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View Diary: UPDATED: Quietly, SpaceX makes a revolutionary launch (67 comments)

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  •  Few comments, as always: (4+ / 0-)
    3. A new configuration for the nine main engines. Gone is the 3x3 square array of the Falcon 9 v1.0; now there is a central engine surrounded by eight others in a formation SpaceX calls an "octaweb". Worked as advertised.
    This does seem much more stable, yes. The flow of the octaweb exhaust is likely much "prettier" (i.e. less chaotic) than the one seen in the square design. TBH I have no idea why they'd even look at the square design; the one they're using now is doubtlessly superior, and I haven't even run any calculations for it.
    5. The first SpaceX launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Since SpaceX manufacturing facilities are also in California, this reduces costs and allows greater launch flexibility; it also allows launching satellites into polar orbit, from which they can view the entire surface of the Earth.
    Well, you actually can't launch anything but polar satellites from Vandenberg. It's illegal (and quite unwise) to launch one overland. Personally, I think they need to open a facility in Florida for semi-equatorial launches. Either that or rent some more space in Texas.
    This means we are on the verge of a fully reusable first stage, which would represent an enormous cost savings over the current single-use rockets.
    Hrm, this is quite optimistic in my opinion. From what I understand, there were some problems with the reignition, notably regarding stabilization and control of the plume.

    I also don't think there was anything to right its attitude before the burn - it doesn't help slow you down if your rocket is pointed towards the ground, after all. They should consider secondary thrusters near the top for attitude adjustment during the descent, maybe hypergolics like hydrazine. This would also make it more top-heavy, and so give it a higher center of gravity. That's pretty important for attitude control of a rocket.

    Give them five more years and they might have a crude VTOL system worked out. What we're talking about is hell-and-gone from what they've been doing with the Grasshopper.

    Oh, and one more thing: do you see those long, skinny triangles pointing up from the base of the Falcon 9 v1.1 in the drawing on the left? They're not on the rocket that was launched today. Do you know what those are?

    They're landing legs.

    Hahahahaha. These guys are batshit crazy. I love it :D God love them if they can get it to work.
    •  they have that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl
      They should consider secondary thrusters near the top for attitude adjustment during the descent, maybe hypergolics like hydrazine.
      Not hydrazine because they don't want the weight of more tanks, they have cold gas thrusters that vent the high-pressure helium they use to pressurize the fuel tank.

      Low center of gravity means it falls like a shuttlecock. It fell fine on this attempt, it just started rolling around the vertical axis too fast, and the thrusters didn't have time to zero it out since they were only programmed to start attitude control close to the ground.

      What I think SpaceX is probably thinking is that just sticking the legs on will fix that, since without the legs the stage is totally smooth and there's nothing to stop a roll once it starts up. The legs would work like fins and keep the roll under control on the way down.

    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fladem, FarWestGirl

      1 - you could launch westward out of Vandenburg, although that is a huge payload hit.  As for going over land, you can, although historically its unlikely to get FAA approval during licensing.  All of their missions to ISS fly out of Florida

      2 - As for getting a VTVL - while I think his timeline is optimistic, its possible, and certainly viable for a first stage VTVL.  

    •  They've been doing launches from Cape Canaveral. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FarWestGirl

      And they're now renting one of the old Shuttle launch pads from NASA.

      IIRC, they're also looking into building another launch facility in Texas. I'm not sure how that's going.

    •  It definitely helps to be a little bit crazy (0+ / 0-)

      when you're pushing the envelopes on rockets. :-)

      All of us who grew up on SF novels won't take no for an answer. :-)

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 09:53:05 AM PDT

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