Author Topic: Discussion/Comparison of the new generation of American heavy lift launchers  (Read 10768 times)

Online edkyle99

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« Last Edit: 07/31/2017 02:41 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline TomH

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I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.

I'm wondering whether New Armstrong is going to be in ITS territory or just SLS/Saturn V.

Offline MATTBLAK

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We cannot know right now, but my guess would be SLS Block 1B or better.
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Offline envy887

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I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.  Many estimates, which are mine, so feel free to critique.  Here goes. 


=====================================================
Vehicle          1st Launch   TransLunar   TransMars   
=====================================================
Falcon 9 Blk 5     2017?       ~2,500 kg?   ~2,000 kg?
Falcon 9 Blk 5-X   2017?       ~4,000 kg?   ~3,000 kg?
Falcon Heavy       2018?       ~5,500 kg    ~4,900 kg
Falcon Heavy-X     2018?      ~19,000 kg    16,800 kg
SLS Blk 1          2019?       24,500 kg    19,500 kg
Vulcan Centaur 551 2019?       ~6,500 kg?   ~5,000 kg?
New Glenn 2 Stg    2020?       ~9,000 kg    ~8,000 kg
NGL-5xx            2021?       ~6,000 kg    ~4,700 kg
SLS Blk 1B         2022?       39,000 kg    32,000 kg
Vulcan ACES 56x    2023?      ~10,600 kg?   ~8,400 kg?
NGL-5xx-XL         2023?      ~10,300 kg    ~8,200 kg?
New Glenn 3 Stg    2025?      ~17,000 kg?  ~15,000 kg?
SLS Blk 2          2029?      ~50,000 kg   ~45,000 kg
=====================================================
"X" Denotes Expendable Version


 - Ed Kyle

Block 5 expendable gets 4020kg to TMI according to SpaceX. That corresponds to ~6150kg to TLI. With ASDS landing about 35% less based on GTO performance, or ~2500 TMI and ~3000 TLI.

Offline MATTBLAK

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With both the reusable and expendable F9 - I wonder which would get closest to landing 1 metric ton or better on the Moon?
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Offline envy887

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I think 3-stage New Glenn could end up with higher payload to TLI than SLS Block 1 if fully expended, with ~25000 kg or slightly more. Lots of uncertainty in that one though, particular whether Blue will want to launch any fully expendable.

Online Prettz

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I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.  Many estimates, which are mine, so feel free to critique.  Here goes. 


=====================================================
Vehicle          1st Launch   TransLunar   TransMars   
=====================================================
Falcon 9 Blk 5     2017?       ~2,500 kg?   ~2,000 kg?
Falcon 9 Blk 5-X   2017?       ~4,000 kg?   ~3,000 kg?
Falcon Heavy       2018?       ~5,500 kg    ~4,900 kg
Falcon Heavy-X     2018?      ~19,000 kg    16,800 kg
SLS Blk 1          2019?       24,500 kg    19,500 kg
Vulcan Centaur 551 2019?       ~6,500 kg?   ~5,000 kg?
New Glenn 2 Stg    2020?       ~9,000 kg    ~8,000 kg
NGL-5xx            2021?       ~6,000 kg    ~4,700 kg
SLS Blk 1B         2022?       39,000 kg    32,000 kg
Vulcan ACES 56x    2023?      ~10,600 kg?   ~8,400 kg?
NGL-5xx-XL         2023?      ~10,300 kg    ~8,200 kg?
New Glenn 3 Stg    2025?      ~17,000 kg?  ~15,000 kg?
SLS Blk 2          2029?      ~50,000 kg   ~45,000 kg
=====================================================
"X" Denotes Expendable Version


 - Ed Kyle
I think you should have 1 more option for FH when it expends just the center core and RTLS the other two. It's something SpaceX might actually do at some point.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Also; the expended core but the two boosters landing downrange on the barges.
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.

I'm wondering whether New Armstrong is going to be in ITS territory or just SLS/Saturn V.

I met a guy who has friends who work at Blue Origin a couple of months ago, and he said that it'll definitely be comparable to the ITS.

Offline Lars-J

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Also; the expended core but the two boosters landing downrange on the barges.

There are many theoretical options, but I think Ed wants to concentrate on the practical and more likely options.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Also; the expended core but the two boosters landing downrange on the barges.

There are many theoretical options, but I think Ed wants to concentrate on the practical and more likely options.
Just as likely as the others. We may see it on the Lunar Dragon mission.
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Offline spacenut

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How complicated could refueling a FH upper stage be?  Docking, slowly spinning to make the fuel go to the bottom of he tanks, pumping?   There is a lot of moving around just to dock with the space station.  Refueling has to be mastered for going to Mars, why not start with FH upper stage or even a NG upper stage when it comes on line?  Or even Vulcan refueling upper stage?  At some point refueling is going to have to take place to go to Mars.  For SpaceX or for New Glenn for that matter, with reusable first stages, refueling second stages, it still seems it would be cheaper to launch Orion on one of these rockets, refuel, then go to cis-lunar space.  No need for SLS at twice the cost. 

