SpaceX Launch System & First Land Landing! (Part 1)
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In December, 2015, the Falcon 9 rocket delivered 11 communications satellites to orbit, and the first stage returned and landed at landing zone 1, the first ever orbital class rocket landing. Making the commercial spaceflight a reality; curious to know more about Falcon 9 and reusable launch systems? KEEP WATCHING!!
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It’s crucial to understand how rockets really work along with their launch stages in order to appreciate the significance of reusable launch systems.
First of all, there are four major systems in a full scale rocket, the structural system, the payload system, the guidance system and the propulsion system.
The structural system or frame, is similar to the fuselage of an airplane. The frame is made from very strong but lightweight materials, like titanium or aluminium and usually employs long stringers that run from the top to the bottom and they are connected to hoops which run around its circumference. The skin skin is then attached to the stringers and hoops to form the basic shape of the rocket. It may be coated with a thermal protection system to keep out the heat of air friction during flight and to keep in the cold temperature needed for certain fuels and oxidizers. Additionally, fins are attached to some rockets at the bottom of the frame to provide stability during the flight.
The payload system of a rocket depends on the rocket’s mission. Most of the rockets are specified to launch satellites with a wide range of missions; such as communications, weather monitoring, spying, planetary exploration and observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope. Moreover, Special rockets were developed to launch people into earth orbit and to the surface of the moon.
The guidance system of a rocket may include very sophisticated sensors, on-board computers, radars and communications equipment in order to maneuver the rocket in flight. Many different methods have been developed to control rockets in flights. For example, the V2 guidance system included small vanes in the exhaust of the nozzle to deflect the thrust from the engine. However, Modern rockets typically rotate the nozzle to maneuver the rocket. The guidance system must also provide some level of stability so that the rocket does not tumble in flight.
The propulsion system constitutes most of the full scale rocket’s body. There are two main classes of propulsion systems, liquid rocket engines and solid rocket engines. For example, the V2 used a liquid rocket engine consisting of fuel and oxidizer or propellant tanks, pumps, a combustion chamber with nozzle and the associated plumbing. On the other hand, the space shuttles Delta II and Titan III all use solid rocket strap-ons. These various rocket parts have been grouped by function into structure, payload, guidance and propulsion systems. However, there are other possible groupings where engineers often group the payload, structure, propulsion structure and guidance into a single empty weight parameter for the purpose of weight determination and flight performance. The remaining propellant weight then becomes the only factor that changes with time when determining rocket performance.
Secondly, rockets don’t work by “pushing against the air” since they also function in the vacuum of space. Alternatively, rockets take advantage of momentum or how much power a moving object has. To picture this in your head, You can make a simple analogy, imagine yourself standing on a skateboard, if you throw a basketball in one direction, you and the skateboard will roll in the opposite direction to conserve momentum. And the faster you throw the ball, the faster you roll backward!
Rockets work by expelling hot exhaust that acts in the same way as basketball. The exhaust gas molecules don’t weigh much individually, but they exit the rocket’s nozzle very fast; giving them a lot of momentum as a result; the rocket moves in the opposite direction of the exhaust with the same total oomph. A rocket makes exhaust by burning fuel in its engine. Unlike airplanes’ jet engines, rockets are designed to work in space; they don’t have intakes for air and they bring along their own oxidizers which are substances that play the role of oxygen in burning fuel. The rocket’s fuel and oxidizer are called propellants.
credits: Steve Jurvetson( cc by 2.0)
credits: Nasa/Kim Shiflett ( cc by-sa 2.0)
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