Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)  (Read 397925 times)

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #40 on: 12/31/2015 04:19 PM »
[...]
Specifically disruptive to Human BEO exploration plans.  Scimemi, the ISS director for NASA, says he wants to build the HAB Congress just directed NASA to study and have a prototype ready for 2018. Why would we do that, when for a fraction of the cost, we could send up a prototype BA330 on a FH? (that's a rhetorical question)
[...]
A Hab would really have to be tested in EML1/2 space. LEO is very different from deep space. For example, you have 45min of hotness and 45min of coldness. In deep space you have a hot side and a cold side, permanently. So the thermal environment is completely different. You have to worry about MMOD and free oxygen in LEO which are not an issue in deep space. You have a lot less radiation, which you actually want to prove the hab design. You need completely different comm system. And a long list of requirements.
Why I'm saying this? Because for such an Hab, unless you are also including a SEP tug (which has no budget), you are going to worry about the C3=-1kmē/sē performance. How much could the Falcon Heavy do? If it can, in fact, do 13 to TMI, then it should be able to do between 17 and 20 tonnes to TLI. The problem is, SLS can do something like 45tonnes with EUS and well more than 25 tonnes with the ICPS. So the prototype would have to have less than half the mass of the final hab if it were to fit into a FH.
And I didn't get into the fact that SLS will have an 8.4m fairing (7.5m internal) vs the 5.2m (4.7 internal) of the FH. I rather see FH as an opportunity to send something commercial to LEO very cheaply or a Cygnus derived module to TLI, rather than the full Hab.

You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate. 
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Offline baldusi

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #41 on: 12/31/2015 05:25 PM »
You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate.
Actually, you started talking about using FH for the Hab prototype. The Hab will fly with SLS/EUS, this is the current plan and thus it will be sized accordingly.
And regarding affordability, it's not what you believe to be but what US Congress is actually willing to pay. And in the 2016 budget, US Congress actually decided that NASA is not spending enough on SLS. Also, they added quite a few millions to start up the EUS effort. So the definitive Hab will fly on SLS/EUS and will be more than six years. The issue is the prototype and how representative it will be.

Offline Mongo62

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #42 on: 12/31/2015 05:59 PM »
You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate.
Actually, you started talking about using FH for the Hab prototype. The Hab will fly with SLS/EUS, this is the current plan and thus it will be sized accordingly.
And regarding affordability, it's not what you believe to be but what US Congress is actually willing to pay. And in the 2016 budget, US Congress actually decided that NASA is not spending enough on SLS. Also, they added quite a few millions to start up the EUS effort. So the definitive Hab will fly on SLS/EUS and will be more than six years. The issue is the prototype and how representative it will be.

Perhaps FH could launch "a" hab, but not the Hab you are referring to. A Bigelow BA330 weighs about 20t, which is about what the FH can put into high Earth orbit. I am sure that Bigelow would love to have one of their stations there sooner rather than (much) later.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2015 08:10 PM by Mongo62 »

Offline baldusi

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #43 on: 12/31/2015 07:37 PM »
I stated that it would be perfect for a Cygnus based hab or, may be, a lightened BA330 sent to TLI. Who knows what they meant by a prototype by 2018. That's not even clear if it would be orbital.

Offline Im_Utrecht

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #44 on: 01/01/2016 04:41 AM »
Happy newyear everybody and i wish you a good 2016.

Who knows how weight an upgraded FH can sent to TLI in 2018 ?   ;)

I have a question;
A spacestation like the BA330 that is designed to withstand the rigors of space for years cannot survive the three first minutes of launch ? I mean considering the shape and size is it not possibele to adapt the design a bit so that the fairing might not be needed thus saving a lot of weight ?

I do not know if the size increase of S2 was optimized for F9 or FH. Perhaps they made a compromise but i have the feeling that it was for F9. Maybe later they could incease it again for FH but i remember that Elon some time ago said that he was afraid of bending.

