NASASpaceFlight.com Forum

SpaceX Vehicles and Missions => SpaceX Missions Section => Topic started by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/06/2017 09:25 PM

Title: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/06/2017 09:25 PM
DISCUSSION thread for X-37B OTV-5 mission

NSF Threads for OTV-5 : Discussion (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43088.0) / Updates (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43585.0) / L2 Coverage July-August (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43238.0) September-October (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43611.0) / Party (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42585.0)
NSF Articles for OTV-5 :
   Bulgariasat launch realigns; SpaceX secures X-37B launch contract (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/)
   SpaceX in final preps for Falcon 9’s first mission with X-37B (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/08/spacex-final-preps-falcon-9s-first-x-37b/)
   SpaceX to conduct first X-37B launch with a Falcon 9 (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/09/spacex-first-x-37b-launch-falcon-9/)

NET September 7, 2017 on Falcon 9 from LC-39A.  RTLS landing.




Wow, definitely warrants its own thread:

I hadn't seen this come up anywhere here yet, so if so missed this, please disregard.

Fox Business is reporting that SpaceX will be launching an Air Force payload in August and from the sounds of it, it'll be the X37-B.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/06/06/elon-musks-spacex-to-conduct-first-mission-with-u-s-air-force.html (http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/06/06/elon-musks-spacex-to-conduct-first-mission-with-u-s-air-force.html)

Quote
Tech entrepreneur and founder of aerospace company SpaceX, Elon Musk, is teaming up with the U.S. Air Force for the first time later this summer to conduct a joint mission for the military.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that SpaceX would be sending the next Air Force payload up into space in August via one of the unmanned, reusable X-37B space planes.

Space-X to launch Air Force's next X-37B on a Falcon 9 August 2017. First X-37B launch not on an Atlas 5. First Air Force payload for Space X (per the article). Launch site (VAFB vs. KSC) not mentioned.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/06/spacex-launches-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane.html (http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/06/spacex-launches-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane.html)

Edit/Lar: see also https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42889 (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42889) which is about tech requirements, not mission specific stuff...




Other SpaceX resources on NASASpaceflight:
   SpaceX News Articles (Recent) (http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/spacex/)  /   SpaceX News Articles from 2006 (Including numerous exclusive Elon interviews) (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=21862.0)
   SpaceX Dragon Articles (http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/tag/dragon/)  /  SpaceX Missions Section (with Launch Manifest and info on past and future missions) (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?board=55.0)
   L2 SpaceX Section (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?board=60.0)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 06/06/2017 09:29 PM
Hot damn. Gotta wonder when this was contracted to get an August launch slot. Might be why the Air Force Secretary was on site to watch the NROL launch...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 06/06/2017 09:29 PM
I imagine this must have been under discussion for a while. Isn't it quite a big deal technically to assess launching X-37B on a different LV? (aerodynamic forces etc)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 06/06/2017 09:30 PM
Also being reported by Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/space-spacex-idUSL1N1J31QH

No further details available anywhere yet.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 06/06/2017 09:31 PM
I imagine this must have been under discussion for a while. Isn't it quite a big deal technically to assess launching X-37B on a different LV? (aerodynamic forces etc)

It's launched in a fairing, so probably not much difference to the X-37B.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 06/06/2017 09:32 PM
I imagine this must have been under discussion for a while. Isn't it quite a big deal technically to assess launching X-37B on a different LV? (aerodynamic forces etc)
This was discussed briefly in another thread (general falcon thread?). The conclusion was that it would fit in the fairing, but it was unclear whether it (or its payloads) would need vertical integration or not. Apparently not.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/06/2017 09:34 PM
Pretty exciting news and a very bad result for ULA.

Were we aware the X-37B was launcher agnostic?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: acsawdey on 06/06/2017 09:39 PM
August is .. soon. Wonder if USAF picked out a used booster so they could jump to the head of the queue?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/06/2017 09:40 PM
Partly reusable launcher launches reusable spaceplane seems kind of apt.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2017 09:46 PM
I did not expect this, certainly not this soon.

Must mean the USAF has a lot of confidence in SpaceX (or they are OK with an elevated level of risk since there are two spacecraft/ maybe program goals are winding down /?).

Either way this is a big win for SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/06/2017 09:48 PM
I did not expect this, certainly not this soon.

Must mean the USAF has a lot of confidence in SpaceX (or they are OK with an elevated level of risk since there are two / maybe program goals are winding down /?).

Either way this is a big win for SpaceX, if true.
It's been reported in several mainstream news sources at this point. Seems very unlikely to be "fake news". Fox did report it after all.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2017 09:51 PM
I did not expect this, certainly not this soon.

Must mean the USAF has a lot of confidence in SpaceX (or they are OK with an elevated level of risk since there are two / maybe program goals are winding down /?).

Either way this is a big win for SpaceX, if true.
It's been reported in several mainstream news sources at this point. Seems very unlikely to be "fake news". Fox did report it after all.
Yah, skimmed too quickly, clearly this is not in error.  Will edit.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2017 09:54 PM
Regarding the booster, surely the USAF will want a new Block 4.  I look forward to being surprised yet again if it is flight proven.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Barrie on 06/06/2017 09:55 PM
Given this and the tone of the NASA webcast for CRS11, istm that government agencies now really want to be associated in the public eye with SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 06/06/2017 09:55 PM
August is .. soon. Wonder if USAF picked out a used booster so they could jump to the head of the queue?

More likely they reserved a new booster some time ago. Or a commercial customer jumped to a used booster for a discount, opening a new one up for the USAF.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2017 09:56 PM
Regarding the booster, surely the USAF will want a new Block 4.  I look forward to being surprised yet again if it is flight proven.

Either this has been in negotiation/plan for a long time so it's not jumping the line, or it's a used booster, or SpaceX is ok with some (at least mildly) annoyed commercial customers when USAF takes cuts in front of them.

My bet is used booster. Star One coined an apt phrase.  (but YMMV)

Partly reusable launcher launches reusable spaceplane seems kind of apt.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 06/06/2017 09:56 PM
Regarding the booster, surely the USAF will want a new Block 4.

Why?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2017 10:03 PM
Regarding the booster, surely the USAF will want a new Block 4.

Why?
Hardly a mystery here.  Block 4/5 changes not related to rapid reuse were made to satisfy USAF/NASA.  US Govt is conservative with respect to risk profiles.  X-37B is presumably a precious payload compared to "tang and toilet paper" and even NASA hasn't signed off yet for the most risk-tolerant launch category.  Need I go on?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 06/06/2017 10:04 PM
Regarding the booster, surely the USAF will want a new Block 4.

Why?
They are rather risk averse, especially as the X-37B is a rather unique and probably expensive payload. On the other hand, reuse will have been proven at least 2 or 3 times by then... perhaps that's enough??

I doubt any new Block 3 vehicles will be available in August, so if they go new it likely will be on Block 4
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ludus on 06/06/2017 10:04 PM

http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/r-update-1-spacex-wins-launch-of-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane-2017-6-1002072207 (http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/r-update-1-spacex-wins-launch-of-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane-2017-6-1002072207)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2017 10:06 PM
A new block 4 seems riskier than a reused block 3 to me...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 06/06/2017 10:12 PM
Hardly a mystery here.  Block 4/5 changes not related to rapid reuse were made to satisfy USAF/NASA.  US Govt is conservative with respect to risk profiles.  X-37B is presumably a precious payload compared to "tang and toilet paper" and even NASA hasn't signed off yet for the most risk-tolerant launch category.  Need I go on?

They are rather risk averse, especially as the X-37B is a rather unique and probably expensive payload. On the other hand, reuse will have been proven at least 2 or 3 times by then... perhaps that's enough??

I doubt any new Block 3 vehicles will be available in August, so if they go new it likely will be on Block 4

I misread the original quote, I agree they'll likely fly a new booster instead of a flight-proven one.

A new block 4 seems riskier than a reused block 3 to me...


No way. Remember they've already flown four Block revisions of v1.2 and not only did the public not notice, none of the customers seemed to care either.

Block upgrades aren't as big of changes as people make them out to be. The last one, maybe, considering all the reuse stuff and NASA requirements. But the first four went almost completely under our radar.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: QuantumG on 06/06/2017 10:16 PM
In regards to the primary source...

http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/r-update-1-spacex-wins-launch-of-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane-2017-6-1002072207

Says this:

Quote
"SpaceX will be sending the next Air Force payload up into space in August," Wilson said during webcast testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. She later specified that the payload would be one of the Air Force’s two X-37B spaceplanes.

Hmm... that seems kinda disconnected. I do hope it's not a misunderstanding. Either way, great news for SpaceX.

Here's the webcast:

https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/17-06-06-posture-of-the-department-of-the-air-force

Looking for a youtube link.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Space Pete on 06/06/2017 10:24 PM
Cool! Reusable spaceplane being launched by a reusable rocket! :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 06/06/2017 10:27 PM
A new block 4 seems riskier than a reused block 3 to me...

No way. Remember they've already flown four Block revisions of v1.2 and not only did the public not notice, none of the customers seemed to care either.

Block upgrades aren't as big of changes as people make them out to be. The last one, maybe, considering all the reuse stuff and NASA requirements. But the first four went almost completely under our radar.

We'll find out, and not too far in the future either... what if it was Block 5, would that change your estimate of the risk estimation by USAF?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/06/2017 10:30 PM
A new block 4 seems riskier than a reused block 3 to me...

No way. Remember they've already flown four Block revisions of v1.2 and not only did the public not notice, none of the customers seemed to care either.

Block upgrades aren't as big of changes as people make them out to be. The last one, maybe, considering all the reuse stuff and NASA requirements. But the first four went almost completely under our radar.

We'll find out, and not too far in the future either... what if it was Block 5, would that change your estimate of the risk estimation by USAF?
They did say Block 5 was supposed to launch later this year. First payload? Maybe. There is perhaps some additional risk, but perhaps less if AF feels the fixes in B5 outweigh the risks. We'll probably find out soon enough. Well, maybe not soon enough. But soon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AnalogMan on 06/06/2017 10:36 PM
In regards to the primary source...

http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/r-update-1-spacex-wins-launch-of-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane-2017-6-1002072207 (http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/r-update-1-spacex-wins-launch-of-us-air-force-x-37b-space-plane-2017-6-1002072207)

Says this:

Quote
"SpaceX will be sending the next Air Force payload up into space in August," Wilson said during webcast testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. She later specified that the payload would be one of the Air Force’s two X-37B spaceplanes.

Hmm... that seems kinda disconnected. I do hope it's not a misunderstanding. Either way, great news for SpaceX.

Here's the webcast:

https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/17-06-06-posture-of-the-department-of-the-air-force (https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/17-06-06-posture-of-the-department-of-the-air-force)

Looking for a youtube link.


The SpaceX/X-37B mention happens right near the end of the hearing at about 2hrs 51mins into the webcast.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Chris Bergin on 06/06/2017 10:44 PM
Well that's pretty big news for SpaceX on the confidence levels. The video link isn't working for me, so as QG notes - a youtube link or something would be cool.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: QuantumG on 06/06/2017 10:47 PM
The SpaceX/X-37B mention happens right near the end of the hearing at about 2hrs 51mins into the webcast.

Yah! Sec. Wilson explicitly says the X-37B will be going up on a SpaceX launcher in August. Same breath. No idea why the media are reporting it as two separate utterances.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: russianhalo117 on 06/06/2017 10:58 PM
Well that's pretty big news for SpaceX on the confidence levels. The video link isn't working for me, so as QG notes - a youtube link or something would be cool.
hearing would recorded on C-Span if it was an open door meeting.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rory on 06/06/2017 11:05 PM
Here's the relevant clip at about 2:30:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGekL0uzXG8&t=2m31s
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/06/2017 11:11 PM
Sec. Wilson:
Quote
this is the model of the x37 which will be going up again, it's a reusable vehicle and it will be going up again on top of a SpaceX launcher in August
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rory on 06/06/2017 11:23 PM
Sec. Wilson:
Quote
this is the model of the x37 which will be going up again, it's a reusable vehicle and it will be going up again on top of a SpaceX launcher in August

If it weren't for the phrasing of the question and the remark about X-37B and/or cubesats being "able to be put on multiple different platforms" I'd be open to the argument that she misspoke. But in context it's fairly definitive:

Quote from: Sen. Martin Heinrich
I also just want to take my last few seconds here and say I think there's the next generation of launch companies that are looking at small payloads, whether Virgin Galactic or Vulcan Aerospace or OATK.

I really encourage you to look at some of those ideas too. I think the more distributed, the more responsive, the more flexible and the quicker we can field some of these things, the quicker we'll be able to meet some of the gaps we have with our adversaries
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 06/06/2017 11:30 PM
LOL - we all have it wrong - SpaceX will be launching the model of the X-37B that is sitting there on her desk.







I'll see myself out now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/06/2017 11:51 PM
LOL - we all have it wrong - SpaceX will be launching the model of the X-37B that is sitting there on her desk.







I'll see myself out now.
Well that would definitely fit inside the fairing without any issues! And it would probably give the AF a tremendous amount of risk tolerance given the lower cost of that payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 12:00 AM
[SpaceNews] SpaceX will launch next secret X-37 Air Force mission (http://spacenews.com/spacex-will-launch-next-secret-x-37-air-force-mission/)
Quote
“The ability to launch the Orbital Test Vehicle on multiple platforms will ensure a robust launch capability for our experiment designers,” Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a press release. “We are excited about this new partnership on creating flexible and responsive launch options and are confident in SpaceX’s ability to provide safe and assured access to space for the X-37B program.”
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: wannamoonbase on 06/07/2017 12:07 AM
Wonder if this wasn't going to be announced until the new US flew twice.

Great scoop for SpaceX, exciting and well done. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 06/07/2017 12:10 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: intrepidpursuit on 06/07/2017 12:15 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.

I would also be curious to see if we know whether they are launching it for the USAF or for Boeing. If Boeing made the choice to fly on a rocket other than ULA that would be an interesting development.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mme on 06/07/2017 12:17 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 12:21 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.

Going through a year long public bidding process isn't necessarily a great mode of operation for the rapid capabilities office, especially for a somewhat secretive program.  It could also be a case of that organization wanting to go through the procurement process with the new launch provider.  This is a fairly light payload being sent to probably a fairly easy orbit.  Maybe similar to NROL-76 procurement.

There are 12 other AF launches being publicly bid between SpaceX and ULA in the next year or so.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 12:22 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.

We have no idea when this contract was awarded.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DecoLV on 06/07/2017 12:22 AM
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.

Given the context of the Secy's testimony, an eagerness to prove to be a lean, mean, fightin' machine seems reason enough, and remember USAF has some time ago included SpaceX in the party. And SpaceX is just as eager to accommodate, I'm sure. Remember the ol' days of whining and moaning and lawsuits? Guess that's over.  :o
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DreamyPickle on 06/07/2017 12:23 AM
Does anyone know how this program is structured? Is the technology owned by the airforce or Boeing?

As a bit of speculation, could the airforce ask Boeing to make a scaled-up version that launches directly from the Falcon 9 first stage booster? They might have enough money to lubricate such an unlikely marriage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 12:26 AM
Does anyone know how this program is structured? Is the technology owned by the airforce or Boeing?

As a bit of speculation, could the airforce ask Boeing to make a scaled-up version that launches directly from the Falcon 9 first stage booster? They might have enough money to lubricate such an unlikely marriage.

This is a mission thread.  Speculative LEGO rockets (and payloads) belong elsewhere.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 06/07/2017 12:28 AM
I would not be surprised if this contract was actually ordered at least a year or two ago and is already floating around the US launch schedule here as AFSPC-XX without assigning to any launcher.  ;)

Edit: Not sure about the source but that thread claims that it's AFSPC-7.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/07/2017 12:32 AM
[SpaceNews] SpaceX will launch next secret X-37 Air Force mission (http://spacenews.com/spacex-will-launch-next-secret-x-37-air-force-mission/)
Quote
“The ability to launch the Orbital Test Vehicle on multiple platforms will ensure a robust launch capability for our experiment designers,” Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a press release. “We are excited about this new partnership on creating flexible and responsive launch options and are confident in SpaceX’s ability to provide safe and assured access to space for the X-37B program.”
This quote means it definitely wasn't a slip up to say SpaceX instead of another LV provider. Still seems unlikely they intended for this to be the launch announcement. The comment was fairly spontaneous in response to a closing comment. Then again, she did just happen to have a model of the X-37B there on the table. Maybe it was planned all along.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 06/07/2017 12:33 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.

Why not in two months?  Responsive launch deserves a responsive bid process.

No reason they can't set up a process where they put out a request for bids and give companies two days to respond, then announce a winner two days later.

Just because bidding has always taken much longer before doesn't mean that's the only way to do it.  Isn't that the whole point of responsive space?

And yes, probably nobody else could do it in this case with this short notice that could beat the SpaceX price.  But they should still go through the process.  Then, when someone comes along who can compete, the process is already in place.  Nothing has to change.

As others have said, we don't really know if this was awarded on short notice.  I hope so, but we don't know.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 12:34 AM
Pretty exciting news and a very bad result for ULA.

Were we aware the X-37B was launcher agnostic?

yes
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/07/2017 12:34 AM
There goes my pet NROL-76 theory...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 06/07/2017 12:36 AM
There goes my pet NROL-76 theory...

Not so fast ... there are two X-37b vehicles, right? :-)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mme on 06/07/2017 12:42 AM
...

Why not in two months?  Responsive launch deserves a responsive bid process.

No reason they can't set up a process where they put out a request for bids and give companies two days to respond, then announce a winner two days later.

Just because bidding has always taken much longer before doesn't mean that's the only way to do it.  Isn't that the whole point of responsive space?

And yes, probably nobody else could do it in this case with this short notice that could beat the SpaceX price.  But they should still go through the process.  Then, when someone comes along who can compete, the process is already in place.  Nothing has to change.

As others have said, we don't really know if this was awarded on short notice.  I hope so, but we don't know.
I agree wholeheartedly. And I know we don't know when the contract was rewarded. I was just (probably over-)connecting the dots of recent discussions of responsive launch and her use of that phrasing. I imagine phase one of the open bidding process could be a phone call, "Hey, if we wanted to launch something in under X months for under Y dollars, could you do it?" Total fantasy on my part but I hope the world works that way someday if not today.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: GWH on 06/07/2017 12:47 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
ULA can do 3 months.

http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-announces-rapidlaunch.aspx

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 12:50 AM
Does anyone know how this program is structured? Is the technology owned by the airforce or Boeing?

As a bit of speculation, could the airforce ask Boeing to make a scaled-up version that launches directly from the Falcon 9 first stage booster? They might have enough money to lubricate such an unlikely marriage.

no
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: watermod on 06/07/2017 12:53 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 06/07/2017 12:56 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.
F9 has more than enough performance. No need for heavy.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/07/2017 01:01 AM
After the SES-10 launch, it was stated that there were several more launches planned using flight-proven boosters including FH demo. They also said that a couple more were possibly in the works. Could this be one of the those possible re-use launches? Or even one they knew about at the time but weren't at liberty to disclose at the time?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 06/07/2017 01:01 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
ULA can do 3 months.

http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-announces-rapidlaunch.aspx

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk
But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/07/2017 01:02 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.
FH won't be ready in August. It was explicitly stated this launch is in August this year.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mme on 06/07/2017 01:04 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
ULA can do 3 months.

http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-announces-rapidlaunch.aspx

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk
I misremembered and thought they targeted 6 months. So hopefully there were multiple bids, that would be awesome.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 01:04 AM

But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Spacex could not do a reaction for this mission.  It is not a standard spacecraft bus.  It requires specific integration analyses.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 01:05 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.


It launched on an Atlas V 501 previously
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ulm_atms on 06/07/2017 01:06 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.
F9 has more than enough performance. No need for heavy.

That and there is not enough time to finish the pad for FH with all the launches scheduled.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mme on 06/07/2017 01:06 AM

But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Spacex could not do a reaction for this mission.  It is not a standard spacecraft bus.  It requires specific integration analyses.
OK, so I totally over-assummed about the "responsive" part.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 01:07 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
ULA can do 3 months.

http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-announces-rapidlaunch.aspx

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk
But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Why do you think this needs to fly in August?  Maybe that's just where it ended up on the SpaceX schedule when the contract was signed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: QuantumG on 06/07/2017 01:11 AM
LOL - we all have it wrong - SpaceX will be launching the model of the X-37B that is sitting there on her desk.







I'll see myself out now.

It needs to be at least three times bigger than this.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/07/2017 01:11 AM
Wow, that's unexpected, and wonderful to hear.

Anyone know why there wasn't a public request for bids put out on this launch?  As much as I like the idea of SpaceX winning this launch, it would bother me if they didn't win it in an open bidding process.  Letting all launch providers bid in a public process is really the most important thing.
An open bidding process for a launch in two months?   I am a fan of open bidding but it's hard to imagine anyone else could do this today.  I think this is more a proof of concept for the AF of "responsive" launch capabilities.
ULA can do 3 months.

http://www.ulalaunch.com/ula-announces-rapidlaunch.aspx

Sent from my SM-G903W using Tapatalk
But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Why do you think this needs to fly in August?  Maybe that's just where it ended up on the SpaceX schedule when the contract was signed.
Because they said it would launch in August and it is June. At this point there is little reason to believe they would quote an original contract date from some time ago that would have slipped by now. If they said August today I think it's pretty reasonable to assume they fully intend on this going up in August based on today's current schedule and manifest.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 06/07/2017 01:12 AM
Is this definitely on an F9?   Remember Musk was making quips about a strange FH payload.
Musk said "the silliest thing we can imagine" would launch on FH test flight. I'm not sure what that is, but it's definitely not X-37B.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/07/2017 01:24 AM
But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Why do you think this needs to fly in August?  Maybe that's just where it ended up on the SpaceX schedule when the contract was signed.
Because they said it would launch in August and it is June. At this point there is little reason to believe they would quote an original contract date from some time ago that would have slipped by now. If they said August today I think it's pretty reasonable to assume they fully intend on this going up in August based on today's current schedule and manifest.

The NROL-76 launch date didn't seem to slip after the AMOS-6 accident.  You're throwing together a whole bunch of assumptions.  You're making assumptions about what the mission requirements were, you're making assumptions about when it was bid, you're making assumptions about SpaceX schedule priority.

edit: trimmed quotes
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: LouScheffer on 06/07/2017 01:41 AM

But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Spacex could not do a reaction for this mission.  It is not a standard spacecraft bus.  It requires specific integration analyses.
The X-37B has been around for a while.  Is it possible the Air Force could have given Orbital and SpaceX the integration data perhaps a year or so ago, and said that at some future point they would do a quick response bid, and they could improve their chances by pre-doing the analysis?

Some process such at this would be needed for quick response to become routine.  If the AF wants a launch next week, or even next month, they'll need to accept whatever launcher is ready and has slack in the schedule.  It's entirely possible that this launcher has never launched this payload before, so the integration analysis must already be pre-done.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 06/07/2017 02:08 AM
There goes my pet NROL-76 theory...

Not so fast ... there are two X-37b vehicles, right? :-)

Two that we know of......
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Dante80 on 06/07/2017 02:31 AM
We have come a long way since SpaceX was certified to carry toilet paper and Tang for the USG. With the surprise cheese wedge thrown in for good measure.

A long way, in a little time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Newton_V on 06/07/2017 02:40 AM
This launch service was probably the result of the lawsuit settlement a couple years ago.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 02:56 AM

The X-37B has been around for a while.  Is it possible the Air Force could have given Orbital and SpaceX the integration data perhaps a year or so ago, and said that at some future point they would do a quick response bid, and they could improve their chances by pre-doing the analysis?


That is a large chunk of money and man power and Spacex has shown reluctance to such a thing in the past.  They want to do the work only if they are going to fly it.  They have enough on their plate without doing special studies.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 06/07/2017 04:06 AM
Not surprised. This was to be expected.

AF has the spaceplane they've wanted since Dyna-soar (got into trouble once mocking it to an officer because though heard "dinosaur", and was confused by why they'd want to launch such on a Titan III  ::) ...).

With F9R you'd have lower cost and more potential operational responsiveness to change tempo/schedule, by use of buying flights on available boosters. More flexibility for programs, more flights for the same annual budget.

The limiting factor would be availability of F9US and SC integration, both which could be dealt with fairly easily.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Robotbeat on 06/07/2017 04:28 AM
It might be that X37b really only makes sense operationally with cheap reusable rockets. Like, a surveillance asset that makes multiple large plane change maneuvers and so depletes propellant within a few months and needs relaunching.

(More likely: x37b has gotten a whole bunch of mission objectives to justify its existence like Shuttle did, so you can't necessarily point to one specific killer app... Although cheap launch would help with just about anything, and makes a reusable spaceplane for surveillance actually kind of make sense instead of just being an extravagance.)

After decades of wanting cheap launch and funding things like XS1 etc, USAF must be thrilled to have Falcon 9 land almost literally in their lap (with New Glenn not too far in the future).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: EspenU on 06/07/2017 05:51 AM
Ooo, how cool would it be if this is launched on the NROL-76 core. Core 1032, the USAF/NRO core.
Although the turnaround might be a bit tight, it's probably possible.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: david1971 on 06/07/2017 05:59 AM
So, what's the ballpark estimate for savings in launch cost?  I can't imagine that the AF needs to pinch pennies, discussion on the relative importance of the following factors?

