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.
Wikipedia quotes June 23, 23:00 GMT for the next F1 launch, but cites a source that doesn't mention the date.
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.
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.”
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."
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
So we can expect a huge explosion there then when Falcon 9 blows up ?
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.
I heard range safety or ground safety and personnel problems were delaying this one
I just noticed that SpaceX has added a document discussing the use of the Falcon 9 to launch payloads to the moon.
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?
Elon apparently did an online interview with the Washington Post.
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 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:
* Launch operation
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
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.
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.)
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
Wow, that sounds powerful.
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).
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.
It's impressive to see for the first time a Falcon 9 fully integrated.
A couple of images via Flickr:
Externally, the vehicle is still missing the engine fairings and base heat shield.
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 ...
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.
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
SpaceX announces, that Falcon 9 is now vertical:
That is pretty neat indeed. That's one good looking rocket there :-)
I dunno -- from some angles, it looks a lot like my old Centuri Payloader...
-the other Doug
Several new nice looking pictures are now posted at the update page above.
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.
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?
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.
37-page presentation to the Augustine Comission. (dun, duuuuuun, dun dun!)
And similar content here:
Sounds like F9 flies in November '09 and Jan '10.
New press release from SpaceX about Falcon 9. Not posted on spacex.com yet. Basically good news, but still no concrete launch date.
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.
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.
That video is from quite...err...close. Wow.
Worth going for the hq vid for the good sound
From Spacefightnow: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0908/24falcon9/
I learnt a few things.
That page appears empty to my IE browser.
Still fine here ( Chrome, Firefox, Safari )
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 .)
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.
D'oh! I didn't realise they'd done a previous nine-up test firing. Thanks for the correction
Hopefully not OT, but the http://www.spaceflightnow.com/tracking/index.html is on the tentative launch schedule now.
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.
Not too surprisingly, the launch is now http://www.spacenews.com/launch/requested-falcon-range-date-has-conflict.html.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Yes and yes. Trying to squeeze every bit of vacuum specific impulse that's practical.
Ever seen the nozzle for the upper stage of a Delta IV. Seriously - i've seen smaller central-London apartments.
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
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.
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.
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.
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...
We're clearly in violent agreement, G. Gonna cut considerable slack for them; the laws of physics never will, and we gotta show some love.
Iin 2004 Musk told the US Senate he thought $500/pound (so roughly $1,000/kg) was achievable.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Full inline quote removed. - ADMIN
I sure hope Musk will be able to cut much of that nonsense out.
Well, the wet dress rehersal did in fact happen on Friday afternoon, and SpaceX said it went very well.
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. :-)
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.
Firing test was rescheduled for Monday.
They're saying to expect an April launch -- more or less.
Make that Tuesday.
(For the test, not the launch!) :-)
According to Spaceflight Now, the test-fire is scheduled for 1 PM EST, which is 10 AM PST (1800Z) today.
Thanks Greg. Almost missed it.
Abort post ignition, looked pretty scary. Scrub for the day. Hope no damage to the vehicle.
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.
Don't think so, G. Anomaly is the only correct spelling AFAIK.
Recorded video of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_0KqS13weI
Got it, thanks. I thought maybe it's one of those things like sulfur/sulphur, etc.
Yes, spelling in English is a constant joy for us all (even native speakers, as Greg stated)...
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.
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.
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.
Not as exciting as the real thing, but kind of cool anyway.
Ignition happened on time at 12:30 PM local, waiting for official report on the burn. Looked better than the last time, and longer.
That must have been some sound.
Images from the firing: http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=19279
Video to follow.
A video is visible here :
Incredible.... these things never fail to impress!
New Update, summarizing the test fire.
This bit was new to me:
Spaceflight Now says the current launch estimate for Falcon 9 is no sooner than May 8, 2010.
This is at around 15:30 minutes in "This week in space."
Now we're looking at May 11, at the earliest.
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.
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.
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.
Good article, thanks!
As usual, it's a complex systemic exercise. There's nothing simple about launch campaigns, period.
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.
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.
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.
Could be May 27th or 28th: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html
Now June 2 at the earliest.
No indication of what the specific issues are, so July 2 is probably just as likely. :-(
Launch planned for Friday morning! This just in from SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php
(Fingers, eyes & toes crossed)...GO FALCON 9 F1!!!!
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. :-)
MSNBC has an article about tomorrow's planned launch.
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.
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
T-20 Minutes and counting!
Live video feed from space-X site just started!
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.)
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).
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.
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 -- 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 :^)
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?
There is a boat in the secured range - the Air Force is trying to clear it...
I suppose sinking it would defeat the purpose.
The count has resumed!
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!
Abort at ignition. :-(
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.
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.
Demoflight 2 went from a t-0.5s abort, to a launch, in 70 minutes.
Countdown restarted at T-15m so 11:45PST T-0.
Liftoff and successful Stage 1 separation!!!
Achieved earth orbit!!!
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!
A great day - period. Turn around from an on-pad abort to LEO in 90 minutes. Awesome.
Kudos to SpaceX for the successful launch of Falcon 9!! A little late in posting this, I know
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! :-)
Unfortunately, I couldn't be home to watch the F-9 launch. Where can I find a video of the launch?
Spaceflight Now reports that Elon is called it a "bulls-eye"
Goal was a circular orbit 250 km up inclined 34.5 degrees. They were about a percent off.
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.
I didn't get to watch the launch either due to work, but thanks for the great review read, all! 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.
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.
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.
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!)
Apparently it was in fact retrieved, but severely damaged; I gotta run right now, but will find a link later.
Yes, apparently the chute didn't open.
SpaceX now has a click-here-to-watch video.
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.
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!
Wild! Not quite as wild as one of the people in the video's comment ('No, that was a galaxy far, far away!')...
The time seems about right. Astro0, you guys are NOT on daylight savings time right now, correct?
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
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).
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The successful Dragon http://www.spacex.com/updates.php doesn't seem to have been mentioned here yet.
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.
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?
Not surprising, though. They probably need to define an exclusion 'corridor' for the possible hazard to air traffic; makes sense to me.
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.
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.
Could be the first dragon-insurance policy ever issued though.
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.
T-minus 21 minutes and counting.
Webcast here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php
Launch aborted at T-2:50.
Clock reset at T-13min, evaluating data. Retry possible.
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.
Next try 1543 UTC (1043 EST)
Launch! Oh my!
SECO, Dragon separation!!!!
Looks nominal all the way; Dragon is in orbit. Congratulations to SpaceX!
Beautiful launch, beautiful separation and 2nd stage ignition. No oscillation.
Wow. It's not every day you get to see a dragon fly.
<sound of a tuba groaning in agony @Dan>...
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.
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!
Dead Parrot and/or Spam
SpaceX photo of the Dragon capsule floating in the Pacific after successfuly reentry
Question: Was recovery of the first stage even attempted, or am I confused & thinking of F1?
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.
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.
I just want to know who the totally awesome mustachioed 70's dude in their webcast?
That would be Kevin Brogan, Space-X propulsion engineer, definitely a rocket scientist with a sense of style.
Thanks for the ID- SpaceX has certainly assembled an A-Team!
It's a wheel of cheeeese!
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.
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?
'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.
I guess, this enter in this topic.
Watch the video, Falcon 1st stage hit the barge right in the center:
Best drone footage ever:
Such a great example of human tenacity.
Rocket cam landing: http://youtu.be/UuRqj4AeZq0
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...
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 ...
Youtube accelerated video of the landing, captured by the first stage itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jEz03Z8azc
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!)
I like the comment in the ars technical article:
"It's safe to say the future has arrived."
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!
I wonder what a used booster rocket would fetch on eBay.
On October 28, SpaceX released an http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates on the September 1st anomaly:
Return to flight in early January 2017! Quoting from SpaceX's http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates:
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.
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.
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.
KIND (OF AN) ADMIN: Done. Thanks!
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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