Author Topic: What if the Cause of the Falcon 9 AMOS-6 Pad Failure is Never Uncovered  (Read 19176 times)

Offline Rocket Science

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?
« Last Edit: 09/12/2016 10:36 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline MarekCyzio

I'm sure they will have a bunch of leading theories. And they will just fix root causes for each of them. Simple as that.

Offline Rocket Science

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I'm sure they will have a bunch of leading theories. And they will just fix root causes for each of them. Simple as that.
Yes, and that will take time. With the Boeing slip for the CST-100, does NASA need to start thinking of buying more Soyuz seats from Russia?
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?

SpaceX would disagree strongly with your "as was in CRS-7" bit.

Offline Rocket Science

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?

SpaceX would disagree strongly with your "as was in CRS-7" bit.
Yes, I can understand that. I didn't intend it as a dig at them...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline robert_d

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?

Yes, I think this is a good thread to start. To include how they could modify Vandenberg to run tests that would restore some confidence. Also how to bring 39-A into operation with far more sensors, cameras and microphones than originally planned. What set of tests could they run to validate each step of the launch process - from delivery to stage return?

Offline Jim

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It is not an easy thing to add more sensors to the launch vehicle.  And more microphones is not going to help

Offline robert_d

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It is not an easy thing to add more sensors to the launch vehicle.  And more microphones is not going to help
Yes Jim,
I realize this wouldn't be easy.
Say 3 months down the road Vandenberg is ready and then they run the Standard static fire and everything seems fine. Would Iridium agree to launch?
How does SpaceX regain confidence if they have no known cause?
« Last Edit: 09/12/2016 11:59 pm by robert_d »

Offline Jim

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It is not an easy thing to add more sensors to the launch vehicle.  And more microphones is not going to help
Yes Jim,
I realize this wouldn't be easy.
1.  Say 3 months down the road Vandenberg is ready and then they run the Standard static fire and everything seems fine.

2.  Would Iridium agree to launch?
How does SpaceX regain confidence if they have no known cause?

1.  Adding more sensors would take much longer.

2.  depends on their insurance
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 12:22 am by Jim »

Offline Jim

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To include how they could modify Vandenberg to run tests that would restore some confidence.

There is nothing short of finding the problem that can do this.

Online Rei

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I don't see how modifying Vandenberg or modified flight-intent hardware comes into play.    This wasn't a launch failure; attempts to reproduce don't have to be in the air  They need to find a way to find a potential initiation to the failure chain that matches the data from the AMOS-6 failure. If they can't find the answer from the wreckage/data in Florida, they need to find it in Texas via attempts to reproduce theories about what initiated the failure.

The concept that no theory can be reproduced... that's a concept I sincerely hope does not come to pass.

Offline Impaler

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To include how they could modify Vandenberg to run tests that would restore some confidence.

There is nothing short of finding the problem that can do this.

Actually just having a series of successful launches would restore confidence, it's really the only thing which ever dose.  The question is if they and the customer are willing to go forward with launches without an identified cause.  If a cause is not found in some kind of time and money frame it seems SpaceX has no choice but to continue launching as that is their business and they have overhead to cover.

Offline watermod

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No need to over-sensor the rocket.   Do it to the erector and the pad.
Look at the STTR research I mentioned in a previous post.
It was supposed to be a new critical infrastructure building std until politicians got involved at administration change.   
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 04:56 am by watermod »

Offline sdsds

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How does SpaceX regain confidence if they have no known cause?

Bring the VAFB pad to readiness. Bring a supposedly identical vehicle to that pad. Static fire.

Success with that builds a little confidence.

Then bring another, different but supposedly identical vehicle to the pad. Static fire.

That builds a little more confidence.

Rinse and repeat until hair is once again glossy.
-- sdsds --

Offline jacqmans

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How does SpaceX regain confidence if they have no known cause?

Bring the VAFB pad to readiness. Bring a supposedly identical vehicle to that pad. Static fire.


