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Reusability limitEdit

Reusability must have a limit. I have seen some reusable systems remark the maximum number of flights, but I don't see that for Falcon 9. Does anybody know how many flights can it be reused? Cheers, Rowan Forest (talk) 22:09, 5 December 2018 (UTC)

I don't have a reference handy, but on several occasions, either Mr. Musk, SpaceX or both have said a Falcon 9 Block 5 can manage ten flights before requiring major maintenance. But that wouldn't include attrition due to landing and launch failures. I think they've also said something about a hundred flights total, but that sounded very speculative. Fcrary (talk) 22:31, 5 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed Musk has repeatedly touted "10 flights with routine maintenance" and "refurbishment after 100 flights", but that is obviously an "inspirational goal" far removed from reality. Turnaround time on Block 5 boosters has been in the same ballpark as the last Block 4s, meaning they are going through a lot more than "routine maintenance". I'm also pretty damn sure customers and insurers demand just the same rigorous inspections on re-flown boosters than on new ones. What improved with Block 5, per a recent interview of their fleet manager, is that SpaceX needs to replace fewer components than on previous iterations, hence re-use is now economically viable. Components and assembly are also better designed for swapping, e.g. engine blocks and heat shields. Finally, there is simply not enough demand in the satellite industry to justify flying boosters dozens of time. SpaceX can perfectly handle their manifest with a dozen active boosters, even if it grows to 50 or 100 flights per year. The Starlink fleet could fill many Falcon 9s, but still not to the point of flying them hundreds of times each (and that is if we dismiss BFR entirely). I bet that no Falcon 9 core will ever fly 100 missions, so that Elon will never even be proven wrong! — JFG talk 02:05, 6 December 2018 (UTC)
JFG, I mean, eventually you build a Ship of Theseus right? If they keep inspecting and refurbishing worn out parts form the boosters, eventually there won't be anything left from the original launch, so they could fly any number of times theoretically. You are right that it won't ever happen though. BFR is projected to be cheaper to launch than even Falcon 9 (due to 100% reusability), basically making every other launch vehicle obsolete once it is up and flying smoothly. No falcon 9 will ever launch 100 times. — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here)(click me!) 00:17, 9 December 2018 (UTC)
SpaceX is still in the early phase of Block 5 reuse. Over time they'll learn more what has to be done and what not, they'll also improve some more components, reuse should go faster. Musk said something about ~30 cores for ~300 flights in total a while ago, that would be an average of 10 flights per booster. --mfb (talk) 01:13, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

Max Payload to LEO without being expended?Edit

I can't seem to find this figure in the infobox or anywhere else in the article. I assume it is around 10,000kg, Given the Iridium NEXT launches have been 9,600kg. We should have this figure somewhere in this article (ideally in the info box). — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here)(click me!) 00:06, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

Should be a bit more. One of the ITS/BFR/... presentations had a graph for it. --mfb (talk) 01:14, 9 December 2018 (UTC)

2018 launch prices too lowEdit


On the price section of the article it states that the launch prices in "2018" are 50 million dollars. As far as I can tell that was not the case for 2018. The source that is quoted is inconsistent with SpaceX's current launch capabilities webpage, and is inconsistent with everything that I've seen about what customers pay for a falcon 9 launch. SpaceX's current launch capabilities page prices a Falcon 9 at 62 million USD for "2018 launch". That is 12 million dollars more than the listed price of 50 million USD. See for SpaceX's official launch capabilities webpage, which places the price of a Falcon 9 at 62 million USD for "2018 launches".

This may be something that should be changed to better reflect the reality of current launch prices; because I haven't been able to find anything else which would suggest that the 2018 launch prices were 50 million dollars.

