Author Topic: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher  (Read 287665 times)

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1060 on: 07/08/2017 07:55 PM »
Okay, 3D-printed engines, that could be a good way to produce 500 units per year. But how do they intend to manufacture 50 sets of carbon fiber kerolox rocket stages per year? I realize it's not a huge vehicle, but that seems like a pretty labor-intensive enterprise.
They want to automate composite tank construction. I don't how they plan to do it but this video is one possible way. Just like engines scaling is easy, just buy more 3D printers or robotics.

Production line assembly of engines and stages shouldn't be any different from any other massed produced product.

It is not only small LV that are being massed produced but also small satellites, Airbus and Oneweb are gearing up to make 100s a year.


Online whitelancer64

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1061 on: 07/17/2017 05:02 PM »
Offhand, does anyone know how much payload Electron can throw into a direct TLI?
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline Skyrocket

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1062 on: 07/17/2017 05:11 PM »
Offhand, does anyone know how much payload Electron can throw into a direct TLI?

None. It is a LEO launcher.

Customers like Moon Express need to provide their own propulsion in the payload for TLI.

Online whitelancer64

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1063 on: 07/17/2017 05:15 PM »
Offhand, does anyone know how much payload Electron can throw into a direct TLI?

None. It is a LEO launcher.

Customers like Moon Express need to provide their own propulsion in the payload for TLI.

The CEO of Rocket Lab has said that the Electron is capable of sending a payload to the Moon, via direct TLI.

"In the meantime, Rocket Lab continues to prepare for the Moon Express mission, one of the contenders for the Google Lunar X Prize competition. The California-based company is buying three Electron launches to send versions of its MX-1 lunar lander. “The first vehicle is being manufactured as we speak,” [CEO Peter] Beck says. The mission is designed to launch slightly under 10 kg to the lunar surface. “It’s a more unusual mission for us,” he adds.

As the goal is to reach [lunar] transfer orbit, “it is an easier mission for us. It’s an easier trajectory for us than Sun-synchronous, so it is very simple with no additional burn needed to circularize the orbit.” The mission will, however, “stretch the legs” of the Electron, adds Beck. The first of the Moon Express launches is also scheduled by year’s end."

http://aviationweek.com/space/rocket-lab-well-ahead-after-initial-launch-test
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Comga

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1064 on: 07/17/2017 05:41 PM »
It's actually a new article with real quotes from a journalist I respect... and that's saying a lot.

I'm really glad to see Beck's goal of regular launches hasn't died, yet. One of the fundamental tenants of the Cheap Access To Space belief that Beck appears to subscribe to is that you build a market by launching on a regular schedule, whether there's payloads available or not. This gives confidence to your sales force that the capacity really is there and when the industry sees launch space going to waste they line up for discounts. Soon you have more demand than supply and prices increase. This puts pressure on your engineering team to increase their output. A virtuous cycle forms.

Planet has what must be pretty expendable payloads for RocketLab's second and third test flight.
There's probably always an underfunded payload somewhere waiting for a free ride. 
Is that what you meant by "launch space going to waste"?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1065 on: 07/17/2017 06:03 PM »
MX1E is 250kg fully fuelled, Electron is only good for about 200-250kg to LEO.

MX1E will be doing all the work from LEO to surface, at 5.8km/s it has just enough DV to do it.

As cubesat fan I think the 1st stage of MX2 is just as interesting as landers. This is basically earth departure stage allowing cubesats launched on Electron to be delivered directly to GEO, LLO and beyond.
While there are cubesat propulsion systems in development that can take them from LEO to Jupiter, having LV deliver them to earth escape,  would free up more mass for useful payloads. Plus allow for simpler/cheaper propulsion systems.

There may end up being more commercial demand for EDS than lander.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 06:06 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1066 on: 07/18/2017 06:34 AM »
Update from 14 June 2017. We'll be getting live streaming for the next flights. Rocketlab have also changed their twitter handle to @RocketLab.

https://www.rocketlabusa.com/latest/progress-update-june/

"We’re busy analyzing data from flight one, and I know everyone is looking forward to hearing what we have learned. While we have a strong understanding of why we believe we didn’t quite reach orbit, we’ll be looking to make a formal conclusion about an absolute root cause. As soon as we’re ready, we’ll look to make more details publicly available."

