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This year, SpaceX has made us all believe in reusable rockets



At the beginning of of 2018, Elon Musk predicted that SpaceX would make 30 launches. The goal seemed far-fetched. Some of these flights were planned for the Falcon Heavy, which had not flown at the time. In fact, the company has not reached this number. But the 21 launches, conducted in 2018, are still an amazing feat for the 16-year-old company.

Former development – eight launches in 2016 and 18 in 2017 – has abandoned SpaceX reusable rocket technology The proof-of-concept stage becomes the backbone of a growing fleet of flight-tested rockets. Although the company landed its first rocket in 2015, it took until 2017 before SpaceX could reuse its first booster. Landing became almost routine this year, and the engineers said goodbye to yesterday's moderately reusable Falcons, which ushered in an era of more capable Falcons. They called the block 5 He raised his first payload, a communication satellite for the country Bangladesh. According to SpaceX, the modifications (including upgraded engines, a more durable intermediate stage, titanium louvre blades and a new thermal protection system) allow each block to fly at least 1

0 times before light renovations are required and up to 100 times before retirement. This year, all but 14 of the 14 missiles SpaceX tried to land with were stuck.

After this first flight in May, Musk announced that next year SpaceX will be the same block 5-boosters twice within a 24-hour period. To this end, the company has shown that it could reuse the same booster three times. It also opened a new landing site, which should shorten the processing times after the start.

Another long-standing goal was the premiere of its heavy rocket, the Falcon Heavy. The Falcon Heavy was first flown in 2013 and took its maiden flight on 6th February. After sending a cherry-red Tesla Roadster (complete with Starman pilot) on a voyage on Mars, the three cores of the Falcon Heavy – essentially their own Falcon 9 rockets – returned to Earth. Two of the boosters landed perfectly synchronized on LZ-1 and LZ-2, SpaceX landing areas in Cape Canaveral. The center boosters of the Heavy but missed the targeted landing on a waiting drone ship and crashed into the Atlantic.

That was it for the Falcon Heavy in 2018; The next two flights delayed sometime in the next year. Nevertheless, this test flight paid off for SpaceX. In a surprising move, the Luftwaffe not only certified the Falcon Heavy for military payloads, but also awarded it the first major order: the AFSPC 52 mission. With an order of $ 130 million, SpaceX will relinquish an Air Force spacecraft in space by 2020.

Not every negotiation has found its way. SpaceX missed part of a $ 2 billion government contract to build hardware that could ultimately spur national safety payloads. The money eventually went to three of its competitors, ULA, Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman.

The company also withdrew from some goals. During a press conference for the Falcon Heavy flight, Elon Musk revealed that the company's plans to send passengers around the moon on the Falcon Heavy would be scrapped. So what happened to the people who booked tickets? This answer was revealed months later when Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa was the mysterious billionaire who had reserved both seats on the Falcon Heavy. Now, Maezawa should be the first paying customer for the next generation of SpaceX missiles – the BFR (or Big Falcon Rocket). Billed as an interplanetary transport vehicle from the start, BFR (consisting of two parts, a rocket and a spaceship that can carry hundreds of people into space) may be more suited to this mission than the Falcon Heavy, which is the heavy-lift allows to get more sweet government contracts.

In another turn, Musk revealed that Maezawa would not be alone; He would take half a dozen artists on an epic journey around the moon. Although the rocket and the spaceship are still years away from the flight, Musk estimated that the journey around the Moon could take place as early as 2023.

However, his first crew flights are expected in 2019. To date, every SpaceX Dragon capsule has only brought cargo to and from the International Space Station. This is expected to change next year when NASA's commercial crew program launches its astronauts, the first to take off from US soil since 2011. The first Crew Dragon spaceship was originally scheduled to start in November as part of an unrestrained flight test, but is delayed (largely due to ISS traffic) driving the flight on 17 January. If everything goes according to plan, two astronauts will fly to the station for a two-week stay in the first half of the year. [19659003] Next year SpaceX may also be able to achieve a disguise known as the Nose Cone of the Rocket. A boat named Mr. Steven joined the ranks of the company's rescue fleet last year. Steven is essentially a mobile fishing glove and has a huge net that catches the panels when landing. Each disguise costs around $ 6 million – a tenth of the total price of the Falcon – and has been a one-time use in the past. As part of its reusability strategy, SpaceX wants to pick them up before they reach the ocean. To do this, the engineers have provided each panel with tools to return to Earth, trigger a parachute before gently setting it in the sea, or perhaps soon in Mr. Steven's spread net.

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