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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Americans carried out a revolution in the market of launch services

The success of the company Elon musk SpaceX, which for the first time managed to return to Earth stage of the rocket Falcon-9″ in working order, amazing. Now delivery of cargo into orbit can be cheaper in tens times. Does this mean that the Russian “Proton” and “Unions” will not work?

The successful landing of the first stage of the launch vehicle (LV) “Falcon-9” after this PH had launched a commercial load in the form of 11 satellites of the Orbcomm company, is a prologue to a significant reduction in the cost of launch services. This will improve their accessibility to a greater number of clients and provide a significant competitive advantage over “traditional” fully disposable carriers, in particular the “Proton”, “Angara” and “Soyuz”.

“Once the degree is softly touched the ground, the employees of SpaceX started joyfully chanting “USA, USA!”

The experiments on the return of the first stage of Falcon-9″ were held in 2010, from the moment you enter this PH operation. Originally, SpaceX tried to use parachutes, but the stage could not withstand the Aero – thermodynamic loads during free fall before releasing the brake of the domes, and were damaged by salt water after splashdown. It became clear that in order to achieve complete mnogorazovogo, you need to return them to the starting place, or at least to put on a hard surface.

That is what SpaceX and became engaged in 2013. The first five experiments was to attempt to achieve a soft and precise landing stage with a working engine next to the coast of Florida. They can be called relatively successful, but the slamming was still too strong to stage were able to withstand them without damage. The sixth and seventh planting was already done on a self-propelled barge Zone 1, a specially adapted for these purposes. And again – “almost, but not quite”. First step touched the barge on a tangent, and then exploded, and the second touched pad nearly in the vertical position, but after not resist and fell.

Statistics of successful space launches in different strange eighth attempt, held on 21 Dec 2015, was totally successful (it is noteworthy that this happened after SpaceX suffered a “complete failure” when its carrier along with manned spacecraft “Dragon” exploded two and a half minutes after launch in late June this year). Level “primaries”, and landed at the intended point on Cape Canaveral, where a few minutes earlier launched a Falcon-9″. In order to make a completely successful landing, it had to vertically touch the surface at a speed of 6 meters per second. For comparison, the rate of descent of the parachutist is 5 meters per second. Before landing the pillar at the bottom reveals four petals so that the stage is beginning to resemble the set in the crosspiece a Christmas tree.

Just Falcon-9″ consists of two steps. First, the main character of this story, has a length of 42 meters. It works for several minutes, raising “Falcon” with a payload up to a height of approximately 80 kilometers, and then separated and begins his journey to earth – or as the branch had broken off the tree, or as a managed aircraft.

The second stage is smaller – she is only 15 meters in length. Its task is to intercept the “baton” at the first stage and another six minutes to continue the push into orbit the spacecraft “Dragon”, until it will not rotate around the Earth, sir Isaac Newton, or rather, the discovery of the laws of physics.

What importance is given to the possibility of the first, and in the future and second stage, “Falcon-9” to return to the earth, said the head of SpaceX Elon Musk: “If our media will not be reusable, we’ll assume that we could not do that”.

Why these games?

“The delivery cost of one kilogram of cargo into low earth orbit could drop to $ 1,100, on average, more than 20 times less than the charge for similar work and other disposable media”

Disposable media, including “Falcon-9”, hence the name disposable that require their full utilization during a payload into orbit. This recycling depends largely on simplicity and therefore cheapness of these PH.

For example, if the cost of launch of “Proton” that can deliver into low earth orbit of about 23 tons, is 100-120 million dollars, the space Shuttle brought the same load for the amount of half a billion to a half billion dollars. Just to compare proton and the Shuttle is also incorrect, as polutoratonny truck and long-distance tourist bus, in the Luggage compartment which includes by weight, the same load that in the back of the lorry, but which in addition carries more passengers.

The concept of mnogorazovogo, at least in its “satlava” incarnation, has not justified itself – turned out to be too expensive and insufficiently reliable. However, what SpaceX “Falcon-9”, able to combine the best features of disposable and reusable medium and, consequently, to produce a real revolution in the market of launch services.

It is for the hybrid path and decided to go the founder and head of SpaceX Elon Musk is trying to give a partially reusable quality classic disposable media. It’s not just the experiments possessed the technical innovation of the businessman. There is a direct economic calculation.

The most powerful launch vehicles in history commonutilitieslib launch “Falcon-9” is currently about 60 million dollars, including the cost of 200 thousand dollars for fuel. This, of course, only a carrier. If to speak about the mission to the ISS, which involves the use of “Falcon” in conjunction with the ship “Dragon”, the cost increases to 133 million dollars.

The return stage, according to the newspaper The Washington Post, worth 54 million. Subtract 54 from 60 million and received six million. So much and no more will permanently lose on SpaceX “Falcon-9”, if (or rather when) this degree will learn how “intelligent” to sit down for reuse. Thus, it appears that SpaceX may request from the clients for launching their payloads at the “Falcone” only six million dollars, for the rest of the money spent by the company to the media, will return to her as the first stage.

