SpaceX Reveals The Falcon Heavy, The Most Powerful Rocket Since The Saturn V

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    Apr 05, 2011 7:32 PM GMT
    Stuff like this turns me on... and um it's not just cuz it's phallic looking and stuff - it's an impressive feat of technology, it's not government funded (and as a result) it's substantially cheaper - just announced:

    The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful and capable launch platform. At 52,000 kg the payload capability is nearly double that of the current heavy lifter, the Space Shuttle and its 24,400 kg carrying capacity. This super strength is thanks to a three banks of nine engines that combine to generate 17 MN (3,800,000 lb) of thrust at liftoff. SpaceX claims that the three core design makes the Falcon Heavy as powerful as a three stage rocket. (Like the Saturn V) Cross-feeding propellant from the side boasters leaves the center core the majority of the fuel even after the two boosters separate. This function is optional and can be disabled for lower-mass launches.

    While impressive, it’s still half as powerful as the 44-year old Saturn V’s 7,648,000 lb record. Still, SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk stated that it’s powerful enough to send man back to the Moon and it very well do just that since the the Falcon Heavy complies with NASA’s human rating standards. The Falcon Heavy is expected to blast off for the first time in 2012. Space just got exciting again.
  • Kwokpot

    Posts: 329

    Apr 05, 2011 7:49 PM GMT
    My partner's neiphew actually works for them in Texas. So I can say I know a Rocket Scientist. He's very passionate about his work, and I got to see some of his labstuff when he was getting his Masters.
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    Apr 07, 2011 6:15 PM GMT
    What the Falcon Heavy Means:
    "Launch industry earthquake":

    Yesterday he rolled out a new launch concept, based on the successful Falcon 9 (which flawlessly delivered a pressurized capsule to orbit in December, which returned safely to earth — a first for a private company. It uses similar cores to the Falcon 9, with an upgraded engine, and it will deliver fifty metric tons (about half the capacity of a Saturn V) for a price of about a hundred million dollars. SpaceX is spending their own money to develop it, and he expects a first flight out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California late next year, with flights out of Florida a year or so later. He is proposing something that has been the holy grail of space launch for many years — a thousand dollars a pound to orbit (a factor of ten below current prices). The vehicle will be twice the capacity of the United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV and Atlas V, at a fraction of the cost. He currently has no contracts with the Air Force, but once he starts flying, it will be hard for them to resist. This kind of price point will revolutionize the industry, and it will be hard to beat until we have a lot more traffic on the fully reusable systems of the future.

    But the most important thing about this vehicle for the taxpayer (and the space enthusiast) is that it shows how absurd the Congress’s demands on NASA are. There will be rear-guard actions by lobbyists from ATK, the manufacturer of the solid motors, but continuing events like this will make it difficult, if not impossible, to continue to fund the existing space-industrial complex, the iron triangle of NASA, Congress and its cost-plus contractors. The unaffordable era of Apollo will finally be over, and a new era of cost-effective spaceflight is beginning.
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    Apr 07, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    What astonishes me is that rockets like the Saturn were originally conceived in the late 1950s. Along with the various "Nova" proposals, which included the C8 with a thrust of 13,920,000, compared to the Saturn V's 7,648,000 that went to the Moon, and this Falcon's anticipated 3,800,000. Nova was intended for manned voyages to Mars, but declining interest & funding ended it before a rocket was actually built.

    But the daring vision of these scientists some 60 years ago really amazes me. And the fact a rocket that surpasses the Saturn hasn't been built since the mid-1970s makes me realize how absolutely brilliant those men & women back then were. Sure, I know it's also a matter of need, and priorities today. But still, what incredible genius & accomplishment those people back then had.
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    Apr 08, 2011 5:33 PM GMT
    I'm a bit confused about why the Falcon 9 Heavy is "news" this week. The design has been advertised since the company first opened. Is it that flight hardware is now under construction? Or are they making a new effort to sell actual flights now?