After repeated Council of Worlds slaps against Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon rocket launch and/or landings, during which the Zetas emphasized that a manned mission to Mars will not occur, they seem to have had a success. What is different about this launch and landing is that the ocean platform landing was not attempted. Instead, the stage one rocket was brought back to land in Florida. Was this the issue? Why the objection to the ocean platform landing? [and from another]http://space.stackexchange.com/questions/7753/why-did-spacex-attemp...  I understand the benefits of reusability for the rocket booster. But I don't understand why they're landing it on a barge. I've read tons of articles about this but not one has even hinted at an answer. Why is landing on a barge preferable over a launchpad or any other large flat surface that isn't moving with the waves? … Musk says the payload hit for RTLS (Return To Launch Site) is 30% vs a 15% payload hit for landing on a downrange ocean platform. … I see nobody seems to have mentioned the simplest reason why they're not landing on land: there isn't any. They launch east from Florida, and there aren't any islands in the Atlantic out there. [and from another]http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/spacex-makes-history-success...  The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the private U.S. spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June. SpaceX had not previously attempted to land a rocket on land, and it marked the firm's first successful attempt to recover a rocket from an orbital flight. Previous attempts, all unsuccessful, were attempted on floating landing pads. The 15-story first stage of rocket — used to propel the payload to 62 miles or so until the second stage takes over — successfully landed on Earth again at a prepared landing zone.

After repeated failures, which we described as warnings from the Council of Worlds, the Space X Falcon has successfully made a launch while relanding the booster rockets to Earth. What is the message here, amid this celebration? The trail of tears for Elon Musk included the Falcon exploding on launch last June 28, and the landing platform disaster on April 15. We explained that the Council was sending a message that the elite would not escape to Mars. Why then was the Falcon successfully launched with the booster rockets landed back in Cape Canaveral? Noticeably lacking this time was the landing on an ocean platform. 

Why is this key? Landing on an ocean platform did not make sense from a cost benefit analysis. Espoused for saving a mere 15% in fuel costs, it carried the overhead of the platform itself. Musk stated the reason for an ocean landing was to avoid a crash on land, near populated areas, during initial practice runs. But without a successful landing, this December 21 landing was done directly onto land. The real goal, an ocean platform landing AND launch, was dropped, so that simply launching satellites and resupplying the ISS would be involved for the present and in the future. 

Despite much crowing in the media about manned missions to Mars, all involved know this will never be accomplished. It is bravado and face saving. The missions to and from Mars would require operating during the Last Weeks and in the Aftertime, when Cape Canaveral in Florida will be awash and under water. Houston likewise will be quickly under water. The elite at NASA and hovering around Elon Musk are well aware of the ZetaTalk predictions and accuracy, and see how quickly Nibiru is approaching the Earth. They know that time is tight, the timeline compressing, and if a replacement for a land launch is not available, all is lost!

Source: ZetaTalk Chat Q&A for December 26, 2015

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Comment by M. Difato on August 4, 2020 at 4:19pm

SpaceX may fly a 16-story Starship prototype hundreds of feet into the air on Tuesday. Here's how to watch live video of the launch attempt from Texas.

  • SpaceX is developing a fully reusable rocket system called Starship-Super Heavy in Texas.
  • Before the vehicle can fly to orbit, the aerospace company needs to prove the system's core design works.
  • Elon Musk said that the latest Starship prototype, called SN5, could soon perform an experimental "hop" hundreds of feet into the air.
  • After experiencing an engine problem during a launch attempt on Monday, Musk said SpaceX will "figure out why" and try again Tuesday. 
  • Several groups should broadcast live video of the next attempt on YouTube. 

If you think grain silos can't fly, you may be in for a surprise on Tuesday.

SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, is fervently working to develop a fully reusable, 39-story rocket system in Boca Chica, a relatively remote region at the southeastern tip of Texas.

If the system, called Starship-Super Heavy, works as Musk has promised, it may reduce the cost of launching anything to space by about 1,000-fold, enable missions to the moon and Mars, and even allow for hypersonic travel around Earth.

But first, SpaceX has to see if its core designs for Starship work.

To that end, the company is moving briskly to build, test, and launch prototypes of the upper-stage spaceship, called Starship. According to a July 30 tweet from Musk, the first such full-scale vehicle will "hop" from a beachside launch site to about 492 feet (150 meters) in the air, hover parallel to the ground, and gently touch down on a concrete pad.

To tee up that test flight, SpaceX on July 30 successfully fueled and ignited a Raptor engine on its latest Starship prototype, called SN5 (short for "serial number 5").

Musk confirmed a launch attempt from Boca Chica on Monday evening, but the rocket fizzled when it was supposed to lift off the ground.

"Scrubbed for the day. A Raptor turbopump spin start valve didn't open, triggering an automatic abort," Musk tweeted shortly after the attempt. "We'll figure out why & retry tomorrow."

According to an FAA airspace notice posted on Monday morning, SN5 could fly between 9 a.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday. (For safety reasons, SpaceX is required to file such notices before launching rockets.)

Several groups with video cameras pointed at SpaceX's launch site streamed live footage of Monday's hop attempt, and they'll likely do so again Tuesday.

A YouTube feed by LabPadre shows the closest view of the SN5 prototype, while SPadre's continuous live feed (filmed from a rooftop on South Padre Island about six miles away) shows a very wide view.

NASASpaceFlight.com also streams live video and commentary of SpaceX's launch attempts. Their view on YouTube — courtesy of Boca Chica Village resident Mary McConaughey  — may offer the best all-around view and source of information.

SpaceX had hoped to attempt a flight of SN5 on July 27, but Hurricane Hanna damaged a component that had to be fixed, Musk said. A previous FAA notice suggested the company would try to fly SN5 on Sunday — the same day as its successful attempt to land two NASA astronauts in the Gulf of Mexico — but the launch window came and went. (SpaceX's Demo -2 was an historic test flight of the company's Crew Dragon spaceship, a vehicle developed with about $2.7 billion in NASA funding.)

SN5 is the latest of several full-scale Starship prototypes that SpaceX has built in Texas. The previous versions have either crumpled during tests or, as was the case on May 29, catastrophically exploded.

Each failure has taught SpaceX valuable lessons to inform design and material changes, tweaks that Musk says are already being worked into the SN6, SN7, and SN8 prototypes, which are in various stages of assembly within the company's expanding and bustling work yards in South Texas. Musk has said SpaceX may need to build as many as 20 different versions before reaching orbit.

The steel vehicles don't have wing-like canards or nosecones attached, in case something goes wrong in their earliest phases of testing, so they look more like flying fuel tanks or grain silos than rocket ships.

However, as last year's test launch of an early Starship prototype called Starhopper showed, the flights of even experimental vehicles (shown above) can impress: On August 27, Starhopper soared about 492 feet (150 meters) into the air, translated across a launch site, and landed on a nearby concrete pad.

SpaceX obtained a launch license from the FAA to send Starship prototypes on a "suborbital trajectory," meaning the experimental rocket ships could reach dozens of miles above Earth before returning and landing. However, it's uncertain if SpaceX eventually plans to launch SN5 on such an ambitious flight path if it survives the pending "hop."

The company couldn't attempt more ambitious flights until late August at the soonest, though.

On July 23, SpaceX asked the FCC for permission to communicate with prototypes flying as high as 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) within the next seven months. The earliest date noted on the request, which is still pending, is August 18..."

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/spacex-may-fly-a-16-story...

(May 29, 2020)  "SN4 is the fourth Starship prototype that has been destroyed in testing in a little more than six months.

The company’s Starship Mark 1 vehicle, unveiled at a media event in September 2019, was destroyed in November during a cryogenic pressurization test.

A second, SN1, was lost in a similar test Feb. 28.

A third prototype, SN3, crumpled in an April 3 test, apparently because of a misconfigured test setup.

https://spacenews.com/spacex-starship-prototype-destroyed-after-sta...

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/today-may-be-the-day-spacex...

Comment by M. Difato on July 25, 2020 at 5:50pm

Watch SpaceX catch an entire rocket nose cone that fell from space for the 1st time

It's an EPIC double play.

SpaceX just pulled off another rocket-reusability milestone — its first-ever payload fairing double catch.

The company managed to pluck out of the sky both halves of a Falcon 9 rocket's falling payload fairing shortly after the successful launch of a South Korean military satellite from Florida yesterday (July 20), SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.

"Both fairing halves caught from space by @SpaceX ships!" Musk announced via Twitter yesterday evening. Then today, Musk unveiled video of the epic double play.

Those ships are GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief, both of which have been outfitted with big nets to catch falling fairings, the protective nose cones that surround satellites during launch. (SpaceX fairings come back to Earth in two pieces, explaining the need for two ships.)

SpaceX has caught a handful of fairing halves on previous missions, but this is the first time the company has managed to keep both pieces from a single launch out of the drink. 

Fairing catches are part of SpaceX's push to increase rocket reusability, an effort that's already in full swing. The company routinely lands and reflies the first stages of their two-stage Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. Indeed, yesterday's launch featured a Falcon 9 landing on a ship at sea, the 57th successful booster touchdown for SpaceX during an orbital launch.

It was the second landing for this particular booster, which also helped launch the Demo-2 test flight on May 30. Demo-2, SpaceX's first-ever crewed spaceflight, sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon capsule.

 A SpaceX net-equipped ship catches half of a Falcon 9 rocket's payload fairing shortly after the launch of South   Korea's Anasis-II satellite on July 20, 2020. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy fairings — they're the same for both rockets — cost about $6 million apiece, Musk has said, so there's a strong incentive to reuse them. And reuse is tougher if fairings splash down, because seawater is highly corrosive. Hence the net-sporting boats. 

The upper stages of the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy remain expendable at the moment. SpaceX's next-gen spaceflight system, however, will be entirely reusable. The 100-passenger Starship spacecraft and giant Super Heavy rocket, which could begin launching operational missions as soon as next year, are designed to fly many times apiece, Musk has said.

 Source: https://www.space.com/spacex-falcon-9-rocket-payload-fairing-catch-...

I couldn't resist this post mostly for the photo and subheading, It's an EPIC "double" play. 

Relevent ZetaTalk Chat Q&A for May 31, 2020 

http://www.zetatalk.com/ning/31ma2020.htm

( The Tribunals got around to Elon Musk )

 http://www.zetatalk.com/ning/31ma2020.htm

Comment by M. Difato on June 15, 2020 at 9:52am

SpaceX launches 58 Starlink satellites and 3 Planet SkySats, nails rocket landing

https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-8-planet-satellite-launch-roc...

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched its first rideshare mission into orbit today (June 13), lofting a new batch of 58 Starlink internet satellites along with three small Earth-observation satellites before nailing a Falcon 9 rocket landing at sea. 

It was a mostly clear morning, with just a few clouds above the launch pad here at Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at liftoff. Onlookers were treated to an awesome view in the predawn sky — the glow from the rocket's engines were visible well into the flight as it launched at 5:21 a.m. EDT (0921 GMT).


The exhaust from the rocket was illuminated by the sun, which was just below the horizon. The resulting cloud appeared as a nebula hanging in the sky. 

"Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Starlink ocho," a SpaceX launch commentator said, referring to the mission's Starlink 8 in Spanish. 

The launch is the second Starlink mission so far this month, with one more on the schedule for no earlier than June 22. SpaceX is taking advantage of its fleet of flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters, with plans of launching a record four times in June. 

Because the sky was so clear, the landing burn — which enables the rocket to safely land on the drone ship — was clearly visible from the launch site, roughly 350 miles (600 km) away. 

Today's mission starred a veteran member of SpaceX's rocket fleet. The Falcon 9 — whose first stage already had two flights under its belt before today's mission — had a sooty appearance resulting from its previous trips through the atmosphere. 

The first stage of the Falcon 9 featured in today's mission is now a three-time flier, as it previously launched two SpaceX robotic resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) — CRS-19 in December 2019 and CRS-20 in March of this year

For its third mission, the booster known as B1059 carried 58 Starlink satellites into space, bringing to 540 the number of total Starlink craft launched to date. SpaceX has plans to launch thousands of Starlink satellites, so this is only the beginning. 

To that end, company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said that SpaceX will need at least 800 Starlink craft on orbit to begin providing moderate internet coverage to customers in the United States and Canada. The service will roll out to the rest of the world sometime after that. The initial Starlink megaconstellation is expected to include about 12,000 satellites.

While this mission carried the name Starlink 8 at SpaceX, it is actually the ninth flight to carry a batch of the internet satellites into orbit. The first 60-satellite launch occurred in May 2019.

A typical Starlink launch delivers 60 satellites into orbit, but this mission's reduced numbers allowed for additional satellites to climb on board. As part of a rideshare agreement with the Earth-imaging company Planet, SpaceX launched three small SkySat satellites — a first for the Starlink program. 

Planet has also booked room for three more SkySat satellites on a future Starlink mission, estimated to launch sometime this summer. However, SpaceX’s next Starlink launch will also share its payload fairing with another customer: Seattle-based BlackSky Global, which has booked a ride for two of its Earth-observing satellites.  

Planet's final six SkySats will join 15 others currently in orbit, but the newcomers will operate in different orbital planes. The original batch are flying in sun-synchronous orbit, which provides them with views of Earth's surface that are consistently bathed in sunlight. 

However, SkySats 16-21 will operate in a mid-inclination orbit of 53 degrees that offers "more targeted coverage and raw image capacity in key geographic regions," Planet representatives wrote in a blog post.

Approximately eight minutes after its successful liftoff this morning, B1059 separated from its upper stage and proceeded to perform a series of orbital ballet moves as it reoriented itself for landing. As the rocket travelled back through the atmosphere, it conducted a series of engine burns that slowed it enough to gently touch down on a floating platform waiting in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Dubbed “Of Course I Still Love You,” the massive drone ship is one of two vessels that SpaceX uses to catch its returning boosters. To date, the company has successfully recovered 54 first-stage boosters. Once they’re back in Florida's Port Canaveral, the boosters are transported back to SpaceX facilities, where they're carefully inspected and repurposed to fly again. 

SpaceX upgraded its Falcon 9 rocket in 2018, and this iteration — known as the "Block 5" — features 1.7 million pounds of thrust as well as some other upgrades that make it capable of rapid reuse. SpaceX officials have said that each of these boosters can fly as many as 10 times with few refurbishments in between, and as many as 100 times before retirement. (To date, SpaceX has launched and landed the same booster a maximum of five times.) 

 The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket first stage that launched the Starlink 8 mission made a smooth landing on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You after delivering 61 satellites into orbit on June 13, 2020.  (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX recently moved its second drone ship, “Just Read the Instructions,” to the Atlantic Ocean. The addition of a second drone ship operating in the same ocean will enable SpaceX to recover more rockets. It typically takes each drone ship two to three days to reach the landing site and then another two to three days to return to shore with the booster. If SpaceX expects to keep up its launch cadence of nearly one flight per week, we could see both ships getting a lot of action soon. 

Thanks to the sheer number of satellites in orbit, SpaceX is operating the largest satellite fleet ever. Ever since its first Starlink launch, the company has come under fire from astronomers and scientists around the world over concerns that the constellation's apparent brightness will disrupt astronomical observations

To that end, SpaceX has been experimenting with different ways of reducing the satellites' brightness. Musk and SpaceX have said that they will be adding special sunshades to future Starlink satellites. These will act as a visor of sorts that limits the craft's reflectivity. 

During the previous Starlink launch, SpaceX outfitted a single satellite with this new sun visor to test how it works on orbit. While this latest batch of 58 satellites does not have the sunshades installed, SpaceX has said that all future launches, beginning with Starlink 10, will have them. 

The weather was not expected to be an issue for today’s launch attempt, as the 45th Weather Squadron estimated there to be a 30% chance of a scrub. While tricky weather is not unique here in Florida, what is unique for this mission is the team monitoring it. 

The 45th Weather Squadron operates out of Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is the team responsible for making the go/no-go call for liftoff. Squadron personnel determine if the weather is acceptable for launch. For the first time in the Squadron’s history, the team on console was all women

The team, composed of three military and three civilian launch weather officers, is responsible for monitoring a myriad of issues that could potentially delay the launch. These issues include cloud height and distribution, the potential for lightning and how much electricity is in the atmosphere. 

The historic event, like NASA's recent all-female spacewalk from the ISS, occurred by happenstance. Capt. Nancy Zimmerman, the launch weather director, said that prior to 2018, there was only one female launch weather officer. Now the team is about half women and half men, so we should see this distribution happen more often. 

The hardware is simple enough that anyone can install it, according to Musk, who has said the terminals look like a "UFO on a stick." The terminals will come with just two basic instructions — plug in and point at the sky — and are equipped with actuators that ensure they're pointing where they should be at all times, Musk has said.

On Friday, Steve Jurvetson (co-founder of Future Ventures as well as a SpaceX and Tesla board member) tweeted about his experience with a Starlink user terminal. He described it as "the simplest out-of-the-box experience imaginable."

SpaceX has already completed two successful missions this month, with two more flights on the docket for June: another batch of Starlink satellites as well as an upgraded GPS satellite for the U.S. Space Force

Correction: This story was updated to correct the distance between the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean and SpaceX's launch site during today's rocket launching. It was about 350 miles, not 600 miles. 

