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Falcon 9 progress, Events leading up to the first Falcon 9 Launch
ugordan
post Dec 22 2008, 11:30 PM
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Just a heads-up for those of you who are interested, but weren't following it closely; the updates page 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).


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jekbradbury
post Dec 24 2008, 01:47 AM
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Apparently SpaceX has won 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.
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Del Palmer
post Dec 24 2008, 02:39 AM
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QUOTE (jekbradbury @ Dec 24 2008, 01:47 AM) *
Apparently SpaceX has won 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).
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Rakhir
post Dec 31 2008, 10:14 AM
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It's impressive to see for the first time a Falcon 9 fully integrated.
SpaceX updates
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ugordan
post Jan 6 2009, 03:26 PM
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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.


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OKB001
post Jan 6 2009, 04:00 PM
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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 ...
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ugordan
post Jan 6 2009, 04:13 PM
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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.


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dvandorn
post Jan 6 2009, 05:58 PM
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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


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ugordan
post Jan 6 2009, 07:12 PM
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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.


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Guest_Zvezdichko_*
post Jan 11 2009, 10:34 AM
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SpaceX announces, that Falcon 9 is now vertical:

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

It's great!

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DarthVader
post Jan 11 2009, 10:04 PM
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That is pretty neat indeed. That's one good looking rocket there :-)
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dvandorn
post Jan 11 2009, 10:09 PM
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I dunno -- from some angles, it looks a lot like my old Centuri Payloader... huh.gif

-the other Doug


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ElkGroveDan
post Jan 12 2009, 01:54 AM
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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.


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ugordan
post Jan 12 2009, 08:51 AM
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Several new nice looking pictures are now posted at the update page above.


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Vultur
post Jan 15 2009, 04:55 AM
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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.
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