NASA’s optimistic SpaceX Falcon 9 engine issue resolved, clearing the way for crew launches – tech2.org

NASA’s optimistic SpaceX Falcon 9 engine issue resolved, clearing the way for crew launches


A “micro” engine problem that triggered Last second abortion A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is resolved earlier this month, engineers believe, and if ongoing tests go well, NASA plans to move on Launch of four astronauts On November 14, with another Falcon 9, officials said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, SpaceX “Crew-1” commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi went into initial quarantine last weekend, taking extra steps beyond the space already due to coronovirus to ensure For that there are four viruses. Free for launch.

The liftoff from historic Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center is targeted for Saturday, November 14 at 7:49 pm EST. If all goes well, the crew will execute an automatic resistor, docking at the forward port Eight-and-A of the Dragon Space Station — hours after flow, at 4:04 a.m. the next day.

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SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts during SpaceX’s trip to Hawthorne, California, spacecraft manufacturing facility (left to right): Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Commander Michael Hopkins and Japanese astronaut Shoun Noguchi.

NASA


If inclement weather or other problems delay the on-time launch, the crew has a backup launch opportunity on Sunday 15 November at 7:27 pm, setting up docking the following day. If the ground does not fall by then, the crew will have to wait for the Russian spacecraft on 18 November.

“The crew performed well,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program. “As we started working through the (engine) anomaly and started to see a way to fly on the 14th, we put the crew in a soft quarantine this past weekend.

“They’ve been in a lot of telecon and are listening to what’s going on with vehicles. We have a little bit more work to do on this engine anomaly, but I think we (launch) have a lot Look at the good way. ” ‘We will fly when we are ready.’

NASA managers originally expected the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to begin early this month. But the flight was delayed, first to allow more time between Rubin’s October 14 launch and another October three-man Soyuz crew to return to Earth, and then the last-second Falcon 9 launch. Due October 3.

The Falcon 9 carrying the US Space Force global positioning system navigation satellite was not harmed, but the flight was halted while engineers worked to explain what went wrong and what might be needed to prevent additional problems. is.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president for build and flight reliability, said during a teleconference Wednesday that the rocket’s flight computer aborted after detecting abnormal pressure readings in the turbopump machinery used by the rocket’s two first-nine engine engines. Gave permission.

The suspect engines were removed and shipped to SpaceX’s Texas flight test facility, where engineers were able to replicate pressure readings.

Koenigsmann said a detailed inspection revealed a small amount of nail polish-like red lacquer, which is used to clean the components after healing, which was not thoroughly cleaned And had closed the 1/16-inch-wide vent line.

As a result, the “igniter liquid” used to spin turbopumps reached the machinery very soon, throwing off the engine start sequence. If the flight computer had not aborted the launch, Koenigsman said, the engine was likely to be damaged during this period, called a “hard start”.

“It’s not necessary, but in most cases, you know, it degrades the engine,” he said, “and it can cause little damage to the engine. In extreme cases, it can cause more damage. So In general., You don’t want that, you want a good startup. “

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On May 30, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent two NASA astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center on a test flight to the International Space Station. The first operational flight of the crew drone, carrying four astronauts, is targeted for launch on 14 November.

SpaceX


After finding blocked vent lines in the two engines responsible for the abortion, SpaceX reviewed data from engines in its fleet of Falcon 9 rockets and found three more with similar problems: one on November 10 from California to Earth Science Satellite Two in Slate Crew-1 Falcon 9 for use to launch.

In all five cases, blocked Marine lines were found in new Merlin engines that have not yet gone into space.

Koenigsmann said that SpaceX is working with its vendors to allow the hardware to be cleaned more thoroughly and inspected in the future before new engines are built. The company is also reevaluating other components that may be susceptible to similar issues.

In any case, all five engines are being replaced with well-inspected Merlin which is known to be free from any such obstruction.

SpaceX plans to make another attempt to launch a global positioning system satellite next Thursday, sources say, followed by the Sentinel 6-Michael Freelich Earth observation satellite to be launched on November 10.

Stitch said the Crew-1 launch date will depend on the results of the GPS launch next week, to ensure that pilots employ other unspecified changes during the flight.

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