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Falcon 9 Is Now Fully Integrated At Cape Canaveral

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the neither-cape-ann-nor-cape-cod dept.

Space 82

RobGoldsmith writes "SpaceX's Falcon 9 is now fully integrated: an update from Elon Musk states 'Falcon 9 is now fully integrated at the Cape! Today we mated the 5.2 m payload fairing to the Falcon 9 first stage. This was the final step in the integration process — one day ahead of schedule.' New images are now available showing the first fully integrated Falcon 9 Rocket. Once the launch mount and erector are complete, SpaceX will transfer Falcon 9 on to the erector and raise it to vertical early in 2009."

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Out of order? (5, Funny)

Paladin_Krone (635912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297331)

I thought it was proper to erect first, then integrate?

Re:Out of order? (1)

SonicEarth (1246632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297589)

FALCON PUUUUNCCHHH!!

Re:Out of order? (3, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297819)

50 years of design and the best shape that rocket scientists can come up with is penis shaped?

Re:Out of order? (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297879)

50 years of design and the best shape that rocket scientists can come up with is penis shaped?

There is a reason for that [pierretristam.com] .

Re:Out of order? (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304485)

Brilliant story, thanks for the link.

Re:Out of order? (5, Funny)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298133)

50 years of design and the best shape that rocket scientists can come up with is penis shaped?

They experimented with a vagina based design but none of the rocket scientist nerds could figure out how to make it work.

Not to mention the fact... (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26300271)

Not to mention the fact that the vagina-based designs cost a lot more.

Re:Out of order? (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304573)

There are plenty of how-tos and tutorial videos on the net. Er, or so my friends tell me.

Re:Out of order? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26298965)

Actually, they have now moved on to dildo shapes [google.com] .

Re:Out of order? (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297871)

I thought it was proper to erect first, then integrate?

Well thats how NASA does it anyway.

Re:Out of order? (3, Insightful)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299191)

Not really, Russia builds its rockets lying down. At one point, and i've not checked to see if they still use it, there integration building was a mile long. and honestly, its easier that way, as you don't have to lift heavy pieces as high, and then place then with precision. you just lift them a *little* and then place them with precision.

Re:Out of order? (3, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299267)

The R-7 rocket and its descendants the the Russians developed was designed to be assembled on its side because it was easier to assemble the final rocket that way. The only downside to this method is you need big and heavy rigs to move the rocket to the vertical launch position (if you've seen the launch pads at the Baikanour cosmodrome they have a lot of erecting machinery at the launch pad to move the rocket to the vertical position).

That's why for the Saturn V rocket, NASA decided to assemble the rocket vertically, but that needed a very large building to do this, hence the very tall Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) not only to accommodate the height of the rocket but the overhead cranes to lift the various rocket components.

Re:Out of order? (1)

guitarswinger (1393493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311341)

VAB stands for VEHICLE Assembly Building.

Re:Out of order? (1)

waveformwafflehouse (1221950) | more than 5 years ago | (#26300145)

They can do whatever they Falcon want.

Spam (4, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297339)

Once the launch mount and erector are complete, SpaceX will transfer Falcon 9 on to the erector and raise it to vertical early in 2009.

Sounds like some spam I've been getting.

Re:Spam (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297403)

Getting vertical early in 09? That's some slow acting stuff! Better than what I get, though, mine just talks about mating with a 5.2 m payload in the first stage.

It's a space salesman race! (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297361)

Will Elon Musk, second in reality distortion only to Steve Jobs, be able to convince the new president and congress to cancel Ares I / Orion in favor of Falcon 9 / Dragon, even though it's pretty much guaranteed to wipe out a network of pork barrel projects that ensured NASA's funding built up since the sixties? If so, will we be four launches deep into the campaign with nothing to show for the Falcon 9 / Dragon effort in 2015? If not, will Elon & co shrug and sell endless DragonLab missions to the open market, thus actually delivering on the promise that the Space Shuttle was built with (cheap cost/lb to orbit so that anybody can just buy some lab time instead of needing to buy off politicians and political appointees)?

Things might actually get interesting.

Or maybe that volcano in Yellowstone will blow up tomorrow and we'll never find out.

Either way, SpaceX engineers are so studly that they don't need to get erect before they can mount and *cough* integrate!

Re:It's a space salesman race! (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297383)

I think there is an opportunity for a small aerospace firm (Scaled?) to build a capsule similar to Gemini, or a small Apollo. Maybe you could sell single use capsules for a million bucks a go, ready to integrate with a Falcon 9.

I also think it should be possible to build an ultra light capsule to fly on a Falcon 1. The mass budget is about 500kg which should be enough in this day and age.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (3, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297473)

Um, SpaceX is also working on their own capsule, called the Dragon, to be launched atop the Falcon 9.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26299381)

And it seats 7, not 1.
 
Imagine sending one person up on the 9. Funny thing is, that would have the same costs/seat as the Souyz and still less than the shuttle.

Vertical but not launced (2, Interesting)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297515)

It seems like I heard Musk say a couple months ago that they're thinking they might launch Falcon 9 this summer. I think maybe this whole thing about integrating it by the end of the year and putting vertical on the launch pad are all about meeting certain milestones to get money from their NASA contract. I think they've got to take it down and finish getting everything ready before they launch. They may be waiting on NASA to get a payload together. Notice that the web site gives no suggestion about a launch date. The "launch manifest" has an asterisk that gives the strange definition of "target date" as "Target dates are for vehicle arrival at launch site".

Re:Vertical but not launced (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297625)

Why would they be waiting on NASA for a payload? This is the Falcon 9 demonstration flight. It'll be launching a payload simulator, just like the last Falcon 1 flight was. If you look at that exact same page you will see that the NASA demonstration flights are not until the 4th Falcon 9 launch.

Re:Vertical but not launced (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297747)

I didn't notice that the NASA COTS launches weren't going to be the first. Maybe I misinterpreted what he said. Maybe he was saying the NASA launches would be in the Summer, not the first launch. Wow I also didn't realize that they're planning five Falcon 9 launches this year along with two Falcon 1 launches! They're ramping up quick!

I think they should launch some cheap bulk supplies on the test flight instead of a dummy load. Maybe a large quantity of oxygen for the space station or even just some water or something.

Re:Vertical but not launced (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297939)

I expect they've cut a deal with someone for that ballast. There's lots of people who are willing to "hitch a ride to orbit" no matter how low the odds are of the vehicle making it. Not that I think this launch will fail.. but, ya know, it'll be fun to watch either way :)

Actually (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299457)

I am more interested in seeing if they recover this rocket. IIRC, they have not been able to recover the falcon I's. I am surprised that they do not choose to launch several more 1's and get the recovery correct. But have to make the 2010 deadline.

On a side note, I do wish that he would pull in a partner or two and get the escape tower built. It would be nice to see human rated by the time the shuttle is over.

Re:Actually (1)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26308065)

I noticed another comment that makes me think they are not going to launch right away. On their update page for December 29 they say "Whether measured by weight or by cost, the majority of the Falcon 9 being assembled is actual flight hardware." I guess if some of it isn't actual flight hardware then then they're going to have to take it apart and put it back together again before flying.

They've admitted that the first stages have been burning up (or at least getting overcooked). Last I heard Musk said they were trying to come up with a workable heat shielding system. I don't think the Falcon 1 first stages they've launched have had any heat shielding.

There are two problems I can't think of any easy solution for. The first is which end do you put the main shield. The engine is the heavy end of the empty booster so it will tend to come down first. But how would you make a lightweight and strong system to swing a shield into place below the engine? Or do you get the engine out of the way somehow or what? Musk was saying that they're planning to put the shield at the top of the stage and they're thinking about some aerodynamic system to get the lightweight end of the booster to come down first and the heavy end to trail. The second problem is that even if you can shield the end without too much weight, you might have to put heat shielding all the way up the sides as well. You could probably put lighter shielding on the sides but it might still add up to too much weight. It might not take very much heat on the sides to distemper the metal and leave your tanks too weak for a second flight.

Re:Vertical but not launched (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26332289)

Amateur radio satellites [amsat.org] have a long and successful history of exactly that - being smart ballast for other launches. As long as our sat is the right size and weight and passes flight worthiness tests, we get to replace the chunks of concrete or whatever else they were going to use.

