• PimpBot 3000

    Gee, not even a “Boom”, just a “Thud”. What a dud.

  • windbourne

    Musk has always said that if they did NOT have a crash or failures that they were not pushing hard enough. Now they got it.

    However, I do find the timing interesting, considering that they just did their lay-offs/firings.

  • Hug Doug

    it seems clear what happened – the 3 engines shut down, then range safety quickly destroyed the rocket.

    very interesting.

  • mattmcc80

    FWIW, I’ve only heard Shotwell say this. I only bring it up because she put it very well, last June.

    The tests are going beautifully, which fundamentally means we’re not
    pushing the envelope hard enough. We should have some failures with
    Grasshopper. We need to push harder.

  • mattmcc80

    So if this test that failed happened yesterday/today, there’s still a test flight from August 1 with no video posted yet.

  • Kapitalist

    Loss of a reusable rocket is more serious. The space shuttle failed on 2 out of 131 flights. But that meant that 50% of the launch capacity was destroyed. But this was a test rocket and first failure since Falcon 1 six years ago.

    They don’t abort as spectacularly as the Russians do with their Proton.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “However, I do find the timing interesting, considering that they just did their lay-offs/firings.”

    Yes, and also it rained somewhere in Africa last Tuesday, so surely the two events must be connected.

  • Saturn13

    I doubt if this will have any effect on the soft landings on the ocean. They have learned something about moving around a landing site though. Better chance of recovery of a first stage. I think that it is not coming down on a certain spot yet. That will be the big test. It might just be GPS. Radar would work. The rocket has to be told were the target is and be in range of what horizontal movement it has.

  • mlaboy

    Looking forward to seeing footage from their helicopter drone on this one. hopefully it didn’t get blown out of the sky due to it’s proximity….

  • Solartear

    Why do you say “3 engines” ? They have only used 1 engine previously and cannot launch high at McGregor.

    Looks to me like they tried an in-flight re-light of center engine, something when wrong during/after re-light, and termination was triggered.

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    This loss isn’t a catastrophe; it’s also not trivial.

  • Hug Doug

    the Grasshopper had one engine, yes, but the F9R Dev1 vehicle has always had 3 engines.

    the flight ceiling at McGregor is 10,000 feet, which yes isn’t very high but it’s enough to do what they want to do there.

  • Mitchell Taco Nash

    Well, this is the reason they do test flights. They’re pushing the envelope and will figure out what went wrong here. Cool explosion though all in the name of [rocket] science! 😀

  • Solartear

    I know F9R Dev1 has 3 engines. You said “3 engines shutdown”, but I have only seen it ever use one engine. When did F9R Dev1 launch using 3 engines turned on?

  • John Gardi


    There was no range safety officer, the vehicle destroyed itself after going ‘off parameter’. Even Elon says ‘self-terminated’.

    I’ve been doing some research and it turns out that there may not have even been explosives in the termination sequence. Apparently (no confirmation yet) all they needed to do was shut down the engines (if they weren’t already) and then vent the fuel and LOX tanks. Structural integrity is lost and the vehicle comes apart. The small explosion could have been the fuel igniting in an LOX rich environment. Surely there were enough spark sources.

    Maybe we’ll find out more about it that we otherwise wouldn’t have if this hadn’t happened.


  • Wayne Martin

    Some Comments I came across on NASASpaceflight.com made by Gwynne Shotwell about a year ago and eluded to here but there was a little more to it…

    It seems that they were Pushing for this to happen!

    From NASA Spaceflight.com!


    “So we’re 5-for-5 testing on this Grasshopper. But, but that means we’re not pushing hard enough. We’ve got to tunnel one of those vehicle into the ground by trying something really hard,” noted SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell just over a year ago.

    “So now our challenge to our test team is you’ve got to push hard enough that we’re going to see something happen. A spectacular video.”

  • disqusser10157

    They should have recorded video on the ground, even if the quadcopter was destroyed.

  • disqusser10157

    Or the Soviets with their N-1.

  • delphinus100

    Is it recorded on board, or transmitted down in real time? If the latter, they’ll have it at least up to that point. It’s even possible video saved entirely on board survived.

  • Kapitalist

    They didn’t even need an abort system.
    The biggest non-nuclear explosion ever, one can read on the wiki about one of the N-1 launches.

  • Stacy

    I keep reading “envelope expansion”. Can someone explain what they were doing on this flight or just how they were expanding the envelope on this flight when the anomaly occurred?

  • disqusser10157

    I don’t honestly know, but I would think that it would be transmitted in real time – since the most valuable footage would be exactly this type of footage, i.e., footage of a malfunction in action.

  • Hug Doug

    until we get a formal release of information from SpaceX i doubt anyone can know that for sure.

  • Hug Doug

    it looked to me like they had all 3 engines going.

  • Hug Doug

    i took that to mean that the engines automatically shut down, but i suppose it could have self-destructed without an outside command to do so. and i would say it’s a safe bet that they DO have a Range Safety person at McGregor.

    SpaceX as usual has very little design information available lol.

    if we get a quadcopter video i’m sure we’ll be able to say more about the self-destruct sequence.

  • Hug Doug

    depends on the design. most small RC aircraft are flown visually, with the onboard camera saving to an SD card.

  • Solartear

    Congrats, good eyes! Finally got some evidence it was the first 3 engine test, as you said.