should be the recover the first stage on land test. Which ought lower the already ridiculously low SpaceX launch prices by a factor of five or so....

wanted to recover (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | about 7 months ago | (#46753105)

FYI they wanted to recover but had difficulty getting permits to do so seeing as this is the first time ever. The agreement reached was if they can do it over water first, then allowed to do land next.

It's important to realize they're attempting to land a rocket backwards, which requires carrying extra fuel, which means if something went wrong on landing, there would be a rocket full of propulsives out of control landing somewhere in FL or CA.

Re:wanted to recover (1)

Calinous (985536) | about 7 months ago | (#46753987)

They must have extra fuel due to the "launch with only 8 out of 9 engines working" - when flying with 8 engines, they need more fuel to accelerate as they have lower impulse. Also, the engines' output might vary somewhat, so they most certainly have excess fuel. I'm not sure if all this excess fuel is enough for a successful landing or they might need more...

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

idji (984038) | about 7 months ago | (#46747971)

I just want to see the Falcon land!!!

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 7 months ago | (#46747989)

And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

My understanding is that they're going to attempt to "land" the first stage on the ocean surface. If it works as intended the stage will hit the water at low speed and it will be perfectly vertical at the time of impact, which would then indicate that they could have landed it on dry land if they had tried.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 7 months ago | (#46748315)

presumably, in the event of a failure, they could just "park" the Dragon a convenient orbit

It's an operational hassle, to be sure, but I wonder if part of Elon Musk is hoping for just that opportunity. The Dragon capsule gets more flight time, and the chance to demonstrate significant orbital changes, start/restart of the engines - all on NASA's dime!

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748887)

>

Sounds good to me... I just want to see another Falcon fly... ;-)

And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

here you go [blogspot.com]

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748895)

This is actually their second attempt at demonstrating the stage recovery landing system. The first attempt at it failed when the booster got into an uncontrollable roll and all the fuel was forced away from the pump intakes by the centrifuge effect. No fuel in the pump -> no propulsive landing.

They're hoping to fix it this time by using the aero cover on the landing legs as a sort of stabiliser fin.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46751187)

This will be the third attempted recovery. A parachute attempt broke up on re-entry, and an earlier rocket breaking attempt broke up on splashdown iirc. They're content with baby steps, as the primary mission is the launch. They expect a RTLS landing by the end of this year at the absolute earliest.

Re:Open the pod bay door HAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748743)

Who cares about cargo, SpaceX is finally going for a full test of the grasshopper concept on this launch. They are going to attempt to bring first stage down softly - on water, but still. Today we can finally see a step forward in bringing down the orbital launch costs - main bottleneck for spacetech, that nobody has bothered to solve for decades.

Not allowed to play with Russia (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 months ago | (#46748773)

Prolly cause Obama doesn't want NASA to play with the Ruskies anymore.

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

mmell (832646) | about 7 months ago | (#46749449)

Unfortunately, he doesn't have a choice - unless he can find enough spare parts to get an STS (shuttle) flying again in the next few days.

Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

Beta Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749709)

"Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?"

Because they broke up and killed their crew one time in sixty, were getting on for forty years old, and required major overhauls if they were to continue flying. Not to mention that the engineers who actually designed them had mostly retired.

Re:Beta Sucks (0)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 7 months ago | (#46749927)

Because they broke up and killed their crew one time in sixty

Yeah, we wanted something more reliable, like the Soyuz, which only killed the crew twice in 120 flights, and failed its mission only nine other times in 120 flights.

Unlike the Shuttle, which killed its crew twice in 135 missions, and failed its mission no other times in 135 missions....

Beta Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46750889)

If I remember correctly, Soyuz hasn't killed anyone for longer than the shuttle was flying. They're also cheap to replace, whereas any more shuttle losses would have made the program impossible to continue; one shuttle was usually undergoing planned maintenance, so that would only have left one to actually fly.

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 7 months ago | (#46750265)

It was a catch-22 situation, philosophically Democrats hate the Industrial-Millitary complex, and philosophically Democrats, (like most Americans) support the troops. It's pretty hard to hurt the Industrial-Millitary complex without hurting the troops, yet NASA is a pretty good suragate for the Industrial-Millitary complex as a lot of the subcontractors are the same and no troops to worry about. Of course I'm probably giving too much credit and they really were that stupid.

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 7 months ago | (#46753243)

Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

It was a catch-22 situation, philosophically Democrats hate the

What do the Democrats have to do with cancellation of the shuttle?

The program was cancelled under Bush; NASA stopped ordering parts, production was shut down. And Bush supported the Constellation abomination, even though it went completely against his own plan's (VSE's) guiding principles, drastically delayed any shuttle replacement, was inherently unsafe, and... argh... Anyway, Obama added an extra shuttle flight to extend the program, using up the last reserves of parts, and tried to end Constellation and redirect NASA towards commercial HSF.