Comment by Juan F Martinez on June 14, 2020 at 5:24pm

Falcon 9 launch from Florida's Space Coast, June 13.  

Photos @johnpisaniphoto via Twitter  https://twitter.com/search?q=%40johnpisaniphoto&src=typed_query

Comment by M. Difato on May 29, 2020 at 10:19pm

SpaceX Starship prototype destroyed after static-fire test

https://spacenews.com/spacex-starship-prototype-destroyed-after-sta...

 SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype explodes shortly after a static-fire test May 29 at the company's Boca Chica, Texas, facility. Credit: YouTube Space Padre Island

WASHINGTON — A SpaceX Starship prototype was destroyed in an explosion May 29 shortly after what initially appeared to be a successful static-fire test.

The Starship SN4 vehicle had just completed a static-fire test at SpaceX’s test site at Boca Chica, Texas, when it was enveloped in a fireball that appeared to emanate from the base of the vehicle at 2:49 p.m. Eastern. The vehicle was destroyed in the test, but there were no reports of injuries. The area around the launch site is evacuated before such tests.

The explosion took place about two minutes after a static-fire test of a single Raptor engine in the base of the vehicle. The engine fired for several seconds and there were no immediate signs of problems after the engine shut down. In the seconds just before the explosion, though, there was extensive venting at the base of the vehicle not seen in previous tests.

SpaceX appeared to be moving toward the first free flight of a Starship prototype using this vehicle. The company received a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation May 28, the same day the company carried another static-fire test without incident. The FAA has also issued restrictions for the airspace above the test site for June 1 and 2 consistent with a “hop” test.

SN4 is the fourth Starship prototype that has been destroyed in testing in a little more than six months. The company’s Starship Mark 1 vehicle, unveiled at a media event in September 2019, was destroyed in November during a cryogenic pressurization test. A second, SN1, was lost in a similar test Feb. 28. A third prototype, SN3, crumpled in an April 3 test, apparently because of a misconfigured test setup.

The company appeared to have more success with SN4, completing a pressurization test April 27, followed by several static-fire tests using a single Raptor engine. Those tests, and the FAA license, suggested a flight test, at least to a very low altitude, was imminent.

SpaceX has already been working on additional Starship prototypes, with observers at the Boca Chica test site seeing work on the SN5 and SN6 vehicles as well as initial hardware for an SN7 vehicle.




Comment by M. Difato on April 15, 2020 at 8:09pm

Rocket Lab catches falling Electron booster with helicopter in reusability test

Rocket Lab just took a dramatic step toward booster reuse.

The spaceflight company announced last year that it wants to start recovering and reflying the first stages of its two-stage Electron rocket, which gives small satellites dedicated rides to orbit. 

Rocket Lab's recovery vision doesn't involve SpaceX-style vertical booster landings; the 57-foot-tall (17 meters) Electron just isn't built for that, company officials have said. So, the plan is to pluck falling Electron first stages out of the sky using a helicopter.

And Rocket Lab pulled off that maneuver early last month during a test over open ocean near New Zealand, the company announced Wednesday (April 8).

One helicopter dropped an Electron test stage, which deployed a parachute. A second helicopter then swooped in and snagged the chute's drogue line at an altitude of about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) using a special grappling hook. The chopper successfully ferried the rocket stage back to land, as it would during a real post-launch recovery, company representatives said.

"Congratulations to the recovery team here at Rocket Lab on a flawless midair recovery test," Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said in a statement

"Electron has already unlocked access to space for small satellites, but every step closer to reusability is a step closer to even more frequent launch opportunities for our customers," Beck added. "We're looking forward to pushing the technology even further this year and bringing a flown stage back to the factory."

That coming milestone, which Rocket Lab aims to notch late in 2020, won't involve a midair catch. The plan is to let an Electron first stage splash down softly under parachute after liftoff from Rocket Lab's New Zealand launch site and collect the booster with a ship, company representatives said.

Last month's test, which took place before New Zealand instituted strict stay-at-home measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, wasn't Rocket Lab's first demonstration of reusability tech. On the two most recent Electron launches, which occurred in December 2019 and January of this year, the company guided first stages back to Earth in a controlled fashion, gathering lots of data along the way.