Our newest birds are large enough to require their own launch, so we've got to come up with $LOTS_OF_MONEY to launch the big birds.

Not Reusable (3, Insightful)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297687)

Reusability isn't mentioned on their Falcon 9 page anymore. I originally got excited about SpaceX because I thought reusability would be the breakthrough in space launch we need. But unfortunately Musk said they haven't come up with a way to protect the boosters from reentry yet. They're looking at aerodynamic methods to keep the heat shielded top of the booster coming down first. Some engineers say they're crazy to think they can make them reusable.

But even if they can't get them reusable, I think it would be a great advance if they can just make them 1/4 or even 1/2 the cost. I don't think Musk started SpaceX because he thought it was the best way to make money. He probably did it in part for the fun of it, but I think primarily he's truly driven to make it cheaper. Falcon 1 has proven Musk a capable entrepreneur. I hope so much that he can get Falcon 9 into orbit.

Re:Not Reusable (2, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297703)

I think he was quite smart in designing the Falcon boosters for reuse but not actually building that into the business model, leaving it as an eventual improvement.

Especially given that he has yet to recover any Falcon 1 first stages, even though they were supposed to be reused.

Re:Not Reusable (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297839)

Reusability isn't mentioned on their Falcon 9 page anymore. I originally got excited about SpaceX because I thought reusability would be the breakthrough in space launch we need.

They have something much better than reusability. They have repeatability in the sense that they can do incremental development with less regression between versions than other rocket builders.

Re:Not Reusable (2, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298047)

What continues to amaze me about the SpaceX folk is not really the technology and engineering anymore, although that is impressive. What is great about their organization is the project management. They continually deliver on their claims on time (or ahead of schedule) and mostly stick to the budget. They are making steady steps toward being a massive player like Lockheed. Very few companies run this smoothly.

Re:Not Reusable (1)

mark99 (459508) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298089)

I love SpaceX, and think they are doing a great job, but I don't know where you got this idea that they continually deliver on their claims on time. If NASA of the 60's had a SpaceX kind of record we would have landed on the moon in something like 1979, not 1969.

Some examples are the 3 Falcon 1 failures and this annoncment from 2005; http://www.spacequest.com/Articles/The%20SpaceX%20Falcon%20Will%20Challenge%20Orbital%20Sciences%20.doc/ [spacequest.com]

However I can only agree that SpaceX seems far superior to the rest of the NASA/Aerospace complex who aren't even willing to look at an idea without spending 100s of million's first.

Re:Not Reusable (1)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298203)

I don't think Musk started SpaceX because he thought it was the best way to make money. He probably did it in part for the fun of it, but I think primarily he's truly driven to make it cheaper. Falcon 1 has proven Musk a capable entrepreneur. I hope so much that he can get Falcon 9 into orbit.

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

In 2001, Musk had plans for a "Mars Oasis" project, which would land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith. He put this project on hold when he discovered that launch costs would dwarf the mission development and construction costs for the project, and decided to work on lowering launch costs by founding SpaceX. His long term goal is that SpaceX helps humanity become a true spacefaring civilization.

Re:Not Reusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26299741)

Reusability is a means, not an end. Cheaper access to space is the end. Hopefully that's what SpaceX can achieve.

Re:Not Reusable (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26302395)

Actually, if you read the "Falcon Luner Capability Guide" linked at the top of the Falcon 9 Page, there's the line "Missions to Trans Lunar Injection will have an additional charge of $10M since the second stage is nonrecoverable." (Page 8, section 3.3.4).

Seems to be a minor detail, but does still hint to the Falcon9 as being re-usable.

Re:Not Reusable (1)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304953)

I originally got excited about SpaceX because I thought reusability would be the breakthrough in space launch we need.

You're about 20 years behind, there. The big lesson of the Space Shuttle is that reusability isn't the holy grail we thought it would be.

In some cases, recycling makes sense. But sometimes, a reuseable spacecraft is as bad an idea as a reuseable condom -- and for pretty much the same reasons.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (5, Interesting)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297409)

If the Ares I design is to be replaced, it would be by the Delta IV Heavy, not the Falcon 9 Heavy. The Delta IV Heavy is already flying, its payload fairing size is an almost perfect fit for the Orion spacecraft, and it uses the RS-68s that are planned to be used on the Ares V. NASA would also be extremely skeptical of the Falcon 9 Heavy because it would be using a total of 27 Merlin engines in its first stage! The failures of the N1 rocket (with 30 engines) would make any high engine rocket a tough sell. The Falcon 9 may work, but I'd be very surprised if the Falcon 9 Heavy is ever built. Man-rating a rocket like that would be well-nigh impossible.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (4, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297453)

Please read my comment again.

I said Ares I / Orion replaced by the Falcon 9 / Dragon. Not the Falcon 9 Heavy being used to lift the Ares I.

And actually, it's not even necessary to launch the Ares I design on the Delta IV Heavy, just an Atlas V [selenianboondocks.com] , according to some.

I suspect there's a longer-term plan to swap out the 9 Merlins on the bottom of the Falcon 9 with two bigger rockets. Except that nobody inside of SpaceX is going to breathe a word about it until the right time.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297995)

Jon Goff is a great rocketry blogger. He pushes the orbital propellant depot hard and this is why. Once you have it going, it boosts the capabilities of your launch infrastructure considerably. Since you no longer have to launch fuel with lunar missions, you can fit a lot more vehicle on smaller rockets. The Ariane 5 is another rocket that can carry an unfueled Orion or propellant. Another important aspect is that this approach is highly scalable. You can use the same tricks to fuel other big missions, manned or not. It's a shame that NASA has done almost nothing with this concept.

I suspect there's a longer-term plan to swap out the 9 Merlins on the bottom of the Falcon 9 with two bigger rockets. Except that nobody inside of SpaceX is going to breathe a word about it until the right time.

It would be a natural continuation in the sequence of engine designs they've done. My take is that they're focusing on launching falcon 9 right now. They need that to go well. But there's no reason they couldn't have bigger engines on the drawing board.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299425)

Why all know that they are thinking that way. Elon has spoken of the BFR a number of times 5 years ago. In addition, he has constantly pointed out that their test site is BUILT for it (though I do not think that the neighboring towns are going to care for it).

Re:It's a space salesman race! (5, Interesting)

strack (1051390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297581)

yes, the falcon 9 heavy *does* use 27 engines in total. thats the freaking point. if a any one of the few engines on a delta IV fails, the rocket is a goner. if a engine, or even a few, fail on the falcon 9, it can still complete its mission, the other engines just have to burn a bit longer. its engine redundancy, in the fine tradition of rockets like the saturn 5, which had no failures, despite a engine failure mid-flight on apollo 13.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297645)

Rocket engines are not like RAID arrays. Actually, engines in general are not like RAID arrays. That's why single engined aircraft have fewer problems than twin engined aircraft of the same size.

Getting 30 rocket engines all running at exactly the same power level, etc. and feeding them with fuel and oxidizers was one of the reasons blamed for the N1's failure. The real problem was that they never spent the same level of money as America did on the Saturn V, but it's soured people on too many engines on a single stage.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297863)

yes, well that was 30 engines on a rocket much larger than falcon 9. 40 years ago. i imagine control systems have come some way since then.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (2, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26303567)

The N1 had several problems. Namely they did not do much testing. This was due to budget and time schedule pressures. The engines [wikipedia.org] were very advanced, working at extreme pressures for their time and had teething problems (they were the first staged-combustion LOX/Kerosene engines ever made, the USA still has not made one native LOX/Kerosene engine even today, the only staged-combustion USA engine is the Space Shuttle Main Engine which uses the easier to get working LOX/Hydrogen combination). The engine designer was used to making aviation engines rather than rocket engines which did not help either. It took another iteration to get the engine working properly. So engines exploded a lot more than they should, setting off a chain reaction in the whole structure. Then manufacturing defects in piping meant it had catastrophic vibration issues, leading to broken pipes not to mention things like loose bolts due to shoddy quality control getting into the fuel intakes and so on. Last but not least, they decided midway along testing to completely change the control system with an analog computer which was bugged and took a long time in fixing. In short, each test flight was flying a completely different vehicle, making it hard to isolate and fix issues.

Compare that with SpaceX which did a separate 9 engine first stage testing with a full burn prior to launch and uses more advanced digital flight control systems and you see the problem is not quite the same. Heck, the Saturn I did not have any launch failures, and it used 8 first stage engines [wikipedia.org] .

Re:It's a space salesman race! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297929)

Their rocket is designed to handle multiple engine failure and still reach orbit. Its on their website.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (2, Informative)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298113)

if a engine, or even a few, fail on the falcon 9, it can still complete its mission, the other engines just have to burn a bit longer.

The failure(s) on the N1 [wikimedia.org] was in the complex pipework leading to the 30 engines. This caused the whole rocket to fail (3 or 4 times IIRC - the Wikipedia article has more details).

Also even if a engine itself fails, you have to remember that the failure is not necessarily a clean shutdown, but likely a large explosion, taking out adjacent engines.

Rich.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (3, Informative)

Spotticus (1356631) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299369)

The failures of the N1 were more related to lack of sufficient funding, poor quality control and lack of any test stands (The first time the N1 fired it's 30 engines was during its first flight attempt). There was nothing inherently flawed in the approach they Soviet's took, it's just that the engineers were forced to do it on the cheap The first flight failed due to the engine control system shutting down all engines on the first stage after a problem was detected with one of the engines (an engine fire). Second flight was almost the same problem, except one of the first state engines exploded after it ingested a wrench that someone left in the fuel line. During the third flight an unexpected interaction between the engine thrust and prevailing winds resulted in a roll that exceeded the command authority of the rocket and it broke up. The Last flight almost successfully completed it's first stage burn, but a few seconds before shutdown the N1 was designed to shutdown 6 engines to keep thrust within design limits. The shutdown resulted in unexpected pressure transients, the fuel lines ruptured and the vehicle broke up.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (2, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26301255)

Also even if a engine itself fails, you have to remember that the failure is not necessarily a clean shutdown, but likely a large explosion, taking out adjacent engines.

Falcon 9's design includes armored enclosures for the engines, to keep them from taking out their neighbors if they blow up.

I agree that 27 is a whole lot of engines, but if you're going to cite the N1, you'd better also mention Soyuz, which has 32ish engines firing at launch, depending on how you count, and is one of the most reliable man-rated vehicles out there.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (3, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26301473)

32 chambers, not engines. Not the same thing.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (2, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304703)

Like I said, "depending on how you count": counting engines on shared-turbopump engines like Soyuz is a little tricky.

Still, any way you count, Soyuz has a ridiculously large number of "parts with fire in them that could explode", which is the key parameter here, and it seems to do just fine.

In fact, since Falcon 9 heavy can lose one or more turbopumps and keep going, a failure mode that would doom a Soyuz, you could claim that Falcon might be *more* reliable.

Yes, it's ridiculous to compare the reliability of vehicles which haven't even been built yet with historical hardware, but that's my whole point here. When it comes to launch failure, the devil's in the details, and IMO the reliability of Falcon 9 heavy will depend a lot more on getting the details right than on how many engines it has.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26332333)

I've launched single stage Estes-powered rockets with that many D engines. I can say with some certainty that it was a spectacular (and deadly to a few tomato plants) failure.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304641)

if a engine, or even a few, fail on the falcon 9, it can still complete its mission,

That's not entirely true, is it? It's only true for failure modes where the lost engine just shuts down. If a pressure pipe lets go or propellant leaks or, well, any of the hundreds of other failure modes that lead to a very big bang and bright light in the sky, the entire vehicle's toast, just as with more conventional designs.

Re:It's a space salesman race! (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297595)

Only slight problem being that Boeing are not interested in selling NASA the Delta IV Heavy at the price NASA wants to pay. They had their chance to bid on ISS resupply and they turned their nose up at it because it wasn't a cost plus contract.

   

Erecting the Falcon 9 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297375)

One could say that Elon Musk is just about to have his first erection. Good for him!

Re:Erecting the Falcon 9 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297405)

One could say that Elon Musk is just about to have his first erection. Good for him!

I don't know who Elon Musk is, but this is the first comment that I've understood.

