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SpaceX was able to collect data regarding both of the rocket's two stages when restarted during flight

SpaceX sent its updated Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket on a test run Sunday where it successfully delivered a satellite into orbit. 

According to Reuters, SpaceX sent an unmanned Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket (which is the upgraded version of the Falcon 9) into space off of a launch pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Station in California. The 22-story rocket had a smooth flight, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Musk was interested in experimenting with both of the rocket's two stages when restarted during flight. He wants to create a system where the Falcon's first stage is flown back to the launch site or sent gently into the water below for recovery of motors -- allowing them to be refurbished and used again rather than completely destroyed, such as in traditional rocket flights. 

The Falcon 9 v1.1 has engines that are 60 percent more powerful than previous versions. It also has updated avionics and software, and longer fuel tanks. 

Sunday's test showed that neither engine restart test went perfectly, but enough data was collected to improve the system. 
The unmanned Falcon 9 v1.1 also sent the Canadian science satellite called Cassiope into orbit yesterday, which was originally supposed to fly on SpaceX's Falcon 1 in 2008. Cassiope is a communications satellite that will monitor the space environment around Earth. 

SpaceX's new Falcon 9 and upcoming Falcon Heavy rockets have contracts for over 50 launches -- 10 of which will fly cargo to the International Space Station for NASA. The others consist of non-U.S. government agencies and commercial satellite operators.

SpaceX stepped in with its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket as a means to send supplies (and eventually astronauts) to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. This left American astronauts with no way to the ISS except aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, but these seats became very costly.

SpaceX flew its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS for the first time back in May 2012 for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete supply trips to the ISS and back.

Check out this video of Sunday's Falcon 9 v1.1 launch:

Sources: Reuters, YouTube

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Soyuz reduces costs
By mjv.theory on 9/30/2013 3:49:02 PM , Rating: 3
"This left American astronauts with no way to the ISS except aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, but these seats became very costly."
The Soyuz seats are only expensive compared to SpaceX. Try not to get too hung-up on the cost of Soyuz until commercial replacements arrive. A Soyuz seat costs $60-70million. Each Shuttle mission cost an average of $1.46billion, so a Shuttle seat was $208million. Although, to be fair, the Shuttle was also a cargo lift system, which offset the crew seat costs somewhat.

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By Flunk on 9/30/2013 3:52:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Shuttle was primarily a cargo-lift vehicle, but you do have a point it was needlessly expensive. The Russians shelved their similar Buran program, even though it was successful because Soyuz rockets cost less to launch.

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By ezorb on 9/30/2013 5:23:07 PM , Rating: 3
The Buran, my have been "successful" but the Energia was decidedly not successful, it failed to achieve orbit, leaving the Buran on the ground, where it decidedly failed to achieve anything other than looking pretty.

Soyuz was defiantly cheaper than a broken, never working system, and oh yea, the N1, never made orbit either, the soviets had to hang their hat on something, Soyuz, circa 1966, a 46 year old design was all they had/have. sure its a good rocket, the VW bug was a good car too, If you made a brand new one today it would still drive..

The shuttle was a failed program too, but lets give it credit for flying over 100 missions.

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By delphinus100 on 9/30/2013 7:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
The Buran, my have been "successful" but the Energia was decidedly not successful, it failed to achieve orbit, leaving the Buran on the ground, where it decidedly failed to achieve anything other than looking pretty.

It put its payload (the orbiter) in orbit. Energia itself was an expendable, like most launchers. What, exactly were you expecting?

In its only other launch, the payload failed to properly orient itself for its orbit insertion burn (some think the Polyus* was intentionally destroyed, but I don't pretend to have the last word on that), but Energia took it to the intended speed, altitude and azimuth, and staged cleanly away from it. As far as a launcher is concerned, that's also success.

Now, if you mean that once the Soviets had themselves a nice, working heavy-lift launcher, they found themselves unable to afford any projects worthy of it...welcome to the arguments against the Space Launch System.


It's true however, that years earlier in four launch attempts, the N-1 had catastrophic (mostly vibration-related) failures before first stage separation. That, indeed, is an 'unsuccessful' launcher.

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By ezorb on 10/1/2013 12:47:20 PM , Rating: 2
From the Article you linked to counter my point:

"The Polyus spacecraft was launched 15 May 1987 from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 250 as part of the first flight of the Energia system,[2] but failed to reach orbit."

That's your back up evidence, thanks...

By any measure the Energia was a total failure. How many non test flights did it make, how many payloads were inserted?\ None!

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By kevenguimaraes on 10/2/2013 5:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
The Energia launch system actually did work. If you had actually bothered to read the wikipedia article you would see that the failure of the Polyus spacecraft was due to a software error with Polyus itself which caused it to aim the wrong way when performing the burn to circularize its orbit. The Energia itself did put Polyus in the proper initial orbit. Energia also launched Buran on its successful test flight in 1988. So actually Energia is 2 for 2.

Furthermore, I disagree with criticisms of the Space Shuttle Program. The STS is the most advanced vehicle mankind has ever built. Think about what it actually accomplished. No other vehicle in history could do what the shuttle did. Its modular design and large payload bay provided a terrific platform for scientific research (think spacelab), it carried up to 8 people at a time into orbit, it deployed multiple satellites/planetary probes, and it provided a platform for construction/repair of space stations and satellites. It is highly doubtful that the Hubble repair and servicing missions or ISS construction could have been carried out without the STS.

RE: Soyuz reduces costs
By Reclaimer77 on 10/1/2013 9:34:45 AM , Rating: 2
When the Shuttle was first being designed, we had put people on the Moon.
Now we can't even get them into orbit!

Just more evidence that we're a country in decline. I would rather spent trillions of dollars on an alternative, than see us using the Soyuz.

By kwrzesien on 9/30/2013 3:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
If you are interested in space I highly recommend following Elon Musk on Twitter (@elonmusk).

RE: Twitter
By kwrzesien on 9/30/2013 3:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
And a very nice article Tiffany!

Also worth watching are any of the Grasshopper videos on YouTube, eventually they will pair some landing legs with the Falcon 9 so the 1st stage can be recovered:

RE: Twitter
By kwrzesien on 9/30/2013 4:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
For everyone familiar with the previous Falcon 9 (v1.0) that had nine engines in a 3x3 matrix that arrangement is out and now it is eight engines in a circle around a center engine. It is that center engine that will re-fire during landing a la grasshoper.

Version 1.1 also introduces the payload fairing that splits in half once out of the atmosphere, and I'm assuming that the 1st stage has the structural design in place for attaching the landing legs.

Awaiting Vehicle Downlink
By bug77 on 10/1/2013 6:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
I guess not even rockets can afford broadband in the US anymore...

RE: Awaiting Vehicle Downlink
By kwrzesien on 10/1/2013 8:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe Florida is better than California... :)

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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