Sep 08 2015

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SpaceX targeting 1 November to begin launches

SpaceX conducts additional Falcon 9 improvements ahead of busy schedule. They still plan on having at least another 4 launches before the end of the year.

While a failed strut of a second-stage helium bottle is still considered the cause of the CRS-7 failure, SpaceX is still trying to figure out exactly what happened:

The initial focus centered on a strut, designed to hold one of the second stage helium pressurization system bottles in place. SpaceX believes one strut “snapped” during first stage flight.

The failed strut is understood to have released the Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel (COPV), resulting in it leaking helium, causing an overpressure event in the tank and the subsequent failure of the stage.

However, the flight telemetry does not fully support a “straightforward failure” of a loose helium bottle bursting the second stage tank.

“It’s proving to be quite a puzzle,” noted SpaceX CEO Chief Designer Elon Musk in July. “The telemetry data also somewhat confusingly shows a drop in helium pressure – which you’d expect with a breach in the system – and then, somewhat strangely, a rise (of pressure) in the system, back to its starting pressure. This is obviously quite confusing.”

It is believed this failure sequence may revolve around the bottle breaking free, twisting around, resulting in its helium line “pinching” off the helium manifold, which subsequently restored pressure in the helium system. However, it would have still released enough helium into the tank to cause the Second Stage to fail.

That does sound weird, particularly the loss-of-pressure followed by the increase in pressure…

The next launch will be for the SES-9 communications satellite. Not only will the struts be replaced, but this launch will herald the debut of Falcon 9 V1.2, which will have 15% more thrust than V1.1.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/09/08/spacex-targeting-1-november-to-begin-launches/

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