Electron has 11 launches under its belt. All of them took off from the New Zealand site, on the North Island's Mahia Peninsula. But California-based Rocket Lab has also built a launch site in the U.S., at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Virginia's Wallops Island. The first launch from the Virginia pad should take place this year, company representatives have said.

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/rocket-lab-catches-fallin...

Comment by M. Difato on April 3, 2020 at 2:45pm

The third Starship prototype failed its cryo test on Friday morning

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/04/spacex-loses-its-third-star...

This week, SpaceX workers in South Texas loaded the third full-scale Starship prototype—SN3—onto a test stand ​at the company's Boca Chica launch site. On Wednesday night, they pressure-tested the vehicle at ambient temperature with nitrogen, and SN3 performed fine.

SpaceX's Starship SN3 prototype fails cryogenic proof test

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=16&v=wFXQ5SRCy74&am...

    (Images from Youtube video)

On Thursday night SpaceX began cryo-testing the vehicle, which means it was loaded again with nitrogen, but this time it was chilled to flight-like temperatures and put under flight-like pressures. Unfortunately, a little after 2am local time, SN3 failed and began to collapse on top of itself. It appeared as if the vehicle may have lost pressurization and become top-heavy.

Shortly after the failure, SpaceX's founder and chief engineer, Elon Musk, said on Twitter, "We will see what data review says in the morning, but this may have been a test configuration mistake." A testing issue would be good in the sense that it means the vehicle itself performed well, and the problem can be more easily addressed.

This is the third time a Starship has failed during these proof tests that precede engine tests and, potentially flight tests. Multiple sources indicated that had these preliminary tests succeeded, SN3 would have attempted a 150-meter flight test as early as next Tuesday.

Here's a recap of SpaceX's efforts to test full-size Starships to date:

  • Starship Mk1: Construction began in December, 2018. Failed during pressure test in November, 2019.
  • Starship SN1: Construction began in October, 2019. Failed during a pressure test in March, 2020.
  • Starship SN2: Construction began in Feb., 2020. After SN1 failure, was converted into a test bed for thrust puck at base of rocket. Passed test on March 8, and was retired.
  • Starship SN3: Construction began in March, 2020. Cryogenic test failure on April 3.
  • Starship SN4: Construction began in March, 2020. Testing begins later this month?

This failure has to be a disappointment in that the prototype rocket failed for a third time before getting to Raptor engine tests. And after the SN1 failure, Musk said he told his engineers, "In the future, you treat that rocket like it’s your baby, and you do not send it to the test site unless you think your baby’s going to be OK."

This baby was not OK..."

Comment by M. Difato on March 26, 2020 at 1:59pm

SpaceX parachute test didn’t go smoothly and may threaten NASA launch

https://bgr.com/2020/03/26/spacex-test-failure-nasa-parachute/

SpaceX attempted to test its Crew Dragon parachute system but the test was cut short after the dummy object with the parachutes installed on it became unstable during ascent. 

  • The helicopter crew hauling the object had to release it, destroying it in the process. The test was obviously not completed as intended. 
  • NASA and SpaceX will now have to decide how to proceed and possibly reschedule the test for a later date..."

~

SpaceX encounters problem just before Crew Dragon parachute test

https://www.space.com/spacex-crew-dragon-parachute-drop-test-proble...

It's unclear if the issue will affect the timing of SpaceX's first crewed mission.

SpaceX just experienced a hiccup in the lead-up to its first crewed flight.  

The California-based company hauled a test article of its Crew Dragon capsule skyward with a helicopter on Tuesday (March 24), to help prove out the vehicle's parachute system ahead of the historic Demo-2 mission. 

Demo-2, which is currently scheduled to launch in mid- to late May, will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS). It will be the first crewed orbital flight to launch from U.S. soil since NASA's space shuttle fleet retired in July 2011.

But the parachutes never got a chance to show their stuff.

"During a planned parachute drop test today, the test article suspended underneath the helicopter became unstable," SpaceX said Tuesday in an emailed statement. 

"Out of an abundance of caution and to keep the helicopter crew safe, the pilot pulled the emergency release," the statement added. "As the helicopter was not yet at target conditions, the test article was not armed, and as such, the parachute system did not initiate the parachute deployment sequence. While the test article was lost, this was not a failure of the parachute system, and most importantly, no one was injured. NASA and SpaceX are working together to determine the testing plan going forward in advance of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission."

