Space Spaceport Drone Ship at sea. A first stage

Space X is a private American aerospace manufacturer
and space transport services company. Its headquarters are in Hawthorne,
California and it was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. The goal Elon Musk had in
mind when founding Space X, was to make it possible for people to live on other
planets, reduce space transportation costs and develop fully reusable rockets,
similar to aircrafts.

In this report, I am going to set my focus on the fully reusable rockets
that Space X develops and on their special features. Space X has three rockets
or spacecraft in total. The first rocket is the Falcon 9, it is a two-stage
rocket which is used to transport t satellites and in the future it should also
transport people into space. It was the first orbital class rocket capable of
reflight. The second rocket is the Falcon Heavy, it will lift off its first
time in 2018 and it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world,
with the ability to lift 54 tons into orbit. It was designed to carry humans
into space and restore the possibility of flying missions with a crew to the
moon and mars. The Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft, its purpose is to
deliver cargo and people to orbiting destinations. It is the only spacecraft
that is capable of returning cargo to Earth. Currently, it is only carrying
cargo but after an agreement with NASA, Space X will also fly humans in the
near future.

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What makes these rockets and spacecraft special is that they are all
reusable. Space X believes that by making the rocket fully and rapidly reusable
they are able to substantially reduce the cost of the
launches and space access because most of the cost comes from building the
rocket which in the end is only used once and after that, the stages fall off
and land in the ocean. At first Space X tried landing their rockets with parachutes,
but gave up in 2011 after many failures and decided to use a powered descent landing system. The world’s
first reflight of an orbital class rocket took place on March 30th, 2017.
The Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed on an Autonomous Spaceport Drone
Ship at sea.

 A first stage is a part of a multistage
rocket, as the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy are. A multistage rocket uses two
or more stages and each has its own engines and propellant. The first stage is
at the bottom of it and usually also is the largest one. The second stage and other
higher stages are on top of it, but Space X is still not able to return those
to earth or to reuse them, but they plan on making them also reusable in the near
future. This is a bit harder than it sounds because the vehicle is traveling at
orbital velocity which
makes it a much more challenging engineer problem. Even though they are
not able to return all stages right now this still is a big step forward in the
aerospace industry, since nobody else returned and reflew an orbital rocket and
because the first stage boosts the entire rocket upwards and is one of the most
expensive parts of the rocket.


So you are
probably asking yourself right now how do these rockets fly up and how do these
stages land again. I am going to try to explain it in an easy way so you can
understand it too, without needing to be a scientist. Firstly the rocket is
launched by the nine engines in the first stage burning kerosene and liquid
oxygen for up to three minutes to start the propellant or booster. The advantage
of this over a solid fuel rocket is that it can be turned off and on as needed.
Space X has invented four different types of rocket engines (Merlin, Kestrel,
Draco and Super Draco) and are currently developing another one (Raptor). All
of them are Kerosene-based. After the rocket takes off and reaches a wished
height it will separate from the first stage in order that it can still fly at
the same high speed and so that it doesn’t have to carry that extra mass into
orbit. The second stage than takes over with just one engine. The first stage
keeps some fuel to be able to land again. It lands by firing three of its nine
engines to slow itself down and it opens it special grid fins which keeps the
engines straight. When the first stage gets close to the landing platform it
will deploy its legs and start up the central engine so that a soft landing is
assured. In the beginning Space X tried landing the first stage of a Falcon 9 on
the ocean surface by tipping it over so that it floats horizontally on the
water. This didn’t work out as planned. The first time in 2013 the rocket went
into a spin and the engines failed. In the second two tries, they were able to
slow down the first stage but once it was destroyed by rough seas and the other
time it hit the water too hard when it tipped over and broke. Since Space X saw
that they aren’t able to land the rocket on the ocean’s surface without it
breaking they decided on building their own landing platform. The Autonomous
Spaceport Drone Ship which is kept in place by four thrusters. These four thrusters
are very important because they
enable the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, which isn’t much bigger than
the first stage, from moving more than 3 meters even during a storm.

Once the
first stage lands it needs to be cleaned …

In conclusion,
it can be said that …