Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, March 24, 2006

  Spacex's Falcon I flies, all too briefly

I mirrored the video of the falcon I launch, here.

If you watch closely, you can clearly see the exaust plume change color on the left, and shortly before the last frames see a perpendicular flame coming from the right side of the engine shortly before the rocket went out of control. There's some fairly knowledgeable discussion going on at NasaSpaceflight.com.

I know that I'm not cut out to be a reporter. All I wanted to do after seeing this was go back to bed and pull a pillow over my head.

Still I remember the rising wave of excitement as the final 10 minutes of the countdown went by.


LC-FTSO Tone checks are good
FTS is ready
Open fuel pre is open
TBC is configured for launch
fuel bleed open and closed
self alignment is successful
turn off chargers... chargers off
antenna heaters off
first stage on internal
gso enable ignition
on internal power supply
the range is green
in auto sequence mode


45 seconds to launch and each controller gave their "Go" almost on top of each other as they were asked... I wish I'd been able to record the final 10 minutes, it would have made a great techno song. As it was I was huddled over my guitar, seeking inspiration, seeking comfort, as the final seconds counted down.

After the video fuzzed out and the sudden webcast disconnection, and not knowing what happened, while hitting reload again and again on the websites, a few geeks gathered in a chat room. It seemed much like the aftermath of a bad football game, where we all struggled to cope, to laugh off the moment...

There are so many hopes and dreams tied up in Falcon's destiny, my own, and others, to Spacedev's three launches, to the first Bigelow Aerospace launch, and to all the follow on launches, whence space becomes affordable.

The next launch attempt will carry the remains of 186 people, including those of James Doohan. If ever this engineer hoped for some sympathetic magic, some power of voodoo to carry a spacecraft skyward, that would be it.

...sometimes you have to crash a spacecraft or two to learn something. Nice try. You got close. Now get up, and fly again.
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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