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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old August 23 2014, 10:51 PM   #91
YellowSubmarine
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Re: SpaceX's Grasshopper

sojourner wrote: View Post
The test site wasn't moved. They've always done flight tests in McGregor, TX. It also wasn't a "downscaled version". That was a full size F9 first stage. It just had only 3 engines instead of 9.
Hm, for some reason I thought they had already moved to the New Mexico site, and didn't read the Texas part. They had said their current site is too populated for dangerous tests at high altitudes. But I guess this wasn't high altitude (even if the video made it seem so, I thought the operator was going to be hit by debris).

Isn't 3 engines downscaled? When I read it, seemed far enough from launch configuration to make me consider it different from the launch vehicle. The real vehicle would re-enter with fewer engines (3?!), but lifts off on all nine. And, while it is probably ridiculous to speculate without any information on what the anomaly was, if it was an engine anomaly I would guess nine engines give you more room for gracefully ending the flight in ways other than blowing up on purpose. At the very least, you could shut down the anomalous engine while the capsule flies to safety and the vehicle is away from inhabited areas. Then again, this might be something completely unrelated to engines.

Regardless, having a failure of a test flight with a different number of redundant engines (and less fuel I assume) that's pushing the vehicle to the limits and trying new things doesn't tell you much about the vehicle reliability in its forthcoming real flights, which was basically my point.
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Old August 24 2014, 12:21 AM   #92
sojourner
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Re: SpaceX's Grasshopper

Considering the F9 will be mostly empty of fuel during the flight regime after second stage separation, the only real difference is the number of engines on the vehicle. All 9 engines aren't needed for the tests they're doing. "Downscaled" isn't really the right word since everything there is full size, try "not installed".
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