Author Topic: Chinese Research into Reusability  (Read 3720 times)

Offline 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 »

Online 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!

Offline 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"...
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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.

Offline 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.

Offline 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 »
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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.
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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?

Online 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.   




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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

Online 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 »
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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.

Online 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.

Online ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #20 on: 03/20/2017 06:22 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.

You haven't provided any evidence or reasoning to support it being 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.

Just like in 1940 nobody had demonstrated winning a war with aircraft carriers.

It will take several years for this to happen, at best.

Even if it takes 5 years from today for SpaceX and/or Blue Origin to do it, if it's going to happen, it's a mistake for China and other launch providers not to be going full speed on reusability at least to the SpaceX level right now.  It takes time to design, build, and test a new launch vehicle and to iron out all the bugs.

China and the rest are already way behind.  The fact that they still aren't embracing it means it will just take them longer to catch up.

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.

That is not remotely true.  It was fiercely debated within all the world's major navies.  Both the U.S. and Japan had aircraft carriers, but also battleships.  Many still viewed battleships and cruisers as more important.  Huge sums were wasted right up until the war started building battleships and cruisers.  Partway through the war, as it became apparent that aircraft carriers were so much more effective, many ships of other types that were under construction were converted to aircraft carriers, or just scrapped to start from scratch with carriers.

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)

That's exactly what the traditionalists said about battleships in the 1930s.

and 2) the case for reusability, is not yet as clearcut as wishful thinking would have it.

Again, we'll see.  If it takes more than 40 years, you're right, it's 1902.  If it takes five or fewer, you're wrong.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #21 on: 03/20/2017 02:15 PM »
The Chinese are doing reusability to lower their domestic launch costs. They not competiting inter nationally, so any saving is a success.
Definitely competing on international market. Small wins so far, but they do.

And again, a significant driver for their investments such as Wenchang launch complex and stated reason for reusability research, which has been going on for a couple years now, is to improve the public image.

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Online Dalhousie

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #22 on: 03/20/2017 10:48 PM »


Again, we'll see.  If it takes more than 40 years, you're right, it's 1902.  If it takes five or fewer, you're wrong.

In either case you are still wrong.  The value of maritime aviation was demonstrated by 1916.  I would hope that reusability in some form will have been demonstrated by 14 years from now.  Assuming  that progress rates will be comparable.  Which is unlikely. 

But you are still missing the point.  It's not the time scale, it's the readiness of the technology. To date nobody has reused a first stage, unless you want to count the SRBs. 
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Online ChrisWilson68

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #23 on: 03/21/2017 06:21 AM »


Again, we'll see.  If it takes more than 40 years, you're right, it's 1902.  If it takes five or fewer, you're wrong.

In either case you are still wrong.  The value of maritime aviation was demonstrated by 1916.  I would hope that reusability in some form will have been demonstrated by 14 years from now.  Assuming  that progress rates will be comparable.  Which is unlikely. 

But you are still missing the point.  It's not the time scale, it's the readiness of the technology. To date nobody has reused a first stage, unless you want to count the SRBs.

You're still not getting it.  I specifically said "demonstrated to win wars" because that's the equivalent of your "demonstrated economic reuse".  Lots related to reuse has been demonstrated already.  Asking that economic reuse be demonstrated by a competitor is like asking that aircraft carriers demonstrate they can win a war by winning a war.  By the time that happens, it's too late.

Anyway, I'm sure you won't get that either, but I'm confident other readers of this thread will understand, so I'm done with the conversation now.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Chinese Research into Reusability
« Reply #24 on: 03/30/2017 07:55 AM »


Again, we'll see.  If it takes more than 40 years, you're right, it's 1902.  If it takes five or fewer, you're wrong.

In either case you are still wrong.  The value of maritime aviation was demonstrated by 1916.  I would hope that reusability in some form will have been demonstrated by 14 years from now.  Assuming  that progress rates will be comparable.  Which is unlikely. 

But you are still missing the point.  It's not the time scale, it's the readiness of the technology. To date nobody has reused a first stage, unless you want to count the SRBs.

You're still not getting it.  I specifically said "demonstrated to win wars" because that's the equivalent of your "demonstrated economic reuse".  Lots related to reuse has been demonstrated already.  Asking that economic reuse be demonstrated by a competitor is like asking that aircraft carriers demonstrate they can win a war by winning a war.  By the time that happens, it's too late.

Anyway, I'm sure you won't get that either, but I'm confident other readers of this thread will understand, so I'm done with the conversation now.

I get what you are saying and still think you are wrong both analogically and factually.  The failure to understand is your part.
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