Author Topic: FAILURE : Astra R3.3 - LV0010 - TROPICS Flight 1 - CCSFS SLC-46 - 12 June 2022  (Read 38064 times)

Offline Conexion Espacial

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This topic is for updates and discussion of this mission.

Astra Rocket 3.3 - LV0010 - TROPICS Flight 1
Launch Date and time: June 12, 2022, 17:43 UTC (1:43 pm EDT)
Payloads: Two TROPICS satellites

Quote
A constellation of identical 3U CubeSats provide sounding (left CubeSat has a temperature profile of a simulated Tropical Cyclone (TC) from a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model) and 12-channel radiometric imagery (center CubeSat has simulated radiances from NWP model and radiative transfer model and the near right CubeSat has a single-channel radiance image of a TC) with a median revisit rate approaching 60 minutes to meet state-of-the-art performance.

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission will provide rapid-refresh microwave measurements over the tropics that can be used to observe the thermodynamics of the troposphere and precipitation structure for storm systems at the mesoscale and synoptic scale over the entire storm lifecycle. TROPICS comprises a constellation of CubeSats in three low-Earth orbital planes. Each CubeSat will host a high-performance radiometer scanning across the satellite track at 30 RPM to provide temperature profiles using seven channels near the 118.75 GHz oxygen absorption line, water vapor profiles using 3 channels near the 183 GHz water vapor absorption line, imagery in a single channel near 90 GHz for precipitation measurements, and a single channel at 205 GHz for cloud ice measurements.
More Information: https://tropics.ll.mit.edu/CMS/tropics/Mission-Overview
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:00 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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LV0010 has arrived at SLC-46 and is being prepared for launch tentatively scheduled for June.https://twitter.com/Astra/status/1531354329554137088
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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NASA says first launch in July
Quote

Date: By July 2022
Mission: TROPICS First Launch
https://www.nasa.gov/launchschedule/
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Offline josephus

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NASA says first launch in July
Quote

Date: By July 2022
Mission: TROPICS First Launch
https://www.nasa.gov/launchschedule/

It says "by July", not "in July". Why would Astra wait to launch more than a month after conducting its static fire test?
Let me see what nuclear spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/astra/status/1533924019317051392

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Successful static fire for @NASA TROPICS-1! #AdAstra

Offline Conexion Espacial

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It appears that Astra is targeting the 12th of this month for the launch.https://twitter.com/w_robinsonsmith/status/1533936491944099845
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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It appears that Astra is targeting the 12th of this month for the launch.
Per the tweet, I checked the post's website and found no LHAs posted.
https://www.patrick.spaceforce.mil

June 12th seems a plausible launch date?
« Last Edit: 06/07/2022 11:17 am by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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NextSpaceFlight TROPICS Flight 1 launch NET June 12, 2022
« Last Edit: 06/07/2022 08:34 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline harrystranger

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Forgot to share this one earlier  ::)
Rocket 3 on the pad after static fire  :)
https://twitter.com/Harry__Stranger/status/1534154498088013826?s

Offline Ken the Bin

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NGA notice.

Quote from: NGA
010004Z JUN 22
NAVAREA IV 543/22(GEN).
WESTERN NORTH ATLANTIC.
FLORIDA.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS, ROCKET LAUNCHING
   121600Z TO 121845Z JUN, ALTERNATE
   1600Z TO 1845Z DAILY 13 JUN THRU 18 JUN
   IN AREAS BOUND BY:
   A. 28-29.44N 080-32.53W, 28-37.00N 080-07.00W,
      28-50.00N 078-52.00W, 29-30.00N 075-17.00W,
      29-52.00N 071-26.00W, 30-11.00N 066-13.00W,
      30-18.00N 056-04.00W, 29-10.00N 047-01.00W,
      28-52.00N 047-01.00W, 28-51.00N 047-02.00W,
      29-53.00N 056-05.00W, 29-29.00N 071-05.00W,
      29-00.00N 075-35.00W, 28-23.00N 080-23.00W,
      28-25.82N 080-34.27W.
   B. 30-26.00N 067-06.00W, 31-14.00N 063-34.00W,
      31-34.00N 056-44.00W, 30-56.00N 050-59.00W,
      29-57.00N 046-22.00W, 28-51.00N 046-29.00W,
      28-31.00N 050-15.00W, 28-32.00N 055-55.00W,
      28-59.00N 061-51.00W, 29-28.00N 067-00.00W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 181945Z JUN 22.//

Offline Conexion Espacial

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Offline josephus

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Chris Kemp said on Bloomberg right now that they expect to get a license this Friday 06/10. If they will get it, they will launch on Sunday 06/12.
Let me see what nuclear spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

Offline Conexion Espacial

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NextSpaceFlight indicates that the launch window is from 16:00 UTC to 18:45 UTC, pointing to the beginning of the launch window.
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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Astra has already published information about the mission, including some images like these.https://astra.com/missions/tropics-1/
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Online Galactic Penguin SST

NextSpaceFlight indicates that the launch window is from 16:00 UTC to 18:45 UTC, pointing to the beginning of the launch window.

Based on:
NGA notice.

