Author Topic: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?  (Read 7501 times)

Online Asteroza

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Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« on: 12/04/2014 06:38 AM »
So, the landing barge hype machine is in full swing, but a recent topic made me wonder about something.

Sea Launch is mothballing their ocean launch mobile launch platform and command/resupply ship pair (Odyssey and Commander) due to slack demand until 2016 (plus the ships aren't equipped for shore power so they burn fuel while in port otherwise). Considering potential supply issues with Zenit and Ukrainian politics, they may not have many customers beyond 2016.

A quick gander at the aft deck of Odyssey appears to have a similar size to the landing barge, if the Odyssey erector strongback is retracted and the hangar bay closed.

How desperate is Sea Launch to pay off the costs of the hulls? Would they be open to crossfitting Odyssey and Commander for Zenit and F9R ops? With F9R first stage RTLS from an equatorial launch, recovery at sea on Odyssey, transfer of stages at sea (which Sea Launch did practice), and F9R second stages and payloads stored on Commander for a multi launch campaign, one might be able to make a convincing argument for leasing the Sea Launch ships for F9R equatorial ops. This hinges on the cost of the crossfit, the costs involved on field mounting the second stage and payload with minimal first stage refurb, how many "reloads" Commander can hold for a given campaign, and the equatorial launch deltaV/payload margin gained for a F9R launch with RTLS.

Thoughts?

Offline Jcc

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #1 on: 12/04/2014 10:43 AM »
The odyssey may be too expensive to attempt a stage landing on, in case it damages the ship.

Besides, if the barge works why use something else? They don't need to land at random locations in the middle of the ocean, just a few hundred miles offshore near the launch site.

Offline Dudely

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #2 on: 12/04/2014 11:57 AM »
My thinking is if you want to upgrade the barge why not attempt a boot-forward? Launch from the sea 300 miles west of the normal launch site and recover the stage on land!

Hey, it would save a lot of fuel ;).

Offline go4mars

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #3 on: 12/04/2014 12:28 PM »
My thinking is if you want to upgrade the barge why not attempt a boot-forward? Launch from the sea 300 miles west of the normal launch site and recover the stage on land!

Hey, it would save a lot of fuel ;).
Why would you need to bring it back to land?  Launch from an equatorial barge, land your stages on other equatorial barge(s). 
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Offline Dudely

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #4 on: 12/04/2014 01:34 PM »
My thinking is if you want to upgrade the barge why not attempt a boot-forward? Launch from the sea 300 miles west of the normal launch site and recover the stage on land!

Hey, it would save a lot of fuel ;).
Why would you need to bring it back to land?  Launch from an equatorial barge, land your stages on other equatorial barge(s).

. . . To put another payload on it.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #5 on: 12/04/2014 08:53 PM »
My thinking is if you want to upgrade the barge why not attempt a boot-forward? Launch from the sea 300 miles west of the normal launch site and recover the stage on land!

Hey, it would save a lot of fuel ;).
Why would you need to bring it back to land?  Launch from an equatorial barge, land your stages on other equatorial barge(s).

. . . To put another payload on it.

...And that's why you have the a processing platform with ready-payloads nearby :) (IIRC the Commander has the capability to store and I think maintain a second launch vehicle on-board. Might be possible to do horizontal integration there?)

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #6 on: 12/04/2014 09:05 PM »
SpaceX is focused on cost and willing to sacrifice performance to lower cost.  Launching from a floating equatorial platform would be too expensive to be worth it.  I think SpaceX has demonstrated they would rather just use a bigger rocket.  And I think that's the right decision.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #7 on: 12/04/2014 09:24 PM »
SpaceX is focused on cost and willing to sacrifice performance to lower cost.  Launching from a floating equatorial platform would be too expensive to be worth it.  I think SpaceX has demonstrated they would rather just use a bigger rocket.  And I think that's the right decision.

In the end its a "call" that has to be made by the company in question. As always the MAIN question that has to be answered is simply is that little bit of extra "efficiency" worth the cost? Launching from near or on the equator is more "effcient" but so far nothing seem to counter the extra costs of a dedicated platform for either launch or landing far out to sea with no nearby support or transporation facilties.

This changes somewhat if there ARE such facilties available and regularly usable, but how "much" is a serious question. SpaceX is using a barge beause they have to, not particularly because they want to though they seem open to the possibility it might actualy enhance their operations. (Remember they at some point want to recover the core stage of an FH and those are going to be way to far down-range for boost-back)

At the same time, as pointed out above, SpaceX is NOT the kind of company to push for those last little bits of efficiency at a greater cost. That's not their business model.

SeaLaunch never made that much sense to me because its a rather expensive way to gain only a little bit of payload and a lot of headaches. I was part of an organization that ran some actual numbers on the idea of running an RLV operation out on the open ocean and it ONLY makes sense if you don't have a usable island already plugged into the global transporation network or a specific reason for not being able to use such an island. And then only once you reach a certain level of in-place infrastructure and operations.
(None of you 'facilities' or support infrastructure move in this case, ONLY your payloads, supplies and personnel. Otherwise it doesn't work)

I don't see a way to "upgrade" the landing barge really because even the idea of using it to launch the first stage "back" to the original launch site has too many issues attached. I don't see this helping the flight rate either so I suspect it will remain a "used-when-they-have-to" option only.

Randy
« Last Edit: 12/04/2014 09:25 PM by RanulfC »
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Dudely

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #8 on: 12/05/2014 12:16 PM »
I was mostly being cheeky.

