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DocM

SpaceX Updates (thread 3)

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Standard 5.2 x 13.9 meter payload fairing (PLF) for Falcon 9 v1.1 and Falcon Heavy. Getting ready for the June 18th maiden flight of F9 v1.1

Elon Musk

@elonmusk

Rocket fairing almost ready for deployment test in vacuum chamber. Man lift on right for scale pic.twitter.com/BLOTThWFvw

v1.1fairing.jpg

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http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 01:36:37 AM GMT+0900

The NASA Partner Integration Team, called a PIT Crew, working with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to help develop the company's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft combination recently talked with SpaceX representatives about its spacecraft propulsion and parachute systems.

Later this month, the PIT Crew will travel to McGregor, Texas, for a SuperDraco abort engine test. Plans call for eight SuperDracos to be built into the sidewalls of the Dragon spacecraft, allowing a crew to escape from danger at any point of a launch.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and its partners, copy and paste this link into your Web browser: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

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http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/South-Texas-SpaceX-site-get-preliminary-OK-from-4439985.php

South Texas SpaceX site gets preliminary OK from feds

AUSTIN - South Texas' hopes of becoming a hub for commercial space missions are still alive.

Federal regulators have released a preliminary report that says California-based SpaceX can launch rockets from a proposed site near Brownsville without devastating the sensitive environment around Boca Chica beach as long as the company takes steps to protect several endangered species, the water supply and plant life.

The report released late Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration is only a draft. A final impact study is expected later this year before the FAA decides whether to award SpaceX launch licenses for its proposed Boca Chica spaceport.

The draft report is viewed as a huge jolt of good news for state and local officials trying to lure the company to build its rocket launch site in South Texas. Competition from other states also hoping to land the project is stiff.

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The FAA draft report does cite a likely impact to several species of birds, felines and sea turtles. The study, however, contains a list of measures SpaceX would have to implement to make sure there are "no significant impacts on wildlife."

Those measures include avoiding launches when wildlife are most active, and providing pre-and post-launch surveys for endangered birds.

"That can all be mitigated. It has been done before," said Gilbert Salinas, executive vice president of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. "The report was better than what I expected. We're closer to the finish line now."

The FAA will conduct a public hearing on its draft report in Brownsville on May 7.

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Re: Falcon 9 v1.1 maiden flight

? cargo fairing test in the huge NASA Plum Brook vacuum chamber was successful.

? maiden flight moved to July 9 because the new pad at Vandenberg SLC-4E wouldn't be ready for June 18.

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Bad that it was delayed, but worth it. Thanks for the updates Doc

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Get out your ear plugs McGregor!

Gawd, I wish I were down there for this first 3 minute firing of F9 v1.1.

http://wacotrib.com/mobile/blogs/joe_science/heads-up-spacex-testing-is-about-to-get-louder/article_9df3ac82-aeb6-11e2-bbff-0019bb2963f4.html

Heads up: SpaceX testing is about to get louder

I just got a call from SpaceX communications director Christina Ra with a heads up: testing at their McGregor development facility is about to get loud even by their standards. (Given recent events, it was considered an especially good idea to let people know about this ahead of time.)

In keeping with the company philosophy that tests happen as soon as everything's ready rather than holding to a rigid schedule, Ra couldn't say yet precisely when the particularly loud tests will happen. She said a short, 10-second test could come as early as Tuesday, April 30; a test firing for the full 3 minutes a Falcon 9 rocket's first stage burns on the way to orbit would follow a few days after the first test.

Ra couldn't comment on precisely what technology was being tested ? SpaceX tends to keep as mum as possible on such details both for proprietary reasons and out of worries about violating federal law against aiding foreign weapons development ? so this is where the speculation begins.

The most likely possibility is that it's a Falcon 9 first stage test using nine of the new, more powerful Merlin 1D engines (it's known that the 1Ds have been tested individually; this could be the first test of the full, upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage). The more outside shot is that this is the start of testing on the 27-engine Falcon Heavy first stages, but since the Heavy is also set to use Merlin 1Ds it seems likely that they would want to test the nine-engine variant first.

