Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon Heavy : USSF-44 : KSC LC-39A: 1 Nov 2022 (13:41 UTC)  (Read 175740 times)

Offline woods170

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Discussion thread for the USSF-44 (formerly AFSPC-44) mission.

NSF Threads for USSF-44 : Discussion
NSF Articles for USSF-44 :

1 November 2022, 13:41 UTC (9:41 am EDT) on Falcon Heavy from LC-39A to GEO.  New side boosters 1064.1 and 1065.1, new center core 1066.1.  Center core was expended at sea; boosters landed on land at LZ-1 and LZ-2.

Main Payload: Shepherd Demonstration

Rideshare Payloads:
LDPE-2
  LINUSS (2x 12U)?
  Tetra-1



https://spacenews.com/air-force-awards-739-million-in-launch-contracts-to-ula-and-spacex/
Quote from: Sandra Erwin
The U.S. Air Force has divided $739 million in launch contracts between United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for six national security missions slated for 2021-2022. The contracts, awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, were announced Tuesday evening by Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
SpaceX will receive $297 million  to launch AFSPC-44, NROL-85, and NROL-87.

Earlier discussion on the contract in EELV Phase 1A-6 Thread
« Last Edit: 11/02/2022 05:59 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline cd-slam

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 11:46 am by cd-slam »

Offline PM3

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

Falcon Heavy pricing starts at 90 M$ for 8t to GTO: https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

This one may be heavier* - it cannot go on a Falcon 9:

Quote
At present, ULA is the only launch provider certified for the SILENTBARKER and AFSPC-44 missions. However, it is anticipated that in the near future SpaceX will be launching the Falcon Heavy, which may be capable of meeting the SILENTBARKER and AFSPC-44 requirements.
https://breakingdefense.com/2018/02/smc-issues-final-rfp-for-five-eelv-launches-sbirs-4-classified-payloads/

Great to see the FH launch manifest growing! Three orders within the past six months.


(* Edit - added this note for clarification: Air Force may require a safety margin on that maximum lift capability, as they did with the first GPS 3 launch. Or the desired GTO injection may need additional fuel. So the need for a Heavy does not necessarily mean that the wet AFSPC-44 weighs more than the 8.3 t that Falcon 9 can lift.)
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 01:24 pm by PM3 »
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Offline su27k

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

Falcon Heavy pricing starts at 90 M$ for 8t to GTO: https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

This one may be heavier - it cannot go on a Falcon 9:

$90M is FH's commercial price, for military launch they charge higher price, for example AFSPC-52 is $130M

cd-slam is correct, a total of $297M looks more like 3 Falcon 9's, for example they sold 3 GPSIII launches for $290M. Add $7M upgrade to FH? I don't think so....

Offline envy887

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

Falcon Heavy pricing starts at 90 M$ for 8t to GTO: https://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

This one may be heavier - it cannot go on a Falcon 9:

$90M is FH's commercial price, for military launch they charge higher price, for example AFSPC-52 is $130M

cd-slam is correct, a total of $297M looks more like 3 Falcon 9's, for example they sold 3 GPSIII launches for $290M. Add $7M upgrade to FH? I don't think so....

This is the full quote from USAF SMC, linked above:

“This is a full and open competition. However, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX are the only contractors certified to deliver national security space satellites to orbit,” SMC says in an email. “At present, ULA is the only launch provider certified for the SILENTBARKER and AFSPC-44 missions. However, it is anticipated that in the near future SpaceX will be launching the Falcon Heavy, which may be capable of meeting the SILENTBARKER and AFSPC-44 requirements.”

https://breakingdefense.com/2018/02/smc-issues-final-rfp-for-five-eelv-launches-sbirs-4-classified-payloads/

So FH is not just media speculation. The USAF was expecting FH to be required for this mission.

Offline woods170

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

No individual amounts were reported for the three missions that went to SpaceX. Some idi*t took the reported figure of $297 million (for all three missions) and divided it by 3.

That's NOT how prices for these launches are negotiated. Not even by Elon et al.

Rest assured: the price-tag for the AFSPC-44 launch is more than $99 million.


And yes: the performance requirement for the launch of AFSPC-44 is one that cannot be met by Falcon 9. But Falcon Heavy can.
And yes, the source for that information is the folks at SMC. The same folks that issued the RFP that led to this launch contract being awarded to SpaceX.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 01:22 pm by woods170 »

Online gongora

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

It's a GEO mission.

Offline HeartofGold2030

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

It's a GEO mission.

To a high (42,479km), inclined orbit. Also the mass provided for simulations in the RFP is 3,700kg, so it's not a particularly light payload either.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=cc4fe6a113403f3a7b1d79cee4a123ff&tab=core&_cview=1

Offline abaddon

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Dividing the total by three obviously doesn't work very well when you have different LVs with different pricing.  (For that matter, mission-specific pricing might be quite different even if the LV is the same).  However, it's still instructive that the average pricing is just under $100 million average for two F9s and a Heavy.  Given that recent GPS III flights have been purchased at just a little bit less ($96.8 most recently), that says interesting things about pricing here.

If instead, we guess that the ratio of FH to F9 pricing is similar as in the most recent AF contracts ($130 million FH for AFSPC-52 and $96.8 million for the most GPS III contracts), we end up with $89 million per F9 and $119 million for the FH.  Hard to say if the NROL payloads are priced similarly to USAF flights, but these are at least more reasonable guesses than $99 per flight :D.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 02:21 pm by abaddon »

Offline envy887

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has come up with a certification path for flown boosters to fly NSS missions, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 02:23 pm by envy887 »

Offline abaddon

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has a certification path for flown boosters, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
While that's definitely possible, it think it is more likely that all three boosters can be recovered on this flight (which seems reasonable since an Atlas V could have launched it), so it is a new FH that was bid with the boosters being recovered.  That'd be my guess, as I think it's still a little early for the USAF to be comfortable with reused boosters on a non-experimental flight.

[EDIT] Edited for clarity
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 02:57 pm by abaddon »

Online gongora

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On topic, what's the source that this will be a Falcon Heavy flight? I don't see any mention of launcher in the SpaceNews article, $99 million seems quite low for a FH.

It's a GEO mission.

To a high (42,479km), inclined orbit. Also the mass provided for simulations in the RFP is 3,700kg, so it's not a particularly light payload either.

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=cc4fe6a113403f3a7b1d79cee4a123ff&tab=core&_cview=1

You have to be careful reading the numbers in these RFPs.  Sometimes the distance is from the center of the earth instead of from the surface of the earth.  It's a GEO orbit.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 02:30 pm by gongora »

Online gongora

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has a certification path for flown boosters, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
While that's definitely possible, it think it is more likely that all three boosters can be recovered on this flight (which seems reasonable since an Atlas V could have launched it), so it is a fully reusable FH that was bid.  That'd be my guess, as I think it's still a little early for the USAF to be comfortable with reused boosters on a non-experimental flight.

Plans can change, but previously they've said Phase 1A missions would use new hardware.

Offline PM3

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Some data from the EELV docs (Annex 5, section 14):

Quote
two Payloads
deployment of both payloads with a separation time of 600s
The Offeror shall assume each payload has a weight of 2000kg.
Semi-major Axis: GEO 42464km
Apogee & Perigee radius: 42464km
Inclination: 5 degrees

You have to be careful reading the numbers in these RFPs.  Sometimes the distance is from the center of the earth instead of from the surface of the earth.  It's a GEO orbit.

Axis is from earth center.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 02:45 pm by PM3 »
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Online Alexphysics

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There's also one thing that SpaceX usually does and is offering discounts for a block of launches. I don't know if that works with military too, but it would also explain why this time 2 F9's and 1 FH is sold together at a little bit less money than what we've seen on the past prices for individual F9 and FH military contracts.

Offline abaddon

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There's also one thing that SpaceX usually does and is offering discounts for a block of launches. I don't know if that works with military too, but it would also explain why this time 2 F9's and 1 FH is sold together at a little bit less money than what we've seen on the past prices for individual F9 and FH military contracts.
I'm not sure I see how that would work in this case.  Presumably both ULA and SpaceX bid on all launches.  What if the USAF didn't select these three, but instead selected three F9 launches, or two FH launches and one F9 launch, or whatever?  Unless it was set up as a group buy (which seems unlikely unless the USAF paired these launches up?) I'd have to think that SpaceX bid what they wanted to for each flight individually.  Bottom line, AIUI this wasn't a block buy, so block buy pricing seems unlikely.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 03:00 pm by abaddon »

Offline envy887

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has a certification path for flown boosters, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
While that's definitely possible, it think it is more likely that all three boosters can be recovered on this flight (which seems reasonable since an Atlas V could have launched it), so it is a new FH that was bid with the boosters being recovered.  That'd be my guess, as I think it's still a little early for the USAF to be comfortable with reused boosters on a non-experimental flight.

