Falcon 9 v1.1
The launch of the first Falcon 9 v1.1 from SLC-4, Vandenberg AFB (Falcon 9 Flight 6) 29 September 2013.
|Function||Orbital launch vehicle|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Cost per launch (2014)||$56.5M|
|Height||68.4 m (224 ft)|
|Diameter||3.66 m (12.0 ft)|
|Mass||505,846 kg (1,115,200 lb)|
|Payload to LEO||13,150 kg (28,990 lb)|
|4,850 kg (10,690 lb)|
|Launch sites||Cape Canaveral SLC-40
|First flight||September 29, 2013|
|Engines||9 Merlin 1D|
|Thrust||5,885 kN (1,323,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||Sea level: 282 s
Vacuum: 311 s
|Burn time||180 seconds|
|Engines||Merlin Vacuum (1D)|
|Thrust||801 kN (180,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||Vacuum: 342 s [dead link]|
|Burn time||375 seconds|
Falcon 9 v1.1 is the second version of SpaceX's rocket-powered spaceflight launch system. It was developed in 2010-2013, and made its maiden launch in September 2013. It is both designed and manufactured by SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It is currently the only active rocket of the Falcon rocket family.
Falcon 9 v1.1 is a new vehicle design, with 60 percent more thrust and weight than the Falcon 9 v1.0 launch vehicle. It flew for the first time on a demonstration mission on the sixth overall launch of any Falcon 9 on September 29, 2013.
Both stages of this two-stage-to-orbit vehicle use liquid oxygen (LOX) and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellants. The Falcon 9 v1.1 can lift payloads of 13,150 kilograms (28,990 lb) to low Earth orbit, and 4,850 kilograms (10,690 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit, which places the Falcon 9 design in the medium-lift range of launch systems.
The Falcon 9 v1.1 and Dragon capsule combination will be used, beginning in early 2014, to resupply the International Space Station under a contract with NASA. SpaceX is developing the Falcon 9 v1.1 to be able to carry humans and has a contract with NASA for developing and testing several additional technologies to enable it to carry NASA astronauts. No contracts for NASA astronaut missions have yet been signed.
- 1 Design
- 2 Development and production
- 3 Other launcher versions
- 4 Future reusability
- 5 Launch sites
- 6 Launch prices
- 7 Launch history
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The v1.1 first stage has a total sea-level thrust at liftoff of 5,885 kilonewtons (1,323,000 lbf), with the nine engines burning for a nominal 180 seconds, while stage thrust rises to 6,672 kilonewtons (1,500,000 lbf) as the booster climbs out of the atmosphere. The nine first stage engines are arranged in a structural form SpaceX calls an Octaweb. This change from the v1.0 Falcon 9's square arrangement is aimed at streamlining the manufacturing process.
Selected future flights will include four extensible landing legs. These are part of SpaceX's effort to develop a reusable rocket launching system. Later F9R flights will have, when the technology is sufficiently developed, full vertical-landing capability.
SpaceX intends to ultimately produce both Reusable Falcon 9 and Reusable Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. Initial atmospheric testing of prototype vehicles is being conducted on the Grasshopper experimental technology-demonstrator reusable launch vehicle (RLV), in addition to the booster controlled-descent and landing tests described above on some Falcon 9 launches.
Like the Falcon 9 v1.0 and the Saturn series from the Apollo program, the presence of multiple first stage engines can allow for mission completion even if one of the first-stage engines fails mid-flight.
The upper stage is powered by a single Merlin 1D engine modified for vacuum operation.
The interstage, which connects the upper and lower stage for Falcon 9, is a carbon fiber aluminum core composite structure. Reusable separation collets and a pneumatic pusher system separate the stages. The Falcon 9 tank walls and domes are made from aluminum lithium alloy. SpaceX uses an all-friction stir welded tank, the highest strength and most reliable welding technique available. The second stage tank of Falcon 9 is simply a shorter version of the first stage tank and uses most of the same tooling, material and manufacturing techniques. This saves money during vehicle production.
Testing of the new fairing design was completed at NASA's Plum Brook Station facility in spring 2013 where acoustic shock, mechanical vibration, and electromagnetic static discharge conditions were simulated. Tests were done on a full-size test article in vacuum chamber. SpaceX paid NASA US$581,300 to lease test time in the $150M NASA simulation chamber facility.
The first flight of a Falcon 9 v1.1 (CASSIOPE, September 2013) was the first launch configured with a payload fairing. The fairing separated without incident during the launch of CASSIOPE as well as the two subsequent GTO insertion missions. In Dragon missions, the capsule protects any small satellites, negating the need for a fairing.
SpaceX uses multiple redundant flight computers in a fault-tolerant design. Each Merlin engine is controlled by three voting computers, each of which has two physical processors that constantly check each other. The software runs on Linux and is written in C++.