Is that wise ?  what if the vehicle explodes on the pad at VAFB also, you would have two pads down... I think its wise to test fueling and static fire at the test stand than on the launch pad...

Offline john smith 19

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?
Obvious question how many launch failures (in the last say 30 years) have ended up this way?

I'm not sure that has ever happened but assuming it did to a design did they retire the design? Fix highest probability root causes and RTF? Increase instrumentation on pad? On LV?

Normally when an LV explodes it's in flight and over the ocean. In this case it was right on the pad. SX have the ability to identify and recover nearly (because I'm sure some parts will still be missing) all of the vehicle and where those parts came down. They should have excellent telemetry from the vehicle and lots of on site video from various angles, most of which I doubt they will ever release.

It seems very  unlikely to me SX won't have either a definite cause or a short list all with high probabilities of being the cause but which lack a deciding set of data to separate them.

As others have observed they will then likely fix all the probable causes. I would also expect they will install "tie breaker" sensors which will decide which one it is in the event it happens again. I would expect at this point it will need a small number of additional sensors to this because they will have simulated the various failure mode signatures and worked out what features can separate them from each other. 
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Wigles

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?
I'm not sure that has ever happened but assuming it did to a design did they retire the design? Fix highest probability root causes and RTF? Increase instrumentation on pad? On LV?

Why would they retire the design? Unknown causes of incidents is not entirely uncommon in commercial aviation,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unrecovered_flight_recorders this link has a list of a number of incidents where the data recorders were never recovered, leading most incidents to not have a determined cause, and yet they continued operations of the type.

I don't recall 777 operations being stopped, let alone design changes, coming out of the MH370 incident. I do concede that a 777 has a much higher proven safety record than the Falcon 9, but the loss of a 777 risks 350-400 people whereas a Falcon 9 risks zero (7 in the future).

Offline Kabloona

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Quote
It seems very  unlikely to me SX won't have either a definite cause or a short list all with high probabilities of being the cause but which lack a deciding set of data to separate them.

As others have observed they will then likely fix all the probable causes.

That's what happened after the first Taurus fairing anomaly, with bad results.

Offline pippin

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IMHO if the real cause is not uncovered they will have to add additional monitoring and live with an increased insurance premium for the next 20-30 flights until they have a proven flight record again or find the real cause in a repetition of the incident.

It's a real problem for them, though, because that increased insurance premium can significantly increase their launch costs especially for expansive payloads.
Somewhere it was mentioned that AMOS-6 was insured at a cost of 6% (IIRC) of the contract value so something in the range of 15 mil $, if it significantly increases, e.g. Because it's being assumed that something in the range of every 10th flight might fail it could easily add up to 10s of millions of $$$ to their launch cost for more valuable payloads.

Offline robert_d

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Is that wise ?  what if the vehicle explodes on the pad at VAFB also, you would have two pads down... I think its wise to test fueling and static fire at the test stand than on the launch pad...

But they don't use the strongback on the test stand, and there is at least some indication that the interface between it and the vehicle is part of the problem. I think they have to go to a static fire if they plan to launch anyway, so despite the risk they may have to try. 

Offline nicp

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Could Spacex create a test rig involving only the second stage, plus perhaps representative parts from Vandenberg, etc, and just repeat the cycle X times until it breaks. Hopefully in an informative manner!
Not on an actual pad you understand - a custom test rig.

I'm thinking of the DeHavilland Comet where pressure was cycled many many times until the thing failed..
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Offline robert_d

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As others have observed they will then likely fix all the probable causes. I would also expect they will install "tie breaker" sensors which will decide which one it is in the event it happens again. I would expect at this point it will need a small number of additional sensors to this because they will have simulated the various failure mode signatures and worked out what features can separate them from each other.

I like this idea of tie breaker sensors. I think they also need to retest every possible material for the ultra cold temperatures. It might be that something got by that may lose its expected properties in rare instances.
Just as the struts had a higher failure rate than was expected.

Offline laszlo

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

Offline the_other_Doug

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How does SpaceX regain confidence if they have no known cause?

Bring the VAFB pad to readiness. Bring a supposedly identical vehicle to that pad. Static fire.

Success with that builds a little confidence.

Then bring another, different but supposedly identical vehicle to the pad. Static fire.

That builds a little more confidence.

Rinse and repeat until hair is once again glossy.

The main flaws in this plan are that, first, the TEL at VAFB is not the same as the one that is currently charred wreckage at SLC-40 at CCAFS.  You wouldn't be testing the same conditions, so you wouldn't expect applicable results.

Second, there are other launch pads within range of the VAFB pad.  I really don't believe the Air Force is going to let SpaceX say "Hey, let's do the exact same things over here at VAFB and see if the rocket explodes."  VAFB management, after seeing how much the AMOS-6 launcher's explosion damaged CCAFS facilities, will likely respond "over our dead bodies."

SpaceX would almost have to try and build as highly accurate of a duplicate to the wrecked TEL as possible and set it up at McGregor, and try their test-to-possible-destruction there, and to be honest, I bet the local community would try to step in and prohibit that.

No, I doubt that, in the absence of both a good working theory on the cause of the accident and an accepted remediation plan, SpaceX will be allowed to just mount a Falcon somewhere and see what they have to do to make it blow up the same way as AMOS-6's rocket did.  By anyone.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline DJPledger

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

7. FH customers will move over to New Glenn.

Offline the_other_Doug

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

7. FH customers will move over to New Glenn.

I believe that SpaceX will, at the very worst, identify at least a set of "most likely causes" for the event, develop remediation around all of them, and be back flying years before New Glenn is in a position to try and book payloads.

From what I saw, doesn't BO state that New Glenn will start flying no earlier than 2021?  I think it's ludicrous to be suggesting that SpaceX won't be flying again four to four and a half years prior to that...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline DJPledger

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

7. FH customers will move over to New Glenn.

I believe that SpaceX will, at the very worst, identify at least a set of "most likely causes" for the event, develop remediation around all of them, and be back flying years before New Glenn is in a position to try and book payloads.

From what I saw, doesn't BO state that New Glenn will start flying no earlier than 2021?  I think it's ludicrous to be suggesting that SpaceX won't be flying again four to four and a half years prior to that...
If the cause of Amos-6 is not found out and SpaceX delays RTF by more than six months then there is a chance customers may walk to other launch providers.

Offline Jim

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As others have observed they will then likely fix all the probable causes. I would also expect they will install "tie breaker" sensors which will decide which one it is in the event it happens again. I would expect at this point it will need a small number of additional sensors to this because they will have simulated the various failure mode signatures and worked out what features can separate them from each other.

I like this idea of tie breaker sensors. I think they also need to retest every possible material for the ultra cold temperatures. It might be that something got by that may lose its expected properties in rare instances.
Just as the struts had a higher failure rate than was expected.


What says that they don't already have redundant sensors, and what says that they had conflicting outputs?
Adding more sensors is not that easy, unless it is the LOIS type.  Lift Off Instrumentation System.  This is a separate system use for measuring environment at liftoff and a few feet of flight.  All the sensors are tied to harnesses to pad that break away after liftoff.

Put sensors on the vehicle and incorporating it into the telemetry system is much more intrusive.  Need to route power and data lines to the sensors, telemetry boxes need more connectors.  Need more bandwidth for downlink.  Need to update software to sample those sensors and incorporate them into the TM stream

Offline the_other_Doug

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

7. FH customers will move over to New Glenn.

I believe that SpaceX will, at the very worst, identify at least a set of "most likely causes" for the event, develop remediation around all of them, and be back flying years before New Glenn is in a position to try and book payloads.

From what I saw, doesn't BO state that New Glenn will start flying no earlier than 2021?  I think it's ludicrous to be suggesting that SpaceX won't be flying again four to four and a half years prior to that...
If the cause of Amos-6 is not found out and SpaceX delays RTF by more than six months then there is a chance customers may walk to other launch providers.

