Author Topic: Fairing reuse  (Read 241781 times)

Offline nadreck

Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #40 on: 06/03/2015 10:17 PM »
I think a re-usable fairing only makes economic and technical sense as part of a re-usable upper stage, maybe like  the Kistler K-1. Bottom line, a re-usable fairing is a non-starter for current vehicles. The extra complexity for little economic return makes it not worth it IMHO.

Since a fairing carried to orbit is going to cause a large payload hit, it only makes sense for a much larger re-usable vehicle.

And if the initial investment in each fairing is $1M and the cost to recover and recommission is $500,000 you wouldn't do it?

Not unless you could demonstrate these numbers are real.

I obviously was not succinct. Please perform the thought experiment: imagine that each fairing costs $1M to produce and the amortized cost of the equipment to make them reusable, the use of the craft to do the recovery, and the recommissioning expense adds up to $500,000.  Now having considered that, would you go ahead with the project to recover them?
« Last Edit: 06/03/2015 11:33 PM by nadreck »
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline deruch

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #41 on: 06/04/2015 02:57 AM »
The issue for SpaceX is their ability to make enough fairings.  They are currently ramping up their flight rate very quickly.  Even with a decent number of future launches being Dragons (i.e. no fairing), they are still going to need a whole lot more of them per year in the near future.  What is their manufacturing capability?  How expandable is that capability?  What is the cost comparison between having to open additional production lines vs. investment to make them reusable?  etc. 
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Offline meekGee

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #42 on: 06/04/2015 04:19 AM »
The issue for SpaceX is their ability to make enough fairings.  They are currently ramping up their flight rate very quickly.  Even with a decent number of future launches being Dragons (i.e. no fairing), they are still going to need a whole lot more of them per year in the near future.  What is their manufacturing capability?  How expandable is that capability?  What is the cost comparison between having to open additional production lines vs. investment to make them reusable?  etc.

The constellation might require as much as one launch per week.

I'm surprised though that fairing manufacturing is not dwarfed by second stage manufacturing.  I guess it isn't...
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Offline douglas100

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #43 on: 06/04/2015 08:16 AM »

I obviously was not succinct. Please perform the thought experiment: imagine that each fairing costs $1M to produce and the amortized cost of the equipment to make them reusable, the use of the craft to do the recovery, and the recommissioning expense adds up to $500,000.  Now having considered that, would you go ahead with the project to recover them?

All you're saying is, if it saves money, wouldn't you go ahead and do it? In my original post I gave the opinion that recovering the fairing from current vehicles (specifically F9)  wouldn't save money and therefore I wouldn't do it.

By all means argue the point, but please back it up with facts or a technical argument rather than pulling numbers out of the air and calling them a "thought experiment."
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Offline CJ

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #44 on: 06/04/2015 08:46 AM »
I think a re-usable fairing only makes economic and technical sense as part of a re-usable upper stage, maybe like  the Kistler K-1. Bottom line, a re-usable fairing is a non-starter for current vehicles. The extra complexity for little economic return makes it not worth it IMHO.

Since a fairing carried to orbit is going to cause a large payload hit, it only makes sense for a much larger re-usable vehicle.

My take; SpaceX wouldn't be working on fairing recovery for the F9 and FH unless they could see an economic reason to do so.

Going by what they've said, they have a limit on how many fairings they can produce per year. I assume that they could increase their capacity, but doing so would cost a significant amount of money. That $, plus the per unit cost, must be high enough to make reuse attractive to them. The fact that they are considering it makes it near certain that it's economically attractive - assuming it works like they think.   

If (and it's a big if) the fairing halves survive up until impact in a reusable state, my guess is that recovery isn;t all that hard, theoretically, nor would it be much of a mass penalty. For example, add a GPS beacon and a small drogue on a long line, and use a helicopter to grab it. Hrmmm... fly the helicopters off an ASDS?

 

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #45 on: 06/04/2015 12:18 PM »
If you're flying, say, 40 or 50 times per year, it may indeed make sense to reuse the fairing.
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Online LouScheffer

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #46 on: 06/04/2015 02:06 PM »

All you're saying is, if it saves money, wouldn't you go ahead and do it? In my original post I gave the opinion that recovering the fairing from current vehicles (specifically F9)  wouldn't save money and therefore I wouldn't do it.

By all means argue the point, but please back it up with facts or a technical argument rather than pulling numbers out of the air and calling them a "thought experiment."

