The Real Pucker Factor

For Dragon, it will be early tomorrow morning, when it enters and is recovered.

[Friday-morning update]

Mission success.

[Noon update]

What SpaceX’s success means for America.

20 thoughts on “The Real Pucker Factor”

  1. Is Ripley stuffed with sensors and monitors or did they leave the suit at the ISS (with or without Ripley in it)?

  2. I think it’s fair to want to see an in-flight abort test first. (I’d really like to see one on Starliner, too).

    But we should have that by end of spring. After that, I say let’s make this thing operational. Issue waivers as necessary.

    1. The in-flight abort test isn’t even required by NASA. That’s SpaceX’s choice. If they get back successfully tomorrow, I’d be happy to ride it the next day.

      1. I’d be happy to ride it now, but that in-flight abort test is one heckuva data point. They sure as hell never tested that with Shuttle.

        1. If I remember correctly, they’re not testing it with Boeing’s capsule either. I believe Boeing decided to just document it to death to convince NASA it would work, while SpaceX decided it was faster and cheaper to just do it?

          1. Right.

            Modeling and documenting played to Boeing’s strengths. Simply doing it in-flight on a used booster played to SpaceX’s. Thus the choices each company made.

            But I think there is still something to be said for live-testing actual hardware on something as critical as this.

      2. So would I, but I’m happy to take the risk, and there would be no cost to my loss. But I think NASA *should* have required the in-flight test, of both SpaceX and Boeing, rather than leaving it to them to meet it through testing or modeling at their discretion. It’s probably the only area where I think NASA was not strenuous enough.

        But if it pulls off the abort, I say make the thing operational. Which should have happened at least a year ago, if CCtCAP hadn’t degenerated into such a morass of micromanaging and bureaucracy.

    1. I’m confident that eventually Elon will have them landing on a beach next to a half-buried replica of the Statue of Liberty.

      But water landings will do until they decide to commit to the powered descent mode.

  3. Watched the terminal re-entry and splashdown. Looked flawless.

    Chutes were jettisoned upon impact though one of them covered the spacecraft. Should be a non-factor.

    Recovery crews working to get the spacecraft on the ship.

    Congrats to Space-x

    Bridenstine had some nice words for Space-x. Emphasized that NASA is now a customer.

  4. Space-X tweeted an image of Crew Dragon on the recovery vessel; it looks like a carefully-toasted marshmallow.

    I was impressed with the thermal video from the “chase” plane. I would have loved to see a visible spectrum video to see the fireball, but I imagine there was more to see on the thermal in that regard.

    Can’t wait for the reports from Ripley and then the escape test!

  5. So what is the plan for the escape test?

    Are they going to stick this thing on a Falcon 9 and then escape after launch?

    During first stage burn?

    Second stage burn?

    If during the first stage burn, does this damage the first stage beyond it’s ability to land? (not that it matters because in real life you aborted because the stage went nuts – just curious).

    1. They’re going to trigger the escape system at Max Q. SpaceX expects the Falcon 9 booster to be destroyed, but it’s already been used three times, so no huge loss.

      (I’d be amazed to see the booster survive but I don’t expect it will.)

      1. Given the likelihood of loss of the booster I doubt they will even try to land it, because that would require very expensive grid fins and the risk of losing them is too great. So I predict they will launch without legs or grid fins.

  6. As Johnny B says, it will be an in-flight abort done at Max-Q. The first stage will be B1048, which has already flown three times (so SpaceX has definitely gotten its value out of this stage), with a dummy second stage on top (actually a qualified flight second stage, but with a mass simulator in place of the MVac engine). SpaceX expects to lose B1048 on this test.

  7. Yeah congratulations.

    The parachute descent seemed kind of bumpy to me compared with other capsules though. But I guess that’s a design compromise.

    I still wish they would have gone the land landing route with propulsive landings. Also with the Red Dragon. It is a real missed opportunity to do something that goes beyond the standard. I hope they’ll eventually get to it.

    Still, at least this means the US won’t be dependent on the Soyuz.

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