Author Topic: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?  (Read 33431 times)

Offline Dave G

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Obviously a discussion/speculation thread.

By BFR, I mean the booster.  BFS may launch by itself, but the payload capability won't be meaningful.

Your thoughts?

Offline hkultala

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #1 on: 11/07/2017 03:17 PM »
Obviously a discussion/speculation thread.

By BFR, I mean the booster.  BFS may launch by itself, but the payload capability won't be meaningful.

Your thoughts?

My vote for Boca Chica.

LC-39A will be needed for manned F9 and FH, so it cannot be taken offline to be converted for BFR initially.

And SLC-40 will handle many non-manned F9 launches to achieve high launch cadence. They don't want to take that offline either.
Also, SLC-40 might not have the foundation for BFR-class rockets?

And SLC-4E is needed for F9/FH polar orbit launches, cannot take that offline easily.

But they can build Boca Chica for BFR from the start.

After BRF has started launching from Boca Chica and can start taking over the F9/FH missions, they can then start converting the F9/FH pads to BRF.

« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 03:18 PM by hkultala »

Offline RedLineTrain

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #2 on: 11/07/2017 03:22 PM »
It seems like the BFR development program may be somewhat atypical for a rocket program in that we may see quite a few flights of development vehicles before revenue flights begin.

Boca Chica seems suitable for these test flights.

Guessing we will see test article flights for the spaceship and booster in 2019.

Offline Dave G

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #3 on: 11/07/2017 03:23 PM »
To add a little background...

A year ago, BFR (a.k.a. ITS) was basically a side project specifically for Mars with no obvious source of funding.

That all changed with Elon's comments at IAC.  Now it appears SpaceX plans to stop building Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon.  BFR will become their primary vehicle for launching satellites and servicing the ISS.

Specific statements from Elon at IAC include:
http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-mars-iac-2017-transcript-slides-2017-10/#-25
Quote
So then getting back to the question of how do we pay for this system, this is really quite a profound ó I won't call it breakthrough, but realization that if we can build a system that cannibalizes our own products, makes our own products redundant, then all of the resources, which are quite enormous, that are used for Falcon 9, Heavy, and Dragon, can be applied to one system.

Some of our customers are conservative and they want to see BFR fly several times before they're comfortable launching in it, so what we plan to do is to build ahead, and have a stock of Falcon 9 and Dragon vehicles, so that customers can be comfortable if they want to use the old rocket, the old spacecraft, they can do that, we'll have a bunch in stock. But then all of our resources will then turn towards building BFR. And we believe that we can do this with the revenue we receive for launching satellites and for servicing the space station.

Quote
The tooling for the main tanks has been ordered, the facility is being built. We will start construction of the first ship around the second quarter of next year, so in about six to nine months we should start building the first ship.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 03:42 PM by Dave G »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #4 on: 11/07/2017 03:58 PM »
I will also add -- in what configuration will BFR first launch?  Will the first, and all, launches occur with a BFS attached?  Or will BFR launch first with a nosecap, simply to test a downrange droneship landing, or an RTLS landing?
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Online cppetrie

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #5 on: 11/07/2017 04:11 PM »
BFR will not have landing legs and appears to me to be designed to always return to launch site and land on launch mount. It is certainly possible they will have a separate landing site with a launch mount mock-up for testing, but downrange landings donít seem to be in the cards for BFR.

Online speedevil

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #6 on: 11/07/2017 04:14 PM »
I will also add -- in what configuration will BFR first launch?  Will the first, and all, launches occur with a BFS attached?  Or will BFR launch first with a nosecap, simply to test a downrange droneship landing, or an RTLS landing?

At the time it launches, BFS may already have a moderate test program completed.
(comments about SSTO hops, testimony to commission on space about 'first hops (of BFS) will be suborbital')

So, there could be good confidence that BFS can land safely from many classes of malfunctions of BFR.
Launching BFR without BFS could be done and reduce dramatically required liftoff mass and fuel, but at the same time wouldn't test liftoff accoustics.

A hop to verify landing performance would be one option.

Or, it could be that, due to BFS (and possibly F9) testing, they consider landing to be 'solved' and just go right for an orbital launch with a first full test of BFS in a nominal max downmass reentry configuration.

The statements made so far are somewhat ambiguous..

I would be moderately surprised at a landing at the takeoff pad, if for no other reason than possible pad problems in the worst case.

