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Space Science

SpaceX Successfully Tested Draco Thruster 88

dj writes "The propulsion division of SpaceX has performed another important test. After the test of the Falcon 9's first stage Merlin engines, the smallest engine of the SpaceX family, Draco, has been put to test. During the test, the thruster fired for ten minutes, paused for ten minutes, and then was restarted for an additional minute. The test was performed on a new vacuum test stand built by SpaceX, and put into operation in March 2008 at the SpaceX Test Facility outside McGregor, Texas."
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SpaceX Successfully Tested Draco Thruster

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  • by ciderVisor ( 1318765 ) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @06:21AM (#26072681)
    That'd be a Nimbus 2001.
  • to see some good news coming out of the space sector.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @08:28AM (#26073311) Homepage Journal

    http://www.thefabricator.com/FabStories/FabStories_Article.cfm?ID=2045 [thefabricator.com]

    Goes into significant detail of why SpaceX is really revolutionizing the launch business.

    • I read it thoroughly - and there's no support for the claim that SpaceX is revolutionizing the launch business. Their assembly method is only different in semantics from that used by the Usual Suspects.

      • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

        Hehe, you really don't know what you're talking about.

        I love Slashdot.

        • Yeah, I do know what I'm talking about.

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            Your post doesn't indicate that you know what you're talking about. From the article:

            As an alternative, "you can do a really simple structure: a welded tank of rolled aluminum--super-simple, super-inexpensive. There is some mass inefficiency there, but your labor inputs are much lower, and overall you draw the costs down significantly."

            SpaceX has a corporate structure that, according to sources, supports collaboration and efficient decision-making. A designer with an idea can walk over to the manufacturing engineer, talk about it, and then go to the floor to see if it will work.

            Thompson added that this couldn't happen without another unorthodox strategy: in-house manufacturing. [...] So the company, mostly an assembler in 2002, since has brought 90 percent of its manufacturing, including almost all of its metal fabrication, in-house.

            Manufacturing responsibility is organized so that engineers and manufacturers can work together.

            Much of the rest of manufacturing falls under the company's machine shop, which reports to its own VP.

            Thompson came from McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing), and Ringuette came from Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power, now owned by Pratt & Whitney. Neither said they've reported to a boss quite like Elon Musk.

            "I meet with Elon regularly," Ringuette said. "He's an intense person."

            But he does promote an atmosphere of collaboration. A video tour of the engineering facility on SpaceX's Web site, for instance, shows Musk, in a polo shirt and jeans, walking through the company offices, only there are no offices--just an expanse of low-walled cubicles.

            "That's my office over there," he said, pointing to a cube area in the corner. "We try to minimize the number of offices we have. Doors limit communication. Everyone at the company, with the exception of those in HR and finance, are in cubes, including the vice presidents."

            The VPs include Thompson and Ringuette, and both said they appreciate the lack of bureaucracy.

            As Ringuette explained, "When I need to buy a new machine, I describe it to Elon, he either agrees or disagrees, and that's the end of it. It's very helpful, because it keeps me focused on finding the right tools for the job. Nothing is more complicated than it needs to be."

            The Falcon 9 will be able to haul 22,000 pounds. The market for such payloads is huge, sources said, and to meet demand SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 a month.

            That's right--a rocket a month. And the company seems well on its way.

            "This year SpaceX will make more rocket engines than the rest of U.S. production combined," Musk said during the same Webcast. "Next year we'll make more rocket engines than any country in the world."

            I think I've given enough examples. The last quote is particularly important because it describes the revolutionary part of SpaceX. Nobody else will be making gear in the quantities that SpaceX is planning to make. As I see it, the key problem in any space activity is cost of reliable access to space. And the key to cheap, reliable access to space is frequent launch. SpaceX is the only organization, private or government cu

  • Space shuttles, cheap orbiters, SpaceX ... all these are mere clockwork toys compared to the might of the Saturn V SI-C first stage and its five F-1 engines. Wernher von Braun out-rices you [today.com]. Real astronauts fly to the moon. They find [wikipedia.org] leftover bits decades later and think they're asteroids! You can't tell me these SpaceX girly men are going to do anything this goddamn indefatigably cool.

    "Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
    That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun.

    • Sound like someone is a little obsessed with size and thrust...

      Rather than take this in the obvious direction I'll assume what you're trying to say is that muscle cars and big-engined oversized SUVs are the way of the future. Quick, we should call Detroit and let them know we've discovered a way out of their financial mess.

      Oh, wait...

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        IF those cars go to the moon, then you are right.

        You need Saturn V thrust to get to get a person to the moon and back in a reasonable time. It has nothing to do with obsession of size and thrust and everything to do about Physics.

        Note, no one is recommending using a Saturn V to get us to the space station. THAT would be like getting a SUV to go to the corner market.

        Oh, and American Muscle Cars sell pretty well, that's not the problem, the problem is management.

        • to the moon and back in a reasonable time

          If we're going serious with this... I'd agree with the "to" part. The "back" part, however, had little-to-nothing to do with the Saturn V since the first 2 stages were purely to drive the payload into orbit and 3rd stage was to get it in lunar orbit. By the time of the return journey there was nothing left of the Saturn.

          Beyond that, roughly 90% of the mass of each of the first 2 stages was fuel, which, in my mind, makes an argument for either an alternate fuel source to cut down on the overall mass of the

    • How the hell did that get "informative", "troll"?
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      Space shuttles, cheap orbiters, SpaceX ... all these are mere clockwork toys compared to the might of the Saturn V SI-C first stage and its five F-1 engines.

      Actually, SpaceX currently has under-development an engine equivalent to the Saturn's F-1 -- internally they're calling it the "BFE" (or Big "Falcon" Engine). Unlike the F-1, it'll actually be economical. They haven't made official announcements yet, but Musk has given every indication that he's working his way up to building Saturn V-class (and possibly larger) rockets.

  • Did anyone else read that as:

    "SpaceX Successfully Tested Disco Thruster"?
  • Does this have anything to do with their third test flight where they apparently didn't take into account residual thrust in a vacuum [slashdot.org], or is it something different?
  • My brother-in-law works in the McGregor area and tells me that SpaceX had informed local government when the test was to take place. Local government, well... being local government, failed to properly inform the populace of McGregor. When they test fired the engine (at night), it lite up the sky like daylight for about 20 miles around, while creating the noise typical of a rocket launch (in other words over 150 dB). This apparently caught the attention of most of the populace, who thought WWIII had land

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."