Author Topic: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6  (Read 197015 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Thread 6 for SpaceX's development of a Boca Chica launch site.

Previous threads.

   Thread 1 COVERAGE
   Thread 2 COVERAGE
   Thread 3 COVERAGE   
   Thread 4 COVERAGE
   Thread 5 COVERAGE

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Only several million views for the five previous threads. Great work by all concerned, not least those local - such as Nomadd and others. Remember to keep the posts on the topic of this thread.

Online rockets4life97

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Is it now safe to say after Shotwell's recent comments that the big crane seen arriving at Boca Chica is for BFR?

Online gongora

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Is it now safe to say after Shotwell's recent comments that the big crane seen arriving at Boca Chica is for BFR?

That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

Offline guckyfan

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Is it now safe to say after Shotwell's recent comments that the big crane seen arriving at Boca Chica is for BFR?

That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

The two uses are not mutually exclusive.

Offline Nomadd

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Is it now safe to say after Shotwell's recent comments that the big crane seen arriving at Boca Chica is for BFR?

That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

The two uses are not mutually exclusive.
Does anybody have an idea of the size of a BFR pad? That crane would be a good construction crane for a 150 foot radius pad and the beam could 2nd life as a gantry crane with a 500 ton capacity after that.
« Last Edit: 10/13/2017 05:17 PM by Nomadd »

Offline Dave G

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That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

Right.  First BFR launch appears to be no earlier than 2022, 5 years from now, and that will probably slip.

But the question remains:
Will they launch BFR from land, or from a platform a few miles offshore from Boca Chica beach?

Remember, Texas State law forbids SpaceX from closing Boca Chica Beach on any weekend or holiday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  That's not going to change.

Also remember that each BFR Mars mission will require 6 launches: 1 for the spacecraft, and 5 more tanker launches to fuel the spacecraft.  And since BFR is highly reusable, SpaceX will presumably want to launch several spacecraft within each Mars launch window, which is only a few weeks every 2 years.  So we're talking dozens of launches within a relatively short period of time.

With this in mind, the Texas State beach closure law would really limit SpaceX's goals for colonizing Mars.

If they built a BFR launch pad just a few miles offshore, beach closures become a non-issue, but they would still need the control center and tracking station in Boca Chica Village, and they would probably also need a place next to the beach to store propellant, with fiber, hoses, etc. running out to the launch pad.  So the crane could be to build the control center building, payload processing buildings, water tower, etc.




Online envy887

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That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

Right.  First BFR launch appears to be no earlier than 2022, 5 years from now, and that will probably slip.
...

Elon's goal is landings in 2022, which means launches in 2020 or 2021. That will definitely slip, but they might launch by 2022.

Offline Lobo

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I can't really see Boca Chica being the primary plan for BFR.  With it's latest downsizing, it's now within the size and thrust design of the KSC pads.  Plus that area is already zoned for large rocket launches, and has an adequate exclusions zone, already has a lot of facilities and infrastructure, has a barge dock, already has a lot of SpaceX personnel based there, etc. etc.

A bit of speculation.  I think the plan is to get something up on pad 39A and launched as fast as possible, which will likely be the event that pushes SLS into cancellation, and a NASA-SpaceX Partnership to get NASA astronauts to the moon and later to Mars.  At which time pad 39B and most KSC facilities should become available for lease.  With the newly downsized BFR, this should all work real good for SpaceX, which would then probably move Falcon launches off 39A as soon as they are able, and be able to launch off both 39A and 39B to support their desired flight rate.

But...they aren't quite ready to call out SLS and put the hard press on it just yet.  So by talking BFR from Boca Chica, that sort of avoids the issue for a little while.  And since they haven't started construction there yet, I would guess they are waiting to see if that primary plan shakes out or not.  If so, they may just build it up for Falcon to help get Falcon off of 39A.  If things don't shake out as planned, they can then fall back on trying to use it for BFR.   So they are waiting to see which way they'll have to go before they start building anything.

There just seems to be a lot issues with launching it form Boca Chica that aren't at KSC, so unless there's just a big piece of the picture I'm not seeing, I can't see them primarily wanting to have BFR operations there when KSC so already so much better set up for it.

Offline guckyfan

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I can't really see Boca Chica being the primary plan for BFR.  With it's latest downsizing, it's now within the size and thrust design of the KSC pads.  Plus that area is already zoned for large rocket launches, and has an adequate exclusions zone, already has a lot of facilities and infrastructure, has a barge dock, already has a lot of SpaceX personnel based there, etc. etc.

My impression is that SpaceX might have wanted to share LC-39B but NASA might not be willing, citing risks for the pad and SLS.

SpaceX might have wanted to modify LC-39A but NASA does not agree to risk the pad that will fly Astronauts to the ISS.

So Boca Chica is next in line. But may fall through due to launch restrictions or lengthy new EIS. They may be able to do some suborbital tests with reduced engine counts.

I see them ending up with building the floating launch platform, because they have no other choice.

Things may change if and when the Airforce selects BFR as one competitor for EELV 2.

Online freddo411

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That's an expensive piece of equipment to leave sitting around for a few years while the launch vehicle is developed.  I suspect it may have some role in construction of the launch site.

Right.  First BFR launch appears to be no earlier than 2022, 5 years from now, and that will probably slip.

But the question remains:
Will they launch BFR from land, or from a platform a few miles offshore from Boca Chica beach?

Remember, Texas State law forbids SpaceX from closing Boca Chica Beach on any weekend or holiday between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  That's not going to change.

Also remember that each BFR Mars mission will require 6 launches: 1 for the spacecraft, and 5 more tanker launches to fuel the spacecraft.  And since BFR is highly reusable, SpaceX will presumably want to launch several spacecraft within each Mars launch window, which is only a few weeks every 2 years.  So we're talking dozens of launches within a relatively short period of time.

With this in mind, the Texas State beach closure law would really limit SpaceX's goals for colonizing Mars.

If they built a BFR launch pad just a few miles offshore, beach closures become a non-issue, but they would still need the control center and tracking station in Boca Chica Village, and they would probably also need a place next to the beach to store propellant, with fiber, hoses, etc. running out to the launch pad.  So the crane could be to build the control center building, payload processing buildings, water tower, etc.


Actually, the law doesn't say that.  It says:

(d)  The commissioners court may not close a beach or access
    points to the beach on a primary launch date consisting of any of
    the following days without the approval of the land office:
                 (1)  the Saturday or Sunday preceding Memorial Day;
                 (2)  Memorial Day;
                 (3)  July 4;
                 (4)  Labor Day; or
                 (5)  a Saturday or Sunday that is after Memorial Day but
    before Labor Day.

Which is ALMOST a ban, but not exactly a ban.   I don't doubt that it would be way easier to plan around these days, rather than engage the Land office, but the option is there.



Hopping in here, is it confirmed that BFR isn't launching from 39A and only Boca?
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Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #11 on: 10/13/2017 11:26 PM »
I can't really see Boca Chica being the primary plan for BFR.  With it's latest downsizing, it's now within the size and thrust design of the KSC pads.  Plus that area is already zoned for large rocket launches, and has an adequate exclusions zone, already has a lot of facilities and infrastructure, has a barge dock, already has a lot of SpaceX personnel based there, etc. etc.

A bit of speculation.  I think the plan is to get something up on pad 39A and launched as fast as possible, which will likely be the event that pushes SLS into cancellation, and a NASA-SpaceX Partnership to get NASA astronauts to the moon and later to Mars.  At which time pad 39B and most KSC facilities should become available for lease.  With the newly downsized BFR, this should all work real good for SpaceX, which would then probably move Falcon launches off 39A as soon as they are able, and be able to launch off both 39A and 39B to support their desired flight rate.

But...they aren't quite ready to call out SLS and put the hard press on it just yet.  So by talking BFR from Boca Chica, that sort of avoids the issue for a little while.  And since they haven't started construction there yet, I would guess they are waiting to see if that primary plan shakes out or not.  If so, they may just build it up for Falcon to help get Falcon off of 39A.  If things don't shake out as planned, they can then fall back on trying to use it for BFR.   So they are waiting to see which way they'll have to go before they start building anything.

There just seems to be a lot issues with launching it form Boca Chica that aren't at KSC, so unless there's just a big piece of the picture I'm not seeing, I can't see them primarily wanting to have BFR operations there when KSC so already so much better set up for it.

Boca Chica puts huge pressure on NASA/Florida to roll out the red carpet at the Cape.  Imagine the largest rocket ever flown -- Nova-Class -- launching regularly to the Moon and Mars... from Texas, not the Space Coast. 

