Author Topic: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)  (Read 263935 times)

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #660 on: 11/29/2023 04:28 pm »
SpaceX acquires parachute maker, Pioneer Aerospace, for $2.2 Million.
Pioneer Aerospace Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2023.

Pioneer manufactures the drogues for Dragon [1].
Airborne manufactures the mains [2].

Expensive purchase for an engineering evolutionary dead branch, but likely cheaper than recertifying a new manufacturer.

Pretty interesting purchase. I wonder if they'll just hang on to them for as long as Dragon is flying and then spin down the business once Dragon is retired. I hadn't heard of them before, but Wikipedia says they worked on a bunch of NASA missions so I wonder if SpaceX will continue that business. SpaceX doesn't work as a non-prime contractor much AFAIK.

I'm kind of confused what's going on though, as Wikipedia says they were bought by Zodiac back in the 1980s and then Safran bought Zodiac in 2018. So did Pioneer get spun out as a separate company again at some point? I'm not sure how a business subdivision can go bankrupt.

Edit: Apparently Aviation Safety Resources bought Pioneer from Safran in 2022. So again, how exactly is it bankrupt? Did Aviation Safety Resources go bankrupt? If it did, is SpaceX only buying the Pioneer portion?
SpaceX
Quote
"... then spin down the business once Dragon is retired"
!!!! Really!
1) A quick read of the linked document and Wikipedia indicates it would be a shocking loss to the space industry. It sounds as if they are pretty much the sole provider of parachute systems to the space industry. therefore there is no one to step in with the knowledge and experience to provide those services. Also this bank of skill and experience will likely be fragmented and lost. Obviously companies could snap up key employees or acquire intellectual property, so ALL is not lost.
2) Why are they bankrupt? Bad business model / bad financial management / loaded with debt from a previous owner / specific financial problems with specific contracts?
In this vein has SpaceX squeezed their prices, or extracted months of additional development, (there were ongoing developments and testing, and no immediate 100% success with Crew Dragon) without additional payments? Is this even a desired outcome of SX, to get them in-house, so they cannot be a risk as an external supplier anymore? (and avoid the risk of them collapsing or being sold to an unhappy competitor) All just guesses and questions, on my part.
I can imagine EM being outraged at the price of "aerospace parachutes" compared with commercial, or recreational ones, and thinking its yet another industry ripe for turning on its head !!!
3) Who else currently needs their services? Blue? ...
4) Do they make the parasails(or whatever) that the fairing sections use?
5) $2.2M is peanuts! I'd bet SX have spent that on their own contracts with pioneer. 
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #661 on: 11/29/2023 05:04 pm »
Quote
1) A quick read of the linked document and Wikipedia indicates it would be a shocking loss to the space industry. It sounds as if they are pretty much the sole provider of parachute systems to the space industry. therefore there is no one to step in with the knowledge and experience to provide those services. Also this bank of skill and experience will likely be fragmented and lost. Obviously companies could snap up key employees or acquire intellectual property, so ALL is not lost.
2) Why are they bankrupt? Bad business model / bad financial management / loaded with debt from a previous owner / specific financial problems with specific contracts?
In this vein has SpaceX squeezed their prices, or extracted months of additional development, (there were ongoing developments and testing, and no immediate 100% success with Crew Dragon) without additional payments? Is this even a desired outcome of SX, to get them in-house, so they cannot be a risk as an external supplier anymore? (and avoid the risk of them collapsing or being sold to an unhappy competitor) All just guesses and questions, on my part.
I can imagine EM being outraged at the price of "aerospace parachutes" compared with commercial, or recreational ones, and thinking its yet another industry ripe for turning on its head !!!
3) Who else currently needs their services? Blue? ...
4) Do they make the parasails(or whatever) that the fairing sections use?
5) $2.2M is peanuts! I'd bet SX have spent that on their own contracts with pioneer.
Why attribute malice or evil intent? SpaceX is a commercial for-profit company. They are already crushing the competition by shear competence (and luck, of course). They have no need for Machiavellian schemes. If/when they no longer need parachutes, they won't kill the subdivision. They will spin it off and take whatever cash they can get for it.

I hope that the new subsidiary will become stable after the acquisition and will then be able to continue to supply all customers at a fair and profitable price. At the business level this is similar to selling launch services to all customers. At the technical level it's a bit different because the parachute division would be offering design services, but I think SpaceX will be doing a lot of that in the future anyway.
« Last Edit: 11/29/2023 06:15 pm by DanClemmensen »

Offline Asteroza

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #662 on: 11/29/2023 09:52 pm »
I suppose there's the question of the relative value of a drogue maker versus a main parachute maker in the context of the full parachute system.

Offline Brigantine

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #663 on: 11/30/2023 06:52 am »
At least 2 upcoming F9 launches to high energy orbits have been unexpectedly changed to RTLS, which seem to push at the limits of performance. (though this is largely an argument from ignorance)

- Ovzon-3 → GTO
- IM-1 → TLI

Coming on the heels of starlink launches bumping up the number of payloads by 1 (22 → 23 from KSC, 21 → 22 from Vandenberg) since 22 Oct (Starlink 6-24), this starts to look like a pattern.

Questions:
- Have the customers for Ovzon-3 and IM-1 accepted a lower performance launch?
- Have rideshares been bumped off these launches?
- Has something changed recently that improves F9 capability? (possibly in GSE or upper stage)
- Was this performance always there, but masked by safety margins which have now been trimmed a bit? (for booster recovery only?)
- Am I just jumping the gun and none of this is actually surprising or indicative of anything?

[EDIT: I found an un-referenced reddit comment from May, about crewed launches: "G-force restrictions have been lightened, meaning they can take a steeper launch profile, allowing RTLS." - Presumably this is limited by what the crew can withstand, and not applicable to uncrewed flights?]
« Last Edit: 12/09/2023 02:58 am by Brigantine »

Online Zed_Noir

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #664 on: 11/30/2023 11:44 pm »
SpaceX acquires parachute maker, Pioneer Aerospace, for $2.2 Million.
Pioneer Aerospace Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2023.

Pioneer manufactures the drogues for Dragon (specifically the SPX-00000432 Drogue Chute) [1][2].
Airborne manufactures the mains [3].

Expensive purchase for an engineering evolutionary dead branch, but likely cheaper than recertifying a new manufacturer.
There might not be someone from the US to take over Pioneer Aerospace Corporation soon if SpaceX didn't step in. AIUI Pioneer is the main drogue chute manufacturer in the US for spacecrafts. SpaceX and Boeing plus others can't wait for someone to get Pioneer out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Offline CorvusCorax

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #665 on: 12/03/2023 10:30 pm »
Isn't Pioneer also supplying the parachutes to Orion?

If so, Is SpaceX now supplying those?

Offline Asteroza

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #666 on: 12/11/2023 03:41 am »
There seems to be a pattern of discoveries that some upcoming missions have changed to RTLS. Does this suggest a performance uprate that is allowing this to occur?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #667 on: 12/11/2023 03:49 am »
There seems to be a pattern of discoveries that some upcoming missions have changed to RTLS. Does this suggest a performance uprate that is allowing this to occur?
Alternatively, perhaps RTLS is becoming more cost-effective at the system level even if raw performance is not enhanced. As the cadence increases, ASDS becomes a scarce (i.e., relatively expensive) resource, so RTLS is relatively cheaper. The total cost of launching a lot of Starlink satellites shifts toward RTLS.

Offline alugobi

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #668 on: 12/11/2023 04:16 pm »
We'll see how many sats per launch it costs to RTLS.

Offline woods170

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #669 on: 12/12/2023 08:21 am »
Isn't Pioneer also supplying the parachutes to Orion?

If so, Is SpaceX now supplying those?

Pioneer Aerospace was an Orion sub-contractor as recent as 2015. Check the Excel from user enkarha in this post. But what exactly Pioneer Aerospace supplies/supplied for Orion is a bit of a mystery. Given Pioneer's product portfolio it would be logical to assume that they provided knowledge/expertise and/or components  for Orion's landing systems.

On a slightly related note: ASR's Pioneer Aerospace website is now offline. The URL now redirects to the website of AirOps University LLC.
Some further searching revealed no further presence of an official Pioneer Aerospace website on the internet.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2023 08:22 am by woods170 »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #670 on: 12/12/2023 03:39 pm »
https://twitter.com/astropeggy/status/1734606810890358845

Quote
During re-entry capsules can reach speeds of more than 17,000 miles per hour, but the re-entry profiles dissipate all that energy so landing under a parachute slows us to about 15 miles per hour. But I would have to say my first splashdown in the Dragon capsule felt significantly less sporty than my previous dirt landings in a Soyuz.

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #671 on: 12/22/2023 06:33 am »
Quote
To date, one of the most electric and exciting moments at SpaceX ever

twitter.com/spacex/status/1737931955306697065

Quote
Eight years ago today, SpaceX successfully landed an orbital class rocket for the first time. Since that time, SpaceX has landed Falcon rockets more than 250 times and counting

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1738051675254898963

Quote
I would rank it as the second most important moment in SpaceX history after Falcon 1 Flight 4.

