Author Topic: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?  (Read 49288 times)

Offline John Alan

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What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« on: 05/07/2017 06:17 pm »
I did a search... found no discussion with an answer...  ???

SO... my question is

What if any development and parts sourcing  would be needed to put X-37B on Falcon 9 and launch it?

How much of the stuff used on the Atlas 501 setup would transfer over... what requires redo??

Just really curious...  ;)

On edit... Link to Wikipedia on payload
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37

Edit/Lar: see also https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43088 which is about the first mission rather than tech requirements.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2017 09:49 pm by Lar »

Offline Flying Beaver

Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #1 on: 05/07/2017 06:44 pm »
It'll fit.
Just mount and fly.

(Picture is fully to scale)
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 07:07 pm by Flying Beaver »
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Offline John Alan

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #2 on: 05/07/2017 06:54 pm »
That scaled drawing is great FB....  8)

I'm thinking it MAY need some slight fairing bulges added to clear the wingtips... which are off center-line a bit...   :P

Otherwise... at about 5000kg... The weight is not an issue...  :)
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 07:01 pm by John Alan »

Offline AncientU

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #3 on: 05/07/2017 07:00 pm »
That scaled drawing is great FB....  8)

I'm thinking it MAY need some slight fairing bulges added to clear the wingtips... which are off center-line a bit...   :P

Why?
Currently fits in a standard 5m fairing.
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Offline ZachS09

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #4 on: 05/07/2017 07:06 pm »
The Atlas V 5-meter fairing is actually 5.4 meters in diameter, compared to Falcon 9's 5.2-meter fairing.

This is why they chose Atlas V because of the roomier fairing.
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Offline Flying Beaver

Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #5 on: 05/07/2017 07:07 pm »
That scaled drawing is great FB....  8)

I'm thinking it MAY need some slight fairing bulges added to clear the wingtips... which are off center-line a bit...   :P

The F9 fairing actually has a (slightly) larger internal radius, 4.6m, to 4.57m (15ft) for the Atlas V.

Fixed the placement. I was going off the body flap, which seems to be off centre now I look closer.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 07:07 pm by Flying Beaver »
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Offline John Alan

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #6 on: 05/07/2017 07:11 pm »
I noticed the SpaceX fairing is tighter... the ULA is slightly larger smaller...  ???
I may be in error on that... AND I was (corrected)

However...
Listed X-37B wingspan (wiki source above) is 4.55m tip to tip
Fairing (SpX user guide source of pic) is 4.6m ID

Move the wing off center line much (as mounted)... and it will get tight...

Hence my "Bulge comment" as a fix... only enough to clearance it....  :)
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 07:21 pm by John Alan »

Offline intrepidpursuit

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #7 on: 05/07/2017 07:16 pm »
I suspect that Boeing having stake in ULA has something to do with why this has never been discussed. If it saves them a few dollars but costs them revenue then there is really no reason to do it. Especially assuming this is a cost plus contract. I'm surprised they are not putting it on a Delta IV.

Offline Flying Beaver

Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #8 on: 05/07/2017 07:18 pm »
4.57m for Atlas. Outer doesn't mean a thing.
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Offline John Alan

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #9 on: 05/07/2017 07:26 pm »
Nice to get the fairing comparison on one page... for future reference... 

SO... It will fit... it can lift it easily...
Let SpaceX bid to launch it...   8)

On edit...
This is an AF/DOD/NRO project after all and not just ULA/Boeing picking launchers...  ;)
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 07:33 pm by John Alan »

Offline yokem55

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #10 on: 05/07/2017 07:33 pm »
It may need vertical integration. Yes it can land horizontally, but that's after mission completion.

Offline intrepidpursuit

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #11 on: 05/07/2017 07:38 pm »
Nice to get the fairing comparison on one page... for future reference... 

SO... It will fit... it can lift it easily...
Let SpaceX bid to launch it...   8)

On edit...
This is an AF/DOD/NRO project after all and not just ULA/Boeing picking launchers...  ;)

Is it a single contract to Boeing for the craft and the launch vehicle or are they two or more separate contracts? If there are separate contracts then sure. Hopefully the AF will gain confidence in F9 moving forward now that NROL-76 is out of the way.

Offline Nomadd

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #12 on: 05/07/2017 08:04 pm »
The Atlas V 5-meter fairing is actually 5.4 meters in diameter, compared to Falcon 9's 5.2-meter fairing.

This is why they chose Atlas V because of the roomier fairing.
Other way around. They chose the wingspan because of the fairing size.
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Offline John Alan

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #13 on: 05/07/2017 08:27 pm »
It may need vertical integration. Yes it can land horizontally, but that's after mission completion.

After much Google-Foo searching... I found nothing public on that key question you posed...

On edit
It currently is vertically integrated (it seems) on Atlas 501... but that is ULA's practice with that system...
end edit

SO...
Either SpaceX will have to get 39A fixed up to allow vertical integration capability...  as promised (TBD)
OR...
It can do horizontal... either as is... or with mods (likely heavier) to the payload adapter and/or X-37B itself...

I guess we may never know...  :P
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 08:33 pm by John Alan »

Offline smfarmer11

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #14 on: 05/07/2017 09:16 pm »
Didn't they choose the wingspan so that it would fit inside the payload bay of the shuttle?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #15 on: 05/07/2017 09:50 pm »
Didn't they choose the wingspan so that it would fit inside the payload bay of the shuttle?

After the DoD took over the program in 2004 they never would have wanted to depend on the Shuttle for launch services, so I would imagine they knew when they took over the program they knew they could launch it on either an Atlas or Delta.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 09:51 pm by Coastal Ron »
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Offline Mike_1179

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #16 on: 05/08/2017 06:11 pm »

OR...

It can do horizontal... either as is... or with mods (likely heavier) to the payload adapter and/or X-37B itself...


Unless it's the payload inside the X-37 that requires vertical integration.

This really is a matryoshka doll; a payload inside a payload bay inside a payload fairing.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #17 on: 05/08/2017 06:48 pm »
Didn't they choose the wingspan so that it would fit inside the payload bay of the shuttle?

My understanding is that the dimensions of the craft were frozen before changing launchers from STS to Delta II, no payload fairing.  Or, the USAF chose not to change the dimensions, even though Shuttle was no longer the launcher.

(The launcher was then changed again from Delta II to EELV, with payload fairing.)

I also >think< I remember one of our NSF experts stating that a Delta IV Medium could be used to launch an X-37B, but it was chosen against because of greater cost?

EDIT: On Gunter's Space Page, the alternate launch vehicle is stated to be Delta IV-M+(5,2).
« Last Edit: 05/08/2017 07:18 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline baldusi

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #18 on: 05/10/2017 02:19 pm »
Industry standard internal fairing dynamic diameter is 4.55m~4.7m. This is why the X-37B had that diameter, STS, Atlas V, Delta IV all had this diameter. F9, H-IIA, Ariane V, VLM3 and LM-5 have that fairing size. So will Proton and Angara, eventually. And please understand that they quote the dynamic envelope. This means taking into account vibrations and internal sound suppressing material.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: What is needed to launch X-37B on Falcon 9?
« Reply #19 on: 05/10/2017 02:48 pm »
Purely FWIW, given that Falcon-9 is potentially a quick-reaction launcher (although in practice, that's some way off), I could see USAF at least looking to see if launching X37 on it is possible.
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