The explosion of the launch vehicle “Falcon-9” proved once again that the start are sometimes no less risky than the start and flight. Project Elon musk was able to lead the rush, have often caused the crews to death. However, this time it was dictated by economic considerations, whereas before a much larger role played by policy.
Missiles are still a very unreliable vehicle, even if you compare the space program with her sister aircraft. Mass production, prevalence and availability to the wider population of passenger Airliners for many decades provided the conditions in which the aircraft brought their offspring to the highest level of reliability. Another thing – launch vehicles (LV). Their whole design is calculated to the limit, after taking into account the cost of pounds of payload into near-earth space, reaching up to 35 thousand dollars, every extra gram of missiles literally its weight in gold. Therefore, the margin of safety in PH in case something goes wrong, almost none.
“Twice in one funnel the shell misses. But there was an exceptional case”
To this we must add that the flight of the rocket, which would orbit the payload is the figurative expression of “600 seconds of flight to the bombing.” The source of this expression is clear: processes in rocket engine (pressure, temperature, vibration) are very destructive and otherwise than in a controlled explosion, is difficult to call them. Finally, the missiles fly much less frequently than airplanes, which reduces the role of such “closer” technology as experience.
As evidenced by world history of Astronautics, launch vehicles and manned spacecrafts danger already in the process of preparing to start. One of the first and perhaps the most dramatic cases occurred in Baikonur on 24 October 1960, when the R-16 was discovered the problem, the removal of which required the presence of technical personnel directly on the rocket. The rules initially required to merge from it fuel, but those present at the Baikonur RVSN chief Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin decided to take a risk and allow the work to seasoned rocket. To show that in this case he risks not less than the equipment, Marshall sat on a chair near the starting farm. In the end, there was an unauthorized launch of the second stage carrier. The explosion and subsequent fire killed 74 people, including Nedelin. Another 4 people died in hospital from wounds and burns.
The most powerful launch vehicles in history, kosmonavtiki why Marshall went on to a clear violation of the instructions? The answer is contained in the diary of the assistant commander of the air force for space, Lieutenant-General of aviation Nikolai Kamanin, responsible for cosmonaut training in the years 1960-1971: “the Attempted launch of a new rocket R-16 ended in the explosion at the start and in the death of 74 people, including Marshal Nedelin. The reasons for these failures are unknown, and no one dares to install. The fact that the launches were timed to the speech of Khrushchev at the UN in new York, and was therefore admitted criminal haste and lack of organization. The bosses will be pressed on everyone and everything” and “squeezed” Grand failures”.
Following the tragedy happened in the USA on 27 January 1967. On this day, astronauts Gus Grissom, ed white and Roger Chaffee took their seats in the command module of spacecraft “Apollo”, located on the top of the carrier rocket “Saturn-1B. There was the usual preparations for the upcoming launch, on 21 February, the astronauts had to go in two-week flight in earth orbit, and we had to hurry – the Soviet Union was involved in the “lunar race, intending to win it from the United States.
Ten minutes to simulate the launch of the carrier in the cockpit of the Apollo fire. Within just a few seconds, the crew members were killed by suffocation from poisonous gases resulting from the combustion of interior materials capsules “Apollo”. President Lyndon Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Senator Clinton Anderson, Chairman of the house Committee on space George Miller made a statement that the Apollo program should continue despite the tragedy. In turn, the media, and after some NASA engineers began to say that the rush with the implementation of the lunar program forced the Agency to cut corners in matters of crew safety. Was established a special Committee to review the causes of the accident, who worked ten weeks. The end product of its activities, which cost the state $ 4 million, was the report of three thousand pages.
The members of the Committee spared neither NASA nor one of the main contractors of this Department – the company “North American”. It was she who carried out the development and construction of the spacecraft “Apollo”, including its command module, where the fire occurred. The report explicitly speaks about the responsibility that carried the Agency and “North American” for “numerous omissions” committed in the design and manufacture of the ship. These omissions were rectified, then “Apollo” successfully (not counting the explosion of an oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13″, neither of which led either to death or to the loss of health by any of the members of the crew) flew in under the lunar program.
In 1973, a disaster occurred in Plesetsk. 26 Jun when draining fuel from the “Cosmos-3M” after the failed start occurred an explosion and fire that claimed the lives of 9 soldiers. The Commission accused the crew that he used to control the process of discharging devices with a large measurement error. This despite the fact that these devices were standard equipment of the launch complex and the use of any other documentation generally was not provided. The cause of the fire, according to the conclusion of the Commission was “accidental contact with spillages of fuel oxidizer residue from the filling connections of the careless actions of the performers.” The situation was largely complicated by the desire of the calculation to carry out the launch at the scheduled time, forcing him to make a hasty, perhaps, not completely thought-out decisions.
