Author Topic: SpaceX Vandenberg SFB facilities (was VAFB)  (Read 79886 times)

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #20 on: 06/19/2019 06:56 pm »
But I think EELV Phase 2 LSP requires launch capability from VAFB? So if they want to win LSP they can't just abandon it.

Go show me where exactly in EELV Phase 2 RFP does it say "Thou shalt launch from VABF".

Instructions to Offerors:
Quote
. The Offeror shall address the characteristics of its launch system infrastructure, including a
description of both the East and West coast launch sites, that meet or exceed NSS
requirements in the SPRD Rev B, paragraphs 3.2.7 Payload Orientation, 3.2.9 Launch Rate,
3.2.11 Basing, and 3.3.2 Protection of NSS Payload requirements.

Quote
6.4.2.3 Category A/B System Western Range Schedule Assessment
In a narrative, the Offeror shall provide a summary of its Category A/B system LSMAP schedule
assessment for launch capability for a mission with an ILC of 1 August 2025 from Vandenberg
Air Force Base (AFB)

Quote
6.5.1.2 Category C Polar 2
The following information is provided as context for addressing the specific requirements in the
following subparagraphs. This mission is a Category C Polar 2 mission launched from the
Western Range.

Quote
6.5.2.3 Category C System Western Range Schedule Assessment
In a narrative, the Offeror shall provide a summary of its Category C system LSMAP schedule
assessment for a launch capability from Vandenberg AFB. The Offeror shall describe the
primary drivers for the assessment. The Offeror shall describe its plan to meet an ILC of 1
September 2025 from Vandenberg AFB.

Evaluation Criteria:
Quote
6.4.2.3 Category A/B System Western Range Schedule Assessment
The Government will consider the LSMAP schedule assessment and evaluate whether, and the
extent to which, the Offeror’s plan to complete NRDV activities to meet the ILC requirements
for a mission with an ILC of 1 August 2025 from Vandenberg AFB is technically sound.

Quote
6.5.2.3 Category C System Western Range Schedule Assessment
The Government will consider the LSMAP schedule assessment and evaluate whether, and the
extent to which, the Offeror’s plan to complete NRDV activities for a mission with an ILC of 1
September 2025 from Vandenberg AFB is technically sound.

None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Offline dglow

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #21 on: 06/19/2019 07:08 pm »
None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Unless the AF decides you won't be flying their C-class missions because you refuse to do so out of Vandy.

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #22 on: 06/19/2019 07:15 pm »
None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Unless the AF decides you won't be flying their C-class missions because you refuse to do so out of Vandy.

Then USAF has to justify to Congress why they are wasting half a billion taxpayer dollars on dedicated infrastructure at VAFB when USAF can get the exact same capabilities at the Cape for free.

Offline Wudizzle

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #23 on: 06/19/2019 07:32 pm »
None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Unless the AF decides you won't be flying their C-class missions because you refuse to do so out of Vandy.

Then USAF has to justify to Congress why they are wasting half a billion taxpayer dollars on dedicated infrastructure at VAFB when USAF can get the exact same capabilities at the Cape for free.

I'm a big fan of saving taxpayer money and a big fan of SpaceX. However, convincing me that the USAF should maintain multiple launch sites with these capabilities is not a difficult task.

Online rockets4life97

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #24 on: 06/19/2019 08:15 pm »
I'm a big fan of saving taxpayer money and a big fan of SpaceX. However, convincing me that the USAF should maintain multiple launch sites with these capabilities is not a difficult task.

You have multiple launch sites if you have multiple providers. Given how long it takes to procure these birds, I think any launch provider, could build a new pad faster if needed than the payload could be built.

Offline dglow

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #25 on: 06/19/2019 08:28 pm »
None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Unless the AF decides you won't be flying their C-class missions because you refuse to do so out of Vandy.

Then USAF has to justify to Congress why they are wasting half a billion taxpayer dollars on dedicated infrastructure at VAFB when USAF can get the exact same capabilities at the Cape for free.

With all due respect you may have it backwards. It's the USAF that would have to justify to Congress why NSS launches should abandon VAFB. You know, 'calling into question the existence of a vital military base' and whatnot. Perhaps we're both right – let's call it two sides of the same (Federal) coin.

It may well be the polar launches migrate to the Cape, in time. But one reason Vandy is currently specified in the Phase 2 RFP is to avoid the political shitestorm which would result if it wasn't.

Offline vaporcobra

Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #26 on: 06/19/2019 09:00 pm »
Could this be because of high inclinations being doable at Eastern Range using autonomous flight termination?
Or possibly extra performance available from FH means it's cheaper to reuse three boosters of FH and do a dogleg than pay ongoing fixed costs to maintain a presence at Vandy?

Good thinking. I suggest you continue in this line-of-thought. What would be the ramifications if FH performance is so good that doglegging makes a presence at Vandy pretty much pointless?

I suggest you look further than just 'No Vandy'.

It appears that I need to clarify: SpaceX is not abandoning Vandenberg. I presume they will continue to lease their facilities and have a skeleton crew keep things more or less at launch readiness, leaving maybe a few weeks of reactivation work.

