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SpaceX Updates (thread 3)

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Starting SpaceX thread 3 as thread 2 is past 15 pages and they're between launches..

Thread 1:?http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/991330-spacex-updates-grasshopper-rlv/

Thread 2:?http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1068372-spacex-updates-thread-2/

An interesting tidbit that the version 2 of the Dragon spaceship may well be sporting a new shape vs. the current steep-sided capsule shape we're used to. Musk says it'll be unveiled soon, so pics galore can be expected when it is.

From Elon Musk's lecture at the UK's Royal Aeronautical Society -

EM: ...and then there's the next generation of Dragon, the Dragon version 2, which actually does not look like that, but we'll be unveiling that fairly soon. I think that is pretty cool. Dragon version 1, we didn't really know what we were doing, most likely know more at this point. That's why Dragon version 1 looks fairly similar to things in the past, we thought, well, better not stray too far from things in the past, and hopefully it worked. Yeah, so the next version of Dragon will do that, but it looks a bit different, but it'll have legs that pop out and it has eight thrusters that are arranged in four pairs around the exterior. On the actual vehicle, the pairs are not at quite 90 degrees, partially because we wanted to shift the engines that are on the wind-ward side of the back shell, a little more towards the wind-ward side, so they're not quite 90 degrees apart, they're a little closer together on one side, and they're much bigger than what you see there.

And from another interview later the same day -

Interviewer: And what about the man-rating of the Dragon capsule, because it has been designed from the beginning to carry, I think, seven astronauts, so in fact that's going to be happening in parallel with this new Falcon Nine then, is it?

EM: It is, yes. We've got what we call Dragon Version Two, being developed in parallel with the next generation Falcon 9. Dragon Version Two will be capable of carrying up to seven astronauts. It will also be capable of landing propulsively, with little legs that pop out. So it will look like a real, you know, alien spaceship, I guess.

Interviewer: An actual flying saucer.

EM: Yeah, in this case, it does kind of look like... when people see the new design, I think they will be quite excited, because it really does look like something from the future.

Whoa....

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Awesome! That's like twice the size of current Dragon, right? Just build the 4000 ton Orion already! 20 booster rockets to orbit, then fire off the nukes and get to Mars in a week. How difficult can this be?

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Too early to come to any conclusions about changes to Dragon, but some of the speculation on the space sites is pretty radical, including incorporating the trunk in the main airframe.

Also;

SpaceX just picked up 2 US Govt. launches, beating out Orbital Sciences for both -

1) DISCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory in Nov. 2014. Falcon 9 v1.1

2) a Dept. of Defense Space Test Program payload in Sept. 2015. Falcon Heavy.

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_12_05_2012_p0-524585.xml&p=1

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that's good, will give them more resources to work with.

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can't wait to see what the future holds for the folks at spacex

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A guy named Padrat who works for SpaceX reports there has been another Grasshopper (100 ft tall reusable booster testbed) hover test and that it was "impressive." Hopefully we'll see a video soon :)

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that would be nice. when is the next Dragon mission to the ISS Doc, I forgot?

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Next ISS flight is the end of Feb - beginning of March, delayed a by pending software upgrades to the ISS itself (main reason) and the now finished review of what made one of F9's engines fail during the last flight.

There is also the pending maiden flight of the greatly upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg AFB in California. It's much larger (227 feet tall vs. 156 for a 1.0 with a Dragon), has much more powerful engines, a new thrust structure (lighter) and 8 of the engines will be in an octagon + the center engine instead of the familiat 3x3 grid.

How much more powerful? The current v1.0 can send about 10 metric tons to LEO. The upgraded v1.1 will be able to send 16 tons (NASA number) to LEO, or 13.5 tons with up to 2 failed engines (SpaceX number.)

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Neo -

The next Dragon has arrived at the launch site :)

537695_10152360964895131_383864606_n.jpg

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http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1301/01orbcomm/#.UORJyL-9LTo

SpaceX and Orbcomm Inc. have agreed to new contract terms for the launch of 18 data communications satellites beginning in mid-2013, according to a filing with a U.S. regulatory agency.

The $42.6 million contract covers the launch of 18 second-generation Orbcomm satellites on two Falcon 9 rockets between the second quarter of 2013 and the second quarter of 2014, Orbcomm wrote in a Dec. 27 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Orbcomm's second-generation, or OG2, satellites will improve the company's messaging service with faster transmission speeds and increased throughput. Sierra Nevada Corp. is building the satellites.

Eight OG2 satellites will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket in mid-2013. Another Falcon 9 launch in 2014 will launch the other 10 satellites.

Orbcomm's previous launch contract with SpaceX, signed in August 2009, provided for satellite launches on an enhanced version of the company's smaller Falcon 1 booster. SpaceX has since discontinued production of the Falcon 1 launcher.

With the future of the Falcon 1 in doubt, officials with both companies planned to move the Orbcomm OG2 satellites to a Falcon 9 booster. The firms reached a deal Dec. 21, according to the SEC filing.

>

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http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-commercial-crew-20130109,0,32311.story

SpaceX crew launch: Space X to launch humans into space in 2015

WASHINGTON ? A top executive at SpaceX said Wednesday that the California-based rocket company hoped to launch U.S. astronauts into orbit as early as 2015 ? with the twist that these space-farers would be SpaceX employees and not NASA personnel.

The goal was announced during a NASA news conference held at Kennedy Space Center intended to broadly update the public on the agency's efforts to use commercial companies to ferry its astronauts to the International Space Station.

But the pronouncement by ex-NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman ? now a project manager with SpaceX ? stole the show, especially because SpaceX made history last year by becoming the first commercial company to blast an unmanned spacecraft to the station and return it safely to Earth.

"We are not selling tickets. Don't call our toll-free number," joked Reisman, who said the test flight would be part of the company's effort to convince NASA that its Falcon 9 rockets and Dragon capsules are safe enough to carry NASA crews.

He said the company, founded by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, had just begin "internal discussions" on whom SpaceX would send on the mission ? and deflected questions about whether he would be onboard.

"I did not come to SpaceX specifically ? with the intent of going back to space," said Reisman, a veteran of NASA station and space-shuttle missions.

But he said that no matter who flew for SpaceX, he would help ensure it was safe.

"What's important to me is that I can look myself in the mirror ? [and say] that the risk is acceptable for me to fly," he said.

The 2015 demonstration flight by SpaceX ? along with a similar mission planned by Boeing in 2016 for its new capsule ? are being encouraged by NASA as a precursor to launching agency astronauts.

"We want to know when you [commercial companies] are ready to fly your crew at your risk," said Ed Mango, manager of NASA's commercial-crew program.

SpaceX documents filed with NASA indicate that the company's first manned mission would be an "orbital-demonstration flight" that would stay in space at least three days. It would not dock with the space station.

>

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Siemens SpaceX ad (they use Siemens NX simulation & manufacturing s/w.)

If you look closely you'll see the skeleton of their 5 meter payload fairing with a tablet-holding guy in the foreground. There are also shots of their factory floor, inside Dragon and at their Kennedy Space Center integration hangar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1EJinxpx4Y

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited SpaceX's pad at Vandenberg AFB today.

News from the event: Falcon 9 v1.1 maiden flight from Vandenberg is June 18, 2013, and we have pics of the SLC-4E hangar, pad & crawler plus a new graphic of the Falcon Heavy on the pad.

http://lompocrecord.com/mobile-touch-2/?disableTNStatsTracker=1&asset=e8181f8a-74e3-11e2-92ee-001a4bcf887a#e8181f8a-74e3-11e2-92ee-001a4bcf887a

Vandenberg AFB hangar (Falcon 9 v1.1 and Falcon Heavy)

vhangar1.jpg

Pad & transporter/gantry images - some serious metal there

vpad1.jpg

vpad2.jpg

vpad3.jpg

Flame trench & part of pad. Note the scale vs the people

vpad4.jpg

CGI of same area - compare to Falcon Heavy graphic below for true scale

vpad4b.jpg

The Beast - Falcon Heavy

fhpad.jpg/

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SLC-4E on Feb 10, 2013

SLC4E-feb2013-1800.jpg

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awesome awesome! and $36 billion city on Mars? man you could build a small Manhattan for that kind of money over there! Why does he need so much? he's the guy that told us a round trip to Mars should never cost more than half a bill!

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Infrastructure costs to build the thing, plus transportation costs over an extended period - not all at once.

The details on MCT should be forthcoming later this year, and my guess is that we'll see plans for some sort of in-space only Mars trandport vehicle much larger than Dragon, which sill just ferry people to it. Part of this is because a SpaceX'er defined MCT as "Mars Colony Transport."

Wouldn't be surprised go see plans for an upgraded Falcon Heavy - perhaps 80+ metric tons to orbit, and a formal announcemdnt of a new family of methane fueled engines. A big methane upper stage could give Falcon Heavy that margin.

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Working on having 3 SpaceX spaceports; KSC, Vandenberg AFB, and Brownsville, Texas. They've also expanded their engine line to make several hundred Merlin 1D / M1DVac rocket engines a year.

http://brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_0231fd54-86dd-11e2-aad1-0019bb30f31a.html

Legislation filed for SpaceX project at Boca Chica Beach

State Rep. Rene Oliveira filed legislation Wednesday aimed at furthering the SpaceX project at Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville, he said.

?We?re definitely more optimistic than ever that Cameron County will have SpaceX,? Oliveira said.

?Obviously, there are still major decisions that need to be made with the federal government. But the fact that we and others are proceeding with legislation, and Mr. Elon Musk is going to be (in Austin) Friday, indicates, I think, a very favorable view on his part,? Oliveira added.

Musk is the founder of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., a California-based space exploration firm, which is considering a location near Boca Chica Beach for a rocket launch facility.

Oliveira, D-Brownsville, also said in an announcement that the legislation he filed would allow Cameron County to temporarily close a beach area for launches and space flight activities with approval of the General Land Office.

Oliveira said that while SpaceX has not made a final decision to relocate to the area, he filed the bill to make certain the necessary legislative measures are in place to move the project forward.

The proposed legislation would prohibit a beach closing during the major summer holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, and all the summer weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The GLO, Oliveira said, could approve a launch during those dates under special circumstances.

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From today's presentation:

? an F9 v1.1 qualification tank is on the structural stand in Texas, and will be rebuilt later for use on Grasshopper 2.0. GH2 will have flight- like landing legs.

? the first F9 v1.1 ships from Hawthorne to Texas in late March

? after S2 separation during its first launch, the F9 v1.1 first stage will rotate using cold gas thrusters and relight to reenter more slowly. It will then attempt to "land" on the ocean as practice for landings near the pad.

? the underground test stand at McGregor is currently for Falcon Heavy only, but this could change.

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Whoa!! A new factory for larger than F9 (Falcon Heavy?) stage cores?

Sounds like the SpaceX BFR (big f'ing rocket, AKA Falcon X or XX) is on the way. BFR would supposedly have a core stage 7+ meters in diameter, far larger than the 3.66 meters of Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy. Far too large for long distance highway transport.

Mass to orbit estimates have run 140-200 metric tonnes. Saturn V did about 110 metric tonnes, the Shuttle could carry 25 MT and the Delta IV Heavy about 22 MT. Falcon Heavy is to do about 53 MT.

http://brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_7930c5e8-8868-11e2-9a4e-001a4bcf6878.html

SpaceX chief appears before House committee

The next SpaceX launch site will not only be a place to launch rockets: The company would eventually want a site nearby to build them as well.

Space Exploration Technologies founder and billionaire Elon Musk made the announcement Friday at a hearing before the Texas House of Representatives Appropriations Committee in Austin, where he explained to committee members what SpaceX, as his company is known, is all about.

Musk said the company will continue to build its Falcon 9 rockets in California, but when it begins manufacturing rockets larger than the Falcon 9, they would be built at or near the launch site.

?The logical thing is to build near the launch site,? he said. ?That is something that will occur wherever the launch site occurs.?

Musk said Texas still is the leading candidate for a SpaceX launch site.

?It all seems to be progressing pretty well,? Musk said. ?We are optimistic about making this work in Texas in the Boca Chica area.?

>

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Happy Birthday! (Y)

SpaceX ?@SpaceX

SpaceX turns 11 years old today?and we?ve worked hard to make every year count.

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Update,

Not counting the F9 v1.1 shipped to McGregor, SpaceX has several F9 v1.1 cores at Hawthorn (!) and the Merlin 1D production line is humming.

From Elon Musk,

Testing separation of F9 rocket fairing (can hold a city bus) in world's largest vacuum chamber (Plum Brook Space Power Facility, with help from NASA's Glenn Research Center).

And from multiple sources,

CASSIOPE; June from Vandenberg. Falcon 9 v1.1

SES-8: early July from KSC. Falcon 9 v1.1

Thaicom-6: late July from KSC. Falcon 9 v1.1

3 launches in less than 2 months!!

And....ORBCOMM OG-2 and Dragon CRS-3 are scheduled for later this year;

ORBCOMM OG-2 will be the simultaneous launch of 8 communications satellites.

Dragon CRS-3 also has several secondary satellites to release; CUNYSAT 1, Hermes 2, LMRSat, TechCube 1, All-Star-THEIA, FIREBIRD A, FIREBIRD B, and Ho?oponopono 2.

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SpaceX's Merlin 1D Engine Achieves Flight Qualification

Hawthorne, CA ? Space Exploration Technologies? (SpaceX) Merlin 1D engine has achieved flight qualification, a major milestone for the next generation Merlin engine. Through a 28 test qualification program, the Merlin 1D accumulated 1,970 seconds of total test time, the equivalent run time of over 10 full mission durations, and is now fully qualified to fly on the Falcon 9 rocket.

The program included four tests at or above the power (147,000 pounds of thrust) and duration (185 seconds) required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The Merlin 1D engine was also tested at propellant inlet and operating conditions that were well outside the bounds of expected flight conditions.

SpaceX's testing program demonstrated a ratio of 4:1 for critical engine life parameters such as firing duration and restart capacity to the engine's expected flight requirements. The industry standard is 2:1.

?The Merlin 1D successfully performed every test throughout this extremely rigorous qualification program,? said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. ?With flight qualification now complete, we look forward to flying the first Merlin 1D engines on Falcon 9?s Flight 6 this year.?

The Merlin 1D builds on the technology of the Merlin engines used on the first five flights of Falcon 9. With nine Merlin 1Ds on the first stage, the Falcon 9 rocket will produce nearly 1.5 million pounds of thrust in a vacuum. The Merlin 1D has a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio exceeding 150, the best of any liquid rocket engine in history. This enhanced design makes the Merlin 1D the most efficient booster engine ever built, while still maintaining the structural and thermal safety margins needed to carry astronauts. Additionally, the new engine is designed for improved manufacturability by using higher efficiency processes, increased robotic construction and reduced parts count.

Testing took place at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Watch the test here:

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So, the new F9 v1.1 octagonal + center engine arrangement has a name: Octaweb.

SpaceX Falcon 9 1.1 Production Line

2 first & 2 second stages in the shot, plus what looks to be a thrust structure (jig?) in the vanc-left.

f9v1.1factory.jpg

f9v1.1factory1a.jpg

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Version 1.0 was the cargo ship flying goods to and from the ISS, returning to a water landing.

Dragon 2.0 will be able to fly people, land on the ground using propulsion, and be modifiable to do unmanned science missions to Mars and other bodies, landing propulsively.

Dragon 2.0 will have 8 SuperDraco thrusters arranged in 4 pairs in pods, with a cumulative thrust of over 120,000 lbf. Each pair member provides redundancy for its partner, and steering will be done using thrust differential - each SuperDraco being deeply throttleable.

Only 20% throttle will be required to land, 100% being for launch escape, so if one fails its paired partner can throttle up to make up the difference. Ignition is guaranteed because the fuel and oxidizer are hypergolic, they ignite on contact, and pumps aren't necessary as the fluid tanks are redundantly pressurized.

Video shows a Dragon 1.0 doing the propulsive landing bit, but 2.0 is to look significantly different.

http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/28/17506890-spacex-dragon-20-looks-like-alien-spaceship-says-elon-musk?lite

SpaceX Dragon 2.0 looks like 'alien spaceship,' says Elon Musk

The next version of the Dragon spacecraft built by the private spaceflight company SpaceX will look like something truly out of this world, according to Elon Musk, the company's billionaire founder and CEO.

Musk detailed some of the high points of the firm's much-anticipated Dragon Version 2 to reporters Thursday during a briefing with NASA to celebrate the firm's second successful cargo mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule returned to Earth Tuesday with a successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

But according to Musk, Dragon Version 2 landings won't be so ? wet. But it may look weird.

"There are side-mounted thruster pods and quite big windows for astronauts to see out," Musk told SPACE.com. "There are also legs to pop out at the bottom. It looks like a real alien spaceship."

Those pop out legs, Musk added, will be for land touchdowns.

Musk is designing the capsule in the hopes that it will make its landings back on Earth, not at sea. The current Dragon space capsule design can only land in water, but Musk said he wants to "push the envelope" with the spacecraft's next incarnation, be it for manned or unmanned flights.

Musk is expected to unveil the design sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, SpaceX is already experimenting with land landings using its Gr****opper rocket, a prototype for a completely reusable launch system that has made several test flights ? each higher than the last ? none of which were aimed at reaching space.

Dragon isn't the only member of the SpaceX fleet getting an upgrade. The company's Falcon 9 rocket is also going to be retooled for more efficiency with 60 or 70 percent greater capacity and 60 percent more powerful thrusters, Musk added.

Private cargo ship success

SpaceX's most recent Dragon mission ended after three weeks attached to the orbiting laboratory. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 214 miles off the coast of Baja California to return about 2,670 pounds science gear and back to Earth.

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly a dozen cargo missions like the one that just ended. The company's fourth launch is scheduled for the end of September.

>

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Dragon 1.0 depicted doing Dragon 2.0 landing

SuperDraco test run

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