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Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für SpaceX Falcon Heavy -Update

12.01.2018

SpaceX Falcon Heavy completes successful rehearsal, static fire pushed back due to bug in launch pad hardware

More than a decade after its 2005 public conception, SpaceX is closer than ever to the first launch Falcon Heavy, the company’s newest rocket. Earlier this afternoon, the vehicle was aiming for its first static fire test, in which all 27 of its engines would be ignited (nearly) simultaneously in order to test procedures and the rocket itself. This attempt was sadly scrubbed, but only after the vehicle apparently completed a successful wet dress rehearsal, which saw Falcon Heavy fully loaded with propellant. According to Orlando’s News 13, the attempt was scrubbed only after one of eight hold-down clamps showed signs of bugs.

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Falcon Heavy vertical at Pad 39A on Thursday, January 11. After a successful rehearsal, the static fire was scrubbed due to a small hardware bug. (Tom Cross/Teslarati)

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Falcon Heavy vertical at Pad 39A on Thursday, January 11. After a successful rehearsal, the static fire was scrubbed due to a small hardware bug. (Tom Cross/Teslarati)

While Falcon Heavy is not explicitly critical for SpaceX’s near-term launch business and its loftier future goals, the development and operation of such a massive launch vehicle will likely serve as a strong foundation as the company transitions more aggressively into the design, engineering, and manufacture of its still-larger BFR series of rocket boosters and upper stages. Falcon Heavy stands approximately as tall as Falcon 9 at around 70 m (230 ft), but features three times the thrust and a little less than three times the weight of SpaceX’s workhorse rocket. With 27 Merlin 1D engines to Falcon 9’s namesake nine, Falcon Heavy’s 22,800 kN (5,000,000 lbf) of thrust is a nearly inconceivably amount of power, equivalent to twenty Airbus A380 passenger jets at full throttle.

WHY IS FALCON HEAVY IMPORTANT?

If SpaceX manages to pull off Falcon Heavy as a successful and reliable launch vehicle on the order of its reasonably successful Falcon 9, BFR may well be an easier vehicle to develop and operate, thanks to its single-core design. As Musk himself has discussed over the last year or so, the problem of safely and reliably distributing the thrust of Heavy’s side cores to the center core was unexpectedly difficult, as were the issues of igniting all 27 Merlin 1Ds and safely separating the side cores while in flight. Ultimately, the payload improvement (while in a fully reusable mode of operation) was quite small, particularly for the geostationary missions that make up essentially all prospective Falcon Heavy customer missions.

The additional complexity of recovery and refurbishing three separate Falcon 9 boosters almost simultaneously likely serves to only worsen the vehicle’s potential payoff, although the upcoming Block 5 iteration of Falcon 9 may partially improve the vehicle’s ease of operation. If Block 5 is indeed as reusable as SpaceX intends to make it, then a handful of Block 5 Falcon Heavy vehicles could presumably maintain a decent launch cadence for the vehicle without requiring costly and time-consuming shipping all over the continental US.

Quelle: TESLARATI

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SpaceX postpones 'static fire' test of Falcon Heavy engines

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SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket sits on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. A planned "static fire" test was pushed back at least a day, the company said. (Jonathan Shaban, staff)

SpaceX has pushed back an historic test of the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket.

At Pad 39A, where Saturn V rockets and space shuttles launched, the first SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy rocket is standing tall on the pad, where the commercial company's team was scheduled to perform a "static fire" test Thursday.

Just before 1 p.m., though, the company postponed the test fire. It could try again Friday.

SpaceX hasn't said why the static fire test was pushed back.

The rocket is the largest in the world right now, made up of three boosters and 27 engines.

Today's short firing test of those engines is part of the process ahead of the rocket's first demonstration flight, which is set at this point for late January.

SpaceX will fly the rocket on manned and unmanned Mars missions in the coming years.

The company has not said when exactly the rocket's engines will fire. Stay with Spectrum News for more coverage of this developing story.

