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SpaceX reusable launcher (Grasshopper) thread 2


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#1 DocM

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 21:05

Thread 1: http://www.neowin.ne...#entry595653390

New thread time due to a major change in SpaceX Grasshopper test operations, and it appears we are getting very close to Grasshopper 2.0 which will fly to altitudes of 300,000 feet by the time it's done.

This change from McGregor Texas to Spaceport Ameraca, a more open range away from populated areas, previously had been though to end up at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Perhaps SpaceX doesn't want to be limited by the DoD's test schedule. Spaceport America will also be the base of operations for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

Grasshopper 2.0 will he based on the new Falcon 9 v1.1 core, Merlin 1D engines and have 4 extendable landing legs.

Image of a landing leg at bottom. The legs A frames attach to the bottom of the Grasshopper 2 / F9R thrust structure (engine mount) and the telescoping upper arms attach to hard points around the fuel tank. Extension of the upper arm is accomplished using pressurized helium, which is already onboard to pressurize the fuel and liquid oxygen tanks. Leg span is over 60 feet.

The operational version of a reusable Falcon 9 v1.1 will be named F9R, pronounced "F-Niner."

http://spaceportamer...esting-program/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spaceport America Welcomes SpaceX for Reusable Rocket Testing Program


(Santa Fe, NM) -

Governor Susana Martinez today announced that Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, has signed a three-year agreement to lease land and facilities at Spaceport America to conduct the next phase of flight testing for its reusable rocket program. The company will be a new tenant at Spaceport America, the state-owned commercial launch site located in southern New Mexico.

“I am thrilled that SpaceX has chosen to make New Mexico its home, bringing their revolutionary “Grasshopper” rocket and new jobs with them,” Governor Martinez said today. “We’ve done a lot of work to level the playing field so we can compete in the space industry. This is just the first step in broadening the base out at the Spaceport and securing even more tenants. I’m proud to welcome SpaceX to New Mexico.”

SpaceX has completed its first series of successful, low-altitude tests of the “Grasshopper” vehicle in McGregor, Texas and is proceeding to the next phase of development that includes testing in New Mexico. With Grasshopper, SpaceX engineers are creating technology that will enable a rocket to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said, “Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing. We are pleased to expand our reusable rocket development infrastructure to New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has been readying the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport specifically for leading-edge programs like Grasshopper.

Christine Anderson, the NMSA Executive Director, said, “We are excited that SpaceX is coming to Spaceport America, where our first-class service will empower them to focus their full attention on their mission.”


Spaceport America hangar and runway
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GH2 / F9R landing leg
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#2 IsItPluggedIn

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 22:01

Hey Doc, Thanks for the info. Just a "few" questions

Is there any pics of the legs attached?

Are there any rocket stands at Spaceport America or will SpaceX need to build some?

I noticed there is no dates in the release, do you know when they wills tart testing in NM?

#3 OP DocM

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Posted 07 May 2013 - 23:26

Hey Doc, Thanks for the info. Just a "few" questions

Is there any pics of the legs attached?

Are there any rocket stands at Spaceport America or will SpaceX need to build some?

I noticed there is no dates in the release, do you know when they wills tart testing in NM?


Out of order -

No idea as to timing or as to if they'll start with Grasshopper 1 (current) then progress to Grasshopper 2, or go straight to Grasshopper 2. Soon as it leaks (or my emails get answered) it'll be here.

SpaceX doesn't use a conventional launch pad. They launch "Russian Style", which means the rocket is integrated on its side then overhead-craned onto a "transporter/erector" (T/E.) This vehicle can move it from hangar to pad, tilt it and its launch table (part of the T/E) uproght, then lean back for launch. It also has feeds for telemetry, fuel and liquid oxygen, and it can be gassed up from trucks. All the big items they'll really need are power, a temporary hangar & flame trench (hole in the ground leading to the side) and a water supply or tower.

No photos of Grasshopper 2 are available yet, but given the photo of the leg and what we know about Falcon 9 v1.1 it'll be at least 50% taller at ~160 feet, and will have a leg span of 60 feet. Diameter stays the same at 12 feet. It. It'll use the F9 v1.1 Octaweb thrust structure (8 in an octagon + 1 center engine engine mount) and have at least 3 Merlin 1D engines at first - probably graduating to a 9-pack later in testing.

A good prognosticator on an aerospace site created this drawing of how the legs should look folded (right) and deployed. Quite elegant.

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#4 IsItPluggedIn

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:03

Thanks Doc, that picture just broke my head as it was the complete opposite of how i had imagined the legs to fit onto the rocket.

Keep up the good work. :D

#5 OP DocM

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 11:39

Info on the timing of GH launches from SpacePort America -

http://www.spacenews...asshopper-tests

WASHINGTON — The next phase of Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s (SpaceX) experimental Grasshopper program, a key part of the Hawthorne, Calif., rocket maker’s attempt to build a reusable space booster, will be based at New Mexico’s Spaceport America under the terms of a three-year lease the spaceport announced May 7.

From Spaceport America, which is about 50 kilometers southeast of Truth or Consequences, N.M., and about 60 kilometers west of the restricted air space over the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range, Grasshopper could fly much higher than the 760-meter ceiling the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposed for launches from SpaceX’s rocket test site in McGregor, Texas.

“Spaceport America offers us the physical and regulatory landscape needed to complete the next phase of Grasshopper testing,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said in the Spaceport’s May 7 press release about the lease.

Essentially, that means SpaceX “can fly [Grasshopper] at higher altitudes and along different trajectories” than those allowed at McGregor, SpaceX spokeswoman Christina Ra said May 9.

Spaceport America, under a commercial spaceport license the FAA issued in 2008, is permitted to host suborbital launches that fly nearly 15 times higher than Grasshopper can fly from SpaceX’s McGregor test site.

“We’re good for about 350,000 feet,” or roughly 100 kilometers, Christine Anderson, executive director of Spaceport of America, said in a phone interview May 8. That altitude is the internationally recognized boundary of space.

Under the terms of the three-year deal, which was signed in late April, SpaceX will pay Spaceport America $6,600 a month to lease a launchpad and a small mission control facility, Ra said. Anderson said SpaceX also will pay a $25,000 fee for every Grasshopper flight from the commercial spaceport.

Ra said SpaceX’s lease will not be active until the company moves in at Spaceport America, and that the company will need a new experimental permit from the FAA to fly out of New Mexico. Anderson, citing conversations with the company, said Grasshopper activities would start sometime between October and February.

The launch pad Grasshopper will use at Spaceport America is still being built. Construction on the 30-meter-by-30-meter pad began in April and is slated to wrap up around July, Anderson said. The new pad, like Spaceport America’s existing vertical launch pads, will be located about 7 kilometers southwest of the spaceport’s main campus.

Spaceport America is best known as the home port of its anchor tenant, suborbital space tourism line Virgin Galactic. Virgin signed a 20-year, $50 million lease at Spaceport America in 2008 and made its first payment on that lease back in February, Anderson said. Virgin Galactic, jointly owned by founder Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign investment fund, Aabar Investments, flew the first powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane April 29 and is expected to begin commercial operations sometime in 2014.

Besides SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, UP Aerospace, Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas, also launch suborbital rockets at Spaceport America.

Meanwhile, despite the new deal with Spaceport America, Grasshopper testing will continue at SpaceX’s McGregor test site, Ra said May 9. SpaceX’s permit for Grasshopper launches from that facility, where the company also tests rocket engines for its Falcon family of rockets, allows for an unlimited number of launches through Oct. 16.

Powered by a single SpaceX Merlin 1-D kerosene-fueled engine, Grasshopper is a test bed for technologies needed to develop a recoverable, reusable version of the first stage of SpaceX’s expendable Falcon 9 rocket — the vehicle SpaceX is depending on, along with its Dragon space capsule, to fly 12 cargo delivery missions to the international space station under a $1.6 billion contract it got from NASA in 2008. SpaceX has flown two of the 12 delivery missions so far, the latest in March. Both missions met their main objectives despite the loss of one of Falcon 9’s nine engines on the first flight, and a Dragon malfunction on the second flight that temporarily knocked out the spacecraft’s maneuvering thrusters.

SpaceX has also booked a substantial backlog of commercial geostationary communications satellite launches aboard Falcon 9, the first of which will be satellite fleet operator SES of Luxembourg’s SES-8 spacecraft. That launch, SpaceX’s first to geostationary transfer orbit, is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July.
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#6 OP DocM

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:19

Grasshopper 1 flies to 325+ meters June 14, plus it has a new navigation sensor (radar) for precision landings. Video from the Hexacopter.

It's becoming obvious that these techs will be implemented in the Falcon 9 v1.1 for its maiden flight water landing attempt.



On June 14, SpaceX's Grasshopper flew 325 m (1066 feet)--higher than Manhattan's Chrysler Building--before smoothly landing back on the pad. For the first time in this test, Grasshopper made use of its full navigation sensor suite with the F9-R closed loop control flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing. Most rockets are equipped with sensors to determine position, but these sensors are generally not accurate enough to accomplish the type of precision landing necessary with Grasshopper.

Previous Grasshopper tests relied on the other rocket sensors but for this test, an additional, higher accuracy sensor was in the control loop. In other words, SpaceX was directly controlling the vehicle based on new sensor readings, adding a new level of accuracy in sensing the distance between Grasshopper and the ground, enabling a more precise landing.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure.



#7 OP DocM

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 00:48

Sounds like SpaceX and SpacePort America in New Mexico are rapidly ramping up to Grasshopper v2 flights -

http://www.abqjourna...untdown-to.html

Countdown to launch

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. – It’s a bit hazardous these days to traverse the seven miles of dirt and gravel roads that lead from Spaceport America’s main horizontal runway to the vertical launch pad area.

A steady flow of trucks kicks up clouds as they haul dirt and other materials to the site where the Spaceport Authority is building a large launch pad for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, to conduct test flights on a new, reusable rocket it is developing.

“We’re expanding the vertical launch pad area and adding capabilities,” said Spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson. “We’ve set up some new trailers with amenities like air conditioning and WiFi that can be leased by customers, and we just put in mobile communications capability at the site.”

The vertical launch area, where UP Aerospace shot its latest rocket into space last month, is bustling with activity as SpaceX prepares to move in and as UP plans for its next suborbital flight, scheduled for October.
>
> (the rest goes into Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo preparations)



#8 OP DocM

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 08:27

We now have a handle on future Grasshopper and Grasshopper 2 tests. From the SpaceX site we have this about the tests at McGregor, which indicates a max of 3x the altitude achieved so far

Conducted at SpaceX’s Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, Grasshopper will undergo a series of test flights at progressively higher altitudes, topping out with a hover at 1,000 meters with engine shutdown and restart.

That engine shutdown & restart should be exciting. And FlightGlobal has published this -

SpaceX has confirmed it will bring a nine-engine vehicle to Spaceport America in New Mexico to test reusable technology, rather than the Grasshopper reusability test bed currently flying in Texas.

In contrast to Grasshopper, which flies with one Merlin 1D engine and associated tankage, the new vehicle will closely resemble the Falcon 9-R core stage that had its first firing at SpaceX's test stand in McGregor, Texas, with nine engines and eventually a potential second stage.
>
The Falcon 9-R is essentially a rebranding of the existing Falcon 9 v1.1, with a focus on its reusable technologies.

"This new generation is what will eventually return to Earth," SpaceX says.

Renderings of Falcon 9 recently released include retractable legs. The legs are included on Falcon 9 Heavy, essentially three cores bolted together, the first launch of which is expected in 2014.
>



#9 OP DocM

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 12:33

Diversion maneuver was a success!! I'm beginning to wonder what they could do to crater this bird?



#10 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 12:39

Wow.. That's a pretty smooth landing!

 

But if they -really- want to crash it... They could always get some Russian maintenance guys in... :rofl:



#11 OP DocM

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 13:22

Specofics-

On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle's ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.

Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.



#12 OP DocM

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 22:23

One has to wonder if this is the last GH1 flight at McGregor. Any diverts larger than this could put a potential crater on public roads or other properties.

If it's the last one at McGregor the upcoming flights will happen at New Mexico's SpacePort America (aka: SSA), most likely with Grasshopper 2 which is based on the new and much larger Falcon 9 v1.1 core.

Anyhow....this is a much better angle on the recent divert flight.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 10m

Same rocket flight, but this time with cows!



#13 OP DocM

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 17:19

The Falcon 9 v1.1 core for Grasshopper 2 has been reported as off the structural qualification stand at McGregor. The consensus seems to be that Grasshopper 1 is now retired. Let's hope they give the old girl a respectful place to be displayed.

#14 Beittil

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 18:56

Yet even today SpaceX posted a picture on their Twitter/Facebook accounts of GH1.0 and its passenger waiting for the next ride!

 

 

 

Meanwhile in TX, Cowboy Johnny patiently awaits his next ride. Looks can be deceiving – Johnny is 6 ft tall!

 

BSsOZtoCQAAtb72.png:large



#15 OP DocM

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 19:47

Well, makes one wonder doesn't it?

The problem is that flights ghag divert much more, or that divert from much higher altitudes, could leave the FAA approved zone.

We'll see



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