Boeing4ever
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SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:05 pm

SpaceX has announced that today, August 2nd, 2008 will be the launch date of the third Falcon 1 rocket. The rocket will be carrying the JumpStart military satellite.

Liftoff was scheduled for 7pm EDT, but has now been pushed to 8pm EDT. LOX loading has begun at Kwaj.

A link to the live feed is available at http://www.spacex.com/.

A.net coverage however, will be here.  Smile

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:32 pm

First stage LOX loading complete. Second stage is at 50%.

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:41 pm

LOX loading complete. T-55 hold in place.

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:52 pm

Correction on the payload:

The Falcon 1 Flight 3 mission carries a total of nearly 170 kilograms (375 pounds) of payload,
consisting of three separating satellite payloads; Trailblazer, PRESat, and NanoSail-D, which are all
carried and deployed from the Secondary Payload Adaptor and Separation System (SPASS) which
is owned and developed by ATSB of Malaysia.


...per the presskit.

http://www.spacex.com/SpaceX_F1-003_PressKit.pdf

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:59 am

Abort.

Detanking underway. No word on when countdown will resume or if launch will be scrubbed today.

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Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:53 am

Now in final countdown for launch at 11:00pm ET.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:03 am

Same thing happened to Flight No.2 last year. They still launched that day, but that was a lot earlier in the launch window.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:03 am

T-0.5 sec...ABORT.

Standing by to find out which parameter didn't jive.

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:14 am

Word is, depending on the cause of the abort they may still recycle the countdown from T-10 minutes.

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nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:15 am

Also similar to last year, 1 out of 184 parameters was 1% out of range. Cautious folks.
Anon
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:24 am



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 9):
Also similar to last year, 1 out of 184 parameters was 1% out of range. Cautious folks.

That was basically the cause of most of those last-second Shuttle launch aborts, too.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:27 am

And here we go again... new launch time is about 11:34pm ET.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:28 am

Launch sequence recycled, strongback retracted again, T-7 minutes and counting.

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Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:34 am

LIFTOFF! Falcon 1 No.3 has cleared the tower.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:37 am

Looks like a launch failure.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:37 am

Liftoff.

There has been an anomoly on the vehicle.

More word to come.

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DfwRevolution
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:41 am

Wow, talk about hard knocks for Space X. Falcon 1 is sure turning into an ornery little LV  Sad

0-3
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:49 am

This is bad news all around. I wouldn't be surprised if Elon Musk pulls the plug on SpaceX now. He already went on record as saying he'd only give it three failures before he starts thinking about giving up on it.

If they can't get Falcon 1 flying, forget about Falcon 9.

There's still Orbital with Taurus II/Cygnus, but SpaceX was clearly the front-runner and now they're a gigantic question mark.

Look for Congress to really start arguing for continuing the Shuttle after 2010 now.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:49 am

Tough break indeed. This flight didn't even make it to staging before the feed cut out.

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Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:57 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 18):
This is bad news all around. I wouldn't be surprised if Elon Musk pulls the plug on SpaceX now. He already went on record as saying he'd only give it three failures before he starts thinking about giving up on it.

He did go on record stating he regretted that remark. Of course SpaceX now has a manifest with clients, so pulling the plug may not be so simple.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 18):
If they can't get Falcon 1 flying, forget about Falcon 9.

There's still Orbital with Taurus II/Cygnus, but SpaceX was clearly the front-runner and now they're a gigantic question mark.

I really am hoping to see Dragon fly.  Sad

Quoting Thorny (Reply 18):
Look for Congress to really start arguing for continuing the Shuttle after 2010 now.

Well that's Congress for ya. That ignores the total tear down and recert for the orbiters, plus the commitment to Orion. I'd say that program will be accelerated...though I wonder about the Ares issues.

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DfwRevolution
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:10 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 18):
This is bad news all around. I wouldn't be surprised if Elon Musk pulls the plug on SpaceX now. He already went on record as saying he'd only give it three failures before he starts thinking about giving up on it.

IIRC, Flight 4 was slated for September prior to tonight's failure. That would probably mean that the next vehicle is nearing completion, barring any modifications that come out of the Flight 3 aftermath. After the hundreds of millions he has already sank, the extra cost of seeing Flight 4 are going to be very small.

