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Space Science

Falcon 9 Is Now Fully Integrated At Cape Canaveral 82

RobGoldsmith writes "SpaceX's Falcon 9 is now fully integrated: an update from Elon Musk states 'Falcon 9 is now fully integrated at the Cape! Today we mated the 5.2 m payload fairing to the Falcon 9 first stage. This was the final step in the integration process — one day ahead of schedule.' New images are now available showing the first fully integrated Falcon 9 Rocket. Once the launch mount and erector are complete, SpaceX will transfer Falcon 9 on to the erector and raise it to vertical early in 2009."
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Falcon 9 Is Now Fully Integrated At Cape Canaveral

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  • Not Reusable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrcaseyj ( 902945 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @03:50AM (#26297687)

    Reusability isn't mentioned on their Falcon 9 page anymore. I originally got excited about SpaceX because I thought reusability would be the breakthrough in space launch we need. But unfortunately Musk said they haven't come up with a way to protect the boosters from reentry yet. They're looking at aerodynamic methods to keep the heat shielded top of the booster coming down first. Some engineers say they're crazy to think they can make them reusable.

    But even if they can't get them reusable, I think it would be a great advance if they can just make them 1/4 or even 1/2 the cost. I don't think Musk started SpaceX because he thought it was the best way to make money. He probably did it in part for the fun of it, but I think primarily he's truly driven to make it cheaper. Falcon 1 has proven Musk a capable entrepreneur. I hope so much that he can get Falcon 9 into orbit.

  • Re:Not Reusable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cmowire ( 254489 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @03:55AM (#26297703) Homepage

    I think he was quite smart in designing the Falcon boosters for reuse but not actually building that into the business model, leaving it as an eventual improvement.

    Especially given that he has yet to recover any Falcon 1 first stages, even though they were supposed to be reused.

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @04:03AM (#26297729)

    In addition to the factors already mentioned:

    Extra weight on a spacecraft is more problematic the longer the weight sticks around during launch, because the faster the extra weight ends up going, the more energy (i.e. fuel) is needed to accelerate it -- and the more fuel is needed to accelerate that fuel, and so on.

    The shuttle external tank is carried almost all the way to orbit. Every pound of weight saved on the tank is roughly equal to an extra pound of payload, so leaving it unpainted makes a lot of sense.

    But the Falcon 9 rocket's fancy paint job is on its first stage. This drops off long before orbit is reached, so it doesn't impact the cargo capacity nearly as much.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @04:30AM (#26297821) Homepage Journal

    Do people still type when they want to find watches online?

    Yes, but into the google search field.

  • Re:Out of order? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @09:58AM (#26299191)
    Not really, Russia builds its rockets lying down. At one point, and i've not checked to see if they still use it, there integration building was a mile long. and honestly, its easier that way, as you don't have to lift heavy pieces as high, and then place then with precision. you just lift them a *little* and then place them with precision.

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