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Space Science

SpaceX Plans to Start Launching Rockets Every Two To Three Weeks (fortune.com) 104

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, plans to launch its Falcon 9 rockets every two to three weeks, its fastest rate since starting launches in 2010, once a new launch pad is put into service in Florida next week. From a report: The ambitious plan comes only five months after a SpaceX rocket burst into flames on the launch pad at the company's original launch site in Florida. SpaceX, controlled by billionaire Elon Musk, has only launched one rocket since then, in mid-January. "We should be launching every two to three weeks," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in an interview on Monday.
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SpaceX Plans to Start Launching Rockets Every Two To Three Weeks

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  • SpaceX has had this sort of launch rate as a goal for years now. Repeated delays and two rocket failures, CRS-7 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX_CRS-7 [wikipedia.org] and last year's on the ground explosion of a Falcon 9 have both slowed things down a lot. They are right now cheaper and more cutting edge than pretty much every other medium payload launcher, but the pressure of that sort of launch schedule is going to be very tough. And we're already seeing the expected slippage- CRS-10 was originally scheduled for late
    • Everyone has to have goals, right? But yeah, let's see them get a one-per-month schedule going before we expect one every two to three weeks. I just can't see this happening this year without an incredible string of good luck.
    • by phayes ( 202222 )

      Space-X's has 2 launch centers at the Cape, SLC40 which was damaged but should be repaired and ready in a few months and SLC39C which would have already launched F9 Heavy had it not been for the COPV incident, Vandenburg and is building facilities at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

      Besides which, Falcon 9 is not the Shuttle and does not need weeks/months of launchpad testing.

      • Not Las Cruces, Boca Chica, Texas [wikipedia.org].
        • by phayes ( 202222 )

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] states that the Spaceport facility will be used for testing returned 1st stages but I did indeed omit the Boca Chica site as information on it's readiness is hard to find.

          Thanks for the correction.

          • The New Mexico Spaceport facility of SpaceX was never activated. SpaceX retired the Grasshopper at McGregor and they never started the F9-Reusable phase 2 flight tests, since the final tests of that were done with customer boosters after their missions. SpaceX is doing all of the engine tests of Falcon 9 boosters at McGregor. But they are not allowed to free-fly at McGregor any longer (local parents got upset when they had to destruct the last F9R - their school is only 3 miles away). So, when the time come

  • But the title is misleading, "plans" to launch (title) and "should" launch (summary) are two totally different things...
  • by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @12:20PM (#53819673)

    According to an article on Arstechnica, there is some problem with the current design, which means the recovered boosters are only good for one or two re-launches. They need the next version of Falcon 9, block 5 before they are properly re-usable.

    https://arstechnica.com/scienc... [arstechnica.com]

    "It now seems likely that SpaceX will fly the landed boosters it currently has, at most, once or twice, before retiring them, instead of multiple times. Although the company hasn't elaborated on the problems with the engines, booster structure or composite materials that has challenged their attempts to re-fly its Falcon 9 first stages, Musk seems confident that changes to the Block 5 version of the rocket will solve the problem. "

    • According to an article on Arstechnica, there is some problem with the current design, which means the recovered boosters are only good for one or two re-launches.

      There is an issue with turbopumps cracking. [slashdot.org] I suspect this issue was only detected because the rockets have been recovered after launch.

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )
        The turbine cracks seems to be more of an issue for manned flight.
        • by Megane ( 129182 )
          Manned flights are more likely to be a source of fresh boosters than to re-use them. NASA can and so far does always require a fresh rocket and capsule anyhow, so turbine cracks after a flight probably aren't going to be an issue for manned flight.
          • by tsotha ( 720379 )
            I think the feeling is cracks are an indication of impending failure. Can you imagine what would happen if NASA lost a fully crewed Dragon to a problem it already knew about?
        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          The turbine cracks seems to be more of an issue for manned flight.

          Turbine cracks were not a problem on the space shuttle. NASA solved the issue but redefining them as a maintenance problem.

    • They need the next version of Falcon 9, block 5 before they are properly re-usable.

      That's a misinterpretation of what was stated. What Elon Musk said was that they want to consolidate their entire fleet onto one design. That means they will only be flying the current generation once or twice before they phase the 'legacy' design out of their fleet.

      There have been no statements about fitness of the design itself, just the business case for maintaining multiple builds. A problem every software developer should be familiar with. If you can, you want to update everybody to a single relea

    • Actually, the current design issue is not known to limit reuse, however there is a "block 5" design which is being done to incorporate what they have learned about reuse and SpaceX is not interested in learning the block 4 reusable lifetime with block 5 starting to come out. Musk claims this is the last F9 redesign, which is waaaaay optimistic considering that they've not flown crewed missions yet and they are bound to run into some qualification issues before the first crewed mission and as experience is g

  • by Soft ( 266615 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2017 @12:29PM (#53819729)
    Almost a quarter-century ago, people were suggesting that way to drive down launch costs: http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume... [fourmilab.ch]
    • This is what doomed the shuttle. The only way they could get costs down to the advertised price tag was to have a high launch rate. The only way to get that high of a launch rate was to get the dod to use their services, the only way to get the dod to use their services was to meet the requirements of the dod and that meant a lot of requirements that weren't originally expected, and those design changes doomed the program. The air force did not want the shuttle, but NASA lobbied congress to force them to us

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