Author Topic: Falcon 9-R Explosion Mid-Flight at McGregor - August 22, 2014  (Read 232421 times)

Offline robertross

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Welcome to flight testing 101. These things are going to happen. Now if this happens with Dragonfly, there would be some implications I don't want to think about.

The implications being - it's a test article - we just need to fix the problem?

I'm expecting a similar failure when testing Dragonfly. That's what the testing is there for - to find out stuff like this.
(Perhaps a wording issue)

I wouldn't expect a similar failure with Dragonfly, not if they know root cause and guard against it.

Offline meekGee

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BTW, a subtle subliminal advertizing for L2...   In this context, got my money's worth this morning alone.  :)
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline Norm38

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Well, after seeing the FTS in action, I'm much more optomistic about a Dragon being able to safely abort. Given the orderly sequence of events, Dragon would be long gone before the FTS is fired.

Offline PhilW

If the test was to confirm the control authority model, then pushing the vehicle to limits of the model where it could possibly lose control somewhere along that push resulted in termination.  Then no hardware or software was at fault so no implication as Elon tweeted for Asiasat 6.
Something caused the bright flash just below the F9Rs engine bay, a few seconds after liftoff, which then shut down the 1 or 3 1D/s.

Offline cambrianera

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Assuming the audio is in sync, the delay between the fireball and the sound of explosion (about five sec) indicates that the rocket was about 1500 m from the camera.
If the camera was closer than 1000 m from the launchpad then the rocket was over 1000 m.
Definitely faster climb than in the past.
Oh to be young again. . .

Offline mvpel

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Assuming the audio is in sync, the delay between the fireball and the sound of explosion (about five sec) indicates that the rocket was about 1500 m from the camera.

They were here, I recognize the view:

Dropped Pin
near Unnamed Rd, McGregor, TX 76657
https://maps.google.com/?q=31.380687,-97.454237&hl=en&ll=31.38122,-97.452767&spn=0.000807,0.000968&gl=us&t=h&z=20

Attached is an inadvertent shot of the fence they're next to, looking north towards the test stand.

Edit: Attached Google Maps screenshot per an astute suggestion.
« Last Edit: 08/23/2014 05:57 pm by mvpel »
"Ugly programs are like ugly suspension bridges: they're much more liable to collapse than pretty ones, because the way humans (especially engineer-humans) perceive beauty is intimately related to our ability to process and understand complexity. A language that makes it hard to write elegant code makes it hard to write good code." - Eric S. Raymond

Offline cambrianera

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Assuming the audio is in sync, the delay between the fireball and the sound of explosion (about five sec) indicates that the rocket was about 1500 m from the camera.

They were here, I recognize the view:

Dropped Pin
near Unnamed Rd, McGregor, TX 76657
https://maps.google.com/?q=31.380687,-97.454237&hl=en&ll=31.38122,-97.452767&spn=0.000807,0.000968&gl=us&t=h&z=20

Thanks, not closer than 1000 m, more towards 1200-1400 m.
My analysis is too coarse for a meaningful result.
Oh to be young again. . .

Offline mvpel

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Thanks, not closer than 1000 m, more towards 1200-1400 m. My analysis is too coarse for a meaningful result.

The pin isn't showing up at the link where I put it - they look to be closer to the intersection than that. Google Maps measures it at about 1600-1700m.
"Ugly programs are like ugly suspension bridges: they're much more liable to collapse than pretty ones, because the way humans (especially engineer-humans) perceive beauty is intimately related to our ability to process and understand complexity. A language that makes it hard to write elegant code makes it hard to write good code." - Eric S. Raymond

Offline MTom

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Looks like something happened before the pitch over that shut down a few engines.

The camera lost focus for a short time, this can be seen in the 3. picture.
(See the entire video).

Offline mvpel

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Welcome to flight testing 101. These things are going to happen.
They kicked a Hera target missile out the back of a C-130, and we waited for it to ignite... and waited... and waited... and it did a belly flop in the Pacific. Yes, that's flight-testing 101, but it's still depressing. (Coleman got their asses handed to them by a general over that.)
"Ugly programs are like ugly suspension bridges: they're much more liable to collapse than pretty ones, because the way humans (especially engineer-humans) perceive beauty is intimately related to our ability to process and understand complexity. A language that makes it hard to write elegant code makes it hard to write good code." - Eric S. Raymond

Offline Karloss12

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BBC has a next to useless article on the incident, describing the rocket as a "Falcon 9 Rocket" rather than a "Falcon 9 test Rocket":

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after lift-off on Friday at the company's site in McGregor, Texas.

The unmanned rocket was destroyed when its self-destruct system was triggered after an unexplained malfunction.

SpaceX released a statement saying, "there were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-28910812

Offline cscott

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The pin isn't showing up at the link where I put it - they look to be closer to the intersection than that. Google Maps measures it at about 1600-1700m.

Little known quirk of Google maps is that it will only drop a pin at a place it has a street address for.  It seems to save (its guess at) the street address you drop the pin at, not latitude/longitude as you might assume.

Offline su27k

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It's strange that we got not one, but two 3rd party videos of the incident, yet none exists for previous flights. Do people know in advance that this test flight is going to be tricky, or do they only bother to share the videos if there's a big explosion?

Offline NovaSilisko

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I'm going to concur with the thought that the change in appearance of the plume was the camera defocusing, not the plume itself changing shape. The vehicle was very far away from the camera, and starting to point away from it, thus having the diffuse plume pointed roughly towards it. The camera probably didn't know what to do, so tried changing the focus plane around when it didn't need to. After the much larger apparent diameter of the fireball, the camera saw what it was supposed to focus on, and fixed itself in a few seconds.

Edit: the video below my post shows this very clearly, as you can see the rocket itself is defocused, before and after the plume cuts out.
« Last Edit: 08/23/2014 06:12 pm by NovaSilisko »

Offline junk.munk82

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cleaned up, stabilized and zoomed in version:


Offline Oersted

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Junk.munk, great vid, you even removed the sound delay! From this vid it is quite clear that the increase in plume brightness is solely due to the camera losing focus. It also looks like the engine only shuts down the moment the vehicle has tilted almost to horizontal.
« Last Edit: 08/23/2014 06:21 pm by Oersted »

Offline Pete

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Don't try to *look* at the video, the camera chooses just the wrong moment to lose focus...

Rather, *listen* to the video.

steady rocket sound, normal ascent.
then a slight rise in volume, followed by a rapid decrease(not a sharp cut-off!).
About a quarter second later, a sound like a popping balloon, or a distant car backfire.
4.5 seconds of much softer and unsteady whooshing, then BAng, the explosion.




Offline MP99

Junk.munk, great vid...

Agree, great job.

cheers, Martin

Offline NovaSilisko

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Don't try to *look* at the video, the camera chooses just the wrong moment to lose focus...

Rather, *listen* to the video.

steady rocket sound, normal ascent.
then a slight rise in volume, followed by a rapid decrease(not a sharp cut-off!).
About a quarter second later, a sound like a popping balloon, or a distant car backfire.
4.5 seconds of much softer and unsteady whooshing, then BAng, the explosion.

I think a good part of the whooshing comes from the sound of the rocket echoing off the surrounding landscape. Hard to say though.

Offline aero

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Welcome to flight testing 101. These things are going to happen.
They kicked a Hera target missile out the back of a C-130, and we waited for it to ignite... and waited... and waited... and it did a belly flop in the Pacific. Yes, that's flight-testing 101, but it's still depressing. (Coleman got their asses handed to them by a general over that.)

Similar thing happened during the first test of an air launch of one manufacturer's cruise missile. Development as a surface launched missile was well along, so the software was ripped and modified for the air launched version. Unfortunately something was overlooked and the missile continued down.

Analysis discovered that software was waiting for a change in the direction of vertical travel (maximum altitude from surface launch) before engaging guidance and navigation but that signal never arrived. Oops!
Retired, working interesting problems

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