Tag: Falcon 9

Musk: Engineers Still Unsure Why Falcon 9 Failed

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Speaking at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Boston on Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said engineers are still trying to determine why a Falcon 9 rocket broke up in flight on June 28.

“Obviously, this is a huge blow to SpaceX, and we take these missions incredibly seriously,” Musk said in a question and answer session Tuesday at an International Space Station conference in Boston. “Everyone that can engage in the investigation at SpaceX is very, very focused on that. In this case, the data does seem to be quite difficult to interpret. Whatever happened is clearly not a simple, straightforward thing, so we want to spend as much time as possible just reviewing the data.”

He said engineers will “look at both what we think most likely happened, and then anything that’s a close call, and then try to address all of those things and maximize the probability of success on future missions.”

“At this point, the only thing that’s really clear was there was some kind of over-pressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank, but the exact cause and sequence of events, there’s still no clear theory that fits with all the data,” Musk said. “So we have to determine if some of the data is a measurement error of some kind, or if there’s actually a theory that matches what appear to be conflicting data points.”

Musk said he hopes to have preliminary results of the investigation by the end of the week.

SpaceX’s Philosophy: Reliability Through Continual Upgrades


Remains of a Falcon 9 rocket fall to Earth.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

To succeed in the launch business, you need to be very, very good and more than a little bit lucky. Eventually, there comes a day when you are neither.

That is what happened to SpaceX on June 28. A string of 18 successful Falcon 9 launches was snapped as the company’s latest rocket broke up in the clear blues skies over the Atlantic Ocean. A Dragon supply ship headed for the International Space Station was lost, SpaceX’s crowded manifest was thrown into confusion, and the company’s reputation for reliability was shattered.

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Critical Progress Resupply Mission Set for Friday Launch



UPDATE: Looks like the launch went well. Progress is in orbit, solar arrays deployed.

Russia’s preparing to launch a critical Progress resupply mission containing more than 3 tons of food, fuel, water, oxygen and other supplies to the International Space Station on Friday. The launch of Progress M-28M is set for 0455 GMT (12:55 a.m. EDT).

Progress flights usually attract little attention. However, this flight is seen a crucial following the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon freighter last summer in a launch accident. It was the third launch failure involving an ISS resupply ship in eight months.

On April 28, a Progress vehicle began tumbling out of control after it reached orbit. The mission was eventually abandoned. Last Oct. 28, an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff, destroying a Cygnus cargo ship.

Russians officials have blamed a problem with the third stage of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket for the Progress failure. For this launch, they have switched to a Soyuz-U launch vehicle that is not susceptible to the same problem.

The resupply ship is scheduled to arrive on Sunday at 0713 GMT (3:13 a.m. EDT) with an automatic docking to the space station’s Pirs compartment.

Space Access Update: Falcon 9 Failure


Space Access Update #143 7/2/15

copyright 2015 by Space Access Society

Sunday’s Commercial Cargo Mission Loss


Sunday’s (6/28/15) SpaceX cargo resupply launch to Station failed, breaking up a little over two minutes into the flight. (More here and here.) This was SpaceX’s eighth such flight; their initial test mission then six commercial-contract cargo flights had essentially gone as planned. This was SpaceX’s nineteenth launch of the Falcon 9 booster; the first eighteen F9 launches all reached orbit successfully.
Continue reading ‘Space Access Update: Falcon 9 Failure’

SpaceX, NASA Agree to Delay Dragon In-Flight Abort Test

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

By Stephanie Martin,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX began developing a plan that would move its in-flight abort test to provide higher fidelity data and reduce risk to future crews launched to the International Space Station in the Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA and SpaceX agreed to consider this proposed change prior to the mishap of SpaceX’s seventh commercial resupply services mission.

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Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

Continue reading ‘Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule’

NASA Says ISS Supply Situation Good, Crew in No Danger


Some notes from the NASA press conference covering the loss of Falcon 9 and the Dragon resupply ship on Sunday morning.

Cause of the Accident & Investigation

The cause is as yet undetermined. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who was not at the press conference, Tweeted that there was an overpressure event in the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank prior to the launch vehicle breaking up. “Data suggests counterintuitive cause,” he wrote. Video of the accident appears to show the breakup of the vehicle beginning there.

Continue reading ‘NASA Says ISS Supply Situation Good, Crew in No Danger’

ESA, CSF Weigh in on Failed Falcon 9 launch

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain

Hearing the news of today’s loss of SpaceX CRS-7 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated: “We at the European Space Agency deeply regret this failure that shows that sending launchers into space is a very hard job. However a failure does not undermine all the previous successes. We wish our colleagues on the other side of the ocean all our best in fixing the problem and getting back into flight again soon”.

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Possible Image of Dragon Separated From Falcon 9

Dragon capsule apparently separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

What appears to be Dragon capsule was thrown clear of the Falcon 9 rocket as it broke up.

Bolden Weighs in on Falcon 9 Failure

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the loss Sunday of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services 7 (CRS-7) mission.

“We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. However, the astronauts are safe aboard the station and have sufficient supplies for the next several months. We will work closely with SpaceX to understand what happened, fix the problem and return to flight. The commercial cargo program was designed to accommodate loss of cargo vehicles. We will continue operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we continue to use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system.

“A Progress vehicle is ready to launch July 3, followed in August by a Japanese HTV flight. Orbital ATK, our other commercial cargo partner, is moving ahead with plans for its next launch later this year.

“SpaceX has demonstrated extraordinary capabilities in its first six cargo resupply missions to the station, and we know they can replicate that success. We will work with and support SpaceX to assess what happened, understand the specifics of the failure and correct it to move forward. This is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but we learn from each success and each setback. Today’s launch attempt will not deter us from our ambitious human spaceflight program.”