Tuesday, January 29, 2008

SpaceX Engine Firings Give New Hope

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(Hat Tip: Commercial Space Watch, Video Below)

While most NewSpace companies either dreaming of reaching the stars (or seeking government backing before they can visit the stars), SpaceX is slowly, but surely laying down the foundation for when they will send rockets past Earthen skies.

Even though they still have quite a distance to go before they launch humans into space, SpaceX's test multiple engine firings are giving hope that the commercial sector can pick up where the public left off.

(SpaceX Press Release) The engines operated at full power, generating over 180,000 pounds of force, equivalent to a Boeing 777 at full power, and consuming 700 lbs per second of fuel and liquid oxygen during the run.

"This is a major hardware milestone for our company," said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. "It marks the first time that we have simultaneously fired two engines on the same stage. No significant problems were encountered transitioning from single engine testing in November, which suggests that we will be able to ramp up rapidly to a full complement of nine Merlin engines. Our propulsion and test team has done a remarkable job." [...]

SpaceX has designed its Merlin engine for rapid mounting and change-out. A new engine can be installed in a period of hours, a feature that will provide significant operational efficiency and responsiveness on the launch pad.

With the recent successful firings of their Merlin engines, SpaceX is not only on track to fulfill their launch schedule, but they may also help fill in for NASA after the agency retires its shuttle fleet.

SpaceX hopes to eventually bring down the prices of launching rockets into space, which may help make the industry competitive on an international scale. If successful, Elon Musk's space "rebel" company may help spur innovation once again, which could ultimately lead towards cheap reliable access to space (aka CRATS).

Exit Question: If SpaceX continues to build upon its previous success, will its future stock make it worth more than Google?

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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