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Falcon 9 is back in the hangar

SpaceX’s founder, Elon Musk posted one more picture with the Falcon 9, which is now resting in a hangar, waiting to be launched again. That is if it won’t find its place in a museum, and to be honest, it is a rocket that should be preserved for the next generations. Although the Falcon 9 will be kept on the ground, no one could say that it didn’t do its job. It was launched and it landed again without any damage, which doesn’t happen too often.

falcon 9
The Falcon 9 is resting at Cape Canaveral hangar

The Falcon 9 rocket was launched on December 21, 2015, and it managed to land almost perfectly, without any damages. This is a great deal, because if rockets will be recoverable and fireable again, those who launch them, whether it is the government or companies in the private sector, will be able to save a lot of money. The saved amounts could be turned to other projects, and thus lead to incredible discoveries in the future. The Falcon 9 is the first rocket of SpaceX to be recovered without any damages but we hope to see more in the near future. Its test launch was originally scheduled for December 20, but due to more favorable weather forecasts, it was pushed to December 21.

The first Falcon 9 launch of SpaceX, in June, was a disaster, given the fact that the rocket blew up only a few moments after its deployment. Now, fortunately, we’ve seen a success that could be the beginning of an era that would make spaceflight in the private sector more affordable and a lot more efficient. Elon Musk and his team definitely won’t stop here and the following Falcon 9 will be launched soon.  We hope to see it land as beautifully as its predecessor which now rests in a hanger at Cape Canaveral, and will most likely end up in a museum where everyone will be able to see it.

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About Calin Andreescu

I have always been eager to try out any gadget I could get my hands on. I became a tech journalist so that I could always be around technology and see the newest devices. I use gadgets every day to make my work and life easier. I have enough experience to know If a device is actually improving my activity, offers something useful or new. I will post my honest opinions and judge a device as objectively as I can.

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15 comments

  1. It is premature and imprecise to say that the rocket landed without any damage. It is too soon to say if that is the case, it has not been inspected, analyzed, taken apart to see what actually resulted from its flight.

    Some damage does and will occur from these flights, comparisons to aircraft ignore the fact that they get very regular inspections, maintenance, and repairs. It’s a question of how much, where, and what does it take to refurbish it.

    • Musk actually sent a public message saying the inspection was complete and there was no damage. Rocket engines are always test fired and even run a complete mission cycle on the ground prior to use, so “refurbishment” should be little more than a standard refueling procedure, not fundamentally dissimilar to air-breathing turbo machinery.

      This craft is basically brand new; it shouldn’t need too much scrutiny. They’ll run it in ground test for another complete mission profile to prove it’s OK, then keep it for posterity. The next one will truly fly twice…

      • Hmm. About 8 days since the landing… Well, I’m going to say “If he says so”, and retain a healthy amount of skepticism. It’s just my nature to do so when I have no way of knowing what was actually done. Mostly I’m considering just how you’d fully inspect without taking the entire thing apart, I guess. I don’t care what the pundits say, rockets are complex beasts. At a minimum, I think you’d have to peel the skin off to get at everything right.

        • I appreciate your skepticism, but as an aeronautical engineer, I understand the mindset here. There comes a point where “peeling the skin off” does more harm than good. Disassembly DOES often require a full refurbishment, at which point it’s not much different than a fresh build, both in terms of cost and reliability. (By the way, much of the “skin” is actually the outside of the actual fuel tanks, which are stir-friction welded into a single, uniform structural piece.)

          There will be those “major” maintenance periods, as they start using them multiple times, but I’m sure that in the short run, as long as diagnostics check out and X-ray crack checking is performed (which can be done in a week, just like initial build), then doing more could only cause more problems than it solves.

          I cannot agree with you more that rockets are incredibly complex, and one little issue can make things go very bad very quickly, but I know that adding variables to the equation does not always make it better. It worked once, and going through the cycle again is no more (and no less!) risky than the first time.

          I’m excited to see how this program plays out in the long run. There will be mistakes, and they aren’t going to put human lives in danger on the “old rocket” program without fully evaluating the failure modes. We are in mostly uncharted territory (the Space Shuttle was sort of a start) so there’s a long path ahead.

          You and I will both be grabbing our popcorn for those future flights!

          • Let’s not pretend that it’s the same as air-breathing turbo-machinery. The tanks operate at higher pressure and contain cryogenic propellants. The rocket experiences dramatically higher pressure, thermal, and vibrational loads. The turbos move vastly more fuel per second relative to their size. The engines face more hostile burn conditions. And everything has to be made just absurdly lightweight.

            Don’t get me wrong, I do believe they’ll get reusability out of their rockets. But I think the airplane comparisons do downplay the differences. For example I strongly suspect that the aluminum accumulates more fatigue in a single flight than a 747 accumulates in hundreds – not just from the higher stresses, but also from the low temperatures making it less malleable at the same time.

  2. Amazon Blue Origin did it first and no damage . It was perfect. Far Far Superior.

    • Blue origin barely made it to the legal boundary of space with a much smaller vehicle moving at a much slower speed while not carrying any payload at all. It was little more than a publicity stunt when compared too the spacex landing.

  3. Very cool to see – someone call the Smithsonian at Dulles Airport so I can visit it! I guess you would need to cut it up and put it on trucks. Otherwise I can see SpaceX creating a very interesting museum at Cape Canaveral with this as a key exhibit. Wait until a Falcon Heavy launch with 3 boosters coming back to 3 closely spaced landing pads. That will be a heck of a show. Thanks to SpaceX for making space fun again and creating new possibilities for the future.

  4. SpaceX barely made it to the legal boundary of space moving at a much slower speed while not carrying any payload at all. It was little more than a publicity stunt when compared too the Blue Origin landing

    • Think you got that backwards Andy. SpaceX booster was moving at 5,000 mph at ~40 miles when its second stage cut in and delivered 11 satellites to orbit. To be sure, Mr. Bezos’s Blue Origin got higher (probably 60 miles) but it is the craft w/o a payload.

    • Andrew,

      You do indeed have it backwards. You might consider what people are trying to tell you. If not, I’ve made some comparisons for you. The biggest is the fact that SpaceX completed this during a working mission and launched 11 Orbcomm satellites. Blue Origin was a test mission only.

      The New Shepard and the Falcon 9 have very different designs, which stem from their very different mission goals. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is meant to launch payloads — such as satellites and cargo — into orbit around Earth and beyond. It’s why the rocket’s shape is so thin and tall; it creates less drag on the vehicle, allowing it to break free from the atmosphere more easily and go deeper into space. But such a shape also makes it much harder for the rocket to land upright back on Earth. The engines on the bottom of the rocket help to orient it vertically during descent, but it’s almost like dropping a lead pipe from the roof and having it land on its end. The rocket is prone to tilt and fall over.

      The New Shepard isn’t meant to go as far up as the Falcon 9, however, which is echoed in the rocket’s shape. The vehicle is only designed to take people to sub-orbital space for about four minutes.

      Height Reached:

      -SpaceX Falcon 9 reached 124 miles.
      -Blue Origin New Shepard reached only 62-miles.

      Speed Reached:
      -Falcon 9 reaches mach 7.5 before falling back to earth.
      -New Shepard reaches mach 3.

      Thrust Acquired:
      -Falcon 9 has 1.5 million pounds of thrust.
      -New Shepard has only 100,000 pounds of thrust.

      I’ve done the research for you, I hope this helps you.

  5. Musk said earlier that he doesn’t plan to launch this one again. He probably does want to put it in a museum.

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