Dress rehearsal completed for SpaceX’s Sunday launch


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Capitalism in space: SpaceX yesterday successfully completed the static fire dress rehearsal countdown for its planned Sunday Falcon 9 launch, which would be the third SpaceX launch in 9 days.

The article also provides some good information about the company’s efforts to recover the first stages and the fairings from the past two launches. For example:

This mission [the Florida launch of a Bulgarian satelltie] also included another test per SpaceX’s fairing recovery aspirations. Classed as the best attempt to date, SpaceX has added steerable parachutes to guide the fairing halves to the ocean surface, before it deploys a “bouncy castle” that protects it while it awaits recovery. The technology is still being refined, but Elon Musk believes full recovery could be achieved later this year.

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8 comments

  • geoffc

    The fairing recovery ship was seen leaving harbour, so expect a fairing recovery attempt on this launch. So even expendable launches have lessons to teach.

  • wodun

    Now, if they can only figure out a way to reuse their 2nd stage in orbit.

  • sayomara

    I noticed that after this launch SpaceX doesn’t have another launched scheduled until Aug 10th. Is this vacation for personal, launch pad related or something else? In the articles I’ve been reading I haven’t seen anything to explain this gap.

    Other than the Falcon Heavy, we haven’t hear anything in a while about human dragon testing. Or the Falcon version 5 first stage, moving back to Pad 40 which should be happening soonish. Just a ton of SpaceX stuff it would be nice to know where they are at on, and maybe this gap is playing into many of these.

  • sayomara: In the story that I linked to in this post, the gap in launches in July into August is explained.

    However, there will be a small gap ahead of the following launch, in part due to the Eastern Range undergoing a maintenance period. The following mission will involve the CRS-12 Dragon in the second week of August.

  • diane wilson

    Sayomara,

    SpaceX tends not to say much, but pieces of the Dragon 2 (the human-rated Dragon) are known. They needed to start flying “flight proven” Dragons (done, with CRS-11), so they could convert production over to Dragon 2. There will need to be at least two uncrewed flights, one for in-flight abort test, and one orbital mission. Just a guess, but that mission would probably be a cargo run to ISS. After that, they might be able to get certified for a crewed mission. Timelines are open to guessing, but I understand that the expectation is for the first crewed mission to ISS could be in the first half of 2018. That could mean a first flight late this year.

    Also, I understand that they are a few months ahead of Boeing. That probably is measured only in terms of capsule development. SpaceX is also proficient in flight management and logistics; while Boeing has a lot of experience in space, I don’t know how that compares to SpaceX. ULA would probably handle the launch, but once in orbit, I don’t know if they have much experience that is directly comparable to the rest of the mission profile. They did launch a couple of ISS supply missions for Orbital ATK. On the other hand, no one except SpaceX (in the US) has soft-landed a capsule since the last Apollo flights.

  • mkent

    “SpaceX is also proficient in flight management and logistics; while Boeing has a lot of experience in space, I don’t know how that compares to SpaceX.”

    Boeing is prime contractor for the American side of the ISS, which includes much of the day-to-day analyses and operations. The people you see on-console on NASA TV are NASA employees, but many of the people in the back offices those people talk to are Boeing employees. In fact, from what I have heard, Boeing provided substantial help to SpaceX between COTS 1 and COTS 2/3 to help get them qualified to berth with the ISS.

    While SpaceX’s native capability has grown much since then, I doubt they have much, if any, advantage over Boeing here. Over Lockheed (prime contractor of Orion), sure, but not Boeing.

  • pzatchok

    The second stage could be recovered if it was equipped like the falcon 9 with landing legs and control grids.

    Just make it large enough to carry enough fuel for landing.

    Falcon heavy could just be the launcher for this idea.

    Very roughly. For every ton of fuel to go up you will need the same to get down. Not including the first stages fuel.

  • LocalFluff

    I suppose a reusable upper stage could land anywhere along its trajectory, even much later. Since it would descend from orbit.

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