SpaceX reusable launcher (Grasshopper) thread 2


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DocM

Gwynne Shotwell at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS).

First F9R-1 tests around December. Be prepared - it's much larger and looks much different.

The testing that we'll be doing here in New Mexico will be of a flight stage. We're trying to make it as flight-like as possible.

Except that at first the liftoffs will be with the landing legs extended, not folded. Eliminates the need for a pad infrastructure.

In some ways weve kind of failed on the Grasshopper program because we haven't pushed it to its limit, we haven't broken it.

>

We were so jubilant after the last flight. Between the flights that weve been doing with Grasshopper and this demonstration, we're really close to full and rapid reuse of stages.

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Beittil

Jeff Foust is over at KSC for tomorrow's MAVEN launch and today he attended a presser about "The Path toward Humans to Mars". Along the line he tweeted the following, to which I asked if he had more information... but unfortunately he doesn't.

 

 

 

  1. Mike Gazarik: interested in supersonic retropropulsion for Mars EDL; talking with SpaceX about what they did on F9 1st stage recovery.

     
  2. @jeff_foust Do you have more information on this bit?

     
  3. @DennisStolwijk what information are you looking for?

     
  4. @jeff_foust About the talks to SpaceX regarding their Grasshopper tech. Did they elaborate on that or was it just this mention?

     
  5. @DennisStolwijk I have no further details beyond what was mentioned at the press conference, sorry.

     
  6. @jeff_foust Ok tnx :) Still cool to hear though, was only a matter of time before NASA would get interrested in it imho!

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DocM

For those who don't know, Dr. Michael Gazarik is the Associate Administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. His area is the infusion of new technologies into NASA's exploration and science missions.

This is a really big deal for SpaceX, and one way to test it would be the Red Dragon (a Dragon 2 used as a Mars lander) mission NASA centers have proposed.

http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4216.pdf

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DocM

Grasshopper 1 has been moved off its pad, presumably into retirement. That's a 220 foot crane.

GrassHopper 2/F9R-1 is next, and will do low altitude hops at McGregor before being shipped to SpacePort America in New Mexico. Rumors are F9R-1 is at McGregor and that they waited for it to arrive so they could move both it and Grasshopper 1 with 1 crane rental.

We may get some F9R-1images soon, but we know it'll be a 43 meter (141 foot) Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage with landing legs (artists depiction below) with an 18.29 meter (60 foot) span (per Musk) and some sort of nose cone. Also included will he updated avionics and changes put in place after the recent Falcon 9 v1.1 flights.

Speculation: the recently extended McGregor FAA Grasshopper license may be also be used for DragonRider (crew Dragon/Dragon 2) tether, hover and propulsive landing tests.

gh1retired.jpg

Landing legs, folded

f9-legs.jpg

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Beittil

Heh. They see me rollin', they hating...

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Civilius

I am so impatient about next GH test! Landing with legs will be pure sci-fi like and i hope they will also replace Dragon parachutes with this. That will be crazy awesomeness!    :jump:

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Beittil

Well, Falcon9 getting landing legs has nothing to do with Dragon's parachutes btw :P

 

Dragon getting landing legs (which it will) has to do with (SuperDraco) replacing  Dragon's parachutes... which it will (Making the chutes a backup).

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Civilius

Well, Falcon9 getting landing legs has nothing to do with Dragon's parachutes btw :p

 

Dragon getting landing legs (which it will) has to do with (SuperDraco) replacing  Dragon's parachutes... which it will (Making the chutes a backup).

 

You mean this one? 

 

superdraco-0.jpg

 

On mars no one will film his landing on legs and i want to see one  :)

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DocM

The plan is to evolve Dragon crew landings from chutes to propulsive landings on legs. My bet is that this will be tested first with a series of Grasshopper like tests of Dragon doing short hops before a propulsive testbed Dragon does it from a helicopter drop. We KNOW the next step is chutes to several meters and a landing burn, like Soyuz. IMO then they'll do propulsive from space after an ISS a cargo mission. After that NASA will have to sign off for ISS crews to do propulsive landings..

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DocM

Someone flying a Cessna near the McGregor test site did a little aerial photography. It appears he caught F9R-1 on its pad and Grasshopper 1 on a storage pad. Looks like we may see a flight soon.

gh2labeled.jpg

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DocM

F9R-1 (Grasshopper 2) shows her LANDING LEGS

F9-R1b.jpg

F9-R1c.jpg

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DocM

More

Z3.jpg

tarety8a.jpg

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Beittil

She looks like the engines have been burning already...

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DocM

Yup. It's on a "milk stool" stand so the legs aren't bearing weight, but it does allow for hotfire engine tests. A similar stand was used on KSC LC-5 for the Redstone rockets. SpaceX's is likely larger and with hold-downs.

KSC LC-5

LC-5-Redstone-rocket-1.jpg

Leg pneumatic actuator mechanism. Legs are deployed by high pressure helium gas already on board to pressurize the propellant tanks. The actuator is stowed in a channel on the inboard side of each leg.

6upa2azu.jpg

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flyingskippy

Doc, do you know if there are down locks on the actuator?

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DocM

That's been under discussion even among aerospace engineers as SpaceX hasn't clarified it. Odds are yes with damping in the last segment.

Per Musk, all 4 legs (composite, aluminum etc) together mass out at less than a Tesla S sedan.

Before anyone yells "but composites burn!," no - not all would cook near those engines. Some high temperature composites can even be used for rocket nozzles - and soon Falcon 9's 2nd stage will be using one.

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DocM

F9R-1 Dev (Grasshopper 2) at the SpaceX McGregor TX test center.

They've been doing engine tests, hence the soot, and it will do a short hop before being shipped to the commercial SpacePort America in New Mexico (near the White Sands rocket range.) There it will fly hypersonically up to 300.000 feet and do engine stop/restart, approach and landing tests.

To get a feel for its size, compare it to the white pickup truck at frame right.

F9R-1_Dev.jpg

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Beittil

Man, they charred that thing up pretty good :D

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DocM

It actually scrubs off with heavy duty scouring pads. Same with the black ablation material on the side of Dragon after reentry. Most all soot.

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Beittil

I wonder when they will make that first hop with it... it's been so long since we saw footage of flying rockets at McGregor :(

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DocM

I would think not too long, but even then it'll be just one short hop at McGregor. After that it's off to SpacePort America for high altitude tests.

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Beittil

How is the situation at SPA atm btw, do we know that? I mean, they were busy contructing a pad for SpaceX to work at, is that work all done yet? As in, could SpaceX get cracking if they were to load up that rocket right now and move it to SPA?

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DocM

Some people expect the short hop and shipment to SPA before or shortly after CRS-3 flies.

An unrelated tidbit is that they expect to re-use the pad abort test Dragon for the later Max-Q flight abort test. This will be the first public firings of the SuperDraco abort/landing thrusters - 8 of them per Dragon.

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DocM

Another shot with all 4 legs, and flipped to an upright perspective.

F9_4_Legs.jpgF9_4_Legs_flipped.jpg

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