Author Topic: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates  (Read 600273 times)

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1420 on: 01/09/2011 02:54 pm »
SpaceX has about 140 positions on their 'now hiring' pages.  Some of them relate to "configuration management" and Configuration analysis", a bunch of "quality engineer" and "quality engineering analyst" positions.  Many titles include words like "Integrator" or "Inspector".  There also seems to be a lot more "manager" positions than there used to. 
...
Extra overhead and oversight for ensuring things are done consistently across the board clearly adds a financial burden ($7-12M extra per year at a guess based on their available positions) .  Is this enough to effectively render and stabilize processes? 
There are a lot of technicians shifts for around the clock work.  Could they possibly get 5 F9's and 1 or more F1e in the sky in 2011 if they fill their roster soon?  Or is there no hope of that?

In production that is highly automated, you end up having a lot of QC analysts and inspectors.  I used to work at a local manufacturer that made aircraft brakes, and it was nothing for 2-3 production techs to keep 10 of us QC people hopping.  It's a way over simplicaiton, but they just loaded raw material and let the mills do their job, we where the ones that had to go over the parts with calipers and jigs for nearly an hour per part to make sure everyting came out right.

Even garden variety commercial aviation production is very QC heavy, what SpaceX is doing is going to be even more so. 
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Offline simcosmos

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1421 on: 01/09/2011 03:45 pm »
...
The important thing, for the moment, is the top of that spreadsheet, the propulsion numbers: I'm not sure if what I'm calling of 'block2' is still the current expectation or not. In the same way, I'm not sure if what I'm calling of 'block1' is or not close to the current development state of the engines (as used in the recent COTS demo1 flight).
...
Thanks,
António
When you use the terms block1, block2 etc. it seems like there are different engines.  And that may be the case.  However, it could also be that the engines are throttled back for redundancy sake.  (...)

Only for clarification, I'm also generically using the expressions 'block1' and 'block2' not only in reference to Merlin engine specs but also in what relates to other overall Falcon9 vehicle changes. Accordingly with the vehicle's Users Guide (v2009, page8, 2. Vehicle Overview):

“The initial flights of the Falcon 9, currently planned in 2009 and 2010, use the Falcon 9 Block 1. Beginning in late 2010/early 2011, SpaceX will begin launching the Falcon 9 Block 2. Block 2 features increased engine thrust, decreased launch vehicle dry mass, and increased propellant load ‐ combined with lessons learned from the flights of the Falcon 9 Block 1. This results in increased mass‐to‐orbit performance for the Falcon 9 Block 2 when compared with Block 1 performance. This performance is shown in the Falcon 9 performance tables presented later in this document.”

One of the reasons why it is challenging to try to make a virtual reconstruction of the COTS Demo1 flight (or when trying to extrapolate / check expected performances for other configurations) is the lack of complete and clear data sets.

In some areas there is almost everything available but then there is that little detail missing (or detail comparison which raises extra questions), on other areas the number of things that need to be extrapolated starts to increase... In order to have some kind of rough guess it is necessary to gather all available data, play a little with it on something like a spreadsheet and then use that work as a departure point for simulation work (which, by itself, is yet another departure point for eventual extra questions / comments).

As noted on a past post, this is all comprehensible given the heavy development phase going on at SpaceX (not only around 'basic' delivery capabilities but also around stuff such as stages recovery studies, Dragon for cargo and also aiming for crewed flights, etc) and given some natural delay in updating available public materials (or even given the eventual wish to protect information).

The above means that it is sometimes challenging to have a clear perception (I mean, with a little more detail) about where SpaceX is in its development goals (although some extra information might be possible to be extracted when looking at some images or when analysing the ascent videos and when comparing post-mission reports with selected materials available in press kits or the vehicle Users Guide, etc).



To end, and only for completeness, here goes another screenshot (will attach it soon) of my Excel book about Falcon9-Dragon (created a fresh page just for the preliminary Falcon9 Propulsion related 'brainstorm'). The objective is to try to find some coherency (in lack of better word) between available public data and my interpretation of such data (interpretation which might be incorrect, data which might be outdated, etc  – the readers please feel free to provide further input / corrections - but I guess that it might be as good as any other starting point, at least it is for my own informal study / curiosity intentions :) ).

