SpaceX's Falcon Rocket Explodes Catastrophically En Route to ISS

SpaceX's Falcon Rocket Explodes Catastrophically En Route to ISS

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket stands ready to launch much-needed supplies to the International Space Station this weekend. That is no easy task, yet its real challenge will be trying to stick the landing.

EDIT June 28th: Unfortunately, the unmanned rocket exploded shortly after launch. The rocket begins to disintegrate about 3 minutes into this video:

Original: After a supply run by Russia failed earlier this month, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is preparing to bring much-needed food, tools, experiments and a new docking port to the ISS.

A private company making supply runs on to the space station is already the realm of science fiction - but if SpaceX succeeds in safely landing the first stage of its rocket this weekend, then they will truly make history.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket's first goal is getting a Dragon spacecraft - loaded with the supplies - into orbit. From there, the Falcon separates, pushing the Dragon on towards its goal, while the rocket itself drifts down to Earth. The hope is that the Falcon can land safely on a barge set up at sea, using a combination of parachutes and thrusters to keep it balanced.

SpaceX's previous two attempts did not go well, but their failures taught their engineers a great deal. Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, not to mention Tesla Motors, had given their most recent attempt a "50-50 chance."

"This is an experimental trial to some extent," says SpaceX's Hans Koenigsmann. "You look at the data, you evaluate this, and then you make corrections, and that's ultimately how you succeed."

If the Falcon 9 survives its landing, it will prove to be another momentous step in human space flight. SpaceX and companies like it have already begun to succeed in areas usually reserved for government agencies. Having a re-usable rocket like the Falcon 9 would hugely improve the efficiency of space missions like these.

It certainly brings many sci-fi dreams to the fore. Space tourism is rapidly approaching feasibility; companies are ready to start mining asteroids for precious ores.

What do you think? Is privatized space flight the way forward? Or should space remain the domain of government agencies?

Source: NBC

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I think that if the private sector irons out all of the kinks in its design and procedure, it will yield a great benefit by being able to put flights into space on their bill instead of a government's. Spread the wealth a little, delegate some tasks.

Captcha: Moon cheese

Hah!

Would like to see which design will be the eventual winner; Musk's powered lander or Airbus' flying engine pod.

If we won't have corporations taking us into space, then no-one will. Governments already think it's too expensive, so if the private sector won't do it we'll probably never get to colonize other planets.

One of the tough things about science is learning as much from the failures as from the successes.

Me, I'm perfectly fine with public and private enterprises sharing the load. What worries me is the idea of private monopoly over space travel; private monopoly over anything tends to end up being a bad thing. Not to mention that private enterprise tends to be most effective when it piggybacks on governmental experimentation and research.

Alleged_Alec:
Would like to see which design will be the eventual winner; Musk's powered lander or Airbus' flying engine pod.

Still crossing my fingers and hoping the spaceplanes using SABRE air-breathing hybrid rockets makes it into at least full-scale testing at some point.

Can anyone say 'single-stage-to orbit'? XD

"It certainly brings many sci-fi dreams to the fore. "

You might want to check out Buran, the vastly, vastly superior Russian Space shuttle they just let rot because the Cold War ended when the USSR ran out of money for weapons and the Spacerace before the USA did. Think Ars Technica recently did a photo article about it?

It's pretty funny how news about SpaceX keeps harping on about them being "private sector". There's nothing private about them, SpaceX is a government contractor, every contract they get is from the government and every cent they earn comes from tax money. It's not even new. NASA has had external contractors since the fifties. It's damn impressive what they do, but it's a victory for brilliant engineering, not some open-market business-magic bullshit.

Considering their first 2 attempts were so damn close, I recon they could actually land it this time. I don't really give a damn about the supplies to the ISS (well I do since they're needed), but for me the most important thing is to me is for SpaceX to nail that landing. They touch that rocket down nice and gentle-like and the cost of space flight will tumble.

Don't know why people think that government sponsored space agencies are a waste of money compared to the private sector. True, they haven't done much actual manned exploration. That's because unmanned exploration has been doing just fine, and because they've first had to develop the underlying technologies to send people into space, safely.

https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html

Technologies many of which we are using on Earth, right now.

Kenjitsuka:
You might want to check out Buran, the vastly, vastly superior Russian Space shuttle they just let rot because the Cold War ended when the USSR ran out of money for weapons and the Spacerace before the USA did. Think Ars Technica recently did a photo article about it?

Interesting - I had not heard of this before. Very cool!

Idlemessiah:
Considering their first 2 attempts were so damn close, I recon they could actually land it this time.

