Some more details on the Falcon 1 Flight 3 failure

At the annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday, Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX provided some additional details on the failure of the third Falcon 1 launch earlier this month in a previously-scheduled talk about the mission. She showed the rocket’s-eye view of the launch previously released on the SpaceX web site, but with some additional frames after the 2nd stage engine ignited; you can see some debris in the video (or “nasty bits”, as she put it), which she said included a parachute recovery system as well as the second stage engine nozzle (this particular cut of the video is not on the SpaceX web site because of ITAR concerns.) Also:

  • The second stage started to tumble after ignition because of the loss of the nozzle. Still, they were able to command the separation of the payload fairing, and got telemetry up to nine minutes after launch.
  • SpaceX is pressing ahead with the next launch, which will be a demonstration mission with nothing more than a mass simulator. Hardware for the mission will start shipping to Kwajalein in a week or two, and they are aiming for a “narrow” launch window in September, with another launch window in October.
  • There are two failure investigations in process, one internal and one external, but SpaceX doesn’t plan to wait until those reviews are complete before proceeding with Flight 4.

Shotwell said that she had the task of explaining the failure to Elon Musk’s assistant, who is not a launch vehicle expert. After explaining what happened, she recalled, the assistant said, “You mean to say we rear-ended ourselves?”

1 comment to Some more details on the Falcon 1 Flight 3 failure

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>