Something like this I would imagine.— F9RecoveredFairing (@FloatingFairing) April 16, 2018
Tested by Armadillo Aerospace in 2012. A balloon-parachute or ballute. I love portmanteaus. 😺 pic.twitter.com/GE4b4h3kcp
SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2018
Hi @elonmusk— Ferme de Quéménès - Île d'Iroise (@Quemenes_Iroise) April 13, 2018
Look at what we found from @SpaceX on the foreshore of #Quemenes, the island where we livre in Brittany (France)! What is it ?
By the way will you send an electric tractor in space ? We need one ! 😉 #space #rocket #riddle #sea pic.twitter.com/7Uw3dQzOZ3
Wow, that's significant. The CRS-10 rendezvous abort was apparently caused by problems with @SpaceX's software. On the other hand, I sure hope the "improvements" OIG noted weren't structural - NASA's software dev process is a surreal nightmare in many cases (*cough* SLS *cough*) pic.twitter.com/IiFaeVa6tv— Eric Ralph (@13ericralph31) April 27, 2018
SpaceX Crew Dragon ships to the Cape in about 3 months
@elonmusk says that @SpaceX's Starlink internet constellation could start serving customers in three years, as early as 2021. This is a recalibration from initial service estimates of late 2019 or 2020 per SpaceX's Patricia Cooper.
Brost: as early as the first half of next year we’ll start doing vertical takeoff and landing tests of our first BFR upper stage. #HumansToMars— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) May 9, 2018
Block 5 exceeds all NASA requirements for crew. And meets all Air Force requirements.— Chris G - NSF (@ChrisG_NSF) May 10, 2018
"Goal is to be most reliable rocket ever built." - @elonmusk
From @elonmusk...— Chris G - NSF (@ChrisG_NSF) May 10, 2018
Goals with Block 5
- Really it's the 6th iteration of Falcon 9
- This will be last major version.
- There will be small improvements/minor changes from here for manufacturing and reusability.
- Up to 300 more flights of Falcon 9 Block 5 before retirement.
I means that won't throttle the 2nd stage engine to its maximum operational limit on this flight.
Musk said the COPVs now have a burst pressure “more than twice what they are actually loaded to on the pad.” SpaceX has a contingency design that would involve switching from high-strength carbon fiber with an aluminum liner to the superalloy Inconel, but that is “unlikely to be necessary,” Musk said.
Musk said the each of the nine Merlin engines used to power the Falcon 9’s first stage now have an 8 percent increase in thrust at sea level to 190,000 pounds-force. The single vacuum-optimized Merlin engine on Falcon 9’s second stage has a 5 percent thrust increase to 220,000 pounds-force, he said.
“In principle, we could refly Block 4 probably upwards of 10 times, but with a fair amount of work between each flight,” Musk said. “The key to Block 5 is that it’s designed to do 10 or more flights with no refurbishment between each flight. The only thing that needs to change is to reload propellant and fly again.”
With some refurbishment, a Block 5 first stage should be able to launch 100 times, Musk said.
In addition to greater reusability, SpaceX’s Block 5 Falcon 9 is designed to meet NASA commercial crew requirements and Air Force national security launch criteria. It’s also designed for easier manufacturing.
Musk said the Falcon 9’s octaweb structure, used to support all nine first stage engines and provide compartmentalization in case one or more fails, is now much stronger. The octaweb is made with bolted instead of welded aluminum and has greater thermal protection to prevent melting, he said.
SpaceX put latch mechanisms on the Falcon 9’s landing legs so the vehicle doesn’t have to rely on external clamps for steadying on ocean-platform landings, Musk said.
SpaceX also upgraded the rocket’s avionics, and is keeping the titanium grid fins, he said. The Falcon 9 previously used aluminum fins for steering the Falcon 9 first stage back to Earth, but SpaceX changed those on the Block 3 to titanium after the aluminum fins caught fire during reentry.
Musk said the rocket’s interstage features a hydrophobic thermal protection developed by SpaceX that is highly reusable and doesn’t require paint. Placed between the first and second stages of the rocket, which are painted white, the jet-black carbon fiber interstage harkens back to SpaceX’s first rocket, the Falcon 1.
“Obviously, aesthetics are a minor factor in rocket design, but I still like the fact that we’ve returned for nostalgic reasons to having a black interstage,” Musk said.
SpaceX engineers might squeeze another 2 percent of additional thrust out of the first stage, and another 5 percent out of the second stage as compared to the Block 4, he said. Musk said the rocket could see “minor improvements” for better manufacturability, reflight and reliability “provided that they are supported by our key customers in commercial satellite launch, NASA and the Air Force.”
He emphasized that any further changes would be small.
“There will not be a Block 6,” Musk said. “We intend to stabilize on the Block 5 platform and have no major upgrades.”