Reused first stage static fire dress rehearsal today


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Update: The countdown and static fire test has been completed, apparently successfully. The launch however is now set for Thursday.

SpaceX today plans to do the first static fire dress rehearsal countdown of a Falcon 9 rocket using an already used first stage.

The static fire process for SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket is one of the last critical components in the pre-launch flow ahead of liftoff. For SES-10, the Falcon 9 and mated second stage will be moved to the launch pad on top of the TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) and will be taken to vertical at historic launch complex 39A. Once the Falcon 9 is vertical, technicians and engineers will complete all of the connections between the TEL/launch mount and LC-39A and proceed into countdown operations on Monday morning.

For this particular static fire, SpaceX has up to an eight-hour window.

If all goes well, they plan to do the actual launch on Wednesday.

The article by the way also provides a nice detailed history of the first stage.

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13 comments

  • Des

    Fingers crossed that everything goes well, it will be fantastic to see a reused conventional rocket flying again.

    If you haven’t seen the Ars Technica article on SLS today it is well worth reading, NASA spends 72 cents of every SLS dollar on overhead costs!
    https://arstechnica.co.uk/science/2017/03/new-report-nasa-spends-72-cents-of-every-sls-dollar-on-overhead-costs/

    Very relevant to your recent policy paper.

  • John Broumas

    I have it on my calendar to watch from my front yard, but the way Florida launches have gone lately, I don’t thing this will happen on Wednesday.

  • Des: That article is a review of my policy paper.

    This is encouraging news. I have gotten the impression recently that my report was falling into a black hole, and that no one was reading it. This review says that my impression might be wrong.

  • LocalFluff

    I son’t like that they are “testing” with the payload aboard. A payload is supposed to survive a failed test, that’s the point with testing. A problem here is that Falcon 9 is horizontally integrated, which is impractical after an empty vertical test.

  • Alex

    @LocalFluff, off-topic but important: Hallo, a personal message to you: stand up, take a weapon and help to end the raping of your country by Moslems!

    View at 13 min:30 seconds in this video (40 working hours for rapping a child):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ieRY_gVy4E

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “A payload is supposed to survive a failed test, that’s the point with testing.

    A failed test is not supposed to end up with a rocket and payload on fire. The failure last year was an anomaly.

    Since the hardware has already been thoroughly tested, it is most likely that they are testing the procedures and how they interact with the ground support equipment. It was a problem with the process that resulted in the launch pad explosion, last year.

    As SpaceX moves operations to new launch pads, attempts to improve their operations, and works to further reduce costs while increasing capabilities, they are certainly making modifications to their procedures.

    I spent time writing assembly and test procedures, and even the simplest one, about three dozen steps, had issues that required modifications after the first three uses — these were issues that were related to the procedure, not the hardware. The first-use modifications were generally things that we had thought would be done one way but once the actual hardware was in hand we found that we had to do some things a bit differently. Other procedural issues we discovered during procedure execution included process improvements, that writing a step differently more accurately reflected actual use, or improved quality or safety.

    I have not written any launch procedures, but I imagine that there are several different procedures for various aspects of the preparations, launch, and mission. The totality of these procedures are certainly hundreds or thousands of pages long.

    I found this to help explain the static fire process:
    https://www.quora.com/Do-all-rockets-do-a-static-fire-test-before-launching

  • LocalFluff

    Alex,
    No no, I’m no martyr for the communist cowardice stupid Swedish people and their death wish! Now Swede even wants to try to fight for their own life. The islamists will very soon effortlessly exterminate the Swedish people and join the dozen small islamic state enclaves (the no-go zones, protected and financed by the Swedish government) together to a united Saudinavian province in the new global kalifat.

    That so called rape victim was with overwhelmingly probability a pro-islamists and wanted to be raped. Almost all young Swedish women are fanatic pro-islamists and they HATE all racists like you! Did she do anything to defend herself, like carry a gun? Has she taken revenge by killing the rapists? No! She shows no kind of will to live at all. Same rapists will rape her to death any day now as revenge for calling the police. They know that stupid Swedes abolished all punishment for all crimes 50 years ago. All Swedes think that was a very good idea and all of them have voted to keep that system ever since. Even today no one talks about re-introducing punishments for violent crimes.

    The Swedes don’t even make an attempt to defend themselves, so the islamists is the only side in this extermination war than CAN win. Swedes are so totally stupid that they buy any ridiculous lie. For example, all Swedes think that there exists no islam in the Gulf states. Because the Koran says, Swedes think, that no muslim is allowed to use violence. And since the Gulf states are so violently oppressive, per definition they are the most muslim free countries in the world.

    All Swedes hate themselves and think that they have no right to live because they themselves ARE HITLER! Swedes have no organization. No defense, no justice system, not even any kind of civil defense to handle for example food and medicine during a power outage. They love the Swedish government, because it takes the highest taxes in the world from the workers, which is a very very important identity if Goodness for all Swedes. But the Swedish state is owned by islamists and is the Swedes worst nightmare enemy. But all Swedes love weakness, failure, defeat and ultimately any year now self-extermination.

    Finally Swedes are coward, which means that they ALWAYS reward escalated violence against them. I pick my fight, and the Swedes are losing to 100%, because they want to lose.

  • LocalFluff

    @Eward,
    Yes, realistic launch testing is very nice to do. But only in a vertically payload integrated launcher, where you can do the test firing and THEN easily mount the payload. Soldiers don’t rehearse a raid by using live ammunition at each other. Can’t they make do with a horizontal firing test? I suppose this the first reused stage has been test fired quite a few times already anyway. The vertical test fire has caused SpaceX 50% of their payload losses thus far.

  • Richard M

    This is encouraging news. I have gotten the impression recently that my report was falling into a black hole, and that no one was reading it.

    I figured that if any one in the industry would pick it up, it would be Eric Berger, who has not been reluctant to cover the dark side of SLS/Orion. And sure enough, he took the ball and ran with it.

  • Alex

    @LocalFluff:

    I am terrified by the situation we both have to face in Western/Northern Europe! What shall we both do, which option do we have personally? Do you have plans to flee/move to another region of the world? Canada (world leader in political correctness) and USA seem to be also no option, may be some parts of USA as Montana for example (90% whites, mostly from German origin, some Indians). Maybe we are too old for such change.

  • Edward

    LocalFluff wrote: “But only in a vertically payload integrated launcher, where you can do the test firing and THEN easily mount the payload.

    That is one way to do it, but it misses the interfaces with the payload during the test. The customer can choose which way to do it, and customers are not so worried that the rocket is going to explode on the pad that they always want to miss the dress rehearsal.

    LocalFluff wrote: “Soldiers don’t rehearse a raid by using live ammunition at each other.

    Actually, they train with live ammunition:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vheRTqn2DN8 (1 minute)

    And they practice with live hand grenades, too.

    Several forms of training and rehearsal include live ammunition fired at animated targets.

    LocalFluff wrote: “Can’t they make do with a horizontal firing test?

    This is not a test of the engines. It is a rehearsal of the whole launch system under the best conditions possible, because tests and rehearsals should always be under the most realistic conditions possible. It includes the actual (not simulated) ground support equipment at the pad, telemetry systems, procedures, propellants, and pretty much everything up to the release of the clamps.

    Tests want to be performed as close to realistic conditions as possible, with as much of the actual hardware, software, and other items as possible, otherwise problems can be missed. It is why SapceX’s rehearsals fill the tanks with chilled fuel and oxidizer rather than at the warmer temperatures or rather than use something non-flammable, and why they light the engines rather than stop just short of lighting the engines.

    A horizontal firing misses most of what that they want to verify, and for liquid fuel rockets, the horizontal position can hamper some of the test objectives. I do not know how Falcon’s hypergolic ignition fuels are introduced into the combustion chamber to light the engine, but if it is gravity fed, then a horizontal ignition and rehearsal/test may fail.

    LocalFluff wrote: “The vertical test fire has caused SpaceX 50% of their payload losses thus far.

    The launch has caused the other 50%, but no one is suggesting that SpaceX skip that part of the process. Very few rockets explode on the launch pad before engine ignition at the end of the countdown. I can recall three: The Nedelin catastrophe (second stage ignited on the pad while workers were still working on the rocket), the 2003 Brazilian disaster (solid rocket motor ignited on the pad while workers were still working on the rocket), and SpaceX’s accident last year. I have a vague recollection of a fourth, but I cannot recall it at the moment. There was also the Apollo 1 capsule fire during a launch rehearsal test.

  • Alex

    @Edward: There was also a Soyuz launcher explosion/deflagration at launch pad caused by fueling failure/fire, at which S/C crew was rescued by the initiation of the rescue system/rocket.

  • Edward

    Alex wrote: “There was also a Soyuz launcher explosion/deflagration at launch pad caused by fueling failure/fire, at which S/C crew was rescued by the initiation of the rescue system/rocket.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_7K-ST_No._16L
    Ah, yes. I recall reading about this in Robert’s book “Leaving Earth.” The crew was headed for the Soviet space station Salyut 7.

    The above Wikipedia article says, “It is so far the only case in which a launch escape system has been fired with a crew aboard,” which I think is true for a human crew. However, I also recall that one of the US chimpanzee flights initiated its launch escape tower:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury-Redstone_2
    At 16:55 UTC the MR-2 lifted off. Computers reported one minute after launch, the flight path angle was at least one degree too high and rising. At two minutes, the computers predicted a 17 g (167 m/s²) acceleration. At 2 minutes 17 seconds into the flight, the liquid oxygen supply was depleted. The closed-loop abort system sensed a change in engine chamber pressure when the LOX supply was depleted and fired the launch escape system.

    It sounds as though the rocket was burning too much oxygen, which likely caused it to burn hot and could help explain the 17 g acceleration.

    We certainly have an interesting time getting rockets to work right, but then again, it is rocket science.

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