Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION  (Read 219856 times)

Offline pb2000

  • Member
  • Posts: 61
  • Calgary, AB/Mesquite, NV
  • Liked: 53
  • Likes Given: 15
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #580 on: 05/02/2017 11:40 PM »
Maybe the NRO was ground testing a new optical tracking system and figured they'd hide the test in plain sight.
Launches attended: Worldview-4 (Atlas V 401), Iridium NEXT Flight 1 (Falcon 9 FT)

Offline georgegassaway

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 165
    • George's Rockets
  • Liked: 172
  • Likes Given: 61
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #581 on: 05/02/2017 11:52 PM »
Quote
Les Kovacs, ULA: want to throw a wet blanket on concept of reusability. Additional systems needed to land stages comes at cost of payload.

Want to throw a wet blanket on Kovacs’ shortsighted biased comment. Build the vehicle with 10-15% extra payload capacity beyond most industry needs, then use that extra capacity whenever practical to re-use the rocket. Rocket costs a bit more to build ONCE* than an expendable that’s maxed-out but you don't have to build a new one for every launch.

Uh, does his comment mean Kovacs is not onboard with ULA’s Vulcan? Even returning “parts” of  a rocket for re-use also comes at cost of payload.  #disingenuous  #illogical Vulcan

* - All things being equal it would cost a bit more. But SpaceX is beating ULA's costs even when Falcons are flown as expendables
« Last Edit: 05/02/2017 11:58 PM by georgegassaway »

Offline AncientU

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4689
  • Liked: 2807
  • Likes Given: 3931
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #582 on: 05/03/2017 12:08 AM »
Quote
Les Kovacs, ULA: want to throw a wet blanket on concept of reusability. Additional systems needed to land stages comes at cost of payload.

Want to throw a wet blanket on Kovacs’ shortsighted biased comment. Build the vehicle with 10-15% extra payload capacity beyond most industry needs, then use that extra capacity whenever practical to re-use the rocket. Rocket costs a bit more to build ONCE* than an expendable that’s maxed-out but you don't have to build a new one for every launch.

Uh, does his comment mean Kovacs is not onboard with ULA’s Vulcan? Even returning “parts” of  a rocket for re-use also comes at cost of payload.  #disingenuous  #illogical Vulcan

* - All things being equal it would cost a bit more. But SpaceX is beating ULA's costs even when Falcons are flown as expendables

So, NRO only got 70% of its payload delivered?  What about the next guy to use 1032 -- does he get zero percent?
« Last Edit: 05/03/2017 12:25 AM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
-- SpaceX friend of mlindner

Online Jcc

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 794
  • Liked: 169
  • Likes Given: 68
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #583 on: 05/03/2017 12:15 AM »
There is a "naysayer roadmap" on the Internet for it :D

Falcon 1 is not proven
Contract with NASA is not proven
Falcon 9 is not proven
Dragon is not proven
ISS resupply is not proven
1st stage return is not proven
Barge landing is not proven
Reuse is not proven
=== You are here ===
Falcon Heavy is not proven
Economy of reuse is not proven
Dragon 2 is not proven
Crewed flights are not proven
Lunar flyby is not proven
Capsule propulsive landing is not proven
Red Dragon is not proven

An interesting note about this is that "Economy of reuse is not proven" is pretty much non-falsifiable. SpaceX has already reused a rocket without going bankrupt and they claim to be profitable. What more can they prove?

The question is not "Is SpaceX profitable?"

Elon Musk has said they spent about a billion dollars developing recovery and reuse. So that needs to be recovered before they are making money with reuse. How long that takes depends on how much they discount the rockets for launch and how much it costs to refurbish them for the next launch. The issue boils down to the question - when do they make more money by reusing rockets than they spent on making them reusable?

An additional facet of this is "how much of your capabilities have you intentionally sacrificed to make your rocket reusable?" which is what ULA has been asking. There is a big gap between the expendable capabilities of the Falcon 9 compared to the capabilities it has when it's landing again.

IOW, how much money could you have made by simply using the maximum capabilities of your rocket? This is why ULA likes the idea of just recovering the engines with a parachute, it puts much less of a dent in the maximum capability of the rocket.

