NASASpaceFlight.com Forum

SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX General Section => Topic started by: meekGee on 03/05/2017 01:49 AM

Title: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: meekGee on 03/05/2017 01:49 AM
SpaceX has stated that Block 5 will be "the final version" of F9, and clearly SpaceX wants to move on to the BFR.

There were comments (from Spacex) about a new leg design, changes for rapid reusability, an update to the Merlin engines to address known issues, and I believe a thrust increase.

What we don't know is what they're planning to include with F9B5

Will F9B5 have features that will help with BFR development (e.g. an option for cradle landing?)
Will there be provisions for barge fly-back? (as per an isolated comment from Musk a while back?)

Also in-scope: FHB5

Stay tuned!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/05/2017 01:51 AM
I think that Block 4 and 5 will enable almost all LEO missions to RTLS
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/05/2017 02:24 AM
I don't really get the need for this thread, there are already threads where this has been discussed.  Also based on the first two posts it seems to be for rampant speculation, not updates.  Landing cradles and barge flyback of Block 5, really?  You seriously think that might happen?  RTLS of GTO missions?  This is Block 5 of Falcon 9, not ITS.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/05/2017 02:52 AM
I don't really get the need for this thread, there are already threads where this has been discussed.  Also based on the first two posts it seems to be for rampant speculation, not updates.  Landing cradles and barge flyback of Block 5, really?  You seriously think that might happen?  RTLS of GTO missions?  This is Block 5 of Falcon 9, not ITS.

The topic was being brought up in other threads (e.g. the barge thread) so I gave it a place of its own.

And yes - it includes speculation, as stated in the title.  We don't know, but there are opinions, so why not?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: enzo on 03/05/2017 10:22 PM
It appears it will incorporate all of the changes that both NASA and that DOD will require for their contracts
No, it will incorporate mostly the changes that Spacex requires for an efficient flight rate.  NASA and DOD changes are secondary.
Secondary as in transcending block numbers but in the process of being implemented, or secondary as in a small team of design engineers will remain and continue tweaking?
I am confused— how can Block 5 not meet the spec of future customers, yet the design is being frozen and the team reassigned?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/06/2017 02:06 PM
I think that Block 4 and 5 will enable almost all LEO missions to RTLS
Before you speculate Block 5 will bring this, please show us a single LEO mission that can't RTLS with block 4. I think you'll find that all LEO missions can RTLS without block 5.

I'll then speculate that even block 5 isn't going to bring RTLS on any GTO/MEO mission.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/06/2017 02:27 PM
Without a tank stretch, and with the same ISP, the total impulse will be the same.

Improvements can be a result of higher thrust, or of reduced structural mass.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/06/2017 02:45 PM
Without a tank stretch, and with the same ISP, the total impulse will be the same.

Improvements can be a result of higher thrust, or of reduced structural mass.

Isp should go up about 1% at SL with a 12% thrust increase due to higher chamber pressure. Since a substantial fraction of the booster's fuel is burned in the atmosphere, that will improve the total impulse slightly.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/06/2017 02:52 PM
I think that Block 4 and 5 will enable almost all LEO missions to RTLS
Before you speculate Block 5 will bring this, please show us a single LEO mission that can't RTLS with block 4. I think you'll find that all LEO missions can RTLS without block 5.

It's actually not clear yet whether Iridium missions can RTLS, they are heavier and to a higher orbit than the current Dragon missions. 
(I somehow missed the "LEO" part of Ian's post.)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/06/2017 03:01 PM
So whats the current speculation of reusability improvements in block 5?
1. I remember something about restarting for final burn having problems because of heating from hot reentry causing bubbles and Hans commented they had a fix for that.
2. Any changes to legs. Easier to remove or fold.
3. ....
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/06/2017 03:02 PM
I think that Block 4 and 5 will enable almost all LEO missions to RTLS
Before you speculate Block 5 will bring this, please show us a single LEO mission that can't RTLS with block 4. I think you'll find that all LEO missions can RTLS without block 5.

It's actually not clear yet whether Iridium missions can RTLS, they are heavier and to a higher orbit than the current Dragon missions. 
(I somehow missed the "LEO" part of Ian's post.)

Per https://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov F9 FT (block 3?) can RTLS and put 8380 kg to 625km circular @90 degrees. Iridium goes to 86.4 degrees, so that will add ~100 kg, but 10 birds and a dispenser mass 9600 kg - so no RTLS with the current version.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 03/06/2017 04:48 PM
...

What we don't know is what they're planning to include with F9B5

Will F9B5 have features that will help with BFR development (e.g. an option for cradle landing?)
Will there be provisions for barge fly-back? (as per an isolated comment from Musk a while back?)

Also in-scope: FHB5

Stay tuned!
1. I doubt there will be experiments for cradle landing for F9 at all.  But if there are, I see them being done with one off, highly modified rockets. I don't see them modifying their whole design and production around them.
2. Same for fly back. The amount of infrastructure required on the barge is the long poll and I just don't see it being a priority.

I especially don't see them holding up Block 5 for these when they need to get in a bunch of Block 5 flights before they start carrying humans.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/06/2017 04:55 PM
...

What we don't know is what they're planning to include with F9B5

Will F9B5 have features that will help with BFR development (e.g. an option for cradle landing?)
Will there be provisions for barge fly-back? (as per an isolated comment from Musk a while back?)

Also in-scope: FHB5

Stay tuned!
1. I doubt there will be experiments for cradle landing for F9 at all.  But if there are, I see them being done with one off, highly modified rockets. I don't see them modifying their whole design and production around them.
2. Same for fly back. The amount of infrastructure required on the barge is the long poll and I just don't see it being a priority.

I especially don't see them holding up Block 5 for these when they need to get in a bunch of Block 5 flights before they start carrying humans.

Before Semmel's observation, I was of the same opinion - that we might (might!) see F9 cradle landing as an isolated test towards BFR, sone on a land-based cradle, and that's that.

Semmel made a good connection in that barge fly-back, which presented so many difficulties when thought through, would become a lot easier if there was cradle landing there.

But cradle landing on a barge is even more difficult, for a number of reasons.

The priority for B5 is without a doubt to a) stabilize a working revision, b) streamline the reusability process, c) increase performance (maybe).   "Trying something new" is not on the list.

------------

That said, B5 can follow the F9 1.1 model.   Remember the big argument of whether F9 1.1 would have reusability hardware in it?

What happened was that when it was rolled out, the avionics was ready, the design was there, but legs and grid fins were only added a few flights later.

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2017 05:08 PM

That said, B5 can follow the F9 1.1 model.   

No, it can't.  Because hardware added after Block 5 would negate the certification. 
They are not going to scar vehicle for future mods.  That is the whole point of Block 5.  They will be done with development on Falcon 9 and only other future mods will be to fix problems and not to add a capability. 


I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights.....


I can and that is not an opinion.  Spacex has said they are done with F9 development after Block 5 on multiple occasions to multiple people.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 03/06/2017 05:13 PM
...
Will F9B5 have features that will help with BFR development (e.g. an option for cradle landing?)
...
1. I doubt there will be experiments for cradle landing for F9 at all.  But if there are, I see them being done with one off, highly modified rockets. I don't see them modifying their whole design and production around them.
...
...
That said, B5 can follow the F9 1.1 model.   Remember the big argument of whether F9 1.1 would have reusability hardware in it?

What happened was that when it was rolled out, the avionics was ready, the design was there, but legs and grid fins were only added a few flights later.

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.
I get your point re: F9 1.1 and SpaceX iterative approach.

Room for the thrusters in the design is actually a prime example of what I don't think will be in B5.  I believe they are now maximizing for robust performance based on all the lessons learned.  Leaving room to install thrusters that are not yet designed strikes me as unlikely.

They'd either have to "get it right" upfront  as to the location and space requirements for the thruster (and therefore already have at least a rough design.)  Or they would have to keep tweaking the design for the lessons learned modifications.

I could be wrong. SpaceX always surprises me, but I guess I'm drinking the "B5 is the final F9 Kool-Aid."  To be clear, I am not saying that B5 will be the final F9 design. Just that I believe the story that SpaceX wants B5 to be the final design.

Anyway, I think that's all I've got on the topic and it's based entirely on headcanon.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: John Alan on 03/06/2017 06:30 PM
I still have this thought... I can't shake on B5...  :P
Speculation and my opinion... repeating my earlier thought from weeks ago...  ;)

Stretch S2 tanks about 5 foot (my WAG)...
...And shrink S1 tanks the same amount...
Rocket overall length stays exactly the same...

Purposes...
* Get more Lox/Rp1 over the S2 Mvac... for an Isp improvement of the whole system...
* Stage slightly lower and slower to improve recovery conditions for S1...

The 5 foot number is again my made up wild ass guess to show it's a small but maybe important amount...
Not 2%... not 25%... somewhere in between... the amount of rebalance on fluids...

Point is... make S2 do more of the work and bring S1 back a bit...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2017 06:44 PM
I still have this thought... I can't shake on B5...  :P
Speculation and my opinion... repeating my earlier thought from weeks ago...  ;)


B5 is not going to change tank sizes.  They have already fixed the TEL to the current vehicle  And the change in tank sizes would negate any certification work again.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/06/2017 09:00 PM
I still have this thought... I can't shake on B5...  :P
Speculation and my opinion... repeating my earlier thought from weeks ago...  ;)


B5 is not going to change tank sizes.  They have already fixed the TEL to the current vehicle  And the change in tank sizes would negate any certification work again.

Wouldn't a change in engine power also negate any certification work? Or is that already happening on Blk 4?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IRobot on 03/06/2017 09:54 PM
Unsure, if it is just rating the engine to a higher thrust level without any hardware modification.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Req on 03/06/2017 11:57 PM
It has been mentioned that the new turbine blades will be a part of Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/07/2017 02:50 AM
SpaceX needs to juggle two competing drives.

First, get F9B5 going already - stable, cheap to turn around, capable - in order to take advantage of the lead they currently have.

Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).  It would be negligent on SpaceX's part to assume that a second comer, with all the benefits of hindsight, won't be a better rocket than the current F9/FH system.  (Better means lower cost, easier to reuse, perhaps a reusable second stage, etc).

I do not know how they intend to compete with NG.  With upgrades to F9/FH, or by finding ways to use BFR.

But while IMO they can ignore the competitive thread from the forthcoming "expendable+" rockets, they can't just assume that BO won't compete with them directly.

I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/07/2017 03:40 AM
SpaceX needs to juggle two competing drives.

First, get F9B5 going already - stable, cheap to turn around, capable - in order to take advantage of the lead they currently have.

Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).  It would be negligent on SpaceX's part to assume that a second comer, with all the benefits of hindsight, won't be a better rocket than the current F9/FH system.  (Better means lower cost, easier to reuse, perhaps a reusable second stage, etc).

I do not know how they intend to compete with NG.  With upgrades to F9/FH, or by finding ways to use BFR.

But while IMO they can ignore the competitive thread from the forthcoming "expendable+" rockets, they can't just assume that BO won't compete with them directly.

I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.

I think you're looking to far down the road.

SpaceX needs to launch payloads, whether it's with the FT or Block5.  Build, fly, finally deliver on the long promised flight rate.

Secondly, I just finished Musk's biography, I doubt he gives BO much of a thought.  They have their plan and a multi year lead.  BO is 3 years at best from launching an orbital vehicle. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: GWH on 03/07/2017 04:06 AM
Second, they need to get ready to compete with whatever it is BO is gong to field (NG).   directly.

What they will be cometing against with Blue Origin is a company that has never launched orbital before, will be highly dependent on "nailing" reuse, and of course need to achive a launch cadence similar to what SpaceX had been trying for over the past 4 years.  Not to disparage BO but they will be starting 3 years min from now and whatever streamlining of operations Spacex makes.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/07/2017 04:36 AM
I agree with both assessments.  BO is at least 3 years from orbiting a rocket, and BO, unlike SpaceX, is a "lab company". It's operated with zero income and zero operational requirements.  Basically a funded-as-needed research project.

Still though.  SpaceX should capitalize on the lead that it has, but not assume that BO will fail to catch up.  ULA and Ariane did that and are consequently stuck on dead-end paths they can't pull out of - essentially hoping that SpaceX (and BO) will fail.

SpaceX should assume that BO will be successful with NG, and that NG will be a well thought out methane rocket. If it doesn't happen, from SpaceX's POV, even better.

BO has an incentive to succeed. They can be the only game in town for launching constellations other than CommX, and the other constellation planners do not stand a chance competing with SpaceX without a reusable rocket, since SpaceX will have far lower launch costs.

So BO doesn't have to field its own constellation - just cater to the other ones.  And Bezos can't possibly miss this observation.

Now NG is a bit large for the job, but if built well, it will have low turn-around costs, and they can use the extra size to enable second stage reuse, for example.

So for sure, SpaceX has to first and foremost get B5 flying ASAP and making money - but it'd be hugely ironic if they make the same mistakes Old Space made.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: su27k on 03/07/2017 04:40 AM
Instead of out-there upgrades like flyback from barge, I'm more interested in "mundane" changes, like:
1. Will fairing reuse be included in Block 5? I assume if there is some sort of certification it will have to cover the fairing too? This doesn't give them a lot of time to mature fairing reuse before Block 5's planned rollout date.
2. Will they be able to include some sort of permanent fix for the dreaded COPV in subcooled LOX issue?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/07/2017 05:54 AM
The estimate I saw for New Glenn's payload capability was between 35-70 tons to LEO. Falcon Heavy sits pretty much in the middle part of that range, and that's before Block 5 comes online, which may push it even higher.

And by the time New Glenn comes online, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy will have years of flight experience behind them. It seems to me that Falcon Heavy will be able to compete pretty well with New Glenn until ITS comes online in the mid 2020's. And at that point the game changes completely, as ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/07/2017 06:15 AM
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

Ok if something like CISLunar1000 took off then maybe there will be demand for large payloads to the moon and/or space stations. But that's rather OT.

It seems at the moment that SpaceX think F9 B5 and FH will cover likely demands for years.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/07/2017 06:56 AM
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

If their cost estimates are anywhere near realistic, they can compete with launch cost of the Electron Small Sat launcher on a per launch basis, not by weight only.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/07/2017 07:16 AM
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

Ok if something like CISLunar1000 took off then maybe there will be demand for large payloads to the moon and/or space stations. But that's rather OT.

It seems at the moment that SpaceX think F9 B5 and FH will cover likely demands for years.

Well they did show ITS all over the solar system....  And purposely changed its name (ITS's?  ITS'?) from MCT.

IMO short trips to NEO objects and long trips to belt asteroids will be a thing - purchased by interested parties - and won't require the kind of changes that trips to the outer solar system will require.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/07/2017 07:34 AM
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

If their cost estimates are anywhere near realistic, they can compete with launch cost of the Electron Small Sat launcher on a per launch basis, not by weight only.

You raise a valid point, which is whether SpaceX has a long term replacement in mind for Falcon 9 to cater for smaller payloads once ITS is online. Could a fully Raptor based F9 sized rocket eventually be the answer to full reusability in the small to medium payload range? With ITS catering for the super heavy weight payloads?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: First Mate Rummey on 03/07/2017 07:59 AM
The estimate I saw for New Glenn's payload capability was between 35-70 tons to LEO. Falcon Heavy sits pretty much in the middle part of that range, and that's before Block 5 comes online, which may push it even higher.

The specs currently published on spacex website are already referring to the Block 5 version.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 03/07/2017 09:32 AM

That said, B5 can follow the F9 1.1 model.   

No, it can't.  Because hardware added after Block 5 would negate the certification. 
They are not going to scar vehicle for future mods.  That is the whole point of Block 5.  They will be done with development on Falcon 9 and only other future mods will be to fix problems and not to add a capability. 


I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights.....


I can and that is not an opinion.  Spacex has said they are done with F9 development after Block 5 on multiple occasions to multiple people.

Didnt you say that every launch vehicle of ULA always have minor changes and improvements over the last? I dont remember exactly where you said it but it stuck with me somehow.

Also, how do you know that a cradle landing requires certifiable changes to the upcoming F9B5? What in your opinion needs to be changed?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 03/07/2017 09:43 AM
Before Semmel's observation, I was of the same opinion - that we might (might!) see F9 cradle landing as an isolated test towards BFR, sone on a land-based cradle, and that's that.

Semmel made a good connection in that barge fly-back, which presented so many difficulties when thought through, would become a lot easier if there was cradle landing there.

[...]

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.

Please dont forget that I made my observation on the assumption that SpaceX wants to develop Barge flyback. Which is a big assumption.

The question for me currently is: what is the reason for the current uncertainty in F9 landing position? It is fantastically accurate but for a cradle landing it has to improve. Is it actually flying F9 to the accuracy required? Or is it knowing the location relative to the ground that is the limiting factor? Do we have any information on that?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/07/2017 12:14 PM
Also, how do you know that a cradle landing requires certifiable changes to the upcoming F9B5?

There is no such thing
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/07/2017 12:29 PM
I don't even know if SpaceX has that plan ironed out, but if I were them, I'd leave enough design space in F9/FH to at least allow for a path forward.

Thinking too much like this has killed many projects in many industries.  The Falcon design is fairly mature at this point.  If it can't meet their future needs then it would make more sense to design another vehicle in the future instead of screwing up their current vehicle.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/07/2017 01:26 PM
They never said it is only for Mars. They said they will not make any design compromises for other goals. Adding means to deploy satellites will not break the bank.

FWIW Gwynne Shotwell did say Mars only in one of her Space Show appearances. She was saying that they didn't see a market for BFR/MCT (as was) beyond Mars. I distinctly remember because she was answering my question!

Clearly things have moved on in terms of potential ITS use for solar system exploration etc. But I'm not sure SpaceX are expecting other customers. Of course if the market changes, CISLunar1000?, they'll respond.

Sorry, OT - will be quiet now :)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/07/2017 02:09 PM
All SpaceX really needs to do is fly every 2 or 3 weeks for 12 months and show they can manage that flight rate.

They have a lot of other non-booster capabilities to develop first.  Dragon 2, Brownsville Launch pad, vertical integration, FH at VAFB (if ever needed), space suits, design, build, deploy and manage the largest satellite constellation every.  Just a couple things.

I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

Edit: And build crew access and egress at LC39A.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: punder on 03/07/2017 02:14 PM
I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

If Elon Musk isn't ignoring it, maybe we shouldn't either.

Whaddaya know, I'm a fanboi!!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/07/2017 02:41 PM
Before Semmel's observation, I was of the same opinion - that we might (might!) see F9 cradle landing as an isolated test towards BFR, sone on a land-based cradle, and that's that.

Semmel made a good connection in that barge fly-back, which presented so many difficulties when thought through, would become a lot easier if there was cradle landing there.

[...]

I can't rule out that legless/cradle flights are "designed in", but that the bottom-side thrusters are not even designed yet, just anticipated in the design.

Please dont forget that I made my observation on the assumption that SpaceX wants to develop Barge flyback. Which is a big assumption.

The question for me currently is: what is the reason for the current uncertainty in F9 landing position? It is fantastically accurate but for a cradle landing it has to improve. Is it actually flying F9 to the accuracy required? Or is it knowing the location relative to the ground that is the limiting factor? Do we have any information on that?
Yes, always taken as such.  This is just a discussion, not trying to make prediction.

I said above, barge cradle landing will require adding homing (in x-y), but to the landing algorithm, it's the same thing. (Replacing the gps-based error term with an error term provided by the homing sensor, whatever it is)

The only motivation would be if the barge can't retrieve the stages fast enough, and adding another barge is "too much"

The motivation for land barge  landing would be limited trials ahead of BFR,  if they add value. 

I'm not sure about certification, since Atlas and Delta are not certified per each configuration of SRBs, right?

But anyway, any legless flights won't interfere with certification of flights that fly with legs.

NG can be ignored for now, I agree, in the sense that "there's no rush."  But it doesn't hurt to keep options open for later.

But don't be surprised if it becomes a real competitor with all the advantages of a "clean build" and a second comer, and with real customers.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: alang on 03/07/2017 03:13 PM
All SpaceX really needs to do is fly every 2 or 3 weeks for 12 months and show they can manage that flight rate.

They have a lot of other non-booster capabilities to develop first.  Dragon 2, Brownsville Launch pad, vertical integration, FH at VAFB (if ever needed), space suits, design, build, deploy and manage the largest satellite constellation every.  Just a couple things.

I'm going to ignore ITS because I think it's a ridiculous idea and at least 10 years from being a real thing.

Edit: And build crew access and egress at LC39A.

A lot of the things you discuss don't overlap except that they all need money.
As others have said, it is unlikely that Musk cares where the money comes from in order to achieve his goals and that includes, the government, 'tourism' and money he might make in his other ventures that we're not allowed to talk about on this site.
The situation keeps changing and in three years time he could be out of business and starting from scratch or having money to burn on ITS.
Even if he goes out of business he has changed the game - witness the behaviour of Tory Bruno on social media who has clearly bought into the benefits of creating a public following for a vision.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/07/2017 03:17 PM

I'm not sure about certification, since Atlas and Delta are not certified per each configuration of SRBs, right?

Yes, they are
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/07/2017 03:26 PM

But anyway, any legless flights won't interfere with certification of flights that fly with legs.


Yes, it does because they are going to be flying two different cores.  That is the whole point of Block 5.  To stop wholesale changes and settle down to a configuration that they can produce "like sausages".  The problem with playing with the design is that it prevents them from achieving the flight rate they want.

Here is everything against cradle testing
1.  Block 5
2.  Move engineers to ITS
3.  Flight rate desires
4.  lack of need for F9
5.  This is a weak one (they could use GH2 and lift off and land right back on a cradle)  No need to do it from a launch trajectory. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: StuffOfInterest on 03/08/2017 12:39 PM
I'll give another reason why I don't think you will see cradle landing with F9, thrust to weight.  The F9 can't hover as its thrust is always greater than weight requiring it to hit zero velocity right at landing.  That will always make it hard to target a precise point.  ITS, with so many engines, should be able to control its throttle rate better.  That will allow it to come in slower and exert more lateral control just before landing to target a cradle.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/08/2017 01:07 PM
Just as a question.
I thought the newest versions of merlin 1d had a throttle range from 30%-100%?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Razvan on 03/08/2017 01:48 PM
ITS presumably brings an entirely different equation to the mix, in terms of cost per pound to orbit.

Only if you are launching a lot of pounds! Beyond what it is designed far, large payloads to Mars, it's not clear there's any other likely use for it for many years to come. SpaceX have said it's only for Mars.

Ok if something like CISLunar1000 took off then maybe there will be demand for large payloads to the moon and/or space stations. But that's rather OT.

It seems at the moment that SpaceX think F9 B5 and FH will cover likely demands for years.
Having in mind the next space big business is going to be related to mining, SpaceX better be prepared to lift heavy hardware to deep space
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/08/2017 01:50 PM

Having in mind the next space big business is going to be related to mining, SpaceX better be prepared to lift heavy hardware to deep space

That is not a given.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/08/2017 04:39 PM
Just as a question.
I thought the newest versions of merlin 1d had a throttle range from 30%-100%?
Please let's not restart that debate.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Moderas on 03/08/2017 05:51 PM
Just as a question.
I thought the newest versions of merlin 1d had a throttle range from 30%-100%?

Merlin 1d vac can throttle down to 81,000 lbf (~360 kn) as confirmed on the most recent launch live stream.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/08/2017 07:31 PM
Just as a question.
I thought the newest versions of merlin 1d had a throttle range from 30%-100%?

Merlin 1d vac can throttle down to 81,000 lbf (~360 kn) as confirmed on the most recent launch live stream.

So 360 kN thrust and the stage weighs dry 22.2 tonnes.
so 22.2 * 9.8 = 217 kN
So one engine still too much thrust.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/08/2017 09:28 PM
Cross-posting as discussion of refurbishment improvements post SES-10 seems better here:

Quote
@SpaceX's Shotwell: Took us 4 months to refurbish the stage that we'll refly at end of this month. Going forward, it'll be sub that.#SATShow

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/839598801375608832 (https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/839598801375608832)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/08/2017 11:30 PM
My thinking? Grandiose plans for huge B5 changes are fanboy folderol.

SpaceX has a chance to stabilize, and crank through their manifest, and get piles of cash.... if they do a B5 that is only minor refinement. No provisions for thrusters to do cradle landings, no changes in S1/S2 sep points, etc. Just make them "like sausages" and tweak the S1/S2 production ratio balance as the barn full of used S1s swells.

Blue is maybe 3 years away from first NG flight. maybe more, MAYBE LESS. I think Bezos wants desperately to surprise people.  But what matters is not first NG date.... what matters is what happens next. if NG is oversize enough, they may be able to do a reusable S2 at the same payload lift specs that SpaceX has to throw the S2 away. Meaning NG fixed costs go way down and so do launch prices, eating SpaceX margin.

If that happens, look out. SpaceX has to get ITS up and running FAST. Amazon knows how to do fast-follower better than anyone. (as I have been saying for years now).   regardless of whatever idle dreaming others are saying that ITS is 10 years away....

Because if ITS is 10 years away, SpaceX is toast. Blue will have NA which will then dominate the heavy lift market.

As for ULA, Ariane, and the rest? Specialty providers or subsidized will be their niche. Still can survive but they all, collectively, will have to survive on 15% market share, Blue and SpaceX get 85%

Like MeekGee I can see a future in which Blue does to SpaceX what SpaceX is doing to ULA (Jim will chime in with "not yet they aren't" and he's right, but it's in the cards that ULA is toast except for very high end specialty government payloads)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 02:03 AM
FWIW, in none of the above posts I tried to post "what's likely IMO", but just "what's possible".

The advantage Blue Origin has is that they're starting "from scratch".  SpaceX has baggage - it comes from being first.

The advantage SpaceX has is that they had to claw their way to where they are, while dragging everyone else (kicking and screaming) towards reusability.  They have a culture of leadership, and they're used to earning their keep.  They are not a "funded as needed" lab company (no offense!).

These sort of things permeate to the very core of the company's DNA. So while SpaceX has to definitely assume that Blue Origin will be highly competent, I wouldn't say that's it's likely that Blue Origin will catch up.

The likely scenario is that SpaceX, FH, and CommX will be ahead of the competition by about 3 years.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2017 02:17 AM
but it's in the cards that ULA is toast except for very high end specialty government payloads)

That is not true either.  Your crystal balls are Spacex tinted and hence not valid opinions.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/09/2017 02:32 AM
but it's in the cards that ULA is toast except for very high end specialty government payloads)

That is not true either.  Your crystal balls are Spacex tinted and hence not valid opinions.

Fair enough, but it is a possible outcome, that you cannot deny.

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.

If you say there's zero chance I'll take that bet any day.... just give me the right odds.

The likely scenario is that SpaceX, FH, and CommX will be ahead of the competition by about 3 years.

Not indefinitely. Amazon will whittle that advantage down by a year every 2 years, I expect... so SpaceX better have ITS close to flying in 6 years or Amazon wins fast-follower.

Wait, did I say Amazon, I meant Blue. Same guy calling the shots. He's already eaten the lunch of how many different industries  by being good at fast-follow?????
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2017 02:37 AM

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.


and, and, and, and......

Yeah, and if a frog had wings

The bet would be straight up.  There is no weasling out with odds.  Either you put up or ....

And becoming the American Proton doesn't count.  That is a pyrrhic victory.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Danderman on 03/09/2017 02:41 AM

Having in mind the next space big business is going to be related to mining, SpaceX better be prepared to lift heavy hardware to deep space

The Kool-Ade is strong in this one!

Not that space mining doesn't have a future, but it is many years down the road.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/09/2017 02:51 AM
The advantage Blue Origin has is that they're starting "from scratch".  SpaceX has baggage - it comes from being first.

That assumes that they were assuming SpaceX had a successful business model to follow years ago when they committed to their current design series, and that BO had enough information about what worked and what didn't work to innovate in ways that SpaceX can't with it's current design.  I'm not sure that is the case, and I could make the argument that BO has been on a parallel path that just happens to end up with the same result, but not necessarily "steals SpaceX thunder".

Quote
The advantage SpaceX has is that they had to claw their way to where they are, while dragging everyone else (kicking and screaming) towards reusability.  They have a culture of leadership, and they're used to earning their keep.  They are not a "funded as needed" lab company (no offense!).

These sort of things permeate to the very core of the company's DNA. So while SpaceX has to definitely assume that Blue Origin will be highly competent, I wouldn't say that's it's likely that Blue Origin will catch up.

I see this as an important point.  In my experience in manufacturing the development phase is quite different than the production phase.  BO has not yet reached operational status yet, nor do they have their new factory up and running, so they have a lot to grow.  No doubt they can grow, but it will take time to put everything together.

Quote
The likely scenario is that SpaceX, FH, and CommX will be ahead of the competition by about 3 years.

Initially I think more, but I'm not worried about the prospects of SpaceX, I'm more concerned with the prospects of ULA not having enough commercial business to support the declining amount of USG business they'll have due to lower USG launch needs and SpaceX slowly taking more and more of their USG business.  I'm not sure how many launches per year are their minimum with the Vulcan, but BO potentially taking away business is not a good thing for ULA.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/09/2017 03:01 AM

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.


and, and, and, and......

Yeah, and if a frog had wings

The bet would be straight up.  There is no weasling out with odds.  Either you put up or ....

And becoming the American Proton doesn't count.  That is a pyrrhic victory.

I think it's a possible outcome that it's how I outlined. But I'm not so confident that I'd give even odds, no. I gave a long list of really hard things for SpaceX to do that ALL have to happen for it to work. Blow even one and it comes out differently. "in the cards" to me, means, it's a possible outcome but the cards may fall differently.

When someone says "thing X is impossible but I will only give you 50:50 odds", what that says to me is that thing X isn't impossible. Might be pretty improbable, sure. but not impossible.

I used to win dollar bets with people that I gave 1:1,000,000 odds to because I knew the thing was actually impossible. Once I thought there was any chance at all, I wouldn't take the bet at any odds unless I didn't mind losing.

(Would I mind losing a bet to you where I owe you a case of Founders or whatever? not in the least, but only if it's a fair bet.... even odds for that? no way. The odds are more like 100:1 that SpaceX blows at least one of those many hard things. Just not impossible they get them all)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/09/2017 07:32 AM
I doubt that Blue Origin can upset SpaceX. SpaceX has the Raptor coming which will be a far superior engine to BE-4. They have the manufacturing experience to pull even on production.

What might happen is that they have to concentrate on an equivalent of the New Glenn ahead of ITS. I am sure their plan is to have it and cancel the Falcon family but after ITS.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 03/09/2017 08:01 AM
One rocket company doesnt crumble to dust just because an other rocket company has a better or cheaper rocket. Especially not foreign ones. SX and BO might take a big part of the launch pie, but they will not eat the entire cake. Not even close. They might dominate the USA launch market though.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/09/2017 10:23 AM

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.


and, and, and, and......

Yeah, and if a frog had wings

The bet would be straight up.  There is no weasling out with odds.  Either you put up or ....

And becoming the American Proton doesn't count.  That is a pyrrhic victory.

Lots of AND's and yet, here we are, I believe SpaceX have already achieved quite a few AND's that people didn't think they could do.  Can they keep achieving AND's?

BO and SpaceX are both run by very (very) clever people, with very clever teams behind them. Both come from a agile background, both want results quickly, at least one of them has an colossal amount of money to play with.

The market IS going to change. Whether ULA survives the change, well, I suspect they will. But perhaps not in their current form. 

There is a parallel in science. Science relies on questioning and change, not blind belief. Copernicus, Newton, Einstein. All step changes in the description of the world around us. All required scientists coming in and shaking things up.

If ULA think they are doing everything right, and nothings need to change, and they can just continue the way they are, they are relying on blind faith they are right. That is a bad place to be.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Zed_Noir on 03/09/2017 11:06 AM
I doubt that Blue Origin can upset SpaceX. SpaceX has the Raptor coming which will be a far superior engine to BE-4. They have the manufacturing experience to pull even on production.

What might happen is that they have to concentrate on an equivalent of the New Glenn ahead of ITS. I am sure their plan is to have it and cancel the Falcon family but after ITS.

In one vision of the future the F9 Block 5 might not be around for too long. If SpaceX decided that they need something similar to the New Glenn. Since they already have one in stealth development. The ITS Spaceship could be modified into a configuration that matches the Falcon Heavy/New Glenn class performance.

Using 9 regular Raptors and removing everything in front of the propellant tankage. Insert an interstage fairing. Build a upper stage using the ITS Spaceship tooling with a Vacuum Raptor. You could even use the current SpaceX payload fairing with an adapter fairing. Voila the SpaceX version of the New Glenn. Just fractionally more powerful with 9 Raptors in the core.

SpaceX can later combine the upper stage and payload fairing into unitary biconic reusable unit. Yes, I have created a demi-BFR design.



Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/09/2017 11:38 AM
That would cost so much in design and pad changes, SpaceX will never do that. I'm almost certain Block 5 will not be the last version, but SpaceX would never completely rebuild F9. Too much money and pad downtime as they upgrade the pads.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/09/2017 01:19 PM
That would cost so much in design and pad changes, SpaceX will never do that. I'm almost certain Block 5 will not be the last version, but SpaceX would never completely rebuild F9. Too much money and pad downtime as they upgrade the pads.

And yet SpaceX have specifically said the Block 5 will be the last iteration of F9....

(Note, there will be changes in block 5 craft, just the minor bug fixes and improvements that that always happen)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Earendil on 03/09/2017 01:31 PM
Someone should ask SX reps at a press, if they are going to build a raptor based rocket for commercial use (other than the ITS rocket).

My guess is, eventually - yes, but not soon. Once they have the block 5 F9 set, the R&D teams could either get 100% focused on ITS, or split effort between it and a smaller methane/raptor based rocket. The won't rush either. Maybe at least 10 years in the future and together with a different launch pad.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/09/2017 02:13 PM
Someone should ask SX reps at a press, if they are going to build a raptor based rocket for commercial use (other than the ITS rocket).

My guess is, eventually - yes, but not soon. Once they have the block 5 F9 set, the R&D teams could either get 100% focused on ITS, or split effort between it and a smaller methane/raptor based rocket. The won't rush either. Maybe at least 10 years in the future and together with a different launch pad.

A lot will depend on when EM wakes up with a random idea.  He's the controlling owner, he can largely decide what he wants to do.

Regarding Block 5, they can keep calling it Block 5 for a long time and just make minor changes as time goes on.  For all we know the Block 5 has the same fuselage/body/structure of FT with changes to the bolt on parts.

I agree that SpaceX needs to stabilize the design and fly it, fly it a lot.  Also, stabilizing the pads so they aren't being tweaked and modified will greatly help their launch cadence.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/09/2017 03:04 PM
One rocket company doesnt crumble to dust just because an other rocket company has a better or cheaper rocket. Especially not foreign ones. SX and BO might take a big part of the launch pie, but they will not eat the entire cake. Not even close. They might dominate the USA launch market though.

You have to think of this from the customer standpoint.

Do customers want lower launch prices?  Absolutely.

Do customers want to be locked into only one or two launch providers?  No.  Even today they make sure to spread around their business so that multiple launch providers can be available.

However Blue Origin is now an extra launch provider being added to the mix, so customers could feel justified in deciding to eliminate one of their previous backup providers.  Who, we don't know.  Yet.

For ULA the problem is that they will have a launcher that will be priced far below what they currently charge, but they require commercial customers in order to keep their launch rate high enough to be profitable.  ULA will have to find new customers that will want to abandon their previous backup providers, even though they won't know the reliability of the new Vulcan rocket.  Oh, and ULA will be offering an expendable rocket, while SpaceX and Blue Origin will be offering reusable ones, which could end up being not only a pricing challenge, but down the road it could end up being a competitive disadvantage.  The future is cloudy for them...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 03:20 PM

It'll be a world with daily launches, manned and unmanned.


Not in this or the next decade.
This decade is almost over....

My prediction:

By 2025:

First ITS flew, multiple are being built.

Constellations are airborne, launch rates approaching 1/day.

Well, if you include all launches, manned and unmanned, then let's see:

SpaceX is targeting 20+ launches this year already. Probably around 50 launches per year by 2019, when they have 4 launch sites in operation. So that's already a launch a week, just from SpaceX, before this decade is out.

Add all other operators, and you are probably up to 2 launches a week, on average. A launch every third day, in other words. I guess you're correct that this could quite conceivably triple in cadence by the end of the 2020's, to a launch a day.
I was counting CommX launches assuming F9.

Just that is crazy.  That's why I still think an integrated reusable sat deployer has to happen, or else how are you going to launch 12000 sats?

5 year life span ==> 2400/yr

20 per fairing ==> 120 launches/yr

Once every 3 days, just on the CommX side.

So either the constellation plans don't have a way to be launched, or we're going to see changes to the launch vehicles.

*This is assuming the VLEO sats can last 5 years, or else the launch rate increases.

It also means they are fine waiting for 5 years for full capacity.

What about other constellations?  Some will wait for new Glenn. Some might ask for a ride.  Will SpaceX launch them?

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: whitelancer64 on 03/09/2017 03:24 PM
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 03:30 PM
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: whitelancer64 on 03/09/2017 03:34 PM
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large

I don't see how that's a justification for the assumption that they can only fit 20 satellites on the rocket.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gospacex on 03/09/2017 03:42 PM
One rocket company doesnt crumble to dust just because an other rocket company has a better or cheaper rocket. Especially not foreign ones. SX and BO might take a big part of the launch pie, but they will not eat the entire cake. Not even close. They might dominate the USA launch market though.

Did you see what's happening with Russian launch rate lately?

2012: Proton 11, total 29
2013: Proton 10, total 36
2014: Proton 8, total 37
2015: Proton 8, total 29
2016: Proton 3, total 19
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 03:57 PM
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large

I don't see how that's a justification for the assumption that they can only fit 20 satellites on the rocket.
The LEO sats were half a ton+, and meter-scale+...

So 4 per plane, 5 deep?  I mean, 20 is a ballpark estimate.  Suppose it is 30?

We'll see.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/09/2017 04:26 PM
How's this for being ambitious with (presumably block 5) booster 'refurbishment':

Here's a write-up of Gwynne Shotwell's remarks yesterday:

http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/ (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/)

Contains some extra detail, such as:

Quote
Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/09/2017 04:55 PM
How's this for being ambitious with (presumably block 5) booster 'refurbishment':

Here's a write-up of Gwynne Shotwell's remarks yesterday:

http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/ (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/)

Contains some extra detail, such as:

Quote
Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day.

2 months is adequate, 1 month would be incredible and likely produce more boosters faster than they can fly them.

Keep in mind the quantity of boosters they may have in rotation.  4 boosters in rotation on a 2 month turn around would yield a launch every 2 weeks.  A rate they haven't been close to sustaining yet.

SpaceX is a long way from needing a sub 1-month turn around on a booster.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/09/2017 05:38 PM
They will have 2 pads soon, they will need 3 boosters for FH. One month should still do well though. But a much shorter time will mean less man hours. It might then be done with people from the pad crew instead a separate crew. Plus max a handful specialists.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/09/2017 05:46 PM
This thread has me more concerned that I would have thought possible when starting to read through it.

So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

A more robust defensive strategy might have been to move to a New Glenn sized Raptor-powered rocket by 2020,  leaving ITS to wait for the 2030's. That would have meant that Blue Origin's New Glenn would be obsolete before its first flight, forcing them to waste even more time and money to go straight for a New Armstrong, if there was even a market for an Armstrong at that point.

That might have given SpaceX the time to build the ITS under far less pressure, while dominating the launch market for the next decade with their "Raptor Glenn" equivalent.

Instead, Elon has decided to jump straight from Falcon to ITS, which, as some have pointed out above, means that there is now a gap for Bezos to exploit until ITS comes online. And if ITS is delayed until say 2030, which is not at all impossible, then SpaceX is left with the inferior Merlin based Falcon Heavy as their only alternative offering to New Glenn.

Hence the continuing questions around the potential necessity (whether Elon is considering it right now or not) of a Raptor based upper stage for the future Falcon Heavy, to keep them going until ITS sees the light of day.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 03/09/2017 06:04 PM
So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

Why? Because Bezos has far more resources (personal wealth) at his disposal. He can afford to take his time to tinker and build something "right". Musk/SpaceX never had  that luxury, they needed to deliver results quickly for customers and learn as they went.

But that still assumes that Bezos will be successful. There are lots of gotchas involved in building an orbital launch vehicle and even more so a partially reusable one, as SpaceX has discovered.

New Glenn is still years from flying. A lot can change.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/09/2017 06:07 PM
F9 and New Glenn will compete on overall efficiency and cost, not merely pounds to orbit.  Let's see how they stack up in actual cost effective $/orbital pound once New Glenn is flying.  It's a bit premature to be calling F9 the "inferior" rocket.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: whitelancer64 on 03/09/2017 06:23 PM
This thread has me more concerned that I would have thought possible when starting to read through it.

So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

*snip*

Hence the continuing questions around the potential necessity (whether Elon is considering it right now or not) of a Raptor based upper stage for the future Falcon Heavy, to keep them going until ITS sees the light of day.

SpaceX has had a few missteps, the losses of CRS-7 and Amos-6 are probably the worst - failures bite very hard and will throw a big wrench into even the best laid plans. Starting projects that become dead-ends due to changing plans are another, like the Falcon 5, F9R-Dev2 and building a launch site at Spaceport America it has never used, and so on. Constantly tinkering with / improving the rocket is either a bug or a feature, depending on your perspective.

I disagree that the New Glenn is a superior rocket to the Falcon. It's bigger, but not necessarily better.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RonM on 03/09/2017 06:27 PM
F9 and New Glenn will compete on overall efficiency and cost, not merely pounds to orbit.  Let's see how they stack up in actual cost effective $/orbital pound once New Glenn is flying.  It's a bit premature to be calling F9 the "inferior" rocket.

Yes, we won't really know for several years. Currently, NG is a PowerPoint rocket while F9 is operational. By the time NG is flying payloads, F9 Block 5 will be a workhorse with years of operational history.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cambrianera on 03/09/2017 06:29 PM
I don't really get the need for this thread, there are already threads where this has been discussed.  Also based on the first two posts it seems to be for rampant speculation, not updates.  Landing cradles and barge flyback of Block 5, really?  You seriously think that might happen?  RTLS of GTO missions?  This is Block 5 of Falcon 9, not ITS.

You were 100% right, this thread is gone wild...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Formica on 03/09/2017 06:32 PM
From my perspective, based on publicly available information, Block 5 will be entirely evolutionary, and it's objective is design stability. Elon stated Block 5 is all about reusability and reliability improvements, and commercial crew requires seven flights before NASA will put people on it. These are both well established facts.

Based on these two facts, I believe there will be no cradles, barge flybacks, tank or stage size changes, etc. Block 5 will be a rocket that's a lot like what we see today that might have a bit more payload capacity and takes less time and resources to fly again than Block 3 does (four months per Shotwell for 1021, the booster being reused for SES-10).

That's my speculation 😁 I personally would like to know more about Block 4: whether we've seen it already and how it differs from Block 3, whether FH demo 1 will be all Block 3 or perhaps be a Block 4 core with two Block 3 boosters, etc. Not knowing this agitates my space nerdiness 😛
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/09/2017 06:40 PM
That's my speculation I personally would like to know more about Block 4: whether we've seen it already and how it differs from Block 3, whether FH demo 1 will be all Block 3 or perhaps be a Block 4 core with two Block 3 boosters, etc. Not knowing this agitates my space nerdiness

I agree with you, I'm more interested in this Block 4 that they're going to slip in before they introduce F9B5. My guess here is that 1032 was the first Block 4, mainly due to its full-duration burn at McGregor.

My speculation is that Block 4 introduces FH side booster compatibility, so Falcon Heavy side boosters will really just be Falcon 9 Blocks 4 or 5. The Thaicom 8 booster (1023) was definitely Block 3, so I'm curious as to whether or not they gave it an official overhaul and completely upgraded to Block 4, or if it's just a one-off thing that doesn't have a real name.

As for the center cores, I bet they get their own Block system, i.e. Falcon Heavy Block 1.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 06:57 PM
So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

Why? Because Bezos has far more resources (personal wealth) at his disposal. He can afford to take his time to tinker and build something "right". Musk/SpaceX never had  that luxury, they needed to deliver results quickly for customers and learn as they went.

But that still assumes that Bezos will be successful. There are lots of gotchas involved in building an orbital launch vehicle and even more so a partially reusable one, as SpaceX has discovered.

New Glenn is still years from flying. A lot can change.

BO's advantages are also its Achilles heel.  When as a company you're born with unlimited funding and no operational constraints, this is not a good thing. It permeates the corporate DNA.  Remember that to this day (and the next couple of years) BO doesn't have to meet a launch window, loft a payload, deal with... anything, really.

It is only natural that NG, being a brand new rocket, with no baggage, and 20/20 hindsight, will be a better rocket.  I mean, doh.  F9 had to create the reusable world into which NG fits.  Even NG's potential market for other constellation is driven by SpaceX push into that market.

But that's the problem with a follower - it can only follow to where the leader was a few years ago.

BO threw it all onto NG which will beat FH, but by that time, SpaceX is deep into something that much much bigger.  ITS is not just a bigger rocket.  It's a world-builder.

In short, if both companies execute to plan, SpaceX will be just fine, and get to do Mars colonization.  The rest is irrelevant.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/09/2017 07:24 PM
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 07:48 PM
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.

Not worrying.... estimating and comparing...

There's good reason to believe NG development will be faster.  Again, because they don't have to deal with pesky operations while developing.  And they don't have to figure out which direction to go...  F5?  Octaweb?  Barges?   SpaceX had to really innovate and figure out which of many directions to go to, while maintaining a balance with operations, keeping customers happy, etc.   BO doesn't have all of that. BO doesn't have to change direction - they are aiming for FH, very clearly.

However, at the end of the day, all they'd have built is what they perceive as a "better FH".  Which may or may not be so, but by the time it flies, they will have succeeded (maybe) in beating SpaceX at what SpaceX has already moved on from...

There's good reason to believe that by the time NG flies for the first time, SpaceX would already have a constellation in place.

That's the problem of the "follower".   China is trying to beat the US.  In some ways, being "fast followers" condemns you to always thinking in terms of "me too".  Same thing here.

Back to Block 5....

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/09/2017 08:09 PM
Why does any of this need to be SpaceX versus BO.

I'm a space fan, if they both succeed then all of space nerds win.  I don't care what rocket or fuel or billionaire funds it.  I just want a moon base.

As for practical matters, by the time NG sees a launch pad the F9 family could have 100 launches under it's belt and be flying 20+ times a year.  BO will have a lot to learn to get to catch level of maturity.

We'll get to watch, so that's fun.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: alang on 03/09/2017 08:35 PM
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.

Not worrying.... estimating and comparing...

There's good reason to believe NG development will be faster.  Again, because they don't have to deal with pesky operations while developing.  And they don't have to figure out which direction to go...  F5?  Octaweb?  Barges?   SpaceX had to really innovate and figure out which of many directions to go to, while maintaining a balance with operations, keeping customers happy, etc.   BO doesn't have all of that. BO doesn't have to change direction - they are aiming for FH, very clearly.

However, at the end of the day, all they'd have built is what they perceive as a "better FH".  Which may or may not be so, but by the time it flies, they will have succeeded (maybe) in beating SpaceX at what SpaceX has already moved on from...

There's good reason to believe that by the time NG flies for the first time, SpaceX would already have a constellation in place.

That's the problem of the "follower".   China is trying to beat the US.  In some ways, being "fast followers" condemns you to always thinking in terms of "me too".  Same thing here.

Back to Block 5....

I'll apologise in advance for reasoning from analogy: my IT experience suggests that development teams are prone to discard or not even appreciate the existence of non functional requirements a.k.a. "pesky operations" when trying to declare victory via a shoddy delivery.
SpaceX on the other hand is subject to a hard discipline that could serve them well in the ITS design.
What could defeat them would be the ITS team being treated like royalty and given license to ignore operational experience.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2017 08:45 PM

It'll be a world with daily launches, manned and unmanned.


Not in this or the next decade.
This decade is almost over....

My prediction:

By 2025:

First ITS flew, multiple are being built.

Constellations are airborne, launch rates approaching 1/day.

Well, if you include all launches, manned and unmanned, then let's see:

SpaceX is targeting 20+ launches this year already. Probably around 50 launches per year by 2019, when they have 4 launch sites in operation. So that's already a launch a week, just from SpaceX, before this decade is out.

Add all other operators, and you are probably up to 2 launches a week, on average. A launch every third day, in other words. I guess you're correct that this could quite conceivably triple in cadence by the end of the 2020's, to a launch a day.
I was counting CommX launches assuming F9.

Just that is crazy.  That's why I still think an integrated reusable sat deployer has to happen, or else how are you going to launch 12000 sats?

5 year life span ==> 2400/yr

20 per fairing ==> 120 launches/yr

Once every 3 days, just on the CommX side.

So either the constellation plans don't have a way to be launched, or we're going to see changes to the launch vehicles.

*This is assuming the VLEO sats can last 5 years, or else the launch rate increases.

It also means they are fine waiting for 5 years for full capacity.

What about other constellations?  Some will wait for new Glenn. Some might ask for a ride.  Will SpaceX launch them?

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

BTW - on the BO side, OneWeb says 80 units per NG launch. I think that jives with ~20 CommX units per F9 launch, give or take.

I agree btw that "one orbital plane per launch" is a nice and round goal.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/10/2017 02:18 AM
This thread has me more concerned that I would have thought possible when starting to read through it.

