back to article SpaceX: 'We have control, it's just a glitch' Musk tells world+dog

The Dragon capsule is ready to flame, with all four boosters operational and ready for firing in an hour or so, SpaceX boss Elon Musk has told a press conference. The Falcon 9 rocket worked as planned, he said, and fired the Dragon capsule successfully into orbit. But SpaceX found it could only power up one of the four thruster …

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contingency plans

This is what I love about space-x. They have thought of and have contingency plans THAT WORK for every situation.

So far, any problem they have had, like one of the engines failing during the last launch, and now the thrusters failing, they have taken in their stride.

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Meh

Re: contingency plans

I'm glad they have contingency plans and I do want to see Space-X succeed, but on the other hand it seems like they've got a long ways to go to get their base reliability up as high as Soyuz or the shuttle. If I'm counting correctly, they've had a pretty major incident on 2 of their 3 journeys to the ISS now. Obviously the Russian and American governments have been doing this for longer, and hopefully Space-X will make modifications, etc. to improve reliability. But as it stands right now, I sure wouldn't want to be launched into orbit on a Dragon.

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Happy

Re: contingency plans

The thing is we rarely know about issues other craft & missions may experience. SpaceX has the rather unenviable responsibility to report on every little thing: Investors, contract holders, and the public all demand the details and they really aren't in a position to deny them. Unlike NASA or the Russians.

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Facepalm

Re: contingency plans

"SpaceX has the rather unenviable responsibility to report on every little thing"

"Unlike NASA or the Russians"

Do you really think that what you are saying makes any sense?

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Meh

Re: contingency plans

"They have thought of and have contingency plans THAT WORK for every situation."

Yes. Note that in Russian Roulette, you are alive after all the trials until you are dead.

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Re: contingency plans

Have you seen some of the Funky Fun things that Soyuz and Progress do?

My favourite is the orbit module on Soyuz not detaching, so that Soyuz re-enters the wrong way round. Apparently the astronauts get to see the hatch seal starting to smoke, before the orbit module burns off and the Soyuz does an instant 180 at 15,000mph+. This has happened twice.

Progress has numerous incidents on the way to the station. Computers up and down like a merry go round...

As for NASA - the Shuttle program was full of near misses. Look up STS-27

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Meh

Re: contingency plans

"The thing is we rarely know about issues other craft & missions may experience. SpaceX has the rather unenviable responsibility to report on every little thing: Investors, contract holders, and the public "

Want them certainly.

Actually only NASA, as the customer (or the FAA, who are involved in this) has anywhere near the power to demand them.

Spacex is a private company. They don't have to tell the public anything, although obviously they feel its better business to let the world know what's going on. NASA does the same and the Russians (I think) are coming round to being more open.

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Boffin

Re: major incident on 2 of their 3 journeys

But - that's their *first* three journeys. How many goes did it take NASA or the Russians to get a reliable system? It could be argued that they *still* don't have one - how many times have they lost a bird?

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Re: major incident on 2 of their 3 journeys

Yeah NASA and Russia got through a lot of rockets before they got anything into orbit.

SpaceX ain't doing too badly.

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@stragen001 - Re: contingency plans

I think if you read the text, its NASA and the ISS who have contingency plans for every situation. Admittedly SpaceX did get things running again but they may or may not have had a plan in place beforehand.

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Holmes

Anomaly

But it's always the anomalies that cause the problems, isn't it?

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ACx

I suppose with this venture, they dont have to let any one from the NYT review it.

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Secret payload

Isn't a wheel of cheese this time, it's a hogtied NYT reporter!

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Secret payload

"Isn't a wheel of cheese this time, it's a hogtied NYT reporter!"

That's a very wrong thought to have.

Amusing but wrong.

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Re: Secret payload

Besides, they duct taped him to the inside of the interstage....

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Re: Secret payload ... it's a hogtied NYT reporter!

Which probably explains the "anomaly", the reporter yanked on some wires and caused a malfunction.

</snark>

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Clogged helium lines

Wait. We're not supposed to put the whole mylar balloon into the tank, just the helium?

Well what do you know.

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Joke

This means the pizza will be cold when it arrives.

Will NASA get the pizza for free ?? SOP for late pizza delivery.

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Happy

Re: This means the pizza will be cold when it arrives.

"Will NASA get the pizza for free ?? SOP for late pizza delivery."

Actually something like this was asked.

Spacex get a partial payment, but obviously not the whole portion.

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Go

Some interesting comments form the recording of the telephone conference.

BTW The sub editing on this article was not good. Thee technical term for them are "Thrusters," not boosters (that was the 1st stage of the F9).

NASA specs 3 clusters working, but Spacex have simmed a berthing with 2.

Re-entry can be done with 1 cluster working.

The propellant system worked fine on all 4 clusters. The problem was in the GHe pressurization system in 3 of them. Cleared it by repeatedly opening and closing the valves to this tank. This system will return to Earth so they can study it. It sounds like a duff batch of Helium with some water or CO2 in it.

NASA people very complimentary about how Spacex handled it. Calm, methodical. No premature conclusions, tested hypotheses for proof. I got the impression they were afraid Spacex staff would go headless chicken on them but they stayed rock solid.

The crewed version of Dragon will not have solar panels. it will run on batteries only. Cargo Dragon can run about 14 hours without panel deployment and about 1 month without berthing to ISS. The batteries on crew Dragon will be much bigger (but they'll re-enter if they can't dock fairly quickly. A few days at most).

Please. No Tesla battery jokes.

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Re: Some interesting comments form the recording of the telephone conference.

"Some interesting comments form the recording of the telephone conference.

BTW The sub editing on this article was not good. Thee technical term for them are "Thrusters," not boosters (that was the 1st stage of the F9)."

"Form". "Thee". Muphry's law in action.

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Happy

Re: Some interesting comments form the recording of the telephone conference.

""Form". "Thee". Muphry's law in action."

Well spotted.

But then I don't get paid to write this stuff.

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Facepalm

I wonder...

How long were they flailing about in the control center until "that guy" walked in and just rebooted the system.

Followed with: There, I fixed it!

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Paris Hilton

Re: I wonder...

You think Gordon Freeman works there?

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Coat

Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

You know how it goes.

One day you're sitting in your space station, wondering what's on the radio, and you get a knock on the door. It's a commercial capsule with a load of supplies that you could do with, and the price looks very tempting. So you sign up to them with a 3-month offer to undercut anything NASA will provide, PLUS a free squeaky toy for your space cat, and two zero-g fluffy dice for the lunar rover.

Then, after the 3 months, the price starts to increase, and the delivery rates drop. Soon, you realise that it would have been cheaper to stay with NASA. And Richard bloody Branson starts phoning you up at all hours pushing Virgin Galactic, offering cheap 1-day breaks down at his holiday villas in New Mexico....

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Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

Dodgy Geezer your comment there is future proofed. When the days come that road side service is offered to space vehicles, your comment will have been published as an article by the Reg.

I'm curious about your usage of "New Mexico" though. Are you implying that some other planet will have a Mexico? It is plausible irony that a distant planet is colonized by Mexicans, considering Mexico's current space program.

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Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

"One day you're sitting in your space station, wondering what's on the radio, and you get a knock on the door. It's a commercial capsule with a load of supplies that you could do with, and the price looks very tempting. So you sign up to them with a 3-month offer to undercut anything NASA will provide, PLUS a free squeaky toy for your space cat, and two zero-g fluffy dice for the lunar rover."

Ho ho ho

Spoken like a true "Dodgy geezer"

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Alien

Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

@MyBackDoor

He's just talking about the current New Mexico

Wait a minute...

Papers, please! Are you aware that as per Contact Regulation 415A, Extraterrestrial Tourists are NOT allowed to access the Internet during their stay EXCEPT to passively gather information?

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Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

<Pedant alert>

"...two zero-g fluffy dice for the lunar rover."

Nice to see someone using the language correctly. "Two dice" and for the record if you lose one you have "one die" left, NOT one dice as too many muppets want to write. After all one mice is a mouse.

Good man -- keep up the good work.

</Pedant alert>

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Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

Gentlemen,

It is heartening to see that I am followed with such appreciation, and I feel that a couple of comments are in order:

Though light in tone (I had to stop writing when I saw that I was falling into the Monty Python Torremolinos sketch), there is a semi-serious message here. In general, private enterprise with competition = very good, private enterprise without competition = somewhat less so. And you only get competition in a flourishing commercial environment - the UK experience has shown that trying to apply 'competition' via regulation to a naturally monopolistic structure like the National Grid or water supply results in the mess we have today....

New Mexico is, of course, the place to which the Virgin Galactic flights will fly from. Ignoring the realities of orbital physics, I imagined that, just as today we are looking at short holidays in space, staff in orbital stations might be attracted by a short holiday on the ground...

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Coat

Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

I tried using fluffy dies on the rover - but I found that they wouldn't cut the threads properly...

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Windows

Re: Don't sign up to a commercial provider..!!!

Of course you're gonna have a New Mexico on any new planet. How else will the first colonists - 'Merkans' - get their clothes washed and ironed, or their dishes washed? NASA's in Texas, yeah? 'Nuff said.

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Re: Then, after the 3 months, the price starts to increase,

That sounds like my ISP!!

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Well

the private space industry is always talking about the next boom.

I guess they didn't mean it quite so literally.

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pressure hammered = turned off and on again repeatedly until it works. I think I found the IT angle :-)

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pressure hammered = turned off and on again repeatedly until it works

That's what I said.

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RE: pressure hammered

Is how some of my co-workers operate, under great pressure (no thanks to damagement), and drunk!!!!

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So it turns out this rocket engineerng thing is actually pretty hard. Who knew?

Seriously, though, congratulations to SpaceX. I bet there were a few folks having pretty stressful mornings...

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Anonymous Coward

Its all a setup by NYTimes journalist

This is quite normal, out-of-control spacecraft approach the ISS all the time.

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Pirate

It's going to be a busy year for SpaceX...

So 2013 for SpaceX will involve...

Finish the investigation into the last ISS delivery.

Start (and finish) the investigation into THIS delivery to ISS.

Get the Falcon Heavy launched on its test flight.

Start (and finish?) the investigation into the Falcon Heavy test flight, even if all goes well.

Get the Falcon 9 v1.1 away for its first flight.

Start (and finish?) the investigation into the first flight of the Falcon9 v1.1.

Get Grasshopper to go supersonic and successfully return it to its launch site.

And yes, investigate the ongoing Grasshopper program...

Release information about the upcoming 'Raptor' upper stage/space vehicle (not sure which) with its methane-fuelled engine.

And possibly, assuming this isn't just the Raptor program again, release information about the upcoming MCT (Mars Colonial Transport?) project.

And (and I might be entirely wrong here) the Merlin 2 engine research program is going forward.

And (finally!) I'm sure that someone at SpaceX is still doing some work on the Falcon X/Falcon X Heavy rockets of the 2020's.

If SpaceX can pull all of this off in 2013 then they'll be the go-to company for getting into space. I'm a SpaceX fan myself but it's going to be a hell of a year...

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IT Angle

I'll wait for the next elevator.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

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