I don't think this is the spirit of Tintin's gaily colored moon rocket
Shit's coming down FAST in the footage. And the barge is damn small...
Billionaire biz baron Elon Musk has revealed some detail on why his firm SpaceX's scheme to bring back a first stage booster rocket in one piece just failed on the most recent attempt. The Register reported on the drama as it unfolded on Tuesday. Once again, Falcon 9 successfully launched the capsule payload to 'nauts on the …
Shit's coming down FAST in the footage. And the barge is damn small...
Sure, but they hit that rather small spot in a large ocean - again - so targeting works.
That explanation makes sense, a sluggish valve explains why the rocket seemed to overcorrect on the footage when trying to stabilise.
It has to come down fast because it can't hover.
The throttle only goes as low as ~1.8G, so the least it can do is roughly maximum braking of a high-performance car. (0.8G)
Lower throttle isn't possible because turbopumps don't do slow, among other things.
According to Scott Manley, it's trying to drive at a brick wall at 120mph, then slam on the brakes and come to a halt just touching the wall.
This time it slammed on the brakes ever so slightly too late.
I read all 25 replies that were up when I posted. Lots of crazy suggestions about how to improve it but no-one sees to have suggested the most obvious...? Make the legs of the rocket wider. Yeah I'm sure it'll add weight but can't see how it would be too much and surely the current setup means the likelihood of topple-over is high. Even a wave could topple an upright and stationary rocket. wider legs = more stable once down. Am I missing something
Maybe use a variant of the Royal Navy's solution for helicopters.
Add a "harpoon" to each foot and land on a metal grid; the harpoons would require a bit of lateral "float" so they don't prevent the feet from touching down and once down the harpoons would keep the rocket from tipping over. Even a single harpoon, deployed from the base of the rocket, could do the job, maybe with a mechanism to take up slack on touchdown.
"Faster, godammit! What, call that a fireball!? And how long was that cut, what like 8, 9 seconds? Well get to the editing desk, we'll cut away to the chick three times, last time running in slowmo with the explosions. Yeah, there's a chick. Yeah, explosions plural, one per rocket. Oh you ARE kiddin' me now, just one rocket?
What? He has too much money? He earned that money. If he didn't have that money there would be no reusable space program, just garbage government programs.
"Let's finally get back to taking risks again."
Without any money to do it with right?
Note this guy risked his whole fortune on this and you think he has too much money? You'd rather the government spent it all on welfare I suppose.
It's his money. He earned it.
As far I can see, he has managed to start up a quite successful private sector launch biz, that is lowering cost to orbit, by a lot.
Now he's managing to piggyback experiments to save even more money by salvaging the first stage, but on the back of his regular launches. Icing on the cake, so to speak. Failure? No big deal. Success? Potentially, big deal.
Risk taking? It's not just about risks, it's about payoffs as well. Our governments regularly take big risks with our money. The F35 comes to mind.
Now, I realize it is fashionable to bitch about people with $$$, but if there were more Bill & Melinda Gates foundations & more more Musks, we would be doing better for it. Even, if for any one of those, we get 50x Target Canada CEOs driving
their their shareholders' business into the ground and getting massive bonuses along the way.
Rich man's toy? One wishes there were more like him.
p.s. my engineering suggestion? have a cat's cradle/spider web gantry of collapsible cables on the landing area and aim for it. make it so the rocket falls through it on landing but is kept upright afterwards.
You are spot on right. Musk is taking risks (measured of course), but risks for sure. It's exciting to finally see someone who puts is money, time and resources on the future, making things happen, thinking outside the box and more. I remember as a 10 year old, my heart would pound on every Apollo launch. I feel that again with Musk and SpaceX and Tesla. Old political and business philosophies are being refreshed, and it's about time. Go SpaceX!
Some other dude compared his feat into balancing a long broom handle on a finger ..and it sound about right...we all know its possible, but not easy sometimes. with predictability of the winds, and other variables, I think its still very good that its lands on the barge :D..
So, moving forward ...a para chute holding down the descent would decrease the whole velocity deal a lot, and provide more time for control.
small waves in the wrong direction will make it fall with the current setup. those valves are becoming very expensive ...
they definitely edited the video because they don't want our help :)
That is not going to happen (land return) until and unless they show consistent success bringing it in at sea. The government isn't going to allow an unproven landing of a fueled rocket on land without that success record. By the way, that last attempt wouldn't have been successful on land, either.
What success record did the Grasshopper and DC-X have when they started flying?
None. Which is why when they started flying they did so in the middle of big empty spaces with insufficient fuel or velocity to reach anywhere breakable. There's quite a bit of expensive and fragile kit hanging around the Cape that you don't want to land on top of...
"There's quite a bit of expensive and fragile kit hanging around the Cape that you don't want to land on top of.."
"The remotest possibility of dropping on on a house (or an offshore boat) will scupper any permission to bring 'em onshore."
I know, my house is in the vicinity. My phone has been buzzed by the county government telling me to stay indoors while the clouds of toxic propellant from failed Delta II and Titan IV launches went past. The unpowered shuttle and its tanks of toxic OMS/RCS propellants have rattled my window with sonic booms during landing approaches several times. (I kept thinking it was neighbor kids kicking my garage door, which shows how slow I learn.)
Fortunately, to deal with problems of wayward rockets there are range safety devices. That's how Cape Canaveral has remained a test site for so long in a populated area: when rockets misbehave they get deliberately blown up before they do more than wreck cars in the Cape's parking lot. A wayward Falcon returning from over the Atlantic presents an unusually long approach compared to launches from the Cape, and thus provides a lot of time to hit the Big Red Button if the Falcon's not headed in the correct direction.
The launch pads and landing strips of Cape Canaveral have been handling exploding rockets for decades. If a floating barge can handle them, so can many square kilometers of concrete-and-steel-and-swamp landing sites. The record for spaceflight in Brevard remains much better than local drivers and airplane pilots.
Cray74 and others: You guys don't get it. The "Range" people will not approve a trajectory that launches over land or returns over land (with fuel on board). That represents an unacceptable hazard to the public. You can't blow something up, directed or by accident, and have debris coming down with an uncertain destination. There is no practical way to do this.
"What success record did the Grasshopper and DC-X have when they started flying?"
There isn't a lot of human habitation around White Sands Missile Range, unlike kennedy Space Centre.
SpaceX need to prove they can at least hit the barge every time, even if they don't recover the rockets. The remotest possibility of dropping on on a house (or an offshore boat) will scupper any permission to bring 'em onshore.
Just so it's clear, the booster returns the surface about 200 miles from the launch point, not at the launch point itself. That would be perfect for Vandenburg on the west coast with all that desert inland to the east, but then they would have to launch over substantial populations and any little mishaps on the way up would risk visiting fiery death to civilians on the ground.
Not sure where they could safely launch and come down on land, to be honest. Probably not in the US.
I saw one "plan" (youtube) where the booster would separate, flip and fire the engine(s) for a retro burn. They just have to get it going fast enough to start dropping and heading back the way they came. As the earth rotates (600 mph I believe at the Cape), it'll shorten the distance by some miles, not many, but it makes it closer). After retro, the thing flips again on the way down to touchdown at point of launch. Rather complex if you ask me, but I'm not a rocket scientist.
Just so it's clear, the booster returns the surface about 200 miles from the launch point, not at the launch point itself.
You missed one - transporting the rocket back 200 miles on land is a major logistical exercise. Transporting it on a barge at sea is a piece of cake.
Vandenberg launches go south over the ocean. There are some Navy owned islands to the south the booster could land on. As it happens they are just offshore from the SpaceX factory in Hawthore.
You are correct about going East from VAFB it will never happen, millions of people live under that flightpath.
> By the way, that last attempt wouldn't have been successful on land, either.
What makes you so sure? The big hurdles are: near-zero vertical and horizontal speed during touchdown on a very small target. Remove one of those difficulties and perhaps the landing might have succeeded.
Whilst "hitting" land is a much bigger target, you still require near zero vertical and horizontal speed at touchdown. Without near zero horizontal, the moment the base touches the ground and gains zero horizontal, it'll tip over...
... Unless you mount shopping trolley wheels on the base of the fins...
The government isn't going to allow an unproven landing of a fueled rocket on land without that success record.
SpaceX have done it on land already, as can be seen in the article footage link (the cow-scaring video clip).
Quite impressive and getting closer now, amazing what they have managed to achieve. I can't help thinking, though, that the real solution is something other than chucking tons of hot gas out of the bottom to force Newton's third law.
Mmm...perhaps, increasing the surface area of the whole vehicle by deploying a parachute might be counter-productive as not only would the wind be playing greater havoc with the steering, but the hot exhaust gases would undoubtedly interact with the 'chute in so many unpredictable ways that the whole system would be nothing short of chaos
The obvious answer is to present the suppliers of the sub standard valves with the repair bill and push on, knowing that, that's one set of components that will never, ever fail again.
Strange how filthy lucre manages to spur businesses on to greater heights, when traits like, pride and professionalism have clearly failed to inspire.
Not sure I would want to ride in any kind of space vehicle made by a company that considers a catastrophic explosion and total vehicle loss as 'landing fine'.
How is it possible that in the year 2015 we are actually worse at orbital transport than we were in the 1960's?
Also, it's not an 'autonomous spaceport droneship'- if it needs a tugboat to bring the charred remains back to port it's called a 'barge'.
In the 60s, the rockets fell/tumbled out of control and crashed into the ocean each and every time, well, except for the times they blew up on the pad. This still happens today, and rocket debris washes up on shores in south america. SpaceX is doing something new trying to do a powered softlanding.
I wonder if the difference is landing over open Sea as opposed to Land.
Not only are electrical potentials and currents really different, but reflectivity off the surface is different and even level surfaces can vary quite a bit from the horizon and be hard to distinguish or compensate for.. perhaps the Throttle performed as designed.. but the feedback system was tricked by the vastly different environment.
As far as I know Google Maps could steer you down a few thousand fathoms before putting you back on track.
They need to invent a pulse modulated "phased array" electromagnetic Tractor Beam. A single solenoid disperses broadly. But if they have an array of them they can "Beam Steer" and grasp a target. With a phase "enhancer" or a solenoid onboard, they could concentrate it and end up with a nice periodic impulse. Then they could use that to gently tug or push it around off deck to correct.
I still don't get why they're bothering with a costly system with loads of fuel to land it rather than use parachutes, inflatables and recover. Or at least as suggested above, parachute to slow and then rockets enough to avoid it slamming down hard, though I'd still go for landing in water rather than explode crashing into a deck.
If you deploy a whopping big parachute the only thing you can be reasonably sure about is that you won't land anywhere near where you want to. The point is that rockets are rather large hard to transport so as soon as you land somewhere else then your designated landing spot you will be faced with the problem of how to explain the new garden decorations to some unsuspecting pensioner.
BTDT. They tried parachutes with the Falcon 1. They presumably decided they prefer powered landings, possibly for the potentially better accuracy.
As an aside, note that thrust to weight in this process is greater than 1. The rocket never hovers, but must come to a halt at the bottom of decent as it touches the pad for everything to succeed.
This booster recovery process that SpaceX is attempting is not close to being successful. And remember, in order for SpaceX to be profitable, they need to do it consistently. A far more practical way to reduce launch costs is being developed by ULA. Since 65% of the cost of a booster is its engines, they are looking to recover the booster engine module via parachute and helicopter capture.
> ..in order for SpaceX to be profitable, they need to do it consistently.
No, they only need to recover some of the boosters, not all of them. Each booster they save has a big impact on mission profitability. And I'd guess the launches will be making a little profit even with NO recovered boosters.
ULA wasn't trying to do crap in the reusable rockets department until Spacex started testing grasshopper.
In fact their CEO, Bruno, said:
"Bruno said firing engines to control a rocket's flight back to Earth, as SpaceX is now trying to do with its Falcon 9 booster, wastes fuel that could help deliver payloads to orbit.
"That's how rocket engineers see the world," he said. "That's all energy you could have used to put a bigger payload in the same orbit, or the same payload further up.""
And remind me how many REAL LIFE tests ULA have performed with this Engine-Helicopter capture schizzle?
Whats that? Vulcan is vapourware produced by a bunch whose number is increasing looking like its up?
Feel free to post back when Vulcan is actually flying. (2019 if it doesn't slip).
Just because you're a rich f*** doesn't mean you can shower the oceans with your toxic rocket crap. I and my family eat the products coming from those oceans and we don't want rocket fuel, radioactive and toxic compounds in them.... QUIT. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT to foul our planet just because you say so.
Er, yeah. About that. Elon Musk is pretty much the only rocket operator actively working towards NOT doing that. Every other rocket operator dumps spent stages in the ocean (or whatever remains of said stages after they burn up on re-entry). Also, I don't believe there is any radioactive material present in any rocket at all (with the possible exception of military payloads or interplanetary probes, neither of which regularly land in oceans).
