On-board Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Landing in Ocean

Elon Musk tweeted: Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water! Ships en route to rescue Falcon.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I believe this is the first one lost since the FH launch last year. Hopefully it will be the last.

  • Kirk

    Here is the same video, but from Musk’s tweet four minutes earlier.

    https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1070399755526656000

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Range safety had a real job today. I’ll bet someone is going to write their engineering masters thesis on optimizing when to destruct a semi controllable returning rocket stage to minimize risk to persons and property on the ground.

  • Cameron

    The first stage is always aimed just offshore for RTLS landings, and flies itself across to the pad in the landing burn. For exactly this sort of reason. It appears they may do similarly for drone-ship landings, given that FH centre core punched into the ocean beside the drone ship.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Yes, they re-position the IP over the pad once the center engine is lit and GNC health checks out. If not, they try for soft-land off the coast.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Given how close it landed to shore, it’ll be interested to see how much of the placement was deliberate ballistic aiming, vs pure freaking luck. We’ll know the results of the incident review by the decision for future landings at the LZ’s on land vs barges out to sea.

    I’m curious why the RSO at at Patrick did not just blow the booster over the ocean once it was obvious that booster was out of control. Would love to hear the audio of the control channel during that descent.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    The AFTS is disabled close in as the ballistic impact point is not in a danger area, safer not to blow up the booster at low altitude, when moving slow and guaranteed to land within a confined area.

  • Cameron

    F9 uses an automatic flight termination system. It safed at T+7:17, which was about 5 seconds before the first roll divergence.

  • Terry Stetler

    At the post flight presser SpaceX’s Hans Koenigsmann said the booster not only knows where the pad is it also knows where nearby structures are so it can avoid them.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Wow, that’s really impressive.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    We can’t tell that yet. We should see a vid of the water extraction and/or the truck ride back to the hanger. But what a hoot if they can fly it again.

  • Robert G. Oler

    As WAldo would say “that was not suppose to happen”

    Still working on reusability πŸ™‚

  • gunsandrockets

    I was watching the live feed and saw that uncontrolled spin. SpaceX cut that video feed within10 seconds of the problem.

    It is very cool to see the whole uninterrupted video until splashdown.

  • Robert G. Oler

    A bad week for fan boys.

    This will be either quality control problems or a failure in a single string system…either is possible with the design

    Greetings from Moskova…headed for the big Boeing

    Pro Tip…rockets are not TEslas or software…you cannot do patches …when you send the vehicle out…at some point it needs to be all up…that is what makes aviation very safe…and earns the FAA a five star πŸ™‚

  • David

    When explaining the cost savings from rocket reuse Elon asks “what would a plane ticket cost if the plane was destroyed after each fligt”. There has been about one hour of grid fin use cumulative across all landing attempts and one crash due to a grid fin related hydraulic failure. At that rate every single airplane would crash after one flight. The falcon 9 grid mechanism is a million times less reliable than an airplane. Are they using an airplane certified hydraulic system? ( is there such a thing?) It does not seem reasonable that this was a hydraulic failure. I would speculate that an airplane’s flight surface would experience forces within an order of magnitude of the falcon first stage grid fins and they should have somewhat similar reliability. Yes the grid finds start use at supersonic speeds but so do many other fighter jets flight surfaces. Missiles use grid fins. This is where the idea came from. What is their failure rate due to hydraulic malfunctions? It was great to get a real time diagnoses from Elon. But the answer screams for clarification and details to allow it to have reasonability. Why do the grid fin hydraulics fail at a rate a million times higher than a commercial airplane?

  • Robert G. Oler

    All Boeings have three flight sets of hydraulics on the flight controls, there are inside the prime systems multiple redundancy…the B737 is the last airplane with manual reversion on the flight control system.

    More latter…going to fly

  • gunsandrockets

    Huh. Does this mark the first time a fully intact Falcon 9 1st stage is recovered from a water landing?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, that would be a real hoot, and show just how well the Block 5 is built.

  • gunsandrockets

    Would that all airplane crashes were as gentle as the CRS-16 crash was!

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    That would be an amazing amount of robustness of the system. However, that was one abusive landing, and if it requires substantial rebuild or is a write off, it would not lower my opinion of the booster in any way.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Fan boys are very happy, the video was awesome!

    It is a single string system. The landing hardware is not mission critical for primary mission. They’ve proven that the vehicle can safely handle failure modes such as this and quite benignly I might add. It was always factored into the recovery scheme to lose some cores along the way during landing. SpaceX is way way ahead of the curve on this. BFS/BFR will be both engine and hydraulic redundant on landing. Shows how out of touch you are to be knocking this as anything other than a learning experience.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    This is over rotated horse crap. How many times have you flown on an airliner with a redundant system locked out? There is very little redundancy in the landing system of F9 by design, it was factored in to lose a couple as they go and still be cost effective, this is a trade on many factors including mass penalty. They bootstrapped booster recovery from zero to pretty damn reliable and will continue to improve.

  • Cameron

    Right, they are not designed for reuse under these circumstances, so if it is indeed possible, it would say a great deal about the design. I imagine it would take a god deal of refurbishment to get there, however, especially after spending a night in salt water.

  • Cameron

    Govsat-1 survived an intentional water landing, but it was far downrange and a surprise. It was scuttled as it was not possible to ensure it was safe to bring back. This one, however, was close enough that it was able to maintain telemetry and show that it had safed.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    No need to rebuild. Even if the Merlins are no longer serviceable. The entire propulsion section can be unbolted and replaced with a new one.

    We will just have to find out how water proof the Falcon 9 is in the critical avionics and wiring components, If the water intrusion is low. Then this core might fly again a less critical flight. We shall see.

  • voronwae

    Pro Tip…had they bothered, it’s a good bet there’s enough gas left over in the cold gas thrusters to have damped the spin and allowed the rocket to land safely. That would be software, which could be fixed with a patch.

    By the way, aviation, these days, is in large part software, from design to flight controls to navigation.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Did not help when the computer kept pushing down on the controls and the pilot kept pulling back to level out,but the last one was near water and it dived into ocean. They should have been able to turn off that system though.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Hopefully Starliner will replace this system.

  • Robert G. Oler

    its common feature on modern airline Terrain systems

  • Robert G. Oler

    theengines are slag after hitting the waters

  • Robert G. Oler

    How many times have you flown on an airliner with a redundant system locked out?

    in the US? for a flight control system…. never

  • Robert G. Oler

    when did that happen?

  • Robert G. Oler

    not a chance

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    I never said flight controls, but thrust reverser, APU…the grid fins are not mission critical, they can fail to deploy/operate and still successfully complete the mission, get over it.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    No, they will only attempt land landing if all systems check out after landing burn. Pushing the envelope with limited flight control is advised over land for many reason, including it is unnecessary in a non-human rated landing system.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    RGO is going to nick-pick your depiction of the situation in question. That said, it can auto-trim so far no human could physically counter without cutting out the auto-trim and manual trim back. One question I have for our former “Tex Johnson” in the house is why would his MCAS not disengage automatically if there is a massive AOA disagree between the redundant alpha vanes? Sounds like a bug to me…although I wouldn’t know since my limited flight time has strictly been in C172 and PA28 (And old ones at that).

  • Robert G. Oler

    A vehicle that has single string failure points in the pathway of a critical mission milestone…is not operational

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Apparently you know nothing about the launch services business.

  • Robert G. Oler

    LOL you dont understand either MCAS or speed trim. sorry you simply dont …

  • Robert G. Oler

    lol

  • Robert G. Oler

    it will be interesting to see what changes are made in range safety…clearly there is a need for some this malfuction could have happened at anytime

  • Robert G. Oler

    but thrust reverser, APU…the grid fins are not mission critical, they
    can fail to deploy/operate and still successfully complete the mission,
    get over it.

    neither loss of the TR or the APU will cause loss of the vehicle. losing the grid fins on he Falcon first stage well seemed like it did to me πŸ™‚

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    The vehicle is lost on all nominal missions by other launch providers even with mission success.

    There is a small mass margin for recovery of booster (especially with F9 size). The mission is to put the payload in orbit, not to 100% save the core on landing. Reuse can be very cost effective and still occasionally lose cores, it is a trade on economics and mass margins, nothing more. If they decide they can’t make the system reliable enough to be economic without a second string, then they will do that with a mass penalty, so be it. Stop getting all high on your horse about simple engineering trades.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    And by the way someone did the math so you don’t have to.

    https://twitter.com/GeorgeWHerbert/status/1070440471057489920

  • Jeff2Space

    Fatal Lion Air crash of a Boeing 737 on Oct. 29 in Indonesia

    Boeing Omitted Safety-System Details, Minimized Training for Crashed Lion Air 737 Model
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/behind-boeings-decision-to-omit-details-on-safety-system-in-lion-air-crash-from-manual-1544025884

  • Robert G. Oler

    Its common training….our pilots have been doing it for over two years. its a standard manuever. sorry. you dont have a clue what you are talking about in this and that metrics “other things”

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    True or False, is Boeing considering a software upgrade?

  • Robert G. Oler

    If the accident had been caused by this problem (unlikely since the autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash) then the FAA would have made it mandatory immediately or put out an airworthiness issue directing changes in flight operations until such a change had been made or grounded the airplane.

    they have done neither. and they wont. Boeing has upgraded the speed trim system as memory serves 8 times since it came out in the 737/300. I participated in three and manged one of those upgrades πŸ™‚ I assume at some point they will update the MCAS but its flown quite nicely since certification πŸ™‚

    recovery from MCAS (or speed trim or…several other autoflight generated events while in manual control) are routinely trained and evaluated…they are 1) recognize flight path deviation, 2) input corrective manual control inputs and trim (control wheel movement and manual trim will in all cases override autopilot trim operation), 3) if neccesary disconnect autopilot and manual trim, 4) trim manually

    in a simpler time ie the 100 it was called “trim runaway”

    It requires manual flight skills πŸ™‚ which are not taught at Lion air…and since the autopilot was engaged…well none of these are likely.

    the ONLY action Boeing took was that they incorporated the internal fleet safety notifications of UAL and my company into a “safety memo” which they publish weekly. if you look carefully at thememo, you will note my name as being one of the “co chairman” of the writing force

    Having been a experimental test pilot on the 737 fleet for about now 22 years, even though I am primarily a B777 experimental test pilot now. I am considered a high level expert.

    thanks to my company for allowing me to participate in this when Boeing asked.

    as I said, you know nothing about this…and that seems to be your level of knowledge of most things you comment on here. Fan boy

  • Robert G. Oler

    if this is accurate then it is a complete failure of software management or oversight to not have included this as a second string backup. as I noted, this is common in software companies, which spaceX has a foundation of

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Nice, this is some quality chest beating. I have no doubt there were/are lapses in Lion Air in both pilot performance/training and support engineering (there is a reason no one wants them in their airspace). My only point was is it possible that Boeing could improve corner case handling to mitigate such situations….not all pilots are test pilots after all. Will read the full report when it comes out…