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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