|Space Launch Report: SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.2 Data Sheet|
|Home On the Pad Space Logs Library Links|
|SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.2
Updated June 3, 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 decision.
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.
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.
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.
SpaceXs 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.
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 installed.
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 LEO/ISS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  First Falcon 9 v1.1. First VAFB SLC 4E launch of Falcon 9. 1st stage performed two reentry burns (3 and 1 engine), but 2nd burn cutoff early due high roll rates. 2nd stage restart for disposal burn failed.  First Falcon 9 GTO+ launch. Targeted 295 x 80,000 km x 20.75 degree supersynchronous transfer orbit. Stg 1 briefly restarted post sep. Fire reported in Stg1 octaweb during ascent. [A] Lower than planned fuel reserves reported at end of final Stg2 burn. Planned orbit achieved.  First Falcon 9 fitted with extending landing legs. First stage performed two retro burns after separation, lowering itself to a simulated landing in the Atlantic off the Georgia/S. Carolina coast.  2nd Falcon 9 with legs. First stage performed two retro burns and landed in Atlantic but exploded during tip over.  1st stg attempted landing on converted barge about 320 km downrange, but landed hard on barge and was lost.  187 x 1,371,156 km x 37 degree insertion orbit. DSCVR bound for Earth-Sun L1. Stg 1 barge landing attempt abandoned due high seas.  First stage landed hard on downrange landing platform and was destroyed.  Broke up at about T+2m 19sec, before staging, due Stg2 LOX tank overpress.  First stage boosted back to CC LZ-1 (former LC 13) and landed. Performed boostback, reentry, and landing burns using 3, 1, and 1 engine. First Falcon 9 v1.2 (Full Thrust) flight.  First stage landed on downrange landing platform, but one leg failed to lock in place. Stage fell over and was destroyed.  First stage landing on downrange platform failed.  3,136 kg cargo, incl 1,413 kg BEAM in trunk. 1st stg landed on barge (1st barge success).  First stage landed on downrange platform. First GTO landing. First successful 3-engine landing.  First stage landed on downrange platform.  First stage destroyed during landing attempt on downrange platform. One of three engines produced low thrust during final landing burn. Stage "accordianed" on hard landing. Mission otherwise successful.  First stage landed at CC LZ-1.  F9 and AMOS 6 destroyed in explosion during hot fire countdown at SLC 40. Launch was planned for 09/03/16.  First stage (B1029) landed downrange on drone ship "Just Read the Instructions".  First stage (B1031) landed at CC LZ-1.  First stage (B1030) purposely expended. No legs or fins. First expendable v1.2. Allowed heaviest-yet GTO payload.  First Stg 1 reflight using B1021. Stage landed downrange on drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You". PLF half recovery test. Planned 218 x 35,410 km x 26.2 deg, but achieved agreed parameters.  First stage (B1032) landed at CC LZ-1. Block 4 second stage.  Expendable first stage (B1034). Heaviest-yet GTO payload. Stg 2 burned to depletion. Block 4 second stage.  First stage (B1035) landed at CC LZ-1. 1st reflight by Dragon C106. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- References
Falcon 9 Data Sheet, SpaceX, 2008