Falcon I Launched - Mission A Partial Success

SpaceX Post-flight Comments Regarding Second Falcon 1 Launch

"The second test launch of Falcon 1 took place today at 6:10 pm California time. The launch was not perfect, but certainly pretty good. Given thatthe primary objectives weredemonstrating responsive launch and gathering test data in advance of our first operational satellite launch later this year, the outcome was great. Operationally responsive (ie fast) launch has become an increasingly important national security objective, so demonstrating rapid loading of propellents and launch in less than an hour, as well as a rapid recycle following the first engine ignition are major accomplishments."

Launch Video (SpaceX)

Editor's update: According to SpaceX President Elon Musk: "This was a very good day for SpaceX. We succesfuly reached space - and we retired almost all the risk associated with the rocket. I feel very good about having sucessful launches later this year. Our customers are excited with the results of this test. We were concerned about first stage igition and lift off and trajectory of the first stage. That went flawlessley. We had zero anomalies on the first stage. Stage separation went very well. Fairing separation wet flawlessly. Second stage ignition was perfect. We achieved steady state burn on the second stage. There was a roll control anomaly late in second stage burn. We feel pretty good about this launch. This was a test launch - but I think it was a pretty good test."

When asked to speculate on the fate of the second stage and its payload Musk said "it is premature [right now] to say anything. We did not achieve the desired orbit. I do not know the fate of the second stage. We got to 300 kilometers. It is not in the intended orbit. The likehood is that it re-entered after half an orbit. That is all I know right now. We retired 90% of the risk associated with the rocket. This was a test launch - not a satellitel launch."

Editor's update: Telemetry lost. Webcast down. Vehicle seemed to be rotating as signal and webcast lost.

Editor's update: Second Stage Ignition nominal, Fairing sep nominal. 117 km alt.

Editor's update: Falcon 1 has launched. Ascent is nominal.

Editor's update: T-10:00 and counting

Editor's update: First and second stage fuel loading is complete. Countdown has resumed

Editor's update: Launch count will begin at 8:54 pm EDT at T-16 minutes with a new launch time of 9:10 pm EDT

Editor's update: Stage 1 and 2 fuel offload complete.

Editor's update: A recycle is now in work. A partial RP-1 offload (50%) is underway. New (warmer) RP-1 will then be loaded. Countdown is in hold. When the countdown resumes it will start at T-10 minutes

Editor's update: An instant before scheduled launch Falcon 1 engines came on and went off. The vehicle is now being safed. The issue was combustion chamber pressure which was 0.1% out of the low end of specification. A recycle option is currently being evaluated.

Editor's update: Launch is now scheduled for 8:05 pm EDT.

Editor's 20 March update: According to SpaceX: "All systems are now go for launch with T-0 at 4pm California time today (Tues).The abort that occurred a few minutes before T-0 was triggered by our ground control software. It commanded a switchover of range telemetry from landline to radio, which took place correctly, however, because of the hardware involved, this transition takes a few hundred milliseconds. Before it had time to complete, our system verification software examined state and aborted.

Our simulations done beforehand all passed, because the simulator did not account for a hardware driven delay in the transition. We considered putting the vehicle into a safe state yesterday and updating the ground control software to make the very minor fix needed, but the safer course of action was to stand down.

Yesterday afternoon and evening (Kwaj time), our launch team updated the software to address the timing issue and verified that there were no similar problems elsewhere. We ran the software through several simulated countdowns and then once again with the rocket and range in the loop."

Editor's 19 March update: SpaceX has decided to scrub for today. The turn around willl be 24 hours.

Editor's update: Just a minute before launch SpaceX declared a "terminal count abort". No cause yet given. A launch might still be possible today.

Editor's update: Launch was delayed when a data link between the launch site and SpaceX offices in El Segundo was not operating properly. This link has been re-established and the launch is now slated for around 7:45 pm EDT this evening. While it was not technically required i.e. not mission critical for the launch to proceed, SpaceX felt it was important that folks in El Segundo be able to see all the data.

SpaceX Falcon 1 Demoflight 2 Update 16 March 2007, SpaceX (with video of static Firing)

"At present, it appears that we are on track for a launch next week, possibly as soon as Monday. We had a very successful static fire yesterday that proceeded smoothly with no aborts. Our initial review of the data showed that the rocket functioned almost perfectly. The only remaining concern is that the GPS portion of the guidance system showed an anomaly about 15 minutes *after* the static fire. Falcon 1 is designed to achieve its target orbit purely on inertial navigation, so the GPS, while helpful for improving orbit inseration accuracy, is not flight critical."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 20, 2007 11:55 PM.

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