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Posted

Thread 1: http://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1127508-spacex-grasshopper-reusable-launcher-testbed-tests/page__pid__595653390__st__15#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://spaceportamerica.com/press-release/spaceport-america-welcomes-spacex-for-reusable-rocket-testing-program/

[quote][b]FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Spaceport America Welcomes SpaceX for Reusable Rocket Testing Program[/b]

(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.

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Posted

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?

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Posted

[quote name='IsItPluggedIn' timestamp='1367964071' post='595677548']
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?[/quote]

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.

[Img]http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/f91.1/F9RlegsModemeagle.jpg[/img]

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Posted

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

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Posted

Info on the timing of GH launches from SpacePort America -

http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/35306spacex-leases-pad-in-new-mexico-for-next-grasshopper-tests

[Quote]WASHINGTON

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Posted

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.

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGimzB5QM1M&[/video]

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.

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Posted

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

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/221258/news/countdown-to.html

Countdown to launch

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M.

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Posted

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

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t15vP1PyoA
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Posted

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.

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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!

[video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXdjxPY2j_0[/video]
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Posted

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.

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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

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Posted

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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Posted

Another GH1 flight was photographed by a civilian. Triangulation from his location etc. puts the altitude at around 500 meters.

https://twitter.com/mkelly007/status/387319465827774464

We should see a new video soon.

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Posted

Sweet, wonder how long it will take them... there have been times that Elon tweeted about it within 1-2 days, but also times where they waited like 2-3 weeks to announce it :P

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Posted

A SpaceXer posted on Instagam saying Grasshopper achieved 2400' / 731m. No video yet, but could come any time.

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Posted

Well, the ceiling for their permit is at 3.500 meters I believe (at McGregor that is)... so they still have a bit to go :)

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Posted

744m hop, and the HexaCopter gets close!

A few more Grasshopper flights at McGregor before F9R-1 (Grasshopper 2) starts flying at SpacePort America - probably shortly after the first of the year.

[Video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZDkItO-0a4[/video]
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Posted

Man, so awesome! Especially how the Hexa is already way way above the ground and then the GH still speeds up past it :D The camera can't even handle the angle up and you see the Hexa's blades :p

 

w00t!

 

Edit: Is that F9 flight 8 or 9 on the test stand in the background btw?

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Posted

That's F9 #8, the Thaicom-6 first stage, getting ready for Dec. 12. Should have a test fire very soon. The F9 #7 SES-8 stages and fairing are already at KSC getting ready for Nov. 12.

After them is the Dragon CRS-3 mission to the International Space Station. It was delayed a few months because NASA wanted electrical and other upgrades for some experiments & other cargo added to the manifest. Many of these upgrades dovetail with Commercial Crew so it worked for both of them.

Their FAA Grasshopper permit is for 2,500ft, so this 2,440ft hop is close to the limit unless said permit has been changed. If not higher flights will have to be at SpacePort America using F9R-1. Their SpacePort America license is cleared for 300,000ft.

IMO this was to establish the ability to max out the altitude, and subsequent flights will demonstrate larger diverts and other maneuvers.

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MAJOR UPDATE:

SpaceX Facebook -

This was the last scheduled test for the Grasshopper rig; next up will be low altitude tests of the Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) development vehicle in Texas followed by high altitude testing in New Mexico.

SO, the next flight will be a 3-engine Falcon 9 v1.1 core with landing legs at McGregor for low altitudes and SpacePort America for higher altitudes. This will be an even larger and MUCH more powerful vehicle.

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Posted

Last looks, unless it ends up in a museum or in front of a SpaceX site -

ghroast.jpg

ghroast2.jpg

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Posted

In the production line photos in thread 4 you can see what I presume is the 3 engined Grasshopper under construction.

Do you know if the max-q abort tests will be flown on the Grasshopper or a full up booster?

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That 3-engine core in the main SpaceX thread is indeed F9R-1 (Grasshopper 2), and the Max-Q test will be flown on a 9-engine F9 v1.1 core.

We don't know if the upper stage will be real or a mass simulator, but I think the latter.

We also don't know if they'll use a legged F9R configuration and attempt a fly-back. Coin flip.

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