So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

A more robust defensive strategy might have been to move to a New Glenn sized Raptor-powered rocket by 2020,  leaving ITS to wait for the 2030's. That would have meant that Blue Origin's New Glenn would be obsolete before its first flight, forcing them to waste even more time and money to go straight for a New Armstrong, if there was even a market for an Armstrong at that point.

That might have given SpaceX the time to build the ITS under far less pressure, while dominating the launch market for the next decade with their "Raptor Glenn" equivalent.

Instead, Elon has decided to jump straight from Falcon to ITS, which, as some have pointed out above, means that there is now a gap for Bezos to exploit until ITS comes online. And if ITS is delayed until say 2030, which is not at all impossible, then SpaceX is left with the inferior Merlin based Falcon Heavy as their only alternative offering to New Glenn.

Hence the continuing questions around the potential necessity (whether Elon is considering it right now or not) of a Raptor based upper stage for the future Falcon Heavy, to keep them going until ITS sees the light of day.

I think you're underestimating how fast SpaceX (even with their time dilation) can do ITS. Yes, composites are hard but this is their third vehicle[1], the engine is in test and they get better with development all the time as their capital and facilities expand.

As to the thread, I'm not seeing a lot of issues, yes it went alll over everywhere but it's a very thought provoking thread. We live in interesting times.

1 - F1, F9 being 1 and 2..... 3.5 if you count FH as "half a development project"
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2017 02:39 AM
All Blue Origin has done is suborbital hops. They've done VTVL, sure, but ultimately what they've done is not greater than x-15 so far. People are assuming Blue Origin's plans will go off without delays, which is unlikely in this industry. Blue Origin has actually suffered delays. Heck they started before SpaceX!

As far as SpaceX's strategy:

Well, there isn't actually a lot of revenue in space launch. It's a generally low-margin endeavor. That's why SpaceX has been investing in this crazy megaconstellation. Elon does not have the luxury of being worth $73 billion. SpaceX has to generate its own revenue for the most part. The constellation is far from guaranteed, but it could provide more revenue for SpaceX than Blue Origin will have from Bezos' bankrolling.

So it makes sense actually for SpaceX to pursue exactly the strategy they did: they climbed the value chain all the way to the top instead of trying to get all their revenue in competition with rockets that Bezos could afford to give away.

And I think ITS is not as far away as people think it is. SpaceX has an uncanny to push thing further than people thought possible. And Bezos' wealth is a good motivator: SpaceX will have to work harder, as this is the first time SpaceX is really getting challenged by someone who isn't the status quo.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/10/2017 02:52 AM
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/10/2017 04:52 AM
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.

I believe you are incorrect.  They were flying (trying) to make the Falcon 1 successful, then announced the Falcon 5 which somewhat quickly turned into the Falcon 9. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Nomadd on 03/10/2017 05:17 AM
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.

I believe you are incorrect.  They were flying (trying) to make the Falcon 1 successful, then announced the Falcon 5 which somewhat quickly turned into the Falcon 9. 
The Falcon 9 was announced 5 months before the first Falcon 1 launch. The Falcon 5 was announced more than 2 years before the first F1 launch. I can't tell what you think is incorrect or really make much sense of your post.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/10/2017 12:22 PM
So does everybody think that block 5 will have the new copv's? Will spacex restore the original fueling procedures? How much will they test the new copv's and fueling procedures?

To me that is most interesting part of block 5. Sure there will be tweaks to ensure easy and reliable reuse.
1. Some change to ensure restart has fuel and not bubbles. I know this caused problems with a couple of the hot landings.
2. Improvements to the legs?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 03/10/2017 02:11 PM
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/) about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elon’s given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and it’s not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2017 02:20 PM
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/) about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elon’s given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and it’s not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?

No
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/10/2017 02:42 PM
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/) about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elon’s given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and it’s not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?

That's the goal. It's not going to happen this year even if B5 flies.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 03:20 PM
We seem to have us a conundrum here....

Either F9B5 is capable of achieving single-dayish turnaround (not immediately, but without major revisions) or F9B5 is not the last iteration, or GS has no idea about F9's future.

Hmmm....
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Danderman on 03/10/2017 03:23 PM
Or F9B5 will be used as a testbed for some future rocket that is intended for more frequent re-use.

I would imagine that some Raptor-based stage with fewer main engines and maybe some smaller engines for fine control and a wider base may be flying down the road.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2017 03:26 PM

Either F9B5 is capable of achieving single-dayish turnaround


Never was an F9 requirement and physically impossible.  The vehicle nor the launch site infrastructure can support it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2017 03:29 PM
Or F9B5 will be used as a testbed for some future rocket that is intended for more frequent re-use.

I would imagine that some Raptor-based stage with fewer main engines and maybe some smaller engines for fine control and a wider base may be flying down the road.


Not as a Falcon 9 nor flying from the same pads.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 03:30 PM
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2017 03:34 PM
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.

Time of refurbishment and time between launches are two different things.  24 hr refurb would mean that the stage is now the same as a new stage that was just offloaded from a truck and it now enters the launch flow.

Stage mate and checkout; mate to TEL and checkout; and payload mate and checkout are all basically one day operations each.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/10/2017 03:46 PM
My impression, from Shotwell's CRS-10 press conference and other things, is that Falcon 9 Block 5 is primarily being developed to support Crew Dragon.  Man-rating, in other words. 

This version would then also, presumably, be used for unmanned launches.  But there is still that question of Block 4, isn't there?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/10/2017 03:57 PM
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/) about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elon’s given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and it’s not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?
Ready in theory, maybe. In practice, a BIG NO !
Being capable by design doesn't make it wise to push it that hard.
Just recovering the booster from LZ, mating the 2nd stage, doing a static fire, mating the payload, review everything and launch is optimistically a week long job.
I expect static fires to be kept until SX can do 50 successful launches in a row. Otherwise insurers will scream.
There's barely enough time to land a booster, take it to the barn, mate the 2nd stage (with a pre mated payload) and bring it to the pad in 24 hours.
A single loss of payload has a far bigger impact at SX operations than saving a week / launch.
I would expect the shortest land->relaunch cycles that F9 will achieve until its retired to be 2 weeks. That gives time for some inspections.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 04:03 PM
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this (http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/) about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elon’s given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and it’s not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?
Ready in theory, maybe. In practice, a BIG NO !
Being capable by design doesn't make it wise to push it that hard.
Just recovering the booster from LZ, mating the 2nd stage, doing a static fire, mating the payload, review everything and launch is optimistically a week long job.
I expect static fires to be kept until SX can do 50 successful launches in a row. Otherwise insurers will scream.
There's barely enough time to land a booster, take it to the barn, mate the 2nd stage (with a pre mated payload) and bring it to the pad in 24 hours.
A single loss of payload has a far bigger impact at SX operations than saving a week / launch.
I would expect the shortest land->relaunch cycles that F9 will achieve until its retired to be 2 weeks. That gives time for some inspections.
I know all that.

I'm going by what GS said though.

She was very specific about "the rocket" being ready within a day, in the same sentence she was describing F9.

Make if it what you will - that's why I said it was a conundrum...

Either she's​ wrong or talking about BFR, or F9B5 is designed for next day usability (which might happen only later on) or there will be further modifications to F9.

She clearly was not talking about launching a different rocket on the next day.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/10/2017 04:13 PM
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.

Time of refurbishment and time between launches are two different things.  24 hr refurb would mean that the stage is now the same as a new stage that was just offloaded from a truck and it now enters the launch flow.

Stage mate and checkout; mate to TEL and checkout; and payload mate and checkout are all basically one day operations each.

A good point.

I think Shotwell and Musk are talking about stage availability only, knowing that payload mate and checkout are factors related to the payload.  Musk may also be assuming that there will be some payloads in the future that are simple enough that they could be mated and checked out quickly enough to make a 24 hour turnaround.

I don't view the 24 hour statement as an absolute, but to provide guidance on what they think is possible.  However it will be customer demand that determines if 24 hour availability actually ends up being the norm...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 04:31 PM
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 03/10/2017 06:03 PM
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 07:14 PM
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.

I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2017 07:28 PM

1.  - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
2.  - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day"


1.  It has be stated by many different people that F9B5 is the last revision.
2.  It can't be that big of leap due to certification and the limits of the existing hardware.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/10/2017 07:32 PM
Another option is: "we don't accurately understand what the long pole in the tent is for refurbishment, but it's not an inherent property of the rocket." A variant: "we don't accurately understand the scope of changes called a 'Block', and Block 5 means GSE interfaces are fixed, but there might be on-going low level tweaks to materials, part robustness, etc in response to wear patterns observed."

I think both of these deficiencies in *our* knowledge are far far more likely than the president of SpaceX mis-speaking.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/10/2017 07:46 PM
I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
What if most of the "refurb" is actually non destructive testing, just in case replacement of some components, and a relatively minimal truly critical refurb work ?
Once 2nd and 3rd reflights happen successfully, and testing doesn't show problems beyond what was already expected, then some testing and refurb can be safely retired.
We know essentially nothing about how critical and how complex the work performed was. Just how long it took.
Its easy to be pessimistic or optimistic depending on how you interpret GS and EM's statements.
We just don't know.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2017 07:49 PM
I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
What if most of the "refurb" is actually non destructive testing, just in case replacement of some components, and a relatively minimal truly critical refurb work ?
Once 2nd and 3rd reflights happen successfully, and testing doesn't show problems beyond what was already expected, then some testing and refurb can be safely retired.
We know essentially nothing about how critical and how complex the work performed was. Just how long it took.
Its easy to be pessimistic or optimistic depending on how you interpret GS and EM's statements.
We just don't know.

That would make sense, but would imply that quick turnaround of F9 is closer than we think, door #2.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/10/2017 07:57 PM
I think gwynn was talking about f9 turn around and just stated the eventual goal in general that elon's said a number of times. 24 hr turn around. She just strung the two together and we are parsing every word she says beyond what a human person came accurately express. They probably don't know how far f9 will get in terms of turn around time.

Aircraft have huge amounts of flight history, have conservative hours until check of some system or bearing or rebuild.
Boosters will eventually get there. Its going to take awhile. This is assuming that the design is frozen and it flies enough. Something that may never happen because of the rapid innovation of new booster designs.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/10/2017 08:39 PM
So....

A. - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
B. - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
C. - GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.

"C" can be ruled out, since both Musk and Shotwell have been consistent on what they have been saying.  No daylight between them.

"A" can be ruled out by virtue of what Musk has stated about the Block 5 being the last major revision to the Falcon 9.

"B" is likely the closest, but I don't see it so much as a "major leap" as that it addresses the issues they know of today from a design standpoint - iterative improvements.

As to the refurbishment time decreasing, that I see is part of learning over time what their maintenance check periods should be.  Let's all remember that there won't be that many rockets flying compared to the commercial aircraft industry, even when the commercial aircraft industry was young.  Not even our experiences with the Shuttle orbiter will be able to provide enough guidance on 1st stage stresses and component wear.  So they are planning on not overcommitting - unusual for them I know...   ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 03/10/2017 08:55 PM
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.

I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
Have a look at the time line. 24 hours refurbishment time enables about one flight per week (because of the other, non-refurbishment activities). The 24 hours are the time it takes to stuff the stage back into the pipeline.
This would nicely reconcile the statement by Gwynne Shotwell and Jim.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/10/2017 09:16 PM
So....

A. - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
B. - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
C. - GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.

"C" can be ruled out, since both Musk and Shotwell have been consistent on what they have been saying.  No daylight between them.

Just because they're saying the same thing doesn't mean they're both right. We all know SpaceX likes to shoot for extremely lofty goals, just listen to Elon during his IAC speech when he mentions "upwards of a thousand spaceships waiting in orbit" for the Mars transfer burn. I'd argue that this one day refurbishment remark falls into the same category of yet another one of SpaceX's idealistic goals, not a realistic timeframe we're likely to see for at least a decade.

Trying to reconcile statements like this with the current state of affairs is a waste of time frankly.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 03/10/2017 09:16 PM
Have a look at the time line. 24 hours refurbishment time enables about one flight per week (because of the other, non-refurbishment activities). The 24 hours are the time it takes to stuff the stage back into the pipeline.
This would nicely reconcile the statement by Gwynne Shotwell and Jim.

Exactly. Why is this so hard to grasp? No need to go to conspiracy theories...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/10/2017 11:38 PM
When Gwynne says that Elon "gave them 24 hours" I interpret that as a design specification. During the design process every component would presumably be allocated some refurbishment time budget, and the sum of those (averaged across N flights? Or "in the typical case"? Or "in the best case"?) is 24 hours.  There would be a written plan on how to get each component to its target on that budget.  That doesn't mean that they'll actually take every step on that plan: some may not be cost effective or may conflict with the desire for a stable configuration or be preempted by future learning or a future rocket.  But at design time, that was the target time budget.

When they locked down the "block 5" configuration, they presumably had a version of this documentation in front of them, and were acceptably satisfied that the block 5 design (or "GSE interface") would let them take the necessary steps.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: launchwatcher on 03/11/2017 01:16 AM
(averaged across N flights? Or "in the typical case"? Or "in the best case"?)
In a very different context I've seen percentiles used - like "95th percentile", "99th percentile", etc.

These compound in interesting ways that cause you to worry about long tail latency more than might be obvious.

Hypothetically, if, say, 9 engines in 10 can be serviced in an hour, but the 10th takes two days - 90th percentile time on an engine is 1 hour, 99th is 2 days - then almost every first stage is going to have one slow engine and will take at least two days to complete.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/11/2017 01:43 AM
Right. My point is that we don't know the exact "units" that go with that "24 hours" target, but presumably they do.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/11/2017 02:20 AM
Have a look at the time line. 24 hours refurbishment time enables about one flight per week (because of the other, non-refurbishment activities). The 24 hours are the time it takes to stuff the stage back into the pipeline.
This would nicely reconcile the statement by Gwynne Shotwell and Jim.

Exactly. Why is this so hard to grasp? No need to go to conspiracy theories...

Why conspiracy theory?

There are three options, and at least by the people who posted so far, the majority thinks that F9B5 will be able to achieve (in time) "readiness to proceed" in 24 hours.

I'm good with that - I'm glad so many people think it's no big deal and almost self-evident.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 04:44 AM
Remember this is Elon frakking Musk. He has this idea they're going to get Falcon 9 to do single day turnarounds and launches. But it probably won't end up happening, it's just something that Musk knows isn't literally against the laws of physics. Maybe they'll get it to work on some other vehicle.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2017 12:56 PM

There are three options, and at least by the people who posted so far, the majority thinks that F9B5 will be able to achieve (in time) "readiness to proceed" in 24 hours.

I'm good with that - I'm glad so many people think it's no big deal and almost self-evident.


No, the majority believes thats what Spacex's goal is.  Nowhere did anyone say they believed it.

It is far from self-evident and it is only belief based.  Much like a religion.  There is no evidence to support the claim.  It is further evidence of the cult of personality surrounding Spacex

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/11/2017 01:24 PM
Can I take an intermediate position?  Like I said, I believe this was a design goal.  So they have on paper a plan which "isn't literally against the laws of physics" which would let them do 24hr refurbishment.  I think everyone (including SpaceX!) agrees this is somewhat aspirational. But it works on paper, nothing is literally impossible, only the usual factors of time, money, Murphy, and the distance between theory and practice will prevent them from reaching it... which means it's likely they never quite will. ;). And, returning to the original topic question, for those same reasons it's likely block 5 isn't quite enough to get them there.  But it's too early to tell whether their response will be to give in and make a "block 5 1/2" or settle for larger-than-24hr refurb or something else.  I'd argue it's too early for SpaceX to tell as well: they have to find out what's going to go wrong with their plan before they can figure out what to do about it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/11/2017 01:32 PM

There are three options, and at least by the people who posted so far, the majority thinks that F9B5 will be able to achieve (in time) "readiness to proceed" in 24 hours.

I'm good with that - I'm glad so many people think it's no big deal and almost self-evident.


No, the majority believes thats what Spacex's goal is.  Nowhere did anyone say they believed it.

It is far from self-evident and it is only belief based.  Much like a religion.  There is no evidence to support the claim.  It is further evidence of the cult of personality surrounding Spacex



To further elaborate on Jim's comment, personally I believe those quotes are, in fact, what SpaceX people have said. But I do not believe they will ever achieve it in the simplistic fashion interpreted by the most optimistic, at least not with any version of F9. That is to say, "launch, landing, and ready to launch again" will not occur in a 24 hour period.

More realistically, I can believe SpaceX hopes they can get their pad flow to the point where they can surge and launch daily in support of CommX and/or ITS operations in 10 - 20 years, but I don't think that means any one vehicle launches on a 24 hour cadence.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/11/2017 01:34 PM
Elon aims for 24 hour refurbishment. That doesn't mean that the rocket is going to launch again after 24 hours. Just that it will require only 24 hours worth of resource time to get into a launchable state again.

And as for a launch per week being the maximum a launch facility can handle, well, that's probably one of the reasons they are building multiple launch facilities.

And who knows, maybe they eventually get the pad turnaroud time down to something like 4-5 days. That creates a scenario where a launch a day from alternating SpaceX facilities is indeed possible.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rockets4life97 on 03/11/2017 01:49 PM
[snip]
 But it's too early to tell whether their response will be to give in and make a "block 5 1/2" or settle for larger-than-24hr refurb or something else.  I'd argue it's too early for SpaceX to tell as well: they have to find out what's going to go wrong with their plan before they can figure out what to do about it.

I think there will be a block 5 and a half (or for simplicity block 6). Block 5 is for commercial crew (and potentially first DoD launches), so it will stay stable. They may even keep one line making those cores while the transition the other line to an updated version.

I think there will be continued development. That is SpaceX's style. What I think will be different is that the changes will be smaller. More like fine tuning, then all the changes required for densified propellant for example. I take SpaceX at its word that they will transition most of the F9 and then FH development teams over to ITC.

On the other topic of the 24 hour turnaround: SpaceX's development strategy is to set highly aspirational goals and see how close they can get. Their management thinks they will get better results that way then if they simply say "that's not possible, set realistic goals". You can disagree with that management approach. Long-time observers have learned to calibrate the words of management. Hence, Elon time. This strategy seems to be working for SpaceX. Time will tell whether they get close to achieve a high flight right with rapid re-use.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rcoppola on 03/11/2017 02:14 PM
It took 4 months to refurbish the their very first stage for reuse. Not unreasonable for something they've never done before. They think they can get that down to 2 months with perhaps a few small design tweaks, experience and efficiencies which sounds perfectly reasonable. We all do things today that took us twice as long when we first did them. Both 4 months and 2 months seems like it should apply to the current generation of Falcon.

And then Gwynne says they'd like to get that refurb time down to a day. It's reasonable to think that would require the F9B5 variant. This is about having previously flown boosters ready to get back into the flow in 24 hours, not launch again. After all, you're going to have a large stash of these boosters after not too long.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2017 02:14 PM

I think there will be a block 5 and a half (or for simplicity block 6). Block 5 is for commercial crew (and potentially first DoD launches), so it will stay stable. They may even keep one line making those cores while the transition the other line to an updated version.


No, this is exactly what Spacex said it will not do.  There will be only version of F9 for all users.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rockets4life97 on 03/11/2017 02:31 PM
No, this is exactly what Spacex said it will not do.  There will be only version of F9 for all users.

You are right. Maybe the changes will be small enough and slow enough to appease NASA and the DoD? In other words, normal iterative change like what ULA does.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 03/11/2017 02:31 PM
These figures, four months for the completed refurb, one day for an aspirational refurb, are both nearly meaningless. On the one hand, the four months could have been one tech working for two hours after lunch on Tuesdays. On the other, I believe it is possible to have a twenty four hour turn around for a more evolved F-9, but if it takes three eight hour shifts with 50,000 workers each, not going to happen.

The meaningful figure would be person-hours to refurb a stage and any long poles in the process. I wouldn't hold my breath on getting any insight into that.

Matthew
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/11/2017 02:31 PM
I honestly think Block 5 will NEVER be the final F9 version, they'll find more thrust in the Merlins, or have some more minor improvements along the way. I think the fact that Block 3 was called "Full Thrust", and then they found 2 more major ways to increase engine thrust, will indicate that they'll most likely make a Block 6 or "Upgraded Block 5".
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 02:55 PM
I honestly think Block 5 will NEVER be the final F9 version, they'll find more thrust in the Merlins, or have some more minor improvements along the way. I think the fact that Block 3 was called "Full Thrust", and then they found 2 more major ways to increase engine thrust, will indicate that they'll most likely make a Block 6 or "Upgraded Block 5".
It's not like Falcon 9 block 5 will be the last rocket they make, but they're going to transition the development team away from Falcon to ITS (and, perhaps one can speculate, an ITS-derived satellite launcher down the road).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/11/2017 03:00 PM
I honestly think Block 5 will NEVER be the final F9 version, they'll find more thrust in the Merlins, or have some more minor improvements along the way. I think the fact that Block 3 was called "Full Thrust", and then they found 2 more major ways to increase engine thrust, will indicate that they'll most likely make a Block 6 or "Upgraded Block 5".

There aren't 2 thrust upgrades from v1.2/FT/Block 3. The only announced upgrade is the 1.7 Mlbf (7600 kN) SL thrust level. It's not clear if that is Block 4 or 5 or if it's flown yet.

The Wiki page on Falcon 9 lists the 1.7 Mlbf version as (late 2016) but the reference given is for v1.1 at 1.32 Mlbf. It also lists Block 5 as 1.9 Mlbf, which is really the vacuum thrust of the same vehicle that gets 1.7 Mlbf at sea level.

These are the correct liftoff thrust levels:
Block 2/v1.1: 1.3 Mlbf
Block 3/FT: 1.5 Mlbf
Block 4: either 1.5 or 1.7?
Block 5: 1.7 Mlbf
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 03/11/2017 03:08 PM
I think all of you forget something when interpreting the statement. SpaceX wants to launch more than 1000 satelites for their constellation per year. Even if they go with 20 sats per launch, thats 50 launches per year on CommX alone. An average of one per week. They probably cant to it with one first stage alone, but they wouldnt be cost effective either if refurbishment and flight readying is a huge thing.

I think CommX is impossible if they dont have an assembly line like approach to launches. They need to mass produce second stages, process at least 3 or 4 stages in parallel at the launch site and launch like a clockwork. They cant even stop for investigation of failures.

In this context, having a refurbishment of 24 hours fits perfectly into the picture. It means, that this part of the launch assembly line takes 24 hours. As many said before, a turnaround (launch to launch) of a single stage of 24 hours makes no sense.

With the current way to do launches, CommX is impossible. Since the Mars project depends on CommX, I expect many more statements and action to make a launch cadence of more than 1 per week possible. The launch pad needs to be ready as well, etc. There is a ton of streamlining going to happen. And if Jim is right and F9B5 is the last version of F9, then meekGee is right and it will be a much larger leap forwards in recovery and refurbishment as well as the entire processing than is anticipated right now.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/11/2017 03:42 PM
The reason there won't be a Block VI or 5 1/2 is F9 will be more capable than needed for 80% of missions with ASDS landing and FH can pick up the slack. What's the point in tinkering for tinkering sake ? Better performance that doesn't make a difference in revenue.

Plus there's little reason not to develop a fully reusable pure Raptor rocket, simple two stage, that can do everything F9 can expendable and everything FH can with 3 boosters landing on ASDS. Except this new rocket will accomplish that will full reuse.

Its not something I expect SX to announce at least until late 2018 or even 2019. They first want to learn EVERYTHING they can for booster reuse on F9/FH and have firmed numbers on Raptor performance. Figure out what happens with Block V boosters after 10+ reflights, what kind of refurb is really needed.

That will be a rocket to fly for several decades. They will take their time designing it.

Stop dreaming folks. SX needs billions of revenue to build ITS. It won't spend money improving F9/FH unless there's quantifiable reduction in costs. Revenue wise, a 10% more capable F9 won't bring in more money. Nor a 15% more capable FH.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 03:44 PM
Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 03/11/2017 04:45 PM
As SpaceX have recovered a load of boosters I get they can identify improvements for re-usability to include in B5. But they haven't yet re-used any boosters (although hopefully that's now just weeks away).

Do people think that seeing the wear on 7(?) recovered new boosters after 1 use is sufficient to infer what may happen after multiple uses of the same booster? Maybe incremental changes over the last year have meant that SpaceX are already seeing reduced wear/refurbishment needed and so can be confident they are closing in on the re-use improvements needed for B5?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 04:51 PM
Also, let's not pretend ITS isn't a thing. That's the whole reason that block 5 is the last F9.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 03/11/2017 05:27 PM
Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/11/2017 05:34 PM
And if Jim is right and F9B5 is the last version of F9, then meekGee is right and it will be a much larger leap forwards in recovery and refurbishment as well as the entire processing than is anticipated right now.

You are only half right.  The launch sites are basically at their final configurations.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/11/2017 06:04 PM
Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
You really think SX wouldn't build a bigger fairing to launch 4000 satellites ? I'm sure USAF would love to have a fairing that fits every planned DoD bird and plenty of room to grow. They didn't do it so far cause there wasn't economic justification. I wouldn't be surprised if DoD even pays 1/3 of the cost to build/certify the bigger fairing.

Also, let's not pretend ITS isn't a thing. That's the whole reason that block 5 is the last F9.
ITS is a thing, but ITS as announced is about 10x unnecessarily big for routine access to LEO/GTO. It will only make sense if SpaceX can launch GEO birds by the dozen.
A 1/4 scale ITS on the other hand would still be overkill but a much more reasonable overkill. Perhaps launching 30-40 tons worth of GEO birds at a time, into a zero inclination orbit with the perigee at least half way to GEO.
But that pretty much means SpaceX would take the entire GTO market ! One GTO flight every 3+ months. If you're flying any ways, and there's payload room left, how much do you charge to get one extra customer ? It might even make the GTO market into a zero reservation needed situation. Only book when you're ready to launch (assuming SX already knows your bus configuration).
Another way to think about it is reuse the standard ITS booster, but build a tiny (in comparison) 2nd stage customized for launch satellites only.
But I'm drifting very far off topic. Sorry  :-X
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 08:13 PM
Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing. And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume, you could probably fit in the existing fairing (though we already know SpaceX is building another fairing).

Who said "nothing is allowed to change"? Saying Block 5 is the last major variant of Falcon 9 is not the same as saying nothing (including the fairing) will change. At a minimum, I expect the fairing and probably the payload adapter to change. Also, we also know that SpaceX is pursuing some vertical integration capability.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 08:19 PM
The EXISTING fairing has almost 160 cubic meters of volume. That's probably enough for 80 smallsats each less than a cubic meter in volume. But SpaceX is building another fairing.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/11/2017 08:23 PM
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing.

We know SpaceX is building a different fairing, we have no idea how big it is.

And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume

Microsat 2a/b are 1.1m x 0.7m x 0.7m, so 0.54m3.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: hkultala on 03/11/2017 08:40 PM
The EXISTING fairing has almost 160 cubic meters of volume. That's probably enough for 80 smallsats each less than a cubic meter in volume.

Satellites are not liquid, they are solid. And there must be such support/release mechanism that holds them in a way that they survive the g-forces of the launch but can still be released.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/11/2017 08:52 PM
Just consider that the much larger NG will only carry 80.

F9, IMO will end up with 20-30 per launch, or an orbital slot's worth.

Using FH doesn't change the equation much.  You have 3 cores refurbish instead of 1, but save on manufacturing S2s.

Plus, you can't RTLS the center core, so your "1 day" got expanded to 2 weeks.

We're looking at 1000 LEO sats per year, and at least 2000 VLEO sats per year, possibly much more if their life span is below 5 years, which IMO is likely.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 09:39 PM
Just consider that the much larger NG will only carry 80.

F9, IMO will end up with 20-30 per launch, or an orbital slot's worth.

Using FH doesn't change the equation much.  You have 3 cores refurbish instead of 1, but save on manufacturing S2s.
Makes a pretty big difference. Might as well claim NG can only do 20-30 per launch (it also uses a ~5m fairing). NG's actual fairing is, if anything, just longer. Falcon's new fairing may well be just as long.

Quote
Plus, you can't RTLS the center core, so your "1 day" got expanded to 2 weeks.
It was never going to be a day with Falcon.
Quote

We're looking at 1000 LEO sats per year, and at least 2000 VLEO sats per year, possibly much more if their life span is below 5 years, which IMO is likely.
I would bet the opposite: lifespan closer to 7 years or more, i.e. Less replacement frequency.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2017 09:44 PM
The EXISTING fairing has almost 160 cubic meters of volume. That's probably enough for 80 smallsats each less than a cubic meter in volume.

Satellites are not liquid, they are solid. And there must be such support/release mechanism that holds them in a way that they survive the g-forces of the launch but can still be released.
SpaceX has control over the fairing design, the spacecraft design, and the deployer design. They could build them conformal and load-bearing (like those Boeing satellite pairs) if they wanted to, filling up almost all the available space. They'd be doing a pretty crappy job if they couldn't manage better than 25% volumetric efficiency. They literally have almost 4 times as much volume as they'd need for 80 satellites.

If your argument starts with the assumption that SpaceX would be doing a really terrible job engineering the satellites to fit in a volume that they have control over, then it's not a very convincing argument.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RedLineTrain on 03/11/2017 09:53 PM
The EXISTING fairing has almost 160 cubic meters of volume. That's probably enough for 80 smallsats each less than a cubic meter in volume. But SpaceX is building another fairing.

Do we know that it will be a bigger fairing?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/11/2017 09:57 PM
Just consider that the much larger NG will only carry 80.

F9, IMO will end up with 20-30 per launch, or an orbital slot's worth.

Using FH doesn't change the equation much.  You have 3 cores refurbish instead of 1, but save on manufacturing S2s.
Makes a pretty big difference. Might as well claim NG can only do 20-30 per launch (it also uses a ~5m fairing). NG's actual fairing is, if anything, just longer. Falcon's new fairing may well be just as long.

Quote
Plus, you can't RTLS the center core, so your "1 day" got expanded to 2 weeks.
It was never going to be a day with Falcon.
Quote

We're looking at 1000 LEO sats per year, and at least 2000 VLEO sats per year, possibly much more if their life span is below 5 years, which IMO is likely.
I would bet the opposite: lifespan closer to 7 years or more, i.e. Less replacement frequency.

NG is a comparable rocket to FH, not to F9, and the statement by OneWeb said 80.  Take that as the only concrete data point we have. 

F9 will carry somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of that - at most.  Or else the oneWeb satellites are much larger than SpaceXs, and I always thought they were smaller.

--

Putting a satellite at VLEO is a huge challenge.  Highly corrosive environment, and enough drag to deorbit you quickly.  That's why even 5 years seems ambitious.  Of course you want more, but you can't always get what you want.

---

I still don't understand why you think FH will make a difference in terms of refurbishment.  It might carry more satellites (IF they are mass limited), but each FH is 3 cores, and one of them takes 2 weeks to get back.

It'll sure help with S2s, but it won't change the S1 launch rate.  It'll actually make it worse.

---

I'll add this:  IMO, SpaceX should (though they're saying they won't...) make a reusable integrated second stage/dispenser.  It'll have a serious mass penalty, and will likely require FH. 

However, there are no signs of them even entertaining something like that.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/11/2017 09:58 PM
No matter if they use FH or F9, they'll need more than just OCISLY.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/11/2017 10:04 PM
None of this has much if anything to do with Block 5 ...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: watermod on 03/11/2017 10:47 PM
None of this has much if anything to do with Block 5 ...

I saw in some other venues that SpaceX was looking at high performance rad hardened processors.
I assume for the ITS or the sat network but any chance of putting in triplets of rad hardened processors to replace the triple redundancy commercial processors in the current F9 boosters?
(I haven't seen any info how well the current triplets work in the boosters after landing.   Same for the dragon capsules)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/11/2017 10:49 PM
None of this has much if anything to do with Block 5 ...

I saw in some other venues that SpaceX was looking at high performance rad hardened processors.
I assume for the ITS or the sat network but any chance of putting in triplets of rad hardened processors to replace the triple redundancy commercial processors in the current F9 boosters?
(I haven't seen any info how well the current triplets work in the boosters after landing.   Same for the dragon capsules)

Why would F9 S1 need rad hardened electronics?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: watermod on 03/11/2017 11:06 PM
None of this has much if anything to do with Block 5 ...

I saw in some other venues that SpaceX was looking at high performance rad hardened processors.
I assume for the ITS or the sat network but any chance of putting in triplets of rad hardened processors to replace the triple redundancy commercial processors in the current F9 boosters?
(I haven't seen any info how well the current triplets work in the boosters after landing.   Same for the dragon capsules)

Why would F9 S1 need rad hardened electronics?

No idea if it does have any need.   That's why I mentioned assuming it is for ITS or the sat network.  Just that I haven't heard any reports on the survival of the current electronics after a flight and landing.  Same for the Dragons.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/11/2017 11:41 PM
They are doing a new fairing. We can only assume it's going to be bigger because why would they do a smaller one. They've lost payloads I thought? There are fairing threads to go into more detail but a larger fairing may also be easier to reuse as it may have better terminal velocity characteristics.... but again, other threads

How many satellites per launch of CommsX isn't very on topic for a block 5 thread. But we have to assume that they factored in that center stages take longer to return, and that they factored in what if they need more than one ASDS to get the flight rates especially with FH. And that maybe they'd build more center cores than boosters because it takes longer to get centers back so you can reuse boosters at a faster rate (1 week turnaround but 3 for a FH) that supports one FH a week if you have 3 centers so they can go thru a 3 week cycle, and three disposable upper cores available (at a one a week rate for those)

A lot of this thread isn't on topic really. Except if you're trying to get the big picture. Which is that Musk said B5 is the last, that both Musk and Gwynne said 1 day BOOSTER refurb, not 1 day launch to launch (well maybe Elon did but Gwynne's not quite as crazy), that Jim said the pads are close to final config (not 8 more new pads somewhere) and that the shift is on to ITS.

This all argues for B5 being the very best they know how to do now but no more major changes. Just Atlas level incrementals that avoid interfering with cadence.

The idea that you don't even stop cadence for mishaps is a new one for space but it's not unheard of in airlines, not at all. Not overall.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/11/2017 11:54 PM
The new fairing will almost certainly be optimized for recovery
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Gotorah on 03/12/2017 12:34 AM
It seems like I remember a long time ago in a land far away that SpaceX mentioned refueling the ASDS cores on the Drone Ship and flying them back to the landing pad. The ASDS could stay on site and only crews would be rotated.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/12/2017 01:06 AM
It seems like I remember a long time ago in a land far away that SpaceX mentioned refueling the ASDS cores on the Drone Ship and flying them back to the landing pad. The ASDS could stay on site and only crews would be rotated.
I kind of think they'll stop using barges for all but a handful of launches before they go to something like that. I think they'll transition to ITS or something of that heritage first.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/12/2017 01:21 AM
The BFC discussions are relevant in the sense that we're trying to figure out the operational requirements for F9.

Was there any public comment from SpaceX ever on whether F9 or FH?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/12/2017 01:52 AM
When Jim says pads are close to final config I'm pretty sure he means GSE equipment and interfaces, not quantity and location of pads.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/12/2017 12:05 PM
The new fairing will almost certainly be optimized for recovery

No, for production
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: saliva_sweet on 03/12/2017 12:37 PM
It seems like I remember a long time ago in a land far away that SpaceX mentioned refueling the ASDS cores on the Drone Ship and flying them back to the landing pad. The ASDS could stay on site and only crews would be rotated.
I kind of think they'll stop using barges for all but a handful of launches before they go to something like that. I think they'll transition to ITS or something of that heritage first.

I don't know. Waiting to see the block 5 leg design before passing final judgement on that. It sounds ridiculous at first, but given what was done with the grasshopper. Maybe it's not.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/12/2017 01:05 PM
Sure. I'll grant that as a possibility. Small, but not impossible.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/12/2017 02:21 PM
Unlikely, but maybe still least unlikely, they have advanced the legs so much that they can do reentry without firing by using the legs partially deployed as aerobrakes and for a lifting trajectory.

Given that it almost looks like New Glenn will attempt this with the rudimentary wings maybe not too outlandish. It would explain a large jump in reusable performance.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/12/2017 02:53 PM
Just consider that the much larger NG will only carry 80.

F9, IMO will end up with 20-30 per launch, or an orbital slot's worth.

Using FH doesn't change the equation much.  You have 3 cores refurbish instead of 1, but save on manufacturing S2s.

Plus, you can't RTLS the center core, so your "1 day" got expanded to 2 weeks.

We're looking at 1000 LEO sats per year, and at least 2000 VLEO sats per year, possibly much more if their life span is below 5 years, which IMO is likely.

A serious consideration for number of sats per flight should be turn-around of the booster.  F9 (Block 5) RTLS is lowest risk, lowest cost, and BY FAR fastest...

The limiting factor on how many sats to fly per launch, assuming below mass and volume limits) is how many can be flown on F9 RTLS -- IMO. 

ASDS will be reserved for GTO flights and FH center core recovery.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/12/2017 03:27 PM
The limiting factor on how many sats to fly per launch, assuming below mass and volume limits) is how many can be flown on F9 RTLS -- IMO. 

ASDS will be reserved for GTO flights and FH center core recovery.

Given that each launch will cost a second stage, I think they will want to maximise sats/launch. Over all they can do the same number of missions, just over a longer period. Turn around time can be mitigated by a handful of extra boosters in the loop.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: DOCinCT on 03/12/2017 04:06 PM
The new fairing will almost certainly be optimized for recovery

No, for production
Lars does have a point, they need a bigger fairing as well.  A FH could launch a Bigelow B330 (or XBase) with a proper PAF, but it just won't fit inside current fairing. 
Note: doesn't need to be the monster on an Atlas V or Delta 4 Heavy, as the second stage is external to the fairing.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/12/2017 04:12 PM
SpaceX could pull an Atlas V and have 3 different fairing heights, all with the same existing design but lengthened. This would probably make production easier than having different diameter fairings, and they could just make taller satellite dispensers. It would also make adding an optional third stage for extremely heavy or interstellar payloads much easier.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/12/2017 04:14 PM
I don't understand the motivation to go extreme on the reuse turnaround time. Let's take the satellite constellation project as an example. You don't need to turn the same booster around in record time. For 1000 launches, what's wrong with rotating between 5 boosters per launch facility? Having 20 boosters rotating through the launch program is an incredible level of optimization considering that each one eventually gets reused 50 times.

No need to go to absurd lengths like using the same boosters over and over again at each launch facility. Have 5 per launch facility, that get rotated in a set order. So as one returns it can land on the ASDS if necessary, get refurbished in say 1 week, (no need for a 24 hour turnaround time), and just slot into the back of the queue again.

So each booster launches every fifth launch. And you can get by with a standard fleet of 20 boosters. Launching 1000 times, potentially. Where one goes down, you just replace him with a new one. Meaning you only have to produce maybe 4-5 boosters a year, as replacements for wear and tear over time.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: saliva_sweet on 03/12/2017 05:24 PM
Having 20 boosters rotating through the launch program is an incredible level of optimization considering that each one eventually gets reused 50 times.

It's also an incredible money sink. Elon has said that reuse has to be full and rapid. George Sowers published an analysis on this site that basically says the same thing in excel form. ULA and Arianespace have said reuse is huge economical challenge. Contrary to popular opinion, all of them know what they are talking about.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/12/2017 05:55 PM
Having 20 boosters rotating through the launch program is an incredible level of optimization considering that each one eventually gets reused 50 times.

It's also an incredible money sink. Elon has said that reuse has to be full and rapid. George Sowers published an analysis on this site that basically says the same thing in excel form. ULA and Arianespace have said reuse is huge economical challenge. Contrary to popular opinion, all of them know what they are talking about.
So you're trying to argue that slow reuse is somehow much more expensive than fast reuse ?
Until SX convinces every single customer (specially USAF and NASA) that reuse is just as safe as launching brand new boosters (without USAF/NASA demanding huge refurb efforts just because they don't trust SX), the tendency is SX will be building new boosters for Government launches and then reusing those for commercial flights. So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.
Just because a booster lands at ASDS doesn't make its refurb more expensive. I certainly can't reach a conclusion either way.

Your argument seems pretty much a non sequitur. Just because SX ultimate goal is full and rapid reuse, contending with booster reuse only and let me guess 1-2 wks worth of refurb done at the launch pad area cannot possibly be more expensive than throwing away boosters. In fact it should half total costs divided by # of launches (a wild guess based on impressions from previous discussions).

I don't believe F9/FH 2nd stage reuse will be achieved before F9/FH is replaced by either a mini ITS or something like a 5.2 meter 7 to 9 raptor first stage + raptor 2nd stage rocket replaces the whole Falcon family for good.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: saliva_sweet on 03/12/2017 06:07 PM
So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/12/2017 06:09 PM
Having 20 boosters rotating through the launch program is an incredible level of optimization considering that each one eventually gets reused 50 times.

It's also an incredible money sink. Elon has said that reuse has to be full and rapid. George Sowers published an analysis on this site that basically says the same thing in excel form. ULA and Arianespace have said reuse is huge economical challenge. Contrary to popular opinion, all of them know what they are talking about.

Critiquing your competition and showing how superior you are compared to them is not exactly nonpartisan, and many people on NSF pointed out errors in Sowers analysis.  So just because an analysis is published doesn't mean it's correct.

ULA and Arianespace are excellent at "sustaining innovation", as their launch records show, but they are not staffed to create "disruptive innovation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_innovation)" - they just don't have the motivation or vision to pursue the type of radical change SpaceX and Blue Origin are pursuing.

Only those that are actually pursuing reusability in rockets really understand the factors that they have to deal with, and even then they may not understand those factors until the day they become important.  Analogies are not enough to make predictions here - only real life.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/12/2017 06:11 PM
Right. Long turnaround time means high labor costs which means high refurb costs. Very low turnaround time necessarily means low (& probably very low) refurb costs. That's the real motivation.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/12/2017 06:12 PM
So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.

You're looking at this backwards.  Those recovered rockets are assets that don't have to be built again and again in the future.

Expendable rockets waste everything.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: kevinof on 03/12/2017 06:27 PM
That's the old airline quote but their aircraft are usually financed so yes they lose money every hour they are idle. With Space X recovered boosters aren't costing them anything in financing and a flyable refurbished booster means they don't have to go build a new one.

So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: DAZ on 03/12/2017 06:42 PM
That's the old airline quote but their aircraft are usually financed so yes they lose money every hour they are idle. With Space X recovered boosters aren't costing them anything in financing and a flyable refurbished booster means they don't have to go build a new one.

So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.

Actually, it's not that they're losing money it's that they are not making money. The more they fly the more money they can make.

It costs money to store them, transport them and to refurbish them. If you were to not spend this money and of course not fly them you would not be losing this money. But obviously, if you don't spend this money then you can't make money from these used boosters. The idea obviously is to spend as little money as possible to reuse them.

There is a truism that goes like this. You will spend 90% of your money to get the last 10% of your performance. Without knowing exactly what all the various cost factors are you can't determine when you are approaching this point. It could very likely be as others have pointed out that the goal is 24 hours to refurbish the boosters and they are then put back into the processing line like a new booster would be. The fact that it may take an additional week for this use booster to eventually be used is not really a factor in reuse as these additional times and costs are the same as for a new booster.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/12/2017 07:19 PM
So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.
After the first flight the boosters are fully paid up assets. The only truly negative cost is storage. Neither one of us have the numbers, but I'm pretty confident that the 4 months duration on refurbishing SES-10 was cheaper than making a new booster any ways.
You must prove that partial reuse is worse than fully expendable. I believe you can't prove that in a credible way.
Cherry picking biases studies doesn't count.
I wouldn't be surprised if refurb is down to 1 month in less than a year from now. And when I say 1 month, it doesn't mean someone is working on the booster for 30 days, just that 1 month is the time until the booster is available to mating with a 2nd stage and static firing. Actual resources consumed like isn't very proportional to the duration of the refurb.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dror on 03/12/2017 07:25 PM
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/12/2017 07:37 PM
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?

If their goal is 24 hours from landing to when the stage is ready for payload integration, that pretty much means the stage is not leaving the launch area.  If there is an issue with the stage that has to be dealt with, like an engine change out or tanks need to be revalidated, then the stage could be shipped somewhere.

But otherwise they appear to be planning for all refurbishment to be happening either at the landing site, the payload integration facility, or points between.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Folgers25 on 03/12/2017 08:04 PM
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?

They are putting some work into facilities. SpaceX is leasing the old Spacehab building at the port and plan to build another hangar next to it. In addition to that, they have a hangar at LZ-1.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: nacnud on 03/12/2017 08:09 PM
You probably want to refurb the boosters away from landing and launch sites as those buildings would be evacuated during launching and landing operations.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Zardar on 03/12/2017 08:46 PM
How do we expect to see B5 cores debut?
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2, or will they take the less-risky option of flying one stage first?

I've added a poll (my first poll!) to facilitate some discussion/analysis of this sub-topic.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42510.0
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/13/2017 12:06 AM

Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,

It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/13/2017 12:10 AM

Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,

It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.

What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/13/2017 05:33 AM
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,
It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.
What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.

The 2nd stage would have it's own evolutionary path to follow that is separate from what pushes it uphill, and for all we know it reached it's final configuration before the 1st stage did.  The 1st stage is far more complicated than the 2nd stage, with some of the improvements being focused specifically on reusability.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 03/13/2017 10:12 AM
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,
It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.
What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.

The 2nd stage would have it's own evolutionary path to follow that is separate from what pushes it uphill, and for all we know it reached it's final configuration before the 1st stage did.  The 1st stage is far more complicated than the 2nd stage, with some of the improvements being focused specifically on reusability.

Previous Block changes included both stages; stretching both stages, changing stage separation mechanisms, upgrading engines.

There's really no evidence that a Block upgrade is solely for a first stage, especially with what Jim just said.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/13/2017 10:17 AM
To NASA two aspects of block 5 are important. One is the change to Merlin turbopumps to eliminate cracks. The other is a frozen design which relates to the whole rocket, not the booster. So I believe they will do one revision change.

They may or may not fly older revisions on reuse flights for an overlap period.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 03/13/2017 10:26 AM
SpaceX has said that the COPV issue short term fix was done through changes to the loading process and that the long term fix was via hardware changes. Therefore, if Block 5 is the final iteration for the F9 system, then any hardware changes to the pressurization system will need to be rolled up into Block 5. This alone proves there will be Block 5 changes to the second stage and could very well explain why a new second stage structural test stand has appeared at McGreggor...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: MP99 on 03/13/2017 11:39 AM


Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing. And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume, you could probably fit in the existing fairing (though we already know SpaceX is building another fairing).

Who said "nothing is allowed to change"? Saying Block 5 is the last major variant of Falcon 9 is not the same as saying nothing (including the fairing) will change. At a minimum, I expect the fairing and probably the payload adapter to change. Also, we also know that SpaceX is pursuing some vertical integration capability.

If the fairing is volume limited, they might do something to integrate it more with their dispenser / adapter. Maybe hard points in the adapter which supports the fairing, which might allow more of the internal volume to be used.

I had considered that the adapter might be integrated with the fairing and retained through to deployment, but that would only make sense if they moved towards US recovery on those flights.

Cheers, Martin

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 03/13/2017 12:04 PM


Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing. And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume, you could probably fit in the existing fairing (though we already know SpaceX is building another fairing).

Who said "nothing is allowed to change"? Saying Block 5 is the last major variant of Falcon 9 is not the same as saying nothing (including the fairing) will change. At a minimum, I expect the fairing and probably the payload adapter to change. Also, we also know that SpaceX is pursuing some vertical integration capability.

If the fairing is volume limited, they might do something to integrate it more with their dispenser / adapter. Maybe hard points in the adapter which supports the fairing, which might allow more of the internal volume to be used.

I had considered that the adapter might be integrated with the fairing and retained through to deployment, but that would only make sense if they moved towards US recovery on those flights.

Cheers, Martin
I was thinking exactly that - a much lower cost and weight fairing that does not enclose the payload without touching it, but is more of a cover, anchored to the dispenser assembly.

I know they said they're done with S2, but the amount of launches is staggering, and the incentive is high..
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 03/13/2017 01:14 PM

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.


No, block changes cover the whole vehicle.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/13/2017 01:25 PM
To NASA two aspects of block 5 are important. One is the change to Merlin turbopumps to eliminate cracks. The other is a frozen design which relates to the whole rocket, not the booster. So I believe they will do one revision change.

They may or may not fly older revisions on reuse flights for an overlap period.

I can imagine SpaceX flying out a few missions with the current recovered cores then move right to everything being block 5 reuse after those start flying.

If they are going to be significantly easier to refurbish then reuse the older cores will be less cost effective.  Also, only way to get good with the block 5's is to re-use them.

Edit: When I worked in manufacturer the night mare was when you had more than 1 revision of any product in flow at a time.  It's possible but adds a lot of effort to keep things straight.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 03/13/2017 05:45 PM
Everything SpaceX has said so far leads me to believe that all reuse so far has been considered testing. SES-10 will be considered a reuse test as well, just as every many other flights have had operational missions and reuse testing together. Turn around operations have been exploratory and not aimed at speed or even accuracy primarily, but at discovery.

Once Block 5 is out, reuse become operational. At that point they will aim to reduce S1 production and refly where possible. They will then be testing and flushing out operational turnaround times and flushing out bugs in the process. Undoubtedly the contracts are setup with operational reuse in mind and it will no longer be up to the customer where their stage comes from.

