Author Topic: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing  (Read 34401 times)


Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #1 on: 03/19/2015 11:39 PM »
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/03/spaceport-america-spacex-reusability-testing/

Overview of what's been done so far and the aligning of the future plans.
Great update Chris thanks! :)
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Offline bubbagret

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #2 on: 03/19/2015 11:56 PM »
Great article!

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #3 on: 03/20/2015 12:03 AM »
So are the cores switched?  Where's The Turkmenistan Sat core going to be while they are working on CRS6?  Is it going back to TX or CA?
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Offline SpaceX_MS

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #4 on: 03/20/2015 12:59 AM »
Really enjoyed reading that article. Great collation of the path in about 1,000 words! Great reference.

Offline SpaceXfan

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #5 on: 03/20/2015 02:42 AM »
I don't think people realize how much more is in this than "just" Spaceport America! Linked some of it in the other threads. Awesome article.

Offline northenarc

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #6 on: 03/20/2015 02:44 AM »
 Nice article. I have to wonder though if they'll actually use the first recovered stage in the long run, that stage will be historic, potentially Air and Space Museum worthy. I'd think they'd rather use the one from the Obrcomm launch in the summer when they uprate the engines and save the first one. (edit: maybe the SES-9 flight?)
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 02:53 AM by northenarc »

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #7 on: 03/20/2015 03:04 AM »
<rant, not "against" the last poster>

I love air and space museums, but it's more important that SpaceX concentrates on actually making history.  They are the only ones doing something about the future right now - the museums will come naturally after the fact, as a consequence.

Much too much effort is being put into glorifying small achievements in newspace.  Getting your stuff into the museum becomes a goal in and of itself, intended to "prove" that what you did was newsworthy - it's the tail wagging the dog.

Land on the moon first, make the achievement without thinking of museums, and it will become history, and be put in museums.

</rant>
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #8 on: 03/20/2015 03:04 AM »
Nice article. I have to wonder though if they'll actually use the first recovered stage in the long run, that stage will be historic, potentially Air and Space Museum worthy. I'd think they'd rather use the one from the Obrcomm launch in the summer when they uprate the engines and save the first one. (edit: maybe the SES-9 flight?)

The article suggests that both of the first two returned stages will be tested to their limits, after which I imagine they'll be disassembled and inspected for wear, cracks, etc, so there may not be much left of them but a pile of parts.

Offline clongton

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #9 on: 03/20/2015 10:48 AM »
Great article Chris, thanks. It's good to see Spaceport America being highlighted. That location has awesome potential. Virgin Galactic is already home-ported there and I think Xcor is or has considered it as well. Should SpaceX succeed in getting their upper stage to return intact, it would be an ideal landing location. I really don't see much difference between a Space Shuttle deorbiting across the continental US for a Florida landing and a Falcon upper stage deorbiting across the western US for a landing in New Mexico. I know that is pure speculation, but hey, that's the kind of out of the box thinking that SpaceX engages in on a daily basis, some of which they have already made reality.

100 years ago nobody envisioned so many passenger aircraft plying the skies that traffic control would become necessary. Who knows; perhaps one day we will see rocket ships depart from and return to Spaceport America on regularly scheduled flights as well. Is there a future for Spaceport America with the MCT? Who knows.  Once launch vehicles can RTLS on a consistent and regular basis then there is no longer any need to launch only from ocean east coast locations. Weather would almost *never* be a problem, either for launch or recovery. At least that is the kind of visioning of the far-thinking New Mexico Governor and Legislator. Kudos to them for investing in the future like that.

Great article Chris, thanks.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 11:12 AM by clongton »
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Offline abaddon

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #10 on: 03/20/2015 12:48 PM »
So are the cores switched?  Where's The Turkmenistan Sat core going to be while they are working on CRS6?  Is it going back to TX or CA?
As far as the second question goes, I am pretty sure I remember reading somewhere here that SpaceX has the ability to store one or more cores out of the HIF on or near CCAFS.  If you're wondering about the core needing to be worked on, I would imagine they can do that at the Cape.  They've done all kinds of hardware swaps without sending any cores back that I know of.

Since they are planning to recover CRS6, that means either the Turkmenistan core has the hardware to attach legs or they aren't switching cores.  My bet is on the latter.  Although, at some point, I would imagine all stages will support legs so they don't have to worry about core switching eliminating recovery.  Which begs the question of how much of a performance penalty there is for a core that can support legs, but has no legs...
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 12:54 PM by abaddon »

Offline abaddon

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #11 on: 03/20/2015 12:52 PM »
Also, this is a great article, full of tons of juicy details.  Well done!

SpaceX is clearly setting the stage (no pun intended) for what happens when they manage to recover a core, and their plans make a lot of sense.

I also wonder if this might be a public vote of confidence for Spaceport America, which has seen a lot of expenditure of public funds but has yet to host any serious use.  SpaceX conducting this kind of work there would be a welcome shot in the arm for those who want the Spaceport to be successful.


Offline AncientU

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #12 on: 03/20/2015 01:11 PM »
Seems to me the question is, what launch performance can they demonstrate within the ceilings/range authorized from Spaceport America?

They would like to get to max Q, I'd think... can that happen without violating the ceiling?  How many engines needed without second stage and reduced fuel load?  (3 might do it, but maybe 5 to more closely match normal launch loads on thrust structure)  Can they use a simple launch platform (with legs folded, of course)?

If so, they could do several launches of the booster and demo turn-around, etc., too.  Excellent RTLS practice, too.
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Yeah, we're looking to get some more details on that! Thanks for the nice words about the info above!

Offline Swoopert

Love the article Chris...Might it be worth mentioning that SLC-13 is now Landing Complex 1? (Space X posted a nice picture!)
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 02:01 PM by Swoopert »

Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #15 on: 03/20/2015 02:44 PM »
Nice article. I have to wonder though if they'll actually use the first recovered stage in the long run, that stage will be historic, potentially Air and Space Museum worthy. I'd think they'd rather use the one from the Obrcomm launch in the summer when they uprate the engines and save the first one. (edit: maybe the SES-9 flight?)

Recovery of a stage is not historic, it is a meaningless end.  Now, reuse of a recovered stage is a totally different thing.  When  the first reused stage is recovered, that is when  it secured a place in  museums

Offline abaddon

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #16 on: 03/20/2015 03:14 PM »
Recovery of a stage is not historic, it is a meaningless end.  Now, reuse of a recovered stage is a totally different thing.  When  the first reused stage is recovered, that is when  it secured a place in  museums

That's a little like saying that Apollo 8 wasn't historic when man first orbited the moon, what was historic was Apollo 11 when man landed on the moon.  If you think that way, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.

Assuming SpaceX ever successfully reuses a stage (I am not sure why they would need to recover that stage, but whatever), the preceding successful landing and recovery of that stage will be historic indeed.  If they never successfully reuse a stage, I agree it would greatly diminish the historic significance of that event.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 03:14 PM by abaddon »

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #17 on: 03/20/2015 03:16 PM »
Nice article. I have to wonder though if they'll actually use the first recovered stage in the long run, that stage will be historic, potentially Air and Space Museum worthy. I'd think they'd rather use the one from the Obrcomm launch in the summer when they uprate the engines and save the first one. (edit: maybe the SES-9 flight?)

Recovery of a stage is not historic, it is a meaningless end.  Now, reuse of a recovered stage is a totally different thing.  When  the first reused stage is recovered, that is when  it secured a place in  museums

Or to split hairs even further, when that stage has been reused as many times as SpaceX deems possible and thereby used up its entire economic/engineering value, THEN it can go to the museum.  ;)

Offline abaddon

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #18 on: 03/20/2015 03:24 PM »
Chris, a question regarding this from the article:
Quote
While efforts to achieve this goal are in the pipeline for the Upper Stage
My understanding was SpaceX has abandoned the idea of recovering S2 on F9.  Is that not the case?

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #19 on: 03/20/2015 03:30 PM »
Nice article. I have to wonder though if they'll actually use the first recovered stage in the long run, that stage will be historic, potentially Air and Space Museum worthy. I'd think they'd rather use the one from the Obrcomm launch in the summer when they uprate the engines and save the first one. (edit: maybe the SES-9 flight?)

The article suggests that both of the first two returned stages will be tested to their limits, after which I imagine they'll be disassembled and inspected for wear, cracks, etc, so there may not be much left of them but a pile of parts.

IMHO, they'll want need to establish a reliability baseline for marketing and insurance rates setting purposes.  That'll necessarily mean re-flying the same booster over and over.

They'll also want to establish a booster refurbishment program and tempo, which means the booster refurbishment will take progressively shorter time periods between flights as they refine their procedures. As the reflight program matures it may evolve into a systems diagnostics and post- and pre-flight testing regimen as opposed to a more extensive tear down program where the booster is shipped to TX and then sent back to NM.

Finally, I think we'll see the automated refueling and relaunch procedures also tested out in NM first.

Exactly so.

About a year ago, I outlined what I thought would be two phases for GH2 operations.  The first was R&D in order to enable first recovery.  This was overtaken by events, since things worked spectacularly well for SpaceX.

The second was a pathfinder for rapid reusability and high-cycle-count demonstrator, which is what we're about to see.   The fact that GH2 will start out with an already-flown vehicle is a huge boon to both these goals.

I didn't think much about the robotic handling, but especially since Elon mentioned fly-back from the barge, I agree - NM is the place to work on that, instead of on the real pad or barge.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #20 on: 03/20/2015 03:51 PM »

That's a little like saying that Apollo 8 wasn't historic when man first orbited the moon, what was historic was Apollo 11 when man landed on the moon.  If you think that way, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.

The equivalent of Apollo 8 for reuse has already happen, whether it was the Gemini 2 capsule, Columbia or STS-1 SRB's

Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #21 on: 03/20/2015 03:53 PM »

Finally, I think we'll see the automated refueling and relaunch procedures also tested out in NM first.

What "automated refueling procedures"?   Why would they be any different than what currently exists?

Offline Dudely

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #22 on: 03/20/2015 04:25 PM »

Finally, I think we'll see the automated refueling and relaunch procedures also tested out in NM first.

What "automated refueling procedures"?   Why would they be any different than what currently exists?

It's not just the refueling but all ground handling that they want to automate (where feasible, anyway).
We don't know "how" (hard to improve on something developed continuously for over 60 years. . . ), but we can guess as to "why".

They have stated that they expect to eventually have the capacity to launch twice per month, per pad, or 96 launches per year. If they are able to automate certain parts of launch preparations they can save a lot of money. I expect this will take them much longer than it takes them to actually increase launch rates.

I'm guessing they calculated that at some point they will be recovering and reusing enough % of cores and their factory will be spitting out second stages fast enough that their current ground crews will be overwhelmed, making more automation a necessity towards further increases in launch rates, rather than a simple cost savings.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 04:26 PM by Dudely »

Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #23 on: 03/20/2015 04:45 PM »

It's not just the refueling but all ground handling that they want to automate (where feasible, anyway).


It can't be anymore automated short of using driverless trucks and cranes.  The refueling is already automated.  The guys in the LCC aren't controlling valves, they are monitoring and commanding processes.   Roll to the pad and hook up is suppose to be an hour as it is, so what is to gain there?

Offline Dudely

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #24 on: 03/20/2015 05:00 PM »
Yes, of course there isn't anyone physically at the rocket moving valves.

If they used driverless vehicles it would mean the computers controlling them are able to make human-like decisions about their surroundings and that we are confident that these decisions are correct. If this was actually accomplished I can think of lots of other places where a human makes a decision that a computer could now make that decision with the same amount of confidence.

Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #25 on: 03/20/2015 05:03 PM »
Yes, of course there isn't anyone physically at the rocket moving valves.

If they used driverless vehicles it would mean the computers controlling them are able to make human-like decisions about their surroundings and that we are confident that these decisions are correct. If this was actually accomplished I can think of lots of other places where a human makes a decision that a computer could now make that decision with the same amount of confidence.


My point was there isn't anymore real automation they can add.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #26 on: 03/20/2015 05:09 PM »
Heh, you have to remember that this is the guy that is pushing for a Tesla recharging cable that is a "live snake" and hooks up to your car by itself.

Just because it's badass (to borrow the phrase).

I think the reference to "automated" was based on some old quote (or was it a job posting) that talked about the entire rocket processing... process.   

When I see (pictures of) stages being mated, there's always a bunch of people standing around giving directions to some unseen crane operator.  Then, once mated, so I hear, people crawl around making connections.  I mean, one of the main arguments given why rapid reuse is impossible is that my god just stage mating takes days.

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Offline sojourner

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #27 on: 03/20/2015 05:31 PM »
Per the article, is 2nd stage recovery back on the table?

Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #28 on: 03/20/2015 05:59 PM »
Then, once mated, so I hear, people crawl around making connections.  I mean, one of the main arguments given why rapid reuse is impossible is that my god just stage mating takes days.


Because connector pins recess or get bend, unless the pins are the size of a pinkie finger.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #29 on: 03/20/2015 06:01 PM »
Then, once mated, so I hear, people crawl around making connections.  I mean, one of the main arguments given why rapid reuse is impossible is that my god just stage mating takes days.