Yes this is ULA's argument. What they are not mentioning is the fact that it would cost ULA much more than it cost SpaceX to do a fully reusable S1, first because they use one big engine instead of 9 small ones so using the center engine to land is not an option. They would need a complete redesign and new small landing engines in addition to their main engine. At least that might help them do away with the solids in some cases. Second, their parent companies and stockholders would not approve a multi-billion dollar budget, or even 1 billion to spend on reusability. So, attempting to reuse the main engine on Vulcan is the best they can hope to do realistically, if that.

Online sanman

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3756
  • Liked: 468
  • Likes Given: 7
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #584 on: 05/03/2017 12:19 AM »
Maybe the NRO was ground testing a new optical tracking system and figured they'd hide the test in plain sight.

If that's the case, then Musk should offer them a discount in exchange for being able to make use of their tracking technology - because it sure does provide a new level of thrill to spectators. Besides, it could probably come in handy for debugging/investigation if flight anomalies (eg.RUDs) occur in the future.

Offline Lars-J

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3402
  • California
  • Liked: 2638
  • Likes Given: 1665
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #585 on: 05/03/2017 12:29 AM »
Okay, so RTLS is a prerequisite for nice close-ups like that, because they likely wouldn't be able to get such a good view from out at sea?

Correct. Unless you have a tracking ship out there with a very stabilized telescope platform.

Offline cppetrie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 356
  • Liked: 177
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #586 on: 05/03/2017 02:24 AM »
Okay, so RTLS is a prerequisite for nice close-ups like that, because they likely wouldn't be able to get such a good view from out at sea?

Correct. Unless you have a tracking ship out there with a very stabilized telescope platform.
Yep. It's because of the curvature of the earth. Even under the best conditions you can only see about 22 miles away because the earth curves down and away and things beyond that get hidden by the horizon. The ASDS is "catching" the returning first stages from a couple hundred miles off the coast. They could track the first stage for most of the decent but the landing could not be imaged using the camera system installed at the cape. You'd need a second system near the ASDS which would be able to image the launch until the rocket cleared the horizon plus then you have to try and stabilize the position making platform at sea which is no easy task. Not impossible. It's something akin to stabilizing the main gun barrel of an Abrams tank while it drives at full speed, which it can do. But it isn't 'easy'.

Offline Sam Ho

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 479
  • Liked: 171
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #587 on: 05/03/2017 03:42 AM »
There could have been ride share CubeSats that S2 deployed. I believe the planned de-orbit was planned for orbit 3. saw that somewhere on NSF...

I might be missing something but wouldn't the NRO not be very keen on rideshares? My expectation was zero cubesats, as their orbits might give away info about the primary bird.

unless the cubesats were NRO's and are testbed for future technologies.

Point. In which case we may never know.... no announcement, no orbital elements, nothing.

Want to keep a really big secret? Wrap it in outer layers of secrets that are themselves hard to penetrate and not necessarily relevant/related. Include some false secrets too...  (see "Footfall" for a plot device example of that)

The NRO is actually a big fan of rideshares. They sponsored the development of the Centaur Aft Bulkhead Carrier.

The Atlas V Aft Bulkhead Carrier Update – Past Missions, Upcoming Launches and Future Improvements (2015)

Offline hrissan

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 394
  • Novosibirsk, Russia
  • Liked: 306
  • Likes Given: 1876
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #588 on: 05/03/2017 03:53 AM »

Point. In which case we may never know.... no announcement, no orbital elements, nothing.

Want to keep a really big secret? Wrap it in outer layers of secrets that are themselves hard to penetrate and not necessarily relevant/related. Include some false secrets too...  (see "Footfall" for a plot device example of that)

This one will be hard for amateur observers to track, Basically no one north of London will ever see it. Especially if it's sun sync such that it's always at it's highest latitude during the day. You'll have to be pretty far south to get a glimpse of it at night. Might just rule out it ever being spotted by many of the usual people who make it a habit of  tracking these birds.
A bunch of professionals, with secret capabilities of course :) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Space_Intelligence_Centre

1. "We pretend no one can detect our bird" 2. "We pretend we did not detect your bird" 3.... 4. Profit!

