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

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... That's a big flippin' rocket!

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Given a lowball total sea level thrust, and the higher efficiency (Isp) of methane in a FFSC engine, on the single core we're talking a much higher mass to orbit than Saturn V - which used RP-1 as fuel (rocket grade kerosene, lower Isp).

The tri-core would have a total thrust 3x that, a minimum of ~23 million lbf, plus a beast of a Raptor 2nd stage (can't say how beast-y yet), and a Raptor powered spacecraft.

That all adds up to an absolute monster of a rocket, one that'll need an advanced enough pad not to crush it on liftoff.

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The US Air Force is paying SpaceX $4,252,654 to study integrating military payloads into Falcon 9 v1.1.

https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=c96ab2b2207c202c03bcf92a6226fdbb&tab=core&_cview=1

Contract Award Date:

March 10, 2014

Contract Award Number:

FA8811-14-C-0003

Contract Award Dollar Amount:

$4,252,654 (includes 1 option)

Contractor Awarded Name:

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation

Contractor Awarded DUNS:

120406462

Contractor Awarded Address:

1 Rocket Road Hawthorne, California 90250 United States

Synopsis:

Added: Jul 03, 2013 5:44 pm

THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION. THIS NOTICE IS FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY.

The United States Air Force (USAF), Launch Systems Directorate (LR) at the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) located in El Segundo, CA intends to issue a sole source contract award to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX); Cage Code: 3BVL8 located in Hawthorne, CA for early integration studies of SpaceX's launch vehicle Falcon 9 v1.1 and USAF space vehicles projected to launch in 2015. The statutory authority of this action is contracting by Other than Full and Open Competition, 10 USC ? 2304©(1), as implemented by FAR 6.302-1(a)(2). The early integration studies are unique to each potential launch service provider and its own launch vehicle configuration. SpaceX, as the sole owner and manufacturer of the Falcon 9 v1.1, possesses "unique capabilities" for this requirement (studies) because the study is on SpaceX's own unique launch vehicle. SpaceX possesses its own specific knowledge and resources of the launch vehicle it manufactures. With the unique capabilities, the study of the Falcon 9 v1.1 can only be satisfied by SpaceX.

>

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The launch abort system tests will take place on different coasts,

Jeff Foust ?@jeff_foust

Reisman: pad abort test will be at the Cape, but the in-flight abort test will launch from Vandenberg. #spacetechexpo

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Maybe SpaceX could combine in-flight abort test launch from Vandenberg with F9R landing test in New Mexico. This way company could save money.

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The F9R Dev-1 in NM has no upper stage and only 3 instead of 9 engines. Flight abort will need all of those and the trunk to be a valid test of a real launch configuration.

Vandenberg is also is close to LA and the shipping company used for Dragon recoveries at sea.

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I do not know if they could fly back to landing area in New Mexico when launched from Vandenberg, but they planned F9R high altitude test and for that maybe need all 9 engines.

Also I think for in-flight abort test SpaceX will use dummy second stage, like Ares I-X second stage :-)

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Only 3 engines with the F9R Dev-1. 9 engnes with no upper stage or payload would result in excessive acceleration loads.

More likely the flight abort test will use a full upper stage and propellant load to exactly match real launch conditions.

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Financially for SpaceX is better to complete F9R landing testing ASAP, to start reusability of first stage. Current delays with Falcon 9 v1.1 launches probably good for company.

 

The question is how soon after successful F9R Dev-1 landing they could get permission to land near KSC and/or Vandenberg (this is why I mention possibility to land in New Mexico).

 

It would be pity to discard first stage (and maybe second stage) just for in-flight abort test of Dragon.

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I do not remember any history of in-flight abort test for any spacecraft with real full size rockets... From the ground - yes. But in-flight (?)...

Did anyone spent real rocket(s) for any spacecraft in-flight abort test ?  Except "Little Joe" solid-fueled boosters testing, but those were not full size real flight rockets...

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IIRC the first attempted full scale launch abort system test was Mercury Redstone 1, and it was the most screwed up. The "4 Inch Flight" looked like a comedy routine.

The rocket lifted off, rose 4 inches (10 cm), the engine shut down, then the Redstone rocket settled back on to the pad intact. Somehow.

Then the launch abort system tower separated from the Mercury capsule, fired and flew off by itself.

Then the drogue parachute deployed. Next the main parachute deployed. Both while still on the ground.

The mission control staff went nuts trying to figure out what to do. They decided on nothing because no one had a clue what else the silly thing had up its sleeve.

They left it on the pad until the next day to let the batteries die and the liquid oxygen evaporate. Then they safed it.

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I remember seeing that in the movie The Right Stuff.

I'm pretty sure the abort tests are funded by NASA and the CCICAP.

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Yes, partly, and the funds are only payed out after set milestones are met. Most of the costs are born by the competitors.

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A manned DragonRider flight on Falcon Heavy is unconfirmed from the SpaceX end and may not be until the Falcon Heavy maiden flight (later in 2014 or early 2015.)

This could also be a simple error, being a reference to when NASA-crewed DragonRider flights commence on Falcon 9 (SpaceX crews will fly sooner.)

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Not confirmed by SpaceX but they do not deny it....

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The proposed Brownsvill, Texas spaceport's Fish & Wildlife Biological and Conference Opinion is in. Looking good for the pending Environmental Impact Statement.

http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_43691bf6-c127-11e3-a22e-001a4bcf6878.html

SpaceX clears hurdle

Feds say project ?not likely to jeopardize? wildlife

SpaceX has taken a major step forward in its proposal to develop the world?s first private and commercial vertical launch site and control center in Cameron County, the Valley Morning Star has found.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued its final Biological and Conference Opinion on the proposal, finding that the project at Boca Chica ?is not likely to jeopardize? the continued existence of the ocelot, sea turtles, jaguarundi and aplomado falcon, nor ?adversely modify? critical habitat for the piping plover, a bird that migrates to the Boca Chica beach area in winter.

The federal opinion also contains specific recommendations and conditions to avoid and minimize impact to species in the area.

Furthermore, the federal agency says in the opinion that the Federal Aviation Administration determined the proposed project ?may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect,? the West Indian manatee, an aquatic mammal protected by federal law.

?We concur and understand that in order to protect these species, FAA will ensure precautions and education outreach efforts will be enforced,? the opinion states.

Elon Musk?s Space Exploration Technologies did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday afternoon.

The pivotal development comes in advance of FAA?s issuance of the final environmental impact statement on the SpaceX proposal and its ultimate decision, called a ?Record of Decision.?

?This is a critical step,? Cameron County Administrator Pete Sepulveda Jr. said of the developments. ?This is great news. It is a critical part of the project. It will ensure that the project gets final clearance from the FAA.?

Nick Serafy, chairman of the Cameron County Space Port Development Corp., established to facilitate the development of the aerospace industry in Cameron County starting with SpaceX?s project, said this bodes well for the project.

?I am delighted that we are moving in a positive direction and getting closer to a final report from the Federal Aviation Administration,? he said.

FAA spokesman Hank Price on Thursday told the Valley Morning Star that the FAA hopes to issue the final environmental impact study on SpaceX?s proposal in May.

?Following issuance of the final EIS, the FAA will have 30 days to work with the consulting agencies to discuss any potential mitigation issues, alternatives, other issues contained in the final EIS, and issue a Record of Decision,? Price said.

The project site is off State Highway 4, about a quarter-mile from Boca Chica Beach and about three miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is located about 6.5 miles south of Port Isabel and 18 miles east of Brownsville along the Gulf of Mexico coastline.

With nearly 50 launches on its manifest representing about $5 billion in contracts, the California-based SpaceX plans to invest $73,650,000 in the Boca Chica project, public records show.

The proposal calls for a commercial orbital complex at the Boca Chica site for the launch of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy orbital rockets and other smaller reusable suborbital vehicles. All Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches would carry commercial payloads, including satellites or experimental payloads, for delivery to the International Space Station. Besides standard payloads, the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy also could carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

SpaceX?s investments in Cameron County, which started in 2012, continued into 2014 with the purchase of more tracts of land, bringing the total number of lots it now owns to 90, the Star found.

The total land area that SpaceX now owns through Dogleg Park LLC is roughly 37 acres, public records show. This is in addition to 56.5 acres that SpaceX has under lease. The California-based firm also has developed a subdivision called ?Mars Crossing.?

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Is the DOD going to require SpaceX to go to a vertical integration in order launch their satellites?

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see the Pad 39A thread.

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Hmmmm.....planning an Angara "upgrade"?

http://theaviationist.com/2014/04/17/russian-tug-off-us

RUSSIAN TUG OFF FLORIDA: SUPPORTING NUCLEAR ATTACK SUBS OR OBSERVING SPACEX LAUNCH?

The Russian tug ?Nikolay Chiker? is an ocean tag that has often deployed alongside Russian Navy?s high value assets. According to Information Dissemination, the ship accompanied Russia?s spy ship Viktor Leonovto Cuba last month, before moving off Florida, where it was parked on Mar. 15, ahead of the launch of Dragon spacecraft (Space Shuttle Orbiter replacement) on SpaceX?s Falcon 9 rocket scheduled of Mar. 16 from the SLC-40Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

However, the SpaceX launch was delayed and, since then, the ship has moved back and forth along U.S. East coast: it headed southbound, has made a port visit to Curacao, then it has operated in the Caribbean Sea and eventually returned more or less where it was on Mar. 15 and it is right now: off Cape Canaveral.

The fact that the tug moved off Cape Kennedyin the days of the scheduled launch of SpaceX and returned there in anticipation of the new launch window suggests that the ?Nilolay Chiker? is somehow interested in observing the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft on the company?s third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station.

However, there?s someone who suggested that the ocean tug is actually supporting Russian nuclear attack submarines monitoring U.S. Navy East coast bases.

Hard to say.

For sure the Russian tug is not there by accident. During the Cold War, Russian and Americans have monitored each others special special operations, military exercises,invasions, maiden flights etc. This is not changed with the collapse of the USSR. On the contrary, close encounters (as the one in the Black Sea) and reciprocal snooping are probably going to increase.

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then, if launch will fail, Musk can claim evil(ish) russians for some kind of sabotage :) hmmm.. mobile haarp, gravity lens or Just too many vodka clouds & bad drunken bears everywhere :)

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Any info about F9 first stage recovery?

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The recovery operation is ongoing. If it is recovered it will not return to Port Canaveral but to Charleston, South Carolina.

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any closest date to next launch? i mean sats.

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