Unless the considered worst case is such that it can't delay a second launch, due to production cadences.
« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 04:16 PM by speedevil »

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #7 on: 11/07/2017 04:36 PM »
I'm still not 100% convinced of the launch mount landing feasibility, and I'm absolutely convinced that it will need to be tested first somewhere that is NOT your as-yet-only BFR launch pad.

A large ASDS could easily be built with a "launch mount simulator" constructed on its deck.  Fly the BFR up to expected separation dynamics, then run it through a few downrange landings onto such a test drone ship.  If the rocket gently nudges itself safely into the launch mount simulator a few times without demonstrating new and interesting methods of achieving an RUD, then *maybe* you can take the risk of landing it back at the launch pad for the first time.

In the meantime, if you *do* invent some new and interesting methods of achieving an RUD with the launch mount landing method, you're not destroying your *only* launch pad with each failure.

I would be incredibly surprised if the first recovered BFR landed back on the same mounts it launched from.  I'd say that, right now, it's 50-50 whether or not the BFR eventually lands on its launch mounts, or ends up with deployable-retractable legs and lands on a landing pad right next to the launch pad, from which it can be conveniently craned right back onto its launch mounts.  Sort of how they first showed the BFS landing next to the launch pad and being craned directly from landing pad onto the top of the BFR.  Just have the same crane reach over to one of two adjacent landing pads.

If that's the case, SpaceX launch pads are going to gain a new look, spouting landing pad "ears" adjacent to the launch structures.  Sounds kinds of 21st-century, to me... :)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Helodriver

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #8 on: 11/07/2017 04:45 PM »
Components may be tested in multiple places, but operationally it will fly from 39A first. Too much infrastructure already in place there to ignore.

Online cppetrie

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #9 on: 11/07/2017 04:49 PM »
Far easier to build test launch/landing mount on land at a remote landing zone. Then you donít have to deal with moving landing cradle and moving landing rocket. Just the moving landing rocket.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #10 on: 11/07/2017 04:50 PM »
* The first vehicle will be the BFS for suborbital hops. There are multiple quotes on this.
* Strong hints that this will happen from Boca Chica.
* The BFS standalone is smaller than FH and might fly partially empty. Permits will be much easier than for full BFR.

My bet is that Boca Chica pad will be built for methane and existing pads will remain RP1-only, this saves a bunch of cost and complexity.

Online Lar

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #11 on: 11/07/2017 04:51 PM »
Components may be tested in multiple places, but operationally it will fly from 39A first. Too much infrastructure already in place there to ignore.
Maybe. There's a lot of intrastructure NOT there yet like methane lines. Previous posts (I think in L2) at the time of 12M BFR showed some possible arrangments, you need two HIF, different flame deflectors, launch and landing mounts[1] etc. Not insurmountable[1] but 39A is not BFR ready by any means...

1 - what I did there... see it?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online nacnud

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #12 on: 11/07/2017 04:55 PM »
Seems like this thread could do with a poll...

My thoughts,

BFR and BFS build in LA probably in new facilities but a lot of development work in Hawthorn.
BFR and BFS fight tests in BC
Operational first in BC then replacing F9 on the coasts.
« Last Edit: 11/18/2017 11:36 AM by nacnud »

Offline leetdan

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #13 on: 11/07/2017 05:06 PM »
Wouldn't 39B be on the table?  If not, is Methane the dealbreaker?

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #14 on: 11/07/2017 05:07 PM »
Basically Elon said it would be built in their Hawthorne facility. A very short time later Gwynne Shotwell said it will be built near a port for transport reason.

My best guess, they are both right. The ordered tooling will be installed in a newly rented space in Hawthorne to build the first few prototypes, accepting the high transport cost and taking full advantage of the local workforce colocation. Starting directly with the new seaside facility would delay work by a year or more. I don't think Elon is willing to accept that.

Production will be moved out to the new facility once it becomes available which will take some time. By then the most engineering intensive part of propulsion development will be done. Production will suffer less from distance.

Online nacnud

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #15 on: 11/07/2017 05:12 PM »
Guckyfan, that's what I think too. Alot of sub assemblies could also be built in hawthorn and easily move to the integration facility, think raptors and BFS cabins.

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #16 on: 11/07/2017 05:14 PM »
Wouldn't 39B be on the table?  If not, is Methane the dealbreaker?

Not available in a short enough time period (next year onwards), maybe in the medium term.