Offline rsdavis9

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #589 on: 05/03/2017 10:11 AM »
You'd need a second system near the ASDS which would be able to image the launch until the rocket cleared the horizon plus then you have to try and stabilize the position making platform at sea which is no easy task. Not impossible. It's something akin to stabilizing the main gun barrel of an Abrams tank while it drives at full speed, which it can do. But it isn't 'easy'.

for one of the launches about 2 years ago there were 1 or 2 nasa ships in portsmouth nh with big optics on board and I asked them when I kayaked by them what they were doing and they said trying to grab photos of the spacex launch. I'm pretty sure they had some kind of active stabilization.
With ELV best efficiency was the paradigm. The new paradigm is reusable, good enough, and commonality of design.
Same engines. Design once. Same vehicle. Design once. Reusable. Build once.

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3030
  • Liked: 532
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #590 on: 05/03/2017 10:47 AM »
Elon Musk has said they spent about a billion dollars developing recovery and reuse. So that needs to be recovered before they are making money with reuse. How long that takes depends on how much they discount the rockets for launch and how much it costs to refurbish them for the next launch. The issue boils down to the question - when do they make more money by reusing rockets than they spent on making them reusable?

An additional facet of this is "how much of your capabilities have you intentionally sacrificed to make your rocket reusable?" which is what ULA has been asking.

Which is a bogus question.

Payload has a fixed mass. You get paid for orbiting this payload. Any extra performance you have over this weight on this flight would not earn you a single extra dollar.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass and land the stage, you "sacrificed" nothing for reusing this state.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass only by expending the stage, you are no worse than your competitors who do not have reuse option at all.

ULA are not stupid, they know this too. They are just not yet resigned to accept the new reality.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2017 10:48 AM by gospacex »

Offline satwatcher

  • Member
  • Posts: 99
  • Liked: 45
  • Likes Given: 41
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #591 on: 05/03/2017 11:28 AM »
This one will be hard for amateur observers to track, Basically no one north of London will ever see it. Especially if it's sun sync such that it's always at it's highest latitude during the day. You'll have to be pretty far south to get a glimpse of it at night. Might just rule out it ever being spotted by many of the usual people who make it a habit of  tracking these birds.

Don't be too pessimistic. Most of the active observers are at latitudes South of London. And since it is not in a Sun synchronous orbit, it will precess into evening/morning visibility for both hemispheres throughout the year, just like ISS does. Already at the end of May the nominal orbital plane will be at high Beta angle and and parallel to the terminator, meaning visibility from the Northern hemisphere for the entire night, allowing for NROL-76 search marathons. So chances are high it will be spotted sooner rather than later.

Offline Sam Ho

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 479
  • Liked: 171
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #592 on: 05/03/2017 12:31 PM »
Elon Musk has said they spent about a billion dollars developing recovery and reuse. So that needs to be recovered before they are making money with reuse. How long that takes depends on how much they discount the rockets for launch and how much it costs to refurbish them for the next launch. The issue boils down to the question - when do they make more money by reusing rockets than they spent on making them reusable?

An additional facet of this is "how much of your capabilities have you intentionally sacrificed to make your rocket reusable?" which is what ULA has been asking.

Which is a bogus question.

Payload has a fixed mass. You get paid for orbiting this payload. Any extra performance you have over this weight on this flight would not earn you a single extra dollar.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass and land the stage, you "sacrificed" nothing for reusing this state.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass only by expending the stage, you are no worse than your competitors who do not have reuse option at all.

ULA are not stupid, they know this too. They are just not yet resigned to accept the new reality.

That's far too general of a statement. You most certainly can get paid for excess performance, notably by taking rideshares, or, if the payload makes further orbital changes, say by going to GEO, by giving the payload a better insertion orbit.

In any case, we are drifting from the topic of this thread, which is NROL-76. The relevant question here would be whether there were rideshares on this flight, and if so, what effect that had on the decision to do a RTLS. The answer to the second question is most likely not much.

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2581
  • Liked: 1161
  • Likes Given: 731
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #593 on: 05/03/2017 01:17 PM »
Elon Musk has said they spent about a billion dollars developing recovery and reuse. So that needs to be recovered before they are making money with reuse. How long that takes depends on how much they discount the rockets for launch and how much it costs to refurbish them for the next launch. The issue boils down to the question - when do they make more money by reusing rockets than they spent on making them reusable?

