Feeds

back to article SpaceX Falcon 9 reaches MONEY RING with successful launch

The Elon Musk–backed SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has made its much-anticipated voyage to geostationary orbit. We have liftoff...finally! The company on Tuesday was able to launch the rocket and then maneuver the craft into place above the Earth's equator, where a second burn was able to place the craft into its intended orbit for …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Pint

Another tip of the cap to Mr. Musk and SpaceX, well done lads!

25
0
Silver badge

Dammit

Having watched their previous two aborts, I missed this one because I didn't know about it!

I can't work out of there's a replay function on their webcast page either.

2
0
Happy

How about a little perspective here?

First of all, Kudos SpaceX.

You got your bird away after a few delays - better safe than sorry - and Falcon 9 has added another string to its bow by putting up a bird destined for GEO. SpaceX continues to undercut the market - who else does launches for less than 60 million? - and, if they can ramp up production then they can really dominate the market in the future - sell those ULA shares now, folks, while they're still worth something.

But...

"SpaceX can now move forward with its plans to commercialize spaceflight and fill the launch gap which has been left by NASA as it looks to develop its next-generation Space Launch System."

Next Generation? SLS is a very, very, very expensive rocket that has a high risk of being cancelled before its first flight and, after SpaceX gets their (first stage only) reusable F9 flying & of course their Falcon Heavy going uphill too, is bound to be cancelled after the the first or second flight.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy 125 million dollars

SLS 1.6 billion dollars or 10 billion dollars or 18 billion dollars

2
0
Silver badge

Re: How about a little perspective here?

Well, he could always offer to loft birds for India or China.

0
0
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: How about a little perspective here?

To be fair, there are slightly different design points here. Falcon 9 starts out being able to lift 13,000kg to LEO. The SLS is designed to lift 70,000kg into LEO.

The Falcon 9 Heavy is designed for 21,2000kg to LEO. The second revision of the SLS is designed to lift 130,000kg to LEO. (Which is greater than what Saturn V could achieve)

I'm not dismissing the amazing achievements of Space-X (or their low prices compared to NASA), just pointing out that comparing SLS & Falcon-9 isn't a simple apples to apples comparison.

If we want to go down this route of purely looking at cost, what about the $74m India has spent to send a probe to Mars? Shall we ignore the fact that their launch vehicle, the PSLV can only lift 1,300kg into LEO?

Finally, how much of what Space-X (and India) have achieved is built on the knowledge gained from the NASA & Russian space programmes? Being first is always more expensive as you have to make the mistakes and learn the lessons.

(All figures from the trustable Wikipedia)

7
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: How about a little perspective here?

Excellent idea.

"You got your bird away after a few delays - better safe than sorry - and Falcon 9 has added another string to its bow by putting up a bird destined for GEO. SpaceX continues to undercut the market - who else does launches for less than 60 million? - and, if they can ramp up production then they can really dominate the market in the future - sell those ULA shares now, folks, while they're still worth something."

Err. ULA are too expensive for anyone who is not the US govt to afford them.

Their big selling point is the long list of successful launches. IIRC their most successful size has 40+ perfect launches, the total for either Delta IV or Atlas V is 60+ each.

"Next Generation? SLS is a very, very, very expensive rocket "

True.

"that has a high risk of being cancelled before its first flight and,"

You wish. Actually I wish too :( but that boat has sailed. The epic loads of pork being cooked up demand a launch, never mind that report after report states the Legislature have not given out adequate fund to do the job quickly and safely.

" after SpaceX gets their (first stage only) reusable F9 flying & of course their Falcon Heavy going uphill too, is bound to be cancelled after the the first or second flight."

I think Spacex will get FR and FH flying but that does not lead to SLS cancellation. Not going to happen in this universe. There is logic and there is politics. SLS is not driven by logic.

20 000 Kg is 28% of the baseline SLS and NASA are saying that version will likely run 105 tonnes.

Likewise FH is a tad over 50% of the 105mt base line and a tad over 40% of the full 130mt SLS.

However a) Even 5 F9 launches should be much cheaper than a single SLS and a viable option provided the biggest single load is propellant and transfer systems exist, either pumping fluids (sensible) or just attaching the tanks themselves (because despite talking about it for 40 years NASA still has not done any major LH2 transfer tests in orbit).

Spacex can beat SLS in the same way ULA beat Spacex. Reliability. IRL the only way to get good safety records is to launch lots of rockets (of the same basic design) that don't blow up.

Spacex has a manifest that will rack up those launches, in the same way that's it's racking up Dragon test experience with every cargo launch. At 1 launch every 2 years SLS will need to operate for a century to achieve the flight history of Atlas or Delta (IIRC DoD is looking for a minimum of 5 F9 successful launches to look at it for use on the EELV programme). . Just the 13 Saturn V launches would take 26 years.

But right now both FH and SLS are paper rockets. No I do not expect them to remain that way.

But logic does not drive the SLS programme.

2
0
Headmaster

Re: How about a little perspective here?

@ A Non e-mouse

Just nitpicking here but Falcon Heavy, according to Wikipedia, can put 53,000kg to LEO & 21,200kg to GTO.

@ John Smith 19

Politics is driving SLS, true, but there'll be a new president (guaranteed) in the White House in 2016. There is, in my opinion, a real possibility of the new team looking at SLS and the arguements for keeping workers employed, and Falcon Heavy, particularly if there have been a couple of successful launches (or more) by then, and deciding that they can save money by a: using FH and b: having those workers design & build something that ISN'T being done (cheaper) by the Private Sector.

And even if not, there MAY be a new president in 2020, certainly by 2024, and the comparison will look even worse then.

ULA has an outstanding record for launch success but they're expensive. With every successful SpaceX launch, the rationale for buying (expensive) launches from them is whittled down. It won't be in the next five years but after that, ULA may find itself getting remarkably few orders...

0
0

Re: How about a little perspective here?

"But right now both FH and SLS are paper rockets"

Actually the stages for the first Falcon Heavy are mostly assembled. The engine clusters ought to be test fired on the static stand in Texas early in the new year with an actual launch from Vandenberg lightly pencilled in for around April, though that will probably slip.

0
0

Re: How about a little perspective here?

ramps up to a flight rate of one launch per month by the end of next year,

@ John Smith 19

"Their big selling point is the long list of successful launches. IIRC their most successful size has 40+ perfect launches, the total for either Delta IV or Atlas V is 60+ each."

SpaceX is launching another comsat later this month and expects to be launching one Falcon 9 a month by the end of 2014. Nobody else can come anywhere near that. How long do the manufacturers have to wait to get a satellite launched? I don't know, but it's about to get a lot shorter.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: How about a little perspective here?

Even faster - recent stuff from SpaceX says they are ramping to 24 F9s /year.

Won't take long, providing most of them work, to overtake most of the incumbents.

Looking forward to the the first 1st stage return - that's gonna be something...hope the onboard camera works....

0
0
Gold badge

Re: How about a little perspective here?

"Well, he could always offer to loft birds for India or China."
I'm not sure that he could. Apart from the fact that India and China want to build their domestic capabilities, there are problems with trying to sell services to China (India I'm not sure). A certain senator would have a fit if he even read your comment.

The F9 would certainly be blocked for export, even if it used not a single component that was previously declaired ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations). Also talking to the Chinese (and possibly Indians) so that they knew enough to fly their bird on one would probably get you locked-up. As far as actually putting something in space for China goes, well just look at what happened to Thales. They developed a satellite that didn't use any American ITAR parts, specifically so that they could export it without ITAR issues. Even after they proved that it didn't use any ITAR restricted parts, the US still wouldn't leave them alone. It was as if China should not be able to have satellites.

I think that the F9 will get enough customers from the US and maybe Europe without having to worry about chasing orders in China and upsetting the big bad Wolf.

0
0
Gold badge
Meh

@Bristolbatchelor

"I'm not sure that he could. Apart from the fact that India and China want to build their domestic capabilities, there are problems with trying to sell services to China (India I'm not sure). A certain senator would have a fit if he even read your comment."

I think you have it backward.

The trouble is launching US satellites on chinese LV's.

The OP is talking about launching Chinese and Indian satellites on F9.

They ship it to the US. Spacex launch and F9 is only "exported" to orbit.

That is a very different prospect.

0
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

@Anonymous John

"SpaceX is launching another comsat later this month and expects to be launching one Falcon 9 a month by the end of 2014. "

Well certainly hope to be launching that many.(and I wish them well).

But IIRC they were looking at about six non NASA F9 launches this year.

I don't think they are going to fit the remaining 5 in by Dec 31, do you?

Yes I do expect them to close that launch reliability record quite fast. How fast is another matter.

0
0
Gold badge

Re: @Bristolbatchelor

The way it seems to me is that the F9 would facilitate China or India having a satellite in orbit. In the case of the Thales bird, it seems obvious that some in the US do not want China to have any satellites, so they get upset even when a European company manufactures a satellite for them, without using any "special sauce" ITAR components.

You also have to consider that the only reason Europe developed their own launcher was because of the conditions that the US put on launching anything for someone other than the US - and this was for it's best friends of the UK and France!

0
0

Re: How about a little perspective here?

The best way to make the SLS more economical -- or at least less outrageously expensive -- is to launch more of them. A large part of its expense is fixed infrastructure costs, not the per-unit manufacturing. As the U.S. government has proven time after time, the best way to make something expensive is to underfund it. As much as I support SpaceX, and hope that someday they can deliver the largest payloads at the lowest prices, I think we're better off in the short to medium term getting a heavy lift capability, and developing payloads to put on it.

If SpaceX someday gets its super-heavy lift Raptor powered monster out the door, more power to them. But until then, I'd prefer making a national asset that can loft big probes to wherever we need them to go. Regardless of whether you prefer human or robotic space flight, the heavy lift capacity will allow us to do things we could never have done without it. Now that the launcher is taking shape, I think it's time to respond with real missions.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Good.

Now they'll definitely have the money to continue working on the Falcon 9-R reusable stage 1.

3
0
Joke

Hyperloop

Well I never! What's next for serial entrepreneur Elon Musk? Some sort of tube like transport system?

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Hyperloop

Have an upvote for "serial entrepreneur." But I think Mr Musk would be better described as being parallel. If he keeps popping out companies/good ideas, he may even be upgraded to "massively parallel".

1
0
Happy

Re: Hyperloop

While Elon did draw attention to the possibilities of future transport, I personally don't think he had much impact.

As John Oliver (Daily Show) said while lampooning Elon, 'Hey, someone should go off & cure cancer! I'd do it myself but I'm more of an ideas man." Elon drew attention to the possibilities and then added that he wasn't going to put any of his time & money into it which caused the whole thing to fall a bit flat.

Still, given the man has his hands full with Tesla & SpaceX, perhaps it's best that he doesn't divide his attention any more.

0
0

What I love about this site.

Is that when it comes to article on space, there is not of the fanboi baiting that you get with the mobile phone articles etc .

Kudo's

1
1

Re: What I love about this site.

please, please, let me be the first to snipe at the apostrophe.

>Kudo's

Belonging to a certain mr kudo perhaps?

3
1

80k km apogee?

GEO is about 42k km radius, so I wonder why they overshoot it like that. Perhaps it means less delta-V requirement on the satellite motor to raise perigee.

2
0
Boffin

Re: 80k km apogee?

Actually it means less delta-V for reducing the inclination of the orbit to zero - i.e. make the sat fly over the equator, rather than wobble between 28° North and South latitude (their launch site being at about 28°N).

You still have to trade that for a bit *more* delta-V needed for the circularisation, as unfortunately there's no practicable way to trading some of that apogee altitude for perigee rising *). Still, it works out in the end.

*) Bootnote: That's because while the energy of an elliptical orbit with a certain semimajor axis may be the same as that of a circular one with the same radius, it's the instantaneous velocity vectors that don't match.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 80k km apogee?

GEO is about 42k km radius, so I wonder why they overshoot it like that. Perhaps it means less delta-V requirement on the satellite motor to raise perigee.

Not an overshoot. Planned and less costly in fuel which translates into lofting more cargo.

1
0

Re: 80k km apogee?

For info, NASA's GMAT mission planning program suite has this exact GEO mission as one of its included example scripts. http://gmat.gsfc.nasa.gov/

0
0
Pint

Not geostationary orbit - transfer orbit

Sorry to be pedantic, but to correct what's stated in the article:

This did not put its payload into geostationary orbit (circular, apogee == perigee etc.), but into a highly elliptical transfer orbit (perigee close to LEO, apogee close to or in this case well in excess of GEO). It would require another delta V at the appropriate time to go from transfer orbit to circular orbit.

I don't know if the payload has that capability or if it is a dummy payload just to test the GTO.

Perhaps "voyage to geostationary orbit" is designed to finesse that detail...

I'm reminded of the old physics joke about the rocket scientist being interviewed by the press on why their launch wasn't successful, saying: "It was successful - orbit achieved. The only issue was the details: apogee 240 miles, perigee 6 fathoms".

Beer - cos it's definitely time to leave the office...

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Not geostationary orbit - transfer orbit

The payload, had you bothered to check, is a 3.2 tonne communications satellite. Placed in a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Which I believe is the title of the next Muse album.

http://www.spacex.com/press/2013/12/03/spacex-successfully-completes-first-mission-geostationary-transfer-orbit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SES-8

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.