So there's no good reason not to stick with it a little longer. But if Flight 4 fails, I think he should drop SpaceX like a hot potato.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:15 am



Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 19):
He did go on record stating he regretted that remark. Of course SpaceX now has a manifest with clients, so pulling the plug may not be so simple.

Irrelevant. Watch his customers depart at the speed of light (see Delta III.) There are alternatives to Falcon 1 available now (Pegasus, Taurus, Rokot, Dnepr) or very soon (Vega.) No one will trust SpaceX with a payload until they've put one in orbit. Falcon No.4, if Musk doesn't call it quits, will have to fly without a real payload. There's no way around that now. That means a lot more out of pocket expenses for Musk. I strongly suspect his customers won't wait another 17 months for him to prove Falcon 1. And with customers departing in droves and the bills stacking up... no, I think Falcon died tonight.

Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 19):
I really am hoping to see Dragon fly.

My bet is that Falcon is dead and SpaceX will switch to launching Dragon on Atlas V. But the price increase will be huge and the program might well go belly-up before it gets to first flight.

I hope I'm wrong.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:19 am



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 20):

So there's no good reason not to stick with it a little longer.

SpaceX supporters made that assertion last time. The "easy fix" and "just a few months" ended up taking 17 months to "fix" Falcon 1, and this flight actually did a lot worse than Flight 2.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:26 am



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 20):
IIRC, Flight 4 was slated for September prior to tonight's failure. That would probably mean that the next vehicle is nearing completion, barring any modifications that come out of the Flight 3 aftermath. After the hundreds of millions he has already sank, the extra cost of seeing Flight 4 are going to be very small.

So there's no good reason not to stick with it a little longer.

 checkmark 

Quoting Thorny (Reply 21):
Irrelevant. Watch his customers depart at the speed of light (see Delta III.) There are alternatives to Falcon 1 available now (Pegasus, Taurus, Rokot, Dnepr) or very soon (Vega.) No one will trust SpaceX with a payload until they've put one in orbit. Falcon No.4, if Musk doesn't call it quits, will have to fly without a real payload. There's no way around that now. That means a lot more out of pocket expenses for Musk. I strongly suspect his customers won't wait another 17 months for him to prove Falcon 1. And with customers departing in droves and the bills stacking up... no, I think Falcon died tonight.

Of course I'm not a Kool-Aid drinker. The hardware for Flight 4 should be nearing completion, so I think as a matter of investment, we'll see it go up...whether it succeeds or not. You make very sound arguments and I'm not totally disagreeing, but -004 will go to Kwaj, I'm certain.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 21):
My bet is that Falcon is dead and SpaceX will switch to launching Dragon on Atlas V. But the price increase will be huge and the program might well go belly-up before it gets to first flight.

COTS C1 should be in fabrication stages now. They recently were beginning low level component testing for the first flight. After the effort it took to get through CDR for just that flight (they have three CDRs for each demo flight and they're getting through them in lock step), the cost increase at this point would be rather large. Dragon is designed around Falcon 9. Adapting it for Atlas will set it back a lot...to the point where I believe it'd make sense to just go with Orion.

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Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:37 am



Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 23):
The hardware for Flight 4 should be nearing completion,

I don't mean to be so negative... its just the disappointment talking.

On the other hand, Boeing left lots of Delta III components lying around too. Customers wouldn't go near the thing. And that was Boeing.
 
787atPAE
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:43 am

I find it ironic that inertial guidance was supposed to kick in when this failure occurred (L+2:20). The launch sequence can be read via www.spaceflightnow.com.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:46 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 24):
I don't mean to be so negative... its just the disappointment talking.

On the other hand, Boeing left lots of Delta III components lying around too. Customers wouldn't go near the thing. And that was Boeing.

All we can do at the moment is speculate. When the cause of the failure of 003 is known, then the picture will start getting clearer. Note I said 004 will make it to Kwaj...I never said it'll make it to orbit. Disappointment all around tonight indeed.

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nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:48 am

The message from Musk tonight says the next two Falcon 1 rockets being prepared for launches. "SpaceX will not skip a beat in execution going forward. We have Flight 004 of the Falcon 1 almost ready for flight and Flight 005 right behind that."

