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SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX Reusable Rockets Section => Topic started by: sanman on 12/29/2015 04:21 PM

Title: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/29/2015 04:21 PM
What are the speculations or educated guesses on what will be required for refurbishment of stages/vehicles that have been recovered after flight, in order to make them flight-worthy again? (Was thinking mainly of the F9R booster, but Dragon would be relevant too)

Which components are likely to experience the most wear and tear, and thus be in need of more attention, and which components would experience the least?

How will refurbishment requirements affect the design of the launch vehicle and relevant stages? What kind of continued evolution or iterative improvements are we likely to see in relation to this?

How long before a re-used stage/vehicle would be deemed suitable for human payload? More than a decade? Never?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 12/29/2015 04:25 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/29/2015 05:00 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.

Well, is washing something they can do before loading it onto a transport and hauling it back to the workshop? Or is it best done back at the workshop?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/29/2015 05:27 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.

Well, is washing something they can do before loading it onto a transport and hauling it back to the workshop? Or is it best done back at the workshop?

I imagine that it would be most easily done if the core is mounted horizontally on those circular rings, rotating like a bird on a spit while a pressure washer slowly moves from one end to the other, kind of like a lathe.

How much force is needed to remove the soot, anyways? You certainly don't want to use too much water pressure and accidentally damage the skin.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: nadreck on 12/29/2015 05:30 PM
The problem is that until they have gone through a few iterations that involve serious inspection and testing, they don't know whether testing and inspection is the bulk of the work or whether there are other additional expenses and delays. Given the level of testing, inspection, and support work that gets done on a new first stage, it is possible that the level of work involved is only about $1M more than qualifying a new stage, on the other hand. If it becomes routine for one turbo pump or engine bell out of nine to need replacing, or if a large number of valves need replacing it could be more. If the helium tanks need replacing each flight ... a lot more and a lot of time and manpower. 

I am thinking they might spend $5M just on testing and inspecting each of the first few cores they consider for reuse and that they pick the best, refly it, recover it and spend as much again to try and figure out a delta on every part and system that degrades.  After those first few inspections they may change some designs before reflying anything, and/or maybe after a reflown core is recovered there are some (more) design changes. It will probably be an iterative process over the next two to three years, but it is still possible that they do reflight of an upcoming core from 2016 Q1, but not impossible to imagine that it takes until 2017  before a Q2 or Q3 2016 core gets reflown.  The first reflight will probably represent a lot of testing and inspection of cores.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 12/29/2015 05:55 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.

Well, is washing something they can do before loading it onto a transport and hauling it back to the workshop? Or is it best done back at the workshop?

I imagine that it would be most easily done if the core is mounted horizontally on those circular rings, rotating like a bird on a spit while a pressure washer slowly moves from one end to the other, kind of like a lathe.

How much force is needed to remove the soot, anyways? You certainly don't want to use too much water pressure and accidentally damage the skin.

Spin it fast enough and it'll clean and dry itself.  Ask any dog.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AJW on 12/29/2015 06:13 PM
There had been discussions of using the landing legs to slow the descent, but after watching the Grasshopper tests, the legs took quite a thermal beating being so close to the Merlins.   This may explain why the legs are deployed so late in the landing process in order to reduce damage.   There may still be an ablative layer on the legs that will require replacement between launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rcoppola on 12/29/2015 06:29 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.

Well, is washing something they can do before loading it onto a transport and hauling it back to the workshop? Or is it best done back at the workshop?
Whatever they do, they're not going to power wash the stages in the HIF. I don't think that's an environment you want to be splashing water everywhere. As we head into 2016, with the very real possibility of returning up to 12 or more cores, they'll need to find/build some storage space. IMO, HIF is for what it stands for, Integration. As their launch tempo increases, they'll need a new facility for cleaning, inspecting, storing before it arrives at an HIF to be integrated for launch. For all we know they have already identified such a building or space to erect a new one. And if they haven't, I suspect after this successful landing, they're doing so now with added haste.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/29/2015 06:49 PM
It seems predictable that the early period will involve more painstaking inspections, which will then later give way to more specialized inspections once you know which places experience the most wear and tear, and which places experience much less wear and tear.

In relation to the soot from re-entry heating, is there any chance that one day we'll see the implementation of an aerospace equivalent of "brake pads" - by which I mean some kind of superficial attachment that takes the brunt of the re-entry heating leaving the rest of the rocket unscorched, and that component is then very easily/quickly swapped with a fresh part?

Will we ever see things reach the equivalent of a Formula-1 racing pit-crew, where they can quickly unbolt the "tires", etc, and swap on fresh ones, etc, to rapidly make the vehicle ready for use again? I thought that perhaps that Formula-1 racing is a better analogy than conventional aircraft maintainenance, since the typical aircraft doesn't take as much punishment during its flight to warrant the same level of parts replacement so frequently.

As flight rates increase, will we inevitably see reusable rockets evolve towards designs meant for easy-swappability?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gospacex on 12/29/2015 07:16 PM
Well, for starters, they'll need to wash it.

(Let me have my joke on the dwindling pack of naysayers)

"Until we see it done regularly, we can't be sure that washing a stage is possible, and if it is, that it is profitable. So far SpaceX demonstrated nothing of the sort."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 12/29/2015 07:56 PM
Why does it need to be washed in the first place?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/29/2015 08:01 PM
Why does it need to be washed in the first place?

One reason I've seen is that rocket fuselages are painted white in order to help keep the LOX from boiling off too quickly. Black soot would defeat that purpose, by causing solar radiation to be absorbed and therefore increasing the boil-off rate of the LOX.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RonM on 12/29/2015 08:04 PM
Why does it need to be washed in the first place?

That's right. Now get that thing back on the pad, fuel it up, and light it off.  :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 12/29/2015 08:24 PM
As flight rates increase, will we inevitably see reusable rockets evolve towards designs meant for easy-swappability?

That's the Falcon 9. You can safely assume that they have optimized it for easy swappability of components that may need swapping. We know that about the engines. They can easily swap them on the pad vertical. It was already for the 1.0. They have swapped valves and sensors quite easily during launch campaigns. It just gets necessary less frequently after early bugs have been identified and resolved.

It is not an unreasonable assumption that servicing the stage and getting it ready to fly may cost less than getting it ready to fly the first time. Though after a number of flights a more thoroug workover that might deserve the name refurbishment will take place and will take longer.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Martin.cz on 12/29/2015 08:25 PM
Why does it need to be washed in the first place?

One reason I've seen is that rocket fuselages are painted white in order to help keep the LOX from boiling off too quickly. Black soot would defeat that purpose, by causing solar radiation to be absorbed and therefore increasing the boil-off rate of the LOX.
Maybe the layer of ice that will accumulates on the LOX tank kinda alleviates this problem (eq. it is white & has bad thermal conductivity)?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CJ on 12/29/2015 09:18 PM
Why does it need to be washed in the first place?

One reason I've seen is that rocket fuselages are painted white in order to help keep the LOX from boiling off too quickly. Black soot would defeat that purpose, by causing solar radiation to be absorbed and therefore increasing the boil-off rate of the LOX.

If the speculation in other threads is correct and the un-sooted area is over the LOX tank (due to it being frosted while soot was being deposited) then, perhaps, there isn't a need to wash the rocket?

I wonder just how hard to wash off that soot is? If it's anything like diesel engine soot on paint, it'd be easy on a gloss or semi gloss finish, while hard to do on matte (it gets in the pores). My guess is that it'd come off fairly easily if soot, but if it's burned paint, it'll be a hard job, so in future they might use a different paint formula (such as enamel).

As for other aspects of reuse, my guess is SpaceX is using some kludges this time around, while they see what's really needed. For example, I'm betting they will come up with an easier, cheaper way to lower and transport the landed stage. The same would go for all the details that go into prepping a stage for reflight; it'll be a learning experience, and thus quite slow at first (much like the first F9 launches took a lot longer to prep than what we see now). 

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: joek on 12/29/2015 09:25 PM
It seems predictable that the early period will involve more painstaking inspections, which will then later give way to more specialized inspections once you know which places experience the most wear and tear, and which places experience much less wear and tear.

Yes; SpaceX first needs to characterize use or aging effects.  Most of that will likely come from inspection in the beginning.  The end process will undoubtedly be similar to that used for aircraft, which includes both preventive and predictive approaches.

Quote
Will we ever see things reach the equivalent of a Formula-1 racing pit-crew, where they can quickly unbolt the "tires", etc, and swap on fresh ones, etc, to rapidly make the vehicle ready for use again? I thought that perhaps that Formula-1 racing is a better analogy than conventional aircraft maintainenance, since the typical aircraft doesn't take as much punishment during its flight to warrant the same level of parts replacement so frequently.

High performance jet aircraft is probably a better model.  All other things equal, the goal is to reduce the need to replace components as that increases costs, especially labor.

Quote
As flight rates increase, will we inevitably see reusable rockets evolve towards designs meant for easy-swappability?

Ease of replacement is only one aspect of maintainability, which includes ease of monitoring, inspection, test and replacement.  Not all components will (or should) be treated the same.  E.g., some components may be designed for ease of inspection over ease of replacement; other components may have extensive monitoring to identify conditions which require more extensive inspection or testing; etc.

SpaceX will undoubtedly be making changes to improve reliability and maintainability based on what they learn from returned vehicles.  Much too early to tell what those changes might be.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 12/29/2015 09:32 PM
A coat of paint has weight.  I don't know how much the soot weighs.  After 1 flight?  After 10?

I agree that the LOX might be protected by its own ice layer.

Aesthetically, I like the stage better with layer of soot on it.  We'll see how much I like it when it's got 10...

If the outer skin is sooty, does it mean that every time you go to open a service hatch, you get your hands and your clothes dirty?   Then you get the soot over whatever it is you're servicing?   This could be an issue.

Soot begets soot.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/29/2015 10:19 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukmvesZx2ck

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/19/Falcon_9_Flight_20_OG2_first_stage_post-landing_(23273082823)_cropped.jpg/220px-Falcon_9_Flight_20_OG2_first_stage_post-landing_(23273082823)_cropped.jpg)

Gee, when I look at the soot on the fuselage, it's too bad that the legs don't have some kind of webbing between them, which could not only improve the drag characteristics on the way down, but also shield the rest of the fuselage from collecting soot.

But I guess leg-webbing would be extremely problematic during ascent.  :P
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Nomadd on 12/29/2015 10:27 PM
 Maybe the HEB car wash in Brownsville will add a 3.6 meter bay. It's only 6 bucks if you pay at the pump. They even sell kerosene.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oiorionsbelt on 12/30/2015 02:43 AM
Ease of use, gas n' go, fast turn around say don't wash it if you don't have too.
 MCT will not be washed before return. OK that's just a guess.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/30/2015 03:54 AM
I guess the slipstream at terminal velocity isn't enough to get rid of all the soot. Isn't there a trick from the painting industry, whereby they can use electro-statics to charge airborne particles and either repel or attract them from a surface? Presumably it's during that re-entry plasma heating phase that the soot is being deposited. So couldn't the surface of the fuselage be charged to repel the soot so it won't deposit? I know, I know - it's not a crucial concern - but just a thought.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: KelvinZero on 12/30/2015 05:15 AM
People may be prematurely celebrating the end of the expendable era.. They may soon be nostalgic for the age of brand spanking shiny new rockets. Should we really celebrate spaceflight joining the modern age of sooty vehicles, shitty inflight service, vandalised seats adorned with chewing gum.. something unidentifiable and sticky.. and the smell of wee?  :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 12/30/2015 06:51 AM
People may be prematurely celebrating the end of the expendable era.. They may soon be nostalgic for the age of brand spanking shiny new rockets. Should we really celebrate spaceflight joining the modern age of sooty vehicles, shitty inflight service, vandalised seats adorned with chewing gum.. something unidentifiable and sticky.. and the smell of wee?  :)
Yes.

If it substantially lowers the $/lb to orbit.  :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gospacex on 12/30/2015 01:31 PM
People may be prematurely celebrating the end of the expendable era.. They may soon be nostalgic for the age of brand spanking shiny new rockets. Should we really celebrate spaceflight joining the modern age of sooty vehicles, shitty inflight service, vandalised seats adorned with chewing gum.

All these are signs of a well-matured industry :)

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 12/30/2015 05:50 PM
"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/30/2015 07:17 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 12/30/2015 10:09 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Things like thermal stresses during tank/detank operations are always considered.  Even an EELV may go through several.  But SpaceX needs more than "several". 

But - seriously - do you really doubt that they're only now getting to it?    It may not be "normal" in the rocket industry, but it sure took place with Shuttle, and it sure takes place in the aircraft, shipbuilding and car industries. (and many others, of course)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kansan52 on 12/30/2015 10:18 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/30/2015 10:58 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 12/30/2015 11:06 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.

Proven.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 12/30/2015 11:08 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.

Proven.
Flight tested.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Henry.Yopp on 12/30/2015 11:25 PM
I got it, leave the LOX tank white and paint the rest of the stage carbon black.
Out of sight , out of mind!  ;D

(http://i63.tinypic.com/2qa5s7c.jpg)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 12/31/2015 12:44 AM
Things like thermal stresses during tank/detank operations are always considered.  Even an EELV may go through several.  But SpaceX needs more than "several". 

But - seriously - do you really doubt that they're only now getting to it?    It may not be "normal" in the rocket industry, but it sure took place with Shuttle, and it sure takes place in the aircraft, shipbuilding and car industries. (and many others, of course)

Fair enough - I'd imagine that thermal stress cycling must have been a prerequisite, given all the
fueling-cancelation-defueling-refueling-etc that happens.

But when it comes to flight dynamic stresses - that's got to be tough to accurately simulate Max-Q and everything else. Furthermore, what do you do when you discover that your recovered booster now has a wicked shimmy in it?
Sounds like it's time to scrap that booster and pull a brand new one off the assembly line.

From what I see, when the fuselage structure exhibits issues during acoustic testing, then that recovered booster is pretty much a write-off. Just cannibalize some parts off it.

Which then also makes me wonder - can the design evolution of the stages/vehicles also move towards maximizing recyclability? Whatever else is wrong with the recovered stage/vehicle, you at least want to be able to scavenge some useful parts off it for possible re-use.



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: lark on 12/31/2015 01:25 AM
I understand that the FTS is rendered inert at some point in the flight. Is it rendered so inert that it cannot be reactivated (sounds like a good thing) and so is one thing that must be replaced?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 12/31/2015 01:41 AM
I understand that the FTS is rendered inert at some point in the flight. Is it rendered so inert that it cannot be reactivated (sounds like a good thing) and so is one thing that must be replaced?

It is just shut off.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: 411rocket on 12/31/2015 04:20 AM
Things like thermal stresses during tank/detank operations are always considered.  Even an EELV may go through several.  But SpaceX needs more than "several". 

But - seriously - do you really doubt that they're only now getting to it?    It may not be "normal" in the rocket industry, but it sure took place with Shuttle, and it sure takes place in the aircraft, shipbuilding and car industries. (and many others, of course)

Fair enough - I'd imagine that thermal stress cycling must have been a prerequisite, given all the
fueling-cancelation-defueling-refueling-etc that happens.

But when it comes to flight dynamic stresses - that's got to be tough to accurately simulate Max-Q and everything else. Furthermore, what do you do when you discover that your recovered booster now has a wicked shimmy in it?
Sounds like it's time to scrap that booster and pull a brand new one off the assembly line.

From what I see, when the fuselage structure exhibits issues during acoustic testing, then that recovered booster is pretty much a write-off. Just cannibalize some parts off it.

Which then also makes me wonder - can the design evolution of the stages/vehicles also move towards maximizing recyclability? Whatever else is wrong with the recovered stage/vehicle, you at least want to be able to scavenge some useful parts off it for possible re-use.

So the possible salvage yard, gets located in Texas or elsewhere? The useful stuff gets pulled & the remainder gets broken down for recycle, like vehicles & aircraft.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/31/2015 06:51 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.

Proven.

Provocative.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: shooter6947 on 12/31/2015 11:24 PM
New Elon Musk tweet: 

@ElonMusk: "Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again. "
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/682717803166695425 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/682717803166695425)

Based on the linked image, though:
https://www.instagram.com/p/_-d28bQEc9/ (https://www.instagram.com/p/_-d28bQEc9/)
it kinda looks like there's at least some cosmetic damage to the paint.  Will they repaint, or just fly it with that 'used' look?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Eer on 12/31/2015 11:50 PM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.

Proven.

Provocative.
Previously landed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oiorionsbelt on 01/01/2016 12:00 AM
I wonder how long it will be until there's a "used spaceship" market? Or maybe the term "pre-owned" would sound better.

But seriously, I'd like to know how extensively the various construction materials and components have been tested for "cycle life".  It's one thing to expect your O-ring to flex properly during one launch, but after how many launches will it give out?

Is cycle life something that's normally tested for in the rocket industry?

Preloved.

Prelaunched.

Proven.

Provocative.
Previously landed.
CERTIFIED: By Previously flight testing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Big Al on 01/01/2016 12:18 AM
You know, I've been thing about this  reusable situation. There is an organization that has been flying reusable rocket for many years and that's called NASA! I would have thought that Space X would have had more than a few conversations about what surprised them after a Shuttle flight that they needed to inspect and what they did not. It sounds like the Shuttle needed a lot more work than they originally thought.   
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 01/01/2016 01:28 AM

You know, I've been thing about this  reusable situation. There is an organization that has been flying reusable rocket for many years and that's called NASA! I would have thought that Space X would have had more than a few conversations about what surprised them after a Shuttle flight[/b{ that they needed to inspect and what they did not. It sounds like the Shuttle needed a lot more work than they originally thought.   

Who says they haven't? But beyond that, the flight environments for both are not that similar.

You are making a lot of assumptions based on one image. If scuffed paint is the worst they have to deal with, SpaceX will be very happy.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AJW on 01/01/2016 04:26 AM
Well, Pro sports have 'throwback' uniforms, so if there is so much concern over chipped and scorched paint, maybe Elon could do a Gemini/Titan II throwback design.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Req on 01/01/2016 04:50 AM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

This is really great news, but in my opinion, the most significant thing about this announcement is that it came only 10 days after the landing, including Christmas.  Obviously refiring and reflight are two different things, but still very encouraging.

Edit - It makes me wish 39A was ready for them to roll it out and give it a go!  I assume using SLC-40 would mess with flow for paying customers.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 01/01/2016 06:47 AM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Isn't this news almost as significant as the landing itself?

Refurbishment cost is often cited as a reason why re-use may not be economic. This seems like a pretty significant datum point against that argument to me.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/01/2016 08:05 AM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Isn't this news almost as significant as the landing itself?

Refurbishment cost is often cited as a reason why re-use may not be economic. This seems like a pretty significant datum point against that argument to me.
Just thinking out loud...

The kind of inspection/testing performed was not specified. We don't know if it was a cursory external inspection (a few hours) or a more detailed check of the whole rocket (with boroscope, x-ray, ..., probably a multi day effort). They probably didn't disassemble anything (save it for after the static fire).

I *think* the big news will be the completion of that static fire without any anomalies.
But I've always been in the view that SpaceX know what they're doing, its easier to design a rocket with margins for reuse than getting all of the software and hardware just right for terra firma and ASDS landings (and having the LV with enough margin to accomplish that).

SpaceX probably have the margins to fly again once or twice without issue.

Its not enough to simply refly the stage, but know that there's ample safety margin to risk putting a US$ 100 million payload on top.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/01/2016 02:43 PM
Has anybody asked the question. Can they just refly the booster with maybe a cap on the interstage. That way they don't risk any hardware like the second stage or payload? That way validating just refuel and fly.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rpapo on 01/01/2016 03:48 PM
Has anybody asked the question. Can they just refly the booster with maybe a cap on the interstage. That way they don't risk any hardware like the second stage or payload? That way validating just refuel and fly.
The loading wouldn't be right without a second stage.  The accelerations would be much greater than normal unless they throttled back, but then it wouldn't be a proper test.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/01/2016 04:08 PM
Has anybody asked the question. Can they just refly the booster with maybe a cap on the interstage. That way they don't risk any hardware like the second stage or payload? That way validating just refuel and fly.
The loading wouldn't be right without a second stage.  The accelerations would be much greater than normal unless they throttled back, but then it wouldn't be a proper test.

They can use a dummy upper stage. They probably will. The question is where will they do it? In New Mexico or do they skip that and do the flights out of Vandenberg, assuming they have landing permit there?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Eric Hedman on 01/01/2016 04:08 PM
Charles Krauthammer weighed in on what reusing rocket stages could mean in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/space-the-visionaries-take-over/2015/12/31/d0f9d956-affa-11e5-b820-eea4d64be2a1_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/space-the-visionaries-take-over/2015/12/31/d0f9d956-affa-11e5-b820-eea4d64be2a1_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory)

Edit - I like the last line: "Which means we are actually — finally — going somewhere again."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cebri on 01/01/2016 07:27 PM
Nice, i didn't expect to hear so soon from Elon about the status of the first stage. Hope that static fire goes well.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vulture4 on 01/01/2016 08:35 PM
I would have thought that Space X would have had more than a few conversations about what surprised them after a Shuttle flight that they needed to inspect and what they did not.
Unfortunately NASA did not even ask the laid off USA employees for their opinions on the reasons for the high Shuttle refurbishment costs, which were about ten times what was predicted. Fortunately SpaceX has a pretty good idea where NASA missed the boat and has approached reuse in a much more practical way.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Nomadd on 01/01/2016 08:47 PM
I would have thought that Space X would have had more than a few conversations about what surprised them after a Shuttle flight that they needed to inspect and what they did not.
Unfortunately NASA did not even ask the laid off USA employees for their opinions on the reasons for the high Shuttle refurbishment costs, which were about ten times what was predicted. Fortunately SpaceX has a pretty good idea where NASA missed the boat and has approached reuse in a much more practical way.
How bad was the shuttle if you don't count tiles, engine rebuilds, external tanks with their infernal foam and redoing solid boosters every flight? Also, no HPUs, no H2. It seems like about 95% of the things that made the Shuttle such a bear aren't applicable to Falcon.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/01/2016 11:53 PM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Gosh, and here I thought we had an interesting thread going, and Mr Buzzkill Elon Musk tells us that no refurbishment may be necessary - other than soot removal and a fresh coat of paint.

But seriously - that's certainly incredible news, if it holds up after further testing.

Personally, I think Musk should delay gratification to reap more rewards sooner - forget about the souvenir thing, or turning the booster into a museum display. Inspect the hell out of that thing and even re-fly it again if possible. Gaining more data on reusability will be far more important than showcasing their triumphs to the public.

And if a re-flight is successful, then re-fly that one again, too. Like Grasshopper, fly it until it breaks.

How should testing across multiple re-flights differ from the kind of testing that's been done uptil now? Isn't it going to require an even finer level of monitoring to detect the kinds of problems that will arise from multiple re-uses?

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: KelvinZero on 01/02/2016 01:05 AM
How much would a launch cost roughly? I mean all the costs not counting building the rocket and not counting those involved in integrating a possibly finicky payload. I assume it is a lot more than grasshopper, ie more than just the difference in propellant, but are we going to start seeing launches just because SpaceX wants to?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: kevinof on 01/02/2016 02:01 AM
I think this F9 is too valuable to refly. They can learn so much from this  returned stage, things that they could only guess at previously.

Wait for the next stage to be successfully returned and then refly this one. That way you always have one on hand to learn from.

Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Gosh, and here I thought we had an interesting thread going, and Mr Buzzkill Elon Musk tells us that no refurbishment may be necessary - other than soot removal and a fresh coat of paint.

But seriously - that's certainly incredible news, if it holds up after further testing.

Personally, I think Musk should delay gratification to reap more rewards sooner - forget about the souvenir thing, or turning the booster into a museum display. Inspect the hell out of that thing and even re-fly it again if possible. Gaining more data on reusability will be far more important than showcasing their triumphs to the public.

And if a re-flight is successful, then re-fly that one again, too. Like Grasshopper, fly it until it breaks.

How should testing across multiple re-flights differ from the kind of testing that's been done uptil now? Isn't it going to require an even finer level of monitoring to detect the kinds of problems that will arise from multiple re-uses?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/02/2016 04:38 AM
I think this F9 is too valuable to refly. They can learn so much from this  returned stage, things that they could only guess at previously.

Hmm, like what for instance? I'm curious to know which components would be of greatest interest to inspectors.

Quote
Wait for the next stage to be successfully returned and then refly this one. That way you always have one on hand to learn from.

I think that the more re-flights a stage has had, the more valuable it is -- that's where you get to learn which stuff wears out the fastest. Whatever a singly-reflown stage will tell you, a multi-reflown stage will tell you even more of.

They need to find a way to test everything in situ - ie. inspect the stage while avoiding taking it apart only as a last resort.

The more times a mechanic opens up a car to fix something, the more potential there is for additional stuff to go wrong, just from the disassembly/reassembly process.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: dgates on 01/02/2016 05:28 AM
Any bets / guesses as to when the landed stage hot fire test will occur? Just to bound things, my thought is that two weeks is too soon but six months is too long.  Valentine's Day perhaps? St. Paddy's day?  I suspect SpaceX is fairly eager to make it happen, but who knows? 
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mikelepage on 01/02/2016 06:19 AM
And if a re-flight is successful, then re-fly that one again, too. Like Grasshopper, fly it until it breaks.

My thoughts are that they will do exactly this... with the second and all future returned stages, once they get their in-house satellite production working. 

This debate about how many times a stage can be reused will go on ad naseum until they have a conveyor belt of second stage + non-critical payloads coming to the launch site (such as building their satellite constellation), and they can just cycle launch/landings continuously until the booster fails.  Ideally, if they can show customers a graph like this (poisson distribution of flight number vs probability of failure), then you know exactly what you're getting with a reused booster:

(https://root.cern.ch/root/html524/gif/Poisson.gif)

I just found that pic online: obviously we're hoping for a distribution which peaks further to the right than this one.

EDIT: also I wouldn't be surprised if they have "early adopter" pricing for any payload that doesn't mind being a guinea pig in that test program
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sdsds on 01/02/2016 08:13 AM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Isn't this news almost as significant as the landing itself?

Refurbishment cost is often cited as a reason why re-use may not be economic. This seems like a pretty significant datum point against that argument to me.

Agreed, though note well Musk said "fire again" not "fly again."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/02/2016 12:48 PM
So they are doing a static fire at lc39. Is it going to be a 2-4 sec static fire or is it going to be a full duration static fire ~3min. Can lc39 stand a full duration test fire? I know mcgregor can but can lc39 do it since it is designed for a 2-4 sec and then launch?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 01/02/2016 01:09 PM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Gosh, and here I thought we had an interesting thread going, and Mr Buzzkill Elon Musk tells us that no refurbishment may be necessary - other than soot removal and a fresh coat of paint.

He said nothing like that.
He said there is no damage, that doesn't mean stuff doesn't need to be replaced or cleaned (and I don't mean on the outside), you replace stuff for wear all the time in all kind of machinery (think of your car).
He also doesn't say that they haven't already done some of this.
And "ready to fire again" doesn't mean "ready to fly again". It doesn't even mean the whole thing is flightworthy. It doesn't mean the opposite either but don't interpret anything into Elon's words, he usually chooses them carefully in these things...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mheney on 01/02/2016 04:32 PM
I don't think there's too much TOO read in Elon's words, here,  "Ready to fire" say to me that if you wanted to run
the stage through a Static fire exercise, you could, with the date as-is.

Shouldn't be surprising.  The center engine was fired 4 times during the launch and landing; two other engines were fired 3 times (I think - launch, boostback, and braking burns?)   Unless there was physical damage due to interaction with stuff on the ground (sand, grit, gators ...), there's no reason they couldn't just be fired up again - they're designed to be both reusable and restartable.

Of course, the proof is setting her up on the stand and actually relighting her ...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Senex on 01/02/2016 07:03 PM
While speculation is popular and is often justified by the absence of facts, there ARE some facts available. 

In an interesting article, space historian David Portree cites a study that looked at the refurbishment costs of the X-15 program that provides probably the most relevant real-world data we have:


"In November 1966, James Love and William Young, engineers at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed a brief report in which they noted that the reusable suborbital booster for a reusable orbital spacecraft would undergo pressures, heating rates, and accelerations very similar to those the X-15 experienced."

"The average X-15 refurbishment time was 30 days, a period which had, they noted, hardly changed in four years. Even with identifiable improvements, they doubted that an X-15 could be refurbished in fewer than 20 days.

"At the same time, Love and Young argued that the X-15 program had demonstrated the benefits of reusability. They estimated that refurbishing an X-15 in 1964 had cost about $270,000 per mission.

"Love and Young cited North American Aviation estimates when they placed the cost of a new X-15 at about $9 million. They then calculated that 27 missions using expendable X-15s would have cost a total of $243 million. This meant, they wrote, that the cost of the reusable X-15 program in 1964 had amounted to just 3% of the cost of building 27 X-15s and throwing each one away after a single flight.

My bold.


http://www.wired.com/2013/05/the-x-15-rocket-plane-reusable-space-shuttle-boosters-1966/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/02/2016 09:22 PM
Anybody know what the theoretical or static-tested value is for the number of times the engines can be re-fired? Surely this must have been measured through rigorous ground testing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: the_other_Doug on 01/03/2016 01:12 AM
Anybody know what the theoretical or static-tested value is for the number of times the engines can be re-fired? Surely this must have been measured through rigorous ground testing.

I don't know if they have tested any of the engines to destruction, so it's hard to say.  I recall Ms. Shotwell noting at one point, a good year ago, that they were figuring on being able to fly each stage at least 10 times, but that their then-current testing indicated that the actual number of re-flights might become open-ended.  The phrase "maybe 40 or 50, maybe more" sticks in my head.

I won't be surprised if the actual number is a lot less than 40 or 50.  But I don't think anything official has been stated in terms of expected number of re-uses, and that SpaceX seems to think that 10 re-flights is a good number to toss out, but might be really conservative.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Torbjorn Larsson, OM on 01/03/2016 03:36 AM
Shouldn't be surprising.  The center engine was fired 4 times during the launch and landing; two other engines were fired 3 times (I think - launch, boostback, and braking burns?)   Unless there was physical damage due to interaction with stuff on the ground (sand, grit, gators ...), there's no reason they couldn't just be fired up again - they're designed to be both reusable and restartable.

Would they do it that way, wouldn't that tend to make them unnecessarily swap engine positions later? Wouldn't it be cheaper to apply a sequential even spread choice (with the possible exception of the center engine for the final single engine burn), as even as the octagon allows? I guess I am asking for photo evidence or other information on engine use.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: BruceM on 01/03/2016 04:06 AM
Quote
Falcon 9 back in the hangar at Cape Canaveral. No damage found, ready to fire again.

Isn't this news almost as significant as the landing itself?


They used to say trying to land a rocket doesn't make sense.  It is too (difficult, costly, inefficient, other - insert preferred explanation here ____________ ).

But Elon landed the rocket.

They used to say even if it could be landed it probably would be too (difficult, costly, inefficient, other -- insert preferred explanation here ____________ ) to reuse the rocket.

But Elon said, "No damage found, ready to fire again." While I'm not quite certain what this will actually mean in terms of turnaround (very interesting to hear all your thoughts on this), it does seem certain we've taken two very big steps.

Yes, there's still a lot to do.  But we've come light years.  Charles Krauthammer said, "Our trajectory in space... no longer will hinge on the whims of only tangentially interested politicians.  Space has now entered the era of the Teslas, the Edisons and the Wright brothers." (Thank you Eric Hedman).

It has been said before in this forum, "I wouldn't bet against Mr. Musk."  I wouldn't either.  The future is coming fast and all the tomorrows of space flight just got a whole lot closer.

What a great time to be alive!

What a great time to be a space enthusiast! (Thank you Chris & NASASpaceFLight).

What a great time to be part of this searching, struggling, strapping species called humans!

Bring it on!!!

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/03/2016 05:46 AM
While speculation is popular and is often justified by the absence of facts, there ARE some facts available. 

In an interesting article, space historian David Portree cites a study that looked at the refurbishment costs of the X-15 program that provides probably the most relevant real-world data we have:


"In November 1966, James Love and William Young, engineers at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed a brief report in which they noted that the reusable suborbital booster for a reusable orbital spacecraft would undergo pressures, heating rates, and accelerations very similar to those the X-15 experienced."

"The average X-15 refurbishment time was 30 days, a period which had, they noted, hardly changed in four years. Even with identifiable improvements, they doubted that an X-15 could be refurbished in fewer than 20 days.

"At the same time, Love and Young argued that the X-15 program had demonstrated the benefits of reusability. They estimated that refurbishing an X-15 in 1964 had cost about $270,000 per mission.

"Love and Young cited North American Aviation estimates when they placed the cost of a new X-15 at about $9 million. They then calculated that 27 missions using expendable X-15s would have cost a total of $243 million. This meant, they wrote, that the cost of the reusable X-15 program in 1964 had amounted to just 3% of the cost of building 27 X-15s and throwing each one away after a single flight.

My bold.


http://www.wired.com/2013/05/the-x-15-rocket-plane-reusable-space-shuttle-boosters-1966/

That means almost nothing for F9R reuse.
X-15 was an experimental aircraft with 50 yr old tech.
X-15 used outdated rockets, used wings, outdated structural materials, and was a government driven program.
The Shuttle used far more up to date technology, but the need to do orbital re-entry with all of those thermal tiles. And there are many other big problems.
SpaceX has designed this first stage to be reusable. With the state of the art materials (that aren't uber expensive).
I suggest reviewing discussion pre F9R first flight that Musk demanded massive margins (for a single flight) precisely in order to make reuse possible.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH on 01/03/2016 10:09 AM
While speculation is popular and is often justified by the absence of facts, there ARE some facts available. 

In an interesting article, space historian David Portree cites a study that looked at the refurbishment costs of the X-15 program that provides probably the most relevant real-world data we have:


"In November 1966, James Love and William Young, engineers at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed a brief report in which they noted that the reusable suborbital booster for a reusable orbital spacecraft would undergo pressures, heating rates, and accelerations very similar to those the X-15 experienced."

"The average X-15 refurbishment time was 30 days, a period which had, they noted, hardly changed in four years. Even with identifiable improvements, they doubted that an X-15 could be refurbished in fewer than 20 days.

"At the same time, Love and Young argued that the X-15 program had demonstrated the benefits of reusability. They estimated that refurbishing an X-15 in 1964 had cost about $270,000 per mission.

"Love and Young cited North American Aviation estimates when they placed the cost of a new X-15 at about $9 million. They then calculated that 27 missions using expendable X-15s would have cost a total of $243 million. This meant, they wrote, that the cost of the reusable X-15 program in 1964 had amounted to just 3% of the cost of building 27 X-15s and throwing each one away after a single flight.

My bold.


http://www.wired.com/2013/05/the-x-15-rocket-plane-reusable-space-shuttle-boosters-1966/

That means almost nothing for F9R reuse.
X-15 was an experimental aircraft with 50 yr old tech.
X-15 used outdated rockets, used wings, outdated structural materials, and was a government driven program.
The Shuttle used far more up to date technology, but the need to do orbital re-entry with all of those thermal tiles. And there are many other big problems.
SpaceX has designed this first stage to be reusable. With the state of the art materials (that aren't uber expensive).
I suggest reviewing discussion pre F9R first flight that Musk demanded massive margins (for a single flight) precisely in order to make reuse possible.

Nothing? Surely it gives an approximate baseline? They doubt it could be refurbed in 20 days. F9R should be less than that for exactly the reasons you specify.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/03/2016 10:36 AM
That means almost nothing for F9R reuse.
X-15 was an experimental aircraft with 50 yr old tech.
X-15 used outdated rockets, used wings, outdated structural materials, and was a government driven program.
The Shuttle used far more up to date technology, but the need to do orbital re-entry with all of those thermal tiles. And there are many other big problems.
SpaceX has designed this first stage to be reusable. With the state of the art materials (that aren't uber expensive).
I suggest reviewing discussion pre F9R first flight that Musk demanded massive margins (for a single flight) precisely in order to make reuse possible.

Nothing? Surely it gives an approximate baseline? They doubt it could be refurbed in 20 days. F9R should be less than that for exactly the reasons you specify.

You assume F9R will require frequent refurbishment. I assume SpaceX know what its doing, and that recovered stages will refly quite a few times.
If a stage can be launched safely for at least 10 times, I think there will be no refurb. The parts that are still good will be saved and the skin will become recycled metal.
Parts might be swapped, but that's not refurb.
A fleet of 20 stages flying 10 times = 300 launches. Let's not forget that.
That's enough even to launch the entire SpaceX earth internet constellation a few times over.

Edit/Lar: Fixed quotes
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 01/03/2016 02:25 PM
While speculation is popular and is often justified by the absence of facts, there ARE some facts available. 

In an interesting article, space historian David Portree cites a study that looked at the refurbishment costs of the X-15 program that provides probably the most relevant real-world data we have:


"In November 1966, James Love and William Young, engineers at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed a brief report in which they noted that the reusable suborbital booster for a reusable orbital spacecraft would undergo pressures, heating rates, and accelerations very similar to those the X-15 experienced."

"The average X-15 refurbishment time was 30 days, a period which had, they noted, hardly changed in four years. Even with identifiable improvements, they doubted that an X-15 could be refurbished in fewer than 20 days.

"At the same time, Love and Young argued that the X-15 program had demonstrated the benefits of reusability. They estimated that refurbishing an X-15 in 1964 had cost about $270,000 per mission.

"Love and Young cited North American Aviation estimates when they placed the cost of a new X-15 at about $9 million. They then calculated that 27 missions using expendable X-15s would have cost a total of $243 million. This meant, they wrote, that the cost of the reusable X-15 program in 1964 had amounted to just 3% of the cost of building 27 X-15s and throwing each one away after a single flight.

My bold.


http://www.wired.com/2013/05/the-x-15-rocket-plane-reusable-space-shuttle-boosters-1966/

That means almost nothing for F9R reuse.
X-15 was an experimental aircraft with 50 yr old tech.
X-15 used outdated rockets, used wings, outdated structural materials, and was a government driven program.
The Shuttle used far more up to date technology, but the need to do orbital re-entry with all of those thermal tiles. And there are many other big problems.
SpaceX has designed this first stage to be reusable. With the state of the art materials (that aren't uber expensive).
I suggest reviewing discussion pre F9R first flight that Musk demanded massive margins (for a single flight) precisely in order to make reuse possible.

Nothing? Surely it gives an approximate baseline? They doubt it could be refurbed in 20 days. F9R should be less than that for exactly the reasons you specify.

No it doesn't at all. It just looks at the vehicle cost comparing the cost of a new vehicle to the refurbishment costs.
It completely leaves out the mission cost with things like pilots, facilities, a B 52,...
Unless you know the number for these you know the overall amount of $$$ saved but not whether that amounts to 10%, 50% or 75% or whatever of the program cost. The one thing you do know by looking at the figures is that there 3% are nonsense
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Senex on 01/03/2016 06:12 PM

That means almost nothing for F9R reuse.
X-15 was an experimental aircraft with 50 yr old tech.
X-15 used outdated rockets, used wings, outdated structural materials, and was a government driven program.
The Shuttle used far more up to date technology, but the need to do orbital re-entry with all of those thermal tiles. And there are many other big problems.
SpaceX has designed this first stage to be reusable. With the state of the art materials (that aren't uber expensive).
I suggest reviewing discussion pre F9R first flight that Musk demanded massive margins (for a single flight) precisely in order to make reuse possible.

I totally agree — that was my point as well. 

I had cross-posted the reference to Portree's article over on 

SpaceX General Section / Re: SpaceX long-term stage processing goal = 48 hour turnaround

as well, and added:

At least two implications can be deduced from this reference:

1. There has been much talk on the forums about the effects of "fatigue" with images of much of the booster requiring rework or even replacement.  Three X-15's flew 199 flights — and average of 66 each.  Just because a Falcon 9 flies high and fast does not mean it will be structurally degraded after a few cycles.

2. The X-15 required weeks of refurbishment.  It is safe to assume that most of that related to mechanical equipment.  That was with technology that had literally just been invented.  In a vehicle designed from the beginning with operating economies in mind, using a relatively mature technology, this might be dramatically lower.

I think so much of the reuse concerns have been overstated.  So, again, I agree with you.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 01/03/2016 06:31 PM

Shouldn't be surprising.  The center engine was fired 4 times during the launch and landing; two other engines were fired 3 times (I think - launch, boostback, and braking burns?)   Unless there was physical damage due to interaction with stuff on the ground (sand, grit, gators ...), there's no reason they couldn't just be fired up again - they're designed to be both reusable and restartable.

Would they do it that way, wouldn't that tend to make them unnecessarily swap engine positions later? Wouldn't it be cheaper to apply a sequential even spread choice (with the possible exception of the center engine for the final single engine burn), as even as the octagon allows? I guess I am asking for photo evidence or other information on engine use.

The center engine is used in all burns. And as far as why you would use the same other two engines for multiple burns - we don't know - but it has been assumed, since when each engine has a its own supply of ignition fluids (TEA/TEB) it makes more sense to just give 3 engines more of it instead of giving all engines the same restart capability. (It is nasty dangerous stuff) But I could be wrong on the last point.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/03/2016 07:24 PM
The center engine is used in all burns. And as far as why you would use the same other two engines for multiple burns - we don't know - but it has been assumed, since when each engine has a its own supply of ignition fluids (TEA/TEB) it makes more sense to just give 3 engines more of it instead of giving all engines the same restart capability. (It is nasty dangerous stuff) But I could be wrong on the last point.

I am assuming something else. All engines are ground started from an external supply. So why would they not be air started by a common supply? It would be a pure software command, which engine restarts. That would make it possible to use the outer engines in turn. Only the center engine would need to be replaced/refurbished sooner. Unless there are other reasons in the geometry of the stage to always use the same engines.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/03/2016 09:07 PM
The center engine is used in all burns. And as far as why you would use the same other two engines for multiple burns - we don't know - but it has been assumed, since when each engine has a its own supply of ignition fluids (TEA/TEB) it makes more sense to just give 3 engines more of it instead of giving all engines the same restart capability. (It is nasty dangerous stuff) But I could be wrong on the last point.

So on the one hand there's the idea that across multiple reflights, you keep the same engines in the same spots, using them in exactly the same way again and again. This means that the 3 engines used for multiple burns within a flight are a bit more suped up - particularly that central engine that gets used for landing.

Then on the other hand, there's the idea that you "rotate the tires" across multiple reflights - swapping the less used engines in place of the more used ones, so that they all get their fair share of wear and tear.

Which way is the better way out of those 2 approaches - and why? Are there any other approaches that might be better still? Why?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Coastal Ron on 01/03/2016 09:23 PM
So on the one hand there's the idea that across multiple reflights, you keep the same engines in the same spots, using them in exactly the same way again and again. This means that the 3 engines used for multiple burns within a flight are a bit more suped up - particularly that central engine that gets used for landing.

Then on the other hand, there's the idea that you "rotate the tires" across multiple reflights - swapping the less used engines in place of the more used ones, so that they all get their fair share of wear and tear.

Which way is the better way out of those 2 approaches - and why? Are there any other approaches that might be better still? Why?

Early on SpaceX may be taking engines off at a much higher rate to validate empirically how they're doing, so let's ignore that for right now.

Once they have validated engine reliability, I'm not familiar with how airlines handle this but I would imagine that you would not remove an engine unless there is a reason you don't want it to fly on the next flight.

Over time you're going to end up with a mix of used engines, including the potential for some to be flown on new stages, so "rotating" them is not going to add much value, especially the eight outboard engines.

My $0.02
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: HIP2BSQRE on 01/03/2016 09:26 PM
Anybody know what the theoretical or static-tested value is for the number of times the engines can be re-fired? Surely this must have been measured through rigorous ground testing.

I don't know if they have tested any of the engines to destruction, so it's hard to say.  I recall Ms. Shotwell noting at one point, a good year ago, that they were figuring on being able to fly each stage at least 10 times, but that their then-current testing indicated that the actual number of re-flights might become open-ended.  The phrase "maybe 40 or 50, maybe more" sticks in my head.

I won't be surprised if the actual number is a lot less than 40 or 50.  But I don't think anything official has been stated in terms of expected number of re-uses, and that SpaceX seems to think that 10 re-flights is a good number to toss out, but might be really conservative.

Here is the quote " “If you are able to refly your first stage, you need to establish how many times can you refly it -- is it 20 times, 40 times, 50 times?”  SpaceX does not know.    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-13/spacex-plans-to-try-again-to-land-rocket-booster-on-barge-at-sea
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/03/2016 09:49 PM
Here is the quote " “If you are able to refly your first stage, you need to establish how many times can you refly it -- is it 20 times, 40 times, 50 times?”  SpaceX does not know.    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-13/spacex-plans-to-try-again-to-land-rocket-booster-on-barge-at-sea

That's for the airframe. They were and probably are not yet sure how many reflights they can do with that. But there is the statement of Elon Musk about the engines. 40 cycles, which was assumed to be ignitions between refurbishments. But the engines have no meaningful limit of use. After 40 cycles some highly stressed components need to be replaced.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rpapo on 01/03/2016 09:58 PM
That's for the airframe. They were and probably are not yet sure how many reflights they can do with that. But there is the statement of Elon Musk about the engines. 40 cycles, which was assumed to be ignitions between refurbishments. But the engines have no meaningful limit of use. After 40 cycles some highly stressed components need to be replaced.
A wise man on this site (not Jim) once suggested that the Helium COPV bottles may be the items with the shortest useful life, both in time and cycles.  I tend to agree.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: joek on 01/03/2016 10:08 PM
So on the one hand there's the idea that across multiple reflights, you keep the same engines in the same spots, using them in exactly the same way again and again. This means that the 3 engines used for multiple burns within a flight are a bit more suped up - particularly that central engine that gets used for landing.

Then on the other hand, there's the idea that you "rotate the tires" across multiple reflights - swapping the less used engines in place of the more used ones, so that they all get their fair share of wear and tear.

Which way is the better way out of those 2 approaches - and why? Are there any other approaches that might be better still? Why?

Early on SpaceX may be taking engines off at a much higher rate to validate empirically how they're doing, so let's ignore that for right now.

Once they have validated engine reliability, I'm not familiar with how airlines handle this but I would imagine that you would not remove an engine unless there is a reason you don't want it to fly on the next flight.

Over time you're going to end up with a mix of used engines, including the potential for some to be flown on new stages, so "rotating" them is not going to add much value, especially the eight outboard engines.

In general you do not remove a component unless there is reason to do so.  The reasons fall into three broad categories:
1. Hard time -- Limits based on aging or wear characteristics vs. time or cycles.  These are likely still to be established.[1]
2. Condition -- Inspection to identify aging or wear vs. standard.  These are likely nominally understood but with hard limits yet to be established.
3. Monitoring -- Operational data which indicates potential for additional wear or off-nominal conditions.

[1] edit: For flown components.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 01/03/2016 10:23 PM
Though I've not seen any mention of it, from a reusable /refurb perspective, I wonder if it would make sense to get away from high pressure gas, and He altogether by going in some IVF path? Then you can drop the COPV He bottles and associated struts
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 01/03/2016 11:37 PM

The center engine is used in all burns. And as far as why you would use the same other two engines for multiple burns - we don't know - but it has been assumed, since when each engine has a its own supply of ignition fluids (TEA/TEB) it makes more sense to just give 3 engines more of it instead of giving all engines the same restart capability. (It is nasty dangerous stuff) But I could be wrong on the last point.

I am assuming something else. All engines are ground started from an external supply. So why would they not be air started by a common supply? It would be a pure software command, which engine restarts. That would make it possible to use the outer engines in turn. Only the center engine would need to be replaced/refurbished sooner. Unless there are other reasons in the geometry of the stage to always use the same engines.

You might be right. We don't know if there is a central source of TEA-TEB, or if the engines have their own supply.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Coastal Ron on 01/04/2016 01:14 AM
Though I've not seen any mention of it, from a reusable /refurb perspective, I wonder if it would make sense to get away from high pressure gas, and He altogether by going in some IVF path? Then you can drop the COPV He bottles and associated struts

They plan to do that with the BFR/MCT by using autogenous pressurization (i.e. engine supplied vaporized propellants for tank pressurization).

Falcon 9/Heavy is probably not going to change since that would take significant engineering resources for a product/system that is already "good enough".  Of course that assumes that the He pressurization system doesn't continue to be their Achilles Heal...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 01/04/2016 03:37 AM
Umm, right now I doubt that structural issues will be the limiting factor for the number of reuses. Right now a significant number of their payloads need to use the margin they have for landing the stage so it can't be reused. Judging by their manifest that makes it unlikely they're going to get more than two or three reflights out of a core so the discussion is quite moot for F9.

I know, those here who haven't really done the maths on how much reuse saves (but that's another thread) think those payloads will go on a heavy but given the cost associated with that this is unlikely.

So... Nice theory exercise for MCT and BFR but not really relevant for F9...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pathfinder_01 on 01/04/2016 04:13 AM
Umm, right now I doubt that structural issues will be the limiting factor for the number of reuses. Right now a significant number of their payloads need to use the margin they have for landing the stage so it can't be reused. Judging by their manifest that makes it unlikely they're going to get more than two or three reflights out of a core so the discussion is quite moot for F9.

I know, those here who haven't really done the maths on how much reuse saves (but that's another thread) think those payloads will go on a heavy but given the cost associated with that this is unlikely.

So... Nice theory exercise for MCT and BFR but not really relevant for F9...

While 2-3 reflights maybe all that is possible, thoose 2-3 reflights could come at an higher profit margin to Space X if  refurbishment costs are not too great. The nice thing about the F9/FH is that the system is both reuseable and disposable.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 01/04/2016 05:42 AM
Sure. All I'm saying is the actual structural life time of the stage is probably no limiting factor.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/04/2016 07:34 AM
I know, those here who haven't really done the maths on how much reuse saves (but that's another thread) think those payloads will go on a heavy but given the cost associated with that this is unlikely.

Oh, well. It's only the concept of SpaceX and what do they know about reusability of the Falcon family.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 01/04/2016 07:48 AM
Their manifest says otherwise.
And no, it's not their concept to use heavy for everything. They have stated that they might eventually do that but everything beyond that is fanboy fantasy.

Heavy also reduces some of the advantages of reuse because it clearly has much higher refurbishment and handling cost than a single core.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/04/2016 10:21 AM
Their manifest says otherwise.
And no, it's not their concept to use heavy for everything. They have stated that they might eventually do that but everything beyond that is fanboy fantasy.

Where do you think the many FH on the manifest come from? They plan to use it for everything too heavy for reusable F9.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/04/2016 01:54 PM
Right now a significant number of their payloads need to use the margin they have for landing the stage so it can't be reused.
Shotwell has cited the main benefit of the F9FT is allowing a barge landing on flights that wouldn't have been able to in the past (GTO).  It has yet to be established just how heavy a payload the F9FT can throw to GTO and still carry legs and reserve propellant for a downrange landing.  A barge landing is estimated to require a ~15% performance margin.  I am guessing we won't really know for sure immediately as the next GTO payload (SES-9) is quite heavy.

According to Wiki the heaviest bird F9 has thrown to GTO was TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT at 4707kg.  According to Gunter's, SES-9 is 5330kg, so it will be the heaviest payload to GTO for F9 to date.

I threw together a quick table of upcoming flights and masses to get an idea of how many recovery flights might be possible over the next year or so.  I didn't spend a ton of time vetting these so some flights might have been delayed/canceled/whatever.  Masses are from Gunter's and I note when I am estimating based on a similar bird.  I categorized payload recovery as Yes, Probably, Possibly, and Unlikely based on mass and past history, and taking into account the ~33% payload increase to GTO that F9FT is supposed to provide.

Payload                        Mass     Dest   Recovery Possible?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jason-3                         533kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-8                             ?kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-9                             ?kg   LEO    Yes
SES-9                          5330kg   GTO    Possibly (based on evidence that a barge landing will be attempted)
SES-10                         5300kg   GTO    Possibly
Thaicom 8                      3100kg   GTO    Yes
ABS 2A, Eutelsat 117 West B   ~4000kg?  GTO    Possibly (based on ABS-3A, Eutelsat 115 West B mass)
JCSAT-14                      ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass)
BulgariaSat-1                 ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass, same SSL-1300 bus)
JCSAT-16                      ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass)
KoreaSat-5                     4465kg   GTO    Possibly
Es'hail-2                     ~3000kg   GTO    Probably
CRS-11                            ?kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-12                            ?kg   LEO    Yes
Formosat-5                      525kg   SSO    Yes
Iridium NEXT 1                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 2                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 3                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 4                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 5                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)

Based on this I count 15 likely recovery flights out of 20.  That's a far cry from "only a few flights" being possible for recovery.  And that's arguably conservative, as F9FT should have enough margin to recover anything that has previously flown on an F91.1 (up to 4707kg).

Corrections welcome, I am sure there is some stuff that will likely need to be fixed here.

Update: I've updated SES-9 and 10 to "possibly" based on news that an application for barge landing has been filed.  That means that, theoretically, all of the upcoming launches will allow for recovery.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: LouScheffer on 01/04/2016 02:55 PM
Right now a significant number of their payloads need to use the margin they have for landing the stage so it can't be reused.
...  It has yet to be established just how heavy a payload the F9FT can throw to GTO and still carry legs and reserve propellant for a downrange landing.  A barge landing is estimated to require a ~15% performance margin.  I am guessing we won't really know for sure immediately as the next GTO payload (SES-9) is quite heavy.

According to Wiki the heaviest bird F9 has thrown to GTO was TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT at 4707kg.  According to Gunter's, SES-9 is 5330kg, so it will be the heaviest payload to GTO for F9 to date.
From back-of-the-envelope calculations of the four improvements (cooled fuel, full thrust, bigger second stage, better ISP of second stage), and Musk's comments about staging velocity, ( https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1463298#msg1463298 ) it's possible SES-9 could be recoverable, particularly if they are willing to accept an 1800 m/s deficit to GEO (apogee at GEO, no inclination reduction). 
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/04/2016 03:03 PM
From back-of-the-envelope calculations of the four improvements (cooled fuel, full thrust, bigger second stage, better ISP of second stage), and Musk's comments about staging velocity, ( https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1463298#msg1463298 ) it's possible SES-9 could be recoverable, particularly if they are willing to accept an 1800 m/s deficit to GEO (apogee at GEO, no inclination reduction).
Right.  I originally classified the SES payloads as "possible", but I decided to be a little more conservative instead.  I do think it is possible we see legs on SES-9, which would have interesting repercussions...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Dante80 on 01/04/2016 03:05 PM
I think that SES would love to be part of the party, but they also would love Falcon to give SES9-10 a super-synchronous orbit like SES8 (if it could manage it).

Lets see how this unfolds..

edit: barging may be on the schedule... https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/STA_Print.cfm?mode=initial&application_seq=69076&RequestTimeout=1000 (https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/STA_Print.cfm?mode=initial&application_seq=69076&RequestTimeout=1000)

660km away for this one.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/04/2016 03:51 PM
Geez at this rate they are going to need a lz-2 in the bahamas. :)

Or maybe bernuda. Don't know if thats too far. Definitely in the wrong direction for gto. Maybe the center booster of falcon heavy?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/04/2016 04:35 PM
The increase in performance of the F9FT should be able to at least barge land every currently manifested payload with RTLS for all but the heaviest that also wants to have higher energy orbit than what they would have gotten on F9v1.1.

F9v1.1 [no landing] -> F9FT [RTLS or with a higher energy orbit a Barge landing]
F9v1.1 [Barge landing] -> F9FT [RTLS even with a higher energy orbit]
F9v1.1 [RTLS] -> F9FT [RTLS with additional burn for even slower reentry]

The other item here is the current costs of this refurbishment processing to the point of full duration static fire.
 Total work days from recovery is at 14 days so far with 6 days (weekends + holidays) as probably no work = 8 work days of single shift crew.

Question becomes how many average crew over the period 10,20,50 100? My guess is at 20 only so far and almost all of them part of the LC39A new crew except a few experienced hands (technicians and engineers) from other pads, McGregor and Hawthorne leading the inspection and handling teams for both discovery and training in handling.

That would be a current balance for refurbishment cost at 8 days X $740 per day X 20 workers + $50,000 in equipment charges and other charges = $168,400 so far.

1 month at 50 workers + other charges [except equipment replacement part costs] would be only about $420,000.

2 months of labor plus additional misc cost for 150 workers would be about $3M. That is the size of the entire pad crew working on just this core for 2 months!! I do not think that this will be the case for this core and probably most cores. More like the 50 workers for 1 month ~$500K.

Now how many parts if any would be replaced (avionics, actuators, valves, TEA/TEB, complete engines, COPVs, etc)? That looks to be the main driver for refurbishment costs not the number of personnel to refurbish.

Refurbishment labor costs (1 to 2 months of 50 crew)+misc costs $.5-1M
Replacement parts? $0-10M [largest ticket item are engines]

3 engines swapped out is only a charge of $3-4.5M plus $1M in other parts brings a probable refurbishment cost to a range of $1.5M to $6.5M.

This seems to indicate that refurbishment charges are not going to be a lot and on average could be very small. In fact if they are estimated for a stage to be above a certain value the stage may be junked for parts.

also it may be cheaper to discard an engine not easily refurbished (a refurbishment cost for the engine at no more than $500K) since a brand new one has a cost of as low as $1M. If an engine needs that much rework it is not a good engine and refurbishment probably would not make it a better engine. most likely are engines that fail in-flight. They would be engineering and QC articles to discover what went wrong but probably not an engine slatted for reflight.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OxCartMark on 01/05/2016 02:35 AM
Total work days from recovery is at 14 days so far with 6 days (weekends + holidays) as probably no work = 8 work days of single shift crew.

Question becomes how many average crew over the period 10,20,50 100? My guess is at 20 only so far

Outside of cleaning the soot off the tanks {and maybe one thing that shall not be mentioned} there isn't much to base the case on that there has been or will be any refurbishment.  As far as I can see its in the new building because the building is empty and they don't want bird poo to accumulate on the stage.  Elon knows what is happening in the building and he said its ready to fire.  You don't know what is happening in the building and I think you've done a lot of imagining or at least shuttle based assuming.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/05/2016 08:03 AM

That would be a current balance for refurbishment cost at 8 days X $740 per day X 20 workers + $50,000 in equipment charges and other charges = $168,400 so far.

Refurbishment labor costs (1 to 2 months of 50 crew)+misc costs $.5-1M
Replacement parts? $0-10M [largest ticket item are engines]

3 engines swapped out is only a charge of $3-4.5M plus $1M in other parts brings a probable refurbishment cost to a range of $1.5M to $6.5M.
Thanks for this OAG. My only real figure for staff costs was the average figure full up cost for a full time employee on the Shuttle programme at around $128k each. That $740/day figure will come in handy.

I'm going to have to break out support hardware and replacement parts in new headings for my costing game. Version 6 here it comes.<sigh>

What I wonder is how many people realize you are "thinking out loud" when you mention numbers for some of these things. IE What they might be and how good, or bad they may be.

I will note 3 things.

Firstly when NASA eliminated the White top coat from the ET they saved 100s of Kg of mass that went straight to orbiter payload. Thin layers over enough skin area multiply up.  :(

Secondly the obvious solution is something like an industrial sized hot air paint stripper with an "air knife" attachment, possibly with a GO2 feed down stream of the heater/blower.

Properly adjusted this starts the process of burning the HC residues down to CO2 and water without triggering the underlying ablative to start boiling off, restoring the pristine flight weight surface.  IRL I'd want a big fume extraction systems pointed at it and running full blast as I value my lungs  :(

Thirdly is an idea that occurred to me was that a lot of the potential stage inspection/refurbishment tasks could be described as :-
1)Clamp stage to a rotating base.
2)Have a guide way parallel to the stage carrying platform on an extensible arm to hold various sensors or tools.
3)Have the platform travel on the guide way moving in and out to track the stage and avoid its legs.

In fact if you called the platform a headstock, the guide way the bed and the platform a Saddle you'd be talking about a really big lathe.

Obviously "speeds and feeds" for it are a bit different than most peoples experience (less RPM and more MPR, with say 5m/hr along the bed) but such machines (and the companies that can build them) do exist.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/05/2016 08:14 AM
Falcon 9/Heavy is probably not going to change since that would take significant engineering resources for a product/system that is already "good enough". 
True. One thing we know is SX really does not like to retain 2 different versions of something. Once Raptor is ready and the BFR is ready the question becomes "Retain RP1 and install CH4 piping or go CH4 for everything?"
But I doubt that will happen for another 8-10 years.
Quote
Of course that assumes that the He pressurization system doesn't continue to be their Achilles Heal...
That's a bit harsh.

COPV have had excellent safety records. The GHe ones on the SSME's ran to 4000psi and I'm not sure if they were ever  replaced (a Jim question?). The downside is their damage potential is measured in terms of Kg of TNT, due to their stored energy. An interesting question would be would the range safety people (usually the USAF?) let the certification on these tanks they did for the original launch carry over to further launches? If not then SX will have to do the process all over again.  :(
That would probably be enough to start them looking at "IVF like" (as IVF is covered by patents) options.

That said AFAIk none of them were inside a cryogenic tank, although the Saturn 1 & Saturn V ones were. However I think they were Titanium. Interestingly an upgrade project on Saturn was looking at replacing them with pressure stretched stainless steel with the same weight at 1/13 of the cost.

The mounting hardware on the other hand...

The center engine is used in all burns. And as far as why you would use the same other two engines for multiple burns - we don't know - but it has been assumed, since when each engine has a its own supply of ignition fluids (TEA/TEB) it makes more sense to just give 3 engines more of it instead of giving all engines the same restart capability. (It is nasty dangerous stuff) But I could be wrong on the last point.

I am assuming something else. All engines are ground started from an external supply. So why would they not be air started by a common supply? It would be a pure software command, which engine restarts. That would make it possible to use the outer engines in turn. Only the center engine would need to be replaced/refurbished sooner. Unless there are other reasons in the geometry of the stage to always use the same engines.

You might be right. We don't know if there is a central source of TEA-TEB, or if the engines have their own supply.
True. Theoretically a central system adds flexibility and saves weight.

The downside is a)It's a single point of failure. That tank leaks and all engines have a problem b)Engine change out now includes breaking the connections of a line carrying a very nasty chemical. That means staff on the pad in SCAPE suits rather than coveralls, gloves and visors. c)The Merlin Vac needs a standalone engine starter anyway. While people keep saying the Merlin Vac is much  more than a stock Merlin with a big nozzle this would represent more unique parts that SX have to build/test/store/install/troubleshoot/repair.

SX have shown themselves well aware of the cost of storing more complex inventories than they need to.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/05/2016 08:39 AM
SX have shown themselves well aware of the cost of storing more complex inventories than they need to.

I have only presented a possible solution. I don't intend to fight for it to be true. But on this point: The method would allow for all engines to be the same, no added complexity for restart. No need to build and stock several versions. The distribution system for TEA/TEB is already in place, it is needed for the ground start. That additional tank would only need to feed into that distribution system. So I don't see any added complexity in handling as well.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/05/2016 10:18 AM
The distribution system for TEA/TEB is already in place, it is needed for the ground start.
Is this confirmed? The starting tank for an SR71 was only about 4" in dia. It was good for several (more than 1 but I think less than 10) starts.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/05/2016 10:20 AM
The distribution system for TEA/TEB is already in place, it is needed for the ground start.
Is this confirmed? The starting tank for an SR71 was only about 4" in dia. It was good for several (more than 1 but I think less than 10) starts.

I have no insight. But ground supply for engine start was mentioned repeatedly and I assumed it is true.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 01/05/2016 01:01 PM
Personally, I foresee that the first reuse flight will be something that does not require full flight-duration of the core in any case like the Dragon aerial abort test. You will want the core instrumented to hell and back anyway for the sake of the test and it only needs to last until Max-Q (+1:00 to +1:30-ish, IIRC). The Dragon will fly with 'live' abort software anyway, so if the core fails early, you'd have some confidence of salvaging the payload; the upper stage simulator isn't an issue.

It would be more sensible to do this than to risk a paying customer's payload.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/05/2016 02:13 PM
Personally, I foresee that the first reuse flight will be something that does not require full flight-duration of the core in any case like the Dragon aerial abort test. You will want the core instrumented to hell and back anyway for the sake of the test and it only needs to last until Max-Q (+1:00 to +1:30-ish, IIRC). The Dragon will fly with 'live' abort software anyway, so if the core fails early, you'd have some confidence of salvaging the payload; the upper stage simulator isn't an issue.

It would be more sensible to do this than to risk a paying customer's payload.

True. But they do have a stage ready for that flight, that cannot be used otherwise. With all confidence I would not use a flown stage in the very first reflight for such an important CC-milestone.

 OT On second thought the test stage is a 1.1. Can they still fly it?

I would assume the first or first few flights as tests with upper stage dummy and RTLS. Or as pure first stage flights in New Mexico.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/05/2016 02:25 PM
The most logical layout would be an S2 dummy that's actually a big water tank.
Fly up with the tank full, then empty the tank at apogee (simulating the weight change of S2 sep).
Or would the S2 simulator be expendable ? A risk that thing crashing into the ground in NM and hurting someone.
Just thinking out loud...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 01/05/2016 03:27 PM
The most logical layout would be an S2 dummy that's actually a big water tank.
Fly up with the tank full, then empty the tank at apogee (simulating the weight change of S2 sep).
Or would the S2 simulator be expendable ? A risk that thing crashing into the ground in NM and hurting someone.
Just thinking out loud...

They will probably fly a paying customer at a significant discount (that discount should be deep enough to cover insurance increase and provide profit incentive and/or an early launch slot).  How many dummy payloads have they launched to date for all the development work done?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 01/05/2016 03:31 PM
Personally, I foresee that the first reuse flight will be something that does not require full flight-duration of the core in any case like the Dragon aerial abort test. You will want the core instrumented to hell and back anyway for the sake of the test and it only needs to last until Max-Q (+1:00 to +1:30-ish, IIRC). The Dragon will fly with 'live' abort software anyway, so if the core fails early, you'd have some confidence of salvaging the payload; the upper stage simulator isn't an issue.

It would be more sensible to do this than to risk a paying customer's payload.

True. But they do have a stage ready for that flight, that cannot be used otherwise. With all confidence I would not use a flown stage in the very first reflight for such an important CC-milestone.

 OT On second thought the test stage is a 1.1. Can they still fly it?

I would assume the first or first few flights as tests with upper stage dummy and RTLS. Or as pure first stage flights in New Mexico.

They have done all(lots anyway) densified propellant preparations at Vandenberg and they are still launching a v1.1.  In-flight abort might be next there.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/05/2016 03:55 PM
The distribution system for TEA/TEB is already in place, it is needed for the ground start.
Is this confirmed? The starting tank for an SR71 was only about 4" in dia. It was good for several (more than 1 but I think less than 10) starts.

I have no insight. But ground supply for engine start was mentioned repeatedly and I assumed it is true.
Ground start supply was for the He to spin up the turbines which is followed by a small amount of TEA/TEB to get the two combustion chambers burning and to continue quick ramp up of the turbine speeds. In flight the restart is done via a common He bottle on same supply line isolated from external by a valve. BTW the He supply line and start bottle is redundant. This is known due to a startup problem on one flight of the valve/supply line malfunction on a V1.0 launch abort when an M1C engine did not start. For M1D the lines were made redundant because the engines needed to be insured they would start in flight.

The basic point is that TEA/TEB tankage would be refilled or handled during normal stage processing and not as a step in refurbishment other than a check for leaks for safety. The engines are not shipped across country with the TEA/TEB tanks filled without a permit for hazardous chemicals. It would be easier to ship the stage or engines across country by draining the TEA/TEB tanks at McGregor before shipment. So there would be a hazardous material procedure to load the tanks in the stage processing just like for any hydrazine, UDMH or N2O4.

The general point about refurbishment is that the costs, at least for this core, are inspections looking for potential problems. Most of the refills are all part of the normal stage processing process and would not be an extra charge per launch for a reused stage. Refurbishment costs are generally limited to inspection and parts replacement.

If this booster stage is typical then the refurbishment costs will be very minimal possibly less than $1M total including handling a the landing site.

The only remaining question is about the paint. Will they do a touch up, complete strip and repaint, or just clean and leave it be?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: shooter6947 on 01/05/2016 11:51 PM

Jason-3                         533kg   LEO    Yes


533kg -- that's tiny!  They could have launched it on a Falcon 1 almost, but then I guess that you couldn't re-use the booster.  Still, I guess that F9 second stage is pretty much just a Falcon 1 first stage anyway, so if they recover the booster maybe the net costs will be similar.

I guess that there just aren't any credible and reliable American launchers smaller than F9 that NASA could have selected these days.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 01/05/2016 11:59 PM

533kg -- that's tiny!  They could have launched it on a Falcon 1 almost, but then I guess that you couldn't re-use the booster.  Still, I guess that F9 second stage is pretty much just a Falcon 1 first stage anyway, so if they recover the booster maybe the net costs will be similar.

I guess that there just aren't any credible and reliable American launchers smaller than F9 that NASA could have selected these days.

Delta II and Atlas V
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/06/2016 12:38 AM

533kg -- that's tiny!  They could have launched it on a Falcon 1 almost, but then I guess that you couldn't re-use the booster.  Still, I guess that F9 second stage is pretty much just a Falcon 1 first stage anyway, so if they recover the booster maybe the net costs will be similar.

I guess that there just aren't any credible and reliable American launchers smaller than F9 that NASA could have selected these days.

Delta II and Atlas V
When Jason 3 was booked they used the v1.0 performance as the vehicle they were buying a ride on. It just so happens the vehicle they are riding on the v1.1 has 30% more than that one. It almost ended on a F9FT with more than 2 x the performance. The reason SpaceX got the contract was because of price and the unwillingness to use the last Delta II (an almost equal cost vehicle for such a small payload) on a low priority mission.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: shooter6947 on 01/06/2016 02:24 AM

I guess that there just aren't any credible and reliable American launchers smaller than F9 that NASA could have selected these days.

Delta II and Atlas V

I suppose that Atlas V 401 does have a lower mass to LEO than Falcon 9, true.  More expensive, though, obv.  Delta II's are awesome -- too bad ULA doesn't seem to be interested in restarting the production line on those.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/06/2016 06:25 AM
The most logical layout would be an S2 dummy that's actually a big water tank.
Fly up with the tank full, then empty the tank at apogee (simulating the weight change of S2 sep).
Or would the S2 simulator be expendable ? A risk that thing crashing into the ground in NM and hurting someone.
Just thinking out loud...

They will probably fly a paying customer at a significant discount (that discount should be deep enough to cover insurance increase and provide profit incentive and/or an early launch slot).  How many dummy payloads have they launched to date for all the development work done?

I was thinking NM SpacePort America fly until it breaks test cycle.
If its going up in the cape, then yes, it would be a full orbital re-launch.
AFAIK NM doesn't allow orbital launches.
The Cape probably can't support a dozen test launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/06/2016 02:54 PM
The most logical layout would be an S2 dummy that's actually a big water tank.
Fly up with the tank full, then empty the tank at apogee (simulating the weight change of S2 sep).
Or would the S2 simulator be expendable ? A risk that thing crashing into the ground in NM and hurting someone.
Just thinking out loud...

They will probably fly a paying customer at a significant discount (that discount should be deep enough to cover insurance increase and provide profit incentive and/or an early launch slot).  How many dummy payloads have they launched to date for all the development work done?

I was thinking NM SpacePort America fly until it breaks test cycle.
If its going up in the cape, then yes, it would be a full orbital re-launch.
AFAIK NM doesn't allow orbital launches.
The Cape probably can't support a dozen test launches.

I like the spacex method. No test flight with dummy stuff. Just fly real stuff at a big discount. That way its still a test flight but real paying things get launched. As they get more test flights done the price gets higher and higher. I see the price on a already flown booster eventually getting a higher price than a new booster.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 01/06/2016 04:17 PM
I was thinking NM SpacePort America fly until it breaks test cycle.
If its going up in the cape, then yes, it would be a full orbital re-launch.
AFAIK NM doesn't allow orbital launches.
The Cape probably can't support a dozen test launches.

I like the spacex method. No test flight with dummy stuff. Just fly real stuff at a big discount. That way its still a test flight but real paying things get launched. As they get more test flights done the price gets higher and higher. I see the price on a already flown booster eventually getting a higher price than a new booster.

That's fine with a brand new rocket.
The issue with launching a paying customer's payload is if the launch fails its a big negative for SpaceX.
If there's no payload on top, its just another grasshopper test.
Think of it as GH2.

But if SpaceX is confident (its safe to do it). I sure will be cheering for them to succeed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RoboGoofers on 01/07/2016 05:04 PM
What will happen to a merlin engine after 30-50 firings (or whatever they establish as the lifetime of the engine)? Will they disassemble it and replace worn parts and put it back on a F9, or junk it and use a new merlin?



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 01/07/2016 05:06 PM
What will happen to a merlin engine after 30-50 firings (or whatever they establish as the lifetime of the engine)? Will they disassemble it and replace worn parts and put it back on a F9, or junk it and use a new merlin?

Junk it, presumably. Once the large components start to degrade - like the engine bell with wall chambers - it is not cost effective to repair it. But that's not a big deal... They are already building 100+ engines per year.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/07/2016 06:14 PM
What will happen to a merlin engine after 30-50 firings (or whatever they establish as the lifetime of the engine)? Will they disassemble it and replace worn parts and put it back on a F9, or junk it and use a new merlin?

Junk it, presumably. Once the large components start to degrade - like the engine bell with wall chambers - it is not cost effective to repair it. But that's not a big deal... They are already building 100+ engines per year.

Elon Musk said, some thermally high stressed parts would need replacement. We don't know which parts that would be. I agree that the regeneratively cooled engine bell or thrust chamber won't be replaced. But if it is just the preburner or easily accessible components of the turbo pump they may replace them.

Edit: fixed typo
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: inonepiece on 01/07/2016 08:59 PM
This image appears to show, at the base of the engine bells, what looks like a stitched material (curved, divided into relatively small squares by what looks like the stitching, darker black than most of surrounding image)?  Can that be true?  Either way, what is it and what are its likely eventual failure modes?

(https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=38148.0;attach=1091667)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/07/2016 10:55 PM
This image appears to show, at the base of the engine bells, what looks like a stitched material (curved, divided into relatively small squares by what looks like the stitching, darker black than most of surrounding image)?  Can that be true?  Either way, what is it and what are its likely eventual failure modes?
Looks like a TPS blanket to seal the compartment from recirculating combustion gases will allowing the engines to swivel.

Failure modes depend on blanket construction. Surface damage due to heat and noise (the sound level alone can do significant damage) is possible, as is thread damage and internal failure as it's flexed during engine motion. shuttle era blankets had a ceramic coating which made them brittle but later designs (not deployed) eliminated the coating (and hence the inspection & re coating). Such a part is subject to simultaneous thermal, audio and mechanical cyclic stresses.

I have no information on how often Shuttle blankets (specifically the ones doing the same job around the SSME's) were replaced.

But if it is just the preburner or easily accessible components of the turbo pump they may replace them.
What preburner?

Merlin runs a gas generator cycle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Dante80 on 01/07/2016 11:06 PM

What preburner?

Merlin runs a gas generator cycle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: QuantumG on 01/07/2016 11:22 PM
Another name being the "gas generator".
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 01/07/2016 11:31 PM
This image appears to show, at the base of the engine bells, what looks like a stitched material (curved, divided into relatively small squares by what looks like the stitching, darker black than most of surrounding image)?  Can that be true?  Either way, what is it and what are its likely eventual failure modes?

(https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=38148.0;attach=1091667)

It's a soft material that allows the engines to gimbal yet protects the interior of the thrust structure. See image here, before launch. As for failure modes? The usual for a fabric of that kind I imagine - tearing or burn through. But it is likely VERY tough if it can survive A) the radiated heat of 9 engines at full thrust for 3 minutes and B) supersonic retro-propulsion and C) braking/landing burns.

ULA uses something similar for the RD-180 on Atlas V. (image 2)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 01/07/2016 11:55 PM
Could be 3M Nextel Woven Ceramic Fabric...

http://www.3m.com/market/industrial/ceramics/solutions/aerospace_solutions.html
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: the_other_Doug on 01/07/2016 11:59 PM
The materials in question are basically thermal blankets.  They are made of various types of enhanced fabrics, and have been used to protect the engine assemblies for decades on any number of rockets.

I would imagine that the blankets used to swathe first-stage engine assemblies are multi-layered, with various layers serving different purposes.  Kevlar layers would be there for strength and to protect against any projectiles lifted up from the ground (on both lift-off and landing), while metal-coated layers and possibly woven metal layers would protect against the extreme thermal environment.

Multiple layers also give you an ablation effect, rather like how a book sitting in the fireplace may lose its outer pages and edges, but the inner layers remain mostly intact.  The outer layers of the blanket are allowed to burn away, taking away some of the heat pulse with the, while the inner layers remain to protect the engines.  (That's certainly the theory, I would imagine.)

The thermal blankets on the F9 first stage are rather obviously quilted.  The blankets on the Atlas V are not.

These are just big, custom-made blankets.  I doubt they're all that expensive in the larger scheme of things, and on the Falcon seem to be attached by bolt-down attach rings -- perfectly designed to be replaced when they are discovered to be in too poor a shape for reflight.

I really wouldn't worry too much about them.  I bet they can be replaced by a few people in a few days, at relatively low cost in the overall total of the stage's refurb needs.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/08/2016 12:07 AM
Nextel is a pretty good guess. Probably what I would use.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/08/2016 10:41 AM
As promised here is version 6 of my costing game.

The F9 tab has been upgraded to break out replacement parts costs and usage charges on special hardware like big cranes, along with a revised full time equivalent staff member cost from Old_Atlas_Eguy.

Personally I think the biggest shock is Musks statement that it costs $60m to build an F9, so the expected gross profit margin for each one is much smaller than people have been speculating.

As usual Blue cells are variables you can change.

I'd still like to get a solid figure for range charges. People have been saying about $500k, but does anyone know?

Any comments, questions or suggestions for improvement will be viewed with interest and may be put on the wish list.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/08/2016 02:27 PM
Personally I think the biggest shock is Musks statement that it costs $60m to build an F9
I think it is very much in doubt that is the cost.  We know $60m is the ballpark price of most commercial F9 flights to date.  Seems much more likely he is generally referring to price to launch and not the cost to build.  At a minimum I would guess it is the cost to launch (meaning no profit) rather than cost to build (losing money on every launch).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH on 01/08/2016 05:25 PM
Personally I think the biggest shock is Musks statement that it costs $60m to build an F9
I think it is very much in doubt that is the cost.  We know $60m is the ballpark price of most commercial F9 flights to date.  Seems much more likely he is generally referring to price to launch and not the cost to build.  At a minimum I would guess it is the cost to launch (meaning no profit) rather than cost to build (losing money on every launch).

It does seem unlikely that the rockets costs that much in ra materials and labour, given they make one in three weeks, and engines I believe are even quicker.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Llian Rhydderch on 01/08/2016 07:32 PM
The USD$60 million cost figure Elon threw out in response for a Q&A at a press conference, is just that.  Elon did not say, and we don't know, what components of cost Elon included for consumption by the media, or even if he may have been sloppy (which I personally doubt) and meant price to the customer, as another poster on this thread believes.

Let's assume he really meant cost.  Cost to an econ major like Elon likely means all costs, implicit and explicit, not merely accounting costs (which include only explicit costs).  We simply don't know what all he included in that, likely based on numerous presentations and discussions he has had with SpaceX employees in recent months and years. 

It is certainly possible that some of that cost he was talking about included extraordinary costs associated with SpaceX inefficiencies during the multi-month return to flight period, with large labor costs, and very low revenue.  Is he talking average costs or marginal costs?  If average costs, the avg cost of all F9 cores in what period of time.  So we may speculate, but we just really don't know.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/08/2016 09:10 PM
The relevant quote is "The Falcon 9 rocket costs about $60 million to build."  You can make up whatever you want but the literal interpretation (meaning he is not exercising any of the wild thought exercises you list) is that it does in fact cost about $60 million to build the rocket, in which case SpaceX is losing money on every commercial launch.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/08/2016 11:46 PM
The relevant quote is "The Falcon 9 rocket costs about $60 million to build."  You can make up whatever you want but the literal interpretation (meaning he is not exercising any of the wild thought exercises you list) is that it does in fact cost about $60 million to build the rocket, in which case SpaceX is losing money on every commercial launch.
That's a bit pessimistic given Shotwell has said the actual price for a comm sat launch is more like the $100m Arianespace charge. Wheather that and the NASA COTS contracts keeps them solidly in the Black is another matter.

But it is a much smaller gross margin than most people have been talking about (2%, not 20%).

Here's the actual quote from the thread "Re: Business effects of reusability"

EDIT: Further question: How does the following, from the transcript of the post RTLS conference call factor it? Is this the retracted statement you are referring to?

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/postlanding-teleconference-with-elon-musk-2015-12-22#

Quote
[1:29]

If you can perfect this technology to the point where you can begin actually reusing boosters can you give us a sense of what that might mean for lowering launch costs?

Yeah, absolutely. The Falcon 9 rocket costs about $60 million to build. It's kind of like a big jet. But, the cost of the propellant, which is mostly oxygen and the gas, is only about $200,000. That means that the potential cost reduction over the long term is probably in excess of a factor of 100.

SX is quite adept at information management and this seems a quite unguarded comment but I'd guess if anyone had that number Musk would have it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: QuantumG on 01/09/2016 12:16 AM
this seems a quite unguarded comment

Yeah, "unguarded".

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/09/2016 01:36 AM
this seems a quite unguarded comment

Yeah, "unguarded".
Well it was new to me.  :) Although according to Wikipedia they were projecting a cost for F9 in 2005 of $35m for the 5m fairing. That's annual compound inflation of 5.9%, when average US inflation over the same period was about 2.9%

Perhaps I should add an entry in my costing game.....
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: WindyCity on 01/09/2016 02:52 AM
The SpaceX website advertises the cost of a F9 missions at $61.2 million. Presumably, that means that it costs far less to build the rocket. I thought Musk said that the construction cost was $16 million, but this could be mistaken.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: HMXHMX on 01/09/2016 03:08 AM
this seems a quite unguarded comment

Yeah, "unguarded".
Well it was new to me.  :) Although according to Wikipedia they were projecting a cost for F9 in 2005 of $35m for the 5m fairing. That's annual compound inflation of 5.9%, when average US inflation over the same period was about 2.9%

Perhaps I should add an entry in my costing game.....

It was $12M for the F5 and $18M for the F9.  At least, that was the price I was discussing with Gwynne in 2005 (may have been Dec 2004) at SpaceX.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pathfinder_01 on 01/09/2016 03:15 AM
The relevant quote is "The Falcon 9 rocket costs about $60 million to build."  You can make up whatever you want but the literal interpretation (meaning he is not exercising any of the wild thought exercises you list) is that it does in fact cost about $60 million to build the rocket, in which case SpaceX is losing money on every commercial launch.

There are additional services required to launch an payload and charges associated with them that he could make some money with(i.e. integration, trajectory analysis). He isn't selling rockets, he is selling launch services.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/09/2016 03:34 AM
The word is build.  That's quite specific.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pathfinder_01 on 01/09/2016 03:47 AM
The word is build.  That's quite specific.

Yes, but it takes more than just building the rocket to put something in orbit. There are additional costs beyond the rocket that he can charge his customers.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 01/09/2016 07:44 AM
Fascinating that we need an interpretation of whenever Elon says something, its as if he is speaking a different language. Perhaps it's some "Martian dialect".. Just sayin'... ;D
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/09/2016 07:55 AM
Fascinating that we need an interpretation of whenever Elon says something, its as if he is speaking a different language. Perhaps it's some "Martian dialect".. Just sayin'... ;D

No, it's us. Everybody tries hard to interpret his words so they fit the own agenda.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mongo62 on 01/09/2016 02:20 PM
The SpaceX website advertises the cost of a F9 missions at $61.2 million. Presumably, that means that it costs far less to build the rocket. I thought Musk said that the construction cost was $16 million, but this could be mistaken.
I wonder if Elon did in fact say "sixteen million", not "sixty million" in that teleconference.  The recording I heard was rather noisy, and it could have been either. I understand that the cost of the engines is typically  90% of the total cost to build a rocket. $5.4 million per M1D engine seems high to me. Is $1.44 million per engine a reasonable amount?

edit -- Assuming that half of the SpaceX workforce works on engines (probably too high, but I'm being conservative), we have 2000 workers at total employment costs of $100,000 per year each (guessing), incurring an annual employment cost of $200 million to make 200-250 Merlin engines per year (Wikipedia states that SpeceX is making 4 Merlin engines per week, with plans to increase that to 5 per week). So the labor costs of making a Merlin engine are almost certainly less than $1 million each. Labor costs are likely to dominate total manufacturing costs of the engines, so I conclude that $1.44 million per engine is likely to be about right, so a total manufacturing cost of $16 million per rocket is also likely to be correct.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/09/2016 02:35 PM
We know that SpaceX has been charging 55-62 ish million per launch.  That's the price for everything.  Build cost of $60 million would leave negative margin for most flights so far.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Arb on 01/09/2016 07:07 PM
Is $1.44 million per engine a reasonable amount?

Your figure agrees with the $1-2 million calculated by oldAtlas_Eguy back in 2011.

See https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26388.msg793006#msg793006 (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=26388.msg793006#msg793006)

Am almost certain someone from SpaceX has also stated $1 million but don't recollection where or when.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: QuantumG on 01/10/2016 03:22 AM
He said $60M, just like the last time and the time before that and the time before that and the time before that. He probably says this $60M vs $200k thing three times before breakfast and four times before touching doorknobs.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: su27k on 01/10/2016 07:23 AM
I understand that the cost of the engines is typically  90% of the total cost to build a rocket.

I don't think that's true. ULA has a pie chart of cost breakdown of Atlas 401, it shows 1st stage engine is about 60% of the 1st stage cost, and 2nd stage engine is about 25% of the 2nd stage cost.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Dante80 on 01/10/2016 10:14 AM
I don't think that's true. ULA has a pie chart of cost breakdown of Atlas 401, it shows 1st stage engine is about 60% of the 1st stage cost, and 2nd stage engine is about 25% of the 2nd stage cost.

Adding the chart from the ULA pdf.


We are getting a little off-topic here, but I just thought of this. Isn't the quote about the second stage engine cost a little severe? I mean, if this is based on reality (for example, the cost percentages hold for the current Centaur stages in Atlas V 401 as ULA depicts), then..how much does the second stage (which is a priori non re-usable) cost for ULA? Assuming an optimistic cost estimate of $10M to procure an RL-10, that would put the cost close to $40M. And it goes down the drink every time, irregardless of what happens to stage 1.

To compound on the percentages given, the first stage engine seems to contribute around 60% of the overall cost of the stage. An RD-180 is assumed to cost ULA around $23M, which means that the whole stage would go around $40M too, maybe a little less. But then, the cost percentage between the first and second stage (thought to be around 60/40) would not make sense.

So, either RL-10 is a lot less expensive, or RD-180 is a lot more expensive than the arbitrary figures I used above.

Sorry for rambling.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 01/11/2016 09:55 PM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 01/12/2016 12:27 AM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas V pie chart. Why would you assume F9 has identical subsystem cost ratios? It's a completely different vehicle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 01/12/2016 12:31 AM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas slide. Why would you assume F9 has identical cost breakdowns? It's a completely different vehicle.
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different.   If the Merlins are 1.5 Million, then the engine stack is 15M.  So the structures would have to be some 30M to get the entire rocket to 60M.   

That's very far from the Atlas breakdown...  2:1 instead of 1:2....
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 01/12/2016 12:42 AM
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 01/12/2016 01:30 AM
As I've said before, there is no way that a first stage or even a whole costs anywhere near $60 to "build". If they are not just hemorrhaging money then it has to cost them much less to "build" a stage than it does to launch. They have 3 active pads and 4 major facilities along with a ton of other overhead. Elon's talking point about the rocket costing $60 million and fuel costing $200k is just that, it is not an accounting summary. You can't keep a company in business by selling something for 2% of what it costs to "build", especially when you then have to "launch" it and you only sell 7 a year.

The long term reusability strategy that gets the F9 below $10 million has to include keeping the fixed costs low and upping the frequency of launches significantly. Reusing stages will help keep their fixed costs close to what they are now while upping their revenue and making better use of their facilities and capabilities.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Zach Swena on 01/12/2016 02:59 AM
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for. 

The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low. 

Also, on the engine cost, and other parts, don't forget the high material prices for stuff like Inconel and the high cost of machine time for manufacturing.  The cost of maintenance and depreciation on some of those machines used in engine production could easily compete with the salary for the workers that likely tend to several of them at once.

The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 01/12/2016 05:59 AM
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
Both are fruit...  Some things are similar.

If the engines are $15M, what costs $45M?

The tanks? The Atlas cost breakdown doesn't apply directly, but it gives you an idea...

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/12/2016 12:18 PM
The long term reusability strategy that gets the F9 below $10 million has to include keeping the fixed costs low and upping the frequency of launches significantly. Reusing stages will help keep their fixed costs close to what they are now while upping their revenue and making better use of their facilities and capabilities.
There are a few problems with this line of thinking.

Running 2 launch pads on 2 sites with up to 3 landing zones and 2 recovery barges is never going to be the "low cost" option.

Throwing away the 2nd stage will never let you go below the cost of the 2nd stage + refurb costs + propellant. That's been obvious in my cost game since day one.

Musk has stated 2nd stage reuse of F9 or F9 derived hardware is not going to happen anyway.
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for. 
A nice pragmatic reading of his comments. But he said cost and that usually excludes gross profit margin, which makes it price to customer. OTOH 2% could be the net profit after all the indirect costs have been taken out of the gross profit. Keeping 3 000 staff fed, watered, air conditioned and with a reasonable place for hygiene breaks more or less 24/7/365 is a fairly substantial (and expensive) logistics task in its own right.
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The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low. 
Neglecting the new build 2nd stage you're going to need to make the launch work of course.
Quote
Also, on the engine cost, and other parts, don't forget the high material prices for stuff like Inconel and the high cost of machine time for manufacturing.  The cost of maintenance and depreciation on some of those machines used in engine production could easily compete with the salary for the workers that likely tend to several of them at once.
Quite possibly.
Quote
The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.
Let's see. Rough numbers $61m vs $200k that's 305 to 1.
Running some numbers through my cost game gave a price of about $42m for 2 flights, 4 flights gave about 30m, 8 might get you to 25m, 16 to 22m

So with 16 reuses you've got the flight price down to about 193x the propellant cost.

Airlines run roughly at all costs being about 3x fuel, IE Fuel bill + 2x fuel bill for everything else.

Note it's not the improved number through reuse on F9SR that's the problem. It's the fact it's still got 2 naughts after it that's the problem.

Of course airlines are fully reusable transport systems.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH on 01/12/2016 03:04 PM
I'm finding the reading of $60M as the cost to 'build' only rather odd. When you pay to have a house built that pays for the materials, the planning permission, the archeological survey, the builders salaries, (which would include the building companies premises and corporation costs)  as well as a multitude of other things.  Same applies to rockets.

That $60Ms going to include a lot of SpaceX running costs. Not just the materials costs, but labour, launch costs, design costs, factory running costs, EM's salary etc.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RanulfC on 01/12/2016 08:04 PM
All of this trying to reinterpret Elon Musk's comment about Falcon 9 costing $60M is silly.  Why would he publicly state what their internal cost is?  It cost's Spacex about $60M to build and launch a rocket when you include the profit margins their business model allows for.

The comment was made in context of the gains from reusability.  When they reuse a stage a significant portion of the approximately 60% that is spent on first stage manufacturing won't have to be repeated.  They know they need $200k for fuel, plus some refurb cost and increased profit.  The final number is still likely to be pretty low.

The fact is that Elon used the "60 million" as BOTH the supposed cost of building the F9 ("lowest cost rocket, 50 to 60 million to build") AND the mission cost, ("60 million for the mission, 200,000 for the propellants") supposedly BOTH in the context of gains from reusability which is why the number is so contentious :)

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The real question is how close to gas and go do we think they will be able to get?  They certainly seem to be able to test fire them at will with little consequences.  The magnitude of the refurb cost will matter much more then how much it actually costs to manufacture a first stage.

A point? "Gas-n-Go" is an ideal but it's not going to happen, ever. Strong statement I know but think about it for just a second. The F9 is a Two Stage to Orbit Launch Vehicle, not a 747 or any other very mature transportation system with fully mature and trivial maintenance subsystems.

"Gas-n-Go" is out the window the moment you have to stack an upper stage on the vehicle. Gas-n-Go is not going to happen when you have to "refurbish" a vehicle between flights. Gas-n-Go only occurs when the vehicle arrives at the fueling point already ready to continue on with NO significant maintenance or inspection. Gas-n-Go is an "ideal" not an operational or business plan for the Falcon launch vehicle. From all indications it's not going to happen with BFR or MCT either, but before everyone gets upset and cranky over this FACT, take a moment to realize that anything short of a two-week "turn-around" is going to be a major paradigm shift in the industry even IF you don't have "48-hour" or "Gas-n-Go" ability so how about we quite picking nits?

I'm finding the reading of $60M as the cost to 'build' only rather odd. When you pay to have a house built that pays for the materials, the planning permission, the archeological survey, the builders salaries, (which would include the building companies premises and corporation costs)  as well as a multitude of other things.  Same applies to rockets.

That $60Ms going to include a lot of SpaceX running costs. Not just the materials costs, but labour, launch costs, design costs, factory running costs, EM's salary etc.

As above, Elon has used the same figure for both reasons. Assume what you want but till someone (most probably Elon because a lot of people ONLY believe what he says :) ) gives exact figures for both and we can contrast them that's what we have to work with.

And no, in fact the "same" does NOT apply to rockets since you don't ever BUY a rocket, you buy a "launch" with all that entails and PART of that is the 'cost' of the rocket itself.

There is no other transportation system where that happens. Buy a car, buy a boat, buy a plane and you buy the vehicle and everything else is up to you. Ride on a train, a plane or a ship and you pay for transporting the "payload" (you) and fees for services during the trip. For a launch you buy the vehicle, the propellant, the services to set up, check out, and launch, you also pay partially for all the infrastructure that is used or supports and fees required for the launch. The LV may only be a small part of the total cost, BUT that actually works against reusability lowering costs because the LV IS only a small part of the overall costs and most of those support costs are not going to change. Some may be able to be "spread" further but some are actually going to go up slightly. It's posted in another thread that in theory it will take around 10 flights for a reused LV to "break-even," (assuming of course that anyone has the correct "numbers" to work with) which is down from a couple of years ago when the figure was around 50 :) But that in and of itself is telling because the earlier figure was based on a totally different set of assumptions in the first place as are most of the current ones.

Really Elon has it right when he said it really only takes one to return and be reused because that pretty much proves the principle. The economics are going to work themselves out one way or the other.

Randy
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/12/2016 10:14 PM
The equation for reuse cost savings is

cost of manufacture of a non-reusable stage> (cost of manufacture of a reusable stage/number of uses) + ((number of uses-1)*Cost of refurbishment/number of uses)

Many of the assumptions is that refurbishment would cost around $10M. But what we are currently witnessing from the first datapoint is something a lot less than $10M probably a lot closer to $2M.

What that would mean is that even at only 2 flights it would be cheaper, almost 25% cheaper. At $10M refurbishment costs for a stage costing $20M for the reusable stage vs $16M for a non-reusable stage (note I don't think there is that much difference in the added systems and design to make the basic F9 into a reusable F9), use would need to be about 4. Its all a matter of assumptions of the % of manufacture costs that refurbishment costs would be and just how much more expensive it would be to build a reusable stage vs a non-reusable one.

In order for 10 uses to reach break even point assumes that a reusable stage costs significantly more than that of a non-reusable one to manufacture and the refurbishment costs are greater than 50% of the cost to manufacture a non-reusable stage. I don't think those assumptions are applicable to the F9.

The additional costs looks to be about 10% increase in manufacture costs and the refurbishment costs at no more than 20%. This means that no matter how many uses occur even if it is only 2, the result is a price reduction over that of a non-reusable version of an F9.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: nadreck on 01/12/2016 10:22 PM
The equation for reuse cost savings is

cost of manufacture of a non-reusable stage> (cost of manufacture of a reusable stage/number of uses) + ((number of uses-1)*Cost of refurbishment/number of uses)

Many of the assumptions is that refurbishment would cost around $10M. But what we are currently witnessing from the first datapoint is something a lot less than $10M probably a lot closer to $2M.

What that would mean is that even at only 2 flights it would be cheaper, almost 25% cheaper. At $10M refurbishment costs for a stage costing $20M for the reusable stage vs $16M for a non-reusable stage (note I don't think there is that much difference in the added systems and design to make the basic F9 into a reusable F9), use would need to be about 4. Its all a matter of assumptions of the % of manufacture costs that refurbishment costs would be and just how much more expensive it would be to build a reusable stage vs a non-reusable one.

In order for 10 uses to reach break even point assumes that a reusable stage costs significantly more than that of a non-reusable one to manufacture and the refurbishment costs are greater than 50% of the cost to manufacture a non-reusable stage. I don't think those assumptions are applicable to the F9.

The additional costs looks to be about 10% increase in manufacture costs and the refurbishment costs at no more than 20%. This means that no matter how many uses occur even if it is only 2, the result is a price reduction over that of a non-reusable version of an F9.

The problem with this model of thinking is that there is no "expendable" F9 first stage core. There are cores that don't have the recovery "kit" (mainly legs, but possibly a few other small items), however the whole first stage costs less to produce than an equivalent first stage that was not designed for re-use from any other company so from one perspective that means that SpaceX didn't pay extra for the reusable 1st stage over some non reusable one.  For a competitor to take an existing design and make it reusable, then they are adding cost. If instead they designed a new product from scratch to be reusable from the get go and to be cheaper than their previous expendable designs then they would have found the secret sauce. However the only way I see this happening is with other companies new to making rockets, I really can't see this behavior from the entrenched players. So Vulcan is really a new iteration of an old expendable design that will then be iterated into a more expensive version to allow partial recovery.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 01/12/2016 10:31 PM
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
Both are fruit...  Some things are similar.

If the engines are $15M, what costs $45M?

The tanks? The Atlas cost breakdown doesn't apply directly, but it gives you an idea...

The answer is probably along the lines of what JamesH wrote above. The $1.5M engine cost is probably an "unburdened" cost number, ie only *direct* labor and materials to build that one item, without any overhead.

But the total $60M vehicle cost figure Elon refers to has to be a partially or fully burdened number including overhead of facilities, support and admin staff, etc, etc.

So if you assume a 70/30 cost split between S1 and S2, say it's $42M partially or fully burdened cost for S1, a lot of which is overhead. Subtract maybe $12M overhead and you're left with $30M direct labor and materials costs, half of which is for 9 engines, and then you get splits closer to ULA's pie chart, with F9's making up 50% of S1 *direct* costs.

Or, put another way, if you burdened that F9 engine proportionally with overhead, I'm betting the number would be more than $1.5M and the proportions would tilt towards ULA's numbers.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 01/12/2016 10:42 PM
Quote
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different. 

I'd be more inclined to agree if you were talking about *mass* ratios, but you're not.

You're talking about *cost* ratios of completely different components on a completely different rocket. How is the cost of one RD-180 related to the cost of nine M1D's? Not to mention different production processes for tanks, etc.

Apples and oranges.
Both are fruit...  Some things are similar.

If the engines are $15M, what costs $45M?

The tanks? The Atlas cost breakdown doesn't apply directly, but it gives you an idea...

The answer is probably along the lines of what JamesH wrote above. The $1.5M engine cost is probably an "unburdened" cost number, ie only *direct* labor and materials to build that one item, without any overhead.

But the total $60M vehicle cost figure Elon refers to has to be a partially or fully burdened number including overhead of facilities, support and admin staff, etc, etc.

So if you assume a 70/30 cost split between S1 and S2, say it's $42M partially or fully burdened cost for S1, a lot of which is overhead. Subtract maybe $12M overhead and you're left with $30M direct labor and materials costs, half of which is for 9 engines, and then you get splits closer to ULA's pie chart, with F9's making up 50% of S1 *direct* costs.

Or, put another way, if you burdened that F9 engine proportionally with overhead, I'm betting the number would be more than $1.5M and the proportions would tilt towards ULA's numbers.

With that I agree - there's a huge amount of wiggle room when defining cost, especially when you're vertically integrated, since you've invested upfront in order to make the marginal cost low.

But I still say the Atlas slide is relevant :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Arb on 01/13/2016 12:07 AM
This means that no matter how many uses occur even if it is only 2, the result is a price reduction over that of a non-reusable version of an F9.
That fits with what Musk said. When asked recently how many reuses of F9 S1 were needed to make it financially viable he replied "one".

Don't remember exactly where that was, maybe the post landing telecon. Certainly post landing. It was one of those little throw away remarks of his that people tend to ignore because confirmation bias.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: jg on 01/13/2016 02:02 AM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas slide. Why would you assume F9 has identical cost breakdowns? It's a completely different vehicle.
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different.   If the Merlins are 1.5 Million, then the engine stack is 15M.  So the structures would have to be some 30M to get the entire rocket to 60M.   

That's very far from the Atlas breakdown...  2:1 instead of 1:2....

Yes, it can be very different. For one simple example that jumps out from the chart, I expect the cost of avionics is very different, and seems to be a good chunk of ULA's costs, by the pie chart shown.

ULA uses typical radiation resistant aerospace components and systems; SpaceX uses pretty COTS components for its systems and software, getting reliability by redundancy in the systems (many CPU's, etc), running much more modern software.  Given the cost of those modern components (which are far faster than anything you can get "radiation hardened"), I don't understand how to spend the kind of money that ULA current has to spend, despite having to have that redundancy; modern semiconductor technology and Moore's law being what it has been. SpaceX gave a talk at a Linux conference a few years ago describing (to the extent that the export control laws allow) what they were doing in their systems.

Sometimes, by revisiting systems from scratch, you can get to a very different (better) point that following the path of "incremental improvement".  Clean sheets can be a real advantage; but you don't get them very often.  SpaceX did a "clean sheet" on most everything.

So don't presume the actual costs in the different rockets are "the same", unless you are comparing fundamental costs (e.g. propellants, or N kilograms of aluminum alloy)...  And one of Musk's strengths is that he thinks terms of those fundamental costs, rather than what people have traditionally paid....



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 01/13/2016 02:42 AM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas slide. Why would you assume F9 has identical cost breakdowns? It's a completely different vehicle.
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different.   If the Merlins are 1.5 Million, then the engine stack is 15M.  So the structures would have to be some 30M to get the entire rocket to 60M.   

That's very far from the Atlas breakdown...  2:1 instead of 1:2....

Yes, it can be very different. For one simple example that jumps out from the chart, I expect the cost of avionics is very different, and seems to be a good chunk of ULA's costs, by the pie chart shown.

ULA uses typical radiation resistant aerospace components and systems; SpaceX uses pretty COTS components for its systems and software, getting reliability by redundancy in the systems (many CPU's, etc), running much more modern software.  Given the cost of those modern components (which are far faster than anything you can get "radiation hardened"), I don't understand how to spend the kind of money that ULA current has to spend, despite having to have that redundancy; modern semiconductor technology and Moore's law being what it has been. SpaceX gave a talk at a Linux conference a few years ago describing (to the extent that the export control laws allow) what they were doing in their systems.

Sometimes, by revisiting systems from scratch, you can get to a very different (better) point that following the path of "incremental improvement".  Clean sheets can be a real advantage; but you don't get them very often.  SpaceX did a "clean sheet" on most everything.

So don't presume the actual costs in the different rockets are "the same", unless you are comparing fundamental costs (e.g. propellants, or N kilograms of aluminum alloy)...  And one of Musk's strengths is that he thinks terms of those fundamental costs, rather than what people have traditionally paid....

Except that skews the comparison even further...   If F9s avionics is cheaper, that would require an extraordinarily expensive tank structure to even come close....

Something's got to give, and I'm buying into the "nuance" the Kabloona brought up.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/13/2016 11:54 AM
The answer is probably along the lines of what JamesH wrote above. The $1.5M engine cost is probably an "unburdened" cost number, ie only *direct* labor and materials to build that one item, without any overhead.

But the total $60M vehicle cost figure Elon refers to has to be a partially or fully burdened number including overhead of facilities, support and admin staff, etc, etc.

So if you assume a 70/30 cost split between S1 and S2, say it's $42M partially or fully burdened cost for S1, a lot of which is overhead. Subtract maybe $12M overhead and you're left with $30M direct labor and materials costs, half of which is for 9 engines, and then you get splits closer to ULA's pie chart, with F9's making up 50% of S1 *direct* costs.

Or, put another way, if you burdened that F9 engine proportionally with overhead, I'm betting the number would be more than $1.5M and the proportions would tilt towards ULA's numbers.
In accountancy this is the "gross profit" and the "net profit"
Gross pro is turnover minus the direct costs to make the stuff you're selling.
Net profit is gross profit minus all the indirect costs, factory electricity, catering etc.

On that basis Musk is saying his net profit, the pure uncommitted stuff you can use to pay down debt, fund new development or distribute to stockholders as dividends, is about 2%.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/13/2016 12:03 PM

ULA uses typical radiation resistant aerospace components and systems; SpaceX uses pretty COTS components for its systems and software, getting reliability by redundancy in the systems (many CPU's, etc), running much more modern software.  Given the cost of those modern components (which are far faster than anything you can get "radiation hardened"), I don't understand how to spend the kind of money that ULA current has to spend, despite having to have that redundancy; modern semiconductor technology and Moore's law being what it has been. SpaceX gave a talk at a Linux conference a few years ago describing (to the extent that the export control laws allow) what they were doing in their systems.
The cost for rad hard electronics is staggering, but I think people exaggerate it given the relatively small proportion of the hardware that uses it.

The only data point on this I have was that BAe supplied a rad hard PowerPC  board to NASA for one of the Mars rovers and the whole board (I don't think they will sell you the chip itself) ran about $100 000.

But you do get things like guaranteed frozen designs (no unmentioned process tweaks to call unexpected failures) and spare parts availability for a decade (of course swapping out a failed board on Mars is down to the customer.   :) ).

But IIRC ULA ELV's run with the USAF 1750A architecture developed in the 1970's, although probably with the MMU option to give it the full 1MB of addressable main memory

I'm not sure what SX ARM & 8051 based boards cost (this is from memory) but I'm guessing quite a bit less on parts cost unless SX insist on their own F9-ARM chip with their own special set of peripherals.
This seems very much against the spirit of using COTS parts in clever ways to give good radiation tolerance at reasonable costs.

Note that a decent modern ERP system should be able to track parts well enough that any systematic failure (due to say a process tweak in the wafer fab causing all parts to fail) should be quite easy to detect and track. The other issue is the dev tool chain. Both ARM and 8051 remain mainstream but the 1750A is niche.

The issue is not that you can't get compilers to generate code (AFAIK it's still an option, but I'm not sure for how much longer in GCC[EDIT Ooops, should have checked that. No longer available] ), but who's got assembler skills in this to get a run time up and running? Or when you run out of (equally expensive) main memory and have to re-code something in assembler to shoehorn it in?

I don't think the rad hard semiconductors are that big a deal but the indirect costs associated with them could be.  :(

One of those sneaky costs that people don't fully anticipate until it bites.

This will all get much more serious for vehicles going to Mars, all of which will leave even the limited protection of the Earth's magnetic field. SX may have to go the full rad hard route for that, but that's probably 10 years ahead. [EDIT Which is not to say that someone within SX is not already working the issues to see what they could get away with.

Now what (if any) foundries offer rad hard processes that could host an ARM? ]
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 01/13/2016 11:53 PM
This will all get much more serious for vehicles going to Mars, all of which will leave even the limited protection of the Earth's magnetic field. SX may have to go the full rad hard route for that, but that's probably 10 years ahead. [EDIT Which is not to say that someone within SX is not already working the issues to see what they could get away with.

They may have to, but I imagine the first thing they'll try is additional redundancy. But I agree that someone within SpaceX will be working this, though I suspect the FH will be throwing stuff to Mars well within 10 years.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/14/2016 12:48 AM
NASA likes to keep Mars well-stocked in robots, so SpaceX would have to be pretty much dead for them not to launch SOMETHING to Mars in the next 10 years.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/14/2016 08:13 AM
They may have to, but I imagine the first thing they'll try is additional redundancy. But I agree that someone within SpaceX will be working this, though I suspect the FH will be throwing stuff to Mars well within 10 years.
Quite likely but I think they'll be a rad level where every processor is in the process of reboot so none is processing any workload.

Shielding would be another option, say a chunk of plastic (high H atom density)

OTOH it's possible that there would not be that much processing to do during Mars cruise, so you could drop the clock frequency 10x or even 100x, giving time for charged particle events to be smothered by the longer time periods of each clock cycle.  That's a bit of speculation.

TBH I'm kind of surprised no one's done a rad hard ARM. It seems the ESA went with the SPARC architecture and the latest generation US systems have gone with the PowerPC, presumably due to IBM's involvement with defense and space processors.

Sure rad hard is a niche market but I'll bet the ARM developer pool is several times the size of either the PowerPC or SPARC due to it's huge penetration of the embedded market
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/14/2016 09:29 PM
Considering SpaceX just hot fired the recovered stage at SLC-40 this speaks to the cost of refurbishment  for a stage to be almost nil on the order of less than $2M toward an amount of $.5M.

What does that do to the reuse price of a F9/FH?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 01/14/2016 09:46 PM
Considering SpaceX just hot fired the recovered stage at SLC-40 this speaks to the cost of refurbishment  for a stage to be almost nil on the order of less than $2M toward an amount of $.5M.

What does that do to the reuse price of a F9/FH?
You're jumping the gun just a little bit:
- We don't know if the static fire was successful
- We don't know if a launch would be successful
I would agree it's a very positive data-point in the direction of being able to reuse the stage with little to no refurbishment, but we're not quite there yet.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/15/2016 01:17 AM
Presumably, whatever knowledge SpaceX does acquire in terms of what components erode fastest and require the most frequent monitoring and replacement, will be kept a trade secret by them, since this would be the key to maintaining their 'first mover advantage'. So it seems doubtful that they would reveal/publish/comment on this stuff  much, when it becomes part of the bread-and-butter of their business model.

But perhaps we'll be able to glean information from any upcoming design changes which may result from their knowledge gained from reusable flights.


Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/15/2016 10:42 AM
Considering SpaceX just hot fired the recovered stage at SLC-40 this speaks to the cost of refurbishment  for a stage to be almost nil on the order of less than $2M toward an amount of $.5M.

What does that do to the reuse price of a F9/FH?
Not a lot.   :( See my costing game for details.

While you're throwing away a whole stage to do reuse the second biggest factor is how many times you're reusing you're 1st stage. Lowering the cost of new upper stages is a good move too (while retaining the same payload and not costing too much capital to implement, which is what makes it very tricky  :( ) , but it's likely whatever you do to lower the upper stage cost you can apply to the lower stage as well.

Which begs the question why didn't you make those cost reductions already?

The 800lb gorilla here remains can you cut customer prices enough to stimulate demand enough to increase your net profit.

IOW if you cut prices 50% (needing 4 reuses by my estimate), does your business double (or more)?
People are hoping that will happen but AFAIK historical data says that's just not enough, and remember SX have still announced no semireusable pricing.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 01/15/2016 10:47 AM
OT I'm planning my next version of my costing game for F9SR, MCT & Skylon.

So far I've added a cell showing pricing in terms of multiples of propellant cost but I'd be interested if anyone has any other features they'd like. At present it has a "profit margin" cell, but I'm considering splitting that into "Gross" and "Net" options. [EDIT TBH the "Design your rocket" tab has had little work done on it. I'm wondering if it should remain in]
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: watermod on 01/15/2016 05:38 PM
Presumably, whatever knowledge SpaceX does acquire in terms of what components erode fastest and require the most frequent monitoring and replacement, will be kept a trade secret by them, since this would be the key to maintaining their 'first mover advantage'. So it seems doubtful that they would reveal/publish/comment on this stuff  much, when it becomes part of the bread-and-butter of their business model.

But perhaps we'll be able to glean information from any upcoming design changes which may result from their knowledge gained from reusable flights.
If delays were not so common with SpaceX I would suspect the recent changes in launch dates were based off something SpaceX saw in the returned first stage.   
From Salo:
Quote
NET February 6 - SES-9 - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40 (or late NET January 23)
NET February 7 March 20 - Dragon SpX-8 (CRS8), BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40 - 04:20 21:01
1st quarter NET February March (TBD) - Eutelsat 117 West B (Satmex 9), ABS 2A - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40
NET 1st quarter February March - JCSat-14 - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40
NET February March - AMOS 6 - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40 (or midyear)
March 21 NET April - Dragon SpX-9 (CRS9) - Falcon 9 FT - Canaveral SLC-40 ~04:00
spring April-May - FORMOSAT 5, SHERPA SSO: Arkyd-6, CNUSail 1, KAUSAT 5, SIGMA, CANYVAL-X 1, CANYVAL-X 2, STEP Cube [/qoute]
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/16/2016 06:15 AM
The recovered booster stage was test-fired and apparently one of the 9 engines showed thrust fluctuations:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/01/15/spacex-tests-engines-landed-falcon-rocket/78886838/

Quote
Later Friday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported on Twitter that one of the outer Merlin engines had not performed perfectly.

“Conducted hold-down firing of returned Falcon rocket,” said Musk. “Data looks good overall, but engine 9 showed thrust fluctuations.”

Musk said inspections would quickly investigate if debris had gotten into the engine.

I wonder which one showed the anomalies and why. I certainly hope it wasn't the central one.

Hypothetically, if it does indeed turn out that the malfunctioning engine did in fact ingest some debris, then how did that debris get in there? What kind of remedy could be taken - just clean up the landing pad more? I thought that having a landing pad would automatically avoid debris.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Hauerg on 01/16/2016 06:21 AM
According to Elons tweet it was NOT the center engine.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 01/16/2016 07:51 AM
It would be interesting, if it was one of the two other engines, which had to perform the retroboost.

Does anyone have an idea how much work is required to replace an engine?

If they have plenty of them due to reuse of rocketstages, they could replace damaged engines and refurbish them seperately.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 01/16/2016 08:01 AM
Thanks for the update Chris!  :) This would be the first time a rocket engine that made it to space has been re-fired on a vehicle without refurbishment first. Unless they did it during the X-15 program or Shuttle... It's the wee hours of the morning here so feel free to correct me... ;D
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cebri on 01/16/2016 09:48 AM
It would be interesting, if it was one of the two other engines, which had to perform the retroboost.

Does anyone have an idea how much work is required to replace an engine?

If they have plenty of them due to reuse of rocketstages, they could replace damaged engines and refurbish them seperately.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/688175650570547202

Are we really talking here about a engine failure? From Elon tweets engine 9 seems to be working alright but the had some thrusts issues due to debris entering the engine (maybe coming from the main engine during descent?). Hopefully it will be an easy fix.

Can't wait to hear from Elon about the test they'll be doing tonight.

Edit:

Video of the static fire. (very poor quality)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTW4Pt0uojs
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 01/16/2016 10:31 AM
If there was an engine failure it'd probably say failure. Thrust fluctuations can range from extremely minor and trivial or something more severe, but I'm calling a bit of coke shifting for some dust getting into the engine on landing. Remember, it wasn't the landing engine so it was somewhat more likely to take a chunk of FUD. Unlikely to be anything that can't simply be cleaned out.

If this had happened during a launch, $10 imaginary bucks say the rocket would have made orbit.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Dante80 on 01/16/2016 11:10 AM
It's not the first time that we have seen engine thrust fluctuations in a SpaceX mission. SES-8 had something similar (you can also see the double TEA-TEB flash on this mission too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v0k_0PTLnI
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 01/16/2016 01:50 PM
Congrats SpaceX on a great test! 8)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: watermod on 01/16/2016 04:02 PM
Well if the engines are ~$1.5M, and if the Atlas slide is correct, than the F9 does not cost $60M. 

So something's gotta give.

It's an Atlas slide. Why would you assume F9 has identical cost breakdowns? It's a completely different vehicle.
Because apart from the engines, it's a similar structure, similar fuel, similar size...  It can't be THAT different.   If the Merlins are 1.5 Million, then the engine stack is 15M.  So the structures would have to be some 30M to get the entire rocket to 60M.   

That's very far from the Atlas breakdown...  2:1 instead of 1:2....

Yes, it can be very different. For one simple example that jumps out from the chart, I expect the cost of avionics is very different, and seems to be a good chunk of ULA's costs, by the pie chart shown.

ULA uses typical radiation resistant aerospace components and systems; SpaceX uses pretty COTS components for its systems and software, getting reliability by redundancy in the systems (many CPU's, etc), running much more modern software.  Given the cost of those modern components (which are far faster than anything you can get "radiation hardened"), I don't understand how to spend the kind of money that ULA current has to spend, despite having to have that redundancy; modern semiconductor technology and Moore's law being what it has been. SpaceX gave a talk at a Linux conference a few years ago describing (to the extent that the export control laws allow) what they were doing in their systems.

Sometimes, by revisiting systems from scratch, you can get to a very different (better) point that following the path of "incremental improvement".  Clean sheets can be a real advantage; but you don't get them very often.  SpaceX did a "clean sheet" on most everything.

So don't presume the actual costs in the different rockets are "the same", unless you are comparing fundamental costs (e.g. propellants, or N kilograms of aluminum alloy)...  And one of Musk's strengths is that he thinks terms of those fundamental costs, rather than what people have traditionally paid....

Since the first stage doesn't go into space, does ULA, SpaceX or any other company bother to use rad-hardened electronics on the first stage?   

If so, then why?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/16/2016 04:43 PM
Since the first stage doesn't go into space, does ULA, SpaceX or any other company bother to use rad-hardened electronics on the first stage?   

If so, then why?

From older pre Falcon 9 1.1 discussions I recall that first stages don't have avionics. Avionics are in the upper stage. Additional avionics in the first stage would be extremely expensive.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: randomly on 01/16/2016 04:49 PM
Then how does a Falcon 9 first stage do RTLS without avionics?


Spacex doesn't use rad hard electronics for any of their avionics, it's all off the shelf technology with error check/correction and voting redundancies handling the errors.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 01/16/2016 04:55 PM
Then how does a Falcon 9 first stage do RTLS without avionics?


Spacex doesn't use rad hard electronics for any of their avionics, it's all off the shelf technology with error check/correction and voting redundancies handling the errors.

Right, of course the Falcon 9 first stage has avionics. I just repeat that old argument, which indicates a Atlas or Delta first stage would not have avionics.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: bjornl on 01/16/2016 06:22 PM
(you can also see the double TEA-TEB flash on this mission too)
My guess: it's a single TEA-TEB firing which is obscured by the very bright RP-1 burning before the engines get to full thrust.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Dante80 on 01/16/2016 06:26 PM
(you can also see the double TEA-TEB flash on this mission too)
My guess: it's a single TEA-TEB firing which is obscured by the very bright RP-1 burning before the engines get to full thrust.

It could be. There is a difference of 4 seconds between the two green flashes though.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 01/17/2016 06:28 AM
Hmm, so it's one of the outer engines (Engine 9) that's the culprit:

http://www.popsci.com/recovered-spacex-rocket-booster-is-in-great-shape


So if debris is coming into the engines, is that likely then happening during the descent through the atmosphere?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mader Levap on 01/17/2016 01:29 PM
So if debris is coming into the engines, is that likely then happening during the descent through the atmosphere?
Not really. Maybe it is something from landing pad blasted by center engine or just soot.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CorvusCorax on 01/17/2016 04:15 PM

Since the first stage doesn't go into space, does ULA, SpaceX or any other company bother to use rad-hardened electronics on the first stage?   

If so, then why?

1. First stage does go into space. It does not go into orbit (it isn't going fast enough - although it could if it would launch without a second stage and payload weighing it down - but that would be a bit pointless) but it is going high enough - depending on mission over 200 km -  the official "borderline of space" is defined at 100 km altitude. Therefore the Falcon 9 1st stage is definitely a (suborbital) space faring vehicle.

2. Unlike almost all other space companies, SpaceX does not use radiation hardened electronics - instead they go for "radiation tolerant".  Rad hardened electronics mean chips with a structure size that was state of the art in the 1980's. That means their performance is sub par by roughly 30 years and they are also extremely expensive and in some cases very hard to get to.

Because of that, SpaceX choose an approach with multiple redundant layers of computers checking each other. If one of them misbehaves because of radiation, it will simply reset and start over, while the system keeps running on at least 2 other computers that check each other. The chance that multiple computers would make the exact same miscalculation at the same time due to radiation is almost non-existent.

Afaik this multi-redundant design has been used in aviation as an alternative to radiation hardened electronics. (On high altitude flights, cosmic radiation is also an issue) but its still new to go that path with rockets.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/17/2016 06:23 PM
They may have to, but I imagine the first thing they'll try is additional redundancy. But I agree that someone within SpaceX will be working this, though I suspect the FH will be throwing stuff to Mars well within 10 years.
Quite likely but I think they'll be a rad level where every processor is in the process of reboot so none is processing any workload.
That's like 5 or 6 orders of magnitude difference. The difference in rad levels between LEO and deep space is much, MUCH smaller than that, just a factor of 2 or so different. And heck, you don't even need ANY redundancy... You could use just a watchdog timer hooked up to a reset. That's what is done on cubesats using off-the-shelf microcontrollers. People, as usual, make radiation to be this big scary thing that cannot be dealt with or which HAS to always be dealt with in a certain way.

Quote
Shielding would be another option, say a chunk of plastic (high H atom density)...
Not for electronics. Cosmic radiation is too low intensity to be a major concern. It's the much higher intensity but lower per-particle energy radiation from solar storms and passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly (when you're in LEO) that matter more. So metal is used for shielding electronics.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Adaptation on 01/17/2016 10:33 PM
This image appears to show, at the base of the engine bells, what looks like a stitched material (curved, divided into relatively small squares by what looks like the stitching, darker black than most of surrounding image)?  Can that be true?  Either way, what is it and what are its likely eventual failure modes?

(https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=38148.0;attach=1091667)

The engines are wrapped in a bullet proof shroud intended to prevent cascading failures in the event that an engine has a catastrophic failure.  This is what you see, I'm sure it also fulfills all the other uses mentioned earlier in the thread. 
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: HMXHMX on 01/18/2016 02:40 AM
This image appears to show, at the base of the engine bells, what looks like a stitched material (curved, divided into relatively small squares by what looks like the stitching, darker black than most of surrounding image)?  Can that be true?  Either way, what is it and what are its likely eventual failure modes?

(https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=38148.0;attach=1091667)

The engines are wrapped in a bullet proof shroud intended to prevent cascading failures in the event that an engine has a catastrophic failure.  This is what you see, I'm sure it also fulfills all the other uses mentioned earlier in the thread. 

No, these only are the engine boat-tail gimbal boots, not armoring.  Same as the Delta IV image attached.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Llian Rhydderch on 01/19/2016 10:09 PM
I think this post by abaddon may have gotten missed by many in the rush of the new year. 

Since it has been more than 100 posts since it appeared, and since SpaceX accomplished a perfect zero-velocity at zero-altitude pinpoint-accurate barge touchdown since then, it is worth looking over this solid analysis once again.  SES-9, with barge landing planned to be attempted, will be a key data point for all of us, and a linchpin for predicting which future SpaceX missions can attempt a first stage recovery.  As abaddon concluded:  perhaps all of them.

Right now a significant number of their payloads need to use the margin they have for landing the stage so it can't be reused.
Shotwell has cited the main benefit of the F9FT is allowing a barge landing on flights that wouldn't have been able to in the past (GTO).  It has yet to be established just how heavy a payload the F9FT can throw to GTO and still carry legs and reserve propellant for a downrange landing.  A barge landing is estimated to require a ~15% performance margin.  I am guessing we won't really know for sure immediately as the next GTO payload (SES-9) is quite heavy.

According to Wiki the heaviest bird F9 has thrown to GTO was TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT at 4707kg.  According to Gunter's, SES-9 is 5330kg, so it will be the heaviest payload to GTO for F9 to date.

I threw together a quick table of upcoming flights and masses to get an idea of how many recovery flights might be possible over the next year or so.  I didn't spend a ton of time vetting these so some flights might have been delayed/canceled/whatever.  Masses are from Gunter's and I note when I am estimating based on a similar bird.  I categorized payload recovery as Yes, Probably, Possibly, and Unlikely based on mass and past history, and taking into account the ~33% payload increase to GTO that F9FT is supposed to provide.

Payload                        Mass     Dest   Recovery Possible?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jason-3                         533kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-8                             ?kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-9                             ?kg   LEO    Yes
SES-9                          5330kg   GTO    Possibly (based on evidence that a barge landing will be attempted)
SES-10                         5300kg   GTO    Possibly
Thaicom 8                      3100kg   GTO    Yes
ABS 2A, Eutelsat 117 West B   ~4000kg?  GTO    Possibly (based on ABS-3A, Eutelsat 115 West B mass)
JCSAT-14                      ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass)
BulgariaSat-1                 ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass, same SSL-1300 bus)
JCSAT-16                      ~3400kg?  GTO    Probably (based on JCSAT-15 mass)
KoreaSat-5                     4465kg   GTO    Possibly
Es'hail-2                     ~3000kg   GTO    Probably
CRS-11                            ?kg   LEO    Yes
CRS-12                            ?kg   LEO    Yes
Formosat-5                      525kg   SSO    Yes
Iridium NEXT 1                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 2                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 3                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 4                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)
Iridium NEXT 5                ~8000kg?  LEO    Yes (800kg x 9 + estimated adapter mass)

Based on this I count 15 likely recovery flights out of 20.  That's a far cry from "only a few flights" being possible for recovery.  And that's arguably conservative, as F9FT should have enough margin to recover anything that has previously flown on an F91.1 (up to 4707kg).

Corrections welcome, I am sure there is some stuff that will likely need to be fixed here.

Update: I've updated SES-9 and 10 to "possibly" based on news that an application for barge landing has been filed.  That means that, theoretically, all of the upcoming launches will allow for recovery.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 01/22/2016 05:12 PM
Regarding the double TEA-TEB flashes. We learned after Orbcomm that they control the TEA-TEB flow into the three central engines independently of the others, but not individually. Is it possible that we are seeing the 9 engines lit in 2 groups? Perhaps the 3 central engines and then the remainder?

It is extremely difficult to tell which engines are firing once the sound suppression water starts flowing. I noticed they don't seem to announce, "main engine start" during the countdown the way the shuttle did. Perhaps this is the norm with the F9FT countdown, or since even before that, and we didn't notice.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: chipguy on 01/22/2016 05:40 PM

Since the first stage doesn't go into space, does ULA, SpaceX or any other company bother to use rad-hardened electronics on the first stage?   

If so, then why?

2. Unlike almost all other space companies, SpaceX does not use radiation hardened electronics - instead they go for "radiation tolerant".  Rad hardened electronics mean chips with a structure size that was state of the art in the 1980's. That means their performance is sub par by roughly 30 years and they are also extremely expensive and in some cases very hard to get to.

I'd say that 15 to 20 years is more accurate.

By the way, it is possible to use more recent mainstream semiconductor process technology to build relatively
radiation hardened processors and ASICs using specific techniques in circuit design, logic design, and layout.
This is done in mission critical computers (mainframes and high end Unix servers) where the goal is to make
the chance of an undetected error under normal terrestrial background radiation extremely close to zero over
the operating life of the machine (a decade or more).

The problem is the market volumes for rad hard are so small it is hard to justify the extra design effort (which
would also makes the devices somewhat larger, slower, and more power hungry than straight commercial
products) or going the usual way, the expense of keeping a true rad hard process in production and porting
over an obsolete commercial processor design under license.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/22/2016 11:34 PM

Since the first stage doesn't go into space, does ULA, SpaceX or any other company bother to use rad-hardened electronics on the first stage?   

If so, then why?

2. Unlike almost all other space companies, SpaceX does not use radiation hardened electronics - instead they go for "radiation tolerant".  Rad hardened electronics mean chips with a structure size that was state of the art in the 1980's. That means their performance is sub par by roughly 30 years and they are also extremely expensive and in some cases very hard to get to.

I'd say that 15 to 20 years is more accurate.

By the way, it is possible to use more recent mainstream semiconductor process technology to build relatively
radiation hardened processors and ASICs using specific techniques in circuit design, logic design, and layout.
This is done in mission critical computers (mainframes and high end Unix servers) where the goal is to make
the chance of an undetected error under normal terrestrial background radiation extremely close to zero over
the operating life of the machine (a decade or more).

The problem is the market volumes for rad hard are so small it is hard to justify the extra design effort (which
would also makes the devices somewhat larger, slower, and more power hungry than straight commercial
products) or going the usual way, the expense of keeping a true rad hard process in production and porting
over an obsolete commercial processor design under license.
There are rad hard multiple core (2) PowerPC processors running at 800MHz which are about 10 years out of date compared to current state of the art processors. So it is not as bad as it seems but if you need high power capability for something like image (objects in an image) recognition for automatic robotic functions, using a Rad hard processor is just not going to be enough.

There are ARM processors, AMD and Intel ones as well but all of them are also around the 10 year ago capability mark level meaning they have about 100 times less processor throughput than current processors.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sanman on 02/03/2016 11:51 PM
Looks like SpaceX is indeed making some design changes based on lessons learned from the landing:


http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/3/10906966/spacex-falcon-9-rocket-changes-reduce-refurbishment
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/04/2016 12:47 AM
Here's a link to Shotwell's talk:
She's on at 2:43:00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cT7_iySwP8
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: QuantumG on 02/04/2016 01:19 AM
2:55:01 "We hope to fly a recovered Dragon later this year."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 02/05/2016 12:30 PM
About those 'thrust fluctuations':
Seems that debris blown back up at an engine, maybe during touchdown, is a suspect.

Would it be possible to e.g. cold vent some LOX through the eight non-firing engines to help stop any debris being blown back into them? Are the engines even capable of doing this, and would it create a bit of a fireball?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH on 02/05/2016 12:56 PM
About those 'thrust fluctuations':
Seems that debris blown back up at an engine, maybe during touchdown, is a suspect.

Would it be possible to e.g. cold vent some LOX through the eight non-firing engines to help stop any debris being blown back into them? Are the engines even capable of doing this, and would it create a bit of a fireball?

My reading of GS comments is that they discovered something awry with the returned stage, and that has delayed the current launch. Now ingested FOD on landing would not do that, because that doesn't affect launch, so I suspect something else has been discovered, that was caused during the returned stage's launch. Supposition of course, but fits what we know. All good of course, every time they discover something, makes the next flight more reliable.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 01:31 PM
About those 'thrust fluctuations':
Seems that debris blown back up at an engine, maybe during touchdown, is a suspect.
...
I sincerely doubt that. The throat is very small compared to the nozzle and it's dead air with nowhere to go.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: hrissan on 02/06/2016 09:00 AM
About those 'thrust fluctuations':
Seems that debris blown back up at an engine, maybe during touchdown, is a suspect.

Would it be possible to e.g. cold vent some LOX through the eight non-firing engines to help stop any debris being blown back into them? Are the engines even capable of doing this, and would it create a bit of a fireball?

My reading of GS comments is that they discovered something awry with the returned stage, and that has delayed the current launch. Now ingested FOD on landing would not do that, because that doesn't affect launch, so I suspect something else has been discovered, that was caused during the returned stage's launch. Supposition of course, but fits what we know. All good of course, every time they discover something, makes the next flight more reliable.
I will repeat my post from another thread, as it is more relevant here.

The returning stage experiences ~10g during the entrance burn... This should be ok for loads on tank walls and thrust structure (no 100-ton 2nd stage above), but some small piece of hardware like a GoPro camera or sensor mount might break lose from inside of the tank @10g plus hectic vibrations - hence foreign object ingestion in later tests.

If some structural components which have enough theoretical margin to sustain entrance burn environment happen to be damaged, this might lead to very deep thoughts on why the analysis was wrong, cause delays and even lead to redesign of some components.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 03/09/2016 09:53 PM
What are the speculations or educated guesses on what will be required for refurbishment of stages/vehicles that have been recovered after flight, in order to make them flight-worthy again? (Was thinking mainly of the F9R booster, but Dragon would be relevant too)
...

SpaceX's goal is no refurbishment which Shotwell reiterated today:

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/707682167112011776 (https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/707682167112011776)
Quote
SpaceX's Shotwell: the Falcon 9 first stage we recovered was in remarkable shape. Goal is no refurbishment.#satellite2016
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 03/10/2016 07:12 AM
SpaceX's goal is no refurbishment which Shotwell reiterated today:


Sounds reasonable to me. Given that no refurbishment means there is only some maintenance like cleaning, checking, replacing consumables.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/10/2016 04:45 PM
The missing items in the statements is the price of the first flight if reused stages become more common. Would that first flight remain at $62M? Such that all costs are recovered for each flight and not amortized accros multiple flights.

First flight ~$60M
Reused vehicle flight ~$40M

The nifo seems to point to a cost of manufacture of a first stage at ~$20M
($20M/(1+20%[profit margin]))+$3M[refurbishment costs] = ~$20M

The assumption is the profit margin. Lower profit margins means higher manufacturing costs, higher profit marging lower manufacturing costs.

This no amortizing the manufacturing costs would work initially when the recover of stages is not low risk. Meaning the loss of a stage during recovery would not be a loss financially for SpaceX. Also initially ther will be more recovered stages that customers that will fly on them.

The NASA CRS and CC contracts may well assume a new booster and have been priced accordingly. So if 5 CRS/CC flights per year with a new booster and 3 additional flights on average on the recovered stages gives 20 launches in 1 year in the 2018-2020 timeframe. All the commercial and even some of the military is likely to all use recovered stages by then leaving NASA with its contracts already signed and negotiated flying the new boosters. Other NASA flights that are purchased in 2017 or later for 2019-2020 or latter flight may well use the reused booster price.

Eventually though SpaceX will have to change its pricing for the first flight in order to get someone to fly a new booster :).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2016 05:37 PM
It's the other way around. The first flight would have to be offered a discount because it is unproven. The last flight would be full price because he could carry a full expendable payload. It doesn't make sense to charge the first customer the full amortization costs.  Can you imagine Delta Airlines charging it's first customers on a new jet tens of thousands of dollars per person ?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RanulfC on 03/10/2016 08:05 PM
Aircraft, (actually any transportation system OTHER than launch vehicles really) amortization is figured over the lifetime of the vehicle which the user (example Delta Airlines) in fact DOES charge each and every passenger a portion thereof. The main metric is an assessed "lifetime" which is figured using a standard formula extrapolated from known data on and of similar vehicles.

In other words, it is dependent on data that no one (not even SpaceX) currently has enough of to make even a SWAG about. SpaceX can't make that determination unless and until they have flown enough stages to have a significant body of data to determine not only the overall lifetime of the airframe but its major components as well.

Simply, don't expect the pricing scheme to change all that much for a while. Overall SpaceX can reduce the price of any launch by a set amount to take into account stage reuse, (say for example from $60 million to $40 million) and apply it across the board for "X" number of flights, (the number 10 has been bandied about so use that) as a factor of overall launch costs. This allows them to further undercut the competition on pricing while maintaining enough overall profit per launch to allow for the occasional failure no matter where in the overall scheme it falls.

In actuality, the stage will progressively go from "reliable" (flight 1, technically flight 2) to "high probability of failure" (flight 10) which will cause some adjustment of the pricing. For example; $50 million per flight for the first 5 flights, $45 million for flights 6 through 8, $40 million for flight 9, and $30 million for flight 10. As experience and flight data builds up the airframe and major component lifetimes will become clearer and probably longer which will feed into the costing formula.

I should note though it's about as likely that they will find that a lifetime of 10 launches is too many and structural or major systems failure sets in around flight 5 (for an example) and prices will have to adjust accordingly there as well. Everything could look great right up until the tanks suddenly crumple at Max-Q on flight number 5 on multiple reused stages. This is still unknown territory.
(Note: I don't expect this to happen but no one has been here before so the actual situation is unknowable until it happens)

Randy
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jcc on 04/10/2016 09:48 PM
Now that there is a recovered stage heading back to port that is intended to be re-flown, time to think more about refurbishment. Musk says that "test firing" 10 times will be sufficient to qualify it for relight.

I tend to think it will not just be ten 3 second static firings; perhaps a series of firings at different lengths and thrust levels? Are there sufficient sensors on the stage to provide all the diagnostic information needed? Will they also borescope the engines? Laser scan the tanks to look for slight deformations?

What else is appropriate to do?

ps. I think he said they will wash it also.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/11/2016 04:58 AM
...
I tend to think it will not just be ten 3 second static firings; perhaps a series of firings at different lengths and thrust levels? Are there sufficient sensors on the stage to provide all the diagnostic information needed? Will they also borescope the engines? Laser scan the tanks to look for slight deformations?
...
Keep in mind that the Merlins have a finite total burn time and finite number of engine startups.

Doing borescoping and laser scans are time consuming. So doing such tasks for returned cores is unlikely IMO without some indication of problems from the telemetry.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Coastal Ron on 04/11/2016 05:43 AM
Keep in mind that the Merlins have a finite total burn time and finite number of engine startups.

Right, which they think they know, but they haven't had a chance to validate in an operational mode.  And even the ground testing is not fully operational, since it's not flying through the air, so I think what they plan to do is validate by similarity to some degree - hence the 10 test firings.

And the engines are replaceable and refurbishable, so let's remember that they have not yet announced they have achieved airline-like reusability.  It will be OK for them to replace and fix parts if needed, since even airliners fix and replace parts occasionally while they are operational.

Quote
Doing borescoping and laser scans are time consuming. So doing such tasks for returned cores is unlikely IMO without some indication of problems from the telemetry.

We know they have some sensors on each engine.  Maybe they have others too.  I think they have enough confidence that they will rely on what's already built in to the Falcon 9.

Plus we have to remember that they have a lot of experience running engines at their development and test facility, so I'm thinking that what they will be focused on is changes that may have been caused by the re-entry and landing part of the flight profile, not the ascent.  And those changes might not be limited to the engine, but the structures and misc. protection systems they have.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 04/16/2016 07:46 PM
What else is appropriate to do?

ps. I think he said they will wash it also.

Would be hilarious to get a High School to setup on the east side of intersection at Grouper and Snapper (https://www.google.com/maps/@28.4180382,-80.6206562,686m/data=!3m1!1e3) and have girls in bikinis trying to get the attention of the KAMAG driver for a fundraiser.

 ;D  What a wonderful time we live in that the soot on a recovered S1 bugs us.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jcc on 04/16/2016 08:36 PM
...
I tend to think it will not just be ten 3 second static firings; perhaps a series of firings at different lengths and thrust levels? Are there sufficient sensors on the stage to provide all the diagnostic information needed? Will they also borescope the engines? Laser scan the tanks to look for slight deformations?
...
Keep in mind that the Merlins have a finite total burn time and finite number of engine startups.

Doing borescoping and laser scans are time consuming. So doing such tasks for returned cores is unlikely IMO without some indication of problems from the telemetry.

In the long term, they should not have to do detailed inspections, but I think for the first several returned stages it is prudent to look carefully at the whole stage, including looking for any metal fatigue or cracking, or unexpected wear on any part. That's one of the benefits of getting the stage back, so you can look for any points of failure that don't show up in ground testing.

Musk said the things a stage should be good for 10-20 flights, then with "minor refurbishment" for up to 100. Refurbishment of what, and how do you know if it will last 10 flights or 20 flights? That knowledge will come with experience, and knowing what to check for.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: joek on 04/16/2016 09:58 PM
The aviation industry already understands this very well, and is how the industry and the FAA establish norms and limits for airframe, engine, etc. inspections and tear-down/rebuild.  I doubt that the fact that this is a rocket will change the fundamental approach or process.

A. First steps:
1. Engine and air-frame wear characteristics?
2. Telemetry or other indications that tell you to inspect more closely?

B. Those drive second steps:
3. Event-driven inspection and level of inspection (e.g., went off-nominal, need to increase inspection frequency or more invasive inspection).
4. Event-driven tear-down and rebuild (e.g., went off-nominal, clear indication tear-down/rebuild required).
5. Time-driven inspection interval and level of inspection (e.g. more invasive inspection mandatory after X hours).
6. Time-driven tear-down/rebuild interval (e.g. tear-down/rebuild mandatory every Y hours).

SpaceX probably has a good model based on ground tests, but establishing norms and limits will require time.  Way too early to tell what those norms and limits will be.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/16/2016 11:19 PM
Keep in mind that the Merlins have a finite total burn time and finite number of engine startups.

Elon Musk has stated they have no meaningful limit. They just need exchange of some highly stressed parts.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: joek on 04/16/2016 11:39 PM
Elon Musk has stated they have no meaningful limit. They just need exchange of some highly stressed parts.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but... the same could be said of almost any engine... rocket, aircraft or automotive.

The question is not: Will additional inspection-refurbishment-rebuild of various components be required; but: How often and at what cost?  IMHO, I hope and expect that SpaceX has done their homework, engineered appropriately, and that inspection-refurbishment-rebuild is cost effective.  And if not, I hope and expect they will make improvements to make them cost effective.

In any case, too early to tell.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 04/17/2016 01:47 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it, but... the same could be said of almost any engine... rocket, aircraft or automotive.
Except for engines which smash into the ocean after each use, needless to say.

Quote
The question is not: Will additional inspection-refurbishment-rebuild of various components be required; but: How often and at what cost?  IMHO, I hope and expect that SpaceX has done their homework, engineered appropriately, and that inspection-refurbishment-rebuild is cost effective.  And if not, I hope and expect they will make improvements to make them cost effective.

In any case, too early to tell.
I would beg to differ. They recovered, inspected, and static-fired the ORBCOMM-2 core, and declared it ready to refuel and refly. That one will be shipped to Hawthorne instead and put on display, but they anticipate reflying the CRS-8 booster within about two months, they said. Even single reuse of a single core that represents 70% of the cost of the rocket - as they've said - has a very large impact on the cost of your launch, and you'd need one hell of a lot of recovery and refurbishment spending to get up to 35% of the cost of the vehicle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sewebster on 04/17/2016 04:26 AM

I would beg to differ. They recovered, inspected, and static-fired the ORBCOMM-2 core, and declared it ready to refuel and refly.

Maybe I missed it, but didn't they have thrust fluctuations during the static fire and that was the last we heard about it?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 04/17/2016 05:29 AM
Elon Musk has stated they have no meaningful limit. They just need exchange of some highly stressed parts.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but... the same could be said of almost any engine... rocket, aircraft or automotive.

The question is not: Will additional inspection-refurbishment-rebuild of various components be required; but: How often and at what cost?  IMHO, I hope and expect that SpaceX has done their homework, engineered appropriately, and that inspection-refurbishment-rebuild is cost effective.  And if not, I hope and expect they will make improvements to make them cost effective.

In any case, too early to tell.

You can always distort meanings...   For example, if the body reaches its fatigue life in 5 flights, you can "refurbish it" by replacing the body.

But that's not what he's saying.

He's saying the goal is to fly 10-20 times, then do an economically sensible refurbishment (i.e. replace some components, and possibly refurbish them) and keep flying till ~100, where it becomes economically impractical to "refurbish" any further.

The nice thing is that these numbers are meaningless until both reliability and flight volume increase significantly.

This implies that their plans are as grandiose as we think/hope. (or that they are complete and utter fools, designing a rocket that will never be used)

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Avron on 04/17/2016 01:23 PM
just wondering how clean they can get the stage before re-fly without a repaint. Dark stage will mean more heating, while sitting on the pad
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 04/17/2016 02:01 PM

I would beg to differ. They recovered, inspected, and static-fired the ORBCOMM-2 core, and declared it ready to refuel and refly.

Maybe I missed it, but didn't they have thrust fluctuations during the static fire and that was the last we heard about it?

They did.  Changes were made to subsequent vehicles based on what was found on that flight per link below.
That stage is heading to Hawthorne for suitable lawn ornamentation.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39167.msg1487298#msg1487298

The ten sequential firings on this CRS-8 stage will show if issue is resolved.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 04/17/2016 02:51 PM
The change was minor, from what I was told. Probably not subject to open discussion due to ITAR.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 04/17/2016 03:36 PM
The change was minor, from what I was told. Probably not subject to open discussion due to ITAR.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Brief response that carries significant implications:
SpaceX is already making reliability improvements based on the very first recovered stage.  This bodes well for refurbishment, reuse, launch cost, ...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 04/18/2016 02:53 AM
Lots of pictures posted on the OCISLY Return thread.  This one caught my eye at the last picture on this post (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40002.msg1520179#msg1520179).

Was wondering (on another probably the wrong thread) about a more significant dedicated refurbishment facility.  Here is an awful lot of steel beams sitting out getting rusty within spitting distance of the Falcon.  Hmmm.



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Brovane on 04/18/2016 03:09 AM
Elon Musk has stated they have no meaningful limit. They just need exchange of some highly stressed parts.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but... the same could be said of almost any engine... rocket, aircraft or automotive.

The question is not: Will additional inspection-refurbishment-rebuild of various components be required; but: How often and at what cost?  IMHO, I hope and expect that SpaceX has done their homework, engineered appropriately, and that inspection-refurbishment-rebuild is cost effective.  And if not, I hope and expect they will make improvements to make them cost effective.

In any case, too early to tell.

Considering how SpaceX uses "Sparse Matrix" to make their engineering decisions.  I suspect that they don't have all the answers.  Part of their conversation is probably along the lines of "Let's get a few cores back see what condition they are in."  Unlike some aerospace companies they don't look at every possibility before making a decision and moving ahead.  They will continue to refine the Falcon-9 as they get more cores back and test fire them and discovery issues that come up.  All of this testing will make the Falcon-9 a more dependable launch vehicle.   
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 04/18/2016 06:10 AM
Lots of pictures posted on the OCISLY Return thread.  This one caught my eye at the last picture on this post (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40002.msg1520179#msg1520179).

Was wondering (on another probably the wrong thread) about a more significant dedicated refurbishment facility.  Here is an awful lot of steel beams sitting out getting rusty within spitting distance of the Falcon.  Hmmm.

From earlier in that thread...

FYI, the fence behind the structural steel has been the "property line" for SpaceX's space since they moved to Port Canaveral.  Apparently they got permission from the neighbors to put their anchor block on the foreground side of the fence.  I don't believe the steel has anything to do with SpaceX.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 04/18/2016 12:34 PM
From earlier in that thread...

So much material to read ... 

grrrr.  :-[ Thanks.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: 411rocket on 04/18/2016 12:55 PM
Looking on the Port webcam, looks like someone decided, to cleanup one of the engine nozzles, at least on the outside. Sure is a big contrast, to another visible nozzle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Paul_G on 04/18/2016 05:29 PM
From earlier in that thread...

So much material to read ... 

grrrr.  :-[ Thanks.

That does beg the question, when that structure is built, and the adjacent site operational, will SpaceX need to move their stand, so that they have space to place the concrete block securing the tie-down, or will the process evolve sufficiently that the stage won't be on the stand long enough to warrant the tiedown.

Paul
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/20/2016 01:13 AM
the gorgeous pics by StockHolder in the ASDS OCISLY thread starting here https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40002.msg1521175#msg1521175 make me think about consumables. We already saw that some of the corkage got beat up. I thought I saw erosion in both sets of grid fins that have been returned. 

Can we start to predict some of the things that are going to be consumables, and others that are going to be redesigned not to wear as much?

I'm thinking grid fins would get heavier if they were strengthened so much that they resisted most of the erosion we saw. So they might be a consumable.

On the other hand refitting cork each time seems time consuming so that may be a redesigned area with a different material? or a strengthened surface but cork still there?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/20/2016 02:22 AM
Quote
On the other hand refitting cork each time seems time consuming so that may be a redesigned area with a different material? or a strengthened surface but cork still there?

Those cork composite panels should not be difficult nor time consuming to re-apply, at least compared to something like Shuttle tiles. But I'm guessing the main change next time around might be to improve the bonding process. Looks like the adhesive simply didn't hold. Maybe the substrate prep was inadequate, or not enough adhesive was used.

Either way, I'm betting next time around we don't see any missing cork chunks.

As for the grid fins, the closeups on the OG2 stage seemed to show that the erosion was in the surface TPS material, not the metal itself. Reapply TPS as needed, and fly again.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/20/2016 02:31 AM
I think there's not much doubt any longer about why the bottom third or so of the stage is so dark compared to the upper portions, after these closeup views. At the very least I expect the white paint will be reapplied for direct thermal control purposes pre-launch due to color, and to sacrifically ablate away during flight to help protect the cork surface. I suspect they may change paint formulations, however, as they learn how to reprocess stages.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CJ on 04/20/2016 03:34 AM
I think there's not much doubt any longer about why the bottom third or so of the stage is so dark compared to the upper portions, after these closeup views. At the very least I expect the white paint will be reapplied for direct thermal control purposes pre-launch due to color, and to sacrifically ablate away during flight to help protect the cork surface. I suspect they may change paint formulations, however, as they learn how to reprocess stages.

I'm a bit confused; if we're talking the area that's currently very dark due to soot (bottom 1/3 of the stage) why paint it white? Is there really a need for the thermal benefit of white paint over the RP1 tank? Or is it a thermal conductance issue?
I have a feeling I'm missing something here.

Hrmmm... radiative heating due to recirculation during ascent? I'm guessing that's fairly severe.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/20/2016 02:37 PM
On the subject of used engines, Elon tweeted a pic of the two returned cores in the high bay. The OG2 stage has several engines removed, and it's instructive to compare the photo with a sketch I made previously, just after the OG2 stage had come back and we were able to see pics.

We saw from the pics that outer engines #1 and #5 had visible TEA/TEB residue, making it likely that those were the two engines, in addition to the center engine, that comprised the 3-engine restart "triad." So I had double-circled those in the sketch as the probable "restartable" engines.

And now this pic from Elon shows those three engines (#1, #5, #9) missing, which tends to support the hypothesis that those are, in fact, the restartable engines. (The other missing engines are #4 and #7).

Will be interesting to hear what they find from inspections.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/20/2016 02:55 PM
Kabloona are you sure the rotation is the same? I see your marks (fluid connections, the flag, etc) but my eyes aren't good enough to tell that from the image of both stages... to my way of thinking the leg marks show that there was some rotation... the pair of engines still there are either 3 and 4 or maybe 7 and 8 in your sketch, but I can't spot the white rectangle and may be confused.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/20/2016 02:57 PM
Kabloona are you sure the rotation is the same? I see your marks (fluid connections, the flag, etc) but my eyes aren't good enough to tell that from the image of both stages... to my way of thinking the leg marks show that there was some rotation... the pair of engines still there are either 3 and 4 or maybe 7 and 8 in your sketch, but I can't spot the white rectangle and may be confused.

It looks to have been rolled slightly clockwise. You can see by comparing the location of the black lifting pin fittings at the top and bottom. But the roll is not significant enough to have thrown off my engine numbering, IMO. In the pic below, engine #1 is almost at the top, at about the  12:30-o'clock position. In the pic above, it has been rotated to the 1-o'clock position.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/20/2016 03:07 PM
Which pair do you think are the two engines in a row still there (closest to the camera and the other stage)? If 3 and 4 then engine 1 (which you identified as one of the boostback engines) is also still there, no? Because the next engine up from 3 is 2, which is missing, and after that is 1, which is still there.

This why I think maybe there was some rotation because I rather think the theory about pulling the two boostback, the landing (1,5,9) and one near and one far makes a lot of sense...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/20/2016 03:10 PM
Which pair do you think are the two engines in a row still there (closest to the camera and the other stage)? If 3 and 4 then engine 1 (which you identified as one of the boostback engines) is also still there, no? Because the next engine up from 3 is 2, which is missing, and after that is 1, which is still there.

This why I think maybe there was some rotation because I rather think the theory about pulling the two boostback, the landing (1,5,9) and one near and one far makes a lot of sense...

2 and 3 are the pair nearest us. 1,4,5, 7, and 9 are missing. 6 and 8 are still there on the far side.

Yes, there was some slight rotation clockwise between the two photos, maybe one-half-an-o'clock.  ;)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Doesitfloat on 04/20/2016 03:13 PM
If OrbCom core is going to be a static display. Do they need to keep the flight engines on it for display or just mount the a set of bells when it get back to Hawthorne?  Keep the flight engines in serviceable condition. Use the dinged up bells from CRS8 Core for display.  Maybe mount the flight engines on another core. Get a price for engine only reuse, compared to full reuse. 
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/20/2016 03:22 PM
If OrbCom core is going to be a static display. Do they need to keep the flight engines on it for display or just mount the a set of bells when it get back to Hawthorne?  Keep the flight engines in serviceable condition. Use the dinged up bells from CRS8 Core for display.  Maybe mount the flight engines on another core. Get a price for engine only reuse, compared to full reuse.

They're pumping out engines so fast and relatively cheaply now, I doubt they'd bother to try to reuse those engines. Maybe instead they will test the heck out of them at McGregor, at which point they're useless except for static display, and put them back on the stage for display.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/20/2016 03:31 PM
Which pair do you think are the two engines in a row still there (closest to the camera and the other stage)? If 3 and 4 then engine 1 (which you identified as one of the boostback engines) is also still there, no? Because the next engine up from 3 is 2, which is missing, and after that is 1, which is still there.

This why I think maybe there was some rotation because I rather think the theory about pulling the two boostback, the landing (1,5,9) and one near and one far makes a lot of sense...

2 and 3 are the pair nearest us. 1,4,5, 7, and 9 are missing. 6 and 8 are still there on the far side.

Yes, there was some slight rotation clockwise between the two photos, maybe one-half-an-o'clock.  ;)

OK I get it now, the two close together white marks are the from two different adjacent legs but your markings of "legs" in the diagram aren't those marks, but rather the midpoint between one pair of those marks and the next pair...

Thanks!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: launchwatcher on 04/20/2016 04:18 PM
And now this pic from Elon shows those three engines (#1, #5, #9) missing, which tends to support the hypothesis that those are, in fact, the restartable engines. (The other missing engines are #4 and #7).
Perhaps those five are:
 - the restartable engines
 - the engine that showed thrust fluctuation in the post-flight burn
 - one of the other non-restarted engines that was ok in the post-flight burn.
and they want to use the "good" engine as a baseline for comparison for the one that didn't behave.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 04/20/2016 04:29 PM
And now this pic from Elon shows those three engines (#1, #5, #9) missing, which tends to support the hypothesis that those are, in fact, the restartable engines. (The other missing engines are #4 and #7).
Perhaps those five are:
 - the restartable engines
 - the engine that showed thrust fluctuation in the post-flight burn
 - one of the other non-restarted engines that was ok in the post-flight burn.
and they want to use the "good" engine as a baseline for comparison for the one that didn't behave.
Or they could be the 5 they happen to have removed so far to analyze the heck out and gut before converting the rocket into lawn display.  My guess is that all the engines are coming off and we're looking at a work in progress.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/20/2016 05:22 PM
Or they could be the 5 they happen to have removed so far to analyze the heck out and gut before converting the rocket into lawn display.  My guess is that all the engines are coming off and we're looking at a work in progress.
Wait, are you saying that maybe we're overanalysing based on incomplete data???  We never do that here. Never.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Saabstory88 on 04/20/2016 05:58 PM
Or they could be the 5 they happen to have removed so far to analyze the heck out and gut before converting the rocket into lawn display.  My guess is that all the engines are coming off and we're looking at a work in progress.

