Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION  (Read 234783 times)

Offline Brian45

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #140 on: 04/08/2017 12:37 PM »
Could someone explain why, if in fact the delay is due to the payload, SpaceX cannot swop out one payload for another and use the launch window for another customer?

Was there not enough time to reconfigure the F9? Is it a question of hardware? Orbital mechanics?

I'm sure SpaceX has considered this, but I cannot find any explanation/discussion on this website.

Online hopalong

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #141 on: 04/08/2017 12:52 PM »
Could someone explain why, if in fact the delay is due to the payload, SpaceX cannot swop out one payload for another and use the launch window for another customer?

Was there not enough time to reconfigure the F9? Is it a question of hardware? Orbital mechanics?

I'm sure SpaceX has considered this, but I cannot find any explanation/discussion on this website.

Your average payload, e.g. A comms bird, needs weeks of checking out once it has been shipped to the launch site, then needs fuelling and then encapsulating before being installed on top of the LV. It is not easy just to move it up a couple of weeks at short notice.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #142 on: 04/08/2017 12:55 PM »
Could someone explain why, if in fact the delay is due to the payload, SpaceX cannot swop out one payload for another and use the launch window for another customer?

Was there not enough time to reconfigure the F9? Is it a question of hardware? Orbital mechanics?

I'm sure SpaceX has considered this, but I cannot find any explanation/discussion on this website.

Some or all of the above.

One thing you have to understand is that spacecraft assembly and launch are all heavily pipelined - one step depends on the previous one, each more or less after the others, step by step. So if the current payload isn't ready on time, the "on deck" payload is probably a couple weeks to a couple months away from being ready. Further, for comsat launches, the manufacturer or operator probably have people that have to plan ahead of time for travel to the launch site or to do 24 hr/day satellite operations once the launch is completed and the spacecraft released. Further, the subsequent payloads all have their own requirements and processing flow, and are even further away from being ready. SpX-11, for instance, will have mission-specific hardware and late-load payload (e.g., mice, plants, items for cold or refrigerated storage, specific replacement parts or supplies being assembled ...) CRS missions are also subject to ISS visiting vehicles requirements, and the processing flows for other supply missions (ATV in the past, HTV, Cygnus, Progress ...) NASA and Russia don't want or need multiple spacecraft all arriving on the same day or within a week ... they need stuff spread out over time.

So the fact that NROL-76 can't launch doesn't mean everything else can just up and slots into place.
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Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #143 on: 04/08/2017 01:28 PM »
As far as I know, SpaceX is core-constrained and there are plenty of payloads on both ranges.  I imagine they can compensate somewhat on KSC delays with Vandenberg launches.

Offline Brian45

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #144 on: 04/08/2017 01:43 PM »
thx for the info, makes a lot of sense.

In keeping with Elon's analogy of airplane travel, eventually a "standby" option for alternative, compatible payloads could be the solution for this particular piece of the puzzle.

A launch window is a terrible thing to waste!

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #145 on: 04/08/2017 05:07 PM »
thx for the info, makes a lot of sense.

In keeping with Elon's analogy of airplane travel, eventually a "standby" option for alternative, compatible payloads could be the solution for this particular piece of the puzzle.

A launch window is a terrible thing to waste!

Keep in mind also that NRO payloads may have specialist requirements.

Offline baldusi

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #146 on: 04/09/2017 11:54 PM »
I speculate that the NRO might have closed down certain facilities due to the clearance requirements, and thus you can't put a new payload ahead due to room unavailability.
Plus, I'm pretty sure they had all their mission assurance work done ob current core and GSE and thus can't swap cores.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #147 on: 04/10/2017 12:51 AM »
So NROL effectively cost SpaceX $62m of lost revenue for the 2017 calendar year. That's based on the two week launch cadence that SpaceX now seems capable of, barring external delays.
SpaceX won't build enough rockets this year for a typical delay like this to matter the way you suggest.  The company has already begun what will be a huge push to fly Falcon Heavy.  That will take up weeks of schedule for no revenue payload launched.  In effect, SpaceX itself will be responsible for multiple $62 millions of "lost  revenue" as you see it.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 12:53 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline rpapo

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #148 on: 04/10/2017 10:20 AM »
Lost revenue: This reminds me of the game that happened every single day at an automotive assembly plant I was doing some work at in the 1980s.  Every day things would happen to pause the assembly line a minute or two, sometimes more.  It was a fact of life.  Nonetheless, heaven help the guy who was "to blame" that day.  After all, when the assembly line was producing one complete car every seventy seconds or so, every minute the line was working was theoretically worth about $10,000 in revenue.  Forget the fact that the line was down for several hours every night for maintenance.  If some line worker had to hit the emergency stop button during the day, he had to answer to a vengeful god (the factory manager).