He's also given a go-ahead to begin fabrication of Flight 006.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com./falcon/003/status.html

Guess not everybody is so ready to surrender.
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BWilliams
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:34 am

Any other information on what the exact faillure mode was?

Obviously, a total loss of vehicle and payload?

Too bad, for a project that seemed to have a lot of promise.
Regards, Brad Williams
 
nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:59 am

Sorry for the cheap shot.

It looks like the stages failed to separate. Possibly a problem when the second stage tanks pressurized prior to separation. Part of the fix for the last problem was to change the way separation occurred to avoid the contact with the Kestrel nozzle that caused the oscillation. It looks like they didn't fix it very well. Or somebody right now is saying "I thought you pulled the safe pin"
Pegasus runs about $30 million last I heard. I imagine there will be agencies willing to put up a token payment to risk a few hundred grand payload on the next mission.
You need to remember that Boeing is a money making monster. Elon Musk is a twelve year old boy who dreams of being on Mars with a whole lot of money.
So far the Merlin has been as rock solid as any motor ever built. I think they're finding out that putting a payload in orbit without a thousand engineers scrutinizing every detail six different ways isn't as easy as it sounds. I hope the changes they made after 2 were the cause of the failure, because few things are worse than systems that work sometimes.

Poor Bigelow must be getting kind of antsy waiting for a ride to his hotel.

[Edited 2008-08-03 00:01:36]
Anon
 
787atPAE
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:07 am

This may be a silly question, but when was the last time a startup company tried to do what SpaceX is doing now? They seem to be essentially starting from scratch and not using an increment like Delta(n+1) or Atlas(n+1).

My limited experience would say the last time a new company tried to start from scratch would be in the 50s and 60s during the heyday of the beginning of the space race.

Does anybody else know better? I'm kind of thinking they may be in over their heads, but let's let the next few launches speak for themselves as they will speak volumes as to how and what SpaceX can learn about launch vehicles and how complex they need to be.
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:50 pm



Quoting BWilliams (Reply 28):
Any other information on what the exact faillure mode was?

Nope. SpaceX boarded up the windows and hid in the cellar the second the thing failed. Not exactly the best way to "win friends and influence people."

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 27):
Guess not everybody is so ready to surrender.

Time will tell. Musk will have a huge uphill battle to keep/win back his customers. NASA has got to be deeply concerned about its COTS contract now, too. They already pulled one COTS contract for non-performance, and right now the confidence level in Falcon 9 must be approaching zero.

Musk can defiantly proclaim he'll continue all he wants, but lets see what the Real World does to his plans in the next few weeks, when the Air Force moves its payloads to Pegasus, Taurus or Minotaur and his commercial customers start talking to Russia about Dnepr.

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 29):
Sorry for the cheap shot.

No problem. Lots of disappointment in the air tonight.

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 29):
So far the Merlin has been as rock solid as any motor ever built.

The first Falcon failed because the Merlin caught fire. Not exactly "rock solid". Sure, it was just a corroded nut, but it still took a year to fix (the sort of long "study and fix" that SpaceX chided the 'establishment' for doing that drives up costs.) Flight 3 was the first flight of the improved Merlin 1C (in retrospect, they probably shouldn't have delayed this flight so long waiting for the engine, and should have just performed another test flight of the original engine to cut the loooooooong downtime.)

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 29):
I think they're finding out that putting a payload in orbit without a thousand engineers scrutinizing every detail six different ways isn't as easy as it sounds.

Boy, that's the understatement of the year.  Sad

Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 29):
Or somebody right now is saying "I thought you pulled the safe pin"

If so, it will undermine SpaceX, which likes to boast that it is so low-cost because they don't need "inspectors for the inspectors" like the big guys do. Oops. Yes they do. Customers will only put up with their cavalier attitude so long before the lure of saving money gets overwhelmed by the need to actually get their payloads in orbit.

Quoting 787atPAE (Reply 30):
This may be a silly question, but when was the last time a startup company tried to do what SpaceX is doing now? They seem to be essentially starting from scratch and not using an increment like Delta(n+1) or Atlas(n+1).

