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Falcon Surprise, SpaceX Says Something Big is Coming
Greg Hullender
post Apr 5 2011, 04:01 AM
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From SpaceX about two hours ago.

QUOTE
Something Big is Coming
ElonMusk Holding Press Conference on Tuesday, April 5th
Elon Musk,CEO and Chief Technical Officer of SpaceX, will hold a press conference on Tuesday, April 5th at 11:20am EST to discuss SpaceX's latest venture.
Get a sneakpeak of the discussion on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th6HQ9RtVCE.
The press conference will be webcast live at: http://www.visualwebcaster.com/spacex. The press conference will also be accessible via the home page ofSpaceX.com by clicking the main banner. If you are unable to watch live, the press conference will be archived at http://www.visualwebcaster.com/spacex for future viewing.
Judging from the video (and the fact that the Falcon 9 Heavy Maiden Launch showed up on their mainifest a month or two ago) I'm guessing this'll be the F9H announcement. But, given the fanfare, it could be anything.

--Greg

This post has been edited by Astro0: Apr 5 2011, 04:31 AM
Reason for edit: Edited to fix formatting problems
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Syrinx
post Apr 5 2011, 04:35 AM
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I've taken all the fanfare to mean that SpaceX hired a new Chief of Marketing, who has promptly turned it up to 10.
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Eluchil
post Apr 5 2011, 06:23 PM
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QUOTE
I'm guessing this'll be the F9H announcement.


Looks like Greg was right. Florida Today article
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Norm Hartnett
post Apr 5 2011, 11:49 PM
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If Space X gets this thing off the ground (and they have come close on all their other vehicle predictions) the Falcon Heavy (FH) will have a huge impact on the launch market since it is advertised to reach the mythic $1000/lb to LEO. How much that would impact interplanetary science launch costs remains to be seen.

Edit; Elon did say that a single FH launch could handle the entire Mars sample return mission. The Falcon Heavy has enough power to reach Mars with a 30,000-pound payload with a launch cost of around $100 million. unsure.gif
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Greg Hullender
post Apr 6 2011, 02:37 AM
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Spaceflight Now says NASA is eager to certify the regular Falcon 9 for unmanned space probes.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1104/04launchcosts/
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Greg Hullender
post Apr 6 2011, 04:43 AM
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Anyone have any idea why the maiden launch for FH would be from Vandenberg? Ideal for a polar launch, of course, but why do that?
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djellison
post Apr 6 2011, 05:30 AM
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Pad ready quicker? Less conflicts on the range? Closer to Hawthorne? I can think of lots of reasons.
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stevesliva
post Apr 6 2011, 05:37 AM
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Beats me.

Because there is a brand new space launch complex there for the Delta IV heavy that probably won't be doing very much?

edit: Actually, looks like they'll be using the Titan IV SLC-4 that the air force should've kept around a little longer. Might just allow more multitasking.
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SFJCody
post Apr 6 2011, 01:08 PM
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I wonder what could be done with a little New Horizons size spacecraft + kick stage on a monster launch vehicle like that. Flybys of Eris or Sedna? laugh.gif
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AndyG
post Apr 6 2011, 01:44 PM
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~12 tonnes in low Mars orbit would be rather entertaining, too! rolleyes.gif
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ugordan
post Apr 6 2011, 04:33 PM
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QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Apr 6 2011, 06:43 AM) *
Anyone have any idea why the maiden launch for FH would be from Vandenberg? Ideal for a polar launch, of course, but why do that?

Because the pad at the Cape doesn't support the Heavy and would need a new integration hangar, new ground support equipment, additional propellant tanks, etc. All that would interfere with the planned COTS/CRS launches and I think neither SpaceX nor NASA want that. They plan on adding support for the Heavy there in late 2013/early 2014.

Also, the Air Force kind of gave them a requirement that to be eligible for EELV program contracts, they would need a west coast pad for polar launches and a vehicle more capable than the standard Falcon 9. So they're attempting to kill two birds with one stone.


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ugordan
post Apr 6 2011, 04:34 PM
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QUOTE (AndyG @ Apr 6 2011, 03:44 PM) *
~12 tonnes in low Mars orbit would be rather entertaining, too! rolleyes.gif

12 tons to TMI and 12 tons in Mars orbit are two different things.


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AndyG
post Apr 6 2011, 06:46 PM
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QUOTE (ugordan @ Apr 6 2011, 05:34 PM) *
12 tons to TMI and 12 tons in Mars orbit are two different things.

Oh, agreed.

If the Earth-orbited 52 tonne figure is correct and the back of my envelope is working, ~6.2km/s takes you from LEO to LMO, and that delta V gives you a 12T final mass with a LH/LOX rocket of specific impulse ~450.

Andy
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ugordan
post Apr 6 2011, 07:09 PM
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I wouldn't count on Falcon Heavy having anything near those 53 mt in the near future. The current 1st stage tank size simply doesn't support that kind of propellant load. Wer'e talking 1450 tons liftoff mass compared to 310 t of current Falcon 9.

It seems obvious an upgrade path at one point would be to stretch the tank by as much as 40 or 50% to take advantage of the upgraded Merlin engine thrust. The CGI video shows a Falcon Heavy with current tank sizes and I'd wager that one would put in the ballpark of previous Falcon 9 Heavy estimates - about 30 tons to LEO. Tanks stretched by that much would look unnaturally skinny for F9's diameter.


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stevesliva
post Apr 6 2011, 09:37 PM
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QUOTE (ugordan @ Apr 6 2011, 03:09 PM) *
I wouldn't count on Falcon Heavy having anything near those 53 mt in the near future. The current 1st stage tank size simply doesn't support that kind of propellant load. Wer'e talking 1450 tons liftoff mass compared to 310 t of current Falcon 9.


I know you follow this stuff closer than I do, but I saw something mention that the center 1st stage tank would stay full due to connections to the strap-ons. Is that where the figure comes from?
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