SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

Postby Spider » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:24 am

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After pilot Peter Siebold called out a speed of Mach .8, Michael Alsbury, sitting in the right seat, moved a handle that controls the feathering mechanism from lock to unlock—which shouldn’t have been done until the spacecraft hit Mach 1.4. Alsbury did not activate the feather system, but aerodynamic load overpowered the actuators holding it in place, forcing it to open and causing SpaceShipTwo to break up in flight. Alsbury was killed; Siebold was badly inured but survived.

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The really damning issue, the report found, is that no one anticipated Alsbury’s mistake. It was no secret that unlocking the feather system early could be catastrophic, but Scaled Composites based its safety analysis on the idea that only a systems failure could make that happen. The company simply did not consider that kind of pilot error.

That catastrophic error is a harsh repudiation of the design philosophy behind the two aircraft: Rely on human skill instead of computers. All the systems on WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are manually operated, to keep everything as basic as possible.

“A simple system is less likely to fail,” chief pilot Dave Mackay told us during a visit to Virgin Galactic’s HQ in Mojave, California a few months before the crash. The pilots are an elite crew with serious bonafides—so it’s easy to see how you overlook the possibility of them screwing up.

Since the crash, Virgin Galactic has taken over the design of SpaceShipTwo1, an updated it to inhibit prematurely unlocking the feather system. A second unit is already being built.


http://www.wired.com/2015/07/blame-catastrophic-blindspot-virgin-galactic-crash/
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Re: SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

Postby spacemonkey » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:15 am

That stuff will never be routine, even though some might believe otherwise.
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Re: SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

Postby The Comrade » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:38 am

we've been launching stuff in to space for 50 years. it's pretty routine at this point.
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Re: SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

Postby spacemonkey » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:53 am

The Comrade wrote:we've been launching stuff in to space for 50 years. it's pretty routine at this point.

All the stuff launched don't always get there. However the successes are in greater numbers then the failures. The Pluto mission = freakin awesome.
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Re: SpaceShip 2 Crash: Determined to be Pilot Error

Postby Spider » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:52 pm

spacemonkey wrote:
The Comrade wrote:we've been launching stuff in to space for 50 years. it's pretty routine at this point.

All the stuff launched don't always get there. However the successes are in greater numbers then the failures. The Pluto mission = freakin awesome.


The space launch failure rate is just under 5%. Last year there were nearly a hundred of them. There's a launch somewhere every few days...we just don't hear about it unless it blows up or the owners name is Musk.
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