SpaceX launches communications satellite as Falcon 9 nears end of life

By William Gayde ยท 10 replies
Mar 17, 2017
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  1. In the early hours of Thursday morning, SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite for EchoStar. The original launch was scheduled for Tuesday but was scrubbed due to high winds. While SpaceX is known for innovation in the field of aerospace with countless launches and subsequent recoveries of their rockets, today's event was just a standard launch. The EchoStar XXIII satellite was successfully deployed to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and will now provide broadcast services to Brazil.

    GTO is considered "far" for rocket launches since it is about 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface. The satellite was also on the heavier side compared to most launches SpaceX has done. Because of the distance and weight, the rocket needed to carry extra fuel which did not leave room for landing equipment. The Falcon 9 rocket that was used is also nearing its end of life.

    SpaceX will be transitioning to the Falcon Heavy rocket soon as the Falcon 9 is nearing its final upgrade version. Elon Musk first unveiled the Falcon Heavy back in 2005 where it was described as 3 Falcon 9's joined together. With 27 engines, the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket ever besides the Saturn V.

    The Heavy is scheduled to begin flying in the summer of 2017.

    The launch took place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Launch Complex 39A, the same pad that launched people to the moon on Apollo 11. Back in 2014 SpaceX signed a 20 year lease with NASA to use this launchpad.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    After 50 years, the Saturn V is still the benchmark. They sure don't make 'em like they used to. Having said that, it's a completely different ballgame these days, such powerful rockets aren't needed... yet.
    Reehahs and moonwatcher like this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,339   +1,986

    With the advanced engineering, improvements on fuels, etc. the old Saturn V will slip into obscurity ... except for those that have visited the Johnson Space Center and see it first hand. Regardless of it's obsoletion, it joins a long list of truly impressive vehicles including the Spirit of St. Louis, Connie Mac, XB-70, Gemini & Apollo series. All gone, but certainly not forgotten ..... We can only hope that Space X will make their own contributions to that legacy for this and future generations to admire ......
  4. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 283   +180

    The article seems to imply that the Falcon 9 is no longer going to be flown soon, which is pretty incorrect...
    moonwatcher likes this.
  5. moonwatcher

    moonwatcher TS Rookie

    As Kotters noted, the Falcon 9 is NOT being retired anytime soon. In fact, it is just getting STARTED. Why the author included such an obviously wrong blurb in their headline must have been to simply get clicks. Come on, you don't have to resort to those tactics. If you want clicks, include a picture of a hot girl in a bikini to make it worth our while. LOL.

    In any event, the Falcon 9 is entering its FINAL configuration. This configuration of the Falcon 9 will be the workhorse launcher for SpaceX for a considerable time. The Falcon 9 Heavy will only be used a few times a year (if that) to launch heavy communications satellites, and military satellites that can't be inserted into their required orbits by the Falcon 9.

    Yes, SpaceX is working on a new engine (Methane/LOX) and a new vehicle. Such engines burn cleaner than Kerosene/LOX engines, and should allow for quicker and easier (and most importantly, cheaper) refurbishment for relaunch. But the Falcon 9 has only flown 31 times so far, and has much work ahead of it, launching the bulk of SpaceX's manifest of booked flights in order to pay the bills for the company.
    mbrowne5061 and Kotters like this.
  6. moonwatcher

    moonwatcher TS Rookie

    As the largest successful launch vehicle ever flown (so far) and the one that took men to the moon, I doubt it will fall into "obscurity" anytime soon among those who pay attention. Even SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy "only" can launch about half the payload the Saturn V could. And now, with the DoD pursuing smaller satellites for its missions (because they can be developed cheaper and quicker, taking advantage of improvements in sensor technology), the Falcon 9 Heavy may not have as much of a market as Elon Musk originally envisioned. So, it is a good thing it is based about 90% on the Falcon 9, which will be the bread winner for SpaceX for a good long while.

    I still want to see that baby fly though - for sure.
  7. moonwatcher

    moonwatcher TS Rookie

    One thing that SpaceX could look at the economics of would be the relative cost of a Falcon 9 vs Falcon 9 Heavy if say you could take a page out of Ariane V's playbook and launch TWO satellites on one flight. That might make it more viable for use more often. I'm sure Ms. Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX has at least taken a look at that.
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    It'll never slip into obscurity, ever. That was the booster that pioneered our flight into space proper. It's long gone now but will never be forgotten. Just like the Model T Ford will never be forgotten for pioneering vehicle mass production and bringing them to the masses.
  9. BobH000

    BobH000 TS Rookie

    Yep. F9 is not being retired. MOST of SpaceX paid payloads dont require more than F9, so a FHeavy would be complete overkill. FH is for greater things and will allow for fully reusable launches of heavy payloads that woudl have otherwise required expending the S1 of a F9. The author is mixing things up.
    Kotters and Reehahs like this.
  10. BobH000

    BobH000 TS Rookie

    Well at least they're (the last two boosters) now preserved inside buildings (not outside like when I was a kid in the 70s) and will remain for future generations to see in Houston and Florida.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Didn't they use the remaining one to get some equipment up to the space lab? I know a few Apollo missions were scrubbed and there was still one remaining...

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