Yep -- to providers that can actually provide launch services.  So far, all Bezos has is Powerpoint slides and some developmental work into engines large enough to power his paper rocket.  To suggest he is suddenly going to walk away with SpaceX's manifest is rather absurd.

If any business SpaceX currently has manifested goes to other launch providers, I think you'll see it go to Ariane and Proton well before BO is in a position to start selling launches.  IMHO, anyway... :)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline envy887

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Proton also has annual explosions, and Ariane is booked solid for years. F9 and FH will have plenty of work even if they can't prove a root cause.

Offline envy887

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Looks like it might not be an issue:

From P.B. de Selding:

Quote
SpaceX President Shotwell: We anticipate return to flight in November, meaning down for three months. Next flight from CCAFS, then to VAFB.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/775702299402526720

That is a fast return and would indicate they have an idea what caused it or have narrowed it to not be the vehicle?

Online launchwatcher

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Adding more sensors is not that easy, unless it is the LOIS type.  Lift Off Instrumentation System.  This is a separate system use for measuring environment at liftoff and a few feet of flight.  All the sensors are tied to harnesses to pad that break away after liftoff.
On the other hand, this mishap happened during fueling while the vehicle was still firmly attached to the pad -- tethered LOIS-style sensors plastered all over a test article may be all they need to observe unanticipated behavior of the stage during fueling.   Heck, they wouldn't even need a breakaway harness for that.

Offline robert_d

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Second, there are other launch pads within range of the VAFB pad.  I really don't believe the Air Force is going to let SpaceX say "Hey, let's do the exact same things over here at VAFB and see if the rocket explodes."  VAFB management, after seeing how much the AMOS-6 launcher's explosion damaged CCAFS facilities, will likely respond "over our dead bodies."


What "damaged facilities"? The HIF and Oxy tank right at that pad are fine and even 3 of 4 lightning towers are good. What evidence of any other damage?

Offline JamesH65

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If a cause is never found and we continue with the annual Falcon explosion event, I predict:

1. Customers will use the cheap Spacex flights for low-priority, low importance payloads
2. Critical payloads will go onto ULA boosters
3. Increased insurance costs may drive Spacex prices to parity with ULA
4. ULA prices will creep up until they finally break their winning streak
5. Spacex will leave the government manned spaceflight business
6. NSF will have a pad debris bingo thread

Seriously, though, they'll find a root cause. As John Smith 19 said, it blew up right there in front of everyone with most of the debris still accessible.

7. FH customers will move over to New Glenn.

I believe that SpaceX will, at the very worst, identify at least a set of "most likely causes" for the event, develop remediation around all of them, and be back flying years before New Glenn is in a position to try and book payloads.

From what I saw, doesn't BO state that New Glenn will start flying no earlier than 2021?  I think it's ludicrous to be suggesting that SpaceX won't be flying again four to four and a half years prior to that...
If the cause of Amos-6 is not found out and SpaceX delays RTF by more than six months then there is a chance customers may walk to other launch providers.

Yep -- to providers that can actually provide launch services.  So far, all Bezos has is Powerpoint slides and some developmental work into engines large enough to power his paper rocket.  To suggest he is suddenly going to walk away with SpaceX's manifest is rather absurd.

If any business SpaceX currently has manifested goes to other launch providers, I think you'll see it go to Ariane and Proton well before BO is in a position to start selling launches.  IMHO, anyway... :)

Whilst I agree that people are unlikely to just walk over to New Glenn, I think it would be foolish to say that all Bezos has is powerpoints and a nearly complete engine. Just like SpaceX and the BFS, it would be likely they have been working on this for some time, and are well in to the design phase.  After all, they have a LOT of employees' and a LOT of cash.

Offline Rocket Science

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RTF in 3 months... What, they found a smoking gun? ??? (I think I just may have made a pun?)
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 03:17 pm by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline the_other_Doug

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Second, there are other launch pads within range of the VAFB pad.  I really don't believe the Air Force is going to let SpaceX say "Hey, let's do the exact same things over here at VAFB and see if the rocket explodes."  VAFB management, after seeing how much the AMOS-6 launcher's explosion damaged CCAFS facilities, will likely respond "over our dead bodies."


What "damaged facilities"? The HIF and Oxy tank right at that pad are fine and even 3 of 4 lightning towers are good. What evidence of any other damage?

It's not just flaming debris that causes problems.  If you break the water main, you lose water pressure all along that main.  If you blow out the power system, you lose power all throughout the area.

I have heard reports that both issues occurred after the AMOS-6 event and caused serious concern about rockets and spacecraft at nearby facilities.

Any damage to infrastructure doesn't just impact the pad on which the explosion happens, it impacts all shared infrastructure.  Power and water are two examples of shared infrastructure, and as I say, both were compromised at other pads and other locations around CCAFS after the AMOS-6 explosion.  A lot of heroic activity by CCAFS maintenance and support personnel kept this from causing serious problems, but it was still something of a close-run thing, from what I understand.

I doubt whether VAFB totally isolates the water and power systems from pad to pad, and so would be likely to suffer similar effects from such an accident.  Just sayin'...

That said, from the recent tweet about a November RTF, it looks like this whole thread is (thankfully) going to be superseded by events quite soon...
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Online Kansan52

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Doug, thanks for that info. Haven't seen anything about CCAFS maintenance going the extra mile. Many unsung heroes at times like this.

Offline Rocket Science

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Tweet possible interpretation: We have a solid LV, so it "must" have been external (not known what) So we rebuild the pad and TEL crossing the "t"s and dot the "i"s and we're all go...
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 03:57 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline the_other_Doug

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Doug, thanks for that info. Haven't seen anything about CCAFS maintenance going the extra mile. Many unsung heroes at times like this.

I got some of it from the following post under the OSIRIS-REx live thread.  It doesn't mention power system issues (I think I heard something about those glancing through reddit), but it does talk about the water and related "chiller" systems at Pad 41:

Article from the 45th mentions the effort to protect OSIRIS-REx after the SpaceX incident.

Quote
While you might think our immediate concern was the fires on the pad and their sources, my civil engineer representative informed me that during the explosion, the deluge system had been damaged and most of the water was being shot up into the air rather than being dispersed across the pad as designed. The SpaceX rep informed me that while the deluge wasn’t functioning optimally it was still helping to suppress the fire somewhat. That was fine except for one thing -- our 1.2 million gallon tank was being depleted at a rapid rate and there was no way to refill the tanks fast enough to sustain the output. If the tanks ran dry then the motors to the pumps would burn up, which would render the deluge system inoperable for other launch pads meaning our upcoming ULA launch might then be in danger.

Another issue I had to immediately consider were the many different high-pressure systems on the pad and whether or not they had been compromised and how to bring the pressures down if needed. Our team and I decided to take a multitask approach as we decided to send in our Initial Response Team to shut down the pumps and turn off one of the high-pressure systems that could be accessed from outside the perimeter of the launch pad.

No sooner had we accomplished the securing of the pumps when I was approached by another one of our range users who explained they were losing pressure on the chillers at a neighboring launch complex. Without those chillers the spacecraft for the next launch would be lost. Needless to say at this point I had to reestablish our priorities and get a team working on a way to get our IRT into Space Launch Complex 41 to allow access for technicians to enter in order to make the necessary repairs. 

As we were reviewing the plan, word came in from Pad 41 that all of the pressures were lost and technicians had to get to the spacecraft immediately. This is a situation when good working relationships with our counterparts at Kennedy Space Center came into play. We were able to coordinate with the KSC EOC for access through their roadblocks and get the required support to the spacecraft in plenty of time to not only save the spacecraft, but to keep the planned launch on schedule.

http://www.patrick.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/938481/emergency-management-a-behind-the-scenes-look-on-the-eastern-range
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Online Kansan52

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Wow. Thanks for that, missed it entirely. What a great team to do all that in such an emergency.

