DID covered the SpaceX’s Falcon-1 and its inaugural launch failure this Monday, as well as the programs impacted by its failure. Now SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has stepped up with a preliminary analysis of what happened:
“The good news is that all vehicle systems, including the main engine, thrust vector control, structures, avionics, software, guidance algorithm, etc. were picture perfect. However, at T+25s, a fuel leak of currently unknown origin caused a fire around the top of the main engine that cut into the first stage helium pneumatic system. On high resolution imagery, the fire is clearly visible within seconds after liftoff. Once the pneumatic pressure decayed below a critical value, the spring return safety function of the pre-valves forced them closed, shutting down the main engine at T+29s. It does not appear as though the first stage insulation played a negative role, nor are any other vehicle anomalies apparent from either the telemetry or imaging.”
Note that a formal, comprehensive investigation by SpaceX and the U.S. government will follow. Musk adds:
One missing element was a weapon datalink to allow in-flight updates of the missile status and targeting, plus the transmission of weapon position data up to the time of impact. This is currently present in the USA’s Tactical Tomahawk Block IV and the Navy’s SLAM-ER, but not in JASSM or in competing stealthy cruise missiles like the Taurus 350 or MBDA Storm Shadow. That’s about to change…
“The aging Prowler has been in service for 40 years — and it shows — the Prowler is unable to keep up with newer strike aircraft. Chugging along at .72 Mach, it is significantly slower than the fleet aircraft it’s meant to protect, like an elderly grandfather on Halloween escorting trick-or-treaters on a sugar high.”
Well, chug a few espresso, grandpa, because until the EA-18Gs show up, you’re the only tactical jamming aircraft America has got. Make that $73.25 million worth of espresso, via an FY 2006 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, N.Y. for AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receivers. How many does that cover? What do those do?
Integral Systems, Inc. in Lanham, MD received a $21.5 million cost-plus award-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification to modify the Command and Control System-Consolidated (CCS-C) effort to support the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite program. As a Crosslink Magazine article referenced in DID’s comprehensive roundup of the USA’s future SATCOM architecture notes, The CCS-C is the integrated command and control system being developed to support all US military satellite communications satellite constellations, both current and future. It will replace the current command and control functions of the Air Force Satellite Control Network, and began operations with existing Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS III) and MilStar satellites on Dec 15, 2005. See also this case study re: automated conversion of code to C++ as part of this effort.
This action will consolidate all CCS-C efforts for AEHF Satellite Vehicles 1, and 2, and 3 as a cost saving measure. The CCS-C program will eventually encompass the Defense Satellite Communication System, the Milstar series, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency constellation, and Wideband Gapfiller Satellites. The scheduled completion date is June 2010 under the contract issued by the Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA (F04701-01-C-0012-P00088).
Aerojet-General Corp. in Sacramento, CA received an $11.4 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract modification to evaluate, develop, and demonstrate “innovative post boost propulsion concepts.” It exercises option 1 of the Phase II baseline program for research and development to and component technologies to support the Minuteman III nuclear missiles. The scheduled completion date is June 2008. The Headquarters 526th ICBM Systems Wing at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued the cotract (FA8402-05-C-0036-P00002).