Thanks,
António


EDIT: Despite I do not specially like to provide elements without further context, I will not explain much of what is going on at that sheet: the more informed reader might probably generically understand what is the 'objective' anyway but please have in mind that this is just and only very informal quick 'playtime' (to study numerical inputs to be used on eventual future / more detailed – needing extra work + time dedication - simulation work, when possible).

I'm then sharing this updated version in order to provide a little more context (although without writing text that might be required to explain some of the information presented). It would be nice to have extra details about what were / are the Merlin changes assumed to be for the several Falcon vehicles (Falcon1 vs 1e, Falcon9 'block1' vs 'block2'... I assume that the Heavy would use engines as in 'block2'). Meanwhile, when/if possible I will continue to (slowly) play with the numbers / simulation and see what questions the virtual results might raise.

Ok, here goes the gif:
« Last Edit: 01/09/2011 04:18 pm by simcosmos »
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Offline kraisee

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1422 on: 01/09/2011 04:38 pm »
Seems there is a lot of process engineering bickering going on about Spacex. Just reminder that Nasa HSF is not immune from process failure...

SpaceX has about 140 positions on their 'now hiring' pages.  Some of them relate to "configuration management" and Configuration analysis", a bunch of "quality engineer" and "quality engineering analyst" positions.  Many titles include words like "Integrator" or "Inspector".  There also seems to be a lot more "manager" positions than there used to. 

Causes?

I'm going to speculate, based on talking with a senior exec from another organization, USA.   They essentially have two 'sides' to their organization:

The first is an efficiently run corporate structure that gets the work most of the necessary done on a daily basis.

The second is essentially a mirror-image of the customer's (NASA) structure, with engineers and managers at every level that the customer wants to interface at.

I'm guessing that Space-X is in the process of making a similar 'Front Office' for their NASA, and perhaps DoD, customers.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2011 04:38 pm by kraisee »
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Offline Antares

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1423 on: 01/09/2011 07:40 pm »
I think that's fair to say in the case of USA, where it's a cost-plus contract.  But I think it's a less certain speculation for other business models.  In the few data points I have, there are some positions that are unique to dealing with government, but most of the customer interfaces are the ones getting the daily work done.  Granted, answering questions or collaborating on reviews takes time away from that.  To some extent as well, SpaceX is probably finding as it grows, it needs some dedicated "overhead" positions for stuff like scheduling and CM that are the glue and grease in larger organizations.  It was easy to communicate when they were a couple hundred, not so much in growing past a thousand.  Glue and grease are probably good metaphors because, if used improperly, they have the opposite effect on efficiency.
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Offline starsilk

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1424 on: 01/10/2011 06:13 pm »
Wowza media server was apparently running the online video of the COTS-1 demo:

http://www.benzinga.com/press-releases/11/01/p765086/wowza-media-server-2-plays-important-role-in-first-ever-commercial-spac

not sure whether that's a good recommendation or not, given the number of complaints of freezing / breakup, etc (which to be fair is presumably a capacity thing, rather than the server software)

Offline mr. mark

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1425 on: 01/10/2011 07:44 pm »
Could we move engine performance studies to it's own thread. This thread is for more generic updates, not performance studies. I'm sure once that has it's own thread many people would like to review the data and participate in the discussion.

Offline simonbp

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1426 on: 01/11/2011 01:25 am »
I'm going to speculate, based on talking with a senior exec from another organization, USA.   They essentially have two 'sides' to their organization:

The first is an efficiently run corporate structure that gets the work most of the necessary done on a daily basis.

The second is essentially a mirror-image of the customer's (NASA) structure, with engineers and managers at every level that the customer wants to interface at.

I'm guessing that Space-X is in the process of making a similar 'Front Office' for their NASA, and perhaps DoD, customers.

They are probably expanding for the USG contracts, but I think the recent expansion has more to do with SpaceX maturing as a company. Years ago, the design engineers were the test engineers were the launch crews. That works when you launch one rocket a year of a single, very simple type. But in 2010, launching two Falcon 9s and two near-full Dragons probably pushed their staff to the limit. To achieve the flight rate they hope for in the manifest, they likely need a lot more people on the operations and manufacturing side than they have now...
« Last Edit: 01/11/2011 01:26 am by simonbp »

Offline simcosmos

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1427 on: 01/11/2011 05:08 pm »
Could we move engine performance studies to it's own thread. This thread is for more generic updates, not performance studies. I'm sure once that has it's own thread many people would like to review the data and participate in the discussion.