[EDIT] Edited for clarity

Can FH do 4 t (2x 2,000 kg) direct to GEO with full recovery? That's a very high energy mission. Even to inclined GEO.

Offline ncb1397

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has a certification path for flown boosters, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
While that's definitely possible, it think it is more likely that all three boosters can be recovered on this flight (which seems reasonable since an Atlas V could have launched it), so it is a new FH that was bid with the boosters being recovered.  That'd be my guess, as I think it's still a little early for the USAF to be comfortable with reused boosters on a non-experimental flight.

[EDIT] Edited for clarity

Can FH do 4 t (2x 2,000 kg) direct to GEO with full recovery? That's a very high energy mission. Even to inclined GEO.

Should be similar to a trans mars injection, which is a C3 of ~12 km2/sec2 . The NASA LSP performance query says Falcon Heavy with recovery can do 4865 kg (a bit less than Atlas 551 at 4870 kg). So, they likely can attempt a recovery, but who knows if it will work in practice. Air Force also might want to leave more margin on the upper stage. Guess we will find out late next year.

edit: ULA lists Atlas V 551 GEO performance as 3850 kg. This corresponds to a LSP performance query of C3=23.5. The corresponding number for Falcon Heavy recovery is 3440 kg.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2019 04:05 pm by ncb1397 »

Online LouScheffer

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Makes me wonder if the USAF has a certification path for flown boosters, perhaps dependent on STP-2 is successfully reflying the Arabsat boosters.
While that's definitely possible, it think it is more likely that all three boosters can be recovered on this flight (which seems reasonable since an Atlas V could have launched it), so it is a new FH that was bid with the boosters being recovered.  That'd be my guess, as I think it's still a little early for the USAF to be comfortable with reused boosters on a non-experimental flight.

[EDIT] Edited for clarity

Can FH do 4 t (2x 2,000 kg) direct to GEO with full recovery? That's a very high energy mission. Even to inclined GEO.
A back-of-the envelope calculation indicates the base FH configuration (2 boosters return to base, one lands on barge) cannot do this mission.  Any GEO mission takes at least GTO+1500 just to circularize.  In practice it's more (some inclination reduction, some performance loss from long-coast).

To estimate, sttart with Intelsat 35, which put 6.7t into a GTO+100 orbit.  Reducing the payload to 3.7t gives about 900 m/s more, so GTO+1000.  According to this estimate, downrange recovery of the center core can stage at about 340 m/s faster than Intelsat.  Altogether that's GTO+1340, still not enough.

It's pretty close, though, so FH could do this with either of two next steps - (a) land the side boosters downrange (adds about 800 m/s), or (b) expend the center core (adds about 400 m/s).   

It's been reported that SpaceX is building another landing barge (sorry, don't have the reference).  Since their landing accuracy has been quite good lately, I'll go out on a limb and suggesting landing both side boosters on one barge, and the center core on a barge way downrange.  Then they could do this mission and get all cores back.

Offline Zed_Noir

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<snip>
It's pretty close, though, so FH could do this with either of two next steps - (a) land the side boosters downrange (adds about 800 m/s), or (b) expend the center core (adds about 400 m/s).   

It's been reported that SpaceX is building another landing barge (sorry, don't have the reference).  Since their landing accuracy has been quite good lately, I'll go out on a limb and suggesting landing both side boosters on one barge, and the center core on a barge way downrange.  Then they could do this mission and get all cores back.

There is enough time for SX to bring a third ASDS into service. Landing 2 F9 cores on a single ASDS seems too hairy.

[start wild speculation]

Hell freezes over. :o SX uses the 2 East Coast ASDS we know about to land the side boosters. The center core lands on the BO landing recovery ship leased out to SX for an operational "hot trial test". They can always scarped the crumpled remains of a fail F9 core landing attempt off the deck.  ;D

[end wild speculation]

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