SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo 1 Flight Slips to February

Crew Dragon for DM-1 mission with Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.

  • duheagle

    High tech anything is tough and delay-prone when you are building your base of industrial and intellectual capital from scratch as the Chinese are doing anent civil aircraft – and many other things. By comparison, the U.S. aircraft industry of WW2 and the U.S. aerospace industry of the 1960’s were much better established and were operating from enormously deeper experience bases. And then there was the active presence of so many of the now-legendary founder-entrepreneurs of aviation at the helms of their enterprises – all long-since dead now.

    Things have gotten doddering and sclerotic in U.S. aerospace because no external fires have been built beneath this sector in decades to encourage more alacrity. SpaceX, and the rest of NewSpace more broadly, now constitutes such a fire under at least the space part of the U.S. aerospace establishment. The latter’s response to date hasn’t been what you’d call impressive. I hope the coming decade sees an entrepreneurial revolution in the defense portion of the U.S. industrial base too. Such a thing is as badly needed as it is long overdue.

  • duheagle

    Thanks. But I, for one, think a bunch more latter-day “robber barons” is exactly what we need right now. The real robber barons (no quotes) are the bloodless nobodies in both the legacy defense contractor companies and the government who have mired the whole sector in ever-lengthening schedules for ever more expensive and trouble-plagued systems that increasingly seem to exist simply as open-ended siphons for tax money into private coffers.

  • duheagle

    Okay, the StarHopper does modestly resemble a taller fatter V2. But what is the point of the comparison? Was the V2, in your opinion, not a real rocket as you strongly imply is the case with the Boca Chica StarHopper? Language is a gift, Andy. Try to use it to clarify, not obfuscate. I realize doing so pretty much constitutes an unnatural act for an academic leftist, but make the effort anyway if you would. The rest of us aren’t privy to the contents of the Zork-like maze of twisty little passages, all alike, that seem to make up your brain.

  • duheagle

    I’ve always found Disqus’s behavior fairly random. Right now, it’s favorite trick seems to be not letting me see the list of upvoters on my own comments, though I can see them on everyone else’s. Sometimes reloading the page and repositioning helps, at least for awhile. Sometimes not.

    My browser is no peach either, but I haven’t got nearly the time needed to list even the high points of its manifold shortcomings.

    Software apps. They always begin as organs and degenerate into tumors.

  • duheagle

    To you it’s “unclear” SpaceX is even a going concern. Even long after SH-Starship flies and Starlink is up I expect your lack of “clarity” of view anent SpaceX to continue. It’s just you Bob.

  • duheagle

    SpaceX “chose” not to do Red Dragon for the same reason one “choses” to turn over one’s wallet to a mugger with a knife.

    As to StarHopper, Musk says it will fly in ca. 60 days. He’ll either be right or wrong about that. If he’s right, I submit that we who think StarHopper is close to flight now will have been proved right. Personally, I’ve been waiting almost 50 years to see Americans back on the Moon. 60 freakin’ days to see if StarHopper flies I can do standing on my head.

    There were a lot of people who thought Falcon Heavy would never fly or work if it did. To their credit, at least some of them have since seriously modified their worldviews anent SpaceX. The most notable such is probably Mark Whittington.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    V2 did not have integral tanks. It had a structural shell that encapsulated tanks. Don’t you know that?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    He’s a believer. In his emotive self the Mars colony is running right now.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The Chinese are not building from scratch. They’ve had their base handed to them by the United States in exchange for their paper money. The functionality list of older systems was very restrictive compared to what we are doing today. That complexity translates into increased development time. I think what modern aerospace suffers from is an aversion to building intermediate test systems that are subsets of what the full up system will do. Modern aerospace overextends itself in the analysis phase.

  • redneck

    Thay’s two many ole cars in he’s font yawrd. But thaty’s plinty of ruum in he’s back yawrd sense the tornader.

  • duheagle

    Yes, I know that. You seem vexed that we have seen no tank-looking “organs” slid inside this shell that’s abuilding in Boca Chica. For some reason you seem to be convinced that it’s necessary to have such rocket giblets, despite many rockets subsequent to V-2 not being thus equipped. Those of us who don’t share your peculiar fixation are not flummoxed by this, just you.

