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SpaceX suffers another setback as Falcon 9 rocket explodes during routine pre-launch test

By Shawn Knight ยท 21 replies
Sep 1, 2016
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  1. SpaceX, the space transportation company founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2002, suffered yet another setback on Thursday. In preparation for a routine pre-launch static test fire at Cape Canaveral in Florida, an “anomaly” on the launch pad resulted in a massive explosion that took out both the Falcon 9 rocket and its commercial payload.

    The incident took place at 9:07 a.m. EDT. Fortunately, the test area was clear and thus, there were no injuries although the force from the blast could be felt several miles away.

    The Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled to launch on Saturday. Its payload, an AMOS-6 satellite operated by Israeli firm Spacecom, was completely destroyed as well. The satellite, meant for broadcast and telecommunications, was also going to be used by Facebook as part of its initiative to bring Internet connections to remote and underserved parts of the world.

    Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on the social network that he is deeply disappointed to hear that the launch failure destroyed a satellite that would have provided connectivity to many entrepreneurs and others in Africa.

    This isn’t the first time SpaceX has experienced such a disaster. In June 2015, an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 on a resupply mission to the International Space Station exploded shortly after takeoff from Cape Canaveral, sending debris raining down over the Atlantic Ocean.

    According to SpaceNews Paris Bureau Chief Peter B. de Selding, today’s unfortunate event wasn’t covered by launch insurance.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Evangelist Posts: 658   +202

    These shuttle replacements don't seem nearly as safe and reliable as what they have replaced.
  3. Watch this video very carefully.

    At 1:09 Captain Cranky makes his first pass (lower half of the screen). At 1:11 he takes out the rocket on his second pass.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,476   +3,035

    Whatever it takes to stop Facebook from spreading further, is all good news.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. havok585

    havok585 TS Addict Posts: 201   +58

    The satellite wasnt covered by insurance, well good news is Israel got lots of dough.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,389   +3,775

    Interesting to watch the video slowly ... the explosion started nearly at the top, which from earlier failures in the Redstone program suggests fuel vapors triggered by something as simple as static charges. Since the booster was a re-used version, I would imagine their engineers are going to be looking closely at the contractors work, once again reminding me of that old quote out of the Apollo program about the massive amount of power the astronauts were sitting on, ready to blast off, all built by the lowest bidder .......
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    Musk should make that explosion the cover shot, if there's a second printing of his book.

    Or maybe just Photoshop out the confusing and distracting tubes and whatnot behind him, and paste the rocket exploding into the background...

    Who in their right mind wants to look at this sh!t?


    KABOOM kiddies, it's all part of Elon's master plan......:eek::D(n)
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,977   +2,278

    Raoul Duke and captaincranky like this.
  9. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,196   +1,623

    Welp, it went from space rocket to the worlds most expensive firecracker.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  10. gwbaker

    gwbaker TS Rookie

    This was NOT a re-used booster. That said, there is ALWAYS the potential for third party interference.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    So are you suggesting "poor Elon" might be the victim sabotage?

    Those "big space rocket manufacturers" have always been, "out to get him".

    It's the same with the big car makers, they're out to get "poor Elon" too.

    I wonder if he'll cash in a couple of billion dollars worth of Space X stock over this fiasco..
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,977   +2,278

    Jeff is out to get him!
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    I'm actually amazed that @Shawn Knight didn't beat you to that story.... :D
  14. Techspot tends to lag anywhere from 6 hours to 3 days, depending on the story. My feed is by the second.

    He never stood a chance.
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,386   +5,013

    You would think with our capability of capturing high quality footage at large frame rates, they would try to cover their *** better. Or perhaps that is what they were doing with low quality footage.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    Isn't that the same "magic bullet flying in a manner impossible for our aircraft to perform", that's been in every reported UFO sighting for about the past 5 decades?

    I suppose those other "fake news agencies" like Associated Press and Reuters, are paid to rotoscope things like that out before they put their stories on the wire.

    I'm wondering if that was a "spaceship from Mars" though. If Musk gets a hold of that, hell be running his yap at his next press conference/farce, "the Martians are out to get me, because I'm getting too close to visiting their planet". "They've been out to get me for years".

    The "Daily Star" did have one of their facts straight, I do love to hate Elon Musk.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
    davislane1 likes this.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,386   +5,013

    I'm sorry if I lead anyone to the conclusion, I was suspecting "magic bullets" and "spaceships". That is when mentioning they could have captured better quality footage with today's technology. In fact the cheap phone would have done a better job. The dumb-asses think sensory data is all they need to investigate errors.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    I'm simply commenting on the vivid imagination of "The Daily Star", and publications of its same ilk.

    I think that "news agency", is a step further toward complete fantasy in journalism, using, "The National Enquirer's" fast and loose take on "the truth", as a frame of reference.

    In short, your post gave me an access point to the story. And I hate to break this to you, but I really didn't give to much thought to what your opinion was, or allow it to factor into what I posted. You know I'm a sociopath, at least to the extent I don't form my op-ed or comedy material in conjunction with a committee... :p :cool:
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    I have exactly no idea how people trying to use cellphones, ever manage to delude themselves into believing this is possible. It all has to do with zoom and or interchangeable lenses.

    As soon as a photo requires anything more, or less, than about 50 degrees angle of acceptance from a lens, the phone is useless for high quality.

    OK, first keep in mind the number of "megapixels"in the sensor doesn't mean sh!t, unless you can use all of them in getting the image size within the frame you either want, or need.

    It all has to do with image size on "film", versus overall resolution. As an example, let's say a phone has a resolution of 4000 pixels, long axis. Then we have a DSLR with only 2000px, again long axis.

    We take a picture with our phone,but we can't get the image size we want, we're too far away. Let's say we need 2x linear magnification, which amounts to only 25% of the area of the sensor. OK, so now, our long axis resolution is only 2000px,, which is the same as the full frame resolution of our DSLR. I have a zoom on the Camera, so I zoom in for the 2X magnification. I get to use its entire sensor area, and a camera which started with only 25% of the megapixel count of the phone, is now on equal footing, resolution wise.

    OK, so we know the average DSLR is going to have, at the very minimum, the SAME number of megapixels as the phone, and as soon as you crack the zoom a tiny bit past "normal focal length", you will have more effective resolution than the phone.

    You have to dust off your working knowledge of the "inverse square law", to truly appreciate this concept.

    As for whatever took the pictures of that launch, it's anybody's guess. But keep in mind, at events like a rocket launch, the enforced do not cross safety zones, are way back, possibly miles. And they're not about to let anyone into the immediate launch area, whether they have a press pass or not.

    The best possible photo scenario for a rocket launch, is if the footage from the "blockhouse", is released to the public
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,386   +5,013

    So we agree we do have DSLR technology. And they could have recorded better than phone quality, which the footage above most certainly is less than phone quality.
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,944   +3,992

    Ideally, sure. But a Space X launch doesn't have the mystique of an Apollo moonshot. Maybe, "the best of the best", weren't sent there to cover it

    Even SLR technology has it's limits. Arguably, you could be stuck with "only" a 500mm tele, when the job really needed a 1000mm lens to get the image size you needed for truly high quality.

    Besides, the close up shots of the explosion aren't that bad. There's also a lot of footage around which shows not a whole hell of a lot more than a tiny column of smoke rising in the center of the frame. Which could have arguably been taken with a phone, or a basic DSLR from behind the "no entry" point.

    The next time you see a NFL game, look at the equipment the press guys are using. Most often, the long lenses will be at least 300mm F2.8 (fast lenses to keep the shutter speed up), and often 400mm F2.8. The 400's are about $30,000 a pop, and obviously cost prohibitive for a small outlet.\

    Also keep in mind, a football field is only 100 yds by 50 yds, and when the game goes end to end, if the guys stay where they are, they're not going to get frame filling pics shooting from one 10 yd line to the other..

    Something else I like to do, (but not as a habit), is evaluate the "paparazzi" celebrity photos. The guys making all the money are using the same types of lenses as the sports shooters. Hey, sometimes the pictures are good, and sometimes they're forced to shoot from great distances, and the photos are "meh", at best. The crap still sells though.

    The moral of the story is, the more difficult the conditions, the lower the successful shooting percentage becomes. Obviously great equipment raises the odds, but not infallibly so.

    Did you read the "stats for nerds" in the right click menu? They changed the resolution upwards part way through the shoot. Since this was streaming, it may have been lower than max possible res, to make certain not to over saturate the connection bandwidth.

    Here's "USLaunchReport's website: http://www.uslaunchreport.com/
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016

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