SpaceX Falcon 9 historic landing thread (1st landing attempt & most recent missions)

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by georgegassaway, Dec 11, 2014.

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  1. Jan 5, 2015 #61

    georgegassaway

    georgegassaway

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    Launch is set for 6:20 AM EST, Tuesday Jan 6th.

    Here is the SpaceX Webcast link:

    http://www.spacex.com/webcast/

    This is the best place to see what happens with the landing. NASA's channel will be focusing in the Mission, so will follow the flight of the second stage and Dragon spacecraft.

    If any cable TV news channels show it live, most likely they will use the NASA feed and not the SpaceX feed. But they did not even show the Orion launch.

    UPDATE - See message #71. The SpaceX webcast will NOT show the landing live. If it works, video will be released in a day or two. This is a total turnaround from a statement made a month ago that "of course" they would show the landing live.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  2. Jan 5, 2015 #62

    BEC

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    I'm really trying to decide whether to try to get up to watch this or not (3:20 AM on this side of the country). With a one second launch window they'll only get one attempt at it in the morning. So either way (go or no go) I might be able to get a little more sleep afterward. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm........
     
  3. Jan 5, 2015 #63

    ThirstyBarbarian

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    I'm considering not exactly "getting up" to watch it. I might just go to sleep with the iPad within reach and wake up, watch it in bed, then go back to sleep for another 4 hours afterward. If I don't actually get out from under the covers, it should not be too traumatic.
     
  4. Jan 5, 2015 #64

    boatgeek

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    I hope you slept in, looks like the launch was pushed to Thursday.

    Earlier in the thread, there was some discussion about whether the first stage would fly itself from the barge to the launch site. I would be almost 100% sure that SpaceX will bring the stage in by barge rather than flying under its own power. The most important reason is economics, but risk is an important second reason. The newspaper this morning said the barge was posted 200 miles off Jacksonville. That's less than 18 hours total sailing time from port. Since the tug has to push the barge home again anyway, the additional fuel use from bringing the first stage back is negligible, probably on the order of 100-500 gallons of diesel, or $500-$2500. That's pocket change compared to the amount of fuel the stage would use.

    On to the risk argument. For the sake or argument, let's say the barge could be in port within 24 hours of touchdown, which allows 6 hours to tie up the tug to the barge, get people on board, check the rocket out, tie it down, and get underway. That might be a little optimistic, but it's not far off. Once the rocket is on the barge, what can go wrong? The only major things I see are a fuel system failure causing a fire or a structural failure of the landing legs due to landing damage or high seas. Landing damage can be inspected for, and sea state is pretty predictable within 200 miles of the coast these days. If the fuel stays in the rocket, it's a potential risk for leaks, explosion, or fire, but this can probably be managed either with inspection or defueling the rocket.

    Compare that to the risks of flying the rocket back. You would probably need to refuel the rocket, which adds time and fuel handling. You also have all of the risks of flying a rocket stage in the first place. Finally, you would probably have to plan for a trip back on the barge anyway in case something didn't check out and the return flight had to be scrubbed.

    Adding it all up, you get that flying the rocket back is more risk for more money. Everything novel I've seen SpaceX do has been of the "Wow, I didn't think that could be done" variety, not the "Wow, that seems like a really poor decision" variety. I'd be surprised if they took the high-risk high-cost approach when there is another way readily available. Of course, I'm just a lowly naval architect who works on barge transportation projects, not an aeronautical engineer. :D
     
  5. Jan 5, 2015 #65

    BLKKROW

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    https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacex/2015/01/05/falcon-9-dragon-set-for-tuesday-morning-launch/

    I still see the launch ON for tomorrow morning. What source do you have that says its on Thursday?
     
  6. Jan 5, 2015 #66

    luke strawwalker

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    There's another issue... range safety. The Air Force runs the Eastern Test Range (of which all of Cape Canaveral is a part) and they have the first and last word on what's safe and what takes place. I cannot see them allowing a rocket vehicle to fly BACK TOWARD the Space Coast UNDER POWER unless it meets some very stringent safety guidelines and requirements... The question that arises is "what happens if it goes awry??" Nobody wants an out of control or malfunctioning, partially fueled rocket stage sailing back toward Florida without knowing exactly where it's going to end up or who's lap it can potentially land in... and means to deal with it to minimize or prevent damage on the ground, and prevent the possibility of it crashing into civilians or their property off-site, or debris from a destroyed vehicle that was malfunctioning.

