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SpaceX Launch Pad
Photo: SpaceXLaunch Pad 40 is the second pad south of
the Shuttle Launch Pads across from Titusville, Florida.
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About SpaceXSpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.
SpaceX has gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones. It is the only private company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in December 2010. The company made history again in May 2012 when its Dragon spacecraft attached to the International Space Station, exchanged cargo payloads, and returned safely to Earth — a technically challenging feat previously accomplished only by governments. Since then Dragon has delivered cargo to and from the space station multiple times, providing regular cargo resupply missions for NASA.
ADVANCING THE FUTURE
Under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. SpaceX will fly numerous cargo resupply missions to the !SS, for a total of at least 12 -and in the near future, SpaceX will carry crew as well. Dragon was designed from the outset to carry astronauts and now, under a $440 million agreement with NASA, SpaceX is making modifications to make Dragon crew-ready. SpaceX is the world's fastest-growing provider of launch services. Profitable and cash-flow positive, the company has nearly 50 launches on its manifest, representing close to $5 billion in contracts. These include commercial satellite launches as well as NASA missions.
Currently under development is the Falcon Heavy, which will be the worlds most powerful rocket. All the while. SpaceX continues to work toward one of its key goals—developing reusable rockets, a feat that will transform space exploration by delivenng highly reliable vehicles at radically reduced costs.
On April 8, 2016, the Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, and the first-stage returned and landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship.
FIRST LAND LANDING
On December 21, 2015, the Falcon 9 rocket delivered 11 communications satellites to orbit, and the first-stage returned and landed at Landing Zone 1 - the first-ever orbital class rocket landing.
PAD ABORT TEST
Crew Dragon tests launch abort system, which can provide astronauts with escape capability all the way to orbit.
News From SpaceX
SpaceX Webcasts •• Local viewing places
Updates on the SpaceX website •• SpaceX videos on YouTube
Titusville's Best Launch Viewing Sites
March 30, 2017
Remote cameras placed at launch pad 39A by SpaceX captured amazing views of the reused Falcon 9 booster blasting off Thursday evening: https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/04/01/photos-spacexs-photos-from-thursdays-reflight-of-falcon-9-booster/
WATCH LIVE: SES-10 MISSIONSpaceX is targeting launch of the SES-10 mission today, Thursday, March 30th, from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SES-10 mission will mark a historic milestone on the road to full and rapid reusability as SpaceX attempts the world's first reflight of an orbital class rocket. Falcon 9's first stage for the SES-10 mission previously supported a successfull space station cargo resupply mission for NASA in April 2016.
The launch window opens at 6:27 pm EDT or 10:27 pm UTC, and the launch will be broadcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at approximately 6:07 pm EDT or 10:07 pm UTC. For more information, visit www.spacex.com.
January 13, 2017
IRIDIUM-1 MISSIONSpaceX is targeting launch of the Iridium-1 mission tomorrow, January 14, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window opens at 9:54:39 am PST or 5:54:39 pm UTC, and the launch will be broadcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at approximately 9:34 am PST or 5:34 pm UTC.
With this mission, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium's next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT. For more information, visit www.spacex.com.
THAICOM 8 Mission OverviewSpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will deliver THAICOM 8, a commercial communications satellite for Thaicom, to a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Thaicom is one of Asia's leading Asian satellite operators, influencing and innovating communications on a global scale.
SpaceX is targeting launch of THAICOM 8 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on May 26 with a backup date of May 27. The approximately two-hour launch window opens on May 26 at 5:40 pm ET, 9:40 pm UTC. A backup launch window on May 27 opens at approximately the same time. The satellite will be deployed about 32 minutes after liftoff.
Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 will attempt an experimental landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship. As with other missions going to geostationary orbits, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging.
The satellite will be delivered to a supersynchronous transfer orbit that will later be reduced by the satellite to an approximately 35,800 kilometers circular geostationary orbit.
PayloadThe payload for this launch will be the satellite built by Orbital ATK, and its mission is to provide Ku-band communications satellite, a commercial communications coverage for South Asia and Southeast Asia.
THAICOM 8 will be the fifth operational satellite for Thaicom. When THAICOM 8 launches, it will strengthen Thaicom's broadcast platform at 78.5 degrees east longitude providing South Asia and Southeast Asia with broadcast and data services.
The spacecraft is about 3,000 kg and has an operational design life of 15 years. For more information about THAICOM 8, click here.
Launch FacilitySpace Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
SpaceX's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is a world-class launch site that builds on a strong heritage. The site, located at the north end of the Cape, was used for many years to launch Titan rockets, among the most powerful rockets in the U.S. fleet. SpaceX took over the facility in May 2008.
The center of the complex is composed of the concrete launch pad and flame exhaust duct. Surrounding the pad are four lightning towers, propellant storage tanks, and the integration hangar. Before launch, Falcon 9's stages and payload are housed inside the hangar. The THAICOM 8 satellite was encapsulated at the SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral. The encapsulated payload was transported to the SLC-40 hangar and mated to the Falcon 9 already on the transporter erector. The rocket and payload are then rolled out from the hangar to the launch pad on fixed rails and lifted to a vertical position prior to launch.
ResourcesSPACEX CONTACT | John Taylor, Director of Communications, 310-363-6703, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTOS | High-resolution photos will be posted at spacex.com/media and flickr.com/spacex.
WEBCAST | Launch webcast will be live about 20 minutes before launch at spacex.com/webcast.
SpaceX invites you to watch their next live event: Jason-3Sunday, January 17th, 2016 at 1:42 PM EST on spacex
With this mission, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the Jason-3 satellite to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). The Jason-3 launch is targeted for a 10:42am PT launch from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif...
Historic Landing of Falcon 9 First Stage at Landing Zone 1Published on Dec 21, 2015
The very first Falcon 9 first stage has successfully landed at Landing Zone 1, formally Launch Complex 13, of Cape Canaveral after launching as part of the OG-2 return to flight mission from Space Launch Complex 40 just 10 minutes before landing.
VIDEO CREDITS: SpaceX
Location of SpaceX Landing Zone 1
Also, click here and go to December 21, 2015 on the SpaceX Facebook page.
Click here for Elon Musk's Background on tonight's launch and landing.
Click here for SpaceX's Livestream details on the entire ORBCOMM-2 mission.
CRS-7 Investigation UpdateOn June 28, 2015, following a nominal liftoff, Falcon 9 experienced an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank approximately 139 seconds into flight, resulting in loss of mission. This summary represents an initial assessment, but further investigation may reveal more over time.
Prior to the mishap, the first stage of the vehicle, including all nine Merlin 1D engines, operated nominally; the first stage actually continued to power through the overpressure event on the second stage for several seconds following the mishap. In addition, the Dragon spacecraft not only survived the second stage event, but also continued to communicate until the vehicle dropped below the horizon and out of range.
SpaceX has led the investigation efforts with oversight from the FAA and participation from NASA and the U.S. Air Force. Review of the flight data proved challenging both because of the volume of data —over 3,000 telemetry channels as well as video and physical debris—and because the key events happened very quickly.
From the first indication of an issue to loss of all telemetry was just 0.893 seconds. Over the last few weeks, engineering teams have spent thousands of hours going through the painstaking process of matching up data across rocket systems down to the millisecond to understand that final 0.893 seconds prior to loss of telemetry.
At this time, the investigation remains ongoing, as SpaceX and the investigation team continue analyzing significant amounts of data and conducting additional testing that must be completed in order to fully validate these conclusions. However, given the currently available data, we believe we have identified a potential cause.
Preliminary analysis suggests the overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank was initiated by a flawed piece of support hardware (a "strut") inside the second stage. Several hundred struts fly on every Falcon 9 vehicle, with a cumulative flight history of several thousand. The strut that we believe failed was designed and material certified to handle 10,000 lbs of force, but failed at 2,000 lbs, a five-fold difference. Detailed close-out photos of stage construction show no visible flaws or damage of any kind.
In the case of the CRS-7 mission, it appears that one of these supporting pieces inside the second stage failed approximately 138 seconds into flight. The pressurization system itself was performing nominally, but with the failure of this strut, the helium system integrity was breached. This caused a high pressure event inside the second stage within less than one second and the stage was no longer able to maintain its structural integrity.
Despite the fact that these struts have been used on all previous Falcon 9 flights and are certified to withstand well beyond the expected loads during flight, SpaceX will no longer use these particular struts for flight applications. In addition, SpaceX will implement additional hardware quality audits throughout the vehicle to further ensure all parts received perform as expected per their certification documentation.
As noted above, these conclusions are preliminary. Our investigation is ongoing until we exonerate all other aspects of the vehicle, but at this time, we expect to return to flight this fall and fly all the customers we intended to fly in 2015 by end of year.
While the CRS-7 loss is regrettable, this review process invariably will, in the end, yield a safer and more reliable launch vehicle for all of our customers, including NASA, the United States Air Force, and commercial purchasers of launch services. Critically, the vehicle will be even safer as we begin to carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.
June 28 -- SpaceX Rocket Launch Scheduled
10:21am EDT -- Launch Pad 40 - SpaceX Falcon 9. Launching the seventh cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight will deliver several tons of supplies, such as new science experiments and technology research, as well as the first of two International Docking Adapters. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 9 a.m. EDT: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.
Space View Park in Titusville Launch Party
Starts at 9:21am. There will be giveaways of neon-green commemorative T-shirts, sunscreen and other items.
THE WHY AND HOW OF LANDING ROCKETSSome of you may have been following our recent attempts to vertically land the first stage of our Falcon 9 rocket back on Earth. There was this attempt in January, followed by this one in April.
These landing attempts move us toward our goal of producing a fully and rapidly reusable rocket system, which will dramatically reduce the cost of space transport.
A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don't junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York. Yet when it comes to space travel, rockets fly only once—even though the rocket itself represents the majority of launch cost.
The Space Shuttle was technically reusable, but its giant fuel tank was discarded after each launch, and its side boosters parachuted into corrosive salt water every flight, beginning a long and involved process of retrieval and reprocessing. So, what if we could mitigate those factors by landing rockets gently and precisely on land? Refurbishment time and cost would be dramatically reduced.
Historically, most rockets have needed to use all of their available fuel in order to get their payload into space. SpaceX rockets were built from the beginning with reusability in mind—they have enough built-in fuel margin to deliver a Dragon to the space station and return the first-stage to Earth. That extra fuel is needed to reignite the engines a few times to slow the rocket down and ultimately land the first stage after it has sent the spacecraft on its way.
In addition to extra fuel, we've added a few critical features to our Falcon 9 first stage for reusability's sake. Our rocket has small, foldable heat-resistant wings called grid fins needed for steering the first-stage as it plummets from the edge of space through Earth's atmosphere, cold-gas thrusters on the top of the first-stage that are used to flip the rocket around as it begins its journey back to Earth, and strong but lightweight carbon fiber landing legs that deploy as it approaches touchdown. All of these systems, while built and programmed by humans, are totally automated once the rocket is launched—and are reacting and adjusting their behavior based on incoming, real-time data.
So, what have we learned from the most recent landing attempts?
The first attempt to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic was in January, and while we came close, the first stage prematurely ran out of the hydraulic fluid that is used to steer the small fins that help control the rocket's descent. The vehicle has now been equipped with much more of that critical fluid for steering purposes.
Our second attempt was in April, and we came close to sticking this landing. Check out this previously unreleased, longer video from our tracking camera. It shows the stage's descent through the atmosphere, when the vehicle is traveling faster than the speed of sound, all the way to touchdown.
That controlled descent was successful, but about 10 seconds before landing, a valve controlling the rocket's engine power (thrust) temporarily stopped responding to commands as quickly as it should have. As a result, it throttled down a few seconds later than commanded, and—with the rocket weighing about 67,000 lbs and traveling nearly 200 mph at this point—a few seconds can be a very long time. With the throttle essentially stuck on "high" and the engine firing longer than it was supposed to, the vehicle temporarily lost control and was unable to recover in time for landing, eventually tipping over.
Last-second tilt aside, the landing attempt happened pretty much exactly as planned. Shortly after stage separation (when the second stage leaves the first stage behind and goes on to carry Dragon to orbit), cold gas thrusters fired to flip the stage to reorient it for reentry. Then, three engines lit for a "boostback burn" that slows the rocket and brings it toward the landing site.
The engines then re-lit to slow the stage for reentry through Earth's atmosphere, and grid fins (this time with much more hydraulic fluid) extended to steer the lift produced by the stage. Our atmosphere is like molasses to an object traveling at Mach 4, and the grid fins are essential for landing with precision. The final landing burn ignited, and together the grid fins, cold gas thrusters and steerable engines controlled the vehicle, keeping the stage within 15 meters of its target trajectory throughout the landing burn. The vehicle's legs deployed just before it reached our drone ship, "Just Read the Instructions", where the stage landed within 10 meters of the target, albeit a bit too hard to stay upright.
Post-launch analysis has confirmed the throttle valve as the sole cause of this hard landing. The team has made changes to help prevent, and be able to rapidly recover from, similar issues for the next attempt, which will be on our next launch—the eighth Falcon 9 and Dragon cargo mission to the space station, currently scheduled for this Sunday.
Even given everything we've learned, the odds of succeeding on our third attempt to land on a drone ship (a new one named "Of Course I Still Love You") are uncertain, but tune in here this Sunday as we try to get one step closer toward a fully and rapidly reusable rocket.
