Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

SpaceX set for over 300 missions in 5 years: Musk

SpaceX set for over 300 missions in 5 years: Musk

Take the most recent launch of a "flight-proven" Falcon 9 first stage. The rocket lifted off successfully May 11 at 4:14 p.m. EDT, landed its first stage 11 minutes later and positioned Bangladesh's first telecom satellite, Bangabandhu-1, to geostationary transfer orbit just under 34 minutes later. The new Falcon 9 Block 5 is specifically designed for reusability, with the rocket designed for quick re-launch with only inspection and no reconditioning, and-with some routine component replacements-are designed for hundreds of launches over the lifetime of each rocket.

The Block 5's first stage now have an 8 percent thrust increase at sea level producing a total 1,710,000 pounds force, with each of the nine Merlin 1D engines producing 190,000 pounds force. SpaceX would like to property and, over 24 hours, relaunch a Block 5 initial stage prior to the end of 2019, firm founder and CEO Elon Musk said. "The one thing which must change would be to reload propellant and fly". But that will probably be it for the Falcon 9. Since then Falcon 9 has made numerous trips to space, delivering satellites to orbit as well as delivering and returning cargo from the space station for NASA. SpaceX has not really had a failure at launch since 2016 when a Falcon 9 exploded into a fireball before launch.

"In principle, we can refly Block 4 likely upwards of 10 times, but with a reasonable amount of work involving every flight", Musk said. The octaweb is made with bolted instead of welded aluminum and has greater thermal protection to prevent melting, he said.

The cost of the launch of the new Falcon 9 starts with 62 million dollars, previously used in the first stage, from 50 million. The Falcon 9 formerly utilized aluminum fins for guiding the Falcon 9 first stage back to Earth, however SpaceX altered those on the Block 3 to titanium after the aluminum fins ignited throughout reentry.

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"Obviously, aesthetics are a minor factor in rocket design, but I still like the fact that we've returned for nostalgic reasons to having a black interstage", Musk said. SpaceX is anticipated to build several rocket cores in the next 5 years for 300 missions. The single vacuum-optimized Merlin engine on Falcon 9's second stage has a 5 percent thrust increase to 220,000 pounds-force, he said. Musk stated the rocket might see "small enhancements" for much better manufacturability, reflight and dependability "supplied that they are supported by our essential consumers in industrial satellite launch, NASA and the Flying Force".

"We mean to stabilize the Block 5 stage and don't have any significant upgrades".

"There will not be a Block 6", Musk said.

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