It has long been known that SpaceX’s Falcon rockets use more than one type of upper stage depending on the needs of a given mission, but only now have we learned some more details. Falcon rockets actually use three different upper stages, which differ in how long they can last in orbit.
SpaceX used to perform a so-called static fire test before every launch of its Falcon 9 rocket. However, since 2020 SpaceX has in some cases not performed this pre-launch test at all. Let’s take a look at the purpose of a static fire, the types of missions where SpaceX skips this test, and try to figure out why. We will also explain why some static fires are performed with the payload attached and others without.
In less than two weeks, the ground-breaking Inspiration4 mission is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit with four crew members, none of whom are professional astronauts. Crew Dragon for this mission is equipped with a glass cupola to give the crew the best possible view during their three-day stay in Earth orbit. What have we learned so far about the largest window to ever be flown to space?
Just one month after the Starship SN9 test flight, its successor SN10 launched. This time, SpaceX got much closer to a complete success. SN10 was the first prototype to land in one piece, although it exploded a few minutes later. Elon Musk later explained why the landing was not successful.
Hans Koenigsmann is responsible for the reliability of rocket launches and safety of flight operations at SpaceX. He was born in Germany and was instrumental in the creation of Elon Musk’s company when he became one of the first employees. He did a little bit of everything at the beginning.
SpaceX reached a new milestone recently when a Falcon 9 booster launched for the sixth time and then landed safely. How many more times can this booster launch? What’s the theoretical limit? And how much does it actually cost SpaceX to refurbish a Falcon 9 booster between launches and what does this process entail?