For flexibility, commercial off-the-shelf parts and system-wide "radiation-tolerant" design are used instead of rad-hardened parts. Falcon 9 v1.1 continues to utilize the triple redundant flight computers and inertial navigation—with GPS overlay for additional orbit insertion accuracy—that were originally used in the Falcon 9 v1.0.
Year 2 performance improvements
Although Falcon 9 v1.1 made its maiden flight in 2013, and had flown three flights by January 2014, SpaceX intends some small performance improvements for follow-on flights beginning sometime in 2014. No major performance improvements are planned. The minor modifications include chilling the propellant to increase density and therefore increase the propellant load in the same tank volume, as well as several small mass reduction efforts including removing sensors and associated wiring that were used to gather additional data on the early flights.
Development and production
Production and testing history
A test of the ignition system for the Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage was conducted in April 2013. On 1 June 2013, a ten-second firing of the Falcon 9 v1.1 first stage occurred; a full-duration, 3-minute firing was expected a few days later.
By September 2013, SpaceX total manufacturing space had increased to nearly 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) and the factory had been configured to achieve a production rate of up to 40 rocket cores per year, for both the Falcon 9 v1.1 and the tri-core Falcon Heavy.The November 2013 production rate for Falcon 9 vehicles was one per month. The company has stated that this will increase to 18 per year in mid-2014, and will be 24 launch vehicles per year by the end of 2014.
As launch manifest and launch rate increases in 2014–2016, SpaceX is looking to increase their launch processing by building dual-track parallel launch processes at the launch facility. As of March 2014[update], they project they will have this in operation sometime in 2015, and are aiming for a 2015 launch pace of about two launches per month.
Other launcher versions
There have been two versions of the Falcon 9. The original Falcon 9 flew five successful orbital launches in 2010–2013, while the much larger Falcon 9 v1.1 made its first flight—a demonstration mission with a very small 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) primary payload that was manifested at a "cut rate price" due to the demo mission nature of the flight—on September 29, 2013. SpaceX absorbed most of the cost of the demo flight.
The Falcon 9 v1.1 is a 60 percent heavier rocket with 60 percent more thrust than the v1.0 version of the Falcon 9. It includes realigned first-stage engines and 60 percent longer fuel tanks, making it more susceptible to bending during flight. The engines themselves were upgraded to the more powerful Merlin 1D. These improvements have increased the payload capability from 9,000 kilograms (20,000 lb) on the Falcon 9 v1.0 to 13,150 kilograms (28,990 lb). The stage separation system was redesigned and reduced the number of attachment points from twelve to three. The avionics and software have been upgraded in the v1.1 version as well. The v1.1 first stage will also be used as side boosters on the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.
A third version of the rocket is under development. The Falcon 9-R, a reusable variant of the Falcon 9 family, is being developed using systems and software technology being developed as part of the SpaceX reusable launch system development program by SpaceX to facilitate rapid reusability of both the first and second stages. Various technologies are being tested on the Grasshopper technology demonstrator, as well as some flights of the Falcon 9 v1.1 on which post-mission booster controlled-descent tests are being conducted.
The Falcon 9 v1.1 includes several aspects of reusable launch vehicle technology included in its design, as of the initial v1.1 launch in September 2013 (throttleable and restartable engines on the first stage, a first stage tank design that can structurally accommodate the future addition of landing legs, etc.). However, a number of aspects of the reusable technology have not yet finished development, nor test, in late 2013, only two years after SpaceX committed to a privately funded development program with the goal to obtain full and rapid reusability of both stages of the launch vehicle. The v1.1 launch vehicle is thus an interim design, on a path to a more ambitious SpaceX RLV, the Reusable Falcon 9 and the Reusable Falcon Heavy.
Design was complete on the system for "bringing the rocket back to launchpad using only thrusters" in February 2012. The reusable launch system technology is being considered for both the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy, and is considered particularly well suited to the Falcon Heavy where the two outer cores separate from the rocket much earlier in the flight profile, and are therefore moving at slower velocity at stage separation.
A reusable first stage is now being flight tested by SpaceX with the suborbital Grasshopper rocket. By April 2013, a low-altitude, low-speed demonstration test vehicle, Grasshopper v1.0, had made seven VTVL test flights from late-2012 through August 2013, including a 61-second hover flight to an altitude of 250 metres (820 ft).
In March 2013, SpaceX announced that, beginning with the first flight of the stretch version of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle (Falcon 9 v1.1)—which flew in September 2013—every first stage would be instrumented and equipped as a controlled descent test vehicle. SpaceX intends to do propulsive-return over-water tests and "will continue doing such tests until they can do a return to the launch site and a powered landing. ... [They] expect several failures before they 'learn how to do it right.'" For the early-fall 2013 flight, after stage separation, the first stage booster will do a burn to slow it down and then a second burn just before it reaches the water. When all of the over-water testing is complete, they intend to fly back to the launch site and land propulsively, perhaps as early as mid-2014. SpaceX has been explicit that they do not expect a successful recovery in the first several powered-descent tests.