« Last Edit: 01/01/2016 04:52 AM by Im_Utrecht »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #45 on: 01/01/2016 04:51 AM »
I stated that it would be perfect for a Cygnus based hab or, may be, a lightened BA330 sent to TLI. Who knows what they meant by a prototype by 2018. That's not even clear if it would be orbital.

Better still launch a standard BA330 with a ion propulsion module vs using the FH upper stage to reach high orbits or escape.

Heck even the addition of something like an enlarged PAM upper stage would probably increase the payload enough.
Though Spacex doesn't seem to have any plans to add a third stage esp a anything using solids.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2016 04:56 AM by Patchouli »

Offline intrepidpursuit

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #46 on: 01/01/2016 06:09 AM »
Happy newyear everybody and i wish you a good 2016.

Who knows how weight an upgraded FH can sent to TLI in 2018 ?   ;)

I have a question;
A spacestation like the BA330 that is designed to withstand the rigors of space for years cannot survive the three first minutes of launch ? I mean considering the shape and size is it not possibele to adapt the design a bit so that the fairing might not be needed thus saving a lot of weight ?

I do not know if the size increase of S2 was optimized for F9 or FH. Perhaps they made a compromise but i have the feeling that it was for F9. Maybe later they could incease it again for FH but i remember that Elon some time ago said that he was afraid of bending.

The thing everyone keeps forgetting when talking about a hab that doesn't need a fairing is that anything you build into the hab you have to take to orbit. But the fairing separates early in S2 flight, so it does not count directly against your payload weight the way a built in fairing would. This is why most satellites opt to use a fairing rather than have an aerodynamic design capable of hypersonic flight through the atmosphere. The only reason dragon does it is that it has to fly back anyway. Cygnus doesn't use a fairing for the reasons stated above.

Offline Im_Utrecht

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #47 on: 01/01/2016 07:59 PM »

Cygnus does use a fairing on the atlas V, see the year in review.
I agree that a build in fairing is not a good option.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #48 on: 01/03/2016 01:02 AM »
I believe the mass values on the FH SpaceX description page are that of the v1.1 and not of the FT. If they are then the FHv1.1 had a T/W of 1.29. But even with new and higher mass values for FHFT the T/W could be more than 1.4.

If they lower the T/W by throttling back the center core to 75% they get back to the T/W of ~1.29. An almost 25% longer burn time of the center core than the boosters would have an interesting performance boost to the FHFT  almost like that of a crossfeed.

Offline Dante2121

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #49 on: 01/03/2016 03:05 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?

Offline Arcas

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #50 on: 01/03/2016 03:08 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes
The risk I took was calculated, but boy am I bad at math.

Offline Dante2121

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #51 on: 01/03/2016 03:18 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?

Offline macpacheco

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #52 on: 01/03/2016 03:48 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?

It would need a lot of extra fuel to achieve sub orbital flight to go around the earth once.

Lets start from Musk's words: for ASDS landing, staging happens around 8000 Km/h at 100Km altitude.
For a once around orbit, speed would need to be something like twice as much.
Its much cheaper to turn the stage around for RTLS than to go once around.
Also RTLS results in a much slower re-entry, meaning a cheaper entry burn.
In a once around orbit, re-entry speed will be much higher, which would also require more fuel for entry.

Everything is much more difficult, as the first stage would be going quite deep into the second stage job (although without the 2nd stage attached).

Then there's the question if the stage could handle the extended coast after the end of the boostup burn and entry burn (something like 2 hours coast period), it would get ultra cold, something critical could freeze and prevent the re-entry burn.

Oh, and there's also the nagging problem of the stage flying over florida to land. Big complications with the FAA.

Even if fuel weren't an issue, there's a whole can of worms being openned in this scenario.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 03:51 AM by macpacheco »
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Online KelvinZero

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #53 on: 01/03/2016 03:56 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?
I think it would be in orbit pretty much by definition. It is following some ellipse that did not intersect the earth except possibly to skim at this one point.