Quote from: NGA
010004Z JUN 22
NAVAREA IV 543/22(GEN).
WESTERN NORTH ATLANTIC.
FLORIDA.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS, ROCKET LAUNCHING
   121600Z TO 121845Z JUN, ALTERNATE
   1600Z TO 1845Z DAILY 13 JUN THRU 18 JUN
   IN AREAS BOUND BY:
   A. 28-29.44N 080-32.53W, 28-37.00N 080-07.00W,
      28-50.00N 078-52.00W, 29-30.00N 075-17.00W,
      29-52.00N 071-26.00W, 30-11.00N 066-13.00W,
      30-18.00N 056-04.00W, 29-10.00N 047-01.00W,
      28-52.00N 047-01.00W, 28-51.00N 047-02.00W,
      29-53.00N 056-05.00W, 29-29.00N 071-05.00W,
      29-00.00N 075-35.00W, 28-23.00N 080-23.00W,
      28-25.82N 080-34.27W.
   B. 30-26.00N 067-06.00W, 31-14.00N 063-34.00W,
      31-34.00N 056-44.00W, 30-56.00N 050-59.00W,
      29-57.00N 046-22.00W, 28-51.00N 046-29.00W,
      28-31.00N 050-15.00W, 28-32.00N 055-55.00W,
      28-59.00N 061-51.00W, 29-28.00N 067-00.00W.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 181945Z JUN 22.//
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Offline Rondaz

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Astra Sets Launch Date for TROPICS

Linda Herridge Posted on June 8, 2022

Astra Space Inc. is targeting no earlier than June 12, pending issuance of a launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration, for the first launch of NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS), a constellation of six CubeSats. Two CubeSats, each about the size of a loaf of bread, will launch aboard Astra’s Rocket 3.3 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

TROPICS will study tropical cyclones like hurricanes, some of the most powerful and destructive weather events on Earth, by measuring storm characteristics with a sensor about the size of a coffee cup. The miniaturized microwave radiometer detects the thermal radiation naturally emitted by the oxygen and water vapor in the air. TROPICS has the potential to provide near-hourly observations of a storm’s precipitation, temperature, and humidity. This data can help scientists increase understanding of the processes driving rapid changes in storm structure and intensity, which will improve weather forecasting models.

Astra will launch the other four TROPICS CubeSats in two separate launches later this summer.

The TROPICS team is led by Principal Investigator Dr. William Blackwell at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington and includes researchers from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and several universities and commercial partners. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will manage the launch service.

https://blogs.nasa.gov/kennedy/2022/06/08/astra-sets-launch-date-for-tropics/

Offline josephus

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From the current operations plan advisory:
Quote
ATCSCC ADVZY 033 DCC 06/10/2022 OPERATIONS PLAN

SPACE LAUNCH/RECOVERY OPERATIONS:
ASTRA TROPICS-1 CSS, FL
PRIMARY: 06/12/22   1600Z-1836Z
BACKUP: 06/13-18/22   1600Z-1836Z

https://www.fly.faa.gov/adv/adv_spt.jsp
Let me see what nuclear spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

Offline Ken the Bin

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L-2 weather forecast.  50% -> 20% 'Go' for June 12.  70% -> 50% 'Go' for June 13.  All Additional Risk Criteria are Low.

Note: There was no L-3 weather forecast posted publicly yesterday.

Offline josephus

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« Last Edit: 06/10/2022 06:18 pm by josephus »
Let me see what nuclear spring is like on Jupiter and Mars

Offline Conexion Espacial

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A short video with shots of Rocket 3.3 and information from TROPICS before the FAA licensing this afternoon.
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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Offline Conexion Espacial

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Offline Conexion Espacial

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NASASpaceFlight Livestream
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Offline Conexion Espacial

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The launch window will be two hours starting at 16:00 UTC (12:00 EDT).
https://astra.com/missions/tropics-1/
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Offline Ken the Bin

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L-1 weather forecast.  50% -> 20% 'Go' for June 12.  70% -> 50% 'Go' for June 13.  All Additional Risk Criteria are Low.

Offline Conexion Espacial

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New astra images of the static fire
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Offline kdhilliard

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A short video with shots of Rocket 3.3 and information from TROPICS before the FAA licensing this afternoon.

What's so secret about the Pac-Man silhouette that it needed to be blurred?
Image from 0:40 in that video.

Offline Bean Kenobi

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A short video with shots of Rocket 3.3 and information from TROPICS before the FAA licensing this afternoon.

What's so secret about the Pac-Man silhouette that it needed to be blurred?
Image from 0:40 in that video.

It's a hole in the rocket, look at the photo just above.

Offline kdhilliard

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...
It's a hole in the rocket, look at the photo just above.

Right.  An access hole in the upper fairing, shown with cover in place in this high-res Brady Kenniston photo from Astra's mission page.

But why blurred?  That high, I'd have thought all it would show would be the payload.
(Also interesting in Kenniston's photo is the "Remove Before Flight" tag emerging from the cover of a lower fairing access cover.)

Offline Jim

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But why blurred?  That high, I'd have thought all it would show would be the payload.
(Also interesting in Kenniston's photo is the "Remove Before Flight" tag emerging from the cover of a lower fairing access cover.)

it would show parts of the upper stage

Offline Celeste_El

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...
It's a hole in the rocket, look at the photo just above.

Right.  An access hole in the upper fairing, shown with cover in place in this high-res Brady Kenniston photo from Astra's mission page.

But why blurred?  That high, I'd have thought all it would show would be the payload.
(Also interesting in Kenniston's photo is the "Remove Before Flight" tag emerging from the cover of a lower fairing access cover.)

Yeah, it would be almost right in the middle of the second stage. I don't think people have grasp of just how far the second stage sticks into the fairing. There's not a ton of usable space for payloads however, given the low payload to orbit, I don't think its a big deal.

Photo is from an old factory tour video. The video is public, IE I'm not leaking anything  :P

Offline Celeste_El

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Also, I feel like there should be an overarching thread for all 3 of the tropics launches instead of individual ones for each launch given they're all for the same mission and should, hopefully, have a short turn around between the three of them.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2022 09:08 pm by Celeste_El »

Offline Rondaz

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Orbital Launch no.64 of 2022

TROPICS-1 | Astra | June 12 | 1200 ET

@Astra (NASDAQ: $ASTR) will launch the @NASA #TROPICS1 mission carrying two earth observation 3U cubesats from @MIT onboard its Rocket 3🚀#LV0010 from SLC-46 @SLDelta45, FL.

https://twitter.com/SpaceIntellige3/status/1535199872902737920
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 12:08 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Ken the Bin

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L-0 weather forecast.  40% -> 10% 'Go' for June 12.  70% -> 50% 'Go' for June 13.  All Additional Risk Criteria are Low.

Offline kdhilliard

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Astra/NASASpaceFlight webcast is now live:
https://youtube.com/watch?v=HztFm2XGO7s

Edit: Looks like they are targeting the 12:00 opening of their window.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 03:39 pm by kdhilliard »

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Holding at T-15 min due to boats in the safety area.

 - Ed Kyle

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https://twitter.com/nasaspaceflight/status/1536014522930155520

Quote
Holding at T-15 due to @WaywardBoat in the Range!

youtube.com/watch?v=HztFm2…
#AstraPartner

Offline edkyle99

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Now counting down toward a 16:12 UTC launch.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:49 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline edkyle99

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Ascent Timeline.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:49 pm by zubenelgenubi »

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.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:50 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline edkyle99

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HOLD at about T-1:30.

« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:51 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline edkyle99

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Cruise ship coming in to Port, but this isn't the cause of the current HOLD.  More time was needed for "LOX Conditioning".  Count to restart soon.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:51 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline edkyle99

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Sounds like the weather may go bad around 16:50 UTC, so crews in a race to beat the weather.  The actual launch window extends to 18:00 UTC.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:52 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Back to GO with T-0 at 17:43 UTC.

[zubenelgenubi: added screen captures]
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:23 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline russianhalo117

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Liftoff occurred with nominal MECO and SES. Standing by for SECO and payload deployment.

[zubenelgenubi: added screen captures]
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:27 pm by zubenelgenubi »

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Premature shutdown.

[zubenelgenubi: added screen captures]
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:34 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline russianhalo117

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Early SECO just over a minute before scheduled SECO at a maximum broadcast velocity of 6575m/s. Orbital velocity was not achieved.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 05:55 pm by russianhalo117 »

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Premature shutdown.
With subsequent tumble at T+7:25.

[zubenelgenubi: added screen captures]
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:47 pm by zubenelgenubi »
"For Sardines, space is no problem!"
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"We're rolling in the wrong direction but for the right reasons"
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Around 1000 m/s short of orbital velocity.

Offline DaveS

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Tracking map, yellow vertical line is 1st stage MECO point with the green vertical line being the planned SECO and orbital insertion point:
"For Sardines, space is no problem!"
-1996 Astronaut class slogan

"We're rolling in the wrong direction but for the right reasons"
-USA engineer about the rollback of Discovery prior to the STS-114 Return To Flight mission

Offline ZachS09

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That's five failures and two successes over the course of Rocket 3's flight history.
Liftoff for St. Jude's! Go Dragon, Go Falcon, Godspeed Inspiration4!

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https://twitter.com/kemp/status/1536050802736803847

Quote
We regret not being able to deliver the first two TROPICS satellites. Nothing is more important to our team than the trust of our customers and the successful delivery of the remaining TROPICS satellites. We will share more when we have fully reviewed data.

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Tracking map, yellow vertical line is 1st stage MECO point with the green vertical line being the planned SECO and orbital insertion point:

MECO was back much closer to Florida. I think the yellow line was the planned Stage 2 cutoff and the green line was planned payload deploy.

Offline kdhilliard

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Tracking map, yellow vertical line is 1st stage MECO point with the green vertical line being the planned SECO and orbital insertion point:
MECO was back much closer to Florida. I think the yellow line was the planned Stage 2 cutoff and the green line was planned payload deploy.

Agreed.  Here's the first view we have of that plot after MECO, at T+04:55, 1m40 into upper stage flight.

DaveS's plot capture first appeared at T+09:06, and didn't seem to change over the next three minutes (until 12:08, when they cut away for goodbyes), so I suspect they lost telemetry shortly after SECO.
[Telemetry continues to be displayed for a full minute after shutdown, until it is removed from the screen.]

Early shutdown aside, I assume we shouldn't make much of their trajectory being in corridor, but noticeably south of midline?

Also, steering looked a bit sporty to me, both during the few seconds of booster rocket cam video, and again later during S2 flight.  Not overly jerky, but not as smooth as I expected, as if the control loop wasn't properly dampened or as if the thrust vectoring couldn't be controlled finely enough.  Is this typical of earlier Rocket 3 flights?

Edited to note that the displayed telemetry continued for a full minute after shutdown.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 09:50 pm by kdhilliard »

Offline Robert_the_Doll

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Very unfortunate indeed. Even if the stage had not tumbled, and the payloads able to separate, there was no way for them to make up that 1000 m/sec deficit.

Offline DaveS

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Tracking map, yellow vertical line is 1st stage MECO point with the green vertical line being the planned SECO and orbital insertion point:

MECO was back much closer to Florida. I think the yellow line was the planned Stage 2 cutoff and the green line was planned payload deploy.
That doesn't make any sense unless the vehicle was seriously underperforming and flew long as the tracking line was well beyond the yellow line before the early SECO.

Underperfomance would however explain it nicely as the second stage ran out of propellant and the engine shutdown and an underperformance would show up in tracking data as the vehicle would fly long.

Saw the same thing on the first Delta IV Heavy launch where the strap-on CBCs and the Center CBC were shut down and jettisoned early leading to the upper stage to burn longer than expected to compensate for the velocity shortfall at upper stage ignition for the first burn.
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Thanks NSF and Astra for today’s webcast!

Thanks to Ed and everyone else who assisted with today’s launch thread coverage!
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Offline Jeff Lerner

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Also, that last screenshot shows an altitude of 359km…wasn’t the planned altitude 350km ?
Perhaps the first stage guidance was lofting the rocket and the 2nd stage ran out of fuel trying to obtain orbital velocity?
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 06:57 pm by Jeff Lerner »

Offline kdhilliard

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A few more screen captures:
T+07:14 -- Flight Director Chris Hofmann abruptly removes his mask, presumably in frustration at the premature shutdown.
T+07:21 -- Shutdown visible on our feed.
T+07:22 -- Tumbling.

Link to T+07:10.

Our view of the Velocity/Altitude telemetry seems to be synchronized to that of the downlinked video, as velocity peaked at the same time we saw shutdown: 6575 m/s at 531 km.

Offline Celeste_El

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Also, that last screenshot shows an altitude of 359km…wasn’t the planned altitude 350km ?
Perhaps the first stage guidance was lofting the rocket and the 2nd stage ran out of fuel trying to obtain orbital velocity?


Planned was 550 Km. They probably over shoot and null out vertical velocity as they approach target apogee. I think Manley's take on the matter is the very plausible. Rocket noses down to kill vertical velocity. This causes enough slosh to cause the engine to shut off. Possibly the nose down was too violent, would be inline with the poorly tuned control seen with the wiggling on ascent. Then, without engine power, the nose down becomes a tumble.

Either way, Astra is good at trouble shooting and getting back to the pad. Last failure was met with a successful launch within a month.

https://twitter.com/DJSnM/status/1536048958429990914
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 07:11 pm by Celeste_El »

Offline DaveS

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Will interesting to know if any Low Level Cut-Off (LLCO) sensors were tripped. They're there for this very reason, to shut down the engine(s) before a complete loss of propellant occurs.

LLCO sensors on the shuttle was known by the faulty term of "Engine Cut-Off" (ECO) sensors and malfunctioning sensors caused by a badly designed external feedthrough connector on the External Tank side of things were the causes of launch scrubs of STS-114 (July 13 2005), STS-115 (September 8 2006) and STS-122 (December 7 and December 9 2007).
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 07:20 pm by DaveS »
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Offline kdhilliard

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Tracking map, yellow vertical line is 1st stage MECO point with the green vertical line being the planned SECO and orbital insertion point:
MECO was back much closer to Florida. I think the yellow line was the planned Stage 2 cutoff and the green line was planned payload deploy.
That doesn't make any sense unless the vehicle was seriously underperforming and flew long as the tracking line was well beyond the yellow line before the early SECO.
...

No.  That tracking line wasn't shown past the yellow line until, T+09:06, nearly two minutes after the early shutdown.

(Complicating things, that tracking line didn't appear to be updated regularly, as seen by its significant jump at T+05:47.  Link to T+05:45.)

Also, the timing of the shutdown, 75 seconds or so before the planned SECO of T+08:30, doesn't suggest a longer flying underperformance.

Offline kdhilliard

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...
So what does this mean?  Reentry somewhere?

My guess?  Reentry before the coast of Africa.  (A 1 km/s deficit is a lot.)
Anyone care to do the math?
6575 m/s at 531 km for T+07:21, with that speed including Manley's estimated 700 m/s of loft.

We get to see another minute of telemetry (contradicting what I said earlier), with final values of 6518 m/s at 570 km for T+08:20, so a more precise calculation of angle could be made.

Just remember that with a significant portion (~ 85%) of orbital velocity achieved, it is no longer a "flat Earth" calculation.

Offline edkyle99

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That's five failures and two successes over the course of Rocket 3's flight history.
Two failures during first stage flight, two during second stage flight, and one due to fairing separation failure.  A little bit of everything.  Frustrating to have failures after successes, but note that the two most recent failures were both out of the Cape while the last two successes, including a success between the two failures, were both out of Kodiak.

Something like -1950 x 570 km, so very suborbital.  Probably Atlantic reentry.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 06/12/2022 10:50 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline niwax

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...
So what does this mean?  Reentry somewhere?

My guess?  Reentry before the coast of Africa.  (A 1 km/s deficit is a lot.)
Anyone care to do the math?
6575 m/s at 531 km for T+07:21, with that speed including Manley's estimated 700 m/s of loft.

We get to see another minute of telemetry (contradicting what I said earlier), with final values of 6518 m/s at 570 km for T+08:20, so a more precise calculation of angle could be made.

Just remember that with a significant portion (~ 85%) of orbital velocity achieved, it is no longer a "flat Earth" calculation.

https://twitter.com/planet4589/status/1536069497395810307
Quote
Slight revision: I estimate reentry about 400 km west of Dakar. I am now a bit more confident that the debris wouldn't have got quite as far as the African coast.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline Michel Van

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So what went wrong ?
some speculation

it look almost redo of flight Rocket 3.2 were was issue with propellant mixture ratio
also issue with Second stage software flaw in the thrust vector system on flight LV0008

but this here look different
the engine stop combustion then spit gas out  first orange then white

Possible reasons:
a Combustion instability either slouch propellant or issue feed in propellants
or issue with valve in Helium pressurisation system or valve in propellants feedline to Engine.

some people in Twitter poiting out that stage was not flying stable and was wobbling.
if that was reason, i don't know the Video and Data feed was "Sluggish"
i hope Astra bring soon new data on this

Astra has for moment success rate of 22% !
and lost in total 6 satellite of paying customer,
they have to fix that issue fast or is Game Over !

Offline Star One

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Scott Manley’s take:


Offline OneSpeed

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Here is a plot of the webcast telemetry from Astra LV0010.

Astra do not appear to use a throttle down for MaxQ, but there is an unusual artifact at around T+104s, where the acceleration appears to increase dramatically for about 6 seconds. From the telemetry, first motion is not until T+11s, so perhaps they are allowing the telemetry to catch up by a few seconds for separation?

The quality of the Astra telemetry is improving all the time, to the point that I can make a rough estimate of the Velocity Y component. From the plot, at SECO, it was around 750m/s.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1536793959434813440

Quote
Zurbuchen, on Astra/TROPICS launch failure: after it happened, wondered if we should have done something different; concluded absolutely not. Mission costs $30M, three launches $9M, to get a new capability into the field. #AAS240

Offline king1999

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Zurbuchen, on Astra/TROPICS launch failure: after it happened, wondered if we should have done something different; concluded absolutely not. Mission costs $30M, three launches $9M, to get a new capability into the field. #AAS240
I understand they had to say that in public. But that's not a good attitude to have in engineering. You can ALWAYS have done something better, be it more analysis, more testing or better modeling etc. If it was a problem you didn't anticipate, you would need to have a better fault tree.

Offline Redclaws

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Zurbuchen, on Astra/TROPICS launch failure: after it happened, wondered if we should have done something different; concluded absolutely not. Mission costs $30M, three launches $9M, to get a new capability into the field. #AAS240
I understand they had to say that in public. But that's not a good attitude to have in engineering. You can ALWAYS have done something better, be it more analysis, more testing or better modeling etc. If it was a problem you didn't anticipate, you would need to have a better fault tree.

Zurbuchen is the NASA administrator in charge of the acquisition, so not part of the engineering team.  He’s saying he’s happy to have bought launches in this risky way.

Online TrevorMonty


Zurbuchen, on Astra/TROPICS launch failure: after it happened, wondered if we should have done something different; concluded absolutely not. Mission costs $30M, three launches $9M, to get a new capability into the field. #AAS240
I understand they had to say that in public. But that's not a good attitude to have in engineering. You can ALWAYS have done something better, be it more analysis, more testing or better modeling etc. If it was a problem you didn't anticipate, you would need to have a better fault tree.

Zurbuchen is the NASA administrator in charge of the acquisition, so not part of the engineering team.  He’s saying he’s happy to have bought launches in this risky way.

TROPICS was good choice for risky launch. Being small constellation easy enough to build couple replacements.

Best save more expensive one off satellites for more reliable LV.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2022 12:18 am by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Astra do not appear to use a throttle down for MaxQ, but there is an unusual artifact at around T+104s, where the acceleration appears to increase dramatically for about 6 seconds. From the telemetry, first motion is not until T+11s, so perhaps they are allowing the telemetry to catch up by a few seconds for separation?

Maybe its a change from relative velocity to inertial velocity.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline OneSpeed

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Maybe its a change from relative velocity to inertial velocity.

Perhaps, but why is the elapsed time from first motion to MECO about 6 seconds longer on the video feed than for the telemetry?

Video Elapsed      02.56
Telemetry Elapsed   02.50

Offline Jim

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Zurbuchen, on Astra/TROPICS launch failure: after it happened, wondered if we should have done something different; concluded absolutely not. Mission costs $30M, three launches $9M, to get a new capability into the field. #AAS240
I understand they had to say that in public. But that's not a good attitude to have in engineering. You can ALWAYS have done something better, be it more analysis, more testing or better modeling etc. If it was a problem you didn't anticipate, you would need to have a better fault tree.

NASA is only buying a service.  It doesn't manage the launch vehicle.   He is only referring to the risk of using Astra

Offline edzieba

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Maybe its a change from relative velocity to inertial velocity.

Perhaps, but why is the elapsed time from first motion to MECO about 6 seconds longer on the video feed than for the telemetry?

Video Elapsed      02.56
Telemetry Elapsed   02.50
Video delay may be variable over time, or even at the same time between shots. Add to that the latencies of receiving the telemetry, generating the pretty-printed video overlay, overlaying that onto the muxed final video mix, and adding any additional intentional time delay to the final mix, and there's no guarantee a video feed will resemble real-time.
This is not unusual: we see on SpaceX's broadcasts that sequence callouts occur 'before' video of those activities (e.g. fairing sep) due to video delay, or landing shots from the droneship showing the vehicle has landed on one angle and still descending in the angle shown next to it.
For the public feed getting something out is prioritised over timing precision. Accurately timed and synchronised video footage can be reconstructed from embedded timecodes offline at a later date if needed.

Offline OneSpeed

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Maybe its a change from relative velocity to inertial velocity.

Perhaps, but why is the elapsed time from first motion to MECO about 6 seconds longer on the video feed than for the telemetry?

Video Elapsed      02.56
Telemetry Elapsed   02.50
Video delay may be variable over time, or even at the same time between shots. Add to that the latencies of receiving the telemetry, generating the pretty-printed video overlay, overlaying that onto the muxed final video mix, and adding any additional intentional time delay to the final mix, and there's no guarantee a video feed will resemble real-time.
This is not unusual: we see on SpaceX's broadcasts that sequence callouts occur 'before' video of those activities (e.g. fairing sep) due to video delay, or landing shots from the droneship showing the vehicle has landed on one angle and still descending in the angle shown next to it.
For the public feed getting something out is prioritised over timing precision. Accurately timed and synchronised video footage can be reconstructed from embedded timecodes offline at a later date if needed.

Telemetry is often offset from the video, but for each camera, the offset is constant. The telemetry stream might pause due to a loss of signal, but if it resumes, it always catches back up to the same offset.

That's not what we are seeing here. There is a six second period where the rate of the relay of information has roughly doubled. After that period, the offset has been shifted by about six seconds, and remains that way.

If you've seen something similar in another webcast, please point me to it.

Offline edzieba

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but for each camera, the offset is constant
The offset is constant across all cameras (post-MUX), not for each camera, as there is a delay offset between cameras.
e.g.:
- Telemetry shows launch at t-0
- Pad cam shows launch at t+5 (5s delay for hardline pad feed)
- Pad cam switches to on-board cam, on board cam has a 10s delay due to relay via local compression, direct to ground telemetry, then decompression
- Telemetry shows shutdown at t+100
- On-board cam shows shutdown at t+110 (10s delay)
- Difference between launch and shutdown times based on video feed is 110s - 5s = 105s
There is now a 5s phantom mismatch between telemetry time and video feed time, due to the change in video delay between feeds. No mismatch exists in reality, it's an artefact of variable video latency. Adding to the headache is the same physical camera may be sending video through multiple routes (e.g. a direct to ground link local to the launch complex, a direct to ground link well downrange that uses its own satellite backhaul link to get back to the LCC, or relay via TDRS) at different points in the launch sequence.

We can make a reasonable estimate of velocities and timings form the on-screen telemetry repeater because it is a reasonable assumption that telemetry is processed in real-time to align timestamps and compensate for varying link latencies. That same assumption does not hold for the video feeds.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://astra.com/news/lv0010-launch-investigation-update/

Quote
LV0010 LAUNCH INVESTIGATION UPDATE
SEPTEMBER 28, 2022

The team has made significant progress in the investigation into the LV0010 early shutdown of the upper stage. Our investigation process consists of four core steps:

Flight Data Review
Timeline Reconstruction
Fault Tree Analyses
Implementing Corrective and Preventative Actions

We have completed steps #1 and #2, and are nearing completion of step #3. We’ve determined that the upper stage shut down early due to a higher-than-normal fuel consumption rate. Through the review of flight data, reconstruction of flight timelines, and the construction of an extensive fault tree, we have narrowed the root cause to an issue with the upper stage engine. We have also completed many rounds of ground testing, including multiple tests that yielded results consistent with the failure condition in flight.

The team is conducting additional experiments to verify the root cause before wrapping up the investigation with the FAA. We are focused on conducting an exhaustive investigation and ensuring that we extract all lessons learned.

Once the investigation is finished, we look forward to sharing our lessons learned in a future blog post.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/astra/status/1631052117262888961

Quote
Astra has concluded the TROPICS-1 mishap investigation and received our formal closure letter from the @FAANews. Read more about the conclusion here:

https://astra.com/news/conclusion-tropics-1-mishap-investigation/

Quote
CONCLUSION OF TROPICS-1 MISHAP INVESTIGATION
MARCH 1, 2023

By Andrew Griggs, Head of Mission Assurance, and Adam London, Founder and Chief Technical Officer

After over six months of rigorous testing and analysis, Astra has received a formal closure letter from the FAA concluding the TROPICS-1 mishap investigation. At this time, we’d like to share our conclusions from the investigation and lessons learned.

The TROPICS-1 mission launched on June 12, 2022 on Astra’s Rocket 3.3, serial number LV0010. The rocket completed a nominal first stage flight, stage separation, and upper stage ignition. Shortly after the ignition of the upper stage engine, the upper stage’s fuel consumption rate increased and remained anomalously high for the remainder of the flight. About 250 seconds after upper stage ignition, the stage exhausted its fuel supply with approximately 20% of the liquid oxygen still remaining onboard. As a result, the upper stage was only able to obtain about 80% of the required orbital velocity. The stage was unable to deliver its payloads to orbit, and subsequently re-entered the atmosphere, ending the mission.

Our analysis showed that the anomalous fuel consumption during the upper stage flight was due to a combustion chamber wall burn-through that occurred 18 seconds into upper stage flight. Flight data showed that the burn-through was precipitated by a substantial blockage of the fuel injector. The mechanics of combustion and regenerative cooling are complex and this failure did not have an immediately apparent root cause, so extensive testing and analysis was required to recreate the failure mode and to understand both how the injector blockage was created and how it led to a burn-through.

About regenerative cooling

Let’s begin with a quick primer on regenerative cooling. Most liquid rocket engines require cooling to prevent the very hot combustion gases from melting the chamber wall and causing the engine to fail. Rocket 3.3’s upper stage engine used regenerative cooling to accomplish this. In a regeneratively-cooled rocket engine, cooling is achieved by routing the fuel through many cooling channels embedded within the combustion chamber wall. This allows heat from the wall to be absorbed into the flowing fuel, keeping the wall at a low enough temperature to prevent failure.

On TROPICS-1, a failure of the regenerative cooling system led to a chamber burn-through.

What caused the burn-through?

Astra concluded that the primary factor leading to the combustion chamber burn-through was a partial blockage of the injector. When the fuel injector is partially blocked, the rate of fuel passing through the cooling channels decreases. This reduces the amount of heat the fuel can absorb and makes the combustion chamber wall hotter. If the wall gets hot enough, the temperature of the wall can exceed the local boiling point of the fuel, causing some of the fuel to boil along the wall inside the channels. Sometimes this condition can “self-heal”, because a small amount of boiling can actually enhance the cooling ability of the fuel, bringing the wall temperature back down. However, if too much of the fuel boils, its cooling capability is significantly and adversely impacted, and the wall temperature can go up and up until the wall fails and “burns through,” dumping a portion of the fuel flow directly into the combustion chamber – essentially wasting it. This is what we determined had occurred during the TROPICS-1 launch.

In addition to the partial blockage of the injector, Astra determined that a secondary factor for the burn-through was thermal barrier coating erosion. Portions of the upper stage engine’s combustion chamber have a thermal barrier coating on the inside to insulate the chamber wall and reduce the heat that the fuel is required to absorb as a coolant. If some thermal barrier coating is missing, even a very small amount, that portion of the wall can get much hotter and increase the likelihood of a local burn-through. During the investigation, Astra found that there was a small amount of missing thermal barrier coating on the LV0010 upper stage engine. This missing coating was in a location that was considered acceptable by engineers at the time, but further analysis showed that we had underestimated the need for coating in this region under flight conditions (more on the ground vs. flight differences in the next section).

What caused the injector blockage?
While it was relatively straightforward to determine that a blockage of the injector had occurred during upper stage flight, it took much longer to conclusively determine what had caused the blockage. We used a combination of analysis and testing to systematically investigate each potential blockage source. Three credible sources for the blockage were the focus of this investigation:

Foreign object debris (“FOD”), such as particles of metal
Gaseous helium
Gaseous fuel

After a review of flight results and testing to recreate the failure, we were able to conclude that the injector blockage was caused by a gas. This ruled out solid foreign object debris such as metal particles.

Next we examined helium, which is used for the upper stage’s pneumatic and pressurization systems, and theoretically could have leaked into the fuel lines. We performed a barrage of tests on our pneumatic systems, attempting to cause helium to leak under flight-like conditions of vacuum, vibration, and low temperatures. We were unable to substantiate any meaningful leaks, nor did data from the LV0010 upper stage indicate any leaks before or during flight. The only other credible source of helium in the upper stage is in the pressurization system, found at the start of upper stage flight in a small “ullage” bubble at the top of the fuel tank. Analysis showed it is highly unlikely that this helium could migrate to the bottom of the tank and be ingested into the engine at the beginning of the burn. Even if it had migrated, it’s even more unlikely that this helium could have remained in the bottom of the tank and sustained the injector blockage for the amount of time seen in flight (helium, since it’s much lighter than fuel, tends to migrate toward the top of the tank as soon as the engine lights and the stage begins accelerating).

So, we were left with gaseous fuel as the main suspect. During ground acceptance testing, the fuel in the upper stage engine gets warm but we had never observed boiling or near-boiling within the cooling channels. However, the exhaust jet of the upper stage engine on the ground is “separated” from the inside of the engine nozzle by the pressure of the atmosphere around it, and therefore transfers less heat into the fuel. In flight, the engine is surrounded by vacuum and the exhaust jet expands to become “fully attached” to the inside of the nozzle. Therefore, the fuel passing through the engine during flight is heated to a higher temperature than during ground testing.

We conducted numerous experimental engine tests with fuel pre-heated to various temperatures to simulate the effect of full attachment. This allowed us to create a more sophisticated thermal model to predict the temperature of the fuel inside the engine with better accuracy than before. This analysis showed that, in flight, the fuel at the injector would have thin margins with respect to its boiling point. The most significant contributors to this thin margin were unique to the Rocket 3 architecture: a pressure-fed upper stage engine that operates at relatively low pressures, as well as the selection of a kerosene-like fuel with a higher vapor pressure than traditional rocket-grade kerosene (e.g. RP-1) to simplify testing and operations.

Given this thin margin, small factors — like the warm sunny weather in Cape Canaveral on the day of launch, which meant the fuel was slightly warmer than in prior flights – helped to tip the fuel over into a boiling regime on the TROPICS-1 mission. Our analysis has concluded that the boiling fuel caused the partial injector blockage in flight and, together with the eroded thermal barrier coating mentioned previously, caused a thermal “run-away” event that worsened the injector blockage and eventually led to the burn-through.

Lessons learned

Almost immediately following the TROPICS-1 mishap, we made the strategic decision to focus the majority of Astra’s resources on developing Astra’s next-generation launch vehicle: Rocket 4. We focused the TROPICS-1 investigation on learning all that we could to inform the design and operation of this new, larger, and more reliable rocket. To that end, Rocket 4 incorporates key architectural choices (most notably, a different upper stage engine design and a different fuel) that completely eliminate the causes of this mishap. We have also introduced controls designed to eliminate a number of other potential failure modes (like FOD and helium ingestion) that the investigation concluded did not occur on the TROPICS-1 flight, but that Rocket 3.3 could have been susceptible to. For example, we are upgrading our helium diffuser design to prevent frothing in the propellant tanks and ingestion of helium into the engine.

