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SpaceX F9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE (Canada) mission thread

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Here we go - we have a F9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE launch window

Date: September 5, 2013

Launch window: 1600-1800 GMT (12-2 p.m. EDT; 9-11 a.m. PDT)

Launch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Wet Dress Rehersal (WDR): first half of next werk

Hotfire: a few days beford launch

Streaming: link to be provided later

CASSIOPE is a mixed-mission satellite that will be placed in a polar orbit for the Canadian Space Agency.

After the first stage of F9 v1.1 separates SpaceX will attempt to decelerate it, re-enter the atmosphere then do a soft touchdown in the Pacific Ocean under rocket thrust - just like the 1950's sci-fi flicks. This is a test of reusability techs that, with the Grasshopper tests, will hopefully lead to a fully reusable rocket that can land on land - F9R.

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Wow I cant wait, only 2 weeks away. Hope all goes well. I thought they weren't doing the first F9R test till later this year. Has it been pushed forward or is this year just going to fast for me? 

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SpaceX is moving VERY fast. They've designed F9 v1.1 to be a mass production rocket using automotive assembly line & production methods. This year they may make more high performance rocket engines than the rest of the world combined. Not the most powerful engines, but with the highest power to weight ratio by a lot.

They're not expecting complete success with this reentry and water landing attempt since they're working on assumptions and simulations. Other attempts will have hard data from this attempt as a guide. That hard data will also make it easier to fine tune things for the Grasshopper 2 (GH2) reusability testbed at SpacePort America in New Mexico.

GH2 will also attempt turnarounds, but is intended for flights to 300,000 feet and land touchdowns - so it'll have the 4 carbon composite pneumatic (helium gas) landing legs which will also act as aerosurfaces. They're prepping it, its launch and landing pads right now.

Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R, pronounced F9-er) shown below has a first stage like GH2's and its landing legs, which span 60 feet when deployed. The black portion is the composite interstage (spacer) which supports the 2nd stage & payload and covers the 2nd stages nozzle. Mass to orbit in expendable mode is >16 metric tons.

Gotta admit, she's a pretty bird.

falcon9-render.png

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There's only one thing that's a shame about SpaceX and all the other commercial interests in space.

 

I wish they'd all gotten going 20+ years ago! We'd be on Mars by now...

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From twitter a SpaceXer: Molly McCormick @Molliway:

Holy moly, we have an appointment with Space in like, 2 weeks. No countdown clock upstairs, doesn't feel real.

The clock clarification is that they have a countdown clock on the main floor at Mission Control Vandenberg - SpaceX , but not upstairs near her office :)

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Do we know why the launchdate slipped up 5 days to September 10th?

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Do we know why the launchdate slipped up 5 days to September 10th?

 

Pure guess but, weather?

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Remember we have a new pad and a new vehicle for this flight. They reused almost nothing of the old Titan IV facility except the bedrock, so it all has to be triple checked.

The delay is because of a slip in preps for the wet dress rehearsal (WDR)**, plus todays Delta IV Heavy launch right down the street and the coming holiday weekend. They're putting the finishing touches on hardware and wiring tests of the new pad at Vandenberg.

After the WDR (now set for Thursday or Friday) they have to data analysis, physical checkouts and prepare for an expected 3-4 second hotfire engines test. They usually need a few days after that before launch.

** rollout, raise the rocket vertical, fill it with propellants, then a practice countdown that goes to T-0 but doesn't fire the engines.

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Shot of F9v1.1 on the Vandenberg AFB SLC-4E pad for a wet dress rehersal earlier last week. Launch now no earlier than Sept 10 while testing of the new pad continues and to work around the Delta IV Heavy launch last week. No payload or fairing are mounted for WDR's. No lightning towers like at KSC because unlike Florida that part of California isn't a lightning free fire zone.

f9-06_pad.PNG

First good front-on look at the Vandenberg SLC-4E F9/Falcon Heavy transporter/erector with F9 v1.1 mounted. The triangular side "wings" are to support the side boosters on Falcon Heavy.

F9v1.1vandy2.PNG

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So, what we see here is the 1st & 2nd stage? Or just the 1st?

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First and second stages. With the payload fairing (large enough to hold a bus) it'll be 227 feet (69.2m) tall. The previous version of Falcon 9 measured 156 feet with a Dragon spacecraft mounted.

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F9 v1.1 / CASSIOPE hotfire is now set for Sept. 7. No second Wet Dress Rehersal is required (one was rumored). Launch is NET Sept. 14.

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The F9 v1.1 mount looks like it has a plume cone attached to its underside.

F9.v1.0 mount

f9v1.0mount.jpg

F9 v1.1 mount

f9v1.1mount.jpg

f9v1.1mountzoom.jpg

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Guess the new 4day slip is a result from the WDR results?

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Delays from building a brand new pad at Vandenberg (Orbital's delays with Antares and its new pad at Wallops were far longer), a new composite upper stage nozzle that took longer than expected, working around the Delta IV launch last week, and the usual stuff with a totally new rocket design.

Many KSC people were expecting it to be delayed until October or even November based on their experience with Atlas V. F9 v1.1 has actually gone better than average.

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Appreciate the SpaceX posts DocM.

Looking over the horizontal Falcon 9 pic above. Is that an umbilical housing below the interstage or one of the thruster pods for the upcoming water-landing demo.

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Umbilicals, helium and gasseous oxygen vents, cold gas thrusters, camera fairings - lots of goodies up there. Thrusters are only used to rotate the first stage for retro-fire and re-entry trim. The retro-fire is done by the center and 2 opposed Merlin 1D's. The touchdown is handled by the center Merlin 1D only.

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Sept. 14 launch window: 1600-1800 GMT (12-2 p.m. EDT; 9-11 a.m. PDT)

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Flight Readiness Review (FRR) conducted today and there is a GO for a Sept. 14 launch. Hotfire tomorrow (Tuesday), and there is NO unplanned / open work. Launch Readiness Review (LRR) just before launch day.

Also, SpaceX is planning to phase out the hotfires.

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And following that last post... fresh from the press:

 

Falcon v1.1 rolling out to the pad @vandenberg (via Elon's Twitter)

BTyHRaVCIAAc8Zr.jpg:large

 

Also... I see they have an R2D2 :P

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Just heard the hotfire has been delayed to Wednesday. Not sure if this will delay the launch. Could move it to later in the week as there are other launches set for Vandenberg.

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Latest word is hotfire Wednesday, LRR Friday and launch NET Sunday, but Sunday isn't a lock. Final date should be set at the LRR.

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@elonmusk via Twitter just now:

 

About to static fire Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base

BT_GSV-CAAAwFYH.jpg:large

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F9 v1.1 CASSIOPE on the pad at Vandenberg SLC-4E for a hotfire test.

f9rpad1.jpg

f9rpad2.jpg

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Nice images! Especially on that first one you can now truly see what an impressive support structure they made for FH!

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