Author Topic: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion  (Read 586260 times)

Offline catdlr

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2420 on: 12/04/2023 07:27 pm »
It says "third flight". It does not say "ship 28".    SHIP 26 FOREVER!!!

Whichever ship it is, I do not think this can be done without actually going into a stable orbit. Not enough time.

This is exciting, I think they will have the time to complete this in less than 1 orbit. 

Depending on how much you're going to transfer this maybe a 10 or 20 min start to finish test.

May as well stack up the test objectives on these vehicles, while figuring out getting to orbit and trouble shooting that heat shield.
Perhaps, but I think they should start with the ship in a fairly quiescent state, to emulate a Depot. I'm not sure the ship and the tanks can reach equilibrium that fast. I don't think you get valid test until all those messy interactions between gas phase and liquid phase have stabilized. Then, the ship must do whatever it's designed to do to settle the liquid, generate appropriate ullage, etc, and this may require more time. Finally, they can perform the actual transfer. If they stay in orbit, they can continue to perform more transfers under different conditions to gather more data.

All good points, depends on what the test conditions are.  I was thinking if they just want to transfer a volume.

I agree if in a stable orbit they could do multiple tests over time and characterize behavior.  MY thought was to just get started, then add more complexity once they have a more reliable launch vehicle.  (which I don't think will be too far away)

I agree also. seems like they might need more than one orbit and perhaps why they plan to ditch the ship in the Indian Ocean instead.  Unless they have installed empty tanks for transferring liquid oxygen (Lox) and methane (Meth), do you think the first test could be as simple as drawing fuel from the Lox header tank, reversing the process, and refilling it? Ship 28 has been sitting at the rocket installation stand for a long time, and now we understand the reason why. However, we didn't see any additional tank installed in the payload area. That's why I conjecture that the fuel transfer demonstration could test the proposed fuel connection equipment inside the ship and utilize the header tank as the fuel transfer destination, at least for this initial round. They can then make it more robust in a later flight once they have analyzed the captured data to determine what worked and what didn't.
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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2421 on: 12/04/2023 07:32 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1731771334135291946

Quote
Video replay of today's NASEM meeting about NASA, with Hawkins' remarks beginning ~1:21:00

https://vimeo.com/event/3924129

Online eriblo

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2422 on: 12/04/2023 07:44 pm »
I personally have kind of been expecting a desire to demonstrate a Raptor ignition (or at least compatible conditions) in space before actually going fully orbital. Especially since the RCS might not be able to do a sufficiently targeted deorbit burn.

If they were to go orbital already on the next flight there would have to be a fair bit of confidence in their models and performance.

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2423 on: 12/04/2023 07:55 pm »

All good points, depends on what the test conditions are.  I was thinking if they just want to transfer a volume.

My guess is that they intend to fulfill their non-Artemis, non-HLS contract to do a fuel transfer demo for NASA, so they will meet the contractual requirements. It's not a huge amount of money, but revenue is revenue.
    https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/10/16/nasa-selects-companies-to-demonstrate-in-space-refueling-and-propellant-depot-tech/
Quote
An award to SpaceX worth $53.2 million will go toward a “large-scale flight demonstration to transfer 10 metric tons of cryogenic propellant, specifically liquid oxygen, between tanks on a Starship vehicle,” NASA said.

SpaceX’s Starship is designed to carry more than 100 metric tons of cargo to low Earth orbit. With the docking of a refueling tanker in Earth orbit, SpaceX could refill a Starship with methane and liquid oxygen propellants to fire off to more distant destinations, such as the moon or Mars.

SpaceX will collaborate with Glenn and Marshall on the Starship propellant transfer demo, NASA said.