Because connector pins recess or get bend, unless the pins are the size of a pinkie finger.
Which is where a more automated design comes in.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #30 on: 03/20/2015 06:11 PM »

Which is where a more automated design comes in.

And how are they going accommodate all the connectors with scores of these fat fingered pins?

Offline RonM

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #31 on: 03/20/2015 06:22 PM »
Then, once mated, so I hear, people crawl around making connections.  I mean, one of the main arguments given why rapid reuse is impossible is that my god just stage mating takes days.


Because connector pins recess or get bend, unless the pins are the size of a pinkie finger.
Which is where a more automated design comes in.

It is very difficult to move large structures around with any precision. I don't think automation is the answer, since that would be difficult and expense to develop. I think a new look at engineering to reduce the time would be the best move.

Do all the connecters have to line up at once? Seems to me you would want to mechanically connect the stages with a few pins and then connect wiring harnesses through access hatches. Am I missing something in this discussion?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #32 on: 03/20/2015 06:37 PM »

Which is where a more automated design comes in.

And how are they going accommodate all the connectors with scores of these fat fingered pins?

Unlike other manufacturers SpaceX gives each stage its own avionics. That greatly reduces need for interconnnection. One serial data link can be enough. Make that three for triple redundancy.


Offline spacetech

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #33 on: 03/20/2015 06:48 PM »
Yes, of course there isn't anyone physically at the rocket moving valves.

If they used driverless vehicles it would mean the computers controlling them are able to make human-like decisions about their surroundings and that we are confident that these decisions are correct. If this was actually accomplished I can think of lots of other places where a human makes a decision that a computer could now make that decision with the same amount of confidence.


My point was there isn't anymore real automation they can add.
IMHO One area where they could achieve some improvement is in automating the alignment process.
1. Gantry crane picks up the F9 first stage from the recovery transporter (horizontal)
2. Gantry places the F9 first stage onto the TEL within required tolerance,
3. Gantry places and aligns the F9 second stage, then payload & fairing is aligned.

This is somewhat similar to how LM do the F-35 assembly with Electronic Mating and Alignment System. SpaceX currently use a laser alignment system, but I'm not sure how automated it is.

Autonomous driverless vehicles are great, but not an efficiency boost when dealing with high value infrastructure and payloads. They'd require constant monitoring, Same reason they don't use these autonomous vehicles around an airport ramp. Its too easy to do millions of dollars in damage.

Offline spacetech

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #34 on: 03/20/2015 06:57 PM »
Because connector pins recess or get bend, unless the pins are the size of a pinkie finger.
Which is where a more automated design comes in.

It is very difficult to move large structures around with any precision. I don't think automation is the answer, since that would be difficult and expense to develop. I think a new look at engineering to reduce the time would be the best move.

Do all the connecters have to line up at once? Seems to me you would want to mechanically connect the stages with a few pins and then connect wiring harnesses through access hatches. Am I missing something in this discussion?
I don't think moving large structures around is the concern when it comes to mating cables etc. If they really wanted to connect cables more efficiently, they'd use a "reference attachment point" to connect a small robot arm, and push the connector in tight.

As you say, "new look at engineering" is often better than "just automate it"

After a few incidents of Murphy's law, including the famous one with Col. John Stapp on the rocket sled, almost all connectors are designed to go in one way, with an alignment guide. The problem is that if a pin is out of alignment, there is a real risk of damage to the mating pin of the connector. It will get bent out of position even more. Automated hookup would not solve these issues.

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #35 on: 03/20/2015 07:24 PM »
Personally, I'm a BIG fan of building things with Murphy firmly in mind.

If something can be screwed up in one way, find an interlocking way to do the same task using a different way of doing the same thing, and see if that can be incorporated into the proposed system, without adding excessive size mass or weakening the overall system.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #36 on: 03/20/2015 07:24 PM »

Which is where a more automated design comes in.

And how are they going accommodate all the connectors with scores of these fat fingered pins?
This kind of work is what I do.

There are ways, and it's a combination  of interface design and automation.

You certainly don't want to try to design robots that try to mate standard MIL connectors which were designed for human hands.

But if designed for automated processing, it's not a hard challenge.
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Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #37 on: 03/20/2015 07:40 PM »

That's a little like saying that Apollo 8 wasn't historic when man first orbited the moon, what was historic was Apollo 11 when man landed on the moon.  If you think that way, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that point.

The equivalent of Apollo 8 for reuse has already happen, whether it was the Gemini 2 capsule, Columbia or STS-1 SRB's

Good point Jim,

     But I would think that the first recovered booster stage, (Non-solid fueled) that is reused, successfully, would be something of a historical moment, wouldn't you say?
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #38 on: 03/20/2015 07:42 PM »
Designing connectors which are easy to attach autonomously is super easy. Refueling would be harder, but autonomous aerial refueling has been done before:

On the ground, I'd imagine it'd be a lot easier. I mean heck, robotic Progress refuels ISS /in space/, how hard can it be on the ground? Definitely doable with a sufficiently motivated and funded group.
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Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #39 on: 03/20/2015 07:42 PM »

Finally, I think we'll see the automated refueling and relaunch procedures also tested out in NM first.

What "automated refueling procedures"?   Why would they be any different than what currently exists?

This one has me a bit confused too.  While you may be able to reduce the overall crew needed to refuel a rocket, automating the whole procedure is probably a VERY BAD idea.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #40 on: 03/20/2015 07:45 PM »
Here ya go:
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #41 on: 03/20/2015 07:52 PM »

Which is where a more automated design comes in.

And how are they going accommodate all the connectors with scores of these fat fingered pins?
This kind of work is what I do.

There are ways, and it's a combination  of interface design and automation.

You certainly don't want to try to design robots that try to mate standard MIL connectors which were designed for human hands.

But if designed for automated processing, it's not a hard challenge.

Meek,

     No offense intended, but there are just WAY to many natural variables that could cause serious problems with an automated refueling system for rockets.  I can envision how technology could reduce the overall workload so that the refuel, checkout and relaunch would run similar to that of an airliner's proceedure, (It'll never be as simple as there is an exponentially greater number of things that could go boom or otherwise kill the ground crew as well as those on the space craft) but never fully automating the ground servicing.

     Space, on the other hand, could have a great deal of automation built into the system, but would still requitre a number of people still in the loop for orbital or deep space refueling.  (Again, a lot of things that can go boom, but vacume helps reduce the risk, slightly).

