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Waspie_Dwarf

Next Falcon 9 to Have Landing Legs [merged]

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Landing legs to fly aboard SpaceX's next Falcon 9 rocket

The next Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to blast off in March on a space station resupply flight, will sport a landing gear to take the next leap in making the commercial launcher reusable, according to SpaceX officials.

Ground crews are attaching a set of landing legs to the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage inside a hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, according to Elon Musk, SpaceX's chief executive.

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On March 16th, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 on CRS-3, an ISS resupply mission. After the second stage is launched, the first stage will sprout legs and then soft land, using the remainder of its fuel, in the ocean as a test of their soft land system as seen on the Grasshopper. If it can land in a controlled way then they will try and land a later mission back on land so the first stage can be reused. The plan is to eventually retriee the second stage in the same way thereby dropping the cost of launching a pound into orbit from $10K to $500 (their estimate).

Article available here: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/178389-spacex-prepares-to-take-the-biggest-step-towards-affordable-space-travel-soft-landing-the-falcon-9-rocket

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"Soft land" is maybe over selling it a bit. It is really a simulated landing, a controlled splash down.

This will be the second attempt at a controlled splash down of a Falcon 9 first stage, the first failed. In the first attempt the rocket stage began to spin.

However, the stage began to roll because of aerodynamic forces during the descent through the atmosphere, and the roll rate exceeded the capabilities of the booster attitude control system (ACS) to null it out. The fuel in the tanks "centrifuged" to the outside of the tank and the single engine involved in the low-altitude deceleration maneuver shut down. SpaceX was able to retrieve some first stage debris from the ocean.

Source: wikipedia

I believe that the role of the legs in this attempt is two fold, firstly and most obviously to test the leg deployment. Secondly the deployment of the legs should reduce the spin rate of the stage as it descends - as the legs will give effectively give the vehicle a larger diameter, conservation of momentum means that the spin rate will reduce.

It is also worth noting that SpaceX themselves expect the chances of success on this flight to be very low. This is a development programme at a very early stage.

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The Grasshopper clip is still fascinating. :tu:

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The Grasshopper clip is still fascinating. :tu:

Search for "Grasshopper" in this section of UM. I have posted videos of most of it's flights here.

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