Tag: Falcon 9

Musk Talks About Mars Plans, Upgraded Falcon 9 During Reddit AMA

Interplanetary Transport System (Credit: SpaceX)

Interplanetary Transport System (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk did an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit on Sunday afternoon about his Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) and plans to colonize Mars. Musk also provided an update on upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 booster which SpaceX expects to launch for the first time next year.

Below are some key excerpts. You can find the full session here.

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NASA Still Working on Releasing Report 16 Months After Falcon 9 Failure

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

I checked in again this week with NASA to see how they were coming on releasing the results of an the space agency’s independent investigation into the Falcon 9 in-flight failure in June 2015. I received the following reply:

NASA completed an independent analysis of the SpaceX CRS-7 mishap in support of high-value payload launches planned under the NASA Launch Services II contract. In accordance with the NLS II contract, the NASA Launch Services Program reviewed SpaceX’s readiness to launch the Jason-3 mission and led an independent investigation of the incident as part of the Flight Readiness Review process. The Launch Services Program independent investigation yielded an in-depth understanding of the mishap event; consequently, NASA’s final report on its investigation into the SpaceX CRS-7 mission is still in work. The official report of the independent review team contains information restricted by U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations and company-sensitive proprietary information. As a result, NASA will provide a summary of publicly releasable information when the final report is completed.

Musk: SpaceX Has Theory on Falcon 9 Firexplanomaly; Sabotage Unlikely

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Remarks attributed to Elon Musk in which he discussed a possible cause of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch pad firexplanomaly leaked out to the public last week after his his presentation before officials at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

“We are close to figuring it out. It might have been formation of solid oxygen in the carbon over-wrap of one of the bottles in the upper stage tanks. If it was liquid it would have been squeezed out but under pressure it could have ignited with the carbon. This is the leading theory right now, but it is subject to confirmation,” Musk is reported to have said.

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Terra Bella and Spaceflight Industries Sign Agreement for Falcon 9 Launch for Small Imaging Satellites

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Falcon 9 launches the Dragon CRS-9 mission to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

SEATTLE, Oct. 11, 2016 (Spaceflight Industries PR)Spaceflight Industries, a next-generation space company enabling access to space and redefining global intelligence, announced today that Terra Bella has signed an agreement with its launch services entity, Spaceflight, for a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch of Terra Bella SkySats.

Terra Bella will be the co-lead on Spaceflight’s SSO-A dedicated rideshare mission scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in late 2017.

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Shotwell: Helium Tank “Let Go” in Falcon 9 Firexplanomaly

Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceNews has a story on Gwynne Shotwell, who provided an update on the investigation into the Falcon 9 launch pad failure last month and other developments at the company. Here is a summary:

  • SpaceX believes Falcon 9 failure was caused when a composite over wrapped pressure vessel (COPv or helium bottle) “let go” in the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank;
  • Company is not sure what caused the explosion yet, but they don’t believe it was caused by ground support equipment;
  • Doesn’t believe it is a problem with helium bottle design but “probably is more focused on the operations”;
  • Accident in September was different from the one in June 2015 when a helium bottle broke loose due to strut failure;
  • Neither of the Falcon 9 failures have been associated with changes made to the booster;
  • Believes Falcon 9 can be put back into service this year;
  • Discount on reused Falcon 9 first stages is about 10 percent than the previously advertised 30 percent;
  • SpaceX wants to recover investments put into making Falcon 9 first stages reusable before reducing prices;
  • Company might reduce prices for reused first stages at a later date;
  • Does not think the company is trying to do too much at once, pointing to small percentages of the company working on Mars and the broadband constellation;
  • Top three priorities are getting Falcon 9 flying again, making sure Dragon gets “upgraded” to carry crew, and flying a Falcon Heavy booster that’s four years behind schedule;
  • The timeline for SpaceX’s broadband constellation of 4,000 satellites is still uncertain;
  • Will fly test satellites for the constellation next year;
  • Key issue with broadband constellation is a reliable and affordable ground antennae for users that’s easy to install.





Congressional Letter Supports SpaceX Firexplanomaly Investigation

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

Twenty-four members of Congress have written a letter to the administrators of NASA and the FAA and the secretary of the U.S. Air Force supporting the SpaceX-led investigation into the loss of one of the company’s Falcon 9 boosters last month.