Thanks, mr. mark: I partially agree that it might be better to dedicate a separated thread about "engine performance studies" or, more generically, about attempts to virtually reconstruct the Falcon9-Dragon COTS Demo1 flight (which is something that takes time to prepare and document if the wish is to have any meaningful starting point for discussion). On another hand, I do not think that the topic of engine performance is totally off-topic for the current thread's subject...


In any case, I will stop my participation in this specific thread but, before doing so and only as loose examples, would like to write that these would be the kind of updates / discussion that I would really love to read about, topics which on my humble opinion, are not off-topic for a thread called 'SpaceX COTS Demo1 Updates' (and given that the mission has already happened):

- what was the total vehicle mass (Falcon9+Dragon)?
- in particular, what was the propellant load and the empty mass of each stage at T-0?
- what were the performance specs of the Merlin engines used on such flight?
- what was the impact of the trimmed nozzle on upper stage engine specs?
- was the upper stage engine always at 100% thrust mode?
- how far are engine specs on COTS demo1 from the 'block2' goals assumed on v2009 of SpaceX's F9 Users Guide documentation?
- what was the maximum dynamic pressure? and what were the maximum accelerations?
- what was the apogee reached by the first stage?
- what kind of additional mass impact (or other 'tweaks') might be required to recover the first stage?
- what was the payload mass breakout of such flight? (trunk + cubesats + capsule + capsule prop. + internal 'payload' + nose aerocover)
- what is the current ISP of Draco engines?
- and how about a number of other details related with the payload, capsule orbital procedures / reentry?


As far as I'm aware (please someone feel free to correct) what is known until now are orbital parameters for the first injection and also for after the second upper stage burn, some details about the cubesats and one or another scattered pieces of information about the Dragon capsule orbital operations, deorbit, reentry and recovery (but all very generic)... 


A number of hints about the COTS Demo1 ascent trajectory (burn(s) durations, altitude vs velocity vs MET calls) can be directly extracted – with more or less effort - from the lift-off / ascent / orbital videos... 

As to several other details of the vehicles and mission (answers to all the above questions), some 'things' can be extrapolated when crossing information from the available videos + images with other written materials and with known details, for example, when looking at the engine's ignition procedure, the time the vehicle used to clear the pad... Less evident information can perhaps be extracted when analyzing internal / external camera views and which might help, as another example (of many), with pitch profile extrapolation (again, when crossing with other information)... and this only about the launcher part (there are also several 'hints' about Dragon...).

These 'hints' – together with number crunching and simulation work refinement for a given set of assumption 'families' - might help to at least constraint eventual answers extrapolations to several of  the questions that have made above – thus probably allowing a better perception of what was achieved on the mission -  and might also help to anticipate the upcoming demo flights. This is what I have tried to do and that partially shared (just a little) in this thread (due, among other reasons, because either this seemed a partially indicated thread for some of what I shared or due to time limitations to open a fresh thread to write more elaborated texts), at least until there is no further official information... As a side note, this kind of exercises could also partially help reporters on questions formulations.


But ok: maybe better to reserve this thread for official SpaceX COTS Demo1 updates (if / when a post-mission official document review is released?) and keep musings based on currently available mission materials / results to other specific thread (if posting such musings at all, within availability possibilities) although, if that is to be the direction of this thread, other kind of extrapolations or interpretations (not only future but also on other past posts of all these 96 pages, since the thread was created or in similar threads) might also be kind of considered off-topic discussion  8).

Cheers,
António
(back to lurker mode)
« Last Edit: 01/11/2011 05:14 pm by simcosmos »
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Offline starsilk

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1428 on: 01/11/2011 05:55 pm »
Planetary Radio has an interview with Jeff Richichi, SpaceX director of structural engineering, talking about the COTS-1 flight.

http://www.planetary.org/radio/show/00000427/

(SpaceX part starts at 6:20, runs to 21:35)

a few interesting things:

* the only failure AT ALL on the mission was a temperature sensor that died (not a critical one, those are triple redundant) - 8:20 in the audio

* COTS-1 Dragon is being slowly disassembled and analyzed, from the way it looks at the moment they could stick it right back on another F9 and fly it again.

* LED lighting in the Dragon, low power, very long life time (reusability)

* SpaceX makes its own thermal blankets etc, has in house team of seamstresses (is there a 'gender neutral' version of that name?)