In 1980 at Plesetsk hit another tragedy. March 18, in preparation for the start of the carrier rocket “Vostok-2M exploded, killing 48 people, 42 were injured. The Commission came to the conclusion (according to some experts, not indisputable) that the cause of the accident was “an explosion (ignition) saturated with oxygen tissue as a result of unauthorized actions of the fighting calculation participating in the elimination of leakage of liquid oxygen in the fueling of the third stage.
Statistics of successful space launches in different strenghened the death of the crew managed to escape at the last second. 26 Sep 1983 in space from Baikonur had to go “Soyuz T-10 crew in the person of Vladimir Titov (commander) and Gennady Strekalova (flight engineer). In just a few months before the start of Titov and Strekalov were together, but then with them there was also a third member of the crew – Alexander Serebrov. The objective of the mission was to dock with the station “Salyut-7”, but docked for technical reasons did not take place and the astronauts returned to Earth two days later, after launch. And here is another attempt.
During the final pre-launch operations in about 1 minute 48 seconds before the calculated time of start of the carrier rocket “Soyuz-U” suddenly caught fire one of the elements of the fuel supply to the generators, turbopumps. The fire spread to the missile units. It became obvious – PH rescue will not succeed, the main task was to save the life of the astronauts.
Managing start-up issues a command to trigger the “automated recovery” (CAC). Since the appearance of the flame it took 6 seconds, 4 seconds were required for the issuance of commands, operators and 1.2 seconds the execution of command automation of the ship. Finally, start the engine of the SAS who stole the head unit from the emergency PH, but a second the carrier exploded, and he began to lean in. In accordance with the logic of the CAC, the lander separated from the head unit at altitude 1 kilometer and landed in 3.7 km from the start. After 3-4 seconds after engine is SAS a burning missile crashed into the pit of the launch complex.
“Can you fix the shortest flight in the history of cosmonautics: 5 minutes 30 seconds”
“When I was preparing for this flight, told later Titov, Gennady Strekalov said: “twice In one funnel projectile does not fall” (I mean, what’s the second then misfires with a mission to “Salyut-7” should not be). There was an exceptional case: “the ball just “got”… Before the start of the wind at the launch site was choppy, 12-15 meters per second. We boarded the ship, is attached, has complied with all necessary operations. The wind really affected the vibration of the media. A minute and forty seconds to go, when I went to the pressurization of the tanks, the rocket went strong wave of vibrations. We decided that it was a particularly strong gust of wind caused fluctuations of farm maintenance. Frankly, we did not like. Just calm down, as I went to the second wave of vibration, and then worked SAS. The acceleration was stronger than in normal vehicle start, and I just thought: “do not go there Again… Soon in the headphones I heard the voice of Laziness Kizima (the astronaut who was in touch with the crew – approx. OPINION), answered him and began to report their experiences. But then it turned out that we have not heard… Already high above the ground the popping of squibs realized that there was a division of the compartments of the ship. The parachute system worked. Landed fine at the bottom, despite the strong wind. In the left window I saw fire in the area of the starting position.”
No damage to the astronauts was not. Titov even joked: “Can you fix the shortest flight in the history of cosmonautics: 5 minutes 30 seconds”. In conclusion we can add that Shumilina A. A. and A. M. Soldatenkov – “the shooter” and issued the command “shoot” of the ship with the crew from the rescue media, was awarded the title of Hero of socialist labor.
For more than three decades since the failed launch of “Soyuz T-10”, could seem like a disaster on launch sites in the past, because technology prelaunch operations are continuously being improved as a system that helps experts to carry out these operations in the most efficient and safe manner. The explosion of the “Falcon-9” (which, however, no one died or even got hurt) showed that it is not.
But do not rush to blame the emergency booster on the ground during start and during the start of the burst even such used cars as “Space”, “Vostok” and “Soyuz”. “Falcon-9” is still relatively new PH using besides the latest achievements in the field of rocketry, including the return step. It is operated since 2010, had 28 flights into space, of which only one is failed.
The exploding carrier was supposed to go into space in the already used steps, which successfully returned to earth after one of the previous runs of this type the PH. It is not yet known whether the explosion of the “Falcon-9″ is associated with this fact, or we are talking about some kind of breach in the course of prelaunch operations. If the latter, it is possible that a fatal role could play the rush (the same role she played in preparing for the launch of R-16, of Apollo 1 and Space-GP”), because the company SpaceX aims to demonstrate that it is able not only to send the payload space for the price lower than other providers of launch services, but to do it in time. In any case, it is obvious that the risk of tragedy begins with the staging of the rocket on the launch pad, and to reduce it can be only measured response in the absence of deficiency of time.