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Unmanned Spaceflight.com _ Private Missions _ Falcon 9 Launch & Recovery Operations

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 3 2008, 04:20 PM

SpaceX just sent a press release with an update on the Falcon 9. They successfully did a 5-engine test. They also mentioned the next Falcon 1 attempt will be late June "or July," presumably meaning "late June or early July," but you never know. :-)

Here's the full text. This isn't on their web page yet, the last I looked:

McGregor TX – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) conducted the first five-engine firing of its Falcon 9 medium to heavy lift rocket at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor on Thursday, May 29. At full power the engines generated almost half a million pounds of force, and consumed 1,750 lbs of fuel and liquid oxygen per second. This five engine test again sets the record as the most powerful test yet on the towering 235-foot tall test stand.
The test of the five Merlin 1C engines, arranged in a cross pattern like the Saturn V moon rocket, is the last step before firing the full complement of nine engines, scheduled for this summer. With all engines operating, the Falcon 9 generates over one million pounds of thrust in vacuum - four times the maximum thrust of a 747 aircraft.
“This is the first time that we’ve added more than one engine at a time, and all phases of integration and testing went smoothly,” said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX. “As with previous tests, we saw no unexpected interactions between the engines, and are on schedule for adding four more engines.”
The first Falcon 9 will arrive at the SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral by the end of 2008. The next flight of SpaceX’s smaller Falcon 1 rocket is scheduled for late June or July of 2008.

Posted by: jekbradbury Jun 14 2008, 04:02 PM

Wikipedia quotes June 23, 23:00 GMT for the next F1 launch, but cites a source that doesn't mention the date.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_in_spaceflight

Posted by: Greg Hullender Aug 21 2008, 04:13 PM

In all the excitement around the Falcon 1 launch earlier this month, no one reported that Space X managed an all-engines firing of the Falcon 9.

Admittedly, it's hard to get excited about Falcon 9 when Falcon 1 has yet to fly successfully, but all signs are they really do intend to try to launch this thing this year. Their web page still says "Q4 2008" so I guess we'll see.

--Greg

SpaceX Conducts Full Thrust Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Major milestone achieved towards demonstrating U.S. transport to the International Space Station following retirement of the Space Shuttle

McGregor TX – August 1, 2008 - Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) conducted the first nine engine firing of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor on July 30th. A second firing on August 1st completed a major NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) milestone almost two months early.

At full power, the nine engines consumed 3,200 lbs of fuel and liquid oxygen per second, and generated 832,000 pounds of force (lbf) – four times the maximum thrust of a 747 aircraft. This marks the first firing of a Falcon 9 first stage with its full complement of nine Merlin 1C engines . Once a near term Merlin 1C fuel pump upgrade is complete, the sea level thrust will increase to 950,000 lbf, making Falcon 9 the most powerful single core vehicle in the United States.

“This was the most difficult milestone in development of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and it also constitutes a significant achievement in US space vehicle development. Not since the final flight of the Saturn 1B rocket in 1975, has a rocket had the ability to lose any engine or motor and still successfully complete its mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. “Much like a commercial airliner, our multi-engine design has the potential to provide significantly higher reliability than single engine competitors.”

“We made a major advancement from the previous five engine test by adding four new Merlin engines at once,” said Tom Mueller, Vice President of Propulsion for SpaceX. “All phases of integration went smoothly and we were elated to see all nine engines working perfectly in concert.”


Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 10 2008, 02:46 AM

Another Falcon 9 update. They claim they're still on target to launch this year.

SpaceX Receives USAF Operational License for Cape Canaveral Launch Site

Company Remains on Schedule to Initiate Falcon 9 Commercial Operations in Q4 2008

Cape Canaveral FL – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (http://cmpgnr.com/r.html?c=1307831&r=1306745&t=1383892832&l=1&d=90033969&u=http%3a%2f%2fwww%2espacex%2ecom%2findex%2ephp&g=0&f=-1) has been granted an Operational License by the US Air Force for the use of Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. Receipt of the license, in conjunction with the approved Site Plan, paves the way for SpaceX to initiate Falcon 9 launch operations later this year.

"We are developing Falcon 9 to be a valuable asset to the American space launch fleet," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "The support we received from General Helms and the US Air Force has been immensely helpful in developing the pathfinder processes necessary for SpaceX to realize commercial space flights from the Cape."

"Our developments at Complex 40 continue with great speed," added Brian Mosdell, Director of Florida Launch Operations for SpaceX. "We have moved our massive oxygen storage tank into place, and expect to complete construction of our hangar later this year."


Posted by: dvandorn Sep 10 2008, 04:10 AM

So Falcon 9 will be using the old Titan III pad, eh? Are they also going to use the old Titan assembly building, I wonder?

-the other Doug

Posted by: MahFL Sep 10 2008, 04:44 PM

So we can expect a huge explosion there then when Falcon 9 blows up ?

Posted by: ugordan Sep 10 2008, 06:02 PM

I'm hoping that the launch is successful even more now just so I don't have to read snide comments like that. The easiest thing is being a bystander mocking other people's failures.

Posted by: mchan Sep 14 2008, 09:54 AM

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Sep 9 2008, 09:10 PM) *
So Falcon 9 will be using the old Titan III pad, eh? Are they also going to use the old Titan assembly building, I wonder?

IIRC, the LC40/41 Vertical Integration Building will be or has already been dismantled. This is the 4 bay building where the core is built. The building in the middle of the rail line where the SRMs are attached may be retained for possible use.

Posted by: GravityWaves Sep 18 2008, 03:28 AM

I heard range safety or ground safety and personnel problems were delaying this one

Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 24 2008, 07:18 PM

I just noticed that SpaceX has added a document discussing the use of the Falcon 9 to launch payloads to the moon.

http://www.spacex.com/FalconLunarCapabilityGuide.pdf

It says they can put 1.925 metric tons into a Trans-lunar Injection orbit for $46.8M. It also mentions (in a graph) putting 1.2 tons into "Mars XFER". I was trying to see how that compares to either Phoenix or MSL, but I can't quite find the equivalent numbers. Anyone have them handy?

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 26 2008, 08:46 PM

Elon apparently did an online interview with the Washington Post.

http://www.spacex.com/media.php?page=20080926

Here are some excerpts I thought were interesting:

Washington, D.C.: If and when you manage to get all the Falcons and Dragon up and running, what's next? Further incremental improvements on these or something more revolutionary? Also, where do you stand on the value of the various X-prizes (and equivalents)?

Elon Musk: Still a long way to getting *all* the Falcons and Dragons flying. We need to get F1 to orbit for one thing smile.gif Then F9, F9 with Cargo Dragon, F9 with crew Drago and F9 Heavy. My interest is very much in the direction of Mars, so a Mars lander of some kind might be the next step.

Stillwater, Minn.: Mr. Musk, first of all, I've been following SpaceX via your website since before Flight 1, and I hope to join you all someday (I'm an undergrad ChEg at Notre Dame). Talk about the inherent advantages of your rockets over those designed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing (reusability, smaller size = significantly smaller cost, redundancies on the Falcon 9, etc.)

Elon Musk: The full answer for why SpaceX is lower cost is too long for this forum and I don't like to give soundbite answers if they are incorrect. The cost of a single use rocket is:

* Engines

* Structures

* Avionics

* Launch operation

* Overhead

We are better on every one at SpaceX vs competitors -- by a factor of two vs most international and four vs domestic. That is before reuse is considered, which could ultimately be a 10X or more additional reduction.

Los Angeles, Calif.: Elon: What's the latest news on Flight 4?

Elon Musk: Launch window is still holding for Sunday through Tuesday.

Urbana, Ill.: Right now you have two rockets based on the same first-stage engine (Merlin). To launch Falcon 9 Heavy, you'll need 27 of those engines to fire simultaneously. Do you have any plans to develop a larger engine in the future so that such clustering is not necessary?

Elon Musk: Yeah, I think there is an argument for a really really big Falcon engine or BFE, as we call it smile.gif

That would be equal or greater to the thrust of 27 Merlin 1C engines. Would be exciting to see that fire! On the other hand, lots of small engines can give very high reliability. Google uses lots of small PC computers for their search service and it has never ever gone down.

Calistoga, Calif.: Elon,

Your business plan emphasis low man power as cost savings method, how does NASA documentation requirements impact your man power requirements? In other words, how many of SpaceX staff are on board solely to deal with NASA requirements?

Elon Musk: The documentation does add to the cost per flight, perhaps on the order of 25% or so. However, the NASA people we deal with seem genuinely interested in reducing that cost (without affecting reliability, of course). Since we are not a cost plus contractor, we are incented towards efficiency, much like an airline.

-----

--Greg

Posted by: mcaplinger Sep 26 2008, 10:55 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Sep 24 2008, 12:18 PM) *
It also mentions (in a graph) putting 1.2 tons into "Mars XFER". I was trying to see how that compares to either Phoenix or MSL, but I can't quite find the equivalent numbers.

PHX injected mass was 670 kg, but one always has to be careful about the specifics of the transfer orbit for any given mission, since the C3 to Mars can vary by a factor of 2. You need more information than a single number to assess mission feasibility.

MSL injected mass is, according to http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/spacecraft.html, about 3400 kg.

Posted by: nprev Sep 27 2008, 12:01 AM

A little birdie just told me to check spacex.com on Sunday afternoon around 1600 PDT (2300 GMT) for live streaming video of the F1 flight 3 launch from Kwajalein.

(I make no claims for the veracity of little birdies, BTW, but thought you'd all like to know.)

Posted by: ugordan Nov 23 2008, 04:49 PM

A major milestone in Falcon 9 development was completed last night with a full duration, 3 minute static firing of the first stage engines in McGregor, Texas. There's no official SpaceX release yet, but http://ww2.kwtx.com/global/video/flash/clipId=3166268 reported on the test and includes SpaceX official video and also an interview with a SpaceX employee who conducted the test.

There's also an interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9n6rYoSGNQ showing the test and rattling of his house walls/windows. Apparently, the meteorological conditions conspired to make the test felt quite a long way away and scared a big bunch of people as far as 25 miles away.

EDIT: Video now up on SpaceX site: http://www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=32&cat=recent

Posted by: MahFL Nov 23 2008, 10:06 PM

Wow, that sounds powerful.

Posted by: ugordan Dec 22 2008, 11:30 PM

Just a heads-up for those of you who are interested, but weren't following it closely; the http://www.spacex.com/updates.php on the SpaceX site has frequent updates with images on the status of Falcon 9 shipping to the Cape. They're pressing on with their (self-imposed) deadline of having a Falcon 9 integrated and even vertical at the Cape by the end of the year. It's gonna be tight with only 8 more days left, but they say they're on track.

An interesting bit is they are currently assembling it practically in the open, the hangar isn't built yet. I believe a tent will be the interim solution.
The first Falcon 9 will not consist 100% of flight hardware, some of it is qualification hardware (flight worthy, but designed for testing) meaning that not all of the current components will actually fly, but it will show for the first time what an actual vehicle looks like, at least from the outside.

It will be interesting to follow the development which should culminate in a static firing at the pad in a few months, before the first actual launch (which apparently has an Air Force payload booked).

Posted by: jekbradbury Dec 24 2008, 01:47 AM

Apparently SpaceX has http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20081223 1.6 billion dollars in firm NASA contracts and beaten out Orbital to become the ISS Commercial Orbital Transportation Services provider. If the Falcon 9 missions are really priced at about 50 million, that means 32 missions, which would be a great start for a new and potentially planetary mission class launch vehicle.

Posted by: Del Palmer Dec 24 2008, 02:39 AM

QUOTE (jekbradbury @ Dec 24 2008, 01:47 AM) *
Apparently SpaceX has http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20081223 1.6 billion dollars in firm NASA contracts and beaten out Orbital to become the ISS Commercial Orbital Transportation Services provider.


Not quite -- NASA has awarded two contracts: to Orbital (8 flights) and SpaceX (12 flights).

Posted by: Rakhir Dec 31 2008, 10:14 AM

It's impressive to see for the first time a Falcon 9 fully integrated.
http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

Posted by: ugordan Jan 6 2009, 03:26 PM

A couple of images via Flickr:

http://flickr.com/photos/hansepe/3171886829/
http://flickr.com/photos/hansepe/3172718456/

Externally, the vehicle is still missing the engine fairings and base heat shield.

Posted by: OKB001 Jan 6 2009, 04:00 PM

That is one nice looking rocket, for sure. I just wishes they had more successful Falcon 1 missions under their belt before moving on to the Falcon 9 ...

Posted by: ugordan Jan 6 2009, 04:13 PM

Another Falcon 1 is slated to be launched before the first Falcon 9. There's a point of diminishing returns in what you learn for F9 from successive F1 flights. By now they have already verified that F1 avionics, propulsion and structure pretty much work as advertised. Since both vehicles share a good deal of those that bodes well for the larger vehicle. Other aspects of F9 can't be tested with the F1 anyway and ground testing/simulations only work so well.

In the end you simply have to fly that thing and see what happens.

Posted by: dvandorn Jan 6 2009, 05:58 PM

Now, my understanding is that this particular Falcon 9 that is being assembled contains "many" flight systems but also contains some non-flight components, and will never fly as a unit. That it's rather like the 500-F version of the Saturn V, that was stacked and rolled out to the pad as a test vehicle to validate the procedures needed to get the bird ready to fly.

So, before a Falcon 9 actually flies, the article we're seeing right now will need to be taken apart and a full flight vehicle will need to be assembled. Correct?

Ergo, it's not like we're on the verge of seeing this bird take to the skies... and in fact, this particular bird never will, in its present configuration.

So I wouldn't worry about it flying before they have a chance to get a couple more Falcon 1 successes under their belts.

-the other Doug

Posted by: ugordan Jan 6 2009, 07:12 PM

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jan 6 2009, 06:58 PM) *
Now, my understanding is that this particular Falcon 9 that is being assembled contains "many" flight systems but also contains some non-flight components, and will never fly as a unit. That it's rather like the 500-F version of the Saturn V, that was stacked and rolled out to the pad as a test vehicle to validate the procedures needed to get the bird ready to fly.

So, before a Falcon 9 actually flies, the article we're seeing right now will need to be taken apart and a full flight vehicle will need to be assembled. Correct?

Correct, this vehicle is not the exact maiden flight vehicle, but it does contain the majority of actual flight hardware that'll see flight. It's unclear what exactly components will be replaced for the flight, in this regard it's not like SA-500F in that this one will not be shelved and discarded, but the majority of what you see here is actually bound to fly. Elon can't afford building too many non-flight items just for this purpose if he wants to get this bird off the ground and start making profit.

The non-flight ready (perhaps qualification components) will for the time being be used for pathfinding activities at the pad, once the hangar is built it will be destacked and the remaining non-flight components will be replaced with flight units. It's possible the 1st stage engines will be replaced since these are the ones that disturbed Texans for 3 minutes in November. The 2nd stage engine is missing the huge nozzle extension (not visible inside the interstage) and probably none of the avionics are installed yet. The 2nd stage might be a qualification unit altogether.

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jan 6 2009, 06:58 PM) *
So I wouldn't worry about it flying before they have a chance to get a couple more Falcon 1 successes under their belts.

As I said above, the launch manifest calls for just one Falcon 1 launch before the maiden Falcon 9 flight is scheduled. There's a total of 2 F1s manifested in 2009 so unless F9 is seriously delayed, that'll be it. For comparison, there are 5 (!) F9 flights scheduled for this year.

Posted by: Zvezdichko Jan 11 2009, 10:34 AM

SpaceX announces, that Falcon 9 is now vertical:

http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

It's great!


Posted by: DarthVader Jan 11 2009, 10:04 PM

That is pretty neat indeed. That's one good looking rocket there :-)

Posted by: dvandorn Jan 11 2009, 10:09 PM

I dunno -- from some angles, it looks a lot like my old Centuri Payloader... huh.gif

-the other Doug

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Jan 12 2009, 01:54 AM

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Jan 11 2009, 02:09 PM) *
it looks a lot like my old Centuri Payloader...

Better yours than mine. Last time I saw that rocket, it was swinging from a 500kv line 100 feet off the ground.

Posted by: ugordan Jan 12 2009, 08:51 AM

Several new nice looking pictures are now posted at the update page above.

Posted by: Vultur Jan 15 2009, 04:55 AM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Jan 6 2009, 07:12 PM) *
As I said above, the launch manifest calls for just one Falcon 1 launch before the maiden Falcon 9 flight is scheduled. There's a total of 2 F1s manifested in 2009 so unless F9 is seriously delayed, that'll be it. For comparison, there are 5 (!) F9 flights scheduled for this year.


That sounds ambitious; I hope they can do it.

Posted by: ugordan Jan 15 2009, 09:41 AM

I'm not personally betting on it. I can imagine getting 3 F9s off the ground this year with a couple of months between them. Still a long way to go before the pad is fully armed and operational.

Posted by: Pavel Mar 8 2009, 04:47 AM

I'm worried that there have been no news from SpaceX for almost two months. Falcon 9 is vertical, but what is happening to it now? How long can it stand on the launch pad, exposed to the elements?

Posted by: imipak Mar 8 2009, 12:52 PM

Nothing to worry about; see http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=5204&view=findpost&p=133741, above... Also, the only information about the schedule I'm aware of (dated Feb 2008) talks about http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2008/02/27/221883/spacex-falcon-9-maiden-flight-delayed-by-six-months-to-late-q1.html leading to a launch late in Q1 2009.


Posted by: stevesliva Jun 19 2009, 01:23 PM

37-page presentation to the Augustine Comission. (dun, duuuuuun, dun dun!)
http://spacex.com/SpaceXBriefing_AugustineCommission.pdf

And similar content here:
http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

Sounds like F9 flies in November '09 and Jan '10.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jul 29 2009, 08:08 PM

New press release from SpaceX about Falcon 9. Not posted on spacex.com yet. Basically good news, but still no concrete launch date.

--Greg

SPACEX COMPLETES QUALIFICATION OF FALCON 9 FIRST STAGE TANK AND INTERSTAGE
________________________________________
McGregor, TX (July 29, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage. Testing took place at SpaceX's Texas Test Site, a 300 acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas.

The first stage tank and interstage hardware were subjected to a proof test of 1.1 times the maximum expected operating pressure (MEOP), and a burst pressure proof test of 1.4 MEOP; qualifying both articles with a 1.4 factor of safety. The 1.4 factor of safety designation means that the first stage tank and the interstage can withstand 140 percent the maximum internal pressure expected during flight, and qualifies both pieces of hardware to meet human rating safety requirements, as defined by NASA. The first stage also passed this human rating milestone when subjected to structural bending tests.
The testing regimen included over 150 pressurization cycles, exceeding the number of required life cycles by more than 100. In addition, the first stage and interstage were subjected to stiffness tests, maximum dynamic pressure loading and main engine cutoff conditions; all at expected values, as well as ultimate loads.

"Falcon 9 continues to pass qualification testing in preparation for its first flight, scheduled for 2009," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "All hardware was designed to be man-rated, and these tests confirm that SpaceX is one step closer to flying humans on the Falcon 9/Dragon system."
Falcon 9's first stage and interstage also passed ground wind qualification tests, critical for when the vehicle is vertical on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Both components were designed, built and tested by SpaceX.

Posted by: ugordan Aug 21 2009, 04:20 PM

It's a slow news month from SpaceX so in the meantime here's a http://picasaweb.google.com/hopefig6/EngineFire#5359548478183818754 (via NSF.com) of an acceptance firing of one Merlin 1c engine. If you click the HQ version, you can discern the engine gimbal test at around 22 sec. Nine of these engines on the Falcon 9 first stage produce slightly more liftoff thrust than an Atlas V.

Posted by: djellison Aug 21 2009, 10:17 PM

That video is from quite...err...close. Wow.

Worth going for the hq vid for the good sound ohmy.gif

Posted by: climber Aug 24 2009, 08:21 PM

From Spacefightnow: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0908/24falcon9/
I learnt a few things.

Posted by: MahFL Aug 26 2009, 02:52 PM

That page appears empty to my IE browser.

