SpaceX shows a leg for the "F-niner"

May 2, 2013 4:55 pm Eastern | by Clark Lindsey, Managing Editor
Elon Musk posts a picture of a landing leg for the reusable Falcon 9 first stage: Twitter / elonmusk:
F9R (pronounced F-niner) shows a little leg.
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Comments (31)

The weight of the landing gear is almost unbelievably light. I thought not being able to keep the weight of the landing gear down would be one of the potential showstoppers. The other being potentially the stage breaking up at high altitude.
4th May 2013 3:57pm
Me likes. Me likes a lot.
3rd May 2013 6:00pm
"landing an SLS core stage on the moon doesn't seem that particularly far fetched anymore. We're good to go.
You guys just don't think big enough."

After F9-R, FH-R. After FH-R... FX-R?

3rd May 2013 9:39am
Certainly you must understand the concept of two stage to escape velocity, right? Now what do you think that Mr. Musk is going to do with that upper stage? He's going to land it on Mars. The upper stage reusability problem is trivially solved. Now with SSMEs the upper stage is the core stage, get it? If you can't extrapolate that to cross feeding reusable methane boosters and landing the core stage on the moon using the greatly enhanced Isp and efficiency of hydrogen, I can help.
3rd May 2013 9:57am
Methane and hydrogen aren't the same thing. Hope that helps.
3rd May 2013 11:35am
Boosters and core stages aren;t the same thing either. They're the same, but different. They could be the same, but with different fuel and different engines and different flight profiles, they're different. I hope that helps. Thanks for your insights.
3rd May 2013 12:03pm
First thought: OMFG that's HUGE ;D

Second thought: The black composite and the fairing design makes it look science-fictional. Landing gear for a rather different Bird of Prey... you just can't see it in the hangar bay because it's cloaked ;-)

Hopefully someone with more Photoshop skills than me will take this and put together a quick mockup of what a V1.1 stage will look like on landing with legs extended...

3rd May 2013 7:51am
Clark S. Lindsey
Elon said that Dragon 2 has a real sci-fi spaceship look. Should be quite a combination on the pad with Dragon 2 and the new first stage, even with the legs folded up.
3rd May 2013 8:55am
Spacecadet Jeff
Wow - can't beleive they're making progress so fast. Amazing.

OldSpace must be shitting their pants at this point.

And how are they going to react when the first one lands? Then does it again a few weeks or days later?

3rd May 2013 12:21am
Mader Levap
Landing same stage weeks or days later will not happen for long, long time.
3rd May 2013 7:44am
Sure, you might have to wait all the way until next year. You understand this is for Grasshopper 2 and reusable stages, no?
3rd May 2013 8:10am
Mader Levap
Nope. I was talking about operational reuse. Reusing old stage just weeks or days after previous launch will not happen for long, long time (decades, at least). Now clear?
4th May 2013 4:45am
No. You are delusional. Your unwarranted and unfounded pessimism is useful, however., as it provides a solid benchmark for near term discussions when reality finally catches up with people like you.
4th May 2013 7:02am
Spacecadet Jeff
Read up on what Mr.Musk is saying - Rapidly reusable space craft - with a turnaround the same as a jet liner - that is the whole frakin' point of what he and his team are trying to do.

Still amazed and the pace of progress, they have brought silicon valley business methodology to Space, godspeed to them, it is well overdue.

Rock on Elon you're so many people's hero for doing this - I just can't wait to see a Red Dragon!

4th May 2013 8:59am
What I find remarkable is that these kind of people still exist in the face of insurmountable evidence, and that they still feel the need to blurt this kind of nonsense out on the intertubes.

Decades! Orbital built a contractor rocket in just five and a half years. Once he gets a clean burning methane engine running it's game over for these people. The rest of us are moving on.

4th May 2013 9:04am
Dwelling on the difficulties may have stopped us from finding out how easy it is. Reusability may be a difficult engineering problem, but still be a tractable one.

I'm hopeful we will see a first stage reused for a second time (i.e. 3rd use) in 2015.

5th May 2013 5:28am
That is pretty clever, aerodynamic at launch, flaring into the engine compartment and then rotating around so as to present the somewhat flame resistant surfaces to the landing engine. Hopefully that will get rid of the smoking landing leg syndrome. Mechanical engineering at work.
2nd May 2013 10:33pm
Would be cool if they showed three people lifting it up.
2nd May 2013 9:49pm
Cool and amazing, as by all accounts it weights about half a tonne!
5th May 2013 5:18am
That is larger than I expected, but that seems like poor expectations! But that does look like it will eat a fair bit of mass.

This is going to be so darn cool when they complete it!

2nd May 2013 2:12pm
Andrew Platzer
In a follow up tweet, Elon said all 4 legs would weigh less than a Model S which is around 1,700 kg and use helium. The mount is an interesting shape. I wonder if the pointy bits project all the way to the ground as a backup in case the leg fails to deploy
2nd May 2013 2:17pm
Clark S. Lindsey
I don't see that on Elon's tweet list. He must have removed it.

So, not surprisingly, most of the leg must be big composites.

The prong might be what the rocket rests on at launch but doesn't seem like it should be exposed to rocket exhaust.

2nd May 2013 2:44pm
Andrew Platzer
I had it backwards. Taking a look at the F9R video from a while back, the leg is mounted so that the piston is on the inside and the prongs are upwards with 2 attachment points to the body. The pad would be at the bottom where the piston joins the leg.

Here's the reply to someone's question about the weight:

2nd May 2013 2:56pm
Coastal Ron
Not sure if this is what you are saying, but after looking this picture and the prior video depiction, I think the pointy end of the frame is pointing into the wind, and the two attachment points at the bottom when it takes off. The cylinder is nestled inside, with the larger end (above on this picture) nestled near the pointy end of the frame. When being deployed, the other end of the cylinder slides down from end closest the two attachment points and ends up at the end closest the pointy Read More
2nd May 2013 5:04pm
Since a nearly empty hypothetical 10 meter lunar SLS stage would weight roughly six times a Falcon 9 Version 1.1 first stage, then landing an SLS core stage on the moon doesn't seem that particularly far fetched anymore. We're good to go.

You guys just don't think big enough.

3rd May 2013 7:47am
Elon's tweet is still there -- be sure to click on "All" rather than "No Replies" when viewing his Twitter page. The comment is:

@BigBalli High pressure helium. Needs to be ultra light. All 4 legs together (~60 ft span) weigh less than Model S.

Have to say that I didn't expect them to be manufacturing flight-weight reusable gear at this point. They're moving faster than I could've hoped!

2nd May 2013 3:45pm
Andrew Platzer
Maybe they're for the Grasshopper 2.
2nd May 2013 4:31pm
Clark S. Lindsey
Thanks. Explains why I just saw it on my iPhone Twitter but not on my PC.
2nd May 2013 4:40pm
This just gets more interesting by the day? I can't wait to see this in action.
2nd May 2013 2:05pm
Andrew Platzer
2nd May 2013 2:02pm
Johnny Cunningham
That's actually pretty cool
2nd May 2013 2:05pm
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