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Falcon Heavy maiden flight (mission thread)


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#1 DocM

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 08:13 PM

With Falcon Heavy #1 now being constructed in SpaceX's Hawthorne, California factory, and likely to be shipped to McGregor, Texas for testing later this year, it's about time to start following its progress.

Falcon Heavy will have the capacity to launch more mass to low Earth orbit (LEO) than any launcher since Saturn V (13 launches) and Energia (2 launches),

53,000 kilograms (117,000 lb) to low Earth orbit (LEO)

21,200 kilograms (46,700 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO)

13,200 kilograms (29,100 lb) to Mars

The 53,000 kg payload to LEO puts FH into the "super heavy-lift" class as defined by the NASA human spaceflight review panel. It will be human rated.

With the standard 5.2x13.1 meter payload fairing FH will be 68.4 meters (224.4 feet) tall, but there are indications a longer fairing is in the works - about 5.2x19 meters. This is likely for launching Bigelow Aerospace's BA-330 commercial spaces station modules. FH should be about 74 meters (242.8 feet) tall with the enhanced fairing.

JimNtexas , a pilot who frequents NASASpaceFlight.com, flew over SpaceX's McGregor test facility yesterday and took some interesting pics. One of note is the FH test stand, zoomed and enhanced below.

When viewing Jim's gallery remember that a Falcon 9 first stage like what's on the tripod stand, and F9R Dev-1, are both over 150 feet tall.

Gallery link....

Zoom of Falcon Heavy stand. The tower to the left is the stage pressure qualification stand.
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Falcon Heavy (SpaceX graphic)
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#2 Anvel

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 02:35 PM

I have no idea whether they will fly a dummy payload on the maiden flight or not or whether it will simulate a large mass to LEO or something to GTO, but it would be interesting to see them fly an unmanned Dragon on a circumlunar mission with a free return to test the capsule's reentry characteristics at those speeds. Might as well go for the gold while you're at it. Here's wishing, anyway.



#3 DocM

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 06:32 PM

Odds are no, not wanting to upstage NASA's 2017 EM-1 circumlunar mission and their congressional supporters. Delicate politics. Bad enough that BFR may fly crews before SLS.

Edited by DocM, 15 July 2014 - 06:32 PM.

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#4 DocM

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 04:55 PM

The Falcon Heavy test article cores are being shipped to their McGregor, TX test center.

They have a lot of fit and process checkouts to do before we get public notice of a "SEVERELY loud SpaceX test" from the McGregor public safety folks.

Edited by DocM, 24 February 2015 - 05:08 PM.

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#5 Anvel

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 05:39 PM

Are the test article cores the same cores that will be used on the maiden flight?



#6 DocM

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 05:55 PM

Dunno. The Falcon 9 1.0 and 1.1 test articles turned into Grasshopper and F9R Dev-1. My guess is no, changes will be made depending on lessons learned at McGregor.

Edited by DocM, 24 February 2015 - 05:56 PM.

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#7 SJQ

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 06:35 PM

I'm with Anvel, and politics be damned - do something spectacular, and perhaps the brain-trust directing NASA into irrelevance might be forced to pay attention, or just get the hell out of the way.

 

But if we gotta make nice with the idjits on Capitol Hill, maybe Spacex could launch a (couple of) Bigelow modules into orbit?  Seems a waste to just push deadweight mass into space; even tanks of water, air, ammonia, whatever consumables the ISS needs, would be better than what otherwise would be an expensive rock.  The stores wouldn't need to be docked to the ISS, just put them in a reasonably close orbit; not "hot spares" just "pre-positioned spares".


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#8 DocM

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 06:46 PM

Bigelow won't launch until Dragon v2 and CST-100 are certified, but SpaceX inked a deal with them for launches in 2012. Bigelow's GATE-2 study for NASA also detailed how Falcon Heavy would be used to launch their modules. It included a new fairing which would take FH from 224 feet tall to about 245 feet.

No, I can't post GATE-2, still embargoed, but the fairing size did leak out so it's fair game.

Edited by DocM, 24 February 2015 - 07:00 PM.

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#9 ESK

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 07:14 PM

Any pictures on the construction of the Stargate ? I think it will be called the Stargate down in Brownsville.



#10 DocM

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 09:03 PM

The construction process has just started. The U. Texas Brownsville-SpaceX S.T.A.R.G.A.T.E. joint venture will be just southwest of the dual launch control centers. It'll be focused on R&D, commercialization, space tracking and radio-astronomy.

From NSF and shrunk for bandwidth. Don't spread. Not all land acquisitions shown
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Edited by DocM, 24 February 2015 - 09:08 PM.