We have never seen the whole F9 flow in operational mode at this point. If they can't start achieving 2 week turn around and regular reuse within a short time after B5 is flying, then I'll start to worry. Right now, they are still finishing putting all the pieces in place.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/13/2017 06:44 PM
Unlikely, but maybe still least unlikely, they have advanced the legs so much that they can do reentry without firing by using the legs partially deployed as aerobrakes and for a lifting trajectory.

Given that it almost looks like New Glenn will attempt this with the rudimentary wings maybe not too outlandish. It would explain a large jump in reusable performance.
This might also explain why falcon 9 will always have legs (it returns in earth atmosphere, they will use block 5 to develop leggy aerobraking) and cradle-landing will be restricted to ITS (required leg sizes don't yield enough aerobraking due to scaling issues).  The Mars lander might use the result of the leggy aerobraking developed on F9, although Mars atmosphere is thin enough that I'm not positive it's worth it there.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: butters on 03/13/2017 06:47 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jcc on 03/13/2017 07:07 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

That's what "search" is for.
Mainly, it will be to improve reliability, manufacturability and reuse.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: spacenut on 03/13/2017 07:14 PM
I tried the search, but it has it's limitations.  I too would like to know the block 5 performance gains.  I thought that they have already gone to full thrust engines.  I would assume it would be strengthening weak components, like the helium tanks on the second stage. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: fthomassy on 03/13/2017 07:23 PM
I tried the search, but it has it's limitations.  I too would like to know the block 5 performance gains.  I thought that they have already gone to full thrust engines.  I would assume it would be strengthening weak components, like the helium tanks on the second stage.
It's not always on NSF
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/13/2017 07:33 PM
I tried the search, but it has it's limitations.  I too would like to know the block 5 performance gains.  I thought that they have already gone to full thrust engines.  I would assume it would be strengthening weak components, like the helium tanks on the second stage.
It's not always on NSF
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5)

I love that page, i was looking at it a few weeks ago.  It's a wonderful table summarizing the evolution of the F9. 

Very impressive growth in capability.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 07:39 PM
I tried the search, but it has it's limitations.  I too would like to know the block 5 performance gains.  I thought that they have already gone to full thrust engines.  I would assume it would be strengthening weak components, like the helium tanks on the second stage.
It's not always on NSF
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Falcon_9_Block_5)

The highlighted part of the Wiki table is incorrect. The 7607 kN thrust is Block 5 at liftoff, and is not flying yet AFAIK. There is no Falcon upgrade that will have 8451 kN, that is the VACUUM thrust of the same vehicle that gets 7607 kN at sea level (plus error from multiple unit conversions with rounding). All this is obvious from the SpaceX Falcon 9 page:
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/13/2017 07:46 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

The performance improving changes that known for sure are the Merlin thrust upgrades (to 7607 kN at SL) and expected changes to the COPVs to allow rapid filling (which will lighten the upper stage).

There is a updated version of the fairing and of the landing legs coming. It's not clear if those are lighter for performance gains, but that seems likely.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 03/13/2017 08:20 PM
I heard a while back improvements for restartability after being roasted on reentry. I think it was Hans that mentioned it. Not sure what block it will show up in. Could be just better insulation of plumbing which might not require a block number to change.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JazzFan on 03/13/2017 08:48 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

The performance improving changes that known for sure are the Merlin thrust upgrades (to 7607 kN at SL) and expected changes to the COPVs to allow rapid filling (which will lighten the upper stage).

There is a updated version of the fairing and of the landing legs coming. It's not clear if those are lighter for performance gains, but that seems likely.

8,451 kN is a 24.2% increase from the initial full thrust capability. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: feynmanrules on 03/15/2017 09:40 PM

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.


and, and, and, and......

Yeah, and if a frog had wings

The bet would be straight up.  There is no weasling out with odds.  Either you put up or ....

And becoming the American Proton doesn't count.  That is a pyrrhic victory.

Lar is also discounting how market will change if SpaceX does what it intends.   The bet is that lowering launch costs will grow the launch market so that it's not just a few companies fighting for a fixed pie.   Lowering costs can help... maybe you'll get a lot more cube sats and more com sats.

Also SpX's own multi-thousand-sat venture...  intent here is to have a service in a much higher revenue/profit market that can leverage disruption.   Eg if their internet service can be upgraded 2x as fast as next comparable provider bc of launch costs...  other companies will have to upgrade more, launch more and the launch market grows.    Space tourism could also be a completely new and significant market created that is incredibly tiny today.   

Point is... if you increase the market growth rate, investments there will attract more capital bc it can support more competition.   

Disruptor companies sometimes market themselves in david-and-goliath ways.   It's mostly marketing tho.... investors don't typically pump in large sums hoping to capture 100% of a flat market.    They're fine with a nice chunk of an inflating one.   

If somehow an investment turns into a monopoly business then great but it's rarely the expectation outside of  cheap marketing from fan boys who love telling tales of good-vs-evil. ;)

In reality.... If spaceX "wins" then ULA should win too.   This isn't Highlander.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: smfarmer11 on 03/20/2017 03:28 PM
A partially redesigned fairing to better suit the deployment of the constellation would make economic sense if they could fit even one or two more satellites per launch. Since that would reduce the number of required launches around 10%.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: watermod on 03/20/2017 03:35 PM
A partially redesigned fairing to better suit the deployment of the constellation would make economic sense if they could fit even one or two more satellites per launch. Since that would reduce the number of required launches around 10%.

For the sat network why not just turn the question around - how can they make the whole faring end of the second stage rocket a specialized MIRV sort of dispenser.  Maybe not a pair of fairing but rather a dispenser cap that needs opening?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/20/2017 03:47 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

The performance improving changes that known for sure are the Merlin thrust upgrades (to 7607 kN at SL) and expected changes to the COPVs to allow rapid filling (which will lighten the upper stage).

There is a updated version of the fairing and of the landing legs coming. It's not clear if those are lighter for performance gains, but that seems likely.

8,451 kN is a 24.2% increase from the initial full thrust capability.

8,451 kN is NOT a real number. Elon tweeted "1.9 million lbf" and somebody converted that to kN, which is 8,451.62... but Elon was referring to the vacuum thrust of the vehicle that gets 7,607 kN at liftoff. Which is 1.85 million lbf. This is why rounding, unit conversion, dropping and adding significant figures, and conflating SL and Vac numbers is misleading.

Look at the published numbers here: http://www.spacex.com/falcon9
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Nomadd on 03/20/2017 04:43 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

The performance improving changes that known for sure are the Merlin thrust upgrades (to 7607 kN at SL) and expected changes to the COPVs to allow rapid filling (which will lighten the upper stage).

There is a updated version of the fairing and of the landing legs coming. It's not clear if those are lighter for performance gains, but that seems likely.

8,451 kN is a 24.2% increase from the initial full thrust capability.

8,451 kN is NOT a real number. Elon tweeted "1.9 million lbf" and somebody converted that to kN, which is 8,451.62... but Elon was referring to the vacuum thrust of the vehicle that gets 7,607 kN at liftoff. Which is 1.85 million lbf. This is why rounding, unit conversion, dropping and adding significant figures, and conflating SL and Vac numbers is misleading.

Look at the published numbers here: http://www.spacex.com/falcon9
Wikipedia depends on people like you to correct those things.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Toast on 03/20/2017 05:51 PM
Wikipedia depends on people like you to correct those things.

Agreed. Whenever you see something wrong on Wikipedia, don't complain, fix it. It doesn't take long to learn how, you can even use visual editors if you don't want to learn the markup. When I read this thread the other day, I went ahead and added the [citation needed] flag to that number, but I just went ahead and deleted it altogether today now that envy887 has tracked down the source for the 8,451 number.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: DOCinCT on 03/24/2017 08:16 PM
Was there a post somewhere in this thread about what is known about Block 5 upgrades and how they add up to impressive performance gains?

The performance improving changes that known for sure are the Merlin thrust upgrades (to 7607 kN at SL) and expected changes to the COPVs to allow rapid filling (which will lighten the upper stage).


There is a updated version of the fairing and of the landing legs coming. It's not clear if those are lighter for performance gains, but that seems likely.

8,451 kN is a 24.2% increase from the initial full thrust capability.
The major updates to the fairing are likely for recover-ability and a larger size with enhanced PAF for the Falcon Heavy.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Asmegin on 03/30/2017 11:28 AM
Didn't see this posted anywhere - sorry if it has been discussed.

Reddit user /em-power, who is a ex-SpaceX employee, has claimed that SpaceX has switched from welding to bolting the Octaweb.

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/62c5c6/f9_octawebs_not_being_welded_anymore/

He had previously posted the rumour with the following posts:

Quote
each octaweb takes about 3 months to go through the welding process from start to finish, there are MULTIPLE NDE checks at each step of the process'.

Quote
the octaweb team is typically 5-6 welders working day shift and 2-3 night shift. at any time there are about 5-6 octawebs in different stages of build, but each one spends roughly 3-4 months in that department from start to finish.


Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: spacenut on 03/30/2017 01:19 PM
What would the LEO payload be if they went expendable on a Block 5 F9 and FH.   Would FH do 60 or 70 tons, say if NASA needed a payload that heavy and could fit.  Seems like SpaceX can up their capabilities, but their fairing size could be larger.  They also are limited by the diameter of the vehicle. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Eagandale4114 on 03/31/2017 12:17 AM
Musk: New design coming for Grid Fin.  Will be largest titanium forging in the world.  Current Grid Fin is aluminum and gets so hot it lights on fire... which isn't good for reuse.

Seems like the fins will be a part of this upgrade.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ZachS09 on 03/31/2017 12:39 AM
Part of the answer to ChrisGebhardt's question during the SES-10 post-launch conference included the fact that the Block 5 F9's liftoff thrust will be 10% more than the Full Thrust's current level, which is 7,607.4 kilonewtons.

Adding 10% more (760.74 kilonewtons) to the above-mentioned number will result in 8,368.14 kilonewtons, or about 1,881,233 pounds of thrust.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: spacenut on 03/31/2017 02:07 AM
So that means 10% more payload for FH to LEO?  Then would FH get 60 tons to LEO in reusable mode?  What about expendable mode? 70-75 tons?  That could mean lots of heavy units for NASA's proposed moon orbiting station, without using the SLS. 

Several years ago when they were trying to figure out what to do after Shuttle, a lot of guys on this thread said 50 ton units to orbit would be optimal and cheaper with expendable rockets.  They were advocating Atlas V heavy, or Atlas V phase II, and Delta IV heavy with solids and cross feed to get to 50 tons.  Now SpaceX will soon do it with reusable boosters instead of expendable. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/31/2017 02:09 AM
I would assume the numbers on SpaceX's website (7607 kN, 54.4t for FH) are for Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 03/31/2017 03:02 AM
So that means 10% more payload for FH to LEO?  Then would FH get 60 tons to LEO in reusable mode?  What about expendable mode? 70-75 tons?  That could mean lots of heavy units for NASA's proposed moon orbiting station, without using the SLS. 

Several years ago when they were trying to figure out what to do after Shuttle, a lot of guys on this thread said 50 ton units to orbit would be optimal and cheaper with expendable rockets.  They were advocating Atlas V heavy, or Atlas V phase II, and Delta IV heavy with solids and cross feed to get to 50 tons.  Now SpaceX will soon do it with reusable boosters instead of expendable.
Nope that's not how it works. Extra thrust by itself only reduces gravity losses. For FH this helps a little more, cause the center booster can now throttle down sooner and save more fuel for after side booster separation. But that's not 10% more payload to LEO.
But the bottom line is only missions to the Moon/Mars and beyond actually need extra performance.
A risky enhancement would be to shutdown the 3 center booster engines equipped with restart capability, as the center booster could even shutdown all of its engine at some point if it had the ability to restart them right before side booster sep. Or equip even more center booster engine with restart capability and shut them down too. That would provide much of the cross feed benefits.
Perhaps, maybe, who knows, SX could do this for Red Dragon missions, as this would be solely SpaceX's risk.
Or after SX demonstrates thousands of M1D engines performing flawlessly.
In order to get more benefit from extra thrust, stages would have to be stretched, but the stages are already at the road transportability limit.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Toast on 03/31/2017 03:46 PM
I would assume the numbers on SpaceX's website (7607 kN, 54.4t for FH) are for Block 5.

According to a tweet from Elon, they've been flying with that thrust since late 2016 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/726650591359819776). I'm not a fan of taking his tweets as the gospel truth though, I'd love to get some info from some insiders on when that thrust upgrade went into effect and if it's the same thrust upgrade that's being discussed for Block 5, of if the Block 5 upgrade will be on top of that.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Tuts36 on 03/31/2017 04:29 PM
Question, would the 10% thrust upgrade Elon mentioned in the presser include the vacuum version on the second stage?  If so wouldn't that be an immense improvement?  Would that possibly explain why we are suddenly talking about S2 recovery again (even if he said it'd be a 'Hail Mary')?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 03/31/2017 08:36 PM
Steven Clarke: Do you have customers signed up for reused rocket flights? Where is FH?

Musk: Yes.  Excluded FH, there are three or four more this year signed up on contingency basis.  Think we'll see more customers in future.  FH sounded easy; actually no, crazy hard.  Required redesign of center core.  Done with testing.  Cores are in final prep.  Finished in 2-3 months.  Late summer launch.

What do people think about those center core changes?  Are those also part of Block 5?  Will every core have those changes, or will there be dedicated FH center cores that would never fly as a single stick?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Okie_Steve on 03/31/2017 10:23 PM
He also said FH was crazy hard, had to completely redesign the center core, and that the boosters were refurbs. That certainly seems to imply two core versions - F9/booster and FH/center, or vanilla and chocolate if you prefer.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 03/31/2017 10:53 PM
He also said FH was crazy hard, had to completely redesign the center core, and that the boosters were refurbs. That certainly seems to imply two core versions - F9/booster and FH/center, or vanilla and chocolate if you prefer.
That's not new. It has been known for a while that the FH core is a different (and stronger) version than F9/booster cores.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 04/01/2017 01:40 AM
Slight change of subject, if SpaceX is going to have 24 hour turnarounds for the F-9, something fairly drastic has to be done about the leg folding situation. Going to forged titanium grid fins is a seriously expensive, even extreme step. Now that we know the scale of the grid fin improvement, anyone have any ideas about  what an iteration on that scale would look like for the legs?

Matthew
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 04/01/2017 02:07 AM
Get rid of the legs. Use a mobile, teleoperated vehicle not unlike the folding jackscrew one soon to be deployed, but instead capture the landing vehicle at the attach points with inverse legs / "tulip" fixtures.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: CharlieWildman on 04/01/2017 02:13 AM
Slight change of subject, if SpaceX is going to have 24 hour turnarounds for the F-9, something fairly drastic has to be done about the leg folding situation. Going to forged titanium grid fins is a seriously expensive, even extreme step. Now that we know the scale of the grid fin improvement, anyone have any ideas about  what an iteration on that scale would look like for the legs?

Matthew

IMHO, landing back on the launch mount for RTLS is really the only way to achieve a true 24 hour turnaround.  No leg upgrade needed!  Ducking and running now...   :P
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Stan-1967 on 04/01/2017 02:32 AM
Question, would the 10% thrust upgrade Elon mentioned in the presser include the vacuum version on the second stage?  If so wouldn't that be an immense improvement?  Would that possibly explain why we are suddenly talking about S2 recovery again (even if he said it'd be a 'Hail Mary')?

If I recall correctly, somewhere in the post SES-10 press conference, E. Musk re-iterated that future F9 upperstage would still have a 210,000 lb Thrust rating.  So no increase to the M1-D Vac engine. 

As to S2 recovery, whatever they think they are going to try may have more to do with progress in controlled landing of the fairings.    S2 will never have the margins for the type of propulsive return that S1 accomplishes.  At best I think you can kill a bit of re-entry speed, & what does that buy them?  More likely you take the mass penalty on a TPS, shed your velocity on a shallow entry profile  & see if you can deploy a parachute to make a soft landing.

The "hail mary" football analogy is apt, as most "hail mary's" end up sailing out of the endzone, off the recievers fingertips, or into the hands of the defenders.   It will be damn hard to do a precision landing of a S2 onto any platform, bouncy castle, or mid air capture zone.   

But it is theoretically possible....
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 04/01/2017 06:19 AM
Question, would the 10% thrust upgrade Elon mentioned in the presser include the vacuum version on the second stage?  If so wouldn't that be an immense improvement?  Would that possibly explain why we are suddenly talking about S2 recovery again (even if he said it'd be a 'Hail Mary')?
The benefit of extra thrust on the 2nd stage is even less significant unless the stage were to be stretched, and this has been discussed ad nauseum, the stages are already as long as they can be due to road transport issues.
The faster the stage is going, the less its affected by gravity.
Gravity losses are the worst right at take off.
2nd stage recovery experiments can likely be done once Block V is flying, even if only on LEO missions. Worst case move booster recovery to ASDS and there will be plenty of performance left on the 2nd stage to re-enter.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: MP99 on 04/01/2017 07:27 AM


Musk: New design coming for Grid Fin.  Will be largest titanium forging in the world.  Current Grid Fin is aluminum and gets so hot it lights on fire... which isn't good for reuse.

Seems like the fins will be a part of this upgrade.

And contribute to an improvement in payload to orbit, too.

I'm not sure what the mechanism is for improving payload? A smaller "boostback" / targeting burn?

Transcript of the post launch press conference by reddit user robbak:

Part 1 (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/62i6m1/recap_of_the_elon_musk_and_martin_halliwell_press/dfmw95b/)

Part 2 (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/62i6m1/recap_of_the_elon_musk_and_martin_halliwell_press/dfnbl8s/)

Part 3 (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/62i6m1/recap_of_the_elon_musk_and_martin_halliwell_press/dfnbo83/)

Part 4 (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/62i6m1/recap_of_the_elon_musk_and_martin_halliwell_press/dfnbp3t/)
Quote
treyrey
Elon: "The new grid fins will be, should be capable of taking a scorching and being fine. And they'll also have significantly more control authority so that should improve the re-usability of the rocket. But we will actually improve the payload to orbit by being able to fly at a higher angle of attack, and use the aerodynamic elements of the rocket to effectively glide like a big cylinder, it actually does have a L/D (lift / drag ratio) of roughly 1 if flown at the right angle of attack, but you need the control authority, particularly pitch control authority, that's higher than we currently have to achieve that." (Youtube video 31:30)

Edit: I believe he said "big cylinder" not fixed wing, based on hi-res video by Travis
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 04/01/2017 09:35 AM
Slight change of subject, if SpaceX is going to have 24 hour turnarounds for the F-9, something fairly drastic has to be done about the leg folding situation. Going to forged titanium grid fins is a seriously expensive, even extreme step. Now that we know the scale of the grid fin improvement, anyone have any ideas about  what an iteration on that scale would look like for the legs?

Matthew

IMHO, landing back on the launch mount for RTLS is really the only way to achieve a true 24 hour turnaround.  No leg upgrade needed!  Ducking and running now...   
The 24 hour reflight will supposedly come at the end of 2017. I don't see that they will make changes to the pads in just a few months.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 04/01/2017 11:34 AM

I'm not sure what the mechanism is for improving payload? A smaller "boostback" / targeting burn?

Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent?  Perhaps they can maintain AoA without thrust vectoring, allowing the engine thrust to be used more effectively.  For example, the "free" lift generated by the high AoA would be used to gain altitude allowing the engine thrust to more directly contribute to delta v?

Such a scheme would have to trade off against the extra drag generated by the deployed grid fins. I've no idea if it's worth it.  But something like this would match more directly with Elon's statements about increased payload, which don't seem to have the qualifications you'd expect if he were talking about only "increased payload for RTLS launches".
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: douglas100 on 04/01/2017 12:30 PM

Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent? 

Doubt it. When Musk talks about extra control and higher angles of attack being flown due to the new grid fins, I think he's talking about descent only. Higher angle of attack would then create higher drag on entry and allow prop savings for both the entry and landing burns.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/01/2017 12:59 PM

Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent? 

Doubt it. When Musk talks about extra control and higher angles of attack being flown due to the new grid fins, I think he's talking about descent only. Higher angle of attack would then create higher drag on entry and allow prop savings for both the entry and landing burns.

Indeed. Much higher ascent drag and really not the right place, geometrically, to get the best attitude control during ascent. You want to keep that CoL behind the CoM for stability reasons. Plus, you really don't need much if any engine gimbal for a whole lot of control authority, which only improves as the stage mass decreases.

Another consideration is that if the fins deployed on ascent, you'd have shock impingement heating further down on the side of the S1 tanks, which would not be a good thing at all.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 04/01/2017 01:16 PM
Get rid of the legs. Use a mobile, teleoperated vehicle not unlike the folding jackscrew one soon to be deployed, but instead capture the landing vehicle at the attach points with inverse legs / "tulip" fixtures.

F9 looks somewhat naked without the legs. It's an important part of the aesthetic - and it brings tears to my eyes to note that good looks do not bring mass to orbit.

They've talked about reinforced, early-extendable legs to help with aerobreaking significantly before contact with the surface. Which is more useful, extra drag, or no leg mass and some practical BFR capture experience?

I'd go for the latter.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 04/01/2017 10:30 PM
Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent?

What would be the possible benefit of that? They add a lot of air resistance - great for descent, but there is zero benefit of doing that on the way up.

Perhaps they can maintain AoA without thrust vectoring, allowing the engine thrust to be used more effectively.  For example, the "free" lift generated by the high AoA would be used to gain altitude allowing the engine thrust to more directly contribute to delta v?

Thrust vectoring *is* the most efficient way to do anything at that altitude. The AoA flying observed in the latest launch was at the very edge of the atmosphere anyway. With aerodynamic surfaces, you *always* trade lift/control against air resistance. You do not get one without the other.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 04/01/2017 11:17 PM
So that means 10% more payload for FH to LEO?  Then would FH get 60 tons to LEO in reusable mode?  What about expendable mode? 70-75 tons?  That could mean lots of heavy units for NASA's proposed moon orbiting station, without using the SLS. 

Several years ago when they were trying to figure out what to do after Shuttle, a lot of guys on this thread said 50 ton units to orbit would be optimal and cheaper with expendable rockets.  They were advocating Atlas V heavy, or Atlas V phase II, and Delta IV heavy with solids and cross feed to get to 50 tons.  Now SpaceX will soon do it with reusable boosters instead of expendable.
Nope that's not how it works. Extra thrust by itself only reduces gravity losses. For FH this helps a little more, cause the center booster can now throttle down sooner and save more fuel for after side booster separation. But that's not 10% more payload to LEO.
But the bottom line is only missions to the Moon/Mars and beyond actually need extra performance.
A risky enhancement would be to shutdown the 3 center booster engines equipped with restart capability, as the center booster could even shutdown all of its engine at some point if it had the ability to restart them right before side booster sep. Or equip even more center booster engine with restart capability and shut them down too. That would provide much of the cross feed benefits.
Perhaps, maybe, who knows, SX could do this for Red Dragon missions, as this would be solely SpaceX's risk.
Or after SX demonstrates thousands of M1D engines performing flawlessly.
In order to get more benefit from extra thrust, stages would have to be stretched, but the stages are already at the road transportability limit.

Don't look backward for the bottom line, look forward:
Propellant deliveries
Bigelow modules
Satellite constellations (NG will be carrying 80 sats)
Reusable second stages
Other stuff we haven't though of yet

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 04/04/2017 02:56 PM

Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent?  Perhaps they can maintain AoA without thrust vectoring, allowing the engine thrust to be used more effectively.  For example, the "free" lift generated by the high AoA would be used to gain altitude allowing the engine thrust to more directly contribute to delta v?

Such a scheme would have to trade off against the extra drag generated by the deployed grid fins. I've no idea if it's worth it.  But something like this would match more directly with Elon's statements about increased payload, which don't seem to have the qualifications you'd expect if he were talking about only "increased payload for RTLS launches".

Bad idea on many levels. 

A.  long rockets don't fly at a AOA.  They try to avoid it.
b.  No reason to add more stress to the interstage
c.  Grids are behind the fairing.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OneSpeed on 04/05/2017 02:06 PM
A.  long rockets don't fly at a AOA.  They try to avoid it.

Whilst I agree that the grid fins would not work on ascent, SES-10 flew at a non-trivial angle of attack from the 1:40 mark.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 04/05/2017 02:58 PM
I have a question on the new grid fins. They will have significant more control authority. I have translated that in my mind as they are bigger. Was I wrong? Will they be bigger or only a different more efficient form?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 04/05/2017 03:03 PM
I have a question on the new grid fins. They will have significant more control authority. I have translated that in my mind as they are bigger. Was I wrong? Will they be bigger or only a different more efficient form?
IMO larger, and curved, since you can do that easily while forging, and it adds strength.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Tuts36 on 04/05/2017 03:45 PM
Elon Musk (answering Chris G's question at the post- SES 10 launch presser):

Quote
... Block 5 is more like version 2.5 of Falcon 9, is probably the most accurate way to think about it. And the most important part of block 5 will be operating the engines at their full thrust capability, which is about 7 or 8, almost 10% more than what what they currently run at. Number of other improvements to have reusability - goes to the forged titanium grid fins, so that'll bring in a number of factors - block 5, version 2.5 will also incorporate a number of elements that are important to NASA for human spaceflight.
  (emphasis mine)

I've been trying to find more information on what these changes are.  My limited NSF search skills brought me to some discussion of the merlins' stress cracking, and NASA wants those addressed before they start launching people. 

Are there any other (non-paperworky) major modifications required on NASA's behalf?  And regarding the engine cracking, has anybody here heard anything about whether or not the redesigned version has reached the test firing stage, etc?  And what are the odds that the changes made to solve the stress cracking also permitted that extra performance boost he mentions?

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 04/05/2017 04:07 PM
Elon Musk (answering Chris G's question at the post- SES 10 launch presser):

Quote
... Block 5 is more like version 2.5 of Falcon 9, is probably the most accurate way to think about it. And the most important part of block 5 will be operating the engines at their full thrust capability, which is about 7 or 8, almost 10% more than what what they currently run at. Number of other improvements to have reusability - goes to the forged titanium grid fins, so that'll bring in a number of factors - block 5, version 2.5 will also incorporate a number of elements that are important to NASA for human spaceflight.
  (emphasis mine)

I've been trying to find more information on what these changes are.  My limited NSF search skills brought me to some discussion of the merlins' stress cracking, and NASA wants those addressed before they start launching people. 

Are there any other (non-paperworky) major modifications required on NASA's behalf?  And regarding the engine cracking, has anybody here heard anything about whether or not the redesigned version has reached the test firing stage, etc?  And what are the odds that the changes made to solve the stress cracking also permitted that extra performance boost he mentions?
I think Musk's versioning system is designed very specifically to troll detractors...

I mean, there's literally exactly one instance of each new numbering scheme  :)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/05/2017 04:23 PM
I think Musk's versioning system is designed very specifically to troll detractors...

I mean, there's literally exactly one instance of each new numbering scheme  :)

Seems possible, there is no consistency with each versions naming.  I'm a little surprised he didn't adopt something more software based.  Like F9 v2.2.1

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 04/05/2017 04:48 PM
Elon Musk (answering Chris G's question at the post- SES 10 launch presser):

Quote
... Block 5 is more like version 2.5 of Falcon 9, is probably the most accurate way to think about it. And the most important part of block 5 will be operating the engines at their full thrust capability, which is about 7 or 8, almost 10% more than what what they currently run at. Number of other improvements to have reusability - goes to the forged titanium grid fins, so that'll bring in a number of factors - block 5, version 2.5 will also incorporate a number of elements that are important to NASA for human spaceflight.
  (emphasis mine)

I've been trying to find more information on what these changes are.  My limited NSF search skills brought me to some discussion of the merlins' stress cracking, and NASA wants those addressed before they start launching people. 

Are there any other (non-paperworky) major modifications required on NASA's behalf?  And regarding the engine cracking, has anybody here heard anything about whether or not the redesigned version has reached the test firing stage, etc?  And what are the odds that the changes made to solve the stress cracking also permitted that extra performance boost he mentions?
I think Musk's versioning system is designed very specifically to troll detractors...

I mean, there's literally exactly one instance of each new numbering scheme  :)
I think it's more that the internal numbering schemes are not meant for public consumption, and Elon struggles to come up with good "public facing" version numbers. In this interview he was trying to convey that "Block 5" wasn't a huge deal and was a minor change compared to "Falcon v2" (whatever that was).  He had similar problems with "Tesla Model 3" which most folks think is "the latest and greatest", with the model S and X being versions 1 and 2.  He's been taking pains on twitter to try to convey that Model 3 is in fact the weakest and cheapest, and that the Model S is in fact still the flagship of the fleet.  Of course, the Model S doesn't have a real version number either, since it is subject to the same continual refinement in manufacturing that SpaceX uses.  In the car world however we are a little bit used to the idea of using "model year" as a proxy, so the "2017 Model S" is more advanced than the "2016 Model S"... even though the real hardware change didn't happen synchronized to a model year.

Anyway: habitual weakness of Elon, along with scheduling.  The engineers know what he's taking about.  The rest of us will manage to survive somehow.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 04/05/2017 09:27 PM
I have a question on the new grid fins. They will have significant more control authority. I have translated that in my mind as they are bigger. Was I wrong? Will they be bigger or only a different more efficient form?
IMO larger, and curved, since you can do that easily while forging, and it adds strength.

There must be a reason for the oblong pentagon shape of the grid fins shown in the ITS video. Maybe they will look more like those.

Matthew
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/05/2017 09:33 PM
I have a question on the new grid fins. They will have significant more control authority. I have translated that in my mind as they are bigger. Was I wrong? Will they be bigger or only a different more efficient form?
IMO larger, and curved, since you can do that easily while forging, and it adds strength.

There must be a reason for the oblong pentagon shape of the grid fins shown in the ITS video. Maybe they will look more like those.

Matthew

To get them out in to the main airflow, past any skin effect? No point in having fins where they don't have much effect.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: hrissan on 04/06/2017 07:31 AM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cambrianera on 04/06/2017 11:22 AM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
http://www.ukra.org.uk/docs/newsletter/1098volume7issue3.pdf

Look at the "Super Roc Rocket Gliders" article.
Obviously on a model rocket you can't have active means to keep a unstable, shallow angle of attack, but a full size rocket with grid fins...
And yes, dissipating more energy in higher atmo @ lower density means less propellant for braking.
Maybe SpaceX already did partially that with SES-10.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/06/2017 11:51 AM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
Drag is proportional to velocity squared, not cubed.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 04/06/2017 12:00 PM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
Drag is proportional to velocity squared, not cubed.

Still a significant savings if the stage can fly a shallower angle.... we've established that there is no reasonable way to turn around aerodynamically with just grid fins that doesn't generate a lot of heat so shallower angle means droneship has to be farther downrange (unless you spend something on a boostback or "slowdown" burn but that would increase the angle of reentry I would think unless you got turned all the way around)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 04/06/2017 01:43 PM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
The stresses of interest are heating rates, not drag - and heating rate does scale with velocity cubed.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 04/06/2017 03:09 PM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
Drag is proportional to velocity squared, not cubed.
Drag force is ~v²
Drag power is ~v³
What matters is reducing drag power, which is why entry heating is ~v³.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 04/06/2017 03:43 PM
IMHO titanium grid fins are big deal if they allow more shallow angle of attack during descent.

I've drawn the picture for myself to think about reentry. Shallower path makes the stage to fly longer path @ each atmospheric density, thus arriving to next density with reduced speed. The difference to stresses should be dramatic, as the drag is proportional to v^3.
Drag is proportional to velocity squared, not cubed.
The force of drag is.  But power dissipated goes by v cubed I believe.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 04/06/2017 04:39 PM
I am not sure how the grid fins are currently fabricated, maybe egg crate style out of Al plate and then welded, maybe cut out of thick plate and then curved. In any case, I think forging will give them much more design freedom.  They will be able to taper the vanes to make the lighter and more aerodynamic. They will be able to thin the elements smoothly from the root where strength is needed to the tip where loads are much lighter.

The shape from the ITS video shows some of this. I am very interested to see what they come up with given the freedom forging will allow, though at great expense. Tooling costs make getting this right the first time very important. Any guesses on how much three+ square meter dies for a gigantic press are going to cost?

Matthew
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 04/06/2017 04:59 PM
I am not sure how the grid fins are currently fabricated, maybe egg crate style out of Al plate and then welded, maybe cut out of thick plate and then curved. In any case, I think forging will give them much more design freedom.  They will be able to taper the vanes to make the lighter and more aerodynamic. They will be able to thin the elements smoothly from the root where strength is needed to the tip where loads are much lighter.

The shape from the ITS video shows some of this. I am very interested to see what they come up with given the freedom forging will allow, though at great expense. Tooling costs make getting this right the first time very important. Any guesses on how much three+ square meter dies for a gigantic press are going to cost?

1/5 the cost of one new stage...  (that's 8MM USD) at most??? That's a WAG. But I can get plastic molds for 16 different LEGO compatible parts cut in China for under 2 k if I'm working with a supplier I already worked with who wants the molding business too. (I have friends that do this for a living)... not at all apples to apples but I can't imagine the DIE costing more than the press itself. The PRESS? Sure, that's possibly in the tens of millions.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 04/06/2017 05:07 PM


I am not sure how the grid fins are currently fabricated, maybe egg crate style out of Al plate and then welded, maybe cut out of thick plate and then curved.

I believe I've seen tooling marks on them in close-up photos that led me to believe they were CNC milled from block Al.

Of course, it's possible the CNC tool marks were from some post-processing clean up. But I don't recall ever seeing welding beads.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: virnin on 04/06/2017 07:56 PM


I am not sure how the grid fins are currently fabricated, maybe egg crate style out of Al plate and then welded, maybe cut out of thick plate and then curved.

I believe I've seen tooling marks on them in close-up photos that led me to believe they were CNC milled from block Al.

Of course, it's possible the CNC tool marks were from some post-processing clean up. But I don't recall ever seeing welding beads.

Welding beads would be the first thing I would machine away to reduce turbulence.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OneSpeed on 04/06/2017 09:59 PM
Welding beads would be the first thing I would machine away to reduce turbulence.

That would dramatically reduce the strength of any weld. CNC of the current design is more likely, and forging of the larger titanium design.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/06/2017 10:19 PM
Welding beads would be the first thing I would machine away to reduce turbulence.

That would dramatically reduce the strength of any weld. CNC of the current design is more likely, and forging of the larger titanium design.

In addition, some degree of turbulence is a good thing on lift-generating surfaces because it prevents flow separation. But more generally, look at the design of the fins themselves ... Even if they were utterly geometrically flawless, they should inherently produce fantastic turbulence already. You can't avoid it - too many individual cells, with flows through and around all of them, interesting shock waves, etc. 

Take a look here for more about grid (lattice) fins, generally:

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/weapons/q0261.shtml
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 04/07/2017 06:05 AM
Software engineer here, so please excuse my naive question. I have no idea what the differences between forging, welding and CNC are. I know roughly what the terms mean..

forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.

Ok, thats as far as my naive knowledge goes. How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 04/07/2017 06:14 AM
Software engineer here, so please excuse my naive question. I have no idea what the differences between forging, welding and CNC are. I know roughly what the terms mean..

forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.

Ok, thats as far as my naive knowledge goes. How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?

This mostly pertains to how you'd put the parts together, and their individual mechanical properties that come from it. I don't have a formal education in any of this, but to my understanding, forging introduces its own effects into the atomic structures of a work piece, as do welding and, to a lesser extent, CNC machining. If I recall correctly, CNC milling introduces the fewest defects or modifications to the crystal structure in the bulk material.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mikes on 04/07/2017 06:34 AM
Welding beads would be the first thing I would machine away to reduce turbulence.

That would dramatically reduce the strength of any weld. CNC of the current design is more likely, and forging of the larger titanium design.

If they already have an established CNC production method, why switch to forging?
From googling, I understand CNC milling of titanium has problems of heat transfer leading to combustion. Presumably choice of atmosphere (or maybe liquid medium?) can mitigate this.
Forging of such a complex structure would seem to me quite a challenge, but I have no experience with any of these processes (software guy!)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cambrianera on 04/07/2017 08:14 AM
Software engineer here, so please excuse my naive question. I have no idea what the differences between forging, welding and CNC are. I know roughly what the terms mean..

forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.

Ok, thats as far as my naive knowledge goes. How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?

The following indication are for complex shapes.
Forging: good use of material, high cost of tooling (dies and machinery), qualification of process important, medium/high workmanship required, working time short.
Welding: good use of material, low cost of tooling (jigs and machinery), qualification of process critical, medium/high workmanship required, working time long.
Machining: bad use of material, low/medium cost of tooling (jigs and machinery), qualification of process not important, low/medium workmanship required (CNC), working time long.
Added:
Casting: good use of material, low cost of tooling (dies and machinery), qualification of process important, low/medium workmanship required, working time short.

As per mech properties, see pic
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Rei on 04/07/2017 10:00 AM
Software engineer here, so please excuse my naive question. I have no idea what the differences between forging, welding and CNC are. I know roughly what the terms mean..

forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.

Ok, thats as far as my naive knowledge goes. How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?

The following indication are for complex shapes.
Forging: good use of material, high cost of tooling (dies and machinery), qualification of process important, medium/high workmanship required, working time short.
Welding: good use of material, low cost of tooling (jigs and machinery), qualification of process critical, medium/high workmanship required, working time long.
Machining: bad use of material, low/medium cost of tooling (jigs and machinery), qualification of process not important, low/medium workmanship required (CNC), working time long.
Added:
Casting: good use of material, low cost of tooling (dies and machinery), qualification of process important, low/medium workmanship required, working time short.

As per mech properties, see pic

You forgot extrusion  ;)  Grids can be extruded.  Of course, you'd need to be making a lot of fins to justify the tooling cost.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OneSpeed on 04/07/2017 11:31 AM
... How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?

This is an excellent question, but to attempt to answer it completely in this thread might raise alarm bells with the mods.

You forgot extrusion  ;)  Grids can be extruded.  Of course, you'd need to be making a lot of fins to justify the tooling cost.

You could also produce a rough billet with additive manufacturing, and forge it to the final (or near final) shape. To piggy back off cambrianera's post, the general trend is that castings are weaker than bar stock, which is weaker than a forging.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Proponent on 04/07/2017 11:39 AM
What matters is reducing drag power, which is why entry heating is ~v³.

The rate of heat production goes as v³, but the heat delivered to the spacecraft may not (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30573.msg1158194#msg1158194).  It's possible, for example, to be in a regime where the heat on the spacecraft goes as v8.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Dante2121 on 04/07/2017 11:56 AM

Any chance the new grid fins will pop open on ascent? 

Doubt it. When Musk talks about extra control and higher angles of attack being flown due to the new grid fins, I think he's talking about descent only. Higher angle of attack would then create higher drag on entry and allow prop savings for both the entry and landing burns.

Less fuel required for descent translates to more fuel available for payload to orbit = performance gains.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matt_ellis on 04/07/2017 04:03 PM
SpaceX are already using 3D printing for Super Draco engines ( http://www.spacex.com/news/2014/07/31/spacex-launches-3d-printed-part-space-creates-printed-engine-chamber-crewed ), so why not grid fins?  Draw in CAD, hit 'Print' and collect a few hours later.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 04/07/2017 04:05 PM
SpaceX are already using 3D printing for Super Draco engines ( http://www.spacex.com/news/2014/07/31/spacex-launches-3d-printed-part-space-creates-printed-engine-chamber-crewed ), so why not grid fins?  Draw in CAD, hit 'Print' and collect a few hours later.
Size.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 04/07/2017 05:16 PM
Software engineer here, so please excuse my naive question. I have no idea what the differences between forging, welding and CNC are. I know roughly what the terms mean..

forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.

Ok, thats as far as my naive knowledge goes. How is it really and what are the implications for the grid fins?

For all questions about manufacturing, youTube is your best pal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm7GLd0gvF4
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: koshvv on 04/07/2017 09:20 PM
forging: Make metal hot and beat it with a hammer until it has the shape you want.
welding: Take small pieces of metal and glue them together by melting some of the metal where it touches.
CNC: Take a large block of material and scrape off everything you dont want.
Forging improves crystalline structure and makes piece stronger.
Welding worsens crystalline structure in melted material and make piece prone to break at joints. Advanced welding techniques reduce or eliminate melting.
CNC does not affect it.

Quote
what are the implications for the grid fins?
Forged grid fins will be stronger than ones with same mass but made by other methods. So they can make either lighter or bigger grid fins.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/07/2017 01:53 PM
F9 Block 5 is turning into quite a capable machine...

Quote
In terms of trends, Shotwell sees a trend of a bifurcation in the market. She says there are a couple of satellite providers making their satellites bigger. “Some of that is basically putting a giant satellite on Falcon 9 with a lot of propellant, which would normally be a very heavy satellite, even potentially hard for Falcon 9 to throw. But when you put so much propellant on that satellite, they can get themselves to orbit even from a sub-synch. A couple of manufacturers are doing that … [sending] an over 7-ton satellite on Falcon 9 to GTO. We are seeing a number of satellite manufacturers come around and do that just because of the value proposition presented by Falcon 9.”

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: DOCinCT on 05/07/2017 04:33 PM
SpaceX are already using 3D printing for Super Draco engines ( http://www.spacex.com/news/2014/07/31/spacex-launches-3d-printed-part-space-creates-printed-engine-chamber-crewed ), so why not grid fins?  Draw in CAD, hit 'Print' and collect a few hours later.
Size.
And complexity.  The Main Oxidizer Valve body inside a Merlin 1-D took 1 to 2 days to print.  It is basically an shaped cylinder with some cross pieces.  I imagine the SuperDraco combustion chamber took a bit longer, and it's about the size of a canister vacuum cleaner.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 05/07/2017 07:05 PM
A batch of grid fins is exactly the kind of fab run that is ideal for forging.
Cannot get either cheaper or higher strength than that.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: livingjw on 05/07/2017 08:58 PM
Grid fins will most likely be forged to near net shape then CNC'd. Similar to this hip joint, but much larger forge.
They probably will start with a plate rather than the bar you see in the video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBkhomA128
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: LouScheffer on 05/08/2017 01:31 AM
F9 Block 5 is turning into quite a capable machine...

Quote
In terms of trends, Shotwell sees a trend of a bifurcation in the market. She says there are a couple of satellite providers making their satellites bigger. “Some of that is basically putting a giant satellite on Falcon 9 with a lot of propellant, which would normally be a very heavy satellite, even potentially hard for Falcon 9 to throw. But when you put so much propellant on that satellite, they can get themselves to orbit even from a sub-synch. A couple of manufacturers are doing that … [sending] an over 7-ton satellite on Falcon 9 to GTO. We are seeing a number of satellite manufacturers come around and do that just because of the value proposition presented by Falcon 9.”

http://interactive.satellitetoday.com/via/april-2017/shotwell-ambitious-targets-achievable-this-year/
Here's a numerical example to explain how this might work.  With the current incarnation of the Falcon 9, it looks like the heaviest payload it can get to a normal apogee GTO is about 6 tonnes.  This based on the observed orbit of the 5.5t Echostar 23.  The observed inclination reduction took about 200 m/s over a minimal GTO.  Raising the mass to 6t will use up this margin, so let's guess 6t to a normal apogee GTO.

Now examine the consequences of going up to 7.5 tonnes.  Assume the second stage masses 4.5t, fuel 11.5t, plus payload.  Then going from 6t to  7.5t will cost you 348*9.8*(ln(122/10.5) - ln(123.5/12) ), or about 414m/s.  The extra mass also loses about 22 m/s from the first stage, for a total deficit of roughly 438 m/s short of GTO.  Now how much fuel to you need to burn to get this back?  Bi-propellant liquid apogee motors have an ISP of about 320.  So you need to burn 1 tonne of fuel to get 320*9.8*ln(7.5/6.5) = 448 m/s.  Voila!  You now have a 6.5 tonne satellite in a normal apogee GTO.  You've gained 500 kg of performance.  (Note that this maneuver involves using the apogee motor at perigee.  Except for name confusion this is not a problem.)

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gospacex on 05/08/2017 12:48 PM
Basically you are saying that it makes sense to develop a kick stage (small third stage) for F9.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ChrML on 05/08/2017 12:51 PM
I'm pretty certain B5 will only focus on: Fly reliably and often.

No new features, no changes in performance (except to counter eventually added weight due to fairing reuse mm..).

SpaceX has good rockets, but have yet to prove they can fly as often as they say they will. Whatever is preventing them from flying that often, is what will be improved in B5.

- Less refurbish before reuse
- Parts that are easier to produce or easier to assemble
- Production and asaembly optimizations
- Fairing reuse
- Bugs and mishaps from B4

Then they need to fly that same design atleart 50 times the next 2 years to earn some money for ITS and be allowed to do manned missions.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/08/2017 12:57 PM
B5 will absolutely add performance. Block 5 figures are on the website now, and SpaceX has not approached those, yet. Thrust increases for certain.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Celestar on 05/08/2017 01:27 PM
Basically you are saying that it makes sense to develop a kick stage (small third stage) for F9.

That'd be fun. We could then be discussing how to land the kick stage ;)

Celestar

EDIT: Typo
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 05/08/2017 01:38 PM
B5 will absolutely add performance. Block 5 figures are on the website now, and SpaceX has not approached those, yet. Thrust increases for certain.

Website thrust figures are still 171,000lbf -- Block 5 was 190,000lbf, right?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: abaddon on 05/08/2017 02:15 PM
Basically you are saying that it makes sense to develop a kick stage (small third stage) for F9.
AIUI making the fuel tank bigger isn't particularly expensive, it's just something you need to plan for that's different from other LVs.  I guess as a downside it might make it harder to move off to another LV, but the practical difference between 6 and 7 tonnes doesn't seem to change the equation in that respect, you'd need to go to a Proton or Ariane V upper berth in either case.

What it means is some operators/manufacturers are aligning at least some of their designs with what Falcon 9 can provide.  The dual all-electric Boeing satellites (F9 has launched two) were an early example of that but haven't really made much headway.  This is another example.  Will be interesting to see if others follow suit.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: abaddon on 05/08/2017 02:17 PM
B5 will absolutely add performance. Block 5 figures are on the website now, and SpaceX has not approached those, yet. Thrust increases for certain.
Aren't those speculated to be Block 4 changes?  Meaning, the actual "full thrust" will come before the "finalized" Block 5 design flies.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Rebel44 on 05/08/2017 02:18 PM
B5 will absolutely add performance. Block 5 figures are on the website now, and SpaceX has not approached those, yet. Thrust increases for certain.

Website thrust figures are still 171,000lbf -- Block 5 was 190,000lbf, right?

You missed a 0 (number is for 1st stage)
Thrust at sea level: 7 607kN / 1 710000 lbf
1 710 000 / 9 = 190 000
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Toast on 05/08/2017 06:59 PM
Website thrust figures are still 171,000lbf -- Block 5 was 190,000lbf, right?

AFAIK Block 5 thrust numbers are still unknown.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 05/10/2017 04:18 PM
- Parts that are easier to produce or easier to assemble
- Production and asaembly optimizations

Actually, reuse makes these factors less important than for an expendable.  Expendable rockets need to be produced as cheaply as possible, as they can only be sold once.  A reusable rocket can be harder to assemble with parts that are more difficult/expensive to make.  Because that cost is amortized over many launches.

For example the new titanium grid fins are probably harder to make than the aluminum ones.  But since they won't slag on reentry, it's worth it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 05/10/2017 05:43 PM
- Parts that are easier to produce or easier to assemble
- Production and asaembly optimizations

Actually, reuse makes these factors less important than for an expendable.  Expendable rockets need to be produced as cheaply as possible, as they can only be sold once.  A reusable rocket can be harder to assemble with parts that are more difficult/expensive to make.  Because that cost is amortized over many launches.

For example the new titanium grid fins are probably harder to make than the aluminum ones.  But since they won't slag on reentry, it's worth it.

Especially if they save time during post-launch turnaround.  Inspecting grid fins and determining if they needed to be replaced each launch adds time... as does replacing them.  Forged titanium could be an install once and forget item.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Dante2121 on 05/12/2017 03:03 AM
- Parts that are easier to produce or easier to assemble
- Production and asaembly optimizations

Actually, reuse makes these factors less important than for an expendable.  Expendable rockets need to be produced as cheaply as possible, as they can only be sold once.  A reusable rocket can be harder to assemble with parts that are more difficult/expensive to make.  Because that cost is amortized over many launches.

For example the new titanium grid fins are probably harder to make than the aluminum ones.  But since they won't slag on reentry, it's worth it.

Especially if they save time during post-launch turnaround.  Inspecting grid fins and determining if they needed to be replaced each launch adds time... as does replacing them.  Forged titanium could be an install once and forget item.

Or even detach after x uses and put on a new rocket
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/12/2017 06:02 PM
My burning question about refurbished boosters is along the lines of "once it is refurbished once, does it require the same level of refurbishment again for its third flight?".  My completely uninformed speculation is that refurbishing a block 3 makes it into something else entirely, not block 3 anymore, and not block 4, and I don't want to muddy the waters any further so I'll leave it at that, "something else".  Once it is a "something else" version, could it be that the refurb is now down near the fabled "gas-n-go" levels?  I think they will still not be there until the first block 5.3 (the .3 is intended to indicate the third flight of a true block 5-off-the-assembly-line booster, not a revision within the block), but that we may be seeing the first hints of that in the reflown boosters.  I will be watching 1029.2/BulgariaSat with great interest, 1029.3 could be very informative.  It's almost a shame that 1021.2/SES-10 got to retire (visiting this core wherever it ends up is now officially on my bucket list, however). 