I'll hopefully know more over the weekend. Stay tuned.

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Wait, WHAT?? F9 v1.1 = F9-R(eusable)?!?

Moving FAST!

Also; no greenish-blue flame from the ignition system, so they must have moved beyond the ususal TEA-TEB cartridge system.

Elon Musk ?@elonmusk

First test of the Falcon 9-R (reusable) ignition system. Not long now before the hold down fire

f9rign.jpg

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Part of Elon Musk 's March testimony before the Texas House Appropriations Committee, specifically discussing building large rockets at or near the proposed Boca Chica (Brownsville) launch site.

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NASA/SpaceX teleconference review of CRS-2.

They are already incorporating Grasshopper lessons & technologies into the new Falcon 9 v1.1, so it is in fact the up to now future Falcon 9-R (Reusable) shown in their Reusable Launch Vehicle video.

Differences in the Falcon 9 V1.1?

Far more redundancy

Engine-to-engine protection enhanced (other rockets have NONE)

Used lessons learned from engine failure on CRS-1

Improved engines, structures, avionics (now triple redundant)

Designed for return to launch site propulsively (F9 v1.1 = F9-R!!)

Will take at least a year to get that right.

Expect to lose several stages in tests.

Shotwell - improvements will help with science program.

Musk: Dragon 2 will also return to land.

Water landings will be a thing of the past.

Details on propulsive return?

Prefer to make a debut of Dragon 2 with NASA later this year

Dragon 2 to have bigger windows

Legs that pop out

Looks like a real "alien spaceship" (!!)

Pushing the envelope (no duh!!)

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Looks like a real "alien spaceship" (!!)

Are there any pics of that?

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Not yet, but we know a few things.

There will be 4 sets of 2 deeply throttleable SuperDraco abort/landing thrusters in pods. These will supposedly not be arranged in 90? increments but a flatter X arrangement. Total thrust: >120,000 lbf. Unknown if the pods will be retractable.

The docking port in the front will be offset slightly to one side so the DragonEye docking LIDAR can move from the side instrument bay to a position next to the hatch. New HD cameras (stereoscopic?) will also be mounted there and around the spacecraft.

Seating for up to 7 crewmembers; 3 in the lower deck and 4 in the upper command deck. Lower deck can be omitted and replaced by cargo. All glass cockpit. Robotic or manual avionics. OS's will be Linux and VxWorks.

For crews there will not be a cargo trunk or solar arrays for shortvISS flights, but they are likely for longer or beyond orbit non-ISS ops. There will be larger, more powerful battety packs and more fuel. There may be a short service module.

At first it is slated to land under parachutes, firing the SuperDraco's in the last 10 meters and settling on retractable landing legs. Later the plan is a fully propulsive landing like Grasshopper, just as God & Robert A. Heinlein intended.

Larger windows, as stated. No word on if these will be flush or inset like on Gemini.

We get a look later this year as the announcement will have to be made before the McGregor hover / landing and pad abort tests.

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HOTFIRE!!

Jeezzzzz they're moving fast! Todays F9 v1.1 burn was supposed to be 10 seconds with a 3 minute burn next week.

http://www.kcentv.com/story/22145250/spacex-conducts-louder-than-typical-rocket-test

(KCEN) -- If you live in the McGregor area, you probably heard some extremely loud rumblings this morning.

SpaceX conducted what it calls a louder-than-typical rocket engine test at 8:15 a.m. today.

The test lasted about three minutes.

The space exploration company launched its way into the history books by becoming the first private spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station.

So far SpaceX has completed two of its 12 resupply missions under the company's contract with NASA.

F9R (say: F-niner) LEGS!!!!

F-niner - catchy.

Elon Musk; @elonmusk

F9R (pronounced F-niner) shows a little leg. Design is a nested, telescoping piston w A frame. pic.twitter.com/H49TSS2CYl

Giacomo Balli; @BigBall

@elonmusk is it hydraulic?

Elon Musk; @elonmusk

@BigBalli High pressure helium. Needs to be ultra light. All 4 legs together (~60 ft span) weigh less than Model S.

f9rlegs.jpg

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#36 (DocM)

Do you have a source for the part about the dragon running Linux?

I want to submit it for the "runs Linux" segment of the "Linux Action Show", and though I generally trust you, a source would be nice :-)

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This is a public one I can share - a job posting for a S/W engineer - but it also comes from a non-public discussion area frequented by NASA, Roscosmos, ESA, SpaceX and other industry engineers. Fascinating stuff there :)

Fleshing it out, Linux and VxWorks (for realtime ops) are used throughout their mission control, rockets and spacecraft. Where many rockets still use descrete wiring in most places SpaceX's are fully networked. Avionics are triple redundant voting systems. Back in the Falcon 1 days at the Reagan Test Center (Marshall Islands) their whole launch control system fit in a small trailer with 8-10 laptops in it.

Programming is in C++. This and their OS's caused delays in the first ISS flights because NASA Mission Control uses a mish-mash of older systems including FORTRAN, so integrating it all took time.

http://ventureloop.com/ventureloop/jobdetail.php?jobid=152474

Our Flight Software Group currently has opportunities developing software for embedded flight hardware using Linux and VxWorks as well as ground simulation software using Linux. We also have projects involving low level device driver development, communication protocol work, data integration with the International Space Station, guidance/control algorithm implementation, and fault tolerant system design as well as development of vehicle simulation software.
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Duh - here's another, deeper, public link I'd save & forgot about

http://lwn.net/Articles/540368/

Some technical details

Linux is used for everything at SpaceX. The Falcon, Dragon, and Grasshopper vehicles use it for flight control, the ground stations run Linux, as do the developers' desktops. SpaceX is "Linux, Linux, Linux", he said.

Rose went on to briefly describe the Dragon flight system, though he said he couldn't give too many details. It is a fault-tolerant system in order to satisfy NASA requirements for when it gets close to the ISS. There are rules about how many faults a craft needs to be able to tolerate and still be allowed to approach the station. It uses triply redundant computers to achieve the required level of fault tolerance. The Byzantine generals' algorithm is used to handle situations where the computers do not agree. That situation could come about because of a radiation event changing memory or register values, for example.

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Keep up the good work DocM, one of my favorite threads on here :)

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Elon Musk; @elonmusk

@BigBalli High pressure helium. Needs to be ultra light. All 4 legs together (~60 ft span) weigh less than Model S.

wonder what material they are using to keep it that light

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High grade carbon composites, lithium-aluminum alloy, titanium alloys etc.

Most of their rockets and Dragons structural parts are lithium-aluminum.

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Programming is in C++. This and their OS's caused delays in the first ISS flights because NASA Mission Control uses a mish-mash of older systems including FORTRAN, so integrating it all took time.

http://ventureloop.c...hp?jobid=152474

I'm kinda surprised NASA don't use Ada. I did some work in Ada back in the 80's, for a firm working on a UK air-force contract.

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NASA does use Ada, along with FORTRAN and an alphabet soup of C builds. As I said, a mish-mash. Made interfacing with SpaceX's highly modular C++ coding for Linux & VxWorks interesting.

To SpaceX the Grasshopper HovrrSlam landing code is essentially just an app that plugs into the F9 v1.1's avionics.

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Keep up the good work DocM, one of my favorite threads on here :)

Trying to keep it up to date, which is a job with SpaceX given how fast they're moving on multiple fronts. While other companies are laying off SpaceX is hiring like crazy - over 1,000 in the last year and they only take the cream of the crop from aerospace schools and the best from other companies, NASA and the Astronaut Corps.

New news:

With their focus on first stage recovery & re-use with Grasshopper and F9R (F-Niner) one question that crops up is how the Falcon Heavy's center core will be recovered, if at all.

The FH side boostrrs drop off relatively low & slow so they can boost back like F-Niner, but that canter core acts like stage 1.5 - going faster, higher, and far...too far to boost back to the pad. Today Musk had a Twitter conversation about Falcon Heavy center core recovery;

2552nsf @2552nsf

@elonmusk Speaking of F9R, how do you plan to recover the FH center core? Seems it would be going too fast/far for direct boost-back.