Offline philw1776

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #17 on: 11/07/2017 05:18 PM »
Basically Elon said it would be built in their Hawthorne facility. A very short time later Gwynne Shotwell said it will be built near a port for transport reason.

My best guess, they are both right. The ordered tooling will be installed in a newly rented space in Hawthorne to build the first few prototypes, accepting the high transport cost and taking full advantage of the local workforce colocation. Starting directly with the new seaside facility would delay work by a year or more. I don't think Elon is willing to accept that.

Production will be moved out to the new facility once it becomes available which will take some time. By then the most engineering intensive part of propulsion development will be done. Production will suffer less from distance.

I see everything except the airframe and the google-web engine assembly built in Hawthorne.  Final assembly with 9 meter components a half hour or more away at the dockside wherever.  No road transport.  Inconvenient but doable for the engineers who during final assembly commute to a different work site but not terribly far away.
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Offline Lobo

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #18 on: 11/07/2017 09:24 PM »
Components may be tested in multiple places, but operationally it will fly from 39A first. Too much infrastructure already in place there to ignore.

I agree with Helodriver.

It will launch first from 39A, IMO.
I think Boca Chica is a backup plan, but I think the main goal is to procure 39B once they get something flying off 39A, and to push along the cancellation of SLS.  I have a hunch they feel pretty confident that's the way things will fall into place, as NASA would almost assuredly work out a partnership with SpaceX to have astronauts on the first missions to the Moon and later Mars..even if SLS weren't officially cancelled yet.  And NASA would much rather their astros lauching form their launch site, not Texas.
But...nothing's ever guaranteed.  So I think if those plans don't work out, they'll have a backup plan of a way to use Boca Chica for it.  But I just can't see that being what they are hoping for.  As Helodriver said, they'd just have to add too much new vs. KSC.  They'll probably have to work out a way with off shore launches if they can't get a sufficient enough EIS and exclusion areas around a ground launch site.

So I think Boca Chica is a backup plan, but also a poker chip to pull out to apply pressure to the Space Coast to work with them rather than loose possibly an American HSF program going to the Moon and Mars to Texas.
The Dual use 39A will be mainly for testing and learning BFR, with those lessons learned going into 39B modifications for a more streamlined pad layout.  Eventually Falcon operations would probably end at 39A and it'll get an upgrade to make it a sole use pad for BFR, with FH being retired and replaced by BFR for those occasional big payloads.    With LC-40 being used for East Coast launches as BFR is phased in more and more for those payloads. 

There's a few transitional issue that would need to be worked out.  Some USAF/DoD payloads would require vertical integration (if SpaceX still wants to compete for those), and crews on Dragon 2 would need an access tower, as long as they were under commercial crew contract.  Those would be at dual use 39A first, but would need to be added to LC-40 to transition.   Not quite sure what'd be involved with doing that.

Once 39B and additional KSC facilities are secured for lease, then I'd expect BFR production to be moved from Hawthorne to KSC, with Hawthorne only being used for the first few test vehicles, due to it's complicated logistics of getting stages from there to the Cape.  And full scale production and operations to begin in earnest from KSC using both pads for it.



« Last Edit: 11/07/2017 09:27 PM by Lobo »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Where will BFR launch from first? and When will that be?
« Reply #19 on: 11/07/2017 09:38 PM »
Basically Elon said it would be built in their Hawthorne facility. A very short time later Gwynne Shotwell said it will be built near a port for transport reason.

My best guess, they are both right. The ordered tooling will be installed in a newly rented space in Hawthorne to build the first few prototypes, accepting the high transport cost and taking full advantage of the local workforce colocation. Starting directly with the new seaside facility would delay work by a year or more. I don't think Elon is willing to accept that.

Production will be moved out to the new facility once it becomes available which will take some time. By then the most engineering intensive part of propulsion development will be done. Production will suffer less from distance.
Agreed, to dovetail on my post above, this is my thought too.  The first few test vehicles will be made in Hawthorne and they'll just deal with the transportation issues.  But once they either get a least for pad 39B and KSC facilities, or fall back on Boca Chica as backup, they'll then move production to a location condusive to whichever of those locations ends up being the final.  But as Guckfan says, they don't want to delay, so they'll start in Hawthorne.  The fast they can get something built and flying off 39A, the fast SLS would likely be cancelled and the faster they can get KSC leases and get their long term plans moving forward.

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