I also think that the FH side boosters are intended to fly several times in their current configs ("something else"), and I suspect that we will see some very fast turnaround times on those, and higher flight counts than the other reflown block 3 cores.

To keep this all more closely related to the block 5 OP, one thing I haven't heard much about is that block 5 could be the lightest core yet.  They have launched enough times, and assumingly kept the stages heavily instrumented, and overbuilt in some ways.  Wouldn't block 5 be the perfect time to finally strip out some of the excess and cut down to "fighting weight" so to speak?  The data has been gathered, the results are in, the design is more or less "locked" in block 5 right?  I'm not proposing drastic cuts to structural margins, but there must be something they can trim to eke a little more pmf rather than just relying on thrust increases or prop densification.

I think what I'm proposing here is that similar to Intel, block 4 may be a "tick" cycle (increase performance/capability) and block 5 may be the "tock" (refinement/streamline) cycle.  Did we already see this with 1.1 -> 1.2 and didn't realize it? Or were there simply too many changes all at once to put labels like that on those revisions?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gospacex on 05/12/2017 06:12 PM
You are over-analyzing it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/12/2017 06:26 PM
Isn't that what we do here?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Kansan52 on 05/12/2017 06:45 PM
My burning question ...

My uninformed opinion, they do what they need for a successful refurb while applying lessons learned. No block numbering.

Block 5 likely is applying weight reduction but we may never know.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 05/12/2017 06:46 PM
My burning question about refurbished boosters is along the lines of "once it is refurbished once, does it require the same level of refurbishment again for its third flight?".  My completely uninformed speculation is that refurbishing a block 3 makes it into something else entirely, not block 3 anymore, and not block 4, and I don't want to muddy the waters any further so I'll leave it at that, "something else".  Once it is a "something else" version, could it be that the refurb is now down near the fabled "gas-n-go" levels?  I think they will still not be there until the first block 5.3 (the .3 is intended to indicate the third flight of a true block 5-off-the-assembly-line booster, not a revision within the block), but that we may be seeing the first hints of that in the reflown boosters.  I will be watching 1029.2/BulgariaSat with great interest, 1029.3 could be very informative.  It's almost a shame that 1021.2/SES-10 got to retire (visiting this core wherever it ends up is now officially on my bucket list, however). 

I also think that the FH side boosters are intended to fly several times in their current configs ("something else"), and I suspect that we will see some very fast turnaround times on those, and higher flight counts than the other reflown block 3 cores.

To keep this all more closely related to the block 5 OP, one thing I haven't heard much about is that block 5 could be the lightest core yet.  They have launched enough times, and assumingly kept the stages heavily instrumented, and overbuilt in some ways.  Wouldn't block 5 be the perfect time to finally strip out some of the excess and cut down to "fighting weight" so to speak?  The data has been gathered, the results are in, the design is more or less "locked" in block 5 right?  I'm not proposing drastic cuts to structural margins, but there must be something they can trim to eke a little more pmf rather than just relying on thrust increases or prop densification.

I think what I'm proposing here is that similar to Intel, block 4 may be a "tick" cycle (increase performance/capability) and block 5 may be the "tock" (refinement/streamline) cycle.  Did we already see this with 1.1 -> 1.2 and didn't realize it? Or were there simply too many changes all at once to put labels like that on those revisions?

This is just educated speculation, nothing more. I won't even put hedging words since all conclusions are clearly my (rocket chair engineer) own.

There's a huge gap between what SpaceX knows a Block III strictly needs in refurb vs what they did on the SES10 booster and what they're doing for the next few ones. They're playing it ultra safe. They replaced everything that was cheap or somewhat cheap just in case.
They will gradually reduce blind replacement of more expensive items where margins are big enough towards a more economical process.
There's also the learning curve where the people doing the refurb work just need less time to get the same work done with practice.
If refurb costs <20% of a new booster, its an awesome return for SpaceX on the first few ones.
Since Block IV aren't flying yet (to the best of our knowledge), we can probably forget about such changes in current refurb efforts.
Block IV redesigns are likely the lowest hanging fruits that was easiest to complete in shorter time, while Block V the more complex changes that requires more verification and testing.
So far the word on the M1D thrust is that SpaceX is just sandbagging the performance and Block IV and V thrust upgrades are not the result of changes, but just that so far there's enough performance and they don't want to risk in flight failures regardless of the engines being able to handle Block V thrust in testing.

The number of recovered boosters that are safe to refurb and fly is higher than the number of reflights signed up.
The BulSat launch asked for the Iridium booster cause it had a fairly gentle recovery, which makes the customer more comfortable.
Do not discount customer psychology, specially when it comes to the customers that don't have expert rocket engineers in their payroll.
Its likely customers will ask for boosters launched into LEO, specially the ones launched onto an ASDS (even more gentle re-entry and landing).
Once enough successful reflights, customers will be increasingly confident in just taking SpaceX's words for it.
Insurance money is never the same as the payload in orbit producing its full revenue, and satellite operators aren't known for being as adventurous as SpaceX.

So I am predicting SpaceX will only fly the same boosters 3 or more times with Block IV, even then the goal of 10 flights will likely only be achieved with Block V.
Lots of boosters landed in hot GTO launches will be remanufactured into FH boosters.

The tick / tock thing doesn't make much sense if the deal is simply SpaceX gradually opening up the throttle rather than having to make changes for the higher thrust.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 05/12/2017 07:26 PM
Isn't that what we do here?

Yes it is.

Many of the known Block 5 changes seem to be in the category of bolt or engine changes.  I've wondered could a Block 3 or 4 essentially become a Block 5 with an engine change and the other bits added on?  (For example the FH side boosters.)

If not then I can see a limited life for any recovered Block 3 and 4 vehicles.  If Block 5's are significantly easier to refurbish it will likely be to expensive to do anything but re-fly the Block 5's.

As for Block 4, how many flights is that version going to have, 1 or 2?  Either the window for Block 4 is shrinking or the Block 5's are further away than we think.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/12/2017 07:47 PM
I'm wondering if "Block 4" hasn't already flown, during the NROL 76 launch.  That rocket used a new type second stage that performed a long coast exercise after NROL 76 deployment.  The next Falcon 9 slated to launch Inmarsat 5 F4 appears to use the same type second stage (based on a low resolution image of the static test - I'll withhold final judgement until launch day). 

Perhaps "Block 4" uses this improved second stage while "Block 5" will incorporate the improved first stage to boost this "Block 4" second stage.  Guessing, of course.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/12/2017 07:51 PM
As for Block 4, how many flights is that version going to have, 1 or 2?  Either the window for Block 4 is shrinking or the Block 5's are further away than we think.

I didn't quite get to this point in my first post,  but I've been wondering the same thing, it basically boils down to these two options right?  This was part of my tick/tock speculation, is block 4 the initial implementation to these bolted vs welded structures, and block 5 the refinement?  Might a block 4 be refurbishable/upgradeable into a block 5?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/12/2017 07:59 PM
Re: EdKyle,  I've wondered whether US blocks/versions are different than cores.  I don't know enough about integrating rockets, stages and payloads to know whether this is possible or even likely, but it seems as long as certain requirements are met, there could also be "block" type changes in the US that could fly on different cores, thereby allowing an incremental phase in of the different versions, even allowing states to be upgraded from one core level to the next.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 05/12/2017 08:34 PM
Hypothetically, if NROL-76 were the first Block IV launch (by request of NRO), could the NRO impose a gag on SpaceX so they would only acknowledge a few launches later that somewhere over the last few launches F9 were upgrades to Block IV and that they couldn't say exactly when...
Is there any logic in this ? Would the NRO impose such obfuscation of information to try to create as much uncertainty as possible on the launch mass of the payload ?
Just thinking out loud...
I think it was more likely NROL-76 was the pathfinder of a smaller payload that will be launched in multiples after successfully tested.
Perhaps a 2-3 ton launch mass. Would that justify the extra performance seen ?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Brovane on 05/14/2017 04:01 AM
I'm wondering if "Block 4" hasn't already flown, during the NROL 76 launch.  That rocket used a new type second stage that performed a long coast exercise after NROL 76 deployment.  The next Falcon 9 slated to launch Inmarsat 5 F4 appears to use the same type second stage (based on a low resolution image of the static test - I'll withhold final judgement until launch day). 

Perhaps "Block 4" uses this improved second stage while "Block 5" will incorporate the improved first stage to boost this "Block 4" second stage.  Guessing, of course.

 - Ed Kyle

The new type of 2nd stage, could simply have been the testing of an "add-on" kit to allow a long coast added to the 2nd stage for direct to GSO insertion.   
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/14/2017 04:09 AM
Hypothetically, if NROL-76 were the first Block IV launch...  Would that justify the extra performance seen ?

You completely lost me. Where have you seen any indication that the flight had extra performance?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/14/2017 04:28 AM
Block 5 will have reusable TPS (my guess: carbon-carbon at least for parts of it) and legs that can fold back (i.e. without needing to be removed).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/14/2017 07:54 AM
Block 5 will have reusable TPS (my guess: carbon-carbon at least for parts of it) and legs that can fold back (i.e. without needing to be removed).

For those that haven't seen it, this is from Tom Mueller's recent talk (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42923.0).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FishDaddyFlex on 05/16/2017 02:17 AM
I cant seem to find it anywhere, but did Elon once say that Block V would enable return to launch site landings after many GTO launches?  For some reason I thought he said that early on in a tweet.  Perhaps it would have enabled a drone ship landing of today's launch?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 05/16/2017 01:53 PM
Hypothetically, if NROL-76 were the first Block IV launch...  Would that justify the extra performance seen ?

You completely lost me. Where have you seen any indication that the flight had extra performance?
I was observed that the NROL-76 mission had an unusually short S1 burn. Either a tiny payload or more thrust ?????????
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: edkyle99 on 05/16/2017 02:06 PM
I'm wondering if "Block 4" hasn't already flown, during the NROL 76 launch.  That rocket used a new type second stage that performed a long coast exercise after NROL 76 deployment.  The next Falcon 9 slated to launch Inmarsat 5 F4 appears to use the same type second stage (based on a low resolution image of the static test - I'll withhold final judgement until launch day). 

Perhaps "Block 4" uses this improved second stage while "Block 5" will incorporate the improved first stage to boost this "Block 4" second stage.  Guessing, of course.

 - Ed Kyle

The new type of 2nd stage, could simply have been the testing of an "add-on" kit to allow a long coast added to the 2nd stage for direct to GSO insertion.   
It was more than that.  There were physical changes visible on the outside of the stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/16/2017 04:38 PM
Hypothetically, if NROL-76 were the first Block IV launch...  Would that justify the extra performance seen ?

You completely lost me. Where have you seen any indication that the flight had extra performance?
I was observed that the NROL-76 mission had an unusually short S1 burn. Either a tiny payload or more thrust ?????????

It was most likely a small payload.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: biosehnsucht on 05/16/2017 11:15 PM
Per a couple of posters on the r/spacex subreddit (who have heard from people who should know but can't out their sources, of course) supposedly the last two launches were Block 3 first stage, Block 4 second stage.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AC in NC on 05/16/2017 11:36 PM
Per a couple of posters on the r/spacex subreddit (who have heard from people who should know but can't out their sources, of course) supposedly the last two launches were Block 3 first stage, Block 4 second stage.

How close can Block 5/Block 5 get to "Direct to GSO" from a practical standpoint with respect to a deltaV deficit?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/17/2017 12:28 AM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Mongo62 on 05/17/2017 01:10 AM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.

This is what I am expecting as well.

Block 4 : most of the remaining payload improvement, some of the remaining reusability improvement.

Block 5 : some payload improvement, most of the reusability improvement.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: deruch on 05/17/2017 01:14 AM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.
(pure speculation) Block 5 hardware/design changes may also allow a return to fast load-n-go launches, meaning that they would re-gain some performance through increased LOX load (due to lower avg. temp) that they lost after changes made post AMOS-6 mishap.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Craftyatom on 05/17/2017 03:00 AM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.

Entirely possible, since we know NASA has some small human-rating issues with the current F9.  May be that Block 4 is the last big performance upgrade and Block 5 addresses reusability/longevity and NASA's human-rating concerns.  This lets SpaceX get characteristic data on any major changes before implementing the "final" iteration.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vaporcobra on 11/18/2017 06:23 AM
This posting for Metallic Heat Shield Manufacturing Engineers points to the use of Iconel, Haynes (titanium alloys), titanium, and refractory metals in general, particularly for "increased reuasability and refurbishment." (http://www.spacex.com/careers/position/213170) Block 5 is an obvious recipient, Dragon 2 and BFR/BFS also a more distant possibility.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: hkultala on 11/18/2017 06:30 AM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.

If the heat shielding is improved, smaller re-entry burn can be used, saving more fuel to the ascent phase, increasing reusable payload.

Payload without reuse would not be increased.


But I thought block 4 was mostly the titanium grid fins and has already flown? And the recently-test-exploded engine was the more powerful engine for block 5?

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 11/18/2017 02:38 PM
If Block 4 is the thrust upgrade then the performance of Block 5 shouldn't be much better than Block 4.

If the heat shielding is improved, smaller re-entry burn can be used, saving more fuel to the ascent phase, increasing reusable payload.

Payload without reuse would not be increased.


But I thought block 4 was mostly the titanium grid fins and has already flown? And the recently-test-exploded engine was the more powerful engine for block 5?

I maybe mistaken, but I thought Block 4 was the bolted Octoweb and a partial thrust increase and not much else.

Not certain but I thought the titanium grid fins were Block 5 only.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 11/18/2017 02:51 PM
I maybe mistaken, but I thought Block 4 was the bolted Octoweb and a partial thrust increase and not much else.

Not certain but I thought the titanium grid fins were Block 5 only.

My understanding is that Block 5 is a collection of a number of improvements, but that some of those improvements are being tested or used on Block 3 & 4 too. But Block 5 will bring them all together, probably add some things that could not be tested or used on Blocks 3 or 4, plus add crew certification for the entire system.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 11/18/2017 02:53 PM
But I thought block 4 was mostly the titanium grid fins and has already flown?

The Titanium grid fins have only flown once, and they flew on the last Block 3 first stage. So they’re not a Block 4 upgrade.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/19/2017 07:43 PM
But I thought block 4 was mostly the titanium grid fins and has already flown?

The Titanium grid fins have only flown once, and they flew on the last Block 3 first stage. So they’re not a Block 4 upgrade.
Although Titanium has come down in price a lot it's still much more expensive than Aluminum. You'd use if it you expect to run hot (IE a lot of the ablative protection is worn off on every flight) or you want to radically lower maintenance between flights.  However to make that worthwhile you need the design to survive for enough reuses, and that's not happening at present.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 11/19/2017 08:15 PM
You'd use if it you expect to run hot (IE a lot of the ablative protection is worn off on every flight) or you want to radically lower maintenance between flights.

Which describes the reuse goals of the Block 5 - to radically lower the maintenance between flights compared to Block 3/4.

Quote
However to make that worthwhile you need the design to survive for enough reuses, and that's not happening at present.

For the aluminum version sure, but the one use of the titanium fins looked successful.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/19/2017 08:54 PM
Block 5 will have reusable TPS (my guess: carbon-carbon at least for parts of it) and legs that can fold back (i.e. without needing to be removed).

For those that haven't seen it, this is from Tom Mueller's recent talk (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42923.0).
Interesting find. Stuff like
RP-1 is now down from $8/gal to more like $2/gal for SX
Block5 is going with metallic TPS
Legs will fold/unfold rather than be removed.
Still keen on F9 sized US reuse but definitely not for all missions
500Kw of energy to make all the propellant on Mars to get home (I think that's generating capacity, not total energy needed IOW 2.5x bigger than the ISS PV array, without allowing for the greater distance from the Sun).
NTR can "Double performance" to Mars. Not sure what that means? Isp should be a bit more than double. Payload?
If BFS can put 100 tonnes on Mars it could put 20 tonnes to Jupiter, without years long gravity assists.

Merlin uses "face shutoff" valves to with fuel valve opening slaved to pressure rise from LOX flow. Fuel valve can't open before LOX and (presumably) can't shut before LOX flow dies, stopping the thrust cold.  BTW face shutoff should be quite a lot easier on a Pintle injector because you can have fluid flow right up to the face. Normal design have lots of injectors where you can cut off flow to them as a group, but there's still a bunch of cavities behind the injectors (the propellant "galleries") with vaporizing LOX and RP-1, potentially ready to form a cloud of explosive vapor for a hard start. The joker with other designs is the unpredictable LOX valve behavior, dependent on hardware temperature, humidity etc.   

SX are working with NASA on Kilopower nuclear electric reactor. They'd like a 1MW unit, but they'll take what they can get.
Long term he thinks fisson is the way to go for Mars power needs.

Basically Musk looks at problems from first principles. The simple question he asks is "If this is the physics limit, and this is what we are doing now, what stops us from getting X times closer to the physics limit?"


Incidentally metallic TPS is has always been viewed as a bit of a mixed bag. The "Metal is more robust" meme sounds good but superalloys are heavy (AFAIK only Beryllium is  both less dense than Aluminum and has a much higher melting temperature), so designers have used it "foils," where it's no longer a thick rugged section but in material not much thicker than baking foil, which is not very impact resistant.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/19/2017 09:08 PM
You'd use if it you expect to run hot (IE a lot of the ablative protection is worn off on every flight) or you want to radically lower maintenance between flights.

Which describes the reuse goals of the Block 5 - to radically lower the maintenance between flights compared to Block 3/4.

Quote
However to make that worthwhile you need the design to survive for enough reuses, and that's not happening at present.

For the aluminum version sure, but the one use of the titanium fins looked successful.
I was unclear. By "enough reuses" I meant of the stage

If the statement that Ti fins have only been used once is correct, and SX are at present staying with Al grids and ablative covering that suggests (in usual SX SOP) that that combo is (mostly) good enough to get the job done for now. IOW barring a really hard mission (high mass, GTO trajectory) they (or rather their ablative coating) will survive the life of the stage.

Obviously if you want to hit that 24 hour refurb time you want something much more low maintenance, unless you're happy to have 2 sets of fins, which you swap over and refurb off line. However that doesn't eliminate the problem that you are still refurbing them in the first place, so still have staff involved.

Likewise if block 5 delivers the sort of reuse numbers people are hoping for the the extra cost of mfg in Titanium (because AFAIK all Ti mfg routes are more difficult than Aluminum due to Ti's properties) is cancelled out by the more or less zero maintenance ruggedness of the material for anything less than a worst case payload mass and trajectory.

I expect Ti fins will be SOP for Block 5 and beyond.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: biosehnsucht on 11/21/2017 02:57 AM
I suspect the simplest answer is simply they have a stack of Aluminum fins and they work, so they're going to use them until they're used up.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/21/2017 07:21 AM
I suspect the simplest answer is simply they have a stack of Aluminum fins and they work, so they're going to use them until they're used up.
Partly that, but also the life of the current generation booster stage is not long enough to justify Ti as well.

I expect once Block 5 arrives Aluminum grid fins will be obsolete, not because they can't do the job, but because of the work needed to check/fix if they are OK for the next flight.

The goal is "Management by exception." IOW the fin tells the refurb crew "I am marginal/failed," and they decide wheather to scrap it or retain for maybe low stress launches. This is a very radical departure from the classic "Check absolutely everything, then check it again" philosophy that is SOP for most LV's.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 11/21/2017 07:51 AM
Partly that, but also the life of the current generation booster stage is not long enough to justify Ti as well.

Why would there be a correlation between the life of the booster and Ti grid fins? If they scrap the booster, they don't have to throw away the fins...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Prettz on 11/21/2017 01:19 PM
Partly that, but also the life of the current generation booster stage is not long enough to justify Ti as well.

Why would there be a correlation between the life of the booster and Ti grid fins? If they scrap the booster, they don't have to throw away the fins...
They may be dealing with the risk of losing a booster during landing; don't want to lose your only set of Ti fins just because a Block 3 booster was lost. At least that's been my explanation thus far. If they keep using aluminum fins into 2018, then I won't know what to think.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: nacnud on 11/21/2017 03:38 PM
Maybe Al fins are good enough for low energy returns where the stage can be reused and for high energy returns the block 3 stage gets too toasted anyway. So perhaps see Ti fins on block 5 high energy returns first.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 11/21/2017 04:11 PM
I'm posting this here: SpaceX aims to follow a banner year with an even faster 2018 launch cadence (http://spacenews.com/spacex-aims-to-follow-a-banner-year-with-an-even-faster-2018-launch-cadence/)

Lot's of interesting information about Block 5, but also BFR and Raptor. There should be a general SpaceX thread for broad interviews like this one.

Edit: Already posted in the Manifest Updates and Discussion Thread  (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43418.msg1752099#msg1752099)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 11/21/2017 05:09 PM
There should be a general SpaceX thread for broad interviews like this one.

You mean something like General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 14) (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41018.0)?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 11/21/2017 05:30 PM
There should be a general SpaceX thread for broad interviews like this one.

You mean something like General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 14) (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41018.0)?
I considered that one. But Raptor and BFR does not fit there either.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/21/2017 07:08 PM
Partly that, but also the life of the current generation booster stage is not long enough to justify Ti as well.

Why would there be a correlation between the life of the booster and Ti grid fins? If they scrap the booster, they don't have to throw away the fins...
Why waste money on a sub system that can outlast the vehicle it's mounted on?

F9 Block 4 seems to be good for a life of 3 launches.  Shotwell is saying Blk 5 will be good for 10. Titanium is much harder (and more costly) to machine. The vehicle has to last longer to justify that. Likewise eliminating inspection and/or maintenance also shifts the balance to Titanium.

Regarding Shotwells interview I think the most interesting things were the that Raptor on F9 is not going to happen and F9 US recovery will not really be recovery but more to try and examine what damage is done to better inform the design of the BFS/BFR
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 11/21/2017 07:47 PM
Why waste money on a sub system that can outlast the vehicle it's mounted on?

Every component has a different lifetime, so it doesn't matter if the titanium grid fins last beyond the life of the first booster they are attached to because there will be plenty more components (Merlin engines as more expensive items) that will also be transferred from the booster body after it has reached the end of it's useful life.

Quote
F9 Block 4 seems to be good for a life of 3 launches.  Shotwell is saying Blk 5 will be good for 10. Titanium is much harder (and more costly) to machine.

Actually the titanium grid fins are forgings, not machined. Both are expensive and hard, but just wanted to point that out.

Quote
The vehicle has to last longer to justify that. Likewise eliminating inspection and/or maintenance also shifts the balance to Titanium.

I was just reading about the first A380 that was going to be put into flyable storage, and they were talking about how most of the value of the aircraft was in it's engines, since they can be pulled and used on another aircraft. So using commercial aircraft as analogies, there will be lots of parts that will move around onto new and used boosters. Titanium grid fins are just one of the parts.

Something else to keep in mind is that it probably matters to the Falcon 9 control software whether the aluminum grid fins are used or the titanium ones, and history is littered (literally) with hardware that failed because updates were not done properly. So standardizing on one type of control surface likely makes a lot of sense, and not having to replace them all the time would likely be the least expensive option too.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Prettz on 11/21/2017 08:07 PM
Why waste money on a sub system that can outlast the vehicle it's mounted on?
The aluminum fins last for one (1) mission before needing refurbishment. The titanium fins never need any; they'll outlast every booster they're ever attached to. That math doesn't work out, so there must be other considerations.

Regarding Shotwells interview I think the most interesting things were the that Raptor on F9 is not going to happen and F9 US recovery will not really be recovery but more to try and examine what damage is done to better inform the design of the BFS/BFR
We already knew there wasn't going to be a Raptor upper stage, though. What I thought was interesting is that this first FH mission will be the only one to use non-Block 5 boosters. These side boosters definitely will not be going on another flight. Also the first block 5 flight pushed further back, now the end of Q1.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 11/21/2017 11:37 PM
Partly that, but also the life of the current generation booster stage is not long enough to justify Ti as well.

Why would there be a correlation between the life of the booster and Ti grid fins? If they scrap the booster, they don't have to throw away the fins...
Why waste money on a sub system that can outlast the vehicle it's mounted on?...
You're begging the question. It's not a waste of money.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 11/21/2017 11:46 PM
You'd use if it you expect to run hot (IE a lot of the ablative protection is worn off on every flight) or you want to radically lower maintenance between flights.

Which describes the reuse goals of the Block 5 - to radically lower the maintenance between flights compared to Block 3/4.

We have no real insight into the costs.

It doesn't need to get very expensive for the labour of a guy spending a week sandblasting/recoating the fins to be cheaper than the cost of shiny new titanium fins.
If the labour costs $5K, and the forged Ti finset 250K, ...

It wouldn't even slow down the flow perhaps as the fins don't have to go back on a reflight.

For the case of one or two reuses per stage, especially as they have quite a lot of nonreflown stages to pull parts off if they choose, light repairs could be significantly cheaper.

Or perhaps they've just found something more productive in the future for their Ti forging of large billets capabilities to do, and they'd rather have the few guys experienced in that area do that, rather than 'fix' what they now realise is a problem that now doesn't seem as bad once they've got experience.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/22/2017 08:46 AM
Every component has a different lifetime, so it doesn't matter if the titanium grid fins last beyond the life of the first booster they are attached to because there will be plenty more components (Merlin engines as more expensive items) that will also be transferred from the booster body after it has reached the end of it's useful life.
A fair point but I'm reminded of Masten's comments that they didn't reuse flight computers after a crash because it was too easy to end up with a board with a missed hairline crack that would destroy the next vehicle it was controlling as well. Obviously that's a specific situation but the hover slam landing is pretty harsh on structure (I think the only thing that comes close is an aircraft carrier landing, and such aircraft have substantially heavier landing gear than land based aircraft, or even land based variants of the same aircraft).

Quote from: Coastal Ron
Actually the titanium grid fins are forgings, not machined. Both are expensive and hard, but just wanted to point that out.
Noted.
That was a loose use of English, treating machining as a simile for any mfg process.
However AFAIK, with the exception of diffusion bonding (people say it can be done in Aluminum but the limitations seems quite severe. Hard vacuum or brazes seem to be needed) all methods of working Titanium are more effort than Aluminum, either in terms of time (CNC programmers I've spoken to say it tends to "stick" to cutters, so many more light cuts than eveny high grade Aluminum alloy) or energy. IIRC Titanium needs at least warm working for forging and that "warm" is above the melting point of Aluminum.
Quote from: Coastal Ron
I was just reading about the first A380 that was going to be put into flyable storage, and they were talking about how most of the value of the aircraft was in it's engines, since they can be pulled and used on another aircraft. So using commercial aircraft as analogies, there will be lots of parts that will move around onto new and used boosters. Titanium grid fins are just one of the parts.
Which sounds like the thinking that underlies the ULA SMART plan for Vulcan. Obviously that changes when you have the whole stage to strip, but then that's a chicken and egg question.
Quote from: Coastal Ron
Something else to keep in mind is that it probably matters to the Falcon 9 control software whether the aluminum grid fins are used or the titanium ones, and history is littered (literally) with hardware that failed because updates were not done properly. So standardizing on one type of control surface likely makes a lot of sense, and not having to replace them all the time would likely be the least expensive option too.
Now that's a very good point.  :)

IIRC the Ti fins were bigger than the Al ones and with it's higher density that suggest quite different aerodynamic and mass properties. Fitting those to a stage programmed to expect Aluminum fins (or vice versa) would be a very bad day. 
It might still work, as the GNC system desperately tries to compensate for control surfaces that are bigger and heavier than it expects, but it's simpler to put control constants for both sets in memory and simply set a variable to the correct type.

Knowing SX's fondness for minimizing multiple variants I still expect them to go Titanium permanently for bkl 5.

We have no real insight into the costs.

It doesn't need to get very expensive for the labour of a guy spending a week sandblasting/recoating the fins to be cheaper than the cost of shiny new titanium fins.
If the labour costs $5K, and the forged Ti finset 250K, ...
True.

Also IIRC Musk said those were some of the biggest of their kind Ti forgings ever.  That strongly suggests they were not done in house. The list of vendors who can do that work is short and SX would be dependent on their schedule wheather they can get more of them made. One set might have been reasonably easy, but getting it as a regular order may be much more difficult.
Quote from: speedevil
It wouldn't even slow down the flow perhaps as the fins don't have to go back on a reflight.

For the case of one or two reuses per stage, especially as they have quite a lot of nonreflown stages to pull parts off if they choose, light repairs could be significantly cheaper.
Exactly. But what's not an issue at 2-3 reflights may be a major PITA at 10.
Quote from: speedevil

Or perhaps they've just found something more productive in the future for their Ti forging of large billets capabilities to do, and they'd rather have the few guys experienced in that area do that, rather than 'fix' what they now realise is a problem that now doesn't seem as bad once they've got experience.
Equally possible.

I don't have a real good quantitative feel for CNC Vs forging.
My instinct is that cycle time for forging and waste material will be quite low (good because while Titanium has gotten cheaper it's still several times the cost of Aluminum) as it's (mostly) a near net shape process.

But getting that machine time is the tough part.  If those fins need the press sizes I think they need those machines are booked up months (years?) in advance. While it's not a particularly deep part it has a lot of surface area, so the tooling is going to be big as well. It has to resist high loads and either withstand intermittent heating or run hot (isothermal forging). The joker here is wheather the tooling is the final design (good for all future fin sets) or if flight testing showed it needs modifying. Not a problem if they need to make the holes bigger (just shave some off the dies) but more awkward if they have to make them smaller.

Ideally you want to make these in batches. Not 4 at a time, multiples. Again I've no feel for an economic batch quantity. As many can be made in a working day, including tooling installation and removal (so the presses are ready for the next product to be processed)?

There's a history of diffusion bonding at NAA (in the 60's and 70's) which explains one of the goals of using DB was to avoid needing to machine big billets of it (the "buy to build" ratio) while at the same time side stepping the need for the very big presses which were the only way people thought you could do near net shape mfg at the time.

BTW since then Ti casting has greatly improved. Foundries are claiming (and IIRC Airbus are using) castings with "casting factors" (ratio of weight of casting to same part made by machining or forging) of 1.0-1.1. IE 0-10% weight penalty over machined/forged parts.

With 3d printing of the shape and lost wax(lost plastic?)  casting for the mold high(ish) volume would not be a problem if the foundry can supply enough clean, molten Ti alloy. That is not a trivial issue. These parts are big and Ti alloys are more like Magnesium than Steel to cast, but it may be a future option. Forging delivers excellent quality but it has several penalties (not just the unit price) that SX may not be willing to pay long term for the kind of volumes they need.

As you say, we don't have enough insight into their costs to know what factors are influencing their decisions.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 11/24/2017 12:12 PM
I can't help but to conclude people are just way too worked up about Ti fins.
SpaceX might be planning to use Ti fins only with Block V intended for reuse (there's still the possibility of a few expendable Block V launches).
Maybe Block V and FH launches.
There is no evidence that Al fins have to be refurbed after a LEO mission, which is the only scenario for reuse so far (booster used on a single LEO launch).
Its possible the same Al fins can fly a few times on LEO missions.
SpaceX knows their safety margins. Just because it glowed during re-entry, doesn't follow the fins are gone.
After all they have withstood a few recoveries which were hail marry attempts.

That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

How about a little less obsessing, please ?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 11/24/2017 12:21 PM
I can't help but to conclude people are just way too worked up about Ti fins.
SpaceX might be planning to use Ti fins only with Block V intended for reuse (there's still the possibility of a few expendable Block V launches).
Maybe Block V and FH launches.
There is no evidence that Al fins have to be refurbed after a LEO mission, which is the only scenario for reuse so far (booster used on a single LEO launch).
Its possible the same Al fins can fly a few times on LEO missions.
SpaceX knows their safety margins. Just because it glowed during re-entry, doesn't follow the fins are gone.
After all they have withstood a few recoveries which were hail marry attempts.

That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

How about a little less obsessing, please ?

I mostly agree, but if an aluminium fin starts to glow, it's had it, since at the point of glowing it's lost all strength.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 11/24/2017 12:25 PM
I can't help but to conclude people are just way too worked up about Ti fins.
SpaceX might be planning to use Ti fins only with Block V intended for reuse (there's still the possibility of a few expendable Block V launches).
Maybe Block V and FH launches.
There is no evidence that Al fins have to be refurbed after a LEO mission, which is the only scenario for reuse so far (booster used on a single LEO launch).
Its possible the same Al fins can fly a few times on LEO missions.
SpaceX knows their safety margins. Just because it glowed during re-entry, doesn't follow the fins are gone.
After all they have withstood a few recoveries which were hail marry attempts.

That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

How about a little less obsessing, please ?

I mostly agree, but if an aluminium fin starts to glow, it's had it, since at the point of glowing it's lost all strength.

As several folks have pointed out, the glow we see in the entry footage is indicative of not necessarily "glowing white hot" aluminum. Rather, removal of a camera's IR filter combined with over-saturation of the camera sensor in the near-IR bands. Yes, the fins get hot. But not - generally speaking - hot enough to glow white to a human eye, as the camera footage appears to show.

Yes, some of the earliest landings showed fin webs eroded or even burned through in one or two cases. But it's clear SpaceX has either changed coating substances or application techniques, perhaps combined with entry trajectory shaping, since we've not seen any such obvious fin damage on recently-returned cores.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 11/24/2017 12:29 PM
I can't help but to conclude people are just way too worked up about Ti fins.
SpaceX might be planning to use Ti fins only with Block V intended for reuse (there's still the possibility of a few expendable Block V launches).
Maybe Block V and FH launches.
There is no evidence that Al fins have to be refurbed after a LEO mission, which is the only scenario for reuse so far (booster used on a single LEO launch).
Its possible the same Al fins can fly a few times on LEO missions.
SpaceX knows their safety margins. Just because it glowed during re-entry, doesn't follow the fins are gone.
After all they have withstood a few recoveries which were hail marry attempts.

That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

How about a little less obsessing, please ?

Obsessing is what we do, though... SpaceX is also obsessing about rapid turn-around after flight (if 24 hour goal isn't obsessive, not sure what is) and the Ti grid fins put that component to bed as far as rework is concerned*.

Obsessing aside, Block 5 will be manufactured for rapid reuse, end-to-end.  Expect nothing but a post-flight inspection if they are successful. 


* Probably including GTO flights.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 11/24/2017 11:49 PM
I can't help but to conclude people are just way too worked up about Ti fins.
SpaceX might be planning to use Ti fins only with Block V intended for reuse (there's still the possibility of a few expendable Block V launches).
Maybe Block V and FH launches.
There is no evidence that Al fins have to be refurbed after a LEO mission, which is the only scenario for reuse so far (booster used on a single LEO launch).
Its possible the same Al fins can fly a few times on LEO missions.
SpaceX knows their safety margins. Just because it glowed during re-entry, doesn't follow the fins are gone.
After all they have withstood a few recoveries which were hail marry attempts.

That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

How about a little less obsessing, please ?

I mostly agree, but if an aluminium fin starts to glow, it's had it, since at the point of glowing it's lost all strength.

As several folks have pointed out, the glow we see in the entry footage is indicative of not necessarily "glowing white hot" aluminum. Rather, removal of a camera's IR filter combined with over-saturation of the camera sensor in the near-IR bands. Yes, the fins get hot. But not - generally speaking - hot enough to glow white to a human eye, as the camera footage appears to show.

Yes, some of the earliest landings showed fin webs eroded or even burned through in one or two cases. But it's clear SpaceX has either changed coating substances or application techniques, perhaps combined with entry trajectory shaping, since we've not seen any such obvious fin damage on recently-returned cores.

Also, they appear to be covered in SPAM, which is probably a good enough insulator to be glowing on the outside while the aluminum underneath is cool enough to avoid any metallurgical changes.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OneSpeed on 11/26/2017 10:07 AM
That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

The Iridium-2 mission probably was intended to validate the Ti grid fins, but I'm not convinced the results were entirely satisfactory. The larger fin increases control authority, but the scalloped leading edges actually reduce drag, which may not be desirable. Perhaps there will be a further iteration of the Ti grid fin design before its usage becomes commonplace?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ClayJar on 11/26/2017 03:55 PM
That single Ti fin launch likely was to verify its operations, and Al fins are good enough for current missions.

The Iridium-2 mission probably was intended to validate the Ti grid fins, but I'm not convinced the results were entirely satisfactory. The larger fin increases control authority, but the scalloped leading edges actually reduce drag, which may not be desirable. Perhaps there will be a further iteration of the Ti grid fin design before its usage becomes commonplace?

Out of curiosity, what is the lead time for setting up to manufacture a large titanium forging?  Would it be reasonable to assume that the titanium grid fins we saw demonstrated were manufactured as prototypes (e.g. machined out of billet titanium) to get real flight experience and validate the models before proceeding along toward production?  Even if the design was validated with performance matching the models, a lag between a machined prototype and a forged (and machined) production run would seem logical.  Alas, I have no manufacturing background to know how long a lead time to forecast.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 11/26/2017 04:01 PM
How do you forge a lattice structure like the grid fins anyway? Sounds like a daunting task to get the metal into that shape..
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cambrianera on 11/26/2017 04:19 PM
Typical process and results.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: nacnud on 11/26/2017 05:18 PM
Video of forging aluminium, forging starts at 8:55.

http://dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/dmm-factory-tour-vid/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: almightycat on 11/26/2017 06:27 PM
The grid fin is "cast and cut", not forged: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ClayJar on 11/26/2017 06:55 PM
The grid fin is "cast and cut", not forged: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272

Musk: New design coming for Grid Fin.  Will be largest titanium forging in the world.  Current Grid Fin is aluminum and gets so hot it lights on fire... which isn't good for reuse.

Yes, the tested set of titanium grid fins we saw were machined ("cast and cut"), but the production titanium grid fins will be forged.  The fact we haven't seen titanium grid fins again yet may imply that they passed their testing, as if they needed to be altered, we may have seen a new build of test titanium fins by now.  Seeing none, my personal assumption would be that the testing was successful and they're setting up for the forged production version (which takes more to get rolling than just machining one set).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/26/2017 07:31 PM
Yes, the tested set of titanium grid fins we saw were machined ("cast and cut"), but the production titanium grid fins will be forged.  The fact we haven't seen titanium grid fins again yet may imply that they passed their testing, as if they needed to be altered, we may have seen a new build of test titanium fins by now.  Seeing none, my personal assumption would be that the testing was successful and they're setting up for the forged production version (which takes more to get rolling than just machining one set).
I did not realize this.

I did recall Musk saying they were (will be?)s ome of the biggest Titanium forgings ever. To put this in perspective the book "Diffusion bonding of Titanium Metal Structures" by Joe Melill described teh forging of the H53 helicopter rotor hub in Titanium (in the late 60's)

This 1200lb of Ti to be hot forged to give a 350lb finished part (after a lot of machining).  It took the biggest press on the North American continent, Govt owned but operated by Wyman Gordon and was (is?) rated to 50 000 tons. Interestingly the DB assembled structure had better material properties than forging and isn't the Octoweb fabricated in Titanium?

The upside is the mfg should be fairly fast. Essentially you're looking at a tool and die set like a monster waffle mold, that can cope with hot Titanium.  Once  you've got the billet in place a relatively small number of smacks should do most of the work before finish machining (although the CNC's for this will also be quite large).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 11/28/2017 11:44 PM
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272
Quote
Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins. Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding.

They are cast to an approximate shape and then machined to an exact shape. You can't really forge complex shapes directly, totally different process (hammers and folding).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 11/29/2017 01:43 AM
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272
Quote
Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins. Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding.

They are cast to an approximate shape and then machined to an exact shape. You can't really forge complex shapes directly, totally different process (hammers and folding).

Forging is in no way related to casting, so I tend to believe Musk when he says the new grid fins will be forged.

As to "hammers and folding", I think you're thinking of smithing-type forging (i.e. ironworking). 20th century metalworking can do a lot more. An example of titanium forging (smaller parts than grid fins though):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBkhomA128

An interesting article about titanium forgings at forging.org:

4.6 Titanium Alloys (https://www.forging.org/forging/design/46-titanium-alloys.html) | Forging Industry Association
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 11/29/2017 01:51 AM
The "cast & cut" comment came several months after the forging comment, and he had other comments about the grid fins in that conversation on twitter.  I wouldn't count on the earlier one being the most accurate.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 11/29/2017 01:52 AM
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272
Quote
Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins. Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding.

They are cast to an approximate shape and then machined to an exact shape. You can't really forge complex shapes directly, totally different process (hammers and folding).

Forging is in no way related to casting, so I tend to believe Musk when he says the new grid fins will be forged.

As to "hammers and folding", I think you're thinking of smithing-type forging (i.e. ironworking). 20th century metalworking can do a lot more. An example of titanium forging (smaller parts than grid fins though):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBkhomA128

An interesting article about titanium forgings at forging.org:

4.6 Titanium Alloys (https://www.forging.org/forging/design/46-titanium-alloys.html) | Forging Industry Association

I just quoted Elon, he said CASTING. Where are you getting forging from? I understand that modern forging doesn't use a smith hammer anymore, but it is still working with hot but solid metal and pressure rather than molten metal and cast. Making holes, thin shapes and fine 3D elements is not a strong suit of forging.

By casting the rough shape and then machining, you have little material waste and the fewest steps to a finished product. Forging provides extra strength compared to casting, but it would seem that was not an issue in this case.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 11/29/2017 02:02 AM
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/878821062326198272
Quote
Flying with larger & significantly upgraded hypersonic grid fins. Single piece cast & cut titanium. Can take reentry heat with no shielding.

They are cast to an approximate shape and then machined to an exact shape. You can't really forge complex shapes directly, totally different process (hammers and folding).

Forging is in no way related to casting, so I tend to believe Musk when he says the new grid fins will be forged.

As to "hammers and folding", I think you're thinking of smithing-type forging (i.e. ironworking). 20th century metalworking can do a lot more. An example of titanium forging (smaller parts than grid fins though):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJBkhomA128

An interesting article about titanium forgings at forging.org:

I just quoted Elon, he said CASTING. Where are you getting forging from? I understand that modern forging doesn't use a smith hammer anymore, but it is still working with hot but solid metal and pressure rather than molten metal and cast. Making holes, thin shapes and fine 3D elements is not a strong suit of forging.

By casting the rough shape and then machining, you have little material waste and the fewest steps to a finished product. Forging provides extra strength compared to casting, but it would seem that was not an issue in this case.

Perhaps this is where you are getting forging:
Musk: New design coming for Grid Fin.  Will be largest titanium forging in the world.  Current Grid Fin is aluminum and gets so hot it lights on fire... which isn't good for reuse.
That quote was forward looking, verbal, and off the cuff in March. In June, he said the current fins are cast and cut in writing. I'd believe the later quote.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 11/29/2017 05:47 AM
Why not both: prototype ("current") Ti fins cast and cut, forthcoming fins same shape but forged?

It would explain the long gap (to set up a forging process) between the flight of the prototype and production use of the new fin design.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Rabidpanda on 11/29/2017 05:53 AM
It seems more likely that Elon just misspoke. Forging that shape seems extremely unrealistic, unless he is just talking about machining it from a forged billet (which would certainly be possible but would result in a lot of wasted material). Is there any evidence other than that second hand quote that they are forged and not cast?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 11/30/2017 08:23 PM
The other option is that SX expected to need a forged fin but had a cast/cut one set made up in order to get flight data.

However if the cast/cut set design performed well enough they might have decided "actually a cast/cut design is good enough. The weights OK and quality looks good, and they got them to our door fast"

Historically Forging has been the way to make highly stressed high quality parts but modern casting quality has got a great deal better. The key parameter is the "casting factor," the allowance you have to make in weight for a cast part to have the same strength and rigidity properties of a machined or forged part.

The gear box casing on the Black Arrow LV had a CF of 1.7 IOW it was 1.7x heavier (Aluminum)than a machined or forged version (but a very great deal cheaper).

By the 00's Airbus were accepting (smallish) Titanium cast parts with CF's of 1.0-1.1.

It's been a decades long process but precision casting methods can do high precision casting in highly reactive metals (and molten Titanium is highly reactive) using die casting or lost wax/plastic methods, usually using vacuum melting and vacuum casting to eliminate dissolved gases and ceramic bag dross filters to eliminate inclusions.

Which is good because Ti is a PITA to machine.  :(

So it could just be the SX mfg team were being cautious and the rapid prototyping process has become the new baseline.



Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 11/30/2017 08:53 PM
It seems more likely that Elon just misspoke. Forging that shape seems extremely unrealistic, unless he is just talking about machining it from a forged billet (which would certainly be possible but would result in a lot of wasted material).

Musk knows about metal working, so I think it's unlikely he misspoke.

And it's a rare stamped or forged part that doesn't need some clean up, and Musk never said no secondary machining wouldn't be required.

Also, keep in mind that a forging doesn't have to be done in one press. It can be done with a number of successive (i.e. progressive) dies, with the final one being close to the net part.

For example, a grid fin looks similar to a waffle, so there could be a number of successive dies that take a flat plate of titanium and progressively thin out the areas that are the holes, and shape the rest of the material into the grids. Then the "flash", or leftover material is machined out.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vaporcobra on 12/11/2017 07:58 PM
Crossposting from the Manifest thread.

Don't count your chickens before they hatch.  Although [10 reflights without refurb] is the design goal; they may not hit it with the first iteration [of Block 5].

That's almost besides the point. Even if Block 5 falls 50-70% short of the goal of 10 reflights without refurb, it would be absolutely paradigm-shifting. Remember, 10 flights sans refurb doesn't mention the more important goal, 100 flights with regular refurbishment. If a single booster is capable of flying even 10 times only with serious refurbishment after each recovery, it magnifies SpaceX's fleet by a factor of 10.

With 10 reflights per life and 6 weeks to refurb after each flight (worst-case realistic scenario), four boosters could conduct biweekly launches for 20 months. Three boosters could theoretically maintain a biweekly cadence for 15 months in the same conditions, but there is literally zero margin there for refurb delays.

At a more realistic present-day pace of manufacturing (10-20 Block 5 F9s per year) and with assumptions that Block 5 will manage at least 50% of its reuse goals (5 flights without refurb and 50 flights per booster), it is actually hard to fathom how significant a change it would be. The expendability paradigm is blinding, to say the least. The next focus, of course, will be cost and thus total reusability; BFR.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: pstephens on 12/17/2017 11:09 PM
Quote from: @elonmusk
For now, we only use those on super hot reentry missions. Will go to all Ti with Falcon 9 V5, which is a few months away.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417)

Edit: added attribution
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: pstephens on 12/17/2017 11:13 PM
Quote from: @elonmusk
For now, we only use those on super hot reentry missions. Will go to all Ti with Falcon 9 V5, which is a few months away.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417)


And, is V5 just a typo? Or do we have yet another Falcon versioning scheme?  ::)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/17/2017 11:34 PM
Quote from: @elonmusk
For now, we only use those on super hot reentry missions. Will go to all Ti with Falcon 9 V5, which is a few months away.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417)


And, is V5 just a typo? Or do we have yet another Falcon versioning scheme?  ::)

It’s not a typo, he’s just not rigorous when it comes to naming things consistently.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: woods170 on 12/18/2017 07:10 AM
Quote from: @elonmusk
For now, we only use those on super hot reentry missions. Will go to all Ti with Falcon 9 V5, which is a few months away.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/942526513731260417)


And, is V5 just a typo? Or do we have yet another Falcon versioning scheme?  ::)

It’s not a typo, he’s just not rigorous when it comes to naming things consistently.
Could be a typo given that "v" and "b" are right next to each other on the average keyboard. But I agree that V(ersion) 5 does not differ from B(lock) 5 all that much. They both indicate the fifth major iteration of the Falcon 9 design.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vanoord on 12/18/2017 08:28 AM
It’s not a typo, he’s just not rigorous when it comes to naming things consistently.

Yup.

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 v1.1
Falcon 9 Full Thrust (or Falcon 9 v1.2 according to the paperwork)
...um, did "Block 4" ever get a name from Elon?
Falcon 9 Block 5, er Falcon 9 Version 5

Anyway, Block / Version 5 is going to be the final incarnation of F9 so we won't have to worry about the naming strategy shortly... Well, until Elon changes his mind and we're onto F9 v6, Block 6, F9 v2.0 or whatever.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: woods170 on 12/18/2017 08:59 AM
It’s not a typo, he’s just not rigorous when it comes to naming things consistently.

Yup.

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 v1.1
Falcon 9 Full Thrust (or Falcon 9 v1.2 according to the paperwork)
...um, did "Block 4" ever get a name from Elon?
Falcon 9 Block 5, er Falcon 9 Version 5

Anyway, Block / Version 5 is going to be the final incarnation of F9 so we won't have to worry about the naming strategy shortly... Well, until Elon changes his mind and we're onto F9 v6, Block 6, F9 v2.0 or whatever.

Block 4 was assigned an unofficial name right here at NSF (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37599.msg1526957#msg1526957): "Fuller Thrust".

(Note: link goes to L2).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 12/18/2017 09:17 AM
Yup.

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 v1.1
Falcon 9 Full Thrust (or Falcon 9 v1.2 according to the paperwork)
...um, did "Block 4" ever get a name from Elon?
Falcon 9 Block 5, er Falcon 9 Version 5

Anyway, Block / Version 5 is going to be the final incarnation of F9 so we won't have to worry about the naming strategy shortly... Well, until Elon changes his mind and we're onto F9 v6, Block 6, F9 v2.0 or whatever.
AFAIK the plan is F9 V 5 --> BFS  for everything.

However there might need to be some "transitional arrangement" if BFS IOC is delayed.

Now what are the chances of that happening?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 12/18/2017 09:26 AM
Yup.

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 v1.1
Falcon 9 Full Thrust (or Falcon 9 v1.2 according to the paperwork)
...um, did "Block 4" ever get a name from Elon?
Falcon 9 Block 5, er Falcon 9 Version 5

Anyway, Block / Version 5 is going to be the final incarnation of F9 so we won't have to worry about the naming strategy shortly... Well, until Elon changes his mind and we're onto F9 v6, Block 6, F9 v2.0 or whatever.
AFAIK the plan is F9 V 5 --> BFS  for everything.

However there might need to be some "transitional arrangement" if BFS IOC is delayed.

Now what are the chances of that happening?

I'm sure there will be improvements in almost every area as the blocks 5's start flying. Whether they will be enough to claim block 6? Who knows, depends how many they want!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/18/2017 11:13 AM
It’s not a typo, he’s just not rigorous when it comes to naming things consistently.

Yup.

Falcon 9
Falcon 9 v1.1
Falcon 9 Full Thrust (or Falcon 9 v1.2 according to the paperwork)
...um, did "Block 4" ever get a name from Elon?
Falcon 9 Block 5, er Falcon 9 Version 5

Anyway, Block / Version 5 is going to be the final incarnation of F9 so we won't have to worry about the naming strategy shortly... Well, until Elon changes his mind and we're onto F9 v6, Block 6, F9 v2.0 or whatever.

Block 4 was assigned an unofficial name right here at NSF (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37599.msg1526957#msg1526957): "Fuller Thrust".

(Note: link goes to L2).

Block 4 is not unofficial, nor was it assigned by NSF or any other fan group. Falcon 9 v1.2 has flown four (soon to be five) design revisions called Blocks, and employees have referred to them as such for a while internally.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vanoord on 12/18/2017 12:24 PM
I may be missing something, but are you sure that there are 5 'blocks' of F9 v1.2? That gives a total of 7 F9 variants:

F9 1.0 (3x3 engines)
F9 1.1 (Octaweb, started with B-1001)
F9 1.2 Block 1 (also known as F9 Full Thrust / stretched, started with B-1019)
F9 1.2 Block 2
F9 1.2 Block 3
F9 1.2 Block 4
F9 1.2 Block 5 (forthcoming, starting B-1045 or B-1046)

My understanding was that the most recent 4 flown new cores were 'Block 4', which was the fourth in a sequence that ran F9 1.0 / F9 1.1 / F9 1.2 / F9 Block 4 - and will continue with F9 Block 5?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/18/2017 12:50 PM
I may be missing something, but are you sure that there are 5 'blocks' of F9 v1.2?

Yes.

That gives a total of 7 F9 variants:

...

I mean sure, but if you want to go deeper, you can say there have been 40-something F9 variants, none are identical.

My understanding was that the most recent 4 flown new cores were 'Block 4', which was the fourth in a sequence that ran F9 1.0 / F9 1.1 / F9 1.2 / F9 Block 4 - and will continue with F9 Block 5?

Everything since 1019 has been F9 v1.2 Block 1, 2, or 3; everything since 1039 has been F9 v1.2 Block 4. Honestly it doesn't even matter that much because without people obsessively tracking this stuff, it's unlikely anyone would've noticed the differences between any of the F9 v1.2 Blocks.

The only one that really matters is Block 5, and we'll definitely be able to tell when it shows up in McGregor.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: stcks on 12/18/2017 01:03 PM
Honestly it doesn't even matter that much because without people obsessively tracking this stuff, it's unlikely anyone would've noticed the differences between any of the F9 v1.2 Blocks.

Pretty much -- with the minor exception of the Block 4 second stage which had a few noticeable visual differences around the raceway(s) if I am remembering it correctly.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vanoord on 12/18/2017 01:49 PM
The only one that really matters is Block 5, and we'll definitely be able to tell when it shows up in McGregor.

Indeed...

Although from a point of understanding the change, it's easier to think of 'Block 5' as being F9 v1.3.


Pretty much -- with the minor exception of the Block 4 second stage which had a few noticeable visual differences around the raceway(s) if I am remembering it correctly.

It's way off topic, but didn't that version of the upper stage debut on the final 'new' flight of the version prior to Block 4 (Formosat)?


I know, I should get out more...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: stcks on 12/18/2017 02:04 PM
Pretty much -- with the minor exception of the Block 4 second stage which had a few noticeable visual differences around the raceway(s) if I am remembering it correctly.

It's way off topic, but didn't that version of the upper stage debut on the final 'new' flight of the version prior to Block 4 (Formosat)?


I know, I should get out more...

We believe it was actually Intelsat-35e which flew a Block 3 (B1037) in expendable mode and sported the first Block 4 upper stage. I don't remember what formosat's upper stage looked like.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Elthiryel on 12/18/2017 09:06 PM
Recently, I've created an online spreadsheet matching flights of F9 v1.2 boosters to blocks. I cannot assure it's all correct, you can find links to all the sources I've found directly in the spreadsheet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N8AaRRaPyVZZ2Rxpe9lWEFXWIyRqAJqXJ--TqHuhBYw/edit?usp=sharing
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 12/18/2017 09:12 PM
Recently, I've created an online spreadsheet matching flights of F9 v1.2 boosters to blocks. I cannot assure it's all correct, you can find links to all the sources I've found directly in the spreadsheet.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N8AaRRaPyVZZ2Rxpe9lWEFXWIyRqAJqXJ--TqHuhBYw/edit?usp=sharing

Looks good, thanks for the info!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: octavo on 12/20/2017 05:05 AM
I wonder how much of this naming confusion has come about due to deliberate avoidance of the number V2
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 12/20/2017 12:49 PM
That was Dragon/Crew Dragon's problem, not Falcon.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/20/2017 02:48 PM
I wonder how much of this naming confusion has come about due to deliberate avoidance of the number V2

I think it best to consider the earlier Blocks (especially Block 4) as 'Beta' versions of the fully and rapidly reusable rocket long ago promised.

Once the final product is ready to hit the streets, all Beta versions are discarded as quickly as possible.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 12/22/2017 02:39 PM
Iridium 4 and Falcon Heavy Demo vehicles are not Block 5, and this really isn't the thread to be discussing them in.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 12/27/2017 10:19 PM
I second Block 5 being called v1.3.

So given that this is a "few months away", which core number and which launch do people think that will be?

And a side thought...  Does getting NASA on used cores mean SpaceX can get three flights on v1.3?  Or do the changes not warrant that?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 12/27/2017 10:21 PM
I second Block 5 being called v1.3.

So given that this is a "few months away", which core number and which launch do people think that will be?

And a side thought...  Does getting NASA on used cores mean SpaceX can get three flights on v1.3?  Or do the changes not warrant that?

I'd guess around Core 1055
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dorkmo on 12/27/2017 11:17 PM
I think it will be called Falcon 9 Mark II
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 12/27/2017 11:31 PM
I second Block 5 being called v1.3.

So given that this is a "few months away", which core number and which launch do people think that will be?

And a side thought...  Does getting NASA on used cores mean SpaceX can get three flights on v1.3?  Or do the changes not warrant that?
Please don't call Block 5 v1.3.  It's Block 5.  It is quite possibly F9 v1.2 Block 5. The LAST thing we need to do is invent our own naming conventions that could conflict with future SpaceX version names.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 12/27/2017 11:35 PM
I second Block 5 being called v1.3.

So given that this is a "few months away", which core number and which launch do people think that will be?

And a side thought...  Does getting NASA on used cores mean SpaceX can get three flights on v1.3?  Or do the changes not warrant that?
Please don't call Block 5 v1.3.  It's Block 5.  It is quite possibly F9 v1.2 Block 5. The LAST thing we need to do is invent our own naming conventions that could conflict with future SpaceX version names.

True, but it has huge amounts of changes from Full Thrust
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/27/2017 11:52 PM
I second Block 5 being called v1.3.

So given that this is a "few months away", which core number and which launch do people think that will be?

And a side thought...  Does getting NASA on used cores mean SpaceX can get three flights on v1.3?  Or do the changes not warrant that?
Please don't call Block 5 v1.3.  It's Block 5.  It is quite possibly F9 v1.2 Block 5. The LAST thing we need to do is invent our own naming conventions that could conflict with future SpaceX version names.

True, but it has huge amounts of changes from Full Thrust

It is Full Thrust (v1.2). Each “Version” has its own set of “Blocks,” and v1.2 has 5 Blocks. There is no such thing as v1.3.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/28/2017 12:00 AM
With consolidation down to a single design going forward, it will be called... wait for it... Falcon 9.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/28/2017 12:09 AM
With consolidation down to a single design going forward, it will be called... wait for it... Falcon 9.

As far as SpaceX’s public relations are concerned, it’s been that way since they introduced v1.2. But for most of us here, that doesn’t cut it. It’s a bit ridiculous to call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/SpaceX_Falcon_9_with_Dragon_COTS_Demo_1_during_static_fire_test.jpg) and this (https://flic.kr/p/WPh7cg) the same name.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 12/28/2017 12:20 AM
With consolidation down to a single design going forward, it will be called... wait for it... Falcon 9.

As far as SpaceX’s public relations are concerned, it’s been that way since they introduced v1.2. But for most of us here, that doesn’t cut it. It’s a bit ridiculous to call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/SpaceX_Falcon_9_with_Dragon_COTS_Demo_1_during_static_fire_test.jpg) and this (https://flic.kr/p/WPh7cg) the same name.

Why not? We call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/South_African_Airlink_Boeing_737-200_Advanced_Smith.jpg) and this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Boeing_737-8_MAX_N8704Q_rotated.jpg) the same name and they are separated by 47 years of design modifications. Falcon 9 v1.0 and Falcon 9 Block 5 are separated by only about 7 years.

Falcon 9 seems appropriate.
Title: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: old_sellsword on 12/28/2017 12:33 AM
Why not? We call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/South_African_Airlink_Boeing_737-200_Advanced_Smith.jpg) and this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Boeing_737-8_MAX_N8704Q_rotated.jpg) the same name...

This demonstrates my point to a T. Those are both 737s, but as Ed noted, one is a 737-200 and the other is a 737-8 MAX. They’re the same general design but drastically different revisions, and their names clearly reflect that. Keeping the same product name is fine as long as there’s a more detailed nomenclature for revisions.

Also, the time between revisions is irrelevant.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 12/28/2017 01:43 AM
On bended knee I beg my fellow enthusiasts not to go down the version naming rabbit hole.

On topic, any guesses when the first Block 5 rocket will fly? I heard a rumor on the MECO podcast that the next core coming off the production line will be a Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 12/28/2017 01:48 AM
Gwynne recently (November) said late first quarter.  Elon recently (December) said in a few months, which would be around March.  I'd expect sometime around March.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 12/28/2017 04:36 AM
With consolidation down to a single design going forward, it will be called... wait for it... Falcon 9.

As far as SpaceX’s public relations are concerned, it’s been that way since they introduced v1.2. But for most of us here, that doesn’t cut it. It’s a bit ridiculous to call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/SpaceX_Falcon_9_with_Dragon_COTS_Demo_1_during_static_fire_test.jpg) and this (https://flic.kr/p/WPh7cg) the same name.

Why not? We call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/South_African_Airlink_Boeing_737-200_Advanced_Smith.jpg) and this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Boeing_737-8_MAX_N8704Q_rotated.jpg) the same name and they are separated by 47 years of design modifications. Falcon 9 v1.0 and Falcon 9 Block 5 are separated by only about 7 years.

Falcon 9 seems appropriate.
The titles of the 737 images you linked derail your argument.  One is a 737-200.  The other is a 737 MAX 8 or somesuch.

When I see a 737 at an airport or in the air, regardless of what model it is, I still call it a 737. Same for the 747.

And when I see pictures of previous Falcon 9 flights I don't say "look, a v1.0", or "look, a block 3 or 4ish". I say "look, a Falcon 9".

If it looks like a Falcon 9, it's a Falcon 9.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 12/28/2017 04:38 AM
With consolidation down to a single design going forward, it will be called... wait for it... Falcon 9.

As far as SpaceX’s public relations are concerned, it’s been that way since they introduced v1.2. But for most of us here, that doesn’t cut it. It’s a bit ridiculous to call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/SpaceX_Falcon_9_with_Dragon_COTS_Demo_1_during_static_fire_test.jpg) and this (https://flic.kr/p/WPh7cg) the same name.

Why not? We call this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/South_African_Airlink_Boeing_737-200_Advanced_Smith.jpg) and this (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Boeing_737-8_MAX_N8704Q_rotated.jpg) the same name and they are separated by 47 years of design modifications. Falcon 9 v1.0 and Falcon 9 Block 5 are separated by only about 7 years.

Falcon 9 seems appropriate.
The titles of the 737 images you linked derail your argument.  One is a 737-200.  The other is a 737 MAX 8 or somesuch.

When I see a 737 at an airport or in the air, regardless of what model it is, I still call it a 737. Same for the 747.

And when I see pictures of previous Falcon 9 flights I don't say "look, a v1.0", or "look, a block 3 or 4ish". I say "look, a Falcon 9".

If it looks like a Falcon 9, it's a Falcon 9.

Me too.

When I see an Atlas V 431 and a 521, I'm not like "Neat, an Atlas V 431 and 521!", rather, "Look, two Atlas Vs!"
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vanoord on 12/28/2017 10:57 AM
I respectfully disagree.  The shift from v1.1 to v1.2 included a second stage stretch.  v1.0 to v1.1 also included fuselage stretches.  Informal convention at this point would require a dimensional change in the outer mold line - especially a tank stretch - to garner a v1.3 designation.  SpaceX calls it Falcon 9 Block 5.  Why don't we?

I've come round to that point of view.

IIRC the official documentation still calls the vehicle 'Falcon 9 v1.2' and what we're about to see is the fifth (ish) iteration of that, hence 'Block 5'.

Okay, it might be something like the 7th 'block' of overall F9 production, but it remains the 5th 'block' of Falcon 9 v1.2 / Falcon 9 Full Thrust production (even though the divisions between blocks are a bit negotiable).

Anyway, it's Elon's rocket, so if he wants to call it 'Block 5', he can do.

If anyone don't like that, they can feel free to start their own rocket company and can call their rockets whatever they want - apart from Big F***ing Rocket, because that's already taken  :P
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Elthiryel on 12/28/2017 11:25 AM
Okay, it might be something like the 7th 'block' of overall F9 production, but it remains the 5th 'block' of Falcon 9 v1.2 / Falcon 9 Full Thrust production (even though the divisions between blocks are a bit negotiable).

A SpaceX employee stated on reddit that it's actually the 8th block overall, but you're generally right, of course.
Quote
What's currently referred to as Blocks 1 through 5 are all F9 Full Thrust (v1.2). Blocks 3-5 are obviously used on Heavy, so there are FH blocks as well. But v1.0 and v1.1 also had their own Blocks, with v1.0 having just one Block and v1.1 having two.
https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/7l4gzd/elon_musk_on_twitter_max_thrust_at_liftoff_is_51/drk5qpg/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 12/29/2017 01:09 AM
Okay, Block 5 it is. But the reason I agreed with the distinction of a new version number is because of SpaceX scrapping the last Iridium booster. If a v1.2 Block 3 could be upgraded into a Block 5, wouldn't they do so? And reuse as much vehicle as possible? Instead it seems there's a clear break between Blocks 3/4 and 5, and no good upgrade path.

But I still had the question as to whether Block 5 had to fly 3 times before NASA would use it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 12/29/2017 01:12 AM
Okay, Block 5 it is. But the reason I agreed with the distinction of a new version number is because of SpaceX scrapping the last Iridium booster. If a v1.2 Block 3 could be upgraded into a Block 5, wouldn't they do so? And reuse as much vehicle as possible? Instead it seems there's a clear break between Blocks 3/4 and 5, and no good upgrade path.

But I still had the question as to whether Block 5 had to fly 3 times before NASA would use it.

Use it for what?  They could use it for a CRS mission right off the bat.  For NASA LSP missions (such as TESS) they'll want to see a few flights and certify the changes before agreeing to use it.  If I recall correctly there was word of an agreement to fly it several (seven?) times before putting crew on it for the DM-2 mission.  It all depends on the risk posture of that particular program within NASA.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 12/29/2017 02:11 AM
Do those CRS flights include all cargo?  Would they put the 2nd (3rd really) docking adaptor in the trunk and launch on the first Block 5?  Or prefer to wait? Or use a new/reused Block 3/4 instead?
I doubt it matters very much, was just curious how NASA is treating it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 12/29/2017 02:16 AM
Do those CRS flights include all cargo?  Would they put the 2nd (3rd really) docking adaptor in the trunk and launch on the first Block 5?  Or prefer to wait? Or use a new/reused Block 3/4 instead?
I doubt it matters very much, was just curious how NASA is treating it.
My understanding is that NASA does not want to fly on the first Block 5 mission, after that it’s fine for cargo. And as mentioned above they want 7 Block 5 launches before they fly crew.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 12/29/2017 02:46 AM
My understanding is that NASA does not want to fly on the first Block 5 mission, after that it’s fine for cargo. And as mentioned above they want 7 Block 5 launches before they fly crew.

7 new boosters I wonder?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vanoord on 12/29/2017 10:04 AM
My understanding is that NASA does not want to fly on the first Block 5 mission, after that it’s fine for cargo. And as mentioned above they want 7 Block 5 launches before they fly crew.

7 new boosters I wonder?

That would be at odds with the current thinking for the rate of F9 Block 5 production - albeit at around one new core per month, there could be 7 Block 5 cores built by the summer.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/29/2017 11:45 AM
My understanding is that NASA does not want to fly on the first Block 5 mission, after that it’s fine for cargo. And as mentioned above they want 7 Block 5 launches before they fly crew.

7 new boosters I wonder?

That would be at odds with the current thinking for the rate of F9 Block 5 production - albeit at around one new core per month, there could be 7 Block 5 cores built by the summer.

I don't think seven new cores are needed to meet that requirement... just seven flights.  A few new boosters and the right mix of customers make this fairly easy, assuming the year dives into Block 5 early.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 12/29/2017 12:19 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Cheapchips on 12/29/2017 01:08 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.


At least 14 Block 5 by the end of 2018 is an awful lot of launch capacity. They'll need it for Starlink but even so, the mind boggles.

Minus 30 launches for next year (I know this isn't quite how it plays out) then the boosters still have 110 flights to offer customers, prior to refurbishment.

If they build into 2019 they have enough first stage inventory to launch weekly from 3-4 pads?

I wonder if there's anything more they can do to streamline second stage production given reuse is no longer on the cards.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: woods170 on 12/29/2017 06:25 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.
My sources at SpaceX tell me that SpaceX has (significantly) more than three Block 5 boosters in various stages of construction, with many more to come.

The number of re-flights of cores will be increased gradually. People seem to overlook this and think that Block 5 cores will immediately jump to 10 (or more) re-flights.
That won't happen. The stated goal of getting 10 (or more) flights from a single F9 core is an END goal. Block 5 entering service is just the first major step towards that goal. But it will likely take multiple Block 5 cores to reach that end goal.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/29/2017 07:05 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.
My sources at SpaceX tell me that SpaceX has (significantly) more than three Block 5 boosters in various stages of construction, with many more to come.

The number of re-flights of cores will be increased gradually. People seem to overlook this and think that Block 5 cores will immediately jump to 10 (or more) re-flights.
That won't happen. The stated goal of getting 10 (or more) flights from a single F9 core is an END goal. Block 5 entering service is just the first major step towards that goal. But it will likely take multiple Block 5 cores to reach that end goal.

Not sure I agree with the bolded statement.  Block 5 is being built for ten flights between major refurbishments from everything we've seen written.  Previous blocks were the first/many first steps toward that goal.  No doubt that there will be new insights as the number of re-flights on a core climbs, but it wouldn't be surprising if some of this year's batch of Block 5s make it to and well beyond ten total flights.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 12/29/2017 08:59 PM
Block 5 has new components which are *supposed* to improve reusability/reduce refurb.  The proof is in the pudding, though: they'll need to get a few back to validate theory against practice, and then tweak, fly, repeat.  Worst case they need a block 6 (we hope that's unlikely), best case the first block 5 will be good for ten flights (I think we all agree that's unlikely as well).

If the tweaks are minor enough, maybe the first block 5 cores can be retrofitted to "block 5.1", but I bet some of these first block 5s will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor after they return.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 12/30/2017 07:54 AM
All it takes is NASA demanding ALL crew launches on a brand new Block V, as well as all DoD payloads deemed hard to replace. A few hard nosed customers.
I bet SpaceX will be forced to make at least 1 or 2 new Block Vs per quarter for 2018 and 2019.

Those that can't differentiate end goal with what will take place at first are way, way, way too deep in fanboyism daydreaming.
Even if everything goes perfect with Block V, not a single Block V is launched expendably, there will still be a gradual trust issue. Many customers will be reluctant to be the first third, fourth, fifth, sixth, ... Reflight.

I heard the argument from several people here that once SpaceX did the first 2 or 3 reflights then most customers would sign at the dotted line. But last I heard, barely half of planned launches are reflights.

If a customer signs a launch contract for a new booster, they have the right to demand it stays that way.
Newer contracts might have different language.

Booster reuse should really be the overwhelming majority in 2019. I say this, because I assume those launches will be on contracts that force customers to accept reflight. But even then, I bet SpaceX will be forced to make more new boosters than the optimists are predicting.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 12/30/2017 08:57 AM


All it takes is NASA demanding ALL crew launches on a brand new Block V, as well as all DoD payloads deemed hard to replace. A few hard nosed customers.
I bet SpaceX will be forced to make at least 1 or 2 new Block Vs per quarter for 2018 and 2019.

Those that can't differentiate end goal with what will take place at first are way, way, way too deep in fanboyism daydreaming.
Even if everything goes perfect with Block V, not a single Block V is launched expendably, there will still be a gradual trust issue. Many customers will be reluctant to be the first third, fourth, fifth, sixth, ... Reflight.

I heard the argument from several people here that once SpaceX did the first 2 or 3 reflights then most customers would sign at the dotted line. But last I heard, barely half of planned launches are reflights.

If a customer signs a launch contract for a new booster, they have the right to demand it stays that way.
Newer contracts might have different language.

Booster reuse should really be the overwhelming majority in 2019. I say this, because I assume those launches will be on contracts that force customers to accept reflight. But even then, I bet SpaceX will be forced to make more new boosters than the optimists are predicting.

I think that's the prevailing view.

I'd say that with "Booster reuse should really be the overwhelming majority in 2019" you are at no risk of being called pessimistic, even by fanboys.

I mean going from first reuse in 2017 to that - people here used to talk in terms of "it'll take decades"... 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: loki on 12/30/2017 10:12 AM
Block 5 has new components which are *supposed* to improve reusability/reduce refurb.  The proof is in the pudding, though: they'll need to get a few back to validate theory against practice, and then tweak, fly, repeat.  Worst case they need a block 6 (we hope that's unlikely), best case the first block 5 will be good for ten flights (I think we all agree that's unlikely as well).

If the tweaks are minor enough, maybe the first block 5 cores can be retrofitted to "block 5.1", but I bet some of these first block 5s will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor after they return.

I agree. It seems as the best possible way.
Future tweaking of design will be probably applied once per year and a half or two years (Block X), unless some hidden possible failure mode appeared.
Additionally, I guess one Block 5 will be pushed ASAP to three flights by generous discount for customers and “will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor”. Only after that, other Block 5 cores will be allowed to fly three times. Again it will be repeated to five flights, with generous discount, and that core will also get McGregor “treatment”, and so on to the reusable limit.
Even if only 5-6 flight could be achieved with minimum inspection and with no possibility of overhaul, it would be great achievement and would push launch service affordability to unprecedented level for space industry.
When we could see reaching maximum real launching rate of about forty per year at Cape? 2019?

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/30/2017 12:51 PM
Block 5 has new components which are *supposed* to improve reusability/reduce refurb.  The proof is in the pudding, though: they'll need to get a few back to validate theory against practice, and then tweak, fly, repeat.  Worst case they need a block 6 (we hope that's unlikely), best case the first block 5 will be good for ten flights (I think we all agree that's unlikely as well).

If the tweaks are minor enough, maybe the first block 5 cores can be retrofitted to "block 5.1", but I bet some of these first block 5s will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor after they return.

I agree. It seems as the best possible way.
Future tweaking of design will be probably applied once per year and a half or two years (Block X), unless some hidden possible failure mode appeared.
Additionally, I guess one Block 5 will be pushed ASAP to three flights by generous discount for customers and “will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor”. Only after that, other Block 5 cores will be allowed to fly three times. Again it will be repeated to five flights, with generous discount, and that core will also get McGregor “treatment”, and so on to the reusable limit.
Even if only 5-6 flight could be achieved with minimum inspection and with no possibility of overhaul, it would be great achievement and would push launch service affordability to unprecedented level for space industry.
When we could see reaching maximum real launching rate of about forty per year at Cape? 2019?

These are versions of the same argument that was made before cores began landings and reuses... the conclusion using this logic was that it would take decades to build a reusable rocket... and then it was uncertain if it would be economically viable.

The iterating process and chopping up cores to examine every detail are done.  EM has stated, based on cores that have been examined post-flight that the cores are capable of an 'indefinite' number of reflights.  The Block 1 through 5 iteration was the process that you are describing -- it happened very fast and behind closed doors -- but it surely happened.

We've seen no evidence that iteration is ahead of us instead of behind us; we've been told that a stock of Block 5s would be built and stockpiled for the future launches of those customers that remain hesitant about reused cores, and production would turn to BFR.  We've been told that Block 5 is designed for a 24 hour turn-around, essentially no refurbishment. 

Where does the number of 5 or 6 flights without major refurbishment come from? Thin air? Other? While I agree that this in itself would be a huge step forward, it also implies that each increment of a few reflights will be accompanied/followed by redesign and iteration... not the design intent of Block 5 based on any evidence we have seen.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 12/30/2017 01:36 PM
You're confusing "plan" with "reality".  Plan is for block 5 to be the final revision.  But no one (not even SpaceX) knows if that will be "reality" yet.  Wait and see.  Perhaps the first block 5 will live up to expectations in every possible way.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: woods170 on 12/30/2017 01:38 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.
My sources at SpaceX tell me that SpaceX has (significantly) more than three Block 5 boosters in various stages of construction, with many more to come.

The number of re-flights of cores will be increased gradually. People seem to overlook this and think that Block 5 cores will immediately jump to 10 (or more) re-flights.
That won't happen. The stated goal of getting 10 (or more) flights from a single F9 core is an END goal. Block 5 entering service is just the first major step towards that goal. But it will likely take multiple Block 5 cores to reach that end goal.

Not sure I agree with the bolded statement.  Block 5 is being built for ten flights between major refurbishments from everything we've seen written.

You are correct and thank you for adding the "between major refurbishments"-part. I was silly enough to leave that crucial detail out of my post.

So, to make it clear: to get ten flights out of a booster, between refurbisments, is an END goal. It won't immediately happen with the first few Block 5 boosters.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 12/30/2017 01:48 PM
The people assuming SpaceX is only going to make two or three Block 5 boosters are likely to be proven wrong really fast.
My sources at SpaceX tell me that SpaceX has (significantly) more than three Block 5 boosters in various stages of construction, with many more to come.

The number of re-flights of cores will be increased gradually. People seem to overlook this and think that Block 5 cores will immediately jump to 10 (or more) re-flights.
That won't happen. The stated goal of getting 10 (or more) flights from a single F9 core is an END goal. Block 5 entering service is just the first major step towards that goal. But it will likely take multiple Block 5 cores to reach that end goal.

Not sure I agree with the bolded statement.  Block 5 is being built for ten flights between major refurbishments from everything we've seen written.

You are correct and thank you for adding the "between major refurbishments"-part. I was silly enough to leave that crucial detail out of my post.

So, to make it clear: to get ten flights out of a booster, between refurbisments, is an END goal. It won't immediately happen with the first few Block 5 boosters.
True, but let's quantify it.

By end of year, after ~30 flights, will there be a booster that flew 4 times?

I'm fairly confident that SpaceX's internal goal is to have F9/H rapidly reusable with a high reuse count JIT for StarLink.

There's no real need for it before that, but SpaceX can use the existing market to get there while still making a profit... It's been their MO so far, right?

So my guess is that they'll start  flying "perpetual boosters" in 2019.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: loki on 12/30/2017 04:08 PM
Block 5 has new components which are *supposed* to improve reusability/reduce refurb.  The proof is in the pudding, though: they'll need to get a few back to validate theory against practice, and then tweak, fly, repeat.  Worst case they need a block 6 (we hope that's unlikely), best case the first block 5 will be good for ten flights (I think we all agree that's unlikely as well).

If the tweaks are minor enough, maybe the first block 5 cores can be retrofitted to "block 5.1", but I bet some of these first block 5s will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor after they return.

I agree. It seems as the best possible way.
Future tweaking of design will be probably applied once per year and a half or two years (Block X), unless some hidden possible failure mode appeared.
Additionally, I guess one Block 5 will be pushed ASAP to three flights by generous discount for customers and “will get the destructive "test until failure" treatment at McGregor”. Only after that, other Block 5 cores will be allowed to fly three times. Again it will be repeated to five flights, with generous discount, and that core will also get McGregor “treatment”, and so on to the reusable limit.
Even if only 5-6 flight could be achieved with minimum inspection and with no possibility of overhaul, it would be great achievement and would push launch service affordability to unprecedented level for space industry.
When we could see reaching maximum real launching rate of about forty per year at Cape? 2019?

These are versions of the same argument that was made before cores began landings and reuses... the conclusion using this logic was that it would take decades to build a reusable rocket... and then it was uncertain if it would be economically viable.

The iterating process and chopping up cores to examine every detail are done.  EM has stated, based on cores that have been examined post-flight that the cores are capable of an 'indefinite' number of reflights.  The Block 1 through 5 iteration was the process that you are describing -- it happened very fast and behind closed doors -- but it surely happened.

We've seen no evidence that iteration is ahead of us instead of behind us; we've been told that a stock of Block 5s would be built and stockpiled for the future launches of those customers that remain hesitant about reused cores, and production would turn to BFR.  We've been told that Block 5 is designed for a 24 hour turn-around, essentially no refurbishment. 

Where does the number of 5 or 6 flights without major refurbishment come from? Thin air? Other? While I agree that this in itself would be a huge step forward, it also implies that each increment of a few reflights will be accompanied/followed by redesign and iteration... not the design intent of Block 5 based on any evidence we have seen.

My reply relates to the third paragraph of your post.
I am afraid that you have not read my post carefully. My statement was:
“Even if only 5-6 flight could be achieved with minimum inspection and with no possibility of overhaul, it would be great achievement and would push launch service affordability to unprecedented level for space industry.”

Falcon 9 Block 5 must to be certified by NASA for Commercial Crew Program and after that possibility of design changes will be significantly reduced, accordingly to that, my statement was:
“Future tweaking of design will be probably applied once per year and a half or two years (Block X), unless some hidden possible failure mode appeared.”
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: butters on 12/30/2017 04:45 PM
SpaceX has already explored the flight envelope pretty thoroughly with Block 3/4. They won't be asking Block 5 to fly much hotter reentries than the GTO missions they've already landed (because FH). They have a decent sample of post-GTO landed boosters to evaluate in order to set requirements for Block 5. I'd be surprised if they underperform on Block 5 reusability. Customer acceptance is a somewhat different story, but because of how surprisingly well Block 3/4 performed on those marginal GTO landings, SpaceX really has no excuses for failing to deliver a workhorse Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 12/30/2017 08:40 PM
You're confusing "plan" with "reality".  Plan is for block 5 to be the final revision.  But no one (not even SpaceX) knows if that will be "reality" yet.  Wait and see.  Perhaps the first block 5 will live up to expectations in every possible way.

Yes, reality is yet to come.  By plan I mean the design and its implementation.

The plan is for Block 5 to be the end product, not the start of another set of reuse hardware iterations -- that part of the development is just finishing.  SpaceX will look hard at returned boosters for sure, and may (likely will) find weak-link components that need to be upgraded before or during major refurbishments in order to fly several ten-launch cycles.

I don't for a minute believe that the first Block 5s will live up to every expectation.  I do believe that the basic design has been found to be satisfactory for large numbers of reuses -- what tweaks are needed as those flights are accumulated will be small potatoes relative to the basic design, IMO.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: chalz on 12/31/2017 08:26 AM
Hey, I heard block 5 is getting new legs. Does this mean something radical or will they look the same but be quicker to fold back? Also how could ship operations change, still crane onto the shore stand or could it go straight onto the truck?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 12/31/2017 12:04 PM
The rumor seems to be that the new legs will allow them to be folded up after landing instead of removed, and that this will speed up recovery efforts.  But details past that are AFIAK unknown.  We'll be watching the first Block 5 recovery carefully!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/31/2017 01:04 PM
When will the first block 5 fly? Also, is the first block 5 Falcon Heavy being built, yet?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cppetrie on 12/31/2017 02:24 PM
When will the first block 5 fly? Also, is the first block 5 Falcon Heavy being built, yet?
Unknown and unknown. There is some L2 insight as to which core will be the first Block 5 but it is very speculative right now as to which launch will use that core.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jcc on 12/31/2017 05:13 PM
When will the first block 5 fly? Also, is the first block 5 Falcon Heavy being built, yet?
Unknown and unknown. There is some L2 insight as to which core will be the first Block 5 but it is very speculative right now as to which launch will use that core.

Once they do fly Block 5 they will probably want to fly only that  until crew dragon launches, in order to build up flight history, then use up as many block 3/4 as practical before retiring them.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dror on 12/31/2017 05:45 PM
When will the first block 5 fly? Also, is the first block 5 Falcon Heavy being built, yet?

...
My sources at SpaceX tell me that SpaceX has (significantly) more than three Block 5 boosters in various stages of construction, with many more to come.
...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: macpacheco on 12/31/2017 11:25 PM
SpaceX has already explored the flight envelope pretty thoroughly with Block 3/4. They won't be asking Block 5 to fly much hotter reentries than the GTO missions they've already landed (because FH). They have a decent sample of post-GTO landed boosters to evaluate in order to set requirements for Block 5. I'd be surprised if they underperform on Block 5 reusability. Customer acceptance is a somewhat different story, but because of how surprisingly well Block 3/4 performed on those marginal GTO landings, SpaceX really has no excuses for failing to deliver a workhorse Block 5.
Hotter ?
I think Block 5 re-entries will be cooler.
Re-entry burn starts a few seconds sooner plus the higher thrust, so peak heating is lower, even if re-entry starts a bit faster.
Most extra performance is used on the way up, but certainly some is saved for re-entry.
The upper stage also has more performance too. All of that goes to the payload orbit.
The whole point of Block 5 is no more re-entries too hot to reuse.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 12/31/2017 11:47 PM
When will the first block 5 fly? Also, is the first block 5 Falcon Heavy being built, yet?
Unknown and unknown. There is some L2 insight as to which core will be the first Block 5 but it is very speculative right now as to which launch will use that core.

Once they do fly Block 5 they will probably want to fly only that  until crew dragon launches, in order to build up flight history, then use up as many block 3/4 as practical before retiring them.

I think that depends on how fast they can build block 5’s.  They have a busy manifest, a launch rate of 1 every 2 weeks needs a lot cores and S2’s.

Edit: I think it makes more sense to get through the Block 3&4 and move onto the future full throttle.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 02/07/2018 05:08 PM
So Musk said the STP FH mission will be all Block 5, but they haven't announced the first F9 mission unless I missed it. That's what I'm most excited for now. To see what a rocket looks like that is built rugged, with expensive materials because they know they can amoritize the cost.
Musk made it very clear how expensive the titanium grid fins are, how it's only reliable reuse that makes their use economical.
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: BunkerTheHusky on 02/07/2018 05:48 PM
With Elon's new info about Block 5, I really am hoping for more focus and unknowns come to light on Block 5 in the coming days and months!

I'm sorry if this is not the place for this question, but does anyone have the link to the L2 topic about Block 5? I remember seeing one some time ago, but now I can't seem to find it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 02/07/2018 07:21 PM
So Musk said the STP FH mission will be all Block 5, but they haven't announced the first F9 mission unless I missed it. That's what I'm most excited for now. To see what a rocket looks like that is built rugged, with expensive materials because they know they can amoritize the cost.
Musk made it very clear how expensive the titanium grid fins are, how it's only reliable reuse that makes their use economical.
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.


How many boosters they need will largely depend on how fast they can turn them around.  The faster they can turn them around the less they need.

I'm sure they'll start out slow and cautiously to start with the Block 5's.

Seems like maybe May before we see a Block 5 fly. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/07/2018 07:28 PM

How many boosters they need will largely depend on how fast they can turn them around.  The faster they can turn them around the less they need.

I'm sure they'll start out slow and cautiously to start with the Block 5's.

Seems like maybe May before we see a Block 5 fly.

And maybe December, they'll want to use another one.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AC in NC on 02/08/2018 03:02 AM
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
I wonder if they take the "self-insurance" opportunity with Starlink payloads to just run up gaudy numbers of same-core reuses and turnaround times to get real empircal results on the books to prove what they have.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 02/08/2018 03:23 AM
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
I wonder if they take the "self-insurance" opportunity with Starlink payloads to just run up gaudy numbers of same-core reuses and turnaround times to get real empircal results on the books to prove what they have.

They aren't going to risk payloads. 

Through inspections and evaluations they'll be able to determine if there is reasonable safety to fly the next mission.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: hkultala on 02/08/2018 07:47 AM
SpaceX has already explored the flight envelope pretty thoroughly with Block 3/4. They won't be asking Block 5 to fly much hotter reentries than the GTO missions they've already landed (because FH). They have a decent sample of post-GTO landed boosters to evaluate in order to set requirements for Block 5. I'd be surprised if they underperform on Block 5 reusability. Customer acceptance is a somewhat different story, but because of how surprisingly well Block 3/4 performed on those marginal GTO landings, SpaceX really has no excuses for failing to deliver a workhorse Block 5.
Hotter ?
I think Block 5 re-entries will be cooler.
Re-entry burn starts a few seconds sooner plus the higher thrust, so peak heating is lower, even if re-entry starts a bit faster.A
Most extra performance is used on the way up, but certainly some is saved for re-entry.
The upper stage also has more performance too. All of that goes to the payload orbit.
The whole point of Block 5 is no more re-entries too hot to reuse.

I think you have understood wrongly where the extra performance comes from.

The engine thrust increase won't give big extra performance because the amount of fuel is not increasing, it only gives slight decrease in gravity losses.

AFAIK considerable part of the "increased performance" of block 5 comes comes from less fuel used for re-entry and landing.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/08/2018 11:27 AM
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
I wonder if they take the "self-insurance" opportunity with Starlink payloads to just run up gaudy numbers of same-core reuses and turnaround times to get real empircal results on the books to prove what they have.

Would be fun, but unfortunate certainty other customers and FAA would object to flights following the explosion, and not be willing to simply assume it was due to reuse.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 02/08/2018 07:59 PM
SpaceX has already explored the flight envelope pretty thoroughly with Block 3/4. They won't be asking Block 5 to fly much hotter reentries than the GTO missions they've already landed (because FH). They have a decent sample of post-GTO landed boosters to evaluate in order to set requirements for Block 5. I'd be surprised if they underperform on Block 5 reusability. Customer acceptance is a somewhat different story, but because of how surprisingly well Block 3/4 performed on those marginal GTO landings, SpaceX really has no excuses for failing to deliver a workhorse Block 5.
Hotter ?
I think Block 5 re-entries will be cooler.
Re-entry burn starts a few seconds sooner plus the higher thrust, so peak heating is lower, even if re-entry starts a bit faster.A
Most extra performance is used on the way up, but certainly some is saved for re-entry.
The upper stage also has more performance too. All of that goes to the payload orbit.
The whole point of Block 5 is no more re-entries too hot to reuse.

I think you have understood wrongly where the extra performance comes from.

The engine thrust increase won't give big extra performance because the amount of fuel is not increasing, it only gives slight decrease in gravity losses.

AFAIK considerable part of the "increased performance" of block 5 comes comes from less fuel used for re-entry and landing.

Amount of fuel loaded depends on LOX and helium load times among other factors, we don't know that it won't be higher than Block 3&4.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: deruch on 02/10/2018 11:25 AM
SpaceX has already explored the flight envelope pretty thoroughly with Block 3/4. They won't be asking Block 5 to fly much hotter reentries than the GTO missions they've already landed (because FH). They have a decent sample of post-GTO landed boosters to evaluate in order to set requirements for Block 5. I'd be surprised if they underperform on Block 5 reusability. Customer acceptance is a somewhat different story, but because of how surprisingly well Block 3/4 performed on those marginal GTO landings, SpaceX really has no excuses for failing to deliver a workhorse Block 5.
Hotter ?
I think Block 5 re-entries will be cooler.
Re-entry burn starts a few seconds sooner plus the higher thrust, so peak heating is lower, even if re-entry starts a bit faster.A
Most extra performance is used on the way up, but certainly some is saved for re-entry.
The upper stage also has more performance too. All of that goes to the payload orbit.
The whole point of Block 5 is no more re-entries too hot to reuse.

I think you have understood wrongly where the extra performance comes from.

The engine thrust increase won't give big extra performance because the amount of fuel is not increasing, it only gives slight decrease in gravity losses.

AFAIK considerable part of the "increased performance" of block 5 comes comes from less fuel used for re-entry and landing.

Amount of fuel loaded depends on LOX and helium load times among other factors, we don't know that it won't be higher than Block 3&4.

The advantage of 5-10 min. shorter load time is pretty marginal.  It's not nothing and every bit helps, but still.  If the Block 5 is going to deliver big improvements in performance, I can't see that as being a real significant part of the reason why. 
Title: ANy updates on Block 5 fueling...
Post by: cferreir on 02/10/2018 02:34 PM
What is the current speculation/insight into the Block 5 fueling process for Crew Dragon? Has NASA agreed to continued fueling with crew in the capsule or has SpaceX relented to end fueling process of the booster before loading crew?
Title: Re: ANy updates on Block 5 fueling...
Post by: gongora on 02/10/2018 03:01 PM
What is the current speculation/insight into the Block 5 fueling process for Crew Dragon? Has NASA agreed to continued fueling with crew in the capsule or has SpaceX relented to end fueling process of the booster before loading crew?

It hasn't been announced yet.  It may not have been decided yet.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 02/10/2018 04:23 PM
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
I wonder if they take the "self-insurance" opportunity with Starlink payloads to just run up gaudy numbers of same-core reuses and turnaround times to get real empircal results on the books to prove what they have.

Would be fun, but unfortunate certainty other customers and FAA would object to flights following the explosion, and not be willing to simply assume it was due to reuse.

What explosion?

I think they could follow this approach to run a booster up to ten launches or so and get it into refurbishment to see what they have built and provide assurance to their customers concerning repeated reuse.  Will probably be tweaks that are fed back to other boosters to improve the reliability of all to reach that first refurb.  Could run the lead booster through another ten or so after refurbishment to repeat the learning process.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AC in NC on 02/10/2018 04:49 PM
Would be fun, but unfortunate certainty other customers and FAA would object to flights following the explosion, and not be willing to simply assume it was due to reuse.
What explosion?

I think they could follow this approach to run a booster up to ten launches or so and get it into refurbishment to see what they have built and provide assurance to their customers concerning repeated reuse.  Will probably be tweaks that are fed back to other boosters to improve the reliability of all to reach that first refurb.  Could run the lead booster through another ten or so after refurbishment to repeat the learning process.

Thanks for expanding on what I was sort of driving at.

At some point you have to get into rapid turnaround since you went to all that trouble to build it.  I suppose you could just doing it very incrementally all the way up the reuse proving with internal payloads.  And certainly you would take that approach the first few times.  But at some point it seems you want to pick something (eg: like a 10 launch series) and go do it and see what you've got out the back side.  You would be running a risk (of that hypothetical explosion and resultant impact) but it seems like one important to take sometime.  Moreso, if you have a decent instrumentation/inspection regime that gives you good confidence.
Title: Re: ANy updates on Block 5 fueling...
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/10/2018 04:55 PM
What is the current speculation/insight into the Block 5 fueling process for Crew Dragon? Has NASA agreed to continued fueling with crew in the capsule or has SpaceX relented to end fueling process of the booster before loading crew?

The last NASA ASAP report I saw said that NASA was still reviewing that, so it may be related to how confident they feel in the SpaceX COPV issue - which NASA is participating in with SpaceX
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: joek on 02/10/2018 05:02 PM
IIRC the ASAP-NASA-whoever concern with propellant loading after crew ingress preceded the COPV issue.  Even if ASAP-NASA-whoever is comfortable that COPV issue is solved, that still leaves their concern with propellant load after crew ingress.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: John Alan on 02/10/2018 05:09 PM
I have thought it would be interesting if SpaceX had a spare F9 B5 S1 and a spare Dragon 2 with landing legs.
And some spare pad time and Money to burn thru... and time/money for 10 S2's

Launch the same S1 10 times in a relative hurry and prove out land landing 10 times... over say 18 months...

Does two things...
Proves out they can do for hire, non NASA, land landings and take people to non NASA space stations...
Gives them options to get people on orbit if gaining BFS human rating turn into a bureaucratic fuster cluck...

Just a thought... no more then that...  ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/10/2018 06:29 PM
I want that first reflight, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th...  and to find out how many boosters they really need.
I wonder if they take the "self-insurance" opportunity with Starlink payloads to just run up gaudy numbers of same-core reuses and turnaround times to get real empircal results on the books to prove what they have.

Would be fun, but unfortunate certainty other customers and FAA would object to flights following the explosion, and not be willing to simply assume it was due to reuse.

What explosion?

I think they could follow this approach to run a booster up to ten launches or so and get it into refurbishment to see what they have built and provide assurance to their customers concerning repeated reuse.

What I meant was that 'self insurance' has to include the costs of a whole-fleet stand-down, reputational damage, delays in approvals, ...,  it's not purely the cost of loss of vehicle and satellites.

If it was purely the latter - which is what it seemed to me the argument being made was, you would be a whole lot less concerned about issues that considered purely on the risk to the satellites and vehicle aren't concerning, as the costs are not $40M, but several hundred million.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 02/10/2018 08:28 PM
I think they would definitely use Starlink flights to prove out a higher number of reflights with the full inspection/refurb scheme they would use for anyone's flights.  I don't think they'd just keep throwing Starlink sats on top of a booster and flying it until it blows up.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/10/2018 09:32 PM
I think they would definitely use Starlink flights to prove out a higher number of reflights will the full inspection/refurb scheme they would use for anyone's flights.  I don't think they'd just keep throwing Starlink sats on top of a booster and flying it until it blows up.

I am unsure of this - though from the other direction.
I wonder if customers will accept multiple reflights startlingly quicker than industry observers suspect.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 02/10/2018 11:50 PM
I think they would definitely use Starlink flights to prove out a higher number of reflights will the full inspection/refurb scheme they would use for anyone's flights.  I don't think they'd just keep throwing Starlink sats on top of a booster and flying it until it blows up.

I am unsure of this - though from the other direction.
I wonder if customers will accept multiple reflights startlingly quicker than industry observers suspect.
I'm convinced that will be the case. Just like flying on a reused booster is already largely accepted by many SX customers.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 02/11/2018 12:29 PM
I have thought it would be interesting if SpaceX had a spare F9 B5 S1 and a spare Dragon 2 with landing legs.
And some spare pad time and Money to burn thru... and time/money for 10 S2's

Launch the same S1 10 times in a relative hurry and prove out land landing 10 times... over say 18 months...

Wouldnt even need a stage 2 just do suborbital flights.

What is the current speculation/insight into the Block 5 fueling process for Crew Dragon? Has NASA agreed to continued fueling with crew in the capsule or has SpaceX relented to end fueling process of the booster before loading crew?

Im still not sure I buy that sitting in a capsule with a LES while the rocket is being fueled is more dangerous than walking out unprotected and boarding said rocket while it is fully fueled.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: TripD on 02/12/2018 06:19 AM
Quote
Im still not sure I buy that sitting in a capsule with a LES while the rocket is being fueled is more dangerous than walking out unprotected and boarding said rocket while it is fully fueled.

If we assume that walking out after fueling is the safer way to go,  how quickly could the crew enter and prepare for the flight?  How much boil off would take place?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Klebiano on 02/12/2018 01:10 PM
What are the improvements of the block V? They're changing components for better reusability or increase the payload capacity?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 02/12/2018 01:24 PM
What are the improvements of the block V? They're changing components for better reusability or increase the payload capacity?

Some of each, is the consensus. There is not a public list of improvements, AFAIK, as it probably is propietary. But reading this thread will give you lots of informed speculation to mull over.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 02/12/2018 01:29 PM
I'm trying to figure out which vehicle will be the first Block 5 launch.

Closest I could figure is Iridium 6/ Grace FO.

Anyone else have a guess on this?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: tvg98 on 02/12/2018 02:00 PM
What are the improvements of the block V? They're changing components for better reusability or increase the payload capacity?

There's hundreds of them and some of these include increasing the thrust of Merlin (yet again), landing legs which are retractable, as well as an external heat shield at the base that is based on Inconel. All in all, the aims are to improve performance, decrease manufacturing costs, streamline the refurbishment process and to have it ready for certification for crew flights in the near future.   

Sources:
Heat shield - https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/7p6763/block_5_booster_made_an_appearance_in_the_zuma/dsfbgvy/ (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/7p6763/block_5_booster_made_an_appearance_in_the_zuma/dsfbgvy/)

Legs and reusability - https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/6b043z/tom_mueller_interview_speech_skype_call_02_may/dhiygzm/ (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/6b043z/tom_mueller_interview_speech_skype_call_02_may/dhiygzm/)

http://spacenews.com/spacex-aims-to-follow-a-banner-year-with-an-even-faster-2018-launch-cadence/ (http://spacenews.com/spacex-aims-to-follow-a-banner-year-with-an-even-faster-2018-launch-cadence/)

Quote
The Block 5 Falcon rocket that we’re rolling out later this year is going to have a reusable thermal protection on it; so we don’t burn up the heat shielding on it. And it’s going to have a much better landing legs that just fold up and; just drop the rocket, fold the legs, ship it, fold the legs out when it lands.

Quote
Elon asked us to do a twelve-hour turn. And we came back and said without some major redesigns to the rocket, with just the Block 5, we can get to a 24-hour turn, and he accepted that. A 24-hour turn time. And that doesn’t mean we want to fly the rocket, you know, once a day; although we could, if we really pushed it. What it does is, limits how much labor, how much <touch?> labor we can put into it. If we can turn a rocket in 24 hours with just a few people, you’re nuts. <inaudible> low cost, low opportunity cost in getting the rocket to fly again

Quote
The Block 5 iteration has four goals, Shotwell said — meeting civil and defense requirements, increasing lift capability, simplifying manufacturability, and rapid reusability.

Link to picture: https://twitter.com/oli_braun/status/958276326372397056 (https://twitter.com/oli_braun/status/958276326372397056)

Hope this helps!

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 02/13/2018 07:24 AM
Will “fairing 2.0” be a part of the block 5, or phased in separately?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Eagandale4114 on 02/17/2018 07:43 PM
Will “fairing 2.0” be a part of the block 5, or phased in separately?

It looks like PAZ will be the first fairing 2.0 flight.

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/964937069901447168/

Quote
Team at Vandenberg is taking additional time to perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing. Payload and vehicle remain healthy. Due to mission requirements, now targeting February 21 launch of PAZ.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 02/17/2018 08:46 PM
Will “fairing 2.0” be a part of the block 5, or phased in separately?

It looks like PAZ will be the first fairing 2.0 flight.

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/964937069901447168/

Quote
Team at Vandenberg is taking additional time to perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing. Payload and vehicle remain healthy. Due to mission requirements, now targeting February 21 launch of PAZ.

It could mean that yes, or simply recovery upgrades to the existing fairing. We don't know yet.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Urx on 02/18/2018 06:27 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 02/18/2018 06:37 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

The non-roundness is caused by the wrapping holders being a specific shape (along with the raceways on the core).

The booster that was pictured from a bridge IS a Block 5, I don't know about the one in front of the HIF.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: hkultala on 02/18/2018 07:57 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

No.

AFAIK the interstage of block 5 will be black. (probably just left unpainted, as carbon fiber as black natively).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 02/18/2018 08:17 PM
AFAIK the interstage of block 5 will be black. (probably just left unpainted, as carbon fiber as black natively).

The nice black/grey pattern of woven carbon fiber will look nice
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: niwax on 02/18/2018 09:23 PM
AFAIK the interstage of block 5 will be black. (probably just left unpainted, as carbon fiber as black natively).

The nice black/grey pattern of woven carbon fiber will look nice

Are you sure of that? Carbon fiber is sensitive to UV light and starts to decompose and lose strength. On the other hand, it would be another cool in-your-face to other rocket manufacturers when the majority of rockets a typical person will see are reusable and obviously carbon fiber.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 02/18/2018 10:04 PM
AFAIK the interstage of block 5 will be black. (probably just left unpainted, as carbon fiber as black natively).

The nice black/grey pattern of woven carbon fiber will look nice

Are you sure of that? Carbon fiber is sensitive to UV light and starts to decompose and lose strength. On the other hand, it would be another cool in-your-face to other rocket manufacturers when the majority of rockets a typical person will see are reusable and obviously carbon fiber.

UV does like degrading carbon bonds.  However, it's not like these vehicles stay outside 24/7. 

Could save a few ounces of paint (maybe a pound or two).

Maybe it has a purpose, maybe its just a way of visually demonstrating that it's a new vehicle. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: niwax on 02/18/2018 10:11 PM
AFAIK the interstage of block 5 will be black. (probably just left unpainted, as carbon fiber as black natively).

The nice black/grey pattern of woven carbon fiber will look nice

Are you sure of that? Carbon fiber is sensitive to UV light and starts to decompose and lose strength. On the other hand, it would be another cool in-your-face to other rocket manufacturers when the majority of rockets a typical person will see are reusable and obviously carbon fiber.

UV does like degrading carbon bonds.  However, it's not like these vehicles stay outside 24/7. 

They penetrate the ozone layer for a heavy dose of UV and they do stand on the launch pad or next to it for days. One study I saw found 29% performance degradation after just 1000h of normal irradiation. Considering 10 flights between refurbishments that is not a lot and I don't think replacing the carbon fiber components is in scope for refurbishment anyways.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/18/2018 10:19 PM
They penetrate the ozone layer for a heavy dose of UV and they do stand on the launch pad or next to it for days. One study I saw found 29% performance degradation after just 1000h of normal irradiation. Considering 10 flights between refurbishments that is not a lot and I don't think replacing the carbon fiber components counts is in scope for refurbishment anyways.

Maybe it's all one plan!
Perhaps soot absorbs UV really well.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Testraindrop on 02/18/2018 10:21 PM
Maybe they will put some clear coat on the CF, like car manufacturers do...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/18/2018 11:19 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

Making the  Block 5 core into an octagon that still is only 3.7 m high & maintains road-transportability would give it more internal volume than a 3.7m diameter cylinder by 5.4%.  Not saying it's a good idea, just saying that the current F9 core supposedly is limited to 3.7m by transportation considerations.  An octagon with a diameter of 4m can be stacked so that it is only 3.7 meters in height, & would still fit under transportation constraints.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rpapo on 02/18/2018 11:25 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

Making the  Block 5 core into an octagon that still is only 3.7 m high & maintains road-transportability would give it more internal volume than a 3.7m diameter cylinder by 5.4%.  Not saying it's a good idea, just saying that the current F9 core supposedly is limited to 3.7m by transportation considerations.  An octagon with a diameter of 4m can be stacked so that it is only 3.7 meters in height, & would still fit under transportation constraints.
Unfortunately, it would not have the same strength as a pressurized cylinder.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 02/19/2018 04:29 AM
Maybe they will put some clear coat on the CF, like car manufacturers do...

Right. There's a reason why most metal on rockets is painted, and it's not for adding strength - mostly to protect against the elements.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: lrk on 02/19/2018 06:15 PM
I read somewhere on the forum that all Block 5 boosters will include the side-booster attachment hardware on the octaweb.  I thought that the major reason for switching to bolted octawebs was to make this easily configurable?  Can somebody comment on this? 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rpapo on 02/19/2018 06:18 PM
I read somewhere on the forum that all Block 5 boosters will include the side-booster attachment hardware on the octaweb.  I thought that the major reason for switching to bolted octawebs was to make this easily configurable?  Can somebody comment on this?
And here I thought/assumed that the transition from welded to bolted octaweb was simply a matter of making the whole thing more serviceable.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 02/19/2018 06:20 PM
I read somewhere on the forum that all Block 5 boosters will include the side-booster attachment hardware on the octaweb.  I thought that the major reason for switching to bolted octawebs was to make this easily configurable?  Can somebody comment on this?

Well the answer is right there (in my naive view as a software engineer). Since the Octoweb is bolted, not welded, the side-booster attachment hardware could just be bolted on. So not the actual attachment hardware needs to be there, just the holes in the octoweb where it is bolted on if it needs to be there. If they make the hard points accessible without deconstructing the whole thing, this should be possible in a day or two.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: lrk on 02/19/2018 11:21 PM
I read somewhere on the forum that all Block 5 boosters will include the side-booster attachment hardware on the octaweb.  I thought that the major reason for switching to bolted octawebs was to make this easily configurable?  Can somebody comment on this?

Well the answer is right there (in my naive view as a software engineer). Since the Octoweb is bolted, not welded, the side-booster attachment hardware could just be bolted on. So not the actual attachment hardware needs to be there, just the holes in the octoweb where it is bolted on if it needs to be there. If they make the hard points accessible without deconstructing the whole thing, this should be possible in a day or two.

What I meant was that I read that all cores would have the hard points attached, at all times.  Why would they still have switched to (heavier) bolted octawebs if that is the case? 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Kansan52 on 02/19/2018 11:27 PM
The above post on increasing serviceability seems to be a good reason for the bolted, not welded, frame.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2018 02:33 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg (https://i.redd.it/snje9xc7ei801.jpg) and https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg (https://i.redd.it/youjp8a8slg01.jpg)
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

Making the  Block 5 core into an octagon that still is only 3.7 m high & maintains road-transportability would give it more internal volume than a 3.7m diameter cylinder by 5.4%.  Not saying it's a good idea, just saying that the current F9 core supposedly is limited to 3.7m by transportation considerations.  An octagon with a diameter of 4m can be stacked so that it is only 3.7 meters in height, & would still fit under transportation constraints.
Unfortunately, it would not have the same strength as a pressurized cylinder.
I hate it when a bad idea keeps worming it's way inside my mind, so to get it out of my mind, I'll just point out the following about a block 5 core shaped as an octagon that fits a 3.7m diameter circumscribed circle within it:
1.  It is consistent with statements that Block 5 will be immediately recognizable on the pad
2.  it is consistent with the option to make a slightly larger S2.   The octagon formfactor could be made to include the interstage & adapt to S2.
3.  It is consistent with Musk saying a slightly larger fairing is under consideration.  If S2 is also octagonal, a new fairing would probably be preferred unless SpaceX thinks it OK to let the octagon vertices lay outside the fairing 3.7m diameter at the base of the PAF.
4.  It is consistent with the uprated payload to LEO & GTO.  It would enable adding about 15-17t of prop to S1, & additional optimization to S2.  The "fineness" ratio that F9 can support as a octagon will enable a further stretch of S2.
5.  An octagon still works with the existing octaweb, as each vertice of the octaweb will intersect the midpoint of each face of the octagon core.
6.  An octagon formfactor for the core is consistent with the need to make new landing legs. 

As to an octagon not being ideal for a pressurized container, this is obviously true, but I don't see that it would be a show stopper, & the core is not pressurized that high ( 40psi?  A COPV it is not).  SpaceX is optimizing for performance to GTO & re-use, so why let some compressive loads in the vertices get in the way of that?  Al-Li is perfectly capable of supporting compressive loads & bending moments.  That is what finite element analysis is for. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/20/2018 02:35 PM
As to an octagon not being ideal for a pressurized container, this is obviously true, but I don't see that it would be a show stopper, & the core is not pressurized that high ( 40psi?  A COPV it is not).  SpaceX is optimizing for performance to GTO & re-use, so why let some compressive loads in the vertices get in the way of that?  Al-Li is perfectly capable of supporting compressive loads & bending moments.  That is what finite element analysis is for.

It could pop round on the pad, when filled at 40PSI, and collapse to an octagon for transport.
What a visionary idea!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jim on 02/20/2018 02:57 PM

As to an octagon not being ideal for a pressurized container, this is obviously true, but I don't see that it would be a show stopper, & the core is not pressurized that high ( 40psi?  A COPV it is not).   


You are forgetting head pressure and acceleration.  An octagon is a non starter

Not going to work with composite interstages.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Mader Levap on 02/20/2018 03:09 PM
Man, people are trying to read a lot from something that has simpler explanation. ::)

It is just package that is octagonal, not rocket itself.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: robert_d on 02/20/2018 04:02 PM
Could the following images be the first one of Block 5?
IIRC there was a comment that B5 would be immediately recognizable. To me, these cores no longer look completely round. It that what was meant by that comment?

Doesn't look like a regular octagon to me. I would speculate a transport frame of some sort - but possibly protecting something new external to the main tanks. Wild speculative question - Since legs extend the the cross section anyway would there be any gain to place the COPV's in external cowlings? Gives additional internal volume in the tanks and removes the issue of contact with the LOX.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2018 04:06 PM

As to an octagon not being ideal for a pressurized container, this is obviously true, but I don't see that it would be a show stopper, & the core is not pressurized that high ( 40psi?  A COPV it is not).   


You are forgetting head pressure and acceleration.  An octagon is a non starter

Not going to work with composite interstages.
I'm not forgetting those considerations. I just listed the considerations that would favor an octagon formfactor. I think the 6 items listed was worth "speculating" on, as this is the speculation thread.

Those more in the know than myself can easily list the factors that make it a bad idea.  I'm sure there are those here that have seen & worked on block 5 & know for certain, but they evidently are not sharing the details.  How many of those non starter ideas can be fixed with a few $100M in engineering trades?


Having said that, I have seen very little in this block 5 speculation thread that explains how F9 will get to the performance specs that were being tossed out by SpaceX.  Uprated engine thrust, at the same ISP,  eats into gravity losses & therefore increases performance, but total prop & increased vehicle GLOW seems to need to be increased.  Weight savings on the legs doesn't leverage much increase in payload to GTO.   Where is the performance coming from?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: acsawdey on 02/20/2018 04:12 PM
Having said that, I have seen very little in this block 5 speculation thread that explains how F9 will get to the performance specs that were being tossed out by SpaceX.  Uprated engine thrust, at the same ISP,  eats into gravity losses & therefore increases performance, but total prop & increased vehicle GLOW seems to need to be increased.  Weight savings on the legs doesn't leverage much increase in payload to GTO.   Where is the performance coming from?

Fly at higher angle of attack to reduce boostback burn?
Better thermal protection so less reentry burn is needed?
Partial powered extension of legs to use as an air brake, reducing landing burn?
More reliable start and throttle control to reduce the length of the landing burn even further, shaving off gravity loss?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2018 04:30 PM

You are forgetting head pressure and acceleration.  An octagon is a non starter

Not going to work with composite interstages.

My deal killer for an octagon vehicle is not the engineering problems, I bet they could be solved, but I see zero chance you try something like this on the vehicle you are going to use for commercial crew.  ASAP would laugh SpaceX out of contention.

Again, my 6 points were just speculating on how an octagon has some theoretical advantages consistent with the statements from SpaceX.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Basto on 02/20/2018 05:41 PM
Regarding the “octagonal” appearance. It is just how they wrap the cores. Here is an older core photo that has a similar shape.

https://twitter.com/ikluft/status/534266046920654848?s=12
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Rabidpanda on 02/20/2018 09:13 PM

You are forgetting head pressure and acceleration.  An octagon is a non starter

Not going to work with composite interstages.

My deal killer for an octagon vehicle is not the engineering problems, I bet they could be solved, but I see zero chance you try something like this on the vehicle you are going to use for commercial crew.  ASAP would laugh SpaceX out of contention.

Again, my 6 points were just speculating on how an octagon has some theoretical advantages consistent with the statements from SpaceX.

An octagonal pressure vessel would to be significantly heavier than a cylindrical pressure vessel, all else being equal. That is the deal breaker. It could be made safe, it could be qualified to fly crew, it would just be extremely inefficient and the extra weight would far outweigh any small packaging advantages.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gregpet on 02/24/2018 06:54 PM
SpaceX has stated that Block 5 will be "the final version" of F9, and clearly SpaceX wants to move on to the BFR.

There were comments (from Spacex) about a new leg design, changes for rapid reusability, an update to the Merlin engines to address known issues, and I believe a thrust increase.

What we don't know is what they're planning to include with F9B5

Will F9B5 have features that will help with BFR development (e.g. an option for cradle landing?)
Will there be provisions for barge fly-back? (as per an isolated comment from Musk a while back?)

Also in-scope: FHB5

Stay tuned!

Can you truly have the kind of rapid re-usability that Elon talks about without a cradle style landing?  Just lifting the S1 and resetting legs (regardless of design) would seem like a non-trivial, time consuming procedure.

If they move towards cradle landings for S1, I would assume that we would see it first on barge landing attempts (for obvious reasons).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/24/2018 07:03 PM
Can you truly have the kind of rapid re-usability that Elon talks about without a cradle style landing?  Just lifting the S1 and resetting legs (regardless of design) would seem like a non-trivial, time consuming procedure.

Why?
Container cranes - some of the larger ones - routinely carry payloads of similar masses around at high speed.
The 'octograbber' type idea in principle could also rapidly and quickly position a stage.
Even if you look at actual current manual procedures of getting the S1 off the barge, they're remarkably faster than they were.

In principle there seems little stopping the F9 landing very near the launchpad, being rapidly checked out, and relaunched well within a week - at least - the 'get the empty stage to a known consistent position' is not a limiter.

No, you're not going to do passenger launches of it ten times a day. (probably)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gregpet on 02/25/2018 05:51 PM
If you are talking about weeks or even a week I think you are right, but Elon uses words like "rapid" re-usability. To get to rapid I still think the use of legs are going to be awkward and slow.  Not to mention a cradle saves  weight (no legs) and better fault tolerance (malfunctioning leg).

Clearly SpaceX is moving to cradles since this is how the BFR will be landing.  The only question is whether the Falcon 9 will eventually land on a cradle.  It would also seem reasonable to learn cradle landings with the Falcon 9 instead of the much larger BFR.  The landing accuracy of the current Falcon 9 is already pretty amazing...


   

Can you truly have the kind of rapid re-usability that Elon talks about without a cradle style landing?  Just lifting the S1 and resetting legs (regardless of design) would seem like a non-trivial, time consuming procedure.

Why?
Container cranes - some of the larger ones - routinely carry payloads of similar masses around at high speed.
The 'octograbber' type idea in principle could also rapidly and quickly position a stage.
Even if you look at actual current manual procedures of getting the S1 off the barge, they're remarkably faster than they were.

In principle there seems little stopping the F9 landing very near the launchpad, being rapidly checked out, and relaunched well within a week - at least - the 'get the empty stage to a known consistent position' is not a limiter.

No, you're not going to do passenger launches of it ten times a day. (probably)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 02/26/2018 01:27 PM
I think the addition of thrusters top and bottom on the BFR make a cradle landing a lot easier. For the f9 to do a horizontal adjustment it needs to tip to change the thrust vector from vertical. With BFR a small horizontal adjustment can be done with thrusters top and bottom moving it sideways with out the need to tip. Almost the same problem as with boats. The addition of thrusters allows a boat to move to a dock sideways without changing the boats heading.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Eerie on 02/26/2018 03:43 PM
Octagon rockets are not crazy enough. Triangular prism is clearly the best shape.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Norm38 on 02/28/2018 05:36 PM
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/02/first-falcon-9-block-5-readying-static-fire-mcgregor-rapid-reuse/
Quote
NASA is requiring SpaceX to fly a “frozen” configuration of the Block 5 – meaning every vehicle is built the same way – successfully for at least 7 flights.

This seems to be an arbitrary requirement.  Based on what?  Certainly not based on any practice NASA itself followed.
And is it truly that SpaceX must build and fly 7 separate cores?  Or can some of those 7 be re-flights?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 02/28/2018 06:12 PM
And is it truly that SpaceX must build and fly 7 separate cores?  Or can some of those 7 be re-flights?

This is not a particularly onerous requirement.
They have 25 or so (I have not checked) launches till the end of the year, before crew is supposed to fly, even a third of those being new cores would work.

Especially as they're building up a stock of block 5s, that they want to use till the BFS (and maybe BFR) is ready.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 03/10/2018 03:24 PM
Just a little bit of speculation here, I bet SpaceX is going to want to turn around and reuse the first Block 5 booster ASAP, putting the new capability on display. With the launch tempo they are getting into there will be plenty of opportunities. Relaunching a booster a week after its first flight would turn heads.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/10/2018 04:15 PM
The quick turn-around may follow a few flights/reflights of Block 5.
Should take the time to check that your design is performing as planned.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 03/10/2018 04:18 PM
The quick turn-around may follow a few flights/reflights of Block 5.
Should take the time to check that your design is performing as planned.

Yeah, I owuldn't be surprised if they did a teardown of the first one or two cores post-landing, similar to what is done with the FT cores for refurb.

Check every little spot for issues.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/10/2018 05:00 PM
The quick turn-around may follow a few flights/reflights of Block 5.
Should take the time to check that your design is performing as planned.

Yeah, I owuldn't be surprised if they did a teardown of the first one or two cores post-landing, similar to what is done with the FT cores for refurb.

Check every little spot for issues.

They have done that very thoroughly on the landed boosters already. They have identified spots that don't hold up very well and/or are not easily refurbished. They have upgraded those spots. They now need to check how the upgrades hold up to expectations. That does not need redoing the full inspection of the vehicle. That will come after 3 or 4 flights probably.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/10/2018 07:07 PM
The quick turn-around may follow a few flights/reflights of Block 5.
Should take the time to check that your design is performing as planned.

Yeah, I owuldn't be surprised if they did a teardown of the first one or two cores post-landing, similar to what is done with the FT cores for refurb.

Check every little spot for issues.

They have done that very thoroughly on the landed boosters already. They have identified spots that don't hold up very well and/or are not easily refurbished. They have upgraded those spots. They now need to check how the upgrades hold up to expectations. That does not need redoing the full inspection of the vehicle. That will come after 3 or 4 flights probably.

I think you're being optimistic.  These are rockets after all.  They have experience people now and will have things they specifically want to check.  I think they will be very thorough on the first ones.  At a minimum to confirm their expectations and establish baselines for the new vehicles.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 03/10/2018 11:28 PM
Maybe they will put some clear coat on the CF, like car manufacturers do...
But why, when the whole point of using that material is to reduce weight?
The point is to find the right balance between weight and cost. Carbon fiber with a clear coat may weigh less than carbon fiber with regular paint, and outperform (durabilitywise) uncoated.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/11/2018 07:57 AM
I think you're being optimistic.  These are rockets after all. 

Yes I am.

They have experience people now and will have things they specifically want to check.  I think they will be very thorough on the first ones.  At a minimum to confirm their expectations and establish baselines for the new vehicles.

That was my point. They have experienced people. These rockets have been most thoroughly evaluated. They will check how the upgrades perform. They don't start from scratch.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: deruch on 03/12/2018 01:34 PM
That was my point. They have experienced people. These rockets have been most thoroughly evaluated. They will check how the upgrades perform. They don't start from scratch.

They will also need to check that the things they changed didn't induce new problems in an unexpected area.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/12/2018 04:34 PM
That was my point. They have experienced people. These rockets have been most thoroughly evaluated. They will check how the upgrades perform. They don't start from scratch.

They will also need to check that the things they changed didn't induce new problems in an unexpected area.

This is the line of reasoning that talked of tearing each flown booster apart to metal scraps and taking decades to get it right. 
Wrong then, wrong now. 

Expect Block 5 boosters to be reflown in weeks to maybe a month at first, then days to a week -- this year.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Okie_Steve on 03/12/2018 09:31 PM
That was my point. They have experienced people. These rockets have been most thoroughly evaluated. They will check how the upgrades perform. They don't start from scratch.

They will also need to check that the things they changed didn't induce new problems in an unexpected area.

This is the line of reasoning that talked of tearing each flown booster apart to metal scraps and taking decades to get it right. 
Wrong then, wrong now. 

Expect Block 5 boosters to be reflown in weeks to maybe a month at first, then days to a week -- this year.

Heavily instrumenting and subjecting the first returned Block 5 to intense scrutiny to check for unintended consequences of changes is not the same a tearing all Block 5 boosters down to scrap metal.  Make sure it's right then build a bunch more with the (almost inevitable) tweaks that seem to be part of rocket families.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Slarty1080 on 03/20/2018 07:12 PM
Can anyone summarise exactly what the differences are between block 5 and block 4?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/20/2018 07:20 PM
Can anyone summarise exactly what the differences are between block 5 and block 4?

Main upgrades:
retractable landing legs
improved turbine on turbo-pump to mitigate blade cracking
better thermal protection at aft end
coating of TPS over stage(?)
titanium grid fins
more thrust

Plus, a fancy new markings, other lessons learned to improve turn-around time and number of reflights (10 between major refurbishments) unknown total number
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/20/2018 07:21 PM
Can anyone summarise exactly what the differences are between block 5 and block 4?

Block 5 has a couple main goals:
1) Meet NASA's human spaceflight certification requirements and fully meet DoD's certification requirements: This drove changes such as a redesigned turbopump on the engines and revised COPV design, as well as many others we probably don't know about.
2) Make the booster easier to manufacture and need much less refurbishment between flights.  This drove changes like improved heat shielding around the base of the rocket, changes to the legs so they're easier to handle after a flight, and many others we probably don't know about.

It sounded like Block 4 was just Block 3 with whatever Block 5 parts were ready at the time.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 03/20/2018 07:23 PM
Can anyone summarise exactly what the differences are between block 5 and block 4?

Most of them deal with improved reuse capability.

- looks. The new interstate and legs have less (or different) paint/coating - this is why they are black. Whatever they’ve done to them should reduce maintenance between flights.

- The legs can also collapsed by recovery crews instead of needing to be taken off. (Goes with the above point I guess)

- Merlin 1D design change to reduce risk for turbo pump cracks. (For crew rating)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/21/2018 07:16 AM
The quick turn-around may follow a few flights/reflights of Block 5.
Should take the time to check that your design is performing as planned.

Yeah, I owuldn't be surprised if they did a teardown of the first one or two cores post-landing, similar to what is done with the FT cores for refurb.

Check every little spot for issues.
Yes, at least with the problem areas on the old design to see they have improved.  However as others noted it's just as important OK stuff (on block 4) has not gotten worse on Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/21/2018 08:32 AM
Can anyone summarise exactly what the differences are between block 5 and block 4?

Block 5 has a couple main goals:
1) Meet NASA's human spaceflight certification requirements and fully meet DoD's certification requirements: This drove changes such as a redesigned turbopump on the engines and revised COPV design, as well as many others we probably don't know about.
2) Make the booster easier to manufacture and need much less refurbishment between flights.  This drove changes like improved heat shielding around the base of the rocket, changes to the legs so they're easier to handle after a flight, and many others we probably don't know about.

It sounded like Block 4 was just Block 3 with whatever Block 5 parts were ready at the time.

Is it safe to conclude then that a Block 5 booster is more expensive to manufacture than Blocks 3 and 4? So while its lifetime cost will be lower due to its rapid reusability capability, for an expendable launch a Block 5 rocket will be more expensive than the previous versions?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: nacnud on 03/21/2018 08:49 AM
I think expendable F9 is more expensive than reusable F9H, so you would need something that maxed out F9H to get into expendable launch territory.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Slarty1080 on 03/21/2018 10:52 AM
I think Titanium grid fins are going to be very expensive
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/21/2018 11:38 AM
I think expendable F9 is more expensive than reusable F9H, so you would need something that maxed out F9H to get into expendable launch territory.

And wouldn't that be a sweet payload to see launch?

Without a payload on the manifest that requires an expendable FH and the rapid reuse Block 5 pending, we shouldn't see any expendable boosters for sometime.  (Pending weather at recovery sites)

These are exciting times! 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/21/2018 12:11 PM
I think expendable F9 is more expensive than reusable F9H, so you would need something that maxed out F9H to get into expendable launch territory.

And wouldn't that be a sweet payload to see launch?

Without a payload on the manifest that requires an expendable FH and the rapid reuse Block 5 pending, we shouldn't see any expendable boosters for sometime.  (Pending weather at recovery sites)

These are exciting times!

Hang on, just so I understand correctly, are we saying that any payload that would require an expendable F9 wil automatically shift to a FH? Will the FH launch frequency and risk profile be interchangeable with F9 to the extent that there is no difference between the two from a customer's perspective?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RonM on 03/21/2018 12:37 PM
With the F9 and FH combo why would SpaceX expend a perfectly good Block 5? They say Block 5 can get 10 launches before being refurbished. Same should be true for FH core and boosters.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/21/2018 12:59 PM
Hang on, just so I understand correctly, are we saying that any payload that would require an expendable F9 wil automatically shift to a FH? Will the FH launch frequency and risk profile be interchangeable with F9 to the extent that there is no difference between the two from a customer's perspective?

It may take a few years to get to that point.  FH will have a much lower launch frequency than F9, and SpaceX still needs to see if flying FH-R is as cheap as they hope it will be.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cscott on 03/21/2018 01:40 PM



Is it safe to conclude then that a Block 5 booster is more expensive to manufacture than Blocks 3 and 4? So while its lifetime cost will be lower due to its rapid reusability capability, for an expendable launch a Block 5 rocket will be more expensive than the previous versions?

Probably, but who knows to what extent.  We know Ti grid fins are expensive---at least the prototypes were.  Probably metallic heat shields are more expensive than SPAM as well?  But most of the changes are probably a wash as far as costs go.  Some of the changes, like better leg handling, will probably reduce costs.  I don't expect the retail cost to change significantly.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/21/2018 01:53 PM



Is it safe to conclude then that a Block 5 booster is more expensive to manufacture than Blocks 3 and 4? So while its lifetime cost will be lower due to its rapid reusability capability, for an expendable launch a Block 5 rocket will be more expensive than the previous versions?

Probably, but who knows to what extent.  We know Ti grid fins are expensive---at least the prototypes were.  Probably metallic heat shields are more expensive than SPAM as well?  But most of the changes are probably a wash as far as costs go.  Some of the changes, like better leg handling, will probably reduce costs.  I don't expect the retail cost to change significantly.

And many of these features can be removed if booster is to be expended (grid fins, legs, 'sport interstage' with ACS)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/21/2018 02:01 PM
Is it safe to conclude then that a Block 5 booster is more expensive to manufacture than Blocks 3 and 4?

Not necessarily.

For instance, with Block 5 they could be implementing new stage construction techniques due to lessons learned with all early stage variations. I have no inside knowledge of SpaceX, but it's not unusual for engineering and manufacturing engineering to rethink how things should be built and assembled after they have been building something for a while, and then implement significant changes to those processes with major product changes.

Quote
So while its lifetime cost will be lower due to its rapid reusability capability, for an expendable launch a Block 5 rocket will be more expensive than the previous versions?

Also possible. But let's say it's 15% more expensive to build a Block 5 than a Block 3, but a Block 5 will fly 10 times versus twice for the Block 3 - being slightly more expensive won't change the economics of reusability.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/21/2018 02:41 PM
I think expendable F9 is more expensive than reusable F9H, so you would need something that maxed out F9H to get into expendable launch territory.

And wouldn't that be a sweet payload to see launch?

Without a payload on the manifest that requires an expendable FH and the rapid reuse Block 5 pending, we shouldn't see any expendable boosters for sometime.  (Pending weather at recovery sites)

These are exciting times!

Hang on, just so I understand correctly, are we saying that any payload that would require an expendable F9 wil automatically shift to a FH? Will the FH launch frequency and risk profile be interchangeable with F9 to the extent that there is no difference between the two from a customer's perspective?

Maybe not right away, but if the Block 5 is close to as quick and affordable to turn around as planned, then yes. 

Even if the cost is nearly equal then it seems from Elon and SpaceX's past behavior would tend toward reuse.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AbuSimbel on 03/21/2018 03:18 PM
I think expendable F9 is more expensive than reusable F9H, so you would need something that maxed out F9H to get into expendable launch territory.

And wouldn't that be a sweet payload to see launch?

Without a payload on the manifest that requires an expendable FH and the rapid reuse Block 5 pending, we shouldn't see any expendable boosters for sometime.  (Pending weather at recovery sites)

These are exciting times!

Hang on, just so I understand correctly, are we saying that any payload that would require an expendable F9 wil automatically shift to a FH? Will the FH launch frequency and risk profile be interchangeable with F9 to the extent that there is no difference between the two from a customer's perspective?

Maybe not right away, but if the Block 5 is close to as quick and affordable to turn around as planned, then yes. 

Even if the cost is nearly equal then it seems from Elon and SpaceX's past behavior would tend toward reuse.
If your core can be reused multiple times, by expending it prematurely you lose much more than the cost to build it. If the core can make them more money with reflights than the customer would pay for an expendable launch why would SpaceX accept to expend their asset? There's a point where it makes financial sense to outright refuse to sell expendable F9 launches, even if it means losing a contract. That point is closer than many think, IMO.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/21/2018 03:35 PM
... Will the FH launch frequency and risk profile be interchangeable with F9 to the extent that there is no difference between the two from a customer's perspective?

With 3x booster reuse and a growing number of heavier commsats, FH could reach a reasonable cadence and insurance rate in less than a year. As long as the launch+insurance cost for FH is less than the launch+insurance cost of F9 expendable, customers won't care much about reliability.

So it really comes down to when SpaceX can support, with FH, the 3 or 4 flights a year that are larger than 5.5 tonnes to GTO. I don't think it will take very long after Block 5 is fully implemented.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/21/2018 07:19 PM
If your core can be reused multiple times, by expending it prematurely you lose much more than the cost to build it. If the core can make them more money with reflights than the customer would pay for an expendable launch why would SpaceX accept to expend their asset? There's a point where it makes financial sense to outright refuse to sell expendable F9 launches, even if it means losing a contract. That point is closer than many think, IMO.
Unlikely to be an issue right now. IIRC SX have a bunch of cores at 2 flights, so a 3rd expendable flight in expendable mode is perfectly feasible. Stripping any recovery hardware that can be stripped, not sending out the recovery ships all cuts the cost of that launch.

But that's the situation now.

As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

IOW there will come a time when if you want the maximum payload/delta v range you'll either be asked to pay a premium (at a minimum the cost of a replacement F9 stage) or you'll be asked to shift it to FH (remember I'm assuming there will be point where all boosters are Blk5, including the FH ones).

And I'd expect that won't be the F9 price, it will be the FH price to do so.

But that won't happen till the the existing previous blocks have hit EoL.





Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 03/21/2018 07:39 PM
If you built a Block 5 launch vehicle for $50M and sold the expendable launch for $90M you'd make a nice profit, loss of future uses has nothing to do with it unless your production capacity wouldn't allow you to make enough boosters to service your other customers.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/21/2018 07:43 PM
If you built a Block 5 launch vehicle for $50M and sold the expendable launch for $90M you'd make a nice profit, loss of future uses has nothing to do with it unless your production capacity wouldn't allow you to make enough boosters to service your other customers.

Which could be a problem if SpaceX is trying to move production resources to making more upper stages, or to making BFR/BFS.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/21/2018 07:46 PM
If your core can be reused multiple times, by expending it prematurely you lose much more than the cost to build it. If the core can make them more money with reflights than the customer would pay for an expendable launch why would SpaceX accept to expend their asset? There's a point where it makes financial sense to outright refuse to sell expendable F9 launches, even if it means losing a contract. That point is closer than many think, IMO.
Unlikely to be an issue right now. IIRC SX have a bunch of cores at 2 flights, so a 3rd expendable flight in expendable mode is perfectly feasible. Stripping any recovery hardware that can be stripped, not sending out the recovery ships all cuts the cost of that launch.

But that's the situation now.

As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

IOW there will come a time when if you want the maximum payload/delta v range you'll either be asked to pay a premium (at a minimum the cost of a replacement F9 stage) or you'll be asked to shift it to FH (remember I'm assuming there will be point where all boosters are Blk5, including the FH ones).

And I'd expect that won't be the F9 price, it will be the FH price to do so.

But that won't happen till the the existing previous blocks have hit EoL.

It will also depend on how many flights your Block 5 fleet have done. Just like there are Block 3 cores now that have done two flights and are at the point of retirement, there will eventually be Block 5 cores that have done 9 flights, and can potentially be expended at their next flight.

I imagine that point won't be reached before the end of 2019 or perhaps even 2020, however, depending on how many Block 5 boosters they end up constructing. Assuming about 20 Block 5 launches in 2018, and then even if only 5 Block 5's are constructed this year, that would only give you about 4 flights per Block 5 in 2018.

So they won't even be halfway through their useful lives by the end of the year. So it would take a while to get to 9 flights for a Block 5 booster, but that will happen, eventually, at which point it can probably be expended without much of an opportunity cost being incurred.

EDIT

In fact, simplistically one can say that on average, every 10th launch a Block 5 booster can be expended, given that 10 flights use up one booster. And one assumes that the boosters will be used in staggered fashion so that not all of them reach launch 10 at the same approximate time. So going with this ratio, it means that 10% of your launches in a given year can be expendable. So 3 expendable launches in a 30 launch year, 4 expendable launches in a 40 launch year, etc.

These would be 4 launches taken away from what otherwise would have been the FH manifest, thus potentially reducing the need for FH even further.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: aero on 03/21/2018 08:15 PM
Good points there, but wouldn't they get more Block 5 reliability data sooner by driving the first one to end of life as soon as they can make 10 launches from a single location? That would allow correction of problems to be made at the factory earlier in the production run although we know that there will be a few Block 5's produced before the next 10 launches happen. Those Block 5's would need to be retrofitted or expended depending on the severity of the problems discovered.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 03/21/2018 08:25 PM
If your core can be reused multiple times, by expending it prematurely you lose much more than the cost to build it. If the core can make them more money with reflights than the customer would pay for an expendable launch why would SpaceX accept to expend their asset? There's a point where it makes financial sense to outright refuse to sell expendable F9 launches, even if it means losing a contract. That point is closer than many think, IMO.
Unlikely to be an issue right now. IIRC SX have a bunch of cores at 2 flights, so a 3rd expendable flight in expendable mode is perfectly feasible. Stripping any recovery hardware that can be stripped, not sending out the recovery ships all cuts the cost of that launch.

But that's the situation now.

As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

IOW there will come a time when if you want the maximum payload/delta v range you'll either be asked to pay a premium (at a minimum the cost of a replacement F9 stage) or you'll be asked to shift it to FH (remember I'm assuming there will be point where all boosters are Blk5, including the FH ones).

And I'd expect that won't be the F9 price, it will be the FH price to do so.

But that won't happen till the the existing previous blocks have hit EoL.

It will also depend on how many flights your Block 5 fleet have done. Just like there are Block 3 cores now that have done two flights and are at the point of retirement, there will eventually be Block 5 cores that have done 9 flights, and can potentially be expended at their next flight.

I imagine that point won't be reached before the end of 2019 or perhaps even 2020, however, depending on how many Block 5 boosters they end up constructing. Assuming about 20 Block 5 launches in 2018, and then even if only 5 Block 5's are constructed this year, that would only give you about 4 flights per Block 5 in 2018.

So they won't even be halfway through their useful lives by the end of the year. So it would take a while to get to 9 flights for a Block 5 booster, but that will happen, eventually, at which point it can probably be expended without much of an opportunity cost being incurred.

EDIT

In fact, simplistically one can say that on average, every 10th launch a Block 5 booster can be expended, given that 10 flights use up one booster. And one assumes that the boosters will be used in staggered fashion so that not all of them reach launch 10 at the same approximate time. So going with this ratio, it means that 10% of your launches in a given year can be expendable. So 3 expendable launches in a 30 launch year, 4 expendable launches in a 40 launch year, etc.

These would be 4 launches taken away from what otherwise would have been the FH manifest, thus potentially reducing the need for FH even further.

You are assuming that a booster's useful life is ten flights.  This is not as explained by SpaceX.  They have repeatedly stated that Block 5 should do around ten flights before major refurbishment, not end of life.  What the major refurbishment will cost (time/$$$s) is not yet known, but it must be expected to be less than a new core -- probably by a lot like the first reflights were -- or they'd not consider refurbishment.  Between launches, there should be vanishingly little work to do to turn around a core.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Nomadd on 03/21/2018 08:28 PM
 Wasn't the quote ten flights before minor refurbishment?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/21/2018 08:30 PM
If your core can be reused multiple times, by expending it prematurely you lose much more than the cost to build it. If the core can make them more money with reflights than the customer would pay for an expendable launch why would SpaceX accept to expend their asset? There's a point where it makes financial sense to outright refuse to sell expendable F9 launches, even if it means losing a contract. That point is closer than many think, IMO.
Unlikely to be an issue right now. IIRC SX have a bunch of cores at 2 flights, so a 3rd expendable flight in expendable mode is perfectly feasible. Stripping any recovery hardware that can be stripped, not sending out the recovery ships all cuts the cost of that launch.

But that's the situation now.

As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

IOW there will come a time when if you want the maximum payload/delta v range you'll either be asked to pay a premium (at a minimum the cost of a replacement F9 stage) or you'll be asked to shift it to FH (remember I'm assuming there will be point where all boosters are Blk5, including the FH ones).

And I'd expect that won't be the F9 price, it will be the FH price to do so.

But that won't happen till the the existing previous blocks have hit EoL.

It will also depend on how many flights your Block 5 fleet have done. Just like there are Block 3 cores now that have done two flights and are at the point of retirement, there will eventually be Block 5 cores that have done 9 flights, and can potentially be expended at their next flight.

I imagine that point won't be reached before the end of 2019 or perhaps even 2020, however, depending on how many Block 5 boosters they end up constructing. Assuming about 20 Block 5 launches in 2018, and then even if only 5 Block 5's are constructed this year, that would only give you about 4 flights per Block 5 in 2018.

So they won't even be halfway through their useful lives by the end of the year. So it would take a while to get to 9 flights for a Block 5 booster, but that will happen, eventually, at which point it can probably be expended without much of an opportunity cost being incurred.

EDIT

In fact, simplistically one can say that on average, every 10th launch a Block 5 booster can be expended, given that 10 flights use up one booster. And one assumes that the boosters will be used in staggered fashion so that not all of them reach launch 10 at the same approximate time. So going with this ratio, it means that 10% of your launches in a given year can be expendable. So 3 expendable launches in a 30 launch year, 4 expendable launches in a 40 launch year, etc.

These would be 4 launches taken away from what otherwise would have been the FH manifest, thus potentially reducing the need for FH even further.

You are assuming that a booster's useful life is ten flights.  This is not as explained by SpaceX.  They have repeatedly stated that Block 5 should do around ten flights before major refurbishment, not end of life.  What the major refurbishment will cost (time/$$$s) is not yet known, but it must be expected to be less than a new core -- probably by a lot like the first reflights were -- or they'd not consider refurbishment.  Between launches, there should be vanishingly little work to do to turn around a core.

True. I just question whether they will go from a maximum of 2 flights per core (current record) straight to 100 flights per core. It might take a few years to get to that point. 10 flights is already a quantum leap forward.

And if it takes a few years to work out the kinks, or maybe it requires a Block 6 to get beyond 10 flights, well, by then BFR will almost be here, and it becomes a moot point. For practical purposes a 10 reuse capability seems reasonable. At least for the next 2-3 years.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/21/2018 09:57 PM
True. I just question whether they will go from a maximum of 2 flights per core (current record) straight to 100 flights per core. It might take a few years to get to that point. 10 flights is already a quantum leap forward.

And if it takes a few years to work out the kinks, or maybe it requires a Block 6 to get beyond 10 flights, well, by then BFR will almost be here, and it becomes a moot point. For practical purposes a 10 reuse capability seems reasonable. At least for the next 2-3 years.

I agree, the design needs to be proven.  If they eventually get to 10 in the next 1-2 years that would be significant.  I don't think they will get right away, but they'll adapt and get it as far as physics allow relatively soon.

Customer acceptance of cores with each successive launch maybe the most time consuming part in the process.

I'm not sure there is much need to go above 10 launches per core if the most they manifest is 30-40 launches per year.  That's alot of upper stages, but they'll need to maintain an ability to make Merlin 1D's and boosters.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 03/21/2018 10:20 PM
I'm not sure there is much need to go above 10 launches per core if the most they manifest is 30-40 launches per year.  That's alot of upper stages, but they'll need to maintain an ability to make Merlin 1D's and boosters.
Starlink alone needs more-or-less a hundred launches, over 3 years or so itself, so that'd more or less double '30-40' - at least until BFR.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: vaporcobra on 03/21/2018 10:33 PM
Wasn't the quote ten flights before minor refurbishment?

Of course this is coming from Elon Musk, but he said this in the SES-10 post-launch conference. (https://expeditedtranscripts.com/full-transcript-33017-spacex-ses-10-press-conference/)
Quote
Question: How many times might you be able to reuse one of the boosters, both for one that’s been reworked, a lot like this one, and one that has undergone minimal refurbishment?

Elon: Sure. The design intent is that the rocket can be reflown with zero hardware changes. In other words, the only thing that changes is you reload propellant 10 times. And then with moderate refurbishment that doesn’t have a significant effect on the cost, it can be reflown at least 100 times. Actually, really, I mean, we could make it 1,000 but it’s probably not – there’s no point in that, I think. (Laughter.)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 03/22/2018 01:21 PM
Are there estimates on how long the burns are going to be the Block 5 Booster and US?

They've got to be shorter, but by how much?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/22/2018 02:03 PM
As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

I don't see it like that. Because the cost to MAKE a new Block 5 is less than $567m, the maximum amount SpaceX would lose is the cost to replace the booster with a new one, plus any delay costs. But of course, they won't lose it - it will be charged to the customer.

Presumably they could also, if required, which I doubt, make a block 5 with no recovery hardware. Which makes them even cheaper.

So the most it would cost a customer to have an expendable flight, is the cost of a *new* booster plus whatever SpaceX add on as costs and profit.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: scdavis on 03/22/2018 02:15 PM
As the inventory "flies out" all cores left are Block 5 and now you have to fly 9 times, otherwise you don't just lose the core, you lose the revenue from however many more launches it had left.

Worst case in expendable mode you don't lose a $25m core, SX lose $567m in revenue from the next 9 launches SX were going to have with it.

I don't see it like that. Because the cost to MAKE a new Block 5 is less than $567m, the maximum amount SpaceX would lose is the cost to replace the booster with a new one, plus any delay costs. But of course, they won't lose it - it will be charged to the customer.

Presumably they could also, if required, which I doubt, make a block 5 with no recovery hardware. Which makes them even cheaper.

So the most it would cost a customer to have an expendable flight, is the cost of a *new* booster plus whatever SpaceX add on as costs and profit.

Exactly - it's only a loss if they are production-limited by either staff or physical space constraints. In other words -- it's a normal business decision. If they have the ability to hire additional production staff and have space for production, they could choose to expend F9 first stages for the simple marginal profit between cost of production and customer price. $20m profit is still profit and nothing to sneeze at. We don't know their full-up cost difference between FH-R and F9-E... at this point, they will have an idea but may not know for sure either.

My guess - they will act like a normal business and optimize for profit, with the exception that they are prioritizing BFS/BFR development. They will set FH and F9-E prices to drive the customer behavior that maximizes profit, within their production capability. Why wouldn't they?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: john smith 19 on 03/24/2018 09:02 PM
I don't see it like that. Because the cost to MAKE a new Block 5 is less than $567m, the maximum amount SpaceX would lose is the cost to replace the booster with a new one, plus any delay costs. But of course, they won't lose it - it will be charged to the customer.
You're missing one small detail in this.

Musk wants to shift all launches to BFR.

They don't want to retain any F9 booster mfg capacity at all and if there's one thing we'll learned about SX by now it's they don't keep "spare" stages lying around.

So flying an F9 booster as an expendable is a very big deal unless it's at end-of-life.

Now that quote by Musk, saying blk 5 has got a potential life of 100s of launches with minor refurb just pushes the SX further away from wanting fly any expendable missions on a blk 5.

So if you want near max capacity on F9 payload or delta V (especially if it's both) I'd expect them to say "you'll have to use FH"

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/24/2018 10:14 PM
If you assume 100 possible launches per booster then you can fly all payloads until replaced by BFR with 3 or 4 boosters. They will have more than 20 before all customers accept reuse, including NASA for crew and Airforce. That means they can well afford to lose a few.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: M.E.T. on 03/25/2018 07:34 AM
I don't see it like that. Because the cost to MAKE a new Block 5 is less than $567m, the maximum amount SpaceX would lose is the cost to replace the booster with a new one, plus any delay costs. But of course, they won't lose it - it will be charged to the customer.
You're missing one small detail in this.

Musk wants to shift all launches to BFR.

They don't want to retain any F9 booster mfg capacity at all and if there's one thing we'll learned about SX by now it's they don't keep "spare" stages lying around.

So flying an F9 booster as an expendable is a very big deal unless it's at end-of-life.

Now that quote by Musk, saying blk 5 has got a potential life of 100s of launches with minor refurb just pushes the SX further away from wanting fly any expendable missions on a blk 5.

So if you want near max capacity on F9 payload or delta V (especially if it's both) I'd expect them to say "you'll have to use FH"

I think that was an aspirational goal, and that Shotwell has subsequently said that there will be an extensive overlap between BFR and F9 services until all customers are comfortable with the shift. The "stock up on F9 cores and shift production exclusively to BFR" was never going to work. Sure, in the end, BFR will replace F9 completely, but I expect at least 5 years of dual production of the two systems. I don't really see how it could work practically otherwise.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OneSpeed on 03/25/2018 08:34 AM
Are there estimates on how long the burns are going to be the Block 5 Booster and US?

They've got to be shorter, but by how much?

If the block 4 booster is at 92% thrust, and block 5 at 100%, then because thrust is proportional to mass flow, you might assume the block 5 burns would take 92% of the block 4 times. However, the throttle back at launch, for Max-Q, and to limit acceleration before MECO all still need to occur, and would all reduce the difference. I'm guessing they'll be around 95% of the block 4 burn times. I'm not sure yet if the S2 thrust will change as much.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JamesH65 on 03/25/2018 08:39 AM
I don't see it like that. Because the cost to MAKE a new Block 5 is less than $567m, the maximum amount SpaceX would lose is the cost to replace the booster with a new one, plus any delay costs. But of course, they won't lose it - it will be charged to the customer.
You're missing one small detail in this.

Musk wants to shift all launches to BFR.

They don't want to retain any F9 booster mfg capacity at all and if there's one thing we'll learned about SX by now it's they don't keep "spare" stages lying around.

So flying an F9 booster as an expendable is a very big deal unless it's at end-of-life.

Now that quote by Musk, saying blk 5 has got a potential life of 100s of launches with minor refurb just pushes the SX further away from wanting fly any expendable missions on a blk 5.

So if you want near max capacity on F9 payload or delta V (especially if it's both) I'd expect them to say "you'll have to use FH"

No, I didn't miss that. Point still stands that the cost to SpaceX is the cost to build a new booster. They don't want to do that. But that doesn't change the costs.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/25/2018 10:46 AM
No, I didn't miss that. Point still stands that the cost to SpaceX is the cost to build a new booster. They don't want to do that. But that doesn't change the costs.

Or no cost at all if they have more uses in the remaining stock than they need. They may have to fly Falcon for a while for NASA and DoD. But all the commercial launches will shift quickly to BFS which is the majority.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Star One on 03/25/2018 07:54 PM
Round up of the Falcon 9 fleet and the introduction of the Block 5.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 will usher in a new era of rapid reuse rockets

Quote
Despite all missions being readily in the range of recovery, SpaceX has only attempted to recover its Falcon boosters after two of the company’s five 2018 launches. If anything, the attachment to Falcon boosters and the apparent melancholy felt by many observers when they are not recovered is a testament to the staggeringly abrupt success of SpaceX’s reusable rocketry program.

Aside from Falcon Heavy’s center core and 1044, each booster expended in the last several months (Iridium-4, GovSat-1, and PAZ) was aging, flight-proven, and nearing the end of its operational life: Block 3 and Block 4 Falcon 9s were simply not designed or expected to fly more than two or three times total. Their seemingly premature deaths were thus a necessary step along the path to Block 5 and truly rapid and cheap booster reuse; perhaps as pragmatic as quite literally making space for new and superior hardware at SpaceX’s many facilities. The demise of Falcon Heavy’s center core nevertheless made for a spectacular video (skip to 1:10, or watch the whole thing…).

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-falcon-9-block-5-rapid-reuse-rockets/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 03/26/2018 12:39 PM
Are there estimates on how long the burns are going to be the Block 5 Booster and US?

They've got to be shorter, but by how much?

If the block 4 booster is at 92% thrust, and block 5 at 100%, then because thrust is proportional to mass flow, you might assume the block 5 burns would take 92% of the block 4 times. However, the throttle back at launch, for Max-Q, and to limit acceleration before MECO all still need to occur, and would all reduce the difference. I'm guessing they'll be around 95% of the block 4 burn times. I'm not sure yet if the S2 thrust will change as much.

They also might change the prop load timing or subcooling temperatures to fit more mass in the tanks. Just to throw another potential variable out there...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: guckyfan on 03/31/2018 05:10 AM
With block 5 coming soon, do we have any news on the service facility at Port Canaveral?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: CraigLieb on 04/02/2018 09:33 PM
Was there a significant change to the Merlin engines themselves for block 5? Otherwise I wonder why they didn’t save some block 4 stages to keep some spare engines on hand for swaps.
Also, we’re any enignes swapped on reuse launches? Did they have any engine that launched 3 times? (Not counting test fires )
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: mme on 04/02/2018 09:35 PM
SpaceX to Debut Falcon 9 Block 5 in April

CAPE CANAVERAL - The upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket SpaceX needs to taxi NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and deliver U.S. national security spacecraft into orbit will make its first flight on a commercial mission for Bangladesh, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell says. Bangabandhu Satellite-1, which was built by Thales Alenia Space for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, will be the first Bangladeshi geostationary satellite, ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/spacex-debut-falcon-9-block-5-april
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cppetrie on 04/02/2018 09:42 PM
Was there a significant change to the Merlin engines themselves for block 5? Otherwise I wonder why they didn’t save some block 4 stages to keep some spare engines on hand for swaps.
Also, we’re any enignes swapped on reuse launches? Did they have any engine that launched 3 times? (Not counting test fires )
Yes. They now use a blisk (disk with blades all in one piece) in the turbines instead of a disk with blades welded on. I doubt this is a swap out part so Block 4 engines aren’t the same as Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Kansan52 on 04/02/2018 10:12 PM
With block 5 coming soon, do we have any news on the service facility at Port Canaveral?

Apparently Teslarati got a photo of the Paz fairing at the new facility:

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-recovered-fairing-appears-mars-rocket-factory/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RocketLover0119 on 04/02/2018 10:18 PM
He is talking about port Canaveral, and yes, they should be starting work soon on the new facilitit


With block 5 coming soon, do we have any news on the service facility at Port Canaveral?

Apparently Teslarati got a photo of the Paz fairing at the new facility:

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-recovered-fairing-appears-mars-rocket-factory/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Kansan52 on 04/02/2018 10:55 PM
He is talking about port Canaveral, and yes, they should be starting work soon on the new facilitit


With block 5 coming soon, do we have any news on the service facility at Port Canaveral?

Apparently Teslarati got a photo of the Paz fairing at the new facility:

https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-recovered-fairing-appears-mars-rocket-factory/

Ooooooooo...should have read that better.

Thanks!!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Nomadd on 04/03/2018 01:09 AM
Was there a significant change to the Merlin engines themselves for block 5? Otherwise I wonder why they didn’t save some block 4 stages to keep some spare engines on hand for swaps.
Also, we’re any enignes swapped on reuse launches? Did they have any engine that launched 3 times? (Not counting test fires )
Yes. They now use a blisk (disk with blades all in one piece) in the turbines instead of a disk with blades welded on. I doubt this is a swap out part so Block 4 engines aren’t the same as Block 5.
Was that related to the cracking issue?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cppetrie on 04/03/2018 01:12 AM
Was there a significant change to the Merlin engines themselves for block 5? Otherwise I wonder why they didn’t save some block 4 stages to keep some spare engines on hand for swaps.
Also, we’re any enignes swapped on reuse launches? Did they have any engine that launched 3 times? (Not counting test fires )
Yes. They now use a blisk (disk with blades all in one piece) in the turbines instead of a disk with blades welded on. I doubt this is a swap out part so Block 4 engines aren’t the same as Block 5.
Was that related to the cracking issue?
That’s my understanding.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Cheapchips on 04/03/2018 07:05 AM

It wasn't clear from I'd read whether SX the switch to a blisk was a block 5 upgrade they were doing anyway or a response to NASA's concerns about cracking.

(Although I'd assume that for many reuses it wouldn't be something that either party would be fine with)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: livingjw on 04/03/2018 11:45 AM
I thought they always used a blisk type turbine design, and just redesigned it to eliminate small cracks near the base of the blades.

John
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: abaddon on 04/03/2018 01:29 PM
I thought they always used a blisk type turbine design, and just redesigned it to eliminate small cracks near the base of the blades.

John
As @cppetrie wrote:
Quote
Yes. They now use a blisk (disk with blades all in one piece) in the turbines instead of a disk with blades welded on. I doubt this is a swap out part so Block 4 engines aren’t the same as Block 5.
So the part is the same shape, it is how it is manufactured that is different.  I hadn't heard about the cracks being near the base of the blades, but that would make sense as that was where the welds were.  Eliminate the welds, eliminate the cracks.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Prettz on 04/03/2018 06:05 PM
I wonder how much that change adds to the cost of an M1D.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lar on 04/03/2018 07:28 PM
I wonder how much that change adds to the cost of an M1D.
it may remove cost. We don't know.

Surprised they didn't go with a new version (M1E) ... although we don't know they haven't.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Elmar Moelzer on 04/03/2018 08:53 PM
it may remove cost. We don't know.
Since they are planning to reuse them often, a small cost increase should not matter that much.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 04/03/2018 09:05 PM
I wonder how much that change adds to the cost of an M1D.
it may remove cost. We don't know.

Surprised they didn't go with a new version (M1E) ... although we don't know they haven't.

To be honest, they could have done that (make a new version name) for Full Thrust, but didn't.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Nomadd on 04/03/2018 11:34 PM
 I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 04/03/2018 11:57 PM
I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.

There was the one issue one time, too bad it was before the bad engine could be returned home for analysis. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: JH on 04/04/2018 12:20 AM
That was a Merlin 1C, not a 1D.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/04/2018 12:40 AM
Yup, and SpaceX didn't even make the turbopump for the Merlin 1C.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: docmordrid on 04/04/2018 12:57 AM
Yup, and SpaceX didn't even make the turbopump for the Merlin 1C.

Wasn't it Barber-Nichols?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 04/04/2018 01:00 AM
Yup, and SpaceX didn't even make the turbopump for the Merlin 1C.

Wasn't it Barber-Nichols?

Yep! They brought it in-house for the 1D IIRC
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 04/04/2018 01:05 AM
Most issues of a launch related to Merlin engines weren't directly caused by the engine itself. Only exception was on Falcon 1 Flight 3, but that was more of a timing issue rather than an engine failure.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: niwax on 04/04/2018 07:45 AM
I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.

Including all pre-flight tests that's still only one or two days of total runtime.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/04/2018 11:24 AM
Unlike slow subsonic aircraft, rocket engines don’t need to run for hours just to get you somewhere.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: livingjw on 04/04/2018 11:56 AM
Its usually not the time, but the number of starts that kill engines.

John
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: meekGee on 04/04/2018 02:37 PM
Its usually not the time, but the number of starts that kill engines.

John
Yup, which is why the number above (>500) is more significant than the accumulated minutes.

... And is still too small, so needs to be coupled with demonstrated low impact of failure, something SpaceX demonstrated once with F9 1.0

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ValmirGP on 04/04/2018 03:07 PM
Its usually not the time, but the number of starts that kill engines.

John
Yup, which is why the number above (>500) is more significant than the accumulated minutes.

... And is still too small, so needs to be coupled with demonstrated low impact of failure, something SpaceX demonstrated once with F9 1.0

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Not to mention that they are started for testing prior to integration, tested after integration, tested pre-flight and then during flight... that's a lot of starts!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: acsawdey on 04/04/2018 03:12 PM
Its usually not the time, but the number of starts that kill engines.

John
Yup, which is why the number above (>500) is more significant than the accumulated minutes.

... And is still too small, so needs to be coupled with demonstrated low impact of failure, something SpaceX demonstrated once with F9 1.0

I have to believe that spacex does extensive qualification of M1D start up -- In all the recent landings we have only seen a couple fail due to an engine not starting, and (I think) those have all been bleeding-edge marginal 3-engine burn cases that may or may not have actually had enough fuel on board. Also we have not recently seen any issues with aborted starts of static fire or for launch.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: HMXHMX on 04/04/2018 03:13 PM
Its usually not the time, but the number of starts that kill engines.

John
Yup, which is why the number above (>500) is more significant than the accumulated minutes.

... And is still too small, so needs to be coupled with demonstrated low impact of failure, something SpaceX demonstrated once with F9 1.0

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Not to mention that they are started for testing prior to integration, tested after integration, tested pre-flight and then during flight... that's a lot of starts!

This is why, even for expendable ICBM/IRBM engines in the late 1950s, the USAF specification required 12 starts.

Another critical factor is rate of onset of thermal shock in the turbine.  As I recall, the SSME was about 7,000 degrees F/second, while jet turbine engines are maybe 5x less.  Slower starts waste propellant but have big effects on life.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 04/05/2018 12:13 AM
I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.

There's no Merlin 1-D engine that's "flown close to 500 times" - there's a big difference between 500 engines that have flown   once and a single engine that's flown 500 times!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rockets4life97 on 04/05/2018 12:19 AM
I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.

There's no Merlin 1-D engine that's "flown close to 500 times" - there's a big difference between 500 engines that have flown   once and a single engine that's flown 500 times!

I wonder how many times they've test fired the same engine on the test stand.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Asteroza on 04/05/2018 05:41 AM
Unlike slow subsonic aircraft, rocket engines don’t need to run for hours just to get you somewhere.


Not yet anyways...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: jpo234 on 04/05/2018 09:05 AM
Unlike slow subsonic aircraft, rocket engines don’t need to run for hours just to get you somewhere.


Not yet anyways...

If we are talking about chemical rocket engines, then the Merlin-1D has an engine flow rate of 273.6 kg/s. An hour of operation of a single Merlin-1D requires about 1000 mT of fuel.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 04/05/2018 01:57 PM
I wonder how many times they've test fired the same engine on the test stand.

I dont remember how many post-landing firings there were on JCSAT-14's core but those engines probably have the most firings of anything other than dev units.

Individual Engine Test
McGregor Static Fire
Cape Static Fire
Launch
Entry Burn
Landing Burn
Numerous subsequent firings at McGregor
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: rsdavis9 on 04/05/2018 02:14 PM
I wonder how many times they've test fired the same engine on the test stand.

I dont remember how many post-landing firings there were on JCSAT-14's core but those engines probably have the most firings of anything other than dev units.

Individual Engine Test
McGregor Static Fire
Cape Static Fire
Launch
Entry Burn
Landing Burn
Numerous subsequent firings at McGregor

8 was the number I remember
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: IanThePineapple on 04/05/2018 02:20 PM
I wonder how many times they've test fired the same engine on the test stand.

I dont remember how many post-landing firings there were on JCSAT-14's core but those engines probably have the most firings of anything other than dev units.

Individual Engine Test
McGregor Static Fire
Cape Static Fire
Launch
Entry Burn
Landing Burn
Numerous subsequent firings at McGregor

8 was the number I remember

I heard they were going to do 10 for that core, but we only know of 8 so far.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cppetrie on 04/05/2018 02:43 PM
I wonder how many times they've test fired the same engine on the test stand.

I dont remember how many post-landing firings there were on JCSAT-14's core but those engines probably have the most firings of anything other than dev units.

Individual Engine Test
McGregor Static Fire
Cape Static Fire
Launch
Entry Burn
Landing Burn
Numerous subsequent firings at McGregor

8 was the number I remember

I heard they were going to do 10 for that core, but we only know of 8 so far.
My memory is also 8 and those were full duration burns simulating subsequent launches so 2.5ish minutes for each.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ejb749 on 04/06/2018 10:20 PM
I'm still trying to grasp taking an engine that's flown close to 500 times without an issue and still looking for ways to increase reliability. The gigantic gulf between airline and space operations is getting smaller.

There's no Merlin 1-D engine that's "flown close to 500 times" - there's a big difference between 500 engines that have flown   once and a single engine that's flown 500 times!

99 have flown twice now.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: matthewkantar on 04/08/2018 05:57 PM
Noticed on Instagram Mr Musk is throwing more nomenclature fuel on the fire of F9 names.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Spudley on 04/08/2018 08:42 PM
Noticed on Instagram Mr Musk is throwing more nomenclature fuel on the fire of F9 names.

"Consistency? Where we're going, we don't need consistency."
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: LouScheffer on 04/09/2018 01:51 AM
Aviation Week has a new article Space Companies Vie For U.S. Launcher Development Contracts  (http://aviationweek.com/commercializing-space/space-companies-vie-us-launcher-development-contracts) that explicitly states that
Quote
Both NASA and the Air Force [...] worked with SpaceX to redesign the Falcon's high-pressure helium bottles, known as composite pressure overlap vessels, or COPVs.

This seemed like potentially one of the most contentious issues for certification (and the load astronauts before or after fueling debate).  But if both NASA and the Air Force have insight into the re-design, and have presumably already given their approval, this should go more smoothly (and provide more confidence in the fix, if 3 separate sets of eyes looked at it).

Turbine cracks were also addressed in Block 5.  Were there any other big certification-related changes needed? Gwynne now states:
Quote
Block 5 [...] was designed to meet the needs of all of our customers - commercial and the U.S. Government.
but somewhat contradictorily states:
Quote
LSA [Launch Service Agreement] is intended to support modification to commercial launch systems for unique national security requirements such as vertical integration infrastructure, certification, and other noncommercial elements.
Unless certification is a purely paperwork exercise, this second sentence seems to imply that the existing Block 5 will not meet the LSA requirements unless some extra work is performed.  This seems to contradict the first statement above about Block 5 meeting all needs.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jcc on 04/09/2018 02:00 AM
Aviation Week has a new article Space Companies Vie For U.S. Launcher Development Contracts  (http://aviationweek.com/commercializing-space/space-companies-vie-us-launcher-development-contracts) that explicitly states that
Quote
Both NASA and the Air Force [...] worked with SpaceX to redesign the Falcon's high-pressure helium bottles, known as composite pressure overlap vessels, or COPVs.

This seemed like potentially one of the most contentious issues for certification (and the load astronauts before or after fueling debate).  But if both NASA and the Air Force have insight into the re-design, and have presumably already given their approval, this should go more smoothly (and provide more confidence in the fix, if 3 separate sets of eyes looked at it).

Turbine cracks were also addressed in Block 5.  Were there any other big certification-related changes needed? Gwynne now states:
Quote
Block 5 [...] was designed to meet the needs of all of our customers - commercial and the U.S. Government.
but somewhat contradictorily states:
Quote
LSA [Launch Service Agreement] is intended to support modification to commercial launch systems for unique national security requirements such as vertical integration infrastructure, certification, and other noncommercial elements.
Unless certification is a purely paperwork exercise, this second sentence seems to imply that the existing Block 5 will not meet the LSA requirements unless some extra work is performed.  This seems to contradict the first statement above about Block 5 meeting all needs.

Certification is a "paperwork exercise" provided the vehicle meets all the requirements for certification, which it seems Block 5 does. Still, there are costs involved with certification.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 04/09/2018 01:50 PM
Unless certification is a purely paperwork exercise, this second sentence seems to imply that the existing Block 5 will not meet the LSA requirements unless some extra work is performed.  This seems to contradict the first statement above about Block 5 meeting all needs.

It's not just the launch vehicle.  Meeting all of the LSA requirements requires changes to facilities and processes too, which don't need to be done before Block 5 starts flying.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: deruch on 04/09/2018 06:39 PM
but somewhat contradictorily states:
Quote
LSA [Launch Service Agreement] is intended to support modification to commercial launch systems for unique national security requirements such as vertical integration infrastructure, certification, and other noncommercial elements.
Unless certification is a purely paperwork exercise, this second sentence seems to imply that the existing Block 5 will not meet the LSA requirements unless some extra work is performed.  This seems to contradict the first statement above about Block 5 meeting all needs.

Could including things like developing the capability to offer the special handling procedures needed to support certain payloads, GSE mods, etc.  So, while the Block 5 F9 vehicle is already positioned to meet their needs, other elements of the full launch system or customer servicing still needs stuff done.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dpark on 04/15/2018 07:12 PM
A quick flip through the last few pages of this thread I found few or no photos (I can't remember) of Block 5. I'm wondering if this is deliberate and special handling for B5 to obscure access to new IP.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the new legs and heat shield. I haven't seen any photos of either.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: cppetrie on 04/15/2018 07:20 PM
A quick flip through the last few pages of this thread I found few or no photos (I can't remember) of Block 5. I'm wondering if this is deliberate and special handling for B5 to obscure access to new IP.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the new legs and heat shield. I haven't seen any photos of either.
L2 McGregor thread. No legs there though. B5 hasn’t been anywhere fully suited yet for it to be seen. It just arrived at the cape a couple days ago. First opportunity to see it in all its glory will be static fire at 39a in a couple weeks.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 04/15/2018 07:57 PM
A quick flip through the last few pages of this thread I found few or no photos (I can't remember) of Block 5. I'm wondering if this is deliberate and special handling for B5 to obscure access to new IP.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the new legs and heat shield. I haven't seen any photos of either.
L2 McGregor thread. No legs there though. B5 hasn’t been anywhere fully suited yet for it to be seen. It just arrived at the cape a couple days ago. First opportunity to see it in all its glory will be static fire at 39a in a couple weeks.

If you're not an L2 member this article has one of the pictures:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/03/spacex-manifest-five-falcon-9-launches-one-month/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Semmel on 04/15/2018 08:22 PM
A quick flip through the last few pages of this thread I found few or no photos (I can't remember) of Block 5. I'm wondering if this is deliberate and special handling for B5 to obscure access to new IP.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the new legs and heat shield. I haven't seen any photos of either.

I admit, I wanted to be a smart-ass and send you over to http://www.spacex.com/falcon9 because I know it has black legs and expected that they show a F9B5 since the performance numbers are from a B5. But that image looks like a cross between B5 legs and an earlier version. Hope this picture gets updated early May. From information we have. changes should be: black interstage, different logo position, metallic grid fins and changes to the bottom of the engine section.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dpark on 04/16/2018 08:53 PM
A quick flip through the last few pages of this thread I found few or no photos (I can't remember) of Block 5. I'm wondering if this is deliberate and special handling for B5 to obscure access to new IP.  I am certainly looking forward to seeing the new legs and heat shield. I haven't seen any photos of either.

I admit, I wanted to be a smart-ass and send you over to http://www.spacex.com/falcon9 because I know it has black legs and expected that they show a F9B5 since the performance numbers are from a B5. But that image looks like a cross between B5 legs and an earlier version. Hope this picture gets updated early May. From information we have. changes should be: black interstage, different logo position, metallic grid fins and changes to the bottom of the engine section.
Thanks. I have to admit that it's been awhile since visiting the falcon9 page. Last time I looked it still included an image of Dragon 1 and seemed to go unchanged for years.  I have seen the photos from Texas, but curious as to differences in heat shielding that would allow 24hr turnaround for 10 flights without refurbishment.  I would expect substantial differences to or around the octoweb. No closeups as yet unless I've missed them (I am an L2 member).

doug
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Billium on 04/27/2018 06:09 PM
From the Bangabandhu-1 discussion thread, there is speculation that the delay from May 4 - 7 was due to weather making recovery at sea potentially problematic.

Whether or not the speculation is correct for this launch, the issue remains, will Spacex expend a Block 5 to keep schedule or delay for better chances at recovery? I don't know if anyone really has any idea on what Spacex will do, but it is an interesting discussion topic, I didn't go back and read the 30 pages of this thread, if this is bringing up something already discussed please feel free to delete this post.

I think this is also interesting in terms of the Falcon Heavy v. F9 comparison.

I'm not really sure we really know the GTO performance for F9 Block 5 yet, recoverable v. expended but I have it as 5,500kg v. 8,300kg. Compare that against FH performance, 3 stage return to land v. 2 stage return to land 1 stage at sea. I don't know the maximum all 3 return to land for GTO.

I don't know how Spacex would balance off F9 Block 5 - expendable v. FH Block 5 - recover center core at sea. If you have a chance to loose the center core anyways, maybe just fly F9 expendable?

Or, if you can fly FH and recover all 3 cores on land, do you fly that instead of a chancy recovery of F9 at sea?


Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: speedevil on 04/27/2018 07:18 PM
I don't know how Spacex would balance off F9 Block 5 - expendable v. FH Block 5 - recover center core at sea. If you have a chance to loose the center core anyways, maybe just fly F9 expendable?

Or, if you can fly FH and recover all 3 cores on land, do you fly that instead of a chancy recovery of F9 at sea?
At least for the immediate future, changing out the vehicle under the satellite, or swapping the satellite between near-ready vehicles is going to take longer than the average time for weather to change.
If this was a three hour procedure, as it might be at some time in the future, and availability of rockets was similarly unconstrained, then yes, swapping between rockets might make sense.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/27/2018 08:53 PM
The potential revenue and engineering value of 1 Block 5 booster is huge.

Unless required by contract, I don't see SpaceX expending a Block 5 unless it is at its End of Life.

They should have that booster penciled in to the manifest for it's next flights.

Also, being the first Block 5 they will want to inspect this one thoroughly once it's flown.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 04/27/2018 09:06 PM
The potential revenue and engineering value of 1 Block 5 booster is huge.

Unless required by contract, I don't see SpaceX expending a Block 5 unless it is at its End of Life.

They should have that booster penciled in to the manifest for it's next flights.

Also, being the first Block 5 they will want to inspect this one thoroughly once it's flown.

I suspect that there will be zero intentionally expended Block 5 cores.  Going to have to get used to landing zone weather being one of the launch criteria*.


* Yes, I know that this is not the way it's done... payload is all that matters... etc. 
Get used to a new way.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RonM on 04/27/2018 09:13 PM
The potential revenue and engineering value of 1 Block 5 booster is huge.

Unless required by contract, I don't see SpaceX expending a Block 5 unless it is at its End of Life.

They should have that booster penciled in to the manifest for it's next flights.

Also, being the first Block 5 they will want to inspect this one thoroughly once it's flown.

I suspect that there will be zero intentionally expended Block 5 cores.  Going to have to get used to landing zone weather being one of the launch criteria*.


* Yes, I know that this is not the way it's done... payload is all that matters... etc. 
Get used to a new way.

Nothing new here. If the weather was good at the pad, but not at an emergency landing site, the Shuttle didn't launch.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: AncientU on 04/28/2018 12:06 AM
The potential revenue and engineering value of 1 Block 5 booster is huge.

Unless required by contract, I don't see SpaceX expending a Block 5 unless it is at its End of Life.

They should have that booster penciled in to the manifest for it's next flights.

Also, being the first Block 5 they will want to inspect this one thoroughly once it's flown.

I suspect that there will be zero intentionally expended Block 5 cores.  Going to have to get used to landing zone weather being one of the launch criteria*.


* Yes, I know that this is not the way it's done... payload is all that matters... etc. 
Get used to a new way.

Nothing new here. If the weather was good at the pad, but not at an emergency landing site, the Shuttle didn't launch.

The shuttle's payload always included a crew, and the Orbiter was approaching $2B to replace.
But yes, we're kinda back to those days again.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Jcc on 04/28/2018 12:12 PM
The potential revenue and engineering value of 1 Block 5 booster is huge.

Unless required by contract, I don't see SpaceX expending a Block 5 unless it is at its End of Life.

They should have that booster penciled in to the manifest for it's next flights.

Also, being the first Block 5 they will want to inspect this one thoroughly once it's flown.

I suspect that there will be zero intentionally expended Block 5 cores.  Going to have to get used to landing zone weather being one of the launch criteria*.


* Yes, I know that this is not the way it's done... payload is all that matters... etc. 
Get used to a new way.

Nothing new here. If the weather was good at the pad, but not at an emergency landing site, the Shuttle didn't launch.

The shuttle's payload always included a crew, and the Orbiter was approaching $2B to replace.
But yes, we're kinda back to those days again.

This might be the case with crew Dragon and Starliner as well, considering the landing areas in case of an in-flight abort.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: envy887 on 05/01/2018 08:57 PM
New GAO report with a couple pages on Commercial Crew and Block 5. I don't think there's anything new here for Block 5, but it confirms that qualification testing should be complete Q1 2018.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/03/2018 03:47 PM
Another great article by Eric Berger:

Quote
Block 5 rocket launch marks the end of the beginning for SpaceX
Elon Musk seems to be happy with the nine-engine booster—so, he's moving on.

Eric Berger - 5/3/2018, 2:10 PM

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/05/block-5-rocket-launch-marks-the-end-of-the-beginning-for-spacex/ (https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/05/block-5-rocket-launch-marks-the-end-of-the-beginning-for-spacex/)

Edit 13/05/2018: now with Elon’s seal of approval

Quote
Good piece by Ars

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/995461033958424576 (https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/995461033958424576)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: dglow on 05/03/2018 04:41 PM
Question about Block 5: do we know how many COPVs are in the upper stage?

IIRC, AMOS 6's failure was partially attributed to higher pressures in the COPVs. There was speculation (perhaps it was established) that SpaceX had attempted to reduce the number of COPVs by one, ostensibly to save weight, with the remaining COPVs picking up the slack. After the pad incident, SpaceX returned to its previous COPV configuration.

First: do I have this right? Second: if so, does COPV 2.0 allow for a return to fewer and/or more highly-pressurized bottles?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/03/2018 05:35 PM
From what I recall the number of COPVs has always been variable, and the AMOS-6 incident was caused by changes in the loading procedures for LOx and helium.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: smndk on 05/03/2018 07:34 PM
From what I recall the number of COPVs has always been variable, and the AMOS-6 incident was caused by changes in the loading procedures for LOx and helium.

But one of the short term fixes was to add a COPV and slowing down the loading procedure - if I remember correct.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ZachF on 05/03/2018 09:11 PM
Closeup of Block 5 rolling out
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: The Vorlon on 05/03/2018 09:27 PM
Is it me, or does the interstage change diameter?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/03/2018 09:32 PM
Is it me, or does the interstage change diameter?

I noticed that too, and I'm not sure. It does look like it contracts a tiny bit above the tanks, and then expands to a larger radius for S2. Something under the hood there that we don't know about?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: HVM on 05/03/2018 09:35 PM
Optical illusion; black make you look slimmer ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/03/2018 10:04 PM
Optical illusion; black make you look slimmer ;)

I don't think so; it looks like it actually does have a lower diameter interstage.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/03/2018 10:19 PM
Hopefully we'll get better pictures when the launch photographers go to set up their cameras, that image is heavily compressed.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/03/2018 10:21 PM
Hopefully we'll get better pictures when the launch photographers go to set up their cameras, that image is heavily compressed.

There are bands of highlight and shadow that are visually consistent with a diameter change as well. I don't think those are image compression artifacts.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: gongora on 05/03/2018 10:34 PM
Hopefully we'll get better pictures when the launch photographers go to set up their cameras, that image is heavily compressed.

There are bands of highlight and shadow that are visually consistent with a diameter change as well. I don't think those are image compression artifacts.

They might be if there are slightly different shades of black running around the interstage.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 05/03/2018 11:04 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/03/2018 11:06 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?

Probably at the same time people stop using similarly terrible images for the counterpoint.  ;D
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Lars-J on 05/03/2018 11:07 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?

Probably at the same time people stop using similarly terrible images for the counterpoint.  ;D

? You might want to schedule an appointment with an optician.

So you stand by your belief?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/03/2018 11:09 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?

Probably at the same time people stop using similarly terrible images for the counterpoint.  ;D

? You might want to schedule an appointment with an optician.

So you stand by your belief?

No, I don't stand by it, I was trying to make a joke. It looks like the original image's appearance is an artifact caused by an unresolved, smaller raceway at the "top" of the vehicle in its horizontal orientation.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Craig_VG on 05/04/2018 12:24 AM
Hopefully we'll get better pictures when the launch photographers go to set up their cameras, that image is heavily compressed.

Oh we will  ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: zhangmdev on 05/04/2018 03:54 AM
Consider how difficult staging with that huge 2nd stage engine nozzle is, shrinking the interstage, even slightly, is a bad idea.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Craig_VG on 05/04/2018 02:18 PM
Photos taken by /u/spiel2001 (https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/8gz02a/oc_block_5_on_the_pad_for_todays_static_fire_test/?utm_content=comments&utm_medium=hot&utm_source=reddit&utm_name=spacex)

High-res panorama by me
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: abaddon on 05/04/2018 02:36 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?

Probably at the same time people stop using similarly terrible images for the counterpoint.  ;D

? You might want to schedule an appointment with an optician.

So you stand by your belief?
I think most people (myself included) tend to agree, it's just a little bit of the pot calling the kettle collect.  None of the images we have so far are all that definitive compared to one another.

It's possible, as an aside, that the Interstage *is* in fact a tiny bit slimmer, because it lacks the cork insulation that is used elsewhere on the stage.  I doubt that would be discernible without a very close inspection though.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: ugordan on 05/04/2018 02:47 PM
I notice two details in the high res image, one is that the GOX vent is now directed sideways as opposed to down (as the RP-1 vent still is) and also several curious dark strips on the aluminum skin around the raceway bulging/protruding sections. Kinda looks like thermal protection for localized shockwave impingement and heating during reentry.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: RoboGoofers on 05/04/2018 02:48 PM
Nope, same diameter. (see image)  Don't be fooled by the racetracks that add apparent (but not real) diameter.

When are people going to stop doing attempted image analysis on tiny JPEGs with terrible compression?

it's not always without merit...
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/06/recovering-falcon-9-ocean-landing-video-done/
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Craig_VG on 05/04/2018 03:00 PM
Core number is under the grid fins now!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: GreenShrike on 05/04/2018 03:01 PM
I wish SpaceX would write the core numbers more prominently and in something other than pale grey. It took a huge panorama for me to finally notice that the core numbers have been moved to the top of the stage, just under the grid fins.

Reused Dragons are now sporting mission marks. I think each core emblazoned with a serial and a neat row of comsat, security sat, science sat, Dragon etc. icons for missions flown would emphasize exactly what SpaceX wants: that these are (or will be) *veteran* cores, with their maiden flights long past, and their list of honours won painted proudly on their skins.

It intrinsically says that, yes, you've seen this exact same core before. And, yes, you'll see it many times again.

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: 2008rlctx on 05/04/2018 03:54 PM
I just noticed how very different the legs are.

Look at the high res from Tess, B1045, and high res for B1046.

I thought the legs just changed material and/or coating, and I know they made them retractable at landing.
The upper attach points are drastically different and the 6 4 triangle-shaped objects on either edge are gone as well.

We're looking at a clean slate new design folks. Let's hope all the T's were crossed and I's dotted!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: dglow on 05/04/2018 04:05 PM
I find it curious that the raceway down the first stage is black, yet remains white on the second stage.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: tvg98 on 05/04/2018 04:12 PM
I find it curious that the raceway down the first stage is black, yet remains white on the second stage.

There's a possibility that only the first stage is a Block 5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ugordan on 05/04/2018 04:15 PM
The black color comes from thermal protection coatings for reentry. Obviously not needed for 2nd stages.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/04/2018 04:17 PM
I thought the legs just changed material and/or coating, and I know they made them retractable at landing.
The upper attach points are drastically different and the 6 4 triangle-shaped objects on either edge are gone as well.

Those 'triangle' attach points are still there, just hidden by the now wider legs. (See the Block 5 test pictures from McGregor, the core leg attachment points are there, see image) Those attach points may have moved slightly as well.

So it is not completely clean sheet.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: dglow on 05/04/2018 04:17 PM
The black color comes from thermal protection coatings for reentry. Obviously not needed for 2nd stages.

...yet.   ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: eweilow on 05/04/2018 05:08 PM
I thought the legs just changed material and/or coating, and I know they made them retractable at landing.
The upper attach points are drastically different and the 6 4 triangle-shaped objects on either edge are gone as well.

Those 'triangle' attach points are still there, just hidden by the now wider legs. (See the Block 5 test pictures from McGregor, the core leg attachment points are there, see image) Those attach points may have moved slightly as well.

So it is not completely clean sheet.
I'd say that the legs have not been widened significantly, just that the attach points have moved "inside" the legs instead.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Svenry on 05/04/2018 05:43 PM
Looking at the side profiles, the new legs don't seem quite as aerodynamic along their leading edge. I wonder if that could cause a microscopic amount of performance loss (not to imply that the loss wouldn't be made up elsewhere in the over all Block 5 design).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: su27k on 05/04/2018 06:14 PM
I wish SpaceX would write the core numbers more prominently and in something other than pale grey.

I think they did this for aesthetic reasons, big numbers may look good to enthusiasts, but they look ugly to normal people. Look around you, none of your widgets have its serial number displayed in big visible letters, they're all hidden somewhere in small fonts.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/04/2018 06:15 PM
Looking at the side profiles, the new legs don't seem quite as aerodynamic along their leading edge. I wonder if that could cause a microscopic amount of performance loss (not to imply that the loss wouldn't be made up elsewhere in the over all Block 5 design).

That difference is probably more than made up for by removing the three triangle protrusions on each side of the legs.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: TomH on 05/04/2018 06:31 PM
Let's hope all the...I's (were) dotted!

Really?! Look closely at yours!  ;)

It doesn't matter that much in a post, but the irony is that on a rocket, such an error could cost LOV, making your meaning even that more salient!

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/04/2018 06:39 PM
It looks to me like they also reduced the size/weight of the "cap housing" - the aerodynamic blocking structure at the the very top (in the stowed/launch position) of the legs from a large-ish triangle (A & B) to a thinner curved strip (C & D).  Seems like flight proven-nes and validation of their CFD models would allow exactly this kind of modification/optimization and its very cool to spot in real life!

I won't speculate as to any material differences, but I suspect they're using something which would cut the weight (probably only a few kg if anything).

Edit:  sorry, my attempt to annotate via mspaint turned a nice image to a potato, I don't think I can do much to fix it, please accept my apologies!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/04/2018 06:41 PM
The final shape isn't all that different - the leg tips have been extended and rounded like the cap/fairings.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/04/2018 06:48 PM
The final shape isn't all that different - the leg tips have been extended and rounded like the cap/fairings.

It looks like a pretty significant shape change to my non-aerospace grade eye.  Old version seems "pointy" and the newer overall shape is much more "rounded".  IMHO.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: 2008rlctx on 05/04/2018 07:02 PM
Let's hope all the...I's (were) dotted!

Really?! Look closely at yours!  ;)

It doesn't matter that much in a post, but the irony is that on a rocket, such an error could cost LOV, making your meaning even that more salient!

Looks like you got me...congratulations.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: JBF on 05/04/2018 07:03 PM
The final shape isn't all that different - the leg tips have been extended and rounded like the cap/fairings.

It looks like a pretty significant shape change to my non-aerospace grade eye.  Old version seems "pointy" and the newer overall shape is much more "rounded".  IMHO.

The overall shape is the same; the new one just incorporates the end cap.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: chrisking0997 on 05/04/2018 07:51 PM
I wish SpaceX would write the core numbers more prominently and in something other than pale grey.

I think they did this for aesthetic reasons, big numbers may look good to enthusiasts, but they look ugly to normal people. Look around you, none of your widgets have its serial number displayed in big visible letters, they're all hidden somewhere in small fonts.

yes, but vehicles tend to have identifying numbers prominently displayed (cars, aircraft, etc).  Although Ill concede that might not be an apples to apples comparison as a VIN is not exactly prominent on a car but license plates/tail numbers are so you get my point.  Im not sure an F9 could be classified as a widget like a mouse or phone
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: GreenShrike on 05/04/2018 08:03 PM
I wish SpaceX would write the core numbers more prominently and in something other than pale grey.

I think they did this for aesthetic reasons, big numbers may look good to enthusiasts, but they look ugly to normal people. Look around you, none of your widgets have its serial number displayed in big visible letters, they're all hidden somewhere in small fonts.

Rockets cores aren't anonymous widgets that just blend into the background. They're some of the biggest and noisiest things around.

Also, I don't believe that most people would call, for example, the serial NCC-1701 painted on a certain starship in quite a conspicuous location and at a very readable size "ugly". ;-)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/04/2018 08:11 PM
Can we please nip this "should have HUGE numbers" discussion in the bud, and discuss more relevant things about block 5?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Coastal Ron on 05/04/2018 08:34 PM
Rockets cores aren't anonymous widgets that just blend into the background. They're some of the biggest and noisiest things around.

Also, I don't believe that most people would call, for example, the serial NCC-1701 painted on a certain starship in quite a conspicuous location and at a very readable size "ugly". ;-)

Ship numbers are not written large because those on the ship need to know what ship they are on, they are written large so that people on OTHER ships can see what ship they are looking at.

Unmanned boosters are not self-aware enough to need to know the identities of other boosters sitting or flying nearby (although that may change in the future), so the only reason to have numbers on hardware is so workers can tell the difference between them - in which case they don't have to be that large or noticeable.

Which means the only reason we're talking about this is because WE in the public want to know the difference, but making it easy for the public to track stages is apparently NOT a concern that SpaceX has. And we all know this, so we should not complain about it.

Getting back to the topic at hand, what do we know about land legs 2.0 now that they are on a stage?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Star One on 05/04/2018 08:45 PM
Can we please nip this "should have HUGE numbers" discussion in the bud, and discuss more relevant things about block 5?

Most major things about it have been discussed at this stage, so it’s understandable that people turn to smaller issues.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: GreenShrike on 05/04/2018 09:08 PM
Which means the only reason we're talking about this is because WE in the public want to know the difference, but making it easy for the public to track stages is apparently NOT a concern that SpaceX has. And we all know this, so we should not complain about it.

Shouldn't complain...? You must not be from around here... ;-)

It may not be a concern SpaceX has now, but things do change. Quite often after-- Wait for it....

Complaints.

:-)

Can we please nip this "should have HUGE numbers" discussion in the bud, and discuss more relevant things about block 5?

You don't consider the markings on the first class of rocket boosters that will actually survive to accumulate long histories -- and, thus, stories, anthropomorphized personalities and even names (which is what the serials are really standing-in for), either formally or informally (e.g. "Sooty") -- to be relevant discussion? That goes against millennia of human culture and tradition.

But okay, I've said my piece.


So SpaceX must be pretty confident to have their logo in the center of the core, rather than being cramped towads the bottom. I guess the new core insulation must do a lot to prevent the frost and ice build up that would otherwise obscure it. I wonder if perhaps they're also using some sort of hydrophobic paint to keep the logo readable during propellant loading?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 05/04/2018 09:13 PM
Quote
I made a #Falcon9 Block 5 vs block 4 comparison shot, special thanks to @Craig_VG for merging @spiel2001's images. #spacex

https://twitter.com/tj_cooney/status/992496074454654982
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: TungstenCarbide on 05/04/2018 09:17 PM
A better, full res comparison of block 4 and block 5 from the same angle on the same pad.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: zhangmdev on 05/04/2018 09:45 PM

So SpaceX must be pretty confident to have their logo in the center of the core, rather than being cramped towads the bottom. I guess the new core insulation must do a lot to prevent the frost and ice build up that would otherwise obscure it. I wonder if perhaps they're also using some sort of hydrophobic paint to keep the logo readable during propellant loading?

I really doubt that is some magic paint can prevent frosting. The reason to move the logo could be as simple as not enough space between the legs.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: deruch on 05/04/2018 10:02 PM

So SpaceX must be pretty confident to have their logo in the center of the core, rather than being cramped towads the bottom. I guess the new core insulation must do a lot to prevent the frost and ice build up that would otherwise obscure it. I wonder if perhaps they're also using some sort of hydrophobic paint to keep the logo readable during propellant loading?

I really doubt that is some magic paint can prevent frosting. The reason to move the logo could be as simple as not enough space between the legs.

Or that they aren't going to be washing the boosters between uses so they wanted the logo on the section that ends up the cleanest after they have been flown and covered with soot.  I think they are willing to just accept that the logo will be covered up or obscured some by ice/frost during loading operations.  They are big enough now and established enough that they don't have to worry about people not knowing who they are or having the company's brand damaged by people making sophmoric jokes about the frost pattern making the rocket say sex (really "ceX").
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: envy887 on 05/05/2018 12:57 AM

So SpaceX must be pretty confident to have their logo in the center of the core, rather than being cramped towads the bottom. I guess the new core insulation must do a lot to prevent the frost and ice build up that would otherwise obscure it. I wonder if perhaps they're also using some sort of hydrophobic paint to keep the logo readable during propellant loading?

I really doubt that is some magic paint can prevent frosting. The reason to move the logo could be as simple as not enough space between the legs.

Or that they aren't going to be washing the boosters between uses so they wanted the logo on the section that ends up the cleanest after they have been flown and covered with soot.  I think they are willing to just accept that the logo will be covered up or obscured some by ice/frost during loading operations.  They are big enough now and established enough that they don't have to worry about people not knowing who they are or having the company's brand damaged by people making sophmoric jokes about the frost pattern making the rocket say sex (really "ceX").

Considering the Tesla lineup, it wouldn't surprise me if Musk moved the logo on purpose just so it would say that...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
Post by: Prettz on 05/05/2018 02:30 AM
I wish SpaceX would write the core numbers more prominently and in something other than pale grey.

I think they did this for aesthetic reasons, big numbers may look good to enthusiasts, but they look ugly to normal people.
They don't.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lar on 05/05/2018 06:58 AM
We can indeed nip the numbers discussion in the bud ... as long as we all agree that yes, there should be big numbers but SpaceX will do what they want, not what we want.  LOL

Then we can just enjoy this new booster and not argue. (semi serious)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: HVM on 05/05/2018 09:06 AM
Quote
I made a #Falcon9 Block 5 vs block 4 comparison shot, special thanks to @Craig_VG for merging @spiel2001's images. #spacex

https://twitter.com/tj_cooney/status/992496074454654982
It's said many times in the link, but still; it's Block 2 from CRS-6 not 4
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: 2008rlctx on 05/05/2018 02:48 PM
Nobody else has said it so... Another big reason to move the logo is the new black legs. Previously, the logo overwrapped the legs, so if the legs aren't getting painted, or painted with black coating, no logo there is feasible, hence it needed to be relocated. Excited to see if there is a big difference in the soon patters vs previous blocks. 🌿👀🌿
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: dorkmo on 05/07/2018 03:43 AM
what do you guys make of this? it looks like some sort of stiffing piece attached to the outside of the main leg structure. is that metal or just more carbon fiber? are those rivets?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Coastal Ron on 05/07/2018 04:20 AM
what do you guys make of this? it looks like some sort of stiffing piece attached to the outside of the main leg structure. is that metal or just more carbon fiber? are those rivets?

Sure look like rivets. Looks too small for trying to affect airflow.

So if they are rivets, then it must be a way to attached a metal piece to a composite one?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: zhangmdev on 05/07/2018 09:10 AM
what do you guys make of this? it looks like some sort of stiffing piece attached to the outside of the main leg structure. is that metal or just more carbon fiber? are those rivets?

Seems way more than necessary if those are rivets. Not sure why attach metal structure there. Here is the image showing the metal attachment around the root of old legs. The outside of leg shows panel-like structure, while inside looks like a unibody carbon fiber structure. Nothing like those bumps at all.

https://i.imgur.com/fQt8Pzd.jpg
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: smoliarm on 05/07/2018 11:33 AM
...
Seems way more than necessary if those are rivets.
...

Yes, for me too it looks more than necessary.
Although I saw such things, but pretty far from aerospace field.
I worked in Far North with geologists, and they had very similar patterns (with "pimps") on all shelves in the field toolboxes. They explained it was an anti-freezing trick. Because if you put metal tool onto a plain metal shelf - then even a tiny water drop (from condensate) will freeze and glue the tool DEAD to the shelf. As for the "pimped" shelf, it takes MUCH more water to do this nasty thing.

So my guess - this pattern is to limit the direct contact of the leg with the booster body.
What's the reason for that? I don't know :)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: zhangmdev on 05/07/2018 12:04 PM
But those parts do not touch the core body. And I don't think the fuel tank is cold enough to cause freezing problem. My guess is vortex generation, but usually there are dimples not bumps.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: 2008rlctx on 05/07/2018 12:10 PM
what do you guys make of this? it looks like some sort of stiffing piece attached to the outside of the main leg structure. is that metal or just more carbon fiber? are those rivets?

Sure look like rivets. Looks too small for trying to affect airflow.

So if they are rivets, then it must be a way to attached a metal piece to a composite one?

At the speeds this thing flies, I wouldn't discount these bumps affecting airflow. I've seen cars with miniscule bumps on mirrors that seem they couldn't do anything, but manufacturers have invested money in tooling to put little bumps there... So why not here?
I agree it's unlikely these are rivets and more likely something molded into or onto the carbon fiber to affect airflow or the other suggestion above, maybe affecting water/ice formation.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: RotoSequence on 05/07/2018 12:35 PM
Rockets don't usually spend enough time in atmosphere during flight for smaller protrusions to be worth eliminating.

Whatever they're connecting, with that many fasteners, those parts are rather thoroughly joined.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: pospa on 05/07/2018 01:44 PM
...My guess is vortex generation, but usually there are dimples not bumps.

Agree, I gues they are turbulators at the trailing edge of the unfolded leg to mitigate laminar airflow during stage decelaration and landing.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: robert_d on 05/07/2018 02:51 PM
I just wanted to compliment SpaceX on the way they have handled this current "glitch" in the static fire. I  am putting it here because it seems to be another example of how hard they have worked to make the new block 5 something special. It seems their whole philosophy of operation is somehow complimentary to Blue Origin's "Step by step, ferociously". SpaceX's would be something like "Run as fast as you can, carefully". They seem to have learned from the prior failures, and, looking towards crewed flights on the block 5, check everything conceivable. They take full advantage of the more powerful computational/sensor landscape available to identify issues and resolve them. May they never get complacent. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Coastal Ron on 05/07/2018 02:57 PM
...My guess is vortex generation, but usually there are dimples not bumps.

Agree, I gues they are turbulators at the trailing edge of the unfolded leg to mitigate laminar airflow during stage decelaration and landing.

Except if you look at the picture you'll see that the whole area is not streamlined - there are ridges and valleys right next to this long strip of bumps, which leads me to believe that they really don't care about airflow in this area. I think these are more likely mechanical connections.
Title: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 05/07/2018 03:41 PM
I’m pretty sure those are rivets connecting the carbon fiber leg “fairing” to a stiffener made out of another material. This would run from hinge point down to contact point.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: RDMM2081 on 05/07/2018 05:21 PM
"Run as fast as you can, carefully"

Made my morning!  I agree with the opinion that this is likely not a "showstopper" type issue they are working, but rather something in the "overabundance of caution" category.  I also think we are about to witness the birth of steamrollerV2 when Banghabandu goes up.  I am prepared to be shocked by the pace, and still expecting to be shocked by how shocked I end up being.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/07/2018 06:07 PM
I just wanted to compliment SpaceX on the way they have handled this current "glitch" in the static fire. I  am putting it here because it seems to be another example of how hard they have worked to make the new block 5 something special. It seems their whole philosophy of operation is somehow complimentary to Blue Origin's "Step by step, ferociously". SpaceX's would be something like "Run as fast as you can, carefully". They seem to have learned from the prior failures, and, looking towards crewed flights on the block 5, check everything conceivable. They take full advantage of the more powerful computational/sensor landscape available to identify issues and resolve them. May they never get complacent. 

