Author Topic: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations  (Read 26734 times)

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7045
  • N. California
  • Liked: 3492
  • Likes Given: 732
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #20 on: 03/07/2017 02:50 AM »
SpaceX needs to juggle two competing drives.

First, get F9B5 going already - stable, cheap to turn around, capable - in order to take advantage of the lead they currently have.

Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).  It would be negligent on SpaceX's part to assume that a second comer, with all the benefits of hindsight, won't be a better rocket than the current F9/FH system.  (Better means lower cost, easier to reuse, perhaps a reusable second stage, etc).

I do not know how they intend to compete with NG.  With upgrades to F9/FH, or by finding ways to use BFR.

But while IMO they can ignore the competitive thread from the forthcoming "expendable+" rockets, they can't just assume that BO won't compete with them directly.

I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 406
  • Likes Given: 717
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #21 on: 03/07/2017 03:40 AM »
SpaceX needs to juggle two competing drives.

First, get F9B5 going already - stable, cheap to turn around, capable - in order to take advantage of the lead they currently have.

Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).  It would be negligent on SpaceX's part to assume that a second comer, with all the benefits of hindsight, won't be a better rocket than the current F9/FH system.  (Better means lower cost, easier to reuse, perhaps a reusable second stage, etc).

I do not know how they intend to compete with NG.  With upgrades to F9/FH, or by finding ways to use BFR.

But while IMO they can ignore the competitive thread from the forthcoming "expendable+" rockets, they can't just assume that BO won't compete with them directly.

I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.

I think you're looking to far down the road.

SpaceX needs to launch payloads, whether it's with the FT or Block5.  Build, fly, finally deliver on the long promised flight rate.

Secondly, I just finished Musk's biography, I doubt he gives BO much of a thought.  They have their plan and a multi year lead.  BO is 3 years at best from launching an orbital vehicle. 
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Offline GWH

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #22 on: 03/07/2017 04:06 AM »
Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).   directly.

What they will be cometing against with Blue Origin is a company that has never launched orbital before, will be highly dependent on "nailing" reuse, and of course need to achive a launch cadence similar to what SpaceX had been trying for over the past 4 years.  Not to disparage BO but they will be starting 3 years min from now and whatever streamlining of operations Spacex makes.

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7045
  • N. California
  • Liked: 3492
  • Likes Given: 732
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #23 on: 03/07/2017 04:36 AM »
I agree with both assessments.  BO is at least 3 years from orbiting a rocket, and BO, unlike SpaceX, is a "lab company". It's operated with zero income and zero operational requirements.  Basically a funded-as-needed research project.

Still though.  SpaceX should capitalize on the lead that it has, but not assume that BO will fail to catch up.  ULA and Ariane did that and are consequently stuck on dead-end paths they can't pull out of - essentially hoping that SpaceX (and BO) will fail.

SpaceX should assume that BO will be successful with NG, and that NG will be a well thought out methane rocket. If it doesn't happen, from SpaceX's POV, even better.

BO has an incentive to succeed. They can be the only game in town for launching constellations other than CommX, and the other constellation planners do not stand a chance competing with SpaceX without a reusable rocket, since SpaceX will have far lower launch costs.

So BO doesn't have to field its own constellation - just cater to the other ones.  And Bezos can't possibly miss this observation.

Now NG is a bit large for the job, but if built well, it will have low turn-around costs, and they can use the extra size to enable second stage reuse, for example.

So for sure, SpaceX has to first and foremost get B5 flying ASAP and making money - but it'd be hugely ironic if they make the same mistakes Old Space made.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 07:18 AM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Online su27k

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 419
  • Liked: 222
  • Likes Given: 30
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #24 on: 03/07/2017 04:40 AM »
Instead of out-there upgrades like flyback from barge, I'm more interested in "mundane" changes, like:
1. Will fairing reuse be included in Block 5? I assume if there is some sort of certification it will have to cover the fairing too? This doesn't give them a lot of time to mature fairing reuse before Block 5's planned rollout date.
2. Will they be able to include some sort of permanent fix for the dreaded COPV in subcooled LOX issue?

Offline M.E.T.

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 117
  • Liked: 70
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #25 on: 03/07/2017 05:54 AM »
The estimate I saw for New Glenn's payload capability was between 35-70 tons to LEO. Falcon Heavy sits pretty much in the middle part of that range, and that's before Block 5 comes online, which may push it even higher.

And by the time New Glenn comes online, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy will have years of flight experience behind them. It seems to me that Falcon Heavy will be able to compete pretty well with New Glenn until ITS comes online in the mid 2020's. And at that point the game changes completely, as ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 05:54 AM by M.E.T. »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1802
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 1049
  • Likes Given: 466
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #26 on: 03/07/2017 06:15 AM »
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

Ok if something like CISLunar1000 took off then maybe there will be demand for large payloads to the moon and/or space stations. But that's rather OT.

It seems at the moment that SpaceX think F9 B5 and FH will cover likely demands for years.

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5743
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1397
  • Likes Given: 1107
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #27 on: 03/07/2017 06:56 AM »
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

If their cost estimates are anywhere near realistic, they can compete with launch cost of the Electron Small Sat launcher on a per launch basis, not by weight only.

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7045
  • N. California
  • Liked: 3492
  • Likes Given: 732
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #28 on: 03/07/2017 07:16 AM »
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

Ok if something like CISLunar1000 took off then maybe there will be demand for large payloads to the moon and/or space stations. But that's rather OT.

It seems at the moment that SpaceX think F9 B5 and FH will cover likely demands for years.

Well they did show ITS all over the solar system....  And purposely changed its name (ITS's?  ITS'?) from MCT.

IMO short trips to NEO objects and long trips to belt asteroids will be a thing - purchased by interested parties - and won't require the kind of changes that trips to the outer solar system will require.

ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline M.E.T.

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 117
  • Liked: 70
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #29 on: 03/07/2017 07:34 AM »
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

If their cost estimates are anywhere near realistic, they can compete with launch cost of the Electron Small Sat launcher on a per launch basis, not by weight only.

You raise a valid point, which is whether SpaceX has a long term replacement in mind for Falcon 9 to cater for smaller payloads once ITS is online. Could a fully Raptor based F9 sized rocket eventually be the answer to full reusability in the small to medium payload range? With ITS catering for the super heavy weight payloads?

Offline First Mate Rummey

  • Member
  • Posts: 29
  • Liked: 30
  • Likes Given: 10
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #30 on: 03/07/2017 07:59 AM »
The estimate I saw for New Glenn's payload capability was between 35-70 tons to LEO. Falcon Heavy sits pretty much in the middle part of that range, and that's before Block 5 comes online, which may push it even higher.

The specs currently published on spacex website are already referring to the Block 5 version.

Offline Semmel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 747
  • Germany
  • Liked: 494
  • Likes Given: 1620
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #31 on: 03/07/2017 09:32 AM »

That said, B5 can follow the F9 1.1 model.   

No, it can't.  Because hardware added after Block 5 would negate the certification. 
They are not going to scar vehicle for future mods.  That is the whole point of Block 5.  They will be done with development on Falcon 9 and only other future mods will be to fix problems and not to add a capability. 


I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights.....


I can and that is not an opinion.  Spacex has said they are done with F9 development after Block 5 on multiple occasions to multiple people.

Didnt you say that every launch vehicle of ULA always have minor changes and improvements over the last? I dont remember exactly where you said it but it stuck with me somehow.

Also, how do you know that a cradle landing requires certifiable changes to the upcoming F9B5? What in your opinion needs to be changed?

Offline Semmel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 747
  • Germany
  • Liked: 494
  • Likes Given: 1620
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #32 on: 03/07/2017 09:43 AM »
Before Semmel's observation, I was of the same opinion - that we might (might!) see F9 cradle landing as an isolated test towards BFR, sone on a land-based cradle, and that's that.

Semmel made a good connection in that barge fly-back, which presented so many difficulties when thought through, would become a lot easier if there was cradle landing there.

[...]

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.

Please dont forget that I made my observation on the assumption that SpaceX wants to develop Barge flyback. Which is a big assumption.

The question for me currently is: what is the reason for the current uncertainty in F9 landing position? It is fantastically accurate but for a cradle landing it has to improve. Is it actually flying F9 to the accuracy required? Or is it knowing the location relative to the ground that is the limiting factor? Do we have any information on that?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30185
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 8490
  • Likes Given: 271
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #33 on: 03/07/2017 12:14 PM »
Also, how do you know that a cradle landing requires certifiable changes to the upcoming F9B5?

There is no such thing

Offline gongora

  • Global Moderator
  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 852
  • US
  • Liked: 511
  • Likes Given: 461
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #34 on: 03/07/2017 12:29 PM »
I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.

Thinking too much like this has killed many projects in many industries.  The Falcon design is fairly mature at this point.  If it can't meet their future needs then it would make more sense to design another vehicle in the future instead of screwing up their current vehicle.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1802
  • UK
    • Plan 28
  • Liked: 1049
  • Likes Given: 466
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #35 on: 03/07/2017 01:26 PM »
They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

FWIW Gwynne Shotwell did say Mars only in one of her Space Show appearances. She was saying that they didn't see a market for BFR/MCT (as was) beyond Mars. I distinctly remember because she was answering my question!

Clearly things have moved on in terms of potential ITS use for solar system exploration etc. But I'm not sure SpaceX are expecting other customers. Of course if the market changes, CISLunar1000?, they'll respond.

Sorry, OT - will be quiet now :)
« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 01:38 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2470
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 406
  • Likes Given: 717
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #36 on: 03/07/2017 02:09 PM »
All SpaceX really needs to do is fly every 2 or 3 weeks for 12 months and show they can manage that flight rate.

They have a lot of other non-booster capabilities to develop first.  Dragon 2, Brownsville Launch pad, vertical integration, FH at VAFB (if ever needed), space suits, design, build, deploy and manage the largest satellite constellation every.  Just a couple things.

I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

Edit: And build crew access and egress at LC39A.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2017 02:11 PM by wannamoonbase »
I know they don't need it, but Crossfeed would be super cool.

Offline punder

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 345
  • Liked: 279
  • Likes Given: 119
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #37 on: 03/07/2017 02:14 PM »
I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

If Elon Musk isn't ignoring it, maybe we shouldn't either.

Whaddaya know, I'm a fanboi!!

Offline meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7045
  • N. California
  • Liked: 3492
  • Likes Given: 732
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #38 on: 03/07/2017 02:41 PM »
Before Semmel's observation, I was of the same opinion - that we might (might!) see F9 cradle landing as an isolated test towards BFR, sone on a land-based cradle, and that's that.

Semmel made a good connection in that barge fly-back, which presented so many difficulties when thought through, would become a lot easier if there was cradle landing there.

[...]

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.

Please dont forget that I made my observation on the assumption that SpaceX wants to develop Barge flyback. Which is a big assumption.

The question for me currently is: what is the reason for the current uncertainty in F9 landing position? It is fantastically accurate but for a cradle landing it has to improve. Is it actually flying F9 to the accuracy required? Or is it knowing the location relative to the ground that is the limiting factor? Do we have any information on that?
Yes, always taken as such.  This is just a discussion, not trying to make prediction.

I said above, barge cradle landing will require adding homing (in x-y), but to the landing algorithm, it's the same thing. (Replacing the gps-based error term with an error term provided by the homing sensor, whatever it is)

The only motivation would be if the barge can't retrieve the stages fast enough, and adding another barge is "too much"

The motivation for land barge  landing would be limited trials ahead of BFR,  if they add value. 

I'm not sure about certification, since Atlas and Delta are not certified per each configuration of SRBs, right?

But anyway, any legless flights won't interfere with certification of flights that fly with legs.

NG can be ignored for now, I agree, in the sense that "there's no rush."  But it doesn't hurt to keep options open for later.

But don't be surprised if it becomes a real competitor with all the advantages of a "clean build" and a second comer, and with real customers.
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline alang

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 126
  • Liked: 33
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #39 on: 03/07/2017 03:13 PM »
All SpaceX really needs to do is fly every 2 or 3 weeks for 12 months and show they can manage that flight rate.

They have a lot of other non-booster capabilities to develop first.  Dragon 2, Brownsville Launch pad, vertical integration, FH at VAFB (if ever needed), space suits, design, build, deploy and manage the largest satellite constellation every.  Just a couple things.

I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

Edit: And build crew access and egress at LC39A.

A lot of the things you discuss don't overlap except that they all need money.
As others have said, it is unlikely that Musk cares where the money comes from in order to achieve his goals and that includes, the government, 'tourism' and money he might make in his other ventures that we're not allowed to talk about on this site.
The situation keeps changing and in three years time he could be out of business and starting from scratch or having money to burn on ITS.
Even if he goes out of business he has changed the game - witness the behaviour of Tory Bruno on social media who has clearly bought into the benefits of creating a public following for a vision.

Tags: