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SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX Mega Thread Archive Section => Topic started by: Chris Bergin on 02/22/2011 02:50 am

Title: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 02/22/2011 02:50 am
Thread 3 for general discussion on SpaceX and their vehicles.

Thread 1:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19228.0

Thread 2:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22769.0

Over half a million views for the two threads above, and while it doesn't really matter if a thread has 10 views or a million, remember that a lot of views are coming from 'guests/visitors' (the vast majority) - not actual members/posters - on here, so don't let yourself down by getting argumentative to the point you are being uncivil. We won't stand for armwaving or general rudeness. It costs too much money to host this site to allow people to run into this forum without wiping their shoes on the doorstep beforehand.

Don't be tempted to dominate the thread either. That tends to annoy people on these very long threads. Threads aren't person to person phone calls, they are large gatherings where everyone has something to say and may wish to jump in with a question without feeling they are interrupting.

Some links:

SpaceX news articles on this site:
Old: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21862.0 (links)
Recent: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/spacex/

L2 SpaceX:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=tags&tags=SpaceX

Remember, this is for SpaceX related chat, and that only. It allows the other threads on the SpaceX section of the forum to remain specific to that particular news.

So, keep it on SpaceX and use it for discussion. For new news, use the SpaceX section, which contains threads for the F9 launches and new news from SpaceX etc.

Did I mention to remain civil and treat other members as if you were talking to them in real life? Oh yeah, I did! ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 03:22 am
(deep breath) I'll go first then...   

An observation that occurred to me - there was an uptick in SpaceX planning recently - talk of accelerated F9H, etc.

I don't have an insight into their financials, but I am sure they still have a contingency financial plan for the case an F9 fails, and probably a second one for the case a Dragon fails.

They were not 100% sure that either of them will fly right the first time.

While they are nowhere near "out of the woods", they could be now making plans in the 1-year outlook in case things continue to go smoothly - to the rough extent of about two F9 launches worth of funds.

-- with all the disclaimers that must accompany second guessing financial plans... I'm an engineer, dammit, not a bean counter.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 02/22/2011 03:36 am
I'm just a Space enthusiast, I'm here to learn what I can and as much as I can. With that said, I would assume that Spacex is going from the testing stage to the successful production stage of Phase 1 as far as Falcon 9 is concerned. It will take several more successful launches though before that can happen. Remember, Spacex is still evolving. They have stated that they intend to build 3 launch vehicles Falcon 1E, Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy. Only one version in that series, Falcon 9, has ever flown. They have a long way to go but, so far so good. I'm continuing to hope for their success.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/22/2011 03:55 am
While they are nowhere near "out of the woods", they could be now making plans in the 1-year outlook in case things continue to go smoothly - to the rough extent of about two F9 launches worth of funds.

Yes, exactly.

In other words, you need contingency plans in case of failures, but you also need to plan for success.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Proponent on 02/22/2011 04:18 am
Does anybody have a pointer to an analysis of the the Soyuz/Foton accident?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/22/2011 05:06 am
Remember, Spacex is still evolving. They have stated that they intend to build 3 launch vehicles Falcon 1E, Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy.

Looks like Falcon1e is history, or back burner at the very least.
http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110218/BUSINESS/102180316/SpaceX-changes-focus-rockets?odyssey=tab

(Replaced link. Always cite the original source, not blog sites which reharsh other people's work - Chris)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 02/22/2011 07:24 am
An observation that occurred to me - there was an uptick in SpaceX planning recently - talk of accelerated F9H, etc.

I'm not sure if that bit of news reflected SpaceX policy or if it was just reporting what DoD wants of them if they want a substantive slice of the government launch pie.

Quote
I don't have an insight into their financials, but I am sure they still have a contingency financial plan for the case an F9 fails, and probably a second one for the case a Dragon fails.

Well, SpaceX do have a significant number of satellite launch contracts.  However, I would argue that there is no long-term 'failure option' for Dragon, only a provision for keeping the wheels spinning until the problem is ironed out.  Dragon represents their real core product at this time and, without it, the company would be hard-pressed to maintain its momentum.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacejulien on 02/22/2011 04:51 pm
Does anybody have a pointer to an analysis of the the Soyuz/Foton accident?

Even when discussing EOC this level of detail may qualify for "off-topic". And I don't have any access to original Russian documentation on the accident. But nonetheless, here is my state of knowledge:

One has to rely i.e. on this indirect source for the root cause:
http://esapub.esrin.esa.it/onstation/onstation13/page7-9.pdf
Quote
The report of the Russian State Investigation Commission concluded that a ‘foreign metallic object’ caused a turbopump to fail, cutting the engine propellant flow.

So the engine of one booster died. The boosters have no separation-system, when their thrust tails off, they simply slip out of their connection brackets.

This can be seen in the video exactly at 0:23, about 6 seconds after lift-off.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJvdaGc07hg

It is noteworthy, that the launcher continues to climb even with one booster missing. Then, at 0:42 the thrust is commanded to cut-off, about 25 seconds after lift-off. This is the Russian style of range-safety, there are no explosives on board to destroy the vehicle. There is also no uplink from the ground to trigger a cut-off. Thus, the avionics determined the off-nominal parameters of the flight and shut-down the engines.

But for the first seconds any action the range safety system would take is suppressed in order not to have the vehicle fall back on the launch table and destroy it, which is why the shutdown occured ~19 seconds after the anomaly.

In fact, changing the range safety system (providing an uplink) is a major change for launching Soyuz out of Kourou.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 02/22/2011 05:09 pm
Am I dreaming that there was a post-flight report published for F9-001?  I'm wondering if one is in works for F9-002.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 05:18 pm
After F9-001 Elon said there would be one, but that it wouldn't be released to the public.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 05:30 pm
Me, I got a quite a chuckle out of the note about "booster simply slides away" design.

It's a lot more complicated to pull off than it sounds, so I'm very curious - Does anyone here have more detailed knowledge or a pointer to that design? 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 06:02 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 06:14 pm
Here's a thought.

Let's assume for a moment that a 9-engine cluster has EOC.  (or to prevent flames, has EOC to some degree).

Now if you have three cores and 27 engines, then at a minimum you can have one engine fail in each, and so the failure figure is just Pf^3, same as it would have been for three engines.

But!  if the rocket can handle the thrust imbalance, which it should, then you can have three engines fail *anywhere* in the 27 cluster, and  probably have even more engines fail if the distribution is favorable.

So if cascade-failure is properly mitigates, the three-core will be very reliable indeed, especially if all engines are verified good before the rocket is released.

The one daemon that slips through this analysis is a systematic production bug that affects a significant portion of the engines.  However, since this hypothetical bug is systematic, it is basically no more dangerous than the same bug on a 1-engine per core rocket.

[EDIT] ugordan - someone mentioned that block 1 Merlins are under-performing a bit.  Could this be a simple fix for that until the block 2 Merlins come online (well, prolly they'll do Merlin block 2 before the F9H flies, but still)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jimvela on 02/22/2011 06:22 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

That only makes sense to me if:
+ Significantly higher thrust is forthcoming in the next Merlin 1 engines to be used, with the core having engines deleted
  -or-
+ Cross-feed capabilities from the boosters back to the core.

Either way, definitely not "just 2 more first stages strapped to the side".
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 02/22/2011 06:23 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

That appears to make little sense... Unless they can throttle down the core significantly. (which they cannot do on the current Merlin 1c, AFAIK). With this layout, the core would run out of fuel/oxidizer first - not desirable.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: HMXHMX on 02/22/2011 06:29 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

Makes sense.  Barrel stretches are straightforward, and this allows one to add propellant to max up GLOW, since the three barrel version has excess t/w.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 02/22/2011 06:32 pm
But it makes more sense to stretch the core instead of the boosters.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 02/22/2011 06:43 pm
But it makes more sense to stretch the core instead of the boosters.

Makes more sense if it flies often to go with a single core.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: HMXHMX on 02/22/2011 06:47 pm
But it makes more sense to stretch the core instead of the boosters.

Surely, from a delta-v perspective.  But they may have other reasons not to do that.  Limiting fineness ratio might be one.  Another may be that they just don't want to mess with the core for some obscure interface reason.

More Kremlinology.  ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 02/22/2011 06:47 pm
But!  if the rocket can handle the thrust imbalance, which it should, then you can have three engines fail *anywhere* in the 27 cluster, and  probably have even more engines fail if the distribution is favorable.

So if cascade-failure is properly mitigates, the three-core will be very reliable indeed, especially if all engines are verified good before the rocket is released.

More incomplete, anumerical thoughts from an amateur.  Fail 3 engines on one of the strap-ons.  Now the other strap-on is burning 50% faster than that one.  Whatcha gonna do?  Cut 3 engines or throttle back the good one?  Performance lost.  LOM.  And again, you'd have to design the fairing to take the aeroloads of flying at an angle of attack.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 06:49 pm
My guess is that they won't throttle the core down early - they'll kill more engines on the center core, and earlier.

You want all three cores at full blast on liftoff, but since all cores are getting lighter and you're only killing center core engines, you can do it faster.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 06:49 pm
* Warning: speculation ahead *

I agree that this would either suggest crossfeed (not likely any time soon IMHO) or a reduced number of engines on the core. Eyeballing the strapons, I'd say they'd carry 25% more propellant.

Let's assume for a moment the core would have 5 engines instead of 9.

I've done a WAG T/W calculation : assuming a core weighing 280 tons + 2nd stage weighing 40 tons + payload weighing 30 tons and 2 strapons weighing 350 tons that totals about 1050 tons GLOW.

9+9+5 Merlin 1d engines should produce about 1230 tons liftoff thrust. So it could get off the ground, albeit slowly.

Now assuming the engines still won't be throttleable and assuming no strapon engines do G-limiting early cutoff (probably not a valid assumption), that propellant load difference would give the core 1.44 times a longer burn time than the strapons.

As for the actual payload this thing would have? I haven't a slightest idea.

Of course, having 9 engines on the core would still work but you'd want to cut some off real early and in a sense you'd be throwing engines away after a minute or so of work.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/22/2011 06:51 pm

But!  if the rocket can handle the thrust imbalance, which it should, then you can have three engines fail *anywhere* in the 27 cluster, and  probably have even more engines fail if the distribution is favorable.


How does the 3 body vehicle handle the thrust imbalance?  It can't use the same method as the single core vehicle.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 07:07 pm
Of course, having 9 engines on the core would still work but you'd want to cut some off real early and in a sense you'd be throwing engines away after a minute or so of work.

I think that's the preferred approach.  You're indeed using some of the engines for only a short period, but these are small 1/9 engines.  It's not prohibitive, and it factors into the whole reliability issue.  It's a small price to pay, and you haven't modified the center core.

It's no different than having a single engine per core, with the center core engine throttled down by increments of 11%.   Whether they can (or want) to re-light some engines after side core separation is an optimization thing - maybe another reason why the side cores are stretched, so they don't have to relight.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 07:09 pm
I think that's the preferred approach.  You're indeed using some of the engines for only a short period, but these are small 1/9 engines.  It's not prohibitive, and it factors into the whole reliability issue.

The core in a parallel-staged vehicle is supposed to burn longer so the energy at burnout would be significantly higher than on a single stick F9. Hence you would probably have to kiss any stage recovery goodbye.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/22/2011 07:10 pm

Flying at an angle is a bitch of course, but unlike the Shuttle for example where the biggest thrusters are very far apart, the aspect ratio inside the single cluster and between the cluster is not that much different, so the flight angle will not be much different.


You still can't arm wave it away and say the vehicle can take it.  The shuttle is designed for those loads. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 02/22/2011 07:11 pm
My guess is that they won't throttle the core down early - they'll kill more engines on the center core, and earlier.

You want all three cores at full blast on liftoff, but since all cores are getting lighter and you're only killing center core engines, you can do it faster.



Didn't an N1 fail that way, just kept on shutting down engines to balance it until it could no longer lift itself over the lithosphere?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 07:14 pm
The core in a parallel-staged vehicle is supposed to burn longer so the energy at burnout would be significantly higher than on a single stick F9. Hence you would probably have to kiss any stage recovery goodbye.
That's correct, but without cross-feed, the stretched side-core configuration is going there no matter what...   It's their ship  :)

All I'm saying is that with extended side-cores, I'd keep the center core as is, and start killing engines early.  Maybe with a three-barrel, they are content recovering only 2/3.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 07:18 pm
You still can't arm wave it away and say the vehicle can take it. 

Go back to the list I posted above, you can easily ascertain the thrust imbalance and the torque arm in each of the scenarios - the angle is chiefly determined by that, since you still need the thrust vector to pass through the CG.

k?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/22/2011 07:20 pm
You still can't arm wave it away and say the vehicle can take it. 

Go back to the list I posted above, you can easily ascertain the thrust imbalance and the torque arm in each of the scenarios - the angle is chiefly determined by that, since you still need the thrust vector to pass through the CG.

k?


That was my point that the same method for a single core is not applicable to the 3 core.

What says the vehicle can take the aero side loads?

These cores are to be the same as the F9 single core.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 07:24 pm
Didn't an N1 fail that way, just kept on shutting down engines to balance it until it could no longer lift itself over the lithosphere?

Keep in mind N1 performed steering via differential throttling so loss of an engine on one side could play havoc on control authority. Losing an engine in a gimballing setup would be less of an issue in this respect, but still nontrivial.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 07:27 pm
No, I'm saying the angle of attack is similar, and the vehicle is actually stronger in that plane. Otherwise, I'm presenting the best calcs I can make from existing data.

I still have to hear a single argument why it will be worse - other than "nobody proved it to my satisfaction". 

We've got this dynamics going where I follow up on the data as best I can, and all you guys are saying is "you're arm waiving" - but you're not presenting anything to the contrary...   

Of course I can't absolutely prove stuff, since I don't have the SpaceX data...   But you're not arguing to the contrary, you're just complaining...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 02/22/2011 07:28 pm
There is, of course, the open question of how the engines would be controlled on the F9H. Side booster engines locked down, independent avionics on each core and only center core gimbaling engines? That would itself seem to present some compensation limitations.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/22/2011 07:33 pm
No, I'm saying the angle of attack is similar, and the vehicle is actually stronger in that plane. Otherwise, I'm presenting the best calcs I can make from existing data.

I still have to hear a single argument why it will be worse - other than "nobody proved it to my satisfaction". 

We've got this dynamics going where I follow up on the data as best I can, and all you guys are saying is "you're arm waiving" - but you're not presenting anything to the contrary...   

Of course I can't absolutely prove stuff, since I don't have the SpaceX data...   But you're not arguing to the contrary, you're just complaining...

a.  How is the vehicle "stronger" in that plane?
b.  The fairing is not stronger

It is worse because the vehicle is flying at an angle of attack it is not designed for.  The vehicle is using the same cores as the existing F9.

And you have yet to address the propellant utilization.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: moose103 on 02/22/2011 07:39 pm
But it makes more sense to stretch the core instead of the boosters.

Wow.  Is that ever a presumptive statement.  You were able to reverse engineer that entire design just by looking at a 2D sketch.

I especially enjoyed the use of the word "stretch" when there are no "unstretched" boosters to stretch.


That appears to make little sense... Unless they can throttle down the core significantly. (which they cannot do on the current Merlin 1c, AFAIK).

SpaceX employees have said in the past they are working on a newer Merlin 1 engine design.  There is no contradiction here.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 02/22/2011 07:40 pm
a.  How is the vehicle "stronger" in that plane?
b.  The fairing is not stronger

It is worse because the vehicle is flying at an angle of attack it is not designed for.  The vehicle is using the same cores as the existing F9.

And you have yet to address the propellant utilization.

Since the angle is similar, the leading fairing will see the same flow as the single F9 flying with one engine out, but less the compressive loads from the second stage/payload. 

The center core will see the compressive loads, but not the main off-axis aerodynamic load.

the trailing core will have a fine day, thank you very much.

[and yes, this is only first order estimates, I don't have the model to run CFD on....]

I addresses propellant issues before - this is an optimization issue - one of the affects of losing an engine is less efficient use of propellant, and you need to allocate margin for it.


And again - where is the counter-argument?  This is still the same pattern of discussion.  You're just shooting things down, but not bringing anything to the table to argue the other way.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 02/22/2011 07:45 pm
Everyone keep it civil - read the first post, and that includes dominating a thread. Meekgee and Jim take a breather from the thread for the rest of the day.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 02/22/2011 07:51 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

Where did you get the term "extended"?  I don't see it on the presentation.  Is there a chance that this image might merely be a mistake?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: gladiator1332 on 02/22/2011 07:58 pm
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

Where did you get the term "extended"?  I don't see it on the presentation.  Is there a chance that this image might merely be a mistake?

 - Ed Kyle

When you hold your curser over the image in adobe, you see an image title of Falcon 9 Heavy Extended.
I wouldn't read too much into it until we hear something from SpaceX. It's a powerpoint presentation. Companies often use placeholder images in those things. Then again, I am somewhat confused why they didn't just use the standard Falcon 9 Heavy image that has floated around since the design first came out.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 08:06 pm
Yes, we're probably reading too much into a single image, but I don't think it's a mistake. Many of their recent presentations for the wider audience repeat the same old sections, going back a year or so. Max Vozoff's presentation from 2010 AIAA conference shows a "classic" F9H which is pretty much an identical drawing to this one, except the strapons aren't stretched.

Since I'm already reading too much into a single drawing, I'll just point out that the LOX tank appears to be stretched much more than the RP-1 tank - MR optimized for thrust?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: hop on 02/22/2011 08:16 pm
Didn't an N1 fail that way, just kept on shutting down engines to balance it until it could no longer lift itself over the lithosphere?
AFAIK the shutting down too many engines was due an implementation error. It was supposed to just shut down the engine directly opposite (which would have been fine, there was plenty of thrust to continue), but instead was off by one or something like that.

The number of engines invites comparison F9H to the N1, but given programmatic problems in the N1 project, it's not clear how relevant it might be. Lots of engines didn't help, but the N1 project would have been seriously troubled in any case.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/22/2011 08:30 pm
The extended-length boosters point a little toward cross-feed, IMHO (as complicated as that may be). However, they may just cut-out a bunch (3? 4?) of core engines soon after lift-off (probably a more likely scenario considering that I don't think cross-feed between actual cores has been done before).

Another way to look at it is that the initial T/W would be about the same for the Falcon 9 and the Falcon 9 Heavy this way... to do that you have to stretch something, and by stretching the boosters instead of the core, commonality with Falcon 9 (regular) is maintained to a greater extent than if you extended the core.

Still, this is just a single image without much behind it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/22/2011 08:34 pm

1.  I addresses propellant issues before - this is an optimization issue - one of the affects of losing an engine is less efficient use of propellant, and you need to allocate margin for it.


2.  And again - where is the counter-argument?  This is still the same pattern of discussion.  You're just shooting things down, but not bringing anything to the table to argue the other way.

1.  no, you haven't.  It does no good if one strapon runs out of propellant before the other.

2.  The onus is on you.  The vehicle is only design for nominal conditions (3 sigma), you have to prove that the vehicle has to survive the off nominal.

You have not shown that the angle of attack is similar.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 02/22/2011 08:38 pm
I don't know if this is important. But being the Merlin 1C a pintle engine, wouldn't it be possible that it's actually "throttlable" at factory. I.e., they can dial a thrust by moving the pintle position slightly, as long as it's less than Thrust Max? This could allow they to dial a bit back the core. Just a thought.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 02/22/2011 08:41 pm
...The vehicle is only design for nominal conditions (3 sigma)...
Why do you  equate nominal to three standard deviations? Is this a standard? As an econometrist this seems like a lot of variance. Unless you mean 99.7% reliability.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 08:41 pm
Merlin 1c was certainly downrated on the Falcon 1 flights.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/22/2011 08:49 pm
Regarding the many-engines (with engine-out capability (EOC)) versus single engine...

There is considerable difficulty associated with making redundant solutions work (I know this from experience). You are adding a lot of complexity to an already very complex system. Like the N-1 shows, lots and lots of testing is required because of this added complexity and you will fail if you neglect this. This is probably why NASA considers EOC as not really adding to the overall reliability of a rocket... If EOC isn't implemented right (say, sensor failures leading to unnecessary shut-downs), it can end up causing the mission to fail unnecessarily (as almost happened on STS-51-F)... It must be remembered that EOC adds new failure modes.

However, if you are able to clear out the vast majority of system-level failures caused by poor design and implementation and are able to mature the system over many flights (so that you are mostly left with random manufacturing defects not implementation flaws), I think that is where EOC can actually shine and perhaps even start to eclipse the reliability of just going with a single engine. But this is only after very many flights. Commercial aviation sees multiple engines (with EOC) as superior to single-engine, but commercial aviation tests the living **** out of their aircraft.

SpaceX is shooting for ~10 Falcon 9 flights per year. That's quite unlikely any time soon, but if you grant them that flight rate, then after not too many years (and I would say, about 20-30 flights), they start to get to the point where the implementation flaws are matured out of the design and they are left with the random manufacturing flaws dominating.

Of course, in order for EOC to be useful, the EOC must be effective in the great majority of engine failures (which is what all the rapid unexpected disassembly (RUD) talk is all about...).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 02/22/2011 08:51 pm
One thing I find a bit interesting that hasn't been discussed is that it would seem, if NASA does consent to combining COTS2 and COTS3 (and the combined mission succeeds), that it would save SpaceX a not insignificant amount of money. That could conceivably be in the range of $50-$100 million depending on the rather large unknown of what SpaceX's costs are. One wonders if that could be applicable to internal development, or just to defray losses from migrating Falcon 1 contracts or price differentials on early Falcon 9 customers. It would seem SpaceX would have to spend a significant amount of money to develop F9H if the government won't foot the bill (which doesn't seem likely) and it has to self-finance all of the development plus a test launch.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 02/22/2011 08:55 pm
I'm thinking cost savings is the single major driver from SpaceX for combining the 2 COTS flights and potentially moving the CRS schedule slightly to the left is just a bonus at which NASA will or will not bite - we'll see.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacejulien on 02/22/2011 09:58 pm
...The vehicle is only design for nominal conditions (3 sigma)...
Why do you  equate nominal to three standard deviations? Is this a standard? As an econometrist this seems like a lot of variance. Unless you mean 99.7% reliability.

That means that to 99.7% you achieve the required orbit without running out of propellants. That is nominal industry standard and the performance data given in the Payload Planners Guide should be based on this. This is to account for all parameter variations, like winds, dispersions on filling, thrust variation, mixture ratio, etc...

Reliability in terms of nominal operation of all launch vehicle elements is a completely different topic, but generally the calculated overall reliability should be in a similar range. Or higher, if manned.

Then, when planning for a specific mission the launch provider and customer might negotiate a higher payload mass but in return accept a higher risk of ending up in a lower-than-required orbit. The payload would then need to cover the missing deltaV with it's own propulsion system.

Such a case-by-case approach was quite common for Ariane 4 at the end of the 90ies and after, to squeeze ever more massive payloads onto the launcher. For an example, see page 6 of http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/ariane/annexes/V129launchkit.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 02/22/2011 10:21 pm
I'm thinking cost savings is the single major driver from SpaceX for combining the 2 COTS flights and potentially moving the CRS schedule slightly to the left is just a bonus at which NASA will or will not bite - we'll see.

...since we're in speculation mode.

Maybe SpaceX is concerned about ramping up their flight rate?

If they can make a success of a combined COTS 2 & 3, they can add 50% to the delivery times for both the combined COTS & first CRS flights, and still be on time for their first CRS delivery. (50% being notional, but based on just preparing two flights instead of three).

cheer, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nomadd on 02/22/2011 10:22 pm
I'm thinking cost savings is the single major driver from SpaceX for combining the 2 COTS flights and potentially moving the CRS schedule slightly to the left is just a bonus at which NASA will or will not bite - we'll see.

 I would have thought accelerated revenue, if they get paid after every delivery. It's hard to believe that they'll get there so fast that cutting out several months of development time wouldn't be a great advantage. Even if NASA didn't want to shift the schedule, it would free them to get their other revenue producing projects moving.
 The company's total expenses probably don't have that much room to decline for a few years since they're mostly salaries in that outfit, but the revenue could definitely rise if they keep or beat the schedules.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 02/22/2011 10:57 pm
Actually combing COTS changes the game politically. By taking more off the Shuttle dependence more quickly, one predicates a future where scaling up such capability becomes a viable path forward against the spectre of LV (or should I say HLV) uncertainty ...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 02/23/2011 01:49 am
<snip>

Maybe SpaceX is concerned about ramping up their flight rate?

<snip>

They are concerned...

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 02/23/2011 04:31 am
Why such complex speculation on motives?  How about why WOULDN'T they combine COTS-2 and COTS-3?

COTS-2 is going to the vicinity of the ISS, 6 km away IIRC.  If they are successful, it will wind up in this stationkeeping position before it departs for reentry.  With the full orbital configuration, including solar arrays, they should not be life limited. 

Now if they add the grapple fixture and the berthing mechanism, they could in theory be allowed to complete the rendezvous and be berthed, meeting the COTS-3 milestones.  Then the COTS-3 flight becomes a CRS revenue flight.

How could they NOT go this route, so long as NASA isn't excluding the possibility up front?  (This may still happen due to things like ISS crew member training or something else.) Add the cost and time to install the grapple and berthing  mechanisms for what amounts to the chance at the revenue from the CRS-1 flight.  It would seem to be a lot lower risk than many that they have retired.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 02/23/2011 05:57 am
* Warning: speculation ahead *

9+9+5 Merlin 1d engines should produce about 1230 tons liftoff thrust. So it could get off the ground, albeit slowly.

I believe that you are assuming less thrust than would be available from the Merlin 1d.  23 engines should produce 1438 tons of thrust and give a T/W of almost 1.4 using your mass estimate.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 02/23/2011 11:47 am
Seeing how they are allowing Orbital to do it with one launch, and even paying them to do a risk reduction Taurus II launch, I don't see how merging missions would be unfair.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/23/2011 05:24 pm
Elon already mentioned that they were looking at a cross-fed solution for multiple cores.  I believe that was in the interview just after the second F9 launch.

Assuming he means this for Falcon 9 Heavy, then there's no need to throttle down or leave out engines.

Also keep in mind that Falcon 9 Heavy will probably be migrating from 27 Merlin 1s to 3 Merlin 2s. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Aeroman on 02/23/2011 05:28 pm
So, if they replace 9 Merlin 1's with 1 Merlin 2 it wouldn't be called a Falcon 9 anymore correct?

Just wondering.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 02/23/2011 05:33 pm
Also keep in mind that Falcon 9 Heavy will probably be migrating from 27 Merlin 1s to 3 Merlin 2s. 

There's no Merlin 2 without serious $$$ coming from somewhere.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 02/23/2011 06:31 pm
So, if they replace 9 Merlin 1's with 1 Merlin 2 it wouldn't be called a Falcon 9 anymore correct?
As 'Falcon-1' is already taken, I imagine that they would have to carry on calling it Falcon-9.  They'll probably give it a variant designation like 'Falcon-9a' or something.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/23/2011 06:39 pm
So, if they replace 9 Merlin 1's with 1 Merlin 2 it wouldn't be called a Falcon 9 anymore correct?
As 'Falcon-1' is already taken, I imagine that they would have to carry on calling it Falcon-9.  They'll probably give it a variant designation like 'Falcon-9a' or something.
I really doubt this will happen anytime soon. Remember how long it took since F-1 started development (1955) until first launch of the Saturn V (1967). And there's really nothing to say it'd be cheaper than 9 Merlin 1 engines.

I just simply don't see SpaceX developing the Merlin 2 without a big commitment from the government, such as a HLV contract.

Merlin 2 is NOT something to take for granted. SpaceX very publicly committed to Falcon 9 Heavy, but not to Merlin 2.

EDIT:And even for SpaceX, the Merlin engine took 6 years from development to first successful flight. A bigger engine wouldn't be easier, especially since they seem to be looking to do the turbopump themselves.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 02/23/2011 07:27 pm
How scalable are turbopump designs? I think very easy downscale (Rd-171 -> RD-180 -> RD-191), but very difficult upscale.
Please remember that one of the things that they changed from Merlin 1A(or B) to C was that they made their own turbopump. And the went from ablatively cooled to regeneratively cooled chamber. All made by themselves. Unless they want to improve ISP, they might do a "straight" upscale of the Merlin 1C (or D). And when I say "straight" I mean that they reinforce the ECU, use a pintle injector, regenerative cooled chamber, single shaft turbopump, etc.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 02/23/2011 07:35 pm

Please remember that one of the things that they changed from Merlin 1A(or B) to C was that they made their own turbopump.

They have yet to do that
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: hop on 02/23/2011 07:43 pm
How scalable are turbopump designs? I think very easy downscale (Rd-171 -> RD-180 -> RD-191), but very difficult upscale.
Hmm, my impression was always that turbo-machinery likes to be big, but I wouldn't swear by that.

AFAIK the (relative) ease of developing the RD-180 was due to the difficult problems of the engine development (oxygen rich, high pressure etc..) being already solved, and the ability to re-use the combustion chamber / nozzle designs with very little change.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 02/23/2011 08:25 pm
Elon already mentioned that they were looking at a cross-fed solution for multiple cores.  I believe that was in the interview just after the second F9 launch.

Assuming he means this for Falcon 9 Heavy, then there's no need to throttle down or leave out engines.

Also keep in mind that Falcon 9 Heavy will probably be migrating from 27 Merlin 1s to 3 Merlin 2s. 

Going by http://web02.aviationweek.com/aw/mstory.do?id=news/awst/2010/11/29/AW_11_29_2010_p28-271784.xml&channel=space&headline=NASA%20Studies%20Scaled-Up%20Falcon,%20Merlin (http://web02.aviationweek.com/aw/mstory.do?id=news/awst/2010/11/29/AW_11_29_2010_p28-271784.xml&channel=space&headline=NASA%20Studies%20Scaled-Up%20Falcon,%20Merlin), and discussion at http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=23464.0 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=23464.0)...

It appears that the standard 125mT Falcon X is achieved with all three cores staging together (no cross-feed). That's 3.3x the single-stick figure.

Cross-feed seems to take it up to 4x (150mT) - about a 20% performance boost.

Suggests it would provide a neat boost to performance of F9H, although not sure what payload might need that. The simplicity of single-staging seems to be an advantage in itself.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 02/23/2011 08:29 pm

Please remember that one of the things that they changed from Merlin 1A(or B) to C was that they made their own turbopump.

They have yet to do that
My bad, memory sometimes plays tricks on me.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: tigerade on 02/23/2011 10:47 pm
SpaceX one of 50 most innovative companies in MIT's Technology Review:

http://www.technologyreview.com/tr50/
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 02/24/2011 05:09 am
This is all very nice and all but, all I want to see is Spacex having a nice new update with lots of good pics and the news we have been waiting for which is a combined COTS 2/3 mission for this summer. Elon can get the best buttocks of the year award for all I care. Spacex needs to get down to business and update us as soon as they can about they're progress. By the way what's up with their website? They really need better website management. Their pictures page has not been updated since 2009. Compare that to Orbital's website which seems to be updated regularly. If you are trying to persuade a sceptical public, a nice first step is to reach the public through the web.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Patchouli on 02/24/2011 05:43 am
How scalable are turbopump designs? I think very easy downscale (Rd-171 -> RD-180 -> RD-191), but very difficult upscale.
Hmm, my impression was always that turbo-machinery likes to be big, but I wouldn't swear by that.

AFAIK the (relative) ease of developing the RD-180 was due to the difficult problems of the engine development (oxygen rich, high pressure etc..) being already solved, and the ability to re-use the combustion chamber / nozzle designs with very little change.

From what I read turbines do indeed perfer to be big as when you down scale them you end up fighting with issues such as sealing and keeping parts that do not like high temps cool.

It certiantly is not easier to make them big but they are gernerally more efficient the larger they are.

Really this rule seems to apply to rockets in general.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/24/2011 12:44 pm

Cross-feed seems to take it up to ... about a 20% performance boost.

Suggests it would provide a neat boost to performance of F9H, although not sure what payload might need that.

The latest SpaceX presentation shows F9H with elongated tanks (see picture).  This implies either:
a) cross-feed
b) throttling down the main core, either by adjusting the pintle, or by removing engines

My point was that Elon had mentioned the cross-fed solution in a previous interview. 

Here's a question: If you add up all possible F9H performance boosts:
1) cross-feed
2) elongated boosters
3) Raptor second stage
4) Replace 27 Merlin1s with 3 Merlin2s
what would you guess for payload capacity?

(http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=24179.0;attach=266979;image)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 02/24/2011 12:45 pm
By the way what's up with their website? They really need better website management.

And websites are the core business? I would rather they do what they say they are going to do in the time frame they claim they will than have a pretty website.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/24/2011 01:16 pm
I just simply don't see SpaceX developing the Merlin 2 without a big commitment from the government, such as a HLV contract.

I think SpaceX will do Merlin-2 regardless.  9 small engines is a great way to get a startup going, but it's not a great long term solution. It'll just take SpaceX a lot longer to do Merlin 2 on their own.   

As for an HLV contract, remember that Falcon-X carries roughly the same payload as Falcon 9 Heavy, and SpaceX definitely believes there's a commercial market for a launcher this size. 

In fact, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell talked about this specifically back in April.  Combining 2 large commercial GTO satellites (~7 mT each) on that type of launcher would dramatically reduce the cost per pound. 
http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=1348
(starting around 33:15 into the program).

And don't forget that Merlin 2 can be used on Falcon 9 to reduce cost and increase payload capacity, again helping SpaceX commercially.

So while Falcon X Heavy would be for NASA, Falcon X and Merlin 2 have commercial applications.  With this in mind, perhaps the HLV could be developed using a public/private partnership instead of a traditional contract.  This way, NASA wouldn't have to foot the entire bill for HLV development.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mnagy on 02/24/2011 01:23 pm
And don't forget that Merlin 2 can be used on Falcon 9 to reduce cost and increase payload capacity, again helping SpaceX commercially.
Are you sure about that? IIRC, Merlin 2 would cost $50M, which is the price of one Falcon 9. For F9H, this seems even worse..
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/24/2011 01:46 pm
And don't forget that Merlin 2 can be used on Falcon 9 to reduce cost and increase payload capacity, again helping SpaceX commercially.
Are you sure about that? IIRC, Merlin 2 would cost $50M, which is the price of one Falcon 9. For F9H, this seems even worse..

Some presentations have loose numbers, but it's not clear if these refer to the engine or the whole launcher.

In my mind, it's obvious that one engine will have less recurring cost than 9 smaller ones.  Remember that the key here is to use Merlin 2 on Falcon 9 for regular commercial satellites, so the launch rate would be fairly good.  If you just used Merlin 2 on NASA HLVs, then recurring costs would be higher.



Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 02/24/2011 01:57 pm
In my mind, it's obvious that one engine will have less recurring cost than 9 smaller ones.

You're discounting the development cost, which even a SpaceX presentation put at a billion dollars. Even assuming it's somehow only half that, that's still $500 million. SpaceX is not going to have that kind of money to spend on Merlin 2. Unless you're suggesting SpaceX will take the long approach and shoot to have it ready by like 2025.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/24/2011 02:34 pm
SpaceX is not going to have that kind of money to spend on Merlin 2. Unless you're suggesting SpaceX will take the long approach and shoot to have it ready by like 2025.

If SpaceX has to develop Merlin 2 on their own, it may take 5-15 years, depending on how much money they get from the IPO and other commercial business. So 2025 is not out of the question.

If NASA uses a public/private partnership with SpaceX to develop the HLV, then Merlin 2 will obviously happen much sooner.

Either way, I believe SpaceX will develop Merlin 2.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: tegla on 02/24/2011 02:44 pm
OK, how big part of Merlin 2 price quote is the result of "NASA would want SpaceX to do it in a hurry"?

Or from an other viewpoint, how much would developing M2 cost for SpaceX, if it is on a "slow but steady" development path?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 02/24/2011 02:54 pm
SpaceX is not going to have that kind of money to spend on Merlin 2. Unless you're suggesting SpaceX will take the long approach and shoot to have it ready by like 2025.

If SpaceX has to develop Merlin 2 on their own, it may take 5-15 years, depending on how much money they get from the IPO and other commercial business. So 2025 is not out of the question.

If NASA uses a public/private partnership with SpaceX to develop the HLV, then Merlin 2 will obviously happen much sooner.

Either way, SpaceX will develop Merlin 2.

IPO is not a given and would primarily be to serve investors and employees with stock options. It isn't going to raise a lot of money. Even if SpaceX manages to maintain a 10-15% profit margin, that still a limited amount of profit to channel into R&D.

So, I'd suggest that it's very unlikely Merlin 2 will be developed, unless somebody is willing to write a very large check and is unconcerned with ROI. I'm not sure I'd hold my breath waiting for that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/24/2011 03:06 pm
OK, how big part of Merlin 2 price quote is the result of "NASA would want SpaceX to do it in a hurry"?

Or from an other viewpoint, how much would developing M2 cost for SpaceX, if it is on a "slow but steady" development path?

Or looking at it the other way: SpaceX has a team of rocket engine developers, and Merlin 1 is basically done.  In order to retain that talent, they'll need to have something to develop.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 02/24/2011 03:07 pm
Yep, I don't think a Merlin 2 will happen anytime soon unless the DoD or NASA writes them a big check (contract) to do it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacejulien on 02/24/2011 03:10 pm

Please remember that one of the things that they changed from Merlin 1A(or B) to C was that they made their own turbopump.

They have yet to do that
My bad, memory sometimes plays tricks on me.

SpaceX didn't do the turbopump design? Who did it? What heritage is it based on?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 02/24/2011 03:13 pm

Please remember that one of the things that they changed from Merlin 1A(or B) to C was that they made their own turbopump.

They have yet to do that
My bad, memory sometimes plays tricks on me.

SpaceX didn't do the turbopump design? Who did it? What heritage is it based on?
BNI
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/24/2011 03:36 pm
The heritage is the Fastrac engine (and Bantam). I'm not sure it's a direct heritage, but here's Barber-nichols' page on it:
http://www.barber-nichols.com/products/rocket_engine_turbopumps/
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacejulien on 02/24/2011 03:51 pm
The heritage is the Fastrac engine (and Bantam). I'm not sure it's a direct heritage, but here's Barber-nichols' page on it:
http://www.barber-nichols.com/products/rocket_engine_turbopumps/

As they write in past tense
Quote
BNI designed and manufactured the Merlin Turbopump [...]

this means SpaceX is doing series production themselves? Or some third company?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 02/24/2011 05:05 pm
Ah the joys of memory, at some point over the last year, SpaceX said they where taking the turbo pump design and manufacture in house. It's in the NSF archives somewhere...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rklaehn on 02/24/2011 05:29 pm
OK, how big part of Merlin 2 price quote is the result of "NASA would want SpaceX to do it in a hurry"?

Or from an other viewpoint, how much would developing M2 cost for SpaceX, if it is on a "slow but steady" development path?

Or looking at it the other way: SpaceX has a team of rocket engine developers, and Merlin 1 is basically done.  In order to retain that talent, they'll need to have something to develop.

It would not be that hard to keep them busy working on merlin 1. For example, do a engine out capability test on the test stand by feeding one engine a piece of debris, and see if you can get the other engines to keep running. Or soak an engine in salt water and see if you can reduce the amount of refurbishment necessary.

Personally, I would rather see spacex concentrate on their already extremely ambitious current plans rather than building a new engine.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/24/2011 08:27 pm
Ah the joys of memory, at some point over the last year, SpaceX said they where taking the turbo pump design and manufacture in house. It's in the NSF archives somewhere...
Yeah, they want to do that. They are hiring turbomachinery engineers.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: telomerase99 on 02/24/2011 11:46 pm
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: beancounter on 02/25/2011 12:50 am
The heritage is the Fastrac engine (and Bantam). I'm not sure it's a direct heritage, but here's Barber-nichols' page on it:
http://www.barber-nichols.com/products/rocket_engine_turbopumps/

As they write in past tense
Quote
BNI designed and manufactured the Merlin Turbopump [...]

this means SpaceX is doing series production themselves? Or some third company?

I thought they bought the company but can't find my source now.  Anyone?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 02/25/2011 01:02 am
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGZWIR0Prhk

skip to 58:20
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/25/2011 01:42 am
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?
It says ~11000kg to LEO for the Falcon 9 Merlin 1D, about 27000kg to LEO for the Falcon 9 Heavy (didn't look to have the greatly stretched side boosters like the other recent slide did... the stretched boosters are probably for the cross-feed configuration, I'd guess... or, perhaps to hit their old 32000kg to LEO figure). Nothing really new, it's about what was expected.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: telomerase99 on 02/25/2011 02:13 am
At 1:02:20-30 Bowersox states that the Falcon 9 will be able to do 20k to LEO a little more or a little less.

At 1:03:50-59 he states that they are expanding the core and upgrading the engine to 1D to boost capacity before going to a triple core version of that rocket.

Perhaps he made a mistake? Or you think that he means something different?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 02/25/2011 03:05 am
Get a load of what they appear to be contemplating, from Tim Hughes' AIAA presentation (http://www.aiaa.org/pdf/industry/presentations/Tim_Hughes.pdf):

The image in the PDF is called 'Falcon 9 Heavy extended'. Stretched tanks don't exactly strike me as being just 2 more first stages strapped to the side.

Where did you get the term "extended"?  I don't see it on the presentation.  Is there a chance that this image might merely be a mistake?

 - Ed Kyle

When you hold your curser over the image in adobe, you see an image title of Falcon 9 Heavy Extended.
I wouldn't read too much into it until we hear something from SpaceX. It's a powerpoint presentation. Companies often use placeholder images in those things. Then again, I am somewhat confused why they didn't just use the standard Falcon 9 Heavy image that has floated around since the design first came out.

We've known for several years that SpaceX plans called for a follow-on, higher thrust Merlin, which is now called Merlin 1D.  Higher thrust has always implied longer tanks for any resulting Falcon 9 (standard or Heavy).  The only way I know to extract substantially more performance from higher thrust engines is to carry more propellant - which means extending the tanks.  So the term "extended" doesn't just make sense, it has long been expected.

On the other hand, stretched strap-on stages attached to a shorter core stage makes no obvious sense.  If it was the other way around it would make sense.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: go4mars on 02/25/2011 04:11 am
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?

Yes.  But the chorus of this song sums up my sentiment better than I can type it. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEogJacjLTE
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 02/25/2011 04:15 am
On the other hand, stretched strap-on stages attached to a shorter core stage makes no obvious sense.  If it was the other way around it would make sense.

Stretched strap-ons make sense if they're cross fed to the core.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 02/25/2011 04:25 am
They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.  The only customers for that are companies who already own sufficient bandwidth in GEO and can stand to get more on the cheap and whose BoD doesn't mind losing a $200M-$400M asset to ultra-low GSO at the bottom of the Atlantic.  Not going to happen with M1d.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/25/2011 04:41 am
How about larger than BA-330 Bigelow modules (thinking a BA-700ish)? In one video talking about the BA-2100 it's suggested that while something that big would require a super-heavy something a bit smaller could be do-able.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Hauerg on 02/25/2011 05:14 am
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?
...

This seems to be a simple error: Wanted to talk about "lbs" but being a scientific guy said "kg".
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/25/2011 01:57 pm
Any comments on Bowersox making the statement about Falcon 9 going to larger core diameter with 20k kilo capability with Merlin 1D prior to work on triple core version?
...

This seems to be a simple error: Wanted to talk about "lbs" but being a scientific guy said "kg".
Agreed. Look at the actual slide.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: cuddihy on 02/25/2011 02:12 pm
The heritage is the Fastrac engine (and Bantam). I'm not sure it's a direct heritage, but here's Barber-nichols' page on it:
http://www.barber-nichols.com/products/rocket_engine_turbopumps/

As they write in past tense
Quote
BNI designed and manufactured the Merlin Turbopump [...]

this means SpaceX is doing series production themselves? Or some third company?

OT a little bit but thanks for the BNI link. I was particularly interested by
Quote
BNI has worked on several other turbopumps including an

H 2 O 2 /Hydrocarbon Turbopump for an engine which produces 34,000 pounds of thrust.


That had me confused for a minute -- who in the Space industry would build a brand new 34,000 lbf H2O2/hydrocarbon engine but not want their name associated with it?

Answer -- well, obviously, Blue Origin! I'm going to have to see what I can find on that...

p.s.

I moved by Blue Origin speculation here:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=10685.msg697764#msg697764
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/02/2011 03:14 am
There have been some recent changes to the SpaceX website:

- Falcon 9 Heavy is now called just Falcon Heavy, with updated artwork (but not the recent "extended" drawing)

- Falcon Heavy Demo Flight is on the manifest with a date of 2012 out of Vandenberg

-Orbcomm is now listed as "multiple" in the vehicle column

-The only remaining F1e and Kwaj launch site flight is the Astrium payload in 2014

-A couple of "undisclosed customers" are also on the manifest

FWIW
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/02/2011 04:44 am
There have been some recent changes to the SpaceX website:

{snip}

FWIW

This is getting silly.

SpaceX has added two new flights, yet leaves unchanged the previously announced schedule with the exception of dropping the Falcon 1e maiden flight, delaying the Dragonlab flights by a year and letting the Spacecom flight slip into 2013.  They even accelerate CRS-2 into 2011. ("Target date indicates hardware arrival at launch site")  Even if they do manage to combine COTS-2 and COTS-3, AND co-manifest the first Orbcomm satellites with the MDA flight, that's three Falcon 9's to the Cape in the latter half of the year.  2012 has only three launches, but the last one is the Falcon Heavy, then it's right on to eight rockets in 2013.

By the way, that's 50 Merlin engines in 2011, 48 in 2012, 80 in 2013, and 71 in 2014. 

I guess this is not the time when SpaceX resets to a more reasonable set of expectations.  Despite their recent remarkable success, it seems that just making rapid progress isn't an adequate public posture.  It is not clear what their purpose is in publishing the manifest.  As a potential customer it gives me even more pause to talk to SpaceX about a flight in a given year.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/02/2011 06:19 am
Looks like the pragmatics of industry economics are hitting home.

The website manifest is written for investors and press - it tells the story of what the firm is committing to as its priorities.

Looks like the priorities they should have to me. Bring COTS online as a primary line of business, establish secondary line of business with F9 flights, keep alive F1, bring online Dragonlab for business development/expansion, and everything else is kept off the table.

If you expect a tough funding environment for the next 5-10 years you manage expectations very narrowly - how you tell the story going forward is how the press, congress, customers, investors will talk about you.

What this indicates is that they have flat expectations, likely across the board for all takers/LV's govt included. Anything above this line is extraordinary. This kind of pragmatism does not bode well for the industry as a whole.

As to qualifying engines/flight hardware that's not where the challenges are. The challenges are in pad/integration/operations in meeting the less then forgiving requirements they've signed up for.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/02/2011 08:18 am
2012 has only three launches, but the last one is the Falcon Heavy, then it's right on to eight rockets in 2013.

By the way, that's 50 Merlin engines in 2011, 48 in 2012, 80 in 2013, and 71 in 2014. 

I guess this is not the time when SpaceX resets to a more reasonable set of expectations.  Despite their recent remarkable success, it seems that just making rapid progress isn't an adequate public posture.  It is not clear what their purpose is in publishing the manifest.  As a potential customer it gives me even more pause to talk to SpaceX about a flight in a given year.

I don't think SpaceX can really survive as a "cottage industry" just launching a couple of rockets each year.

They need a ramp up to support the size of their workforce.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/02/2011 12:26 pm
... AND co-manifest the first Orbcomm satellites with the MDA flight ...

The first 2 OG2 satellites are comanifested with COTS-2. My bet is they will all ride under ISS-bound dragons.

http://www.spacenews.com/satellite_telecom/101110-orbcomm-switching-falcon9.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/02/2011 02:43 pm
Funny,

They list Falcon Heavy performance to 28 degrees, but the first Demo flight will be from Vandenberg, ~90ish degrees... Of course the only customer for LEO polar payloads in that class is the DOD, and I am sure that number has been already communicated to them. (my calc ratio'ing the Falcon 9 28/Polar hit, about ~26,000 kg LEO Polar).

They list the Falcon 9 polar performance from Kwajalein and not Vandenberg. (Don't you have a larger performance penalty for polar from Kwajalein over Vandenberg?)

Nice update all the same.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/02/2011 03:09 pm
LOL. I remember when people were complaining that SpaceX was just updating their website and issuing fluff press releases instead of actually launching stuff and showing real progress.

And now the situation is reversed (almost).

But they seem to have their priorities in order now. We know what they are working on, we don't need weekly updates to tell us that. (although it would be nice too) ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/02/2011 03:13 pm
They seem to have changed their Dragon page to an older version. Is that possible?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/02/2011 03:21 pm
Nice to see a Falcon Heavy test flight on the manifest for next year 2012. So it seems that this is becoming now a very real part of Spacex's launcher constellation. I wonder if they will also rename Falcon 9 just Falcon as they seem to be doing away with Falcon 1E. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/02/2011 06:45 pm
A great picture of Dragon Eye being delivered aboard Shuttle Discovery.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Namechange User on 03/02/2011 06:47 pm
A great picture of Dragon Eye being delivered aboard Shuttle Discovery.

It's not being delivered.  It's an engineering demo that will come back with Discovery.  It's also not the first time it has flown. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/02/2011 07:31 pm
Nice to see a Falcon Heavy test flight on the manifest for next year 2012. So it seems that this is becoming now a very real part of Spacex's launcher constellation. I wonder if they will also rename Falcon 9 just Falcon as they seem to be doing away with Falcon 1E. 

"*Target date indicates hardware arrival at launch site"

Any bets whether the hardware will arrive sometime in the last week of December, and the launch will actually take place Q2?

Of course, that assumes normal SpaceX time dilation does not apply.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Cherokee43v6 on 03/02/2011 07:36 pm
Interesting how the Orbcomm order had been changed from 'Falcon 1e' to 'multiple'.  Falcon 1e is still listed for the 2014 Astrium order though.

Of course that could just be an artifact of slow updating to the list.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/02/2011 09:53 pm
Interesting how the Orbcomm order had been changed from 'Falcon 1e' to 'multiple'.  Falcon 1e is still listed for the 2014 Astrium order though.

Of course that could just be an artifact of slow updating to the list.

Couldn't multiple mean that the Orbcomm flights are going to be riding on a lot of different vehicles?  As secondary payloads on Falcons, Falcon heavy, and possibly even Falcon 1e once they get back around to them?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/03/2011 12:21 am
That Orbcomm itself was running late & would be flying largely under Dragons is last Novembers news.

http://www.spacenews.com/satellite_telecom/101110-orbcomm-switching-falcon9.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/03/2011 03:53 am
(my calc ratio'ing the Falcon 9 28/Polar hit, about ~26,000 kg LEO Polar).

I think that number is about 25% high given the performance of other vehicles in the same class.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: beancounter on 03/03/2011 12:15 pm
Nice to see a Falcon Heavy test flight on the manifest for next year 2012. So it seems that this is becoming now a very real part of Spacex's launcher constellation. I wonder if they will also rename Falcon 9 just Falcon as they seem to be doing away with Falcon 1E. 

"*Target date indicates hardware arrival at launch site"

Any bets whether the hardware will arrive sometime in the last week of December, and the launch will actually take place Q2?

Of course, that assumes normal SpaceX time dilation does not apply.

cheers, Martin
Yes, I'll take the bet.  I don't think SpaceX will proceed with a 28 engine Heavy.  I know that's what they're touting but what they really want is a cheque to produce Merlin2.  Even fast-tracking the beast will take them some considerable time.  They've still got to raise the finance and get the design underway whilst still continuing development of Dragon Cargo and possibly crew if they get CCDev Rd2 funds.
Good luck doing all that.  They'll need it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/03/2011 01:24 pm
Nice to see a Falcon Heavy test flight on the manifest for next year 2012. So it seems that this is becoming now a very real part of Spacex's launcher constellation. I wonder if they will also rename Falcon 9 just Falcon as they seem to be doing away with Falcon 1E. 

