Author Topic: Who will compete with SpaceX? The last two and next two years.  (Read 47340 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3076
  • I live... along the coast
  • Liked: 1933
  • Likes Given: 2234
Most of those Hawthorn & McGregor engineers are not new product development engineers.  They're production and test.

I'm baffled by this statement too.

At their Hawthorne facility they have new product development going on for Falcon 9 Block 5 (i.e. upgraded legs, upgraded fins, upgraded octoweb, etc.), recoverable fairings, and Dragon spacecraft. All of that work is applicable to the BFR/BFS.

At their McGregor test facility that has always been the place for new product development, and they have been working on not only the upgraded Merlin engine, but for years now they have been working on Raptor - which is to be used on the BFR/BFS.

They do have production and test personnel at both locations, and they are still ramping up.

But I don't see any evidence of a lack of new product development engineers - where are you thinking they went?

Quote
Some evidence of lack of a serious R&D staff assigned to ITS can be gleaned from the incomplete state of the 2 year delayed ITS plan finally revealed last September and the real soon now delayed announcement of an ITS update, likely a serious revision of the incomplete (q.v. development cost, launch site aspects, etc.) insufficiently vetted September 2016 plan.  It is not news as Elon has said that re-assigning the development team to ITS awaits the completion of the items I cited.

As someone that has been responsible for communicating schedule commitments, I've always viewed Musk pronouncements as "Best Effort" dates, not "Not To Exceed" - especially ones that don't have external customers yet.

Also, and we should all remember this, Elon Musk and SpaceX are doing things that just a few short years ago were considered "IMPOSSIBLE!!", so I tend towards cutting them a lot of slack when they change things. I'm just excited that they have committed to trying. YMMV.

Quote
I have always contended that available R&D cash is THE largest obstacle to ITS success and certainly to schedule.

As I already stated, I don't hold them to any schedule date since I'm just pleased someone is doing what they are doing.

As for money, I'm not worried about having enough money for the design phase, but having enough money for production and test of flyable versions of the BFR and BFS is certainly a concern. So I expect we'll hear about additional money being put into SpaceX in the not too distant future. Musk always seem to have a plan for what's next, so we just need to find out what it is...
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 Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26262
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6222
  • Likes Given: 4569
Bottom line: best evidence indicates that SpaceX does not have the requisite well resourced engineering R&D team assigned to ITS nor will they be available real soon now.

The development teams are not the obstacle. As long as they are able to keep paying their staff and maintaining Hawthorne and McGregor they have all the development capacity they need. As soon as they complete their Falcon development which will be by the end of this year.

Building a large pad and a large factory for ITS are more difficult to finance.

Most of those Hawthorn & McGregor engineers are not new product development engineers.  They're production and test. Some evidence of lack of a serious R&D staff assigned to ITS can be gleaned from the incomplete state of the 2 year delayed ITS plan finally revealed last September and the real soon now delayed announcement of an ITS update, likely a serious revision of the incomplete (q.v. development cost, launch site aspects, etc.) insufficiently vetted September 2016 plan.  It is not news as Elon has said that re-assigning the development team to ITS awaits the completion of the items I cited.

I have always contended that available R&D cash is THE largest obstacle to ITS success and certainly to schedule.

Though it probably is true that R&D cash is one limiting factor, look at the progress to date.  Raptor is a third larger than two other engines being developed in parallel by two other companies that have a fraction of the development activities ongoing compared to SpaceX.  Raptor is the most sophisticated of the three engines, too.  Today, a fully operational Raptor is on the stand and testing is moving quickly. Where do the competitors' engines stand?

A sub-scale ITS will be developed on a timeline comparable to that of the vehicles for which these other new engines are destined -- Vulcan and New Glenn -- yet be at a scale that dwarf both.  In fact, it may be operational before the Block 1B of SLS which is primitive technology-wise, had a huge head start, and has Billions of R&D monies.
Heck, there's even an outside chance that a subscale ITS could beat even SLS block I. Even 2019 isn't looking that good for SLS these days. And NASA is vulnerable to delays of both the rocket and the spacecraft.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 02:45 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline philw1776

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 736
  • Seacoast NH
  • Liked: 399
  • Likes Given: 218
Most of those Hawthorn & McGregor engineers are not new product development engineers.  They're production and test. Some evidence of lack of a serious R&D staff assigned to ITS can be gleaned from the incomplete state of the 2 year delayed ITS plan finally revealed last September and the real soon now delayed announcement of an ITS update, likely a serious revision of the incomplete (q.v. development cost, launch site aspects, etc.) insufficiently vetted September 2016 plan.  It is not news as Elon has said that re-assigning the development team to ITS awaits the completion of the items I cited.

I have always contended that available R&D cash is THE largest obstacle to ITS success and certainly to schedule.

I am somewhat baffled by your line of argument. It has been said before that right now only a tiny group is assigned to ITS development. There is however a very capable team for development of Falcon and Merlin that will soon complete their present task. They will then take on ITS. This has been clearly stated by Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell, and others. So how do you get to the conclusion there will not be a capable engineering team for ITS development?

We know that there even now is a team on development of Raptor. There has been ongoing development since 2014 at least, resulting in a fully functional, though subscale engine on the teststand that has successfully gone through a long series of tests.

That is not what I meant.  I was responding to your earlier post, but I can see the confusion created.
I say they have to wait until the other items are done and they are not yet done.

My original comments exerpted..
"FH development is not yet done and resources not yet re-assigned.  That won't fully happen until after a flight or so when final flight originated design tweaks get phased in. Crew Dragon engineering efforts will likely continue moving rightward all through 2018 into 2019.  Structural development for ITS had a setback with the premature failure, so it seems, of the 12m composite tank.  Raptor development my be the item most on schedule.  Unknown.

Recent outreach to the US government for milestone funding indicates that, as expected, R&D funding for ITS is a big yet unresolved issue.

Bottom line: best evidence indicates that SpaceX does not have the requisite well resourced engineering R&D team assigned to ITS nor will they be available real soon now.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 01:50 PM by philw1776 »
“When it looks more like an alien dreadnought, that’s when you know you’ve won.”

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4210
  • Liked: 2526
  • Likes Given: 3530
Lithium-Aluminum tankage with retractable landing legs... research is done if they revert to that tech for the subscale version.  Avionics essentially done.  Software essentially done.  Grid fins and control technology essentially done.  Landing pad done.  Etc., etc., etc.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Offline kaiser

  • Member
  • Posts: 40
  • Liked: 51
  • Likes Given: 16
Most of those Hawthorn & McGregor engineers are not new product development engineers.  They're production and test. Some evidence of lack of a serious R&D staff assigned to ITS can be gleaned from the incomplete state of the 2 year delayed ITS plan finally revealed last September and the real soon now delayed announcement of an ITS update, likely a serious revision of the incomplete (q.v. development cost, launch site aspects, etc.) insufficiently vetted September 2016 plan.  It is not news as Elon has said that re-assigning the development team to ITS awaits the completion of the items I cited.

I have always contended that available R&D cash is THE largest obstacle to ITS success and certainly to schedule.

I am somewhat baffled by your line of argument. It has been said before that right now only a tiny group is assigned to ITS development. There is however a very capable team for development of Falcon and Merlin that will soon complete their present task. They will then take on ITS. This has been clearly stated by Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell, and others. So how do you get to the conclusion there will not be a capable engineering team for ITS development?

We know that there even now is a team on development of Raptor. There has been ongoing development since 2014 at least, resulting in a fully functional, though subscale engine on the teststand that has successfully gone through a long series of tests.

You're kind of talking past his point.  He's talking about the posted schedule being unobtainable.  Largely because most of the engineering staff is still finishing off FH, Raptor, and others. 

Once those people pivot, then yea, there's your team.  But the actual ITS timeline is really very slippery until FH is flying reliably.  That makes lining up the resources, funding, pad construction, everything else really slippery too.

Nothing wrong with that -- they have a good team.  You're just saying that there's a team, and he's just saying that they're not assigned to ITS yet, and won't be for a while longer.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2017 01:59 PM by kaiser »

Offline philw1776

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 736
  • Seacoast NH
  • Liked: 399
  • Likes Given: 218
Thank you for translating my posts into English.  :)
“When it looks more like an alien dreadnought, that’s when you know you’ve won.”

Tags: