SpaceX set for over 300 missions in 5 years: Musk

SpaceX set for over 300 missions in 5 years: Musk

At a briefing with reporters hours prior to the scrubbed launch of their initial Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket, Musk said the Block 5 is meant to function as "the most dependable rocket ever assembled". In September 2016, a Falcon 9 blew up throughout preparations for a fixed fire test and damaged a telecom satellite for Israeli fleet operator Spacecom. "I think we are in a good situation".

The Block 5 improvement has a number of upgrades to increase the service life of the booster and to reduce turnaround time between recovery and launch.

The Block 5 is created to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment as SpaceX continues to strive for rapid reusability and extremely high reliability.

"The word "block" is a little odd".

Musk stated the each of the 9 Merlin engines utilized to power the Falcon 9's first stage now have an 8 percent boost in thrust at sea level to 190,000 pounds-force.

The single vacuum-optimized Merlin engine on Falcon 9's second stage has a 5 percent thrust increase to 220,000 pounds-force, he said. The Merlin engines on that first version had 95,000 pounds of thrust for each first-stage engine and 92,500 pounds of thrust for the second-stage engine.

According to Elon Musk, the Block 5 rockets will be able to fly up to 10 times with zero maintenance, and up to 100 times in total. "The secret to Block 5 is that it's developed to do 10 or more flights without any fix in between each flight".

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With some fix, a Block 5 first stage ought to have the ability to release 100 times, Musk stated.

The development of the Falcon 9 and other such spacecraft is part of SpaceX's goal to build fully and rapidly reusable spacecraft - perhaps changing the way we think about space travel forever. The new Falcon 9 Block 5 is specifically designed for reusability, with the rocket designed for quick re-launch with only inspection and no reconditioning, and-with some routine component replacements-are designed for hundreds of launches over the lifetime of each rocket. The octaweb is made with bolted instead of welded aluminum and has greater thermal protection to prevent melting, he said.

Making this happen won't be easy, Musk stressed, "because there's only so much work you could even do in one day, and a bunch of it consists of transporting the rocket from its landing site back to the launch site, mounting a new satellite on the rocket and loading propellant".

It's important to note that Musk generally has an optimistic view of timelines when it comes both to Tesla and SpaceX, but with the burst of progress we've seen from SpaceX over the previous year, it's certainly possible.

"Needless to say, aesthetics are a small element in rocket design, but I enjoy the fact that we have returned to get nostalgic reasons to getting a black interstage", Musk said.

Elon Musk indicates that SpaceX will probably build 30 to 40 rocket cores for ~300 missions over 5 years. "We plan to support on the Block 5 platform and have no significant upgrades".