Tag Archives: Falcon 9R

The competition in space continues to heat up

Two news stories today indicate that things are going to get increasingly interesting in the exploration of space in the coming years.

First there is this story from Joe Abbott of the Waco Tribune, who routinely reports on SpaceX news because their McGregor test facility is nearby. In it Abbott reports that SpaceX has scheduled its next Dragon supply mission to ISS for no early than September 20.

This news item however is not Abbott’s most interesting news. He also notes several twitter reports coming out a commercial satellite conference in Paris that indicate that SpaceX has closed 9 deals, including several more for its as yet unflown Falcon Heavy.

But even that is not the most interesting news. Abbott also reports that a replacement for the destroyed Falcon 9R test vehicle will be shipped to McGregor for testing in less than two months. Considering how long it takes governments to build and fly test vehicles, getting this replacement in shape for flight mere months after the failure a few weeks ago is quite impressive.

But even that was not Abbott’s most interesting SpaceX news item. » Read more

Single sensor caused Falcon 9R failure

SpaceX has identified the cause of the failure of last week’s Falcon 9R test flight failure as a single sensor.

On the Falcon 9R, there was no backup for this sensor, so the rocket was required to self-destruct when the sensor failed. On a Falcon 9, other sensors would have picked up the slack and the rocket would have continued in flight.

That the sensor is used by the Falcon 9, however, explains why they have delayed the next commercial flight. They probably want to make sure they understand why the sensor failed so they can reduce the chance of failure on the Falcon 9.

SpaceX scrubs Wednesday commercial launch

SpaceX has scrubbed a commercial launch that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

No explanation was provided, but it is likely that the company and its commercial partners decided to give themselves more time to study the issues that caused the Falcon 9R test rocket to destroy itself on Friday.

SpaceX delays commercial launch 24 hours

SpaceX has delayed its next commercial launch one day to Wednesday in order to make sure the issues that caused its Falcon 9R test rocket to self-destruct are irrelevant to the full Falcon 9 rocket.

Seems like a prudent decision that is also not overly timid. If this had been the NASA of the past few decades, they would have generally delayed the launch for far longer.

Falcon 9R destroyed during failed test flight

In a test flight today of SpaceX’s Falcon 9R vertical take off and landing rocket the rocket was destroyed when ground controllers detected an “anomaly.”

Falcon 9R is a three engine version of the Falcon 9 first stage, designed to test designs for making that first stage capable of landing vertically. It has flown successfully a number of previous times, but this time it appears something was not quite right during the flight and ground controllers had to destroy it for safety reasons.

Is this a set back? Of course. Is it a failure? Not really, as it was a test flight of very cutting edge technology and even failures will teach you something to improve the engineering.

SpaceX today released a new video of the most recent Falcon 9R vertical take-off and landing test flight.

The competition heats up: SpaceX today released a new video of the most recent Falcon 9R vertical take-off and landing test flight.

Video below the fold. The flight was to test the deployment and use of fins for controlling the stage during its return to Earth. Watch them unfold and adjust themselves beginning at about 1:15 into the video. In the second half you can see them near the top of the stage.
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SpaceX releases spectacular footage of another vertical take-off and landing test of their Falcon 9R rocket.

The competition heats up: SpaceX releases spectacular footage of another vertical take-off and landing test of their Falcon 9R rocket, this time flying over 3,000 feet in the air.

Video below the fold. What I think everyone, including me, has missed so far about both the Grasshopper and the Falcon 9R test flights is that the test vehicle not only was able to land safely using its rockets, both vehicles were quickly turned around and flown again. This certainly lends weight to the feasibility of the company’s plan to make their first stage reusable.

» Read more

Data now suggests that SpaceX successfully achieved a controlled landing of its Falcon 9 first stage on Friday.

The competition heats up: Data now suggests that SpaceX successfully achieved a controlled landing of its Falcon 9 first stage on Friday.

The stage itself has not yet been recovered due to heavy seas, but all evidence points to a soft splashdown in the ocean. While I expect them to continue to do this over the ocean, until they get good footage of the landing as well as recover the stage, the next real step is to land the thing over land. The link above also has video of the vertical take-off/landing of Falcon 9R on Friday, which proves they are beginning to prove this capability as well.

In related news, Dragon was successfully berthed to ISS today.

Posted from Boulder, Colorado.

SpaceX has completed the first vertical flight of the Falcon 9R landing test rocket.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has successfully completed the first vertical flight of the Falcon 9R landing test rocket.

Reports have been confirmed that SpaceX’s Falcon 9-R development vehicle made its first free flight today at McGregor — taking off, hovering, moving sideways and landing.

Falcon 9R is the successor to Grasshopper, carrying more engines to more accurately simulate a Falcon 9 first stage.

Meanwhile, today’s launch of Dragon and the second attempt to bring the first stage back to Earth in a controlled manner remains iffy because of weather.

SpaceX has test fired its Grasshopper replacement test vehicle.

The competition heats up: SpaceX has test fired its Grasshopper replacement test vehicle.

Unlike Grasshopper, which only had one engine, the Falcon 9R (pronounced “niner”) is the equivalent of a Falcon 9 nine engine first stage. They fired it on the launchpad for 5 seconds in preparation for future vehicle take off and landing tests.

When will SpaceX launch the upgraded Falcon 9? We have competing news stories:

When will SpaceX launch the upgraded Falcon 9? We have competing news stories:

  • The Canadian Space Agency sent out a press release today saying Cassiope will launch on September 15 on its Falcon 9 rocket.
  • Elon Musk sent out a twitter report of yesterday’s static fire test, noting there were anomalies and that the launch date is still to be determined.

This is very puzzling. That the Canadian release was sent out today suggests that they have information we don’t have about the static fire test and thus knew they could announce the launch date. That Musk is more circumspect however suggests that the information the Canadians have is not correct.

Update: Stephen Clark at Spaceflight Now has more information. It appears the launch will not happen on Sunday, as SpaceX plans a second launchpad static test tomorrow to iron out the unexplained “anomalies” in yesterday’s static test.

SpaceX successfully completed a static test of the 9 first stage engines of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket today.

SpaceX successfully completed a static test of the 9 first stage engines of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket today.

SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket briefly fired nine Merlin 1D engines on the launch pad Thursday, but engineers will review data from the prelaunch static fire test before confirming the mission’s targeted Sunday launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sources familiar with SpaceX’s launch preparations said.

Today’s static fire test and launch rehearsal of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was scrubbed.

Wednesday’s static fire test and launch rehearsal of SpaceX’s Falcon 9R rocket was scrubbed.

I hear rumors that there was a fuel leak, but this is not confirmed. Regardless, this scrub could cause another delay of Sunday’s planned launch of the upgraded Falcon 9R with its first commercial payload, as the company wants to do this test prior to launch.