back to article SpaceX gets ready to crash barge-land ANOTHER rocket

Elon Musk’s other company is gearing up for its third attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket booster on a drone barge anchored at sea. The attempt will take place after a launch this Sunday, which will also see the booster send an uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule on a supply run to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s first …

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Good luck to SpaceX!

Will be following online, with great anticipation!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good luck to SpaceX!

Did anybody else read that the attempt "will take place after lunch this Sunday" ?

Oh no, it's just me then :-)

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Boffin

I'll go with Wernher von Braun there.

He famously said that so long as you get telemetry about the failure, it's not a failure. We're talking about rocket science here, which often is edge-of-the-art and not just state of it. It's a high-risk business.

So long as they get data as to what went wrong, and how, they can improve on it. That's how progress is made. So, scratch a few million US$ right now if this goes wrong, but in the long run, once the wrinkles have been ironed out, things become more reliable and far cheaper.

Many people these days seem to have forgotten that big things don't happen overnight... big development takes big time, and in space technology, just about everything is big. Musk is sticking with it (like von Braun did, and many others during that crucial period in space travel development). I hope he will continue to do so.

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Boffin

Re: I'll go with Wernher von Braun there.

Yep, completely agree.

We seem to be so risk-averse nowadays that it makes you wonder if, were we to go back a hundred years, but keep the same attitudes as we have now, whether many of the technological advances we have today would have survived the initial experimental stage without someone calling for them to be cancelled.

Would we have any civil aviation, or space program, if those who gave their lives in the early stages had meant that the testing and experimentation was deemed too dangerous?

Indeed, if you go back further, would the original American settlers have decided it was too risky to explore inland and to the the west, and still be stuck on the east coast?

Nobody wants to see people die, or expensive hardware get destroyed, but pushing the boundaries of technology means that accidents will happen, it is an essential part of the learning process, and we should embrace that.

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Re: I'll go with Wernher von Braun there.

Given that anyone else would just ditch the booster (and presumably SpaceX are costing/charging on that basis) its not an overly big deal if they keep having these problems for a while.

Also given its a drone barge there isnt any life at risk here - and I'd assume the barge is a relatively low cost item in the context of a launch.

Its not as if their business model requires them to get this stage working in the next couple of attempts - its just that if they do suddenly they can charge a lot less or make a lot more profit.

Naturally it'll be massively cool when it does eventually work, but realistically if it takes them another 20 attempts its probably not financially a big deal as they are already delivering the primary mission.

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Coat

Re: I'll go with Wernher von Braun there.

But as to where it comes down .. "That's not my department," says Wernher Von Braun

Sorry, had to get that one in.

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Re: I'll go with Wernher von Braun there.

"That's not my department". It was in 1944/45.

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fuel?

The first attempt didn't ran out of fuel, but hydraulic fluid: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/12/xwing_fluid_failure_caused_falcon_to_burn_its_landing_barge_says_spacex/

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Re: fuel?

It's both right and wrong, and so is your comment - since the hydraulic fluid used is fuel (after it's used by the hydraulic system, it enters the main fuel tank)

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Re: fuel?

Ok, but the direct cause of the crash was because the fuel in its role as hydraulic fluid ran out, not in its role of fuel...

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Re: fuel?

"after it's used by the hydraulic system, it enters the main fuel tank"

David,

Do you have a source for that information?

Thanks,

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Re: fuel?

No he doesn't. The grid fins as I understand it use separate hydraulic fluid tanks and are a total loss system, in that the fluid is not recycled back in to the tank. Hence it could and did run out. They don't use fuel (aviation kerosene) as far as I know.

EDIT: I take that back. There is some evidence that it does use RP1 that drains back in to the tank. Apologies. http://space.stackexchange.com/questions/7771/why-does-the-falcon-9-consume-hydraulic-fluid

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Re: fuel?

The RP-1 is used for the Merlin engine hydraulics and is recycled. The grid fin hydraulics is separate, at the other end of the rocket, not recycled and does have a limited supply. The latter is what ran dry, after which SpaceX put in a larger hydraulc fluid tank.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: fuel?

Sorry that's incorrect. It's a vented system and once used it goes overboard. The problem was they ran out of fluid so the fix was to have a bigger tank to begin with.

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Re: fuel?

I believe the consensus is that it's a lossy system, not using RP-1, but it is not yet known whether it vents overboard, or to a low pressure catch tank.

It's not transferred back to the fuel tank as that is on the other side of the LOX tank and the pipework would be too heavy and awkward.

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Thunderbirds Are GO

To make this perfect, the rocket stage should land underneath a swimming pool that has slid out of the way to reveal an underground landing pad.

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Flame

To make this really perfect it should do this WITHOUT BURNING ANY OF THE DECK CHAIRS.

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Deary me, no. It should lower itself down through the hole in the middle of the Round House.

Mind you, it should also be painted pillar box red...

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Coat

Er...

"... should land underneath a swimming pool that has slid out of the way to reveal an underground landing pad."

I believe that part of the scheme has had to be abandoned as nobody was able to source a large enough lemon-squeezer ...

My sources tell me that a sliding, fake volcanic crater lake is now under construction.

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Re: Thunderbirds Are GO

"To make this perfect, the rocket stage should land underneath a swimming pool that has slid out of the way to reveal an underground landing pad."

F A B.

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Joke

re:Thunderbirds Are GO

That's version 2.

(Not V2, that lands much harder on the house)

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Happy

"...WITHOUT BURNING ANY OF THE DECK CHAIRS."

Version 3...

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Coat

"... hole in the middle of the Round House."

TB3...

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"Mind you, it should also be painted pillar box red..."

What????????? Thunderbird 3 was ORANGE (and incidentally for info the main power source was three particle accelerators, though take-off used liquid fuel rockets for initial thrust)

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"What????????? Thunderbird 3 was ORANGE"

On a 1960s black and white television it was Red!

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Joke

Oh ok.

He's just hit the "Revert to Launch" button on his personal Kerbal Space Program I see.

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Windows

On a sunday afternoon

... At least I won't have to tell the morning desk line up to go away.... (last two times this was shot for)

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Meh

" the rockets could then be re-used, leading to considerable cost savings in terms of ongoing launches"

While I've no doubt this is the aim, I recall the same thing being promised of the space shuttle programme...

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@Annihilator

Good point. Also, assuming SpaceX successfully implements first stage reuseability, how many customers will want to risk their precious payloads to refurbished launch vehicles? I understand the mechanical stresses of launch (and now landing) are immense and may seriously degrade the launch vehicle's airframe.

I hope SpaceX succeeds, but won't be surprised if reuse is more expensive than anticipated.

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you're probably going to get differentially charged launches.....full price for new kit, 2/3 for a second-use launch, 50% for subsequent re-uses

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I'll go for a second-use launch, thanks. I know it works because it has already been tested, and it's not old & over-used yet.

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Anonymous Coward

If this one goes wrong?

"Listen, lad. I've built this kingdom up from nothing. When

I started here, all there was was swamp. All the kings said I was daft

to build a castle in a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show

'em. It sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one. That sank into the

swamp. So I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank

into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. An' that's what your gonna

get, lad -- the strongest castle in these islands."

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