SAY IT ISN"T SO BATMAN (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297419)

HOLY FUCKING FIRST POST!!! SCHWEETTT

#
Spam (Score:3, Funny)
by Jurily (900488) on Friday January 02, @01:15AM (#26297339)

Once the launch mount and erector are complete, SpaceX will transfer Falcon 9 on to the erector and raise it to vertical early in 2009.

Sounds like some spam I've been getting.

Reply to This

        * 1 hidden comment

        *
                    o
*

#
It's a space salesman race! (Score:2)
by cmowire (254489)

Will Elon Musk, second in reality distortion only to Steve Jobs, be able to convince the new president and congress to cancel Ares I / Orion in favor of Falcon 9 / Dragon, even though it's pretty much guaranteed to wipe out a network of pork barrel projects that ensured NASA's funding built up since the sixties? If so, will we be four launches deep into the campaign with nothing to show for the Falcon 9 / Dragon effort in 2015? If not, will Elon & co shrug and sell endless DragonLab missions to the op

        *

        *
            Re: (Score:2)
            by MichaelSmith (789609)
            I think there is an opportunity for a small aerospace firm (Scaled?) to build a capsule similar to Gemini, or a small Apollo. Maybe you could sell single use capsules for a million bucks a go, ready to integrate with a Falcon 9.

            I also think it should be possible to build an ultra light capsule to fly on a Falcon 1. The mass budget is about 500kg which should be enough in this day and age.
                    o
        *
            Re: (Score:1)
            by Aglassis (10161)

            If the Ares I design is to be replaced, it would be by the Delta IV Heavy, not the Falcon 9 Heavy. The Delta IV Heavy is already flying, its payload fairing size is an almost perfect fit for the Orion spacecraft, and it uses the RS-68s that are planned to be used on the Ares V. NASA would also be extremely skeptical of the Falcon 9 Heavy because it would be using a total of 27 Merlin engines in its first stage! The failures of the N1 rocket (with 30 engines) would make any high engine rocket a tough sell

Information.com Considered Harmful (0, Offtopic)

linuxmeepster (1383107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297495)

From the article summary, did anyone notice that RobGoldsmith's website ( spacefellowship.com ) is an Information.com spam site? Looks like someone forgot to renew their domain name...

Re:Information.com Considered Harmful (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297763)

Heh, I wonder how much they paid for the "powerful" domain name of information.com. Do people still type watches.com when they want to find watches online?

Re:Information.com Considered Harmful (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297821)

Do people still type watches.com when they want to find watches online?

Yes, but into the google search field.

Interesting Question (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297549)

Here's a question for those of you who know more about the details of space engineering than I: One of the changes made to the STS during the early days of flight was that the main tank was left unpainted. This gave the Shuttle launch stack its trademark rust-orange color. By making this simple change, NASA realized they could shave off hundreds of tons of launch weight, thereby increasing available payload. (Not that the shuttle ever used it, but that's another issue.)

Yet I can't help but notice the shine of a fresh coat of pain on the Falcon rocket. They even went through the trouble of stenciling "SpaceX" in large letters along the length of the craft. Is there any particular engineering reason why rockets are still covered in paint, or is this entirely an aesthetics issue?

Re:Interesting Question (3, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297573)

Oh, no, the shuttle did take advantage of the weight. It's just not hundreds of tons. And they needed to make the tank even lighter to send the ISS up.

I suspect the big reason why the shuttle tank's paint took up so much weight is that the paint is going on rough insulation, not a slick metal skin. And the tank is also fairly huge, given it holds liquid hydrogen.

So I suspect that the weight cost for painting something like the Falcon 9 isn't nearly as bad, given it's an aluminum skin. And there may be some engineering reasons too.

Actually, the pain ways alot (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26299665)

American Airlines used to fully paint their birds. Back in the oil crisis of late 70's, crandell asked employees how to save money. My dad was one of the pilots who suggested losing most of the the paint and doing much smaller amounts of it. They figured that added something like 1-2% to the bottom line.

Spacex will likely drop the paint job down the road unless it is found that it helps against the salt in the air as well as in the ocean upon landing.

Re:Actually, the pain ways alot (1)

cmowire (254489) | more than 5 years ago | (#26301457)

Aluminum does get corroded when exposed to salt spray.

