Author Topic: MISSION FAILURE: Progress M-27M launch Soyuz-2-1A - April 28, 2015  (Read 343982 times)

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

The Russians said that the Soyuz third stage 'depressurised'.

I'm thinking that the propellent valves re-opened (likely due to an ongoing IU malfunction) before the combustion chamber cooled sufficiently causing a brief 'burp' of thrust as the chamber was hot enough to cause the propellent to combine. This caused a collision with the nearby Progress, compressing its hull, causing a propellent system over-pressure and rupturing both fuel systems, disabling its engines. Either the impact or the release of pressurised propellent from one side of the spacecraft generated the tumble.
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Offline Targeteer

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The ISS ground track graphic shows the Progress about to lap the ISS.  I didn't hear any mention on the feed of the crew trying to catch a glimpse but their sleep period is about to begin.  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream
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Offline JimO

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

One possibility is a rupture of a prop tank on Progress, either because of something internal or because of strain from a hit from the upper stage after separation.

Another possibility is that Progress separated, moved some distance away, then was hit by the upper stage after it had moved off the axis of the stage but before it was entirely clear of its path.

I've run some numbers on both these scenarios and fail to come within orders of magnitude of the energy transfer required to put the Progress into a 20 rpm tumble. Spewing propellant doesn't have the thrust, and physical impact -- especially at the back end less than 2 meters off centerline -- requires impactor velocity and mass so large that there's no energy short of booster engine firing from a range of 10s of meters to impart the needed impulse [and if it were still firing the Progress would never have gotten that far away]. I can't create a scenario that an impact results in the observable final conditions.

Except by thruster.

Offline JimO

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The ISS ground track graphic shows the Progress about to lap the ISS.  I didn't hear any mention on the feed of the crew trying to catch a glimpse but their sleep period is about to begin.  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-iss-stream

Aren't there some external cameras watching in the right direction all the time?

Offline Targeteer

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Yes, but there isn't always video down even when the ISS is clearly in TDRS coverage like it has been for the past ten minutes which is why the ground track display is up.  Both vehicles are also in the earths shadow as well right now.
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Offline sghill

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What about the possibility that perhaps Progress didn't separate from the third stage at all initially, and the third stage then did it's standard post-launch prop purge/spin maneuver with the Progress still attached, following which Progress separated due to G forces and subsequently exhausted all it's propellant trying to null out the spin rate.

In other words, the whole issue is a stage sep failure. Plausible?
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35789.msg1366427#msg1366427
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Online the_other_Doug

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

One possibility is a rupture of a prop tank on Progress, either because of something internal or because of strain from a hit from the upper stage after separation.

Another possibility is that Progress separated, moved some distance away, then was hit by the upper stage after it had moved off the axis of the stage but before it was entirely clear of its path.

I've run some numbers on both these scenarios and fail to come within orders of magnitude of the energy transfer required to put the Progress into a 20 rpm tumble. Spewing propellant doesn't have the thrust, and physical impact -- especially at the back end less than 2 meters off centerline -- requires impactor velocity and mass so large that there's no energy short of booster engine firing from a range of 10s of meters to impart the needed impulse [and if it were still firing the Progress would never have gotten that far away]. I can't create a scenario that an impact results in the observable final conditions.

Except by thruster.

I dunno -- a leak in a high-pressure line or tank, when pointed pretty much in a single direction, acts an awful lot like a thruster.

The salient data you'd need to know in order to evaluate the possibilities are the pressurization level, the amount of propellant available in the system when depressurization began, and the length of time it took to depressurize the manifolds.  That would give you an error range around the min and max amount of thrust you would get out of a prop leak, as opposed to the prop being used in the engines for which it was meant.

My only problem with the concept of a stuck thruster or a flight control system that kept thrusters firing until the system depressurized is that (as explained up-thread) safety interlocks would have stopped the thrusting when the prop quantity reached a certain point, and that simply firing a thruster for a long time would not, in itself, result in both prop manifolds becoming fully depressurized.

I just don't think the base issue, here, was a bad FCS causing thruster firing to fuel depletion.  Something else much more violent happened, I think -- especially when you factor the large number of pieces of debris being tracked into account.
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Offline meekGee

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

One possibility is a rupture of a prop tank on Progress, either because of something internal or because of strain from a hit from the upper stage after separation.