Exactly. What would be a reason for keeping flight capable hardware on a stage destined for trophy duty? Strip it down, and start getting recovered components back in the sky.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Roadie on 04/20/2016 06:36 PM
The engine is out of the Grasshopper in McGregor, and it's just standing there giving shade to some weeds. IIRC it was an M1C, though. Certainly not a D.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: dgates on 04/21/2016 12:15 AM
This makes me wonder, do they roll the rocket, once in the hanger, on the fixture, essentially at will for easy access?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: dgates on 04/21/2016 12:19 AM
Or they could be the 5 they happen to have removed so far to analyze the heck out and gut before converting the rocket into lawn display.  My guess is that all the engines are coming off and we're looking at a work in progress.
Wait, are you saying that maybe we're overanalysing based on incomplete data???  We never do that here. Never.

Also, I suspect the are taking flown hardware and getting various piece parts into a refurb cycle for reuse.  Bead blast, repainted things, remove electronics for flight requalification (firmware updates?), NDI, etc.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 04/21/2016 12:26 AM
I guess this thread includes any dock-side equipment.

One of the highest profile elements in this endeavor has been the crane of course.

Unless they bought it, they are long-term leasing it, and this can't be cheap.  It's also not ideal, since these cranes are not anchored to the ground - they are balancing acts.

Would a permanent crane make sense?

A perma-crane can be a simple fixed square frame, anchored to a foundation, with a trolley on top, that extends out over the water to half the barge's width.  It needs to have enough space inside the frame for the transporter to back into.   It would have a secondary winch to replace the small boom crane for rotating the stage.  It would have lighting protection.  It would have whatever support is need for operations they want to perform while still vertical - such as some fluid processing, leg folding, inspection... (like access gantries instead of boom man lifts and ladders)



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 04/21/2016 12:45 AM
I would still like to hear from SpaceX the rational for removing the legs before transport. So if Chris is sending questions to them or if our SpaceX NSF friend here could let us know it would be greatly appreciated. Good luck with the refurbishment! :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Saabstory88 on 04/21/2016 12:50 AM
I would still like to hear from SpaceX the rational for removing the legs before transport. So if Chris is sending questions to them or if our SpaceX NSF friend here could let us know it would be greatly appreciated. Good luck with the refurbishment! :)

They probably want the legs removed for inspection. Perhaps it is easier to remove the legs when vertical than trying to repack them, then later removing them at the hangar.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 04/21/2016 02:13 AM
I would still like to hear from SpaceX the rational for removing the legs before transport. So if Chris is sending questions to them or if our SpaceX NSF friend here could let us know it would be greatly appreciated. Good luck with the refurbishment! :)

They probably want the legs removed for inspection. Perhaps it is easier to remove the legs when vertical than trying to repack them, then later removing them at the hangar.

Agree 100%. 

I would further speculate that it might be a regular part of the turn-around process to swap legs to ensure a full trusted set are on every core (until they get more comfortable) and that the grid fins are an easy enough swap to perform simply for convenience.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 04/21/2016 03:40 PM
I would still like to hear from SpaceX the rational for removing the legs before transport. So if Chris is sending questions to them or if our SpaceX NSF friend here could let us know it would be greatly appreciated. Good luck with the refurbishment! :)

They probably want the legs removed for inspection. Perhaps it is easier to remove the legs when vertical than trying to repack them, then later removing them at the hangar.


Agree 100%. 

I would further speculate that it might be a regular part of the turn-around process to swap legs to ensure a full trusted set are on every core (until they get more comfortable) and that the grid fins are an easy enough swap to perform simply for convenience.
You both have good "speculative" reasons, I just want to hear from the proverbial "horse's mouth" at SpaceX...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: whitelancer64 on 04/21/2016 04:26 PM
I would still like to hear from SpaceX the rational for removing the legs before transport. So if Chris is sending questions to them or if our SpaceX NSF friend here could let us know it would be greatly appreciated. Good luck with the refurbishment! :)
I have heard that the current leg design has no way to collapse the legs once they have extended.

Future versions of the legs will rectify that, of course. I would guess the next flown mission will have the capacity to do that.

The old transportation fixtures also did not have space for the landing legs. The one used to move the CRS-8 stage to LC-39A now does.

Here's a side by side image for comparison (OG2 stage on the left, CRS-8 stage on the right):
http://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CgcvT0CUUAAee00.jpg-large.jpg

I would look for the legs to be collapsed for transport on the next recovered stage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: tleski on 04/21/2016 05:52 PM

Here's a side by side image for comparison (OG2 stage on the left, CRS-8 stage on the right):
http://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CgcvT0CUUAAee00.jpg-large.jpg

I would look for the legs to be collapsed for transport on the next recovered stage.

Wrong comparison. The fixture for transport is different from the fixture/ring used to work on the stage. It was discussed in the reuse thread. See this post:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40086.msg1521369#msg1521369
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rocx on 04/21/2016 08:03 PM
Future versions of the legs will rectify that, of course. I would guess the next flown mission will have the capacity to do that.

Why? As long as the rocket does not lift off while standing on its legs, there will always be engineers present when taking off or folding the legs. If re-folding adds weight, it would not be such a good thing to do.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/21/2016 09:40 PM
Future versions of the legs will rectify that, of course. I would guess the next flown mission will have the capacity to do that.

Why? As long as the rocket does not lift off while standing on its legs, there will always be engineers present when taking off or folding the legs. If re-folding adds weight, it would not be such a good thing to do.
Optimize for cost, not weight. Don't go crazy about it but don't be afraid of adding some weight if it shaves days off the refurb cycle. (That's my thinking on their thinking)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: yg1968 on 04/25/2016 03:19 PM
Here ia an article on this topic:

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/

Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/25/2016 04:24 PM
Here ia an article on this topic:

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/

Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.

I'm dubious.

For one thing it's wishful thinking, because if he's right, all is well at Arianespace, but if he's wrong, his job is in trouble, and for another the production facility is going to be busy cranking out S2s so the cost of having an idle line? isn't.  This seems more or less the same FUD that ULA (inadvertantly in my view) served up with Dr. Sowers' spreadsheet on reuse business case.

Time wil tell.

Also, I suspect the are taking flown hardware and getting various piece parts into a refurb cycle for reuse.  Bead blast, repainted things, remove electronics for flight requalification (firmware updates?), NDI, etc.

I'm dubious about this as well. At least steady state, if things need to be disassembled after every flight, we're back to refurbishment rather than reuse. I expect SpaceX will design out refurbishment wherever possible.  First few cycles? Sure. Lots to inspect and test and learn from, but over time, every touch will be looked at for possible elimination.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CraigLieb on 04/25/2016 04:36 PM
Following the aircraft model, might we see FAA get involved with 100 hour inspection requirements on engines and/or overhauls every certain time period?  I am thinking govt agencies be come more interested particularly if people transport becomes common on re-used space vehicles.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 04/25/2016 05:16 PM
Following the aircraft model, might we see FAA get involved with 100 hour inspection requirements on engines and/or overhauls every certain time period?  I am thinking govt agencies be come more interested particularly if people transport becomes common on re-used space vehicles.

And aircraft are built to be overhauled, any reason not to just refurbish after, say, 50 flights?  And do upgrades then?  Does software always have to be at the highest revision to work (I guess another way to say that is "Is backward compatibility now an issue with rockets?")?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: yg1968 on 04/25/2016 05:50 PM
Here ia an article on this topic:

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/

Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.

I'm dubious.

For one thing it's wishful thinking, because if he's right, all is well at Arianespace, but if he's wrong, his job is in trouble, and for another the production facility is going to be busy cranking out S2s so the cost of having an idle line? isn't.  This seems more or less the same FUD that ULA (inadvertantly in my view) served up with Dr. Sowers' spreadsheet on reuse business case.

Time wil tell.

It could be that what makes sense for ULA and Arianespace isn't the case for SpaceX. Because SpaceX is vertically integrated, it might be easier for them to reuse their first stage and continue to keep their production line open. The other thing is that I believe Musk when he says that reusability is worth it even if you only fly once a year. Reusability only costs you something if it prevents you from launching certain payloads. But I don't think that's the case for SpaceX. The cost of recovery and reburshment of the first stage might be a factor but we don't know what that is yet.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 04/25/2016 06:12 PM
Here ia an article on this topic:

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/

Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.

I'm dubious.

For one thing it's wishful thinking, because if he's right, all is well at Arianespace, but if he's wrong, his job is in trouble, and for another the production facility is going to be busy cranking out S2s so the cost of having an idle line? isn't.  This seems more or less the same FUD that ULA (inadvertantly in my view) served up with Dr. Sowers' spreadsheet on reuse business case.

Time wil tell.

Also, I suspect the are taking flown hardware and getting various piece parts into a refurb cycle for reuse.  Bead blast, repainted things, remove electronics for flight requalification (firmware updates?), NDI, etc.

I'm dubious about this as well. At least steady state, if things need to be disassembled after every flight, we're back to refurbishment rather than reuse. I expect SpaceX will design out refurbishment wherever possible.  First few cycles? Sure. Lots to inspect and test and learn from, but over time, every touch will be looked at for possible elimination.

The mental image of trying to move forward while your head is buried in the sand is amusing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/25/2016 07:13 PM

It could be that what makes sense for ULA and Arianespace isn't the case for SpaceX. Because SpaceX is vertically integrated, it might be easier for them to reuse their first stage and continue to keep their production line open.

Exactly. If you are a "rockets are LEGO elements" company like OrbitalATK that assembles things and each stage is dissimilar, if you start reusing S1 a lot, you (or your S1 vendor) have a vacant S1 line, and repurposing it for, say, lunar landers, or in space tugs, is a lot harder.  Your S2 is from a different vendor so you can't repurpose the S1 line to make them...

Whether it was dumb luck forced on them due to limited resources, or shrewd thinking (I think the latter but I'm biased), SpaceX does not have this problem. S2 is made on the SAME line as S1... same tankage, a lot of the same internal fixtures, etc, just shorter. yes, it's different, but reconfiguring the line to make 3x ... and then 5X... and then 10X (as reuse fraction goes up)  S2 as you do S1 isn't nearly as hard.

(and this is what kind of bugs me about the talk of a Raptor upper stage for F9... all of a sudden you're eroding a lot of commonality. ESPECIALLY if you go to a different tank size like so many people here like)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 04/25/2016 07:36 PM

It could be that what makes sense for ULA and Arianespace isn't the case for SpaceX. Because SpaceX is vertically integrated, it might be easier for them to reuse their first stage and continue to keep their production line open.

Exactly. If you are a "rockets are LEGO elements" company like OrbitalATK that assembles things and each stage is dissimilar, if you start reusing S1 a lot, you (or your S1 vendor) have a vacant S1 line, and repurposing it for, say, lunar landers, or in space tugs, is a lot harder.  Your S2 is from a different vendor so you can't repurpose the S1 line to make them...

Whether it was dumb luck forced on them due to limited resources, or shrewd thinking (I think the latter but I'm biased), SpaceX does not have this problem. S2 is made on the SAME line as S1... same tankage, a lot of the same internal fixtures, etc, just shorter. yes, it's different, but reconfiguring the line to make 3x ... and then 5X... and then 10X (as reuse fraction goes up)  S2 as you do S1 isn't nearly as hard.

(and this is what kind of bugs me about the talk of a Raptor upper stage for F9... all of a sudden you're eroding a lot of commonality. ESPECIALLY if you go to a different tank size like so many people here like)

I doubt SpaceX will let an upgraded S2 get in they way of high volume production. It wouldn't fill any customer needs than reusable Heavy will not already be able to launch with the current high volume (e.g. cheap) 2nd stage, except for super-heavy lift - and they don't currently have any super-heavy lift customers.

Unless NASA or DOD is funding it for super-heavy lift, it would just be a very low volume research and development demonstrator to prove MCT concepts, and would only go up on a fraction of Heavy launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kansan52 on 04/25/2016 07:38 PM
If memory serves, outsourcing was the original SX plan to save money. Again relying on memory, when outsourcing failed, processes were brought back home. I believe all of the companies are 'shrewd' in their own way, 'rapidly adaptable' seems to be an SX strength.

Now this is all moot because they seem to always build there own stages!  ;)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: nadreck on 04/25/2016 07:39 PM

Unless NASA or DOD is funding it for super-heavy lift, it would just be a very low volume research and development demonstrator to prove MCT concepts, and would only go up on a fraction of Heavy launches.

I don't see that if it is reusable, it would be cheaper than the current upper stage to use then.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CraigLieb on 04/25/2016 09:27 PM
Here ia an article on this topic:

http://spacenews.com/spacexs-reusable-falcon-9-what-are-the-real-cost-savings-for-customers/

Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.

The assumption of the article is if you can't profit from the direct investment in the short or medium term (lets say 5-10 years) with financial returns greater than the investment, then it shouldn't be done. And in a typical business envioronment ignoring these kinds of "rules" spells death to a company. Arianespace and other oldSpace companies have this mindset because they have to answer to shareholders. Lost profitability turns into lost jobs for presidents.

I believe that SpaceX and their investors operate from a completely different paradigm, incompatible with the former view. They measure success so radically differently that it is not even comprehensible to their competition.

Reuse will completely remake the launch marketplace as much as mass production changed the marketplace for automobiles from custom made cars for the elite, to an industry sold to the common man. It enables thousands of launches per year instead of hundreds.  SpaceX may leverage some of that launch capacity to put up a global satellite Internet service array less expensively than anyone else can do. Leveraging the capital from this to fund the next steps.
 
Beyond that,  SpaceX and the investor group may be looking to own Mars. I don't mean planet domination, but founder's position, which can be the best leverage, for of all commercial endeavors on an entirely new planet! These will be new businesses, new franchises, and new industries.  It takes vision to see the potential. It takes moxy to get beyond failures of stages, more expensive design criteria,  invested in landing technology, ASDS platforms, new launch zones, not to mention lost performance due to fuel reserves for landing.

So success, as measured by SpaceX, seems to be about leveraging today's marketplace to change the paradigm and open up 200 years of profit growth on multiple planets.  Sign me up.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Retired Downrange on 04/25/2016 09:41 PM
I would say the comment "lost performance due to fuel reserves for landing." is a reflection of "old way" thinking, as we certainly don't say that about airplanes...   That which could be called "lost" in the future would be the cost (millions of dollars) if the launch vehicle is thrown away after one launch.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 04/25/2016 10:57 PM
Quote
Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel, in an April 23 briefing at Europe’s Guiana Space Center here on the northeast coast of South America, said Europe’s launch sector can only guess at how much SpaceX will need to spend to refurbish its Falcon 9 first stages. Israel said European assessments of reusability have concluded that, to reap the full cost benefits, a partially reusable rocket would need to launch 35-40 times per year to maintain a sizable production facility while introducing reused hardware into the manifest.

If the underlying purpose of your production facilities is to maintain a set of well-paying jobs for favored political constituencies and support your national and allied aerospace and defense systems engineering employment sectors, rather than to turn a profit in the most efficient way possible, then I suppose that the European assessments of reusability would inevitably come to such a conclusion.

And he's apparently in denial, since SpaceX already assessed the first returned booster from December, and test-fired it earlier this year, and later declared it capable of reflight, so that puts an upper bound on the refurbishment spending requirements which he doesn't seem to want to acknowledge is far, far lower than he and his vaunted experts expected.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/25/2016 11:32 PM
The assumption of the article is if you can't profit from the direct investment in the short or medium term (lets say 5-10 years) with financial returns greater than the investment, then it shouldn't be done. And in a typical business envioronment ignoring these kinds of "rules" spells death to a company. Arianespace and other oldSpace companies have this mindset because they have to answer to shareholders. Lost profitability turns into lost jobs for presidents.
True. This is the launch business.
Quote
I believe that SpaceX and their investors operate from a completely different paradigm, incompatible with the former view. They measure success so radically differently that it is not even comprehensible to their competition.
Or they can afford  to take a longer perspective on their payoff.
Quote
Reuse will completely remake the launch marketplace as much as mass production
At this point it's partial reuse and it's a hope it will remake the launch services marketplace.

Remaking the launch marketplace requires a vehicle you can buy and use on your own.  :(
You might think of SX's work as lowering the cost of chauffeurs.
Quote
It enables thousands of launches per year instead of hundreds.
Not when you still throw away a whole stage costing tens of millions er launch.
Quote
  SpaceX may leverage some of that launch capacity to put up a global satellite Internet service array less expensively than anyone else can do. Leveraging the capital from this to fund the next steps.
 
We'll see  how this works.
Quote
Beyond that,  SpaceX and the investor group may be looking to own Mars. I don't mean planet domination, but founder's position, which can be the best leverage, for of all commercial endeavors on an entirely new planet! These will be new businesses, new franchises, and new industries. 
The last time someone tried to start a thread about that it was locked.    :(

I note Musk has stated that even shipping Crack Cocaine from Mars would not make a profit. Historically quite a lot of of fortunes have been founded on shipping surpluses to existing markets.
Musk believes this option is impossible.  :(



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/26/2016 01:47 AM
Beyond that,  SpaceX and the investor group may be looking to own Mars. I don't mean planet domination, but founder's position, which can be the best leverage, for of all commercial endeavors on an entirely new planet! These will be new businesses, new franchises, and new industries. 
The last time someone tried to start a thread about that it was locked.    :(
Threads get locked partly because people get on hobbyhorses about things and try to drag discussion off topic repeatedly. There are other reasons but that's one.
Quote
I note Musk has stated that even shipping Crack Cocaine from Mars would not make a profit. Historically quite a lot of of fortunes have been founded on shipping surpluses to existing markets.
Musk believes this option is impossible.  :(

That's not exactly what he meant and it's been overcome by events. More importantly, we have had many many threads on the economics of resource exploitation. This isn't one of them. See above.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Danderman on 04/26/2016 02:43 AM
The big question for me is whether SpaceX is going to test a refurbished stage by flying it again, but with some ballast for a second stage, and then try to fly the stage back to Cape Canaveral. How that would fit into their current launch manifest is TBD, but I suspect that they currently have no scheduled launches involving a refurbished stage, so the manifest does not currently support a test flight.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/26/2016 02:56 AM
The big question for me is whether SpaceX is going to test a refurbished stage by flying it again, but with some ballast for a second stage, and then try to fly the stage back to Cape Canaveral. How that would fit into their current launch manifest is TBD, but I suspect that they currently have no scheduled launches involving a refurbished stage, so the manifest does not currently support a test flight.

Not sure I agree with that. SES has been very vocal about wanting to be the first customer to fly on a previously flown stage. I think it is entirely possible that SpaceX will forego any dummy payloads and just go straight to a commercial launch. That's what they are saying they are going to do, after all.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: savuporo on 04/26/2016 03:42 AM
The big question for me is whether SpaceX is going to test a refurbished stage by flying it again, but with some ballast for a second stage, and then try to fly the stage back to Cape Canaveral. How that would fit into their current launch manifest is TBD, but I suspect that they currently have no scheduled launches involving a refurbished stage, so the manifest does not currently support a test flight.

Not sure I agree with that. SES has been very vocal about wanting to be the first customer to fly on a previously flown stage. I think it is entirely possible that SpaceX will forego any dummy payloads and just go straight to a commercial launch. That's what they are saying they are going to do, after all.

SES also apparently said they want a 50% price cut, which is not what SpaceX has been talking about, yet. I'm sure supply will meet the demand at some point tho.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/26/2016 11:39 AM
The big question for me is whether SpaceX is going to test a refurbished stage by flying it again, but with some ballast for a second stage, and then try to fly the stage back to Cape Canaveral. How that would fit into their current launch manifest is TBD, but I suspect that they currently have no scheduled launches involving a refurbished stage, so the manifest does not currently support a test flight.

Not sure I agree with that. SES has been very vocal about wanting to be the first customer to fly on a previously flown stage. I think it is entirely possible that SpaceX will forego any dummy payloads and just go straight to a commercial launch. That's what they are saying they are going to do, after all.

SES also apparently said they want a 50% price cut, which is not what SpaceX has been talking about, yet. I'm sure supply will meet the demand at some point tho.

And it shouldn't take long to reach that point of supply and demand meeting. SpaceX's notional $20M price reduction for reuse puts an F9 flight at around $40M, which is cheaper than a Pegasus, for goodness sake.

So maybe 50% off is SES's opening bid, but they have to know that's not realistic.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/26/2016 11:54 AM
So maybe 50% off is SES's opening bid, but they have to know that's not realistic.
We surely don't have perfect visibility to SpaceX's pricing strategy. It's not outside the realm of possibility that SpaceX says "45M is the price. And we're not budging on that. BUT because we love you, SES, you can have the first one for 30, and we'll make up the 15M short by charging you 50 each for the next three"[1] or something... .who knows. Or maybe they'll just give SES that price once. Or maybe it's all public posturing.

But I think you're spot on in saying that if people are posturing or negotiating, that it's very unlikely that the first relaunch will be boilerplate. All parties are already on record as saying that isn't the plan...

1 - Notional numbers
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/26/2016 12:39 PM
Threads get locked partly because people get on hobbyhorses about things and try to drag discussion off topic repeatedly. There are other reasons but that's one.
Noted.
Quote
That's not exactly what he meant and it's been overcome by events. More importantly, we have had many many threads on the economics of resource exploitation. This isn't one of them. See above.
I was not planning on discussing it further here.
And it shouldn't take long to reach that point of supply and demand meeting. SpaceX's notional $20M price reduction for reuse puts an F9 flight at around $40M, which is cheaper than a Pegasus, for goodness sake.
Is Pegasus known as the worlds most expensive launcher in terms of $/lb to orbit?

The question is not wheather cutting launch prices will increase demand, it's wheather the price cut will raise demand enough.
Quote
So maybe 50% off is SES's opening bid, but they have to know that's not realistic.
With numbers this public this looks like the start of a negotiation.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sewebster on 04/26/2016 06:16 PM
I took the 50% to be a "first time only" number, cheaper because of the possible risk associated with the first re-flight, not a desired price for all launches with re-flown stages.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/26/2016 08:46 PM
I took the 50% to be a "first time only" number, cheaper because of the possible risk associated with the first re-flight, not a desired price for all launches with re-flown stages.
TBH I would agree. offering a (fairly) substantial discount is SOP for first launches on new LV's.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/30/2016 04:42 AM
Interesting reply from Musk on how reusable is the Falcon core to a Twitter query.


Smilodonjack ‏@RokBottomGamers  3h3 hours ago
@elonmusk What re-usability rate are you going with for falcon? (realistically)


Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk  4h4 hours ago
@RokBottomGamers 100+ for almost everything 10+ for heat shields and a few other items.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CraigLieb on 05/02/2016 04:05 AM
So maybe 50% off is SES's opening bid, but they have to know that's not realistic.
We surely don't have perfect visibility to SpaceX's pricing strategy. It's not outside the realm of possibility that SpaceX says "45M is the price. And we're not budging on that. BUT because we love you, SES, you can have the first one for 30, and we'll make up the 15M short by charging you 50 each for the next three"[1] or something... .who knows. Or maybe they'll just give SES that price once. Or maybe it's all public posturing.

But I think you're spot on in saying that if people are posturing or negotiating, that it's very unlikely that the first relaunch will be boilerplate. All parties are already on record as saying that isn't the plan...

1 - Notional numbers

Well they may pay $30 million but that doesn't cover the extra charges for baggage handling, priority boarding, those cushy seats in the front or drinks/ headphones for the in flight entertainment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Tuts36 on 05/03/2016 04:09 PM
This quote is from the JCSAT-14 - May 5, 2016 - DISCUSSION thread:

James Dean on Twitter:

SpaceX on next landing attempt: booster "will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely."

https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean (https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean)

This makes me curious.  When SpaceX has gotten a few more returned stages under its belt, presumably they will have a better understanding of how likely, statistically, it will be that they can recover a first stage on future launches.

So if a customer was an edge case, as an example let's say there was only a 40% chance of recovery, would the customer be charged the "expendable" rate, the reusable rate, or some sort of sliding scale?  Or would they be charged as expendable but receive a rebate if the stage was recovered?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: wannamoonbase on 05/03/2016 04:17 PM
So maybe 50% off is SES's opening bid, but they have to know that's not realistic.
We surely don't have perfect visibility to SpaceX's pricing strategy. It's not outside the realm of possibility that SpaceX says "45M is the price. And we're not budging on that. BUT because we love you, SES, you can have the first one for 30, and we'll make up the 15M short by charging you 50 each for the next three"[1] or something... .who knows. Or maybe they'll just give SES that price once. Or maybe it's all public posturing.

But I think you're spot on in saying that if people are posturing or negotiating, that it's very unlikely that the first relaunch will be boilerplate. All parties are already on record as saying that isn't the plan...

1 - Notional numbers

I'm not a salesman but I have found that it's hard to raise prices if you offer a lower 'get to know us' rate.

A lot will depend on confident level, but I think SpaceX should stay at what they expect to a market price for a flight. 

In fact once reuse is proven and established I think the price for a launch should be consistent regardless of new or used cores.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 05/03/2016 04:28 PM
I'm not a salesman but I have found that it's hard to raise prices if you offer a lower 'get to know us' rate.

Comcast does it to millions of people all the time. Of course some of them switch, but many stay.

If it's stated up front it might be a workable pricing strategy. But you might be right, hence SpaceX resistance, who knows.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 05/03/2016 04:47 PM
This quote is from the JCSAT-14 - May 5, 2016 - DISCUSSION thread:

James Dean on Twitter:

SpaceX on next landing attempt: booster "will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely."

https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean (https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean)

This makes me curious.  When SpaceX has gotten a few more returned stages under its belt, presumably they will have a better understanding of how likely, statistically, it will be that they can recover a first stage on future launches.

So if a customer was an edge case, as an example let's say there was only a 40% chance of recovery, would the customer be charged the "expendable" rate, the reusable rate, or some sort of sliding scale?  Or would they be charged as expendable but receive a rebate if the stage was recovered?

This could actually be the launch on which they establish the edge of the envelope for successful ASDS landing. They were so close on SES-9, just needed maybe 1000 kg more propellant. Ever hopeful, I do expect them to succeed this time.

So I'd guess they're quite close to nailing down exactly how much propellant is needed for recovery from a given MECO velocity. Any payload requiring a MECO velocity that leaves less-than-needed propellant reserve gets charged the "expendable" rate, and SpaceX doesn't bother sending the recovery armada out for a low-probability recovery attempt. They just burn S1 to near depletion and give S2 some extra margin just in case. We just saw on Atlas/Centaur how having performance margin on Centaur saved the mission.

That's my guess, FWIW.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: apirie98 on 05/03/2016 05:24 PM
So if a customer was an edge case, as an example let's say there was only a 40% chance of recovery, would the customer be charged the "expendable" rate, the reusable rate, or some sort of sliding scale?  Or would they be charged as expendable but receive a rebate if the stage was recovered?

I'd think that the whole rebate idea is probably the thing they are most likely to do, especially in the early stages of re-use when everything is still uncertain, and it's not known whether a stage will definitely be re-used for revenue-earning missions, dissected or tested to destruction etc.

Out of curiosity, how possible is it  that in the future they might have some system where every time a stage gets successfully re-used everybody who's previously flown on that particular stage gets a certain amount of money back (or a discount for their next launch?) so that by the end of the stage's life - however many re-uses that may be - every user has effectively paid the same amount for their use of the stage including initial manufacturing, upkeep and refurb costs for the whole stage lifetime? This would probably get a bit complicated because of all the money changing hands for every re-use but it seems to me that it's probably the fairest way to split the launch costs assuming equal reliability and value between new and used stages etc.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 05/03/2016 05:59 PM
snip...
Out of curiosity, how possible is it  that in the future they might have some system where every time a stage gets successfully re-used everybody who's previously flown on that particular stage gets a certain amount of money back (or a discount for their next launch?) so that by the end of the stage's life - however many re-uses that may be - every user has effectively paid the same amount for their use of the stage including initial manufacturing, upkeep and refurb costs for the whole stage lifetime? This would probably get a bit complicated because of all the money changing hands for every re-use but it seems to me that it's probably the fairest way to split the launch costs assuming equal reliability and value between new and used stages etc.

Highly unlikely.

Every user is buying a service. If that service comes with more or less risk, there may be a price adjustment. But if you're assuming equal reliability between new and used, then there is no difference in risk and thus no adjustment to price.

The price adjustments will be driven by the service provided. How much mass, to what orbit, with how much lead time, what quantity of launches, what integration services, and any special services.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 05/03/2016 06:12 PM
So if a customer was an edge case, as an example let's say there was only a 40% chance of recovery, would the customer be charged the "expendable" rate, the reusable rate, or some sort of sliding scale?  Or would they be charged as expendable but receive a rebate if the stage was recovered?

I'd think that the whole rebate idea is probably the thing they are most likely to do, especially in the early stages of re-use when everything is still uncertain, and it's not known whether a stage will definitely be re-used for revenue-earning missions, dissected or tested to destruction etc.

Out of curiosity, how possible is it  that in the future they might have some system where every time a stage gets successfully re-used everybody who's previously flown on that particular stage gets a certain amount of money back (or a discount for their next launch?) so that by the end of the stage's life - however many re-uses that may be - every user has effectively paid the same amount for their use of the stage including initial manufacturing, upkeep and refurb costs for the whole stage lifetime? This would probably get a bit complicated because of all the money changing hands for every re-use but it seems to me that it's probably the fairest way to split the launch costs assuming equal reliability and value between new and used stages etc.
I'm not a fan of the rebate idea.  It shifts the risks to the customer and more importantly does not open access to launches for customers that can only afford to the reusable cost.  Imagine agreeing to get a rebate if the UPS truck doesn't get in an accident.

I think that ultimately SpaceX will price launches based on the likelihood of the rocket continuing to exist to live out whatever amortization schedule evolves.  There may be short term incentives for the first few flights on reused boosters.  But I'm fairly confident that the price will quickly move toward the "average risk" of the flight profile.  RTLS cheapest.  ASDS more expensive.  Expendable most expensive.  Maybe the contracts will have language about the conditions at the LZ (especially ASDS).  Cheaper to allow scrub for landing conditions (though that would be hard to police.)  That allows access to lower cost missions while still providing for the larger market.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: nadreck on 05/03/2016 06:35 PM


I think that ultimately SpaceX will price launches based on the likelihood of the rocket continuing to exist to live out whatever amortization schedule evolves.

And effectively, if you presume that reuse performance(recovery rate, recovery and refurb costs, etc) improves over time, then your amortization schedule gets better and better and prices go down. If the business case is based on the current amortization schedule, then in general, if the reuse efficiency is increasing, that lets SpaceX consistently get better than projected economic results on that aspect of the launch service business.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 05/04/2016 07:03 AM

Every user is buying a service. If that service comes with more or less risk, there may be a price adjustment. But if you're assuming equal reliability between new and used, then there is no difference in risk and thus no adjustment to price.

The price adjustments will be driven by the service provided. How much mass, to what orbit, with how much lead time, what quantity of launches, what integration services, and any special services.

Prices are also driven by supply and demand. As long as there are customers - Airforce and NASA - who demand a new booster there is no reason not to demand a premium. It will take a while until that goes away. A good position to be in. Those two customers will pay the full price for the boosters and service for commercial customers has the needed boosters basically for free.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 05/04/2016 04:25 PM
Not sure I agree with that. SES has been very vocal about wanting to be the first customer to fly on a previously flown stage. I think it is entirely possible that SpaceX will forego any dummy payloads and just go straight to a commercial launch. That's what they are saying they are going to do, after all.
All of the appropriate parties have been saying this, but I wonder if it is wise.

Then again, in the event of a LOM on a reused booster, it probably has the same effect on SpaceX launches regardless of payload.  That's something that hasn't been discussed enough, IMHO.  Specifically: what is the risk to SpaceX if the reused booster fails?  I don't think you can handwave it away as "but it was reused".  You probably need to stand down the fleet and investigate the failure as if it were a normal failure on a new booster.  What if the issue wasn't the reuse but something that might happen on a new flight, after all?  Figuring out that it was due to reuse might be challenging.

I'd hate to see SpaceX lose a reused booster and have a similar impact to the CRS-7 LOM.  Of course, they're going to do it, because they are bold where I am not...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 05/04/2016 04:56 PM
Not sure I agree with that. SES has been very vocal about wanting to be the first customer to fly on a previously flown stage. I think it is entirely possible that SpaceX will forego any dummy payloads and just go straight to a commercial launch. That's what they are saying they are going to do, after all.
All of the appropriate parties have been saying this, but I wonder if it is wise.

Then again, in the event of a LOM on a reused booster, it probably has the same effect on SpaceX launches regardless of payload.  That's something that hasn't been discussed enough, IMHO.  Specifically: what is the risk to SpaceX if the reused booster fails?  I don't think you can handwave it away as "but it was reused".  You probably need to stand down the fleet and investigate the failure as if it were a normal failure on a new booster.  What if the issue wasn't the reuse but something that might happen on a new flight, after all?  Figuring out that it was due to reuse might be challenging.

I'd hate to see SpaceX lose a reused booster and have a similar impact to the CRS-7 LOM.  Of course, they're going to do it, because they are bold where I am not...
SpaceX has no interest in losing a customer payload.  SpaceX has no interest in deterring the adoption of reusable boosters.  Customers have no interest in losing a payload.  I take the fact that SpaceX *and* SES are so bullish on flying a real payload as evidence that they know something we don't.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: nadreck on 05/04/2016 05:08 PM

Then again, in the event of a LOM on a reused booster, it probably has the same effect on SpaceX launches regardless of payload.  That's something that hasn't been discussed enough, IMHO.  Specifically: what is the risk to SpaceX if the reused booster fails?  I don't think you can handwave it away as "but it was reused".  You probably need to stand down the fleet and investigate the failure as if it were a normal failure on a new booster.  What if the issue wasn't the reuse but something that might happen on a new flight, after all?  Figuring out that it was due to reuse might be challenging.

I'd hate to see SpaceX lose a reused booster and have a similar impact to the CRS-7 LOM.  Of course, they're going to do it, because they are bold where I am not...

Does every airliner incident force a stand down all aircraft of that model? No, do some, yes.   

Falcon cores will be under scrutiny initially as they are reused, but that scrutiny will be based on the idea that a reused core is at higher risk than a new core. If they have an early reuse failure I don't see it grounding the new cores automatically, but I see it seriously delaying when clients get/want the opportunity to launch on a reused core. On the other hand, besides four fingers and a thumb, a later failure (say after the 5th or 6th core reflight) may draw into question the process that SpaceX uses to qualify a core (new or used) for flight as well as the design until the root cause is resolved. Finally, on the gripping hand, besides some Motie jewelry, once some cores have flown to when SpaceX judges them end of life and says so, then flight rates will be high enough and failure rates are presumably low enough, that an incident with one core (new or used) may really be investigated without necessitating an impact in the launch schedule, but the outcome (or even preliminary results) of the investigation might conceivably impact the use of a cohort of cores manufactured at the same time. One can envisage that cores available for use/reuse might be available that were manufactured before that cohort, or well after, might allow whatever the current manifest is to be serviced with cores not deemed to be at risk.

As a corollary, would the failure of a new core at some point in the further future where core reuse was common have to impact launches planned on older cores that have proven themselves?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/04/2016 10:15 PM
Highly unlikely.

Every user is buying a service. If that service comes with more or less risk, there may be a price adjustment. But if you're assuming equal reliability between new and used, then there is no difference in risk and thus no adjustment to price.

The price adjustments will be driven by the service provided. How much mass, to what orbit, with how much lead time, what quantity of launches, what integration services, and any special services.
So basically you're saying there will be no reduction in price to orbit?
Those two customers will pay the full price for the boosters and service for commercial customers has the needed boosters basically for free.
You're confusing price and cost.

SX get the use of the booster for the cost of refurb and refuel.

The customer gets it for the price  SX charge them.

That's a great deal for SX.

It may result in a good deal for their customers.

Time will tell.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 05/04/2016 10:42 PM
Falcon cores will be under scrutiny initially as they are reused, but that scrutiny will be based on the idea that a reused core is at higher risk than a new core. If they have an early reuse failure I don't see it grounding the new cores automatically, but I see it seriously delaying when clients get/want the opportunity to launch on a reused core.
While I understand the logic, I'm not sure about that.  Let's hope we don't have to find out...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 05/04/2016 11:43 PM
The price will definitely go down if used stages are nearly as reliable as new ones, just because available launches will increase. Assuming, of course, that there is a market for lower cost launches and that they still would turn a profit for the launch provider... Which are both true IMO.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 05/24/2016 11:40 PM
Tweet from parabolicarc at the SpaceTechExpo:

Quote
Parabolicarc.com
‏@spacecom
Hoffman: second booster is being refurbished, hope to relaunch it later this year.

I would assume that's the second "recovered" booster, which would be CRS-8.

And this tweet:

Quote
Edward Ellegood
‏@FLSPACErePORT
SpaceX at #SpaceCongress2016: Initial reuse of Falcon-9 limited to components: engines, landing legs, paddles, etc. Not entire booster

Putting those two together, sounds like "initial" re-use of recovered components from a different stage (OG-2?) will happen before the "second" (CRS-8?) booster is reflown.

Meanwhile, delta qual at McGregor for the JCSAT-14 booster...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 05/25/2016 12:01 AM
"Initial" - they may have already reused the fins for all we know.


The initial reuse phase won't be a particularly long one. They'll be re-flying scantily refurbished cores before this year is out - I'd go as far as claiming before this summer is out - using the northern hemisphere for reference, gents - they will have reflown - and recovered, their first reused core.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: tleski on 05/25/2016 02:09 AM
Edward Ellegood tweeted a correction to this:

FLSPACErePORT: Correction on Falcon-9 reusable components: entire stage would be reused, not individual components. Eventually the complete system would.

https://twitter.com/flspacereport/status/735253613266640897

People on SpaceX subreddit discussed that extensively and the consensus was that he must have misheard the following statement: “Today it’s the stage; in the future we want a complete system that is rapidly and completely reusable.”

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/4kvf4d/edward_ellegood_on_twitter_spacex_at/

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Navier–Stokes on 05/31/2016 03:57 AM
Space News' Peter B de Selding (@pbdes):
Quote
SpaceX: We'll be meeting w/ insurance underwriters in coming weeks to walk them through our reusable-stage certification process.
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/737469017896542208?s=09
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: docmordrid on 05/31/2016 07:25 AM
A recert process the insurers will sign off on would be huge, and another @pbdes tweet said they have 2 customers in the queue.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 05/31/2016 09:50 AM
The price will definitely go down if used stages are nearly as reliable as new ones,
logically they should be more reliable as we know now all the the parts have been through the launch cycle.
Quote
Assuming, of course, that there is a market for lower cost launches and that they still would turn a profit for the launch provider... Which are both true IMO.
The question has always been is there enough market increase for the amount that the supplier is planning to reduce their prices by? :(

Given this is still a semi reusable system with one stage thrown away we don't know if the systems costs can be be cut to a level that the prices SX want to charge will give them the market growth they need to make this work out.
Space News' Peter B de Selding (@pbdes):
Quote
SpaceX: We'll be meeting w/ insurance underwriters in coming weeks to walk them through our reusable-stage certification process.
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/737469017896542208?s=09
This is huge if SX are far enough into their development that they can show improved reliability and that commercial launches will have lower insurance costs on an F9SR.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 05/31/2016 09:58 AM
They don't need to show lower risk on reused boosters, just quantifiable and therefore insurable risk.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gospacex on 05/31/2016 10:32 AM
The question has always been is there enough market increase for the amount that the supplier is planning to reduce their prices by? :(

Given this is still a semi reusable system with one stage thrown away we don't know if the systems costs can be be cut to a level that the prices SX want to charge will give them the market growth they need to make this work out.

Current SpaceX prices have undercut EVERYONE (including even Proton).
This means that theoretically SpaceX is in position to take almost entire commercial launch for themselves. Satisfying that would require about two launches per week.
As of now, SpaceX is capable of performing about one launch per month.

IOW: SpaceX already can grow about eightfold without further cost reductions, and without needing market to grow.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: catdlr on 06/02/2016 01:18 AM
The Fate of Four Landed Falcon 9's - Space Pod 6/1/16

TMRO

Published on Jun 1, 2016
This week, SpaceMike asks, now that SpaceX has four landed Falcon 9 first stages, what are they going to do with them?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTi9xWQ6W6k?t=001

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTi9xWQ6W6k
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: saliva_sweet on 06/02/2016 09:24 AM
Even if the stages are damaged beyond repair the engines might still be possible to reuse?

Yes, but do they need more than they already have? And more are coming soon. There seems to be a better than even chance they'll get a good core from LEO RTLS as soon as july.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: eweilow on 06/02/2016 10:17 AM
Even if the stages are damaged beyond repair the engines might still be possible to reuse?

Yes, but do they need more than they already have? And more are coming soon. There seems to be a better than even chance they'll get a good core from LEO RTLS as soon as july.
If there's any chance of a lesson being learned that is what I expect them to desire. If the mission allows for a landing then there's really not a big risk of doing so (other than punching another hole in the droneship)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Hankelow8 on 06/02/2016 10:29 AM
It takes time and money to build up a production rate, including more staff.
Some time soon they will have to start making decisions on the impact of returning Falcon 9 1st stages, even more so when Falcon heavy starts launching. An interesting dilemma that's never happened before in rocket manufacturing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: kevinof on 06/02/2016 11:00 AM
They will never have enough.  Let's say they don't relaunch ANY of these stages, but instead re-use just the engines. At $2M per engine that's not only a saving in cost but also in time to manufacture. Yes they will incur some costs to re-test the engines but nowhere near the cost of a complete replacement.

Seems to me that every stage recovery is not only a chance to see how your engineering is, but also to reduce your costs in terms of your stock of "flight proven" hardware.


Even if the stages are damaged beyond repair the engines might still be possible to reuse?

Yes, but do they need more than they already have? And more are coming soon. There seems to be a better than even chance they'll get a good core from LEO RTLS as soon as july.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Hankelow8 on 06/02/2016 11:09 AM
SpaceX is a business, that means they aim to make as big a profit as they can. (this also helps to fund future R&D costs) not reevaluating your production rate if you are recovering good condition reusable stages, does not make good business sense.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: baldusi on 06/02/2016 11:35 AM
What's more, they are probably testing the recovery envelope. This includes all the phases of return. An ASDS landing has at least two burns, with may be three. In each burn you can have different strategies, angles, times and even number of engines.
And then a failure or success is not really statistically relevant. So you also have to learn how reliable and repeatable is each specific trajectory.
And then they are adding mods on top of that to improve reliability and reusability. Which you have to test again.
So they will keep doing this returns basically for all launches. Last I heard, is that going expendable required the written permission of Elon himself.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 06/02/2016 11:46 AM

...They're already piling up and starting to look ridiculous...

LOL - oh boy, how quickly we become jaded! Now SpaceX is beginning to look ridiculous for being successful at landing first stages. I could have sworn it wasn't five months ago we were gathered around here with strong claims that landing was impossible, then a few months later that barge landings were perhaps impossible, then later on that repeated landings were doubtful, then after that it was that high energy landings were _clearly_ impossible.

Now we have come full circle and need to say SpaceX is ridiculous for having so many stages and probably the best thing is to start throwing them away...

(Not a diss on you Saliva_sweet, just an observation on how quickly us humans can take things for granted)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: saliva_sweet on 06/02/2016 12:18 PM
Jaded or not it doesn't matter what people thought a year ago. The current reality is that four F9 1.2 cores have been recovered out of the five that have flown. Last I heard was they planned to fly 18 times this year. Even if they don't reach that, many more cores are coming. First reflight is hopefully, fingers crossed by the end of this year. The current practice of stuffing them into 39A HIF is not sustainable. If they have 14 cores by the end of the year it will be a problem and will look ridiculous. SpaceX knows that. Even if you're a dog that caught a bus, if you realize it's going to problem station you'd do well to get off it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: kevinof on 06/02/2016 12:23 PM
This discussion should really be taken over to the re-use thread.

PS: Why store them at the HIF? - They have an empty truck/transporter going back to CA every couple of weeks. Just collect a recovered one and bring it back with you.

Jaded or not it doesn't matter what people thought a year ago. The current reality is that four F9 1.2 cores have been recovered out of the five that have flown. Last I heard was they planned to fly 18 times this year. Even if they don't reach that, many more cores are coming. First reflight is hopefully, fingers crossed by the end of this year. The current practice of stuffing them into 39A HIF is not sustainable. If they have 14 cores by the end of the year it will be a problem and will look ridiculous. SpaceX knows that. Even if you're a dog that caught a bus, if you realize it's going to problem station you'd do well to get off it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vulture4 on 06/02/2016 01:18 PM
Depending on the degree of damage refurbishment might be possible at KSC but an additional facility would be needed. SpaceX built the HIF in just a few months and has quite a bit of space at CX-39 so they have the option. Stages needing extensive rework might have to be sent back to the factory, that would add some cost but is certainly less expensive than the special trains that are needed for the SRB segments for the Shuttle and now SLS.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/03/2016 03:16 AM
The Fate of Four Landed Falcon 9's - Space Pod 6/1/16

TMRO

Published on Jun 1, 2016
This week, SpaceMike asks, now that SpaceX has four landed Falcon 9 first stages, what are they going to do with them?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTi9xWQ6W6k?t=001

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTi9xWQ6W6k
He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that. Instead they are taking it apart and making it the baseline for their inspections since it had been subjected to the maximum expected stresses.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mader Levap on 06/04/2016 11:00 AM
He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that.
This does not say too much. You could theoretically rebuild even very damaged stage. It would just cost more (possibly more than new stage).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/04/2016 02:11 PM
He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that.
This does not say too much. You could theoretically rebuild even very damaged stage. It would just cost more (possibly more than new stage).

Also, the guy in the video doesn't actually say the stage is too damaged to fly again. He says SpaceX has "determined" that the stage *will not* fly again, not that it *cannot* fly again.

In this context, "determined" can mean "chosen" or "decided," consistent with Elon's statement that they chose not to refly it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: the_other_Doug on 06/04/2016 02:53 PM
I don't think that any of the recovered stages are too damaged to re-fly.  I think it's all about the amount of repair and refurbishment that would be required to get a given stage back to flyable status.

Of the recovered stages thus far, two of them would seem to have been fairly easily cleaned up, have some TPS and their grid fins replaced, and re-flown.  One of those, the OrbComm-2 booster, has historic significance and won't be re-flown; the other, the CRS-8 booster, ought to fly again this year.

On the other hand, the JCSAT-14 and Thaicom-8 boosters suffered more entry damage due to their hot entries.  They neither one of them appear to have suffered any major structural damage, so each could be re-flown, but likely with more repair and refurb required than for stages which encounter a more benign entry environment.

Elon himself mentioned two different levels of "re-flyable" in the presser after CRS-8.  He said there should be a minor refurb needed to get a stage ready to re-fly within a few months, but after a number of flights (I think he mentioned 100, but I'd believe 10 a lot more), a given stage may need more significant repair and refurb to make it flyable again.

I think we're seeing that, in its current configuration, the Falcon 9 stage one can re-fly after a cooler entry with minimal refurb, but hot entries are looking like they will need a more thorough (and expensive, and time-consuming) repair and refurb, more like Elon's many-flights refurb cycle.

The next major milestone, I think, will be iterations of heat-proofing the engine compartment to survive hot entries without requiring extensive refurb to refly the stage.  It wouldn't surprise me if they get to that point after only one or two more flights.  I'm also pretty certain that the pinstriped engines are testing various TPS materials that will be used in the future on the engine bells and other locations in the engine compartment.

So, at least that's my take on it.  Nothing will ever be labeled as non-flyable by SpaceX as long as a solid repair and refurb could get it back into flying shape, so even for stages they declare will not fly again (i.e., will be life-leaders in testing), don't expect them to be labeled non-flyable.  I mean, heck, you could make a case that the octaweb and engines from the Jason-3 launch could be reflown -- that would just be a major refurb, where new tanks would be added... ;)

(And yes, before everyone shouts me down, I am aware that Jason-3 was the last of the old v1.1 Falcon 9's  and would never have been reflown in any event -- I'm just using it to make the point that, as long as major hardware is recovered and can be refurbished/re-used, the "stage", to some degree, will be potentially re-flyable.)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rst on 06/04/2016 05:54 PM
All Elon has actually said is that the more beat-up returned stages are the obvious ones to use for requalification testing, and also that they could still refly.

We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections. For another, looks can be deceiving. It looked to some people like SES-9 had proven that the three-engine landing burn from GTO missions didn't work. The next time they tried it, it did.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/04/2016 07:39 PM
All Elon has actually said is that the more beat-up returned stages are the obvious ones to use for requalification testing, and also that they could still refly.

We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections. For another, looks can be deceiving. It looked to some people like SES-9 had proven that the three-engine landing burn from GTO missions didn't work. The next time they tried it, it did.
Exactly! People are too quick to jump to conclusions.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rcoppola on 06/04/2016 08:09 PM
And not to mention, as we all know but begs repeating, as the cores are retuned, inspected and tested, they'll be cycling in upgrades every step of the way. More structure here, less there, leg redesign here and a fin tweak there, more ablative here, less there, new algorithms, updated valves, etc., etc..

It's sometime easy to forget that all of this is still a development program. So no matter what anyone says WRT the current crop of returned cores, by early 2017 they'll be different still upon return and evaluation.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/04/2016 08:17 PM
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rcoppola on 06/04/2016 08:20 PM
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.
Well, yeh, that's my point. In fact they say that just about every time.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 06/05/2016 01:51 PM
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.

There have been four successful landings of an orbital rocket in the history of rocketry -- three at the time of that launch.  They probably have a bit more time to use that phraseology, especially as they are exploring the return profile parameter space.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: MP99 on 06/05/2016 04:31 PM


We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections.

I think it's safe to say that F9 v1.1 was designed from the ground up to be recovered, and they have goals for every relevant component for reuse, refurbishment, or discard with replacement.

Some will need to be redesigned to meet those goals. Hopefully, nothing critical will be beyond redesigning.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Avron on 06/05/2016 04:58 PM
in any of Elons public talks, tweets or statements, has he used the term "Refurbish'.

Yes once in term of a refurbished Dnepr missile
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/05/2016 05:18 PM
He also talks about rapid and complete reuse of the rocket and has said over and over again that they need to achieve no less than that.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 06/05/2016 07:45 PM
How about instead of these stages needing refurbishment it is merely a case that the stages are more valuable to just take apart and learn from. I'm sure there are a ton of rocket engineers that would just love to get there hands on a used stage to refine their calculations of reliability and such. They don't have a lot of demand for used stages right now.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/05/2016 08:31 PM
How about instead of these stages needing refurbishment it is merely a case that the stages are more valuable to just take apart and learn from. I'm sure there are a ton of rocket engineers that would just love to get there hands on a used stage to refine their calculations of reliability and such. They don't have a lot of demand for used stages right now.
Well of course and that is what they essentially said. They were taking them apart instead of reflying them because they want to analyze them and learn from what they find.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OpelGT on 06/06/2016 12:11 AM
Is there room for another Falcon-9 S1 booster in the hangar or has SpaceX taken one back to CA/TX?

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CiiE3O_UgAA0m_9.jpg)

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CgcvT0CUUAAee00.jpg)

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cjjn6mhVEAAFZmP.jpg)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 06/06/2016 09:46 AM
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.

There have been four successful landings of an orbital rocket in the history of rocketry -- three at the time of that launch.  They probably have a bit more time to use that phraseology, especially as they are exploring the return profile parameter space.

Four successful landings of an orbital rocket BOOSTER. The 1st stage does not go into orbit.

The Shuttle was an orbital rocket. That's landed loads of times.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CorvusCorax on 06/06/2016 10:10 AM

Four successful landings of an orbital rocket BOOSTER. The 1st stage does not go into orbit.

Well, if you wanna be precise, so where the Shuttle SRB's - although they did more of a "controlled splashdown" than a "landing".

The Shuttle was an orbital rocket. That's landed loads of times.
Although without it's main fuel tank.

I think you are right, although the Shuttle is hardly comparable to the Falcon9 as far as how they approached the problem, it had a higher rate of reuse than the current iteration of the Falcon 9 (with merlin upper stage) will ever have.

Even financially, I think the price of the Shuttle fuel tank (that was never recovered) compared to the price of the complete launch vehicle was smaller than the price of the Falcon9 second stage (which will for not be recovered in its current form) compared to the price of the whole F9 rocket.

However if you look at absolute prices, the whole Falcon 9 launch vehicle costs just roughly as much as a single space shuttle external tank did, so in the "millions expended per kg payload/flight" metrics the Falcon9 wins even if its flown fully expendable.

All this "comparison" and "who did it first" is a can of worms, because you always end up comparing peaches with apples.

If you classify the Falcon9 1st stage as merely a suborbital booster, then even Blue Origin landed one before they did - yet its hardly comparable as certain diagrams have aptly visualized.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/06/2016 03:15 PM
All this "comparison" and "who did it first" is a can of worms, because you always end up comparing peaches with apples.

If you classify the Falcon9 1st stage as merely a suborbital booster, then even Blue Origin landed one before they did - yet its hardly comparable as certain diagrams have aptly visualized.
Big can of worms, but relevant discussion in the reuse thread...
The Shuttle Orbiter landed many times, but was neither a orbital rocket (i.e. complete launch vehicle) nor an orbital class booster. It was a reentry vehicle with orbital engines. The SRBs were orbital class boosters but they were never landed (or barged), they splashed. Blue Origin hasn't flown a orbital class booster, nevermind landed one.

To my knowledge, SpaceX is the first to land (or barge) a heavy lift orbital class booster. It's not interesting because of who was the first to do it, but because it is indeed a novel accomplishment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 06/06/2016 03:36 PM

Big can of worms, but relevant discussion in the reuse thread...
The Shuttle Orbiter landed many times, but was neither a orbital rocket (i.e. complete launch vehicle) nor an orbital class booster. It was a reentry vehicle with orbital engines. The SRBs were orbital class boosters but they were never landed (or barged), they splashed. Blue Origin hasn't flown a orbital class booster, nevermind landed one.

To my knowledge, SpaceX is the first to land (or barge) a heavy lift orbital class booster. It's not interesting because of who was the first to do it, but because it is indeed a novel accomplishment.


It doesn't matter if landed or splashed or orbital or suborbital.

Only SRB's and Blue Origin have reused their hardware.  Landed stages that aren't reused are a novel but meaningless accomplishment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2016 03:43 PM
Only SRB's and Blue Origin have reused their hardware.  Landed stages that aren't reused are a novel but meaningless accomplishment.
Right...

SpaceX can
....launch Falcon 1 but they'll never scale it up.
....launch a Dragon but they'll never get it to dock with ISS
....launch a Dragon but payload fairings are hard.
....launch stuff but they never will be able to beat the incumbents on price
....launch stuff for less but they MUST be losing money
....launch for NASA and commercial but never DOD
....never launch to GTO orbits, F9 is a LEO launcher only.
....never launch two satellites at once
....never land a booster
....never land a booster on an ASDS
....never land a HIGH ENERGY booster on an ASDS

did I miss any?

Betting that they won't crack reuse eventually and make it cost effective? Fools bet.  (If you want to bet that way and are serious, contact me, I'll cover the other side of it)

After they reuse one, I can just hear it now
....never reuse one more than once, that was a fluke....
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/06/2016 04:00 PM
It doesn't matter if landed or splashed or orbital or suborbital.

Only SRB's and Blue Origin have reused their hardware.  Landed stages that aren't reused are a novel but meaningless accomplishment.

That entirely depends on your definition of "matter". In the context of lowering cost to orbit and advancing interplanetary exploration, suborbital reusable systems are about as relevant and novel as a Boeing 737. They are still interesting in their own right.

And splashing increases the effort required for reuse by something like an order of magnitude compared to a soft landing, so it's also definitely relevant in this context. The SRBs reflew some components, but skipping refurb was never even on the table since they couldn't be refueled even if they were landed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 06/06/2016 04:02 PM

Big can of worms, but relevant discussion in the reuse thread...
The Shuttle Orbiter landed many times, but was neither a orbital rocket (i.e. complete launch vehicle) nor an orbital class booster. It was a reentry vehicle with orbital engines. The SRBs were orbital class boosters but they were never landed (or barged), they splashed. Blue Origin hasn't flown a orbital class booster, nevermind landed one.

To my knowledge, SpaceX is the first to land (or barge) a heavy lift orbital class booster. It's not interesting because of who was the first to do it, but because it is indeed a novel accomplishment.


It doesn't matter if landed or splashed or orbital or suborbital.

Only SRB's and Blue Origin have reused their hardware.  Landed stages that aren't reused are a novel but meaningless accomplishment.

Absolute rubbish.

For one massive reason. In order to use a stage again, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO LAND IT FIRST. Therefor being able to land a stage IS NOT MEANINGLESS, whether or not a particular stage is in fact reused.

Not sure how many times you need to be told this.



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 06/06/2016 04:16 PM
Absolute rubbish.

For one massive reason. In order to use a stage again, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO LAND IT FIRST. Therefor being able to land a stage IS NOT MEANINGLESS, whether or not a particular stage is in fact reused.

Not sure how many times you need to be told this.


Wrong. Again, landing a stage doesn't mean it can be reused.  I don't know how many times you need to be told this.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 06/06/2016 04:18 PM

SpaceX can
....launch Falcon 1 but they'll never scale it up.
....launch a Dragon but they'll never get it to dock with ISS
....launch a Dragon but payload fairings are hard.
....launch stuff but they never will be able to beat the incumbents on price
....launch stuff for less but they MUST be losing money
....launch for NASA and commercial but never DOD
....never launch to GTO orbits, F9 is a LEO launcher only.
....never launch two satellites at once
....never land a booster
....never land a booster on an ASDS
....never land a HIGH ENERGY booster on an ASDS

did I miss any?


You tell me.  Not my list or anything I said.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2016 04:23 PM
Every one of the things on my list was said by someone at NSF.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/06/2016 04:48 PM
Absolute rubbish.

For one massive reason. In order to use a stage again, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO LAND IT FIRST. Therefor being able to land a stage IS NOT MEANINGLESS, whether or not a particular stage is in fact reused.

Not sure how many times you need to be told this.


Wrong. Again, landing a stage doesn't mean it can be reused.  I don't know how many times you need to be told this.

Anything can be reused with enough effort. Whether it's economical to expend that effort is a different question... one that's not yet been answered for Falcon. Successfully landing is definitely on the critical path though, and the landings will generate interest at least until that question is answered.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/06/2016 05:32 PM
Absolute rubbish.

For one massive reason. In order to use a stage again, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO LAND IT FIRST. Therefor being able to land a stage IS NOT MEANINGLESS, whether or not a particular stage is in fact reused.

Not sure how many times you need to be told this.


Wrong. Again, landing a stage doesn't mean it can be reused.  I don't know how many times you need to be told this.

Anything can be reused with enough effort. Whether it's economical to expend that effort is a different question... one that's not yet been answered for Falcon. Successfully landing is definitely on the critical path though, and the landings will generate interest at least until that question is answered.

Interesting to see the reuse issue veer from "it's not possible" to "it's probably not financially worth it."

The more that reuse is proven, the more the goal posts are moved towards almost-unanswerable questions. Like, how would it be possible for outsiders to know for sure whether the financial cost of reuse is much lower than making a new stage? At some point, you need to just trust that those who are doing it are doing it for a real reason. But it's ALWAYS possible to claim, "well, it's not REALLY reuse that is lowering their costs..."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2016 05:41 PM
Interesting to see the reuse issue veer from "it's not possible" to "it's probably not financially worth it."

The more that reuse is proven, the more the goal posts are moved towards almost-unanswerable questions. Like, how would it be possible for outsiders to know for sure whether the financial cost of reuse is much lower than making a new stage? At some point, you need to just trust that those who are doing it are doing it for a real reason. But it's ALWAYS possible to claim, "well, it's not REALLY reuse that is lowering their costs..."

Exactly!!  and that's what I was driving at with my pseudolist of things people claimed SpaceX can't do...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/06/2016 07:24 PM
Right...

SpaceX can
....launch Falcon 1 but they'll never scale it up.
....launch a Dragon but they'll never get it to dock with ISS
....launch a Dragon but payload fairings are hard.
....launch stuff but they never will be able to beat the incumbents on price
....launch stuff for less but they MUST be losing money
....launch for NASA and commercial but never DOD
....never launch to GTO orbits, F9 is a LEO launcher only.
....never launch two satellites at once
....never land a booster
....never land a booster on an ASDS
....never land a HIGH ENERGY booster on an ASDS

did I miss any?
Yes.
...land the F9 upper stage for reuse.

Quote
Betting that they won't crack reuse eventually and make it cost effective? Fools bet.  (If you want to bet that way and are serious, contact me, I'll cover the other side of it)
Actually that's two bets. Crack reuse (do you mean full reuse or just the first stage?) and cost effective reuse?
Quote
After they reuse one, I can just hear it now
....never reuse one more than once, that was a fluke....
And that would be a third bet.
Wrong. Again, landing a stage doesn't mean it can be reused. 
True. It's not a sufficient requirement. It is however a necessary requirement, and it does mean SX have actual hardware that has been through the full launch/separation//land cycle and now know what damage that cycle inflicts on the the systems and structures of the stage.

First stage recovery and reuse was talked about and somewhat studied throughout the 1960's and 70'. Various mfgs said they could do it (if NASA/DoD/The Tooth Fairy paid them enough) but none of them did.   :(

Given that stage (ideally whole vehicle) reuse has been a goal of SX since day 1 it seems a safe bet that that goal has been a high level driver for all design decisions.

Assuming SX is staffed by competent engineers (which seems plausible given what they have achieved) that just leaves 2 paths for reuse to fail.

a The known unknowns IE A known but bigger than expected load. IOW the dispersion of minimum to maximum values was too narrow.

b) Some totally unknown force (or unexpected interaction  of forces).

In both cases the issue would be that the stage would have to get too heavy to resist the loads.

Both are possible, but it seems very unlikely you could see unknown forces so big they would prevent reuse.

OTOH they might prevent an economic number of reuses.

Time will tell, and wheather or not the price they offer triggers enough of a market increase to offset it.
Interesting to see the reuse issue veer from "it's not possible" to "it's probably not financially worth it."

The more that reuse is proven, the more the goal posts are moved towards almost-unanswerable questions. Like, how would it be possible for outsiders to know for sure whether the financial cost of reuse is much lower than making a new stage? At some point, you need to just trust that those who are doing it are doing it for a real reason. But it's ALWAYS possible to claim, "well, it's not REALLY reuse that is lowering their costs..."
Indeed. Funny how that works.

And it doesn't just apply to SX
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: matthewkantar on 06/06/2016 07:37 PM
Meaningless? That is a laughable notion.

Matthew
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2016 08:00 PM
... snip ...

One bet:  (not 2, not 3) that SpaceX will get first stage reuse working well enough, and it will be cost effective enough, to realise at least some price reduction.

And I'll take the "yes they will" side from anyone, unless in my sole discretion they are likely to raise a lot of pettifogging objections to avoid admitting I won, when the time comes...  I think that rules you out, though.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gospacex on 06/06/2016 08:27 PM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2016 08:41 PM
Jim has for quite some time maintained that recovery was not a very big deal, and that the real historical event would be reuse of a recovered stage.  He has said he will be right there cheering with everyone else if and when that happens.  Don't see why we need to keep covering this well-trod ground.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/06/2016 09:39 PM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.
Where structural damage is concerned looks can be very misleading.   :(

NASA found that a composite overwrapped pressure vessel could lose 30% of its strength with no visible damage.

Metals are better in this regard but that does not make them immune to damage
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 06/06/2016 10:07 PM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.

No. An unbiased engineer with an understanding of metallurgy and aerospace structural design would say "Show me the post-flight material sample tests, the visual and NDE examinations of the structures, and the financial reports demonstrating the material and labor costs for refurbishment necessary arising from the above, plus any TPS removal and reapplication."


EDIT: Damn autocorrect; grammar.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/06/2016 10:24 PM
Sounds like such an examination itself would demand a high cost to carry out. You're talking about information necessary to /certify/ a stage, versus the original poster talking about someone making a judgement call based on the available evidence.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/06/2016 11:46 PM
Sounds like such an examination itself would demand a high cost to carry out. You're talking about information necessary to /certify/ a stage, versus the original poster talking about someone making a judgement call based on the available evidence.
My guess is that they are doing just that with flight number 24. It is the one that should have experienced the highest stresses of all the stages they had recovered to that point. So it makes sense for them to take that one apart and see how materials got affected by the reentry and landing. Some of that testing will probably be destructive, which is why they are not flying it again (not because it is too damaged to fly again).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/07/2016 12:17 AM
Sounds like such an examination itself would demand a high cost to carry out. You're talking about information necessary to /certify/ a stage, versus the original poster talking about someone making a judgement call based on the available evidence.
My guess is that they are doing just that with flight number 24. It is the one that should have experienced the highest stresses of all the stages they had recovered to that point. So it makes sense for them to take that one apart and see how materials got affected by the reentry and landing. Some of that testing will probably be destructive, which is why they are not flying it again (not because it is too damaged to fly again).
You missed my point. The original poster (which you trimmed) was saying what an engineer would say if they had to make a judgement call based on given information whether the stage could or couldn't be reflown. Obviously you're going to do more actual analysis, but that's besides the point.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Req on 06/07/2016 01:28 AM
Mostly-shiny stage on the right.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rberry on 06/07/2016 01:37 AM
Mostly-shiny CRS-8 stage.

Room for one more at the Inn! :)

SpaceX ‏@SpaceX  4m4 minutes ago
Fantastic four

Nice to see one all shined back up! CRS-8?
Looks like CRS-8 to me.

If so, she's got her grid fin mounts again and her interstage has had its decals touched up.

Edit: The soot pattern on the leftmost booster seems consistent with ORBCOMM-2, though it looks as if she has been rotated since the last photo.


Actually I think it is OG-2. Based on images of JCSAT-14 entering hanger, CRS-8 should be on the left of the new picture (unless they have done some rearranging).

In the image below, the stage with no engines attached is CRS-8, and the stage with a few engines attached is OG-2. The new image is taken facing the opposite direction, so CRS-8 should be on the left of the new image. The shiny one on the right of the new image should be OG-2 (Orbcomm).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rberry on 06/07/2016 03:08 AM
I think you're right. I reversed the core designations in my original analysis. With correct positioning, the shiny one would be OG-2.
It doesn't seem to make sense to repaint the display unit. Maybe they have rearranged the units and painted CRS-8?

I think Chris showed that it was not painted, just cleaned. Also, why clean/repaint a stage that is just going to get dirty again on reuse?

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 06/07/2016 03:31 AM
It definitely looks cleaned rather than re-painted. If you look closer you can tell that the surface has some less reflective areas suggesting a cleaning.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: dorkmo on 06/07/2016 04:20 AM
looks like the inside surface of the interstage of the cleaned one is black while the others seem to be white.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 06/07/2016 04:57 AM
looks like the inside surface of the interstage of the cleaned one is black while the others seem to be white.

The others show light and shadow where that one just shows black. It looks like a black textile cover. Could be to protect newly installed or cleaned components, or it could be to cover up something that we weren't supposed to see.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 06/07/2016 06:12 AM
It definitely looks cleaned rather than re-painted. If you look closer you can tell that the surface has some less reflective areas suggesting a cleaning.

I wonder how many spray bottles of ammonia that took?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: docmordrid on 06/07/2016 06:45 AM
Maybe just a sandblaster with cork or dry ice media.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 06/07/2016 07:59 AM
Maybe just a sandblaster with cork or dry ice media.

Just needs Jim and his jetwash. It's only soot.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: douglas100 on 06/07/2016 08:06 AM
I was half convinced after the Thaicom entry video that some of it was charring. Glad it isn't.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rocx on 06/07/2016 08:26 AM
I think it's a shame to wash the booster that they are going to put on their front lawn. To me the charring pattern of a landed F9 first stage is what makes it so distinctive.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jarnis on 06/07/2016 09:40 AM
looks like the inside surface of the interstage of the cleaned one is black while the others seem to be white.

The others show light and shadow where that one just shows black. It looks like a black textile cover. Could be to protect newly installed or cleaned components, or it could be to cover up something that we weren't supposed to see.

My guess; some subtle photoshopping to cover up ITAR or "secret sauce"-relevant bits.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/07/2016 11:37 AM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.

No. An unbiased engineer with an understanding of metallurgy and aerospace structural design would say "Show me the post-flight material sample tests, the visual and NDE examinations of the structures, and the financial reports demonstrating the material and labor costs for refurbishment necessary arising from the above, plus any TPS removal and reapplication."


EDIT: Damn autocorrect; grammar.
That's fine for a first-of-its-kind-ever flight.

But to make reuse routine you have to move away from this PoV.  Yes the LV flight regime is more severe than any aircraft (except perhaps some X15 flights).

That level of T&E is appropriate for setting a baseline and making go/no go choices for stage reuse.

It should not and cannot be the test level for standard reflights. The risk needs to be "designed out" either by structural changes or additional sensors to pick up a  red line situation.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 06/07/2016 11:54 AM
Of course. But there has as yet been no reflight. Therefore no unbiased engineer can possibly say the recovered stages we have seen to date will need only minor refurbishment. None of us here have access to the kind of detailed data SpaceX requires to make the determination about the degree of repair or refurbishment necessary after one flight, let alone what might be necessary after two, five, ten ... Anyone who thinks otherwise is willfully deluding himself.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/07/2016 01:45 PM
Of course. But there has as yet been no reflight. Therefore no unbiased engineer can possibly say the recovered stages we have seen to date will need only minor refurbishment. None of us here have access to the kind of detailed data SpaceX requires to make the determination about the degree of repair or refurbishment necessary after one flight, let alone what might be necessary after two, five, ten ... Anyone who thinks otherwise is willfully deluding himself.

There's no evidence in the photos that the stages need significant refurbishment. There's also no evidence that they don't need significant refurbishment. It's just a picture. To prove that the design allows only minimal refurbishment requires flying, testing, re-flying, re-testing, etc. until the life-cycle of the stage is fully characterized at a component level.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Doesitfloat on 06/07/2016 02:17 PM
Just my opinion.
How dare Spacex skip the test flight of a re-used booster. They've gone straight to selling them.
Then again they did no test flight of Falcon 9 1.1 or Falcon Full Thrust.
What would a test flight show on a reused booster- it already flew once.
Now they've gone and sold one maybe two flights on reused boosters,  now we don't get to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mheney on 06/07/2016 04:05 PM
Just my opinion.
How dare Spacex skip the test flight of a re-used booster. They've gone straight to selling them.
Then again they did no test flight of Falcon 9 1.1 or Falcon Full Thrust.
What would a test flight show on a reused booster- it already flew once.
Now they've gone and sold one maybe two flights on reused boosters,  now we don't get to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters.

I think "how dare they" is a bit strong.  There's an important point to be consider - you can't sell if no one is willing to buy.  We don't have to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters - we know it as a cold, hard fact.

It's all about risk/reward.  And if the customer is willing to take the risk - and, more importantly, their insurance companies are willing to underwrite the risk - then why shouldn't SpaceX fly with a live payload?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 06/07/2016 04:13 PM
Of course. But there has as yet been no reflight. Therefore no unbiased engineer can possibly say the recovered stages we have seen to date will need only minor refurbishment. None of us here have access to the kind of detailed data SpaceX requires to make the determination about the degree of repair or refurbishment necessary after one flight, let alone what might be necessary after two, five, ten ... Anyone who thinks otherwise is willfully deluding himself.

The picture of the stage landing in a controlled manner (tanks pressurized, engines running, electronics obviously controlling the ASDS targeting, etc.) is quite revealing to an unbiased engineer, but far from the full picture.  A sooty stage standing on a barge, not so much.

And then there is this factiod which also should be taken into account by our generic 'unbiased engineer' (i.e., was the rocket designed to be reused by a competent engineer?):
Quote
Fuel tanks in the reusable rockets are designed to withstand thousands of uses, while the engines can be reused more than 100 times by repairing them. SpaceX will aim to reuse rockets 10 times for the time being, said Shotwell.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/SpaceX-to-launch-reused-rockets-by-year-end
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 06/07/2016 04:34 PM
Just my opinion.
How dare Spacex skip the test flight of a re-used booster. They've gone straight to selling them.
Then again they did no test flight of Falcon 9 1.1 or Falcon Full Thrust.
What would a test flight show on a reused booster- it already flew once.
Now they've gone and sold one maybe two flights on reused boosters,  now we don't get to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters.

I think "how dare they" is a bit strong.  There's an important point to be consider - you can't sell if no one is willing to buy.  We don't have to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters - we know it as a cold, hard fact.

It's all about risk/reward.  And if the customer is willing to take the risk - and, more importantly, their insurance companies are willing to underwrite the risk - then why shouldn't SpaceX fly with a live payload?

Presumably the customer(s) are eager because:
A) they'll get a significant discount for being the first ones to fly on a used booster
and
B) they trust SpaceX
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 06/07/2016 09:00 PM
Presumably the customer(s) are eager because:
A) they'll get a significant discount for being the first ones to fly on a used booster
and
B) they trust SpaceX

And C) Bragging rights. Or put another way: Demonstrating that they are a forward looking company in touch with the cutting edge of technology!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 06/07/2016 11:02 PM
Just my opinion.
How dare Spacex skip the test flight of a re-used booster. They've gone straight to selling them.  ...

I think "how dare they" is a bit strong.  There's an important point to be consider - you can't sell if no one is willing to buy.  We don't have to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters - we know it as a cold, hard fact.
...
Presumably the customer(s) are eager because:
A) they'll get a significant discount for being the first ones to fly on a used booster
and
B) they trust SpaceX
I think people seriously underestimate "B".  SpaceX has no interest in losing a customer's payload.  Also, the customer will have a lot of insight into why SpaceX believes it can safely refly the booster and you can be sure the contract will include the need to sign off on the launch.

...
And C) Bragging rights. Or put another way: Demonstrating that they are a forward looking company in touch with the cutting edge of technology!

And D) Helping to reduce future launch costs.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 06/07/2016 11:23 PM
IMHO SX regards relaunch as launch. That within days/weeks of receiving booster, it can be comfortably chosen for reflight.

So, they got recovered stages. And more. Weeks of them. They are not comfortable with reflight.

This suggests significant work underway. Note also that 39A could have had a stage doing fit checks, cold flows, etc while they work the issues. No hint of that. That tells you that Dragon 2  and FH aren't pressing issues for them, to advance 39A.

Also, there's no additional static fires for reflight. They need more of something before that happens. Suggest engine/engine section issues that need to be worked/tested/qualified to advance "comfort".

It may be that refurbishment is not the issue, but design/operation of a non refurbished vehicle that doesn't violate "comfort" issues is the logjam for 39A/reflight/FH/Dragon 2.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: docmordrid on 06/07/2016 11:38 PM
Just my opinion.
How dare Spacex skip the test flight of a re-used booster. They've gone straight to selling them.
>
now we don't get to speculate if customers will be interested in used boosters.[/n]

Sounds like they are interested. SES has been downright campaigning to get the first ride on a reused booster, and it seems there's a second taker. Methinks at the right price the trickle becomes much more than that.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: shooter6947 on 06/08/2016 12:00 AM
I think it's a shame to wash the booster that they are going to put on their front lawn. To me the charring pattern of a landed F9 first stage is what makes it so distinctive.

Makes me wonder . . .  maybe since they've got so many cores, and OG2 is in perhaps the best shape, might make more sense to refly the OG2 core and display Thaicom instead.  Certainly doesn't make much sense that they went and painted in the chips on OG2 if that's still the display model.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 06/08/2016 12:18 AM
IMHO SX regards relaunch as launch. That within days/weeks of receiving booster, it can be comfortably chosen for reflight.

So, they got recovered stages. And more. Weeks of them. They are not comfortable with reflight.

This suggests significant work underway. Note also that 39A could have had a stage doing fit checks, cold flows, etc while they work the issues. No hint of that. That tells you that Dragon 2  and FH aren't pressing issues for them, to advance 39A.

Also, there's no additional static fires for reflight. They need more of something before that happens. Suggest engine/engine section issues that need to be worked/tested/qualified to advance "comfort".

It may be that refurbishment is not the issue, but design/operation of a non refurbished vehicle that doesn't violate "comfort" issues is the logjam for 39A/reflight/FH/Dragon 2.
Or, the engines that have they have obviously removed from the rockets have been tested in McGregor without the stage attached already and we just don't know it. And I am pretty sure that they are waiting to see the test results for their "baseline" booster from flight 24. I presume that they are being thorough.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 06/08/2016 05:28 AM
It may be that refurbishment is not the issue, but design/operation of a non refurbished vehicle that doesn't violate "comfort" issues is the logjam for 39A/reflight/FH/Dragon 2.

Sounds right to me. There are certainly some technical issues to work too. But what they need is a workflow and a certification flow, that satisfies insurance companies.

And most of all it needs to satisfy Elon Musk. He is not going to establish reflight as the low cost alternative. Reflight absolutely needs to be at least as reliable as flying a new core.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 02:49 PM
Quote
He is not going to establish reflight as the low cost alternative.

If reflight won't be a lower-cost alternative to flying on a new stage, why would any customer choose that option, and why would SpaceX bother with this whole recovery effort? Or am I totally missing your point?

Quote
Reflight absolutely needs to be at least as reliable as flying a new core.

The problem with that statement is that an equal level of reliability can't be *demonstrated* until successful reflight has been done the same number of times as new F9 launches, so you're talking 25+ successful reflights, which will take years. So until then, it's a matter of judgment on the part of insurance companies and customers as to the risk level, and customers are going to want that price cut incentive to take the perceived risk, given the lack of reflight experience, at least until a substantial reflight history is built up.

Insurers are probably also going to want higher premiums until that history is built up, and a price cut from SpaceX needs to more than offset the higher premium.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RDoc on 06/08/2016 03:08 PM
I think guckyfan's point, which I totally agree with, is that while reuse is going to lower cost, it's also actually going to improve reliability. The notion that the first flight is the reliable, expensive one, and subsequent flights are risky, second class ones that only are attractive because of cost, isn't SpaceX's.

The second and subsequent flights of aircraft aren't riskier than the maiden flight.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 03:12 PM
I think guckyfan's point, which I totally agree with, is that while reuse is going to lower cost, it's also actually going to improve reliability. The notion that the first flight is the reliable, expensive one, and subsequent flights are risky, second class ones that only are attractive because of cost, isn't SpaceX's.

The second and subsequent flights of aircraft aren't riskier than the maiden flight.

In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/08/2016 03:46 PM
SpaceX is saying not only are reflights going to cost less, they are also going to be more reliable. It's not just a decision on cost. Or just on reliability.

Competitors are trying to position SpaceX as "well maybe they cost less but they are also less reliable" which I think SpaceX is rejecting
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 03:58 PM
SpaceX is saying not only are reflights going to cost less, they are also going to be more reliable.

That is an intriguing possibility, but for the next few years until a proven flight history is built up, relative reliability is in the eyes of the beholders, ie insurance companies and customers.

I expect in the near term, lacking actual flight history, insurance companies may charge slightly higher premiums that will be more than offset by price reductions from SpaceX. So lack of flight history may not be an obstacle in the near term, but until flight history is built up, relative relability will continue to be a matter of engineering/actuarial judgment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 06/08/2016 04:42 PM
So, there were those stripes on the engine bell for the Thaicom flight.  Have we seen a post-flight picture of that same engine?  Any conclusions on what it was all about?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 06/08/2016 04:48 PM
So, there were those stripes on the engine bell for the Thaicom flight.  Have we seen a post-flight picture of that same engine?
IIRC there were images that showed that bell post-flight.  Unfortunately I don't have a link for you.
Quote
Any conclusions on what it was all about?
Chris B already has definitively stated that it is a TPS experiment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/08/2016 04:53 PM
So, there were those stripes on the engine bell for the Thaicom flight.  Have we seen a post-flight picture of that same engine?
IIRC there were images that showed that bell post-flight.  Unfortunately I don't have a link for you.
Quote
Any conclusions on what it was all about?
Chris B already has definitively stated that it is a TPS experiment.

I think this is the striped one:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1543815#msg1543815
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 06/08/2016 06:20 PM
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.

Think of it like this.  SpaceX is selling an orbited payload.  The value of that from the paying customer's perspective doesn't change with the cost of the method.  SpaceX will price at the best price they can get from the market unless they are doing something for charitable reasons.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 06:29 PM
Quote
I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price. 

I'm not convinced that's the case. Musk has been adamant about driving down the cost of space access and has talked a lot about ultimately getting to the point where the marginal cost of reuse (theoretically) is only the cost of refuelling and launching. I may be wrong but he seems genuinely more interested in reducing the cost of space access for customers than in maximizing profit.

And even if they reduce the cost of reflight by, say, $20M, but pass only half of that savings on to the customer, that's still win-win.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Wolfram66 on 06/08/2016 06:35 PM
So, there were those stripes on the engine bell for the Thaicom flight.  Have we seen a post-flight picture of that same engine?
IIRC there were images that showed that bell post-flight.  Unfortunately I don't have a link for you.
Quote
Any conclusions on what it was all about?
Chris B already has definitively stated that it is a TPS experiment.

I think this is the striped one:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1543815#msg1543815

This is the correct link to the "Beetlejuice Engine" http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1544453#msg1544453 and the results of the TPS experiment
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/08/2016 06:52 PM
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: malu5531 on 06/08/2016 06:52 PM
One of the stages (to the right) has been washed.

They've started refurbishing the stage that will be reflown later this year?

Too bad for the post flight patina though. :/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 06/08/2016 06:53 PM
Quote
I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price. 

I'm not convinced that's the case. Musk has been adamant about driving down the cost of space access and has talked a lot about ultimately getting to the point where the marginal cost of reuse (theoretically) is only the cost of refuelling and launching. I may be wrong but he seems genuinely more interested in reducing the cost of space access for customers than in maximizing profit.

And even if they reduce the cost of reflight by, say, $20M, but pass only half of that savings on to the customer, that's still win-win.
I'll chime in for a sec to concur. As was said by Elon a few years back that his goal was full re-usability (what I call "gas n' go") with his airliner model. He also went further to say that if he did't get to that point he would fold up his tent, which raised my brows thus-sly ???
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/08/2016 06:59 PM
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.
False. If new companies enter the market and are able to reduce their costs, there is naturally more competition (because more players), and so prices come down.

This can happen even without costs coming down, but pretty soon you'll have companies going bankrupt and exiting. So in reality, yes, reducing costs will allow prices to be reduced in a competitive market.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 06/08/2016 07:38 PM
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.
False. If new companies enter the market and are able to reduce their costs, there is naturally more competition (because more players), and so prices come down.

This can happen even without costs coming down, but pretty soon you'll have companies going bankrupt and exiting. So in reality, yes, reducing costs will allow prices to be reduced in a competitive market.

In other words:

False.  But true.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/08/2016 08:58 PM
In other words, he meant "reflight is not going to be the low  *reliability* alternative?" Then I wish he'd said "reliability" instead of "cost."  ;)

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(

You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.

This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.
False. If new companies enter the market and are able to reduce their costs, there is naturally more competition (because more players), and so prices come down.

This can happen even without costs coming down, but pretty soon you'll have companies going bankrupt and exiting. So in reality, yes, reducing costs will allow prices to be reduced in a competitive market.

In other words:

False.  But true.
No. "This will therefor (sic) make no change to the size of the existing market." is false. SpaceX lowering costs will allow them to compete much better (force others to respond in kind), thus lowering prices and increasing the size of the existing market (which is growing in any case).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 09:12 PM
Let's not lose sight of the original question, which was simply whether or not SpaceX will reduce prices for reflights of F9 stages.

Whether they do or don't seems to me to be driven more by Musk's philosophy than market forces. He wants to reduce the cost of space access, so I expect they'll pass the savings along to customers. Whatever they do, ULA, OrbATK, Blue, etc, will still be playing catch-up.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 06/08/2016 10:26 PM
Tried and gave up at educating about why insurance underwriting costs have dropped for F9, and will drop further. Just accept it. Cannot "understand it for you".

Likewise, basic launch service cost is gradually edging downward. This will continue. Won't attempt to educate this time, but its obvious as to why.

After a while, possibly quite awhile,  the whole reuse of a booster will become commonly accepted.

Those that don't ... will stand out. That is how this little reality show will end. By design.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 06/08/2016 10:27 PM

I think it really may be more about cost.  When reflight is reliable, SpaceX still wants to sell for full price.  SpaceX only need outbid everyone else and be as reliable or better.

Think of it like this.  SpaceX is selling an orbited payload.  The value of that from the paying customer's perspective doesn't change with the cost of the method.  SpaceX will price at the best price they can get from the market unless they are doing something for charitable reasons.
IOW exactly  like every other LV supplier.   :(  You're saying that basically SX is looking to lower it's costs, but not it's prices.  This will therefor make no change to the size of the existing market.

No.  I was brief but that's not what I'm saying.  And I added back the 2nd part of my post.

1)  I think SpaceX intends to sell launches.  When they are at full reliable reuse, they are still going to be sell launches for their retail price (whatever that is higher or lower).
2)  SpaceX will have the flexibility to price their launches to maximize their ultimate goals.
3)  SpaceX may be (as seen lately) raising prices while decreasing the cost of mass to orbit.
4)  Elon has talked about 100x decrease in costs.  If that comes about, he's going to price based on what he wants to get out of the market but at the same time has the luxury of donating a launch to some vendor working on ancillary projects he likes.  Other suppliers won't be in that position.


The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.  How they do it is their business.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 11:25 PM
Tried and gave up at educating about why insurance underwriting costs have dropped for F9, and will drop further. Just accept it. Cannot "understand it for you".

Not sure who was arguing the opposite. Not me. I readily accept that's the case for "new" F9's.

But the question of the moment re insurance is how the insurers will peg the probability of failure for "reflown" stages until a demonstrated flight history is built up. Will they accept SpaceX's assertion (I assume) that a used stage is as reliable or more reliable than a new stage? With the result that near-term insurance premiums for the first few reflights will be *less* than for "new" stages?

Maybe they will, but I hadn't heard that public announcement yet from the insurers. Maybe I missed it. I tend to believe they will charge slightly higher premiums until reflights have built up a record of success but will gladly admit to being wrong if that's the case when those rates are published. Meanwhile, it sounds like the insurers are making that judgment call now.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-insurers-20160603-snap-story.html (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-spacex-insurers-20160603-snap-story.html)

Quote
Because insurers are always a little skeptical when something new is introduced, the information from the upcoming meeting will enable them to assess the risks of flying with a reusable rocket, Poliseno said.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 11:32 PM
Quote
The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.

Reference, please? SpaceX (Elon, Gwynne) have been repeatedly quoted as saying reuse would allow them to cut F9 launch prices.

http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/ (http://spacenews.com/spacex-says-reusable-stage-could-cut-prices-by-30-plans-first-falcon-heavy-in-november/)

Quote
Shotwell said it was too early to set precise prices for a reused Falcon 9, but that if the fuel on the first stage costs $1 million or less, and a reused first stage could be prepared for reflight for $3 million or so, a price reduction of 30 percent – to around $40 million – should be possible.

I don't find it credible that Gwynne would be talking publicly about possible 30% price reductions for reused stages if SpaceX didn't actually plan to pass *any* cost savings on to their customers.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mader Levap on 06/08/2016 11:39 PM
I think flown stages will be seen as less reliable for a while, until they rack up history.

Bathtub curve (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_curve) applies only to mature reusable launch vehicle tech. Currently, while used stage certainly gets rid of most "infant mortality" issues, it still has largerly unknown "wear out" issues.

So for some time (few years?) used rockets will be cheaper. After maturation of reusable rocket tech, price will reflect failure risk - cheaper at beginning and close to end of life, normal in middle. Launches of same stage/rocket in middle of life won't have same price anyway, as every customer and every launch has ever so slightly different needs, but that's different story.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/08/2016 11:47 PM
I think flown stages will be seen as less reliable for a while, until they rack up history.

Bathtub curve (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_curve) applies only to mature reusable launch vehicle tech. Currently, while used stage certainly gets rid of most "infant mortality" issues, it still has largerly unknown "wear out" issues.

So for some time (few years?) used rockets will be cheaper. After maturation of reusable rocket tech, price will reflect failure risk - cheaper at beginning and close to end of life, normal in middle. Launches of same stage/rocket in middle of life won't have same price anyway, as every customer and every launch has ever so slightly different needs, but that's different story.

Agreed, and all that matters in the near term is that the F9 price cut more than offsets any additional insurance premium, so the customer still saves on a reflight. That gives net positive financial incentive despite lack of flight history. SES seems ready to jump on the bandwagon, so they must be convinced the additional risk, if any, is negligible, for what looks like significant savings, depending on how their insurers adjust their premiums.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AC in NC on 06/09/2016 12:12 AM
Quote
The original point that kicked of this chain was "Would reflight be a low cost" alternative?  I think Elon has made comments that the answer to that is "No".  They are selling orbits for a flat price plus upgrades.

Reference, please? SpaceX (Elon, Gwynne) have been repeatedly quoted as saying reuse would allow them to cut F9 launch prices.

Cutting F9 launch prices is not inconsistent with selling orbits for a flat price.  I'm just saying I thought I saw (or implied) that after initial discounts that they were intended to have 1 price not 2.  I will endeavor to find a reference.

Main point is (I think) they are selling a launch (with a free reflight on failure) for a fixed price (once reliability is assured).  That price may go up or down.  Recently it went up marginally for a significant increase in payload resulting in an overall reduced cost to orbit across all payload masses.  I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/09/2016 12:46 AM
Quote
I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".

Except that's pretty much exactly what Gwynne said may happen in the quote I posted above. And telling customers they may get a 30% (or thereabouts) price cut for a reflight fits my loose definition of "marketing." If you're not planning to sell something, you don't tell your customers in public how much they may save by buying it.

Not sure how you square that with a "fixed price per orbit" concept, but I will read any such quotes from Elon or Gwynne with interest if you can find them. Maybe that's a baseline price structure for launches of "new" F9's, before the discount for reflown stages.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 06/09/2016 01:55 AM
Nothing in that quote states or even implies that the price of new stages will remain the same. It can and has been understood by some to mean that regular reflight of stages will permit an across the board price reduction of 30%. Reflight will permit price reductions compared to current prices, not necessarily compared to new booster prices at that time.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/09/2016 02:16 AM
SpaceX may not have much reason to lower prices right now. They already have incredibly low prices and a long manifest that they're trying as hard as they can to fulfill.

Reuse will make it easier for them to fly out their current manifest, clear the schedule a bit, and give SpaceX incentive to lower cost even further to fill the manifest back up,

As long as there's available market share that SpaceX hasn't gained and as long as SpaceX can keep up with their manifest (which they can't quite do, yet), there will be incentive to reduce prices a bit. But SpaceX will also be filling their manifest with their own launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/09/2016 03:58 AM
Nothing in that quote states or even implies that the price of new stages will remain the same. It can and has been understood by some to mean that regular reflight of stages will permit an across the board price reduction of 30%. Reflight will permit price reductions compared to current prices, not necessarily compared to new booster prices at that time.

I guess people can "understand" whatever they wish, but Gwynne specifically said "a reflight of a reused stage," not an across the board price cut including new stages.

In any case, a discussion of future launch price structures probably belongs elsewhere. This thread is about refurbishing the stages and it seems we've gone off topic.

Suggested threads for price discussions:

Economics of Reusability:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35829.0
Business Effects of Reusability:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39106.140
Reusability Effect of Cost:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40377.msg1539260#msg1539260
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 06/09/2016 09:31 AM
Quote
I don't think they are trying to market "Hey.  Our used boosters get you 30% off".

Except that's pretty much exactly what Gwynne said may happen in the quote I posted above. And telling customers they may get a 30% (or thereabouts) price cut for a reflight fits my loose definition of "marketing." If you're not planning to sell something, you don't tell your customers in public how much they may save by buying it.

Not sure how you square that with a "fixed price per orbit" concept, but I will read any such quotes from Elon or Gwynne with interest if you can find them. Maybe that's a baseline price structure for launches of "new" F9's, before the discount for reflown stages.

Whilst 30% off might be good for kick starting the reusable market, once they prove reliable, prices for new and used will have to converge, otherwise no-one will buy new flights, and they will then run out of flown cores!
 
Might even go the other way, new cores costing less to launch than used. But again, the prices will need to converge, once reliability of the two types is the same.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 06/09/2016 10:09 AM
SpaceX may not have much reason to lower prices right now. They already have incredibly low prices and a long manifest that they're trying as hard as they can to fulfill.

Reuse will make it easier for them to fly out their current manifest, clear the schedule a bit, and give SpaceX incentive to lower cost even further to fill the manifest back up,

As long as there's available market share that SpaceX hasn't gained and as long as SpaceX can keep up with their manifest (which they can't quite do, yet), there will be incentive to reduce prices a bit. But SpaceX will also be filling their manifest with their own launches.
A one off launch reusing a booster you're probably right.

But if SpaceX gives their largest customers a 20 or 30% discount on reused boosters in exchange for a 20 launch contract, that increases SpaceX valuation for any future exchanges in SpaceX shares. Just because SpaceX isn't a public company and its share negotiations are private doesn't mean SpaceX shares never changes hands.

If SpaceX could sign US$ 10 billion worth of future launch contracts, locking in first dibs on every launch for most of its GTO customers, that has a lot of positive ramifications for SpaceX. It pleases all of SpaceX existing investors.

This would also help fulfil some of those contracts in the future with 100% big raptor rockets which might be able to deliver 50+ tons to GEO-800m/s in a single swoop. Say a zero inclination, 20000x38000Km orbit that even an all electric bird can raise itself in less than a month. This is all speculation, and I'm not trying to start a raptor discussion here, just trying to frame what might be in Musk/Shotwell's mind at this point.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/09/2016 12:27 PM
I know things are slow on the "refurbishment" front, but this is really not the thread to be discussing reuse pricing, economics, company valuations, Raptor, etc. It's for the mechanics of refurbishment. There are at least three other threads for those other topics.

So I plead anew to get back on topic and take the pricing discussions to one of the threads I just posted above.

To get back on track, it seems pretty clear from other discussions that the entire interstage is covered in (painted) cork, while the upper part of the first stage is not. (I agree with Herb's speculation that the lower third of the stage has some sort of special paint that turns dark from the heat, and it's pretty clear that the base of the stage below the legs has cork too.)

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1546764#msg1546764

This might explain why the interstage of OG-2 still looks rather grungy after cleaning, in comparison to the rest of the stage, ie the painted cork doesn't clean up as well as the painted aluminum because of the roughness of the cork substrate.

Photo credit: jardeon.  https://m.imgur.com/gallery/2BWF8# (https://m.imgur.com/gallery/2BWF8#)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 06/09/2016 12:33 PM
I know this is off topic...
Is there anyway that thread links posted could automatically show the name of the thread?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/09/2016 12:39 PM
I know this is off topic...
Is there anyway that thread links posted could automatically show the name of the thread?

Don't know, but I added thread names to the links I posted above in case that helps move the off-topic pricing discussions where they belong.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 06/09/2016 01:01 PM
This talk of 'new' and 'reused' boosters may be a bit too black and white.
SpaceX themselves have indicated that different components of the vehicle are expected to have different life cycles.
Who's to say that an otherwise brand new stage might not be fitted with refurbished engines, legs, etc?
Stages might become essentially a high-tech version of Trigger's Broom.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 06/09/2016 01:48 PM
Thanks for the self modding attempts. Please follow the suggestions and take pricing discussion to other threads. If you want a post moved, PM me (or any mod)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 06/09/2016 01:50 PM
This talk of 'new' and 'reused' boosters may be a bit too black and white.
SpaceX themselves have indicated that different components of the vehicle are expected to have different life cycles.
Who's to say that an otherwise brand new stage might not be fitted with refurbished engines, legs, etc?
Stages might become essentially a high-tech version of Trigger's Broom.

Careful, someone might bring out the Lego are not rockets or something.

I would have thought that as long as removal/replacement is cheaper than new, this is bound to happen. They already have 4 stages x nine engines each. That $36M worth of engines ($1M per engine seems about right) sitting in that hanger (ignoring ones already removed, but you get the gist)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 06/09/2016 10:32 PM
I have extracted the non-iPhone photos from the camera SD card and so have a number of higher-resolution shots of the pristine CRS-8 booster taken from the fence line at LC-40 that may prove instructive in the cork-related discussion:


(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7578/27470489122_999f2b9150.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRtrmN)
IMG_6268 (https://flic.kr/p/HRtrmN) by Michael Pelletier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvpel/), on Flickr

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/8/7405/27470487762_fe20e3d871.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HRtqXm)
IMG_6272 (https://flic.kr/p/HRtqXm) by Michael Pelletier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvpel/), on Flickr

(https://c8.staticflickr.com/8/7177/27569381415_6db4246e57.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/J1dhAk)
IMG_6278 (https://flic.kr/p/J1dhAk) by Michael Pelletier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvpel/), on Flickr

(https://c7.staticflickr.com/8/7436/27292488390_bf9841cd12.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/HzK8WE)
IMG_6281 (https://flic.kr/p/HzK8WE) by Michael Pelletier (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mvpel/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/10/2016 09:32 AM
Here's another great shot of JCSAT-14 showing the cork on the base of the stage, with some of it missing.

Photo credit: jardeon. https://m.imgur.com/gallery/2BWF8#
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/10/2016 07:00 PM
I imagine that it would be most easily done if the core is mounted horizontally on those circular rings, rotating like a bird on a spit while a pressure washer slowly moves from one end to the other, kind of like a lathe.

How much force is needed to remove the soot, anyways? You certainly don't want to use too much water pressure and accidentally damage the skin.
Indeed, once you can put the stage on a horizontal rotating mounting you can carry out all sorts of inspection and repair tasks on it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/11/2016 01:21 AM
On the subject of TPS, we have confirmation from The Roadie posting in another thread that yes, the interstage is covered in (painted) cork:

Quote
I've seen cork being applied to the interstage on a Hawthorne tour. Also the logo and American flag being painted on using rollers and a stencil, not as I expected, an adhesive sticker.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1547806#msg1547806

And matthewkantar made a good point about why there would be cork on the (composite) interstage but not the (aluminum) tanks:

Quote
Composites are generally heat intolerant as far as I know, so TPS on the interstage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 06/12/2016 08:07 AM
And matthewkantar made a good point about why there would be cork on the (composite) interstage but not the (aluminum) tanks:

Quote
Composites are generally heat intolerant as far as I know, so TPS on the interstage.
It's been pointed out that even a coat of paint is sufficient to stop LOX boiloff.

It would seem that between the very poor thermal conductivity of even thin paint layers and Aluminums high thermal conductivity (allowing the heat to spread out long before it gets too hot to lose too much strength) that's perfectly adequate for most short term situations.

Carbon Fiber composites tend to have pretty poor thermal conductivity (some carbon fiber grades are very good conductors but I think the price premium is very large) and of course will start to burn on exposure to high temperature air so ablatives seem pretty sensible.

An interesting question is wheather a study of the ablative layer erosion pattern will show consistent wear, allowing the substitution of permanent heat shielding panels.

One issue that's rarely discussed with ablatives is how do you reuse them? AFAIK only the X15 programme looked at this. The simple answer is you have enough on the structure that you can use it multiple times then scrap the structure. This does not seem adequate for SX. The next question is do you need to strip back to the underlying material, or can you just strip the surface layer, prep the remainder and layer on a new coat?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: matthewkantar on 06/12/2016 07:59 PM
The composite construction of the interstage saves weight over conventional materials. The savings would seem to be lessened by the required protection of the composite material with some form of TPS. If that TPS is too fragile to allow immediate reuse of the stage, SpaceX may find trades favoring LI-AL or even TI alloy construction so that TPS can be done away with in some areas.

Matthew
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rberry on 06/12/2016 08:04 PM
Looks like a landed stage is on the move.

Stephen Smith indicates it is NOT the cleaned up stage from the "Fantastic Four" picture.

I think orientation in the HIF indicates that it is the stage on the far left of the fantastic four picture, so possibly CRS-8 (F9-023).

EDIT - I only see two stages to its left, so probably not CRS-8 (F9-023). Also doubting my orientation of the picture. If I was right the walk-through door should be on the other side. Not real sure....

Headed to McGregor?

https://twitter.com/SpaceKSCBlog/status/742062804761448449
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mattrog on 06/12/2016 08:14 PM
Looks like a landed stage is on the move.

Stephen Smith indicates it is NOT the cleaned up stage from the "Fantastic Four" picture.

I think orientation in the HIF indicates that it is the stage on the far left of the fantastic four picture, so possibly CRS-8.

Headed to McGregor?

https://twitter.com/SpaceKSCBlog/status/742062804761448449
Cleaned it up a bit not sure if it helps ! Just using snapseed on my phone
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 06/12/2016 08:40 PM
Definitely looks like the cleaned up stage is furthest left in that pic. So is that one CRS 8 and we can speculate that the cleanup is for the purposes of reflight?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rberry on 06/12/2016 09:10 PM
Definitely looks like the cleaned up stage is furthest left in that pic. So is that one CRS 8 and we can speculate that the cleanup is for the purposes of reflight?

I think it has been clearly shown at this point that the cleaned up stage was the the OG-2 stage (F9-021). Quite a bit of photo evidence points to that conclusion.

Now, which stage is being moved and where it is going I think is still questionable.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pb2000 on 06/12/2016 09:12 PM
I think we're looking though the small hangar door in that picture, so everything is reversed.
It would be (L to R) crs-8, jcsat, thaicom, orb, which places the truck in front of the thaicom stage.

Edit: The thaicom stage isn't as far into the hangar, so it might be hidden. The orb stage makes much more sense anyways

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gongora on 06/12/2016 10:20 PM
There was a recent article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/06/spacex-readies-falcon-9-reuse-testing/) with the following information:

Quote
the first recovered booster, from the OG-2 mission, is in the final stages of preparing to depart the 39A HIF for its trip to SpaceX’s HQ in Hawthorne, California.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CyndyC on 06/12/2016 11:32 PM
And matthewkantar made a good point about why there would be cork on the (composite) interstage but not the (aluminum) tanks:

Quote
Composites are generally heat intolerant as far as I know, so TPS on the interstage.

That the interstage takes the brunt of the residual heat from the 2nd stage MVAC at separation might also be a reason to layer cork on the interstage.

I'm pretty sure Jim has stated sometime back that ice acts as an insulator on the 1st stage, and looking at the grayscale of returned stages, the ice obviously concentrates in the middle third of the stage. That would be because the RP-1 inside the lower third is not only partly corked, but chilled to only around -7°C/19.4°F, compared to the LOX above it being at around -207°C/-340.6°F, and the LOX in the top third is expended so quickly during launch, why bother with cork there either, especially after the fiasco with cork flying everywhere during an earlier attempt to use it.

