Find a Security Clearance Job!

Space


Falcon 9 Heavy

Falcon 9 can only launch part of the DOD launch manifest. The Falcon 9 can lift 10,692 lbs to GTO. To launch all DOD missions, SpaceX will need to build and have certified the Falcon Heavy vehicle.

The Falcon 9 Heavy was SpaceX's entry into the Heavy Lift Vehicle category. Designed to lift over 32,000 kilograms to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and over 19,500 kilograms to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), the Falcon 9 Heavy was expected to compete with the largest commercial launchers then available. The Falcon 9 Heavy differed from the standard Falcon 9 vehicle only in the addition of 2 additional Falcon 9 first stages to the sides of the rocket. These common components, acting as boosters would allow the usage of existing Falcon 9 vehicles for missions requiring larger payloads.

SpaceX will unveil a more powerful version of its Falcon 9 rocket later this year, according to President Gwynne Shotwell in March 2015. The new rocket, which SpaceX has yet to name, will be 30% more powerful than the current Falcon 9. Falcon Heavy entered the Air Force certification process in April 2015 and SpaceX expected to have its first demonstration launch in late 2015.

SpaceX announced April 25, 2014 that it was filing a legal challenge to the U.S. Air Force’s latest Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contract with United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The long-term contract, which guarantees the purchase of 36 rocket cores from ULA to be used in national security launches, was granted to ULA on a sole-source basis without any competition from other launch providers. SpaceX is seeking the right to compete for some of these same launches.

“This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. “We are simply asking that SpaceX and any other qualified domestic launch providers be allowed to compete in the EELV program for any and all missions that they could launch.”

EELV is the fourth largest procurement program in the entire Department of Defense (DOD) budget, and it has been plagued by significant and sustained cost breaches. DOD officials have reported that EELV has exceeded its original estimated per unit cost by 58.4%. Each launch by ULA costs American taxpayers roughly $400 million per launch – four times as much as a launch by SpaceX.

SpaceX provides launch services for NASA as well as numerous commercial customers. SpaceX is ready and able to reliably provide launch services at an estimated cost savings of 75%.

Additionally, ULA’s launch vehicle, the Atlas V, uses the RD-180 engine – an engine of Russian design and manufacture produced only in the Russian Federation. The company that produces the RD-180, NPO Energomash, is majority owned by the Russian Federation. The head of the Russian space sector, Dmitry Rogozin, was sanctioned by the White House in March 2014 in the wake of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

“In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” said Elon Musk. “Yet, this is what the Air Force’s arrangement with ULA does, despite the fact that there are domestic alternatives available that do not rely on components from countries that pose a national security risk.”

On September 14, 2015 at the World Satellite Business Conference in Paris, France, SpaceX announced two new orders for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. The contracts include launch of a communications satellite for HISPASAT on a Falcon 9 and launch of the Saudi Arabian Arabsat 6A communications satellite on a Falcon Heavy.

When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit over 53 metric tons (117,000 lb)--a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel--Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 4.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to nearly eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy at 3:45 p.m. EST 06 February 2018 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch was originally slated for 1:30 p.m., but was delayed to wait for winds in Earth’s upper atmospheres to die down. Usually, test rockets are given "mass simulator" payloads: blocks of concrete or steel. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called that "extremely boring." "We decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel," said Musk on Monday. "The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing [the song] 'Space Oddity,' on a billion-year elliptic Mars orbit."

Two of the boosters were recycled and programmed to return for a simultaneous touchdown at Cape Canaveral, while the third, brand new, set its sights on an ocean platform some 300 miles offshore. With its successful launch, Falcon Heavy became the most powerful operational rocket in the world twice over. The 230-foot-tall rocket has a liftoff thrust of 5 million pounds and can carry over 70 tons of payload into Low-Earth Orbit. Comparatively, Falcon 9, the predecessor launcher of which Falcon Heavy is a modification, has a mere 1.3 million pounds of liftoff thrust and can carry 25 tons.

Falcon X and Falcon XX

The Falcon X and Falcon XX existed on one PowerPoint slide at the AIAA Joint Propulsion conference in 30 July 2010 by SpaceX rocket development facility director Tom Markusic. Unveiling conceptual plans for a family of Falcon X and XX future heavy-lift vehicles Markusic said, "Mars is the ultimate goal of SpaceX." There is no new info because they were never real designs. Falcon X, Falcon X Heavy and Falcon XX were to utilize the preliminary future engine that was initially referred to as the Merlin 2, but has since moved towards an engine called Raptor.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list