Money SpaceX debuts the Block V rocket it will use to launch humans in space

18:26  10 may  2018
18:26  10 may  2018 Source:   qz.com

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Testy lawmakers peppered executives from Boeing and SpaceX with questions at a hearing yesterday about delayed efforts to launch humans into space from the United States. The new version of the rocket , known as Block V , is expected to be finalized before the end of the quarter.

The Heavy's debut , for example, has been delayed for years. SpaceX unveiled its new Falcon Heavy rocket on Wednesday, a month before its first launch . SpaceX 's Elon Musk to launch his own car into deep space .

Watch: SpaceX to launch final version of its Falcon 9 rocket (Newsy)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sitting on the pad at Kennedy Space Center doesn’t look too different from its predecessors, but it represents the culmination of two decades worth of rocket engineering at Elon Musk’s space company.

a large ship in a body of water: The Falcon 9 Block IV vehicle that launched the NASA TESS satellite.© Provided by Quartz The Falcon 9 Block IV vehicle that launched the NASA TESS satellite. The fifth iteration of the Falcon 9 rocket, called a “Block V,” it is intended to be the final version of the company’s workhorse orbital lifter, capable of being reused ten times or more with minimal refurbishment between flights. Today, it will lift a Bangladeshi satellite into orbit, but its final purpose is to show NASA it is safe to carry astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

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This version of the rocket will be certified to fly humans into space next year. Today’s mission will be the fourth SpaceX launch this year, a projected rate of about 24 a year. One of those launches was the debut of the new Falcon Heavy rocket earlier this month.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., doing business as SpaceX , is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs

a plane sitting on top of a runway: Instagram Photo© Provided by Quartz Instagram Photo The first version of the Falcon 9 flew in 2010 as part of a NASA program designed to create a commercial cargo service to the space station, after the space shuttle program was cancelled for being too costly, complex and ultimately dangerous. Despite setbacks like a 2015 mission failure and a 2016 fueling accident that destroyed a rocket, the Falcon 9 has gone to orbit fifty-three times in the last eight years.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by Quartz Now, to complete Musk’s vision, the final version of the SpaceX workhorse needs to take people into space.

Evolution of a rocket

The Falcon 9 is the first reusable, vertical-landing orbital rocket, a process that the company tested during missions. This “test as we fly” approach allowed it to develop its technology more cheaply than it could have otherwise, landing a booster safely for the first time in 2015 and launching a “flight-proven” booster for the first time in 2017. Since then, SpaceX has flown used boosters eleven times.

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SpaceX is bucking decades of launch tradition for the first test flight of its new megarocket. The Falcon Heavy is set to become the world's most powerful rocket in use today when it blasts off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

Literally. The plan is pretty straightforward: Sometime after 6:27pm EDT, SpaceX will attempt to launch and land a Falcon 9 rocket that includes the same first stage booster used last April to send a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS).

Reusability is intended to save money, but the benefit of not having to build nine new engines and the rest of the first stage for each flight is reduced by the cost of recovering the rocket and refurbishing it between flights. Currently, SpaceX is re-flying boosters after about a six month break, which is far from the forty-eight hour turnaround that Musk and company aim for.

The Block V is built to reduce turnaround time: It boasts sturdier gear, like titanium fins that steer the booster back to ground without bursting into flame, as the previous aluminum edition would. The engines are bolted, rather than welded, in place, for easier installation and maintenance. A bare section of carbon fiber is left unpainted to save weight and time.

If it works as expected, re-using the Block V Falcon 9—already the best deal in the market—could drive up SpaceX’s profit margins at a time when it is trying to recoup development costs and push forward into a new, larger rocket intended to ply the solar system.

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It was initially designed to restore the possibility of sending humans to the Moon or Mars, but those plans SpaceX 's Elon Musk to launch his own car into deep space . December 7, 2017. A SpaceX "Starman" is aboard the company's new rocket that's set to make its launch debut from Florida.

SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-4 from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. No other company operates a partially reusable orbital rocket , though Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin plans to debut one, the New Glenn, in 2020.

Upgrading the Falcon’s engines

The Falcon 9’s most important and controversial upgrades concern the engines and the plumbing that fuels them. NASA and its outside advisers have pushed SpaceX on safety, ahead of its first crewed test flight expected in early 2019. One key concern was cracking in the blades of a fan in the engine that forces high-pressure propellant into the combustion chamber. SpaceX worked to develop a more robust design for this critical component, called a turbopump, to ensure that it stands up to repeated re-use.

Watch: SpaceX looks to mass-produce space rockets (Buzz60)

The second and larger problem concerned the tanks that SpaceX uses to store its high-pressure propellant. The tanks are made of carbon fiber lined with aluminum to save weight. However, when the company fills its rocket with liquid oxygen, chilled to super-low temperatures to fit more inside, accidents can happen.

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Although SpaceX has said the Falcon Heavy was "designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying SpaceX 's hot new monster rocket makes its launch debut this week, blasting off from the same pad that hoisted men to the moon a half-century ago.

The debut of SpaceX ’s newest rocket is scheduled for Thursday with a launch from Kennedy Space Center. The new-generation Falcon 9 Block is expected to launch from pad 39A with a launch window stretching from 4:12 p.m. to 6:22 p.m.

After a rocket exploded during fueling ahead of a flight test in 2015, SpaceX launched a redesign of those tanks and how they are used to ensure that such a nasty surprise never happens while humans are onboard. NASA conducted its own independent testing. While the two organizations are still debating how to approach the actual fueling procedure, with some outside advisors concerned about fueling the rocket with astronauts on board, SpaceX’s engineers expect the design of this new rocket to satisfy the space agency’s safety concerns with their advanced technology.

SpaceX will need to fly its Block V rocket seven times before NASA okays it for human use. At the company’s current flight rate, that could take just a few months.

a screenshot of a cell phone© Provided by Quartz

NOW SEE: A day in the life of Elon: Elon Musk's insane daily schedule revealed (Business Insider)

Elon Musk standing on a city street: • Elon Musk splits much of his time between SpaceX and Tesla.• He is the CEO of both companies.• He plans every minute of his day, and often works through meals. Elon Musk is one busy guy. The Tesla and SpaceX founder generally spends a full workweek at each of his two companies, wolfing down lunch in five minutes and skipping phone calls for productivity's sake. So it's not surprising that his daily life is pretty jam-packed. Based on previous interviews, Business Insider pieced together an estimation of what an average day looks like for this real-life Tony Stark. Take a look at a day in the life of Elon Musk: A look at the demanding schedule of Elon Musk, who works in 5-minute slots, skips breakfast, and largely avoids emails

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