Here's a rough guess I made when fairing recovery was only in L2, which I've fixed since I had the wrong launch rate for Ariane 5:

From "RUAG Space wins major Ariane 5 payload fairing contract " http://www.ruag.com/space/media/media-releases/news/ruag-space-wins-major-ariane-5-payload-fairing-contract/c1d44492a47610accba20f7849f17843/ , the contract is for $100M (one swiss franc is about a dollar), signed in 2014, and runs through 2019.  Assuming they did not wait until the last minute to sign this, I'm guessing through 2016 was in the prior contract.  Then this would be roughly 18 fairings (6 per year for 2017, 2018, 2019), or about $5-6M each.

SpaceX makes them in-house, so they might already have a cost advantage.  But if they can recover and refurbish a fairing for $1M, then they've got a $5M per flight advantage over Ariane and Atlas V  (which use the RUAG fairings).  When you are trying to drive the cost down to a few 10s of millions, that helps considerably.   To be competitive on cost, Atlas VI and Ariane VI will now need to be cheaper than SpaceX, not just equivalent.

Offline nadreck

Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #47 on: 06/04/2015 02:09 PM »

I obviously was not succinct. Please perform the thought experiment: imagine that each fairing costs $1M to produce and the amortized cost of the equipment to make them reusable, the use of the craft to do the recovery, and the recommissioning expense adds up to $500,000.  Now having considered that, would you go ahead with the project to recover them?

All you're saying is, if it saves money, wouldn't you go ahead and do it? In my original post I gave the opinion that recovering the fairing from current vehicles (specifically F9)  wouldn't save money and therefore I wouldn't do it.

By all means argue the point, but please back it up with facts or a technical argument rather than pulling numbers out of the air and calling them a "thought experiment."

Actually the post I was responding to suggested it saved only a little money and was not worth it.  I work in an industry where it is worth effort of some participants to organize their schedule of activity of several different $5M capital projects just to save about $100,000 on each.  Other participants don't fine tune this way. Yet cutting the capital cost is worth it as long as it doesn't increase risk significantly.

Given that your opinion as most recently expressed is that it will cost more to recover a fairing than to manufacture a new one then my question was irrelevant.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #48 on: 06/04/2015 02:23 PM »
     I might be a bit off base here, but it occures to me that the Fairing reuse may not be just for launches from Earth.

     On Mars, fairings are dumped for each lander.  This is material that has cost quite a bit of money to launch to Mars.  As larger landers will likely require larger heat shields and fairings, recovery of these could be QUITE useful as building materials.  As heatshields have a curved surface, epoxying a number of them together to create a geodesic dome, would not be all that difficult and could provide fairly decent surface storage facilities after a few landings.  Any uppe fairings could also be made somewhat curved or simply used as is, if the fairing is large enough.
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Offline douglas100

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #49 on: 06/04/2015 02:23 PM »

....Given that your opinion as most recently expressed is that it will cost more to recover a fairing than to manufacture a new one then my question was irrelevant.

That's right, that was my opinion, but LouScheffer's numbers give me pause.
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Offline douglas100

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #50 on: 06/04/2015 02:38 PM »

....If (and it's a big if) the fairing halves survive up until impact in a reusable state, my guess is that recovery isn't all that hard, theoretically, nor would it be much of a mass penalty. For example, add a GPS beacon and a small drogue on a long line, and use a helicopter to grab it. Hrmmm... fly the helicopters off an ASDS?

You've put your finger on one difficulty in your first sentence (my bold). Another would be the uncontrolled flight of the fairing halves before recovery. Details and trades, as ever...

However, assuming the helicopters can get to them in time, then mid air recovery makes sense. Suggest the ULA approach and use parafoils rather than drogues to avoid a high vertical velocity before capture.
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Offline Comga

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #51 on: 06/04/2015 03:49 PM »
(snip).
Hmmm... fly the helicopters off an ASDS?

This was mentioned before, and makes a lot of sense.  You don't want to send helicopters out to sea to hover, burning fuel during any hold.  Better to cruise out onboard a ship, and wait to fire up until terminal coundown.  After capture, instead of a long trip to shore with the giant sail-like fairing half, it gets deposited on the deck. 
Not obvious whether it would be better to land the helos on the barge or fly back unburdened.  Is there enough room on one of these barges to launch two helicopters, or to land two helicopters AND the fairing halves.

The main rotors on the CH-47D are listed as ~98' in length and ~61' in width.
Is the 175' wide by ~250' long deck big enough for landing (dockside or at sea) and take-off, even without hanging fairing halves?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline baldusi

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #52 on: 06/04/2015 04:17 PM »
     I might be a bit off base here, but it occures to me that the Fairing reuse may not be just for launches from Earth.

     On Mars, fairings are dumped for each lander.  This is material that has cost quite a bit of money to launch to Mars.  As larger landers will likely require larger heat shields and fairings, recovery of these could be QUITE useful as building materials.  As heatshields have a curved surface, epoxying a number of them together to create a geodesic dome, would not be all that difficult and could provide fairly decent surface storage facilities after a few landings.  Any uppe fairings could also be made somewhat curved or simply used as is, if the fairing is large enough.
First, that's too far into the future. And second, it would sem that the MCT would land and launch as a whole to/from Mars. This is for Earth only, and if the L2 con ops are realized, it would only work on Earth.

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #53 on: 06/04/2015 04:52 PM »

Is the 175' wide by ~250' long deck big enough for landing (dockside or at sea) and take-off, even without hanging fairing halves?

Sure should be. Helicopters can manage to land (and take back off) on very small floating pads on objects less stable than the ASDS.

Edit: I wonder if SpaceX will rent their skycranes or purchase them? I'd be heading for the latter.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2015 04:53 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline RanulfC

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #54 on: 06/04/2015 07:15 PM »

All you're saying is, if it saves money, wouldn't you go ahead and do it? In my original post I gave the opinion that recovering the fairing from current vehicles (specifically F9)  wouldn't save money and therefore I wouldn't do it.

By all means argue the point, but please back it up with facts or a technical argument rather than pulling numbers out of the air and calling them a "thought experiment."

Here's a rough guess I made when fairing recovery was only in L2, which I've fixed since I had the wrong launch rate for Ariane 5:

From "RUAG Space wins major Ariane 5 payload fairing contract " http://www.ruag.com/space/media/media-releases/news/ruag-space-wins-major-ariane-5-payload-fairing-contract/c1d44492a47610accba20f7849f17843/ , the contract is for $100M (one swiss franc is about a dollar), signed in 2014, and runs through 2019.  Assuming they did not wait until the last minute to sign this, I'm guessing through 2016 was in the prior contract.  Then this would be roughly 18 fairings (6 per year for 2017, 2018, 2019), or about $5-6M each.

SpaceX makes them in-house, so they might already have a cost advantage.  But if they can recover and refurbish a fairing for $1M, then they've got a $5M per flight advantage over Ariane and Atlas V  (which use the RUAG fairings).  When you are trying to drive the cost down to a few 10s of millions, that helps considerably.   To be competitive on cost, Atlas VI and Ariane VI will now need to be cheaper than SpaceX, not just equivalent.

Uhm, the cost savings isn't as clear as that because recovery and refurbishment doesn't factor in having to make them (apparently) more robust in the first place as well as adding a recovery system. The fairings are going to fall well away from the first stage recovery vehicles so that requires another set of recovery vehicles and personnel which adds costs. (Assuming that Elon wasn't being flippant in the first place :) )

The uncontrolled nature of the falling fairings also adds up costs as you have to make the assumption that you will need a helicopter for each fairing half. "Fixing" that issue means added mass and complexity which increases construction costs and impacts payload and reduces the case for reusability in the first place. And you have to include the possibility that one or both fairing halves on any flight will end up being outside your recovery area and you "lose" them anyway with added (due to stationing the recovery vehicles and crews) instead of saved costs.

I'd see saving's range starting out lower around @$4million initially at best from the given information.

With a high enough flight rate the numbers might point towards reusability but it wouldn't seem so at present.
(Second stage efficiency and reusability would to me seem a higher priority)

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Offline jimbowman

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #55 on: 06/05/2015 09:48 PM »
 

Online ClayJar

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #56 on: 06/05/2015 10:10 PM »
Beautiful footage.  I suppose this means they got the GoPro cameras and cards from the guys who found the piece in the Bahamas.

Too bad we didn't get the special Extended Edition that goes all the way down.  I wonder what we'll get to see when they actually start active fairing recovery tests. :)

Offline meekGee

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #57 on: 06/05/2015 10:58 PM »
Finally, footage worthy of the background music...  :)
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Online matthewkantar

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #58 on: 06/05/2015 11:20 PM »
Video is really breath taking. What are the objects that keep showing up? Sun obviously. Moon? Second stage firing? other fairing half? Planets? Stars?

Matthew

Online Lars-J

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Re: Fairing reuse
« Reply #59 on: 06/06/2015 03:09 AM »
Video is really breath taking. What are the objects that keep showing up? Sun obviously. Moon? Second stage firing? other fairing half? Planets? Stars?

Matthew

Likely the second stage, and the other fairing half.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2015 03:10 AM by Lars-J »

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