Friday, April 8, 2011
"Michael, our biz VP, said at ISDC that we show the good and the bad. Which reminded me that I was planning to share this video when we flew, and we've flown.
This is a test on March 30th 2009, the first time we tried to fire all four engines at the same time. We'd tested them all individually; the engines were from the crashed XA-0.1, which had actually landed on some of them. We repaired them and got them running again, and were planning on attempting a flight the next day.
As you can see, all four engine started up just fine, which is a great demonstration that multiple engines aren't impossible.
But a host of things proceeded to go wrong. A seal in a solenoid valve broke, and the valve stuck open. A pressure switch broke. Some bugs in the software popped up for the first time.
We'd done enough testing such that any one of these errors would have been recoverable, but the chain of events here resulted in an igniter refusing to turn off, and burning a hole in the side of the engine. The white flash is part of the aluminum jacket burning.
We retired the engines, for they had a variety of other problems. In one month we refit the vehicle for a single engine and did flight 1, and the rest as you can see in my other videos."