Poll

Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?

New Glenn
1 (1.3%)
Starship
39 (52%)
Vulcan
31 (41.3%)
Zhuque-2
4 (5.3%)
other
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 75

Voting closed: 03/21/2021 06:36 pm


Author Topic: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?  (Read 18726 times)

Offline PM3

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Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« on: 02/19/2021 06:36 pm »
(Options are ordered alphabetically.)

For Starship, Vulcan and Zhuque-2, it has been confirmed recently that a first orbital launch is targeted in late 2021. The New Glenn website even claims that it will "launch payloads ... beginning in 2021", which of course is outdated.

So, which one will successfully launch first and reach orbit?
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Offline sdsds

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #1 on: 02/20/2021 03:10 am »
I voted for the one with propulsion that has flight history, not just time on a test stand.
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Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #2 on: 02/20/2021 07:39 am »
For some reason I feel that the real dark horses out there are the two Chinese private (?) LSPs that went for metha-LOX, Landspace's ZQ-2 & i Space's Hyperbola-2. They seems to be dead set on flying something up really soon with their progresses and I start to feel that there's some decent (if low) chance of an ironic twist that it would be either of them that flies the first CH4 rocket engine to orbit.

Just saying.
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Offline jongoff

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #3 on: 02/24/2021 04:45 am »
I don't know enough about where the Chinese launchers are in their development process, but I voted Vulcan. ULA could still run into delays, especially with BE-4 and their first customer's vehicle, but I think they're still likely to beat Starship/Superheavy to orbit. SpaceX still has a long way to go, even for a fully-expendable Starship/Superheavy launch system, let alone for a fully reusable one. I still expect them to get there, so long as they can keep raising money long enough, but I think the odds of a first orbital flight this year are low.

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Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #4 on: 02/24/2021 03:58 pm »
i don't really like the premise of this poll, as it artificially places emphasis on just reaching orbit.  What really is the significance of that?  The "competitors" in this construed contest are not following the same goals.  It reminds me of the internet spat when Jeff Bezos welcomed Musk to the "club" when F9 returned & landed safely shortly after New Shepard had accomplished the "same" feat.  They similarities were just superficial to the challenges overcome by each team.

The Chinese launchers look to be a "minimum viable product", so I wouldn't be surprised if they get their first.  Vulcan is not just trying to get to orbit, but also trying to get the vehicle qualified for government payloads by the third launch.  SS/SH & New Glenn are going for differing levels of reuse.  These teams are all running different races tied to their own goals.  I don't really care who makes it first, it is more interesting how they do against their goals. 

Voted for Vulcan, hope I'm right as long as it happens in 2021.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #5 on: 02/24/2021 04:15 pm »
Reaching orbit is obviously the most important milestone because it's the point at which the company can serve paying customers.

Offline sdsds

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #6 on: 03/09/2021 11:10 pm »
Reaching orbit is obviously the most important milestone because it's the point at which the company can serve paying customers.

Except there's a distinct possibility one of the launchers could reach orbit without having the ability to deploy a payload. (An early Starship prototype.) SpaceX isn't rushing to develop and offer to customers another partially reusable launch system: they already operate the world leader in that category. SpaceX is rushing to demonstrate the ability to reach LEO with a launch system where all the propulsive elements can return to Earth for reuse. SpaceX is rushing to demonstrate (to themselves, to the world, etc.) the ability to transfer meaningful amounts of cryogenic propellant in LEO, enabling stupendous beyond-LEO mission capability.

So if the poll had asked, "Which methalox launcher will deploy a payload in orbit first?" I would have answered Vulcan....
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Offline PM3

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #7 on: 04/04/2021 11:29 am »
Nice! 52% voted for Starship, 41% for Vulcan, 5% for Zhuque-2. And New Glenn officially slipped to NET late 2022 during this poll.

