Refreshing to see an honest and straightforward explanation from Musk. I can only imagine the press release that either NASA or a large aerospace company would have sent out under similar circumstances.
SpaceX has successfully launched six new communications satellites for Orbcomm after months of delays. However, Elon Musk's rocketeers had less success at landing the used Falcon 9 rocket after its delivery. The Orbcomm birds will be used solely in a machine-to-machine communications network run by the company, and will …
Typical, clueless idiot posters.
The first stage recovery *experiment* was a "bonus objective" on Monday's flight. SpaceX wants to eventually make the rocket reusable, and the first step toward that goal is demonstrating the technical and economic viability of retrieving a used Falcon 9 first stage, refurbishing it and flying it again.
The company aims to reduce the landing error with initial controlled splashdowns in the ocean before attempting a vertical touchdown *on land* (i.e., the *real* objective). The company built two prototype Falcon 9 first stages used on short takeoff and landing hops at their test site in central Texas to prove the rocket's descent and guidance systems. Both worked fine, BTW.
Falcon 9's previous launch last April was the first time it flew with landing legs (Build a little, test a little, learn a little. What a concept, Anonymous Coward and Adam Foxton). Officials said the first stage achieved a soft, low-speed splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, but heavy waves battered and destroyed the vehicle before ground crews could get to it.
Typical self-important commentard who can't see through the fug of their own spectrum haze to understand when likely clued-up posters are making jokes outwith some need to exhibit how much they, as uninvolved observers, think they know about a subject.
This is ElReg, smart people say daft things, in the process belying what they do know.
I managed to see a shuttle launch several years ago, if I remember correctly we were about 5 miles from the launch site..... it was the loudest thing I ever heard! It was the first launch since the one went kaboom on launch.... the cheer when the SRB's separated was even louder!
From the description, I don't think it should even be called a failure, let alone a "back to the drawing board" as said in the article (get rid of that, totally unfair). It sounds to me like everything went perfectly until the landing burn ended, at which point the stage (having nothing solid to stand on), tipped over.
If it blew up when doing a belly flop on the water, that's a shame, but it doesn't say anything about the viability of doing the same thing on land. Hopefully there's video, the space-x stuff is always great viewing.
I agree on the back to the drawing board comment - it's complete bollocks. The author should be completely ashamed of that since its so far from what will happen, especially since the amount of data from SpaceX is simply 'Kaboom;' and 'we need to look at telemetry to see what happened'. How any professional journo who doesn't work the the Fail can equate that to back to the drawing board is beyond me.
Are they going to just use their current plans to build the next one? No? That would be insane you say?
You're quite right. That would be insane. They need to make design changes. Where do you make design changes? At the drawing boards maybe?
So then, "back to the drawing boards" is quite the right phrase. And frankly, was invited when Musk said "Kaboom" in his announcement. If Musk can have a bit of fun with the failure, why can't somebody else?
The first stage would still have some LOX left in the tank which would be boiling off, so when it landed in the water, the pressure relief valve could have iced up. The pressure in the tank would have built up until it ruptured.
It is designed to land on land, not the water. Once SpaceX has shown that they can land it on a target, they will be bringing them back to land on a pad for reuse.
Just look at chimney demolitions. Although the initial tilt from the vertical begins with the chimney intact, the fabric cannot transmit the forces necessary to accelerate the top of the chimney along a circular arc, and it breaks at its weakest point. I don't know if anyone has tried toppling a Falcon 9 to see what would happen; I guess a bit of computer simulation would give the answer as to whether its stiffness was up to it.
Chimneys don't fall intact because they are made of individual bricks held together by old, cracked and weathered mortar that has often been given a good thwack by the shockwave of a demolition charge.
If you watch a chimney in decent repair felled by a "Fred Dibner" the old fashioned way you'll see that what is actually happening is that the base collapses as it tries to hold the weight of the falling chimney so that it slumps rather than snapping in half. Often the top of the chimney doesn't get very far from the vertical as a result but *does* travel laterally the full length expected, or damn near.
Which would be fine if the water landings weren't just a test for future land landings. Stopping at the surface might cause some problems now, but saves having to re-calibrate and test everything again later when they don't want to be getting to the surface with significant velocity left.
Kudos SpaceX! Well done on getting your bird away and it looks like a successful deployment of the satellites.
As for the landing of the first stage, as long as they had control of the 1st stage all the way down, and the stress on the 1st stage wasn't excessive, who cares if it popped a gasket after it landed and then fell over?
If they had full control on the way down (without undue stress on the stage) then I think SpaceX should declare victory and move on to a land landing (Wow, that sounds weird!) with their next launch. August, isn't it?
If everything worked first time, there'd be no need to test. As long as something can be learnt from the "less than optimal" landing, then it most definitely won't be a complete failure.
