Author Topic: Predictions for 2018  (Read 1495 times)

Online Svetoslav

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Predictions for 2018
« on: 11/27/2017 12:53 PM »
Okay, I love predictions and whether they will come true or not. Maybe a little earlier, but starting with my traditional predictions thread. Again, I remind that my comments are only opinions and interpretations about current trends in space exploration.

This time I prefer to err on the side of caution, especially after my debacle last year to predict what was going to happen in 2017.

Here I go again:

1. Smallsat launchers: we'll see more flights from Vector and Electron, perhaps we'll see the debut of Virgin Orbit. We may see a rocket going to orbit between December 2017 and January 2019.

2. SpaceX: Another good year with reusability and frequent rocket launches. Crewed Dragon will be delayed until 2019. Neither Boeing, nor SpaceX will send people to space. Falcon Heavy conducting a successful flight.

3. Virgin Galactic: There will be powered flights in 2018, but they will be less frequent than anticipated (once per three weeks). Manned flight to space (above 80kms, the boundary used in the USA for space) will occur in November 2018 at the earliest, more likely in 2019.

4. Blue Origin: More delays in 2018. Several unmanned tests in summer-autumn period. No manned flight yet.

5. Planetary exploration: Hayabusa and Osiris-REX reaching their asteroid targets. Both take photos. Japan has bad history with interplanetary exploration and rocket engines, and I don't expect things to have improved for Hayabusa - so I predict there could be trouble.  Osiris-ReX is fine. ExoMars-Trace Gas Orbiter starts delivering pictures and data. Another flawless year for Juno.

6. Lunar Exploration. More delays for the Google Lunar Xprize program. We may see a launch attempt in 2018, but I don't believe it will be successful. Landing on the Moon is hard, so I don't believe Chandrayaan-2 will make it to the surface flawlessly too. I'm quite pessimistic here.

7. Russian space : We'll see at least one flight from Vostochny. We'll see a flight test of an Angara rocket, perhaps the lightweight Angara-1.2. 2018 will be the decisive year for the Nauka module and we'll see either another big delay or (possibly) even cancellation.

8. Mars Exploration : InSight will launch and land successfully. NASA has experience, I don't expect nasty surprises here.

9. CubeSats: I expect this part of the industry to continue growing, with more than 200 CubeSats delivered into orbit.

10: Orion and SLS : Even more delays, launch date now firmly in 2020.

Online jebbo

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #1 on: 11/27/2017 01:23 PM »
Wondered if there was a thread for next year.  Anyway, I'm restricting myself to a few areas:

1. Number of orbital launches will exceed 100 for the first time since 1990.

2. SpaceX.
- Will miss their 30 launches target, but will exceed 25.
- FH will launch at least twice, with at least one success.
- Construction at Boca Chica will begin in ernest.
- First Starlink test satellites will launch

3. Blue Origin.
- More progress on BE-4.
- More New Shepard flights.
- Glimpses of new hardware when their factory at the Cape is open.
- Will demonstrate something unexpected and dramatic (like they did with NS)

4. Space science.
- TESS will launch and return 1st science data, with multiple exoplanets (easy win ;) ).
- More interstellar objects like `Oumuamua will be found (algorithms will be tweaked as we now know they exist).
- Another planet will be confirmed around Proxima Centauri (maybe; dependent on HARPS time allocation). Firm launch date for JWST before end Q2 2019.
- In the next observing run of LIGO (late 2018) there will be a 10+ minute alert before a NS/NS merger allowing much better observation of the kilonova.

--- Tony
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 01:26 PM by jebbo »

Offline ZachS09

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #2 on: 11/27/2017 01:24 PM »
Here are my 10 predictions for 2018:

1: SpaceX will launch 29 missions during the year of 2018. All landing attempts are successful.

2: ULA’s last Delta II will fly successfully, giving the rocket 100 consecutive successes since May 1997.

3: ISRO’s Chandrayaan 2 will land successfully on the Moon, but stops transmitting after a few hours due to an unknown problem.

4: The Parker Solar Probe will be delayed into 2019 for whatever reason. Don’t know why I’m thinking this.

5: Blue Origin will continue to make progress, with hardly any delays, as to the development of New Glenn and eventual manned suborbital flights of New Shepard.

6: Orbital ATK’s NGL officially gets its first payload contracts, leading up to the retirement of Minotaur-C (Taurus).

7: Arianespace will launch 12 times during 2018; three of which are Vega, three of which are Soyuz, and the other six being Ariane 5.

8: NASA will do everything they can to change EM-1’s launch date from 2020 to December 2019.

9: Rocket Lab’s Electron mission, if it succeeds on its second test flight, will be certified for future cubesat launches.

10: NASA’s InSight launches successfully (props to Atlas V for its success rate), but fails to stick the landing due to one of its landing engines prematurely shutting down during the descent burn.
"Liftoff of Falcon 9: the world's first reflight of an orbital-class rocket."