Orbital Sciences with Pegasus in 1990 (successful).
EER Systems with Conestoga in 1995 (launch failure).
Beal Aerospace with the BA-2 in 1997 (canceled before first launch).
Kistler with the K-1 in 1996 (canceled before first launch).
Rotary Rocket with Roton in 1999 (canceled after atmospheric test flights.)
 
nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:35 pm

I'd be greatful if you never mentioned Roton again.
I'd always been disappointed that the Dotcom millionaires seemed to be so lacking when it came to how to invest their billions. I sincerely hope that one of the few who actually had a vision manages to learn what he needs to learn to get this puppy off the ground. (For moe than 5 minutes) I just hope the telemetry lasted a little longer than the camera feed. I guess there's not much chance the parachutes deployed if the stages never separated.
Anon
 
787atPAE
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 4:10 pm



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 32):
(For moe than 5 minutes) I just hope the telemetry lasted a little longer than the camera feed.

Speaking of camera feed: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1299

While watching the video at that link, it really bothered me to hear folks whooping and hollering during the launch. I used to work on the shuttle program on the ascent side, and I swear I could hold my breath for those 8.5 minutes.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 31):
Orbital Sciences with Pegasus in 1990 (successful).

Pegasus cheats in a way.  Smile They get launched above most of the atmosphere and don't have to beef up their structure to get through the thick part of the atmoshpere. I wonder what the max dynamic pressure Pegasus sees compared to Shuttle/Delta/Atlas.

I believe what SpaceX is going through now is similar to what is documented in the movie "The Right Stuff" (at least for the videos of the launch failures). The only difference is SpaceX is not getting their money from the US government. Given enough time and resources, they will get it right (naturally). But will their customers give them the time anymore?
 
Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:20 pm



Quoting 787atPAE (Reply 33):
I believe what SpaceX is going through now is similar to what is documented in the movie "The Right Stuff" (at least for the videos of the launch failures).

That was 50 years ago and we learned a lot of lessons the hard way through all those launch failures. SpaceX seems to be deliberately, even enthusiastically, ignoring those lessons. The fuel slosh that killed Flight No.2 was not something new an unexpected.
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:45 am

Did anyone else notice the oscillations early in the flight before inertial guidance activation? Looked similar to what happened to DemoFlight 2's 2nd stage.

Disappointing all around.

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nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:57 am

A few second hand words from Elon
"We're not quite ready to release details on the initial investigation yet, but we should do it very soon. We think we have a very good idea but I don't want to get ahead of ourselves and then be wrong. We definitely know where the problem occurred, but 'why?' is the question. We think we know, but have to be sure. We think it's very small and will require a tiny change, so tiny that if we had another rocket on the pad we could launch tomorrow."
"Some things can only be tested in space. Bear in mind, Falcon 1 is our test vehicle. The reason we started with F1 isn't because I'm passionate about launching small satellites, but because I want to make mistakes on a small scale and not a large one. And this doesn't appear to be a quality issue or a manufacturing issue. It's a design issue related to new hardware that has only flown on this flight. It was our first with the new Merlin 1C regeneratively cooled engine. The problem we think we've identified is a lesson learned and thus we won't make it on the big Falcon 9, and in that sense it's helpful."
http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2008/08/musk_qa

[Edited 2008-08-06 17:58:01]
Anon
 
BWilliams
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:00 am

Quoting the above article: "The light-lift Falcon 1 was lost after its two stages failed to separate during the launch from the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean."

Are they referring to the most recent launch, or is this supposed to refer to #2?

If #3 had another separation issue, I suspect the next launch will be delayed more then Mr. Musk claims.
Regards, Brad Williams
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Thu Aug 07, 2008 11:42 am



Quoting BWilliams (Reply 37):
Are they referring to the most recent launch, or is this supposed to refer to #2?

The most recent flight (#3) on Aug. 2nd, 2008.

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nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:36 pm

Four methods of analysis – vehicle inertial measurement, chamber pressure, onboard video and a simple physics free body calculation – all give the same answer.

The problem arose due to the longer thrust decay transient of our new Merlin 1C regeneratively cooled engine, as compared to the prior flight that used our old Merlin 1A ablatively cooled engine. Unlike the ablative engine, the regen engine had unburned fuel in the cooling channels and manifold that combined with a small amount of residual oxygen to produce a small thrust that was just enough to overcome the stage separation pusher impulse.

We were aware of and had allowed for a thrust transient, but did not expect it to last that long. As it turned out, a very small increase in the time between commanding main engine shutdown and stage separation would have been enough to save the mission.

The question then is why didn't we catch this issue? Unfortunately, the engine chamber pressure is so low for this transient thrust -- only about 10 psi -- that it barely registered on our ground test stand in Texas where ambient pressure is 14.5 psi. However, in vacuum that 10 psi chamber pressure produced enough thrust to cause the first stage to recontact the second stage.

It looks like we may have flight four on the launch pad as soon as next month. The long gap between flight two and three was mainly due to the Merlin 1C regen engine development, but there are no technology upgrades between flight three and four.

http://www.spacex.com/updates.php#Update080608

[Edited 2008-08-07 09:42:54]
Anon
 
nomadd22
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:37 pm

SpaceX has the unedited video up now. You can see the first stage drop away and come back up to hit the second stage. It turns out they thought they could trim the time from engine cutoff to stage separation from the normal 8 seconds to 2 seconds. Apparently they have a little trouble using procedures that have worked for 50 years. They thought the post cutoff burp they had in testing was just fuel burning with ambient Oxygen and wouldn't be a problem in vacuum, but loaded the wrong propellant utilization profile and had O2 left over after engine cutoff.
Anon
 
Boeing4ever
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Fri Aug 08, 2008 3:03 am



Quoting Nomadd22 (Reply 39):

Disappointing is a word thrown around alot lately in this thread. But this is NOT a new problem that was just recently discovered. The issue in which the first stage basically "chases" the second when using regen engines is something the big boys faced years ago and dealt with.

At least the fix is a software change. Flight 4 should launch before year's end. That flight is make or break now. I'm not suggesting a bloated bureaucracy like NASA, but SpaceX might want to add a layer of checks and cross checks, at least initially.

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Thorny
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:46 am



Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 41):
The issue in which the first stage basically "chases" the second when using regen engines is something the big boys faced years ago and dealt with.

Yes, NASA had a close call with Apollo 15. They'd deleted too many separation motors from the Saturn V to save weight for the J missions and 15's first stage came close to recontacting the second stage/interstage. They added the motors back for Apollo 16.

Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 41):

At least the fix is a software change.

That depends. The longer pause between first stage shut down and second stage ignition could have adverse effects. Higher gravity losses effecting performance being one of them.

Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 41):

Flight 4 should launch before year's end.

And as expected, no paying customer's payload onboard. Too bad they didn't note what happened to Delta III and accept that fact after Flight 2.

Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 41):

That flight is make or break now.

If we're not past that point already. No rocket since the pioneering days of Thor and Atlas has come back from three failures to become a successful launch vehicle. Russian's N-1 went 0-for-4 and exited the scene, with Russia pretending it never existed for the next 20 years. Europe's Europa I and II went 0-for-4 and exited the scene, but at least Europe was open about it, licked its wounds and came back with Ariane. Delta III went 0-for-3, the last flight with a dummy payload ending up in a lower than planned orbit. Customers left in droves and it never flew again.

Here are the initial launch records until first successful flight or cancellation...

Redstone (1954): 1-1 (second flight successful)
Jupiter (1955): 1-1
Atlas-A (1957): 1-2 (Atlas with only booster engines)
R-7 (1957): 1-2 (Soyuz/Molniya)
Thor (1957): 1-3
Jupiter-C (1957): 1-1
Vanguard (1957): 1-2
Atlas-B (1958): 1-1 (first three-engined Atlas)
Atlas-C (1958): 1-0
Atlas-Able (1959) 0-4 (Atlas with Vanguard second stage)
Atlas-D (1959): 1-4
Thor-Able (1959): 1-1
Thor-Agena (1959): 1-1
Titan I (1959): 1-0
Atlas-Agena (1960): 1-1
Atlas-E (1960): 1-3
Delta (1960): 1-1 (AKA Thor-Delta)
Scout (1960): 1-2
Minuteman I (1961): 1-0
Saturn 1 (1961): 1-0
Atlas-Centaur (1962): 1-1
Titan II (1962): 1-0
Minuteman II (1964): 1-0
Titan III-A (1964): 1-1
Proton (1965): 1-0
Titan III-C (1965): 1-0 (Titan III-A core with 2 large solid boosters)
Saturn 1B (1966): 1-0
Titan III-B Agena (1966): 1-0
Europa (1967): 0-4
Saturn V (1967): 1-0
Minuteman III (1968): 1-0
N-1 (1969): 0-4
Titan III-D (1971): 1-0
Titan III-E (1974): 1-1
Ariane 1 (1979): 1-0
Space Shuttle (1981): 1-0
Titan 34D (1982): 1-0
Ariane 3 (1984): 1-0
Zenit (1985):1-1
Ariane 2 (1986): 1-1
Energia (1987): 1*-0
Ariane 4 (1989): 1-0
Delta II (1989): 1-0
Titan IV (1989): 1-0
Pegasus (1990): 1-0
Atlas II (1991): 1-0 (Redesigned Atlas-Centaur without vernier thrusters)
Atlas IIAS (1993): 1-0 (Atlas II with solid boosters)
PSLV (1993): 1-1
H-2 (1994): 1-0
Pegasus XL (1994) 1-2
Taurus (1994): 1-0
Athena I (1995): 1-1
Conestoga (1995): 0-1
Ariane 5 (1996): 1-2
Athena II (1997): 1-0
Titan IV-B (1997): 1-0 (Titan IV with improved solid boosters)
Delta III (1998): 0-3
Atlas III (2000): 1-0 (Atlas II powered by Russian engine.)
GSLV (2001): 1-0
H-2A (2001): 1-0
Atlas V (2002): 1-0
Delta IV (2003): 1-0
Falcon 1 (2006): 0-3
 
Boeing4ever
Topic Author
Posts: 4479
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RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:26 pm



Quoting Thorny (Reply 42):
Yes, NASA had a close call with Apollo 15. They'd deleted too many separation motors from the Saturn V to save weight for the J missions and 15's first stage came close to recontacting the second stage/interstage. They added the motors back for Apollo 16.

Glad I held off citing a specific example, I had it in my mind that it was Apollo 6.

As long as Falcon 1-004 isn't victim of the pogo effect...

Quoting Thorny (Reply 42):
That depends. The longer pause between first stage shut down and second stage ignition could have adverse effects. Higher gravity losses effecting performance being one of them.

Well, the Falcon 1 team seems confident that they just have to add a view seconds in the pause and little more. We'll see. Wouldn't be surprised to see a lower than planned orbit if they get into orbit based on this.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 42):
And as expected, no paying customer's payload onboard. Too bad they didn't note what happened to Delta III and accept that fact after Flight 2.

Is it confirmed that there will be no customer payload? The manifest still lists ATSB.

Quoting Thorny (Reply 42):
If we're not past that point already. No rocket since the pioneering days of Thor and Atlas has come back from three failures to become a successful launch vehicle. Russian's N-1 went 0-for-4 and exited the scene, with Russia pretending it never existed for the next 20 years. Europe's Europa I and II went 0-for-4 and exited the scene, but at least Europe was open about it, licked its wounds and came back with Ariane. Delta III went 0-for-3, the last flight with a dummy payload ending up in a lower than planned orbit. Customers left in droves and it never flew again.

Here are the initial launch records until first successful flight or cancellation...

Thanks for compiling that list.

From the looks of it, I'd say SpaceX bit off too much too soon. They still haven't perfected Falcon 1 all the while they're trying to develop Falcon 9, and then saddled Falcon 9 with Dragon to boot. Maybe too much too soon for too little staff.

I still think they have a high level of technical competence in spite of the failures. (Cavalier ignorance towards obvious past lessons not withstanding.) And they have the best chance of pulling off their objectives compared to say Blue Origin. But the challenges exist. Even if Flight 4 is successful, they need to get Falcon 9 working right soon. A similar set of setbacks on that one can also doom the company. What they have going for them at least is the use of common engines and systems.

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Thorny
Posts: 1508
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:44 am

RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Fri Aug 08, 2008 11:39 pm



Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 43):
Is it confirmed that there will be no customer payload? The manifest still lists ATSB.

ATSB (a Malaysian satellite) has been bumped to Flight 5. There will still be a payload on Falcon 1 No.4 (there has to be to test it properly) but it will probably be something in-house, not from a paying customer.

Quoting Boeing4ever (Reply 43):
Maybe too much too soon for too little staff.

I think we should take that as a given.
 
nomadd22
Posts: 1566
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:42 pm

RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:09 am

I tried to do a dirty calculation of what 5 seconds of extra freefall before separation would do to payload and came up with 120 pounds of extra fuel used to make up for it. I did some guessing on second stage weight, trajectory and Kestrel thrust, but don't think I'm off by too many magnitudes.
Anon
 
gigneil
Posts: 14133
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 10:25 am

RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:03 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 22):
The "easy fix" and "just a few months" ended up taking 17 months to "fix" Falcon 1, and this flight actually did a lot worse than Flight 2.

I just want to point out that the majority of delay between those two was the switch from Merlin A1 to Merlin 1C.

Also, Falcon 1 doesn't need to succeed, just the engine. A lot of speculation is that failure in Falcon 1 flight 3 is due to all available resources being shifted to developing Falcon 9, which is all anyone really cares about, and that flight testing the Merlin 1C is more important than the rocket itself.

IDK about that, personally.

NS
 
Thorny
Posts: 1508
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:44 am

RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:22 pm



Quoting Gigneil (Reply 46):
I just want to point out that the majority of delay between those two was the switch from Merlin A1 to Merlin 1C.

That was a mistake. They should have gotten the baseline vehicle working before they started upgrading it. Flight No.3 would probably have made it if SpaceX hadn't bitten off more than they could chew.

Quoting Gigneil (Reply 46):

Also, Falcon 1 doesn't need to succeed, just the engine.

Wow. I'm sure the makers of FalconSat 2, Demosat, PREsat, Nanosail, Explorers, Razaksat, ATSB, Cubesats, SpaceDev, etc. are just overjoyed to hear THAT news! Sad That does explain Mr. Musk's song-and-dance after Flight No.2 failed, he almost cheerfully told his admirers that it was really a success. The DARPA guys, obviously, were not impressed.

Anyway, there is a lot more to space launch than the engine, and I think this is the problem that has been killing Falcons. SpaceX put their emphasis on the engine, and short-changed systems integration. Most of the hard work getting new launchers into service has been systems integration, not engine development. (Look at the history of Atlas... the engine actually worked pretty well all along, it was other glitches that kept blowing up Atlases.)

If all you needed to be successful was the engine, we'd be flying around in Rolls-Royces and General Electrics, not Boeings and Airbuses.

Quoting Gigneil (Reply 46):
all available resources being shifted to developing Falcon 9, which is all anyone really cares about,

If they can't get Falcon 1 working right, the chances they'll succeed with Falcon 9 (orders of magnitude more complex) are vanishingly small. And their timetable is a pipedream if Falcon 1 is any indication.

They need to learn to walk before they can run. Right now, they've stumbled a few times, but seem to be saying "well, that's close enough, let's go join the cross-country team."
 
Boeing4ever
Topic Author
Posts: 4479
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2001 12:06 pm

RE: SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 3 Launch Thread

Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:08 am



Quoting Thorny (Reply 47):
They need to learn to walk before they can run. Right now, they've stumbled a few times, but seem to be saying "well, that's close enough, let's go join the cross-country team."

"We won't make the same mistakes again, I can assure you that!" - Hammond
"No, no John, you're making whole new ones!" - Malcom

As preachy as The Lost World was, there's something to be said about billionaires and major engineering pet projects.

One cannot deny though that what Musk has accomplished so far has been impressive. They slashed the time between launch abort and countdown recycling on this latest flight. And Merlin 1C is truly impressive.

You're right though, systems integration has been weak. Too much automation without any checks. Automation and lean personnel are fine when you have a working system, but when you're still starting out, you've gotta "measure twice" before you "cut once".

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