If it was NASA, then it *would* be back to the drawing board and try again in 5 years time. But with SpaceX, then I'm sure it will be a case of "scratch heads" and see what happens next time.
Elon Musk's achievements are in the area of perseverance, inspiration and management, not technology. Modern rocket science began with Robert Hutchings Goddard in the Western U.S. deserts. The U.S. military was not interested. Somehow he got funding. The Third Reich routinely got copies of all his discoveries and inventions through the U.S. Patent office. The experiments of Werner von Braun and others during the NAZI reign further aided rocketry. President Eisenhower did not want to use military rocketry, which Braun was working on as part of a NAZI amnesty program at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and attempted to use "civilian" assets for space exploration. Space planes, X-1, etc., were being developed way back then. When the Soviets launched Sputnik the rules changed in a hurry. NASA was formed but used a lot of military technology. Personnel was drawn from the military. The whole space cadre did pioneer work in full view of the public. With lives on the line, I never recall NASA or their contractors ever sugar coated anything. Having graduated from the University once nicknamed the "college of quarterbacks and astronauts" during that time period, we were kept apprised of developments in the space race. The intonations that Elon Musk and Space X is somehow superior to those individuals could not be more "bass ackwards". Congress cut funding for the programs private contractors are now working on 30 years ago. Gus Grissom almost drowned when his capsule, not nearly as tall, was inverted. So, why anyone thought a rocket would stand on it's tail in an ocean is beyond me. Should have been expected, not a failure. The real trailblazers were in NASA and should be credited, not denigrated.
Sorry, Goddard wasn't the beginning, that happened in Russia, from everything I read. They were way ahead of us until at least after WWII - did we have have major rocket-powered artillery in the European theater? Re: "Stalin's Organ", the Katushya rocket system - from wikipedia: " A battery of four BM-13 launchers could fire a salvo in 7–10 seconds that delivered 4.35 tons of high explosives over a 400,000-square-metre (4,300,000 sq ft) impact zone, making its power roughly equivalent to that of 72 guns."
We didn't get that functionality until a decade later, at least.
Noone is suggesting SpaceX are technically superior to anyone in particular in NASA, current or historical. They're certainly organisationally superior to many established players in the fact they have no associated baggage or legacy, which makes them nimble and agile.
You don't have to be doing things new to be impressive. Lots of people died trying to go to the South Pole. Once it had been done, noone set foot again at the South Pole again for decades (though people visited the continent), by which time they'd worked out how to do things reasonably safely, and they went with aircraft delivered by the commercial aviation industry. These days, most people who go to Antarctica don't die, despite it remaining a hazardous and hostile environment.
Similarly, NASA did amazing things with a blank cheque in the 60s. Since then it has slowed, working out how to do those things - and more - without killing their astronauts in the process. The level of risk they were prepared to accept dropped after they had proved it could be done at all.
So what that kerosene rockets are an established technology? Internal Combustion engines are old hat, that doesn't mean a new Ford EcoBoost is comparable to a 2hp unit from 1902 or that the engineers are any less skilled in their trade. Similarly SpaceX will employ plenty of people the intellectual equal to the early space cadre engineers. Doesn't mean they're better, but it's also not ass backward - they're not inferior either just because (by chance of birth) they weren't first or because they don't have to do it with a slide rule and test their theories by putting a physical rocket on the pad - they can blow shit up in computers before they have to spend money on fabricating something which could kill the person strapped to the top of it.
Different rocket science. Romans and Chinese had those rockets. Bazookas and mortars fall in the same class. Look at any WWII video of Navy bombardments. Goddard was developing rockets(missiles) that could sustain guided flight. Stalin's purge did give us Sikorsky and the helicopter, though.
Sorry. Also ran's are not equal to pioneers in anything. Henry Ford had numerous lawsuits against him for patent infringement. Henry Ford is recognized for developing a cheap, simple car built on an assembly line, not the technology that made the car possible. Computer models are based on pioneer science. Things happen in real world application that the virtual world simply cannot duplicate. Todays computer models are probably based on main framed computer programs developed by NASA and their contractors. Computer science was critical to the space program. Kerosene uses oxygen from the air. Rocket fuel has to use an oxidizer to create the required inertia and momentum for space flight. If you've discovered how to use kerosene for the required thrust, you're well on your way to developing the space plane making missile launches obsolete.
I didn't see that this article was posted to the op-ed pages.
Maybe kaboom wasn't the right word, but I doubt it exploded. My money is that once in contact with the water and engine out, the 20 story towering rocket fell over and the stage lost integrity and sank. Who knows what they were expecting.
I think that spacex achieved all of their goals for the flight. Have you ever tried to land something in the ocean. I'm sure it's harder than it looks. I can't wait until the start landing on land.
and at least they're trying to advance rocket science, and not just collect the checks from congress.
all I can say is: Great work SpaceX
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