    Me, I’m not distressed by SpaceX hiring a water tank company to assemble what seems to be an integral-tankage rocket shell. The late Bob Truax used to say he went to aerospace companies and got estimates in the billions for fabricating a Sea Dragon. Then he went to a shipyard and got a reasonable quote.

  • duheagle

    That certainly seems to be true. But I think the biggest culprit is simply the long-time normative resort to cost-plus contracting in defense procurement. Cost-plus is pretty much a license to steal as it gives a contractor every incentive to stretch things out to the max rather than finishing early to get a bonus on a fixed-price contract and moving on to some next project.

    The military’s multi-decade pursuit of chimerical Swiss Army Knife aircraft that are supposed to be able to do everything has also contributed. This has often meant there will be no next project to go to, so the incentive to stretch out the extant one is simply intensified – e.g., F-35.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I’m reminded of your spinning of ‘must have beens’ when the subscale BFS was announced? Remember how you insisted that the thing must have been under development for some time before? Because you were so self assured it was going to fly on the crazy schedule Elon put out for it. It turned out to be a flash in the pan. Totally a figment of imagination. Let’s watch what comes of this, and then we can incriminate each other’s character after things play out.

  • duheagle

    The schedule wasn’t crazy then and it isn’t crazy now. You don’t seem to think the BocaChica Starhopper will ever be capable of flight. I think it’ll fly by St. Patty’s Day if not before. About nine weeks.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Yes, guts, well put. This thing has no guts. I assume you’ve hunted down more of the coverage of this thing than I have. Did you see any propellant lines? Any TVC? Gimbal mounts for the engines?

  • duheagle

    The engines are dummies that include some real parts from development engines – for fit check purposes one presumes. Musk said so in one of his recent tweets. He also said the real engines are in train and the first of them may already be in McGregor.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    People who work on ships are still called sailors …. Am I wrong? What a ship is at sea, they are still referred to as sailing. Is that not the case?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    You said ‘ever’, I never said that. I’m saying that what we see now is not capable of flight. If it will be it’s going to be like DC-X or a V2. A shell over internal hardware. Your problem is you keep thinking because someone is not grovelling at the heels of your hero, that someone hates your hero.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Three ships broke up, but a LOT of them were cracking all during their Atlantic passages. But they eventually got the process down to a science.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Oh, so that 4 years delay was filling out forms? Really? Are you sure that there were not systems that were still undeveloped and untested? Gosh, all that paperwork.

  • duheagle

    The thing is 30 feet across at the base. There’s more than adequate room to do all the internal fitting out work entirely from the inside out of view.

    As to TVC in particular, one doesn’t generally find that visible on any other rocket when photographed in profile either. For example, here’s a shot of the first intact Falcon 9 1st stage ever recovered sitting on its display pad at the southeast corner of the SpaceX Hawthorne factory site fronting on Crenshaw Blvd. The viewpoint is from inside the factory fence looking south parallel to Crenshaw with the north-south rail spur that runs along the side of the plant in the background. There is no visible TVC hardware showing. Just the engine bells.

    The profile pics of StarHopper released to date show pretty much the same thing – engine bells and that’s it. Photographically, there is no more – or less – evidence that a Falcon 9 1st stage has any “guts” inside it than there is for the Boca Chica StarHopper.

  • duheagle

    Well, what we see now is known to have dummy engines as test fit articles so, yeah, it’s not capable of flight right this minute. Once all those internal “guts” you seem so exercised about are in place and the complete set of three real engines are installed in place of the fit check articles, then it will be capable of flight.

    The current condition of StarHopper anent flight is analogous to that of a civil airframe that has just a set of concrete engine mass simulators hanging from its engine mounts. That airframe isn’t capable of flight either. Put real engines on it and gas it up, though, and that changes.

  • duheagle

    Welded reinforcing plates fixed the cracking problems. The all-welded construction of the Liberties was new to the shipbuilding business and it didn’t have the same “give” when working in heavy seas as did riveted predecessor designs so stresses were higher at concentration points. Welding was way faster than riveting in terms of cranking them out.

    Teething problems. Quite minor in the larger scheme of things. A fairly high percentage of Liberty ships were expected to be lost to enemy action anyway. In those days, the U.S. built planes and ships on what I Iike to call a modified ammunition basis – treated as moderately expendable goods.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    One of my original statements was to question how much of a simulator of a real Starship this thing can be. If this is a facade, then the utility of simulating a real Starship seems to be somewhat limited. THAT is the point I’ve been making, not that it ‘won’t ever fly’. My question was “What utility will this serve?”, because from the photos I’ve seen the utility looks really limited. And yes, I’ll admit, when I read your posts, and the posts of a few others, it’s as if you guys watched some of Armadillo Aerospace’s hoppers from the past and rejoiced that they (Armadillo) were ready to ‘go to space’. In my eyes, this is Space X paying homage to Armadillo Aerospace on a grand scale. Take that as a compliment or not, it’s your choice, I’m a bit bifurcated myself.

  • duheagle

    If there was anyone who did so, he was a loon. The Armadillo vehicles were perhaps ready to go to suborbital space, but they never got to any such point in testing. Exos, which has the Armadillo legacy, may get to space.

    But the StarHopper is never intended to get to space either so I still fail to see why you’ve got such a stick up your behind about it. Like a lot of the Armadillo test articles, StarHopper is to be a relatively low-speed, low-altitude test article to develop and refine technologies needed for the full-size, space-capable Starship. Those technologies would be mainly the engines and the landing-related systems.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    There you go again. Because I raise issues with your heroes, I ”

    got such a stick up your behind about it”. And you take it further, here’s an example. You said ” The current condition of StarHopper anent flight is analogous to that of a civil airframe that has just a set of concrete engine mass simulators hanging from its engine mounts”. I think you allude to this. If I understand you correctly, you could not be more wrong. Those are REAL airliners past design, development, prototype, testing, and certification, and manufacturing. Everything is real except the engine mass simulators. In actuality, this thing in Texas is nothing like that at all. In fact, once real engines are mounted to it, I argue nothing on it will be applicable to a real Starship EXCEPT the engines. However, that you view it as such, speaks volumes.

  • Paul451

    If this is a facade,

    You are the only one who’s been saying that. That is the point.

    Then when people react to that, you put on an innocent/hurt act and try to pretend you “didn’t say it won’t fly”, and you are just “sitting back and waiting to see”.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I think what you’re keying off of is my lack of enthusiasm. Anyone who’s not creaming in their jeans over this, you view as criminals against humanity.

    And yes, I’m sitting back and watching. So what about it? Why is it such a crime in your view?

  • redneck

    To me, this means that the entity (agency, company, corporation, or the next effective method of organizing) that solves this type of procurement problem will have a decided advantage over those stuck in the older method. Smaller companies have this problem as well, but they don’t grow into bigger ones unless they solve it to some extent.

    I’m thinking there will sooner or later be a shift along the lines of the invention of corporations and insurance that will shift the way things are done and allow better cost control and performance. And no, I don’t know how to do it or I would be on the way to billionaire status myself.

  • ReSpaceAge

    I am curious where the first orbital BFS will launch and land? In guessing Texas for both? But I have no clue what direction orbit would be to safely fly over land?
    A Guess would be a launch to the east, then deorbit so if something goes wrong the debre crashes in the gulf, correcting to land back were it launched.

    ????

    Any clue??

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    See the tank dome on the lower right corner of the site? That is going to be installed shortly.

    https://twitter.com/RGVaerialphotos/status/1084250424415264768

  • Mr Snarky Answer
  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Lots of redesigns per NASA requirements was a large source of delays.

  • Paul451

    To me, this means that the entity (agency, company, corporation, or the next effective method of organizing) that solves this type of procurement problem will have a decided advantage over those stuck in the older method. Smaller companies have this problem as well, but they don’t grow into bigger ones unless they solve it to some extent.

    The latter relates to the former. Once you get big enough, this is the solution. Implementation varies in efficiency, but the cost of not controlling your finances is huge. The risk of fraud is huge. The things companies do to customers, including what should be critical, valued large customers, if they can get away with it is crazy. The places where simple miscommunication can cause disasters is huge, even before you add wilful negligence and managerial incompetence, even when everyone is trying to do their job.

    I’m thinking there will sooner or later be a shift along the lines of the invention of corporations and insurance that will shift the way things are done and allow better cost control and performance.

    In the motor industry, there are logistics systems that are forced onto suppliers and sub-contractors, because the primary company has the monopsony power to do so, which gives every physical and financial system the same format and interoperability. It solves a lot of the payment-control, inventory-control, fraud-detection, quality-control issues by improving tracking and billing even for small suppliers. (Who don’t want to develop their own in-house system anyway, so if you say “Use this” and enforce it, is actually something of a relief, once they get used to it.)

    As an accounts guy, this is my biggest hassle. Every… single… fucking… company… has their own order, delivery, billing, invoicing, remittance, system with no commonality… even when I know they are using the same back-end finance/inventory system. Hell, most don’t have a link between their own order, delivery, billing, invoicing, payment, tax-recording systems within their own company. Complete silos. (And that includes large corps dealing with other large corps. They are as bad (and sometimes worse) than the small owner/operators. You have a fucking barcode on paperwork, you know my email address, why am I receiving dozens of differently formatted pieces of paper from your that have to be interpreted and entered by fucking hand? Let me scan that barcode and call up the info from your system. Give me any access to my account. Do something, anything, intelligent.)

    You could solve that by standardising and making universal something like the motor-industry logistics and finance system, put everyone on the same page, then you might have something. But that would require (as it did in the motor industry) someone big enough to force everyone else. Which means government regulation. And I know how you’d react to that, even if it worked.

  • ReSpaceAge

    They just got it ready for the photo shoot before making it operational.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Correct, they had a visitor at the end of last week along with photo shoot to get it put together for. I believe this week they will pop the lid and start working on getting the dome installed.

  • Jeff2Space

    Only NASA can do it because spaceflight isn’t any of those things! /s

    The fact is that spaceflight isn’t nearly as costly as NASA would have us believe. The cost to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon proves that it cost about an order of magnitude less to develop them as NASA cost models predicted. That order of magnitude difference in cost is significant, to say the least.

    I can’t wait for commercial crew to start flying. It’s just one more step towards commercializing space transportation.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Going with that as a given, why did NASA require redesigns? My bet is the majority of them were for good reason.

  • Vladislaw

    Just how much fuel will they need for a 2500′ hover flight with just a couple engines?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Good question, I’ll run some basic numbers and check in my musings on that tonight after work. We know, the engines thrust, we know the Isp of the fuel, from that we get the fuel flow rate, then we can apply some bounded guesses on tank volume and get run time out of it.

  • Vladislaw

    On a barge?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Looking at NSF there are some good pics of the tanks under construction. The speculation on their front story indicates the assembly will be taken apart for insertion of flight hardware. Some numbers. Going with an Isp of 330 sec and a thrust of 1.993 MNewtons, I get a flow rate per engine of ~ 616 kg/sec of propellant. With 3 engines that’s ~ 1848 kg/sec going flat out. If the mixture ratio is 3.81 to 1 LOX to Fuel, that’s a total flow rate of 384 kg/sec CH4 and 1464 kg/sec LOX with all three engines going flat out. From the POV of volume, that’s 909 liters/sec L CH4 and 1280 liters/sec LOX. Since some really good pics of tanks are starting to come in, let’s wait for those to firm up and we can get a good set of numbers for tank volume, and from that run time.

  • ReSpaceAge

    I would guess that they want more fuel than they would just have in normal header tanks to test land and launch at different weight conditions to better simulate a real larger BFS. Wouldn’t they want their system to guide/control heavier mass/weight than just enough to hover?

  • IamGrimalkin

    There’s nothing wrong with saying spacex’s BFR timeline is rather optimistic, seeing as it has already slipped from their previous timeline.

    http://spaceflight101.com/spx/wp-content/uploads/sites/113/2016/09/SpaceX-ITS-Timeline.jpg

    That timeline says Falcon Heavy would be done by early 2017, it launched in early 2018; it says crew dragon will be done by early 2018, if it doesn’t slip again the crewed launch is June 2019; it says red dragon would first launch early 2018, the mission has been cancelled entirely; and it says ship testing would have started in autumn 2018, if this hopper counts as ship testing it will actually start in April 2019 if the date does not slip again.