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SpaceX expects the Merlin 1D to launch on Falcon 9 Flight 6 sometime in 2013

SpaceX's Merlin 1D engine has completed a full mission duration firing today at the company's rocket development facility in Texas.

The Merlin 1D engine is the successor to the line of Merlin engines that were used on the Falcon 9 rocket's first three flights. It is expected to be the most efficient booster engine ever created, achieving a vacuum thrust-to-weight ratio over 150. However, it is still capable of carrying astronauts because of its ability to uphold safety and structural margins.

The Merlin 1D achieved a full mission duration firing for 185 seconds with 147,000 pounds of thrust. This is exactly what is needed for a Falcon 9 launch. The Merlin 1D also completed multiple restarts at target thrust and specific impulse.

"This is another important milestone in our efforts to push the boundaries of space technology," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. "With the Merlin 1D powering the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, SpaceX will be capable of carrying a full range of payloads to orbit."

SpaceX became the first private rocket company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). After NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011, SpaceX stepped up to provide transportation to the ISS for American astronauts. A Merlin engine was used to launch the Falcon 9, which sent the unmanned Dragon capsule to the ISS this year.

With the Dragon mission being a success, SpaceX will now look forward to hearing from NASA about 12 additional missions to the ISS. While these missions will be unmanned and sent for the purpose of re-supplying the ISS, SpaceX is currently working on a manned version for carrying astronauts.

SpaceX expects the Merlin 1D to launch on Falcon 9 Flight 6 sometime in 2013.

Check out the video below to see the full mission duration firing firsthand.

Source: SpaceX

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go space go
By wired00 on 6/27/2012 8:59:58 AM , Rating: 2
rocket engines never stop amazing me. that sound is pretty great. Keep it up space x

RE: go space go
By Reclaimer77 on 6/27/2012 12:57:08 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. I'm not sure I've ever heard a rocket engine make a sound quite like that. Or maybe the mic is just a lot closer than usual. It's a fairly high pitched roar as apposed to the usual low frequency rumbling with that crackling sound I love.

I would love to see a SpaceX launch. I saw a Shuttle launch when I was younger down in Florida, it was indescribable.

lol my cat just tore ass out of the room. Guess it's a bit loud...

RE: go space go
By Mizerable on 6/27/2012 10:31:07 AM , Rating: 2
Well the sound of rocket launches isn't exactly the engine itself, actually. What you're hearing is the sound of turbulence. The very fast gasses coming out the nozzle become extremely violently turbulent when they hit the atmosphere. It's a very similar sound to when you stick your head out the window of a fast moving car.

When you're further away the rather random noise of the all have their waveforms stretched, it's just a natural thing for waves to do. When they stretch out obviously their frequency lowers, so it sounds deeper. This mic is obviously much closer than anything you would normally hear a recording from.

RE: go space go
By teldar on 6/27/2012 11:29:41 AM , Rating: 2
How about long waves travel further than shorter waves. This applies to sound as well as emr. There is no reason a pitch should change with distance. Amplitude should change. apparent Pitch changes with delta speed, or redshift effect.

RE: go space go
By chromal on 6/27/2012 12:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps what they meant was that as a rocket rises, it accelerates, and the high rate of speed away from a stationary listener is causing a Doppler effect. Redshift is the Doppler concept applied to the waveform of light.

RE: go space go
By Mizerable on 6/27/2012 2:40:49 PM , Rating: 1
Yea I was talking about acoustic dispersion. Why don't you understand what you're saying before you interpret what I wrote?

RE: go space go
By kattanna on 6/27/2012 4:16:23 PM , Rating: 3
Keep it up space x


I really hope they can get the whole thing man rated and start taking people up, that will be great.

RE: go space go
By superPC on 6/27/2012 11:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
wow didn't realize it from the launched footage but the rocket engines firing look really violent. vibration on that thing must be bone shattering (figuratively). i mean it's strap to a concrete structure but still it vibrates. can't imagine what it feels like riding a man rated dragon on top of that engine.

on another note: does dragon capsule comes with an escape system in case of a launch failure?

RE: go space go
By danielravennest on 6/27/2012 11:29:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the capsule has multiple small thrusters to push it away in case of emergency. Those same thrusters are planned for use later for dry land recovery (right now they do ocean landings)

RE: go space go
By geddarkstorm on 6/27/2012 11:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
The camera is being violently shaken by the power of the engine's exhaust through the air. Have to realize, this is the most powerful (weight to thrust anyways) engine ever built (surpassing the bigger Saturn V F1 engine; and those things caused small earthquakes at launch). It's an incredible feat of engineering, that SpaceX has designed. Shows that they are a serious major player on the field. And all this with a paltry budget!

But yes, don't stand in the way of a rocket engine, it would not be good for your bone health. As for the level of vibrations while flying on the rocket, that all depends on the design. But it wouldn't be like driving a lexus; going to space is no joy ride.

RE: go space go
By theapparition on 6/27/2012 12:08:44 PM , Rating: 2
While more efficient, it's nowhere near Saturn V levels.

The Merlin 1D generated 147,000 pounds of thrust. The F1 on the Saturn V produced over 1,500,000 pounds of thrust, and they used 5 of them on the first stage with over 7,700,000 pounds of thrust.

Not anywhere near the same ballpark, it's not even in the same zip-code.

RE: go space go
By Odysseus145 on 6/27/2012 12:33:30 PM , Rating: 3
Exceeding the F1 will be the job of the Merlin 2 engine, which is still under development. It is being designed to have a thrust of 1,700,000 pounds and will power the super-heavy lift rockets, the Falcon X and XX.

RE: go space go
By AssBall on 6/27/2012 2:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
That will be a launch I will do everything in my power to NOT miss. I have heard that from several miles away a Saturn V launch could rattle your teeth.

RE: go space go
By Bubbacub on 6/27/2012 2:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
it currently exists in autocad only at moment!

RE: go space go
By Ringold on 6/27/2012 5:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
So did this engine not all that long ago! These guys are proving they can deliver where the old incumbent government contractors can only deliver busted budgets and missed goals.

RE: go space go
By Masospaghetti on 6/27/2012 12:49:27 PM , Rating: 2
Falcon 9 uses 9x of these Merlin 1D engines for a total thrust of 1,323,000 lb. Falcon Heavy uses 27 Merlin 1D engines for a total thrust of 3,969,000 lbs.

So while not as powerful as the Saturn V, its certainly in the same ballpark. And the most important thing to reduce launch costs is efficiency, which the Merlin engine excels at.

RE: go space go
By Bubbacub on 6/27/2012 2:47:23 PM , Rating: 2
also if they were to make a super heavy variant with 5 1st stages clustered together you would get saturn V (or SLS) levels of performance.

i bet it wouldnt cost NASA's entire budget for the next 20 years to make either!

RE: go space go
By geddarkstorm on 6/28/2012 11:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed, the F1 was a much, much bigger engine. But as I stated, I was talking about weight to thrust ratio. For its size, the 1D is more powerful than the F1 was relative to its size. It's pretty sweet, since the F1 was the record holder for so long, despite being built so long ago.

RE: go space go
By Bubbacub on 6/29/2012 5:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
actually the russian nk33 has had the thrust to weight record since the late sixties.

a really innovative and cheap egine with awesome performance.

there is a reason why aerojet bought a load of them off russia in the nineties when russia was broke.

RE: go space go
By FaaR on 6/27/2012 12:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
vibration on that thing must be bone shattering (figuratively). i mean it's strap to a concrete structure but still it vibrates.

Typically, rocket engines are mounted on a gimbal that is controlled using hydraulic rams. This probably gives rise to some amount of flex, which considering the forces involved shouldn't be a bad thing or the engine might shake itself to pieces.

Engine vibration can get very bad, there's something called the pogo effect (from the toy), which occurs when turbulence in the combustion chamber causes uneven rate of burning; this variation then causes the thrust to oscillate, which makes fuel flow into the engine also ocillate, which can increase pogo in a positive feedback loop if the fuel piping is undesireably designed.

It's said that during the Apollo 13 launch, the center F1 engine on the first stage pogo'd something like a full meter on its shock absorbers at a rate of 10Hz, causing it to shut down automatically or it'd ripped itself loose from its mounts and destroyed the rocket. :P

Saturn V was said to suffer quite a lot of pogo issues, especially on the early launches. This is alledgedly also a fairly serious issue on the recent manned Chinese rockets that have caused redesigns in the past. Not sure how SpaceX's Dragon 9 manages, but considering they use 9 smaller engines maybe it's not so bad. Thrust per engine is less, and more spread-out, should give less risk of pogoing, maybe...

RE: go space go
By FaaR on 6/27/2012 11:45:10 AM , Rating: 2
SpaceX is one of those brave American ventures that kind of make you start believing in mankind again. :) They have a sense of spirit and adventure, a drive, ambition... All of those positive things and more no doubt.

That engine looks really impressive by the way. It's interesting that at no point is there any heat glow radiating from the metal. Seems they got the cooling of the combustion chamber and the engine bell down pat. :)

Best of luck to the brave pioneers at SpaceX!

RE: go space go
By geddarkstorm on 6/27/2012 11:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
I was noticing a lack of heat glow too, that is really outstanding. I remember reading the Merlin 1D had a special new ablative cooling system on its bell. Seems to work wonders!

Not sure if the 1D is still also regeneratively cooled like the 1B, but I think they may have tossed that feature due to its reliability issues.

RE: go space go
By Bubbacub on 6/27/2012 2:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
its regeneratively cooled (the current C version is also)

RE: go space go
By geddarkstorm on 6/28/2012 11:34:37 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the link. I remember reading they want to get away from regenerative cooling on one of the future engines. Maybe that has changed though?

By futrtrubl on 6/27/2012 11:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
The company ain't joking when they say "S#it loads" of water.

RE: Water
By FaaR on 6/27/2012 11:48:08 AM , Rating: 2
Btw, the water's to break up shockwaves created by the engine exhaust so they don't bounce back and destroy the engine when it ignites. :)

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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