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Second SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Now Being Assembled 65

Posted by timothy
from the sweet-musk-of-success dept.
FleaPlus writes "Six weeks after the first launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, the first stage of the second rocket has finished production/testing, and has arrived at Cape Canaveral for a launch as early as September, depending on the pace of a methodical review of the Dragon capsule systems and minor rocket modifications/fixes being made based on data from the inaugural launch. The rocket will launch the first operational unmanned Dragon cargo/crew spacecraft into orbit, where it will perform tests and then reenter off the California coast. CEO/CTO Elon Musk made the intriguing remark that Dragon's heat shield is strong enough to enable a return not only from Earth orbit, but also lunar orbit or Mars velocities as well."
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Second SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Now Being Assembled

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  • Re:Sweet (Score:3, Informative)

    by queazocotal (915608) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:57AM (#32937192)

    Paragons of safety - certainly not.

    There are some good reasons why they are potentially safer than some ohter designs though.

    For example, the fact that the engines are runup and develop full thrust while the vehicle is still tied down, and can be shut down if they do not perform to spec removes a large slice of hazard.

  • Re:Several thoughts (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 17, 2010 @01:50PM (#32937818)

    One idea is to offer up X-Prizes to really push commercial space. These should start high and descend in value over time.

    Why have it decrease over time? I see you're trying to accelerate commercial space development by decreasing it, but it's not like it costs anything if no one can or wants to accomplish it.

    Jerry Pourelle has long advocated X-Prizes for various commercial space developments, for example (offering prizes for second and third place helps ensure that competitors don't stop development once there's a clear winner):

    LUNAR BASE: under $20 billion

    To the first American company to put not fewer than 31 Americans on the Moon and keep them there continuously for a period of three years and one day, $10 billion. To the second American company to meet that condition, $5 billion. To the third, $3 billion.

    Note that it is highly likely but not certain that in establishing the Moon Base one or more companies would develop low cost ways to access orbit. To be sure of that, though:

    ACCESS TO ORBIT: under $10 billion

    To the first American company to put three humans in orbit and return them safely to Earth 18 times in one year using the same spacecraft (90% of the entire system other than fuel to be identical; multiple stages allowed but each stage must be recoverable; the 90% applies to the system as a whole), $5 billion dollars. "Put in orbit" is defined as completing three orbits of the Earth. For the second American company to do so, $3 billion. To the third, $1 billion.

    SPACE SOLAR POWER: under $20 billion

    To the first American company to deliver to Earth continuously for one year at least 250 Megawatts of electric power deliverable to the standard power grid, $10 billion. To the second, $5 billion. To the third, $2 billion.

  • Re:reusability (Score:4, Informative)

    by glitchvern (468940) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @12:10AM (#32940896) Homepage

    The space shuttles engine is reusable 0 times without a complete and total dis-assembly and rebuild.

    This hasn't been true in a long time. It was true for the first major version of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, but they are on at least the fifth major version of the SSME now. They are taken off the orbiter for inspection every two flights now and taken off for rebuild every four flights. An SSME costs about 75 million to build. A delta IV rocket engine, which is made by the same company and is roughly comparable to an SSME, costs about 25 million. I've never been able to figure out the maintenance cost on an SSME. The SSME has a very excellent safety record. One of the reasons for this is because being reusable they can test the hell out of it. It is one of the best rocket engines ever. The shuttle taken as a whole may not be very good, but most of the parts are fantastic, and the SSME is definately a fantastic part and an example of one of the things they got right with a reusable vehicle. The shuttle is the first and only reusable launch vehicle ever built and we have learned many things on how not to design a reusable launch vehicle. The shuttle is a sample size of one and should not be taken to mean reusable launch vehicles are inherently bad, expensive, or impossible to build.

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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