Orbital CRS-3 Update 11/03/2014

Over the weekend, Orbital confirmed the participation of the following individuals who will serve on the Antares launch failure Accident Investigation Board (AIB), which is being led by Orbital under the oversight of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The composition of the AIB is as follows:

Chairman

  • David Steffy, Chief Engineer of Orbital’s Advanced Programs Group

Members

  • David Swanson, Senior Director of Safety and Mission Assurance for Orbital’s Technical Operations organization
  • Wayne Hale, Independent Consultant and Former NASA Space Shuttle Program Manager
  • David Cooper, Member of Orbital’s Independent Readiness Review Team for the company’s Launch Systems Group
  • Eric Wood, Director of Propulsion Engineering for Orbital’s Launch Systems Group
  • Tom Costello, Launch Vehicle Assessment Manager in the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Matt Lacey, Senior Vehicle Systems Engineer for NASA’s Launch Services Program

FAA Oversight Team

  • Michael S. Kelly, Chief Engineer, FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation
  • Marcus Ward, Mishap Response Coordinator, FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation

Antares Data Review

The AIB is initially focused on developing a “fault tree” and a timeline of the important events during the launch sequence. Due to the large amount of data available, the AIB is able to work with a rich source of information about the launch. One of the initial tasks for the AIB is to reconcile the data from multiple sources, a process that is now underway, to help create the launch sequence timeline.

Launch Site Status

Over the weekend, Orbital’s Wallops-based Antares personnel continued to identify, catalogue, secure and geolocate debris found at the launch site in order to preserve physical evidence and provide a record of the launch site following the mishap that will be useful for the AIB’s analysis and determination of what caused the Antares launch failure. The debris is being taken to a NASA facility on Wallops Island for secure and weather resistant storage.

Orbital CRS-3 Update 10/31/2014

Antares Data Review

It is a travel day for the remainder of Orbital’s Antares data review team who were on site at Wallops Island supporting the initial “quick look” flight data evaluation on Wednesday and Thursday. At this point we believe the on-site data review process has progressed as far as necessary, so the team is transitioning back to their home bases. The Accident Investigation Board (AIB) Chairman, Mr. Dave Steffy, and members of the AIB that are now being identified, will immediately take over further development of the “fault tree” that will drive future investigation activities.

Launch Site Status

Today, the Wallops team continued to document and catalog the debris field. Yesterday’s focus was on clearing any potentially hazardous items. Current priorities are on finding, cataloging and securing any elements of the stage 1 propulsion system that will be of particular interest to the AIB, as well as any cargo that may be found at the site. The team’s goal is to complete that work today. With adverse weather predicted for the weekend, they do not want to lose any evidence or any of the intact cargo that survived the mishap. Orbital expects the process of cataloging and securing all the remaining debris to continue for several days.

CRS Go-Forward Plan

The company’s senior managers have begun developing a comprehensive plan to maintain the cargo supply line between Earth and the International Space Station, fulfilling Orbital’s commitment to NASA for the delivery of supplies for the astronaut crew, necessary equipment for the operation and maintenance of the station, and scientific experiments conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory. Details about Orbital’s approach for completing future missions under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA will be made public in the near future.

Our next update will be on Monday, November 3 to report on activities conducted during the weekend.

Orbital CRS-3 Update 10/30/2014

Launch Site Status:

Based on initial sweeps conducted by an Orbital safety team, it appears a significant amount of debris remains on the site and it is likely substantial hardware evidence will be available to aid in determining root cause of the Antares launch failure. Some of the Cygnus cargo has also been found and will be retrieved as soon as we have clearance to do so to see if any survived intact. After up close visual inspections by the safety team, it still appears the launch site itself avoided major damage. There is some evidence of damage to piping that runs between the fuel and commodity storage vessels and the launch mount, but no evidence of significant damage to either the storage vessels or launch mount. Detailed evaluations by MARS and their engineering team will occur in the next couple of days. An Orbital-led team has begun cataloging and documenting the location of all pieces of debris over the next several days after which the debris will be relocated to storage bays on the island for further evaluation.

Antares Data Review:

Telemetry data has been released to Orbital and our engineers presented a very quick look assessment to the Accident Investigation Board at the end of the day. It appears the Antares vehicle had a nominal pre-launch and launch sequence with no issues noted. All systems appeared to be performing nominally until approximately T+15 seconds at which point the failure occurred. Evidence suggests the failure initiated in the first stage after which the vehicle lost its propulsive capability and fell back to the ground impacting near, but not on, the launch pad. Prior to impacting the ground, the rocket’s Flight Termination System was engaged by the designated official in the Wallops Range Control Center.

Weekly Space Blog 5/30

Sea Launch successfully launches Eutelsat Satellite

The Zenit 3SL rocket lifts off from the Odyssey launch platform at 2110 GMT (5:10 p.m. EDT) Monday. Photo credit: Sea Launch
The Zenit 3SL rocket lifts off from the Odyssey launch platform at 2110 GMT (5:10 p.m. EDT) Monday. Photo credit: Sea Launch

Following a 15 month gap between mission’s Sea Launch returned on Monday to successfully launch a 6.6 ton Eutelsat 3B satellite.  The Zenit 3SL rocket lifted off successfully and following a nominal flight successfully deployed the satellite to orbit.

The communication’s satellite will now use it’s engine’s to transfer to it’s final operation orbit at 22,300 miles where it will serve markets in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Latin America.

Built by Airbus Defence and Space it carries 30 Ku-band, 12 C-band and nine Ka-band transponders which will allow it to broadcast television, internet and data services.

 

Mars Opportunity Update

Opportunity Explores Region of Aluminum Clay Minerals  – sols 3657-3662, May 08, 2014-May 13, 2014:

Opportunity is exploring south of ‘Solander Point’ on the west rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover is exploring the region of aluminum-hydroxyl clay minerals seen from orbit.

On Sol 3657 (May 8, 2014), Opportunity collected a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic of the surface outcrop, called ‘Ash Meadows,’ then placed the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) for a multi-sol integration. On Sol 3659 (May 10, 2014), the rover drove just under 85 feet (26 meters) to the east, approaching a region of extended outcrop as a possible site for clay minerals. Also, Opportunity tested the new two-second spacecraft clock correction sequence. Over the next two sols, the rover collected an atmospheric argon measurement with the APXS and performed two more one-second-clock corrections.

On Sol 3662 (May 13, 2014), Opportunity bumped 7 feet (2 meters) forward to approach an exposed rock outcrop for further in-situ (contact) investigation.

As of Sol 3662, the solar array energy production was 761 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.621, and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.964. Perfectly clean solar arrays would have a dust factor of 1.0, so the larger the dust factor, the cleaner the arrays.

Total odometry is 24.49 miles (39.41 kilometers).

NASA Releases book on Communicating with Aliens

Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence.

More information and links to the books can be found here.

SpaceX complete’s qualification of SuperDraco Thruster

SpaceX have completed qualification of their SuperDraco thruster after completing a series of hot fire tests.  The thruster will be incorporated in the second version of Dragon which was unveiled on Thursday this week, see my previous post on the unveiling.

Next Orbital Cygnus flight delayed

To allow Aerojet Rocketdyne more time to investigate the recent AJ26 engine failure during testing Orbital has announced that their next mission to ISS has been delayed to No Earlier Than (NET) June 17th.  A final launch date and time will be announced once the investigation has concluded and depending if there are any changes needed because of the investigation.

New Station Crew successfully launched

On Wednesday the next International Space Station (ISS) crew were successfully launched and six hours later docked to the station.  See my previous post for more details including images of the liftoff, docking and hatch opening.

And then there were two

With the arrival of the Cygnus spacecraft at the International Space Station the US now has two commercial suppliers to deliver cargo to the station.  Since the retirement of the shuttle and before SpaceX and Orbital Sciences the US was reliant on International Partners Russia, ESA and Japan to deliver cargo.

There are now five cargo vehicles available for the station, Cygnus, Dragon, Progress, European ATV and Japanese HTV.

Below are some images of the Cygnus arriving at the station taken from the NASA LiveStream feed.

Now we just need for Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems to complete their commercial crew vehicles and for NASA to have the funds to allow these to progress to actual flights and the station will once again have multiple craft able to launch crews.

ImageImageImage

 

2013-09-29_080600