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Mission Thread: SPX-1 Dragon ISS resupply

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It's almost un-fathomable to think that an object of that size , moving at that speed , is able to be monitored and controlled with such speed , to correct what could have been a devistating event . Ahh technology ! (Y)

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So let me get this right. One of the engines blew up but the rocket was able to keep going and it made it to orbit and everything including the capsule is on course as planned? really? I can't get my head around it? Wow amazing if I understand this correctly?

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Yup - Falcon 9 can survive such an event.

We'll see about the actual cause of the flameout, but under some circumstances F9 can actually lose two engines. Tough bird.

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Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night?s launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket?s nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9?s other eight engines were impacted by this event.

As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon?s entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.

Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission.

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Would that be the cone shaped nozzle thing ?

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Yeah, the semi-conical fairings at the corners pf the 3x3 engine grid. In the coming Falcon 9 v-1.1 these will be absent because of its octagonal + 1 center engine arrangement. It debuts 2 flights from now and will be much larger - this F9 was 157 feet tall and the v-1.1 bird will be 229 feet tall and have an all new engine.

Update;

SpaceX statement. No explosion, just a rather exciting shutdown sequence.

Of note: Apollo 6 lost 2 engines on its second stage and Apollo 13 lost the center engine of its first stage.

The Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station this morning and is performing nominally following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35PM ET Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Panels designed to relieve pressure within the engine bay were ejected to protect the stage and other engines. Our review of flight data indicates that neither the rocket stage nor any of the other eight engines were negatively affected by this event.

As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon's entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.

Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V (which experienced engine loss on two flights) and modern airliners, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission. No other rocket currently flying has this ability.

It is worth noting that Falcon 9 shuts down two of its engines to limit acceleration to 5 g's even on a fully nominal flight. The rocket could therefore have lost another engine and still completed its mission.

We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the following weeks, the crew will unload Dragon's payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for October 28.

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Update on the engine failure says that its fuel dome cracked or perforated. This is analogous to a car engine suffering a cracked or prrforated cylinder head vs. a blown engine where the block fractures and the bolts let go.

The gases leaked ny the fuel dome caused the combustion chamber pressure drop that triggered the engine shutdown, and these same gases caused a pressure increase in the #1 engines bay that caused the safety panels to be jettisoned to reduce said pressure - just as they were supposed to do.

So, this was not an engine explosion but a series of safety mechanisms doing what they were supposed to do.

In this wireframe of the Merlin engine the fuel dome is the larger red portion at the top of the blue combustion chamber.

aa78b394999ce40837b114a0b6357678.jpg

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Current NASA TV timings:

October 10, Wednesday

4 a.m. - Coverage of the Grapple of the SpaceX/Dragon CRS-1 at the International Space Station (Grapple scheduled at 7:22 a.m. ET) - JSC (All Channels)

9:15 a.m. - Coverage of the Berthing of the SpaceX/Dragon CRS-1 to the International Space Station (Berthing begins at 9:40 a.m. ET) - JSC (All Channels)

All times Eastern

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CRS-1 now berthed at ISS

NASA designates the ship as Dragon-1

10dragoncaptured_400x258.jpg

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Dragon CRS-1/SPX-1 has safely returned to Earth, and so close to the recovery ship SpaceX tweeted this just after splashdown -

If we keep landing this precisely, we're going to have to start issuing the recovery team titanium umbrellas. #Dragon

NASA press release -

RELEASE: 12-381

SPACEX DRAGON RETURNS FROM SPACE STATION WITH NASA CARGO

HOUSTON -- A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.

"With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Just a little over one year after we retired the Space Shuttle, we have completed the first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Not with a government owned and operated system, but rather with one built by a private firm -- an American company that is creating jobs and helping keep the U.S. the world leader in space as we transition to the next exciting chapter in exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible."

The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a GLACIER freezer packed with research samples collected in the orbiting laboratory's unique microgravity environment. These samples will help advance multiple scientific disciplines on Earth and provide critical data on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and will be tremendously beneficial to the station's research community. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for analysis.

The Dragon launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on Oct. 7. It carried 882 pounds of cargo to the complex, including 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390 pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several pounds of other supplies. This included critical materials to support 166 scientific investigations, of which 63 were new. Returning with the Dragon capsule was 1,673 pounds of cargo, including 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, and 518 pounds of hardware.

The mission was the first of at least 12 cargo resupply missions to the space station planned by SpaceX through 2016 under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Orbital Sciences is the other company participating in COTS. A demonstration flight of Orbital's Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the station is planned in early 2013.

NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency's Commercial Crew Program are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In addition to cargo flights, NASA's commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next 5 years.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance these commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible fo launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information about NASA's commercial space programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial

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