Tag: Falcon 9

Congressmen Seek Answers About Falcon 9 Problems

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Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mike Coffman PR) –  Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), along with Representative Cory Gardner (R-CO), sent a letter to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) expressing strong concerns over anomalies that have occurred on taxpayer-funded space launch vehicles, and the lack of public disclosure or transparency of these anomalies.  The letter expresses concern over an epidemic of anomalies that have occurred during SpaceX launches or launch attempts, and communicates frustrations with NASA’s refusal to provide insight into those mishaps.

[Editor's Note: The letter is also signed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL).]

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USAF Counts SpaceX Falcon 9 Flights Toward Certification

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Falcon 9 lifts off with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 lifts off with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)


LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR)
 – The U.S. Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center declared both the Dec. 3, 2013 and Jan. 6, 2014 flights of the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle will each count as a successful flight towards Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) certification. This completes the three flights required for the flight experience requirement.

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Falcon 9 Launches ORBCOMM Satellites

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Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

Falcon 9 second stage engine burn.

UPDATE 2: Elon Musk Tweeted: Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)

UPDATE: ORBCOMM has confirmed that all six satellites have been successfully deployed. The orbit was exactly what was planned.

SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral this morning. The rocket carries six ORBCOMM communications satellites, which at the moment are still attached to the second stage. Deployment will follow.

Also awaiting word on the success of soft-landing the first stage on the ocean. Updates as we get them.

SpaceX Commercial Crew Status for July 2014

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Award Period: August 2012 – March 2015
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 14
Milestones Remaining: 6
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $357 Million
Total Award Remaining: $103 Million

Several notable changes have occurred in SpaceX’s milestones and timelines. First, the time period has been extended from August 2014 to March 2015. This change will allow the company to complete an in-flight abort test with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon crew capsule.

However, the Critical Design Review (Milestone 13) also has fallen behind schedule.  The milestone has been split into f0ur separate milestones, with final completion now schedules for November.

No.
Description Original Date Status Amount
1 CCiCap Kickoff Meeting. SpaceX will hold a kickoff meeting at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to review the current state of existing hardware, processes and designs, describe plans for CCiCap program execution during both the base period and the optional period and lay the groundwork for a successful partnership between NASA and SpaceX. August 2012 Complete $40
Million
2 Financial and Business Review. SpaceX will hold a financial and business review to accomplish verification of financial ability to meet NASA’s stated goals for the CCiCap program by providing NASA insight into SpaceX finances. August 2012
Complete $20 Million
3 Integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR). SpaceX will hold an integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR) to examine the functional and performance requirements defined for the entire CTS for the Commercial Crew Program design reference mission per section 3.1 of CCT-DRM-1110, as well as to evaluate the interpretation and applicability of each requirement. October 2012 Complete $50 Million
4 Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold a Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for ground systems and ascent meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. December 2012 Complete $35 Million
5 Pad Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold a Pad Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the pad abort test article design and test concept of operations. March 2013 Complete $20 Million
6 Human Certification Plan Review. SpaceX will hold a Human Certification Plan Review to present the Human Certification Plan. This Human Certification Plan Review will cover plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems. May 2013 Complete $50 Million
7 On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold an On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS, and entry flight regimes meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. July 2013 Complete $34 Million
7A Delta Ground Systems Preliminary Design Review (PDR). A PDR of the delta ground systems.
July 2013 Complete $1 Million
8 In-Flight Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold an In-Flight Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and test concept of operations. September 2013 Complete $10 Million
9 Safety Review. SpaceX will hold a Safety Review at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to demonstrate that the CTS design is progressing toward meeting the Commercial Crew Program’s safety goals. October 2013 Complete $50 Million
10 Flight Review of Upgraded Falcon 9. SpaceX will conduct a review of a launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle demonstrating the operation of enhanced first-stage M1D engines, stage separation systems, enhanced second-stage MVacD engine and mission-critical vehicle telemetry during flight. Demonstration of the upgraded launch vehicle will serve as a risk reduction for the planned inflight abort test. November 2013 Compete $0
13A Integrated Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). Milestone 13, Integrated Critical Design Review, has been split into four separate milestones. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 Complete $27 Million
15A Dragon Parachute Tests Phases I & II. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15A included a crane drop test. November 2013 Complete $15 Million
15B Dragon Parachute Tests Phases I & II. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15B featured a helicopter drop test. November 2013 Complete $5 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $460 MILLION):
$357 Million
11 Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground. December 2013 3Q 2014 $30 Million
12 Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas. January 2014 2nd Half 2014 $30 Million
13B Ground Systems and Mission Operations Critical Design Review (CDR). Part 2 of the CDR focused on ground systems and mission operations. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 August 2014 $3 Million
13C Crew Vehicle Technical Interchange Meetings. Part 3 of the CDR. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 September 2014 $5 Million
13D Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). The final milestone in the CDR.The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 November 2014 $5 Million
14 In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The in-flight abort test will supplement the pad abort test and complete the corners-of-the-box stress cases. The in-flight abort scenario represents a Dragon abort while under propulsive flight of the launch vehicle during the worst-case dynamic loads on the CTS. April 2014 March 2015 $30 Million
TOTAL: $460 Million

USAF Certifies Three Falcon 9 Flights

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A Falcon 9 carries a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA TV)

A Falcon 9 carries a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA TV)

An announcement from SpaceX:

The Air Force has certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch system as having conducted three successful flights, a prerequisite for companies seeking to win business from the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program.

Under Air Force standards, SpaceX is already qualified to compete for EELV missions, but SpaceX must also be certified by the Air Force before any contract can be awarded to the company. Meeting the criteria for successful flights is a key milestone in the certification process.

SpaceX expects to satisfy the remaining certification requirements later this year.

FAA Approves SpaceX Launch Complex in Texas

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Artist's conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

Artist’s conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved SpaceX’s plan to build a spaceport south of Brownsville, Texas, to launch Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and suborbital rockets.

In its record of decision, the FAA said that while the environmentally preferable alternative would be to reject the application and having nothing constructed in the beachfront area, the option is not in keeping with the agency’s purpose.

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Iridium and SpaceX Successfully Complete Dispenser Qualification Tests

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Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 in flight with the SES-8 satellite. (Credit: SpaceX)

McLEAN, Va., July 3, 2014 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) and SpaceX today announced the successful completion of dispenser qualification testing for the Iridium NEXT constellation. The dispenser is the mission-unique assembly that holds the satellites during launch and manages the perfectly timed separation of each satellite from the rocket, placing each of the satellites into its proper orbit. The testing program, a key milestone in the Iridium NEXT constellation build, included four types of testing on the satellite dispenser: fit check, separation and shock testing, a modal survey, and static loads testing. Overall the tests ensure launch shock environment, mechanical form, fit and function, separation dynamics, fundamental frequency and structural integrity.

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ESA Weighs Ariane 6 Options as Major Satellite Operator Seeks Industry Overhaul, Price Cuts

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

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

Space News reports that ESA is weighing two options for its next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle as Arianespace cuts prices in response to competition from SpaceX. Meanwhile, satellite fleet operator SES is putting pressure on Europe’s launch vehicle industry to quickly reform itself.

A European Space Agency bid-evaluation team is expected to deliver its judgment by July 5 on two different designs for a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket — one it has been examining for about a year, and another it only discovered June 18.

The ESA Tender Evaluation Board’s recommendation will weigh heavily in a debate among a half-dozen European governments most concerned with launch vehicle production. Ministers from France, Germany and Italy are scheduled to meet July 8 in Geneva, at the invitation of the Swiss government, to solidify their own views of which way to go on Ariane 6.

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Inmarsat Books SpaceX Launches

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Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

LONDON, July 2, 2014 (Inmarsat PR) – Inmarsat plc (LSE: ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite services, today announced that it has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for its S-band satellite and up to two further Inmarsat missions. Under the terms of its agreement with SpaceX, Inmarsat expects to use the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, but will retain the possibility of using a Falcon 9 as an alternative, providing further launch flexibility.

Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s Chief Executive Officer said, “We believe that SpaceX has demonstrated tremendous successful progress in its launch capabilities and is now a fully-credible provider of vehicles to support geostationary missions.  We are delighted to be working with SpaceX for the launch of our S-band satellite and other potential future missions for Inmarsat.  In view of capacity constraints in the satellite launch market, Inmarsat believes that securing optionality today is an important business safeguard to mitigate future launch schedule risk.”

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NASA Extends SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Agreements By 7 Months

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nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuit
NASA has signed amendments to their commercial crew agreements with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corporation that give each company an additional seven months to complete flight test milestones on their space vehicles. The deadline is now March 31, 2015, instead of Aug. 31.

The SpaceX amendment will allow additional time for the company to complete an in-flight abort test with its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 booster. The test, which is worth $30 million, is the final of 14 milestones in the current commercial crew round of funding. It was originally scheduled to be completed in April 2014.

Sierra Nevada is being given an extension to no later than March 31, 2015, to conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser lifting body vehicle. The milestone, which is worth $8 million, was originally scheduled for completion in April 2013.

The company conducted an initial drop test of Dream Chaser at Edwards Air Force Base in California in October 2013. The approach went as planned, but the vehicle skidded off the runway after a failure of one of the two main landing gear to deploy properly.

This is the second time NASA has extended the current round of commercial crew funding. The space agency earlier extended the round from May to August 2014 while adding funding for additional milestones for Sierra Nevada and Boeing, which is the third company competing in the program.

NASA has said that it hopes to make a decision on the next round of funding in August. That decision could eliminate one or two of the competing companies.