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SpaceX encases NASA's Dart spacecraft in first Falcon 9 interplanetary launch

SpaceX encases NASA’s Dart spacecraft in first Falcon 9 interplanetary launch

NASA says SpaceX has finished packaging the asteroid-redirecting DART spacecraft inside Falcon 9, and has opened the launch pad hangar on the West Coast to give VIPs and mission team members a tour of their rocket.

At 70 meters (230 ft) tall, 550 metric tons (1.2 million lb) fully fueled, and capable of producing more than 775 tons (1.71 million lb) of thrust on takeoff, the Falcon 9 remains on track for a re-routing test launch. NASA’s Double Asteroids mission number before 10:21 p.m. PST on Wednesday, November 23 (6:21 a.m. UTC on November 24). While there are many conflicting reports about the spacecraft’s launch mass, it likely weighed between 600 and 650 kg (1,300-1,450 lb) – a tiny 0.1% of the rocket’s total mass at liftoff. In simpler terms, launching the Falcon 9 DART is a bit like a semi-truck pulling a single piece of wood.

However, just like this semi-truck scenario, it may not be the most efficient choice of vehicle, but sometimes a single missile like the Falcon 9 can make a lot of sense.

Notably, although amplified by at least 2 to 3, a DART launch for the Falcon 9 would ultimately cost NASA about $73 million, or about a quarter of the mission’s total cost of about $250 million. Nominally aimed at interplanetary space, there are no small launchers (such as Firefly Alpha, Relativity Terran-1, Virgin Orbit LauncherOne, ABL Space RS-1, etc.) The interplanetary path will send a Falcon 9 DART. if there was she wasIn theory, it could cost NASA just about $20 million to launch DART, but it would also take years for one of the new small and medium-sized rockets that it will launch. succumb to You have enough performance to establish a history of reliability, which means that NASA will have to accept significant risks for this potential opponent.

It’s worth noting that based on several executive comments indicating that a proven Falcon 9 would cost about $15-25 million to launch, it’s almost certain that SpaceX costs NASA half that to launch DART with break-even, which is its routine. Reuse makes the potential economic benefits of small rockets even more murky. Additionally, although an additional $30-50 million could be saved, NASA still saved at least $80-100 million by launching a $73 million Falcon 9 rocket instead of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket. Cheaper Atlas V Displays, for which NASA has paid about $150 million to $175 million in recent years.

While SpaceX technically launched two equally small NASA payloads into very high orbits at roughly 300,000 and 900,000 kilometers (150,000 to 600,000 miles) from Earth in 2015 and 2018, along with CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster on its escape route from Earth with a heavy Falcon, JPL data Recently confirmed that DART will be the first true interplanetary launch of the Falcon 9. After reaching a natural low Earth orbit, the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 will eventually spur the tiny spacecraft free of Earth’s gravity, sending it into a heliocentric orbit that will transit in The end of the binary asteroid system Didymos-Demorphos.

Starting in September 2022, DART will hit the lunar asteroid Dimorphos while traveling 6.6 kilometers per second (4.1 mps) with the goal of moving its orbit around the larger asteroid Didymos. In fact, NASA uses the asteroid system like an isolated sandbox (hopefully) to amplify the impacts. If successful, DART will demonstrate that kinetic collisions provide a viable way to alter the course of asteroids and comets, potentially paving the way for a truly planetary defense program.

SpaceX encases NASA’s Dart spacecraft in first Falcon 9 interplanetary launch

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