Chuckstablers (talk) 22:39, 7 January 2019 (UTC)

50 million was given as price with a reused booster at some point last year. Originally on twitter probably, but there should be secondary sources around. --mfb (talk) 10:21, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

That's fair enough, but that is not what SpaceX's own website says. I'd love to see actual sources suggesting that, in 2018, falcon 9's were being sold for 50 million dollars. Because all I saw is Musk claiming that he 'will' be reducing Falcon 9 prices, not that Falcon 9 prices were currently 50 million dollars. Given that SpaceX's own website quotes a figure of 62 million dollars I think it's likely that the cost in 2018 was 62 million dollars on the 'standard payment plan'. Chuckstablers (talk) 21:59, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

-> I have been questioning the same thing. The $50 million was a projection for the company and only able to happen if they hit a certain launch rate per year. Anyways I changed it since the rest of the article mentions this already. (I am going to let the bot sign for me cause I forgot the code)

Falcon 9 family lineageEdit

The current understanding on this article, the Falcon 9 Full Thrust article, and List of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches, is that there are five versions of the Falcon 9, with three versions of the Falcon 9 Full Thrust. This article as of writing currently makes no mention of the words "Full Thrust Block 1" or "Full Thrust Block 2", and describes "The "Full Thrust upgrade" version — also known as "Block 3"". The lead paragraph of Falcon 9 Full Thrust states it has "Block 3, Block 4, and Block 5 variants", with also no mention of "Block 1" or "Block 2" variants. List of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches describes launch vehicles as "F9 v1.0", "F9 v1.1", "F9 FT", "F9 B4", and "F9 B5", with no mention of a "F9 B1 / F9 FT B1" or "F9 B2 / F9 FT B2". Mfb, however, challenges this understanding of the lineage. They made the claim during a move discussion for Falcon 9 Full Thrust Block 5 that "Block 1" and "Block 2" variants of the Falcon 9 v1.2 / Falcon 9 Full Thrust exist, bringing the total to seven rockets instead of five. They cite Elon Musk's insistence on social media and in interviews on there being seven versions of the Falcon 9, and brought up three citations that make reference to Blocks 1 and 2 of the Full Thrust, but fail to mention any differences or specifications, meaning that it may simply be a series of editorial errors based on Musk's version of the lineage. Nonetheless, I've compiled a wikitable down below to put it in layman terms which citations state what about the relative differences of each version, with the status quo being pitted against this new understanding of the lineage.

Status quo New lineage Description / Citations
Version 1
  • "Falcon 9 v1.1 is an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 rocket with more powerful Merlin 1D engines and lengthened propellant tanks." Spaceflight Now
  • "Falcon 9 v1.1 is a two-stage medium-lift launch system designed, manufactured and operated by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). The launcher is based on the Falcon 9 v1.0 version that has successfully flown 5 missions." Spaceflight 101
  • "This stretched the rocket and rearranged the first stage engines into their current octagonal, or OctaWeb, configuration instead of the square grid that had been used previously."
  • "SpaceX planned to extend v1.0’s length to 180ft/55m but still rely on Merlin 1C engines. This version of Falcon 9 never flew after SpaceX pivoted to v1.1..." The Climate Gap
Version 2
Version 3 Version 3
  • "SpaceX is returning to flight after a June failure not with the same rocket that failed, but a modified version known variously as Falcon 9 Upgrade and Falcon 9 v1.2. The main purpose of the upgrade is to give Falcon 9 about 30 percent more power." SpaceNews
  • "A further revision, the Falcon 9 v1.2 or Falcon 9 Full Thrust, was introduced in December 2015 with uprated engines, a further stretched second stage and colder, denser, oxidizer. Incremental upgrades, such as a faster fuelling process and more resilient titanium grid fins, have been made between flights."
  • "Mr. Musk did not name the upgraded rocket at that time, so industry observers began identifying it as "Falcon 9 v1.2". [...] It had also become known that the company was, as of late 2016/early 2017, still flying "Falcon 9 Block 3". Block 3 thus was the Falcon 9 v1.2 variant." Space Launch Report
  • "Notable changes between it and v1.1 are a more stretched second stage, densified propellants and further upgraded engines. These upgrades together nearly doubled Falcon 9’s payload to LEO, and allowed first stage landings to occur on GTO missions. The Full Thrust version also featured improved landing leg and grid fin designs, and many structural improvements and weight reductions overall. [...] It has 5 known blocks, and so far, 4 have flown. Blocks 1-4 were slowly implemented in 2016 and 2017, and a Block 2 (B1021) was the first to be reused."
  • "V1.2 Blocks 1-3" section The Climate Gap
  • "[Falcon Heavy] Flight 1’s first stage featured two flight-proven Block 2 boosters (B1023 and B1025) and one new Block 3 booster (B1033) Teslarati
  • "SpaceX started launching updated versions of the first Falcon 9 Full Thrust, known as Block 3, in 2017, eventually landing on its Block 4 design." Futurism
Version 4
Version 5
Version 4 Version 6
  • "This upgrade increases the thrust provided by the rocket’s Merlin-1D engines and includes other upgrades"
  • "...The only concrete fact I could find was upgraded engines [...] Block 4 mainly serves as an incremental transition between Block 3 and Block 5. [...] With less effect on manufacturing, design changes were continuously implemented rather than introduced in disruptive batches." The Climate Gap
Version 5 Version 7
  • "The Falcon 9 Block 5 includes upgrades to meet NASA commercial crew requirements and U.S. Defense Department criteria." SpaceNews
  • "...improved engines, a more durable interstage, titanium grid fins, and a new thermal protection system." Wired
  • "For a recovery that’s less harmful to the vehicle, the whole first stage will be covered in a thermal protection coating to help it better survive atmospheric reentry."

