SpaceX Has 'Big Plans' For Reusable Falcon 9, Says Elon Musk

The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket is hauled up pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for an engine test firing

The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket is hauled up pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for an engine test firing

Hawthorne-based SpaceX Thursday afternoon will launch an upgraded and what it's calling a "final version" of its Falcon 9 rocket to boost Bangladesh's first communications satellite into orbit. His speech mentioned details including redesigning a pressure vessel which was associated in the explosion of rocket in 2016. All this will allow the first stage booster to fly at least 10 times without refurbishment and up to 100 total flights in its lifespan with refurbishment.

"That is the design intent", he said. "I hope fate does not penalize me for these words, however that is unquestionably the intent. And I think our most conservative customers would agree with that".

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket made its debut on Friday, May 11, and was overall a resounding success. SpaceX blamed "a basic ground system auto abort" for stopping the countdown 58 seconds prior to liftoff.

Musk said the scientists at SpaceX put their best effort into creating extremely reliable COPVs, or composite overwrapped pressure vessels, used to store helium to pressurize the propellant tanks in the launcher's second stage. In September 2016, a Falcon 9 blew up throughout preparations for a fixed fire test and damaged a telecom satellite for Israeli fleet operator Spacecom.

SpaceX tracked the cause to liquid oxygen at the top phase tank which has trapped between the COPV overwrap and lining and sparked either from friction or alternative mechanics.

Starting with version Block 5 design, the Falcon 9 will be frozen, and SpaceX will focus on the completion of the development of manned spacecraft Dragon 2 and the creation of super-heavy launch BFR. "It is nuts. I have personally gone across the layout; I can not count how many occasions". The leading engineering minds at SpaceX have actually struggled over this ... "I think we are in a good situation".

Musk said that the COPVs finally have a burst pressure "over double what they're in fact packed to on the mat".

"The word "block" is a bit odd".

Hans Koenigsmann, a senior SpaceX manager said in a press statement,"Block 5 basically summarizes all that we learned on reusability". The Merlin motors on this very first version had 95,000 lbs of thrust for every first-stage motor and 92,500 lbs of thrust to the second-stage engine optimization. It is the company's most reusable version of the rocket and the final version of the Falcon 9. "We kind of took it from Russian (all three stage rocket "Soyuz-FG" and "Soyuz-2" is formed by the blocks A, B, C, G, D, E and I)", - said Musk. "The secret to Block 5 is that it's developed to do 10 or more flights without any fix in between each flight". We tried to summarize all of these lessons learned into a booster that then is able to fly and be recovered and fly again multiple times without a lot of refurbishment.

Hopefully, as time goes on, we see the Block 5 Falcon 9 pick up more and more speed in terms of relaunches - bringing SpaceX closer and closer to a 24 hour turnaround for their launches. The big Falcon rocket will be used for exploring the planet Mars and the goal is to accomplish the successful exploration of Mars by 2022. Additionally, it is designed for simpler manufacturing.

Musk stated the Falcon 9's octaweb structure, utilized to support all 9 first stage engines and offer compartmentalization in case several stops working, is now much more powerful.

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