     I'm just not quite sure where you're going with the automated refueling idea.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #42 on: 03/20/2015 07:58 PM »
The auto refueling idea comes from the idea of refueling a landed first stage on the barge and flying it back to land.

A little nuts, but not impossible.
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Chris, a question regarding this from the article:
Quote
While efforts to achieve this goal are in the pipeline for the Upper Stage
My understanding was SpaceX has abandoned the idea of recovering S2 on F9.  Is that not the case?

During a recent chat I was told they were looking at some solutions to that problem. Didn't say what, understandably, but that is why I worded it as I did.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #44 on: 03/20/2015 08:04 PM »

Unlike other manufacturers SpaceX gives each stage its own avionics. That greatly reduces need for interconnnection. One serial data link can be enough. Make that three for triple redundancy.


Still doesn't change anything.  The upper stage still controls the whole stack.  And there are range safety connections and telemetry too.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #45 on: 03/20/2015 08:06 PM »

This kind of work is what I do.

There are ways, and it's a combination  of interface design and automation.

You certainly don't want to try to design robots that try to mate standard MIL connectors which were designed for human hands.

But if designed for automated processing, it's not a hard challenge.

Just takes massively large connectors.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #46 on: 03/20/2015 08:09 PM »

This kind of work is what I do.

There are ways, and it's a combination  of interface design and automation.

You certainly don't want to try to design robots that try to mate standard MIL connectors which were designed for human hands.

But if designed for automated processing, it's not a hard challenge.

Just takes massively large connectors.
Or you use a different connector type.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #47 on: 03/20/2015 08:14 PM »
Or you use a different connector type.

Show me robust automated connections for around 100 conductors that are less than 5x the profile of existing connectors.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 08:15 PM by Jim »

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #48 on: 03/20/2015 08:20 PM »
Why hundred? Other ways to do it.

add:
I apologize for starting this distraction. Down thread it's called out that Falcon has these connectors. That's the point that should be raised here. Redirect the "why does it have to be this way" to a Q/A and/or "potential future change" thread. If it matters, my issue was about highly intrusive vehicle health sensing signalling requirements not matching such a connector approach, might not fit this.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2015 04:48 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #49 on: 03/20/2015 08:27 PM »
Why hundred? Other ways to do it.

that is about the rough number between stages.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #50 on: 03/20/2015 08:51 PM »
Here ya go:


Just for your information Fulematics has been at this since before 2003 and has gone through more than one company reconstruction. That they have not been able to sell this "revolutionary" product after all this time should be a warning that it is not easy.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #51 on: 03/20/2015 09:34 PM »
Why hundred? Other ways to do it.
True.

It's always seems odd to me that rocket stages seem to like a lot of separate wires (the "parallel" data approach) while transmitting data on serial buses.

I can only presume this design decision (and it is a design decision, not a law of the universe) dates from the time when any electronics were complex, heavy and power hungry. Direct wiring from sensors and actuators made sense.

Today sensors and actuators with built in networking through things like the CANbus standard are common, lightweight and support up to around 2000 devices.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #52 on: 03/20/2015 10:04 PM »
Why hundred? Other ways to do it.
True.

It's always seems odd to me that rocket stages seem to like a lot of separate wires (the "parallel" data approach) while transmitting data on serial buses.

I can only presume this design decision (and it is a design decision, not a law of the universe) dates from the time when any electronics were complex, heavy and power hungry. Direct wiring from sensors and actuators made sense.

Today sensors and actuators with built in networking through things like the CANbus standard are common, lightweight and support up to around 2000 devices.

One of the things at the beginning of my career was needing to replace a large connector with an even larger connector for a few more conductors. I got all kinds of reasons, most poor (we always did it that way) and few good (asynch trigger/level). In the end, the connectors had no conductors (optical), solved some ground loop issues, and added the equivalent of several hundred more conductors beyond the the original few more.

Sampling and control for this is non trivial. But not ill conceived. When you automate checkout of a vehicle, you  have a much greater need for control/sense then even a hundred conductors provide for.

The auto/aircraft vehicle manufacturers have learned this too.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #53 on: 03/20/2015 10:39 PM »

Unlike other manufacturers SpaceX gives each stage its own avionics. That greatly reduces need for interconnnection. One serial data link can be enough. Make that three for triple redundancy.


Still doesn't change anything.  The upper stage still controls the whole stack.  And there are range safety connections and telemetry too.

There are many ways to approach the problem.

1. No need for hundreds of pins.  That's got to be historical baggage.  Serialize the data.

2. There's no reason to have the second stage drive the first.  The first is already fully autonomous, has identical avionics, and knows all there is to know.  It can make the same decisions the second stage does, can drop it off within an envelope that the second stage can continue from.  Given that the first stage has to continue flight anyway, I don't see why it has to go through the shock of "switching commanders" on stage separation.  The first stage should be working like a carrier airplane.

This is another case of historical baggage.  An EELV is a single vehicle that's dropping parts until only the upper stage is left.  That's why it's built the way it is.   An F9R is a different type of beast.  A highly reusable first stage that continues flight and RTLS right away, and a an upper stage that even if it comes back, does so much later.  They have different operations cycles, and are their own self-contained entities.  Fewer failure modes this way, too - rockets have been lost because of failure of inter-stage connectors. (can't remember which right now)

3. Look at spacecraft dockings.  Connections are made, after the two heavy bodies mate.  And those are free-flying vehicles.  You can do much better if the bodies are guided.  You can do precision guidance by the jig, or you can have pilot pins and such on the flight hardware.

4. The connectors can be rigidly connected to the master bodies and everything connect at once, or you can have them execute a secondary motion after the mechanical mate.  Either way, if you pre-plan for automation, it's alot easier than if you try to make automation work in a less structured environment.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #54 on: 03/20/2015 10:59 PM »
I remember reading years (possibly a decade) ago now that SpaceX was using an industrial Ethernet variant for all control system communications.  In this case you are dealing with a packet based serial line with no more than eight wires.  In theory, one small connector between stages is all you need for full communication.  Of course, there will likely be triple redundant paths, but you are still only talking three connectors.

SpaceX obviously has advanced avionics on the first stage or you wouldn't see it trying to land.  How those avionics play in to initial flight is another matter.  Is it a network with the upper stage calling to shots and the first stage just carrying them out or are both stages working together?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #55 on: 03/20/2015 11:06 PM »
Could the data transfer be done wirelessly?
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #56 on: 03/20/2015 11:10 PM »
Here ya go:


Just for your information Fulematics has been at this since before 2003 and has gone through more than one company reconstruction. That they have not been able to sell this "revolutionary" product after all this time should be a warning that it is not easy.
Not easy given their market, which is existing, unmodified cars. Also, refueling your own car is easy.