I swore to myself I'd never rise to troll bait. I feel somehow disappointed that I've broken that oath and validated your existence by acknowledging your comment.
"Just because you're a rich f*** doesn't mean you can shower the oceans with your toxic rocket crap. "
Someone hasn't checked the MSDSs for the Falcon 9. When you get done inventing false claims about the toxicity of the rocket, why don't you actually look up its choice of materials and fuels?
The rocket fuel has, so far, all burnt up. That's kinda the problem, in fact...it's burning up uncontrollably in the form of an explosion! When SpaceX is done the rocket will land on the platform, get seafastened and return to shore- all without leaking anything worse than you'd get from a regular boat (Slightly oily water, maybe some rig wash or other detergent- it's a drone ship so there'd be no human waste to clean or flush).
As for radioactivity, seawater contains an amount of uranium so high as to be under serious consideration as a source of nuclear fuel. It's plenty radioactive enough. Plus an excellent shield against radiation, so fish would need to get really close to get irradiated.
So when they're finished, no SpaceX launch will pollute the seas. And as they'll be the best option at that time, no-one will use their competitors.
Compare this to the fishing industry, which is just terrifyingly bad for the environment and has no plans to improve.
> ...I suspect the hot air balloon needed to hold up that rocket would be prohibitavely HUUUGE.
Correct. Therefore we go even further outside the box.
I envision a landing that goes about the same as now, except that the booster is halted about 30 meters off the deck instead of right on the deck. Then a giant (and well-padded) mechanical hand swoops in and grabs the booster, lowering it to the deck safe and sound.
If the aim or level is a bit off, no problem, the hand can compensate. As for engineering, well, the booster is mostly empty and not too heavy to contemplate holding up with a giant hand (or two). Of course it might get crushed a bit in the middle, but if it saves the engines...
Promising...but it still leaves the rocket 200 miles from where you really wanted it. So give the giant robot arm a whiffle bat (so as not to hurt the rocket) and clout it back to the launch pad (probably need a jumbo bouncy castle ready to land on: for the prototype could use lots of firemen holding a big sheet between them) The parts you need are probably all in the Acme catalog.
The fact that the guy is rich, and has had considerable success, doesn't ensure success with every venture.
As others have stated..... the variables at play, may prove to much to ensure consistent safe landings.
Getting it right once, will prove nothing.
I wonder how the SABRE project is getting on..... it seems assured that HOTOL spaceships will wipe out the classic rocketry.
Thats because the vehicles were far smaller.
Tracy Island is off the coast of Flores in Indonesia, and the whole family are all about 4'2" tall, so giant sized rocket ships weren't needed.
This is also why they were able to get about in a mole cruiser, and we can't buy one.
That's because the vertical-takeoff Thunderbirds landed on ground. SpaceX have already done that.
Plus, when landing they dropped onto a catching apparatus. Which is what SpaceX needs, actually- something to catch the underside of the rocket and fasten it down.
Nothing has been proven too hard to do yet. Only very few attempts have been made, compared to the large number of failures in early rocket history. If it can be made to work in theory, then it can be made to work in practice, and I'm pretty sure Space X has done it in theory (computer simulations) many times.
I'm not sure a side landing appreciably improves your odds of a soft touchdown. Now you're trying to initiate a controlled tumble that stops exactly at the right spot, and you'll have engineering issues reinforcing part of the rocket that currently isn't intended to withstand that sort of stress.
The targeting computer for the rocket seems to be extremely accurate - why cant they add something like a, (fairly tall), flexible inverted cone wire cage on the deck that the rocket can settle into and clamp around the body of the thruster when it gets low enough, (and presumably prior to impact with the deck itself)? The accuracy of the targeting should be enough to get the booster reasonably central in the cage and the cone shape would take care of the final few feet of lateral displacement..
It seems to me that would negate the need for actual hard landing capability and provide the booster with stabilisation after the rocket engines are shut down... might also allow for landing in rougher seas too if the cage were to grab the booster high enough up the tube..
Why not set up some exhaust ports off the main engine feed at say 45deg from the centre line
That way you could get better throttling of the main engine by opening up the off axis "engine ports"
You would be able to get some steering from them as well
Any rocket surgeons care to comment?
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