Author Topic: Put a water tank atop the tower?  (Read 8140 times)

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #20 on: 05/22/2023 04:47 pm »
Rather than a water tank at an altitude of 120m, you could just take a standard wind turbine tower, which is about 5m diameter and 140m high, and seal it.

Very strong, off the shelf solution, and readily available in Texas. Place it just behind the launch tower.

Fill it with water prior to launch and you have a 12 bar solution.

As the water level lowers, the pressure drops. But then the requirements should also drop as the rocket gets a bit further from the pad. Probably the lower half of the tower could be empty, assuming a strong enough bulkhead can be installed.

Wind turbine towers are not off the shelf.  They are custom designed for each application and they are a lot more complex than it appears on the outside, containing a lot of pre-attached equipment.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #21 on: 05/22/2023 05:07 pm »
Pressure discharge systems also have the advantage of being ground-level (ease of maintenance)
This shouldn't be overlooked; imagine the fun every time you have to inspect the tank and instead of a nice ground-level tank you have to go on one of the tallest launch towers in the world that has no built-in infrastructure to get you up there, so you need a massive and expensive crane every time...

IF there is a benefit, it seems very marginal compared with the hassle of getting up there to inspect/repair it.
typical municipal water towers are like this, and inspectors just make a long weary climb up the steps. Not the launch tower. The launch tower has an elevator (i.e., "built-in infrastructure"). The top of the hoist for the chopsticks needs inspection more frequently than the water tank would need it.
Or, you could not have to do any of that.  I suppose we'll have to wait for SpaceX to build their next tower to know for sure, but if this works out well for them, I imagine they are going to stick with it.
I think so too. However, the whole "stage 0" mantra at SpaceX is about operations costs, and the gravity system would be cheaper, I think.
It might be cheaper in isolation. But when the launch site already has the hardware for producing and handling high pressure gasses (for the COPVs) any marginal cost advantage probably goes away in favour of commonality.
But SpaceX also already builds low-pressure water tanks. Those high-pressure water tanks are more expensive. If they integrate a water system into their tower-building process, the commonality may shift in favor of the gravity system.

However, I have no background in any of this, so I'm just guessing about cost and complexity for both alternatives. I'm trying to explore the alternatives, not advocate for the gravity system.

Amount of water guesstimate: Assume the existing pressure tanks hold about the amount of water needed here. I'm not a good pixel counter, but each of the four tanks seems to be 20 m long and 2 m dia. That's about 60 m3/tank or 240 m3 total, which is 240 tonne of water at the top. A 9 meter dia stainless steel tank that is 4 meters tall will hold about 250 m3. You also need maybe 120 tonne for the water in the big vertical pipe.

Offline darkenfast

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #22 on: 05/22/2023 09:22 pm »
Pressure discharge systems also have the advantage of being ground-level (ease of maintenance)
This shouldn't be overlooked; imagine the fun every time you have to inspect the tank and instead of a nice ground-level tank you have to go on one of the tallest launch towers in the world that has no built-in infrastructure to get you up there, so you need a massive and expensive crane every time...

IF there is a benefit, it seems very marginal compared with the hassle of getting up there to inspect/repair it.
typical municipal water towers are like this, and inspectors just make a long weary climb up the steps. Not the launch tower. The launch tower has an elevator (i.e., "built-in infrastructure"). The top of the hoist for the chopsticks needs inspection more frequently than the water tank would need it.

Just to point out: The elevator track has been removed as far down as around the chopsticks level and the elevator cage and other equipment are no longer in the tower. We have no idea what the plan is, at this point.
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Online catdlr

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #23 on: 05/22/2023 11:01 pm »
Quote
Just to point out: The elevator track has been removed as far down as around the chopsticks level and the elevator cage and other equipment are no longer in the tower. We have no idea what the plan is, at this point.


Water Slide?   ;)  ::)
« Last Edit: 05/22/2023 11:04 pm by catdlr »
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Offline CameronD

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #24 on: 05/24/2023 12:16 am »
If you want to be cool, you could use a Merlin gas generator and turbine set to pump the water in real-time...

