Tag: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Dragon 2 Crew Capsule Is One Step Closer To Flight (Video)

Watch The SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule Hover Like A Fiery Bee – C/Net

Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX sure knows how to give its equipment cool names. It has a Falcon 9 reusable rocket. It also has the Dragon 2 crew capsule, designed to ferry people into space and return them gently to Earth. The Dragon 2 sports eight SuperDraco engines (most likely a reference to the Latin for “dragon,” and not Draco Malfoy from “Harry Potter”).

All eight of those engines are on display in footage showing what SpaceX calls a “picture-perfect propulsive hover test” for the Dragon 2. The video was taken on November 24, but released Thursday on YouTube.

The SuperDraco thrusters are paired up around the edges of the capsule. You can see them firing distinctly in the video. SpaceX refers to these pairs as “jet packs,” in keeping with the company’s geeky-cool nomenclature.

The engines produce 33,000 pounds of thrust that allow the capsule to hover like a graceful insect in the air for a few brief moments. The experiment was aimed at “demonstrating vehicle control while hovering.” The project is part of SpaceX’s work with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership focused on developing equipment for human space flight.

SpaceX has lived through both triumph and heartbreak recently. It successfully returned its reusable Falcon 9 rocket to a landing pad after it launched and delivered 11 satellites into low-Earth orbit on December 21. Last week, the company took a third try at landing the Falcon 9 on a floating barge. For the third time, it failed to stick the landing and exploded.

The successful Dragon 2 hover test is another check mark in the triumph column for SpaceX. Getting humans and gear back and forth to space has always been challenging, but the video is a fascinating glimpse at a future spacecraft that should one day carry people far above our planet.
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SpaceX Makes History: Reusable Falcon 9 Rocket Lands Successfully (Video)

SpaceX Makes History: Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Lands – Breitbart

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Commercial spaceflight company SpaceX enjoyed a triumphal moment this evening, conducting its first-ever landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on dry land after a successful launch on Monday.

Livestreams from SpaceX’s headquarters showed employees breaking into cheers as the rocket touched down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
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Creating reusable rockets that can land and relaunch is considered a major technological milestone that will significantly lower the cost of space travel. Multiple space companies were competing to achieve this breakthrough, but SpaceX is the first to succeed in landing a rocket for a non-suborbital trip.

Unlike previous attempts, where SpaceX landed their rockets on ocean platforms, this was the first where the Falcon 9 rocket was able to land on dry ground.

The mission’s primary objective was commercial: the company had been commissioned to launch satellites for the New Jersey-based communications company OrbComm. This was also a success, with all 11 satellites now in orbit around Earth.

However, this will likely be dwarfed by the wider significance of SpaceX’s achievement, which has brought us a step closer to cheap, reusable rockets. As this technology develops, it will make recreational space travel, new manned expeditions to the Moon, and even to Mars, considerably more cost-effective.

It’s a welcome end to the year for SpaceX, which had to deal with a debacle in June when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after takeoff, destroying a supply shipment intended for the International Space Station. According to SpaceX, the explosion was caused by a failed strut in the rocket’s upper state liquid-oxygen tank.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Motors. “It’s a revolutionary moment,” Musk told the press after the landing. “No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”

It’s unlikely we’ll be wandering around on Mars anytime this year. But the prospect of viable, low-cost, private sector space travel suddenly seems a little less sci-fi.

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*VIDEO* Private Company SpaceX Unveils Dragon V2 Manned Space Vehicle


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Click HERE to visit SpaceX’s official website.

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Private Aerospace Company SpaceX To Launch The World’s First Reusable Booster

SpaceX Set To Launch The World’s First Reusable Booster – MIT Technology Review

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Later this month, if all goes well, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, will achieve a spaceflight first.

After delivering cargo to the International Space Station, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used for the flight will fire its engines for the second time. The burn will allow the rocket to reenter the atmosphere in controlled flight, without breaking up and disintegrating on the way down as most booster rockets do.

The launch was originally planned for March 16, but the company has delayed the launch until at least March 30 to allow for further preparation.

The machine will settle over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of its Cape Canaveral launchpad, engines roaring, and four landing legs will unfold from the rocket’s sides. Hovering over the ocean, the rocket will kick up a salt spray along with the flames and smoke. Finally, the engines will cut off and the rocket will drop the last few feet into the ocean for recovery by a waiting barge.

Future flights of the so-called F9R rocket will have it touching down on land. For now, a water landing ensures maximum safety in case the rocket goes off course.

The test of SpaceX’s renewable booster rocket technology will be the first of its kind and could pave the way to radically cheaper access to space. “Reusability has been the Holy Grail of the launch industry for decades,” says Jeff Foust, an analyst at Futron, a consultancy based in Bethesda, Maryland. That’s because the so-called expendable rockets that are the industry standard add enormously to launch costs – the equivalent of building a new aircraft for every transatlantic flight.

SpaceX began flying low-altitude tests of a Falcon 9 first stage with a single engine, a rocket known as Grasshopper, at its McGregor, Texas, proving grounds in 2012. The flights got progressively higher, until a final test in October, when the rocket reached an altitude of 744 meters. Then, following a flight to place a communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in November, a Falcon 9 first stage successfully restarted three of its nine engines to make a controlled supersonic reentry from space.

The rocket survived reentry, but subsequently spun out of control and broke up on impact with the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a call with reporters after the flight that landing legs, which that rocket lacked, would most likely have stabilized the rocket enough to make a controlled landing on the water. The March 16 flight will be the first orbital test with landing legs.

After recovering the rocket from the water on Sunday, SpaceX engineers and technicians will study it to determine what it would take to refurbish such a rocket for reuse. SpaceX also has plans to recover and reuse the second stage rocket, but for now, it will recover only the first stage and its nine Merlin engines, which make up the bulk of the cost of the rocket.

Even without reusable rockets, SpaceX has already shaken up the $190-billion-a-year satellite launch market with radically lower launch costs than its competitors. The company advertises $55.6 million per Falcon 9 launch. Its competitors are less forthcoming about how much they charge, but French rocket company Arianespace has indicated that it may ask for an increase in government subsidies to remain competitive with SpaceX.

Closer to home, SpaceX is vying for so-called Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV, contracts to launch satellites for the U.S. Air Force. Its only competitor for the contracts, United Launch Alliance, charges $380 million per launch.

Musk testified before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense meeting on March 5 that his company can cut that cost down to $90 million per launch. He said the higher cost for a government mission versus a commercial one was due to a lack of government-provided launch insurance. “So, in order to improve the probability of success, there is quite a substantial mission assurance overhead applied,” Musk said in the hearing. Still, SpaceX’s proposed charge for the Air Force missions is a mere 23 percent of ULA’s.

SpaceX is counting on lower launch costs to increase demand for launch services. But Foust cautions that this strategy comes with risk. “It’s worth noting,” he says, “that many current customers of launch services, including operators of commercial satellites, aren’t particularly price sensitive, so thus aren’t counting on reusability to lower costs.”

That means those additional launches, and thus revenue, may have to come from markets that don’t exist yet. “A reusable system with much lower launch costs might actually result in lower revenue for that company unless they can significantly increase demand,” says Foust. “That additional demand would likely have to come from new markets, with commercial human spaceflight perhaps the biggest and best-known example.”

Indeed, SpaceX was founded with human spaceflight as its ultimate mission. It is now one of three companies working with NASA funds to build ships capable of sending astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk plans to take SpaceX even further—all the way to Mars with settlers. And colonizing Mars will require lots of low-cost flights.

Michael Belfiore (michaelbelfiore.com) is the author of Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space.

Updated on March 14, at 3 p.m. EST, to include mention of the delay.

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