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Space X set for very risky launch-
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greeney2
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May 18, 2012 - 7:41 pm
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Many people think that private space launchs will just take over, however the private venture is a very risky one. Especially in manned flight, the certification process for rocket engines is extremely difficult, which requires painstaking testing, that is counted in seconds of firing. If any failure or shut down occurs, the count goes back to zero. The SSME required something like 100,000 continous seconds. In the case the the Space shuttle, the certification process was very difficult, and required years of research and test fires, set backs, and recertication as NASA increased the required power to over 100% ranges. The system uses many small motors, and have a zero launch record. Rocketdynes data base for their motors was a long record back to the Mercury program. 2 other concepts made the SSME engines very hard to certify, the fact they were reusable, and that they were able to be throttled. Another factor that was extemely complex to develop was the 3 engine start sequence, and space X has many many more motors to start. You would not think its even an issue, but it is very complex, taking over 2 years to delelop and so critical that Rocketdyne refused to alter the start sequence for Pratt Whintey fuel pumps.

Rockets are a very unforgiving learning curve, and Space X,IMHO is in the beginning learning curve.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A private spacecraft stands ready to launch on a historic first visit to the International Space Station tomorrow (May 19).

The unmanned Dragon space capsule, built by commercial firm SpaceX, is slated to lift off atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket early Saturday from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The spacecraft has an instantaneous launch window at 4:55 a.m. EDT (0855 GMT), with a 70 percent chance of good weather predicted (the main risk of a delay is posed by the possibility of cumulus clouds).

If all goes well, Dragon will fly by the space station on Monday (May 21) and rendezvous and berth at the outpost the day after, becoming the first non-governmental vehicle to do so. The mission is the final test flight planned for Dragon, which has been developed under NASA's COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program aimed at nurturing private spacecraft to supply the International Space Station.

The mission is a critical test for NASA's plan to outsource transportation to low-Earth orbit to the commercial sector, allowing the agency to begin work on a new heavy-lift rocket for deep space. Some in Congress and elsewhere have been critical of the scheme, arguing that private vehicles are untested and less reliable than NASA's in-house built spacecraft. [Photos]

If Saturday's launch is successful, it could help sway the naysayers, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said.

"I think it will make a tremendous difference," Bolden told SPACE.com in April. "Everybody wants to see performance. You can promise things all you want, but nothing works like actual performance, and so it's a very important mission for SpaceX but an incredibly important mission for us at NASA."

SpaceX (officially Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne, Calif.) has designed Dragon to fly robotically at first, though the company has designs to man-rate the capsule. Eventually, Dragon is planned to be able to carry up to seven crewmembers to orbit, and could be used to transport astronauts as well as cargo to the space station.

For this test flight, Dragon is loaded with 1,014 pounds (460 kilograms) of cargo for the orbiting laboratory, including 674 pounds (306 kg) of food, clothing and supplies for the station's six-man crew. It will also deliver scientific equipment and electronic hardware, including a laptop.

If the capsule's on-orbit checkouts go smoothly, then on Tuesday (May 22), NASA astronaut Don Pettit and European Space Agency flyer Andre Kuipers use the space station's 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic arm to reach out and grab Dragon and berth it to the station's Harmony node.

The vehicle is scheduled to stay at the outpost for about two weeks. Then, it will be unberthed and will head back to Earth where it is planned to re-enter the atmosphere and land in the Pacific Ocean.

In contrast to the other unmanned vehicles that ferry cargo to the space station, Dragon is equipped with a heat shield to survive re-entry and be recovered after landing. Thus, before it departs the station, astronauts plan to load it full of science experiments ready for analysis on the ground, as well as used hardware to be returned to NASA.

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bionic
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May 19, 2012 - 11:43 am
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ah..capitalism..
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/opinion/u ... ce-launch/

Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams

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greeney2
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May 19, 2012 - 5:59 pm
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Although it is good a computer can abort at the last instant, this is not good that an abort occurs .5 seconds from launch. REmember all those Space Shuttle "holds" on launch count down? This tells me they are still in quite a learning curve, as once the shuttle passed the 31 second hold, and they were counting down, they knew it was a go for liftoff. Holds all had a reason, and a lot going on. Sometimes a simple switch can fail, a valve, all kinds of things are monitored. Probably so much is being monitored its mindboggleing. Hard to say what the problem is, but when one engine fails, there is always the risk of mission failure. Also they should know if 1 of 9 shuts down, can they make it on 8, or 7 engines. In the history of the Space Shuttle, only one single engine ever shut down, early in the program, and almost at the point of full orbit. Our engines had to run for about 8 minutes, so the ran on 2 engines to final shut down.

