Author Topic: SpaceX, Air Force assess more landing pads, Dragon processing at LZ-1  (Read 16893 times)


Offline IanThePineapple

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It will be awesome to see 2 FH boosters descend on the webcast, then hear "LZ1, the Falcon*S* have landed"
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Offline Semmel

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The thing that gets me about the webcasts is, that it does not cover the sound well. Yes, you get to hear the rockets, yes you get to hear the sonic booms. But thats as bleak as watching black and white TV in 200 by 100 pixels compared to the real sound. I have never witnessed a rocket launch, or a shuttle landing.. These are pretty rare in central Europe unfortunately. I would sooooo love to be there when FH launches and the boosters come back. Since the launch date will be notoriously delayed and unpredictable, its probably impossible to book vacation (not to mention getting permission by my better half and our little one). So who ever can go and is in doubt, I hope does end up going.

Thanks for these documents Sghill and  for the fantastic article Chris Gebhardt. It makes for some fantastic daydreaming for the things to come :)

PS: Dont get me wrong, I want to see a Atlas, Delta, Ariane, Soyuz, etc. launch just as badly as F9. However, the returning boosters are quite a treat that these launchers can't provide.

Offline whitelancer64

The thing that gets me about the webcasts is, that it does not cover the sound well. Yes, you get to hear the rockets, yes you get to hear the sonic booms. But thats as bleak as watching black and white TV in 200 by 100 pixels compared to the real sound. I have never witnessed a rocket launch, or a shuttle landing.. These are pretty rare in central Europe unfortunately. I would sooooo love to be there when FH launches and the boosters come back.
*snip*

Several years ago on a lazy summer day, I was with my family at Lake Perris, California, about 85 miles west of Edwards Air Force Base. We heard a very clear double boom - a bit like thunder, but without the rolling sound associated with it. I knew immediately that the noise was a returning Shuttle and geeked out in front of my whole family. It's unmistakable, even if you hadn't heard it before, the double sonic boom is very distinctive. Hearing four - or six - booms will be something else.
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Offline shooter6947

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PS: Dont get me wrong, I want to see a Atlas, Delta, Ariane, Soyuz, etc. launch just as badly as F9. However, the returning boosters are quite a treat that these launchers can't provide.

I've been to four launches:  a couple of commercial EELV's, Kepler's launch on a Delta II, and then the Orbcomm first RTLS landing in 2015 December.  The one with the returning booster was *WAAY* cooler.  Way cooler.  A launch is fun, but most of the fun is done in the first minute, and after that it's a bright dot on heading for the horizon fast. 

The returning Falcon was another beast entirely.  First of all, because of the lofted booster trajectory it didn't head toward the horizon as fast as the other launches I'd seen.  Then the boostback burn, but that's a bit hard to see.  The re-entry burn was RIGHT overhead -- quite the light show.  Even after that burn is done you can see by the rotating beacon on the top of the rocket that it is heading for the ground in a HURRY.  Then the landing burn, the sound for which you hear following a double-boom right about the time that it's settling down (at least from Jetty Park).  The whole thing was a much more complete experience, I thought.  More worth flying over the Atlantic for ;)

I can only imagine what a 3-core RTLS Falcon Heavy would be like!  Triply awesome, I suspect.  Hopefully I won't have to imagine for *too* much longer . . .

Offline Herb Schaltegger

I can only imagine what a 3-core RTLS Falcon Heavy would be like!  Triply awesome, I suspect.  Hopefully I won't have to imagine for *too* much longer . . .

The boosters will return in fairly close proximity to one another - seconds apart at most probably - but a returning center core will be coming back from much further away so it will probably be delayed by a couple minutes. I know this has been rehashed in detail in other threads but I'm too lazy to go look them up right now.
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Offline IanThePineapple

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I think that SpaceX will build one side pad first, then build the second side pad afterward, so if FH launches during the second side pad construction, they will have the ability to at least RTLS the boosters and have OCISLY catch the core.

Announcer: "And OCISLY catches the core!" *crowd cheering*
« Last Edit: 01/12/2017 12:35 AM by IanThePineapple »
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Offline meekGee

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PS: Dont get me wrong, I want to see a Atlas, Delta, Ariane, Soyuz, etc. launch just as badly as F9. However, the returning boosters are quite a treat that these launchers can't provide.

I've been to four launches:  a couple of commercial EELV's, Kepler's launch on a Delta II, and then the Orbcomm first RTLS landing in 2015 December.  The one with the returning booster was *WAAY* cooler.  Way cooler.  A launch is fun, but most of the fun is done in the first minute, and after that it's a bright dot on heading for the horizon fast. 

The returning Falcon was another beast entirely.  First of all, because of the lofted booster trajectory it didn't head toward the horizon as fast as the other launches I'd seen.  Then the boostback burn, but that's a bit hard to see.  The re-entry burn was RIGHT overhead -- quite the light show.  Even after that burn is done you can see by the rotating beacon on the top of the rocket that it is heading for the ground in a HURRY.  Then the landing burn, the sound for which you hear following a double-boom right about the time that it's settling down (at least from Jetty Park).  The whole thing was a much more complete experience, I thought.  More worth flying over the Atlantic for ;)

I can only imagine what a 3-core RTLS Falcon Heavy would be like!  Triply awesome, I suspect.  Hopefully I won't have to imagine for *too* much longer . . .

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The thing that gets me about the webcasts is, that it does not cover the sound well. Yes, you get to hear the rockets, yes you get to hear the sonic booms. But thats as bleak as watching black and white TV in 200 by 100 pixels compared to the real sound. I have never witnessed a rocket launch, or a shuttle landing..
After the fact, www.USLaunchReport.com has fdecent videos with fairly decent sound.
Not like being there though.

Offline dmc6960

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The thing that gets me about the webcasts is, that it does not cover the sound well. Yes, you get to hear the rockets, yes you get to hear the sonic booms. But thats as bleak as watching black and white TV in 200 by 100 pixels compared to the real sound. I have never witnessed a rocket launch, or a shuttle landing..
After the fact, www.USLaunchReport.com has fdecent videos with fairly decent sound.
Not like being there though.

Another thing to note about being there, is how bright the exhaust flame is.  I witnessed STS-120 up close and the brightness of the SRB exhaust is nothing like was relayed through a camera.  I do not know if RP1 is similar though I suspect as such.
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Offline Comga

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(snip)
The returning Falcon was another beast entirely.  First of all, because of the lofted booster trajectory it didn't head toward the horizon as fast as the other launches I'd seen.  Then the boostback burn, but that's a bit hard to see.  The re-entry burn was RIGHT overhead -- quite the light show.  Even after that burn is done you can see by the rotating beacon on the top of the rocket that it is heading for the ground in a HURRY.  Then the landing burn, the sound for which you hear following a double-boom right about the time that it's settling down (at least from Jetty Park).  The whole thing was a much more complete experience, I thought.  More worth flying over the Atlantic for ;)
(snip)

Wait....
Rotating beacon?
You saw a rotating beacon on the rocket?
Has this been mentioned before?

(emphasis mine)
PS This is very encouraging, as I intend to be there for the SpX-10 launch and RTLS.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline CameronD

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Wait....
Rotating beacon?
You saw a rotating beacon on the rocket?
Has this been mentioned before?

We've seen strobe lights on the legs before.. perhaps this is what he meant?

With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline georgegassaway

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That was likely re-entry or other atmospheric heating that was visible between the burns. Some cameras seemed to capture it, some did not, due to various things like exposure, image sensor quality, etc.  (Even focus or lack thereof)

In this US Launch Report video,   looking for the incoming booster from about 4:00.  At about 4:22 the camera finds it, takes some time to get it in focus and stable... image comes and goes. Possibly upper level clouds blocking some of the view.  At about 4:58, it is finally in view again,  then shortly after the much brighter landing burn begins at about 5:00. 

« Last Edit: 01/13/2017 06:02 AM by georgegassaway »

Offline wannamoonbase

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I think that SpaceX will build one side pad first, then build the second side pad afterward, so if FH launches during the second side pad construction, they will have the ability to at least RTLS the boosters and have OCISLY catch the core.

Announcer: "And OCISLY catches the core!" *crowd cheering*

The landing pads aren't much of anything to build. 

The longest item on the schedule will be approval to start.
Then land clearing and soil prep (compaction) will likely take the most time.  Placing the concrete is nothing, the cubic yards needed is nothing special.  Could do it in one day if needed.

Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline mvpel

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The thing that gets me about the webcasts is, that it does not cover the sound well. Yes, you get to hear the rockets, yes you get to hear the sonic booms. But thats as bleak as watching black and white TV in 200 by 100 pixels compared to the real sound. I have never witnessed a rocket launch, or a shuttle landing.. These are pretty rare in central Europe unfortunately. I would sooooo love to be there when FH launches and the boosters come back. Since the launch date will be notoriously delayed and unpredictable, its probably impossible to book vacation (not to mention getting permission by my better half and our little one). So who ever can go and is in doubt, I hope does end up going.

I've been a major space geek since the first time I watched a launch on TV - must have been Apollo-Soyuz when I was four and a half in 1975. But it wasn't until CRS-8 last April that I saw a launch for the first time in person.

You mention the sound, and the limitation of webcast audio, but what struck me immediately at the launch was the sudden realization that in pictures and video, the white flare of the exhaust can only be so white and so bright - #fff, that's it.

