Author Topic: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?  (Read 8922 times)

Offline colbourne

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 Falcon Heavy sounds like a bit of a dead end. There seems to be a problem with balancing the boosters. If as is quite likely the first launch is unsuccessful what is to be gained from continuing development ?



Offline Semmel

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #1 on: 10/04/2017 01:43 pm »
If F9 first stage production is shut down in favor of BFR assembly, every expendable F9 launch will reduce the number of boosters available for the transition time. FH guarantees that no F9 first stages are wasted except for launch or landing failures. So in a way, FH helps to transition to BFR more rapidly. This is in my opinion the primary reason FH did not got cancelled.

@edit: This is also the answer to the question I posted here some month ago. Somehow BFR was smelling ahead there already.
Why does SpaceX not cancel FH? Too much invested already? They didnt follow that fallacy in the past. Do they need FH for LEO performance? If so, for what? The only thing that I can come up with at moment is: Tourists around the Moon and some DOD flights. Is that enough to justify FH financially? Someone smarter than me will have to answer that. Is it enough to justify FH emotionally? Maybe. If it starts flying tourists around the Moon, this could have a very positive effect politically. Is this enough to justify FH? Dont know. Hmm...
« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 01:47 pm by Semmel »

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #2 on: 10/04/2017 01:51 pm »
Yes. Falcon Heavy is almost done and greatly increases the capabilities of the Falcon 9 line while the BFR won't be available for several more years.

A bigger payload capacity can win airforce contracts and allow reuse on more heavy GTO missions. Switching from F9 expendable to FH reusable requires that each core flies more than 3 times but this is already included in the goals for Block 5.

Maybe if the first flight fails and it is is traced to severe design flaws that take a huge amount of further effort to correct? But that seems very unlikely.

Offline ZachF

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #3 on: 10/04/2017 02:24 pm »
I honestly think this (or some reason that rhymes with it) is why Falcon Heavy has taken so long.

While "It was harder than we thought" may be one of the reasons I do not think it is the top one.
Falcon Heavy doesn't have a upper stage or payload fairing that can really take advantage of it's performance.
It's much more complicated logistically than Falcon 9.
There really aren't many payloads that need it.
Every time they upgrade Falcon 9 they need to apply that to FH, and every upgrade of F9 takes away the need for FH (The performance numbers for F9 are pretty close to the original FH)
Falcon upgrades, reusability, Dragon 2, are all higher R&D priorities than FH.
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Offline Dave G

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #4 on: 10/04/2017 02:37 pm »
FH guarantees that no F9 first stages are wasted except for launch or landing failures.

Exactly.

Musk said Falcon Heavy can launch satellites up to 7 tonnes to GTO with full reusability of the all three boost stages:
http://aviationweek.com/blog/falcon-9-performance-mid-size-geo

As I understand it, 7 tonnes to GTO covers the entire satelite market.

So with FHR, they will no longer need expendable launches, unless it's BEO.

Offline Ludus

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #5 on: 10/04/2017 03:40 pm »
When F9 Block 5 is finally stable is when FH makes sense. As others have commented itís what allows reusable cores to cover the whole market, so it still has a real function. The pivot to BFR doesnít change that F9 and FH will still be flying for many years and will be paying for BFR.

Offline jpo234

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #6 on: 10/04/2017 03:50 pm »


The pivot to BFR doesnít change that F9 and FH will still be flying for many years and will be paying for BFR.

For certain values of "many".
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Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #7 on: 10/04/2017 04:00 pm »
FH more or less exists right now. BFR does not. It is worth continuing to produce and use until BFR is working because nothing else fills that roll otherwise.

With that being said, there do not appear to be too many payloads for it.
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Online GalacticIntruder

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #8 on: 10/04/2017 04:03 pm »
No. Assuming in the next six months FH actually flies successfully and the data looks good for paying customers, SpaceX should not spend anymore resources trying to improve or perfect the vehicle.
« Last Edit: 10/04/2017 07:12 pm by GalacticIntruder »
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Offline redliox

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #9 on: 10/04/2017 04:18 pm »
FH more or less exists right now. BFR does not. It is worth continuing to produce and use until BFR is working because nothing else fills that roll otherwise.

Makes enough sense to me.  The components exist, and even the SLS (especially the Block 1B phase of it) parts are still incomplete.  We just need to see how a trio of Falcon 9 boosters can fly.

With that being said, there do not appear to be too many payloads for it.

Same could be said for the SLS or the Armstrong.  It's always a chicken-and-the-egg game: no one will build something without the other something, in this case payloads/rockets.  However, it's undeniable that SpaceX and Falcon 9 has been catching eyes.  If the FH succeeds, even if it ends up being a short-lived vehicle, this will encourage clients to create payloads applicable to either FH or BFR.

I believe we'll see a handful of FHs, but I wouldn't expect more than 10 all together.
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Offline hkultala

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #10 on: 10/04/2017 04:23 pm »
FH development is ready, it is ready to fly as soon as the pad is ready.

No need to develop it any more.



(But also: absolutely no sense at all to stop manufacturing/supporting it. BFR is only ready after 5 year or something, and SpaceX has multiple missions in it's manifest that either require FH or that require FH for stage1 reusability)

Offline envy887

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #11 on: 10/04/2017 04:54 pm »
Same could be said for the SLS or the Armstrong.  It's always a chicken-and-the-egg game: no one will build something without the other something, in this case payloads/rockets.  However, it's undeniable that SpaceX and Falcon 9 has been catching eyes.  If the FH succeeds, even if it ends up being a short-lived vehicle, this will encourage clients to create payloads applicable to either FH or BFR.

I believe we'll see a handful of FHs, but I wouldn't expect more than 10 all together.

"Payloads for FH" are just 7 to 10 tonne GTO birds. These also fit nicely on Ariane 64 and on New Glenn, so there will likely be some once the current market saturation subsides.

Online Lars-J

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #12 on: 10/04/2017 05:48 pm »
To the OP's question. Yes. Of course it is worth continuing development, when they are ~99% done. The FH capability is a crucial element in being able to bid for many lucrative DoD contracts, which is what is going to help fund the BFR.

It is a capability they need to have , even if it may not fly as often as originally planned. But now that development is almost done, it is going to cost very little to keep the capability going until BFR is ready to replace it.

Offline bob the martian

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #13 on: 10/04/2017 06:12 pm »

(But also: absolutely no sense at all to stop manufacturing/supporting it. BFR is only ready after 5 year or something, and SpaceX has multiple missions in it's manifest that either require FH or that require FH for stage1 reusability)

SpaceX years are like inverse dog years or something (kind of like the Microsoft minute).  FH was harder than they anticipated, resulting in significant delay, and it wasn't using new/exotic materials or engine cycles like BFR will.  They will hit roadblocks on this new system, so I wouldn't bet real money on that 5 year timeline. 

They'll want to build up a pretty beefy inventory of F9/FH cores and Dragons before completely switching production over to BFR. 

Offline envy887

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #14 on: 10/04/2017 06:57 pm »

(But also: absolutely no sense at all to stop manufacturing/supporting it. BFR is only ready after 5 year or something, and SpaceX has multiple missions in it's manifest that either require FH or that require FH for stage1 reusability)

SpaceX years are like inverse dog years or something (kind of like the Microsoft minute).  FH was harder than they anticipated, resulting in significant delay, and it wasn't using new/exotic materials or engine cycles like BFR will.  They will hit roadblocks on this new system, so I wouldn't bet real money on that 5 year timeline. 

They'll want to build up a pretty beefy inventory of F9/FH cores and Dragons before completely switching production over to BFR.

I'll point this out again: Elon's aspirational goal is to land on Mars in 5 years, meaning BFR has to fly in 2020 or 2021.

Adjust for real time as needed from there, not from 5 years.

Offline GWH

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #15 on: 10/04/2017 07:31 pm »
Falcon Heavy will only help build the business case for BFR - not hinder it.

Currently there is skepticism in the marketplace for 3 things (among many others not mentioned for brevity):
- Reused rockets
- Commodity markets of launch services
- The ability to control 27+ engines

Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 combined are needed to address the first 2. The 3rd is specific to Falcon Heavy.
Regardless if it is harder than a larger single stick rocket that is somewhere off on the horizon it can still expand their capabilities and customer base in the marketplace while further proving out that some of these concepts aren't so far flung and unattainable.

Then there is the added capacity of FH for GEO insertions or escape velocity payloads that F9 can never get to.

Much easier to shift existing customers over to an optional new rocket than to win them over from a powerpoint.

Offline Mader Levap

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #16 on: 10/04/2017 10:18 pm »
Of course it is worth it.

BFR will NOT be done in time SpaceX says it will be done. That was never case for anything SpaceX did (including FH itself). Why it would be different this time? In fact, BFR should be even more challenging than FH. Ergo, multi-year delays.

I expect both F9 and FH serving SpaceX well for decade at least.
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Offline Norm38

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #17 on: 10/12/2017 03:49 am »
Is there any value in a kerlox/hydrolox architecture?  Meaning, would anyone ever want to strap F9 boosters to a big SLS hydrolox tank and have flyback boosters?  Or is it all methalox TSTO from here on out?

Offline Brovane

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #18 on: 10/12/2017 03:57 am »
Falcon Heavy sounds like a bit of a dead end. There seems to be a problem with balancing the boosters. If as is quite likely the first launch is unsuccessful what is to be gained from continuing development ?

Not breaking faith with the USAF.  The FH will enable SpaceX to meet all orbit and payload requirements for USAF contracts. 
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Offline envy887

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Re: Is it worth continuing development of Falcon Heavy ?
« Reply #19 on: 10/12/2017 01:11 pm »
SpaceX Senior Director Tom Ochinero on this topic:

Quote
Do you need a new FH if you are transitioning to BFR?
Weíre building Falcon Heavy and we are going to fly it this year. The hardware has been through testing and almost everything is at the launch site. At this point we are just waiting to clear out the launch manifest on Pad 39A and to start flying Falcon 9s from Pad 40, which will allow us a little time to convert 39A for Falcon Heavy.

Is it a weeks-long conversion of the pad?
Itís a matter of weeks. The hardware is ready, itís a matter of a swap. Because Falcon Heavy is such a big vehicle, we cannot really test all 27 engines on the three cores at our Texas launch site, so the idea is to put it up there on 39A and do a lot of testing before we actually lift.

https://www.spaceintelreport.com/spacex-reassures-commercial-satellite-market-falcon-9-wont-soon-scrapped-bfr/

 

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