I read a paper recently where they postulated making a RLV by launching from a stratolaunch plane that has flown west so you wouldn't need a boostback. Then I saw this thread and the first post was arguably even more outlandish than this, so I just mashed two outlandish ideas together to get one REALLY great idea ;).

That's how this armchair rocket engineer thing works, right?
« Last Edit: 12/05/2014 12:17 PM by Dudely »

Offline cscott

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #9 on: 12/17/2014 02:32 PM »
I would have thought that the unveil of the landing barge would have put all these "expensive ship" theories to rest.  As I (and others) have long said, this landing barge is not some super-special custom expensive thing.  It's literally the cheapest thing that could work.  Stock barge, stock thusters, slap some steel on top and paint an X.

It's not a catamaran, it's not a semi-submersible, it's not a converted oil rig.  From the evidence, SpaceX has no interest in an *expensive* boat.  They like the cheap stuff.

Offline mheney

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #10 on: 12/17/2014 03:12 PM »
Even simpler is forgetting about water entirely.  Launch from Spaceport America in NM, land near Lubbock, TX.  The Russians and Chinese use inland launch sites in remote desert areas; it's not like it's an unthinkable concept ...

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #11 on: 12/17/2014 04:04 PM »
Even simpler is forgetting about water entirely.  Launch from Spaceport America in NM, land near Lubbock, TX.  The Russians and Chinese use inland launch sites in remote desert areas; it's not like it's an unthinkable concept ...

Yes but the future is BFR. And you cannot do that with these. You need to launch and land at locations with access to sea transport.

Offline oiorionsbelt

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #12 on: 12/17/2014 05:31 PM »
Even simpler is forgetting about water entirely.  Launch from Spaceport America in NM, land near Lubbock, TX.  The Russians and Chinese use inland launch sites in remote desert areas; it's not like it's an unthinkable concept ...

Yes but the future is BFR. And you cannot do that with these. You need to launch and land at locations with access to sea transport.
Why? Ms Shotwell said BFR would be constructed at launch site, so no need for sea transport.
Not that I think they'll launch BFR fron New Mexico.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #13 on: 12/17/2014 10:28 PM »
Even simpler is forgetting about water entirely.  Launch from Spaceport America in NM, land near Lubbock, TX.  The Russians and Chinese use inland launch sites in remote desert areas; it's not like it's an unthinkable concept ...

Yes but the future is BFR. And you cannot do that with these. You need to launch and land at locations with access to sea transport.
Why? Ms Shotwell said BFR would be constructed at launch site, so no need for sea transport.
Not that I think they'll launch BFR fron New Mexico.

My argument was, that it is not practical to launch from Spaceport America. Unless it is meant they produce them there and do the first launch from there which does not make any sense for me.

Online speedevil

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #14 on: 12/25/2014 05:24 AM »
Surely the obvious question to 'beyond the landing barge' is 'another landing barge'.

If you can recover F9R - you're going to want to recover both outer cores of F9H. (for payloads without the margin to boostback).

Barges and 'low time' thrusters I imagine could be resold for a very decent fraction of their purchasing price.

It's arguable that the only significant mods are the wings.

There certainly is no raised deck - grid structure, or anything.

The deck is specced at 4500lb/sqft - about a 3 foot by 3 foot pad would easily cope with a hard 'one foot' landing, with some margin.
And even if the deck is damaged - either by point overload, or rocket blast in the ~2s when it gets hot - it's literally a several hour repair with  two guys with a welder, and a few tins of paint.


Offline Burninate

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #15 on: 12/25/2014 05:56 AM »
Surely the obvious question to 'beyond the landing barge' is 'another landing barge'.

If you can recover F9R - you're going to want to recover both outer cores of F9H. (for payloads without the margin to boostback).

Barges and 'low time' thrusters I imagine could be resold for a very decent fraction of their purchasing price.

It's arguable that the only significant mods are the wings.

There certainly is no raised deck - grid structure, or anything.

The deck is specced at 4500lb/sqft - about a 3 foot by 3 foot pad would easily cope with a hard 'one foot' landing, with some margin.
And even if the deck is damaged - either by point overload, or rocket blast in the ~2s when it gets hot - it's literally a several hour repair with  two guys with a welder, and a few tins of paint.
Boostback is relatively trivial for the outer two cores of F9H due to the stage mass ratios, much easier than for the F9R first stage - there's not much horizontal velocity, or distance, relative to the launchpad, at the time they separate.  Landing still takes fuel, but it would on a barge too.  For a ~10T/30T payload (roughly equivalent, 10.8:10.6 total dV) with the numbers I've got, it's the difference between ~2500m/s and ~4100m/s expended at time of separation, with much of the first ~1500m/s in both cases spent increasing vertical elevation rather than horizontal velocity.

They may still aim for two more landing barges, but the utility would be more about liability and risk assessment, than it would be about increasing payload.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2014 06:36 AM by Burninate »

Offline Ludus

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #16 on: 01/06/2015 12:18 PM »
 I wonder if after successfully landing down range they will move the landing barge closer to the launch pad before attempting a land return. The mobility of the landing pad allows them to demonstrate bringing it down a few miles off the cape before coming all the way back.

Offline rpapo

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Re: Upgrade beyond the landing barge?
« Reply #17 on: 01/06/2015 12:55 PM »
I wonder if after successfully landing down range they will move the landing barge closer to the launch pad before attempting a land return. The mobility of the landing pad allows them to demonstrate bringing it down a few miles off the cape before coming all the way back.
Sounds like a logical test, especially since it will require a 99% boostback burn, something they have not yet come close to.

That said, SpaceX has been known to play leapfrog with logical steps at times.
« Last Edit: 01/06/2015 12:57 PM by rpapo »
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