For that matter, why not just launch a complete FH upper stage fully fueled or a stretched upper stage no payload.  Dock Orion to it, then proceed to cis-lunar.  No need for refueling.  Just separate the booster upper stage, and redock with a new upper stage either sent on a F9 or another FH.  Two FH launches are still cheaper than one SLS launch. 

Offline envy887

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The way SpaceX wants to fly it (recovering boosters and first stage) it will barely boost 5.5 tonnes toward the Moon...

Maybe with 3-core RTLS it can only do 5.5t.

But with 3-core downrange landing its payload to TLI is much higher. I get ~10,500 kg assuming 6% reserves to land the booster and 8% to land the core.

Offline Paul451

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Moved from the SLS thread:

So, NASA is supposed to just wait for these proposed launch vehicles to finally appear?  Falcon Heavy was supposed to fly in 2013. [...]   
NASA can't wait for promises when it has the propulsion in hand.
What "propulsion" does NASA have "in hand"? They haven't even figured out how to weld the tanks.
[...] So in what way would NASA be "waiting" for FH, but have SLS "in hand"?
NASA has RS-25 and five-segment booster and RL10 and, for Orion, AJ-10.  In-hand.

Not so. The RS-25's have no core to ride. The core isn't built, NASA is "waiting on" Boeing to build it. The new RS-25s are a different design that NASA is "waiting on", at a cost of $1.15 billion. The AJ-10 has no service module to ride, NASA is "waiting on" the ESA's contractors. And the RL-10C's have no upper-stage to ride on, NASA is "waiting on" Boeing to build that too, and it isn't expected to be ready until 2021 at the earliest, and we all know that date is garbage. Only the ICPS could reasonably be considered "available".

There's no measure that SLS is "in hand" compared to anything else.

[Falcon Heavy] The way SpaceX wants to fly it (recovering boosters and first stage)

That's the kind of artificially forced comparison that got us Ares and SLS in the first place. There's no such restriction. Sx are happy to sell expendable versions to anyone who wants to pay.

And the worst-case price is so much less than the actual spending on SLS development, that the comparisons get silly. (Like being able to buy 100 FH launches for the spending projected for SLS/Orion for the first four SLS launches (even ignoring sunk-costs.))

Even if the entire rocket was thrown away it would not match even SLS Block 1

Other than the Orion+SM+LAS stack, there's no module for any mission proposal that requires more than 25 tonnes. Most less. Everything bigger is actually multiple stand-alone modules that could be launched separately.

SLS isn't capable of performing any proposed HSF mission (other than a lunar orbit) without multiple launches and orbital assembly. And SLS isn't capable of multiple launches at a cadence suitable for such missions.

Nor can an SLS-dominated agency work on any hardware necessary for BEO HSF for at least another decade. By which time we'll have had two decades of lost development and production experience of in-space hardware.

Talking about SLS's capacity is therefore meaningless. It's capacity is zero. If you have SLS, you can't fly missions.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2017 04:37 PM by Paul451 »

Offline Paul451

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How complicated could refueling a FH upper stage be?

Although an obvious long-term goal, refuelling isn't necessary at this stage (no pun intended), for the types of missions proposed by NASA.

DRA 5.0 proposes a modular transfer-stage. LM's being shopping ACES to anyone who stands still long enough. And there's a bunch of other contractors working on new hardware and systems that would be suitable for such a beast.

Since any HSF mission beyond a lunar orbit is beyond the capability of SLS without multiple launches, it seems obvious that a modular transfer-stage is a gating technology for any major NASA mission. But having a modular transfer stage would expand the capacity of any current or future launcher. (Except SLS, because it can't maintain the necessary launch cadence for useful missions.)

Two FH launches are still cheaper than one SLS launch.

Two fully expendable FH launches are cheaper than four months of SLS funding.

Offline envy887

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Also; the expended core but the two boosters landing downrange on the barges.

There are many theoretical options, but I think Ed wants to concentrate on the practical and more likely options.
Just as likely as the others. We may see it on the Lunar Dragon mission.

Precisely. The most practical option is the one that gets the mission done at lowest cost.

Offline envy887

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Two FH launches are still cheaper than one SLS launch.

Two fully expendable FH launches are cheaper than four months of SLS funding.

Since this isn't published by SpaceX, what are your assumptions for these prices? Cost to NASA might be higher if they aren't willing to ride used boosters.

It might be worthwhile adding a cost comparison to the table in the OP of this thread. It would be mostly educated guesses, but the payload estimates are no better...

Offline envy887

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I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.  Many estimates, which are mine, so feel free to critique.  Here goes. 


