Author Topic: Progress on rapid booster reuse  (Read 134580 times)

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #340 on: 05/01/2022 09:27 am »
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size. They need some buffer for unexpected downtime for their boats. Just two drone landing barges currently on the East coast is really rolling the dice with each down range recovery attempt.
Additional recovery boats have little effect on recovery success rate. Lack of assets would cause launches to be delayed, not recovery failure. If SpaceX believes Starship will begin replacing F9 within the next two years, then at most a few launches will be delayed and added recovery assets will not pay for themselves.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #341 on: 05/01/2022 10:18 am »
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size. They need some buffer for unexpected downtime for their boats. Just two drone landing barges currently on the East coast is really rolling the dice with each down range recovery attempt.
Additional recovery boats have little effect on recovery success rate. Lack of assets would cause launches to be delayed, not recovery failure. If SpaceX believes Starship will begin replacing F9 within the next two years, then at most a few launches will be delayed and added recovery assets will not pay for themselves.
For some launches, the lack of recovery assets doesn't matter. SpaceX will just have to build additional boosters for unexpected expended launches if a landing barge isn't available.

Hope is not something for planning purposes. SpaceX will have to planned as if the Starship will not show up on schedule.

Added recovery assets is insurance against unexpected events. AIUI replacing a booster that is lost unexpectedly is more than the annual operating cost of the SpaceX recovery fleet.
 

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #342 on: 05/01/2022 04:06 pm »
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size. They need some buffer for unexpected downtime for their boats. Just two drone landing barges currently on the East coast is really rolling the dice with each down range recovery attempt.
Additional recovery boats have little effect on recovery success rate. Lack of assets would cause launches to be delayed, not recovery failure. If SpaceX believes Starship will begin replacing F9 within the next two years, then at most a few launches will be delayed and added recovery assets will not pay for themselves.
For some launches, the lack of recovery assets doesn't matter. SpaceX will just have to build additional boosters for unexpected expended launches if a landing barge isn't available.

Hope is not something for planning purposes. SpaceX will have to planned as if the Starship will not show up on schedule.

Added recovery assets is insurance against unexpected events. AIUI replacing a booster that is lost unexpectedly is more than the annual operating cost of the SpaceX recovery fleet.
But if they actually succeed in replacing even a moderate percentage of F9 launches within two years, the need for a bigger fleet goes away. Made-up example numbers: The current fleet appears to be able to support up to a launch a week in 2022 (52 launches/yr), perhaps with a bit of a strain, but supported 31 launches in 2021, probably with not much strain.  If Starship can replace enough F9s to keep the F9 launch rate below 30 launches/yr, the strain on the fleet will be reduced. If SpaceX were for example to project that the F9 launch cadence would drop below 30/yr by (say) Q2 2023, then the risk of a forced expenditure of a booster is constrained to the next 15 months. Furthermore, because half the launches are Starlink, SpaceX has the option of deferring a launch instead of expending a booster. Once Starship is even barely operational, SpaceX will shift all Starlinks to Starship. Finally, as F9 gets closer to EOL, the non-Starlink cadence will taper down and the number of boosters in the active fleet can be allowed to decrease, so the value of recovering a booster decreases.

To evaluate all this, you will need to plug in your own guesses to replace my made-up numbers, and this in turn will let you decide if you think more fleet assets are justified.

Offline alugobi

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #343 on: 05/01/2022 04:12 pm »
Quote
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size.
And yet we see no evidence from them that they agree.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #344 on: 05/01/2022 05:18 pm »
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size. They need some buffer for unexpected downtime for their boats. Just two drone landing barges currently on the East coast is really rolling the dice with each down range recovery attempt.
Additional recovery boats have little effect on recovery success rate. Lack of assets would cause launches to be delayed, not recovery failure. If SpaceX believes Starship will begin replacing F9 within the next two years, then at most a few launches will be delayed and added recovery assets will not pay for themselves.
For some launches, the lack of recovery assets doesn't matter. SpaceX will just have to build additional boosters for unexpected expended launches if a landing barge isn't available.

Hope is not something for planning purposes. SpaceX will have to planned as if the Starship will not show up on schedule.

Added recovery assets is insurance against unexpected events. AIUI replacing a booster that is lost unexpectedly is more than the annual operating cost of the SpaceX recovery fleet.
But if they actually succeed in replacing even a moderate percentage of F9 launches within two years, the need for a bigger fleet goes away. Made-up example numbers: The current fleet appears to be able to support up to a launch a week in 2022 (52 launches/yr), perhaps with a bit of a strain, but supported 31 launches in 2021, probably with not much strain.  If Starship can replace enough F9s to keep the F9 launch rate below 30 launches/yr, the strain on the fleet will be reduced. If SpaceX were for example to project that the F9 launch cadence would drop below 30/yr by (say) Q2 2023, then the risk of a forced expenditure of a booster is constrained to the next 15 months. Furthermore, because half the launches are Starlink, SpaceX has the option of deferring a launch instead of expending a booster. Once Starship is even barely operational, SpaceX will shift all Starlinks to Starship. Finally, as F9 gets closer to EOL, the non-Starlink cadence will taper down and the number of boosters in the active fleet can be allowed to decrease, so the value of recovering a booster decreases.

To evaluate all this, you will need to plug in your own guesses to replace my made-up numbers, and this in turn will let you decide if you think more fleet assets are justified.
You make up numbers seems reasonable. If SpaceX only have to cover a couple of years before the Starship replaces much of the Falcon 9 launches. However Starship service introduction delays will strain the current recovery fleet. Things break on boats that stay out sea for extended periods of time with little breaks, besides the hazards of more or less catching a grain silo falling out of the sky. ;)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #345 on: 05/01/2022 05:30 pm »
Quote
With the increase launch tempo SpaceX is going to need more landing barges and support ships than the current fleet size.
And yet we see no evidence from them that they agree.
SpaceX can disagree with my assessment until they find themselves short a boat unexpectedly. Then they have to reassess their recovery fleet size. Which with the exception of the landing barges can be expanded quickly with a few charters.

Offline alugobi

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #346 on: 05/01/2022 06:56 pm »
I suspect that they've already considered the universe of possibilities regarding their fleet.

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #347 on: 05/01/2022 07:36 pm »
Or, they could do more RTLS launches. Since most launches are for Starlink, if they reduce the number of satellites launched (currently 57) to, say 40 (just guessing), they could return to launch site.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #348 on: 05/01/2022 09:03 pm »
You make up numbers seems reasonable. If SpaceX only have to cover a couple of years before the Starship replaces much of the Falcon 9 launches. However Starship service introduction delays will strain the current recovery fleet. Things break on boats that stay out sea for extended periods of time with little breaks, besides the hazards of more or less catching a grain silo falling out of the sky. ;)
The strain (if any) we see now may be caused by Starship delays. Remember that Elon said in December(?) that he was basically counting on 20 Starlink-on-Starship launches in 2022 and he was upset by the surprise delays in the Raptors.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #349 on: 05/13/2022 04:25 pm »
What’s the fastest time between hangar and launch for Falcon 9?
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Online deadman1204

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #350 on: 05/23/2022 04:07 pm »
People are laboring under this false idea that starship will replace falcon 9 in a couple years - which totally ignores spaceX saying on multiple occasions that this is not true.

Falcon 9 will fly for as long as customers want it. Falcon 9 is the most reliable rocket since ever. Saving a few million dollars doesn't matter if you run a higher risk of losing years of time (time spent building satellites, and then the years it'll take to build the new one).
Until starship has a good level of reliability, it simply won't actually be able to compete well with falcon 9. This sort of thing takes years, because its about far more than a rocket going up and down a few times. Its all the process of mission assurance, build quality, deploying payloads in various orbits, operations over time, ect.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #351 on: 05/23/2022 05:09 pm »
People are laboring under this false idea that starship will replace falcon 9 in a couple years - which totally ignores spaceX saying on multiple occasions that this is not true.

Falcon 9 will fly for as long as customers want it. Falcon 9 is the most reliable rocket since ever. Saving a few million dollars doesn't matter if you run a higher risk of losing years of time (time spent building satellites, and then the years it'll take to build the new one).
Until starship has a good level of reliability, it simply won't actually be able to compete well with falcon 9. This sort of thing takes years, because its about far more than a rocket going up and down a few times. Its all the process of mission assurance, build quality, deploying payloads in various orbits, operations over time, ect.
My uninformed guess: you are probably correct. However, this reasoning also applies to all new alternative medium and heavy launchers (New Glenn, Vulcan, Arianne 6) and to new small launchers, so basically the customers are left with F9/FH. SpaceX has a strong financial incentive to charge the F9/FH customers enough to make a profit, and the launch costs will rise as the infrastructure's ops cost must be amortized over ever-fewer launches. F9 will lose half of its launches by next year as its major customer, Starlink, moves to Starship. But SpaceX is in a position to make a much higher absolute profit per launch with Starship even at a much more attractive price to the customer, and even if they choose to launch exactly the same F9 payload to exactly the same orbit and leave the other 70,000 lb of launch mass unused. The comparison for an FH payload is even more in Starship's favor, of course. A customer that can consolidate payloads will of course see a much bigger difference.