In real life, the plume is like a searing shard of sunlight, which leaves afterimages in your retina. It was blasting through the lenses of my glasses so hard that it created three or four internal reflections on each side of the plume as it came barreling in towards my eyeball. There was a photo of a droneship landing I saw which had the afternoon sun in the background, and both the sun and the exhaust plume were the same #fff full white - what I had never quite fully grasped in all those years of looking at rocket photos is that that's because both the plume and the blinding sun are the same color.

And having watched a number of missile defense flight tests, where the interceptors leap into the sky and are dwindling into the distance in an instant, the CRS-8 launch was something else entirely. I'd seen it on video plenty of times, but being there in person only four and a half miles away as the massive, enormous piece of hardware painstakingly hauled itself up into the air on a silent, blinding plume, was staggering.

And then the loud, snapping, crackling thunder came rolling in, echoing off the buildings around us and rolling across the landscape. It was awe-inspiring to see and hear that distilled, crystallized artifact of human imagination and ingenuity perform exactly, incredibly, as it was designed.

And then to be among a crowd of equally excited people as the droneship landing took place... an unforgettable experience.

The only drawback is that pictures and video of launches and what have you are no longer really cool in and of themselves, but merely reminders of something really cool.

I hope that you can make it over here for the Falcon Heavy, or ANYTHING.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2017 12:08 AM by mvpel »
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Offline CyndyC

And having watched a number of missile defense flight tests, where the interceptors leap into the sky and are dwindling into the distance in an instant, the CRS-8 launch was something else entirely. I'd seen it on video plenty of times, but being there in person only four and a half miles away as the massive, enormous piece of hardware painstakingly hauled itself up into the air on a silent, blinding plume, was staggering.

I remembered your description of surprises in the launch viewing thread for CRS-8, but since I didn't get down till 2 months later for the EutelSat/ABS launch, and there was no viewing thread for that launch, I didn't get to add what surprised me more than anything (from LC-39 Gantry) was how tall and thin the Falcon 9 is. That doesn't come across at all in video or photos that only include reference points of unknown dimensions, or no reference points up in the air. The extreme of the fineness ratio of the Falcon 9 has been discussed on NSF before, but you really have to see it to believe it. And to help tie the subject into this thread, you become aware of the extra challenge the fineness must bring to landing, maybe more to landing than to taking off and steering forward with more propellants.
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Offline mvpel

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I remembered your description of surprises in the launch viewing thread for CRS-8, but since I didn't get down till 2 months later for the EutelSat/ABS launch, and there was no viewing thread for that launch, I didn't get to add what surprised me more than anything (from LC-39 Gantry) was how tall and thin the Falcon 9 is. That doesn't come across at all in video or photos that only include reference points of unknown dimensions, or no reference points up in the air. The extreme of the fineness ratio of the Falcon 9 has been discussed on NSF before, but you really have to see it to believe it.

I know exactly what you mean. When I first saw a Falcon 9 in person (F9R-Dev1), I had the very strange sensation that it was simultaneously bigger AND smaller than I thought it would be.  ???

I'm glad you got a Gantry ticket! I suffered two scrubs at that location, and we watched CRS-8 from a mile farther away.

I wonder how the planned Block 5 version will change the landing characteristics, if at all? I'm looking forward to finding out. I wonder if they're looking at moving to three grid fins like on the ITS, rather than four?
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Offline gongora

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I remembered your description of surprises in the launch viewing thread for CRS-8, but since I didn't get down till 2 months later for the EutelSat/ABS launch, and there was no viewing thread for that launch, I didn't get to add what surprised me more than anything (from LC-39 Gantry) was how tall and thin the Falcon 9 is...

The moderators normally just create Discussion and Update threads for a SpaceX launch, but if one of the people going to watch it wants to start a viewing thread also then feel free to do it.  You can also put some discussion about viewing in the Discussion thread  :)

Offline Kansan52

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The drone video of the CRS-10 1st stage landing doesn't seem to chow any work being done for the next 2 landing pads.

Offline IanThePineapple

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The drone video of the CRS-10 1st stage landing doesn't seem to chow any work being done for the next 2 landing pads.

I noticed that too.

So either they're:
1. starting clearing the padspace after the CRS-10 landing
2. Realizing they'll never launch FH during the nesting period
3. somehow landing the boosters on the center pad together, or,
4. (Extremely unlikely) going expendable on the boosters
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Offline Wolfram66

The drone video of the CRS-10 1st stage landing doesn't seem to chow any work being done for the next 2 landing pads.

I noticed that too.

So either they're:
1. starting clearing the padspace after the CRS-10 landing
2. Realizing they'll never launch FH during the nesting period
3. somehow landing the boosters on the center pad together, or,
4. (Extremely unlikely) going expendable on the boosters
5) Lease additional LC pads nearby rather than disturb virgin brush cover

Offline MarekCyzio

The drone video of the CRS-10 1st stage landing doesn't seem to chow any work being done for the next 2 landing pads.