    It's worthy to note that rockets departing after launch from CCAFS or KSC are heading east, out to sea, and AWAY from inhabited land... a returning rocket stage in a boost-back to powered descent and landing is heading back TOWARD land, and there's a LOT of inhabited area surrounding the CCAFS/KSC/MILA complex on the Space Coast... flight dispersions coupled with a destruct of a failing rocket during boostback could rain debris over a large area that is fairly heavily inhabited. Powered descent and landing at sea on a barge eliminates this risk, in exchange requiring a fairly straightforward nautical operation to secure the cargo (stage, assuming it lands safely) and return to port.

    Later! OL JR :)
     
  7. Jan 5, 2015 #67

    ThirstyBarbarian

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    Where did you hear it was pushed to Thursday? I haven't seen that news anywhere else yet.

    I'm sure you are right about bringing the stage back by barge. I may have been the one musing about flying it back, but I agree it makes a lot more sense to bring it back by barge.
     
  8. Jan 5, 2015 #68

    BEC

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    That's actually a great idea. Now that I have a 6 Plus which would be on my bedside table anyway, it would be relatively easy to do. I'll just have to have a headset handy. While my wife is a space enthusiast as well, she's not quite as enthusiastic as I am....
     
  9. Jan 5, 2015 #69

    BEC

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  10. Jan 6, 2015 #70

    georgegassaway

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    I cannot find anything online about a delay, and I checked some pretty authoritative sites.

    So from what I can tell for now, it is still set for early Tuesday morning, at 6:18 AM. If there is any delay, please post a link to the site with that news, not an "I heard" report.

    A forum post on nasapaceflight.com, with news from a mission pre-flight news conference this morning.

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35853.msg1310442#msg1310442

    Some more tidbits from the pre-launch presser:

    The webcast will focus on the primary mission.

    They may not know the results immediately since the satellite internet is not always working.

    Telemetry and video will be stored "locally" and it can take a while to transmit everything back to SpaceX.

    If it's successful, video will be released in a day ... or two.

    If Hawthorne learns it's successful, he imagines we'll find out quickly.* (I think he was implying via social media)

    The stage will stay on the barge.* It safes itself and the support ship can control the safing aspects remotely if needed.* The RP-1 stays in the rocket, "like an airplane."

    Crew will board the drone ship an hour or two after it lands to "tie down" the stage.

    ……..

    So, it seems there will NOT be any live video of the landing. That question was up in the air before a top-level exec (not Musk) had said "Of course" they would show the landing live. So either he blew it or they changed their minds.

    Sigh.

    So it seems like the Cold War Russia syndrome (if successful it'll be released in a day or two). Worse than sigh. So much for SpaceX bring "bold", they just proved they are not worthy of being called that. Chicken is more like it. Or chicken….something.

    So, no need to get up early unless to simply watch the launch of CRS-5 into orbit.

    Below is a pic of the barge /ASDS out at sea.

    -George Gassaway


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  11. Jan 6, 2015 #71

    boatgeek

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    Thursday was not from an authoritative source. Sorry, I should have said that in my first comment. I think it was something like a caption on a news site video seen early in the day and typed later.

    I can imagine that the likelihood of a problem vs. potential consequences grid would look really ugly for a rocket approaching land under power. :y:
     
  12. Jan 6, 2015 #72

    georgegassaway

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    Fond this youtube video linked to on another forum:

    LIGHT&DIGITAL

    We are light-digital space club, come from China. used the spare time to complete a *demo video for CRS5 .We wish you a successful launching tomorrow,good luck SPACEX!




    REALLY nice overall. A couple of nits, one minor and one big one. The vid shows the "grid fins" deploying shortly before landing. There was speculation of when the grid fins would be deployed, before re-entry or right after the re-entry burn was done (at 24 miles up). It was recently confirmed the grid fins will be deployed before re-entry. Which makes sense since a previous "controlled" landing that landed slowly on the ocean was about 6.2 miles off from where it was targeted to land, and it would be pretty hard for a possible 6.2 mile error to be solvable if the grid fin steering did not begin before the last 24 miles.

    However, it is possible that the grid fins might be stowed briefly during the transonic part of the descent, lots of speculation, no official info. But if that is done, then the video would be more accurate about showing deployment..... just it would be a redeploy (but probably way higher up as it should be subsonic long before it gets that close to the surface)

    The big boo-boo is when the Dragon spacecraft separates from the Second stage…. they show the second stage still thrusting while the Dragon pulls ahead of it without any thrust.

    I'm not going to wait up or get up early, since they are not going to show the landing live, and even if it works they won't show it for a day or two. Will check in sometime Tuesday.

    Whatever happens, anyone is certainly free to post an update, preferably with a good link to the news source.

    - George Gassaway
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  13. Jan 6, 2015 #73

    BLKKROW

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    Anyone else up and watching? It's 4:12M here and I'm excited the launch conditions are at 90% GO.
     
  14. Jan 6, 2015 #74

    nute

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    Watching here. Fingers crossed for a successful lunch!

    Nate
     
  15. Jan 6, 2015 #75

    BLKKROW

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    Terminal Count Abort.
     
  16. Jan 6, 2015 #76

    nute

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    Did you hear what the reason was?

    Nate
     
  17. Jan 6, 2015 #77

    Peartree

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    Missed the launch window. Next try is Thursday.
     
  18. Jan 6, 2015 #78

    cvanc

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    Well that was anti-climactic. Abort due to 'issues with the second stage'. Next try Friday.
     
  19. Jan 6, 2015 #79

    ThirstyBarbarian

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    Dang! There's 25 minutes of sleep I'm never getting back! I set the alarm for 3am Pacific and watched from that point on the SpaceX webcast up until the abort. Going back to sleep now...
     
  20. Jan 6, 2015 #80

    ThirstyBarbarian

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    I think the next attempt is Friday.
     
  21. Jan 6, 2015 #81

    cvanc

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    Yeah, they said Friday. Early morning again, didn't catch the exact time.
     
  22. Jan 6, 2015 #82

    billspad

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    Spaceflightnow.com says Friday at 5:09 A.M. It also says today's scrub was caused by drift in the second stage vector control.
     
  23. Jan 6, 2015 #83

    jmattingly13

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    That's what FTS is for. If something goes awry, BOOM goes the stage. From what I'm told, there's an Air Force guy that's always itching to press the button during launches.
     
  24. Jan 6, 2015 #84

    billspad

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  25. Jan 6, 2015 #85

    Cl(VII)

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  26. Jan 6, 2015 #86

    ThirstyBarbarian

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  27. Jan 6, 2015 #87

    georgegassaway

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    China's launch site is well inland, the stages do not make it to an ocean. If they had a self-destruct on each stage part that separates, to activate moments after staging, then instead of say one big piece that will hit one small spot, there would be hundreds of pieces falling over a wide area (and the engines would still impact very fast, probably faster than when attached to an empty tank). Although it would be nice if at least they could arrange for the Nitrogen Tetroxide and other toxic gases to vent after staging.

    But in any case, China doesn't really care about what happens to people anyway. For those who do not know, here is a link (and a few pics) of the worst rocket disaster ever. A Chinese Long March rocket that lost thrust on an engine at liftoff, causing it to veer horizontally and crash into a way-too-close village, apparently killing hundreds. THAT could have made use of a self-destruct.

    Disaster at Xichang
    An eyewitness speaks publicly for the first time about history’s worst launch accident

    http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/disaster-at-xichang-2873673/?no-ist

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    Russia also launches over land, and stages fall into (mostly sparsely) populated areas. Here is an old article that has a lot of pics, i'll just include one.

    https://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K7O3RJH3R9Y

    Distro - The Spaceship Junkyard. 2000
    Jonas Bendiksen
    Space rockets consist mainly of fuel tanks and booster engine stages that never reach orbit, falling back to earth when spent. Due to the land-locked location of Baikonur, Russia's biggest launching complex in Kazakhstan, Russian rockets do not reach the ocean before they come crashing down, often falling into populated areas.
    This photo essay looks at the areas where they land, and the people living under the flight paths, who several times a month are bombarded by flaming spaceship wrecks. Apart from the fear of having a spacecraft crash through their roofs (it happens regularly), the people in the area are plagued by the ill effects of the highly toxic rocket fuel, which they claim causes disastrous cancer rates and poisoned soil.
    However, despite the potential dangers, one group of people is getting rich from the rockets - the region's scrap metal Mafia, who thrive on the high-grade titanium and aluminum alloys.



    [​IMG]

    - George Gassaway
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  28. Jan 6, 2015 #88

    luke strawwalker

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    Yeah, BUT... if the trajectory puts it onto land and you press the button, now you have 10,000 pieces from fingernail clipping size to small automobile size that will coming down along that same trajectory, on a MUCH wider area (footprint).

    It's gotta come down somewhere, either in one piece or a million pieces...

    Later! OL JR :)
     
  29. Jan 6, 2015 #89

    luke strawwalker

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    Hope they were instructed to pee on them first-- that's about the ONLY way they'd be of any efficacy against hydrazine or N204 fumes...

    That's what the first gas masks in WWI were... gauze pads you peed into and strapped over your mouth and nose (and which of course does nothing to protect your eyes.

    Later! OL JR :)
     
  30. Jan 6, 2015 #90

    georgegassaway

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    SpaceX has had an application in process for many months (perhaps a year or more) with CCAFS (Cape Canaveral Air Force Station) for permission to land back near the launch site. It is still awaiting approval. The speculation is that CCAFS wants to see demonstrations of controlled landings before they will grant permission. So if the barge landings are successful, the CCAFS will proably approve RTLS landings.

    Now, only top officials at SpaceX know exactly what the original plan for creating the landing barge (ASDS) was. It has become apparent that in the long term, for Falcon-9 Heavy, the center core stage could never fly back to land, it needs to land hundreds of miles downrange. So the barge may have been bought and modified with THAT as the main objective. But without permission for the existing Falcon-9 first stages to fly back to the launch site (RTLS), the barge could be put into use now for landing at sea. Or, they may have planned for the first Falcon-9 landings to be on that barge to begin with, for various reasons, including not having to wait for approval for RTLS before attempting to soft-land a real space launch flight's booster onto a solid surface for reuse.

    Also of course there is less fuel needed to land on the barge than to do a RTLS, so the vehicle can launch a greater payload into orbit by landing the 1st stage at sea rather than RTLS (of course if they need to launch a very heavy payload, they use up all the 1st stage fuel as conventional expendable rockets, and lose that stage. Which later down the road may be a good way to "retire" many of the re-used stages coming up near the end of their rated flight cycle…. whatever that might be).

    The story now seems to be that if the landings are successful, and if CCAFS gives permission for RTLS, SpaceX will then have three options for Falcon-9 launched payloads, mostly dependent on payload mass. Lighter payloads can afford the fuel for the first stage to RTLS (and avoid the extra expenses of sending crews, ships, and the ASDS barge for sea landings). Middle-range payloads (like the current CRS-5 mission) can land the 1st stage at sea, on the barge (costing more, but getting more into orbit than the RTLS flights can). Max-payload missions will be expendable, with a higher launch cost of course (once SpaceX is able to factor in the savings of reused stages, since for now all are based on 100% expendable costs, and the first re-used stages flown at expendable prices would effectively help to pay for the costs of the reusability program and related hardware like the ASDS landing barge).

    Therefore, the RTLS permission from CCAFS is really critical for Falcon-9 Heavy. Because it has three Falcon-9 boosters. One in the center, and two on the sides (as described earlier in this thread). The center core will get all of its engines' fuel at first from the side boosters, causing the side boosters to burn out about 2/3 of the time a normal 1st stage fires, traveling a lot slower and with a ballistic path not traveling nearly as far downrange. So those will be a lot easier to fly back for RTLS without a big impact on payload mass. It does not seem very likely that SpaceX will come up with two more landing barges, unless for some reason CCAFS refuses to grant permission even after presumably successful sea landings. So Falcon-9 Heavy is the one that really needs to get permission for RTLS.

    And while there is no official launch date, the first Falcon-9 Heavy launch is supposed to be this year (A November 2014 article said no sooner than summer of this year).

    Now, to specifically address the dangers of a booster flying back to the launch site. The idea is that the "boostback" burn will end with a ballistic path that will be short of land. Then after the boostback and re-entry it will steer towards the landing site, never on a path that will end up going more inland than the landing spot itself (the intended landing spots have not been made public but apparently will be old abandoned launch sites at Cape Canaveral). And the RSO will have the same self-destruct capability for it coming in as they do during launch, so if somehow a failure mode in say onboard guidance kept engines still thrusting, the self-destruct by RSO would end the thrusting.

    - George Gassaway
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015

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