I think the bottom third is so close to black because the stage is travelling tail first during its return, not traveling away from the heat of the burn but directly into it, and the bottom third isn't coming back nearly as pre-chilled either. My impression was the SpaceX engineer wanted Herb to have a cigar because he had correctly speculated there is a layer of cork there, not necessarily special paint. Although there could be both, then why don't they go ahead and use the same special paint on the interstage where there is also a need for cork? If they do, it's unlikely the bottom would clean up better than the top, it would be the other way around.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 06/14/2016 06:53 PM
Here is a picture of the HIF back in mid-May:

(http://www.space.com/images/i/000/055/494/original/spacex-landed-rockets-hangar-1.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-none&downsize=*:1400)

I believe, left to right, the cores are:
Left: Core23 (CRS-8)
Middle:  Freshly recovered Core24 (JCSAT)
Right: Orbcomm

When Core 25 came in (Thaicom), they moved JCSAT to the left of center.

So, if the truck is leaving through the door which is open in this picture, then it must be Core 24 headed to McGregor, correct?

Edit:  So looking at the pic of the truck, I don't think it can get to the "wall" -- Now I'm thinking it's Core 25 (Thaicom) which is headed to McGregor.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 06/14/2016 06:59 PM
And here's the picture of 4:

(http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/13398546_981578768622927_1292982420_n.jpg)

So the are:
Left:  Core23
Left-Center:  Core24
Center/incoming:  Core 25
Right:  Orbcomm, lookin' pretty

So, is the truck above aligned with center, or left-center??
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/14/2016 07:14 PM
I see two cores off to the passenger side of that truck, so the one leaving would be the left-center (core 24).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 06/14/2016 07:21 PM
I see two cores off to the passenger side of that truck, so the one leaving would be the left-center (core 24).

If it's leaving two on the passenger side, it would have to be center?  I think?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 06/14/2016 07:37 PM
You're right. I thought that the truck was parked under the engine end, but looking closer those are definitely interstages. The truck would be right under where the interior photos were taken, lined up with core 25 was during the incoming shot.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 06/14/2016 08:36 PM
Remember, the engines always point towards the launch pad.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: simonbp on 06/14/2016 09:01 PM
On the subject of TPS, we have confirmation from The Roadie posting in another thread that yes, the interstage is covered in (painted) cork:

Quote
I've seen cork being applied to the interstage on a Hawthorne tour. Also the logo and American flag being painted on using rollers and a stencil, not as I expected, an adhesive sticker.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40393.msg1547806#msg1547806

And matthewkantar made a good point about why there would be cork on the (composite) interstage but not the (aluminum) tanks:

Quote
Composites are generally heat intolerant as far as I know, so TPS on the interstage.


I can report from a factory tour in 2007(!) that the later Falcon 1s were covered in cork, presumably as TPS for recovery.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OpelGT on 06/14/2016 10:20 PM
https://twitter.com/SpaceKSCBlog/status/742062804761448449
Looks like a landed stage is on the move.  Headed to McGregor?

Stephen Smith indicates it is NOT the cleaned up stage from the "Fantastic Four" picture.
Any update or sightings of used rockets at Hawthorne, CA or McGregor, TX?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/14/2016 11:30 PM
https://twitter.com/SpaceKSCBlog/status/742062804761448449
Looks like a landed stage is on the move.  Headed to McGregor?

Stephen Smith indicates it is NOT the cleaned up stage from the "Fantastic Four" picture.
Any update or sightings of used rockets at Hawthorne, CA or McGregor, TX?

Maybe too early yet. Someone reported seeing a stage westbound in Pensacola yesterday (13th), possibly the same one reported leaving the Cape very early that morning:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40510.msg1549000#msg1549000

Maybe also the same one Stephen Smith tweeted about on the 12th, and the pic with the hangar door open wasn't because they were leaving that day, just backing the truck in for loading? So maybe that one didn't actually leave until early 13th per the above post.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Roadie on 06/17/2016 09:26 PM
ORBCOMM2 - 021 has been spotted on I-8 entering California by Facebook group members Genesis Adam and Tracy Black
Added: Although it's odd that all the engines look to be there under the tarp. Hmmm.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/17/2016 10:00 PM
ORBCOMM2 - 021 has been spotted on I-8 entering California by Facebook group members Genesis Adam and Tracy Black
Added: Although it's odd that all the engines look to be there under the tarp. Hmmm.

Must have put them all back in for display.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Roadie on 06/17/2016 11:58 PM
At one point they were all removed. But the HIF is a better place to reinstall them than Jack Northrop Ave.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Patchouli on 06/18/2016 12:07 AM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.

Form what I can see LEO mission stages likely can be reused but GTO ones seem to take a fair amount of damage.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/18/2016 12:34 AM
I think from the high-res images of the landed stages any unbiased engineer would say that they are either already can be reused with minor refurb, or that first stage design will need only minor tweaks to make that possible.
The stages are clearly not heavily damaged.

Form what I can see LEO mission stages likely can be reused but GTO ones seem to take a fair amount of damage.
It's high velocity entry that is the challenge. You could have high velocity entry from LEO, too, if you were near the edge of the rocket's performance. Likewise you could have a fairly benign entry from GTO if the payload were small.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OpelGT on 06/18/2016 04:06 AM
ORBCOMM2 - 021 has been spotted on I-8 entering California by Facebook members Genesis Adam and Tracy Black
Added: Although it's odd that all the engines look to be there under the tarp. Hmmm.

Here's Genesis Adam‎'s video of transport truck with rocket in Phoenix/Chandler area
https://www.facebook.com/GenesisAB/videos/10209376361107927/ (https://www.facebook.com/GenesisAB/videos/10209376361107927/)

PS If they got out of traffic they should be near Hawthorne about now 9pm PST (4a UTC)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cartman on 06/19/2016 01:11 AM
more images from Facebook group members Genesis Adam and Tracy Black
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OpelGT on 06/20/2016 03:29 AM
The 1st stage on the truck that was spotted in Arizona has made it back to the factory in Hawthorne CA!
Looks like it must be the F9-021 core from the Orbcomm-2 landing.

Click on link to see pictures http://imgur.com/a/bu62W (http://imgur.com/a/bu62W)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jarnis on 06/20/2016 09:00 AM
The 1st stage on the truck that was spotted in Arizona has made it back to the factory in Hawthorne CA!
Looks like it must be the F9-021 core from the Orbcomm-2 landing.

Click on link to see pictures http://imgur.com/a/bu62W (http://imgur.com/a/bu62W)

A truck bringing a flown booster back to the factory. I know, I know... museum piece. Still, that seems just... wrong.  ;D
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 06/20/2016 08:54 PM
The 1st stage on the truck that was spotted in Arizona has made it back to the factory in Hawthorne CA!
Looks like it must be the F9-021 core from the Orbcomm-2 landing.

Click on link to see pictures http://imgur.com/a/bu62W (http://imgur.com/a/bu62W)

A truck bringing a flown booster back to the factory. I know, I know... museum piece. Still, that seems just... wrong.  ;D

I know, right?

And what makes it even more suspicious is that the truck BACKED into the dock.

Get it?

They are playing us an old video in reverse!!!

(Sorry, just watched a YouTube that proved the whole "SpaceX thing" is a hoax.  Or rather, the beginning of one, until it got boring)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OpelGT on 06/21/2016 01:56 AM
A truck bringing a flown booster back to the factory. I know, I know... museum piece. Still, that seems just... wrong.  ;D

Never know, they haven't unwrapped it yet.
It could be F9-023 [CRS-8] back in for it's million mile scheduled maintenance ;D
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Adriano on 06/22/2016 04:53 AM
Not sure it is dirt that can be washed off. I think more likely it is paint discoloration caused by heat. If that is the case, the discolored areas are the areas that were subject to to high temperatures. The lox tank kept that section of the frame cool, hence no discoloration. I guess testing of the paint can allow us to derive temperatures of the skin. As engineers will know which temperature may weaken the frame, they will know where to look for possible damage, possibly taking samples from a rocket that crashed to confirm...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mvpel on 06/22/2016 07:47 PM
Not sure it is dirt that can be washed off. I think more likely it is paint discoloration caused by heat.

The general suspicion is that it can be washed off.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/23/2016 12:08 AM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: woods170 on 06/23/2016 08:58 AM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
One just has got to admire SpaceX for putting two cores outside and confuse the h*ll out all of us for a full day. "Which core is what?" Brilliant! :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/23/2016 01:47 PM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
One just has got to admire SpaceX for putting two cores outside and confuse the h*ll out all of us for a full day. "Which core is what?" Brilliant! :)

And, "what the h*ll are they doing in the street?!"  ???
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rocx on 06/23/2016 02:42 PM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
One just has got to admire SpaceX for putting two cores outside and confuse the h*ll out all of us for a full day. "Which core is what?" Brilliant! :)

It may even have been their intention to show Falcon Heavy hardware to the world without being too obvious about it. To raise some confidence in making the 2016 launch date.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 06/23/2016 03:05 PM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
One just has got to admire SpaceX for putting two cores outside and confuse the h*ll out all of us for a full day. "Which core is what?" Brilliant! :)

It may even have been their intention to show Falcon Heavy hardware to the world without being too obvious about it. To raise some confidence in making the 2016 launch date.

Then why not just tweet a photo of it in the factory, rather than parking it out in the street and hoping someone recognizes it?

There must really be "no vacancy" at the Falcon Motel.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 06/24/2016 12:31 PM
SpaceX looking to build a refurb facility on the North side of Port Canaveral. I imagine this would include their own mooring for the ASDS:

http://www.fox35orlando.com/news/local-news/164663415-story

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Port Canaveral staff are currently in negotiations with aerospace company SpaceX to lease land on the north side of the inlet where a possible facility to refurbish rockets would be built, according to one Port Authority Commissioner.

Bruce Deardoff, who represents district four, says SpaceX has expressed interest in leasing several acres at the Port where a facility could be built to receive, house, and refurbish Falcon 9 boosters after they land at sea on the aerospace company's autonomous drone ship.

"I think we are going to find a great solution to what they need," said Deardoff.

Port Commissioner: SpaceX negotiating Port lease to refurbish rocket boosters
Currently, SpaceX retrieves the landed boosters and then stores them in an Air Force warehouse. If a deal is struck, SpaceX could create a steady loop of boosters launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and then refurbish several miles away at the Port. A possible deal could also bring more aerospace jobs to the area to support the refurbishment activities. But one point of contention in the early negotiations between the two parties is the Port's initial assessment of a federally required dock fee.

Capt. John Murray, Port Canaveral's CEO, says his staff settled on a fee of $15,000 for each rocket booster docked at the Port. The amount, he says, was based on research into comparable fees for aerospace parts and equipment. But after commissioners pulled the item from discussion at a Wednesday commission meeting, Murray said he was willing to reconsider a lower amount during a private meeting with SpaceX representatives that was scheduled to follow the public meeting.

"We are really excited to have them in the Port," said Captain Murray about the fast growing space company SpaceX, "and we are excited about the business they are bringing to the community. This is just an ongoing discussion that will continue."

SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor would not confirm the content of the meeting with Port Canaveral staff, but did say representatives of the company participated in a private meeting with Port Canaveral Staff.

According to Commissioner Deardoff, SpaceX's goal in three years is to launch an average of 90 rockets a year.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: starhawk92 on 06/24/2016 03:20 PM
Some great closeups of the OG-2 stage on the street in Hawthorne:

http://imgur.com/a/q7yoL
One just has got to admire SpaceX for putting two cores outside and confuse the h*ll out all of us for a full day. "Which core is what?" Brilliant! :)

I bet, on occasion, the following remark is made in a SpaceX meeting:
" . . . . will be great because that will send those NSF folks into a tizzy (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=tizzy)"
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 06/24/2016 03:32 PM
It may even have been their intention to show Falcon Heavy hardware to the world without being too obvious about it. To raise some confidence in making the 2016 launch date.

Then why not just tweet a photo of it in the factory, rather than parking it out in the street and hoping someone recognizes it?

There must really be "no vacancy" at the Falcon Motel.

I think they did it for a laugh. The timing was such that interested people would be there with cameras for the Orbcom landed stage. There is no way the missing cover and the timing were accidental.

Edit: corrected quoting.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rocx on 06/24/2016 06:43 PM
It may even have been their intention to show Falcon Heavy hardware to the world without being too obvious about it. To raise some confidence in making the 2016 launch date.

Then why not just tweet a photo of it in the factory, rather than parking it out in the street and hoping someone recognizes it?

There must really be "no vacancy" at the Falcon Motel.

I think they did it for a laugh. The timing was such that interested people would be there with cameras for the Orbcom landed stage. There is no way the missing cover and the timing were accidental.

Edit: corrected quoting.

You know, maybe they have some engineer follow the comments on the pictures, and the one that identified the mystery engine-less end as 'not the landed core but probably FH' before the other one arrived will be invited for a job interview. Maybe.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Roadie on 06/24/2016 11:08 PM
It may even have been their intention to show Falcon Heavy hardware to the world without being too obvious about it. To raise some confidence in making the 2016 launch date.
We've seen FH side booster nose cones in SpX pics from the factory floor months ago, and I was on a tour and saw a FH (perhaps test article, can't be sure) interstage also a couple of months ago. It was distinctive for having extra large cutouts where struts would have to go to the top of the LOX tank structure - bottom of the interstage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Scylla on 07/09/2016 11:07 PM
Historic SpaceX booster approved for display in California

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted SpaceX permission to build a 160-foot-tall display. The FAA's approval was needed because the tall rocket stage will stand not far from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport runway.
"It would be the highest object for quite a distance around the airport," CEO Elon Musk explained back in April.
The FAA has determined that "the structure would have no substantial adverse effect on the safe and efficient utilization of the navigable airspace by aircraft or on the operation of air navigation facilities," records show.
However, the monument must incorporate red obstruction lights to "to make it more conspicuous to airmen flying in VFR (visual flight rules) weather conditions between sunset and sunrise."
http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/2016/07/09/historic-spacex-booster-approved-display-california/86709956/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Citabria on 07/12/2016 04:09 PM
Not sure it is dirt that can be washed off. I think more likely it is paint discoloration caused by heat.

The general suspicion is that it can be washed off.

Perhaps they used Bartley's Rocket Wax?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9DVbwvVUAk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9DVbwvVUAk)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Clueless Idiot on 07/31/2016 10:13 PM
This comment is from a different thread here http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40510.80
 
"A different analogy that many people use (me included) is the turbofan engines on airliners, which operate with many extreme conditions, though rocket engines have even more extreme conditions they have to operate in.  One article I have seen talked about a turbofan on an A-10 that flew for 10 years (3,464.4 operating hours) after a major overhaul in 1999.

And certainly a more direct analogy is the Shuttle Orbiter engines, the Space Shuttle main engine (SSME).  Though they had to go through an inspection program after each flight, and they did have some minor parts replaced after each flight, overall they were reusable.  But compared to a Merlin 1D, the SSME were pretty complicated, which is why there is more hope that a truly reusable rocket engine can be perfected."

He says that the SSME were complicated compared to the Merlin engine and its this precise difference in complexity that I wish to understand here? Why and how did SSME's complexity make it so that they had to refurbish it in between launches? What exactly did they replace on the SSME in between launches? Surely this forum has experts here who know these facts like the back of their hand?




Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 08/02/2016 01:17 PM
(Not an expert)

SSME and M1D have huge fundamental differences- propellant being an obvious one, but also a completely different engine cycle. So the actual components are doing different jobs, a bit like the difference between a petrol and a diesel engine. SSME was also designed in the 70s, Merlin can draw on another three decades of development (perhaps not as big an advantage as it should be)

I don't personally know what refurbishing each of these engines entails, but a few points to consider:
1) where do you draw the line between refurb and inspection? You might not replace a component, but you might still want to whip it out and check e.g. tolerance on a bearing seal.
2) There will be a trade between the hassle and cost if inspection/refurb, and the hassle and cost of engine failure. That scale will be weighted massively in favour of not losing the vehicle.
3) There may also (and I'm starting to speculate a little here) be a trade between cost, performance, and service intervals. Is it worth building a no-refurb engine if it comes at the cost of performance loss? Would you buy a car that didn't need refuelled until the next service interval- of course not, that would mean driving around lugging 20,000 miles worth of fuel with you. Absurd example but I hope it illustrates the point.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 08/02/2016 01:42 PM
(Not an expert)

SSME and M1D have huge fundamental differences- propellant being an obvious one, but also a completely different engine cycle. So the actual components are doing different jobs, a bit like the difference between a petrol and a diesel engine. SSME was also designed in the 70s, Merlin can draw on another three decades of development (perhaps not as big an advantage as it should be)

I don't personally know what refurbishing each of these engines entails, but a few points to consider:
1) where do you draw the line between refurb and inspection? You might not replace a component, but you might still want to whip it out and check e.g. tolerance on a bearing seal.
2) There will be a trade between the hassle and cost if inspection/refurb, and the hassle and cost of engine failure. That scale will be weighted massively in favour of not losing the vehicle.
3) There may also (and I'm starting to speculate a little here) be a trade between cost, performance, and service intervals. Is it worth building a no-refurb engine if it comes at the cost of performance loss? Would you buy a car that didn't need refuelled until the next service interval- of course not, that would mean driving around lugging 20,000 miles worth of fuel with you. Absurd example but I hope it illustrates the point.

with the note above about complexity. I hope the raptor with the new cycle doesn't break the complexity problem. The m1d while not being the highest isp has achieved the best thrust to weight ratio and seen to be very reliable and simple to operate.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: the_other_Doug on 08/02/2016 04:45 PM
(Not an expert)

SSME and M1D have huge fundamental differences- propellant being an obvious one, but also a completely different engine cycle. So the actual components are doing different jobs, a bit like the difference between a petrol and a diesel engine. SSME was also designed in the 70s, Merlin can draw on another three decades of development (perhaps not as big an advantage as it should be)

I don't personally know what refurbishing each of these engines entails, but a few points to consider:
1) where do you draw the line between refurb and inspection? You might not replace a component, but you might still want to whip it out and check e.g. tolerance on a bearing seal.
2) There will be a trade between the hassle and cost if inspection/refurb, and the hassle and cost of engine failure. That scale will be weighted massively in favour of not losing the vehicle.
3) There may also (and I'm starting to speculate a little here) be a trade between cost, performance, and service intervals. Is it worth building a no-refurb engine if it comes at the cost of performance loss? Would you buy a car that didn't need refuelled until the next service interval- of course not, that would mean driving around lugging 20,000 miles worth of fuel with you. Absurd example but I hope it illustrates the point.

The concept behind SpaceX's vision of re-use is to have stages that do not require any refurbishment or inspection between beyond surface inspections and test fires.  In other words, nothing that requires unshipping or replacing engines or major components between flights.

This is opposite the Shuttle paradigm, where all three SSME's were routinely replaced by completely refurbished engines between flights, the just-flown SSME's being routed into an extensive take-it-all-apart inspection and refurbishment cycle.  In addition, the Shuttle's OMS pods were completely removed from the vehicles after each flight for inspection and refurbishment, some of which included replacing all the seals in the hypergolic fuel systems.

In other words, your points seem to be trying to pull forward the Shuttle paradigm of "Hey, it can't hurt to take it all apart, inspect and clean every piece, and put it back together" whereas the SpaceX paradigm is "Fuel 'er up and fly 'er again, maybe clean off the soot first."

According to SpaceX, the Merlins are designed for their operations paradigm, not for the Shuttle paradigm.

It feels like the people who continually ask "But, how can you re-fly a rocket without taking it apart and putting it all back together again?" are having the same difficulty in shifting their paradigms as the people who insist "SpaceX cannot possibly be capable of making and flying Falcon 9's at $60 million a shot, because everyone else who has ever done it before can't do it for less than $200 million."

Yes, paradigms shifting under your feet can be confusing.  But once the new paradigms are proven to be workable and effective, most people won't have a problem coming on board with them... :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: The Roadie on 08/20/2016 02:18 PM
BIG NEWS: 021 was relocated from Jack Northrop Ave to Crenshaw Blvd overnight and is ready for erection TODAY. Get out to Hawthorne ready to take some historic pictures!

Added: FB thread with pictures: https://www.facebook.com/groups/spacexgroup/permalink/10154499364716318/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 08/20/2016 08:57 PM
Looks like sketches of a reusable fairing concept are among the photos  too ...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: jacqmans on 08/20/2016 09:49 PM
Saw these on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/spacexgroup/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Req on 08/20/2016 10:18 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mFQVUta5Gw

Lots of good pics here:
http://lhopkins.com/2016/08/20/first-stage-installation-day/

Live Periscope just went up:
https://www.periscope.tv/leejlh/1DXGyLmvrkWKM
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 08/21/2016 04:33 AM
Pretty decent wash job.  I wonder how long the current paint and logos will last in the local environment before everything starts to flake, peel, and fade.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: chawleysnow on 08/21/2016 10:13 PM
Took a drive by this afternoon. The crane is still attached at the top but the stage is sitting on its legs; the jacks have been removed.  The engine bells also have covers on them at the moment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 08/21/2016 10:44 PM
Pretty decent wash job.  I wonder how long the current paint and logos will last in the local environment before everything starts to flake, peel, and fade.

I wonder if SpaceX is taking the opportunity to get some useful data on various paint/logo formulations/treatments? After all, you don't want to waste money constantly repainting etc if you can avoid it!

Might not have wide applicability; but then again, might not cost much to experiment either.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 08/21/2016 11:21 PM
If doesn't have to launch again, there are descent outdoor paints at home depot...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 08/22/2016 01:27 AM
If doesn't have to launch again, there are descent outdoor paints at home depot...

Well, it's certainly the descent paints they'll be looking for!  :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 08/22/2016 01:46 AM
ouch.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JMS on 08/22/2016 04:19 AM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: LastStarFighter on 08/22/2016 04:38 AM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.

Which reports? The images (linked earlier) seem to show Jack stands.

http://lhopkins.com/2016/08/20/first-stage-installation-day/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JMS on 08/22/2016 04:57 AM
On their facebook page, it was stated that the jacks were removed once the legs were in place.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/22/2016 06:14 AM
If doesn't have to launch again, there are descent outdoor paints at home depot...

Why Home Depot? There must be someone at the SX CTO's side business at Fremont that have some expertise in outdoor paints for external metal surfaces. :P
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 08/22/2016 06:26 AM
If doesn't have to launch again, there are descent outdoor paints at home depot...

Why Home Depot? There must be someone at the SX CTO's side business at Fremont that have some expertise in outdoor paints for external metal surfaces.
There you go...

I just didn't understand the worry about the paint job.

Bird shit, ok, that I get.  Maybe one of those magic no-stick coatings you see on youTube will help....  I always wondered if they work on non-youTube birds...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: docmordrid on 08/22/2016 07:41 AM
If doesn't have to launch again, there are descent outdoor paints at home depot...

Why Home Depot? There must be someone at the SX CTO's side business at Fremont that have some expertise in outdoor paints for external metal surfaces. :P

Why indeed; Lowe's and Target are across Crenshaw from their HQ ;)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: woods170 on 08/22/2016 08:17 AM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 08/22/2016 12:52 PM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.

Perhaps, but they're not good enough for "keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea" which is why they use the jacks and weld them to the deck ASAP after landing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RedSky on 08/22/2016 01:52 PM
Not sure why all the worry about paint, weather, and lightning, etc.  Except for earthquakes, the LA Area is a far more benign environment than Florida.  KSC has 6 months of extreme humidity, near constant aerosol salt spray,  frequent high thunderstorm winds, torrential downpours,  lots of lightning, and an occasional Tropical Storm or Hurricane, and they manage to keep the Rocket Garden display looking good:
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Nomadd on 08/22/2016 02:41 PM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.

Perhaps, but they're not good enough for "keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea" which is why they use the jacks and weld them to the deck ASAP after landing.

The first stage to land on a barge wouldn't have survived if that was true. It was pitching and rolling in the wind pretty good during and after landing. They obviously weren't going to tow it in like that, but the legs did the job until the crew got there to anchor it.
 Granted, there might still be reasons you wouldn't want to leave the stage solely on the legs permanently.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: oiorionsbelt on 08/22/2016 03:02 PM

 Granted, there might still be reasons you wouldn't want to leave the stage solely on the legs permanently.
It wouldn't 'look right' if it were supported by jack stands.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RedSky on 08/22/2016 04:26 PM
First good pic I've seen of it standing on its own legs with the engines in plain view (i.e., no jacks):
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 08/22/2016 04:44 PM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.

Perhaps, but they're not good enough for "keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea" which is why they use the jacks and weld them to the deck ASAP after landing.

The first stage to land on a barge wouldn't have survived if that was true. It was pitching and rolling in the wind pretty good during and after landing. They obviously weren't going to tow it in like that, but the legs did the job until the crew got there to anchor it.
 Granted, there might still be reasons you wouldn't want to leave the stage solely on the legs permanently.
The one that skittered across the deck demonstrated that the legs themselves are insufficient to secure the stage at sea. "Until the crew got there" is not "keeping", that's the point. Sure the legs are good to land on and hold it up, but they are not intended to be the sole support at sea.

The legs alone may well be sufficient for Hawthorne, but the fact that they were landed on at sea, (and then given help ASAP) is insufficient justification to say so.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 08/22/2016 04:46 PM
my worry is not whether they can take the load now but rather if they can take the load continuously for years and years, as the materials deteriorate.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: docmordrid on 08/22/2016 04:59 PM
Odds are the legs and mounts are "rigidified" and their feet bolted to the slab.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 08/22/2016 05:42 PM
Odds are the legs and mounts are "rigidified" and their feet bolted to the slab.

That's a fairly safe bet....
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JMS on 08/22/2016 06:26 PM
Interesting that I did see on one of the close-up shots of the struts... on the ground prior to installation, that they were marked "flown articles."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 08/22/2016 06:32 PM
Interesting that I did see on one of the close-up shots of the struts... on the ground prior to installation, that they were marked "flown articles."
Saw that also, but I wouldn't be surprised if the crush core had been replaced with a solid/rigid one.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: woods170 on 08/22/2016 06:48 PM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.

Perhaps, but they're not good enough for "keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea" which is why they use the jacks and weld them to the deck ASAP after landing.

No, not quite. The chains that are welded to the deck are there to prevent the stage from sliding off the deck. However, the chains are put under tension to such an extend that the legs alone no longer suffice. That's why jacks are placed underneath the stage.
Given that the stage at Hawthorne is in no danger of sliding off a deck, there is no need to secure the stage in place via chains and jacks. The legs alone are adequate enough.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: woods170 on 08/22/2016 07:00 PM
my worry is not whether they can take the load now but rather if they can take the load continuously for years and years, as the materials deteriorate.
A used-car dealership in my home town has had a load bearing carbon fibre pole sitting out in the open, exposed to the elements for the past 29 years. The prime material of that pole (a painted-over moisture resistant carbon fibre reinforced polymer) hasn't degraded one d*mn bit, despite the lousy climate here.
Given that SpaceX has those legs made from aerospace-grade CFRP and other UV and corrossion resistant materials, I'm not too worried about materials deterioration anytime soon.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 08/22/2016 08:20 PM
Am I reading these reports correctly that this stage is supported only by the landing legs? Seems there should be something more substantial for long term display.
If the legs alone are good enough for absorbing the impact of landing and subsequently keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea then they should be more than good enough for keeping the stage upright on a solid piece of concrete in Hawthorne. All that needs to be done is to anchor the legs to the ground.

Perhaps, but they're not good enough for "keeping the stage upright on a rolling platform in a gusty sea" which is why they use the jacks and weld them to the deck ASAP after landing.

No, not quite. The chains that are welded to the deck are there to prevent the stage from sliding off the deck. However, the chains are put under tension to such an extend that the legs alone no longer suffice. That's why jacks are placed underneath the stage.
Given that the stage at Hawthorne is in no danger of sliding off a deck, there is no need to secure the stage in place via chains and jacks. The legs alone are adequate enough.
Not a given.

ps I never said more was necessarily needed in Hawthorne, just that the ASDS conditions are insufficient to prove that. They have numbers. None of this discussion supports a bad analogy.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 08/23/2016 01:46 AM
my worry is not whether they can take the load now but rather if they can take the load continuously for years and years, as the materials deteriorate.
A used-car dealership in my home town has had a load bearing carbon fibre pole sitting out in the open, exposed to the elements for the past 29 years. The prime material of that pole (a painted-over moisture resistant carbon fibre reinforced polymer) hasn't degraded one d*mn bit, despite the lousy climate here.
Given that SpaceX has those legs made from aerospace-grade CFRP and other UV and corrossion resistant materials, I'm not too worried about materials deterioration anytime soon.

well that's awesome to hear. :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 08/23/2016 02:57 AM
my worry is not whether [the legs] can take the load now but rather if they can take the load continuously for years and years, as the materials deteriorate.

Good experiment then. After all, the MCT's legs may possibly have to do so, so it would possibly be useful to get some data as to how the current design performs over such a period. And you can always install additional support at a later date.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: llanitedave on 08/23/2016 04:13 AM
Not sure why all the worry about paint, weather, and lightning, etc.  Except for earthquakes, the LA Area is a far more benign environment than Florida.  KSC has 6 months of extreme humidity, near constant aerosol salt spray,  frequent high thunderstorm winds, torrential downpours,  lots of lightning, and an occasional Tropical Storm or Hurricane, and they manage to keep the Rocket Garden display looking good:

Bolded is not a trivial concern.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 08/23/2016 04:22 AM

Odds are the legs and mounts are "rigidified" and their feet bolted to the slab.
Exactly what I was going to say.

I'd lay heavy odds that the pistons are no longer "stock landers"...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/13/2016 10:21 PM
Cross-posting as very relevant here too:

Quote
Hoffman: took one of the Falcon 9 landed boosters to Texas; fired it 7 times so far with no refurbishment. #AIAASpace
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775815358812782593 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775815358812782593)

Quote
Hoffman: expect to take a couple years to refine the refurb process and costs. See “significant” cost savings in a few years. #AIAASpace
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775816294234857474 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/775816294234857474)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Proponent on 09/30/2016 04:10 PM
While speculation is popular and is often justified by the absence of facts, there ARE some facts available. 

In an interesting article, space historian David Portree cites a study that looked at the refurbishment costs of the X-15 program that provides probably the most relevant real-world data we have:


"In November 1966, James Love and William Young, engineers at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, completed a brief report in which they noted that the reusable suborbital booster for a reusable orbital spacecraft would undergo pressures, heating rates, and accelerations very similar to those the X-15 experienced."

"The average X-15 refurbishment time was 30 days, a period which had, they noted, hardly changed in four years. Even with identifiable improvements, they doubted that an X-15 could be refurbished in fewer than 20 days.

"At the same time, Love and Young argued that the X-15 program had demonstrated the benefits of reusability. They estimated that refurbishing an X-15 in 1964 had cost about $270,000 per mission.

"Love and Young cited North American Aviation estimates when they placed the cost of a new X-15 at about $9 million. They then calculated that 27 missions using expendable X-15s would have cost a total of $243 million. This meant, they wrote, that the cost of the reusable X-15 program in 1964 had amounted to just 3% of the cost of building 27 X-15s and throwing each one away after a single flight.

My bold.


http://www.wired.com/2013/05/the-x-15-rocket-plane-reusable-space-shuttle-boosters-1966/

Love's and Young's report, NASA TN D-3732, is attached.

The reason I reanimate this old topic is that I recently came across the version of TN D-3732 that was presented a couple of months later as paper number 670394 (http://papers.sae.org/670394/) at the Society of Automotive Engineers' 1967 Space Technology Conference.

The differences between the initial report and the conference paper are small but striking.  The note concluded (my bold):

Quote from: Love & Young in NASA TN D-3732
The X-15 program has provided more than 5 years of actual flight experience from which data on operations and costs for a reusable space vehicle can be obtained.  The information applicable to reusable space vehicles has been presented in this paper, but not attempt has been made to determine how the information should be applied to future studies.

In 1964, 27 X-15 flights were accomplished at a total cost of $16,268,000.  The average cost per flight has been more than $602,000, and the average turnaround time has been 30 days per mission.  Both of these factors are greater than estimates for a reusable booster, because of the research nature of the X-15 program and because the X-15 airplane is equivalent to a prototype vehicle.  An estimated 33-precent reduction in turnaround time and a proportionate cost reduction would result fro the elimination of the X-15 research requirement.  And additional reduction in turnaround time would have resulted if a product-improvement phase had been undertaken.  Even so, the present estimates and extrapolations for future reusable boosters and orbital space vehicles appear to be overly optimistic in comparison to the actual X-15 experience, especially in the length of time required for turnaround.

The conference paper, on the other hand, concludes (again, my bold) that

Quote from: Love & Young in SAE Paper Conference Paper 670394
The X-15, through 7 years of actual flight experience, has provided data which can be used as a basis for estimating operational costs of reusable space vehicles.  The 32 flights accomplished in 1965 cost $13.017 million or $407,000 per flight and represent about 8 percent of the initial program cost.  The high reuse of the X-15 indicates a 10- to 15-day turnaround time for first-generation reusable space vehicles.

The X-15 has shown that realistic specifications and environmental conditions must be established as early in a project as possible, and specifications must be adhered to during acceptance testing and revised when found to be inappropriate.  Also, a component-improvement program coupled with a timely and practical deficiency reporting system has been shown to be necessary for any new type of vehicle program regardless of its original anticipated project life

(again, emphasis added).  In other words, the principal conclusion was reversed between internal technical report and conference paper!

We know, of course, how things panned out in the long run.  Consistent with the conference paper, a 14-day turnaround time was promised for the first-generation reusable space vehicle, the Shuttle.  In reality, turnaround times were even longer than the 30 days mentioned in internal report.

EDIT:  Corrected a typo and designation of technical report.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 09/30/2016 11:27 PM
We know, of course, how things panned out in the long run.  Consistent with the conference paper, a 14-day turnaround time was promised for the first-generation reusable space vehicle, the Shuttle.  In reality, turnaround times were even longer than the 30 days mentioned in internal report.
Irrelevant. Shuttle was not a reusable booster. Completely different requirements.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Proponent on 10/01/2016 10:56 AM
In TN D-3732, Love and Young suggest that an improved X-15 might be turned around in about 20 days.  If it takes 20 days to turn around an aircraft that goes merely to Mach 6 or 80 km, but not both on the same flight, how could one possibly hope to turn a much larger Shuttle orbiter around in 14 days after a flight to Mach 25 and over 200 km?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Hobbes-22 on 10/01/2016 11:41 AM
Advances in science and engineering? Just because the first attempt at a reusable spaceplane needed more work than expected, doesn't mean the X-15 schedule has to be the only possible approach.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Proponent on 10/02/2016 01:41 PM
One would certainly hope that given enough time, the technology could be improved over the X-15's.  But surely there wasn't much time for that between November 1966, when TN D-3732 appeared, and February 1967, when the SAE conference took place.  Even extending the horizon to 1971, when the Shuttle's design was hammered out, I don't see what the basis was for going from the X-15's 30-day turnarounds to the Shuttle's supposed 14-day turnarounds, since no successor research vehicle to the X-15 was developed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RanulfC on 10/03/2016 05:39 PM
Something to keep in mind when discussing the X-15 versus the Shuttle that while the X-15 was supposed to be reusable it was NOT designed for quick turn-around which was precluded not only by the fact it was an experimental vehicle it was specifically designed to experiment with materials reactions at both high velocity and altitude.

The Shuttle on the other hand was in fact designed with a goal being shorter turn around time by various means including using advanced technology over the X-15. On the other hand cost and other factors drove certain compromises on the design and with no follow up 'reusable' vehicle data from the X-15 to orbital speed and back some assumptions were made. It all added up to precluding the original Shuttle turn around time from being anywhere near realistic.

No small amount of hubris led those who pushed the Shuttle to assume with what they thought was good reasons that they had sufficiently advanced technology and knowledge to design and construct an operational reusable spacecraft with at least near the capabilities stated. Really there was more work to be done.

Booster and upper stages are going to have different requirements and these are going to drive refurbishment times and costs. It remains to be seen what that will end up being.

Randy
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: enzo on 03/12/2017 08:48 PM
I think SpaceX should be open about how much of the stage was replaced or rebuilt before announcing any world records. I am going to call this the Stage of Theseus until we know what happened during those 4 months.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: winkhomewinkhome on 03/13/2017 05:04 AM
I think SpaceX should be open about how much of the stage was replaced or rebuilt before announcing any world records. I am going to call this the Stage of Theseus until we know what happened during those 4 months.

Simple question, not to say that I am not also curious - why?

And in terms of relative comparison, has Blue Origin?  If they did I honestly missed it...

Thank you -
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: enzo on 03/13/2017 06:53 AM
I think SpaceX should be open about how much of the stage was replaced or rebuilt before announcing any world records. I am going to call this the Stage of Theseus until we know what happened during those 4 months.
Simple question, not to say that I am not also curious - why?

And in terms of relative comparison, has Blue Origin?  If they did I honestly missed it...

Thank you -
I believe Bezos tweeted about his first reuse and there was a small skirmish with Musk over the scale of the achievement. This has all been discussed ad nauseum. Jim has extensively pointed out that the Shuttle was in some sense the first reused orbital stage.

What I'm saying is that there's a lot of hype over this flight, while we are not really sure to what extent it will be any more remarkable than, say, a space shuttle flight. Knowing Musk he will tweet out something about it being the first orbital booster reuse. But if it was subject to an extensive rebuild, then it is not unlike the Ship of Theseus, that is, not the same ship it once was.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mlow on 03/13/2017 08:13 AM
Well we know the engines came off for one.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/13/2017 09:18 AM
There is nothing about this flight that is greatly indicative of the viability of SpaceX's reuse plans beyond broadly validating that the Falcon-9 booster can fly twice. It will be some time before the reconditioning process is streamlined enough to demonstrate whether the promised cost savings will actually happen.

That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history (irrespective of its economic details) isn't something to sniff at derisively!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 12:15 PM
Well we know the engines came off for one.

Based on what?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/13/2017 12:22 PM
I think SpaceX should be open about how much of the stage was replaced or rebuilt before announcing any world records. I am going to call this the Stage of Theseus until we know what happened during those 4 months.
Simple question, not to say that I am not also curious - why?

And in terms of relative comparison, has Blue Origin?  If they did I honestly missed it...

Thank you -
I believe Bezos tweeted about his first reuse and there was a small skirmish with Musk over the scale of the achievement. This has all been discussed ad nauseum. Jim has extensively pointed out that the Shuttle was in some sense the first reused orbital stage.

What I'm saying is that there's a lot of hype over this flight, while we are not really sure to what extent it will be any more remarkable than, say, a space shuttle flight. Knowing Musk he will tweet out something about it being the first orbital booster reuse. But if it was subject to an extensive rebuild, then it is not unlike the Ship of Theseus, that is, not the same ship it once was.

For a launch of a young booster to be comparable to a shuttle flight is no small praise.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: douglas100 on 03/13/2017 12:28 PM

...That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history...

You mean the Shuttle SRB's weren't boosters and were never reused? And what about New Shepard's booster?

Quote
It will be some time before the reconditioning process is streamlined enough to demonstrate whether the promised cost savings will actually happen.

Yep, this is the important point, not who had the first reusable booster. But we simply don't know how much SpaceX has learned about the economics of reuse so far.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/13/2017 12:32 PM

...That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history...

You mean the Shuttle SRB's weren't boosters and were never reused? And what about New Shepard's booster?

I don't believe that New Shepherd's booster has flown yet, only the hydrolox upper stage. As for the SRBs, weren't they melted down and recast? At the very least, the only  thing recovered were the propellent casings and parachute securing points.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: abaddon on 03/13/2017 12:40 PM

...That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history...

You mean the Shuttle SRB's weren't boosters and were never reused?
Uhoh, now you've done it...last time I suggested that [edit: to clarify, I stated that the Shuttle SRBs were reusable boosters] it resulted in a very long and unproductive discussion.
Quote
And what about New Shepard's booster?
I think it's helpful to mentally add "orbital class" in the discussion here.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/13/2017 12:42 PM

...That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history...

You mean the Shuttle SRB's weren't boosters and were never reused? And what about New Shepard's booster?

I don't believe that New Shepherd's booster has flown yet, only the hydrolox upper stage.

Um, what? New Shepherd is their hydrolox suborbital VTVL vehicle. It's already reflown and performed an in-flight abort test of their capsule.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rpapo on 03/13/2017 12:43 PM
I don't believe that New Shepherd's booster has flown yet, only the hydrolox upper stage.
AFAIK, New Shepherd never will have a 'booster', as you seem to be thinking of it.  It is a single stage suborbital hydrolox rocket, a rather strange, over-engineered combination enabled by the particular talent set the DC-X team brought with them.

Most of us would think of a hydrolox rocket as being useful as a second or third stage.  And it may have been serving as a step in evolving such a thing, except that Blue Origin pivoted and chose to pursue methalox instead.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: douglas100 on 03/13/2017 12:48 PM
...I don't believe that New Shepherd's booster has flown yet, only the hydrolox upper stage...

Yes it has, multiple times. You seem to be confusing New Shepard with New Glenn.

Quote
...As for the SRBs, weren't they melted down and recast? At the very least, the only  thing recovered were the propellent casings and parachute securing points.

No, the cases were refurbished and refilled with solid propellant. They were most certainly reused. But it doesn't matter who was "first." The point is, will reusing F9 and FH cores save money, and enough to make it worthwhile? Personally I believe it will, based on no insight whatsoever. But I'll bet SpaceX will keep the numbers to themselves.
EDIT: fixed quotes
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 12:52 PM
I think SpaceX should be open about how much of the stage was replaced or rebuilt before announcing any world records. I am going to call this the Stage of Theseus until we know what happened during those 4 months.
Simple question, not to say that I am not also curious - why?

And in terms of relative comparison, has Blue Origin?  If they did I honestly missed it...

Thank you -
I believe Bezos tweeted about his first reuse and there was a small skirmish with Musk over the scale of the achievement. This has all been discussed ad nauseum. Jim has extensively pointed out that the Shuttle was in some sense the first reused orbital stage.

What I'm saying is that there's a lot of hype over this flight, while we are not really sure to what extent it will be any more remarkable than, say, a space shuttle flight. Knowing Musk he will tweet out something about it being the first orbital booster reuse. But if it was subject to an extensive rebuild, then it is not unlike the Ship of Theseus, that is, not the same ship it once was.

In many ways it is far less remarkable than a Space Shuttle flight. The Falcon 9 itself is tiny compared to a STS stack. There are no people on board, no Orbiter coming back, no on-orbit operations. Just a commsat going to GTO.

The only interesting thing about this flight is the first time a particular first stage will launch a second time on an orbital flight.

That's true regardless of how much refurbishment it had (unless they took apart the airframe and replaced lot of it, which they didn't).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rockets4life97 on 03/13/2017 12:56 PM
Considering that it takes a year or so to make a Stage 1 booster, 4 months of refurbishment seems like it should cost less than making a new one. If that is the case, SpaceX is already making more profit on this launch.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 01:05 PM

...That said, the first reusable booster in US spaceflight history...

You mean the Shuttle SRB's weren't boosters and were never reused?

Yes they were, and no they were not. Falcon 9 will fly the same main stage repeatedly. Shuttle did not.The SRB parts were used to make new SRBs, which is very different in practice than what Falcon 9 is designed to do.

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 03/13/2017 01:07 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 01:32 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first

I have a hard time calling something that doesn't carry it's own fuel and can't get off the ground by itself a main stage. What Columbia did (orbit and back while and carrying people!) was far more impressive but obviously quite different than the Falcon 9 booster.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: woods170 on 03/13/2017 01:39 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first

I have a hard time calling something that doesn't carry it's own fuel and can't get off the ground by itself a main stage. What Columbia did (orbit and back while and carrying people!) was far more impressive but obviously quite different than the Falcon 9 booster.
No, Jim is correct. The orbiter, along with the ET was the main stage of STS. The only difference from a "regular" rocket is that upon MECO the tankage was separated from the propulsion unit.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/13/2017 01:39 PM
How about a completely intact and independent stage. In other words what goes up is what comes down. Of course minus fuel.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 01:44 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first

I have a hard time calling something that doesn't carry it's own fuel and can't get off the ground by itself a main stage. What Columbia did (orbit and back while and carrying people!) was far more impressive but obviously quite different than the Falcon 9 booster.
No, Jim is correct. The orbiter, along with the ET was the main stage of STS. The only difference from a "regular" rocket is that upon MECO the tankage was separated from the propulsion unit.

That definition is fine, but Columbia never re-flew an ET. So SES-10 is still the first re-flight of an orbital main stage, just not the first re-flight of the propulsion section of a orbital main stage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: eriblo on 03/13/2017 03:43 PM
Regarding 4 months of refurbish: another data point is ORBCOMM-2, which IIRC landed on 2015-12-22, was back in the hangar on 2016-12-31 and out again on the pad 2016-01-14 for a static fire a day or two later. So 1+2 weeks of work maximum. Sure, they had likely only done the bare minimum and the firing was not 100% successful, but I doubt they would have risked the pad instead of taking another few weeks if needed (even before AMOS-6).

My guess is that they are simply going full out on this one - aiming for everything to look as good or better than when the stage came in for its first flight. The longer time might also be a sign of them keeping as much of the original parts as possible, they could have switched out all the engines for new ones in a week if they wanted to.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/13/2017 04:06 PM
I don't think that the engines are a problem for a static fire, presuming that there is no damage to the plumbing or tank integrity. The issue is more overall soundness of the vehicle: Will the stage survive prolonged vibrations (IIRC, the main engine burn is ~150 seconds) plus the aerodynamic stresses transit through various atmospheric layers (in both directions) up to hypersonic speeds, both powered and unpowered? I can't blame SpaceX for checking every rivet and every joint twice at a microscopic level (and possibly with an x-ray) before risking a paying customer's payload!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lee Jay on 03/13/2017 04:19 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first

I have a hard time calling something that doesn't carry it's own fuel and can't get off the ground by itself a main stage. What Columbia did (orbit and back while and carrying people!) was far more impressive but obviously quite different than the Falcon 9 booster.
No, Jim is correct. The orbiter, along with the ET was the main stage of STS. The only difference from a "regular" rocket is that upon MECO the tankage was separated from the propulsion unit.

That definition is fine, but Columbia never re-flew an ET. So SES-10 is still the first re-flight of an orbital main stage, just not the first re-flight of the propulsion section of a orbital main stage.

STS's first stage is the SRBs.  They were reflown.
STS's second stage is the ET + SSME's.  The SSME's were reflown.
STS's third stage is the OMS system.  It was reflown.

I would argue that the conversion from STS to Falcon looks like this:

SRBs = Falcon 9 first stage
ET = Falcon 9 second stage tank
SSME's = MVAC
OMS system (and orbiter) = Dragon.

So, STS did one thing Falcon 9 will never do (re-fly second stage propulsion system), and STS did everything Falcon 9 will soon do (hopefully), with the exception of the first-stage landing destination (sea versus barge or land).  Someday, hopefully, Dragon will make its first land landing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/13/2017 04:33 PM
@Lee Jay,

I disagree but this isn't the place.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 05:35 PM

This will be the first RE-FLIGHT of an orbital main stage.

No, Columbia qualifies as the first

I have a hard time calling something that doesn't carry it's own fuel and can't get off the ground by itself a main stage. What Columbia did (orbit and back while and carrying people!) was far more impressive but obviously quite different than the Falcon 9 booster.
No, Jim is correct. The orbiter, along with the ET was the main stage of STS. The only difference from a "regular" rocket is that upon MECO the tankage was separated from the propulsion unit.

That definition is fine, but Columbia never re-flew an ET. So SES-10 is still the first re-flight of an orbital main stage, just not the first re-flight of the propulsion section of a orbital main stage.

STS's first stage is the SRBs.  They were reflown.
STS's second stage is the ET + SSME's.  The SSME's were reflown.
STS's third stage is the OMS system.  It was reflown.

I would argue that the conversion from STS to Falcon looks like this:

SRBs = Falcon 9 first stage
ET = Falcon 9 second stage tank
SSME's = MVAC
OMS system (and orbiter) = Dragon.

So, STS did one thing Falcon 9 will never do (re-fly second stage propulsion system), and STS did everything Falcon 9 will soon do (hopefully), with the exception of the first-stage landing destination (sea versus barge or land).  Someday, hopefully, Dragon will make its first land landing.

I don't think a particular Shuttle solid booster assembly was ever re-flown. The "airframe" was disassembled into segments, which were refurbished and had propellant re-cast, and new SRBs (complete with new serial numbers) were built out of new and refurbished components. In theory they could have reassembled all the same components and have the "same" booster (and even given it the same serial number), but I don't think that ever actually happened (particularly the serial number part). The process actually worked better by NOT re-flying a particular assembly, and is in large part why SRB reuse wasn't cost-effective.

Exactly what Falcon 9 refurbishment consists of isn't clear yet, but it's intended to get as close to gas-n-go as reasonably possible. Replacing engines and other components will happen, but I can't see them completely disassembling the airframe between flights as a matter of course. SpaceX apparently isn't even bothering to rebuild Block 3 and 4 boosters into Block 5's.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 03/13/2017 05:41 PM
SRBs = Atlas V SRMs=F9 N/A
ET/Orbiter = Atlas V core= F9 core
SSME's = RD-180= 9 Merlins
OMS system  = Centaur= F9 second stage
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mn on 03/13/2017 05:50 PM
I hope this is the right thread for my two cents on this whole 'first to be reused' argument.

Cent 1: I think it's fair to say that SES-10 would be the first time 'something' that is typically discarded will be reused, and this 'something' happens to cost lots of money to build. It is definitely a significant step, regardless of how many other 'things' have been reused in the past.

Cent 2: It's too early to tell (at least to those of us without inside information) whether this will be cost effective in the long term.

Hopefully this is something everyone can agree on.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 03/13/2017 06:04 PM
I'll throw in my 2 cents as well. There have been many pieces of space hardware reused in the past and whether F9S1 is more or less noteworthy than, say, STS is debatable (though so far F9S1 is clearly a smaller achievement than STS IMHO FWIW).

What IS noteworthy about F9S1 is that it is the first time an ENTIRE purpose built first stage including all engines and tankage that were used for the first leg of flight will be recovered from an operational, orbital mission and reused for such. It is also noteworthy that this is the first time something anything like this has been developed on an orbital scale in decades, and that it is a commercial endeavour (yes, NASA was instrumental, but they never asked for F9S1 reuse).

History will ask whether it becomes operational and economical, which we simply don't know yet. Every step toward that (GH, GH2, Orb2, SES-10, etc.) is a good sign though, and that is why we get excited.

SRBs = Atlas V SRMs=F9 N/A
ET/Orbiter = Atlas V core= F9 core
SSME's = RD-180= 9 Merlins
OMS system  = Centaur= F9 second stage

Edits for clarification bolded.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: jcliving on 03/13/2017 06:28 PM
My "2 cents" statement is the past while interesting is a moot point.  The reuse of an active launch platform is important.  A cost effective method for reuse of an active launch platform would be a significant achievement.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 03/13/2017 07:31 PM
Returning to Shuttle for a moment - STS-1 was a narrow thing, with lots of learning for the launch system, orbiter, and recovery of vehicle. It was a laboratory experiment, where we learned more of "what not to do".

Would not begrudge SX/BO on early reuse here. NS/F9 are the smallest reusable booster systems ever, and the margins are the smallest they'll ever be. Flight history here tells you much in the puzzle of "how you thought it would work" vs "how it works".

"Waterfall" and "agile" play this quite differently from my direct observation. Typically waterfall is looking for adequate margins against design validation. Agile on the other hand has a bunch of stochastic guesses where they were under/over margin.

What I like about the first is adherence to schedule/pressure (some may say "hide bound") . What I like about the second is that you get more exposure to pushing the bounds beyond the firsts implied "safe limits" (some may say "reckless").

So those four months of reprocessing ... does it result in a vehicle that achieves rapid reuse (e.g. less than a week) ... or just three months of reprocessing? The former is likely economic, the latter is not. And why Shuttle taught us all to doubt economic reuse.

That's how to "grade" effectiveness IMHO.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: spacenut on 03/13/2017 07:39 PM
Will the processing time decrease with experience?  This was the first one, and they probably went over everything with a fine toothed comb.  That might not be necessary in the future.  Refurbishing the shuttle and rebuilding the solid rockets was a wash, so it didn't decrease costs.  Don't yet know if refurbishing a F9 stage will be cost effective, as wash, or actually decrease costs.  If it decreases costs by just 25% it would be worth it.  I think it will be more, and if the rocket can be reused multiple times, then it decreases even more.  There will come a point where too many times and it will not be cost effective as more parts wear out.   
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 03/13/2017 08:45 PM
(Not an expert)

SSME and M1D have huge fundamental differences- propellant being an obvious one, but also a completely different engine cycle. So the actual components are doing different jobs, a bit like the difference between a petrol and a diesel engine. SSME was also designed in the 70s, Merlin can draw on another three decades of development (perhaps not as big an advantage as it should be)

I don't personally know what refurbishing each of these engines entails, but a few points to consider:
1) where do you draw the line between refurb and inspection? You might not replace a component, but you might still want to whip it out and check e.g. tolerance on a bearing seal.
2) There will be a trade between the hassle and cost if inspection/refurb, and the hassle and cost of engine failure. That scale will be weighted massively in favour of not losing the vehicle.
3) There may also (and I'm starting to speculate a little here) be a trade between cost, performance, and service intervals. Is it worth building a no-refurb engine if it comes at the cost of performance loss? Would you buy a car that didn't need refuelled until the next service interval- of course not, that would mean driving around lugging 20,000 miles worth of fuel with you. Absurd example but I hope it illustrates the point.
SSME was designed in a pre CFD, pre CAD world, when Supercomputing power was measured in MIPS, today its measured in 6+ orders of magnitude higher.
SSME was designed with reuse in mind but not with economic reuse as an essential goal.
The technical resources SpaceX has put on Merlin and on Raptor towards reuse is orders of magnitude more effective.
Being skeptical is free in general, but I believe being skeptical at SX efforts towards reuse is also being foolish.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vanoord on 03/13/2017 09:08 PM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/14/2017 03:02 AM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
And since you seem to have insight into SpaceX's cost structure: how much of these 2mil are fixed costs (tooling, minimum staff,...) that you don't save on if you build one less?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: MP99 on 03/14/2017 09:10 AM
Returning to Shuttle for a moment - STS-1 was a narrow thing, with lots of learning for the launch system, orbiter, and recovery of vehicle. It was a laboratory experiment, where we learned more of "what not to do".

Would not begrudge SX/BO on early reuse here. NS/F9 are the smallest reusable booster systems ever, and the margins are the smallest they'll ever be. Flight history here tells you much in the puzzle of "how you thought it would work" vs "how it works".

"Waterfall" and "agile" play this quite differently from my direct observation. Typically waterfall is looking for adequate margins against design validation. Agile on the other hand has a bunch of stochastic guesses where they were under/over margin.

What I like about the first is adherence to schedule/pressure (some may say "hide bound") . What I like about the second is that you get more exposure to pushing the bounds beyond the firsts implied "safe limits" (some may say "reckless").

So those four months of reprocessing ... does it result in a vehicle that achieves rapid reuse (e.g. less than a week) ... or just three months of reprocessing? The former is likely economic, the latter is not. And why Shuttle taught us all to doubt economic reuse.

That's how to "grade" effectiveness IMHO.

Previous booster designers have had to design with margin, and then rely on telemetry and failure investigations to validate those margins.

I wonder to what extent block 5 is matured based on inspecting the actual flown stage? It seems to fit well with the agile methodology.

Cheers, Martin

Edit: better > well.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vanoord on 03/14/2017 11:35 AM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
And since you seem to have insight into SpaceX's cost structure: how much of these 2mil are fixed costs (tooling, minimum staff,...) that you don't save on if you build one less?

No idea  :)

Given that the engines appear able to be re-used with minimal work - the JCSAT-14 core has (apparently) had 8 (?) full-duration firings since recovery - that *suggests* there is value in recovered engines?

The proposed Vulcan recovery method also suggests that engines are the driving force behind recovery and re-use.

From a personal - and yes, uninformed - point of view, I suspect we may see re-use of stages a lot fewer times than is currently being touted, e.g. two or three uses in Recovery mode, then a final flight in Expendable configuration. That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/14/2017 11:51 AM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
And since you seem to have insight into SpaceX's cost structure: how much of these 2mil are fixed costs (tooling, minimum staff,...) that you don't save on if you build one less?

No idea  :)

Given that the engines appear able to be re-used with minimal work - the JCSAT-14 core has (apparently) had 8 (?) full-duration firings since recovery - that *suggests* there is value in recovered engines?

The proposed Vulcan recovery method also suggests that engines are the driving force behind recovery and re-use.

From a personal - and yes, uninformed - point of view, I suspect we may see re-use of stages a lot fewer times than is currently being touted, e.g. two or three uses in Recovery mode, then a final flight in Expendable configuration. That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Rocket = aluminium alloy tube with Things bolted on to it.

Things = Engines, grid fins, hydraulics, legs, plus some electronics and connectors, some pipes 'n stuff.

Really Expensive things subset = engines, legs.

To me, the cost of the engines is the major component of the cost of the stage. Recovering them seems a no brainer, however you do it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/14/2017 12:48 PM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
And since you seem to have insight into SpaceX's cost structure: how much of these 2mil are fixed costs (tooling, minimum staff,...) that you don't save on if you build one less?

No idea  :)

Given that the engines appear able to be re-used with minimal work - the JCSAT-14 core has (apparently) had 8 (?) full-duration firings since recovery - that *suggests* there is value in recovered engines?

The proposed Vulcan recovery method also suggests that engines are the driving force behind recovery and re-use.

From a personal - and yes, uninformed - point of view, I suspect we may see re-use of stages a lot fewer times than is currently being touted, e.g. two or three uses in Recovery mode, then a final flight in Expendable configuration. That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Rocket = aluminium alloy tube with Things bolted on to it.

Things = Engines, grid fins, hydraulics, legs, plus some electronics and connectors, some pipes 'n stuff.

Really Expensive things subset = engines, legs.

To me, the cost of the engines is the major component of the cost of the stage. Recovering them seems a no brainer, however you do it.

Also I expect man-hours to refurbish to be a big ticket item at least at first. Once they know what doesn't have to be checked each launch the human costs should go down considerably. This is the big advantage that recovering a complete stage has over just the engines (like ula) or everything but the tank like the shuttle. They will always require "some assembly required".
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lee Jay on 03/14/2017 01:42 PM
SRBs = Falcon 9 first stage
ET = Falcon 9 second stage tank
SSME's = MVAC
OMS system (and orbiter) = Dragon.

Since people disagree, I guess I should explain my thinking.

The STS SRBs are both tank and engine (like Falcon 9 stage 1) which provide most of the thrust for first-stage flight and which stage at about the same speed at which the Falcon 9 first stage separates from the second stage when Falcon is used in reusable mode.

The ET and SSME's each achieve orbital velocity, just like the Falcon 9 second stage and the MVac.  This is an enormously higher speed than SRB staging/Falcon stage 1 sep.

The orbiter and its OMS pods do the same thing as Dragon and its RCS system - allow small delta-V changes on orbit to the cargo/person carrying system, and achieve re-entry.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/14/2017 01:44 PM
Yes the engines are the most costly part of a booster.  However, the cost of the entire booster as an assembly that doesn't need to be rebuilt and transported across the country is a huge savings too.

It may take SpaceX another 4-5 years to get to 10+ flights per core and a 1-2 month turn around, which will still be worth it.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mn on 03/14/2017 01:54 PM
... So those four months of reprocessing ...

Where does this reference to four months of processing come from? Did SpaceX tell us how much time went into 'processing' and how long the stage was just sitting there?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: whitelancer64 on 03/14/2017 02:04 PM
... So those four months of reprocessing ...

Where does this reference to four months of processing come from? Did SpaceX tell us how much time went into 'processing' and how long the stage was just sitting there?

Peter B. de Selding‏ of Space Intel Report:
Shotwell: Took us 4 months to refurbish the stage that we'll refly at end of this month. Going forward, it'll be sub that.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/839598801375608832
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mn on 03/14/2017 02:06 PM
... So those four months of reprocessing ...

Where does this reference to four months of processing come from? Did SpaceX tell us how much time went into 'processing' and how long the stage was just sitting there?

Peter B. de Selding‏ of Space Intel Report:
Shotwell: Took us 4 months to refurbish the stage that we'll refly at end of this month. Going forward, it'll be sub that.

Missed that. Thank you
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: tdperk on 03/14/2017 02:50 PM
Peter B. de Selding‏ of Space Intel Report:
Shotwell: Took us 4 months to refurbish the stage that we'll refly at end of this month. Going forward, it'll be sub that.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/839598801375608832

I have not seen where we can justify this supposition  -->  4 months was an all but complete (or a complete) teardown/uninstall, inspect/blueprint, rebuild.

That is my supposition

Presumably they will not be doing complete teardown, inspect, rebuilds in the future.  Or at least they intend to learn what they do not need to refurbish, or at least the refurbishment per flight rate they need?

Speculation, they should do a complete teardown/rebuild on all reused stages before reflight for at least the first 100+ re-uses to get a feel for what needs to be done?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/14/2017 05:08 PM
That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Well, but that's the point, isn't it: how many new engines will be built to "cover" these fixed costs.
If flight rates don't go up dramatically the result of re-use will be that these newly built engines will become more expensive than before, so "how much does an engine cost" will no longer be the same.
These metrics are more important than average figures at some current state.

You can attribute these costs wherever you like but they won't go away, it's not like "oh, SpaceX now reuses engines 90% of the time so they are saving 90% of the cost". In Reality, between fixed costs, refurbishment etc. it will probably be closer to 50% or so.
There's a reason SpaceX estimates the overall cost savings through reuse at about 30%.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/14/2017 05:55 PM
SRBs = Falcon 9 first stage
ET = Falcon 9 second stage tank
SSME's = MVAC
OMS system (and orbiter) = Dragon.

Since people disagree, I guess I should explain my thinking.

The STS SRBs are both tank and engine (like Falcon 9 stage 1) which provide most of the thrust for first-stage flight and which stage at about the same speed at which the Falcon 9 first stage separates from the second stage when Falcon is used in reusable mode.

The ET and SSME's each achieve orbital velocity, just like the Falcon 9 second stage and the MVac.  This is an enormously higher speed than SRB staging/Falcon stage 1 sep.

The orbiter and its OMS pods do the same thing as Dragon and its RCS system - allow small delta-V changes on orbit to the cargo/person carrying system, and achieve re-entry.

Technical comparison is always going to be dicey -- STS and Falcon are such different systems. 
ITS and STS are closer, so maybe we wait a bit on technicalities.

I think the key comparison is that NASA abandoned reuse as not economical and the industry bought that conclusion.  EM wasn't smart enough to accept their wisdom, so he foolishly tried a different approach. 

Most of the laughing has now subsided...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/14/2017 05:57 PM
That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Well, but that's the point, isn't it: how many new engines will be built to "cover" these fixed costs.
If flight rates don't go up dramatically the result of re-use will be that these newly built engines will become more expensive than before, so "how much does an engine cost" will no longer be the same.
These metrics are more important than average figures at some current state.

You can attribute these costs wherever you like but they won't go away, it's not like "oh, SpaceX now reuses engines 90% of the time so they are saving 90% of the cost". In Reality, between fixed costs, refurbishment etc. it will probably be closer to 50% or so.
There's a reason SpaceX estimates the overall cost savings through reuse at about 30%.

Don't you have to assume that by now they have covered the fixed (ie tooling) costs? Maybe not for block 5 changes, but they have been flying for some years, and have made a lot of engines. So, if they have a lower required build rate, they can actually move manufacturing staff elsewhere because they don't need as many - it's a man hours to build thing. You now have more man hours to build it in, so you need less 'man'. So cost per engine might actually lower. You also need less production line (if they have more than one).

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 03/14/2017 06:05 PM
SX doesn't need complete reuse to succeed with Falcon. Nor do they need BO overscaling. What they need is enough reflights/gradual cost reduction/cadence/consumption of manifest/reliability ... to shift the global market by about %20 aggregate annual reduction. In this, they will be their own worst enemy, as they'll be competing mostly with themselves and their own mixed agendas.

What is meant by "gradual cost reduction" is that the portion of fixed costs has a recurring benefit - ironically, when you start with recovery/reuse, it has a negative benefit (absent R&D bonus of examining flown articles). This is also where "agile" gains ground on "waterfall". Shuttle RLV partially benefitted from reflight, but was drastically bounded by political/economic realities, some of which curse the ELV SLS as well.

The point of Falcon is to change global launch markets. Which will benefit certain providers at the cost to other providers. Suggest this is where the "new space" (benefit) / "old space" (cost) metaphor belongs, not in age or heritage of the provider, but in the ability to handle this form of uncertain change.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/14/2017 06:06 PM
That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Well, but that's the point, isn't it: how many new engines will be built to "cover" these fixed costs.
If flight rates don't go up dramatically the result of re-use will be that these newly built engines will become more expensive than before, so "how much does an engine cost" will no longer be the same.
These metrics are more important than average figures at some current state.

You can attribute these costs wherever you like but they won't go away, it's not like "oh, SpaceX now reuses engines 90% of the time so they are saving 90% of the cost". In Reality, between fixed costs, refurbishment etc. it will probably be closer to 50% or so.
There's a reason SpaceX estimates the overall cost savings through reuse at about 30%.

I suspect there is a wide hysteresis in the cost curve.  On the way up, economies of higher production rates can significantly decrease unit costs.  On the way back down (decreasing production rate after production process is mature), the increase in unit cost should be much less than the efficiencies on way up.

Think of it this way... on way up, a manufacturer fully automates the production process (or nearly so).  Robots, tooling, 3D printers, whatever are bought and manufacturing process debugged to get required quality and production rate.  Once there, a cutback in production doesn't necessarily increase the unit cost at all.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: macpacheco on 03/14/2017 06:52 PM
That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Well, but that's the point, isn't it: how many new engines will be built to "cover" these fixed costs.
If flight rates don't go up dramatically the result of re-use will be that these newly built engines will become more expensive than before, so "how much does an engine cost" will no longer be the same.
These metrics are more important than average figures at some current state.

You can attribute these costs wherever you like but they won't go away, it's not like "oh, SpaceX now reuses engines 90% of the time so they are saving 90% of the cost". In Reality, between fixed costs, refurbishment etc. it will probably be closer to 50% or so.
There's a reason SpaceX estimates the overall cost savings through reuse at about 30%.

I suspect there is a wide hysteresis in the cost curve.  On the way up, economies of higher production rates can significantly decrease unit costs.  On the way back down (decreasing production rate after production process is mature), the increase in unit cost should be much less than the efficiencies on way up.

Think of it this way... on way up, a manufacturer fully automates the production process (or nearly so).  Robots, tooling, 3D printers, whatever are bought and manufacturing process debugged to get required quality and production rate.  Once there, a cutback in production doesn't necessarily increase the unit cost at all.
Except SX still needs to make lots and lots and lots of 2nd stage engines and fairings. Those productivity gains can now be redirected to making perhaps 3x as many 2nd stage/fairings. Booster / regular M1D resources can be reallocated to making more 2nd stages / M1Dvac.
Eventually factory space might be reallocated towards making Raptors and shipping those to the ITS factory, or even building a F9R sized Raptor rocket or at least 2nd stages.
Your logic barely holds if SX doesn't capture more launches, which is highly unlikely. SX won't monopolize launches but it might have >50% of worldwide commercial launches.
And although not yet proven, there's the expectation that cheaper launches can increase commercial satellite launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/14/2017 06:57 PM
That means there's still going to be a need to build new engines; and the fixed costs will still keep being covered.

Well, but that's the point, isn't it: how many new engines will be built to "cover" these fixed costs.
If flight rates don't go up dramatically the result of re-use will be that these newly built engines will become more expensive than before, so "how much does an engine cost" will no longer be the same.
These metrics are more important than average figures at some current state.

You can attribute these costs wherever you like but they won't go away, it's not like "oh, SpaceX now reuses engines 90% of the time so they are saving 90% of the cost". In Reality, between fixed costs, refurbishment etc. it will probably be closer to 50% or so.
There's a reason SpaceX estimates the overall cost savings through reuse at about 30%.

I suspect there is a wide hysteresis in the cost curve.  On the way up, economies of higher production rates can significantly decrease unit costs.  On the way back down (decreasing production rate after production process is mature), the increase in unit cost should be much less than the efficiencies on way up.

Think of it this way... on way up, a manufacturer fully automates the production process (or nearly so).  Robots, tooling, 3D printers, whatever are bought and manufacturing process debugged to get required quality and production rate.  Once there, a cutback in production doesn't necessarily increase the unit cost at all.
Well, in reality, due to inflexibilities in your workforce and asset use it's typically the other way around. You have to invest and add costs before you take in economies of scale and the costs don't go away as quickly if you reduce production.
It's why even highly efficient companies often go bankrupt under a demand shock (negative) when margins are low and it regularly hits manufacturing companies of all kinds.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 03/14/2017 07:41 PM
I am confident the workforce can mostly switch to building Raptor without losing the ability to build Merlins. So the cost per unit should not go up too much. I do believe that they will switch to all methane Raptor vehicles not too far in the future, less than 10 years.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/14/2017 07:54 PM
I am confident the workforce can mostly switch to building Raptor without losing the ability to build Merlins.

I have zero concern about their ability to build large volumes of one engine and small volumes of another.  Zero.  The skillsets required for building engines of any type are going to be similar enough that it won't be an issue.  The aircraft Airframe & Powerplant industry is able to handle this just fine with all the new and old engines there are in the airline industry, so I don't know why rocket engines would be any different.

Even the supply chain for Merlins and Raptors should be close enough that it should not be a concern.

Quote
So the cost per unit should not go up too much.

That will depend on the supply chain, and whether Merlin sustaining engineering keeps up with obsolescence and other supply chain design challenges.

I don't expect it will be enough to change their business model, it will just end up being part of their pricing - which if they do get 40+ launches per engine, their pricing should be pretty stable over time.

Quote
I do believe that they will switch to all methane Raptor vehicles not too far in the future, less than 10 years.

Not for Falcon 9 of course, since that is engineered for RP-1 and not methane.  But the Falcon 9 could be retired after 10 years in favor of one or more successors.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/14/2017 11:08 PM
And let's not forget a Raptor powered stage needs to be pretty large to land.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/14/2017 11:09 PM
And let's not forget a Raptor powered stage needs to be pretty large to land.
New Glenn sized should do nicely.
Title: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/14/2017 11:13 PM
And let's not forget a Raptor powered stage needs to be pretty large to land.
New Glenn sized should do nicely.
Can Raptor throttle that deep? Isn't Raptor quite a bit bigger than BE-4?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/14/2017 11:49 PM
And let's not forget a Raptor powered stage needs to be pretty large to land.
New Glenn sized should do nicely.
Can Raptor throttle that deep? Isn't Raptor quite a bit bigger than BE-4?
Much deeper than Merlin. Supposedly to 20%
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Prettz on 03/15/2017 12:29 AM
What's a Merlin these days? About $2m apiece?

Well worth the costs of recovery and refurb.
And since you seem to have insight into SpaceX's cost structure: how much of these 2mil are fixed costs (tooling, minimum staff,...) that you don't save on if you build one less?
It needn't be about building less of them. They can build the same number of them with the existing factory line yet fly far more missions. In fact, I think that is actually the plan.

It may take SpaceX another 4-5 years to get to 10+ flights per core and a 1-2 month turn around, which will still be worth it.
If it takes them another 4-5 years to get to that stage, then something has gone terribly wrong. Perhaps wrong enough that it means they've been on the wrong track.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pippin on 03/15/2017 12:30 AM
And let's not forget a Raptor powered stage needs to be pretty large to land.
New Glenn sized should do nicely.
Can Raptor throttle that deep? Isn't Raptor quite a bit bigger than BE-4?
Much deeper than Merlin. Supposedly to 20%
The question is: deeper than BE-4?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/15/2017 01:11 AM
The question is: deeper than BE-4?
BE-4 can probably throttle way below what's needed for hovering NG. I've heard as low as 18% minimum throttle, while I estimate New Glenn needs 33% of one engine just to hover while empty, since the booster should mass about 80 tonnes.

Raptor would need to throttle to 25% to hover a 80 tonne stage, and Musk has said it will throttle to 20%. Plus, Merlin can't throttle enough to hover Falcon 9, and that lands just fine.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 03/15/2017 01:11 AM
A lot of these questions like how deep Raptor can throttle are not exactly  on topic, but are covered in depth in other threads. Ditto the hypothetical Raptor upper stage which has at least one thread just for it.

So let's stay on topic or some of your posts may not survive refurbishment.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Navier–Stokes on 03/22/2017 08:12 PM
A few interesting quotes from Ricky Lim (SpaceX's senior director of launch operations) in Dave Berman's Florida Today article (http://www.floridatoday.com/story/tech/science/space/spacex/2017/03/22/spacex-super-excited-port-canaveral-complex/99483242/) on the SpaceHab building lease.

Quote from: SpaceX 'super-excited' about Port Canaveral complex
Lim said, with the new process in place, SpaceX no longer will have to send boosters to a company facility in Texas for testing.

"They will be staying in Florida — outside of a quick trip to outer space," Lim said.

Within a few months, rocket refurbishing times will be cut to two to four weeks, down from the current six to eight weeks, Lim said.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/22/2017 10:18 PM
Hard to imagine 2-4 weeks not being 'economically viable.'
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Norm38 on 03/22/2017 10:52 PM
SpaceX has 4 Florida launches lined up over the next 8 weeks. With a 4 week process, two boosters could handle that rotation. 3 to allow margin.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Negan on 03/23/2017 01:45 AM
Hard to imagine 2-4 weeks not being 'economically viable.'

Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Norm38 on 03/23/2017 02:33 AM
Resource dependent also means a process that would strongly benefit from an assembly line.

SpaceX could easily construct a facility where a landed stage enters at one end, and a refurbished stage exits at the other 2 weeks later.  That's quite feasible.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/23/2017 12:29 PM
Resource dependent also means a process that would strongly benefit from an assembly line.

SpaceX could easily construct a facility where a landed stage enters at one end, and a refurbished stage exits at the other 2 weeks later.  That's quite feasible.

Just signed a lease at the Port -- may be planning this exact thing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/23/2017 01:13 PM
Resource dependent also means a process that would strongly benefit from an assembly line.

SpaceX could easily construct a facility where a landed stage enters at one end, and a refurbished stage exits at the other 2 weeks later.  That's quite feasible.

Hmm, not sure about that. It might simply be a manpower thing, which may or may not be improved with an assembly line process (which they may already do anyway).  Some things don't benefit from assembly lines.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jet Black on 03/23/2017 02:34 PM
Peter B. de Selding‏ of Space Intel Report:
Shotwell: Took us 4 months to refurbish the stage that we'll refly at end of this month. Going forward, it'll be sub that.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/839598801375608832

I have not seen where we can justify this supposition  -->  4 months was an all but complete (or a complete) teardown/uninstall, inspect/blueprint, rebuild.

That is my supposition

Presumably they will not be doing complete teardown, inspect, rebuilds in the future.  Or at least they intend to learn what they do not need to refurbish, or at least the refurbishment per flight rate they need?

Speculation, they should do a complete teardown/rebuild on all reused stages before reflight for at least the first 100+ re-uses to get a feel for what needs to be done?

They will also be making modifications in block 5 that will make re-use easier.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/23/2017 08:09 PM
Resource dependent also means a process that would strongly benefit from an assembly line.

SpaceX could easily construct a facility where a landed stage enters at one end, and a refurbished stage exits at the other 2 weeks later.  That's quite feasible.

Hmm, not sure about that. It might simply be a manpower thing, which may or may not be improved with an assembly line process (which they may already do anyway).  Some things don't benefit from assembly lines.

Might not be in one door and out the other, but...

Quote
“This facility is going to be a key to our future success in this very important hardware throughput model for us,” said Lim. “We’re going to have a very busy 2017.”

I'd expect an arrangement like Hawthorne where several stages are laid parallel and advance from one side where they enter toward the other where they depart.  Overhead cranes allow individual units to leap-frog others.  The 44,000 sq ft building is where I'd expect this to happen.  The remainder of the facility could be for landing legs, engine de-coking and/or maintenance, fairing inspection/refurbishment, etc.

http://www.teslarati.com/spacex-expands-facility-cape-canaveral-gears-extremely-high-rate-launch-land-missions/
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jim on 03/24/2017 12:52 PM
Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

That ignores the damage and the amount of refurb required.  It assumes a lot. 
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/24/2017 01:52 PM
Hard to imagine 2-4 weeks not being 'economically viable.'

Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

What is this based on? I'm not seeing this quoted anywhere. The Florida Today article doesn't have the "rocket refurbishing times will be cut to two to four weeks, down from the current six to eight weeks" verbiage anymore, either. it says
Quote
With the additional efficiencies created by the Port Canaveral facility, Lim said he also expects rocket refurbishing times will be reduced.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 03/24/2017 01:53 PM
Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

That ignores the damage and the amount of refurb required.  It assumes a lot.

Maybe, just maybe, he knows what he is talking about?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Negan on 03/24/2017 02:16 PM
Hard to imagine 2-4 weeks not being 'economically viable.'

Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

What is this based on? I'm not seeing this quoted anywhere. The Florida Today article doesn't have the "rocket refurbishing times will be cut to two to four weeks, down from the current six to eight weeks" verbiage anymore, either. it says
Quote
With the additional efficiencies created by the Port Canaveral facility, Lim said he also expects rocket refurbishing times will be reduced.

You can watch the webcast with this link. It's about 23 minutes in or just go to 2 on the index.

http://portcanaveral.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=453
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Folgers25 on 03/24/2017 06:36 PM
What is this based on? I'm not seeing this quoted anywhere. The Florida Today article doesn't have the "rocket refurbishing times will be cut to two to four weeks, down from the current six to eight weeks" verbiage anymore, either. it says
Quote
With the additional efficiencies created by the Port Canaveral facility, Lim said he also expects rocket refurbishing times will be reduced.

I noticed that as well, it looks like FL Today edited the article at some point.

It was said that the SES-10 booster took four months to refurbish, now there is "the current six to eight weeks". It would be cool to see what caused the refurbishment time to be reduced.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Negan on 03/24/2017 06:40 PM
Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

That ignores the damage and the amount of refurb required.  It assumes a lot.

Maybe. You should clarify this with Mr. Lim and let us know.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: bstrong on 03/24/2017 06:49 PM
Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

That ignores the damage and the amount of refurb required.  It assumes a lot.

Maybe. You should clarify this with Mr. Lim and let us know.

I assumed Lim was talking about the average case, and Jim seems to be talking about the worst case. Both can be true. Fortunately, when it comes to reducing costs only the average refurb effort matters, and they probably have enough data to estimate that pretty accurately at this point.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 03/25/2017 03:52 AM
Per Lim it's also very resource dependent and can be much quicker if needed.

That ignores the damage and the amount of refurb required.  It assumes a lot.

Maybe. You should clarify this with Mr. Lim and let us know.

I assumed Lim was talking about the average case, and Jim seems to be talking about the worst case. Both can be true. Fortunately, when it comes to reducing costs only the average refurb effort matters, and they probably have enough data to estimate that pretty accurately at this point.

Worst case is 100% damage.  (well, worst case for the rocket, at least).

The only measure that makes sense in the context of rate and viability of reuse is the average.

First article took 4 months, then it's down to 6-8 weeks just because it's not a pathfinder anymore, and then with streamlining and with the move to newer hardware, I'm sure they'll get it down to 1-2 weeks or even less, at a point 1-2 years from now.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Semmel on 03/25/2017 09:16 AM
Worst case is 100% damage.  (well, worst case for the rocket, at least).

The only measure that makes sense in the context of rate and viability of reuse is the average.

First article took 4 months, then it's down to 6-8 weeks just because it's not a pathfinder anymore, and then with streamlining and with the move to newer hardware, I'm sure they'll get it down to 1-2 weeks or even less, at a point 1-2 years from now.

Very true. We don't know WHAT was refurbished in these 4 month. For all we know they replaced all parts to the point that a new stage was cheaper. Or that they took it apart, inspected all pieces and put it together again after noticing that nothing has to be replaced. We simply don't know. The amount of required inspection and refurbishment for the the future stages determines if the reputability strategy works. But they still have to learn exactly what will require inspection and replacement. We will learn that within the next 2- 3 years. At moment, no show-stoppers emerged as far as we know. But that doesn't mean there are none. The current refurbishment timing do not tell us much how successful the process was so far. The only information we have is, that refurbishment is possible, given the evidence of the SES-10 mission.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 03/25/2017 09:46 AM
Worst case is 100% damage.  (well, worst case for the rocket, at least).

The only measure that makes sense in the context of rate and viability of reuse is the average.

First article took 4 months, then it's down to 6-8 weeks just because it's not a pathfinder anymore, and then with streamlining and with the move to newer hardware, I'm sure they'll get it down to 1-2 weeks or even less, at a point 1-2 years from now.

Very true. We don't know WHAT was refurbished in these 4 month. For all we know they replaced all parts to the point that a new stage was cheaper. Or that they took it apart, inspected all pieces and put it together again after noticing that nothing has to be replaced. We simply don't know. The amount of required inspection and refurbishment for the the future stages determines if the reputability strategy works. But they still have to learn exactly what will require inspection and replacement. We will learn that within the next 2- 3 years. At moment, no show-stoppers emerged as far as we know. But that doesn't mean there are none. The current refurbishment timing do not tell us much how successful the process was so far. The only information we have is, that refurbishment is possible, given the evidence of the SES-10 mission.
Well we know that "current" refurbish times are shorter, so clearly they've done other one(s) and it went faster already
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Brian45 on 03/25/2017 01:42 PM
The newer refurbs might have gone faster, but that doesn't mean they were successful. None of what they've done has proved the concept.  Just as landing a stage wasn't really proved until they got one back intact, on the 29th (hopefully) we'll find out if refurb can be done. I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works! Go SpaceX!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 03/25/2017 02:44 PM
The newer refurbs might have gone faster, but that doesn't mean they were successful. None of what they've done has proved the concept.  Just as landing a stage wasn't really proved until they got one back intact, on the 29th (hopefully) we'll find out if refurb can be done. I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works! Go SpaceX!
It wasn't proven, sure.

But it was "in the bag" once both grasshopper and CASSSlOPE worked out so well.

Every forward looking statement is by definition only predictive, so adding "but it's not proven" is redundant.

If the faster refurbishments referred to by Lim were not successful, then he's intentionally misleading.  Possible, but highly unlikely.

If it's working out this well before block 5 is even flying, then I dare say that if they fly successfully, then fast and viable refurbishment is also "in the bag".
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Brian45 on 03/25/2017 03:34 PM
My only quibble is with the term "successful."

To draw an analogy, my car mechanic can complete his repair, but as we all know, the proof is when we drive out of the shop. Did the problem go away or does the idiot light come back two miles down the road?

Seeing as how this is the first time anyone has ever attempted to refurbish/reuse a first stage, "completed" the refurbishment might have been a more appropriate term for Lim to use. "Successful" infers that they took care of EVERYTHING that was needed to be fixed/refurbished/replaced, etc. and there's no way they can know that until they fly the stage. I'll be with everyone else cheering when the mission can be termed a "successful" use of a flight-proven F9

BTW, I realize this is nitpicking while we await word of the static fire....
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Req on 03/25/2017 03:37 PM
doesn't mean they were successful ... None of what they've done has proved the concept ... we'll find out if refurb can be done ... I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works!

nitpicking

I believe the colloquial term is "concern trolling."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: meekGee on 03/25/2017 03:58 PM
The reliability record of reused rockets is still TBD, but that was not the issue.

Time required to recycle a stage is now established as 6-8 weeks, after a first article at 16 weeks.

It is reasonable to expect it to drop down to 1-2 weeks, and maybe less.

We know the goal is 1 day, but as people pointed out, even if it's a week, you can fly 2/week from each of 2 pads with an active fleet of four boosters, with a much slower production rate of S1, and a fast rate of S2.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: drunyan8315 on 03/25/2017 04:14 PM
From the "last second" deployment before touchdown,I assume that the landing legs deploy and lock mostly passively, under the Gs generated by the landing deceleration, perhaps aided by an internal spring or compressed gas cylinder. There also seems to be some form of actuator on the hull near to top of the folded leg, which I would guess kicks off the process, but pics of them post-landing appear to show a stroke length only a fraction of what would be required for those actuators to fully extend the leg, and show that they are no longer attached to the leg, only to the hull.

This may be a very simple and lightweight design for deploying the legs, but would seem to preclude the legs being deployed against the slipstream at altitude. Of course  this method, elegant as it appears to be, has failed to fully lock a leg at least once, with resultant loss of the vehicle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 03/25/2017 05:13 PM
Of course  this method, elegant as it appears to be, has failed to fully lock a leg at least once, with resultant loss of the vehicle.

Yes, but that was a known bug, already fixed for the next flight, when it happened. They were still early in the experimental stage.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: tdperk on 03/27/2017 11:36 AM
From the "last second" deployment before touchdown,I assume that the landing legs deploy and lock mostly passively, under the Gs generated by the landing deceleration, perhaps aided by an internal spring or compressed gas cylinder. There also seems to be some form of actuator on the hull near to top of the folded leg, which I would guess kicks off the process, but pics of them post-landing appear to show a stroke length only a fraction of what would be required for those actuators to fully extend the leg, and show that they are no longer attached to the leg, only to the hull.

This may be a very simple and lightweight design for deploying the legs, but would seem to preclude the legs being deployed against the slipstream at altitude. Of course  this method, elegant as it appears to be, has failed to fully lock a leg at least once, with resultant loss of the vehicle.

It failed owing to the unexpected presence of ice, and has been altered to prevent such a failure in the future.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Brian45 on 03/27/2017 06:06 PM
Anyone have any idea if there has been discussions here about the stress testing of the fuselage of the reused F9?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vanoord on 03/27/2017 06:30 PM
SpaceX have recovered 8 boosters, so it's difficult to imagine that they've not been inspected thoroughly to check that they have not suffered damage from the launch / re-entry cycle.

One (B1022 / JCSAT-14) has apparently had 8 (?) full-duration engine tests since it was recovered, which would hopefully deal with the tanking cycle question.

Whether one will be / has been dismantled to assess how it has dealt with stress loadings is probably unknown, but there are arguments that (i) it may well be possible to assess that through non-destructive testing/examination; and (ii) that dismantling may be undertaken on a stage that has flown 2/3/more times in order to see what the effects of several cycles are.

In any instance, the SES-10 core (B1021) will have been through a long set of tests and refurbishment ahead of this flight. Added to that, the booster stages are designed to be re-used, so you'd imagine that SpaceX has probably made sure that they can stand the stresses of a few flights.

Yes, the SES-10 launch is a big, big step for SpaceX, but they've been working on this for many years and and know what to expect.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/27/2017 06:41 PM
Anyone have any idea if there has been discussions here about the stress testing of the fuselage of the reused F9?

Not sure about discussions here, but SpaceX did mention they've been doing exactly that:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTmbSur4fcs?t=14m10s

However which booster they used for this is still a mystery.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 03/27/2017 07:01 PM
doesn't mean they were successful ... None of what they've done has proved the concept ... we'll find out if refurb can be done ... I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works!

nitpicking

I believe the colloquial term is "concern trolling."

it is. And it's not really a good thing to do. Please dial back the concern a bit Brian45...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/27/2017 10:32 PM
doesn't mean they were successful ... None of what they've done has proved the concept ... we'll find out if refurb can be done ... I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works!

nitpicking

I believe the colloquial term is "concern trolling."

it is. And it's not really a good thing to do. Please dial back the concern a bit Brian45...

So now anyone who points out that "unknown unknowns" are a real danger in aerospace is now "concern trolling" and essentially told to pipe down? I'm disappointed, frankly.

Fueling a rocket on a pad was pretty well-known until someone tried something outside the experience base and things went pear-shaped. For every commercially-manufactured aircraft that flies, there are thousands of flight-hours logged in rigorous test-flights to prove out the structures, the systems and the operating procedures, and these things STILL fall out of the air or fly into the dirt with depressing regularity.

SpaceX has launched a few dozen rockets and recovered a small-ish percentage of those. There are plenty of unknown unknowns out there, especially if reuse become a real thing. If NSF isn't the place to discuss what SpaceX may have done to narrow those down, and what they might or might not have done for whatever reason, in a sober, rational and thoughtful way without being labeled or attacked for raising the discussion, where is?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/27/2017 11:16 PM
In reading about re-use of a first stage, all I've seen are concerns about the engines, pumps, tanks, etc. ie the "guts" of the rocket. Was there any discussion about the actual structure of the metal tube that holds everything together?

The tanks ARE "the actual structure of the metal tube that holds everything together".

There's some discussion of tank fatigue stresses here:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27748.1235;wap2

And here:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=27748.1240;wap2

And there's a lot of interesting info in the discussions of the AMOS failure, like this: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41252.msg1596202#msg1596202

Perusing those threads would be of interest, if you haven't already. Google if your friend.

https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&espv=2&q=site%3Anasaspaceflight.com+falcon+9+tank+fatigue
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 03/28/2017 01:18 AM
doesn't mean they were successful ... None of what they've done has proved the concept ... we'll find out if refurb can be done ... I hope they don't have to have 3 failures to figure out if it works!

nitpicking

I believe the colloquial term is "concern trolling."

it is. And it's not really a good thing to do. Please dial back the concern a bit Brian45...

So now anyone who points out that "unknown unknowns" are a real danger in aerospace is now "concern trolling" and essentially told to pipe down? I'm disappointed, frankly.

Fueling a rocket on a pad was pretty well-known until someone tried something outside the experience base and things went pear-shaped. For every commercially-manufactured aircraft that flies, there are thousands of flight-hours logged in rigorous test-flights to prove out the structures, the systems and the operating procedures, and these things STILL fall out of the air or fly into the dirt with depressing regularity.

SpaceX has launched a few dozen rockets and recovered a small-ish percentage of those. There are plenty of unknown unknowns out there, especially if reuse become a real thing. If NSF isn't the place to discuss what SpaceX may have done to narrow those down, and what they might or might not have done for whatever reason, in a sober, rational and thoughtful way without being labeled or attacked for raising the discussion, where is?

No.

Herb, you know better.

We talk about all sorts of things and dig deeply into lots and lots of different topics, it's what we do here and we're good at it. We ferret out stuff others missed, and draw conclusions on very limited data that are often shockingly accurate. Further, people who come here to learn with an open mind... never leave unsatisfied. And questions are part of the process. Even questions that question decisions SpaceX or ULA or whoever made.

Nothing wrong with raising that unknown unknowns exist, if it's not repetitive. Nothing wrong with speculating on things that might go wrong, if it's not repetitive. Nothing wrong with finding the right topic area and then digging into the topic. We all learn from that. Sometimes we have to decode Jim's cryptic hints and that's part of the fun.

But concern trolling, narrowly defined, isn't helpful or welcome. If the post comes off as "I think I'm smarter than SpaceX" or "I can't believe they didn't think of thing Y", that's not good. It's a perception thing. If someone says you might be concern trolling (and sometimes I think maybe you do post in that style, a little, and sometimes I'm pretty sure my own posts do come off that way) you might want to try to refactor how you word things a bit. For the good of all.

If you really felt strongly about this, you should take it up with Chris. He may tell me I'm over thinking this and that's fine. But this is a meta discussion. Report to mod if you want to go further. No more meta.

PS: removed a post AFTER this one arguing about the definition of concern trolling. Didn't save it, didn't send it back to the poster, didn't move it to dead threads, just removed it. It's gone. Forever. What part of "no more meta" was unclear?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Brian45 on 03/28/2017 03:07 AM
Thanks people for answering my question and explaining where I went off track with the structure of my inquiry.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Negan on 03/28/2017 04:45 PM
Bolded mine

Quote
Our CTO Martin Halliwell talks about #SES10 and the launch on #flightproven rocket!

https://twitter.com/ses_satellites/status/846742078310690818 (https://twitter.com/ses_satellites/status/846742078310690818)

https://www.periscope.tv/w/a6kjoTFETEtCeURWT2FEUUp8MWpNSmdZd3JPYXlLTOkPzfjLKb6zX572-CwWcPxK89_4GMQLEeCpVDy3-Oo7 (https://www.periscope.tv/w/a6kjoTFETEtCeURWT2FEUUp8MWpNSmdZd3JPYXlLTOkPzfjLKb6zX572-CwWcPxK89_4GMQLEeCpVDy3-Oo7)

Here are some notes:

* Mass is 5281.7 kg, insertion orbit will be 35410 km x 218 km at 26.2º, so barely subsynchronous GTO. Orbit raising will be done with chemical engines.

* SES block bought SES-10, SES-11, SES-14, SES-16. Then last August they were approached with the opportunity to use a pre-flown booster.

* Essentially no change in the insurance premium, 100th of a percent.


* First stage booster is contractually obligated to make certain altitude, velocity, downrange, etc. SpaceX works with the leftovers for landing. This will be a very hot landing, but if it comes back, SES gets "bits" for their boardroom.

* Satellite requires 13 hours of checkouts once the full stack is vertical on the pad.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: WmThomas on 03/28/2017 06:00 PM
The NASA information for CRS-11 describes the planned Dragon one that has previously flown.

Is there information somewhere about how much of the Dragon is being reused? Is it just the pressure vessel?

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/28/2017 07:22 PM
Let's see if we can all agree on a few points.

Despite lots of people talking about refurbishment and reuse this is in fact the first ever time a first stage will be relaunched.

Ever.

Essentially the whole history of first stage reuse started with the first Grasshopper landing. Everything prior to this for the reuse or reflight of high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV's was theoretical.

This represents tremendous progress in a comparatively short period of time.

Reflight is a never previously attempted process. It is likely to be a very complex.

The odds on bet must be that SX will get some things wrong. The worst case being they are unable to recover the stage. Such a scenario is unlikely but AMOS 6 should have reminded everyone that there is a big difference between "unlikely" and impossible.

This will not matter.

In the worst case as long as they get enough telemetry and recover enough of the pieces they can identify the cause and (in principle) design out the root cause.  Note it would delay the next flight of a reused stage. That does not mean it should ground use of the first stage as a normal first use first stage.

Anything less drastic will likely be added to the upgrade list for the next generation.

A second (successful) launch of an F9 first stage will be a technical triumph for SX. It will absolutely move the baseline of how far a conventional TSTO architecture can be pushed, without requiring the re mating of a specific engine module IE the ULA and Arianspace (suggested) approach.

Reuse is not a goal. It is a means to lowering the cost per unit mass to orbit by a significant amount.

This is the ultimate goal.

True success will be delivering this goal.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Mader Levap on 03/28/2017 11:30 PM
The odds on bet must be that SX will get some things wrong. The worst case being they are unable to recover the stage.
Wrong. Worst case is that there will be launch faliure.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/29/2017 06:30 AM
The odds on bet must be that SX will get some things wrong. The worst case being they are unable to recover the stage.
Wrong. Worst case is that there will be launch faliure.
Literally true, although SX have a history of finding new ways to have a launch failure it does seem a little early for another one, and we know the first stage has functioned flawlessly already, which raises confidence in 50% of the vehicle stages (or 90% of the engines) already.

My focus is always on the customer. From their PoV it doesn't matter if the first stage explodes into a million fragments, provided it happens after stage separation and none of the fragments does any damages to the second stage (even if some of them hit it).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/29/2017 12:39 PM
Essentially the whole history of first stage reuse started with the first Grasshopper landing. Everything prior to this for the reuse or reflight of high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV's was theoretical.

I think Armadillo Aerospace and Masten might disagree with this statement. They both demonstrated Grasshopper levels of control, albeit on a smaller scale.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 03/29/2017 03:35 PM
Essentially the whole history of first stage reuse started with the first Grasshopper landing. Everything prior to this for the reuse or reflight of high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV's was theoretical.

I think Armadillo Aerospace and Masten might disagree with this statement. They both demonstrated Grasshopper levels of control, albeit on a smaller scale.
Neither have put a payload into orbit and brought a booster back from hypersonic velocities nor did they use boosters capable of that.  Hence the explicit mention of doing it with a "high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV."

We (the forum) always get into a Simpsons did it first arguments. I know people sometimes make outrageous claims about SpaceX firstyness/bestyness, but this one seemed fairly explicitly constrained.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/29/2017 04:12 PM
Essentially the whole history of first stage reuse started with the first Grasshopper landing. Everything prior to this for the reuse or reflight of high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV's was theoretical.

I think Armadillo Aerospace and Masten might disagree with this statement. They both demonstrated Grasshopper levels of control, albeit on a smaller scale.
Neither have put a payload into orbit and brought a booster back from hypersonic velocities nor did they use boosters capable of that.  Hence the explicit mention of doing it with a "high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV."

We (the forum) always get into a Simpsons did it first arguments. I know people sometimes make outrageous claims about SpaceX firstyness/bestyness, but this one seemed fairly explicitly constrained.

Clearly there are further hurdles to overcome when coming in from orbit, but vertical take off and landing was done well before grasshopper, which, clearly was not an orbital booster, and was the referenced craft. Please refer back to the original quote.

Actually, I have done a disservice to the DC-X which was I believe the first to do it.

I have no problem with people 'firsting', but when the statement is clearly false, it should not be left to stand. Grasshopper was not the start of the history of first stage reuse.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/29/2017 06:04 PM
As far as I know, Grasshopper was the first reusable VTVL demonstration of the major component of an orbital launch system - that component being the F9 v1.0 booster airframe.

The other VTVL demos did not use (most of) the first stage of an orbital system.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/29/2017 09:20 PM
Actually, I have done a disservice to the DC-X which was I believe the first to do it.

I have no problem with people 'firsting', but when the statement is clearly false, it should not be left to stand. Grasshopper was not the start of the history of first stage reuse.
In fact you could go back to the Apollo landing and takeoff simulator.

The key item you are missing from all of these  situations is the high aspect ratio  of the structures involved.

All previous examples either were relatively "squat." Grasshopper was the first (AFAIK) to tackle the issues around landing what is a (relatively) floppy structure head on. The fact it took multiple attempts and the addition of grid fins to make it work suggests a fair bit of science had to be done and that all earlier proposals would not have actually worked. Something you only discover when you do engineering, rather than writing grant proposals.   
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: manoweb on 03/29/2017 11:45 PM
SO I came to this thread from the SES-10 one. There was a user concerned about the possible failure of that first stage because it survived a hot re-entry.

Maybe this has discussed before - I did not find that. An no, apparently people need to have this disclaimer, I am not trying to "second guess" SpaceX.

To the point: I am absolutely not an aluminium-lithium alloy metallurgist, but are there chances that the hot re-entry might have annealed the alloy and made it lose certain properties? For the very little I know, aluminium anneals at relatively low temperatures. I know they have tested the stages apparently with a "top" hold-down, so that the thrust generated by the engines is applied to the structural parts of the rocket. Just wondering what more experienced people think of the issue.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/30/2017 12:08 AM
SO I came to this thread from the SES-10 one. There was a user concerned about the possible failure of that first stage because it survived a hot re-entry.

Maybe this has discussed before - I did not find that. An no, apparently people need to have this disclaimer, I am not trying to "second guess" SpaceX.

To the point: I am absolutely not an aluminium-lithium alloy metallurgist, but are there chances that the hot re-entry might have annealed the alloy and made it lose certain properties? For the very little I know, aluminium anneals at relatively low temperatures. I know they have tested the stages apparently with a "top" hold-down, so that the thrust generated by the engines is applied to the structural parts of the rocket. Just wondering what more experienced people think of the issue.

At risk of being labled a concern-troll again by even discussing this further, I think the answer to this one is "No." SpaceX has now had over a year to analyze a number of returned stages, and longer still to analyze crashed debris from earlier failed attempts. Metallurgical tests are absolutely the first thing the structural engineers in charge of the program would want to do, and a lot of them, from all parts of the structure from octoweb to the top of the first stage where it mates to the interstage, and any number of points in between. Visual microscopic exams, x-ray tests, dye-penetrant tests, eddy-current tests and many more whose names and details I've long since forgotten about. To the extent that thermal-related loss of strength is an issue with returned stages, I think SpaceX will by now have characterized it pretty well, at least as to the parts of the structures they've tested.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 03/30/2017 12:10 AM
I would be more concerned if the structure was some relatively new alloy (or composite), but the properties of these aluminum alloys seem to be pretty well understood.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/30/2017 12:30 AM
There was a user concerned about the possible failure of that first stage because it survived a hot re-entry.
I thought this relaunch was using a booster used for CRS-8, which was not a hot re-entry inasmuch as it used a boost back burn to return to LZ1 and wasn't a high speed hoverslam landing.

As was mentioned by Herb they have likely exhaustively tested samples from returned pieces. I would also think that thermal protection is applied anywhere that heat weakening of the structure is a possibility. I couldn't find anything in a google search about the annealing temp, but Al-Li alloys tend to have melting temps on the order of 500-600 degrees C.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: manoweb on 03/30/2017 05:22 AM
Hey guys - I know that SpaceX did all the theory, tests, research, and analysis, and they know the properties of the materials. It's obvious :) I'm not disputing that come on.

I guess my question should have been:
- anyone knows, assuming aluminium-lithium alloys can be annealed, what kind of preventive measures they might have taken to prevent that happening during re-entry?

In fact, being this stage from CRS-? mission makes sense as a first step, even if they will probably plan to reuse also hotter stages in the future. Sure they might have put thermal protection in some spots but we know the bulk of the "cylinder" only has paint to protect it. Maybe the simple answer is that there is no metallurgical concern :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/30/2017 05:50 AM
Cross-posting for reference:

Question.  Does anyone know - and I apologize if this has been answered elsewhere - if B1021 will be flying this time with its original engines?  We know that they were removed after its first flight.

 - Ed Kyle
In the Q&A with the SES CTO he stated that no engines were replaced and that the booster is essentially all the original parts. No significant part replacements occurred.

The relevant question and answer start at about 14:40.
Yesterday's SES press briefing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZqFCaaLEBc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZqFCaaLEBc)

Edit: including reference to video
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rpapo on 03/30/2017 11:32 AM
I thought this relaunch was using a booster used for CRS-8, which was not a hot re-entry inasmuch as it used a boost back burn to return to LZ1 and wasn't a high speed hoverslam landing.

As was mentioned by Herb they have likely exhaustively tested samples from returned pieces. I would also think that thermal protection is applied anywhere that heat weakening of the structure is a possibility. I couldn't find anything in a google search about the annealing temp, but Al-Li alloys tend to have melting temps on the order of 500-600 degrees C.
Actually, it was even easier.  They did use a small boostback, and a near vertical reentry burn.  But the small boostback was because CRS-8 did not land at LZ-1, but rather further downrange, on the barge.

Lightly used, indeed, in comparison with the comsat launches.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 03/30/2017 12:15 PM
I thought this relaunch was using a booster used for CRS-8, which was not a hot re-entry inasmuch as it used a boost back burn to return to LZ1 and wasn't a high speed hoverslam landing.

As was mentioned by Herb they have likely exhaustively tested samples from returned pieces. I would also think that thermal protection is applied anywhere that heat weakening of the structure is a possibility. I couldn't find anything in a google search about the annealing temp, but Al-Li alloys tend to have melting temps on the order of 500-600 degrees C.
Actually, it was even easier.  They did use a small boostback, and a near vertical reentry burn.  But the small boostback was because CRS-8 did not land at LZ-1, but rather further downrange, on the barge.