* might be making their own spacesuits in the future.. not sure if that was just an off-the-cuff remark.



Offline Lars_J

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1429 on: 01/11/2011 07:56 pm »
Thanks for the link to the interview!

According to Richichi, only a temperature sensor failed.

SO... I have to ask again (as I have in the past) - What was the source for Chris Bergin's assertion about a Draco failing?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1430 on: 01/11/2011 09:07 pm »
Thanks for the link to the interview!

According to Richichi, only a temperature sensor failed.

SO... I have to ask again (as I have in the past) - What was the source for Chris Bergin's assertion about a Draco failing?
I heard it on the audio, too. Could've been a misinterpretation, or perhaps the temperature sensor was on a Draco (thus causing the initial appearance of a Draco failure).
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Offline starsilk

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1431 on: 01/11/2011 09:51 pm »
Thanks for the link to the interview!

According to Richichi, only a temperature sensor failed.

SO... I have to ask again (as I have in the past) - What was the source for Chris Bergin's assertion about a Draco failing?
I heard it on the audio, too. Could've been a misinterpretation, or perhaps the temperature sensor was on a Draco (thus causing the initial appearance of a Draco failure).

he says in the interview something like: "it was just an area sensor" or "just to figure out what temperature this space got to" (can't remember the exact words..), but it definitely sounded like an unimportant sensor.. which I wouldn't equate to something to causes someone to announce that a Draco had failed.

Offline ugordan

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1432 on: 01/11/2011 09:55 pm »
which I wouldn't equate to something to causes someone to announce that a Draco had failed.

FWIW, the wording on the original L2 update never explicitly stated failure. It said 17 out of 18 Dracos were working. In a different context that could I guess have been taken as "Draco checkout in progress, 17 so far verified OK". Then again, someone else on the public section also said one Draco did fail so there you have it. Certainly neither confirmed nor denied by SpaceX.

Offline go4mars

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1433 on: 01/11/2011 10:33 pm »
Certainly neither confirmed nor denied by SpaceX.

Except when Elon said in the post-splashdown press conference that all 18 dracos worked perfectly. 
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1434 on: 01/11/2011 10:57 pm »
 Is it possible that 1 Draco isn't meant to be used unless another one fails, or they only light all 18 in unusual or high payload circumstances? Could account for the comments.
« Last Edit: 01/11/2011 10:58 pm by Nomadd »
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Offline Lars_J

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1435 on: 01/12/2011 12:15 am »
Then again, someone else on the public section also said one Draco did fail so there you have it. Certainly neither confirmed nor denied by SpaceX.

How in the world do you read "All engines/dracos worked" (by Elon) or "only a temperature sensor failed" (by Richichi) as anything but a denial?

I'm not ruling it out - perhaps SpaceX could cover it up. But if the L2 source is as ambiguous as some claim (I do not have L2 access so I cannot verify), I would say that the burden of proof is on the person who claims that a thruster failure occurred.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2011 12:27 am by Lars_J »

Offline mr. mark

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1436 on: 01/12/2011 12:59 am »
Lars_J, I have to agree. Seems no one said anything about it except here and we are not sure who. There's not much proof in that. It's probably best to leave the speculation alone until someone can come up with a concrete source.

Offline tigerade

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1437 on: 01/12/2011 01:56 am »
Is it possible that all 18 Draco's did work perfectly, and the actual report about a Draco failing was in error?

I just don't think they would deny a Draco failing if that happened, it's not their style.  Besides, they can lose any two Draco's is in mission and still be successful (depending on their position).  I would like the confusion to be cleared up.  But right now I don't believe there is a cover-up.

Offline iamlucky13

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1438 on: 01/12/2011 02:10 am »
* the only failure AT ALL on the mission was a temperature sensor that died (not a critical one, those are triple redundant) - 8:20 in the audio


*ahem* I think he means, the only failure on the vehicle.

I'm still a little curious about the kerosene disconnect and the arm that fell off the tower.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2011 02:11 am by iamlucky13 »

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX COTS Demo 1 Updates
« Reply #1439 on: 01/12/2011 02:18 am »
It stuck. What's to do but find out why and fix it for next time? My guess is this can't be done without examining the still-earthbound pieces for imprpper marks or malfunction. We sure can't do that by skulling.
« Last Edit: 01/12/2011 02:33 am by docmordrid »
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