Given that the 2020 manifest is no more than three launches (perhaps even less if Sentinel 6A or SARah 1 slip a few months), this actually makes a decent amount of sense. Those 1-3 2020 launches can probably be done by flying the launch team out from Florida (remember, some portion of VAFB employees are definitely transferring to TX/FL). If need be, SpaceX could probably start repopulating its VAFB team maybe 3-4 months before the busy 2021 manifest kicks off.

If a good portion of the Vandy crew has been able to transfer to other facilities, the brain-drain should be minimal and SpaceX will likely save a lot of money (more along the lines of spending optimization, but still) over the next 12-18 months. Remains to be seen what the proportion of transfers to layoffs is; we'll find out via CA's WARN Act if more than 50 employees are impacted. AFAIK, the VAFB team was already extremely compact (perhaps as few as 50-75 people total), so we may not get a WARN notification. Either way, this minor reorganization just isn't a big deal and should have a near-zero impact on SpaceX's manifest and capabilities.

Edit: Source got back to me. Looks like SpaceX SLC-4 peaked at about 80 employees and has/had an annual operational budget of ~$15-20M. Assuming 50% can transfer to FL, SpaceX could effectively grow its East Coast launch workforce by 10% with minimal expenditure.
« Last Edit: 06/19/2019 09:14 pm by vaporcobra »

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #27 on: 06/20/2019 01:13 am »
None of which are at all relevant if the same capabilities are available to the same orbit out of the Cape.

Unless the AF decides you won't be flying their C-class missions because you refuse to do so out of Vandy.

Then USAF has to justify to Congress why they are wasting half a billion taxpayer dollars on dedicated infrastructure at VAFB when USAF can get the exact same capabilities at the Cape for free.

With all due respect you may have it backwards. It's the USAF that would have to justify to Congress why NSS launches should abandon VAFB. You know, 'calling into question the existence of a vital military base' and whatnot. Perhaps we're both right – let's call it two sides of the same (Federal) coin.

It may well be the polar launches migrate to the Cape, in time. But one reason Vandy is currently specified in the Phase 2 RFP is to avoid the political shitestorm which would result if it wasn't.

Not paying to add a new second redundant set of (at best rarely used and potentially never used) VI capabilities at Vandy is hardly the same as abandoning the base altogether. ULA can already launch there with VI, as can SpaceX with non-VI payloads.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #28 on: 06/20/2019 02:34 am »
VAFB is absolutely necessary for missile test launches, etc.  Legacy launch providers (Delta, Atlas Centaur) have long had to deal with the relatively low orbital launch rate to polar orbits from there.  I believe that most have often ended up with skeleton crews that are augmented with East Coast people for launches.  SpaceX will likely do the same, now that Iridium Next is up. 

Maybe polar orbit is possible from the Cape (it has after all been done before; but Cuba, remember), but there will still be orbits (retrograde) that cannot be reached from Florida.  No way will the Pentagon let that capability go, IMO.

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 06/20/2019 02:55 am by edkyle99 »

Offline vaporcobra

Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #29 on: 06/20/2019 03:02 am »
Legacy launch providers (Delta, Atlas Centaur) have long had to deal with the relatively low orbital launch rate to polar orbits from there.  I believe that most have often ended up with skeleton crews that are augmented with East Coast people for launches.  SpaceX will likely do the same, now that Iridium Next is up. 

 - Ed Kyle

Yeah, exactly. I believe this was always a possibility if manifest gaps appeared, given that SpaceX basically had a skeleton crew augmented by Cape workers after initial construction and prior to 2015/2016. They hired dozens of people around that time to prepare for the possible surplus of launches that were lining up on the manifest, which did turn out to be a very busy ~24 months. Almost a third (12/39) of SpaceX's 2017/2018 launches were from VAFB.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2019 03:03 am by vaporcobra »

Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #30 on: 06/20/2019 09:41 am »
Could this be because of high inclinations being doable at Eastern Range using autonomous flight termination?
Or possibly extra performance available from FH means it's cheaper to reuse three boosters of FH and do a dogleg than pay ongoing fixed costs to maintain a presence at Vandy?

Good thinking. I suggest you continue in this line-of-thought. What would be the ramifications if FH performance is so good that doglegging makes a presence at Vandy pretty much pointless?

I suggest you look further than just 'No Vandy'.

It appears that I need to clarify: SpaceX is not abandoning Vandenberg.

That is a fact. I also know that SpaceX has been actively brainstorming over what to do with their presence at Vandy during prolonged low flight-rate periods. One of the ideas that surfaced from those brainstorming sessions was to get out of Vandy completely. Courtesy of the recent dog-leg corridor being opened up at KSC. They worked out that basic idea a little further to see what other cost-savings could be achieved by abandoning VABF.

I'm curious as to how much the folks here would be able to come up with similar results, simply by thinking the idea thru. So far I've seen none.
« Last Edit: 06/20/2019 09:42 am by woods170 »

Offline hamerad

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #31 on: 06/20/2019 11:03 am »

That is a fact. I also know that SpaceX has been actively brainstorming over what to do with their presence at Vandy during prolonged low flight-rate periods. One of the ideas that surfaced from those brainstorming sessions was to get out of Vandy completely. Courtesy of the recent dog-leg corridor being opened up at KSC. They worked out that basic idea a little further to see what other cost-savings could be achieved by abandoning VABF.