An additional facet of this is "how much of your capabilities have you intentionally sacrificed to make your rocket reusable?" which is what ULA has been asking.

Which is a bogus question.

Payload has a fixed mass. You get paid for orbiting this payload. Any extra performance you have over this weight on this flight would not earn you a single extra dollar.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass and land the stage, you "sacrificed" nothing for reusing this state.
If you can orbit the payload of this fixed mass only by expending the stage, you are no worse than your competitors who do not have reuse option at all.

ULA are not stupid, they know this too. They are just not yet resigned to accept the new reality.

Please take the reuse economics to the proper thread. See my response here:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40377.msg1674068#msg1674068

Offline spacekid

  • Member
  • Posts: 41
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Liked: 12
  • Likes Given: 25
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #594 on: 05/03/2017 07:47 PM »
Maybe the NRO was ground testing a new optical tracking system and figured they'd hide the test in plain sight.

If that's the case, then Musk should offer them a discount in exchange for being able to make use of their tracking technology - because it sure does provide a new level of thrill to spectators. Besides, it could probably come in handy for debugging/investigation if flight anomalies (eg.RUDs) occur in the future.
These tracking cameras have been around a long time. Check out a shuttle launch video replay. More likely, Musk didn't want to pay for them. In this case, NRO probably payed for it. There's also more video they took that you didn't see like of the payload when the fairing came off.

Online abaddon

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1443
  • Liked: 888
  • Likes Given: 704
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #595 on: 05/03/2017 07:55 PM »
These views aren't new, even for SpaceX.  Check out 0:37 & 0:50 (CRS-9) and 0:56 (OG-2 M2) for some examples that should look familiar.

« Last Edit: 05/03/2017 07:59 PM by abaddon »

Offline darkenfast

  • Member
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 733
  • Liked: 368
  • Likes Given: 706
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #596 on: 05/03/2017 08:30 PM »
A couple of the earlier Falcon 9 launches showed spectacular footage on days when the atmospheric conditions  were really good for the higher magnification trackers.  It varies from launch to launch.  Perhaps Jim can tell us if those cameras are always used for launches from CCAFS/KSC or if they are now an optional extra charge.

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8506
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1022
  • Likes Given: 234
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #597 on: 05/04/2017 12:57 AM »

Don't be too pessimistic. Most of the active observers are at latitudes South of London. And since it is not in a Sun synchronous orbit, it will precess into evening/morning visibility for both hemispheres throughout the year, just like ISS does. Already at the end of May the nominal orbital plane will be at high Beta angle and and parallel to the terminator, meaning visibility from the Northern hemisphere for the entire night, allowing for NROL-76 search marathons. So chances are high it will be spotted sooner rather than later.

After looking up the nominal altitude for a 51 degree sun synchronous orbit, I concede the point. 4000ish km is a tad high for the the assumed optical payload.

I will say, that the clouds have been bad on the east coast this week, and seesat had been pretty quiet. I look forward to being proven wrong.
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Ben the Space Brit

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6960
  • A spaceflight fan
  • London, UK
  • Liked: 535
  • Likes Given: 610
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #598 on: 05/04/2017 12:22 PM »
I'm guessing that attempting to 'stealth' a spacecraft with low-optical reflectivity material would be counter-productive as it would greatly increase the internal heating from sunlight.
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

~*~*~*~

The Space Shuttle Program - 1981-2011

The time for words has passed; The time has come to put up or shut up!
DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Online LouScheffer

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1533
  • Liked: 1682
  • Likes Given: 194
Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - NROL-76 - May 1, 2017 - DISCUSSION
« Reply #599 on: 05/04/2017 01:01 PM »
I'm guessing that attempting to 'stealth' a spacecraft with low-optical reflectivity material would be counter-productive as it would greatly increase the internal heating from sunlight.
A black satellite introduces no huge thermal problems.  It absorbs a lot of sunlight, but it's also a very good emitter, so it balances out.

Another approach is to cover the spacecraft with a mirror, or mirrors, that re-direct the line of sight from Earth into space.

These and other approaches are summarized in the A Stealth Satellite Sourcebook, an open summary of what is known or suspected about space stealth.

Tags: