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SpaceX closes in on Falcon 9 reliability milestone after flawless Monday launch [photos]


SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket has finished its thirteenth launch of 2019, leaving the vehicle one mission from a reliability landmark.

In 7:10 pm ET, December 16th (00:10 UTC, Dec 17), Falcon 9 booster B1056, a new upper stage, along with the almost 7-metric ton (15,500 pounds ) Kacific-1/JCSAT-18 communications satellite lifted off from SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral LC-40 launch pad. As has become the norm, Falcon 9 spanned through preparations integration, and launch and lifted off at the precise start of a window.

Around nine minutes after launch and 30 seconds after the next stage reached orbit, Falcon 9 B1056 successfully landed aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), finishing the booster’s third launch and landing seven weeks. 27 minutes after launch, Falcon 9’s next stage reignited and burned for over 50 seconds, raising one end of its orbit with over 20,000 km (12,500 mi). Five minutes after, Falcon 9 officially finished its assignment by gently releasing Kacific-1/JCSAT-18 from the next stage, in which the satellite shortly reoriented itself, deployed ~40-meter (~125 ft) extended atomic ‘wings’, also started verifying its systems’ health.

In what can only be described as an event of astronomical likelihood, a firefly photobombed Richard Angle’s Kacific-1 extended vulnerability, absolutely crossing the streak of Falcon 9 booster B1056’therefore reentry burn several hundred kilometers downrange. (Richard Angle)

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Besides another powerful and issue-free launch under the Falcon household ’s belt, the more Kacific-1 assignment is important for another significant reason: it’s Falcon 9’s launch since January 2017. Falcon 9’s final collapse happened on September 1st, 2016 when the rocket’s upper stage violently exploded, destroying the remainder of the aircraft and its own Amos-6 satellite payload.

SpaceX took to determine the root cause of the failure and alter hardware and processes before returning to flight using the Iridium NEXT launch on January 14th, 2017. In the three years (35 months) since then, Falcon 9 has launched a total of 49 times in a row with no partial collapse. After one additional launch victory, Falcon 9 will have flown 50 missions, a representational but nonetheless exceptional sign of the rocket’s . That 50th launch attempt could come as early as December 30th at the form of SpaceX’s third 60-satellite Starlink assignment, known as Starlink-2.

Falcon 9 B1056’s third successful launch and landing also attracted the launch vehicle loved only one mission away from a significant reliability landmark. (Richard Angle)

Technically speaking, if Falcon Heavy is included, SpaceX has completed 52 consecutively-successful orbital launches without a single failure (or partial collapse ), the only firm or space service in the world that could currently claim that feat. Although both Arianespace and ULA are infamous for whitewashing the tight failures of the launch vehicles, Ariane 5 suffered a partial collapse in January 2018, whilst ULA’s Atlas V and Delta IV suffered their own failures respectively. Atlas V experienced the following in-flight anomaly in 2016, though it was not technically categorized as a partial collapse.

This means that Ariane 5, Delta IV, and Atlas V – still some of the most reliable launch vehicles ever built – have technically only completed 9, 36, also 70 (or even 18) consecutively-successful slips since their latest partial collapse (or in-flight anomaly). In other words, if measured in terms of launch successes that are consecutive, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the most dependable or the second launch vehicle currently in functionality.

Falcon 9 B1056 stands vertical for the third time in seven weeks at SpaceX’s LC-40 start pad. (Richard Angle)

Maybe even more impressive is that SpaceX has pulled off that feat of visibility in less than three decades, reluctantly creating Falcon 9 that the ideal all-purpose launch car in the world in terms of its joint endurance and flight frequency – the latter thanks in big part to the rocket’s competitive pricing.

As of this moment, SpaceX has three-dozen launches or at least two planned for 2020 and when all of those launches are completed, Falcon 9 will come to be the world’s dependable operational launch car by almost any measure.

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The article SpaceX closes on Falcon 9 reliability landmark after perfect Monday launch [photos] appeared initially on TESLARATI.

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