But then you'd need a sound suppression system to suppress your suppression system..  8)
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #25 on: 05/24/2023 03:41 pm »
Just looking at Google Maps:
 https://www.google.com/maps/place/Kennedy+Space+Center+Launch+Complex+39b/@28.6083991,-80.6051824,522m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x88e0bbb3caf4ea65:0x5b7fc6372378346d!8m2!3d28.6272629!4d-80.620834!16s%2Fg%2F11fkpywbz7?authuser=0
the deluge system at LC-39A is fed from a really tall water tower. Based on the shadows, the tower is about the same height as the F9 tower, so maybe 250 ft. Just looking at videos of shuttle and SLS launches, the system uses a lot higher flow and lower pressure than the proposed SpaceX system at BC. This is consistent with a 250 ft head.

Offline Jim

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #26 on: 05/25/2023 05:41 pm »
If you want to be cool, you could use a Merlin gas generator and turbine set to pump the water in real-time...

But then you'd need a sound suppression system to suppress your suppression system..  8)

What sound suppression system?  There isn't one at BC.  water is only for pad cooling.  The payloads are far enough from the sound where it is an issue.

Offline Jim

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #27 on: 05/25/2023 05:44 pm »
I suspect that adding a water tank to the existing tower would have been cheaper.


I wouldn't suspect that.  The tower would have to change drastically to support the weight.   The tank would have to be slim and not overhang the tower.

Offline Hog

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #28 on: 05/25/2023 05:45 pm »
The LC 39A and B water towers are 290 feet tall and hold 300,000 gallons/1,100,000 liters or approx. 1,100 tonnes of water.
Paul

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #29 on: 05/25/2023 06:27 pm »
I suspect that adding a water tank to the existing tower would have been cheaper.


I wouldn't suspect that.  The tower would have to change drastically to support the weight.   The tank would have to be slim and not overhang the tower.
I could very easily be wrong. However, I tried to guesstimate the required volume and mass of water based on the sizes of the pressure tanks that SpaceX installed at BC (see below). my guesstimate was:
240 m3 total, which is 240 tonne of water at the top. A 9 meter dia stainless steel tank that is 4 meters tall will hold about 250 m3. You also need maybe 120 tonne for the water in the big vertical pipe." It might be too heavy, but it's not large compared to the top of the tower.

Offline alugobi

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #30 on: 05/25/2023 06:29 pm »
You should start new, catch-all thread for all the things SX coulda/shoulda done because reasons.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #31 on: 05/25/2023 06:36 pm »
The LC 39A and B water towers are 290 feet tall and hold 300,000 gallons/1,100,000 liters or approx. 1,100 tonnes of water.
Thanks! That tanks is roughly spherical. a sphere with a volume of 1100 m3 is about 13 m in diameter.

The function and operation of the SLS deluge system is apparently very different from SpaceX's "upward-facing showerhead", and the SpaceX pressurized tanks appear to be about 250 m3 total but probably operate at a higher pressure (a 400-foot head instead of a 290-foot head).



Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #32 on: 05/25/2023 06:44 pm »
You should start new, catch-all thread for all the things SX coulda/shoulda done because reasons.
Please feel free to do so. The SpaceX facilities thread tends to degenerate into something like that, which is why I split this discussion out to a separate thread.

I do not think SpaceX coulda/shoulda put a water tank atop the tower. I think they coulda/shoulda done exactly what they did, which is to build a stage 0 that they thought would work and then test it. I also think that given the state of Stage 0 early this year, that adding a pressure-driven system instead of a gravity-driven system was the right choice. I'm thinking more about what they may choose to do for new towers.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #33 on: 05/25/2023 06:46 pm »
Does anyone have an estimate (or a way to estimate) the mass of a Starship launch tower? This number would let us guess how much harder it is to engineer for the extra mass of a full water tank.

Offline CameronD

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Re: Put a water tank atop the tower?
« Reply #34 on: 05/26/2023 01:01 am »
I do not think SpaceX coulda/shoulda put a water tank atop the tower. I think they coulda/shoulda done exactly what they did, which is to build a stage 0 that they thought would work and then test it. I also think that given the state of Stage 0 early this year, that adding a pressure-driven system instead of a gravity-driven system was the right choice. I'm thinking more about what they may choose to do for new towers.

Valve actuator technology, materials and reliability has come a long way in the last 60 years or so.  Certainly far enough that gravity-driven deluge is unlikely to be the cheapest or best solution for a new installation.  We simply don't need to do that any more.
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

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