The Falcon 9, is a revolutionary two-stage rocket that has transformed space exploration. Developed by Spacex ,this two-stage rocket has revolutionized aerospace engineering. The Falcon 9 stands 69.9m tall, weighs 549,054kg, and generates 7,607 kilonewtons of thrust at take-off, which can send 22,800kg into orbit around the Earth. The Falcon 9’s accomplishments have accelerated space missions, encouraged innovation, and inspired future generations to dream beyond Earth’s boundaries. As a driving force in space exploration, the Falcon 9 plays a pivotal role in humanity’s quest to reach the stars and shape the future of interplanetary exploration.
“We’re on track to be double our launch rate last year, which was a record launch rate for us. In fact, I believe Falcon 9 was the most launched rocket worldwide of 2017. And, if things go well, which is a caveat, then SpaceX will launch more rockets than any other country in 2018.”Elon Musk
By pioneering reusable rocket technology, the Falcon 9 dramatically reduced the cost of space travel and increased launch frequency. Elon Musk draws a parallel between single-use rockets and single-use airplanes. If airlines had to discard a Boeing 747 after each flight, air travel would be exorbitantly expensive for the average passenger. However, airplanes are refueled for multiple flights, ensuring cost efficiency. Applying a similar principle to rockets, refueling them like airplanes significantly reduces the astronomical cost of spaceflight, with far-reaching implications for the future of space exploration.
Building Falcon 9
The Falcon 9’s first stage is housed in a metal Octaweb structure, housing the Merlin engines. In contrast to earlier configurations, where nine engines were arranged in three rows of three, the Octaweb clusters eight engines around a central one. Beyond aesthetics, this unique arrangement significantly reduces the length and weight of the Falcon 9’s thrust structure, streamlining the rocket’s design and assembly process.
The Falcon 9’s force is harnessed by SpaceX’s in-house-built Merlin engine. In the first stage, nine Merlins cluster together, while the second stage boasts a single modified engine for space vacuum firing. These highly efficient engines use Rocket Propellant 1 (RP-1) and Liquid Oxygen (LOX), with the first stage engines burning for 162 seconds and the second stage engine burning for 397 seconds in a typical launch. The powerful and efficient Merlin engine configuration in the first stage provides inherent safety. While other rockets may fail if an engine malfunctions during launch, the Falcon 9’s design allows for two of the nine Merlin engines to fail without impacting the mission. The remaining engines can compensate by burning longer, ensuring a successful launch and safeguarding the payload’s journey to orbit. Another essential component of the Falcon 9 rocket, the interstage plays a vital role in connecting the first and second stages. It also serves as a protective housing for the engine of the second stage during initial launch phases. After the initial launch, the interstage separates the two stages, enabling the safe firing of the second stage. This is called the “moment of staging”. Unlike traditional pyrotechnic systems that employ explosive bolts for stage separation, the Falcon 9 simplifies the process with an all-pneumatic stage separation system. It uses compressed gas to push the stages apart, which allows the system to be tested on the ground before launch unlike most pyrotechnic systems. ( Sorce-Twitter) .
Most of the rocket’s parts are built across the U.S., notably in the company’s factory in Hawthorne, California. However, the rockets are assembled and launched in Florida. This means the components, including fuselages and engines, need to travel around the US by truck to various test stands before eventually ending up at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Once in Florida, the pieces are mated in SpaceX’s custom-build Horizontal Integration Facility, a large hangar within sight of launchpad 39A.
The most exciting moment of a Falcon 9 launch lies in its landing, specifically the first stage onto a floating barge. Equipped with four compact carbon-fiber landing legs stowed against the fuselage, the first stage initiates its descent after staging. With the help of cold gas thrusters, it flips upright, and the engine fires briefly to slow its fall. Upon nearing the target, the landing legs deploy, and in the final phases, three of the nine Merlin engines execute the ‘boostback burn,’ allowing the stage to gently touch down almost like hovering. This entirely automated landing sequence is guided by real-time data, showcasing the remarkable precision of SpaceX’s technology.
Following its successful landing, the Falcon 9’s first stage is returned to the Horizontal Integration Facility for thorough inspection, refurbishment, and preparation for subsequent launches. Reusing the stage proves significantly more cost-effective than constructing a new one for every mission.
Since its debut in June 2010, the Falcon 9 family has achieved an impressive track record, with a total of 246 launches to date. Among these missions, an overwhelming 244 have been successful, cementing the Falcon 9’s reputation as a highly reliable and capable rocket for various payloads and space missions.
June 4: 2010: 1st Flight of Falcon 9 v1.0 & 1st Flight of Dragon 1 This first launch of a Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered a mockup of the Dragon capsule into Earth orbit.
December 8, 2010: Dragon C1/COTS Demo Flight 1 Falcon 9 successfully launches the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, becoming the first privately-built spacecraft to return safely to Earth.
May 22, 2012: Dragon C3/COTS Demo Flight 2 Dragon’s second test flight demonstrates its capabilities for cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon capsule became the first private spacecraft to dock at the I.S.S.
October 7, 2012: First Commercial Satellite Launch Falcon 9 launches the first commercial communication satellite, SES-8, into geostationary transfer orbit.
March 1, 2013: Dragon CRS-2 Falcon 9 conducts its first Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the ISS, beginning regular cargo deliveries to the space station.
December 3, 2013: SES-8 Geostationary Transfer Orbit Mission Falcon 9 successfully delivers the SES-8 satellite to geostationary transfer orbit, demonstrating its capability to serve the commercial satellite market.
December 21, 2015: First Successful Rocket Landing Falcon 9 makes history by landing its first stage vertically on solid ground after deploying 11 ORBCOMM satellites into orbit.
March 30, 2017: Reusability Achievement – SES-10 For the first time, Falcon 9’s first stage is successfully reused for the SES-10 mission, reducing costs and paving the way for future reusability.
May 30, 2020: Crew Dragon’s First Crewed Mission Falcon 9 launches NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS, marking the first crewed mission by a commercial spacecraft. (spacex).
Now Falcon 9 is placing starlink satellite to the lower earth orbit for providing high-speed, low-latency broadband internet across the globe, which is really amazing and Elon musk is rocking !! Thanks to falcon 9 for whom everthing is possible.