The Space Show, hosted by David Livingston at www.TheSpaceShow.com, will have the following guests this week:
1. Monday, August 25, 2014, 2-3:30 PM PDT (21-22:30 GMT)
MICHAEL LISTNER, atty. returns for another space legal issue discussion.
Michael Listner is an attorney and the founder and principal of Space Law and Policy Solutions, a think tank and consultation firm that concentrates on legal and policy matters relating to outer space security, industry and development.
Michael hol [...]
Why does this galaxy have such a long tail? In this stunning vista, based on image data from the Hubble Legacy Archive, distant galaxies form a dramatic backdrop for disrupted spiral galaxy Arp 188, the Tadpole Galaxy. The cosmic tadpole is a mere 420 million light-years distant toward the northern constellation Draco.
Its eye-catching tail is about 280 thousand light-years long and features massive, bright blue star clusters. One story goes that a more compact intruder galaxy crossed in fro [...]
The vehicle SpaceX lost the other day has been described as a Falcon IX R with three engines. It is a bit intriguing to speculate on the purpose of three engines as opposed to the nine of the full up stage, or the one of the Grasshopper I.
The first and most likely thought is that more than one and less than nine are needed for the test flight profile. So three are required to do the job, but there is no financial sense in tying up, and possibly losing, six additional engines that are not required for this particular test program. The problem with that explanation for us in the peanut gallery is that it is boring and gives us nothing to speculate about.
An explanation that I find more fun and interesting is that there might be a financial and technical case for a three engine Falcon. A shortening of the stack for the lighter vehicle would produce a lower profile for a possible reusable version. Landing on a barge at sea would be with a vehicle with far less bending moments that a full Falcon IX stage. It seems possible that such a vehicle could land (barge) in a much heavier sea state than the larger vehicle. If that is a actual possibility, then Falcon III boosters could be attached to a Falcon IX stack with very low costs per mission if the mini boosters could be reused quickly and often.
Even a first take on such an arrangement yields some suggestive possibilities. A 66% increase in take off thrust would allow as much as 66% more take off mass and slightly more than that increase in payload with the additional staging event. With cross-feed, the Falcon III stages would drop off at under a minute and a half, barely supersonic, and fairly close to the launch site for a quick booster RTLS. The fully fueled Falcon IX would be in near vacuum conditions by that time with the considerable gain in Isp compared to a ground launch. A payload gain of over 2/3 for minimal cost could not be ignored if technically feasible.
For flights where the basic Falcon IX has enough performance to do the primary mission, but not enough for any recovery options, the Falcon III boosters could up the propellant reserve to allow core stage recovery. Small, quick turn around boosters enabling the recovery of a core for certain missions would be a nearly slam dunk decision if technically feasible.
For some Falcon IX missions, a Falcon III heavy could possibly deliver a bit more payload with the same number of engines. The engines being one of the major expense items could make not requiring more of them a sound business decision if the staging events become safe and routine enough. The extra payload would come from the same nine engines powering the stack for the first couple of minute as the normal Falcon IX, after which the two boosters drop off with the consequent dead mass reduction for the remaining stage. The remaining Falcon III would have the same velocity and remaining propellant as the base Falcon IX at this point, but would be boosting 1/3 of the engine and tank mass along with the upper stage and payload.
Last thought is on the difficulty of RTLS of stages entering from far down range. A barge landing is often mentioned, virtually always coupled with the words “good sea state” in some manner. This means that barge recovery is permanently dependent on the sea not being too rough. Some missions could be delayed by days or weeks to let the waves subside from a previous storm. Some whole seasons could be off limits if the recovery is sensitive enough.
The helicopter recovery I suggested a couple of years back might bear revisiting for lighter stages. The major objection to snagging a Falcon IX core in the air with a helicopter and flying it back to launch site was the excessive weight of the stage. A Falcon III stage might be air recoverable in a way the the Falcon IX stage could not be.
What's that dot on the Sun? If you look closely, it is almost perfectly round. The dot is the result of an unusual type of solar eclipse that occurred in 2006. Usually it is the Earth's Moon that eclipses the Sun. This time, the planet Mercury took a turn. Like the approach to New Moon before a solar eclipse, the phase of Mercury became a continually thinner crescent as the planet progressed toward an alignment with the Sun.
Eventually the phase of Mercury dropped to zero and the dark spot o [...]
In the trade they call it a rapid unplanned disassembly, or a RUD. That’s an explosion, to us lay people.
It happened in the sky over the SpaceX proving ground in McGregor, Texas, when a flight computer detected a problem in an unmanned reusable booster undergoing flight test. The flight termination system, i.e., explosives designed to blow up a wayward rocket, automatically triggered to keep fallout in the safe zone.
From CEO Elon Musk via Twitter yesterday:
Aug 22, 8:24pm via Twitter for iPhone
Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky …
I wish I could have been there in the control room to see the reactions of the engineers conducting the test, to hear their frustration and the ad hoc post-test analysis. To see them pick up the pieces in preparation for running the numbers to find out what, exactly, went wrong with their rocket, to feel their determination firsthand to rebuild and fly again as soon as humanly possible.
That’s the kind of thing I had hoped to capture in an article that was assigned to me by a major aerospace magazine back in March. It’s those details—the tense excitement turned to confusion when a rocket unexpectedly quits, turned to anguish when a computer in its cold, split-second judgement turns months of labor into a fireball and scrap metal—and the unstoppable drive to keep pushing upward and outward, no matter what, that brings a story like this to life.
The average person couldn’t care less about rockets or reaching space, or how life on planet Earth will change because of it. That’s because the average person can’t connect with aluminum and kerosene and liquid oxygen. To the average person these are cold, dirty, potentially dangerous things.
But human beings in a control room, people driven since childhood to realize the dreams of their grandfathers’ generation, right goddamn now, and the commitment try and try and try again until they succeed—now that’s a story most people can get into. People inspire people, especially in the midst of adversity. It’s in adversity that one’s mettle is tested and shines through. Rockets break. The creative, inspired, hard-charging minds at SpaceX don’t.
That’s the story I wanted to tell. But the scrappy rocket startup trying to get noticed that invited me to roam its shop floor and sit in the control room for a rocket test accompanied by nothing but a camera and a recorder is no more. In its place is a big company with a lot at stake. And, like other big companies with much to lose, it seeks tight control over its media imprint. That means among other things, apparently, no more free-range visits by independent journalists.
I don’t expect this mishap to change the situation. Which, really, is a shame.
On August 22, 2014, at 9:27 am local time in French Guiana, a Soyuz ST rocket lifted off with the first two satellites in the Galileo constellation.
The liftoff and first part of the mission proceeded nominally, leading to release of the satellites according to the planned timetable, and reception of signals from the satellites. It was only a certain time after the separation of the satellites that the ongoing analysis of the data provided by the telemetry stations operated by the European Sp [...]
Following the announcement made by Arianespace on the anomalies of the orbit injection of the Galileo satellites, the teams of industries and agencies involved in the early operations of the satellites are investigating the potential implications on the mission.
Both satellites have been acquired and are safely controlled and operated from ESOC, ESA’s Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
Further information on the status of the satellites will be made available after the prelimi [...]