SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust

During January, 2015, Martin Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, revealed that SpaceX was introducing a higher-thrust modification of its Merlin 1D engine, with about 20% more thrust, and that SES was deciding whether or not to be the first to fly with the new engine. The company was thinking about skipping its then-planned Spring 2015 launch slot to allow someone else to fly the “full-thrust” engine first.

That is how the world learned about plans for an upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1.

Elon Musk made it official on March 1, 2015, when he stated that Falcon 9 upgrades were planned that would allow for first stage landings during geosynchronous transfer missions. The upgrades would include a 15% increase in thrust, the use of “deep cryogenic”, or “densified”, liquid oxygen, and a 10% second stage tank volume increase.


Mr. Musk did not name the upgraded rocket at that time, so industry observers began identifying it as “Falcon 9 v1.2”.

On March 9, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported that SES had decided, after all, to be the first “full thrust” Falcon 9 customer. SES 9, a communications satellite, would launched to geosynchronous transfer orbit by the new rocket during the second or third quarter of 2015. SES CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh announced the decision.

On March 17, 2015, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell offered more details about the upgraded rocket. She said that the company had gone back to certify extra performance from Merlin 1D. She said “I don’t know what we’re going to call it. Enhanced Falcon 9, Falcon 9 v1.2, Full-Performance Falcon 9” – indicating that the company still had not decided on a name.

She said that the upgraded rocket would provide “about a 30% increase in performance, maybe a little more”, while also allowing the first stage to be landed on a downrange ship platform during GTO missions.  The payload mass cutoff point for first stage return was not announced.  Without first stage return the new rocket may be able to boost more than 6 tonnes to GTO.

Shotwell also said that the upgraded Falcon 9 first stage would essentially be used as a side booster for Falcon Heavy, while the Falcon Heavy core would be a different design.

The announced upgrade meant that Falcon 9 would now lift off on 694 tonnes of sea level thrust rather than the previous 600 tonnes. Second stage Merlin 1D Vacuum thrust would increase to at least 95 tonnes force. The second stage engine would also use a longer nozzle to improve specific impulse, requiring a stretch of the interstage.

Illustration of Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust on Rebuilt LC 39A at Kennedy Space Center

During the summer of 2015, SpaceX continued to send mixed signals about the upgraded rocket’s name. One presentation by SpaceX during the summer of 2015 identified it as “Falcon 9 Upgrade”.  During September, however, the company began calling it “Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust”.

A test program involving “full thrust” Merlin engines was completed at McGregor, Texas during the summer. Meanwhile, the first “Full Thrust” first stage – serial production number 21 – departed the SpaceX Hawthorne, California factory at the end of August and arrived at McGregor a few days later.

Also read: SpaceX Falcon 9 – Space Launch Report

On September 8, 2015, the stage was erected at the new “Falcon Heavy” test stand, the first stage to installed there. The stand is equipped with a below-grade flame trench. This stand, which should reduce noise imposed on neighboring communities during hot fire tests, had been completed in 2013.  It is also expected to be used for Falcon Heavy hot fire testing.

On September 21, the stage performed a 15 second test firing. A full duration test was expected in October.

As the stage entered testing, two launch sites were being prepared to handle both it and Falcon Heavy.  Space Launch Complex (SLC) 3 East at Vandenberg AFB underwent modifications that included changes to its erector transporter and the construction of a propellant densification plant.  Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center was being totally rebuilt for Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust, with a new horizontal processing hangar built on the former crawlerway at the base of the pad and a new pair of railroad tracks leading up to the launch pad itself.

 Vehicle Configurations

 LEO
Payload
(metric tons)
185 km x
(1) 28.5 deg (CC)
(2) 98 deg (VA)
(3) 9.1 deg (KW)
(4) 51.6 deg (CC)
Geosynchronous
Transfer Orbit
Payload
(metric tons)
185×35,788 km
x 27 deg
~1,800 m/s
from GEO
Escape
Velocty
Payload
(5)LEO+3,150 m/s
(6)LEO+3,750 m/s
ConfigurationLiftoff
Height
(meters)
Liftoff
Mass
(metric tons)

Price (2005)
$Millions
Falcon 9 Block 1 (Merlin 1C)
2010
9.0 t (1)
8.5 t (4)
3.4 t2 t (5)2 Stage Falcon 9 (Merlin 1C)
+ 3.6 m or 5.2 m PLF
53 m318 t$35-55 m (2007)
Falcon 9 v1.1 (Merlin 1D)
2013
13.15 t (1)4.85 t2.9 t (est)(5)2 Stage Falcon 9 v1.1 (Merlin 1D)
+ 3.6 m or 5.2 m PLF
69.2 m505.8 t (max)$54-59.5 m (2013)
Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust
>2015
~17.4 t (1)~6.4 t~3.8 t (est)(5)2 Stage Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust
+ 3.6 m or 5.2 m PLF
~69.7 m?xxx t$xx m
Falcon Heavy
>2016?
53 t21.2 t13.2 t (6)3 Falcon 9xMerlin 1D cores
+ 1xMerlinVac Upper Stage + PLF
69.2 m1,462 t$80-124 m (2013)

Vehicle Components

Falcon 9
Stage 1 –
Block 1
Merlin 1C
Version

Estimated
Falcon 9
Stage 2
 –
Block 1
Merlin 1C
Version
Estimated
Falcon 9
Stage 1 –
“v1.1”
Merlin 1D
Version

Estimated
Falcon 9
Stage 2
 –
“v1.1”
Merlin 1D
Version
Estimated
Falcon 9
Stage 1 –
“v1.1”
Merlin 1D Full Thrust
Version

Estimated
Falcon 9
Stage 2
 –
“v1.1”
Merlin 1D Full Thrust
Version
Estimated
Diameter (m)3.66 m3.66 m3.66 m3.66 m3.66 m3.66 m
Length (m)~29 m (est)
not incl I/S
~10.1 m
incl I/S
~42.6 m (est)
not incl I/S
~12.6 m
incl I/S
~42.6 m (est)
not incl I/S
~13 m
incl I/S
Empty Mass (tonnes)~19.24 t?
burnout
~3.1 t?
burnout
 ~19 t?
burnout
~6 t?
burnout
 ~19 t?
burnout
~4-4.5 t?
burnout
Propellant Mass (tonnes)~239.3 t?
used
~48.9 t?
used
~385 t?
used
~93 t?
used
~395 t?
used
~77-88 t?
used
Total Mass (tonnes)~258.5 t?~52 t?~404 t?~99 t?~414 t?~81-92 t?
EngineMerlin 1CMerlin VacMerlin 1DMerlin 1D VacMerlin 1D FTMerlin 1D Vac FT
Engine MfgrSpaceXSpaceXSpaceXSpaceXSpaceXSpaceX
FuelRP1RP1RP1RP1RP1RP1
OxidizerLOXLOXLOXLOXLOXLOX
Thrust
(SL tons)
387.825 t600.109 t
~694 t
Thrust
(Vac tons)
442.938 t42.18 t680.39681.647 t~757 t95.255 t
ISP (SL sec)266 s282 s283 s?
ISP (Vac sec)304 s336 s311 s340s312 s?348 s?
Burn Time (sec)180 s346 s185 s?375 s?162 s397 s
No. Engines919191
Comments
    Falcon 9
Payload
Fairing
Diameter (m)   5.2 m
Length (m)   13.9 m
Empty Mass (tonnes)   ~ 2.0 t?
Falcon 9 v1.1 Flight History 


Date    Vehicle        No.   Payload               Mass  Site  Orbit (kmxkmxdeg)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
09/29/13 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-6  Cassiope/5 Cubesats   0.6   VA 4E 500x1500x80    LEO [8]
12/03/13 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-7  SES 8                 3.183 CC 40 295x80000x20.8 GTO+[9]
01/06/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-8  Thaicom 6             3.016 CC 40 295x90000x22.5 GTO+[A]
04/18/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-9  CRS-3 Dragon         ~9.3   CC 40 313x332x51.6   LEO/ISS[10]
07/14/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-10 Orbcomm OG2 (6sats)   1.032 CC 40 614x743x47     LEO [11]
08/05/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-11 Asiasat 8             4.535 CC 40 185x35786x24.3 GTO
09/07/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-12 Asiasat 6             4.428 CC 40 184x35762x25.3 GTO
09/21/14 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-13 CRS-4 Dragon         ~9.3   CC 40 199x359x51.64  LEO/ISS
01/10/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-14 CRS-5 Dragon         ~9.54  CC 40 206x353x51.6   LEO/ISS[12]
02/11/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-15 DSCOR                 0.57  CC 40 187x1371156x37 EEO [13]
03/02/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-16 Eutelsat 115WB/ABS 3A 4.159 CC 40 400x63300x24.8 GTO+
04/14/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-18 CRS-6 Dragon         ~9.24  CC 40 199x364x51.65  LEO/ISS[14]
04/27/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-17 TurkmenAlem 52E       4.5   CC 40 180x36600x25.5 GTO 
06/28/15 Falcon 9 v1.1 F9-20 Dragon CRS-7         ~9.2   CC 40               [FTO][15]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[8] First Falcon 9 v1.1. First VAFB SLC 4E launch of Falcon 9. 
     1st stage performed two reentry burns (3 and 1 engine), but 2nd 
     burn cutoff early due high roll rates. 2nd stage restart for 
     disposal burn failed. 
[9] First Falcon 9 GTO+ launch.  Targeted 295 x 80,000 km x 20.75 degree 
      supersynchronous transfer orbit.  Stg 1 briefly restarted post sep.
      Fire reported in Stg1 octaweb during ascent.
[A] Lower than planned fuel reserves reported at end of final Stg2 burn.
      Planned orbit achieved.
[10] First Falcon 9 fitted with extending landing legs.  First stage 
      performed two retro burns after separation, lowering itself to a 
      simulated landing in the Atlantic off the Georgia/S. Carolina coast.
[11] 2nd Falcon 9 with legs.  First stage performed two retro burns and 
      landed in Atlantic but exploded during tip over.
[12] 1st stg attempted landing on converted barge about 320 km downrange, 
      but landed hard on barge and was lost.
[13] 187 x 1,371,156 km x 37 degree insertion orbit.  DSCVR bound for Earth-Sun L1.
      Stg 1 barge landing attempt abandoned due high seas. 
[14] First stage landed hard on downrange landing platform and was destroyed.
[15] Broke up at about T+2m 19sec, before staging, due Stg2 LOX tank overpress.
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