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Ringing the Bell

Looks like SpaceX finally got something off the ground…or rather, more than just a couple hundred feet off the ground this time: A night of high drama for SpaceX success.

But perhaps Elon didn’t get a good look at the video of the staging before appearing at the press Q&A:

‘Stage separation went very well,’ he added, dismissing what may have been observed on the video. ‘Both the stage separation and the fairing sep went flawlessly. Second stage ignition also went flawlessly.’

Umm…I don’t think I would judge that to be quite a ‘flawless’ staging. If that staging were ‘flawless’, we wouldn’t have bothered to do all the work we did on CEV to assure the SM could extract from the spacecraft adapter without the orbital maneuvering engine striking anything on the way out.

It is of course hard to know without being familiar with the design of SpaceX’s second stage engine, but it sure looks like there was a crack in the bell about halfway down, roughly in the area where the engine struck the interstage during staging. If it was a crack, it’s a lucky thing that it didn’t burn through (to be fair, it didn’t appear to be in any danger of doing so, appearing as a dark squiggle across the red-hot bell…it was the areas closer to the throat with their yellow- to white-hot blotches that appearerd likely to burn through at any moment).

1 comment to Ringing the Bell

  • spacebaron

    I agree the stage I/II sep did not look too smooth and they do need to work on their stage II flight control system.
    On the other hand I was impressed by two things:
    1) the fact they were able to launch in such a short period after having gone through a previous launch attempt where stage I engine actually started to fire for a few seconds. Have not seen this performed on large rockets before (but I may have missed it).
    2) from looking at the video their stage 1 flight looked very smooth. Solid as a rock during all the ascent including the difficult max q phase. Impressive for a second launch. Of course this is just impression from video, need to be confirmed by flight data analyses.