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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:SpaceX F9R vehicle test flight failure (8.22.14)
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Robert PearlmanAdditional coverage and details:
  • Spaceflight Now: SpaceX rocket prototype explodes in test flight

  • Elon Musk, who was reportedly present for the test, wrote on Twitter:
    Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky...
  • SpaceX anticipated a failure like this, or worse, as a result of the type of testing they are conducting. In June, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said during a TED talk:
    We've got to tunnel one of [these] vehicles into the ground by trying something really hard, we haven't done that yet.

    So now our challenge to our test team is "You've got to push hard enough that we're going to see something happen." A spectacular video... failures are very spectacular.

Robert PearlmanSpaceX statement by CEO Elon Musk
Update on AsiaSat 6 Mission

SpaceX has decided to postpone tomorrow's flight of AsiaSat 6. We are not aware of any issue with Falcon 9, nor the interfaces with the Spacecraft, but have decided to review all potential failure modes and contingencies again. We expect to complete this process in one to two weeks.

The natural question is whether this is related to the test vehicle malfunction at our development facility in Texas last week. After a thorough review, we are confident that there is no direct link. Had the same blocked sensor port problem occurred with an operational Falcon 9, it would have been outvoted by several other sensors. That voting system was not present on the test vehicle.

What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change. If any changes are made, we will provide as much detail as is allowed under U.S. law.
See here for discussion of SpaceX's F9R vehicle flight test and termination.

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