Starlink-on-Starship will be more than "a few launches". By the end of 2023, There will probably be more of these than the rest of the US commercial launches combined. We'll see.

Online whitelancer64

Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #352 on: 05/23/2022 09:11 pm »
What’s the fastest time between hangar and launch for Falcon 9?

I'm not sure what the fastest time is, but the Falcon 9 is at least theoretically capable of roll out and launch on the same day if there is no static fire test. After the rocket is raised to vertical, the time from power-on to launch is nominally 10 hours.
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Offline Norm38

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #353 on: 06/22/2022 04:24 pm »
I see that booster 1058-13 is scheduled for the next Starlink.  From launching the first crew (Bob & Doug) to tying the flight record in only two short years.  (Though 1060 did it faster).
Given the size of their booster fleet, 13 launches in two years on two boosters is a LOT.

Online whitelancer64

Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #354 on: 06/29/2022 11:13 pm »
Hi Everyone! Welcome, welcome to the end of the sixth month of the year. And what a year it has been O__o

*edit* Hectic enough for me to not realize there was a flagrant error in my tracking spreadsheet. Thank you to Nomadd for pointing that out. Here, the post is corrected:

As of today yesterday, SpaceX has launched 26 27 times so far this year, matching surpassing their total from the entirety of 2020. Also, surpassing my expectations in terms of launch cadence, which was expressed in cautious tones in previous posts. We are very much on track to reach 50+ launches this year. Looking just a short bit ahead, July should be a veritable barrage of Starlink launches, with CRS-25 tossed in (or rather, up) for good measure.

Let's look at some numbers:

The average launch cadence so far this year has been 6.65 6.4 days between launches. This is pretty much a slack-jawed, eye-watering, brain-frying fact for me, it's just an astonishing pace.

15 of the 26 27 launches (57.7% 55.55%) have been dedicated Starlink launches.

Only two of the launches this year have utilized new boosters, the rest were all re-flights. No boosters have been lost or intentionally expended, for a 100% recovery rate.

There was a new record fastest turnaround time of 21 days for 1062.6

Excluding the huge 951 day outlier for 1052.3, the average core turnaround time for this half-year is 62.7 days. This defies my earlier (mid March) expectation that we would see a decrease in average turnaround time by this point. I will have to keep an eye on this. The boosters being reserved for crew launches are bumping the trend upward a bit, but there are a couple others that are also higher than average. The summer Starlink Barrage may push that trend back down. Something to look at for the next data-crunching post.

All of the launches this year have been completed by just 10 individual boosters, with three boosters, 1060, 1061, and 1062, having completed four flights each.

Three boosters, 1052, 1058, and 1071, have completed three flights each. Two boosters, 1063 and 1073, have completed two flights each. Two boosters have only had one flight this year: 1051 and 1067.

I can't think of anything else that I wanted to check with the data. Hopefully everyone finds these updates helpful. Take care and keep safe out there.
« Last Edit: 06/30/2022 03:26 pm by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #355 on: 06/30/2022 02:59 am »
 SES-22 was the 27th launch this year.
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Offline woods170

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #356 on: 06/30/2022 08:05 am »
People are laboring under this false idea that starship will replace falcon 9 in a couple years - which totally ignores spaceX saying on multiple occasions that this is not true.

Falcon 9 will fly for as long as customers want it...

Almost correct.
It is in fact not up to the customers.

SpaceX fully intends to switch over to Starship, as soon as committed obligations allow it.

Outyear look: Falcon 9 will fly until roughly 2030, because NASA has committed SpaceX to flying Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon until 2030. But with Starship operational by then, even for crewed launches, the retirement of ISS drops the sole remaining prime customer for F9 by then. Only FH will soldier on a few more years, after ISS retirement, because of running DoD and NASA commitments.