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #3 on: 11/27/2017 04:03 PM »
2018 will be the year RLVs really prove themselves as the way to go, so I'm gonna focus on SX first, with what I expect from them in a 'nominal' scenario. I don't like vague predictions, way more fun to try and guess the details:

With F9/FH, the partial reuse era is now mature:
- F9 + FH total 31 successful launches including the in-flight abort test, 1/3 of the overall worldwide attempts   
(>100 for the first time in 30 years);
- FH flies twice;
- Only 1 expendable flight, in Q1;
- Of the 29 F9 missions only 6 fly on a new booster: excluding FHs, only 5 B5 cores will make their maiden flight in 2018 (with the fifth one at the end of the year, only flying once or twice);
- 1st Block 5 flies Q1, DM-1 is the second one produced;
- After DM-1, in April/May, only 2 - 3 flight worthy used non-Block 5 cores remain, which get retired: space x now only flies B5; and has already launched 9-10 missions, 20 F9 left + 1 FH.
- These 20 mission fly on just 4 boosters: the DM-1 booster, the DM-2 booster, another built in between the two, which gets used in parallel with DM-1, and the last built in Q4, which gets used in parallel with DM-2 and only flies 1-2 missions in 2018.
- After its maiden flight, the DM-1 booster gets reused 4 times and is then retired. The DM-2 booster is the fourth overall B5 booster produced, and has its maiden flight in september, taking astronauts to the ISS from the US soil for the first time since 2011™. It also carries 6 of the 8 remaining F9 missions for the year.
- FH successfully launches STP-2 and Arabsat and the second mission to fly sports 3 reused B5 cores from the other one. (No more conversions between F9 boosters and FH side cores).
The takeaway is that almost 20 missions will fly on just 3 boosters in 2018, and that's only going to improve in 2019. SX stops selling expendable F9 boosters, stops discounting reused ones, and only offers 1 commercial price of a little less than 60M$ for 2019 for F9.

BFR/BFS: the era of full reuse is being developed:
-Raptor undergoes its first full-scale test in early 2018;
-SpaceX workforce continues shifting towards BFR and Mars development, with a major shift in the second half of the year: the 2nd FH launch has already occurred, block 5 is flying regularly and Dragon 2 DM-2 and certification are the only 'previous era' projects left.
-Mid to late 2018 SX begins construction of the first BFS, which lacks the heat-shield. The first hops will only occur in 2019 when Raptor is qualified for flight;
-Starlink demo sats get launched early 2018, testing goes well and SX is gearing up for production starting 2H 2018.
-At the 2018 IAC Elon Musk shows the progress SX has made with the BFR program (FS Raptor tests with guidance for production, updates on BFS production facilities and undergoing production, details about the suborbital testing program) and talks about yet another way of exploiting the BFR: orbital and lunar tourism.

-New Glenn production starts at the new CC facility, great progress with the launch/testing facilities;
-The BO landing ship shows up;
-NS launches its first astronaut, a month before SpaceX orbits the first crew;
-ULA downselects BE-4 for Vulcan after full throttle testing early 2018.

-business as usual with their flying vehicles;
-Tory Bruno updates us more and more frequently about Vulcan production hardware;

-Demonstrated reusability is no longer something that can be ignored at an institutional level
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 04:24 PM by AbuSimbel »
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Offline scienceguy

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #4 on: 11/27/2017 05:09 PM »
SpaceX will reach orbit 27 times with Falcon 9, and 2 times with Falcon Heavy.

SpaceX will recover 100% of the first stage boosters that they try to.

There will be a carbon nanotube/graphene production breakthrough. The effects will not be felt right away.

The NASA TESS spacecraft will launch without incident.

The NASA Insight lander will launch after a minor delay.

Mars will make it closest approach to Earth in 15 years, so there will be fake news circulating around Facebook about Mars being as big as a full moon, just like that email from 15 years ago.

An Earth-size planet will be found in the habitable zone of Epsilon Eridani, just 10.5 light years away. The discovery will not be 100% certain, though, as E. Eridani is quite an active star.

SpaceX's circumlunar tourist flight will be delayed till 2019.

SLS and Orion will be canceled, to be replaced by an orbital spaceplane.

Japan's SELENE-2 will launch without incident.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2017 05:33 PM by scienceguy »
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Online jebbo

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #5 on: 11/27/2017 05:14 PM »
Mars will make it closest approach to Earth in 15 years, so there will be fake news circulating around Facebook about Mars being as big as a full moon, just like that email from 15 years ago.

Lol, and I'd bet on another round of "Nibiru" nonsense. Also another discovery that isn't immediately 100% explicable will cause "it's aliens" froth.

--- Tony

Offline Bubbinski

Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #6 on: 12/01/2017 02:15 AM »
Okay here goes....

- the balloon goes up in one of the big geopolitical hotspots and missiles go flying. Military satellites and their handlers “burn the midnight oil” and a few of them are destroyed or damaged. The world is saved from all out destruction in the barest nick of time but hundreds of thousands or even several millions of lives and a few cities are still lost. Space priorities change somewhat and space debris mitigation plus satellite replacements become top priority.

- despite the war, SpaceX gets in 22 F9 and 2 Falcon Heavy launches, all successful. The first Heavy flies in January and its payload delivers quite the “wow” factor that has the public talking. 2 SpaceX flights will be last minute satellite launches ordered up by the Pentagon. The Dragon 2 launches on an un-crewed flight successfully late in the year as does the Starliner, but crewed flights postponed till early 2019 due to delays.

- Blue Origin flies people above the Karman line on New Shepard in the fall. Virgin Galactic also flies above the Karman line with a limited load to prove its space capabilities.

- Stratolaunch makes its first flight and is pressed into service late in the year launching Pegasus rockets to fly a couple of urgently needed satellites, also contracted by the Pentagon to fly outsized cargo.

- Electron, ULA, Orbital ATK, Arianespace all fly (most of) their manifests successfully, though a few payloads are delayed to 2019. China comes back from 2017’s problems, so does India. Russia suffers at least one failure. Japanese program shines as a bright spot for that country with successful military launches.

- ISS makes it through the year crewed and undamaged though with plenty of anxious moments due to debris concerns and world politics. The crew members serve as an inspirational example of international cooperation that is frequently commented on in the media, their impassioned plea for world peace is broadcast worldwide during the worst of the global crisis.

- Insight launches successfully in May and lands safely on Mars too, the landing is cheered on by an American public (and world) in need of something to cheer for, and Osiris-Rex, BepiColombo, Chandrayaan, Chang’e, Hayabusa 2 also make positive headlines and inspire the world, and the Mars rovers and Juno keep on trucking.

- One Lunar X-prize flight launches into space, but the prize award conditions aren’t met.

- Planet 9 is discovered. TESS launches and starts its discoveries. At least one possible Earth-like planet is discovered nearby (less than 20 light years from us), and an exomoon is finally confirmed.

- I finally make it to at least one launch. (TESS, Insight, Dragon, Starliner are possibilities). I also finish at least one space related model. The Lego Space Shuttle in same scale as the Saturn is green lighted and I get one after some difficulty.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline brickmack

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #7 on: 12/01/2017 05:21 AM »
Fun, I think I hit about half my guesses for 2017...

FH flies by the end of January. The first successful Falcon upper stage recovery is performed by June, but no upper stage (maybe components) will be reflown in 2018, probably never (not until BFR). Over 30 total Falcon missions are flown, over half of which are reflights, and Block 3 and 4 are retired. Flight-like Raptor is successfully test fired

SpaceX performs both Dragon 2 demo flights. Boeing will complete the unmanned demo of Starliner, probably not the manned flight. Commercial contracts will be signed using both systems.

SLS and Orion are canceled. Lockheed will propose a commercial version of Orion to compete for lunar Commercial Crew. The cancelation of SLS puts the final nail in the coffin for OrbitalATKs EELV bid. Blue Origin and SpaceX will fight over LC-39B. DSG development continues, but the program is drastically restructured now that its no longer bound to SLS-Orions performance

Blue Origin flies passengers on NS, and rides the hype train to announce their orbital crew vehicle (a propulsively landing lifting body). Full-scale ground test articles for New Glenn are built, and manufacturing of flight hardware begins.

ULA and Arianespace both admit the futility of their current "next gen" vehicles, and drastically redesign them (in ULAs case, requiring a relaxation of RD-180 imports as Vulcan is delayed by at least a year). Atlas V and Ariane 5 receive upgrade plans to bridge the gap. Vega evolution concepts beyond Vega C are terminated. ACES development continues

Electron has a successful orbital flight, and manages an average cadence of 1 per month, approaching twice a month by the end of the year. A reusable derivative is announced. LauncherOne has a successful orbital flight. Firefly makes progress. Vector fizzles, as do most other smallsat launchers

Nauka, again, fails to be delivered on schedule. Roscosmos formally cancels the program, and realigns to replace it with an NEM-derived module, which will hopefully fly eventually

Hubble will experience a critical equipment failure. NASA begins formal planning (likely an RFP for a commercial solution) for either a deorbit or a repair mission

Online Svetoslav

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #8 on: 12/05/2017 10:12 AM »
More predictions please ;) I am reading the thread actively and I'm a little disappointed it's less active than previous years ;)

Online EgorBotts

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Re: Predictions for 2018
« Reply #9 on: 12/05/2017 10:19 AM »
I think it's not, and I'll participate as last year, but if I may, you started it rather early (usually it's in the mid-december range).