"One of piece of news which may be of interest - we’re supported by a wonderful fan base, and in recognition of them we have made the commitment to stream our second and third test flight."
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1067 on: 07/19/2017 11:00 AM »
MX1E is 250kg fully fuelled, Electron is only good for about 200-250kg to LEO.

MX1E will be doing all the work from LEO to surface, at 5.8km/s it has just enough DV to do it.

There may end up being more commercial demand for EDS than lander.
IOW the payload is borderline for the launcher, but both are in spec, as long as the launcher performs at least to spec, and the payload mass does not grow.

IRL all launchers have a margin for mass growth so it's tough, but that's the price you pay for building a payload with an ambitious target on a limited budget.

If successful it will be a significant coup for RocketLab.

An EDS for cubesats?

Now if they could get JPL interested....
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1068 on: 07/19/2017 03:45 PM »
MX express are not totally relying on Electron for future missions, MX2 will most likely fly on LauncherOne.

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1069 on: 07/30/2017 04:56 PM »
Quote
Analysis of data from Rocket Lab’s first Electron test flight in May “could be available” in the next week:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11896478

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/891656572228833284

Offline SpacemanSpliff

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1070 on: 07/31/2017 01:21 PM »
Quote
Analysis of data from Rocket Lab’s first Electron test flight in May “could be available” in the next week:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11896478

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/891656572228833284

That is exciting for us following Rocket Lab!  There was also this from the article

Quote
Beck said then a second test launch was about two or three months away and the company hoped to get its commercial launches underway as soon as it was satisfied with the test programme.

I recall them saying after the first launch, that the next test launch was anticipated in 2 months. 2 months later and it's 2 to 3 months out. Of course, want to see the next one succeed and another 3 months wait is worth it to help ensure success, but things are getting really tight for Moon Express.

Offline EgorBotts

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1071 on: 07/31/2017 01:35 PM »
Well, there will always be optimists and pessimists until we actually see second flight hardware getting to the processing/launch site. The "2 to 3 months away" have been extensively used in RocketLab's history before.

Remember when Peter Beck stated they were 6 months to launch the prototype flight, and we were mid-2015?

Anyway not to imply that they won't respect this new deadline, there are the next step I'm waiting for on the RocketLab side that would make me more confident:
- Pictures of 2nd flight hardware (always good on the PR side)
- Incident/victorious failure report about the first flight.
- Some info on the payload side since I understand the 2nd flight will target a satellite injection.

Online QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1072 on: 07/31/2017 10:43 PM »
Remember when Peter Beck stated they were 6 months to launch the prototype flight, and we were mid-2015?

I'm not sure why this always happens. The press asks for a launch date. The company lists off the things they have to get done and why they hope to finish getting them done. The inevitable happens - in this case the local politicians tried to squeeze them on the launch site, so they had to start all over again at a different location - and slips occur. I imagine this is what you're referring to:

Quote
The first Electron rocket is supposed to launch this year, and though Beck didn’t have a specific date on hand, he gave “mid-December” as the current target.

“It would be nice if we were just building a rocket. If we were just building a rocket, life would be far easier. But, we’re not,” Beck said.

Besides the rocket, they have to complete the launch range, the tracking infrastructure with sites across the globe, and the FAA licensing process, among other things.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/commercial/rocket-lab-electron-rutherford-peter-beck-started-first-place/#cMtTxcPMofXRsvsq.99

I think that was pretty clear, but all you remember is Dec 2015.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1073 on: 07/31/2017 11:32 PM »
Remember when Peter Beck stated they were 6 months to launch the prototype flight, and we were mid-2015?

I'm not sure why this always happens. The press asks for a launch date. The company lists off the things they have to get done and why they hope to finish getting them done. The inevitable happens - in this case the local politicians tried to squeeze them on the launch site, so they had to start all over again at a different location - and slips occur. I imagine this is what you're referring to:

Quote
The first Electron rocket is supposed to launch this year, and though Beck didn’t have a specific date on hand, he gave “mid-December” as the current target.

“It would be nice if we were just building a rocket. If we were just building a rocket, life would be far easier. But, we’re not,” Beck said.

Besides the rocket, they have to complete the launch range, the tracking infrastructure with sites across the globe, and the FAA licensing process, among other things.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/commercial/rocket-lab-electron-rutherford-peter-beck-started-first-place/#cMtTxcPMofXRsvsq.99

I think that was pretty clear, but all you remember is Dec 2015.

But... But... I thought only Elon Musk 'lied' about launch dates.  ;D

Offline CameronD

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1074 on: 07/31/2017 11:37 PM »
Remember when Peter Beck stated they were 6 months to launch the prototype flight, and we were mid-2015?

I'm not sure why this always happens. The press asks for a launch date. The company lists off the things they have to get done and why they hope to finish getting them done. The inevitable happens - in this case the local politicians tried to squeeze them on the launch site, so they had to start all over again at a different location - and slips occur. I imagine this is what you're referring to:

Quote
The first Electron rocket is supposed to launch this year, and though Beck didn’t have a specific date on hand, he gave “mid-December” as the current target.

“It would be nice if we were just building a rocket. If we were just building a rocket, life would be far easier. But, we’re not,” Beck said.

Besides the rocket, they have to complete the launch range, the tracking infrastructure with sites across the globe, and the FAA licensing process, among other things.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/missions/commercial/rocket-lab-electron-rutherford-peter-beck-started-first-place/#cMtTxcPMofXRsvsq.99

I think that was pretty clear, but all you remember is Dec 2015.

But... But... I thought only Elon Musk 'lied' about launch dates.  ;D

..and all he had to do was build a rocket.  ;D
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Online QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1075 on: 08/01/2017 12:44 AM »
But... But... I thought only Elon Musk 'lied' about launch dates.  ;D

RocketLab's development has been a lot more transparent than SpaceX's, but they're both great compared to... say, Blue Origin.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Offline EgorBotts

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1076 on: 08/01/2017 07:07 AM »
Well, my intention wasn't to (re)start the debate about the supposed 2015 launch date (since you're interested though, my POV on the subject is that Mr Beck was dreaming or unaware of the subject of launchpads in 2015, and I remember reading the same ITW thinking "how in the world could he achieve that"). It's been nearly 2 years now, and compared to the others majors in the market at the time (Firefly and Virgin Orbit) RocketLab is not in a bad position.

I simply wanted to point out that stated agendas are sometime more a state of mind that real, hardware achievable dates: the 2-3 months stated timeframe could very well be an optimist range... And that is why I listed the 3 main points to observe in order to better qualify the remaining time before the second launch. Those are the few evidence I'm really looking for.


Offline Comga

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1077 on: 08/03/2017 09:40 PM »
Moved from the "Maiden Flight" thread about L-M launching Electron from Scotland:

As someone who has spent a winter in the Outer Hebrides... there was some concern earlier about winter weather holding up launches from Mahia, and I can't imagine this site being very different from that point of view. 

Except that the winter weather would be offset from that of NZ by half a year.
One of the two sites would always be in or near summer.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1078 on: 08/03/2017 09:47 PM »
Moved from the "Maiden Flight" thread about L-M launching Electron from Scotland:

As someone who has spent a winter in the Outer Hebrides... there was some concern earlier about winter weather holding up launches from Mahia, and I can't imagine this site being very different from that point of view. 

Except that the winter weather would be offset from that of NZ by half a year.
One of the two sites would always be in or near summer.
Winter weather not that bad. We tend to get fronts rolling through every few days with nice day or two between fronts. There should be at least 1-2 days a week when weather is good. Even more options if they can do night launches.

Offline Andrew_W

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #1079 on: 08/03/2017 10:24 PM »
Moved from the "Maiden Flight" thread about L-M launching Electron from Scotland:

As someone who has spent a winter in the Outer Hebrides... there was some concern earlier about winter weather holding up launches from Mahia, and I can't imagine this site being very different from that point of view. 

Except that the winter weather would be offset from that of NZ by half a year.
One of the two sites would always be in or near summer.

The point on the Globe exactly opposite Mahia is about 200 km south east of Madrid.
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