Offline catdlr

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #672 on: 12/22/2023 06:44 am »
Fuo
Quote
To date, one of the most electric and exciting moments at SpaceX ever

Quote
Eight years ago today, SpaceX successfully landed an orbital-class rocket for the first time. Since that time, SpaceX has landed Falcon rockets more than 250 times and counting

Quote
I would rank it as the second most important moment in SpaceX history after Falcon 1 Flight 4.



Clip of the Landing:

https://youtube.com/clip/UgkxmpFxpaLgtVsn_gjvUZyDUY6LF0Piu_uT?si=f1LajKlSptn-HSWK

Full Lunch Webcast Replay - enjoy the excitement when it occurs.



A summary video produced by SpaceX (same as the twitter post above)



« Last Edit: 12/22/2023 06:57 am by catdlr »
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Offline Alvian@IDN

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #673 on: 12/26/2023 01:04 am »
Last time it occured and sounds like there's not much lesson-learned from there

Should conducted a mishap investigation atm. Glad Falcon wouldn't live forever imo

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1739458501703762367?t=x7FGxRiQtqrIkLYwUwav1g&s=19
« Last Edit: 12/26/2023 09:12 am by Alvian@IDN »
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Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #674 on: 12/26/2023 01:51 am »
Last time it occured (Arabsat-6A) and sounds like there's not much lesson-learned from there

Should conducted a mishap investigation atm. Glad Falcon wouldn't live forever imo

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1739458501703762367?t=x7FGxRiQtqrIkLYwUwav1g&s=19

That one (B1055) did not use an Octograbber because the Falcon Heavy center cores were not designed to be grabbed by it back then (not sure if this was changed since as most FH launches don't recover it afterward).
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Offline AmigaClone

Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #675 on: 12/26/2023 02:46 am »
Last time it occured (Arabsat-6A) and sounds like there's not much lesson-learned from there

Should conducted a mishap investigation atm. Glad Falcon wouldn't live forever imo

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/1739458501703762367?t=x7FGxRiQtqrIkLYwUwav1g&s=19

That one (B1055) did not use an Octograbber because the Falcon Heavy center cores were not designed to be grabbed by it back then (not sure if this was changed since as most FH launches don't recover it afterward).

I seem to recall reading of plans to modify at least one Octograbber so it could grab a FH center core.

About two years ago booster B1069 arrived in port with significant damage sustained during transport. While it didn't fall over, that might have prompted SpaceX to make the changes to the landing legs mentioned above. Alternatively, those changes might have prevented B1069 from falling over.
« Last Edit: 12/26/2023 02:55 am by AmigaClone »

Offline Brigantine

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #676 on: 12/27/2023 02:53 am »
Some trivia - which AFAICT is the case but maybe L2 knows better

if (IF) OTV-7 aka USSF-52 launches before the year is out, 2023 will be the first year the number of functional Block 5's went down.

This is sensitive to when exactly each booster/core gets the mark of approval from McGregor, (or their official retirement) which I'm just guessing about. (Corrections welcome)

end 2017: 0 Block V; 3-7 Block IV; 5-10 Block III (incl 1 core stage)
end 2018: 7 Block V                                         (built ⁺9)        [up to B1054, Drop in boosters, but increase in Block 5's]
2019 end: 9   - 9 boosters                                                    [up to B1059, built ⁺5 (2 cores) consumed ⁻1, lost ⁻2]
2020 end: 10 - 10 boosters                                                  [up to B1063, built ⁺4 consumed ⁻1 lost ⁻2]
2021 end: 15 - 13 boosters & 2 cores                                   [up to B1068, built ⁺6 (2 cores) lost ⁻1]
2022 end: 20 - 17 boosters & 3 cores                                 [up to B1077, built ⁺8 (2 cores) consumed ⁻3]
2023 end: 19 - 19 boosters                                                [up to B1084, built ⁺7 (2 cores) consumed ⁻7 lost ⁻1]

TBF there was still an increase in boosters, and the decrease is largely an artifact of 3 cores and 2 side boosters ready last year and waiting to be expended (I think - was B1074 built out of order?)


How many more will they build in 2024? - i.e. will the fleet keep growing or just speed up turnarounds?

- The manifest has 3 FH's so 3 core stages to build
- Europa Clipper is fully expendable so presumably B1073/76 will finally be converted for FH to replace B1064/65
- 5 boosters would be expected to reach the current 20 launch limit in the next 10 months - though it will probably be raised, but how much?

If they're planning 12+/month F9 mission in Nov/Dec 2024, they'll have 15 boosters from the current fleet (up to B1083)
That... might be enough if they turn them around slightly faster.

OTOH, some ideas around getting higher pad cadence involve having spare boosters ready to swap places at short notice. For that you need, well, spare boosters - which need to be built.
Then, any missions like Cygnus NG-20 that monopolize a booster, that's an extra booster.

Interested in your guess - how many will they need / have?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #677 on: 12/27/2023 03:07 am »

end 2017: 0 Block V; 3-7 Block IV; 5-10 Block III (incl 1 core stage)
end 2018: 7 Block V                                         (built ⁺9)        [up to B1054, Drop in boosters, but increase in Block 5's]
2019 end: 9   - 9 boosters                                                    [up to B1059, built ⁺5 (2 cores) consumed ⁻1, lost ⁻2]
2020 end: 10 - 10 boosters                                                  [up to B1063, built ⁺4 consumed ⁻1 lost ⁻2]
2021 end: 15 - 13 boosters & 2 cores                                   [up to B1068, built ⁺6 (2 cores) lost ⁻1]
2022 end: 20 - 17 boosters & 3 cores                                 [up to B1077, built ⁺8 (2 cores) consumed ⁻3]
2023 end: 19 - 19 boosters                                                [up to B1084, built ⁺7 (2 cores) consumed ⁻7 lost ⁻1]

Interested in your guess - how many will they need / have?
Thanks for this analysis. I think most boosters that go to Vandenberg pretty much stay there, right? How has the Vandenberg population evolved?
« Last Edit: 12/27/2023 03:17 am by DanClemmensen »

Offline Brigantine

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #678 on: 12/27/2023 04:50 am »
Thanks for this analysis. I think most boosters that go to Vandenberg pretty much stay there, right? How has the Vandenberg population evolved?
TL;DR: A flurry of activity around 2018, then crickets, then in late 2021 it gradually builds

Actually something I can work out quickly: (approximately 1 year per line)

1 flight - 2013 Sep - B1003 (Block 2)
0
1 flight - 2016 Jan - B1017 (Block 2)
3 - 2017 Jan--2018 March, B1029.1 from Vandy then heads east, but B1036/38/41 stay out west for both flights (Block 3/4)
1ish - 2018 Jul--2019 June, Block 5 has arrived, but East Coast/West Coast share the same fleet. B1048/46/49/51 visit. (5 flights)
0
1 flight - 2020 Nov - B1063.1, before it goes east for 1 flight
1⁺ - 2021 Sep, B1049.10 visits for 1 flight, then (Nov) swaps with B1063.3 which comes to stay. B1051.11 also visits in Dec
2 - 2022 Feb, B1071 is dedicated Vandy from the get go
3 - 2022 Aug, B1061.10 migrates over
4 - 2023 Jan, B1075.1 joins
5 - Soon, B1082.1 NET Dec 31 (Starlink 7-9)


Currently: (to show age, note the number refers to the next mission they will do)

- B1061.18
- B1063.16
- B1071.14
- B1075.  9
- B1082.  1
« Last Edit: 12/27/2023 05:13 am by Brigantine »

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 15)
« Reply #679 on: 12/27/2023 12:31 pm »
Thanks for this analysis. I think most boosters that go to Vandenberg pretty much stay there, right? How has the Vandenberg population evolved?
TL;DR: A flurry of activity around 2018, then crickets, then in late 2021 it gradually builds
OK thanks again! 14 F9 at the cape, 5 at VSFB.

The following is fun with numbers, not a real analysis.

We expect VSFB to handle more than its 1/3 share of launches in 2024. I suspect one difference that expended launches from VSFB are rare. Another difference is maybe average turnaround, since VSFB has a higher percentage of RTLS? If VSFB get 40% of the 144 launches(!), that is 57 launches: let's back that down to 52 (1 per week). That would require a 35-day average turnaround, which is far above the current average. it would also require just over 10 flights/booster in 2024, putting the oldest booster at 28 flights. My guess: VSFB gets another 2 boosters, This puts the average turnaround at 45 days and the oldest booster tops out at 25 flights.

That leaves about 88 launches from the Cape in 2024. The constraints at LC-39A are too complicated for my feeble brain, but we might consider SLC-41SLC-40 to be roughly similar to VFSB SLC-4 and allocate 52 launches and seven boosters to it. That leaves seven boosters and 36 flights for LC-39A.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2023 02:48 pm by DanClemmensen »

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