|Space Launch Report: SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.2 Data Sheet|
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|SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.2
Updated October 30, 2017
First "Full Thrust" First Stage Hot Fire Test on September 21, 2015
During January, 2015, Martin
Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, revealed that SpaceX
was introducing a higher-thrust modification of its Merlin
1D engine, with about 20% more thrust, and that SES was
deciding whether or not to be the first to fly with the new
engine. The company was thinking about skipping its
then-planned Spring 2015 launch slot to allow someone else
to fly the "full-thrust" engine first.
On March 9, Aviation Week
& Space Technology reported that SES had decided, after
all, to be the first "full thrust" Falcon 9 customer. SES 9,
a communications satellite, would launched to geosynchronous
transfer orbit by the new rocket during the second or third
quarter of 2015. SES CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh announced the
During the summer of 2015,
SpaceX continued to send mixed signals about the upgraded
rocket's name. One presentation by SpaceX during the summer
of 2015 identified it as "Falcon 9 Upgrade". During
September, 2015 the company began calling it "Falcon 9 v1.1
Full Thrust". By early 2016 that name had been dropped,
apparently in favor of "Falcon 9 v1.2", which was the name
filed with the FAA.
On September 8, 2015, the
stage was erected at the new ground-level test stand, the
first stage to installed there. The stand is equipped with a
below-grade flame trench. This stand, which should reduce
noise imposed on neighboring communities during hot fire
tests, had been completed in 2013. It is also expected
to be used for Falcon Heavy core hot fire testing.
The first stage arrived at Cape Canaveral during the morning of November 20. On December 18, 2015, the first stage, topped by the second stage and integrated Orbcomm G2 payload, completed a brief static firing at SLC 40 after two days of scrubbed attempts that appeared to be ground-system related, as the test shook down new super-chilling equipment at the pad.
As the stage entered testing,
two launch sites were being prepared to handle both it and
Falcon Heavy. Space Launch Complex (SLC) 4 East at
Vandenberg AFB underwent modifications that included changes
to its erector transporter and the construction of a
propellant densification plant. Launch Complex 39A at
the Kennedy Space Center was being totally rebuilt for
Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 v1.2, with a new horizontal
processing hangar built on the former crawlerway at the base
of the pad and a new pair of railroad tracks leading up to
the launch pad itself.
Falcon 9 Launches, Lands
SpaceX returned its Falcon 9
to service on December 22, 2015 when it boosted 11 Orbcomm
satellites into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida. For the
first time, a Falcon 9 first stage boosted back and landed
near its launch site. The landing took place at Landing Zone
1 at the former site of Launch Complex 13.
F9-21 First Stage Lands at LZ-1 About 10 Minutes After Liftoff
The first stage fired for 2
minutes 20 seconds, separating four seconds later. The
second stage ignited its improved Merlin Vacuum engine at 2
minutes 35 seconds to begin a nearly eight minute burn to
reach a roughly 620 x 660 km x 47 deg orbit.
The stage landed near the
center of the circular landing zone. A small fire
burned at the base of the stage for at least a half-minute
after the center Merlin 1D engine shut down.
After spacecraft deployment, the upgraded second stage Merlin Vacuum engine restarted both to test its restart capability for future missions and to deorbit the stage in the Southern Ocean south of Australia.
After the mission, Elon Musk announced that the recovered first stage would be used, if possible, for propellant loading and static fire testing at the rebuilt LC 39 Pad A. SpaceX had no plans to re-fly the stage. The stage was moved to the new Horizontal Integration Facility at LC 39A a couple of days after its landing, where it was photographed and inspected.
During week of January 12, the stage was unexpectedly moved to SLC 40. A crane was used to erected it on the stand rather than the usual erector. On January 14, an unannounced static fire attempt was made and aborted after 2-3 seconds when one of the outer engine's thrust fluctuated. After the test, Elon Musk tweeted that the engine would be borescoped and that it might have ingested something. The stage subsequently returned to LC 39A.
Launch Complex 13 supported 51 Atlas missile and Atlas Agena orbital launches from 1958-1978. The site's mobile service tower was demolished in 2005 and its blockhouse in 2012. SpaceX subsequently built an 86 meter (282 foot) diameter landing pad centered on the spot where the original Atlas missile service tower parked during launches.