SpaceX has been developing Crew Dragon under multiple NASA contracts, the most recent of which, a $2.6 billion deal, was announced in September 2014. NASA signed a similar, $4.2 billion deal with Boeing at the same time to finish work on its crew capsule, called CST-100 Starliner.

As the SpaceX statement noted, Crew Dragon has already flown once. In March 2019, the capsule aced an uncrewed demonstration mission to the ISS called Demo-1. Starliner flew its version of Demo-1, called Orbital Flight Test (OFT), this past December. But things didn't go as planned; Starliner failed to reach the ISS, circling Earth by itself for two days before coming down for a safe landing in New Mexico. Subsequent analyses of OFT data have revealed several Starliner software issues that Boeing must address, NASA officials have said.

Yesterday's anomaly was the second in a week that could affect the timing of Demo-2. The other involved a Falcon 9 rocket, the workhorse SpaceX booster that launches Crew Dragon (and many other payloads). 

On March 18, one of the nine engines on a Falcon 9 first stage suffered a problem during the launch of 60 of the company's Starlink internet satellites. The rocket managed to deliver the satellites to orbit just fine; the Falcon 9 is designed to overcome engine failures, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has stressed..."

Image Source: Terry Renna/AP/REX/Shutterstock

~~~

Comment by M. Difato on March 19, 2020 at 2:38pm

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 60 more Starlink satellites, but booster landing fails

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/spacex-falcon-9-rocket-launches-60-mor...

Three days after a dramatic launch abort, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket suffered a premature engine shutdown during the climb to space Wednesday (Mar 18) but was still able to place another batch of 60 Starlink internet satellites into the planned orbit. The first stage, however, was unable to pull off what would have been its fifth landing, instead chalking up SpaceX's second unsuccessful recovery in the past three flights.

The launching from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center came just hours after NASA put its field centers on coronavirus "level 3" status, requiring civil servants to work from home and closing the bases to all but "mission-essential" personnel to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

But the restrictions did not affect SpaceX workers or Air Force personnel who provide tracking and telemetry support, and the Falcon 9 thundered to life at 8:16 a.m. EDT, streaking away from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center along a northeasterly trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean.

A launch try Sunday was aborted as the booster's nine Merlin 1D engines were firing up when "out of family" data was detected during a last-second computer check. No details were provided, but the company was able to recycle for a second launch try Wednesday and this time around, the countdown ticked smoothly to blastoff.

The first stage, after boosting the second stage and its cargo of 60 Starlink satellites out of the thick lower atmosphere, attempted to fly itself back to fifth landing an off-shore droneship, firing three engines to slow down as it plunged back toward Earth.

But video from the rocket was lost about a minute before touchdown and a SpaceX commentator later confirmed "we were not able to land that stage today. We are obviously disappointed, but our primary mission ... is still on target."

The lost stage flew in July 2018, again in October 2018 and twice more in February and November 2019. The "block 5" stages are designed to fly at least 10 times without major refurbishment, a key element in SpaceX founder Elon Musk's drive to lower launch costs through "rapid reusability."

Video from a camera mounted on the booster showed a sudden, very brief change in the rocket's exhaust plume a few seconds before engine shutdown and stage separation. In a tweet, Musk said the booster experienced "an early engine shutdown."

"Shows value of having 9 engines! Thorough investigation needed before next mission," he said.."

Comment by M. Difato on March 15, 2020 at 3:20pm

SpaceX aborts Starlink satellite launch at the last second, due to Falcon 9 rocket engine issue

SpaceX’s planned launch of its sixth batch of 60 Starlink broadband satellites literally fizzled out today (March 15), apparently due to an engine power problem on the Falcon 9 rocket.

  • The countdown at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida went all the way to zero at 9:22 a.m. ET (6:22 a.m. PT), and SpaceX’s launch commentator reported ignition. But the rocket didn’t go anywhere, because a yet-to-be-determined problem arose when the first-stage engines powered up.
  • The first-stage booster has been used four times before and was readied for a precedent-setting fifth launch. The rocket’s nose cone, or fairing, was recovered after the first 60-satellite Starlink launch last May and refurbished for this mission.
  • The mission aims to add to the current constellation of 300 Starlink satellites, which are built at SpaceX’s facility in Redmond, Wash., to provide global internet access. SpaceX will schedule another launch attempt once it resolves the issue that led to today’s abort.

Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2020/spacex-aborts-starlink-satellite-laun...

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