I think that this is a reasonable result. Especially considering payload readiness for Vulcan, which is tending towards 2022.
"Never, never be afraid of the truth." -- Jim Bridenstine

Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #8 on: 05/03/2022 10:16 am »
There is now a NOTAM for the least-voted option in this poll (Zhuque-2), which incidentally I voted for over a year ago:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=56295.msg2365629;boardseen#new

Even if the launch might slip, or more ominously fail suborbitally, this still shows a large disconnect between the poll results and reality.
-DaviD-

Offline jimothytones

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #9 on: 05/11/2022 09:53 pm »
without any supporting evidence in hand, i'd like to also place myself on the record as having voted for Zhuque-2 if all goes to plan i'll expect my medal to arrive in 3-6 weeks 😎

Offline PM3

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #10 on: 07/26/2022 08:41 am »
I missed Relativity's Terran 1, another methalox rocket that is announced to launch in 2022.

Zhuque-2 seems to be in the pole position, as Starship's first "orbital" launch will not quite go orbital for safety reasons. Terran 1 and Vulcan could slip to 2023.
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Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #11 on: 08/23/2022 07:22 pm »
At this point in time, which methalox engines have
- the longest test stand burn time
- the longest duration flight time
- the highest altitude in flight

I'm going to assume Raptor can claim the second and third of these, does it also get the first?
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Offline AmigaClone

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #12 on: 08/23/2022 08:04 pm »
At this point in time, which methalox engines have
- the longest test stand burn time
- the longest duration flight time
- the highest altitude in flight

I'm going to assume Raptor can claim the second and third of these, does it also get the first?

I suspect that Raptor likely is the winner of the total burn time of all methalox engine tests. Granted there have been more 'production' or 'flight ready' Raptor engines produced than any other model

Which of the various engines has the engine with the longest single test burn is a big question mark.

As far as I know no other methalox engine have flown under their own power.

Online whitelancer64

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #13 on: 08/23/2022 08:31 pm »
At this point in time, which methalox engines have
- the longest test stand burn time
- the longest duration flight time
- the highest altitude in flight

I'm going to assume Raptor can claim the second and third of these, does it also get the first?

I suspect that Raptor likely is the winner of the total burn time of all methalox engine tests. Granted there have been more 'production' or 'flight ready' Raptor engines produced than any other model

Which of the various engines has the engine with the longest single test burn is a big question mark.

As far as I know no other methalox engine have flown under their own power.

There is the HD5, which powered Project Morpheus flights in 2013-14.
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Online niwax

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #14 on: 08/23/2022 08:49 pm »
At this point in time, which methalox engines have
- the longest test stand burn time
- the longest duration flight time
- the highest altitude in flight

I'm going to assume Raptor can claim the second and third of these, does it also get the first?

I suspect that Raptor likely is the winner of the total burn time of all methalox engine tests. Granted there have been more 'production' or 'flight ready' Raptor engines produced than any other model

Which of the various engines has the engine with the longest single test burn is a big question mark.

As far as I know no other methalox engine have flown under their own power.

There is the HD5, which powered Project Morpheus flights in 2013-14.

If we just assume a minute-long firing of every Raptor produced, we're in the tens of thousands of seconds. It's hard to compete when any testing done on Raptor is magnified a hundred times.
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Online whitelancer64

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #15 on: 08/23/2022 10:48 pm »
At this point in time, which methalox engines have
- the longest test stand burn time
- the longest duration flight time
- the highest altitude in flight

I'm going to assume Raptor can claim the second and third of these, does it also get the first?

I suspect that Raptor likely is the winner of the total burn time of all methalox engine tests. Granted there have been more 'production' or 'flight ready' Raptor engines produced than any other model

Which of the various engines has the engine with the longest single test burn is a big question mark.

As far as I know no other methalox engine have flown under their own power.

There is the HD5, which powered Project Morpheus flights in 2013-14.

If we just assume a minute-long firing of every Raptor produced, we're in the tens of thousands of seconds. It's hard to compete when any testing done on Raptor is magnified a hundred times.

A McGregor noise ordinance limits acceptance test fires to less than 15 seconds.
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Offline Tywin

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Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #17 on: 12/05/2022 10:50 am »
There is now a NOTAM for the least-voted option in this poll (Zhuque-2), which incidentally I voted for over a year ago:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=56295.msg2365629;boardseen#new

Even if the launch might slip, or more ominously fail suborbitally, this still shows a large disconnect between the poll results and reality.

We've been here before, but this time it seems more real:

https://twitter.com/Harry__Stranger/status/1599698347194925057
-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #18 on: 12/14/2022 08:43 am »
First methalox orbital LV liftoff has occurred and was apparently successful through at least first stage flight (first part of this poll): Zhuque-2.

It might have been the first methalox orbital LV reaching some kind of orbit successfully (unconfirmed reports of lower-than-planned orbit, or failure to reach it altogether, TBC), which was the second part of the poll. EDIT: Short of 2 km/s to orbit, so fully failed to achieve any orbit, reaching however a maximum altitude of around 400 km.

A fully successful flight profile has not been achieved either, but this wasn't the point of the poll.

So the first methalox orbital LV has launched and flown successfully for most of its flight phases, but failed short of orbit due to post-boost vernier failure, leaving the first part of the poll decided but the latter part still up in the air (closest contender would be Terran's debut, so far NET January).
« Last Edit: 12/14/2022 12:11 pm by eeergo »
-DaviD-

Offline sdsds

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #19 on: 12/15/2022 10:23 pm »
First methalox orbital LV liftoff has occurred and was apparently successful through at least first stage flight (first part of this poll): Zhuque-2.
[...] leaving the first part of the poll decided but the latter part still up in the air (closest contender would be Terran's debut, so far NET January).

Ooh, this topic is suddenly interesting again! I wonder if it's time for a second poll on the subject, particularly with Terran 1 looking so pretty at LC-16. (Photo credit: John Kraus @johnkrausphotos@twitter.)
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Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #20 on: 03/23/2023 05:58 am »
Another methalox rocket has left the pad, Terran-1, but didn't reach orbit either, like the first to be launched (Zhuque-2), actually failing at an earlier point in the flight (SES-1 vs 3rd stage vernier flight).

On to the next attempt, which looks like will again be ZQ-2's.
-DaviD-

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #21 on: 03/23/2023 08:53 am »
Another methalox rocket has left the pad, Terran-1, but didn't reach orbit either, like the first to be launched (Zhuque-2), actually failing at an earlier point in the flight (SES-1 vs 3rd stage vernier flight).

On to the next attempt, which looks like will again be ZQ-2's.
Did Terran 1 reach space ie cross karman line.

Offline PM3

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #22 on: 03/23/2023 08:55 am »
Did Terran 1 reach space ie cross karman line.

Yes, apogee > 128 km. But that is irrelevant here, as the poll is about going orbital.  And Zhuque-2 went higher in December 2022.
« Last Edit: 03/23/2023 09:29 am by PM3 »
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Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #23 on: 03/23/2023 10:27 am »
Another methalox rocket has left the pad, Terran-1, but didn't reach orbit either, like the first to be launched (Zhuque-2), actually failing at an earlier point in the flight (SES-1 vs 3rd stage vernier flight).

On to the next attempt, which looks like will again be ZQ-2's.
Did Terran 1 reach space ie cross karman line.

As PM3 stated, Terran-1's apogee was above the Karman line, but ZQ-2's was over 3x higher (around 400 km).

Likewise, Terran-1's maximum velocity (at MECO) was around 7500 km/h, or 2 km/s, but Zhuque-2's managed a much closer velocity to orbital (around 5 km/s, or around 70% of orbital, vs Relativity's 25%).
-DaviD-

Offline eeergo

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Online TrevorMonty

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #25 on: 03/31/2023 03:53 pm »
Should Vulcan been counted as contestant as it uses hydrolox US which is only part that reaches orbit. Same can be said for NG and Stokes RLV, not that these two are really in this race.
« Last Edit: 03/31/2023 03:54 pm by TrevorMonty »

Offline c4fusion

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #26 on: 04/01/2023 05:15 am »
Having read L2 about Starship and seeing Zhuque-2 being this close, it seems like a real hot race.  I am thinking it's probably Starship launching first but the chances of reaching orbit is probably lower than Zhuque-2.  But then again, SpaceX is a mature company with the frankly incredible Falcon 9.  But then again, Starship's development was a bit more messy than expected. 

So who knows, but at least this is so far exciting and is probably going to continue to!

