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  SpaceX Falcon Heavy heavy-lift launch vehicle

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Author Topic:   SpaceX Falcon Heavy heavy-lift launch vehicle
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-01-2011 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX has been teasing on its website that "Something Big is Coming" on April 5. They also posted a teaser video...

It appears the announcement relates to their Falcon Heavy, which SpaceX describes as follows:

The Falcon Heavy will be SpaceX’s entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle category. Capable of lifting over 32,000 kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and over 19,500 kg to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), the Falcon Heavy will compete with the largest commercial launchers now available. It consists of a standard Falcon 9 with two additional Falcon 9 first stages acting as liquid strap-on boosters. With the Falcon 9 first stage already designed to support the additional loads of this configuration and with common tanking and engines across both vehicles, development and operation of the Falcon Heavy will be highly cost-effective.
  • Length: 54.9 m (180 ft)
  • Width: 3.6 m (12 ft)
  • Mass: 885,000 kg (1,950 klb)
  • Thrust on liftoff: 15 MN (3,375 klbf)

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-05-2011 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX release
SpaceX Announces Launch Date for the World's Most Powerful Rocket

Falcon Heavy will lift more than twice as much as any other launch vehicle

Today (April 5), Elon Musk, CEO and chief rocket designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) unveiled the dramatic final specifications and launch date for the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket.

"Falcon Heavy will carry more payload to orbit or escape velocity than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V moon rocket, which was decommissioned after the Apollo program. This opens a new world of capability for both government and commercial space missions," Musk told a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.



"Falcon Heavy will arrive at our Vandenberg, California, launch complex by the end of next year, with liftoff to follow soon thereafter. First launch from our Cape Canaveral launch complex is planned for late 2013 or 2014."

Musk added that with the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons or 117,000 pounds to orbit, Falcon Heavy will have more than twice the performance of the Space Shuttle or Delta IV Heavy, the next most powerful vehicle, which is operated by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.

53 metric tons is more than the maximum take-off weight of a fully-loaded Boeing 737-200 with 136 passengers. In other words, Falcon Heavy can deliver the equivalent of an entire commercial airplane full of passengers, crew, luggage and fuel all the way to orbit.

Falcon Heavy's first stage will be made up of three nine-engine cores, which are used as the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. It will be powered by SpaceX's upgraded Merlin engines currently being tested at the SpaceX rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Falcon Heavy will generate 3.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. This is the equivalent to the thrust of fifteen Boeing 747s taking off at the same time.

Above all, Falcon Heavy has been designed for extreme reliability. Unique safety features of the Falcon 9 are preserved, such as the ability to complete its mission even if multiple engines fail. Like a commercial airliner, each engine is surrounded by a protective shell that contains a worst case situation like fire or a chamber rupture, preventing it from affecting other engines or the vehicle itself.

Anticipating potential astronaut transport needs, Falcon Heavy is also designed to meet NASA human rating standards, unlike other satellite launch vehicles. For example, this means designing to higher structural safety margins of 40% above flight loads, rather than the 25% level of other rockets, and triple redundant avionics.

Falcon Heavy will be the first rocket in history to do propellant cross-feed from the side boosters to the center core, thus leaving the center core with most of its propellant after the side boosters separate. The net effect is that Falcon Heavy achieves performance comparable to a three stage rocket, even though only the upper stage is airlit, further improving both payload performance and reliability. Crossfeed is not required for missions below 100,000 lbs, and can be turned off if desired.

Despite being designed to higher structural margins than other rockets, the side booster stages will have a mass ratio (full of propellant vs empty) above 30, better than any vehicle of any kind in history.



Falcon Heavy, with more than twice the payload, but less than one third the cost of a Delta IV Heavy, will provide much needed relief to government and commercial budgets. In fact, Falcon Heavy at approximately $1,000 per pound to orbit, sets a new world record in affordable spaceflight.

This year, even as the Department of Defense budget was cut, the EELV launch program, which includes the Delta IV, still saw a thirty percent increase.

The 2012 budget for four Air Force launches is $1.74B, which is an average of $435M per launch. Falcon 9 is offered on the commercial market for $50-60M and Falcon Heavy is offered for $80-$125M. Unlike our competitors, this price includes all non-recurring development costs and on-orbit delivery of an agreed upon mission. For government missions, NASA has added mission assurance and additional services to the Falcon 9 for less than $20M.

Vehicle Overview
Mass to Orbit (200 km, 28.5 deg):53 metric tons (117,000 lbs)
Length:69.2 meters (227 ft)
Max Stage Width:5.2 m (17 ft)
Total Width:11.6 meters (38 ft)
Weight at Liftoff:1,400 metric tons or 3.1 million lbs
Thrust on Liftoff:1,700 metric tons or 3.8 million lbs

Please note that Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the U.S. Congress. That vehicle is authorized to carry between 70-130 metric tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-05-2011 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Falcon Heavy will carry more payload to orbit or escape velocity than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V moon rocket, which was decommissioned after the Apollo program.
In addition to the Saturn V, the Energia had a higher rated payload to orbit and lunar insertion...

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 07-11-2011 11:13 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 Groundbreaking at Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday

In April 2011, SpaceX announced its plans to design, build and launch the Falcon Heavy — the world's largest launch vehicle since the Saturn V moon rocket.

The Falcon Heavy should arrive at Vandenberg by the end of 2012 and launch soon thereafter.

On Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's newest launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Falcon Heavy will have the ability to carry payloads weighing over 53 metric tons to orbit, offering more than twice the performance of other commercial providers at one-third of the cost. SpaceX saves the Department of Defense at least one billion dollars annually in space launch services with such a rocket, while providing an independent family of vehicles to provide assured access to space.

hlbjr
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Posts: 321
From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 08-27-2011 09:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see the Falcon Heavy is due to be launched from Vandenberg but I'm curious when it will arrive at the Cape? I know Musk said 2013 or 2014 but I'm curious if it's contingent upon Pad 39B being available or if Pad 40 will be modified?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-27-2011 10:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX has not yet made the decision whether they will modify SLC-40 or lease Pad 39B, but did not expect the choice to hold up plans to launch Falcon Heavy 9 by late 2013 or 2014.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-29-2012 11:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceX release
Intelsat Signs First Commercial Falcon Heavy Launch Agreement with SpaceX

Advanced Vehicle Provides Expanded Options for Operator of the World's Largest Satellite Fleet

Today, Intelsat, the world's leading provider of satellite services, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the world's fastest growing space launch company, announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket.

"SpaceX is very proud to have the confidence of Intelsat, a leader in the satellite communication services industry," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. "The Falcon Heavy has more than twice the power of the next largest rocket in the world. With this new vehicle, SpaceX launch systems now cover the entire spectrum of the launch needs for commercial, civil and national security customers."

"Timely access to space is an essential element of our commercial supply chain," said Thierry Guillemin, Intelsat CTO. "As a global leader in the satellite sector, our support of successful new entrants to the commercial launch industry reduces risk in our business model. Intelsat has exacting technical standards and requirements for proven flight heritage for our satellite launches. We will work closely with SpaceX as the Falcon Heavy completes rigorous flight tests prior to our future launch requirements."

This is the first commercial contract for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. Under the agreement, an Intelsat satellite will be launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

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