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Anomaly Triggers Self-Destruct For SpaceX Falcon 9 Test Flight 113

Posted by timothy
from the fly-up-go-boom dept.
SpaceMika (867804) writes "A SpaceX test flight at the McGregor test facility ended explosively on Friday afternoon. A test flight of a three-engine Falcon 9 Dev1 reusable rocket ended in a rapid unscheduled disassembly after an unspecified anomaly triggered the Flight Termination System, destroying the rocket. No injuries were reported." Update: 08/23 13:33 GMT by T : Space.com has video.
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Anomaly Triggers Self-Destruct For SpaceX Falcon 9 Test Flight

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  • So it works then? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EzInKy (115248) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:31AM (#47735757)

    Good on them for making the self-destruct such a high priority!

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:40AM (#47735797)

      Actually, yes, I'd consider that a major display of responsibility. The very last thing I'd want a rocket to do when it goes out of control is to choose its own place to go kaboom. And yes, even for a manned rocket.

      • Exactly! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by EzInKy (115248) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:54AM (#47735849)

        This really moves SpaceX up in my estimation as well. Until now, I pictured private space flight as focusing only on making profits, not sacrificing dollars in order to protect people around them. Maybe the privatization of space flight has a future after all!

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          ...

          Do you think this wasn't mandated as part of them getting approval to launch in the first place? If so you're pretty naive.

          They do have oversight you know, they don't just get to do whatever they want.

      • by Brianwa (692565)
        There is a (somewhat disturbing) video of such a failure in China in the 90's. Apparently the "official" death toll was 6 but rumors range as high as 900 fatalities.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJ9ue6GKek [youtube.com]

    • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:55AM (#47735855)
      Had this been a NASA test, or maybe a DOD test, it more likely would have been billed as a blatant failure. This article goes a bit out of its way to remind us this 'its a good thing to learn' this way.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Good on them for making the self-destruct such a high priority!

      First first of all it's mandatory, otherwise they couldn't fly at all. It actually took them some time to get FAA/UASF approval. And when you have tanks full of LOX/RP-1, it's not exactly like they need C4 to blow it up, a glorified radio controlled lighter spark should do it.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        its probably harder than you think. you need the LOX and RP-1 to mix first. A spark in the kero tank would do nothing and the LOX tank likley dosen't have anything flabbable in it so a spark might not have too much effect there either
    • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @08:03AM (#47735889)
      I love that reaction - "they fucked up - but they did it so well!"

      At least I don't have to ask what you think of Fukushima. :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      So all this time we've been calling Elon Musk Ironman, but he's really Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

    • This is good to see right now. But if commercial space flight ever became a thing like... say the airline industry (and yes they do have a pretty good track record but it's not amazingly stellar...) than the large companies and number/need of the industry/service would out way and overshadow most peoples individual legal complains.

      Most likely people might be compensated by their standard, sorry, we blew up your family, but our rocket was really well insured, package.

  • it's the things that make you go boooom...

    robby rob break it down...

  • by lesincompetent (2836253) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:45AM (#47735815)
    "rapid unscheduled disassembly"
    Talk about an understatement!
    George Carlin would have gone mad about that nugget.
  • They'll have to refer to it as a "Falcon 9 Dev1 (hopefully) reusable rocket" now. I like their NASA-like spin too - an "anomaly" caused the mission to be "auto-terminated". Stuff happens when you're trying to control that much energy, they'll get there.
  • I read a post on this somewhere that the mission was auto-terminated. The way the spokeperson said it made it sound as if it things were detected that meant it blew itself up. ... or was this spin?
    • by robbak (775424) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @08:28AM (#47735977) Homepage

      That's pretty much it. The on-board computers detected that the rockets attitude or location was out of limits, so it triggered some explosive detcord fixed against the fuel and lox tanks, tearing them open, so that the rocket safely disintegrates.

      I notice from the video that the destruction is done in a way that doesn't mix the LOX and fuel together - you can see the Cold Lox falling away and the ignited cloud of burning RP1 floating higher. Really nice bit of design I hadn't thought of.

  • Was it a wormholr? A cloaked Romulan ship?

    We'd better scan the area thoroughly before sending anything else up.

  • "The world will pay me one gazillion dollars or I will unleash a rapid unscheduled disassembly upon the moon!!!!"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is a better video here [youtube.com].

  • SpaceX has been suing the government to be able to bid on launching military satellites. Will this hurt their chances of getting access to that market?

    • Unlikely. The full Falcon 9 has a good track record so far. Few rocket programs don't have at least one or two explosions along the way (and some have many more).

    • by cjameshuff (624879) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:20PM (#47737443) Homepage

      This was a modified Falcon 9 first stage with only 3 engines and no second stage, put together as a testbed for developing the landing capabilities. It launches off support blocks on a concrete foundation instead of a full launch pad, does various maneuvers, and lands on bare concrete right next to the launch site.

      It wasn't an orbital launch of a standard vehicle, it was a test flight with heavily modified experimental hardware and software operating under rather unusual conditions, so it really shouldn't impact other things like their attempts to compete for military launches...the actual Falcon 9 launches have actually all gone without losing a single vehicle, though there have been some minor failures and one somewhat exciting unplanned demonstration of the engine-out capability. Attempting to hold tests to the same standards as launches would be quite foolish, deterring companies from performing those tests...definitely not the desired outcome.

  • So that's both CopSub and SpaceX having a boo-boo thing month - coinkidink?

  • YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!

    (this text brought to you by the Lameness filter, which wishes to remind you that using too many caps is like yelling)

  • Q: Did a black hole appear inside the rocket housing during flight?
    A: No

    Q: Did Earths gravimetric field temporally invert?
    A: No

    Then its not an Anomaly.

    Its more likely a software bug with the termination system, or, faulty internal sensors which triggered it.
    Sigh.... It aint rocket science! ;)

    • by neminem (561346)

      Quoth:
      aÂnomÂaÂly
      É(TM)ËnÃmÉ(TM)lÄ"/
      noun
      Something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.

      I'd say a rocket exploding for no good reason is definitely a bug, but also pretty freaking unexpected.

      • by neminem (561346)

        Seriously, slashdot, wtf? It's 2014, you're nominally a tech site for geeks, and you still don't support unicode characters? That should be a basic requirement of all websites at this point.

  • Anyone else read this as the "MacGyver" test facility?

    I like my version better.

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