Spacenews has an interview with Spacex CEO Gwynne Shotwell. Here are the highlights.
* Spacex will increase 2018 launches by 50% to up to 30 launches over 2017 and then go to 30-40 launches per year. Those will not include Spacex launches of their own internet satellite network.
* the first Falcon 9 block 5 rocket will ship by the end of 2017
* Block 5 engines will reach 190,000 pound-force (lbf) of thrust at sea level, up from the current Merlin 1D’s 176,000 lbf at sea level
* the Block 5 Falcon 9 should be able to refly “10 or more times” with limited refurbishment. The Falcon Heavy will also use Block 5 cores, she said, with the exception of the first mission.
* SpaceX is in the process of gaining Air Force certification for the Block 5 and for the Falcon Heavy. That process requires three flights before carrying an EELV payload, which SpaceX will do, though Shotwell added that the company will be able to compete for EELV missions with Falcon Heavy before completing those required flights. She declined to confirm the Falcon Heavy’s inaugural launch date, saying only that SpaceX is aiming for December, though it could slip to January.
* SpaceX plans to supersede the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy with the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR starting in about 2022
* SpaceX plans to attempt second stage recoveries from the existing Falcon mainly as practice and learning how to make the second stage recovery work for the BFR
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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