Author Topic: Spaceport America set for SpaceX reusability testing  (Read 34506 times)

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.

Online 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.

Online 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?

Online guckyfan

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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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Online 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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Offline Robotbeat

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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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