Saturday, August 02, 2008

Falcon 1 Facts

While we're waiting, I thought I'd share some fun factoids about the rocket we're checking out today:

Falcon 1 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) powered launch vehicle. It is designed from the ground up by SpaceX for cost efficient and reliable transport of satellites to low Earth orbit.

She shore is purty, ain't she?

Length: 21.3 m (70 feet) - Your standard 7 story building.
Width: 1.7 m (5.5 feet) - actually, make that a 7 story pencil.
Mass: 27,670 kg (61,000 lbs) - about the weight of 4 semis (sans trailer).
Thrust on liftoff: 347 kN (78,000 lbf) - about the same thrust of three F-16's at full throttle.

First Stage
The primary structure is made of an aluminum alloy (patent pending), graduated monocoque, common bulkhead, flight pressure stabilized architecture developed by SpaceX. The
design is a blend between a fully pressure stabilized design, such as Atlas II, and a heavier isogrid design, such as Delta II. As a result, Falcon 1 first stage is able to capture the mass
efficiency of pressure stabilization, but avoid the ground handling difficulties of a structure unable to support its own weight.

A single SpaceX Merlin 1C regenerative engine powers the Falcon 1 first stage, and is flying in this configuration for the first time on Flight 3. After first stage engine start, the Falcon is held down and not released for flight until all propulsion and vehicle systems are confirmed to be operating nominally.

Stage separation occurs via redundantly initiated separation bolts and a pneumatic pusher system. All components are space qualified and have flown previously on other launch vehicles.

Second Stage
The tanks are precision machined from plate with integral flanges and ports, minimizing the number of welds necessary. A single SpaceX Kestrel engine powers the Falcon 1 upper stage.

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