17 thoughts on “So Close”

  1. I’m getting 2nd thoughts and not all that impressed with all the Mr. Steven brohaha.

    Why not just attach drone propulsion to the para-sail and fly it back for controlled catch once it’s deployed? You can put the batteries in the fairing itself. The drones are just for directional control not lift, that’s what the para-sail is for. Why all the Sea Hunt chicanery? Let Mr. Steven track straight and true and fly the fairing right into it?

  2. I asked my 82 year old specialist parachute manufacturer about this. He does work for various military and specialist applications. He can’t see the problem, thinks maybe the chutes are too big but surely this isn’t that hard a problem. OTOH how hard to simply waterproof the damn things?

  3. All good suggestions above. They will nail this. I’m astonished at how controlled the descent was in the first place. Ad Astra, Elon!

  4. I’m guessing the ship’s captain is in his 40’s but they need to put a 17 year old behind the wheel. Select them by developing a simulator and holding an esports event.

    1. I thought the same, but those systems did use balloons rather than parachutes. A plane grabbing a parachute is pretty risky, as the chute will first become a drogue chute, and then once cut, it will have more drag and fall than lift, which means potential collision with the tail of the aircraft or maybe the engines. A balloon creates less drag once captured (less drogue effect) and lifts when released. You could mitigate with more rigging, but all that adds weight to the spacecraft.

      Still, it does seem that if the helicopter can carry it, then it could capture it. A dangling grappling hook even seems plausible.

    2. Too risky for the helicopter at this stage. A plane would be too fast, and that fairing is far more massive than a man. A bad catch would result in a dropped payload or a broken helo. Would also require a second support vessel as a for-real recovery would be far out to sea.

  5. It appears quite obvious to me that the parafoil must be steerable or they would never even get close. Mr. Steven shifted direction very rapidly in the final couple hundred yards of descent so either a surface wind problem or just bad steering. The jump in camera angles to the 2nd chase vehicle makes it look like the test vehicle was turning but I don’t believe it was, the ship was just not on the right course. That’s a software problem (wetware?), if the recovery team programmers are as smart as the launch team then they will easily be able to catch it next time. If they didn’t before, I expect that they will have a bunch of drones up to allow exact modeling of the wind conditions.

    1. I wonder if they have, or could have, a telemetry box providing state and direction vector from the fairing to Mr. Steven. It would seem easy to do, and that far out at sea, you could probably use any frequency and power you wanted, and the transmitter would already have great altitude for coverage. A sort of reverse TCAS (a TCS).

      With SpaceX, I’m inclined to believe they have such a system and it just didn’t work well enough. So yeah; “if the recovery team programmers are as smart as the launch team then they will easily be able to catch it next time.” But in a quick check of articles on the Mr. Stevens, it seems like it is just a slightly modified Fast Supply Vessel with the typical Dynamic Positioning (DP) system (I’m sure class 3, because anything less wouldn’t be allowed near major oil platforms but that’s mostly about fault tolerance). That means it already has computer controlled steering to a GPS point. Yet while I read that it had DP; I didn’t read any augmentation to automate the guidance to the fairing point. If it is not there, SpaceX has the knowledge to make it happen and this will be quickly solved.

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