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The next launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy may see a record core landing in the center.

Thanks to the temporary opening of the US federal government, SpaceX was finally able to continue the process of submitting documents to the FCC and FAA required to obtain permits for upcoming launches, including Falcon Heavy.

One such feed, related to the first operational launch of the Falcon Heavy, showed quite impressive statistics: SpaceX, consisting of three first-stage accelerators, indicated that the central core of the Falcon Heavy would attempt to land on the drone ship. Of course, I still love you (OCISLY) almost 1000 km (600 miles) from its launch pad, easily breaking the record for the longest distance traveled by the Falcon booster in flight.

In the same documents, the FCC also indicated the launch date “Not earlier than (NET)”: March 7, 2019. Initially scheduled for mid-to-late February, the complexity and logistical challenges associated with assembling, shipping, testing and delivering two side accelerators, a central core one upper stage and a payload fairing from the SpaceX California plant to its test sites in Texas and the launch site in Florida which, unsurprisingly, slightly affected the desired launch schedule. However, if the launch data really persists until March 7, SpaceX will not miss the mark, considering that this Falcon Heavy – based on the new and more powerful Block 5 accelerators – is likely to be a significant departure from the Block 2 / Block 3 equipment flight legacy from the debut of the launch of the triple-accelerator rocket in February 2018.

The second (and third) flight of the Falcon Heavy is even closer to reality, as the new lateral accelerator is heading for Florida after the completion of static fire tests in Texas. (Reddit / u / e32revelry)

After just a year after the debut of Falcon Heavy, it seems that the second and third rocket launches were pushed aside by a fundamental lack of production capacity. In other words, the SpaceX rocket plant at Hawthorne simply had to focus on the more important priorities for the 6-9 months that followed the demonstration mission. Almost at the same time that Falcon Heavy was launched for the first time, SpaceX’s world-class manufacturing team was in the process of manufacturing the first upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 accelerator (B1046) and completed the final checks only 10 days after February Heavy. .6 Launching a debut, sending a reconnaissance launch vehicle to Macgregor, Texas, for the first static fire of a launch vehicle launch 5.

At the same time, the SpaceX solution intentionally spend otherwise, the recovered re-used Falcon boosters after their second launches meant that the company’s fleet was approaching zero, and Elon Musk, the company's general director, specifically stated that this should make room for block 5, the future (and final form) of the Falcon family . Thus, the loaded SpaceX launch manifest in 2018 and the numerous critical tasks for the US government were thus balanced by the success, reliability and fast production of a serious number of Merlin engines, boosters and upper stages. This included the B1051, the first clearly intended for the crew of the Falcon 9 – and B1054, the first SpaceX rocket designed for launching valuable US military (especially Air Force) satellites. However, SpaceX also needed to create a set of Falcon 9 boosters that can be easily reused to support a dozen other commercial launches in the manifest.

This game ultimately paid off, as Block 5 showed excellent performance and maintained a reasonable, if not a record, re-use rate. SpaceX successfully launched the B1054 for the US Air Force, completed the B1051 (currently at site 39A, pending NASA approval) and built enough Block 5 reusable boosters to support nine additional commercial missions in 2018. Looking back, excluding the assumption of a truly miraculous and unprecedented production rate of the Falcon launch vehicle, the following launches of the Falcon Heavy will almost certainly occur no earlier than 6-12 months after the launch of the rocket – the entire SpaceX launch business depended on creating more than 5 unrelated Falcon 9 accelerators while Falcon Heavy, Arabsat, and USAF customers were unlikely to be forced to run on-the-fly hardware so early in the 5th block career.

All firing cylinders

After Falcon 9 B1054 left the SpaceX plant in Hawthorne (see Above) in early October, it seems that the company's production team is directly configured to integrate and ship the next three (or more) Falcon Heavy accelerators to ensure the second and third rocket launches . The first new side accelerator left the factory in mid-November, followed by a second side amplifier in early December and (presumably, but very likely) the central core at the turn of 2019. Both side accelerators were launched in Texas and work statically. now at SpaceX plants in Florida, while the central core has either just completed a static fire test in Texas, or is already in the east.

As soon as the central core and upper stage reach the SpaceX Pad 39A Kennedy Space Center, the company's technicians and engineers will be able to integrate the second Falcon Heavy that has ever existed to prepare for the critical static fire test. This may happen as early as February, although the debut launch of Crew Dragon (DM-1) – now NET March with the Pad 39A after a continuous series of misses – is likely to take precedence over the Falcon Heavy and, thus, can directly interfere with its launch, as the starting one the platform and the conveyor / installer (T / E) must pass at least several days of modifications to switch between Falcon 9 and Heavy.

Despite this, the next two launches of Falcon Heavy will be worth the wait. SpaceX's FCC claims indicate that the central core can travel nearly 1000 km (600 miles) east of site 39A to land on the OCISLY unmanned vehicle after launch, breaking the previous record attempt – during the launch of Eutelsat 117WB in June 2016 – ~ 700 km (430 miles). That Falcon 9 booster – albeit a less powerful version of Block 2 – was unsuccessful in its landing attempt due to lack of oxidizer seconds before landing. The central part of the Falcon Heavy debut center also suffered from a completely different, but no less fatal anomaly during landing, as a result of which he missed the drone ship and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean at a speed of almost half the speed (300 mph / 480 km / h) .

Known for his rocket performance ratings, user of the NASASpaceflight Orbiter Forum first pointed to an impressive distance — collected by comparing the coordinates included in the SpaceX FCC document of January 28 — and suggested that the Falcon Heavy center accelerator flying along the trajectory is supposed to can travel at a speed of ~ 3.5 km / s (2.2 mph) when the main engine is disconnected (MECO), the point at which the amplifier is separated from the upper stage and the fairing. This will be almost unprecedented speed for any Falcon accelerator, not to mention an accelerator with landing plans after launch. The Falcon 9 MECO is usually found at speeds from 1.5 to 2.5 km / s for recoverable missions, while even the recent launch launch of GPS III saw that the F9 S1 engines shut down about 2.7 km / s.

Regardless of whether the MECO's speed estimate is correct, launching the Falcon Heavy in March on the Arabsat 6A satellite weighing ~ 6000 kg (13,300 pounds) is likely to be an exceptionally hot entrance and recovery for the central core, while the rocket duet with side accelerators will attempt a repetition of the impressive double landing debut mission on the LZ-1.

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