Making the business case close may not be easy, but that most certainly doesn't mean it's especially difficult technically. Two very, very different things.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #57 on: 03/20/2015 11:21 PM »
Honestly, the electrical connector is the easy bit of this whole thing.

Something like a self-aligning Magsafe connector with more (and stiffer) pins and a solenoid or servo locking mechanism to ensure a tight fit.

It's not, um, rocket science.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #58 on: 03/20/2015 11:41 PM »

1. No need for hundreds of pins.  That's got to be historical baggage.  Serialize the data.

2. There's no reason to have the second stage drive the first.  The first is already fully autonomous, has identical avionics, and knows all there is to know.  It can make the same decisions the second stage does, can drop it off within an envelope that the second stage can continue from.  Given that the first stage has to continue flight anyway, I don't see why it has to go through the shock of "switching commanders" on stage separation.  The first stage should be working like a carrier airplane.

This is another case of historical baggage.  An EELV is a single vehicle that's dropping parts until only the upper stage is left.  That's why it's built the way it is.   An F9R is a different type of beast.  A highly reusable first stage that continues flight and RTLS right away, and a an upper stage that even if it comes back, does so much later.  They have different operations cycles, and are their own self-contained entities.  Fewer failure modes this way, too - rockets have been lost because of failure of inter-stage connectors. (can't remember which right now)

3. Look at spacecraft dockings.  Connections are made, after the two heavy bodies mate.  And those are free-flying vehicles.  You can do much better if the bodies are guided.  You can do precision guidance by the jig, or you can have pilot pins and such on the flight hardware.

4. The connectors can be rigidly connected to the master bodies and everything connect at once, or you can have them execute a secondary motion after the mechanical mate.  Either way, if you pre-plan for automation, it's alot easier than if you try to make automation work in a less structured environment.



Quit with the flippant responses.   It is not historical baggage.  You have nothing to base that assertion on.

1.   for the very many reasons I listed. 

2.  You have been proven wrong on this over and over. How many times do I have say it. Reality is that the second stage controls the first. The first stage is passive until after separation.  That is a fact.

3. Most connections are manual by the crew internally and there are very few conductors.

4.  I am not ask how to do it, but how to accommodate all the conductors.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 11:45 PM by Jim »

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #59 on: 03/20/2015 11:44 PM »
Honestly, the electrical connector is the easy bit of this whole thing.

Something like a self-aligning Magsafe connector with more (and stiffer) pins and a solenoid or servo locking mechanism to ensure a tight fit.


And how small would that connector be without the magsafe feature?  That is my point.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #60 on: 03/20/2015 11:44 PM »
Number of pins isn't a huge concern. You can use an array of pins to get as many as you like, such as this one from an automatic tool changer.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #61 on: 03/20/2015 11:46 PM »
Honestly, the electrical connector is the easy bit of this whole thing.

Something like a self-aligning Magsafe connector with more (and stiffer) pins and a solenoid or servo locking mechanism to ensure a tight fit.


And how small would that connector be without the magsafe feature?  That is my point.
Not that hard. Just have a guide feature (like a funnel for in-air refueling), could be just a simple bevel (depending on how many degrees of freedom you have).

This is just engineering. It's not especially difficult compared to everything else. The real difficulty lies elsewhere (although you would want to spend some resources to ensure you have a well-engineered connector).
« Last Edit: 03/20/2015 11:47 PM by Robotbeat »
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #62 on: 03/20/2015 11:51 PM »
But I don't think SpaceX is really talking about totally automated mating of stages and stuff. For simple things like plugging in some cables, no reason not to just have someone there to plug it in (although mechanical mating of the stages probably would benefit from a big jig to make it faster).

I think the auto-refueling idea was mentioned due to the off-handed remark that the first stage would refuel on the unmanned barge and fly back to land. It wasn't about auto-stacking of stages.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #63 on: 03/21/2015 01:55 AM »

1. No need for hundreds of pins.  That's got to be historical baggage.  Serialize the data.

2. There's no reason to have the second stage drive the first.  The first is already fully autonomous, has identical avionics, and knows all there is to know.  It can make the same decisions the second stage does, can drop it off within an envelope that the second stage can continue from.  Given that the first stage has to continue flight anyway, I don't see why it has to go through the shock of "switching commanders" on stage separation.  The first stage should be working like a carrier airplane.

This is another case of historical baggage.  An EELV is a single vehicle that's dropping parts until only the upper stage is left.  That's why it's built the way it is.   An F9R is a different type of beast.  A highly reusable first stage that continues flight and RTLS right away, and a an upper stage that even if it comes back, does so much later.  They have different operations cycles, and are their own self-contained entities.  Fewer failure modes this way, too - rockets have been lost because of failure of inter-stage connectors. (can't remember which right now)

<snipped>


Quit with the flippant responses.   It is not historical baggage.  You have nothing to base that assertion on.

1.   for the very many reasons I listed. 

2.  You have been proven wrong on this over and over. How many times do I have say it. Reality is that the second stage controls the first. The first stage is passive until after separation.  That is a fact.

<snipped>

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.

2.  Is there any reason why the 1st stage couldn't be in control?  I agree it's a current fact that 2nd stage does, but what is the logic behind it?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #64 on: 03/21/2015 01:57 AM »

And how small would that connector be without the magsafe feature?  That is my point.
Not that hard. Just have a guide feature (like a funnel for in-air refueling), could be just a simple bevel (depending on how many degrees of freedom you have).

[/quote]

Between the guide feature and the larger pins, how big is the connector now?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #65 on: 03/21/2015 02:15 AM »

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.


There is more, there are staging breakwires, FTS breakwires, telemetry from the first stage to the second, commanding from the second to the first,  some raw data, FTS is more than a few.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #66 on: 03/21/2015 02:16 AM »
Seems to me the question is, what launch performance can they demonstrate within the ceilings/range authorized from Spaceport America?

Plenty of ceiling, they're okayed up to 100km.  Based on that, I thought they should be able to test/demonstrate almost anything 1st stage related that they wanted.  But, IIRC, they are quite limited on range, something like only 10km (I think I remember reading this in one of the environmental assessments, but I can't find my copy;  will continue to search).  If that's the case, then they mayn't really be able to duplicate actual flight trajectories with much fidelity.  They'd be limited to almost straight up/down launches.  Or, assuming I'm remembering correctly, I'm misreading the limitations and it only means that they have to RTLS within that range?
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #67 on: 03/21/2015 02:18 AM »

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.


There is more, there are staging breakwires, FTS breakwires, telemetry from the first stage to the second, commanding from the second to the first,  some raw data, FTS is more than a few.

Ok.  Breakwires aside, is there any reason that the rest couldn't be transmitted wirelessly?
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #68 on: 03/21/2015 02:35 AM »

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.


There is more, there are staging breakwires, FTS breakwires, telemetry from the first stage to the second, commanding from the second to the first,  some raw data, FTS is more than a few.

Ok, telemetry and control can be done with just a pair of fiber optics.  Fiber optics could also act as breakwires as well.  Then there is all the wiring that FTS requires.  If SpaceX ever gets approval to not need an independent ordnance based FTS, we're down to just 3 pairs of fiberoptics that can dual duty all telemetry and control plus double use as redundant breakwires.  So other than FTS, I still only see a need for 6 conductors.

What do you mean by raw data, how is that different than telemetry?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #69 on: 03/21/2015 02:37 AM »

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.


There is more, there are staging breakwires, FTS breakwires, telemetry from the first stage to the second, commanding from the second to the first,  some raw data, FTS is more than a few.

Ok.  Breakwires aside, is there any reason that the rest couldn't be transmitted wirelessly?

I think worries of interference would be the greatest concern, followed by energy usage and weight of transmitters and receivers. 

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #70 on: 03/21/2015 02:53 AM »

1. No need for hundreds of pins.  That's got to be historical baggage.  Serialize the data.

2. There's no reason to have the second stage drive the first.  The first is already fully autonomous, has identical avionics, and knows all there is to know.  It can make the same decisions the second stage does, can drop it off within an envelope that the second stage can continue from.  Given that the first stage has to continue flight anyway, I don't see why it has to go through the shock of "switching commanders" on stage separation.  The first stage should be working like a carrier airplane.

This is another case of historical baggage.  An EELV is a single vehicle that's dropping parts until only the upper stage is left.  That's why it's built the way it is.   An F9R is a different type of beast.  A highly reusable first stage that continues flight and RTLS right away, and a an upper stage that even if it comes back, does so much later.  They have different operations cycles, and are their own self-contained entities.  Fewer failure modes this way, too - rockets have been lost because of failure of inter-stage connectors. (can't remember which right now)

3. Look at spacecraft dockings.  Connections are made, after the two heavy bodies mate.  And those are free-flying vehicles.  You can do much better if the bodies are guided.  You can do precision guidance by the jig, or you can have pilot pins and such on the flight hardware.

4. The connectors can be rigidly connected to the master bodies and everything connect at once, or you can have them execute a secondary motion after the mechanical mate.  Either way, if you pre-plan for automation, it's alot easier than if you try to make automation work in a less structured environment.



Quit with the flippant responses.   It is not historical baggage.  You have nothing to base that assertion on.

1.   for the very many reasons I listed. 


You haven't listed any reason for 100s of pins. You've mentioned that the FTS system is wired separately, that's about it.  You're just repeating that "this is how it's done".


2.  You have been proven wrong on this over and over. How many times do I have say it. Reality is that the second stage controls the first. The first stage is passive until after separation.  That is a fact.


Exactly as many times as you have to explain how smaller cheaper satellites are impossible, how SpaceX is about to implode due to internal strife, how reuse is decades away, how the concept of SpaceX doing their own satellite constellation is FanBoi Fantasies, etc.    You call them facts, but in fact they are opinions.

---

I've worked on problems where electrical, pneumatic, and optical connections had to be made across robotic attachments.  I can show you products that do that.  And an industrial robotic environment where cars move on an assembly line at heartbeat of 20 or 40 seconds or so is a lot more demanding than a mating procedure between well-guided and fixtured stages where you have all the time in the world to attach, verify alignment, etc.

Two examples below.

You won't be using them as-is, but it illustrates the point.  Note that they do Pneumatic and even fluid transfer (not sure about hydraulic)

http://www.ati-ia.com/es-MX/company/NewsArticle.aspx?id=386562982
and

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Offline Nomadd

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #71 on: 03/21/2015 09:47 AM »
 The ludicrous number of pins could be so a ground crew could access each sensor and control device directly. That would really help in troubleshooting.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #72 on: 03/21/2015 10:58 AM »
The ludicrous number of pins could be so a ground crew could access each sensor and control device directly. That would really help in troubleshooting.

That's not how it is done.
Sensors are connected to avionics. Avionics generate telemetry.

I build ground test electronics and launch support equipment.
The first falcon integration and test activities with my systems have already happened.
They're not horribly different from ULA or OATK vehicles in that respect.
Jim is right...


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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #73 on: 03/21/2015 11:22 AM »

1.  As far as I can tell you only need 2 connections.  One for FTS since you don't trust any other system, and one for data communication.  You'd probably want redundancy of 2 or 3 on this, so we're talking a max of 6 connections with 12 total conductors.  What are we missing?  Power is independent between stages....  I'm at a loss.


There is more, there are staging breakwires, FTS breakwires, telemetry from the first stage to the second, commanding from the second to the first,  some raw data, FTS is more than a few.
This is a problem in more than just rockets, since connectors are physically large and often the weak link in reliability.  Many military and aerospace applications already addressed this directly by providing multiplexed busses with low pin count.  They are designed for extremely high noise immunity - differential signaling with large signals and no ground connections (transformers or optical coupling). They are also explicitly designed to serve as breakwires - they continuously send null data if they have nothing to say, for a real-time physical connectivity check.  Each physical bus requires 2 pins, so a triple-redundant system needs 6.   These are old and time-tested technologies, used in the F-15, F-16, and F-18, among others.

Examples are MIL-STD-1553 (Defined in http://standards.sae.org/as15531/ , behind a paywall, but see http://www.altadt.com/support/tutorials/mil-std-1553-tutorial-and-reference/ or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIL-STD-1553 ), the related MIL-STD-1773 (fiber optic), and ARINC 429 (http://www.davi.ws/avionics/TheAvionicsHandbook_Cap_2.pdf or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARINC_429)

For higher performance, there are military and aerospace implementations of more modern standards such as AS5643, with is a mil spec grade of IEEE-1394b, which is derived from FireWire (see http://standards.sae.org/as5643/ ).  This is used in the F-35, for example.

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #74 on: 03/21/2015 11:35 AM »

How many times do I have say it. Reality is that the second stage controls the first. The first stage is passive until after separation.  That is a fact.


let's try a different way for those who can't understand.

Reality is not what other launch vehicles do.  Reality is how Spacex does it, just as I described.



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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #76 on: 03/21/2015 02:35 PM »
Why am I reading pages of posts about pins?
Because you know that people can only understand how something works by undersanding the most basic details. The great engineers aren't the ones who memorized the manual the best. They're the ones who understand the machine at the gut level because they know how it works down to the pins and switches.
 At least, that's my take after a barrel sized mug of beer in a Tunisian bar and grill.

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Why am I reading pages of posts about pins?
Because you know that people can only understand how something works by undersanding the most basic details. The great engineers aren't the ones who memorized the manual the best. They're the ones who understand the machine at the gut level because they know how it works down to the pins and switches.
 At least, that's my take after a barrel sized mug of beer in a Tunisian bar and grill.

That's cool. But this thread is about the thread title and the article. Perhaps we could concentrate on that here and not get into a few people going on about pins! ;D


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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #78 on: 03/21/2015 03:21 PM »
I'm on pins and needles wondering how this will end!
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #79 on: 03/21/2015 03:43 PM »

How many times do I have say it. Reality is that the second stage controls the first. The first stage is passive until after separation.  That is a fact.


let's try a different way for those who can't understand.

Reality is not what other launch vehicles do.  Reality is how Spacex does it, just as I described.

The question was not how it's done but how it CAN be done to automate things.

SpaceX was looking for engineers to automate the process.  I'm telling you that A) it CAN be done, and B) HOW it can be done.

You keep telling me that in reality it's not done.  But we already know that.

You also keep telling me that it's impossible to be done, cannot be done, because it's not how it's done today.

That's where we differ.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #80 on: 03/21/2015 03:52 PM »
Why am I reading pages of posts about pins?
Because you know that people can only understand how something works by undersanding the most basic details. The great engineers aren't the ones who memorized the manual the best. They're the ones who understand the machine at the gut level because they know how it works down to the pins and switches.
 At least, that's my take after a barrel sized mug of beer in a Tunisian bar and grill.

That's cool. But this thread is about the thread title and the article. Perhaps we could concentrate on that here and not get into a few people going on about pins! ;D

Fair enough about the pins, but this conversation actually is "included" in the topic.

What will happen at SPA was the topic of much debate - the multiple flights to demonstrate longevity, the proving ground for rapid reusability, etc.

Stage integration is a big part of it, and if it can be simplified, it will remove obstacles to both.

Not only is a simplified mating process important for rapid reusability, but also for how many times you can fly the rocket.  If the connectors deteriorate after 3-4 mating cycles, you've got a serious problem, since it will increase cost and increase the time to recycle.

The kind of connectors I mentioned above are designed for tens of thousand of cycles, under pretty extreme conditions.

From what I hear, non of those are in use today.  That is something SpaceX will have to get into as they work towards rapid reusability, but it is very much possible with today's technologies.

Since Musk is also involved in car manufacturing, he'll have an inside line to all of this.

*And I will repeat the lesson that seems to be lost on some.  When Musk is talking about what SpaceX will do, he's typically 1-2 years ahead of what outsiders on this site know.  Even if they have some insight into what's happening at the cape.  That's why his statements and goals seem outlandish, but they do tend to materialize, so there must be a plan in the works.  It could be that Elon actually has inside information into what that plan is.

So if automated rocket integration seems impossible to you, there are two choices.  Either Musk is clueless, or he has charted a technological path towards that goal, and we can just play a guessing game at this point what that path is.  So far, the "Musk is clueless" option has been the losing side of the argument.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2015 03:58 PM by meekGee »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #81 on: 03/21/2015 03:54 PM »


You also keep telling me that it's impossible to be done, cannot be done, because it's not how it's done today.

That's where we differ.

No, for the falcon 9, the second stage will always control the first stage because that is the more efficient, safer and less risky way of doing it. That way one set of software deals with the mission and the customer is assured that it is stable and Spacex can tinker with the first stage recovery guidance all they want.  They have no plans of doing any other way.  First stage guidance system is only for recovery and not ascent.
« Last Edit: 03/21/2015 04:01 PM by Jim »

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #82 on: 03/21/2015 04:00 PM »


You also keep telling me that it's impossible to be done, cannot be done, because it's not how it's done today.

That's where we differ.

No, for the falcon 9, the second stage will always control the first stage because that is the more efficient, safer and less risky way of doing.  They have no plans of doing any other way.  First stage guidance system is only for recovery and not ascent.

I'm done arguing about it, we'll live and see.  I'll just note that this was but one of several approaches I've outlined to help achieving what you dismiss offhand as impossible.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #83 on: 03/21/2015 04:02 PM »

I'm done arguing about it, we'll live and see.  I'll just note that this was but one of several approaches I've outlined to help achieving what you dismiss offhand as impossible.

Show me where I said "impossible". 
« Last Edit: 03/21/2015 04:05 PM by Jim »

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #84 on: 03/21/2015 07:56 PM »
BTW, where does this idea come from that they'd automatically stack and integrate and fuel the two stages together?

Anyone?
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #85 on: 03/22/2015 08:22 AM »
I got all kinds of reasons, most poor (we always did it that way) and few good (asynch trigger/level). In the end, the connectors had no conductors (optical), solved some ground loop issues, and added the equivalent of several hundred more conductors beyond the the original few more.
That can be an issue with signal sampling rates being too low and so the high on one line (sampled later) is a bit behind the high on an earlier line when they were actually simultaneous.

That said the MIDI interface (musical note are all time sensitive) found ways around that (at 31.25Kbs) 3 decades ago suggest it's possible.

Readers may think this is all a bit pedantic but AFAIK the baseline spec for most (all) of these wires seems to be carrying a 5A current, IOW firing an explosive bolt. The connectors are heavy. The wire is heavy and there's a lot of it.  :(
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #86 on: 03/22/2015 08:34 AM »
Moving from the specific to the more general I'm excited to see the first one recovered will be used to see how many refurb cycles it can undergo.

This will be a key parameter to any price and cost modelling.

Hmm, I wonder.

Time for a poll? 2 Reuses? 5? 10? 20+? 100+?
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Offline AncientU

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #87 on: 03/22/2015 12:56 PM »
I'm curious to see if they test out new retrieving and ground handling equipment... Assuming the stage goes back to the barn between flights.  If it stays vertical between flights, all the better.
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Offline fthomassy

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #88 on: 03/22/2015 05:10 PM »
Time for a poll? 2 Reuses? 5? 10? 20+? 100+?
Or when we will see the first reuse flight and the first one-month, one-week, one-day and same-day reuse cycles!

