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Falcon 9R First Flight Test

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posted on Apr, 18 2014 @ 10:24 PM
Really cool technology and video. The aim is to make the first stage of a Falcon 9 be reusable, so instead of letting it break up as it reenters the denser parts of the atmosphere, it will instead land vertically. This should reduce launch costs.

Video of Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) taking its first test flight at our rocket development facility. F9R lifts off from a launch mount to a height of approximately 250m, hovers and then returns for landing just next to the launch stand. Early flights of F9R will take off with legs fixed in the down position. However, we will soon be transitioning to liftoff with legs stowed against the side of the rocket and then extending them just before landing.

The F9R testing program is the next step towards reusability following completion of the Grasshopper program last year (Grasshopper can be seen in the background of this video). Future testing, including that in New Mexico, will be conducted using the first stage of a F9R as shown here, which is essentially a Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage with legs. F9R test flights in New Mexico will allow us to test at higher altitudes than we are permitted for at our test site in Texas, to do more with unpowered guidance and to prove out landing cases that are more-flight like.

edit on 18/4/14 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 19 2014 @ 01:14 AM
a reply to: C0bzz
I think this is old news, there is an even higher test flight video that is pretty cool. My question is where are they putting the fuel for a trip to space then back down again? Shuttle needed those boosters and tank, this would need more fuel I imagine. Still a very cool step, and a step forward. Where will this go? Hopefully to the stars!

posted on Apr, 19 2014 @ 05:07 AM
a reply to: SixX18

This flight test involved what is more or less the first stage of an actual Falcon 9 rocket. It happened recently, check the date on YouTube. The earlier test flights were with a much smaller vehicle called Grasshopper. At first they only want to bring back the first stage of the two stage rocket, but obviously this will have some performance impact since some of the fuel in the first-stage will instead have to go to landing.
edit on 19/4/14 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 19 2014 @ 06:02 AM
a reply to: C0bzz

This short jump is all very well, but I fail entirely to see how this technique could be applied in a post re-entry scenario. Entering the atmosphere with the rocket motor facing the planet would make for a non-optimal profile being acted upon by the friction of re-entering the atmosphere, but penetrating the atmosphere nose first would lead to speed of descent being too high to enact a turning manoeuvre, to bring the rocket motor into the correct alignment to achieve safe landing.

I cannot understand why they do not just forget the traditional rocket in its entirety, and begin to focus on the idea of a space plane, capable of lifting off from a runway, exiting the atmosphere, and re-entering it, without discarding any part of the vessel, and landing in a more sedate fashion. Sitting crew and payload atop a giant bomb is positively Stone Age thinking, and unless we get right away from that sort of so called innovation, the process of getting to and from space will become an anachronism, rather than being the gateway to the future that it ought to be.

posted on Apr, 20 2014 @ 04:16 AM
a reply to: TrueBrit

Entering the atmosphere with the rocket motor facing the planet would make for a non-optimal profile being acted upon by the friction of re-entering the atmosphere

The first stage doesn't actually reach orbital velocities, so it won't encounter the stresses of a for example, the former space shuttle when it reentered the atmosphere. I'm not sure about the exact details but I think the rocket will rotate almost immediately after second stage separation where the atmosphere is extremely thin, so it's descends tail-first and will then make minor course adjustments to reach the landing site (which will be downrange).

While writing this post, I ran a search to see how it's supposed to be done, and found that they actually did somewhat of a test of this with the last Falcon 9 v1.1 launch:

SpaceX achieves controlled landing of Falcon 9 first stage

The first stage was supposed to fire its engines twice after separating from the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage less than 3 minutes after liftoff Friday. The first burn was expected to slow the rocket's velocity enough to fall into a prescribed landing zone in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral, and a second firing was to have allowed the rocket to gently settle into the sea.

and begin to focus on the idea of a space plane, capable of lifting off from a runway, exiting the atmosphere, and re-entering it

The problem is a space-plane is extremely difficult to design and build, as it requires extremely efficient engines, that are often required to be air-breathing, and an extremely high fuel fraction. Given the amount of fuel required, the crew is going to be sitting on a bomb either way. The overall result is likely going to be a vehicle that is extremely expensive to build and maintain. The Space Shuttle was the closest vehicle to a space-plane and is a perfect example. It was extremely uneconomical to build and operate, not particularly safe, and never came close to the programs original goals.

One space-plane under development is Skylon, but as far as I can tell it hasn't really amounted to anything usable yet and still needs development.

Skylon is a design for a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane by the British company Reaction Engines Limited (REL). A fleet of such vehicles is envisaged, using SABRE, a combined-cycle, air-breathing rocket propulsion system, with a designed re-usability up to 200 flights each. In paper studies, the cost per kilogram of payload carried to low earth orbit in this way is hoped to be reduced from the current £15,000/kg (as of 2011),[3] including research and development, to around £650/kg, with costs expected to fall much more over time after initial expenditures have amortised.

Aside: It wouldn't surprise me if Skylon was less safe than a conventional rocket, the payload bay is not on top of a giant bomb, rather it is essentially sandwiched between two giant bombs, somewhat like the Space Shuttle was (which is what caused the loss of the Challenger). A conventional rocket can on the other hand have an effective escape mechanism. Skylon is also more complex and needs an extremely weight efficient design. I suppose since it's partially air-breathing it doesn't need as much oxidizer, so that helps.

SpaceX has already reduced the cost of launching things into space rather significantly through an efficient organisation and simple design - with further gains to be made by scaling the launch vehicles up and making them partially reusable. So, if we haven't even mastered simple rockets let alone the organisations that build and operate them - then attempting to go with an extremely complex space-plane that has innate engineering difficulties, seems like something that while it has merit for the distant future, cannot possibly considered be an alternative to disposable or partially reusable rockets like Falcon 9 R.
edit on 20/4/14 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 20 2014 @ 04:30 AM
Holy smoke batman! That's the most awesome batrecording I have ever seen. Can I fly it next?

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