Dragon Splashes Down, Falcon Heavy Static Fire Rescheduled for Monday

Dragon departs the International Space Station on Jan. 13, 2018. (Credit: NASA TV)

SpaceX’s Dragon resupply ship splashed down in the Pacific Ocean this morning with 4,078.6 lbs (1,850 kg) of experiments and technology from the International Space Station. The vehicle spent nearly a month at the station.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has rescheduled Falcon Heavy’s static fire for Monday. The six-hour window runs from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST (2100 to 0300 UTC). The heavy-lift booster’s 27 first stage engines will be fired for up to 15 seconds.

  • Robert G. Oler

    go FH

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Amazing how SX has turned this into a one or two ship affair and has yet to lose one. I wonder how many of these underreported capabilities they have developed get figured into their worth? Not having to use an aircraft carrier really saves on the recovery bill. Their fairing recovery ship, looks fast, I wonder if they use that as fast reaction vessel should a dragon splash down off course?

  • duheagle

    Not likely. Different oceans.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    There’s a recovery ship based on the West Coast, or at least was there for the Vandenberg launch. Check it out, tt’s called Mr Steven.

  • San Sunmijf

    FH will come apart during test fire destroying rocket and the launch pad/complex.

  • duheagle

    I knew about Mr. Steven, but thought it was based at Canaveral. I stand corrected.

  • duheagle

    I think LC-39A will be fine, unless, perhaps, you decide to sit on it, assuming that’s actually you in the photo.

  • duheagle

    Actually, with Mr Steven added in, it’s now a three-ship flotilla: Mr. Steven, the ASDS and the ASDS’s tow ship/tender. Now that I think about it a bit more, what do you find so “amazing” about SpaceX having yet to “lose” any recovery ships ala your first sentence? Or did you have in mind that “lose” refers to the Dragon capsules ala your last sentence? If so, why would you find SpaceX having lost no Dragons “amazing?”

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Sunk/lost at sea. In the past helicopters and US Navy divers allowed for prompt tending and retrieval of capsules that many times went off course by many miles. Given SX’s small navy I’m thinking they are showing much more precision at getting the capsules to the ships than NASA did back in the day. Their reentry burns, use of lift in reentry, and atmospheric maneuvering seem to be spot on and repeatably so. Now I could be wrong, but it seems to me SX is using ship only recovery of those capsules, if so, that’s pretty impressive.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Even if you were right about which coast it’s based at, a short shuffle thru the Panama Canal and it could probably be where it needs to be within a week or two. Looks like a speedy boat.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually it helps when you are not paranoid about the Russians rescuing your astronauts firm’s. As Gemini 8 showed a lone destroyer is good enough in an emergency to do the job. Besides a carrier provide more room and better accomandations for the press and VIPs.

    I understand for the Orion the recovery task force will be built around a LSD, with probably a LSH and a couple of frigates. The LSH is about the size of the WW II era carriers used in the 1960’s.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    AN LHD? OMFG, you have to be kidding me! I’ll bet an LHD sortie costs as much today as the old Essex class CV’s they used back in the day. I’m not surprised, but I’m pretty disappointed. I hope they can aim for the West coast at least it’ll be a short trip out of San Diego and back if they can.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The Mercury and Gemini capsules were light enough (under 8,500 lbs) it was possible to lift them with a helicopter when needed. The Apollo capsules were much heavier, around 26,000 lbs so they needed to use the crane on the carrier to recover them.

    The Dragon weights around 17,000 lbs so it makes sense not to use a helicopter. But I expect on the crew flights you will see a Navy or Coast Guard ship standing by for support, with helicopters and divers.

  • ThomasLMatula

    There was a story a while back showing the USS Anchorage out of SD training with an Orion boilerplate. An LPD is always in the company of LHD so I would be shocked if they sent the USS Achorage out on a recovery mission without one.

    Remember the government looks at costs differently. Better to send the LHD and associated task force along rather than explain in front of Congress how you lost an astronaut. Yes, it will be the 70’s all over again.

    Do you miss the Shuttle yet? Wasn’t landing on a runway like a plane a great idea 😆

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Shuttle had quite a landing party too. None of this is cheap when you want to be ‘secure’. Okay, so why not just send out an LPD, or the searching for a real mission LCS? The LCS should have a capable launch/landing ramp on it’s stern to accept a Dragon or Orion. I wonder if this hole is big enough?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes they do, reliving the glory of Apollo. In practice they could probably do the recovery just using a salvage tug, with maybe a Poseidon for aerial recon. But that wouldn’t be the NASA way 🙂

  • OldCodger

    Sounds like recovering a manned space craft from the sea is an intrinsically expensive enterprise!

  • duheagle

    Given that Mercury, Gemini and Apollo lacked access to GPS but Dragon does not should, I think, affect the relative impressiveness of modern achievable splashdown accuracy. What SpaceX does routinely is impressive, to be sure, but not because it exceeds what was just barely possible a half-century or more ago with primitive on-board computation resources and no GPS.

    That said, it’s pretty obvious that economy of means played little or no role in the design of Orion’s recovery process. Orion seems to require a squad of swimmers to attach some sort of garter belt thingy around the base of the capsule to which a tow cable is then attached. The Dragon, so far as I know, is designed to be hooked by a barge-borne crane and lifted out of the water by its upper structure.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Actually, they did. I don’t know if they used it. It was called Transit. It was an interesting systems. And some of the satellites are still operating. There’s some excellent videos on YouTube about it. But that said, radio telemetry carrier gave very good orbital state information just based off Doppler shifting of the radio carrier. Not to mention, I’m doubtful GPS can be received during re-entry. So most post plasma sheath corrections are happening well after the reentry burn. It’s an impressive technical task that in now way is reduced by the help of GPS.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually the more I really think about it, the more I think recovery of the first crewed Orion flight around the Moon will really be a Big, Big Parade.
    If they use the same recovery area as Apollo, the Pacific Ocean south of
    Hawaii, and they probably will, the Admiral will take the entire task force the LPD is flagship for along. That means the LHD and whatever destroyers/frigates attached to it will be part of the show. Then you could count on the Russians sending a trawler to check things out and probably a submarine. The Chinese, not to be left out, will likely also sent a trawler and a submarine. This means of course you could count on the U.S. sending a pair of attack submarines to watch over the Russians and Chinese along with a P-8 Poseidon or two so they know we are watching them watching us.

    Then being the age of space tourism, you could count on some tour group chartering an airliner to watch the re-entry, maybe even more than one group. It would also be in the realm of possibilities that a cruise ship company will take advantage of it and include the fringe of the recovery area as part of a cruise package. Given this it will probably be a good thing the LHD is along as it will need to deploy its F-35s or Harriers to ensure the landing zone stays clear of commercial shipping and flights.

    If there is a Russian crew member on the flight the Russians may require that one of their cruisers be allowed to join the party to carry their cosmonaut home in triumph.

    Yes, it will be a Big Parade, just as in the old Apollo days. Yes, there is a lot to say for a nice quiet return on land. As big as Shuttle parties were, they never matched a good old ocean recovery 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, but as I recall all of the Apollo landings were close enough to the carrier for the news teams to get live images of the craft as it came down on its chutes. So they did hit the bullseye even then.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Don’t get me wrong, as a pilot and a glider pilot, I really appreciate the ability to land on a runway in an aircraft you have real control over and land like a member of an industrial civilization. Not some savage scheme involving parachutes and getting wet as soon as you leave the spacecraft. But, we’re in that savage era. … Again.

    Your charter idea for airlines was done back in the day. I’ve seen ads in early 70’s issues of Sky and Telescope for flights under the re-entry corridor for returning Apollo Lunar flights.

    The first return from the Moon in 40 odd years is worthy of a party. However using and LHD EVERY TIME an Orion falls from the sky is excessive.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You are thinking like a tax payer. You need to think like a Navy Admiral. Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment that will come from leading that task force in support the noble traditionals of scientific exploration 🙂

    Of course if water is really needed you could land in Lake Michigan and just have a chartered salvage tug pick it up. But really, where would the glory be? The medals?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Hey, I just went swimming in Lake Michigan this last summer. How nice to not have your eyes and nostrils sting with salt water yet have some big wave fun. I think you’ve got a great idea there.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The fresh water will also be less hard on the equipment. In recent years a cottage industry has developed in salvaging WWII naval aircraft from the lake. It’s amazing the condition some are in. A few years ago they recovered a Wildcat that actually fought at Midway and are restarting it.

  • duheagle

    More expensive than landing on a runway (or on a concrete landing pad). But the need for naval units seems to be decidedly optional based on SpaceX’s now considerable track record of success with much more modest means.

  • duheagle

    Good point about the RF blackout on re-entry. But modern tech has also made inertial guidance platforms more accurate and vastly cheaper too. A lot of video game controllers these days come with what is, in essence, a pretty decent inertial guidance platform built in.

  • duheagle

    Not that speedy. Given SpaceX’s anticipated increases in launch tempo from both coasts, Mr. Steven will be getting a twin in the Atlantic if he works out as a solution to fairing recovery.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    No, I use them. They are not that great. But usable. 🙂 They’re not laser ring gyros, and they’re not the best MEM’s out there. They’re not good enough for flight, let alone freefall flight. I’ve taken them flying with me, without GPS the tracked flight deviates pretty far when I take off and land on the same spot. With GPS they’re great.

  • windbourne

    I seriously doubt that the russians will send anything out after the orion.
    The chinese might, but the russians? Not while they are our partners in space.

  • windbourne

    problem is, there will be a LOT more boat and aircraft traffic in any of the GLs vs. far offshore in the pac.

  • windbourne

    hmmmm.
    Hopefully, they are recovering them from deep, rather than the shallow ones, that other divers can go to.

  • windbourne

    do you know if they have recovered a fairing yet?