Offline gospacex

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I thought we pretty much flogged the thread on possible causes, so what if we are left with no direct cause for the failure and only a suspected probable cause as was in CRS-7? How will it impact, if any on the upcoming Commercial Crew flights?
Obvious question how many launch failures (in the last say 30 years) have ended up this way?

I'm not sure that has ever happened but assuming it did to a design did they retire the design? Fix highest probability root causes and RTF? Increase instrumentation on pad? On LV?

Normally when an LV explodes it's in flight and over the ocean. In this case it was right on the pad. SX have the ability to identify and recover nearly (because I'm sure some parts will still be missing) all of the vehicle and where those parts came down. They should have excellent telemetry from the vehicle and lots of on site video from various angles, most of which I doubt they will ever release.

And they "should" have multiple high-resolution, high-framerate videos of the explosion, which in this case would very likely shed the light on wtf has happened.

Well. It looks that they don't have that.

It's easy for us to post-factum assume SpaceX did not fail to think of all possible failures, and installed sensors for all needed data.

In reality, it's hard to predict every failure; and there are time, complexity and $$$$ constraints on how many sensors you want to install.
« Last Edit: 09/13/2016 04:16 pm by gospacex »

Online whitelancer64

"Well. It looks that they don't have that."

What leads you to that conclusion?
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline catdlr

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"Well. It looks that they don't have that."

What leads you to that conclusion?

They must have, here is a sampling that SpaceX provide a while ago from apparently their own High Speed cameras:

Tony De La Rosa

Online matthewkantar

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"Well. It looks that they don't have that."

What leads you to that conclusion?

They must have, here is a sampling that SpaceX provide a while ago from apparently their own High Speed cameras:



All of those clips are from flights. Is it possible they don't bother with cams on static fires?

Matthew

Offline JamesH65

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"Well. It looks that they don't have that."

What leads you to that conclusion?

They must have, here is a sampling that SpaceX provide a while ago from apparently their own High Speed cameras:



All of those clips are from flights. Is it possible they don't bother with cams on static fires?

Matthew

Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Offline sdsds

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I think the risk to other range users is only substantial when those users actually have vehicles at their pads. Were SpaceX to simply "try again" at VAFB it would seem reasonable for the range to require them to do so at a time when all other pads were empty. Is that much of a constraint these days?
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Offline Rocket Science

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I'm really curious to see NASA's take on this if a direct cause is never found and the political impact on the Commercial Crew Program. IMHO from what I saw my sense was that Dragon would have been able to perform a pad abort with a well sorted EDS. Now the opponents on the HILL may see it differently, but it doesn't take much to set them off...
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Offline JebK

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Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Also launch vehicles aren't expected to fail catastrophically 8 minutes before engine start (or 3 days before launch). Its 2016 not 1956.

Online whitelancer64


Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Atlas V stopped doing WDRs in 2012 for all but high-value and interplanetary payloads.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Rocket Science

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Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Also launch vehicles aren't expected to fail catastrophically 8 minutes before engine start (or 3 days before launch). Its 2016 not 1956.
Sometimes it's not the launch system that fails, it's "the failure of imagination" that rears it's ugly head...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline JamesH65

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Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Also launch vehicles aren't expected to fail catastrophically 8 minutes before engine start (or 3 days before launch). Its 2016 not 1956.

Indeed. But you know, sometimes, s**t happens, despite every effort to ensure it doesn't. And in those cases, you suck it up, try and figure it out, and keep on pushing. You don't give up.

The rocket industry and satellite industry are always having failures. Antares, that Israel satellite, are both very recent. Hopefully, by 2050, failures will be a thing of the past, but when you work on the bleeding edge, sometimes, bad stuff happens.

