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This came up while discussing the recent Falcon 9 failure with a friend. She posed the question:

How long does it take SpaceX to construct a new Falcon 9?

For the sake of the question, presume:

  • No new engineering designs/equipment to be developed
  • No new launch facilities
  • Time from request for creation to ready to launch

If possible, please also give clarification on time subtracted for Salvaged/Backstocked parts (ie: recovered stages, engines made en mass previously, etc) and how long those parts would take to construct.

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Publicly SpaceX officials have verbally said that they are aiming to build at a rate of 40 cores (First Stages) a year. As of just before the CRS-7 mission they said they were at a 20/year rate.

52/40= 1.3 weeks/core for their desired optimum rate. 52/20= 2.6 weeks/core for their current state.

They were aiming for 12-13 launches (one being a Falcon Heavy, so two more cores) thus 14-15 cores to be used in 2015. This will not likely happen due the CRS-7 loss of mission.

They build the upper stage at a somewhat slower rate, since their stated desire is a mix of 10 Falcon 9 and 10 Falcon Heavy boosters a year to get to 40 cores, which only requires 20 upper stages.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why build 40 reusable cores per year? Would they load them with sand from the Boca Chica Beach, or what? $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Jul 17 '15 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ That is an interesting different question. If they seriously believe they need to hit 40 cores per year, are they doubting reuse? If they can reuse them, at 40 core/year that is a crap load of flights they are planning for at 10 flights/core. 400 core flights/year? THAT is extreme. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Jul 17 '15 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ Please note that you are answering a different question than the one the OP asked. Production rate != time from keel to christening $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jul 17 '15 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @DeerHunter An interesting point. The more I think about it, the less I see the distinction. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Jul 17 '15 at 20:26
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc - how many production lines/streams are there at SpaceX? That's the key item to convert your numbers into those requested by the OP. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jul 17 '15 at 20:43

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