Musk ambition: SpaceX aim for fully reusable Falcon 9

January 3, 2018 – 10:29 am

SpaceX chief Elon Musk has spoke of his desire to make Falcon 9 the first fully reusable launch vehicle, which he would “love” to include a flyback first stage. Musk also noted he is aiming for Falcon 9 to launch in under 60 minutes from the moment they leave their hangers.

Musk was speaking to an audience at the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting a few days ago, in a speech entitled “The Future of Space Launch: Where We’re Going and How to Get There.”

SpaceX is coming off the back of an encouraging conclusion to 2008, with the successful Flight 4 of their Falcon I launch vehicle, and progress towards the 2009 flight of their Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Space X also won 46 percent of NASA’s $.3.5 billion dollar Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

“2008 was a pretty busy year for SpaceX, ” said Musk, using videos and slides ahead of a Q&A session. “We finally got into orbit and we’ve completed most of our development of our Falcon 9 schedule – which to give you a comparison; Falcon I can carry half a ton payload to orbit and Falcon 9 can carry 11 tons. It’s a pretty big step up in scale.”

The Falcon 9 vehicle will make its debut launch from Cape Canaveral, lifting off from a pad that was formerly used for the Titan 4 launch vehicles. Although it will take a number of flights, Musk has a goal of being able to roll out the F9, erect at the pad, tank, complete checkouts of the vehicle and launch in under 60 minutes. (Image left: SpaceX Falcon 9 Manned)

“The Falcon 9 tanks are all friction stir weld – and the F9 is largest fully friction stir welded structure in the world. The 180 feet long vehicle is assembled horizontally and the rolls out to the pad to be placed vertical for launch, ” he noted.

“One of the goals I have for the Falcon 9 – which will take us many launches to achieve – is to have the vehicle out of the hanger and into the air in under 60 minutes.”

The launch date for Falcon 9’s debut remains fluid, although the vehicle itself is not the determining factor in trying to make a summer launch, claims Musk.

“We’re hoping for a summer launch of the Falcon 9, though I predict that is pending (based on) the development of its payload.”


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