In parallel with the technical cause investigation, Astra also conducted an internal investigation related to improving our processes, systems, and culture to increase the reliability of our fourth generation rocket. Astra has come a long way from the company that we were when we designed Rocket 3 back in 2018 and 2019; our team is now larger and more experienced, we have made significant investments in quality control and failure analysis, and we have learned vital lessons from both launch successes and failures. Still, we know that we have room to improve further, so we are implementing dozens of company-wide initiatives designed to ensure the reliability of Rocket 4. These improvements include an overhauled design review process, a more robust test-like-you-fly qualification process, and a refreshed set of Astra core values. I’m confident we now have the right team and systems in place to make Rocket 4 a success.

This was easily the most complex investigation that Astra has ever conducted. We were committed to rigorously and thoroughly investigating the cause of this mishap, and produced an incredible amount of analysis and test results to understand the failure and support our conclusions. Although we came to the preliminary conclusion of an injector blockage and a chamber burn-through quite quickly, we spent several additional months to ensure that we learned everything we could from this launch failure and left no stone unturned. I am thankful for the team’s hard work and we are grateful for the support and partnership of NASA and the FAA throughout this process. We are putting these lessons into action as we prepare for the first launch of Rocket 4.

Captions:

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Schematic of regeneratively cooled rocket engine combustion chamber

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Comparison of (ground) separated rocket engine flow vs (vacuum) fully-attached rocket engine flow

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Upper stage engine testing shows streaks of molten metal from a hot wall burn-through event
« Last Edit: 03/01/2023 09:06 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline ZachS09

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Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Liftoff for St. Jude's! Go Dragon, Go Falcon, Godspeed Inspiration4!

Offline Exastro

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Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Sounds more like a design error than a QC issue: they thought their thermal margin was higher than it turned out to be, because their testing (at sea-level pressure) didn't result in as much heating of the chamber wall as happens in flight conditions.  That gave them false confidence that their thermal barrier was thick enough.  In fact, all their flights were operating at the edge of failure, and it took only a small perturbation, like a barrier thinner than usual and a launch site warmer than Kodiak, to push them over that edge.

I think it's admirable that they took the time to publicly describe the flaw and the process they went through to find and confirm it.  They think they've learned the right lessons from this experience, and based on their description I think they're probably right.

Best wishes for a successful return to flight, with a bigger, better rocket.


« Last Edit: 03/02/2023 03:07 am by Exastro »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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NASA’s (recently) former head of science:

https://twitter.com/dr_thomasz/status/1631176541265711105

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Really appreciate reading this review.

When @nasa launched #TROPICS-1 with @Astra, more risk was taken, which is what is necessary to get new capabilities online. As a minimum, the outcome of such experiments has to be learning. Mission success can still be achieved w 4 sats.

Online TrevorMonty

Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Primary cause of failure was injector blockage, this reduced fuel cooling bell resulting in burn through at spot with reduced thermal barrier coating. If injector hadn't blocked then may never have burnt through. Could also blame fuel ie kerosene instead of RP1.

Offline Gliderflyer

Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Primary cause of failure was injector blockage, this reduced fuel cooling bell resulting in burn through at spot with reduced thermal barrier coating. If injector hadn't blocked then may never have burnt through. Could also blame fuel ie kerosene instead of RP1.

The reason it boiled was because they never did proper testing with fully attached flow in the nozzle. The amount of heat you pick up with regen is highly variable; you can make estimates, but the only way to actually know how got things get is to test it. They should have found this out in dev testing. Also pretty sure they use the same kerosene as XCOR, and we never had any issues with it.
I tried it at home

Offline ZachS09

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Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Primary cause of failure was injector blockage, this reduced fuel cooling bell resulting in burn through at spot with reduced thermal barrier coating. If injector hadn't blocked then may never have burnt through. Could also blame fuel ie kerosene instead of RP1.

I saw what the primary cause of failure was. It’s just that when I saw the line of Astra underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating, I misinterpreted the situation as bad quality control because I didn’t understand the difference between QC and design error.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2023 12:40 pm by ZachS09 »
Liftoff for St. Jude's! Go Dragon, Go Falcon, Godspeed Inspiration4!

Offline edzieba

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Underestimating the amount of thermal barrier coating? Sounds like an instance of bad quality control to me.
Primary cause of failure was injector blockage, this reduced fuel cooling bell resulting in burn through at spot with reduced thermal barrier coating. If injector hadn't blocked then may never have burnt through. Could also blame fuel ie kerosene instead of RP1.

The reason it boiled was because they never did proper testing with fully attached flow in the nozzle. The amount of heat you pick up with regen is highly variable; you can make estimates, but the only way to actually know how got things get is to test it. They should have found this out in dev testing. Also pretty sure they use the same kerosene as XCOR, and we never had any issues with it.
Astra also never had any problems with that fuel. Until they did.
This sounds like a swiss-cheese failure mode - lots of little things that individually were within margin or served to non-critically reduce margin (the thinned TBC, the flow attachment, the fuel used, the environmental temperature at launch) that all together resulted in failure.

Offline ParabolicSnark

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The reason it boiled was because they never did proper testing with fully attached flow in the nozzle. The amount of heat you pick up with regen is highly variable; you can make estimates, but the only way to actually know how got things get is to test it. They should have found this out in dev testing. Also pretty sure they use the same kerosene as XCOR, and we never had any issues with it.

Testing with fully attached flow in the nozzle for a vacuum-optimized engine is easier said than done. You need either a vacuum chamber large enough to operate a rocket engine in or a huge diffuser you can use to locally drop the pressure near the exhaust. Both are quite expensive to design and/or operate. NASA has such vacuum chambers, but contracting to use one for your engine program can cost you in the ballpark of $1MM per test. For these smaller launch vehicles, that typically trades unfavorably and they make the risk-call to fly without the test and collect data from test (or operational) flights.

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