Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

Archive for June, 2015

Understanding The Aftermath Of SpaceX’s Failed Falcon Launch

On Sunday morning, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket broke apart nearly 30 miles above Cape Canaveral just a few minutes after launch, marking its first full mission failure. The rocket was taking the Dragon capsule, carrying more than 4,000 pounds of supplies, to the International Space Station (ISS).

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Another major rocket failure for a space industry out to prove itself

It was a beautiful day on the cape, sunny and hot with patchy clouds — good weather for rocketry. SpaceX’s unmanned Falcon 9 rocket looked great as it tore a hole in the sky, propelling 4,000 pounds of cargo in a Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station.

NASA’s Twitter account offered the play-by-play: “And we have liftoff of @SpaceX #ISScargo resupply mission to the @Space_Station.”

Two minutes later, Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 blew up like a bottle rocket. Food, supplies, hardware and dozens of student science experiments rained to the sea off the Florida coast.

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SpaceX Commercial Crew Will Have Launch Escape Route | DNews

In the video of the fireball that engulfed SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket Sunday, a little capsule, still intact, can be seen falling through the sky, a poignant reminder that rocket explosions can be survivable.

That’s an important and painful lesson NASA learned following the loss of two space shuttles and 14 astronauts, one that it is incorporating into the next generation of human spaceship currently under development.

The Dragon capsule that flew aboard the ill-fated Falcon rocket Sunday is nearly the same as one SpaceX is designing to fly people. Crew Dragon, however, will have an escape system that will enable the capsule to fly away from an exploding rocket and parachute to safety.

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Failure Adds to the Pressure on Space Station

SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, says there’ll be no quick answers to the questions surrounding Sunday’s loss of his company’s Falcon 9 rocket and its cargo for the International Space Station.

The cause of the mishap is “still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review,” Musk tweeted overnight. “Now parsing data with a hex editor to recover final milliseconds.”

He said that the problem was traced to excessive pressure in the upper stage’s liquid oxygen tank — but that the cause of that condition appeared to be “counterintuitive.” His comments led to deep discussions on such forums as Reddit and NASASpaceflight.com.

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Satellite owners among bystanders in Falcon 9 accident | Spaceflight Now

The long queue of satellites waiting on launches aboard SpaceX’s Falcon rockets — a backlog the company says is worth $7 billion — will stay grounded while investigators determine what caused a Falcon 9 booster to disintegrate after liftoff Sunday with supplies heading for the International Space Station.

Commercial and government satellite operators — from telecom giant SES to NOAA’s climate research team — were lined up to fly on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the coming months, and they will have to wait longer than bargained for when they signed on to launch on the commercial booster.

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Photos: Falcon 9 blasts off, then breaks apart in mid-air | Spaceflight Now

Cameras positioned around SpaceX’s launch facility at Cape Canaveral captured stunning photos of the Falcon 9 rocket’s picturesque blastoff into a sun-splashed sky Sunday morning, but the photogenic launch went awry minutes later.

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Senate Bill Provides Partial Funding Increase For FAA Commercial Space Office | SpaceNews.com

WASHINGTON — A Senate appropriations bill approved last week provides a modest increase in funding for the federal office that licenses commercial launches, but industry officials argue that the office requires more funding, particularly after the recent SpaceX launch failure.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a transportation and housing and urban development bill June 25 on a 20–10 vote. The bill, which funds the Federal Aviation Administration among other agencies, includes $17.425 million for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, the office that regulates commercial launch activities in the United States.

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