Quelle: NEWS13

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Update: 14.01.2018

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The Falcon Heavy rocket will be one of SpaceX's biggest tests yet

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With 27 engines generating 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the Falcon Heavy rocket is one of SpaceX’s most ambitious projects yet.

And now, with questions swirling about the reported loss of the classified Zuma satellite that lifted off Sunday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the highly anticipated Falcon Heavy demonstration launch later this month may have taken on even more importance for the company’s military and intelligence prospects.

The new rocket gives the Hawthorne space company heavy-lift capability, meaning SpaceX could hoist massive satellites for commercial customers or lucrative national security missions.

As SpaceX looks to increase its share of defense business, those customers are very much interested in reliability, said Carissa Christensen, chief executive of consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology. For good reason: Zuma, for instance, reportedly cost more than $1 billion.

“Now is not a good time for questions about SpaceX’s ability to deliver what that community wants, which is reliable performance,” she said. “That community will be paying attention.”

Christensen noted that SpaceX has been unambiguous in defending its role in Sunday’s launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. As reports began to bubble Monday that the Zuma satellite may have plunged back toward Earth, the company issued a statement: “We do not comment on missions of this nature; but, as of right now, reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally.”

On Tuesday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell released an even stronger statement and pushed back against reports that a second-stage malfunction may have been to blame, saying that “after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night.”

“If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately,” she said. “Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.”

SpaceX has continued on with preparations for the Falcon Heavy, which was scheduled for a brief “static fire” test this week, and an upcoming Falcon 9 launch for satellite operator SES and the Luxembourg government. Analysts say that further indicates the company did not see a problem with its rockets.

An SES spokesman said the company was in constant contact with SpaceX and is “totally confident” for its launch date at the end of the month.

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Little is known about the Zuma satellite — not even the name of the U.S. government agency that owns it. The payload was intended to be launched into low-Earth orbit.

Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp., which built Zuma and procured the launch service from SpaceX, said in a statement Monday: “This is a classified mission. We cannot comment on classified missions.”

SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force in 2015 to carry national security satellites, a move that broke up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.called United Launch Alliance.

Last year, SpaceX launched two national security missions with its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket. The company has said it plans to seek certification from the Air Force for the Falcon Heavy for future national security launches.

SpaceX found that developing such a huge rocket was more of a challenge than initially expected. Falcon Heavy was first announced to the public in 2011, with company Chief Executive Elon Musk promising a demonstration flight by the end of 2012.

Falcon Heavy is just one of several heavy-lift rockets currently under development by commercial companies and NASA. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has unveiled plans for a rocket called New Glenn, which will eventually be available in two-stage and three-stage versions. ULA has proposed a new rocket called the Vulcan that would replace its current intermediate and heavy-lift vehicles. Orbital ATK is looking to develop its first intermediate and heavy-lift vehicles known for now as the Next Generation Launcher. And NASA is continuing work on its Space Launch System.

 

SpaceX has plans for an even larger reusable rocket and spaceship system called BFR, which would eventually replace the company’s current lineup. Musk has said BFR could be used for missions ranging from taking satellites to low-Earth orbit to colonizing Mars.

“If we’re talking about expanding exploration, it will be good to have more capabilities,” said Olga Bannova, research associate professor and director of the space architecture graduate program at the University of Houston’s college of engineering.

In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX’s goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets. After the demonstration launch, SpaceX will attempt to land all three engine cores — two on land-based pads and one on a sea-based droneship — in a feat Musk has described as a type of “synchronized aerial ballet.”

Falcon Heavy launches start at $90 million, compared to the starting price of $62 million for the smaller Falcon 9, according to SpaceX’s website. ULA has advertised the starting cost of its Atlas V rocket at $109 million. The venture’s larger Delta IV rocket — the most powerful rocket currently used by the Air Force to carry military satellites — is being phased out because it is costly to produce.

However, Musk has also tried to downplay expectations for this demonstration launch, saying there was a “good chance” the rocket would not make it to orbit on its first go.

The Falcon Heavy will be carrying Musk’s midnight cherry Tesla Roadster as its payload to ensure that the rocket works with heavy cargo aboard. Musk has said on Instagram that the car will be launched on a “billion-year elliptic Mars orbit.”

In the past, the first few launches of a new rocket were expected to have a fairly high failure rate. But modern computer modeling and analytics have changed that expectation.

A strong showing on Falcon Heavy’s first outing will enhance the perception of SpaceX’s capabilities and will also contribute to the view of its market value, Christensen said. But a failure would not be “devastating,” she said, noting that the company is given credit for its ambitious goals.

The Falcon Heavy also benefits from the development of its predecessor, the Falcon 9, said Phil Larson, assistant dean at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s College of Engineering.

“They know the Falcon 9 well,” said Larson, who formerly worked at SpaceX and was a senior advisor for space and innovation in the Obama administration. “They already have a lot of great data, and I think this sets them up well for this demonstration launch.”

Quelle: Los Angeles Times

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Update: 16.01.2018

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SpaceX to fire most powerful rocket's engines

When the Falcon Heavy lifts off later this year it will be the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two.

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The long-awaited test fire of what may be the world's most powerful rocket - SpaceX's Falcon Heavy - will take place on Tuesday.

Elon Musk, the billionaire behind the private aerospace company, said he wants the rocket to take his own midnight cherry Tesla Roadster into orbit around Mars while playing David Bowie's Space Oddity.

 

Just like SpaceX's regular Falcon 9 launch vehicles, the Falcon Heavy is reusable and intended to return to Earth to land after launching.

Mr Musk has warned that the testing of the Falcon Heavy is likely to feature errors, and the static engine firing at Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9pm UK time will be the first opportunity for SpaceX to detect any kinks.

Falcon Heavy is made up of three cores, or boosters, which have a total of 27 Merlin rocket engines and can generate 22,819 kilonewtons (5.13 million pounds) of thrust at lift-off.

Both of the side cores are equivalent to the main booster of a Falcon 9 rocket and, shortly after lift-off, the centre core is throttled down for the side cores to do most of the work.

Once the side cores separate, the centre core engines throttle back up - carrying different payloads to different orbits:

:: 63,800kg (140,660 lb) to Low Earth Orbit
:: 26,700kg (58,860 lb) to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit
:: 16,800kg (37,040 lb) to Mars
:: 3,500kg (7,720 lb) to Pluto

The Falcon Heavy upright in Florida. Pic: Elon Musk
Image:The Falcon Heavy upright in Florida. Pic: Elon Musk

All of the Merlin rocket engines are going to be fired for roughly 12 seconds on Tuesday as SpaceX prepares the Falcon Heavy for its first ever real launch.

Aside from Mr Musk's quip about sending a car into orbit around Mars, SpaceX has signed two contracts for satellite launches using the powerful rocket.

The Falcon Heavy has been designed to carry crew and supplies to deep space destinations such as the moon and Mars.

These missions are not expected any time soon, however.

"Just bear in mind that there is a good chance this monster rocket blows up, so I wouldn't put anything of irreplaceable sentimental value on it," Mr Musk was quoted as saying.

Quelle: Skynews

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Update: 24.01.2018

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy status updates: Test fire scheduled for Wednesday

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SpaceX teams are laying the groundwork for the eventual launch of the company's highly anticipated three-core Falcon Heavy rocket, which will likely lift off on its demonstration flight early this year.

First, teams will test fire the 230-foot-tall rocket's 27 Merlin main engines, a routine operation that will produce data for analysis by engineers. If all goes well after the testing phase, the rocket's inaugural flight from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A will be scheduled.

Now on the schedule: SpaceX targeting six-hour test fire window that opens at 1200 ET (1700 UTC) on Wednesday.

 

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