Author Topic: SpaceX wants NASA’s LC-49 for Starship Super Heavy launches  (Read 67431 times)

Offline TomH

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This is the general area where pads LC-39C and theoretical LC-39D and LC-39E were originally designated.

http://heroicrelics.org/info/lc-39/lc-39-abcd.html
« Last Edit: 12/16/2021 11:28 pm by TomH »

Offline LooZ

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I'm looking forward to the concept of the buildings.

If we assume that Tesla Fremont is such a "Car Factory v0.5", Nevada is v0.9, and Shangai/Texas is a 1.0/1.1, then I expect a similar leap here in terms of "machines making mach.... rockets" ;)

Like GigaTexas, but for rockets. The knowledge of SS/SH mass production itself and the organization of the work of a factory mass producing rockets must be at an absolutely incomparable level to the beginning of work in BC.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2021 12:13 am by LooZ »

Offline edzieba

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BO apparently likes pad 49, too.  Are they competing to lease that property?  Does NASA have to decide between the two? 

Stand by for more lawsuits.
They wanted it for New Armstrong, a rocket that only ever existed in name only and has been superseded by other plans.

But you are not wrong about the lawsuits.
SpaceX and BO were competing over LC-39A too (the infamous "unicorns dancing in the flame duct" comment). That was subject to a GAO protest by BO, but that was resolved in under 3 months.

Offline su27k

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- Subsequent community development has moved closer to the launch complex and greatly grown in population.

I'm not sure that's true. The closest community is still Titusville (which is bounded by the Indian River and can't get any closer to KSC), and the LC-49 site is even farther from Titusville than LC-39. This will be a major hindrance to Playalinda Beach access for the Titusville crowd, but LC-49 is pretty remote. I think the environmentalists worried about Canaveral National Seashore will be a much bigger issue.

I use to live in Cape Canaveral and drove to Playalinda several times.  That area north of 39B is very dense with wild life.  Environmental approval would be the hardest part by far.

LC-49 is part of KSC's Master Plan, which already has environmental approval in the form of KSC Center-Wide Operations Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (signed off in 2017). So building a new launch pad there is not a problem, the remaining analysis is for building a Starship launch pad and launch/landing Starship at that location.

Offline wannamoonbase

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- Subsequent community development has moved closer to the launch complex and greatly grown in population.

I'm not sure that's true. The closest community is still Titusville (which is bounded by the Indian River and can't get any closer to KSC), and the LC-49 site is even farther from Titusville than LC-39. This will be a major hindrance to Playalinda Beach access for the Titusville crowd, but LC-49 is pretty remote. I think the environmentalists worried about Canaveral National Seashore will be a much bigger issue.

I use to live in Cape Canaveral and drove to Playalinda several times.  That area north of 39B is very dense with wild life.  Environmental approval would be the hardest part by far.

LC-49 is part of KSC's Master Plan, which already has environmental approval in the form of KSC Center-Wide Operations Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (signed off in 2017). So building a new launch pad there is not a problem, the remaining analysis is for building a Starship launch pad and launch/landing Starship at that location.

That’s good to hear, I didn’t know that.  I wonder if in 2017 ever thought something like Starship would be a real thing.

It is now easy to imagine a large Starship launch complex.  146 acres is a lot of land compared to the tiny patch they are working with in BC.
Wildly optimistic prediction, Superheavy recovery on IFT-4 or IFT-5


Online quagmire

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2021/12/starship-lc-49-ksc/


https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1471868635748700168

Could HB 2 support both Starship and Super Heavy Processing? Or would Heavy need to be processed, moved to the mount, to provide room for Starship processing?

Or think they could try to wrangle HB 1 or 4 out of NASA's hands as well?

Of course this is all based on IF SpaceX is interested in using the VAB at all.
« Last Edit: 12/17/2021 03:50 pm by quagmire »

Offline wannamoonbase

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2021/12/starship-lc-49-ksc/


https://twitter.com/NASASpaceflight/status/1471868635748700168

Could HB 2 support both Starship and Super Heavy Processing? Or would Heavy need to be processed, moved to the mount, to provide room for Starship processing?

Or think they could try to wrangle HB 1 or 4 out of NASA's hands as well?

Of course this is all based on IF SpaceX is interested in using the VAB at all.

Or use the existing footings and finish HB5 and HB6, lol.

I'm interested in where the manufacturing and assembly of SS/SH would be done and then where a payload processing facility would be located.

I know nothing, but a VAB HB maybe a reasonable location for fitting out HLS or installing payloads in HLS and SS.

