What you should know before the first flight of Falcon Heavy

    This whole week will be marked by the expectation of the first launch of a heavy (sometimes called superheavy) Falcon Heavy rocket. Therefore, I think, a short story about the history of the rocket and the features of the upcoming launch will be useful.

    Falcon Heavy on the launch pad, photo Derrick Stamos / NSF

    Long wait

    The idea of ​​a heavy rocket from three adjacent first stages was mentioned by Mask in 2005, when the concept of a Falcon 5 rocket with five engines turned into a Falcon 9 project with nine. Then its carrying capacity was estimated at 25 tons. The old SpaceX illustrations show that the designers were going to create a very powerful engine with a thrust in the region of 500 tons and replace it with Merlins, on which Falcon rockets have been flying since the creation to the present.

    Figure SpaceX, about the end of zero

    Figure SpaceX, beginning of the tenth

    The idea of ​​a “flying fence” of three universal modules at that time was a fashionable mainstream - it was designed according to Delta IV Heavy, Angara was developed, and the same modification was proposed for Atlas V. Officially, Falcon Heavy was introduced on April 5, 2011.

    Please note how in the video the first stage of the Falcon 9 differs from the modern version. It is shorter (lower engine thrust and less fuel), the engines are 3x3 square, and there are no landing supports. At the same time, they wanted to implement a truly unique technology for Falcon Heavy - fuel transfer from the side blocks to the central one. In this case, after separation of the side blocks, the central one would retain full tanks, which would positively affect the carrying capacity and effectiveness of the rocket. Alas, real life is more complicated than the Kerbal Space Program rocket-building game, they could not realize the idea, and now Falcon Heavy will throttle (reduce traction) the engines of the central unit, with incomplete tanks, its operation section will be shorter, and its efficiency will be lower.

    From the fifth of April 2011, the long-term expectation of the first flight started, which became a vivid illustration of the fact that it is difficult to create equipment, and the priority plans are changing. Instead of quickly creating the Falcon, Heavy SpaceX was engaged in improving the Falcon 9 and reusable first steps. If at first many still believed in the specified time, then after several years the next transfer of the date of the first flight of the Falcon Heavy was perceived with irony.

    Schedule postponement Due to

    boredom, enthusiasts processed the data using statistical methods and received the estimated launch date in the region of mid-February of this year. It will be ridiculous if the start of the 6th day is postponed, and as a result, the rocket will be launched at the time predicted by the results of many years of promise.

    Tribute to complexity and physics

    Alas, as a result of a collision with reality, another beautiful idea died - to make the central and side blocks completely identical. Calculations showed that without amplification, the central unit will not withstand the load. As a matter of fact, it is the flight load that will be the main risk for the rocket - any calculations on computers can give only approximate numbers, moreover, some parameter could be taken into account incorrectly. But problems from a large number of engines should not be feared. Only catastrophic destruction can be dangerous, because in other cases the control system will reduce traction from the opposite side and stabilize the flight. Sometimes 27 Falcon Heavy engines are compared with 30 on the first stage of the Soviet N-1, all four starts of which failed, but this is incorrect. N-1 is very unlucky, its engines were checked incorrectly and insufficiently before starting, and there were no test benches to check the first stage assembly. In general, many engines can evenincrease safety, provided that after failure one traction remaining is enough to continue the flight. In the history of the Falcon 9, there was a case of engine failure in 2012. At that time, the control system coped with the indignation, and only a secondary payload was lost (the main one, the Dragon ship, successfully flew to the ISS).

    It should also be noted that the official figures for carrying capacity of 63.8 tons are indicated for a completely one-time option. In the autumn presentation at the International Astronautical Congress, a reloading capacity of 30 tons was announced for the reusable version. This is not surprising - the fuel supply for landing steps seriously reduces the maximum possible payload. However, so far and thirty tons will make the Falcon Heavy the most lifting rocket.

    In the first test launch, the first blocks that were already flying were placed on the side blocks. It is also planned to land all three blocks - the side blocks will have to return to Cape Canaveral and land on the ground, and the central block - to board the barge. But the third stage will be lost - in the spring of 2017, Musk wrote that they would try to save her, but in the end they chose the option to accelerate the stage and the payload to the second cosmic speed and send it outside the Earth's orbit.

    Red Ponte

    Photo: SpaceX

    Payload in the test launch will be the personal Tesla Roadster Ilona Mask 2009. Real test satellites are rarely put on test flights, and the option to send a car into space is useful from the point of view of PR and looks better than the overall weight model. This will not be the first car to come off the Earth on a rocket - Top Gear managed before, but if successful, the car will be the first in orbit. Contrary to Mask's claim that the Roadster will be sent to the orbit of Mars, the car will be in a heliocentric (around the Sun) orbit between the Earth and Mars. And if Musk is a real troll, then he will say that he put the kettle in the trunk.

    The launch will take place from the historic launch complex LC39A of Cape Canaveral, where Saturn V and Space Shuttles started. The guests of honor were Buzz Aldrin, who was flying from the same site as part of the Apollo 11 crew, and Harrison Ford, who piloted in the movie Millennium Falcon (Falcon translates as “Falcon”). The start time is indicated by a three-hour window starting at 21:30 Moscow time on February 6. Regardless of the result, the launch of the Falcon Heavy will indeed be an interesting sight.

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    We guess the result of the first start

    • 0.8% Missile destruction before launch 12
    • 8.6% Missile loss at the site of the first stage (side blocks) 122
    • 5.6% Failure to separate side blocks 79
    • 2.8% Missile loss in the second stage (central unit) operation area 40
    • 1.4% Crash with missile loss at the third-stage separation section or third-stage operation site 20
    • 29.7% Partial success - an accident that did not result in a loss of payload 418
    • 50.7% Total Success 713

    Also popular now: