SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter Monday (Feb. 12) to share some new particulars on final week’s Falcon Heavy take a look at flight, together with why the large rocket’s core booster crashed. SpaceX can also be constructing a brand new drone ship for rocket landings at sea, he added.
When SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy blasted off last Tuesday (Feb. 6) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A in Florida, the rocket’s three first-stage boosters had been anticipated to return to Earth and land very like the corporate’s Falcon 9 rocket levels. The Falcon Heavy’s two aspect boosters landed efficiently (and concurrently) on twin pads on the close by Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, however the center core crashed and burned.
That core booster, which was anticipated to land offshore on SpaceX’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You,” crashed when two of three engines didn’t fireplace throughout a remaining touchdown burn, Musk informed reporters after the launch.
On Monday, we realized a bit extra in Musk’s Twitter posts. The two engines didn’t fireplace as a result of they ran out of ignition fluid, Musk stated.
“Not sufficient ignition fluid to gentle the outer two engines after a number of three engine relights,” Musk wrote. “Fix is fairly apparent.”
That suggests a repair would possibly contain merely including extra ignition fluid, although Musk didn’t elaborate.
Musk did share one tantalizing tidbit about future Falcon Heavy booster landings: SpaceX is building a third drone ship for offshore rocket landings.
Its title? “A Shortfall of Gravitas.”
The ship seems to be named in honor of the fictional spaceship “Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall” within the science fiction books “Look to Windward” and “Matter” by the late writer Iain M. Banks. SpaceX’s different two drone ships —”Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read The Instructions” — are also named for ships mentioned in Banks’ Culture novels.
“A Shortfall of Gravitas” is below building now and can be part of “Of Course I Still Love You” in Florida to assist offshore landings of Falcon Heavy aspect boosters, Musk wrote. “Just Read The Instructions” is used for Falcon 9 landings after launches from SpaceX’s pad at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
SpaceX has additionally constructed one other ship with large metallic arms to catch the protecting payload fairings (or nostril cone halves) on its rockets earlier than they fall into the ocean. You can see a picture of it here. Musk has stated previously that SpaceX’s fairings cost about $5 million, so catching them for reuse could possibly be a major financial savings.
“It’s like an enormous catcher’s mitt, in boat type,” Musk informed reporters after the Falcon Heavy launch. SpaceX might attempt to seize a falling Falcon rocket fairing someday this yr, he added.
In the meantime, SpaceX nonetheless has a full slate of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches on faucet in 2018. The firm’s subsequent launch is scheduled for Saturday (Feb. 17) from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It will use a Falcon 9 rocket to launch the Paz Earth monitoring satellite tv for pc into orbit for Spain.
At least two extra Falcon Heavy missions are on the docket for this yr, together with the numerous Falcon 9 missions for satellite tv for pc prospects and NASA, which makes use of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ships to ship provides to the International Space Station.
SpaceX can also be constructing a crewed model of Dragon to fly astronauts for NASA. The first take a look at flight of that ship on a Falcon 9 rocket can also be anticipated in 2018.