SpaceX is the sexiest rocket factory around, for more that one reason.
- It’s the first private held rocket company to reach low earth orbit.
- The designed and build there own engines and called it “Merlin” It can be fully throttled and also be reignited after it is shutoff.
- SpaceX build there own two stage rocket and named it “Falcon” after Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars
- SpaceX build there own space capsule named: Dragon.
- With Dragon launched with a Falcon-9 they where the first private contractors to fly to the International Space Station.
- To top it SpaceX does this for a fraction of the cost that it takes Nasa or ROSCOSMOS to do the job.
How cool is that?
This are all great mile stones But this is not even the main goal of of SpaceX . But the ultimate goal of SpaceX and it’s founder Elon Musk, is making the human species multi-planetary. That’s right settle a colony on the nearest planet form Earth, Mars and have regular flights to Mars for both delivering supplies and new settlers.
For this we need to make space flight much more affordable. One way to that is make spacecrafts reusable.
The past has proven that a complex design like the Space Shuttle was not the cost efficient solution every one had hoped for. It was hard to maintain and recycling it took many months thousands of man hours and a lot of money.
The approach SpaceX is taking is much more promising. First take the proven approach of the clasic rocket, totally redesign it form the ground up with modern technics and technologies and prove it’s flight capability. After that improve on it and make it a reliable and competitive launch vehicle.
Space flights with the Falcon-9 cost around $ 50 million per launch and that is still a lot. If we want to travel to space more often and have a regular flight to Mars, we need to lower the coast of going to space more drastically. This can be done by making spacecrafts reusable in a rapid and easy way.
To do this the Falcon-9 needs sexy legs and becomes Falcon-9R (pronouced F-niner)
These sexy legs are not only hot, but also need to be very light weight. Every additional kilogram takes fuel to lift it to space. All four legs together weight less that 2.000 Kg each and can be extended by the high pressure helium, that is already onboard.
These legs is one of the most important step to make the operational and highly successful Falcon-9, reusable.
With the Grasshopper project SpaceX successfully tested there vertical landing technics. With the last three Falcon-9 flights Spacex tested reigniting there first stage in a well orchestrated attempt to stabilize the first stage after the stage separation and make a controlled decent. And now, for the first time they will test four sexy legs on a live mission of Falcon-9 that brings Dragon to ISS.
During start and assent the legs are nicely folded, down side up along the first stage after MECO-1 (First stage Main Engine Cut Off) and stage separation, the first stage will fall back to Earth. Some of the main engines and some control engines on the side of the first stage will fire to make a controlled descent. When speed and altitude are low enough the sexy legs will be deployed with the high pressure helium and if all goes well the firts stage will make a simulated landing. This landing will still be safely on the open ocean. When it succeeds, the fisrt stage will be fully recovered by boat and a new milestone reached.
If all goes well with the weather the first Falcon-9R will be launched tomorrow 20.00 UT For more details: SpaceX CRS-3 Mission