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Musk Reaches for Mars; NASA Worries About Reaching Space Station


While Elon Musk was in Mexico last week wowing the world with his plan to send a million people to Mars, NASA officials north of the border in Houston were contemplating a more mundane problem: how to continue sending a handful of American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Falcon 9 Investigation Takes Strange Turn

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Good news for conspiracy buffs who have been speculating over the past month about what caused a Falcon 9 to catch fire and explode at Cape Canaveral.

The long-running feud between Elon Musk’s space company and its fierce competitor United Launch Alliance took a bizarre twist this month when a SpaceX employee visited its facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and asked for access to the roof of one of ULA’s buildings.

About two weeks earlier, one of SpaceX’s rockets blew up on a launchpad while it was awaiting an engine test. As part of the investigation, SpaceX officials had come across something suspicious they wanted to check out, according to three industry officials with knowledge of the episode. SpaceX had still images from video that appeared to show an odd shadow, then a white spot on the roof of a nearby building belonging to ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The SpaceX representative explained to the ULA officials on site that it was trying to run down all possible leads in what was a cordial, not accusatory, encounter, according to the industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn’t find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said.

So what would we call this? A firexplotage?

Read the full story.



Congressmen Seek Answers on SpaceX Falcon 9 Failures

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

A group 10 Republican Congressmen have sent a letter to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seeking answers about the failures of SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicles over the past 15 months.

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Are SpaceX’s 60 to 80 Hour Work Weeks Really Such a Good Idea?

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Elon Musk has been credited with bringing Silicon Valleyesque practices to the rocket industry: the 60 to 80 hour weeks, frequent hardware as software upgrades, multi-tasking, free coffee, vested stock options, gala holiday parties each more extravagant than the last, and the other things.

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SpaceXplosion Update: Preliminary Review Suggests “Large Breach in Cryogenic Helium System”

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX Falcon 9 Loss Update
September 23, 1:00pm EDT

Three weeks ago, SpaceX experienced an anomaly at our Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This resulted in the loss of one of our Falcon 9 rockets and its payload.

Continue reading ‘SpaceXplosion Update: Preliminary Review Suggests “Large Breach in Cryogenic Helium System”’

ULA Sought to Delay USAF Satellite Bids After SpaceX Launch Pad Accident


ULA_logoULA sought to have the U.S. Air Force delay bids on an upcoming GPS III satellite launch by 60 days in the wake of SpaceX’s loss of a Falcon 9 and its payload earlier this month, The Washington Post reports.

Tory Bruno, ULA’s chief executive, urged the Air Force to postpone the deadline for bids, saying it should take time to explore the impact of SpaceX’s rocket failure while also taking into account both companies’ experience and past performance.

The Pentagon should have particular reservations, Bruno wrote, given that two of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have blown up, which he said “serve as a reminder of the complexity and hazards intrinsic to space launch services.”

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SpaceX, NASA Misled Public About First Commercial Resupply Flight

Falcon 9 launches on its first commercial resupply mission.

Falcon 9 launches on its first commercial resupply mission.

As SpaceX prepared to launch its first commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station in October 2012, there was a rather curious aspect about the mission. While the Dragon spacecraft was advertised as being able to carry 3,310 kg of cargo, the ship was only loaded with 450 kg of cargo — less than 14 percent of maximum capacity.

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A Video Analysis of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Firexplanomaly


Video Caption: A more detailed analysis of the spacex falcon 9 rocket explosion.

Several interesting details. Firstly the main explosion is actually from the fuel from the second stage and the liquid oxygen from the first stage.

In order to save weight on the rocket the second stage of the falcon 9 uses a common wall for the liquid oxygen and fuel tank (rp1). Any rupture in this tank wall would doom the rocket.

The quiet ‘pop’ may well be a failure of a helium tank. They are usually used to keep a pressure in the tanks while they are emptying due to the rocket burning the fuel. If one of these had ruptured while the oxygen tank was full, it could have overpressurized the tank causing it to also fail.

I Will Launch America: Mike Ravenscroft

Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

Mike Ravenscroft (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Every astronaut who flies into space should go with the confidence that every detail of their spacecraft, rocket and mission has been thought-through and evaluated carefully, engineer Michael Ravenscroft said. That’s one of the reasons that the Commercial Crew Program engineer takes so little for granted as the program steers itself and partners toward a new dawn of human spaceflight from American soil.

“It’s one of those things you always think about – you don’t want to put anybody at unnecessary risk,” Ravenscroft said.

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