Sunday , May 16 2021

NASA certifies Falcon 9 to carry its most important spacecraft

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SpaceXs Falcon 9 rocket has no impeccable mail. In recent years, SpaceX has lost a vehicle on launchpad and another broke apart to International Space Station (ISS). But SpaceX is rolling as it approaches three dozen successful Falcon 9 launches in a row. The company is also cruising for certification to ferry astronauts to ISS. NASA has donated SpaceX's Falcon 9 vehicles with its highest launch vehicle certification: Category 3. This means SpaceX can launch the Agency's most important mission.

Falken 9 began its life as a typical substitutable rocket, but SpaceX has been working to improve reliability over the years. Now it's common for SpaceX to land the first leg after sending a payload in orbit. This has made its launches of smaller assignments extremely effective, but the rocket can still work in a replaceable mode for heavier payloads. This would probably be the case for all Category 3 launches.

NASA has four different spacecraft classifications spread across the three launch certifications. Class D is a cheap and potentially substitutable assignment. NASA will chase these spacecraft into something with a motor, although it has never been launched before – these vehicles are considered category 1. Rome C spacecraft are those that are somewhat complex and not easy to replace but are not crucial to NASA's goals. These missions can start on Category 2 rockets that have flown before and obtained engineering certification from NASA. That was where Falcon 9 was before.

SpaceX Falcon-9

SpaceXs Falcon 9.

Category 3 certification means SpaceX can launch space A and B NASA spacecraft. These are cost-effective and very complex tasks that the agency can not afford to lose in a fireball. The Hubble Space Telescope was Class A, like the upcoming Web Space Telescope and March 2020 Rover. Just because NASA trusts Falcon 9 to launch important missions does not mean it's coming. Falcon 9 regularly sends payloads to the ground, but some spacecraft may need more power than Falcon 9 can offer. There is hope that Falcon Heavy could come in there.

Falcon Heavy is based on the Falcon 9 design – it uses three modified Falcon 9 phases that are fixed together. NASA requires at least three successful launches in addition to extensive validation of the design. Falcon Heavy has a test flight under its belt (early 2018) and two commercial launches are scheduled for 2019. This could give the rocket the opportunity to get Category 3 certification. But SpaceX has not been shy about the plans to move all its launches to the more versatile BFR in the future.

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