SpaceX updates (Grasshopper RLV)

Recommended Posts


oh no, you didn't bring up 2010! the ship with the gravity where for some strange reason pens can still float in mid air at will!

but thanks for the update, the Dragon platform is looking better and better, and i think NASA are really counting on SpaceX to take us to Mars in the next ten years. you may be right Doc, it seems NASA themselves don't want the MPCV and SLS that badly...

as for Zubrin, i really hope his demeanor is just part of his play to raise awareness and put the pressure on politicians and decision makers so things get going. cause otherwise he's just rude. his attacks on Chang-Diaz last summer were totally uncalled for.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: 2010

The control & conference rooms where pens floated were not in the artificial gravity centrifuge. Same as the cockpit on Discovery.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Photo day -

Office humor

Inside of Falcon 9's fuel tank

Draco thruster test in the vacuum chamber (nozzle left, white hot thrust chamber center & mixing valves right)

Falcon Heavy pad at Vandenberg AFB - still doing demolition.





Link to post
Share on other sites

nice pics as always Doc!

what do you mean about 2010? Roy Scheider was clearly demonstaring something inside the centrifuge, everything was properly attached to surfaces and people were standing around in a clear gravitational environment...but the pens were floating in mid air!

Link to post
Share on other sites

In the novel there was no centrifuge, the Russians looking at gravity as a "luxury." The centrifuges were added in the films post-production for dramatic effect.

In the ret-con it was decided that the centrifuge pods contained the Sleeping Bay in one and the Medical Bay/angiography suite in the other. The Ward Room, Recreation Rom, Galley, Observatory, Computer Bay, Pod Bay, Airlock and Flight Deck were all zero-G.

Remember that they used Velcro shoes in the 2001 film, and making things stay down on a table in zero-G is a matter of electrostatic adhesion - see the sticky-boom posts, but make it a table. An old concept (remember the Colorforms toys?) with new applications.

Alexi Leonov floor plan -


Link to post
Share on other sites


The FAA has given full clearance for the Grasshopper RLV tests to commence. Engage!

Florida Today story about the search for an additional SpaceX commercial launch facility -.



Latest Dragon pic

A very SpaceX Halloween (Falcon 9, Dragon & Merlin engine)



  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

congrats on the FAA approval to everyone at SpaceX!

as for the Alexei Leonov, you wanna tell me that seen in the dining area was supposed to be zero g? it seems totally normal, but then it could be just stupid bias that in zero G everything floats's interesting to think that they figured we would know it wasn't gravitated.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SpaceX's test center in McGregor is having an open house (see attachment.)

Also - pics of the Dragon and Trunk being integrated.

Also got these from one of their interviews -

Falcon 9's avionics is Linux-based.

Part of the Merlin engine?s qualification testing involves feeding a stainless steel nut into the fuel and oxidizer lines while the engine is running, which means into the turbopump. They have to keep running.





Link to post
Share on other sites

Rumors are Puerto Rico, Texas, Hawaii, or Florida. Why? Because integration and launch preparations of SpaceX vehicles are interrupted every time NASA, the military, or ULA needs to launch something.

There is a former US Naval Air Station in Puerto Rico that's up for sale that comes with an 11,000 ft runway.

Musk -

Our growing launch manifest has led us to look for additional sites. We're considering several states and territories, I envision this site functioning like a commercial Cape Canaveral.

Hawthorne, CA ? Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is searching for a new launch site to meet increasing demand from commercial customers.

SpaceX already has an active launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is currently developing a new launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company also operates a rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas.

?Our growing launch manifest has led us to look for additional sites. We're considering several states and territories,? said SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. ?I envision this site functioning like a commercial Cape Canaveral.?

SpaceX is the fastest growing launch services provider in the world, having received 14 new orders for its Falcon 9 rocket within the last year alone. The company has over 3 billion dollars of revenue on the books through 2017, and has sold over 40 missions for the Falcon 9, over half of which are for commercial customers.

Four U.S. states ? Virginia, California, Alaska, and Florida ? have active launch sites. Given the complexity of developing a rocket launch site, SpaceX will be pursuing several options concurrently in order to fully understand the pros and cons of each location.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A view from the Open House - this is just ONE Merlin engine firing. Falcon 9 has 9 of them.




Link to post
Share on other sites

nice nice nice! and i understand their desire to move to PR, out of the way but still equatorial and convenient/close to the mainland.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Merlin 1C (left) meets Merlin 1D (right). Merlin 1C is machined (very $$) while Merlin 1D is explosively hydro-formed (!= $$).

The Merlin 1D has developmental sensors and wiring taped to it that won't be in the production engine. It's much more powerful but has far fewer parts, which with the rapid explosive hydro-forming makes it a real live mass-production rocket engine. This means that instead of building just a few engines a year by hand like most companies, SpaceX can crank out several hundred Merlins a year just at the Hawthorne, California plant. They're going to need them - the Falcon Heavy will use 27 Merlin 1D's in the first stage cores and 1 M1DVAC in the second stage.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another angle on Merlin 1D, this time showing the nozzle, new turbopump and its exhaust.

Again - a lot of this wiring is developmental and won't be on the production engine.


Link to post
Share on other sites

nice pics and Elon looks excited in that last one! we will need a lot of 1D's if we're going to be sticking 27 of them on a single rocket...all the more reason to go single stage! BRING BACK THE NEXUS VEHICLE! :angry:

Link to post
Share on other sites

More integration buildings, more people, more launches - and in other releases still talking about building their private commercial spaceport. Jeezzzz.....


SpaceX Expanding Florida Facilities To Meet Launch Demand

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. ? Space Exploration Technologies, the startup rocket company developing cut-rate launch services, is expanding its Florida base, with additional hangars to prepare its Falcon 9 rockets and customer payloads for flight.

The firm, owned and operated by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, has more than 40 flights worth about $3.5 billion on its manifest from the U.S. government, commercial and international customers.

About 40 percent of that business is for NASA, which has hired the company, also known as SpaceX, to fly cargo to the international space station beginning next year. A demonstration flight is scheduled for launch in January.

Falcon 9s fly from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station?s Space Launch Complex 40, which previously was used by the now-retired Titan rocket program. Currently, only one vehicle can be processed at a time at a hangar adjacent to the launch pad.

To accommodate an expected flight rate of 10 to 12 launches per year, SpaceX is building a 16,000-square-meter addition to Space Launch Complex 40 and taking over an old Delta 2 processing building called Hangar AO. Space Florida, a state-funded agency focused on expanding space-related business in Florida, is providing $7.3 million toward the upgrades.

?We?ll be able to integrate three rockets at a time instead of one,? Scott Henderson, SpaceX?s director of mission assurance, said at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association conference in Cocoa Beach earlier this month.

The upgrade includes a clean room, a hazardous hypergolic fueling facility and enough volume to encapsulate a payload in a fairing in a vertical position.

The company also plans to either upgrade Pad 40 or add another launch pad to support its planned Falcon Heavy rockets. That would be in addition to the West Coast Falcon Heavy launch complex under construction at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

?We can do it on Launch Complex 40; technically it?s not a challenge. The problem is how you do that while not breaking up your revenue stream as you?re launching Falcon 9, so you?ve got a challenge there,? Henderson said.

The company, which is based in Hawthorne, Calif., currently has about 1,600 employees, including about 70 in Florida.

?We will never, as a small, commercial, lean, agile company, win the job-creation battle,? Henderson said, referring to the political push for companies to replace jobs lost by the retirement of NASA?s space shuttles.

?It doesn?t really match the commercial model. What we?re really trying to do is increase launch rate, because if you increase launch rate you bring in new customers to Florida, they bring in suppliers, bring in people to watch launches, and all boats lift on the rising tide,? he said.

SpaceX faces what likely will be a keen competition for NASA funds to continue work on a passenger version of its Dragon capsule. A cargo Dragon made its debut flight in December 2010 and is targeted for a second demonstration flight, including possibly berthing at the space station, Jan. 7.

SpaceX currently shares a pool of $316.2 million in NASA funds with Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Blue Origin for space taxi development and work on related technologies. The White House had requested $850 million for 2012. Congress budged $406 million.