Florida politicians would be apoplectic... but they are out-voted by more than three to one by California plus Texas.
« Last Edit: 10/13/2017 11:29 PM by AncientU »
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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #12 on: 10/13/2017 11:43 PM »
Hopping in here, is it confirmed that BFR isn't launching from 39A and only Boca?
From Steve Jurvetson: Fireside Chat with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell

Quote
On launch sites
Pad 39a will be used for Falcon Heavy launches and crew flights
Boca Chica launch site under construction is the "perfect location for BFR"
She did not mention anything else about Boca Chica other than its prime suitability for BFR
So I would not say it's confirmed that it won't launch from 39A, but I would bet that it launches from Boca Chica first. Why convert a launch pad that is making money before you need to?
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Offline bstrong

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #13 on: 10/13/2017 11:51 PM »
With regard to beach closures, I think there's an easy win-win here. I stopped by Boca Chica this summer while on a family vacation to South Padre, and I have to say that even after reading Nomadd's posts about the trash, I was still shocked to see it in person. I've seen my share of garbage-covered beaches, but this has got to be the worst I've visited in the US. I wouldn't even let my kids take their shoes off.

That made me sad for a number of reasons, one of which being that if it were clean, it would be one of the nicest beaches in Texas. Even if I wasn't a rabid fan, as a Texas resident, I would gladly trade a few more closures if SpaceX would fund some crews to clean up and maintain the beach. So, maybe there's a deal to be made with the land office.

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I think the most likely scenario is boca chica becomes the macgregor for BFR. They have to do lots of tests, static fires, hops, etc. They may eventually launch first from there. But I think when they are ready they will launch mostly from KSC.

Is there anything in the rule book about static fires?
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Offline midnightrider3000

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #15 on: 10/14/2017 01:58 AM »
Plus if you blow up the Boca site testing the BFR, you can still continue to launch your bread and butter from the Cape.

Besides, think of how it starts. The first BFR arrives and take weeks or months occupying a launch site while things are worked out. Suppose it doesn't RUD or crash. How long do thing before the next one arrives or the original is back onsite ready to launch? How long before they are launching BFRs more than once a month?
« Last Edit: 10/16/2017 02:12 AM by midnightrider3000 »

Offline guckyfan

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #16 on: 10/14/2017 03:33 AM »
I think the most likely scenario is boca chica becomes the macgregor for BFR. They have to do lots of tests, static fires, hops, etc. They may eventually launch first from there. But I think when they are ready they will launch mostly from KSC.

Is there anything in the rule book about static fires?

They need to close the beach. But it seems those rules allow that and the number is not restricted, only restricted to not happen on the above mentioned dates.

I am not clear yet, in which way the suborbital flights mentioned in th EIS apply to testflights and if that is counted as one of the 12 flights.

Online darkenfast

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #17 on: 10/14/2017 04:25 AM »
I think we have conflicting "facts" here. 

We have statements about Boca Chica being the launch site.

We have some restrictions on use of the site because of the State Beach plus the nesting turtles and other wildlife.

We have an international border closer than what was considered a safe distance for KSC's 39 complex.

We also have our favorite Boca Chica resident and a few of his neighbors to think about.

On the other hand: the local area may be really thrilled by the thought that the first expedition to Mars may leave from their area.  Even Mexico might like to build some tourist viewing areas on their side for a ringside seat.  On the negative side: never underestimate the power of NIMBYism and various protest groups.

I will be the first to admit: I haven't a clue how this will play out.  Gonna be interesting, though!

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And on Boca Chica, I do agree that Shotwell's comments point towards it be at least a test, if not the original launch site for the BFR system. Falcon just doesn't need another pad right now other than 40, 39A and 4E. 2 week candace at each pad is certainly more than enough for any kind of short term (5 year) launch demand even with Starlink, which will be shared between all the active pads (both west and east coast).

« Last Edit: 10/14/2017 05:19 AM by Flying Beaver »
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Offline david1971

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #19 on: 10/14/2017 05:31 AM »
Memorial Day to Labor Day takes out weekends in June, July, and August, with a little slop before and after.

Mars launch windows occur every 2 years, 2 months.

The 2018 window has Mars Insight going in early May, so...
2020 would be July
2022 would be September
2024 would be November
2026 would be January
2028 would be March
2030 would be April

So this might possibly be an issue in 2022, but wouldn't for the next 4 launch windows.  By the 2030's I'd hope that SpaceX would have enough sway to get a waiver if needed.

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