Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How do you spell 1.6 Beee-ll-yee-an Dollarssss?

S-P-A-C-E-X, that's how. Holy crap, Spacex just got awarded a monster contract from NASA.

$1.6 Billion to for cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. That's right, that's 'illion' with a B at the beginning.

And if things go well, NASA has the right to order another $1.5 Billion worth of services afterwards. Damn, that is serious sweetness.

For those that haven't been keeping up, SpaceX was previously awarded a smaller contract of about $300 million in 2006. Back then it was huge (actually it's still huge), but now it looks like small potatoes. The launch vehicle is Falcon 9 and the spacecraft that will dock with the ISS is called Dragon. The first Falcon 9 has already arrived in Cape Canaveral in preparation for its launch in 2009.

A 3D rendering of the Dragon Spacecraft that will dock with the ISS.

Here's the link to the official SpaceX announcement on the NASA Award.

Go SpaceX!!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

And this is what the locals saw...

Taken from a handy-cam a few miles away...

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And here's the video

Falcon 9 Test-Fire from Saturday night. Three sweet minutes of watching liquid oxygen combine with rocket grade kerosene. I never thought I could feel such bliss.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Falcon 9 to Aliens: You ain't seen nothing yet.

SpaceX test-fired the Falcon 9 last night at its McGregor Test Facility in Texas. It was awesome, and could be seen from miles away. It also went on for almost three minutes and gave the locals the clear perception that they were about to be abducted from Aliens.

Pure awesomeness!

Check out video of the Falcon 9 test-fire posted by NasaWatch. It is seriously hilarious. Whoever saw that from their bedroom window must have crapped their pants a few times over.

Some tasty tidbits from the SpaceX team:

'At full power, the rocket generated 855,000 pounds of force at sea level. In vacuum, the thrust increases to approximately one million pounds or four times the maximum thrust of a 747 aircraft. The test consumed over half a million pounds of propellant. All nine engines fired for 160 seconds, then two engines were shut down to limit the acceleration and the remaining seven engines continued firing for 18 more seconds, as would occur in a typical climb to orbit.

The test firing validated the design of SpaceX's use of nine engines on the first stage, as well as the ability to shut down engines without affecting the functioning of the remaining engines. This demonstrates the ability of Falcon 9 to lose engines in flight and still complete its mission successfully, much as a commercial airliner is designed to be safe in the event of an engine loss. Like an airliner, the Falcon 9 engines are enclosed in a protective sheath that ensures a fire or destructive loss of an engine doesn’t affect the rest of the vehicle.

The Falcon 9 will be the first vehicle since the Saturn V and Saturn 1 to have the ability to lose any engine/motor and still be able to complete its mission without loss of crew or spacecraft. Engine out reliability proved crucial to mission success on two of the Saturn V flights.'

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Perfect launch!

Man what a day. For those that missed the action on Sunday, check out my twitters. The launch went perfectly, taking off exactly on time and delivering a 360 pound aluminum dummy satellite to orbit. Emotions were high and it was cheers and hugs all round when the rocket reached orbit.

Here's an awesome video by one of the folks at SpaceX. Congrats to everyone there. A truly amazing achievement.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twittering from SpaceX Headquarters

I'm at SpaceX today for the launch of Falcon 1, Vehicle 4. Add me on Twitter to follow along.


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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Flight 4 Static Fire

As planned, Flight 4 went through a static fire today.

From Elon:

"The static fire took place on Saturday [20 Sep 2008, CA time], as expected, and no major issues came up. However, after a detailed analysis of data, we decided to replace a component in the 2nd stage engine LOX supply line. There is a good chance we would be ok flying as is, but we are being extremely cautious.

This adds a few extra days to the schedule, so the updated launch window estimate is now Sept 28th through Oct 1st [CA time].


Here are some awesome shots of the static fire...

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Falcon 1 Vehicle 3 Full Webcast

The full webcast of the entire voyage of Falcon 1 is now available. It's an amazing video and I suggest everyone take the time to check it out. I don't think there's anything out there like this. The idea of being this open to the public in any company is amazing. To do it in the space business, with such a high rate of failures, is especially noteworthy.

If you can't access it on my site (the link is a bit spotty), try this page on SpaceX's site.

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