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NASA ISS

NASA To Send SpaceX Resupply Capsule To ISS Despite Technical Problems 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-must-go-on dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite a critical backup computer failing on the ISS Friday, an unmanned SpaceX rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral at 4:58 p.m. Monday with more than 2 tons of supplies for the space station. From the article: 'The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration decided to proceed with its resupply mission, despite technical problems with its computer in the International Space Station (ISS), as it needed to deliver necessary supplies.'"
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NASA To Send SpaceX Resupply Capsule To ISS Despite Technical Problems

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  • by the_skywise (189793) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:02AM (#46747551)

    There's some risk involved but missing the launch window for supplies could be a greater risk (and spoilage time, etc;)

    • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:23AM (#46747761)

      Yes. The "obstacle" causing the delay was a problem with a backup unit, while the primary is still functioning fine. They had originally scheduled a spacewalk to fix the backup, but presumably, in the event of a failure, they could just "park" the Dragon a convenient orbit to await repairs. So they're better off launching now instead of waiting for the repairs.

      Sounds good to me... I just want to see another Falcon fly... ;-)

      And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

      • And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

        I've seen the footage of their initial propulsive tests (awesome) but had not realised they were planning a full blown test following a proper mission so soon. Really looking forward to seeing that!

        • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:46AM (#46747993)

          IIRC, they're not trying to land this 1st stage on land, instead they're going for a "soft splashdown" in the ocean. But if they get good "numbers" from this attempt, they will probably try a "dry" landing in the near future.

          • Ah, ok, that makes good sense. Hopefully it all goes well and we'll see a dry, and soft, landing soon.

          • by Megane (129182) on Monday April 14, 2014 @11:26AM (#46748363) Homepage
            I think they also want to try to recover the stage. Normally they break up because of the stress of sub-orbital re-entry or from hitting the water. (The Shuttle SRBs were designed to take the stress of splashdown.) If this works, it would stop and hover just above the water, then cut out the engines and flop over. This one might not be reusable thanks to salt water, but this is only one test on the way to the final goal.
            • ...which is, of course, the elimination of the moon people.

              • ...which is, of course, the elimination of the moon people.

                What did they ever do to you to deserve annihilation?

                • by Dishevel (1105119)
                  they are Moon people. Not Earth people. Kill em all I say.
                • by Megane (129182)
                  They terrorized Boston. [wikipedia.org]
                  • "Investigators were not mollified by the discovery that the devices were not explosive in nature, stating they still intended to determine "if this event was a hoax or something else entirely". Though city prosecutors eventually concluded there was no ill intent involved in the placing of the ads, the city continues to refer to the event as a "bomb hoax" rather than a "scare"."

                    Hmm.. yes, marketing pretty much == terrorism. .. but what the investigators really meant was: "fuck it--we wanna blow something

            • Last launch was also a test of the recoverable first stage. No landing legs last time, though. First stage came down, but when it began hover, it spun out of control.

              SpaceX theorized that if it had had the landing legs to stabilize it, it wouldn't have augured in, so they're repeating the test with landing legs. It's still going to dump into the ocean, but hopefully it'll hover properly before they dump it.

              If things go well this time, next launch should be the recover the first stage on land test. Whi

          • FYI they wanted to recover but had difficulty getting permits to do so seeing as this is the first time ever. The agreement reached was if they can do it over water first, then allowed to do land next.

            It's important to realize they're attempting to land a rocket backwards, which requires carrying extra fuel, which means if something went wrong on landing, there would be a rocket full of propulsives out of control landing somewhere in FL or CA.

            • by Calinous (985536)

              They must have extra fuel due to the "launch with only 8 out of 9 engines working" - when flying with 8 engines, they need more fuel to accelerate as they have lower impulse. Also, the engines' output might vary somewhat, so they most certainly have excess fuel. I'm not sure if all this excess fuel is enough for a successful landing or they might need more...

      • by idji (984038)
        I just want to see the Falcon land!!!
      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        And if I'm not mistaken, this next flight will also be their first attempt to recover the first stage by propulsive landing. Demonstrating such a capability would be a game changer in itself.

        My understanding is that they're going to attempt to "land" the first stage on the ocean surface. If it works as intended the stage will hit the water at low speed and it will be perfectly vertical at the time of impact, which would then indicate that they could have landed it on dry land if they had tried.

      • by necro81 (917438)

        presumably, in the event of a failure, they could just "park" the Dragon a convenient orbit

        It's an operational hassle, to be sure, but I wonder if part of Elon Musk is hoping for just that opportunity. The Dragon capsule gets more flight time, and the chance to demonstrate significant orbital changes, start/restart of the engines - all on NASA's dime!

    • Prolly cause Obama doesn't want NASA to play with the Ruskies anymore.
      • by mmell (832646)
        Unfortunately, he doesn't have a choice - unless he can find enough spare parts to get an STS (shuttle) flying again in the next few days.

        Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          "Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?"

          Because they broke up and killed their crew one time in sixty, were getting on for forty years old, and required major overhauls if they were to continue flying. Not to mention that the engineers who actually designed them had mostly retired.

          • Because they broke up and killed their crew one time in sixty

            Yeah, we wanted something more reliable, like the Soyuz, which only killed the crew twice in 120 flights, and failed its mission only nine other times in 120 flights.

            Unlike the Shuttle, which killed its crew twice in 135 missions, and failed its mission no other times in 135 missions....

        • It was a catch-22 situation, philosophically Democrats hate the Industrial-Millitary complex, and philosophically Democrats, (like most Americans) support the troops. It's pretty hard to hurt the Industrial-Millitary complex without hurting the troops, yet NASA is a pretty good suragate for the Industrial-Millitary complex as a lot of the subcontractors are the same and no troops to worry about. Of course I'm probably giving too much credit and they really were that stupid.

          • Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

            It was a catch-22 situation, philosophically Democrats hate the

            What do the Democrats have to do with cancellation of the shuttle?

            The program was cancelled under Bush; NASA stopped ordering parts, production was shut down. And Bush supported the Constellation abomination, even though it went completely against his own plan's (VSE's) guiding principles, drastically delayed any shuttle replacement, was inherently unsafe, and... argh... Anyway, Obama added an extra shuttle flight to extend the program, using up the last reserves of parts, and tried to end Constellation and

        • Because another one blew up, and that replacement technology probably wouldn't be ready before the sun turns red giant.

        • Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

          Because NASA's primary contractors couldn't design a simple light-weight Soyuz-like capsule to go on Atlas V for less than a couple of billion dollars and 4 years development.

          And they couldn't design Version 2 of the Shuttle without turning it into a ridiculous beyond-the-bleeding-edge SSTO wank-fantasy (NASP/VentureStar/DeltaClipper...) Every time NASA got permission/funding to develop a Shuttle replacement, they screwed it up. Over the last 30 years, they lost so much engineering experience, they couldn't

          • by sjames (1099)

            Congress repeatedly dangling funding in front of them then pulling it away when they reach for it repeatedly didn't help.

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:04AM (#46747563)

    despite technical problems

    Well... there are "technical problems." and there are "TECHNICAL PROBLEMS!!!! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      To put a finer point on the above. There are "technical problems" and then there are problems from lack of supplies.

      Hopefully this episode of "go fever" is from a valid risk v. benefit calculations and not from the need to demonstrate some independence from Russia to congress.

    • by Megane (129182)
      I'm sure it's just the AE35 unit again. Give it a good whack with a hammer and it'll be fine.
  • I wonder how confident they are of a successful launch, given that they've never launched with the 'production' landing legs attached (albeit, stowed for the ride uphill). NASA probably doesn't care if the first stage shreds itself upon reentry, but they'll care all right, if the landing leg interferes with the launch somehow...

  • It's almost as if the problem doesn't prevent them from taking remedial actions!

  • But I sure wouldn't want to be the guy who insisted the operation proceed if it does not.

    Should we suppose they are sophisticated enough at this stage in the game to have already assigned the mission task for designated scapegoat?

    • by sjames (1099)

      There's not a lot to go wrong here that can't be corrected. Other than the usual stuff all missions to ISS face.

  • "Wel'll just pay Russa for flights and save money. What could possibly go wrong?"

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:28AM (#46747815) Homepage Journal
    please note, the technical problems are on the ISS and have noting to do with any Space X equipment.
    • by jfengel (409917)

      Thanks. The summary has a spectacularly ambiguous pronoun.

  • If there are no signals from NASA that it can financially support the ISS past 202* SpaceX (and others?) may bail because of the unsecure business future.
    • Well if NASA can't keep a spacestation in orbit, there's a company here in Las Vegas that CAN! Bigelow Aerospace has had two structures in orbit since 2006-2007. Genesis I was launched in 2006 and Genesis II was launched in 2007, and they're both still up there sending back video to the Bigelow ops center in North Las Vegas.. Bigelow has a project called BEAM that will attach another module to the ISS, scheduled to launch on SpaceX's CRS Mission 8, in mid 2015.

      www.bigelowaerospace.com

  • How can a problem with a backup computer on the ISS impact supply delivery by a SpaceX capsule from Earth?

    • This computer is more than 10 years old and served as a back-up for the railcar of the robot arm, the thermal cooling system, solar-wing rotating joints, and more.

      Not sure what's meant by "the railcar of the robot arm," but if I remember correctly the arm is used to capture and dock the supply capsule, and doing so without a backup computer might be considered a bit risky, considering the location where all of this is due to happen.

    • by Megane (129182)
      Because if the main computer goes out after the launch and before the docking, with the backup already broken, things could get a bit... intense... up there. Since it controls external stuff like the rail car, they really just need to get everything moved where it needs to be ahead of time.
  • I want more stories about critical backup units. I don't like plain non-critical backups, or redundant systems, or backups of critical systems, just critical backups.

  • What are back ups?
  • by Megane (129182) on Monday April 14, 2014 @04:08PM (#46750971) Homepage
    There was a helium leak in the first stage. Next launch opportunity is Friday afternoon. I've been wanting to see this thing go up for weeks. First it was sewing machine oil on some cloth around the cargo, then it was the ground radar on fire, now it's a leak. The only good thing about this is that Friday is a holiday day for me, so I can actually watch the launch live. (or watch it get scrubbed again live)
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Space launches are tricky! SpaceX has an excellent mission success record so far, but a lot of that is because they're really, really careful around things that could cause a failure (distinct from an abort).

      It's disappointing for sure, but it beats having a rocket blow up or lose control in orbit or something. That probably will happen eventually, but with any luck there will be a long-established safety record by then.

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