Lightly used, indeed, in comparison with the comsat launches.

Therefore a good first reuse candidate, all else being equal, compared to stages that had a far higher heat regime.

Manoweb's question about what they might have done to prevent annealing is interesting but I suspect the answer is proprietary... I bet ULA would love to know. (maybe 10 years from now at a metallurgical society conference?)

(mod hat) Herb: I think no one could call a statement like "I am sure SpaceX thought of this and here's a long list of things they almost certainly did to alleviate it so don't worry" anything close to "concern trolling"  :) ... certainly not me. This is the sort of vigorous discussion we want.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: LouScheffer on 03/30/2017 12:48 PM
but are there chances that the hot re-entry might have annealed the alloy and made it lose certain properties? For the very little I know, aluminium anneals at relatively low temperatures.
I have not seen this mentioned, and it's completely obvious, but I'm sure the very first thing SpaceX did is to measure the temperature reached by the various pieces during each re-entry.  Presumably they would plaster as many temperature sensors as practical over the stage, then use models to compute the temperature of places they could not directly measure.  Plus perhaps IR imaging during flight or other methods of recording peak temperature as well.

So for the places that did not get too hot, there should be no worry about annealing.  For the places that did get hot enough to worry about, run the battery of tests mentioned above, consider re-design or material change, etc.   Real-world temperature measurements would remove a lot of worries about potentially changed material properties.  I'd be astonished if this was not their first step to deal with this potential problem.



Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/30/2017 01:21 PM
The new thread on the CRS-8 booster refurbishment (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42630.0) does suggest that it was as much, if not more, upgrading to current vehicle/block specs than actual refurbishment. So that could help explain both the 4 months it took and the expected large reductions in time once SpaceX get to a more stable spec (block 5?).
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 03/30/2017 02:34 PM
but are there chances that the hot re-entry might have annealed the alloy and made it lose certain properties? For the very little I know, aluminium anneals at relatively low temperatures.
I have not seen this mentioned, and it's completely obvious, but I'm sure the very first thing SpaceX did is to measure the temperature reached by the various pieces during each re-entry.  Presumably they would plaster as many temperature sensors as practical over the stage, then use models to compute the temperature of places they could not directly measure.  Plus perhaps IR imaging during flight or other methods of recording peak temperature as well.

So for the places that did not get too hot, there should be no worry about annealing.  For the places that did get hot enough to worry about, run the battery of tests mentioned above, consider re-design or material change, etc.   Real-world temperature measurements would remove a lot of worries about potentially changed material properties.  I'd be astonished if this was not their first step to deal with this potential problem.

The first step is to see a stage (pressurized) re-enter in tact.  This places an upper limit on potential loss of structural integrity.

Structural testing of a returned stage (part of the reason they chose the toastiest recovered stage) would definitively identify loss of material properties when compared to pre-flight structural tests.  If this single test shows no loss of integrity, then question answered.  EM stated, after this testing was done, that stage (tankage) could handle an indefinite number of reflights -- basis of this unqualified confidence was likely structural test results.
Title: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/30/2017 02:37 PM
...assuming aluminium-lithium alloys can be annealed...
It definitely can be annealed. I found a NASA research poster discussing a novel method of using annealing to make it possible to form the ends of pressure tanks out of Al-Li, something that was at the time (2014) not being done due to the difficulty of forming Al-Li into dome-type shapes.

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf)

Edit: adding date and a grammar fix
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 03/30/2017 07:18 PM
Essentially the whole history of first stage reuse started with the first Grasshopper landing. Everything prior to this for the reuse or reflight of high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV's was theoretical.

I think Armadillo Aerospace and Masten might disagree with this statement. They both demonstrated Grasshopper levels of control, albeit on a smaller scale.
Neither have put a payload into orbit and brought a booster back from hypersonic velocities nor did they use boosters capable of that.  Hence the explicit mention of doing it with a "high aspect ratio TSTO VTO LV."

We (the forum) always get into a Simpsons did it first arguments. I know people sometimes make outrageous claims about SpaceX firstyness/bestyness, but this one seemed fairly explicitly constrained.

Clearly there are further hurdles to overcome when coming in from orbit, but vertical take off and landing was done well before grasshopper, which, clearly was not an orbital booster, and was the referenced craft. Please refer back to the original quote.

Actually, I have done a disservice to the DC-X which was I believe the first to do it.

I have no problem with people 'firsting', but when the statement is clearly false, it should not be left to stand. Grasshopper was not the start of the history of first stage reuse.

I think this 'who did what first' discussion is missing the most important part of the puzzle. The first F9 reflight is different to whatever happened before with DC-X, Masten, Scaled, Armadillo, even BO, because F9 is working with far tighter mass margins. If it wasn't, it wouldn't make orbit with a commercially viable payload. A lot of stuff in aerospace gets easier if you are allowed to throw mass at the problem. What makes this reflight remarkable is that SpaceX have achieved stage recovery whilst retaining high enough performance and mass fraction to make the stage a useful orbital launch vehicle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 03/30/2017 07:28 PM
...assuming aluminium-lithium alloys can be annealed...
It definitely can be annealed. I found a NASA research poster discussing a novel method of using annealing to make it possible to form the ends of pressure tanks out of Al-Li, something that was at the time (2014) not being done due to the difficulty of forming Al-Li into dome-type shapes.

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf)

Edit: adding date and a grammar fix

SpaceX was spin-forming Al-Li alloy tank domes in 2013:

Quote
The fuel tanks feature a common bulkhead design for the liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene. Falcon 9’s propellant tank walls and domes are both made from an aluminum-lithium alloy.

http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/09/24/production-spacex

Video of hot-spin forming a 12-ft diameter dome:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BNhYjqRgo3f/?hl=en
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/30/2017 07:59 PM
...assuming aluminium-lithium alloys can be annealed...
It definitely can be annealed. I found a NASA research poster discussing a novel method of using annealing to make it possible to form the ends of pressure tanks out of Al-Li, something that was at the time (2014) not being done due to the difficulty of forming Al-Li into dome-type shapes.

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011717.pdf)

Edit: adding date and a grammar fix

SpaceX was spin-forming Al-Li alloy tank domes in 2013:

Quote
The fuel tanks feature a common bulkhead design for the liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene. Falcon 9’s propellant tank walls and domes are both made from an aluminum-lithium alloy.

http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/09/24/production-spacex

Video of hot-spin forming a 12-ft diameter dome:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BNhYjqRgo3f/?hl=en
The linked poster discusses spin forming and its drawbacks compared to annealing and form molding. I wasn't suggesting that tank ends couldn't be made from Al-Li but rather the linked poster suggested the annealing process used for making tank ends out of steel didn't work unmodified to make them out of Al-Li.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: manoweb on 03/31/2017 02:29 AM
Today Mr. E. Musk suggested they might replace the aluminum grid find with titanium ones. Follow up metallurgical questions:

- why titanium and not inconel or tungsten, if the issue is resisting to the heat. (Yeah I know tungsten is crazy). However, and I am no titanium metallurgist, is it really good at high temperatures? I will do some research but while I am pretty sure it can easily beat aluminum, I did not know titanium was considered in high temperature applications. Now that I think about the Blackbird was made out of titanium, so my concerns here are bogus
- Mr. E. Musk apparently mentioned a forging process for such structure, and the biggest in the world for titanium. Why not machine it? (And I probably show my complete ignorance with this question)
- Titanium is much denser than Alu, and it may be that in this application, they just need large area to have enough control authority, so they won't be able to make the structure thinner - they might have to take a mass penalty for the sake of reuse. And it's totally fine, just worth noting.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/31/2017 02:53 AM
- why titanium and not inconel or tungsten, if the issue is resisting to the heat. (Yeah I know tungsten is crazy). However, and I am no titanium metallurgist, is it really good at high temperatures? I will do some research but while I am pretty sure it can easily beat aluminum, I did not know titanium was considered in high temperature applications. Now that I think about the Blackbird was made out of titanium, so my concerns here are bogus
Tungsten is super dense approaching that of lead. A piece of tungsten that large would be crazy heavy. It would definitely provide the thermal capacity though with a melting point of a few thousand degrees. I don't think the grid fins require quite that much heat tolerance, especially at that weight penalty.

Quote
- Mr. E. Musk apparently mentioned a forging process for such structure, and the biggest in the world for titanium. Why not machine it? (And I probably show my complete ignorance with this question)
Forging is likely much faster to produce and much simpler. Machining something as large as the grid fins would take a really long time and you still likely have to forge the original billet that gets machined.[/quote]
Quote
- Titanium is much denser than Alu, and it may be that in this application, they just need large area to have enough control authority, so they won't be able to make the structure thinner - they might have to take a mass penalty for the sake of reuse. And it's totally fine, just worth noting.
They may be able to alter the configuration a little to maintain the same amount of control surfaces while maintaining the same weight as those made from Al.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Req on 03/31/2017 02:56 AM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/31/2017 03:08 AM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
If I understand that correctly they want to increase the amount of aerobraking done by the grid fins in order to decrease fuel margin required for landing. Yes?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: deruch on 03/31/2017 03:22 AM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
Also could be used to decrease peak heating by flying through the upper atmosphere a bit longer.  Reducing TPS needs or re-entry burn length, etc.  Lots of ways to optimize for best results.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: manoweb on 03/31/2017 04:12 AM
Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.

This sounds quite an interesting concept but I have no idea what is a L/D of 1. Would you explain a little more in detail this concept?


Also could be used to decrease peak heating by flying through the upper atmosphere a bit longer.  Reducing TPS needs or re-entry burn length, etc.  Lots of ways to optimize for best results.

What is TPS in this case? This means it will arrive further downrange? Not sure having to go much further with the barge contributes to "rapid" reusability...
Title: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 03/31/2017 04:25 AM
Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.

This sounds quite an interesting concept but I have no idea what is a L/D of 1. Would you explain a little more in detail this concept?

I had to look it up as well. Lift-to-drag ratio. Typically a plane/glider is trying to maximize this number and most commercial airliners have ratios exceeding 15. Some have values as high as 37. In this case a value approaching 1 would seem to indicate an objective of making an aerobrake that can also act as a control surface.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-to-drag_ratio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-to-drag_ratio)

Quote
Also could be used to decrease peak heating by flying through the upper atmosphere a bit longer.  Reducing TPS needs or re-entry burn length, etc.  Lots of ways to optimize for best results.

What is TPS in this case? This means it will arrive further downrange? Not sure having to go much further with the barge contributes to "rapid" reusability...
TPS = thermal protection system??
I agree landing further down range is probably not ideal although if another day to port reduces refurb time by a couple days it's a net gain. Might even save enough fuel margin to permit RTLS for more payloads, even some GTO missions.

Edit: added link to wiki article; fixed to not point to mobile version
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: manoweb on 03/31/2017 04:59 AM
I suggest the link to be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-to-drag_ratio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift-to-drag_ratio) so it will not force people that use a computer to read a "mobile" version of wikipedia. If you access from a cellular phone, it will still render correctly.

I have read such page and now I am somewhat familiar, on a qualitative basis, with the L/D ratio. Now, when Mr. E. Musk said "the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1", this means that the L/D ratio is going to be increased or decreased compared to the "current" aluminum ones?

In other words, the current grid fins have a L/D of less than 1 and they want to increase it, or viceversa?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 03/31/2017 06:26 AM
The grid fins don't themselves have a L/D, it is the vehicle as a whole which does.
A L/D of 1 would be an increase/improvement over the current design. It means that the stage can travel as far horizontally as it does vertically.

Landing further downrange is perfectly acceptable if it opens up reusability of heavier and hotter flights. An extra day or two of barge steaming time is insignificant. They will have lots of cores and can always build more barges.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: mme on 03/31/2017 06:41 AM
The grid fins don't themselves have a L/D, it is the vehicle as a whole which does.
A L/D of 1 would be an increase/improvement over the current design. It means that the stage can travel as far horizontally as it does vertically.

Landing further downrange is perfectly acceptable if it opens up reusability of heavier and hotter flights. An extra day or two of barge steaming time is insignificant. They will have lots of cores and can always build more barges.
A greater L/D might also allow a few more missions to RTLS.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lee Jay on 03/31/2017 08:43 PM
Looks like Wayne Hale agrees with Jim (and so do I).

https://twitter.com/waynehale/status/847774460933439488
"Congratulations SpaceX. It's been nearly six years since we've seen the launch of a reused rocket. #spaceshuttle"
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Aussie_Space_Nut on 04/01/2017 03:11 AM
My favourite quote from the SES 10 press conference was when Elon mentioned "building up the space fleet" when answering a question on what they were doing with the flown rockets at the cape I think. It made me smile! :-)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/01/2017 03:02 PM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
If I understand that correctly they want to increase the amount of aerobraking done by the grid fins in order to decrease fuel margin required for landing. Yes?

Provide lift so it stays longer in high altitude thin air. It seemed New Glenn intends to reenter without reentry burn. At least the animation did not show one. Maybe block 5 can do that too. It would be a large saving of propellant. If New Glenn can indeed do that with its higher reentry speed then why not Falcon?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: cppetrie on 04/01/2017 03:37 PM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
If I understand that correctly they want to increase the amount of aerobraking done by the grid fins in order to decrease fuel margin required for landing. Yes?

Provide lift so it stays longer in high altitude thin air. It seemed New Glenn intends to reenter without reentry burn. At least the animation did not show one. Maybe block 5 can do that too. It would be a large saving of propellant. If New Glenn can indeed do that with its higher reentry speed then why not Falcon?
Ok so is the idea to make the re-entry profile flatter so more aerobraking can be accomplished on the way down rather than having it fall more vertically where it would have less time to bleed off speed via aerobraking? Essentially more glider like and less meteor like?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 04/01/2017 04:37 PM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
If I understand that correctly they want to increase the amount of aerobraking done by the grid fins in order to decrease fuel margin required for landing. Yes?

Provide lift so it stays longer in high altitude thin air. It seemed New Glenn intends to reenter without reentry burn. At least the animation did not show one. Maybe block 5 can do that too. It would be a large saving of propellant. If New Glenn can indeed do that with its higher reentry speed then why not Falcon?
Ok so is the idea to make the re-entry profile flatter so more aerobraking can be accomplished on the way down rather than having it fall more vertically where it would have less time to bleed off speed via aerobraking? Essentially more glider like and less meteor like?

Pretty much. It sounds like the new grid fins will themselves create more drag, and the ability to fly a shallower entry also spreads out the heating loading. Incidentally, lifting entry is also key to getting Red Dragon down on Mars safely- such a heavy object would othwise crater into the surface long before it had slowed down enough for the retros to take over.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 04/01/2017 10:17 PM
During the presser, Musk said that the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1, which will actually have the net effect of increasing payload to orbit by reducing the fuel needs for landing.
If I understand that correctly they want to increase the amount of aerobraking done by the grid fins in order to decrease fuel margin required for landing. Yes?

Provide lift so it stays longer in high altitude thin air. It seemed New Glenn intends to reenter without reentry burn. At least the animation did not show one. Maybe block 5 can do that too. It would be a large saving of propellant. If New Glenn can indeed do that with its higher reentry speed then why not Falcon?

New Glenn will stage faster, and enter the atmosphere at shallower angle. F9 comes in at a much steeper angle, and when doing RTLS it almost drops vertically straight down. So they may not be able to do the same.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/02/2017 02:11 AM
New Glenn will stage faster, and enter the atmosphere at shallower angle. F9 comes in at a much steeper angle, and when doing RTLS it almost drops vertically straight down. So they may not be able to do the same.

They are flying the trajectory that makes most sense with the present method of reentry. They can change the trajectory for new needs.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 04/02/2017 06:19 AM
New Glenn will stage faster, and enter the atmosphere at shallower angle. F9 comes in at a much steeper angle, and when doing RTLS it almost drops vertically straight down. So they may not be able to do the same.

They are flying the trajectory that makes most sense with the present method of reentry. They can change the trajectory for new needs.

Not for RTLS - Unless they want to burn a lot more propellant. But then what was the point of eliminating the braking burn?  :)

This may in fact be the reason why NG does not do RTLS, it could be designed for a shallow reentry angle.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/02/2017 10:08 AM
So if you have the fuel for RTLS, do that and maybe only reduce the reentry burn to 1 engine. But on marginal missions for downrange landing do a lower  trajectory, that is where saving is most needed.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 04/02/2017 11:07 AM
My favourite quote from the SES 10 press conference was when Elon mentioned "building up the space fleet" when answering a question on what they were doing with the flown rockets at the cape I think. It made me smile! :-)

The interesting feature of this reuse capability is that SpaceX now has roughly the launch vehicle availability (new production plus 2-3 reuses per core) to launch the entire world's orbital payloads* -- 80-90 launches per year. 

When Block 5 begins production, each core will have that capability.

Pad operations, fairing availability, and second stage production become the new limits.


*  Of course there are a couple payloads that have unique mass/trajectory needs that will require FH capability which is yet to be proven.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/02/2017 04:55 PM
Today Mr. E. Musk suggested they might replace the aluminum grid find with titanium ones. Follow up metallurgical questions:

- why titanium and not inconel or tungsten, if the issue is resisting to the heat. (Yeah I know tungsten is crazy). However, and I am no titanium metallurgist, is it really good at high temperatures?
When looking at materials for aerospace the density matters.
Roughly the specific gravities relative to a unit volume of water (water is 1) are
Aluminum 2.8
Beryllium 1.85
Lead 11.37
Tungsten 19.25
Inconel 8.44
Titanium 4.51

On this scale Lead is not all that dense and Tungsten is more on the same order as Uranium.

Titanium buys you a melting point close to 3x that of Aluminum, and Aluminum (like most metals) looses a lot of its strength well below its melting point. 

In an ideal world Berylium would rule as it's even lighter than Alumium and twice the melting point.

Except
a)It and it's oxide are highly toxic, needing sealed machining cells.
b)It's brittle near room temperature (but gets better as it gets hotter) and
c) It's about 200x more expensive than Aluminum. That's head and shoulders more than either Inconel, Titanium and IIRC Tungsten. 

Quote from: manoweb
I will do some research but while I am pretty sure it can easily beat aluminum, I did not know titanium was considered in high temperature applications. Now that I think about the Blackbird was made out of titanium, so my concerns here are bogus
- Mr. E. Musk apparently mentioned a forging process for such structure, and the biggest in the world for titanium. Why not machine it? (And I probably show my complete ignorance with this question)
Actually a fair question given you need a very big press to forge it.  Machining loses a lot of material and forging does give a better "grain" to metal (yes metal grain is a thing in high performance applications).

Titanium does offer another option. You could assemble plates of it and diffusion bond it in a vacuum furnace. The down side is you make up a "pack" of Ti plates with steel spacers. You then have to remove the spacers and that may involve a lot of machining anyway.
Quote from: manoweb
- Titanium is much denser than Alu, and it may be that in this application, they just need large area to have enough control authority, so they won't be able to make the structure thinner - they might have to take a mass penalty for the sake of reuse. And it's totally fine, just worth noting.
There is also reliability. Up till now the grid fins have been Aluminum or Aluminum coated with a Thermal Protection System, probably the SX version of the PICA ablative NASA developed.

That means the upper use temperature is set by how long the TPS can save the underlying Aluminum before fully burning away, leaving the Aluminum a melting puddle. But for multiple uses you want to limit any given flight to a fraction of that, as you wouldn't want to be re-covering that waffle pattern with little bits of PICAX every flight.

Making the fin out of Titanium means no TPS layer to worry about burning through (or being put on wrongly and falling off in flight, which is possible). That also means greatly reduced inspection, so faster turnaround.

The greater control authority of the new fins should also more accurate positioning of the stage before you have to fire the engines for the hoverslam. If this can be shown to happen consistently then you can reduce the propellant load for this to happen.

This stuff is all about trading off different factors to get the best overall outcome in terms of payload to orbit, landing propellant and ease of refurbishment and manufacture.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/02/2017 05:31 PM

I have read such page and now I am somewhat familiar, on a qualitative basis, with the L/D ratio. Now, when Mr. E. Musk said "the new titanium alloy grid fins will be a larger design which provides enough control authority to give the stage an L/D of approximately 1", this means that the L/D ratio is going to be increased or decreased compared to the "current" aluminum ones?
Increased.

L/D varies over a speed range. A L/D of 1 for subsonic aircraft is very bad (IIRC most big passenger jets are in the 15-30 range) but for supersonic 7 (concorde at M2) is quite good. Shuttle was somewhere in 1-1.5 range at M5. The Apollo capsule was around 0.3-0.5 (and rocket stages are much more like the Apollo capsule than the Shuttle). Giving a stage a L/D of 1 would be a major achievement.

At very high speed even quite low L/D can give remarkable results. IIRC something with a hypersonic L/D of 2.5-3 can have a cross range of basically a whole hemisphere
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 04/02/2017 10:02 PM
So if you have the fuel for RTLS, do that and maybe only reduce the reentry burn to 1 engine. But on marginal missions for downrange landing do a lower  trajectory, that is where saving is most needed.

No, you don't seem to understand. The higher trajectory *IS* the optimal one. The stage isn't thrusting upwards... It merely cancels and reverses its horizontal vector. The same apogee would have been reached with or without a boost-back burn. Doing a shallower boost-back profile does in fact consume MORE propellant.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 04/02/2017 10:12 PM
So if you have the fuel for RTLS, do that and maybe only reduce the reentry burn to 1 engine. But on marginal missions for downrange landing do a lower  trajectory, that is where saving is most needed.

No, you don't seem to understand. The higher trajectory *IS* the optimal one. The stage isn't thrusting upwards... It merely cancels and reverses its horizontal vector. The same apogee would have been reached with or without a boost-back burn. Doing a shallower boost-back profile does in fact consume MORE propellant.

So with the standard boost back the better L/D would enable less horizontal cancellation because they can stretch the in atmosphere part with the better L/D.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/02/2017 10:12 PM
I am wondering if with the new larger and more heat resistant grid fins there is enough control authority to actually turn, not just slow down by getting some lift. If you could turn around you might be able to RTLS without a boostback burn.

Wings by any other name?

Probably not.  But airplanes turn all the time.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 04/02/2017 10:17 PM
So if you have the fuel for RTLS, do that and maybe only reduce the reentry burn to 1 engine. But on marginal missions for downrange landing do a lower  trajectory, that is where saving is most needed.

No, you don't seem to understand. The higher trajectory *IS* the optimal one. The stage isn't thrusting upwards... It merely cancels and reverses its horizontal vector. The same apogee would have been reached with or without a boost-back burn. Doing a shallower boost-back profile does in fact consume MORE propellant.

I am wondering if with the new larger and more heat resistant grid fins there is enough control authority to actually turn, not just slow down by getting some lift. If you could turn around you might be able to RTLS even with a less lofted profile. Wings by any other name?

Probably not.

Sigh, I'm not sure how to keep explaining this any better.  ???  The 'lofting' of the return trajectory is primarily an artifact of the upward momentum at staging. To 'loft less' requires MORE propellant to cancel this out! (boost-back burn pointing downward)

So you spend more propellant to save propellant later!
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 04/02/2017 10:18 PM
Totally off topic...

Whats the difference between LARS and LARS-J.
This is the first time I noticed you were different people.
You both seem very knowledgeable.
 
Edit/Lar: Answered in the party thread because it IS off topic
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42585.msg1662592#msg1662592
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/02/2017 10:21 PM
Sigh, if something has lift and has control authority why can't it turn? Things with actual wings turn all the time. They bleed off speed turning and they bleed off altitude too (or more speed if you "set the flaps" higher). If you can actually turn all the way around, voila, you don't have to boost back any more, you're already headed the right way. Elon hates wings but large enough grid fins are a lot like wings :)

I'm not responding to your argument with Guckyfan, I was throwing a new idea out there. (probably to sink but..). I'l cut the quote away if it's really confusing you.

Edit: I did.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 04/02/2017 10:33 PM
Sigh, if something has lift and has control authority why can't it turn? Things with actual wings turn all the time. They bleed off speed turning and they bleed off altitude too (or more speed if you "set the flaps" higher)

Different answers hypersonic, sonic, transonic. First two have stability issues, you'll tumble easy.

When you bleed off energy, control surfaces heat at super linear rates, increasing costs. Shuttle's was carefully done to never push up temps too high in certain edges.

Lifting only works with certain geometries - shallow ones are best, so loong downrange and not lofted. There are some cases, like with RD, where you need to force it to stay within a corridor/ceiling height too, which depends on atmospheric density, which might change daily.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/02/2017 10:34 PM
Sigh, if something has lift and has control authority why can't it turn? Things with actual wings turn all the time.

Those wings have a much higher control authority than the grid fins of rocket, and they have actual power (thrust) to help them maintain their kinetic energy through the turn. Something like an SR-71, with those two ginormous afterburning turboramjets still needed something like over 90 miles to make a U-turn at speed, and that's in the much (relatively) denser atmosphere is 70 - 80Kft.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/02/2017 11:18 PM
Thanks for the clarification. So basically Hypersonic and Transsonic are far different regimes than the 100 kps that a glider (no engine yet it still can turn) does when turning so no, turning isn't going to work. Not without gynormous wings that have special heat shedding properties. Which we know they're not doing. because Elon hates wings.

All questions about my name, Lars-J's name, LEGO collecting habits, why LEGO as a product is awesome, etc, were moved to the party thread.  That's three posts so far. Thanks for playing over there.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Rocket Science on 04/02/2017 11:30 PM
a few months back I toyed with the idea of using the legs to generate lift and control...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/02/2017 11:51 PM
I'm partly (ok, a lot) at fault here, but the actual reentry stuff is probably not really on topic for refurbishment discussions.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/03/2017 06:31 AM
I the presser Musk said the refurb took about 4 months of actual time and the replaced pretty much everything that looked even slightly worn.

The jokers in this process are
1)How many staff did it take
2)How variable can it be. Consistency really helps in staff planning.
3)Once they are satisfied most stuff does not need replacing what could it go down to?

At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/03/2017 02:02 PM
At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

Did you miss that the refurbishment time is already down to 6 weeks, even ahead of block 5 which is supposed to make it much easier?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/03/2017 02:23 PM
I the presser Musk said the refurb took about 4 months of actual time and the replaced pretty much everything that looked even slightly worn.

The jokers in this process are
1)How many staff did it take
2)How variable can it be. Consistency really helps in staff planning.
3)Once they are satisfied most stuff does not need replacing what could it go down to?

At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

The first time you do anything, it always takes longer whilst you get the processes sorted. Not only that, but in this one they also would have been testing EVERYTHING as it was dealt with, a lot of which, as I think Musk has said, will be replaced by more effective sensor suites. I think making any assessment of future times from this one example is foolhardy.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: envy887 on 04/04/2017 03:22 AM
I the presser Musk said the refurb took about 4 months of actual time and the replaced pretty much everything that looked even slightly worn.

The jokers in this process are
1)How many staff did it take
2)How variable can it be. Consistency really helps in staff planning.
3)Once they are satisfied most stuff does not need replacing what could it go down to?

At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

SpaceX said it will be 2-4 weeks soon, and then go down from there based on resources. So the current team could do as many as 26 in a year.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 04/04/2017 12:10 PM
At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

Did you miss that the refurbishment time is already down to 6 weeks, even ahead of block 5 which is supposed to make it much easier?
Yes. Where was it reported?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 04/04/2017 12:18 PM
At present that suggests the refurb team can do 3 stages a year, but we don't know how big that team is or how many teams they can form. If it's 100 strong you don't want too many such teams. If it's just a couple of guys then you could have dozens of them.

Did you miss that the refurbishment time is already down to 6 weeks, even ahead of block 5 which is supposed to make it much easier?
Yes. Where was it reported?

Same place you got your quotes I think...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sevenperforce on 04/04/2017 05:26 PM
a few months back I toyed with the idea of using the legs to generate lift and control...
Mechanically, current legs are a non-starter on this. I don't know whether Block 5 will have automatically retractable legs, but probably not.

And aerodynamically...no, I don't think this works. Even with the COM being so far forward, the drag on those legs at anything over a few km/s would flip the stage like a shuttlecock.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/04/2017 05:33 PM
a few months back I toyed with the idea of using the legs to generate lift and control...
Mechanically, current legs are a non-starter on this. I don't know whether Block 5 will have automatically retractable legs, but probably not.

And aerodynamically...no, I don't think this works. Even with the COM being so far forward, the drag on those legs at anything over a few km/s would flip the stage like a shuttlecock.

Elon Musk has just said, the gridfins become a lot larger and provide more drag. That could counter some more drag of the legs. Or just one leg. He did announce too that the rocket can do some more lift as well. I don't believe that helps on ascent but can increase drag on the way down. The increase of capability must come from somewhere and not from more engine thrust alone.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/04/2017 07:40 PM
a few months back I toyed with the idea of using the legs to generate lift and control...
Mechanically, current legs are a non-starter on this. I don't know whether Block 5 will have automatically retractable legs, but probably not.

And aerodynamically...no, I don't think this works. Even with the COM being so far forward, the drag on those legs at anything over a few km/s would flip the stage like a shuttlecock.

Elon Musk has just said, the gridfins become a lot larger and provide more drag. That could counter some more drag of the legs. Or just one leg. He did announce too that the rocket can do some more lift as well. I don't believe that helps on ascent but can increase drag on the way down. The increase of capability must come from somewhere and not from more engine thrust alone.


They may be figuring the bigger titanium grid fins will reduce terminal velocity, thus shortening the landing burn. Maybe also shortening the entry burn. That could free up some propellant for more payload.

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sevenperforce on 04/04/2017 09:23 PM
I wonder if they will go with diamond-shaped grid fins a la ITS.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Jcc on 04/05/2017 12:09 AM
a few months back I toyed with the idea of using the legs to generate lift and control...
Mechanically, current legs are a non-starter on this. I don't know whether Block 5 will have automatically retractable legs, but probably not.

And aerodynamically...no, I don't think this works. Even with the COM being so far forward, the drag on those legs at anything over a few km/s would flip the stage like a shuttlecock.

Elon Musk has just said, the gridfins become a lot larger and provide more drag. That could counter some more drag of the legs. Or just one leg. He did announce too that the rocket can do some more lift as well. I don't believe that helps on ascent but can increase drag on the way down. The increase of capability must come from somewhere and not from more engine thrust alone.

I think he said the larger grid fins will provide more control authority, besides being able to handle the heat. Obviously, they would produce more drag also, and reduce terminal velocity a bit. One thing I interpreted was that perhaps with better lift characteristics it can go through the thinner atmosphere at a shallower angle, and therefor enter at a higher velocity, requiring less of a reentry burn, ultimately saving fuel.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/05/2017 05:16 AM
Copying here as more appropriate on this thread:

They might switch to an ablative coat that can be quickly applied and removed. Something that provides good thermal insulation, and protects the core from re-entry heating. Better ablative paint would allow them to try even hotter landing which use shorter re-entry burns, and in turn with the stronger titanium grid-fins allow them to glide and aerobrake.

Surely to get very rapid re-use there needs to be less use of ablative coatings? How else are 10 re-uses without refurbishment, and a potential 24 hrs between flights, going to be achieved?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kaputnik on 04/05/2017 10:56 AM
Copying here as more appropriate on this thread:

They might switch to an ablative coat that can be quickly applied and removed. Something that provides good thermal insulation, and protects the core from re-entry heating. Better ablative paint would allow them to try even hotter landing which use shorter re-entry burns, and in turn with the stronger titanium grid-fins allow them to glide and aerobrake.

Surely to get very rapid re-use there needs to be less use of ablative coatings? How else are 10 re-uses without refurbishment, and a potential 24 hrs between flights, going to be achieved?

I agree. But perhaps the TPS will have enough margin on it for multiple flights. And some materials do not start ablating until beyond a certain exposure level, so it is conceivable that the refurbishment perid would depend on what flight profile had been flown?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: sevenperforce on 04/05/2017 12:34 PM
Does anyone happen to know whether COTS spray-on ablative materials are even available? Washing the soot off the stage and spraying on a fresh coat of ablative protection probably wouldn't count as a full "refurb" and could be done after each flight.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Kabloona on 04/05/2017 01:55 PM
Does anyone happen to know whether COTS spray-on ablative materials are even available? Washing the soot off the stage and spraying on a fresh coat of ablative protection probably wouldn't count as a full "refurb" and could be done after each flight.

LockMart sells several.

https://tinyurl.com/l3h89nu
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Norm38 on 04/05/2017 08:15 PM
@jeff_foust on Twiiter currently reporting on Shotwell's talk at 33SS.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust
 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust)

From the tweet:  "Shotwell:  Refurbishment cost is substantially less than half of a new one, and will get better"

What is substantially less? Is that 40%, 30%?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 04/05/2017 08:29 PM
@jeff_foust on Twiiter currently reporting on Shotwell's talk at 33SS.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust
 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust)

From the tweet:  "Shotwell:  Refurbishment cost is substantially less than half of a new one, and will get better"

What is substantially less? Is that 40%, 30%?

Sure, pick one.  40% is correct order of magnitude -- best we'll ever know.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: pb2000 on 04/05/2017 08:44 PM
@jeff_foust on Twiiter currently reporting on Shotwell's talk at 33SS.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust
 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust)

From the tweet:  "Shotwell:  Refurbishment cost is substantially less than half of a new one, and will get better"

What is substantially less? Is that 40%, 30%?

I doubt SpaceX will release exact figures, or give reference to what half they are referring to (internal cost or sticker price). In any event this is the very first reflown booster so, lets wait for block 5 (and knowing Elon block 5.001, 5.002, etc) before counting nickels and dimes.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: guckyfan on 04/05/2017 09:11 PM
I find it astounding that going through that stage with a fine comb, doing things that have never been done, and finding out all that needed finding out was done with less than 50% of the cost of building a new one.

It can only go way down from there.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/05/2017 09:35 PM
I find it astounding that going through that stage with a fine comb, doing things that have never been done, and finding out all that needed finding out was done with less than 50% of the cost of building a new one.

It can only go way down from there.

Materials cost? Labour to make the big tanks and engines? Both very time consuming I assume.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 04/05/2017 10:44 PM
I find it astounding that going through that stage with a fine comb, doing things that have never been done, and finding out all that needed finding out was done with less than 50% of the cost of building a new one.

It can only go way down from there.

Materials cost? Labour to make the big tanks and engines? Both very time consuming I assume.

The by far biggest component of the cost is labor. Material costs are lower than most people think.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Endeavour126 on 04/06/2017 04:30 AM
Is there an official statement about the reasons not to refly again the SES-10 first stage?
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/06/2017 06:41 AM
Is there an official statement about the reasons not to refly again the SES-10 first stage?
Elon Musk thinks it is of historic value and wants to donate it to the cape as a display piece of sorts.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Endeavour126 on 04/06/2017 03:58 PM
Thank you.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 04/06/2017 03:59 PM
Is there an official statement about the reasons not to refly again the SES-10 first stage?
Elon Musk thinks it is of historic value and wants to donate it to the cape as a display piece of sorts.

And maybe limited value to refly because of age and better candidates coming in all the time.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 04/15/2017 04:54 PM
At about 10:30 in the video Gwynne says something about future refurbishment cost that I can't quite make out. There's a "10" and "labour" but I'm not sure what else.

Don't know where else to post this. Gwynne Shotwell's talk at the 33rd Space Symposium shot on someone's mobile:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQw2tI-ljnw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQw2tI-ljnw)

Seems to include most of the Q&A too.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: RedLineTrain on 04/15/2017 05:53 PM
At about 10:30 in the video Gwynne says something about future refurbishment cost that I can't quite make out. There's a "10" and "labour" but I'm not sure what else.

Don't know where else to post this. Gwynne Shotwell's talk at the 33rd Space Symposium shot on someone's mobile:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQw2tI-ljnw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQw2tI-ljnw)

Seems to include most of the Q&A too.

"It will be on the order of a tenth the work, the labor."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Wolfram66 on 06/22/2017 08:42 PM
You could always have a door in the top of the core storage facility and install a rack system like fridge soda can dispenser...  ::) ???
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: rsdavis9 on 06/22/2017 09:05 PM
You could always have a door in the top of the core storage facility and install a rack system like fridge soda can dispenser...  ::) ???

That sure beats the size of the HUGE sodas they serve at the movie theater. :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: AncientU on 06/22/2017 09:12 PM
I find it astounding that going through that stage with a fine comb, doing things that have never been done, and finding out all that needed finding out was done with less than 50% of the cost of building a new one.

It can only go way down from there.

Sounds like down to 10%, in fact.

...
"It will be on the order of a tenth the work, the labor."
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gin455res on 08/19/2017 07:15 AM
Is there any information on which parts of the falcon are predicted to wear out fastest?

e.g.  Might the cooling channels degrade faster than the turbo-pumps?

any thoughts on hypothetical f9 used part economics could be interesting
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: speedevil on 09/04/2017 10:59 AM
Is there any information on which parts of the falcon are predicted to wear out fastest?

Well, for stuff we know wears out - crush cores in the legs, fairing and second stage  are both one-use, as well as payload adaptors.

At least some, perhaps most of the ablative under the engines covering 'stuff' seems likely to at least need monitoring if not replacement every flight.
The grid fins used to wear quite a lot - titanium may wholly fix this.
NASA have expressed concerns about cracking in turbopump rotors, but it's not clear if this is a wear item.

The paint often seems rather torn up.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: obi-wan on 09/04/2017 04:07 PM
Is there any information on which parts of the falcon are predicted to wear out fastest?

Well, for stuff we know wears out - crush cores in the legs, fairing and second stage  are both one-use, as well as payload adaptors.

At least some, perhaps most of the ablative under the engines covering 'stuff' seems likely to at least need monitoring if not replacement every flight.
The grid fins used to wear quite a lot - titanium may wholly fix this.
NASA have expressed concerns about cracking in turbopump rotors, but it's not clear if this is a wear item.

The paint often seems rather torn up.
A friend at SpaceX (who is extremely closed-mouthed about everything) said that one thing he could tell me is that you will recognize a Block 5 first stage instantly by the heat shields around the base - it's going to be all Inconel.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: gongora on 09/04/2017 04:53 PM
A friend at SpaceX (who is extremely closed-mouthed about everything) said that one thing he could tell me is that you will recognize a Block 5 first stage instantly by the heat shields around the base - it's going to be all Inconel.

It will be interesting to see which of the fancy new bits gets left off of any expendable launches on Block 5.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 09/04/2017 05:05 PM
Shades of X-15 and X-20 (Dynasour) inconel hot structures. Likely they'll still be smoking after landing.

(Shuttle glass tiles retained heat internally long after - under test "bricks" you could see had still "melted" centers.)

add:

If they don't mind a little mild radioactivity, they could instead use HK31, an alloy of magnesium, thorium, and zirconium which is no longer in use since the three percent that is thorium makes the alloy radioactive.

It's much lighter and reradiates heat faster while still retaining the same thermal capacity.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: theinternetftw on 09/04/2017 08:42 PM
If they don't mind a little mild radioactivity, they could instead use HK31, an alloy of magnesium, thorium, and zirconium which is no longer in use since the three percent that is thorium makes the alloy radioactive.

It's much lighter and reradiates heat faster while still retaining the same thermal capacity.

For general reference, mild in this case means routine handling (http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/consumer%20products/magthor.htm) of this kind of metal results in about one cranial CT scan worth of radiation every 4 years (https://xkcd.com/radiation/) (note that this is for the amount expected to be used in aircraft).  An extended vacation on the beaches of Guarapari, Brazil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guarapari) can result in a greater dose of radiation in a much shorter period of time, and those beaches are routinely well-populated. (https://i.imgur.com/6MAUbHe.jpg)

Of course, the opposing argument is, "If you can do the job and not irradiate people, why don'tcha?"
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 09/04/2017 09:49 PM
If you measure the radiation off of brick walls/walkways/hearths/chimneys, you'll have a 1:5 chance of finding more radioactive sources as the clays had a tendency to be rich in various radioactive materials.

Some parts of the US, Russia, Iran, and others have surface radioactive soils too.

In the 1970's we were calibrating a scintillation counter with a source. When the source was withdrawn, there were still counts. Traced it back to the brick walkway and mentioned it to the facilities people after lead shielding the side of the wall so we could get on with the instrument work.

Over the period of years I'd look out the window and see increasing visits of university, city, county, state, federal safety personnel/officials visit/measure the bricks,  then eventually "surgically" remove them (had the "hottest" one properly secured for measurement/analysis which was quite entertaining) and they restored the brickwork carefully - it was a well traveled campus path). Very much in excess of health standards. The brickwork had been done in the 60's.

The biggest problem is expecting reasonable care in an ignorant environment, which seems to be vastly larger than it was then. Imagine a rocket explosion/failed landing and having to find all the pieces and prove there's no radiation hazard present. Our culture isn't mature enough for such, thus the heavier, greater heat retention inconel makes sense over the more performant thorium laced alloy (which has gotten even better since the 70's).

If we can't handle minor radioactive situations, no wonder nuclear rocketry has zero chance, even though we are about to max out chemical propulsion, and its next after EP.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/06/2017 04:51 PM
In the 1970's we were calibrating a scintillation counter with a source. When the source was withdrawn, there were still counts. Traced it back to the brick walkway and mentioned it to the facilities people after lead shielding the side of the wall so we could get on with the instrument work.
I'd take a wild guess and suspect it could be  traced back to the debris from some of the 1st generation reactors built for (and disposed of) by the Manhattan project.

IIRC an aerial survey with the right gear showed various highways whose hard core substructure was basically crushed reactor concrete.

The Magnesium Thorium alloy you mentioned rings a bell. Was it also used on the BOMARC missile?

Old NASA and DTIC reports suggested "Thoriated Dispersion" alloys had quite a future back in the early 70's due to their very good high temperature performance, until of course the R word started to be discussed more loudly.  :(

I'd say "If only there was a way to make 'Depleted Thorium' cheaply," but people would probably only worry that "OMG, you've got enriched  Thorium. Are you trying to make a bomb?" :( despite the idea of a Thorium bomb being a plot for a straight-to-download video. IOW a total fantasy.

One option that rarely seems to be looked at in the US are the FeCrAlY (AKA "Fecralloy") alloys developed by the UK AEA and tested extensively for cladding pipe and plates. Highly resistant to oxidation and sulfurization and relatively low density, but not very high mechanical strength. So not a bad choice for facing a thermal shield, with any additional strength provided by the structure behind it.

TBH I've become quite weary of reading test reports on high temperature testing of materials as so little of it seems to apply to rocket engines or space craft heat shields. Their test criteria make no sense in that context.

Say a perfectly good alloy survives 900 hrs of continuous heating but does not survive 1000 hours. It's considered "failed."
So what? It's no good for use in a land gas turbine generator. OTOH an RLV rocket engine runs for maybe 10mins at a time (and most of the test firings won't even be that), then soaks back to ambient before (possibly) starting again for re-entry. A 900 hr operating life would be literally 1000s of missions, or 900 launches and 50 mins of test firing per launch (imagine that. That's a lot of test firing.  :) )

TPS materials seem to have been cyclically tested a bit better but again weren't most lifting re-entries outside Shuttle finished in < 15 minutes? AFAIK Shuttle, Buran or X37b are (or were) down in less than 90 minutes anyway.   
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lar on 09/06/2017 06:17 PM
Thorium alloys and nuclear propulsion might not be on topic.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 09/07/2017 05:55 AM
One of the costs of refurbishment of the Shuttle's TPS was the need to address the multiple elements of its design and fabrication, for it to function on the next flight. Hot structures don't just function by themselves, you need to have supports and means to isolate / attach them. Even the choice of materials / alloys can become critical to such.

Heat capacity and convection/conduction of materials matters a great deal, as well as the means to support repeatable use, possibly w/o refurbishment.

Earlier use of thoriated alloys allowed for some of these options, which is why it was brought up, as an alternative to much more heavy inconel. An old trade for those that remember it.

Not to mention some of the work the DLR did also on metallic heat shields for X-38.

add:
(Alludes to some of this: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20080014278.pdf )
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/07/2017 09:45 AM
One of the costs of refurbishment of the Shuttle's TPS was the need to address the multiple elements of its design and fabrication, for it to function on the next flight. Hot structures don't just function by themselves, you need to have supports and means to isolate / attach them. Even the choice of materials / alloys can become critical to such.
Indeed. People seem to forget there's a reason they are called thermal protection systems

Possibly the worst case of that I'm aware of was the Shuttle tiles. Amazing thermal properties but during the whole process no one seemed to ask "What happens when you bond a brittle material to a ductile one which expands 3x as much per degree rise in temperature, and then apply a flight level temperature gradient."

Pity, as NASA patented a mechanical fastener to cope with bolting RCC, or large pieces of tile to a metal substructure in the early 80's.  :( 
Truly one of those "if only" moments. 20 000 tiles reduced to 200? On the upside still available (and long out of patent) for anyone who wants a hot skin/cold structure design. Maybe one day.
Quote from: Space Ghost 1962
Heat capacity and convection/conduction of materials matters a great deal, as well as the means to support repeatable use, possibly w/o refurbishment.
I've just heard the interview Dave Masten recently gave on the "Broadsword" dual expander Methalox engine.
In theory Aluminum is a non starter for a rocket combustion chamber, but people forget that's exactly what Bell Aerospace made the CC for the Agena engine out of.
It's not how hot you can run. It's how fast you can get the heat out of it while you're running it that counts.  :) Something John Carnack also rediscovered.
Unfortunately to really go with this I think you'd have to develop a blanket of flexible heat pipes, as active cooling just seems far too risky for most people (although HMX did some work on it).
Quote from: Space Ghost 1962
Earlier use of thoriated alloys allowed for some of these options, which is why it was brought up, as an alternative to much more heavy inconel. An old trade for those that remember it.
There was a time... <sigh>.
Amazes me there's still a market for parts in Beryllium.
Quote from: Space Ghost 1962
]
Not to mention some of the work the DLR did also on metallic heat shields for X-38.
That is a surprise.
I thought they were very keen on CMC, especially RCC, and the idea of tesselating the surface with flat pieces of RCC to deliver the aerodynamics of sharp edged curves with relatively easy mfg  EG water jet cutting.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: x15_fan on 10/29/2017 03:05 PM
This is old but I don't recall ever seeing reference to XIRCA blanket for Dragon back shell...


https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwj-oOnqmZbXAhUFRyYKHfrKDIsQFggoMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.edn.com%2FPdf%2FViewPdf%3FcontentItemId%3D4417773&usg=AOvVaw19d8HUs8MyMGiwDIgdL6nb

"PICA heat shield
Rasky had been a key part of the PICA-X carbon tile, without which there would have been no Mars
Curiosity on Mars in 2013.
I was curious about the applications of such a material in electronics or semiconductor processes
such as a heat shielding material that might be used in conjunction with a heat sink in high
temperature areas. I asked Rasky if such an application has been found. Rasky replied that, yes, the
one for electronics is a cousin to PICA called SIRCA, that is, Silicone Impregnated Resuable Ceramic
Ablator. It’s a silica-based tile with silicone impregnation. It’s RF transparent and non-conductive, so
unlike the carbon-fiber PICA material, it would not conduct electricity or block RF signals. The
SIRCA material would be good around antennas in that it would not interfere with the RF
transmission/reception.
Rasky continued, “So SIRCA is a sort of ‘sibling’ to PICA. They were developed as a family of what’s
called a lightweight ceramic ablator that started with ceramic substrates. So you could use a silica
substrate or a carbon substrate and then add in a polymer impregnant that you can add in. In effect,
you add silicone into the silica substrate and get SIRCA; you add phenolic to the carbon substrate
and get PICA.
The family was developed so that you could alter both the ceramic substrate material and the
polymer impregnant. You could optimize the material for whatever application you had in mind.”
“It turns out that PICA had a higher heat ablative performance which was of interest to SpaceX, but
they also use a variant of SIRCA on the back shell which they call XIRCA, a flexible silica blanket
that has silicone impregnation”, Rasky told us. SpaceX developed PICA-X, a version of NASA’s PICA,
to protect the Dragon spacecraft on its return to Earth"
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: john smith 19 on 10/30/2017 07:18 AM
The family was developed so that you could alter both the ceramic substrate material and the
polymer impregnant. You could optimize the material for whatever application you had in mind.”
“It turns out that PICA had a higher heat ablative performance which was of interest to SpaceX, but
they also use a variant of SIRCA on the back shell which they call XIRCA, a flexible silica blanket
that has silicone impregnation”, Rasky told us. SpaceX developed PICA-X, a version of NASA’s PICA,
to protect the Dragon spacecraft on its return to Earth"
Me either.

Good find.  :)
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: deruch on 10/31/2017 11:18 PM
"PICA heat shield
Rasky had been a key part of the PICA-X carbon tile, without which there would have been no Mars
Curiosity on Mars in 2013.
I was curious about the applications of such a material in electronics or semiconductor processes
such as a heat shielding material that might be used in conjunction with a heat sink in high
temperature areas. I asked Rasky if such an application has been found. Rasky replied that, yes, the
one for electronics is a cousin to PICA called SIRCA, that is, Silicone Impregnated Resuable Ceramic
Ablator. It’s a silica-based tile with silicone impregnation. It’s RF transparent and non-conductive, so
unlike the carbon-fiber PICA material, it would not conduct electricity or block RF signals. The
SIRCA material would be good around antennas in that it would not interfere with the RF
transmission/reception.
Rasky continued, “So SIRCA is a sort of ‘sibling’ to PICA. They were developed as a family of what’s
called a lightweight ceramic ablator that started with ceramic substrates. So you could use a silica
substrate or a carbon substrate and then add in a polymer impregnant that you can add in. In effect,
you add silicone into the silica substrate and get SIRCA; you add phenolic to the carbon substrate
and get PICA.
The family was developed so that you could alter both the ceramic substrate material and the
polymer impregnant. You could optimize the material for whatever application you had in mind.”
“It turns out that PICA had a higher heat ablative performance which was of interest to SpaceX, but
they also use a variant of SIRCA on the back shell which they call XIRCA, a flexible silica blanket
that has silicone impregnation”, Rasky told us. SpaceX developed PICA-X, a version of NASA’s PICA,
to protect the Dragon spacecraft on its return to Earth"

The full document is longer than the quoted portion and is worth the read.  Nice find.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Step55 on 11/16/2017 10:38 AM
From the core spotting thread:

"A Rolling Stone piece on Musk today showed a used core in Hawthorne."

Is that pieces of the nozzle that was cut out for analysis, or am I seeing things? ;)

Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: speedevil on 11/16/2017 12:45 PM
Is that pieces of the nozzle that was cut out for analysis, or am I seeing things? ;)
There seem to be also holes(*) in the part of each engine bell closest to the outside of the rocket, at the very ends.
And the cutouts(holes?) don't go all the way through - as the shadows for the right-hand-side of the image are wrong, as is the background of the shadowed area. Could this be a thermal layer over the bells?

https://twitter.com/ses_satellites/status/931083202705461248 - coincidentally, presentation of flown bits of SES10, of a size possibly consistent with the above cutouts.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: vanoord on 11/16/2017 08:48 PM
OT, but Elon seems to be going grey.

Presumably, Model 3 production is taking its toll...
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Lars-J on 11/16/2017 11:37 PM
There seem to be also holes(*) in the part of each engine bell closest to the outside of the rocket, at the very ends.
And the cutouts(holes?) don't go all the way through - as the shadows for the right-hand-side of the image are wrong, as is the background of the shadowed area. Could this be a thermal layer over the bells?

https://twitter.com/ses_satellites/status/931083202705461248 - coincidentally, presentation of flown bits of SES10, of a size possibly consistent with the above cutouts.

No, the small bright spots certainly look like small pins that stick out from the external edge of the nozzles.
Title: Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/17/2017 12:38 AM
OT, but Elon seems to be going grey.

Presumably, Model 3 production is taking its toll...
...or breaking up with Amber, which seems to have hit him hard.

Anyway, grey hair is awesome.