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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 16 2017, @01:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the meals-on-boosters dept.

SpaceX has successfully flown and landed a used booster for its CRS-13 resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS):

SpaceX's first flight with a pre-flown booster for NASA was a success. After launch, SpaceX successfully touched down its used Falcon 9 rocket at the company's ground-based Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. This marks the 14th landing SpaceX has pulled off this year, and the second time this particular vehicle has landed following take off. This is also their 17th launch of 2017.

[...] This morning's launch will carry nearly 4,800 pounds of cargo to the ISS. Included on board is a sensor designed to monitor how much space debris is surrounding the station, as well as another sensor that's supposed to measure how much sunlight reaches the Earth.

It's a triple-play!


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:48AM (3 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Saturday December 16 2017, @07:48AM (#610649) Journal

    The final (they say) version of Falcon 9 will have better thrust, reusability and need less refurbishment:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9_Block_5 [wikipedia.org]

    Elsewhere it is stated that they want to reuse a booster within a day or so:

    SpaceX targets 24-hour first stage rocket re-use turnaround by 2018 [techcrunch.com]

    That might be rare unless the pace of launches is much higher than it is now.

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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:10AM (2 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:10AM (#610811) Journal

    need less refurbishment:

    In the video they mentioned they are doing less refurb, and launched this one without even washing off the soot from the last launch.
    The did paint some parts near the bottom end, because the paint there is functional ablative paint that keeps the underlying metal cooler.

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:38AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday December 17 2017, @12:38AM (#610815) Journal

      I would point to the stuff listed in the Block 5 Wikipedia article.

      7-8% increased thrust. Rather than carrying more payload with this, you could reserve a little more fuel to land the first stage (and second?). More customers would be able to choose the reusable launch profile (instead of expendable) due to the thrust increase.

      Titanium grid fins which were tested on one of the current rockets, but I don't know if they are standard yet. Needs no refurb between launches.

      Thermal protection coating. Only on the first stage it seems. A reminder that recovering the second stage will be quite difficult, or rarely attempted if it lowers the payload of the rocket too much.

      Retractable landing legs which make it quicker and more convenient to move the thing.

      Reusable heat shield protecting the engines and plumbing at the base of the rocket. I'd like to learn more about this one.

      Although there is routine landing/reuse of Falcon 9 in 2017, these improvements could be exactly what are needed to make reuse economical. After a few launches of Block 5, we might see lower prices on the SpaceX website.

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      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Sunday December 17 2017, @07:57AM

        by bob_super (1357) on Sunday December 17 2017, @07:57AM (#610899)

        > Reusable heat shield protecting the engines and plumbing at the base of the rocket. I'd like to learn more about this one.

        Given that the last two landings I watched (not this one) had fire at the bottom of the rocket right after touchdown, and considering they fall back through most of the atmosphere at supersonic speeds despite looking like a glorified brick, I'd really like to know more about the stresses that the shield is designed against. Anyone got any specs, or is that top secret ?