Offline DaveH62

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Could they build a stropped down launch system in New Mexico or Texas and test fueling operations with one of the used Rockets? Part of the problem is they can't do full scale testing in Florida, where they put other pads at risk, or in Texas. Long term, if they really want to increase their speed, working on a full scale launch system and optimizing the full launch process seems almost necessary to hit the cadence they want. Short term, it seems like they need a way to recreate the issue, or prove it was an anomaly (if such a thing exists). The idea of getting approval to launch in VAFB or the Cape, seems unlikely, without root cause.

Offline Jim

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Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Also launch vehicles aren't expected to fail catastrophically 8 minutes before engine start (or 3 days before launch). Its 2016 not 1956.

Indeed. But you know, sometimes, s**t happens, despite every effort to ensure it doesn't. And in those cases, you suck it up, try and figure it out, and keep on pushing. You don't give up.

The rocket industry and satellite industry are always having failures. Antares, that Israel satellite, are both very recent. Hopefully, by 2050, failures will be a thing of the past, but when you work on the bleeding edge, sometimes, bad stuff happens.

No, there is no such thing as sucking it up.  You find the cause or probable causes and fix them

Offline tleski

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Could they build a stropped down launch system in New Mexico or Texas and test fueling operations with one of the used Rockets?
(...)

Depends what you mean by stripped down launch system. I am guessing it would take them some time to build a launch system (including TEL) in a new place and it would be really expensive. In McGregor, they at least have fueling infrastructure and are able to test second stages.
Only the first stage is recovered and the apparent problem was with the second stage, so I don't think using the "flight proven" first stage would help in any way.

Offline JamesH65

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Quite. Static fires have no real PR value, so no real need for those sorts of cameras. Maybe that will change now. Do ULA have high speed camera watching every dress rehearsal they do? I know they don;t do static fires, but they must have some sort of testing prior to launch.

Also launch vehicles aren't expected to fail catastrophically 8 minutes before engine start (or 3 days before launch). Its 2016 not 1956.

Indeed. But you know, sometimes, s**t happens, despite every effort to ensure it doesn't. And in those cases, you suck it up, try and figure it out, and keep on pushing. You don't give up.

The rocket industry and satellite industry are always having failures. Antares, that Israel satellite, are both very recent. Hopefully, by 2050, failures will be a thing of the past, but when you work on the bleeding edge, sometimes, bad stuff happens.

No, there is no such thing as sucking it up.  You find the cause or probable causes and fix them

Agreed. But the thread title is if they never find the find the cause. Does finding probable causes and fixing them count? They might not prove exactly want went wrong, but clearly they will fix anything they do find, that's just common sense. But if they are never 100% sure, they are indeed 'sucking it up', at least a little. In fact, you could say the amount of sucking up is 100 minus their confidence percentage that they found the cause!

Offline Rocket Science

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I'll let NASA be the final arbitrator of whether or not the cause is fully discovered, re-mediated and if they decide to let their crews fly on board. The rest would fall on what they deem as acceptable risk under the Commercial Crew Program...
« Last Edit: 09/16/2016 12:29 am by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline PhotoEngineer

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I know this is a "what if" thread but as someone who has worked flight vehicle failure analysis in the past, the chance of them not having an assignable cause at some point is slim to none.  There is a lot of data available and a lot of smart people working the problem.

Offline Rocket Science

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I know this is a "what if" thread but as someone who has worked flight vehicle failure analysis in the past, the chance of them not having an assignable cause at some point is slim to none.  There is a lot of data available and a lot of smart people working the problem.
I know what you are saying however; keep in mind that you are asking the same "smart people" to find the cause are the same "smart people" who allowed the problem to occur in the first place...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Lumina

I know this is a "what if" thread but as someone who has worked flight vehicle failure analysis in the past, the chance of them not having an assignable cause at some point is slim to none.  There is a lot of data available and a lot of smart people working the problem.
I know what you are saying however; keep in mind that you are asking the same "smart people" to find the cause are the same "smart people" who allowed the problem to occur in the first place...