Re:Actually, the pain ways alot (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26303213)

Yes, but to what degree?

Re:Interesting Question (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297729)

In addition to the factors already mentioned:

Extra weight on a spacecraft is more problematic the longer the weight sticks around during launch, because the faster the extra weight ends up going, the more energy (i.e. fuel) is needed to accelerate it -- and the more fuel is needed to accelerate that fuel, and so on.

The shuttle external tank is carried almost all the way to orbit. Every pound of weight saved on the tank is roughly equal to an extra pound of payload, so leaving it unpainted makes a lot of sense.

But the Falcon 9 rocket's fancy paint job is on its first stage. This drops off long before orbit is reached, so it doesn't impact the cargo capacity nearly as much.

Re:Interesting Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26298271)

"Is there any particular engineering reason why rockets are still covered in paint, or is this entirely an aesthetics issue?"

In short: thermal reflectivity. Most rockets use cryogenic fuels, usually liquid oxygen and often liquid hydrogen. Since launches tend to happen near the equator (for the added velocity boost), the sun can result in heating of the rocket and the boil-off of fuel/oxidizer. Painting the rocket white goes a long way in keeping the rocket cool.

In addition to reducing boil-off, keeping the rocket cool reduces thermal expansion. If you are sitting in the sun for a month or two on the pad before lift-off (Shuttle, I'm looking at you) that's a lot of thermal cycling. Reducing the magnitude of the cycling helps.

And finally, you need to prevent rust somehow. Shuttle's ET foam won't rust, but bare-metal rockets will rust (especially given the launch sites' frequent proximity to the sea). Paint helps prevent rust.

Re:Interesting Question (1)

BigGerman (541312) | more than 5 years ago | (#26301057)

This is Space-Two-Oh design. Aesthetics, marketing and product placement mean a lot more than engineering.

Re:Interesting Question corecshun (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26304215)

the main tank was left unpainted. This gave the Shuttle launch stack its trademark rust-orange color. By making this simple change, NASA realized they could shave off hundreds of tons of launch weight [emphasis added]

You probably mean pounds. Or maybe metric slugs or something.

Actually not that much weight saving (4, Informative)

pgfuller (797997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297663)

You are out by several orders of magnitude - 600lbs / 272kg was the weight saving from not painting the ET. Later structural design changes reduced the ET weight by a more significant 17,000lbs.

Same image? (1)

wITTus (856003) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297801)

Did you notice how the image with the 2 hands in the upper left of their website is the same as for Slashdots "Social Networking" category, as for example in the facebook-breastfeeding news?

Re:Same image? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26298215)

are you trolling? they are the same
http://www.spacefellowship.com/Graphics/topleft2.jpg
http://images.slashdot.org/topics/topicsocialnetworks.gif

Fedora 9 Is Now Fully Integrated At Cape Canaveral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26297901)

First hit me as "Fedora 9 Is Now Fully Integrated At Cape Canaveral" :-/

Falcon 9? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26297957)

Whoa! Did Spectrum HoloByte just become a NASA contractor or what? (Damn Hercules card is acting up again, so I can't RTFA.)

Summary could say what "Falcon 9" is (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26298395)

The summary could mention what "Falcon 9" is. I'm half thinking it's some kind of new launch-pad technology.

Re:Summary could say what "Falcon 9" is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26298723)

Like when it says "Falcon 9 Rocket"? What did you think the erector was for, dubya?

Non-Ad whore link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26299761)

http://www.spacex.com/updates.php [spacex.com]

I really wish the editors would stop indulging these ad whores who are just regurgitating what's on the SpaceX site already.

Good to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26300093)

I am not the only one who has pieces left over after I finish something.

Integrated? (2, Funny)

linebackn (131821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26300287)

Integrated? Does that mean it can no longer be uninstalled?

Uh oh. (1)

dtmancom (925636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26300413)

Looks like they had some parts left over.

Summaries that Summarize... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26301091)

...do things like explain WTF is Falcon 9.

Re:Summaries that Summarize... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26301667)

I understand not reading TFA, but you could at least read the full summary.

no vab required here (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26307901)

This is the first time we've seen a rocket stacked horizontally in broad daylight. Looks like he ran out of credit before the concrete & roof was finished.

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