The 23rd Falcon 9 launch
vehicle, the third upgraded v1.2 variant, successfully
orbited the Dragon 10 spacecraft on NASA's CRS 8
International Space Station cargo hauling mission on April
8, 2016. After performing the initial mission boost, the
rocket's first stage accomplished the first successful
landing on a floating platform - the company's converted
landing barge - positioned about 300 km northeast of the
Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 launch site. It was
the fifth such attempt.
During its descent, the first stage perform a three-engine boost-back burn, followed by a final single-engine landing burn. Landing took place about 8 minutes 35 seconds after liftoff.
The F9-23 first stage had performed a static firing at SLC 40 on April 5. After its successful static testing at McGregor, Texas during February, a ground equipment failure damaged multiple engines during a non-propulsive test. The engines were repaired or replaced without causing significant delay to the launch schedule.
Dragon arrived at ISS on April 10, 2016.
The landing platform with the
first stage returned to Port Canaveral during the pre-dawn
hours of April 12, 2016. During the day, a crane
picked up the stage from the barge and placed it onto a work
stand on the dock. After several days of processing
which included leg removal, the stage was moved to the
Launch Complex 39A HIF on April 19.
On April 30, 2016, SpaceX released new performance data for an improved Falcon 9 v1.2. The two-stage rocket gross mass increased to about 564 tonnes, not including payload, and its liftoff thrust rose to 775.65 tonnes as Merlin 1D thrust was pushed upward again to 190,000 pounds (86.183 tonnes) at sea level. For the first time, the company gave solid payload performance numbers for this version. They were: 22.8 tonnes to LEO x 28.5 deg, 8.3 tonnes to GTO x 27 deg, and 5.5 tonnes GTO x 27 deg when the first stage was recovered downrange. The cost for a flight with first stage recovery was listed at $62 million.
By early 2017 it had become apparent that SpaceX referred to this improved version as "Falcon 9 Block 5". Block 5 was designed to perform Dragon 2 Commercial Crew launches for NASA, but would also apparently be used for unmanned satellite launches. Elon Musk announced that the first Block 5 launch would occur by the end of 2017.
It had also become known that
the company was, as of late 2016/early 2017, still flying
"Falcon 9 Block 3". Block 3 thus was the Falcon 9 v1.2
variant. The identity of "Block 4" was, as of early
March 2017, unknown outside the halls of SpaceX.
Falcon 9 and AMOS 6 Destroyed in Pre Launch Test
Screen Capture from USLaunchReport.com Video of F9-29 Explosion
A Falcon 9 rocket and its $200 million AMOS 6 satellite payload were destroyed during a pre-launch propellant loading and hot fire test exercise at Cape Canveral on September 1, 2016. The test was planned to assure all was ready for a September 3 launch that would have placed 5.5 tonne AMOS 6 in geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Early reports indicated that propellant loading was nearly completed and the test was about eight minutes away when a powerful explosion destroyed the rocket and satellite at about 9:07 AM Eastern Time. A series of smaller explosions occurred during the following minutes as a fire raged at SLC 40 and a large plume of black smoke drifted across the Florida space center. It was the largest pad explosion in the history of Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center.
A few hours after the explosion, Elon Musk tweeted that the failure appeared to have begun at the second stage liquid oxygen tank. SLC 40 was reported to have been heavily damaged, knocking it out of service. A day after the failure, SpaceX announced that East Coast launch campaigns would move to Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 Pad A, which at the time was planned to be ready to support operations beginning in November, 2016.
The AMOS 6 launch would have been the 29th Falcon launch, and the ninth by a Falcon 9 v1.2 variant. The AMOS 6 first stage was test fired at McGregor, Texas on August 5, 2016 and arrived at Cape Canaveral some time after August 21.
SpaceX subsequently determined
that the cause was sudden overpressurization of the second
stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank due to the failure of a
composite overwrapped pressure vessel (COPV) containing
pressurized helium that was mounted inside the LOX
tank. Improper control of subcooled-LOX temperatures
may have been involved. Elon Musk suggested that LOX
froze within or beneath the composite overwrapping, causing
loss of COPV structural integrity. SpaceX performed
cryogenic loading tests, with some leading to failure, of
small test vessels at its McGregor, Texas test site to
confirm the failure mode.
Falcon 9 Returns to Flight
The first stage performed
boost-back, reentry, and landing burns before landing on the
converted barge "drone ship" “Just Read the Instructions”.
It was the first successful first stage landing in two West
Coast attempts. Six previous first stage recoveries had been
made after Cape canaveral liftoffs.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 orbited the CRS-10 Dragon spacecraft with cargo for the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 Pad A on February 29, 2017. It was the first Falcon 9 launch from the converted NASA Saturn 5/Space Shuttle launch site. Liftoff took place at 14:39 UTC, following an aborted attempt one day earlier caused by out of range readings from the second stage thrust vector control system.
Falcon 9's second stage
boosted Dragon into a 51.6 deg low earth orbit, with stage
cutoff occurring about 9 min 5 sec after liftoff and
spacecraft separation taking place about one minute
later. While the second stage was performing its 393
second long burn, the first stage did a 180 deg flip and
performed 3-engine boostback burn. It flipped again
before performing a 3-engine entry burn and a single engine
landing burn that began about 7 min 33 sec after
liftoff. The stage landed at Cape Canaveral Landing
Zone 1, performing the first daylight landing, and third
overall, at the site. The second stage was expected to
perform a deorbit burn after spacecraft separation.
The CRS-10 Dragon (Dragon spacecraft No. 12) carried about 2,490 kg tonnes of cargo, including 1,530 kg inside the pressurized capsule and 960 kg attached to the unpressurized trunk section. Spacecraft berthing at ISS is scheduled to occur on February 21. SpaceX does not announce total spacecraft mass, but based on early publications by the company and on more recent expert estimates, CRS-10 Dragon likely weighed about 8,430 kg at liftoff, including cargo.
The flight was performed by the F9-32 vehicle, a v1.2 (or "Block 3") variant, which used first stage number B1031. The vehicle's stages were test fired at McGregor, Texas, apparently during December, 2016. The first stage performed a brief static firing at LC 39A on February 12, 2017 after a scrubbed attempt the day before. The first and second stages without payload were stacked for the test.
With the flight, Falcon 9
became the first launch vehicle family to perform a second
orbital flight in 2017.
Falcon Heavy is not expected to debut from LC 39A until after Cape Canaveral SLC 40 is restored to service sometime after mid-2017. Meanwhile, SpaceX hopes to perform a first unmanned flight of its Dragon 2 Commercial Crew spacecraft from LC 39A by year's end. An improved "Block 5" Falcon 9 being developed to launch Dragon 2 will perform the launch.
It was the 95th launch from LC
39A, a number that includes 12 Saturn 5 and 82 Space Shuttle
liftoffs, the most recent by Shuttle Atlantis on July 8,
2011 for STS-135 mission.
Falcon 9 Reflies First
Stage, Orbits SES 10 (March 31, 2017 Update)
After the flight, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that the company had, in another first, directed one of the two payload fairing halves to a landing zone in a test of future payload fairing recovery. The fairing had been equipped with a cold gas thruster system. Eventually, steerable parachutes and inflatable shock absorbers will be used to bring the fairings down to recoverable ocean landings.
It was the first reflight of a complete orbital-class liquid fueled rocket stage. Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket had previously reflown, but on much less taxing suborbital missions. Reusable Space Shuttle orbiters brought back three main engines (SSMEs) and avionics, but expended the large external propellant tank that fed the three SSMEs. Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters were also recovered and reused, but they were disassembled after each flight and the motor segments never stayed together to fly again as a unit.
After its 2016 flight, the
B1021 stage was partially disassembled (its engines were
removed, for example) and was shipped back to the SpaceX
factory in Hawthorne, California. After the engines
were re-installed and other refurbishment work completed,
the stage was shipped to the company's McGregor, Texas test
site. There, it was test-fired on January 25, 2017,
completing what appeared to be a standard test cycle for a
Falcon 9 first stage. The new second stage was also
test fired in late January or early February. After
shipment to LC 39A's Horizontal Integration Facility, the
assembled F9-33 rocket performed a five-second static test
at LC 39A on March 27, 2017, with no payload
Falcon 9 v1.1 and v1.2 Flight History Date Vehicle No. Payload Mass Site Orbit (kmxkmxdeg) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 09/29/13 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-6 Cassiope/5 Cubesats 0.6 VA 4E 500x1500x80 LEO  12/03/13 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-7 SES 8 3.183 CC 40 295x80000x20.8 GTO+ 01/06/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-8 Thaicom 6 3.016 CC 40 295x90000x22.5 GTO+[A] 04/18/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-9 CRS-3 Dragon ~7.76 CC 40 313x332x51.6 LEO/ISS 07/14/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-10 Orbcomm OG2 (6sats) 1.032 CC 40 614x743x47 LEO  08/05/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-11 Asiasat 8 4.535 CC 40 185x35786x24.3 GTO 09/07/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-13 Asiasat 6 4.428 CC 40 184x35762x25.3 GTO 09/21/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-12 CRS-4 Dragon ~7.716 CC 40 199x359x51.64 LEO/ISS 01/10/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-14 CRS-5 Dragon ~7.807 CC 40 206x353x51.6 LEO/ISS 02/11/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-15 DSCOVR 0.57 CC 40 187x1371156x37 EEO  03/02/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-16 Eutelsat 115WB/ABS 3A 4.159 CC 40 400x63300x24.8 GTO+ 04/14/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-18 CRS-6 Dragon ~7.505 CC 40 199x364x51.65 LEO/ISS 04/27/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-17 TurkmenAlem 52E 4.5 CC 40 180x36600x25.5 GTO 06/28/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-20 CRS-7 Dragon ~7.944 CC 40 [FTO] 12/22/15 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-21 Orbcomm OG2 1.892 CC 40 620x660x47 LEO  01/17/16 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-19 Jason 3 0.553 VA 4E 1305x1320x66 LEO  03/04/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-22 SES 9 5.271 CC 40 290x40600x28 GTO  04/08/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-23 CRS 8 Dragon ~8.626 CC 40 200x360x51.6 LEO/ISS 05/06/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-24 JCSAT 14 4.696 CC 40 189x35957x23.7 GTO  05/27/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-25 Thiacom 8 3.025 CC 40 350x90226x21.2 GTO+ 06/15/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-26 Eutelsat 117WB/ABS2A ~4.15 CC 40 395x62591x24.7 GTO+ 07/18/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-27 CRS 9 Dragon ~7.747 CC 40 200x360x51.6 LEO/ISS  08/14/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-28 JCSAT 16 4.6 CC 40 184x35912x20.9 GTO  09/01/16 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-29 AMOS 6 5.5 CC 40 [PAD] 01/14/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-30 Iridium Next 1-10 8.6 VA 4E 667x86.4 LEO  02/19/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-32 CRS-10 Dragon ~8.43 KC 39A 209x363x51.6 LEO/ISS 03/16/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-31 EchoStar 23 5.6 KC 39A 179x35903x22.4 GTO  03/30/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-33 SES 10 5.282 KC 39A 217x33395x26.3 GTO  05/01/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-34 NROL 76 ~2.8? KC 39A 400x51? LEO? 05/15/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-35 Inmarsat 5 F4 6.086 KC 39A 381x69839x24.5 GTO+ 06/03/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-36 Dragon 6/CRS-11 ~8.198 KC 39A ~210x360x51.6 LEO/ISS 06/23/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-37 BulgariaSat 1 3.669 KC 39A 210x65640x23.9 GTO+ 06/25/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-38 Iridium Next 11-20 8.60 VA 4E 625x86.4 LEO  07/05/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-39 Intelsat 35e 6.761 KC 39A 296x42742x25.6 GTO  08/14/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-41 CRS-12 ~8.4 KC 39A 210x360x51.6 LEO/ISS 08/24/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-40 Formosat 5 0.475 VA 4E 720x98.28 LEO/S  09/07/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-42 OTV-5 (X-37B) ~5.00 KC 39A LEO  10/09/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-44 Iridium Next 3 8.6 VA 4E 625x86.6 LEO/S 10/11/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-43 EchoStar 105/SES 11 5.2 KC 39A 309x40519x27.9 GTO  10/30/17 Falcon 9 v1.2 F9-45 Koreasat 5A 3.7 KC 39A 285x50185x22.0 GTO  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Falcon 9 Data Sheet, SpaceX,