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  SpaceX Falcon 9 (Jason-3) drone ship landing

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Author Topic:   SpaceX Falcon 9 (Jason-3) drone ship landing
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 33842
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-12-2016 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX targeting ship landing of Jason-3 mission's Falcon 9 first stage

SpaceX on Monday (Jan. 11) completed a full-duration static fire of its final Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage in preparation for its launch of NASA's Jason-3 ocean surface topography satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The first stage engines fired for the planned duration of 7 seconds. An initial review of the data appeared to show a successful test, but will be followed by a more thorough data review on Tuesday.

The launch is scheduled for 10:42 a.m. PST (1842 GMT) on Sunday (Jan. 17) from Space Launch Complex 4.

After lofting the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage and Jason-3 payload to altitude, the spent first stage will separate and attempt a propulsive landing on SpaceX's autonomous spaceport drone ship.

"Aiming to launch this weekend and (hopefully) land on our drone-ship," Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO and chief technology officer, wrote on Twitter. "Ship landings needed for high velocity missions."

If successful, the landing will mark only the second time SpaceX has recovered its rocket's first stage after the touchdown on Landing Zone 1 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 21.

Although a similar pad has been under preparation at Vandenberg, SpaceX still requires its drone ships to recover future missions with heavy payloads or which are destined for high orbits, when the first stage's remaining fuel supply after separation will not be enough to fly back to land.

SpaceX has attempted twice before to recover its Falcon 9's first stage using an ocean-going platform, but both tries ended with the loss of the rocket in the final moments.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-16-2016 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX photo update
Rocket is vertical in advance of tomorrow's 1:42 p.m. EST launch attempt of Jason-3 science satellite. Webcast here.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 33842
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-16-2016 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX photo update
Out at sea for tomorrow's launch and landing attempt.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 33842
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-17-2016 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with the Jason-3 satellite lifted off at 10:42 a.m. PST on Sunday (Jan. 17) from SLC-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

First and second stage separation was successful and the first stage was confirmed to have successfully performed the boost-back burn needed for a propulsive landing.

The live video feed from the drone ship "Just Read The Instructions" cut off before confirmation of landing could occur. SpaceX is still standing by for confirmation of a successful landing.

Standing by for status of stage one. Second stage and Jason-3 now in nominal coast phase.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-17-2016 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A SpaceX spokesman on the webcast said the landing attempt has failed:
It looks like it came in on target, as we planned. As it touched down, it was a slightly harder landing than we expected and it looks like one of the landing legs may have broken as we touched down on the drone ship.

We're going to take a lot of data from this. Engineers are still downloading the data from the drone ship at this moment. And we will have some footage potentially to show later in a few hours once we get back some aircraft footage and some other remote cameras showing how today's landing attempt went.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 33842
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-17-2016 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX on Twitter:
After further data review, stage landed softly but leg 3 didn't lockout. Was within 1.3 meters of droneship center
Elon Musk expanded on what happened on Twitter:
Definitely harder to land on a ship. Similar to an aircraft carrier vs land: much smaller target area, that's also translating and rotating.

However, that was not what prevented it being good. Touchdown speed was okay, but a leg lockout didn't latch, so it tipped over after landing.

Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time! Won't be last RUD, but am optimistic about upcoming ship landing.

As mentioned before, ship landings are needed for high velocity missions. Altitude and distance don't mean much for orbit. All about speed.

Ship landings are not needed for flexibility or to save fuel costs. Just not physically possible to return to launch site.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-17-2016 11:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX photo
First stage approaches center of landing droneship in Pacific.

Elon Musk on Instagram:

Falcon lands on droneship, but the lockout collet doesn't latch on one the four legs, causing it to tip over post landing. Root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff.

A video posted by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

mach3valkyrie
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From: Albany, Oregon
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-18-2016 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's still a remarkable achievement. I am in awe.

GACspaceguy
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Posts: 1899
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 01-18-2016 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me they got the landing, and engine shut down, but there was a mechanical malfunction = testing.

Good to find it now rather then when you are depending on turning the vehicle around for another launch.

dabolton
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Posts: 404
From: Seneca, IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 01-18-2016 07:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If they put a ring of quick-inflating air bags around the barge circumference, could they save a tipping over rocket? Or will it explode anyways past a certain vertical range.

Aeropix
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Posts: 25
From: Houston
Registered: Apr 2010

posted 01-19-2016 02:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aeropix   Click Here to Email Aeropix     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How will they get the vertical rocket back to shore? What about weather or rough seas? Aren't they couple of hundred miles out to sea?

It seems like catching the rocket is the least of the problem unless they can make it horizontal for the trip back to shore.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-19-2016 02:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk was asked about this during a Jan. 2015 AMA on Reddit:
How will you secure the first stage of the Falcon 9 to the barge when it lands? Gravity or some mechanism?

Mostly gravity. The center of gravity is pretty low for the booster, as all the engines and residual propellant is at the bottom. We are going to weld steel shoes over the landing feet as a precautionary measure.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3521
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-19-2016 06:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lessons learned from LM landing gear development were not applied to this booster evidently.

Alternatively, a positive capture device that engages the lower body/legs immediately upon touchdown may reduce tipping risk during landing ops and transport.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 33842
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-19-2016 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Elon Musk said yesterday that he expects more failed landings:
My best guess for 2016: ~70% landing success rate (so still a few more RUDs to go), then hopefully improving to ~90% in 2017.
(RUD is Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly.)

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