But by 2035 FH will absolutely be gone as well. Rationale behind this: The coming situation where FH is the only heavy lifter, available to NASA and DoD, will be short-lived, due to the arrival of Starship, the Heavy variant of Vulcan and New Glenn. A little further out there will be the heavy variant of Neutron as well. Lots of options becoming available to NASA and DoD in the next 5 years.

Online whitelancer64

Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #357 on: 06/30/2022 03:13 pm »
SES-22 was the 27th launch this year.

... you are quite right, my spreadsheet somehow skipped adding a number in a line for my launches per year column.

Editing my post to correct errors now.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #358 on: 06/30/2022 03:48 pm »
People are laboring under this false idea that starship will replace falcon 9 in a couple years - which totally ignores spaceX saying on multiple occasions that this is not true.

Falcon 9 will fly for as long as customers want it...

Almost correct.
It is in fact not up to the customers.

SpaceX fully intends to switch over to Starship, as soon as committed obligations allow it.

Outyear look: Falcon 9 will fly until roughly 2030, because NASA has committed SpaceX to flying Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon until 2030. But with Starship operational by then, even for crewed launches, the retirement of ISS drops the sole remaining prime customer for F9 by then. Only FH will soldier on a few more years, after ISS retirement, because of running DoD and NASA commitments.

But by 2035 FH will absolutely be gone as well. Rationale behind this: The coming situation where FH is the only heavy lifter, available to NASA and DoD, will be short-lived, due to the arrival of Starship, the Heavy variant of Vulcan and New Glenn. A little further out there will be the heavy variant of Neutron as well. Lots of options becoming available to NASA and DoD in the next 5 years.
As the launch cadence slows, the amortized cost per launch of the Falcon infrastructure increases. SpaceX will raise the price of F9 and FH launches to compensate. In the mean time, the cost of Starship launches will start low and rapidly decline. It's not clear that SpaceX would even bother to bid FH and F9 for the next NSSL phase, because that commits them to maintain the infrastructure. Instead, SpaceX should strive to get Starship qualified for NSSL and other DoD launches.  Similarly, It makes economic sense for SpaceX to solve the problem of using Starship for the CRS, GLS, and CCP missions. CRS and GLS could use a big cargo capsule (motorless Cargo Dragon) delivered by a Cargo Starship. CCP is harder, but SpaceX is committed to launching crew eventually, so crewed Starship plus a Crew Dragon "taxi" that is launched separately as cargo would do it.   Based on all this, I think the last Falcon flight might occur before ISS is decommissioned.

Offline butters

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Re: Progress on rapid booster reuse
« Reply #359 on: 06/30/2022 04:43 pm »
People are laboring under this false idea that starship will replace falcon 9 in a couple years - which totally ignores spaceX saying on multiple occasions that this is not true.

Falcon 9 will fly for as long as customers want it...

Almost correct.
It is in fact not up to the customers.

SpaceX fully intends to switch over to Starship, as soon as committed obligations allow it.

Outyear look: Falcon 9 will fly until roughly 2030, because NASA has committed SpaceX to flying Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon until 2030. But with Starship operational by then, even for crewed launches, the retirement of ISS drops the sole remaining prime customer for F9 by then. Only FH will soldier on a few more years, after ISS retirement, because of running DoD and NASA commitments.
This is such a weird moment in time for Commercial LEO Destinations providers to bid on fixed-cost end-to-end service which will begin in 2030. Do they bid as if Starship crew launch/reentry by 2030 is a sure thing? Do they make a deal with SpaceX to ensure a smooth transition whether it occurs before or after station IOC? Do their design concepts even work, for example in terms of lifeboat/evac or attitude control, with a transition from small hypergolic spacecraft to a large cryogenic beast? Who knows what a 2030s space station should be like, but that question must be answered very shortly.

In other words, I'm not as optimistic that new Crew Dragon commitments will not be made stretching into the 2030s. I think there's a good chance that CLD will be the last straggling customer(s) for F9. It'll be maybe two missions per year, so forget about rapid booster reuse milestones, and it's possible that some of these station proposals (if selected) will use Dragon for their entire lifetimes. SpaceX will probably want to stockpile as many F9 upper stages as they can and have enough to ride out however long the CLD era might last. Maybe, once Starship crew launch/reentry is NASA human-rated, SpaceX could develop a Dragon Lifeboat Edition certified for several years of docked mission endurance to reduce or eliminate additional F9/Dragon launches.

 

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