Re: Possible Falcon 9 explosion

From: Phillip Clark (
Date: Mon Sep 30 2013 - 23:24:59 UTC

Anyone done a Gabbard Diagram to show the orbits of the objects?   That 
might indicate the "violence" of the pieces' separations.

Phil Clark

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brian Weeden" <>
To: "Jonathan McDowell" <>
Cc: "Greg Roberts" <>; <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:15 AM
Subject: Re: Possible Falcon 9 explosion

> If STRATCOM has catalogued the pieces, that means they have multiple 
> tracks from multiple sites (or at least the same site multiple times) and 
> good enough data to maintain orbits on the separate pieces. So something 
> is there.
> The excess number of pieces may be due to debris from the various payload 
> deployments and separations and not an "explosion" specifically. But even 
> if that's the case, it's still a sloppy way to do business.
> Thankfully, the pieces are low enough in altitude that they won't be in 
> orbit very long.
> -------
> Brian
> On Sep 30, 2013, at 19:03, Jonathan McDowell <> wrote:
>> Greg - My understanding is that SpX don't think they had an explosion.
>> That doesn't mean they didn't get some small pieces
>> flying off the vehicle. I agree we'll have to wait for more data and
>> see what comes to light.
>> My rough calculation is that the excess objects may have separated
>> around 1640 UTC, while the venting that you saw
>> (which I suspect was not a second burn, but a post abort propellant
>> dump) was around 1700 UTC I believe?
>> On 30 September 2013 18:23, Greg Roberts <> wrote:
>>> Hi Jonathan ( and other readers)
>>> Evening - actually my morning now as past local midnight.   Ive just 
>>> been
>>> discussing on the  South African FACEBOOK pages (prior to just having 
>>> now
>>> read the SeeSat items about a possible 2nd stage exolosion) that have
>>> covered the event - my page and that of the RSG group - about what 
>>> appears
>>> to be multiple objects in severalof the numerous photographs taken here 
>>> in
>>> South Africa of the event. In view of the comment by Elon Musk that an
>>> attempt was made to restart the second stage engine  but the burn was
>>> aborted "due to an anomaly"  the question now arises was the "anomaly" 
>>> an
>>> actual explosion of the second stage engine/rocket ?  This might also
>>> explain the 20 odd pieces so far confirmed by SPACETRACK.  Having not 
>>> seen
>>> the event myself I have to rely on other peoples images/reports. The
>>> satellite/satellites went into earths shadow soon after the "halo" so 
>>> not
>>> enough time to get any seperation. But it was only in shadow for a
>>> relatively short time -- did observers north of the equator observe 
>>> multiple
>>> objects close together. From what I understand the six satellites 
>>> launched
>>> are relatively small so not that bright...... of course this is mostly
>>> guessing by me so we will have to see what becomes public knowledge - if
>>> ever.
>>> Cheers
>>> Greg
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