“When we think about companies like SpaceX and the Starship, their architecture is heavily reliant on the ability to transfer cryogenics in low Earth orbit for the purpose of taking a system all the way to the moon,” Bridenstine said Wednesday. “Their system, in fact, doesn’t appear to require a fuel depot around the moon. Their system would require a fuel depot in orbit around the Earth.”
« Last Edit: 12/04/2023 07:57 pm by DanClemmensen »

Offline catdlr

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2424 on: 12/04/2023 09:13 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1731771334135291946

Quote
Video replay of today's NASEM meeting about NASA, with Hawkins' remarks beginning ~1:21:00

https://vimeo.com/event/3924129

To save us time, the Cryogenic Fluid Transfer Slide (presentation) comes at 2:51 by John DanKanich.  There are some milestones and dates on that slide (just in year date).
« Last Edit: 12/04/2023 09:14 pm by catdlr »
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Offline Yggdrasill

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2425 on: 12/05/2023 11:21 am »
I personally have kind of been expecting a desire to demonstrate a Raptor ignition (or at least compatible conditions) in space before actually going fully orbital. Especially since the RCS might not be able to do a sufficiently targeted deorbit burn.

If they were to go orbital already on the next flight there would have to be a fair bit of confidence in their models and performance.
The Raptor ignitions on IFT-2 Starship and Super Heavy at ~75 km altitude should derisk the models somewhat.

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2426 on: 12/05/2023 12:05 pm »
I personally have kind of been expecting a desire to demonstrate a Raptor ignition (or at least compatible conditions) in space before actually going fully orbital. Especially since the RCS might not be able to do a sufficiently targeted deorbit burn.

If they were to go orbital already on the next flight there would have to be a fair bit of confidence in their models and performance.
The Raptor ignitions on IFT-2 Starship and Super Heavy at ~75 km altitude should derisk the models somewhat.
I was thinking more about managing temperatures and pressures and propellant settling with mostly empty tanks during a prolonged coast in microgravity. Something that the initial ascent does not have a lot of commonality with (by design).

Offline martiantime

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2427 on: 12/05/2023 01:03 pm »
They might use header tanks for deorbit burn. Isn't this simpler than starting the engines from the main tanks, which requires settling the fuel and maintaining pressurization in a large volume?
In my humble opinion

Offline rsdavis9

Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2428 on: 12/05/2023 02:02 pm »
They might use header tanks for deorbit burn. Isn't this simpler than starting the engines from the main tanks, which requires settling the fuel and maintaining pressurization in a large volume?

Still have to settle the header tank. But much smaller volume requires a lot less pressurization.
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Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2429 on: 12/05/2023 02:20 pm »

All good points, depends on what the test conditions are.  I was thinking if they just want to transfer a volume.

My guess is that they intend to fulfill their non-Artemis, non-HLS contract to do a fuel transfer demo for NASA, so they will meet the contractual requirements. It's not a huge amount of money, but revenue is revenue.
    https://spaceflightnow.com/2020/10/16/nasa-selects-companies-to-demonstrate-in-space-refueling-and-propellant-depot-tech/
Quote
An award to SpaceX worth $53.2 million will go toward a “large-scale flight demonstration to transfer 10 metric tons of cryogenic propellant, specifically liquid oxygen, between tanks on a Starship vehicle,” NASA said.

SpaceX’s Starship is designed to carry more than 100 metric tons of cargo to low Earth orbit. With the docking of a refueling tanker in Earth orbit, SpaceX could refill a Starship with methane and liquid oxygen propellants to fire off to more distant destinations, such as the moon or Mars.

SpaceX will collaborate with Glenn and Marshall on the Starship propellant transfer demo, NASA said.

“When we think about companies like SpaceX and the Starship, their architecture is heavily reliant on the ability to transfer cryogenics in low Earth orbit for the purpose of taking a system all the way to the moon,” Bridenstine said Wednesday. “Their system, in fact, doesn’t appear to require a fuel depot around the moon. Their system would require a fuel depot in orbit around the Earth.”


Reading more about this last night, I agree with you.  Hard to do in one pass.
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Offline StraumliBlight

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2430 on: 12/05/2023 02:29 pm »
Reading more about this last night, I agree with you.  Hard to do in one pass.