A) Launch costs
B) Schedule flexibility due to core re-use
C) Support or appearance of support of competition in the LV market

What other important angles have I overlooked?

If the savings is "small", then does it make sense to do this as a trial run for what would amount to a block-buy?  Making up numbers, $25M savings might not be much, but if you then decide that Falcon 9 opens new doors for how you run the program and you buy 10 flights?

How does the fact that the spacecraft is reusable make the calculations different?  I know that there are rules of thumb about LV costs as compared to the spacecraft, even if the spacecraft is already "paid for" it still has value.  How is this figured?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 06/07/2017 06:44 AM
There goes my pet NROL-76 theory...

Not so fast ... there are two X-37b vehicles, right? :-)

You're missing the simple conclusion that if some X37B launches were classified, then why wouldn't all of them be classified ?
For me that's what strikes your pet theory down...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/07/2017 06:54 AM
Pretty exciting news and a very bad result for ULA.

Were we aware the X-37B was launcher agnostic?

yes
Thank you. Thought it might have been the case but it's good to have it confirmed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 06/07/2017 08:21 AM
The mission for the the X-37B remains classified so most don't know what it is. What we do know is that the "threat environment" keeps changing so having more options makes sense... Best of luck to USAF and SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/07/2017 08:41 AM
The mission for the the X-37B remains classified so most don't know what it is. What we do know is that the "threat environment" keeps changing so having more options makes sense... Best of luck to USAF and SpaceX.

Well we know one experiment that's going to aboard it.

Quote
The Air Force said it intends to continue building “upon its fourth mission collaboration with experiment partners. The mission will carry the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader (ASETS-11) to test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes in the long duration space environment.”

http://spacenews.com/spacex-will-launch-next-secret-x-37-air-force-mission/#sthash.mrj2h0ga.dpuf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 06/07/2017 09:48 AM
Not surprised. This was to be expected.

Quite. We all remember the note from a few years ago about USAF having bought launches (plural) from SpaceX. And that was before Spacex was awarded that GPS launch. My hunch is this launch of X-37B has been in work for at least two years.

And I think it is safe to say that X-37B will be integrated horizontally for this mission.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 06/07/2017 10:43 AM
Ooo, how cool would it be if this is launched on the NROL-76 core. Core 1032, the USAF/NRO core.
Although the turnaround might be a bit tight, it's probably possible.

Or if it retrieved NROL-76...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/07/2017 10:53 AM
Ooo, how cool would it be if this is launched on the NROL-76 core. Core 1032, the USAF/NRO core.
Although the turnaround might be a bit tight, it's probably possible.

Or if it retrieved NROL-76...

NROL-76 seams a bit too bright based on ground observation. That means large structures that would have to be left behind or fold up.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 06/07/2017 11:56 AM
Ooo, how cool would it be if this is launched on the NROL-76 core. Core 1032, the USAF/NRO core.
Although the turnaround might be a bit tight, it's probably possible.

Or if it retrieved NROL-76...

NROL-76 seams a bit too bright based on ground observation. That means large structures that would have to be left behind or fold up.

Total speculation: USA276 has a in-flight serviceable sensor bay that has test articles in standardised sockets with standardised power and data buses. The X-37 flies up, uses a mini-RMS to remove instruments from USA276 and then install new ones. This would enable in-flight sensor upgrades and replacement of failed sensors without an early termination of the spacecraft's operational lifespan.

FWIW, it's too soon to be doing something like this unless the satellite was deliberately launched without certain instruments as part of a test of this very capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 12:13 PM
Jeesh.   Just stop with all the nonsense.  This is just a spacecraft like GPS-III or NROL-76, or even Eutelsat.  It just happens to be an X-37.  Whether it flies on Falcon or Atlas vehicle  doesn't change what it does.  The USAF Just got a better deal on the launch service.  There is nothing more to read into it.   Also, stop with association with NROL-76
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Norm38 on 06/07/2017 01:27 PM
This was a great read during my morning elliptical workout.  The payload is classified, but the outside is known to everyone. So this launch should have cameras for fairing sep and spacecraft deployment?  We haven't seen video of it flying away before.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rpapo on 06/07/2017 01:30 PM
This was a great read during my morning elliptical workout.  The payload is classified, but the outside is known to everyone. So this launch should have cameras for fairing sep and spacecraft deployment?  We haven't seen video of it flying away before.
Why would the rules be any different for SpaceX? 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mlow on 06/07/2017 01:31 PM
This was a great read during my morning elliptical workout.  The payload is classified, but the outside is known to everyone. So this launch should have cameras for fairing sep and spacecraft deployment?  We haven't seen video of it flying away before.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the orbit is still classified so that would mean a webcast similar to nrol76. No upper coverage after MECO.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vapour_nudge on 06/07/2017 01:35 PM
Interesting to note that Newton_V stated on the 7th of May in the OTV4 thread that OTV5 wouldn't be launching on an Atlas V in 2017. So that should have been a good indicator that SpaceX were tipped to launch it considering the Air Force said it would launch later this year
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/07/2017 01:52 PM
Interesting to note that Newton_V stated on the 7th of May in the OTV4 thread that OTV5 wouldn't be launching on an Atlas V in 2017. So that should have been a good indicator that SpaceX were tipped to launch it considering the Air Force said it would launch later this year

I pointed that out but got shot down at the time. It quite clearly said in the press release the Air Force put out at the time of OTV-4's landing that the X-37B would launch again later this year.

Makes you wonder if they are going for both X-37B vehicles being in orbit at the same time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/07/2017 03:41 PM
Makes you wonder if they are going for both X-37B vehicles being in orbit at the same time.
Speculation, but they seem to have gotten into a tempo of launching a short time after the one in orbit lands. So unless someone announces another contract I think it will be one at a time for a while. So next, next launch in two years?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: clongton on 06/07/2017 03:43 PM
The Air Force has had it's sights set on a reusable launch vehicle for some time, letting study contracts over the years for winged fly-back boosters, RTLS boosters, etc. SpaceX has now stepped into the gap with such a launcher so I imagine the Space Command wing is salivating over the possibilities. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Air Force eventually do a block buy of F9's to be used exclusively for their needs; flown, recovered, refurbished and stored near both CCAFS and Vandenberg. My time in the Air Force taught me that they mean exactly what they say, so when they say "rapid response" they may very well be -reaching- for the capability to grab a flight-proven booster out of the barn on really short notice, mount and integrate whatever payload they want up there, fuel up and launch. Turn-around time measured in days (eventually in hours), not weeks. Remember that Elon has stated over and over again that his turn-around time goals are airline-style; fuel, launch, recover, refuel, relaunch, re-recover, do it again. Nowhere near that yet but it would not surprise me in the least if that is a shared goal with the Air Force.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/07/2017 03:49 PM
Makes you wonder if they are going for both X-37B vehicles being in orbit at the same time.
Speculation, but they seem to have gotten into a tempo of launching a short time after the one in orbit lands. So unless someone announces another contract I think it will be one at a time for a while. So next, next launch in two years?

What about AFSPC-7 in 2018 on an Atlas that could be the other X-37B.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisWilson68 on 06/07/2017 03:59 PM
There goes my pet NROL-76 theory...

Not so fast ... there are two X-37b vehicles, right? :-)

You're missing the simple conclusion that if some X37B launches were classified, then why wouldn't all of them be classified ?
For me that's what strikes your pet theory down...

I think you missed the smiley face. :-)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: laszlo on 06/07/2017 04:10 PM
...  I can't imagine that the AF needs to pinch pennies...

Umm, what planet are you on? This is the age of the Sequester, continuing budget resolutions, DOA budget proposals, etc. Every government agency is pinching pennies.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 04:16 PM
The Air Force has had it's sights set on a reusable launch vehicle for some time, letting study contracts over the years for winged fly-back boosters, RTLS boosters, etc. SpaceX has now stepped into the gap with such a launcher so I imagine the Space Command wing is salivating over the possibilities. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Air Force eventually do a block buy of F9's to be used exclusively for their needs; flown, recovered, refurbished and stored near both CCAFS and Vandenberg. My time in the Air Force taught me that they mean exactly what they say, so when they say "rapid response" they may very well be -reaching- for the capability to grab a flight-proven booster out of the barn on really short notice, mount and integrate whatever payload they want up there, fuel up and launch. Turn-around time measured in days (eventually in hours), not weeks. Remember that Elon has stated over and over again that his turn-around time goals are airline-style; fuel, launch, recover, refuel, relaunch, re-recover, do it again. Nowhere near that yet but it would not surprise me in the least if that is a shared goal with the Air Force.

Not happening.  It doesn't do them any good to buy and physically have the vehicles.  The Air Force could just used the next booster available.  It doesn't need to have them stored.  But that still is not going to happen.  There still is about 6 months of analytic integration required.  And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 06/07/2017 04:23 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong but a 'quick reaction launch on need' scenario such as the one Chuck describes would have had the analytics done years before. A standardised payload would be integrated onto an existing stack using a standardised interface. There would be the maximum effort to avoid deviations of mass, centre of gravity and the like.

And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.

Chuck wasn't claiming that there was such a payload. What he was saying is that the Falcon-9 allows for the USAF or NRO to develop such a payload with the assurance that there is a launch capability suitable for such a spacecraft and mission.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Norm38 on 06/07/2017 04:39 PM
This was a great read during my morning elliptical workout.  The payload is classified, but the outside is known to everyone. So this launch should have cameras for fairing sep and spacecraft deployment?  We haven't seen video of it flying away before.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the orbit is still classified so that would mean a webcast similar to nrol76. No upper coverage after MECO.

We've seen video of Dragon being tracked from the ground after launch. X37-B can be tracked too. If the craft can be observed after separation, what information are they guarding by not showing video up to separation? And won't it maneuver later on?

NROL-76 wasn't shown because they didn't want anyone to know what the bird looked like. We all know what X37-B looks like.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 06/07/2017 04:43 PM
The OTVs have a reputation of being hard to track from the ground; one of them was basically unseen for a year or more.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OnWithTheShow on 06/07/2017 04:46 PM
Not happening.  It doesn't do them any good to buy and physically have the vehicles.  The Air Force could just used the next booster available.  It doesn't need to have them stored.  But that still is not going to happen.  There still is about 6 months of analytic integration required.  And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.

Would it still need 6 months if its a repeat payload? If there were a couple (or fleet) of X-37b wouldn't they be able to react quickly?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Chris Bergin on 06/07/2017 04:51 PM
Chris Gebhardt gives this big news a bit of a write up in the latest article:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: clongton on 06/07/2017 05:27 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong but a 'quick reaction launch on need' scenario such as the one Chuck describes would have had the analytics done years before. A standardised payload would be integrated onto an existing stack using a standardised interface. There would be the maximum effort to avoid deviations of mass, centre of gravity and the like.

And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.

Chuck wasn't claiming that there was such a payload. What he was saying is that the Falcon-9 allows for the USAF or NRO to develop such a payload with the assurance that there is a launch capability suitable for such a spacecraft and mission.

Exactly!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rockets4life97 on 06/07/2017 05:33 PM
This quote from the article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/) confused me:

Quote from: Chris Gebhardt
Currently, it is understood that the mission will utilize a brand new booster – as most of the Block 5 upgrades understood to be specifically for U.S. Air Force missions are not included on previous booster variants.

This was seemingly confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Thursday evening, which issued a statement saying, “This mission will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade launch vehicle.”

Is Chris G saying that Block V could debut in August for this flight? That seems unlikely to me. Block IV though looks likely since we've already seen the second stage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 06/07/2017 05:41 PM
This quote from the article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/) confused me:

Quote from: Chris Gebhardt
Currently, it is understood that the mission will utilize a brand new booster – as most of the Block 5 upgrades understood to be specifically for U.S. Air Force missions are not included on previous booster variants.

This was seemingly confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Thursday evening, which issued a statement saying, “This mission will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade launch vehicle.”

Is Chris G saying that Block V could debut in August for this flight? That seems unlikely to me. Block IV though looks likely since we've already seen the second stage.

There's no way this booster will get a Block 5 stage of any kind. It's barely going to get a full Block 4.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/07/2017 05:46 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong but a 'quick reaction launch on need' scenario such as the one Chuck describes would have had the analytics done years before. A standardised payload would be integrated onto an existing stack using a standardised interface. There would be the maximum effort to avoid deviations of mass, centre of gravity and the like.

And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.

Chuck wasn't claiming that there was such a payload. What he was saying is that the Falcon-9 allows for the USAF or NRO to develop such a payload with the assurance that there is a launch capability suitable for such a spacecraft and mission.

????
Nonsense.  Falcon 9 has not enable this.  This has been talked for decades. 
The standardized interfaces already exist, see EELV SIS. 
The reason it hasn't happened is because it is not launcher driven, it is payload driven.  The spacecraft projects choose to ask for additional services and analyses and not conform to a simple and repeatable integration process.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 06/07/2017 05:59 PM
... Falcon 9 has not enable this.  This has been talked for decades
...

Just coincidence then.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 06/07/2017 06:41 PM
This quote from the article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/) confused me:

Quote from: Chris Gebhardt
Currently, it is understood that the mission will utilize a brand new booster – as most of the Block 5 upgrades understood to be specifically for U.S. Air Force missions are not included on previous booster variants.

This was seemingly confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Thursday evening, which issued a statement saying, “This mission will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade launch vehicle.”

Is Chris G saying that Block V could debut in August for this flight? That seems unlikely to me. Block IV though looks likely since we've already seen the second stage.

There's no way this booster will get a Block 5 stage of any kind. It's barely going to get a full Block 4.

Isn't Block 5 the one that meets Air Force requirements?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/07/2017 06:48 PM
This quote from the article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/) confused me:

Quote from: Chris Gebhardt
Currently, it is understood that the mission will utilize a brand new booster – as most of the Block 5 upgrades understood to be specifically for U.S. Air Force missions are not included on previous booster variants.

This was seemingly confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Thursday evening, which issued a statement saying, “This mission will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade launch vehicle.”

Is Chris G saying that Block V could debut in August for this flight? That seems unlikely to me. Block IV though looks likely since we've already seen the second stage.

This breaking defense article also refers to it as Falcon 9 Upgrade.

Quote
The spaceplane will be boosted into space by a Falcon 9 Upgrade.

http://breakingdefense.com/2017/06/spacex-to-launch-x-37b-for-first-time-not-ulas-atlas-v/

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 06/07/2017 06:48 PM
Isn't Block 5 the one that meets Air Force requirements?
Requirement or a strong request that eventually must be fulfilled for all launches ?
For example, NASA wants the turbine crack problem fixed, but they're not freezing CRS launches despite of that issue.
Just saying, I don't have any specific knowledge, my view just makes more sense than it being a hard requirement.
One big advantage SpaceX has against launch risks is they're launching all the time. Plus with a significant % of launched boosters being recovered, this allows SpaceX to show that even after the landing the turbines blade cracks are still within tolerances.
This shows that the problem isn't that serious, while at the same time a final solution is engineered and tested.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 06/07/2017 06:53 PM
This quote from the article (https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/06/bulgariasat-launch-spacex-secures-x-37b-contract/) confused me:

Quote from: Chris Gebhardt
Currently, it is understood that the mission will utilize a brand new booster – as most of the Block 5 upgrades understood to be specifically for U.S. Air Force missions are not included on previous booster variants.

This was seemingly confirmed by the U.S. Air Force Thursday evening, which issued a statement saying, “This mission will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Upgrade launch vehicle.”

Is Chris G saying that Block V could debut in August for this flight? That seems unlikely to me. Block IV though looks likely since we've already seen the second stage.

There's no way this booster will get a Block 5 stage of any kind. It's barely going to get a full Block 4.

Isn't Block 5 the one that meets Air Force requirements?

Yes, and NASA, from what we've heard. But what I'm saying is that if this flies in August, it won't be Block 5 because it won't be flying by then.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DOCinCT on 06/07/2017 11:10 PM
While the 11,000 lb weight of the X-37B suggests a RTLS, would that still hold once the weight of the fairing is factored in?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 06/08/2017 12:09 AM
While the 11,000 lb weight of the X-37B suggests a RTLS, would that still hold once the weight of the fairing is factored in?

Yes, easily. Dragon is around twice that, and fairing mass trades at around 10:1 with payload mass.

F9 v1.2 performance data to ISS from NASA LSP is attached. This is for Block 1 or maybe Block 2, and a Block 4 launch will be somewhat higher. Payload is in KG, not LBM. X-37B typically launches to 300 km at 40 degrees, which is easier to reach than ISS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 06/08/2017 01:20 AM
Unlike NROL payloads, at this point there is no secret to the outer mold line of the X-37b, nor what it looks like, aside from whatever may be installed in the payload bay. It would be excellent PR for the Air Force to allow video coverage through payload separation in future missions ... Footage of a neat little spaceplane inserted into orbit from the nose of an American rocket seems to be just the kind of imagery America would eat up in this day and age.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jcc on 06/08/2017 01:34 AM
Unlike NROL payloads, at this point there is no secret to the outer mold line of the X-37b, nor what it looks like, aside from whatever may be installed in the payload bay. It would be excellent PR for the Air Force to allow video coverage through payload separation in future missions ... Footage of a neat little spaceplane inserted into orbit from the nose of an American rocket seems to be just the kind of imagery America would eat up in this day and age.

That would be nice, but why didn't they do it for Atlas V launches?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/08/2017 01:47 AM
Unlike NROL payloads, at this point there is no secret to the outer mold line of the X-37b, nor what it looks like, aside from whatever may be installed in the payload bay. It would be excellent PR for the Air Force to allow video coverage through payload separation in future missions ... Footage of a neat little spaceplane inserted into orbit from the nose of an American rocket seems to be just the kind of imagery America would eat up in this day and age.

That would be nice, but why didn't they do it for Atlas V launches?
ULA launch coverage seems to amount to animations after about 10km of altitude. They basically don't show launch video of anything regardless of the payload.

Edit: I have al kinds of respect for ULA and its parent companies (I have a cousin who works for LM) and what they have accomplished in space and with their launch vehicles. That said, their launch coverage is about as exciting and awe-inspiring as watch paint dry.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/08/2017 01:57 AM
But ULA already has 3 launches booked for August, 2 at Canaveral and 1 at Vandenberg. If this was put out for very quick bid in May, than I think ULA would have been hard pressed to get this one added to August without bumping one of the other launches.

Why do you think this needs to fly in August?  Maybe that's just where it ended up on the SpaceX schedule when the contract was signed.
Because they said it would launch in August and it is June. At this point there is little reason to believe they would quote an original contract date from some time ago that would have slipped by now. If they said August today I think it's pretty reasonable to assume they fully intend on this going up in August based on today's current schedule and manifest.

The NROL-76 launch date didn't seem to slip after the AMOS-6 accident.  You're throwing together a whole bunch of assumptions.  You're making assumptions about what the mission requirements were, you're making assumptions about when it was bid, you're making assumptions about SpaceX schedule priority.

edit: trimmed quotes
Sorry. I misread your statement. You are correct that an August launch is probably not needed. I thought you were saying an August launch wasn't their intended date and wouldn't happen. My mistake.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 06/08/2017 02:07 AM
Unlike NROL payloads, at this point there is no secret to the outer mold line of the X-37b, nor what it looks like, aside from whatever may be installed in the payload bay. It would be excellent PR for the Air Force to allow video coverage through payload separation in future missions ... Footage of a neat little spaceplane inserted into orbit from the nose of an American rocket seems to be just the kind of imagery America would eat up in this day and age.

That would be nice, but why didn't they do it for Atlas V launches?
ULA launch coverage seems to amount to animations after about 10km of altitude. They basically don't show launch video of anything regardless of the payload.

Edit: I have al kinds of respect for ULA and its parent companies (I have a cousin who works for LM) and what they have accomplished in space and with their launch vehicles. That said, their launch coverage is about as exciting and awe-inspiring as watch paint dry.
Could be worse, Arianespace show old video footage from other launches during live SRM and faring sep events...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 09:59 AM
Unlike NROL payloads, at this point there is no secret to the outer mold line of the X-37b, nor what it looks like, aside from whatever may be installed in the payload bay. It would be excellent PR for the Air Force to allow video coverage through payload separation in future missions ... Footage of a neat little spaceplane inserted into orbit from the nose of an American rocket seems to be just the kind of imagery America would eat up in this day and age.

That would be nice, but why didn't they do it for Atlas V launches?
ULA launch coverage seems to amount to animations after about 10km of altitude. They basically don't show launch video of anything regardless of the payload.

Edit: I have al kinds of respect for ULA and its parent companies (I have a cousin who works for LM) and what they have accomplished in space and with their launch vehicles. That said, their launch coverage is about as exciting and awe-inspiring as watch paint dry.

You don't watch enough of them, then. They have shown video of spacecraft separation in the past.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Chris Bergin on 06/08/2017 03:13 PM
For what it's worth I'm hearing this was actually awarded a couple of years ago.. and that the one after it is awarded to ULA. Fits the multiple platforms comment.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rockets4life97 on 06/08/2017 03:32 PM
For what it's worth I'm hearing this was actually awarded a couple of years ago.. and that the one after it is awarded to ULA. Fits the multiple platforms comment.

Maybe after the lawsuit? that would make sense to me. The idea that the Air Force does anything rather quickly and could order up the launch this year seems completely off base to me. That isn't how I understand the military the federal bureaucracy to work.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/08/2017 03:37 PM
For what it's worth I'm hearing this was actually awarded a couple of years ago.. and that the one after it is awarded to ULA. Fits the multiple platforms comment.

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn as well Vulcan.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 03:58 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/08/2017 04:00 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big

So just alternating then probably between Falcon 9 & Vulcan.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/08/2017 04:07 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big

So just alternating then probably between Falcon 9 & Vulcan.

It would be on the vehicles selected in the forthcoming AF competition to choose their two launch providers for the 2021-2025 period (add a couple years to that range for heavy payloads).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 06/08/2017 04:19 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big

So just alternating then probably between Falcon 9 & Vulcan.

It would be on the vehicles selected in the forthcoming AF competition to choose their two launch providers for the 2021-2025 period (add a couple years to that range for heavy payloads).

But isn't the very likely choice going to be Falcon 9 & Vulcan if Blue aren't interested in government contracts. Orbital don't have anything to offer other than a paper rocket.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: clongton on 06/08/2017 04:31 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big

So just alternating then probably between Falcon 9 & Vulcan.

It would be on the vehicles selected in the forthcoming AF competition to choose their two launch providers for the 2021-2025 period (add a couple years to that range for heavy payloads).

But isn't the very likely choice going to be Falcon 9 & Vulcan if Blue aren't interested in government contracts. Orbital don't have anything to offer other than a paper rocket.

Vulcan is still just a paper rocket.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: clongton on 06/08/2017 04:39 PM
The reason it hasn't happened is because it is not launcher driven,

Incorrect. It is very much *lack of* launcher driven. The necessity of having to wait for months for a ride changes the whole dynamic. A Rapid-Response reusable F9 can *potentially* change that. I know the AF wants that capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 06:02 PM

Wouldn't surprise me if down the line it didn't get launched on a New Glenn

Blue isn't going after the gov't market.  Also, NG is way too big

So just alternating then probably between Falcon 9 & Vulcan.

It would be on the vehicles selected in the forthcoming AF competition to choose their two launch providers for the 2021-2025 period (add a couple years to that range for heavy payloads).

But isn't the very likely choice going to be Falcon 9 & Vulcan if Blue aren't interested in government contracts. Orbital don't have anything to offer other than a paper rocket.

Vulcan is still just a paper rocket.

No, it isn't.  Its upper stage, avionics, fairing, solid motors, launch pad, LCC already exist.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 06:09 PM
The reason it hasn't happened is because it is not launcher driven,

Incorrect. It is very much *lack of* launcher driven. The necessity of having to wait for months for a ride changes the whole dynamic. A Rapid-Response reusable F9 can *potentially* change that. I know the AF wants that capability.

Wrong.

First, nothing has changed.  This X-37 mission did nothing to demonstrate Rapid-Response nor change the status quo.  It has been on contract from some time.  Falcon 9 is no more Rapid-Response than other vehicles.  Atlas has had the capability to swap a payload.

Second, if the USAF want a rapid response launch vehicle, it could have several Pegasus built up in a depot awaiting launches.  Or it could have Minuteman or Peacekeeper based Minotaurs on pads, in silos or in depots.

Third, it has always been the payload.  Launch vehicles have been available and waiting for payloads.  The payloads are not quick reacting.  They have to be built, shipped, tested and fueled before they can be launched.  Other than GPS which had a few at the launch site (and still had a 60 day call up), there is no project with ready spacecraft.  If they are constellation with a production run, they are stored at the factory.

The Rapid-Response is not a new thing, it is as old as the space program.  the closest the USAF got to it was Thor Agena and Corona.  But they decided that spares on orbit was faster reaction than trying to launch replacements.

This is just another case of taking the X-37 and the news surrounding it and making into something that it isn't
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jg on 06/08/2017 06:29 PM
The Air Force has had it's sights set on a reusable launch vehicle for some time, letting study contracts over the years for winged fly-back boosters, RTLS boosters, etc. SpaceX has now stepped into the gap with such a launcher so I imagine the Space Command wing is salivating over the possibilities. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Air Force eventually do a block buy of F9's to be used exclusively for their needs; flown, recovered, refurbished and stored near both CCAFS and Vandenberg. My time in the Air Force taught me that they mean exactly what they say, so when they say "rapid response" they may very well be -reaching- for the capability to grab a flight-proven booster out of the barn on really short notice, mount and integrate whatever payload they want up there, fuel up and launch. Turn-around time measured in days (eventually in hours), not weeks. Remember that Elon has stated over and over again that his turn-around time goals are airline-style; fuel, launch, recover, refuel, relaunch, re-recover, do it again. Nowhere near that yet but it would not surprise me in the least if that is a shared goal with the Air Force.

Not happening.  It doesn't do them any good to buy and physically have the vehicles.  The Air Force could just used the next booster available.  It doesn't need to have them stored.  But that still is not going to happen.  There still is about 6 months of analytic integration required.  And there are no payloads that can react that quick either.

Come now, Jim.   The Air Force knows their payload's characteristics long in advance: the analytic part of integration can also be done well in advance.

For many payloads, they'll have them available in advance too.  And the AF is quite worried about  adversaries taking out satellites without warning.  Then they'd want to get replacements on orbit quickly.

However, I agree they could just use the next booster available; SpaceX certainly has a lot of them on hand and that does not seem likely to change anytime soon.  As Musk tweeted, they are the dog that caught the school bus, and they did so sooner than they seem to have expected.

More of a concern would be to have a few upper stages /fairing sets that they could tap on short notice. At least until SpaceX catches up on their backlog, they are in short supply.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 06:36 PM

Come now, Jim.   The Air Force knows their payload's characteristics long in advance: the analytic part of integration can also be done well in advance.


Each payload still has differences and its orbital location is not known.  There are still unique analyses for each launch. 
And there is still is the spacecraft prep.  4 to 6 weeks.

The F9 launch processing isn't going to increase the response rate. 
 
and if the USAF was serious about it in the past, they could have had another Atlas V VIF built.  But the Atlas V launch rate capability (60 days) with the 2nd VIF is still higher than the spacecraft response rate.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kansan52 on 06/08/2017 07:03 PM
The only 'big deal' is how unaware we were that this would happen.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: LouScheffer on 06/08/2017 07:32 PM
Come now, Jim.   The Air Force knows their payload's characteristics long in advance: the analytic part of integration can also be done well in advance.

Each payload still has differences and its orbital location is not known.  There are still unique analyses for each launch. 
And there is still is the spacecraft prep.  4 to 6 weeks.
This is certainly the status quo, but does not need to be the case.  You could surely use higher margins to cover minor differences between payloads, and either margins or multiple analyses to cover multiple different orbits.  You could even have fueled, tested spacecraft sitting around (after all, Titan had an entire, hypergolic fueled, rocket + payload sitting around).  It's just that this kind of stuff costs time, money, and risk, and no-one has been serious enough about rapid response to bother.

Quote
and if the USAF was serious about it in the past, they could have had another Atlas V VIF built.
Exactly.  There is all sorts of stuff the USAF could have done if they were serious about this, so you correctly deduce they have not been committed to rapid response, at least up until now.  But from a technical point of view, I see no reason they could not have an ICBM loaded with an imaging satellite, comms relay, or other payload, ready for launch in  a half hour.   It's a matter of will and money, not some technical barrier.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 06/08/2017 08:31 PM
Vulcan is still just a paper rocket.
No, it isn't.  Its upper stage, avionics, fairing, solid motors, launch pad, LCC already exist.

I beg to differ. Without it's core stage and associated main engine Vulcan very much is a paper rocket.
Remember that famous phrase of yours: Rockets are not LEGO's.
You don't just stick an Atlas V upper stage onto a new core stage. There will be mods.
And no, the launch pad does not exist. Neither the existing Atlas V launchpads, nor the existing Delta IV launchpads have the GSE required for methane.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: WizZifnab on 06/08/2017 08:36 PM
Vulcan is still just a paper rocket.

No, it isn't.  Its upper stage, avionics, fairing, solid motors, launch pad, LCC already exist.

So you can actually just lego together a rocket design? And not only that, but the rocket design wouldn't be considered a paper rocket? ;-)

I would agree its not a paper rocket if some part of the rocket involved new hardware that actually exists right now.   Otherwise, we can imagine all sorts of non-paper rockets, right?

Edit: I'm discounting 'new' hardware work that predated the potential usage on the Vulcan.  That said, I think its quite possible that there is some hardware being worked that is dedicated to the Vulcan rocket...but not so much that I would go sternly against someone still feeling its a paper rocket at this point.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/08/2017 08:56 PM
Whether or not you think Vulcan is a real rocket is completely off-topic for this thread.  Further posts on that subject will be removed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/08/2017 10:40 PM
It's a matter of will and money, not some technical barrier.

I would say having the same reliability and capabilities as existing systems as a technical barrier.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Req on 06/08/2017 11:27 PM
Isn't Block 5 the one that meets Air Force requirements?
Requirement or a strong request that eventually must be fulfilled for all launches ?
For example, NASA wants the turbine crack problem fixed, but they're not freezing CRS launches despite of that issue.

NASA has said that they want the turbines fixed as a hard requirement for commercial crew, and that they have been and continue to be comfortable with with situation for CRS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: tvg98 on 06/09/2017 06:23 PM
As some have speculated, ULA was not given the opportunity to bid for this particular payload.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849 (https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849)

Quote
Hey @torybruno, did you bid for the X-37B mission that was awarded to SpaceX?

Quote
No. We were not given the opportunity to bid.




Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: bdub217 on 06/09/2017 06:30 PM
Any word whether they've added the hammerhead crane to 39A to allow vertical integration of this payload?  I understand that the USAF has always sneered at horizontal integration and that one of the few reasons the existing service structure remains on 39A, in addition to accommodating a crew dragon white room and escape infrastructure was to permit the vertical integration of national security payloads. At least as of the last launch - haven't seen any new hardware go up on the FSS that would presumably be able to allow this. Anyone got any insight?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/09/2017 06:44 PM
Any word whether they've added the hammerhead crane to 39A to allow vertical integration of this payload?  I understand that the USAF has always sneered at horizontal integration and that one of the few reasons the existing service structure remains on 39A, in addition to accommodating a crew dragon white room and escape infrastructure was to permit the vertical integration of national security payloads. At least as of the last launch - haven't seen any new hardware go up on the FSS that would presumably be able to allow this. Anyone got any insight?

Hasn't been done, no indication it would be done for this launch.  Also don't know anything about the supposed "sneering" at horizontal integration, the GPS 3 satellites can be horizontally integrated.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Thorny on 06/09/2017 07:13 PM
I understand that the USAF has always sneered at horizontal integration and that one of the few reasons the existing service structure remains on 39A,

The Rotating Service Structure will be torn down, they just haven't gotten around to it yet with other priorities like getting 39A up and running and rebuilding 40.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 06/10/2017 10:46 AM
As some have speculated, ULA was not given the opportunity to bid for this particular payload.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849 (https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849)

Quote
Hey @torybruno, did you bid for the X-37B mission that was awarded to SpaceX?

Quote
No. We were not given the opportunity to bid.

Seems unfair, doesn't it?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rpapo on 06/10/2017 10:57 AM
Seems unfair, doesn't it?
They could have put it out for bid, and SpaceX could have won, but I don't think the USAF really wanted that in this case.  It appears they wanted to ensure that SpaceX would do the extra work required for the first launch of the X-37 on a Falcon.  That way they'd get an alternate (and almost completely unrelated) launcher for their payload.  If they then alternate ULA and SpaceX, and perhaps Blue Origin later on, they keep multiple launch options available, current and in practice.  That is to the advantage of the USAF.

There's relatively little doubt that SpaceX could win every launch if it was entirely about money.  And little doubt that ULA could win every launch if it were entirely about reliability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 06/10/2017 11:18 AM
Seems unfair, doesn't it?
They could have put it out for bid, and SpaceX could have won, but I don't think the USAF really wanted that in this case.  It appears they wanted to ensure that SpaceX would do the extra work required for the first launch of the X-37 on a Falcon.  That way they'd get an alternate (and almost completely unrelated) launcher for their payload.  If they then alternate ULA and SpaceX, and perhaps Blue Origin later on, they keep multiple launch options available, current and in practice.  That is to the advantage of the USAF.

There's relatively little doubt that SpaceX could win every launch if it was entirely about money.  And little doubt that ULA could win every launch if it were entirely about reliability.

The competitive environment is forcing SpaceX to work on improving reliability (as are their internal finances) and ULA to work on costs.  Great progress is being made on both sides.  Free and open competition has improved the NSS launch bottom line -- hopefully they can avoid undercutting this virtuous cycle with 'managed' competition.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/10/2017 12:30 PM
Fairing question. We know that spaceX has been working on fairing recovery, and we know in the past they have placed gopro's in the fairing that have washed up on beaches. Being a government mission, chances they will attempt fairing recovery and at the same time have cameras in the fairings?

