10 Facts About SpaceX And How It Is Revolutionizing Space Travel

Rockets For International Transit Fly Anywhere In The World In Under An Hour!

earth science space science space station science earth science space science space station space science
Alongside Elon Musk’s Mars plan, he has posed this question: If SpaceX is building a rocket to travel to the Moon and Mars, then why not use the BFR to travel to other places around the world, too? Due to the BFR’s 100 percent reusability, it is conceivable that it could be used for incredibly fast travel from country to country.

Musk says that it would be necessary to find spots for the rocket to take off and land that are somewhat removed from big cities because “rockets are quite noisy.” But most of your travel time would be spent getting to the launchpad. From there, it would be quite a short flight. On top of this, once you are free of Earth’s atmosphere, your flight would be “silky smooth” with no air to cause turbulence or bad weather.

Most heavily trafficked commercial airline routes such as LA to New York, London and Paris to New York, LA to London, and London to Hong Kong could be completed via BFR in anywhere from 25 to 35 minutes. There has been no official quote on the price of tickets for these flights, but it can be assumed that they will be relatively expensive at first due to the technological infancy of this type of air . . . er, excuse us . . . space travel.

The Most Powerful Rocket In The World Falcon Heavy February 6 Launch

earth science space science space station science earth science space science space station space science

The Falcon Heavy is an extension of the Falcon 9 and is currently the heavy-lifting vehicle for Musk’s company. Since the Saturn V, no rocket has been as powerful. Similar in height to the Falcon 9 but boasting two additional Falcon 9 first-stage boosters, the Falcon Heavy is composed of three engine cores and a second-stage payload rocket mounted atop the middle core.

Its thrust at liftoff is 22,819 kilonewtons (5.13 million pounds), and it is capable of transporting 64,000 kilograms (140,000 lb)—about 10 African elephants—of material to low Earth orbit, 17,000 kilograms (37,000 lb) to Mars, and almost 3,600 kilograms (8,000 lb) to Pluto!

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket took off from historic Pad 39a at the Cape Canaveral launch center in Florida, the same launchpad that saw Apollo missions send men to the Moon. The mission was a huge milestone for SpaceX, which is now the only commercial space company to have sent a payload beyond Earth’s gravity.

The simultaneous landing of the two outer core Falcon boosters is a demonstration of SpaceX’s increasing mastery of reusable rocket technology. Upon the outer cores’ reentry, it was possible to hear six sonic booms emanate from each of the boosters’ lower sections, landing legs, and grid fins.

The middle core missed its landing mark on one of SpaceX’s autonomous ocean drones by about 100 meters (330 ft) and collided with the Pacific at roughly 485 kilometers per hour (300 mph). Musk later clarified that the center core had been unable to reignite two of its engines for the crucial landing burn that would slow the booster from supersonic speed to a gentle touchdown.

In typical whimsical SpaceX fashion, the dummy payload that was used to test the rocket’s lifting capacity was Elon Musk’s own Tesla Roadster. An astronaut mannequin affectionately nicknamed “Starman” (in tribute to David Bowie’s song) is its passenger. The mannequin wears the spacesuit that SpaceX is currently developing.

The roadster was sent on a trans-Mars orbit, which means there is a car traveling through space toward Mars at about nine times the speed of sound. Its projected orbit takes it on an elliptical path several million miles beyond Mars before looping back around the Sun.

However, due to the carbon composite structure of the car and the prevalence of radiation and microscopic debris in space, chemists say that most of the car will probably disintegrate within a year.

You Can Track Starman’s Progress Through The Solar System

earth science space science space station science earth science space science space station space science

On the heels of the February 6, 2018, Falcon Heavy launch, electrical engineer and aerospace industry worker Ben Pearson created a website, www.whereisroadster.com, that tracks Starman and his cherry red roadster as they hurtle through space.

The site gives the velocity and position data relative to Earth, Mars, and the Sun. It also provides a simulation of Starman’s orbit around the Sun and even quippy bits of data like the estimated gas mileage and how many times the roadster has so far exceeded its lifetime warranty.

Pearson’s simulation is based on data he receives from the JPL HORIZONS system, which is an online compendium of solar system object tracking used for asteroids, comets, satellites, and spacecraft. Pearson has also calculated a series of close approaches, or when the roadster will be within some fraction or multiple of an astronomical unit of Earth or Mars. An astronomical unit is the distance from the Earth to the Sun or about 150 million kilometers (93 million mi).

Pearson created the website shortly after the launch. He realized that there would probably be a significant audience, himself included, for tracking the rather comical display.

Starlink Initiative And An Attempt To Recover Falcon 9’s Nose

earth science space science space station science earth science space science space station space science

On February 22, 2018, the PAZ and Starlink satellites were launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 booster. PAZ is a Spanish military satellite for security and defense. The Starlink satellites are the preliminary test craft for SpaceX’s Starlink initiative which aims to provide global broadband Internet access by 2024.

Code-named Tintin A and B, these two satellites will serve as proof of concept while SpaceX waits for FCC approval to launch many hundreds—and eventually thousands—more. The satellites will communicate with each other and ground stations via optical lasers, beaming Internet access anywhere from Antarctica to an African village.

Following the launch, SpaceX attempted to recover half of the upper stage’s fairing using their fairing recovery boat named Mr. Steven. The fairing is the nose cone of the rocket which protects the payload on ascent and is vital to the vehicle’s aerodynamic frame.

After the second stage has exited Earth’s atmosphere, there is no air to resist the motion of the spacecraft and so the fairing splits into two pieces and falls back to Earth. Each piece is valued at about $3 million, together totaling about 10 percent of the launch cost.

In painstaking efforts to make every part of the rocket reusable, the fairing, alongside the booster, must be recovered. That’s where Mr. Steven comes in. The boat positions itself underneath the fairing as it falls and uses a giant net (like a baseball glove) to catch it.

The fairing itself uses cold gas thrusters and a large parachute to guide it to a specific point over the ocean and to slow down from its reentry speed of eight times the speed of sound. Unfortunately, Mr. Steven missed the fairing by just several hundred feet this time, but it eventually recovered the nose cone and proudly sailed back into harbor with it in tow.

SpaceX intends to eventually have multiple Mr. Stevens, although likely under different names, to help with their increasingly busy launch schedule.

Prev3 of 3Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *