Three minutes until launch of Space-X’s CRS-16

December 5, 2018 • 12:14 pm

This rocket will resupply the International Space Station. Watch NOW! If you missed the launch (successful so far), the booster is going to do the patented Space-X vertical recovery at Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, December 5 for the launch of its sixteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-16) to the International Space Station. Liftoff is targeted for 1:16 p.m. EST, or 18:16 UTC, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Dragon will be filled with more than 5,600 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur onboard the orbiting laboratory. The Dragon spacecraft that will support the CRS-16 mission previously supported the CRS-10 mission in February 2017.

Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

It looks as if the booster fell into the sea instead of landing neatly and recover-ably, but they cut off the cameras right before that happened. Not fair!

h/t: Grania

27 thoughts on “Three minutes until launch of Space-X’s CRS-16

  1. When we saw the first stage start spinning, you know something was going wrong. Still, I would have liked to have seen it. Censorship! Though I suspect the “water landing” will make it to YouTube eventually.

  2. The payload looks to be on target. As soon as first stage began to wobble it looked doomed. I hope and expect they’ll find the cause and fix it.

    1. I didn’t go back and look but I got the impression that one of the air brakes had rotated to its limit and was producing the spin. Of course, it could also have been a reaction to the spin whose purpose was to correct it. Which of those should be easy to tell based on which way it is tilted. Or we can wait for the official explanation and video.

  3. Apparently it was a grid fin failure. SpaceX says the hydraulic pump that controls one of the grid fins failed. Amazingly the booster still managed a soft landing, though in the water of course. It is still transmitting and “appears to otherwise be undamaged.” Meaning, I guess, that what telemetry they are receiving from it doesn’t show any failures or damage other than the grid fin hydraulic pump. But landing in salt water has got to be quite the mess to clean up.

    Here is a clip of the landing posted in a CBS article.

    SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-16 Landing failure. (Landed in water)

    1. But landing in salt water has got to be quite the mess to clean up.

      I’m sure it is. But on the other hand there are at least two North Sea helicopter airframes which have been pulled out of the water, stripped for the crash investigation, then re-inspected and recertified for airworthiness. The sub-text is – it’s still cheaper than new-build.
      I would be utterly unsurprised to learn that there are airliners which have done the same. To get a low-impact landing on water, you’re pretty much defining the CFIT (controlled Flight Into Terrain – a necessary but deeply unpleasant concept) as being on approach to landing (or immediately after take off) at a coastal airport.

        1. Yes, I believe that you’re right in that it had been used twice already.
          OTOH, that makes it doubly valuable, on the “Ford kingpins” principle. If they can find the problems, repair what is necessary, re-furbish the rest, then re-launch with a “disposable” payload (another car, whatever) they’re in a relatively good position to find the next-weakest link. Lather, rinse, repeat until something breaks, big-style.

        2. I’m not sure. I know the F-9 that launched from Vandenberg on Monday had been previously launched 2 times. I think this launch must have been a new booster because all the block-4 boosters are out of service and the block-5 that launched for the 3rd time on Monday was the first block-5 booster to enter service and there haven’t been very many block-5 launches.

          Heck, why don’t I just check?

          Yep, this booster was brand spanking new.

    2. A landing in salt water, I believe, is equivalent to crashing and exploding. Salt water makes the rocket engines useless. Corrosion of parts that have very tight tolerances to begin with is the death knell.

      1. Probably not quite that bad, but I’m not sure. I think you are probably right about systems like the engines. If salt water got into the engines they are probably not worth anything but scrap. But as Aidan mentioned above the basic structure of the booster is probably worth salvaging.

        I’m very interested to hear more about the condition of this booster and if any of it is salvaged for further use. Rather than a negative I think this mishap is rather impressive. It demonstrates some resiliency in a complex system in circumstances in which graceful, or survivable, failure modes are hard to achieve. Heck, if people had been on board they would have been fine.

        1. Agreed. The fact that she righted herself at the last minute is a sign of a robust design. She might well have landed properly if there was a solid surface below.

  4. I didn’t note the source (TechCrunch, or Gizmodo, or one of those sites), but I saw a report at lunchtime that the Dragon capsules have a problem with something – probably their paint – sweating enough unspecified gunk that it is detectably coating contamination sensors on some of the Earth Observing instruments on the ISS. Fortunately, at the moment the instruments are being “shuttered” before the Dragon enters ISS orbit, but that they don’t know (yet) what is doing the sweating … well that’s not good.

      1. I don’t think so in this case. There was damage to one of the vanes and yet the booster actually managed to land OK, it was just, unfortunately, on water. It was undamaged apparently and could still be reused. Furthermore, the payload was safely delivered into orbit.

    1. They still didn’t say what exactly caused the hydraulics to “stall”. Even if adding redundancy to the hydraulic system is part of the solution, they would still want to address the ultimate cause of the failure. I’m no hydraulics engineer, but I doubt “stall” has any real meaning beyond “broken”.

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