I don't think Obama has any interest in space flight, he probably considers it a waste, and certainly the Democrats in the Senate created the SLS-zombie out of the rotten corpse of Constellation; but the Dems had nothing to do with cancelling the shuttle.

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 7 months ago | (#46750691)

Because another one blew up, and that replacement technology probably wouldn't be ready before the sun turns red giant.

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 7 months ago | (#46753301)

Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

Because NASA's primary contractors couldn't design a simple light-weight Soyuz-like capsule to go on Atlas V for less than a couple of billion dollars and 4 years development.

And they couldn't design Version 2 of the Shuttle without turning it into a ridiculous beyond-the-bleeding-edge SSTO wank-fantasy (NASP/VentureStar/DeltaClipper...) Every time NASA got permission/funding to develop a Shuttle replacement, they screwed it up. Over the last 30 years, they lost so much engineering experience, they couldn't even design a capsule or mini-spaceplane to service the ISS.

Cancelling the shuttle outright was meant to force them to "focus" on a practical solution.

Instead, NASA came up with Constellation...

Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46754033)

Congress repeatedly dangling funding in front of them then pulling it away when they reach for it repeatedly didn't help.

The Dude is in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747561)

Apparently the Dude has taken over NASA...

Kerbal Space X (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 7 months ago | (#46747563)

despite technical problems

Well... there are "technical problems." and there are "TECHNICAL PROBLEMS!!!! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

Re:Kerbal Space X (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747689)

To put a finer point on the above. There are "technical problems" and then there are problems from lack of supplies.

Hopefully this episode of "go fever" is from a valid risk v. benefit calculations and not from the need to demonstrate some independence from Russia to congress.

Re:Kerbal Space X (1)

Megane (129182) | about 7 months ago | (#46748381)

I'm sure it's just the AE35 unit again. Give it a good whack with a hammer and it'll be fine.

Re:Kerbal Space X (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46748799)

I'm afraid I can't do that.

Landing legs (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 7 months ago | (#46747673)

I wonder how confident they are of a successful launch, given that they've never launched with the 'production' landing legs attached (albeit, stowed for the ride uphill). NASA probably doesn't care if the first stage shreds itself upon reentry, but they'll care all right, if the landing leg interferes with the launch somehow...

Re:Landing legs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748803)

Didn't they have dummies on some previous launch? If so i see little reason why real ones would interfere. As far as uphill part of the trip is concerned, they are same as dummies.

Re:Landing legs (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46754165)

And if they care, they'll do what?

I'm not rocket scientist (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 7 months ago | (#46747695)

It's almost as if the problem doesn't prevent them from taking remedial actions!

Hoping it all goes well for them. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46747763)

But I sure wouldn't want to be the guy who insisted the operation proceed if it does not.

Should we suppose they are sophisticated enough at this stage in the game to have already assigned the mission task for designated scapegoat?

Re:Hoping it all goes well for them. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46754169)

There's not a lot to go wrong here that can't be corrected. Other than the usual stuff all missions to ISS face.

They like hard western cash. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 months ago | (#46747781)

"Wel'll just pay Russa for flights and save money. What could possibly go wrong?"

Re:They like hard western cash. (2)

necro81 (917438) | about 7 months ago | (#46748361)

American flights, Russian flights ... all made in Taiwan! [source [youtu.be] ]

WHOSE technical problems? (5, Informative)

Thud457 (234763) | about 7 months ago | (#46747815)

please note, the technical problems are on the ISS and have noting to do with any Space X equipment.

Re:WHOSE technical problems? (1)

jfengel (409917) | about 7 months ago | (#46748011)

Thanks. The summary has a spectacularly ambiguous pronoun.

Re:WHOSE technical problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749485)

From the article: 'The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided to proceed with its resupply mission, despite technical problems with its computer in the International Space Station (ISS), as it needed to deliver necessary supplies.'"

Yes, it is difficult to read. It took me a couple tries. But I think it is possible to disambiguate the pronoun based on common sense. The "in the International Space Station (ISS)" clause can't be referring to NASA or to the resupply mission, since neither are located inside the ISS. It must refer instead to "it's computer." Since the computer is in the ISS, it's obviously not on the SpaceX rocket.

Re:WHOSE technical problems? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 7 months ago | (#46755815)

Uhh, both "its" refer to NASA - its resupply mission and its computer in the ISS. Is that what you tried to say in an overly complicated way?

Well done (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46747869)

Another conservative privatization disaster. Well done lads.

Re:Well done (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748033)

Pretty much this. NASA was dead the moment the free marketroids got their claws into government, starting with the directed-by-showmen-rather-than-scientists Challenger disaster. SpaceX is the gateway drug - the first cheap hit. The dream of space travel was fun while it lasted, boys, but now it's been ruined by the love of money.

Re:Well done (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748213)

Another? The DMZ for New Jersey has been 500% better ever since privatization. Depends on what the service is, and who gets the bid.
And isn't SpaceX a prime example of how a private company can further or carry on space travel? They're just getting started. Hold off on the gloom and doom, as well as the finger pointing.