Given the 146 acre size of LC49, how many OLS' could fit into that area?
Wildly optimistic prediction, Superheavy recovery on IFT-4 or IFT-5

Online JayWee

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...
Of course this is all based on IF SpaceX is interested in using the VAB at all.
...
What would be the difference in cost between using VAB and building some quick-and-dirty building akin to the ones at Starbase?

Online quagmire

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Or use the existing footings and finish HB5 and HB6, lol.

I'm interested in where the manufacturing and assembly of SS/SH would be done and then where a payload processing facility would be located.

I know nothing, but a VAB HB maybe a reasonable location for fitting out HLS or installing payloads in HLS and SS.

Given the 146 acre size of LC49, how many OLS' could fit into that area?

Ha on finishing HB 5 and 6.

I would imagine SpaceX would only be interested in the VAB for 39A flow/ops. Maybe have 39A be the crew Starship pad where LC-49 are the cargo/refueling Starships. This due to the infrastructure to get SS/SH to 39A is already there in the crawlers and crawlerway with the obvious need to move them the final feet due to the HIF in the way.

They would probably build independent processing facilities for LC-49 unless they want to finish the crawlerway as well meant for the OG 39C.... ;) :P

Online Thorny

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However all community developments other than the LC-49 pad itself is effectively stop in that area and remain undeveloped probably until the Kennedy Space Center is retired. The environmentalists should be overjoyed at that possible outcome without having to do anything themselves.

We already saw some environmentalists raising concern when Space Florida talked about building a launch site at Shiloh at the north end of Merritt Island.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Or use the existing footings and finish HB5 and HB6, lol.

I'm interested in where the manufacturing and assembly of SS/SH would be done and then where a payload processing facility would be located.

I know nothing, but a VAB HB maybe a reasonable location for fitting out HLS or installing payloads in HLS and SS.

Given the 146 acre size of LC49, how many OLS' could fit into that area?

Ha on finishing HB 5 and 6.

I would imagine SpaceX would only be interested in the VAB for 39A flow/ops. Maybe have 39A be the crew Starship pad where LC-49 are the cargo/refueling Starships. This due to the infrastructure to get SS/SH to 39A is already there in the crawlers and crawlerway with the obvious need to move them the final feet due to the HIF in the way.

They would probably build independent processing facilities for LC-49 unless they want to finish the crawlerway as well meant for the OG 39C.... ;) :P

HB5&6 were tongue in cheek comments.  I agree that SpaceX has always shown a desire to be as independent as possible. 

SS/SH would probably be built away from LC-49, a payload processing would be at or near LC-49 just because it would be handling the entire Starship.

It would be fun to be in the planning meetings for the whole process.  It's going to time to get an approval to build, but they also have a few years or work to go before they are ready for that added capacity.

I think it's good timing to get this started now.  They may need it in a few years.

I would be exciting to see the crawler way extended as intended 55 years ago.
Wildly optimistic prediction, Superheavy recovery on IFT-4 or IFT-5

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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It would sense to leave 39A as a dedicated F9/H pad until Starship has proven itself to be capable of replacing F9/H for NASA and DoD use. It would reduce risk to surrounding equipment during the early Starship flights.

And since the SS/SH infrastructure is going to be scratch-built anyway, why not build it at a new area?

But perhaps that is not what SpaceX is planning - if the article is correct.

There is going to be multiple Starship launch sites at the Cape. Elon mentioned, just a few days ago on Twitter, that construction of the first Starship launchpad at LC-39A has (re)started.
SpaceX is interested in building a second one at LC-49.

I still don't understand why NASA isn't freaking out over having a huge vehicle with minimal flight history launching 230m away from their only operational crewed launch facility.  Similarly, I'd think the DoD would be freaked out over having the same huge vehicle within 250m of the only VIF they'll have that's capable of handling a large direct-to-GEO mission anytime soon.

Of course, the timing is critical.  If Starliner starts working, then LC-39A isn't the only way to get crews into LEO.  And if Vulcan VC6 or VH starts flying, then there are ways to get heavy birds direct to GEO (as long as they're not too heavy).

LC-49 could sorta-kinda allay those fears.  But it's going to show up substantially later than the 39A facility, which makes the timing kinda weird.

What does this mean for Roberts Road?  There are ways to get Starships (or at least Starship noses with payloads integrated) from there to LC-39A, but LC-49 is quite a hike, with a road infrastructure that's kinda marginal right now.

Offline cdebuhr

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[...snip ...]

I still don't understand why NASA isn't freaking out over having a huge vehicle with minimal flight history launching 230m away from their only operational crewed launch facility.  Similarly, I'd think the DoD would be freaked out over having the same huge vehicle within 250m of the only VIF they'll have that's capable of handling a large direct-to-GEO mission anytime soon.

[... snip ...]
The point seems valid, but ISTM that SpaceX is in a hurry to the point that they don't mind investing in building something big and expensive at their own risk before they have full permission to actually use it.  It seems quite plausible that they may have full permission to start building new facilities with the stipulation that they will not be actually be used until similar facilities for the same vehicle are well proven elsewhere (i.e., Starbase).

Offline Nevyn72

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[...snip ...]

I still don't understand why NASA isn't freaking out over having a huge vehicle with minimal flight history launching 230m away from their only operational crewed launch facility.  Similarly, I'd think the DoD would be freaked out over having the same huge vehicle within 250m of the only VIF they'll have that's capable of handling a large direct-to-GEO mission anytime soon.

[... snip ...]
The point seems valid, but ISTM that SpaceX is in a hurry to the point that they don't mind investing in building something big and expensive at their own risk before they have full permission to actually use it.  It seems quite plausible that they may have full permission to start building new facilities with the stipulation that they will not be actually be used until similar facilities for the same vehicle are well proven elsewhere (i.e., Starbase).

I suspect that by the time the 39A facilities are ready for use there will have been quite a bit of flight history established at Boca Chica, certainly enough to know how big a risk there will be to surrounding infrastructure.

Offline RedLineTrain

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In the News 13 Orlando video, Tom Engler, KSC's director of planning and development, says that the 2014 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement will cut down the time for Pad 49 environmental review significantly.

I don't have a good sense of how much time will be cut, however.  Maybe he is referring to the possibility that a full impact statement will be unnecessary.  In any event, the article goes quite a bit into scheduling and what to expect.

Quote
“We’re pleased that there’s finally somebody that’s ready to have the kind of presence there, and it’s going to be a great addition to space center,” Engler said. “Probably the most significant change to the space center since it was built in the mid-'60s.”
« Last Edit: 12/17/2021 10:52 pm by RedLineTrain »

Offline TheRadicalModerate

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I suspect that by the time the 39A facilities are ready for use there will have been quite a bit of flight history established at Boca Chica, certainly enough to know how big a risk there will be to surrounding infrastructure.

I may be having a failure of imagination, but I can't think of an amount of flight history that would be necessary to put 4500t of methalox that close to irreplaceable civil and military assets.

And it's not like SpaceX can afford to wait for those assets to stop being irreplaceable before starting Starship ops in Florida.  They need straight shots to 53º to 70º real soon now, and they're not going to get them at BC.  Somebody over at Ars Technica pointed out to me that if the v2 Starlinks get substantially heavier, then Starship won't carry as many of them, and the deadlines for the license are written in terms of physical birds, not the number of spot beams on those birds.

Offline woods170

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I still don't understand why NASA isn't freaking out over having a huge vehicle with minimal flight history launching 230m away from their only operational crewed launch facility. 
Because there is a backup. It's called Starliner. It will be flying crewed before SpaceX attempts any SH/SS launch from LC-39A.


Similarly, I'd think the DoD would be freaked out over having the same huge vehicle within 250m of the only VIF they'll have that's capable of handling a large direct-to-GEO mission anytime soon.
DoD freaking out over this would be equal to them admitting that they screwed-up in their support of ULA to keep Delta IV-Heavy operational.
DoD LET IT HAPPEN that redundancy came into existence (Falcon Heavy), only to be followed by ULA killing off the redundancy (by terminating Delta IV Heavy).
The blame is squarely on DoD with regards to this one.

Offline woods170

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I suspect that by the time the 39A facilities are ready for use there will have been quite a bit of flight history established at Boca Chica, certainly enough to know how big a risk there will be to surrounding infrastructure.

I may be having a failure of imagination, but I can't think of an amount of flight history that would be necessary to put 4500t of methalox that close to irreplaceable civil and military assets.

The VIF is not a military asset. It is both owned and operated by SpaceX. And it is not exclusively for military use either. Remember: SpaceX sells launch services. And right now the DoD does NOT have a requirement in place for the VIF to be X-hunderds (or X-thousands) of feet away from any launchpad. In fact: an explosive failure of Falcon 9 or FH on 39A will do as much damage (if not more) to the VIF than a SH/SS explosive failure.

Offline su27k

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I suspect that by the time the 39A facilities are ready for use there will have been quite a bit of flight history established at Boca Chica, certainly enough to know how big a risk there will be to surrounding infrastructure.

I may be having a failure of imagination, but I can't think of an amount of flight history that would be necessary to put 4500t of methalox that close to irreplaceable civil and military assets.

How is this different from NASA allowing SpaceX to launch the first Falcon Heavy from the same launch mount used by Commercial Crew?

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