"*Target date indicates hardware arrival at launch site"

Any bets whether the hardware will arrive sometime in the last week of December, and the launch will actually take place Q2?

Of course, that assumes normal SpaceX time dilation does not apply.

Yes, I'll take the bet.  I don't think SpaceX will proceed with a 28 engine Heavy.  I know that's what they're touting but what they really want is a cheque to produce Merlin2.  Even fast-tracking the beast will take them some considerable time.  They've still got to raise the finance and get the design underway whilst still continuing development of Dragon Cargo and possibly crew if they get CCDev Rd2 funds.
Good luck doing all that.  They'll need it.

Sorry, wrong bet!

I was responding to the comment that SpaceX would fire off FH before end of 2012, and was betting that it would slide into 2013, and probably later.

However, (unstated) I also agree with your (and other's) rationale that the 3x9 core vehicle could be a hard sell in the market, but Merlin 2 couldn't come on-stream by then, either.

I wonder whether there's any benefit in flying one or two F9H test flights (3x9 cores) before switching over to Merlin 2-based cores? Is removing the "9" from the "Falcon Heavy" name evidence that they're moving that way (more Kreminology, there).

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/03/2011 01:49 pm
I was thinking that they still have to prove a lot of things. Demonstrating that they can launch a Falcon Heavy from Vandemberg, is a nice demonstration of capabilities. They would validate the strongback, clamping, fueling, IB, double staging staging, Vandemberg lanch pad, the launch process, etc. You might not like the odds of a 27 engine monster like that, but I think is a matter of price to find some payload to get that demo cheap (for SpaceX).
They could also work toward developing cross feed technologies with a sort of know quantity (falcon 9). They even could launch a normal Falcon 9 payload, and use the extra weight in experimenting on booster reuse technologies. Since they would have two booster, they could research different approaches. I guess they will have a lower staging than the normal F9 1st stage, so it would be easier for them. Who know, they might even demonstrate an engine "failure" by launching with 8 engine in each booster, for example (is than even possible for smaller loads?). They would loose a 7.4% of thrust from the beginning. But they would save the cost of two merlin 1 and demonstrate said capability. I don't know how much performance would that mean.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/03/2011 02:00 pm
I believe SpaceX will demo a 27 engine Heavy, but they'll want a Merlin2 based Heavy for most paying customers.

I also think dropping the "9" from the Falcon Heavy name implies a Merlin2 solution is closer than many people think.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/03/2011 02:08 pm
If SpaceX can actually demonstrate full engine-out capability (which they do no have right now and will need an engine upgrade to do for the full launch until the upper stage takes over... which I believe was their plan but was not possible because of underperformance of the Merlin 1C variant) and fly dozens of Falcon 9s so that the reliability is equivalent to a single engine variant, I don't see why Merlin 2 is so strictly required. Merlin 2 is really expensive. SpaceX isn't going to build it unless someone pays for it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/03/2011 02:33 pm
I think Falcon heavy is on the schedule to show the DOD they are serious about competing for the EELV contract. If it flies in 2012/13 it will be the largest American rocket available. The PR s-storm this will bring will make it increasingly difficult for the DOD to not allow competition into the launch market. The media are not going to understand the technical differences between the the three core Falcon and the three core Delta IV, except that one is orange and expensive and the other is white and affordable.

And I'm not saying the DOD is evil here, they are in a really hard place. Because they need to have two operational launch systems and the shared overhead of ULA the delta/atlas pair might well be cheaper overall than the delta/falcon or atlas/falcon and would certainly be cheaper than delta/atlas/falcon. And the only way the delta/falcon or atlas/falcon combination will be feasible is if the Falcon 9 and Falcon heavy are reliable enough and have the performance to complete ALL DOD missions (otherwise the redundant launch systems are meaningless).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/03/2011 02:48 pm
To me, the most important demonstration for SpaceX is to prove that they can launch from SLC-40 once every six to eight weeks.  Once CRS and commercial crew are both fully up and running they will have to meet that flight rate, especially if they also have a large number of near-equatorial LEO and GTO non-NASA contracts.

FWIW, there seems to have been a recent change of emphasis, which seems to have coincided with this 'advice' from the USAF.  Any hint of more than basic Dragon missions have been dropped and DragonLab de-prioritised.  Now, the emphasis appears to be on satellite launch to polar and GTO.  Falcon-9 and Falcon Heavy with the Merlin Vac upper stage would be sufficient for any reasonably predictable payloads to those orbits.

Have SpaceX's marketing people changed their predictions on where the money is to be made in the short- to mid-term?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/03/2011 03:27 pm
Merlin 2 is really expensive.

I'm not so sure.

Yes, for SpaceX to develop a new HLV based on Merlin2 and do several demo flights, that would be expensive.

But just to develop Merlin2 for Falcon Heavy, that seems very different.  The demo flights are already built into the Falcon Heavy budget, and SpaceX has a team of engine developers they pay regardless.  So the incremental cost for Merlin2 may not be as much as many people believe.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/03/2011 03:31 pm
What's with everybody's tendency to just ignore the huge Merlin 2 development cost? You can't just magically wave that away and neither can SpaceX. It can have really low per-unit cost for all we care, but so what?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mnagy on 03/03/2011 03:40 pm
Could someone please explain why is the cost for developing Merlin 2 so huge? As someone knowing nothing about rocketry, I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/03/2011 03:53 pm
Could someone please explain why is the cost for developing Merlin 2 so huge? As someone knowing nothing about rocketry, I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?
I asked about the scalability costs of rocket engines. All I got back was doing the turbopump bigger simplifies seals and machining. But scaling pressure vessels is very difficult. But I don't remember from the presentation if Merlin wasn't a more efficient engine.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/03/2011 03:55 pm
I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?

Think of it this way, you can not just double the size of the parts, doubling a length doubles it's length, doubling a dia of a pipe increases fluid flow area by a factor of four, doubling a chambers dimensions increases the volume contained by a factor of 8. So you have to take and rebalance all these things, and that does not include the changes needed due to thermal and pressure changes... You need different thickness of parts, the thermal environment changes and you need a different amount of cooling, ect...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacetraveler on 03/03/2011 04:03 pm
But just to develop Merlin2 for Falcon Heavy, that seems very different.  The demo flights are already built into the Falcon Heavy budget, and SpaceX has a team of engine developers they pay regardless.  So the incremental cost for Merlin2 may not be as much as many people believe.

The cost to develop Merlin 2 would be more than they have spent on everything so far during the entire history of the company.

Where are they going to get that much money unless it comes from a large NASA contract or something similar?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/03/2011 04:06 pm
Could someone please explain why is the cost for developing Merlin 2 so huge? As someone knowing nothing about rocketry, I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?

The change in the mechanical forces on the components also changes, often radically, when you build a larger rocket engine.  You can't just scale up from 120klbf to 1.7Mlbf - the parts would become unfeasably heavy.  Instead you have to build using different materials.

Add onto that that the fluid dynamics of the engine flame inside the combustion chamber and nozzle would be changed by the greater volume.  This change nearly killed the F-1 engine project for the Saturn-V.  Although I'm sure most of the Redstone team's calculations are public domain now, it is another good example of how physics punishes higher performance.

Remember that SpaceX has bought a license for the PWR RS-84.  So, I suspect that Merlin-2 won't be a scaled up Merlin-1, it will be a scaled-up RS-84.  Going from 1.1Mlbf to 1.7Mlbf will probably be a bit easier.  That said, SpaceX is still going to have to learn to use new materials and manufacturing methods to make the engine.  Just putting together the tooling isn't going to be cheap.


The cost to develop Merlin 2 would be more than they have spent on everything so far during the entire history of the company.

Where are they going to get that much money unless it comes from a large NASA contract or something similar?

Possibly DoD? They've been talking about an uprated EELV with a 1Mlbf+ kerolox core engine recently and might be interested in subsidising a competitor to keep ULA honest.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/03/2011 04:46 pm
I think Falcon heavy is on the schedule to show the DOD they are serious about competing for the EELV contract. If it flies in 2012/13 it will be the largest American rocket available. The PR s-storm this will bring will make it increasingly difficult for the DOD to not allow competition into the launch market. The media are not going to understand the technical differences between the the three core Falcon and the three core Delta IV, except that one is orange and expensive and the other is white and affordable.

ULA has a clear USP here at the moment - demonstrated flight history, and the technical depth and resources expended to believe that this is as good as launcher reliability gets at the moment.

ULA launches may be more expensive than SpaceX, but then what proportion is that of the total cost of the mission? Also, what's at stake when a payload gets lost - it's more than just the loss of some extra channels on your satellie TV package:-

They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.  The only customers for that are companies who already own sufficient bandwidth in GEO and can stand to get more on the cheap and whose BoD doesn't mind losing a $200M-$400M asset to ultra-low GSO at the bottom of the Atlantic.  Not going to happen with M1d.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacejulien on 03/03/2011 05:05 pm

Remember that SpaceX has bought a license for the PWR RS-84.  So, I suspect that Merlin-2 won't be a scaled up Merlin-1, it will be a scaled-up RS-84.  Going from 1.1Mlbf to 1.7Mlbf will probably be a bit easier.


Is there a source for SpaceX buying a licence for PWR RS-84? Also, is there some more information (more than this two-page overview (http://www.pwrengineering.com/dataresources/RS-84RocketEngineOverview.pdf)) on the demonstrators built and tests performed up to cancellation?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/03/2011 05:17 pm
Remember that SpaceX has bought a license for the PWR RS-84.

Unconfirmed rumors at best.

So, I suspect that Merlin-2 won't be a scaled up Merlin-1, it will be a scaled-up RS-84.

RS-84 is staged combustion cycle, Merlin 2 would be a gas generator design.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/03/2011 05:19 pm
They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.  The only customers for that are companies who already own sufficient bandwidth in GEO and can stand to get more on the cheap and whose BoD doesn't mind losing a $200M-$400M asset to ultra-low GSO at the bottom of the Atlantic.  Not going to happen with M1d.

cheers, Martin
And don't forget that all this launches are insured. The cost of which is proportional to the cost of the satellite and the launcher's reliability. In an expensive satellite and/or new/unreliable launcher, the cost of insurance (usually around 10%), could potentially be higher than the cost differential between different launcher's cost.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/03/2011 06:15 pm
I think Falcon heavy is on the schedule to show the DOD they are serious about competing for the EELV contract. If it flies in 2012/13 it will be the largest American rocket available. The PR s-storm this will bring will make it increasingly difficult for the DOD to not allow competition into the launch market. The media are not going to understand the technical differences between the the three core Falcon and the three core Delta IV, except that one is orange and expensive and the other is white and affordable.

ULA has a clear USP here at the moment - demonstrated flight history, and the technical depth and resources expended to believe that this is as good as launcher reliability gets at the moment.

ULA launches may be more expensive than SpaceX, but then what proportion is that of the total cost of the mission? Also, what's at stake when a payload gets lost - it's more than just the loss of some extra channels on your satellie TV package:-

They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.  The only customers for that are companies who already own sufficient bandwidth in GEO and can stand to get more on the cheap and whose BoD doesn't mind losing a $200M-$400M asset to ultra-low GSO at the bottom of the Atlantic.  Not going to happen with M1d.

cheers, Martin

I absolutely agree with you. When our soldiers are kicking down doors in Afganistan they need the best and most reliable intelligence and equipment money can buy. The current offerings by ULA meet the national defense needs, they may be expensive, but they work reliably. Adding another launch provider only will decrease the flight rates of the current EELVs, and will not in the end not save that much money because the fixed costs of the EELVs still need to be paid.

My prediction is simply that SpaceX will launch the Falcon heavy as a way of forcing the hand of the DOD to allow them to launch payloads like GPS on the Falcon 9.

I think what is going on is analogous to your kid asking you for a waverunner. You, afraid of the medical consequences but not wanting to face the consequences of flat out saying no, say that if he can earn the money himself, he can have it. After working for a year your kid comes home with his new toy, and now you have a BIG problem.

If a Falcon Heavy lofts a payload to orbit the DOD has a BIG problem.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/03/2011 06:59 pm
If a Falcon Heavy lofts a payload to orbit the DOD has a BIG problem.

Wouldn't it rather be a *pleasant* problem to have? It's not like a F9H launch will instantly remove ULA capability. :) No, they'll just have additional choices.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/03/2011 07:05 pm
If a Falcon Heavy lofts a payload to orbit the DOD has a BIG problem.

Wouldn't it rather be a *pleasant* problem to have? It's not like a F9H launch will instantly remove ULA capability. :) No, they'll just have additional choices.

I think he is implying that ULA's fixed costs will stay the same and are much higher than the variable costs, so by reducing the flight rate ULA's per flight costs will shoot from the Stratosphere to all the way past Solar Escape...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Cherokee43v6 on 03/03/2011 07:24 pm
Which is why ULA is pushing Atlas for a piece of the Commercial Crew pie.  That flight-rate holy grail.

Even though it is not a 'heavy', the fixed costs are spread across all launches, no matter the vehicle config.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/03/2011 07:33 pm
If a Falcon Heavy lofts a payload to orbit the DOD has a BIG problem.

Wouldn't it rather be a *pleasant* problem to have? It's not like a F9H launch will instantly remove ULA capability. :) No, they'll just have additional choices.

I think he is implying that ULA's fixed costs will stay the same and are much higher than the variable costs, so by reducing the flight rate ULA's per flight costs will shoot from the Stratosphere to all the way past Solar Escape...

bingo! The only way for ULA to reduce fixed costs is to eliminate one of the EELVs and even that will reduce far less than half the fixed costs of ULA because of the shared overhead, leaving the remaining rocket astronomically expensive. The only way eliminating one of the current EELVs can be allowed is if someone else can launch the entire range of EELV payloads so the redundancy is maintained. I have extremely high hopes for SpaceX, but currently ULA offers a really hard to beat two rocket solution.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexw on 03/03/2011 07:48 pm
bingo! The only way for ULA to reduce fixed costs is to eliminate one of the EELVs and even that will reduce far less than half the fixed costs of ULA because of the shared overhead, leaving the remaining rocket astronomically expensive. The only way eliminating one of the current EELVs can be allowed is if someone else can launch the entire range of EELV payloads so the redundancy is maintained. I have extremely high hopes for SpaceX, but currently ULA offers a really hard to beat two rocket solution.
   ULA can also reduce fixed costs by eliminating one of their three upper stages, and eventually consolidating on one. They could also consolidate all their payload fairings, especially if the upper stage is enlarged somewhat to buy back the increased weight. Likewise, are also improving Delta's cost structure by consolidating into one CBC, using the RS-68A to buy back the increased weight.
   Whether this is enough to keep ULA competitive against a truely spun-up SpaceX, one does not know. But they're clearly trying.
   -Alex
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/03/2011 07:48 pm

bingo! The only way for ULA to reduce fixed costs is to eliminate one of the EELVs and even that will reduce far less than half the fixed costs of ULA because of the shared overhead, leaving the remaining rocket astronomically expensive. The only way eliminating one of the current EELVs can be allowed is if someone else can launch the entire range of EELV payloads so the redundancy is maintained. I have extremely high hopes for SpaceX, but currently ULA offers a really hard to beat two rocket solution.

I do not think ULA's fixed costs are that simple and disagree.

1. You will still have pratt's overhead and that will have to be adsorbed regardless of how many engine flavors they support.
2. With current staffing all four pads are still running at full throttle, meaning you will need to still maintain four pads, just mod two for the down select.
3. With the exception of Centaur all manufacturing will still stay under the same number of roofs and have the same fixed costs.

It may make some things simpler, but I just don't see at this point a down select having the fixed costs savings desired.

These are not the fixed costs savings you are looking for ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/03/2011 07:55 pm
It can't be a zero-sum game. If there isn't any more demand, then we won't likely be in a better situation. It's possible that more demand may be encouraged by the lower launch prices caused by competition from non-ULA launchers, and ULA may still be able to operate profitably because they will still be able to service a considerable part of the now-larger market.

ULA also is looking for reusable options.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/03/2011 08:00 pm
Lots of people are pooh-poohing the 2012 date for FH, but I'd like to point out again (as someone has to do every few pages) that to meet this date all SpaceX has to do is deliver one or more cores to Vandenberg before the end of 2012. The cores of the Delta IV Heavy that launched from Vandenberg were delivered a year and a half before launch, IIRC. We could see SpaceX start deliveries in 2012 and not launch until 2014, and the web site would be correct.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/03/2011 08:05 pm
Lots of people are pooh-poohing the 2012 date for FH, but I'd like to point out again (as someone has to do every few pages) that to meet this date all SpaceX has to do is deliver one or more cores to Vandenberg before the end of 2012.

Why stop there? Why not just deliver a fairing half by end of 2012 and call it "hardware"? If one starts talking about partial vehicle delivery, the meaning of "hardware arrival at launch site" quickly loses any meaning.

Not that it has a very useful meaning anyway.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/03/2011 08:10 pm
Could someone please explain why is the cost for developing Merlin 2 so huge? As someone knowing nothing about rocketry, I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?
I asked about the scalability costs of rocket engines. All I got back was doing the turbopump bigger simplifies seals and machining. But scaling pressure vessels is very difficult. But I don't remember from the presentation if Merlin wasn't a more efficient engine.

one turbopump, nine nozzles (or maybe five, scaled up a bit).no complaints from DOD any more since they already accept Atlas which is a multi-nozzle engine.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/03/2011 08:32 pm
except that one is orange and expensive and the other is white and affordable.


that is not a given
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/03/2011 09:09 pm
except that one is orange charred black and expensive and the other is white and affordable.


that is not a given

there I fixed it  ;)

I've been making the point that ULA provides a really hard to beat price for a two-rocket system, but I still think SpaceX has a reasonable shot at beating the delta IV on price (but not necessarily on value given the reliability of the ULA launchers).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/03/2011 09:28 pm
Apparently astronaut Garret Reisman recently left NASA and has now taken a position at SpaceX.

Mentioned on this fansite: http://welovegarrettreisman.blogspot.com/2011/01/new-garrett-and-goodbye.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/03/2011 09:28 pm
Back to Merlin 2: combustion doesn't scale well, which SpaceX may already have learned.  Contrast F1 with RD-170.  What's the highest thrust per chamber on a Russian LOX/CH engine?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/03/2011 09:42 pm
Back to Merlin 2: combustion doesn't scale well, which SpaceX may already have learned.  Contrast F1 with RD-170.  What's the highest thrust per chamber on a Russian LOX/CH engine?
No Russian engine that I can tell (that reached anything like completion) had a chamber with more than ~400,000-450,000 pounds of thrust per chamber. RD-180, RD-171, RD-191, NK-33 all have around 400,000 pounds of thrust per chamber.

That being said, there has been progress in understanding combustion instability since those were developed. The problem is that it's a lot more expensive to test at that scale, so not a lot of research gets done at the very high-thrust end of the spectrum.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/03/2011 09:42 pm
I want to bring to everyones attention that there is an important update on the lunar lander launched by Spacex. Includes 3 launches and their target dates as well as a big update on the lander.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24045.msg702473#msg702473
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/03/2011 10:02 pm
If a Falcon Heavy lofts a payload to orbit the DOD has a BIG problem.

Wouldn't it rather be a *pleasant* problem to have? It's not like a F9H launch will instantly remove ULA capability. :) No, they'll just have additional choices.

I think he is implying that ULA's fixed costs will stay the same and are much higher than the variable costs, so by reducing the flight rate ULA's per flight costs will shoot from the Stratosphere to all the way past Solar Escape...

I dont' know why peopel always seem to assume that ULA will not change to match SpaceX in some regards.

A lot of managment at SpaceX came out of ULA, and I fully believe that in the next 5-10 years that's going to become more of a 2 way street, with SpaceX picking up more ULA managment as they move into the larger rockets, and ULA picking up SpaceX managment as they continue (they are fully in the process now) to drive their static costs down.

I still say that SpaceX's price will go up, and ULA will come down in the long term.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/03/2011 10:21 pm
Lots of people are pooh-poohing the 2012 date for FH, but I'd like to point out again (as someone has to do every few pages) that to meet this date all SpaceX has to do is deliver one or more cores to Vandenberg before the end of 2012. The cores of the Delta IV Heavy that launched from Vandenberg were delivered a year and a half before launch, IIRC. We could see SpaceX start deliveries in 2012 and not launch until 2014, and the web site would be correct.

The 2012 date becomes even easier to hit if they pull the same trick they did with the Falcon 9 pad at Slick 40.  Just modify some of their old test 1st stages to allow 3 tank configuration, and a dummy 2nd stage.  Bring it vertical on a completely unplumbed Falcon 9 Heavy strongback and take some pretty pictures.

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/03/2011 11:17 pm

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.

what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/03/2011 11:36 pm

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.

what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X
You mean "Time's best Invention of the year? (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1934027_1934003_1933945,00.html)". Really ...

Of course its a stunt. All of these are stunts. We'll see ton's more stunts.

You know ... sometimes you can "fool all of the people some of the time".

At the moment Ares is still alive. So it's a stunt that worked.

Do stunts put astros in orbit? No. But they do succeed at keeping others from doing the same, perhaps until someone else can ...

add;
What chapps  my hide is not the stunts but paying for them. A half billion for as you put it an "admirals test" still sticks in the craw.

Having a vendor assemble a fake rocket for a photo op is down in the noise in comparison. We've seen test articles many times in the past on a pad.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/04/2011 12:34 am

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.
what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

It was a hollow stunt that allowed them to have "hardware" on the "pad" years before Ares 1, and it got rid of the powerpoint rocket attack for all but professionals like yourself.

I know your immune to the smoke an mirrors on a lot of this, but if you go back how many times did you have to repeat that the rocket on the pad was not going to be launched to people who read this forum?  The average person who posts on this forum is 3 times as informed as your average journalist about this stuff and even most of us where excited.

Bringing a Frankenstein monster Falcon 9 heavy vertical on a dry strong back at a launch complex with no hanger is going to likely be just as effective at getting attention as the 1st one was.  I can see the headlines now.

"SpaceX brings their moon Rocket vertical at Vandenberg Air force Base"
“Falcon 9 brings the highest mass to orbit vehicle since Saturn 5 Vertical”
“SpaceX now has the largest Rocket in the world, at one of the lowest prices”

Will they be true, heck no, but will it get attention, which is all these stunts are for, OF COURSE.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/04/2011 01:49 am

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.
what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

It was a hollow stunt that allowed them to have "hardware" on the "pad" years before Ares 1, and it got rid of the powerpoint rocket attack for all but professionals like yourself.

I know your immune to the smoke an mirrors on a lot of this, but if you go back how many times did you have to repeat that the rocket on the pad was not going to be launched to people who read this forum?  The average person who posts on this forum is 3 times as informed as your average journalist about this stuff and even most of us where excited.

Bringing a Frankenstein monster Falcon 9 heavy vertical on a dry strong back at a launch complex with no hanger is going to likely be just as effective at getting attention as the 1st one was.  I can see the headlines now.

"SpaceX brings their moon Rocket vertical at Vandenberg Air force Base"
“Falcon 9 brings the highest mass to orbit vehicle since Saturn 5 Vertical”
“SpaceX now has the largest Rocket in the world, at one of the lowest prices”

Will they be true, heck now, but will it get attention, which is all these stunts are for, OF COURSE.


The attention is meaningless because the people who matter know it is a ruse

It is not a moon rocket if it is at VAFB
Until it flies is is nothing compared to others.  Even so, it is mass to orbit compared DIV
Again performance and price is not proven
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacetraveler on 03/04/2011 04:35 am
what leverage?

The FY2011 budget request of $6 billion for commercial crew (and thus ultimately commercial crew getting more than they would have in the final result) was in part due to the perception SpaceX created that their Falcon 9 rocket would be a capable crew vehicle before it ever flew.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/04/2011 04:51 am
what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

I don't even know where to start disagreeing with this.  Vastly different playing fields, vastly different amounts of prowess to prove.  F9-001 showed SpaceX was for real, which no one outside of SpaceX had any proof of before that.  F9-001 had 49.9% of SpaceX's reputation on the line.  They could have survived, but not by much.  A lot more people were paying attention to F9-001 than to 1-X.

1-X was a glorified wind tunnel test.  Non-real ballistics, non-real avionics.  NASA had some of its reputation on the line, but many other lines of business were not on the line.  NASA didn't stand to gain much by it, but stood to lose a fair amount.  Rumor was after the odd separation, there were some who wanted to declare a contingency.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 03/04/2011 07:02 am

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.

what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

The 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 showed that the strong back worked and the structure was self supporting - neither of which was a given for a new company like SpaceX.  The pictures may have encouraged the investors to continue investing which would be a large leverage.

The hollow part of Ares I-X is not the first stage only launch but the absence of the Ares I-X2 launch.  The Ares I-X2 could have been the 5 segment lower stage, full interstage and something like a Centaur as upper stage.  Same avionics and a dummy payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/04/2011 07:22 am
The attention is meaningless because the people who matter know it is a ruse

Now, Jim, you know the problem with that statement.  No-one who knows better is a decision-maker.  If, by a mischance, someone who knows better is a decision-maker, they'll be in a vulnerable publicly-elected position (or will rely on the patronage of vulnerable publicly-elected officials) and therefore will be vulnerable to a popular "do it now" mass-media stampede.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 03/04/2011 07:37 am

As much as the professionals here have beat into my head that the 1st Falcon 9 on SL 40 was a waste of money, they sure have leveraged those pictures.
what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

It was a hollow stunt that allowed them to have "hardware" on the "pad" years before Ares 1, and it got rid of the powerpoint rocket attack for all but professionals like yourself.

I know your immune to the smoke an mirrors on a lot of this, but if you go back how many times did you have to repeat that the rocket on the pad was not going to be launched to people who read this forum?  The average person who posts on this forum is 3 times as informed as your average journalist about this stuff and even most of us where excited.

Bringing a Frankenstein monster Falcon 9 heavy vertical on a dry strong back at a launch complex with no hanger is going to likely be just as effective at getting attention as the 1st one was.  I can see the headlines now.

"SpaceX brings their moon Rocket vertical at Vandenberg Air force Base"
“Falcon 9 brings the highest mass to orbit vehicle since Saturn 5 Vertical”
“SpaceX now has the largest Rocket in the world, at one of the lowest prices”

Will they be true, heck no, but will it get attention, which is all these stunts are for, OF COURSE.


The timing of the possible Falcon 9 Heavy test launch is interesting. If SpaceX really want to roll out another PR stunt. They could paint the Falcon 9 Heavy exterior in metallic red scaly pattern and nickname it The Mighty Smaug. Wonder if the Warner Bros film studio would pay to promote their forthcoming Hobbit movies with such an outlandish stunt and the naming rights to the test rocket. A Falcon 9 Heavy lifting off with the backdrop of the hills behind the Vandenberg AFB in the early morning or late afternoon should be spectacular and noisy. Especially if it is a gleaming red rocket.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/04/2011 10:37 am
what leverage?   Just as much a hollow stunt as Ares I-X

I don't even know where to start disagreeing with this.  Vastly different playing fields, vastly different amounts of prowess to prove.  F9-001 showed SpaceX was for real, which no one outside of SpaceX had any proof of before that.  F9-001 had 49.9% of SpaceX's reputation on the line.  They could have survived, but not by much.  A lot more people were paying attention to F9-001 than to 1-X.


Not F9-001 but F9-000, the non flying vehicle that was assembled over the Christmas timeframe to beat the end of the year saying that there was a vehicle on the pad.  That was the stunt, not the first flight
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/04/2011 10:38 am

The FY2011 budget request of $6 billion for commercial crew (and thus ultimately commercial crew getting more than they would have in the final result) was in part due to the perception SpaceX created that their Falcon 9 rocket would be a capable crew vehicle before it ever flew.

No, wrong. The fake vehicle on the pad had nothing to do with that.  The successful flights did.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexw on 03/04/2011 11:21 am
The FY2011 budget request of $6 billion for commercial crew (and thus ultimately commercial crew getting more than they would have in the final result) was in part due to the perception SpaceX created that their Falcon 9 rocket would be a capable crew vehicle before it ever flew.
No, wrong. The fake vehicle on the pad had nothing to do with that.  The successful flights did.
   You mean Falcon 1 Flight 4 and Flight 5? Holdren and his better staff might not have been swayed by F9-000, but surely it made it easier to have the guts to take FY2011 to the Hill. "Look, see! Photographs, not Powerpoint!"
    -Alex
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yamato on 03/04/2011 11:41 am
are there any news on F9 heavy? I just heard they want to focus on it instead of F1e, but nothing more... :(
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/04/2011 12:16 pm
...  I know your immune to the smoke an mirrors on a lot of this, but if you go back how many times did you have to repeat that the rocket on the pad was not going to be launched to people who read this forum?  The average person who posts on this forum is 3 times as informed as your average journalist about this stuff and even most of us where excited.

Bringing a Frankenstein monster Falcon 9 heavy vertical on a dry strong back at a launch complex with no hanger is going to likely be just as effective at getting attention as the 1st one was.  I can see the headlines now.


The attention is meaningless because the people who matter know it is a ruse

Just curious, what is the scope of "people who matter" from your point of view?

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/04/2011 12:51 pm
Not F9-001 but F9-000, the non flying vehicle that was assembled over the Christmas timeframe to beat the end of the year saying that there was a vehicle on the pad.  That was the stunt, not the first flight

Ah, sorry.  Agree.  It was like the 787 that was towed out of the hangar, what, 4-5 years ago.

The people who matter are the rocket buyers in the government and private sector.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of non-technical folks with influence (i.e. Congress) who can be bought off by PR stunts and campaign donations.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/04/2011 01:24 pm
are there any news on F9 heavy? I just heard they want to focus on it instead of F1e, but nothing more... :(

See the beginning of this thread:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24179.msg695586#msg695586

See also the previous SpaceX thread:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22769.msg694687#msg694687
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/04/2011 02:22 pm
Apparently astronaut Garret Reisman recently left NASA and has now taken a position at SpaceX.

He'll be working on astronaut safety & mission assurance.

http://twitter.com/SpaceXer/status/43674418299404288
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris-A on 03/04/2011 05:39 pm
Max Vozoff is live on The Space Show.
One interesting thing, Merlin 1d may have a lower part count than 1c.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacetraveler on 03/04/2011 06:53 pm

The FY2011 budget request of $6 billion for commercial crew (and thus ultimately commercial crew getting more than they would have in the final result) was in part due to the perception SpaceX created that their Falcon 9 rocket would be a capable crew vehicle before it ever flew.

No, wrong. The fake vehicle on the pad had nothing to do with that.  The successful flights did.

I didn't say the vehicle on the pad created the perception for F9's success. But it was part of media effort for it. It was the total sum of SpaceX's operations that created the perception, including the successful F1 flights yes.

F9 got a presidential visit to the pad before it ever flew. SpaceX was relatively skillful in creating a perception that it would be successful before it was ever flown. That is what I'm saying. There were many facets to that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/04/2011 07:15 pm

I didn't say the vehicle on the pad created the perception for F9's success. But it was part of media effort for it. It was the total sum of SpaceX's operations that created the perception, including the successful F1 flights yes.

F9 got a presidential visit to the pad before it ever flew. SpaceX was relatively skillful in creating a perception that it would be successful before it was ever flown. That is what I'm saying. There were many facets to that.

Only to the unwashed masses.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 03/04/2011 07:18 pm

I didn't say the vehicle on the pad created the perception for F9's success. But it was part of media effort for it. It was the total sum of SpaceX's operations that created the perception, including the successful F1 flights yes.

F9 got a presidential visit to the pad before it ever flew. SpaceX was relatively skillful in creating a perception that it would be successful before it was ever flown. That is what I'm saying. There were many facets to that.

Only to the unwashed masses.

"Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and Advertise"

remember that quote?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/04/2011 07:28 pm

"Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and Advertise"

remember that quote?

Never heard it and I am not a student of Von Braun.  His legacy is a dead end branch (there are no derivatives of his vehicles flying any more) much like Goddard's.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/04/2011 07:44 pm
Trust me stunts work. We're in an era of them. There are good ones and bad ones.

They are vital to telling the story, just as much as journalism is. Both have the ability to fool too. The reality is we live in a marketing obsesses world of images. And brands. You establish brands with images first. Lot of empty brands too.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/04/2011 09:21 pm
Back to Merlin 2: combustion doesn't scale well, which SpaceX may already have learned.  Contrast F1 with RD-170.  What's the highest thrust per chamber on a Russian LOX/CH engine?
Because of the instabilities, the relation of surface to volume (wrt heating the lox) or another cause?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/05/2011 12:44 am
Instabilities. I've read the books and understand the basics but not well enough to explain it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris-A on 03/05/2011 02:14 am
Did physics just bite them on the arm for Merlin-2?
Nevermind, it was just a question Antares had.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lee Jay on 03/05/2011 03:03 am
It was like the 787 that was towed out of the hangar, what, 4-5 years ago.

It should be quite easy to remember that date - 7/8/2007.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 03/05/2011 03:14 am

"Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and Advertise"

remember that quote?

Never heard it and I am not a student of Von Braun.

Maybe that's the problem with government run rocket projects nowadays - people have forgotten their history. Here's another history lesson that NASA seems to have forgotten.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnZrnhLxae4
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/05/2011 03:42 am
Or, we take history with a grain of salt.  There's a lot of wistful inaccuracy in the memory of 1960s icons, be they space or otherwise.

Advertising just sells a solution that is not optimal from a cost, schedule and performance perspective.  I'll pass, thanks.

Not sure how the youtube is germane?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacetraveler on 03/05/2011 03:56 am
They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but regarding FH, I don't see why the number of engines is a huge issue. The Soyuz has 20 chambers/nozzles, and that has proven to be a very reliable rocket. Now I realize that is not the same as 20 engines, but when you are talking about adding onto the potential for catastrophic failure, isn't the chamber the most critical element?

I tend to think that a demonstrated flight history of success in the early launches will be more critical for FH than the number of engines.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/05/2011 04:22 am
are there any news on F9 heavy? I just heard they want to focus on it instead of F1e, but nothing more... :(

The SpaceX manifest says that F9 Heavy will fly next year.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/05/2011 04:29 am
Back to Merlin 2: combustion doesn't scale well, which SpaceX may already have learned.  Contrast F1 with RD-170.  What's the highest thrust per chamber on a Russian LOX/CH engine?
No Russian engine that I can tell (that reached anything like completion) had a chamber with more than ~400,000-450,000 pounds of thrust per chamber. RD-180, RD-171, RD-191, NK-33 all have around 400,000 pounds of thrust per chamber.

That being said, there has been progress in understanding combustion instability since those were developed. The problem is that it's a lot more expensive to test at that scale, so not a lot of research gets done at the very high-thrust end of the spectrum.

The single chamber RD-270, with 1.2 million pounds of thrust, was tested in 40 units. Although the engine wasn't perfected,  it worked.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/05/2011 04:53 am
Did physics just bite them on the arm for Merlin-2?

Did someone claim it did?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris-A on 03/05/2011 05:19 am
Did someone claim it did?

Nevermind, it was just a question Antares had.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/05/2011 09:00 am
The SpaceX manifest says that F9 Heavy will fly next year.

That's not what it says.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/05/2011 12:37 pm

Maybe that's the problem with government run rocket projects nowadays - people have forgotten their history. Here's another history lesson that NASA seems to have forgotten.

I don't work government run rocket projects.    The history lesson is not to have government run rocket projects.  So those "lessons" are not applicable. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/05/2011 01:41 pm
Let's not take it personally Jim.
Antares, instabilities are a problem, that is clear. But is a problem that can be overcome. As they've said, both the F1/A and the RD-270 found how to solve it. I don't really know much about pintle injectors. Is it possible that they solve some of the instability problems? In any case the original question (save for the instabilities), was how hard is to take a Merlin 1, and make an Merlin 2 out of it. New in the sense that obviously the walls thickness and/or construction and materials might change, but the layout being generally the same.
From that estimation, then add the cost of solving the instability problems (unknown difficulty, cost and time, I know.)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/05/2011 02:16 pm
They're sorely fooling themselves if they think there's a market full of customers willing to strap their $200M to $2B spacecraft to a first stage with 27 engines.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but regarding FH, I don't see why the number of engines is a huge issue. The Soyuz has 20 chambers/nozzles

Actually 32 chambers and nozzles when you add in the verniers, but it only has 5 turbopumps and 5 pairs of propellant inlets - so really it's only 5 engines.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/05/2011 02:21 pm
As they've said, both the F1/A and the RD-270 found how to solve it. I don't really know much about pintle injectors. Is it possible that they solve some of the instability problems?

F1 is a bad analogy because it cost $1B to solve the instabilities back in the 60s.  That would be $~7B today.

RD-270 is a bad analogy because it is hypergolic and thus has a very different combustion mechanism.

Pintles solve the worst instabilities and create others.  Pintle advocates like to say and think that the ones created are bounded, and others think there's not enough proof of that.

Any serious discussion of whether Merlin can be scaled in a single chamber past 400K-500K needs to read the books on instabilities.  It's too complicated of a problem to hand wave.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/05/2011 02:34 pm
The SpaceX manifest says that F9 Heavy will fly next year.

That's not what it says.

From the SpaceX Launch Manifest web page:

Falcon Heavy Demo Flight - 2012 - Falcon Heavy - Vandenberg

Am I misreading this?  ???
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/05/2011 02:37 pm
Any serious discussion of whether Merlin can be scaled in a single chamber past 400K-500K needs to read the books on instabilities.  It's too complicated of a problem to hand wave.

No problem is too complicated to hand wave, by definition.

I wonder if a Merlin 1.5 at 500K thrust might not be sufficient for Elon Musk to conquer the solar system .....
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/05/2011 02:39 pm
The SpaceX manifest says that F9 Heavy will fly next year.

That's not what it says.

From the SpaceX Launch Manifest web page:

Falcon Heavy Demo Flight - 2012 - Falcon Heavy - Vandenberg

Am I misreading this?  ???

No, but you're missing this:

*Target date indicates hardware arrival at launch site
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: gospacex on 03/05/2011 04:23 pm
I just keep thinking "just make Merlin 1 bigger", but this obviously isn't so easy to do. So, why not?

Think of it this way, you can not just double the size of the parts, doubling a length doubles it's length, doubling a dia of a pipe increases fluid flow area by a factor of four, doubling a chambers dimensions increases the volume contained by a factor of 8. So you have to take and rebalance all these things, and that does not include the changes needed due to thermal and pressure changes... You need different thickness of parts, the thermal environment changes and you need a different amount of cooling, ect...

How is this different from what you need to do while developing a relatively small Merlin-1 engine? How "rebalancing all these things" is drastically different on a big one? Why is it _drastically_ different?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/05/2011 04:33 pm
How is this different from what you need to do while developing a relatively small Merlin-1 engine?

It's different. They didn't change the physical scale of Merlin 1. Other changes came into play such as a turbopump upgrade, regen cooling, etc and they were responsible for performance increases.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nomadd on 03/05/2011 04:49 pm
 Even if everything was different, why would the bigger engine cost so much more than the small one to design and develop? Wouldn't the complexity be about the same? I can see larger tooling and machining equipment and more expensive test facilities, but that wouldn't seem to account for the numbers people are tossing around.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: wintermuted on 03/05/2011 05:02 pm

F1 is a bad analogy because it cost $1B to solve the instabilities back in the 60s.  That would be $~7B today.

Any serious discussion of whether Merlin can be scaled in a single chamber past 400K-500K needs to read the books on instabilities.  It's too complicated of a problem to hand wave.

I'm certainly no expert on combustion, and this may be why you're calling it a bad analogy, but my assumption is that advances in analytical methods and the availability of computing power would significantly reduce the amount of testing required vs. the 60's.  It still will require testing and will not be cheap or trivial, but these factors would probably weigh heavily when converting the cost from 1960s dollars into 2011 dollars.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/05/2011 05:09 pm

F1 is a bad analogy because it cost $1B to solve the instabilities back in the 60s.  That would be $~7B today.

Any serious discussion of whether Merlin can be scaled in a single chamber past 400K-500K needs to read the books on instabilities.  It's too complicated of a problem to hand wave.

I'm certainly no expert on combustion, and this may be why you're calling it a bad analogy, but my assumption is that advances in analytical methods and the availability of computing power would significantly reduce the amount of testing required vs. the 60's.  It still will require testing and will not be cheap or trivial, but these factors would probably weigh heavily when converting the cost from 1960s dollars into 2011 dollars.
You would think that'd be the case, but generally costs of developing rockets have increased since the 1960s. All that computing power tends to get spent to improve performance (slightly) and especially reliability.

The analytical advancements still should help some with combustion instability issues, though.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/05/2011 05:56 pm
F1 is a bad analogy because it cost $1B to solve the instabilities back in the 60s.  That would be $~7B today.
RD-270 is a bad analogy because it is hypergolic and thus has a very different combustion mechanism.
Not a bad analogy. May be a reason to suspect they are underestimating the cost and effort of a big chamber. The example were put to show that it can be done. I was trying to estimate the required cost. If it took 1B (65 dollars) just to solve the instabilities, and SpaceX can't leverage any of that knowledge to solve their (potential) problems, then I would seriously doubt that they can do it.
On the other hand, if they know instabilities ares going to be a problem, and they can start from where the F1 was (do the test setup with explosives, and make the turbo feedbacks that prevented the over pressures), then it might be feasible for them.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/05/2011 09:31 pm
Listening to the Space show interview with Max Vozoff.

According to Mr Vozoff part of the qualifying process for the Merlin 1C is dropping a #10 nut down both the Fuel and Oxygen sides of the Engine, and letting the motor chew it up and spit it out.

A.  WTF does any other company do that crazy of test to their engine?

B.  I can't even wrap my head around how having a blade coming off a turbo pump at the speed they turn can be a survivable event, much less a standard part of testing.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/05/2011 10:26 pm
I doubt it is part of the acceptance test for engines destined for actual flight. It sounds more like certification testing for engines after design modifications - kind of how Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney test their commercial jet engines by shooting various kinds of debris at them (like frozen poultry) to make sure that the engine won't disintegrate in a destructive manner. But they wouldn't take those engines after that and mount them on actual aircraft.

An example bird strike test:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSafRuLB0c0
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/05/2011 10:32 pm
According to Mr Vozoff part of the qualifying process for the Merlin 1C is dropping a #10 nut down both the Fuel and Oxygen sides of the Engine, and letting the motor chew it up and spit it out.

A.  WTF does any other company do that crazy of test to their engine?

B.  I can't even wrap my head around how having a blade coming off a turbo pump at the speed they turn can be a survivable event, much less a standard part of testing.

You said it yourself, it was part of the engine qualification testing. Flight engines are acceptance fired only. And yes, I do believe other engine manufacturers do similar FOD ingestion testing during development. At least on engines meant to fly humans.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kkattula on 03/06/2011 02:05 am
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

If combustion instability is a big issue above 500 to 600 klbf, might not they consider a 2 or 3 chamber/nozzle, 1 to1.5 mlbf engine, with a common turbo-pump?

Seems like less of a stretch from Merlin-1 and they might be able to test a single chamber/nozzle at a time.
 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 02:24 am
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.
(http://mysite.verizon.net/vzenu6hr/ebay_pictures/SpaceX_Propulsion09.jpg)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/06/2011 02:53 am
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.

or two, side on in the picture..
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/06/2011 03:01 am
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?
They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.

How many times does it have to be said that is NOT the official SpaceX policy?

SpaceX will likely eventually get commerical crew funding, or less likely Merlin 2 funding, but no way they are going to get both.  They just don't have nearly the cash to fund either of these projects in the short term on their own dime.

But in the real world why do they need Merlin 2 anyway?  They have a full manifest for the next 1/2 decade, and Falcon 9 heavy will hopefully get a test launch next year from a brand new 3rd SpaceX pad.

For Merlin 2 to ever pay back it's development costs they are going to have to use it for hundreds of launches.  Why not just use the heck out of Merlin 1C-D-e? till SpaceX techs are as tired of seeing it as the Russian engineers must be of the RD-1xx family.

Customers don't want 27 engines on their launchers, but if Falcon Heavy gets 2-3 consecutive launches with no issues then surely the frugal ones will change their mind, and with a beast like that you only need 2-3 a year to make it well worth building.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: daveklingler on 03/06/2011 03:16 am
Or, we take history with a grain of salt.  There's a lot of wistful inaccuracy in the memory of 1960s icons, be they space or otherwise.

Advertising just sells a solution that is not optimal from a cost, schedule and performance perspective.  I'll pass, thanks.

Not sure how the youtube is germane?

Sam Phillips is talking about the problems NASA had with North American, some of which ultimately led to the Apollo I fire.  North American had essentially been anointed by Congress to be the lead contractor for S2 and CSM.  They'd had a lot of QC problems on past NASA and military contracts, and von Braun didn't want them, but he didn't have any choice.  There were numerous visits by NASA reps, including astronauts, out to Seal Beach, to try to get NA to move on the numerous problems with the vehicles.  I don't remember much about the problems with S2, but several conflicts had to do with combustible materials in CSM-012; NA didn't want to pull them out but was ultimately persuaded to do so, only to have their Kennedy team reinstall the materials along with the other elements that caused the fire and the deaths of Grissom, Chaffee and White.  NASA stepped in and covered for North American afterward, assuming much of the official blame.  After Apollo I NASA began heavy-duty contractor oversight in every step of the process, vastly increasing costs but, some would argue, necessarily so for Apollo's ultimate success.

If I'm understanding it, I think pummuf's point is that in attempting to remove NASA from the space business we're forgetting why those oversight processes were put into place.  I think that if privatization of space is successful, we're going to experience some pretty gruesome deaths, but that's a necessary part of the process.  As more people travel into space the small companies will get consolidated by big companies who place more emphasis on the bottom line than on safety, which will in all likelihood lead to deaths and lawsuits.  If we make it past that stage we might have an industry.

Regardless, the present system isn't getting us much of anything but jobs for mid-level managers.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 03:31 am
How many times does it have to be said that is NOT the official SpaceX policy?

What exactly does "official policy" mean for a privately funded company?  If I remember correctly, Dragon development was fairly well along before SpaceX said anything about it publicly.  I'm sure there are things SpaceX is developing right now that they haven't announced publicly.  I think it's well within the scope of this thread to speculate on this.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: HMXHMX on 03/06/2011 03:43 am
Or, we take history with a grain of salt.  There's a lot of wistful inaccuracy in the memory of 1960s icons, be they space or otherwise.

Advertising just sells a solution that is not optimal from a cost, schedule and performance perspective.  I'll pass, thanks.

Not sure how the youtube is germane?

Sam Phillips is talking about the problems NASA had with North American, some of which ultimately led to the Apollo I fire.  North American had essentially been anointed by Congress to be the lead contractor for S2 and CSM.  They'd had a lot of QC problems on past NASA and military contracts, and von Braun didn't want them, but he didn't have any choice.  There were numerous visits by NASA reps, including astronauts, out to Seal Beach, to try to get NA to move on the numerous problems with the vehicles.  I don't remember much about the problems with S2, but several conflicts had to do with combustible materials in CSM-012; NA didn't want to pull them out but was ultimately persuaded to do so, only to have their Kennedy team reinstall the materials along with the other elements that caused the fire and the deaths of Grissom, Chaffee and White.  NASA stepped in and covered for North American afterward, assuming much of the official blame.  After Apollo I NASA began heavy-duty contractor oversight in every step of the process, vastly increasing costs but, some would argue, necessarily so for Apollo's ultimate success.

If I'm understanding it, I think pummuf's point is that in attempting to remove NASA from the space business we're forgetting why those oversight processes were put into place.  I think that if privatization of space is successful, we're going to experience some pretty gruesome deaths, but that's a necessary part of the process.  As more people travel into space the small companies will get consolidated by big companies who place more emphasis on the bottom line than on safety, which will in all likelihood lead to deaths and lawsuits.  If we make it past that stage we might have an industry.

Regardless, the present system isn't getting us much of anything but jobs for mid-level managers.

I guess those 14 Shuttle deaths weren't gruesome?  Did oversight prevent them?

Note: I'm not trying to provoke a fight with the poster because I think that the post was sober and thoughtful, but the notion that private industry is automatically more callous regarding crew safety than NASA seems to be a common trope among some government staff, their pet reporters, and certainly among politicians that have a political ax to grind.  Private firms pay dearly for indifference to safety, while NASA officials ... not so much these days.  Who was fired over Challenger or Columbia?  Who lost their pensions?

If anything, private operators have a more acute understanding of the consequences of their actions, since they lack sovereign immunity.  It was certainly on my mind when I signed off on flight testing with human crews, and when my techs handled dangerous propellants, or ran hazardous tests.  I thank my lucky stars that I've never faced a time-lost accident in thirty-plus years, but I've seen the consequences of other firm's mistakes up close and personal.

Bottom line: we chose to operate in a dangerous business.  Accidents happen to private and public programs alike.  Let's remember we think this effort – opening the space frontier to humanity – is worth the risks. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 04:35 am
After Apollo I NASA began heavy-duty contractor oversight in every step of the process, vastly increasing costs but, some would argue, necessarily so for Apollo's ultimate success.

If I'm understanding it, I think pummuf's point is that in attempting to remove NASA from the space business we're forgetting why those oversight processes were put into place. 

With Apollo I, they were doing things that had never been done before, and they were doing it in a big hurry.  So the level of oversight after Apollo I made sense at that time.

With commercial space, they're doing things that have been done many times before, and they're not rushing against a presidential deadline. It's obvious to me that this requires much less oversight, and the COTS / CRS model reflects that.

Bottom line:
When you're doing things that have never been done before, NASA should be involved in every step of the process.  When you're doing more mundane LEO missions, NASA has to learn how to back off and let others take over the process.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/06/2011 10:11 am
What exactly does "official policy" mean for a privately funded company?

Whatever Elon tells his troops to work on.

Of course, that doesn't mean we'll get to hear about it., what you might call the "public" SpaceX policy.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/06/2011 10:16 am
With commercial space, ... they're not rushing against a presidential deadline.

They have their own time pressures, eg meeting COTS & CRS deadlines (and the ending of Shuttle), and the ending of INKNSA waivers in 2016.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 03/06/2011 11:51 am
Listening to the Space show interview with Max Vozoff.

slightly off topic...
besides the #10 nut comment he mentions lots of very interesting things (to me at least) on how and why space cost are so expensive.  He mentions Spacex was to buy things out of house but the parts cost were so high Spacex decided to make them in house while the outside suppliers figured spacex would come back later for the part they needed since they were the only game in town.
Max then mentions his venture to lower costs by talking about a new propulsion system to replace hyperbols (http://www.ispsllc.com/nofbx.html)  it seems to good to be true.. maybe start a new thread talking about it?
The discussion on lowering costs overall I found very intriguing. Basically, the more the merrier to lower costs for all parts.  As commercial space ramps up more suppliers will be around to make the parts or give the service to the companies involved.  An example you can make now is..since Masten and Armidillo have an engine they will compete for a contract and it will be a much lower cost if, say, Masten was the only game in town. 

I'm thinking once cost to space is lowered a good market would be a space tug. (I can't see why one wouldn't be needed) There are so many ways to do it..let capitalism take over to find the best cost. 

The comment on getting a job at spacex was interesting as well.  He discusses how getting employees at the start compares to how competitive it is now.

A must listen to if you haven't listened yet.
Max talk is here.  (http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/max-vozoff-friday-3-4-11/)

jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/06/2011 01:23 pm
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.
(http://mysite.verizon.net/vzenu6hr/ebay_pictures/SpaceX_Propulsion09.jpg)

Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 01:29 pm
Listening to the Space show interview with Max Vozoff.

slightly off topic...
besides the #10 nut comment he mentions lots of very interesting things (to me at least) on how and why space cost are so expensive.  He mentions Spacex was to buy things out of house but the parts cost were so high Spacex decided to make them in house while the outside suppliers figured spacex would come back later for the part they needed since they were the only game in town.

Here's that part of the interview:

There's a YouTube video of Elon speaking somewhere in 2003 saying ...  "we're really just a systems integrator, we're buying things from other people", but by the time I showed up in 2005 that had completely turned around and pretty much everything was getting done in-house. 

And you can see why when you see the interactions with these suppliers, particularly the ones in the space industry.  They think they're the only ones who can make this widget or who have the secret sauce, and when you say "no, you're too expensive", they say "well, that's what it is". And they're used to customers who, if they slip the schedule and double the price, the customer shrugs and goes back to headquarters and says, "well, it's gonna take twice as long and it's gonna cost twice as much", and that's how things go in a traditional government run program.

But SpaceX would say "no, that's not acceptable", and they'd cancel the contract.  And sometimes these suppliers were literally scoffing on the phone as you hung up, and call you back a couple of months later saying "so, have you changed your mind yet?"  And being able to say to them that "no, if you can do it, then maybe somebody else can do it too", like either SpaceX figured out how to do it themselves, because they hired some smart people and gave them the resources and tools, or you find another supplier with maybe a non-space version and you upgrade and qualify it for space. 

And now what you've done, this backward supplier has bred a competitor for themselves, where they're not used to competition.  I mean, many of the suppliers in this industry would just go out of business in a heartbeat if competition were actually introduced.

So really that's the game changing stuff that SpaceX has been doing: bringing stuff in-house, not just because it gives them control of cost and schedule, but because the space suppliers, traditional suppliers just don't get it.  They're not used to being held to schedules and budgets.

And that's not true of everybody, but there is list of anecdotes I could tell you about suppliers with this attitude.  And in each case either SpaceX brings in in-house and makes it successfully, or they find another supplier and upgrade it, and that supplier is usually thrilled to have a whole new market opened up for them.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 01:53 pm
Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.

It came from a couple of presentations from Tom Markusic last summer.  He's the director of SpaceX's Texas rocket development facility.  You can see the full presentations here:
http://www.nasawatch.com/archives/2010/08/spacex-gives-a.html

When these presentations were posted on the internet, they caused quite a stir, with many speculating how real this was.  This prompted Elon Musk to make a statement that none of these projects were announced, and that these were just ideas for brainstorming.

But as I've said before, it's not unusual for commercial company to publicly downplay or cover up things they're working on internally.  For example, you know that Apple is already working on the iPad3, but they really don't want you to know too much about it, otherwise iPad2 sales would decline.  So I believe it's completely within the realm of possibility that SpaceX is working toward Merlin2 while publicly denying it.  Obviously, this is speculation, but that's within the scope of this thread.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2011 02:00 pm
But as I've said before, it's not unusual for commercial company to publicly downplay or cover up things they're working on internally.  For example, you know that Apple is already working on the iPad3, but they really don't want you to know too much about it, otherwise iPad2 sales would decline.  So I believe it's completely within the realm of possibility that SpaceX is working toward Merlin2 while publicly denying it.  Obviously, this is speculation, but that's within the scope of this thread.

It is too much speculation and approaching fanasty and fanboisism.

It is one invalidated data point.  Too much is being read into it for even this thread.  You are marginalizing yourself.

Your analogy is not applicable, this isn't consumer electronics
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/06/2011 02:25 pm
But as I've said before, it's not unusual for commercial company to publicly downplay or cover up things they're working on internally.  For example, you know that Apple is already working on the iPad3, but they really don't want you to know too much about it, otherwise iPad2 sales would decline.  So I believe it's completely within the realm of possibility that SpaceX is working toward Merlin2 while publicly denying it.  Obviously, this is speculation, but that's within the scope of this thread.

Dave, all I think any of us are saying is that you can't go very far down the path to developing any of these concepts without dedicated staff.  SpaceX is not going to self fund dedicated staff for Merlin 2 or Falcon X.

There are two classes of product that these companies produce.

Products where the cost is low enough, and the short term profit is high enough to justify internally funding their development.  They are simply waiting on customer demand to be large enough to justify their development:

-Dragon Lab
-Merlin 1D
-Falcon 9 from Vandenberg
-Falcon Heavy

And products that are not profitable enough in the short term to cover their development costs, so if they are to be developed, you not only have to sign a contract to purchase the product, you have to commit to pay for it's development.

-Dragon LAS
-Merlin 2
-Falcon X
-Raptor

I am sure there are documents related to all these projects on the SpaceX servers, but dimes to donuts DragonLab, Merlin1D, Vandenberg Pad, and Falcon Heavy all have dedicated staff, and the 2nd category does not.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/06/2011 02:48 pm
I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves.  Let's see a few more Falcon 9 and Dragon flights first.

Yes, I'm impatient too.  I want Moon bases and Mars colonies just as much as the next guy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/06/2011 03:56 pm
And that's not true of everybody, but there is list of anecdotes I could tell you about suppliers with this attitude.  And in each case either SpaceX brings in in-house and makes it successfully, or they find another supplier and upgrade it, and that supplier is usually thrilled to have a whole new market opened up for them.

And that right there is exactly it.  In today's corporate culture, management always opts to change engineering tasks to procurement tasks.

This is because procurement is "neat" and engineering is "messy".  It doesn't matter that at the end someone has to do the engineering... 

The "mess" gets obfuscated by an endless chain of vendor-customer procurement interfaces, cost goes through the roof, and design flexibility goes to the toilet, since any change results in a cascade of change orders and re-negotiations.   What a couple of engineers could have resolved in a day becomes a complete new Gantt chart with a life of its own.

There's a reason why despite all the new tools, as someone observed in a parallel thread, the cost of developing anything is higher than it was in the good old 60's.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/06/2011 05:22 pm
slightly off topic...
besides the #10 nut comment he mentions lots of very interesting things (to me at least) on how and why space cost are so expensive.  He mentions Spacex was to buy things out of house but the parts cost were so high Spacex decided to make them in house while the outside suppliers figured spacex would come back later for the part they needed since they were the only game in town.

Here's that part of the interview:

There's a YouTube video of Elon speaking somewhere in 2003 saying ...  "we're really just a systems integrator, we're buying things from other people", but by the time I showed up in 2005 that had completely turned around and pretty much everything was getting done in-house. 

And you can see why when you see the interactions with these suppliers, particularly the ones in the space industry.  They think they're the only ones who can make this widget or who have the secret sauce, and when you say "no, you're too expensive", they say "well, that's what it is". And they're used to customers who, if they slip the schedule and double the price, the customer shrugs and goes back to headquarters and says, "well, it's gonna take twice as long and it's gonna cost twice as much", and that's how things go in a traditional government run program.

But SpaceX would say "no, that's not acceptable", and they'd cancel the contract.  And sometimes these suppliers were literally scoffing on the phone as you hung up, and call you back a couple of months later saying "so, have you changed your mind yet?"  And being able to say to them that "no, if you can do it, then maybe somebody else can do it too", like either SpaceX figured out how to do it themselves, because they hired some smart people and gave them the resources and tools, or you find another supplier with maybe a non-space version and you upgrade and qualify it for space. 

And now what you've done, this backward supplier has bred a competitor for themselves, where they're not used to competition.  I mean, many of the suppliers in this industry would just go out of business in a heartbeat if competition were actually introduced.

So really that's the game changing stuff that SpaceX has been doing: bringing stuff in-house, not just because it gives them control of cost and schedule, but because the space suppliers, traditional suppliers just don't get it.  They're not used to being held to schedules and budgets.

And that's not true of everybody, but there is list of anecdotes I could tell you about suppliers with this attitude.  And in each case either SpaceX brings in in-house and makes it successfully, or they find another supplier and upgrade it, and that supplier is usually thrilled to have a whole new market opened up for them.



Link?

SpaceX cannot do everything at once.  You simply cannot hire that many quality people quickly.  Remember, SpaceX relies HEAVILY upon the internal culture of the company.  You do not want to hire a rotten apple.

JMHO but Falcon 1e is not dead... its on a vacation.  But even if it is dead, Falcon 1's legacy will be an awesome testbed for developing the basic hardware, systems, and processes that are now being utilized in Falcon 9.

SpaceX still has a long ways to go but every should feel happy with the progress they have made... obviously, some will not.  Kinda like the whole Obama moon analogy:  Been there, done that...

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/06/2011 05:41 pm
On The Space Show former SpaceX'er Max Vozoff said that they try to weed out those who won't fit the culture during interviews - and after.  Made it sound like their probationary period is aggressively used for culling the herd than being pro forma.

He also said that one of the qualification tests for Merlin was dropping a #10 nut into the turbopump inlets.  If it lost a blade but the engine kept working, it passed. Made the example of Sea Launch's RD-170/171 explosion being a fail.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: FinalFrontier on 03/06/2011 05:45 pm
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.
(http://mysite.verizon.net/vzenu6hr/ebay_pictures/SpaceX_Propulsion09.jpg)

Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.

Been around for ages. Came from a report a few years back by spacex and a more recent one on Spacex's HLV evolution plans.

You won't probably find that on their website because its all still in the very early stages at this point, at least where Falcon 9 (2) and merlin 2 are concerned. Work has most likely started, however, on the merlin 2. No idea when these things will debut but probably not for another 4 years at least.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/06/2011 06:00 pm
Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.

Been around for ages. Came from a report a few years back by spacex

No, it didn't. It dates back from a presentation from last year, not several years back.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/06/2011 06:01 pm
On The Space Show former SpaceX'er Max Vozoff said that they try to weed out those who won't fit the culture during interviews - and after.  Made it sound like their probationary period is aggressively used for culling the herd than being pro forma.


Sounds like a cult
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: FinalFrontier on 03/06/2011 06:02 pm
Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.

Been around for ages. Came from a report a few years back by spacex

No, it didn't. It dates back from a presentation from last year, not several years back.

Sorry, wrong timeline. Thought they had another one on this a couple years back as well.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 03/06/2011 06:23 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 06:24 pm
Link?
A must listen to if you haven't listened yet.
Max talk is here.  (http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/max-vozoff-friday-3-4-11/)

jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/06/2011 07:09 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).

Good news, and that pretty much settles that discussion. :P
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/06/2011 07:13 pm

Dave, all I think any of us are saying is that you can't go very far down the path to developing any of these concepts without dedicated staff.  SpaceX is not going to self fund dedicated staff for Merlin 2 or Falcon X.

Why is dedicated staff required?  Most development works like a pipeline: design, verification, test, operation, with specialization in each phase.  By the time you get into test, the majority of the design team's work is done.  By the time you get into operation, the designers are either sitting around waiting for something to break, or working on the next project.  So to me it seems just the opposite, that you would need to keep new projects in the pipeline to keep your existing staff productive and happy.


And products that are not profitable enough in the short term to cover their development costs, so if they are to be developed, you not only have to sign a contract to purchase the product, you have to commit to pay for it's development.

-Dragon LAS
-Merlin 2
-Falcon X
-Raptor


SpaceX has made it clear they're not after short term profit.  In fact, Elon stated specifically that they would do some things that aren't profitable, if it accelerates their long-term vision, as long as total income exceeds expenses. 

SpaceX has also said publicly they will develop a launch abort system with or without NASA, but that it would take much longer without NASA.

As for Falcon X, I agree that SpaceX wouldn't develop this on their own dime, but that doesn't mean NASA would have to pay for the entire development.  Don't discount the public/private partnership model.  SpaceX has a lot to gain on the commercial side with Merlin2, and the Falcon X non-heavy version may have commercial applications as well.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Halidon on 03/06/2011 08:38 pm
Sounds like a cult
So does Apple inc. And Google. Works for them.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: neilh on 03/06/2011 09:34 pm
Sounds like a cult
So does Apple inc. And Google. Works for them.

Indeed, these sorts of cultural fit issues are pretty typical for a tech startup. I've been interviewing with a fair number of tech startups in the past few weeks, each with its own particular culture, and a fair percentage of the questions asked have nothing to do with my abilities but are more concerned with gauging how I would fit in with that particular startup's culture. In SpaceX's case I'm sure it means they pass over a fair number of perfectly good engineers, but it helps in the long run with team solidarity and cultivating the particular type of mindset the company's leader is looking for. So yeah, cult-like in some ways, but it helps the company accomplish what it wants and seems to make team members happier.

http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2011/03/02/cultural-fit-lh/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/07/hiring-the-right-fit-for-your.php

-- Neil (who coincidentally has about 5 hours of interviews at Google tomorrow ;) )
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/06/2011 09:34 pm

And products that are not profitable enough in the short term to cover their development costs, so if they are to be developed, you not only have to sign a contract to purchase the product, you have to commit to pay for it's development.

-Dragon LAS
-Merlin 2
-Falcon X
-Raptor


SpaceX has made it clear they're not after short term profit.  In fact, Elon stated specifically that they would do some things that aren't profitable, if it accelerates their long-term vision, as long as total income exceeds expenses. 

SpaceX has also said publicly they will develop a launch abort system with or without NASA, but that it would take much longer without NASA.

As for Falcon X, I agree that SpaceX wouldn't develop this on their own dime, but that doesn't mean NASA would have to pay for the entire development.  Don't discount the public/private partnership model.  SpaceX has a lot to gain on the commercial side with Merlin2, and the Falcon X non-heavy version may have commercial applications as well.

The issue is that the things listed would all require, by SpaceX's own admission, more money than they have spent to date.  SpaceX might not be in it for short term profit, but they are in it to survive.

In a way what SpaceX did was brilliant, they managed to chop the development of Falcon 9 + Dragon into small enough chunks that they never ran themselves broke.  The only issue is that these items don't lend themselves to being chopped up into small peices that the staff they already have can digest.

Without extra funding they might develop this stuff, in the 2030-2040 timeframe.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/06/2011 10:50 pm
I don't know what types of funding SpaceX has in store, but they are not in standard operating mode where the only funds are based on revenue/profit.

For that matter, if you were to look (say 3-4 years ago) at the list of goals (Kestrel/Merlin/Draco/Falcon1/Falcon9/Dragon) and the amount of money they had, you could have reached the exact same conclusion, no?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/07/2011 12:52 am
Is there any evidence Space-X has said Merlin-2 would a single chamber/nozzle engine?

They've been showing a single chamber on thier pictures.
(http://mysite.verizon.net/vzenu6hr/ebay_pictures/SpaceX_Propulsion09.jpg)

Where did that illustration come from?  I can't find anything about Merlin 2 or Falcon X on their website.

See this thread:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22395.0
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/07/2011 12:55 am
Sounds like a cult
So does Apple inc. And Google. Works for them.

Indeed, these sorts of cultural fit issues are pretty typical for a tech startup. I've been interviewing with a fair number of tech startups in the past few weeks, each with its own particular culture, and a fair percentage of the questions asked have nothing to do with my abilities but are more concerned with gauging how I would fit in with that particular startup's culture. In SpaceX's case I'm sure it means they pass over a fair number of perfectly good engineers, but it helps in the long run with team solidarity and cultivating the particular type of mindset the company's leader is looking for. So yeah, cult-like in some ways, but it helps the company accomplish what it wants and seems to make team members happier.

http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2011/03/02/cultural-fit-lh/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/2010/07/hiring-the-right-fit-for-your.php

-- Neil (who coincidentally has about 5 hours of interviews at Google tomorrow ;) )

Good luck with the interviews.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/07/2011 03:03 am

Sam Phillips is talking about the problems NASA had with North American, some of which ultimately led to the Apollo I fire.  North American had essentially been anointed by Congress to be the lead contractor for S2 and CSM.  They'd had a lot of QC problems on past NASA and military contracts, and von Braun didn't want them, but he didn't have any choice.  There were numerous visits by NASA reps, including astronauts, out to Seal Beach, to try to get NA to move on the numerous problems with the vehicles.
<snip>
I think that if privatization of space is successful, we're going to experience some pretty gruesome deaths, but that's a necessary part of the process.  As more people travel into space the small companies will get consolidated by big companies who place more emphasis on the bottom line than on safety, which will in all likelihood lead to deaths and lawsuits.  If we make it past that stage we might have an industry.

Glad I called someone out.  It yielded a very good response.  Lots of truism in here.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mikegi on 03/07/2011 04:03 am
On The Space Show former SpaceX'er Max Vozoff said that they try to weed out those who won't fit the culture during interviews - and after.  Made it sound like their probationary period is aggressively used for culling the herd than being pro forma.

Sounds like a cult
Sounds like a typical high-tech startup that wants to get things done, not wallow in HR baloney. I don't know if SpaceX will succeed or not in the long term but I like what I'm hearing about 'em.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lampyridae on 03/07/2011 01:59 pm
And that's not true of everybody, but there is list of anecdotes I could tell you about suppliers with this attitude.  And in each case either SpaceX brings in in-house and makes it successfully, or they find another supplier and upgrade it, and that supplier is usually thrilled to have a whole new market opened up for them.

And that right there is exactly it.  In today's corporate culture, management always opts to change engineering tasks to procurement tasks.

This is because procurement is "neat" and engineering is "messy".  It doesn't matter that at the end someone has to do the engineering... 

The "mess" gets obfuscated by an endless chain of vendor-customer procurement interfaces, cost goes through the roof, and design flexibility goes to the toilet, since any change results in a cascade of change orders and re-negotiations.   What a couple of engineers could have resolved in a day becomes a complete new Gantt chart with a life of its own.

There's a reason why despite all the new tools, as someone observed in a parallel thread, the cost of developing anything is higher than it was in the good old 60's.



Brings to mind the Value Chain, a pretty basic management tool.

http://www.themanager.org/models/valuechain.htm

Chinese companies are building factories in America because it's cost-effective to do so. For a long time there was a "you can't get fired for outsourcing to China" vibe in management (and still is). Outsourcing is a fetish all of its own.

A lot of companies build factories in the market countries even though it is more expensive, simply to avoid other knock-on effects like linguistic and cultural barriers, (or corrupt Chinese officials/partners) or to have faster time-to-market, or to ensure maximum quality (spot a trend here?). Sometimes it's just better to do it in house.

All of these concepts are of course alien to NASA. I can't believe Griffin had an MBA...

mikegi:
Quote
Sounds like a typical high-tech startup that wants to get things done, not wallow in HR baloney. I don't know if SpaceX will succeed or not in the long term but I like what I'm hearing about 'em.

HR fluffery is often a pretext for exploitation. Spend money on props and treats for the young inductees and they'll be sweating away in the salt mines out of sheer gratitude and fanb0ism / girlism. Especially in the "knowledge" industries. At least SpaceX is quite up front about how tough the work life can be.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/07/2011 02:44 pm
yup.  There are valid reasons to subcontract or outsource - sometimes.

I use FedEx, I don't drive it myself.  I buy adhesives, I don't develop them.

But what has happened is that it became more than the fetish - it became the norm, the default, to procure instead of develop.

Not only for adhesives, but for practically everything the company does. Oh, we'll just outsource the engines, outsource the tanks, outsource the avionics - so what the hell is your value anyway?

"oh", say the MBAs, "it's our access to market, customer relations we've cultivated for years, our critical mass" - all barriers to entry for competition, and more excuses for charging too much.

This is all fair game under free market, but the dollars they are sucking down are government dollars on cost+ or single-source contracts, which is why I am so ecstatic that of all players in the universe it is the current administration that is giving SpaceX the chance to succeed.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Rhyshaelkan on 03/07/2011 03:13 pm
Seems the F9H is just called the Falcon Heavy now. Was surfing and got around the SpaceX website again and noticed the change. Thought at first it was a typo. But it would have been quite a thorough typo. Changed most everywhere on the site.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apace on 03/07/2011 03:42 pm
Seems the F9H is just called the Falcon Heavy now. Was surfing and got around the SpaceX website again and noticed the change. Thought at first it was a typo. But it would have been quite a thorough typo. Changed most everywhere on the site.

You're late ;-)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: gladiator1332 on 03/07/2011 04:29 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).

Quick question...could I get a quick lesson on what Merlin 1d is? Just another uprated version I'm assuming?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/07/2011 04:32 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).

Quick question...could I get a quick lesson on what Merlin 1d is? Just another uprated version I'm assuming?
Yes. (And, apparently has a lower part count, according to rumors... what's the source on that, again?)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/07/2011 05:06 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).

Quick question...could I get a quick lesson on what Merlin 1d is? Just another uprated version I'm assuming?
Yes. (And, apparently has a lower part count, according to rumors... what's the source on that, again?)

The source is a recent interview with Max Vozoff, formerly of SpaceX, now working as a consultant with SpaceX and others.   jabe gave the link to the interview earlier in this thread:
A must listen to if you haven't listened yet.
Max talk is here.  (http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/max-vozoff-friday-3-4-11/)

jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/07/2011 05:11 pm
Drive by comment from ShuttleLand :)

I have been told, per discussion on here, to pass on the Merlin 1d is alive and well (source who'd know).

Quick question...could I get a quick lesson on what Merlin 1d is? Just another uprated version I'm assuming?
Yes. (And, apparently has a lower part count, according to rumors... what's the source on that, again?)

The source is a recent interview with Max Vozoff, formerly of SpaceX, now working as a consultant with SpaceX and others.   jabe gave the link to the interview earlier in this thread:
A must listen to if you haven't listened yet.
Max talk is here.  (http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/max-vozoff-friday-3-4-11/)

jb
I listened to the mp3, and can't find the information you said was there... it appears the mp3 is cut short?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/07/2011 05:23 pm
I listened to the mp3, and can't find the information you said was there... it appears the mp3 is cut short?

The part where Max talks about Merlin 1d starts at 57:30.  I re-downloaded the MP3 from that link just now and it worked for me.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/07/2011 07:19 pm
I think the term used amounted to a significant reduction in parts, not just a few. Could that mean machining the (for example) turbopump casing right into other parts (chamber?) to simplify/cost-reduce manufacture?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/07/2011 07:20 pm
I listened to the mp3, and can't find the information you said was there... it appears the mp3 is cut short?

The part where Max talks about Merlin 1d starts at 57:30.  I re-downloaded the MP3 from that link just now and it worked for me.
Thanks.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/07/2011 08:56 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.

First is the Merlin 1a, an all-ablative (that includes the combustion chamber, throat and nozzle), gas generator turbopump fed hydrocarbon engine with a pintle injector. It flew twice, failing on its first flight (F1 f1) due to a fuel leak and subsequent fire. The next flight (F1 f2) it performed nominally and was then retired. SpaceX had planned to add a higher performance turbopump, increasing overall thrust, for use on Falcon 9 launches. This is the Merlin 1b, but before it was ever used, SpaceX decided ablative was too much of a hassle, and switched to a regenerativley-cooled design. This is the Merlin 1c. It has a channel wall cooled combustion chamber and throat, and a tube wall cooled nozzle. It first flew on F1 f3, and was de-tuned to provide the same thrust  as a Merlin 1a (so as not require a redesign of the Falcon 1) and even though it performed nominally (and 19 Merlin1c since), the failure to account for the residual thrust inherent to its design doomed this mission as well. This new regen configuration allows for a higher chamber pressure (and therefore more thrust) but its early generation turbopump, manufactured by Barber-Nichols, under performs for this task.

Ever since the switch to regen, SpaceX's publicly announced plan was to eventually replace this tubopump with one optimized for the-now-regen cooled design, and to increase the diameters of propellant feedlines accordingly (but AFAIK no changes to tank sizes). They reffered to this as BLOCK II. BLOCK II is Merlin 1d, they only recently starting calling it such.

Now that there is some evidence that SpaceX has decided to bring turbopump design and production in-house, and that Max Vozhoff has stated that Merlin 1d will have "a lower part count" (read: simpler, optimized) perhaps this explains their decision to rename the Merlin 1c BLOCK II as Merlin 1d.

To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

And that is why Merlin 1d and Falcon 9 BLOCK II are the "low hanging fruit" on the SpaceX family tree, NOT Falcon 1e. Falcon 1e = Merlin 1d + new first stage + new fairing + needs better launch site.

Once SpaceX gets Falcon 9 BLOCK II, then they are that much closer to Falcon Heavy common core. That leaves the launch site, Vandenberg. Build it for Falcon Heavy but make it backward-compatible for Falcon 9 and even Falcon 1e, and then decide if the time is right to put F1e on the front burner again.

Anyone thinking "Falcon 1e is dead" or "Merlin 2 is alive" is staring at the tea leaves too hard...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: AnalogMan on 03/07/2011 09:16 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.
...

That was a very helpful post - many thanks for that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nomadd on 03/07/2011 10:32 pm
 Wouldn't that be 22 Merlin 1Cs since F1-3?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/07/2011 11:18 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.

This is a consise statement of the past and current situations.  It agrees in detail with my understanding, such as it is.

Thank you.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/08/2011 12:10 am
Wouldn't that be 22 Merlin 1Cs since F1-3?

Yeah, well I guess we're both wrong. It should be 20 flight articles since F1f3 (F1f4+F1f5+F9f1+F9f2= 20).

I presume your math includes the stepchild of the Merlin family, the MerlinVac. Although derived from Merlin 1c, I think most would agree it is really a different engine. It is throttleable (~60-100%), air startable and restartable, and its turbopump exhaust is vectorable for roll control. It adopts the channel wall regenerative cooling of its predecessor, albeit with a larger expanded nozzle, and deletes the tube-walled nozzle extension in favor of the huge bolt-on niobium alloy skirt (or "mini skirt" as the case may be). According to SpaceX this configuration requires the engine to be de-tuned slightly to prevent overheating, and overall the MerlinVac has lower performance than 1c.

Ostensibly, the MerlinVac is using the Barber-Nichols turbopump now, and may well for some time. The extra performance of the Merlin 1d turbopump is not needed, only cost savings would drive that change. Who knows? By that time Raptor might be ready to take its place.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/08/2011 12:13 am
You forgot the US, wait thats a different Merlin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/08/2011 12:16 am
corrodedNut:

Thanks for the Merlin history lesson.

OK, so what's Raptor?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: gladiator1332 on 03/08/2011 12:29 am
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.

First is the Merlin 1a, an all-ablative (that includes the combustion chamber, throat and nozzle), gas generator turbopump fed hydrocarbon engine with a pintle injector. It flew twice, failing on its first flight (F1 f1) due to a fuel leak and subsequent fire. The next flight (F1 f2) it performed nominally and was then retired. SpaceX had planned to add a higher performance turbopump, increasing overall thrust, for use on Falcon 9 launches. This is the Merlin 1b, but before it was ever used, SpaceX decided ablative was too much of a hassle, and switched to a regenerativley-cooled design. This is the Merlin 1c. It has a channel wall cooled combustion chamber and throat, and a tube wall cooled nozzle. It first flew on F1 f3, and was de-tuned to provide the same thrust  as a Merlin 1a (so as not require a redesign of the Falcon 1) and even though it performed nominally (and 19 Merlin1c since), the failure to account for the residual thrust inherent to its design doomed this mission as well. This new regen configuration allows for a higher chamber pressure (and therefore more thrust) but its early generation turbopump, manufactured by Barber-Nichols, under performs for this task.

Ever since the switch to regen, SpaceX's publicly announced plan was to eventually replace this tubopump with one optimized for the-now-regen cooled design, and to increase the diameters of propellant feedlines accordingly (but AFAIK no changes to tank sizes). They reffered to this as BLOCK II. BLOCK II is Merlin 1d, they only recently starting calling it such.

Now that there is some evidence that SpaceX has decided to bring turbopump design and production in-house, and that Max Vozhoff has stated that Merlin 1d will have "a lower part count" (read: simpler, optimized) perhaps this explains their decision to rename the Merlin 1c BLOCK II as Merlin 1d.

To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

And that is why Merlin 1d and Falcon 9 BLOCK II are the "low hanging fruit" on the SpaceX family tree, NOT Falcon 1e. Falcon 1e = Merlin 1d + new first stage + new fairing + needs better launch site.

Once SpaceX gets Falcon 9 BLOCK II, then they are that much closer to Falcon Heavy common core. That leaves the launch site, Vandenberg. Build it for Falcon Heavy but make it backward-compatible for Falcon 9 and even Falcon 1e, and then decide if the time is right to put F1e on the front burner again.

Anyone thinking "Falcon 1e is dead" or "Merlin 2 is alive" is staring at the tea leaves too hard...

Very informative, and exactly what I needed to understand all of this! Thanks
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edfishel on 03/08/2011 12:32 am
Ditto! CorrodedNut, this is very helpful.
How are you able to stay up with all of this?
Thanks, again.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/08/2011 12:53 am
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.
An excellent summary!
Quote
To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

In my opinion, Falcon 9 doesn't get a significant performance improvement with just Merlin 1d.  That higher thrust has to be leveraged.  The rocket has to carry more propellant to produce more delta-v.  Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/08/2011 01:08 am
Well I hate to do this, but I suppose I have to be fair here.

From the newly released decadal survey:
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/docs/Vision_and_Voyages-FINAL.pdf

starting on page 302/410:

"The costs of launch services pose a challenge to NASA’s program of planetary exploration. Launch costs have risen in recent years for a variety of reasons, and launch costs today tend to be a larger fraction of total mission costs than they were in the past.
Superimposed on this trend of increasing launch costs are upcoming changes in the fleet of available launch vehicles. The primary launch vehicles likely to be available to support the missions described above are the existing Delta IV and Atlas V families, plus the Taurus II and Falcon 9 vehicles currently under development (Figure 9.2)."
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/08/2011 01:13 am

In my opinion, Falcon 9 doesn't get a significant performance improvement with just Merlin 1d.  That higher thrust has to be leveraged.  The rocket has to carry more propellant to produce more delta-v.  Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

 - Ed Kyle

I'm guessing it's the former. I think we would have heard, "we're going to stretch the tanks a little" at some point in the last three years.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/08/2011 01:55 am

OK, so what's Raptor?

A hydrogen 2nd stage first mentioned, IIRC, at a summer 2009 AIAA confrrence.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kraisee on 03/08/2011 02:13 am
I'm guessing it's the former. I think we would have heard, "we're going to stretch the tanks a little" at some point in the last three years.

Stretched tanks may not have been mentioned much on this forum before now, but to my knowledge some Space-X folk have been mentioning it as a possibility for at least the last year.

The stretch was originally intended to be part of the upgrade to the Merlin-2, in order to make use of its far greater performance.   But that was the plan from before the Merlin-1D became common knowledge.

Now, I believe it would be most cost effective to wrap the first stage tank stretch, the Merlin-1D upgrade and the Raptor upgrade all into one development cycle and optimize everything for that configuration.

Ross.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexw on 03/08/2011 07:49 am
Now, I believe it would be most cost effective to wrap the first stage tank stretch, the Merlin-1D upgrade and the Raptor upgrade all into one development cycle and optimize everything for that configuration.
      Why do you think that Raptor, especially wrapped into a single near- to medium-term upgrade, would be cost effective?
          -Alex
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 07:52 am
Now, I believe it would be most cost effective to wrap the first stage tank stretch, the Merlin-1D upgrade and the Raptor upgrade all into one development cycle and optimize everything for that configuration.
      Why do you think that Raptor, especially wrapped into a single near- to medium-term upgrade, would be cost effective?
          -Alex

The fact that GTO is the biggest market, and a high Isp upper stage would greatly improves F9's performance to GTO.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/08/2011 07:59 am
Now, I believe it would be most cost effective to wrap the first stage tank stretch, the Merlin-1D upgrade and the Raptor upgrade all into one development cycle and optimize everything for that configuration.
      Why do you think that Raptor, especially wrapped into a single near- to medium-term upgrade, would be cost effective?
          -Alex

The fact that GTO is the biggest market, and a high Isp upper stage would greatly improves F9's performance to GTO.

But waiting for Raptor would delay the other upgrades substantially.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexw on 03/08/2011 08:07 am
Now, I believe it would be most cost effective to wrap the first stage tank stretch, the Merlin-1D upgrade and the Raptor upgrade all into one development cycle and optimize everything for that configuration.
      Why do you think that Raptor, especially wrapped into a single near- to medium-term upgrade, would be cost effective?
The fact that GTO is the biggest market, and a high Isp upper stage would greatly improves F9's performance to GTO.
     cost-effective, Joris, not "performance optimizing".
          -Alex
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 08:21 am
     cost-effective, Joris, not "performance optimizing".
          -Alex

Misread that quote...
I agree that Raptor, isnt cost effective in the very short term like merlin 1d and falcon 9 block II.

But after those two, it seems spacex has three options.

- Raptor
- Falcon heavy
- Dragon crew

All of them have a reason to be developed first.
Respectively Commercial payloads, DOD-payloads and CRS.

But which one is going to be first?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 08:28 am
Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

Has anyone out there been less lazy than me and come up with a ballpark propellant mass given the 1st stage dimensions and typical RP-1/LOX densities?

As a wild guess, I'm inclined to believe F9 has been flying with a propellant offload so far. A tank stretch would also require a erector modification and the Cape hangar would get even tighter, length-wise.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: marsavian on 03/08/2011 08:32 am

I agree that Raptor, isnt cost effective in the very short term like merlin 1d and falcon 9 block II.

But after those two, it seems spacex has three options.

- Raptor
- Falcon heavy
- Dragon crew

All of them have a reason to be developed first.
Respectively Commercial payloads, DOD-payloads and CRS.

But which one is going to be first?


I doubt Raptor will be bothered with if they can eventually get a finished J-2X off the shelf. Dragon Crew followed by Falcon 9 Heavy and finally the latter with a J-2X option seem the cheapest least path of resistance. IMO Raptor like Merlin 2 won't be developed unless someone pays for it like the DoD which is not an unlikely scenario either in the long long run. Remember they are putting Falcon 1e on hold which shows they are not going to spend money they don't have to.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 08:35 am
I doubt Raptor will be bothered with if they can eventually get a finished J-2X off the shelf.

They could have used off-the-shelf (literally) RP-1 engines as well, but developed their own. See the pattern?

Given how that would give PWR even more monopoly on upper stage engines, I'd say that has a snowball's chance in hell of happening.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/08/2011 11:08 am
But after those two, it seems spacex has three options.

- Raptor
- Falcon heavy
- Dragon crew

All of them have a reason to be developed first.
Respectively Commercial payloads, DOD-payloads and CRS.

But which one is going to be first?

My call is the following order:

1) Crewed Dragon;
2) Stretched tank & Raptor hydrolox engine/upper stage;
3) Falcon Heavy;
4) Merlin-2.

No matter how quickly FH is available, DoD/NRO will want a longer flight history for Falcon-9 before they consider it for their payloads.  So, hurrying an LV for rare 25t payloads really won't achieve much.  Certainly build SLC-4E to be 'launcher neutral' as far as is possible but don't focus on FH when there is only an implication of being considered for launch services by DoD.  Even if DoD backs up that innuendo, FH launches would be vanishingly rare, based on the flight rate of Delta-IVH.

Crewed Dragon needs to be ready ASAP.  Actually having a flight-ready vehicle and possibly even be carrying out flights is the best way to stop the anti-Commercial faction from eventually losing their collective tempers and forbidding NASA to use it.  The sooner it is operational, the sooner it can metamorphose in politicians eyes from a 'risky fantasy' to 'the American spacecraft we should be using instead of sending money to Russia'.

As Ross points out, Raptor improves performance of both Falcon-9 and Falcon Heavy.  Potentially it turns the F9 into a BEO launcher for up to Discovery-class space probes.  Although F9 vanilla can already probably but up to 4t to GTO, 3t through TLI or 2t through TMI, Raptor could increase that by 50% or more, depending on what the T/W of the Block-III core (the stretched tank, CBC version of the Falcon-9 core) is like.  The performance of F9 block III/Raptor could conceivably be high enough that FH isn't needed on the West Coast at all.

Falcon Heavy with Raptor could possibly be even a BEO crew launcher, able to launch a BEO-rigged Dragon to the EML points or LLO.  Block-IV (the Merlin-2 version) would change that from 'possibly' to 'definitely' and a two-launch, LEO propellent transfer & LOR mission profile for lunar landings could be achievable (~30t through TLI for both elements).

I'm not saying that crew to the Moon is an objective but, IMHO at least, that is the only real mission for FH/Raptor except launching Flagship-class space probes to the Outer Solar System.


[edit]
Just another thought.  Maybe the stretched-tank version of Falcon-9 should (with precendent) be referred to as the Falcon-9e?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 03/08/2011 12:43 pm
Just wondering if SpaceX might put up an used and refitted Dragon capsule on their Falcon 9 Heavy test launch as reusable polar orbiting observation platform. Replace the docking hatch with a module with several optical sensors. IIRC the Dragon is good for 2 years in orbit. The sensory package could be refitted and reuse on future missions. This might supplement the current polar earth observation satellite constellation and partially replace the lost spacecrafts from the Taurus launch failures.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/08/2011 12:55 pm
Just wondering if SpaceX might put up an used and refitted Dragon capsule on their Falcon 9 Heavy test launch as reusable polar orbiting observation platform. Replace the docking hatch with a module with several optical sensors. IIRC the Dragon is good for 2 years in orbit. The sensory package could be refitted and reuse on future missions. This might supplement the current polar earth observation satellite constellation and partially replace the lost spacecrafts from the Taurus launch failures.


Cheaper to fly smaller spacecraft.  The front end is too small for sensors
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 02:25 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.
An excellent summary!
Quote
To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

In my opinion, Falcon 9 doesn't get a significant performance improvement with just Merlin 1d.  That higher thrust has to be leveraged.  The rocket has to carry more propellant to produce more delta-v.  Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Another issue which Merlin 1d helps resolve is that Falcon 9 doesn't have the thrust margin (apparently) to have engine-out capability early in the flight. A 5-10% improvement in thrust may allow engine-out much earlier.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 02:44 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.
An excellent summary!
Quote
To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

In my opinion, Falcon 9 doesn't get a significant performance improvement with just Merlin 1d.  That higher thrust has to be leveraged.  The rocket has to carry more propellant to produce more delta-v.  Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Another issue which Merlin 1d helps resolve is that Falcon 9 doesn't have the thrust margin (apparently) to have engine-out capability early in the flight. A 5-10% improvement in thrust may allow engine-out much earlier.

Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

With one engine out, it has a T/W of 1.33, Is this enough?

But with a 10% improvement, it has a T/W of 1.46, which is definitely enough to allow engine-out capability from liftoff.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 02:47 pm
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 02:50 pm
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.
An excellent summary!
Quote
To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

In my opinion, Falcon 9 doesn't get a significant performance improvement with just Merlin 1d.  That higher thrust has to be leveraged.  The rocket has to carry more propellant to produce more delta-v.  Either Falcon 9 has been flying with partly empty tanks so far, or the plan is to stretch the first stage.

 - Ed Kyle
Another issue which Merlin 1d helps resolve is that Falcon 9 doesn't have the thrust margin (apparently) to have engine-out capability early in the flight. A 5-10% improvement in thrust may allow engine-out much earlier.

Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

With one engine out, it has a T/W of 1.33, Is this enough?

But with a 10% improvement, it has a T/W of 1.46, which is definitely enough to allow engine-out capability from liftoff.
The fact is that Falcon 9 DOESN'T have engine-out right after lift-off until some time afterward. This is almost surely because of insufficient performance, which Merlin 1d would presumably help.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 02:59 pm
I feel the need to point out the obvious: engine out is NOT a function of engine alone. F9 Block 2 could have worse engine out capability for a heavy payload than F9 Block 1 would for a light one. As such, statement-of-fact proclaims such as "F9 doesn't have engine out right at liftoff" sound unfounded and moot without knowing what you're launching with it. And I don't see us discussing a specific payload here right now.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 03:01 pm
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_IV

Got a T/W of 1.35 for the lowest values.

Didn't find GLOW in
http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/product_cards/guides/DeltaIVPayloadPlannersGuide2007.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 03:03 pm
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

That's not the current F9. It's Block 2. Cca 1Mlbf liftoff thrust compared to cca 0.85 Mlbf of current Block 1. And we don't know the propellant load Block 1 uses.

That said, it is higher than vanilla Atlas and Delta.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 03:14 pm
That's not the current F9. It's Block 2. Cca 1Mlbf liftoff thrust compared to cca 0.85 Mlbf of current Block 1. And we don't know the propellant load Block 1 uses.

Falcon 1 figures for merlin 1c are

Sea Level Thrust :   512 kN (115,000 lbf)
Vacuum Thrust:   569 kN (128,000 lbf)
Sea Level Isp:   275s
Vacuum Isp:   304s

http://www.spacex.com/falcon1.php#merlin_engine

I'm not sure whether it was downtuned or not for Falcon 1.
Gives a little over 1Mlbf thrust for Falcon 9 block 1.
They also state 1.1Mlbf for Falcon 9 block 2.
So about a 10% increase.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

If these numbers are true, and Merlin 1d weights the same as Merlin 1c. Wouldnt a Falcon 9 block 1 with Merlin 1d engines have almost the same thrust with 8 engines as one with Merlin 1c on 9 engines?

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/08/2011 03:18 pm
We covered this a while back by measuring the flight 2 video, *as launched*. It came out as 1.4 IIRC. (ugordan - you measured it too, right?)

As they move forward, with 1D, but heavier payloads, more fuel load - who knows.  If all engines are fully tested before lift off and engine-out begins maybe 15 seconds into the flight, that's not bad either.

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 03:24 pm
I would trust this document more when it comes to M1c thrust: http://www.spacex.com/downloads/cots1-20101206.pdf

It also fits with the thrust level reported each time the full 1st stage complement was ground-tested. The Merlin 1c figures on the F1 page I suspect are in fact Merlin 1d target numbers. Which is why it produces 1 Mlbf liftoff thrust and 1.1 Mlbf vacuum thrust (actual figure on F9 page)

Quote
1st Stage Engines
Sea Level Thrust : 423 kN (95,000 lbf)
Vacuum Thrust: 483 kN (108,500 lbf)
Sea Level Isp: 266s

Note the Isp is also vastly lower than on the F1 page.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 03:27 pm
It came out as 1.4 IIRC. (ugordan - you measured it too, right?)

Yes, but the error bars on that "measurement" are pretty high. I'd much rather like to know the height difference between the engine base and lightning tower tops. All I can definitely say is it takes less to clear the lightning towers than Atlas V 401, even though the latter has a "head start" on an elevated MLP.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gregori on 03/08/2011 03:29 pm
Guh!!!

It will go in this order:

1)Falcon Heavy
2)Crewed Dragon
3)Raptor

Making a hydrogen upper stage isn't going to be cheap or quick, and RP1/LOX is where SpaceX has more experience. They would need new engines, avionics, tanking, insulation, turbopumps...

No external customer is paying for the development of such a stage. Commercial Crew on the other hand is something SpaceX might actually get funds to develop. Falcon 9 has been designed from inception to be flown in a heavy configuration so is not a big a development as a totally new stage. And its hardware is due to be at the launch site by next year, so its coming before crew or raptor.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/08/2011 03:33 pm

How about

1. Falcon 9 Heavy Capable Vandenberg Pad.

If Manned COT's funding found
2. Manned Dragon

If they have a chance at Falcon Heavy customers
3. Falcon Heavy

4. Think about future projects when 1-3 are done.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 03:39 pm
...
Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.
I disagree. They probably HAVE to have good engine-out capability on the Falcon Heavy with 27 engines at once, but I don't think they'll have more capability than a similar Falcon 9. It will be harder to get all those engines working at once, though not impossible. There are big issues with flying at a big angle of attack and other things... You can't treat those 27 engines as a big pool from which, say, any 3 could fail without problems.

To use data storage terminology, Falcon Heavy is more like a big RAID 50 array (RAID 0 striped across three RAID 5 subarrays) than a big triple-parity array. The 27-unit RAID 50 array is less reliable than a 9-unit RAID 5 array.

And ugordon, I agree with the caveat that engine-out capability depends on the payload and orbit.

And, by the way, I think SpaceX considers Falcon Heavy as necessary for their company's survival.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/08/2011 03:43 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/08/2011 03:52 pm
For the Falcon Heavy, without propellant cross-feed engine out on the outer cores is not possible. You will end up with a mass in-balance that could only be overcome by shutting down the equivalent engine on the other core. So instead of loosing 1 engine you loose two.

That said, I fully don't ever expect an engine failure to ever be considered a non flight failure (unless the vehicle is oversized for the payload). Many on this board consider both the Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V NRO L-30R failures. An engine out will count as a similar black mark against the Falcon, be it a 9 or a Heavy. Only if you don't consider those two launches as not failures will it count as a success.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 03:57 pm
An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on. 

Which brings up an interesting question. How plausible/difficult would it be to incorporate a limited throttleability into Merlin 1d (let's say 10% - 15% of rated thrust). How much would that increase the engine complexity, especially given that M1d is supposed to have a lower part count than M1c?

Would shutting down an opposing strapon's engine be a much less risky approach and just living with the performance hit? Sure looks like that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 03:58 pm
For the Falcon Heavy, without propellant cross-feed engine out on the outer cores is not possible. You will end up with a mass in-balance that could only be overcome by shutting down the equivalent engine on the other core. So instead of loosing 1 engine you loose two.

That said, I fully don't ever expect an engine failure to ever be considered a non flight failure (unless the vehicle is oversized for the payload). Many on this board consider both the Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V NRO L-30R failures. An engine out will count as a similar black mark against the Falcon, be it a 9 or a Heavy. Only if you don't consider those two launches as not failures will it count as a success.
Look, if the payload is put in the correct orbit range without damaging the payload, it really isn't a failure. Sure, if you use the very greatest payload that Falcon Heavy can possibly handle, you probably won't have engine-out, but it's quite likely that you won't, or that no one will even ever order a payload that pushes Falcon Heavy's envelope like that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 04:00 pm
Many on this board consider both the Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V NRO L-30R failures. An engine out will count as a similar black mark against the Falcon, be it a 9 or a Heavy. Only if you don't consider those two launches as not failures will it count as a success.

Both of those vehicles failed to put the payloads into the target orbit, though Atlas apparently came close.

If F9H loses an engine and still meets the customer's targeted orbit by virtue of performance reserve, I don't see how you can equate the end results in these two cases.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/08/2011 04:53 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.






Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/08/2011 05:13 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.

No, I think Jim is right. It is more problematic than that - You may be forced to shut off an engine in the opposite booster.

Why? Because otherwise the boosters will not run out of propellant at the same time. And that could be bad. Plus before that the propellant imbalance will get worse and worse.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/08/2011 05:19 pm
We covered that.  Running out of propellant on one side is why you'd throttle down the other side - but only after you got out of the first minute of flight which is your #1 concern.

Load imbalance is true, but again - your first priority is to maintain thrust and control until you have more margin, then you can fix things.

Finally - sooner or later they'll have cross-feed.  The longer boosters they had in that slide hints at that.   They might initially throttle down the center core early, but I think they wouldn't go there if they didn't have plans for that.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/08/2011 05:28 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.

No, I think Jim is right. It is more problematic than that - You may be forced to shut off an engine in the opposite booster.

Why? Because otherwise the boosters will not run out of propellant at the same time. And that could be bad. Plus before that the propellant imbalance will get worse and worse.

surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 05:30 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.

No, I think Jim is right. It is more problematic than that - You may be forced to shut off an engine in the opposite booster.

Why? Because otherwise the boosters will not run out of propellant at the same time. And that could be bad. Plus before that the propellant imbalance will get worse and worse.

surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.
I don't think you understand the performance hit of having unburned propellant at staging.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/08/2011 05:39 pm

Also, the F9H (I think) will have more engine out capability if they do it right.


It can't and your previous analysis was incorrect.  An engine out in a strap on is a loss of mission without the ability to throttle down or shut down engines on the opposite strap on.  And that still doesn't guarantee success.

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.

No, I think Jim is right. It is more problematic than that - You may be forced to shut off an engine in the opposite booster.

Why? Because otherwise the boosters will not run out of propellant at the same time. And that could be bad. Plus before that the propellant imbalance will get worse and worse.

surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.
I don't think you understand the performance hit of having unburned propellant at staging.

sure I do. but it's all a matter of timing. there's bound to be a crossover point where it's better to keep as many engines as possible running, versus shutting two down because one failed, and not having enough thrust to complete the mission.. which I think is what meekGee was saying.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 05:39 pm
surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.

There's a reason you want both to run out simultaneously. Center of gravity will remain inside the core vehicle. Have any significant amount of propellant left in either booster, the CG will shift in that direction, your engines will have to gimbal to thrust through that new CG and as a result the GN&C will have to make the vehicle fly "sideways" if you want it to go where it's supposed to. Side loads on the vehicle, not to mention the if this happened to you during atmospheric flight.
 
Also, given the same thrust on both strapons you don't really have to cant the outer engines so they thrust through the CG (think Long March boosters), instead you could do it Delta IV Heavy style. Having one booster cut out sooner than the other, you're almost bound to induce rotational torque.

Having the same thrust on bth strapons simplifies control and reduces your headaches.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/08/2011 05:44 pm
surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.

There's a reason you want both to run out simultaneously. Center of gravity will remain inside the core vehicle. Have any significant amount of propellant left in either booster, the CG will shift in that direction, your engines will have to gimbal to thrust through that new CG and as a result the GN&C will have to make the vehicle fly "sideways" if you want it to go where it's supposed to. Side loads on the vehicle, not to mention the if this happened to you during atmospheric flight.
 
Also, given the same thrust on both strapons you don't really have to cant the outer engines so they thrust through the CG (think Long March boosters), instead you could do it Delta IV Heavy style. Having one booster cut out sooner than the other, you're almost bound to induce rotational torque.

Having the same thrust on bth strapons simplifies control and reduces your headaches.

right. but 'losing' two engines too early in the flight is going to guarantee LOM. keeping one burning for a few more seconds might complicate GNC, and waste some performance.. but your black zone could potentially be reduced.

EDIT: obviously this would all have to be pre-planned and simulated - eg if we lose engine 1 on a booster at X seconds into the flight, burn for 12 more seconds then shut down engine 9 on the other booster.. etc
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/08/2011 06:13 pm
Yes - that's what I'm driving at.

At the moment of engine loss, you don't care about the rest of the flight, you just need to keep flying.  Then you need to look at an optimization problem which includes a gazillion factors - increases drag from the angle of attack, structural load redlines, propellant use and imbalance - you'll basically get a new trajectory out of all of that, and the goal of the optimization is to prevent LOM later on.

But, from the examples cited above, the main problem is even surviving the engine-out event, and I think the F9H can do better than the F9 on that, even w/o cross-feed, and most definitely with cross-feed.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/08/2011 06:21 pm

I disagree.  It's a matter of torque arms.  an F9 losing an "edge" engine is 11% of the thrust lost, at 1 "radius" arms length.  a "corner" engine is 11% of thrust lost, at 1.4 "radii" arms length.

An F9H losing a center engine (representative) in a cluster is 3.7% of the thrust lost, at 3 radii away.   Even Steven.  Except that in most situations you can throttle the other side to find a sweet spot between loss of thrust and off-axis thrust.


No, it is not. 

a.  It is not "torque arms" from the center line.  The engines gimbal around the CG which is lower in a heavy
b.  Anyways, It is propellant utilization that is the big issue.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/08/2011 06:38 pm
Yes - that's what I'm driving at.

At the moment of engine loss, you don't care about the rest of the flight, you just need to keep flying.  Then you need to look at an optimization problem which includes a gazillion factors - increases drag from the angle of attack, structural load redlines, propellant use and imbalance - you'll basically get a new trajectory out of all of that, and the goal of the optimization is to prevent LOM later on.

But, from the examples cited above, the main problem is even surviving the engine-out event, and I think the F9H can do better than the F9 on that, even w/o cross-feed, and most definitely with cross-feed.

A.  There is no cross feed or planned
b.  All guidance systems try to fly to meet the mission requirements. That is a given.
c.  You haven't shown that it is easier in a F9H.   the gimbaling is going to put loads into the center core.  When a single core loses a engine, the other gimbal not to the center line, but to the cg.  Same goes for a heavy and since the CG of the vehicle is lower, the cosine losses are greater.
d.  The booster merlins are not throttleable and the only method for equalizing propellant utilization is shutdown.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kraisee on 03/08/2011 06:50 pm
I doubt Raptor will be bothered with if they can eventually get a finished J-2X off the shelf.

At an expected cost of $40m each, using J-2X would nearly double the cost of a Falcon-9.

Space-X have already proven that they can produce reliable rocket engines in-house for a fraction of the cost of PWR's wares.

Given that they've already been doing some work towards Raptor in-house for some time, I also believe that Raptor would be ready well ahead of the expected 2016 first-flight date for J-2X.

I therefore can't think of a single reason why they would NOT choose to do Raptor in-house instead of buying J-2X.

Ross.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/08/2011 07:00 pm
There is a video somewhere of a Soyuz that has a booster shutdown inflight (I am not talking Foton). The mass imbalance quickly causes the booster to slide backwards and results in the total breakup of the vehicle. It is quite something to watch. Wish I had a link to it.

Since we always like to compare things to jumbo jets. When a Qantas a380 blew an engine last year it disabled the fuel transfer system in the wing resulting in a mass imbalance that came very close to them not being able to maintain control of the bird and was part of the reason that the landing during the incident was so "difficult".

Please if you think several tonnes of unused propellants is a simple problem that can be ignored, go find both of these incidents and reevaluate your position.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gregori on 03/08/2011 07:08 pm
Guh....

I was thinking that a Hydrogen Upper Stage engine for Falcon 9 would be more in the class of the RL 10 than the J2X/SSME. I thought the whole point of going with the powerful J2X was to make up for the under performance SRB's. And Jupiter 246 uses 6 RL 10s in place of a single J2X.

I could be totally wrong about this, but I was under the impression that Raptor would have to be a good bit smaller.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 07:15 pm
Guh....

I was thinking that a Hydrogen Upper Stage engine for Falcon 9 would be more in the class of the RL 10 than the J2X/SSME.

F9 stages at a lower velocity than EELV. IF you put an RL-10 on an F9 upper stage, I think the thing would just drop into the ocean.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/08/2011 07:28 pm
The infamous SpaceX "unofficial" slide last year that showed Raptor information seemed to put it's thrust at ~50% of J-2X. The nozzle size would be ~10-15% larger than Merlin Vacuum.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/08/2011 08:27 pm
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but two flights have been added to the manifest: "Undisclosed Customer" in 2013 and 2014 from Canaveral. NRO?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/08/2011 08:34 pm
... and no Astrobotic lunar launch ...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/08/2011 08:50 pm
surely you just shut them both down as soon as either of them runs out of fuel? that's SOP for liquid strapons.. it's just that in a nominal situation, they should both run out at approximately the same time.

There's a reason you want both to run out simultaneously. Center of gravity will remain inside the core vehicle. Have any significant amount of propellant left in either booster, the CG will shift in that direction, your engines will have to gimbal to thrust through that new CG and as a result the GN&C will have to make the vehicle fly "sideways" if you want it to go where it's supposed to. Side loads on the vehicle, not to mention the if this happened to you during atmospheric flight.
 
Also, given the same thrust on both strapons you don't really have to cant the outer engines so they thrust through the CG (think Long March boosters), instead you could do it Delta IV Heavy style. Having one booster cut out sooner than the other, you're almost bound to induce rotational torque.

Having the same thrust on bth strapons simplifies control and reduces your headaches.

right. but 'losing' two engines too early in the flight is going to guarantee LOM. keeping one burning for a few more seconds might complicate GNC, and waste some performance.. but your black zone could potentially be reduced.

EDIT: obviously this would all have to be pre-planned and simulated - eg if we lose engine 1 on a booster at X seconds into the flight, burn for 12 more seconds then shut down engine 9 on the other booster.. etc

Does anybody know if losing (2/27*100%=) 7% of your thrust means LOM.

If it has Merlin 1d with 10% more thrust, wouldn't that enable engine-out capability?

(A Falcon heavy with Merlin 1d and 2 engines out has 103% of the thrust of a Falcon heavy with Merlin 1c engines.)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/08/2011 08:58 pm
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2011 09:00 pm
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.

That is a really nice graph!
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/08/2011 09:50 pm
There is a video somewhere of a Soyuz that has a booster shutdown inflight (I am not talking Foton). The mass imbalance quickly causes the booster to slide backwards and results in the total breakup of the vehicle. It is quite something to watch. Wish I had a link to it.

OK.. but Soyuz strapons are attached by pressure only. if one shuts down, it falls off... which pretty much guarantees LOM if one shuts down early. and they only have one engine per strapon.. which means partial shutdowns are impossible.

this whole discussion is about whether multiple engines per core let you optimize things a bit over a 'single engine per core' design.

Since we always like to compare things to jumbo jets. When a Qantas a380 blew an engine last year it disabled the fuel transfer system in the wing resulting in a mass imbalance that came very close to them not being able to maintain control of the bird and was part of the reason that the landing during the incident was so "difficult".

Please if you think several tonnes of unused propellants is a simple problem that can be ignored, go find both of these incidents and reevaluate your position.

no one's talking 'tonnes of propellant'. we're talking a few seconds of *not* shutting down a matching engine until T/W is acceptable, then shutting it down. ie: reducing the engine out blackzone by a few seconds.

I'll give an example: suppose you lose an engine on a strapon five seconds after launch. T/W is right on the knife edge at that point. immediately shutting down the matching engine on the other strapon is probably going to mean that the whole stack comes right back down on the pad, causing vast amounts of very expensive damage. *not* shutting down the matching engine for (say) the next ten seconds will certainly get the rocket down range and into the ocean.. and may well mean you can make it all the way to orbit, even if it's not the correct one..
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/08/2011 10:21 pm
I just added 3 more people to my ignore list.  I'm much happier.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SkyKing on 03/08/2011 10:29 pm
There is a video somewhere of a Soyuz that has a booster shutdown inflight (I am not talking Foton). The mass imbalance quickly causes the booster to slide backwards and results in the total breakup of the vehicle. It is quite something to watch. Wish I had a link to it.

OK.. but Soyuz strapons are attached by pressure only. if one shuts down, it falls off... which pretty much guarantees LOM if one shuts down early. and they only have one engine per strapon.. which means partial shutdowns are impossible.

this whole discussion is about whether multiple engines per core let you optimize things a bit over a 'single engine per core' design.

Since we always like to compare things to jumbo jets. When a Qantas a380 blew an engine last year it disabled the fuel transfer system in the wing resulting in a mass imbalance that came very close to them not being able to maintain control of the bird and was part of the reason that the landing during the incident was so "difficult".

Please if you think several tonnes of unused propellants is a simple problem that can be ignored, go find both of these incidents and reevaluate your position.

no one's talking 'tonnes of propellant'. we're talking a few seconds of *not* shutting down a matching engine until T/W is acceptable, then shutting it down. ie: reducing the engine out blackzone by a few seconds.

I'll give an example: suppose you lose an engine on a strapon five seconds after launch. T/W is right on the knife edge at that point. immediately shutting down the matching engine on the other strapon is probably going to mean that the whole stack comes right back down on the pad, causing vast amounts of very expensive damage. *not* shutting down the matching engine for (say) the next ten seconds will certainly get the rocket down range and into the ocean.. and may well mean you can make it all the way to orbit, even if it's not the correct one..

ah range safety would get into it long before that...

Sky King
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/08/2011 10:29 pm
Very nice graph you posted, Conga. Are you able to link us to the paper?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/08/2011 10:42 pm
There is a video somewhere of a Soyuz that has a booster shutdown inflight (I am not talking Foton). The mass imbalance quickly causes the booster to slide backwards and results in the total breakup of the vehicle. It is quite something to watch. Wish I had a link to it.

OK.. but Soyuz strapons are attached by pressure only. if one shuts down, it falls off... which pretty much guarantees LOM if one shuts down early. and they only have one engine per strapon.. which means partial shutdowns are impossible.

this whole discussion is about whether multiple engines per core let you optimize things a bit over a 'single engine per core' design.

Since we always like to compare things to jumbo jets. When a Qantas a380 blew an engine last year it disabled the fuel transfer system in the wing resulting in a mass imbalance that came very close to them not being able to maintain control of the bird and was part of the reason that the landing during the incident was so "difficult".

Please if you think several tonnes of unused propellants is a simple problem that can be ignored, go find both of these incidents and reevaluate your position.

no one's talking 'tonnes of propellant'. we're talking a few seconds of *not* shutting down a matching engine until T/W is acceptable, then shutting it down. ie: reducing the engine out blackzone by a few seconds.

I'll give an example: suppose you lose an engine on a strapon five seconds after launch. T/W is right on the knife edge at that point. immediately shutting down the matching engine on the other strapon is probably going to mean that the whole stack comes right back down on the pad, causing vast amounts of very expensive damage. *not* shutting down the matching engine for (say) the next ten seconds will certainly get the rocket down range and into the ocean.. and may well mean you can make it all the way to orbit, even if it's not the correct one..

ah range safety would get into it long before that...

Sky King

you would hope not if you had a well documented and agreed 'abort into the ocean' or 'abort to orbit' plan for single engine failure within a certain window.

at the very least you'd expect them to let the rocket gain some altitude before destroying it, to avoid pad damage.

there must be some defined set of constraints that the range watches (and I'm guessing that doesn't involve intimate details of engine performance). as long as the agreed constraints involve 'climbing off the pad slowly but still making progress'..
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/08/2011 11:19 pm
A.  There is no cross feed or planned
b.  All guidance systems try to fly to meet the mission requirements. That is a given.
c.  You haven't shown that it is easier in a F9H.   the gimbaling is going to put loads into the center core.  When a single core loses a engine, the other gimbal not to the center line, but to the cg.  Same goes for a heavy and since the CG of the vehicle is lower, the cosine losses are greater.
d.  The booster merlins are not throttleable and the only method for equalizing propellant utilization is shutdown.

This is getting old.

a) I didn't require it, but said that if they do it will make things even better (and how do you know there's no cross feed even planned?)
b) What does this mean?
c) True, but why would it matter here?  Total thrust would be enough.
d) ???  You'd shut down a corresponding number of engines, or even more, but only later in the flight when you've burned off fuel and can afford to do so.  So you'll balance out the fuel consumption and finish off the tanks at the same time.  What's so difficult about that?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpaceX_MS on 03/08/2011 11:40 pm
meekGee, you REALLY need to listen to Jim. I don't know where else to start with correcting your many errors.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: josh_simonson on 03/08/2011 11:52 pm
>This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.

Trunk and dragon cargo would only add a couple % at most to the wet weight of the stack on the pad - the payload fraction is only about 3%.  It would be much more significant near the end of the boost burn and through the second stage burn.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/09/2011 12:01 am
I just added 3 more people to my ignore list.  I'm much happier.

Okay me and Jim, who's the third ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/09/2011 12:11 am
Very nice graph you posted, Conga. Are you able to link us to the paper?

That may not be allowed.  It is listed as "AAS 11-077.pdf"
I will ask the person I know who attended the meeting if these can be posted or linked to.

There are nine more such graphs showing all sorts of fascinating things, each of the mission events, on acceleration and angular rate plots.  Plus a description of "entry, descent, & landing" and a reahash of pictures you have seen.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/09/2011 12:11 am
meekGee, you REALLY need to listen to Jim. I don't know where else to start with correcting your many errors.

^^^^^^^^

BTW meekGee, that one works at SpaceX, and even he is saying drop it and listen to Jim.

Will you take the advice of a long time aerospace professorial, and someone with a SpaceX RFID badge?

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2011 01:35 am


This is getting old.

a) I didn't require it, but said that if they do it will make things even better (and how do you know there's no cross feed even planned?)
b) What does this mean?
c) True, but why would it matter here?  Total thrust would be enough.
d) ???  You'd shut down a corresponding number of engines, or even more, but only later in the flight when you've burned off fuel and can afford to do so.  So you'll balance out the fuel consumption and finish off the tanks at the same time.  What's so difficult about that?

Yes, it is getting old.  You don't know what the hell you are talking about.

a. no, cross feed does not help because one core is still not depletion fast enough

b.  It means it doesn't work.  The vehicle goes through the motions but it doesn't get to orbit

c. You don't know if total thrust is enough with cosine losses, not to mention the loads on the center core. You haven't shown that the stack is viable or controllable with side core engine out.*

d.  there only way to affect propellant consumption is by shutting down engines. There is no way to increase it on the side with the failed engine and the only way on the good side to equal the side with the failed engine is to shut down a good engine.  It has to be done within seconds of losing the other engine because the mass difference will build up quickly.

update.  *This was just to show that your basic calculations were wrong.
The straps on engines don't gimbal through the CG of the stack but through the CG of the individual core.  This is to not put higher loads on the connections between the cores.  So if a strapon loses an engine, the opposing one has to for control reasons.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/09/2011 02:20 am
Ok general question for those in the know (or somewhat in the know) When this month will they announce the CCDev 2 finalists and when will Spacex announce if they are going to combine COTS 2&3? I am going back and forth from space website to space website trying to get a better idea of the goings on. Will Spacex actually announce something on an update or like some say they'll just carry on and COTS 3 will be added on at the last minute to the COTS 2 mission?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/09/2011 02:31 am
meekGee, you REALLY need to listen to Jim. I don't know where else to start with correcting your many errors.

+Avogadro's number
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/09/2011 02:35 am
I just added 3 more people to my ignore list.  I'm much happier.
Okay me and Jim, who's the third ;)

Just trying to get the NSF signal to noise back to where it was before the newbs who won't listen killed it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/09/2011 04:14 am
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.


That's about what I've been estimating at:  http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notsorandom on 03/09/2011 06:15 am
Faclon 9 currently has a T/W of 1.5, which is higher than some other rockets.

Reference, please.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

I don't have a calculater by hand, must be 1.487 or something like that...

This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.


That's about what I've been estimating at:  http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

 - Ed Kyle
Would upgrading to the Merlin 1d and increasing the T/W cut gravity losses enough to hit the Falcon 9 block II performance level with out a tank stretch?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/09/2011 07:46 am
This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.


That's about what I've been estimating at:  http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

 - Ed Kyle

Looks like you nailed the GLOW as well. I get about 318 tons for COTS C1 and it's a lite Dragon. Given that the Falcon 9 mass in the C1 press kit was 313 tons, I guess it's reasonable to conclude the Dragon stack was 4.5 - 5 tons?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/09/2011 09:43 am
Would upgrading to the Merlin 1d and increasing the T/W cut gravity losses enough to hit the Falcon 9 block II performance level with out a tank stretch?

Interestingly enough, while F9 Block 1 appears to be 313 tons, SpaceX F9 Block 2 numbers (w/ 5m fairing) are 333 tons. That would suggest the propellant load would be only slightly larger and instead mostly the T/W would go up as you say.

Unrelated, given the increased thrust of a Block 2, looks like it would need to cut out 3 engines at MECO1 to keep the same G loads as Block 1.

Again, the numbers on Merlin 1d on the F9 page and the Falcon Heavy page are consistent, but suggest the engine would fly at a lower thrust on F9 - liftoff thrusts on 3xF9-Blk2 and FH don't match.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ChefPat on 03/09/2011 11:38 am
Ok general question for those in the know (or somewhat in the know) When this month will they announce the CCDev 2 finalists and when will Spacex announce if they are going to combine COTS 2&3? I am going back and forth from space website to space website trying to get a better idea of the goings on. Will Spacex actually announce something on an update or like some say they'll just carry on and COTS 3 will be added on at the last minute to the COTS 2 mission?
While I can't answer the CCDev2 question, COTS3 won't be given the go ahead until the COTS2 conditions have been met. That's just common sense Mark. We won't know for certain that they'll get to berth until they're already up there & in the neighborhood.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 03/09/2011 12:33 pm
Ok general question for those in the know (or somewhat in the know) When this month will they announce the CCDev 2 finalists and when will Spacex announce if they are going to combine COTS 2&3? I am going back and forth from space website to space website trying to get a better idea of the goings on. Will Spacex actually announce something on an update or like some say they'll just carry on and COTS 3 will be added on at the last minute to the COTS 2 mission?
While I can't answer the CCDev2 question, COTS3 won't be given the go ahead until the COTS2 conditions have been met. That's just common sense Mark. We won't know for certain that they'll get to berth until they're already up there & in the neighborhood.

However NASA does have to take one decision in advance.  If NASA wants/hopes Dragon COTS2 to deliver water and tea-shirts to the ISS it will have to buy the tea-shirts and deliver them to SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/09/2011 01:08 pm
New Dragon payload?

http://media-newswire.com/release_1144969.html

"The instrument is scheduled for launch in 2014 on a SpaceX rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida"

"It will ride in the unpressurized trunk of the rocket, and NASA will use robots to dock the instrument on the ISS..."

This would be part of a regular CRS flight then?

PS. I see now there is already a SAGE III-ISS thread here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24092.0
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: simcosmos on 03/09/2011 01:59 pm
This graph from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper says that COTS1 lifted off wth a T/W of ~1.2.  Note that this was with a not-fully-equipped Trunk and an almost unloaded Dragon.


That's about what I've been estimating at:  http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9.html

 - Ed Kyle

Looks like you nailed the GLOW as well. I get about 318 tons for COTS C1 and it's a lite Dragon. Given that the Falcon 9 mass in the C1 press kit was 313 tons, I guess it's reasonable to conclude the Dragon stack was 4.5 - 5 tons?

Falcon9 'block1' T/W + First Stage Ascent

On my preliminary simulation files about Falcon9 (block1)-Dragon COTS1 demo flight I got T/W above ~1.2 (~1.25 or so, if remembering well) up to ~1.3 by the time the pad is cleared (would need to double check). I have assumed a total Dragon mass (capsule+trunk+cubesats+nose cover) of about 4400 kg and a total mass at the pad, before ignition, of ~313200 kg for that specific flight.

The initial T/W will probably not significantly change for other (heavier) payloads (including configurations with PLF or LAS) if more or less keeping the same LV assumptions (including engines) as in COTS1 demo: the T/W would be lower than COTS1 demo but still on the ~1.22 range or so (this for the specific numbers used here).


Comparing the virtual telemetry graphics of such COTS demo1 simulation files with the quoted above Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper's graphic I'm more or less able to achieve a very similar graphic curve profile for the first stage of the flight except for slightly higher acceleration maximum peaks (which can probably be explained by the preliminary state of the simulation, differences in input data, etc): the rest of the first stage curve seems to  practically be an one-on-one match with the presented graphic!



About the Upper Stage Ascent Part

One of the pieces of the COTS1 demo flight that is intriguing me is related with the simulation of the upper stage portion of the flight: in order to roughly obtain an equivalent ascent performance more or less compatible with MET vs Velocity vs Altitude calls (from the live video of the ascent) as well to obtain final performance results compatible with official public SpaceX information for the first orbital injection parameters and, later on, for the second burn of the upper stage (after releasing Dragon capsule + cubesats) I had to assume, during the ascent, two throttle down procedures for the upper stage engine (first to 75% and, later on, down to 60%)... 

The upper stage engine ISP assumption that I have clumsily made for the trimmed nozzle 'fix' was ~328s ISP.

As mentioned above, all those assumptions allowed me to obtain upper stage ascent events + engine cut-off MET and injection targets (also for the second burn) that seem to be close with official SpaceX mission results although, as have mentioned at the time, that is not necessarily a sign that the simulation data is an accurate representation of real life hardware assumptions... there is lot of scattered information and lack of updated official confirmation of some needed parameters to improve the quality of the simulation...


Moving on: the 'issue' is that when now comparing my F9block1-Dragon COTS1 demo graphic with the one shared in this thread, the acceleration profiles for the upper stage are different (unlike the part of the graphic for the first stage, where they are similar):

- on my graphics I start with an higher acceleration at upper stage ignition, although the curve shape is roughly the same (like if my version was translated upwards from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS reference)

- then, when throttling down to 75% (from about ~370s to 440s) I virtually get the exact same curve as Koenigsmann, et. al., during those 70s duration

- then, at ~440s I have throttled down to 60% (and kept it until cut-off at ~540s or so): my curve now became slightly lower than the one seen on Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper. The shape of the curve is again still virtually the same, only translated downwards.



When comparing Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper's graphic with another of my virtual telemetry outputs, this time using the preliminary simulation files of F9block1-Dragon COTS1 demo to extrapolate for an ISS inclination injection to 250km circular orbit of a 7000 kg Dragon configuration (capsule+payload+trunk+nosecover) for a total pre-ignition mass of ~316070 kg, I once again get virtually the same curve shape for the first stage (except for slightly higher maximums) and then, for the upper stage portion of this other  ascent case, I get a very similar shape of the curve (EDIT: but slightly translated again upwards although not as much as on the COTS1 demo comparison), except for the cut-off moment (which would now be at ~507s) and for the max. g at that moment (~3.7). The upper stage engine spec for this personal ISS demo / early COTS extrapolation was assumed always at 100% and with an higher ISP than on the COTS1 demo example (411460.4994N, 336s ISP).



Final Comments

All this raises a number of questions... My data assumptions where only extrapolations based on scattered data and pieces of official information about Falcon9, Dragon and the COTS Demo1 mission...

… It might happen that the engine specs that I have assumed on the simulation (for example, 482632.0453N SL thrust for each first stage engine) are higher than the current state of Merlin1C on the real Falcon9 flights done so far (which could explain some things).

As a side note, and in what relates to future Falcon9 flights (beyond the upcoming COTS demos) I'm not sure if the now called Merlin1D (apparently with a SL thrust of 533786.5938N) is a revision of the 556027.7019N / 275s ISP SL 'block2' expectation or if it is still another intermediate step towards that expectation...

Other things could be explained by ascent trajectory details (although I have tried to implement  public information about the ascent trajectory as well about assumed Falcon9 ascent ground rules and assumptions), extra refinement of mass breakout would also be needed (yet another of the big unknowns)...


For the moment I would like to ask:

a) is the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper about the SpaceX COTS1 demo flight available for download?

b) is the data used on the paper the result of extrapolation or the result of official SpaceX numerical input? 

Thanks,
António
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/09/2011 02:02 pm
New Dragon payload?

http://media-newswire.com/release_1144969.html

"The instrument is scheduled for launch in 2014 on a SpaceX rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida"

"It will ride in the unpressurized trunk of the rocket, and NASA will use robots to dock the instrument on the ISS..."

This would be part of a regular CRS flight then?

PS. I see now there is already a SAGE III-ISS thread here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24092.0

Yes, this would be a FRAM-based unpressurized payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/09/2011 02:12 pm
- on my graphics I start with an higher acceleration at upper stage ignition, although the curve shape is roughly the same (like if my version was translated upwards from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS reference)

To my non-expert understanding, if you cut off a part of the nozzle you will lower the thrust level produced. If the flow is choked at the throat (which it's supposed to be), the engine propellant flow rate would be the same as with an integral nozzle, the engine would be unaware of conditions downstream.
The difference in Isp thus arising from resultant lower thrust and same flow rate, i.e. lower "gas mileage". So it would not be sufficient to just assume a lower Isp of the trimmed nozzle and leave the thrust at the same level (93 klbf?), thrust should also be lowered.

This I think could account for your 2nd stage accel profile difference. It also looks like MVac did no throttling during the burn.

As for the first stage performance difference, perhaps it arises due to the fact the outer 8 engines suffer some cosine losses during flight.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: simcosmos on 03/09/2011 02:43 pm
- on my graphics I start with an higher acceleration at upper stage ignition, although the curve shape is roughly the same (like if my version was translated upwards from the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS reference)

To my non-expert understanding, if you cut off a part of the nozzle you will lower the thrust level produced. If the flow is choked at the throat (which it's supposed to be), the engine propellant flow rate would be the same as with an integral nozzle, the engine would be unaware of conditions downstream.
The difference in Isp thus arising from resultant lower thrust and same flow rate, i.e. lower "gas mileage". So it would not be sufficient to just assume a lower Isp of the trimmed nozzle and leave the thrust at the same level (93 klbf?), thrust should also be lowered.

This I think could account for your 2nd stage accel profile difference. It also looks like MVac did no throttling during the burn.

As for the first stage performance difference, perhaps it arises due to the fact the outer 8 engines suffer some cosine losses during flight.

Thanks for the observations. I currently do not have much time to go back to those files to properly re-check some details but, only to clarify and as far as remember, in what concerns the COTS1 demo simulation, I kept the same maximum max. thrust on the upper stage (despite the nozzle fix and despite assuming a lower ISP) in order to be able to meet ascent MET vs Altitude vs Velocity calls (else I would arrive at those 'gates' late on schedule, argh, not sure if expressed myself well). In compensation I could probably tweak the pitch program but that would 'mess' with other things.

It would perhaps be better to start all over but I'm not sure if the COTS1 demo flight, due to its specificity on a number of details, is the best place to do it  ;D The available references are also very scattered, some are outdated, intensive development work is happening (designs are not yet 'fixed')...

I will probably wait for the next Falcon9 flight to try to merge and cross check assumptions (and hope - I can dream! - that SpaceX might then be able to release just a little more details about updated engine specs and about the dry masses vs propellant load of the stages + about the payload's mass breakout)

António
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/09/2011 02:57 pm
I kept the same maximum max. thrust on the upper stage (despite the nozzle fix and despite assuming a lower ISP) in order to be able to meet ascent MET vs Altitude vs Velocity calls (else I would arrive at those 'gates' late on schedule, argh, not sure if expressed myself well). In compensation I could probably tweak the pitch program but that would 'mess' with other things.

There's also the fact the 2nd stage pitched down after ignition, compared to where 1st stage's trajectory left off - visible in the video. Don't know if that would change things much for you.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2011 09:50 pm

BTW meekGee, that one works at SpaceX, and even he is saying drop it and listen to Jim.

Will you take the advice of a long time aerospace professorial, and someone with a SpaceX RFID badge?



Well, I'd respect a technical counter-argument a lot more than a badge.

You guys said that the worst issue with losing an engine on a booster is propellant imbalance.

So I presented a solution.

If you lose an engine on booster L, which is 3% of the thrust, you wait till the rocket sheds enough weight, and then start shutting engines on the R booster - preferably nearest the core to minimize thrust imbalance.

Once you shut down the first, the fuel burn rate equalizes.  Once you shut down the second, the fuel burn rate imbalance reverses, so you can fix the problem as fast as it was created.  So if you flew for 20 seconds with a "right-hand" imbalance, then you can fix it by flying for 20 seconds towards the end of the burn with a "left-hand" imbalance.

Now this is a solution.  If you care to spend 5 minutes telling me why it doesn't work, that will advance your argument a lot more than showing me your credentials.

We can also get back into the angle of attack, but I figured we should take it one issue at a time.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2011 11:26 pm
As for total propellant use, of course when you lose a thruster the trajectory will be suboptimal.  There's no such thing as a get-out-of-jail-free solution, but there's a difference between losing margin and LOM.


that is the point, there is no viable solution.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/09/2011 11:29 pm
As for total propellant use, of course when you lose a thruster the trajectory will be suboptimal.  There's no such thing as a get-out-of-jail-free solution, but there's a difference between losing margin and LOM.


that is the point, there is no viable solution.

No... if the lost thruster is only 3% of the total thrust, and the subsequent load imbalances are a result of that, then the total propellant-carried-for-longer-than-optimal is not that much, and so not at all guaranteed to be LOM.   There's a difference between a sub-optimal trajectory and an automatic LOM.

 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/09/2011 11:32 pm

No... if the lost thruster is only 3% of the total thrust, and the subsequent load imbalances are a result of that, then the total propellant-carried-for-longer-than-optimal is not that much, and so not at all guaranteed to be LOM.   There's a difference between a sub-optimal trajectory and an automatic LOM.


Still haven't solved the load issue.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/10/2011 12:49 am
No... if the lost thruster is only 3% of the total thrust, and the subsequent load imbalances are a result of that, then the total propellant-carried-for-longer-than-optimal is not that much, and so not at all guaranteed to be LOM.   There's a difference between a sub-optimal trajectory and an automatic LOM.

Meekgee, tell me if I am off here, but that 1 engine that only represents 3% of the total thrust would also represent 11% of the fuel consumption on that one core.  Seems that if 1 core had a 3% reduction in thrust and gained thousands of extra pounds a second because of the unused fuel that the lost engine was supposed to be consuming, it would very quickly add up to a level of difference that would not be easily overcame with just gimbaling.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2011 01:16 am
yes, that's correct - per core, this is 11% of the thrust and fuel consumption rate.

So let's look at possible scenarios.

If the first engine-out event happened late enough in the flight (I'd estimate about 30 seconds into it, but that's just a rough WAG) then enough mass was burned off that you'd be able to shut down an opposing engine and almost no harm done.

If it happened earlier, say 10 seconds into the flight, than for 20 seconds you'd be burning fuel 11% slower on the booster.  Since the booster fires for about 2 minutes, than this represents only about 1% of the fuel load of the booster, correct?

When you get to the 30 second mark, you'd shut off the opposing engine, and now the fuel flow is equalized.

When you get to maybe 50 seconds (again, these timing numbers are just rough WAGs) you'd shut down a second engine on the good booster, for 20 seconds, and regain the fuel balance.

In effect, you custom tailor an engine shut-down sequence to deal with the bad engine.

You can do that, since 1/27 increments are a lot more forgiving than 1/3.

Now of course it won't be a nominal flight, but if the rocket can take this thrust imbalance (as opposed to the cumulative fuel imbalance) then you can prevent LOM.

And yes, when you shut down the second engine, you need to pay attention to the load distribution within the thrust structure - maybe you'll do it with two corner engine. 

All I'm saying is that this is a reasonable approach to follow - I'm not guaranteeing it will work, but it's certainly not so laughable as some folks have suggested.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2011 01:29 am
Still havent addressed core loads

It is laughable because you are shutting down two good engines and the engines can't be restarted
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/10/2011 01:33 am
You cannot argue the science here.

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: meekGee on 03/10/2011 02:52 am
Still havent addressed core loads

It is laughable because you are shutting down two good engines and the engines can't be restarted

Well we're trying to recover from engine loss and prevent LOM, so shutting engines early in order to prevent propellant loss is not a bad trade - especially since the rocket is lighter by now and so has thrust margin.

As for core loads - I'm assuming we're talking about the aerodynamic loads now.

So since the propellant imbalance at any time (as explained above) is only 1-2% at its peak, and since the thrust imbalance is only 3% at a core diameter's moment arm - what is the rationale for saying there's a bigger core load problem?  (or are you talking about a different core load?)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/10/2011 04:05 am
Ah, the bliss of the ignore list.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/10/2011 04:10 am
..... I had to assume, during the ascent, two throttle down procedures for the upper stage engine (first to 75% and, later on, down to 60%)...

For the moment I would like to ask:

a) is the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper about the SpaceX COTS1 demo flight available for download?

b) is the data used on the paper the result of extrapolation or the result of official SpaceX numerical input? 

Thanks,
António

There was no throttling. 

It may not even be possible to throttle the Merlin 1c in flight.  It can be derated to some degree.

I don't know if the file is in the public domain so I must treat it as copyrighted.  I will ask.  You could do a search.

The graph has flight data from COTS-1. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/10/2011 05:06 am
Still havent addressed core loads
It is laughable because you are shutting down two good engines and the engines can't be restarted
Just out of the air. What if you added a valve on the side of the manifold and dumped some extra fuel (and oxidizer) on the core that lost an engine?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kch on 03/10/2011 05:54 am
Still havent addressed core loads
It is laughable because you are shutting down two good engines and the engines can't be restarted
Just out of the air. What if you added a valve on the side of the manifold and dumped some extra fuel (and oxidizer) on the core that lost an engine?

IINM, that could create a sizeable "BOOM":

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/fae.htm

:(
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: FlintlockMusket on 03/10/2011 07:01 am
meekGee - Please give this up.  :-[   Your math is wrong.  Your not dealing with 27 engines, but 9+9+9.  Because of this, lost of a engine on one booster requires a shutdown of the opposite engine on the other booster.  Rockets do not like lateral loads, period.  Also, remember that not all of your engines are going to be able to gimbal,  and those that do can only gimble a few degrees.  Any time your CG is not on the core center line, then the amount of thrust being used to lift the rocket is reduced as thrust is used to correct the imbalanced CG.  In the end, remember, rockets don't like lateral loads.

Flint
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rklaehn on 03/10/2011 08:57 am
meekGee - Please give this up.  :-[   Your math is wrong.  Your not dealing with 27 engines, but 9+9+9.  Because of this, lost of a engine on one booster requires a shutdown of the opposite engine on the other booster.  Rockets do not like lateral loads, period.  Also, remember that not all of your engines are going to be able to gimbal,  and those that do can only gimble a few degrees.  Any time your CG is not on the core center line, then the amount of thrust being used to lift the rocket is reduced as thrust is used to correct the imbalanced CG.  In the end, remember, rockets don't like lateral loads.

I don't want to get into this discussion. But as far as I know all engines on falcon 9 gimbal. And when the CG is not on the core centerline that does not necessarily lead to "lost thrust". It just leads to higher aerodynamic loads because the rocket has to fly with a non-zero angle of attack. Rockets may not like lateral loads, but they can tolerate them to a degree. Otherwise asymmetric configurations such as the Atlas V 411 or the shuttle stack would not be possible.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2011 10:26 am

As for core loads - I'm assuming we're talking about the aerodynamic loads now.

So since the propellant imbalance at any time (as explained above) is only 1-2% at its peak, and since the thrust imbalance is only 3% at a core diameter's moment arm - what is the rationale for saying there's a bigger core load problem?  (or are you talking about a different core load?)


No, asymmetrical thrust loads at the attachments. 

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/10/2011 10:38 am
Otherwise asymmetric configurations such as the Atlas V 411 or the shuttle stack would not be possible.

I like the 2nd one here: http://www.launchphotography.com/ASTRA_1KR.html where you can see it in reference to the MLP tower.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2011 11:37 am
Otherwise asymmetric configurations such as the Atlas V 411 or the shuttle stack would not be possible.


They were designed for it
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/10/2011 12:51 pm
All I'm saying is that this is a reasonable approach to follow - I'm not guaranteeing it will work, but it's certainly not so laughable as some folks have suggested.

But again, if you start shutting down even more engines, your going to start having your 1st stage gaining weight at an incredible pace.

1 engine fails, 1 or 2 engines shut down to compensate, you then end up thousands of gallons of unconsumed fuel that must be accounted for in gravity losses.

meekGee, I will 100% assure you that who ever is in charge of Falcon Heavy development has a good answer, and will give you a 90% assurance that a question like this is going to pop up in a press conferences between now and 1st launch of Falcon Heavy, hopefully next year.

But for now people who are paid to know have told you how it's done.  You just got experience that many companies pay good contractors to get.  Chill out.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/10/2011 01:11 pm
But for now people who are paid to know have told you how it's done.  You just got experience that many companies pay good contractors to get.  Chill out.

But . . . but . . . but . . . it's so much easier and more fun to handwave and pretend to know better than people who do this for a living!!!  ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: simcosmos on 03/10/2011 03:12 pm
..... I had to assume, during the ascent, two throttle down procedures for the upper stage engine (first to 75% and, later on, down to 60%)...

For the moment I would like to ask:

a) is the Koenigsmann, et. al. AAS paper about the SpaceX COTS1 demo flight available for download?

b) is the data used on the paper the result of extrapolation or the result of official SpaceX numerical input? 

Thanks,
António

There was no throttling. 

It may not even be possible to throttle the Merlin 1c in flight.  It can be derated to some degree.

I don't know if the file is in the public domain so I must treat it as copyrighted.  I will ask.  You could do a search.

The graph has flight data from COTS-1. 

Please note that on my posts I did not intend to mean that there was upper stage throttle procedure on the real COTS1 demo flight, only that such procedure was an way that allowed me to have an ascent story and final performance *simulated* results that were +/- compatible with public information. Then, after orbital insertion and Dragon capsule + cubesats released, on the second burn of the upper stage, I used 100% thrust mode (for about 20s or so, counting with transients, would need to check) and was able to achieve a burn duration / performance compatible with the public result (with apogee ~11000 km).

Back to the ascent story, the above to write that here are many other places on the input data that can be tweaked (such as better understanding of engine specs on that flight, mass assumptions or extra trajectory work) but I was not able yet to fine tune the simulation - neither I'm sure if will do it - because there seems (?) to exist lack of officially confirmed details (freely available, EDIT: and other than 'generic' pre-flight press kits, I mean) about the kind of inputs that would be needed to have a better starting point for simulation work.

Meanwhile, it could take extra time to play with some other sets of assumptions that I did start to research; have here an ever growing Excel file where 'play' (in an integrated way) with Falcon9 + Payloads assumptions, before going to simulation work... But time is something that I might not currently have to do such 'detective work' (that is why wrote that will probably wait for the next flight / for the release of extra details).



Still about engines throttling, please note that I was only making reference to throttling the Merlin on the *upper stage*, accordingly with the Falcon9 Users Guide v2009, page10, the engine version that powers the upper stage is described as having 'Throttle Capability' from '60% to 100%' (and '2 restart capability') vs 'No Throttle Capability' -  which is the cause for the phased MECO procedure - (and No Restart) for the engine variants that power the first stage. This is the piece of information that I have used to implement the throttle on the upper stage simulation but again, an equivalent result (without requiring upper stage throttle) can perhaps be achieved by playing with the trajectory + mass assumptions and, of course, with the engines assumptions (if there is information available about what were the actual engine specs of the COTS1 demo mission, in particular, the upper stage engine specs with the trimmed nozzle).


About the paper: thanks, I already tried to do a first search (with no success) although it was not yet an intensive search.

If the source data is from telemetry of the flight that would be really cool because it could then allow a much better understanding of the development state of some hardware, at least it could help to further constraint the speculation about some parameters that are essential to approach any simulation to what happened on 'real life' :)

Thanks,
António
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: chrisking0997 on 03/10/2011 05:40 pm
Still havent addressed core loads
It is laughable because you are shutting down two good engines and the engines can't be restarted
Just out of the air. What if you added a valve on the side of the manifold and dumped some extra fuel (and oxidizer) on the core that lost an engine?

IINM, that could create a sizeable "BOOM":

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/fae.htm

:(

well, there you go.  That will certainly solve the unconsumed fuel weight problem. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Halidon on 03/10/2011 08:21 pm
Not to be a jerk, but since the Engine Out/Asymmetrical Thrust discussion has become somewhat expansive, could we break that into its own thread? It has become more specific than just general discussion.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: joertexas on 03/11/2011 05:33 am
I'm not sure where to post questions, so I'll just put it here:

About how long does the Falcon 9 second stage remain able to restart once it reaches orbit? I assume that there are several factors that would affect its ability to restart.

Thanks,

JR
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/11/2011 07:43 am
About how long does the Falcon 9 second stage remain able to restart once it reaches orbit? I assume that there are several factors that would affect its ability to restart.

I would imagine that the big limiter is the life of the batteries.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: douglas100 on 03/11/2011 07:58 am
LOX boil off as well.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/11/2011 01:19 pm
Batteries, LOX boiloff / engine conditioning (keeping it cold so minimal LOX is spent chilling it before the next start), attitude control propellant, pressurization gas, settling gas.  For REALLY long durations (>1 day, which doesn't matter because the LOX would be lost without active cooling), navigation errors if no GPS update.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2011 02:17 pm
Batteries, LOX boiloff / engine conditioning (keeping it cold so minimal LOX is spent chilling it before the next start), attitude control propellant, pressurization gas, settling gas.  For REALLY long durations (>1 day, which doesn't matter because the LOX would be lost without active cooling), navigation errors if no GPS update.
>1 day? That long? I would think they only have an hour or so before the gyro errors accumulate... or are you assuming some other manner of grounding the gyros (star tracker, sun tracker, horizon tracker)?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 03/11/2011 07:58 pm
Batteries, LOX boiloff / engine conditioning (keeping it cold so minimal LOX is spent chilling it before the next start), attitude control propellant, pressurization gas, settling gas.  For REALLY long durations (>1 day, which doesn't matter because the LOX would be lost without active cooling), navigation errors if no GPS update.
>1 day? That long? I would think they only have an hour or so before the gyro errors accumulate... or are you assuming some other manner of grounding the gyros (star tracker, sun tracker, horizon tracker)?

The Dragon capsule has a full guidance, navigation and control system.  So it may be able to supply the launch vehicle with an accurate location.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: arnezami on 03/12/2011 08:14 pm
QA with elon musk (Phi Beta Kappa Lecture Series):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBPV73Fq820

Among other things (09:48 into the video):

"It would look a little bit different. Not that much different. My view on reusability is you have to ... the first stage basicly has to turn around, relight its engines, boost back to the launch pad and land propulsively. It's tricky... but its very doable."

 ;D

there is also other (dragon and falcon) stuff in there...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/12/2011 08:28 pm
"It would look a little bit different. Not that much different. My view on reusability is you have to ... the first stage basicly has to turn around, relight its engines, boost back to the launch pad and land propulsively. It's tricky... but its very doable."
 ;D
there is also other (dragon and falcon) stuff in there...

If SpaceX managed that with a Falcon 9 1st stage, I think even Jim's heart would melt.  "Like God and Robert Heinlein" intended.

Why would you even go back to the pad, you could have it land on a stabilized barge out in the atlantic placed at the most convenient place for Falcon 9 to meet it and land it vertically, would save a lot of fuel.

Ok SpaceX, animation time.  I want to see a CGI video of Falcon 9 doing the 1 hour roll out and launch, 1st stage doing vertical landing after stageing, Dragon dropping a 5-6 microsats out of the trunk then docking with a Nautilus-X, and returning propulsively at the cape with a Falcon 9 heavy on the pad in the background. :)

Don't think half of this will ever happen, but that would be a fun little video to watch.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/12/2011 08:46 pm
QA with elon musk (Phi Beta Kappa Lecture Series):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBPV73Fq820

Among other things (09:48 into the video):

"It would look a little bit different. Not that much different. My view on reusability is you have to ... the first stage basicly has to turn around, relight its engines, boost back to the launch pad and land propulsively. It's tricky... but its very doable."

 ;D

there is also other (dragon and falcon) stuff in there...

Great video.  LOL  Elon owns GM and Chrysler which I thought was absolutely hilarious.  Lots of good SpaceX stuff in here.

Thank you for posting.

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/12/2011 09:10 pm
Ok SpaceX, animation time.  I want to see a CGI video of Falcon 9 doing the 1 hour roll out and launch, 1st stage doing vertical landing after stageing, Dragon dropping a 5-6 microsats out of the trunk then docking with a Nautilus-X, and returning propulsively at the cape with a Falcon 9 heavy on the pad in the background. :)

If you want shiny animations, you're in the wrong board. :P
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/12/2011 09:15 pm
Ok SpaceX, animation time.  I want to see a CGI video of Falcon 9 doing the 1 hour roll out and launch, 1st stage doing vertical landing after stageing, Dragon dropping a 5-6 microsats out of the trunk then docking with a Nautilus-X, and returning propulsively at the cape with a Falcon 9 heavy on the pad in the background. :)

If you want shiny animations, you're in the wrong board. :P

Tell that to the Ares 5 Super HLV dreamers
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kch on 03/12/2011 09:52 pm

Ok SpaceX, animation time.  I want to see a CGI video of Falcon 9 doing the 1 hour roll out and launch, 1st stage doing vertical landing after stageing, Dragon dropping a 5-6 microsats out of the trunk then docking with a Nautilus-X, and returning propulsively at the cape with a Falcon 9 heavy on the pad in the background. :)

"Would you like fries with that?"  ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/12/2011 10:30 pm
"It would look a little bit different. Not that much different. My view on reusability is you have to ... the first stage basicly has to turn around, relight its engines, boost back to the launch pad and land propulsively. It's tricky... but its very doable."
 ;D
there is also other (dragon and falcon) stuff in there...

If SpaceX managed that with a Falcon 9 1st stage, I think even Jim's heart would melt.  "Like God and Robert Heinlein" intended.

Why would you even go back to the pad, you could have it land on a stabilized barge out in the atlantic placed at the most convenient place for Falcon 9 to meet it and land it vertically, would save a lot of fuel.

Ok SpaceX, animation time.  I want to see a CGI video of Falcon 9 doing the 1 hour roll out and launch, 1st stage doing vertical landing after stageing, Dragon dropping a 5-6 microsats out of the trunk then docking with a Nautilus-X, and returning propulsively at the cape with a Falcon 9 heavy on the pad in the background. :)

Don't think half of this will ever happen, but that would be a fun little video to watch.

This is what Kistler planned for its K-1 launch vehicle.  One of the three AJ-26 engines would have restarted for the boost-back phase.  It's all in the user's guide, available through these links.
http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20040318191612/http://www.kistleraerospace.com/

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/13/2011 01:16 am
QA with elon musk (Phi Beta Kappa Lecture Series):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBPV73Fq820

Among other things (09:48 into the video):

"It would look a little bit different. Not that much different. My view on reusability is you have to ... the first stage basicly has to turn around, relight its engines, boost back to the launch pad and land propulsively. It's tricky... but its very doable."

 ;D

there is also other (dragon and falcon) stuff in there...

See also the first part, here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t94uJcPTbnU
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/13/2011 12:10 pm
Okay, bottom line:

1) How much extra propellent would be needed for the fly-back and landing?
2) Can Merlin-1 be modified to fine-throttle in the manner needed for a propulsive landing?
3) What sort of performance to LEO hit would come from carrying the weight of the landing struts and extra propellent?

This is real blue-sky thinking.  It isn't undoable but if SpaceX make it a near- or even mid-term objective, they had better have a sure source of funding for several dozen test flights.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/13/2011 01:45 pm
Okay, bottom line:
1) How much extra propellent would be needed for the fly-back and landing?
2) Can Merlin-1 be modified to fine-throttle in the manner needed for a propulsive landing?
3) What sort of performance to LEO hit would come from carrying the weight of the landing struts and extra propellent?
This is real blue-sky thinking.  It isn't undoable but if SpaceX make it a near- or even mid-term objective, they had better have a sure source of funding for several dozen test flights.

They already have the test flights paid for.  Every launch to date has had as a secondary objective as recovery, that would just continue.  I thought that 1st stages where shut down with a certain amount of fuel still in them for margin, is that correct?

I see the challenges as being:
-Design and install a secondary avionics package for the 1st stage
-Upgrade at least 1 Merlin engine to be deep throttlable and air restartable
-Install control surfaces on the exterior of the 1st stage.

and the recovery going something like this:

a. After 2nd stage ignition, 1 engine is reignited on the 1st stage and starts a deceleration/stabilization burn.  The 1st stage would be oriented for an engine 1st reentry

b. Once the stage reenters the atmosphere, but is still transonic a ballot is deployed to help decelerate.  Upon deployment of the ballot the engine is shut down.  Once below the speed of sound a parachute is deployed

c. At 10,000 feet the engine is reignited, and pressurization from the engine is used to deploy piston legs like what Armadillo was using on their MOD vehicle.

d. the stage would be landed vertically on a unmanned barge.  With the engine serving to stall the fall of the stage right before impact

I know, it'f a flight of fancy, but it was fun writing down.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/13/2011 01:56 pm
I thought that 1st stages where shut down with a certain amount of fuel still in them for margin, is that correct?

They are run to depletion, no point in not squeezing out all the delta-V they're good for. There will always be some residual propellant in the feedlines, because you don't want engines running dry, but it will not be much.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/13/2011 02:04 pm

They already have the test flights paid for.  Every launch to date has had as a secondary objective as recovery, that would just continue.  I thought that 1st stages where shut down with a certain amount of fuel still in them for margin, is that correct?


Not booster stages, they are run to depletion.  Upperstages hold the margin.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/13/2011 02:31 pm
Dumb question, but what range is going to let a near empty rocket come flying back at it?

I just don't see them saying sure, fire a rocket at us. What happens in Titusville if it over shoots?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/13/2011 02:45 pm
Gliding to one of the big runways near Jacksonville seems more realistic.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/13/2011 03:55 pm
Gliding to one of the big runways near Jacksonville seems more realistic.

But that requires wings...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 03/13/2011 03:55 pm
Dumb question, but what range is going to let a near empty rocket come flying back at it?

I just don't see them saying sure, fire a rocket at us. What happens in Titusville if it over shoots?

Kistler was planning for Woomera, Australia, with the Nevada Test Site as a future possibility.  Lots of empty space seems the solution for this problem.  The K-1 first stage wouldn't have traveled as far downrange or as fast as the Falcon 9 first stage - but a "fly-back" Falcon 9 first stage would also not travel as far or as fast. 

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/13/2011 04:07 pm
Ah, but that would be an entirely different vehicle at a different launch site...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/13/2011 04:36 pm
Okay, bottom line:

1) How much extra propellent would be needed for the fly-back and landing?
2) Can Merlin-1 be modified to fine-throttle in the manner needed for a propulsive landing?

Going by the figures on Ed Kyle's site, it would need to throttle down to about 25%, which is very hard, and way more than Mvac.


3) What sort of performance to LEO hit would come from carrying the weight of the landing struts and extra propellent?

In the video above, Elon says extra first stage mass only has a 1/5 to 1/10 impact on LEO payload.


This is real blue-sky thinking.  It isn't undoable but if SpaceX make it a near- or even mid-term objective, they had better have a sure source of funding for several dozen test flights.

SpaceX is already designing a hypergolic landing system for Dragon. Wouldn't it be simplest to install a version of this on their first stage? It could also allow the stage to land horizontally (like ULA's Lunar lander), and orientate the stage for reentry.

Every first stage recovery (and especially any early failures) would also be a test of Dragon's landing system.

Dragon would retain it's parachutes in case of engine failure, but maybe you could delete those and just accept the small risk that the first stage will thump very hard into the ground very occasionally (so make sure to land in the middle of nowhere).

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/13/2011 04:54 pm
Why would you even go back to the pad, you could have it land on a stabilized barge out in the atlantic placed at the most convenient place for Falcon 9 to meet it and land it vertically, would save a lot of fuel.

Okay, bottom line:
1) How much extra propellent would be needed for the fly-back and landing?
2) Can Merlin-1 be modified to fine-throttle in the manner needed for a propulsive landing?
3) What sort of performance to LEO hit would come from carrying the weight of the landing struts and extra propellent?
This is real blue-sky thinking.  It isn't undoable but if SpaceX make it a near- or even mid-term objective, they had better have a sure source of funding for several dozen test flights.

They already have the test flights paid for.  Every launch to date has had as a secondary objective as recovery, that would just continue.  I thought that 1st stages where shut down with a certain amount of fuel still in them for margin, is that correct?

I see the challenges as being:
-Design and install a secondary avionics package for the 1st stage
-Upgrade at least 1 Merlin engine to be deep throttlable and air restartable
-Install control surfaces on the exterior of the 1st stage.

-Stopping the 36m+ stage from toppling over after it's landed upright on a barge which is being rocked by Atlantic waves. I know the engines & thrust structure make it bottom-heavy, but...

If you have a hypergolic landing system, I see three options for stage recovery.

1) hypergolics just orientate the stage for reentry, but otherwise nothing different to the current recovery right up to the point where the hypergolics land on a barge instead of splashing down. Recovery would be at the same place as currently.

Simplest, but only works if the stage can survive high-speed reentry as long as it is orientated correctly.

2) Restart one Merlin to arrest the stage's forward motion, then just have it drop vertically. Again, land on a barge.

This seems to give the lowest reentry speeds, but still requires a recovery crew to be sent out on the ocean.

3) Restart one Merlin to "boost back", and set the stage for a recovery somewhere on land.

Higher reentry speeds than (2), but lower than (1). Also avoids the need for a recovery crew on the ocean.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/13/2011 04:55 pm
Gliding to one of the big runways near Jacksonville seems more realistic.

But that requires wings...

...or a Rogallo or parafoil in place of the current parachutes.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Mader Levap on 03/13/2011 06:02 pm
If SpaceX managed that with a Falcon 9 1st stage, I think even Jim's heart would melt.  "Like God and Robert Heinlein" intended. Why would you even go back to the pad, you could have it land on a stabilized barge out in the atlantic placed at the most convenient place for Falcon 9 to meet it and land it vertically, would save a lot of fuel.
I see one problem with it. Patent pending by Bezos (http://www.onorbit.com/node/2904). Judging by history of his main business (Amazon and its ludicrous one-click patent drama), it would not surprise me if Bezos would actually do nothing but collecting payment for something that he did not contribute at all.
In other words, patent trolling.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/13/2011 06:50 pm
If SpaceX managed that with a Falcon 9 1st stage, I think even Jim's heart would melt.  "Like God and Robert Heinlein" intended. Why would you even go back to the pad, you could have it land on a stabilized barge out in the atlantic placed at the most convenient place for Falcon 9 to meet it and land it vertically, would save a lot of fuel.
I see one problem with it. Patent pending by Bezos (http://www.onorbit.com/node/2904). Judging by history of his main business (Amazon and its ludicrous one-click patent drama), it would not surprise me if Bezos would actually do nothing but collecting payment for something that he did not contribute at all.
In other words, patent trolling.
That patent is an old idea that many people have mentioned before.

I don't see SpaceX using wings.

You don't need to restart all the Merlin engines, which is why it won't need to be as deeply throttled as, say, Masten's Xoie or Armadillo's Mod needed to be since they only had one engine to work with. It's also possible to use a Merlin engine that is designed for a low level of thrust throughout the flight, thus not needing to be as deeply throttled.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Danderman on 03/13/2011 07:10 pm
I see one problem with it. Patent pending by Bezos (http://www.onorbit.com/node/2904). Judging by history of his main business (Amazon and its ludicrous one-click patent drama), it would not surprise me if Bezos would actually do nothing but collecting payment for something that he did not contribute at all.
In other words, patent trolling.

I don't think that licensing patents in aerospace is a big business. Most companies prefer to build and fly their own concepts.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/14/2011 03:14 am
If someone is serious about 1st stage re-use, I think the payload penalty of wings for a 2:1 glideslope is less than the propellant (plus restart event) to effect a trajectory back to land (let alone back to the launch site).  But, then again I don't really believe in 1st stage re-use.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/14/2011 07:31 am
If someone is serious about 1st stage re-use, I think the payload penalty of wings for a 2:1 glideslope is less than the propellant (plus restart event) to effect a trajectory back to land (let alone back to the launch site).

I'm surprised that 2:1 would be sufficient. This post (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21923.msg603737#msg603737) suggests a glide of hundreds of miles would be required to reach any land.


But, then again I don't really believe in 1st stage re-use.

Not arguing, but ISTR Jim saying that nine engines on F9 made it somewhat of a special case. And I believe Elon said it would be worthwhile just to recover the thrust structure (again, presumably because of the number of engines).

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: butters on 03/14/2011 08:04 am
I think that if SpaceX were really serious about first-stage reuse as opposed to the potential of recycling some parts (e.g. thrust structure), then they would have designed Falcon 9 with a staging velocity in the area of 2,000m/s rather than over 3,000m/s. They put too much dV on the first stage to make intact recovery readily achievable. I'm not too optimistic unless they put a big hydrolox upper on top (two Raptor engines as currently specificied) and get the staging velocity down into more reasonable territory similar to the Shuttle SRBs.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/14/2011 02:24 pm
I think that if SpaceX were really serious about first-stage reuse as opposed to the potential of recycling some parts (e.g. thrust structure), then they would have designed Falcon 9 with a staging velocity in the area of 2,000m/s rather than over 3,000m/s. They put too much dV on the first stage to make intact recovery readily achievable. I'm not too optimistic unless they put a big hydrolox upper on top (two Raptor engines as currently specificied) and get the staging velocity down into more reasonable territory similar to the Shuttle SRBs.
Really easy to reuse a stage that has a staging velocity of 0 m/s.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/14/2011 02:50 pm
Really easy to reuse a stage that has a staging velocity of 0 m/s.

That'd be the strongback, I suppose.

Even that's only going to have partial reuse after the last F9 launch.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: clongton on 03/14/2011 02:51 pm
Forget wings. Not only are they heavy and complicated, but they seriously complicate the booster design. They are not needed for a stable, controllable return glide back to some point of landing. All that's needed is to put fins on the rocket, like the Saturn-V or the V-2, not for any stability or control during ascent, but specifically designed to enable what is called "backward sliding". To the best of my knowledge, this has never been employed on any full scale space launch vehicles, like a Falcon-9 size vehicle for example. But it has been used many, many times with smaller rockets, from large models to small space-bound sounding rockets. I'm at work so I don't have access to my library, but here's a link to Info Central on the Rocketry Online site. There's stuff here that has applications all the way from the little Estes A-powered model to full size sounding rockets regularly flown by universities. All it really takes is a little ingenuity, something which SpaceX has shown itself to very adept at.

This specific link will take you to a site dedicated to hobby rocketry, but the same principles apply to any rocket of any size. While what is discussed in this article is transitioning to a glide recovery without external influence, a full scale launch vehicle would have the advantage of avionics to control the process using thousands of samplings a second to control and trim the maneuvering. Theoretically, it should be possible to bring it down in a Shuttle-like glide and then execute a stall maneuver just above ground (or sea) level and let the vehicle settle down to a landing. The avionics add no additional mass to the launch weight but the mass of the fins and control mechanisms would need to be traded against the launch mass of other potential recovery solutions, if the intent is to retrieve the vehicle in good enough condition to enable multiple reuses.

Give it some thought. This is definitely "outside the box" thinking. Anyone on here from SpaceX care to chime in?

http://www.info-central.org/?article=276
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/14/2011 05:30 pm
Really easy to reuse a stage that has a staging velocity of 0 m/s.

That'd be the strongback, I suppose.

Even that's only going to have partial reuse after the last F9 launch.

cheers, Martin
I knew someone was going to mention that. :D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/14/2011 09:55 pm
 :D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: go4mars on 03/15/2011 03:06 am
I think that if SpaceX were really serious about first-stage reuse as opposed to the potential of recycling some parts (e.g. thrust structure), then they would have designed Falcon 9 with a staging velocity in the area of 2,000m/s rather than over 3,000m/s. They put too much dV on the first stage to make intact recovery readily achievable. I'm not too optimistic unless they put a big hydrolox upper on top (two Raptor engines as currently specificied) and get the staging velocity down into more reasonable territory similar to the Shuttle SRBs.

Perhaps 9 merlin 1d's with a heavier, more potent upper stage (raptor) would allow lower staging if that is important. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/15/2011 03:22 am
SpaceX planning on testing nine engines this week at McGregor. 10 or 90 second burns, presumably acceptance testing:

http://www.kwtx.com/ourtown/headlines/McGregor_SpaceX_Plans_To_Test_A_Rocket_117973704.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: tigerade on 03/15/2011 10:18 am
SpaceX planning on testing nine engines this week at McGregor. 10 or 90 second burns, presumably acceptance testing:

http://www.kwtx.com/ourtown/headlines/McGregor_SpaceX_Plans_To_Test_A_Rocket_117973704.html

I wonder if it's COTS2?  Or has COTS2 already been tested?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: butters on 03/15/2011 11:02 am
SpaceX planning on testing nine engines this week at McGregor. 10 or 90 second burns, presumably acceptance testing:

http://www.kwtx.com/ourtown/headlines/McGregor_SpaceX_Plans_To_Test_A_Rocket_117973704.html

I wonder if it's COTS2?  Or has COTS2 already been tested?

I hope it's not the COTS2 engines. If it is, then I don't see how they could make their NET July 15 target. They should be testing COTS3 engines right about now. The COTS2 hardware shouldn't be too far from delivery to the Cape.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/15/2011 11:14 am
I hope it's not the COTS2 engines. If it is, then I don't see how they could make their NET July 15 target.

Couldn't disagree more. F9-002 first stage had the first stage firing on June 27 and the stage was at the Cape by July 16. The booster was not the pacing item for C1 and that will not be the case for C2 either.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/15/2011 01:07 pm
SpaceX still hasn't completed the design for the Falcon 9 fairing yet, right ?

That means the only thing that can launch on the F9, is the Dragon, that doesn't help with commerical customers such as OrbComm or MDA. Is there any sign of SpaceX being able to launch these SATs this year ( or at least get the hardware to FL ) by the end of the year 2011 ??

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/15/2011 03:45 pm
butters, it's most likely COTS 2 and most likely they won't launch in July as planned more likely August as this mission will probably be combining COTS 2&3. It could even run into September. I suspect Dragon and trunk development will pace the schedule.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/15/2011 10:15 pm
SpaceX still hasn't completed the design for the Falcon 9 fairing yet, right ?

IIRC, they're having someone else build the PLF.  You can see it here:
(http://www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090110_vertical002.jpg)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/16/2011 12:49 am
Don't think this has been posted yet.

Quote
SpaceX's Shotwell: planning 2-3 Falcon 9 launches this year, 5-6 next year, up to 12/yr by 2013 or 14.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/16/2011 01:47 am
Don't think this has been posted yet.

Quote
SpaceX's Shotwell: planning 2-3 Falcon 9 launches this year, 5-6 next year, up to 12/yr by 2013 or 14.

They only have seven F9's on the  manifest in 2011 & 2012 and five in 2013. (Not going to quibble about FH)  Shotwell is stating that they will be on or ahead of that pace in two years. 

We shall see.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/16/2011 01:52 am
SpaceX still hasn't completed the design for the Falcon 9 fairing yet, right ?

IIRC, they're having someone else build the PLF.  You can see it here:
(http://www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090110_vertical002.jpg)


That's a picture of a Falcon 1, right ? Doesn't count towards a F9 fairing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Halidon on 03/16/2011 02:03 am

IIRC, they're having someone else build the PLF.  You can see it here:
(http://www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090110_vertical002.jpg)


That's a picture of a Falcon 1, right ? Doesn't count towards a F9 fairing.
No, that's Falcon 9 with its earlier paint job.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kch on 03/16/2011 02:04 am
SpaceX still hasn't completed the design for the Falcon 9 fairing yet, right ?

IIRC, they're having someone else build the PLF.  You can see it here:
(http://www.spacex.com/assets/img/20090110_vertical002.jpg)


That's a picture of a Falcon 1, right ? Doesn't count towards a F9 fairing.

Um, NO ... that's a 9.  (welcome to NSF, by the way!)  That's a pic of the first 9 on the pad at Canaveral, as they initially planned to fly it.  (note the date on the .jpg)  The decision to replace the PLF with the structural test version of the Dragon for the first flight came later.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: bubbagret on 03/16/2011 03:09 am
They make thier own fairing....

"The Falcon 9’s top nose cone fairing, is built around a multi-armed support structure to provide a rigid skeleton when forming the composite shell... "

From http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/gallery_spacex/all/1
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/16/2011 03:33 am
I wonder if that fairing has been through any testing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kkattula on 03/16/2011 01:53 pm
They make thier own fairing....

"The Falcon 9’s top nose cone fairing, is built around a multi-armed support structure to provide a rigid skeleton when forming the composite shell... "

From http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/gallery_spacex/all/1

They make their own fairing now.  IIRC, the original external source didn't work out too well.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: joertexas on 03/16/2011 04:31 pm
They make their own fairing now.  IIRC, the original external source didn't work out too well.

Is there any indication that they will make it larger than the dimensions on the Falcon 9's data sheet?

JR
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/16/2011 08:31 pm
There's no business case for that.  Satellites worldwide fit into that existing envelope.  They'd be giving up upmass for some future unknown feature that has little if any demand.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 03/16/2011 09:07 pm
If SpaceX is making their own PLF. Maybe they can make one longer enough to stacked a couple of Atlas V US or Russian Briz-M US inside.

Always wonder if SpaceX could augment the Falcon Heavy for high velocity Outer Solar System missions. Would like to see someone launch a flyby mission to Eris in the next 25 years with something like the New Horizon spacecraft.

Of course there is no need for this proposed long PLF if the SpaceX Raptor US became available.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lampyridae on 03/17/2011 11:02 am
"oh", say the MBAs, "it's our access to market, customer relations we've cultivated for years, our critical mass" - all barriers to entry for competition, and more excuses for charging too much.

This is all fair game under free market, but the dollars they are sucking down are government dollars on cost+ or single-source contracts, which is why I am so ecstatic that of all players in the universe it is the current administration that is giving SpaceX the chance to succeed.

"Master" of Business Administration my foot. The knee jerk reaction is to fire people, outsource to China and cook the books. Yet Chinese companies come to the US and set up factories.

This is speaking as someone soon to graduate with that degree.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/17/2011 01:30 pm
They make their own fairing now.  IIRC, the original external source didn't work out too well.

Is there any indication that they will make it larger than the dimensions on the Falcon 9's data sheet?

JR

Right. I know the one in the picture didn't fly, since the first F9 used a Dragon "qualification unit". Did any part of that rocket fly, or was it only used for pictures and testing of equipment / procedures on the pad ?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/18/2011 07:17 pm
From Twitter:

@wacotrib
 
SpaceX set to test its nine-engine rocket between 2 and 2:30 p.m. at its McGregor development facility.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 03/18/2011 07:37 pm
looks like test happened
http://www.wacotrib.com/news/breakingnews/SpaceX-rocket-engine-test-may-happen-this-afternoon.html

Quote
....

The test lasted about 10 seconds.
.......

Communications director Kirstin Brost said a longer, 90-second test will be coming in the next few days. ....
jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/18/2011 09:25 pm
Spacex has a new article out at aviationweek.com Here are some highlights..

SpaceX expects to get around $250M in CCDev funding to help pay for development of its hypergolic liquid-fueled pusher-style launch abort system (LAS).
SpaceX opted for the pusher because it saves weight over a pull-off tower and the shield needed to protect the capsule from the tower’s plume during an abort. Only 60% of the Dragon’s nominal 2,700-lb. fuel load would be required for an abort, raising the possibility of a propulsive landing after parachuting to dry land in the manner of Russia’s Soyuz vehicle. On a nominal flight, of course, all of the fuel could be used for maneuvering in orbit. While the LAS is the “pacing item” in the company’s CCDev-2 proposal, it is also beginning to work out the crew accommodation that would be required for the ISS missions.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: telomerase99 on 03/19/2011 04:37 am
Link please?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jorge on 03/19/2011 05:39 am
Link please?

http://www.aviationweek.com/publication/awst/loggedin/AvnowStoryDisplay.do?fromChannel=awst&pubKey=awst&channel=awst&issueDate=2011-03-21&story=xml/awst_xml/2011/03/21/AW_03_21_2011_p18-296187-01.xml&headline=SpaceX+Moving+Into+Crew+Capability+With+Dragon

(subscription required)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/19/2011 08:57 pm
Most of the story here (no subscription):
http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=28072

or entering via google (near bottom of first page/second page):
http://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=SpaceX+Moving+Into+Crew+Capability+With+Dragon&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: butters on 03/19/2011 09:09 pm
Interesting that they've now started spinning tank domes in-house.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/19/2011 09:36 pm
Sorta.  Heritage suppliers have heritage cost structures, so it doesn't surprise me that SpaceX would try to bring it in house to have more cost control.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nomadd on 03/20/2011 02:32 pm
 I hadn't heard the Merlin upgrades might go that high.

  "Gwynne Shotwell, president of the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch provider, says the modified engines will generate 125,000-135,000 lb. thrust"
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: zaitcev on 03/20/2011 07:37 pm
While I'm glad there is a useful growth head in basic designs, I'm concerned that everything they do requires upgrades. Seems like a recipe for endless R&D spending spree without operations volume to back it up. If they started ramping Merlins up after launching 8 F-9s, it would seem more comfortable.

P.S. I'm also afraid that an endless procession of one-off rockets, each a little different, cannot be good for expected reliability and insurance premiums.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/20/2011 07:42 pm
While I'm glad there is a useful growth head in basic designs, I'm concerned that everything they do requires upgrades. Seems like a recipe for endless R&D spending spree without operations volume to back it up. If they started ramping Merlins up after launching 8 F-9s, it would seem more comfortable.

P.S. I'm also afraid that an endless procession of one-off rockets, each a little different, cannot be good for expected reliability and insurance premiums.
The issue is that the current Falcon 9 (i.e. block 1) is on the edge of a large market for geosynchronous satellites. A small increase in performance can make a relatively large difference for how many customers SpaceX can serve.

They've been planning this upgrade for years. It's not a surprise.

EDIT: I agree that SpaceX really needs to transition into operations mode.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/20/2011 08:01 pm
Don't forget that the Merlin 1C was not only an underperformer, it also had some important critical external suppliers (namely, the turbopump). So to actually get in full operation modes, they need a fully inhouse engine.
Besides, they are a new, fully integrated company. It's very close to how you devleop a website nowadays. You make a specification, write the site, test it, if it passes it goes into limited production. There, a lot of new issues will appear. You correct those, put it again in limited production. And keep iterating. I think the Falcon is in the limited production. They seem to be having a two launch per year rate. This seems a good rate to reach block II. Apparently they expect to reach that point by the end of 2012 or first half of 2013. So I would expect them to qualify Merlin 1D by this year's end. If they don't then we should wait for 2014 for block II.
In any case, the ISS contract will allow them to do incremental upgrades and have a steady cashflow for the next four or five years. So I expect them to have block II eventually. The question is when.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/20/2011 08:05 pm
EDIT: I agree that SpaceX really needs to transition into operations mode.

The good thing is that since they are assuming at this point that COTS 2 & 3 are being combined, the Dragon/Falcon mission in a few months will likely be 95% the same vehicle/payload that flies for the next 2-3 years.

If that doesn't streamline production, SpaceX is in big trouble.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/20/2011 08:58 pm
While I'm glad there is a useful growth head in basic designs, I'm concerned that everything they do requires upgrades. Seems like a recipe for endless R&D spending spree without operations volume to back it up. If they started ramping Merlins up after launching 8 F-9s, it would seem more comfortable.

P.S. I'm also afraid that an endless procession of one-off rockets, each a little different, cannot be good for expected reliability and insurance premiums.
The issue is that the current Falcon 9 (i.e. block 1) is on the edge of a large market for geosynchronous satellites. A small increase in performance can make a relatively large difference for how many customers SpaceX can serve.

They've been planning this upgrade for years. It's not a surprise.

EDIT: I agree that SpaceX really needs to transition into operations mode.

And to the fact that in the early days of rocketry, lessons learned get incorporated into the next vehicle's design. If the improvement is substantial enough, perhaps SpaceX is finding it more desirable (and/or cost effective) to go with the newer design.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/20/2011 09:31 pm
Don't forget that the Merlin 1C was not only an underperformer, it also had some important critical external suppliers (namely, the turbopump). So to actually get in full operation modes, they need a fully inhouse engine.

I'm not sure I get this point.

Why do they need to move turbopump prodution away from a mature and experienced producer to their own internal "start-up" to become "operational"? Save money, OK. Guaranteed to be just as reliable? Well, how many 1D flights do they need before they've proved that?

ISTM more likely they're expecting to reduce costs that way, while expecting they'll instantly ramp up to the reliability of that mature supplier.

I have no industry experience, so I hesitate to put this thought out there, but SpaceX really seem to be trying to remove a layer of mystique from the supply of space-worthy components. "You wanna overcharge us? That's OK, we'll just reproduce it in-house instead, then." (Ref Elon's comments in recent links to videos).

ISTM this is a risky strategy. With truly excellent engineers they can produce great components. But isn't there something in the experience of those suppliers that is hard-won, and ignored at SpaceX's peril?

Can SpaceX really bypass supplier expertise while still matching industry failure rates? If they never fly exactly the same vehicle twice, it makes me especially concerned on that front.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/20/2011 09:35 pm
EDIT: I agree that SpaceX really needs to transition into operations mode.

Hell, yeah.

NB this was part of response to:-

While I'm glad there is a useful growth head in basic designs, I'm concerned that everything they do requires upgrades. Seems like a recipe for endless R&D spending spree without operations volume to back it up. If they started ramping Merlins up after launching 8 F-9s, it would seem more comfortable.

P.S. I'm also afraid that an endless procession of one-off rockets, each a little different, cannot be good for expected reliability and insurance premiums.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/20/2011 09:43 pm
Why do they need to move turbopump prodution away from a mature and experienced producer to their own internal "start-up" to become "operational"? Save money, OK. Guaranteed to be just as reliable? Well, how many 1D flights do they need before they've proved that?
I don't really know, but I can speculate. The turbopumps have to supply enough extra fuel to achieve the increase in thrust. That would need upgraded turbopumps. To upgrade is to actually do a new turbopump. I don't know if the wholly designed it inhouse or licensed the BN one and then improved on that. But they still needed new ones. Don't forget that they already do a whole lot of inhouse production.
The truth is that high quality production is not that difficult to do. It's expensive and requires a very strict QA. In particular, you have to be very picky about the suppliers. Some times, might be even cheaper to do it yourself than to do all the necessary controls to your supplier.
In SpaceX case, they already have a world class factory and QA team. So adding a new piece might not be such a problem. And it helps them streamline their cashflow. They already have to pay for the machines, tooling, machinists and quality engineers. Once you have the design and specifications, you just need a good materials supplier (that they already must have) and the quality control equipment for such materials (which most probably already have).
So it's just an extra set of pieces to machine, control, assemble and test.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Halidon on 03/20/2011 10:56 pm
Just re-posting Nut's post from earlier in case it was buried before people could look at it:
How about a little history of the Merlin engine and its evolution.

First is the Merlin 1a, an all-ablative (that includes the combustion chamber, throat and nozzle), gas generator turbopump fed hydrocarbon engine with a pintle injector. It flew twice, failing on its first flight (F1 f1) due to a fuel leak and subsequent fire. The next flight (F1 f2) it performed nominally and was then retired. SpaceX had planned to add a higher performance turbopump, increasing overall thrust, for use on Falcon 9 launches. This is the Merlin 1b, but before it was ever used, SpaceX decided ablative was too much of a hassle, and switched to a regenerativley-cooled design. This is the Merlin 1c. It has a channel wall cooled combustion chamber and throat, and a tube wall cooled nozzle. It first flew on F1 f3, and was de-tuned to provide the same thrust  as a Merlin 1a (so as not require a redesign of the Falcon 1) and even though it performed nominally (and 19 Merlin1c since), the failure to account for the residual thrust inherent to its design doomed this mission as well. This new regen configuration allows for a higher chamber pressure (and therefore more thrust) but its early generation turbopump, manufactured by Barber-Nichols, under performs for this task.

Ever since the switch to regen, SpaceX's publicly announced plan was to eventually replace this tubopump with one optimized for the-now-regen cooled design, and to increase the diameters of propellant feedlines accordingly (but AFAIK no changes to tank sizes). They reffered to this as BLOCK II. BLOCK II is Merlin 1d, they only recently starting calling it such.

Now that there is some evidence that SpaceX has decided to bring turbopump design and production in-house, and that Max Vozhoff has stated that Merlin 1d will have "a lower part count" (read: simpler, optimized) perhaps this explains their decision to rename the Merlin 1c BLOCK II as Merlin 1d.

To add to the confusion, we have Falcon9 BLOCK II. To over simplify: Falcon9 + Merlin 1d = Falcon9 BLOCK II (again, AFAIK, no tank stretch)

And that is why Merlin 1d and Falcon 9 BLOCK II are the "low hanging fruit" on the SpaceX family tree, NOT Falcon 1e. Falcon 1e = Merlin 1d + new first stage + new fairing + needs better launch site.

Once SpaceX gets Falcon 9 BLOCK II, then they are that much closer to Falcon Heavy common core. That leaves the launch site, Vandenberg. Build it for Falcon Heavy but make it backward-compatible for Falcon 9 and even Falcon 1e, and then decide if the time is right to put F1e on the front burner again.

Anyone thinking "Falcon 1e is dead" or "Merlin 2 is alive" is staring at the tea leaves too hard...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/20/2011 11:02 pm
There was a discussion by someone from SpaceX that stated that a pintle injector and an ablatively cooled chamber was a bad combination. Basically, the pintle injector creates a ring of high temperature that would need a lot more material to be ablatively cooled. It's easier to use a regen chamber. And once you go regen, it's easier go the whole way.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/21/2011 12:44 am
...
The truth is that high quality production is not that difficult to do. It's expensive and requires a very strict QA. In particular, you have to be very picky about the suppliers. Some times, might be even cheaper to do it yourself than to do all the necessary controls to your supplier.
...
Not just cheaper, but sometimes faster, too, when it's a new design. From my experience architecting and integrating high-end embedded servers, if you have relatively strict requirements, it can be a real pain making sure your supplier integrates the product properly, with just the right components, etc. Especially with an upgraded product, you may know your requirements much more than your supplier does because you have the whole picture while your supplier doesn't. Thus, it may take a few tweaks to get it right. Usually, my company has our supplier integrate our servers, but actually we often have to reintegrate it ourselves, anyways, since we have stricter quality control and have to double-check all that they do.

I'd imagine that in the case of a rocket engine, vertical integration with the engine components makes a lot of sense, since the requirements are very inter-related. When you discover your supplier did something you didn't anticipate, it can be a real pain to have them drop-ship a replacement. With vertical integration, you can have a lot lower "latency" between the design and production sides... You don't have to wait for one to ship the product to the other, you can possibly go through multiple iterations in a day (depending on the complexity of the piece). If there's a mistake, you can correct it immediately.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: telomerase99 on 03/21/2011 02:12 am
Amen to that. A lot of the trouble with LM and Orion was that Ares kept downgrading its performance. if LM had been doing Orion and Ares then they maybe could have mitigated the impact of such tweaks or atleast had more information up front about the limitations of the stick design.

The nice thing about a vertically integrated rocket designer is that the information you have about each piece of technology is better understood and there should be less bluffing about capability between departments under a single roof no?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mlorrey on 03/21/2011 02:29 am
Amen to that. A lot of the trouble with LM and Orion was that Ares kept downgrading its performance. if LM had been doing Orion and Ares then they maybe could have mitigated the impact of such tweaks or atleast had more information up front about the limitations of the stick design.

The nice thing about a vertically integrated rocket designer is that the information you have about each piece of technology is better understood and there should be less bluffing about capability between departments under a single roof no?

Well yes, you dont have sales people in between departments. However I do appreciate the concern by others at SpaceX aspiring to produce turbopumps to the same quality and reliability as a company thats been in the business for a long time, without a lengthy development period. That said, this is machinery, fluid dynamics, thermal dynamics and mechanical engineering, its not wizardry.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/21/2011 03:51 am
P.S. I'm also afraid that an endless procession of one-off rockets, each a little different, cannot be good for expected reliability and insurance premiums.

Ding ding.

EDIT: I agree that SpaceX really needs to transition into operations mode.
The good thing is that since they are assuming at this point that COTS 2 & 3 are being combined, the Dragon/Falcon mission in a few months will likely be 95% the same vehicle/payload that flies for the next 2-3 years.

If that doesn't streamline production, SpaceX is in big trouble.

And what proof is there to expect it will be 95% the same?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/21/2011 04:57 am
No surprise here. Your first few are always *unique*. Where I'd be scared is if successive contract missions aren't largely the same.

If they aren't, you can't accumulate meaningful flight history - it becomes meaningless.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: beancounter on 03/21/2011 06:26 am
No surprise here. Your first few are always *unique*. Where I'd be scared is if successive contract missions aren't largely the same.

If they aren't, you can't accumulate meaningful flight history - it becomes meaningless.

I think it all boils down to being a matter of degree. 

The Merlin engine currently has a pretty well defined upgrade path and flight history will be quickly built up on it since each flight requires 9 engines plus the intial test firings.  So first stage changes are all about engine upgrades to the best of my knowledge.  No vehicle changes have been mentioned.  2nd stage remains as is - no changes identified there, are there?

Dragon Cargo is a bit unknown but I would think that NASA would be pretty unhappy if the vehicle that flys Demo 3 isn't pretty much complete and that design and specification used as is for the duration of the CRS contract.  Isn't that what the COTS program is about, certifying a vehicle to transfer cargo to and from the ISS?  The CRS contract, as far as I know, is not a development contract but an operational one.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/21/2011 08:13 am
Ever since the switch to regen, SpaceX's publicly announced plan was to eventually replace this tubopump with one optimized for the-now-regen cooled design, and to increase the diameters of propellant feedlines accordingly (but AFAIK no changes to tank sizes). They reffered to this as BLOCK II. BLOCK II is Merlin 1d, they only recently starting calling it such.

Now that there is some evidence that SpaceX has decided to bring turbopump design and production in-house, and that Max Vozhoff has stated that Merlin 1d will have "a lower part count" (read: simpler, optimized) perhaps this explains their decision to rename the Merlin 1c BLOCK II as Merlin 1d.

Actually, this suggests that 1D is a new project to simplify the engine, and that it also includes the turbo-pump upgrades previously planned for block II.

It looks like they've dropped their previous plan to put an upgraded pump into essentially the same engine, which was "1C block II" (same "complex" design, just upgraded). I think it's useful to recognise this as a separate configuration that fell by the wayside in the same way that Falcon 5 did.

I do wonder if we'll ever see an F9 flight carrying 8x1C + 1x1D, and whether that would actually deliver any useful information, or really be any less risk than jumping straight to F9 block II.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/21/2011 08:14 am
So first stage changes are all about engine upgrades to the best of my knowledge.  No vehicle changes have been mentioned.  2nd stage remains as is - no changes identified there, are there?

F9 User Guide mentions a weight reduction campaign as one of the things to be done in Block 1 -> Block 2 transition.

Oh, and, wasn't Merlin 1d sea level thrust targeted to be 125 klbf for years already - as per F9 page?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/21/2011 02:37 pm
Oh, and, wasn't Merlin 1d sea level thrust targeted to be 125 klbf for years already - as per F9 page?

And now, according to the AvWeek article, Shotwell is predicting 125,000-135,000 lbs performance for the M1d. Sounds like it will come in with at least 125,000, if not more.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/21/2011 02:39 pm
Yeah, that's what I was asking about. Seemed like non-news, really that it would be 125+ klbf.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/21/2011 02:58 pm
I was thinking, 600kN vs current 423kN is is almost 42% extra thrust. What would be the performance of a 7 Merlin 1D Falcon? Or just taking the center engine, that would give you almost the expected thrust of the 556kN nominal Merlin with just eight engines.
I don't think they can lengthen the first stage much. Much less widen it (because of transport issues). So what do you do with the extra trust? I mean, you could climb faster, but that would change the payload environment, the loads on the structure and the staging altitude, right? If so, just putting the new engines would mean a new completely different ride than the COTS 1. Would that invalidate some of the data?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: LegendCJS on 03/21/2011 03:03 pm
No surprise here. Your first few are always *unique*. Where I'd be scared is if successive contract missions aren't largely the same.

If they aren't, you can't accumulate meaningful flight history - it becomes meaningless.

Given their stated goal to keep tweaking everything until they can recover an intact first stage, does it really surprise you that they are very open to tweaks and changes in other aspects of the rocket? I wouldn't expect them to think that development mode is over for the F9 until they can fly a recovered first stage. 

I guess its a question of how similar one flight needs to be to the next to "accumulate a meaningful flight history."  The desire to have such a flight history legacy can cause a pressure to freeze their designs/ vehicle configurations, but I don't think SpaceX will feel that pressure if even the small modifications flight to flight for stage recovery reasons invalidate that flight history accumulation profile.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: starsilk on 03/21/2011 03:08 pm
does it seem likely that there will be a new Merlin-1D based Merlin-Vacuum engine? or will they stick with the existing design?

I'd guess there would be pressure to move to a new engine, otherwise they will have to keep building more complex (and presumably more expensive), 1C based MVacs.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/21/2011 03:19 pm
I was thinking, 600kN vs current 423kN is is almost 42% extra thrust. What would be the performance of a 7 Merlin 1D Falcon? Or just taking the center engine, that would give you almost the expected thrust of the 556kN nominal Merlin with just eight engines.
I don't think they can lengthen the first stage much. Much less widen it (because of transport issues). So what do you do with the extra trust? ...
I'm thinking this is how they get a usable, credible engine-out capability.

But why couldn't they stretch the first stage?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/21/2011 03:26 pm
But why couldn't they stretch the first stage?

The VTS3 support structure seems to be sized for current tank height, as is the Cape hangar. Lengthening the stage more could provide road transportation problems as well.

I did a BOTE calculation based on the rough volume of the current stage and RP-1/LOX typical densities. I got about 270 t of propellant load with I'd guess lower than 10% uncertainty. That would mean the tank is already maxed out in propellant load.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/21/2011 03:42 pm
But why couldn't they stretch the first stage?

The VTS3 support structure seems to be sized for current tank height, as is the Cape hangar. Lengthening the stage more could provide road transportation problems as well.

I did a BOTE calculation based on the rough volume of the current stage and RP-1/LOX typical densities. I got about 270 t of propellant load with I'd guess lower than 10% uncertainty. That would mean the tank is already maxed out in propellant load.
Ah, I see. Still, I don't see why they couldn't make another one. Lengthening the hanger by a few feet and extending the support structure seems like it'd be far less expensive than some of SpaceX's other projects.

Even so, with more thrust, they get lower gravity losses.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/21/2011 05:09 pm
I'm thinking this is how they get a usable, credible engine-out capability.
Unless the Merlin 1D is throttlable, they can't have engine out capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/21/2011 05:23 pm
I'm thinking this is how they get a usable, credible engine-out capability.
Unless the Merlin 1D is throttlable, they can't have engine out capability.
How's that?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/21/2011 05:36 pm
Well, you'd have to turn off the one on the opposite side. And then you'd be with current falcon thrust.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/21/2011 05:40 pm
Well, you'd have to turn off the one on the opposite side.

You wouldn't. http://www.launchphotography.com/ASTRA_1KR.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/21/2011 05:52 pm
Well, you'd have to turn off the one on the opposite side. And then you'd be with current falcon thrust.

No, since all engines use propellant from one set of tanks, gimballing will be enough. All 9 engines gimbal.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nooneofconsequence on 03/21/2011 09:17 pm
No surprise here. Your first few are always *unique*. Where I'd be scared is if successive contract missions aren't largely the same.

If they aren't, you can't accumulate meaningful flight history - it becomes meaningless.

Given their stated goal to keep tweaking everything until they can recover an intact first stage, does it really surprise you that they are very open to tweaks and changes in other aspects of the rocket? I wouldn't expect them to think that development mode is over for the F9 until they can fly a recovered first stage. 

I guess its a question of how similar one flight needs to be to the next to "accumulate a meaningful flight history."  The desire to have such a flight history legacy can cause a pressure to freeze their designs/ vehicle configurations, but I don't think SpaceX will feel that pressure if even the small modifications flight to flight for stage recovery reasons invalidate that flight history accumulation profile.
"largely the same" ==
    engine
    tanks
    thrust structure
    ...

"accumulate a meaningful flight history." ==
   like things that can be compared in like ways/use pattern
   without consequential changed subsystems (eg. turbopump /actuators ..)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jongoff on 03/21/2011 09:46 pm
There was a discussion by someone from SpaceX that stated that a pintle injector and an ablatively cooled chamber was a bad combination. Basically, the pintle injector creates a ring of high temperature that would need a lot more material to be ablatively cooled. It's easier to use a regen chamber. And once you go regen, it's easier go the whole way.

Actually, I think that was me, not someone from SpaceX.  I was just basing it on things I had observed doing smaller regen pintle engines for Masten. The post is on Selenian Boondocks somewhere.

http://selenianboondocks.com/2006/01/some-spacex-commentary/

~Jon
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: HMXHMX on 03/21/2011 10:26 pm
There was a discussion by someone from SpaceX that stated that a pintle injector and an ablatively cooled chamber was a bad combination. Basically, the pintle injector creates a ring of high temperature that would need a lot more material to be ablatively cooled. It's easier to use a regen chamber. And once you go regen, it's easier go the whole way.

Actually, I think that was me, not someone from SpaceX.  I was just basing it on things I had observed doing smaller regen pintle engines for Masten. The post is on Selenian Boondocks somewhere.

http://selenianboondocks.com/2006/01/some-spacex-commentary/

~Jon

It's also a function of Pc, pintle design, burn time and ablative material used.  Higher Pc engines are worse, as a rule. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jongoff on 03/21/2011 11:01 pm
There was a discussion by someone from SpaceX that stated that a pintle injector and an ablatively cooled chamber was a bad combination. Basically, the pintle injector creates a ring of high temperature that would need a lot more material to be ablatively cooled. It's easier to use a regen chamber. And once you go regen, it's easier go the whole way.

Actually, I think that was me, not someone from SpaceX.  I was just basing it on things I had observed doing smaller regen pintle engines for Masten. The post is on Selenian Boondocks somewhere.

http://selenianboondocks.com/2006/01/some-spacex-commentary/

~Jon

It's also a function of Pc, pintle design, burn time and ablative material used.  Higher Pc engines are worse, as a rule. 

Yeah, I think I hit on those in the SB post. Most of the pintle + ablative engines that have worked in the past were low-pressure, pressure-fed engines, not high-pressure pump-fed engines.

~Jon
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/22/2011 03:30 am
Quote
So first stage changes are all about engine upgrades to the best of my knowledge.  No vehicle changes have been mentioned.  2nd stage remains as is - no changes identified there, are there?

I find it extremely weird that the blogosphere thinks they would hear about changes if they were happening.  Also, there are a lot of other potential things that can change on a rocket or spacecraft besides some macroscale, visible thing that enhances performance.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: beancounter on 03/22/2011 03:51 am
Quote
So first stage changes are all about engine upgrades to the best of my knowledge.  No vehicle changes have been mentioned.  2nd stage remains as is - no changes identified there, are there?

I find it extremely weird that the blogosphere thinks they would hear about changes if they were happening.  Also, there are a lot of other potential things that can change on a rocket or spacecraft besides some macroscale, visible thing that enhances performance.

Yeah point taken.  Performance enhancement doesn't necessarily have to be in terms of velocity or payload and wouldn't necessarily be visible to outward appearances.  Still I think a different paint job would go a long way.  White is so 'yesterday'  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mlorrey on 03/22/2011 06:44 am
Quote
So first stage changes are all about engine upgrades to the best of my knowledge.  No vehicle changes have been mentioned.  2nd stage remains as is - no changes identified there, are there?

I find it extremely weird that the blogosphere thinks they would hear about changes if they were happening.  Also, there are a lot of other potential things that can change on a rocket or spacecraft besides some macroscale, visible thing that enhances performance.

Yeah point taken.  Performance enhancement doesn't necessarily have to be in terms of velocity or payload and wouldn't necessarily be visible to outward appearances.  Still I think a different paint job would go a long way.  White is so 'yesterday'  :)

Orange is for foam covered hydrolox stages built on cost-plus contracts, I personally prefer black, both for sexiness and to denote profitability.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/22/2011 03:20 pm
Structures and cryos like white.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/22/2011 03:32 pm
Structures and cryos like white.

Ok, I have to ask, why white?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/22/2011 03:34 pm
For cryos? Thermal considerations - tank skin gets less hot in the sun.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/22/2011 09:29 pm
Looks like the 90 second firing might happen today.

http://twitter.com/KCENNews/status/50310246551404544
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/22/2011 09:36 pm
NET 6pm Texas time.

Hope someone's got their cams set up ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:03 pm
I'm not sure if I caught the test or not
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:14 pm
Is there a video of the test?  I don't see anything on the SpaceX website.  Where did you get that picture from?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:17 pm
Is there a video of the test?  I don't see anything on the SpaceX website.

Yup. SpaceX live feed. Not sure where else to get it. This is from an L2 source.

There's still LOX venting, and the caption of "Data Review in Progress", so I'm not sure if they are waiting to go, or just finishing up.

I think that since there's still a live feed, it hasn't lit yet.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/22/2011 11:34 pm
Is there a video of the test?  I don't see anything on the SpaceX website.

Yup. SpaceX live feed. Not sure where else to get it. This is from an L2 source.

There's still LOX venting, and the caption of "Data Review in Progress", so I'm not sure if they are waiting to go, or just finishing up.

I think that since there's still a live feed, it hasn't lit yet.

I don't see any links on L2 to this webcast.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:35 pm
I'm an L2 member, and I can't find it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:38 pm
Is there a video of the test?  I don't see anything on the SpaceX website.

Yup. SpaceX live feed. Not sure where else to get it. This is from an L2 source.

There's still LOX venting, and the caption of "Data Review in Progress", so I'm not sure if they are waiting to go, or just finishing up.

I think that since there's still a live feed, it hasn't lit yet.

I don't see any links on L2 to this webcast.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=22998.0

'other streams'
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:45 pm
OK, got it.  Thanks!

It says "Data Review in Progress", so I guess that means it's over?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:48 pm
OK, got it.  Thanks!

It says "Data Review in Progress", so I guess that means it's over?

Like I said previously, this has been going on for some time now. Normally a webcast ends when the 'goods are delivered'. Plus it's still venting LOX, so I would say it hasn't started, they are waiting to proceed.

EDIT to add: plus it's dark out there now, so that might be to present a bit of 'wow' factor  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:48 pm
The only audio I hear is clicks.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:49 pm
The only audio I hear is clicks.

Yup. Same here. Waiting for a call from PAO (or someone) for a countdown
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/22/2011 11:50 pm
Hmmm,...large amount of venting in progress at the base. May not be a good sign.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:51 pm
I'm looking around at some of the other video options on the page.  That is quite a selection.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/22/2011 11:55 pm
Chris, You do not charge enough for L2.

Yes I am a capitalist and L2 is priceless.  Thank you so much!

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/22/2011 11:56 pm
It's getting pretty dark.  They could spring for a couple of floodlights.   ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 03/22/2011 11:57 pm
9 floodlights in fact :)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/23/2011 12:14 am
Chris, You do not charge enough for L2.

Yes I am a capitalist and L2 is priceless.  Thank you so much!

VR
RE327

I agree that L2 is great. But you realize that we are starring at a black screen right now (with a SpaceX logo)...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/23/2011 12:19 am
Chris, You do not charge enough for L2.

Yes I am a capitalist and L2 is priceless.  Thank you so much!

VR
RE327

I agree that L2 is great. But you realize that we are starring at a black screen right now (with a SpaceX logo)...

Still some detail there  ;)
(and it's still a live feed)

But we're hardended space nuts. We don't let hours of clicks and pops on the audio feed, without a single PAO word, get us down.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Longhorn John on 03/23/2011 12:25 am
I'm looking around at some of the other video options on the page.  That is quite a selection.

Oh you are on the L2 "MCC" program. Yeah, it's amazing, multiscreen, multifeed, multiprogram all on one page, genius :)

Although it doesn't come with a team of people able to deploy to Texas with floodlights like YG wants :D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/23/2011 12:27 am
Quote from: robertross
But we're hardended space nuts. We don't let hours of clicks and pops on the audio feed, without a single PAO word, get us down.

Got that right.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/23/2011 12:48 am
So what is it with all those clicks, anyway?  Are they communicating by Morse code?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/23/2011 12:49 am
So what is it with all those clicks, anyway?  Are they communicating by Morse code?

Just static & stuff. Gremlins. Floydisms  :)

Actually, was just going to post that three times lately I've heard what could be described as a 'venting' sound. Not sure what it is, but the first I've heard it since I've been following. Maybe we're getting close? Hope so.

EDIT to add: actually it's probably the 'broken record' of SpaceX webcasts of old where we hear no PAO updates or anything. HAHA
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/23/2011 12:50 am
Have any previous static firings been done in the dark?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/23/2011 12:51 am
Have any previous static firings been done in the dark?

Sure, lots. Not sure about ones for SpaceX though.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: yg1968 on 03/23/2011 01:00 am
So what is it with all those clicks, anyway?  Are they communicating by Morse code?

Just static & stuff. Gremlins. Floydisms  :)

Actually, was just going to post that three times lately I've heard what could be described as a 'venting' sound. Not sure what it is, but the first I've heard it since I've been following. Maybe we're getting close? Hope so.

EDIT to add: actually it's probably the 'broken record' of SpaceX webcasts of old where we hear no PAO updates or anything. HAHA

It sounded like a car passing by to my untrained ear. But I doubt that it's actually a car.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/23/2011 01:00 am
So what is it with all those clicks, anyway?  Are they communicating by Morse code?
Actually, was just going to post that three times lately I've heard what could be described as a 'venting' sound.

Yes, I've heard that too.  I was roaming around elsewhere on the internet, and each time I heard that I suddenly went back and enlarged the video to full screen.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ronsmytheiii on 03/23/2011 01:13 am
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/23/2011 01:43 am
I seriously doubt a test tonight... They once did a test late at night with F9-001 and scare the crap out of the town.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9n6rYoSGNQ&feature=related

With it being almost 10pm it is probably scrubbed until tomorrow.

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/23/2011 01:44 am
Yeah, you're probably correct. I'm calling it a night.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/23/2011 10:48 pm
Anybody hear anything about a rescheduling of this test?

I'm guessing "no", or else someone would have mentioned it by now.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/24/2011 02:10 pm
Falcon XX?  "RAC-2 included SpaceX’s Falcon XX – a huge vehicle powered by six Merlin 2 engines – in the trades." -nasaspaceflight.com

Clearly, This was no fantasy vehicle if it was included in serious studies. 

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/24/2011 02:23 pm
Clearly, This was no fantasy vehicle if it was included in serious studies. 

Well, I wouldn't go that far.  What I would say is that getting Falcon-1 and Falcon-9 flying marks SpaceX as at least knowing their rocket equations.  So, their detailed plans might be worth a look at, if only because it might shoot NASA a clue or two.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apace on 03/24/2011 02:30 pm
Clearly, This was no fantasy vehicle if it was included in serious studies. 

Well, I wouldn't go that far.  What I would say is that getting Falcon-1 and Falcon-9 flying marks SpaceX as at least knowing their rocket equations.  So, their detailed plans might be worth a look at, if only because it might shoot NASA a clue or two.

Don't forget that the RAC teams also should have the trade studies from SpaceX and other companies about the future HLV.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/24/2011 02:32 pm

Clearly, This was no fantasy vehicle if it was included in serious studies. 



And all seventy five Saturn derivatives as documented on http://www.astronautix.com/fam/saturn.htm ?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/24/2011 02:33 pm
Yes, some reality checks are in order around here.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/24/2011 02:34 pm
Falcon XX was put on the table for consideration. That means that NASA at least considers the rocket a real possibility. That goes alot farther than Spacex who said the Falcon XX was a hypothetical diagram dreamed up by a rogue engineer.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 03/24/2011 04:16 pm
I think we can all agree that Falcon XX has as good a chance of flying as a brought-out-of-retirement Saturn V.

Speaking of bursting bubbles, I was a bit put off by this (http://twitter.com/#!/SpaceXer/status/48034803873890304) SpaceX tweet the other day in response to the Soyuz deal as I can't figure out what reality that cost basis happens.

Assuming commercial crew happens, and SpaceX gets, say twelve missions over the extended life of the station, and the average rotation is three astronauts, that's thirty-six 'seats'. If we put the development of the manned F9/Dragon at a billion, and give SpaceX a rather aggressive mission cost average of $180 million in 2011 dollars, that comes out to around $87 million a seat which is, ahem, above $63 million, much less $21 million. Am I missing anything?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 03/24/2011 04:24 pm
Ugh... I am *NOT* a fan of Falcon XX. I'd much rather have the Falcon X and it's heavy variant. Far more economical.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/24/2011 04:36 pm
Ugh... I am *NOT* a fan of Falcon XX. I'd much rather have the Falcon X and it's heavy variant. Far more economical.

Only if payloads exist for the Falcon X, and Falcon XX payloads are rare. If all payloads are Falcon XX sized payloads and no Falcon X sized payload exist, Falcon X Heavy is not worth the added expense.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: notherspacexfan on 03/24/2011 04:40 pm
Assuming commercial crew happens, and SpaceX gets, say twelve missions over the extended life of the station, and the average rotation is three astronauts, that's thirty-six 'seats'. If we put the development of the manned F9/Dragon at a billion, and give SpaceX a rather aggressive mission cost average of $180 million in 2011 dollars, that comes out to around $87 million a seat which is, ahem, above $63 million, much less $21 million. Am I missing anything?

SpaceX has stated that the $20 million number is based on filling all 7 seats and flying 4 flights a year. Both are unreasonable assumptions for ISS crew rotation, even if SpaceX was the only comercial crew provider (not going to happen).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/24/2011 04:50 pm
Assuming commercial crew happens, and SpaceX gets, say twelve missions over the extended life of the station, and the average rotation is three astronauts, that's thirty-six 'seats'.
The dragon can take 7 astronauts. If you leave one for a pilot (which I'm not sure it needs), that would put you at 72 "seats". So you should halve your numbers. But, currently the crew rotation of the US side is 3 (may be streachable to 4). So it's still an oversized vehicle for the ISS current configuration.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apace on 03/24/2011 04:56 pm
The 20M$ price point sounds more like a marketing bubble. If you look at the rotations (2x3 people/year) and at the other services which are included in the russian offer, at the end, SpaceX is not cheaper than flying with Soyuz.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rcoppola on 03/24/2011 05:08 pm
IMO, the real point is that we can send hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country in support of Russia's space program. Or we can spend that money on supporting our commercial sector. Any additional development costs in the short term would be funneled into building out our commercial launch sector, that will only increase it's competitiveness allowing it to acquire more launches from entities both domestic and outside the US, increasing the maturity of the sector and as it happens, increase jobs and therefore tax revenues in those participating states.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture and the longer term.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apace on 03/24/2011 05:10 pm
I think we need to look at the bigger picture and the longer term.

Agree, but don't sell Dragon as a cheaper system compared to Soyuz. Soyuz IS cheap.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: josh_simonson on 03/24/2011 06:43 pm
When the US gov't pays SpaceX for a service, about half that money comes back to the government within a few months in the form of income, payroll and sales taxes on the company and employees.  When the US gov't pays Russian companies for the same service, the Russian government gets the taxes.  Using a domestic provider is like shopping at a store that you own.

Tourists and private companies don't get a rebate on payments in the form of taxes, so to them the headline price tag is more important.  Of course if tourists and private companies choose SpaceX over India/China/Russia/EU launchers, then a hefty portion of what they pay will end up collected as tax revenue that would otherwise have gone overseas.  Most of their non-NASA manifest is in this category, and the US will reap dividends on these launches from their investment in SpaceX. 

Amortizing the development costs over only 12 ISS missions is also inappropriate because Falcon 9/Dragon will almost certainly used for additional launches in the near term and after ISS' planned retirement.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 03/24/2011 06:56 pm
When the US gov't pays SpaceX for a service, about half that money comes back to the government within a few months in the form of income, payroll and sales taxes on the company and employees.

Half? The federal budget deficit would like to disagree with you.

Amortizing the development costs over only 12 ISS missions is also inappropriate because Falcon 9/Dragon will almost certainly used for additional launches in the near term and after ISS' planned retirement.

The billion was specifically for the manned Dragon development/F9 config. One way or another, if the USG wants the capability it's going to be paying for it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/24/2011 07:28 pm
IMO, the real point is that we can send hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country in support of Russia's space program. Or we can spend that money on supporting our commercial sector. Any additional development costs in the short term would be funneled into building out our commercial launch sector, that will only increase it's competitiveness allowing it to acquire more launches from entities both domestic and outside the US, increasing the maturity of the sector and as it happens, increase jobs and therefore tax revenues in those participating states.

I think we need to look at the bigger picture and the longer term.

We already have Lockheed and Boeing to play this game. Why do we need to support yet another vendor ?

Commerical isn't just about picking new vendors for the same services. There has to be a commerical market out there. Otherwise, just put an RFP out for bid and only select a single MFR. Paying for the same DDT&E more than once is crazy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: josh_simonson on 03/24/2011 08:07 pm
Lockheed/Boeing are not competitive on the international launch market.

>Half? The federal budget deficit would like to disagree with you.

Yes, about half, because most of the money that goes to SpaceX goes out as upper-middle-class wages, which are highly taxed.  12-15% FICA (including employers half), 10-25% federal income, ~9% state income (CA), ~9% state sales (CA)...   Just because you get a rebate on something doesn't mean that you can't run up a huge deficit buying lots of it, and lots of stuff the government spends money on isn't so highly taxed - many public servants are exempt from FICA for example, and land/material are taxed much less than labor.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 03/24/2011 08:25 pm
Mmm. Expanding military Keynesianism to aerospace.

One, you're mixing federal with state spending. Two, I understand the 'keeping it in the country' argument, but plausible BOTE calculations on federal labor force taxation over a ten year time period aren't going to hit $1.55 out of $3.1 billion dollars. Realistic range, even including payroll taxes is probably more like $350-$450 million. That's a long way from half. The reason to pay for commercial domestic suppliers isn't cost.

But that isn't even my main point, which is that it's simply disappointing to see SpaceX put out unrealistic cost figures through official channels based on fantasy scenarios that wouldn't actually apply. I find it amusing that some of the people who rail against the evils of cost-plus (even when it's irrelevant to actual circumstances), give SpaceX a pass for claiming to orbit any payload for just $99.99******** and pretend the fine print asterisks don't exist.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/24/2011 09:26 pm
Lockheed/Boeing are not competitive on the international launch market.


But there are still plenty of complaints when USA-funded Boeing is selling commerical jets in the same market as EU-funded AirBus.

Both companies are passed Billions of dollars in defense contracts, that help support the commerical side of the firm.

I suppose there aren't are share of those Billions of dollars that Lockheed receives from the defense department that helps them compete in the commerical market in their other lines of business. (Actually, if the commerical market isn't large enough, they probably consider it a waste of time and resources)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 03/24/2011 09:35 pm
I'm not holding my breath waiting for Falcon X or XX--I'd be thrilled just to see a manned Dragon--but I like SpaceX's modular approach to upgrading their rockets.  They're thinking ahead, and I like that.

One of the biggest knocks against the Shuttle is that it's not really upgradable.  You can't just stick on a couple more SRBs and fly it to Mars.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Calorspace on 03/24/2011 10:36 pm
So many people seem terrified by SpaceX.

I don't understand it at all, they are a breath of fresh air after having decades of companies who get rich from huge super bloated space programs that lead to nowhere, and now SpaceX have come along with an approach of "How affordable can we make this". F9 is a phenomenal achievement. I hope they keep going as they are and inspire other companies to do as they have done. Hopefully this decade the stagnation and rot that has existed for the last 20-30 years or so will be at an end.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/25/2011 04:41 am
Assuming commercial crew happens, and SpaceX gets, say twelve missions over the extended life of the station, and the average rotation is three astronauts, that's thirty-six 'seats'. If we put the development of the manned F9/Dragon at a billion, and give SpaceX a rather aggressive mission cost average of $180 million in 2011 dollars, that comes out to around $87 million a seat which is, ahem, above $63 million, much less $21 million. Am I missing anything?

SpaceX has stated that the $20 million number is based on filling all 7 seats and flying 4 flights a year. Both are unreasonable assumptions for ISS crew rotation, even if SpaceX was the only comercial crew provider (not going to happen).

So? Fill out the numbers.  $20M per seat at 4 flights of 7 seats is $560M.  If the only passengers were 2 flights of 3 passengers, that's $93.3M per seat, but you have two F9s and two Dragons unlaunched.

To date, no Soyuz seats have gone up empty, as far as I know.  How big that market is cannot be said.  However, it is not unreasonable to imagine two "spaceflight participants" on each of those two flights.  That leave a seat for the pilot and an empty one which can be traded for upmass.  Now its $56M per seat, minus the cost of the other two rockets and the cargo fare.

Scaling from the SpaceX CRS that cargo could be worth about $20M per flight.   ($1600M/12*1/7  Feel free to debate the 1/7, and the $1.6B) Now its down to $48M per seat.  That's a lot more than the current "spaceflight participant" cost of $35M, but less than $62.5 (and you don't have to learn Russian).  And you still have launched only two flights.   (Yes, the crew rescue craft is not yet covered in this scenario.)

Deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo with one of those other crewed Dragons, and the cost continues to drop.  Say two seats, with $60M of cargo, and the cost is down below $40M per seat.

Look, it's all numbers games.  None of the inputs are certain.  Costs will rise.  Soyuz seats costs are rising over 10% per year.  SpaceX will cost more.  But using the lowest possible number of seats is no more reasonable than using the maximum.  You may be correct that this market cannot support two entrants.  But eventually costing less than Soyuz  is not absurd.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/25/2011 03:42 pm
Assuming commercial crew happens, and SpaceX gets, say twelve missions over the extended life of the station, and the average rotation is three astronauts, that's thirty-six 'seats'. If we put the development of the manned F9/Dragon at a billion, and give SpaceX a rather aggressive mission cost average of $180 million in 2011 dollars, that comes out to around $87 million a seat which is, ahem, above $63 million, much less $21 million. Am I missing anything?

SpaceX has stated that the $20 million number is based on filling all 7 seats and flying 4 flights a year. Both are unreasonable assumptions for ISS crew rotation, even if SpaceX was the only comercial crew provider (not going to happen).

So? Fill out the numbers.  $20M per seat at 4 flights of 7 seats is $560M.  If the only passengers were 2 flights of 3 passengers, that's $93.3M per seat, but you have two F9s and two Dragons unlaunched.

To date, no Soyuz seats have gone up empty, as far as I know.  How big that market is cannot be said.  However, it is not unreasonable to imagine two "spaceflight participants" on each of those two flights.  That leave a seat for the pilot and an empty one which can be traded for upmass.  Now its $56M per seat, minus the cost of the other two rockets and the cargo fare.

Scaling from the SpaceX CRS that cargo could be worth about $20M per flight.   ($1600M/12*1/7  Feel free to debate the 1/7, and the $1.6B) Now its down to $48M per seat.  That's a lot more than the current "spaceflight participant" cost of $35M, but less than $62.5 (and you don't have to learn Russian).  And you still have launched only two flights.   (Yes, the crew rescue craft is not yet covered in this scenario.)

Deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo with one of those other crewed Dragons, and the cost continues to drop.  Say two seats, with $60M of cargo, and the cost is down below $40M per seat.

Look, it's all numbers games.  None of the inputs are certain.  Costs will rise.  Soyuz seats costs are rising over 10% per year.  SpaceX will cost more.  But using the lowest possible number of seats is no more reasonable than using the maximum.  You may be correct that this market cannot support two entrants.  But eventually costing less than Soyuz  is not absurd.

But I don't think the "spaceflight participant" on the Dragon would be able to enter the ISS. Not unless they pay NASA and Russia for the rights to visit their portions of the station. Tourists on the Soyuz were able to visit the Russian segments of the ISS. NASA really frowned on the whole space tourist thing.

How much can you charge a Billionaire, if they aren't allowed to get out of the Dragon capsule and take pictures ?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/25/2011 04:20 pm
But I don't think the "spaceflight participant" on the Dragon would be able to enter the ISS. Not unless they pay NASA and Russia for the rights to visit their portions of the station. Tourists on the Soyuz were able to visit the Russian segments of the ISS. NASA really frowned on the whole space tourist thing.

IIRC, previous space tourists merely had to sign a waiver and promise faithfully not to touch anything that looks like it might break if you do.  NASA doesn't like having 'spaceflight participants' on the ISS but, ultimately, can do very little about it when they're up there.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 03/25/2011 05:05 pm
But I don't think the "spaceflight participant" on the Dragon would be able to enter the ISS. Not unless they pay NASA and Russia for the rights to visit their portions of the station. Tourists on the Soyuz were able to visit the Russian segments of the ISS. NASA really frowned on the whole space tourist thing.

IIRC, previous space tourists merely had to sign a waiver and promise faithfully not to touch anything that looks like it might break if you do.  NASA doesn't like having 'spaceflight participants' on the ISS but, ultimately, can do very little about it when they're up there.

NASA can't control what the Russians do with their resources. At the time, it was an extra revenue stream that helped the Russians afford to maintain their space program.

I would assume NASA would have much greater control over who flies on flights that it is paying for.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Cherokee43v6 on 03/25/2011 05:19 pm
My thoughts are that if you're going to have 'tourists' on Dragon flights, these 'tourists' are likely to be researchers with programs running on the ISS who are either coming up to verify their experiments first-hand, running short-term experiments or to get first hand empircal data to assist in designing future experiments.

In this case, these 'non astronaut' crew would probably have their flight subsidized through some combination of NASA, NIS and/or corporate research grants.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 03/25/2011 05:49 pm
I thought the operations plan for a manned Dragon to ISS would involve a SpaceX astronaut crew, implying the time berthed at the station for a crew rotation would be pretty minimal.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Cherokee43v6 on 03/25/2011 06:13 pm
I haven't seen anything that really makes that clear yet, though Elon has made noises about the Dragon fulfilling the assured crew return (lifeboat) requirements.  I believe they have indicated that with the solar wings on the service trunk, the module has a 6-9 month on-orbit capability (though I can't remember where I saw that, it may be in this or another thread).

So a one or two week 'crew exchange/science surge' like has been done with the Shuttle, is surely within the planning 'realm of capability' for the craft.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: hop on 03/25/2011 06:22 pm
NASA doesn't like having 'spaceflight participants' on the ISS but, ultimately, can do very little about it when they're up there.
No, this was only because the 'spaceflight participants' are effectively Russian crew. NASA doesn't get to dictate Russian crew selection, but if they contract SpaceX for crew transport, they can set whatever conditions they want on that.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/25/2011 06:37 pm
Debate about Dragon capabilities is boring me to distraction, I hope we get an update on COTS 2 progress soon from Spacex. Please......
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/25/2011 06:43 pm
Did SpaceX tested the 90 seconds fires of the COTS 2 Falcon 9 at Texas? Because apparently they did the short test and never fired again. Might there be some trouble?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/25/2011 06:49 pm
From the looks of the responses on the test fire, it looks like we may have started to look for it too late in the broadcast. It may have happened, not sure. It's also possible that an anomoly happened and they had to stop the test. It's anyone's guess at this point.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/25/2011 06:54 pm
I don't think the 90 s test happened. Likely an aborted test for some reason. They seem to have difficulty completing a big test like those on the originally planned date. I'd assume all the additional instrumentation etc. just complicates things a lot.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/25/2011 08:38 pm
Debate about Dragon capabilities is boring me to distraction, I hope we get an update on COTS 2 progress soon from Spacex. Please......

That's why we have a thread for that topic, so you don't have to trudge around here being bored to distraction.  See you there.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/26/2011 11:58 am
Falcon XX was put on the table for consideration. That means that NASA at least considers the rocket a real possibility.

...or perhaps that the team were tasked with determining whether it should be considered "a real possibility".

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/26/2011 03:47 pm
I think when Mr. Musk said he could develop HLV for 2.5 Billion (Billion with a B) it was for the Falcon X and not the Falcon XX.

Just want to clear that up.

VR,
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/26/2011 04:56 pm
I think when Mr. Musk said he could develop HLV for 2.5 Billion (Billion with a B) it was for the Falcon X and not the Falcon XX.
 
I think you are correct. The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop. Although it is possible to use 9 Block I engines instead of the 6 Block II engines in the Falcon XX published configuration to get the same thrust level and overall performance. There is also a world of difference between a test stand for 4Mlbf Falcon X core stage and 11mlbf Falcon XX core stage, making jumping straight to building a Falcon XX much more expensive than just a Falcon X Heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/26/2011 05:12 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/26/2011 09:27 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/26/2011 10:38 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.

$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/26/2011 11:49 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.

$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.

As Jason points out; what the shuttle actually costs to fly and what NASA adds on top are two totally different prices.  USA wants to fly 2 missions a year for 1.5 billion.

I wonder if two Falcon XX cost 1.5 billion.  I will hazard a guess and say... nope.

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/27/2011 09:21 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.

$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.

As Jason points out; what the shuttle actually costs to fly and what NASA adds on top are two totally different prices.  USA wants to fly 2 missions a year for 1.5 billion.

I wonder if two Falcon XX cost 1.5 billion.  I will hazard a guess and say... nope.

Looking at pricing and costs from an economic viability standpoint:
1) The Falcon Heavy is priced at $95M so a Falcon X must compete with that price since they have close to the same Payload capability
2) Pricing the Falcon X at $110M to be competitive to the Falcon Heavy price puts the Merlin 2 Block I engines reoccurring costs at less than $20M each. A $50M price each if they cannot be reused is not economically viable and therefore not worth developing. A total average flight usage capability of 5 would be needed to meet the per flight engine costs with a unit production cost of $50M for a Merlin 2 engine.
3) A 2/3 price to payload capability rule for going from single core to triple core as applied to Falcon X would make the economic target price for Falcon X Heavy at ~$220M ( Note: this pricing rule has held true for several vehicle pricing, Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy being the most significant.)
4) For the Falcon XX to compete with the Falcon X Heavy price the price target of a Falcon XX would have to be ~$300M
So far the larger the vehicle (in modern boosters) the cheaper the price per kg rate to LEO meaning a Falcon X Heavy and Falcon XX would have to price out at less than $3000 per kg to LEO but probably closer to $2000 per kg to LEO making the price per launch of a Falcon X Heavy at ~$250M and a Falcon XX at ~$280M. If the price per kg goes up then it becomes cheaper to do assembly on orbit and use a smaller cheaper booster.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/27/2011 10:52 pm
$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.
I but the extra cost of the shuttle is in mission planning, payload, integration, testing, and whatever OV106 and Jim or others can tell you. A fixed price is only useful when you buy a whole service. I don't think NASA would save too much from the mission. Let's put the NLS as example. Nasa bought the launch service from ULA or Orbital, but the real cost of the mission was on the payload and such. I'm confident that SpaceX would be cheaper (for equal weight at a given orbit) than a NASA launcher. But I expect it to be somewhere like 10% to 30% on the launch cost of the mission, depending on flight rate. I'm assuming something like what you do in NLS, where NASA gives the payload for integration to ULA and let's them do their job until the second stage releases the payload. If NASA wants to do the integration, or worse, puts an army of supervisors changing processes and specifications all the time, you'd have exactly one SpaceX contract and would stop providing that service or increase the price to a cost plus multiplied by some cover their margins rate. Which would be a fixed price at a higher price than the cost-plus.
But the important part is that fixed price is a fraction of a mission. The JWST is expected to cost 6.5B or so. How much would the launch cost be? Let's say 400M (I would expect it to be around 250M, but let's cover us), that would be around a 6.3%. May be the example was extreme, but I don't think I'm mistaken if the launch cost of a nasa mission is under 35% most of the time. Specially for the payload sizes of a potential FX. A 10% to 40% cost reduction would be 3% to 13% of the total cost.
If an FX cost is 300M, that would mean it's used for missions over 1B. I seriously doubt NASA can launch more than a Flagship Mission each two or three years. I don't even see a New Frontiers using the FX. Unless they send a 30tn of fuel in the mission, it's too big to fit into a 700M program.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 03/27/2011 11:06 pm
Link please?

http://www.aviationweek.com/publication/awst/loggedin/AvnowStoryDisplay.do?fromChannel=awst&pubKey=awst&channel=awst&issueDate=2011-03-21&story=xml/awst_xml/2011/03/21/AW_03_21_2011_p18-296187-01.xml&headline=SpaceX+Moving+Into+Crew+Capability+With+Dragon (http://www.aviationweek.com/publication/awst/loggedin/AvnowStoryDisplay.do?fromChannel=awst&pubKey=awst&channel=awst&issueDate=2011-03-21&story=xml/awst_xml/2011/03/21/AW_03_21_2011_p18-296187-01.xml&headline=SpaceX+Moving+Into+Crew+Capability+With+Dragon)

(subscription required)

Actually, this article is quite disappointing, further demonstrating why print media is on the decline.  Most of the useful info has been discussed here long ago.  The image is from at least two and a half years ago, when SpaceX got rid of the retractable solar panels but added external Draco bells, which have been eliminated in turn. 

The one thing that was interesting was the last line. "Alternatively, the “space taxi” approach would have company specialists  take NASA or international partner astronauts to the station, and then  bring the departing crew home on the older vehicle that delivered them."  This assumes Dragon stays on the ISS long term, in the role of crew rescue vehicle.

I wonder if this is a real plan or just someone musing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/28/2011 03:15 pm
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.

$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.

As Jason points out; what the shuttle actually costs to fly and what NASA adds on top are two totally different prices.  USA wants to fly 2 missions a year for 1.5 billion.

I wonder if two Falcon XX cost 1.5 billion.  I will hazard a guess and say... nope.

Looking at pricing and costs from an economic viability standpoint:
1) The Falcon Heavy is priced at $95M so a Falcon X must compete with that price since they have close to the same Payload capability
2) Pricing the Falcon X at $110M to be competitive to the Falcon Heavy price puts the Merlin 2 Block I engines reoccurring costs at less than $20M each. A $50M price each if they cannot be reused is not economically viable and therefore not worth developing. A total average flight usage capability of 5 would be needed to meet the per flight engine costs with a unit production cost of $50M for a Merlin 2 engine.
3) A 2/3 price to payload capability rule for going from single core to triple core as applied to Falcon X would make the economic target price for Falcon X Heavy at ~$220M ( Note: this pricing rule has held true for several vehicle pricing, Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy being the most significant.)
4) For the Falcon XX to compete with the Falcon X Heavy price the price target of a Falcon XX would have to be ~$300M
So far the larger the vehicle (in modern boosters) the cheaper the price per kg rate to LEO meaning a Falcon X Heavy and Falcon XX would have to price out at less than $3000 per kg to LEO but probably closer to $2000 per kg to LEO making the price per launch of a Falcon X Heavy at ~$250M and a Falcon XX at ~$280M. If the price per kg goes up then it becomes cheaper to do assembly on orbit and use a smaller cheaper booster.

A big thing missing from your analysis is ground infrastructure and fixed costs in general. If a Falcon XX is flown maybe once every year or two, then it probably won't be price-competitive on a per-kg basis with a Falcon 9 (or variants like Falcon Heavy) which fly a dozen times a year (I know that's very optimistic, but it's far more realistic than a Falcon XX, IMO... Plus, that flight rate is actually the stated goal of SpaceX, at a minimum).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: gregpet on 03/28/2011 05:27 pm
From Aviation Week:
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2011/03/28/08.xml&headline=Funding%20Uncertainty%20Shaping%20NASA%20Programs&channel=space

“NASA does not need a 130-metric-ton vehicle, probably before the next decade,” Bolden says. “We know we’re going to need it if we’re going to an asteroid, and we’re definitely going to need it if we’re talking about going to Mars. But we will take a lesser capability in an earlier heavy-lift system so that we can get the job done. . . It means some of the traditional rocket companies that want to sell me a 130-metric-ton vehicle but don’t want to evolve it, they may lose because there is some other company that wants to give me the capability that I need right now that can be evolved to what I need down the road.

Sounds like he could be talking about SpaceX...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RedLineTrain on 03/28/2011 05:54 pm
I wonder what "the job" to get done is.  Have there been any payloads announced in the 70 ton range?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/28/2011 08:08 pm
I wonder what "the job" to get done is.  Have there been any payloads announced in the 70 ton range?

NAUTILUS-X, among others, have been studied. No hardware funded.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/28/2011 10:14 pm
I don't think the 90 s test happened. Likely an aborted test for some reason. They seem to have difficulty completing a big test like those on the originally planned date. I'd assume all the additional instrumentation etc. just complicates things a lot.

Looks like I was right: http://twitter.com/KCENNews/status/52481672138076160
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/28/2011 11:27 pm
I don't think the 90 s test happened. Likely an aborted test for some reason. They seem to have difficulty completing a big test like those on the originally planned date. I'd assume all the additional instrumentation etc. just complicates things a lot.

Looks like I was right: http://twitter.com/KCENNews/status/52481672138076160

That's rather vague. One could get the impression the test was done and they want to go for another. Lack of a posting from SpaceX makes me lean to your assumption though.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/29/2011 12:35 am
The quoted development costs for the Merlin 2 Block I 1.2Mlbf engine is 1 Billion but the engine proposed for use on the Falcon XX is a Merlin 2 Block II 1.7Mlbf engine which will be more expensive to develop.

The Merlin-2 used on Falcon X would be throttled down to 70%. Its the same engine.
In the Markusic presentation, the state diagram of the Merlin 2 showed both 100% throttle (1.7Mlb or [email protected]) and 70% (1.2Mlb or [email protected]). The part that makes me think that he meant Falcon X, was the 300M launch price and 50M per M2. A Falcon XX would have 300M just in engines. I'm not stating if I believe or not those prices. I'm just stating the internal consistency. A 300M launch price for a FX, seems reasonable. I would expect a 600M launch price for a theoretical FX Heavy. Which wouldn't be that impossible if you think that the launch cost of a Shuttle is around 450M and it carries like 105ton to LEO. And considering that we are completely disregarding the launch pad, integration building and other ancillaries.

Edit:corrected the launch cost of the Shuttle.
$450M is indeed the marginal cost of flying Shuttle, but the average cost that NASA pays is much more -- 1 to 1.5 billion dollars, depending on launch rate. NASA would likely buy Falcon XX flights on a fixed-price basis.

As Jason points out; what the shuttle actually costs to fly and what NASA adds on top are two totally different prices.  USA wants to fly 2 missions a year for 1.5 billion.

I wonder if two Falcon XX cost 1.5 billion.  I will hazard a guess and say... nope.

So far the larger the vehicle (in modern boosters) the cheaper the price per kg rate to LEO meaning a Falcon X Heavy and Falcon XX would have to price out at less than $3000 per kg to LEO but probably closer to $2000 per kg to LEO making the price per launch of a Falcon X Heavy at ~$250M and a Falcon XX at ~$280M. If the price per kg goes up then it becomes cheaper to do assembly on orbit and use a smaller cheaper booster.

A big thing missing from your analysis is ground infrastructure and fixed costs in general. If a Falcon XX is flown maybe once every year or two, then it probably won't be price-competitive on a per-kg basis with a Falcon 9 (or variants like Falcon Heavy) which fly a dozen times a year (I know that's very optimistic, but it's far more realistic than a Falcon XX, IMO... Plus, that flight rate is actually the stated goal of SpaceX, at a minimum).

The FX and FXH could fly off the same pad so even if just one 1 FXH and four FX are launched in a year the infrastructure fixed costs for the FXH is only 1/5 of the yearly amount. That is the advantage of having a dual use pad. The larger vehicle has 30% of fixed cost charge added to its kg to LEO than the single core making it a cheaper kg to LEO rate. This is the standard economic model of the single and triple core architecture so that the lower flight rate triple core fixed costs are low. Unfortunately the FXX does not take advantage of this and with a low flight rate of one or two a year will have significantly higher kg to LEO rate probably a fixed cost component at 5 times that of the FXH making it nearly $5000 per kg to LEO or about $500M total per flight. So that makes a FXX not economically feasible until the flight rate exceeds 5 FXH a year so that using a FXX will make sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lobo on 03/29/2011 04:37 pm

A big thing missing from your analysis is ground infrastructure and fixed costs in general. If a Falcon XX is flown maybe once every year or two, then it probably won't be price-competitive on a per-kg basis with a Falcon 9 (or variants like Falcon Heavy) which fly a dozen times a year (I know that's very optimistic, but it's far more realistic than a Falcon XX, IMO... Plus, that flight rate is actually the stated goal of SpaceX, at a minimum).

I've seen the proposal for the FX and FXH, but can't they do a Falcon X-Super Heavy?  Put 4 boosters intead of 2 on the core?  The ULA Atlas 5 Phase 3A does that with the PHase 2 5m cores and claim 107mt to LEO.  I would imagine a FXSH could do something like that.  Then you don't need the one-shot wide core like the FXX (Or Atlas V-Phase 3B, or any other Saturn V redux), that would have no commonality (other than engines) with anything else.  Once you are bulding the FX with the Merlin 2, you basically have both the FXH and and FXSH then too.  Engine and core commonality.  Maybe certify a wide-body PLF for the HLV configurations for large volume payload capability.

So maybe build the new launch facilty able to launch FX, FXH, or FXSH.  Or modify a MLP at LC39 and use those facilities, in a "clean pad" Total Space Launch Complex Center, as it was originally designed to do.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/29/2011 06:03 pm

A big thing missing from your analysis is ground infrastructure and fixed costs in general. If a Falcon XX is flown maybe once every year or two, then it probably won't be price-competitive on a per-kg basis with a Falcon 9 (or variants like Falcon Heavy) which fly a dozen times a year (I know that's very optimistic, but it's far more realistic than a Falcon XX, IMO... Plus, that flight rate is actually the stated goal of SpaceX, at a minimum).

I've seen the proposal for the FX and FXH, but can't they do a Falcon X-Super Heavy?  Put 4 boosters intead of 2 on the core?  The ULA Atlas 5 Phase 3A does that with the PHase 2 5m cores and claim 107mt to LEO.  I would imagine a FXSH could do something like that.  Then you don't need the one-shot wide core like the FXX (Or Atlas V-Phase 3B, or any other Saturn V redux), that would have no commonality (other than engines) with anything else.  Once you are bulding the FX with the Merlin 2, you basically have both the FXH and and FXSH then too.  Engine and core commonality.  Maybe certify a wide-body PLF for the HLV configurations for large volume payload capability.

So maybe build the new launch facilty able to launch FX, FXH, or FXSH.  Or modify a MLP at LC39 and use those facilities, in a "clean pad" Total Space Launch Complex Center, as it was originally designed to do.

You are on to something. Think about the fact that the FX is just a Power Point design. Other likely designs are a 4 Merlin 2 1.2Mlbf single core that has 50metric ton capability and a 150 metric ton triple core capability. Or go for a 4 Merlin 2 1.7 Mlbf single core that has 70 metric tons single core and 210 metric tons triple core. Just because we saw a Power Point chart with a design doesn’t mean that the design will get built. Remember the Falcon 5 (5 engine proposed design made in 2005) which was discarded in favor of a more capable Falcon 9. A redesigned Falcon 9 core using 1.7Mlbf Merlin 2 engines gives 15.5 and 48 metric ton capability for single and triple cores as well. With all vehicles using the same engine the payload capabilities would be 11, 34, 50, and 150 for 1.2Mlbf engine or 15.5, 48, 70 and 210 with a 1.7Mlbf engine giving a wide choice to customers with only two core vehicle designs being manufactured and a single engine model.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: newtype_alpha on 03/29/2011 07:01 pm
For that matter, a Falcon-9 Superheavy with four cores and a throw weight of around 50 tons. Not that simply slapping more cores onto a rocket stage necessarily solves all your problems, but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/29/2011 07:04 pm
For that matter, a Falcon-9 Superheavy with four cores and a throw weight of around 50 tons. Not that simply slapping more cores onto a rocket stage necessarily solves all your problems, but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.
Except that Falcon 9 uses horizontal integration. Adding those cores underneath would be a big pain.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/29/2011 07:06 pm
but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.

On the contrary, it is a big deal and a big leap
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/29/2011 07:52 pm
For that matter, a Falcon-9 Superheavy with four cores and a throw weight of around 50 tons. Not that simply slapping more cores onto a rocket stage necessarily solves all your problems, but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.

36 first-stage engines? Doesn't sound too good.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: HammerD on 03/29/2011 07:58 pm
For that matter, a Falcon-9 Superheavy with four cores and a throw weight of around 50 tons. Not that simply slapping more cores onto a rocket stage necessarily solves all your problems, but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.

36 first-stage engines? Doesn't sound too good.

Yes, sounds like alot can go wrong with that many engines...reminds me of the failed Russian N1 moon rocket...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/29/2011 08:02 pm
For that matter, a Falcon-9 Superheavy with four cores and a throw weight of around 50 tons. Not that simply slapping more cores onto a rocket stage necessarily solves all your problems, but I feel like once you can do multiple cores, adding MORE isn't that much of a leap.

36 first-stage engines? Doesn't sound too good.

Yes, sounds like alot can go wrong with that many engines...reminds me of the failed Russian N1 moon rocket...
The very big difference is that SpaceX actually did and does test-fire the cores, whereas I don't believe the N-1 was test-fired except for the test launches (the individual engines were, maybe, but not after integration with the rocket).

Not only that, but in spite of the fuel filters, etc, SpaceX's turbopumps are designed to ingest nuts and still keep functioning.

That's not to say it'd be a piece of cake or a good idea.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 03/29/2011 08:37 pm
Yes, sounds like alot can go wrong with that many engines...reminds me of the failed Russian N1 moon rocket...

I'm sure it does.

But the N1 was rushed, and was launched before development and testing were entirely finished. Falcon9-heavy and -superheavy are different, because they will actually testfire the rocket before launching it.

Its really getting old to use the N1-argument. It's understandable since it was the only rocket to use that many engines, but its not correct to view all rockets with more than a dozen engines as dangerous because of just one rushed rocket.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Patchouli on 03/29/2011 08:44 pm
Yes, sounds like alot can go wrong with that many engines...reminds me of the failed Russian N1 moon rocket...

I'm sure it does.

But the N1 was rushed, and was launched before development and testing were entirely finished. Falcon9-heavy and -superheavy are different, because they will actually testfire the rocket before launching it.

Its really getting old to use the N1-argument. It's understandable since it was the only rocket to use that many engines, but its not correct to view all rockets with more than a dozen engines ass dangerous because of just one rushed rocket.


If the Saturn V was rushed in the same manner with no static testing it too would have failed like the N1.

They found issues in ground testing that could have destroyed the vehicle.

The F1 it's self was much more thoroughly tested then the NK-15s.
The first F1s had very severe combustion instability issues but after several revisions they could not even cause combustion instability by setting off charges in the combustion chamber.

The Merlin engine like the F1 has been very thoroughly tested.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/30/2011 01:41 am

If the Saturn V was rushed in the same manner with no static testing it too would have failed like the N1.


If memory recalls, did not a Saturn stage take out a test stand at one point?

Quote
Not only that, but in spite of the fuel filters, etc, SpaceX's turbopumps are designed to ingest nuts and still keep functioning.

Robo, Did they really say that or say it was designed to take a nut and not RUD (taking itself along with the adjacent engines apart). I have my miss giving's about a turbine taking a nut and still ticking afterwards.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/30/2011 02:09 am
...
Quote
Not only that, but in spite of the fuel filters, etc, SpaceX's turbopumps are designed to ingest nuts and still keep functioning.

Robo, Did they really say that or say it was designed to take a nut and not RUD (taking itself along with the adjacent engines apart). I have my miss giving's about a turbine taking a nut and still ticking afterwards.
Yes, from what I remember, it was designed to continue working (minus a blade or so). That's the claim, at least.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: tnphysics on 03/30/2011 02:09 am
That was an S-II tank bursting I think
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: clongton on 03/30/2011 02:18 am
Yes, sounds like alot can go wrong with that many engines...reminds me of the failed Russian N1 moon rocket...

I'm sure it does.

But the N1 was rushed, and was launched before development and testing were entirely finished. Falcon9-heavy and -superheavy are different, because they will actually testfire the rocket before launching it.

Its really getting old to use the N1-argument. It's understandable since it was the only rocket to use that many engines, but its not correct to view all rockets with more than a dozen engines as dangerous because of just one rushed rocket.


It's important to remember that the N1's difficulties were not just the number of engines. That wasn't the main boogieman. The Russians were actively solving the problems of a closed cycle oxygen rich engine. They were actually doing things, successfully I might add,  that American rocket engine designers said couldn't be done. In addition to that their design philosophy is different. Americans try to get all the possible gremlins worked out and eliminated before the engine is ever flown. The Russians design the engine the best they can and then turn the design over to the manufacturing engineers, who build it, mount it, launch it, blow it up, figure out what went wrong, fix the design flaw, and do it again, as many times as it takes to get the engine running properly. The politics forced them to mount the "design" engine before the manufacturers actually got hold of it. The engine was nowhere near ready to actually mount and test. The N1 was flown, and died, 4 times. Each time they learned how to make it better. But the ironic thing is that they had actually solved the problems and the 5th flight would likely have achieved orbit. But the Kremlin canceled the project and N1-5 never flew.

The N1 test program had 12 unmanned flights scheduled before  a manned vehicle would fly. They fully *expected* to actually have at least 6 or 7 of those launches literally blow up. That's how they learned. You could find out a *lot* more about an engine, back in those days, by physically pushing it past its limits than you ever could by theoretical analysis. Don't make the mistake of putting your "American" cap on and thinking that the N1 was actually ready for a test flight when they first launched it - it wasn't.

Oh, and the N1 engine that had solved all the problems? NK-33.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Patchouli on 03/30/2011 03:24 am


If memory recalls, did not a Saturn stage take out a test stand at one point?


The S-IVB twice and the second time it was a helium tank.

Americans try to get all the possible gremlins worked out and eliminated before the engine is ever flown. The Russians design the engine the best they can and then turn the design over to the manufacturing engineers, who build it, mount it, launch it, blow it up, figure out what went wrong, fix the design flaw, and do it again, as many times as it takes to get the engine running properly.

Spacex seems to use combination of the two philosophies.
They do a lot of test stand work where someone else would still be doing paper studies.

The engineers and machinists handling the actual manufacturing have input on the design something unheard of in traditional western rocket design.

The new space companies in general seem to act more like their Russian counterparts then traditional western space companies.

Both philosophies have their short coming but also have their strengths.
Having engineers not talking to each other having the design engineers locked in offices and just telling the manufacturing engineers and machinists to meet this drawling is a guaranteed way to drive up costs and cause delays but skimping on ground testing also can be expensive.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/30/2011 03:53 am
...
Quote
Not only that, but in spite of the fuel filters, etc, SpaceX's turbopumps are designed to ingest nuts and still keep functioning.
Robo, Did they really say that or say it was designed to take a nut and not RUD (taking itself along with the adjacent engines apart). I have my miss giving's about a turbine taking a nut and still ticking afterwards.
Yes, from what I remember, it was designed to continue working (minus a blade or so). That's the claim, at least.

Turbine?  Nuts and bolts don't get into the hot gas circuit of engines - not going to make it past any injector.  They get into pumps.


PS: another SpaceX discussion thread on the verge of being lost to pointless, amateur conjecture about RBFRs.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/30/2011 04:59 am
...
Quote
Not only that, but in spite of the fuel filters, etc, SpaceX's turbopumps are designed to ingest nuts and still keep functioning.
Robo, Did they really say that or say it was designed to take a nut and not RUD (taking itself along with the adjacent engines apart). I have my miss giving's about a turbine taking a nut and still ticking afterwards.
Yes, from what I remember, it was designed to continue working (minus a blade or so). That's the claim, at least.

Turbine?  Nuts and bolts don't get into the hot gas circuit of engines - not going to make it past any injector.  They get into pumps.


PS: another SpaceX discussion thread on the verge of being lost to pointless, amateur conjecture about RBFRs.
I am merely repeating what a former SpaceX employee said. As I said, it's a claim, and I cannot verify it.

EDIT:Here is the Space Show interview with the former SpaceX employee where this claim is made: http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1522-BWB-2011-03-04.mp3
It occurs starting at 57 minutes in.

(And yeah, I don't think it'd get past the injector either!)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 03/30/2011 10:02 am
A quad- (or even quin-core, four around a central core) Falcon-9 derevative would certainly create a serious strain on the Merlin-1 production line.  As Jim points out, at the very least, it would also require a custom-built strongback, modifications at the HIF to support the upper cores' weight to prevent crushing the lower one, a bigger HIF shed and modifications to the pad.

Overall, I'm sticking with my prediction that SLC-40 is for Falcon-9 only and any East Coast launch site for Falcon Heavy or larger would have a seperate pad.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/30/2011 01:06 pm
Hard to say when this was taken, only that is was uploaded yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGJGKIuI43Y

"SpaceX McGreggor Tx Flacon 9 Eng test. I am about 5 miles away, and the wind to my back so it wasn't very loud. There have been better ones that shake the walls."

Also this from yesterday:

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/breakingnews/SpaceX-planning-for-90-second-rocket-test-this-afternoon.html

Sounds like weather might be causing the delay.

Now this:

http://twitter.com/KCENNews/status/52839994376716289

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/30/2011 01:59 pm
Sounds like weather might be causing the delay.

That video is the last night's test as far as I can tell. The 10 s test was early in the afternoon and this is dusky and overcast sky. No way of telling if it was the planned 90 seconds or cut short for some reason.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: stockman on 03/30/2011 02:24 pm
Alot of us here were not spot on when it came to previous Spacex static/ test fires and analysis so we'll have to see. It's hard to read. To me, this looks like the 10 second test just posted late.

really??  the video is 31 seconds long and the video starts with the test firing well in progress (already started).. the test lasts for at least 18 seconds before the engines obviously start to shut down... that alone is way longer than a 10 second test - what we don't know is how long were the engines going before the camera started rolling...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 03/30/2011 02:59 pm
After I reviewed the footage further I have to agree with you that is why I pulled my last statement as you can see. Lesson learned, Never post 5 minutes after you wake up and have not had your coffee (California time).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/30/2011 06:04 pm
A quad- (or even quin-core, four around a central core) Falcon-9 derevative would certainly create a serious strain on the Merlin-1 production line.  As Jim points out, at the very least, it would also require a custom-built strongback, modifications at the HIF to support the upper cores' weight to prevent crushing the lower one, a bigger HIF shed and modifications to the pad.
If you orient the booster like the way they are done on a Soyuz:
X X
 X
X X
Then some of the loads problems would be diminished. Obviously though a specialized pad for this configuration would be needed as well as a specialized central core vehicle that can handle four attach points and double the loads. The four boosters can be the standard Falcon 9 cores though since they have the same loads as would be the case of a Falcon Heavy.

Overall, I'm sticking with my prediction that SLC-40 is for Falcon-9 only and any East Coast launch site for Falcon Heavy or larger would have a seperate pad.

With the projected flight rate for Falcon 9 by 2013 being 8 possibly as high as 10 if delays from a previous year occur, this would cause serious launching processing constraints on the facilities at SLC-40. With another pad that is dual use Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 these facility processing constraints would be alleviated allowing a top flight rate of around 20 combined Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy flights a year.

So by 2012 we may see a second Space X pad being built for a dual use Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy started somewhere around the time frame of the first Falcon Heavy demo flight in 2013.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 03/30/2011 09:09 pm
Can SLC-17 at Cape Canaeval be modified for SpaceX launches after the final Delta II launch?

Not too sure if SLC-17 is suitable for the F9H. But could be new F9 launch site with dual pads while SLC-40 is refitted for the F9H.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/30/2011 09:45 pm
I was research through the LC at the Cape and a better pad for F9 would be SLC-36 which is currently leased to Space Florida. Since it was an Atlas II dual pad and has more separation as well as larger flame deflection they would make a better fit for F9 than SLC-17. Although you could completely remove one of the SLC-17 pads add a larger flame duct and facilities and it could be used for even a F9H.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 03/30/2011 10:02 pm
now this is a cool tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/Cmdr_Hadfield/status/53214075160756225) by a fellow  Canadian... (https://twitter.com/#!/Cmdr_Hadfield)

jb

edit: gotta love this pic of the HTV (?) gotta see it full size!!!
http://twitpic.com/4a1gpa
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/31/2011 12:41 am
I was research through the LC at the Cape and a better pad for F9 would be SLC-36 which is currently leased to Space Florida. Since it was an Atlas II dual pad and has more separation as well as larger flame deflection they would make a better fit for F9 than SLC-17. Although you could completely remove one of the SLC-17 pads add a larger flame duct and facilities and it could be used for even a F9H.

LC-36 is nothing but a dirt plot.  Everything include the concrete has been removed.

 Space Florida is only "leased" the acreage, there is no infrastructure.

SLC-17 is better because it exists.
and why does one have to be removed?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: psloss on 03/31/2011 12:58 am
now this is a cool tweet (https://twitter.com/#!/Cmdr_Hadfield/status/53214075160756225) by a fellow  Canadian... (https://twitter.com/#!/Cmdr_Hadfield)
Nice.  Got some images of the Cupola simulator when it was outside that dome (I believe that's the 'Alpha Dome') last week at JSC at one of the Shuttle media events.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/31/2011 08:59 am
Hmm, interesting "trailer" for the Falcon Heavy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th6HQ9RtVCE
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: QuantumG on 03/31/2011 09:22 am
haha, that's very Iron Man.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apace on 03/31/2011 09:52 am
Hmm, interesting "trailer" for the Falcon Heavy:

Hehe, looks like SpaceX is starting marketing like Apple ;-) What the hell we will see in a few days?! It's April or May? Not always easy to understand date formats...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dappa on 03/31/2011 09:56 am
What the hell will we see in a few days? That's what I'm wondering too. Can we expect to see any new information on Falcon Heavy, or is this announcement just a mainstream media offensive?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: QuantumG on 03/31/2011 10:22 am
It's April or May? Not always easy to understand date formats...

hint: Gwynne Shotwell will be presenting at Space Access on April 7th, at 4:20 pm.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/31/2011 10:24 am
What the hell will we see in a few days? That's what I'm wondering too. Can we expect to see any new information on Falcon Heavy, or is this announcement just a mainstream media offensive?

At 0:27/0:28 it has the a three-core outline, and at 0:29 it has an "FH" logo and the stylised Falcon. What else could it be than Falcon Heavy?

BTW,the outline also shows at least three engines per core, and probably the standard nine (ie 3x3), so not Merlin 2.

cheers, Martin

Edit 1: 0:27/0:28.

Edit 2: Merlin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Crispy on 03/31/2011 11:17 am
Of course it's F9H, but what's so important that we need a trailer for?

Have they got enough production capacity to have made 3 cores + US, so that they could tip it on end in the Hawthorne parking lot and say "look, we built one!"
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 03/31/2011 11:39 am
Of course it's F9H, but what's so important that we need a trailer for?

Why would something need to be "important" to have a trailer? Relax, it's just a sales pitch.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 03/31/2011 12:12 pm
New contract:

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20110331/BUSINESS/103310308/British-satellites-ride-Falcon-9

Also, the top banner on http://www.spacex.com/ has changed, now it teases like the video. I take the date to be April 5, 2011. Could be nothing more than a ground-breaking ceremony at Vandenberg, but who knows?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 03/31/2011 12:24 pm
Of course it's F9H, but what's so important that we need a trailer for?

Have they got enough production capacity to have made 3 cores + US, so that they could tip it on end in the Hawthorne parking lot and say "look, we built one!"

NB the "9" was dropped from the name a little while ago.

Just Falcon Heavy, now.

cheers, Martin

Edit: phrasing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/31/2011 12:39 pm

At 0:27/0:28 it has the a three-core outline, and at 0:29 it has an "FH" logo and the stylised Falcon. What else could it be than Falcon Heavy?

Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Move of Dragon from Falcon 9 to Delta IV Heavy :D


Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: billh on 03/31/2011 01:37 pm
Groundbreaking at Vandenberg - sounds plausible. Or maybe they are going to announce they have a contract for a Falcon Heavy launch.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kch on 03/31/2011 01:52 pm

At 0:27/0:28 it has the a three-core outline, and at 0:29 it has an "FH" logo and the stylised Falcon. What else could it be than Falcon Heavy?

Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Now isn't that a thought?  Wonder how much one of those could take to LEO ... :)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 03/31/2011 03:10 pm
Hmm, interesting "trailer" for the Falcon Heavy:

showed this too my highschool kids..they find the poliitcs interesting....but......
lets just say they need to change the title... a murmur in the back of the class was  ..."and that is what she said" ****sigh****
jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/31/2011 03:22 pm
Hmm, interesting "trailer" for the Falcon Heavy:

showed this too my highschool kids..they find the poliitcs interesting....but......
lets just say they need to change the title... a murmur in the back of the class was  ..."and that is what she said" ****sigh****
jb
Considering the name of the company, that may actually be intentional. Just sayin'. Nothing sells like Spa ceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/31/2011 03:56 pm

At 0:27/0:28 it has the a three-core outline, and at 0:29 it has an "FH" logo and the stylised Falcon. What else could it be than Falcon Heavy?

Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Now isn't that a thought?  Wonder how much one of those could take to LEO ... :)
I don't know, bit it would be a cheap way to validate cross feeding.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 03/31/2011 05:32 pm
Quote
Quote
Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Now isn't that a thought?  Wonder how much one of those could take to LEO ... :)
I don't know, bit it would be a cheap way to validate cross feeding.

How, you develop a product that will never find a market and still have to do all the same work again to get it to work on Falcon Heavy?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/31/2011 06:57 pm
Quote
Quote
Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Now isn't that a thought?  Wonder how much one of those could take to LEO ... :)
I don't know, bit it would be a cheap way to validate cross feeding.

How, you develop a product that will never find a market and still have to do all the same work again to get it to work on Falcon Heavy?
Nobody has made a cross feeding heavy that I'm aware of. In other words, you'd need a technology demonstrator to do it piece wise. A falcon 9 has a very complicated manifold and it's very expensive. Ideally I would actually try to get a special price on Armadillo's Sting and try to crossfeed those. I'm sure there are lot's of lessons to be learned before attempting a FH with XF. In fact, I would probably just use F1, not F1e. I don't know what the cost of launch and testing is for a Heavy, but I'd guess around 70M. If you can save a single Heavy launch with F1 as a testing platform, I'm sure it would make a lot of sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/31/2011 07:35 pm
Quote
Quote
Falcon 1e Heavy ;)

Now isn't that a thought?  Wonder how much one of those could take to LEO ... :)
I don't know, bit it would be a cheap way to validate cross feeding.

How, you develop a product that will never find a market and still have to do all the same work again to get it to work on Falcon Heavy?
Nobody has made a cross feeding heavy that I'm aware of. In other words, you'd need a technology demonstrator to do it piece wise. A falcon 9 has a very complicated manifold and it's very expensive. Ideally I would actually try to get a special price on Armadillo's Sting and try to crossfeed those. I'm sure there are lot's of lessons to be learned before attempting a FH with XF. In fact, I would probably just use F1, not F1e. I don't know what the cost of launch and testing is for a Heavy, but I'd guess around 70M. If you can save a single Heavy launch with F1 as a testing platform, I'm sure it would make a lot of sense.

The fact that F9 has "a very complicated manifold" would mean that a crossfeed arrangement would be substantially different than on an F1. Crossfeed isn't a groundbreaking principle, it's simply a way to use your fuel more efficiently. The problems with it are all mechanical, which is why I think an F1/e demonstrator would not be very helpful.

Also, it's Stig, not Sting.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 03/31/2011 08:06 pm
I'm sure there are lot's of lessons to be learned before attempting a FH with XF. In fact, I would probably just use F1, not F1e.

SpaceX said they won't do any type of F1 strap-on.  I don't have a link handy, but I remember it clearly.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/31/2011 08:24 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Calorspace on 03/31/2011 08:29 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

This is a post of madness. What is wrong with their marketing?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 03/31/2011 08:30 pm

Nobody has made a cross feeding heavy that I'm aware of. In other words, you'd need a technology demonstrator to do it piece wise.

Not needed.  Most has already been done.  See Saturn I/IB first stage for propellant utilization from multiple tanks and old school Atlas booster package jettison for inflight propellant line disconnects.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: nblackwell on 03/31/2011 08:35 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

I'm sorry, but how exactly is 4 consecutive successes not consistent?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/31/2011 08:39 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?
I'd much rather see real flights (more of them) than marketing fluff. SpaceX really hasn't done that much marketing fluff since the last launch, now they're back to their "normal." I wonder if their director of marketing was on maternity leave or something?

As far as marketing goes, I thought this latest promo was well done.

SpaceX needs to prove they can enter sustainable operations mode. They have done a pretty good job IMO of proving they can design, build, and fly a rocket.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris-A on 03/31/2011 08:56 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?
I'd much rather see real flights (more of them) than marketing fluff. SpaceX really hasn't done that much marketing fluff since the last launch, now they're back to their "normal." I wonder if their director of marketing was on maternity leave or something?

As far as marketing goes, I thought this latest promo was well done.

SpaceX needs to prove they can enter sustainable operations mode. They have done a pretty good job IMO of proving they can design, build, and fly a rocket.

Agreed. The industry and consumers don’t need the flashily marketing. The target audience is probability outside of the industry, the beltway and new investors.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 03/31/2011 09:05 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?
I'd much rather see real flights (more of them) than marketing fluff. SpaceX really hasn't done that much marketing fluff since the last launch, now they're back to their "normal." I wonder if their director of marketing was on maternity leave or something?

As far as marketing goes, I thought this latest promo was well done.

SpaceX needs to prove they can enter sustainable operations mode. They have done a pretty good job IMO of proving they can design, build, and fly a rocket.

Agreed. The industry and consumers don’t need the flashily marketing. The target audience is probability outside of the industry, the beltway and new investors.

It's not an either/or situation. The people who make the videos are certainly not the ones building and testing hardware. A video like this represents at most a few thousand dollars' worth of the marketing people's time. (If they did in house, which would fit their style.) Which would you rather see: few launches and some great videos, or few launches and no videos or updates of any kind? Those are the options for the first half of 2011.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/31/2011 09:30 pm
2 different vehicles.  And, launch customers like few changes from mission to mission.  I just wonder how the company can manage so many different development projects at once while continuing production and sustaining.

It's not about making videos.  It's about whether anything is actually going on, and creating false hopes and expectations.  I'm amazed at how many people believe ridiculous development schedules put out by all companies, not just SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/31/2011 09:37 pm
2 different vehicles.  And, launch customers like few changes from mission to mission.  I just wonder how the company can manage so many different development projects at once while continuing production and sustaining.

It's not about making videos.  It's about whether anything is actually going on, and creating false hopes and expectations.  I'm amazed at how many people believe ridiculous development schedules put out by all companies, not just SpaceX.
Your post reminds me of something: What is the "SpaceX multiplier"? Isn't it 2.4x or something?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/31/2011 10:04 pm
This is just my personal opinion:

SpaceX found out pretty damn quickly that the market for Falcon 1 was small and not profitable.  This was a nice to have more than a real market.

Falcon 1 was a test bed for about 75 percent of "Falcon".

Brilliant business move.  Falcon 1 - Flight 1 was a scud missile.  The lessons learned were enormous and while the price tag was about eight million (million with an M) it was not 56 million.  Obviously I am not rolling in R&D into the serials.

The business model is perfect, brilliant, elegant - everything NASA is not.

By Falcon 1 - Flight 5 SpaceX had "most" procedures in place... not all.  Those lessons learned were then applied to the then, Falcon 9, program.

Long way to go and I totally see where Antares is going with this, and it is a fair criticism.  However, I would humbly ask who else is doing what SpaceX is doing for the money the US taxpayer is giving to SpaceX via COTS?

The answer is no one.  No one is even close.

This does not guarantee SpaceX will succeed but you are lying through your teeth if you do not think they are the closest to the finish line.

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 03/31/2011 10:04 pm
2 different vehicles.  And, launch customers like few changes from mission to mission.  I just wonder how the company can manage so many different development projects at once while continuing production and sustaining.

It's not about making videos.  It's about whether anything is actually going on, and creating false hopes and expectations.  I'm amazed at how many people believe ridiculous development schedules put out by all companies, not just SpaceX.
Your post reminds me of something: What is the "SpaceX multiplier"? Isn't it 2.4x or something?
Performance, price or delivery time? Price seems to be 15% + inflation correction. Delivery time is a comfortable 2.0. Performance, I would say 0.85, but it's true they still don't have Block 2 (which might imply a time correction of 2.5~3.0).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 03/31/2011 10:21 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?

And then what? Watch congress give away contracts to your competitors, despite achieving for pennies on the dollar what they failed to do with the Ares I? SpaceX has to blow their own horn - Senator Shelby sure as hell won't.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 03/31/2011 10:54 pm
Wait, you would rather SpaceX get that amount of money?  And spend it on what?  And manage it how?  How is a company of 1000-2000 people going to do that much and do it any more efficiently than the competitors?  They would have to grow so fast, it couldn't be managed well without waste.  I can't stand cost-plus government-owned rockets, but you fail to make a realistic argument.

BTW, RS327, calling F1-F1 $8M is dubious.  It's really how ever much SpaceX spent to that point on F1.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 03/31/2011 11:16 pm
Wait, you would rather SpaceX get that amount of money?  And spend it on what?  And manage it how?  How is a company of 1000-2000 people going to do that much and do it any more efficiently than the competitors?

Feed SpaceX money based on milestones.  SpaceX has proved and is continuing to prove that this model of commercial space acquisition for services WORKS.  And it works well.  You could use this model for say:

* Merlin 2
* Raptor
* Falcon X
* Falcon XX

They would have to grow so fast, it couldn't be managed well without waste.  I can't stand cost-plus government-owned rockets, but you fail to make a realistic argument.

I am keenly aware of how difficult it is to hire the right people into an organization.  You just cannot hire an excellent "rocket scientist", no.  That "rocket scientist" must also fit the culture of SpaceX. 

SpaceX is growing, in my opinion at a "cautious" pace.

BTW, RS327, calling F1-F1 $8M is dubious.  It's really how ever much SpaceX spent to that point on F1.

In my post I did say I left off the R&D.

The point remains valid.  It is a hell of a lot cheaper to fail with an F1 than an F9.  The hardware itself was 8 million.  The intellectual property acquired during the development up until that point cost a lot more.

Finally, you asked if I would give ALL the money to SpaceX.  Let me respond by saying:

HELL NO!

Boeing gets to play with CST-100
Biglow gets to play with its modules
ULA gets to play with "man rating" Delta and Atlas
Orbital gets to play with Taurus and Cygnus
Masten gets to play with their vehicles
XCOR gets to play with their vehicles
Spacedev gets to play with Dream Chaser

You could fund all that with what we are wasting with this three ring circus that is SLS.

I am all about equal OPPORTUNITY!  Who ever makes it, makes it.  I have one more quote I want to add here from another thread:

Close Marshall and reroute the Tennessee River through buildings 4200 - 4203 to ensure it never came back.

+1

The sooner we enable the SpaceX's, Orbital's, ULA's, and others; the better we will be.

VR
RE327

edit: changed "is" to "has"
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 03/31/2011 11:20 pm

Finally, you asked if I would give ALL the money to SpaceX.  Let me respond by saying:

HELL NO!

Boeing gets to play with CST-100
Biglow gets to play with its modules
ULA gets to play with "man rating" Delta and Atlas
Orbital gets to play with Taurus and Cygnus
Masten gets to play with their vehicles
XCOR gets to play with their vehicles
Spacedev gets to play with Dream Chaser

You could fund all that with what we are wasting with this three ring circus that is SLS.

I am all about equal OPPORTUNITY!  Who ever makes it, makes it.  I have one more quote I want to add here from another thread:


The sooner we enable the SpaceX's, Orbital's, ULA's, and others; the better we will be.

VR
RE327

Just wanted to say I agree with those points above 100%, given the currect state of things with SLS.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SpacexULA on 03/31/2011 11:29 pm
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

A youtube video using stock video from previous conference videos to drum up a tiny bit of buzz for a product that is two years out is good business.  If I had access to their stock footage I could have thrown that video together over a lunch hour.

I only wish that ULA would throw bones to us folk that write congressman more often.  Maybe if Boeing, LM, Orbital and ULA where as pushy as SpaceX we would be able to end this Ares 5 redux and start building real hardware that had a snow balls chance in hades making it to completion on time and on budget.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lars_J on 04/01/2011 04:09 am
I'm taking the gloves off.  I'm bleeping sick of SpaceX marketing stuff.  How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?  I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

Wow, take a chill pill. The amount of 'fluff' marketing by SpaceX has been incredibly diminished since they have been flying actual hardware. Your accusation/complaint would have been valid 3 years ago, but hardly today. This is the first new video they have released since F9 flight 2 flight video, back in December.
 
How about coming up with a vehicle that works consistently and standing on your own merits?

Isn't that what they have been doing? The F9 is two for two so far. What else would you have them do to meet with your approval?

I really wonder if there is something going on in the background.  Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

I'll let this one speak for itself.  ::)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/01/2011 11:47 am
Antares is speaking from direct experience.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: madscientist197 on 04/01/2011 12:08 pm
I only wish that ULA would throw bones to us folk that write congressman more often.  Maybe if Boeing, LM, Orbital and ULA where as pushy as SpaceX we would be able to end this Ares 5 redux and start building real hardware that had a snow balls chance in hades making it to completion on time and on budget.

Very strongly agree with this. Sometimes I wonder whether the established companies are afraid to blow their own trumpet, so to speak -- instead they resort to less transparent lobbying behind the scenes.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: madscientist197 on 04/01/2011 12:09 pm
Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

This is one part of Antares's post that I can't argue about: I wonder about their true financial situation, too.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mikegi on 04/01/2011 12:28 pm
Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

This is one part of Antares's post that I can't argue about: I wonder about their true financial situation, too.
Not sure why this is such a SpaceX concern. Constellation effectively went bankrupt, so it isn't particular to SX.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: SkyKing on 04/01/2011 12:45 pm
Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

This is one part of Antares's post that I can't argue about: I wonder about their true financial situation, too.

it is pretty simple.  Either SpaceX will implode pretty shortly or they will own the launch industry and be one of the trend setters which will define the aerospace industry for the next few decades.

I think it is the latter but you know could be wrong.  We are at a time in our aerospace industry where the major corporations have for a variety of reasons (some not their fault) simply floundered.  Its not just space projects, but it is almost the "whole nine yards".

The F-4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat had development cycles measured in single digit years (under 3 in fact)...today that is simply not possible.  Gemini had a develop/deployment cycle along with a cost number that NASA or its industry trough feeders could not do. Gemini to develop and operate cost about 1/2 of the dollars that Cx spent for almost nothing to show for it...

What SpaceX has done is nothing short of amazing particularly considering the cost.  Now they have to make their cost numbers (and so far we dont know that)...but we will find out soon.

Sky King
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/01/2011 12:58 pm
I may not understand certain engineering principles such as Jim does but, I am a successful small business owner and while it takes money and outlay to make money one big no no is you don't exceed current and future projected earnings by growing your business too fast. We saw that with Kmart in the 80's. Spacex would not be growing with an expanded facility in Texas and a new site at Vandenberg if they felt that there was not enough current and future projected cashflow to support operations there. You don't grow your business like that and you don't take that kind of gamble on a hunch. It's just too big of a move not to have support.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/01/2011 01:19 pm
Spacex may launch Optus Satellite
http://www.satellitetoday.com/satn/features/Optus-Satellite-Director-Names-SpaceX-as-Potential-Launch-Provider-for-Optus-10_36477.html
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/01/2011 01:47 pm
Interesting tidbit from the Tesla side of things

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/04/01/tesla-sues-bbc-car-bad-review/

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: grdja on 04/01/2011 04:19 pm
Top Gear being smug and arrogant. In other news, water is wet.  Yes of course Tesla is no Ferrari.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/01/2011 04:55 pm
Hopefully, we will not only get a look at FH plans on the 5th but also get a new update with lots of progress on the upcoming COTS 2/3? launch. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 04/01/2011 05:43 pm
Top Gear being smug and arrogant. In other news, water is wet.  Yes of course Tesla is no Ferrari.

Of course they are smug and arrogant, but what is the actual battery life of the Telsa roadster ? Anyone have any real-world experience with one want to comment ?

Look, Steve Jobs didn't sue Consumer Reports over their negative iPhone review.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/01/2011 06:01 pm
Top Gear being smug and arrogant. In other news, water is wet.  Yes of course Tesla is no Ferrari.

Of course they are smug and arrogant, but what is the actual battery life of the Telsa roadster ? Anyone have any real-world experience with one want to comment ?

Look, Steve Jobs didn't sue Consumer Reports over their negative iPhone review.
I'm not familiar with the suit. But from what I've read Top Gear tested a sort of beta version, or first limited release edition. Tesla says that that performance is nor representative of the current models, that Top Gear never clearly identified this as a beta vehicle and that they kept airing the show (it was 2008, I think). So they are suing because the rerun makes the current line seem like the one that's wrong.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/01/2011 06:13 pm
Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

Antares is speaking from direct experience.

It would be a shame if SpaceX went under while congress is gnashing it's teeth securing pork and corporate welfare to the chosen few.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 04/01/2011 06:31 pm
Are they trying to drum up business because they are having financial problems?

Antares is speaking from direct experience.

It would be a shame if SpaceX went under while congress is gnashing it's teeth securing pork and corporate welfare to the chosen few.


I wouldn't worry about that, as SpaceX has been profitable for 3-4 years now. They could get tons of cash by doing an IPO if the only alternative was bankruptcy. I'm more worried about American HSF going under while Congress is gnashing its teeth securing pork and corporate welfare to the chosen few.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/01/2011 07:06 pm
As I said before, Spacex would not be going forward with plans to build at Vandenberg and Texas and expanding their launcher constellation if they were in any kind of financial hardship. No sound financial institution is going to lend any company money who does not have a sound and rational plan going forward along with current sound business practices. No business lender is going to do that especially in this economic climate we are in today. Unless there's some proof, case closed...it's just talk. I think Gwynne Shotwell mentioned something about Spacex's profitabilty at either the pre or post COTS 1 launch conference.

"But now SpaceX has responded to this question: Board member Luke Nosek of Founders Fund, a major investor in the company, told PEHub that SpaceX has been profitable for the last several years, and that it will be again in 2010, with or without federal funding. The company successfully sent its Falcon 9 rocket 155 miles up into orbit last week, and has more than 24 orders (totaling $2.5 billion in revenue) to deliver satellites into space over the next five years. The plan is to reinvest this cash in the company". - venturebeat.com

Another article dated November 2010 saying spacex raised an additional 50 million dollars.

http://venturebeat.com/2010/11/10/elon-musk-spacex-50-million/

 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Diagoras on 04/01/2011 07:23 pm
Top Gear being smug and arrogant. In other news, water is wet.  Yes of course Tesla is no Ferrari.

Of course they are smug and arrogant, but what is the actual battery life of the Telsa roadster ? Anyone have any real-world experience with one want to comment ?

Look, Steve Jobs didn't sue Consumer Reports over their negative iPhone review.
I'm not familiar with the suit. But from what I've read Top Gear tested a sort of beta version, or first limited release edition. Tesla says that that performance is nor representative of the current models, that Top Gear never clearly identified this as a beta vehicle and that they kept airing the show (it was 2008, I think). So they are suing because the rerun makes the current line seem like the one that's wrong.

Actually, as I recall Top Gear deliberately ran down the battery on the Tesla and then pretended that it gave out by itself after thirty minutes. Appalling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Top_Gear#Series_12.2C_Episode_7:_Tesla_Roadster
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/01/2011 07:52 pm
I wouldn't worry about that, as SpaceX has been profitable for 3-4 years now. They could get tons of cash by doing an IPO if the only alternative was bankruptcy.

They aren't going to get a ton of money from an IPO, and they certainly aren't going to put out a prospectus if they are in the middle of a fiscal crisis. I doubt SpaceX is having any cash issues, but their finances are opaque and it's all pure speculation.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 04/01/2011 07:55 pm
Not the IPO nonsense again.  There is no SpaceX IPO.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Halidon on 04/01/2011 08:31 pm
If you want to talk about Tesla in relation to Mr. Musk's financial situation, it's probably worth pointing out that Morgan Stanley has gone very bullish on the firm (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-31/tesla-surges-as-morgan-stanley-says-electric-cars-will-gain-1-.html?cmpid=yhoo) and their stock is reflecting the love.

But really neither bit of Tesla news really reflects much on SpaceX at the moment. Their infrastructure investments and upcoming FH announcement indicates that the company is at the very least healthy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mlorrey on 04/02/2011 04:04 am
Top Gear being smug and arrogant. In other news, water is wet.  Yes of course Tesla is no Ferrari.

Of course they are smug and arrogant, but what is the actual battery life of the Telsa roadster ? Anyone have any real-world experience with one want to comment ?

Look, Steve Jobs didn't sue Consumer Reports over their negative iPhone review.



Apparently the range of a Tesla roadster is about 250 miles. Top Gear claimed it was only 55 miles, claimed the car died at the track and had to be pushed back to the garage, which was false and Tesla's british rep found scripts on set that were written prior to delivery of the cars that trashed the vehicle and clearly demonstrate that the show was a malicious set up. Tesla was willing to let it go for one showing, but BBC insists on rerunning that episode repeatedly, which Tesla is demanding that they do not.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: rickl on 04/02/2011 04:09 am
That's reminiscent of the notorious 60 Minutes episode where they rigged a pickup truck to explode into flames when it was hit from the side.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 04/02/2011 05:32 am
Or the 2002 Consumers Union "test" where they rigged a Suzuki Samurai  to show it was a rollover "danger"  ::)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Calorspace on 04/02/2011 08:26 am
If it is as speculated 32,000KG for 100million... there is going to be a lot of terrified Aerospace giants out there if this works. Which if anything will be a good thing is it will then force them to invest in being able to do it cheaper themselves, hopefully!
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/02/2011 11:47 am
If it's the F9H lifting from Vandenberg. Then someone at the NRO might have lose patience with the launch tempo of the DIVH for the IMINT sats. It would be interesting to see how long it take SpaceX to launch as compare to the ULA after the hardware arrived at the launch site.

Also IIRC there was mention of a NRO payload that exceeded  the DIVH's current capability on the DIV wikipedia page. The NRO might just pay SpaceX $100M to test if the F9H is capable. After all 2 F9H is about half the cost of a single DIVH.

So the possibility of a flyby mission to Eris in the next 20 years is little brighter with a future F9H topped with an AVUS.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 04/02/2011 01:29 pm
... Tesla's british rep found scripts on set that were written prior to delivery of the cars that trashed the vehicle and clearly demonstrate that the show was a malicious set up. Tesla was willing to let it go for one showing, but BBC insists on rerunning that episode repeatedly, which Tesla is demanding that they do not.

Right.  Top Gear did a classic hatchet job.

Look, Steve Jobs didn't sue Consumer Reports over their negative iPhone review.

Consumer Reports doesn't do hatchet jobs.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: robertross on 04/02/2011 01:41 pm
Enough with the Tesla nonsense please. This isn't a forum on cars.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/02/2011 02:16 pm
1.  Then someone at the NRO might have lose patience with the launch tempo of the DIVH for the IMINT sats. It would be interesting to see how long it take SpaceX to launch as compare to the ULA after the hardware arrived at the launch site.

2.  Also IIRC there was mention of a NRO payload that exceeded  the DIVH's current capability on the DIV wikipedia page. The NRO might just pay SpaceX $100M to test if the F9H is capable. After all 2 F9H is about half the cost of a single DIVH.

3.  So the possibility of a flyby mission to Eris in the next 20 years is little brighter with a future F9H topped with an AVUS.

1.  There is no backlog of DIVH missions at VAFB.  Anyways, Spacex's record for hardware on site to launch is nothing to brag about either.

2.  Wiki is a source?

3.  AVUS is not going to fly on a F9H.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 04/02/2011 03:00 pm
As I said before, Spacex would not be going forward with plans to build at Vandenberg and Texas and expanding their launcher constellation if they were in any kind of financial hardship. No sound financial institution is going to lend any company money who does not have a sound and rational plan going forward along with current sound business practices. No business lender is going to do that especially in this economic climate we are in today. Unless there's some proof, case closed...it's just talk. I think Gwynne Shotwell mentioned something about Spacex's profitabilty at either the pre or post COTS 1 launch conference.

"But now SpaceX has responded to this question: Board member Luke Nosek of Founders Fund, a major investor in the company, told PEHub that SpaceX has been profitable for the last several years, and that it will be again in 2010, with or without federal funding. The company successfully sent its Falcon 9 rocket 155 miles up into orbit last week, and has more than 24 orders (totaling $2.5 billion in revenue) to deliver satellites into space over the next five years. The plan is to reinvest this cash in the company". - venturebeat.com

Another article dated November 2010 saying spacex raised an additional 50 million dollars.

http://venturebeat.com/2010/11/10/elon-musk-spacex-50-million/

 

I understand that SpaceX has a number of flights on their manifest, and billions of potential future revenue once they actually start launching commerical payloads into space. Normally, you can't book that revenue unless you actually deliver some product. Perhaps the COTS program has been profitable for them. I would hope not, since that would lead me to believe they have no "skin" in the game. NASA isn't supposed to cover their costs plus a profit.

Let's say SpaceX has burned thru at least 700-800 million of cash so far. That's probably low, but it's a start. Have they received that much cash from COTS, a couple of F1 launches, and a few cubesats that rode-along on the COTS flights ?

They may have positive cash-flow (due to deposits made to hold a launch spot), but unless they have someone investing their spare cash in something other than the core business, I don't see how the revenue generated from operations covers the expense of running the operation.

Eventually, you would have to examine the extra costs of maintaining your own test facility in Texas. Wouldn't it be significantly cheaper to just rent a test stand at Stennis.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: billh on 04/02/2011 03:06 pm
Eventually, you would have to examine the extra costs of maintaining your own test facility in Texas. Wouldn't it be significantly cheaper to just rent a test stand at Stennis.

Don't they test every new engine? With ten engines per vehicle and multiple launches per year they must keep at least one test stand almost continually busy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/02/2011 04:11 pm
1.  Then someone at the NRO might have lose patience with the launch tempo of the DIVH for the IMINT sats. It would be interesting to see how long it take SpaceX to launch as compare to the ULA after the hardware arrived at the launch site.

2.  Also IIRC there was mention of a NRO payload that exceeded  the DIVH's current capability on the DIV wikipedia page. The NRO might just pay SpaceX $100M to test if the F9H is capable. After all 2 F9H is about half the cost of a single DIVH.

3.  So the possibility of a flyby mission to Eris in the next 20 years is little brighter with a future F9H topped with an AVUS.

1.  There is no backlog of DIVH missions at VAFB.  Anyways, Spacex's record for hardware on site to launch is nothing to brag about either.
Was referring to the interview General Carlson from the NRO did for the AFA
  http://www.afa.org/events/conference/2010/scripts/AFA-100913-Carlson.pdf (http://www.afa.org/events/conference/2010/scripts/AFA-100913-Carlson.pdf)
about more frequent launches and new launch providers.

Quote
2.  Wiki is a source?
Not really. But see pg 7 of the following from Rand.
  http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG503.pdf (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2006/RAND_MG503.pdf).

Quote
3.  AVUS is not going to fly on a F9H.
The AVUS should fitted on the F9H with a new rear assembly, unless it isn't a technical matter.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/02/2011 04:27 pm

1.about more frequent launches and new launch providers.

2.  Not really. But see pg 7 of the following from Rand.

3.The AVUS should fitted on the F9H with a new rear assembly, unless it isn't a technical matter.

1.  I see nothing in there about your point about losing patience.

2.  The document is 5 years old.  Delta IV now has the capability

3.  It isn't a technical matter, Spacex is not going to put another contractor's upperstage on its vehicles

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/03/2011 01:26 am
It’s not the US launch companies that are worried about Space X prices, but Arianespace and Energia. That is who Space X is competing for directly for launches of commercial satellites. Commercial satellites companies choose launchers primarily based on price mixed with insurance costs (which is another way to say is it reliable enough that someone will insure it at a reasonable rate) and flexible payment options. SpaceX has the competitive price, reasonable insurance rates and a vendor financed option at a very low 2.5% interest rate. When looking at other providers SpaceX is at the forefront of the satellite companiy’s list. Commercial satellite companies choose their boosters 3 to 5 years in advance of the launch so in 2015 SpaceX will probably have as much business as it can handle between NASA COTS and commercial satellite launches. In June of 2010 SpaceX had a schedule showing an average of 5 F9 flights a year. Now its schedule shows an average of 7 a year for each year beginning 2013. I wonder what the schedule will look like in January 2012. Will we see another addition of 2 flights a year for 2014.

Governments choose boosters based first on nationality then reliability followed by price. So the US government would choose the US company with the most reliable boosters first over price unless the price difference is large and the reliability difference is small. SpaceX is making inroads here if they can show they have a highly reliable booster they will then be the preferred provider because of price when reliability is roughly equal. It will take at least by 2012 (or 5 to 10 launches no mission failures) with no significant F9 failures for the US government to consider SpaceX as reliable as its current providers. It’s all a matter of “prove it”, for the one’s signing the check. When there was no one else there wasn’t a need to “prove it” because the pick was more of an “it’s the only game in town so live with it”. We see this booster picking by the US government already as it relates to Delta IV and Atlas V with both roughly having equal reliability and where capability is met by both the cheaper (Atlas V) is usually chosen.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/03/2011 02:21 am
F9 major competition for US government satellites is the Atlas V which has a near spotless record. For F9 to become the preferred it too would have to have a near spotless record for the same approximate number of launches which would occur somewhere around 2016. Because F9 is projected to have twice the Atlas V launches by 2014 F9 will catch up to Atlas V’s total launches by 2016. So for the foreseeable future Space X F9 is not going to displace the existing booster as far as the US government is concerned. Not so for the DIVH and the F9H. The current total of DIVH launches is low enough that reliability numbers are still guesses based on the reliability of the single core launches. It’s possible that by 2014 the F9H could become the preferred launcher sooner than when the F9 would displace the Atlas V for similar size payloads. But even if the F9 does displace the Atlas V for the 10MT class payloads the larger payloads less than 20MT would still fly the Atlas V because there is no other option other than using a F9H where there is not a lot of price advantage when flying a smaller payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/03/2011 05:20 am
Because F9 is projected to have twice the Atlas V launches by 2014 F9 will catch up to Atlas V’s total launches by 2016.
Scheduled and what they actually fly has been a challenge. If they don't ramp up, we will not see the cross over in 2016.

Quote
Not so for the DIVH and the F9H. The current total of DIVH launches is low enough that reliability numbers are still guesses based on the reliability of the single core launches.


Will the FH without an LH upper really be able to beat the Delta Heavy in throw mass to HEO? GSO? That is where most of the Delta Heavy's have gone. Maybe the Vandenberg LEO Polar launches, but they are rare.

Quote
But even if the F9 does displace the Atlas V for the 10MT class payloads the larger payloads less than 20MT would still fly the Atlas V because there is no other option other than using a F9H where there is not a lot of price advantage when flying a smaller payload.

It is also possible that the Falcon Heavy will become competitive with the lessor Atlas V 5x1 vehicles. I think there is more of a chance than it displacing Delta IV heavy launches. That is where I see SpaceX being able to take away launches from ULA. They are going for the Com. GEO market, which ULA is not competitive in.

So honestly, I see if they succeed being able to capture launches that would have flown on non US providers. I do think your spot on about it will be 3-5 years before we see SpaceX flying these payloads in large numbers.

Also, I thought the DOD was buying single core Delta IV's and it was only NASA buying exclusively Atlas V's. If memory serves Delta IV is not currently offered on NASA's NLS contract.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Carl G on 04/03/2011 03:36 pm
SpaceX specific or your off topic and will be deleted.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/03/2011 06:07 pm
  Not so for the DIVH and the F9H. The current total of DIVH launches is low enough that reliability numbers are still guesses based on the reliability of the single core launches.


Also, I thought the DOD was buying single core Delta IV's and it was only NASA buying exclusively Atlas V's. If memory serves Delta IV is not currently offered on NASA's NLS contract.

The Air Force recognizes that if it doesn’t fly some Delta IV’s the total costs will be higher. Economies of scale affect both the cost of Delta IV and Delta IV Heavy since they share cores and upper stages. So buying some regular Delta IV’s the Air Force saves money since it has to fly the Delta IV Heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/03/2011 06:18 pm
SpaceX wouldn't need to catch up to Atlas V, just get to some reasonable number of consecutive successful F9's, say >6, even after a failure if the total is still >90% (higher depending on the customer).  Those types of things would prove SpaceX's processes.

However, there would have to be some consideration of the commonality from flight to flight when considering whether multiple successes proved the hardware if what flew on the last success is a lot different than what flew on the first one.  Continual major changes prevent the unquantifiable comfort that unknown unknowns aren't buried somewhere in the design.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/03/2011 06:32 pm
However, there would have to be some consideration of the commonality from flight to flight when considering whether multiple successes proved the hardware if what flew on the last success is a lot different than what flew on the first one.  Continual major changes prevent the unquantifiable comfort that unknown unknowns aren't buried somewhere in the design.
If the main changes from Block I to Block II are the engines, and they do a very thorough qualification process, it shouldn't be a problem, right? After all the D4H is flying live cargo with the new RS-68A.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/03/2011 07:02 pm
Continual major changes prevent the unquantifiable comfort that unknown unknowns aren't buried somewhere in the design.

I was going to ask this, but see baldusi already did. How much of that unquantifiable comfort is lost when an upgraded engine is flown? This obviously concerns both Delta IV and F9 in the near future.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jryodabobs on 04/03/2011 10:41 pm
Continual major changes prevent the unquantifiable comfort that unknown unknowns aren't buried somewhere in the design.

I was going to ask this, but see baldusi already did. How much of that unquantifiable comfort is lost when an upgraded engine is flown? This obviously concerns both Delta IV and F9 in the near future.
Folks, "unquantifiable" means just that. Much (too much) in the space "business" depends on unquantifiables, and it just wastes time to try to quantify such things by asking how much is lost by . . . (fill in the blank). Engineers and managers very quickly get past the knowns. The rest is "gut feel" by experienced people. If you can't accept that as the answer, and the way things are done in the space business, you are in the wrong business - or assessing the wrong business from the outside.

Bob S.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/03/2011 11:02 pm
If the main changes from Block I to Block II are the engines, and they do a very thorough qualification process, it shouldn't be a problem, right?

Yes....
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 04/04/2011 06:33 am
If the main changes from Block I to Block II are the engines, and they do a very thorough qualification process, it shouldn't be a problem, right?

Yes....

Sorry, can I clarify it that's "yes, it shouldn't be a problem" or "yes, it is still a problem"?

Thanks, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Dave G on 04/04/2011 10:45 am
If the main changes from Block I to Block II are the engines, and they do a very thorough qualification process, it shouldn't be a problem, right? After all the D4H is flying live cargo with the new RS-68A.

This is a very interesting topic.

In general, I think commercial companies will be much more inclined to make changes more frequently, optimizing for reliability, cost, and performance. 

But if they change the engine, do they just re-test the engine block, or do they need another test flight? 

Let's not forget what happened with Falcon 1 flight 3.  That was the first flight with Merlin-1C.  The new regeneratively cooled engine design caused residual fuel burning in stage 1 at low pressure after the engine was cut off.  This caused a bad separation event, so Falcon 1 flight 3 failed to reach orbit, all beacuse they used a new engine design that hadn't been flight tested.

With this in mind, I would say the Block II design would need a test flight before carrying any real payload.  Perhaps they could get enough flight data with Block II on a Falcon Heavy test flight to move it to Falcon 9?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/04/2011 12:50 pm
Let's not forget what happened with Falcon 1 flight 3.  That was the first flight with Merlin-1C.  The new regeneratively cooled engine design caused residual fuel burning in stage 1 at low pressure after the engine was cut off.  This caused a bad separation event, so Falcon 1 flight 3 failed to reach orbit, all beacuse they used a new engine design that hadn't been flight tested.

This was a serious process flaw on SpaceX's side. They didn't even run a full simulation of the launch trajectory. That's where qualification process failed. They should have recalculated staging events for new engines. I'm just stating a fact. I'm no engineer and I'm sure I would have done the same.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/04/2011 12:56 pm
This was a serious process flaw on SpaceX's side. They didn't even run a full simulation of the launch trajectory. That's where qualification process failed.

What does launch trajectory simulation have to do with residual thrust of a regen engine? If you're not aware of the tailoff characteristic, you cannot model it. And they didn't anticipate it and it was too weak to be detected at sea level.

Ariane 501 was just as much of a process error, and they had many more years of experience behind them.

Quote
They should have recalculated staging events for new engines. I'm just stating a fact. I'm no engineer and I'm sure I would have done the same.

Hindsight is always 20/20.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/04/2011 01:25 pm
I'll be very surprised if more than a dozen more Block I Falcon 9 flights are flown. I suspect that only 2-4 more will be flown. Block II is a major increase which they've been selling for quite a while.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 04/04/2011 01:59 pm
Any last minute speculation on what could be presented tomorrow?

It appears to be certain that it will be about Falcon Heavy mostly, but do you think they will announce something about the Raptor stage?

Or maybe something about their HEFT-entry? Or about DOD payloads?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 04/04/2011 02:28 pm
It appears to be certain that it will be about Falcon Heavy mostly, but do you think they will announce something about the Raptor stage?

I personally expect that Raptor will be mentioned as the next level upgrade to both the F9 and FH.

Quote
Or maybe something about their HEFT-entry?

Elon might mention Falcon-XX, but I doubt it.  With SLS's final configuration still TBD and funding still TBC, it's still too far off to be a significant project.

Quote
Or about DOD payloads?

It is possible that DoD interest may be cited as the reason behind this move.  However, I consider it very unlikely that they have committed to a payload yet.  They might stump up some cash to support vehicle development (maybe in competition with the Kerolox Delta MHLV).  Nonetheless, I very much doubt that there is a payload for FH in the works.  I do not consider it likely that we will see even an announcement that a DoD payload will fly on a SpaceX vehicle of any kind for a few years yet. (Hey, Jim? What's the normal lead time for DoD payloads after the LV is booked?)

I do think it is possible that we might have some FH-launched crewed missions (to fly around the end of the decade) announced, either a lunar fly-around or lunar orbiter.  We also might hear more of what makes a BLEO Dragon and hear some more of Elon's thoughts on BLEO in general.


[edit]
Fixed a typo
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/04/2011 02:35 pm
5 year integration cycle for DOD payloads.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 04/04/2011 02:36 pm
5 year integration cycle for DOD payloads.

Based on this, I, for one, would be very surprised if a DoD payload flies on a SpaceX LV before 2018 at the very earliest.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 04/04/2011 03:17 pm
Based on this, I, for one, would be very surprised if a DoD payload flies on a SpaceX LV before 2018 at the very earliest.

Gives them plenty of time to build more infrastructure and production facilities, given their current schedule which is getting quite full.

Do you think by this time, Spacex will have developed Raptor?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 04/04/2011 03:26 pm
Do you think by this time, Spacex will have developed Raptor?

That's a toughie; Raptor is a very ambitious project for a company with no prior experience with hydrogen-fuelled engines.  IIRC, the target specs are 150klbf thrust and an Isp of 470s, making it one of the best all-round performance rocket engines in existance.

If they can find a source of funding and if they can snatch some hydrolox development talent from either PWR or Energomash, then they might get it operational by then.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/04/2011 04:00 pm
I don't see SpaceX having Raptor until the end of the decade, if ever. Strategically, it's more important than Heavy. But it's so difficult to develop and they have set the highest bar. If I'm not mistaken, they have set the bar at the highest isp achieved in hydrolox, and the thrust at what Wikipedia (I know ::)) says it's the top for an Expander Cycle engine is 300kN, less than half of what they want it to push. I simply don't know how they are going to achieve even 460s.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/04/2011 04:13 pm
A swap over from one LV to another can be done in as little as 18 months. I have seen this done and been a part of the LV side of the integration effort. It was a DOD black program that had plenty of funds and whose major goal was meeting schedule. The LV’s were similar like what would be involved in going from a DIVH to a FH.

There are three major challenges in swapping LV’s at a late stage in the payload development cycle:

1) Is the dynamic vibration environment similar enough that only minor if any payload design changes are required or the payload’s design includes enough margins that the new LV vibration environment is covered? This is probably the number one reason why swapping LV’s at a late stage is not done. Changing from a vibration environment of three engine cryo to a 27 engine RP-1 could be a real challenge that is insurmountable.

2) Payload software must be changed for the new set of boost events and accelerations and timing expected along with validation of the software changes. It may sound trivial but it is not, as well as being expensive if software validation has already been done for this.

3) EM spectrum and comm compatibility between payload and LV. Here some adaptation can be done but requires testing which can be very expensive.

I looked through the DIV user guide and F9 user guide Payload Environments section and there is similarity enough in the static, dynamic and acoustic environments that a swap over would not be too much of a problem leaving software and EM compatibility issues. EM is the most elusive because although it can be modeled there are major differences between an EM model and the actual hardware EM interaction. But any problem can be solved with enough money.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/04/2011 05:25 pm
A swap over from one LV to another can be done in as little as 18 months. I have seen this done and been a part of the LV side of the integration effort. It was a DOD black program that had plenty of funds and whose major goal was meeting schedule. The LV’s were similar like what would be involved in going from a DIVH to a FH.



Going from an Atlas E to Atlas H with stubby payloads is nowhere similar to DIVH to F9H with long payloads.

F9 environments haven't been validated.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/04/2011 05:31 pm

2) Payload software must be changed for the new set of boost events and accelerations and timing expected along with validation of the software changes. It may sound trivial but it is not, as well as being expensive if software validation has already been done for this.


Payloads have stopped looking at vehicle events and just look for separation breakwires.  If they need to do events before separation, the LV can send discretes.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RedLineTrain on 04/04/2011 06:53 pm
I understand that SpaceX has a number of flights on their manifest, and billions of potential future revenue once they actually start launching commerical payloads into space. Normally, you can't book that revenue unless you actually deliver some product.

This is true neither from a launch business nor financial accounting perspective.  Launchers receive progress payments and long-lead time products accrue revenues as they are built, but before they are delivered.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: A_M_Swallow on 04/04/2011 07:49 pm
Huge.  Hmm.  Is Bigelow preparing to announce the launch of a habitat in 3 to 4 years time?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/04/2011 08:07 pm
Why would Bigelow launch a habitat years before SpaceX or Boeing have an operational crew capsule?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jason1701 on 04/04/2011 10:48 pm
Bigelow is on the SpaceX manifest for a late 2014 hardware delivery. And 2015-16 is when the crew capsules should become operational.

That's a Sundancer, however.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/04/2011 11:47 pm
Bigelow is on the SpaceX manifest for a late 2014 hardware delivery. And 2015-16 is when the crew capsules should become operational.

So? That means virtually nothing. The first time Bigelow was on the SpaceX manifest was in....2004. On the Falcon 5. I find it quite possible that SpaceX might still launch an operational module for Bigelow at some point in the future. But commercial crew availability still isn't in the bag, and it would be a shock if such a date didn't keep sliding to the right at this point.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/05/2011 12:40 am
ATTN: Word has it there is going to be a CCDev-2 announcement by NASA on Wednesday, 6 April. If so, where is the media advisory? - Nasa Watch

I wonder now if there is anything more to the timing of the April 5th (tomorrow) Falcon Heavy announcement?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 01:43 am
No, unless someone illegally leaked something to SpaceX.  Bidders are told only a few hours before the public announcement - if that long.

SpaceX has been planning to launch Dragon on a single F9.  It would be a huge admission of underperformance if it suddenly needed an F27.

Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/05/2011 02:00 am
I was not implying that Dragon would launch on Falcon Heavy. It is interesting about the timing and that Spacex might combine the Heavy announcement with a CCDev 2 announcement.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Namechange User on 04/05/2011 02:03 am
I was not implying that Dragon would launch on Falcon Heavy. It is interesting about the timing and that Spacex might combine the Heavy announcement with a CCDev 2 announcement.

No, see Antares comment again.  SpaceX shouldn't know anything about CCDev-2 at this point. Why would you think they do and why would you assume that they would "announce" anything before NASA?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jimvela on 04/05/2011 04:02 am
I was not implying that Dragon would launch on Falcon Heavy. It is interesting about the timing and that Spacex might combine the Heavy announcement with a CCDev 2 announcement.

No, see Antares comment again.  SpaceX shouldn't know anything about CCDev-2 at this point. Why would you think they do and why would you assume that they would "announce" anything before NASA?

It wouldn't hurt to have two versions of the big announcement, one scripted for a CCDev 2 win, and one scripted otherwise.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jorge on 04/05/2011 04:15 am
I was not implying that Dragon would launch on Falcon Heavy. It is interesting about the timing and that Spacex might combine the Heavy announcement with a CCDev 2 announcement.

No, see Antares comment again.  SpaceX shouldn't know anything about CCDev-2 at this point. Why would you think they do and why would you assume that they would "announce" anything before NASA?

It wouldn't hurt to have two versions of the big announcement, one scripted for a CCDev 2 win, and one scripted otherwise.

Which one would they present, though? Antares' point stands: at the time SpaceX makes their Big Announcement of Falcon Heavy tomorrow, *they* *won't* *know* whether their CCDev-2 bid won or not.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/05/2011 04:21 am
I was not implying that Dragon would launch on Falcon Heavy. It is interesting about the timing and that Spacex might combine the Heavy announcement with a CCDev 2 announcement.

No, see Antares comment again.  SpaceX shouldn't know anything about CCDev-2 at this point. Why would you think they do and why would you assume that they would "announce" anything before NASA?

It wouldn't hurt to have two versions of the big announcement, one scripted for a CCDev 2 win, and one scripted otherwise.

Which one would they present, though? Antares' point stands: at the time SpaceX makes their Big Announcement of Falcon Heavy tomorrow, *they* *won't* *know* whether their CCDev-2 bid won or not.
I still don't think the date of announcement is a mistake, though. If selected, that would allow them to capitalize on the momentum. If not selected, the announcement would allow them to preemptively drum up some support in spite of losing. Makes sense to me. Of course, they don't know which of those they are doing before the 6th. SpaceX likes media attention, so they are maneuvering so that they can be in the spotlight either way. SpaceX's lobbyists are its fanbois.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ChefPat on 04/05/2011 12:35 pm

Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Does this statement have any purpose other than to insult contributors to this site?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris-A on 04/05/2011 01:43 pm
I’ll be disappointed if the press conference is only about F9H/FH and nothing else of significance. The recent commentary from Antares is spot on sadly.

Edit: Come to think of it, the recent Tesla/SpaceX event would have been a good place to show off Merlin 1D, if it exists in hardware form.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/05/2011 02:23 pm

Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Does this statement have any purpose other than to insult contributors to this site?

I thought it was quite insightful. Falcon Heavy is not for Dragon and most likely not for manned flight in general. It is for going after the payloads that Falcon 9 can not.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 04/05/2011 02:42 pm
ATTN: Word has it there is going to be a CCDev-2 announcement by NASA on Wednesday, 6 April. If so, where is the media advisory? - Nasa Watch

I wonder now if there is anything more to the timing of the April 5th (tomorrow) Falcon Heavy announcement?

It's also curious as to why they would choose the National Press Club as the venue for the announcement instead of say, someplace near Hawthorne CA. I guess no factory tours for the press to show actual components being manufactured then.

If Elon Musk wants to make a big splash, he should arrive in a Dragon capsule. Is the stage large enough to wheel one out with him inside ? Do they have one in a sufficient state of completeness to show a demo ?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/05/2011 02:51 pm

If Elon Musk wants to make a big splash, he should arrive in a Dragon capsule. Is the stage large enough to wheel one out with him inside ? Do they have one in a sufficient state of completeness to show a demo ?


Nah, he should land in one on the national mall lawn, then walk into the press conference...

btw. they removed the Falcon Heavy image from the right left corner of the website. Is this indication of a massive site update as soon as the conference concludes?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 03:18 pm
Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Does this statement have any purpose other than to insult contributors to this site?
I thought it was quite insightful.

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it insightful.  Starting with the Augustine Commission upheaval and every lurch in NASA's direction since then, the signal to noise of NSF has decreased.  There's a lot of conjecture by a handful of people who don't know what they are talking about and refuse to listen to people who do.  If I can shut them up and get them to listen, I will.  Most of the contributors and readers at NSF are great.  However, a vocal few base their arguments on stereotyped notions of how industry and politics work and on faith and assumptions that NASA or a company must have done this or must not have done that without knowledge of the actual happening.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/05/2011 03:34 pm
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it insightful.  Starting with the Augustine Commission upheaval and every lurch in NASA's direction since then, the signal to noise of NSF has decreased.  There's a lot of conjecture by a handful of people who don't know what they are talking about and refuse to listen to people who do.  If I can shut them up and get them to listen, I will.  Most of the contributors and readers at NSF are great.  However, a vocal few base their arguments on stereotyped notions of how industry and politics work and on faith and assumptions that NASA or a company must have done this or must not have done that without knowledge of the actual happening.
I would love to have access to the cost structures and do a very thorough analysis of costs. I'm an economist and I specialize on new business development. Specially non conventional ones. So this seems like great. The big problem is that being foreign (and I like my nationality), I can speculate  :-[
In any case, some of the big issues here are about lack of proper information on one hand, and excess of documentation on the other. Getting to the source of costs structures, contracts, etc. is very difficult. And you have lot's and lot's of internal papers and trade studies. I think it was Plato that said that only one self can be the judge of what one wants, but only if he has full information. Given the complexity and breath of this issues, is really impossible for a democracy to make informed decisions. So I guess lot's of opinionated neophytes is still better than an apathetic public. You can get bad budgets with the former, you'd get no budget with the latter. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 05:36 pm
Concur.  There are some whose opinions are grounded in verifiable information and whose responses are measured.  Mostly, it's just that the tone is different when I first started commenting here.  Not as good, though it's still the best.  And now I'll stop talking about talking about spaceflight.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 05:43 pm

Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Does this statement have any purpose other than to insult contributors to this site?

I thought it was quite insightful. Falcon Heavy is not for Dragon and most likely not for manned flight in general. It is for going after the payloads that Falcon 9 can not.

Your statement is technically correct, but woefully lacks what has been beaten out of most HSF enthusiasts by ULA et al that you should not have a vision about HSF. FH is indeed designed to take a Dragon capsule to the Moon AND MARS! All you have to do is read Spacex.com and look at the fact that the Dragon was designed for the Moon and Mars, that it was designed to work with a Falcon 9 and that the Falcon Heavy is basically 3 F9's strapped together. Nothing here precludes a Dragon capsule on a FH.

I suspect that any Mars mission envisioned by Mr. Musk will be a multi-launch, rendezvous in orbit for the trip to Mars type.

It is true that right now, the FH is going for the business case of launching satellites at $1000/Kg, but Musk has stated that HIS goal is not commercial launching, but Human Space Flight!

Yes I am a proud Fanboi, get over it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/05/2011 05:49 pm

Cue the fanbois and their BEO Dragon comments.
Does this statement have any purpose other than to insult contributors to this site?

I thought it was quite insightful. Falcon Heavy is not for Dragon and most likely not for manned flight in general. It is for going after the payloads that Falcon 9 can not.

Your statement is technically correct, but woefully lacks what has been beaten out of most HSF enthusiasts by ULA et al that you should not have a vision about HSF.
...
You are woefully wrong about ULA. ULA has presented some very ambitious HSF plans, especially the rather comprehensive lunar plan based on its proposed ACES upper stage (including an ACES-derived lander and propellant depot...). Quite visionary, in my opinion.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 06:09 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.
EELV – NASA/Air Force
Budget increase +30% to 1.74 Billion in FY2012
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA has 1 Billion / year subsidy to simply sustain the EELV program. Launch or no Launch
ULA 2012 at 1.74 Billion @ 4 launches = $435 Million / launch = No Vision for HSF.
Falcon Heavy ~125 Million / launch = Vision for HSF.
ULA relies on government. SpaceX relies on commercial launch market (they will live or die based on their services and success rate)
Look, you can create the most grandiose visions about the Moon, but if the price is the Moon you will not get off the Earth.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/05/2011 06:20 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.
EELV – NASA/Air Force
Budget increase +30% to 1.74 Billion in FY2012
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA has 1 Billion / year subsidy to simply sustain the EELV program. Launch or no Launch
ULA 2012 at 1.74 Billion @ 4 launches = $435 Million / launch = No Vision for HSF.
Falcon Heavy ~125 Million / launch = Vision for HSF.
ULA relies on government. SpaceX relies on commercial launch market (they will live or die based on their services and success rate)
Look, you can create the most grandiose visions about the Moon, but if the price is the Moon you will not get off the Earth.


How do this R&D by ULA fit into that?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19033.msg712566#msg712566

They might not be as aggressive as many would want, but they are making some effort. The P&W issue is big and they need an alternative.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: spacetraveler on 04/05/2011 06:30 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.

[snip]

Actually it appears to be just about you copying the info in the SpaceX press release/website on Falcon Heavy and presenting it as your own analysis rather than giving appropriate attribution.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/05/2011 06:38 pm
I suspect that any Mars mission envisioned by Mr. Musk will be a multi-launch, rendezvous in orbit for the trip to Mars type.

Musk has said several times that he thinks a 150 tonne rocket is desirable for Mars missions. Probably Mars missions could be done with FH, but they might be difficult due to size, volume or mass limits of the FH.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 06:39 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.

[snip]

Actually it appears to be just about you copying the info continued in the SpaceX press release/website on Falcon Heavy and presenting it as your own analysis rather than giving appropriate attribution.

I dont claim to be and to be clear I am not an engineer, I am a fanboi. I read analysis, I dont do analysis. So If I mislead let me appologize. I get all my information from the website of the companies I talk about (including ULA, and SpaceX). for future reference I dont have too many original thoughts of my own I am just not that smart. I just read the thoughts of people that are much smarter than me that have been published).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/05/2011 06:41 pm

ULA relies on government. SpaceX relies on commercial launch market


Most of Spacex money came from the US Govt
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 06:43 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.
EELV – NASA/Air Force
Budget increase +30% to 1.74 Billion in FY2012
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA has 1 Billion / year subsidy to simply sustain the EELV program. Launch or no Launch
ULA 2012 at 1.74 Billion @ 4 launches = $435 Million / launch = No Vision for HSF.
Falcon Heavy ~125 Million / launch = Vision for HSF.
ULA relies on government. SpaceX relies on commercial launch market (they will live or die based on their services and success rate)
Look, you can create the most grandiose visions about the Moon, but if the price is the Moon you will not get off the Earth.


How do this R&D by ULA fit into that?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19033.msg712566#msg712566

They might not be as aggressive as many would want, but they are making some effort. The P&W issue is big and they need an alternative.

Let me tell you what is interesting about your link. ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot. Do you think that without XCOR, ULA would have done something like this?

If you look you will also find plenty of electric car programs that are subsidized by the Oil companies. What does that mean? Nothing. It means that the big kids know how to spin media. I certainly hope that XCOR benefits from working with ULA. I am more than willing to wait and see if any new nozzle technology comes from this and will be the first to stand in line and whistle my approval.

It’s the old guards that have a hard time accepting changes, not fanboi’s like myself. I am all about change. If ULA (doubt it)… but let’s say if XCOR develops a new LOX/LH2 engine I will be screaming about how much I love them too.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Joris on 04/05/2011 06:45 pm
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here). This is not about me calling out ULA employees, this is about calling out ULA management.
EELV – NASA/Air Force
Budget increase +30% to 1.74 Billion in FY2012
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA has 1 Billion / year subsidy to simply sustain the EELV program. Launch or no Launch
ULA 2012 at 1.74 Billion @ 4 launches = $435 Million / launch = No Vision for HSF.
Falcon Heavy ~125 Million / launch = Vision for HSF.
ULA relies on government. SpaceX relies on commercial launch market (they will live or die based on their services and success rate)
Look, you can create the most grandiose visions about the Moon, but if the price is the Moon you will not get off the Earth.


How do this R&D by ULA fit into that?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=19033.msg712566#msg712566

They might not be as aggressive as many would want, but they are making some effort. The P&W issue is big and they need an alternative.

Let me tell you what is interesting about your link. ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot. Do you think that without XCOR, ULA would have done something like this?

If you look you will also find plenty of electric car programs that are subsidized by the Oil companies. What does that mean? Nothing. It means that the big kids know how to spin media. I certainly hope that XCOR benefits from working with ULA. I am more than willing to wait and see if any new nozzle technology comes from this and will be the first to stand in line and whistle my approval.

It’s the old guards that have a hard time accepting changes, not fanboi’s like myself. I am all about change. If ULA (doubt it)… but let’s say if XCOR develops a new LOX/LH2 engine I will be screaming about how much I love them too.


The ACES-derived-depot plan relies on comercial providers such as Spacex to provide the propellant.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/05/2011 06:47 pm

Let me tell you what is interesting about your link. ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.


ULA is commercial.

Boeing and Lockheed spent 3.5 billion developing the EELV's and the USAF only contributed 1 billion.  NASA has funded a larger portion of F9's development.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/05/2011 06:56 pm
I suspect that any Mars mission envisioned by Mr. Musk will be a multi-launch, rendezvous in orbit for the trip to Mars type.

Musk has said several times that he thinks a 150 tonne rocket is desirable for Mars missions. Probably Mars missions could be done with FH, but they might be difficult due to size, volume or mass limits of the FH.
He said if we wanted to do a lot of human missions to Mars, the larger vehicle made sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 06:57 pm
Quote
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here).
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.
If ULA (doubt it)…

These are precisely the type of baseless, stereotyped, superficial conspiracy-like statements that are destroying the dialogue for me.  YOU DON'T HAVE A SINGLE FACT TO BACK UP ANY OF THAT, NOR DO YOU HAVE THE EXPERIENCE TO KNOW YOU'RE WRONG.  You add no value to the discussion.  Please listen to people on all sides of the argument who ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 07:02 pm

Let me tell you what is interesting about your link. ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.


ULA is commercial.

Boeing and Lockheed spent 3.5 billion developing the EELV's and the USAF only contributed 1 billion.  NASA has funded a larger portion of F9's development.
You say that USAF contributed 1 Billion to ULA, but you don’t include how much NASA has contributed. Then you compare that with a simple statement that NASA has funded a larger portion of the F9 development (but you keep the numbers out).

Falcon 9 has cost an order of magnitude less than that. So even if I accept your less than complete statement about comparing costs here, Falcon 9 is still cheaper for the US than ULA’s Delta and Falcon Heavy is head and shoulder ahead of Delta or Atlas.

Without the US government ULA won’t last long in a competition with other launchers with their current costs. Without the US government SpaceX will continue (much, much slower) but it will continue. That is commercial.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 07:06 pm
Quote
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here).
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.
If ULA (doubt it)…

These are precisely the type of baseless, stereotyped, superficial conspiracy-like statements that are destroying the dialogue for me.  YOU DON'T HAVE A SINGLE FACT TO BACK UP ANY OF THAT, NOR DO YOU HAVE THE EXPERIENCE TO KNOW YOU'RE WRONG.  You add no value to the discussion.  Please listen to people on all sides of the argument who ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY.

First of all try and not pop a blood vessel, I am just stating my opinion without being rude to you. If you can only scream and yell, type in CAP’s then please go ahead and ignore my posts, if I am wrong, then show me.

Show me that ULA would have done that project without XCOR?

I have been waiting for "people that actually work in the industry" to come up with a way to get regular people into space since 1965. I am done waiting for them. They can spin in LEO for ever as far as I care. These same people have done nothing to impress me. Sorry.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/05/2011 07:12 pm
You say that USAF contributed 1 Billion to ULA, but you don’t include how much NASA has contributed. Then you compare that with a simple statement that NASA has funded a larger portion of the F9 development (but you keep the numbers out).

EELV was a DOD program, fund by Boeing/Lockheed and the DOD. Nasa had nothing to do with creation of either the Atlas V or Delta IV.

Actually in the threads somewhere is a story about Griffin (former NASA admin) pinning someone to the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs Astronauts would never fly on an EELV. All because he had a picture of OSP on top of an EELV on his wall.

EELV is a creature of the DOD, not NASA.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: baldusi on 04/05/2011 07:16 pm
ULA is commercial.

Boeing and Lockheed spent 3.5 billion developing the EELV's and the USAF only contributed 1 billion.  NASA has funded a larger portion of F9's development.
Just as an economic exercise, the question should be: how much did EELV got per USD, vs how much did SpaceX got per USD. In other words, EELV cost 1B of dev plus the fixed cost per years to get a certain marginal launch cost (can't remember, 10,000USD/kg? only launch costs here). SpaceX cost 500M of dev money and 0 fixed cost to get 8,000USD/kg to the ISS.
I would point out the reliability. So I'm not stating if one is cheaper or more expensive. I'm just trying to put it into a comparable framework.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/05/2011 07:18 pm
You say that USAF contributed 1 Billion to ULA, but you don’t include how much NASA has contributed.

Since when do you include a zero?

Then you compare that with a simple statement that NASA has funded a larger portion of the F9 development (but you keep the numbers out).

Exact numbers aren't public. As of a few months ago SpaceX had spent ~$800M (total company) and had gotten ~$400M from NASA.

Falcon 9 has cost an order of magnitude less than that. So even if I accept your less than complete statement about comparing costs here, Falcon 9 is still cheaper for the US than ULA’s Delta and Falcon Heavy is head and shoulder ahead of Delta or Atlas.

Except, of course, it doesn't have the same capabilities or flight history yet. I found it interesting in that GAO report that it appears the 'floor' for the F9 on NLS2 is about what an Atlas V 401 was under NLS1.

Show some proof for your assertions that a monopoly position is driving ULA cost increases.

Without the US government SpaceX will continue (much, much slower) but it will continue. That is commercial.

Not a given, they nearly went out of business even with COTS/CRS.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 07:19 pm
You say that USAF contributed 1 Billion to ULA, but you don’t include how much NASA has contributed. Then you compare that with a simple statement that NASA has funded a larger portion of the F9 development (but you keep the numbers out).

EELV was a DOD program, fund by Boeing/Lockheed and the DOD. Nasa had nothing to do with creation of either the Atlas V or Delta IV.

Actually in the threads somewhere is a story about Griffin (former NASA admin) pinning someone to the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs Astronauts would never fly on an EELV. All because he had a picture of OSP on top of an EELV on his wall.

EELV is a creature of the DOD, not NASA.
I stand corrected.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 04/05/2011 07:23 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12975872

Quote
>
CEO Elon Musk said the rocket would be made safe enough to launch people.

"It is designed to meet the Nasa human-rating standards," he said. "So, for example, it is designed to structural safety margins that are 40% above the actual flight loads it would expect to encounter."
>
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/05/2011 07:24 pm
...
Actually in the threads somewhere is a story about Griffin (former NASA admin) pinning someone to the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs Astronauts would never fly on an EELV. All because he had a picture of OSP on top of an EELV on his wall.
...
Wow, I missed that... Do you know where that is?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: apollolanding on 04/05/2011 07:29 pm
Quote
Without the US government SpaceX will continue (much, much slower) but it will continue. That is commercial.

I'm not a web sniper and I genuinely want SOMETHING BLEO: SLS, ULA, SpaceX  I really don't care.  I want boots and landers and rovers on the moon.  That being said... how do you know it will continue.  Where are the cash paying customers?  Cut off NASA development funds today with no future funding and Musk will file for bankrupcy protection long before NASA, Bigelow or anybody else has a payload demand for multiple FH launches.

Musk is throwing the "Hail Mary" pass here.  You're betting the life of a rocket company that has had cash troubles already on continuing longer than Boeing and LockMart?  Do you know how many NASA projects those companies have had terminated yet they continue to survive?  I'm all for new space, old space, any space but LEO but throwing out wild statements like that makes the non-industry members of this board (who read, listen and learn from the industry and science experts here) look plain silly.

(edited for formatting)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/05/2011 07:54 pm
Quote
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here).
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.
If ULA (doubt it)…

These are precisely the type of baseless, stereotyped, superficial conspiracy-like statements that are destroying the dialogue for me.  YOU DON'T HAVE A SINGLE FACT TO BACK UP ANY OF THAT, NOR DO YOU HAVE THE EXPERIENCE TO KNOW YOU'RE WRONG.  You add no value to the discussion.  Please listen to people on all sides of the argument who ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY.

So Antares, was his statement wrong? Does ULA not have a captive customer and enjoy something of a monopoly on its services?  Have they innovated and reduced costs - did we miss that somehow?

You don't have to ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY to have a vested interest in this - every tax paying American does.

While SpaceX has a long way to go to establish reliability, and to prove they can place payload at the quoted prices over the long run, you can't deny they've done some amazing things with far less money than the large prime contractors.

SpaceX will likely have some expensive failures in the coming years, as all space launch companies have. And they will likely acquire more fixed  costs as they gain new costumers. I'd be very surprised if the quoted prices hold up in five years. The again, I was very surprised to see back-to-back F9 successes.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jim on 04/05/2011 07:59 pm
  Have they innovated and reduced costs?


Yes, they have, but other forces have increased costs.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/05/2011 07:59 pm
...
Actually in the threads somewhere is a story about Griffin (former NASA admin) pinning someone to the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs Astronauts would never fly on an EELV. All because he had a picture of OSP on top of an EELV on his wall.
...
Wow, I missed that... Do you know where that is?

I would look in the Orbital, X-37 threads three to five years back... I think either Antonio or Gary Hudson relayed the story.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/05/2011 08:04 pm
  Have they innovated and reduced costs?
Yes, they have, but other forces have increased costs.

Will those same forces bear on SpaceX if they launch the same payloads? Could you elaborate? (i understrand there's probably a lot you can't share)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/05/2011 08:11 pm
EELV were hit pretty hard by the PWR engine price increases, apparently. RD-180 isn't getting cheaper either - that's capitalism for you...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Calorspace on 04/05/2011 08:30 pm
ULA must be devastated but at least they have had a good run up until now and made decent profit from the position they were in. The best outcome is that they take this as an opportunity to actually invest some time and money into developing ways of competing with what SpaceX is planning to do
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/05/2011 08:32 pm
Yout think they were NOT trying to be more competitive even before? That they just chose to ignore the commercial comsat market?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Calorspace on 04/05/2011 08:36 pm
Yout think they were NOT trying to be more competitive even before? That they just chose to ignore the commercial comsat market?

They were being competitive in relation to other providers available, now a new provider is on the scene that has set the new standard. They will have to adapt and change
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 08:38 pm
Quote
Sorry, I am not wrong about ULA (with all due respect to all ULA employees here).
No competition. Lockheed & Boeing = ULA = Monopoly. No incentive to reduce cost or innovate.
ULA would never have done something like that if the commercial kids didn’t come in and stir the pot.
If ULA (doubt it)…

These are precisely the type of baseless, stereotyped, superficial conspiracy-like statements that are destroying the dialogue for me.  YOU DON'T HAVE A SINGLE FACT TO BACK UP ANY OF THAT, NOR DO YOU HAVE THE EXPERIENCE TO KNOW YOU'RE WRONG.  You add no value to the discussion.  Please listen to people on all sides of the argument who ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY.

First of all try and not pop a blood vessel, I am just stating my opinion without being rude to you. If you can only scream and yell, type in CAP’s then please go ahead and ignore my posts, if I am wrong, then show me.

No, that's the point.  You state opinion with nothing to back it up.  Burden of proof is on those claiming something.  "I am not wrong about ULA.... No incentive to reduce cost.... ULA would never have done something like that...."  You are both wrong and clueless.  If you have data to back up any of that, post it.  Conveniently, you post in negatives and about culture, both of which are exceedingly hard to prove.

When you deign to stop being extremely insulting to anyone working at ULA, you cost conspiracy nuts should google EELV "should cost"
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Antares on 04/05/2011 08:40 pm
You don't have to ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY to have a vested interest in this - every tax paying American does.

It's not about having a vested interest.  It's about having real knowledge upon which to craft an argument, not cynical suppositions about how industry and government work.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/05/2011 08:47 pm
You don't have to ACTUALLY WORK IN THE INDUSTRY to have a vested interest in this - every tax paying American does.

It's not about having a vested interest.  It's about having real knowledge upon which to craft an argument, not cynical suppositions about how industry and government work.

Great, so offer some real facts over and above the price increases we can read in the news. Or do you want us to take your word on faith?

I understand how someone who ACTUALLY WORKS IN THE INDUSTRY can have their perceptions colored, especially if their job depends on it, and loose sight of the big picture.

Believe me, I'm just as skeptical of SpaceX's long term pricing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 09:18 pm
Antares, first let me back off and say again, I am sorry if anything I say is actually hurtful to people that work there. That is not my intention; I am simply frustrated and out of patience.

Several people have asked me to prove my statement that ULA is a monopoly that they are not going to innovate and reduce costs.

As I have stated I am not an engineer or in the space flight business. All I can go with is the fact that the cost of launching to space for ULA has gone up (NEVER down). How is it possible that as a technology matures, it costs more?

Its like saying I am buying a top of the line, state of the art computer in 2000, by 2004 the same computer now costs 30% more. This will never ever happen in a competitive market. In a monopoly, yes.

Nate_Trost in his post stated that SpaceX has spent ~$800M and has got ~$400 million from NASA, yet ULA gets 1 Billion a year just to keep EELV alive weather they launch or not. How is comparing these two even fair?
Anyway, I cant prove ULA is a monopoly, all I can say is that without ULA, the United Stated launch capability is practically zero. My dad used to say, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it’s a duck.

ULA has no incentive to get cheaper, because everything they want, they get. So hey I am just going to wait here for them to surprise the hell out of me. Believe me though, if ULA wanted to, they could have already dropped the price down, rather than wait for SpaceX heavy to come along and make ULA prices become embarrassing.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Downix on 04/05/2011 09:41 pm
Antares, first let me back off and say again, I am sorry if anything I say is actually hurtful to people that work there. That is not my intention; I am simply frustrated and out of patience.

Several people have asked me to prove my statement that ULA is a monopoly that they are not going to innovate and reduce costs.

As I have stated I am not an engineer or in the space flight business. All I can go with is the fact that the cost of launching to space for ULA has gone up (NEVER down). How is it possible that as a technology matures, it costs more?

Its like saying I am buying a top of the line, state of the art computer in 2000, by 2004 the same computer now costs 30% more. This will never ever happen in a competitive market. In a monopoly, yes.

Nate_Trost in his post stated that SpaceX has spent ~$800M and has got ~$400 million from NASA, yet ULA gets 1 Billion a year just to keep EELV alive weather they launch or not. How is comparing these two even fair?
Anyway, I cant prove ULA is a monopoly, all I can say is that without ULA, the United Stated launch capability is practically zero. My dad used to say, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it’s a duck.

ULA has no incentive to get cheaper, because everything they want, they get. So hey I am just going to wait here for them to surprise the hell out of me. Believe me though, if ULA wanted to, they could have already dropped the price down, rather than wait for SpaceX heavy to come along and make ULA prices become embarrassing.
I have run into situations before where as a market matures costs goes up.  This occurs in low-volume industries primarily, where resources are limited and access restricted.  SpaceX has suffered the same creeping cost syndrome as well for the same reasons.  Frankly, none of our launch systems gets enough use to make cost reductions.  The overhead keeps growing, but the volume of service does not keep up.  This is one of the reasons why AJAX is the way it is, to push the volume up.  If we do not get ULA to the point that it is able to produce enough, no other business will ever make it either.  There just is not enough demand.

SpaceX needs volume, and so long as the volume is not there, their costs will rise just as ULA's has.  AJAX, by tripling CCB production, would bring ULA to the point that it could commoditize costs, with the reduction in prices coming along with it.  This would, however, also reduce SpaceX's costs as well over the longer term, by increasing access to the market, and reducing overhead costs in Florida and VAFB thanks to this.  I see issues with the market, and focus on that is high in my list.  Unless we can increase ULA's volume, noone will ever pull off the volume we need I fear.

Why ULA vs SpaceX?  Government integration.  ULA is well designed and set up for such an operation, SpaceX is not.  However, this would push SpaceX forward as well, as it would push CCDev ahead.  There's a lot going on in my head, which will be out soon, that would be of help for all US based space companies.  Now to get people to listen.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 10:16 pm
It’s a chicken and egg argument. Obviously if your costs are high and nobody comes forth (a university, Bigelow, TV shows, etc…) to buy your launch services, how can you ever then reduce your costs? And, if your costs are going up because there needs to be more volume why is there a ULA in existence?

In business there is a thing called a lost leader. That is as a business you decide that hey, I am going to lose money every time somebody buys this item. Why would you do that as a business? Because once you spur buying from your lost leader, people are more likely to buy other services or products that you are providing. They are there at your site (or store), and they figure they may as well buy your other products.

So if somebody like SpaceX doesn’t come along and say I am going to launch for 1000/kg or pound (or whatever), nobody else that is launching will voluntarily reduce their prices. That’s why I called ULA a monopoly. If there was no Apple, you can bet your bottom dollar that Microsoft will never reduce their prices.

So now, the game changer is SpaceX. They are going to shake up the market. They are going to say things that are hard to swallow for their competitors. How can SpaceX do that? Because they are staffed with young engineers (average age at SpaceX is slightly less than some of my shoes) that want to get US (us and US) into space. They are tired of waiting for some corporation to “voluntarily” reduce their prices. They figure they will make their money once their company goes public during the IPO.

Department of Defense has to reduce their costs (I pray for the Tea Party every night). Everybody has to reduce their budget in our government. So they will look and say: well lets try these guys and see if we can save ourselves $1 Billion dollars this year and see how things go (is it a risk? Yes, but a calculated risk).

Once the DoD switches, then a few universities will say: well we can afford to do a launch or two at these prices. Maybe Bigelow says; let me try these guys out. Maybe India says: for these prices maybe we can get a few of our own astronauts (and of course Pakistan will have to follow suit as well)…

What I am trying to say is that there was a very small market for computers back in the late 70s and early 80s. If we had to buy a computer from IBM this world would have been very different. But Microsoft came along and said: we can build computers cheaper than IBM and we are not even sure what they can be used for. But people said for that low price I can do X, Y, and Z with a PC. hence an industry was created.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/05/2011 10:25 pm
here's why I think SpaceX's prices will rise substantially in the future (if it suceeds as a company);

1) the creeping costs Downix mentions above. Also, possible launch failures that wreck havoc with schedules, and increased infrastructure and employees to cover the varied customers.

2) when SpaceX is a publicly traded company, responsible to the shareholders and board, with an established market share and track record, they will raise prices to whatever the market will bear. Even if they could launch for 1/3 the price of their competitors they will still charge whatever the market can bear - it would be fiscally irresponsible (to their shareholders) not to.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 04/05/2011 11:45 pm
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/05/2011 11:51 pm
This will be true if-and only if- SpaceX will be the only game in town, just like ULA is the only game in town now.

It wont be. This is what the change right now that is happening in NASA is all about. Why should NASA switch from ULA to SpaceX if they are both beholden to their share holders? They shouldn’t. They should switch if the way business is done also changes.

If SpaceX starts to raise costs for profitability, then NASA switches to the next stud. It’s a game, and you have to play it if you want to save money.

A good portion of my time at work is spent making sure that my suppliers are never comfortable. Just as SpaceX is making ULA sweat, in a few years, you make SpaceX sweat in the same way.

I am not a SpaceX fanboi because I like the word “SpaceX” or I like Mr. Musk. I don’t know Mr. Musk, and SpaceX is just some letters. What I like is a fixed cost aggressive company that is hungry. There are plenty of those in a commercially competitive environment.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/06/2011 12:12 am
A good portion of my time at work is spent making sure that my suppliers are never comfortable. Just as SpaceX is making ULA sweat, in a few years, you make SpaceX sweat in the same way.

Yeah, lets make them sweat and push costs and oversight down until we lose a $2 billion national security asset that the government self insures. I like that plan. You seem to have a presumption that all the cost drivers come from the vendor (ULA) side. If SpaceX has to build VIF style facilities at each coast to process theoretical NRO payloads, for instance, what do you think that does to their costs to the government?

I think you are actively offending the pros on the forum through loud opinions conflated with facts and presumed applicability of your own domain experience into an area you in your own admission know little about. Instead of asking questions to enlighten yourself, you are throwing absolutist statements around and getting offended when your bluster doesn't get patiently spoon-fed responses to issues and realities that have been discussed in depth in this forum over the years.

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/06/2011 12:39 am
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 04/06/2011 12:44 am

What I am trying to say is that there was a very small market for computers back in the late 70s and early 80s. If we had to buy a computer from IBM this world would have been very different. But Microsoft came along and said: we can build computers cheaper than IBM and we are not even sure what they can be used for. But people said for that low price I can do X, Y, and Z with a PC. hence an industry was created.

That's not even close.

Microsoft doesn't build computers. IBM designed a computer with an open archectiture, using commodity components. They partnered with MS to build an OS for the new PC. IBM does HW, MS does software.

Because the original PC was built with commodity parts, it was easy for the clone market to develop, using the same Intel processors and a compatible version of the MS operating system.

IBM tried to go back to the proprietry route with the PS/2 and OS/2 operating system and failed.

None of this analogy fits the space business because there is no such thing as commodity hardware in the space business.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/06/2011 12:45 am
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

ULA isn't his only competitor. He'll keep them below the price his other low price competitors.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 04/06/2011 01:11 am
my guess he will keep them low enough to keep the market flourishing..right now high cost is keeping out some ideas from being tried.. curious to see what that "happy price" will be in the end..assuming FH is successful of course
my 2 cents
jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: pummuf on 04/06/2011 01:48 am
EELV were hit pretty hard by the PWR engine price increases, apparently. RD-180 isn't getting cheaper either - that's capitalism for you...
Out of curiosity, how is P&W marketing the RD-0146 in the US?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jorge on 04/06/2011 01:58 am
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

ULA isn't his only competitor. He'll keep them below the price his other low price competitors.

Right. He'll have to decide how far down he's willing to chase ILS. They reportedly have healthy margins on Proton and could drop their prices quite a bit.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: NotGncDude on 04/06/2011 02:43 am
...
Actually in the threads somewhere is a story about Griffin (former NASA admin) pinning someone to the wall and screaming at the top of his lungs Astronauts would never fly on an EELV. All because he had a picture of OSP on top of an EELV on his wall.
...
Wow, I missed that... Do you know where that is?

I would look in the Orbital, X-37 threads three to five years back... I think either Antonio or Gary Hudson relayed the story.

I believe the original story is with Dan Goldin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mlorrey on 04/06/2011 04:11 am
Also one of the admin can please let me know if I have to be in the space industry to write my opinions on these boards. If so, I will gladly stop writing and move on.


Don't worry about it, Ray, there are two space industries, OldSpace and NewSpace. The OldSpace curmudgeons have been trashing SpaceX since day one, and every time they are proven wrong, they aren't cowed from continuing to denigrate the company's future plans or claims.

The Cape's standing army has a lot of people in it that look at SpaceX as the architect of their unemployment, rather than themselves treating the national space program as their own jobs program and cost-plus cash cow being the cause of their own obsolescence.

There are plenty of us here who have been saying the same things you are, for quite a while. Some people listen, others dont want to hear it, and will never hear it, even on the day that a NASA mission lands on Mars and is videotaped by a CNN or FOX crew that got there first on a SpaceX mission.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: newtype_alpha on 04/06/2011 04:13 am
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

I think if Elon is smart, he will keep the prices down with the intention of driving them all out of business so he can eventually force them to liquidate their assets and build his company into a space-launch monopoly. Think about it: if the Falcon-Heavy really does put more payload into orbit for lower cost than ULA's rockets, there'd be no logical reason for anyone to buy services from ULA; sooner or later even the DoD would come around. When the Atlas and Deltas see their flight rates drop, profitability becomes impossible and they either shutter their businesses or sell their hardware to SpaceX to cover their losses. They also stand to scoop up business from all the other commercial space venders--Orbital Sciences, for example--that have spacecraft on the drawing board but no proven launch vehicles to speak of.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/06/2011 04:41 am
2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

I think if Elon is smart, he will keep the prices down with the intention of driving them all out of business so he can eventually force them to liquidate their assets and build his company into a space-launch monopoly. Think about it: if the Falcon-Heavy really does put more payload into orbit for lower cost than ULA's rockets, there'd be no logical reason for anyone to buy services from ULA; sooner or later even the DoD would come around. When the Atlas and Deltas see their flight rates drop, profitability becomes impossible and they either shutter their businesses or sell their hardware to SpaceX to cover their losses. They also stand to scoop up business from all the other commercial space venders--Orbital Sciences, for example--that have spacecraft on the drawing board but no proven launch vehicles to speak of.
Won't happen. Military space needs multiple launch vehicles, so would subsidize another launcher if no other choice (NASA wants multiple launch providers, but the need isn't as pressing nor the funding as certain.) Foreign companies will be propped up by their respective governments, so can provide commercial competition at almost any price. SpaceX doesn't have the deep pockets that such an operation would require (and anti-trust laws would likely prohibit it if they did use deep pockets for such a purpose). And the other launch companies will not take this lying down. Remember, SpaceX has only two successful Falcon 9 launches so far. With a different engine. And the per-launch cost isn't that far from an Atlas V with a couple solids (for instance), so ULA has a chance even at SpaceX's optimistic numbers. (Customers pay per-launch, not per-kg... Launch vehicles aren't infinitely fungible.) Lockheed is already working on a reusable flyback booster stage.

Plus there's the small market that Orbital is king of on the domestic side.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jkew on 04/06/2011 06:13 am
And the per-launch cost isn't that far from an Atlas V with a couple solids (for instance), so ULA has a chance even at SpaceX's optimistic numbers. (Customers pay per-launch, not per-kg... Launch vehicles aren't infinitely fungible.) Lockheed is already working on a reusable flyback booster stage.

This last bit is important, in many ways it is very difficult to launch multiple payloads to take advantage of the extra lift capability. Where they can't easily bid on the ability to reliably meet DOD requirements I would not be surprised to see announcements to at least match Spacex capabilities.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/06/2011 06:32 am

2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

I think if Elon is smart, he will keep the prices down with the intention of driving them all out of business so he can eventually force them to liquidate their assets and build his company into a space-launch monopoly. Think about it: if the Falcon-Heavy really does put more payload into orbit for lower cost than ULA's rockets, there'd be no logical reason for anyone to buy services from ULA; sooner or later even the DoD would come around. When the Atlas and Deltas see their flight rates drop, profitability becomes impossible and they either shutter their businesses or sell their hardware to SpaceX to cover their losses. They also stand to scoop up business from all the other commercial space venders--Orbital Sciences, for example--that have spacecraft on the drawing board but no proven launch vehicles to speak of.

I hope it never comes down to just SpaceX. I don’t want there to be just one launcher for our country. Any business needs to have at least 3 suppliers (for anything including launchers). Imagine my surprise when US has two launchers; Lock Mart and Boeing and then allows them to become one?!?

I mean two is not even enough, but say you have two launchers that you can bid down against each other to keep your costs low and you actually allow them to combine and become one vendor that now nobody competes with? My God what kind of grass were these guys smoking that allowed this?

Its simple business. You have 3 vendors, things are great (even contingency for an emergency). You have two vendors, things are OK. You have one vendor; and you can just bend over and kiss your butt goodbye. Now just replace the word vendor with what ever you want including launchers.

I don’t want to hear this nonsense that the space business is different! B.S., Business is business. You can sell the paper you put on the crapper, or you sell heart valves, the same exact process holds true.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 04/06/2011 07:02 am
I mean two is not even enough, but say you have two launchers that you can bid down against each other to keep your costs low and you actually allow them to combine and become one vendor that now nobody competes with? My God what kind of grass were these guys smoking that allowed this?

The alternative was not that both would keep offering launches.

And launchers are subject to failure that can lead to long outages - two launchers with minimal commonality provides assured access.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 04/06/2011 07:05 am
2) when SpaceX is a publicly traded company, responsible to the shareholders and board, with an established market share and track record, they will raise prices to whatever the market will bear. Even if they could launch for 1/3 the price of their competitors they will still charge whatever the market can bear - it would be fiscally irresponsible (to their shareholders) not to.

Elon mentioned 10 FH launches per year. There aren't currently 10 DIVH class launches per year, so this will only happen if he expands the market.

He's trying to own a new market, not just compete in the old one. But you're right, Western shareholders are pants at recognising such an opportunity when there's a quick buck to be made by eg asset stripping.

cheers, Martin

PS I'm very conscious that industry insiders like Jim have rejected "build it and they will come" time and again, yet Elon claims interest from several parties to buy his launches.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Gravity Ray on 04/06/2011 07:13 am
...cheers, Martin

PS I'm very conscious that industry insiders like Jim have rejected "build it and they will come" time and again, yet Elon claims interest from several parties to buy his launches.

Dont need to go far, at $1,000/pound to LEO even I will be a paying customer, and I am sure I will be able to make money somewhere in that industry.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/06/2011 07:20 am
SpaceX is cheaper than all single satellite Ariane 5 launches, and possibly cheaper than the price of the heavier satellite in many dual satellite launches. If SpaceX can maintain their price then they can expect to get a large portion of the international commercial market. Assuming they do not dual manifest then that will be 6-12 launches.

2 DOD, 2 NASA + 6 commercial FH launches a year look at first sight achievable.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/06/2011 08:10 am
One interesting possibility that no-one seems to have mentioned is that the improved performance of Merlin 1d seems to allow enough margin for the 1st stage (strap-ons on FH) to become a fly-back booster and still give reasonable payload (~10 tonne for F9 and ~40 tonne for FH).

Fly-back would allow ~70% reduction in cost for F9 and ~50% reduction in cost for FH, though $/kg to LEO would not decrease by as much.

I don't expect this to happen soon, but it gives another option in SpaceX's drive to reduce launch costs. If $1000/lb is the mythical number, $1000/kg is the magic number and fly-back boosters would allow SpaceX to get pretty close.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Diagoras on 04/06/2011 08:11 am
A random, unsubstantiated comment from Reddit, FWIW:

Quote
I live about 10 minutes from SpaceX's test facility. I took this video last year of the Falcon 9 test. This was the rocket that successfully launched earlier this year. Very impressive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW_A4ua7p8M

Last week they ran a full 90 second, 9 engine test on their next rocket. It was nuts.

Did we know about this test? Can anyone confirm?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/06/2011 08:25 am
Check the date, it's F9-002 firing. The video was posted already.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/06/2011 08:28 am
Check the date, it's F9-002 firing. The video was posted already.

That is what Reddit said, the video is from last year, the 90 second firing was last week.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexterrell on 04/06/2011 08:28 am

2) presumes facts not in evidence - specifically that the will IPO. The more capability they can generate without doing one the less they need it.

OK, lets say there's no IPO, the F9 continues its good record of success and Musk's costs don't go up significantly. Do you think he'll keep prices far below his competitors out of the warm and fuzzy goodness of his heart?

I think if Elon is smart, he will keep the prices down with the intention of driving them all out of business so he can eventually force them to liquidate their assets and build his company into a space-launch monopoly. Think about it: if the Falcon-Heavy really does put more payload into orbit for lower cost than ULA's rockets, there'd be no logical reason for anyone to buy services from ULA; sooner or later even the DoD would come around. When the Atlas and Deltas see their flight rates drop, profitability becomes impossible and they either shutter their businesses or sell their hardware to SpaceX to cover their losses. They also stand to scoop up business from all the other commercial space venders--Orbital Sciences, for example--that have spacecraft on the drawing board but no proven launch vehicles to speak of.

I hope it never comes down to just SpaceX. I don’t want there to be just one launcher for our country. Any business needs to have at least 3 suppliers (for anything including launchers). Imagine my surprise when US has two launchers; Lock Mart and Boeing and then allows them to become one?!?

I mean two is not even enough, but say you have two launchers that you can bid down against each other to keep your costs low and you actually allow them to combine and become one vendor that now nobody competes with? My God what kind of grass were these guys smoking that allowed this?

Its simple business. You have 3 vendors, things are great (even contingency for an emergency). You have two vendors, things are OK. You have one vendor; and you can just bend over and kiss your butt goodbye. Now just replace the word vendor with what ever you want including launchers.

I don’t want to hear this nonsense that the space business is different! B.S., Business is business. You can sell the paper you put on the crapper, or you sell heart valves, the same exact process holds true.

The answer to this is to "globalize". The USA has only 3 suppliers of cars, but thanks to globalisation, you have a choice of a dozen suppliers.

If spaceX pushes all other US launchers out of business, they still won't raise prices significantly because:

1. The launch market is highly elastic (at least, Musk hopes it is) and SpaceX have more to gain from a massive market. Musk would rather make $10 million on 100 launches a year than $50 million on 10 launches.
2. If SpaceX starts to make too much money, the US might pass a law allowing in foreign competition. What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/06/2011 08:35 am
Check the date, it's F9-002 firing. The video was posted already.

That is what Reddit said, the video is from last year, the 90 second firing was last week.

In that case, last week would mean the planned 90 second firing (March 29 or thereabouts) that was cut short of the full 90 second duration.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/06/2011 08:57 am
Check the date, it's F9-002 firing. The video was posted already.

That is what Reddit said, the video is from last year, the 90 second firing was last week.

In that case, last week would mean the planned 90 second firing (March 29 or thereabouts) that was cut short of the full 90 second duration.

Its been reported that there have been 3 firings of this stage, 2 of which were cut short.

I've no way of knowing if there really have been 3 firings, if they are all of the same stage (though that seems highly likely) or if the firings were cut short for reasons to do with the stage or the ground support equipment.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/06/2011 09:01 am
Yes, 3 firings so far. The first was the 10 second one. So far their acceptance test plan always included two firings for the stages, one short one and a longer one.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/06/2011 09:11 am
...What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.

The Chinese will have to produce something like the Merlin engine first. Inexpensive, robust and simple.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: alexterrell on 04/06/2011 09:19 am
...What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.

The Chinese will have to produce something like the Merlin engine first. Inexpensive, robust and simple.
Dammit - where did I put that memory stick :)

Seriously though, China is rather good at "Inexpensive, robust and simple".
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/06/2011 09:24 am
New Test Plan Paves Way for Combined SpaceX COTS Demo

http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110404-plan-combined-spacex-cots-demo.html

Good article.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MadameConcorde on 04/06/2011 12:08 pm
I have a general question about Space X. I know they are private.

Who finances this company? Are they on the stock market?

They seem to have huge projects that cost billions.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: hyper_snyper on 04/06/2011 12:35 pm
They have private investors with some NASA seed money for COTS.  And Elon's bank account just in case.  There's been talk of an IPO, but who knows when that is going to happen.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Nate_Trost on 04/06/2011 01:12 pm
New Test Plan Paves Way for Combined SpaceX COTS Demo

http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110404-plan-combined-spacex-cots-demo.html

Good article.

Takeaway from that is COTS 2 is still NET 7/11, COTS 3 is NET 1/12, and a combined would be NET 11/11. Which of course raises the distinct possibility that if they are combined, we might not see a single Falcon 9 launch in 2011, unless CASSIOPE is actually ready to go this year.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: madscientist197 on 04/06/2011 02:01 pm
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it insightful.  Starting with the Augustine Commission upheaval and every lurch in NASA's direction since then, the signal to noise of NSF has decreased.  There's a lot of conjecture by a handful of people who don't know what they are talking about and refuse to listen to people who do.  If I can shut them up and get them to listen, I will.  Most of the contributors and readers at NSF are great.  However, a vocal few base their arguments on stereotyped notions of how industry and politics work and on faith and assumptions that NASA or a company must have done this or must not have done that without knowledge of the actual happening.

Yeah*, the Augustine Commission completely changed the tone on this board for the worse. Since then, we have had a number of contributors, e.g. Analyst and William Barton, either disappear completely or reduced to lurking out of frustration. For a while I've been seriously considering giving up on the board, too.

To a certain extent, I actually think that one of the biggest problems is that there are so many intelligent people on this board ;) People who are generally quite scientifically literate, often with engineering or other technical experience, but not generally spaceflight specific. These are people who are often problem solvers in their day jobs, and think they can contribute to solving the current problems with spaceflight. I'm not saying they're totally wrong, but perhaps not predisposed to being humble and not necessarily as knowledgeable in this specific area as they think.

Unfortunately, this is the sort of subject area prone to attracting fantasists. At heart, I'm one myself ;) But too often it leads to statements and conversations that have no basis in reality (particularly, if I may say so, in this section). When the ratio of space enthusiasts to professionals drops too low, ideas poorly grounded in reality seem to become self-reinforcing amongst forum members. I can only hope that we manage to retain space professionals as active posters, otherwise this forum will only become even more cringeworthy.

I think there's been two sides to this, though -- in reaction to these people, many of the space industry posters have become more cranky and dismissive. Sometimes the criticism hasn't always been fully justifiable -- although it is an understandable reaction to an extremely frustrating drop in SNR. I have a lot of respect for OV-106, but he is a good example of someone who has become very adversarial as a result.

I think frustration with the current situation has bred disrespect on both sides.


* 'Yeah' is not spelt 'yea'. The former is modern slang, the latter archaic English (as in 'Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil'). I see a lot of the latter on this board, I suspect unintentionally.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/06/2011 04:18 pm
New Test Plan Paves Way for Combined SpaceX COTS Demo

http://www.spacenews.com/civil/110404-plan-combined-spacex-cots-demo.html

Good article.

Takeaway from that is COTS 2 is still NET 7/11, COTS 3 is NET 1/12, and a combined would be NET 11/11. (snip)

Yes, I saw that too:
"Currently SpaceX’s remaining COTS demonstration flights are scheduled for July 2011 and January 2012, but (Doug) Cooke (NASA associate administrator for exploration systems) said if NASA approves the company’s proposal, “the combined mission could be flown as early as November 2011.”"

That seems to say that NASA won't just let COTS-2 approach ISS after completing is main mission in July, but will require a complete new mission plan.    It may also indicate that the COTS-2 vehicle has yet to include the berthing adapter.

Not that it matters, but I don't like this.  IMO soner is better.  It seems advantageous to both SpaceX and NASA to do as much as possible as soon as possible, like grappling the COTS-2 Dragon even if it can't be berthed.  Then if the next capsule had a full load of cargo, the difference between it being COTS-3 and CRS-1 is legal and financial, not technical.  Can someone say why this not the case?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/06/2011 04:27 pm
You're assuming C2 Dragon will be ready for prox ops out of the box. There's a reason a combined C2/C3 would move to the right and I don't think it's because of NASA's whim, rather because all the required hardware/software for that Last Mile (TM) will not have been tested by July.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 04/06/2011 04:31 pm
Not that it matters, but I don't like this.  IMO soner is better.  It seems advantageous to both SpaceX and NASA to do as much as possible as soon as possible, like grappling the COTS-2 Dragon even if it can't be berthed.  Then if the next capsule had a full load of cargo, the difference between it being COTS-3 and CRS-1 is legal and financial, not technical.  Can someone say why this not the case?

"“One of the longest poles in getting to the flight is finishing up all the rendezvous and proximity ops software and testing that with the hardware,” he said. "

Tests should be done July 2011, so it won't be possible to grapple the COTS-2 Dragon before about Nov 2011.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/06/2011 04:44 pm
Good point, Mike and ugordon.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: parham55 on 04/06/2011 08:10 pm
A bit of respect and polite courtesy would go a long way in improving this thread.  I've been around this forum for 4 years and will say a person can learn a lot by just reading and searching. When that fails, leading questions that include one's personal assumptions on the topic usually are answered in more detail than was asked for.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 04/06/2011 08:20 pm
Thread trimmed back for being off topic, and absolutely disrespectful - which I really can't stand.

AGAIN, some of you are scared of using the report option and it took someone only 10 minutes ago to report it. That makes you part of the problem if you decide to respond to such things instead of letting us deal with it.

You can't miss it, it's that thing at the bottom of the post saying "report to moderator". Someone was even asking a question of the webmaster on here - like he's going to see it! Unbelievable :D

SpaceX posts.
RESPECFUL, even if you don't like the answer or comment.

It's really not that hard you know.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 04/06/2011 11:58 pm
Checkout the video on this site:

http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/chairmans-forum-elon-musk/

Its an interview with Musk, after the press conference, and an updated video.

At the beginning, theres new footage from range assets and pad cameras of F9-002, and new simulation showing solar panel fairing jettison and propulsive landing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UNCdh05ck8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 04/07/2011 12:12 am
He calls SpaceX "Special Forces" of aerospace engineers!  LOL  LOVE IT!

This is definitely worth the view. 

VR
RE327
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: docmordrid on 04/07/2011 02:41 am
Absolutely!! SO refreshing to hear someone with a long-term view. 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: R.Simko on 04/07/2011 03:31 am
Checkout the video on this site:

http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/chairmans-forum-elon-musk/

Its an interview with Musk, after the press conference, and an updated video.

At the beginning, theres new footage from range assets and pad cameras of F9-002, and new simulation showing solar panel fairing jettison and propulsive landing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UNCdh05ck8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

I love how Elon talks about communication.  He says, instead of chain of command communication, we have everyone to everyone communication.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: grr on 04/07/2011 04:13 pm
...What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.

The Chinese will have to produce something like the Merlin engine first. Inexpensive, robust and simple.
Dammit - where did I put that memory stick :)

Seriously though, China is rather good at "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

I think that you mean that China is good at once others have done "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

Which is a real problem long-term for SpaceX.
No doubt they have decent computer security, but there will be plenty of attempts on their work.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/07/2011 04:52 pm
...What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.

The Chinese will have to produce something like the Merlin engine first. Inexpensive, robust and simple.
Dammit - where did I put that memory stick :)

Seriously though, China is rather good at "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

I think that you mean that China is good at once others have done "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

Which is a real problem long-term for SpaceX.
No doubt they have decent computer security, but there will be plenty of attempts on their work.

I am thinking that the Chinese don't have a lot experience with KEROLOX engines. Most of their current engines are hypergolic including the current Manned launcher. Their near term KEROLOX engine is about 275,000lbf (1,220kN) at SL is much bigger and more complex than the Merlin. No doubt the Chinese will build something like the Merlin, just not any time soon.

Edit: Spelling
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: grr on 04/07/2011 05:06 pm
...What SpaceX has done can (and will) be copied by the Chinese.

The Chinese will have to produce something like the Merlin engine first. Inexpensive, robust and simple.
Dammit - where did I put that memory stick :)

Seriously though, China is rather good at "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

I think that you mean that China is good at once others have done "Inexpensive, robust and simple".

Which is a real problem long-term for SpaceX.
No doubt they have decent computer security, but there will be plenty of attempts on their work.

I am thinking that the Chinese don't have a lot experience with KEROLOX engines. Most of their current engines are hyperbolic including the current Manned launcher. Their near term KEROLOX engine is about 275,000lbf (1,220kN) at SL is much bigger and more complex than the Merlin. No doubt the Chinese will build something like the Merlin, just not any time soon.


China will acquire that tech VERY quickly, if they have not already.

Notice that the general public did not know about J-20 or how far along it was.
Likewise, few are paying attention to their building 1-2 new nukes sub/ year, as well as laid backbones for several aircraft carriers.
Just because you do not see, does not mean that they do not have it.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/07/2011 05:11 pm
Most of their current engines are hyperbolic including the current Manned launcher.

Although not popular in the West, I hear hyperbolic propellant actually has surprisingly good properties and Isp.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/07/2011 05:18 pm
Most of their current engines are hyperbolic including the current Manned launcher.

Although not popular in the West, I hear hyperbolic propellant actually has surprisingly good properties and Isp.
Yeah, hyperbolic propellant is amazing stuff... Totally outrageous stuff that will make us go to Alpha Centauri. Escape velocity. Warp drive.

Wait, I think you meant hypergolic propellants. ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/07/2011 05:19 pm
You might have missed my point.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/07/2011 05:23 pm
You might have missed my point.
:)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/07/2011 05:33 pm
Most of their current engines are hyperbolic including the current Manned launcher.

Although not popular in the West, I hear hyperbolic propellant actually has surprisingly good properties and Isp.

Don't think hypergolic stages are all that popular anywhere if you are down range. The corrosive toxic residue is expensive to clean up. The Chinese is planning to phased out the hypergolic engines. We are getting OT.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/07/2011 05:36 pm
Sigh. Epic joke fail.

I'll go get my coat.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jorge on 04/07/2011 05:39 pm
Sigh. Epic joke fail.

I'll go get my coat.

Hey, it's your fault for making it so eccentric...
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: neilh on 04/07/2011 05:47 pm
Checkout the video on this site:

http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/chairmans-forum-elon-musk/

Its an interview with Musk, after the press conference, and an updated video.

At the beginning, theres new footage from range assets and pad cameras of F9-002, and new simulation showing solar panel fairing jettison and propulsive landing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UNCdh05ck8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

At 22:20 it turns out the interviewer has a background in export control, and they have a pretty interesting conversation about that.

25:20: discussion about potential competitors in the heavy arena, or lack thereof

27:00: potentially-contentious statement, "SpaceX hires at the top 2-3% of the space profession... SpaceX is like the special forces"

29:00: discussion of mil-space, some discussion of defending against anti-satellite weapons (something I never heard Musk talk about before, although nothing surprising)

33:30: apparently SpaceX suggested to DOD possibility of using something based on Dragon heatshield technology to defend against anti-sat lasers (?)

44:30: beginning of Q&A

44:40: questions about moon vs. mars, issue of sustainability of space and space debris. Musk explains why he favors Mars over Moon, compares Moon to Arctic (in context of historical proximity to Europe) and Mars to America.

47:50: question about future innovation directions after Falcon Heavy. Big believer in reusability and remains fundamental objective for SpaceX, pivotal fundamental invention necessary to make life interplanetary. Cost of propellant about 0.3% of cost of flight.

51:00: question about applying tech from Dragon to spacecraft manufacturing world.

52:30: question about running into problems with rate of innovation and productivity per person as company grows, sort of like google. many growth problems due to communication problems as size increases, at spacex do our best to minimize communication issues. current pace of innovation faster than it's ever been.

54:30: question about taking SpaceX public and Musk's personal objective for maintaining control. wants to create technology necessary for self-sustaining civilization on Mars, requires a "bit of long-term thinking." some on wall street might want him to think shorter-term and milk government/customers for money, which he will not do.

56:00: question from interviewer about trajectory of debt in government, asking about advice to folks in government. answer is that people need sense of perspective and that things are actually really good historically and geographically speaking. us still world's largest manufacturer. reign in government spending. discussion about delayed gratification, congress often behaves like toddler who eats cupcake now instead of larger reward later.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/07/2011 08:16 pm
Sigh. Epic joke fail.

I'll go get my coat.

Hey, it's your fault for making it so eccentric...

OT, but you thought that joke was eccentric?  It didn't fail with me.  It was somewhere between clever and goofy, and I liked it.

There are threads to discuss China's space program.  Can we get back to SpaceX, Falcon, and Dragon? 
(Unless somenne has another good joke.)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: jabe on 04/08/2011 12:48 am
From Gwynne's comments from space Access
this caught my eye from here (http://ian.kluft.com/articles/space-access-2011/110407-01-afternoon.html)
Quote
showed video of SpaceX accomplishments, animation of upcoming
"Falcon 9/Dragon: fastest and safest path forward for crew transport"
also mentions falcon 1 heavy..which surprises me...

and from Parabolic arc (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/04/07/space-access-11-spacexs-gwynne-shotwell/)

Quote
Beginning a more vigorous public relations campaign — started with Falcon Heavy video

too much stuff going on in the blogs and forums..signal to noise is ugly.... :)  which means interest is peaking I guess..is that good or bad??...as long as noise decreases soon its good :)

jb
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Jorge on 04/08/2011 01:10 am
Sigh. Epic joke fail.

I'll go get my coat.

Hey, it's your fault for making it so eccentric...

OT, but you thought that joke was eccentric?  It didn't fail with me.  It was somewhere between clever and goofy, and I liked it.

There are threads to discuss China's space program.  Can we get back to SpaceX, Falcon, and Dragon? 
(Unless somenne has another good joke.)

Hyperbolic orbits are, by definition, highly eccentric. (Sigh.)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: madscientist197 on 04/08/2011 04:06 am
Congress often behaves like toddler who eats cupcake now instead of larger reward later.

Such an apt description.

Quote
Some on wall street might want him to think shorter-term and milk government/customers for money, which he will not do.

Good intentions, but we'll see what happens in the long run. He needs to make at least some money so that he can reinvest it to expand and develop new technology/systems -- perhaps not with the intention of giant dividends, though.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 04:10 am
Hyperbolic orbits are, by definition, highly eccentric. (Sigh.)

Ha! Tough crowd  ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: billh on 04/08/2011 12:54 pm
I love how Elon talks about communication.  He says, instead of chain of command communication, we have everyone to everyone communication.

This is one of the key reasons why small companies are so much more productive than large companies, but unfortunately success breeds inefficiency. They are growing rapidly and eventually "everyone to everyone communication" will fail. That it has not already done so for them at 1000+ employees is a testament to good leadership (and good hiring). But eventually more structure is needed to ensure that the entire organization acts in a coordinated manner. Elon Musk is that rarest of birds: a serially successful entrepreneur. I hope he keeps batting a thousand.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: MP99 on 04/08/2011 02:21 pm
I love how Elon talks about communication.  He says, instead of chain of command communication, we have everyone to everyone communication.

This is one of the key reasons why small companies are so much more productive than large companies, but unfortunately success breeds inefficiency. They are growing rapidly and eventually "everyone to everyone communication" will fail. That it has not already done so for them at 1000+ employees is a testament to good leadership (and good hiring).

They need to be vigilant to make sure they become aware when it does start to break down. As a pure exercise in logic, if breakdown has already started but no-one has noticed, they would still be reporting "everyone to everyone is still working".

Note, I'm not saying this has happened, but agree it's one of the growing pains / pitfalls they will need to go through / avoid as they grow. They also need to make sure to accommodate the loss in productivity when setting deadlines for future projects.

cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/08/2011 04:11 pm
In her  Space Access talk (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/04/07/space-access-11-spacexs-gwynne-shotwell/[/url) Gwynn Shottwell says "13 new orders over the past 12 months for Falcon 9"

Since last March their posted manifiest has only two additional flights, two more for an "Undisclosed Customer" that have dissappeared in the most recent list, and "multiple launches" for Iridium.  That doesn't seem to add up to 13.  I wonder what the others are.

More importantly, I wonder when those launches are supposed to occur.  The manifiest already has about five F9's for each of the next several years, including 2011.  Given that they could launch two, one, or even no rockets this year (if a combined COTS-2 & 3 is delayed) this seems to be setting up for a failure, at least of perceptions.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 04:21 pm
13 flights, not 13 different orders. 8 for Iridium. The "undisclosed customer" I believe turned into SES after official announcement.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kch on 04/08/2011 04:47 pm
also mentions falcon 1 heavy..which surprises me...

and from Parabolic arc (http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/04/07/space-access-11-spacexs-gwynne-shotwell/)

Quote
Looking at a Falcon 1 heavy — chasing the Minotaur market — need to compete with government built system…

:)
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/08/2011 05:29 pm
13 flights, not 13 different orders. 8 for Iridium. The "undisclosed customer" I believe turned into SES after official announcement.

Yes, 13 flights, not customers.
8 flights for Iridium seems like a large number, even for Iridium.
However, The 2013 SES flight was listed along side the two "Undisclosed Customer" flights in 2013 and 2014 on the March manifest.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/08/2011 05:48 pm
8 flights for Iridium seems like a large number, even for Iridium.

That's 8 payloads a flight! Didn't Delta II only do five at a time?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Comga on 04/08/2011 05:54 pm
The Iridium constellation is 6 planes of 11 satelites each.  That would seem to call for 6 launches.

6 Iridium, 2 Undisclosed, 1 SES = 9.  That leaves 4 of 13, 6 of 13 if the 2 "Undiclosed" really disappear.

Could it be 12 launches for Iridium and SES makes 13? 
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Lurker Steve on 04/08/2011 05:55 pm
8 flights for Iridium seems like a large number, even for Iridium.

That's 8 payloads a flight! Didn't Delta II only do five at a time?

I think Delta II might have even done fewer (3 ??). A larger percentage of the current iridium sats were launched 5 at a time on a Russian rocket. I forget which one.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: Stephan on 04/08/2011 05:58 pm
The Iridium constellation is 6 planes of 11 satelites each.  That would seem to call for 6 launches.
Not necessarily, satellites can drift from a plane to another one (assuming they have the same inclination).
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/08/2011 06:25 pm
8 flights for Iridium seems like a large number, even for Iridium.

That's 8 payloads a flight! Didn't Delta II only do five at a time?

I think Delta II might have even done fewer (3 ??). A larger percentage of the current iridium sats were launched 5 at a time on a Russian rocket. I forget which one.

Looked it up, 5!

http://www.astronautix.com/project/iridium.htm

Delta II, 5 at a time
Proton, 7 at a time
CZ-2C, 2 at a time
UR-100, 2 at a time

Getting back to Falcon 9, unless the mass has gone down, it is doubtful that they will be able to launch eight at a time as implied above.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 06:31 pm
Getting back to Falcon 9, unless the mass has gone down, it is doubtful that they will be able to launch eight at a time as implied above.

Why not? 8 x 800 is 6400 kg. Add in satellite adapter/dispenser and why wouldn't it fit inside 8000 to a high inclination, 800 km orbit?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 07:18 pm
SpaceX brochure (http://www.spacex.com/downloads/spacex-brochure.pdf) was updated.  Specs for Falcon 9 were brought in line with FH:
69.2 m height
480 tonnes at liftoff

Payload (28.5 deg)
LEO: 16 tonnes
GTO: 5 tonnes

A note at the bottom: "Falcon 1e is on hold until early 2012."
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mlorrey on 04/08/2011 07:19 pm
Getting back to Falcon 9, unless the mass has gone down, it is doubtful that they will be able to launch eight at a time as implied above.

Why not? 8 x 800 is 6400 kg. Add in satellite adapter/dispenser and why wouldn't it fit inside 8000 to a high inclination, 800 km orbit?

Wont the Merlin upgrade in thrust of 40% improve the payload capacity of the basic Falcon 9?
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 07:22 pm
It should, especially if there's a tank stretch (see above post), but I didn't factor it in.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: mr. mark on 04/08/2011 08:50 pm
Sorry if this has been covered...

Shotwell - "Upgraded Merlin engine is on the test stand now — performing very well — will fly mid to late next year…

Wants to build an F-1 class engine…this was the first stage engine on the Saturn V"

mr. mark - upgraded Merlin? - 1D? now testing

mr. mark - F - 1 = Merlin 2?

Shotwell -"Orders Breakdown:

NASA – 40 percent
Commercial – 50 percent
International – 10 percent"



http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/04/07/space-access-11-spacexs-gwynne-shotwell/

Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/08/2011 08:56 pm
SpaceX brochure (http://www.spacex.com/downloads/spacex-brochure.pdf) was updated.  Specs for Falcon 9 were brought in line with FH:
69.2 m height
480 tonnes at liftoff

Payload (28.5 deg)
LEO: 16 tonnes
GTO: 5 tonnes

A note at the bottom: "Falcon 1e is on hold until early 2012."

Note the fins added to the stretched Falcon 9.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 09:01 pm
That's not the stretched Falcon, that's the "regular" one. The fins have been there for some time. My guess is the 5m fairing version would fly with them, at least until they get a better handle on vehicle controlability.

The real stretched version would have a much higher fineness ratio.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/08/2011 09:15 pm
That's not the stretched Falcon, that's the "regular" one. The fins have been there for some time. My guess is the 5m fairing version would fly with them, at least until they get a better handle on vehicle controlability.

The real stretched version would have a much higher fineness ratio.

Something like this?

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: ugordan on 04/08/2011 09:22 pm
Looks about right, overall the vehicle would obviously be about 1 fairing length taller, but as to how those 14 meters are split between the stages is beyond me.

I posted my own impression here (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24641.msg720286#msg720286), but I used a 7:1 split between 1st and 2nd stage stretch - for no particular reason.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: corrodedNut on 04/08/2011 09:25 pm
Either way, it's going to be 2' longer than the hangar at LC40.
Title: Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 3)
Post by: edkyle99 on 04/08/2011 09:31 pm