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SpaceX's Falcon Launches... Sort Of

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the i-think-i-can-i-think-i-can dept.

Space 164

JHarrison writes "Spaceflight Now is running a story on the SpaceX Falcon 1 launch yesterday. Those of you watching the stream will have no doubt noticed the telemetry failure at 04:50, and turns out that was more than them turning the webcast off.. "A year after its maiden flight met a disastrous end, the SpaceX booster lifted off at 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 GMT Wednesday) from a remote launch pad on Omelek Island, part of a U.S. Army base at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Controllers lost contact with the Falcon during the burn of the second stage that would have placed the rocket into orbit around Earth. "We did encounter, late in the second stage burn, a roll-control anomaly," Elon Musk, founder and chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., said in a post-launch call with reporters. Live video from cameras mounted aboard the rocket's second stage showed increasing oscillations about five minutes after liftoff, just before the public webcast was cut off. The rolling prevented the necessary speed to achieve a safe orbit, instead sending the stage on a suborbital trajectory back into the atmosphere.""

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164 comments

That's how it works (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427239)

More is learned from failures than successes in most engineering endeavors. Hopefully they'll continue to refine their systems and will enjoy more success next time around.

Re:That's how it works (2, Interesting)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427339)

They will. In fact, Elon stated that all the difficult problems were surpassed, another test launch probably won't be needed, and the next launch will have actual payload.

Re:That's how it works (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428467)

Or it means that he's out of money for more test launches. He has demonstrated two difficult aspects, liftoff and stage seperation. So I'm optimistic. But as I recall, he's said in the past that he'll evaluate the program after the first three launches. So far, he's had one utter failure and one that lost control in the second stage. He still needs to put something in orbit.

Re:That's how it works (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428619)

If I had cargo for the next launch, I might be a bit concerned, but not much. I have little doubt that they will make it work.

Re:That's how it works (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429309)

It depends on the value of the payload. I doubt the odds of a successful deployment are better than 50% right now. But if I had multiple cheap payloads and could afford the loss rate, then I'd go for it.

Re:That's how it works (2, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429247)

I did see a rumour somewhere that he was considering pulling the funding. As I see it, however, they did reach the finish line, just didn't get to cross it. But that's what test flights are for, right?

Insightful...? (-1, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427355)

'More is learned from failures than successes in most engineering endeavors.'

Come again? 'Trial and error', is that what all those millions are funding? Is it that easy to pry monies away from investors? Or is it because it's not your monies going down in flames...? :)

Sorry, but that is one of the lamest excuses I've heard - engineering related or not - Maybe on a headstone, but if you submitted a project update to me with that little tidbit of wisdom framing your take on current status, you'd be watching the next launch attempt (if there was one) from the comfort of your living room, courtesy CNN.

Re:Insightful...? (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427395)

This is not trial and error; they didn't simply go to a junkyard, wled a bunch of pieces of interesting stuff together to make what they thought was a rocket, and then fired it off hoping it would work. They started from first principles, used known technologies and augmented them, then attempted to launch the thing, and will use the telemetry to improve the design. Trial-and-error was more what Robert Goddard was doing in the New Mexico desert.

Re:Insightful...? (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427403)



"Failure is not an option"

Haven't we been sending rockets up into space for quite some time now. I'd think the fundementals should be down pretty pat now, the time for spectacular failures has past.

Re:Insightful...? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427821)

And Ford had been building cars for the better part of a century and they still produced the Pinto.

The Pinto actually was a pioneering effort, sorta (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428051)

In all fairness, Detroit had mostly produced giant land barges in the past. The Pinto was an early effort at actually producing a car that didn't snort gas faster that Nicole Ritchie with a paper bag. When they were cutting the car down, it just never occurred to them that the bracing between the bumper and the fuel tank wasn't just there to support fins.

Re:The Pinto actually was a pioneering effort, sor (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429093)

Thats pretty much my point. Saying "they've done this before" doesn't mean a new design will be perfect, or that "spectacular failures" are impossible.