Why is this any different than any other vehicle or contractors?  This is nothing out of the ordinary.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: LouScheffer on 05/07/2018 08:18 PM
I just wanted to compliment SpaceX on the way they have handled this current "glitch" in the static fire. I  am putting it here because it seems to be another example of how hard they have worked to make the new block 5 something special. It seems their whole philosophy of operation is somehow complimentary to Blue Origin's "Step by step, ferociously". SpaceX's would be something like "Run as fast as you can, carefully". They seem to have learned from the prior failures, and, looking towards crewed flights on the block 5, check everything conceivable. They take full advantage of the more powerful computational/sensor landscape available to identify issues and resolve them. May they never get complacent. 

Why is this any different than any other vehicle or contractors?  This is nothing out of the ordinary.

I agree with Jim that this is nothing unusual for other contractors.  What poster is getting at, I think, is that you might expect a company that is always trying new things (fairing recovery, launching heavy, new block build, all introduced this half year) might also suffer from "go fever".  But in this case they seem to be quite conservative, whereas it's hard to imagine them holding a launch if they found a problem with the fairing recovery hardware.  In theory it's just common sense to handle production and experimentall stuff appropriately, but common sense is not as common as you might think.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: docmordrid on 05/07/2018 08:43 PM
"Run as fast as you can, carefully"

Made my morning! 
>

Mine too! BTW,

"Quantum potes fugere sedulo"

Anyone want to design them a crest? ;)

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: joek on 05/07/2018 08:44 PM
Why is this any different than any other vehicle or contractors?  This is nothing out of the ordinary.

What is different and out of the ordinary is the apparent ability to maintain a high level of prudence-caution while also maintaining a high level of change-innovation.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Rabidpanda on 05/07/2018 10:01 PM
Why is this any different than any other vehicle or contractors?  This is nothing out of the ordinary.

What is different and out of the ordinary is the apparent ability to maintain a high level of prudence-caution while also maintaining a high level of change-innovation.

Are there any examples of companies in the aerospace world that don’t (generally) maintain a high level of prudence and caution?

What makes you think what SpaceX is doing here is out of the ordinary for them or any similar company?

Every action by SpaceX doesn’t have to be some crazy new approach that will revolutionize the industry. I think it’s more meaningful to save the praise for the things that are actually revolutionary (reusing F9 boosters, etc).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Kabloona on 05/08/2018 12:43 AM
I’m pretty sure those are rivets connecting the carbon fiber leg “fairing” to a stiffener made out of another material. This would run from hinge point down to contact point.

I'd agree that they're fasteners, but what you're calling a stiffener I'd guess is more like a metal doubler that, along with the fasteners, acts to clamp the two composite pieces (outer and inner faces) of the leg together. Carbon fiber is already so stiff that the leg cross-section should be more than strong enough without stiffeners, and the relative narrowness of that strip, just wide enough to carry the bearing stress of the fastener heads, makes me think it's for that purpose.

Probably SpaceX came up with a more efficient manufacturing process for the legs, one that requires some assembly but makes the composite parts easier to fabricate.

Quote
Theoretically, all composites could be adhesively bonded. However, many manufacturers avoid adhesive bonds where joints undergo large amounts of stress; thus, fasteners are still specified for many joints. Also, some structures and components are so large that they preclude the use of the special lay-up tooling and curing equipment needed for most adhesive applications, making fasteners cost-effective for such cases.

http://www.machinedesign.com/basics-design/joining-composites
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ZachF on 05/08/2018 01:39 AM
"Run as fast as you can, carefully"

Made my morning! 
>

Mine too! BTW,

"Quantum potes fugere sedulo"

Anyone want to design them a crest? ;)

Something like this?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 05/08/2018 01:45 AM
I’m pretty sure those are rivets connecting the carbon fiber leg “fairing” to a stiffener made out of another material. This would run from hinge point down to contact point.

I'd agree that they're fasteners, but what you're calling a stiffener I'd guess is more like a metal doubler that, along with the fasteners, acts to clamp the two composite pieces (outer and inner faces) of the leg together. Carbon fiber is already so stiff that the leg cross-section should be more than strong enough without stiffeners, and the relative narrowness of that strip, just wide enough to carry the bearing stress of the fastener heads, makes me think it's for that purpose.

Probably SpaceX came up with a more efficient manufacturing process for the legs, one that requires some assembly but makes the composite parts easier to fabricate.

Quote
Theoretically, all composites could be adhesively bonded. However, many manufacturers avoid adhesive bonds where joints undergo large amounts of stress; thus, fasteners are still specified for many joints. Also, some structures and components are so large that they preclude the use of the special lay-up tooling and curing equipment needed for most adhesive applications, making fasteners cost-effective for such cases.

http://www.machinedesign.com/basics-design/joining-composites
Good point. It’ll be interesting to see these legs unfolded...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: docmordrid on 05/08/2018 01:59 AM


"Run as fast as you can, carefully"

Made my morning! 
>

Mine too! BTW,

"Quantum potes fugere sedulo"

Anyone want to design them a crest? ;)

Something like this?

Perfect
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 05/08/2018 04:39 AM
I’m pretty sure those are rivets connecting the carbon fiber leg “fairing” to a stiffener made out of another material. This would run from hinge point down to contact point.

I'd agree that they're fasteners, but what you're calling a stiffener I'd guess is more like a metal doubler that, along with the fasteners, acts to clamp the two composite pieces (outer and inner faces) of the leg together. Carbon fiber is already so stiff that the leg cross-section should be more than strong enough without stiffeners, and the relative narrowness of that strip, just wide enough to carry the bearing stress of the fastener heads, makes me think it's for that purpose.

Probably SpaceX came up with a more efficient manufacturing process for the legs, one that requires some assembly but makes the composite parts easier to fabricate.

Quote
Theoretically, all composites could be adhesively bonded. However, many manufacturers avoid adhesive bonds where joints undergo large amounts of stress; thus, fasteners are still specified for many joints. Also, some structures and components are so large that they preclude the use of the special lay-up tooling and curing equipment needed for most adhesive applications, making fasteners cost-effective for such cases.

http://www.machinedesign.com/basics-design/joining-composites

It may also be a tool for refurbishment. Say the legs are wearing at the edges due to flames and aerodynamics so they put a separate piece of carbon fiber there that is replaceable.

Bonding carbon fiber to metal is difficult and often causes more problems than it solves. I can't imagine a flat piece of metal like that adding stiffness to the contoured carbon fiber there and the color implies it is all the same material. It could well be for joining, but bonding two chunks of carbon fiber together is generally pretty trivial compared to fastening them. The only reason I can think of to fasten it is to make it removable.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: strax on 05/08/2018 06:54 AM


"Run as fast as you can, carefully"

Made my morning! 
>

Mine too! BTW,

"Quantum potes fugere sedulo"

Anyone want to design them a crest? ;)

Something like this?

Perfect

Nah...

This is better: ardet nec consumitur, burned (but) not destroyed. And a phoenix as picture.

Think of all those burned S1's.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: rsdavis9 on 05/08/2018 10:50 AM
I’m pretty sure those are rivets connecting the carbon fiber leg “fairing” to a stiffener made out of another material. This would run from hinge point down to contact point.

I'd agree that they're fasteners, but what you're calling a stiffener I'd guess is more like a metal doubler that, along with the fasteners, acts to clamp the two composite pieces (outer and inner faces) of the leg together. Carbon fiber is already so stiff that the leg cross-section should be more than strong enough without stiffeners, and the relative narrowness of that strip, just wide enough to carry the bearing stress of the fastener heads, makes me think it's for that purpose.

Probably SpaceX came up with a more efficient manufacturing process for the legs, one that requires some assembly but makes the composite parts easier to fabricate.

Quote
Theoretically, all composites could be adhesively bonded. However, many manufacturers avoid adhesive bonds where joints undergo large amounts of stress; thus, fasteners are still specified for many joints. Also, some structures and components are so large that they preclude the use of the special lay-up tooling and curing equipment needed for most adhesive applications, making fasteners cost-effective for such cases.

http://www.machinedesign.com/basics-design/joining-composites

Makes you wonder how they will join the barrels they are making for the BFB/BFS. Glue or metal joining bands.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lar on 05/08/2018 05:43 PM
Are there any examples of companies in the aerospace world that don’t (generally) maintain a high level of prudence and caution?

NASA lost not just one, but two, shuttles because of a lack of " high level of prudence and caution" IMHO.

(mod)  The crest design stuff might belong in the party thread?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: chipguy on 05/08/2018 06:07 PM
Are there any examples of companies in the aerospace world that don’t (generally) maintain a high level of prudence and caution?

NASA lost not just one, but two, shuttles because of a lack of " high level of prudence and caution" IMHO.


That is out of line, especially for a moderator.

Debatable for Columbia, not at all for Challenger. Richard Feynman was equally
blunt and equally right in the Rogers commission.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Hauerg on 05/08/2018 06:12 PM
Are there any examples of companies in the aerospace world that don’t (generally) maintain a high level of prudence and caution?

NASA lost not just one, but two, shuttles because of a lack of " high level of prudence and caution" IMHO.


That is out of line, especially for a moderator.
Reading all available information back then I tend to disagree.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: abaddon on 05/08/2018 06:16 PM
Are there any examples of companies in the aerospace world that don’t (generally) maintain a high level of prudence and caution?

NASA lost not just one, but two, shuttles because of a lack of " high level of prudence and caution" IMHO.


That is out of line, especially for a moderator.
I don't know if it is out of line, but it is (increasingly) off topic for "F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion".  Can we move it somewhere else (or preferably just shelve it)?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lar on 05/08/2018 06:29 PM
The question was asked, (tangentially) if there were organizations that did not always operate in a certain way. An answer was given, and I do think there are other examples (although not all US ones) in the rocket business.  No need to discuss further.

I stand behind my comment as appropriate and not incorrect. But perhaps not on topic except as answering a tangent.   Let's get back to B5
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/08/2018 06:55 PM
The question was asked, (tangentially) if there were organizations that did not always operate in a certain way. An answer was given,


That was 15 and 30 years ago.  We are talking now.

Are you being held to asinine things you did 15 and 30 years ago?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: punder on 05/08/2018 07:01 PM
The question was asked, (tangentially) if there were organizations that did not always operate in a certain way. An answer was given,


That was 15 and 30 years ago.  We are talking now.

Are you being held to asinine things you did 15 and 30 years ago?

In that case, I submit that planning to launch a crewed circumlunar mission on the second flight of a new launch vehicle is a good example.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/08/2018 07:04 PM
In that case, I submit that planning to launch a crewed circumlunar mission on the second flight of a new launch vehicle is a good example.

They weren't planning, they were asked to look at it.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lar on 05/08/2018 07:07 PM
Tangential. Let's get back to B5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: robert_d on 05/09/2018 07:23 PM
So I would like to ask what type of mission would be good for the first attempt to fly the Block 5 for a third time? Would an LEO lower stress mission be best? Is there something upcoming that might provide advantages as a third mission? What about the Max-Q abort test? Should this test be done with a block 5 to be as close to real world crewed flights as possible?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Star One on 05/09/2018 07:44 PM
Key piece from this article about the new Falcon 9 Block 5.

Quote
That’s something NASA is happy about: the Block 5 is the rocket that SpaceX will use to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, as part of the Commercial Crew Program. So this version has been built to meet all of the space agency’s rigorous safety standards. NASA is requiring that SpaceX fly the Block 5 at least seven times successfully, without any major changes, in order to certify it for human flight. It’s a stringent requirement, especially for a rocket that’s flown numerous times before. In comparison, NASA’s future Space Launch System will only do one test flight before it’s certified to fly humans. And the Space Shuttle’s very first flight had humans on board. “SpaceX is going through a level of rigor and improvement that far exceeds everything that’s been done in human spaceflight,” says Autry.

https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/5/9/17254384/spacex-falcon-9-block-5-upgrade-rocket-reusability-savings
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/09/2018 07:47 PM
So I would like to ask what type of mission would be good for the first attempt to fly the Block 5 for a third time? Would an LEO lower stress mission be best? Is there something upcoming that might provide advantages as a third mission? What about the Max-Q abort test? Should this test be done with a block 5 to be as close to real world crewed flights as possible?

The abort test is the last flight you'd want to use since it's not assured the booster will survive it.  If they have a leftover Block 4 it would be great to use on the abort test.

Block 5 is meant to be used many times.  If it looks good after the second flight then it should be able to fly to either GTO or LEO.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: whitelancer64 on 05/09/2018 08:23 PM
So I would like to ask what type of mission would be good for the first attempt to fly the Block 5 for a third time? Would an LEO lower stress mission be best? Is there something upcoming that might provide advantages as a third mission? What about the Max-Q abort test? Should this test be done with a block 5 to be as close to real world crewed flights as possible?

I don't think it will matter.

That's the key to the whole reuse bit. It doesn't matter what type of mission they fly, they'll still reuse the booster.

The abort test can use a solid booster and it would still give the exact same test conditions. The in-flight abort test is only about the capsule's abort performance in the worst-case flight conditions, nothing at all to do with the booster.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: wannamoonbase on 05/09/2018 08:39 PM
So I would like to ask what type of mission would be good for the first attempt to fly the Block 5 for a third time? Would an LEO lower stress mission be best? Is there something upcoming that might provide advantages as a third mission? What about the Max-Q abort test? Should this test be done with a block 5 to be as close to real world crewed flights as possible?

I don't think it will matter.

That's the key to the whole reuse bit. It doesn't matter what type of mission they fly, they'll still reuse the booster.

The abort test can use a solid booster and it would still give the exact same test conditions. The in-flight abort test is only about the capsule's abort performance in the worst-case flight conditions, nothing at all to do with the booster.

I agree, I don't think it matters. 

If the vehicle is approved for flight it should be able to do 100% of its capabilities for each flight.  Flight 10 should be equally capable as flight 1.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: tvg98 on 05/09/2018 09:06 PM
From the press kit:

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
- 00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway


Compared to Block 4:

COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 01:13:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 01:10:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway


Falcon 9 will be loaded up with RP-1 and LOX a lot faster than usual. Are they trying to keep the propellants as cold as possible before launch?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: DigitalMan on 05/09/2018 09:09 PM
From the press kit:

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
- 00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway


Compared to Block 4:

COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 01:13:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 01:10:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway


Falcon 9 will be loaded up with RP-1 and LOX a lot faster than usual. Are they trying to keep the propellants as cold as possible before launch?

Wow, that is drastically shortened.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Alexphysics on 05/09/2018 09:11 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: envy887 on 05/09/2018 09:13 PM
Here's the first Block 5 launch sequence from the presskits. Compared to the last Block 4 GTO launch, LOX load starts at the same time, but RP load starts much later.

After liftoff, the Block 5 gets to MaxQ quicker. MECO is also sooner; since Hispasat was intended to be an ASDS landing this is probably relevant to the change in booster thrust. The earlier SECO is probably due to the much lighter payload.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: envy887 on 05/09/2018 09:14 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.

I don't know that the RP-1 load has even been considered risky, the temperature differentials are far more benign than the LOX load.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Tomness on 05/09/2018 09:32 PM
Just to confirm, both stages are indeed block 5.

So this Full Block V/V7? like this is end of the line? balls to wall F9 beast we have been waiting for? :D
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: IanThePineapple on 05/09/2018 09:38 PM
Just to confirm, both stages are indeed block 5.

So this Full Block V/V7? like this is end of the line? balls to wall F9 beast we have been waiting for? :D

You got it. The beginning of the end of the F9 program...

Woah...  :o
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AbuSimbel on 05/09/2018 10:09 PM
I prefer, quoting Eric Berger 'The end of the beginning' for the Falcon program.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: IanThePineapple on 05/09/2018 10:14 PM
I prefer, quoting Eric Berger 'The end of the beginning' for the Falcon program.

Yeah, both terms work. We're really in an odd, grey area of the F9 program.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 05/09/2018 10:15 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.

I don't know that the RP-1 load has even been considered risky, the temperature differentials are far more benign than the LOX load.

Given that the mass of a Dragon 2 with crew and payload is far less than the capability of an F9 Block 5 to LEO, could SpaceX forego the use of super-chilled propellant for such missions? Would that result in lower perceived or actual risks to the crew and mission?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: IanThePineapple on 05/09/2018 10:30 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.

I don't know that the RP-1 load has even been considered risky, the temperature differentials are far more benign than the LOX load.

Given that the mass of a Dragon 2 with crew and payload is far less than the capability of an F9 Block 5 to LEO, could SpaceX forego the use of super-chilled propellant for such missions? Would that result in lower perceived or actual risks to the crew and mission?

The Full Thrust Merlin 1D was designed specifically to work with chilled propellants, along with all other pad and rocket systems. So it's pretty much a solid "no"
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/09/2018 10:32 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.

I don't know that the RP-1 load has even been considered risky, the temperature differentials are far more benign than the LOX load.

Given that the mass of a Dragon 2 with crew and payload is far less than the capability of an F9 Block 5 to LEO, could SpaceX forego the use of super-chilled propellant for such missions? Would that result in lower perceived or actual risks to the crew and mission?

The Full Thrust Merlin 1D was designed specifically to work with chilled propellants, along with all other pad and rocket systems. So it's pretty much a solid "no"

Not using densified propellant would negatively affect performance.

But please - we need to stop this idea that M1D's now only work with densified propellant. Whatever propellant remains as the landing burns starts is surely NOT super chilled or densified anymore. Just regular LOX and RP-1.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: DigitalMan on 05/09/2018 10:37 PM
The question I have is what configuration/propellant loading solution are they going to use for the DM-1 launch?  I would expect that will be exactly what they would intend to do for DM-2, no?

A complication is that if the procedure differs from a normal launch what does that do in terms of certification flights?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 05/09/2018 11:12 PM
I prefer, quoting Eric Berger 'The end of the beginning' for the Falcon program.

Yeah, both terms work. We're really in an odd, grey area of the F9 program.

Oh, I don't know. It's basically where every other "mature", operational launch system is by their 3rd or 4th mission. It's only odd or gray in "SpaceX Land." They've tweaked and flat-out changed so much stuff that "Falcon 9" as a term is basically meaningless. Go back and watch footage of the first couple F9 launches and compare to the present.

I mean, if you add in an expectation that all F9 operations will cease and the entire SpaceX manifest will transition to BFR/BFS in a few years, then maybe it feels odd. However, my personal belief is that if such a transition occurs at all (*), it won't be for another 5 years or so, maybe longer. That's time for a LOT of Block 5 flights.

(*) Look, I adore Elon's optimism and vision as much as anyone, but I think the jump to BFR scale is going to more of a tedious technological slog and will take 3 times longer than he hopes it will. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily enjoy my plate of crow. I would like some barbecue sauce if necessary, however.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/09/2018 11:28 PM
The question I have is what configuration/propellant loading solution are they going to use for the DM-1 launch?  I would expect that will be exactly what they would intend to do for DM-2, no?

A complication is that if the procedure differs from a normal launch what does that do in terms of certification flights?

This is already being discussed in the Commercial Crew Discussion thread,we don't need to start a parallel conversation here:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35717.0
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: lonestriker on 05/10/2018 01:43 AM
From the press kit:

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
- 00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading underway


Compared to Block 4:

COUNTDOWN
Hour/Min/Sec Events
- 01:13:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
- 01:10:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
- 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway


Falcon 9 will be loaded up with RP-1 and LOX a lot faster than usual. Are they trying to keep the propellants as cold as possible before launch?

Pure conjecture on my part:  that's the likely explanation for later-loading RP-1 (as mentioned LOX loading time is unchanged.)  I assume that the later RP-1 loading will also help keep the LOX colder and result in less boil off post launch; they share a common bulkhead so the much warmer RP-1 would be a big cryo sink and warm the LOX more if it sits in the tanks longer.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 05/10/2018 02:09 AM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.
You’re making a leap of faith. I’d say we _hope_ it’s not so risky...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: cppetrie on 05/10/2018 02:27 AM
I’m not convinced they’ve shortened either fuel load times. If they have been using 35 minutes to load RP-1 starting at t-70 minutes and 35 minutes to load LOX starting at t-35 minutes, then this new timeline doesn’t represent faster fuel/oxidizer loading but rather simultaneous fuel and oxidizer loading of 35 minutes starting at t-35 minutes.

Also, I am virtually certain they went back to the fast LOX load that was used for Amos-6 beginning with the introduction of block 4 upper stages last year. The LOX load time hasn’t changed from Block 4, just the RP-1 loading start time.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Kabloona on 05/10/2018 03:28 AM

(*) Look, I adore Elon's optimism and vision as much as anyone, but I think the jump to BFR scale is going to more of a tedious technological slog and will take 3 times longer than he hopes it will. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily enjoy my plate of crow. I would like some barbecue sauce if necessary, however.

I agree and hope you're proven right, if only because F9 is such a cost-effective technical marvel, it deserves to enjoy at least a decade or more in the limelight. Seeing it superceded in a few years would be like seeing a sports superstar retire in his/her prime.

But I don't think you'll be eating any crow, with or without sauce.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: deruch on 05/10/2018 04:39 AM
I’m not convinced they’ve shortened either fuel load times. If they have been using 35 minutes to load RP-1 starting at t-70 minutes and 35 minutes to load LOX starting at t-35 minutes, then this new timeline doesn’t represent faster fuel/oxidizer loading but rather simultaneous fuel and oxidizer loading of 35 minutes starting at t-35 minutes.

There are call outs on the previous webcasts for when they finish loading RP-1 that go almost all the way up to launch.  It very clearly wasn't all loaded in the first 35 minutes.  Not even into just topping off at that point.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: techdude06 on 05/10/2018 11:16 AM
Are there COPVs in the RP1 tank?

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AbuSimbel on 05/10/2018 11:19 AM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.
You’re making a leap of faith. I’d say we _hope_ it’s not so risky...

No, SpaceX and NASA tested this thoroughly and calculated it's not so risky. A bit more than faith...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: meekGee on 05/10/2018 02:05 PM



(*) Look, I adore Elon's optimism and vision as much as anyone, but I think the jump to BFR scale is going to more of a tedious technological slog and will take 3 times longer than he hopes it will. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily enjoy my plate of crow. I would like some barbecue sauce if necessary, however.

I agree and hope you're proven right, if only because F9 is such a cost-effective technical marvel, it deserves to enjoy at least a decade or more in the limelight. Seeing it superceded in a few years would be like seeing a sports superstar retire in his/her prime.



Sure, but by the time it retires it will have flown more than any other rocket, right?

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: mme on 05/10/2018 02:12 PM



(*) Look, I adore Elon's optimism and vision as much as anyone, but I think the jump to BFR scale is going to more of a tedious technological slog and will take 3 times longer than he hopes it will. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily enjoy my plate of crow. I would like some barbecue sauce if necessary, however.

I agree and hope you're proven right, if only because F9 is such a cost-effective technical marvel, it deserves to enjoy at least a decade or more in the limelight. Seeing it superceded in a few years would be like seeing a sports superstar retire in his/her prime.



Sure, but by the time it retires it will have flown more than any other rocket, right?

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down
Depends on if you consider all the R-7 derivatives as the same rocket.  It'll take a while to pass the Soyuz-U if you want to stick to a specific, um, block.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Semmel on 05/10/2018 02:13 PM



(*) Look, I adore Elon's optimism and vision as much as anyone, but I think the jump to BFR scale is going to more of a tedious technological slog and will take 3 times longer than he hopes it will. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily enjoy my plate of crow. I would like some barbecue sauce if necessary, however.

I agree and hope you're proven right, if only because F9 is such a cost-effective technical marvel, it deserves to enjoy at least a decade or more in the limelight. Seeing it superceded in a few years would be like seeing a sports superstar retire in his/her prime.



Sure, but by the time it retires it will have flown more than any other rocket, right?


Soyuz R7 more than 1800 launches are hard to overtake. I doubt that F9 will fly that often.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: meekGee on 05/10/2018 02:51 PM
The 1700 figure spans many models, but yeah, probably won't have time to catch up even with a single model.

-----
ABCD: Always Be Counting Down

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ZachF on 05/10/2018 02:51 PM
I prefer, quoting Eric Berger 'The end of the beginning' for the Falcon program.

Yeah, both terms work. We're really in an odd, grey area of the F9 program.

And by "Odd, grey area" you mean "Salad Days" of the F9 program.  ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: litton4 on 05/10/2018 06:23 PM
I prefer, quoting Eric Berger 'The end of the beginning' for the Falcon program.

Yeah, both terms work. We're really in an odd, grey area of the F9 program.

...and he in turn, was quoting Winston Churchill.....
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/10/2018 07:33 PM
Tweets from Brendan Byrne (https://twitter.com/SpaceBrendan/status/994658018691375104):
Quote
Musk on 'Load and Go" - The issue has been overblow. We can load the prop then load the astronauts.

Musk: Load and go is not a safety issue for astronauts. Can do before astros load. But this is an overblown issue. #SpaceX #Falcon9 #Block5

(just putting this here for better visibility, but discussion of it is probably better in the Commercial Crew Discussion thread)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Norm38 on 05/10/2018 08:04 PM
So if they build 30-50 F9s and each F9 can fly 100 times, then they have 3000-5000 missions.  They have 3 pads, at best they'd launch once per week per pad, so ~150 per year tops, maybe.
So they'd have 20 years of operations out of this fleet, minimum?

Sounds like they should be able to shut down the line and shift to BFR once the fleet is built.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: abaddon on 05/10/2018 08:11 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AncientU on 05/10/2018 08:14 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.

Which is not close to consistent with the 30-50 cores and 100 flights possible per core.  Something/someone is off by order of magnitude.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: leetdan on 05/10/2018 08:16 PM
Don't conflate "possible" with "planned".
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ZachF on 05/10/2018 08:16 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.

Which is not close to consistent with the 30-50 cores and 100 flights possible per core.  Something/someone is off by order of magnitude.

He said it depends on how many customers want a brand new core.

Also, they'll likely be retired by BFR before they can reach their full 100 launch lifespan IMHO.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Coastal Ron on 05/10/2018 08:17 PM
Tweets from Brendan Byrne (https://twitter.com/SpaceBrendan/status/994658018691375104):
Quote
Musk on 'Load and Go" - The issue has been overblow. We can load the prop then load the astronauts.

Musk: Load and go is not a safety issue for astronauts. Can do before astros load. But this is an overblown issue. #SpaceX #Falcon9 #Block5

(just putting this here for better visibility, but discussion of it is probably better in the Commercial Crew Discussion thread)

That certainly simplifies the situation...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jakusb on 05/10/2018 08:19 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.

Yes, I am having a hard time combining that one with the 30-50 cores...
Sounds like massive overkill or still dozens of stages being expended...
How will they ever get close to even 50 per core?!

For now the 100 number seems purely theoretical and will never be attempted.
But we all know the world hanged rapidly, paradigms are shifting and BFR is looming...

Meanwhile competition with old-space seems way behind them...

How long ago did Russia joke about using a trampoline?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: abaddon on 05/10/2018 08:20 PM
The 300 number might also be an estimate of contracted SpaceX missions, and not count self-funded ones (Starlink).
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: cebri on 05/10/2018 08:21 PM
Take 100 flights with a grain of salt. If each F9 B5 could fly up to 10 times it would be already a great achievement.  Currently the most a F9 core has flown is two times with 4-5 months needed for refurbishment.

Also, some parts may be certified to fly 100 times, but if you change 99% of the booster, is it really the same one?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: RedLineTrain on 05/10/2018 08:22 PM
We would want to see the transcript of what Musk actually said.  The Twitter feed I was following said "300 or more."

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994648133840920578
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AncientU on 05/10/2018 08:29 PM
The 300 number might also be an estimate of contracted SpaceX missions, and not count self-funded ones (Starlink).

300 is enough to get just half of the 12,000 satellite constellation launched.
With the 100 flights on the manifest, and a 4,425 satellite constellation to launch (220 flights @ 20sats/flight?), 300 flights aren't enough -- so no more bookings?

Somethings is seriously screwed up in these numbers.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ZachF on 05/10/2018 08:30 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.

Yes, I am having a hard time combining that one with the 30-50 cores...
Sounds like massive overkill or still dozens of stages being expended...
How will they ever get close to even 50 per core?!

For now the 100 number seems purely theoretical and will never be attempted.
But we all know the world hanged rapidly, paradigms are shifting and BFR is looming...

Meanwhile competition with old-space seems way behind them...

How long ago did Russia joke about using a trampoline?

Some customers are specifying brand new boosters, and I'm sure some FH center cores will go into the drink. it's not inconceivable that these two numbers add up to twenty-something boosters over the next 5 or so years.

BFR will probably be here before any boosters hit the century mark.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Kabloona on 05/10/2018 08:45 PM

Take 100 flights with a grain of salt. If each F9 B5 could fly up to 10 times it would be already a great achievement.  Currently the most a F9 core has flown is two times with 4-5 months needed for refurbishment.

On that subject, Musk said he thinks 10 flights of one booster could happen next year:

Quote
Musk: The first #Falcon9 Block 5 to achieve 10 flights will probably happen next year. "I think that's really a key milestone," he says

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994653260547088384

That implies one booster accounting for about 1/4 to 1/3 of their manifest, depending on overall flight rate.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AncientU on 05/10/2018 09:05 PM
The way to run up the flights on a booster is to repeatedly use it for Starlink launches -- flying it till exhaustion while only risking their own low cost satellites.  This could begin next year...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Comga on 05/10/2018 09:27 PM
Worth noting it is the same loading they were doing pre-Amos 6. This time with redesigned COPV's it will not be so risky.

I don't know that the RP-1 load has even been considered risky, the temperature differentials are far more benign than the LOX load.

Given that the mass of a Dragon 2 with crew and payload is far less than the capability of an F9 Block 5 to LEO, could SpaceX forego the use of super-chilled propellant for such missions? Would that result in lower perceived or actual risks to the crew and mission?

The Full Thrust Merlin 1D was designed specifically to work with chilled propellants, along with all other pad and rocket systems. So it's pretty much a solid "no"

Not using densified propellant would negatively affect performance.

But please - we need to stop this idea that M1D's now only work with densified propellant. Whatever propellant remains as the landing burns starts is surely NOT super chilled or densified anymore. Just regular LOX and RP-1.

I asked the same question over in the CCtCap Discussion Thread (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35717.msg1819008#msg1819008) but didn't get as good a response as Lars-J just gave. 
It was generally agreed that it would not be any safer as far as us outsider can intuit, but it would be one way to get around ASAP's aversion to boarding-before-fueling. 
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: matthewkantar on 05/10/2018 09:33 PM
Lauren said, during the Bangabandhu-1 webcast, the new TPS on Falcon 9 is a type of felt, replacing the cork used previously.

Edited to add "during…webcast"
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: matthewkantar on 05/10/2018 09:37 PM
They also said something about TPS "tiles"??
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/10/2018 10:11 PM
They all said something about TPS "tiles"??

At the base of the rocket.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/10/2018 10:39 PM
We would want to see the transcript of what Musk actually said.  The Twitter feed I was following said "300 or more."

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994648133840920578
I wish this were simply released in its entirety.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: wannamoonbase on 05/10/2018 10:40 PM
Take 100 flights with a grain of salt. If each F9 B5 could fly up to 10 times it would be already a great achievement.  Currently the most a F9 core has flown is two times with 4-5 months needed for refurbishment.

Also, some parts may be certified to fly 100 times, but if you change 99% of the booster, is it really the same one?

Fairing and US reuse would be needed to really supercharge the flight rate.

If the US can be reused without too high a penalty then the economics of space launch could be shocking. 

If that works out then StarLink deployment and speed could be shocking.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AbuSimbel on 05/10/2018 11:02 PM
We would want to see the transcript of what Musk actually said.  The Twitter feed I was following said "300 or more."

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994648133840920578
I wish this were simply released in its entirety.

Here you go:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCNyCVuN4aM
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: deruch on 05/10/2018 11:07 PM
We would want to see the transcript of what Musk actually said.  The Twitter feed I was following said "300 or more."

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994648133840920578
I wish this were simply released in its entirety.

Just wait.  I'm sure as soon as someone posts a recording of the call, theinternetFTW will end up posting a transcript to his github.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: groundbound on 05/10/2018 11:37 PM
Elon said "up to 300 missions" for F9 B5.

Yes, I am having a hard time combining that one with the 30-50 cores...
Sounds like massive overkill or still dozens of stages being expended...
How will they ever get close to even 50 per core?!

For now the 100 number seems purely theoretical and will never be attempted.
But we all know the world hanged rapidly, paradigms are shifting and BFR is looming...

Meanwhile competition with old-space seems way behind them...

How long ago did Russia joke about using a trampoline?

Some customers are specifying brand new boosters, and I'm sure some FH center cores will go into the drink. it's not inconceivable that these two numbers add up to twenty-something boosters over the next 5 or so years.

BFR will probably be here before any boosters hit the century mark.

I've been wondering if SpaceX will start actively pushing customers away from new boosters in a year or so. Beyond simply dropping the price for re-used they could theoretically start jacking up the price for any new contract that requires new hardware.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: envy887 on 05/11/2018 12:18 AM
We would want to see the transcript of what Musk actually said.  The Twitter feed I was following said "300 or more."

https://twitter.com/EmreKelly/status/994648133840920578
I wish this were simply released in its entirety.

Just wait.  I'm sure as soon as someone posts a recording of the call, theinternetFTW will end up posting a transcript to his github.

The actual statement by Musk was "we think we'll be probably need something on the order of 300 flights, maybe more, of Falcon 9 Block 5"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCNyCVuN4aM?t=240

He also said "we intend to demonstrate two orbital launches of the same Block 5 vehicle within 24 hours no later than next year".
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/11/2018 12:49 AM
Active water cooling of the base heat shield during reentry?!
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/11/2018 12:56 AM
Active water cooling of the base heat shield during reentry?!
Makes sense. The heat of vaporization of water is very high, and it keeps everything from going beyond like 100C. I’m doing a similar thing for a thermal management problem I’m dealing with right now.

It's a lot like a regeneratively or gas-film cooled rocket engine. In fact, that's how I like to solve engineering problems: "But how would we solve this problem if we treated it like a rocket engine?"
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: su27k on 05/11/2018 05:03 AM
Octaweb upgrade from 2000 series aluminum to 7000 series

Replaced composite structure(?) in the base heat shield with titanium structure. Selected area is actively cooled with water due to hotspot from hypersonic shockwave(?) during re-entry.

Also upgraded all the avionics (flight computer, engine controllers), more fault tolerant. Also eliminated some tower? Avionic tower?

Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: theinternetftw on 05/11/2018 05:28 AM
Just wait.  I'm sure as soon as someone posts a recording of the call, theinternetFTW will end up posting a transcript to his github.

Accurate. Transcript below. (Already in the update thread, too, but for the ease of finding it now and later...)

https://gist.github.com/theinternetftw/5ba82bd5f4099934fa0556b9d09c123e
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/11/2018 05:34 AM
Active water cooling of the base heat shield during reentry?!

Yeah that was perhaps the biggest surprise. But cool!  8)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: lonestriker on 05/11/2018 05:52 AM
Active water cooling of the base heat shield during reentry?!

Yeah that was perhaps the biggest surprise. But cool!  8)

So many interesting gems from the call.  Human rating F9 needing 40% extra margin puts a lot of things into perspective; reading between the lines, they had to squeeze out more performance from the Merlin engines to help offset this extra 15% margin required from non-human-rated F9.

From all of Elon's descriptions, they've made F9 B5 both the most reliable, but also the easiest to refly/refurbish rocket.  So, although it was a massive pain in the ass to work with NASA and the Air Force to get to B5, SpaceX should in theory have a crazy good vehicle for their commercial launches as well.

The thing that I'd be interested in is how Atlas V and SLS achieve their human rating.  I assume they have to provide 40% margin as well?  F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.  Atlas and SLS have fewer engines to offset a single-engine failure, so I would love to know how they pass the NASA human certification.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Lars-J on 05/11/2018 06:01 AM
40% margin is the typical human rating standard, it is nothing new. Yes, presumably ULA has gone through the same for Atlas V and dual engine Centaur.

As far as making B5 the most reliable rocket - well, it has to be demonstrated first. :)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/11/2018 01:13 PM
40% margin is not a requirement
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Robotbeat on 05/11/2018 01:25 PM
Correct. I don’t think Atlas is designed to those factor of safety specs. But that obviously doesn’t mean Atlas V isn’t reliable.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AS-503 on 05/11/2018 01:40 PM
40% margin is not a requirement

Jim, I thought 1.4 structure margins were a requirement for manned rating.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/11/2018 02:34 PM
40% margin is not a requirement

Jim, I thought 1.4 structure margins were a requirement for manned rating.

You are showing requirements for pressurized vessels and not structures.

Also, I don't think CCP is under contract for that document.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/11/2018 02:36 PM
F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.  Atlas and SLS have fewer engines to offset a single-engine failure, so I would love to know how they pass the NASA human certification.

There is no requirement for engine redundancy.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AS-503 on 05/11/2018 02:46 PM
40% margin is not a requirement

Jim, I thought 1.4 structure margins were a requirement for manned rating.

You are showing requirements for pressurized vessels and not structures.

The second item in the table is "Metallic Propellant Tanks that are Pressurized Structures".
Doesn't this make up virtually the entire vehicle (booster and upper stage)?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/11/2018 02:47 PM
F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.

No, it can't.  It flies 60-70% of the flight on one engine
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: lonestriker on 05/11/2018 03:03 PM
F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.

No, it can't.  It flies 60-70% of the flight on one engine

Touché :-). That was more likely me just misquoting Musk. I think he said booster phase actually.

He did pivot from his 40% margin on stress on the vehicle rambling into the weight and engine reliability info. What is generally covered by the "40% margin" for human rating that Elon was talking about?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jakusb on 05/11/2018 03:14 PM
F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.

No, it can't.  It flies 60-70% of the flight on one engine

Depends on what is defined as Mission....
I guess Elon's remark is relevant for the payload's mission... Not so much the booster's mission of returning in one piece... ;)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: abaddon on 05/11/2018 03:21 PM
Depends on what is defined as Mission....
I guess Elon's remark is relevant for the payload's mission... Not so much the booster's mission of returning in one piece... ;)
Jim is referring to the second stage, which has only one engine and is obviously mission critical.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: matthewkantar on 05/11/2018 03:39 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/11/2018 03:42 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew

Multiplying the first stage firing time by the number of engines is completely irrelevant.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/11/2018 03:57 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew

wrong, total engine run time is meaningless, especially in light of quotes like this:

F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: hkultala on 05/11/2018 04:13 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew

Multiplying the first stage firing time by the number of engines is completely irrelevant.

No, it's not.

Assuming each engine failure probability of X per second, and this is the same for both stage engines.

The first stage burns something like 130 seconds during ascend on recoverable mode. Probability of at least one engine failing during ascend is about 1 - ((1-X)^ (130*9)).

The second stage burns about 360 seconds. Probability of failing during the first stage ascend is about 1 - ((1-X)^360).

Probability of failure in either is about 1- ((1-X)^(360+130*9)

Lets use value 0.00001 for X and then calculate some numbers. Then the probability of first stage engine failure is about 0.011 , 1.1 %, the probability of second stage failure is about 0.0036 , 0.36 %, and probability of failure in either is
0.0152, about 1.52 %.

(this my 0.00001 value is in correct range as they have now launched over 50 times and had one first stage engine failure and zero second stage engine failures).

So, probability of an engine failure is many times higher during the first stage ascend than during the second stage, even though the first stage burns for shorter time. So, of all the total expected engines failures, only about 0.0036 / 0.015 = 23% are expected to be second stage engine failures which means LOM.

edit:

But the most relevant comparison is to hypothetical similar launcher with just single first stage engine, and compare the LOM rates.

Then with the same 0.00001/second failure rate the total engine failure rate would only be 0.0049, but these would all result a LOM.

So multiple small engines with engine-out capability drops the LOM rate (of engine fail) only slightly, from 0.0049 to 0.0036 with this 0.00001/second reliability, compared to one big engine.

But compared to "few quite big engines without engine-out" (like proton or antares), the many small + engine out gives much better expected reliability.


Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Rabidpanda on 05/11/2018 04:25 PM
The 40% number sounds like a pretty clear reference to structural margin. I’m guessing that on previous versions of F9 the majority of the structure was designed to something like 1.25 ultimate FoS. And now for human rating they are designing to 1.4 ultimate FoS. Of course, this would not necessarily apply to all types of structure, because different types of structure/components have different margin requirements.

As for any kind of fault tolerance / reliability requirements (which engine-out would fall under) that would be completely different from a 40% structural margin.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: matthewkantar on 05/11/2018 04:54 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew

wrong, total engine run time is meaningless, especially in light of quotes like this:

F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.

Wrong
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: chrisking0997 on 05/11/2018 04:55 PM
Is there some reason we (well, not we but...) are not taking the "engine out" quote to obviously refer to first stage flight only?   I get that the second half of the quote says "the mission", but I dont see how anyone could misinterpret that to mean that second stage engine failure is somehow going to be mitigated by any of the engines of a first stage that has been or will be shortly staged.  I suppose wording matters, but if thats the only point here I think we get it
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Comga on 05/11/2018 05:00 PM
Of the non-technical details I liked this:
Quote
This is arguably Falcon 9 version 6, in sort of normal vernacular. Because we had version one, version 1.1 which was really like version 2, arguably a version in between that, and then a bunch of blocks. So we should probably just go back, I'm sure the internet's already done this, and have a more sensible description of the versioning. But think of it as like, at least version 6 of the rocket.

Sounds like Musk is assigning us, as representatives of the internet, with redoing the "versioning"
"F9.6" anyone?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Comga on 05/11/2018 05:13 PM
Active water cooling of the base heat shield during reentry?!

Yeah that was perhaps the biggest surprise. But cool!  8)

Quote
But the reason I picked the heat shield, it's also a big improvement. And we replaced the old composite structure with a high- temperature titanium structure to support rapid reuse. The base heat shield will also somewhat actively cooled with water. So we're finding things some things are really just, during the very high-energy phases of re-entry, ascent does not require them, but during the high-energy phases of re-entry, where you have a hypersonic shock-shock impingement, it generates a very hot spot, and you kind of have to use a high-melting point material, a high-temperature material, plus active water cooling in certain places on the base of the heat shield.

This seems a non-trivial addition of subsystems and mass.  The first stage would have to have a water reservoir and plumbing to circulate it to the hot structure.  Really hope the details show up some day in an updated illustration of the Falcon 9.  It further demonstrates SpaceX's prioritization of reuse, and ultimately cost reduction, over payload maximization.

It could indicate what had to be done to the earlier block first stages to refly them.  Perhaps replacing the composite structure that got cooked.

edit: Although I wonder what Musk meant by "somewhat actively cooled".  What qualifies as semi-active water cooling?  Perhaps the water reservoir is in contact with the heat shield, and it just boils away through a vent without circulating.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Prettz on 05/11/2018 06:13 PM
The 40% number sounds like a pretty clear reference to structural margin. I’m guessing that on previous versions of F9 the majority of the structure was designed to something like 1.25 ultimate FoS. And now for human rating they are designing to 1.4 ultimate FoS. Of course, this would not necessarily apply to all types of structure, because different types of structure/components have different margin requirements.

As for any kind of fault tolerance / reliability requirements (which engine-out would fall under) that would be completely different from a 40% structural margin.
No, SpaceX has always talked about how F9 is designed for 40% safety margin (or whatever term they used, I can't remember) rather than the "standard" 25%. That's not new.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Jim on 05/11/2018 06:33 PM
There are about 1400 seconds of engine run time covered by engine out capability, 600 seconds or less not covered. So 60-70% is in error. Also compare to competitors who offer exactly zero seconds of engine out coverage.

Matthew

wrong, total engine run time is meaningless, especially in light of quotes like this:

F9 can take a single engine out at any time in the mission and still complete the mission.

Wrong

Just stop with the misinformation
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/11/2018 06:58 PM
edit: Although I wonder what Musk meant by "somewhat actively cooled".  What qualifies as semi-active water cooling?  Perhaps the water reservoir is in contact with the heat shield, and it just boils away through a vent without circulating.

Sounds to me like "in some part" instead of "somewhat".  The audio is pretty bad.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: biosehnsucht on 05/11/2018 07:00 PM
I feel like we've pulled a Bill Clinton and started arguing the definition of "is" is.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: IainMcClatchie on 05/11/2018 07:03 PM
Although I wonder what Musk meant by "somewhat actively cooled".  What qualifies as semi-active water cooling?  Perhaps the water reservoir is in contact with the heat shield, and it just boils away through a vent without circulating.

That's my guess.  The cooling is needed while under deceleration.  The titanium should be good for 300 to 400 degrees C, so my guess is that they have a high pressure vent (8 to 10 MPa).  I'd plumb that vent so that the steam goes back down to the bottom of the vehicle and flows over whatever surface they've seen getting the most heat damage.  If you get the water fairly hot before you release steam, you can get a lot of volume to inject into that boundary layer.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: gongora on 05/11/2018 08:00 PM
Another transcript is available on the CNBC site (the full pdf is below a bunch of quotes).  Of course it's probably 95% the same as the transcript we already had, but a few words differ here and there.  (I actually ran into one sentence where each of the transcripts was missing a word that was contained in the other one, so neither of them 100% matches the audio.)

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/11/full-elon-musk-transcript-about-spacex-falcon-9-block-5.html
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 05/11/2018 08:10 PM
Think it might just be warm air ducted out off the TE that keeps the frost off of the SpaceX logo?
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: zhangmdev on 05/11/2018 08:25 PM
The inside of legs is painted white. That is new.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: biosehnsucht on 05/11/2018 08:36 PM
I assumed the semi-active water cooling would just be having a resevoir of coolant and pumping it around the hot spots and less hot spots to spread the heat load out. I doubt they're spraying water out... seems unlikely to be effective. The fins themselves clearly don't need it.

edit: might not even need pumping if you essentially used giant heat pipes ... though I'm not sure if the physics holds up at scale for that to work, and if they'd be overly problematic in a rocket launch noise/vibration environment ...
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: ZachS09 on 05/11/2018 09:13 PM
The inside of legs is painted white. That is new.

Several Block 3/4 boosters had their landing leg interiors painted white.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: Kabloona on 05/12/2018 01:39 AM
40% margin is not a requirement

Jim, I thought 1.4 structure margins were a requirement for manned rating.

You are showing requirements for pressurized vessels and not structures.

Also, I don't think CCP is under contract for that document.

FS = 1.4 is definitely required for structure in that same document, JSC-65828 para 3.3.1.2.

How could CCP not be requiring structural margins of 1.4 for their own astros? It was definitely a requirement for Shuttle. When we had a payload on Shuttle, all our ASE structure was required to have FS = 1.4, and the safety reviews at JSC were brutal. I wasn't even a structural engineer, and that requirement got burned into my brain from seeing the grilling the structures guys got.

Also, Elon just cited the 1.4 requirement in his latest telecon. I can't imagine he was talking only about pressure vessels. And F9 was designed from the get-go to be human-rated. I'd be astonished if they weren't already at 1.4 for structure.



Update: Here's Elon's direct quote from his recent telecon. He's definitely talking about FS = 1.4 on structure:

Quote
Elon Musk: Man. There are 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of requirements. [???] for even advanced rocket people to know what I'm talking about. So think of, so a human-rated rocket has to have high-end margins of safety in the structural -- [audio cut for 4s] -- vehicle, like a typical rule of thumb would be, for launching a satellite, you need to design the rocket to 25% margins, like essentially, take your worst-case flight load, worst possible scenario that the rocket would encounter, and then add 25% to that, the rocket has to be designed 25% above the worst-case load, for the case of a satellite launcher. For a human-rated launcher, it has to be designed to 40% of the worst-case load.
(bolding mine)

https://gist.github.com/theinternetftw/5ba82bd5f4099934fa0556b9d09c123e

(thanks to user theinternetFTW for the transcript)
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: su27k on 05/12/2018 05:40 AM
I believe the FS=1.4 was in an old standard back in 2006 or so, the requirement was removed later because Ares I couldn't meet it. You can find tons of discussion in old Constellation threads, for example this one: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=14408.msg317674#msg317674

Also:

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=9460.660

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21269.520

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=18311.msg499472#msg499472

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13959.msg306503#msg306503

It looks like FS=1.4 was used to exclude EELV from Constellation, this was happening when F9 was first designed, so it's not surprising that the requirement was included in F9's initial design. But it would be interesting if Block 5 still adhere to this standard, since it's no longer strictly required, and it must have no-small amount of performance penalty.
Title: Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
Post by: AncientU on 05/12/2018 11:27 AM
I believe the FS=1.4 was in an old standard back in 2006 or so, the requirement was removed later because Ares I couldn't meet it. You can find tons of discussion in old Constellation threads, for example this one: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=14408.msg317674#msg317674

Also:

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=9460.660

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21269.520

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=18311.msg499472#msg499472

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13959.msg306503#msg306503

It looks like FS=1.4 was used to exclude EELV from Constellation, this was happening when F9 was first designed, so it's not surprising that the requirement was included in F9's initial design. But it would be interesting if Block 5 still adhere to this standard, since it's no longer strictly required, and it must have no-small amount of performance penalty.

Are you sure it isn't being 'imposed' on SpaceX by NASA -- that is the functional equivalent of '