Author Topic: Chinese Research into Reusability  (Read 3428 times)

Online sanman

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Chinese Research into Reusability
« on: 03/17/2017 06:46 AM »
Here's an article about research in China toward developing recoverable/reusable rocket stages to lower the cost of space launch:

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2079822/china-developing-system-recover-reuse-parts-space

Quote
SpaceX has performed a series of successful vertical landings which demonstrate the technology’s feasibility, but Chinese researchers have rejected the approach, the article said.
Deng wrote that the vertical landing system needed carrying extra fuel for landing, which meant rockets could only carry smaller payloads into space.
...
The Chinese launch vehicle academy researchers have said on their website that the parachute-airbag system will be assisted by multiple censors and a sophisticated flight control system to guide the descent. The final goal was to hit a small recovery zone as precisely as the vertical landing technology can achieve.

So it seems that in the comparison of fuel+legs against parachutes+airbags, that the latter is seen as a better option, at least at this juncture.

How soon could we see stuff flying?
« Last Edit: 03/17/2017 11:35 PM by sanman »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #1 on: 03/17/2017 06:59 AM »
Quote
The Chinese launch vehicle academy researchers have said on their website that the parachute-airbag system will be assisted by multiple censors

Those Chinese sure are serious about their censorship!

Online Johnnyhinbos

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #2 on: 03/17/2017 09:44 AM »
Quote
The Chinese launch vehicle academy researchers have said on their website that the parachute-airbag system will be assisted by multiple censors

Those Chinese sure are serious about their censorship!
I think it's "Censor Ship"...
John Hanzl. Author, action / adventure www.johnhanzl.com

Online MikeAtkinson

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #3 on: 03/17/2017 11:20 AM »
So it seems that in the comparison of fuel+legs against parachutes+airbags, that the latter is seen as a better option, at least at this juncture.

Neither parachutes or airbags scale well.

Not too bad a solution for a smallsat launcher, but starts to get iffy at EELV size (not sure if Vulcan could return whole stage by parachute even if they wanted to). Parachutes and airbags are completely impractical at New Glen let alone ITS size.

Also airbags and parachutes add quite a bit off mass, probably not as much mass as the extra fuel for a powered landing, but replacing cheap fuel with expensive hardware and extra refurbishment may end up more expensive in the end.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #4 on: 03/17/2017 04:10 PM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Offline notsorandom

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #5 on: 03/17/2017 07:03 PM »
So it seems that in the comparison of fuel+legs against parachutes+airbags, that the latter is seen as a better option, at least at this juncture.

Neither parachutes or airbags scale well.

Not too bad a solution for a smallsat launcher, but starts to get iffy at EELV size (not sure if Vulcan could return whole stage by parachute even if they wanted to). Parachutes and airbags are completely impractical at New Glen let alone ITS size.

Also airbags and parachutes add quite a bit off mass, probably not as much mass as the extra fuel for a powered landing, but replacing cheap fuel with expensive hardware and extra refurbishment may end up more expensive in the end.
The STS SRB's were recovered via parachute and had a dry mass of around 90 metric tons. They were really strong, being a lot sturdier than a liquid stage. Air bags might be pretty tricky for something that big though.

Online su27k

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #6 on: 03/18/2017 01:48 AM »
So it seems that in the comparison of fuel+legs against parachutes+airbags, that the latter is seen as a better option, at least at this juncture.

Neither parachutes or airbags scale well.

Not too bad a solution for a smallsat launcher, but starts to get iffy at EELV size (not sure if Vulcan could return whole stage by parachute even if they wanted to). Parachutes and airbags are completely impractical at New Glen let alone ITS size.

Also airbags and parachutes add quite a bit off mass, probably not as much mass as the extra fuel for a powered landing, but replacing cheap fuel with expensive hardware and extra refurbishment may end up more expensive in the end.

Didn't Kistler plan to use parachutes and airbags? K-1 is a bit small for EELV but not a smallsat launcher either. I suspect this choice may have something to do with the engine arrangement on the new Chinese LVs, they don't have a lot of engines, so it would be difficult for them to do retro-propulsion landing without some dedicated landing engines.

Offline Prettz

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #7 on: 03/18/2017 03:46 PM »
So it seems that in the comparison of fuel+legs against parachutes+airbags, that the latter is seen as a better option, at least at this juncture.

Neither parachutes or airbags scale well.

Not too bad a solution for a smallsat launcher, but starts to get iffy at EELV size (not sure if Vulcan could return whole stage by parachute even if they wanted to). Parachutes and airbags are completely impractical at New Glen let alone ITS size.

Also airbags and parachutes add quite a bit off mass, probably not as much mass as the extra fuel for a powered landing, but replacing cheap fuel with expensive hardware and extra refurbishment may end up more expensive in the end.
From the animation it looks like they only want to use this for strap-on boosters.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #8 on: 03/18/2017 08:03 PM »
Previous reports about reusable launcher research in China have cited rocket debris falling over populated areas as the main driver of this.

Steerable semi autonomous parafoils would make quite a bit of sense for this IMHO. Especially because the tech is very much dual use. Think JPADS-30K equivalent systems
« Last Edit: 03/18/2017 08:21 PM by savuporo »
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #9 on: 03/18/2017 08:47 PM »
Surprised they didn't do mid air recovery with helicopter, the boosters a light enough for it.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #10 on: 03/19/2017 06:47 PM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #11 on: 03/19/2017 06:55 PM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.

The ability to successfully recover a stage using parachutes and landing a stage on it's side has not been proven either, yet they appear to be betting their program on that assumption.

Landing a stage vertically under power has been proven, both on land and at sea.  By more than one U.S. company.  Is it difficult?  Of course.  Many things in life are, yet humanity still does them.

There is something going on in the Chinese launch vehicle academy that we don't yet understand with regards to their goals for reusability, and the resources they want to devote to achieving that.  And they may have internal conflicts that are not yet resolved, which is why we see this pooh-poohing of what SpaceX has done.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #12 on: 03/19/2017 07:30 PM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.

That's kind of like saying "the ability of an aircraft carrrier to win a war has yet to be demonstrated, so we're going to keep sinking all our money into battleships" in 1940.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #13 on: 03/20/2017 12:02 AM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.

That's kind of like saying "the ability of an aircraft carrrier to win a war has yet to be demonstrated, so we're going to keep sinking all our money into battleships" in 1940.

What you are proposing is like saying we should stop all investment in battleships in 1902 because there is some interesting work happening in heavier than air flight in a few places.

Note that there is nothing that says that China is not interested in further work this field.They have merely decided that one approach is not viable.   




"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline tonya

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #14 on: 03/20/2017 12:53 AM »
Some similarity to what might have been Energia's approach to booster recovery.

http://www.buran-energia.com/energia/energia-consti-1eretage.php

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #15 on: 03/20/2017 03:40 AM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.

That's kind of like saying "the ability of an aircraft carrrier to win a war has yet to be demonstrated, so we're going to keep sinking all our money into battleships" in 1940.

What you are proposing is like saying we should stop all investment in battleships in 1902 because there is some interesting work happening in heavier than air flight in a few places.

Note that there is nothing that says that China is not interested in further work this field.They have merely decided that one approach is not viable.

In 1902, it would be 40 years before aircraft carriers were demonstrated to win wars.  In 1940, that would be demonstrated within 5 years.

So, you think it's 1902 with respect to reusable rockets and I think it's 1940.  In other words, if reusable rockets demonstrate economic viability within 5 years, I'm right.  If they demonstrate economic viability only after 40 more years, you're right.

Place your bets now.  SpaceX, Blue Origin, ULA, Arianespace, Russia, and China have placed theirs.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #16 on: 03/20/2017 04:17 AM »
I think this quote is more telling:

Quote
Deng Xinyu, a researcher on the Chinese rocket recovery programme, said that vertical landing involved many challenges and was extremely difficult to achieve.

Is the real reason they rejected it because they don't think they can do it?

Or not worth doing at this stage.  Remember the economic viability of reusability has yet to be demonstrated.

That's kind of like saying "the ability of an aircraft carrrier to win a war has yet to be demonstrated, so we're going to keep sinking all our money into battleships" in 1940.

What you are proposing is like saying we should stop all investment in battleships in 1902 because there is some interesting work happening in heavier than air flight in a few places.

Note that there is nothing that says that China is not interested in further work this field.They have merely decided that one approach is not viable.

In 1902, it would be 40 years before aircraft carriers were demonstrated to win wars.  In 1940, that would be demonstrated within 5 years.

So, you think it's 1902 with respect to reusable rockets and I think it's 1940.  In other words, if reusable rockets demonstrate economic viability within 5 years, I'm right.  If they demonstrate economic viability only after 40 more years, you're right.

Place your bets now.  SpaceX, Blue Origin, ULA, Arianespace, Russia, and China have placed theirs.

Still a bad analogy. Barring the STS, nobody has demonstrated technical reusability of an orbital launch system.  Nobody has yet demonstrated economic viability of such systems. It will take several years for this to happen, at best.  Maybe longer.  In 1970 many of us thought we were on the verge of reusable rockets too.

In 1940 nobody questioned the importance, indeed centrality, of heavier than air maritime aviation.  In 1902 nobody knew it it was possible (barring man-carrying kites). 

But you are missing the points here, not just making a poor historical analogy.  The points are that 1) the Chinese may be quite justified in giving up one particular approach (not that they can't achieve it) and 2) the case for reusability, is not yet as clearcut as wishful thinking would have it.
« Last Edit: 03/20/2017 04:35 AM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline gospacex

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #17 on: 03/20/2017 05:01 AM »
SpaceX rocketcams show it rather clearly. 1st stage goes down from near vacuum into atmosphere at a frightening velocity, visually at Mach 5 or more, and at 45 degrees or steeper. How chutes are going to stop this?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #18 on: 03/20/2017 05:20 AM »
The Chinese are doing reusability to lower their domestic launch costs. They not competiting inter nationally, so any saving is a success.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #19 on: 03/20/2017 06:09 AM »
The Chinese are doing reusability to lower their domestic launch costs. They not competiting inter nationally, so any saving is a success.

Ah, but they are still competing internationally, because if they let a U.S. launch company provide much cheaper launch to the U.S. military then China is at a strategic disadvantage.

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