Re:Insightful...? (4, Interesting)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427847)

Haven't we been sending rockets up into space for quite some time now. I'd think the fundementals should be down pretty pat now, the time for spectacular failures has past.

And yet we've lost two Space shuttles in recent memory. Space is not easy, rockets are enormously powerful devices that require light weight and experience a vast array of environments. Here a relatively minor thing went wrong, too much rotation, and the whole thing is now gone. Knowing how to do something and actually doing it are radically different things...

Re:Insightful...? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428009)

Haven't we been sending rockets up into space for quite some time now. I'd think the fundementals should be down pretty pat now, the time for spectacular failures has past.

SpaceX hasn't been doing that for decades. And the latest failure wasn't spectacular. And "Failure is not an option"? As I understand it, the phrase means that if you have a choice between doing one more thing and failing, you do the one more thing. It says nothing about eliminating failure. You can and will continue to experience failure, it just means that you don't chose to fail. I don't think that's appropriate for a commercial business running a cheap unmanned launch vehicle since the more failure you chose to try to avoid, the most expensive you make the flights.

And yet (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428679)

nearly every new rocket in history has one or 2 failures. That is the track record. Take a look at Brazil, EU's Aris, or even china's copy of the souyz. All in all, it is common to have at least one failure. Most also have a 2'nd failure.

Re:Insightful...? (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429161)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is the way every real engineering project works. Some call it prototyping, some call it beta testing... Those are the breaks. You work really hard, you run all the tests and simulations but eventually you gotta light the fuse and let that thing take off. Having your empty test rocket not make orbit is a success because you hopefully have learned from the failed attempt and you managed not to get pressured into putting people or other valuable payloads on your rocket before it was ready for prime time.

Re:Insightful...? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429179)

Haven't we been sending rockets up into space for quite some time now. I'd think the fundementals should be down pretty pat now, the time for spectacular failures has past.

11 years ago we had been sending rockets up for quite some time too, and yet there was still the little Ariane 5 [youtube.com] thing. I have seen two suborbital rocket launches; the second one disintegrated [evanparity.com] at T+9. (There was another even smaller rocket that I saw go up too; that one failed as well. That makes 2/3 failures.)

Rocket science is still a tricky business.

Re:Insightful...? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428421)

No, it's a statement of the obvious. If a mission succeeds flawlessly, you just know that the combination worked that time. Ie, you're in the envelope where things work. A failure means the mission was outside that envelope. That's usually new information unless you're hapless enough to repeat an old failure.

Re:That's how it works (0, Troll)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427463)

Oh please. If this were NASA everyone would be clamoring for someone's head and talking about how we desperately need privatization, or making jokes about crews dying. Failures are failures.

Re:That's how it works (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427491)

NASA has had plenty of failures too, and I am not one who would start screaming that the sky is falling when they have another.

This is real life, and the reason one has test flights. Of course understanding real life involves leaving mom's basement, something a lot of the armchair would be rocket scientists here are hesitant to do. I'm not referring to you in particular, just a large portion of the slashbot crowd.

Re:That's how it works (1)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427927)

I'm not referring to you in particular, just a large portion of the slashbot crowd.

Hey, this is slashdot. Best to refer to him in particular, get with the program.

Re:That's how it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18428059)

Of course understanding real life involves leaving mom's basement, something a lot of the armchair would be rocket scientists here are hesitant to do.

The majority of the losers here on Slashdot is always yakking about how NASA-should-do-this-NASA-should-do-that-they-are-a ll-stupid-I'm-smart, but they would shit their pants at the mere thought of lighting up a wet firecracker. That's why nobody should care about slashdotters' opinions.

Re:That's how it works (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427963)

Yeah, it could mean that you've just got to work out some kinks. Or it could mean that your engineers and fundamental design suck ass. Only time, and a lot of money, will tell.

