Space

SpaceX refires Falcon 9 used in historic first landing

SpaceX refires Falcon 9 used i...
The Falcon 9 shown in hanger after its historic landing
The Falcon 9 shown in hanger after its historic landing
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The Falcon 9 shown in hanger after its historic landing
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The Falcon 9 shown in hanger after its historic landing
Elon Musk tweeted the news of the refire
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Elon Musk tweeted the news of the refire

SpaceX is having a busy week. As the company prepares for another water landing, Founder and CEO Elon Musk has announced that the Falcon 9 booster that made the historic first powered controlled landing of a space rocket has successfully completed a post-flight static test fire.

In a tweet on Friday, Musk said: "Conducted hold-down firing of returned Falcon rocket. Data looks good overall, but engine 9 showed thrust fluctuations." He went on to post, "Maybe some debris ingestion. Engine data looks okay. Will borescope tonight. This is one of the outer engines."

A borescope is an optical instrument made of a rigid or flexible tube that uses prisms or fiber optics to allow inspectors to see inside of tight spaces, such as rocket engines.

Elon Musk tweeted the news of the refire
Elon Musk tweeted the news of the refire

The firing, which took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, did not involve a flight. This test was an important demonstration of the Falcon 9's ability to be reused after an orbital launch mission with a minimum of overhauling.

On December 21, 2015, the Falcon 9 booster flew into the history books as it touched down on Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. Ten minutes previously, the nine-engine rocket had thundered into space to deliver 11 communications satellites into low-Earth orbit. It then fired its engines twice again to kill its hypersonic velocity and steer it back to the Cape, where it set down on a dramatic tail of fire.

Though the Falcon 9 shows little sign of damage after its brief trip into space, it's unlikely to ever fly again. In a previous statement, a company spokesman said that because of its historic value, this particular rocket will be preserved after tests are completed.

Sources: SpaceX, Twitter

6 comments
mhpr262
History must be pretty important for Elon if he is willing to ground a gorillion dollar rocket stage instead of relaunching it, just to have a fancy convesation piece in the SpaceX entrance hall ... That said, every time I see this picture I am amazed that the stage doesn't crack in the middle, with being stored horizontally and supported only on the extreme ends.
JøhP
I disagree with the assessment of historic value. The core value of the system, is the principle of reuse. That principle will only be proven, once the reuse happens.
Nostromo47
Reply to JøhP and mhpr262: It's not my money, but not re-flying the booster is just as well. Better this historical piece be put in the Smithsonian Air and Space. Reusability can be demonstrated by a subsequent vehicle.
nimbuzz
mhpr262-- I know what you mean being amazed it doesn't crack but since you made me think about it--it is a strongly made but light shell with no fuel. Many aviation bodies are this way.
Tyler Totten
In regards to being stored horizontally, sure many aircraft are similar, but they're designed to go in that direction. I too am impressed they are comfortable enough to leave it on its side without center support. The structural design is optimized for vertical and full of fuel. Impressive structural design to be able to sit like that. Wouldn't mind seeing the structural plans and FEA for that stage.
Lonchair
While obviously complex, the basic plan of these rockets is simple. The lower half is a tank with a tube running down the center. Think of a very very tall doughnut. The top half is another tank, with it's outlet being the tube through the bottom tank. There is little other structure, the tank's outer diameter is the outer skin of the rocket. If you look closely at photos or models, you will see little vertical fairings running from the top to bottom of the rocket. This is because all wiring, plumbing, etc, has to be exterior of the tanks. A tube is very strong. Railroad tank cars are steel tubes supported only by their ends, fully loaded, and subjected to all the dynamic stresses of being a rail car with the tube being the only structure.