I guarentee, this is no simple thing, and engineers are really working on this right now, this is now a monumental issue. Determaining what actually was the problem, and solving the problem conclusivly, is the fix. What ever failed on engine number one, now they have to be sure the same thing can not occur of engine 2-9, whatever the condition is, or part that might have failed. Do they have a inherent problem on all the engines, or isolated problem that is a one time glitch on a single engine.

Believe me, these guys will not be going out for lunch break today.

Possible engine problem delays U.S. rocket launch
By Irene Klotz | Reuters – 3 hrs agoEmailShare21PrintRelated Contentprevnext View GalleryThe Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket stands ready for launch at complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral …

The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket …

Mark Patterson (L) and Matthew …

The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket …

The SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket …
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The launch of a privately owned Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was delayed on Saturday when a computer detected a possible problem with one of the rocket's engines, a Space Exploration Technologies official said.

Preparations for the company's trial cargo run to the International Space Station proceeded smoothly until 4:55 a.m. EDT (0855 GMT) when an onboard computer aborted the launch.

"Liftoff ... we've had a cutoff. Liftoff did not occur," said NASA launch commentator George Diller, caught off guard by the sudden, last-minute turn of events.

A computer monitoring the rocket's nine engines detected a climbing pressure reading in one engine's chambers and halted the launch 0.5 seconds before liftoff, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told reporters.

"Just like a pilot at the end of a runway revs the engines and looks at the gauges. We were revving the engines, we were looking at the gauges and we decided not to fly," Shotwell said, adding that the problem was unlikely to be a sensor issue.

The company's next launch opportunity is at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) on Tuesday.

It is trying to send the unmanned rocket, carrying a Dragon cargo capsule, to the International Space Station, and would be the first private company to do this.

SpaceX is one of two firms hired by NASA to fly cargo to the $100 billion orbital outpost, which is owned by the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada.

Since the U.S. space shuttles were retired last year, NASA has had no way to reach the station and is dependent on its partner countries to fly cargo and crew. It hopes to change that by buying rides commercially from U.S. companies.

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greeney2
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May 20, 2012 - 5:04 am
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I just watched the launch video, and I didn't realize that the engines had began their start sequence as he counts 4,3,2,1, liftoff. As he said life off the engine had just shut down. Aborting the start is bad enough, but shutting down in the middle of engine start sequence is a very big problem. Once they start fire and shut down, I'm sure some major inspections will have to be done to these motors, and a complete review of any possible damage from shutting down. These things are not like your car where you just restart the car, this is a major insodent in the rocket business.

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greeney2
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May 24, 2012 - 4:12 am
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They had a good launch yesterday, to be honest I thought they would be a much longer set back. They are much more stringent on manned flight, which this will eventually do. I'm not sure what they will require as a record of launches before an actual manned flight is allowed, or what they will have to do to certify for manned flight. I was very surprized their first mission would go to the space station.

This is a real milestone in US space ventures, where previous programs were so conservative and stringant, just about everything was a major setback. No stone unturned as they say, and the trick of doing it cheaper, means what corners do we cut. What worries me is the learning curve of a new venture, can be very unforgiving, and even with all the cost plus programs, and almost unlimited budgets, failures still occured.

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greeney2
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May 25, 2012 - 11:38 pm
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They did the flyby yeserday and docked today, making history as the first US private venture. Time will tell how well this will work, and how it may change things in NASA. On a personal note, Space X company is not for from me, so it could mean jobs for many of my coworkers who have been layed off at Rocketdyne. Also possible subcontracting of work to my company or joint ventures. My company is up for sale again, so Space X could be a potential buyer. Other divisions of my company and the old Boeing divisions are also very near, so this sucess is only a good thing. I am still very skeptical about the learning curve, as well as how private company ventures could handle budget retsraints, making decisions for budget, not being good decisions from a safety or quality concern. Space Shuttle requirements were so strict and so demanding, it resulted in very expensive descissions. We had a zero defects tolerance on all welding, for a good reason. I would hate to see a program that allows certain level defects, as a "calculated risk". One little problem, one chip lodged in the wrong place, processes learned over 50 years, withing a learning curve, could be disasterous. It takes several years to build a rocket motor, and an instant to incinerate one, just from a tiny problem.

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bionic
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May 26, 2012 - 12:51 pm
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let's see how it all goes...
I am just glad..there is still SOMETHING..yah know?

Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams

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at1with0
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May 31, 2012 - 9:19 pm
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"it is easy to grow crazy"

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bionic
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June 3, 2012 - 4:55 am
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"at1with0" wrote: http://mashable.com/2012/05/31.....ceflights/

:thumbup:

Willie Wonka quotes..
What is this Wonka, some kind of funhouse?
Why? Are you having fun?
A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams

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