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SpaceX Updates (thread 2)

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#166 Crisp



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Posted 04 June 2012 - 01:31

Some awesome photos in this thread. Congrats to SpaceX, can't wait for a Mars announcement. :woot:

#167 OP DocM


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Posted 04 June 2012 - 09:30

Falcon 9 #4 is at KSC and its first ISS resupply Dragon (CRS-1) leaves Hawthorn for KSC within a few weeks. Launch is probably September, with CRS-2 around December.

Those will be the last of the Falcon 9 1.0 launchers. After them the first Falcon 9 1.1 launches from the new SpaceX SLC-4E complex at Vandenberg AFB in California in Q1 2013 as a run-up to the first Falcon Heavy launch, the F9 1.1 also being the much larger & more powerful core stage for the Falcon Heavy.

That first F9 1.1 will launch a satellite for MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) of Canada, the makers of the Canadarm and other space robotics, comms and military systems.

#168 OP DocM


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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:59

A better pic of DragonRider (crew Dragon) from a different angle.

Take note that the iLIDS (International Low Impact Docking System) docking adapter cover at the top is off-centered. This opens up space at one side for a small window, cameras and other docking sensors.

We also get a better look at the SuperDraco thruster "noses." With 8 independent and highly throttle-able SuperDraco's there is redundancy for propulsive ground landings, plus a mortar-fired parachute system as a backup.

The C1 Dragon from 2010 used a silicone foam thermal protection material for its external shell called ACUSIL, made by ITT-Aerotherm. It is the same material used to protect the data link antenna's on the back-shell of the Mars Science Laboratory that's on it's way to Mars. Its also used on missiles.

SpaceX (surprise-surprise) brought things back in-house and made their own aeroshell thermal protection material for Dragon C2+: SPAM (SpaceX Proprietary Ablative Material) - which while darkened after this last mission by heat shield residue it cleaned up well in those areas where it was tried. It's looking like SPAM, or a further evolution of it, is what'll be used for DragonRider's aeroshell panels.

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#169 neoadorable


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Posted 11 June 2012 - 15:39

looks good, and the landing pics and video were nice. i also await further news, i hope this invigorates the drive to go further and faster.

#170 OP DocM


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Posted 12 June 2012 - 03:34

Specs for the next-gen Falcon 9 v. 1.1 and Falcon Heavy are in.

Pic comparing them to the current Falcon 9 v. 1.0 attached.

Merlin 1D

(Current Merlin 1C: 95,000 lbf & 125,000 lbf)

Merlin 1D sea level thrust: 147,000 lbf (1st stage)
Merlin 1D sea level ISP: 282 seconds
Merlin 1DVac vacuum thrust: 161,000 lbf (second stage)
Merlin 1DVac vacuum ISP: 311 seconds

Falcon 9 v. 1.1

(Falcon 9 1.0: 47.85 m / 157 ft w/Dragon)

Overall length: 69.2 m (227 ft)
Width: 3.6 m (12 ft)
Engines: 9x Merlin 1D + 1x Merlin 1DVac
Total thrust (sea level): 5.88 MN (1,320,000 lbf)

Mass to Low Earth Orbit (LEO): 13,150 kg (29,000 lb)
Mass to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO): 4,850 kg (10,692 lb)

Falcon Heavy

Overall length: 69.2 m (227 ft)
Width: 3.6 m (12 ft) x 11.6 m (38 ft)
Engines: 27x Merlin 1D + 1x Merlin 1DVac
Total thrust: 17 MN (3,800,000 lbf)

Mass to Low Earth Orbit (LEO): 53,000 kg (117,000 lb)
Mass to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO): 12,000 kg (26,460 lb)

Rumored (strongly): an advanced staged combustion engine that could increase the above payloads significantly.

#171 OP DocM


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Posted 12 June 2012 - 04:29

Updated pic

Falcon 9 v. 1.0 is the one used for flight 3, the last ISS mission. The F9 v. 1.1 goes live with flight 6, and will be used for both cargo and the DragonRider crewed flights. It also serves as the core stage for Falcon Heavy, and its first stage is used as the side boosters for FH.

Falcon Heavy will come in 2 configurations: one using fuel / liquid oxygen cross-feed and one not.

When using cross-feed extra fuel and liquid oxygen are pumped from the side boosters into the core stage so that when the side boosters separate the core stage has full tanks, increasing the mass to orbit. Technically, this makes Falcon Heavy a 2.5 stage rocket. Non-cross-feed would be used for smaller than max payloads and will be cheaper.

Dragon will also be available with 2 sizes of cargo trunk; the existing 2.3 m / 7.6 ft long version and a 4.3 m / 14.17 ft long version for larger cargo.

SpaceX has also signed a major deal with SpaceFlight Services to provide secondary, micro and mini satellite launches. Their deployment bus will be mounted on top of the second stage, then after the main payload (ex: Dragon or a large satellite) is deployed the second stage will re-light to put the other payloads into their orbits.

SpaceFlight Services will also handle payloads for the DragonLab free-flying experiment platform - an uncrewed robotic Dragon capable of 2 year science etc. missions. This will open up long term ISS-style microgravity research to universities, companies & governments who can't get ISS time.

DragonLab PDF....

SpaceFlight Services payload bus
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#172 OP DocM


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Posted 13 June 2012 - 19:51



WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden joined SpaceX CEO and
Chief Designer Elon Musk at the SpaceX Rocket Development Facility in
McGregor, Texas, Wednesday to see the first commercial space capsule
to complete a mission to the International Space Station.

Bolden and Musk also thanked the more than 150 SpaceX employees
working at the McGregor facility for their role in the historic
mission. SpaceX's Dragon capsule made history May 31 when it returned
to Earth after delivering supplies to the space station.

"The Dragon capsule is a tangible example of the new era
of exploration unfolding right now," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
said. "Commercial space is becoming a reality as SpaceX looks ahead
to future missions to the space station and other destinations. All
of NASA's partners in the commercial crew and cargo programs continue
to meet milestones designing the next generation of innovative U.S.
spacecraft destined for low Earth orbit. In addition, NASA centers
across the country are making exciting progress on the vehicles that
will take astronauts to farther destinations like an asteroid and
Mars. I congratulate Elon Musk and the SpaceX team again for this
historic milestone."

While on-site, Bolden had the opportunity to view some of the 1,367
pounds of cargo the spacecraft returned to Earth from the space
station. Dragon is the only spacecraft capable of returning a
significant quantity of science experiments and cargo from the
station. Experiments will be given back to researchers hoping to gain
new insights provided by the station's unique microgravity
environment. The cargo was transferred to NASA June 13 and will be
taken to the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston for further

Dragon's journey to the station was SpaceX's second demonstration
mission under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Program (COTS), which provides investments intended to lead to
regular resupply missions to the International Space Station and
stimulate the commercial space industry in the United States. The
mission began May 22 as the capsule launched from Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. After its
maneuverability and abort systems were tested, crew members of
Expedition 31 aboard the station grappled the capsule and berthed it
to the orbiting laboratory.

Dragon, its exterior scorched by the heat of re-entry, splashed down
in the Pacific Ocean May 31. SpaceX recovered the capsule immediately
and transported it to McGregor, where engineers unloaded cargo and
removed hazardous materials. Dragon will be shipped to SpaceX
Headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., later this year.

On Thursday, Bolden and Musk will be at SpaceX Headquarters and speak
with reporters at 9 a.m. PDT. They will see the Dragon spacecraft
that flew the first COTS demonstration mission in December 2010,
during which SpaceX became the first private company to recover a
spacecraft after it orbited Earth. They also will see a prototype
Dragon spacecraft being designed to carry astronauts to the space
station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Media representatives wishing to attend Thursday's event should email
media@SpaceX.com for information on access to the facilities.

Images of Bolden and Musk with the Dragon capsule in McGregor are
available at:




For more information about NASA's COTS Program and SpaceX, visit:


For more information about Administrator Bolden, visit:


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#173 OP DocM


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Posted 13 June 2012 - 23:25

Cool :)


Musk says Texas is “leading candidate” for spaceport

Texas is apparently stepping up its space game.

Today Elon Musk met with reporters at SpaceX’s rocket-testing operation in MacGregor and said Brownsville is the company’s leading candidate for a spaceport.

I wanted to attend the press availability but I am still enmeshed in reporting on the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute and the controversial University of Texas M.D. Anderson grant. Expect another story within the next few days.

In any case, according to SpaceX’s Kirstin Borst, here’s exactly what Musk said about the Texas site:

So, right now, Texas, the south coast of Texas is the lead candidate for that third launch site, and actually flying to meet with the Governor later today and a number of people on the Texas legislature side to talk about that as well as any potential questions in the future about flying astronauts if we're successful in winning future NASA business in that regard.

In regard to the Musk statement, if Texas truly is the leading candidate this is really big news. It represents a significant turnaround in his view since April, when he told me the state wasn't doing much to court his company.

Getting a spaceport in Texas would be huge for the state because it gets us into the rocket launching game. This is important moving forward as Florida has been seeking to get into the astronaut and flight control roles, which heretofore have been what Texas has done.

And having SpaceX build the spaceport, with its track record of successful launches, just makes it that much better.

#174 Growled


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Posted 13 June 2012 - 23:30

Today Elon Musk met with reporters at SpaceX’s rocket-testing operation in MacGregor and said Brownsville is the company’s leading candidate for a spaceport.

Cool. Having a spaceport has a nice ring to it.

#175 OP DocM


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Posted 13 June 2012 - 23:42

Near Brownsville on the coast, south of Port Isabel.

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#176 remixedcat



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Posted 14 June 2012 - 13:07

Awesome pic and pick.... Brownsville can use a pick-me-up and it's a cheap area to live as well.

#177 OP DocM


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Posted 14 June 2012 - 21:54

NASA administrator Gen. Charles Bolden visited Hawthorn today. Note they have the 2010 1st Dragon and the DragonRider evaluation unit. Attendees at the recent Mars conference hinted strongly that the SuperDraco thrusters in those "noses" will be throttleable between 5% and 100%, an outstanding range for a rocket engine of its capability.


NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, capping a tour of SpaceX facilities to thank employees for their part in making the first mission by a private company to the International Space Station a success. 

Bolden and SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk addressed more than 1,000 employees who helped design, launch and safely recover the company's Dragon capsule in May following its trip to the space station. 

"NASA has its sights set on reaching an asteroid and Mars and commercial space companies like SpaceX are helping make that possible by taking over the challenging transportation of cargo to low Earth orbit," Bolden said. "The International Space Station is the key to our human spaceflight efforts right now and SpaceX's successful resupply demonstration mission helped ensure it can achieve its full potential. We look forward to Dragon becoming a regular visitor to the station." 

While on-site, Bolden had an opportunity to see the first Dragon spacecraft to be recovered by the company in December 2010, following a demonstration mission to orbit and safely return a capsule.

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#178 adam7288



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Posted 15 June 2012 - 16:46

Watch Caltech commencement with Elon Musk as the speaker streaming live in 15 min:


#179 neoadorable


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Posted 16 June 2012 - 16:02

thanks for all the updates as always Doc. i really like Bolden, he's not only a decorated astronaut himself, but he's more of straightalker than prev admins and not so wishy washy.a lot of this is pointing to a Mars mission. I really hope we can still do it this decade, especially if China steps up to the plate.

#180 OP DocM


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Posted 18 June 2012 - 23:55

SuperDraco firing on its new vertical test stand.

Best guesses are that the nozzle is about 8" and the chamber about 12" x 14", producing about 24,000 lbf of thrust each. It also seems to have an active cooling system for the throat & nozzle. And to think that DragonRider will have eight of these suckers.


Just fired our Superdraco escape rocket engine at full thrust! Needed to carry astronauts on Dragon

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