SpaceX - what we should build Falcon Heavy. And who needs all this
Ilon Mask surprised, but you can say that the scientific community made laugh in April 2011 . Then the entrepreneur first announced Falcon Heavy and told how it should work. Since then, the development of the “deep space exploration” phase by SpaceX has begun. The company began to gradually implement its plan. “This rocket is really gigantic,” said Musk once without particular specifics. Any characteristics were given a little later.
He also said that the USA (after all, the SpaceX company works in this country) will be proud not of one or two, but of many launches of new launch vehicles. According to Mask, heavy rockets and private astronautics have a great future. Speaking about this, Musk called one of the advantages - the possibility of launching people on the Moon and Mars. Nobody has flown to the Moon for the past several decades. Humanity simply did not even have a suitable rocket that could send payload and people away from Earth. In addition, Falcon Heavy can not just fly to Mars, but also send there a person with a payload. Mars is attracted to Mask, he said several times that without mastering the Red Planet, humanity is doomed.
In general, the company Mask with its inherent commitment to the development of a new launch vehicle. True, since the development of such a vehicle is extremely complicated, the launch of the rocket was constantly postponed. So, initially Ilon Musk stated that the rocket could be built by 2012 and then tested it. But it did not work out, because "everything turned out to be more complicated than we could even think." There were many technical problems, one of which was the simultaneous launch of the entire array of engines.
Since then, the launch of the rocket was constantly transferred, and only recently it was able to launch into space with the withdrawal of a payload into open space. This is a Tesla electric car, which, by the way, has a completely non-zero probability of returning to Earth.
The speed of the company can be envied. Ten years ago, SpaceX developed and launched the Falcon rocket into space 1. It was a rocket with only one engine. And even she was able to deliver a payload to Earth's orbit. Before SpaceX, none of the private business representatives did anything of the kind. This success allowed the company to sign a contract with NASA to develop the current version of the launch vehicle, called Falcon 9. In fact, Musk was able to equalize the capabilities of his rocket with the carriers of the world's largest aerospace agencies.
After the Falcon 9 began to land and take off with enviable regularity, it became clear that Musk will not stop there. And precisely, after working off the landing of the first steps of the accelerator, Ilon Musk and the company were already engaged in the practical implementation of the Falcon Heavy heavy carrier rocket - the draft and technical specifications were prepared earlier. This rocket allowed the United States to get a new type of rocket capable of flying to the Moon and Mars, despite the fact that the government did not pay a penny for its creation.
True, as mentioned above, the launch of the Falcon Heavy was constantly being transferred. But still launched a rocket, and immediately with a payload. One may be surprised at the company's decision to send an electric vehicle into space, but any surprise will disappear if we recall that from the very beginning SpaceX offered both military and NASA to send any cargo into space, and absolutely free. This could be, for example, a satellite, for sending which the customer usually pays millions of dollars for orbit. However, both the military and the agency refused. The reasons for this are different. The military simply feared losing their satellite, since the rocket was launched for the first time. But NASA refused, because it considers Falcon Heavy as a competitor to its own carrier, the SLS rocket. As a result, the electric car got into space, and in Tesla Inc., the manufacturer of these vehicles, one should think
As for NASA, Falcon Heavy is really a competitor to the agency, since launching it costs many times less than SLS. In the first case, it is about $ 90 million, in the second - about $ 500 million. In principle, you can immediately understand what kind of carrier customers will choose. Especially if Falcon Heavy is successfully launched for the second, third, fourth time.
Falcon 9 Refine
Yes, despite the success with Falcon Heavy, Musk and the team do not forget about their current "workhorse" - Falcon 9. This is a fairly reliable rocket, capable of sending more than 23 tons of payloads into orbit. Most likely, the new launch vehicle will be used to send heavy satellites of commercial customers relatively far from the Earth, and Falcon 9 will be used to launch lower-mass satellites to a lower orbit. By the way, until 2015, the Falcon rocket could send only about 13 tons of cargo into orbit. But using new materials, updating the Merlin engine, the company was able to double the capacity of the carrier.
And work on improving its design continues. Now the company is preparing a new version of Falcon 9, which was named Block 5. It will allow sending cargo into orbit with lower cost, also the time required to put the rocket in order for launch will decrease. As for the load capacity, it will increase by 10 percent, not more.
Who will use Falcon Heavy?
Customers who want to take advantage of Falcon Heavy, SpaceX already have. The first client is Arabsat, which plans to launch a 6-ton satellite Arabsat 6A into Earth orbit . The launch is planned for the second quarter of this year. After that, the mission of Space Test Program-2 for the USAF will be implemented. This is a whole cluster of research satellites (which they will explore is a secondary question), which will soon become a permanent neighbor of the Earth. And this seems to be all - other customers have not yet announced. Of course, maybe the company is trying to keep its negotiations secret with potential customers. But be that as it may, nothing is known about it.
But it is clear that "a holy place is never empty." Falcon Heavy can have a lot of customers, because the cost of launching a launch vehicle is very, very attractive, as mentioned above. One of the potential customers is the US Department of Defense. The special services have an interest in launching satellites to various nine orbits, which are important for the national security issues of the country. Currently, only the Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy from the United Launch Alliance can deliver vehicles to these orbits.
But now SpaceX may well claim to cooperate with the Ministry of Defense and the special services. For the latter, the opportunity to work with two space transport operators at once is a great opportunity to implement all of their projects. If one company fails, the second remains.
In addition to the military, SpaceX clients can article scientists. This is primarily about NASA. If the agency does work with Falcon Heavy, it will receive a number of options that were not available before. Of course, NASA can rely on Space Launch System’s own heavy launch vehicle (SLS). But it has not yet been created, and most likely, it will be able to start work only in the mid-2020s, that is, in almost 10 years. But Falcon Heavy is working now.
A heavy carrier rocket Ilona Mask can send a cargo to Mars, or to one of the scientists of interest to the moons of the giant planets: Europe, Enceladus, Titan.
According to some experts, Musk launched a relatively heavy load into space because he wanted to attract the attention of both the scientific community and the public to the capabilities of his company. As mentioned above, instead of the Falcon Heavy electric car, it could easily send a military or scientific satellite to the “duty station”. If NASA or the military had entrusted SpaceX with any of their payloads, then some device could already be in orbit, performing its functions.
Now a heavy booster can significantly reduce the time for the implementation of the mission mission of any scientific apparatus to the worlds of interest to scientists. And these opportunities are impressive, since science will be able to move forward, getting an idea of what the water worlds covered with ice crust are. Now there are only different hypotheses and assumptions, but "the truth is still somewhere out there."
From the very beginning of the work of SpaceX, Ilona Mask was bombarded with questions about the cost of launch. Somewhere in 2011, he said that the launch of Falcon 9 would cost the customer $ 50 million, and the same service using Falcon Heavy would cost $ 100 million.
Then few people believed him, but as it turned out, Musk was right. Now the price tag is $ 62 million for Falcon 9 and $ 90 million for Falcon Heavy. This is very budget compared to the offers of all other companies.
For the scientific field, successful launches of SpaceX rockets are simply a breakthrough. The fact is that the same SLS launch vehicle will not be ready to fly in the next five years. And in the US and other countries are already ready to fly to the moon, and right now. And such missions have become more than real thanks to a modest price tag (compared to other companies).
Of course, Musk himself really wants to send colonists to Mars. But now this goal still seems unattainable. But the flight to the moon, the return to the natural satellite of the Earth - is a very real mission, which will cost a relatively small amount (compared to the Mars mission).
According to many experts , if humanity plans to ever establish colonies on the Moon and Mars, then it should use the services of private, rather than state, space companies. In this case, the start-up cost will be much lower, and all processes within the company are optimized, since a commercial organization needs to earn money, rather than throw it around, which NASA is accused of.
By the way, Musk is preparing another carrier rocket, even more powerful. It is called BFR(English. Big Falcon Rocket or Big Fucking Rocket), and talk about it is not the first year. So far, the rocket is only being developed, but if this project is implemented, the horizons of outer space will become even more extensive for humans. This rocket can become an entrance ticket for a man to Mars or any other planets and planetoids of the solar system. However, it is still early to judge this option, since there are too many technical problems and technical issues.
But be that as it may, private astronautics has become quite a serious competitor to government organizations. Soon it may happen that NASA has nothing to oppose to SpaceX. Actually, this is no longer the future, but almost the present.