True, but on the other hand 20/20 hindsight is much stronger than foresight. They will find it.

Offline Rocket Science

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I know this is a "what if" thread but as someone who has worked flight vehicle failure analysis in the past, the chance of them not having an assignable cause at some point is slim to none.  There is a lot of data available and a lot of smart people working the problem.
I know what you are saying however; keep in mind that you are asking the same "smart people" to find the cause are the same "smart people" who allowed the problem to occur in the first place...

True, but on the other hand 20/20 hindsight is much stronger than foresight. They will find it.
I know, I'm pulling for them...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline sdsds

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In this case I am confident the investigation with SpaceX in the lead and with the full support of other involved organizations will find and develop a fix or fixes for whatever might have caused this. But in a totally hypothetical case, what if the most probable cause of some future wet-dress failure was that the vehicle had been struck by a meteorite? How would they fix that?
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In this case I am confident the investigation with SpaceX in the lead and with the full support of other involved organizations will find and develop a fix or fixes for whatever might have caused this. But in a totally hypothetical case, what if the most probable cause of some future wet-dress failure was that the vehicle had been struck by a meteorite? How would they fix that?
They would find the full statistical likelihood of it happening again (and there is actually data on how common meteorite strikes are for any given place on earth) and if the risk was high enough they would dig a hole and launch from a silo.

Offline Bynaus

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The likelyhood of a meteorite strike is just astronomically low (approx 1 meteorite >100 g per 36'000 km2 per year*). Contrast this idea, e.g., with how many airliners you have to hit (statistically speaking) with a meteorite before you hit a rocket... No airliner has ever been hit by a meteorite, and there are thousands of them.

Also, a meteorite would just fall at terminal velocity, so about 100 m/s (so it would likely be in a few frames of the video - although perhaps not visible, depending on size). There might be other meteorites too, and (being stones) they would probably even survive the "fast fire" and be found among the debris.

*From: Bland P. A. & Artemieva N. A., 2006, Meteoritics & Planetary Science 41:607-631.
« Last Edit: 09/16/2016 02:33 pm by Bynaus »
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Offline Rocket Science

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No need to dig one, Challenger's remains are in LC-31 and the state of LC-32 I'm not sure of at this point. Unless this a really a concern to some... Just sayin'...
http://www.wired4space.com/launch-sites/cape-canaveral-afs/lc-32-launch-complex-32-at-cape-canaveral-afs
« Last Edit: 09/16/2016 02:44 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline Falcon H

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Maybe SpaceX should redesign their pressurization system completely at this point.......
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Maybe SpaceX should redesign their pressurization system completely at this point.......

How would they know what they have to avoid in the redesign, to prevent a recurrence of this fault if they don't find the root cause first? Simply hoping that a different design doesn't pick up the same inherent flaw? Or introduce another one?

Just because you redesigned something doesn't by itself make it better than the old solution.
« Last Edit: 09/28/2016 01:36 pm by ugordan »

Offline sdsds

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Maybe SpaceX should redesign their pressurization system completely at this point.......

[...] Just because you redesigned something doesn't by itself make it better than the old solution.

Maybe SpaceX should redesign their pressurization system acceptance test criteria at this point....

;)
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In this case I am confident the investigation with SpaceX in the lead and with the full support of other involved organizations will find and develop a fix or fixes for whatever might have caused this. But in a totally hypothetical case, what if the most probable cause of some future wet-dress failure was that the vehicle had been struck by a meteorite? How would they fix that?

you wouldn't need to as you would have an unavoidable statistically improbable event.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

Offline Rocket Science

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With the cause still unknown, as suspected NASA is considering buying more seats as I suggested they might...
yg1968 posted this article link:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37802.msg1592568#new
http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/nasa-officials-mulling-the-possibility-of-purchasing-soyuz-seats-for-2019/?comments=1

« Last Edit: 09/30/2016 06:12 pm by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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