After the SpaceX CRS-4 launch of Dragon on F9, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX head of launch operations is quoted as saying:

Koenigsmann said that shorter gaps between launches should become more routine for SpaceX. “In the future, I anticipate this will be the norm,” he said at a pre-launch briefing Sept. 20, crediting parallel processing at the launch site for enabling the fast turnaround. “We’re ramping up for that launch rate and even more than that.”

Thus, when we look at the LC-40 hangar, it looks fairly narrow for two cores. Especially since the primary core needs to be mounted on the rail transporter, which runs down the center of the building. So does not seem likely to even be able to shuffle over and share the space. Additionally it seems like that would need a second cradle to handle the booster stage.

The Dragon capsule is managed at the back end (assuming the Falcon rolls out the front, reverse terms as needed) of the hangar, and they have the SPIF building for payload processing if needed as well.

So how are they handling parallel processing of cores? Leave it on the truck transporter in the hangar? Or is the payload the bottleneck, and thus cores are easier to prepare for launch. (Which would actually be the best outcome, right? Cores are easy, payloads are hard means pushing more cores through the process faster is easier).

  • $\begingroup$ How do they manage quality control? $\endgroup$ Sep 22 '14 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DeerHunter Another good question. Is that answerable though? $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Sep 22 '14 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc It should be answerable ... reliability is quantifiable, and quality control demands a process. $\endgroup$
    – Everyone
    Oct 25 '14 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ I believe it is because they build everything in house as opposed to others. Other rocker manufactures rely on vendors. Source $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '14 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @iamcreasy The question is not about how they can build sufficient cores. It is about how they can handle more than 1 in a building (hangar at LC-40) that appears to only have room for a single core. So if they have 2 missions 3 weeks apart, do they process two cores at once, in parallel or in series? Can they do parallel processing? If so, where? $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Oct 26 '14 at 11:52

It appears the answer is, they do not, at LC-40. LC-39A has much more room (Enough for 5 cores) and can process a Falcon Heavy (3 cores) and a Falcon 9 at the same time.

That is, one core at a time is processed for the next flight. The obvious downside is that a delay in one flight ripples down the schedule.

For payloads they have a clean room at the back where they can process a satellite or Dragon capsule for encapsulation in a shroud (if needed).

They have access to the SPIF (Spacecraft Integration Facility) down the road as discussed with lots of pictures in this question and answer: What is the alternate hangar SpaceX has available at the Cape?

The SPIF can be used to process a second payload, to be ready once a first/second stage core combo is available.

They appear to be planning on leaving this mode running, and just move to 4 parallel launch sites. LC-40 (Current), LC-39A (Manned flights), Boca Chica, TX (GEO flights), and Vandenburg SLC-4W (Polar orbits).


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