Author Topic: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.  (Read 11825 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #20 on: 01/14/2013 07:30 PM »
Where is this FH core only being good for 3-5 launches coming from?

It is an "if"

Offline yg1968

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #21 on: 01/14/2013 07:39 PM »
But I thought Musk had made it clear that he was looking to eventually just become a manufacturer/supplier of vehicles, like a Boeing or Lockheed

Boeing and Lockheed are not suppliers of launch vehicles.

I think that Musk used the example of Boeing for planes (not for spacecrafts). Boeing doesn't operate its own planes.  So Musk was saying that maybe one day SpaceX will stop operating its own rockets and will only manufacture them.
« Last Edit: 01/14/2013 07:42 PM by yg1968 »

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #22 on: 01/14/2013 08:22 PM »
But I thought Musk had made it clear that he was looking to eventually just become a manufacturer/supplier of vehicles, like a Boeing or Lockheed

Boeing and Lockheed are not suppliers of launch vehicles.

I think that Musk used the example of Boeing for planes (not for spacecrafts). Boeing doesn't operate its own planes.  So Musk was saying that maybe one day SpaceX will stop operating its own rockets and will only manufacture them.
These days manufacturing planes is more profitable (i.e. is profitable) than operating planes. Still I doubt the same necessarily holds true for spaceflight. I would think that SpaceX would spin off operations only if it made business sense for them.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #23 on: 01/14/2013 10:06 PM »
Even if the idea works, the industry would be in its infancy. There would be no generally available pool of labor that would know how to operate SpaceX vehicles.

They may want to bootstrap that over time, but initially the only company able to offer a high quality service with SpaceX vehicles will be SpaceX.

Offline JMSC

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #24 on: 01/15/2013 04:05 AM »
But I thought Musk had made it clear that he was looking to eventually just become a manufacturer/supplier of vehicles, like a Boeing or Lockheed

Boeing and Lockheed are not suppliers of launch vehicles.

I think that Musk used the example of Boeing for planes (not for spacecrafts). Boeing doesn't operate its own planes.  So Musk was saying that maybe one day SpaceX will stop operating its own rockets and will only manufacture them.

But Boeing did operate it's own planes in the past.  In 1927 United Airlines which was founded in 1926 was purchased by Boeing and named Boeing Air Transport in 1927 for the purpose of operating and providing a user for Boeing aircraft.  The companies split in 1934, but not before United purchased the DC-3 in 1933, it was just too good to pass up.

Offline hkultala

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #25 on: 01/18/2013 07:45 AM »
Where is this FH core only being good for 3-5 launches coming from?

Kerolox containing inpurities that make the engines dirty over long usage?

methane and hydrogen burning more cleanly.

But Spacex seems to be solving this in with their upcoming methane-based engine, but until that is ready, only small amount of reuses?

Also, the market/capasity situation:

If they are given a contract which needs >80% of the full capasity of the FH, they have to launch it as expendable. So then they can use the stages that have already flown couple of times and are nearing end of their lifetime, this being their last launch, and ask the "full price of non-reusable FH".

Skylon cannot do this, it can only lift slightly overweight cargo by launching itself into something like 80% of orbital velocity and using an expendable (or later-recovered) second stage to push the payload into orbit. (but if they can recover the second stage with another flight, it should also be cheaper).

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #26 on: 01/18/2013 02:58 PM »
Merlin 1D is supposed to be reusable for a lot more launches than Merlin 1C, which was also supposed to be reusable for 10 or so launches.
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Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #27 on: 01/18/2013 06:46 PM »
Merlin 1D is supposed to be reusable for a lot more launches than Merlin 1C, which was also supposed to be reusable for 10 or so launches.

But Merlin 1C was/is only usable for a single launch. SpaceX has been unable to recover a single engine from the ocean to even attempt re-use.

Then there is the whole "we tested the engine too many times" issue. Don't want that to happen again.

Offline dcporter

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #28 on: 01/18/2013 09:15 PM »
But Merlin 1C was/is only usable for a single launch. SpaceX has been unable to recover a single engine from the ocean to even attempt re-use.

Actual recover is unrelated to his point about residue and you know it.

Then there is the whole "we tested the engine too many times" issue. Don't want that to happen again.

That's not an "issue" it's a "maybe" until SpaceX, NASA or Jim says otherwise.

(Edit: toned down from "unsubstantiated rumor" to "substantiated rumor" to "maybe".)
« Last Edit: 01/18/2013 09:24 PM by dcporter »

Offline Karloss12

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #29 on: 01/21/2013 10:04 PM »
Where is this FH core only being good for 3-5 launches coming from?

Kerolox containing inpurities that make the engines dirty over long usage?

methane and hydrogen burning more cleanly.

But Spacex seems to be solving this in with their upcoming methane-based engine, but until that is ready, only small amount of reuses?

Also, the market/capasity situation:

If they are given a contract which needs >80% of the full capasity of the FH, they have to launch it as expendable. So then they can use the stages that have already flown couple of times and are nearing end of their lifetime, this being their last launch, and ask the "full price of non-reusable FH".

Skylon cannot do this, it can only lift slightly overweight cargo by launching itself into something like 80% of orbital velocity and using an expendable (or later-recovered) second stage to push the payload into orbit. (but if they can recover the second stage with another flight, it should also be cheaper).


A few of months ago I commented on what the Merlin 1E would look like or at least the replacement for the Merlin 1D.  There was allot of "the Merlin 1D is designed for 're-usability'" and that other than a few small incremental there will be no replacement for the Merlin 1D.

But that is rubbish.  The first F9 to successfully land will be the equivalent of a tiger moth.  It will simply prove the concept of Elons chosen method of re-usability.  In no time SpaceX will have flogged off the Merlin engine to some sucker so that he can invest the cash from this sale in developing a more suitable engine for re-usability.  Other major improvements to the core will upgrade the F9 to the equivalent of a spitfire.

I'm going for a 8th "if" from Jim here.  Bring it on!

(It's not even worth trying to guess what comes after the spitfire....)

Skylon will follow a similar path.  They will develop this engine.  And some prototype test craft to strap it to.  Through incremental steps it will be upgraded to launch satellites into LEO.  Of course there will have to be continual projections during these upgrades showing that it will become financially viable.  Otherwise they will have to find another application for the engine.  I understand the earths diameter is to small for for Skylon to become viable for passenger flights (unless the London to Auckland Route becomes more popular).  If all else fails they have a really good heat exchanger that will surely be useful for something none aerospace related.
« Last Edit: 01/21/2013 10:10 PM by Karloss12 »

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #30 on: 01/21/2013 10:38 PM »
Skylon will follow a similar path.  They will develop this engine.  And some prototype test craft to strap it to.  Through incremental steps it will be upgraded to launch satellites into LEO. 

Are you writing what you predict will happen, or what you hope will happen, or what the Skylon people have said they will do?

Because it does not appear to match their official aims... They seem to be going for "orbit or bust", no mention of any incremental vehicles. And that is at the source for my greatest skepticism - not starting with a suborbital/1st stage vehicle and then moving on.

Offline 93143

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #31 on: 01/21/2013 10:40 PM »
Skylon cannot do this, it can only lift slightly overweight cargo by launching itself into something like 80% of orbital velocity and using an expendable (or later-recovered) second stage to push the payload into orbit. (but if they can recover the second stage with another flight, it should also be cheaper).

Suborbital deploy with an upper stage doubles Skylon's LEO payload.

New SUS without retrieval:  $70M upper stage + $5M launch + $5M amortization + $3M self-ferry = $83M
SUS (10-flight lifetime) with retrieval:  $7M  + $10M + $10M + $3M = $30M
Slated-to-be-retired SUS:  $7M + $5M + $5M +$3M = $20M

Numbers (except the self-ferry cost) assume a nominal development program and REL's nominal market projection, and no impact on launch cost due to the inclusion of the upper stage.  Self-ferry cost is assumed without evidence to be $100/kg of vehicle orbital capacity, and 10,000 km downrange is probably two flights to get back.  Alternately, it could be towed by another aircraft...

It's true that you can't quite do this for GSO missions, but you can still expend the upper stage for a boost in payload, and if the stage was going to be retired anyway there's no reason not to.

...

As for Falcon Heavy's payload with full reusability, 80% is IMO hopelessly optimistic at this point.  Musk has mentioned 50%, but I'm not sure how many stages that's supposed to be good for...
« Last Edit: 01/24/2013 09:22 PM by 93143 »

Offline Karloss12

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #32 on: 01/22/2013 11:57 AM »
Skylon will follow a similar path.  They will develop this engine.  And some prototype test craft to strap it to.  Through incremental steps it will be upgraded to launch satellites into LEO. 

Are you writing what you predict will happen, or what you hope will happen, or what the Skylon people have said they will do?

Because it does not appear to match their official aims... They seem to be going for "orbit or bust", no mention of any incremental vehicles. And that is at the source for my greatest skepticism - not starting with a suborbital/1st stage vehicle and then moving on.

Somewhere between between what I predict and what I hope will happen. :-)

But if their going for "Orbit or Bust", I'd go for the later.  But I think the engine will be quite advanced when this happens so think other applications for the engine will arrise.  In some ways I think that with the published image of the Skylon craft being so undetailed and over futuristic, I wonder if they have had other applications in mind from the beginning.

Unthought through idea here, but could a Skylon type engine be used as the centre engine of an FH type launcher?  So it breaths air during the recovery stage (and part of its ascent).

Offline mlindner

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #33 on: 01/22/2013 08:55 PM »
Unthought through idea here, but could a Skylon type engine be used as the centre engine of an FH type launcher?  So it breaths air during the recovery stage (and part of its ascent).

Elon has stated several times that he really doesn't like the idea of air breathing engines for orbital vehicles. That they're basically "dead weight."
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #34 on: 01/22/2013 09:18 PM »
Unthought through idea here, but could a Skylon type engine be used as the centre engine of an FH type launcher?  So it breaths air during the recovery stage (and part of its ascent).

The idea is not new, and it has shot down many times. The point of a rocket is to get out of the atmosphere as fast as possible, so for the small amount of time spent in the atmosphere you would save very little mass and just add a lot of complexity. Not worth it.

Offline 93143

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #35 on: 01/23/2013 07:45 PM »
with the published image of the Skylon craft being so undetailed and over futuristic

http://www.iafastro.net/download/congress/IAC-10/DVD/full/data/abstract.pdf/IAC-10.D2.4.7.brief.pdf

Just because it looks retro-futuristic doesn't mean it's some sort of artist's conception...
« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 07:47 PM by 93143 »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Reusable Falcon Heavy vice Skylon.
« Reply #36 on: 01/23/2013 07:51 PM »
with the published image of the Skylon craft being so undetailed and over futuristic

http://www.iafastro.net/download/congress/IAC-10/DVD/full/data/abstract.pdf/IAC-10.D2.4.7.brief.pdf

Just because it looks retro-futuristic doesn't mean it's some sort of artist's conception...
It looks like an obese SR-71. ;)
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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