I have recently written an article on the Falcon 9 rocket made by SpaceX. It is a pretty remarkable piece of technology that SpaceX hopes will be reusable within the next five years. NASA recently awarded SpaceX a contract to bring Astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), so SpaceX seems to be a company on its way.
Here is a link to the SpaceX article , please check it out if you're interested.
Here is an excerpt from it:
The v1.0 used nine Merlin 1C Engines arranged in a 3x3 grid and fueled by a liquid oxygen/rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant. The launch vehicle body was constructed from a lightweight aluminum lithium alloy assembled using all-friction stir welding. This technique helped avoid problems associated with cooling from the liquid phase such as porosity, solute redistribution, solidification cracking and liquation cracking. The v1.0 featured triple-redundant voting flight computers and inertial navigation with GPS overlay for additional orbital insertion accuracy.
The current Falcon 9, known as the Falcon 9 v1.1, introduced several improvements. It is heavier at 1,115,200 pounds and taller at 224 feet, though it still measures 12 feet in diameter. The extra height and weight are due to the additional fuel required by its nine improved Merlin 1D engines that are arranged in what SpaceX calls an Octaweb configuration. In this configuration, eight of the nine engines are arranged in a circle with the ninth located in the center of the circle. SpaceX claims this configuration is more reliable, having been the preferred arrangement for NASA's Saturn I and Saturn V rockets. SpaceX claims that two of the nine engines can fail in this arrangement without endangering the overall mission.
The more powerful engines result in higher specific impulse at sea level (282 seconds) with increased payloads of 28,990 pounds to LEO and 10,690 pounds to GTO. Just like the earlier v1.0, the v1.1 is a two-stage launch vehicle. The stage separation system was redesigned for v1.1 with the number of attachment points reduced from 12 to 3. The separation system uses pneumatics instead of traditional pyrotechnics for low-shock, high reliability separation that can be tested on the ground.
Last edited by Kelly_Bramble; 09-29-2014 at 09:02 AM.