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back to article Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run

Elon Musk's rocketeers at SpaceX have called off Monday's launch of their CRS-3 resupply mission to the International Space Station after a problem with its main Falcon rocket. "Today's launch has been scrubbed due to a Helium leak on Falcon 9's first stage. A fix will be implemented by the next launch opportunity on Friday …

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Gold badge

Good luck, SpaceX.

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Bronze badge

Once the landing-in-a-shower-of-sparks-and-smoke is working

I hope NASA commissions new launch modes for Falcon rockets: swimming-pool-slide-away and palm-tree-lie-down..

(and now I'll spend the rest of the day with the Thunderbirds music as an earworm. Come on, join in, dum---dah-dah-dum, dah-dah-dah-dum-dah-duum...)

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Silver badge

We'll know they've really cracked it when they can get it safely down into a launch silo like Thunderbird 3.

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Alien

wait... what??

[...] the next launch opportunity on Friday April 18, [...]

All of this is now on hold until the next launch window this Thursday. [...]

the alien because there's some weird time warp in effect or something...

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Joke

Re: wait... what??

It's because Cape Canaveral and the ISS are in different time zones, except when they're not.

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FAIL

I loved how the president of Lockheed Martin and the president of International Launch Services and the chairman of Arianespace all said "oh, that reusability stuff is a waste of time & money"

I hope Musk kicks their ass financially.

(See the last couple paras of http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/009/140414recovery/)

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Coat

Aw, come on guys...

This ain't exactly rock.... what? Oh it is? Precisely?

Never mind.

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Bronze badge

Re: Aw, come on guys...

The science is easy, it's the engineering that's tough.

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Anonymous Coward

Say what?

How the hell did they develop a helium leak in the first stage? More problems for this troubled program.

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WTF?

Re: Say what?

Troubled!!?? in what way?

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Silver badge

Re: Say what?

Indeed..in what way.

Seems to have been going pretty well so far. But then, there are some serious Anti-Musk people out there, presumably working for the usual suspects.

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Trollface

Re: Say what?

"How the hell did they develop a helium leak in the first stage? More problems for this troubled program."

Do not feed.

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Gold badge

Re: Say what?

James Hughes,

I guess I'd be pretty anti-Musk if I was still selling 1960s tech rockets for 3 times the price he's charging for ones he's just developed. Profits are yummy - and he should just bugger off and leave us to it!

There's going to need to be some adaptation in this market, pretty damned quickly, or Musk is going to steal everyone's money. And good luck to him.

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Silver badge

Re: Say what?

Good luck indeed! Go SpaceX! I've read somewhere that because Musk seem to be very good and choosing where to spend his money to make lots more money, he is expected to be the richest person on the planet in a few years time. Don't have link I'm afraid.

(OK, I admit it, I'm a bit of a fan of SpaceX and Musk...and Tesla.)

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Gold badge
Happy

Re: Say what?

I wonder if he'll be the richest man not on the planet by then? Floating around Earth in his laser-armed space station, stroking his white cat, while simultaneously planning world domination and sending off colony ships to Mars and miners to the asteroid belt. It's nominative determinism in action.

All Hail to our laser-totin', cheese-tastic, rocket-hopping, horribly be-weaponed SpaceX overlords!

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Headmaster

Re: Say what?

Floating around Earth in his laser-armed space station, stroking his white cat

Floating around Earth in his space station, stroking his frikkin' laser-armed Great White Shark.

FTFY.

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Re: Say what?

The usual suspects? Is this Big Oil Shill paranoia? Perhaps Mr Musk should have charged his rocket for longer, instead of relying on what the customer support person (suesequently sacked) told him to do.

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Gold badge
Joke

Re: Say what?

"How the hell did they develop a helium leak in the first stage?"
My guess would be that the last test technician didn't fully close the valve after taking a lungful to do the squeeky countdown from 10. I believe that the guys here always make sure that they close the valve afterwards. (Bootnote: filling a Guiness inflatable chair with helium doesn't make it float)

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Unhappy

Re: Say what?

"Good luck indeed! Go SpaceX! I've read somewhere that because Musk seem to be very good and choosing where to spend his money to make lots more money, he is expected to be the richest person on the planet in a few years time. Don't have link I'm afraid."

In America I think that would be Warren Buffet, who IIRC is estimated to be about $50Bn.

Musk has a ways to go.

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Headmaster

Alpha / Zulu?

It's a bit late (sorry) but shouldn't that be 20:58 UTC?

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Gold badge
Boffin

Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

It's why it's used for leak testing systems.

High pressure puts the tightest seal under stress.

Helium x high pressure x complex system --> b**ger to seal.

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Bronze badge

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

Jup, Helium is a pain in the rear end to work with. Not nearly as much as Hydrogen though. All the leaky goodness of Helium, with a dash of explosiveness (with a very low LEL of just 4%) thrown in for the fun of it!

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Silver badge

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

For me, that is the reason why hydrogen powered cars are perhaps a bit of a dead end. But maybe the problem can be solved somehow - we will see.

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Bronze badge

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

I'd rather have a hydrogen leak than some of the other propellants like hydrazine. At least it's effectively non-toxic (with a lower toxicity than oxygen) and disperses quickly, leak detection is probably a pain in the arse though.

Are SpaceX using LHe to cool the LO2 tanks?

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Silver badge

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

I think it's a pressurisation gas because it doesn't react with the O2. O2 stays quite cool all by itself I would think!

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Flame

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

"...hydrogen leak...leak detection is probably a pain in the arse"

I have a candle you may borrow. Always works for me!

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Unhappy

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

"For me, that is the reason why hydrogen powered cars are perhaps a bit of a dead end. But maybe the problem can be solved somehow - we will see."

Actually the fact the compression or cooling of the H2 consumes maybe 3x the energy stored in the tank probably has more to do with it.

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@squigbobble

"I'd rather have a hydrogen leak than some of the other propellants like hydrazine. At least it's effectively non-toxic (with a lower toxicity than oxygen) and disperses quickly, leak detection is probably a pain in the arse though."

True, although GHe is not actually a propellant.

"Are SpaceX using LHe to cool the LO2 tanks?"

No. Helium liquifies around 4K, 1/5 that of Hydrogen. Gaseous Helium is mostly used for tank pressurization (although O2 tanks can be pressurized by boiling some in a heat exchanger on the engine) and providing the driving force for activating valves.

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Silver badge

Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

"For me, that is the reason why hydrogen powered cars are perhaps a bit of a dead end. But maybe the problem can be solved somehow - we will see."

If you bond the hydrogen to carbon atoms, it's much easier to handle - and much denser too.

There's twice as much hydrogen in a litre of diesel than in a litre of LH2, without all that pesky cryonics and H2 embritllement to deal with.

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Re: Helium is *very* hard to seal systems against

If you bond the hydrogen to carbon atoms, it's much easier to handle - and much denser too.

those are called hydro-carbons, like alcohol or .... petrol. Next time you'll invent cars with wheels ?

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Happy

Small correction for you El Reg

"Today's launch has been scrubbed due to a Helium leak on Falcon 9's first stage. A fix will be implemented by the next launch opportunity on Friday April 18, though weather on that date isn't ideal," the company spokesman said, in a squeaky voice.

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Pint

Re: Small correction for you El Reg

I see you found the helium enhanced beer IAS.

Beer, regular kind:

For the engineers that will be chasing down the leak, and for Spartacus to get back to non-squeaky.

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Happy

I'm assuming that they re-pack the cargo between each attempt, otherwise the astronauts' sarnies are going to be quite out of date by the time they get there.

The first launch date was the beginning of this month if I remember rightly.

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Gold badge

Never mind the astronauts' sarnies. The poor robot up there hasn't got any legs!

You'd be pretty pissed off if the bus carrying your legs kept getting delayed by several days at a time.

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Silver badge

I understand he tried to file a complaint over the delayed delivery, but they told him that he hadn't a leg to stand on.

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