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Falcon 9 Progress Update

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:40 am
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(SpaceX) – Thursday, December 11th, 2008
Below you can see the F9 erector just before the aluminum section (in white) was loaded on a flat bed truck headed for the Cape. The erector is built in sections for weight and cost optimization—the main sections pin together for easy setup and break down (if necessary).

The aluminum section is 74 ft long, weighing 8,000 pounds, and the steel section is 53ft long, weighing 35,000 pounds. The steel section will be painted on Friday; our team of welders worked 24 hours a day for almost 6 weeks straight to complete the steel section.

Aluminum section of the erector leaving SpaceX for the Cape

Aluminum and steel sections of the erector on the SpaceX manufacturing floor

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
Below is a recent pic of us joining the barrel sections of the F9 second stage using the circumferential friction stir welding (FSW) machine shown below. The FSW joins metal without flames, sparking, inert gasses, or fumes, and produces a far superior weld in aluminum-lithium alloys as compared to traditional methods.

Also received the two side pieces of the launch mount today (shown below). Each piece measures roughly 14 feet long by 7 feet high.

Circumferential friction stir welding machine (FSW)

Side pieces of the launch mount, each roughly 14ft long by 7ft high

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