Posted by: djellison Aug 26 2009, 03:08 PM

Still fine here ( Chrome, Firefox, Safari )

Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 24 2009, 05:19 PM

SpaceX e-mailed an update this morning -- it's not posted at http://spacex.com/ yet, so I'll summarize here -- skipping all references to MSF, of course. :-)

The first Falcon 9 will be assembled on the pad in November. It will launch between December and February, depending on factors like weather and the launch schedule at the cape. Payload will be the "Dragon Qualification Unit" which will give them aerodynamic and performance information for the payloads on the subsequent COTS flights.

The second flight will use a real Dragon capsule (unmanned, of course) to deliver cargo to the ISS and return for reuse. This will use their Dragoneye system for automated docking (which they tested in July on a Shuttle mission) and their parachute system, which they tested in Texas. (Parachute was the last step for "primary structure qualification".)

They have booked 22 Falcon 9 flights now. Since they plan to reuse the first stage, they're only making 18 first-stage Merlin engines right now, plus at least two of the Vacuum Merlins that the second stage uses. That vacuum engine completed qualification testing last week, but it still has to complete acceptance testing before the inaugural launch.

The first-stage for flight #1 is being assembled in Texas right now and they'll test-fire it there before they ship it to Florida. The second stage is due to start testing there shortly.

For flight #2, they're still fabricating the tanks in California, and they're about half done.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Sep 24 2009, 05:26 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Sep 24 2009, 07:19 PM) *
SpaceX e-mailed an update this morning -- it's not posted at http://spacex.com/ yet

Yes, it is: http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

QUOTE
The second flight will use a real Dragon capsule (unmanned, of course) to deliver cargo to the ISS and return for reuse.

It will fly a functioning Dragon, including recovery systems but it will not go to ISS. It's a 5 hour flight to check out Dragon subsystems, AFAIK it won't even need solar panels for that flight.

QUOTE
Since they plan to reuse the first stage, they're only making 18 first-stage Merlin engines right now, plus at least two of the Vacuum Merlins that the second stage uses.

They're eventually hoping to reuse the stages, but that won't happen that soon. They're still ramping up production of Merlin engines to a goal of one per week. NASA CRS contract also demands a brand new Falcon 9 + Dragon on each of the 12 resupply flights so it's no-go on reuse there, they need all the engines they can build right now.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 27 2009, 04:50 PM

I just noticed a Spaceflight Now article was posted a couple of days with some information I hadn't seen before, which they got from a phone interview with Elon Musk:

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0909/24falcon/

The dragon capsule for Flight #1 will end up in a circular orbit 155 miles up, but won't have engines to maneuver itself. Nevertheless, it'll carry a payload of some sort for an unidentified customer.

SpaceX has actually requested a November 29 launch date, but Musk says that'll only happen if everything goes according to plan. He said that on the last two Falcon 1 flights everything actually DID go according to plan, but, of course, this is a brand new rocket.

It agrees with UGordan that Flight #2 won't even try to get close to the ISS, and #3 will approach but not try to dock. It implies that #4 WILL try to dock, assuming the other flights went okay.

(Apologies if there are any errors in the summary.)

UGordan: I really appreciate your corrections, clarifications, and new information -- especially since you seem to have some kind of inside information. :-) Do you know why they're not trying harder to recover and reuse the rockets? They've made a big deal in their printed materials about how important that is.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Sep 27 2009, 05:16 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Sep 27 2009, 06:50 PM) *
The dragon capsule for Flight #1 will end up in a circular orbit 155 miles up, but won't have engines to maneuver itself. Nevertheless, it'll carry a payload of some sort for an unidentified customer.

No, the first Falcon 9 was supposed to carry a (tentatively government) payload and use the large 5m payload fairing, but the customer dropped out at one point so the plan until now was to fly a dummy payload (similar to F1 flight 4). Since Avanti, their 1st F9 customer, also dropped out recently and switched to Ariane 5 or Soyuz, the immediate need for demonstrating the 5m fairing went away. Along with the fact it's apparently a pacing item in development, they decided not to postpone the inaugural F9 flight any more than necessary to wait for the fairing and just fly a Dragon structural qualification unit instead. But there won't be any other payload onboard. It'll be just an instrumented shell. Maybe they'll throw in some bricks to simulate mass, but that's it...

QUOTE
UGordan: I really appreciate your corrections, clarifications, and new information -- especially since you seem to have some kind of inside information. :-) Do you know why they're not trying harder to recover and reuse the rockets? They've made a big deal in their printed materials about how important that is.

No inside information here, I've just been closely following them. Regarding stage recovery the story goes something like this: back after flight 2 (or 3) they realized the first stage gets cooked on the way down so they need to improve its thermal protection system. Since flt3 was a failure that destroyed the 1st stage and they wanted to go ahead with flt4 ASAP (it went just 2 months after No.3), there was no time to fix the known TPS issue. Then came F1-05 and Razaksat and they decided they wouldn't try recovery on it yet - in fact they had to remove the recovery hardware to install a vibration dampener system for the satellite once the vibration problem was discovered. They said they'll make a bigger effort in recovering 1st stages with the Falcon 1e.

As for Falcon 9, Elon did say they were going to try recovering the 1st stage on the first flight (not 2nd stage yet), but that was several months ago and I wouldn't be surprised if schedule pressure made them drop recovery again. He stressed this is something that's untrivial to pull off and it might take them several flights and years to work out - hence why their pricing assumes no stage recovery.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Sep 27 2009, 05:44 PM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Sep 27 2009, 10:16 AM) *
But there won't be any other payload onboard. It'll be just an instrumented shell.

You know, on rereading the article, it's clear you're correct, but on a first read it definitely seemed as though they were talking about the contents of the Dragon capsule. The human ability to read what one expects to see -- regardless of the actual text -- is very strong . . .

It's a shame that the stage recovery is so difficult. I'd guess the loss of the engines is the worst part, just in terms of expense.

Do you actually think they'll ever be able to recover the second stage? I'd have thought it would burn up on reentry. Especially if even the first stage is "cooked."

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Sep 27 2009, 06:00 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Sep 27 2009, 07:44 PM) *
It's a shame that the stage recovery is so difficult. I'd guess the loss of the engines is the worst part, just in terms of expense.

They're expensive, no doubt, but I believe the majority of the vehicle cost is concentrated not in the first stage, but in the upper stage where all the expensive avionics and air-startable/restartable engines are.

QUOTE
Do you actually think they'll ever be able to recover the second stage?

Don't know; probably nobody knows that yet. They are planning on flying a heat shield on the stage similar to the Dragon one, but that and deorbit propellant comes directly from the vehicle's total payload capacity so it's a tradeoff between getting max payload and getting the stage back.
Reentering a stage which has its center of gravity at the back (the engine section) is dynamically unstable so active control is needed etc. Keep in mind salt water exposure is one of the bigger problems in recovering stages - the thing is corrosive, it harms avionics and engines.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Oct 21 2009, 09:16 PM

Another press release: http://spacex.com/press.php?page=20091021

They completed their structural and propulsion acceptance tests for the first stage with two static firings of all nine engines at their Texas test site, and they're shipping it to Cape Canaveral next month.

No word on the static firing for the second stage, but one would guess that'll happen soon. They still seem to be right on target to do vehicle integration in November, with the maiden launch anywhere from December to February.

--Greg

Posted by: imipak Oct 21 2009, 09:55 PM

Full nine-engine test firing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=BYLtXhCcNWc

(Also on the SpaceX site at http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=32 .)

Posted by: ugordan Oct 21 2009, 10:17 PM

imipak, that's the last year's test. http://mms.businesswire.com/bwapps/mediaserver/ViewMedia?mgid=201984&vid=5&download=1 is currently the only image from the two recent firings - the 10 second one to be specific (higher res image, courtesy Business Wire). You can see the flight stage is not completely painted white yet.

Posted by: imipak Oct 22 2009, 11:30 AM

D'oh! I didn't realise they'd done a previous nine-up test firing. Thanks for the correction smile.gif

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Oct 22 2009, 01:34 PM

QUOTE (imipak @ Oct 21 2009, 02:55 PM) *
Full nine-engine test firing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=BYLtXhCcNWc

This is so cool. I am so excited for Elon and his team. Mostly I am excited for the future of commercial spaceflight.

Posted by: nprev Oct 22 2009, 10:26 PM

Hopefully not OT, but the http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html is on the tentative launch schedule now.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Oct 23 2009, 04:11 AM

No worries. The idea was to create a single thread to hold Falcon 9 discussion up until Launch #1. Around the time they start the countdown, it'll make sense to start a fresh thread and close this one, since (odds are) that thread will accumulate more posts in a couple of days than this one has in months and months.

Posted by: ugordan Oct 29 2009, 08:50 PM

Not too surprisingly, the launch is now http://www.spacenews.com/launch/requested-falcon-range-date-has-conflict.html.

QUOTE
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has requested a Feb. 2 range date for the maiden flight of its Falcon 9 medium-lift rocket, according to a 90-day launch range forecast issued Oct. 28 by the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jan 5 2010, 05:29 PM

New Update: http://spacex.com/updates.php

Second stage passed its last test and is being shipped to Florida by end of January. Launch should be one to three months later, so call it no sooner than March 1 and no later than May 1 -- assuming all goes well. I think Elon has previously said that this wide uncertainty reflects the fact that this is their first launch from KSC.

--Greg

Posted by: climber Feb 12 2010, 11:35 AM

New Update: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30220
Nice looking rocket BTW, very "clean" d the Dragon looks much bigger than I thought. Edited: using Ugordan link (thanks) I suspect part of what I though was the Dragon could be it's fairing instead.
Trouble here is that we could fall into the Manned spacefligth side is we don't care enought but well, so far so good.
Less than 3 months to "see" the maiden flight of a new rocket, I can't wait to watch this.

Posted by: ugordan Feb 12 2010, 11:38 AM

Higher resolution images are available at the http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=multimedia_detail&eid=6175902&newsLang=en release.

Climber, the sloped thing at the top is the Dragon capsule (missing the nose cone), the cylindrical thing attached to its bottom is the unpressurized trunk section. Both will be pretty much inert, dummy units for the inaugural flight. Not a working Dragon capsule.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Feb 12 2010, 10:50 PM

QUOTE (climber @ Feb 12 2010, 03:35 AM) *
Trouble here is that we could fall into the M****d s*********t side

We ought to be able to safely discuss everything else about the Falcon 9 -- everything we're actually interested in -- with little or no loss. We just can't talk about those kinds of applications for it.

I still maintain that the Falcon 9 is very exciting for UMSF because it promises to eventually make big changes to the cost equation for missions we care about deeply. If Elon finds other uses for it -- hey, that's great. I figure I'll read about them somewhere else.

--Greg (I'll admit I don't want to fly in it if I have to be unmanned first!) :-)

Posted by: stevesliva Feb 12 2010, 11:34 PM

So is it me looking at something else, or does the vacuum engine on the second stage have an enormous nozzle? And is that a huge interstage?

Posted by: ugordan Feb 12 2010, 11:42 PM

Yes and yes. Trying to squeeze every bit of vacuum specific impulse that's practical.

Posted by: djellison Feb 13 2010, 12:18 AM

Ever seen the nozzle for the upper stage of a Delta IV. Seriously - i've seen smaller central-London apartments.

Posted by: Adzel Feb 13 2010, 12:37 AM

*

Posted by: djellison Feb 13 2010, 12:45 AM

OCO is a long term monitoring spacecraft (for which new funds have been earmarked). DragonLab is a short term on orbit and then landed vehicle - totally different requirements, orbits, etc etc

Posted by: nprev Feb 13 2010, 01:04 AM

IIRC, an OCO 2 is specifically called out in the FY11 executive branch budget proposal, and if approved will be a high-fidelity refly of the baseline mission (as much as that's ever possible to do; things change). The Dragon system is obviously still very much in the testing phases; I haven't heard of anyone at all proposing hardline operational missions of any sort for it just yet.

Posted by: ugordan Feb 13 2010, 05:20 PM

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4105129088/ of the (uncoated ?) 2nd stage niobium nozzle extension. According to SpaceX, parts of it are only 1/3 mm thick, no wonder that hangar image shows what appear to be strengthening ribs. If this contraption works, it will make Merlin Vacuum the highest specific impulse kerosene engine ever made in the U.S.

Also, inside the interstage notice that silvery packaged stuff, it's speculated to be a parachute for the 1st stage recovery system. Seeing how F1 first stages always got cooked before parachute deploy, I wonder how this one will fare - assuming the flight goes through nominal staging.

Posted by: nprev Feb 13 2010, 06:28 PM

Well, if they're lucky the (postulated) recovery system will work perfectly the first time. Engineering is iterative in nature, though, and prioritization is essential. I'll be deeply impressed if F9-1 delivers full performance & the Dragon flight qual model just barely reaches orbit on this first attempt, never mind the ancillary systems' performance.

Posted by: ugordan Feb 13 2010, 06:52 PM

They have undoubtedly learned some hard lessons with F1, but F9 is a much more complex vehicle, especially the first stage. It's not unrealistic to expect the first flight to fail, but if it got as far as F1 #2 went, it wouldn't be that bad IMO. As long as they gather enough data to make #2 work. There are many unknowns, though - how will the 9 engines work and how will the avionics be able to control them? Will there be pogo? Will the 2nd stage engine light in vacuum and zero G? Will the nozzle extension work?

As they say: stay tuned...

Posted by: nprev Feb 13 2010, 07:10 PM

We're clearly in violent agreement, G. smile.gif Gonna cut considerable slack for them; the laws of physics never will, and we gotta show some love.

Posted by: lyford Feb 13 2010, 09:09 PM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Feb 13 2010, 09:20 AM) *
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/4105129088/ of the (uncoated ?) 2nd stage niobium nozzle extension.


That image set has some nice stuff in it, and here's to hoping the launch goes better than http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/138732385/in/set-5956/ that was featured in the above sidebar. Would this person be classified as an "enthusiast?" smile.gif


Posted by: Adzel Feb 14 2010, 04:44 PM

*

Posted by: Greg Hullender Feb 14 2010, 05:48 PM

Iin 2004 Musk told the US Senate he thought $500/pound (so roughly $1,000/kg) was achievable.

http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=10

Looking at current Falcon 9 pricing http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php one sees he's asking $44M to put 10,450 kg into LEO, which works out to a bit over $4,000 per kg.

--Greg

Posted by: djellison Feb 14 2010, 06:09 PM

QUOTE (Adzel @ Feb 14 2010, 04:44 PM) *
Does anyone know what the SpaceX organization is planning to charge?


I do. I found out by reading their website.

http://spacex.com/falcon9.php

No offense, but why WOULDN'T you do the same?

Posted by: nprev Feb 14 2010, 07:50 PM

It's all reasonable. You gotta recoup development costs to stay solvent. Their business model is clearly predicated on demand, which based on historical trends is definitely there. If they can make a product that captures a large enough segment of global demand they win, otherwise they're toast.

In the global marketplace, it's all high-stakes poker. Hope they got a good hand; certainly they're incentivized (to use the current buzzword) to do so.

Posted by: Adzel Feb 14 2010, 08:15 PM

Greg: Thank you for the information. I was just curious. IIRC the $1000/kg figure came up (about 25+) years ago in the early stages of the STS development.

djellison: No offence intended.

Posted by: ugordan Feb 21 2010, 06:56 PM

It's on the pad now: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/100220rollout/

Crop and slight enhancement of an image taken today by Mike Robel of NSF.com forums:


Posted by: Greg Hullender Feb 21 2010, 07:17 PM

Key info from the article is that the launch will be no sooner than March 22, and Elon, citing the uncertainties that accompany new-vehicle development, is saying "March to May" with perhaps most probability around late April.

They're doing a dress rehersal next week, though, where they'll fuel up the rocket and fire the engines for about four seconds.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Feb 21 2010, 07:31 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Feb 21 2010, 08:17 PM) *
They're doing a dress rehersal next week, though, where they'll fuel up the rocket and fire the engines for about four seconds.

Based on previous timelines, I'm skeptical they'll manage to do a wet dress rehearsal and a static test by the end of the week. I'd be surprised if even the wet dress rehearsal happened during that timeframe.

A static firing is the last crucial test of the pad, rocket, the team and countdown sequence before the launch, and actual launch could happen as soon as a week after that. Elon saying he doesn't expect launch happening that soon suggests he also realizes there'll be many bugs to work out and things figured out before getting to that static firing.

EDIT: New images at http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/100221rollout/index.html.

Posted by: Littlebit Feb 21 2010, 09:30 PM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Feb 21 2010, 12:31 PM) *
Based on previous timelines, I'm skeptical they'll manage to do a wet dress rehearsal and a static test by the end of the week. I'd be surprised if even the wet dress rehearsal happened during that timeframe. ...

Doing anything at Canaveral the first time is quite a culture shock. It can take days to complete even simple tasks. (Did you remember to include water bottles in the itemized tool list for technicians at the assembly site? Plan on three days to get the revised planning approved...and don't forget the safety data sheets for the bottles and the water.)

Posted by: Den Feb 22 2010, 09:45 AM

Full inline quote removed. - ADMIN

I sure hope Musk will be able to cut much of that nonsense out.

Posted by: Jim from NSF.com Feb 22 2010, 08:48 PM

QUOTE (Littlebit @ Feb 21 2010, 04:30 PM) *
Doing anything at Canaveral the first time is quite a culture shock. It can take days to complete even simple tasks. (Did you remember to include water bottles in the itemized tool list for technicians at the assembly site? Plan on three days to get the revised planning approved...and don't forget the safety data sheets for the bottles and the water.)


Huh? Not true. You are propagating a myth. Spacex is the only one that has to approved Spacex's planning and Spacex can work at its own speed. The range has little influence/effect on the day to day ops. The only ops that the range is interested in are the hazardous ones.

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Feb 23 2010, 01:48 AM

QUOTE (Jim from NSF.com @ Feb 22 2010, 12:48 PM) *
Spacex is the only one that has to approved [sic] Spacex's planning and Spacex can work at its own speed.


I agree about Spacex. If any bunch of newcomers can handle themselves at a launch facility these guys and gals can. What an amazing group of people Elon has working for him!

Posted by: Greg Hullender Feb 28 2010, 03:17 PM

Well, the wet dress rehersal did in fact happen on Friday afternoon, and SpaceX said it went very well.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/100226wetdress/index.html

The Static Fire test is planned for "the coming weeks.'

They repeated that launch will be "no earlier than" March 22, and that the launch window opens at 11AM every day. I don't think that means they could just launch any day without notice, though. :-)

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Feb 28 2010, 06:34 PM

More details on the countdown dress rehearsal: http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=18997

As I'm posting this, the vehicle is horizontal at the pad and technicians appear to be removing all cork from the 1st stage LOX tank as big segments of it http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html. The static fire probably won't happen before a new cork layer is applied, could also require de-mating the vehicle from the transporter/erector which all takes time. With this and the http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/100224approvals/, I wouldn't put the chances of launching in March as very high.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 2 2010, 12:17 PM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Feb 28 2010, 10:34 AM) *
. . . I wouldn't put the chances of launching in March as very high.

My scheduling philosophy is "never say what year."

--Greg :-)

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 6 2010, 05:38 PM

Firing test was rescheduled for Monday.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

They're saying to expect an April launch -- more or less.

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 8 2010, 06:54 PM

Make that Tuesday.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

(For the test, not the launch!) :-)

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 9 2010, 03:05 PM

According to Spaceflight Now, the test-fire is scheduled for 1 PM EST, which is 10 AM PST (1800Z) today.

--Greg

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Mar 9 2010, 05:51 PM

Thanks Greg. Almost missed it.

Posted by: ugordan Mar 9 2010, 07:15 PM

Abort post ignition, looked pretty scary. Scrub for the day. Hope no damage to the vehicle.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 10 2010, 02:25 AM

Here's some info taken from Spaceflight now. Executive Summary: They detected an anomoly in the Spin Start system and decided to take the rest of the day to study that, rather than immediately try again. The rocket never fired at all.

QUOTE
SpaceX has provided the following statement after today's static fire attempt:
"Today SpaceX performed our first Static Fire for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. We counted down to T-2 seconds and aborted on Spin Start. Given that this was our first abort event on this pad, we decided to scrub for the day to get a good look at the rocket before trying again. Everything looks great at first glance."

"We completed pad preps on time and with good execution. The integrated countdown with the range included holdfire checks, S-band telemetry, C-band, and FTS simulated checks. We completed helium, liquid oxygen (LOX), and fuel loads to within tenths of a percent of T-zero conditions. Tanks pressed nominally and we passed all Terminal count, flight software, and ground software abort checks right down to T-2 seconds. We encountered a problem with the spin start system and aborted nominally."

"As part of the abort, we close the pre-valves to isolate the engines from the propellant tank and purge the residual propellants. The brief flames seen on the video are burn off of LOX and kerosene on the pad. The engines did not ignite and there was no engine fire."

"We detanked and safed the vehicle and launch pad. Preliminary review shows all other systems required to reach full ignition were within specification. All other pad systems worked nominally. Inspections will be complete tonight. Tomorrow will consist of data review and procedure updates. Commodities will be replenished tomorrow including TEA-TEB load, LOX and helium deliveries."

"We'll look to do the next static fire attempt in three or four days."

Since they got all the way to spin-start, one must assume the wash cycle ran without problems. :-)

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Mar 10 2010, 10:57 AM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Mar 10 2010, 03:25 AM) *
They detected an anomoly

Honest question: is anomoly a valid alternative spelling of anomaly? I've seen it spelled that way countless times, yet it doesn't appear to show up in (online) dictionaries. unsure.gif

Posted by: nprev Mar 10 2010, 12:53 PM

Don't think so, G. Anomaly is the only correct spelling AFAIK.

Posted by: ugordan Mar 10 2010, 02:36 PM

Recorded video of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_0KqS13weI

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 10 2010, 06:06 PM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Mar 10 2010, 02:57 AM) *
Honest question: is anomoly a valid alternative spelling of anomaly? I've seen it spelled that way countless times, yet it doesn't appear to show up in (online) dictionaries. unsure.gif

Just a typo -- mine, not SpaceX's or Spaceflight Now's. Even native speakers sometimes have trouble with the spelling associated with reduced vowels. It varies all over the map from one word to another, even though the sound is just "uh". In this case, though, "anomoly" actually looks wrong to me -- no clue why I typed it. Getting old perhaps. :-)

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Mar 10 2010, 08:32 PM

Got it, thanks. I thought maybe it's one of those things like sulfur/sulphur, etc.

Posted by: nprev Mar 10 2010, 11:51 PM

Yes, spelling in English is a constant joy for us all (even native speakers, as Greg stated)... rolleyes.gif

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 11 2010, 10:40 PM

Those sneaky SpaceX guys! After implying they might take several days before attempting another static firing, they set up to do one today (without telling anyone) but had to call it off because of weather.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

Supposedly April 12 is the current planned launch date, but Elon says to think of this as "Beta Testing." Problems are expected to come from various causes, and we shouldn't get worked up over them.

He did say they figured out what caused the abort of the last test fire. "The problem was pretty simple: our autostart sequence didn't issue the command to the normally closed ground side isolation valve. We had tested everything on the vehicle side exhaustively in Texas, but didn't have this iso valve on our test stand there. Definitely a lesson learned to make sure that *everything* is the same between test stand and launch pad on the ground side, not just on the vehicle side."

They're hoping for better weather Saturday or Sunday for the next test.

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 13 2010, 04:32 PM

We should be about one hour from the live fire at 12:30 EST (9:30 PST or 1730Z) and Spaceflight Now has a live video feed going.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

Not as exciting as the real thing, but kind of cool anyway.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan Mar 13 2010, 05:40 PM

Ignition happened on time at 12:30 PM local, waiting for official report on the burn. Looked better than the last time, and longer.


Posted by: Hungry4info Mar 13 2010, 10:04 PM

Successful.

QUOTE
Today, SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds.

Posted by: nprev Mar 13 2010, 11:43 PM

Yesss.... smile.gif smile.gif smile.gif

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Mar 14 2010, 12:07 AM

That must have been some sound.

Posted by: ugordan Mar 14 2010, 10:16 AM

Images from the firing: http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=19279

Video to follow.

Posted by: Rakhir Mar 14 2010, 08:57 PM

A video is visible here :
http://flametrench.flatoday.net/2010/03/spacex-falcon-9-engine-test-firing_14.html#links

Posted by: ugordan Mar 14 2010, 09:25 PM

http://www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=47
http://www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=48

Posted by: Explorer1 Mar 15 2010, 12:01 AM

Incredible.... these things never fail to impress!

Posted by: Greg Hullender Mar 16 2010, 04:17 PM

New Update, summarizing the test fire.

http://spacex.com/updates.php

This bit was new to me:

QUOTE
This was the final step for the rocket and launch pad before launch itself. We are now waiting for completion of the final set of tests of the flight termination system, specifically the explosives and initiators, and the acceptance of that test documentation by Air Force range safety. As soon as the tests are complete and the Air Force has signed off, we will move forward with launch.
If all goes as hoped, the first countdown attempt may be as soon as next month. It's important to note this is not a prediction of when we will launch, just when we will probably try a countdown.




Posted by: Greg Hullender Apr 11 2010, 11:01 PM

Spaceflight Now says the current launch estimate for Falcon 9 is no sooner than May 8, 2010.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/

This is at around 15:30 minutes in "This week in space."

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender May 2 2010, 03:29 PM

Now we're looking at May 11, at the earliest.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

If that doesn't happen, it'll probably slip all the way to the end of May.

The hold up is the air force, which still hasn't approved the self-destruct mechanism. Apparently even Elon doesn't have a clue when the Air Force will wrap that up, so even end-of-May is a guess.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan May 2 2010, 07:04 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ May 2 2010, 05:29 PM) *
The hold up is the air force, which still hasn't approved the self-destruct mechanism. Apparently even Elon doesn't have a clue when the Air Force will wrap that up, so even end-of-May is a guess.

What makes you think it's USAF that's holding everything down and not SpaceX and their FTS contractor not having completed all the qualification tests and generated required documentation?

Posted by: nprev May 2 2010, 07:39 PM

It's a very reasonable inference, Gordan. Range safety evaluations presumably are very painstaking activities, and there's probably a lot of back-and-forth discussion going on to clarify every detail. SpaceX is also a newbie to Cape operations, so this is part of the learning process.

Posted by: ugordan May 4 2010, 04:40 PM

Good Aviation Week article on who, why and how the launch is delayed http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/05/04/06.xml&headline=Falcon%209%20Debut%20Stands%20Aside%20For%20Shuttle&channel=space.

Posted by: nprev May 4 2010, 04:50 PM

Good article, thanks!

As usual, it's a complex systemic exercise. There's nothing simple about launch campaigns, period.

Posted by: climber May 4 2010, 05:59 PM

QUOTE (nprev @ May 4 2010, 06:50 PM) *
Good article, thanks!

As usual, it's a complex systemic exercise. There's nothing simple about launch campaigns, period.

It's surely very complex but one could be surprised it's still an issue so close to maiden flight. As you may have learnt, Guenter Wendt died on Monday and reading this: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-052102a.html today I thought rocket developement would be now without this kind of issue; my comment is of no offence, just of surprise.

Posted by: ugordan May 4 2010, 06:14 PM

QUOTE (climber @ May 4 2010, 07:59 PM) *
I thought rocket developement would be now without this kind of issue

What kind of issue? Having pacing items in development? That always happens. I suppose even this is better than having major issues with the recent pad tests with the vehicle itself.

Posted by: helvick May 4 2010, 07:54 PM

Any reasonably complex procedure that involves people and communication, let alone one that also involves cutting edge technology and large explosive components is hard to do. My day job involves building fairly complex IT infrastructure and while the new technology I'm bringing in is complex (and ever changing) the hardest part is always interfacing with the pre-existing systems, standards and procedures of the customers organization. Even when you have detailed and accurate test requirements up front that you have tested [exhaustively] prior to integration with a live environment there are always issues that crop up that need re-validation, clarification and resolution. And in my case the worst that can happen is some servers fail and some lawyers get rich, I'm not in the least bit surprised that there are a lot of final t's to be crossed and i's to be dotted, in triplicate, given the risks involved with launching a brand new space craft.

Posted by: climber May 4 2010, 08:16 PM

I've got the point and I experience myself this kind of thing everyday... and I'm not working in (litteraly) rocket science. I understand "everything" is new from hardware to processes.

Posted by: Greg Hullender May 7 2010, 03:44 PM

A new update from Elon: http://spacex.com/updates.php

Lots of info (and pictures), but nothing earthshakingly new as far as this launch goes. He says the FTS testing is an iterative process, so it's hard to be sure when it'll be complete, but he does say it's the LAST issue.

It was nice to learn that they plan to attempt to recover the first stage this time. Be interested to hear how that goes.

The second F9 flight will be "a few months later", and most of this update is about Flight #2. Basically, SpaceX builds the pieces of their rockets in California, sends them to Texas for testing and to Florida (or Kwajalein) for launch. For Flight #2, the California phase is complete, and the Texas work is maybe half done or more. The big new thing for Launch #2 is Dragon, and they intend for it to orbit and reenter, so this'll be the first time they needed a heat shield to work. (I'm not clear on where the Dragon physically is right now; I'd guess California, since they haven't attached the heat shield yet.)

The third F9 flight will be later this year, according to the manifest, and they're in the middle of making the parts in California.

--Greg

Posted by: ugordan May 7 2010, 04:50 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ May 7 2010, 05:44 PM) *
It was nice to learn that they plan to attempt to recover the first stage this time.

This was known for months already, also mentioned in previous updates (see the guys with the recovery raft in the Jan 4th update).

While we're waiting for the darn FTS testing to complete, here's a previously unseen static fire image from March 13th. This one seems to be chronologically the first:


Check out the cover over the other, unused Titan SRMU flame opening being blown open at the right edge. In the video you can see it clearly and puffs of vapor being expelled up. I wonder if they anticipated that. Imagine that thing being completely torn off and crashing into the vehicle... unsure.gif

Posted by: climber May 19 2010, 09:48 PM

Could be May 27th or 28th: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

Posted by: Greg Hullender May 26 2010, 09:40 PM

Now June 2 at the earliest.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

No indication of what the specific issues are, so July 2 is probably just as likely. :-(

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 2 2010, 03:36 AM

Launch planned for Friday morning! This just in from SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php

QUOTE
SpaceX is now targeting Friday, June 4th for its first test launch attempt of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
The primary schedule driver for the first Falcon 9 test launch has been certification of the flight termination system (FTS). . . . we are now looking good for final approval of the FTS by this Friday, June 4th, just in time for our first launch attempt. . . . Tomorrow we plan to rollout in the morning, and erect the vehicle in the afternoon. On Friday, the targeted schedule is as follows:

Friday 4 June 2010

Launch Window Opens: 11:00 AM Eastern / 8:00 AM Pacific / 1500 UTC
Launch window lasts 4 hours. SpaceX has also reserved a second launch day on Saturday 5 June, with the same hours.

. . . . The weather experts at the Cape are giving us a 40% chance of "no go" conditions for both days of our window, citing the potential for cumulus clouds and anvil clouds from thunderstorms.
If the weather cooperates, SpaceX will provide a live webcast of the launch events, presently scheduled to begin 20 minutes prior to the opening of the launch window. . . . . It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we're not able to gain any flight data.
If we have a bad day, it will be disappointing, but one launch does not make or break SpaceX as a company, nor commercial spaceflight as an industry.


Complete text at http://spacex.com/updates.php

--Greg

--Greg

Posted by: nprev Jun 2 2010, 03:48 AM

(Fingers, eyes & toes crossed)...GO FALCON 9 F1!!!!

Posted by: Vultur Jun 2 2010, 03:25 PM

QUOTE
It would be a great day if we reach orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we're not able to gain any flight data.


Interesting. They seem to be aiming their expectations relatively low (though it seems realistic given that it took three flights before they could get F1 working).

Posted by: ugordan Jun 2 2010, 03:28 PM

QUOTE (Vultur @ Jun 2 2010, 05:25 PM) *
They seem to be aiming their expectations relatively low.

Historical record is sobering and speaks for itself. Very few new launch vehicle maiden flights were (completely) successful. Expect problems here as well.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 2 2010, 03:59 PM

The update notes that the Atlas took 13 tries before it flew, but I do hope they're shooting for better than that. :-)

I suppose I ought to be deleriously happy if it just gets high enough to actually ignite the second stage this time around. They probably would be.

But I can't help rooting for a perfect flight. :-)

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 03:37 AM

MSNBC has an article about tomorrow's planned launch.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/06/03/4457427-spacex-set-for-rocket-roulette

Elon describes it as like "Russian Roulette" but with worse odds. He still thinks he's got an 80% chance this'll work on the first try, but notes they have three scheduled test flights. Plus NASA may do some things to try to speed the process up--letting some earlier test flights attempt more, for example.

There's quite a lot here--not a whole lot that's new, but it's nice seeing something from someplace besides the SpaceX homepage.

--Greg

Posted by: Juramike Jun 4 2010, 02:57 PM

Live webcast here (spaceflight now): http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html
SpaceX video link here (should start in just a few moments): http://spacex.com/webcast.php

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 03:00 PM

T-20 Minutes and counting!

--Greg

Posted by: Juramike Jun 4 2010, 03:04 PM

Live video feed from space-X site just started!

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 03:09 PM

Now we're into a planned 20-minute hold, I think. Does anyone know the logic of such a thing? Why not have the 20 minutes be part of the regular countdown? When I was a kid, watching Gemini and Apollo launches, the holds used to drive me nuts. (At least they tell us how long they are now.)

--Greg

Edit: Never mind. It's not a 20-minute hold, and it's not planned. The Range Control people required it. (They just explained it on the web cam).

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 03:28 PM

Watched the live chat on the Spaceflight Now site for a bit. Two or three comments a second, many repeated over and over, and none worthwhile. It really reinforces what a high-quality group we have here at UMSF.

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 04:10 PM

On hold for one hour now. SpaceX periodically comes on to say that they're waiting for Range Safety to give them a new liftoff time. I'm worried about the weather, although the last announcement said that conditions continue to be good.

--Greg

Posted by: tfisher Jun 4 2010, 04:17 PM

Greg -- I agree regarding the information content of the spaceflightnow.com discussion. But still there are very few ways for a random individual to participate in a launch like this, and being part of the random chatter on a site like that is one of those ways. I think it is a good thing to have forums for discussion like that, just to give an active way for participation even at a shallow level. (And even better to have forums like this, to encourage active participation at a deeper level!) Participation is a good thing :^)

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 04:21 PM

Another update. Weather is still good. They're hoping for a launch in about an hour, or 1 PM EDT, 10 AM PDT. That's 6 PM BST or 1700 GMT, right?

--Greg


Posted by: ElkGroveDan Jun 4 2010, 04:26 PM

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Jun 4 2010, 07:28 AM) *
Watched the live chat on the Spaceflight Now site for a bit. Two or three comments a second, many repeated over and over, and none worthwhile. It really reinforces what a high-quality group we have here at UMSF.

Yeah some of those news site comments are just painful, "Will it land on the moon?" "How do they make sure it doesn't hit the International Space Station?"

QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Jun 4 2010, 08:21 AM) *
They're hoping for a launch in about an hour, or 1 PM EDT, 10 AM PDT. That's 6 PM BST or 1700 GMT, right?

...don't forget 11:30 AM Newfoundland time.

Posted by: Littlebit Jun 4 2010, 05:01 PM

There is a boat in the secured range - the Air Force is trying to clear it...

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 05:11 PM

I suppose sinking it would defeat the purpose.

--Greg :-)

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 05:16 PM

The count has resumed!

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 05:26 PM

I have to say SpaceX has a MUCH better feed this time. On the Falcon 1 test flights, I seem to remember many people couldn't see the video at all, those who could generally got very broken audio/video. This time, though, they seem to have been prepared for the volume, and it''s going quite smoothly.

May everything ELSE go smoothly!

--Greg

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 05:31 PM

Abort at ignition. :-(

--Greg

Posted by: helvick Jun 4 2010, 05:56 PM

Well looking on the bright side an abort at T-3sec is a good test in itself provided the root cause isn't catastrophic. This is a good time for Space-X to get a chance to run through all these possible launch sequence events for real.

I have to say that the various launch control team members sound much more comfortable with the countdown procedures than they have in the earlier tests, it's a small thing but good to see.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 06:05 PM

They're going to see if they can try again today. Waiting for a new T-0 time. I think they managed that one one of the F1 launches too.

--Greg

Posted by: djellison Jun 4 2010, 06:19 PM

Demoflight 2 went from a t-0.5s abort, to a launch, in 70 minutes.

Posted by: djellison Jun 4 2010, 06:31 PM

Countdown restarted at T-15m so 11:45PST T-0.

Posted by: The Singing Badger Jun 4 2010, 06:51 PM

Liftoff and successful Stage 1 separation!!!

Posted by: The Singing Badger Jun 4 2010, 06:55 PM

Achieved earth orbit!!! blink.gif

Posted by: Eluchil Jun 4 2010, 06:58 PM

Completely nominal launch as far as I can tell from the Mission Control chatter. The did a great job recycling the count after the earlier abort and got their payload to orbit. Certainly a great day for SpaceX and commercial spaceflight!

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Jun 4 2010, 07:02 PM

QUOTE (Eluchil @ Jun 4 2010, 02:58 PM) *
Completely nominal launch as far as I can tell from the Mission Control chatter. The did a great job recycling the count after the earlier abort and got their payload to orbit. Certainly a great day for SpaceX and commercial spaceflight!


Absolutely! A very promising event for unmanned and manned spaceflight.

Posted by: djellison Jun 4 2010, 07:03 PM

A great day - period. Turn around from an on-pad abort to LEO in 90 minutes. Awesome.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 4 2010, 07:13 PM

http://twitpic.com/1twaez/full

Posted by: punkboi Jun 4 2010, 07:57 PM

Kudos to SpaceX for the successful launch of Falcon 9!! A little late in posting this, I know smile.gif

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 08:03 PM

SpaceX says they'll have a statement this evening. I have two questions I hope they'll answer:

1) Did they recover the first stage?
2) Elon was evasive about what the payload would actually do in orbit. What DID it do?

Meanwhile, they sure do have a lot to celebrate! :-)

--Greg

Posted by: charborob Jun 4 2010, 08:13 PM

Unfortunately, I couldn't be home to watch the F-9 launch. Where can I find a video of the launch?

Posted by: centsworth_II Jun 4 2010, 08:23 PM

QUOTE (charborob @ Jun 4 2010, 03:13 PM) *
...Where can I find a video of the launch?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NREJEZ5eluk

This from the comment section in reference to background noise on the video:
"I'm streamed the audio through my mic rather than through my computers audio. Was in a rush."

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 4 2010, 08:38 PM

Spaceflight Now reports that Elon is called it a "bulls-eye"

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

Goal was a circular orbit 250 km up inclined 34.5 degrees. They were about a percent off.

--Greg

Posted by: Poolio Jun 4 2010, 08:47 PM

Thanks for the link, centsworth. I was in a meeting and was also unable to see the 2:45 launch.

There was no mention in any of the blogs I read of this enormous hideous monster that came crashing over the horizon at T-3 seconds. I'm glad it didn't interfere with the launch. It could have wreaked some serious havoc if it had shown up just a few seconds earlier.



Seriously, though, congrats to SpaceX for a successful launch. I am continually impressed and heartened by what these folks are accomplishing.

Posted by: Juramike Jun 4 2010, 09:09 PM

QUOTE (Poolio @ Jun 4 2010, 04:47 PM) *
enormous hideous monster that came crashing over the horizon at T-3 seconds.


Old school vs. new technology.

Move over, we're winning now....

Posted by: nprev Jun 4 2010, 09:23 PM

I didn't get to watch the launch either due to work, but thanks for the great review read, all! smile.gif BIG congrats to the SpaceX team!!!

As Doug observed- 90 min from a hotfire launch abort to LEO- that's one hell of a statement all by itself.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 4 2010, 09:47 PM

QUOTE (nprev @ Jun 4 2010, 11:23 PM) *
I didn't get to watch the launch either due to work, but thanks for the great review read, all! smile.gif

To be honest, the official webcast was problematic with skipping etc so apart from the historic bit of witnessing it as it happens, you didn't miss out on much smile.gif

Here's a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SOc_FHQP6I showing different views than what was seen in the webcast. SFN also have a great launch gallery http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/launch/.

Posted by: nprev Jun 4 2010, 10:06 PM

Thanks, G. That was really clean, appreciate it!

Was wondering what those 'flaming chunks' were around the exhaust plume. Before this, I thought that they might be pieces of the engine bell ablative cooling material, but it looks like they're actually ice shards shaking off the booster & subsequently illuminated as they pass by the flames.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 4 2010, 10:21 PM

Ice would be my guess, too. Atlas V sheds a lot of ice debris off its LOX tank during liftoff, and Falcon 9s tank, covered in cork might be an even more susceptible surface for loose ice accumulation.

Posted by: Vultur Jun 5 2010, 12:12 AM

Congratulations SpaceX!

Yes, I wonder if the first stage has been/will be retrieved (of course, it's still a great success even if they don't!)

Posted by: nprev Jun 5 2010, 12:17 AM

Apparently it was in fact retrieved, but severely damaged; I gotta run right now, but will find a link later.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Jun 5 2010, 12:30 AM

Yes, apparently the chute didn't open.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awx/2010/06/04/awx_06_04_2010_p0-232127.xml

SpaceX now has a click-here-to-watch video.

http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

--Greg

Posted by: Astro0 Jun 5 2010, 07:55 AM

Some reports are suggesting that a bizarre 'spiral ufo' seen along the east coast of Australia this morning was created by the noted oscilation of the second stage.
Have a look at the story and video http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technology/1064435/ufos-seen-zooming-over-eastern-australia.

Very similar to the 'wom hole spiral' seen over Norway last December.

Posted by: monty python Jun 5 2010, 08:15 AM

You really have give Elon Musk applause for this. He can't be much more "all in" with spacex and he pulled this off. This is a BIG deal!

As for the ufo, if it was the falcon 9 stage 2, they might want to induce a tumble with vented propellant to help with reentry breakup.

What really caught my eye was the about 90 degree role the vehicle performed right off the launch pad. It seemed to almost yank an umbilical off sideways!


Posted by: nprev Jun 5 2010, 08:15 AM

Wild! Not quite as wild as one of the people in the video's comment ('No, that was a galaxy far, far away!')... rolleyes.gif

The time seems about right. Astro0, you guys are NOT on daylight savings time right now, correct?

Posted by: Astro0 Jun 5 2010, 11:50 AM

Correct! Looking at the orbit data posted by NORAD, and the field of view covering the entire Australian east coast, I think it had to be the second stage.
The story certainly got a run in local media and I received quite a few calls asking if our tracking station saw it.
Probably belongs in the 'reporting astronomy' thread, but try explaining to media that just because we are a space tracking station, we aren't in the business of just scanning the skies looking for little green men wacko.gif

Posted by: Hungry4info Jun 5 2010, 02:37 PM

QUOTE (Astro0 @ Jun 5 2010, 02:55 AM) *
Very similar to the 'wom hole spiral' seen over Norway last December.

Well of course. All the alien ships probably use the same warp-drive/worm-hole generator technology.

/ducks and runs.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 5 2010, 07:21 PM

For all our UMSF fans out there, a quick fun fact. The launch pad Falcon 9 took off from yesterday (SLC-40) was the same pad everyone's favorite mission (hehe), Cassini was launched from in 1997. Also, with Delta II on the way out, one can ponder whether we have witnessed the first launch of a vehicle that could replace it and ultimately launch NASA Discovery-class missions (along with Orbital's Taurus II).

Interesting times.

Posted by: nprev Jun 6 2010, 02:00 AM

Those are indeed fun facts!

Nice to see continuity in history. Hopefully this was the first of a great many F9s...followed by http://www.spacex.com/falcon9_heavy.php carrying Flagships! wink.gif

Posted by: punkboi Jun 6 2010, 05:39 AM

I'm a month late, but did anyone here already point out that Elon Musk made an appearance in the movie "Iron Man 2"?

I thought that was pretty cool. smile.gif

Posted by: Tom Tamlyn Jun 7 2010, 04:44 AM

QUOTE (ugordan @ Jun 5 2010, 02:21 PM) *
The launch pad Falcon 9 took off from yesterday (SLC-40) ...

The launch pad at launch complex 40 is surrounded by 4 towers. What are they for? Lightning rods, perhaps?
TTT

Posted by: nprev Jun 7 2010, 04:49 AM

QUOTE (Tom Tamlyn @ Jun 6 2010, 08:44 PM) *
What are they for? Lightning rods, perhaps?


Yep.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 7 2010, 08:28 AM

Both the Atlas V pad (also a former Titan IV pad) and Falcon 9 pad have the same 4 towers with wires in between that form a net with a hole inside for the booster to fly through.

Posted by: gwiz Jun 7 2010, 03:57 PM

QUOTE (monty python @ Jun 5 2010, 09:15 AM) *
As for the ufo, if it was the falcon 9 stage 2, they might want to induce a tumble with vented propellant to help with reentry breakup.

Apparently the second stage developed an unexpected rolling motion during powered flight. This will be investigated before the next launch of the vehicle.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 19 2010, 02:25 PM

An extended launch highlights video has now been posted, including some new and higher quality views: http://www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=53

Posted by: monty python Jun 28 2010, 07:08 AM

There is a nice interview of a spacex official on spaceflightnow.com where they discuss some of the problems the falcon 9 had during launch. The roll the rocket had right off the launch pad was caused by torque induced by gasses swirling out of the nozzles and turbopump exhaust exiting at an angle. It takes some time for the nozzles to move over and compensate.


Posted by: kohare Jun 28 2010, 05:17 PM

QUOTE (monty python @ Jun 28 2010, 08:08 AM) *
There is a nice interview of a spacex official on spaceflightnow.com where they discuss some of the problems the falcon 9 had during launch.

The full 8:37 min interview of SpaceX vice president of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance (and former NASA astronaut) Ken Bowersox with Miles O'Brien from This Week In Space is up on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ou3nPc0U2E. There's only a short segment from the interview in the round-up for This Week in Space 27 June 2010.

Posted by: ugordan Jun 28 2010, 05:47 PM

Also, a video of a 40 second 1st stage acceptance firing (yesterday, June 27th) for flight #2 can be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW_A4ua7p8M.

Posted by: Vultur Sep 7 2010, 01:37 AM

The successful Dragon http://www.spacex.com/updates.php doesn't seem to have been mentioned here yet.

Posted by: monty python Oct 26 2010, 01:12 AM

Info from the shuttle post-flight readiness review; the next space x falcon 9 launch has moved from no earlier than november 8 to november 18th. It will orbit a dragon capsule 2 orbits, manuver it and reenter recover it.

Posted by: monty python Nov 10 2010, 01:21 AM

Just an update. SpaceX has announced the new launch date is dec 7, with the 8th and 9th as backup. Amongst other things they are waiting for a re-entry license from the federal aviation administration.

I didn't know such a license existed. What needs one? A high altitude balloon return? A Virgin Gallactic plane return?

Brian

Posted by: nprev Nov 10 2010, 05:45 AM

Not surprising, though. They probably need to define an exclusion 'corridor' for the possible hazard to air traffic; makes sense to me.

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Nov 10 2010, 07:47 AM

QUOTE (monty python @ Nov 9 2010, 05:21 PM) *
I didn't know such a license existed.

Nor did you know that I have a license for my pet fish, Eric.

Posted by: ugordan Nov 10 2010, 08:49 AM

QUOTE (ElkGroveDan @ Nov 10 2010, 08:47 AM) *
Nor did you know that I have a license for my pet fish, Eric.


laugh.gif

Posted by: centsworth_II Nov 10 2010, 09:12 AM

QUOTE (monty python @ Nov 9 2010, 08:21 PM) *
...Amongst other things they are waiting for a re-entry license from the federal aviation administration.

I didn't know such a license existed....

Lots of stuff on the http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/


Posted by: Den Nov 11 2010, 09:24 AM

QUOTE (nprev @ Nov 10 2010, 06:45 AM) *
Not surprising, though. They probably need to define an exclusion 'corridor' for the possible hazard to air traffic; makes sense to me.


Not surprising at all. Sure, there were no commercial return vehicle ever in the history of mankind, but why do you think this would stop government from creating a license for one? Spaceflight is hard. Bureaucracy feels the need to ensure that it is hard even before you lift off.

Posted by: nprev Nov 11 2010, 09:38 AM

Let's keep http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?act=boardrules firmly in mind before engaging in any discussion of the pros & cons of government regulation, okay? We probably shouldn't lest the discussion wander too far afield.

Posted by: monty python Nov 23 2010, 06:16 AM

According to Spaceflightnow the FAA has granted Space X the first commercial reentry license.

One thing they look for is appropriate insurance. YIKES!!!! I guess since they are commercial, one could sue them if the Dragon hit something.

Posted by: Greg Hullender Nov 26 2010, 03:19 AM

Could be the first dragon-insurance policy ever issued though.

--Greg :-)

Posted by: monty python Dec 8 2010, 06:55 AM

Update. The spacex falcon 9 launch attempt with be wednesday with the window from 1400 to1722 GMT - 0900 am to 1222 eastern time. It will carry some thousands of commemorative patches thru at least 2 orbits.

Posted by: peter59 Dec 8 2010, 01:51 PM

T-minus 21 minutes and counting.
http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/002/status.html

Posted by: Poolio Dec 8 2010, 01:59 PM

Webcast here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php

Posted by: charborob Dec 8 2010, 02:09 PM

Launch aborted at T-2:50.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 8 2010, 02:11 PM

Clock reset at T-13min, evaluating data. Retry possible.

Posted by: Poolio Dec 8 2010, 02:11 PM

They're evaluating the abort condition. Launch will be pushed to the second window (10:38 - 10:43 EST) today at the earliest, depending on the what caused the abort.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 8 2010, 02:38 PM

Next try 1543 UTC (1043 EST)

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Dec 8 2010, 03:44 PM

Launch! Oh my!