Elon Musk ?@elonmusk

@2552nsf Yeah, that is super tricky. Will have to sacrifice a lot of payload to boost back or land on ocean platform.

JP Burke ?@yatpay

@elonmusk Is it possible to launch from Texas and land in Florida?

Elon Musk ?@elonmusk

@yatpay Side boosters fall short & center core goes too far + Florida is heavily populated. Landing permission tricky

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In the competition for who gets the big SpaceX commercial spaceport and the large diameter rocket core factory** -

The proposed Boca Chica, Texas site has passed its FAA environmental impact evaluation. The state of Texas has passed the needed changes to its beach closing laws and it's on its way to Gov. Perry for his signature.

Georgia has yet to even choose its environmental impact analysis team.

Florida's Space Florida agency and KSC are still having a turf war over the Shiloh site.

** it is now known that SpaceX will be building a new factory for rockets even larger than Falcon Heavy. In 2010 they presented an AIAA paper on propulsion systems that showed concepts named Falcon X and Falcon XX, both super-heavy class boosters lofting from 100 to 150+ metric tons. Some rumors put Falcon XX at >200 metric tons. Saturn V could loft ~112 metric tons.

Falcon X / Falcon XX would most likely be barged to KSC for launch using one of the Saturn V / Shuttle pads..

Since then they have confirmed rocket cores >7 meters in diameter (F9 = 3.66m), the Raptor staged combustion methane fueled engine with 650,000 lbf of thrust (Merlin 1D = 147,000 lbf), and the mysteriously named and still "black" MCT project.

The below composited image shows a 6' tall man compared to the original Falcon 1 testbed, Falcon 9 1.0 (first 5 flights), Falcon 9 v1.1 (maiden flight in July), Falcon Heavy, and the 2010 AIAA presentations images of Falcon X and Falcon XX.

falcons-1toxx.jpg

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http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/35341spacex-to-refly-columbia-plant-growth-experiment

SpaceX To Refly Columbia Plant Growth Experiment

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. ? A plant growth experiment lost in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident is being revamped for reflight to the international space station aboard the next Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon cargo ship.

The experiment, called BioTube, is intended to test if a strong magnetic field can replace gravity in influencing the direction plant roots grow in space.

?Right after the germination, the roots decide which way to grow. So the entire experiment is really interested in about the first 48 hours of how these roots grow when they are subjected to a magnetic field with no gravity,? said Don Platt, president of Melbourne, Fla.-based Micro Aerospace Solutions, which is developing the revamped BioTube.

The experiment is a follow-on to one that flew on STS-107, the last flight of Columbia, which was destroyed during re-entry following a 16-day research mission. All seven astronauts aboard were killed.

?The experiment worked quite well but obviously the payload was lost,? said Platt, who was previously employed by experiment developer Bionetics Corp. here.

Platt?s company is now preparing the backup unit, which did not fly on Columbia, to be launched on SpaceX?s third space station cargo run. NASA?s launch schedule shows the mission is slated for liftoff in November.

?They?ve changed the seeds because of genetic mapping and what they have maps of now, so we?ve redone the experiment totally to fly to the international space station,? Platt said.

BioTube, which is about the size of microwave oven, originally flew inside a Spacehab module in the shuttle?s cargo bay. It was part of an overall research initiative to understand how gravity-sensing systems in plants and small organisms operate.

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The Falcon 9 v1.1's 13.1 MT to low Earth orbit "limit" only applies to a launch with engine-out capability, which is what SpaceX lists on its website. NASA's spec for F9 v1.1 is different in that it does not specify engine-out, which yields a mass to LEO of 16 MT. It remains to be seen which the USAF will use. If the customer wants power over engine-out, they can get power.

Now consider this for cargo Trunk volume: so far we've only seen the short version of the Dragon's Trunk; a 2.3m internal length vs. 4.3m for the much larger Extended Trunk. Comparison from dimensions given in SpaceX's docs

640px-Dragon_spacecraft_press_and_unpress_sections.png

Here's a video of the Falcon 9 / Falcon Heavy 5.2m fairing test done at NASA Glenn's Plum Brook Station vacuum chamber -

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