Tag: Falcon 9

Historic Pad 39A Being Transformed for Falcon Launches

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Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and adding robust, new fixtures, SpaceX is steadily transforming Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for use as a launch pad for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The launchers will lift numerous payloads into orbit, including the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts aboard bound for the International Space Station.

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A is being modified for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

A horizontal integration facility was built at the base of the pad and rails installed running up the incline to the flame trench. Instead of arriving to the pad on the back of the crawler-transporters, SpaceX rockets will roll on a custom-built transporter-erector that will carry them up the hill and then stand the rocket up for liftoff. The fixed service structure at the pad deck will remain, although more than 500,000 pounds of steel has already been removed from it. SpaceX has already started removing the rotating service structure, which is attached to the fixed structure. Built for the need to load a shuttle’s cargo bay at the pad, it does not serve a purpose for Falcon launchers whose payloads are mounted on the top of the rocket.

Pad 39A  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Pad 39A (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

SpaceX leased the historic launch pad from NASA in April 2014 and has been steadily remaking it from a space shuttle launch facility into one suited for the needs of the Falcon rockets and their payloads. It is the same launch pad where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off on July 16, 1969, to begin their Apollo 11 flight that would make history as the first to land people on the moon. Almost all signs of Apollo-era hardware were removed from the launch pad when it was rebuilt for the shuttle.

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Video of Falcon 9 First Stage Crash on Ship

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Launches This Week: Falcon 9, Ariane 5 & New Shepard

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BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

UPCOMING LAUNCHES

Wednesday, June 15
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A
Launch Window: 1429-1513 GMT (10:29-11:13 am EDT)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Thursday, June 16
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: EchoStar 18 & BRIsat
Launch Window: 2030-2115 GMT (4:30-5:15 pm EDT)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana

Friday, June 17
Launch Vehicle: New Shepard
Payload: New Shepard capsule
Launch Window: TBA
Launch Site: Corn Ranch, Texas
Webcast: TBA

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Commercial Crew Manufacturing Gains Momentum Coast to Coast

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Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Manufacturing facilities are in operation on the east and west coasts to build the next generation of spacecraft to return human launch capability to American soil. Over the past six months, Boeing and SpaceX – the companies partnered with NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station – each have begun producing the first in a series of spacecraft.

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Watch Falcon 9 First Stage Landing From On Board Camera

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Video: Musk, Bezos & Branson Talk Commercial Space

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I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

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i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”

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Falcon 9 Stage Suffered Maximum Damage During Re-entry

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Spectacular Images of Recovered Falcon 9 Stages in a Hangar

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Three recovered Falcon 9 first stages in Hangar 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX)

Three recovered Falcon 9 first stages in Hangar 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has released some stunning images of three recovered Falcon 9 first stages in Hangar 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centers.

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

One stage landed back at Cape Canaveral in December. The other two stages landed on an off-shore barge.

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX plans to refurbish the Falcon 9 stages and fly them again.

Credit: SpaceX

Credit: SpaceX

Senate Armed Services Committee Limits ULA Engines

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John McCain

John McCain

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday that limits United Launch Alliance (ULA) to purchasing nine Russian-made RD-180 engines for use in the first stage of the company’s Atlas V booster to launch national security payloads.

The move sets up a showdown with the House Armed Services Committee, which earlier put the number of engines ULA could purchase at 18. ULA and the U.S. Air Force support the higher number, saying the engines are needed to meet military launch needs.

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Watch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Land From 3 Different Angles

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Video Caption: Three different views of last week’s Falcon 9 first stage landing after sending JCSAT-14 satellite on to Geostationary Transfer Orbit. Hottest and fastest landing yet.

SpaceX to Receive NSS Space Pioneer Award

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen as it launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard, , Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will help continue U.S.-European satellite measurements of global ocean height changes. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen as it launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard, , Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will help continue U.S.-European satellite measurements of global ocean height changes. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5 (NSS PR) — SpaceX is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award recognizes the company’s recent major achievement, the historic first landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec 21, 2015, which was a major step toward fulfilling one of the major “holy grail” quests of the space community – reusability.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch Set for Early Friday Morning

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Falcon 9 launch and landing. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 launch and landing. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is targeting Friday, May 6 at 1:21 a.m. EDT for the launch of the JCSAT-14 communications satellite. The launch will be webcast at http://www.spacex.com.

The company will attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on an off-shore barge as it successfully did last month.

New Chart Shows Performance Hit Falcon 9 Takes for Reusability

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SpaceX_rocket_pricing_May2016
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

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