Offline AmigaClone

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #27 on: 04/01/2023 06:32 am »
Should Vulcan been counted as contestant as it uses hydrolox US which is only part that reaches orbit. Same can be said for NG and Stokes RLV, not that these two are really in this race.

I can see having two or more 'first methalox launcher to reach orbit'.

The options I can think of include:

1) "All stages powered by methalox".

2) At least one Methalox stage, but it would also include combinations of boosters and stages that don't use methalox.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #28 on: 04/01/2023 04:07 pm »
Should Vulcan been counted as contestant as it uses hydrolox US which is only part that reaches orbit. Same can be said for NG and Stokes RLV, not that these two are really in this race.
Likely for most launches with the Vulcan Centaur, it will have solid boosters.

As long as the core stage of a launcher is MethaLox. It should be included as a contestant, IMO.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #29 on: 04/01/2023 07:43 pm »
As long as the core stage of a launcher is MethaLox. It should be included as a contestant, IMO.
In that case, the competition is over because both ZQ-2 and Terran-1 had successful first stage burns.

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Offline c4fusion

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #30 on: 04/01/2023 11:48 pm »
As long as the core stage of a launcher is MethaLox. It should be included as a contestant, IMO.
In that case, the competition is over because both ZQ-2 and Terran-1 had successful first stage burns.

 - Ed Kyle

Which part of full orbit did they achieve?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #31 on: 04/02/2023 03:02 am »
Should Vulcan been counted as contestant as it uses hydrolox US which is only part that reaches orbit. Same can be said for NG and Stokes RLV, not that these two are really in this race.

I can see having two or more 'first methalox launcher to reach orbit'.

The options I can think of include:

1) "All stages powered by methalox".

2) At least one Methalox stage, but it would also include combinations of boosters and stages that don't use methalox.
I’d count Vulcan. I understand Ed’s point but I still think overall it should count if successful. (I also think Starship OFT should count if successful.)
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Offline laszlo

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #32 on: 04/02/2023 02:25 pm »
As long as the core stage of a launcher is MethaLox. It should be included as a contestant, IMO.
In that case, the competition is over because both ZQ-2 and Terran-1 had successful first stage burns.

 - Ed Kyle

Which part of full orbit did they achieve?

So since SS, even if successful won't achieve a full orbit on its inaugural launch, it's out of the running for now? (I know, I know, they've been granted the Yuri Gagarin Exception for Sexy First-Timers, no need to beat it to death again).

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #33 on: 04/02/2023 04:57 pm »
That’s pretty lame rhetoric. The energy of the starship OFT launch is orbital, they just don’t want to pull a Long March 5 and have a risk of a huge upper stage stuck in orbit. Being responsible with an inaugural launch is not a reason to be penalized. I think if one has 3 brain cells to rub together, one can understand why this would count.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2023 05:46 am by Robotbeat »
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Online TrevorMonty

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #34 on: 04/02/2023 06:46 pm »
That’s pretty lame rhetoric. The energy of the starship OFT launch is orbital, they just don’t want to pull a Long March 5 and have a risk of a huge upper stage stuck in orbit. Being responsible with an inaugural launch is not a reason to be penalized. I think if you have 3 brain cells to rub together, you can understand why this would count.
Why the unjustified insult? It seems out of character for you.

Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #35 on: 04/20/2023 02:43 pm »
Still uncalled, still ZQ-2 was the one reaching the furthest point in its flight (in spite of the obvious difference in scale).
-DaviD-

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #36 on: 06/09/2023 07:50 pm »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #37 on: 06/13/2023 05:46 am »
That’s pretty lame rhetoric. The energy of the starship OFT launch is orbital, they just don’t want to pull a Long March 5 and have a risk of a huge upper stage stuck in orbit. Being responsible with an inaugural launch is not a reason to be penalized. I think if you have 3 brain cells to rub together, you can understand why this would count.
Why the unjustified insult? It seems out of character for you.
Didnt mean it personally directed. Edited.
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Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #38 on: 07/12/2023 01:46 am »
The Zhuque-2 rocket has reached orbit for the first time, earning the title of being the first methalox SLV to reach orbit.

https://twitter.com/CNSpaceflight/status/1678937094494846976

Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #39 on: 07/12/2023 05:03 am »
And that's a wrap! Zhuque-2 has claimed the primacy after a close-but-no-cigar first flight that caused a sizeable delay in the feat.

I'm betting Vulcan will follow.
-DaviD-

Offline chopsticks

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #40 on: 07/12/2023 05:28 am »
Congrats China! For Zhuque, it truly does settle this topic since even if Vulcan would have made orbit, only the booster is methalox. In contrast, both stages on Zhuque were methalox.

Hopefully some decent footage will be released yet.
« Last Edit: 07/12/2023 05:29 am by chopsticks »

Offline First Mate Rummey

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Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #42 on: 07/12/2023 08:43 am »
I'm betting Vulcan will follow.

I would not bet on it after this: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/11/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-be-4-rocket-engine-explodes-during-testing.html

I would. Check out even the most pessimistic takes on this issue. Further, it's not like the other "close" contender has any shortage of engine failures.
-DaviD-

Offline rfdesigner

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #43 on: 07/12/2023 09:32 am »
I'm betting Vulcan will follow.

I would not bet on it after this: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/07/11/jeff-bezos-blue-origin-be-4-rocket-engine-explodes-during-testing.html


I would. Check out even the most pessimistic takes on this issue. Further, it's not like the other "close" contender has any shortage of engine failures.


The reason for the failures is all.

If it failed because they were doing test to death, then it's not a failure (however it failed at 10 seconds, which suggest it's not a test to death)

If it failed because they were pushing the envelope, then it's not a failure (however this was apparently a deliverable unit, you don't push the envelope on deliverables)

If it failed a production qualification test, then that is unfortunate/bad news but only if the supply of engines coming off the line is very low.  If you're making 10 a week with a delivery schedule that requires 8 per week and you blow one engine a week, that isn't bad news, that just means you have a 90% yield.

Additionally how close to reality is the production test?.. if BOs production test calls for a 10% overstress, while others only call for 5% overstress then they ought to lose fewer engines in flight than competitors.

I can't answer those last two.

My experience is with electronics.. we get production failures that don't necessarily mean bad design, or even bad manufacture, it's always a complex picture.  The biggest issue with most of these rockets is the low volume of manufacture, which means it's very hard to get good production stats i.e. I never regard any averages or standard deviations as meaningful until a bare minimum of 30 units.. ideally over 100 units.  I'm not sure how many final-spec-engines they've made (note, prototypes don't count here).  I've had one product go from 90% yield to 5% yield after 150,000 units because of batch to batch variation, we fixed that one and got a 60% yield on that batch.

My gut feel is the engine blew due to low production volume at this stage..   the question is what yield are they getting?.. do they have the capacity to overbuild to deal with that?

That answer could well be a yes, in which case the bet would still be on.

Offline Yggdrasill

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Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #44 on: 07/12/2023 11:01 am »
I'm betting Starship will be next. Next flight maybe August.

Raptor has had some troubles, but Starship only needs around 80%* of the engines to actually work. Vulcan needs 100%.

* That's even conservative, for the initial flight tests. Without payload, Starship could almost work as an SSTO. As long as Super Heavy makes it to stage separation (at some velocity and altitude), getting to (quasi-)orbit should be achievable. First flight could have made it if it hadn't lost TVC.
« Last Edit: 07/12/2023 11:27 am by Yggdrasill »

Offline eeergo

Re: Which methalox launcher will reach orbit first?
« Reply #45 on: 01/08/2024 07:56 am »
Second methalox rocket has now successfully completed its first launch - happy new year! Turns out it's Vulcan, and has performed flawlessly sending a payload to the Moon, not just any orbit. Yet again, the difference between expectations in the poll and reality is stark. Of course, ZQ-2 has also completed another successful flight in the meantime.


My bet from back in July stood strong. Not ready to rehash a new one, since the status of New Glenn is quite nebulous at this time, but I wouldn't write off the possibility of it being the next methalox to reach orbit next, given the status of BE-4 demonstrated by today's flight.
« Last Edit: 01/08/2024 07:59 am by eeergo »
-DaviD-

 

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