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DocM

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

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That's just... wrong. :(

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Yup. Nearly criminal IMHO.

Following Challenger a new program was started to develop Shuttle replacements for use as ISS crew and cargo taxi's - the HL-20 and its upscaled big brother the HL-42. Both were canceled during the Clinton years, supposedly for budget reasons but in reality because the major Shuttle contractors had them killed. They were so inexpensive to build & operate it would have reduced their profits.

The design for HL-20 was licensed from NASA in the mid-1990's by Jim Benson, President & CEO of SpaceDev, and developed for several years until his death. SpaceDev was acquired by Sierra Nevada Corp., and today HL-20 lives on as the Dream Chaser.

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Facilities update;

SpaceX is completing the design of a 250 foot MST (mobile servicing tower) for their Vandenberg SLC-4E pad. This will be used for US Dept. of Defense spacecraft, which require vertical integration. The first few DoD launches will use mobile cranes, but the MST will have a built-in crane.

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I've got a request DocM.  Whenever you start a new thread on subject, would you be able to put a quick post in the previous thread that you started a new one?  I try to follow all of the SpaceX threads but didn't see you started this one until now. 

 

It's totally up to you, I appreciate the work you put in keeping us all up to date.  Usually looks like I'm the only one that follows them (by clicking the button on the top right of the forum), everybody else gets on enough and probably just checks themselves.  Not a huge deal, would just be a bonus and make it easier to see when somebody updated the thread.

 

Thanks!

 

 

Actually scratch that... I'm not sure what happened.  Just seen this thread has been open since the end of July, and I'm pretty sure I've told it to follow it since then.

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DocM, on 10 Sept 2013 - 23:49, said:

For the record - I included links to all previous SpaceX general update threads in the first post of this one.

 

I seen that, but It doesn't help when I'm subscribed to an old thread and a new one gets started.  But like I said, it's not a big deal.  Somehow I wasn't getting notified of new posts in threads I've been subscribed to so I'll just make sure I check to forum more often.

 

Sorry for getting off topic!

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Another step towards getting SpaceX set up for choosing the Brownsville site for launches, the rules concerning closing of the beaches around the proposed launch site have been made up!

 

 

Cameron County and the Texas General Land Office have signed a memorandum of agreement outlining how the county will handle the temporary closure of Boca Chica Beach for possible rocket launches.

 

Under the agreement, the GLO will make the final decision about whether to approve beach closures for rocket launches.

 

http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/local/article_dab09ac8-20d4-11e3-975b-0019bb30f31a.html

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With the governor, legislature & locals on board GLO shouldn't be too big a problem.

They're also closing in on getting pad 39A (shuttle, Saturn V) for Falcon Heavy and possibly the super heavy launcher. NASA wants to close the deal before the end of the fiscal year.

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Well, NASA had hoped to hand it over in just under two weeks of course (Pad 39A) that is... but I guess BO's complaint with the GAO is gonna delay that untill the end of the year or so now!

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We'll see. Both of Florida's senators, Nelson and Rubio, came down in favor of leasing it ASAP. BO's plan is also not strong on specifics and would probably take longer to roll out because of the multiple supposed parties.

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As the only operational vehicle capable of taking significant amounts of cargo both to and from the International Space Station, SpaceX?s Dragon spacecraft is already a critical piece of the American space program. With at least 10 more station resupply missions over the next couple years, and with development of a human-rated Dragon and DragonLab underway, production of the Dragon spacecraft has increased significantly.

No other American company is mass producing spacecraft at the same rate. Pictured below are no less than six Dragons in production, as SpaceX ramps up to keep pace with its plans and a very full manifest:

Top row (left to right): Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 6 Dragon, pad abort Dragon weldment for commercial crew, CRS-5 Dragon. Bottom row (left to right) CRS-4 Dragon, drop test Dragon for commercial crew, CRS-3 Dragon (inside our clean room).

dragons2013_spacex_stack.jpg

Falcon 9 v1.1 production

f9productionfloor1.jpg

f9productionfloor2.jpg

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Just thought I would put this here as I didnt know this.

 

When used for non-NASA, non-ISS commercial flights, the uncrewed version of the Dragon spacecraft is called DragonLab.

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There's three - Dragon (cargo), DragonRider (crew - working name, abort & flight tests start around Dec. to Jan.), and DragonLab which is a microgravity experimental platform with an orbital life of 2 years. DragonLab has also been rumored to eventually get a mini robotic arm. There are also 2 trunk sizes - the one we've seen and one with about 2x the payload volume.

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I saw the page at SpaceX's website, nice pictures and of course a piece of 'Look at how cool we are...' writing :P

 

But, meanwhile F9 1.1 still hasn't flown :(

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Sunday Grasshopper. Weather and the Launch Gods permitting.

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More from Texas where the State, universities and the city of Brownsville want SpaceX to build their new.commercial spaceport there. This would eventually include a new factory for a big new super heavy rocket.

SpaceX is of course playing it coy, but they've been buying up properties left and right using a front outfit called Dogleg Park (a dogleg is a turn rockets make to change orbital inclination.)

Why Brownsville? A near perfect US territory location for geosynchronous satellite launches, and for missions to Mars.

http://themonitor.com/news/local/article_c3fd447a-24ad-11e3-8c0e-0019bb30f31a.html

UT System proposes research partnership with SpaceX in Brownsville

McALLEN ? The University of Texas System proposed Brownsville as the site of the ?first designated research unit? for the Valley?s new university in partnership with SpaceX, according to a recently release August letter.

It remains to be seen if the private space transport company will settle its launch pad at a site outside of Brownsville, but UT System has already offered a suggestion. The proposed program called Stargate would partner SpaceX with the University of Texas at Brownsville?s Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy, UT System Chancellor Francisco wrote in the letter dated Aug. 19. It is addressed to SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk.

