Author Topic: Is this really a Age of Reflight?  (Read 6989 times)

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« on: 05/09/2017 02:44 AM »
Hi! I am currently doing a American history project on anything that happened during America's history. I decided to choose the period 2015- Present (Starting with Space X's landing of 11 Orbcomm-OG2!) because I see it as a monumental achievement for America and shows how far we have come from the Space Race.

Now I am trying to find ways to convince my teacher that "Age of Reflight" (Kudos to the commentator on the webcast!) is a actual thing and how that can be something I can do my project on, because Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger and is going to revolutionize spaceflight.

I was just wondering if anyone had any input if this is truly the "Age of Reflight"  and if anyone thinks this will eventually become a official name for this period (Like the Space Race) that will end up in textbooks.

Thanks!

Offline Thorny

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #1 on: 05/09/2017 02:52 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #2 on: 05/09/2017 02:57 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

False dawn :)
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 SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #3 on: 05/09/2017 03:00 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

The Shuttle ET was left to disintegrate in the atmosphere, the SRBs were basically hollow tubes after the dynamite was set off while being exposed to salt water and the weather, and the Orbiter was almost rebuilt/heavily refurbished that took millions and many months to prepare again. I do see your point and the Shuttle shouldn't be forgotten for being a unique and amazing spaceship.

I'd argue that what Space X and other companies are trying to do is bring down that millions down to thousands and months down to days. With each launch Space X does, we get closer to that idea. That is what I'd define the starting point for the Age of Reflight

Offline darkenfast

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #4 on: 05/09/2017 04:25 AM »
If I may suggest: "2015-present" might be too soon to write history on.  You have a good idea here, though, and I think looking at the history of the idea of re-use in rocketry might be a good area.  Ever since the 50's (and probably before), proposals have been made to recover and re-use rockets.  In the 1950's, Von Braun's giant three-stage rockets with the winged third stages were illustrated parachuting into the ocean in books I saw as a child.  We see it talked about repeatedly up to the Shuttle and beyond.  The first Falcon 9 flights tried to do exactly what Von Braun talked about and it didn't work.  As noted above, the Space Shuttle tried and somewhat succeeded, but at a very high cost.  And then there is the X-15 (about which I believe there is information regarding the cost of re-use available).  There's lots of fertile ground here to dig into.  How did prior proposals for re-use work?  To what extent (if any) did they succeed?  How did SpaceX make their way work?  What is the economic case for re-use?

If you go ahead with this project, let us know how it all turns out!

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #5 on: 05/09/2017 04:27 AM »
... and don't forget the hype of the 90s.
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 tj

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #6 on: 05/09/2017 05:14 AM »
X-37B seems to be a candidate: 1) Orbits for two years +; 2) Reuse- however, not known how much refurbishment (e.g. engines) and of course the large cost of the expendable Atlas V

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #7 on: 05/09/2017 05:53 AM »
... and don't forget the hype of the 90s.

History does repeat itself, or at least echo to a certain degree...   ;)

That said, if we look at the prior failures one common thread is that they ran out of money - that they didn't have a sustaining business model to support the development phase of what they were doing.

SpaceX has found not only a sustaining business model, but has been able to attract substantial outside investment too.  Blue Origin doesn't have to worry about a business model at all since it is self-financed by the 3rd richest person in the world and could consume $1B per year for generations to come without worrying about running out of funding.

I have no idea the technical merit of those 90's startups, but I'm sure they would have made more progress with more money.
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 Coastal Ron

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #8 on: 05/09/2017 06:05 AM »
I don't know how much you need to write about, because the "Age of Reflight" is certainly very recent and new.  So if your teacher asserts there isn't enough facts yet to draw conclusions, you don't have much to use to refute them.

But if you do get the OK to do the project, maybe you should research other transportation examples that show off the benefits of reusability, especially if you can show dramatic cost reductions.

My $0.02
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 TomH

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #9 on: 05/09/2017 06:32 AM »
Congratulations. I applaud your choice of topic. I agree that STS (the Space Shuttle is officially called the Space Transportation System) was a false start and that we are on the cusp of a sea change (that is a metaphor).

I say the following only because I am a retired teacher and you are doing this as an academic project. Work on your use of articles when you write. Use a before a noun that begins with a consonant sound, e.g. a uniform, a house (uniform begins with a y sound). Use an before a noun that begins with a vowel sound, e.g. an umbrella, an hour (the h in hour is silent).

Content matters. So do composition, style, and form. In this paper, so shall your approach to historical methodology and argument. Your teacher we will grade you on all of those. Please feel free to ask me to critique your work via PM. I will not do it for you, nor will I correct it for you. I will, however, point you in the direction of things you need to work on, just as I did here.

While I have much respect for Coastal Ron's opinions and his very effective use of logic in persuasive writing, I must partially agree and partially disagree with him regarding there being a lack of historical track record. There are a number of historical analogues, some of which brought technological revolution and some of which were dead ends. Reference to historical analogues should be part of your argument. I believe you can highlight certain parallels in history which offer precedent and make it more likely that this revolution will succeed rather than fail.
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 07:35 AM by TomH »

Offline Jimmy Murdok

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #10 on: 05/09/2017 07:27 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

Thatīs not about the first in history but about the one that drives change at large scale. Neither James Watt steam engine, Ford T or DC3 were the first on their class but the ones that drive the change of paradigm.

While the Concorde or the STS are marvels of their time, they disappeared without a proper handover of their amazing capabilities.

I would call your work: the potential "Age of Reflight" . You have all the elements for the change of paradigm, but it still has to demonstrate it happens. You have good material, good luck!

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #11 on: 05/09/2017 08:10 AM »
I too think 2015 is too recent a place to start. But as others have noted there have been various attempts in the past at re-use, which ultimately (even including the shuttle) had no impact on reducing launch costs.

I think comparing and contrasting some of those attempts with today would be a rich and interesting topic. What are the lessons we can learn from the history of past attempts? What clues do they give to the possible outcome of what SpaceX and Blue Origin are doing now?  Good luck!

Online Bynaus

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #12 on: 05/09/2017 09:02 AM »
Well, technically, reflight only took place this year. But perhaps one could claim that what started in 2015 (both SpaceX and Blue) was the "Age of Rocket Landings" (or perhaps: the "Age of Returning Rockets").

Online Eerie

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #13 on: 05/09/2017 11:49 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

The Shuttle ET was left to disintegrate in the atmosphere, the SRBs were basically hollow tubes after the dynamite was set off while being exposed to salt water and the weather, and the Orbiter was almost rebuilt/heavily refurbished that took millions and many months to prepare again. I do see your point and the Shuttle shouldn't be forgotten for being a unique and amazing spaceship.

I'd argue that what Space X and other companies are trying to do is bring down that millions down to thousands and months down to days. With each launch Space X does, we get closer to that idea. That is what I'd define the starting point for the Age of Reflight

The money it took to refurbish the system should not be taken into account, if we are just talking about the "Age of Reflight", as opposed to "The Age of Cheaper Reflight".

Instead, let's compare returned mass vs discarded mass, ignoring fuel:

Falcon 9:
First Stage dry mass: 23,100 kg
Second Stage dry mass: 3,900 kg
Percent of reused mass out of total dry mass:  23100 / (23100 + 3900) * 100% = 85.556%

Space Shuttle:
Orbiter dry mass: 68,585 kg
External tank (Super Lightweight): 26,500 kg
Solid Rocket Booster: 91,000 kg
Percent of reused mass out of total dry mass:  (68585 + 91000*2)/(68585 + 91000*2 + 26500) * 100% = 90.436%

Yeah, I think Shuttle wins so far. Falcon Heavy is going to trash it, though. ;D
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 11:50 AM by Eerie »

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #14 on: 05/09/2017 02:09 PM »
If I may suggest: "2015-present" might be too soon to write history on.  You have a good idea here, though, and I think looking at the history of the idea of re-use in rocketry might be a good area.  Ever since the 50's (and probably before), proposals have been made to recover and re-use rockets.  In the 1950's, Von Braun's giant three-stage rockets with the winged third stages were illustrated parachuting into the ocean in books I saw as a child.  We see it talked about repeatedly up to the Shuttle and beyond.  The first Falcon 9 flights tried to do exactly what Von Braun talked about and it didn't work.  As noted above, the Space Shuttle tried and somewhat succeeded, but at a very high cost.  And then there is the X-15 (about which I believe there is information regarding the cost of re-use available).  There's lots of fertile ground here to dig into.  How did prior proposals for re-use work?  To what extent (if any) did they succeed?  How did SpaceX make their way work?  What is the economic case for re-use?

If you go ahead with this project, let us know how it all turns out!

Well he did say we can choose a topic that happened recently (I.e the 2016 election). I mean there's a lot of info that I can use starting from 2015. There's the attempts at fairings, ULA trying this out, China trying this out. Possibly Space Race 2.0 but for reused rockets instead.
I have my class in the next few periods, I'll be sure to update back.

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #15 on: 05/09/2017 02:14 PM »
I don't know how much you need to write about, because the "Age of Reflight" is certainly very recent and new.  So if your teacher asserts there isn't enough facts yet to draw conclusions, you don't have much to use to refute them.

But if you do get the OK to do the project, maybe you should research other transportation examples that show off the benefits of reusability, especially if you can show dramatic cost reductions.

My $0.02

Even though its recent and new, I think there's sufficient information to go by with this project. All I really need to do is bring a model of something relating to this period  and explain my topic, what I created and how it relates to my project (and obviously how it relates to history).

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #16 on: 05/09/2017 02:21 PM »
Congratulations. I applaud your choice of topic. I agree that STS (the Space Shuttle is officially called the Space Transportation System) was a false start and that we are on the cusp of a sea change (that is a metaphor).

I say the following only because I am a retired teacher and you are doing this as an academic project. Work on your use of articles when you write. Use a before a noun that begins with a consonant sound, e.g. a uniform, a house (uniform begins with a y sound). Use an before a noun that begins with a vowel sound, e.g. an umbrella, an hour (the h in hour is silent).

Content matters. So do composition, style, and form. In this paper, so shall your approach to historical methodology and argument. Your teacher we will grade you on all of those. Please feel free to ask me to critique your work via PM. I will not do it for you, nor will I correct it for you. I will, however, point you in the direction of things you need to work on, just as I did here.

While I have much respect for Coastal Ron's opinions and his very effective use of logic in persuasive writing, I must partially agree and partially disagree with him regarding there being a lack of historical track record. There are a number of historical analogues, some of which brought technological revolution and some of which were dead ends. Reference to historical analogues should be part of your argument. I believe you can highlight certain parallels in history which offer precedent and make it more likely that this revolution will succeed rather than fail.

Thanks for your input! I am always learning on how to improve what needs work. Although English isn't really my power house if you ask me. Math and science is what I excel at.

I can always refer to the tech that was created by SPACEX/Blue Origin and how that can benefit Americans (Such as being one of the leaders in spaceflight,  providing space tourism for Americans, and expanding the space program) and potentially the world.

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #17 on: 05/09/2017 02:33 PM »
Well, technically, reflight only took place this year. But perhaps one could claim that what started in 2015 (both SpaceX and Blue) was the "Age of Rocket Landings" (or perhaps: the "Age of Returning Rockets").

Oh of course! But I'd say that with Space x historic landing in 2015, it actually opened the grand doors for the real potential energy of reusable boosters.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #18 on: 05/09/2017 02:53 PM »
My opinion.

Space Exploration (Space X) is in the 'Kitty Hawk' stage. The Wright brothers had successful controlled flight. Many others had tried.

Hopefully Space X will not be the Wright brothers of reuse since the company they formed is still part of an aerospace company but that company does not produce aircraft.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #19 on: 05/09/2017 06:16 PM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

The Shuttle ET was left to disintegrate in the atmosphere, the SRBs were basically hollow tubes after the dynamite was set off while being exposed to salt water and the weather, and the Orbiter was almost rebuilt/heavily refurbished that took millions and many months to prepare again.
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.  The orbiter brought back all of the really costly pieces - the SSMEs, the OMEs, and the redundant flight avionics.

SpaceX throws away half of its rocket even when it does recover its first stage.  The Falcon 9 second stage carries the guidance system and most of the vehicle's other avionics, all of which are thrown away. 

SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.

This is not meant to minimize the achievements.  First stage VTVL achieved by SpaceX (and Blue Origin suborbital) is a big deal.  Shuttle was also a big achievement.  Its relatively rapid reuse allowed NASA to maintain a robust human space program for three decades - something the Agency is having a hard time trying to replicate today.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 06:20 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline gospacex

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #20 on: 05/09/2017 06:32 PM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

The Shuttle ET was left to disintegrate in the atmosphere, the SRBs were basically hollow tubes after the dynamite was set off while being exposed to salt water and the weather, and the Orbiter was almost rebuilt/heavily refurbished that took millions and many months to prepare again.
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #21 on: 05/09/2017 07:42 PM »
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.
That has always been my understanding.  I would love to see some actual cost accounting for proof.  The entire STS was designed for a higher flight rate where the payoff for recovery was supposed to work out better.

I have to wonder if VTVL recovery doesn't also end up a wash, cost-wise.  It probably depends on a million little details that SpaceX itself is still working out.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/09/2017 07:49 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #22 on: 05/09/2017 08:13 PM »
Thanks for your input! I am always learning on how to improve what needs work. Although English isn't really my power house if you ask me. Math and science is what I excel at.
Quite possibly. However unless you are a billionaire already you will need to raise large scale support for your ideas and you will have you have to express them in English (or whatever language you're dealing with). BTW expressing complex ideas in (apparently) simple language is a surprisingly tricky skill to develop.
Quote from: SpaceNerdHerder
I can always refer to the tech that was created by SPACEX/Blue Origin and how that can benefit Americans (Such as being one of the leaders in spaceflight,  providing space tourism for Americans, and expanding the space program) and potentially the world.
You can also point out that people have talked about stage reuse since  the 1960's but none of those concepts had grid fins or anything like them. This suggests that none of those concepts would have actually worked in practice.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline gospacex

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #23 on: 05/09/2017 09:03 PM »
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.
That has always been my understanding.  I would love to see some actual cost accounting for proof.  The entire STS was designed for a higher flight rate where the payoff for recovery was supposed to work out better.

I have to wonder if VTVL recovery doesn't also end up a wash, cost-wise.  It probably depends on a million little details that SpaceX itself is still working out.

Something tells me Elon won't be shipping 175 tons of hardware 2500 kilometers from Florida to Utah, and back, for every reuse :)

Offline tdperk

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #24 on: 05/10/2017 12:42 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

Only for economically useless values of re-flight.

Offline tdperk

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #25 on: 05/10/2017 12:54 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

The Shuttle ET was left to disintegrate in the atmosphere, the SRBs were basically hollow tubes after the dynamite was set off while being exposed to salt water and the weather, and the Orbiter was almost rebuilt/heavily refurbished that took millions and many months to prepare again.
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.  The orbiter brought back all of the really costly pieces - the SSMEs, the OMEs, and the redundant flight avionics.

SpaceX throws away half of its rocket even when it does recover its first stage.  The Falcon 9 second stage carries the guidance system and most of the vehicle's other avionics, all of which are thrown away. 

SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.

This is not meant to minimize the achievements.  First stage VTVL achieved by SpaceX (and Blue Origin suborbital) is a big deal.  Shuttle was also a big achievement.  Its relatively rapid reuse allowed NASA to maintain a robust human space program for three decades - something the Agency is having a hard time trying to replicate today.

 - Ed Kyle

"SpaceX throws away half of its rocket even when it does recover its first stage."  <--  One third, and less when fairings are recovered.

What's more, the Shuttle accomplished nothing at all towards the point of reflight, which is lowering cost.

Point of fact, NASA is not having a hard time replicating a crewed space program, for relative peanuts it will have three system able to do so soon--admittedly, most of those peanuts are going to another white elephant, but that's beside the point.  If the Shuttle had been kept flying at a lower rate and commercial space contracted as law demands, we would never have seen a gap.

Offline Thorny

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #26 on: 05/10/2017 01:28 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

Only for economically useless values of re-flight.

The original poster didn't specify that it had to be economically viable. Only that it was the age of reflight, which the Space Shuttle undoubtedly did.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #27 on: 05/10/2017 01:30 AM »
The original poster didn't specify that it had to be economically viable. Only that it was the age of reflight, which the Space Shuttle undoubtedly did.

So did Gemini 2, if you don't want to count the X-15 for whatever reason.



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 SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #28 on: 05/10/2017 01:48 AM »
If so, it began on November 12, 1981 when Columbia made her second flight.

Only for economically useless values of re-flight.

The original poster didn't specify that it had to be economically viable. Only that it was the age of reflight, which the Space Shuttle undoubtedly did.

"Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger" I should have specified that it did have to be economically viable, but I did assume many would know Space X's intentions of launching, landing and re launching the same core (to "dramatically reduce cost").

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #29 on: 05/10/2017 01:51 AM »
Thanks for your input! I am always learning on how to improve what needs work. Although English isn't really my power house if you ask me. Math and science is what I excel at.
Quite possibly. However unless you are a billionaire already you will need to raise large scale support for your ideas and you will have you have to express them in English (or whatever language you're dealing with). BTW expressing complex ideas in (apparently) simple language is a surprisingly tricky skill to develop.
Quote from: SpaceNerdHerder
I can always refer to the tech that was created by SPACEX/Blue Origin and how that can benefit Americans (Such as being one of the leaders in spaceflight,  providing space tourism for Americans, and expanding the space program) and potentially the world.
You can also point out that people have talked about stage reuse since  the 1960's but none of those concepts had grid fins or anything like them. This suggests that none of those concepts would have actually worked in practice.

Like I have said, I have always been open to improving myself and my methods. No doubt that communicating is important, but English is my second language.

 After all, we always learn new stuff.

Offline Thorny

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #30 on: 05/10/2017 02:07 AM »
"Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger" I should have specified that it did have to be economically viable, but I did assume many would know Space X's intentions of launching, landing and re launching the same core (to "dramatically reduce cost").

In that case, a more appropriate name would be "Age of Low-Cost Spaceflight" or something along those lines. Reflight is nothing new, but dramatically lower launch costs (which are yet to be proven) will be.

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #31 on: 05/10/2017 02:21 AM »
"Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger" I should have specified that it did have to be economically viable, but I did assume many would know Space X's intentions of launching, landing and re launching the same core (to "dramatically reduce cost").

In that case, a more appropriate name would be "Age of Low-Cost Spaceflight" or something along those lines. Reflight is nothing new, but dramatically lower launch costs (which are yet to be proven) will be.

I would say that name needs more jazz. I thought "Age of Reflight" is a pretty cool name. Long, and not that catchy phrases for a name of a time period for can dull for us students reading textbooks! 

Offline SpaceNerdHerder

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #32 on: 05/10/2017 02:29 AM »
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.
That has always been my understanding.  I would love to see some actual cost accounting for proof.  The entire STS was designed for a higher flight rate where the payoff for recovery was supposed to work out better.

I have to wonder if VTVL recovery doesn't also end up a wash, cost-wise.  It probably depends on a million little details that SpaceX itself is still working out.

 - Ed Kyle

If I remember correctly, the resued stage for SES 10 was about half or less than half of what the first stage costs to make and the first stage makes up perhaps 60-70% of the rocket? I do not remember correctly.

Now add in the fairings which cost 5 million, and potentially the upper stage being re-usable "by late next year" (Someone try converting Elon time to normal time). That right there is almost 100%-ish of the rocket re used and tons of money saved.

Granted, we do not really know how much they spent on refurbishing it (Probably high?), but I am sure with enough research and improvements the price in refurb will drop.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #33 on: 05/10/2017 02:40 AM »
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.
That has always been my understanding.  I would love to see some actual cost accounting for proof.  The entire STS was designed for a higher flight rate where the payoff for recovery was supposed to work out better.

I have to wonder if VTVL recovery doesn't also end up a wash, cost-wise.  It probably depends on a million little details that SpaceX itself is still working out.

Something tells me Elon won't be shipping 175 tons of hardware 2500 kilometers from Florida to Utah, and back, for every reuse :)
It may not have been quite that much mass.   I think that the Aft Skirt, Forward Skirt and Nose assemblies were processed at KSC.  The motor segments themselves obviously went back to Utah.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #34 on: 05/10/2017 03:07 AM »
What's more, the Shuttle accomplished nothing at all towards the point of reflight, which is lowering cost.

Point of fact, NASA is not having a hard time replicating a crewed space program, for relative peanuts it will have three system able to do so soon--admittedly, most of those peanuts are going to another white elephant, but that's beside the point.  If the Shuttle had been kept flying at a lower rate and commercial space contracted as law demands, we would never have seen a gap.
STS flew 6-8 times per year during the 1990s.  Commercial crew won't fly that often. 

STS brought steady long-term HSF budgets.  I'm not sure those budgets would have been so steady had expendable new launch vehicle and spacecraft contacts had to have been contracted every few years.  Look what happened to Titan 4, for example.

Re: the "hard time" bit, Commercial Crew is already sitting on several years of delays and there is talk of more delay.  There will almost certainly be "hard times" in this development work.  No human spacecraft has managed to avoid difficulties, and more than a few have suffered tragedies, during development. 

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 05/10/2017 03:09 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #35 on: 05/10/2017 08:08 AM »
STS flew 6-8 times per year during the 1990s.  Commercial crew won't fly that often. 
OTOH their LV's should fly more often than that and that's important to maintain launch team skills.
Quote from: edkyle99
STS brought steady long-term HSF budgets.  I'm not sure those budgets would have been so steady had expendable new launch vehicle and spacecraft contacts had to have been contracted every few years.  Look what happened to Titan 4, for example.
Won't that depend on what destinations those vehicles have to go to ?
Quote from: edkyle99
Re: the "hard time" bit, Commercial Crew is already sitting on several years of delays and there is talk of more delay.  There will almost certainly be "hard times" in this development work.
Consistent under funding by Congress has not helped matters.  :( Despite that SX have managed to flight test various systems on Dragon. Orion has taken 10 years (2004-2014) to get to an uncrewed test flight and as of now about 19 years to get to a crewed flight.
Quote from: edkyle99
No human spacecraft has managed to avoid difficulties, and more than a few have suffered tragedies, during development. 
Which is why people should study "lessons learned" reports and incorporate the results into new designs.

That would explain why US spacecraft no longer use 100% O2 for their atmosphere and the next generation of US HSF vehicles will carry an LES.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2017 08:12 AM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #36 on: 05/10/2017 08:19 AM »
If I remember correctly, the resued stage for SES 10 was about half or less than half of what the first stage costs to make and the first stage makes up perhaps 60-70% of the rocket? I do not remember correctly.
Yes those are about right. However this was for a 1st of a kind effort, which historically are likely to be a lot more expensive as a company learns what is needed, what can be left alone and what might
Quote from: SpaceNerdHerder
Now add in the fairings which cost 5 million, and potentially the upper stage being re-usable "by late next year" (Someone try converting Elon time to normal time). That right there is almost 100%-ish of the rocket re used and tons of money saved.
I've not anyone claim Musk has said that. I know he has talked about an attempt at upper stage recovery during the FH flight test (NET September 17) but he called that a "hail Mary" shot.
Quote from: SpaceNerdHerder
Granted, we do not really know how much they spent on refurbishing it (Probably high?), but I am sure with enough research and improvements the price in refurb will drop.
When everything is a step into unknown territory anything could have unexpected consequences. However once a path has been established you can have confidence that the next time will be faster and cheaper. 

There is a cost modelling game available which allows you change costs and prices of SX launches to see what effects maintenance and build costs have on breakeven launch numbers.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2017 03:54 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline gospacex

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #37 on: 05/10/2017 11:04 AM »
The SRBs brought back costly avionics in addition to their structures.  Even the parachutes were recovered and reused.

But then, "Economy of reuse is not proven" ((c) Jim) came and bit SRBs in the butt: cost of reused SRBs was about the same as the cost of a new set of SRBs. IIRC, $40m.
That has always been my understanding.  I would love to see some actual cost accounting for proof.  The entire STS was designed for a higher flight rate where the payoff for recovery was supposed to work out better.

I have to wonder if VTVL recovery doesn't also end up a wash, cost-wise.  It probably depends on a million little details that SpaceX itself is still working out.

Something tells me Elon won't be shipping 175 tons of hardware 2500 kilometers from Florida to Utah, and back, for every reuse :)
It may not have been quite that much mass.   I think that the Aft Skirt, Forward Skirt and Nose assemblies were processed at KSC.  The motor segments themselves obviously went back to Utah.

On the contrary, the mass was much larger - I forgot that on the trek back, the segments are *filled*, which makes them weigh 1100 tons for one flight.

The point here is not the exact weight, the point is: the way STS program worked, NASA did not care that they were blowing $40m per "reuse", and ATK would be actively opposing anyone trying to fix this "problem", since for them, it's not a problem - it's the source of $$$.

STS could not possibly give us cheap access to space because of *how it was organized* as a program.
« Last Edit: 05/10/2017 11:06 AM by gospacex »

Offline gospacex

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #38 on: 05/10/2017 11:18 AM »
STS flew 6-8 times per year during the 1990s.

STS brought steady long-term HSF budgets.

Just listen to what you just said. "STS was good because it has a fixed cost of $4bn per year for 4-8 flights". You *literally* argue that having a very financially inefficient system is somehow a good thing.

This is the key difference.
For a business, providing a service cheaply is a good thing (because competition).
For a govt program, some parts of the program are in fact incentivized to provide a service in the most expensive way possible.

And you just gave us one example how this can be phrased as seemingly a good thing. "We brought steady long-term budgets". I betcha STS also "helped local economy" and "created a ton of secondary jobs" all over the country. :/

Online Eerie

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #39 on: 05/10/2017 11:42 AM »
"Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger" I should have specified that it did have to be economically viable, but I did assume many would know Space X's intentions of launching, landing and re launching the same core (to "dramatically reduce cost").

In that case, a more appropriate name would be "Age of Low-Cost Spaceflight" or something along those lines. Reflight is nothing new, but dramatically lower launch costs (which are yet to be proven) will be.

Except that "Age of Low-Cost Spaceflight"  hasn't arrived yet. Unless you consider the expendable Falcon 9 price to be it. It say 10x cheaper should be a good cutoff.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #40 on: 05/10/2017 02:24 PM »
STS flew 6-8 times per year during the 1990s.

STS brought steady long-term HSF budgets.

Just listen to what you just said. "STS was good because it has a fixed cost of $4bn per year for 4-8 flights". You *literally* argue that having a very financially inefficient system is somehow a good thing.

This is the key difference.
For a business, providing a service cheaply is a good thing (because competition).
For a govt program, some parts of the program are in fact incentivized to provide a service in the most expensive way possible.

And you just gave us one example how this can be phrased as seemingly a good thing. "We brought steady long-term budgets". I betcha STS also "helped local economy" and "created a ton of secondary jobs" all over the country. :/

Steady in the sense that the STS costs did not spiral upward, as many other government programs did during that time.  Will Commercial Crew budgets be so steady, or will the players raise prices as time passes to recoup costs?  Just look at the CRS-2 contract versus CRS-1.  CRS-2 averages up to $2.8 billion per year just for cargo.  Once Crew is added, the total for crew and cargo could surpass STS.

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 05/10/2017 02:31 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline tdperk

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #41 on: 05/10/2017 02:55 PM »
I should have specified that it did have to be economically viable, but I did assume many would know Space X's intentions of launching, landing and re launching the same core (to "dramatically reduce cost").

I know of supposedly competent aerospace professionals who studiously avoid acknowledging the need for the cost of access to LEO to be lower.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #42 on: 05/10/2017 03:59 PM »
Steady in the sense that the STS costs did not spiral upward, as many other government programs did during that time.  Will Commercial Crew budgets be so steady, or will the players raise prices as time passes to recoup costs?  Just look at the CRS-2 contract versus CRS-1.  CRS-2 averages up to $2.8 billion per year just for cargo.  Once Crew is added, the total for crew and cargo could surpass STS.
One moment. What was the basis of the contract price NASA offered to pay the winners?Was that what NASA expected they could do it for based on their BAU contractor price models?

 My sense is that with experience that price should go down as development costs are recouped, not up.

But I keep forgetting this is the aerospace business, where substantial price inflation is BAU.  :(
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #43 on: 05/10/2017 04:27 PM »
To the original posed question, I would say 'not yet' but almost.

SpaceX has reflown 1 booster so far.  Blue Origin has yet to fly an orbital booster once.  We are still in the experimental stage for this process. 

I would say that the 'age' begins once a significant fraction of the flights are reflights and more than one company, organization, etc is doing it successfully.

On the other hand, others here have given you great places to research the evolution that has lead us to the cusp of this age.  The Dreams of Van Braun.  What the Shuttle taught us about reusability (for good and ill).  The false starts leading to the current successes. 

I'd love to see what you write.
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        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #44 on: 05/10/2017 05:37 PM »
It's not a question of hardware flown. Never was.

It's a question of exploiting advantages.

Reuse/reflight presents advantage.

Current iteration (F9) of this is being exploited by geosat vendors for medium size, max on-orbit propellant/life, frequent launches.

Potentially, another effect might be that Antares is flying less frequently, because a better economic trade of bigger Cygnus on Atlas V additional margin beats it.

Now, viewing that as a trend, you'd possibly label it "Age of Economic Consolidation"? Not as snazzy, but perhaps more accurate.


Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #45 on: 05/10/2017 11:08 PM »
Steady in the sense that the STS costs did not spiral upward, as many other government programs did during that time.  Will Commercial Crew budgets be so steady, or will the players raise prices as time passes to recoup costs?  Just look at the CRS-2 contract versus CRS-1.  CRS-2 averages up to $2.8 billion per year just for cargo.  Once Crew is added, the total for crew and cargo could surpass STS.
One moment. What was the basis of the contract price NASA offered to pay the winners?Was that what NASA expected they could do it for based on their BAU contractor price models?

 My sense is that with experience that price should go down as development costs are recouped, not up.

But I keep forgetting this is the aerospace business, where substantial price inflation is BAU.  :(

An additional variable here is the number of flights. Has the cost per flight gone down, stayed the same or increased? Compare with aerospace inflation. Adjust for payload mass.

Offline Krankenhausen

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #46 on: 05/11/2017 12:23 AM »
Sorry if this is off topic, but I can't help myself to correct this.  I remember the CRS-2 discussion, the $2.8 billion for CRS-2 is overly pessimistic. The discussion can be found in this topic (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39317.400.)


The gist was that the $2.8 billion was based on a maximum possible cost due to how the contracts were structured. All three contractors have a contract for a maximum of 4 flights per year* (this to give Nasa the flexibility to order more Dragon missions if the Dreamchaser is grounded for example.) The 2.8 billion per year figure is the cost when Nasa orders all those 12 missions in that year, which will never happen. It is likely Nasa will order about half that number of flights per year (for example 3 Dragons, 2 Cygni and 1 Dreamchaser) and the cost will be something like $1.4 billion, or €230 million per mission. Which is indeed somewhat more expensive than CRS-1, but the vehicles are also more capable (and there's almost 10 years of inflation to account for.)

In the end in $/kg I believe that OATK is significantly cheaper than during CRS-1, while Spacex is somewhat more expensive. I don't know about Dreamchaser.

*It is actually a maximum of 20 flights over 5 years
« Last Edit: 05/11/2017 10:42 AM by Krankenhausen »

Offline deruch

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #47 on: 05/12/2017 02:42 AM »
Hi! I am currently doing a American history project on anything that happened during America's history. I decided to choose the period 2015- Present (Starting with Space X's landing of 11 Orbcomm-OG2!) because I see it as a monumental achievement for America and shows how far we have come from the Space Race.

Now I am trying to find ways to convince my teacher that "Age of Reflight" (Kudos to the commentator on the webcast!) is a actual thing and how that can be something I can do my project on, because Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger and is going to revolutionize spaceflight.

I was just wondering if anyone had any input if this is truly the "Age of Reflight"  and if anyone thinks this will eventually become a official name for this period (Like the Space Race) that will end up in textbooks.

Thanks!
Space X      THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN THE "SPACE" AND "X"!!

SpaceX (no separation). 

Good luck with your project.  Sorry my only input was a small nitpick. 
Shouldn't reality posts be in "Advanced concepts"?  --Nomadd

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #48 on: 05/12/2017 06:14 PM »
SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.

Uh-huh. Let me introduce you to FH. If you truly think that SpaceX is going to fly a higher proportion of expendable flights verses reused in the future, you are in denial.

This is not meant to minimize the achievements.

You? Minimizing SpaceX achievements? Never!  ;D
« Last Edit: 05/12/2017 06:15 PM by Lars-J »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #49 on: 05/12/2017 08:08 PM »
SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.

Uh-huh. Let me introduce you to FH. If you truly think that SpaceX is going to fly a higher proportion of expendable flights verses reused in the future, you are in denial.
I truly believe what I said.  The first eleven v1.2s were, or would have been, recoverable.  Two of the next four (including the Inmarsat 4 F5 booster on the pad now) were expendable.  More are planned.  Block 5 will be able to lift more than 8 tonnes to GTO, but only less than 5.5 tonnes in recoverable mode.  There will be those who will want to fly on the single-stick rather than the Heavy for reasons of reliability and schedule.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline LastStarFighter

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #50 on: 05/12/2017 09:05 PM »
SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.

Uh-huh. Let me introduce you to FH. If you truly think that SpaceX is going to fly a higher proportion of expendable flights verses reused in the future, you are in denial.
I truly believe what I said.  The first eleven v1.2s were, or would have been, recoverable.  Two of the next four (including the Inmarsat 4 F5 booster on the pad now) were expendable.  More are planned.  Block 5 will be able to lift more than 8 tonnes to GTO, but only less than 5.5 tonnes in recoverable mode.  There will be those who will want to fly on the single-stick rather than the Heavy for reasons of reliability and schedule.

 - Ed Kyle

I think it's all just going to come down to pricing... Customers have shown that they follow the money IMO. That's why SpaceX has so many launches to begin with and they have (mostly) stuck with them through all the delays. If SpaceX incentivizes large satellites towards a recoverable FH with below expendable F9 prices then satellites will take it. Even with the higher risk and delays.

Offline Chasm

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #51 on: 05/12/2017 11:27 PM »
I have a box of known size and weight, I need delivery to a specific orbit, not exceeding a given set of environmental conditions during delivery. - These conditions apply to all delivery vehicles. Rockets but also air and land transport before that.
When can I get it delivered to orbit, how certain is it that my box will arrive in good working condition, how much does it cost?

The rest is not really that important.
Yes, there are long lists of restrictions for national and political reasons but those are not new.


So, when will is the age of reflight arrive?
When there is more than one commercial operator doing reflight as a matter of normal operations, for years.
Very likely the first two will be SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Why more than one? One is a monopoly, not an age. (Not that two is much better...)
Why also in normal operation? Too easy to do a few reuses for PR value. Reflight as normal operation over time means that it is actually financially viable over expendable systems of the same vintage and technology and not just another STS.

Offline Brovane

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #52 on: 05/14/2017 06:41 AM »

SpaceX throws away its entire rocket on some flights.  In the future, as more customers want more mass lifted to orbit for those low, low SpaceX prices, the company will likely have to perform an increasing number of expendable flights.