..although, apparently a F9 first stage can put itself into orbit without payload. You would guess therefore that a falcon heavy could put its central core into orbit PLUS some additional payload if it wanted to, skipping the upper stage. Presumably it doesn't deliver enough to make this attractive, especially if including margin to return it.

I guess you would have to redesign your central core as a lifting body or something rather than include enough fuel to slow it sufficiently for a conventional 1st core landing.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 04:10 AM by KelvinZero »

Offline Nathan2go

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #54 on: 01/03/2016 04:03 AM »
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Certainly the FH center core could be made to reach orbit.   Those boosters basically are nearly light enough to fly to orbit as a single stage (perhaps with 0 payload), were it not for the sea-level nozzle optimization.  With the center of three cores optimized for high altitude and perhaps fewer engines, a reasonable payload capacity would result.

The problem is re-use.  The first stage cores are a bad shape for high speed re-entry: too long and skinny.  They are only stable when falling tail first, and you can't put pica-x insulating tiles on the engines, since they would shake loose, or the glue would melt.  As it is, F9 first stage doesn't even try to re-enter at Mach 6, it slows down first.  A Mach 25 re-entry would be much hotter.

If you watch the SpaceX re-usability video, it shows the upper stage re-entering nose first, then turning around in mid-flight (presumably as sub-sonic speed); the nose has a blunt heat shield.  Similarly, the Kistler K1 upper stage was supposed to re-enter nose first, using a blunt heat shield.  Also, the MD Delta Clipper was supposed to re-enter nose first, and turn-around in mid-flight (at sub-sonic speed).  The nose-first re-entry and mid-flight turn-around work fine for things that are short and stubby like a beer can and have a blunt heatshield.

An F9 first stage is too skinny to turn-around in mid-flight (even if you could stabilize it); it would snap in half unless it was heavily reinforced.

It is not out of the question to build an expendable center core that reaches orbit, and use parallel staging like the space shuttle, the early SLS block configuration, and Arian V.  This avoids the risks of starting engines in mid-flight.  However without a credible path to re-usability, I would not expect SpaceX to be interested.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2016 04:13 AM by Nathan2go »

Offline Mongo62

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #55 on: 01/03/2016 03:49 PM »
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.

Offline meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #56 on: 01/03/2016 05:00 PM »
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.
100% agreed.  I personally think we'll be seeing a lot of FHs flights for exactly this reason, and mission specific reusable second stages (LEO satellite deployers, tankers, etc)
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #57 on: 01/03/2016 06:22 PM »
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.
100% agreed.  I personally think we'll be seeing a lot of FHs flights for exactly this reason, and mission specific reusable second stages (LEO satellite deployers, tankers, etc)
Yes.
If 1st stage refurbishment costs $3M and a 1st stage cost to manufacture (even at $30M) flies 10X that is only an additional $12M per flight for a FHR than for a F9R at 3+ times the payload capability.
F9R ~ price estimate of $42M - $1,426/lb [13500kg]
FHR ~ price estimate of $56M - $570/lb [45000kg]

A dual manifested sat flight on a FHR would be $28M+ integration charges for each sat vs $42M+ integration charges on an F9R.

A price of $570/lb starts to get to the magical large structure in-space construction viability points such as for an SPS.

Offline Dante80

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #58 on: 01/07/2016 10:29 AM »
That would be a second FH launch inside 2016. That's...eh..very optimistic of him... :P
« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 10:41 AM by Dante80 »

Offline JamesH

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Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
« Reply #59 on: 01/07/2016 11:52 AM »
That would be a second FH launch inside 2016. That's...eh..very optimistic of him... :P

Optimistic? Really? Why? He clearly has much better visibility of SpaceX future schedule, since he is buying into it.

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