Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

07 January 2016

Time for an inbetweenie: Falcon 9 "Full thrust" 1st stage landing at the Cape [1]

After so many repetitive action, I thought it would be appropriate for you all and for me too to do a little inbetweenie for a change.

Just a couple of weeks ago, SpaceX managed a perfect launch of their improved Falcon9 and landed the first stage extremely smoothly almost at the same spot it lifted off from.
Fantastic to watch, it is an incredible achievement:

Alfonso X. Moreno, designer of many great paper space model, surprised us all in just a week after the landing with this pretty 1/100 model of the landed first stage. To keep it a bit of a challenge and because I like to do stuff small an even smaller (for as long as my eyes can keep up with it), I decided to make this one in 1/300. The rocket will measure about 16 centimetres and the whole contraption will be about 9 cm wide at the base. It will be placed on a small picture frame to make a diorama.

Here's what I have been up to the past few days.

One page fits all. I joined some parts and put it all on one A4 to make things easy. 

A rolling aid came in helpful in this long thin part.

Added cable runs. The fuselage is as long as the Xacto, as you can see.
The tiny business end. Here I will have to put nine tiny rocket engine bells. In the middle I drilled a tiny hole.
Top part. The interstage, where the second stage's engine stayed on the way up. Three clamps (just the lower parts) still remain on the interstage, the top part was on the 2nd stage.

Four little vanes, shaped with a structure like grilles from a car, steered the stage back down to the Cape.
Unlike Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket's jump into space, which went straight up and down, the F9 had to fly back from a point which was horizontally very far removed from the launch pad. Orbital rockets need to get into space on a fairly horizontal trajectory.  This means that if you want to fly back a rocket stage, it has to
1.) turn around and brake in the direction it flies in,
2.) actually start to fly back (the stage flies a kind of looping to get itself there) and
3.) perform several brake procedures on the way down. First with three engines and in the end with just one.
The Merlin engines can throttle back quite a bit, but their lowest output still is around 65%, which means with a nearly empty rocket, that the thrust it provides still is too much to make it hover. Even more so, the rocket would rise up again! So it needs to time its landing firing so, that when it touches down, the speed is close to zero. Very meticulous calculating and wow, they did it. 

A 20x20 cm platform made from a glue-on photo frame. I glued a piece of sand paper onto the surface and used pastel chalks for the surface. I will add some more special effects later on.
So, here's where I am now. In fact, I am a little further. I already have three engines and two landing legs ready. So some more to go and then I'll come back for an update.
Thanks for passing by and taking a look at my tinkering!

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