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Thread: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

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    Thumbs up Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...



    I saw some interesting "tweets" from SpaceX's CEO, Elon Musk, a bit ago. If this turns out to as be as good as it sounds, this is huge..

    SpaceX has been working on reusing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket via the "grasshopper" program that I have posted about a few times over the last year or two. I'll post some videos of that at the end of the post as well. They are basically trying to re-ignite the first stage engine as it falls back to earth in order to perform a soft landing/reuse of the rocket. In the past these have always either burned up on the way down or been destroyed when they hit the ocean (true for all rocket manufacturers, not just SpaceX). Elon's analogy for this has basically been that it's comparable to having to buy a new plane every time you fly from NY to LA. If they can re-use it, it's just the cost of the fuel/maintenance that becomes important. The up front cost of the rocket gets split over many flights, thus is much smaller per launch than today.

    The first landings are planned over ocean, then they'll eventually move to soft landings on land as they get better at it. The ultimate goal is to be able to launch, land, refuel and relaunch in a very short time span (hours, not days)... HUGE cost savings here if they can re-use the first stage, even if it takes some work to look it over before reuse.

    Today they gave it a shot after having tried a time or two before on previous flights. This time it looks like they very well may have pulled it off from the information currently available.

    Here is a summary of Elon's tweets for the day:

    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 5h ago
    Orbit insertion and Dragon deploy all good. Falcon reentry burn also good. Waiting for landing data from tracking plane.
    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 4h ago
    Last known state for rocket boost stage is 360 m/s, Mach 1.1, 8.5 km altitude and roll rate close to zero (v important!)
    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 1h ago
    Data upload from tracking plane shows landing in Atlantic was good! Several boats enroute through heavy seas.
    Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 1h ago
    Flight computers continued transmitting for 8 seconds after reaching the water. Stopped when booster went horizontal.
    -----------------

    Also Here are some videos of past "grasshopper" test flights and it's progression from "hopping" to full fledged going way up/over and going way back down/over and landing dead on. These are not full fledged attempts obviously, just ground tests with a smaller test rig.

    Test Videos showing progression of capabilities... I'm not able to post these as videos so please follow the links to take a look at them (only allowed one video per post)

    Grasshopper takes it's first hop
    Grasshopper Takes Its First Hop / 9-21-12 - YouTube

    Grasshopper takes a big leap
    SpaceX Grasshopper Makes a Big Leap - Multiple Camera Views | ISS Resupply Video - YouTube

    250m "leap"
    Grasshopper's Big 250 Meter Leap - Drone View | SpaceX Rocket Science Full HD - YouTube

    Grasshopper divert maneuver (most impressive IMO)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4edoIbvJNY

    744m flight from hexacopter
    Grasshopper 744m Test | Single Camera (Hexacopter) - YouTube

    Falcon 9R First Test
    Last edited by Caparris; 04-19-2014 at 02:15 AM.
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Very impressive. Plus the payload to the ISS contains numerous experiment packages(150!) plus four special video camera's that will be tested by having those cams viewable online. The same cams will be exposed to the harsh conditions of space but will be also "inside" the station. On top of that is a new VEGGIE system to be tested that will hopefully produce fresh orbital greens for consumption with another robotic system to test out also. Busy time coming up there:

    SpaceX-3 launches science cargo to International Space Station -- ScienceDaily

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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Very impressive.

    But the dream of having a recovered first stage be reused within hours is unrealistic. That was the theory behind the space shuttle, and look how that turned out. In spite of having engines that were specifically (and very expensively) designed for multiple reuse, they had to be stripped down and rebuilt after every flight. It is hard to see how one can avoid that, considering the conditions and stresses that rocket motors are subjected to.
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithBC View Post
    Very impressive.

    But the dream of having a recovered first stage be reused within hours is unrealistic. That was the theory behind the space shuttle, and look how that turned out. In spite of having engines that were specifically (and very expensively) designed for multiple reuse, they had to be stripped down and rebuilt after every flight. It is hard to see how one can avoid that, considering the conditions and stresses that rocket motors are subjected to.
    Very possible you are correct.. I'm no aerospace engineer by any means (although I went to school with a few I suppose), but I would argue that if anyone can do it, Elon Musk/SpaceX can. That guy is nuts. I have a friend that works for him out at Tesla (not direct or anything) that loves it

    We shall see. Pretty cool to watch a rocket go up and back down for a landing regardless
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Quote Originally Posted by Caparris View Post
    Pretty cool to watch a rocket go up and back down for a landing regardless
    I agree. I kept looking for evidence that the video was faked or something. But after watching the video many times I have to conclude it is a real launch and landing. Especially how the landing legs start smoking during the descent. Awesome!

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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Quote Originally Posted by Solrian View Post
    I agree. I kept looking for evidence that the video was faked or something. But after watching the video many times I have to conclude it is a real launch and landing. Especially how the landing legs start smoking during the descent. Awesome!
    me too at first.. but it's def. real!
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    They confirmed the soft landing today at a press conference:
    SpaceX achieves a first: bringing booster to soft landing on Earth - CSMonitor.com

    Also, they are suing to stop the air force's contract with ULA for 36 launches at some sort of ridiculously absurd price with zero competition.
    SpaceX sues to block contract award for military satellite launches

    "This is not SpaceX protesting and saying that these launches should be awarded to us. We're just saying these launches should be competed," he told reporters. "If we compete and lose, that's fine. But why would they not even compete it? That just doesn't make sense."
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    Couple of recent developments:

    -SpaceX filed a lawsuit against ULA and was granted an injunction for it's lack of bidding on a massive block buy of launches that were not competed. It looks like it was granted based on the fact that they (ULA) are using Russian engines and it could be benefiting someone in Russia ("Rogozin") that has sanctions against him if I understand it correctly. i.e. ULA can't send money to Russia that may benefit him. Basically ULA is charging somewhere around $400M per launch while SpaceX can do it for something around 25-30% of that they estimate. Their base price is more like $70M for a launch but obviously the military's requirements are higher than a normal launch, so they expect the prices to be higher than a normal launch for sure.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astro...overnment.html

    -They released confirmation that the 1st stage return from the last launch was indeed successful. The video quality is horrible, but they posted the original feed online, although it's pretty useless (video at the top of the page here SpaceX Video Captures Grainy View of Amazing Reusable Rocket Landing Test | Space.com)

    -Released a 1000m test flight video of F9R that I found quite impressive
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    Default Re: Soft landing of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket...

    That is impressive and fun to watch, but how practical is it when the rocket is using tremendous amounts of fuel? I can only see that happening if the ingredients for making rocket fuel is found on the moon.
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