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SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX Mega Thread Archive Section => Topic started by: Chris Bergin on 12/30/2015 11:56 AM

Title: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/30/2015 11:56 AM
Thread 4 for Falcon Heavy as we head into the year she should debut.

Thread 1:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32528.0

Thread 2:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35365.0

Thread 3:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36806.0

Main FH Articles:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/04/spacex-falcon-heavy-tag-team-share-20-launches-year/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/05/from-atlas-v-falcon-xx-commercial-suitors-wanted-pad-39a/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/07/spacex-roadmap-rocket-business-revolution/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/11/pad-39a-spacex-groundwork-falcon-heavy-debut/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/05/falcon-heavy-dragon-solar-system-explorer/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/10/canaveral-ksc-pads-new-designs-space-access/

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/11/spacex-conducts-rollout-39a-te/


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

Then recent news articles, not linked above, as we moved to a tag group system:
All recent: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/spacex/


L2 SpaceX - Dedicated all-vehicle section - including a mass of new amazing renderings we've created.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?board=60.0


NOTE: Posts that are uncivil (which is very rare for this forum), off topic (not so rare) or just pointless will be deleted without notice.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rocx on 12/30/2015 12:09 PM
the year she should debut
We are in 2015 already, Chris. Or was that 2014? No wait, I guess the first announced launch date for Falcon Heavy was 2013: http://spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html.

Anyway, what use is 53 metric tons of payload capacity to LEO? It's not even enough to lift an M1 Abrams, which weighs 54 tons! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rliebman on 12/30/2015 12:46 PM
That would certainly take space warfare to a different level
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bargemanos on 12/30/2015 02:06 PM
the year she should debut
We are in 2015 already, Chris. Or was that 2014? No wait, I guess the first announced launch date for Falcon Heavy was 2013: http://spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html (http://spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html).

Anyway, what use is 53 metric tons of payload capacity to LEO? It's not even enough to lift an M1 Abrams, which weighs 54 tons! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams)

Where do you need a battle tank in space for?

The Kibo module, the largest single module of the ISS is ~16 metric tons.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: clongton on 12/30/2015 02:08 PM
Anyway, what use is 53 metric tons of payload capacity to LEO?

The average mass of most of the ISS modules was <20 tons. I'd say that 53 tons is quite useful.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: yokem55 on 12/30/2015 02:16 PM
How close to the cross-fed enabled 53mt payload to LEO is the non-cross-fed fully expended full thrust falcon heavy? I'm guessing it's fairly close...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rpapo on 12/30/2015 02:25 PM
Anyway, what use is 53 metric tons of payload capacity to LEO?

The average mass of most of the ISS modules was <20 tons. I'd say that 53 tons is quite useful.
There is one minor problem with that (the less than 20 tons part): with the exception of the original Russian modules (Zarya & Svezda), none of the other ISS modules have had propulsion of their own.  Without the Space Shuttle, any new modules will require a tug or their own propulsion in order to rendezvous with the ISS.  The hardware and fuel required costs weight.

Even so, 53 metric tons is about three times the weight of any single module currently attached to the ISS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rocx on 12/30/2015 02:30 PM
How close to the cross-fed enabled 53mt payload to LEO is the non-cross-fed fully expended full thrust falcon heavy? I'm guessing it's fairly close...
According to Ed Kyle's site (http://spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html) it will be 45 tons to LEO from Cape Canaveral. That's not even one T-90 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-90).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 12/30/2015 02:53 PM
What does a Bigelow 330 module weigh?  If FH can get these to LEO, 2-4 of these would be as large as ISS at a lot less expensive cost than ISS was.  Army tanks won't be used in space.  Way too heavy.  Can't fire the cannon as the opposite reaction would take one out of it's intended orbit. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 12/30/2015 03:07 PM
What does a Bigelow 330 module weigh?  If FH can get these to LEO, 2-4 of these would be as large as ISS at a lot less expensive cost than ISS was.  Army tanks won't be used in space.  Way too heavy.  Can't fire the cannon as the opposite reaction would take one out of it's intended orbit.

The module is listed around 20mT. (Fully reusable FH will easily deliver a BA-330.)
Should think of the FH LEO capability in terms of propellant... this is where launch rate and payload capability will be most impactful.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: punder on 12/30/2015 03:15 PM
How many solid plutonium unicorns can FH put in orbit? In other words, can we stop this tank BS right here, please?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 12/30/2015 04:10 PM
AIUI, the FT+Densification would enable FH to hit the performance numbers without cross feeding. But this is an estimation. In any case the real metric would be 6.5tonnes to a 1,500m/s GTO with full booster and core recovery.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 12/30/2015 05:27 PM
The LEO standard is not really ISS elevation anyway.  It's not really that useful a metric.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Comga on 12/30/2015 05:47 PM
The LEO standard is not really ISS elevation anyway.  It's not really that useful a metric.

Agreed
One might want to start with the BEO habitat studies. (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38818.msg1445832#msg1445832).

(Thank you, llanitedave, for bringing this thread back from the realm of gibberish.  Please, people, take the goofy stuff to the party threads.)

PS The first reference for the Falcon 9 Heavy on my list was posted in February of 2011 for launch in late 2012.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rcoppola on 12/30/2015 06:40 PM
Both personally and in the grand scheme I couldn't care less when FH was "supposed" to fly. It's clear that the F9-FT and all its subsequent enhancements leading to a successful RTF & landing , is now in a much better position to transition into a 3 core FH-FT.

By the time FH launches, they'll most likely have returned and inspected a few more cores feeding even more data back into F9/FT and subsequent FH. A reusable F9 is one thing, with the ability to return all 3 cores of FH or even just the boosters, giving them a partially reusable Heavy Lift to LEO will be quite disruptive. IMO.

Specifically disruptive to Human BEO exploration plans.  Scimemi, the ISS director for NASA, says he wants to build the HAB Congress just directed NASA to study and have a prototype ready for 2018. Why would we do that, when for a fraction of the cost, we could send up a prototype BA330 on a FH? (that's a rhetorical question)

FH is still theoretical to most people. But once she launches and those cores return, the very real and enabling contributions for cost-effective Human BEO exploration will be unavoidable. I'm an SLS supporter but to think FH will not have a place to further advance NASA's BEO goals, is to deny the inevitable.

The battle lines within NASA, its' centers, its' current Primes and corresponding Congressional districts will be drawn in even starker relief. I do not think I am overstating the impact this system will have when successfully brought on-line.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 12/30/2015 06:55 PM
I think it's going to be 18+ months till we start to see how much the FH can benefit SpaceX.  They need to develop the F9 reuse and apply that to FH.  And then seeing how the FH can provide the large comsat market. 

None of this is a given and anyone that says they know the economics of a fully reuseable FH doing the same work as expendable F9 is using is making to many assumptions to know for sure.

It's going to be exciting to see develop.  That's the most interesting part of SpaceX.  We get to see the their incremental and real time development.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 12/30/2015 07:21 PM
[...]
Specifically disruptive to Human BEO exploration plans.  Scimemi, the ISS director for NASA, says he wants to build the HAB Congress just directed NASA to study and have a prototype ready for 2018. Why would we do that, when for a fraction of the cost, we could send up a prototype BA330 on a FH? (that's a rhetorical question)
[...]
A Hab would really have to be tested in EML1/2 space. LEO is very different from deep space. For example, you have 45min of hotness and 45min of coldness. In deep space you have a hot side and a cold side, permanently. So the thermal environment is completely different. You have to worry about MMOD and free oxygen in LEO which are not an issue in deep space. You have a lot less radiation, which you actually want to prove the hab design. You need completely different comm system. And a long list of requirements.
Why I'm saying this? Because for such an Hab, unless you are also including a SEP tug (which has no budget), you are going to worry about the C3=-1km²/s² performance. How much could the Falcon Heavy do? If it can, in fact, do 13 to TMI, then it should be able to do between 17 and 20 tonnes to TLI. The problem is, SLS can do something like 45tonnes with EUS and well more than 25 tonnes with the ICPS. So the prototype would have to have less than half the mass of the final hab if it were to fit into a FH.
And I didn't get into the fact that SLS will have an 8.4m fairing (7.5m internal) vs the 5.2m (4.7 internal) of the FH. I rather see FH as an opportunity to send something commercial to LEO very cheaply or a Cygnus derived module to TLI, rather than the full Hab.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: vulture4 on 12/30/2015 08:14 PM
I have difficulty understanding the need for a habitat to be launched directly into a lunar or Mars trajectory. Earth orbit rendezvous (as originally proposed by von Braun) for refueling or mating a departure stage could be used at lower cost. Wasn't that even the original plan for Constellation? As to the habitat diameter, the FH could be equipped with a wider fairing should that be needed, or an inflatable habitat could be used.

Close attention to sustainable overall cost is essential if we are going to maintain a foothold on Mars, rather than just leaving a few footsteps, which on Mars, with its blowing dust, will not last long.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 12/30/2015 08:28 PM
I have difficulty understanding the need for a habitat to be launched directly into a lunar or Mars trajectory. Earth orbit rendezvous (as originally proposed by von Braun) for refueling or mating a departure stage could be used at lower cost. Wasn't that even the original plan for Constellation? As to the habitat diameter, the FH could be equipped with a wider fairing should that be needed, or an inflatable habitat could be used.

Close attention to sustainable overall cost is essential if we are going to maintain a foothold on Mars, rather than just leaving a few footsteps, which on Mars, with its blowing dust, will not last long.

What's essential are close attention to cost, and not building in a reliance on unfunded parts of the architecture. The "1.5 launch" CxP architecture would have used Earth Orbit Rendezvous, yes. But the rendezvous would have been with an "Earth Departure Stage" with a long-duration loitering capability. Development of that component is not funded.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 12/30/2015 09:16 PM
Not to mention the fact of relying on an inexistent fairing which:
A) It's not clear that FH can handle a fairing 2.3 times its core and;
B) Even if possible would add significant mass (stock is 4tonnes) and;
C) Is not clear that the HIF, TEL, LC-39A ramp nor any other GSE can handle and it would definitely not be road portable.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 12/30/2015 09:24 PM
This may seem obvious to some, but I don't think it actually can launch 53 tons to LEO.. it's just a reference orbit. That said, the best number I've seen for the fairing mass is 1,750 kg, so if you really want to squeeze a maximum payload to LEO number out of the Falcon Heavy you could probably imagine a payload that doesn't need to go inside the fairing (like some mega-Dragon). Also, this is all old numbers with cross-feed. Maybe this year SpaceX will release a press kit and we'll actually find out what the real vehicle on the pad can do.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Nathan2go on 12/30/2015 10:47 PM
I agree the F9H could have a huge impact on manned Mars exploration.  In the same way that the COTS program was very successful at allowing NASA to help fund companies that wanted to get into the LEO cargo business (i.e. SpaceX and Orbital Sciences), commercial companies can now demand a piece of the manned Mars program, with a con-ops optimized for numerous flights with reusable rockets.

1) One of the core principles of the Mar Direct concept was that Mars-Surface-Rendezvous was better than building large mono-ships in LEO.  This principle was only used to justify having the crew fly out separately from their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV/ERV); but we could take the idea further and deliver most of the mission mass to Mars in 1-5 ton landers, which could then be retrieved by truck (everything except the nearly empty Hab and empty MAV).  These could be sent out 2 years ahead of the crew, by vehicles in the F9H class.

2) The 2013 Mars DRM-5 from NASA  included nuclear thermal engines, which were rejected from Mars Direct in order to speed the schedule etc.  On orbit-transfer of LOX (from a commercial space company) provides the same ability to boost the capabilities of the SLS, without the difficulty of large nuclear developments.  For a 130 ton Earth Departure Stage to throw a 130 ton payload to Mars on a 6 month trajectory, it would need to top-off with an extra 210 tons of propellant.   Commercial companies offering F9H class rockets could credibly provide this amount of LOX to LEO to support anticipated SLS launch rates.

With those two markets, companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin could get funding (from NASA and investors) to develop a new generation of larger (colonization-class) rockets.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jcc on 12/30/2015 11:52 PM
This may seem obvious to some, but I don't think it actually can launch 53 tons to LEO.. it's just a reference orbit. That said, the best number I've seen for the fairing mass is 1,750 kg, so if you really want to squeeze a maximum payload to LEO number out of the Falcon Heavy you could probably imagine a payload that doesn't need to go inside the fairing (like some mega-Dragon). Also, this is all old numbers with cross-feed. Maybe this year SpaceX will release a press kit and we'll actually find out what the real vehicle on the pad can do.

Better still, launch it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 12/31/2015 02:17 AM
I just looked at the SpaceX FH description page and it describes an FH that is based on the F9FT: 170klbf M1DFT engines, larger US and higher GLOW than the FHv1.1 based version. The problem is the some of the text, performance values and prices don't seem to be updated to reflect the FHFT physical description.

One of the items with the text is cross feed is still mentioned. That questions is there still a long term cross feed in the works or not? The many statements recently is that there will not be a cross feed. But that may not be correct. B ut that for now and until sometime in the future when a cross-feed is deemed useful it will be an option.

One of the items is that the 53mt is seemingly possible by a FHFT expendable, but if there was a FHFTcrossfeed it would be possible to have a 53mt reusable vehicle.

BTW if there was eventually a FHFT crossfeed what would its max LEO payload be? 70mt?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 12/31/2015 02:25 AM
How close to the cross-fed enabled 53mt payload to LEO is the non-cross-fed fully expended full thrust falcon heavy? I'm guessing it's fairly close...

This may have changed, but last I heard there were 3 flavors of Falcon Heavy:
1) Fully expendable, cross-fed: 21mt GTO, 53mt LEO
2) Reusable boosters RTLS, expendable center core, cross-fed: 14mt GTO
3) All 3 first stages RTLS, not cross-fed: 7mt GTO

Of these, I believe 3) will be most important, as it covers virtually all current comsats with a fully reusable set of first stages that RTLS.  If refurbishing the stages is relatively easy, as SpaceX suggests, then this configuration should end up being less expensive than an expendable Falcon 9.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 12/31/2015 02:37 AM
1) Ghost of Elon past
2) Ghost of Elon present
3) Ghost of Elon future

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 12/31/2015 02:49 AM
How close to the cross-fed enabled 53mt payload to LEO is the non-cross-fed fully expended full thrust falcon heavy? I'm guessing it's fairly close...

This may have changed, but last I heard there were 3 flavors of Falcon Heavy:
1) Fully expendable, cross-fed: 21mt GTO, 53mt LEO
2) Reusable boosters RTLS, expendable center core, cross-fed: 14mt GTO
3) All 3 first stages RTLS, not cross-fed: 7mt GTO

Of these, I believe 3) will be most important, as it covers virtually all current comsats with a fully reusable set of first stages that RTLS.  If refurbishing the stages is relatively easy, as SpaceX suggests, then this configuration should end up being less expensive than an expendable Falcon 9.
The item not discussed is that your options is based on FHv1.1 performance and not the additional 33% that is a possible increase provided by a FHFT. If you straight X 33% the performance values you get
1) Fully expendable, cross-fed: 27mt GTO, 70mt LEO
2) Reusable boosters RTLS, expendable center core, cross-fed: 18.5mt GTO
3) All 3 first stages RTLS, not cross-fed: 8.7mt GTO

Unfortunately performance values don't usually scale like that so these new values are only a guide not anything more. In some case there could be more and others less due to the interactions of what the changes are and how they affect the flight performance to an orbit.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 12/31/2015 06:52 AM

How close to the cross-fed enabled 53mt payload to LEO is the non-cross-fed fully expended full thrust falcon heavy? I'm guessing it's fairly close...

This may have changed, but last I heard there were 3 flavors of Falcon Heavy:
1) Fully expendable, cross-fed: 21mt GTO, 53mt LEO
2) Reusable boosters RTLS, expendable center core, cross-fed: 14mt GTO
3) All 3 first stages RTLS, not cross-fed: 7mt GTO

Of these, I believe 3) will be most important, as it covers virtually all current comsats with a fully reusable set of first stages that RTLS.  If refurbishing the stages is relatively easy, as SpaceX suggests, then this configuration should end up being less expensive than an expendable Falcon 9.

Nope. That was the plan, cross feed is not in the current iteration of FH. It could still be added in the future, but I doubt it.

So the only question for an FH launch is where the core booster will end up. RTLS, on a barge, or expended.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 12/31/2015 07:21 AM

The item not discussed is that your options is based on FHv1.1 performance and not the additional 33% that is a possible increase provided by a FHFT.

Any credible source for this claim?

Even though they released the 53t number many years ago, they already knew then what their M1D will finally be capable of.

And even if the original numbers were for the reduced-thrust version of M1D, your 33% scaling factor is way too high for the payload increase for that 15% engine thrustupgrade.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 12/31/2015 07:52 AM
And even if the original numbers were for the reduced-thrust version of M1D, your 33% scaling factor is way too high for the payload increase for that 15% engine thrustupgrade.

Much of the performance increase is in the upper stage enlargement and the larger M-vac nozzle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 12/31/2015 08:38 AM
And even if the original numbers were for the reduced-thrust version of M1D, your 33% scaling factor is way too high for the payload increase for that 15% engine thrustupgrade.

Much of the performance increase is in the upper stage enlargement and the larger M-vac nozzle.

Larger M-vac nozzle? where is this information from?

And upper stage enlargement helps payload to higher orbits more than payload to LEO. 30% increase in GTO payload may mean 24% increase in LEO payload.

And, if spaceX knew they were going to expand the second stage again before FH, I think the effect of this is already calculated in the original FH capasity numbers.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 12/31/2015 08:48 AM
Larger M-vac nozzle? where is this information from?

They made the interstage longer and upgraded the pushers for stage separation to accomodate a larger nozzle extension.

And upper stage enlargement helps payload to higher orbits more than payload to LEO. 30% increase in GTO payload may mean 24% increase in LEO payload.

And, if spaceX knew they were going to expand the second stage again before FH, I think the effect of this is already calculated in the original FH capasity numbers.

Yes.

Maybe.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Darkseraph on 12/31/2015 09:08 AM
Has SpaceX said anything about engine out capability with reuse? 



Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 12/31/2015 09:55 AM
Has SpaceX said anything about engine out capability with reuse?

Excellent question!

I haven't heard anything specifically from SpaceX on this, but I always assumed the extra propellant required for engine out capability was dual use. This is similar in concept to Dragon v2, where the SuperDraco propellant is used for either LAS or RTLS, but not both.

Last I heard, the first stage uses 3 Merlin engines for supersonic retrograde propulsion, and 1 Merlin engine (the center one) for landing.  So if the center engine fails during ascent, there's no way they could return the stage. 

But again, if an engine fails during ascent, they'll need to burn the first stage longer to make the intended orbit with less total thrust, which ends up requiring more propellant.  And SpaceX says they can tolerate 2 engine failures during ascent, which would require even more extra propellant to make the intended orbit with the remaining 7 engines.

My bet: If an engine fails, they won't have enough propellant left to land the first stage anywhere, either RTLS or a barge.  So the extra fuel for engine out is that same fuel for reuse.
 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: StuffOfInterest on 12/31/2015 10:17 AM
Although an engine out may not leave enough fuel for RTLS I don't think it is a certainty.  If the engine out occurs late during first stage flight then it may leave enough fuel to still make it back.  Beyond that, I don't think there is fine grained enough monitoring of the fuel level to decide if there is enough to make it so the computer will likely just try to land and if fuel runs out during one of the three burns then the rocket drops either just off shore or on the landing pad.  Even with a hard landing I bet SpaceX would love to get back a failed engine to figure out what went wrong with it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 12/31/2015 10:33 AM
The item not discussed is that your options is based on FHv1.1 performance and not the additional 33% that is a possible increase provided by a FHFT.

Even though they released the 53t number many years ago, they already knew then what their M1D will finally be capable of.

Originally, way back with Falcon 5, they were already talking about a heavy version.  Then when they went to Falcon 9, then called it "Falcon 9 Heavy". 

Then when they did a press event for "Falcon Heavy" (leaving the "9" out of the name), that was where they first mentioned 53mt to LEO.  I'm pretty sure this number was based on the Falcon 9 v1.1 improvements that they were just about to test at VAFB.  At that time, the 53mt included a cross-fed center core, and that configuration was fully expendable.  I believe the other numbers Elon mentioned back then (http://aviationweek.com/blog/falcon-9-performance-mid-size-geo) (7mt GTO with 3 cores RTLS, 14mt GTO with 2 cores RTLS) are all based on the Falcon 9 v1.1 improvements.

But since then, they've made even more performance improvements with Falcon 9.  My guess: Elon probably wanted to call this Falcon 9 v1.2, but that would tend to scare some customers, so he mentions these performance improvements only in passing without any specific numbers.

I've also heard the first versions of Falcon Heavy will not be cross-fed, but they haven't ruled out using this in the future.

So the bottom line is that we don't really know what the FH numbers will be exactly.  I suspect SpaceX will revise the numbers when they get closer to launch.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 12/31/2015 11:18 AM
Although an engine out may not leave enough fuel for RTLS I don't think it is a certainty.  If the engine out occurs late during first stage flight then it may leave enough fuel to still make it back.  Beyond that, I don't think there is fine grained enough monitoring of the fuel level to decide if there is enough to make it so the computer will likely just try to land and if fuel runs out during one of the three burns then the rocket drops either just off shore or on the landing pad.  Even with a hard landing I bet SpaceX would love to get back a failed engine to figure out what went wrong with it.

I'm sure SpaceX would love to get back a failed engine to figure out what went wrong, but without enough fuel to control descent, a RTLS attempt could land the stage significantly off course.  If it blew up some building, RTLS would be set back for years...

They could attempt to land it on a barge, but now that RTLS is working, I doubt SpaceX will want the added expense of deploying a landing barge for every flight.

Remember, reusability is all about cost savings.  It's not mission critical, so it doesn't need to be highly reliable to work.  It's a just numbers game.  If an engine fails 1 out of every 100 flights, I suspect the safest, least cost option is to ditch it in the ocean, like a regular expendable launcher.  If an engine fails 1 out of every 10 flights, then they have a problem with their engine, so that would need to be fixed.

In other words, an engine failure should be a rare event.  In such rare events, since reuse isn't mission critical, I suspect the best option will be to expend the stage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 12/31/2015 02:30 PM
Just by the math if the engine throttle position of the 9 engines is 88% or less the loss of a single engine (shutdown) will not result in any additional prop use. In fact it may result in more residual prop since the remaining 8 engines would throttle back up to 100% and operate at a slightly higher ISP.

It is only when the throttle position is greater than 88% that the additional prop for RTLS would be consumed partially because of increased gravity losses (less acceleration due to the engine loss).

The difficulty is which engine fails and what contingencies the software has for doing RTLS to work around using a failed engine (a different set of 3)?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Im_Utrecht on 12/31/2015 02:34 PM
FH will be manrated like F9
FH's first version will be based on F9v1.1FT but will upgraded in the future.
Probably they will use more composites to save weight, introduce crossfeed and first stage engines that do not dump the exhaust from the turbopumps. (like the merlin 1D vac from s2)

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 12/31/2015 03:11 PM
FH will be manrated like F9
FH's first version will be based on F9v1.1FT but will upgraded in the future.
Probably they will use more composites to save weight, introduce crossfeed and first stage engines that do not dump the exhaust from the turbopumps. (like the merlin 1D vac from s2)
There are a lot of don't knows!
1) performance expendable?
2) performance RTLS?
3) performance with crossfeed?
4) possible upgrades?
5) the higher delta V orbit performce due to having a "larger" US?

The last one is something we have been discussing about a short fall of the FHv1.1 having a too small US. Was the size increase of the F9 US optimized for FH performance or for F9 performance?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 12/31/2015 04:19 PM
[...]
Specifically disruptive to Human BEO exploration plans.  Scimemi, the ISS director for NASA, says he wants to build the HAB Congress just directed NASA to study and have a prototype ready for 2018. Why would we do that, when for a fraction of the cost, we could send up a prototype BA330 on a FH? (that's a rhetorical question)
[...]
A Hab would really have to be tested in EML1/2 space. LEO is very different from deep space. For example, you have 45min of hotness and 45min of coldness. In deep space you have a hot side and a cold side, permanently. So the thermal environment is completely different. You have to worry about MMOD and free oxygen in LEO which are not an issue in deep space. You have a lot less radiation, which you actually want to prove the hab design. You need completely different comm system. And a long list of requirements.
Why I'm saying this? Because for such an Hab, unless you are also including a SEP tug (which has no budget), you are going to worry about the C3=-1km²/s² performance. How much could the Falcon Heavy do? If it can, in fact, do 13 to TMI, then it should be able to do between 17 and 20 tonnes to TLI. The problem is, SLS can do something like 45tonnes with EUS and well more than 25 tonnes with the ICPS. So the prototype would have to have less than half the mass of the final hab if it were to fit into a FH.
And I didn't get into the fact that SLS will have an 8.4m fairing (7.5m internal) vs the 5.2m (4.7 internal) of the FH. I rather see FH as an opportunity to send something commercial to LEO very cheaply or a Cygnus derived module to TLI, rather than the full Hab.

You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 12/31/2015 05:25 PM
You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate.
Actually, you started talking about using FH for the Hab prototype. The Hab will fly with SLS/EUS, this is the current plan and thus it will be sized accordingly.
And regarding affordability, it's not what you believe to be but what US Congress is actually willing to pay. And in the 2016 budget, US Congress actually decided that NASA is not spending enough on SLS. Also, they added quite a few millions to start up the EUS effort. So the definitive Hab will fly on SLS/EUS and will be more than six years. The issue is the prototype and how representative it will be.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 12/31/2015 05:59 PM
You also didn't get into the fact that the FH will be ready in six months and the SLS with 8.4m fairing and EUS will be lucky to be ready in six years(and $20B).  And conveniently didn't get into the fact that only one system will be affordable to operate.
Actually, you started talking about using FH for the Hab prototype. The Hab will fly with SLS/EUS, this is the current plan and thus it will be sized accordingly.
And regarding affordability, it's not what you believe to be but what US Congress is actually willing to pay. And in the 2016 budget, US Congress actually decided that NASA is not spending enough on SLS. Also, they added quite a few millions to start up the EUS effort. So the definitive Hab will fly on SLS/EUS and will be more than six years. The issue is the prototype and how representative it will be.

Perhaps FH could launch "a" hab, but not the Hab you are referring to. A Bigelow BA330 weighs about 20t, which is about what the FH can put into high Earth orbit. I am sure that Bigelow would love to have one of their stations there sooner rather than (much) later.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 12/31/2015 07:37 PM
I stated that it would be perfect for a Cygnus based hab or, may be, a lightened BA330 sent to TLI. Who knows what they meant by a prototype by 2018. That's not even clear if it would be orbital.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Im_Utrecht on 01/01/2016 04:41 AM
Happy newyear everybody and i wish you a good 2016.

Who knows how weight an upgraded FH can sent to TLI in 2018 ?   ;)

I have a question;
A spacestation like the BA330 that is designed to withstand the rigors of space for years cannot survive the three first minutes of launch ? I mean considering the shape and size is it not possibele to adapt the design a bit so that the fairing might not be needed thus saving a lot of weight ?

I do not know if the size increase of S2 was optimized for F9 or FH. Perhaps they made a compromise but i have the feeling that it was for F9. Maybe later they could incease it again for FH but i remember that Elon some time ago said that he was afraid of bending.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Patchouli on 01/01/2016 04:51 AM
I stated that it would be perfect for a Cygnus based hab or, may be, a lightened BA330 sent to TLI. Who knows what they meant by a prototype by 2018. That's not even clear if it would be orbital.

Better still launch a standard BA330 with a ion propulsion module vs using the FH upper stage to reach high orbits or escape.

Heck even the addition of something like an enlarged PAM upper stage would probably increase the payload enough.
Though Spacex doesn't seem to have any plans to add a third stage esp a anything using solids.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 01/01/2016 06:09 AM
Happy newyear everybody and i wish you a good 2016.

Who knows how weight an upgraded FH can sent to TLI in 2018 ?   ;)

I have a question;
A spacestation like the BA330 that is designed to withstand the rigors of space for years cannot survive the three first minutes of launch ? I mean considering the shape and size is it not possibele to adapt the design a bit so that the fairing might not be needed thus saving a lot of weight ?

I do not know if the size increase of S2 was optimized for F9 or FH. Perhaps they made a compromise but i have the feeling that it was for F9. Maybe later they could incease it again for FH but i remember that Elon some time ago said that he was afraid of bending.

The thing everyone keeps forgetting when talking about a hab that doesn't need a fairing is that anything you build into the hab you have to take to orbit. But the fairing separates early in S2 flight, so it does not count directly against your payload weight the way a built in fairing would. This is why most satellites opt to use a fairing rather than have an aerodynamic design capable of hypersonic flight through the atmosphere. The only reason dragon does it is that it has to fly back anyway. Cygnus doesn't use a fairing for the reasons stated above.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Im_Utrecht on 01/01/2016 07:59 PM

Cygnus does use a fairing on the atlas V, see the year in review.
I agree that a build in fairing is not a good option.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/03/2016 01:02 AM
I believe the mass values on the FH SpaceX description page are that of the v1.1 and not of the FT. If they are then the FHv1.1 had a T/W of 1.29. But even with new and higher mass values for FHFT the T/W could be more than 1.4.

If they lower the T/W by throttling back the center core to 75% they get back to the T/W of ~1.29. An almost 25% longer burn time of the center core than the boosters would have an interesting performance boost to the FHFT  almost like that of a crossfeed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante2121 on 01/03/2016 03:05 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Arcas on 01/03/2016 03:08 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante2121 on 01/03/2016 03:18 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: macpacheco on 01/03/2016 03:48 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?

It would need a lot of extra fuel to achieve sub orbital flight to go around the earth once.

Lets start from Musk's words: for ASDS landing, staging happens around 8000 Km/h at 100Km altitude.
For a once around orbit, speed would need to be something like twice as much.
Its much cheaper to turn the stage around for RTLS than to go once around.
Also RTLS results in a much slower re-entry, meaning a cheaper entry burn.
In a once around orbit, re-entry speed will be much higher, which would also require more fuel for entry.

Everything is much more difficult, as the first stage would be going quite deep into the second stage job (although without the 2nd stage attached).

Then there's the question if the stage could handle the extended coast after the end of the boostup burn and entry burn (something like 2 hours coast period), it would get ultra cold, something critical could freeze and prevent the re-entry burn.

Oh, and there's also the nagging problem of the stage flying over florida to land. Big complications with the FAA.

Even if fuel weren't an issue, there's a whole can of worms being openned in this scenario.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: KelvinZero on 01/03/2016 03:56 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Yes

I set myself up for that answer.  I'm looking to understand why not.  How much faster would it have to be traveling?
I think it would be in orbit pretty much by definition. It is following some ellipse that did not intersect the earth except possibly to skim at this one point.

..although, apparently a F9 first stage can put itself into orbit without payload. You would guess therefore that a falcon heavy could put its central core into orbit PLUS some additional payload if it wanted to, skipping the upper stage. Presumably it doesn't deliver enough to make this attractive, especially if including margin to return it.

I guess you would have to redesign your central core as a lifting body or something rather than include enough fuel to slow it sufficiently for a conventional 1st core landing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Nathan2go on 01/03/2016 04:03 AM
Is it out of the realm of possibility for the center core of the falcon heavy to RTLS by completing an orbit?
Certainly the FH center core could be made to reach orbit.   Those boosters basically are nearly light enough to fly to orbit as a single stage (perhaps with 0 payload), were it not for the sea-level nozzle optimization.  With the center of three cores optimized for high altitude and perhaps fewer engines, a reasonable payload capacity would result.

The problem is re-use.  The first stage cores are a bad shape for high speed re-entry: too long and skinny.  They are only stable when falling tail first, and you can't put pica-x insulating tiles on the engines, since they would shake loose, or the glue would melt.  As it is, F9 first stage doesn't even try to re-enter at Mach 6, it slows down first.  A Mach 25 re-entry would be much hotter.

If you watch the SpaceX re-usability video, it shows the upper stage re-entering nose first, then turning around in mid-flight (presumably as sub-sonic speed); the nose has a blunt heat shield.  Similarly, the Kistler K1 upper stage was supposed to re-enter nose first, using a blunt heat shield.  Also, the MD Delta Clipper was supposed to re-enter nose first, and turn-around in mid-flight (at sub-sonic speed).  The nose-first re-entry and mid-flight turn-around work fine for things that are short and stubby like a beer can and have a blunt heatshield.

An F9 first stage is too skinny to turn-around in mid-flight (even if you could stabilize it); it would snap in half unless it was heavily reinforced.

It is not out of the question to build an expendable center core that reaches orbit, and use parallel staging like the space shuttle, the early SLS block configuration, and Arian V.  This avoids the risks of starting engines in mid-flight.  However without a credible path to re-usability, I would not expect SpaceX to be interested.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 01/03/2016 03:49 PM
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 01/03/2016 05:00 PM
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.
100% agreed.  I personally think we'll be seeing a lot of FHs flights for exactly this reason, and mission specific reusable second stages (LEO satellite deployers, tankers, etc)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/03/2016 06:22 PM
There's a very interesting post on r*ddit called "Recalculating the ULA reusability analysis in context of SpaceX" that goes into quite a lot of detail on the various costs of reusable rockets. One of the responses by the original poster was of particular interest:

Quote
Either way, I have a few observations you might find interesting:

Ground costs are extremely important. It is a very significant part of the costs. In my second scenario, more than half of the Reuse Index goes to ground costs. If we want orders of magnitude in savings, this will need to be practically 0. Spaceports will really need to operate like airports to even have a shot.

The next biggest chunk is rebuilding the second stage, or in general : Fru. Trading off Cru to increase Fru is worthwhile as long as Cru * ( 1 - Fru ) decreases (if refurbishment costs remain the same, i.e. Crf goes down proportionally so that Crf * Cru stays the same). The initial cost of the rocket is divided by n, so as more launches happen this goes to zero. If we can make a fully reusable rocket at 10x the cost that can fly hundreds of times, it is totally worth it. This is pretty much the idea behind SSTO spaceplanes.

Refurbishment costs should be low, but aren't the dealbreaker as long as they don't exceed 25% of the total rocket price (so closer to 35% of the first stage price). Spending several million on refurbishing per launch is totally doable. Using Cru = 1.2, Fru = 0.7, Crf = 0.25 and Cground = 0.2 (more realistic value from ULA tweets), you still get a 20% drop in costs after 10 flights. This would be a failure according to SpaceX, but still a significant and worthwhile competitive advantage.

The F factor from ULA barely makes a difference. It increases the costs by 0.03-0.04 index points even at 20 launches. This is because the reduced production volume only counts for the first stage, not the entire rocket! At 20 launches you may pay almost 60% more to build the first stage, but that obviously only means a 3% increase per launch. I've actually found a mistake in my formula here: I apply this factor to the entire cost of the reusable rocket, while I should only apply it to the fraction that is reused. The first term should be (F * Fru * Cru + ( 1 - Fru ) * Cru ). This would reduce the impact even more. This term can pretty much be ignored unless the rate exponent goes down significantly.

These observations may be more useful than what I originally wrote. It shows a part of the business model behind the Falcon Heavy: If they can achieve second stage reusability with it and cut production costs enough to make it worthwhile (second bullet point above), they have the winning formula. We can also see why Elon isn't exactly worried about refurbishing costs: Even at 25% there is a strong business case to be made. Building the Merlins from scratch to be reusable without significant maintenance is the killer breakthrough here. Everything hinges on that. I'm very interested to see the static fire because that will pretty much be the deciding factor according to my analysis. If they end up needing STS levels of disassembly, refurbishment, testing and reassembly... That's pretty much lights out for reusability then. Maybe the Raptor engines can save the day but it would still suck.

So maybe the primary motive behind the FH was not that it could put massive payloads into LEO in expendable mode (since as many people have pointed out, these payloads are few and far between), but that it could put a future reusable second stage with its increased weight, plus an F9-sized payload,  into LEO and still RTLS. If the first stage core and booster plus the second stage and payload fairing are all reusable at a reasonable maintenance cost, then the cost per kg to orbit can drop like a stone. F9 alone would not have the capacity to do this, you need the FH.

Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.
100% agreed.  I personally think we'll be seeing a lot of FHs flights for exactly this reason, and mission specific reusable second stages (LEO satellite deployers, tankers, etc)
Yes.
If 1st stage refurbishment costs $3M and a 1st stage cost to manufacture (even at $30M) flies 10X that is only an additional $12M per flight for a FHR than for a F9R at 3+ times the payload capability.
F9R ~ price estimate of $42M - $1,426/lb [13500kg]
FHR ~ price estimate of $56M - $570/lb [45000kg]

A dual manifested sat flight on a FHR would be $28M+ integration charges for each sat vs $42M+ integration charges on an F9R.

A price of $570/lb starts to get to the magical large structure in-space construction viability points such as for an SPS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/07/2016 10:29 AM
That would be a second FH launch inside 2016. That's...eh..very optimistic of him... :P
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH on 01/07/2016 11:52 AM
That would be a second FH launch inside 2016. That's...eh..very optimistic of him... :P

Optimistic? Really? Why? He clearly has much better visibility of SpaceX future schedule, since he is buying into it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/07/2016 11:59 AM
Optimistic? Really? Why? He clearly has much better visibility of SpaceX future schedule, since he is buying into it.

Here is my take on it.

Company CEOs tend to not make an announcement like that, unless they either feel fairly confident that they will not bite their tongue soon-ish, or if there is a hidden agenda behind (like investor/internal company goodwill, putting pressure to the contractor or the competition etc etc).

 FH flying 2+ times inside 2016 seems too good to be true. I was thinking that even getting it to fly inside 2016 would be considered an accomplishment (given the need for SX to launch quickly with F9 due to CRS-7 downtime, as well as the need to finish work on LC-39A)

Moreover, they would need to also provide an additional landing spot for one of the demo boosters. I know that they have LZ-1 and one barge ready, not really know what the status on the second east coast barge is though.

At the same time, I always thought that the STP-2 mission would come after the Demo flight. For example, take a look at this.

Quote
LightSail and Prox-1 will launch to a circular, 720-kilometer orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Liftoff is currently scheduled for Sept. 15, 2016.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20151026-lightsail-ppod-fit-check.html (http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20151026-lightsail-ppod-fit-check.html)

So this could presumably make ViaSat-2 the third "planned" mission inside 2016.

I just can't see it happening.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: macpacheco on 01/07/2016 12:23 PM
The demo mission is likely to be an existing FH manifest mission.
Its mostly a question of how much discount SpaceX will need to give to the customer for the extra risk.
Ok, I don't know that for sure, but that's what smart money would say.

Better get some money for that launch instead of zero money.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH on 01/07/2016 01:29 PM
Optimistic? Really? Why? He clearly has much better visibility of SpaceX future schedule, since he is buying into it.

Here is my take on it.

Company CEOs tend to not make an announcement like that, unless they either feel fairly confident that they will not bite their tongue soon-ish, or if there is a hidden agenda behind (like investor/internal company goodwill, putting pressure to the contractor or the competition etc etc).

 FH flying 2+ times inside 2016 seems too good to be true. I was thinking that even getting it to fly inside 2016 would be considered an accomplishment (given the need for SX to launch quickly with F9 due to CRS-7 downtime, as well as the need to finish work on LC-39A)

Moreover, they would need to also provide an additional landing spot for one of the demo boosters. I know that they have LZ-1 and one barge ready, not really know what the status on the second east coast barge is though.

At the same time, I always thought that the STP-2 mission would come after the Demo flight. For example, take a look at this.

Quote
LightSail and Prox-1 will launch to a circular, 720-kilometer orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Liftoff is currently scheduled for Sept. 15, 2016.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20151026-lightsail-ppod-fit-check.html (http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2015/20151026-lightsail-ppod-fit-check.html)

So this could presumably make ViaSat-2 the third "planned" mission inside 2016.

I just can't see it happening.

If the first F9H launch goes well, what's to stop them fairly quickly doing another one? They have the manufacturing capability AIUI. The first two F9 flights were within 6 months of each other, the next 5 are within 3 months. It's not like they are still very slow at launching stuff (fingers crossed)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/07/2016 03:09 PM
If the first F9H launch goes well, what's to stop them fairly quickly doing another one? They have the manufacturing capability AIUI. The first two F9 flights were within 6 months of each other, the next 5 are within 3 months. It's not like they are still very slow at launching stuff (fingers crossed)

As long as they don't refly stages, their production rate will limit them. As Elon Musk said, at the moment a core every 3 weeks, thats 17 cores in a year. They may have 4 in stock but they won't launch the last two produced this year. So they have 19 cores to launch. That's 14 F9 plus 2 FHeavy or 11 F9 plus 3 FHeavy. I am willing to add one or two reflown cores for 12 or 13 F9 + 3 FHeavy. That's on the optimistic side of realistic. :)

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 01/07/2016 03:17 PM
My money is on the demo launch being a SpaceX special.  They've been trying to sell the payload on that flight for years without success.  I don't think a customer is suddenly going to change their minds now, especially after CRS-7 reminds them that SpaceX is occasionally fallible.

If anything, I'm a little surprised that the lightsail team hasn't taken advantage of the demo flight.  But I think for them the cost to build their payload is really significant, so they don't want to lose it --they've already lost three or so sails by trying to take advantage of bargain basement flights, they're tired of it.

So, my prediction: small noncommercial payload so they can demo/test RTLS or ASDS of the center core (which client commitments would otherwise force them to defer until they find an appropriate future payload in the right size window between F9 and FH).

If going further, I'd say the payload would be something like a cubesat to Mars, with just a radio, solar panels, and a little camera.  Remember that one of the first spacex demo flights was going to attempt a TMI at the end.  I think Elon is a sucker for Mars symbolism, but he's not going to let his team get too sidetracked by it.  It might not even be a cubesat, he might just launch his mass simulator toward Mars.  That's a cheap way to get 95% of the bragging rights ("first commercial payload to Mars") with 5% of the work. (But he does have a whole satellite building group in Seattle, they might have some little components they'd like to expose to space.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/07/2016 03:25 PM
The key here is "Spring".  If SpaceX can really get the demo flight off in the spring, and it is successful, then this seems quite reasonable to me.  I'd guess this means SpaceX currently believes they are on track for the demo flight going in this timeframe, for whatever that is worth.

If spring, we should be seeing FH on the test stand at McGregor within the next couple of months.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bynaus on 01/07/2016 03:29 PM
Quote
Remember that one of the first Dragon demos was going to attempt a TMI at the end.

Never heard of that... Any sources or pointers for that? And - was the attempt successful?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 01/07/2016 03:48 PM
I've been trying to refresh my memory. I think it might have actually been Falcon 1 flight 4?  And the flight was successful, but the TMI relight wasn't.  But SpaceX wasn't in the mood to talk about its failures at the time, and the relight wasn't necessary for flight 5 success.  Perhaps others can fill in my memory?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 01/07/2016 05:10 PM
NASA thinks there will be 2 demo flights of Falcon Heavy in 2016 - see this chart from Spaceport News Magazine:

NASA doesn't "think" it.  It is just regurgitating data publicly available info.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/07/2016 06:18 PM
Of course SpaceX's plans may have changed since the decision to develop FH.

I always thought the first purpose for the FH was to grab those mega Defense contracts from DOD.  The amount of profit that SpaceX could book from a DOD FH launch would fund a lot of development.

Seems the FH could be evolving into a great re-useable vehicle for large commsats. 

I fully expect that demo flight to target a 3 core RTLS.  If there isn't a paying payload that requires a ASDS or expendable core than why wouldn't SpaceX try to get back those 3 fully reuseable cores.  How much would that help production in Hawthorne? 

Finally, if there isn't a paying client, even at a large discount, then I think that SpaceX will just use a payload simulator.  They won't spend time or money on doing that ties up too many hours or dollars.  Maybe something like a cheese wheel but nothing more.  They have enough to work on and don't need to put resources into something 'cute'
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: bstrong on 01/07/2016 06:37 PM
I've been noodling on Musk's comment about FH in the post-landing teleconference ( source (http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/postlanding-teleconference-with-elon-musk-2015-12-22)):

Quote
The Falcon Heavy essentially consists of the Falcon 9 with two modified boost stages attached as strap on boosters. That would be quite an exciting aerial ballet with the two side boosters dropping off and doing a symmetric pirouette back to the launch site. We'd need to have another landing spot for the two boosters and then a third one for the center core. Although I think most of the Falcon Heavy missions will see the center core land on a ship most likely. It's really going ridiculously fast. The transfer energy of Falcon Heavy will more than double that of Falcon 9. The maximum transfer energy is approaching a terajoule.

Since, as I understand it, FH should be able to RTLS with pretty much all comsats, I can interpret this in three ways:

1. He expects comsat launches to account for less than 50% of FH launches, and the rest will be either really big or going to Mars.

2. He expects F9 barging to be cheaper than FH RTLS, so very few comsats will need FH (contrary to current manifest).

3. He's planning to deliver comsats to higher energy orbits, maybe even offering direct GEO insertion at a price that makes sense for customers besides the US government.

I find the third possibility most interesting, since it gives them an even stronger advantage than price alone vs. the competition. Plus, it's a nice market segmentation tool, which can help them remain profitable while lowering baseline prices to grow the market.

Does anyone have an estimate for direct GEO insertion payload capability with center core barging?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 01/07/2016 07:07 PM
Does anyone have an estimate for direct GEO insertion payload capability with center core barging?

According to this page (http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_det/falcon-9-heavy.htm):

FH (non-crossfeed, expendable) LEO 45 tonnes, GTO 18.95 tonnes, GEO 9.375 tonnes
FH (non-crossfeed, reusable) LEO 32.45 tonnes, GTO 13.65 tonnes, GEO 6.75 tonnes
FH (crossfeed, expendable) 53 tonnes, GTO 22.34 tonnes, GEO 11.04 tonnes
FH (crossfeed, reusable) 38.25 tonnes, GTO 16.1 tonnes, 7.95 tonnes

These appear to assume v1.1 cores, not FT. Even with the old figures, though, that's enough for a reusable FH to be able to put a substantial comsat directly into GEO. Goodby, competition!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/07/2016 07:24 PM
That is just a crude estimate, the author of that page doesn't have access to any more info than we do. I take SpaceX's figure at face value, though it is certainly is to a low altitude and inclination orbit, perhaps assumes launch from Texas, and probably doesn't include margin for reuse and engine-out. And it certainly includes full thrust enhancements.

On that last point, by the way: margin for engine-out and margin for reuse is shared, which means that the effective penalty for reuse is actually much less for payloads that need a lot of engine-out margin.

(And I don't think the 53 ton figure includes cross feed... Cross feed isn't needed if you have a thrust and propellant density improvement.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: NovaSilisko on 01/07/2016 07:34 PM
Does anyone have an estimate for direct GEO insertion payload capability with center core barging?

According to this page (http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_det/falcon-9-heavy.htm):

FH (non-crossfeed, expendable) LEO 45 tonnes, GTO 18.95 tonnes, GEO 9.375 tonnes
FH (non-crossfeed, reusable) LEO 32.45 tonnes, GTO 13.65 tonnes, GEO 6.75 tonnes
FH (crossfeed, expendable) 53 tonnes, GTO 22.34 tonnes, GEO 11.04 tonnes
FH (crossfeed, reusable) 38.25 tonnes, GTO 16.1 tonnes, 7.95 tonnes

These appear to assume v1.1 cores, not FT. Even with the old figures, though, that's enough for a reusable FH to be able to put a substantial comsat directly into GEO. Goodby, competition!

That page needs a bit of TLC. It still mentions parachutes for recovery.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/07/2016 07:37 PM
Some more estimated numbers, from here (Estimates from Feb 2015).
http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html (http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/07/2016 07:42 PM
Those are also just Ed Kyle's opinion.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/07/2016 07:45 PM
Of course. There are no official numbers, except from what SpaceX list on their site.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: bstrong on 01/07/2016 08:55 PM
Some more estimated numbers, from here (Estimates from Feb 2015).
http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html (http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/falconH.html)

Thanks for that link. I don't have the knowledge to extrapolate direct GEO insertion from that, other than to use the escape velocity figure of 3-4t as a lower bound, but even that is useful at the right price.

Wrong thread for this, but looking at the escape velocity payload values for F9FT from the same site, it seems like it might be able to put a 702SP (<2000kg) directly into GEO with S1 recovery, if the mass penalty of the long-duration kit for the S2 isn't too high. This would completely eliminate the main drawback of SEP...

It seems like demonstrating direct GEO insertion (which Shotwell has stated they can do) could really take their launch market disruption to a new level. Or am I wrong to assume that this is a capability commercial customers would take advantage of for an extra, say, $5-10m?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/07/2016 09:00 PM
Or am I wrong to assume that this is a capability commercial customers would take advantage of for an extra, say, $5-10m?
Why would SpaceX charge more?  As long as the S1 is recoverable, of course.  Just makes their overall package even more attractive for prospective clients.  They haven't shown a propensity to nickle-and-dime their customers to date, so I don't really see that happening.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/07/2016 09:04 PM
It seems like demonstrating direct GEO insertion (which Shotwell has stated they can do) could really take their launch market disruption to a new level. Or am I wrong to assume that this is a capability commercial customers would take advantage of for an extra, say, $5-10m?

I don't know if they would like that offer. I don't think though it would be advisable to do. Direct GEO means the upper stage is one more piece of debris up there that cannot deorbit. Upper stages for GTO deorbit.

Direct GEO is something only the DOD wants and even they seem to move away from it. At least they do it for the new generation of GPS sats. The old ones were delivered to their final orbit. The new ones to which SpaceX is bidding are placed in a transfer orbit that allows for upper stage deorbiting.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: bstrong on 01/07/2016 09:46 PM
I don't know if they would like that offer. I don't think though it would be advisable to do. Direct GEO means the upper stage is one more piece of debris up there that cannot deorbit. Upper stages for GTO deorbit.

Yes, didn't really think that part through. Though SpaceX should be mass-producing small, cheap SEP's soon. Maybe you could add an SEP deorbit kit to the S2, as well. But now the whole thing is starting to sound more like a science project than a near-term capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/07/2016 11:28 PM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

This also means that the max for an F9FT would be:
~LEO(285 circular) 21,705kg
~GTO(-1800) 7,654kg

If this is correct then the FHFT max values for expendable are:
without crossfeed, expendable --- 59,850kg
with crossfeed, expendable --- 70,490kg

Can someone say oops for the SLS program!

Edit: the performance query website is http://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov/Pages/Query.aspx (http://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov/Pages/Query.aspx)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: PahTo on 01/07/2016 11:35 PM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

This also means that the max for an F9FT would be:
~LEO(285 circular) 21,705kg
~GTO(-1800) 7,654kg

If this is correct then the FHFT max values for expendable are:
without crossfeed, expendable --- 59,850kg
with crossfeed, expendable --- 70,490kg

Can someone say oops for the SLS program!

While your point is well taken, SpX has noted that crossfeed is off the table for the foreseeable future (and perhaps forever).  If that has changed, please point to where (its hard to keep up with all of the threads and comments!).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/07/2016 11:48 PM
Cross-feed is also not that advantageous if your engines are already high-thrust and highly throttleable.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/07/2016 11:48 PM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

This also means that the max for an F9FT would be:
~LEO(285 circular) 21,705kg
~GTO(-1800) 7,654kg

If this is correct then the FHFT max values for expendable are:
without crossfeed, expendable --- 59,850kg
with crossfeed, expendable --- 70,490kg

Can someone say oops for the SLS program!

While your point is well taken, SpX has noted that crossfeed is off the table for the foreseeable future (and perhaps forever).  If that has changed, please point to where (its hard to keep up with all of the threads and comments!).
On that you may be correct. But when was the foreseeable future greater than the next 3 years for SpaceX.

At a minimum if needed they have the 53mt without needing crossfeed. Its when they may want more then we may see a return of crossfeed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/07/2016 11:53 PM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/08/2016 12:01 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out. That is 3 upgrade cycles for SpaceX. If they determine that they need it for their own plans then it will be done. But other than possibly SLS being canceled with Orion being manifested on FH I don't see crossfeed happening either.

Their own plans being missions to Mars of some sort where a crossfeed FH could be required to get the payload they want through TMI. BTW max TMI for FHFT(with crossfeed) should be about 17.4mt and about 13mt without. So they could send a Dragon to Mars with an FHFT(without crossfeed).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/08/2016 12:08 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out....
...[citation needed]
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: su27k on 01/08/2016 12:50 AM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

I think what is listed is just projected FT upgrade's performance, we know real v1.1's GTO performance from past launches, and it's no where near 5755kg...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/08/2016 12:51 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out....
...[citation needed]

More than a citation, a few billion dollars is needed.  I think a Raptor powered fully reuseable 2 stage vehicle more capable than the FH is a much more likely next vehicle than the BFR.  Which I agree with oldatlas_guy, is at least 10 years away.  Just based on funds and ongoing development efforts.

I think crossfeed is a sexy idea but there are no payloads for it so why spend any time or money on it.  I'd love to see it someday though.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/08/2016 01:19 AM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

I think what is listed is just projected FT upgrade's performance, we know real v1.1's GTO performance from past launches, and it's no where near 5755kg...
The value comes from the algorithm supplied by SpaceX to NASA for performance based on orbit parameters as part of the NLS II contract. It is for the F9v1.1 and not the FT.

Basically the SES-9 sat which is 5300kg was contracted with SpaceX to fly on a F9v1.1 not an F9FT.  SES believed that at the time the contract was made that SpaceX could do it with just the v1.1.

So the value generated by the NASA website is probably very close to the max actual capability of the v1.1. within just a couple of kg. But this is without any margins for engine out or for anything else. S1 to depletion and S2 to depletion.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RonM on 01/08/2016 01:32 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out....
...[citation needed]

Typical aerospace project time. Of course, SpaceX isn't typical.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/08/2016 01:37 AM
Quote
So the value generated by the NASA website is probably very close to the max actual capability of the v1.1. within just a couple of kg. But this is without any margins for engine out or for anything else. S1 to depletion and S2 to depletion.

The biggest demonstrated capability that we have about Falcon 9 v1.1 is 4,707kg to GTO-1800.
SES9 was supposed to be a sub-synchronous mission before F9 FT came along. It may still be (if the first stage lands).



Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/08/2016 01:39 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out....
...[citation needed]

Typical aerospace project time. Of course, SpaceX isn't typical.
I hope you are right. I would love to see them produce the Raptor in 3 years and the BFR/MCT 3 years after that in 2022.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: copper8 on 01/08/2016 01:42 AM
Don't forget, the first successful flight of the Falcon 1 was less than 10 years ago.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: su27k on 01/08/2016 02:29 AM
Just to give you a piece of information about performance. On the NASA NLS II website using the performance query and entering 28.5 degree inclination and 285km circular orbit the output for the F9v1.1 payload value is 16,320kg.

GTO-1800 5,755kg

So if SpaceX sandbagged the listed performance on F9v1.1 shown on their website then how much sandbagging did they do for the FHv1.1 performance they show on their website?

I think what is listed is just projected FT upgrade's performance, we know real v1.1's GTO performance from past launches, and it's no where near 5755kg...
The value comes from the algorithm supplied by SpaceX to NASA for performance based on orbit parameters as part of the NLS II contract. It is for the F9v1.1 and not the FT.

I see what you mean, that number hasn't changed since 2012...

But it's not impossible that they would be think about upgrade v1.1 back in 2012, or more likely what they thought of as v1.1 back in 2012 is actually the FT version of today. I think they said they run out of time qualifying M1D for full thrust for v1.1, so what we call v1.1 today is an underperformed version of the ideal v1.1 they planned back in 2012 (it would also explain why they don't want to give a new version number for FT).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 01/08/2016 04:26 AM
On the subject of crossfeed and its value given Merlins can throttle, note they can also restart. So some of the center core engines could be intentionally shut down entirely shortly after takeoff, and then relit maybe 150 seconds later as the side boosters were running empty.... Absolutely no new technology required for that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: macpacheco on 01/08/2016 05:47 AM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
The fact is FHE (with side sticks RTLS and center booster expended) has more performance than pretty much any within earth orbit mission ordered worldwide and likely future missions.
And the number of missions that would require the center booster to be expended is tiny.
So this whole debate is ignoring the obvious extremely low likelyhood that SpaceX will actually need to iterate on FH cross feed.
Having an Eagle Lite type rocket will do everything FH can do, with both stages RTLS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: MP99 on 01/08/2016 07:13 AM
I've been noodling on Musk's comment about FH in the post-landing teleconference ( source (http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/postlanding-teleconference-with-elon-musk-2015-12-22)):

Quote
The Falcon Heavy essentially consists of the Falcon 9 with two modified boost stages attached as strap on boosters. That would be quite an exciting aerial ballet with the two side boosters dropping off and doing a symmetric pirouette back to the launch site. We'd need to have another landing spot for the two boosters and then a third one for the center core. Although I think most of the Falcon Heavy missions will see the center core land on a ship most likely. It's really going ridiculously fast. The transfer energy of Falcon Heavy will more than double that of Falcon 9. The maximum transfer energy is approaching a terajoule.

Since, as I understand it, FH should be able to RTLS with pretty much all comsats, I can interpret this in three ways:

1. He expects comsat launches to account for less than 50% of FH launches, and the rest will be either really big or going to Mars.

2. He expects F9 barging to be cheaper than FH RTLS, so very few comsats will need FH (contrary to current manifest).

3. He's planning to deliver comsats to higher energy orbits, maybe even offering direct GEO insertion at a price that makes sense for customers besides the US government.

I find the third possibility most interesting, since it gives them an even stronger advantage than price alone vs. the competition. Plus, it's a nice market segmentation tool, which can help them remain profitable while lowering baseline prices to grow the market.

4. He's planning to use the extra performance to allow recovery of the upper stage. (More likely, extended tests with little hope of recovery in the early tests.)

There is a huge performance penalty for doing this on GTO missions. But, possibly, treated as an R&D project for recovering BFR MCTs, which will have a substantial tanking element.

Of course, Elon has said they have abandoned upper stage recovery for now, so this is less likely than your suggestions.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/08/2016 02:31 PM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
BFR/BFS/MCT still looks to be 10 years out....
...[citation needed]

Typical aerospace project time. Of course, SpaceX isn't typical.
I hope you are right. I would love to see them produce the Raptor in 3 years and the BFR/MCT 3 years after that in 2022.
My point is that I see no citation that BFR is 10 years out. Musk suggested around 2020. If SpaceX is planning for BFR to be so close, they may steer whatever development resources that cross feed would take toward accelerating BFR instead, just like they seem to have done with the reusable upper stage. (This logic holds even if BFR eventually takes longer, because we're talking about SpaceX's plans & resource allocation decisions.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/08/2016 02:33 PM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
The fact is FHE (with side sticks RTLS and center booster expended) has more performance than pretty much any within earth orbit mission ordered worldwide and likely future missions.
And the number of missions that would require the center booster to be expended is tiny.
So this whole debate is ignoring the obvious extremely low likelyhood that SpaceX will actually need to iterate on FH cross feed.
Having an Eagle Lite type rocket will do everything FH can do, with both stages RTLS.
Yeah, that's my point.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/08/2016 04:34 PM
SpaceX may retire Falcon Heavy before doing cross-feed. A large single-core vehicle like BFR may be more operationally efficient and could be fully reusable while getting a lot more payload.
The fact is FHE (with side sticks RTLS and center booster expended) has more performance than pretty much any within earth orbit mission ordered worldwide and likely future missions.
And the number of missions that would require the center booster to be expended is tiny.
So this whole debate is ignoring the obvious extremely low likelyhood that SpaceX will actually need to iterate on FH cross feed.
Having an Eagle Lite type rocket will do everything FH can do, with both stages RTLS.
Yeah, that's my point.
Considering the way SpaceX does things in an incremental manner, we probably would not see crossfeed for at least 3 years and possibly as much as 6 years. SpaceX improvement cycle is currently averaging 2.5 years. The next item in improvement is reuse full scale (almost al flights reuse the boosters) such that prices drop by >30% over the current and possibly as much as 50%. If reuse eventually reduces the F9 price by $25M to $35M then the FH price over its expendable price whatever that is would reduce by $75M Or to put it more easily to only $10M more than the F9R price or $45M. This is what I see as their next improvement. Not so much a technological one but a revolutionary economic one. By the end of this year we may actually see the SpaceX pricing for reusable flights become the baseline with a delta extra charge to schedule for the first use or for use of the vehicle's full expendable capability.

Then in 6 years they will do something else to up the performance or introduce additional tech to lower the cost or turnaround time for the reusable boosters. What they will do even in 3 years from now is a guess. Although Raptor fits in there somewhere with it possibly going into full scale engine tests at around 2019. The earliest BFR testing would about 3 years after that 2022 with a dummy upper stage(MCT) to test the BFR by itself and hopefully recover the stage. Once that is accomplished then initial tests of the MCT: first just to get to  orbit and then successfully landing the stage back on Earth.

The real question about FH's future revolves around SpaceX's plans of it's use for their own purposes. Even that in the next 3 years is a question much less in 6 years. With SpaceX's history our crystal ball only extends just a few years out and even then is highly prone to errors. For something as far out as BFR/MCT even just Raptor which is at or greater than 3 years away, it is really tentative from the standpoint of what it will be and when it would occur.

Edit: The price values were in error ($10M to much if the price drops $25M).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Surfdaddy on 01/09/2016 07:25 PM
What if SpaceX wants to just recover a bunch of Falcon 9 cores, and then they have all these "free" cores to do with as they please? They could use them themselves for Mars exploratory/technology proving missions at relatively low cost, largely funded by their commercial business.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: clongton on 01/09/2016 07:58 PM
My point is that I see no citation that BFR is 10 years out. Musk suggested around 2020. If SpaceX is planning for BFR to be so close, they may steer whatever development resources that cross feed would take toward accelerating BFR instead, just like they seem to have done with the reusable upper stage. (This logic holds even if BFR eventually takes longer, because we're talking about SpaceX's plans & resource allocation decisions.)

Agree. At the time that cross feed was introduced in conjunction with the Falcon Heavy, the BFR didn't even exist conceptually. The cross-feed was supposed to increase the FH throw capability so that their "Heavy" could lift larger payloads. Given what we know now it is apparent that throttling the core engines can accomplish most (not all) that cross-feed could provide for virtually no additional expense. There is no documentation to back this up but everything I have seen to date indicates to me that BFR replaces FH with cross-feed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Semmel on 01/10/2016 12:37 AM
Crossfeed made much more sense when the side boosters were larger than the core booster. However, that changed and with that change, crossfeed lost its biggest advantage. I think I remember that the side boosters are essentially F9 cores and the center core of the F9H is a specialized version that is stronger, they cant incrrease the size of the side boosters without creating a new production version of the boosters. That might be too expensive. If SpaceX decides that its worth the trouble to make the side boosters special, like making them larger, crossfeed might come back. Seems unlikely to me.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 01/10/2016 02:11 AM
What if SpaceX wants to just recover a bunch of Falcon 9 cores, and then they have all these "free" cores to do with as they please? They could use them themselves for Mars exploratory/technology proving missions at relatively low cost, largely funded by their commercial business.

I'm pretty sure that's the plan.  Initially, they'll have more used cores than they can use for commercial purposes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 01/10/2016 05:56 AM
Nine Merlin engines have now been recovered. But no Merlin engine has yet been recovered twice. I think SpaceX will change that quickly. It seems to me quite possible that the very first FH side boosters will each have one engine which has been previously flown.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/10/2016 03:26 PM
What we know:
1- M1D+ SL thrust 170klbf 15.6% more thrust
2- M1DVAC+ thrust 210klbf >15.6% more thrust with slight ISP increase due to longer nozzle
3- F9FT has 33% more performance than F9v1.1 ?(to LEO? to GTO?)
4- Denseified prop adds ~6.7% to prop load on 1st and 2nd stage combined which includes more volume on lengthened 2nd stage
5- 2nd stage has lengthened by ?(I could not find the exact value but it should be a known value) increaseing the prop volume by ?%
6- PF for 1st stage has increased (easily calculated for existing information and new weight and length measurements)
7- PF for 2nd stage has increased (easily calculated for existing information and new weight and length measurements)

What we don't know:
1- FHFT performance (all RTLS, booster's RTLS and center ASDS, booster's ASDS and center expended, all expended)
2- FHFT prices
3- 1st stage average refurbishment costs
4- 1st stage total incremental costs for a new booster (manufacturing, testing, shipping, and other misc before arrival at pad)
5- M1D+ engine life (average number of full duration burns without a rebuild+ average number of starts without a rebuild)
6- turnaround time (average time of total of refurbishment time and processing time [launch to launch])
7- stage life before rebuild or discard (number of allowable flights at about same reliability level)

What we think we know:
1- FHFT will not for foreseeable future (at least 3 years) use crossfeed
2- FHFT can provide the same performance that FHv1.1 with crossfeed could
3- FHFT can do all RTLS without significantly less performance than the FHv1.1 without crossfeed (normal usage low price heavy GTO mission)

Please add data or corrections where appropriate.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: alang on 01/10/2016 04:07 PM
Is it still possible that spacex could wait until they are ready to refly two used F9RFT first stages as side boosters before doing the Falcon heavy demo?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/10/2016 04:14 PM
Is it still possible that spacex could wait until they are ready to refly two used F9RFT first stages as side boosters before doing the Falcon heavy demo?

They need FH asap. They want to be able to fly all military payloads, meaning be certified, by the end of the block buy and that requires FH performance.

It seems the FH sideboosters and F9 core are mostly the same but not interchangeable. So they need boosters and prove reusability with F9, but they will reuse only FH side boosters for FH.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 01/10/2016 04:34 PM
I believe we've already seen the FH side boosters in the factory.  So they had to decide a while ago not to wait until landings were successful. (A good decision, in my book.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante80 on 01/10/2016 04:49 PM
I remember seeing the unpainted caps for the boosters, but not the side cores assembled with them. Do you have a source for that (its an interesting subject)?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 01/10/2016 04:54 PM
A) It's not clear that FH can handle a fairing 2.3 times its core...
For larger objects, it may be possible to design a fairing that doesn't have circular cross section, looking down from the top.  This has been done before.  In fact, both the current and future Dragon capsules don't have circular cross sections.

For Falcon Heavy, I can imagine a PLF that is wider in the axis of the booster stages.  This could accommodate larger items, for example a Mars landing heat shield.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/10/2016 05:19 PM
I believe we've already seen the FH side boosters in the factory.  So they had to decide a while ago not to wait until landings were successful. (A good decision, in my book.)

If they want to fly the FH by the end of the first half of the year the first FH cores should be about ready to leave Hawthorne for McGregor.

I think many of us gloss over how much work the FH is than the F9.  There are similarities to be sure but the side boosters are longer, the core has to be structurally different to support the loads of the side boosters. 

I think that if April is to realistic those cores need to be making their way to McGregor very soon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/10/2016 06:20 PM
If they want to fly the FH by the end of the first half of the year the first FH cores should be about ready to leave Hawthorne for McGregor.

I think many of us gloss over how much work the FH is than the F9.  There are similarities to be sure but the side boosters are longer, the core has to be structurally different to support the loads of the side boosters. 

I think that if April is to realistic those cores need to be making their way to McGregor very soon.

I agree that qualification of FH will be a complex process. Once that and the first flight is done I hope though that getting FH launch ready won't be too complex.

BTW the present version of FH has no extended cores on the side boosters. That has been abandoned to streamline production. It is shown in the latest animation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Saabstory88 on 01/10/2016 06:50 PM

What we don't know:
1- FHFT performance (all RTLS, booster's RTLS and center ASDS, booster's ASDS and center expended, all expended)
2- FHFT prices
3- 1st stage average refurbishment costs
4- 1st stage total incremental costs for a new booster (manufacturing, testing, shipping, and other misc before arrival at pad)
5- M1D+ engine life (average number of full duration burns without a rebuild+ average number of starts without a rebuild)
6- turnaround time (average time of total of refurbishment time and processing time [launch to launch])
7- stage life before rebuild or discard (number of allowable flights at about same reliability level)

Please add data or corrections where appropriate.

8- Maximum atmospheric interface velocity of an F9 core which is survivable. Because they only have one type of upper stage, this number will determine the upper limit of the Falcon Heavy performance for standard payloads.

I imagine missions which expend the center core will be far more costly.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 01/10/2016 08:11 PM

What we don't know:
1- FHFT performance (all RTLS, booster's RTLS and center ASDS, booster's ASDS and center expended, all expended)
2- FHFT prices
3- 1st stage average refurbishment costs
4- 1st stage total incremental costs for a new booster (manufacturing, testing, shipping, and other misc before arrival at pad)
5- M1D+ engine life (average number of full duration burns without a rebuild+ average number of starts without a rebuild)
6- turnaround time (average time of total of refurbishment time and processing time [launch to launch])
7- stage life before rebuild or discard (number of allowable flights at about same reliability level)

Please add data or corrections where appropriate.

8- Maximum atmospheric interface velocity of an F9 core which is survivable. Because they only have one type of upper stage, this number will determine the upper limit of the Falcon Heavy performance for standard payloads.

I imagine missions which expend the center core will be far more costly.
Of all the possible hypothetical future mods, I think a stretched upper stage is near the top of the list.

Make sense to enlarge it if you're enlarging the first stage by 3:1 (effectively even more), and it also makes recovery easier.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/10/2016 08:55 PM

What we don't know:
1- FHFT performance (all RTLS, booster's RTLS and center ASDS, booster's ASDS and center expended, all expended)
2- FHFT prices
3- 1st stage average refurbishment costs
4- 1st stage total incremental costs for a new booster (manufacturing, testing, shipping, and other misc before arrival at pad)
5- M1D+ engine life (average number of full duration burns without a rebuild+ average number of starts without a rebuild)
6- turnaround time (average time of total of refurbishment time and processing time [launch to launch])
7- stage life before rebuild or discard (number of allowable flights at about same reliability level)

Please add data or corrections where appropriate.

8- Maximum atmospheric interface velocity of an F9 core which is survivable. Because they only have one type of upper stage, this number will determine the upper limit of the Falcon Heavy performance for standard payloads.

I imagine missions which expend the center core will be far more costly.
Of all the possible hypothetical future mods, I think a stretched upper stage is near the top of the list.

Make sense to enlarge it if you're enlarging the first stage by 3:1 (effectively even more), and it also makes recovery easier.
By going to 5m diameter for the US you can double the tank volume and only increase the tank weight by 50%. This not only increases the total propellant but also increases the effective PF far more than just the doubling of the stage scale. This increased size stage (no taller than the existing one) would greatly increase the high energy orbit payloads size.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 01/10/2016 09:14 PM

What we don't know:
1- FHFT performance (all RTLS, booster's RTLS and center ASDS, booster's ASDS and center expended, all expended)
2- FHFT prices
3- 1st stage average refurbishment costs
4- 1st stage total incremental costs for a new booster (manufacturing, testing, shipping, and other misc before arrival at pad)
5- M1D+ engine life (average number of full duration burns without a rebuild+ average number of starts without a rebuild)
6- turnaround time (average time of total of refurbishment time and processing time [launch to launch])
7- stage life before rebuild or discard (number of allowable flights at about same reliability level)

Please add data or corrections where appropriate.

8- Maximum atmospheric interface velocity of an F9 core which is survivable. Because they only have one type of upper stage, this number will determine the upper limit of the Falcon Heavy performance for standard payloads.

I imagine missions which expend the center core will be far more costly.
Of all the possible hypothetical future mods, I think a stretched upper stage is near the top of the list.

Make sense to enlarge it if you're enlarging the first stage by 3:1 (effectively even more), and it also makes recovery easier.
By going to 5m diameter for the US you can double the tank volume and only increase the tank weight by 50%. This not only increases the total propellant but also increases the effective PF far more than just the doubling of the stage scale. This increased size stage (no taller than the existing one) would greatly increase the high energy orbit payloads size.
Yup.

The stretch tank is less of a manufacturing/transport change, but clearly a wider tank is a better perspective former.  <-- auto corrupt.  Performer.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: MikeAtkinson on 01/10/2016 09:16 PM
By going to 5m diameter for the US you can double the tank volume and only increase the tank weight by 50%. This not only increases the total propellant but also increases the effective PF far more than just the doubling of the stage scale. This increased size stage (no taller than the existing one) would greatly increase the high energy orbit payloads size.

I agree, but the diameter would be 5.2m (same as the fairing).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Danderman on 01/11/2016 03:53 AM
Since it is a new year, let me repeat my prediction of several years ago, concerning FH:

There never will be a 50 ton version of this launcher.  At some point in the development of the FH, SpaceX will also develop larger engines and a new generation core stage, making FH obsolete. As such, FH will indeed fly some years down the road, but without the elaborate cross plumbed engines,  resulting in FH basically flying as a 27 engine Delta IV Heavy.

I would imagine soon after an initial launch of FH, SpaceX will already be focused on the follow-on, and FH will rarely fly.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/11/2016 04:25 AM
Since it is a new year, let me repeat my prediction of several years ago, concerning FH:

There never will be a 50 ton version of this launcher.  At some point in the development of the FH, SpaceX will also develop larger engines and a new generation core stage, making FH obsolete. As such, FH will indeed fly some years down the road, but without the elaborate cross plumbed engines,  resulting in FH basically flying as a 27 engine Delta IV Heavy.

I would imagine soon after an initial launch of FH, SpaceX will already be focused on the follow-on, and FH will rarely fly.

Depending on how efficient reuse operations become, this includes the success rate DPL recovery.  I can see the FH flying often for Larger payloads with 3 cores RTLS.

I agree that the evolution of FH is likely limited.  Perhap US improvements and small tweaks (mostly to improve reuse ability) here and there but they will move onto ramping up production of F9s and FHs and that MethLOx stuff.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 01/11/2016 08:35 AM
Since it is a new year, let me repeat my prediction of several years ago, concerning FH:

There never will be a 50 ton version of this launcher.  At some point in the development of the FH, SpaceX will also develop larger engines and a new generation core stage, making FH obsolete. As such, FH will indeed fly some years down the road, but without the elaborate cross plumbed engines,  resulting in FH basically flying as a 27 engine Delta IV Heavy.

I would imagine soon after an initial launch of FH, SpaceX will already be focused on the follow-on, and FH will rarely fly.
The nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of becoming reality. On the other hand, the nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of not becoming reality.
Time will tell what becomes of your prediction.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bynaus on 01/11/2016 09:10 AM
Quote
The nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of becoming reality.

I predict that my next throw of a die will not yield a 6... Are you ready to pick up that bet at 1:1? :) Probability doesn't work that way. It's "successful outcomes divided by trials", but being "wrong" or "right" does not represent trials - in fact, there is only one trial (whatever the future actually holds), and in that future, either there will be many, or not so many FH flights, which might then be used to evaluate whether Danderman was right or not. But you cannot really assign a probability to that kind of prediction.

On an unrelated note, I agree with Danderman. A rocket that can potentially transport 100 passengers to Mars with 1 ton of cargo each, for 0.5 M$ per passenger (i.e., 500$/kg to Mars) will outcompete the FH (~2000 $/kg to LEO; likely lower with re-use, but even then) completely. When the BFR flies, it will be the end of the evolutionary line for F9 and FH. The question is of course how long it will take to go from FH to BFR, and whether having a FH during that time helps SpaceX to realize its Mars plans - the answer is yes, certainly (think military contracts, heavy GTO fully reusable, etc). So yes, the FH will fly, but only until the BFR comes along.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mader Levap on 01/11/2016 10:31 AM
Quote
The nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of becoming reality.

I predict that my next throw of a die will not yield a 6... Are you ready to pick up that bet at 1:1? :)
I think he was sarcastic.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bynaus on 01/11/2016 10:39 AM
Quote
The nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of becoming reality.

I predict that my next throw of a die will not yield a 6... Are you ready to pick up that bet at 1:1? :)
I think he was sarcastic.

Ah, ok. We need a sacrasm sign for non-native english speakers. ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 01/11/2016 10:58 AM
Quote
The nice thing about predictions is that they come with a 50 percent chance of becoming reality.

I predict that my next throw of a die will not yield a 6... Are you ready to pick up that bet at 1:1? :)
I think he was sarcastic.
That's a fact.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: tp1024 on 01/11/2016 11:11 AM
Of all the possible hypothetical future mods, I think a stretched upper stage is near the top of the list.

Make sense to enlarge it if you're enlarging the first stage by 3:1 (effectively even more), and it also makes recovery easier.
By going to 5m diameter for the US you can double the tank volume and only increase the tank weight by 50%. This not only increases the total propellant but also increases the effective PF far more than just the doubling of the stage scale. This increased size stage (no taller than the existing one) would greatly increase the high energy orbit payloads size.

Or you could put regular 2nd stage tanks on top of the sideboosters too. (Think of 3 complete F9 side by side, with the payload being on the central one.) Then either crossfeed fuel to the center engine or equip the side tanks/booster with engines too. I don't think that the M1Vac can deal with accelerating a 300-400ton mass after staging, with some 93tons of thrust.

Makes staging events much more complex, but you could use existing production and transport infrastructure.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/11/2016 02:02 PM
I have to shake my head at people that believe that the BFR will exist any time soon.  How long has it taken SpaceX to get the FH ready for maybe debuting this year?

F9FT eating into the FH's margins is definitely a thing and a more reasonable reason to think the FH will play a less important role in SpaceX's fleet.  But it won't be replaced for quite some time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/11/2016 02:19 PM
I have to shake my head at people that believe that the BFR will exist any time soon.  How long has it taken SpaceX to get the FH ready for maybe debuting this year?

F9FT eating into the FH's margins is definitely a thing and a more reasonable reason to think the FH will play a less important role in SpaceX's fleet.  But it won't be replaced for quite some time.

I agree that FH won't be replaced for some time... or be replaced ever as long as F9 is flying. Also believe that it will fly a lot.  Shotwell agrees, by the way, as her past statements about FH's role in Mars preps.  Fuel transport is the obvious niche...

But I'm also in that unbelievable group that thinks BFR will exist 'soon' as long as you allow soon to be defined as the next 5-6 years.  FH's work may be cut into by BFR some day as Mars effort ramps up, but I expect FH doing a big job for the next decade or more.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Craig_VG on 01/11/2016 03:57 PM
I have to shake my head at people that believe that the BFR will exist any time soon.  How long has it taken SpaceX to get the FH ready for maybe debuting this year?

F9FT eating into the FH's margins is definitely a thing and a more reasonable reason to think the FH will play a less important role in SpaceX's fleet.  But it won't be replaced for quite some time.

I think it's important to realize that the length of time it took to get FH to flight is not comparable to BFR. Here's why:

FH is completely dependant on the performance and reusability evolution of F9. It didn't pay to launch FH until the design of the F9 was more or less finalized. SpaceX's original announcement was premature as they kept finding ways to improve the single stick.

I think you can compare the BFR to the original F9 development.

BFR is an end for SpaceX. It's the essential element to achieve the goal of the company. They will prioritize its development.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: DigitalMan on 01/11/2016 04:04 PM
I have to shake my head at people that believe that the BFR will exist any time soon.  How long has it taken SpaceX to get the FH ready for maybe debuting this year?

F9FT eating into the FH's margins is definitely a thing and a more reasonable reason to think the FH will play a less important role in SpaceX's fleet.  But it won't be replaced for quite some time.

I think it's important to realize that the length of time it took to get FH to flight is not comparable to BFR. Here's why:

FH is completely dependant on the performance and reusability evolution of F9. It didn't pay to launch FH until the design of the F9 was more or less finalized. SpaceX's original announcement was premature as they kept finding ways to improve the single stick.

I think you can compare the BFR to the original F9 development.

BFR is an end for SpaceX. It's the essential element to achieve the goal of the company. They will prioritize its development.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Also, Gwynne had testified that FH had been put on the back burner for some period of time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/11/2016 04:22 PM
I think it's important to realize that the length of time it took to get FH to flight is not comparable to BFR. Here's why:

FH is completely dependant on the performance and reusability evolution of F9. It didn't pay to launch FH until the design of the F9 was more or less finalized. SpaceX's original announcement was premature as they kept finding ways to improve the single stick.

I think you can compare the BFR to the original F9 development.

BFR is an end for SpaceX. It's the essential element to achieve the goal of the company. They will prioritize its development.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

I believe we are in full agreement. I would formulate it a bit different though.

Up to now there was no urgent need for FH. Building a 1.1 FH would take away cores for single launches. Instead they developed FT and first stage landing. Now they have that they ramp up core production and build FH. Building a 1.1 FH would mean they now have to develop a significantly different FH. The need now is for the DOD, for their own Mars ambitions, sending Red Dragon. And for launching even the heaviest commercial payloads in reusable mode.

Edit: Which means the reasons for delaying FH don't apply for BFR/MCT. I too expect to see it in a 5 year timeframe.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/11/2016 05:23 PM
I think it's important to realize that the length of time it took to get FH to flight is not comparable to BFR. Here's why:

FH is completely dependant on the performance and reusability evolution of F9. It didn't pay to launch FH until the design of the F9 was more or less finalized. SpaceX's original announcement was premature as they kept finding ways to improve the single stick.

I think you can compare the BFR to the original F9 development.

BFR is an end for SpaceX. It's the essential element to achieve the goal of the company. They will prioritize its development.

Correct me if I'm wrong, though.

I believe we are in full agreement. I would formulate it a bit different though.

Up to now there was no urgent need for FH. Building a 1.1 FH would take away cores for single launches. Instead they developed FT and first stage landing. Now they have that they ramp up core production and build FH. Building a 1.1 FH would mean they now have to develop a significantly different FH. The need now is for the DOD, for their own Mars ambitions, sending Red Dragon. And for launching even the heaviest commercial payloads in reusable mode.

Edit: Which means the reasons for delaying FH don't apply for BFR/MCT. I too expect to see it in a 5 year timeframe.
FH life is indeed tied to the arrival of BFR/MCT.

But the arrival of BFR/MCT is directly tied to the engine work on Raptor. Once Raptor proceeds into full scale engine testing. There may be several iterations each an improvement of thrust and ISP but these will be optimizations of the design and not real redesigns occurring in this initial testing over a short period maybe even less than a year. But the vehicle designs are all at the mercy of having an actual predictable end point design of the Raptor's physical characteristics. Until that point which will be shortly after full scale testing begins, the vehicle designs will rapidly take on a more exacting physical form vs the mathematical concepts until the Raptor is defined. So the crystal ball is such that several years after Raptor reaches its full scale testing a vehicle for a first flight test will show up depending on available reinvestment funding. The more available funds the shorter the time span up to a point (probable minimum is 2 years, max would be 5 years if funding is minimal).

So the basic question on BFR/MCT arrival onto the scene is when will Raptor arrive on the scene? There are some questins that have to be answered before MCT can be designed such as the Raptor performance in a hyper-velocity burn both in an Earth reentry and in a Mars atmosphere entry. FH could be used to lift a prototype scale test vehicle with a single Raptor to test the concepts and gather hard data. The time frame between a Raptor existence and the MCT existence may be longer than most realize. But the timeframe between Raptor and BFR may be short indeed. With an interim expendable US design that vehicle would put any HLLV system currently in existence or being designed out of work (180mt-210mt to LEO but with only 1st stage reuse).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/11/2016 05:34 PM
I agree FH took longer than it had to, because SpaceX didn't really "need" it until now, and the F9 was a moving target.  I also think it took longer because SpaceX is fully committed with everything else they are doing.  It is also fair to say that FH is much easier to develop than BFR will be.

5-6 years till first launch of BFR... let's call it January 2022... seems very optimistic to me.  Let me ask a few honest questions:

-When do people see Raptor being fully qualified?
-When do people see an EIS for a site that can launch a BRF approved?
-When do people see a launch site that can launch BFR developed?

Keep in mind:
-Raptor (from public info) appears to be still in pretty early development
-Boca Chica hasn't even broke ground yet.
-SpaceX is focused on
1) Catching up on their F9 backlog.
2) Barge landing
3) Stage reuse
4) Finishing up 39A
5) Falcon Heavy debut
6) CRS2 (likely to be some changes to their offering from CRS)
7) DragonV2 / Commercial Crew
8\) Boca Chica developed and brought online
9) ConstellationX
10) ? (probably missing at least one thing here)

Most of up through 7 should be basically complete by end of '17.  I imagine Raptor will be CDR and the initial version will be design frozen.  I think Boca Chica comes online in '18.  Even then we're talking four years to build, test, and fully qualify Raptor, build the rocket, secure an EIS for and build the launch site, etc, all while the rest of the business is operating at a launch rate not seen since the Soviets in the 80's.  While reusing 1st stages, and spending a lot of time improving and automating their work flow to even be able to achieve such a rate in the first place.

And, oh yeah, that assumes everything goes right and there are no setbacks.  Difficulty developing Raptor (which would not be surprising), difficulty securing a launch site for BFR, difficulty in just launching "boring" F9 and FH, etc.

Seems like a very tall order.  If in 5-6 years SpaceX has done all that, established a new BFR launch site, and launched a BFR, I will be astonished.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RoboGoofers on 01/11/2016 06:41 PM
Seems like a very tall order.  If in 5-6 years SpaceX has done all that, established a new BFR launch site, and launched a BFR, I will be astonished.

Furthermore, will they launch a BFR without qualifying it can land? if not, they'll need a Grasshopper 2 test program. And also an MTC landing test. They'll probably want Dragon 2 fully propulsive landing with people in it before they launch an MTC.

(edit: Oh and pad and inflight abort for MTC)

I just don't think that'll happen before 2025.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/11/2016 07:12 PM
...Up to now there was no urgent need for FH. Building a 1.1 FH would take away cores for single launches. Instead they developed FT and first stage landing. Now they have that they ramp up core production and build FH. Building a 1.1 FH would mean they now have to develop a significantly different FH. The need now is for the DOD, for their own Mars ambitions, sending Red Dragon. And for launching even the heaviest commercial payloads in reusable mode.

Edit: Which means the reasons for delaying FH don't apply for BFR/MCT. I too expect to see it in a 5 year timeframe.

I think the original reasoning for FH was likely chasing the largest defense payloads and the mega paydays those provide.  Profit from 1 defense FH launch is probably equal to 10 commercial launches.

Now it looks to be the fully reuseable first stage for larger Commsats. 

The day dream of Red Dragon and Mars all need to be backseat to those endeavors that generates profit.

Edit: Regarding Raptor, I can see it spending far more time on the test stand and being developed and tested exhaustively.  When Raptor and the vehicle it powers first flies we'll see a more mature product than the Merlin 1. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 01/13/2016 08:45 AM
I'm not so sure about FH being obsolete when BFR enters the stage.

Imagine some DOD-payload that needs to be brought onto a polar orbit (spy sats love being in polar orbits). Currently only vandenberg is equipped for polar orbit launches (as not stage would fall into inhabited areas. True, some day in the future, when BFR is so reliable that they can risk it (and a BFR first stage crash is as likely as a commercial plane crash), they can risk doing a polar orbit from cape canaveral or boca chica, but until then, they are restricted to vandenberg.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/13/2016 12:36 PM
Regarding Raptor, I can see it spending far more time on the test stand and being developed and tested exhaustively.  When Raptor and the vehicle it powers first flies we'll see a more mature product than the Merlin 1.

I agree, they will need a very well developed Raptor, though they will probably still improve it over time with experience. That's why I don't expect Raptor to be ready before 2018/19. Don't underestimate, how far along they already are. We know that the two most critical components already have been tested at full scale. The oxygen rich preburner and the main combustion chamber injector. Actually I would not be too surprised if we see the first full scale development test engine this year or early next year.

The most critical element is building permit for the launch pad. That will control the timing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/13/2016 01:54 PM
They might not launch BFR from land, but on a large offshore platform.  Liquid natural gas can be piped from land to the pad offshore as well as LOX, or they can use an LNG ship to fuel the rocket.  From a few hundred yards to a few miles offshore in the shallow Gulf of Mexico offshore Texas would be much easier.  It could even be in international waters thus avoiding all the red tape from the Feds.  The platform could be anchored in the gulf and built like the giant platforms used in the North Sea. 

I know this is a FH discussion thread, but FH can send payloads to Mars.  Depending on how SLS pans out, NASA might use FH with a hydrolox upper stage for deep space probes or Mars work, and that would depend on Vulcan's time table.  If SLS becomes too expensive, NASA can build, design, and with in space assembly, a Mars or moon manned operation with 40-50 ton pieces with money saved from SLS.  Fuel depots, SEP transfers, landing equipment etc could be built and launched with money saved from SLS by FH an Vulcan with much lower launch costs. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dave G on 01/13/2016 02:20 PM
They might not launch BFR from land, but on a large offshore platform.
Why did SpaceX choose South Texas for their new commercial launch site?  Puerto Rico is much closer to the equator, and they wouldn't need to worry about flying over Florida or Cuba (i.e. no need for dogleg flight profile).  The answer: It's more expensive to ship things to Puerto Rico. 

Same for BFR.  They will launch BFR from a land-based site within the continental U.S. to minimize costs.

I know this is a FH discussion thread, but FH can send payloads to Mars.  Depending on how SLS pans out, NASA might use FH with a hydrolox upper stage for deep space probes or Mars work, and that would depend on Vulcan's time table.  If SLS becomes too expensive, NASA can build, design, and with in space assembly...
Earth orbit "assembly" conjures up a lot of negative connotations.  Most people think of assembly as something that would take months or years in earth orbit, making it very costly. 

So I would call it "docking plus a few EVAs" before TMI. 

But yes, I agree that multiple FH flights could be used to for a Mars mission, and this has been discussed in detail in various papers and other threads here.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 01/13/2016 03:05 PM
It could even be in international waters thus avoiding all the red tape from the Feds. 

I don't know, can you legally launch American crewed spacecraft from international waters? American ever-so-faintly-ICBM-like projectiles from international waters? American LVs?

What was the legislature Sea Launch operated under and would that apply here? If I was on capitol hill I can imagining myself bustling to get it to launch from US waters, for whatever reason I may have, politically or practically motivated. It'd be like launching Saturn 5 from international waters.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: HMXHMX on 01/13/2016 05:11 PM
It could even be in international waters thus avoiding all the red tape from the Feds. 

I don't know, can you legally launch American crewed spacecraft from international waters? American ever-so-faintly-ICBM-like projectiles from international waters? American LVs?

What was the legislature Sea Launch operated under and would that apply here? If I was on capitol hill I can imagining myself bustling to get it to launch from US waters, for whatever reason I may have, politically or practically motivated. It'd be like launching Saturn 5 from international waters.

There is no prohibition in place, but there is also no exemption from any regulation or law for a US-person-owned firm conducting launch operations at sea (see for example, SeaLaunch, which had to obtain FAA-AST launch licenses).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/13/2016 05:55 PM
I still say due to the sound problems associated with a 15 m wide 15 million lb thrust rocket, over water is better.  The Gulf of Mexico is very shallow.  I've bottom fished beyond the sight of land offshore.  An oil platform with crane coupled with a barge bringing out the BFR would make it easy over water.  The Boca Chica site will probably still be used to land the BFR as well as F9 and FH boosters.  Either way the BFR cannot be shipped by any other means than barge to a launch site due to shear size.  Unless the factory itself is onshore, with a ramp to carry it out to a launch platform, like the bridges going to Key West.  The Key West bridge originally carried a railroad train, which is probably heavier than an unfueled BFR. 

Sea Dragon was supposed to launch a 20-25m rocket directly off the ocean to give 500 tons to LEO. 

I do think that Boca Chica is only another FH/F9 launch site.  SpaceX with hundreds of internet satelites they plan to launch, is expecting a lot of F9/FH launches, thus needing the extra launch sites. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Donosauro on 01/13/2016 06:26 PM
It could even be in international waters thus avoiding all the red tape from the Feds. 

I don't know, can you legally launch American crewed spacecraft from international waters? American ever-so-faintly-ICBM-like projectiles from international waters? American LVs?

What was the legislature Sea Launch operated under and would that apply here? If I was on capitol hill I can imagining myself bustling to get it to launch from US waters, for whatever reason I may have, politically or practically motivated. It'd be like launching Saturn 5 from international waters.

There is no prohibition in place, but there is also no exemption from any regulation or law for a US-person-owned firm conducting launch operations at sea (see for example, SeaLaunch, which had to obtain FAA-AST launch licenses).

Not even from the need for an EIS?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: HMXHMX on 01/13/2016 06:33 PM
It could even be in international waters thus avoiding all the red tape from the Feds. 

I don't know, can you legally launch American crewed spacecraft from international waters? American ever-so-faintly-ICBM-like projectiles from international waters? American LVs?

What was the legislature Sea Launch operated under and would that apply here? If I was on capitol hill I can imagining myself bustling to get it to launch from US waters, for whatever reason I may have, politically or practically motivated. It'd be like launching Saturn 5 from international waters.

There is no prohibition in place, but there is also no exemption from any regulation or law for a US-person-owned firm conducting launch operations at sea (see for example, SeaLaunch, which had to obtain FAA-AST launch licenses).

Not even from the need for an EIS?

Nope: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/media/final_ea_sea_launch.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/13/2016 08:52 PM
They might not launch BFR from land, but on a large offshore platform.
Why did SpaceX choose South Texas for their new commercial launch site?  Puerto Rico is much closer to the equator, and they wouldn't need to worry about flying over Florida or Cuba (i.e. no need for dogleg flight profile).  The answer: It's more expensive to ship things to Puerto Rico. 

Same for BFR.  They will launch BFR from a land-based site within the continental U.S. to minimize costs.
.,..
Nope, we don't know that. Neither does SpaceX. And we know SpaceX is looking beyond continental US.

This is not Falcon 9, we won't be transporting by road. The same assumptions do not apply.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mvpel on 01/15/2016 06:08 PM
They might not launch BFR from land, but on a large offshore platform.
Why did SpaceX choose South Texas for their new commercial launch site?  Puerto Rico is much closer to the equator, and they wouldn't need to worry about flying over Florida or Cuba (i.e. no need for dogleg flight profile).  The answer: It's more expensive to ship things to Puerto Rico. 

... in more ways than one:

How to Put a Stop to Puerto Rico's Political Corruption (http://blog.panampost.com/frank-worley-lopez/2015/12/09/how-to-put-a-stop-to-puerto-ricos-political-corruption/) - December 9, 2015
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: alang on 01/24/2016 03:01 PM
Given the pressure on the launch schedule, the performance of f9FT,the possibility of a raptorish upper stage implied by the recent contract award, the expressed view that a single stick BFR is better than one with side boosters, slower progress on stage return, BO's progress with methane etc. Is it possible that the heavy will be cancelled and all effort put into raptor variants for both f9 improvement and BFR acceleration.
I doubt that elon musk is likely to fall victim to the fallacy of the sunk cost.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: deltaV on 01/24/2016 03:38 PM
Given the pressure on the launch schedule, the performance of f9FT,the possibility of a raptorish upper stage implied by the recent contract award, the expressed view that a single stick BFR is better than one with side boosters, slower progress on stage return, BO's progress with methane etc. Is it possible that the heavy will be cancelled and all effort put into raptor variants for both f9 improvement and BFR acceleration.
I doubt that elon musk is likely to fall victim to the fallacy of the sunk cost.

SpaceX needs Falcon Heavy to serve many of their customers. The customers wouldn't like waiting for Raptor and SpaceX's bank account wouldn't appreciate the delay either. I would only expect to see Falcon Heavy canceled if a critical flaw is discovered in its design.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: su27k on 01/24/2016 03:42 PM
Given the pressure on the launch schedule, the performance of f9FT,the possibility of a raptorish upper stage implied by the recent contract award, the expressed view that a single stick BFR is better than one with side boosters, slower progress on stage return, BO's progress with methane etc. Is it possible that the heavy will be cancelled and all effort put into raptor variants for both f9 improvement and BFR acceleration.
I doubt that elon musk is likely to fall victim to the fallacy of the sunk cost.

They need FH for precursor Mars missions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/24/2016 03:48 PM
IMO the most pressing reasons to get Falcon Heavy flying are two. One is getting Red Dragon to Mars, but he might be willing to put that off 2-3 years. Even more important he wants to be able to compete the whole range of DOD payloads. Gwynne Shotwell has stated in a Congress Hearing that they want Falcon Heavy to be certified by 2018. That means it must fly 2016.

Falcon 9 in expendable mode will cover near 100% of commercial customer needs and be very competetive.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/24/2016 07:10 PM
Given the pressure on the launch schedule, the performance of f9FT,the possibility of a raptorish upper stage implied by the recent contract award, the expressed view that a single stick BFR is better than one with side boosters, slower progress on stage return, BO's progress with methane etc. Is it possible that the heavy will be cancelled and all effort put into raptor variants for both f9 improvement and BFR acceleration.
I doubt that elon musk is likely to fall victim to the fallacy of the sunk cost.

SpaceX needs Falcon Heavy to serve many of their customers. The customers wouldn't like waiting for Raptor and SpaceX's bank account wouldn't appreciate the delay either. I would only expect to see Falcon Heavy canceled if a critical flaw is discovered in its design.
I think Falcon Heavy will eventually go the way of Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 v1.1. But not for many years.

As far as critical flaw, having more staging events does increase risk somewhat and is more complicated operationally. And methane/LOx would allow easier/faster turnaround. So not "critical" flaws, but long-term, they'll probably go beyond Falcon Heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/25/2016 12:37 AM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 01/25/2016 01:13 AM
It's going to need to do a Post-Soviet Proton for its advantages to be overlooked. It's certainly going to hurt Arianespace.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: BobHk on 01/25/2016 03:07 AM
I still say due to the sound problems associated with a 15 m wide 15 million lb thrust rocket, over water is better.  The Gulf of Mexico is very shallow.  I've bottom fished beyond the sight of land offshore.  An oil platform with crane coupled with a barge bringing out the BFR would make it easy over water.  The Boca Chica site will probably still be used to land the BFR as well as F9 and FH boosters.  Either way the BFR cannot be shipped by any other means than barge to a launch site due to shear size.  Unless the factory itself is onshore, with a ramp to carry it out to a launch platform, like the bridges going to Key West.  The Key West bridge originally carried a railroad train, which is probably heavier than an unfueled BFR. 

Sea Dragon was supposed to launch a 20-25m rocket directly off the ocean to give 500 tons to LEO. 

I do think that Boca Chica is only another FH/F9 launch site.  SpaceX with hundreds of internet satelites they plan to launch, is expecting a lot of F9/FH launches, thus needing the extra launch sites.

Shotwell explicitly indicated they'd build BFR on the launch site.  So shipping it is very unlikely.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Star One on 01/25/2016 06:29 AM

Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

Words are easy, actions more difficult, reality different again.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/25/2016 02:39 PM
Maybe the revelations about LV's to be released this year will contain new FH performance and pricing info, maybe including FH with Raptor (possibly even a animation of Raptor US recovery).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 01/25/2016 03:22 PM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

It's great to see such positive comments and I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would have to note that it may be overly ambitious to have such enthusiasm over a rocket that is yet to fly.

Edited by the PoliteJim2000 app
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mule169 on 01/25/2016 07:40 PM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

It's great to see such positive comments and I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would have to note that it may be overly ambitious to have such enthusiasm over a rocket that is yet to fly.

Edited by the PoliteJim2000 app
made me chuckle.  I like the un-appified Jim better though.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 01/25/2016 07:57 PM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

It's great to see such positive comments and I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would have to note that it may be overly ambitious to have such enthusiasm over a rocket that is yet to fly.

Edited by the PoliteJim2000 app

I think, a very important part will be bumping the recovery rate over 66%, otherwise it is pointless to switch from a F9 in expendable mode to a FH in fully reusable mode (without the upper stage). Just because at a recovery rate of 66%, one stage is quite likely to be lost, maybe even two, whereas a F9 expendable is lost, by definition (Musk currently expects a landing-successrate of 70%, but who knows, what it is in reality).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/25/2016 08:44 PM
He said he expects 70% this year, 90% next year and increasing after that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/25/2016 09:47 PM
I think, a very important part will be bumping the recovery rate over 66%, otherwise it is pointless to switch from a F9 in expendable mode to a FH in fully reusable mode (without the upper stage). Just because at a recovery rate of 66%, one stage is quite likely to be lost, maybe even two, whereas a F9 expendable is lost, by definition (Musk currently expects a landing-successrate of 70%, but who knows, what it is in reality).

A couple of comments on this train of thought:

1st) if the recovery rates for FH cores are all equal (RTLS or ASDS) and the costs to launch a recoverable FH are equal to the costs to launch an expendable F9 then that 67% would be true, but we know that an expendable F9 costs less to launch (no legs, no grid fins, no associated preflight effort with them, lower propellant costs, maybe lower site costs) - that might up the percentage to 75 or 80% needed to justify using the FH3R. But if the recovery rate for side boosters doing RTLS is 95% and ASDS centre core recovery is 50% that leaves better odds that all cores are recovered than if each core had a 70% recovery rate.

2nd) your scenario only addresses the instances where the payload could be launched on a F9 expendable successfully, there is a class of payloads that don't fit the F9 expendable category at all but could be launched with an FH3R, even more that could go on an FH2R and finally the largest set are ones that could go on an expendable FH.  Those 3 categories may not make up even half the payloads that SpaceX launches some year in the more distant future, but they actually only have to represent 25% of the total payloads for them to represent the need to launch just as many FH cores as F9 cores so feeding that need with cores makes it as demanding as the F9 activities at just 25% of all payloads.

3rd) There is no payload advantage over an F9 RTLS if you try to launch an FH and bring all 3 cores back to the launch site unless you up the mass of the 2nd stage.  This means that an FH that tries to bring all 3 cores back to the launch site has a lower capacity than an F9 expendable or even an ASDS recovery. So RTLS of all 3 cores on an FH will not be done for economic reasons ever without a new S2.

4th)There is very little payload advantage in recovering the side boosters down range over RTLS presuming that you are throttling down the centre core and shutting down engines before side booster separation. So, presuming that RTLS has even a marginally higher recovery rate than ASDS, it will always be advantageous to bring the side boosters back to the launch site.

5th)That leaves three FH configurations to discuss as having any economic value: fully expendable, side booster RTLS centre core expendable, and side booster RTLS centre core ASDS.  Realistically when you consider what a booster cores contribution to the total cost of the flight it is quite likely that on a per kg basis centre core expendable is a lower price per kg for BLEO destinations than F9R and that recovering the centre core may be cheaper per kg than throwing it away for LEO payloads. Fully expendable FH launches will be reserved for the highest energy requirements that just can't be met with any other configuration (beyond GTO, possibly beyond GEO even) while there theoretically could be payloads with a mass that would force the use of an FH fully expendable to LEO, GTO or GEO on a per kg basis those missions would be more expensive than the other configuration would be.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 01/25/2016 11:38 PM
@nadreck:

1.) 2.) I specifically addressed the case of using a FHR as a replacement of a F9 (Expendable). I do know, that there is still the possiblilty that a payload requires a launch on a FH, because a F9 (E) is to weak. We don't know yet what the recovery rate will look like. so far, the landings on barges weren't terribly successful, but I'm optimistic that that will change.
It is a little advantage not having gridfins and legs on board, especially if they are not used anyways.

3.) Replacing a F9R-launch with a FHR-launch is pointless, as you said, there is no real advantage. Having a FH in 3x RTLS mode should be better for some orbits, but I think, that the center stage has to land on the ASDS.

4.) 5.) Quite an interesting thought. There are 2 more possibilities. Currently, one ASDS is on the east coast, and the other one is on the west coast. Both ASDS could be placed on the east coast, receiving the side stages, whereas the center stage is expended. Should boost the capacity aswell.

Regarding FH 3x RTLS, I don't know yet how good that works, but I expect it to be at least a bit better than a F9 RTLS, and en par with a a F9 (E). But I don't have solid numbers on that, maybe somebody else can help with that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/26/2016 12:23 AM
Hotblack back in September I worked out a set of spreadsheets to calculate the performance of the FH based on 1.1 cores and the then standard S2. If I get good numbers to replace those with FT assumptions. But the difference between RTLS and down range on the side cores is about 400m/s.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36806.msg1423023#msg1423023 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36806.msg1423023#msg1423023)

and with an updated set of worksheets that allow you to evaluate it with crossfeed as well (I don't see them doing cross feed, but it was asked for and it does enhance performance)

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36806.msg1423270#msg1423270 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36806.msg1423270#msg1423270)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/26/2016 01:49 AM
I hope they can get the Raptor upper stage with a 5.2m diameter for heavier payloads.  From fully reusable to 80+ tons expendable.  This without a BFR.  SpaceX might consider building a large NautilusX type craft for travel to and from Mars.  Use F9 to ferry crews and passengers to it, especially using Bigelow modules.  At first the craft will ferry a lot of cargo with reusable Mars landers, solar panels and ISRU fuel capabilities, with smaller crews to operate.  Then later ferry more equipment.  Several of these NautilusX type craft could be built for continuous ferries between Earth and Mars, maybe like Buz Aldrin's cyclers.  Maybe using SEP thrusters. 

I know what he said about all in one big BFR/MCT.  But a good Mars program could start with FH with a good Raptor upper stage.  At least a Mars communication system built at Mars GSO. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 01/26/2016 02:12 AM
But a good Mars program could start with FH with a good Raptor upper stage.

You are more right than you know.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/26/2016 03:17 AM
When F9 Heavy was first scheduled for flight in 2013, it was baselined using the Merlin 1-C and a much smaller S1 core & propellant load.  As the Merlin has evolved to much higher performance and the core stretched to take advantage of that, I think is arguable to consider that the size of the side cores should be getting smaller, not larger.  It begs the question, what is the end purpose of building a rocket?   To make something spectacular on paper, or something that will actaully fly often?   All that extra mass, engine count, and costly downrange deltaV maneuvering  of FH could be reduced with smaller side boosters that stage earlier, & can be re-used.

Falcon Heavy as currently configured has pushed it's payload capacity beyond most anything that is scheduled to be launched, or likely to ever be launched, so what then is going to make it a "success"?   At best, it splits the competition for heavy DoD launches against Delta IV, that alone may make it a commercial success.  The other valid mission is to give extra margin to start re-use testing on stage 2.

It is a strong argument that re-usability and low cost need a high flight rate to enable both objectives.   FH seems positioned to fall short of sustaining a high flight rate.  Even if RTLS or ASDS of F9 single stick rockets put SpaceX in a position of having a few dozen available cores in 12-24 months, are the LEO and GTO paying customers going to want to put their less than 17 tons to LEO or 5.5 ton to GTO sats on a rocket with 28 engines so that SpaceX can test S2 reusability?   F9 FT already has that sweet spot in the market well covered with RTLS or downrange landing for S1, so that kills or very substantially reduces the potential for FH to have a high flight rate anytime soon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/26/2016 06:10 AM
When F9 Heavy was first scheduled for flight in 2013, it was baselined using the Merlin 1-C and a much smaller S1 core & propellant load.  As the Merlin has evolved to much higher performance and the core stretched to take advantage of that, I think is arguable to consider that the size of the side cores should be getting smaller, not larger.  It begs the question, what is the end purpose of building a rocket?   To make something spectacular on paper, or something that will actaully fly often?   All that extra mass, engine count, and costly downrange deltaV maneuvering  of FH could be reduced with smaller side boosters that stage earlier, & can be re-used.

Are you completly forgetting the economic benefit of building cores that are the same size? And that the side cores are basically F9 cores? The point is to get something that is cost effective.

Falcon Heavy as currently configured has pushed it's payload capacity beyond most anything that is scheduled to be launched, or likely to ever be launched, so what then is going to make it a "success"?   At best, it splits the competition for heavy DoD launches against Delta IV, that alone may make it a commercial success.  The other valid mission is to give extra margin to start re-use testing on stage 2.

No, the extra margin is to allow first stage (and booster) reuse. If the the extra performance allows all three cores to RTLS - and refurbishment is cost effective - than that is a big win for SpaceX.

Stop thinking in the "optimize for performance" mindset. You won't understand SpaceX that way... They are optimizing for cost. One size core, one size upper stage, one size fairing. What else is there to understand?
(And should they start using a Raptor based upper stage, the other benefits will remain, thus reducing booster size would be counter-productive)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/26/2016 07:53 AM
When F9 Heavy was first scheduled for flight in 2013, it was baselined using the Merlin 1-C and a much smaller S1 core & propellant load.  As the Merlin has evolved to much higher performance and the core stretched to take advantage of that, I think is arguable to consider that the size of the side cores should be getting smaller, not larger.  It begs the question, what is the end purpose of building a rocket?   To make something spectacular on paper, or something that will actaully fly often?   All that extra mass, engine count, and costly downrange deltaV maneuvering  of FH could be reduced with smaller side boosters that stage earlier, & can be re-used.

Are you completly forgetting the economic benefit of building cores that are the same size? And that the side cores are basically F9 cores? The point is to get something that is cost effective.

Falcon Heavy as currently configured has pushed it's payload capacity beyond most anything that is scheduled to be launched, or likely to ever be launched, so what then is going to make it a "success"?   At best, it splits the competition for heavy DoD launches against Delta IV, that alone may make it a commercial success.  The other valid mission is to give extra margin to start re-use testing on stage 2.

No, the extra margin is to allow first stage (and booster) reuse. If the the extra performance allows all three cores to RTLS - and refurbishment is cost effective - than that is a big win for SpaceX.

Stop thinking in the "optimize for performance" mindset. You won't understand SpaceX that way... They are optimizing for cost. One size core, one size upper stage, one size fairing. What else is there to understand?
(And should they start using a Raptor based upper stage, the other benefits will remain, thus reducing booster size would be counter-productive)

I get what you are saying.  I see it put forward as a near unquestioned "given" everywhere.   I am not disagreeing just to play some devils advocate game.  I think that the benefits of maintaining a common core size work out great IF the flight rate is high for the configuration.    I don't see that possibility until the market completely changes, and that point of elasticity is found that dramatically increases the number of heavy payloads to be launched.  If I am wrong on that, smaller side boosters in comparison to high flight rate F9 core boosters lose.

I guess I would really need to know what the incremental cost to the 3.7 meter core production line is to maintain capability for the center core of FH to weigh against a smaller line for side boosters.   An interesting data point might be the cost of an F1 vs. F9 v1.0.   A smaller LRB might cost 1/4 to 1/3 of a F9 side core.   A smaller new booster would be like a F9 side core with 3-4 uses already amortized into it's cost at the outset. 

The performance loss for a quicker burning small booster, staging earlier, is also not as great as you would think.   So much of the FH side core performance is lost to the expensive energy requirement for RLTS that stages when the rocket is very high, and very far downrange.   It's generally non controversial & accepted that low efficiency is is high cost, and F9 side cores that RTLS are low efficiency from the standpoint of delivering maximum energy to the center core.

Smaller boosters aren't necessarily incompatible with the concept of enabling RTLS re-use for the booster itself, or the center core.   This is especially true for GTO launches that are just out of the reach of RTLS for F9 FT.  Smaller boosters could push a F9 FT past that important threshold for 6-7ton payloads to GTO with RLTS.  (guessing payloads greater than 5.5t, SES-9 will inform us better)  This would smash Ariane 6 & Vulcan in competition for heavier payloads without resorting to a full FH configuration.

As for S2 re-use & Raptor implementation, again going to available payloads, until the $$$ are being spent on big heavy payloads for Mars, the Moon or 3 lettered government agencies, the existing kerolox hardware has the job covered.   If anything, a FFSC Raptor or mini-raptor will have a worse T/W than Merlin Vac, so the empty weight of S2 is going to grow incrementally.   How much mass will have to be added to S2 for any re-use scheme?   Does that incremental mass justify a FH?   Is that viable to have a S2 for F9 FT that cuts 1:1 payload to GTO?  Even with the higher ISP of methalox, Probably not.   Which leaves a Raptor powered S2 a more likely configuration for a FH that can pay the dry mass penalty of S2.

By the way, since you are eager to see Raptor implemented on S2 configurations, you are now violating your espoused principals of simplicity.  I've added some "ones" to your list:   The "one core, one stage 2, one fairing, one engine, one fuel" principal on three counts ( fuel, one S2, multiple engine types) How deep is the commitment to just one of each? 

I respect the philosophy of optimizing for cost, not performance.  I would add that optimizing for profitability is also not incompatible for optimizing cost.   
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: MP99 on 01/26/2016 08:23 AM


But a good Mars program could start with FH with a good Raptor upper stage.

You are more right than you know.

It makes good economic sense to mature FH with as much commonality as possible. Booster size, no crossfeed, etc. Such a large and complex vehicle has enough risks of its own without adding to them.

AF seem to have a requirement for greater performance, and this can be added later with less risk and disruption.

If their Mars Ambitions include the performance of a Raptor upper stage, it would also make sense that they'd optimise the rest of the now-mature stack, IE crossfeed, larger side boosters, etc by that time.

Maybe even some wild and wacky ideas, such as using Merlin vac for one or two of the engines of the centre core.

Cheers, Martin
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/26/2016 09:24 AM
When F9 Heavy was first scheduled for flight in 2013, it was baselined using the Merlin 1-C and a much smaller S1 core & propellant load.  As the Merlin has evolved to much higher performance and the core stretched to take advantage of that, I think is arguable to consider that the size of the side cores should be getting smaller, not larger.  It begs the question, what is the end purpose of building a rocket?   To make something spectacular on paper, or something that will actaully fly often?   All that extra mass, engine count, and costly downrange deltaV maneuvering  of FH could be reduced with smaller side boosters that stage earlier, & can be re-used.

Are you completly forgetting the economic benefit of building cores that are the same size? And that the side cores are basically F9 cores? The point is to get something that is cost effective.

Falcon Heavy as currently configured has pushed it's payload capacity beyond most anything that is scheduled to be launched, or likely to ever be launched, so what then is going to make it a "success"?   At best, it splits the competition for heavy DoD launches against Delta IV, that alone may make it a commercial success.  The other valid mission is to give extra margin to start re-use testing on stage 2.

No, the extra margin is to allow first stage (and booster) reuse. If the the extra performance allows all three cores to RTLS - and refurbishment is cost effective - than that is a big win for SpaceX.

Stop thinking in the "optimize for performance" mindset. You won't understand SpaceX that way... They are optimizing for cost. One size core, one size upper stage, one size fairing. What else is there to understand?
(And should they start using a Raptor based upper stage, the other benefits will remain, thus reducing booster size would be counter-productive)

I get what you are saying.

Based on the text below, you do not.

Quote
I see it put forward as a near unquestioned "given" everywhere.   I am not disagreeing just to play some devils advocate game.  I think that the benefits of maintaining a common core size work out great IF the flight rate is high for the configuration.    I don't see that possibility until the market completely changes, and that point of elasticity is found that dramatically increases the number of heavy payloads to be launched.  If I am wrong on that, smaller side boosters in comparison to high flight rate F9 core boosters lose.

You seem to get everything completely backwards here.
Common core size is especially good when there are lots of F9's and small amount of FH:s. Keepign Additional production line for small number of FH:s would be very expensive.

Quote
I guess I would really need to know what the incremental cost to the 3.7 meter core production line is to maintain capability for the center core of FH to weigh against a smaller line for side boosters.   An interesting data point might be the cost of an F1 vs. F9 v1.0.   A smaller LRB might cost 1/4 to 1/3 of a F9 side core.   A smaller new booster would be like a F9 side core with 3-4 uses already amortized into it's cost at the outset. 

No, there would be considerable cost INCREASE due the need of second production line for the small boosters.
They might actually end up being MORE expensive.

Quote
The performance loss for a quicker burning small booster, staging earlier, is also not as great as you would think.   So much of the FH side core performance is lost to the expensive energy requirement for RLTS that stages when the rocket is very high, and very far downrange.   It's generally non controversial & accepted that low efficiency is is high cost, and F9 side cores that RTLS are low efficiency from the standpoint of delivering maximum energy to the center core.

Smaller boosters aren't necessarily incompatible with the concept of enabling RTLS re-use for the booster itself, or the center core.   This is especially true for GTO launches that are just out of the reach of RTLS for F9 FT.  Smaller boosters could push a F9 FT past that important threshold for 6-7ton payloads to GTO with RLTS.  (guessing payloads greater than 5.5t, SES-9 will inform us better)  This would smash Ariane 6 & Vulcan in competition for heavier payloads without resorting to a full FH configuration.


You have a payload with certain weight and certain destination trajectory.
You can RTLS either
1) Side cores
2) Side cores + Center core
There is no such situation where you cannot RTLS something with bigger side cores but you can RTLS with smaller side cores.

For the feasibilility of center core recovery, what matters is
1) velocity of staging to stage 2
2) position of staging to stage 2
3) fuel left in center core at this point.

Assuming all the capasity of second stage is used, 1 will practically only depend on the weight and destination of the payload.
Position of staging to stage is more complicated, but in general the higher the average acceleration is, the closer it is. Having bigger boosters with more fuel that burn for longer means higher average acceleration.
And for the amount of fuel left.. The more work is done by the side cores, the more fuel the first stage has left.

For the feasibility of the side booster recovery, what matters, is
1) velocity of side cores at separation
2) position of side cores at separation
3) fuel left in side cores at separation

Bigger side cores will typically fly further away, but as there is much more fuel at separation, they can still fly back better;
To give same impulse to the core stage, the bigger side boosters have to use smaller percentage of their total impulse, leaving more available for the RTLS.


Smaller side boosters would make sense if all the following ones would apply
1) they would not have a production line going for great number of long and cheap 3.7m cores
2) they would then also increase the size of the center core, to get more total fuel and keep the T/W about same
3) they would not try to RTLS the center core.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/26/2016 12:09 PM
SpaceX isn't building launch capability for the market as it currently exists... they will have sufficient capability (maybe not on operations side) to launch the world's commercial sats and then some after BocaChica and existing three pads are operational -- assuming reusable technology works as planned.  Same for world's heaviest payloads.

So, they must be planning for a different launch demand.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/26/2016 04:59 PM
Stop thinking in the "optimize for performance" mindset. You won't understand SpaceX that way... They are optimizing for cost. One size core, one size upper stage, one size fairing. What else is there to understand?
(And should they start using a Raptor based upper stage, the other benefits will remain, thus reducing booster size would be counter-productive)

I get what you are saying.  I see it put forward as a near unquestioned "given" everywhere.   I am not disagreeing just to play some devils advocate game.  I think that the benefits of maintaining a common core size work out great IF the flight rate is high for the configuration.

No, I'm not sure you are getting it, you have it completely backwards. With a lower flight rate, it is even *worse* to have alternate configurations. The lower your flight rate is, the MORE critical it is to have a common configuration.

I guess I would really need to know what the incremental cost to the 3.7 meter core production line is to maintain capability for the center core of FH to weigh against a smaller line for side boosters.   An interesting data point might be the cost of an F1 vs. F9 v1.0.   A smaller LRB might cost 1/4 to 1/3 of a F9 side core.   A smaller new booster would be like a F9 side core with 3-4 uses already amortized into it's cost at the outset. 

What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

By the way, since you are eager to see Raptor implemented on S2 configurations, you are now violating your espoused principals of simplicity.  I've added some "ones" to your list:   The "one core, one stage 2, one fairing, one engine, one fuel" principal on three counts ( fuel, one S2, multiple engine types) How deep is the commitment to just one of each? 

Who says I'm eager? I think you have misread me. I'm still skeptical of this hypothetical Raptor upper stage - all information so far hinting that direction is from the DoD/USAF. But if that is done, it would have to be a for a very good reason to offset the issue of stage diameter and/or fuel difference.

I respect the philosophy of optimizing for cost, not performance.  I would add that optimizing for profitability is also not incompatible for optimizing cost.

Who said it was?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: ggr on 01/27/2016 12:41 AM
I thought I had heard that SpaceX had decided not to bother with crossfeed for FH, in favor of just throttling the center booster. But I can't find anything authoritative that says so. Is this just my flaky memory, or is it official?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/27/2016 12:58 AM
ggr, I think you are right.  All booster cores would be the same size.  Outer cores would go full thrust, and return to land.  Center core would be throttled down at launch, maybe boost up to full thrust, but probably will not have to.  It would stage higher.  If the payload was on the lite side, it could boost back to launch site.  If it was a heavier payload, it could land on a barge a few hundred miles from launch site.  If the payload was much heavier, the center core might just be expendable without legs.  Lots of choices, but no real change in production. 

My question and concern is with a proposed Raptor upper stage using metholox.  Someone has already figured a 5.2m diameter stage the same length as the existing kerolox upper stage to really improve performance, second stage recovery, or both.  5.2 meter means it would have to be made at a new factory near river or ocean going barge transport, or near the launch pad.   River transportation in America is thousands of miles, the best in the world, so this new wider upper stage can be made almost anywhere. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 01/27/2016 01:47 AM
As has been pointed out elsewhere, a 5.2 meter second stage can go via air.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Dreamlifter

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/27/2016 03:31 AM
As has been pointed out elsewhere, a 5.2 meter second stage can go via air.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Dreamlifter

Matthew
More like a Super Guppy, since Dreamlifter is used exclusively for 787 parts and would have a reeeeeallly hard time landing and taking off from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

Super Guppy can transport up to 7.62m in diameter, up to 36 meters long (but I think it tapers down).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aero_Spacelines_Super_Guppy

Still operated by NASA.

SpaceX is headquartered basically right in the Hawthorne Municipal Airport. On a dry runway with a low fuel load and not too big of a payload, it should be feasible to land and take off from the 1510m runway using a Super Guppy. It'd be annoying to do this often, so that would mean the stage should be reusable and return to launch site or to a barge (not transported often using a Super Guppy).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/27/2016 04:58 AM
Related to Falcon Heavy testing - The video that was leaked (and subsequently pulled), showed some new closeups of the new test stand. (see pictures below)

The assumption by many (myself included) was that this test stand was built specifically to allow to test all three cores of an FH next to each other, but after looking at the pictures, that does not appear to be how this is built. Unless they plan on rebuilding that mount area significantly.

So perhaps they will simply test each FH core individually, and do some hot fire test together on the pad - and trust their other testing and analysis to verify stress loads. (not without precedent, I don't believe 3 Delta IV cores were tested together until they were at the pad)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: catdlr on 01/27/2016 05:26 AM
Related to Falcon Heavy testing - The video that was leaked (and subsequently pulled)


That video can been viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3ZbLznMiws
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/27/2016 05:31 AM


No, I'm not sure you are getting it, you have it completely backwards. With a lower flight rate, it is even *worse* to have alternate configurations. The lower your flight rate is, the MORE critical it is to have a common configuration.

I guess I really don't get it.   Following your above logic to it's conclusion, a rocket with a flight rate of zero will absolutely be REQUIRED to have a common configuration.   I was thinking that maybe as that flight rate tends to zero, the rocket builder may want to consider if the market wants a different configuration.   I was thinking that a rocket with a higher flight rate, even if it is possibly more expensive, will make more money that one that doesn't fly.

I guess I would really need to know what the incremental cost to the 3.7 meter core production line is to maintain capability for the center core of FH to weigh against a smaller line for side boosters.   An interesting data point might be the cost of an F1 vs. F9 v1.0.   A smaller LRB might cost 1/4 to 1/3 of a F9 side core.   A smaller new booster would be like a F9 side core with 3-4 uses already amortized into it's cost at the outset. 

What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

The point remains that the extra performance of the FH configuration does not seem to have customers lining up.  The primary customer ( DoD) seems to be willing to pay for full expendable.   They may someday choose re-used side cores for missions on FH, or they may not.   Nobody knows how this will play out.  I would add that propellant is only 1-3% of launch cost when weighed against a new vehicle.   Depending on how quickly a booster is depreciated over the first few flights, the cost of fuel starts to become much more significant.  A smaller booster will be cheaper in this metric.

By the way, since you are eager to see Raptor implemented on S2 configurations, you are now violating your espoused principals of simplicity.  I've added some "ones" to your list:   The "one core, one stage 2, one fairing, one engine, one fuel" principal on three counts ( fuel, one S2, multiple engine types) How deep is the commitment to just one of each? 

Who says I'm eager? I think you have misread me. I'm still skeptical of this hypothetical Raptor upper stage - all information so far hinting that direction is from the DoD/USAF. But if that is done, it would have to be a for a very good reason to offset the issue of stage diameter and/or fuel difference.

Well I think we are more alike on this question than anything else.   I took your comments re: Raptor as embracing that development.   I do think a new S2 with a Raptor/Raptor lite + core change is a much more cost significant disruption than making smaller boosters.   SpaceX's motivations for this doesn't follow the "design for cost" mentality you mentioned.   They apparently recognize some efforts are justified because that is what the customer wants, ( DoD, USAF, NASA ) and that it can expire some internal risk on new technology to test it on F9/FH to further their own interests.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jarnis on 01/27/2016 07:17 AM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

It's great to see such positive comments and I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would have to note that it may be overly ambitious to have such enthusiasm over a rocket that is yet to fly.

Edited by the PoliteJim2000 app

Nice app, but where can I get the unedited original of the post? :D
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Dante2121 on 01/27/2016 11:36 AM
Apologies if I missed this elsewhere, but has anyone figured out how much an expendable (or reusable) FH with a Raptor upper stage could launch to Mars?

I would be willing to be that this configuration is the first that Spacex will launch to Mars - sooner than they would be able to otherwise if they waited for a full MCT.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 01/27/2016 12:03 PM
Just a reminder, FH will be the world's largest operational launcher for the next 5-10 years, and the world's lowest price for a kg to orbit.  Ever.  Flaws or no, it won't be easily brushed aside.

It's great to see such positive comments and I really appreciate your enthusiasm, but I would have to note that it may be overly ambitious to have such enthusiasm over a rocket that is yet to fly.

Edited by the PoliteJim2000 app

Nice app, but where can I get the unedited original of the post? :D

I suggest you send Jim a PM.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 01/27/2016 12:46 PM
Related to Falcon Heavy testing - The video that was leaked (and subsequently pulled)

That video can been viewed here:

This is a 2-minute video. The original video was about 32 minutes, if I recall correctly. WAY more footage of many more tests than are shown in the 2-minute version.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/27/2016 01:06 PM
I would add that propellant is only 1-3% of launch cost when weighed against a new vehicle.   Depending on how quickly a booster is depreciated over the first few flights, the cost of fuel starts to become much more significant.  A smaller booster will be cheaper in this metric.

No, it's not. According to Elon Musk, It's 0.3 % of the cost. 3.3-10 times less than what you say.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/27/2016 01:09 PM
What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware.

Quote
The point remains that the extra performance of the FH configuration does not seem to have customers lining up.  The primary customer ( DoD) seems to be willing to pay for full expendable.

DoD is willing to pay high price, but there is nothing in the contracts forbidding spaceX from recovering the cores.
Send the DoD payload to the destination orbit, and return all 3 cores to home. Much better profit than making more expensive smaller rocket and throwing all the cores to ocean.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 01/27/2016 01:19 PM


More like a Super Guppy, since Dreamlifter is used exclusively for 787 parts and would have a reeeeeallly hard time landing and taking off from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

One of my best friends is a Dreamlifter pilot. I can confirm that all the cargo he flies right now are 787 wing and fuselage components. I will ask him if anyone has contacted his organization about other outsize payloads and see if he can give me any performance data regarding payload weight versus field length at standard conditions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/27/2016 01:47 PM
The assumption by many (myself included) was that this test stand was built specifically to allow to test all three cores of an FH next to each other, but after looking at the pictures, that does not appear to be how this is built. Unless they plan on rebuilding that mount area significantly.

So perhaps they will simply test each FH core individually, and do some hot fire test together on the pad - and trust their other testing and analysis to verify stress loads. (not without precedent, I don't believe 3 Delta IV cores were tested together until they were at the pad)
So, they built the new below-ground test stand solely for the purpose of reducing noise?  And I guess you don't need a crane to lift it up onto the above-ground test stand.  But that seems like a lot of expense for minimal gain.  Maybe there's a limit to the amount of noise complaints the locals are willing to tolerate.

Not contesting your analysis, just seems odd is all.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 01/27/2016 03:16 PM
Well, presumably the new test stand also has the supercooling GSE, and this move frees up the tripod for (say) Raptor work.  Building a new test stand probably also prevented a long disruption in the v1.1 test cycle while they were working on the v1.2 GSE, I guess?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: starsilk on 01/27/2016 04:20 PM
As has been pointed out elsewhere, a 5.2 meter second stage can go via air.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Dreamlifter

Matthew
More like a Super Guppy, since Dreamlifter is used exclusively for 787 parts and would have a reeeeeallly hard time landing and taking off from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

Super Guppy can transport up to 7.62m in diameter, up to 36 meters long (but I think it tapers down).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aero_Spacelines_Super_Guppy

Still operated by NASA.

SpaceX is headquartered basically right in the Hawthorne Municipal Airport. On a dry runway with a low fuel load and not too big of a payload, it should be feasible to land and take off from the 1510m runway using a Super Guppy. It'd be annoying to do this often, so that would mean the stage should be reusable and return to launch site or to a barge (not transported often using a Super Guppy).

McGregor is the problem, by barge or air.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Nomadd on 01/27/2016 04:25 PM


More like a Super Guppy, since Dreamlifter is used exclusively for 787 parts and would have a reeeeeallly hard time landing and taking off from the Hawthorne Municipal Airport.

One of my best friends is a Dreamlifter pilot. I can confirm that all the cargo he flies right now are 787 wing and fuselage components. I will ask him if anyone has contacted his organization about other outsize payloads and see if he can give me any performance data regarding payload weight versus field length at standard conditions.
Dreamlifter can only hold a 104 foot 787-9 center section. A 787-10 section at something like 120 feet won't fit and they have to make that plane in Charleston, where the center sections are assembled. I'm not sure if the smaller diameter F9 1st stage might mean a longer one of those would go in. 787 fuselages are about 5.9m.
 A modified 747-8F might handle a 1st stage without needing the Dreamlifter fuselage, and just the swinging tail, but it would be at least a $400 million investment.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/27/2016 05:13 PM
No, I'm not sure you are getting it, you have it completely backwards. With a lower flight rate, it is even *worse* to have alternate configurations. The lower your flight rate is, the MORE critical it is to have a common configuration.

I guess I really don't get it.   Following your above logic to it's conclusion, a rocket with a flight rate of zero will absolutely be REQUIRED to have a common configuration.   I was thinking that maybe as that flight rate tends to zero, the rocket builder may want to consider if the market wants a different configuration.

Obviously a rocket with a flight rate of one (or zero) will have a common configuration. As should your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on. Or do you think it is cost effective to design and build a completely custom rocket for every payload? Flight rate is *essential*. And you can't afford to dick around with custom configurations until you have a certain flight rate. THEN you can introduce variations. Presuming that you want to be cost effective. (historically this has not been a concern for most space programs)

I was thinking that a rocket with a higher flight rate, even if it is possibly more expensive, will make more money that one that doesn't fly.

Obviously. But you seem to to be approaching the whole idea backwards, but getting a high flight rate by initially custom building rockets, and THEN when you have a higher flight rate you standardize.  ::) This makes no economical sense at all, but that hasn't stopped some space agencies from trying it. Which is a major reason why space flight is so expensive. You have the right goal in mind (flight rate), but you are trying to get there the wrong way.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

So you want to introduce a whole new production line for a 2m rocket, to produce a booster powered by 4 M1D's, which I can't see how it would be reusable - How in the world will this save costs compared to a reused standard core?

The point remains that the extra performance of the FH configuration does not seem to have customers lining up.  The primary customer ( DoD) seems to be willing to pay for full expendable.

Enough customers are lining up. They have several commercial orders for FH. And they do want to offer the DoD the full capability range. And the extra performance over Delta IV-Heavy will allow for reusability of 1st stage and booster cores.

But there is something about FH that you seem to forget... It doesn't have to be cost effective on its own.  It is made up from F9 parts! If more customers want to use F9, that's fine. If more want to use FH, that's fine.  But it all comes out of the same production line.

Depending on how quickly a booster is depreciated over the first few flights, the cost of fuel starts to become much more significant.  A smaller booster will be cheaper in this metric.

NOT if you throw it away every time. You have yet to propose how your 2m diameter 4 M1D booster will be reused.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/27/2016 05:17 PM
Related to Falcon Heavy testing - The video that was leaked (and subsequently pulled)

That video can been viewed here:

This is a 2-minute video. The original video was about 32 minutes, if I recall correctly. WAY more footage of many more tests than are shown in the 2-minute version.

Nope, you are thinking of the wrong video.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/27/2016 05:35 PM
Well, presumably the new test stand also has the supercooling GSE, and this move frees up the tripod for (say) Raptor work.  Building a new test stand probably also prevented a long disruption in the v1.1 test cycle while they were working on the v1.2 GSE, I guess?

The tri-core tests would not have fit on the tripod and would have been much louder than the single core, so in-ground test stand solves both issues.  Testing single cores there frees the tripod for (quieter) second stage tests, no matter the fuel -- with reuse, second stages might become the bottleneck to launch cadence.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/27/2016 05:38 PM
The tri-core tests would not have fit on the tripod
The point we are discussing is that it appears that they won't fit on the in-ground test stand either.

Agreed that it makes sense that the above-ground test stand will be doing a lot of S2 testing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/27/2016 05:45 PM
The tri-core tests would not have fit on the tripod
The point we are discussing is that it appears that they won't fit on the in-ground test stand either.

Agreed that it makes sense that the above-ground test stand will be doing a lot of S2 testing.

Sorry, missed that.
Cannot imagine they would build such a test facility without FH capability, though.
In fact, a past tour (won't even attempt to find the reference) described the new in-ground stand as for the FH "at least for now..." which implies FH and more can/will be tested there.
The base plate (launch mount?) probably has two versions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/27/2016 05:54 PM
The tri-core tests would not have fit on the tripod
The point we are discussing is that it appears that they won't fit on the in-ground test stand either.

Agreed that it makes sense that the above-ground test stand will be doing a lot of S2 testing.

Stage 2 tests aren't done on the tripod, as far as I know. They have a smaller more convenient test stand for that, located by the individual M1D test stands. (see image)

But I could be wrong.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hallmh on 01/27/2016 06:00 PM

A modified 747-8F might handle a 1st stage without needing the Dreamlifter fuselage, and just the swinging tail, but it would be at least a $400 million investment.

When cores are transported by road, I believe they just put wheels on the back and a cab at the front, using the rocket structure itself to hold everything together.

I wonder if they could do something similar for air transfers - get Mr Rutan to design a front end with wings and a cockpit, tack on a tailplane at the other end and fly. There's even generous fuel tanks ready built in!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 01/27/2016 06:10 PM
Related to Falcon Heavy testing - The video that was leaked (and subsequently pulled)

That video can been viewed here:

This is a 2-minute video. The original video was about 32 minutes, if I recall correctly. WAY more footage of many more tests than are shown in the 2-minute version.

Nope, you are thinking of the wrong video.

This is the video I was thinking of: 32 minutes of (mostly) test footage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdh7MKELv2g

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/27/2016 06:36 PM
Yes, but that was NOT the video we were discussing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/27/2016 08:40 PM
A question.  IF, they do go to a 5.2m upper Raptor stage.  Would it still be made at Hawthorn?  Or would they make the upper stage and Raptor engines at another location, like near water transportation?  Seems it would be cheaper than air transportation. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 04:15 AM
What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware.

1.  Your previous post on fuel being .3% vs. 3% of vehicle cost is correct per quotes from E. Musk.  I went with what Lars posted earlier.  What impact or change does this have on any of the arguments?   

2. You say "Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware."    
You have absolutely no way of knowing the reuse capability of either case, booster or core, unless you define mass of the payload.     Why do you think returning a small booster that separates lower and slower than the F9 side cores is a.) impossible, b.) harder than RTLS or DPL?  Illogical.   
As far as returning the core, again, what is the mass of the payload?  In the case of both RTLS and DPL returns, in comparison to FH configuration,  the core with smaller boosters will be closer to the launch site, lower in altitude, and similar velocity when it is ready to stage ( because the "boost" is imparted earlier in the flight)  This condition favors RTLS and is probably neutral for DPL.

It is completely premature to say more hardware will be thrown away. 

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/28/2016 04:26 AM
What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware.

1.  Your previous post on fuel being .3% vs. 3% of vehicle cost is correct per quotes from E. Musk.  I went with what Lars posted earlier.  What impact or change does this have on any of the arguments?   

2. You say "Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware."    
You have absolutely no way of knowing the reuse capability of either case, booster or core, unless you define mass of the payload.     Why do you think returning a small booster that separates lower and slower than the F9 side cores is a.) impossible, b.) harder than RTLS or DPL?  Illogical.   
As far as returning the core, again, what is the mass of the payload?  In the case of both RTLS and DPL returns, in comparison to FH configuration,  the core with smaller boosters will be closer to the launch site, lower in altitude, and similar velocity when it is ready to stage ( because the "boost" is imparted earlier in the flight)  This condition favors RTLS and is probably neutral for DPL.

It is completely premature to say more hardware will be thrown away.
Actually the only real disadvantage of the smaller boosters is that the landing hardware consumes a higher percentage of the dry weight. Also the smaller diameter tanks are also heavier for the volume they hold so a significant lower PF. In a reusable system this jsut means that the manufacturing costs are just slightly higher on a kg of payload basis than for larger payloads with the larger boosters. Almost such that there is little price difference between the small booster FH price and a large booster FH price.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 05:25 AM
No, I'm not sure you are getting it, you have it completely backwards. With a lower flight rate, it is even *worse* to have alternate configurations. The lower your flight rate is, the MORE critical it is to have a common configuration.

I guess I really don't get it.   Following your above logic to it's conclusion, a rocket with a flight rate of zero will absolutely be REQUIRED to have a common configuration.   I was thinking that maybe as that flight rate tends to zero, the rocket builder may want to consider if the market wants a different configuration.

Obviously a rocket with a flight rate of one (or zero) will have a common configuration. As should your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on. Or do you think it is cost effective to design and build a completely custom rocket for every payload? Flight rate is *essential*. And you can't afford to dick around with custom configurations until you have a certain flight rate. THEN you can introduce variations. Presuming that you want to be cost effective. (historically this has not been a concern for most space programs)

I was thinking that a rocket with a higher flight rate, even if it is possibly more expensive, will make more money that one that doesn't fly.

Obviously. But you seem to to be approaching the whole idea backwards, but getting a high flight rate by initially custom building rockets, and THEN when you have a higher flight rate you standardize.  ::) This makes no economical sense at all, but that hasn't stopped some space agencies from trying it. Which is a major reason why space flight is so expensive. You have the right goal in mind (flight rate), but you are trying to get there the wrong way.


This exchange is passing the TL;DR threshold, so I cut it down and want to clarify my proposal, as well as ask you something.

1.  I am proposing 2 vehicle configurations, not multiple ( more than 2) custom configurations for every payload.  They require a core, and 2 smaller boosters.   In my scenario, the "Core" would be the vehicle with the high flight rate, as I would use a standardized core that could attach the small boosters, this configuration becomes the "Heavy".  I would use the same core to serve the role of the single stick F9 FT. 

2.  You affirm that flight rate is essential, yet FH has a very very low ( zero, currently) flight rate.   Is FH immune from this paradigm because it comes off the same assembly line?  I may partially agree with this conflicting assessment, I'm not trying to set some logic trap to blather about, I'm just interested in how you see the "essential" qualifier of high flight rate doesn't apply to FH?  What about operations?  Ground support equipment, integration, staffing, training, pad proficiency etc.

3.  Even though I have not proposed custom configurations, your point about me getting the "whole idea backwards, but getting a high flight rate by initially custom building rockets, and THEN when you have a higher flight rate you standardize.   This makes no economical sense at all..."  raised some thoughts for me.  In light of that backwards thinking scheme, how do you assess the evolution of the SpaceX paper F5 rocket to the F9 v1.0, to V1.1, and now F9 FT?  Was it backwards?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/28/2016 05:31 AM
What? I thought you were arguing for a shorter/stubbier F9 core, not an F1 sized core? And that last sentence... I'm having trouble parsing what you mean. SpaceX want reusability. F1 sized boosters won't be reusable without a very different approach. But if you agree that a reused F9 side core could be had for the same price - offering more performance - why in the world would you choose to not use it!?!? Propellant is DIRT CHEAP, only 1-3% of launch costs.

Sorry if that was not clear.  I like the performance of a smaller core with 4 M1-D's on 2m core compared to a stubby 3.7m core with 9 M1-D's.   It would have around 1/4 the mass of a F9 side core, and 4/9 the thrust.  As you noted, re-use schemes will be very different.

Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware.

1.  Your previous post on fuel being .3% vs. 3% of vehicle cost is correct per quotes from E. Musk.  I went with what Lars posted earlier.  What impact or change does this have on any of the arguments?   

2. You say "Reuse scheme is non-existent for the boosters, and harder for the core. You would end up throwing away more hardware."    
You have absolutely no way of knowing the reuse capability of either case, booster or core, unless you define mass of the payload.     Why do you think returning a small booster that separates lower and slower than the F9 side cores is a.) impossible, b.) harder than RTLS or DPL?  Illogical.   

Because 4-engine boosters cannot land like a 9-engine booster lands. There is no center engine, and the T/W ratio is way too high.

Quote

As far as returning the core, again, what is the mass of the payload?  In the case of both RTLS and DPL returns, in comparison to FH configuration,  the core with smaller boosters will be closer to the launch site, lower in altitude, and similar velocity when it is ready to stage ( because the "boost" is imparted earlier in the flight)  This condition favors RTLS and is probably neutral for DPL.

Wrong.

1) For the acceleration, what matters is the total T/W ratio of the vehicle, not the T/W of the booster.

Simple example: Rocket A has 250 tonne first stage and 50 tonne second stage. First stage has thrust of 400 tonnes, second stage 40 tonnes. The T/W at liftoff is 1.333.

Now lets make a rocket with smaller first stage. First stage mass is dropped to 150 tonnes while engine thrust is dropped to 250 tonnes.

First stage T/W has increased from 1.6 to 1.666, but the actual T/W of the whole vehicle has decreased from 1.333 to 1.25.

2) Separating the boosters earlier means there is lower acceleration between boosters separation and staging to stage2, leading the core to fly further away before staging to stage 2

3) Less reserve capasity mean the trajectory cannot be some optimized for easy flyback of boosters.
Trajectory optimized for booster recovery is much higher than "ordinary trajectory" trajectory, first stage burning much more to fight gravity and jump to high altitude, and second stage burning more horizontally while losing vertical velocity.

But if the rocket is on the edge of it's capasity, it has to use a "payload-optimized" lower trajectory where the earlier stages fly further.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 01/28/2016 06:48 AM
2.  You affirm that flight rate is essential, yet FH has a very very low ( zero, currently) flight rate.   Is FH immune from this paradigm because it comes off the same assembly line?  I may partially agree with this conflicting assessment, I'm not trying to set some logic trap to blather about, I'm just interested in how you see the "essential" qualifier of high flight rate doesn't apply to FH?  What about operations?  Ground support equipment, integration, staffing, training, pad proficiency etc.

Yes. FH is *mostly* immune to concerns about flight rate, since it basically uses F9 components. Once the launch pads support FH (an extra investment for sure), the actual distribution of flight rate between F9 and FH does not matter much.  Your other concerns (Ground support equipment, integration, staffing, training, pad proficiency) will be a small factor, but are still less than what they would be with your model of multiple size cores.

3.  Even though I have not proposed custom configurations, your point about me getting the "whole idea backwards, but getting a high flight rate by initially custom building rockets, and THEN when you have a higher flight rate you standardize.   This makes no economical sense at all..."  raised some thoughts for me.  In light of that backwards thinking scheme, how do you assess the evolution of the SpaceX paper F5 rocket to the F9 v1.0, to V1.1, and now F9 FT?  Was it backwards?

They had to start somewhere, work with what you have at hand. They had limited funds. F5 was offered to customers, there was not sufficient interest. With F9 they were able to bid for COTS/CRS. The v1.1 and FT are/were simply opportunities to redo and refine the launcher with lessons learned. F9 v1.0 was not powerful enough to tap into the GTO market.

This evolution does not contradict my "scheme" at all. At every point SpaceX has attempted to have only one model in use, switching over production and pads all at once. This is in contrast to what you seem to advocate - that they should have operated multiple versions at the same time to fit customer demand. F4 (your small booster), F5, F9v1.0, and F9 FT. (unless I misunderstand)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 07:06 AM


Actually the only real disadvantage of the smaller boosters is that the landing hardware consumes a higher percentage of the dry weight. Also the smaller diameter tanks are also heavier for the volume they hold so a significant lower PF. In a reusable system this just means that the manufacturing costs are just slightly higher on a kg of payload basis than for larger payloads with the larger boosters. Almost such that there is little price difference between the small booster FH price and a large booster FH price.

I was with you on the small vs. large tradeoffs until the last sentence.   If the per kg mfg. cost are just slightly higher for the small vs. large booster, how would a small booster 1/4th the mass of a larger booster cost the same?

My thinking for a small F1 class booster wast that it would cost around $10M.   The F1 in 2015 dollars is suggested by Wiki to be around $7M, so adding 3 more M1-D's for a 4 engine booster comes in around $10M.   A F9 core stage is estimated to cost $40M, so this follows the per kg rule you said, but the smaller booster is much cheaper.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 07:25 AM

Because 4-engine boosters cannot land like a 9-engine booster lands. There is no center engine, and the T/W ratio is way too high.

Quote

As far as returning the core, again, what is the mass of the payload?  In the case of both RTLS and DPL returns, in comparison to FH configuration,  the core with smaller boosters will be closer to the launch site, lower in altitude, and similar velocity when it is ready to stage ( because the "boost" is imparted earlier in the flight)  This condition favors RTLS and is probably neutral for DPL.

Wrong.

1) For the acceleration, what matters is the total T/W ratio of the vehicle, not the T/W of the booster.

Simple example: Rocket A has 250 tonne first stage and 50 tonne second stage. First stage has thrust of 400 tonnes, second stage 40 tonnes. The T/W at liftoff is 1.333.

Now lets make a rocket with smaller first stage. First stage mass is dropped to 150 tonnes while engine thrust is dropped to 250 tonnes.

First stage T/W has increased from 1.6 to 1.666, but the actual T/W of the whole vehicle has decreased from 1.333 to 1.25.

Is center core propulsive landing the only possible method?   That is a pretty bold statement.

You chose an example that is opposite of what is being discussed.   Try these numbers which match closely to a FH and a FH/Small Booster configuration as I proposed.

SpaceX Standard FH configuration
FH center core mass: 600t
FH side core mass: 415t
Thrust of all 3 cores: 2082t ( 694t each booster)
T/W =1.45

Proposed small booster configuration:
Same FH center core: 600t
Small side core booster: 110t each
Small booster thrust: 308t ( 4 M1-D's each)
T/W = 1.60

Does this affect your assessment of staging impact on RLTS or DPL?



Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 07:32 AM

....This is in contrast to what you seem to advocate - that they should have operated multiple versions at the same time to fit customer demand. F4 (your small booster), F5, F9v1.0, and F9 FT. (unless I misunderstand)

I do not advocate that at all.  I do advocate operating a single F9 FT configuration that can also that same configuration as the center core of FH "lite" with smaller boosters.  The boosters would only be used as boosters, not as some F4 configuration with it's own S2, PLF, etc.

I agree with your assessment of SpaceX.   They did what they had to do to get the next contract, and get entrance into markets to make a viable business.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/28/2016 07:50 AM

Because 4-engine boosters cannot land like a 9-engine booster lands. There is no center engine, and the T/W ratio is way too high.

Quote

As far as returning the core, again, what is the mass of the payload?  In the case of both RTLS and DPL returns, in comparison to FH configuration,  the core with smaller boosters will be closer to the launch site, lower in altitude, and similar velocity when it is ready to stage ( because the "boost" is imparted earlier in the flight)  This condition favors RTLS and is probably neutral for DPL.

Wrong.

1) For the acceleration, what matters is the total T/W ratio of the vehicle, not the T/W of the booster.

Simple example: Rocket A has 250 tonne first stage and 50 tonne second stage. First stage has thrust of 400 tonnes, second stage 40 tonnes. The T/W at liftoff is 1.333.

Now lets make a rocket with smaller first stage. First stage mass is dropped to 150 tonnes while engine thrust is dropped to 250 tonnes.

First stage T/W has increased from 1.6 to 1.666, but the actual T/W of the whole vehicle has decreased from 1.333 to 1.25.

Is center core propulsive landing the only possible method?   That is a pretty bold statement.

No, it's not the only method. But it's the only method DONE SO FAR. AND proposing ANOTHER yet-unknown method for very small amount of launches.. It just makes absolutely NO economicall sense(for both development and for operations), when the only benefit is about saving on fuel costs for about 0.15% of the launch price


Quote
You chose an example that is opposite of what is being discussed.   Try these numbers which match closely to a FH and a FH/Small Booster configuration as I proposed.

SpaceX Standard FH configuration
FH center core mass: 600t
FH side core mass: 415t
Thrust of all 3 cores: 2082t ( 694t each booster)
T/W =1.45

Proposed small booster configuration:
Same FH center core: 600t
Small side core booster: 110t each
Small booster thrust: 308t ( 4 M1-D's each)
T/W = 1.60

Does this affect your assessment of staging impact on RLTS or DPL?

No:
1) fill the tanks of the normal side boosters only partially and you get the initial T/W of exactly same as your proposal, can burn the boosters longer having higher T/W later in the flight, can do the the RTLS and landing like F9 does. And no need to keep two separate production lines.

There is absolutely NOTHING that your proposed configuration can do that ordinary FH cannot do for cheaper.

2) See my points 2 and 3 in my previous post.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/28/2016 07:56 AM
My thinking for a small F1 class booster wast that it would cost around $10M.   The F1 in 2015 dollars is suggested by Wiki to be around $7M, so adding 3 more M1-D's for a 4 engine booster comes in around $10M.   A F9 core stage is estimated to cost $40M, so this follows the per kg rule you said, but the smaller booster is much cheaper.

You do not think about the cost and complexity of having a separate production line for those quite rarely used different-sized cores.

3.7m Falcon 9 cores are mass-produced at production line which exists. There exists no production line for 2-meter cores, and building and maintaining such production line is expensive.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Rebel44 on 01/28/2016 08:42 AM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 01/28/2016 05:59 PM

You do not think about the cost and complexity of having a separate production line for those quite rarely used different-sized cores.

3.7m Falcon 9 cores are mass-produced at production line which exists. There exists no production line for 2-meter cores, and building and maintaining such production line is expensive.

So will that scheme work with a F5 side boosters (which can be manufactured in the same line as F9)?

IMO,
When they gonna use side boosters it will either be F9FT or F5FT or maybe F1Raptor (if such creatures become viable).
2 meter F4 beasts...  :-\ I dont think we'll see those.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 07:37 PM

You chose an example that is opposite of what is being discussed.   Try these numbers which match closely to a FH and a FH/Small Booster configuration as I proposed.

SpaceX Standard FH configuration
FH center core mass: 600t
FH side core mass: 415t
Thrust of all 3 cores: 2082t ( 694t each booster)
T/W =1.45

Proposed small booster configuration:
Same FH center core: 600t
Small side core booster: 110t each
Small booster thrust: 308t ( 4 M1-D's each)
T/W = 1.60

Does this affect your assessment of staging impact on RLTS or DPL?

No:
1) fill the tanks of the normal side boosters only partially and you get the initial T/W of exactly same as your proposal, can burn the boosters longer having higher T/W later in the flight, can do the the RTLS and landing like F9 does. And no need to keep two separate production lines.

There is absolutely NOTHING that your proposed configuration can do that ordinary FH cannot do for cheaper.

Maybe we have a language barrier, I don't know, it could be something else.  But are you suggesting that by only partially filling the FH side core tanks, you will match the T/W ratio of my proposed smaller boosters, AND then burn the regular FH side boosters longer with higher T/W later in the flight?   Is that before or after they run out of gas?

I guess if partially filling the FH sidecore tanks is such a great idea to get initial improvement in T/W, maybe you can just put in just enough to clear the TEL with even better T/W, and then throttle down, or even shut off some engines until later in the burn...before you run out of gas.

/s off

As far as the statements about cost, and smaller booster not being able to do what a ordinary FH can do cheaper, you, me, nor anyone else "KNOWS" this.   It cannot be known until the flight rate of the smaller boosters is used to determine a per booster cost.  It is all speculative. 

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: whitelancer64 on 01/28/2016 07:47 PM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/28/2016 08:32 PM

You do not think about the cost and complexity of having a separate production line for those quite rarely used different-sized cores.

3.7m Falcon 9 cores are mass-produced at production line which exists. There exists no production line for 2-meter cores, and building and maintaining such production line is expensive.

I thought a lot about the complexity.  My entire point is driven by the revenue considerations, not the "production lines are expensive" fact you keep repeating.   You know what else is expensive?  Losing launch contracts to put +6t sattellites into GTO.  It is a fact FH has a very low demand.  The contracts thrown SpaceX's way from Immarsat are more than likely to be for wringing price concessions from Ariane as they are a vote of confidence in FH.   Capturing that business will generate a sufficient flight rate to justify a different core size, if needed.   My choice of 2m is not set in stone, or ideological.   It was picked to suit other constraints.   If I said, hey, lets build a 10 meter tall by 3.7m core booster with 4 engines, would you be more inclined to like it?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/28/2016 08:55 PM

You chose an example that is opposite of what is being discussed.   Try these numbers which match closely to a FH and a FH/Small Booster configuration as I proposed.

SpaceX Standard FH configuration
FH center core mass: 600t
FH side core mass: 415t
Thrust of all 3 cores: 2082t ( 694t each booster)
T/W =1.45

Proposed small booster configuration:
Same FH center core: 600t
Small side core booster: 110t each
Small booster thrust: 308t ( 4 M1-D's each)
T/W = 1.60

Does this affect your assessment of staging impact on RLTS or DPL?

No:
1) fill the tanks of the normal side boosters only partially and you get the initial T/W of exactly same as your proposal, can burn the boosters longer having higher T/W later in the flight, can do the the RTLS and landing like F9 does. And no need to keep two separate production lines.

There is absolutely NOTHING that your proposed configuration can do that ordinary FH cannot do for cheaper.

Maybe we have a language barrier, I don't know, it could be something else.  But are you suggesting that by only partially filling the FH side core tanks, you will match the T/W ratio of my proposed smaller boosters, AND then burn the regular FH side boosters longer with higher T/W later in the flight?   Is that before or after they run out of gas?

I guess if partially filling the FH sidecore tanks is such a great idea to get initial improvement in T/W, maybe you can just put in just enough to clear the TEL with even better T/W, and then throttle down, or even shut off some engines until later in the burn...before you run out of gas.

YOU are the who was hyping the high T/W to help make recovery easier. I'm just showing that the ordinary FH is better EVEN ON THIS REGARD, winning on YOUR OWN FRONT.

And here are numbers for it:

Leave 65 tonnes fuel out of both side cores. Now they weight 350 tonnes. Initial T/W is the same as your 1.6.

Both side cores will have about 3 times more fuel than your proposal has, but consume only 2.25 times more fuel. So the boosters will burn for 33% longer.

This 33% longer burn time of boosters both
1) gives much higher average acceleration, meaning center core does not fly so far
2) gives much higher total impulse, allows using higher (unoptimal for capasity to orbit, optimal to recovery) trajectory, meaning more of the speed is vertical, less horizontal, easier to fly back.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/28/2016 08:56 PM
You know what else is expensive?  Losing launch contracts to put +6t sattellites into GTO.  It is a fact FH has a very low demand.  The contracts thrown SpaceX's way from Immarsat are more than likely to be for wringing price concessions from Ariane as they are a vote of confidence in FH.   Capturing that business will generate a sufficient flight rate to justify a different core size, if needed.   My choice of 2m is not set in stone, or ideological.   It was picked to suit other constraints.   If I said, hey, lets build a 10 meter tall by 3.7m core booster with 4 engines, would you be more inclined to like it?

But the incremental cost to make an FHFT over an F9 for a low number of launches is going to be much cheaper than creating a new 2 meter booster core.

The real questions will be where the cut offs are for payload performance between F9E, F9RASDS, F9RTLS, FH variants to see whether anything else is even needed.  If F9RASDS gets us to 5t, then FH3R (centre core to ASDS) takes over smoothly from there the added $20M going from 5t to 6t is not that big a jump (presuming $40M to $60M roughly). I am guessing F9RTLS might be $5M cheaper than F9RASDS with $1M or so going to the different ops costs AND $4M being the added risk of loosing the booster over RTLS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/28/2016 09:10 PM

You do not think about the cost and complexity of having a separate production line for those quite rarely used different-sized cores.

3.7m Falcon 9 cores are mass-produced at production line which exists. There exists no production line for 2-meter cores, and building and maintaining such production line is expensive.

I thought a lot about the complexity.  My entire point is driven by the revenue considerations, not the "production lines are expensive" fact you keep repeating.   You know what else is expensive?  Losing launch contracts to put +6t sattellites into GTO.  It is a fact FH has a very low demand.

What mushrooms have you been eating?

Your revenue considerations are totally bogus and wrongly calculated, as I and others have pointed out several times. Proposing a rocket which needs extra development and extra tooling and another production line and arrives much later does not actually make these better. YOUR PROPOSAL is the one that would end up loosing launch contracts.

1) Partially reusable FH is the cheapest rocket for those +6t GTO payloads. None of these contracts is lost because FH is "too big".

What matters is the cost, not size. FH is cheap even though it's big. And because it's big, it can launch at least 6.4t GTO payloads while recovering all cores, and something like 15t GTO while recovering the outer cores.

2) For your proposal Some DoD launch contracts would simple be lost because your proposal does not have the capasity. DoD has payloads which required upgrading the Delta IVH to RS-68A. Your proposal has less capasity than the upgraded Delta IVH, you could not even launch these to desider orbit. FH might allow launching these to the destination orbit while still recovering the boosters(but propably not center core).

Quote
My choice of 2m is not set in stone, or ideological.   It was picked to suit other constraints.   If I said, hey, lets build a 10 meter tall by 3.7m core booster with 4 engines, would you be more inclined to like it?

Something like 10 meter tall 3.7 meter core booster might make _some_ sense, because they could be built with same tooling than F9 cores are built, and they would actually be cheaper to manufacture. But they still could not be recovered like the 9-engine cores are recovered.
If they would not get the recovery and reuse of the boosters working, then it would start making very much sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 01/28/2016 09:12 PM
This thread is about Falcon Heavy.  Falcon Heavy is well established as three F9FT cores, not some other configuration.  Can we keep the theoretical discussion of imaginary variants somewhere else please?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hopalong on 01/28/2016 09:30 PM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 01/29/2016 06:22 AM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.

Think whatever payload they send up in the first Falcon Heavy will be inside a fairing. Since most early Falcon Heavy flights will be GEO sats. They have to make sure that the fairing works on the Falcon Heavy before carrying up a paying customer.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jarnis on 01/29/2016 06:59 AM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Since we haven't heard of a word yet that Heavy hardware would be in testing at Texas and this being first flight of new type, off a new pad... call me a pessimist, but April ain't going to happen.

This year. Maybe sometime in the Summer?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hopalong on 01/29/2016 09:30 AM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.

Think whatever payload they send up in the first Falcon Heavy will be inside a fairing. Since most early Falcon Heavy flights will be GEO sats. They have to make sure that the fairing works on the Falcon Heavy before carrying up a paying customer.

Yes, I believe you to be correct, GEO will be the main workload for the FH, so the GTO missions will be tested first, the TLI and TMI missions will come later. I would not be surprised if the 2nd stage is given a good workout, that is multiple starts, long coasts between starts while not carrying a customer payload.
I think the S2 has done 3 starts up to now?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 01/29/2016 12:57 PM

Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.

Think whatever payload they send up in the first Falcon Heavy will be inside a fairing. Since most early Falcon Heavy flights will be GEO sats. They have to make sure that the fairing works on the Falcon Heavy before carrying up a paying customer.

Well, the boosters will (almost certainly) stage well before the fairing. Jettisoning the fairing should be no more risky or challenging than doing so on any F9 to date, I would think.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/29/2016 02:15 PM
Good point. The tri-core configuration would seem to be the testing hurdle, not second stage/fairing.
USAF has already examined the internal processes at SpaceX, so certification might be fairly quick and be able to include any FH launches irregardless of payload configuration.  Same situation for commercial customers.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/29/2016 02:24 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: fowlyetti on 01/29/2016 02:44 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.

Im pretty sure they gave up on doing cross feed completely.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Comga on 01/29/2016 03:10 PM
Is there any new info about date of 1st FH launch?

thx

It is still slated for April 2016.

Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.

We have a 363 post thread (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=29768.msg946418#msg946418) on that subject.  No one has posted any information there in two and a half years.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Tuts36 on 01/29/2016 03:52 PM


Any information on what the payload will be for the first flight?

I would love to see them send a Dragon on a free return around the moon (with wheel of cheese), but I suspect it will just be a mass simulator.

We have a 363 post thread (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=29768.msg946418#msg946418) on that subject.  No one has posted any information there in two and a half years.


Well why not?  Someone should call that Chris Bergin fellah, I bet he knows something..
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 01/29/2016 04:18 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.

Im pretty sure they gave up on doing cross feed completely.

I recall the official line being 'not developing it currently' busy with other things.

Crossfeed came up during the less potent F9V1.0 version.  The F9v1.1 FT has performance that doesn't require Crossfeed.

Although I find the idea super sexy and very appealing, why do it if there aren't any payloads that need the performance and it's not in the long term plan for future vehicles.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 01/29/2016 04:30 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.

Im pretty sure they gave up on doing cross feed completely.

I recall the official line being 'not developing it currently' busy with other things.

Crossfeed came up during the less potent F9V1.0 version.

No. v1.1 "partial thrust", not v1.0.
For V1.0 version, there were only conceptual talk about "falcon 9 heavy", but nothing officially announced, and no talk about crossfeed.

When Falcon heavy was officially published, it was based on v1.1 version, and crossfeed was announced.

Quote
The F9v1.1 FT has performance that doesn't require Crossfeed.

Although I find the idea super sexy and very appealing, why do it if there aren't any payloads that need the performance and it's not in the long term plan for future vehicles.

yep. Crossfeed is non-trivial to implement and makes things more expensive, and makes recovery of core stage harder. No point of doing it if there are no payloads that require it.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/29/2016 04:37 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.

Im pretty sure they gave up on doing cross feed completely.

I recall the official line being 'not developing it currently' busy with other things.

Crossfeed came up during the less potent F9V1.0 version.

No. v1.1 "partial thrust", not v1.0.
For V1.0 version, there were only conceptual talk about "falcon 9 heavy", but nothing officially announced, and no talk about crossfeed.

When Falcon heavy was officially published, it was based on v1.1 version, and crossfeed was announced.

Quote
The F9v1.1 FT has performance that doesn't require Crossfeed.

Although I find the idea super sexy and very appealing, why do it if there aren't any payloads that need the performance and it's not in the long term plan for future vehicles.

yep. Crossfeed is non-trivial to implement and makes things more expensive, and makes recovery of core stage harder. No point of doing it if there are no payloads that require it.

But in the long run. Like when they go interplanetary. Any extra performance without major manufacturing changes is very good.

Yes it is non trivial. But it is just extra tubes and connections and not different tanks or engines.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rsdavis9 on 01/29/2016 04:39 PM
crossfeed. I kind of think of it as a 1.1ft upgrade level of change.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 01/29/2016 05:02 PM
So I heard they were not going to do crossfeed between the boosters on the first launch. So when will they do crossfeed and how much does it gain them.

Im pretty sure they gave up on doing cross feed completely.

I recall the official line being 'not developing it currently' busy with other things.

Crossfeed came up during the less potent F9V1.0 version.

No. v1.1 "partial thrust", not v1.0.
For V1.0 version, there were only conceptual talk about "falcon 9 heavy", but nothing officially announced, and no talk about crossfeed.

When Falcon heavy was officially published, it was based on v1.1 version, and crossfeed was announced.

Quote
The F9v1.1 FT has performance that doesn't require Crossfeed.

Although I find the idea super sexy and very appealing, why do it if there aren't any payloads that need the performance and it's not in the long term plan for future vehicles.

yep. Crossfeed is non-trivial to implement and makes things more expensive, and makes recovery of core stage harder. No point of doing it if there are no payloads that require it.

But in the long run. Like when they go interplanetary. Any extra performance without major manufacturing changes is very good.

Yes it is non trivial. But it is just extra tubes and connections and not different tanks or engines.

ISTM the Raptor upper stage will add more BEO performance than crossfeed would have, and USAF is partially paying for it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RoboGoofers on 01/29/2016 05:04 PM
Yes it is non trivial. But it is just extra tubes and connections and not different tanks or engines.

it IS non trivial, meaning it is NOT just extra tubes, etc.

They decided that they'd rather spend the engineer's man-hours on BFR and Raptor. Cleaner fuel, fewer staging events, greater performance and efficiency.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: andrewsdanj on 01/29/2016 10:16 PM
My understanding of the current 'working theory' on BFR is that it'll be a single-stick in the 10-15 metre diameter range, with no planned three-stick version. In that case any crossfeed would be for FHFT only and would be an evolutionary dead end.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/29/2016 11:01 PM
For fun I was looking at just how high a performance gain could an FH be extended. I ended with a FH with crossfeed using an Raptor 5.2m US which is expended and all three cores expended but still maintaining the engine out margins (no engine out margins would have even higher payload sizes): LEO 115mt and GTO-1800 37mt. This vehicle could do whatever an SLS 1B could do. Obviously the FH would never reach this high because as the weights increase so do the structural weights for strength increase and the gravity losses increase with higher GLOWs. But the addition of 300Klbs (the Raptor US is 60% of this increase in weight) to a vehicle with 4.5Mlbf of thrust is only 6.5% on a vehicle whose T/W is greater than 1.2. What this says is that even though there will be a gravity loss impact it will not be that great.

So FH as it exists now has still a lot of growth room before running out of performance options if it is determined if it was needed (or more correctly someone willing to buy it).

Adding a Raptor 5.2m US to an FH could increase the payload sizes by as much as 60%. Now compound this by adding crossfeed which may add up to another 20% and that is a total increase over current possible of 92%. So even if Raptor is only a 30% gain and adding CF is only another 10% gain that would still be a 43% gain in payload size over the current FH (FT) version. Such that a full reusable FH(CF) with reusable Raptor could still deliver the same payloads as the current FH (FT) in the worst case and in better cases possible even as much as 15% more than the current. These upgrades could occur over the next 5 years where a fully reusable FH would be operational for the testing phase of the BFR and MCT prior to them taking over the FH duties (if at all depending on economics). With a fully reusable FH and F9 their slightly higher $/kg prices than BFR/MCT may be offset by the launch on demand with immediate deployment vs the launch in crates and on-orbit final checkout assembly before deployment.

In all I do not think the FH as we see it now is the end point of the FH's performance.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/29/2016 11:27 PM
For fun I was looking at just how high a performance gain could an FH be extended. . .

So can I ask you a couple of questions about your assumptions for this:

Falcon booster core propellant mass (I don't know what that is under FT)
Your 5.2 meter diam US dry mass and propellant mass
lastly, but most important to understand your performance comparisons, what is your centre core boost regime without cross feed? how much centre core propellant is left at side booster seperation? When I model this I generally presume that 4 or 5 engines get shut down, then the remaining ones throttle down to 70% all in steps as the side boosters and centre core's propellant load drops. In my modelling in full expendable mode I still have 50% prop load on the centre core without cross feed
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 01/30/2016 12:06 AM
...
In all I do not think the FH as we see it now is the end point of the FH's performance.

Just for fun. What will be the performance be like if you replace the Raptor Vac with a BE-3U while keeping the same overall upper stage tankage?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/30/2016 12:33 AM
For fun I was looking at just how high a performance gain could an FH be extended. . .

So can I ask you a couple of questions about your assumptions for this:

Falcon booster core propellant mass (I don't know what that is under FT)
Your 5.2 meter diam US dry mass and propellant mass
lastly, but most important to understand your performance comparisons, what is your centre core boost regime without cross feed? how much centre core propellant is left at side booster seperation? When I model this I generally presume that 4 or 5 engines get shut down, then the remaining ones throttle down to 70% all in steps as the side boosters and centre core's propellant load drops. In my modelling in full expendable mode I still have 50% prop load on the centre core without cross feed
Raptor 5.2m US
1) same length as current FT US
2) FT US has ~120mt of prop
3) dry weight of expendable Raptor US 9mt, reusable Raptor 13mt (legs and heat shielding plus other items)
4) propellant mass due to volume increase and density decrease is 204mt (2 L/kg KEROLOX vs 2.35 L/kg METHALOX)
5) ISP of Raptor VAC 380

As far as the regimes of the boosters and center core the flights were evaluated by estimating the delta v provided by the 1st stage configuration on a FH v1.1 then reducing that due to the increased weights of the payload and US. Then adding back the deltaV that the US could provide for a given same total delta V varying the payload mass until they became equal. The differences for gravity losses and differences for drag due to the flight profile were not individually modeled neither was the detailed flight regimes of the boosters and center core being that SpaceX already has an optimized solution for their flight profiles. The numbers I arrived at could be much greater or possibly even less (!) than what an optimized vehicle's true performance would be.

The real true item is that because of the Raptor's US prop increase with also an significant ISP increase it creates the large nearly 60% performance boost. Making again the need for doing crossfeed a back burner item. Such that even with losing a lot of that extra performance in order to do reusability with the US it still may have a performance increase over current and be 100% reusable!!!!!!!!!!!

That makes it an economical advantage over current. Which is why the current US doing reusability would not be an economical move. It would increase the $/kg not decrease it.

The other item with the US doing more of the delta V for the ride to orbit makes it even easier to do RTLS of the cores requiring less propellant to do the return burns meaning more propellant is used for its primary purpose of accelerating the US+payload. This effect was only roughly modeled and may have the largest error contribution to the end values.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/30/2016 12:35 AM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/30/2016 12:50 AM
In my assumptions for a Raptor US I was assuming slightly longer than the F1.1 US and 220mt of prop in expendable and 210 (reserving 10) in reuse mode with a dry weight of 10t in expendable mode and 18t in reuse (plus the 10t of prop reserved) for a weight penalty on the launch side of 18t total for reuse.

Anyway in my reuse mode (boosters RTLS, centre core downrange) 2nd stage reusable it gives a great advantage over FHE in performance all the way to GTO. You need to run the US in expendable mode for GSO or to have any real advantage for payloads BEO but in those cases the extra 10 tons of fuel and the removal of 8t of reuse hardware are like adding another stage!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/30/2016 01:00 AM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
The current US dry weight is ~6.5mt. The tank surface area growth for the Raptor is 45% and the engine weight growth is ~2.5X. So a 9mt Raptor expendable weight is a good estimate. But one of the most telling items is that the current FT US has a PF of ~95.8% but the Raptor would have a PF of 96.0%. That measly .2% means a lot when it comes to payload performance especially when there is also such a large ISP increase.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 01/30/2016 01:05 AM
Methane is less dense than kerosene, so the stage is either going to be a 5.2m upper the same length or they will have to extend the existing length, which will make the rocket extremely tall and skinny.  Also, the towers and support would have to be taller if they make the stage taller. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/30/2016 01:09 AM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
The current US dry weight is ~6.5mt...
Citation, please. From my best guess, that's probably 2 tons too high.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/30/2016 01:27 AM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
Yes when I was doing the models on the delta V and propelant reserves I enev evaluated a Raptor going all the way to GSO and then returning. The astonishing item was that it could put into GSO what the current FH can put into GSO but it could also return! That got me thinking about just how big of payload an all up expendable FH with Raptor could put into LEO. But the only disadvantage of the FH doing such huge payloads is the faring diameter and volume. It is just not big enough for even the 53mt payload that have been discussed except for propellant tanker duty.

A BTW the 220mt prop load and 13mt dry weight (landing kit) Raptor US if fully refueled in LEO would have without any payload 10.7 km/s delta V. This is enough to go and land on the Moon and almost return to LEO.  ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 01/30/2016 01:31 AM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
The current US dry weight is ~6.5mt...
Citation, please. From my best guess, that's probably 2 tons too high.
Unfortunately there are not any reliable source for the weight other than Wiki which uses the 6.5. If it is indeed too high then the payload weight increases and for the reuse of US case increase even more significantly. But I would rather be a little pessimistic than too wildly optimistic in estimating.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/30/2016 02:27 AM
Other estimates I've seen give about 4-4.5 tons dry mass for v1.1 upper, so I'd say about 4.5 tons for FT, and (including the higher thrust and thus probably heavier Raptor) 6-7 for Raptor. That's without better manufacturing techniques like composites.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 01/30/2016 01:02 PM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
Yes when I was doing the models on the delta V and propelant reserves I enev evaluated a Raptor going all the way to GSO and then returning. The astonishing item was that it could put into GSO what the current FH can put into GSO but it could also return! That got me thinking about just how big of payload an all up expendable FH with Raptor could put into LEO. But the only disadvantage of the FH doing such huge payloads is the faring diameter and volume. It is just not big enough for even the 53mt payload that have been discussed except for propellant tanker duty.

A BTW the 220mt prop load and 13mt dry weight (landing kit) Raptor US if fully refueled in LEO would have without any payload 10.7 km/s delta V. This is enough to go and land on the Moon and almost return to LEO.  ;D

Thanks for these analyses!!!

This upper stage is the vehicle that could be configured for a tanker, cargo carrier, or mini-MCT (1/5th scale or so).  If anyone is interested in exploration near term, this is the ticket.  We don't have to wait decades.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: watermod on 01/30/2016 07:40 PM
Would this possible FH Raptor based 2nd stage be usable or worthwhile on an FT first stage?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 01/30/2016 08:24 PM
Would this possible FH Raptor based 2nd stage be usable or worthwhile on an FT first stage?

USAF wants it to be developed for both F9 and FH

http://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/642983
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 01/30/2016 08:58 PM
Would this possible FH Raptor based 2nd stage be usable or worthwhile on an FT first stage?

USAF wants it to be developed for both F9 and FH

http://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/642983

Actually it simply says developing an engine for the upper stage of an F9 or FH, what was linked to had no words about actually developing the upper stage just the engine.

It would be a new and additional contract to develop any sort of Raptor based upper stage, and at that time it might be decided that it was an upper stage for just one of the two, or two different upper stages for the two different boosters. And of course no further contract could be forthcoming. Finally the next contract might be for a Raptor for sea level use with or without specifying what booster it was being designed for. As it is this contract is just for engine development and I would interpret the "for the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy upper stage" as being already oversimplified since the existing stage can not use methane.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rpapo on 01/30/2016 09:04 PM
Actually it simply says developing an engine for the upper stage of an F9 or FH, what was linked to had no words about actually developing the upper stage just the engine.
And the document itself was only in support of a relatively small grant to help in the development of said engine.  If the contract had been to make a whole new upper stage, the value of the contract would have had to be much larger.

Relatively small as the industry goes.  I wouldn't mind having just 2-3% of it to fully fund my retirement...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 01/30/2016 09:57 PM
This upper stage is the vehicle that could be configured for a tanker, cargo carrier, or mini-MCT (1/5th scale or so).  If anyone is interested in exploration near term, this is the ticket.  We don't have to wait decades.

I agree, which is why I started this thread:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39477.0
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bynaus on 01/30/2016 10:26 PM
"Falcon Heavy will launch towards the end of the year, possibly late summer" - according to Elon, when answering questions at the Hyperloop design competition (it was a streamed event, so no video yet).

So it seems like Mars is definetly out as a "secret/surprise" target for the Demo mission. Well, there is still the Moon, there is still hope... :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/31/2016 04:47 AM
"Falcon Heavy will launch towards the end of the year, possibly late summer" - according to Elon, when answering questions at the Hyperloop design competition (it was a streamed event, so no video yet).

So it seems like Mars is definetly out as a "secret/surprise" target for the Demo mission. Well, there is still the Moon, there is still hope... :)
Why is that? They could pick a slower route to Mars... And Falcon Heavy should have performance to spare to use a non-optimal late-window launch slot.

A deep space flight of an unmanned Dragon 2, perhaps landing on the Moon or perhaps returning back to Earth from a loop around the Moon, would also be useful in expanding Dragon 2's reentry envelope and also proving it they can land effectively on other celestial bodies (a difficult feat itself and good precursor to Mars). We shall see.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Bynaus on 01/31/2016 11:44 AM
"Falcon Heavy will launch towards the end of the year, possibly late summer" - according to Elon, when answering questions at the Hyperloop design competition (it was a streamed event, so no video yet).

So it seems like Mars is definetly out as a "secret/surprise" target for the Demo mission. Well, there is still the Moon, there is still hope... :)
Why is that? They could pick a slower route to Mars... And Falcon Heavy should have performance to spare to use a non-optimal late-window launch slot.

A deep space flight of an unmanned Dragon 2, perhaps landing on the Moon or perhaps returning back to Earth from a loop around the Moon, would also be useful in expanding Dragon 2's reentry envelope and also proving it they can land effectively on other celestial bodies (a difficult feat itself and good precursor to Mars). We shall see.

Whether FH has enough excess delta-v to still make a Mars-transit in late summer would have to be looked at in more detail.

A free return flight of an unmanned Dragon 2 however would seem possible with only minimal additional work, whereas a Moon landing would require substantial modification of the Dragon 2 (e.g., to accomodate additional fuel). It would be an impressive stunt if it works, but at the same time I don't think Musk would want to spend too much effort on this, so I don't think we will see an unmanned Moon landing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 01/31/2016 11:52 AM
Elon Musk made a surprise appearance at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition yesterday and during his talk said that FH is NET "end of the year / late summer".

Credit to /u/zucal for link to a recording of the live stream. Apparently Elon stated this at :58, but I couldn't scroll through the video

http://m.ustream.tv/channel/uAPmkVhqjrx
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: 2552 on 01/31/2016 02:02 PM
Elon's talk at the Hyperloop Pod Competition Award Ceremony is on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2VVp1GfmA

Q&A starts at 3:33 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2VVp1GfmA?t=213), FH question at 30:42 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab2VVp1GfmA?t=1842).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomTX on 01/31/2016 02:17 PM


My question and concern is with a proposed Raptor upper stage using metholox.  Someone has already figured a 5.2m diameter stage the same length as the existing kerolox upper stage to really improve performance, second stage recovery, or both.  5.2 meter means it would have to be made at a new factory near river or ocean going barge transport, or near the launch pad.   River transportation in America is thousands of miles, the best in the world, so this new wider upper stage can be made almost anywhere.

Why do you think that a 5.2m diameter stage needs to be barged or flown? In Texas you can go up to 5.75m high, 6.0 meters wide and 38 meters long* without even having a human review the routing. You just use the automated routing software online. Big stuff like wind tower segments, tanks and refinery parts get moved around pretty frequently on Texas roads.

http://www.txdmv.gov/oversize-weight-permits/route-inspections

Sure, that doesn't give you a lot of ground clearance - but you can go bigger/higher with loads, you just need to get a human to review them. When I went through McGregor a few weeks ago (nothing on the test stands) - there wasn't any obvious impediment to large diameter loads on the roads. You would need pilot vehicles.

Build a 5.2m Raptor based upper somewhere in Texas, drive it to McGregor, drive it to Boca Chica.

Putting a Raptor based upper on a FH in a few years seems like a great way to start getting flight time on Raptor without having to build a whole new rocket. Yes, it adds some complexity, but not as much as building a whole separate Raptor-based first stage and second stage. The additional potential payload is nice too.

*Okay, the rules are actually in feet, but we were using meters.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 01/31/2016 02:30 PM
I think the expendable dry mass for a Raptor US is too high by several tons. More like 6-7 tons expendable, 10-13 tons reusable (some of that is landing propellant mass).
The current US dry weight is ~6.5mt...
Citation, please. From my best guess, that's probably 2 tons too high.
Unfortunately there are not any reliable source for the weight other than Wiki which uses the 6.5. If it is indeed too high then the payload weight increases and for the reuse of US case increase even more significantly. But I would rather be a little pessimistic than too wildly optimistic in estimating.

I have seen the 4.5t number at this location:
http://spacelaunchreport.com/falcon9ft.html
( see the "vehicle components" table about halfway down the article)

There is no reference as to where it came from, and I find it a little bit questionable that it lists the F1.1 S2 dry mass at 6t, but now the F9 FT version has been reduced to 4.5t?  I know they've gotten a lot of extra performance from the first stage, so maybe that enabled them to shrink S2.  Reducing S2 dry mass by 1.5t to 2.0t without changing dimension seems unlikley.

Using that S2 dry mass does agree with simulations of F9 FT putting a 5.5t mass into GTO, which is the speculated capability of F9 FT.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RonM on 01/31/2016 03:04 PM


My question and concern is with a proposed Raptor upper stage using metholox.  Someone has already figured a 5.2m diameter stage the same length as the existing kerolox upper stage to really improve performance, second stage recovery, or both.  5.2 meter means it would have to be made at a new factory near river or ocean going barge transport, or near the launch pad.   River transportation in America is thousands of miles, the best in the world, so this new wider upper stage can be made almost anywhere.

Why do you think that a 5.2m diameter stage needs to be barged or flown? In Texas you can go up to 5.75m high, 6.0 meters wide and 38 meters long* without even having a human review the routing. You just use the automated routing software online. Big stuff like wind tower segments, tanks and refinery parts get moved around pretty frequently on Texas roads.

http://www.txdmv.gov/oversize-weight-permits/route-inspections

Sure, that doesn't give you a lot of ground clearance - but you can go bigger/higher with loads, you just need to get a human to review them. When I went through McGregor a few weeks ago (nothing on the test stands) - there wasn't any obvious impediment to large diameter loads on the roads. You would need pilot vehicles.

Build a 5.2m Raptor based upper somewhere in Texas, drive it to McGregor, drive it to Boca Chica.

Putting a Raptor based upper on a FH in a few years seems like a great way to start getting flight time on Raptor without having to build a whole new rocket. Yes, it adds some complexity, but not as much as building a whole separate Raptor-based first stage and second stage. The additional potential payload is nice too.

*Okay, the rules are actually in feet, but we were using meters.

Good point about road transport in Texas. Build, test, and launch all Raptor US from Texas and there's no problem.

Build and test in Texas, then ship via barge on the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida if needed there.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 01/31/2016 03:22 PM
Good point about road transport in Texas. Build, test, and launch all Raptor US from Texas and there's no problem.

Build and test in Texas, then ship via barge on the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida if needed there.

Good points. But the starting point of this discussion as I understand, was at least initially those stages would be built in Hawthorne, where the engineering is and where the expertise in building carbon composite components is. As those stages are expected to be reusable, transport cost would not be too important. They could get the qualification stage "somehow" to McGregor for qualification testing and do static fires of operational stages at the launch site. An airport is right adjacent to the factory and if they prefer to ship it a harbour is near too. For that distance a helicopter could lift it. It should not be too hard to build a second stage test frame for the launch pad.

Once there is a BFR factory established, production could move there.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 01/31/2016 04:02 PM
Elon's talk at the Hyperloop Pod Competition Award Ceremony is on youtube.

Elon said that the F9 could send 3-4 tons to Mars and the FH could send 12-13 tons.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomTX on 01/31/2016 04:36 PM
Good point about road transport in Texas. Build, test, and launch all Raptor US from Texas and there's no problem.

Build and test in Texas, then ship via barge on the Intercoastal Waterway to Florida if needed there.

Good points. But the starting point of this discussion as I understand, was at least initially those stages would be built in Hawthorne, where the engineering is and where the expertise in building carbon composite components is. As those stages are expected to be reusable, transport cost would not be too important. They could get the qualification stage "somehow" to McGregor for qualification testing and do static fires of operational stages at the launch site. An airport is right adjacent to the factory and if they prefer to ship it a harbour is near too. For that distance a helicopter could lift it. It should not be too hard to build a second stage test frame for the launch pad.

Once there is a BFR factory established, production could move there.

You can drive a 5.2m 2nd stage in other states, it's just that Texas makes it easy, online and automated.

Example:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/permits/pdf_documents/elln/ellntables_082001.pdf

So, I'm perfectly happy if everything happens in Texas, easier for me to go see it ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RAN on 01/31/2016 05:59 PM
The Planetary Society posted this update regarding their LightSail spacecraft on January 29th.  They mention a launch of FH in September 2016 with a dual payload of LightSail and Prox-1.  Could this be the demo payload?

Quote
LightSail is scheduled to be delivered to Georgia Tech for integration into the Prox-1 spacecraft later that month. The duo are manifested for a SpaceX Falcon Heavy flight in September 2016, pending launch vehicle readiness.

Or is it expected that the demo payload will not be a paying customer.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/2016/20160129-lightsail-b-sail-deployment.html?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: geza on 01/31/2016 06:21 PM
Prox-1 is a nanosat, not a major payload:
http://www.css.gatech.edu/projects.html
It will perform proximity operations with its expended launcher and with "additional objects". Prox-1 will also deploy the solar sail and inspects its deplyment:
http://www.ssdl.gatech.edu/

We still don't know, whether the first FH will lauch something bigger. Probably not...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 01/31/2016 06:30 PM
Light sail is not on the demo launch, it's on the flight after that.  Sept 2016 is what they've been saying for months for the lightsail mission, it doesn't account for the latest delays to the demo flight.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RAN on 01/31/2016 07:55 PM
Thanks for the info.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: watermod on 01/31/2016 11:04 PM
Elon Musk made a surprise appearance at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition yesterday and during his talk said that FH is NET "end of the year / late summer".

Credit to /u/zucal for link to a recording of the live stream. Apparently Elon stated this at :58, but I couldn't scroll through the video

http://m.ustream.tv/channel/uAPmkVhqjrx

(http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/peanuts/images/a/a0/1107charlie_brown_lucy_football.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100523172400) ?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 01/31/2016 11:22 PM

Elon Musk made a surprise appearance at the SpaceX Hyperloop competition yesterday and during his talk said that FH is NET "end of the year / late summer".

Credit to /u/zucal for link to a recording of the live stream. Apparently Elon stated this at :58, but I couldn't scroll through the video

http://m.ustream.tv/channel/uAPmkVhqjrx

(http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/peanuts/images/a/a0/1107charlie_brown_lucy_football.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20100523172400) ?
Now THAT was funny! LOL!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Retired Downrange on 02/03/2016 06:26 PM
Quote from:
Re: Pad 39A - Transition to SpaceX Falcon Heavy debut - Thread 2
« Reply #192 on: Today at 01:57 PM »

Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  7m7 minutes ago
Shotwell: we have completed and activated LC-39A for F9 and Falcon Heavy missions.

Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  2m2 minutes ago
Shotwell: we’ll post updated Falcon Heavy performance numbers later this week/early next week.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mme on 02/03/2016 06:35 PM
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/694955310465818624 (https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/694955310465818624):
Quote
Shotwell: Falcon Heavy recovery plans drives all sorts of requirements at the range; with 3 booster cores returning.
That will be such a site to see.  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Marslauncher on 02/03/2016 07:20 PM
Hah - Per Gwynne Shotwell, Falcon 9 Heavy will look at cross fed a year or two after first flight, unclear if 60 tonnes to orbit is something that customers need yet.

Ramp up to 30 cores per year by the end of this year, currently have 6 processing lanes now for cores.

Oh also confirmation the F9(FT) legs are beefier and more robust.

Let the crossfeed talk continue!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_aF3WOfSJY&feature=youtu.be
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/03/2016 07:38 PM
Hah - Per Gwynne Shotwell, Falcon 9 Heavy will look at cross fed a year or two after first flight, unclear if 60 tonnes to orbit is something that customers need yet.

Is that what they're saying FT disposable with cross feed will get, or what FT disposable with cross feed and Raptor US will get?

If that's with the Merlin US and Raptor US gets even more, they're moving into SLS comparable territory.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TrevorMonty on 02/03/2016 07:46 PM
Hah - Per Gwynne Shotwell, Falcon 9 Heavy will look at cross fed a year or two after first flight, unclear if 60 tonnes to orbit is something that customers need yet.

Is that what they're saying FT disposable with cross feed will get, or what FT disposable with cross feed and Raptor US will get?
60t likely to be for current FH full thrust version, v1.1 was 53t.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/03/2016 08:07 PM
Someone figured with expendable FH FT cores 81 tons.  Don't know if that is with or without cross feed.  That is a lot of payload. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mongo62 on 02/03/2016 08:15 PM
Someone figured with expendable FH FT cores 81 tons.  Don't know if that is with or without cross feed.  That is a lot of payload.

Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

Shotwell: Falcon Heavy recovery plans drives all sorts of requirements at the range; with 3 booster cores returning.

Implying that if they use cross-feed and expend the center core, then it is definitely in SLS territory, but at a FAR lower cost.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/03/2016 08:36 PM
Yes, can't wait till this thing blasts off.  Hopefully they can get the Raptor upper stage engine running in a year or two, then build the larger upper stage. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/03/2016 09:11 PM
Someone figured with expendable FH FT cores 81 tons.  Don't know if that is with or without cross feed.  That is a lot of payload.

Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

Shotwell: Falcon Heavy recovery plans drives all sorts of requirements at the range; with 3 booster cores returning.

Implying that if they use cross-feed and expend the center core, then it is definitely in SLS territory, but at a FAR lower cost.

If they use x-feed, Raptor US, and expend everything, this could put them closer to Block IIB than to Block I, and still far lower in price. If they fly one like that, Hatch, Shelby, et. al. may not be able to prevent SLS' demise.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Endeavour_01 on 02/03/2016 09:36 PM
Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 02/03/2016 09:52 PM
Someone figured with expendable FH FT cores 81 tons.  Don't know if that is with or without cross feed.  That is a lot of payload.

"Somebody" has also said that earth is flat.

v1.1 without crossfeed was 40 tonnes, with crossfeed 53 tonnes.
FT version of F9 gets 30% more to GTO than v1.1 version of F9 mostly due more propellant in second stage, but also due more thrust(less gravity losses during 1st stage) and slightly more 1st stage fuel. Gains to LEO are smaller, so the heavy is propably about 50 tonnes to LEO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/03/2016 10:32 PM
It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.

Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  2m2 minutes ago
Shotwell: we’ll post updated Falcon Heavy performance numbers later this week/early next week.

I know this isn't the space policy section, but I hope two things happen.

1) They post what fully expendable w/ X-feed and Raptor US will do and what it will cost.

2) That comes up in presidential debates re. NASA and HSF.

It would be nice for the candidates to do some thinking about and some debating around the deep space HSF program. It would be engaging to hear them debate whether NASA should be freed from SLS and allowed to work with SX through space act agreements towards some achievable and affordable goals.

Since replies here take the thread OT, I have started a new thread in the Space Policy section to discuss this:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39508.0
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/03/2016 10:33 PM
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39310.msg1481719#msg1481719

This somebody is "oldatlas_Eguy". 

Quote:

"Using the T/W of 125, Thrust of 550klbf, 5.2m diameter tank of same length as M1D tank, and ISP of 380 I get for 3 core RTLS FHFT which can theoretically do 40mt with a Raptor US could do 58mt 3 core RTLS. As expendable max FHFT can do ~58mt so with raptor 81mt. With margins for engine out 53mt, Raptor 75mt. (estimates)"
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 02/03/2016 10:36 PM
Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.

How wide can the payload be? If a FH can deliver a maximum of 60 or even 80 or more tons to LEO, then the possible shape will become more and more important. >60t, yet no more than 5m wide? That would be interesting for large quantities of cargo, either fuel or packaged goods like food and equipment.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/03/2016 10:43 PM
All payloads since Shuttle started back in 1981 were designed to fit the Shuttle cargo bay, which was a little less than 5m wide x 18m long.  Atlas V, Delta IV and SpaceX use a fairing to handle 5m payloads.  Anything wider will take a wider fairing which is not impossible.  Atlas and Delta had plans for wider ones, but they never had a need.  Even the Bigelow 330 module can fit in a 5m or the 5.2m fairing of Falcon Heavy.  I think 6m or maybe 7m is possible on top of a 5.2m upper stage, but may not be necessary for a long time.  Assembly in space of 5m wide components can build a large NautilusX spacecraft for a Mars mission or lunar mission, or a huge space station using Bigelow 330 modules.  Even the SLS with an upper stage, payloads will only be about 5m wide or slightly more unless they build a wider upper stage.   
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/03/2016 10:44 PM
I know this isn't the space policy section, but I hope two things happen.

1) They post what fully expendable w/ X-feed and Raptor US will do and what it will cost.

I think it is far too early to get anything about a Raptor US from SpaceX either in numbers or even general description.  In fact I am still not all that sure it will ever happen. The funding agreement with the USAF is for an engine that could be used in an F9/FH upper stage, not for an upper stage.

I would be very happy though if we got numbers for these 4 configurations FH3RTLS, FH3R with centre core ASDS recovery, FH2RTLS centre core expended, and FHE. And if they gave us the throttling regime on the centre core in all those cases. I am still not convinced cross feed is worth the effort.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/03/2016 10:59 PM
Why would the Air-Force want a new upper stage engine, if they didn't want an upper stage on some rocket?  Currently there are only two active upper stage engines, the RL-10 and the vacuum Merlin.  RL-10's are expensive and limited in power.  Merlin has power but is low on ISP.  So the Air-Force wants a new upper engine, more powerful than the RL-10 but higher ISP than Merlin.  So a new upper stage can be used on Falcon Heavy or even sold to ULA for an upper stage for Vulcan.  Make's sense since Vulcan is to be metholox.  Raptor is to be metholox.  Making the tankage 5.2m for a new upper stage is the easy part, building the vacuum Raptor is the hard part.  SpaceX doesn't mind taking the Air-Force's money to help.  More might come in the next few years to finish it. 

Check out my link above for the "numbers".  I know they are not from SpaceX and the SpaceX website is way behind in their numbers. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/03/2016 11:10 PM
Why would the Air-Force want a new upper stage engine, if they didn't want an upper stage on some rocket?  Currently there are only two active upper stage engines, the RL-10 and the vacuum Merlin.  RL-10's are expensive and limited in power.  Merlin has power but is low on ISP.  So the Air-Force wants a new upper engine, more powerful than the RL-10 but higher ISP than Merlin.  So a new upper stage can be used on Falcon Heavy or even sold to ULA for an upper stage for Vulcan.  Make's sense since Vulcan is to be metholox.  Raptor is to be metholox.  Making the tankage 5.2m for a new upper stage is the easy part, building the vacuum Raptor is the hard part.  SpaceX doesn't mind taking the Air-Force's money to help.  More might come in the next few years to finish it. 

Check out my link above for the "numbers".  I know they are not from SpaceX and the SpaceX website is way behind in their numbers.

I have those numbers, and ones I have made up for FT and those for a methalox 5M upper stage (a little longer than the existing one) but I won't bother redoing my performance model and sharing it with numbers that I made up or that someone else conjured up. I have played with it for my purposes, but I am seriously interested in the SpaceX numbers when they come out over the next week or two. Particularly if they have revised ISP too.

The USAF has made a lot of development agreements that have gone nowhere, I think there is a reasonable chance (at least 50%) that the RaptorVac will be built but that there is no F9/FH stage built for it ever. And I seriously doubt whether the AF gets anyone else to manufacture a stage built on it, even if the development agreement allows for it.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 02/03/2016 11:14 PM
Maybe the funding of the raptor US engine is just a thumbscrew for ULA?

A monopoly is not the ideal situation for the air force, having an additional supplier is always a good idea, even if the air force is never going to use it, just the option that they could do it adds a leverage at negotiations.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/04/2016 12:30 AM
SpaceX, in order to get the money, are spending more on this engine than the Air Force, so they must be serious about it's development.  They do want to go to Mars and will need it for MCT or and upper stage for the BFR.  This money would help speed that along. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 02/04/2016 01:00 AM
It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.

Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  2m2 minutes ago
Shotwell: we’ll post updated Falcon Heavy performance numbers later this week/early next week.

I know this isn't the space policy section, but I hope two things happen.

1) They post what fully expendable w/ X-feed and Raptor US will do and what it will cost.

2) That comes up in presidential debates re. NASA and HSF.

It would be nice for the candidates to do some thinking about and some debating around the deep space HSF program. It would be engaging to hear them debate whether NASA should be freed from SLS and allowed to work with SX through space act agreements towards some achievable and affordable goals.

Since replies here take the thread OT, I have started a new thread in the Space Policy section to discuss this:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39508.0 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39508.0)


Since many of us can't post in Space Policy, I'll just state here that a presidential debate on the topic now would not be very productive, as the candidates are almost certainly all woefully uninformed about the subject.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Geron on 02/04/2016 01:15 AM
Does anyone have a copy of the video of Shotwell making statements about falcon 9/heavy at the ISDC in DC?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/04/2016 01:22 AM
Does anyone have a copy of the video of Shotwell making statements about falcon 9/heavy at the ISDC in DC?
Here's a link to Shotwell's talk:
She's on at 2:43:00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cT7_iySwP8
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/04/2016 01:26 AM
And an article with highlights:

Quote
SpaceX also plans this year to conduct the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket, a larger variant of the Falcon 9 that has two additional boosters strapped to its sides. Like the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy is also meant to be reusable at some point. However, its recovery will be much more complicated, since it will require landing three boosters instead of just one. Shotwell said SpaceX will post updated performance numbers for the Falcon Heavy within the next few weeks.

http://news.yahoo.com/spacex-modify-falcon-9-rocket-200232767.html;_ylt=A0LEVoC5tbJWOsUA3IoPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH on 02/04/2016 08:56 AM
With a 50T capacity, it could launch two BA330 at once...width is OK, but having trouble finding launch lengths, so that might be a limiting factor.

Instant SpaceStation(t).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: starsilk on 02/04/2016 03:38 PM
Why would the Air-Force want a new upper stage engine, if they didn't want an upper stage on some rocket?  Currently there are only two active upper stage engines, the RL-10 and the vacuum Merlin.  RL-10's are expensive and limited in power.  Merlin has power but is low on ISP.  So the Air-Force wants a new upper engine, more powerful than the RL-10 but higher ISP than Merlin.  So a new upper stage can be used on Falcon Heavy or even sold to ULA for an upper stage for Vulcan.  Make's sense since Vulcan is to be metholox.  Raptor is to be metholox.  Making the tankage 5.2m for a new upper stage is the easy part, building the vacuum Raptor is the hard part.  SpaceX doesn't mind taking the Air-Force's money to help.  More might come in the next few years to finish it. 

also J-2X. quite a lot of money was spent on that recently...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Burninate on 02/04/2016 04:23 PM
Does anyone have a copy of the video of Shotwell making statements about falcon 9/heavy at the ISDC in DC?
Here's a link to Shotwell's talk:
She's on at 2:43:00
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cT7_iySwP8
Asked directly about updated Falcon Heavy numbers.  "we'll post updated figures later this week or early next week".  No crossfeed at the beginning, but still on the table for later.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TrueBlueWitt on 02/04/2016 05:27 PM
Gwenn refused to give numbers but did say she didn't have any costumers asking for "60 tons" right now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: notsorandom on 02/04/2016 06:44 PM
Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.

How wide can the payload be? If a FH can deliver a maximum of 60 or even 80 or more tons to LEO, then the possible shape will become more and more important. >60t, yet no more than 5m wide? That would be interesting for large quantities of cargo, either fuel or packaged goods like food and equipment.
This is something that is important yet rarely gets mentioned when talking about how much mass Falcon Heavy can lift. We are familiar with the concept of the cargo on Dragon being volume rather than mass limited. From the Oct 2015 user guide I worked out that the Falcon fairing has about 700 cubic meters of space. To lift a full 53mt of payload the density of the payload mass to fairing volume would have to be greater than 75 kg per cubic meter. For a payload of 60mt it would have to be greater than 85 kg per cubic meter and for 80mt 114 kg per cubic meter. John Shannon mentioned when he was presenting tot he Augustine Committee that most payloads have the density of balsa wood. The problem is that balsa wood varies greatly in density between 64 to 160 kg per cubic meter. Still it does kinda give a nebulous frame of reference for when the Falcon Heavy might become limited by volume. They could also make a bigger fairing but they really want to keep commonality between the two Falcon variants. Also this is for LEO only. Payloads riding to higher energy trajectories will be lighter and should have plenty of room.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/04/2016 06:47 PM
I guess people are thinking that if you have a large tonnage size, things like fuel for depots, structures for habitats, and such could be built or loaded in LEO for deep space travel or large space stations.  Then you are limited by volume. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Hotblack Desiato on 02/04/2016 07:23 PM
Could 60t be with all three FT cores being recovered, as indicated by Jeff Foust's tweet, and a Raptor expendable US?

It seems the comment was 60 mt with crossfeed and all cores expended. Not sure how much a Raptor US would add.

How wide can the payload be? If a FH can deliver a maximum of 60 or even 80 or more tons to LEO, then the possible shape will become more and more important. >60t, yet no more than 5m wide? That would be interesting for large quantities of cargo, either fuel or packaged goods like food and equipment.
This is something that is important yet rarely gets mentioned when talking about how much mass Falcon Heavy can lift. We are familiar with the concept of the cargo on Dragon being volume rather than mass limited. From the Oct 2015 user guide I worked out that the Falcon fairing has about 700 cubic meters of space. To lift a full 53mt of payload the density of the payload mass to fairing volume would have to be greater than 75 kg per cubic meter. For a payload of 60mt it would have to be greater than 85 kg per cubic meter and for 80mt 114 kg per cubic meter. John Shannon mentioned when he was presenting tot he Augustine Committee that most payloads have the density of balsa wood. The problem is that balsa wood varies greatly in density between 64 to 160 kg per cubic meter. Still it does kinda give a nebulous frame of reference for when the Falcon Heavy might become limited by volume. They could also make a bigger fairing but they really want to keep commonality between the two Falcon variants. Also this is for LEO only. Payloads riding to higher energy trajectories will be lighter and should have plenty of room.

Yes, especially the last sentence is my conclusion too. That rocket would be beyond 20t TxI (TLI, TMI, whatever). Raises the question, what reentry speeds would a reusable upper stage accept? Bring some cargo on a highly elliptical orbit, and let it do the last burn with an internal small rocket motor. The US will then come back with 10-11 km/s reentryspeed (maybe a bit less, if it can perform a slight retroburn, on the other hand, it could do an aerobraking flight through the atmosphere).

The other reason for this high value, which leads to a long and rather thin payload shape is: FH is not intended to be used fully expendable. At least not for LEO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/04/2016 08:35 PM
I guess people are thinking that if you have a large tonnage size, things like fuel for depots, structures for habitats, and such could be built or loaded in LEO for deep space travel or large space stations.  Then you are limited by volume.

Not sure what you mean? 
The current 5.2m fairing is approximately 200m3.
Even filled with liquid methane only, it would mass 85tonnes; with Lox, 228tonnes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/04/2016 08:43 PM
There is only 26 days until the 1st of March. 1 March would be a good point for a schedule of a major info release about FH (FT).  This is just over 3 weeks from now. It would also be several days after hopefully SES-9 has successfully launched.

Not only will it be hard waiting on the SES-9 launch but on the FH info release. Hopefully they give 4 sets of info:
1) RTLS all 3 cores LEO
2) RTLS all 3 cores GTO
3) Expendable  all 3 cores LEO
4) Expendable all 3 cores GTO

These four give the corners of the performance box defined by LEO vs GTO and RTLS 3 core vs expendable 3 core.

And if we are lucky they will also accompany the performance info with some new pricing info.

It will be informative to find out how far off our estimates have been as to what they consider the normal (with margins) payload capabilities are.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/04/2016 08:44 PM
I mean the larger tonnage delivered to LEO would be the items I listed.  I know fuel and lox will probably weigh far more than anything except maybe lithium batteries, especially lox.  I do agree a 5.2 meter space is a lot of space.  Limited volume would probably be for things like large solar panels, or large structures like large habitats, then space might be limited.   Even if the tonnage is 60, two Bigelow 330 modules weigh 40 tons, but may not fit in the current space of the existing FH fairing.  That is why maybe a larger fairing might be needed to match the tonnage of certain items. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/04/2016 08:46 PM
There is only 26 days until the 1st of March. 1 March would be a good point for a schedule of a major info release about FH (FT).  This is just over 3 weeks from now. It would also be several days after hopefully SES-9 has successfully launched.

Not only will it be hard waiting on the SES-9 launch but on the FH info release. Hopefully they give 4 sets of info:
1) RTLS all 3 cores LEO
2) RTLS all 3 cores GTO
3) Expendable  all 3 cores LEO
4) Expendable all 3 cores GTO

These four give the corners of the performance box defined by LEO vs GTO and RTLS 3 core vs expendable 3 core.

And if we are lucky they will also accompany the performance info with some new pricing info.

It will be informative to find out how far off our estimates have been as to what they consider the normal (with margins) payload capabilities are.
I think it is really important to differentiate how much performance improvement you get with putting the centre core on an ASDS and how little penalty there is if you are expending the centre core but RTLSing the side boosters.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/04/2016 09:52 PM
There is only 26 days until the 1st of March. 1 March would be a good point for a schedule of a major info release about FH (FT).  This is just over 3 weeks from now. It would also be several days after hopefully SES-9 has successfully launched.

Not only will it be hard waiting on the SES-9 launch but on the FH info release. Hopefully they give 4 sets of info:
1) RTLS all 3 cores LEO
2) RTLS all 3 cores GTO
3) Expendable  all 3 cores LEO
4) Expendable all 3 cores GTO

These four give the corners of the performance box defined by LEO vs GTO and RTLS 3 core vs expendable 3 core.

And if we are lucky they will also accompany the performance info with some new pricing info.

It will be informative to find out how far off our estimates have been as to what they consider the normal (with margins) payload capabilities are.
I think it is really important to differentiate how much performance improvement you get with putting the centre core on an ASDS and how little penalty there is if you are expending the centre core but RTLSing the side boosters.
If they give every thing we would like to have then there would be a table with

LEO, GTO, TLI, TMI, C3 across the top and

RTLS 3 core,
RTLS boosters ASDS center,
RTLS boosters center expended,
ASDS boosters center expended and
all expended

down the side. Not only payload size but pricing as well and I will jump for joy because mission straw-mans for Lunar or Mars can be costed accurately instead of the estimates based on other estimates.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/04/2016 10:18 PM
There is only 26 days until the 1st of March. 1 March would be a good point for a schedule of a major info release about FH (FT).  This is just over 3 weeks from now. It would also be several days after hopefully SES-9 has successfully launched.

Not only will it be hard waiting on the SES-9 launch but on the FH info release. Hopefully they give 4 sets of info:
1) RTLS all 3 cores LEO
2) RTLS all 3 cores GTO
3) Expendable  all 3 cores LEO
4) Expendable all 3 cores GTO

These four give the corners of the performance box defined by LEO vs GTO and RTLS 3 core vs expendable 3 core.

And if we are lucky they will also accompany the performance info with some new pricing info.

It will be informative to find out how far off our estimates have been as to what they consider the normal (with margins) payload capabilities are.
I think it is really important to differentiate how much performance improvement you get with putting the centre core on an ASDS and how little penalty there is if you are expending the centre core but RTLSing the side boosters.
If they give every thing we would like to have then there would be a table with

LEO, GTO, TLI, TMI, C3 across the top and

RTLS 3 core,
RTLS boosters ASDS center,
RTLS boosters center expended,
ASDS boosters center expended and
all expended

down the side. Not only payload size but pricing as well and I will jump for joy because mission straw-mans for Lunar or Mars can be costed accurately instead of the estimates based on other estimates.

I simply want to calibrate my model
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/04/2016 10:27 PM
Not sure what you mean? 
The current 5.2m fairing is approximately 200m3.
Even filled with liquid methane only, it would mass 85tonnes; with Lox, 228tonnes.

.. and filled with steel it'd be 1600 tons. i.e., if you were building steel structures in space, using FH to launch the raw materials would give you 7.5 m3 of material per launch. That giant fairing would be mostly empty, suggesting you'd be wise to form it into less dense beams and girders or whatever.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/04/2016 10:32 PM
If a Raptor upper stage becomes real, and its diameter is 5.2 meters as has been speculated, could FH then handle a 7ish meter and longer (15-18m) fairing?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TrueBlueWitt on 02/04/2016 10:55 PM
Wouldn't the best plan for building structures in space.. be to send raw material and use a 3d printer?  Then existing fairing would be more than adequate. Correct?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/04/2016 10:59 PM
Wouldn't the best plan for building structures in space.. be to send raw material and use a 3d printer?  Then existing fairing would be more than adequate. Correct?

It'd be fun to find out.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/04/2016 11:03 PM
Yes, it would be 520 tons of aluminum.  So any fairing larger than what they have would have to be for extremely light materials.  So the 5.2m x 13m fairing they now use should be adequate for most anything currently being launched or planned even one Bigelow 330 module.  The F9 FT with a new Raptor upper stage might even be able to handle a Bigelow 330 module by itself.  LOX seems to be the heaviest bulk item for a depot that could be launched.  I see now why making lox on the moon out of regolith might be cheaper than launching it from earth to a L1 station. 

IF they lengthened the fairing to 15-18m it would be about the same size as the shuttle cargo bay.  This would probably only happen with a new upper stage though for extremely large but light payloads. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 02/05/2016 12:03 AM

There is only 26 days until the 1st of March. 1 March would be a good point for a schedule of a major info release about FH (FT).  This is just over 3 weeks from now. It would also be several days after hopefully SES-9 has successfully launched.

Not only will it be hard waiting on the SES-9 launch but on the FH info release. Hopefully they give 4 sets of info:
1) RTLS all 3 cores LEO
2) RTLS all 3 cores GTO
3) Expendable  all 3 cores LEO
4) Expendable all 3 cores GTO

These four give the corners of the performance box defined by LEO vs GTO and RTLS 3 core vs expendable 3 core.

And if we are lucky they will also accompany the performance info with some new pricing info.

It will be informative to find out how far off our estimates have been as to what they consider the normal (with margins) payload capabilities are.
I think it is really important to differentiate how much performance improvement you get with putting the centre core on an ASDS and how little penalty there is if you are expending the centre core but RTLSing the side boosters.
If they give every thing we would like to have then there would be a table with

LEO, GTO, TLI, TMI, C3 across the top and

RTLS 3 core,
RTLS boosters ASDS center,
RTLS boosters center expended,
ASDS boosters center expended and
all expended

down the side. Not only payload size but pricing as well and I will jump for joy because mission straw-mans for Lunar or Mars can be costed accurately instead of the estimates based on other estimates.

Dream on. :) They've never released that kind of performance detail for anything, what makes you think try will now?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sewebster on 02/05/2016 12:11 AM
Dream on. :) They've never released that kind of performance detail for anything, what makes you think try will now?

So I guess you're saying you don't expect them to just release the source code for their calculations?  :(
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/05/2016 12:20 AM
Dream on. :) They've never released that kind of performance detail for anything, what makes you think try will now?

So I guess you're saying you don't expect them to just release the source code for their calculations?  :(
Look I would be happy with the ISP and important mass elements for the new cores and upper stage as well as ISP and thrust data for the FT engines as long as they either describe the throttling profile of the centre stage and give at least performance of all expendable, centre core expendable side core RTLS, centre core ASDS side core RTLS and all RTLS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 12:31 AM
I'd be happy if they just updated the numbers here:
http://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov
...to include F9FT, Heavy, and most of the reuse/expendable variants like they show all the different Atlas V variants.

I'd also like if they updated it for Atlas V dual Centaur and the latest Delta IV Heavy variant.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/05/2016 12:35 AM
I'd be happy if they just updated the numbers here:
http://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov
...to include F9FT, Heavy, and most of the reuse/expendable variants like they show all the different Atlas V variants.

I'd also like if they updated it for Atlas V dual Centaur and the latest Delta IV Heavy variant.

I don't think SpaceX could update that site - nor do they have the numbers for Atlas and Delta I don't think - or who is the "they" you are referring to.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 12:38 AM
NASA
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/05/2016 02:09 AM
Not sure what you mean? 
The current 5.2m fairing is approximately 200m3.
Even filled with liquid methane only, it would mass 85tonnes; with Lox, 228tonnes.

.. and filled with steel it'd be 1600 tons. i.e., if you were building steel structures in space, using FH to launch the raw materials would give you 7.5 m3 of material per launch. That giant fairing would be mostly empty, suggesting you'd be wise to form it into less dense beams and girders or whatever.

I was responding to:
I guess people are thinking that if you have a large tonnage size, things like fuel for depots, structures for habitats, and such could be built or loaded in LEO for deep space travel or large space stations.  Then you are limited by volume.

Wasn't sure what spacenut was saying... if you are hauling dense payloads (fuel, steel, water...), then the FH would be mass limited, not limited by volume.  Still confused (but used to it).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 02:21 AM
They can always make a bigger fairing, just like the similarly-sized (in diameter) Atlas V has a 7.2m fairing as an option (that no one has ever ordered). But almost none of our spacecraft infrastructure is built for more than 5m diameter payloads, and shipping such enormous payloads is an enormous pain since you pretty much can't even use an airplane (limited to about 7m, and even then it's like a single aircraft that you'd have to rely on, at least in the US).

I think the whole "volume-limited" thing is overdone. 5m is fine, and you DON'T need a bigger launch vehicle to use a bigger-than-5m fairing.

Also, where the heck would you TEST such a huge fairing? As it is, 5m fairings barely fit at Plum Brook, which has the largest vacuum chamber in the world.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 02/05/2016 02:27 AM
Once the first FH vehicle has lifted from the pad we'll likely know a bit more about the cost (to SpaceX) of launching FH. Only then will we know, for easily divisible payloads like propellant or water, whether a single FH launch is more cost effective than multiple F9FT launches. I think Shotwell knows her potential customers well, and if she doesn't have any asking for 60 tons right now, she is prudent to defer public comment about that capability and how it might be priced.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sewebster on 02/05/2016 03:07 AM
Also, where the heck would you TEST such a huge fairing? As it is, 5m fairings barely fit at Plum Brook, which has the largest vacuum chamber in the world.

Isn't the vacuum chamber 100' in diameter and taller than that? The acoustic facility is smaller...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 02/05/2016 06:26 AM
Dream on. :) They've never released that kind of performance detail for anything, what makes you think try will now?

So I guess you're saying you don't expect them to just release the source code for their calculations?  :(
Look I would be happy with the ISP and important mass elements for the new cores and upper stage as well as ISP and thrust data for the FT engines as long as they either describe the throttling profile of the centre stage and give at least performance of all expendable, centre core expendable side core RTLS, centre core ASDS side core RTLS and all RTLS.

Do you want them to release a cure for cancer while they are at it?...  ::) No one in the business releases that level of detail.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/05/2016 01:39 PM
Dream on. :) They've never released that kind of performance detail for anything, what makes you think try will now?

So I guess you're saying you don't expect them to just release the source code for their calculations?  :(
Look I would be happy with the ISP and important mass elements for the new cores and upper stage as well as ISP and thrust data for the FT engines as long as they either describe the throttling profile of the centre stage and give at least performance of all expendable, centre core expendable side core RTLS, centre core ASDS side core RTLS and all RTLS.

Do you want them to release a cure for cancer while they are at it?...  ::) No one in the business releases that level of detail.

No, I think the chance of them curing cancer is a little lower than the chance of them putting the ULA numbers up on a NASA website mentioned above.

Seriously were were promised updated FHFT numbers, I want enough to model as accurately as I can.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: StuffOfInterest on 02/05/2016 02:29 PM
One thing to keep in mind with all this discussion of larger payload fairings is road transport.  I doubt anything over the current size is going to be able to fit on the road in halves.  Will quarter slices get you back to small enough?  That adds more complexity.  Of course, there has been no mention of any actual payloads out there requiring larger than what is available now so much of this discussion is just burning pixels for fun.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 02/05/2016 02:38 PM
You could ship it in quarters but have it split in half at sep the same way the smaller fairings do. The flange and fasteners would make it a little heavier, but you could road ship some really big fairings in quarters without having to reinvent the sep event.

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: McDew on 02/05/2016 02:44 PM
Yes, and the URL was NASA.gov. Thought that'd be sufficient for individuals capable of independent thought.

The best numbers we ever got for 1.1 came from there, came from NASA. I hope it is updated with full thrust and Falcon Heavy numbers.
The NASA site reflects the vehicle configurations and contractual performance offered by the contractors for the NLS-II IDIQ contract.  Contractors can only propose new offerings once a year during the on-ramp period (nominally each August).  Don't expect the numbers or configurations on the NASA site to change until after the next on-ramp/evaluation period.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/05/2016 02:46 PM
Yes, and the URL was NASA.gov. Thought that'd be sufficient.

The best numbers we ever got for 1.1 came from there, came from NASA. I hope it is updated with full thrust and Falcon Heavy numbers.

I got the numbers from spaceflight 101, the SpaceX web site and wikipedia - can you give me a more specific link on that site at NASA because I couldn't find data from there, just a web form for calculating performance (which is aspx and if I go view source I don't see the numbers it makes its calculations from)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 03:00 PM
Yes, and the URL was NASA.gov. Thought that'd be sufficient.

The best numbers we ever got for 1.1 came from there, came from NASA. I hope it is updated with full thrust and Falcon Heavy numbers.

I got the numbers from spaceflight 101, the SpaceX web site and wikipedia - can you give me a more specific link on that site at NASA because I couldn't find data from there, just a web form for calculating performance (which is aspx and if I go view source I don't see the numbers it makes its calculations from)
Yes, you must actually calculate performance to a reference orbit of your choosing. That's better than Wikipedia (obviously), SpaceX (doesn't provide full orbit parameters and reserves some undefined amount of performance for reuse, according to Shotwell), and spaceflight101 (which isn't a primary source).

And because it gives you performance numbers to many different orbits, you can use it to calibrate your model much better than just giving a couple reference orbits (especially when it's "GTO" without specifying 1500 or 1800m/s-to-go)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 03:21 PM
Yes, and the URL was NASA.gov. Thought that'd be sufficient for individuals capable of independent thought.

The best numbers we ever got for 1.1 came from there, came from NASA. I hope it is updated with full thrust and Falcon Heavy numbers.
The NASA site reflects the vehicle configurations and contractual performance offered by the contractors for the NLS-II IDIQ contract.  Contractors can only propose new offerings once a year during the on-ramp period (nominally each August).  Don't expect the numbers or configurations on the NASA site to change until after the next on-ramp/evaluation period.
That's a good point, however:

V1.1 was added before it was even flown. Full thrust has already flown. TESS, a NASA payload awarded under NLS (I believe) will necessarily fly on a Full Thrust because v1.1 is retired. This implies that Full Thrust is available through NLS somehow.

...so I think it odd that it hasn't already been updated publicly.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 02/05/2016 03:28 PM
Yes, you must actually calculate performance to a reference orbit of your choosing. That's better than Wikipedia (obviously), SpaceX (doesn't provide full orbit parameters and reserves some undefined amount of performance for reuse, according to Shotwell), and spaceflight101 (which isn't a primary source).

And because it gives you performance numbers to many different orbits, you can use it to calibrate your model much better than just giving a couple reference orbits (especially when it's "GTO" without specifying 1500 or 1800m/s-to-go)

But it does not give me the information I need to calculate anything. How can I use the calculation on this page to check my model of calculations if I don't know the masses they are assuming? Is the reference model in their calculations one with legs?

Back when the first TMI numbers went up on the SpaceX website I could use that with the data on SII engine performance and SII masses (wikipedia, spaceflight 101 and also the SpaceX website) to backwards calculate the speed the FH lofted the 2nd stage to in fully expendable mode. That gave me one point of sanity check for my model of FH operation.  This doesn't really give me any without knowing the numbers they used.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: anonymousgerbil on 02/05/2016 03:31 PM
I found something in the newest F9 user's guide (dated Oct 21st 2015) that perplexed me a bit, especially in regards to Falcon heavy:

Quote
SpaceX uses one of two PAFs on the launch vehicle, based on payload mass. The light PAF can accommodate payloads weighing up to 3,453 kg (7,612 lb), while the heavy PAF can accommodate up to 10,886 kg (24,000 lb).

Would this imply that for payloads greater than 10,886 kg a new PAF would be required?  Seems odd that they can't even max out the single stick with these 2 PAFs, let alone the FH LEO numbers.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 03:35 PM
I found something in the newest F9 user's guide (dated Oct 21st 2015) that perplexed me a bit, especially in regards to Falcon heavy:

Quote
SpaceX uses one of two PAFs on the launch vehicle, based on payload mass. The light PAF can accommodate payloads weighing up to 3,453 kg (7,612 lb), while the heavy PAF can accommodate up to 10,886 kg (24,000 lb).

Would this imply that for payloads greater than 10,886 kg a new PAF would be required?  Seems odd that they can't even max out the single stick with these 2 PAFs, let alone the FH LEO numbers.
The only thing heavier than 10t is Dragon for Falcon 9. Everything else is much lighter. Not many heavy payloads need to launch to LEO.

This is the Falcon 9 user's guide, not the Heavy's.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: anonymousgerbil on 02/05/2016 03:37 PM
I found something in the newest F9 user's guide (dated Oct 21st 2015) that perplexed me a bit, especially in regards to Falcon heavy:

Quote
SpaceX uses one of two PAFs on the launch vehicle, based on payload mass. The light PAF can accommodate payloads weighing up to 3,453 kg (7,612 lb), while the heavy PAF can accommodate up to 10,886 kg (24,000 lb).

Would this imply that for payloads greater than 10,886 kg a new PAF would be required?  Seems odd that they can't even max out the single stick with these 2 PAFs, let alone the FH LEO numbers.
The only thing heavier than 10t is Dragon for Falcon 9. Everything else is much lighter. Not many heavy payloads need to launch to LEO.

This is the Falcon 9 user's guide, not the Heavy's.

The new user's guide covers both F9 and FH:  http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/falcon_9_users_guide_rev_2.0.pdf

Edit:  it at least somewhat talks about FH, doesn't seem to be comprehensive though.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/05/2016 04:52 PM
Yes, you must actually calculate performance to a reference orbit of your choosing. That's better than Wikipedia (obviously), SpaceX (doesn't provide full orbit parameters and reserves some undefined amount of performance for reuse, according to Shotwell), and spaceflight101 (which isn't a primary source).

And because it gives you performance numbers to many different orbits, you can use it to calibrate your model much better than just giving a couple reference orbits (especially when it's "GTO" without specifying 1500 or 1800m/s-to-go)

But it does not give me the information I need to calculate anything. How can I use the calculation on this page to check my model of calculations if I don't know the masses they are assuming? Is the reference model in their calculations one with legs?

Back when the first TMI numbers went up on the SpaceX website I could use that with the data on SII engine performance and SII masses (wikipedia, spaceflight 101 and also the SpaceX website) to backwards calculate the speed the FH lofted the 2nd stage to in fully expendable mode. That gave me one point of sanity check for my model of FH operation.  This doesn't really give me any without knowing the numbers they used.
The values given by the orbit query is based on no margins (including no legs). No margins means no engine out either. The 1350 LEO and GTO values for v1.1 given by SpaceX included engine out margins + maybe a little more as well as attached legs and other recovery hardware margins. The two values gives the percentages or delta V/energy values for the stage deltas for no margins vs ASDS recovery for the v1.1. Now for FT we do not have any values.

Plus I do not think the numbers in the NASA query model will give you any answers since they are most likely a polynomial algorithm that given certain inputs returns an output. They may have no relationship to masses of stages or engine thrusts ISPs or anything else just a complex curve equation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lar on 02/05/2016 05:09 PM
Removed some squabbling about where stuff was or will be posted. Please assume good faith, and remember, be excellent to each other.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/05/2016 05:30 PM
Yes, you must actually calculate performance to a reference orbit of your choosing. That's better than Wikipedia (obviously), SpaceX (doesn't provide full orbit parameters and reserves some undefined amount of performance for reuse, according to Shotwell), and spaceflight101 (which isn't a primary source).

And because it gives you performance numbers to many different orbits, you can use it to calibrate your model much better than just giving a couple reference orbits (especially when it's "GTO" without specifying 1500 or 1800m/s-to-go)

But it does not give me the information I need to calculate anything. How can I use the calculation on this page to check my model of calculations if I don't know the masses they are assuming? Is the reference model in their calculations one with legs?

Back when the first TMI numbers went up on the SpaceX website I could use that with the data on SII engine performance and SII masses (wikipedia, spaceflight 101 and also the SpaceX website) to backwards calculate the speed the FH lofted the 2nd stage to in fully expendable mode. That gave me one point of sanity check for my model of FH operation.  This doesn't really give me any without knowing the numbers they used.
The values given by the orbit query is based on no margins (including no legs). No margins means no engine out either. The 1350 LEO and GTO values for v1.1 given by SpaceX included engine out margins + maybe a little more as well as attached legs and other recovery hardware margins. The two values gives the percentages or delta V/energy values for the stage deltas for no margins vs ASDS recovery for the v1.1. Now for FT we do not have any values.

Plus I do not think the numbers in the NASA query model will give you any answers since they are most likely a polynomial algorithm that given certain inputs returns an output. They may have no relationship to masses of stages or engine thrusts ISPs or anything else just a complex curve equation.
Or sure, but you can use it to back out realistic values for all those things and to test your model. If you know lift-off mass, Isp, thrust, and payload to multiple orbits, you could actually back out dry masses, especially for a simple vehicle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/05/2016 05:48 PM
Yes, you must actually calculate performance to a reference orbit of your choosing. That's better than Wikipedia (obviously), SpaceX (doesn't provide full orbit parameters and reserves some undefined amount of performance for reuse, according to Shotwell), and spaceflight101 (which isn't a primary source).

And because it gives you performance numbers to many different orbits, you can use it to calibrate your model much better than just giving a couple reference orbits (especially when it's "GTO" without specifying 1500 or 1800m/s-to-go)

But it does not give me the information I need to calculate anything. How can I use the calculation on this page to check my model of calculations if I don't know the masses they are assuming? Is the reference model in their calculations one with legs?

Back when the first TMI numbers went up on the SpaceX website I could use that with the data on SII engine performance and SII masses (wikipedia, spaceflight 101 and also the SpaceX website) to backwards calculate the speed the FH lofted the 2nd stage to in fully expendable mode. That gave me one point of sanity check for my model of FH operation.  This doesn't really give me any without knowing the numbers they used.
The values given by the orbit query is based on no margins (including no legs). No margins means no engine out either. The 1350 LEO and GTO values for v1.1 given by SpaceX included engine out margins + maybe a little more as well as attached legs and other recovery hardware margins. The two values gives the percentages or delta V/energy values for the stage deltas for no margins vs ASDS recovery for the v1.1. Now for FT we do not have any values.

Plus I do not think the numbers in the NASA query model will give you any answers since they are most likely a polynomial algorithm that given certain inputs returns an output. They may have no relationship to masses of stages or engine thrusts ISPs or anything else just a complex curve equation.
Or sure, but you can use it to back out realistic values for all those things and to test your model. If you know lift-off mass, Isp, thrust, and payload to multiple orbits, you could actually back out dry masses, especially for a simple vehicle.
Algebra gives us that given two solutions with two equations you can solve for 1 unknown. With three solutions you can solve for 2 unknowns ... Pick orbits that give you solvable for unknowns equations and you can back out all the data to the same level of accuracy that the solutions are given (looks to be 3 significant digits, maybe 4). You can do the back out analysis with a simple Basic program that iterates the unknown values until it matches up with the given solutions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: fthomassy on 02/05/2016 06:18 PM
Algebra gives us that given two solutions with two equations you can solve for 1 unknown. With three solutions you can solve for 2 unknowns ... Pick orbits that give you solvable for unknowns equations and you can back out all the data to the same level of accuracy that the solutions are given (looks to be 3 significant digits, maybe 4). You can do the back out analysis with a simple Basic program that iterates the unknown values until it matches up with the given solutions.
One unknown can be solved per simultaneous equation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/05/2016 06:34 PM
Algebra gives us that given two solutions with two equations you can solve for 1 unknown. With three solutions you can solve for 2 unknowns ... Pick orbits that give you solvable for unknowns equations and you can back out all the data to the same level of accuracy that the solutions are given (looks to be 3 significant digits, maybe 4). You can do the back out analysis with a simple Basic program that iterates the unknown values until it matches up with the given solutions.
One unknown can be solved per simultaneous equation.
Thank you, I got carried away with the plethora of unknowns.

Having the extra equation/answer helps in unknown value solution validation. I do the hunt for unknowns a lot of times by the iterative process by hand using a spreadsheet. Mainly where looking for payload sizes in a two part (destinations with different payloads same vehicle) problems such as landing on the Moon and then returning.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: fthomassy on 02/05/2016 06:41 PM
One unknown can be solved per simultaneous equation.
Thank you, I got carried away with the plethora of unknowns.

Having the extra equation/answer helps in unknown value solution validation. [snip]
Agreed, more data is more better :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomTX on 02/07/2016 08:44 PM
One thing to keep in mind with all this discussion of larger payload fairings is road transport.  I doubt anything over the current size is going to be able to fit on the road in halves.  Will quarter slices get you back to small enough?  That adds more complexity.  Of course, there has been no mention of any actual payloads out there requiring larger than what is available now so much of this discussion is just burning pixels for fun.

5.2 meter diameter is road transportable within Texas. All you have to do is use the automated routing software on the State website and pay the appropriate oversize/overweight fee, use required pilot cars and such. You don't even need a human review/signoff of your routing.

It's not trivial, but big stuff for oil refineries, wind towers, et cetera gets moved on the road with some frequency.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Geron on 02/09/2016 07:11 AM
Does anyone know the name of the music that plays at the end of the commercial space dev conference?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/10/2016 01:44 AM
Someone on another thread calculated to get a high ISP on a Raptor upper stage engine the diameter of the nozzle would be 4.8m.  Therefore it makes sense to have a 5.2m or slightly larger upper stage so the upper stage engine can be protected during launch by the interstage collar as well as a nice transition to the fairing. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Donosauro on 02/10/2016 03:12 PM
Also, where the heck would you TEST such a huge fairing? As it is, 5m fairings barely fit at Plum Brook, which has the largest vacuum chamber in the world.

Isn't the vacuum chamber 100' in diameter and taller than that? The acoustic facility is smaller...

Yep, 100 feet in diameter, 122 feet high. But the loading doors are only 15.2 m (50 ft) square.

http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/Facilities/ext/spf/index.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/10/2016 05:09 PM
Also, you have to actually test separation dynamics, and then you have to carefully slow down the fairing so it doesn't bang into your expensive thermal vacuum chamber.

Look at the tests they do with 5m fairings. There's not exactly a ton of extra room.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sewebster on 02/10/2016 06:28 PM
Also, you have to actually test separation dynamics, and then you have to carefully slow down the fairing so it doesn't bang into your expensive thermal vacuum chamber.

Look at the tests they do with 5m fairings. There's not exactly a ton of extra room.

Cool, thanks for the clarification. Here is a video link for those who hadn't seen it (like me): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtI1V624vWM
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Ronsmytheiii on 02/11/2016 12:15 AM
Also, you have to actually test separation dynamics, and then you have to carefully slow down the fairing so it doesn't bang into your expensive thermal vacuum chamber.

Look at the tests they do with 5m fairings. There's not exactly a ton of extra room.

They have done bigger shrouds in the past (Skylab shroud seen in Plum Brook below)

http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001462.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/11/2016 12:25 AM
Also, you have to actually test separation dynamics, and then you have to carefully slow down the fairing so it doesn't bang into your expensive thermal vacuum chamber.

Look at the tests they do with 5m fairings. There's not exactly a ton of extra room.

They have done bigger shrouds in the past (Skylab shroud seen in Plum Brook below)

http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001462.html
Indeed.
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19720022228.pdf
But notice that didn't cover the whole of Skylab, only a portion of it (the top part). Also, they had to assemble the fairing you see in that picture in two chunks, a top and a bottom. That'd be impractical for the huge composite fairings you see in SLS diagrams.

...additionally, that was significantly narrower at 6.6m in diameter vs the 8+m you see quoted for the SLS fairing (let alone the 10 and 12m fairings, the last one being almost twice as wide!), as well as shorter than the typical notional fairings (even though it still needed to be assembled out of two pieces!).


...it is possible to shoehorn it in there, but it is by no means terribly practical and would likely add weight to the fairing due to the need to assemble it inside the chamber.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: vapour_nudge on 02/11/2016 01:46 PM
Looks like they've lost the Viasat-2 launch due to the FH delays  It has been redirected to Arianespace
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 02/11/2016 01:51 PM
Looks like they've lost the Viasat-2 launch due to the FH delays  It has been redirected to Arianespace

Was to be expected - it's probably not going to be the last FH payload they lose.

Whilst I appreciate payload providers supporting rockets that have not yet launched and putting their money where their mouth is whilst doing so, It's not as sane a choice as putting your super-expensive future-insurance of a satellite on a rocket that has a concrete launch history.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/11/2016 02:03 PM
Yeah it is, otherwise they'd be stuck with high prices forever. Without a rational willingness to try new rockets on the part of the customers, the price will never come down. It's perfectly sane to book early on a new rocket an then change if the rocket is delayed more than you are willing to tolerate. Both actions are perfectly sane and rational.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Nilof on 02/11/2016 05:12 PM
What about building a fairing test rig on a reused first stage, and trying out the new fairing on a suborbital flight?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 02/11/2016 05:30 PM
What about building a fairing test rig on a reused first stage, and trying out the new fairing on a suborbital flight?

Only if the test can replicate the same conditions as the regular flight
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 02/11/2016 05:34 PM
What about building a fairing test rig on a reused first stage, and trying out the new fairing on a suborbital flight?

Only if the test can replicate the same conditions as the regular flight
In addition, you would also need to expend a brand-new second stage.  We're starting to talk about a very expensive test by this point.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Nilof on 02/11/2016 06:34 PM
In addition, you would also need to expend a brand-new second stage.  We're starting to talk about a very expensive test by this point.

I was thinking of suborbital flight with just the first stage and a structural prototype on top. No second stage, everything fully reusable.

What about building a fairing test rig on a reused first stage, and trying out the new fairing on a suborbital flight?

Only if the test can replicate the same conditions as the regular flight

That is likely the main issue. To be comparable to a thermovac chamber, the stage would have to provide a similar altitude profile to the actual launch. I don't know exactly how much delta-v would be necessary for that and if it's feasible for a reusable stage. Acceleration doesn't necessarily need to be simulated too closely though, since vacuum chambers don't simulate that at all.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 02/11/2016 06:48 PM

That is likely the main issue. To be comparable to a thermovac chamber, the stage would have to provide a similar altitude profile to the actual launch. I don't know exactly how much delta-v would be necessary for that and if it's feasible for a reusable stage. Acceleration doesn't necessarily need to be simulated too closely though, since vacuum chambers don't simulate that at all.

Yes, vacuum chambers do sim gravity.  They will put springs on the fairing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: PahTo on 02/11/2016 06:54 PM

That is likely the main issue. To be comparable to a thermovac chamber, the stage would have to provide a similar altitude profile to the actual launch. I don't know exactly how much delta-v would be necessary for that and if it's feasible for a reusable stage. Acceleration doesn't necessarily need to be simulated too closely though, since vacuum chambers don't simulate that at all.

Yes, vacuum chambers do sim gravity.  They will put springs on the fairing.

Good stuff--thanks Jim.  Do the springs dynamically actuate to provide more and less load to mimic the loads experienced during an ascent profile, or just go with max expected at any point?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 02/11/2016 06:56 PM

Good stuff--thanks Jim.  Do the springs dynamically actuate to provide more and less load to mimic the loads experienced during an ascent profile, or just go with max expected at any point?

Just during the separation event.  Also, I meant they simulate acceleration and not gravity
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/11/2016 09:50 PM
Yeah it is, otherwise they'd be stuck with high prices forever. Without a rational willingness to try new rockets on the part of the customers, the price will never come down. It's perfectly sane to book early on a new rocket an then change if the rocket is delayed more than you are willing to tolerate. Both actions are perfectly sane and rational.

Delays cost money.

Quote from: Peter B. de Selding
ViaSat's Dankberg: ViaSat-2 should generate $40-$50M rev per month - 10x that of a conventional sat, so launch schedule is crucial for us. - source (https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/697324482483060738)

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 02/11/2016 10:39 PM

That is likely the main issue. To be comparable to a thermovac chamber, the stage would have to provide a similar altitude profile to the actual launch. I don't know exactly how much delta-v would be necessary for that and if it's feasible for a reusable stage. Acceleration doesn't necessarily need to be simulated too closely though, since vacuum chambers don't simulate that at all.

Yes, vacuum chambers do sim gravity.  They will put springs on the fairing.

For reference - Here is a video of a SpaceX fairing test:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtI1V624vWM
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/11/2016 11:43 PM
Yeah it is, otherwise they'd be stuck with high prices forever. Without a rational willingness to try new rockets on the part of the customers, the price will never come down. It's perfectly sane to book early on a new rocket an then change if the rocket is delayed more than you are willing to tolerate. Both actions are perfectly sane and rational.

Delays cost money.

Quote from: Peter B. de Selding
ViaSat's Dankberg: ViaSat-2 should generate $40-$50M rev per month - 10x that of a conventional sat, so launch schedule is crucial for us. - source (https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/697324482483060738)
...which is exactly why I said that BOTH actions (including the decision to switch to a non-delayed rocket) are rational.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: UberNobody on 02/12/2016 01:43 AM
I'm getting anxious now.  Gwynne Shotwell said we'd get a performance update on Falcon Heavy early this week...  It's hard to be patient!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: bstrong on 02/12/2016 01:49 AM
I'm getting anxious now.  Gwynne Shotwell said we'd get a performance update on Falcon Heavy early this week...  It's hard to be patient!

I'm assuming Shotwell's plans for the week went out the window with the CRS-8 incident at McGregor. I wouldn't count on hearing anything about Falcon Heavy until that is resolved.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/12/2016 02:22 AM
I'm getting anxious now.  Gwynne Shotwell said we'd get a performance update on Falcon Heavy early this week...  It's hard to be patient!

I'm assuming Shotwell's plans for the week went out the window with the CRS-8 incident at McGregor. I wouldn't count on hearing anything about Falcon Heavy until that is resolved.
Way overblown. Not a long-term problem at all, just a (possible) delay on this flight.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 02/12/2016 02:37 AM
I'd be surprised if the entire company organically reassess timelines for minor problems. There shouldn't be a correlation between this and FH performance figures - since Shotwell already has the figures, there's nothing to be delayed. She'll release the info at her discretion - I'd say her personal workload would be more impactful.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 02/12/2016 03:46 AM
I'd be surprised if the entire company organically reassess timelines for minor problems. There shouldn't be a correlation between this and FH performance figures - since Shotwell already has the figures, there's nothing to be delayed. She'll release the info at her discretion - I'd say her personal workload would be more impactful.


This short-term delay could certainly have a short-term effect on her workload.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: bstrong on 02/12/2016 01:16 PM
For the record, I wasn't trying to imply we won't hear anything for 6 months. Just, you know, probably not this week and maybe not even next. So I wouldn't sit there hitting refresh all day on Friday waiting for the update.

In every high-performance company I've ever worked at (and notably not at some others), if you have an unexpected problem come up on the critical path of an important project, you can expect managers all the way up to the top to hound-dog it until it is resolved, just to make sure that no one forgets for a second just how important it is to resolve quickly. And in this case, at least one high-maintenance customer will need to be kept in the loop and coordinated with, and even the ones who probably won't be impacted will be calling for updates.

On top of that, Shotwell just got up on stage last week and told the world that SpaceX was about to move to a three week launch cadence. The way you get there is by having a process in place to thoroughly investigate the root cause of every delay and make corrections to ensure similar ones don't happen again. There are probably people working on eliminating delays on the order of hours or minutes, so if something pops up that sets you back by a couple of weeks, that's a really big deal that requires lots of management attention.

To put a number on it, a two week delay in an every-three-weeks launch schedule at $60M per launch (an underestimate) costs $40M in revenue this year plus the potential of lost sales due to perceived issues with launching on time. Even if this particular issue is a one-off fluke, there was a process problem that let it happen, and it needs to be addressed. You also start thinking about whether you need to ramp production sooner than planned so that you can maintain a larger buffer of cores so that even if one hits a snag, it doesn't affect your launch schedule next time.

Now, I don't see this particular issue as being significant in the long-term at SpaceX either, but I guarantee you that even a short-term problem is a big deal at SpaceX right now. Heads are rolling. Shotwell is most definitely busy. Falcon Heavy updates will wait.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: philw1776 on 02/12/2016 04:30 PM
I'm getting anxious now.  Gwynne Shotwell said we'd get a performance update on Falcon Heavy early this week...  It's hard to be patient!

The really bad news is that the premature ejaculation of schedule virus that affects Elon's brain may have spread to Gwynne.   :o

Now maybe she's making premature announcements of future announcements that slip schedule too.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 02/16/2016 02:50 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Doesitfloat on 02/16/2016 03:20 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/16/2016 03:22 PM
It was a mission trade,

http://spacenews.com/viasat-details-1-4-billion-global-ka-band-satellite-broadband-strategy-to-oust-incumbent-players/#sthash.u5Y3Y1on.dpuf

Quote
>
ViaSat is maintaining its Falcon Heavy launch contract, which will now be used to launch one of the ViaSat-3 satellites around 2020, and has booked a reservation for a future Falcon Heavy, also for ViaSat-3, which is not yet a contract.
>
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 02/16/2016 03:39 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/ (http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/)

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)

Any satellite that was planned to fly with SpaceX but instead ends up flying with the competition is a mission lost to SpaceX. Regardless of any shuffling, retaining of contracts, etc. etc.

And then there is this:
Quote from: Peter B. de Selding
Ariane 5 is generally more expensive than SpaceX’s Falcon, but Baldridge said Evry, France-based Arianespace met the company partway to secure the business.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: gongora on 02/16/2016 03:43 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)

Are you assuming SpaceX wouldn't have won a contract for either of the ViaSat3 payloads after a successful ViaSat2 launch?  That's the only way you can say they didn't lose a mission.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 02/16/2016 04:15 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)

Are you assuming SpaceX wouldn't have won a contract for either of the ViaSat3 payloads after a successful ViaSat2 launch?  That's the only way you can say they didn't lose a mission.
They would have won both.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 02/16/2016 04:53 PM
We already had a long discussion of this in the launch manifest thread.  Can we move this there?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/16/2016 09:37 PM
That's one way of looking at it. The other way is that for a satellite that generates $50M/month in profit, they never had any intention of flying on the cheaper rocket. i.e., they were just trying to get a better price from Arianespace.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 02/17/2016 10:07 PM
That's one way of looking at it. The other way is that for a satellite that generates $50M/month in profit, they never had any intention of flying on the cheaper rocket. i.e., they were just trying to get a better price from Arianespace.


If the heavy has flown even once maybe it wouldn't have moved.  But technically it's still a paper rocket that has yet to see the light of day.

Customers likely have much more detailed information and they made a business decision.

The long grinding road to FH first flight needs to come to an end soon or they will have more customer losses.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/17/2016 10:47 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 02/17/2016 10:56 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/17/2016 10:59 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?

A Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9 1st stage cores and one Falcon 9 2nd stage and fairing.  Except for the attachment hardware and Falcon Heavy specific software, everything else for a Falcon Heavy has already been flight tested.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 02/17/2016 11:02 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?

A Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9 1st stage cores and one Falcon 9 2nd stage and fairing.  Except for the attachment hardware and Falcon Heavy specific software, everything else for a Falcon Heavy has already been flight tested.

So Atlas 5 Heavy isn't a paper rocket either then? And the Angara 7?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 02/17/2016 11:26 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?
Yes, it was on display during the Orbcomm 2 broadcast.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/17/2016 11:30 PM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?

A Falcon Heavy is made up of three Falcon 9 1st stage cores and one Falcon 9 2nd stage and fairing.  Except for the attachment hardware and Falcon Heavy specific software, everything else for a Falcon Heavy has already been flight tested.

So Atlas 5 Heavy isn't a paper rocket either then? And the Angara 7?
I fully believe they could fly Atlas V Heavy in the timeframe they say they can, if needed and someone pays for it.

...though in this case I mean I'm sure that metal has already been bent for the first Falcon Heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/17/2016 11:38 PM
So what do you call a rocket that has been delayed for years and years before getting off the pad for the first time? Seems like that'd be a useful word to describe a lot of rockets.

My suggestion: a DNF (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Nukem_Forever) rocket.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/17/2016 11:41 PM
So what do you call a rocket that has been delayed for years and years before getting off the pad for the first time? Seems like that'd be a useful word to describe a lot of rockets.
Well /technically/ it's not a paper rocket. I mean, if we're going to throw around words like "technically." Delayed rocket. Forever never rocket. Elon's trinicorn. Musk's Mist.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 02/18/2016 12:01 AM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?
Yes, it was on display during the Orbcomm 2 broadcast.

I just rewatched it and I'm not sure I saw it this time either. Do you have a time before launch it was shown at?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/18/2016 12:26 AM
So Atlas 5 Heavy isn't a paper rocket either then? And the Angara 7?

Using the same definition, no Atlas V Heavy would not be a "paper rocket".  The Angara family is in development, and has done test flights, so no it would not be a "paper rocket" either.

To me, and this is just my definition, a paper rocket would be one that is made of components that have not flown in the intended configuration.  Falcon Heavy, Atlas V Heavy, and Angara 7 all use substantially the same flight hardware as what their single core versions use.

The SpaceX BFR would be a paper rocket, as it's supposedly not using any Falcon family hardware, nor any other flight proven hardware.

The SLS?  Well there are many arguments that can (and have) been made about it...   ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/18/2016 12:32 AM
Great, terminology aside, the fact remains that you should treat all rockets that haven't flown with some scepticism.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/18/2016 12:44 AM
The loss of this payload for FH is interesting in a very bad way for SpaceX.   Any bets regarding them further delaying the first launch after this announcement?  This was one of two payloads that fit well to FH's stated capability.  It would have been a revenue generator, and not a loss generator like the first two flights, which are basically a FH test program with low value payloads.

1.  If there are further delays, look for additional customer cancellations or pushing out contracts.
2.  Furthermore, if you can't gain new contracts, conditional contracts, or letters of intent, it pretty much suggests  SpaceX is just being used as a wedge to drive down Ariane 5 pricing.   That may be good strategy in it's own right, but it fails to move any revenue into SpaceX's coffers, and that lost revenue is what matters most.

My guess is if FH first launch slips again, look for SpaceX to cancel the vehicle in late 2016.


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 02/18/2016 02:44 AM
My guess is that there's a little unnecessary drama going on in this thread.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 02/18/2016 04:15 AM


My guess is if FH first launch slips again, look for SpaceX to cancel the vehicle in late 2016.

I will gladly take that bet: that FH will slip again (when do you think the first flight is currently scheduled for?) and that it will *not* be cancelled, whether in late 2016 or anytime else before it flies.

But then, I've got tickets to the second FH launch, so I'm biased. ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 02/18/2016 04:32 AM
"Technically" it's not a paper rocket if metal has been bent.

Have we seen any bent metal yet for the heavy?
Yes, it was on display during the Orbcomm 2 broadcast.

I just rewatched it and I'm not sure I saw it this time either. Do you have a time before launch it was shown at?
(Blurry) screenshot here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38149.msg1465044.msg#1465044

It was during the factory tour, and if I recall correctly it was a FH octoweb.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH on 02/18/2016 08:34 AM
My guess is that there's a little unnecessary drama going on in this thread.

Indeed. Rockets get delayed all the time. Because they are complicated devices that need to be well engineered, and that takes time.

So SpaceX lost a launch. It's a shame. It's also not the end of SpaceX. Or the F9H.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/18/2016 08:43 AM
While I'm sure there's been technical issues with the Falcon Heavy, that's not what has delayed it. They're waiting for the politics with the military launches to become predictable. Why? Because that's what Falcon Heavy is for.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 02/18/2016 10:04 AM
While I'm sure there's been technical issues with the Falcon Heavy, that's not what has delayed it. They're waiting for the politics with the military launches to become predictable. Why? Because that's what Falcon Heavy is for.

This. But IMO they wanted a consolidated type of core they will produce in larger numbers for a longer time without major changes. The present version will be that core I am confident. Had they built a 1.1 heavy they would now need to make major changes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 02/18/2016 10:22 AM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)

Are you assuming SpaceX wouldn't have won a contract for either of the ViaSat3 payloads after a successful ViaSat2 launch?  That's the only way you can say they didn't lose a mission.
They would have won both.
I suggest you refrain from presenting personal opinion as fact.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: FinalFrontier on 02/18/2016 11:16 AM
Seems to me the issue is the iterative design process that SpaceX is so fond of, and even relies on at this point.

It is a double edged sword. On the one hand it is very easy for engineers to re-design, and constantly upgrade and optimize components and the entire vehicle and then go out onto the production floor and make the changes in real time. This is a big part of why SpaceX has been so successful to this point.

On the other hand, if your upcoming MLV/HLV relies on three first stages that are based around the design of another vehicle, and you continuously change the design of that vehicle, this in turn means you must continuously change, delay, re-model, re-test, so forth, the vehicle that is dependent on those cores. I think this is the crux of the problem. Falcon 9 has been changed so many times in the last 6 years it's not hard to see why Falcon Heavy has constantly been delayed year after year. I think the other problem is over-optimization. SpaceX seems to not want to fly Falcon Heavy until they have the "best possible optimized" version of Falcon 9 they can get. This is a paradox because you can never perfectly optimize, and you will end up constantly changing things and delaying yourself if you try to over optimize. Which in turn delays Falcon Heavy by at least an exponent every single time because "no wait, we need to optimize F9 more first wait another 6 months", ect.

There don't seem to be any great technical challenges, nor have there been, to building and flying Falcon Heavy as a vehicle, it would rely on concepts that have already been proven. The only issue seems to be over optimization and constantly trading getting the vehicle online for this.

My two cents here.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 02/18/2016 11:24 AM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

Didn't cost Spacex a mission. ViaSat is using the Falcon Heavy for the ViaSat-3 platform in 2019.
source:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/viasat-announces-third-quarter-fiscal-year-2016-results-300217686.html)

Are you assuming SpaceX wouldn't have won a contract for either of the ViaSat3 payloads after a successful ViaSat2 launch?  That's the only way you can say they didn't lose a mission.
They would have won both.
I suggest you refrain from presenting personal opinion as fact.
Point taken.
Though I was trying to suggest a possible answer to gongora's question, not my personal opinion.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 02/18/2016 12:12 PM
Seems to me the issue is the iterative design process that SpaceX is so fond of, and even relies on at this point.

It is a double edged sword. On the one hand it is very easy for engineers to re-design, and constantly upgrade and optimize components and the entire vehicle and then go out onto the production floor and make the changes in real time. This is a big part of why SpaceX has been so successful to this point.

There don't seem to be any great technical challenges, nor have there been, to building and flying Falcon Heavy as a vehicle, it would rely on concepts that have already been proven. The only issue seems to be over optimization and constantly trading getting the vehicle online for this.

My two cents here.

SaceX could have launched a heavy long ago. I suspect Musk is extremely reluctant to fly one before he is nearly certain he won't be throwing away three cores.

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jcc on 02/18/2016 12:38 PM
Wanting to be able to recover cores is a big thing, but also the fact that FH will have a low lanch rate means after the first test,  they might launch one or two paid missions before a major revision to the core happens again, perhaps requiring they do a deeply discounted launch for a customer willing to take a risk.

At this point they have a few FH launches manifested, and also they are unlikely to make a major revision to the F9 core for the next few years.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH on 02/18/2016 12:57 PM
Seems to me the issue is the iterative design process that SpaceX is so fond of, and even relies on at this point.

It is a double edged sword. On the one hand it is very easy for engineers to re-design, and constantly upgrade and optimize components and the entire vehicle and then go out onto the production floor and make the changes in real time. This is a big part of why SpaceX has been so successful to this point.

On the other hand, if your upcoming MLV/HLV relies on three first stages that are based around the design of another vehicle, and you continuously change the design of that vehicle, this in turn means you must continuously change, delay, re-model, re-test, so forth, the vehicle that is dependent on those cores. I think this is the crux of the problem. Falcon 9 has been changed so many times in the last 6 years it's not hard to see why Falcon Heavy has constantly been delayed year after year. I think the other problem is over-optimization. SpaceX seems to not want to fly Falcon Heavy until they have the "best possible optimized" version of Falcon 9 they can get. This is a paradox because you can never perfectly optimize, and you will end up constantly changing things and delaying yourself if you try to over optimize. Which in turn delays Falcon Heavy by at least an exponent every single time because "no wait, we need to optimize F9 more first wait another 6 months", ect.

There don't seem to be any great technical challenges, nor have there been, to building and flying Falcon Heavy as a vehicle, it would rely on concepts that have already been proven. The only issue seems to be over optimization and constantly trading getting the vehicle online for this.

My two cents here.

Whilst the iterative approach does have disadvantages, I don't think they come in to play here. I suspect that had SpaceX gone for a different design approach, the F9H would be even further away than it is now, and would probably be a 5 year old design with no reusability, and small(er) payload.

As it is, it will be a modern design with some good proportion of reusability and a very impressive payload performance.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: fvandrog on 02/18/2016 01:08 PM
The loss of this payload for FH is interesting in a very bad way for SpaceX.   

I'd actually argue that in the long term it is much worse for Ariane Space -- they risk becoming compliant instead of pushing the development of their new launcher.

And whatever one can criticize about SpaceX, compliancy isn't the problem for them.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 02/18/2016 01:19 PM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc).  I don't know why that's so hard for folks to understand.  Prioritizing the money-generating business is how SpaceX sticks around, and is sound management process.

The alternative would be to blow a huge amount of money and manufacturing resources on a dedicated FH team... and then where do you put your best engineers?  On FH, neglecting F9? Or on F9, jeopardizing FH?  SpaceX believes it already has hired the best folks, and it has asked them to work on FH as a second-tier project behind F9.

That seems entirely straight-forward and reasonable to me.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 02/18/2016 01:34 PM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc).  I don't know why that's so hard for folks to understand.  Prioritizing the money-generating business is how SpaceX sticks around, and is sound management process.

The alternative would be to blow a huge amount of money and manufacturing resources on a dedicated FH team... and then where do you put your best engineers?  On FH, neglecting F9? Or on F9, jeopardizing FH?  SpaceX believes it already has hired the best folks, and it has asked them to work on FH as a second-tier project behind F9.

That seems entirely straight-foreward and reasonable to me.
Indeed it is. Too bad that some folks keep referring to the "2013" date originally issued by Elon. The time-dilutation factor on major SpaceX programs has consistenly been 4 years for the past decade. So, FH will eventually fly, and that first flight will be next year.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GWH on 02/18/2016 01:50 PM
Falcon heavy isn't particularly competitive with ariane 5 for single 7 tonne payloads unless it uses dual manifest OR reuse.
Without reuse it's an over capable rocket.

Makes sense for them to have waited.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: roparker on 02/18/2016 02:35 PM
The loss of this payload for FH is interesting in a very bad way for SpaceX.   

I'd actually argue that in the long term it is much worse for Ariane Space -- they risk becoming compliant instead of pushing the development of their new launcher.

And whatever one can criticize about SpaceX, compliancy isn't the problem for them.

I assume you meant complacent and complacency not compliant and compliancy.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/18/2016 04:14 PM
The FH will take up 2 months of core manufacturing capability and testing. At the moment they seem to be barley ahead of F9 launch schedule. SpaceX took a big hit to their core manufacturing schedules when they had to go back and modify existing almost finished and finished FT cores. Once the almost finished cores have been modified and the design changes become the normal production instead of a retrofit, the production rates should improve significantly.

By evidence of the FH moving to Aug-Sep that clearing of retrofitted cores will occur this spring with production ramping up enough to be able meet the F9 launch schedule as well as being able to build three extra cores to do the first FH launch.

On another note the FH is a Supper Heavy by way of NASA classification since it is capable of >50mt to LEO. But it will mainly operate as only a Heavy 20mt> FH <50mt. By the same the F9 is actually capable of >20mt (with no margins and fully expendable) so it is a HLV as well but will operate as only a Medium.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/18/2016 04:41 PM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc).  I don't know why that's so hard for folks to understand.  Prioritizing the money-generating business is how SpaceX sticks around, and is sound management process.

The alternative would be to blow a huge amount of money and manufacturing resources on a dedicated FH team... and then where do you put your best engineers?  On FH, neglecting F9? Or on F9, jeopardizing FH?  SpaceX believes it already has hired the best folks, and it has asked them to work on FH as a second-tier project behind F9.

That seems entirely straight-foreward and reasonable to me.

Is it a valid corallary then that low priority projects would potentially be cancellled as other more interesting & profitable pieces of business come along?   CRS-2 , Dragonfly,upper stage raptor, etc.?   I think SpaceX will analyze and act on these motives like any other company.   
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: baldusi on 02/18/2016 05:27 PM
Falcon heavy isn't particularly competitive with ariane 5 for single 7 tonne payloads unless it uses dual manifest OR reuse.
Without reuse it's an over capable rocket.

Makes sense for them to have waited.
Well, the Euro-USD has sort of made Ariane 5 a lot more competitive. If I'm not mistaken, a whole Ariane 5 costs about USD 200M. But the lower berth uses only 35% of the payload mass. And it has to compete with Falcon 9 (and technically Sea Launch, Proton-M, Atlas V, H-IIA). So they can't really charge more than 65M to 70M. That means that the top berth should be around 130M to 135M. I would say that SpaceX can price the FH quite lower than that. And they have to until they prove FH reliability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 02/18/2016 07:19 PM
I'm getting anxious now.  Gwynne Shotwell said we'd get a performance update on Falcon Heavy early this week...  It's hard to be patient!

If you were anxious a week ago I'm curious. How are you feeling about it now, 7 days later?

;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: FinalFrontier on 02/18/2016 08:40 PM
Seems to me the issue is the iterative design process that SpaceX is so fond of, and even relies on at this point.

It is a double edged sword. On the one hand it is very easy for engineers to re-design, and constantly upgrade and optimize components and the entire vehicle and then go out onto the production floor and make the changes in real time. This is a big part of why SpaceX has been so successful to this point.

There don't seem to be any great technical challenges, nor have there been, to building and flying Falcon Heavy as a vehicle, it would rely on concepts that have already been proven. The only issue seems to be over optimization and constantly trading getting the vehicle online for this.

My two cents here.

SaceX could have launched a heavy long ago. I suspect Musk is extremely reluctant to fly one before he is nearly certain he won't be throwing away three cores.

Matthew
While I disagree they could have done it "long ago" (I don't think they had adequate amounts of flight proven hardware  earlier), I do agree that he may be risk averse as far as wasting the cores. Landing all three would be very difficult, and that's if the vehicle stages properly and actually works.

But sooner or later you have to fly the rocket and see if it works or not.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: FinalFrontier on 02/18/2016 09:00 PM
Falcon heavy isn't particularly competitive with ariane 5 for single 7 tonne payloads unless it uses dual manifest OR reuse.
Without reuse it's an over capable rocket.

Makes sense for them to have waited.
Or without BEO payloads.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/18/2016 09:17 PM
I sometimes think they are waiting on routine successful landings of F9, then either use used cores on the FH to begin with or have the ability to land all three cores.  They only have one landing pad at the cape.  Would they need at least one more plus the ocean landing?  Are they going to put a used core in the center and scrap it and save the two outer ones on the first few launches? 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/18/2016 10:03 PM
I sometimes think they are waiting on routine successful landings of F9, then either use used cores on the FH to begin with or have the ability to land all three cores.  They only have one landing pad at the cape.  Would they need at least one more plus the ocean landing?  Are they going to put a used core in the center and scrap it and save the two outer ones on the first few launches?

There is one landing area. I believe, however, it has five separate landing pads on it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RocketGoBoom on 02/18/2016 10:17 PM
I sometimes think they are waiting on routine successful landings of F9, then either use used cores on the FH to begin with or have the ability to land all three cores.  They only have one landing pad at the cape.  Would they need at least one more plus the ocean landing?  Are they going to put a used core in the center and scrap it and save the two outer ones on the first few launches?

There is one landing area. I believe, however, it has five separate landing pads on it.

If the two side cores were landing at the same time, or within seconds of each other, could that possibly cause an issue if these landing areas are in close proximity to each other? How far apart do these things need to be for safe clearance zone of the wake that each produces?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: MrHollifield on 02/18/2016 10:42 PM
Are they going to put a used core in the center and scrap it and save the two outer ones on the first few launches? 
AIUI, the center core is not a standard F9-S1 because it has the extra attachments for the side boosters and a stronger S2 attachment, so they would not be able to have a used S1 as the center core. They may be waiting to have 2 flown side boosters so they don't have to fly new S1s on the test flight.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jcc on 02/18/2016 10:43 PM
I sometimes think they are waiting on routine successful landings of F9, then either use used cores on the FH to begin with or have the ability to land all three cores.  They only have one landing pad at the cape.  Would they need at least one more plus the ocean landing?  Are they going to put a used core in the center and scrap it and save the two outer ones on the first few launches?

There is one landing area. I believe, however, it has five separate landing pads on it.

If the two side cores were landing at the same time, or within seconds of each other, could that possibly cause an issue if these landing areas are in close proximity to each other? How far apart do these things need to be for safe clearance zone of the wake that each produces?

Given the high landing precision they have shown, they could probably land 50m away from each other without a problem. The greater concern might be mid-air collision, so they need to guarantee that the trajectories to the pad don't cross.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rpapo on 02/18/2016 10:46 PM
Given the high landing precision they have shown, they could probably land 50m away from each other without a problem. The greater concern might be mid-air collision, so they need to guarantee that the trajectories to the pad don't cross.
I would think it best to aim each booster so that the atmospheric entry interfaces are a mile or two apart, and then use the grid fins to converge on the precise landing spots.  By making sure that the northern booster reenters on the north, and the southern on the south, you should be able to avoid collisions.

Upper level winds may complicate matters, though.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 02/18/2016 11:43 PM
The loss of this payload for FH is interesting in a very bad way for SpaceX.   

I'd actually argue that in the long term it is much worse for Ariane Space -- they risk becoming compliant instead of pushing the development of their new launcher.

And whatever one can criticize about SpaceX, compliancy isn't the problem for them.

I assume you meant complacent and complacency not compliant and compliancy.


That would definitely reduce my confusion!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 02/18/2016 11:48 PM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc).  I don't know why that's so hard for folks to understand.  Prioritizing the money-generating business is how SpaceX sticks around, and is sound management process.

The alternative would be to blow a huge amount of money and manufacturing resources on a dedicated FH team... and then where do you put your best engineers?  On FH, neglecting F9? Or on F9, jeopardizing FH?  SpaceX believes it already has hired the best folks, and it has asked them to work on FH as a second-tier project behind F9.

That seems entirely straight-foreward and reasonable to me.

Is it a valid corallary then that low priority projects would potentially be cancellled as other more interesting & profitable pieces of business come along?   CRS-2 , Dragonfly,upper stage raptor, etc.?   I think SpaceX will analyze and act on these motives like any other company.


Not in this case.  Instead of "low priority" think of "low urgency".  I hate to fall back on my old Steven Covey, but classifying goals as to urgency and importance independently helps you schedule your work better.  Concentrate first on that which is urgent and important, next on which is important but not urgent, last on what is urgent but not important, and if it's neither urgent nor important, just drop it.  Falcon heavy has always been important, but its been less urgent than getting F9 fully operational.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: launchwatcher on 02/19/2016 12:52 AM
Given the high landing precision they have shown, they could probably land 50m away from each other without a problem. The greater concern might be mid-air collision, so they need to guarantee that the trajectories to the pad don't cross.
Fragmentation distance is another thing to worry about.   The CRS-6 landing video ends before all the fragments splash down but shows splashes in the water on the right side maybe 1.5 to 2 times the width of the barge from the touchdown point, and larger chunks flying left.

I don't think you want a nearby missed landing to doom a successfully landed stage.


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/19/2016 03:15 AM
While I'm sure there's been technical issues with the Falcon Heavy, that's not what has delayed it. They're waiting for the politics with the military launches to become predictable. Why? Because that's what Falcon Heavy is for.
Theyre not waiting on politics. That's absurd. No reason to wait. Launch now and you have a much bigger bargaining chip.

I think it's about Falcon 9 maturing, and a long manifest that keeps getting longer. And a bunch of other projects like Dragon 2, reuse, etc, that they're just as behind on (though making real progress).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/19/2016 03:17 AM
Theyre not waiting on politics. That's absurd. No reason to wait. Launch now and you have a much bigger bargaining chip.

You'll have an uncertified vehicle with a giant sunk cost.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/19/2016 03:31 AM
Theyre not waiting on politics. That's absurd. No reason to wait. Launch now and you have a much bigger bargaining chip.

You'll have an uncertified vehicle with a giant sunk cost.
And they already have that. Not flying will delay certification further, and the sunk cost they've already put into it will accumulate.

And they have multiple commercial customers signed up for it, and they lost one extra bird (slipped from Viasat2 to 3, could've been both) due to delay.

There's nothing to be gained by waiting it out.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/19/2016 03:40 AM
And they have multiple commercial customers signed up for it, and they lost one extra bird (slipped from Viasat2 to 3, could've been both) due to delay.

It's not worth doing it for the commercial customers alone.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 02/19/2016 04:08 AM
And they have multiple commercial customers signed up for it, and they lost one extra bird (slipped from Viasat2 to 3, could've been both) due to delay.

It's not worth doing it for the commercial customers alone.

What do you mean by word "if"?

Development of FH from scratch would not be worth doing it for commercial customers alone.

But they have already done almost all of the development work. What is left is really, really small part.

And, as somebody else already said: The earlier they fly, the earlier they get the air force certification.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: QuantumG on 02/19/2016 04:16 AM
And, as somebody else already said: The earlier they fly, the earlier they get the air force certification.

No.. the earlier they fly, the earlier they produce the wrong vehicle to get air force certification, get shuffled from office to office, sue, get forced into arbitration, hire the services of three more senators and generally just shovel money into the fire.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dorkmo on 02/19/2016 04:19 AM
seems like most of the costs that are going to sink have already sunk, but on the plus side they can have the pad and everything ready for whatever gets certified?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/19/2016 05:48 AM
And, as somebody else already said: The earlier they fly, the earlier they get the air force certification.

No.. the earlier they fly, the earlier they produce the wrong vehicle to get air force certification, get shuffled from office to office, sue, get forced into arbitration, hire the services of three more senators and generally just shovel money into the fire.

Yes, that is how it will roll.  Whatever the sunk costs actually are, ( how expensive are YouTube videos & upgraded TEL's,  anyways?)  it will pale in comparison to the costs once they commit to the first two "test" flights and maintaining capability for the wrong vehicle to be ready to launch very  infrequent payloads.   

With no commercial market materializing for FH, the Air Force pretty much looks to be the whole game for FH.  Given the low numbers of payloads suitable for FH from government sources, that game doesn't look so good.   It sometimes makes me wonder if keeping FH alive is the price SpaceX pays to be in good graces for F9-FT.  Play the AF game for the big rocket they will maybe want someday, maybe... 2 or 3 times a decade...maybe...?

FH may have seemed like a great idea long ago ( 3-4 years per SpaceX time dilation standards) but it is not a "gate" they need to pass through for their Mars plans, and commercially it is never going to be anything but the tail end of their revenue stream & a distraction from executing their prime need to increase flight rate of F9-FT.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 02/19/2016 06:06 AM

Not in this case.  Instead of "low priority" think of "low urgency".  I hate to fall back on my old Steven Covey, but classifying goals as to urgency and importance independently helps you schedule your work better.  Concentrate first on that which is urgent and important, next on which is important but not urgent, last on what is urgent but not important, and if it's neither urgent nor important, just drop it.  Falcon heavy has always been important, but its been less urgent than getting F9 fully operational.
If SpaceX are on a path that will lead them to a Raptor 2nd stage mid term and to BFR long term, then FH may be neither urgent nor importent.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/19/2016 07:19 AM
Unless they want Falcon Heavy's 13+ tonne mass to Mars for pre-BFR Mars precursor missions and/or mass deployments of their comms constellation. Then they're they're at least partly their own customer.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: raketa on 02/19/2016 03:57 PM
Given the high landing precision they have shown, they could probably land 50m away from each other without a problem. The greater concern might be mid-air collision, so they need to guarantee that the trajectories to the pad don't cross.
I would think it best to aim each booster so that the atmospheric entry interfaces are a mile or two apart, and then use the grid fins to converge on the precise landing spots.  By making sure that the northern booster reenters on the north, and the southern on the south, you should be able to avoid collisions.

Upper level winds may complicate matters, though.
I think by slightly difference in timing of braking burn, they could separate stages horizontally and avoid collision by landing in slightly different time.I think separation in order 10-20 second will be good enough.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: parham55 on 02/19/2016 04:21 PM
I think by slightly difference in timing of braking burn, they could separate stages horizontally and avoid collision by landing in slightly different time.I think separation in order 10-20 second will be good enough.

Which braking burn? The boostback, re-entry or landing braking burn? I would guess you mean the boostback burn and I would suspect you are correct.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/19/2016 04:53 PM
If they get the methane Raptor second stage, this greatly increases the payloads F9 FT can deliver and it will cut into FH's potential launches also.  On the other hand, with a Raptor upper stage on the FH, it will greatly increase it's capabilities and maybe open doors to payloads that SLS would have launched. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/19/2016 07:11 PM
If they get the methane Raptor second stage, this greatly increases the payloads F9 FT can deliver and it will cut into FH's potential launches also.  On the other hand, with a Raptor upper stage on the FH, it will greatly increase it's capabilities and maybe open doors to payloads that SLS would have launched.

A raptor second stage is only an incremental improvement for F9/FH, if any payload improvement at all, because of the likely reuse penalty.  Little will change in the F9/FH balance IMO; biggest impact will probably be the extension of FH capability into the SLS Block 1 range.

The impact comes when it is reusable and refuelable... everything from routine tanker flights to higher energy/mass interplanetary launches become possible.

A refuelable upper stage will out-perform any SLS Block 1/2 on TLI or TMI.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sewebster on 02/19/2016 07:46 PM
People have pointed out reasons why SpaceX might want to delay FH... and I agree that I don't think losing the one ViaSat launch is a huge deal... but presumably there is a bigger picture for ALL of the commercial clients signed up for FH... if SpaceX keeps pushing the schedule. I mean, are they actually on a schedule to launch (even if there are minor delays?) Or are they still thinking about it? Seems like a big difference to a customer.

But maybe all the customers have been briefed on all this and are "on board" with the situation...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/19/2016 08:41 PM
If they get a Raptor upper stage engine developed, it would not be long before a first stage engine could be developed.   Then they could go straight to BFR or a mini-BFR.  Things change all the time. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: 3Davideo on 02/19/2016 08:46 PM
Personal opinion: Once FH is up and running, it's possible that there will be more satellites built that can only be launched on the FH (except maybe, and possibly including the more expensive Delta IV Heavy).  So even if F9 FT and further upgrades erode the market base on the low side, I still think they'll see growth on the high side. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 02/19/2016 09:49 PM
Personal opinion: Once FH is up and running, it's possible that there will be more satellites built that can only be launched on the FH

Not really, because the satellite operators don't want to be tied to one vehicle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/19/2016 09:51 PM
Personal opinion: Once FH is up and running, it's possible that there will be more satellites built that can only be launched on the FH

Not really, because the satellite operators don't want to be tied to one vehicle.
This is true, and will give ULA motivation to make Vulcan Heavy (as soon in a ULA graphic) a more real capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 02/19/2016 09:54 PM
Personal opinion: Once FH is up and running, it's possible that there will be more satellites built that can only be launched on the FH

Not really, because the satellite operators don't want to be tied to one vehicle.

They have Ariane. Somewhat expensive if it is only one big sat but it is an alternative.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/19/2016 10:55 PM
Great, terminology aside, the fact remains that you should treat all rockets that haven't flown with some scepticism.

Sure, skepticism is valid.  Just because someone builds something doesn't mean it will meet it's intended goals.

However with regards to the Falcon Heavy, a binary set of choices (i.e. it's either a paper rocket or it's a real rocket) doesn't make sense.

For instance, SpaceX now has substantially more resources than it did when it was getting to launch the Falcon 1, and it has proven that it can design, build and launch the Falcon 9 with pretty good reliability.

And since the Falcon Heavy is using a proven method of combining three cores, there are far fewer questions about the likelihood of them being able to eventually build and launch the Falcon Heavy successfully.  Maybe that won't be on the first launch, but they have the financial and engineering resources to fine tune towards success.

So is Falcon Heavy a "paper rocket"?  No.  Is it a proven one?  No.  Is it an iteration of a proven design?  Yes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Ronsmytheiii on 02/20/2016 01:01 PM
Falcon heavy isn't particularly competitive with ariane 5 for single 7 tonne payloads unless it uses dual manifest OR reuse.
Without reuse it's an over capable rocket.

Makes sense for them to have waited.

I will agree that they waited for reusability, but for different reasons. At the end of the EELV design process, both Lockheed and Boeing decided to add SRB capabilities for more payload flexibility without resorting to tri-core heavies in response to the commercial market's demands.  SpaceX does not have that flexibility, so a Heavy must compete with single core LV's for heavier (not the heaviest though) payloads.  Without reuse, the Falcon Heavy could be too expensive for payloads slightly too heavy for Falcon 9.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 02/20/2016 01:20 PM
Falcon Heavy could launch multiple payloads that might be too heavy for one Falcon 9.   Maybe one large one and two or three lighter ones. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/20/2016 03:01 PM
I will agree that they waited for reusability, but for different reasons.

I'm in the camp of people that thinks that Falcon Heavy was delayed due to a lack of resources - that it was not a priority, did not have pressing customer launch needs, and their company resources were needed elsewhere (i.e. v1.1 FT, Dragon Crew, etc.).

Quote
At the end of the EELV design process, both Lockheed and Boeing decided to add SRB capabilities for more payload flexibility without resorting to tri-core heavies in response to the commercial market's demands.  SpaceX does not have that flexibility, so a Heavy must compete with single core LV's for heavier (not the heaviest though) payloads.  Without reuse, the Falcon Heavy could be too expensive for payloads slightly too heavy for Falcon 9.

Musk doesn't need to win every launch order in order to achieve a large backlog of launch orders.  No doubt there is an "80/20 rule" that applies here, and SpaceX is better off just focusing on the broad middle part of the market.

Plus, if they perfect reusability, they will be changing the market.  And that changed market will focus on the abilities SpaceX offers for reusability and lower launch costs, so SpaceX won't have to worry about odd sized payloads - they want quantity.

My $0.02
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2016 05:05 PM

At the end of the EELV design process, both Lockheed and Boeing decided to add SRB capabilities for more payload flexibility without resorting to tri-core heavies in response to the commercial market's demands.  SpaceX does not have that flexibility, so a Heavy must compete with single core LV's for heavier (not the heaviest though) payloads.  Without reuse, the Falcon Heavy could be too expensive for payloads slightly too heavy for Falcon 9.

Musk doesn't need to win every launch order in order to achieve a large backlog of launch orders.  No doubt there is an "80/20 rule" that applies here, and SpaceX is better off just focusing on the broad middle part of the market.

Plus, if they perfect reusability, they will be changing the market.  And that changed market will focus on the abilities SpaceX offers for reusability and lower launch costs, so SpaceX won't have to worry about odd sized payloads - they want quantity.

My $0.02

These are interesting points.   In regards to LM & Boeing adding SRB's to their EELV designs, F9-FT needs the equivalent impulse of around 2 GEM-60's to deliver 6.5-7.0 ton comsats to GTO.  Add a 3rd or 4th SRB and there would be margins for recovery of the core.   It is sobering to think that 2 little SRB's using 60,000kg of propellant would give the needed performance that is being provided by the two FH side cores with some 870,000 kg propellant.  That seems a steep price in complexity to get the marginal improvement for the larger comsats.  It makes sense for multiple payload or very large payloads, but is very questionable for launching the 6.5-7.0 ton payloads, even with reuse.

A F9 vehicle configured with smaller boosters, or small Raptor upper stage could cover the remaining 20% of the commercial market. ( & probably more than 20% of the available revenue).   It doesn't cover the heaviest of the possible government payloads.   As far as dual payloads justifying the FH, Ariane is backing away from that losing strategy.  Why?

As skeptical as I am FH, I do wish it success in changing the demand side of the launch market.  I do question how long that will take.   If it happens quickly, FH may have a future.  If it takes upwards of a decade, I don't see how it makes any sense not to scrap FH and adapt another design.   Evolving F9-FT to be adaptable to smaller boosters is the quickest path, & seems well within the capability of SpaceX's engineering talent.   A high energy upper stage would take longer, but could obsolete the smaller boosters when it becomes available.   It does seem worth the effort to be competitive in the full comsat market, and not leave that top value revenue to competitors. 


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: punder on 02/20/2016 05:28 PM
It is sobering to think that 2 little SRB's using 60,000kg of propellant would give the needed performance that is being provided by the two FH side cores with some 870,000 kg propellant.

It's likely SpaceX has mulled the costs and benefits of using solids, but doubtful they will ever adopt them. These are some possible downsides:

1. Musk has made the point many times that propellant is cheap in relation to expendable hardware.
2. Adding solids goes against his philosophy of reuse for drastic cost reduction.
3. It would require serious analysis and redesign of the entire rocket and its trajectory, not just the first stage.
4. It would involve contracting with outside providers who would, in their old-school way, charge exorbitant prices for the strap-ons and impose a set of SpaceX-uncontrollable schedule constraints--one of the primary reasons Musk started SpaceX in the first place and brought as much manufacturing as possible in-house.
5. It would mean integrating another huge set of storage, handling and launch procedures that are foreign to the SpaceX way of doing things.
6. It would mean more lengthy and expensive rounds with the EPA.
7. It would destroy (perhaps literally) the concept of survivable engine-out during first stage burn.
8. It would look like a defeat--a concession to the competitors.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2016 05:33 PM
To be very clear, I was not suggesting that SpaceX use SRB's.  I brought it up as illustrative of the inefficiency & overkill of the FH configuration for the single launch to GTO, large comsat ( 6.5-7.0 ton range).   As a skeptic of FH, I'm at least trying to suggest alternate paths.

I discussed my specific thoughts back on pg. 10-11 in this thread, and was met with the enthusiasm of a leper or heretic.  But that's OK!  I think FH is a very interesting & troubled vehicle, very worth of discussion pro & con.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/20/2016 06:19 PM
Falcon Heavy gets like 20 tons to LEO GTO expendable. A couple of SRBs doesn't do that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/20/2016 09:34 PM
In regards to LM & Boeing adding SRB's to their EELV designs, F9-FT needs the equivalent impulse of around 2 GEM-60's to deliver 6.5-7.0 ton comsats to GTO.  Add a 3rd or 4th SRB and there would be margins for recovery of the core.   It is sobering to think that 2 little SRB's using 60,000kg of propellant would give the needed performance that is being provided by the two FH side cores with some 870,000 kg propellant.  That seems a steep price in complexity to get the marginal improvement for the larger comsats.  It makes sense for multiple payload or very large payloads, but is very questionable for launching the 6.5-7.0 ton payloads, even with reuse.

To be very clear, I was not suggesting that SpaceX use SRB's.  I brought it up as illustrative of the inefficiency & overkill of the FH configuration for the single launch to GTO, large comsat ( 6.5-7.0 ton range).   As a skeptic of FH, I'm at least trying to suggest alternate paths.... I think FH is a very interesting & troubled vehicle, very worth of discussion pro & con.

This is like saying you don't need a semi to move, as you can get all your stuff in 1 U-Haul truck plus two pickup trucks, even though the pickup trucks have to be thrown away after one use. Even if the semi has excess capacity and uses more fuel, it is still far more economical to burn more fuel and not throw away any of the hardware.

I would agree that expending one liquid core and a few small solids is cheaper than expending three liquid cores. Once the liquids are recoverable and reusable, however, the choice is between the cost of extra liquid prop or the cost of disposable solids (which do come with some cons). IMHO, just burning more prop seems to have the advantage. Then there is the fact that the reusable tri-core can do that job as well as much more. You have one infrastructure for all possible payloads. Add solids and you have to introduce other complexities.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2016 10:40 PM
Falcon Heavy gets like 20 tons to LEO GTO expendable. A couple of SRBs doesn't do that.

That is true, but using FH in expendable mode for +6.5 ton comsats is what I was suggesting as overkill.   What can FH do to GTO when all cores are RTLS?  Or when the center core is DPL?   The reuse scenarios are the subject that is accurate to weigh alternate FH options against.

The SES-9 mission is interesting to the FH discussion, as it will inform a pretty good estimate of the max payload of F9-FT to GTO.   What then is the best solution to cover the gap between F9-FT to the lager and lucrative GTO payloads?   FH is the current SpaceX solution to that market.  It does not appear to be doing well.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2016 11:10 PM

This is like saying you don't need a semi to move, as you can get all your stuff in 1 U-Haul truck plus two pickup trucks, even though the pickup trucks have to be thrown away after one use. Even if the semi has excess capacity and uses more fuel, it is still far more economical to burn more fuel and not throw away any of the hardware.

I would agree that expending one liquid core and a few small solids is cheaper than expending three liquid cores. Once the liquids are recoverable and reusable, however, the choice is between the cost of extra liquid prop or the cost of disposable solids (which do come with some cons). IMHO, just burning more prop seems to have the advantage. Then there is the fact that the reusable tri-core can do that job as well as much more. You have one infrastructure for all possible payloads. Add solids and you have to introduce other complexities.

Again, the SRB's were just used as an illustration of the overkill of the tri-core FH.  The point was that the extra impulse they would give to a F9-FT core would be enough for getting 6.5-7.0 tons to GTO with extra margin for DPL.   

I would re-write your analogy like this:  F9-FT is like a Ford F-250 with a 4000lb load capacity.  FH ( in full reuse mode) is like bolting three F-250's together when the task is to carry a 5000 lb load.  What if a way could be found to carry that marginal 1000 lbs by bolting on two Ford Focus's to the F-250?
 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 02/20/2016 11:24 PM
In regards to LM & Boeing adding SRB's to their EELV designs, F9-FT needs the equivalent impulse of around 2 GEM-60's to deliver 6.5-7.0 ton comsats to GTO.  Add a 3rd or 4th SRB and there would be margins for recovery of the core.   It is sobering to think that 2 little SRB's using 60,000kg of propellant would give the needed performance that is being provided by the two FH side cores with some 870,000 kg propellant.  That seems a steep price in complexity to get the marginal improvement for the larger comsats.  It makes sense for multiple payload or very large payloads, but is very questionable for launching the 6.5-7.0 ton payloads, even with reuse.

To be very clear, I was not suggesting that SpaceX use SRB's.  I brought it up as illustrative of the inefficiency & overkill of the FH configuration for the single launch to GTO, large comsat ( 6.5-7.0 ton range).   As a skeptic of FH, I'm at least trying to suggest alternate paths.... I think FH is a very interesting & troubled vehicle, very worth of discussion pro & con.

This is like saying you don't need a semi to move, as you can get all your stuff in 1 U-Haul truck plus two pickup trucks, even though the pickup trucks have to be thrown away after one use. Even if the semi has excess capacity and uses more fuel, it is still far more economical to burn more fuel and not throw away any of the hardware.

I would agree that expending one liquid core and a few small solids is cheaper than expending three liquid cores. Once the liquids are recoverable and reusable, however, the choice is between the cost of extra liquid prop or the cost of disposable solids (which do come with some cons). IMHO, just burning more prop seems to have the advantage. Then there is the fact that the reusable tri-core can do that job as well as much more. You have one infrastructure for all possible payloads. Add solids and you have to introduce other complexities.
You talk like integrating, testing, handling, launching, recovering and inspecting three cores came at the same cost as doing it for only one. Which it doesn't . It's about more than just fuel, no matter what Elon tweets.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/20/2016 11:39 PM
You talk like integrating, testing, handling, launching, recovering and inspecting three cores came at the same cost as doing it for only one. Which it doesn't . It's about more than just fuel, no matter what Elon tweets.

Today, sure.  But Musks goal is to mirror the reusable transportation systems we rely on today, in the air, on the ground, and in the water.

Their launch ops are already pretty speedy, and they have designed the Merlin engines to be reusable for many flights.  The question is whether they have achieved their intended results with their designs, but we really won't know until they get a whole lot more flights under their belt.

But if things prove out the way that they have designed them, the returned cores won't need testing and inspection, just like you don't test or inspect your car when you rely upon it to get you to work every day.

We're talking about a big paradigm shift here... assuming things work out the way they think they can.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 02/20/2016 11:44 PM
Let's wait and see how it turns out.
I don't see "no inspections". Also a Heavy will always need an ASDS and land landings to get all cores back, then there is the question on what the long-term success rate of recoveries will look like (for example you can't always expect to have reasonable weather for ASDS landings).
A lot of ifs to fill the time until they have a Raptor upper stage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/20/2016 11:48 PM
Talking alternate scenarios and criticisms is fascinating, but as far as the actual FH configuration goes, I have read and seen some conflicting info regarding the differences of the center vs. side cores. I have read it here that all three cores are exact copies, with the exception that the center core has a mod kit for attaching side cores, and I have read elsewhere that the center core is slightly longer than the side cores and carries more S1 prop.

So any reasoning or confirmation either way?
1.  Should the center core be slightly longer than the side cores for extra fuel load & burn time in the S1?   
2.  By connecting the three cores together, does this constrain the vehicles bending moments & resonant modes so that the slenderness ratio that is limiting of F9-FT allows for a longer FH center core?

I am thinking it makes sense that the FH center core can be extended to the point that optimizes for burn time in excess of the side cores, yet still has to remain road transportable.  Bending forces and resonance for the center core is of less concern as by the time the side cores eject, the vehicle is past maxQ and aero forces are diminishing fast.

How these trades play out should determine the maximum size and mass that S2 can have, and what the ultimate potential of the FH could be.

 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 02/20/2016 11:48 PM
We're talking about a big paradigm shift here... assuming things work out the way they think they can.

Yes, and Musk is of course "leaning forward" (and certainly not looking back!) when it comes to FH. But I just want to mention that if he's competing with DIV-H, he needs to consider the entire "National Mission Model" on which EELV was predicated, to the extant that those requirements from the past still apply today and will continue to apply in the future.

I forget whether it was "Mission C" or "Mission D", but one of them is GEO (not GTO) and requires just about every kilogram DIV-H with RS-68A can currently deliver....

http://fas.org/spp/military/program/launch/nmm.htm
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/20/2016 11:54 PM
Falcon Heavy gets like 20 tons to LEO GTO expendable. A couple of SRBs doesn't do that.

That is true, but using FH in expendable mode for +6.5 ton comsats is what I was suggesting as overkill.   What can FH do to GTO when all cores are RTLS?  Or when the center core is DPL?   The reuse scenarios are the subject that is accurate to weigh alternate FH options against.

The SES-9 mission is interesting to the FH discussion, as it will inform a pretty good estimate of the max payload of F9-FT to GTO.   What then is the best solution to cover the gap between F9-FT to the lager and lucrative GTO payloads?   FH is the current SpaceX solution to that market.  It does not appear to be doing well.
Considering how high performance the SES9 mission is, it seems quite reasonable that 6.5+ ton satellites would have all cores recovered, and probably all return to launch site even.

With Raptor, Falcon Heavy may be able to put the biggest commsats through GTO while being FULLY reused.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/20/2016 11:57 PM
That seems a steep price in complexity to get the marginal improvement for the larger comsats.  It makes sense for multiple payload or very large payloads, but is very questionable for launching the 6.5-7.0 ton payloads, even with reuse.

Remember SpaceX will be releasing new capability numbers for Falcon Heavy, so we'll have to wait to debate exact numbers until that happens.

Quote
As skeptical as I am FH, I do wish it success in changing the demand side of the launch market.  I do question how long that will take.   If it happens quickly, FH may have a future.  If it takes upwards of a decade, I don't see how it makes any sense not to scrap FH and adapt another design.

I don't think you really appreciate the elegance and efficiency of what SpaceX has done with the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy.  Once the infrastructure is built (and it is), Falcon Heavy is practically free to maintain as a product/service - it's just standard Falcon 9 hardware.

Also you don't seem to appreciate how only having one real configuration (i.e. Falcon 9) being flown in two configurations (i.e. single core or triple core) gives them access to a great majority of the potential launch market - maybe all of it once they announce the new Falcon Heavy numbers.  Everything else is an expensive edge case that isn't worth going after.

So with the low pricing SpaceX offers for two standard launch configurations, SpaceX can get the market to adjust to them, instead of vice versa.

Quote
Evolving F9-FT to be adaptable to smaller boosters is the quickest path...

...the quickest path to complexity, and away from low cost.

Musk's goal is to lower the cost to access space, and that can't be done when you keep coming up with custom configurations of your standard product.

Plus, remember the market is never going to give SpaceX anywhere close to a majority of the total launch demand, so for SpaceX their best bet is to just go after what they can easily satisfy - that keeps prices low, which is what their competitive advantage is.  Custom configurations raise prices.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/21/2016 12:06 AM
Let's wait and see how it turns out.
I don't see "no inspections".

Last time I flew on a commercial airliner I saw the pilot walking around the aircraft doing a visual inspection.  So light inspections happen all the time in the commercial world, but what I was meaning was Musk's goal is more along the lines of an external inspection and maybe a review of their sensor data, and if everything checks then it keeps moving back to the launch site for the next flight.

Quote
Also a Heavy will always need an ASDS and land landings to get all cores back, then there is the question on what the long-term success rate of recoveries will look like (for example you can't always expect to have reasonable weather for ASDS landings).

The goal is 100% reusable 1st stages, but obviously it will take a while to get there.  Don't rule out their customers making changes in order to take advantage of the lower pricing with recoverable stage flights.

Quote
A lot of ifs to fill the time until they have a Raptor upper stage.

At this point it's not confirmed that a Raptor upper stage will happen, so I only focus on what they have announced.  And they can do a lot of recovery with what they have announced.

But this whole process will be iterative, both with SpaceX and with their customers, and it will play out over years, not months.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/21/2016 02:07 AM
Three words: "Mars precursor missions", as in before BFR. For these SpaceX R&D is the customer, unless NASA decides to tag along for a cheap secondary payload ride.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 02/21/2016 02:20 AM
Three words: "Mars precursor missions", as in before BFR. For these SpaceX R&D is the customer, unless NASA decides to tag along for a cheap secondary payload ride.

What price do you imagine SpaceX Operations would charge to SpaceX R&D for a FH-based Mars precursor mission? It would have to cover at least the cost of an expended upper stage (used for Earth departure), the payload integration, and the launch operations. Anything else?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 02/21/2016 02:37 AM
Three words: "Mars precursor missions", as in before BFR. For these SpaceX R&D is the customer, unless NASA decides to tag along for a cheap secondary payload ride.

What price do you imagine SpaceX Operations would charge to SpaceX R&D for a FH-based Mars precursor mission? It would have to cover at least the cost of an expended upper stage (used for Earth departure), the payload integration, and the launch operations. Anything else?

If the people are already on the payroll, the pads in place, props are as little of a launch cost as Musk says, and they use previously landed boosters and/or center cores, such flights could be quite cheap.

IMO, FH was going to wait for F9 FT from the get-go to save developing, or redeveloping, it three times instead of only once. Also, such missions would allow the testing of necessary techs such as ISRU concepts, robotics, comms etc.

Let's not forget SpaceX's mission statement. Other launches and R&D are the means to that goal. What others think is moot.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LouScheffer on 02/21/2016 03:14 AM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc)

In some cynical, game-theoretic way, it might be good for SpaceX to delay the FH.   As long as the FH is not certified, their main competitor is forced to keep making Delta-IV Heavies.  These are expensive, keep a lot of engineers tied up, and create bad publicity with high prices to the government.

Conversely, once the FH is certified, ULA can drop the Delta-IV entirely, close several pads, lower prices, and assign more engineers to the newer projects such as Vulcan and ACES.  ULA is probably rooting for SpaceX to certify the F9, so they can streamline their own operations.

So in some "bad for me but worse for you" way, it might pay SpaceX to keep delaying the FH.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/21/2016 11:49 AM
SpaceX has been clear from the start that FH development was a lower priority than F9 work.  As such they have been quite consistent in delaying it whenever there was more-important F9 work to do (F9 1.1, F9 FT, RTF, recovery, etc)

In some cynical, game-theoretic way, it might be good for SpaceX to delay the FH.   As long as the FH is not certified, their main competitor is forced to keep making Delta-IV Heavies.  These are expensive, keep a lot of engineers tied up, and create bad publicity with high prices to the government.

Conversely, once the FH is certified, ULA can drop the Delta-IV entirely, close several pads, lower prices, and assign more engineers to the newer projects such as Vulcan and ACES.  ULA is probably rooting for SpaceX to certify the F9, so they can streamline their own operations.

So in some "bad for me but worse for you" way, it might pay SpaceX to keep delaying the FH.

When FH is certified, the entire heavy market will be theirs. This is a premium market for which Delta Heavy will be soon charging one billion dollars a pop and SpaceX can charge whatever they want...

The above market share discussion missed the medium launch market (though somewhat off topic here)...
VEGA et al charge $40M a launch for these payloads -- soon to be the range of F9 or side booster reusable prices.  The more rapidly these cores are turned around, the bigger share of the market will be captured -- in both directions.

This reference from the Ariane thread is informative. Page 8 for medium market; good statistics for all commercial markets.

http://www.isae-alumni.net/docs/2015152450_presentation-airbus-safran-launchers-2015.pdf

What is most impactful on the (beloved by some) status quo is that every launch taken off the table by SpaceX makes the business case for whomever lost that launch less tenable.  We see this at ULA where they are in an existential crisis (USAF stating publically in Congressional hearings) because they are going to lose half of the market and at Ariane where competition has them scrambling. Other launch businesses are disappearing -- weakest in reliability first.  Boeing's venture Sealaunch is gone.  Proton is losing market share, too. Zenit near last launch if not already past that point...

The 'forcing function' now has begun to engage.  The status quo will be swept away (good riddance) unless SpaceX screws up terribly.  Many are still hoping this happens.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/21/2016 03:23 PM
Thanks for the pdf.

The markets are that FH if it captures 50% of the heavy market would be flying 3-4 times per year. And I agree that SpaceX will expand its market reach due to the price of both its RTLS F9 and RTLS 3core FH into smaller payload markets expanding to 60% of market totals such that FH could be doing in 2018-2019 as many as 8 launches mostly RTLS type of which 6 would be commercial and 2 US gov. F9 would be doing 6 commercial and 6 government (3-4 CRS, 1-2 CC, 0-2 other gov).

FH's future looks to be a busy booster doing mostly RTLS 3core type flights. This should get its price in this mode to close to what the F9 price is now. With the F9 price to be low enough to be be a stiff competitor for the small-medium payloads 2-3.2mt payloads when used in the RTLS mode (under $40M per launch).

The total commercial market at (21-25) and over 10 in the FH RTLS use range means that a capture of 60% of the market due to price would have the FH eventually flying 6 times per year just for commercial sats. Now add a few US government (1-2) and SpaceX internal (1-6) it could reach a flight rate of 14 per year.

FH will be a workhorse HLV-SHLV. SHLV is a LV that can do 50+mt to LEO. FH is an SHLV only in its expendable mode.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 02/21/2016 04:53 PM
@ AncientU

I don't know where you got the Airbus/Safran presentation, marked confidential BTW!, but it's very interesting, Thanks! 

First passover suggests the easiest market for SpaceX to grow share is in the small sat market competing against VEGA and Dnepr with used F9-FT cores.   I'll be busy translating French to English for a while now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/21/2016 07:03 PM
@ AncientU

I don't know where you got the Airbus/Safran presentation, marked confidential BTW!, but it's very interesting, Thanks! 

First passover suggests the easiest market for SpaceX to grow share is in the small sat market competing against VEGA and Dnepr with used F9-FT cores.   I'll be busy translating French to English for a while now.

The presentation was here:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31494.msg1490822#msg1490822

Interesting how they also recognize the potential of sky-fi (page 6).

Also note that flying pairs of these sats would still be RTLS mass range for FT. Takes two off the table at a time, just like FH could.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Rik ISS-fan on 02/21/2016 08:24 PM
I just found the presentation when I was googling for Ariane 6. I didn't realize it was confidential.
Moderators; do we have to delete the link's?

I still doubt if the Falcon Heavy will be structurally strong enough to cope with 50+mT payload on top of the second stage. written differently, I think the structure of a Falcon Heavy capable of launching 50+mT would be inefficiently heavy because the stage diameter is to small. The current envisioned Falcon Heavy is ment for 5-10mT payloads that are to heavy for Falcon 9FT. But with a Raptor upper-stage on the F9-FT most likely the same capability will be achieved. I think the Raptor Upperstage will get the same diameter as the payload fairing, and will have the same or less trust level ~900kN as the Merlin 1Dv-FT. This stage would be less overweight to cope with the buckling loads of a 50mT+ payloads.

Was the problem discovered during the return to flight with second stage re-ignition not related to the trust level of the upper-stage being to high. resulting in to high accelerations. The re-ignition is at a T/W of >3, resulting in a acceleration of >3G when the engine can't be ignited at a lower trust level. Most upper-stages have trust levels much lower than 200kN (45k lbf). So it might be beter to make an in-orbit stage (super-Draco) to launch large comsats with a three stage system, instead of a two stage system. Direct GTO injections are then also possible.
I also think that this might be cheaper than a dual or triple launch on a Falcon Heavy.
But first SpaceX has to show it can launch the payloads according to their manifest, and that they are reliable with they were not until now. A client doesn't like experiments on the flight of his >200mln satellite. And with the super chilled LOx SpaceX is experimenting on each flight. So it might be a wrong design decision to optimize for ground transport instead of optimized structural dimensions. A larger diameter first stage with a volume that would  eliminate LOx near it's freezing point, might be lighter than the current stage. And possibly this weight saving compensates the higher drag forces (skin friction drag). So you end up with the same system efficiency.       
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 02/21/2016 08:45 PM
I still doubt if the Falcon Heavy will be structurally strong enough to cope with 50+mT payload on top of the second stage. written differently, I think the structure of a Falcon Heavy capable of launching 50+mT would be inefficiently heavy because the stage diameter is to small.

The currently advertised capability for Falcon Heavy is 53mT to LEO.  Are you thinking that everyone involved with the design of the Falcon family has not considered how a 53mT mass interacts with the Falcon Heavy?

Think of this from a different point of view - no one needs a single mass that is 53mT in LEO, so SpaceX is not in a competition to see who can lift the largest amount of mass.  So if anything it's likely that 53mT is deemed as a safe load for Falcon Heavy.  And the promised new capacity numbers may show that.

But for me I think SpaceX knows what they are doing, and understand what is possible for Falcon Heavy from an engineering standpoint.

Quote
But first SpaceX has to show it can launch the payloads according to their manifest, and that they are reliable with they were not until now.

Delays are not uncommon in the launch industry, and that is one of the reasons why launch customers usually order a back launch - in case something is not going right with their primary choice.

So I think the free market will sort this out.  Customers that are looking for lower launch costs but can trade some time will stick with SpaceX during the times they have delays, but other customers who have time to market constraints may change to another launch provide.  And this has already happened.  So the free market works, even for SpaceX.

Quote
A client doesn't like experiments on the flight of his >200mln satellite.

Here again the free market has an influence, but SpaceX appears to be spending a lot of effort to work with customers so that they understand the risks of what they are doing.  And the customers understand the eventual long-term rewards, which is much lower launch costs, and money is an important factor.

But since experimentation for the sake of experimentation is very expensive (even for SpaceX), I don't see them changing what they are doing.

Quote
A larger diameter first stage with a volume that would  eliminate LOx near it's freezing point, might be lighter than the current stage.

OK, but that would mean they would have to build a new factory to replace the one in California, and build a new test facility to test the one they have in Texas.  So that is not a solution they can implement today, nor probably not for quite a few years down the road.  Maybe the factory they will use to build the BFR will allow that, but by the time we get to that point the market may be far different.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Rik ISS-fan on 02/21/2016 10:09 PM
The currently advertised capability for Falcon Heavy is 53mT to LEO.  Are you thinking that everyone involved with the design of the Falcon family has not considered how a 53mT mass interacts with the Falcon Heavy?

Think of this from a different point of view - no one needs a single mass that is 53mT in LEO, so SpaceX is not in a competition to see who can lift the largest amount of mass.  So if anything it's likely that 53mT is deemed as a safe load for Falcon Heavy.  And the promised new capacity numbers may show that.

But for me I think SpaceX knows what they are doing, and understand what is possible for Falcon Heavy from an engineering standpoint.
I think SpaceX calculated the performance of the FH with preliminary calculation methods. I think the capability to Mars (13,2mT, the same payload as Falcon 9FT) is achievable with the F9 upper stage. The core stage (that is structurally different than the boosters and the F9FT first stage), can most likely handle the GTO loads (21,2mT). Most likely the core for LEO performance is different than the GTO and escape core, and it is a lot heavier.
I also think that SpaceX has a lot more on it's drawing board than we think. How did the Raptor Upper-stage development came out of the blue. Because SpaceX already knew, or the engineers discovered during the detailed design of falcon heavy, that it was more efficient to increase the upper-stage diameter to the diameter of the payload fairing for the GTO FH.
For the LEO capability they will most likely develop a larger payload fairing and the same large diameter upper-stage. The core stage will most likely be heavier and have the same diameter. (or they assume that the LEO performance is a fuel tank; the upper-stage.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 02/21/2016 10:31 PM
For the LEO capability they're probably going to start thinking about it whenever the first such payload appears on the horizon which will probably give them plenty of time because such a payload would take a few years to develop and build, too.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: S.Paulissen on 02/21/2016 11:10 PM
The currently advertised capability for Falcon Heavy is 53mT to LEO.  Are you thinking that everyone involved with the design of the Falcon family has not considered how a 53mT mass interacts with the Falcon Heavy?

Think of this from a different point of view - no one needs a single mass that is 53mT in LEO, so SpaceX is not in a competition to see who can lift the largest amount of mass.  So if anything it's likely that 53mT is deemed as a safe load for Falcon Heavy.  And the promised new capacity numbers may show that.

But for me I think SpaceX knows what they are doing, and understand what is possible for Falcon Heavy from an engineering standpoint.
I think SpaceX calculated the performance of the FH with preliminary calculation methods. I think the capability to Mars (13,2mT, the same payload as Falcon 9FT) is achievable with the F9 upper stage. The core stage (that is structurally different than the boosters and the F9FT first stage), can most likely handle the GTO loads (21,2mT). Most likely the core for LEO performance is different than the GTO and escape core, and it is a lot heavier.
I also think that SpaceX has a lot more on it's drawing board than we think. How did the Raptor Upper-stage development came out of the blue. Because SpaceX already knew, or the engineers discovered during the detailed design of falcon heavy, that it was more efficient to increase the upper-stage diameter to the diameter of the payload fairing for the GTO FH.
For the LEO capability they will most likely develop a larger payload fairing and the same large diameter upper-stage. The core stage will most likely be heavier and have the same diameter. (or they assume that the LEO performance is a fuel tank; the upper-stage.)

Considering that Centaur, a 3m stage with a minimum wall thickness of 0.010", can launch nearly 19000kg payload  into orbit using only pressure stabilization with ~50psig, I think SpaceX can support it just fine with their tank pressure being the same and -not- completely pressure stabilized.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 02/21/2016 11:30 PM
For the LEO capability they're probably going to start thinking about it whenever the first such payload appears on the horizon which will probably give them plenty of time because such a payload would take a few years to develop and build, too.

Propellant is such a payload.
Trust me, they've started thinking.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 02/21/2016 11:36 PM
Why should they ship 50t of propellant to LEO with no place to go there.
They will surely have started thinking but it makes no sense that they've started designing, F9 in all its variants will probably see a few more iterations before they're going to ship such a payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 02/21/2016 11:41 PM
Considering that Centaur, a 3m stage with a minimum wall thickness of 0.010", can launch nearly 19000kg payload  into orbit using only pressure stabilization with ~50psig, I think SpaceX can support it just fine with their tank pressure being the same and -not- completely pressure stabilized.
It can't. It needs the external 5m fairing to get through max Q with such a payload.
This is exactly such a case.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: sdsds on 02/21/2016 11:51 PM
Centaur [...] can launch nearly 19000kg payload  into orbit using only pressure stabilization
It can't. It needs the external 5m fairing to get through max Q with such a payload.
This is exactly such a case.

Right. And it's not just axial loads. With the 5m fairing there is also the Centaur Forward Load Reactor  to handle lateral loads induced during flight. I wonder if ULA (or Contraves/RUAG?) has a patent on that? ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: 2552 on 02/21/2016 11:57 PM
Falcon Heavy gets like 20 tons to LEO GTO expendable. A couple of SRBs doesn't do that.

That is true, but using FH in expendable mode for +6.5 ton comsats is what I was suggesting as overkill.   What can FH do to GTO when all cores are RTLS?  Or when the center core is DPL?   The reuse scenarios are the subject that is accurate to weigh alternate FH options against.

The SES-9 mission is interesting to the FH discussion, as it will inform a pretty good estimate of the max payload of F9-FT to GTO.   What then is the best solution to cover the gap between F9-FT to the lager and lucrative GTO payloads?   FH is the current SpaceX solution to that market.  It does not appear to be doing well.
Considering how high performance the SES9 mission is, it seems quite reasonable that 6.5+ ton satellites would have all cores recovered, and probably all return to launch site even.

With Raptor, Falcon Heavy may be able to put the biggest commsats through GTO while being FULLY reused.

And if they also go to a 5.2m Raptor first stage, maybe FH could send those 6.5+ tons satellites directly to GSO with full reusability.  8)

Edit: I wonder if that much extra performance is even necessary to do that. If a satellite that would've been launched to GTO would be launched to GSO instead using Raptor-FH, it could forego the extra hypergolic fuel (and engines(s)?) to transfer to GSO and would mass a lot less, reducing satellite build costs somewhat. Or if it would've used SEP instead of extra hypergolic fuel to transfer to GSO, being sent there directly to would save the months of transfer time, accelerating revenue generation.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 02/22/2016 04:51 AM
Considering that Centaur, a 3m stage with a minimum wall thickness of 0.010", can launch nearly 19000kg payload  into orbit using only pressure stabilization with ~50psig, I think SpaceX can support it just fine with their tank pressure being the same and -not- completely pressure stabilized.

0.010" ?  I just mic'd two sheets of printer paper, they are almost as thick. I had read of the stainless on the Centaur stage being thin, but that is amazing. Crappy auto bodies are at least twice that thick.

Matthew

Edit: did a little bit of googling, original tanks in the 60's indeed .010", later tanks .014 and .016, wow.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 02/22/2016 06:10 PM
Considering that Centaur, a 3m stage with a minimum wall thickness of 0.010", can launch nearly 19000kg payload  into orbit using only pressure stabilization with ~50psig, I think SpaceX can support it just fine with their tank pressure being the same and -not- completely pressure stabilized.

0.010" ?  I just mic'd two sheets of printer paper, they are almost as thick. I had read of the stainless on the Centaur stage being thin, but that is amazing. Crappy auto bodies are at least twice that thick.

Matthew

Edit: did a little bit of googling, original tanks in the 60's indeed .010", later tanks .014 and .016, wow.
Trivia about stainless steel balloon tanks.

Atlas E/F was .017 at the top and increased thickness to .032 at the bottom and held 300Klb of LOX and RP-1. Atlas balloon tanks had never had a structural failure even in wildly uncontrolled vehicles doing cartwheels above the pads in early launches. Cartwheels was because one of the out booster engines shut down creating a large torque, an 180Klbf sized torque on a fully loaded vehicle.

Stainless steel balloon tanks have very high structural margins. Higher than >2:1. Much higher than the average aluminum alloy tanks.

The main reason for the covering of the centaur by the 5.2m faring is thermal not structural. If you need more strength all you have to do is use a slightly thicker stainless and a higher pressure. Atlas E/F used 100psi flight pressure.

Back to SpaceX. SpaceX gains its high flight structural margins by a semi-balloon tank design by putting the tank skin into a stretch instead of a compression mode during flight. This allows SpaceX to use thinner walls and lower weight tanks. Which is why a F9 US has such a low dry weight, as low as a ULA DCSS. For a Raptor US, SpaceX would be able to get close to the phenomenal low dry weight of an ACES stage on Vulcan.

The real telling point is the PF of the US. The F9 current US has a PF of ~96%. The Centaur only 91%. The Vulcan/ACES would have also 96% but a Raptor stage could be as much as 97%.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LouScheffer on 02/22/2016 09:14 PM

Trivia about stainless steel balloon tanks.

Atlas E/F was .017 at the top and increased thickness to .032 at the bottom and held 300Klb of LOX and RP-1.

Stainless steel balloon tanks have very high structural margins. Higher than >2:1. Much higher than the average aluminum alloy tanks.

Atlas E/F used 100psi flight pressure.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I can't see how this hangs together.  Consider a 1 meter piece of the tank.  100 psi is 689,000 N/m^2.  The tank is 4.9 meters in diameter, so the total force pushing two halves apart is 3.38 MN.  Each side has to resist half of this, or 1.69 MN.  0.017 inches is 0.4318 mm, so the total cross sectional area is 0.0004318 meters.  Thus the required tensile strength is 1.69 MN/0.0004318 m = 3.91e9 N/m^2, or 567,000 PSI.

But stainless steel does not seem to be this strong.  Atlas uses type 301 stainless steel, but in the book "Materials for Aircraft, Missiles, and Space Vehicles" it says "In engineering applications type 301 stainless steel is frequently used at room-temperature yield and tensile strengths of 200,000 and 220,000 psi, respectively, which are obtained by cold rolling the steel".

So instead of a factor of 2, it seems to have a factor of 0.4 .  Now Atlas rockets clearly did not explode from pressurization loads, so something in this calculation is fishy.  But I can't see what it is.  Anyone got any suggestions?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/22/2016 09:32 PM
1) cold-working increases strength beyond 220ksi.
2) reduced temperatures increases tensile strength
3) ullage pressure is lower than 100psi
4) diameter is less than 5m. 3m for Atlas and typical Centaur.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: edkyle99 on 02/22/2016 09:51 PM
4) diameter is less than 5m. 3m for Atlas and typical Centaur.
3.048 meters (120 inches) diameter to be exact.

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LouScheffer on 02/23/2016 01:38 AM
4) diameter is less than 5m. 3m for Atlas and typical Centaur.
This reduces the stress to 2.43 GPascal, or 352 KPSI
Quote
1) cold-working increases strength beyond 220ksi.
2) reduced temperatures increases tensile strength
The combination of these might get up to 325 KPSI, according to "EVALUATION OF SPECIAL 3O1-TYPE STAINLESS STEEL FOR lMPROVED LOW-TEMPERATURE NOTCH TOUGHNESS OF CRYOFORMED PRESSURE VESSELS" at http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19660015958.pdf, or similarly
http://www.tokkin.com/materials/stainless_steel/spring

However, the low temperature does not help for the kerosene tank, and for the oxygen tank it would depend on the temperature of the ullage gas.  And LOX is not cold enough to get enough strength.

Even with both temperature and cold working, you only get a safety factor of 1 or thereabouts.
Quote
3) ullage pressure is lower than 100psi
This is my guess.  Maybe 100 psi is the pressure at the bottom of the tank, but the top of the tank is only half that.  This matches the thickness variation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/23/2016 01:50 AM
4) diameter is less than 5m. 3m for Atlas and typical Centaur.
This reduces the stress to 2.43 GPascal, or 352 KPSI
Quote
1) cold-working increases strength beyond 220ksi.
2) reduced temperatures increases tensile strength
The combination of these might get up to 325 KPSI, according to "EVALUATION OF SPECIAL 3O1-TYPE STAINLESS STEEL FOR lMPROVED LOW-TEMPERATURE NOTCH TOUGHNESS OF CRYOFORMED PRESSURE VESSELS" at http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19660015958.pdf, or similarly
http://www.tokkin.com/materials/stainless_steel/spring

However, the low temperature does not help for the kerosene tank, and for the oxygen tank it would depend on the temperature of the ullage gas.  And LOX is not cold enough to get enough strength.

Even with both temperature and cold working, you only get a safety factor of 1 or thereabouts.
Quote
3) ullage pressure is lower than 100psi
This is my guess.  Maybe 100 psi is the pressure at the bottom of the tank, but the top of the tank is only half that.  This matches the thickness variation.
It's a combination of those things, and I wasn't guessing. 100psi is higher than the ullage pressure in either tank, but the liquid oxygen tank has higher ullage pressure than the kerosene tank, which is compensated somewhat by the lower temperature of the liquid oxygen.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 02/23/2016 01:52 AM
And if they also go to a 5.2m Raptor first stage, maybe FH could send those 6.5+ tons satellites all the way to GSO and recover all stages.

I'm sure you meant second stage. You may want to edit that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: John-H on 02/23/2016 02:07 AM
Pressure variation is about 0.5 psi for foot of hight. That is for water at 1 g.  For fuel at much higher accelerations it would be  more.

John
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/23/2016 02:11 AM
Pressure variation is about 0.5 psi for foot of hight. That is for water at 1 g.  For fuel at much higher accelerations it would be  more.

John
But it doesn't get much higher accelerations until most of the fuel is drained, which reduces the height. So the effect is basically canceled out after initial lift-off! :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Katana on 02/23/2016 05:30 AM
301 or 304 type steel normally yields 200MPa, could be cold worked to 400MPa. Reserve 2:1 margin, you still have 200MPa...

Now 2.4GPa...10 times...

Also 100psi is quite high, as high as chamber pressure of pressure fed engines without pump.
4) diameter is less than 5m. 3m for Atlas and typical Centaur.
This reduces the stress to 2.43 GPascal, or 352 KPSI
Quote
1) cold-working increases strength beyond 220ksi.
2) reduced temperatures increases tensile strength
The combination of these might get up to 325 KPSI, according to "EVALUATION OF SPECIAL 3O1-TYPE STAINLESS STEEL FOR lMPROVED LOW-TEMPERATURE NOTCH TOUGHNESS OF CRYOFORMED PRESSURE VESSELS" at http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19660015958.pdf, or similarly
http://www.tokkin.com/materials/stainless_steel/spring

However, the low temperature does not help for the kerosene tank, and for the oxygen tank it would depend on the temperature of the ullage gas.  And LOX is not cold enough to get enough strength.

Even with both temperature and cold working, you only get a safety factor of 1 or thereabouts.
Quote
3) ullage pressure is lower than 100psi
This is my guess.  Maybe 100 psi is the pressure at the bottom of the tank, but the top of the tank is only half that.  This matches the thickness variation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: acsawdey on 02/23/2016 03:35 PM
Let's inject some real data into this, shall we?

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740009453.pdf (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740009453.pdf)

Page 63 of this pdf has an actual calculation of allowable pressure for each section of an Atlas F. It's at elevated temperature because the study was looking at using an expended booster to do re-entry heating studies for the shuttle. But for each section of the tank we have the skin thickness, the assumption for temperature, and what Convair thought was the allowable ultimate hoop stress.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: acsawdey on 02/23/2016 03:59 PM
Here's another one:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063 (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063)

An unfortunate Atlas was found to have corrosion and got cut up and studied. On page 83 of the pdf we see that the strength at room temp for uncorroded specimens was 226-229 ksi or 1560-1580 MPa. Also the figure on that page says that the design required strength is 184 ksi, and "max stress" is 78 ksi. I'm not sure which direction that stress goes but it seems like they cut the test pieces across the seam welds and tested in that direction, not around the circumference. But even in it's corroded condition the tank was filled with RP-1 and pressurized to 68 psi, and leaked but did not fail.
 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LouScheffer on 02/23/2016 06:27 PM
Let's inject some real data into this, shall we?

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740009453.pdf (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740009453.pdf)

Page 63 of this pdf has an actual calculation of allowable pressure for each section of an Atlas F. It's at elevated temperature because the study was looking at using an expended booster to do re-entry heating studies for the shuttle. But for each section of the tank we have the skin thickness, the assumption for temperature, and what Convair thought was the allowable ultimate hoop stress.

Two interesting things from this:
(a) they are doing the calculations just like we are
(b) they are using an ultimate factor of safety of 1.25 (for hoop stress)

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063 (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063)

An unfortunate Atlas was found to have corrosion and got cut up and studied. On page 83 of the pdf we see that the strength at room temp for uncorroded specimens was 226-229 ksi or 1560-1580 MPa. Also the figure on that page says that the design required strength is 184 ksi, and "max stress" is 78 ksi. I'm not sure which direction that stress goes but it seems like they cut the test pieces across the seam welds and tested in that direction, not around the circumference. But even in it's corroded condition the tank was filled with RP-1 and pressurized to 68 psi, and leaked but did not fail.
 
I too think this is stress along the tank, not hoop stress.  (For a balloon tank filled with gas the stress along the tank is half the hoop stress.  If the tank is partially filled the axial stress is determined by the ullage pressure only.)  They explicitly say that the max stress in flight is 78 ksi. but if that was hoop stress it would imply a max tank pressure of 41.6 psi for a wall thickness of 0.032 and a 120 inch diameter tank.  But they pressurized to 68 psi (which gives 127 ksi hoop stress for a 120 inch tank). 

So perhaps they use a safety factor of >2 (184/78) along the tank, but a smaller factor for hoop stress, as they did above.  Also the material is stronger in this direction. 

 CRYOGENIC MATERIALS DATA HANDBOOK (http://www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=AD0713619&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf), by the Air Force in 1970, page 420, gives higher strengths for 301 stainless that is cold-worked to 78% elongation - 390 ksi at LOX temp, 310 ksi at room temp, both in the strong direction (the other direction is about 10% weaker).  But from the above Atlas calculations (both of them), and the results of physically testing the material used to build Atlas, they do not appear to use these potentially greater strengths. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 02/23/2016 10:54 PM
None of this seems to be remotely about Falcon Heavy. Are they putting a Centaur on a Falcon? I don't think so.

"Next week" has come and gone and we have no FH data. Any further word on a data dump?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: S.Paulissen on 02/24/2016 06:08 PM
None of this seems to be remotely about Falcon Heavy. Are they putting a Centaur on a Falcon? I don't think so.

"Next week" has come and gone and we have no FH data. Any further word on a data dump?

No offense intended, but this post almost comes off myopic to the point of being obtuse.  It's quite clear how it's relevant to the question posed by ISS_Rik about how he doesn't see how the current upper stage can support a 50000+kg payload that SpaceX claims as a capability for Falcon Heavy. 

I responded by pointing out that Centaur had a minimum wall thickness of 0.010" and was capable of launching 18000+kg to orbit using pressure stabilization as a way to suggest that it's far from 'impossible' that SpaceX could launch 50000+kg to orbit on the existing upper stage. 

I realize that this is, in horrible defiance of our Lord-and-Savior Elon Musk (this is a joke), reasoning-from-analogy.  Since we're (read: I'm) not privy to the proprietary data of SpaceX upper stage architecture and there is a great deal of public data about Centaur, it is hardly irrelevant to invoke knowledge of what's possible with Centaur in order to make suggestions about Falcon's upper stage capability especially when SpaceX themselves states their mass fractions are possible because of pressure stabilization, indicating it's not a huge mistake to use Centaur as a baseline to estimate what's possible with that type of design.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Katana on 02/29/2016 01:51 PM
http://asm.matweb.com/search/SpecificMaterial.asp?bassnum=MQ304A
Tensile strength ultimate 505MPa Yield 215MPa

http://www.northamericanstainless.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Grade-301-301LN.pdf
Tensile strength 75ksi yield 30ksi
full hard tensile strength 185 ksi yield 140ksi
Here's another one:

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063 (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19790019063)

An unfortunate Atlas was found to have corrosion and got cut up and studied. On page 83 of the pdf we see that the strength at room temp for uncorroded specimens was 226-229 ksi or 1560-1580 MPa. Also the figure on that page says that the design required strength is 184 ksi, and "max stress" is 78 ksi. I'm not sure which direction that stress goes but it seems like they cut the test pieces across the seam welds and tested in that direction, not around the circumference. But even in it's corroded condition the tank was filled with RP-1 and pressurized to 68 psi, and leaked but did not fail.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: robert_d on 03/05/2016 04:02 PM
Does anyone know the separation distance between the core cylinders of the Falcon Heavy? Spaceflight 101 just lists a 'span' of "12.2 meters".
Does anyone know if the Falcon 1 launches from 39A will use the same base structure as the Falcon Heavy or have its own? IS there a better name for that part of the ground equipment?
Does anyone know if there are any plans to launch human missions on Falcon Heavy? Is there a thread on this? Plans for a different 'trunk' that would include an engine and additional life support?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: philw1776 on 03/05/2016 08:35 PM
Now that F9 has racked up yet another successful launch is there any word on when the February promised release of specs on the Falcon Heavy, etc. will be released?  Why the delay after a short schedule for release?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: the_other_Doug on 03/06/2016 12:18 AM
Now that F9 has racked up yet another successful launch is there any word on when the February promised release of specs on the Falcon Heavy, etc. will be released?  Why the delay after a short schedule for release?

We're not SpaceX.  We don't know.

My guess is that it remains a moving target, and therefore they don't want to get pinned down.  But I'm not SpaceX, so I don't know...  all I can do is guess.  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 03/08/2016 01:40 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/ (http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/)

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

And the same thing has just cost Falcon Heavy a second mission:

http://spacenews.com/inmarsat-worried-about-spacex-falcon-heavy-delays-books-reservation-for-ils-proton-launch/ (http://spacenews.com/inmarsat-worried-about-spacex-falcon-heavy-delays-books-reservation-for-ils-proton-launch/)

This time the beneficiary is ILS.
There weren't many payloads booked on FH to begin with, and now two of them are gone.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/08/2016 01:56 PM
Over-promising and under-delivering has just cost Falcon Heavy a mission:

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/ (http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/02/15/viasat-trades-in-falcon-heavy-launch-for-ariane-5/)

And Arianespace just lucked out in filling a hole in their manifest.

And the same thing has just cost Falcon Heavy a second mission:

http://spacenews.com/inmarsat-worried-about-spacex-falcon-heavy-delays-books-reservation-for-ils-proton-launch/ (http://spacenews.com/inmarsat-worried-about-spacex-falcon-heavy-delays-books-reservation-for-ils-proton-launch/)

This time the beneficiary is ILS.
There weren't many payloads booked on FH to begin with, and now two of them are gone.
According to the article, this is a "Plan B," not a straight up cancellation. They are booking an option on Proton. If FH launches, then the Plan B Proton will be used for a different ILS satellite. If FH has further delays, then Inmarsat can launch the first satellite on Proton instead. Sounds like a good plan for Inmarsat, and I don't think it's bad news for SpaceX any more than delaying is already bad.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/08/2016 02:47 PM
Nobody has any proof that they're deliberately flat-out delaying. More likely that they keep iterating upgrades which cause them to change FH's design slightly, but the pressure is on now. It will fly this year.

FH can afford to lose booked launches to lateness anyway (as have incomplete LVs). Once it flies, then they'll get orders flooding in. These pre-orders have little bearing on FH's end market, because people will start booking sats again once the rocket is more than a collection of parts waiting to be put together. Better to ensure it flies first, flys right, and performs as advertised. That wins over any timescale, and will win more customers.

Gravely muttering about timescales and how we've all been waiting since 1012 misses the nature of the business. An LV provider does not need to get every sat that has been offered to them. We only whirl out an entire kremlinology bureau over it because it's SpaceX and we're all fans in one way or another.

(Obligatory Elon time Meme).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: DJPledger on 03/08/2016 06:28 PM
SpaceX need to get FH launching ASAP otherwise all their customers for it will walk off to other launch vehicle providers. If FH ends up with no paying customers then SpaceX might as well cancel it and replace it with a Raptor powered LV.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dorkmo on 03/08/2016 06:56 PM
If you build it, they will come.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GreenShrike on 03/08/2016 10:13 PM
SpaceX need to get FH launching ASAP otherwise all their customers for it will walk off to other launch vehicle providers.

Sure -- at least until Falcon Heavy does fly, at any rate, whereupon the competitiveness of FH launches will assure SpaceX some chunk of heavy GTO launches. Naturally more competitiveness will net them a bigger chunk.

Not having FH launching now costs them only near and maybe some medium term launches. As soon as it does fly though, they'll have customers with payloads to fly. And I'd venture that comsat operators are more likely to tolerate delay in a launch vehicle which has never flown than to risk their flagship comsats on constant vehicle revisions of the magnitude of F9's 1.0 -> v1.1 -> FT upgrades.

If FH ends up with no paying customers then SpaceX might as well cancel it and replace it with a Raptor powered LV.

The only way FH winds up with no customers is if it never flies and is just cancelled. Since FH undoubtedly figures prominently in SpaceX's comsat constellation -- not to mention their initial Mars plans -- there's no way FH will get cancelled while Elon is running the show. SpaceX needs the FH for their own use, irrespective of anyone else.

Paying customers are just a bonus.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/08/2016 10:51 PM
With no barge landing successful yet we don't know how competitive FH will be. SpaceX is currently throwing resources into a lot of things in parallel, since they now have to complete Raptor somewhat soonish FH might not be a top priority, an ordinary Falcon with a Raptor upper stage might turn out to be the more profitable launcher for comsats.

Also lets not forget that F9 is now already able to launch all but the heaviest comsats so there's less urgency to get FH ready.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GreenShrike on 03/08/2016 11:55 PM
With no barge landing successful yet we don't know how competitive FH will be.

Worst case, with zero reuse and fully expendable launches each time, it'll cost, what $60M for an F9 plus 2 x $40M for a pair of F9 S1-derived boosters? IOW, a hell of a lot less than Ariane5 for a whole bunch more performance. SpaceX would need dual or triple sat dispensers, which would suck, to use up the performance (20t+ to GTO?), but they could do it.

SpaceX is currently throwing resources into a lot of things in parallel, since they now have to complete Raptor somewhat soonish FH might not be a top priority,

Raptor is years away. FH will almost certainly be flying within a year --  a half-year if they manage to get the current schedule to stick. And with no further F9 upgrades to mess up the Heavy's core design, actual progress in terms of bending metal shouldn't be hard to come by.

an ordinary Falcon with a Raptor upper stage might turn out to be the more profitable launcher for comsats.

Maybe -- in 2020 when a Raptor stage might be usable.

Also lets not forget that F9 is now already able to launch all but the heaviest comsats so there's less urgency to get FH ready.

Only until you remember that the point of SpaceX *isn't* to launch heavy comsats -- it's to get to Mars. And there are a limited number of Mars launch windows to get exploration done before MCT flies. I really don't think they want to miss the 2018 window.

Everyone else can go buy other rides if they need to, but SpaceX can't. *SpaceX* needs Falcon Heavy flying.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 12:31 AM
...since they now have to complete Raptor somewhat soonish FH might not be a top priority, an ordinary Falcon with a Raptor upper stage might turn out to be the more profitable launcher for comsats.
...
Interesting theory, but false. FH is most certainly a top priority. They won't be done with Raptor on the test stand until 2018, and delays could easily happen to that. And an engine is not a stage. A Raptor-optimized stage would likely be larger in diameter, possibly even reusable-capable. That means new tooling at a minimum but possibly a HUGE development cycle if it's reusable.

They have everything they need for FH now. They have a launch pad capable of it (two of them, actually), plus a test stand that is also capable of it, plus a matured Falcon 9 platform. Raptor would need a bunch of new developments and pad equipment, and would push the timeline for launching the most /profitable/ satellites far to the right.

You'll see Falcon Heavy at the launch site this year. Not entirely sure it'll launch (they still need to test fire it in McGregor, which I expect to see soon, and problems can arise on the launch pad), but I'd bet money they'll have it at the launch site this year.


...I COULD see them switching to Raptor-on-Falcon9 if, say, they have 2 Falcon Heavy failures in a row or something (God forbid). And they /may/ retire Falcon Heavy in favor of a large, two-stage, single-stick methane vehicle eventually, but they are SO CLOSE at this point to completing all their main tasks that they've been promising for their first decade of existence, that I'd doubt they'd risk it all again by abandoning Falcon Heavy this far into development, with the finish line in site. That's like billions of dollars in lost revenue.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 12:33 AM
As far as we know, SpaceX may be bending metal right now on Falcon Heavy. Or even started getting it integrated and ready to ship to McGregor.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Damon Hill on 03/09/2016 04:27 AM
What hardware would be unique to Falcon Heavy, including propellant cross-feed?  Will the first few Heavies even have cross-feed, or is that reserved for highest performance missions?

--Damon
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 04:33 AM
What hardware would be unique to Falcon Heavy, including propellant cross-feed?  Will the first few Heavies even have cross-feed, or is that reserved for highest performance missions?

--Damon
Correct. They're not bothering with cross-feed right now. Also, thrust increases for Merlin 1D and propellant densification means they can get about the same performance without it. Shotwell hinted that if someone needed a 60 ton payload, then they would do it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 04:41 AM
I didn't mean to imply that SpaceX stopped working on FH, just that it's got a lower priority.
I don't expect it to fly this year, for example.

They will of course still need it until they have e.g. an Raptor based US but they have very few flights booked on it and there are very few payloads that actually need it.

I'm pretty sure they must be somewhat short on development resources (that's always your bottleneck in growth scenarios since you can't scale it at will) so they will have to prioritize and FH, Raptor, crew Dragon, the sat activities... a lot going on.

Only until you remember that the point of SpaceX *isn't* to launch heavy comsats -- it's to get to Mars.
Yea, that thing. Sorry, I don't buy the hype. That may be their vision, it's not what they are doing and what pays for the breakfast cereals.
If Elon wants to go to Mars someone has to pay the bill and that someone is governments and comsat customers.
There's about one government payload that needs FH and they are not yet bidding for that one so FH is currently exclusively a comsat launcher. And in that heavy segment they are not that much cheaper than Ariane as they are on the smaller birds,
Need to close a business case for that one.

FH looked like a high priority project before they new they could get as much performance out of F9 as they do now but the mere fact that they tweaked F9 with all the iterations before simply going to the heavy shows their priorities and expected cost structure.

Quote
And there are a limited number of Mars launch windows to get exploration done before MCT flies. I really don't think they want to miss the 2018 window.
Don't think they've got a few hundred million to waste on such a stunt by 2018. So far most of their short-term experiments were actually financed by NASA or other customers and I don't see that happen for a Mars mission.

MCT is a massively expensive dream. Unless they find some government that's willing to churn out billions by the dozen that thing won't fly before the '40s or '50s at earliest.
Plenty of time for other Falcon versions before that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 05:04 AM
Who says they'd waste hundreds of millions of dollars?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 06:05 AM
Who says they'd waste hundreds of millions of dollars?

Well, "waste" is of course a question of perspective but to do meaningful research 2018 is too short a timing and an FH flight plus a payload to Mars plus mission control plus comms towards Mars will certainly cost a few hundred million $$$
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Damon Hill on 03/09/2016 06:08 AM
What hardware would be unique to Falcon Heavy, including propellant cross-feed?  Will the first few Heavies even have cross-feed, or is that reserved for highest performance missions?

--Damon
Correct. They're not bothering with cross-feed right now. Also, thrust increases for Merlin 1D and propellant densification means they can get about the same performance without it. Shotwell hinted that if someone needed a 60 ton payload, then they would do it.

Ah, so.  Don't know if I'm disappointed in that or not.  Cross-feed might be tricky and involves some significant changes compared to a 'simple' Heavy configuration that uses mostly-stock Falcon 9s.  It'll be a bit more entertaining getting all that hardware to work in reliable triplicate, especially the dual landing part, to say nothing of getting the core back on a very downrange barge--I don't see that ever doing a flyback.

--Damon
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 03/09/2016 06:17 AM

If Elon wants to go to Mars someone has to pay the bill and that someone is governments and comsat customers.
There's about one government payload that needs FH and they are not yet bidding for that one so FH is currently exclusively a comsat launcher. And in that heavy segment they are not that much cheaper than Ariane as they are on the smaller birds,
Need to close a business case for that one.

Besides Mars there is the DOD market. Gwynne Shotwell has promised in a Congress Hearing that Falcon Heavy will be ready and certified by 2018. And even if Mars is their primary driver, Elon Musk really, really wants to have the ability to fly the full range of DOD payloads, if only to take the argument from ULA that he can't.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 06:22 AM

If Elon wants to go to Mars someone has to pay the bill and that someone is governments and comsat customers.
There's about one government payload that needs FH and they are not yet bidding for that one so FH is currently exclusively a comsat launcher. And in that heavy segment they are not that much cheaper than Ariane as they are on the smaller birds,
Need to close a business case for that one.

Besides Mars there is the DOD market. Gwynne Shotwell has promised in a Congress Hearing that Falcon Heavy will be ready and certified by 2018. And even if Mars is their primary driver, Elon Musk really, really wants to have the ability to fly the full range of DOD payloads, if only to take the argument from ULA that he can't.

Sure, I said that.
But still, even if they are able to compete and win flights of that DIVH payload we're still talking 202x for an actual flight and 2017/18 for an FH demo flight. Not really urgent all of that is...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 03/09/2016 06:26 AM
Besides Mars there is the DOD market. Gwynne Shotwell has promised in a Congress Hearing that Falcon Heavy will be ready and certified by 2018. And even if Mars is their primary driver, Elon Musk really, really wants to have the ability to fly the full range of DOD payloads, if only to take the argument from ULA that he can't.

Sure, I said that.
But still, even if they are able to compete and win flights of that DIVH payload we're still talking 202x for an actual flight and 2017/18 for an FH demo flight. Not really urgent all of that is...

To be certified in 2018 they need to fly this year. Or maybe very early next year and then two more flights in quick succession after that.

Edit: And they need to be certified in 2018 to fly DOD payloads in 2020 or 21.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 06:30 AM
Ah, forget about that. DOD wants to save money, too and Vulcan which is the likely competitor will not have flown by '18 as well. I'm pretty sure DOD would let them bid if they have flown at least once and opened the books and commit to do whatever level of certification DOD requires before the flight.
Let's remember they are having an existing customer relationship by then, it's not like last year when they were barely able to tell the actual configuration of the LV they were planning to bid.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/09/2016 01:36 PM
Uh huh....A single engine per core FH?! Raptor?

Duh...mounting posts. Whew!

https://twitter.com/MarcusReports/status/707259146513616897

@MarcusReports
Walking around the exhibit hall at #satellite2016. https://t.co/1TuHi13WYi
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rpapo on 03/09/2016 01:38 PM
Uh huh....A single engine per core FH?! Raptor?
Look closer.  What appears to be engines at first are simply the model's mounting posts.  Around them you can see the normal Merlins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 01:55 PM
Who says they'd waste hundreds of millions of dollars?

Well, "waste" is of course a question of perspective but to do meaningful research 2018 is too short a timing and an FH flight plus a payload to Mars plus mission control plus comms towards Mars will certainly cost a few hundred million $$$
Reused Falcon Heavy flying a reused Dragon with a payload that they might be able to get NASA to pay for, and perhaps even qualifying some upgrade to Falcon Heavy (in which case they would have to pay for the launch anyway or at least offer a ridiculously steep discount)... And what makes you think they would start working on it /now/? If SpaceX is interested in 2018, they'd ALREADY have been working on this.

SpaceX still has two DragonLab missions on the book (which I've been told they haven't given up on, yet), and they were planning to basically self-fund those. It'd make more sense to send one of them to Mars instead.

In spite of their early openness, SpaceX has several secret projects which they haven't publicized. They may have been working towards a 2018 mission for years.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 03/09/2016 02:01 PM
I'm pretty sure they must be somewhat short on development resources (that's always your bottleneck in growth scenarios since you can't scale it at will) so they will have to prioritize and FH, Raptor, crew Dragon, the sat activities... a lot going on.

I agree that development resources are constrained, but it works in the other direction, too: once you've hired "the best" engineers in XYZ field for $$$, you have to keep them busy.  Many of the development projects you mention have non-overlapping skill sets.

For example, the propulsion/big rocket engine guys were clearly working on "full thrust" Merlin as a priority.  Now that that work seems to be winding down, I'd expect them to start working on Raptor --- not Falcon Heavy, since the octoweb side of FH is pretty much "done", and not the commsat project or Dragon, etc. (A gross simplification to be sure, but we're talking "cumulative # of propulsion engineer hours" here, not "# of tasks".).

The bottlenecks are probably at MacGregor and LC-39A, not any of the other development projects you listed.  It will indeed be interesting to see how FH testing in squeezed in at MacGregor amongst their other contracted commercial and NASA F9 work.  At LC-39A, the tension seems to only be between crew Dragon (which needs some pad facilities constructed) and FH.  Recent work there seems to indicate that FH is what they are working on currently: they are installing rainbirds at the pad for FH, not dismantling the RSS or constructing the crew access tower.  Of course, there may be other logistical/scheduling reasons for doing the work in that order.

But based on visible evidence, the only place we can see FH taking a back seat to other work right now is at MacGregor.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 02:19 PM
Reused Falcon Heavy flying a reused Dragon with a payload that they might be able to get NASA to pay for
Reused FH should be worth as much as a new one.
Reused Drageon: sure, or a used Ford Explorer or a bag of stones, doesn't matter if you want to throw dead weight towards Mars. Because that's what a "reused Dragon" would be once you leave LEO. No means of communication, electronics which probably won't survive the trip, too little power supply to work at Mars, no means of navigation...

And where's NASA's budget position for the payload, where is the payload (these things take time to develop) and then which payload do you want to fly on a dead spacecraft?

No, SpaceX is not going to Mars in '18.

Quote
And what makes you think they would start working on it /now/? If SpaceX is interested in 2018, they'd ALREADY have been working on this.
I have written that. It's the whole point of my argument: I think they are working on so many things in parallel that they have to prioritize and you can clearly see that FH is taking the hit in this, schedule wise. Now, of course you could prioritize a Mars payload at the expense of getting FH ready even later but the sense behind this would be what again?

Quote
SpaceX still has two DragonLab missions on the book (which I've been told they haven't given up on, yet), and they were planning to basically self-fund those. It'd make more sense to send one of them to Mars instead.
But cost much more money. New power supply, new electronics, new comms. And what communication network do they use back on earth to talk to that Dragon? DSN? Or do they build their own dishes? Another new development effort for high-power laser comm?
How do you navigate? Dragon uses GPS, last time I looked there was no GPS on the way to Mars.

I mean... LEO is sooooooo simple. All that infrastructure you use on earth still works there. Nothing of that will work on your way to Mars, you essentially start from scratch.

Quote
In spite of their early openness, SpaceX has several secret projects which they haven't publicized. They may have been working towards a 2018 mission for years.

Sure. And with their usual delay factor of 2.54 that would then mean then that they're going to launch some times in the early 30s....
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 02:27 PM
Power and electronics are both sufficient, actually. Yup, they are. You get twice the sunlight in free space a you do in LEO, compensating for the fact that you're more distant. And the electronics have sufficient redundancy to work in the somewhat higher (but, let's be clear, NOT drastically higher) radiation environment of deep space, especially if they use the crewed variant which adds another whole string. Only comms would need updating. And they'll need to do that soon anyway. "Bag of stones" is ignorant hyperbole.

You will see Falcon Heavy soon, I will bet you money.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 02:42 PM
And the electronics have sufficient redundancy to work in the somewhat higher (but, let's be clear, NOT drastically higher) radiation environment of deep space
Do you know that? Source? Or is this speculation?
It will also have to actually work independently for much longer than in LEO and in a colder environment.

Quote
You will see Falcon Heavy soon, I will bet you money.
How soon? What does "see" mean? Fly or just see? How much money? I don't believe we're going to see it fly in '16, I would not bet against it flying in '17.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 03:02 PM
 Would you even take 2:1 odds against it flying in 2016? I think it has at least a 50:50 chance of flying this year, so I would definitely take the other side of that bet.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 03:09 PM
And the electronics have sufficient redundancy to work in the somewhat higher (but, let's be clear, NOT drastically higher) radiation environment of deep space
Do you know that? Source? Or is this speculation?
It will also have to actually work independently for much longer than in LEO and in a colder environment.

...
Yes. Deep space is only about 2x the radiation of ISS, and Dragon has had few problems there. We have characterized the deep space radiation environment quite well, and Dragon is already capable of 2 year flights in LEO. Thermal control wouldn't be a challenge as Dragon already has the capability to actively moderate its thermal capability. Additionally, Dragon would not be shielded by the Earth half the time being in total darkness, so in some ways the thermal environment would be more benign (less hot and less cold!) for a trip to Mars than in LEO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: raketa on 03/09/2016 03:19 PM
Reused Falcon Heavy flying a reused Dragon with a payload that they might be able to get NASA to pay for
Reused FH should be worth as much as a new one.
Reused Drageon: sure, or a used Ford Explorer or a bag of stones, doesn't matter if you want to throw dead weight towards Mars. Because that's what a "reused Dragon" would be once you leave LEO. No means of communication, electronics which probably won't survive the trip, too little power supply to work at Mars, no means of navigation...

And where's NASA's budget position for the payload, where is the payload (these things take time to develop) and then which payload do you want to fly on a dead spacecraft?

No, SpaceX is not going to Mars in '18.

Quote
And what makes you think they would start working on it /now/? If SpaceX is interested in 2018, they'd ALREADY have been working on this.
I have written that. It's the whole point of my argument: I think they are working on so many things in parallel that they have to prioritize and you can clearly see that FH is taking the hit in this, schedule wise. Now, of course you could prioritize a Mars payload at the expense of getting FH ready even later but the sense behind this would be what again?

Quote
SpaceX still has two DragonLab missions on the book (which I've been told they haven't given up on, yet), and they were planning to basically self-fund those. It'd make more sense to send one of them to Mars instead.
But cost much more money. New power supply, new electronics, new comms. And what communication network do they use back on earth to talk to that Dragon? DSN? Or do they build their own dishes? Another new development effort for high-power laser comm?
How do you navigate? Dragon uses GPS, last time I looked there was no GPS on the way to Mars.

I mean... LEO is sooooooo simple. All that infrastructure you use on earth still works there. Nothing of that will work on your way to Mars, you essentially start from scratch.

Quote
In spite of their early openness, SpaceX has several secret projects which they haven't publicized. They may have been working towards a 2018 mission for years.

Sure. And with their usual delay factor of 2.54 that would then mean then that they're going to launch some times in the early 30s....
Spacex is not NASA, they are working actually do something on Mars in near future. But they focus now on reusability. When it is  nailed done and lot spare first stages will be around, they will start test their hardware on Moon and every 2 years on Mars.
Their experience on power landing stages and Dragons give them heads up for some serious business and test on Moon and Mars and opportunity to start build supply pile on Mars.
It tooks them 12 years to perfect their launch system. I think it will take them less time to perfect their Mars launch systems.
I think 2024-2028 is reasonable time for their Mars landing.
But Falcon 9H could start to do initial test in 1-2 years on Moon or Mars. Think about modify falcon 9  second stage with legs could start to test landing on Moon pretty soon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 04:52 PM
Additionally, Dragon would not be shielded by the Earth half the time being in total darkness, so in some ways the thermal environment would be more benign (less hot and less cold!) for a trip to Mars than in LEO.
The earth still emits IR on the dark side which is quite significant an effect in LEO.

Radiation "only" about 2x higher and Dragon having "almost" no issues and _theoretically_ being able to work for an extended time all doesn't mean this is all going to have no effect and not being an issues. Reality has this nasty habit of showing you that your assumptions are wrong if you haven't designed/tested for a certain environment.

I'm not saying any of these deep-space issues are not solvable. It's just that this is not "just a re-used Dragon". This needs work.
Plus you didn't yet address the nav and comms issues. That, too, is all solved problems but it's again not "just a used Dragon", it's all new vehicle systems.
Let's remember it's not the empty pressure shell where all the money and development effort for a spacecraft goes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 04:58 PM
Spacex is not NASA, they are working actually do something on Mars in near future. But they focus now on reusability. When it is  nailed done and lot spare first stages will be around, they will start test their hardware on Moon and every 2 years on Mars.
Their experience on power landing stages and Dragons give them heads up for some serious business and test on Moon and Mars and opportunity to start build supply pile on Mars.
It tooks them 12 years to perfect their launch system. I think it will take them less time to perfect their Mars launch systems.
I think 2024-2028 is reasonable time for their Mars landing.
But Falcon 9H could start to do initial test in 1-2 years on Moon or Mars. Think about modify falcon 9  second stage with legs could start to test landing on Moon pretty soon.
Yes, of course NASA is just a bunch of stupid people who do all this stuff they do for no reason.
If you are as smart as SpaceX, rockets all of a sudden become LEGOs and you can "just" plug stuff together at will. Why did nobody else have that idea earlier. Must all these spaceflight people be dumb...

Look, SpaceX is smarter than that. They hava a long term vision to motivate themselves (go to Mars) but what they actually do and focus their efforts at is
#1 get government contracts and do whatever NASA and DOD needs right now.
#2 get comsat revenue
#3 get into the sat business

That's all pretty business oriented topics and it determines their short and medium term priorities. FH is relevant for a small part of that market and since it's easy enough to build it from what they have they will certainly do that. But it's share in what SpaceX actually does is small enough that it's not the highest of their priorities. Which is probably why it got delayed even more than everything else SpaceX does.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 03/09/2016 05:45 PM
SpaceX is not NASA, but they are not sitting on their hands blindly following customer contracts either.  Both NASA and SpaceX engage in R & D. The long term goal of SpaceX is BEO and what better way to test BEO systems than to launch some test missions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 03/09/2016 06:12 PM
I see Falcon Heavy as using a used Falcon 9 core stage if they need to expend the core, and land the outer cores back at the launch site.  This would especially be true once they get used stages flying.  I can also see used stages with payloads of fuel or propellants, so that if there is a failure, it wouldn't be an expensive satellite or human cargo.  I think that is why Falcon Heavy will fly, not just for niche satellites to GSO, but to deliver large moon or Mars landers, and fuel to fuel depots.  Falcon 9 will launch most satellites and Dragon 2 with humans on new rockets, then the used rockets will roll over to Falcon Heavies mostly for fuel depot filling.  For a Falcon Heavy Mars expedition, they will have to have a fuel depot and a lot of fuel to fill the transfer, landing, and return crafts.  This could happen before BFR and MCT are built to test the scaled down equipment before final BFR and MCT are built and fine tuned. 

Also, moon, space stations at LEO or L1 can be built using Falcon Heavies and Bigelow modules.  So, maybe it is true, build it and they will come. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 03/09/2016 06:49 PM
Reused Falcon Heavy flying a reused Dragon with a payload that they might be able to get NASA to pay for
Reused FH should be worth as much as a new one.
Reused Drageon: sure, or a used Ford Explorer or a bag of stones, doesn't matter if you want to throw dead weight towards Mars. Because that's what a "reused Dragon" would be once you leave LEO. No means of communication, electronics which probably won't survive the trip, too little power supply to work at Mars, no means of navigation...

And where's NASA's budget position for the payload, where is the payload (these things take time to develop) and then which payload do you want to fly on a dead spacecraft?

No, SpaceX is not going to Mars in '18.

Quote
And what makes you think they would start working on it /now/? If SpaceX is interested in 2018, they'd ALREADY have been working on this.
I have written that. It's the whole point of my argument: I think they are working on so many things in parallel that they have to prioritize and you can clearly see that FH is taking the hit in this, schedule wise. Now, of course you could prioritize a Mars payload at the expense of getting FH ready even later but the sense behind this would be what again?

Quote
SpaceX still has two DragonLab missions on the book (which I've been told they haven't given up on, yet), and they were planning to basically self-fund those. It'd make more sense to send one of them to Mars instead.
But cost much more money. New power supply, new electronics, new comms. And what communication network do they use back on earth to talk to that Dragon? DSN? Or do they build their own dishes? Another new development effort for high-power laser comm?
How do you navigate? Dragon uses GPS, last time I looked there was no GPS on the way to Mars.

I mean... LEO is sooooooo simple. All that infrastructure you use on earth still works there. Nothing of that will work on your way to Mars, you essentially start from scratch.

Quote
In spite of their early openness, SpaceX has several secret projects which they haven't publicized. They may have been working towards a 2018 mission for years.

Sure. And with their usual delay factor of 2.54 that would then mean then that they're going to launch some times in the early 30s....

Where do you get this stuff?
Think you owe us a dozen or so IMOs. (IMHO)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/09/2016 07:21 PM
I simply want YOU to mark your opinion to market quantitatively.
80:20 for FH not successfully launching in 2016.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GWH on 03/09/2016 07:30 PM
I see Falcon Heavy as using a used Falcon 9 core stage if they need to expend the core, and land the outer cores back at the launch site. 

FYI the core of a FH isn't the same as a F9, I believe the primary difference is that it required additional reinforcement. 

Whether or not it would ever fly as a single stick for lighter payloads to amortize the cost before flying expendable is another matter, one that hasn't been hinted at in any way and isn't worth discussing at the moment IMO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mme on 03/09/2016 09:35 PM
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/707686842842353666 (https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/707686842842353666)
Quote
SpaceX's Shotwell: Falcon Heavy now expected to launch in November.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mader Levap on 03/09/2016 10:41 PM
Would you even take 2:1 odds against it flying in 2016? I think it has at least a 50:50 chance of flying this year, so I would definitely take the other side of that bet.
Currently it is slated to november 2016, according to SpaceX. It is their codeword for "middle of 2017".
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/09/2016 11:08 PM

Currently it is slated to november 2016, according to SpaceX. It is their codeword for "middle of 2017".

No it isn't, Mader. You don't work there, you don't know. Again, nobody has any incentive to lie in PR.

If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen due to evolving circumstances. Until then, what they tell their customers is the most valid info we have on the subject. Anything beyond that is conspiracy mongering.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/09/2016 11:54 PM
Every thing is a "no earlier than" date. Assuming you have a distribution of possible launch dates, and the NET date provides one of the bounds to that distribution, then it seems pretty obvious to me that MOST launches will occur /after/ the given NET date, and there's nothing dishonest about that.

To be clear: That would be the case with or without SpaceX's usually optimistic projections.

I will admit that a November date causes me to do some Bayesian updating.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: stoker5432 on 03/10/2016 12:28 AM
And the electronics have sufficient redundancy to work in the somewhat higher (but, let's be clear, NOT drastically higher) radiation environment of deep space
Do you know that? Source? Or is this speculation?
It will also have to actually work independently for much longer than in LEO and in a colder environment.

NASA and SpaceX figured out Dragon had "Sufficient lifetime & resources for Mars transfer trajectory" back in 2011.

http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2016 12:40 AM

NASA and SpaceX figured out Dragon had "Sufficient lifetime & resources for Mars transfer trajectory" back in 2011.

http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf

Dragon had only flown one mission at the time.  So not a really a given or valid source.  And the "NASA" people in the study are not the agency experts nor even the agency regulars for spacecraft development.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: stoker5432 on 03/10/2016 12:42 AM
Your welcome. I know Wikipedia is seen as an unreliable source, but there is entire page on Red Dragon with lots of NASA links.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 03/10/2016 12:44 AM

NASA and SpaceX figured out Dragon had "Sufficient lifetime & resources for Mars transfer trajectory" back in 2011.

http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf

Dragon had only flown one mission at the time.  So not a really a given or valid source.

NASA is figuring out that Orion and SLS have sufficient capabilities for future missions and they haven't flown once.
Why is it that requires a number of flights before potential mission analysis?
What is a given or valid source?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 03/10/2016 12:56 AM
Dragon had only flown one mission at the time.  So not a really a given or valid source.  And the "NASA" people in the study are not the agency experts nor even the agency regulars for spacecraft development.
And yet, this might be sufficient for SpaceX to think they could try it, whether it works or not.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2016 12:59 AM

NASA is figuring out that Orion and SLS have sufficient capabilities for future missions and they haven't flown once.


It is basic engineering.  One is designed for deep space missions and the other as in that paper was only designed for LEO missions.  They show no data in the paper to support their claims.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2016 01:00 AM
Right. The original thing I was contending was the idea that Dragon would be equivalent to a bag of stones (i.e. 100% probability of not working). While 5 sigma may or may not be guaranteed, it's certainly not guaranteed to fail, and there's good reason to believe Dragon has the resources to make a trip to Mars (other than some additions like deep space communications).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2016 01:00 AM

What is a given or valid source?

a NASA group that has designed and flown many spacecraft.  ARC is not that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: stoker5432 on 03/10/2016 01:10 AM

What is a given or valid source?

a NASA group that has designed and flown many spacecraft.  ARC is not that.

JPL thought it was a viable concept in 2012. Haven't seen anything changing their position. Have you?

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/pdf/4216.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lar on 03/10/2016 01:46 AM
I simply want YOU to mark your opinion to market quantitatively.
80:20 for FH not successfully launching in 2016.

Pippin, I was happy to let your concern trolling[1] just roll on by, but then you had to go and use the adjective LEGO in a sentence incorrectly. ("rockets all of a sudden become LEGOs ") Those are fighting words...

I'll take the other side of that bet, PM me with what currency you want to use. Ten dollars of LEGO elements against 40, perhaps? A six pack against a case? Or admit that it's idle talk and you're not willing to put up....

1 - that's how it reads to me anyway...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: stoker5432 on 03/10/2016 04:19 AM

NASA and SpaceX figured out Dragon had "Sufficient lifetime & resources for Mars transfer trajectory" back in 2011.

http://digitalvideo.8m.net/SpaceX/RedDragon/karcz-red_dragon-nac-2011-10-29-1.pdf

Dragon had only flown one mission at the time.  So not a really a given or valid source.  And the "NASA" people in the study are not the agency experts nor even the agency regulars for spacecraft development.

So we're going on five years and not one valid source that I can find has disputed JPL's, ARC's, or SpaceX's findings. In fact there's been even more research saying it will work. You've been giving the same argument since 2011. Seems like you should be able to give some solid info by now to prove them wrong.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/10/2016 04:30 AM

So we're going on five years and not one valid source that I can find has disputed JPL's, ARC's, or SpaceX's findings. In fact there's been even more research saying it will work. You've been giving the same argument since 2011. Seems like you should be able to give some solid info by now to prove them wrong.

What "more" research?   You keep referring to the same two papers over and over.  Spacex has been modifying their vehicles between each flight.    The Dragon (and Falcon for that matter too) referred too in those papers doesn't exist anymore.  So how could the concept have worked?  They had no idea of the changes needed?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dorkmo on 03/10/2016 04:57 AM
Since i love everybody, i feel like i should step in here and say we're talking about deep space design on the dragon in a falcon heavy discussion, wich should probably be in the spacex mars section. and that while both sides have valid points, we do not have hard evidence either way what the most current dragon is capable of.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: stoker5432 on 03/10/2016 05:36 AM
SpaceX has already said they plan to send Dragons to Mars with Falcon Heavy. Why would they launch a payload that's not capable of getting to its destination and waste a FH? Sure arguing about the time table seems logical, but doubting the capability of the payload, at least on this thread, doesn't.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dorkmo on 03/10/2016 05:47 AM
SpaceX has already said they plan to send Dragons to Mars with Falcon Heavy. Why would they launch a payload that's not capable of getting to its destination and waste a FH? Sure arguing about the time table seems logical, but doubting the capability of the payload, at least on this thread, doesn't.

I believe whatever design they end up launching to mars has a very good chance of having no problems. but being fair to jim there doesnt appear to have been an exhaustive study or critical design review type process to validate the original dragon for anything beyond LEO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2016 06:04 AM
We're talking about a CDR, now?? That's how far the goalposts have moved?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mader Levap on 03/10/2016 12:01 PM
Again, nobody has any incentive to lie in PR.
So what? They stated date of first FH launch multiple times. Each time it was replaced with new date. I do not see any reason to believe they will actually launch in nov 2016. I will believe that we start to get closer when their slips will be less than elapsed time. So far every 6 months it slips by 6 months.

To be clear, "their codeword" phrase was my sarcasm, not accusation of deliberate lie.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: pippin on 03/10/2016 12:22 PM
I simply want YOU to mark your opinion to market quantitatively.
80:20 for FH not successfully launching in 2016.

Pippin, I was happy to let your concern trolling[1] just roll on by, but then you had to go and use the adjective LEGO in a sentence incorrectly. ("rockets all of a sudden become LEGOs ") Those are fighting words...

I'll take the other side of that bet, PM me with what currency you want to use. Ten dollars of LEGO elements against 40, perhaps? A six pack against a case? Or admit that it's idle talk and you're not willing to put up....

1 - that's how it reads to me anyway...

Well, me believing in an 80:20 chance of FH not flying this year doesn't mean I'd bet at that quota, no sense in betting if your expected return is zero. You bet if both sides estimates differ in a way that both sides of spect to win, not one side expecting to even out.

But since I'm pretty convinced I'd byte at 2:1 so I'd offer a 20$ bag of LEGOs against your 10$ bag of LEGOs (or whatever useful $10 packs these bricks come in)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 03/10/2016 04:04 PM
Any thoughts on what the side booster separation mechanism is going to be on the FH? With SpaceX's fondness for pneumatic systems over explosive ones I was curious what folks thought. I can't imagine it would be anything other than explosive, but I don't think SpaceX has a ton of experience in that front.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 03/10/2016 04:27 PM
Any thoughts on what the side booster separation mechanism is going to be on the FH? With SpaceX's fondness for pneumatic systems over explosive ones I was curious what folks thought. I can't imagine it would be anything other than explosive, but I don't think SpaceX has a ton of experience in that front.

What about pneumatic at the connectors and cold gas thrusters at the top to ensure that the tops of side boosters are moving away from the centre core. note that the centre core's engines will not be shut down for separation and from a practical point of view while I think the side boosters must shutdown at or just before separation, if something happened that they didn't shut down, I think having the top of the booster thrust away from the centre core simply makes sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/10/2016 04:46 PM
No way SpaceX would use explosive separation as the nominal separation method. See the latest Falcon Heavy video.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 03/11/2016 06:15 PM
I hope this isn't the wrong thread for this, Instagram post may show Falcon Heavy nose cone! Sloppy paint?

Enjoy, Matthew

Edit, What is the large straight barrel next to it? Composite interstage? Seems too long.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: russianhalo117 on 03/11/2016 06:29 PM
I hope this isn't the wrong thread for this, Instagram post may show Falcon Heavy nose cone! Sloppy paint?

Enjoy, Matthew

Edit, What is the large straight barrel next to it? Composite interstage? Seems too long.

Composite Interstage is likely yes as there are more behind it and the interstage in some graphics in the last year show it a bit longer for FH than F9.
Now if this is for the demo flight it could also be the dummy payload SpaceX is flying on first flight, but I haven't yet seen any info/pictures confirming that theory.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/11/2016 06:29 PM
Source?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 03/11/2016 06:29 PM
Nice!
Looks like two fairing sizes, too, unless it is just the view angle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 03/11/2016 06:33 PM
Source?

SpaceX posted it on their Facebook page.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 03/11/2016 06:35 PM
So much in this picture. I think the fairing section in the foreground is above a robot on a track, perhaps for installing the insulation panels? Eutelsat-117 fairing painted and ready to go in the background. I think the fairing halves are the same size, one is just closer to the camera, and higher off the ground.

Enjoy, Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: docmordrid on 03/11/2016 06:38 PM
Could be the perspective and/or a wide angle lens. Maybe my old eyes. ISTR we've heard rumors of a longer fairing for Bigelow habs, but ISTM some military birds may need one too. Any input Jim?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Craftyatom on 03/12/2016 03:17 AM
The painted interstage that's horizontal behind the unpainted one has obvious holes for grid fins.  Not sure if I'm just not seeing the holes on the unpainted one, if the holes are added later in the process (seems unlikely but composites are not my strong point), or if maybe this new interstage is for a core that won't be equipped with fins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/12/2016 09:58 AM
So much in this picture. I think the fairing section in the foreground is above a robot on a track, perhaps for installing the insulation panels?

How about just for trimming the edges.  Insulation is installed at the launch site.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/12/2016 09:59 AM
Could be the perspective and/or a wide angle lens. Maybe my old eyes. ISTR we've heard rumors of a longer fairing for Bigelow habs, but ISTM some military birds may need one too. Any input Jim?

I think it is just camera perspective.  There is only one length.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: obi-wan on 03/12/2016 02:35 PM
So much in this picture. I think the fairing section in the foreground is above a robot on a track, perhaps for installing the insulation panels?

How about just for trimming the edges.  Insulation is installed at the launch site.

It's actually an inspection system - there's a large C-shaped fixture on the end of an industrial robot arm that scans the entire surface of the fairing, most likely looking for internal delaminations.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AndersofOz on 03/13/2016 01:17 AM
Article in the Register citing Gwynn Shotwell saying the FH launch will be in November.

There is also some interesting information on reuse costs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/11/spacex_first_falcon_heavy_liftoff/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RyanC on 03/13/2016 03:37 PM
Nobody has any proof that they're deliberately flat-out delaying. More likely that they keep iterating upgrades which cause them to change FH's design slightly, but the pressure is on now. It will fly this year.

IMHO, 2016 is the critical year for Falcon Heavy for SpaceX. ED: They essentially need to get a complete set of flight hardware out the door by 31 Dec 2016.

The international launch market is not like the market for Virgin Galactic's SS2.

VG's market is basically really rich people who can afford to plop down $250K and have it tied up for most of a decade, and then hire decent lawyers to get *most* of it back if they ask for a refund.

Basically, the same guys who can afford to buy $745,000 to $1.5 million USD boats and then use them a few days each year.

By contrast (forgive me for a quick and dirty wiki-ing spree); the international launch market as presently configured is a lot more inflexible; satellites that sit on the ground due to delays (Proton/Briz-M failures, etc) cost the owner a lot of money each year to maintain them in flight-ready condition.

With only 20 to 30 launches a year and lead times of 36 months (3 years) for GEO launches (based upon INMARSAT-5 series, where the satellites were ordered August 2010, Launch provider contracted August 2011 and the first mission flown August 2013); the games that Virgin Galactic and to a lesser extent SpaceX is doing with Elon Time [tm] aren't capable of being sustained like they are in the tourism market.

Following is my speculation:

The vendors are willing to accomodate delays from new entrants into the market and from existing companies in order to retire risk, as a failed launch can cause significant delays of up to 24+ months in launch campaigns; costing them a lot of money.

With that said, the vendors are constrained by their existing satellite constellations aging out and business plans for expansion through more satellites; so they can't wait forever for the launch providers to be ready.

INMARSAT's booking of the Proton for Europasat/Hellas-sat 3 as a backup to Falcon Heavy is essentially the closest you're going to get to a public message to SpaceX to stop getting diverted by various items (Falcon 9 Recovery, Raptor, Dragon 2, MCT) and put manpower into Falcon Heavy to bring 'Elon Time' closer to real time.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/13/2016 04:28 PM
The delays to Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 meant enormous upgrades to Falcon 9 (and ultimately Falcon Heavy). Nearly all of the GEO birds launched by Falcon 9 so far would've needed a Falcon Heavy if SpaceX had skipped Merlin 1D and v1.1 and full thrust, etc.... Falcon 9 full thrust expendable gets about 60-75% of the payload to GTO as the original Falcon 9 Heavy would've.

But anyway, Falcon Heavy will definitely be "out the door" of Hawthorne by the end of this year. Actually MUCH earlier than that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 03/13/2016 04:32 PM
Nobody has any proof that they're deliberately flat-out delaying. More likely that they keep iterating upgrades which cause them to change FH's design slightly, but the pressure is on now. It will fly this year.

IMHO, 2016 is the critical year for Falcon Heavy for SpaceX. ED: They essentially need to get a complete set of flight hardware out the door by 31 Dec 2016.

That's not saying much. EVERY YEAR is a critical year for SpaceX.

And even more critically for people on this forum, it seems.  People said it about 2015. (and before) And the same will be written about 2017. :P
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RocketmanUS on 03/13/2016 05:12 PM
Article in the Register citing Gwynn Shotwell saying the FH launch will be in November.

There is also some interesting information on reuse costs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/11/spacex_first_falcon_heavy_liftoff/
So from that article would a core cost about $20M?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/13/2016 11:11 PM
Article in the Register citing Gwynn Shotwell saying the FH launch will be in November.

There is also some interesting information on reuse costs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/11/spacex_first_falcon_heavy_liftoff/
So from that article would a core cost about $20M?
Not that simple.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RocketmanUS on 03/13/2016 11:26 PM
Article in the Register citing Gwynn Shotwell saying the FH launch will be in November.

There is also some interesting information on reuse costs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/11/spacex_first_falcon_heavy_liftoff/
So from that article would a core cost about $20M?
Not that simple.
I don't think they would be cutting into their profit on a first reuse flight.
What is your estimate for a core stage?
What do you estimate from the info on the article for reuse cost?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 03/14/2016 12:10 AM
Article in the Register citing Gwynn Shotwell saying the FH launch will be in November.

There is also some interesting information on reuse costs.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/11/spacex_first_falcon_heavy_liftoff/
So from that article would a core cost about $20M?
Not that simple.
I don't think they would be cutting into their profit on a first reuse flight.
What is your estimate for a core stage?
What do you estimate from the info on the article for reuse cost?
The equation goes something like this:

[Cost of a new 1st stage] - $3M[the refurbishment costs] = [The cost savings/price reduction per flight before profit add on]

If profit is 20% which is fairly standard in the LV providers business, then the cost of the 1st stage is $19M. This is because the profit associated with dropping the price $20M is $4M leaving a cost before profit reduction of $16M. Add the $3M refurbishment costs and that gets you $19M. If profit is 10% then the profit associated with the $20M price reduction is $2M so $18M + the $3M yeilds a stage cost of $21M.

So yes about $20M for a 1st stage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/14/2016 02:25 AM
Except maybe they keep profit constant (not relative, i.e. 20%), or even increase profit in order to "pay back" all that money they spent getting the bugs out of reusability. I mean, how many parachutes, legs, and fins did they dump into the ocean trying to get all this to work? They can use that extra money to pay for their next reusability project, which is the upper stage, which will be a lot harder.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 03/14/2016 02:31 AM
Except maybe they keep profit constant (not relative, i.e. 20%), or even increase profit in order to "pay back" all that money they spent getting the bugs out of reusability. I mean, how many parachutes, legs, and fins did they dump into the ocean trying to get all this to work? They can use that extra money to pay for their next reusability project, which is the upper stage, which will be a lot harder.

Exactly. When a manufacturer finds a cheaper way to do something there is no obligation not to just keep the extra profit. If it is something that make a product obviously cheaper, then maybe they reduce the price due to the perceived reduction in value, but even then it should be for higher overall profit. If you cut manufacturing costs 20% and then reduce your price 20% you just lowered your profit for no reason.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mike_1179 on 03/14/2016 11:49 AM

If you cut manufacturing costs 20% and then reduce your price 20% you just lowered your profit for no reason.

Unless you're trying to gain market share from competition. The expectation is that at some point in the future, when you have more customers since you gained share, you then increase price to reap the benefit. But this isn't a normal business.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RyanC on 03/14/2016 07:14 PM
That's not saying much. EVERY YEAR is a critical year for SpaceX.

Well, maybe I was prone to some hyperbole; but this year is critical to their long term plans.

If they want to break into the lucrative heavy commercial GEO market as well as the mega-lucrative DOD market to fund their future mars ambitions (MCT, Raptor, etc); FH needs to come out sometime this year (*) to:

A.) reassure the early customers of FH that yes, this is coming. There's already some sign of shakiness with one FH initial mission being rebooked to a different provider and another mission acquiring a backup Plan B.

B.) Put something concrete out there so that operators can be reassured that FH will be operational approximately 36~ months from now so they can start being serious about signing launch contracts for that period -- providing SpX with cash inflows and prestige.

C.) Start gaining flight experience with FH in order to be ready for the GPS 3 launch in 2018 and thus opening up the DOD Market.

(* -- Rollout, not actual launch. The actual launch can slip into early winter 2017, due to unforeseen difficulties without ill effects).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 03/15/2016 01:01 AM
That's not saying much. EVERY YEAR is a critical year for SpaceX.

Well, maybe I was prone to some hyperbole; but this year is critical to their long term plans.

If they want to break into the lucrative heavy commercial GEO market as well as the mega-lucrative DOD market to fund their future mars ambitions (MCT, Raptor, etc); FH needs to come out sometime this year (*) to:
...[snip]...
(* -- Rollout, not actual launch. The actual launch can slip into early winter 2017, due to unforeseen difficulties without ill effects).

But it still is a meaningless statement. If they fail to get FH out this year, 2017 will be even more critical. And so on. None of your supporting arguments are limited to this year only.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 03/15/2016 03:27 AM
Here's a quote being attributed to Gwen Shotwell at Jeff Foust's site regarding FH:
http://thespacereview.com/article/2943/1 (http://thespacereview.com/article/2943/1)

“The Falcon Heavy is delayed, but we haven’t disappointed any customers yet on that,”

I don't seem much positive in this statement.  It is primarily a tacit recognition of the low priority FH has not only by SpaceX, but also to potential customers.   The fact that they communicate to the SpaceX president that FH delays are of no concern to them implies that they don't plan on buying the rocket, or that any contracts are sufficiently far enough into the future that current delays don't matter.

Either way, the end result is likely to be that FH will rarely, if ever fly. Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but when your customers don't care about your product that is delayed some 3 years, what does it really mean?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RocketGoBoom on 03/15/2016 05:19 AM

Either way, the end result is likely to be that FH will rarely, if ever fly. Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but when your customers don't care about your product that is delayed some 3 years, what does it really mean?

Delta Heavy averages less than 1 launch per year.

There are not many payloads that even need the Delta Heavy lift capacity.

So everyone that is a possible customer for Falcon Heavy is thrilled that there is even a new option coming at any point in the future. This is a rare beast that is being created.

Everyone in the market understands the complexity of what is being done here.
They care, but they also get it.

Let's face it, anyone that signs a contract for a rocket that has never flown has to have some reasonable expectations that it ain't going to be on schedule. That has to be the most speculative contract possible in this business, especially with Elon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Coastal Ron on 03/15/2016 05:39 AM
It is primarily a tacit recognition of the low priority FH has not only by SpaceX, but also to potential customers.

It has not been a higher priority than Falcon 9, which it is based on.  That is true.

Quote
Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but when your customers don't care about your product that is delayed some 3 years, what does it really mean?

That they didn't need the Falcon Heavy yet?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 03/15/2016 06:05 AM

Either way, the end result is likely to be that FH will rarely, if ever fly. Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but when your customers don't care about your product that is delayed some 3 years, what does it really mean?

Delta Heavy averages less than 1 launch per year.

There are not many payloads that even need the Delta Heavy lift capacity.

The main competition is Ariane V, (and mabe also heavier models of atlas v), not so much delta iv.

For example, during 2016 Ariane V has launched EUtelsat 65 west a and intelsat 29.  At about 6.5 tonnes weight Ariane V was the cheapest launcher that could launch them(only other available options being delta ivh, atlas v with at last 3 SRBs and H-IIB, they were too heavy even for proton), and F-H will be cheaper than any of these. (though a future version of F9 with expendable methane upper stage could propably also launch them, but that will be many years later than F-H).

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jet Black on 03/15/2016 09:32 AM
Here's a quote being attributed to Gwen Shotwell at Jeff Foust's site regarding FH:
http://thespacereview.com/article/2943/1 (http://thespacereview.com/article/2943/1)

“The Falcon Heavy is delayed, but we haven’t disappointed any customers yet on that,”

I don't seem much positive in this statement.  It is primarily a tacit recognition of the low priority FH has not only by SpaceX, but also to potential customers.   The fact that they communicate to the SpaceX president that FH delays are of no concern to them implies that they don't plan on buying the rocket, or that any contracts are sufficiently far enough into the future that current delays don't matter.

Either way, the end result is likely to be that FH will rarely, if ever fly. Maybe I'm being overly skeptical, but when your customers don't care about your product that is delayed some 3 years, what does it really mean?

Not necessarily. It may well allow some customers that would be forced to operate in expendable mode to operate in a reuse mode, reducing costs. I doubt any customers are yet factoring the reduced costs of reuse into their financial calculations. Additionally the market may be there, but either currently served by other launchers or alternatively it might be a market in waiting, because there are no suitable launchers yet (in terms of weight and cost)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/15/2016 11:31 AM
Falcon 9 Full Thrust can launch ~60-75% of the payload of the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy and double the original Falcon 9 when first announced. That means that most of the payloads that would've required a Heavy now can be launched on Falcon 9, and if you sacrifice a few months to boosting using SEP, even more satellites fit on Falcon 9.

However, it's false to conclude Falcon Heavy will never fly or only do so rarely.

The delay to Falcon Heavy is kind of good, since it allows the performance and reliability of Merlin and the stages to be improved to the point that now we can expect fairly good reliability in spite of all those engines and stages.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/15/2016 11:57 AM
Falcon 9 Full Thrust can launch ~60-75% of the payload of the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy and double the original Falcon 9 when first announced. That means that most of the payloads that would've required a Heavy now can be launched on Falcon 9, and if you sacrifice a few months to boosting using SEP, even more satellites fit on Falcon 9.

However, it's false to conclude Falcon Heavy will never fly or only do so rarely.

The delay to Falcon Heavy is kind of good, since it allows the performance and reliability of Merlin and the stages to be improved to the point that now we can expect fairly good reliability in spite of all those engines and stages.

Coupled to that, it means the heavy in full thrust iteration will be a considerably more formidable rocket than it's original incarnation as well. Sure, it's not a superheavy LV, but it's an intermediary between SLS/BFR/Saturn/Energia range and every other payload range out there, and a considerably less expensive alternative to any of the listed heavy LVs.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: RDoc on 03/15/2016 12:22 PM
As has been mentioned before, the real point to FH may be reuse, in particular second stage and fairing reuse. The extra performance may also help with the first stages' recovery since it potentially makes more fuel available for landing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: AncientU on 03/15/2016 01:23 PM
Falcon 9 Full Thrust can launch ~60-75% of the payload of the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy and double the original Falcon 9 when first announced. That means that most of the payloads that would've required a Heavy now can be launched on Falcon 9, and if you sacrifice a few months to boosting using SEP, even more satellites fit on Falcon 9.

However, it's false to conclude Falcon Heavy will never fly or only do so rarely.

The delay to Falcon Heavy is kind of good, since it allows the performance and reliability of Merlin and the stages to be improved to the point that now we can expect fairly good reliability in spite of all those engines and stages.

Coupled to that, it means the heavy in full thrust iteration will be a considerably more formidable rocket than it's original incarnation as well. Sure, it's not a superheavy LV, but it's an intermediary between SLS/BFR/Saturn/Energia range and every other payload range out there, and a considerably less expensive alternative to any of the listed heavy LVs.

I thought super-heavy was defined as greater than 50 tonnes to LEO (assuming expendable).  Some calculations show FH at greater than 70 tonnes to LEO, expendable.  It is still a heavy when three cores are recovered if heavy is defined as 20-50 tonnes.  (F9 FT is also a heavy lift vehicle by this definition.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: drzerg on 03/15/2016 06:31 PM
what payload is planned for first heavy? or just waste 50t to leo?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: The Amazing Catstronaut on 03/15/2016 06:49 PM

I thought super-heavy was defined as greater than 50 tonnes to LEO (assuming expendable).  Some calculations show FH at greater than 70 tonnes to LEO, expendable.  It is still a heavy when three cores are recovered if heavy is defined as 20-50 tonnes.  (F9 FT is also a heavy lift vehicle by this definition.)

Definition is sketchy at best according to the uses I've seen here (somebody who knows better please correct me). I'm not even sure if there is an industry standard for this weight class.

Since I imagine F9HR is the primary iteration we're going to see the heavy take, I'm using its theoretical maximum for three core recovery, not expendable.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: hkultala on 03/15/2016 07:00 PM
Falcon 9 Full Thrust can launch ~60-75% of the payload of the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy and double the original Falcon 9 when first announced. That means that most of the payloads that would've required a Heavy now can be launched on Falcon 9, and if you sacrifice a few months to boosting using SEP, even more satellites fit on Falcon 9.

However, it's false to conclude Falcon Heavy will never fly or only do so rarely.

The delay to Falcon Heavy is kind of good, since it allows the performance and reliability of Merlin and the stages to be improved to the point that now we can expect fairly good reliability in spite of all those engines and stages.

Coupled to that, it means the heavy in full thrust iteration will be a considerably more formidable rocket than it's original incarnation as well. Sure, it's not a superheavy LV, but it's an intermediary between SLS/BFR/Saturn/Energia range and every other payload range out there, and a considerably less expensive alternative to any of the listed heavy LVs.

I thought super-heavy was defined as greater than 50 tonnes to LEO (assuming expendable).  Some calculations show FH at greater than 70 tonnes to LEO, expendable.

These calculations were based on broken assumptions and/or version of FH that will not materialize(cross-feed)

Quote
It is still a heavy when three cores are recovered if heavy is defined as 20-50 tonnes.  (F9 FT is also a heavy lift vehicle by this definition.)

No it's not, it cannot lift 20 tonnes to LEO.

And the original definition of Heavy was much more than 20 tonnes, the definition has changed (when the EELV's came?)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 03/15/2016 09:55 PM
Quote
No it's not, it cannot lift 20 tonnes to LEO.

You really dont think a 3 core recovery FH wont be able to lift 20 mt to LEO?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 03/15/2016 10:17 PM
Quote
No it's not, it cannot lift 20 tonnes to LEO.

You really dont think a 3 core recovery FH wont be able to lift 20 mt to LEO?

I beleive the "no it's not" was in response to the F9FT being also considered a "heavy" launcher. Not disputing the FHR would be able to do 20t
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: matthewkantar on 03/15/2016 10:23 PM
Spacex's web site gives 10,692 pounds to Geo, recently did 11,596 pounds with a landing attempt. Same page gives 28,991 pounds to LEO.

Matthew

Edit: These figures are for Falcon-9
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 03/15/2016 10:32 PM
Spacex's web site gives 10,692 pounds to Geo, recently did 11,596 pounds with a landing attempt. Same page gives 28,991 pounds to LEO.

Right. Which is substantially less than 20 metric tons.

(I presume you are referring to F9FT, not FH - you didn't specify.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/15/2016 10:45 PM
Falcon 9 Full Thrust can launch ~60-75% of the payload of the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy and double the original Falcon 9 when first announced. That means that most of the payloads that would've required a Heavy now can be launched on Falcon 9, and if you sacrifice a few months to boosting using SEP, even more satellites fit on Falcon 9.

However, it's false to conclude Falcon Heavy will never fly or only do so rarely.

The delay to Falcon Heavy is kind of good, since it allows the performance and reliability of Merlin and the stages to be improved to the point that now we can expect fairly good reliability in spite of all those engines and stages.

Coupled to that, it means the heavy in full thrust iteration will be a considerably more formidable rocket than it's original incarnation as well. Sure, it's not a superheavy LV, but it's an intermediary between SLS/BFR/Saturn/Energia range and every other payload range out there, and a considerably less expensive alternative to any of the listed heavy LVs.

I thought super-heavy was defined as greater than 50 tonnes to LEO (assuming expendable).  Some calculations show FH at greater than 70 tonnes to LEO, expendable.

These calculations were based on broken assumptions and/or version of FH that will not materialize(cross-feed)
A few things in here are false. No one has said crossfeed WON'T happen, just that it has been delayed and densification and full thrust make it unnecessary to achieve the necessary performance. Shotwell said it'd be needed if you need like a 60 ton payload. It is most definitely still on the table.

The 70 tons may also need a Raptor upper stage.

In any case, even the 53 ton Falcon Heavy performance is in excess of Shuttle C Phase I.
Quote
Quote
It is still a heavy when three cores are recovered if heavy is defined as 20-50 tonnes.  (F9 FT is also a heavy lift vehicle by this definition.)

No it's not, it cannot lift 20 tonnes to LEO.
It may, in full thrust mode to low inclination and altitude. With Raptor upper stage it almost certainly can. Heck, if fully expendable with Raptor upper stage, it probably can do the 25 tons that the original Falcon 9 S9 Heavy was slated for.

Quote
And the original definition of Heavy was much more than 20 tonnes, the definition has changed (when the EELV's came?)
Proton, Titan IV H, etc were also considered heavy. Maybe even Saturn IB. Saturn V is super heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/15/2016 10:51 PM
Spacex's web site gives 10,692 pounds to Geo, recently did 11,596 pounds with a landing attempt. Same page gives 28,991 pounds to LEO.

Right. Which is substantially less than 20 metric tons.

(I presume you are referring to F9FT, not FH - you didn't specify.
Wooosh!

His point was that the SpaceX page info (which gives substantially less than 20 tons) is significantly sandbagged.

For example, http://elvperf.ksc.nasa.gov/ gives v1.1 performance ("believed to be conservative", and includes weight of the fairing and launch from LC-40... from Texas would have slightly more performance) of 16,625kg to 200km and 28.5 degrees. If Full thrust gets 20% more performance, then you're talking 20 metric tons. Most certainly with Raptor. Either way, it's quite close to 20 tons.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: OxCartMark on 03/18/2016 02:49 AM
NASA Tech Briefs: Autonomous Flight Termination System

We all know that autonomous flight termination systems are coming.  This link gives some information (though mostly informationless information).  I couldn't find a more reasonable place in NSF to post this.  Putting it here because the article states "AFTS is necessary to support vehicles that have multiple flyback boosters."  I sat back a while and thought through how many vehicles I was aware of that have multiply flyback boosters and came to the conclusion to post here.

http://www.techbriefs.com/component/content/article/8-ntb/tech-briefs/machinery-and-automation/24084-ksc-13978


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Kabloona on 03/18/2016 03:25 AM
NASA Tech Briefs: Autonomous Flight Termination System

We all know that autonomous flight termination systems are coming.  This link gives some information (though mostly informationless information).  I couldn't find a more reasonable place in NSF to post this.  Putting it here because the article states "AFTS is necessary to support vehicles that have multiple flyback boosters."  I sat back a while and thought through how many vehicles I was aware of that have multiply flyback boosters and came to the conclusion to post here.

http://www.techbriefs.com/component/content/article/8-ntb/tech-briefs/machinery-and-automation/24084-ksc-13978

Good find. You might want to post a link in this thread too:

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=35431.220
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: IntoTheVoid on 03/18/2016 04:06 PM
NASA Tech Briefs: Autonomous Flight Termination System

We all know that autonomous flight termination systems are coming.  This link gives some information (though mostly informationless information).  I couldn't find a more reasonable place in NSF to post this.  Putting it here because the article states "AFTS is necessary to support vehicles that have multiple flyback boosters."  I sat back a while and thought through how many vehicles I was aware of that have multiply flyback boosters and came to the conclusion to post here.

http://www.techbriefs.com/component/content/article/8-ntb/tech-briefs/machinery-and-automation/24084-ksc-13978

Slide 11, from the NASA brief below, says that they have it, or at least strongly implies that they will.

In-flight abort test appears to be currently planned around March 2017. See slide 6:

http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/4-CCP-Status-McAlister.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Mike Jones on 03/28/2016 12:34 PM
According to P. De Selding (Spacenews):
ViaSat, Ex-Im Bank reduce $524.9M ViaSat-2 loan to $386.7M, reflecting Launch shift from SpaceX (US) to Arianespace (France/Europe).

Does that mean that a Falcon Heavy launch cost ~138 M$ on the commercial market for xL payloads like Viasat 2 ? It would mean that Falcon Heavy is super expensive compared to Proton and to a lesser degree Ariane 5 in upper position ! Difficult to imagine more than 1 Falcon Heavy commercial launch pre year with such pricing ....
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dorkmo on 03/28/2016 02:13 PM
According to P. De Selding (Spacenews):
ViaSat, Ex-Im Bank reduce $524.9M ViaSat-2 loan to $386.7M, reflecting Launch shift from SpaceX (US) to Arianespace (France/Europe).

Does that mean that a Falcon Heavy launch cost ~138 M$ on the commercial market for xL payloads like Viasat 2 ? It would mean that Falcon Heavy is super expensive compared to Proton and to a lesser degree Ariane 5 in upper position ! Difficult to imagine more than 1 Falcon Heavy commercial launch pre year with such pricing ....

how much does insurance usually cost, perhaps more for an new rocket class? would the bank put up money for that? then probably some small processing and handling charges? 138 is pretty far off from list price of 90.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cletus on 03/28/2016 09:09 PM
Any speculation on the black and white striped nosecone-looking object in the back left of SpaceX's most recent Instagram picture https://www.instagram.com/p/BDgfxVeF8TW/ (https://www.instagram.com/p/BDgfxVeF8TW/)? Falcon Heavy, maybe?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: russianhalo117 on 03/28/2016 09:27 PM
Any speculation on the black and white striped nosecone-looking object in the back left of SpaceX's most recent Instagram picture https://www.instagram.com/p/BDgfxVeF8TW/ (https://www.instagram.com/p/BDgfxVeF8TW/)? Falcon Heavy, maybe?
This has been discussed earlier in this thread. Please look back for answer
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rcoppola on 03/29/2016 04:29 PM
Trying to understand how this integrated, interdependent yet autonomous reusable system is programmed:

Does the center core monitor and control both boosters up until booster separation where each booster is then autonomous for RTLS?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jim on 03/29/2016 04:38 PM
Trying to understand how this integrated, interdependent yet autonomous reusable system is programmed:

Does the center core monitor and control both boosters up until booster separation where each booster is then autonomous for RTLS?

Upperstage controls the stack until separation, just like the basic F9.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 03/29/2016 05:23 PM
According to P. De Selding (Spacenews):
ViaSat, Ex-Im Bank reduce $524.9M ViaSat-2 loan to $386.7M, reflecting Launch shift from SpaceX (US) to Arianespace (France/Europe).

Does that mean that a Falcon Heavy launch cost ~138 M$ on the commercial market for xL payloads like Viasat 2 ? It would mean that Falcon Heavy is super expensive compared to Proton and to a lesser degree Ariane 5 in upper position ! Difficult to imagine more than 1 Falcon Heavy commercial launch pre year with such pricing ....

Why would the loan go down when switching to Ariane?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 03/29/2016 05:33 PM
The American export-import bank only provides loans to buy/sell from US companies.  It is an instrument of trade policy, helps American businesses abroad.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 03/29/2016 07:00 PM
The American export-import bank only provides loans to buy/sell from US companies.  It is an instrument of trade policy, helps American businesses abroad.

That's right. I forgot Boeing was building it. Thanks for the wake up
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Kabloona on 04/01/2016 07:25 PM
Sea Launch has finally been sold. What are the odds SpaceX bought it for the Odyssey platform, to park it downrange of Boca Chica as a fixed "base" for core landings?

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/roscosmos-sells-troubled-commercial-space-company-sea-launch/564042.html

Odyssey has been parked in Long Beach, not far from SpaceX HQ. That's got to have put ideas in some people's heads...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: M_Puckett on 04/01/2016 07:39 PM
For a landing pad???


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VNUyjRRjxM (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VNUyjRRjxM)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Ronsmytheiii on 04/01/2016 07:39 PM
According to P. De Selding (Spacenews):
ViaSat, Ex-Im Bank reduce $524.9M ViaSat-2 loan to $386.7M, reflecting Launch shift from SpaceX (US) to Arianespace (France/Europe).

Does that mean that a Falcon Heavy launch cost ~138 M$ on the commercial market for xL payloads like Viasat 2 ? It would mean that Falcon Heavy is super expensive compared to Proton and to a lesser degree Ariane 5 in upper position ! Difficult to imagine more than 1 Falcon Heavy commercial launch pre year with such pricing ....

Don't forget about payload processing at the site, other launch services and insurance costs ( higher on an unproven lv)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 04/06/2016 07:47 PM
From Arian 6 updates thread to this one -
Keep in mind that the advertised Falcon 9 GTO payload is not a direct comparison to the Ariane 6 GTO payload, since Ariane 6 specifies GEO -1,500 m/s ish versus Falcon 9's GEO - 1,800 m/s ish.  Subtract a tonne or so from Falcon 9 payload to directly compare.  There's even a chance that Airbus Safran is talking about the advertised Falcon Heavy GTO payload, which is 6.4 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

This claim again ...

I have never seen this advertised.
Spacex's site clearly states 21,200 kg to GTO.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

The old old site had this number as a price point but never as a performance goal.

So please state your source, Ed, or stop spreading that number...

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: tobi453 on 04/06/2016 07:50 PM
From Arian 6 updates thread to this one -
Keep in mind that the advertised Falcon 9 GTO payload is not a direct comparison to the Ariane 6 GTO payload, since Ariane 6 specifies GEO -1,500 m/s ish versus Falcon 9's GEO - 1,800 m/s ish.  Subtract a tonne or so from Falcon 9 payload to directly compare.  There's even a chance that Airbus Safran is talking about the advertised Falcon Heavy GTO payload, which is 6.4 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

This claim again ...

I have never seen this advertised.
Spacex's site clearly states 21,200 kg to GTO.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

The old old site had this number as a price point but never as a performance goal.

So please state your source, Ed, or stop spreading that number...



Its right here:
http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: woods170 on 04/06/2016 08:17 PM
From Arian 6 updates thread to this one -
Keep in mind that the advertised Falcon 9 GTO payload is not a direct comparison to the Ariane 6 GTO payload, since Ariane 6 specifies GEO -1,500 m/s ish versus Falcon 9's GEO - 1,800 m/s ish.  Subtract a tonne or so from Falcon 9 payload to directly compare.  There's even a chance that Airbus Safran is talking about the advertised Falcon Heavy GTO payload, which is 6.4 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

This claim again ...

I have never seen this advertised.
Spacex's site clearly states 21,200 kg to GTO.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy (http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy)

The old old site had this number as a price point but never as a performance goal.

So please state your source, Ed, or stop spreading that number...



Its right here:
http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities (http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities)
Yes it is. And then again it isn't. See below. What to believe....
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GWH on 04/06/2016 08:21 PM
One is reusable performance and price, other (21t) is expendable capacity.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Reflectiv on 04/06/2016 08:22 PM
I don't understand the confusion, there are two sections - PRICE, under which is Standard Payment plan (doesnt mean it is the only one) and PERFORMANCE.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: dror on 04/06/2016 08:34 PM
One is reusable performance and price, other (21t) is expendable capacity.
Now that's just another unsupported repeated claim.
It doesn't say that, it only says that the price for a certain load (6.4ton) is 90m$ and that total performance is again 21200kg, doesn't it?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: symbios on 04/06/2016 09:14 PM
Dror you are right.

That does not mean that GWH is wrong. I think most people interpret it the way that GWH does.

If it was expendable, the payload would be higher. If not expendable, then it will be at least in part reusable, what parts that are to be reused are up for grabs :)

One is reusable performance and price, other (21t) is expendable capacity.
Now that's just another unsupported repeated claim.
It doesn't say that, it only says that the price for a certain load (6.4ton) is 90m$ and that total performance is again 21200kg, doesn't it?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: llanitedave on 04/06/2016 10:36 PM
One is reusable performance and price, other (21t) is expendable capacity.
Now that's just another unsupported repeated claim.
It doesn't say that, it only says that the price for a certain load (6.4ton) is 90m$ and that total performance is again 21200kg, doesn't it?


That would imply that the Falcon Heavy reusable costs more than the Falcon 9 expendable.  But since they've never set a reusable price, one can only assume that all quoted prices are for expendable launchers.  The easiest interpretation is that for payloads heavier than 6.4 tons, contact the company for a custom price.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rockets4life97 on 04/06/2016 10:41 PM
The easiest interpretation is that for payloads heavier than 6.4 tons, contact the company for a custom price.

I think too much is being made of these numbers. Almost certainly each company that currently has a FH contract got a custom price. Shotwell also said about a month ago that the publicly released FH performance numbers were going to be updated (which hasn't happened yet). This whole discussion will change once we get new numbers.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: LastStarFighter on 04/07/2016 01:49 AM
The easiest interpretation is that for payloads heavier than 6.4 tons, contact the company for a custom price.

I think too much is being made of these numbers. Almost certainly each company that currently has a FH contract got a custom price. Shotwell also said about a month ago that the publicly released FH performance numbers were going to be updated (which hasn't happened yet). This whole discussion will change once we get new numbers.

We also know that the ViaSat-2 Ex-Im loan changed by $138m when they left SpaceX and went to Ariane 5. Which suggests what a dedicated FH launch plus insurance might cost. At least at the time that contract was signed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: su27k on 04/07/2016 02:27 AM
Keep in mind that the advertised Falcon 9 GTO payload is not a direct comparison to the Ariane 6 GTO payload, since Ariane 6 specifies GEO -1,500 m/s ish versus Falcon 9's GEO - 1,800 m/s ish.  Subtract a tonne or so from Falcon 9 payload to directly compare.  There's even a chance that Airbus Safran is talking about the advertised Falcon Heavy GTO payload, which is 6.4 tonnes.

 - Ed Kyle

The quote from SpaceNews clearly states it's Falcon 9 they're talking about: "Ariane 6 will have twice the mass and twice the volume of the Falcon 9, at less than twice the price", if the designer of Ariane 6 couldn't distinguish F9 from FH, I think they have a bigger problem...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: S.Paulissen on 04/07/2016 03:46 AM
The easiest interpretation is that for payloads heavier than 6.4 tons, contact the company for a custom price.

I think too much is being made of these numbers. Almost certainly each company that currently has a FH contract got a custom price. Shotwell also said about a month ago that the publicly released FH performance numbers were going to be updated (which hasn't happened yet). This whole discussion will change once we get new numbers.

We also know that the ViaSat-2 Ex-Im loan changed by $138m when they left SpaceX and went to Ariane 5. Which suggests what a dedicated FH launch plus insurance might cost. At least at the time that contract was signed.

https://www.casact.org/pubs/forum/00fforum/00ff047.pdf

This suggests that insurance premiums are floating between 5-10%, with ~7% being a reasonable estimate for a launch coverage (norm seems to be launch cost and 1-5 years on orbit coverage).  This includes launch costs AND satellite costs AND profit loss for the duration negotiated. 

Viasat revenue for a Viasat-2 is estimated as $45m per month and Viasat3 is supposed to have three times the bandwidth of Viasat2 so I conservatively estimate it's revenue at $135m per month and profit at a 7% margin to get ballpark $113m profit per year.  To insure this at 7% rate it would cost $7.9m

http://spacenews.com/viasat-details-1-4-billion-global-ka-band-satellite-broadband-strategy-to-oust-incumbent-players/


Also, Viasat2 cost $358m with claims that Viasat3 would be cheaper.  Lets call it $300m.  So to insure this satellite at 7% rate it comes to $21m
http://spacenews.com/35470viasat-puts-a-price-tag-on-its-boeing-built-behemoth/

So if we assume a case where Viasat insures for one year on orbit and the cost of the satellite alone (forget launch costs for the moment)  The total cost to insure is ~$29m, with a lot of growth potential.  This takes falcon heavy launch costs down from the $138m down to $109m.  In reality it's probably even lower because I didn't factor in the cost of the launch itself into the insurance cost and in all likelihood would increase it another $5-6m nor the possibility that the satellite is incredibly important for Viasat so they may be insuring for more than a single year on orbit at around $8m per year OR that revenue increase scales non-1 to 1 with bandwidth which is true for Viasat2 getting 10x the revenue of Viasat1 with only 2.5x more bandwidth.  It also ignores the costs involved with storing, transporting and integrating the satellite. This rapidly converges the launch price down to very close or below $90m.

On the other hand, the Viasat launch may be insured by a non-american company and not part of its loan from the Im-Ex band,so that all of this estimation means nothing XD.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 04/07/2016 03:00 PM
The easiest interpretation is that for payloads heavier than 6.4 tons, contact the company for a custom price.

I think too much is being made of these numbers. Almost certainly each company that currently has a FH contract got a custom price. Shotwell also said about a month ago that the publicly released FH performance numbers were going to be updated (which hasn't happened yet). This whole discussion will change once we get new numbers.

We also know that the ViaSat-2 Ex-Im loan changed by $138m when they left SpaceX and went to Ariane 5. Which suggests what a dedicated FH launch plus insurance might cost. At least at the time that contract was signed.
Launch plus insurance *plus payload processing, shipping, initial orbital checkout, etc*.  The ExIm loan covers all parts of the total launch cost which are paid to American companies.  Switching the satellite from SpaceX might mean that DHL gets shipping contracts instead of FedEx, prelaunch checkout and fueling in Europe instead of the Cape, fuel purchase and hazmat disposal done there, that a ground station in Europe does initial checkout instead of one in the US, that employees stay in European hotels instead of American ones, eat at European restaurants, use European contractors for incidentals, etc.  And we don't know how much of that loan is margin, "loan approval for up to $XYZ", instead of actual known fixed costs.  For all we know, the approved loan amount could have included a provision for discounted relaunch in case of failure. I think the number is only useful as a "SpaceX costs are known to be less than $X" number without further insight and a detailed cost breakdown.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 04/07/2016 05:05 PM
Isn't the 6.2 tons to GSO or GTO for expendable Falcon 9 Full Thrust, not heavy?  It lists 4.2 tons, but that may be with recovery of Falcon 9 FT.  Yes, the web site needs updating bad.  They also need to list expendable and recovery mode payloads.  They also should list pricing for used rockets, expendable rockets, and recoverable rockets.  It would give customers wider variety of choices, payloads, and costs.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Kansan52 on 04/07/2016 05:28 PM
  They also need to list expendable and recovery mode payloads.  They also should list pricing for used rockets, expendable rockets, and recoverable rockets.  It would give customers wider variety of choices, payloads, and costs.

I'd suggest that they do not need to change any of that. They may have needed that information to attract customers in the early day when they were new to the industry. While it would be nice for us, they likely have conversations with customers about needs and costs. The customer is attracted to SX without looking at prices on the web site.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/07/2016 05:37 PM
SpaceX should at least list payloads using various modes on their website. Other providers do that, in detail.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rcoppola on 04/07/2016 05:55 PM
I'm not sure SpaceX thinks of reuse vs. expendable the way some seem to characterize. In the relatively near future, there won't be any "Expendable" vs. "Recoverable" launches. F9 & FH will always be designated and launched for return/reuse. That's what they are designed to do. Eventually we'll stop thinking of these launchers as expendable or recoverable.

We still make the differentiation because FH is not ready yet and neither vehicle has proved operational from different flight, payload and subsequent return profiles, CRS vs. Orbcom vs. SES for example.

SpaceX will offer the F9 and FH with associated prices for what payloads to what orbit. Eventually they will have new and previously flown prices to accompany them.  There will always be one-off configurations (center core FH expended, etc.) but not as standard offerings. Both these launchers are meant to be reused and therefore meant to be returned. If the payload can't be lifted on a F9 it will be moved to a FH when the time comes. Etc...

I believe we're still about 12 to 18 (if not more) months out from having a transparent re-use process and pricing model available. imo.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/13/2016 05:53 PM
I've been thinking about the returns of the FH cores to LZ-1 and or the ADSD. 

Assuming all 3 cores are recovered, do we have estimates for how much longer the core stage will burn compared to the sides and how much later it would be for a LZ-1 and ASDS landing?

With the core throttling back it's hard to see the solo core burn time being more than 20-25 seconds.

Edit: And the core landing at LZ-1 maybe 1:00 or so later than the sides.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Navier–Stokes on 04/13/2016 06:19 PM
I've been thinking about the returns of the FH cores to LZ-1 and or the ADSD. 

Assuming all 3 cores are recovered, do we have estimates for how much longer the core stage will burn compared to the sides and how much later it would be for a LZ-1 and ASDS landing?

With the core throttling back it's hard to see the solo core burn time being more than 20-25 seconds.

Edit: And the core landing at LZ-1 maybe 1:00 or so later than the sides.
The FH core will have a much higher (horizontal) velocity than the F9 first stage. As such, RTLS will not be a viable option for most launches (besides, perhaps, the demonstration launches) due to the very high performance penalty associated with it. Rather, I would expect the boosters to land at LZ-1 and the central core to land on an ASDS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Doesitfloat on 04/13/2016 09:09 PM
I've been thinking about the returns of the FH cores to LZ-1 and or the ADSD. 

Assuming all 3 cores are recovered, do we have estimates for how much longer the core stage will burn compared to the sides and how much later it would be for a LZ-1 and ASDS landing?

With the core throttling back it's hard to see the solo core burn time being more than 20-25 seconds.

Edit: And the core landing at LZ-1 maybe 1:00 or so later than the sides.
The FH core will have a much higher (horizontal) velocity than the F9 first stage. As such, RTLS will not be a viable option for most launches (besides, perhaps, the demonstration launches) due to the very high performance penalty associated with it. Rather, I would expect the boosters to land at LZ-1 and the central core to land on an ASDS.

Forgive all the "is it possible phrases" but I don't know how to phrase these without claiming they are true.  Plus who wants to put stuff on the internet that is "wrong."

They have several way to launch FH; expendable, boosters RTLS main to barge and others. 
Is it possible that what we are seeing now with recovered boosters and re-flight (maybe in 3 months)  that there may be more ways to build FH ?

Is it possible that the price of 90 million for 6.4 mT to GTO included the price for 3 new boosters, and that profile was all Cores RTLS?

Is it possible, since Spacex announced that the F9 core and FH Booster core could be interchangeable, that Spacex could fly FH with new main core and re-flight boosters?

Is it possible, if re-flight boosters are used a new (lower) price could be announced?

Is it possible, that a new FH main core with re-flight boosters all  cores RTLS could cost equal or less than 62 million?

Is it possible,  that Spacex could offer current GTO customers the FH re-flight booster option and give the satellite the extra performance;  changing the recovery from single stage barge  to 3 core RTLS?


Is it possible, using this option to gain flight history on FH and re-flight cores?

Is it possible, Spacex could offer FH with all 3 core in re-flight condition ?

Would that price be more or less than 62 million?




Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/13/2016 10:41 PM
I've been thinking about the returns of the FH cores to LZ-1 and or the ADSD. 

Assuming all 3 cores are recovered, do we have estimates for how much longer the core stage will burn compared to the sides and how much later it would be for a LZ-1 and ASDS landing?

With the core throttling back it's hard to see the solo core burn time being more than 20-25 seconds.

Edit: And the core landing at LZ-1 maybe 1:00 or so later than the sides.

See my post with the attached FH spreadsheet at http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227 also read the posts it refers to.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 04/13/2016 11:32 PM
The FH core will have a much higher (horizontal) velocity than the F9 first stage. As such, RTLS will not be a viable option for most launches (besides, perhaps, the demonstration launches) due to the very high performance penalty associated with it. Rather, I would expect the boosters to land at LZ-1 and the central core to land on an ASDS.
That assumption is made frequently. But I am not sure it is actually correct. I suspect that the majority of launches to GTO is just beyond the capability of Falcon 9. So even with only a small range of payload weight for 3 core RTLS it is quite possible that most payloads will fall into that range.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Navier–Stokes on 04/14/2016 04:13 AM
The FH core will have a much higher (horizontal) velocity than the F9 first stage. As such, RTLS will not be a viable option for most launches (besides, perhaps, the demonstration launches) due to the very high performance penalty associated with it. Rather, I would expect the boosters to land at LZ-1 and the central core to land on an ASDS.
That assumption is made frequently. But I am not sure it is actually correct. I suspect that the majority of launches to GTO is just beyond the capability of Falcon 9. So even with only a small range of payload weight for 3 core RTLS it is quite possible that most payloads will fall into that range.

Given the performance margin on the FH, I wouldn't be surprised if 3 core RTLS becomes increasing common as the launch vehicle and boostback/reentry/landing sequence becomes more optimized. Elon did just say that in the long run they're hoping to move from 50% ASDS for the F9 to just 33/25%.

The source for the central core ASDS landing being most common is a quote by Elon during the ORBCOMM-2 post-landing teleconference:
Quote from: Elon Musk
Q: My question deals with the next booster, the Falcon Heavy. How much of this successful landing can be applied or scaled up that heavy rocket and does it boost your confidence for that booster too?

A: The Falcon Heavy essentially consists of the Falcon 9 with two modified boost stages attached as strap on boosters. That would be quite an exciting aerial ballet with the two side boosters dropping off and doing a symmetric pirouette back to the launch site. We'd need to have another landing spot for the two boosters and then a third one for the center core. Although I think most of the Falcon Heavy missions will see the center core land on a ship most likely. It's really going ridiculously fast. The transfer energy of Falcon Heavy will more than double that of Falcon 9. The maximum transfer energy is approaching a terajoule.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 04/14/2016 06:05 AM
The FH core will have a much higher (horizontal) velocity than the F9 first stage. As such, RTLS will not be a viable option for most launches (besides, perhaps, the demonstration launches) due to the very high performance penalty associated with it. Rather, I would expect the boosters to land at LZ-1 and the central core to land on an ASDS.
That assumption is made frequently. But I am not sure it is actually correct. I suspect that the majority of launches to GTO is just beyond the capability of Falcon 9. So even with only a small range of payload weight for 3 core RTLS it is quite possible that most payloads will fall into that range.

Given the performance margin on the FH, I wouldn't be surprised if 3 core RTLS becomes increasing common as the launch vehicle and boostback/reentry/landing sequence becomes more optimized. Elon did just say that in the long run they're hoping to move from 50% ASDS for the F9 to just 33/25%.

The source for the central core ASDS landing being most common is a quote by Elon during the ORBCOMM-2 post-landing teleconference:
Quote from: Elon Musk
Q: My question deals with the next booster, the Falcon Heavy. How much of this successful landing can be applied or scaled up that heavy rocket and does it boost your confidence for that booster too?

A: The Falcon Heavy essentially consists of the Falcon 9 with two modified boost stages attached as strap on boosters. That would be quite an exciting aerial ballet with the two side boosters dropping off and doing a symmetric pirouette back to the launch site. We'd need to have another landing spot for the two boosters and then a third one for the center core. Although I think most of the Falcon Heavy missions will see the center core land on a ship most likely. It's really going ridiculously fast. The transfer energy of Falcon Heavy will more than double that of Falcon 9. The maximum transfer energy is approaching a terajoule.

It really depends how you count the %....

If an FH does barge recovery of the center core, does that count as a barge mission, or as 33% barge mission, since two cores returned to land?

I am pretty sure that satellites will grow to take advantage of the increased capacity of FH.  It's just like cities grow to clog extra freeway lanes...

Since barge recovery is a lot closer to RTLS than it is to expending the core (cost wise), the operators will just throw more mass at it. (If they haven't already...)

Also, don't forget Mars missions.  SpaceX has lots and lots of plans. FH to Mars will need performance, and so expect barge landings there.

The only "free variable" is the cost tradeoff between an F9-to-barge and FH-full-RTLS.   If reusability works exceedingly well, the FH-full-RTLS will win over F9-to-barge, and then we'll get to see a lot of 3-booster landings...  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: guckyfan on 04/14/2016 06:56 AM
Also, don't forget Mars missions.  SpaceX has lots and lots of plans. FH to Mars will need performance, and so expect barge landings there.

I certainly hope you are right. But I expect that the best we can hope for is booster RTLS and an expendable central core to get a Red Dragon to Mars.

BTW in my personal list of options for FH Booster landing on barge is not included. Boosters will RTLS and Central may do barge landing. I just cannot see 3 barges out there to catch 3 cores.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: meekGee on 04/14/2016 07:03 AM
Also, don't forget Mars missions.  SpaceX has lots and lots of plans. FH to Mars will need performance, and so expect barge landings there.

I certainly hope you are right. But I expect that the best we can hope for is booster RTLS and an expendable central core to get a Red Dragon to Mars.

BTW in my personal list of options for FH Booster landing on barge is not included. Boosters will RTLS and Central may do barge landing. I just cannot see 3 barges out there to catch 3 cores.
Certainly agreed on no-barge for side cores.

FH to Mars configurations are a big TBD.

With no boost-back, we don't even know what the penalty is.  I always figured the boost-back is the most expensive burn, followed by reentry and then landing.

There may be tricks yet in reducing reentry burns.  This is where the magic sauce has always been, and I doubt that they are done exploring possibilities.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: yg1968 on 04/15/2016 12:04 AM
Quote from: Jeff Foust
Shotwell, as she did last month, says SpaceX plans to fly about 18 times this year, including Falcon Heavy introduction.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/720730436180160512
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 04/15/2016 01:33 AM
Quote from: Jeff Foust
Shotwell, as she did last month, says SpaceX plans to fly about 18 times this year, including Falcon Heavy introduction.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/720730436180160512

Love the optimism, but yeah. Still gonna take the "under" on this one. I'm still guessing about 12 if nothing seriously Bad™ happens along the way. Hope to be proven wrong.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/15/2016 04:42 AM
Quote from: Jeff Foust
Shotwell, as she did last month, says SpaceX plans to fly about 18 times this year, including Falcon Heavy introduction.

https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/720730436180160512

Love the optimism, but yeah. Still gonna take the "under" on this one. I'm still guessing about 12 if nothing seriously Bad™ happens along the way. Hope to be proven wrong.

Agreed, 12 including a FH would be a very good year.  Getting the FH on the stand and off the ground, successfully, will be a massive accomplishment.

Just having the payloads on hand at the right times is something that would need to be planned already. 

Good to have goals though.

Edit: Missed a quote bracket
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/15/2016 09:13 AM
Of course, an F9H flight probably counts as three landings...they'll get a lot of data from that flight if they all land successfully (or, tbh unsuccessfully)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: IainMcClatchie on 04/16/2016 03:30 AM
Certainly agreed on no-barge for side cores.

Hmm.  They probably aren't going to land boosters at the Florida Keys, and RTLS is a very big performance hit.  Barges are what is left.  And they've been proven to work.

The Florida Keys are 1500 km from Boca Chica.

To get a booster to the Keys, coasting from separation, would require a separation velocity of over 4 km/s at a pitch angle (from the horizon) of 27 degrees.  Even assuming a pitch angle at separation of 45 degrees, it would require a separation velocity of 2700 m/s.  It seems to me the booster separation is going to happen much more slowly than this, more like the 2200 m/s that MODEMEAGLE posted.  Maybe even more slowly than that.

A Falcon Heavy upper stage:
   * payload 53,000 kg
   * empty mass 3,900 kg
   * propellant mass 92,670 kg
   * exhaust velocity 3335 m/s
   * delta-V 5366 m/s
   * orbital velocity 7672 m/s

These numbers don't make sense to me, because they make it look like the upper stage can start at something like 3000 m/s.  The system as a whole has too much delta-V and it seems like it ought to put a lot more payload into orbit.  Anyway, at 3000 m/s separation it is just possible to get the core to the Florida Keys.

My guess is that all three land on barges.  The flexibility of these things is just irresistible.  You can move them around depending on your orbit inclination.  You can adjust for different payloads, and maybe even avoid some bad weather.

Suppose each barge costs $3m/year to operate, and you need three to support four Falcon Heavy launches per year.  For $9m you increased the payload of ~$400m of launches by ~30%.  That's fabulous.  Heck, it pays for itself with even one launch.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: gadgetmind on 04/16/2016 11:20 AM
I guess we'll know soon enough as it's always taken a few months to turn a Marmac *barge* into an Autonomous Spaceport Drone *Ship*.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Jcc on 04/16/2016 11:56 AM
I guess we'll know soon enough as it's always taken a few months to turn a Marmac *barge* into an Autonomous Spaceport Drone *Ship*.

They won't be needed until next year at the earliest, and really not until they have a mission that needs the extra dV. They have 4 FH missions on the manifest after the demo, INMARSAT, INTELSAT, STP-2 and VIASAT. I'm not aware than any of those would not allow RTLS for the side cores.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Zed_Noir on 04/16/2016 12:22 PM
I guess we'll know soon enough as it's always taken a few months to turn a Marmac *barge* into an Autonomous Spaceport Drone *Ship*.

They won't be needed until next year at the earliest, and really not until they have a mission that needs the extra dV. They have 4 FH missions on the manifest after the demo, INMARSAT, INTELSAT, STP-2 and VIASAT. I'm not aware than any of those would not allow RTLS for the side cores.

Disagree. SpaceX needs at least one spare ASDS per launch facility to assure ASDS availability for recovery sorties. A few extra ASDS is cheap as compare to the lost of a Falcon core.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: gadgetmind on 04/16/2016 03:45 PM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/16/2016 05:06 PM


A Falcon Heavy upper stage:
   * payload 53,000 kg
   * empty mass 3,900 kg
   * propellant mass 92,670 kg
   * exhaust velocity 3335 m/s
   * delta-V 5366 m/s
   * orbital velocity 7672 m/s

These numbers don't make sense to me, because they make it look like the upper stage can start at something like 3000 m/s.  The system as a whole has too much delta-V and it seems like it ought to put a lot more payload into orbit.  Anyway, at 3000 m/s separation it is just possible to get the core to the Florida Keys.


First the FT version of the upper stage is slightly different than the numbers above, with a dry weight above 5t and a prop load around 115t.

2nd the sideboosters if run until empty but with the centre core shutting down engines until only 4 are running then throttling down to 70%, then the side core separate at about 2,000m/s and the centre core still has 47% of its propellant remaining. And with a 53t payload can add another 2,100m/s to the upper stage if burned dry. However at 53t I don't see it the upper stage imparting more than 3800m/s to the payload.

In an RTLS mode for the side cores and down range recovery mode for the centre core at 30t payload I get the side cores separating at 1,400 m/s with 16% of their prop remaining, and the centre core adding 1,500m/s to that with the 52.5% propellant remaining at side core separation while having a 15% prop load remaining at MECO (which would probably be a little more than enough for a non or minimal boostback and only doing re-entry retropulsion and landing, certainly significantly more margin than SES-9 had).  At 30t the upper stage could add 4,900m/s.

To see where my numbers come from, check out post http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Avron on 04/16/2016 05:21 PM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.

All they need is an FAA licence to land and a go from the range. The landing is part of the launch licence see: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/launch/media/20151201_FAA_FONSI_for_F9_RTLS_at_LC-1.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mme on 04/16/2016 06:52 PM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.

All they need is an FAA licence to land and a go from the range. The landing is part of the launch licence see: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/launch/media/20151201_FAA_FONSI_for_F9_RTLS_at_LC-1.pdf
GadgetMind is referring to the Environmental Impact Statement that explicitly stated only landing one stage at a time.  Presumably they will need to amend this.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: watermod on 04/17/2016 02:44 AM
When they start to launch from Boca Chica would a center core landing someplace like Hospital Key be totally ruled out by the Dept of Interior?

If so,  would they be permitted to place landing pads on pier supports in places near there our would those waters be under the Dept of Interior too?    (trying to get a conceptual handle on how much land and water there is viewed as National Parklands)


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 04/17/2016 04:04 AM
I dont think the center core makes it that far.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 04/17/2016 09:08 PM
I suspect it will take more than "a couple months" to make more ASDSes: we're near the end of the existing MARMAC fleet.  Only one or two of those left, assuming you can recall MARMAC 300 from wind turbine duty.  If you're thinking there are going to be three on each coast and another three for boca chica, then they are either going to have to get some more marmac-class barges built, or else inaugurate a new ASDS class.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: TomH on 04/17/2016 10:12 PM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.

LZ-1 has five pads, with the intention of being able to bring back all three cores of an FH in certain scenarios, and still having two more in reserve. I imagine the original landing permit was for one core because it was a first attempt and only one core was flying
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: the_other_Doug on 04/18/2016 01:09 AM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.

LZ-1 has five pads, with the intention of being able to bring back all three cores of an FH in certain scenarios, and still having two more in reserve. I imagine the original landing permit was for one core because it was a first attempt and only one core was flying

Well -- there is a CGI artist's impression of LZ-1 that has five landing pads.  As of right now, there is one landing pad at LZ-1, and no reliable report of any earth-clearing going on yet to make even a second one.

Just sayin'...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Avron on 04/18/2016 01:54 AM
I also recall they only had permission to land a single core at the cape. Of course, this could change, but I think their brace of ASDS is going to have to turn into a small fleet.

LZ-1 has five pads, with the intention of being able to bring back all three cores of an FH in certain scenarios, and still having two more in reserve. I imagine the original landing permit was for one core because it was a first attempt and only one core was flying

Environmental assessment and recommendation, is for one returning stage .. two will require a reassessment and licencing for FH 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: IainMcClatchie on 04/18/2016 06:18 AM
First the FT version of the upper stage is slightly different than the numbers above, with a dry weight above 5t and a prop load around 115t.

Thank you.  Looks like I fumbled the rocket equation, as well as getting the wrong start numbers.

So now I have
   * payload 53,000 kg
   * empty mass 5,100 kg
   * propellant mass 115,000 kg
   * exhaust velocity 3335 m/s = (340 s)*(9.81 m/s^2)
   * delta-V 3641 m/s = (3335 m/s)*ln((173100 kg)/(58100 kg))
   * orbital velocity 7672 m/s

Okay, this makes a lot more sense.  Now the upper stage is starting at something like 4000 m/s.

That means the core stage can coast all the way to the keys... but only when the orbit points it in exactly the right direction.  Yep, I'm thinking ASDS for the core all the time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 04/18/2016 06:42 AM
That means the core stage can coast all the way to the keys... but only when the orbit points it in exactly the right direction.  Yep, I'm thinking ASDS for the core all the time.

And that is the only direction that they will launch out of Texas - the ground track will always take it close to the keys. It would only need a fairly small burn to aim the stage to the keys.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: IainMcClatchie on 04/18/2016 06:57 AM
Lars, why are all launches out of Texas going to be over the same ground track?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Owlon on 04/18/2016 08:56 AM
Lars, why are all launches out of Texas going to be over the same ground track?

Because everything else involves passing over land. You have to aim between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, or Cuba and Florida. The second option gives a lower orbital inclination.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: groundbound on 04/18/2016 03:47 PM
That means the core stage can coast all the way to the keys... but only when the orbit points it in exactly the right direction.  Yep, I'm thinking ASDS for the core all the time.

And that is the only direction that they will launch out of Texas - the ground track will always take it close to the keys. It would only need a fairly small burn to aim the stage to the keys.

Unless someone relocated Cuba while we weren't paying attention.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Lars-J on 04/18/2016 04:42 PM
Lars, why are all launches out of Texas going to be over the same ground track?

Because everything else involves passing over land. You have to aim between the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba, or Cuba and Florida. The second option gives a lower orbital inclination.

Yep. Here is a map showing where the launches will fly over - close to the keys.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: watermod on 04/18/2016 05:16 PM
That's why I asked my question about how much land and water near/in the Keys is viewed as National Parklands.    I was trying to figure what uninhabited Keys or vacant land on Key islands could be landed on or shallow waters where it would be permissible to build a landing platform(s).   If one takes the way the Interior Department treats parks under their control one would assume no permission would ever be granted under any circumstances on land/water they control.   

Maybe the better way to look at it instead of the big NO would be which islands might permit it?

(I still think the Dry Tortugas would be ideal if they were not a National Park).


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: philw1776 on 04/18/2016 08:20 PM
Loggerhead Key landing site is only maybe 2 miles closer to Texas than the main section of Dry Tortugas NP

The flash boiled turtle eggs of the nesting turtles would be an added bonus
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Blackjax on 04/19/2016 12:40 AM
I've been following this thread and a few pages back I saw a bunch of discussion around the flight rate of the FH.  The gist of it was that the F9 can cover a lot of the existing market demand if you stretch its abilities and consequently that would cannibalize the possible set of payloads for the FH, resulting in a low flight rate.  That got me wondering, what would things look like if you started with a different premise, not how can you stretch the F9 to cover as much of the manifest as possible, but rather what if you optimized for the heaviest possible RTLS/reuse across both vehicles.

I am wondering if I can find any takers to work through the following thought exercise.  Here are the assumptions:

Assume that Elon has directed his team to optimize the company for maximizing reuse with the shortest turnaround time they can manage.  Vehicle preference is in the following order regardless of whether it leaves payload capacity unutilized or whether the FH is more expensive in general, you are optimizing for RTLS & getting the returned vehicle refitted for another flight ASAP:

F9 RTLS
FH 3 core RTLS
F9 ASDS
FH 2 core RTLS, 1 core ASDS
FH 3 core ASDS
FH 2 core ASDS, 1 expendable
FH 3 core expendable

Assume that the market is mostly indifferent to the price difference between the options and that your manifest is fixed at the following regardless of the cost to the customers:  https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40049.msg1520510#msg1520510

Assume that the profit margin on any of the above vehicles is acceptable so long as you are maximizing RTLS and rapid reuse.

Finally, assume that there are no technology changes and the rockets remain basically as we understand them to be as of our best information to date.  No raptor upper stages or theoretical performance improvements we might speculate on.

The question is, if you optimize for rapid reuse alone, how does this change how much the FH flies and how would the payloads listed get distributed across the vehicle list above?

Any takers on doing the thought exercise?


Bonus Question:  Assuming that you started with a brand new F9 and FH, how many cores would the factory need to produce if you assumed that each core would be used as an expendable or retired for a teardown & analysis after some number of uses?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: mvpel on 04/19/2016 03:02 AM
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was a guest at the CRS-8 launch.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GWH on 04/19/2016 01:32 PM
Assume that Elon has directed his team to optimize the company for maximizing reuse with the shortest turnaround time they can manage.  Vehicle preference is in the following order regardless of whether it leaves payload capacity unutilized or whether the FH is more expensive in general, you are optimizing for RTLS & getting the returned vehicle refitted for another flight ASAP:

That's an interesting thought, to truly achieve major savings through rapid reuse requires marginal costs per flight to be reduced on so many levels that barge recovery costs or added risk could become a significant factor.  So many unknowns however to even take a stab at, like:
- Do GTO missions on a single stick reduce stage life substantially, or require shorter refurb cycle due to more high velocity re-entry?
- Long term what is success rate of ASDS recovery? 
- Will a second ASDS be needed at each pad to cover increased flight rate or flyback from ASDS? Do weather limitations at sea start to place limits on recovery/launch attempts?
- Refurb of 3 cores every n flights or 1 core every n flight, which is cheaper?
- What is the ratio of demand on 3 core recovery to full capacity (expendable) FH?  If it works out to be something like 10 or 20 : 1 then my guess is the cost advantage to fly expendable class payloads at reused price would be a major incentive to increase flight rate of FH in full RTLS mode.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/19/2016 03:58 PM
Rather than shortest turnaround time they can manage, a better phrase might be in the shortest time that hits a cost minimum. You might not want to recycle too fast as that might make things MORE expensive.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: starhawk92 on 04/19/2016 05:02 PM
Cores are numbered; 1 is a brand-new F9FT; cores 2,3,4 are a brand-new FH.

Assumption:  CRS-8 went up on 4/8 and produced an ASDS-landed core.  It's been 10 days and the static fire hasn't happened yet, so I assume a core has a 20 day recycle period (i.e. can't be used on back-to-back mission).

Assumption:  You can strap any three cores together and call it a Falcon Heavy


  NET DATE   VEHICLE (CORE NUMBER)     1S Landing    ORBIT         PAYLOAD (& CO-PAYLOAD)                 
  04/28/16   Falcon 9 (1)              ASDS          GTO           JCSAT-14 (Replacing JCSAT-2A)           
  05/10/16   Falcon 9 (2 - New/1st)    ASDS          GTO           Eutelsat 117 West B & Asia Broadcast     
  05/24/16   Falcon 9 (1 - 2nd)        ASDS          GTO           Thaicom 8                               
  06/10/16   Falcon 9 (2 - 2nd)        ASDS          GTO           AMOS-6                                 
  06/24/16   Falcon 9 (1 - 3rd)                      LEO (Polar)   Iridium NEXT (Flight 1) 
  07/10/16   Falcon 9 (2 - 3rd)                      SSO (720km)   Formosat-5 & Sherpa SSO*
  07/24/16   Falcon 9 (1 - 4th)        RTLS          LEO (ISS)     Dragon (CRS 9)               
  08/10/16   Falcon 9 (2 - 4th)        ASDS          GTO           SES-10                       
  08/24/16   Falcon 9 (1 - 5th)        ASDS          GTO           JCSat-16                     
  09/10/16   Falcon 9 (2 - 5th)                      LEO (Polar)   Iridium NEXT (Flight 2)   
----> I'll retire 1 and 2 after 5 flights for teardown and much learning) 
  09/24/16   Falcon Heavy (3-1st, 4-1st, 5-1st)                    Falcon Heavy Demo Flight           
  10/10/16   Falcon 9 (3 - 2nd)                                    CREW Dragon (NASA DEMO 1)   
  10/24/16   Falcon 9 (4 - 2nd)                      LEO (ISS)     Dragon (CRS 10)         
  11/10/16   Falcon 9 (5 - 2nd)        ASDS          GTO           SES-11/Echostar 105     
  11/24/17   Falcon 9 (3 - 3rd)                      LEO (ISS)     Dragon (CRS 11)         
  12/10/17   Falcon 9 (4 - 3rd)                                    SES-16/GovSat           
  12/24/17   Falcon 9 (5 - 3rd)                                    SES-14             
  01/10/17   Falcon 9 (3 - 4th)        ASDS          GTO           Es’hail 2             
  01/24/17   Falcon 9 (4 - 4th)                      SSO           SAOCOM 1A                     
  02/10/17   Falcon 9 (5 - 4th)                      LEO (Polar)   Iridium (Flight 3)         
  02/24/17   Falcon 9 (3 - 5th)        ASDS          GTO           EuropaSat / HellasSat 3   
---->  retire 3
  03/10/17   Falcon Heavy (6-1st, 4-5th, 5-5th)      GTO           Inmarsate-5 F4       
---->  retire 4 and 5
  03/24/17   Falcon Heavy (6-2nd, 7-1st, 8-1st)                    Arabsat (Arabsat 6A)
  04/10/17   Falcon 9 (6 - 3rd)                                    Bigelow Aerospace   
  04/24/17   Falcon 9 (7 - 2nd)                                    Bulgaria Sat       
  05/10/17   Falcon 9 (8 - 2nd)                                    (1)CONAE (Argentina)   
  05/24/17   Falcon 9 (6 - 4th)                                    (2)CONAE (Argentina)


So, immediately two things appear to dictate core need -- success on ASDS landing and frequency of Falcon Heavy launches.  Eight cores lasted well into next year.  Also, turnaround rate vs. launch pace would be a "secondary" need indicator.  What I mean is that if the turnaround is longer, adding one more core buys "another launch" of ground time, so impact is less significant than losing two cores to landing mishaps.

Cool to ponder, thanks Blackjax!!  Hope I played by the rules!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: gospacex on 04/19/2016 05:04 PM
Assume that Elon has directed his team to optimize the company for maximizing reuse with the shortest turnaround time they can manage.

SpaceX should optimize profit.

With current market situation, they can gobble up even entire world's launch market by launching about once a week. This does not require absolutely "shortest turnaround time".

Sure, FH RTLS may well end up to be shorter turnaround time than F9 ASDS.

But it uses three cores, increasing chances of losing a core to a landing mishap, and increasing wear of the cores. And more costly: FH does not need only more fuel; it also needs more work.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/19/2016 06:04 PM
I've been following this thread and a few pages back I saw a bunch of discussion around the flight rate of the FH.  The gist of it was that the F9 can cover a lot of the existing market demand if you stretch its abilities and consequently that would cannibalize the possible set of payloads for the FH, resulting in a low flight rate.  That got me wondering, what would things look like if you started with a different premise, not how can you stretch the F9 to cover as much of the manifest as possible, but rather what if you optimized for the heaviest possible RTLS/reuse across both vehicles.

I am wondering if I can find any takers to work through the following thought exercise.  Here are the assumptions:

Assume that Elon has directed his team to optimize the company for maximizing reuse with the shortest turnaround time they can manage.  Vehicle preference is in the following order regardless of whether it leaves payload capacity unutilized or whether the FH is more expensive in general, you are optimizing for RTLS & getting the returned vehicle refitted for another flight ASAP:

F9 RTLS
FH 3 core RTLS
F9 ASDS
FH 2 core RTLS, 1 core ASDS
FH 3 core ASDS
FH 2 core ASDS, 1 expendable
FH 3 core expendable

Assume that the market is mostly indifferent to the price difference between the options and that your manifest is fixed at the following regardless of the cost to the customers:  https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40049.msg1520510#msg1520510

Assume that the profit margin on any of the above vehicles is acceptable so long as you are maximizing RTLS and rapid reuse.

Finally, assume that there are no technology changes and the rockets remain basically as we understand them to be as of our best information to date.  No raptor upper stages or theoretical performance improvements we might speculate on.

The question is, if you optimize for rapid reuse alone, how does this change how much the FH flies and how would the payloads listed get distributed across the vehicle list above?

Any takers on doing the thought exercise?


So using my spreadsheet (see post: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227 (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34077.msg1500227#msg1500227)) I get the following:

FH 3 Core RTLS LEO payload: 25t  GTO payload: 7t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ASDS  LEO payload: 30t  GTO Payload 10t
FH 3 Core ASDS LEO payload 35t  GTO Payload 11t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ExpendableLEO payload 42t GTO Payload 15t
FH 2 Core ASDS 1 Core Expendable LEO payload 45t GTO payload 17t
FH 3 Core Expendable LEO 55t  GTO Payload GTO payload 20t

NOTE I did not see the option I have in bold above, but I think it is worth presenting as it handles a fairly large range of payloads.

My bias suggests that side cores are either expended or RTLS and Centre cores are either expended or ASDS and that we won't see any 3 core RTLS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: cscott on 04/19/2016 06:26 PM


Assumption:  You can strap any three cores together and call it a Falcon Heavy

I believe the current consensus is that the FH side cores and F9 single-stick cores are identical (just slap a nose cone on for FH), but that the center core of an FH is a unique and special snowflake (has extra load-bearing paths, mounts for side boosters, etc).

How does your analysis change under that assumption?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Stan-1967 on 04/19/2016 09:20 PM
Assume that Elon has directed his team to optimize the company for maximizing reuse with the shortest turnaround time they can manage.

SpaceX should optimize profit.


With current market situation, they can gobble up even entire world's launch market by launching about once a week. This does not require absolutely "shortest turnaround time".

Sure, FH RTLS may well end up to be shorter turnaround time than F9 ASDS.

But it uses three cores, increasing chances of losing a core to a landing mishap, and increasing wear of the cores. And more costly: FH does not need only more fuel; it also needs more work.
( bold emphasis in the above quote is mine )

This pushes the SpaceX Overton window to suggest optimizing for profit ( & revenue ) vs. cost alone, & the wonderous elegance of SpaceX having a single manufacturing line churning out 3.7 meter cores configured as F9 V1.2 or the very rare FH center core configuration.

Following the directive to optimize for profit & revenue is a direct challenge to the short & long term viability of FH.   FH is very appealing to the rocketry purist, who believes that the markets to support a high flight rate of FH will appear very quickly vs. far into the future, and thus justify the existing FH.   However, this is a speculative & dangerous basis as the foundation for a business plan.

The existing very marginal manifest for FH, as well as lack of candidate payloads for FH show it to be diminutive to SpaceX's overall current & future cash flow.   If it remains diminutive after FH's first few flights & fails to win launch contracts away from Ariane & Atlas in the +6.5t to GTO category,  it would imply that the market doesn't much care for the FH configuration for existing candidate payloads.   The large LEO payload capacity of FH seems to be for a completely speculative market yet to materialize.

What then for SpaceX?   Sure it cost's them very little to maintain a configuration that is rarely launched, but it also gains them nothing.   
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: IainMcClatchie on 04/20/2016 07:03 AM
FH 3 Core RTLS LEO payload: 25t  GTO payload: 7t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ASDS  LEO payload: 30t  GTO Payload 10t
FH 3 Core ASDS LEO payload 35t  GTO Payload 11t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ExpendableLEO payload 42t GTO Payload 15t
FH 2 Core ASDS 1 Core Expendable LEO payload 45t GTO payload 17t
FH 3 Core Expendable LEO 55t  GTO Payload GTO payload 20t

Thank you for this table.  I've been looking for something like this for a while.

I find it counterintuitive that RTLS, which requires so much more delta-V from the boosters than ASDS (you have 3500 m/s vs 1500 m/s), has such a small payload hit.  I suppose it is explained by the incredibly large ratio between delta-V gained by the booster to delta-V lost to the payload by earlier separation.

Would you be willing to expand your table to show all these options with crossfeed vs not?  It wasn't clear to me how to use your spreadsheet to get these answers.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: MATTBLAK on 04/20/2016 07:46 AM
I have a hunch Space X ultimately will not bother with Propellant Crossfeed for Falcon Heavy; by the time the thing is well into operations, Elon will probably be into expending effort on developing the BFRs. Good uprating results for FH could come from a 'mere' upper stage upgrade.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Meltro on 04/20/2016 02:47 PM
I have a hunch Space X ultimately will not bother with Propellant Crossfeed for Falcon Heavy; by the time the thing is well into operations, Elon will probably be into expending effort on developing the BFRs. Good uprating results for FH could come from a 'mere' upper stage upgrade.

That is a bit of a bold assumption, considering Elon specifically talked about how putting together small gains made huge differences in rocket performance. Having a true asparagus staging solution vs. the throttled-back center stage puts some big numbers on the board, well worth it if it can be done. SpaceX has demonstrated they're willing to work out the technical problems for these gains, and if they get it to work, I very much doubt they'd go back. Even if they don't need it for the payload, it's just that much more fuel to work on landing options for the boosters.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: JamesH65 on 04/20/2016 03:09 PM
I have a hunch Space X ultimately will not bother with Propellant Crossfeed for Falcon Heavy; by the time the thing is well into operations, Elon will probably be into expending effort on developing the BFRs. Good uprating results for FH could come from a 'mere' upper stage upgrade.

That is a bit of a bold assumption, considering Elon specifically talked about how putting together small gains made huge differences in rocket performance. Having a true asparagus staging solution vs. the throttled-back center stage puts some big numbers on the board, well worth it if it can be done. SpaceX has demonstrated they're willing to work out the technical problems for these gains, and if they get it to work, I very much doubt they'd go back. Even if they don't need it for the payload, it's just that much more fuel to work on landing options for the boosters.

It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/20/2016 03:45 PM
FH 3 Core RTLS LEO payload: 25t  GTO payload: 7t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ASDS  LEO payload: 30t  GTO Payload 10t
FH 3 Core ASDS LEO payload 35t  GTO Payload 11t
FH 2 Core RTLS 1 Core ExpendableLEO payload 42t GTO Payload 15t
FH 2 Core ASDS 1 Core Expendable LEO payload 45t GTO payload 17t
FH 3 Core Expendable LEO 55t  GTO Payload GTO payload 20t

Thank you for this table.  I've been looking for something like this for a while.

I find it counterintuitive that RTLS, which requires so much more delta-V from the boosters than ASDS (you have 3500 m/s vs 1500 m/s), has such a small payload hit.  I suppose it is explained by the incredibly large ratio between delta-V gained by the booster to delta-V lost to the payload by earlier separation.

Would you be willing to expand your table to show all these options with crossfeed vs not?  It wasn't clear to me how to use your spreadsheet to get these answers.

Ok I will redo that table with a column for payload to TMI as well and do a duplicate table with crossfeed.

To explain what you see as counter intuitive the difference in propellant load on the side boosters to go from ASDS to RTLS is 5 to 15% of total propellant load which is 20t to 60t on a rocket with a dry weight of 25.6t.  A huge performance gain to make RTLS work (as you note from 1500m/s to 3500)  BUT when you are looking at the performance of the stages remaining the upper stage performance doesn't change at all, the centre core ends up with about 15t more fuel at side core separation which gives it about 100m/s more ΔV while the 80t more propellant (40*2) in the side cores only adds approximately 400m/s - so the upper stage only gets an extra 300m/s at its ignition compared to the extra 600 or so m/s you get by using ASDS vs RTLS for LEO launches on the centre core (note that RTLS for higher energy stuff is just too much for the centre core to provide much benefit except maybe with cross feed).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: gospacex on 04/20/2016 03:57 PM
The existing very marginal manifest for FH, as well as lack of candidate payloads for FH show it to be diminutive to SpaceX's overall current & future cash flow.   If it remains diminutive after FH's first few flights & fails to win launch contracts away from Ariane & Atlas in the +6.5t to GTO category,  it would imply that the market doesn't much care for the FH configuration for existing candidate payloads.   The large LEO payload capacity of FH seems to be for a completely speculative market yet to materialize.

What then for SpaceX?   Sure it cost's them very little to maintain a configuration that is rarely launched, but it also gains them nothing.

With FH, SpaceX does not lose anything. When F9 can do, they will use F9. When an occasional super heavy (and therefore lucrative) payload appears, they slap together three F9s and have a FH. What's not too like? (Yes it's an oversimplification).

Launching more FHs just for the sake of it is not a goal.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 04/20/2016 03:59 PM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: DavidH on 04/20/2016 04:11 PM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.
Who says they're struggling? I think that's not a quantifiable assertion. They've possibly just not prioritized it until F9FT can reliably land.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rcoppola on 04/20/2016 04:37 PM
FH is not exactly a walk in the development park.

-Managing 27 engines
-3 distinct return profiles, two of them simultaneous  - (associated hardware/software)
-An auto retractable booster separation mechanism.
-All based on a rocket version less than a year old that continues to be slightly modified each time they examine a retuned core.
-They don't have an approved autonomous FTS yet, which they'll need before launch/return as well as a second landing pad at LZ-1 for the second booster. (Assuming ASDS is used for Core landing)

I don't think they are struggling but between their RTF and subsequent ramping of F9 flight rate, cargo and crew Dragon and all the infrastructure development, there's only so much, so fast they can or even should take on.

Edit: And I'll add all the processes they need to streamline for returned cores. We all watched in interest how they went about this last weeks core return from the ASDS. Now imagine 2 simultaneous boosters at LZ-1 and the core just a few days behind them coming into port. That in and of itself is going to be a really interesting dance to witness.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/20/2016 04:46 PM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.

I think cross feed is an exciting idea and I could see it being developed for one key benefit. Allowing the central core do RTLS vs ASDS.

The fuel requirements and burn times for a central core RTLS will be significant and I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable and much more intensive. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/20/2016 04:58 PM
So I have redone the table and made a graphic of it so that it can retain formatting.  Scenarios with all the cores returned have no shading, centre core expendables are yellow, all core expendables are red. 

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: rst on 04/20/2016 05:11 PM
I have a hunch Space X ultimately will not bother with Propellant Crossfeed for Falcon Heavy; by the time the thing is well into operations, Elon will probably be into expending effort on developing the BFRs. Good uprating results for FH could come from a 'mere' upper stage upgrade.

That is a bit of a bold assumption, considering Elon specifically talked about how putting together small gains made huge differences in rocket performance. ...

It does make a difference in mass delivered to orbit per launch ... but the number that SpaceX is most concerned with from the Falcon line is probably revenue, at this point, so let's not forget Gwynne Shotwell's recent remark that they're not going to do crossfeed until they have a customer for it.  There just aren't a whole lot of single payloads that big waiting for a launch vehicle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: spacenut on 04/20/2016 05:16 PM
Once Raptor is developed, it might be easier to build and launch BFR with reusable second stage/MCT than dealing with 3 cores and cross feed.  Three cores might be ok without cross as far as complications. 

From the chart it seems the best overall is either expend all cores (previously flown) or save the side boosters on ASDS and expend the core (previously flown).  It is all going to depend on how many times a core can re-fly.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GreenShrike on 04/20/2016 05:31 PM
I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable...

I know SpaceX says they expect to lose a third of ASDS recoveries, but I think that's just sandbagging.

It isn't that ASDS recoveries are unreliable, it's that F9 *itself* has been unreliable.

What it comes down to is that there have been four ASDS failures and one success. However, the failures have been flaws with the rocket and having nothing to do with ASDS bargings themselves.

Running out of hydraulic fluid has been addressed, and with each additional flight they get more statistical data about how much fluid is actually required. A sticky valve shouldn't happen again as SpaceX will know to test for them. A leg failing to lock will be mitigated via a design change or via preventing ice buildup in the critical areas.

Only SES-9 fell under the "everything was fine with the rocket and it still failed" category, except that even then, the rocket was going flat out with every margin carved to the bone and beyond. Lesson learned: 5.3t plus ASDS recovery is beyond F9 v1.2's means, so either F9 gets improved a few more percent until 5.3t is within capability, or SpaceX sells FH 3-RTLS rides to 5.3t sats and above.

The successful landings -- including Jason's ultimate failure, as it did touch down successfully -- have so far shown that when the rocket doesn't suffer some sort of mechanical failure and has sufficient margin, F9 lands on the barge just fine.

If they add sea state at the ASDS to the standard launch contract's list of acceptable launch conditions so the client won't complain if a launch is scrubbed due to 10m swells, and choose the vehicle and recovery options as necessary to ensure sufficient margin for recovery, then ASDS bargings should become as routine as LZ-1 landings.

...and much more intensive.

Though granted said routine will remain more intensive than LZ-1 landings. ;-)

The proof will be in whether SpaceX prefers to sell F9 ASDS flights or FH 3-RTLS flights for 5t+ sats in the future. I suspect the risk during an ASDS will be minimal and that refurbishing, prepping and fueling a single core while factoring in the additional risk of an ASDS recovery will still be less expensive than the refurb/refuel/prep of a 3-core Falcon Heavy launch campaign, with the inherent risk of more engines and separation events to roll the dice on during flight, even if all three end up landing at LZ-1.

If I'm wrong, then F9 would mostly be used in RTLS mode, and there'll be a lot more FH flights.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/20/2016 05:41 PM
For the sake of argument. If you add a Raptor US [210mt prop, 375 vac ISP, 10mt dry weight] then here is the ball park LEO capabilities for the different recovery options that would result for FH: (Note the Raptor US also delivers for each case >10% more DV to account for the lower DV supplied by the 1st stages)

3 RTLS - 42
2 RTLS center ASDS - 50
3 ASDS - 59
2 RTLS center Expended - 70
2 ASDS center Expended - 75
3 Expended - 90

So why spend time developing the crossfeed further when there maybe an easier answer for more performance that also is in the direction of tech for the BFR\MCT.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: nadreck on 04/20/2016 05:45 PM
For the sake of argument. If you add a Raptor US [210mt prop, 375 vac ISP, 10mt dry weight] then here is the ball park LEO capabilities for the different recovery options that would result for FH: (Note the Raptor US also delivers for each case >10% more DV to account for the lower DV supplied by the 1st stages)

3 RTLS - 42
2 RTLS center ASDS - 50
3 ASDS - 59
2 RTLS center Expended - 70
2 ASDS center Expended - 75
3 Expended - 90

So why spend time developing the crossfeed further when there maybe an easier answer for more performance that also is in the direction of tech for the BFR\MCT.

But where that Raptor US really shines is in the increased payloads to higher energy targets!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GORDAP on 04/20/2016 05:47 PM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.

I think cross feed is an exciting idea and I could see it being developed for one key benefit. Allowing the central core do RTLS vs ASDS.

The fuel requirements and burn times for a central core RTLS will be significant and I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable and much more intensive. 

Wannamoon, doesn't crossfeed make it less likely to do RTLS (vs ASDS), rather than more likely?  If I understand crossfeed correctly, they will be powering 6 of the central core's Merlins from the outer tanks during the initial boost phase, which empties the side cores earlier, but leaves nearly a full central core at time of side core separation.  Thus the central core is able to burn longer, and staging with S2 is done at a higher velocity, and further downrange - both of which make RTLS harder, not easier.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: oldAtlas_Eguy on 04/20/2016 06:03 PM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.

I think cross feed is an exciting idea and I could see it being developed for one key benefit. Allowing the central core do RTLS vs ASDS.

The fuel requirements and burn times for a central core RTLS will be significant and I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable and much more intensive. 

Wannamoon, doesn't crossfeed make it less likely to do RTLS (vs ASDS), rather than more likely?  If I understand crossfeed correctly, they will be powering 6 of the central core's Merlins from the outer tanks during the initial boost phase, which empties the side cores earlier, but leaves nearly a full central core at time of side core separation.  Thus the central core is able to burn longer, and staging with S2 is done at a higher velocity, and further downrange - both of which make RTLS harder, not easier.
It comes down to what is more likely a Raptor US or a FH 1st stage crossfeed configuration?

Crossfeed increases the complexity of the booster staging and the three cores plumbing making them no longer common to the F9. Plus there would also be two defineting plumbing version the boosters and center core.

An Raptor Vac based US requires a Raptor Vac engine which is currently under development with a prototype (test article) to be completed sometime in late 2017. A US design using the Raptor is not a difficult task. But the capability to manufacture a 5m tank may prove the most challenging and biggest hurdle for a Raptor US. Also the FH pad would require additional plumbing for the liquid methane. Such a large US sized for use on the FH would not be suitable for the F9. F9 with M1D US and FH with Raptor US with only the 1st stages common between them.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 04/20/2016 06:07 PM
So why spend time developing the crossfeed further when there maybe an easier answer for more performance that also is in the direction of tech for the BFR\MCT.
How is developing an entirely new upper stage with a new fuel and a new engine easier than cross-feed?  I honestly don't get this assessment.  It's like cross-feed is the most impossible thing ever conceived of by man.

I can agree it is "in the direction of BFR"... sort of... in the sense that the fuel and engine are presumably the same.  However the upper stage itself would still be new.

What am I missing?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: abaddon on 04/20/2016 06:09 PM
Crossfeed increases the complexity of the booster staging and the three cores plumbing making them no longer common to the F9. Plus there would also be two defineting plumbing version the boosters and center core.
I don't think that is necessarily true (lack of commonality).  And the boosters and center core are already different, so that doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

If it is true, that would be a deal-breaker.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: wannamoonbase on 04/20/2016 06:17 PM
I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable...

I know SpaceX says they expect to lose a third of ASDS recoveries, but I think that's just sandbagging.

It isn't that ASDS recoveries are unreliable, it's that F9 *itself* has been unreliable.

What it comes down to is that there have been four ASDS failures and one success. However, the failures have been flaws with the rocket and having nothing to do with ASDS bargings themselves.

Running out of hydraulic fluid has been addressed, and with each additional flight they get more statistical data about how much fluid is actually required. A sticky valve shouldn't happen again as SpaceX will know to test for them. A leg failing to lock will be mitigated via a design change or via preventing ice buildup in the critical areas.

Only SES-9 fell under the "everything was fine with the rocket and it still failed" category, except that even then, the rocket was going flat out with every margin carved to the bone and beyond. Lesson learned: 5.3t plus ASDS recovery is beyond F9 v1.2's means, so either F9 gets improved a few more percent until 5.3t is within capability, or SpaceX sells FH 3-RTLS rides to 5.3t sats and above.

The successful landings -- including Jason's ultimate failure, as it did touch down successfully -- have so far shown that when the rocket doesn't suffer some sort of mechanical failure and has sufficient margin, F9 lands on the barge just fine.

If they add sea state at the ASDS to the standard launch contract's list of acceptable launch conditions so the client won't complain if a launch is scrubbed due to 10m swells, and choose the vehicle and recovery options as necessary to ensure sufficient margin for recovery, then ASDS bargings should become as routine as LZ-1 landings.

...and much more intensive.

Though granted said routine will remain more intensive than LZ-1 landings. ;-)

The proof will be in whether SpaceX prefers to sell F9 ASDS flights or FH 3-RTLS flights for 5t+ sats in the future. I suspect the risk during an ASDS will be minimal and that refurbishing, prepping and fueling a single core while factoring in the additional risk of an ASDS recovery will still be less expensive than the refurb/refuel/prep of a 3-core Falcon Heavy launch campaign, with the inherent risk of more engines and separation events to roll the dice on during flight, even if all three end up landing at LZ-1.

If I'm wrong, then F9 would mostly be used in RTLS mode, and there'll be a lot more FH flights.

I'm not arguing the choice between F9 v FH.  Just a strong preference for RTLS when possible. 

No question they are improving the ASDS operations. But it will always be higher risk and more expensive.  Plus sea conditions can potential prevent recovery or postpone launch. 

A week to get a stage back in a hangar does not help the 'rapid' reuse. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: GreenShrike on 04/20/2016 06:40 PM
The existing very marginal manifest for FH,

Falcon Heavy has yet to fly, and the unfortunate fact of the matter is that SpaceX has been slipping its first launch for years. I rather think those facts would make a client somewhat hesitant gamble a flagship comsat's launch on an unflown rocket. Instead, the client would book a single launch, to show support to the new entrant (competition is always good), and to guarantee a cheap launch slot for whenever the vehicle does fly.

That hesitation would evaporate, of course, once it flies, and there are sufficient flights manifested such that it will have demonstrated sufficient reliability to be seriously considered by the time future comsats require a launch vehicle, especially as the only thing "diminutive" about FH is its relative price, and Proton demonstrates that a semi-unreliable launcher can win contracts if its cheap enough.

as well as lack of candidate payloads for FH show it to be diminutive to SpaceX's overall current & future cash flow.   If it remains diminutive after FH's first few flights & fails to win launch contracts away from Ariane & Atlas in the +6.5t to GTO category,

First, you forgot Proton. The current heavy comsat market is split between Ariane 5 and Proton, and if FH only manages to eat Proton's lunch, FH will still launch regularly.

However, I do think I see your actual problem: FH won't be competing only for 6.5t+ comsats. Its market is rather larger than that.

Ignoring the plainly obvious uses to which SpaceX itself likely plans to put the Falcon Heavy, the comsat market that FH will be going after is more like 5 tonnes+, a rather wider swath than the rarer 6.5t+ birds.

While comsats up to, what, 6t or so? can be launched on the Falcon 9,  SES-9's booster demonstrated fairly emphatically upon OCISLY's deck that 5.3t is beyond what F9 can lift while recovering its booster stage.

Since one would have to be very out-of-the-loop to not understand that SpaceX wants to recover all booster cores it possibly can, and desires to splash in the ocean as close to zero as possible, it therefore seems fairly reasonable to assume that rather than simply ignoring the market for comsats between, say, 5 or 5.2t and ~6.8t, SpaceX will instead bid a FH to fly them, and recover all three cores, probably via RTLS as, according to Nadrek above, an ASDS won't be needed until ~7t needs to be lofted to GTO.

Unless SpaceX starts dual-launching, I guess, which I believe SpaceX has said it was going to stay away from, since Arianespace finds it to be a real PITA scheduling-wise.

As such, in the future I think F9 will only be used to lift light to medium-weight sats and thence be recovered, even if when operated expendably it may in fact be a heavy-class launcher, and instead Falcon Heavy will be SpaceX's workhorse vehicle, launching the more expensive intermediate and heavy-weight sats, the exact opposite of being "diminutive to SpaceX's overall [...] future cash flow".

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Craig_VG on 04/21/2016 12:12 AM
[....]

Hi, while SES-9 was a very heavy sat, it is important to note that it was launched in a way to get it on station sooner, requiring a multiple seconds longer stage 1 burn. If SpaceX were to launch another sat of the same mass landing would be easier if not for the special case of SES-9 needing to get on station so quickly.


This was incorrect, only the second stage was affected, as per my own post:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39348.msg1494793#msg1494793


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon Heavy Discussion (Thread 4)
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/21/2016 12:45 AM
It's not that it isn't a good idea, just that the BFR development may well overtake it, and mean F9H crossfeed is unnecessary.
It amazes me that people think that the same SpaceX that is struggling to get the FH to the launchpad can somehow magically snap their fingers and conjure up the BFR, a whole new rocket with new engines that is bigger than anything anybody has ever launched before.  With new bigger infrastructure, new bigger environmental hurdles...

Yeah, crossfeed sounds really tough compared to that.

I think cross feed is an exciting idea and I could see it being developed for one key benefit. Allowing the central core do RTLS vs ASDS.

The fuel requirements and burn times for a central core RTLS will be significant and I think we're all learning the ASDS recovery is less reliable and much more intensive. 

Wannamoon, doesn't crossfeed make it less likely to do RTLS (vs ASDS), rather than more likely?  If I understand crossfeed correctly, they will be powering 6 of the central core's Merlins from the outer tanks during the initial boost phase, which empties the side cores earlier, but leaves nearly a full central core at time of side core separation.  Thus the central core is able to burn longer, and staging with S2 is done at a higher velocity, and further downrange - both of which make RTLS harder, not easier.
It comes down to what is more likely a Raptor US or a FH 1st stage crossfeed configuration?

Crossfeed increases the complexity of the booster staging and the three cores plumbing making them no longer common to the F9. Plus there would also be two defineting plumbing version the boosters and center core.
They are no longer common anyway.

Quote
An Raptor Vac based US requires a Raptor Vac engine which is currently under development with a prototype (test article) to be completed sometime in late 2017. A US design using the Raptor is not a difficult task. But the capability to manufacture a 5m tank may prove the most challenging and biggest hurdle for a Raptor US. Also the FH pad would require additional plumbing for the liquid methane. Such a large US sized for use on the FH would not be suitable for the F9. ...
This isn't true. The only reason it could be true is if the stage was under-thrust to serve as a second stage, which is unlikely since it will be Raptor-powered (and Raptor will lik