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Jun 30 2015

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Thoughts on SpaceX’s Falcon loss

Everything looked and sounded good on the video. To this untrained eye, it looked like the problem actually started toward the front of the rocket (i.e. away from the engines), but I could be mistaken.

Lots of details here.

both SpaceX and NASA were aware of an issue associated with liner cracking, close to the liquid oxygen tank “dome” on the Falcon 9 v1.1’s second stage, although it remains to be seen if this was a factor in today’s accident.

OK, maybe I’m not mistaken.

Within two hours of the accident, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden issued a preliminary statement. “We are disappointed in the loss of the latest SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station,” he said. “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 Syste

Two thoughts on the ISS going forward:

  1. This is the second cargo mission to fail in as many months. The crew on the ISS is probably not in any danger, but it’s likely that their discomfort level will inch up until future cargo missions can be completed.
  2. With the loss of the International Docking Adapter (IDA-1), NASA’s timetable to reconfigure the ISS for commercial vehicles necessarily slips to the right. This may have an impact on the CCtCAP contract as well, particularly for Boeing’s and SpaceX’s test flights in late 2016/early 2017.
  3. Hard to say if this will impact SpaceX’s CCtCAP timetable (other than the possible impact in #2). Nominally, CRS is a different contract than CCtCAP, so on the surface there should be no impact. However, given that SpaceX is planning on using Falcon 9’s to get to the ISS, I suspect NASA will require some additional assurances that it’ll be safe for Dragon 2 launch.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/06/30/thoughts-on-spacexs-falcon-loss/

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