Space-X and the Falcon 9 Launch

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 on the Pad at Cape Canaveral
Image Credit: 45 Space Wing

Space Exploration Technologies Company (Space-X) currently has the first launch of the Falcon 9 scheduled for 4 June 2010. The launch window opens at 8:00 AM Phoenix time (11:00 AM EST), and closes 12:00 Noon, Phoenix time. This follows a number of delays, some of which have been technical and some have been scheduling conflicts.

The launch will be closely followed around the world, considering the hype that has surrounded the “Commercial Space Flight” industry and NASA’s new budget and directions.

The launch will be carried on the Space-X webcast page. As noted, “Webcast Start: 10:40 AM Eastern / 7:40 AM Pacific / 1440 UTC”.

The weather experts at the Cape are giving us a 40% chance of “no go” conditions for both days of our window, citing the potential for cumulus clouds and anvil clouds from thunderstorms.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 is powered by nine Merlin engines, designed and built in house by Space-X.

The second stage is powered by a single Merlin engine.

The main engine, called Merlin, was developed internally at SpaceX, but draws upon a long heritage of space proven engines. The pintle style injector at the heart of Merlin was first used in the Apollo Moon program for the lunar module landing engine, one of the most critical phases of the mission.

Propellant is fed via a single shaft, dual impeller turbo-pump operating on a gas generator cycle. The turbo-pump also provides the high pressure kerosene for the hydraulic actuators, which then recycles into the low pressure inlet. This eliminates the need for a separate hydraulic power system and means that thrust vector control failure by running out of hydraulic fluid is not possible. A third use of the turbo-pump is to provide roll control by actuating the turbine exhaust nozzle (on the second stage engine).

With a vacuum specific impulse of 304s, Merlin is the highest performance gas generator cycle kerosene engine ever built, exceeding the Boeing Delta II main engine, the Lockheed Atlas II main engine and the Saturn V F-1.

Merlin Engines
Merlin Engines on the Falcon 9
Image Credit: 45 Space Wing

2 thoughts on “Space-X and the Falcon 9 Launch

  1. Pingback: All Around the World News

  2. Pingback: June 2010 « NSS Phoenix Space News

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