=====================================================
Vehicle          1st Launch   TransLunar   TransMars   
=====================================================
Falcon 9 Blk 5     2017?       ~3,000 kg?   ~2,500 kg?
Falcon 9 Blk 5-X   2017?       ~5,000 kg     4,020 kg
Falcon Heavy       2018?       ~5,500 kg    ~4,900 kg
Falcon Heavy-X     2018?      ~19,000 kg    16,800 kg
SLS Blk 1          2019?       24,500 kg    19,500 kg
Vulcan Centaur 551 2019?       ~6,500 kg?   ~5,000 kg?
New Glenn 2 Stg    2020?       ~9,000 kg    ~8,000 kg
NGL-5xx            2021?       ~6,000 kg    ~4,700 kg
SLS Blk 1B         2022?       39,000 kg    32,000 kg
Vulcan ACES 56x    2023?      ~10,600 kg?   ~8,400 kg?
NGL-5xx-XL         2023?      ~10,300 kg    ~8,200 kg?
New Glenn 3 Stg    2025?      ~17,000 kg?  ~15,000 kg?
SLS Blk 2          2029?      ~50,000 kg   ~45,000 kg
=====================================================
"X" Denotes Expendable Version


F9 B5 Expendable GTO payload is 8300 kg per SpaceX. The upper stage is ~4500 kg and the MVac 348s Isp, so total mass inserted to GEO-1800 is 12800 kg. TLI is 725 m/s beyond GEO-1800, so total mass inserted to TLI would be 10300 kg which corresponds to 5800 kg of payload.

MTLI = ((MGTO+MUS)/e725/3414)-MUS

Using the same logic for FH yields 20650 kg translunar payload from its specified GTO payload of 26,600 kg.

Edit: Attempting this for other launchers is somewhat difficult, as we don't have all that information. For New Glenn, we know the GTO payload is expected to be 10-13 tonnes. Based on my RPA calcs, the BE-4U should have an Isp near 365 seconds. The upper stage mass is harder to estimate, but from published pictures it's volume is 3 to 4 times that of the F9 upper stage; and the thrust of the BE-4U is 3x that of the F9 upper stage. So the stage should be around 3.5 x 4500 = ~15750 kg.

Plugging those into the above equation gives a New Glenn reusable TLI payload between 5275 and 7725 kg. Slightly less than what FH can do with downrange landing, but the extra liftoff thrust, additional 1/2 stage and better match between payload mass and stage mass makes a difference for FH.

With those changes bolded:

=====================================================
Vehicle          1st Launch   TransLunar   TransMars   
=====================================================
Falcon 9 Blk 5-X   2017?      ~5,800 kg     4,020 kg
Falcon Heavy-X     2018?      ~20,650 kg    16,800 kg
New Glenn 2 Stg    2020?       ~7,725 kg    ~8,000 kg
=====================================================
"X" Denotes Expendable Version
« Last Edit: 06/06/2017 05:21 PM by envy887 »

Offline Paul451

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Two FH launches are still cheaper than one SLS launch.
Two fully expendable FH launches are cheaper than four months of SLS funding.
Since this isn't published by SpaceX, what are your assumptions for these prices?

SpaceX offers the reusable FH at $90m, with a suggested payload of >8t to GTO. They suggest the equivalent expendable payload is >24t to GTO. So I simply tripled the price. Judging by F9 pricing, that's way, way too high, completely unfair to SpaceX. But as you note, and again looking at the F9 prices, the price for NASA tends to be higher; so triple seems a reasonable fudge. And at these prices, even if I'm out by 50%, it doesn't change the result. Hell, even if I'm out by 400% it doesn't change my point.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2017 05:03 PM by Paul451 »

Offline GWH

I've been trying to make a list of capabilities for the big rockets under development that everyone is always discussing.  Many estimates, which are mine, so feel free to critique.  Here goes. 


=====================================================
Vehicle          1st Launch   TransLunar   TransMars   
=====================================================
Falcon 9 Blk 5     2017?       ~3,000 kg?   ~2,500 kg?
Falcon 9 Blk 5-X   2017?       ~5,000 kg     4,020 kg
Falcon Heavy       2018?       ~5,500 kg    ~4,900 kg
Falcon Heavy-X     2018?      ~19,000 kg    16,800 kg
SLS Blk 1          2019?       24,500 kg    19,500 kg
Vulcan Centaur 551 2019?       ~6,500 kg?   ~5,000 kg?
New Glenn 2 Stg    2020?       ~9,000 kg    ~8,000 kg
NGL-5xx            2021?       ~6,000 kg    ~4,700 kg
SLS Blk 1B         2022?       39,000 kg    32,000 kg
Vulcan ACES 56x    2023?      ~10,600 kg?   ~8,400 kg?
NGL-5xx-XL         2023?      ~10,300 kg    ~8,200 kg?
New Glenn 3 Stg    2025?      ~17,000 kg?  ~15,000 kg?
SLS Blk 2          2029?      ~50,000 kg   ~45,000 kg
=====================================================
"X" Denotes Expendable Version


EDIT:  Updated Falcon 9 Payload
 - Ed Kyle

edit/gongora: moved from SLS thread

I think given the timelines of other vehicles and relative commitment level it would be fair to include Vulcan ACES distributed lift, which should be at least 26,000 kg
http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Published_Papers/Extended_Duration/Distributed-Launch-2015.pdf

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