The test window will open at 7 a.m. EDT on May 6, 2015. I doubt it will be visable from Titusville. - webmaster
5 Things to Know About SpaceX's Pad Abort TestCrew Dragon's first critical flight test, known as a Pad Abort Test, is expected to take place this Wednesday, May 6, from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. While the test is originating from the same launch pad we use for operational missions, this is not an operational flight.
This will be the first flight test of SpaceX's revolutionary new launch abort system, and the odds of encountering delays or issues are high. Fortunately the test doesn't need to be perfect to be valuable—our primary objective is to capture as much data as possible as the data captured here will be key in preparing Crew Dragon for its first human missions in 2017.
1. What is a Pad Abort Test?
A Pad Abort Test is a trial run for a spacecraft's launch abort system (sometimes called a launch escape system). This system is designed to quickly get the crew and spacecraft away from the rocket in the event of a potential failure. It is similar to an ejection seat for a fighter pilot, but instead of ejecting the pilot out of the spacecraft, the entire spacecraft is "ejected" away from the launch vehicle.
2. How is SpaceX's Launch Abort System different than those of other spacecraft?
Previous launch abort systems have been powered by a rocket tower mounted on top of the spacecraft. During an emergency, the tower would ignite and essentially pull the spacecraft to safety. This works well while the spacecraft is on the launch pad and for a few minutes into ascent, but once the vehicle reaches a certain altitude, the system is no longer useful and must be discarded.
SpaceX's launch abort system, however, is integrated directly into the spacecraft. This means Crew Dragon will have launch escape capability from the launch pad all the way to orbit.
Instead of a separate rocket tower mounted on top of the spacecraft, SpaceX's launch abort system leverages eight SuperDraco rocket engines built into the walls of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The SuperDracos are capable of producing 120,000 lbs of axial thrust in under a second, which results in transporting the Crew Dragon spacecraft nearly 100 meters (328 ft) in 2 seconds, and more than half a kilometer (1/3 mi) in just over 5 seconds.
3. What will the actual Pad Abort Test look like?
The graphic below illustrates the Pad Abort Test trajectory and sequence of events:
T-0: The eight SuperDracos ignite simultaneously and reach maximum thrust, propelling the spacecraft off the pad.
T+.5s: After half a second of vertical flight, Crew Dragon pitches toward the ocean and continues its controlled burn. The SuperDraco engines throttle to control the trajectory based on real-time measurements from the vehicle's sensors.
T+5s: The abort burn is terminated once all propellant is consumed and Dragon coasts for just over 15 seconds to its highest point about 1500 meters (.93 mi) above the launch pad.
T+21s: The trunk is jettisoned and the spacecraft begins a slow rotation with its heat shield pointed toward the ground again.
T+25s: Small parachutes, called drogues, are deployed first during a 4-6 second window following trunk separation.
T+35s: Once the drogue parachutes stabilize the vehicle, three main parachutes deploy and further slow the spacecraft before splashdown.
T+107s: Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean about 2200 meters (1.4 mi) downrange of the launch pad.
Crew Dragon will accelerate from 0 to nearly 100 mph in one second. The entire test is less than two minutes long, with Dragon traveling over one mile in the first 20 seconds alone.
4. What do we hope to learn from this test?
As the first flight test of SpaceX's launch abort system, every piece of data we gather moves us closer to our first crewed flights in 2017. At a top level, we are looking to demonstrate the overall effectiveness of Crew Dragon's launch escape system, along with a handful of more specific objectives:
Sequencing. Demonstrate proper sequencing of the pad abort timeline—particularly given that several critical commands need to execute in very short periods of time.
Closed Loop Control. Demonstrate the ability of the eight SuperDraco engines to respond in real time to incoming data in order to ensure Crew Dragon stays on the appropriate course.
Trajectory Data. Obtain accurate trajectory data both for maximum altitude as well as distance downrange.
External and Internal Environments. Obtain data on impact of various internal and external factors to Crew Dragon to help ensure safe conditions for crew transport.
5. Will there be anyone on board during the pad abort test?
There will be a dummy on board the spacecraft, but despite popular belief, his name is not Buster. Buster the Dummy already works for a great show you may have heard of called MythBusters. Our dummy prefers to remain anonymous for the time being.
The purpose of the dummy is to collect data on the forces (gravitational loads) being experienced inside the spacecraft. This along with data gathered from the vehicle will help ensure crewmembers can withstand the environments seen during a launch abort. What's Next?
Pending the outcome of the pad abort test, SpaceX will then conduct an in-flight abort test. With the in-flight abort, we will test the same launch abort system, however this time in mid-flight during an actual launch. Both the pad abort and in-flight abort will be challenging tests, but the data gathered here will be key to helping develop one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown.
April 27, 2015
T h a l e s M i s s i o n