Re:Well done (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 7 months ago | (#46748393)

The DMZ for New Jersey has been 500% better ever since privatization

So many potential jokes... where to begin?

"The NJ DMZ: blocking border crossings at 1/5th the price since 1995!"

"The NJ DMZ: we'll blow you up, but won't break the bank!"

"I thought all of NJ was a demilitarized zone!"

Anyone else?

Re:Well done (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#46748657)

I know of no other interpretation. It is the only one that came to mind.

Re:Well done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748473)

Just keep in mind that you're considering a very unusual scenario: New Jersey. The state where cronyism is the norm from the highest to lowest positions. The benefits of privatization in more, shall we say, normal governments is not so clear to me.

Re:Well done (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46748655)

this is NASA (government) hardware failing on the ISS, not SpaceX (private) hardware failing on their equipment.

Beta Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749007)

I think you mean a 'Democrat privatization disaster', because the Republicans are pushing for NASA to build a shuttle-derived monster booster that will fly every few years at about a bazillion dollars a time, while Democrats want to buy cargo delivery from private contractors. It's one of the few sensible policies Obama ever came up with.

Besides which, having multiple options for launching cargo to ISS is about the direct opposite of 'disaster'.

But for how long? (1)

mnt (1796310) | about 7 months ago | (#46748111)

If there are no signals from NASA that it can financially support the ISS past 202* SpaceX (and others?) may bail because of the unsecure business future.

Re:But for how long? (2)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 7 months ago | (#46748645)

Well if NASA can't keep a spacestation in orbit, there's a company here in Las Vegas that CAN! Bigelow Aerospace has had two structures in orbit since 2006-2007. Genesis I was launched in 2006 and Genesis II was launched in 2007, and they're both still up there sending back video to the Bigelow ops center in North Las Vegas.. Bigelow has a project called BEAM that will attach another module to the ISS, scheduled to launch on SpaceX's CRS Mission 8, in mid 2015.

www.bigelowaerospace.com

BEAM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749231)

I really wish BEAM had been a little closer to a BA330 module in size. BEAM only has a volume of 16 m3, basically a walk in closet in size. Its a start I suppose, but not much of one. I hope I'll be able to see a BA 2100 (or equivalent) in orbit within my lifetime, 2.5 times greater than ISS in volume in a single launch.

How are these related? (1)

poity (465672) | about 7 months ago | (#46748709)

How can a problem with a backup computer on the ISS impact supply delivery by a SpaceX capsule from Earth?

Re:How are these related? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46748973)

This computer is more than 10 years old and served as a back-up for the railcar of the robot arm, the thermal cooling system, solar-wing rotating joints, and more.

Not sure what's meant by "the railcar of the robot arm," but if I remember correctly the arm is used to capture and dock the supply capsule, and doing so without a backup computer might be considered a bit risky, considering the location where all of this is due to happen.

Re:How are these related? (1)

poity (465672) | about 7 months ago | (#46752471)

Ah. Thanks for clearing that up, and same to everyone below.

Re:How are these related? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 7 months ago | (#46753465)

Not sure what's meant by "the railcar of the robot arm,"

This [celestialmatters.org] .
Which became this [wikimedia.org] .
Down the length of this [wikimedia.org] .

Re:How are these related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749021)

The computer is part of the system for docking the supply ship. They bring the ship near the station and use the robot arm to dock it.

Beta Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46749023)

I don't know the exact problem here, but ISS has to manually grab the Dragon and berth it on an airlock, so if that doesn't work it will have to sit there and wait until they can fix the computer.

Re:How are these related? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 7 months ago | (#46750991)

Because if the main computer goes out after the launch and before the docking, with the backup already broken, things could get a bit... intense... up there. Since it controls external stuff like the rail car, they really just need to get everything moved where it needs to be ahead of time.

Critical backup unit (1)

Lorens (597774) | about 7 months ago | (#46749437)

I want more stories about critical backup units. I don't like plain non-critical backups, or redundant systems, or backups of critical systems, just critical backups.

Back up? (1)

approachingZero (1365381) | about 7 months ago | (#46749631)

What are back ups?

Scrubbed ;_; (2)

Megane (129182) | about 7 months ago | (#46750971)

There was a helium leak in the first stage. Next launch opportunity is Friday afternoon. I've been wanting to see this thing go up for weeks. First it was sewing machine oil on some cloth around the cargo, then it was the ground radar on fire, now it's a leak. The only good thing about this is that Friday is a holiday day for me, so I can actually watch the launch live. (or watch it get scrubbed again live)

Re:Scrubbed ;_; (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 7 months ago | (#46753541)

Space launches are tricky! SpaceX has an excellent mission success record so far, but a lot of that is because they're really, really careful around things that could cause a failure (distinct from an abort).

It's disappointing for sure, but it beats having a rocket blow up or lose control in orbit or something. That probably will happen eventually, but with any luck there will be a long-established safety record by then.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?