It took them a couple of days to get the weather acceptable for launching the Crew Dragon abort test, but the mission went off without a hitch at 10:30 EST this morning. The original schedule was for 8:00 AM yesterday (“no earlier than...”) but that was cancelled due to the strong winds not easing, as was forecast Friday. The test was rescheduled for this morning at 8:00 AM and then rescheduled for 10:00, then 10:30. Since it's a suborbital test, the launch window wasn't critical and extended to 2:00 PM. On the plus side, the weather allowed them to test the system at the limits it would ever be allowed to fly in, including splashing down in rough seas.
We were still socked in by clouds, only catching a glimpse or two of the Falcon 9 booster during it's 1:37 second lifetime. We came back in and watched the test unfold on SpaceX's feed on YouTube.
This is a screen capture from their video, showing virtually the moment that the F9 is shutdown and the Crew Dragon escape rockets fire.
Ten seconds later the F9 booster exploded - this was expected to happen, but was dramatic to see.
The post-test press conference declared that all objectives have been met. That was the last test involving the full vehicle, but there are still some tests required before the system will be pronounced flight ready and a manned mission to the ISS would be allowed. Those sound like isolated hardware tests, parachutes and some other systems, which should go more quickly than full system tests requiring launches of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon.
The post-test conference is optimistic that the first Crew Dragon flight from the KSC to the ISS will happen this year, probably in the second quarter of the year; that is, before summer. That will be the first manned launch from US soil since the final flight of the Shuttle Discovery in 2011.
That was so cool to watch.ReplyDelete
Why did they blow the booster?ReplyDelete
I don't think they blew the booster with the FTS (Flight Termination System). At least they didn't indicate so in the New Briefing at 12:00 EST. They did expect the aerodynamic forces to cause this kind of thing to happen.Delete
AFAIK, they didn't blow it with Command Destruct, it blew up due to operating conditions.Delete
Maybe it has an onboard program that recognized conditions were far beyond expectations for normal flight and destroyed itself, but that's pure speculation on my part.
OK, I wasn't sure if it was "part of the test".Delete
Guess it just came apart at the seams do to aerodynamic loading.....
Due to the testing of the abort while the 1st stage booster engines were still firing, yes, the sudden aerodynamic braking of a now-semi-open-ended cylinder overloaded the booster, causing it to blow.Delete
They might have been able to save the booster if they shut the booster off, then popped the abort rockets on the capsule.
But SpaceX believes in overstressing during tests, trying to screw up, rather than doing only partial testing and calling it good.
I'd feel much safer flying SpaceX than Boeing, or Lockheed, or any 2nd or 3rd world capsule, because SpaceX screws up spectacularly, and doesn't try to cover it up. And they learn from their mistakes.
I am looking forward to Q2 2020 for the Demo 2 flight. One thing that came up in the News Briefing is that NASA may want to make Demo 2 an extended stay mission. That may delay SpaceX Demo 2 so that they can train the astronauts to perform ISS mission tasks.ReplyDelete
SpaceX makes me smile. Off to the future!ReplyDelete
I'm fervently hoping that NASA doesn't delay the mission so that Boeing can beat SpaceX with the first manned flight. After all their hard work and dedication, SpaceX deserves to bring home the flag that the last shuttle mission left on ISS (the same flag that was launched on the first shuttle mission).Delete
Boeing's performance on the Starliner program has been careless, clumsy, and offhand. They deserve to lose (and I say this after spending 27 years working there in research and development).
Malatrope, you have further reinforced my belief that the talk by NASA to make SpaceX Demo 2 an extented stay with extra training for the astronauts is just for that purpose to give Boeing the bragging rights for being the first back.Delete
Also to Malatrope (mostly) The difference in the Starliner vs. SpaceX comes across to me as "Cost Plus" contract vs. a company developing on their own with their own money. Some additional bad news about that Boeing Starliner test that never made their mission to the ISS is out today. They had thruster failures.Delete
SpaceX is acting as the Great Disruptor.
"You know we're going to blow up a perfectly good rocket for this, right?"ReplyDelete