Re:That's how it works (3, Interesting)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428129)

Did anyone else watching the video notice the apparent contact between the 2nd stage nozzle and the interstage? I wonder if a TVC actuator was damaged leading to the nutation...

Re:That's how it works (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429173)

I just watched it again and there was certainly contact between the interstage and the 2nd stage nozzle. You can even see the nozzle deform and spring back to shape. Now I am wondering if this altered the shape of the nozzle or damaged the ablator material on the inside which could have caused misaligned thrust.

Re:That's how it works (1)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428283)

1) So did they figure out where pieces parts would have come down? Since Kwaj is just under 5,000 miles from Cali I'm assuming that splashdown was in the Eastern Pacific 2) Too bad they won't do another test launch. Kwaj's facilities are second-to-none, the weather is always great, and the diving is the finest on the planet (and the fishing isn't bad, either).

Rocket Science? (1)

Shnyzx (786435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427243)

Well I guess it really is rocket science. They need to get their act together and possibly outsource some help from NASA or Lockeheed or somebody. If they keep this up they are going to run out of money/steam and be out of the race. I'd hate to see that as this is a hopeful to add more competition to the comercial space race that I hope will allow myself to one day leave this planet.

Re:Rocket Science? (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427309)

Maybe they just need to keep like they are doing. The whole reason that these guys exist is that 'NASA or Lockeheed or somebody' aren't good enough at it. They are slow, extremely cautious, and amazingly expensive. Outsourcing to them would be the same as doing nothing and is definitely not going to get them where they want to be, business-wise.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427417)

Maybe Rocket science is like computer science. You can have your payload on orbit, still working or for cheap, choose at most 2.

Re:Rocket Science? (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428043)

You got the quote wrong, and I would say that this is a general engineering principle as well:

You can have your product done:

  1. reliably
  2. quickly
  3. cheaply


Please choose only two of the above options!

In the case of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, they choose options 1 and 2. In the case of SpaceX, they have instead choosen options 1 and 3. This is where they are indeed doing something different than the more traditional companies. That Mr. Musk has deep pockets helps some, but he is trying to do it on the cheap and is willing to have some delays before he can have his dream. For government operations, they have to get results in four years or their budget will be cut (in the USA).

If SpaceX were run like a government agency, they would have had their funding cut already, or some congressional oversight committee that would have mucked up the process by demanding more "oversight" in the form of increased paperwork and bureaucratic Bu**s***. Lucky for them, they only have to answer to one person who nearly everybody in the company knows on a first name basis... and he knows them too.

Re:Rocket Science? (2, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427785)

They are slow, extremely cautious, and amazingly expensive.
Just maybe... That's the formula for success in space flight?

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428397)

If nobody tries, we'll never know. Personally, I don't believe it IS the formula.

It may just be that we don't have the technology needed to do it cheap, yet, though. We also won't know that unless they try.

Telling them 'go ask the old guys how they used to do it' is NOT the answer.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429087)

Telling them 'go ask the old guys how they used to do it' is NOT the answer.

Bullshit. That's always the answer.

What you're saying is exactly the same thing as all those "new media" types who in 2000 said "oh, the economy works different now" and "we don't need profits to be successful" because that was the old way of doing things.

I mean, not to equate economics with rocket science (although they actually are similar in some ways) but the point is in almost every field you get people who come in and think they can do better with no experience and only a little knowledge than guys who have been doing it for decades and have both extensive knowledge and tons of real-world experience. But real life does not work like that. Experience does count, almost certainly more than even book knowledge.

NASA has obviously had their share of failures, but they've also had thousands more successes than any private space enterprise. People forget that. How many payloads have been successfully launched into space by any private company to this point? How many by NASA? NASA's got about a 99.5% success rate with their manned missions and probably around a 95% success rate with their unmanned missions.

I'm not saying private entities shouldn't try. I do agree with you on that. But the answer is not to keep trying to reinvent the wheel, nor is the answer throwing away 50 years of experience in successful space flight simply because you'd have to ask a bunch of "old guys" how they "used to do it". These guys should be trying to build upon NASA's success and emulating what they can while streamlining the rest; they shouldn't be ignoring all we've learned about space flight to this point.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427449)

How do you figure? They got their rocket off the ground and up 200 miles, and had some control problems that kept them from getting into orbit. That's pretty good, considering the myriad other ways this thing could have turned out. I think you're not giving them enough credit -- NASA was blowing up rockets pretty regularly in the early days of theie space efforts before they got the hang of it. These folks seem to be doing all right.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428535)

And these guys are standing on the shoulders of what NASA previously did. If they were still blowing up motors at this point, they should pack up and go home. When NASA was blowing up rockets all this stuff was pretty new. At this point, you can get an education which teaches you most everything NASA had to figure out at they went. In other words, these guys are starting several legs up from where NASA was inventing and discovering how not to blow up a rocket.

While this is rocket science, they are traveling a well paved road.

Re:Rocket Science? (2, Interesting)

savuporo (658486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427517)

No, its plain old engineering. There is hardly any science in building a two-stage liquid rocket in 2007. They arent doing something that isnt done before. What _is_ novel here is that for the first time, an orbital space launcher is built primarily with the profit motive in mind. No other company has really attempted that before ( or they have, but never gotten so close to pulling it off ). Thus also different design choices, different incentives and ultimately a price tag couple of times lower than your regular cost-plus aerospace contract would yield.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428057)

Bad news - there are no rocket scientists left at NASA (okay, not many). Ronald Reagan made sure that all NASA corporate knowledge was transferred to the contractors which service NASA. The administration is not mostly a few scattered PIs and engineers, with the bulk of the workforce in contract administrators (though many of those still have engineer in their titles).

NASA as an innovative entity is not really in existance anymore, except in very limited areas.

Re:Rocket Science? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428375)

They apparently have already hired a lot from Lockheed and Boeing. I think much has been said elsewhere of the relative immaturity of their operations and the resulting failures (eg, running out of lox and having to abort a launch, lost first mission to a fuel leak caused by human procedural error). SpaceX probably should steal someone to tighten up that aspect. It's too early to say whether this failure was a "get your act together" error or not.

pfft (2, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427251)

I roll-control anomaly in your general direction!

Re:pfft (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427363)

Press R twice to do a Roll-Control Anomaly!

What kind of comment is "Sort of" (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427257)

Hell they made it higher than anything Rutan has put forward and the way people act Rutan is the second coming.

Look, they are doing a great job. Second flight at they reached 200 miles! Thats beyond the ISS.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427513)

Hell they made it higher than anything Rutan has put forward and the way people act Rutan is the second coming.
I, for one, welcome our new suborbital rocket plane-making overlord.

No, but seriously, Rutan has more hype. He's flamboyant, knows how to work the press, and well, SpaceShipOne just looks cool. If actual results were all that mattered, nobody would be talking about Vista; hence Rutan and Scaled Composites get all the hype, while SpaceX has actually produced the better result.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (4, Insightful)

jezor (51922) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427631)

Different result, not "better result." Rutan's Spaceship One is good for one valuable task (human suborbital flights); SpaceX's rockets for a totally different one (cargo lifting orbital flights). Both were formerly the sole province of the governments, so both add to the possibility of private exploration of space. {Prof. Jonathan}

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (2, Informative)

ausoleil (322752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427705)

Considering that the Rutan/Scaled Composites and the SpaceX efforts had two completely different sets of objectives, and that Scaled met their objectives completely, that is, winning the X Prize, while the SpaceX second attempt failed in its own mission, what exactly is the point here?

To be sure, Rutan and company had setbacks in their early efforts. They engineered around them and ultimately met their goal and took home not only the prize but also the investments necessary for funding another generation of their technology. SpaceX will likely do the same, as it seems that they have a handle on what it was that caused the premature end of their test mission yesterday. That said, however, there is little basis to compare the two companies on. SpaceShip One was never meant to fly as high as is the Falcon. Nor was Falcon designed to carry human payloads, which entails another couple magnitudes of design complications and considerations.

Instead of negatively trying to compare one to the other, perhaps it is wiser to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428731)

It's hardly just hype. Rutan, did something NEW. He actually built a truly REUSEABLE spacecraft (what the original shuttle was actually sold as). SpaceX is just a cheap conventional rocket. SpaceShipOne can take off, land, refuel, and take off again--with minimal time and expense. You don't lose the vast bulk of SpaceShipOne every time it takes off (like the shuttle and conventional rockets), nor do you have to virtually rebuild the damn thing it every time it lands (like the shuttle).

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18427527)

ISS orbits at about 220 statute miles altitude. So Musk's latest misadventure falls short. 0 for 2 doesn't sound like such a good record to me. The roll control failure is a basic engineering oversight.

Oh the irony. (5, Funny)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427587)

Comment:

Hell they made it higher than anything Rutan has put forward...
Sig:

Winners compare their achievments to their goals, losers compare theirs to that of others

Re:Oh the irony. (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429443)

We oughta have a +6 for items just like this one.. Darn.

So nice.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427667)

Falcon flew far beyond the "edge" of space, typically thought of as around 60 miles. Our altitude was approximately 200 miles, which is just 50 miles below the International Space Station.
According to their own website, the ISS is at 250 miles, though other sources place it a bit lower (wikipedia: approx. 220 miles).

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (2, Interesting)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427773)

The Space Station varies it's orbit depending on a lot of factors. It's in a continously decaying orbit (intented) which will always make it return to Earth at some point. It's orbit is occasionally boosted by the Space Shuttle or by the various Russian cargo ships. For example, right now, NASA is letting the orbit decay to around 205 miles so that the Shuttle can bring up the largest (and heaviest) component without having to push it all the way. With ISS in a lower orbit, less fuel is needed to get the heaviest components there. Later, a service module will boost it back to a higher orbit.

Bill

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

Darth_Foo (608063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427897)

ISS has a higher nominal orbital altitude than 200 miles. And altitude isn't the issue - sounding rockets having been going up higher (and falling back down) for decades. What matters for orbital flight is velocity.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

TommyBear (317561) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428343)

I was just about to make the same comment. I mean the edge of space is like, what, 60 miles (96km)? And to go 200 miles... that is truly an achievement. I mean, come on, I have enough trouble launching out of bed in the morning. Give these guys a break.

Re:What kind of comment is "Sort of" (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428831)

Height wasn't the issue. This isn't SpaceShipOne. They are selling this thing as a cheap, reliable vehicle for putting satellites into orbit. It doesn't matter what altitude they reach, if they can't consistently deliver the payload to the right place, no one is going to trust them with their satellite (and they go out of business, the end).

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18427283)

FILE *fp;<br>
<br>
fp = fopen ("/dev/slashdot", "r");<br>
fprintf (fp, "Fifth Post\n");<br>
fclose (fp);<br>

Why shutdown at that point? (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427287)

There was something unexpected happening, so they shut down the engine and it plunged back into the atmosphere. What I don't get is why let some potential problem (ok maybe it didn't much of a chance) ruin the whole flight? You are up high/fast enough anyway so why not take every chance you got and just ride it untill it breaks. Stopping will surely break it so you have nothing to loose. Or do they?

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (2, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427327)

Stop it *while they still have control* you mean. A rocket tumbling out of control back to earth is a danger.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427665)

If you only shut down the engine during unexpected roll events, you basically have a rocket tumbling out of control. They did. What was your point again?

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427999)

You know where it will land at that point.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428261)

Remember that to get permission to launch from the Feds, they need to demonstrate that the rocket has an extremely low chance of killing anyone. In particular, they need to know where it could possibly go when things go wrong. So having the rocket shut off when it goes out of control like this is part of the reason they were allowed to launch in the first place.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427361)

There was something unexpected happening, so they shut down the engine and it plunged back into the atmosphere.

While that makes sense now, I would hope this protocol will change by the time they get around to human passengers.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428221)

Why should they change anything? A 100% failure rate is more than good enough for any manned program. It's perfect actually.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427369)

For safety. If it goes out of control near the ground, you don't want it to just accelerate into any inhabited areas. 200 miles up in the atmosphere, it probably doesn't matter that much.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427685)

It was five minutes into the firing of the second stage. You'd think it would be a bit highere than close to the ground...

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18427413)

It's not clear to me that ground did shut down the engine; the article mentions sloshing of the fuel.

Disregarding that, it's usually better to stop a test in a fail-safe way when you still can, rather than keep your fingers cross only to find out a piece of hardware landed somewhere where you don't want it.

In the first case you can try again in x amount of time, in the second case you might have caused harm to human beings and/or their property, which is bad enough in itself, but also harms your reputation and delays the project >x amount of time.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

mulvane (692631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427445)

Its better to shutdown when you know where your drop point is going to be instead of let flight continue and possibly endanger life with an unpredictable drop point.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (3, Informative)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427537)

They never said they intentionally shut the engine down. The shutdown was an unavoidable side effect of a strong roll. Their quote was "If you have a significant roll, what could happen is that the propellants can centrifuge out."

If the spacecraft is spinning, all the fuel is pushed to the outside walls of the tank and away from the fuel outlet at the center of the tank bottom. This leaves the fuel pumps with nothing to pump. Engine shut down. Rocket fall, go boom.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

deroby (568773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427681)

Since the fuel is liquid, wouldn't it stay 'motionless' while the 'outer hull' revolves around it ?

(the outer layers might take some of the whirling around due to friction, but I'm guessing it would take quite some time before it actually gets pushed to the sides... )

Just wondering...

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427869)

Doesn't take very long at all. There's friction between liquid molecules as well.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429283)

Fuel tanks have baffels to reduce slosh during flight. Those baffels will do a great job imparting rotation to the fuel.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427559)

Stopping will surely break it so you have nothing to loose. Or do they?



Yes, they don't want to have a large piece of space junk loose in a random orbit. This isn't the first space race - putting something into a random orbit doesn't win prizes, but might smash things that are already up there on purpose.

Re:Why shutdown at that point? (1)

glitchvern (468940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427651)

Stopping will surely break it so you have nothing to loose. Or do they?

The first stage is designed to be recovered and reused. The rolling motion caused the propellent to act like a centrifuge potentially damaging the engine. Considering it was the second stage which was not designed to be recovered damaging the engine is probably not a problem, but the control software was probably designed similarly to the first stage where not damaging the engine may be a higher priority than a successful flight if you can still recover the first stage.

Videos are up (4, Informative)

savuporo (658486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427405)

For those of you who didnt catch the webcast:
YouTube : launch [youtube.com]
SpaceX official, high-res: http://www.spacex.com/video_gallery.php [spacex.com]

Five minutes of fame !

Note to self: (1)

FirmWarez (645119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427509)

Refer to any and all future firmware bugs as "anomalies".

Cup half full (2, Funny)

toupsie (88295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427529)

Just change the description of the vehicle from a spaceship to a ballistic missile and its a successful launch.

Re:Cup half full (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18428717)

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight...

Henry Wadsworth (X Prize) Longfellow.

Look on the bright side. (2, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427535)

Maybe it landed on Chris Kattan.

Engine bump and second stage control (4, Interesting)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427543)

Did anyone else notice the bump the Kestrel engine took during stage separation? On the 40MB video [spacex.com] from SpaceX, it happend at 3:28 in or at T+00:02:52 on the screen clock. Maybe this is normal for the engine, but it was rather odd looking to me.

Also, there was a story [space.com] earlier that the 2nd launch was delayed "due to concerns over a thrust vector control pitch actuator on the Falcon 1 booster's second stage". I wonder if this came back to bite them?

Finally, I'm impressed as hell that they could experience an abort after engine start yet still cycle back and launch in just another hour! When the Shuttle once aborted after engine start it took them a month to change out the engines and try again.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (2, Informative)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427733)

Did anyone else notice the bump the Kestrel engine took during stage separation? On the 40MB video from SpaceX, it happend at 3:28 in or at T+00:02:52 on the screen clock. Maybe this is normal for the engine, but it was rather odd looking to me. So far as is known, it didn't materially affect anything. The nozzle is made of Niobium which is quite malleable, and small dents only mildly modify the efficiency of the engine, and that's one of the known advantages of Niobium over other high temperature metals, and partly why it was used. So it probably only got dinged because they knew they could safely reduce the gap without worrying about the nozzle shattering or something.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (2, Interesting)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427799)

I had read about the Niobium nozzle being able to take a dent. I'd be more concerned about the bump damaging the vectoring hardware for the engine. It was also really interesting to see the glow coming through the nozzle. I was really worried we'd see a burn through of the nozzle, but I guess the glow is just the normal behavior.

Some of the early comments by Elon talked about spin causing centrifuge effect on the fuel supply to the 2nd stage engine. In the video, although the nozzle is oscilating back and forth the craft itself is not spinning up to the point where the video ends. You can tell by the Earth horizon staying mostly stable. It will be interesting to hear the analysis in the coming days or weeks.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427903)

On the arocket email group the consensus seems to be that it looks like fuel slosh being driven by the control system moving the nozzle in a circular mode. Eventually the magnitude of the control inputs seems to have created a roll angle, and that's what killed the telemetry and the engine apparently is likely to have shut down shortly afterwards.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (1)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428069)

Interesting. Guess it is time for some slosh baffles in the fuel tank.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18427949)

Shouldn't they use a separation ring between the stages? Drop the first stage, ignite the second, then release the ring. Seems more prudent, no?

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (1)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428327)

Shouldn't they use a separation ring between the stages? Drop the first stage, ignite the second, then release the ring. Seems more prudent, no?

Seems like it, but weight may be an issue. Two separation points means more hardware which means more weight. I wonder if something simpler, and lighter, such as guide rails could be used to direct the first stage past the second stage nozzle. The rails could drop after the stage is away and should be less likely to impact on the nozzle than what we saw last night.

Re:Engine bump and second stage control (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429321)

There is another point, which is right before the second separation events (from the nose; I don't know what it's called and can't get a timecode right now), there's a ring that comes off of the 2nd stage engine. Anyone know if this was normal?

Finally, I'm impressed as hell that they could experience an abort after engine start yet still cycle back and launch in just another hour!

Yeah, I was like "they're done for the day" and turned off the webcast. (Actually I turned it on apparently about 2 minutes after abort...)

Incoming message from Slippy: (5, Funny)

dosle (794546) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427571)

Do a barrel roll!

Re:Incoming message from Slippy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18428649)

I do believe you mean Peppy. PRESS Z OR R TWICE!
captcha: aborts !

So then, ummmm.... (1)

AugstWest (79042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427639)

Where did it land?

Babelfish of limited use here... (2, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427693)

"We did encounter, late in the second stage burn, a roll-control anomaly"
=
"Rocket fall down go boom."

Actually I think I know what the problem was. As it is son-of-paypal-entrpreneurism, the actual button for turning on the roll control was tiny and at the bottom of a large screen offering to upgrade to super turbo rocket engine pumps and 3% off your next tank of LOX.

What kind of oscillations? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18427719)

Too lazy to RTFA, but I hope it wasn't pogo oscillations.

What was it carrying? (1)

Mizled (1000175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427771)

I read somewhere where they were carrying "cargo" into space...does anyone know what they were carrying? Was this going to the ISS?

Just wondering. =p

Re:What was it carrying? (4, Informative)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427831)

It was carrying a demo sat, which is just a simlulator for an actual sattelite. There was no paid cargo on this flight. They did have a couple of small test packages from NASA for relaying flight data through the NASA tracking network and testing in flight destruct commanding (not to an actual destruction package I believe). Nothing was going to be in permanent orbit and the Falcon 1 i snot intended to go to the space station.

Flight Control (1)

Chayak (925733) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427953)

This is what you get when you cut back costs of flight control systems by using windows ME out of the bargain bin...

!!!!!eleven (0, Offtopic)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#18427959)

BUT I'M ENCOUNTERING UNEXPECTED INTERFERENCE!

Don't read this text. It was added to fill out the form so that my excessive capslock usage would be accepted by the anti-spam system. VIAGRA.

So what? (-1, Flamebait)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428491)

I started writing a reasoned explication of the pointlessness and irrelevance of this whole story, but I made myself too angry with the uncritical "private space colonisation" fanboy mentality that says we'll all be living on Starship Enterprise in a century's time. To those people (probably everyone on this thread) I say this: turn off the damn Star Trek DVDs and get a life. Colonising space is an infantile fantasy. Grow up and get over it already, ffs.

Fuck, even this has now turned into flamebait. Dear Taco, could we possibly split the "science" section into "techno-utopia bullshit" and "actual science" categories please?

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428721)

I started writing a reasoned explication of the pointlessness and irrelevance of this whole story, but I made myself too angry with the uncritical "private space colonisation" fanboy mentality that says we'll all be living on Starship Enterprise in a century's time. To those people (probably everyone on this thread) I say this: turn off the damn Star Trek DVDs and get a life. Colonising space is an infantile fantasy.

Full of sophomoric cynicism today are you?

You sound a lot like the folks back when who said we'd never drive at 60 MPH 'because it will suck all the air out of your lungs', or the engineer who claimed that 'rockets will never work in space because there's nothing to push against'. Few people in 1900 would have predicted airliners, satellites, nuclear weapons and ICBMs less than 70 years later.

Colonizing space is the only hope for our species to last more than a few more millenia IMO. It's good to see the visionaries pushing forward despite Luddites such as yourself.

Congratulations to SpaceX, and kudos to Elon Musk for doing something worthwhile with his fortune!

Best coverage (1)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428681)

The only thing better than watching this live was being on the SA forums (i hear the nasa forums were good for the same reason) where not only was everyone free to comment on what was going on, there were people in the know who could guess what was going wrong at each step in the launch. Within 2minutes of the feed being lost, Someone had a gif posted of the final few frames of telemetry.



Someone had actually come up with an idea as to what happened to the shuttle and they were spot on.

Re:Best coverage (1)

decaym (12155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18428881)

What or where are the "SA forums"? Link, please.

Re:Best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18429323)

forums.somethingawful.com

spo86e (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18429351)

had become like The Cathedral one or the other of progress. JOIN THE GNNA!! project returns at least.' Nobody ANOTHER CUNTING elected, we took the resignation Consistent with the Coming a piss And, af7er initial community at users all over the to survive at all and building is the longest or design approach. As alike to reap clothes or be a BSD addicts, flame as to which *BSD DOG THAT IT IS. IT may be hurting only way to go: [tux.org]? Are you people already; I'm troubles of those 'I have to kill of its core at times. From sanctions, and and executes a become an unwanted

From the Website... (2, Interesting)

Mizled (1000175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18429367)

Falcon flew far beyond the "edge" of space, typically thought of as around 60 miles. Our altitude was approximately 200 miles, which is just 50 miles below the International Space Station. The second stage didn't achieve full orbital velocity, due to a roll excitation late in the burn, but that should be a comparatively easy fix once we examine the flight data.

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