Author Topic: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher  (Read 255014 times)

Offline The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #160 on: 03/05/2015 10:04 PM »


It takes thousands of companies to make an industry. Currently there's very few actually operating anything in space. Their argument is that they can help increase that number. Whether they can actually do that or not is the question.

It's important to remember that some of us still think space will be colonized by humanity, not just Elon Musk.

Let's leave the anti-personality cultism and the colonisation stuff out of this. There's tonnes of threads for that already. RocketLab is about small sats, let's stick to that.

You make a lot of good points QuantumG, and I agree with you that not every organisation that coughs up enough quid for a smallsat or two has necessarily enough resources (or the motivation - even a cubesat can perform an incredible amount of science for its mass) to send up a constellation of them, especially when we're talking about science oriented earthsats instead of a telecom project. Firefly recently compared their business model to "a train", which payloads then cash into, and I can see how the metaphor works out for either ff or RocketLab; both are developing small, relatively simple rockets which (should) be easy to tease the bugs out of, and thus fly a frequent, predictable service. Kinda' like a train (in theory. The trains around here suffer more delays than a certain past Orbcomm launch).

It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

Edit: Grammar.
« Last Edit: 03/05/2015 10:08 PM by The Amazing Catstronaut »
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Offline Silversheep2011

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #161 on: 03/12/2015 10:32 AM »
An update from THRO web broadcast episode 8.08 at the 30:30 mark test flights anticipated by end of 2015!


Offline CameronD

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #162 on: 03/13/2015 12:14 AM »
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.


And a question around that:  It's not evident to me from the pics posted above exactly how the 'Electron' is steered.  Does anyone know??

« Last Edit: 03/13/2015 12:17 AM by CameronD »
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 ChrisWilson68

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #163 on: 03/13/2015 01:12 AM »
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.

Offline CameronD

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #164 on: 03/13/2015 02:58 AM »
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.

I'd like to think so, but I'm not so sure..  IIRC, starting out, SpaceX had three strike-outs in a row with Falcon 1.  After watching Elon Musk's  '60 Minutes' interview following the last one, it seems to me it was only determination to not ever give up that saw SpaceX go on to be where it is today.  One more might have been the end of them.

Therefore, ISTM that it's not only the quantity but exactly where those crashes occur in the vehicle development cycle (and how good the company is at PR and retaining funding afterwards) that decides the success (or failure) of the entire venture.
 
« Last Edit: 03/13/2015 03:11 AM by CameronD »
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 ChrisWilson68

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #165 on: 03/13/2015 04:52 AM »
It all boils down to them getting those payloads. Along with not blowing up any more times than is necessary, or whatever, but that's a given for any LV, in any stripes, sizes, flags or colours.

{emphasis mine}
A fair point..  And presumably reliability is going to be key to their success, because, to use the "train analogy", if an entire train derails you've just trashed a whole lot more cargo (and a whole lot more people's dreams) than you would if you lost just the engine and a single carriage.

That makes no difference.  Whether it's one hundred trains at one customer each or one train with a hundred customers, if the locomotive causes a crash 5% of the time, each customer has a 5% chance of being in a crash.  Over time, 5% of your customers will end up being in crashes.  Whether it's one out of 20 launches crashing 100 customers or 100 out of 2000 launches crashing 100 customers, it's exactly the same result.

I'd like to think so, but I'm not so sure..  IIRC, starting out, SpaceX had three strike-outs in a row with Falcon 1.  After watching Elon Musk's  '60 Minutes' interview following the last one, it seems to me it was only determination to not ever give up that saw SpaceX go on to be where it is today.  One more might have been the end of them.

Therefore, ISTM that it's not only the quantity but exactly where those crashes occur in the vehicle development cycle (and how good the company is at PR and retaining funding afterwards) that decides the success (or failure) of the entire venture.

Sure, that's a fair point.  I was addressing the stead-state case.  Finding the initial design flaws is another issue.

But if we're talking about whether a customer would rather fly with a dedicated small launcher or as one of many on a Falcon 9 flight -- well, Falcon 9 has already gone through the learning curve.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #166 on: 04/14/2015 07:22 PM »

Offline Skyrocket

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #167 on: 04/14/2015 08:57 PM »
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm

Offline gin455res

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #168 on: 04/14/2015 08:58 PM »
'Unlike traditional propulsion cycles based on complex and expensive gas generators, the 4,600 lbf Rutherford adopts an entirely new electric propulsion cycle, making use of high-performance brushless DC electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries to drive its turbopumps.'

wonder what mass fraction this affords compared to pressure and pump fed systems.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #169 on: 04/14/2015 09:55 PM »
High performance LiPos can do up to 10-20kW/kg. Large gas generators are better but likely don't scale down very well.
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #170 on: 04/14/2015 10:34 PM »
Another article covering same stuff.

http://spacenews.com/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-3d-printed-rocket-engine/

The container idea for payloads is interesting. Would allow change of payload or LV on the day.


Offline QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #171 on: 04/14/2015 11:14 PM »
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm

They've already test flown the engine. I don't think Rocket Lab have flown the Rutherford, have they?
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #172 on: 04/15/2015 12:15 AM »
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/

Offline Prober

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Offline R7

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #174 on: 04/15/2015 07:36 PM »
'Unlike traditional propulsion cycles based on complex and expensive gas generators, the 4,600 lbf Rutherford adopts an entirely new electric propulsion cycle, making use of high-performance brushless DC electric motors and lithium-polymer batteries to drive its turbopumps.'

Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.

Wondering what specs high discharge rate batteries have today. First stage requires 20C-30C batteries which won't pack highest specific energies.
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Offline CameronD

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #175 on: 04/16/2015 01:00 AM »
Electron to use battery powered electric fuel pump. Cool!.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-battery-powered-motor/#more-55084

I wonder, if Ventions' experimental SALVO rocket (built for DARPA) will fly first, which also features electric pumped engines. But they are very secretive about it

http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau/salvo.htm

They've already test flown the engine. I don't think Rocket Lab have flown the Rutherford, have they?

No, I don't think they have.  AFAIK, they're still working out where to fly from..
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 ArbitraryConstant

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #176 on: 04/16/2015 08:12 PM »
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

4600 lbf thrust, 327s ISP  :o

I assume this is the first stage version because 4600*9 is similar to the total thrust claimed for the vehicle, which means even though there's a mass penalty for the batteries, not having to divert any of the propellant flow means it gets expander/staged combustion-like ISP. This beats Merlin 1D by 16 seconds, so the vac version may get 350+ ISP. :o

Thoughts:
-battery contributes to dry mass but I bet it's better than doing the same job with COPV helium in a pressure fed engine, which also has dry mass penalty
-dry mass penalty compared to expander, but comparable ISP, simpler and cheaper to develop and build, and can work with prop combinations like kerolox that don't work with expander

This seems workable for a smallish first stage but it occurs to me this would probably work well for a high energy kick stage on a larger launcher. It could use non-toxic storables like N2O+Propane and outperform a solid kick stage, or it could use cryo propellants like kerolox/methalox and probably get into 350+/360+ territory.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #177 on: 04/16/2015 08:15 PM »
Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.
Still applicable as the pump is likely a centrifugal turbopump even if it's driven by electricity.

Offline hkultala

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #178 on: 04/16/2015 08:39 PM »
Interesting technology but getting rid of the turbine makes "electric turbopump" an oxymoron.
Still applicable as the pump is likely a centrifugal turbopump even if it's driven by electricity.
The definition of tumbopump is that it has a turbine powering it.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #179 on: 04/19/2015 02:10 AM »
More informative article from Forbes.
110kg to 500km SSO
400kg to LEO
50hp from electric motor size of soda can. (Just what I need for the bike.)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2015/04/14/rocket-lab-unveils-a-3d-printed-battery-powered-rocket-engine/
I figured the electric motor would have been similar in size to what you'd find in a small EV.

I guess since they have a cryogenic fluid LOX available to use as a coolant and the motor only needs to work for a few minutes they can make it much smaller.
« Last Edit: 04/19/2015 02:12 AM by Patchouli »

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