Another possibility is that Progress separated, moved some distance away, then was hit by the upper stage after it had moved off the axis of the stage but before it was entirely clear of its path.

I've run some numbers on both these scenarios and fail to come within orders of magnitude of the energy transfer required to put the Progress into a 20 rpm tumble. Spewing propellant doesn't have the thrust, and physical impact -- especially at the back end less than 2 meters off centerline -- requires impactor velocity and mass so large that there's no energy short of booster engine firing from a range of 10s of meters to impart the needed impulse [and if it were still firing the Progress would never have gotten that far away]. I can't create a scenario that an impact results in the observable final conditions.

Except by thruster.

Which can point at either a thruster failure, a control system failure, or a sensor failure.  Since we (think we) know that the attitude readings were fixed while the vehicle was spinning, a sensor or control system failure will explain all.  That's not a root cause though.

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Offline iamlucky13

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

I haven't followed the details closely, but just skimming the updates I was leaning in the direction of a thruster malfunction, too.

An unbalanced thruster firing produces both torque (which could explain the rotation), and translation (which could explain the high perigee). Centripetal force from the rotation could potentially cause other parts to separate to account for the extra pieces of debris being tracked. I'm thinking about items like the solar panels that are stowed for launch and not necessarily designed to react significant loads when deployed.

Offline iamlucky13

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I've run some numbers on both these scenarios and fail to come within orders of magnitude of the energy transfer required to put the Progress into a 20 rpm tumble. Spewing propellant doesn't have the thrust

Is it possible for either UDMH or nitrogen tetroxide alone to react spontaneously, as in, like a monopropellant?

Offline Prober

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What about the possibility that perhaps Progress didn't separate from the third stage at all initially, and the third stage then did it's standard post-launch prop purge/spin maneuver with the Progress still attached, following which Progress separated due to G forces and subsequently exhausted all it's propellant trying to null out the spin rate.

In other words, the whole issue is a stage sep failure. Plausible?

or let's try this wild idea..... the solar panels spread out making contact with the 3rd stage creating a spin.
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Offline edkyle99

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What about the possibility that perhaps Progress didn't separate from the third stage at all initially, and the third stage then did it's standard post-launch prop purge/spin maneuver with the Progress still attached, following which Progress separated due to G forces and subsequently exhausted all it's propellant trying to null out the spin rate.

In other words, the whole issue is a stage sep failure. Plausible?
I'm leaning toward something wrong at separation.  There was mention of the upper stage providing a bit more velocity than planned.  There was mention of telemetry dropping out 1.5 seconds before the planned spacecraft separation.  I have read flight reports for old launch vehicles that ran into weird timing problems at payload separation when the stage did not behave perfectly on the way up.  Sometimes an upper stage ignited before the separation.  Other times unexpected tip off forces resulted.  Occasionally separation did not occur at all.  I don't have a good feel for what may have happened here, but it seems possible that the upper stage could be a culprit. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/30/2015 02:11 AM by edkyle99 »

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

The Russians said that the Soyuz third stage 'depressurised'.

IIRC, this was not declared - only the main engine on Progress. But the 3rd stage did lose telemetry link 1.5 seconds before scheduled spacecraft separation.
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Offline FinalFrontier

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Back to the mission itself. I've been mulling it over and just cannot imagine any energetic event at payload insertion that would result in an accidental asymmetric force on the Progress sufficient to induce such a fast tumble rate -- except a LONG thruster burn. That would itself take up lots of propellant, even more if other thrusters were commanded on to attempt to counteract it.

What are the alternative sources of sufficient rotational force on the Progress?

Alternatives?

An explosion in the SC or the third stage throwing progress free and inducing the tumble and sufficiently damaging onboard systems to a degree that the computers went into a safe state, pressurization either never occurred or the propellant system was damaged to such a degree it could not occur, no RCS/ACS results in endless uncontrolled tumbling and eventual compound system failure of remaining non-faulted systems.

Whatever induced that tumble was likely either A: Sudden and violent or B: The rotation built up overtime due to a less violent failure, but as a result of the failure nothing could be done to dampen it so it just worsened and worsened.

Will be interesting to see which way things lean toward in the post accident investigation.
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Offline FinalFrontier

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What about the possibility that perhaps Progress didn't separate from the third stage at all initially, and the third stage then did it's standard post-launch prop purge/spin maneuver with the Progress still attached, following which Progress separated due to G forces and subsequently exhausted all it's propellant trying to null out the spin rate.

In other words, the whole issue is a stage sep failure. Plausible?

or let's try this wild idea..... the solar panels spread out making contact with the 3rd stage creating a spin.

Not nearly enough energy. Panels would be destroyed before inducing this much of a spin.

My final thoughts are this:
This was either:
A. An explosion of some kind just prior to or during stage separation. Telemetry loss would tend to suggest just prior to. This could also have been induced by a failed separation and crash between stage 3 and the SC.
B. Stuck thruster as a result of staging failure, or post staging which resulted in spin build up and ultimately pieces flying off the vehicle and systems failing due to axial loads.

Neither of these bodes well for progress but I don't really see any other options (and based on numbers other posters ran) that have the energy necessary for this.

I suppose the hope is that whatever caused it can be easily fixed, and this doesn't become an unknown gremlin that takes months to chase down, or is never fully resolved (like the AJ26 failures on the test stand prior to the explosion).
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Offline Danderman

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A stuck thruster cannot be a root cause for Progress failure, or even a symptom of a collision, unless the control system is likewise damaged. Progress is double fault tolerant against a stuck thruster - command the thruster to stop firing, if that fails, blow a pyro valve for the thruster, if that fails, shut down the manifold.

The rumor that the third stage lost telemetry just before separation, if true, tells us that there was probably an off-nominal separation, either the third stage kept firing after separation, if only for a second, or the explosive bolts all failed to operate, or the stage itself had a bad day and somehow damaged the Progress.


« Last Edit: 04/30/2015 06:44 AM by Danderman »

Offline woods170

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A stuck thruster cannot be a root cause for Progress failure, or even a symptom of a collision, unless the control system is likewise damaged. Progress is double fault tolerant against a stuck thruster - command the thruster to stop firing, if that fails, blow a pyro valve for the thruster, if that fails, shut down the manifold.

The rumor that the third stage lost telemetry just before separation, if true, tells us that there was probably an off-nominal separation, either the third stage kept firing after separation, if only for a second, or the explosive bolts all failed to operate, or the stage itself had a bad day and somehow damaged the Progress.



What Danderman said.

Also, remember Gemini 8? A stuck thruster on Progress would actually result in a much higher rotation rate than now observed, but only when not counteracted by the control system, which, as Danderman just pointed out, is extremely unlikely on a normally functioning spacecraft.
IMO the observed rate of rotation (not nearly fast enough to cause physical disintegration of Progress due to centrifugal forces), and the other known bits of information (limited telemetry downlink, no two-way comms, no respond to ground-commanding, rate-sensor errors in telemetry, loss of telemetry BEFORE third stage separation, etc.) all point to multiple system-failures.
You don't generally have those on a well-developed and multiple-fault-tolerant spacecraft such as Progress unless something very drastic went wrong.
The key indicator is not so much the observed rotation on Progress, but the simultaneous loss of telemetry on both the Soyuz third stage AND Progress before vehicle separation was to take place.
Another key indicator is reports that the third stage propulsion system was over-performing.
A third key indicator is the observation of a good number of radar-trackable debris near the third stage and Progress.
This all points to an energetic event and not a stuck thruster.

Offline Jester

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Per L2, Crew was instructed to try to take photos of 59P as it passes underneath ISS

Offline rds100

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Obviously the distance from the ISS to the Progress would be smaller than the distance from Progress to the ground, but wouldn't it be better to try to take pictures from the ground? I mean with telescopes, etc. Surely there is better imaging equipment available on the ground.



Offline satwatcher

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Obviously the distance from the ISS to the Progress would be smaller than the distance from Progress to the ground, but wouldn't it be better to try to take pictures from the ground? I mean with telescopes, etc. Surely there is better imaging equipment available on the ground.
In order to image the Progress from the ground it needs to be in sunlight, while for the observer the sun is below the horizon. Because of the very low orbit of the Progress that window of visibility is very small and currently limited to latitudes between 0 and 15 degrees North at sunset, and 15 to 30 degrees South at sunrise. Observing it from ISS is much easier.

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