Images Credit & Copyright: SpaceX of the launch of CASSIOPE on the 1st Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from Vandenberg.
LAUNCH ALERT: Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 18:42 UTC 10:42 PST & 13:42 EST, a SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket will be launching from SpaceX’s, Space Launch Complex 4-East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California. The mission will launch the Jason 3 ocean altimetry satellite which will measure ocean surface topography for NOAA, EUMSAT, CNES & NASA.
This will be the Falcon 9’s 21st flight “F9-21” and the Falcon 9 v1.1, 15th and final flight (If successful it will be the 14th success of the v1.1). It’s appropriate I suppose; that the final v1.1 launch will fly from Vandenberg as it was the site of the 1st v1.1 launch back on September 29, 2013. This will be SpaceX’s 2nd launch from Vandenberg.
Due to pending approvals, the Landing Zone at Vandenberg is not ready so this will not be a Return to Launch Site (RTLS) mission. Instead, the 1st stage booster will attempt to land on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) stationed in the Pacific. SpaceX has stated that this will still be necessary for high velocity launches where returning to land isn’t possible.
NOW FOR THE ROCKET: The Falcon 9R v1.1 rocket is a 2-stage partially reusable rocket with future ambitions of becoming fully reusable. The new version is 3.7 meters (12ft) in diameter and 68.4 meters (224.4 ft.) tall which is much taller than the Falcon 9 v1.0 or “Block 1” in order to house a longer fuel tank. It is also fitted with upgraded and reconfigured Merlin family main engines replacing the 9 Merlin-1C with the more powerful Merlin-1D engines that will provide a thrust of nearly 600,200kg (1.5 million lb.) at sea level which equates to a significant payload capacity increase. Each Merlin-1D provides 147,000 lb. of thrust at sea level or about 55% more thrust than the original 1C engines. The new merlin 1-D engines are also in a circular “octaweb” configuration and are equipped with the capability to throttle between 70% and 100%. All in all the Falcon 9 v1.1 is able to loft 13,150kg (28,990lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO); 4,850kg (10,690lb) into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) or 2.9 tons to escape velocity.
DRAGON SPACECRAFT = The Dragon spacecraft is about 23.6 ft. (7.2 m) tall with trunk attached and 12 ft. (3.7 m) wide. It’s comprised of two main sections; the pressurized cargo area which can carry 388 cubic ft. of cargo as well as the unpressurized cargo area. The trunk (unpressurized area) carries 494 cubic ft. of cargo as well as the solar arrays.
MAIN COMPOSITE PAYLOAD FAIRING = the composite payload fairing is 13.1 meters (43ft) in length and 5.2 meter (17ft) in diameter.
SECOND STAGE = is powered by a single Merlin-1D Vacuum engine with aluminum-lithium alloy tanks fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (LOX/RP-1). This stage can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into desired orbits. For maximum reliability, the second stage has redundant igniter systems and has a burn time of 375 seconds.
INTERSTAGE = a composite structure that connects the first stage to the second stage and holds the release and separation system. Its al all pneumatic stage separation system for low shock, highly reliable separation that can be tested on the ground, unlike pyrotechnic systems used on most launch vehicles.
FIRST CORE/BOOST STAGE = is powered by nine (9) Merlin-1D engines in their circular “octaweb” configuration with aluminum-lithium alloy tanks fueled by liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (LOX/RP-1). The core stage has a burn time of 180 seconds and is gradually throttled. Its 9 Merlin-1D engine system can sustain up to two engine shutdowns during flight and still successfully complete its mission. The first stage is fitted with four independently steerable grid fins that help control pitch, yaw and roll during vertical decent. It’s also fitted with four landing legs that will extend before touchdown.
WATCH THE LAUNCH LIVE: NASA TV coverage begins at 08:00 PST, 11:00 EST & 16:00 UTC.
SpaceX Webcast: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/
SpaceX Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/SpaceX
NASA TV: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
NASA TV on Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/nasahdtv
NASA Jason-3 mission page: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/media-invited-to-view-launch-of-new-ocean-monitoring-satellite
NOAA Jason-3 mission: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3/mission.html
Falcon 9 page: http://www.spacex.com/falcon9
Falcon 9 users guide: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/falcon_9_users_guide_rev_2.0.pdf
Elon Musk Twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk
Elon Musk Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elonmusk
SpaceX Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpaceX
SpaceX Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spacex/
SpaceX Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpaceX
SpaceX YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/spacexchannel
SpaceX Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SpaceX
SpaceX Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacexphotos