Elon Musk’s 44th Birthday Not Going So Well

The man who made his fortune by founding PayPal and once said that he knew as much about rocket science as any engineer who worked for him, is facing fairly flat Champagne tonight at the celebration of his 44th birthday. His SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after launch today, destroying over 5000 pounds of critical supplies needed by the International Space Station crews, including US astronaut Scott Kelly, who arrived recently. NASA was particularly hoping that this resupply trip would be successful, since the last SpaceX flight was also a failure, and a Russian resupply rocket failed months before that. The space station crew now faces a shortage of supplies by, roughly, October.

The following is an image captured from the NASA telescope video at about two and a half seconds into the flight, at the moment when an explosive plume of gas erupted from the vehicle’s upper stage.
Watch the following video to see the whole flight. Notice that the first stage continues to burn, uninterrupted, for several seconds after the rupture of the upper stage tank farther up the rocket stack.

According to a statement earlier today by Elon Musk, SpaceX Founder, the accident was caused by an “over pressurization” in the liquid oxygen tank of the upper stage. This could be caused by any number of things, including structural failure of the tank, electrical sparks from wiring harnesses or even software bugs that caused events to happen out of the proper sequence.

The next Russian Progress freighter is due to launch July 3 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and its success will be critical, indeed, for the ISS astronauts. The Russian space agency is already discussing the possibility of canceling flights to change out new astronauts, since the criticality of resupply has become such an issue.

It should be pointed out that this is not just an embarrassing failure for Elon Musk and NASA, but for the White House, as well. Current NASA policy, which precipitated the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program and a precarious reliance on two very small commercial contractors (SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp) was directed from the White House against the advice of almost the entire astronaut corps and the non-political talent at NASA.

Read more at Space.com, Breitbart, or Fox News. Cross-Posted at PoliNation.


About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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6 Responses to Elon Musk’s 44th Birthday Not Going So Well

  1. Obama may have gutted the space program, but at least there was money to spend on Solyndra and GM union pensions!

  2. it was bush who decided to contract out these missions until nasa found a replacement. (not that he’s anyone’s darling.) and then obama, who as a liberal should have known better (they’re u s u a l l y more in favor of expanding the space program, vs. m o s t conservatives who see it as more as a stunt) didn’t bother fixing bushy’s idiot gaff (at least they could have funded a shuttle follow up, and started the research that might have led us to a really neat and clever way to get to mars instead of wasting old tech into a monster machine) and just canceled the program, fired the staff, and then declared idiot bush space doctrine part deux.

    When my own master commented to me “but business does everything cheaper”, I had to bring him the example of the cross country rail connection. Uncle sam funded it, and I asked him if he knew why. My response was business only does things cheaper if they are already intrinsically profitable.

    Space flight? not so much. Idiots should have solved the RCC tile problem on the shuttle and just built new ones with more modern tech. (and cue grunt, maybe they should have decided to try and solve fouling problems instead of relying on liquid hydrogen / LOX for propellent to solve the problem for them.)

    • Well, Bush pushed the Constellation Series of programs that would have allowed for the replacement (effectively) of Shuttle and expanded capability to the Moon and Mars. That project was promptly canceled by only one man, and his name was Obama. Obama further and purposely accelerated the retirement of the Shuttle against the advice of his space agency and Congress.

      Good point about the reliance on LOX/LH2. They seem determined to use that, perhaps thinking it’s more efficient and ‘greener’ despite the fact that a Kerosene/LOX first stage would provide more overall performance by keeping the size down on the whole stack. I’m also with you on not rushing to Mars. That’s just a stunt that would overreach our capability by a 1000-fold. We’ve got better things to do, and Mars is really not looking much better than the Moon, frankly.

  3. Dianne says:

    And you’ve got to wonder at the reasoning QUALITY of the scientists when they continue to believe the global warming hoax. Does our current batch of “modern” scientists have the brains to build a rocket anymore?

    • That’s a good question, Dianne. A rocket? Yes. Get back to the Moon safely? Not sure. ALL of the engineers responsible for the last trip are retired or mostly retired. The new crop are very sharp. (Smarter than me. I’m one of the older ones now.) But the shackles of group-think are very strong at NASA. I’m not sure why. But the climate hoax is the very worst example. NASA is very much committed to pushing that hoax, and I doubt anybody will apologize to us for their incompetence when it is finally admitted by everyone.

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