NASA has not yet announced how the cut would impact the number of contractors, the scope of the work or the timing for the next phase of the program. A solicitation was expected to be released before the end of the year.

Link to post
Share on other sites

they are very ambitious, and thanks for keeping us apprised. however, i want to have these great plans become a reality! I want Elon to fund a mission to Mars in the next ten years like he said he'd do!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't we all :)

Interesting bits from NASA regarding the upcoming Dragon mission to ISS.

First is that S/W and firmware updates are being done on ISS's Dragon control systems, along with interesting details on how this is done, and second is confirmation that the C2 and C3 demo flights are now merged into a Dragon Combined Demo (DCD)

Dan Burbank is the ISS Expedition 30 Commander.

From ISS On-Orbit Status Report for 29/11/2011.

In preparation of tomorrow's scheduled CUCU (COTS UHF Communications Unit) software & Dragon CCP (Crew Command Panel) firmware update, CDR Dan Burbank installed a USB thumb drive (#60) and readied a blank CD (#1675) in SSC-10 (Station Support Computer-10). The ground then uplinked a software patch and burned it on the CD. New software, version R3.2, will be loaded into the CUCU from a DVD delivered on STS-135/ULF-7 and a patch from the thumb drive.

CUCU is the SpaceX avionics box that is used for space-to-space communication with "Dragon" during rendezvous. CUCU contains two completely redundant strings, and each string needs a software update to the RIO (Remote Input/Output) control modules, the radio and the 1553 card. In addition, the firmware on the CCP will need to be updated for both the primary and spare CCP. The software update is done with a T61p laptop that will be booted to the Linux operating system from the ULF-7 DVD. After the software load, MCC-X (SpaceX's Control Center in Hawthorne, CA) will be doing some checkouts of the box and then Dan Burbank will do a checkout of both CCPs.

Background: The originally planned Demo 2 & 3 missions have been merged. For the new "Dragon" Combined Demo, "Commanding from ISS" via the CCP will be demonstrated while the spacecraft flies 2.5 km under the ISS.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From a Tom Mueller (SpaceX's VP of Propulsion Development) interview in LMU, the magazine of Loyola Marymount University


Rocket Man

In the coming months, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, will launch a supply ship carrying hundreds of pounds of astronaut provisions to the International Space Station. NASA is counting on the company, and another private firm, to take over the Space Shuttle?s resupply missions to the iss. only nine years old, SpaceX has technologically leapfrogged its competitors to lay claim to the world?s least-costly space flights. One of the brains behind SpaceX is Tom Mueller. He was interviewed by Doug McInnis.

Mankind?s dream of living and working in space seems to hinge on three factors ? the ability to do it affordably, safely and reliably. So far, spacecraft have been made to work more or less reliably and safely, but not affordably. Has SpaceX cracked the cost barrier?

We?ve made a big improvement over the previous cost barrier. We can send a payload up for as little as one-fifth as much as other U.S. launch providers. But we would like to reduce that to 1/100 the current cost or less. The problem is that all rockets, including ours, are used just once. With expendable rockets, you pay for the full cost of the rocket each time you fly. With a reusable rocket, you could get the cost down. Ultimately, we want the whole thing to be like an aircraft flight ? you don?t throw anything away except maybe some of the food trays you serve to the crew.

If cost is less of an inhibiting factor, is manned travel to the Moon, Mars and elsewhere coming?

Absolutely. I think that?s the next step in human exploration. Somehow we got trapped in low-Earth orbit for the past 40 years. That?s unfortunate. I think what mankind really wants to do is go to Mars. And certainly there are reasons to go back to the moon.

Do you think future SpaceX vehicles will go to the Moon or Mars, and do you think that someday SpaceX travel will be cheap enough to take tourists into space?

Yes, on both counts. We?ll be capable of going to the moon within five years and to Mars hopefully within 10. We?re also working really hard on reusability to get the price down, and I think that will open up space tourism. We?ve already announced our initial price for NASA astronauts: It?s about $20 million. But if we get reusability down and are able to cut that price dramatically, that would open it up for a lot more people.

What sorts of things have you done to create propulsion systems that work better and cost less to operate? was there a magic bullet or lots of small improvements?

There?s no real magic bullet. In order to keep the rocket?s engine simple, reliable and low cost, we picked fuels that were simple, low-cost and widely available. We picked an engine cycle that?s about 95 percent of maximum. It?s not like a Ferrari, as some other companies have done. It?s like a Chevy. It?s reliable and low-cost. We save money by making most of the parts. We do our own testing at our own sites. We have control of design and development through launch. We build the launch vehicle and the engine that powers it, so we don?t have to go to another company to interface. I just go to another office in the same building.

To create a new propulsion system, is it an advantage to start from scratch?

In the beginning, we would have liked to have bought an existing system to save all the development costs. But there was no system, not even the Russian system, that would do what we wanted. So we had to develop our own. That really allowed us to do a paradigm shift and get the costs down. We?re not looking to do an evolutionary change. We?re looking to do a revolutionary change.

Is your background from outside the box?

I come from a hands-on background. My dad was a logger, so I grew up around logging trucks and equipment, and chain saws. You learn a lot from that environment. I tend to have that rare gift where I can easily conceptualize what will work. If somebody were to give me specs for a different kind of engine, I could easily conceptualize what will work.

What were you like as a kid?

I got in big trouble when I took the lawn mower apart. My father came home and found the parts all over the yard. He was mad because he figured it wasn?t going to go back together. I had the pistons out and the valves out. But I put it back together, and the thing ran fine. At Christmas, I always went for the Erector Set?kind of stuff.

When did you become interested in space propulsion and how did you pursue those interests over the years?

I was always interested in rockets, even as a kid. I flew my own rockets. I read science fiction and was really into astronomy. The kid across the street from me was a real brain. He had a telescope. I would go over to his house and look at the stars. I loved reading about the stars, black holes, anything that had to do with space. But my junior high school guidance teacher decided I should be an aircraft mechanic. Then in my first year in high school, my math teacher asked if I was going to be an engineer. I said no. He was astounded. He asked, ?Do you want to be the guy who fixes the plane or the guy who designs it?? If it hadn?t been for that math teacher, I probably would have been a mechanic or a logger. Thanks to him, I got the right courses to go to college.

SpaceX was the brainchild of Elon Musk, the legendary entrepreneur who also founded PayPal and electric carmaker Tesla Motors. What?s it like to work for him?

Elon says a company is the sum of all of its vectors. If you have a small company with all the vectors pointed in the right direction, he says it?s better than a large company with the vectors pointing in random directions. Here, everybody is moving in the right direction to build a very efficient machine that is super reliable.

You had a good job with TRW, a Fortune 500 company. Why did you give it up for SpaceX?

I was pretty happy there. The biggest problem probably was that rocket engines weren?t a core component of TRW?s operations. But when I met Elon, the rocket engine was key frontline technology for SpaceX. In addition, Elon?s business plan and the way he wanted to set up the company really appealed to me. And he had the capital to do it. So when Elon said (to me and another prospective employee), if you guys join, we?ll start the company, I signed on as one of the three cofounders.

SpaceX has a government contract to deliver unmanned supply vehicles to the space station. what other things do you have in the works?

Just over 50 percent of our work is commercial. We have, for example, a $550 million contract with Iridium Communications, a satellite communications company in McLean, Vir., to launch its next generation of telecommunications satellites into space. We also have a contract with NASA to develop a manned version of our Dragon spacecraft. And we are working to get more launches for the Department of Defense.

Do companies such as spacex indicate a shift from public to private space exploration?

Yes. To qualify that statement, government will always play an important role in space exploration. But NASA will be able to hire private companies to handle access to low-Earth orbit and eventually some points beyond. The government will need to lead efforts for deep space missions requiring farther-reaching technology (like ion and nuclear engines).

What?s next in space travel?

Until now, the trajectory has been all wrong. We went to the moon in 1969. Then we got stuck in low-Earth orbit with the space shuttle. And now we don?t even have that any more. I?m hoping that this is the beginning of a commercial revolution in terms of access to space. I think there are going to be a lot of startups. Hopefully, we?re going to bring spaceflight back so that it will be at the forefront of people?s attention. That?s what SpaceX is all about.

Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks a lot for posting the interview with Tom, Doc, found it very uplifting and encouraging! I am counting on the to help put pressure on other organizations so we can get back to the moon and head out to Mars and beyond. his timeline of 5-10 years would be great, and i so so agree with what he says about getting trapped in low orbit for 40 years. what does he think was the reason for this? hopefully this period is behind us and we can move forward now, because the space revolution will make the industrial and information revolutions look like child's play in terms of its impact on humanity.

you should have also highlighted his last sentence in your quote. putting spaceflight at the forefront is what it's all about!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally, it's official. Dragon's ISS flight is on for Feb. 7

RELEASE: 11-413


WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced the launch target for Space?

Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital?

Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7,?

2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and?

verification, NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon?spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS)?in a single flight.?

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months?

preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William?

Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human?

Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We look forward to a?successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo?delivery for this international orbiting laboratory."?

Gerstenmaier said, "There is still a significant amount of critical?

work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan?

to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with?

all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain?sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure?

safety and mission success."?

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out?

procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the?

rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight?

include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately?

two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems?

necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also?

will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.?

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station?

crew grapples the vehicle with the station's robotic arm. The capsule?

will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the?

end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching?

Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the?

Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment?

to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third?

demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as?

originally planned.?

"SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between?the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and?provide a large return on investment," said Alan Lindenmoyer, program?manager for COTS at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.?

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to?

berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a?

historic milestone in the future of spaceflight," said SpaceX?

President Gwynne Shotwell. "We appreciate NASA's continued support?and their partnership in this process."?

Begun in 2006, NASA's COTS program is investing financial and?

technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to?

develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space?

transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is?

spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch?vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of?

delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space?


Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million?and Orbital Sciences Corporation, NASA's other COTS partner, will?receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all?milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376?million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has?

received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.?

For more information on COTS, visit:?

For more information on the International Space Station, visit:?

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit:?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Aviation Week article about the upcoming SpaceX Dragon flight -


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice! it'll be good to have the the whole system finally prove itself in such a public mission, i sense great things ahead. when are we looking at a manned flight?

Link to post
Share on other sites

First the Dragon's launch abort system needs to get finished and installed. NASA approved the design a couple months ago, and the milestone schedule calls for it to be presented for testing in May, 2012 - but rumors are they're well ahead of schedule and may present it early. Since its SuperDraco thrusters are also part of the DragonRider propulsive landing system that should come soon after manned flights commence (water landings at first) around 2015.

They're already taking input from astronauts on the seats and glass cockpit bits (all digital), and the life support system is from Paragon SDC which has already been approved but needs to be integrated with the cockpit bits.

Paragon's single-box life support system is highly modular, very simple, largely repairable by module or cartridge swap, and is therefore not a patchwork of stuff scattered around the spacecraft like what was seen in Apollo 13. Long overdue.


1) Carbon dioxide removal

2) Humidity removal

3) Trace contaminant removal

4) Post-fire atmospheric recovery

5) Air filtration

6) Cabin air circulation

7) Air temperature control


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a little tidbit I ran across -

On the Chinese calander 2012 is the Year of the Dragon

Fitting :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

The October 31, 2011 preliminary analysis on the proposed "Red Dragon" NASA/SpaceX Mars Discovery class mission has been released. It's looking good so far, and they've moved on to the studies proposed in the conclusion.

Necessary info-bits to movie on are the final numbers on the SuperDraco thrusters, both 100% thrust and the Specific Impulse (ISP.) The DragonRider system that uses them has been approved and is due for demonstration by May. 2012 so that info's not too far off.

The mission would use a Falcon Heavy launcher and a Dragon spacecraft modded so instruments could be deployed. The current Falcon 9 is the same size as the strap-on boosters used for Falcon Heavy.

Just for the fun of it I inserted the FH/Red Dragon image into a shot of SpaceX's Launch Complex 40.


Full sized imagery attached.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.