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  SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket and launches (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket and launches
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-04-2003 09:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) held an unveiling ceremony for their new Falcon orbital launch vehicle this evening, outside the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

SpaceX brought the entire seven-story high spacecraft and its mobile launch system to the nation's Capitol as part of the hundred-year anniversary of manned flight.

The Falcon rocket is notable for being:

-- The first rocket with substantial reusability developed since the Space Shuttle launched over two decades ago. Once the Shuttle retires, it will be the world's only reusable rocket.

-- A major breakthrough in the cost of access to space, with a price per flight to orbit over four times lower than its nearest American competitor.

-- Designed from a "clean sheet" for reliable space transportation, compared to most existing launch vehicles, which have a comparatively low-reliability heritage as weapons systems.

First launch is expected to occur in early 2004 from the SpaceX launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The payload is a Department of Defense tactical communications & observation satellite called TacSat-1.

Located in El Segundo, California, the company was founded by CEO Elon Musk in June 2002. SpaceX is the third company founded by Mr. Musk. Previously he co-founded and was the largest shareholder of PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, which sold to online auction giant eBay(TM) for $1.5 billion in 2002.

More information about SpaceX can be found at: http://www.SpaceX.com/

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-04-2003 10:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX release
Announcing the Falcon V Launch Vehicle from SpaceX

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) today announced that it has a substantial upgrade to its Falcon rocket family under development and scheduled for completion in 2005.

Drawing from experience with the single engine Falcon I, being unveiled in Washington DC today, SpaceX is developing a five engine version that will be the first American rocket with true engine out safety in three decades. Depending upon the phase of flight, Falcon V will be capable of losing any three of the five engines and still complete its mission. Engine related problems are the overwhelming cause of launch vehicle failures.

Not since the Apollo program's Saturn V, developed over three decades ago, will there be this level of reliability available in the United States. Extremely rare among rockets, Saturn V had a flawless flight record, despite having an engine fail on two separate missions. Without engine out safety, the Apollo Moon program would have had two flight failures, possibly with tragic consequences.

The Falcon V also significantly increases the capability of the Falcon family, with a capacity of over 4.5 tons to low orbit and a 10 foot (3.05 meter) diameter payload fairing. The vehicle is also capable of launching missions to geostationary orbit and the inner solar system, as well as carrying supplies to the International Space Station with the addition of a lightweight automated transfer vehicle.

With firm contract pricing set at $12 million per flight (2003 dollars), the $1500 cost per pound to orbit will represent a new world record in the cost of access to space.

spaceuk
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posted 12-05-2003 04:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish them all success with this excellent development.

Maybe we should 'club' together at these orbital prices and launch our own collectSPACE memorabilia spacecraft?

David Stephenson
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posted 12-05-2003 02:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Stephenson   Click Here to Email David Stephenson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I appreciate this post on SpaceX as I didn't know about them until now. I went to their website which I found very interesting.

spaceuk
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posted 05-28-2005 09:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looks like the Falcon - with its Merlin engine - had a successful ground truth test out at VAFB by an on-the-pad ignition and firing test.

They're suggesting mid July-ish for a first attempt at launch? Good luck to the team out there.

Ben
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posted 05-28-2005 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ben   Click Here to Email Ben     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Their launch is dependant on the final flight of the Titan 4, currently scheduled for July 10. The flight path off of Falcons launch "pad" takes it directly over the Titan launch pad, so Titan has to fly first.

spaceuk
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posted 09-11-2005 11:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I note that SpaceX have announced they will first develop and market a heavy lifter called Falcon 9 rather than the Falcon 5 medium lifter. The latter will come later.

It's capable of 55,000 lb to LEO in its heavy lifter configuration. Depending on fairing diameter the costs will range from $7 millon to $35 million.

spaceuk
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posted 12-19-2005 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish SpaceX all success later today with the launch of the commercial Falcon and its DARPA payload from Kwajelien in the Marshall Islands.

ivorwilliams
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posted 12-19-2005 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ivorwilliams     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scrubbed again! Launch now delayed until mid January 2006.

spaceuk
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posted 12-20-2005 02:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes - a pity. Looks like when draining propellant from upper tank - to secure vehicle due to impending high winds - a faulty valve allowed a vacuum to form inside tank - sucking inwards the thin tank wall.

I would expect that they will either have to ship out another stage to replace this one or return the current stage to USA for repair?

Philip
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posted 02-13-2006 01:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The private launch vehicle Falcon 1 wasn't launched this week from test site in the Marshall islands...

Danno
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posted 03-24-2006 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard that the SpaceX launch vehicle Falcon 1 had a launch failure today. The Falcon 1 rocket apparently impacted the Pacific about 40 seconds after liftoff. The vehicle went out of control and fell back to Earth.

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posted 03-19-2007 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the SpaceX website:
The flight readiness review conducted tonight shows all systems are go for a launch attempt at 4pm California time (11pm GMT) tomorrow (Monday). The webcast can be seen at SpaceX.com and will start at T-60 minutes. Please check back for updates, as the launch will be postponed if we have even the tiniest concern.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2007 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New T-0 is 4:45pm PDT (2345 GMT) as a result of a data relay problem, which they have since corrected.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2007 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Abort! There was a terminal count abort due to "range source telemetry". The launch attempt has been scrubbed for the day, for at least 24 hours, if not 48.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-19-2007 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The launch is now targeted for no earlier than Tuesday at about 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From SpaceX:
The abort that occurred a few minutes before T-0 was triggered by our ground control software. It commanded a switchover of range telemetry from landline to radio, which took place correctly, however, because of the hardware involved, this transition takes a few hundred milliseconds. Before it had time to complete, our system verification software examined state and aborted.

Our simulations done beforehand all passed, because the simulator did not account for a hardware driven delay in the transition. We considered putting the vehicle into a safe state yesterday and updating the ground control software to make the very minor fix needed, but the safer course of action was to stand down.

Yesterday afternoon and evening (Kwaj time), our launch team updated the software to address the timing issue and verified that there were no similar problems elsewhere. We ran the software through several simulated countdowns and then once again with the rocket and range in the loop.

All systems are now go for launch with T-0 at 4pm California time today (Tues).

The webcast will begin shortly at the link provided earlier in this thread.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 05:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A new T-0 has been set for 5:05 p.m. PDT (2405 GMT) due to a potential radio frequency (RF) compatibility issue between the payload and the TDRSS receiver.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was an abort just after ignition (between T-0 and T+.5 second) due to low (less than 1% spec) chamber pressure. Despite the engine firing, this is not a scrub. The count has been recycled to T-10 minutes and holding. A new T-0 will be set after they complete draining half the propellant from each stage and then refill.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New T-0 is 6:10 p.m. PDT (0110 GMT). The count will be picked up at T-16 minute at 5:54 p.m. PDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 08:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-20-2007 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Per SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, who spoke with the media following the launch:
I think I would characterize this as a very good day for SpaceX. We successfully reached space and really retired all risk associated with the rocket.
According to Musk:
  • First stage performed "flawlessly";
  • Stage separation went "very well";
  • Second stage ignition was "almost perfect";
  • "We did encounter... a roll control anomaly."
  • "We didn't achieve the desired orbit... it is not in its intended orbit."
  • The roll control anomaly caused the second stage to shut off prematurely.
  • "We got to 300 kilometers."
  • The likelihood is that the second stage "reentered after about half an orbit." (To be confirmed later tonight.)
Said Musk, "I don't think I am disappointed. I think I am pretty happy."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2007 12:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's the launch, if you missed it on Tuesday evening:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2007 01:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Elon Musk, posted to SpaceX.com on March 20:
The second test launch of Falcon 1 took place today at 6:10 pm California time. The launch was not perfect, but certainly pretty good. Given that the primary objectives were demonstrating responsive launch and gathering test data in advance of our first operational satellite launch later this year, the outcome was great. Operationally responsive (ie fast) launch has become an increasingly important national security objective, so demonstrating rapid loading of propellents and launch in less than an hour, as well as a rapid recycle following the first engine ignition are major accomplishments.

We retired almost all of the significant development risk items, in particular:

- 1st stage ascent past max dynamic pressure

- avionics operation in vacuum and under radiation

- stage separation

- 2nd stage ignition

- fairing separation

- 2nd stage nozzle/chamber at steady state temp in vacuum

Falcon flew far beyond the "edge" of space, typically thought of as around 60 miles. Our altitude was approximately 200 miles, which is just 50 miles below the International Space Station. The second stage didn't achieve full orbital velocity, due to a roll excitation late in the burn, but that should be a comparatively easy fix once we examine the flight data. Since it is impossible to ground test the second stage under the same conditions it would see in spaceflight, this anomaly was also something that would have been very hard to determine without a test launch.

All in all, this test has flight proven 95+ percent of the Falcon 1 systems, which bodes really well for our upcoming flights of Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, which uses similar hardware. We do not expect any significant delay in the upcoming flights at this point. The Dept of Defense satellite launch is currently scheduled for late Summer and the Malaysian satellite for the Fall.

I'd like to thank DARPA and the Air Force for buying the two test flights and helping us work through a number of challenges over the past year. I'd also like to express my appreciation for the efforts of the Kwajalein Army Range (Reagan Test Site) and we look forward to many more launches in the future.

Finally, thank you to everyone at SpaceX for working so hard to make this a great test. This is a big leap forward for commercial spaceflight!

Danno
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posted 03-21-2007 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is the full story at Spaceflight Now.

I must admit that it is embarrassing to hear Elon say that the orbital flight is a success when it did not make orbit. It is also incredible that after losing his first 2 payloads he is ready for business and will not have another test flight.

Success is not a 0 for 2 record.

art540
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posted 03-21-2007 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if there was a nozzle burn through causing the roll? What was that red color? combustion gases?

Danno
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posted 03-22-2007 10:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
I wonder if there was a nozzle burn through causing the roll? What was that red color? combustion gases?
The red color on the photo is the material of the nozzle heating up just like a horseshoe in a blacksmiths forge. You see that a lot now that it is more common to have cameras onboard ELVs.

I believe Musk blamed the roll on the RCS actually firing. He makes it sound like it was maybe an error in the control software that would be an easy fix. Of course, he won't know until the analysts get the telemetry and work it over.

art540
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posted 03-22-2007 01:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the feedback. Nice to have input from the engineering/design people. As I looked at more images i realized it wasn't a breakthrough but it still perplexed me. Learning is always half the fun.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2007 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From SpaceX, photographs from their recent launch:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2007 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2007 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 03-26-2007 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a video of the launch...note at ~ T+2:52 1st stage separation appears to impact the 2nd stage nozzle... yaw/pitch oscillation start to become apparent around vicinity of T+4:15 and and progressively worsen....

------------------
Scott Schneeweis
http://www.SPACEAHOLIC.com/

Danno
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posted 03-26-2007 03:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LCDR Scott Schneeweis:
Here's a video of the launch...note at ~ T+2:52 1st stage separation appears to impact the 2nd stage nozzle... yaw/pitch oscillation start to become apparent around vicinity of T+4:15 and and progressively worsen....
Yeah, they say that the impact started a wobble and LOX sloshing that progrssively got worse.

While the impact observed during separation failed to damage the second stage engine's nozzle, the cause is currently being blamed on the vehicle's rotation being fives times higher than the expected maximum.

'The nozzle impact during stage separation occurred due to a much higher than expected vehicle rotation rate of about 2.5 deg/sec vs. the maximum expected of 0.5 deg/sec. As the 2nd stage nozzle exited the interstage, the first stage was rotating so fast that it smacked the niobium nozzle,' Musk noted. 'There was no apparent damage to the nozzle, which is not a big surprise given that niobium is tough stuff.

'The unexpectedly high rotation rate was due to not knowing the shutdown transient of the 1st stage engine (Merlin) under flight conditions. The actual shutdown transient had a very high pitch over force, causing five times the max expected rotation rate.'

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-23-2008 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Awards Launch Services Contract to SpaceX

NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, a NASA Launch Services contract for the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

The NASA Launch Services contracts are multiple awards to multiple launch service providers. Twice per year, there is an opportunity for existing and emerging domestic launch service providers to submit proposals if their vehicles meet the minimum contract requirements.

The contract is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract where NASA may order launch services through June 30, 2010, for launches to occur through December 2012. Under the NASA Launch Services IDIQ contracts, the potential total contract value is between $20,000 and $1 billion, depending on the number of missions awarded.

The contract seeks a launch capability for payloads weighing 551 pounds or heavier into a circular orbit of 124 miles at an orbital inclination of 28.5 degrees. Payloads would be launched to support three NASA mission directorates: Science, Space Operations and Exploration Systems.

Because an IDIQ contract has been awarded to SpaceX, it can compete for NASA missions using the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles as specified by the NASA Launch Services contract process.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for program management. This award to SpaceX adds to the stable of launch vehicles available to NASA under previously awarded contracts. The original request for proposal was issued in 1999.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seen here, the Falcon 1 flight patch displaying the names of the various government agencies and companies involved in the mission.

The small red octagon with the yellow '9' depicted on the lower left of the emblem is a miniature version of the Mercury-Atlas 9 souvenir patch:

It's inclusion is in reference to the flight of some of astronaut Gordon Cooper's remains aboard Falcon 1 as part of Celestis' The Explorers Flight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-23-2008 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: SpaceX pushes back target date for next Falcon 1 launch
The military informed SpaceX last week that mandatory support equipment and tracking stations in the Pacific Ocean are booked through the end of July, forcing officials to delay launch of the next Falcon 1 rocket, the company's founder said Friday.

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., said the U.S. Army range at Kwajalein Atoll will be busy with other activities for the next month.

"Launch is no sooner than late July to early August," Musk said. "We will use the time to do additional checkouts."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2008 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX release
SpaceX Sets August 2 for Falcon 1 launch

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has scheduled the launch of the Falcon 1 Flight 3 mission for Saturday, August 2nd. The launch window will open at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) / 7:00 p.m. (EDT) and remain open for five hours. If launch is delayed for any reason, SpaceX has range availability to resume countdown through August 5.

Lift-off of the vehicle will occur from SpaceXХs Falcon 1launch site at the Kwajalein Atoll, about 2500 miles southwest of Hawaii. Falcon 1 launch facilities are situated on Omelek Island, part of the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) in the Central Pacific.

Designed from the ground up by SpaceX at headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Falcon 1 is a two-stage, liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene powered launch vehicle. The first stage is powered by a single SpaceX Merlin 1C Regenerative engine Р flying for the first time on this Flight 3 mission. A Тhold before liftoffУ system enhances reliability by permitting all systems to be verified as functioning nominally before launch is initiated. The Falcon 1 second stage is powered by a single SpaceX Kestrel engine.

Falcon 1 is the first new orbital rocket in more than a decade. Merlin is the first new American hydrocarbon engine for an orbital booster to be flown in more than 40 years and only the second new American engine of any kind in more than a quarter century. After achieving orbit, Falcon 1 will be the first privately developed, liquid fuel rocket to orbit the Earth.

The primary customers for the Falcon 1 launch are the Department of Defense, Government of Malaysia and NASA. Falcon 1 is carrying a payload stack of three separating satellites that will orbit at an inclination of 9 degrees:

  • The Trailblazer satellite was developed by SpaceDev of Poway, Calif., for the Jumpstart Program of DoDХs Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, as a test platform to validate the hardware, software and processes of an accelerated microsatellite launch. Trailblazer is deployed from the Falcon 1 second stage shortly after the shut-down of the second stage engine, about 10 minutes into flight.

  • Deploying four to eight minutes later will be two NASA small satellites: PRESat, a micro laboratory from NASAХs Ames Research Center, and then NanoSail-D, which will unfurl an ultra-thin solar sail, developed by NASAХs Marshall Space Flight Center, in collaboration with NASA Ames Research Center.

  • The three separating satellites attach to the Falcon 1 second stage via the Secondary Payload Adaptor and Separation System, (SPASS), developed by ATSB, a company owned by the Government of Malaysia that develops and commercializes space technology. The SPASS was engineered by Space Access Technologies of Ashburn, Va.
SpaceX will provide live coverage of the Falcon 1 Flight 3 mission via webcast at: www.SpaceX.com. The webcast will begin 30 minutes prior to launch and will include mission briefings, live feeds and launch coverage from the launch site at the Kawjalein Atoll, as well as a special video tour of SpaceX facilities by Elon Musk, CEO and CTO.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2008 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX Falcon 1, Flight 3 update: Liftoff is now expected at 5:06 p.m. PDT / 8:06 p.m. EDT / 00:06 UTC.

Reminder: Live stream on SpaceX's website.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2008 06:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a schedule of launch milestones:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-02-2008 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Liquid oxygen loading is now complete. Count at T-55 minutes and holding.

Liftoff is now expected at 5:40 p.m. PDT / 8:40 p.m. EDT / 00:40 UTC.


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