In March 2014, SpaceX announced that GTO payload of the future reusable Falcon 9 (F9-R), with only the booster reused, would be approximately 3,500 kg (7,700 lb).
Post-mission high-altitude launch vehicle testing of Falcon 9 v1.1 boosters
The post-mission test plan calls for the first stage booster on the sixth Falcon 9 flight, and several subsequent F9 flights, to do a burn to reduce the rocket's horizontal velocity and then effect a second burn just before it reaches the water. SpaceX announced the test program in March 2013, and their intention to continue to conduct such tests until they can return to the launch site and perform a powered landing.
Falcon 9 Flight 6's first stage performed the first propulsive-return over-water tests on 29 September 2013. Although not a complete success, the stage was able to change direction and make a controlled entry into the atmosphere. During the final landing burn, the ACS thrusters could not overcome an aerodynamically induced spin, and centrifugal force deprived the landing engine of fuel leading to early engine shutdown and a hard splashdown which destroyed the first stage. Pieces of wreckage were recovered for further study. Elon Musk stated that Falcon 9 Flight 9, in 2014, will be the next attempt to recover a first stage.
SpaceX is using both Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Launch Complex 4A at Vandenberg Air Force Base for launching Falcon 9 v1.1 rockets. The Vandenberg site was first used by SpaceX for the first v1.1 launch, on 29 Sep 2013.
According to SpaceX in May 2011, a standard Falcon 9 v1.0 launch would cost $54 million ($1,862/lb), while NASA Dragon cargo missions to the ISS will have an average cost of $133 million. The first twelve missions contracted to NASA were done at one time, so no price change is reflected for the v1.1 launches as opposed to the v1.0 launches. The contract was for a specific amount of cargo carried to, and returned from, the Space Station over a fixed number of flights.
SpaceX stated that due to mission assurance process costs, launches for the U.S. military would cost about 50% more than commercial launches, so a Falcon 9 launch would cost about $90 million compared to nearly $400 million for current launches.
Secondary payload services
Falcon 9 payload services include secondary and tertiary payload connection via an ESPA-ring, the same interstage adapter first utilized for launching secondary payloads on US DoD missions that utilize the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV) Atlas V and Delta IV. This reduces launch costs for the primary mission and enables secondary and even tertiary missions with minimal impact to the original mission. As of 2011[update], SpaceX announced pricing for ESPA-compatible payloads on the Falcon 9.
As of January 2014, SpaceX has made three launches of the Falcon 9 v1.1, and eight total launches of any Falcon 9 rocket since 2010. All eight have successfully delivered their primary payloads to either Low Earth orbit or Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
The first launch of the substantially upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 vehicle successfully flew on 29 September 2013, 
- First use of the upgraded Merlin 1D engines, generating approximately 56 percent more sea-level thrust than the Merlin 1C engines used on all previous Falcon 9 vehicles.
- First use of the significantly longer first stage, which holds the additional propellant for the more powerful engines.
- The nine Merlin 1D engines on the first stage are arranged in an octagonal pattern with eight engines in a circle and the ninth in the center.
- First launch from SpaceX's new launch facility, Space Launch Complex 4, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and also the first launch over the Pacific ocean using the facilities of the Pacific test range.
- First Falcon 9 launch to carry a satellite payload for a commercial customer, and also the first non-CRS mission. Each prior Falcon 9 launch was of a Dragon capsule or a Dragon-shaped test article, although SpaceX has previously successfully launched and deployed a satellite on the Falcon 1, Flight 5 mission.
- First Falcon 9 launch to have a jettisonable payload fairing, which introduces the risk of an additional separation event.
While a number of the new capabilities were successfully tested on the flight, there was an issue with the second stage on 29 Sep 2013. SpaceX was unsuccessful in reigniting the second stage Merlin 1D vacuum engine once the rocket had deployed its primary payload (CASSIOPE) and all of its nanosat secondary payloads. The restart failure was determined to be frozen igniter fluid lines in the second-stage Merlin 1D engine. A minor redesign was done to address the problem by adding additional insulation to the lines.
"A second burn of the upper stage will be required during SpaceX’s next mission, intended to place the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit for satellite operator SES of Luxembourg."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Falcon 9.|
|Wikinews has related news: SpaceX successfully test fires Falcon 9 rocket in Texas|
- Falcon 9 official page
- Falcon Heavy official page
- Test firing of two Merlin 1C engines connected to Falcon 9 first stage, Movie 1, Movie 2 (January 18, 2008)
- Press release announcing design (September 9, 2005)
- SpaceX hopes to supply ISS with new Falcon 9 heavy launcher (Flight International, September 13, 2005)
- SpaceX launches Falcon 9, With A Customer (Defense Industry Daily, September 15, 2005)