Unrelated to the Spaceport America topic are the same questions for commercial operation.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #89 on: 03/22/2015 07:43 PM »
I'm not going to go near the arguments over how many pins are used but the overall method of communication is of interest to me based on my network engineering background.  I recalled reading about Ethernet on Falcon rockets from around 10 years ago and I was right.  Found this from 2005:

http://www.spacex.com/news/2005/12/19/june-2005-december-2005

Quote
Engine electronics for the Merlin 1B in Falcon 9 have been simplified down to just three boxes that are responsible for all digital and analog activity. Each set of engine electronics is essentially a self contained plug and play module, dealing with its own activity in accordance with high level commands issued by the flight computer on the upper stage. The only wires between the stage and each engine are an Ethernet cable and a power cable.

Now, I have no reason to doubt Jim's assertion that the 2nd stage flight computer controls the entire ascent but this does lead to an interesting scenario about how things communicate.  Ethernet is a bus which doesn't have a master device.  So, as the engines are nodes on that bus do you think they communicate directly to the 2nd stage computer until stage separation and then directly to the 1st stage computer for descent or do you think the engines always talk to the 1st stage computer and that computer takes orders from the 2nd stage computer during ascent?  I could see arguments for it being done either way.

Offline clongton

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #90 on: 03/22/2015 07:50 PM »
In my engineering background I would opt for the 2nd scenario. Stage separation is a critical event. The engines do not need to be switching and validating data source at that time. They should be tied to the 1st stage, which takes its direction from the second so long as the Ethernet connection remains intact, seamlessly defaulting to its own instruction set once stage 2 no longer overrides them.
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Online oiorionsbelt

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #91 on: 08/02/2015 04:35 PM »
Spaceport America will remain Airport America for some time yet.

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #92 on: 08/02/2015 04:39 PM »
In my engineering background I would opt for the 2nd scenario. Stage separation is a critical event. The engines do not need to be switching and validating data source at that time. They should be tied to the 1st stage, which takes its direction from the second so long as the Ethernet connection remains intact, seamlessly defaulting to its own instruction set once stage 2 no longer overrides them.

Exactly so.  The less stuff goes through the interstage boundary, the better.    Also makes for easier stage integration, since you don't need a myriad of individual control or sense lines.
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Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #93 on: 12/05/2015 11:43 AM »
Over on the Spaceport America thread yg1968 posted an aerial video of the facility. At 40 seconds it seems to show a really good shot of a Grasshopper type launch stand:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxgE02nhOL8

Enjoy, Matthew

Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #94 on: 12/06/2015 04:54 AM »
hmmm....
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #95 on: 12/06/2015 10:39 AM »
And what about this?  It sure looks a lot like SpaceX landing pads, at least to me.  But why three?
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Offline Ohsin

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #96 on: 12/06/2015 11:31 AM »
And what about this?  It sure looks a lot like SpaceX landing pads, at least to me.  But why three?

And if you look closely at least one of them is made to have certain terrain like features(boulders strewn around). So it is likely to test autonomous landing on varied terrain like Morpheus.
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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #97 on: 12/06/2015 01:11 PM »
And what about this?  It sure looks a lot like SpaceX landing pads, at least to me.  But why three?

I'm willing to bet a lot on the fact that they are completely unrelated to SpaceX. They are located 1 km WSW of their launch mount while the landing pad is 200 m E, so they are certainly close enough. However, checking them out in TerraServer and Google Maps reveals that they predate SpaceX by quite a bit, being present at least since January 2010.

Also, I don't know what use SpaceX could have of them - check the wheel tracks in the video. They are only 10 m in diameter :)

Offline Llian Rhydderch

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #98 on: 12/06/2015 06:15 PM »
And what about this?  It sure looks a lot like SpaceX landing pads, at least to me.  But why three?

I believe those are the (quite old) small pads constructed for the Lunar Lander Challenge, complete with embedded rocks for simulated Lunar obstructions.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2015 06:17 PM by Llian Rhydderch »
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #99 on: 12/06/2015 06:19 PM »
hmmm....

so how tall are those mounts?

It's interesting to compare shadow lengths, between them and that pipe coming in from the top - if only we knew how far off the ground it was.  The truck in the corner isn't helping much.
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Offline dorkmo

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #100 on: 12/07/2015 02:08 AM »
hmmm....

so how tall are those mounts?

It's interesting to compare shadow lengths, between them and that pipe coming in from the top - if only we knew how far off the ground it was.  The truck in the corner isn't helping much.

just eyeballing but id guess the ones at jax are 15 to 20 ft?

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #101 on: 12/07/2015 02:56 AM »
Can get a better sense in the first second or so of the shot...

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #102 on: 12/07/2015 02:01 PM »
Looks like a different material used in the area that would get the worst blast form the engine.

Matthew

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #103 on: 12/07/2015 07:03 PM »
If anyone wants the 1,000 foot view.  TerraServer now has low-rez publicly accessible August 2015 imagery up on the free side their site.  Google Earth is still December 2013.

Even on the freebie Terraserver images, you can see the landing pad at the top right, the launch mounts at the launch pad on the top left, and lots of small tents and equipment where we previously speculated a HIF might be located that weren't there two years ago in 2013.  I can't make out a tall crane fomr the image (no telltale shadows).

Speculating, I think they'll do their operations out in the air and move shelters over the portion of the booster they are servicing to keep the sun and rain off.  They'll use a crane to lay the booster in a cradle that will sit in between the two rows of tents and equipment if/when it's horizontal.

It'd be terrific to get any updates from them to do an article on what they've built out there and what they're planning (hint hint Chris :) ).

[edit: At Comga's suggestion, the public TerraServer images can be found here: http://www.terraserver.com/view.asp?cx=-106.9113888888889&cy=32.94555555555555&proj=4326&mpp=0.75&sdrt=jax  The location of the site is here: 3256'44.99" N 10654'41.92" W ]

« Last Edit: 12/07/2015 08:42 PM by sghill »
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Offline joek

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #104 on: 12/07/2015 08:48 PM »
From the Las Cruces Sun-News, 29-Jul-2015:
Quote
Officials with Spaceport America on Wednesday confirmed tenant SpaceX is moving some of its equipment back to a testing facility in McGregor, Texas. But the company will maintain its lease with the spaceport for future launches after additional testing.
You can see some difference in the TerraServer images from 16-Jun-2015 and  30-Aug-2015.  Some tanks and maybe equipment trailers appear to have been removed in the later image.

Offline gongora

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Re: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing
« Reply #105 on: 08/26/2017 02:46 PM »
[Las Cruces Sun-News] How much secrecy does Spaceport America need?

This article talks about leases at Spaceport America.  They obtained some partially redacted leases from the Spaceport, including the one for SpaceX.  It was actually renewed for a year in 2016 with an end date in October 2017 (there are still options to do more yearly renewals if they wish to do so.)

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