Moral of story: Yes, things happen.  Yes, they theoretically cost a lot of money.  But no, they aren't the end of the world.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 10:29 AM by rpapo »
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Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #149 on: 04/10/2017 12:45 PM »
So NROL effectively cost SpaceX $62m of lost revenue for the 2017 calendar year. That's based on the two week launch cadence that SpaceX now seems capable of, barring external delays.
SpaceX won't build enough rockets this year for a typical delay like this to matter the way you suggest.  The company has already begun what will be a huge push to fly Falcon Heavy.  That will take up weeks of schedule for no revenue payload launched.  In effect, SpaceX itself will be responsible for multiple $62 millions of "lost  revenue" as you see it.

 - Ed Kyle

Shutting down 39-A is an investment in a future capability (getting Heavy flying) which will pay back many times over. I'm not sure what the payback in waiting for the NRO is - aside from keeping the NRO happy.  Which maybe isn't a bad idea.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #150 on: 04/10/2017 01:29 PM »
As far as I know, SpaceX is core-constrained and there are plenty of payloads on both ranges.  I imagine they can compensate somewhat on KSC delays with Vandenberg launches.

No such thing as "plenty of payloads on both ranges"

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #151 on: 04/10/2017 01:45 PM »
No such thing as "plenty of payloads on both ranges"

More explicitly, if SpaceX slips NROL-76, that might free up a core for Iridium two weeks earlier.

Online M.E.T.

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #152 on: 04/10/2017 01:59 PM »
So NROL effectively cost SpaceX $62m of lost revenue for the 2017 calendar year. That's based on the two week launch cadence that SpaceX now seems capable of, barring external delays.
SpaceX won't build enough rockets this year for a typical delay like this to matter the way you suggest.  The company has already begun what will be a huge push to fly Falcon Heavy.  That will take up weeks of schedule for no revenue payload launched.  In effect, SpaceX itself will be responsible for multiple $62 millions of "lost  revenue" as you see it.

 - Ed Kyle

From previous estimates and from Elon's recent comments, SpaceX is aiming for around 24 launches this year. That is based on a certain expected schedule that can be maintained. A schedule that already builds in the "downtime" on one of their ranges for Falcon Heavy preparation.

So, any unplanned 2 week delays such as this one would necessitate that the schedule gets moved to the right by one launch. Unless the flight can be recovered by speeding up the cadence to faster than a two week turn around time later in the year.

However, in that case, the question is begged: Why could that speed up not have been achieved in any case, in order to push them to 25 launches for the year, thus still resulting in a $62m loss of revenue that "could have been" in the absence of the current delay.

Indeed, the assembly line example used by someone up thread refers. I work in an industry where we sell hours to clients. So as a project manager I am geared to thinking about every lost productive hour in a week, month or year as an hour that can never be regained. And ultimately, in Elon's model of a Space Transportation business which is based on volume and economies of scale, the same will apply.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 02:02 PM by M.E.T. »

Online abaddon

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #153 on: 04/10/2017 02:03 PM »
There's a lot of manifest-y stuff here, stuff about other payloads, stuff about NROL-76 slip hypothetically costing SpaceX money, that is really not actually about NROL-76.  I'd suggest these discussions are better suited for another thread or threads.  Can we try and keep it on topic about the NROL-76 launch please?

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #154 on: 04/10/2017 02:08 PM »
No such thing as "plenty of payloads on both ranges"

More explicitly, if SpaceX slips NROL-76, that might free up a core for Iridium two weeks earlier.

NRO will have a specific core

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #155 on: 04/10/2017 02:11 PM »
NRO will have a specific core

Yes, but the others that NRO is pushing back do not.

Offline stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #156 on: 04/10/2017 03:00 PM »
NRO will have a specific core

Yes, but the others that NRO is pushing back do not.

Inmarsat would as well since it (should be) going expendable

Online Mike_1179

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #157 on: 04/10/2017 07:30 PM »
Before the delay, static fire was scheduled for 12 April. Is SpaceX going to keep to this date (or something similar) even if the launch will not be until weeks later?

That would assume (a) the delay is not related to the vehicle and (b) it would not have taken a herculean effort / overtime to make the 12th and without that schedule requirement the folks who do the work won't be made to work as many hours

Offline ChrisGebhardt

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #158 on: 04/10/2017 07:40 PM »
Before the delay, static fire was scheduled for 12 April. Is SpaceX going to keep to this date (or something similar) even if the launch will not be until weeks later?

That would assume (a) the delay is not related to the vehicle and (b) it would not have taken a herculean effort / overtime to make the 12th and without that schedule requirement the folks who do the work won't be made to work as many hours

No.  Static fire has moved as well to its standard slot 4 days before launch.

Online Lar

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #159 on: 04/10/2017 08:57 PM »
There's a lot of manifest-y stuff here, stuff about other payloads, stuff about NROL-76 slip hypothetically costing SpaceX money, that is really not actually about NROL-76.  I'd suggest these discussions are better suited for another thread or threads.  Can we try and keep it on topic about the NROL-76 launch please?

Let's do keep general cadence stuff to other threads. Thanks.
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