 - Ed Kyle

The beauty of how the F9 is recovered is that the hardware to recover is an add-on kit.  Want to recover the 1st stage, add grid fins, RCS, and landing legs.  Don't want to recover the booster, then launch without these systems.  Already in expendable mode, the F9 as you said has industry leading low prices. 

The launch prices are negotiable.  If a customer wants to launch more mass than an F9 can handle and still recover the first stage booster, charge appropriately.   Notice how on the SpaceX web page when you go to pricing for the F9, it says $62M for up to 5.5 mT to GTO even though the full performance is 8.3 mT to GTO.  Want to launch a 8 mT satellite, be prepared to pay more than $62M.  What we are seeing right now is SpaceX working through a manifest of customers that had purchased launches several years ago.  Some of these launches might have been intended to fly on the FH, but had switched to the F9 because with the increased performance of the F9 6.1 mT satellite can be launched to GTO.  The full impact of re-usability on pricing and launch manifest for SpaceX will not be felt for several years. 
"Look at that! If anybody ever said, "you'll be sitting in a spacecraft naked with a 134-pound backpack on your knees charging it", I'd have said "Aw, get serious". - John Young - Apollo-16

Offline Hog

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #53 on: 05/15/2017 11:55 AM »
Hi! I am currently doing a American history project on anything that happened during America's history. I decided to choose the period 2015- Present (Starting with Space X's landing of 11 Orbcomm-OG2!) because I see it as a monumental achievement for America and shows how far we have come from the Space Race.

Now I am trying to find ways to convince my teacher that "Age of Reflight" (Kudos to the commentator on the webcast!) is a actual thing and how that can be something I can do my project on, because Blue Origin, Space X, China and ULA have been scrambling to launch cheaper and bigger and is going to revolutionize spaceflight.

I was just wondering if anyone had any input if this is truly the "Age of Reflight"  and if anyone thinks this will eventually become a official name for this period (Like the Space Race) that will end up in textbooks.

Thanks!
Space X      THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN THE "SPACE" AND "X"!!

SpaceX (no separation). 

Good luck with your project.  Sorry my only input was a small nitpick.
The company is actually Space Exploration Technologies Corporation , but that does fit well on the sticks and isn't near as "cool" as Space-X.  Don't confuse a trademark with an actual proper word.
Paul

Offline Hog

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #54 on: 05/15/2017 12:01 PM »
I have a box of known size and weight, I need delivery to a specific orbit, not exceeding a given set of environmental conditions during delivery. - These conditions apply to all delivery vehicles. Rockets but also air and land transport before that.
When can I get it delivered to orbit, how certain is it that my box will arrive in good working condition, how much does it cost?

The rest is not really that important.
Yes, there are long lists of restrictions for national and political reasons but those are not new.


So, when will is the age of reflight arrive?
When there is more than one commercial operator doing reflight as a matter of normal operations, for years.
Very likely the first two will be SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Why more than one? One is a monopoly, not an age. (Not that two is much better...)
Why also in normal operation? Too easy to do a few reuses for PR value. Reflight as normal operation over time means that it is actually financially viable over expendable systems of the same vintage and technology and not just another STS.
Is simply getting your box to orbit the only metric.   What if you need you box placed on orbit and retrieved and de orbited, with a possible on-orbit repair?  Functions such as this are where some of the abilities of STS come to light. 
Just another STS?  We should be so lucky to have such a capability.
Paul

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #55 on: 05/15/2017 04:30 PM »
Quote
Space X      THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN THE "SPACE" AND "X"!!

SpaceX (no separation). 

Good luck with your project.  Sorry my only input was a small nitpick.
The company is actually Space Exploration Technologies Corporation , but that does fit well on the sticks and isn't near as "cool" as Space-X.  Don't confuse a trademark with an actual proper word.

How can you nitpick and still get it wrong? SpaceX. Not Space-X.

Offline envy887

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Re: Is this really a[n] Age of Reflight?
« Reply #56 on: 05/15/2017 06:58 PM »
If I remember correctly, the resued stage for SES 10 was about half or less than half of what the first stage costs to make and the first stage makes up perhaps 60-70% of the rocket? I do not remember correctly.
...

It was "substantially less than half" the cost of a new first stage. And Musk stated several times that the booster is 75% of the cost of a launch.

Offline Hog

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Re: Is this really a Age of Reflight?
« Reply #57 on: 05/22/2017 08:03 PM »
Quote
Space X      THERE IS NO SPACE BETWEEN THE "SPACE" AND "X"!!

SpaceX (no separation). 

Good luck with your project.  Sorry my only input was a small nitpick.
The company is actually Space Exploration Technologies Corporation , but that does fit well on the sticks and isn't near as "cool" as Space-X.  Don't confuse a trademark with an actual proper word.

How can you nitpick and still get it wrong? SpaceX. Not Space-X.
Nit picking?  Wrong?  My spelling was shown as intended, hyphenated.
I'll try again.
Space Ex,  there.   
 It's a dry humour.

The age of reflight began the moment that the solids lit on STS-2.
Paul

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