This possibly outdated 2015 overview states there will be an orbit insertion.

Quote
• Demonstration conducted as part of a Starship flight
• Orbit insertion, header tank venting
• Coast phase (propellant settling, heating, boil-off rate and propellant stratification data collection)
• Active settling maneuver
• Autogenous pressurization and propellant transfer

Offline DanClemmensen

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2431 on: 12/05/2023 02:41 pm »
Reading more about this last night, I agree with you.  Hard to do in one pass.

This possibly outdated 2015 overview states there will be an orbit insertion.

Quote
• Demonstration conducted as part of a Starship flight
• Orbit insertion, header tank venting
• Coast phase (propellant settling, heating, boil-off rate and propellant stratification data collection)
• Active settling maneuver
• Autogenous pressurization and propellant transfer
Thanks!
When I click on the link, it indeed is a PDF with a name that implied it's from 2015. However, the document itself appears to be from Q1 FY 2021 2022, and it uses nomenclature (e.g., "Starship") that was not used in 2015. Look at page 11, and specifically at the timeline at the bottom.
« Last Edit: 12/05/2023 05:24 pm by DanClemmensen »

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2432 on: 12/05/2023 02:54 pm »
They might use header tanks for deorbit burn. Isn't this simpler than starting the engines from the main tanks, which requires settling the fuel and maintaining pressurization in a large volume?
Still have to settle the header tank. But much smaller volume requires a lot less pressurization.
With a well designed propellant sump and helium (or possibly nitrogen) pressurization in the headers they can avoid a lot of risk with regards to a deorbit burn. The problem is that the benefits of this approach would mostly be negated if you use the header for propellant transfer tests during flight.

It is worth noting that the S26 deorbit burn static fire test had plenty of LOX in and did a lot of interesting venting of the main tank (not conclusive as the headers were also loaded).

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2433 on: 12/05/2023 03:15 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1731771334135291946

Quote
Video replay of today's NASEM meeting about NASA, with Hawkins' remarks beginning ~1:21:00

https://vimeo.com/event/3924129

To save us time, the Cryogenic Fluid Transfer Slide (presentation) comes at 2:51 by John DanKanich.  There are some milestones and dates on that slide (just in year date).
BTW, Lakiesha Hawkins really seems to “get” SpaceX’s strategy to development. At 2:01:17, Lester Lyles kind of pushes back on her characterization of IFT-2 test as “completed” (given it was a /launch/ failure), and she responded explaining how SpaceX conducts development with a hardware-rich, iterative, test-then-fix approach and NASA HLS is embedded, lending NASA’s expertise for the investigation (to help SpaceX make continual progress on each test).
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Offline martiantime

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2434 on: 12/05/2023 04:45 pm »
Quote
• Demonstration conducted as part of a Starship flight
• Orbit insertion, header tank venting
• Coast phase (propellant settling, heating, boil-off rate and propellant stratification data collection)
• Active settling maneuver
• Autogenous pressurization and propellant transfer
Thank you, very interesting.
Does "header tank venting" mean that it will be depleted, and then there will be propellant transfer from the main tank to the header tank? As far as I understand, the engine will be fired, which allows to replenish an autogenous pressurization in the main tank, and then propellant will be squeezed into the header tank by this pressure.
In my humble opinion

Online TheRadicalModerate

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2435 on: 12/05/2023 08:53 pm »
I heard Dankanich mention "no-vent fill" into a warm tank on the call.  That would seem to indicate that they either think that the flash to gas during the chilldown phase won't overwhelm the pressure differential between the two tanks, or that they're planning on equalizing pressures  between the tanks and using a pump.

Offline alugobi

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2437 on: 12/07/2023 02:40 am »
Quote
• Demonstration conducted as part of a Starship flight
• Orbit insertion, header tank venting
• Coast phase (propellant settling, heating, boil-off rate and propellant stratification data collection)
• Active settling maneuver
• Autogenous pressurization and propellant transfer
Thank you, very interesting.
Does "header tank venting" mean that it will be depleted, and then there will be propellant transfer from the main tank to the header tank? As far as I understand, the engine will be fired, which allows to replenish an autogenous pressurization in the main tank, and then propellant will be squeezed into the header tank by this pressure.

A good reason to vent the header tank is to let it warm up.  They seem to be quite concerned--and rightly so--about flowing prop through warm plumbing, into warm tankage.  That's probably the primary test goal.  But watching large-scale venting behavior on both sides of the vent is probably pretty interesting as well.  Otherwise, they could just launch with an empty header tank and have done with it.

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2438 on: 01/18/2024 04:59 pm »
Potential cross-pollination?

Quote from: Joint Press Release
Historic Cryogenic Refueling Mission in Space!

January 15, 2024

Space Machines Company and Spaceium are thrilled to announce a groundbreaking partnership, set to embark on the first-ever cryogenic refueling mission in space in 2025. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for the future of the space industry.

Under this agreement, Spaceium will showcase its cutting-edge cryogenic storage capabilities on the Space Machines Company’s platform. Following this demonstration, Spaceium will refuel Space Machines Company spacecraft’s tank with cryogenic fuel using the stored reserves to highlight Spaceium’s refueling capability.

The implications of cryogenic refueling in space are monumental for the future of the space industry and exploration, as exemplified by the Artemis program. This pioneering mission sets the stage for a future of increased efficiency and innovation in space exploration, showcasing the immense benefits this partnership brings to the forefront of the space industry.

“We are thrilled to embark on this groundbreaking journey with Space Machines Company, setting the stage for a new era in space exploration. Together, we are not only demonstrating advanced cryogenic technology but also fueling the future possibilities of space exploration and technology.” Said Ashi Dissanayake, CEO of Spaceium.

“In-space refueling and servicing will change the economics of space infrastructure, with cryogenic refueling essential for earth missions and beyond. We are excited to be partnering with Spaceium to demonstrate these cutting edge capabilities on orbit.” said Mark Ramsey, COO of Space Machines Company.
« Last Edit: 01/18/2024 05:05 pm by LMT »

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: Starship On-orbit refueling - Options and Discussion
« Reply #2439 on: 01/19/2024 01:44 am »
Potential cross-pollination?

Quote from: Joint Press Release
Historic Cryogenic Refueling Mission in Space!

January 15, 2024

Space Machines Company and Spaceium are thrilled to announce a groundbreaking partnership, set to embark on the first-ever cryogenic refueling mission in space in 2025. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for the future of the space industry.

Under this agreement, Spaceium will showcase its cutting-edge cryogenic storage capabilities on the Space Machines Company’s platform. Following this demonstration, Spaceium will refuel Space Machines Company spacecraft’s tank with cryogenic fuel using the stored reserves to highlight Spaceium’s refueling capability.

The implications of cryogenic refueling in space are monumental for the future of the space industry and exploration, as exemplified by the Artemis program. This pioneering mission sets the stage for a future of increased efficiency and innovation in space exploration, showcasing the immense benefits this partnership brings to the forefront of the space industry.

“We are thrilled to embark on this groundbreaking journey with Space Machines Company, setting the stage for a new era in space exploration. Together, we are not only demonstrating advanced cryogenic technology but also fueling the future possibilities of space exploration and technology.” Said Ashi Dissanayake, CEO of Spaceium.

“In-space refueling and servicing will change the economics of space infrastructure, with cryogenic refueling essential for earth missions and beyond. We are excited to be partnering with Spaceium to demonstrate these cutting edge capabilities on orbit.” said Mark Ramsey, COO of Space Machines Company.
They just need Blue Origin to come on board to provide the Lawyers to Patent every possible way of in space cryogenic transfer refueling (whether there is prior art or not!). Ideally before SpaceX have actually demonstrated it - the race is on...
« Last Edit: 01/19/2024 01:45 am by DistantTemple »
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