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SpaceX Updates (Thread 4): F9, FH & Dragon

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http://spacefellowship.com/news/art41630/spacex-completes-100th-merlin-1d-engine.html

SpaceX Completes 100th Merlin 1D Engine

Less than two years after SpaceX began producing the Merlin 1D engines that power the Falcon 9 rocket, the 100th Merlin 1D engine is complete. SpaceX is currently the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world.

The Merlin 1D is an all-American engine designed and built in-house at SpaceX?s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Engines are currently manufactured at a rate of four per week, projected to rise to five per week by the end of 2014.

The production process begins with major engine components ? injector, turbopump, gas generator, thrust chamber, valves and actuators ? integrated with tubing, sensors, and other small components to form the major sub-assemblies of the engine. These sub-assemblies are put together to become the engine?s lower and upper assembly.

Once the lower and upper assemblies are stacked and mated, the engine undergoes a series of quality checks prior to testing. Engines are tested at SpaceX?s state-of-the-art Rocket Development Facility spanning more than 4,000 acres in McGregor, TX. Once the engine is verified to meet design requirements and perform reliably under flight conditions, it is shipped back to California, where it is flight configured and integrated into the Falcon 9 first stage?s octaweb engine structure.

The completed stage is then shipped back to Texas for a test firing of all nine engines at once, and then to the appropriate launch site for a final test as part of a full system prior to launch.With the highest thrust-to-weight ratio of any booster engine ? 155:1 ? each Merlin 1D engine can lift a weight equivalent to about 40 average cars.

Together, the first stage?s nine engines put out 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level, rising to 1.5 million as the first stage climbs out of Earth?s atmosphere. The nine engines burn about 540 gallons of propellant per second ? enough to drain a typical home swimming pool in less than a minute.

To date, eighty Merlin 1Ds have launched, exceeding the propulsion heritage of the RS-68/68A engine (41 flown) on the Delta and the RD-180 engine (55 flown) on Atlas variants.

The 100th Merlin 1D is slated to fly on a Falcon 9 in early 2015.

#100

100th_m1d_4_engine28.jpg

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Floridatoday is reporting that SpaceX is building a 300 x 170 ft barge in a Lousiana shipyard for their upcoming landing attempts. Untethered but maintains station with GPS / prop -thrusters. Looking good for December attempt. CRS-5 I think.

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There was more from an MIT event

( ) = mine

They're building a custom booster landing barge in Louisiana; 300x175 ft (91.44x53.34 m). F9's leg span is 60 ft (18.29 m.) The platform will have thrusters, GPS etc. for station keeping.

(For comparison, NASA's Pegasus barge is being refitted for hauling SLS components and is 260x50 feet (79.25x15.24 m))

They will attempt to land the CRS-5 booster on the barge in December. Odds: 50% or less on the first try.

12 launches in the next 12 months. 80-90% odds one of those will land and be re-flown.

F9 is aiming for full reusability, but its kerosene second stage and launching to GTO makes it difficult (easier with Falcon Heavy.)

The next-generation vehicles (BFR) will burn liquid methane & liquid oxygen. They could do full reusability for Mars and back. 5-6 years to (BFR) test flights (2019-2020).

Next-generation propellants (methane/LOX) will be sub-cooled, close to freezing (to increase density.) Fully reusable rockets in 5-6 years.

A propellent depot is part of the Mars strategy. Earth Orbit refueling. MCT fleet (flying) between Earth & Mars every 26 months.

Mass efficiency is important, and need better heat shields. Radiation risk is overblown. Mitigate (radiation) en route to Mars, such as the water in the direction of the Sun. Need a propellant depot on Mars.

We'll see more robots on Mars. Need to make sure the prop depot works. Power generation has to be figured out. Mars has a CO2 atmosphere, and there's a lot of water (to make methane & oxygen.)

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Helodriver at NSF talked to a birdy who says the landing barge is being outfitted at Conrad Shipyards, Morgan City Louisiana. Same yard that's doing NASA's Pegasus barge for SLS.

(And Google Earth goes into overload, but they do their work in a huge building)

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Falcon Heavy gets ViaSat-2, a 6,700kg beast delivering enterprise and mobIle broadband, based on the Boeing 702HP bus. Previously they've launched on Proton.

http://www.boeing.com/boeing/defense-space/space/bss/factsheets/702/viasat/viasat-2.page?

@pbdes

ViaSat-2 Ka-band brdbnd satellite to launch on SpaceX Falcon Heavy mid-2016; launch part of $525M Ex-Im loan deal w/ Boeing sat build.

ViaSat-1-Satellite-Image-ET-Size-348x196

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Two GEO commsats at once going up on Falcon 9 in early 2015, one sat for an Asian customer and the other Mexico.

Usually this class of commsat masses around 4,500 kg each, much of it chemical propellants. Each has to be launched into an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit (sometimes with an apogee of 80,000-90,000 km) by a fairly large launcher, then they use their chemical propulsion to move into a geostationary orbit.

These new Boeing 702SP solar-electric (ion drive) , miniaturized commsats only mass ~1,800kg each, about 4,000 lbs, so ~3,600kg for the pair plus their dispenser. They're capable of being launched 2 at a time into a low Earth orbit, then they use their ion thrusters to move themselves directly into a geostationary orbit.

A paradigm shift, it is, and one that strongly favors Falcon 9 and other medium-heavy launchers over Delta IV, Atlas V, Proton and Ariane. They can launch them too of course, but not at the competitive prices.

http://boeing.mediaroom.com/2014-11-12-Boeing-Stacks-Two-Satellites-to-Launch-as-a-Pair

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Nov. 12, 2014 ? Boeing has successfully mated two 702SP (small platform) satellites in a stacked configuration in preparation for the first-ever conjoined satellite launch. The milestone is a significant step towards the early 2015 launch of the satellites ABS-3A and Eutelsat 115 West B, the first-ever all-electric propulsion satellites scheduled to enter service.

The 702SP, designed by Boeing Network & Space Systems satellite businesses and Phantom Works, features an all-electric propulsion system and a joint configuration for a dual-manifest launch. By eliminating chemical propulsion and using only electric propulsion, the 702SP platform offers a significant mass advantage that translates to increased revenue-generating payload performance and launch vehicle savings to customers.

4b53415519507a0b2a1e2a76b9c878cc.jpg

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SpaceX Rocket Tank Production Timelapse:

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Mind has been blown, keep up the good work doc

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The absolute latest from Chris at NASASpaceFlight.com is that multiple sources are reporting SpaceX will get both Cygnus launches while Orbital Sciences figures out what to do with Antares.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/11/crs-5-dragon-mission-iss-evaluating-december-target/

>

Industry sources claim SpaceXs Falcon 9 v1.1 is the favorite to win the right to launch one or two Cygnus missions during this interim period.

>

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So, the AJ-26 is toast I take it? I mean that thing is older than I am.

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Peter B. de Selding @pbdes (Space News)

SpaceX Q1 2015 Falcon 9 manifest has 2 commrcial-Geo missions: ABS/Eutelsat Americas (2 Boeing sats) and Turkmenistan (Thales Alenia Space).

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@elonmusk

Autonomous spaceport drone ship. Thrusters repurposed from deep sea oil rigs hold position within 3m even in a storm. http://t.co/wJFOnGdt9w

Base is 300 ft by 100 ft, with wings that extend width to 170 ft. Will allow refuel & rocket flyback in future.

a0195481b8243bf9bf410099435c88ae.jpg

Testing operation of hypersonic grid fins (x-wing config) going on next flight http://t.co/O1tMSIXxsT

Grid fins are stowed on ascent and then deploy on reentry for "x-wing" style control. Each fin moves independently for pitch/yaw/roll.

2e059960582d0d7ba25b9cb8eaecd7d0.jpg

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The floating spaceport can refuel and relaunch it back to the landing pads after low propellant margin launches.

?@elonmusk

Base is 300 ft by 100 ft, with wings that extend width to 170 ft. Will allow refuel & rocket flyback in future.

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That is some extremely cool sh*t! Damn

1 person likes this

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There will also be a slight redesign of the landing legs to improve their performance as air brakes, possibly showing up on flight 21. COTS-5 in December is flight 14. Their goal is to halve the stage's terminal velocity.