I'm curious as to how much the folks here would be able to come up with similar results, simply by thinking the idea thru. So far I've seen none.
Thinking on it, all i could get was
- they could move the ASDS over to east coast and perhaps not need to build a 3rd
- lose the inefficiency of sending stuff east to Texas and then back west.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #32 on: 06/20/2019 11:16 am »
I also thought maybe they could transfer some of the GSE from Vandy to Boca to jump-start its use for F9, but it wasn't obvious that the GSE could actually be moved.  Can you ship a TE and supercooling facilities across the country?

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #33 on: 06/20/2019 12:28 pm »
That is a fact. I also know that SpaceX has been actively brainstorming over what to do with their presence at Vandy during prolonged low flight-rate periods. One of the ideas that surfaced from those brainstorming sessions was to get out of Vandy completely. Courtesy of the recent dog-leg corridor being opened up at KSC. They worked out that basic idea a little further to see what other cost-savings could be achieved by abandoning VABF.

I'm curious as to how much the folks here would be able to come up with similar results, simply by thinking the idea thru. So far I've seen none.

I'm just a bit skeptical of the polar flights from Florida until I see one actually get through the licensing process and fly.

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #34 on: 06/20/2019 12:32 pm »
Thinking on it, all i could get was
- they could move the ASDS over to east coast and perhaps not need to build a 3rd
- lose the inefficiency of sending stuff east to Texas and then back west.

VAFB is only 25% farther than KSC from McGregor.

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #35 on: 06/20/2019 12:34 pm »
I also thought maybe they could transfer some of the GSE from Vandy to Boca to jump-start its use for F9, but it wasn't obvious that the GSE could actually be moved.  Can you ship a TE and supercooling facilities across the country?

What makes you think they're ever going to fly F9 from Boca Chica?

Offline ZachS09

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #36 on: 06/20/2019 03:02 pm »
I also thought maybe they could transfer some of the GSE from Vandy to Boca to jump-start its use for F9, but it wasn't obvious that the GSE could actually be moved.  Can you ship a TE and supercooling facilities across the country?

What makes you think they're ever going to fly F9 from Boca Chica?

They cancelled that proposal way back when (I don't know the exact year). I'm under the assumption that only Starhopper will be used at Boca Chica.
Liftoff for St. Jude's! Go Dragon, Go Falcon, Godspeed Inspiration4!

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #37 on: 06/20/2019 03:07 pm »
VAFB is absolutely necessary for missile test launches, etc.  Legacy launch providers (Delta, Atlas Centaur) have long had to deal with the relatively low orbital launch rate to polar orbits from there.  I believe that most have often ended up with skeleton crews that are augmented with East Coast people for launches.  SpaceX will likely do the same, now that Iridium Next is up. 

Maybe polar orbit is possible from the Cape (it has after all been done before; but Cuba, remember), but there will still be orbits (retrograde) that cannot be reached from Florida.  No way will the Pentagon let that capability go, IMO.

 - Ed Kyle

Starship with refueling will likely be able to launch retrograde from the Cape even without overflying Cuba on ascent. It might be expensive to do so, but possibly less so than building and maintaining VI and/or a Starship pad at VAFB.

Offline vaporcobra

Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #38 on: 06/21/2019 12:55 am »
That is a fact. I also know that SpaceX has been actively brainstorming over what to do with their presence at Vandy during prolonged low flight-rate periods. One of the ideas that surfaced from those brainstorming sessions was to get out of Vandy completely. Courtesy of the recent dog-leg corridor being opened up at KSC. They worked out that basic idea a little further to see what other cost-savings could be achieved by abandoning VABF.

I'm curious as to how much the folks here would be able to come up with similar results, simply by thinking the idea thru. So far I've seen none.

I'm just a bit skeptical of the polar flights from Florida until I see one actually get through the licensing process and fly.

To be fair, if that is actually something SpaceX is trying to do, they'll have a solid year and half to work that issue before it really matters. Given the soon-to-be-pressing need for capacity for Starlink launches, SpaceX can probably reap the benefits immediately (assuming they aren't laying off all Vandy staff) regardless of whether they continue leasing SLC-4. I'm not sure about the cost of the SLC-4 lease but I would estimate that it's less than 10-15% of the total cost of SpaceX's Vandy operations.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX VAFB facilities
« Reply #39 on: 06/24/2019 01:22 am »
I also thought maybe they could transfer some of the GSE from Vandy to Boca to jump-start its use for F9, but it wasn't obvious that the GSE could actually be moved.  Can you ship a TE and supercooling facilities across the country?

What makes you think they're ever going to fly F9 from Boca Chica?
Just trying to follow woods170's lead on "They worked out that basic idea a little further to see what other cost-savings could be achieved by abandoning VABF." If they didn't need that stuff at VABF any more, what other use could it be put to?

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