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 8 2010, 03:44 PM

Launched!

Posted by: nprev Dec 8 2010, 03:55 PM

SECO, Dragon separation!!!!

Looks nominal all the way; Dragon is in orbit. Congratulations to SpaceX!

Posted by: peter59 Dec 8 2010, 03:55 PM

Beautiful launch, beautiful separation and 2nd stage ignition. No oscillation.

Posted by: ElkGroveDan Dec 8 2010, 03:57 PM

Wow. It's not every day you get to see a dragon fly.

Posted by: nprev Dec 8 2010, 04:02 PM

<sound of a tuba groaning in agony @Dan>... tongue.gif

Yeah, wow, Dragon popped right off the second stage like it's done it a thousand times! Very impressive.

Hope the rest of the flight is equally smooth.

Posted by: Pertinax Dec 8 2010, 07:22 PM

QUOTE (SpaceXer)
Splashdown on target. Mission is a success!
&
SpaceX is the first commercial company to reenter a spacecraft from space!


CONGRATULATIONS SPACEX!

What an amazing time in which we live!


-- Pertinax

Posted by: monty python Dec 8 2010, 09:37 PM

At todays post fllght news confrence, Elon Musk said that the dragon was carrying a secret humorous payload. He would reveal what it was tomorrow, but if you like Monty Python, you will think its funny.

HE LIKES ME! HE LIKES ME!

Posted by: djellison Dec 8 2010, 09:44 PM

Dead Parrot and/or Spam smile.gif

Posted by: punkboi Dec 8 2010, 10:11 PM

SpaceX photo of the Dragon capsule floating in the Pacific after successfuly reentry

 

Posted by: nprev Dec 8 2010, 11:51 PM

Question: Was recovery of the first stage even attempted, or am I confused & thinking of F1?

Posted by: monty python Dec 9 2010, 12:09 AM

QUOTE (nprev @ Dec 8 2010, 06:51 PM) *
Question: Was recovery of the first stage even attempted, or am I confused & thinking of F1?



At the conference, someone asked him if they had recoverd the first stage. He replied something like - Why do you have to add a sour note to an otherwise great day. Nobody has ever recovered a liquid fueled stage in good shape before. But on this flight we got much better telemetry from the stage and we had a black box with cameras and sensor data on it to find out where the weak spots in the design are, and we will fix them. Our goal is to recover and re-use first stages.

Brian

Posted by: monty python Dec 9 2010, 12:19 AM

I should also add that they had 2 ships in the atlantic which I assume were ther for recovery opps since telemetry came from the cape and New Hampshire.

Posted by: nprev Dec 9 2010, 12:20 AM

laugh.gif ...thanks!

Yeah, that would have been extreme icing on the cake. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised they even tried given the necessary focus on Dragon.

Posted by: lyford Dec 9 2010, 02:16 AM

I just want to know who the totally awesome mustachioed 70's dude in their webcast? biggrin.gif


Posted by: helvick Dec 9 2010, 02:28 AM

That would be Kevin Brogan, Space-X propulsion engineer, definitely a rocket scientist with a sense of style.

Posted by: lyford Dec 9 2010, 03:15 AM

Thanks for the ID- SpaceX has certainly assembled an A-Team!

Posted by: monty python Dec 9 2010, 11:24 PM

It's a wheel of cheeeese!

Posted by: climber Dec 16 2010, 08:49 PM

Whole flight report here: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=35548
On top of pictures there is a video (clicable picture link to the video) of the flight including Lift off, MECO,SECO, Dragon separation, video over Hawaii, splash down and recovery. Worth a look.

Posted by: qraal Dec 22 2010, 09:59 AM

Will be interesting to see if SpaceX throw a Dragon around the Moon like Apollo 8. They could orbit a TLI stage with the Falcon 9 Heavy. A modified 2nd stage should be able to boost a Dragon into a free-return trajectory. Any suggestions for payload, since an unmanned test-run like the Russian Zonds would make the most sense initially?


Posted by: ElkGroveDan Dec 22 2010, 04:09 PM

QUOTE (qraal @ Dec 22 2010, 01:59 AM) *
Will be interesting to see if SpaceX throw a Dragon around the Moon like Apollo 8. They could orbit a TLI stage with the Falcon 9 Heavy. A modified 2nd stage should be able to boost a Dragon into a free-return trajectory. Any suggestions for payload, since an unmanned test-run like the Russian Zonds would make the most sense initially?

It's an interesting thought and I suspect he might do something like that some day, but in the near term you are looking at years of development on your "TLI booster" alone, at a time when they are gearing up for ISS supply contracts. And I might add, to what end? SpaceX has been working steadily toward regular operation of commercially viable launch vehicles. The lunar orbiting stunt would make space fans everywhere cheer, but it would be capital intensive with not much new to add to their lucrative commercial Earth orbit target the company has laid out for the near term.

Down the road Elon has some great ideas on his wish list, but developing his launch company now to build infrastructure and capital for later things I believe is their present goal. It's no secret that “Mars is the ultimate goal of SpaceX," in Musk's own words. I could easily imagine them skipping the moon altogether.

Posted by: DDAVIS Dec 24 2010, 02:41 AM

'Any suggestions for payload, since an unmanned test-run like the Russian Zonds would make the most sense initially?'

A full HD camera, with lots of storage.



Posted by: climber Jan 16 2015, 08:00 PM

I guess, this enter in this topic.
Watch the video, Falcon 1st stage hit the barge right in the center:

http://spaceref.biz/company/spacex/elon-musk-releases-pictures-of-falcon-9-rapid-unscheduled-disassembly.html

Posted by: DEChengst Apr 9 2016, 11:19 AM

Best drone footage ever:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nDyns4EOEQ

Posted by: algorithm Apr 9 2016, 08:40 PM

Incredible!!

Such a great example of human tenacity.

Posted by: climber Apr 17 2016, 09:04 PM

Rocket cam landing: http://youtu.be/UuRqj4AeZq0

Posted by: qraal May 8 2016, 09:11 PM

Latest performance figures for the Falcon Heavy indicates it can launch 2,900 kg on a Pluto bound trajectory - I'm assuming a Solar Escape, since a Hohmann would take decades. "New Horizons" could thus be followed up by something significantly beefier...

http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

Posted by: nogal May 28 2016, 11:14 PM

May 26 - fourth sucessful landing (third in a row) of Space X's Falcon 9 first stage.
This is not routine, this is NOT routine, this ... ohmy.gif

Youtube accelerated video of the landing, captured by the first stage itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jEz03Z8azc

Fernando

Posted by: Explorer1 May 29 2016, 12:41 AM

Amazing video.
With so much success they're gong to run out of room in their processing facility! Might have to stack them up on top of each other soon (not that I'd recommend it!)

Posted by: Ron Hobbs May 29 2016, 03:58 AM

I like the comment in the ars technical article:

"It's safe to say the future has arrived."

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/05/watch-live-spacex-takes-another-crack-at-launching-landing-today/

Posted by: mcaplinger May 29 2016, 07:04 AM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ May 28 2016, 04:41 PM) *
With so much success they're gong to run out of room in their processing facility!

If they don't start reusing them then there wasn't much point in getting them back, was there?

Posted by: Explorer1 May 29 2016, 05:48 PM

Yes, now it's a question of logistics that not even the Shuttle had to worry, about given the slow launch pace in those days. The next rocket already is on the way to the pad!

Posted by: centsworth_II May 29 2016, 07:00 PM

I wonder what a used booster rocket would fetch on eBay.

Posted by: nogal Nov 9 2016, 06:20 PM

On October 28, SpaceX released an http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates on the September 1st anomaly:

QUOTE
The root cause of the breach has not yet been confirmed, but attention has continued to narrow to one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the LOX tank. Through extensive testing in Texas, SpaceX has shown that it can re-create a COPV failure entirely through helium loading conditions. These conditions are mainly affected by the temperature and pressure of the helium being loaded.
...
Pending the results of the investigation, we continue to work towards returning to flight before the end of the year.

Fernando

Posted by: nogal Dec 8 2016, 11:42 PM

Return to flight in early January 2017! Quoting from SpaceX's http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates:

QUOTE
December 7, 10:30am EDT

We are finalizing the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1. This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.

Fernando

Posted by: nogal Jan 6 2017, 12:08 AM

SpaceX released a report on the causes of the "September 1 anomaly". Their site has been updated http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates) accordingly.

QUOTE
The accident investigation team worked systematically through an extensive fault tree analysis and concluded that one of the three composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) inside the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank failed. Specifically, the investigation team concluded the failure was likely due to the accumulation of oxygen between the COPV liner and overwrap in a void or a buckle in the liner, leading to ignition and the subsequent failure of the COPV.


The target date for return to flight is January 8, 2017 with the launch of Iridium NEXT from Vandenberg.

Edit: launch delayed to at least http://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/ to http://spaceflightnow.com/2017/01/08/next-spacex-launch-slipped-to-avoid-stormy-weather-range-conflict/.

Edit 2: Success! wheel.gif http://www.spacex.com/news/2017/01/14/iridium-1-mission-photosand first stage sucessfully landed on the drone ship "Just read the instructions", with a clear view of the descent up to and including touchdown.

Fernando

Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 22 2017, 02:51 PM

Not to be annoying about it, but this ISS resupply mission is off-topic for this forum and hardly a "private mission" since it's being paid for by NASA. I think there are more appropriate sites to follow SpaceX's progress.

ADMIN: Agreed re this mission, and all others in support of crewed spaceflight. Discussion of Falcon launch and recovery operations are fine; let's please stick to that rather rigorously in the future. Thread title will be updated for clarity.

Posted by: nogal Feb 23 2017, 01:54 PM

You are right, of course, and I should have realized it beforehand.
I have removed the related texts, although I can't remove the posts themselves which, perhaps, a kind admin could do.
Fernando

KIND (OF AN) ADMIN: Done. Thanks! smile.gif

Just to clarify, discussions of all Falcon launch and landing activities are fine, which includes Dragon capsule recoveries. Discussion of mission activities in direct support of crewed spaceflight, not so much.

I hope that was clearer...

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