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#11 ESK

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 09:16 PM

man it looks like they will need plenty of sand pumped in from the gulf



#12 DocM

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Posted 24 February 2015 - 09:42 PM

Not really. Not all that's dark is water or wet.
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#13 flynn

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 07:16 AM

http://spaceflightno...ses-at-pad-39a/

 

SpaceX began erecting a new hangar at a former space shuttle launch pad in Florida last week, moving the historic facility closer to launching astronauts again.

Positioned at the south perimeter of launch pad 39A, the hangar sits on the gravel crawlerway used to transport Saturn 5 moon rockets and space shuttles from the nearby Vehicle Assembly building to the launch pad.

SpaceX has no plans to use the mammoth VAB, the crawlerway or NASA’s huge diesel-powered crawler-transporters, which are being upgraded for the Space Launch System, an enormous government-owned launcher designed to take humans into deep space, and eventually Mars.

 

Click link for full story

 

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Photo Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now


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#14 DocM

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 10:34 AM

It's further along now, having the roof framing etc. Around 65 feet high and will be 300+ feet long.
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#15 newsartist

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 10:55 AM

Is it on wheels so it can be moved when Big Bird Two needs that pad? 



#16 DocM

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 11:13 AM

Big Bird Two meaning BFR?

This was discussed at length on NSF. If BFR were to fly from LC-39A they'd probably build a new hangar and ramp at 90°.

If you mean SLS, it'll use LC-39B. That pad and VAB are already modified for it.

Edited by DocM, 25 February 2015 - 11:14 AM.

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#17 ESK

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 05:22 PM

Wow, BFR would need a building as large as the VAB ?



#18 DocM

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Posted 25 February 2015 - 05:34 PM

BFR stages are likely to be horizontally processed, but with a much larger hangar. Payload integration being horizontal or vertical is up for grabs.

BFR flying from LC-39A is low on the probability list because it's only rated for 12.5 million lbf of thrust and BFR is likely to exceed that. More likely is BFR flying from Texas.

Another long shot is a mini-BFR to eventually replace Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9. The pro case is that having a single core to deal with would simplify ground launch ops and landings, as well as having a reusable upper stage.

Edited by DocM, 25 February 2015 - 05:38 PM.

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#19 DocM

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 05:19 PM

Hangar progress, plus the transporter rail wheels and high strength concrete rail ties. The concrete beds for the rails are part way done.

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#20 DocM

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Posted 28 February 2015 - 07:16 PM

Speaking of the SpaceX LC-39A Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF),

@flatoday_jdean
@kelifson yes both, actually. Will hold up to five Falcon cores for FH and F9.


Sounds like they're preparing to play Run and Gun at their new pads.
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#21 DocM

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 10:05 PM

Getting closer, though pad work has moved it later into Q4.

The cores are working their way avross the flooe at Hawthorne. The boosters are F9 cores with bolt on attachment hardware, nose cones and a software update. The center core has a beefed up Octaweb and interstage, thicker tank walls, the booster attachment & release mechanisms and it's own software.

500,000 lbs of steel has been removed from the fixed service structure, and work has started on removing the rotating service structure. The crew service arm construction has begun offsite. They will also be adding 2 levels to the fixed service structure.

Note the tent. They're building the new launch table under it.

The vertical beams around the tent are massive 60 foot (18.3 meter) tall "rainbirds" - water deluges to reduce the huge acoustic impulse generated by Falcon Heavy's 27 Merlin 1D++ engines suddenly producing 5,130,000 lbf (22,819,000 Newtons) of thrust. About the same as 18 Boeing 747 airliners, or 5.96 times the thrust of a ULA Atlas V 401. This beast is going to be loud.

BFR will generate 3-4 times as much thrust on liftoff

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Edited by DocM, 17 June 2016 - 10:08 PM.

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#22 DocM

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 12:10 PM

It can be shared now that it's gone public side on NSF.

Falcon Heavy #1's center core is being prepped for shipment to McGregor, and spied partly uncovered on the street outside Hawthorne. Boosters to follow. Massively strengthened Octaweb to handle the loads, along with booster connectors etc.

This thing is gonna be wicked
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#23 DocM

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:33 AM

HEADS UP!!

A Falcon Heavy side booster left Hawthorne last night!! Obvious because it had a nose cone in place of the interstage, and the front dolley wheels were repositioned. Likely a reused core, checking for which one.

Instagram video

Edited by DocM, 07 February 2017 - 10:33 AM.

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#24 DocM

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 01:18 PM

Rumors are this side core is the Thaicom-8 booster.
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#25 ESK

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 01:20 PM

Is there a reason for using a used booster for the first Falcon Heavy, and not use 3 new ones?





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