SpaceX signs 1st customer for big new rocket

May 29, 2012

(AP) — Space Exploration Technologies says it has signed its first commercial contract for a new rocket that will be more powerful than the one that launched the company's Dragon capsule to the International Space Station last week.

The Hawthorne, California company known as SpaceX said Tuesday it will loft a satellite for the communications services company Intelsat, using a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.

Such launches cost $83 million to $128 million, depending on weight.

SpaceX says its Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful in the world and, historically, second only to the Saturn V rockets that launched the Apollo missions to the moon.

Last week, SpaceX launched a cargo-carrying capsule atop its 9 rocket as a test run for NASA. The capsule successfully docked with the station.

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JRDarby
1 / 5 (1) May 29, 2012
Why are they creating the (second) most powerful rocket in the world to merely launch a satellite into orbit? The article doesn't mention that it's being launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base also.
Parsec
5 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
Why are they creating the (second) most powerful rocket in the world to merely launch a satellite into orbit? The article doesn't mention that it's being launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base also.


I suspect that the satellite is quite heavy.
Temple
5 / 5 (4) May 30, 2012
@JRDarby. Not all orbits are created equal.

Communication satellites are generally in geostationary orbits, which are way higher up than the ISS. It takes considerably more delta-v to put a comsat in geostationary orbit. And the exponential rule of rocketry says that the rocket will need to be enormously bigger to accommodate the extra fuel required.

If you're insinuating any military purposes, the military already has private launch vehicles which more than adequately launch their satellites. Further, most military satellites would be relatively useless in a geostationary orbit. Instead they are in lower (usually polar) orbits, so that they orbit above just about any point on earth with fair regularity.
Mike_Massen
2.2 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
Potentially a couple of reasons:-

i. Its possibly a heavy (and large) satellite and/or higher orbit.

ii.If its not that heavy but marginal for a Falcon_9 then it makes
sense to go the extra step and accelerate the development of
the Falcon_Heavy.

iii. If the impetus for both above is false then SpaceX may be
looking at further markets, using a Falcon_Heavy to coincide with
the availability of the satellite and ploughing some of the
company's expected 4 Billion in revenue to move the
development forward to eventually launch crew capsules to
the ISS and widen their range of services to higher orbits etc...
Husky
5 / 5 (1) May 30, 2012
Bigelow must be pleased his heavy modules can be lifted soon
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) May 30, 2012
Why are they creating the (second) most powerful rocket in the world

Potentially a couple of reasons:-


I know one more reason. The Falcon engines are actually a very modern and efficient design. They give improved power for a given amount of fuel burned, versus older designes. That leads to dollars saved. The exponential cost per pound increase also works in the opposite direction in regard to power from your engine. More power per unit of fuel expended means less fuel needed, and fuel is heavy.

So, based on their target payload capacity, in combination with the efficiency of the rocket motors, the math just happens to add up to a rocket with more power than any existing rocket, but less than a Saturn 5. It's not like they decided to build one more powerful than needed. it's a financial/engineering equation. That's all.
JRDarby
3 / 5 (1) May 30, 2012
Makes sense. Thanks all.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 30, 2012
Why are they creating the (second) most powerful rocket in the world to merely launch a satellite into orbit? The article doesn't mention that it's being launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base also.
They have set their sights beyond earth orbit.
http://www.sen.co...ion.html
http://www.msnbc....-launch/