Author Topic: How expensive is water recovery, really?  (Read 1625 times)

Online Pipcard

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How expensive is water recovery, really?
« on: 03/21/2017 02:52 AM »
I sometimes see people claiming that water recovery (of capsules that splash down in the ocean) is very expensive. But I never see any figures as to how much the operating costs are. Also, I could understand recovery during the Apollo days being expensive, requiring whole fleets. But I'm guessing that navigation systems have improved over the years, and the number of ships involved in recovery has decreased between the first Mercury-Redstone flight and the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 02:53 AM by Pipcard »

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #1 on: 03/21/2017 06:01 AM »
Those huge recovery fleets of the 1960s existed to make sure Soviet submarines weren't in the landing area. They were based on an Essex-class antisub carrier packed with sub-hunting airplanes and helicopters.

Later, when the Sovs showed no interest in interfering with manned landings, the task was passed to the Guam-class Marine Corps helicopter carriers. There was always at least one surplus to requirements because most of the Marine battalions they were designed to land were tied up in Vietnam. Guidance during Apollo was so good that landings were always in visual range of the carrier.

Spacex shows the future by using an oil rig service vessel with a stabilized crane. I don't know why NASA insists on bringing in the Navy again. With the proposed expansion of the Marine Corps to 36 battalions there probably won't be any landing ships to spare.

The reason Orion and Dragon have switched to sea landings is that weight growth during development has made land touchdowns impossible.

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #2 on: 03/21/2017 07:29 AM »
The reason Orion and Dragon have switched to sea landings is that weight growth during development has made land touchdowns impossible.

I know that, but then people said things like

It will reduce Orion's weight, but what about the added costs of the ocean recovery vessels (ships, helicopters, etc.)? Does the Navy provide those services for free, or will NASA have to budget for them?

This is bad news.

Once again, operational costs are being increased (and therefore overall costs) to save some development costs.

and I never knew how much these costs would be.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 09:07 AM by Pipcard »

Offline AncientU

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #3 on: 03/21/2017 11:47 AM »
Those huge recovery fleets of the 1960s existed to make sure Soviet submarines weren't in the landing area. They were based on an Essex-class antisub carrier packed with sub-hunting airplanes and helicopters.

Later, when the Sovs showed no interest in interfering with manned landings, the task was passed to the Guam-class Marine Corps helicopter carriers. There was always at least one surplus to requirements because most of the Marine battalions they were designed to land were tied up in Vietnam. Guidance during Apollo was so good that landings were always in visual range of the carrier.

Spacex shows the future by using an oil rig service vessel with a stabilized crane. I don't know why NASA insists on bringing in the Navy again. With the proposed expansion of the Marine Corps to 36 battalions there probably won't be any landing ships to spare.

The reason Orion and Dragon have switched to sea landings is that weight growth during development has made land touchdowns impossible.

Orion mass growth is well documented.  Dragon would suffer little penalty (fractional increase in ballistic coefficient changing terminal velocity) for added mass if landing on land.  Dragon is landing in the pond either because land landing was too high risk/under-developed or NASA insisted.  I think both were factors, with predominance of the latter.

Dragon will be landing on land -- first with cargo Dragon 2s (loaded with down-mass I'd assume) and then crewed versions.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 11:50 AM by AncientU »
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Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #4 on: 03/21/2017 11:51 AM »
Since when did the Dragon 2 scrap its plans for propulsive landings? I knew NASA wanted the initial Commercial Crew landings to be splashdowns, but I was under the impression that SpaceX was still actively developing and reserving the propulsive landing system for non-NASA flights and future CC missions.

Offline brickmack

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #5 on: 03/21/2017 05:18 PM »
Since when did the Dragon 2 scrap its plans for propulsive landings? I knew NASA wanted the initial Commercial Crew landings to be splashdowns, but I was under the impression that SpaceX was still actively developing and reserving the propulsive landing system for non-NASA flights and future CC missions.

It didn't, they're talking about Dragon 1

Offline AncientU

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #6 on: 03/21/2017 05:50 PM »
Since when did the Dragon 2 scrap its plans for propulsive landings? I knew NASA wanted the initial Commercial Crew landings to be splashdowns, but I was under the impression that SpaceX was still actively developing and reserving the propulsive landing system for non-NASA flights and future CC missions.

It didn't, they're talking about Dragon 1

If by 'they' you mean Arch Admiral's comment repeated below, Dragon (generic, neither 1 nor 2) was improperly characterized as abandoning land landings due to weight-growth.  Dragon 1 is landing in the water because that was the first technology SpaceX developed for CRS-1, sold it to NASA, and continues to use it.  Dragon 1 has nothing to do with the discussion since it never had land landings to abandon.

...

The reason Orion and Dragon have switched to sea landings is that weight growth during development has made land touchdowns impossible.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 06:12 PM by AncientU »
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Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #7 on: 03/21/2017 07:34 PM »
Part of the issue of cost of water recovery is being able to respond quickly to landings in many different places. During launch the recovery would have to be quick whether a pad abort drops the capsule a few feet off shore, or it aborts in flight somewhere in the North Atlantic. The same then goes during orbit operations that a craft has to be able to return within a certain amount of time in the event of an emergency to a location they can be recovered from, which means multiple ships on station, or at least contracted.


Since when did the Dragon 2 scrap its plans for propulsive landings? I knew NASA wanted the initial Commercial Crew landings to be splashdowns, but I was under the impression that SpaceX was still actively developing and reserving the propulsive landing system for non-NASA flights and future CC missions.
NASA didn't "want" the initial landings to be water-recovery, they required acceptable abort profiles. Since most of the abort landings would be water landings, and SpaceX was having issues with water landings they had to focus on fixing those issues at the expense of propulsive landings.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #8 on: 03/21/2017 07:44 PM »
Part of the issue of cost of water recovery is being able to respond quickly to landings in many different places. During launch the recovery would have to be quick whether a pad abort drops the capsule a few feet off shore, or it aborts in flight somewhere in the North Atlantic. The same then goes during orbit operations that a craft has to be able to return within a certain amount of time in the event of an emergency to a location they can be recovered from, which means multiple ships on station, or at least contracted.


Since when did the Dragon 2 scrap its plans for propulsive landings? I knew NASA wanted the initial Commercial Crew landings to be splashdowns, but I was under the impression that SpaceX was still actively developing and reserving the propulsive landing system for non-NASA flights and future CC missions.
NASA didn't "want" the initial landings to be water-recovery, they required acceptable abort profiles. Since most of the abort landings would be water landings, and SpaceX was having issues with water landings they had to focus on fixing those issues at the expense of propulsive landings.
Dragon 2 is having trouble with water landings?

Online whitelancer64

Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #9 on: 03/21/2017 08:01 PM »
Dragon 2 is having trouble with water landings?

Yes, as reported here and elsewhere, SpaceX has had to do some re-designing of the Dragon v2 to fix issues that came up with landing in the water.
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Online Pipcard

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #10 on: 03/21/2017 08:24 PM »
Part of the issue of cost of water recovery is being able to respond quickly to landings in many different places. During launch the recovery would have to be quick whether a pad abort drops the capsule a few feet off shore, or it aborts in flight somewhere in the North Atlantic. The same then goes during orbit operations that a craft has to be able to return within a certain amount of time in the event of an emergency to a location they can be recovered from, which means multiple ships on station, or at least contracted.
I just want to know how much costs are added compared to precision (propulsive or runway) recovery or even Soyuz-style land recovery. Does anyone here even know?
« Last Edit: 03/21/2017 08:29 PM by Pipcard »

Online whitelancer64

Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #11 on: 03/21/2017 08:44 PM »
Part of the issue of cost of water recovery is being able to respond quickly to landings in many different places. During launch the recovery would have to be quick whether a pad abort drops the capsule a few feet off shore, or it aborts in flight somewhere in the North Atlantic. The same then goes during orbit operations that a craft has to be able to return within a certain amount of time in the event of an emergency to a location they can be recovered from, which means multiple ships on station, or at least contracted.
I just want to know how much costs are added compared to precision (propulsive or runway) recovery or even Soyuz-style land recovery. Does anyone here even know?

For SpaceX, recovering the CRS Dragons is probably running a few million per year. Chartering the recovery boats, renting dock space, training / paying boat crew, training / paying dock crew, and transportation costs like fuel and maintenance of the boats.

Soyuz recovery requires helicopters, but is otherwise similar, helicopters also need hangar space and crew and fuel and maintenance.

I don't know if anyone has those specific cost numbers, though.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: How expensive is water recovery, really?
« Reply #12 on: 03/23/2017 12:17 PM »
How expensive is water recovery, really?

Very expensive if the salt water bath makes the vehicle unusable, or extremely expensive to refurbish (this seems to be the case with Dragon 1).  A propulsive land landing with Dragon 2 should mean that the spacecraft integrity is preserved so that it can be re-flown with minimal work.

The cost of the 'fleet' is pretty much irrelevant.

Landing in the ocean is an anachronism, unless needed for an abort.

« Last Edit: 03/23/2017 12:18 PM by AncientU »
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