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SpaceX Announces Falcon Heavy Rocket  
User currently offlinewolbo From Netherlands, joined Mar 2007, 501 posts, RR: 1
Posted (4 years 3 months 20 hours ago) and read 5016 times:

Interesting announcement from SpaceX today. The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful (operational) rocket in the world. First launch is planned for 2013. Always good to see more developments in the market for launch vehicles.


10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineGST From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2008, 941 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 3 months 19 hours ago) and read 4981 times:

It will be powered by SpaceX’s upgraded Merlin engines

Is anyone else thinking Spitfires, Lancs, and Mustangs in space here?

Initially I thought that a 27 motor first stage would be a recipe for high catastrophic failure rates based on the probability of eventual failures but if their calculations are correct...

and can tolerate the failure of several engines and still complete its mission. As on commercial airliners, protective shells surround each engine to contain a worst-case situation such as fire or a chamber rupture, and prevent it from affecting the other engines and stages.

...then this should be an awesome piece of machinery!

I will follow this with interest.

User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 11081 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (4 years 3 months 18 hours ago) and read 4951 times:

Where does their financing come from?

They seem to have big projects.

There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlinetugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 6128 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (4 years 3 months 16 hours ago) and read 4890 times:

I have been reading about this all morning! A truly impressive thing if it is done in the time frame announced and performs as advertized.

Good luck to SpaceX!

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 2):
Where does their financing come from?

It is a privately held company that is using it's own and venture capital.

This is why privately held companies are better than public companies, they can do things and take risks that public shareholders would never accept. Lockheed and Boeing are the other big guns in space launch and are publicly traded companies and could never do this as it goes against "shareholder value" the development they do is incremental and funded by government contracts.


I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlineDiamondFlyer From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1917 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (4 years 3 months 15 hours ago) and read 4888 times:

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 2):
Where does their financing come from?

They seem to have big projects.

Paypal. Elon Musk, the owner of SpaceX, was the guy who had PayPal for a while. He also runs Tesla motors. I'm glad to see them finally announce a Falcon (9) Heavy. I always thought it would be cool to see what you could do with that number of engines put together.


User currently offlineJoeCanuck From Canada, joined Dec 2005, 5948 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (4 years 3 months 14 hours ago) and read 4859 times:

It's the Vostok model; lots of smaller engines instead of a few big engines. More things to go wrong but one or two engines failing doesn't mean the failure of the mission.

What the...?
User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 3 months 14 hours ago) and read 4846 times:

Here is the press release I got from SpaceX via email:

Falcon Heavy will lift more than twice as much as any other launch vehicle

WASHINGTON – Today, Elon Musk, CEO and chief rocket designer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) unveiled the dramatic final specifications and launch date for the Falcon Heavy, the world’s largest rocket.

“Falcon Heavy will carry more payload to orbit or escape velocity than any vehicle in history, apart from the Saturn V moon rocket, which was decommissioned after the Apollo program. This opens a new world of capability for both government and commercial space missions,” Musk told a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

"Falcon Heavy will arrive at our Vandenberg, California, launch complex by the end of next year, with liftoff to follow soon thereafter. First launch from our Cape Canaveral launch complex is planned for late 2013 or 2014.”

Musk added that with the ability to carry satellites or interplanetary spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons or 117,000 pounds to orbit, Falcon Heavy will have more than twice the performance of the Space Shuttle or Delta IV Heavy, the next most powerful vehicle, which is operated by United Launch Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.

Just for perspective, 53 metric tons is more than the maximum take-off weight of a fully-loaded Boeing 737-200 with 136 passengers. In other words, Falcon Heavy can deliver the equivalent of an entire airline flight full of passengers, crew, luggage and fuel all the way to orbit.

View the launch simulation video at www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=59 or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTwRxtmQ9IY

Falcon Heavy’s first stage will be made up of three nine-engine cores, which are used as the first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. It will be powered by SpaceX’s upgraded Merlin engines currently being tested at the SpaceX rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas. Falcon Heavy will generate 3.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. This is the equivalent to the thrust of fifteen Boeing 747s taking off at the same time.

Above all, Falcon Heavy has been designed for extreme reliability. Unique safety features of the Falcon 9 are preserved, such as the ability to complete its mission even if multiple engines fail. Like a commercial airliner, each engine is surrounded by a protective shell that contains a worst case situation like fire or a chamber rupture, preventing it from affecting other engines or the vehicle itself.

Anticipating potential astronaut transport needs, Falcon Heavy is also designed to meet NASA human rating standards, unlike other satellite launch vehicles. For example, this means designing to higher structural safety margins of 40% above flight loads, rather than the 25% level of other rockets, and triple redundant avionics.

Falcon Heavy will be the first rocket in history to do propellant cross-feed from the side boosters to the center core, thus leaving the center core with most of its propellant after the side boosters separate. The net effect is that Falcon Heavy achieves performance comparable to a three stage rocket, even though only the upper stage is airlit, further improving both payload performance and reliability. Crossfeed is not required for missions below 100,000 lbs, and can be turned off if desired.

Despite being designed to higher structural margins than other rockets, the side booster stages will have a mass ratio (full of propellant vs empty) above 30, better than any vehicle of any kind in history.

Falcon Heavy, with more than twice the payload, but less than one third the cost of a Delta IV Heavy, will provide much needed relief to government and commercial budgets. In fact, Falcon Heavy at approximately $1,000 per pound to orbit, sets a new world record in affordable spaceflight.

This year, even as the Department of Defense budget was cut, the EELV launch program, which includes the Delta IV, still saw a thirty percent increase.

The 2012 budget for four Air Force launches is $1.74B, which is an average of $435M per launch. Falcon 9 is offered on the commercial market for $50-60M and Falcon Heavy is offered for $80-$125M. Unlike our competitors, this price includes all non-recurring development costs and on-orbit delivery of an agreed upon mission. For government missions, NASA has added mission assurance and additional services to the Falcon 9 for less than $20M.

Vehicle Overview

Mass to Orbit (200 km, 28.5 deg): 53 metric tons (117,000 lbs)
Length: 69.2 meters (227 ft)
Max Stage Width: 5.2 m (17 ft)
Total Width: 11.6 meters (38 ft)
Weight at Liftoff: 1,400 metric tons or 3.1 million lbs
Thrust on Liftoff: 1,700 metric tons or 3.8 million lbs

Please note that Falcon Heavy should not be confused with the super heavy lift rocket program being debated by the US Congress. That vehicle is intended to carry approximately 150 tons to orbit. SpaceX agrees with the need to develop a vehicle of that class as the best way to conduct a large number of human missions to Mars.

User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6576 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (4 years 3 months 12 hours ago) and read 4801 times:

27 motors? Isn't this sort of design what doomed the N1?

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13423 posts, RR: 77
Reply 8, posted (4 years 3 months 8 hours ago) and read 4741 times:

Quoting JoeCanuck (Reply 5):
It's the Vostok model; lots of smaller engines instead of a few big engines. More things to go wrong but one or two engines failing doesn't mean the failure of the mission.
Quoting N328KF (Reply 7):
27 motors? Isn't this sort of design what doomed the N1?

Also worth considering the number of engines on the Vostok rocket, 50 years on after launching Gagarin, essentially the same vehicle is still launching humans into space.........

N1 I think was blighted by too little money, too much political pressure, too much in-fighting/rivalry between designers, serious technological limitations on the computerised control system and the death in 1966 of Korolev - the driving force behind the whole Soviet program - which made the interpersonal tensions in their industry much worse.
Though even without these, the US would still have won the Moon race.

This Space X rocket is a very exciting development, so far, I'd not bet against their record.

User currently offlinegigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 81
Reply 9, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4038 times:

It won't always have 27 motors. The current plan has both the Falcon 9 and the heavy derivative using a next-gen 2 engine core based on the Merlin 2 within a 5 year timeline. So the heavy will have 6 engines and the standard will have 2.


User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 91 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4034 times:

Quoting gigneil (Reply 9):
The current plan has both the Falcon 9 and the heavy derivative using a next-gen 2 engine core based on the Merlin 2 within a 5 year timeline.

From what I have read, the Merlin 2 isn't actively being pursued (publicly). SpaceX has stated that it will take $1B and 3 years.

By the way, if made, the Merlin 2 would be the most powerful rocket engine ever made including the mighty Rocketdyne F1 that powered the Saturn V first stage.

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