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Would the redesign also include a way to retract the legs for the flight back to land?

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Presumably.

More on the Thrustmaster station keeping system. They repeatedly talk of the autonomous spaceport in the plural, so it sounds like more are coming.

http://www.thrustmaster.net/spacex-announces-spaceport-barge-positioned-thrustmasters-thrusters/

SpaceX Announces Spaceport Barge Positioned by Thrustmasters Thrusters

In a Tweet heard around the world Elon Musk of SpaceX announced plans to land a reusable rocket on a barge utilizing Thrustmasters thrusters for station keeping.

The barge base is 300 ft by 100 ft, with wings that extend width to 170 ft. and Musk says it will allow refuel & rocket flyback in future.Utilizing four (4) Thrustmaster mini-skid hydraulic propulsion outdrive units with individual diesel-hydraulic power units the barge is able to preserve functional deck space. No vessel conversion is needed to create new engine rooms for generator sets and thruster rooms for thu-hull thrusters with the deck mounted thrusters and power units.

Thrustmasters patented Portable Dynamic Positioning System is a unique modular system of azimuth thrusters, power modules and controls allowing quick dockside conversion of any work barge or ship to a dynamically positioned vessel from DPS-1 to DPS-3. Typically ideal for upgrading derrick barges, pipelay vessels, cable lay barges, accommodation vessels, FPSOs, heavy lift vessels, and more. Typical power ratings range from 300hp (225kW) to 3000hp (2250kW) and can be mounted directly onto the deck or onto platforms attached to the side of the vessel. Conversion to DP service can be accomplished in a very short amount of time after receiving the thrusters and HPUs and DP system.

The SpaceX reusable rocket program has been progressing at lightspeed as an earlier test flight from this summer involving an ocean splashdown was a precursor to future uses with the space, proving that the Space X Falcon 9 booster could re-enter earths atmosphere, restart its engines, deploy its landing legs and make a touch down at near zero velocity.

These new modifications to the rocket should make atmospheric navigation easier, with each fin operating independently to help control the crafts angle, speed and vector. They also fold up and stow during takeoff, so they dont add any additional drag. The autonomous spaceports are essentially seafaring landing pads, which can help make sure that re-entering craft are far from any populated areas in the event of any incident, while still providing a stable target for landing and launching spaceships.

Thrustmaster's Portable Dynamic Positioning System

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So couple questions here.

 

In larger seas, will the f9 not fall over after landing?

 

Also do they expect to have people on this barge? It seems a bit dangerous.

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90%+ of the weight in F9's first stage is the engines and the thrust structure they're mounted too, which puts the center of gravity VERY low and between the legs. The rest is large, but mostly made of lithium-aluminum alloy which is VERY light.

For it to fall over the barge would have to list about 30?, or it would have to be exposed to near hurricane winds. F9R Dev-1 sat out in the open in central Texas (part of Tornado Alley) for over a year, so normal winds it can handle.

No one will be on the Spaceport Drone during landings and relaunches, though there will be a tender ship miles off that could come aboard and secure things and tow it long distances

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It seems SpaceX creating the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) eliminates the need for a down range island at Vandenberg for Falcon Heavy center core landings. ASDS's downrange location could be tuned to the specific mission requirements rather than fixed.

If this works we're likely to see several of these things.

NASASpaceFlight.com story....

Z2AB1-350x139.jpg

2014-11-24-22_45_36-SpaceXs-Autonomous-S

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NASASpaceFlight.com has released an L2 generated concept render of pad 39A showing Falcon Heavy, and the NASA Space Launch System on pad 39B. It shows the Shuttle Rotating Service Structure (far left) still in place, but eventually that'll be removed.

Check out the scale of Falcon Heavy compared to the trucks & SUV's parked near the pad (lower left.)

Big image, so just a link....

Pic link....

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Nice. Now one of those costs ~$1B, has no point and no future. Go on guess which.

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SLS will cost $3-5 billion per launch. Falcon Heavy will run about $85-125 million, depending on configuration.

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$3 -5B? Well I'm only off $2 -4B. So potentially nearly a third of NASAs budget on a single launch. For the costs of 4 or 5 of these you might actually achieve something -subsurface Europa astrobiology mission anyone?

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