I noticed that too.

So either they're:
1. starting clearing the padspace after the CRS-10 landing
2. Realizing they'll never launch FH during the nesting period
3. somehow landing the boosters on the center pad together, or,
4. (Extremely unlikely) going expendable on the boosters
5) Lease additional LC pads nearby rather than disturb virgin brush cover
6) Waiting for all necessary approvals and for Scrub Jay's to finish nesting?

Offline meekGee

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This is all assuming the Scrub Jays don't suffer schedule delays of course.
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Offline IanThePineapple

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This is all assuming the Scrub Jays don't suffer schedule delays of course.

Or if they work off Elon time, if so they'll stop nesting near 2030  8)
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How close are the landing pads actually expected to be? You would think that >500m would be necessary to keep a safe navigation distance and prevent one RUD from taking out the second booster.

Launches attended: Worldview-4 (Atlas V 401), Iridium NEXT Flight 1 (Falcon 9 FT)

Offline dglow

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How close are the landing pads actually expected to be?

See the images here.

Offline old_sellsword

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How close are the landing pads actually expected to be? You would think that >500m would be necessary to keep a safe navigation distance and prevent one RUD from taking out the second booster.

I did some rough approximation in Google Earth, the landing pads all appear to be about 1,000 feet from each other. The top yellow line matches to the top measurement box, the bottom yellow line matches the bottom measurement box. The red line is a copy of the top yellow one, rotated and aligned with the center of the south pad. As you can see, the north pad clears that red line by a little, confirming (in the loosest sense of the word) that all the pads are about 1,000 feet away from each other.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Land clearing has begun to the north, per May 16 Planet imagery update:

link

« Last Edit: 05/18/2017 01:56 PM by gongora »
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Offline macpacheco

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How close are the landing pads actually expected to be? You would think that >500m would be necessary to keep a safe navigation distance and prevent one RUD from taking out the second booster.
The consecutive successes of SpaceX recovering every booster they set out to do since they finally figured it out suggest SpaceX might not even leave enough margin for a RUD destroying other boosters. Recovery isn't a critical mission. They can always build more boosters.

If a booster thinks it has significant damage its better to abort a landing and crash into the ocean or trigger FTS instead of landing and risking damage to ASDS or another booster.

I think their sole concern is the rocket engine blast between boosters don't topple/blow landed/landing stages away in normal conditions.
So far the SpaceX way of navigating boosters for landing has achieved such uncanny precision, that they could end up just taking whatever rocket blast/exaust safe distance, increase that by 50 or 100% and be done with it.
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Offline IanThePineapple

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So it seems that pad construction has begun, or ground leveling
« Last Edit: 06/03/2017 10:03 PM by IanThePineapple »
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I think their sole concern is the rocket engine blast between boosters don't topple/blow landed/landing stages away in normal conditions.
So far the SpaceX way of navigating boosters for landing has achieved such uncanny precision, that they could end up just taking whatever rocket blast/exaust safe distance, increase that by 50 or 100% and be done with it.

Considering the centre of gravity, and the directivity of the exhaust, I wonder if in fact the legs don't risk clashing before there is a concern of knocking over a booster.

Very certainly, it is 'ridiculously close', compared to explosion debris concerns.

Offline deruch

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How close are the landing pads actually expected to be? You would think that >500m would be necessary to keep a safe navigation distance and prevent one RUD from taking out the second booster.
The consecutive successes of SpaceX recovering every booster they set out to do since they finally figured it out suggest SpaceX might not even leave enough margin for a RUD destroying other boosters. Recovery isn't a critical mission. They can always build more boosters.

If a booster thinks it has significant damage its better to abort a landing and crash into the ocean or trigger FTS instead of landing and risking damage to ASDS or another booster.

I think their sole concern is the rocket engine blast between boosters don't topple/blow landed/landing stages away in normal conditions.
So far the SpaceX way of navigating boosters for landing has achieved such uncanny precision, that they could end up just taking whatever rocket blast/exaust safe distance, increase that by 50 or 100% and be done with it.
So, you're saying that in making plans for additional pads at LZ-1, SpaceX had the option to site them such that 1 crashing FH side core wouldn't take out the other one.  But, instead of doing that, they decided that since that wasn't likely to happen all that often they wouldn't bother? 

Seems like a bad idea not to plan for possible bad outcomes just because they weren't expecting them to happen.  Especially when the costs of planning for them aren't significantly higher than otherwise.
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To keep them farther apart they would have to lease more pads.

Offline IanThePineapple

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So it seems that LZ-1 has a new coat of paint.

Also, the northern pad seems to be progressing quite well.
« Last Edit: 07/14/2017 07:23 PM by IanThePineapple »
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