Tag: Falcon 9

New Chart Shows Performance Hit Falcon 9 Takes for Reusability


On Saturday, SpaceX Founder Elon Musk posted a new price chart for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters that show the performance hit that results from making the boosters partially reusable.

The Falcon 9 can lift 8.3 metric tons (18,300 lb) to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) in its expendable form. Make the booster reusable with landing legs and fuel in reserve, it can lift up to 5.5 metric tons (12,125 lb) to GTO.

For the Falcon Heavy, the numbers are 22.2 metric tons (48,943 lb) for the expendable version and up to 8 metric tons (17,637 lb) for the reusable variant. The Falcon Heavy has yet to fly and is running nearly four years behind SpaceX’s original schedule. The latest flight date is at the end of this year.

SpaceX is charging $62 million for the Falcon 9 and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy. The company has not yet set prices for a launch with a reused first stage, but officials have estimated prices could be set around $40 million for the Falcon 9.

Musk was asked on Twitter whether the posted performance figures were for the current versions of the boosters or future variants. He elaborated in a series of Tweets:

“Basically current, but higher throttle setting. Good performance of recent launches allows us to reduce 3 sigma reserve margin”

“No physical changes to the engine. This thrust increase is based on delta qual tests. It is just tougher than we thought.”

“F9 thrust at liftoff will be raised to 1.71M lbf later this year. It is capable of 1.9M lbf in flight.”

“Falcon Heavy thrust will be 5.1M lbf at liftoff — twice any rocket currently flying. It’s a beast…”

The table also shows payload capacity for the two rockets for Mars missions. Falcon 9 can send just over 4 metric tons (8,860 lb) to Mars while Falcon Heavy can send 13.6 metric tons (29,980 lb) to the Red Planet.

New Video Shows Falcon 9 First Stage Landing From Ship


Air Force Awards GPS III Launch Services Contract to SpaceX

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif., April 27, 2016 (USAF PR) – The Air Force announced today the award of the first competitively sourced National Security Space (NSS) launch services contract in more than a decade. Space Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) was awarded a contract for Global Positioning System (GPS) III Launch Services. This is a firm-fixed price, standalone contract with a total value of $82,700,000. SpaceX will provide the Government with a total launch solution for the GPS-III satellite, which includes launch vehicle production, mission integration, and launch operations and spaceflight certification. The launch will be the second GPS III launch and is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. in May 2018.

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Profile of NASA Launch Vehicle Deputy Manager Dayna Ise

Dayna Ise (Credit: NASA)

Dayna Ise (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — American-built rockets will soon once again launch astronauts from American soil, and Dayna Ise, an engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is excited to be part of the program making this possible.

Ise, deputy manager of the Launch Vehicle Office in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said working at the dawn of a new generation of human spaceflight brings intensity in a number of areas.

“Of all the projects I have been part of with NASA in my 15 years, this is easily the work I am most proud of,” said Ise, who started her career working on space shuttle main engines. “I joined the team early on, almost five years ago, and it’s been fun to see it grow. It’s exciting to be part of program that will launch astronauts to the space station from American soil and allow NASA more resources for exploration deeper into our solar system.”

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Video of SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage On Way Back to Pad


Video Caption: Visiting KSC and the first stage from CRS-8 was on the road back to Pad 39 for a test fire, the are planning to reuse it if it looks good.

Profile of NASA Launch Vehicle Chief Engineer Dan Dorney

Dan Dorney (Credit: NASA)

Dan Dorney (Credit: NASA)

By Bill Hubscher,
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA’s Dan Dorney has never been afraid to think big.

As a 7-year-old boy growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1969, Dorney watched the Apollo 11 moon landing from his living room and decided he needed to build his own rocket. He sent a letter to NASA asking how to do that. Much to his parents’ surprise, he got a response – NASA sent him plans to build a simple model rocket. Which he immediately rejected.

“I wanted the real wiring schematics and engine plans,” Dorney says. “I wanted to build my own life-size rocket to go to the moon. I was ready to be an aerospace engineer.”

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Giant Pile of Dirt Marks SpaceX’s Texas Launch Site

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor's Office)

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

Steve Clark of The Brownsville Herald reports that SpaceX’s biggest challenge at its future launch site in Texas is stabilizing the soil.

The purpose is to raise and stabilize the area before actual construction of the launch pad and associated buildings begins. The technical term is “soil surcharging.”

When the final load is delivered, 310,000 cubic yards of soil will have been brought in, enough to cover a football field 13 stories high, according to the Hawthorne, California-based aerospace company.

Launch pads require very stable soil, since rockets are very heavy and hangar foundations must not crack. Surcharging is a much more cost-effective solution than, say, driving steel beams or pouring 200-foot concrete pillars, though it does take longer.

Once the mountain of dirt is in place it will be graded, then allowed to settle for a period time. After that, it’s expected actual construction of the launch pad will move quickly, according to the company. Until then, a steady parade of dump trucks rumbles to and from the site as the artificial plateau grows taller.

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk had hoped to launch the first Falcon 9 from the site near the Mexican border in 2016. That date has now slipped to 2018.

SpaceX Threatens Roscosmos, Russian Dominance in Launch Market

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The Moscow Times looks at how SpaceX and changes in U.S. policy are threatening Roscosmos and Russia’s 40 percent share of the global launch market.

SpaceX hopes to begin reusing its rockets 10 to 20 times, and Musk has on various occasions claimed that reusability can reduce costs for launching things into space by a factor of 100.
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Euro Updates: Ariane 6 Price Promises, SES Embraces SpaceX & Orbital Servicing

Artist's impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Artist’s impression of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

Updates from the Old World: European officials say they can beat SpaceX’s launch pricing four years from now.

Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket remains on track for a 2020 first launch with a cost structure allowing the heavier Ariane 64 version to advertise per-kilogram prices below today’s Space X Falcon 9, European government and industry officials said April 6.

They said they saw no roadblocks to the 2020 first-flight date despite what they described as noncritical delays that have no impact on the rocket’s design, performance or cost targets.

These issues include a delay of several months in the ramp-up of Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), which is the Ariane 6 prime contractor, due to tax issues in France, and an extended antitrust review by the European Commission of ASL’s plan to become the dominant shareholder of the Arianespace commercial launch consortium.

Meanwhile, satellite fleet operator SES is embracing on-orbit servicing and SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9.

SES said specifically it had opened negotiations with two companies — industry officials said they are Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK’s Vivisat and MDA Corp. of Canada — “to have each extend the life of one of our satellites once their services are operational.”

The two in-orbit servicing projects take different approaches. Orbital ATK’s Vivisat launches a small vehicle that latches onto the target communications satellite and stays attached to it, providing fuel. MDA Corp. has designed an in-orbit fuel depot that would visit satellites, fuel them and then leave to service other customers….

ES has said that, for the right price, it is willing to be the inaugural customer using a refurbished Falcon 9 first stage “to show our commitment to reusable rockets.”

SES plans to launch seven satellites by late 2017– three in 2016 and four in 2017 – of which five are slated for SpaceX Falcon 9 missions, with two on Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket. The first of the seven, SES-9, was successfully launched in March aboard a Falcon 9.

Innovative Epigenetics Research Sent to ISS

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 8, 2016 (Zymo PR) — Zymo Research Corporation is taking epigenetics research to the next level … outer space.

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Video of SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Landing on Drone Ship


SpaceX CRS-8 Mission to Deliver New Module, Rodents to ISS

Bigelow BEAM module ready for shipping. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Bigelow BEAM module ready for shipping. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 mission will deliver 6,900 pounds/3,130 kilograms of science, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. Payloads aboard Dragon will include rodents for a medical study and an expandable module that will be installed after Dragon completes its two-day trip to the station.

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Space Station Live: BEAMing up to ISS


Video Caption: NASA Commentator Gary Jordan talks with Rajib Dasgupta, the International Space Station project manager for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, which will launch to the station on a Dragon cargo ship next month.

Provided by Bigelow Aerospace, BEAM will be berthed to the aft docking port of the station’s Tranquility module for a two-year demonstration of the commercial expandable technology.

The station crew members will perform maintenance inside the BEAM on a quarterly basis: inspecting for leaks, taking air and surface samples for later analysis, and changing out batteries in instruments measuring temperature and radiation levels and impact data.

Dragon to Carry Bigelow Module, Experiments on April 8 Flight

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into orbit in early April, the company’s eighth mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS-8. The flight will deliver research experiments to the International Space Station that will help investigators test the use of an expandable space habitat in microgravity, assess the impact of antibodies on muscle wasting in a microgravity environment, use microgravity to seek insight into the interactions of particle flows at the nanoscale level and use protein crystal growth in microgravity to help in the design of new drugs to fight disease. Investigations like these demonstrate how the orbiting laboratory helps advance NASA’s journey to Mars while making discoveries off the Earth that can benefit life on Earth.

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Shotwell: SpaceX Could Reduce Launch Costs By 30 Percent by Reusing First Stage

Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said earlier this week the company could reduce launch costs substantially by reusing the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster.

SES of Luxembourg, SpaceX’s biggest backer among the large commercial satellite fleet operators, has said it wants to be the first customer to fly with a reused stage. But SES Chief Executive Karim Michel Sabbagh said here March 8 that SES wanted a 50 percent price cut, to around $30 million, in return for pioneering the reusable version.

Shotwell said it was too early to set precise prices for a reused Falcon 9, but that if the fuel on the first stage costs $1 million or less, and a reused first stage could be prepared for reflight for $3 million or so, a price reduction of 30 percent – to around $40 million – should be possible.

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