Friday, May 22, 2020

The Milestones To Wednesday's Manned Launch Keeping Going By

Today was a big day in the preparations for Wednesday's return to manned space flight.  First, today's Flight Readiness Review took place behind closed doors and was declared a success with no issues raised.  Second, the flight-ready Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule underwent a booster static fire test for a few seconds on historic pad 39A.   (That's a surprisingly low quality 5:38 long video that I set to start at 2:45 and the static fire is about 3:10)  The launch vehicle was rolled to the pad yesterday.
On Thursday and Friday, senior managers from NASA, SpaceX, and the space agency's international partners held long meetings to review all of the aspects of an upcoming flight of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

These discussions must have gone well, because on Friday afternoon, NASA officials emerged with a clear message: "There are no significant issues," said NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, who led the meetings behind closed doors at Kennedy Space Center. "In the end, it was a very clean review. We are ready to launch."
That article, on Ars Technica, reminds us that it was just over a year ago (Saturday April 20) that the test Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed on the pad when the Super Draco thrusters exploded milliseconds before they were supposed to fire.
Since that time, SpaceX has addressed not only the root cause of that problem but has also overseen a complete redesign of the vehicle's parachute system. The company closed out dozens of other significant issues to reach this point.

NASA's manager of the Commercial Crew Program, Kathy Lueders, acknowledged that the process has been a whirlwind. "Last April, I probably wasn't thinking I was going to be flying in a year, but you know what—you can never sell this NASA and SpaceX team short," she said. "They've always accomplished miracles for me. And I'm very, very proud of them."
It's a busy time until launch and there will be several more milestones to be met before then.
Saturday the crew will conduct a "dry" dress rehearsal in which Hurley and Behnken suit up for launch day, and there will be a Launch Readiness Review meeting on Monday. But the biggest concern is probably weather; there are multiple constraints for the Falcon 9 launch and emergency abort scenarios down range. Florida may see some scattered to widespread showers next week, according to medium-range weather models.

Yet NASA and SpaceX are very close. (NASA Associate Administrator) Jurczyk said Friday it "is hard to believe" we are just five days from launching this crewed mission, and we have to agree. We can't wait.



17 comments:

  1. It's really a stunningly clean, sleek design.

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    1. Old Aerospace Adage: If It Looks Right, It Is Right!

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  2. President Trump is talking about coming down to see the launch.

    And NatGeo is showing it starting at 3pm on Wednesday.

    Dang, this is like all the fun of the Gemini and Apollo launches.

    Squeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. I still remember the excitement in the late 1950's and throughout the 1960's. I think we are getting it back.

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  3. Still no warp drive, dammit.
    But it's a start...

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    1. Elon will eventually get there. Well maybe he will.

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    2. Elon is serious about going to Mars, but I haven't heard one word about the big issue with that flight, which is the difference in our orbits. The shortest duration flight window is going to be opening in a few weeks - July - and it only happens every 26 months. IIRC, the shortest duration is a 7 month trip. If they used impulse power: just about continuously putting out small explosives (and the most efficient would be small nuclear explosions), or a nuclear-powered ion engine, they could accelerate half the way and decelerate the second half. That turns it into a 6 week trip. More importantly, if they need to come back, they can leave at any time and dramatically cut the return time. Other wise, it's a minimum two year mission.

      Ironically, if they put out a small nuclear explosion regularly, they expose the crew to much less radiation because that comes from the time in deep space traveling to Mars.

      It doesn't seem like anyone can accuse Musk of lacking vision, so either he just doesn't know, or the laws make it damned near impossible to do that. I'll go with the second.

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    3. He has discussed the synod problem at length. One of the reasons he's pushing so hard on Starship is because of the upcoming synod window. He'd like to at least send something to orbit Mars with a set of cameras on it.

      One of the solutions to radiation, in addition to a safe room, is to put water cargo around the outside of the crew compartment.

      Of course, the relative orbital position doesn't matter for cargo trains, it just affects the time of arrival. And the main reason for concentrating on designing the production methodology is so that he can send an entire fleet of colonists during a given window, and so that cargo pipeline can be filled. During the buildup phase I believe he's trying to plan for a cargo landing every 24 hours or so on Mars.

      No, he's not thinking small at all. Everyone else is.

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    4. One of the stated plans, as Malatrope said, was to launch people during the synod. And the Starship is water-jacketed (much like the Bigelow inflatable habitats that now look like they'll never be used.)

      Cargo flights and fuel flights? They'll be launching all the time.

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    5. Cargo flights and fuel flights? They'll be launching all the time.

      I understand the reason they developed the Raptor engines to run on methane and LOX was the expectation that methane could be manufactured on Mars. At some point, they won't need to send fuel.

      There was an article somewhere saying they should coat the deep space vehicles with their poop instead of just dumping it in space (it's gonna follow alongside them anyway). The poop would be like more water, more shielding.


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  4. DEFINITELY going to watch!

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  5. My grandsons will be with us next Wednesday. We are going to watch the launch. I will try to tell them about Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

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    1. Our grandson is here on Wednesdays. I think we'll join your watch party, BillB!

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    2. The 528 Causeway used to be the 2nd best spot, short of actually being on the Cape, for viewing the previous manned launches.

      Jetty Park, in Canaveral, is another great place.

      Of course, best is watching it on tv and then running out, climbing on the roof and watching it the rest of the way.

      Man, I miss living in Satellite Beach.

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    3. I'm across the river from there. I just watch in the side yard or even in street. We only get to see parts of a launch anyway.

      With SpaceX, I get back indoors to watch the first stage recoveries. I've seen thousands of liftoffs, but the rocket landing on its tail is still pretty nifty.

      On the dimmer side of the news, the NWS station has bumped up the chances of rain Wednesday to 60%. Most likely in the afternoon. If they launch, I bet I won't see anything anyway.

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  6. I know one of their test engineers in McGregor (TX) and saw him this morning. I asked him if that booster got any extra TLC in testing and he said "Oh, yeah. A lot. As much as they'd let us do. We feel really good about it." Best of luck to all of them this week.

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  7. Don't insist that I am a spoil sport troll or have negative waves but I do have a memory of NASA and contractors prideful and conceited, layered decision making from the STS's launch, orbit, de-orbit and landing attempts and their faulty decision making which managed to kill so many of our best. So, at this point of the developments, the listed crew needs to get replaced by those of the highest levels of NASA and SpaceX management that can be stuffed into the Crew Dragon and give them the joy of the first ride; seeing as they are so positive and hopeful and sure of things. I think it would be a right and fair political decision and a sharing of the risk that would be equitable.

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