SpaceX Teams at Vandenberg's California Base in California are preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit Sunday, powered by the re-use of the first phase to fly its third mission, the company's first, while engineers continue to chase off a long-term goal of re-flying on the same rocket at the bottom back.
The main goal is still far from time – spaceX chief executive Elon Mask said in May that the 24-hour missile could take place in 2019, but makes the company's efforts to gradually shorten the time between flights from the same phase.
Hans Kenigman, SpaceX's vice president of Space Construction and Safety, said in October that foxes with Falcon 9 will soon begin to log more flights using the same framework, a step-by-step approach that will make a big leap forward with the Sunday mission from Vandenberg, a military base about 225 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles.
"So far, we have only released booster twice," Koenigman said on October 3 in a speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. "Soon we will start three times with a booster, and then we will take it up to four times, five times, etc., and so on. It's obvious that we are very careful when evaluating the boosters that return for more flights. sure we do not see the devices in the wrong places. "
SpaceX is now launching what it says is the final version of the Falcon 9 – known as Block 5 – which debuted on May 11 with the 39A launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The amplifier that started in that mission – carrying the compass Bangabandhu 1 into orbit for Bangladesh – landed on the SpaceX unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean, returned to Florida for inspection and renovation, and then re-flew on August 7 on a flight from ramp 40 to the adjacent air force Cape Canaveral station with the Indonesian Meera Ways communication spacecraft.
Following the next landing of an aboard drone in the Atlantic, the rocket returned to the shore, and SpaceX transported cross-country to California in preparation for its third flight, now set on Sunday.
The rocket agreement 9 is planned at 10:31:47 on PST (13:31:47 EST, 1831: 47 GMT) from the 4-East Spacecraft Complex at Vandenberg, at the opening of an approximately half-hour launch window. Sixty-four small dogs, sized from Rubik's cube to a refrigerator, are mounted at the top of the rocket, adapting to 17 nations, with customers that include the US Department of Defense, the commercial planet for the planet Earth, universities and art museums.
Spaceflight, a Seattle-based company that launches the launch of small satellites, reserved the full capacity of the Falcon 9 mission in 2015, and then signed contracts with small-sized owners to fill the 575km (575km) ) -synchronous polar orbit.
SpaceX plans to follow the first phase, for the third time, on a drone vessel deployed in the Pacific Ocean off the Vendenberg coast, potentially for a forthcoming fourth launch.
While the new block 5 version of the Falcon 9 rocket introduced changes to make the first phase easier to return and reuse, re-flight of boosters is still a learning process for SpaceX, Koenigman said in October.
"One of the problems is fatigue," he said. "You have to watch the life cycle of the components, they vibrate, basically, and you have to look out for fracture control and make sure that you do not have fractures of those components." It's actually not new, helicopters do it right now. base machines for vibration and, in fact, monitor the number of cycles and know exactly when to go in maintenance or preventive maintenance.
"Something similar is what we can do here on the rocket," Kenigman continued. "Basically, we can record the load of the flight, then log this in the history of the section, and we can understand when a part needs to be exchanged, if it actually needs to be exchanged. Ideally, you do not want to change the parts."
Asked about how well the Block 5 amplifiers are held after each launch, Koenigman said: "I'm actually surprised. Of course, the engines must start with a fairly warm exhaust gas, so placing the engine in the flow (re-entry) should be Well … I'm surprised how well the engines are being maintained There are details We get damage and we made adjustments, I would say It's part of the reason we have these blocks We basically roll in the changes … to improve it At this point, I am actually at personally happy ".
On missions that rock the satellites to a geostationary orbit, located above an altitude of more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) above the Earth, the first phase can reach speeds of over 5,000 miles per hour, subject to more severe re-entry conditions back. For loads designed for a low orbit on Earth, several hundred miles up, the first phase should not travel so fast.
"There are some hotter re-entries, it's still something we're working to improve and make sure," Kenigman said. "In the end, the goal is to take the rocket and move and re-release. We have a goal to start, basically, within two days, and that will be huge if we do it."
"Most of the work is the engine," he said. "We are redesigning the engine, most of which are in fact parts that are not qualified for the next flight, so we are just changing the parts." This is not real damage. It is a preventative maintenance work type, where we know that this section may not we succeed in the next time, so we simply do not take the risk and we replace it. "We have some damage from the blows of things that fly off the heat shield and hit the airfoil." That's pretty much what it is. It's actually not that bad. "
"The aerial coverage is something that basically is the racetrack on the side," he said. "We are looking at the tanks to make sure there are no surprises in the tank, and so far we have found only clean tanks from the inside. We sometimes see damage from the thermal protection system that affects the aerial covers so that they are reinforced to ensure that we are not broke nothing when landing. "
"In terms of renovating and building a new rocket, it's cheaper to renovate," Koenigman said.
"This did not happen overnight," Koenigman said of the reuse efforts. "We have worked on this for many, many years, and we have invested a lot of money there, and that was our own money we put in there."
SpaceX had some financial support, not only from the wealth of Mashk, but also from investing in capital investments and cash infusion from Google. The company's launching activity has also generated money from commercial customers, plus NASA and the US Air Force, which have billions of dollars in contracts with SpaceX.
SpaceX offers discounts on the Falcon 9's selling price of $ 62 million for customers who want to put their satellites on a reusable rocket, or as SpaceX wants to say, a proven booster. In May, Mike said SpaceX then charged about $ 50 million for flights using a previously flooded first phase and expected a "constant reduction in prices," as the company gets experience with re-use of missiles, and how SpaceX pays off what Mask said in the billions of dollars in the ability to recover and re-fly boosters.
In May, Musk said the launch of the Falcon 9 could cost only $ 5 million or $ 6 million for flight within about three years, assuming SpaceX can quickly utilize first stage amplifiers, protective load compartments, and the end Falcon 9 second phase. But after reviewing upgrades to bolster Falcon 9, the second phase of re-entry – travels faster than the first phase and will have to survive higher entry temperatures – Mosk Twitter November 16: "SpaceX no longer plans to upgrade Falcon 9 second phase for reuse. "
He said that in May, about 60 percent of the marginal cost of launching the Falcon 9 comes from the first stage, 20 percent of the second stage, 10 percent of the load on the load – aerodynamic coverage that protects satellites from rushing during driving – and about 10 percent of the processing, testing and assembly of the rocket for the flight.
SpaceX managed to land one of its missiles 31 times after the orbital launch – as early as December 2015 – returning 15-chamber boosters from the edge of the universe and speeds of more than 5,000 km / h (nearly 2.3 kilometers per second). The company re-used a rocket 17 times so far, starting in March 2017.
Thirty-six missions were launched by SpaceX, as the company continued to fly in January 2017, following the rak of the Falcon 9 rapeseed last September. The record of the company from returning to flight almost two years ago is perfect, after two failures in 2015 and 2016 – one in flight and one on the ramp – resulted in the destruction of a ship to supply a space station and a communications satellite owned by Israel.
The mission will mark the 64th flight of the 9th rocket with full rationality on Sunday, as the first version of the SpaceX work chamber debuted in June 2010. If the SSO-A mission goes well, SpaceX aims to follow it by launching a brand new Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday with another cargo flight heading to the space station.
"There is additional benefit or side-effect, besides the economy of reuse," Koenigman said. "And that's basically you see a booster after the flight, and you can find things you would not see differently. You can see where things are leaking or where the heat comes, or something like that. You may find loose joints that were tight before you need to protect them more.This kind of thing is actually incredibly valuable to make a more reliable rocket.You can actually test it.
"If you do not know what's going on, you can just put GoPro in place and watch it during the launch. That's what we're doing, we just pull it out and watch it and go, okay, it seems it's in telemetry is usually limited by bandwidth We only announce telemetry locally, in each case, and we get all the data for fast traffic precisely from a solid state in the basis of the vehicle, and use it to look at all the loads that the vehicle sees, all the data that is important to us and try to improve the vehicle based on that data.
"So it's not just the economic part," he said. "There's a part that interests me. My job is security, and reliability has a huge benefit of reuse."
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