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Is the Falcon 9 a space craft or not?

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dhkaiser

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As I understand it the edge of space is defined as 100 km, during the last launch the Falcon 9 reached about 65 km. So it technically did not reach space. So is the Falcon 9 a space craft or not? Is the Falcon 9 a reusable space craft or a reusable rocket?
 

Oberon

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The Falcon 9 is an orbital launch vehicle with a reusable first stage.
 

Nytrunner

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**Conditionally Reusable 1st stage**

I'd call it a boost vehicle. As the 1st stage becomes more reusable, I almost begin to think of it and the 2nd state as separate entities.
 

georgegassaway

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A Spacecraft is a vehicle that travels in space. A stage is not usually considered to be a spacecraft. And a satellite that cannot maneuver does not tend to be one either. Some gray-ish areas.

As for the Falcon 9 booster, it DOES go into space. How high varies with the payload, trajectory, and what sort of re-entry/landing maneuvering it does. But IIRC it often (if not always) goes over 100 miles up, and always way above 100 km.

RTLS type landing.


Droneship / ASDS / Barge landing. This has an error in it, the grid fins deploy long before re-entry burn.

 
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Oberon

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The most recent launch was a high-energy trajectory (i.e. the rocket was near max capacity) so they did not have a "boostback" burn - as a result the first stage apogee would have been lower (how much lower, I don't know).
 

SpaceManMat

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Just looked at the footage from their latest mission. Staging happened at 66km and 8211km per hour. As there was no boost back the first stage would have continued on a ballistic trajectory. If we knew the angle we could figure out how high it went.
 

SpaceManMat

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Just looked at the footage from their latest mission. Staging happened at 66km and 8211km per hour. As there was no boost back the first stage would have continued on a ballistic trajectory. If we knew the angle we could figure out how high it went.
A few more figures. Main engine cutoff is at 2:41, 8236km/h at 63.8km alt. Staging is at 2:43 on the clock so in 2 seconds it's already gained 2.2km in altitude. The second stage lit at 2:50, it was going 8120 just before it lit and the altitude was now 72.4km. You can see it's going to go very high...

So our average vertical velocity over the staging event was 8.6km / 9sec or 3340km/h
 

Mushtang

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I say the Falcon 9 is most definitely a spacecraft, just like the Saturn V was. The entire rocket doesn't need to get to space, and staged rockets may or may not have a first stage that does. But if the first stage doesn't get into "space" and some portion of the rest of the rocket does then it's a spacecraft.
 

SpaceManMat

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A few more figures. Main engine cutoff is at 2:41, 8236km/h at 63.8km alt. Staging is at 2:43 on the clock so in 2 seconds it's already gained 2.2km in altitude. The second stage lit at 2:50, it was going 8120 just before it lit and the altitude was now 72.4km. You can see it's going to go very high...

So our average vertical velocity over the staging event was 8.6km / 9sec or 3340km/h
According to an online calculator it will travel upwards an addition 47.5km using acceleration due to gravity of -9.6m/s/s.

It's pretty rough calculations but looks like it'll go a few km over 100km.
 

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