Yeah, especially that second attempt - watching that video I posted, it's like a roller-coaster of emotion. "They're coming in at an angle! Oh, they're going to make it! OH NO IT'S TIPPING AWWW MAN"

McKitten:
It's pretty funny how news about SpaceX keeps harping on about them being "private sector". There's nothing private about them, SpaceX is a government contractor, every contract they get is from the government and every cent they earn comes from tax money. It's not even new. NASA has had external contractors since the fifties. It's damn impressive what they do, but it's a victory for brilliant engineering, not some open-market business-magic bullshit.

But Glorious Market make anything possible! Genious Job Creators take us to very stars themselves! All with aid of the Hand of the Market! They never would accept money from evil and corrupt government, would they?

It's a shame we couldn't even get past the moon before the corporate age of space exploration started.

The comments above are seriously depressing. I thought other people would be excited by the prospects and developments. How decadent have we become?

CrystalShadow:

Alleged_Alec:
Would like to see which design will be the eventual winner; Musk's powered lander or Airbus' flying engine pod.

Still crossing my fingers and hoping the spaceplanes using SABRE air-breathing hybrid rockets makes it into at least full-scale testing at some point.

Can anyone say 'single-stage-to orbit'? XD

I'd love to see those, but I think that those have a different purpose. SpaceX and it's Airbus competitor are meant as cargo rockets, bringing large-ish payloads to orbit. Most SSTOs proposed so far have quite a limited payload capacity, making them less suitable for that sort of wor, but more attractive for personnel missions.

Alleged_Alec:

CrystalShadow:

Alleged_Alec:
Would like to see which design will be the eventual winner; Musk's powered lander or Airbus' flying engine pod.

Still crossing my fingers and hoping the spaceplanes using SABRE air-breathing hybrid rockets makes it into at least full-scale testing at some point.

Can anyone say 'single-stage-to orbit'? XD

I'd love to see those, but I think that those have a different purpose. SpaceX and it's Airbus competitor are meant as cargo rockets, bringing large-ish payloads to orbit. Most SSTOs proposed so far have quite a limited payload capacity, making them less suitable for that sort of wor, but more attractive for personnel missions.

The sabre engine is closely associated with the SKYLON SSTO...

This is a single-stage crewless spaceplane with a 15 tonne payload.

While there ARE some plans for optional crew capsules for it, by default it is strictly for Cargo.

The point of the SABRE engine as a concept is that below mach 5 it is an air-breathing engine, meaning it needs considerably less oxidiser.

You have to take such claims with a grain of salt, but they are suggesting it would cause a 95% reduction in the cost of space launches.

(they do however mention a variant of the engine designed not to reach orbit, but to allow a mach 5 aircraft for intercontinental passenger transport)

SpaceX and Airbus are American though, while the SABRE engine is being worked on by a UK company. The plans so far suggest launching SKYLON flights from The ESA facilities in French Guinnea.

Still, it's impossible to say, since they're not talking about even doing full-scale flight tests until 2019 (they have a quarter scale mockup of the spaceplane, and have been doing prototype engine tests for quite some time.)

Anyway, I guess we'll have to wait and see. (but skylon is definitely NOT designed for people. Far from it.)
http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon_tech.html

Regardless of the debate of "Is SpaceX Private or a part of the Government?", it doesn't matter, at least not today; because it exploded minutes after launch.

SpaceX seems to have problems with their rockets. Back to the drawing board for them.

Mr.Mattress:
Regardless of the debate of "Is SpaceX Private or a part of the Government?", it doesn't matter, at least not today; because it exploded minutes after launch.

SpaceX seems to have problems with their rockets. Back to the drawing board for them.

So much for "third time's the charm". Seriously, I think people are going to be losing faith in the company by now...

The 3rd rocket just blew up after launch

3 strikes and out? Damn I wish I remembered who I had an argument with in regards to space x lack of ability after the second failure.

Oof. Disappointing morning. I've updated the article with the latest video.

O maestre:
3 strikes and out? Damn I wish I remembered who I had an argument with in regards to space x lack of ability after the second failure.

This is SpaceX's first rocket failure. The other two were another private company and a Russian rocket.

CrystalShadow:

SpaceX and Airbus are American though, while the SABRE engine is being worked on by a UK company. The plans so far suggest launching SKYLON flights from The ESA facilities in French Guinnea.

Whenever I get a really boring day at work I love checking out Reaction Engines website to remind myself that cool and awesome stuff is happening somewhere!

One minor pick of the nit though - Airbus are French, and based in Toulouse, not American. And I linked to it in another thread but another reminder of potential space-travel related awesome is the Japanese engineering company that said "Yeah we can totally build a Space Elevator by 2050": http://www.obayashi.co.jp/english/special/2014110424.html .One of those would make a much bigger difference to haulage costs to and from orbit than any 20 rocket improvements. :)

What was the price of the gear it was supposed to be carrying for the International Space Station? Anyone?

CeeBod:

CrystalShadow:

SpaceX and Airbus are American though, while the SABRE engine is being worked on by a UK company. The plans so far suggest launching SKYLON flights from The ESA facilities in French Guinnea.

Whenever I get a really boring day at work I love checking out Reaction Engines website to remind myself that cool and awesome stuff is happening somewhere!

One minor pick of the nit though - Airbus are French, and based in Toulouse, not American. And I linked to it in another thread but another reminder of potential space-travel related awesome is the Japanese engineering company that said "Yeah we can totally build a Space Elevator by 2050": http://www.obayashi.co.jp/english/special/2014110424.html .One of those would make a much bigger difference to haulage costs to and from orbit than any 20 rocket improvements. :)

~facepalm~ Sorry. Yes. Airbus is french. Or rather, a trans-european alliance/merger of several older european aircraft manufacturers.
My brain routinely does stupid things and mixes up facts. In this case, confusing airbus for boing. ~sigh~

Yeah, a space elevator would make a dent that no rocket system ever could, though... Building one would be an immense challenge, for sure.

They seem to have plans, but at the same time say the prerequisite technology doesn't exist...
Would be impressive if it worked, but meanwhile we have rocket designs for which most of the core components already exist, or are currently undergoing testing...

That's slightly different in terms of ever actually seeing these things in action. XD

SpaceX is doing test-launches of actual rockets. REL is doing engine tests...
This japanese company has said 'yeah, we can do it, we're just waiting on rhe technology to catch up'

Still. Will be fun to witness. If I live that long. XD. Eh. If they manage that schedule, I probably will, barring accidents...
I'll be old though. XD

lancar:
If we won't have corporations taking us into space, then no-one will. Governments already think it's too expensive, so if the private sector won't do it we'll probably never get to colonize other planets.

We'll never get to colonise other planet's anyway. Even visiting mars like we once did the moon is unlikely.

Take the current NASA mars capsule for a 16 month mission for 4 people, it would be 56 feet long, with a diameter of 16 feet.

Picture that 4 people stuck in a ship of that size for 16 months. The stress would be terrible and everything would be rationed no having a snack if your hungry no having a drink if your thirsty everything rationed because there is no resupply, everything is measured to the gram.

P-89 Scorpion:

lancar:
If we won't have corporations taking us into space, then no-one will. Governments already think it's too expensive, so if the private sector won't do it we'll probably never get to colonize other planets.

We'll never get to colonise other planet's anyway. Even visiting mars like we once did the moon is unlikely.

Take the current NASA mars capsule for a 16 month mission for 4 people, it would be 56 feet long, with a diameter of 16 feet.

Picture that 4 people stuck in a ship of that size for 16 months. The stress would be terrible and everything would be rationed no having a snack if your hungry no having a drink if your thirsty everything rationed because there is no resupply, everything is measured to the gram.

Indeed. 'Never', may be overstating it, but commercialization isn't likely to change the reality that conventional propulsion simply isn't well suited to the task at hand. It takes a ton of fuel to get anything into orbit, and a ton of time to get anywhere, and good luck doing anything once you get there.

Even practical mining operations of asteroids and such are a ways off, but we're not likely to see anything resembling colonization without fancy sci fi gadgets that trivialize the obstacles of gravity and distance.

Jadak:

Indeed. 'Never', may be overstating it, but commercialization isn't likely to change the reality that conventional propulsion simply isn't well suited to the task at hand. It takes a ton of fuel to get anything into orbit, and a ton of time to get anywhere, and good luck doing anything once you get there.

Even practical mining operations of asteroids and such are a ways off, but we're not likely to see anything resembling colonization without fancy sci fi gadgets that trivialize the obstacles of gravity and distance.

Well never in regards to our lifetime anyway, so I don't expect anything before 2100 barring any unforeseen technological breakthroughs.

1 failure in 19 launches, that's still very reliable for a rocket.

Ok, the landing the booster on a barge part hasn't worked yet, but that's not part of the primary mission.

Damn this looks exactly like something I threw together with my last few bucks in Kerbal Space Program career mode last night.

Ended about as well too.

I think privatising space travel would be quite beneficial. Big corporations often have access to more resources and better scientists. They are motivated by profit, which in this instance is a good thing. They will only go to places that will provide tangible benefits. It saves money in the long run.

 

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