PhilipTerryGraham (talk · articles · reviews) 15:40, 13 March 2019 (UTC)

I added two columns, moved the links to their scope and added one more reference in the table. I think it is a pretty consistent picture even though we don't learn what exactly SpaceX changed within the first three FT versions. --mfb (talk) 02:09, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
@Mfb: Please don't do that. There's no need to duplicate the column three times over. 5 versions vs. 7 versions is an adequate enough simplification to illustrate the competing lineages so that we can discuss them. We now need to find citations that illustrate what the alledged Blocks 1-3 of the Full Thrust are so that we know if they exist or not, and are not just editorial errors by various sources. Otherwise, it's gonna looks silly if we have a one-sentence subsection in this article that says something along the lines of "this block exists, but its nature is unknown". Accuracy disputes will most certainly arise all over again as a result of such a vague statement. – PhilipTerryGraham (talk · articles · reviews) 03:28, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
They were different columns and the difference is important. Why do you link to the talk page guidelines? It is common practice to have tables like this expanded together, I assumed this table was not different - and you kept the Teslarati article, so apparently you are not fully against the idea of editing it together (otherwise I might consider adding my own table). If we go by "editorial errors by various sources" (including Musk!) you can question everything. How many parallel editorial errors do we assume? Too many and we have to question the existence of the rocket in general.
There is no need to make the article look silly. "Full Thrust had five versions, called blocks. Blocks 1-3 were flown from x to y, it is unknown which changes were made between them. Block 4 was ...". This is a minimal version if we don't find anything. --mfb (talk) 04:16, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
@Mfb: I linked the talk page guidelines because it states "The basic rule [...] is to not edit or delete others' posts without their permission."; I just wanted to remind you of that. I kept the Teslarati source because it's important that we gather as many sources as we can to try to paint a clearer picture. We need to still prove exactly what Blocks 1-3 were if we want to say that they even existed so that we can be definitively sure that they existed. My main concern is that Musk says there's seven versions of the Falcon 9, but actual empirical evidence is non-existent. Here's a famous example of how one person can cause this kind of mass source pollution in a similar way, where no empirical evidence exists and only anecdotal evidence; it can be picked up by even the most reliable third party sources. It should also be of great concern that Blocks 1 and 2 allegedly existed before 2017, yet no sources from prior to 2017 have ever mentioned a "Block 1" or "Block 2" of a Full Thrust rocket. I've added a new source I recently found to the table from Futurism that corroborates the Space Launch Report's ~2017 dating. – PhilipTerryGraham (talk · articles · reviews) 06:01, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
We have Musk telling us there are seven versions, two of them are 1.0 and 1.1, and we have tons of sources discussing Block 3, 4 and 5 of the Full Thrust variant, with a few mentioning Block 1 and 2, which is an independent confirmation. It is a simple counting exercise. Finding early sources can be challenging because (a) SpaceX didn't tell us much about versions back then and (b) it probably got its name only after subsequent versions were used. No one called WW I like that before WW II. --mfb (talk) 06:55, 14 March 2019 (UTC)
One more thing I forgot: I don't think Futurism is a very reliable source, but it says something different than Space Launch Report. It says Block 3 started launching 2017. The first Full Thrust launch was December 2015. That leaves Block 1 and 2 for the 2015 launch, all the 2016 launches and potentially some 2017 launches. --mfb (talk) 07:01, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── SpaceX VP of Production Andy Lambert has stated in an AMA[1] that "we have never built any two vehicles identically." Presumably Only Block 5 is stable enough for NASA to certify it for human transport. (quote from NSF: "NASA is requiring SpaceX to fly a “frozen” configuration of the Block 5 – meaning every vehicle is built the same way – successfully for at least 7 flights."[2] In the same AMA, an ex-SpaceX employee confirmed that a particular version of the Octaweb was "likely debuting on Block 3 with with AMOS-6 or Iridium-1 or so". That gives us an anchor point for Block 3. Unrelated informative tidbit from Lambert: when asked "how long it takes to manufacture the full stack for the Falcon 9", he wrote: "Approximately 3 months from start of tank build to shipping". We may quote him on this. — JFG talk 07:39, 14 March 2019 (UTC)

I think this is a very useful point. No two vehicles were identical (and, from recent comments, it seems that even Block 5 is still subject to continuous improvement, as long as NASA understands and signs off on the changes). I think this article would be better off without the Kremlinology of trying to retrofit block numbers to various boosters. Marking the important transitions as the article currently does (1.0, 1.1, Full Thrust, Block 5) is worth keeping, but I would remove the 'also known as "Block 3"' comment. MatthewWilcox (talk) 00:51, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
I agree that the "also known as Block 3" remark could be removed. On the other hand we have many sources referring to the "Full Thrust" variant as "v1.2", including some FAA requests. It's also striking that SpaceX started advertising its "Full Thrust" performance long before the vehicles actually achieved it. In this manner, they could keep touting "10% improvement" over and over again without touching the published performance figures. Thus "Full Thrust" evolved into "Fuller Thrust" and "Fullest Thrust, we really mean it now"… — JFG talk 07:45, 13 April 2019 (UTC)
I removed the "also known as". --mfb (talk) 08:10, 13 April 2019 (UTC)

Comment Sorry was not sure where to put this in the discussion but "Falcon 9 was updated in the summer of 2015 to a Full Thrust configuration from its previous v1.1 configuration (flown from 2013 – summer 2015). Falcon 9 underwent further updates and first flew its Full Thrust Block 5 configuration in spring 2018. The Falcon 9 Block 5 architecture...for commonality, reliability, and performance. " per SpaceX's Falcon User Guide (page 9) [3]. Based off this SpaceX is clear then from 2013-2015 it flew v1.1 but then updated to a "Full Thrust" version. Then it moves to a "Full Thrust Block 5". Its unclear per SpaceX source how their rocket was updated between 2015 - spring 2018 (i.e. between the first Full Thrust and Block 5). (attempt to find a "SpaceX" source). Also an older version of the user guide mentions what their "Full Thrust" version changed. [4] Hope this helps. (page 9) OkayKenji (talk) 02:20, 18 March 2019 (UTC)

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