Citing the Valley?s new developing university, the letter suggests an in-person meeting to discuss Stargate. A meeting between Musk and Cigarroa has not yet been scheduled, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said in an email Monday. SpaceX said it could not respond to a request for comment for this article by press time Monday.

?The transformative vision for the new university in many ways parallels that of SpaceX,? Cigarroa?s letter reads. ?While SpaceX is interested in advancing the state of rocket technology and blazing a new path for space exploration, the new university in South Texas is interested in advancing the use of next-generation technology to promote student learning and exploring ways to leverage university assets (e.g., the Texas Advanced Computing Center located at U. T. Austin), faculty expertise, and innovation to solve regional and global problems.?

9/25/13 UPDATE

SpaceX sent the following statement Tuesday in response to questions about the status of negotiations and whether the company partners with education institutions near its existing facilities.

"Brownsville, Texas is the frontrunner in SpaceX?s search for a new commercial launch site, but we continue to work with Florida, Georgia and Puerto Rico as possibilities. SpaceX hopes to make a decision by the end of this year. We appreciate the local and statewide community?s support of SpaceX?s efforts toward this possible commercial orbital launch complex, including the efforts of the Texas Legislature, Governor Perry?s office, the General Land Office, the University of Texas system, and local elected officials. Specific negotiations are considered confidential."

The location outside of Brownsville is about 5 miles south of Port Isbael and South Pardre Island, according to The Brownsville Herald.

The company, which began to buy the Cameron County land in June 2012, now owns 12 lots, The Herald reported in August. The site is off State Highway 4, about a quarter-mile from Boca Chica Beach.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered an environmental impact study. Texas officials continue to work on a final incentive package to sweeten the potential SpaceX deal, according to a Houston Chronicle report from earlier this month. However, Musk?s other venture ? electric car company Tesla ? has been less successful in convincing lawmakers for a break into the Texas market, the report said.

UT System named other Stargate partners it plans to loop in for research to spread any financial burden or in administrative speak, allow for the ?collaboration and leveraging of resources,? according to the letter.

These partners include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration?s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Cornell University?s Department of Space Science.

The correspondence invites Musk for a meeting ?to discuss the unique skills, abilities, research, and creative environment needed to support the successful launch of SpaceX in South Texas.?

The chancellor wrote that because the university is under development, there is the opportunity to integrate needs of companies like SpaceX and others into the design of curriculum and research as the businesses work closely with faculty and academic leadership.

?The U. T. System employs world-class faculty members conducting innovative research in science, math, engineering, technology, and health, who are ready and able to collaborate and provide research and expertise as needed to this new endeavor,? the letter said of SpaceX.

The chancellor will host several meetings in Harlingen and Brownsville Tuesday with students, faculty and staff. He is set to discuss the creation of the new university with an integrated medical school under what is being called, for now, Project South Texas.

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Regarding the F9's redundant avionics computers, Musk told SpaceFlightNow

"You could put a bullet hole in any one of the avionics boxes and it would just keep flying"

Yikes

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Musk: hoping to do a test firing of Falcon Heavy at Texas test site by 2nd quarter of 2014.

Musk: Also pursuing LC-39A at KSC for NASA (cargo and crew). Current Cape launch site would be used for other customers.

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Douglas Messier @spacecom

Musk: finishing up test stand for Falcon Heavy in McGregor, TX. Should be a bit quieter due to config of test stand.

James Dean @flatoday_jdean

SpaceX now targeting Q2 '14 for Dragon pad abort test from Cape. "It's going to go like a bullet."

James Dean @flatoday_jdean 1h

Musk: upgraded Dragon flying next NASA mission "looks pretty cool."

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Musk: hoping to do a test firing of Falcon Heavy at Texas test site by 2nd quarter of 2014.

Musk: goal is to attempt 1st stage recovery on all future CRS launches and many others; next two (w/out recovery) more of an anomaly.

Musk: working with Air Force and FAA on identifying landing sites for F9 1st stage, looking at eastern tip of Cape Canaveral.

Musk: if things go "super well", could refly a Falcon 9 1st stage by the end of next year.

Musk: Also pursuing LC-39A at KSC for NASA (cargo and crew). Current Cape launch site would be used for other customers.

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With the successful F9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE flight, even the landing techs working better than expected first time out, expect the pedal to hit the metal in the SpaceX test programs.

We have another test vehicle on the horizon, which some insiders are calling the DragonFly.

DragonFly will test Dragon LAS (abort) and propulsive landing technologies, including hover much like Grasshopper 1.

Also - speculation as to why roll control of the landing first stage was lost is centering around a combo of aerodynamic forces and it running out of gas for its cold gas thrusters.

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Really decent private video of the CASSIOPE launch. Looks like some RCS pulses are visible.

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That is indeed a very neat video, wonder what sort of telescope they had to use for that :D

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Not sure if this has been posted elsewhere but there is this. http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/nature/post/ufo-mystery-tied-to-launch-of-trail-blazing-rocket/

 

 

 

UFO mystery tied to launch of ?trail-blazing? rocket Strange, glowing orb is seen hovering over a vast stretch of Indian Ocean; it turns out to be fuel released by next-generation rocket launched by SpaceX

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Yup. Once finished with an upper stage the consumables are vented so the stage is empty on reentry..This facilitates it completely breaking up.

Sometimes this venting knocks loose bits of insulation from the top of the stage (upper dome of the liquid oxygen tank), which can show up as multiple radar traces.

Some websites (and maybe with encouragement from some anti-newspace folks) speculated this and the venting meant the F9 upper stage had exploded. Uh-no. Just spreading FUD.

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