Author Topic: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence  (Read 13894 times)

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« on: 10/18/2023 06:51 pm »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.

Offline DanClemmensen

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5286
  • Earth (currently)
  • Liked: 4137
  • Likes Given: 1661
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #1 on: 10/18/2023 09:44 pm »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.
Is there any possibility that ULA, or BO, or both, might do some of these things?

Could several launch companies do some of this collectively through commercial third parties?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #2 on: 10/18/2023 11:22 pm »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.
Is there any possibility that ULA, or BO, or both, might do some of these things?

Could several launch companies do some of this collectively through commercial third parties?

No reason too.  Others let the range do it because they didn't have the flight rate to support it.

Offline DanClemmensen

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5286
  • Earth (currently)
  • Liked: 4137
  • Likes Given: 1661
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #3 on: 10/18/2023 11:35 pm »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.
Is there any possibility that ULA, or BO, or both, might do some of these things?

Could several launch companies do some of this collectively through commercial third parties?

No reason too.  Others let the range do it because they didn't have the flight rate to support it.
Understood: that's why they have not yet done this. I was thinking about the aspirations of these companies and their claims that their rates would be increasing.

If at some point the range personnel become overburdened by the total load (mostly SpaceX) even though SpaceX is trying to reduce the per-flight burden on the range, it seems the other users should step up.

Offline AmigaClone

Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #4 on: 10/19/2023 12:08 am »
It's my understanding that AFTS is mandatory for all current and future orbital launch vehicles launched from the ER with the possible exception of the Atlas V and the Delta IV Heavy.

I also suspect that both ULA and BO have long range imaging equipment.


Offline LouScheffer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3355
  • Liked: 6043
  • Likes Given: 819
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #5 on: 10/19/2023 01:49 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers.  We are a long way from having simultaneous launches.  One facility with redundant trackers would seem able to support all users.  For telemetry, one set of redundant antennas would be similarly sufficient, but only if the data formats are sufficiently standardized.  This is currently the case for deep space probes (standards allow any facility to receive any probe's telemetry) but I don't know about rockets.

Also, as flight rates increase it might make sense to change the range from "clear on launch dates", to a more airport-like model, where the airspace (and sea space) are by default closed, but you can ask for permission to cross it.   Keeping it clear, and granting permission to cross, would be the responsibility of the range (as it is for airports today).

Offline DanClemmensen

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5286
  • Earth (currently)
  • Liked: 4137
  • Likes Given: 1661
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #6 on: 10/19/2023 02:07 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.

Online steveleach

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2131
  • Liked: 2716
  • Likes Given: 950
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #7 on: 10/19/2023 07:29 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.
I suspect it is all about removing external dependencies, and being in control of their own destiny. When I'm planning work with a team, I'll often spend more to have the team do it themselves than it would cost to have someone outside the team do it, purely because that way I know it will be done when it is needed.

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12078
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 18012
  • Likes Given: 12030
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #8 on: 10/19/2023 08:27 am »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.


All smart things to do. Minimize whatever involvement there needs to be from government organizations and do as much as possible yourself. SpaceX knows that they can do things many times more efficient AND cheaper AND faster than government organizations can. Consolidating multiple facilities and sites into one super site fits their MO as well. Vertical integration at its finest.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2023 08:31 am by woods170 »

Offline woods170

  • IRAS fan
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12078
  • IRAS fan
  • The Netherlands
  • Liked: 18012
  • Likes Given: 12030
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #9 on: 10/19/2023 08:34 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers.  We are a long way from having simultaneous launches.  One facility with redundant trackers would seem able to support all users. <snip>

Not as long as that facility is basically run by US government organizations, which are notorious for being slow to adapt to change.

I can very much understand why SpaceX chose to have its own set of long range trackers.

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5958
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9103
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #10 on: 10/19/2023 10:10 am »
These are the items that helped SpaceX achieve a higher launch cadence wrt outside organizations.
AFTS - this requires no range assets.
They have their own launch area telemetry sites.  No need to use TEL-IV.  And they shipped the vehicle state vector and health to the range.
They have their own long range imaging equipment
They have their own meteorologist for long range forecasting
Encapsulation to launch is 24hr ops
They have their own ocean surveillance radars and charter a clearance helicopter.  The Coast Guard works with them on certifying a clear range.
They minimize comm nodes with the range and use direct fiber or NASA  (and only certain NASA organizations) when possible.
They are consolidating sites to the Roberts road area.  Shutting down outlying facilities like Spacehab SPPF, LCC at CCSFS entrance, Hangar AO, LC39 LCC FR4, etc.  Moving  Starlink and some Dragon ops to Roberts road. 

basically minimize interfaces when possible.
I wonder if there is a (public) timeline of when these insourcing decisions were made/implemented. AFTS, own camera heads, own telemetry links, own meteorology gear, own RADAR and range chopper, were all definitely implemented well after the first F9 launch. Encapsulation scheduling I'd be pretty confidant was also not 24h from day one, interfacing with other agencies is constantly changing, and site consolidation is still ongoing.
AFTS at least we can pin a date on: CRS-10 in 2017

Online niwax

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1421
  • Germany
    • SpaceX Booster List
  • Liked: 2033
  • Likes Given: 166
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #11 on: 10/19/2023 11:03 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers.  We are a long way from having simultaneous launches.  One facility with redundant trackers would seem able to support all users.  For telemetry, one set of redundant antennas would be similarly sufficient, but only if the data formats are sufficiently standardized.  This is currently the case for deep space probes (standards allow any facility to receive any probe's telemetry) but I don't know about rockets.

IIRC it could take very long to reconfigure those assets, with manually shuffling tapes of data, certainly before the latest upgrades. Combine that with a high priority national security Delta sitting on the pad next door requesting a launch opportunity every evening for the next month, you just have to sit it out since they can't quickly reconfigure the system to give you a morning slot inbetween.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5398
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1778
  • Likes Given: 1281
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #12 on: 10/19/2023 11:45 am »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.
However the logical outcome of your queries in using a single shared launch support service is to pay SpaceX. Since they already have established the support service. Which Blue Origin will have issues with due to their no SpaceX policy. The other launch providers will probably be willing to pay SpaceX for the support service.

Offline edzieba

  • Virtual Realist
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5958
  • United Kingdom
  • Liked: 9103
  • Likes Given: 38
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #13 on: 10/19/2023 12:38 pm »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.
However the logical outcome of your queries in using a single shared launch support service is to pay SpaceX. Since they already have established the support service. Which Blue Origin will have issues with due to their no SpaceX policy. The other launch providers will probably be willing to pay SpaceX for the support service.
That assumes:
1) That SpaceX is literally capable of providing any service (i.e. the 'support services' department is sufficiently divorced from the rest of SpaceX operations to operate independently of the rest of SpaceX's operations)
2) That SpaceX is capable of providing the services other launch providers need (there is no guarantee the requirement of Falcon 9 are a superset of the requirements of all other launchers, and that is really rather unlikely to be the case)
3) That even if SpaceX is - or could change themselves to be - capable of offering a service, that they would be interested in offering a commercial service

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #14 on: 10/19/2023 12:57 pm »

I also suspect that both ULA and BO have long range imaging equipment.



Not ULA

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #15 on: 10/19/2023 12:59 pm »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers.  We are a long way from having simultaneous launches.  One facility with redundant trackers would seem able to support all users.  For telemetry, one set of redundant antennas would be similarly sufficient, but only if the data formats are sufficiently standardized.  This is currently the case for deep space probes (standards allow any facility to receive any probe's telemetry) but I don't know about rockets.


To avoid having a range interface and a dependency

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #16 on: 10/19/2023 01:02 pm »
]I wonder if there is a (public) timeline of when these insourcing decisions were made/implemented. AFTS, own camera heads, own telemetry links

This was early on in the program, years ago


own meteorology gear, own RADAR and range chopper, were all definitely implemented well after the first F9 launch. 


Likely after the cruise ship incident.   Also they broadcast warnings on marine channels and AIS.


Encapsulation scheduling I'd be pretty confidant was also not 24h from day one,


within the first 20 missions.  It causes some of the smaller payload organizations issues because they have small teams and have issues staffing around the clock.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2023 01:05 pm by Jim »

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 37365
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 21276
  • Likes Given: 428
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #17 on: 10/19/2023 01:07 pm »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.
However the logical outcome of your queries in using a single shared launch support service is to pay SpaceX. Since they already have established the support service. Which Blue Origin will have issues with due to their no SpaceX policy. The other launch providers will probably be willing to pay SpaceX for the support service.


Doubt SpaceX will offer them up.  They need the flexibility.

also, SpaceX is reducing their comm footprint to only their facilities and trying to reducing outside interfaces, like having only one gov't interface and then let the gov't do the sharing amongst itself.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2023 01:09 pm by Jim »

Offline DanClemmensen

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5286
  • Earth (currently)
  • Liked: 4137
  • Likes Given: 1661
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #18 on: 10/19/2023 02:50 pm »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers.  We are a long way from having simultaneous launches.  One facility with redundant trackers would seem able to support all users.  For telemetry, one set of redundant antennas would be similarly sufficient, but only if the data formats are sufficiently standardized.  This is currently the case for deep space probes (standards allow any facility to receive any probe's telemetry) but I don't know about rockets.

IIRC it could take very long to reconfigure those assets, with manually shuffling tapes of data, certainly before the latest upgrades. Combine that with a high priority national security Delta sitting on the pad next door requesting a launch opportunity every evening for the next month, you just have to sit it out since they can't quickly reconfigure the system to give you a morning slot inbetween.
Ouch. That would have been state-of-the-art in 1970. Up until recently, there was no particular reason to change this, but if is now actually delaying launches and reducing the yearly launch rate, it is costing the launch companies real money, and the launch companies have incentive to upgrade the system or use a commercial system if the range does not have the budget to do it. I have no idea how this would work, but Jim says that SpaceX did it, there must be an administrative mechanism they can use.

Offline Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5398
  • Canada
  • Liked: 1778
  • Likes Given: 1281
Re: SpaceX ER "Improvements" and Launch Cadence
« Reply #19 on: 10/19/2023 03:13 pm »
It's not clear to me why each company needs its own long-range trackers. 
[. . .]
Me either, but Jim called it out. My guess is that it works as a way to augment the Range's capabilities and reduce their workload without increasing the budget. That's why I asked about sharing the cost of some single separate commercially-operated faciltities.
However the logical outcome of your queries in using a single shared launch support service is to pay SpaceX. Since they already have established the support service. Which Blue Origin will have issues with due to their no SpaceX policy. The other launch providers will probably be willing to pay SpaceX for the support service.


Doubt SpaceX will offer them up.  They need the flexibility.

also, SpaceX is reducing their comm footprint to only their facilities and trying to reducing outside interfaces, like having only one gov't interface and then let the gov't do the sharing amongst itself.
Think SpaceX should offer launch support service to other launch providers to help them launch on schedule. Since a scrub by another launch provider due to range infrastructure deficiencies will delay SpaceX's own launches.

Tags:
 

Advertisement NovaTech
Advertisement Northrop Grumman
Advertisement
Advertisement Margaritaville Beach Resort South Padre Island
Advertisement Brady Kenniston
Advertisement NextSpaceflight
Advertisement Nathan Barker Photography
1