It can produce a real revolution in the global space market, because, according to the calculations of the Mask, the delivery cost of one kilogram of cargo into low earth orbit could drop to $ 1,100, on average, more than 20 times less than the charge for similar work and other disposable media.

Thus, the “Proton”, “Union”, “Ariana”, “Delta”, “Atlas”, “the Great treks” and so on. could be unemployed if not for one “but”. For all its mnogorazovogo “Falcon-9” will not be able to replace, for example, “proton”, for the capacity of the Russian media on 10 tons more than the offspring of a Mask.

However, if we are not talking about any large spacecraft weighing 20 tons, then the two “Falcon-9” will be able to launch 26 tons for total amount of 12 million dollars, and one proton is only 23 tons per 100-120 million. It turns out, use two “Falcon-9” is immeasurably more favorable than a single proton.

The way “grasshopper”

Elon Musk in this area is not a pioneer. Was the American company Kistler Aerospace, which at the turn of the 2000s, tried for years to create a carrier single-stage fully reusable (the Shuttle, by the way, was only partially reusable, for returning the Shuttle and the solid fuel boosters, and oxygen-hydrogen tank remained in orbit). But the company went bankrupt before he carried out his plans.

Around the same time, the company Lockheed Martin has tried to create a fully reusable VentureStar, but its project had failed. Currently a private American company Sierra Nevada has already begun aerodynamic testing is designed for seven people, a mini-Shuttle called Dream Chaser. The first conclusion that Shuttle into orbit by a rocket “Atlas-5” to be held in 2016. Of course, make this Dream Chaser test flight in automatic, unmanned version.

While it is the company SpaceX, led by Musk has been able to reach the real test “polesello” reusable space systems. To this end, it has built a technology demonstrator representing a smaller prototype of the first stage under the name “Grasshopper”. Indeed, there was something in common in the appearance of the insect and this device standing on the ground on four thin jointed legs.

And what did this prototype, the flight is difficult to call. Rather, it is about jumping. In all he made eight successful jumps, the largest of which reached a height of 744 meters, and lasted 79 seconds. After this “Grasshopper” was retired, and his place was taken by another, more advanced technology demonstrator as close as possible to the technical parameters of the real first stage of Falcon-9″.

He was able to reach a height of 1000 meters, but the fifth launch attempt was to be his last, due to anomalies in flight destruct system eliminated the demonstrator. Sadly, it doesn’t matter. SpaceX is building a third, even more advanced demonstrator that can reach a height of 90 kilometers. And this is to ensure that the return system of the first stage of Falcon-9″ is already tested during real missions that media.

Interestingly, the victory SpaceX introduced a new element of competition between private space companies in the United States. If they had fought mainly for government contracts, now began to compete among themselves. As you know, on the way of creation returned to the stage company SpaceX unexpectedly bypassed by a rival firm Blue Origin, whose launch vehicle New Shepard in November 2015, after the withdrawal of an unmanned spacecraft on a suborbital trajectory, was unable to do a controlled landing near the launch site. Elon Musk in their response to this event has made it clear that he did not intend to give the palm company Blue Origin in the creation of the carrier rockets reusable, which was demonstrated two days ago.

Money? Not only.

When Musk popular explains why he spends so much effort and funds to develop the system returns the first steps on the Earth, he usually answers with this example: “Imagine that each “Boeing 747″ would be thrown away after your flight, say, London. You see the point? One of his passengers could afford the ticket worth a million dollars? If there were those cranks, they will never be able to do passenger aircraft mass. Same with space launches. While the missiles will not be reusable as airplanes, they will never be available to the mass client.”

But it’s not just about the money. Dreams and plans Mask extend far beyond low earth orbit. His goal is Mars, and in a broader sense, the colonization of the Solar system. Mars has almost no atmosphere, he recalls, and so until people learn to put the heavy spacecraft and ships on the planet’s surface with the help of engines, on large-scale exploration of Mars will have to forget.

No wonder, congratulating the Mask with the successful landing of the first stage of Falcon-9, Executive Director of the American public organization Explore Mars, the purpose of which is to accelerate preparations to colonize the red planet, said: “the Outstanding achievement of the SpaceX team points the way to a radical reduction in the cost of launch services. Reduced price of space launches will make manned space exploration, including missions to Mars, much more affordable. The importance of this achievement for the future of Mars exploration is difficult to overestimate”.

There is another, no less important, achievement of SpaceX, which is difficult to overestimate. According to the Washington Post, after stage gently touched the ground, the employees of SpaceX started joyfully chanting “USA, USA!” Notice, they did not extol the Mask and not SpaceX, but the country, which created opportunities for the development of the national space science and technology. A good example and a lesson of how no spells about the need to love the Motherland to support the citizens patriotism.

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