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Second SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Now Being Assembled 65

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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  • reusability (Score:2, Interesting)

    by strack ( 1051390 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @09:04AM (#32936328)
    heres hoping they can recover the first stage this time. i mean, if they cant have a reusable first stage, the only new thing spacex would be doing to reduce costs is assembly line manufacturing of rocket engines, and the ability to have a engine fail on the first stage and still complete the mission. while those are neccessary and excellent steps to take, my bet is being able to fish 9 barely used rocket engines and avionics system out of the sea, hose it down, pop another upper stage on it, and launch it a week later, will be the largest factor in reducing costs. the shuttle fucked it up, it was only reusable in the way a drag racer is reusable, with a complete overhaul between uses. but the merlin engines on the falcon 9 have been shown to be infinitely more reusable and reliable.
  • Re:reusability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @09:43AM (#32936504)
    You are missing a very important reason for recovering the stage. It is a great for engineering to see what the engines/ect look like after a flight. You can get a lot of data on a test stand but nothing beats flight testing.
  • Re:reusability (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @09:45AM (#32936518)
    I saw a great interview with Musk and he said the way he cuts costs is by building everything they can't buy off the shelf. This is directly opposite to what most major defense contractors do. The reason is simple. If it's off the shelf you can buy it because the development costs were already paid for and there is an existing market. If there isn't a off the shelf product available you may as well design and build it yourself to cut out the middleman. This isn't rocket science it's rocket engineering. Elon isn't breaking any scientific ground with the Falcon which is why it's so cheap. He learned the lessons of the past and spent his money trying to make it cheap.
  • by Loadmaster ( 720754 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:13AM (#32936924)

    You forgot where they chant, "The government can do nothing right. The government can do nothing better than private industry." Then turnaround and declare, "Only NASA can build rockets. The private industry sucks balls on space."

    I will never understand, other than pork and earmarks, why some in Congress see SpaceX as bad. I, for one, am really excited by the possibilities opened if SpaceX can wrest some control of space away from the government for private industry. The government has put up the ISS which is great, because it shows us what can be done in space and why. But Bigelow aerospace is already building inflatable habitation modules and has contracted SpaceX to take them to space. Private industry is ready to open up earth's orbit.

  • Several thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @11:57AM (#32937196) Journal

    Once the dragon is flying cargo AND has flown living samples UP and DOWN, it seems to me that we should send a dragon up as a lifeboat. The reason is that 3 of the sleeping quarters are on the other side of the station. As such, it makes sense to have one lifeboat on the US/Western side. Lose the middle, or even the entire russian side, and you still have an ability to get ppl to safety.

    If Musk gets this flying in Sept, then it should be possible to push back against that recent jobs fair bill being pushed by the Senate panel, that masquerades as a NASA bill. In fact, BA, OSC, etc should be pushing hard for getting Bolden/Obama's plan moving fast. One idea is to offer up X-Prizes to really push commercial space. These should start high and descend in value over time.

    For example, offer up a 1 billion X-Prize for a Tug/Fuel Depot that delivers in 2013. Then have it drop by .25B yearly after that. Give requirements for docking (such as using CBM).

    Another useful one would be for human launches. Offer up 5 guaranteed human launches in 2013; followed by one less each year. The idea being is that the first craft will have more launches then those that arrive to the scene later. Why do it that way? To encourage groups like SpaceX to get funding, or for Boeing/L-Mart to invest their own money and build out human rated systems QUICKLY.

    Finally, it will costs a great deal of money for NASA to get to the moon. So, why not offer up an X-Prize of 10B to put a base there. It would run until 2016, and then decrease by 1B each year.

    Now, why do these and in this fashion? To get private space moving QUICKLY. In particular, this would encourage ppl like Gates, Allen, etc to chase these prizes. The sooner that you develop, the larger the pay-out. Require that the work be in America, or amongst those nations that also contribute to the X-Prize (it allows the possibility for UK, EU, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc to jump in as well).

  • by ridgecritter ( 934252 ) on Saturday July 17, 2010 @01:14PM (#32937632)
    Has there been any commentary or explanation from SpaceX about the increasing roll rate that showed in the on-board video towards the end of that video? I've looked, haven't found any. Just curious.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato