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Space Businesses

SpaceX Gets Operational License For Cape Canaveral 133

FiggyOO writes "For those of you who witnessed the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket, launch 3, you will be glad to hear that SpaceX has received a license to launch from space complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. This Launch complex is just south of launch pads 39A and 39B which have been used to launch the space shuttles, and will continue in that role for a few more years. This launch complex will enable SpaceX to launch the much-anticipated Falcon 9 rocket, which will eventually carry the Dragon capsule. In doing so, SpaceX hopes to fill the void between the end of the shuttle program and the coming of the Constellation. They have already begun moving into the launch complex, including moving a 125,000 gallon liquid oxygen tank on the back of a semi." We've been following Elon Musk's SpaceX for years.
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SpaceX Gets Operational License For Cape Canaveral

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  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @02:59PM (#24950673) Homepage

    My only real question regarding transportation would be how they got the tank TO the road (ie railroads, boats, or was it built right next to a road?)

    Space-X Photo Gallery [] has a picture of it being loaded.

  • by Danny Rathjens ( 8471 ) <slashdot2@ra[ ] ['thj' in gap]> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:04PM (#24950727)
    The operational license they received was from the United States Air Force, actually.
  • Re:Great (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:08PM (#24950767)

    Maybe, but there are good reasons for trying to launch at the lower latitudes. The amount of fuel needed to get into orbit is lower meaning that you can launch heavier payloads. Fuel is cheap, but the payloads are what make you money.

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:27PM (#24951003)
    Please pay attention, because this is very important: economist [] IS NOT EQUAL TO accountant []
  • Re:That's No Moon! (Score:5, Informative)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:36PM (#24951129) Homepage

    Replying to myself since I found a nice link with high-resolution versions of the 125,000 gallon tank photo [], which make it much clearer that it's NOT a photoshop job.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:55PM (#24951353) Homepage Journal

    Ah, but read the fine print. The Orion currently developed is for LEO only in the first cut, which is "block 1". Block 2 is a next release, for lunar use, and therefor a second design phase. Dragon could do the same thing.

  • Re:holy damn! (Score:3, Informative)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @04:34PM (#24951913) Journal

    LOX isn't that hard to make. I'm sure they make it on site. I really hope no one is crazy enough to try to transport LOX! It's just about the most dangerous chemical that we make in industrial quantities.

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:32PM (#24952917) Homepage

    Maybe, but there are good reasons for trying to launch at the lower latitudes. The amount of fuel needed to get into orbit is lower meaning that you can launch heavier payloads.

    That's only true if you are launching from a lower latitude site into a low inclination orbit. The higher your orbital inclination, the less gain you get from latitude regardless of your latitude.

  • by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @05:35PM (#24952963)

    While I agree that dumping money beyond the scope of COTS on SpaceX isn't going to make the situation better, I'll explain what I see as wrong with Ares.

    Ares is not what it was supposed to be. It was to be a shuttle derived system capable of returning man to the moon at a reduced cost by using already existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, shuttle-derived seemed to be mostly ignored except enough to keep congress happy, by making it look its cobbled together from shuttle parts. However, they have changed every component so that they are having to re-engineer every component.

    For instance, the current architecture has everything but the manned component on the massive Ares V. In order to make it powerful enough to do that, they had to add an extra segment to the SRBs. That doesn't sound too hard, except it changes all the combustion thermodynamics and fluid flow in the engine, forcing a complete redo of the design. Granted, the experience from the original SRBs will make them safer, but putting the LEM with the Orion capsule and launching only the Earth Departure Stage (EDS) on the V would have reduced the thrust needs. Similarly, the huge amount of thrust needed also made it so that the external tank is now 5.5 meters rather than 4.5 for the shuttle. This means thats the Michoud plant in New Orleans will have to be completely retooled, (with the roof raised or floor lowered as well) for something that's supposedly 'just the same.' The retooling will take 2 years, helping cause the gap thats gotten so much press, and also requiring massive layoffs that will be followed by massive hirings. If it weren't for the fact that the engineers and floor hands are going to require money in the meantime, this would be a great plan.

    And of course, they keep underestimating the thrust needs; they recently had to add an extra engine to Ares V, and everytime I see something about Ares I, the Orion capsule is way over mass-budget. Granted, I can tell you immediately that my idea of moving the LEM to the capsules LV has issues with having to man-rate a larger vehicle, but its more for illustration that there were other architecutres that work around the issues. I really feel mostly that the current architecture is fine if you were starting from scratch, but it seemed to ignore any idea of working off of what we already have to get the best, cheapest system while minimizing the flight gap. If only Jupiter could get a chance...

  • Re:holy damn! (Score:3, Informative)

    by wronskyMan ( 676763 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @06:12PM (#24953617)
    Yep, not sure about the exact ratio for O2 but LN2 expands about 700x going liquid-gas. Much easier to store large quantities of gas cryogenically (also no swapping out cylinders all the time).
  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @07:32PM (#24954619)

    Let me summarize my thoughts before I respond:

    Question: Is it possible to adapt the shuttle components to new vehicles as proposed by the Aries program?

    Answer: Maybe

    Question: Is it better or cheaper to adapt the shuttle components instead of starting with fresh or adapting another existing platform (Delta or Falcon for example) which more closely fits the Ares launch profiles?

    Answer: Probably neither better nor, due to likely unforeseen needs for additional modifications as problems crop up, cheaper. The primary shuttle components were very specialized to the shuttle design so I don't think that the shock absorbers on the SRB will be the last of the kludges required to radically modify their mission profiles.

    The shuttle program couldn't have taught them that.

    They should have known from general solid rocket experience what the well known disadvantages of solid boosters are (i.e. vibrations due to imperfectly molded grains of fuel, high acceleration and force but little control over either...once you light it then it goes all out, etc) before going down that road with Ares. The shuttle designers almost certainly knew about the disadvantages of SRB, but they probably also knew that the disadvantages wouldn't come as much into play because the enormous mass of the shuttle would make a few more relatively minor (compared to the large mass of the shuttle) vibrations moot AND they needed the advantages (high thrust right away) because of the large shuttle mass. In short, the shuttle engineers almost certainly knew that flying the SRB as the first stage in a vehicle besides the shuttle probably wouldn't work (if you had been able to ask them back when they designed the shuttle), but they didn't care because they knew that it would work in the special circumstances of the shuttle (they were designing parts for the shuttle not for re-use in other vehicles decades later).

    So, do you have any other evidence that they haven't learned their lessons from the shuttle program?

    I am not a shuttle engineer, so I only know what they report in the press and on NASA or JPL public information websites. I strongly suspect that the answer to that question may be "yes" (or more precisely the engineers have learned the lessons, but are being asked by management to re-use the shuttle parts as much as possible for political saves money (which is debatable) and it preserves jobs at existing shuttle parts assembly plants), but I cannot prove that of course. I believe that it would be better to make a clean break with the Shuttle, but I know that not everyone else feels that way.

    But the final goal, for which Ares-1 is only the first step, is a much larger launch vehicle with a much greater mass, in which case the SRBs may very well be a logical choice.

    Yes, but without the Ares-1, which is intended to launch the crew vehicles for Orion (among other things), the larger Ares is not much use (i.e. the Ares program is really a package deal, both versions have to work and work well for the program to be successful).

  • Re:holy damn! (Score:5, Informative)

    by kf6auf ( 719514 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @08:19PM (#24955163)
    You are correct, but looking at the replies, this thread seems to be in serious need of some information about liquid oxygen.
    Liquid oxygen is (not surprisingly) a very powerful oxidizer and many things will combust in its presence due to the fact that the increase in density overcomes the cold temperature.
    Making liquid oxygen is very easy due to the fact that the boiling point of oxygen is a couple of degrees higher than the boiling point of nitrogen: get pressurized oxygen in a closed system and cool it down with liquid nitrogen until it liquefies. Congratulations, you're done.

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