Just seems like a no go, while they are working out the kinks and the customer would most likely be less than thrilled if they lost one of the gopro's.

That said, the video of the fairing separating from the X-37B would be awesome.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 06/10/2017 02:53 PM
Fairing question. We know that spaceX has been working on fairing recovery, and we know in the past they have placed gopro's in the fairing that have washed up on beaches. Being a government mission, chances they will attempt fairing recovery and at the same time have cameras in the fairings?

Just seems like a no go, while they are working out the kinks and the customer would most likely be less than thrilled if they lost one of the gopro's.

That said, the video of the fairing separating from the X-37B would be awesome.

I'm not sure about the fairing sep being shown, because previous AFSPC missions flown on Atlas V and Delta IV were classified like NRO missions were, so I would expect a similar webcast to NROL-76 in which after stage separation, the booster gets all the attention.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 06/10/2017 03:01 PM
(mod) Let's not wander too far down the ULA vs. SpaceX and cost vs. reliability and fair vs. unfair and bid vs. no bid paths ok? Comments were noted and legit to mention, thanks for finding and citing... but this is a mission thread.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lars-J on 06/10/2017 05:25 PM
As some have speculated, ULA was not given the opportunity to bid for this particular payload.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849 (https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849)

Quote
Hey @torybruno, did you bid for the X-37B mission that was awarded to SpaceX?

Quote
No. We were not given the opportunity to bid.

Seems unfair, doesn't it?

It would be highly ironic of ULA to complain about closed bidding.  ;D  In this case DoD is merely making sure they have two providers. Presumably future bids of X-37 launches will now be open to both.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: clongton on 06/10/2017 05:36 PM
...And little doubt that ULA could win every launch if it were entirely about reliability.

Only so long as Atlas, not Vulcan, is the launch vehicle. Once Atlas is retired Vulcan will need to stand on its own with brand new no-history engines. Upper stage has lots of heritage but the main stage is really still a paper rocket at this point. 

But while Vulcan is gaining history the F9 will be as well. Unless Vulcan gains a lot of outside launches Falcon will have the edge on both cost and reliability. I expect to see Falcon become the launcher of choice for the X-37 going forward as Atlas reaches EoS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Nomadd on 06/10/2017 06:37 PM

That said, the video of the fairing separating from the X-37B would be awesome.

Done to "Also sprach Zarathustra"?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 06/10/2017 11:47 PM
Fairing question. We know that spaceX has been working on fairing recovery, and we know in the past they have placed gopro's in the fairing that have washed up on beaches. Being a government mission, chances they will attempt fairing recovery and at the same time have cameras in the fairings?

Just seems like a no go, while they are working out the kinks and the customer would most likely be less than thrilled if they lost one of the gopro's.

That said, the video of the fairing separating from the X-37B would be awesome.

I'm not sure about the fairing sep being shown, because previous AFSPC missions flown on Atlas V and Delta IV were classified like NRO missions were, so I would expect a similar webcast to NROL-76 in which after stage separation, the booster gets all the attention.
I won't be surprised either way. NROL-76 wasn't shown because knowing what the satellite looked like would tell watchers about what it is doing. But the outside appearance of the X-37B is well known publicly so hiding it during the launch doesn't really accomplish anything. The secret payloads will be enclosed in the payload bay so nothing will be visible. But it is also SOP for no video so they may stick to that. Only time will tell.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/12/2017 09:50 AM
My real question, is will they attempt fairing recovery, and if they do, would they remove any recording devices. They have in the past stuck gopro's in the fairings.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 06/12/2017 10:50 AM
@kevin-rf

It would probably be simpler just not to bother with putting any recording devices on the fairings. It would be even simpler just not to attempt experimental recoveries on classified national security payloads. There are plenty of other opportunities in their manifest.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Norm38 on 06/12/2017 11:18 AM
What information about the launch orbit could be gleaned from fairing cameras that wouldn't already be known from the fairing splash down maritime warnings?  Everyone knows the launch direction.
What else is there to hide?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cscott on 06/12/2017 01:10 PM
What information about the launch orbit could be gleaned from fairing cameras that wouldn't already be known from the fairing splash down maritime warnings?  Everyone knows the launch direction.
What else is there to hide?
I think you need to be answering the reverse question: given that the mission is classified, who is going to do the effort to declassify and release this footage, and why? Who is going to file the paperwork to allow a diagnostic camera to be present in the first place? Who is going to certify that SpaceX's chain of custody of that footage meets the appropriate data security standards?

By default, it's probably easier just to leave off the cameras.  If the footage manages to be recorded and/or broadcast, someone had a strong interest in doing so: either SpaceX really needed the diagnostics, or the customer really wanted the publicity.  It would take an active effort.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: matthewkantar on 06/12/2017 05:57 PM
From sketches in the speculative XB-37 on Falcon thread, the fit of the orbiter in the fairing is tight. I would think the Airforce and SpaceX would not want to do the fairing separation blind. Especially for the first time. The knowledge that could be gained in the event of a mishap far outweighs keeping pictures of a (widely photographed) spacecraft secret.

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/12/2017 06:14 PM
From sketches in the speculative XB-37 on Falcon thread, the fit of the orbiter in the fairing is tight. I would think the Airforce and SpaceX would not want to do the fairing separation blind. Especially for the first time. The knowledge that could be gained in the event of a mishap far outweighs keeping pictures of a (widely photographed) spacecraft secret.

Matthew

You are misinterpreting the picture. That is the allowable payload envelope, not the physical sides of the fairing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ragmar on 06/12/2017 06:27 PM
What USAF stakeholder body was responsible for administering this launch contract?  Was it SMC?  Or was it the Operationally Responsive Space office?  Or someone else?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: matthewkantar on 06/12/2017 06:50 PM
From sketches in the speculative XB-37 on Falcon thread, the fit of the orbiter in the fairing is tight. I would think the Airforce and SpaceX would not want to do the fairing separation blind. Especially for the first time. The knowledge that could be gained in the event of a mishap far outweighs keeping pictures of a (widely photographed) spacecraft secret.

Matthew

You are misinterpreting the picture. That is the allowable payload envelope, not the physical sides of the fairing.

I am aware that the the attempt was an amateur one and not official, my point stands. There will be a camera or cameras imaging the fairing separation from the ground as well as from the launch vehicle. The public may never see the footage.

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Hauerg on 06/12/2017 07:11 PM
As some have speculated, ULA was not given the opportunity to bid for this particular payload.

https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849 (https://twitter.com/torybruno/status/873243359204302849)

Quote
Hey @torybruno, did you bid for the X-37B mission that was awarded to SpaceX?

Quote
No. We were not given the opportunity to bid.

So what? Was there a bidding process for the first 4 launches ???
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/12/2017 07:13 PM
From sketches in the speculative XB-37 on Falcon thread, the fit of the orbiter in the fairing is tight. I would think the Airforce and SpaceX would not want to do the fairing separation blind. Especially for the first time. The knowledge that could be gained in the event of a mishap far outweighs keeping pictures of a (widely photographed) spacecraft secret.

Matthew

Not needed.  fairing separation was blind for decades.  Fairing clearance analysis is done without cameras.  There is no need to verify it in flight.  It does little good to do it after the fact. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/12/2017 08:07 PM
Not needed.  fairing separation was blind for decades.  Fairing clearance analysis is done without cameras.  There is no need to verify it in flight.  It does little good to do it after the fact. 
Unless it's a payload that will fly often.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 06/12/2017 08:22 PM
From sketches in the speculative XB-37 on Falcon thread, the fit of the orbiter in the fairing is tight. I would think the Airforce and SpaceX would not want to do the fairing separation blind. Especially for the first time. The knowledge that could be gained in the event of a mishap far outweighs keeping pictures of a (widely photographed) spacecraft secret.

Matthew

Not needed.  fairing separation was blind for decades.  Fairing clearance analysis is done without cameras.  There is no need to verify it in flight.  It does little good to do it after the fact. 
Correct. The fairing envelope is there for a reason. It is the space inside the fairing that will absolutely never be impacted by fairing separation, as determined by fairing separation testing on the ground. The fairing envelope is for that reason always slightly smaller than the actual volume inside the fairing. As long as the X-37B fits inside the fairing envelope (even if it is an exact fit with the envelope) than there is no need whatsoever to check a clean separation by any other means than 'just' telemetry. No live stream camera's needed, let alone GoPro's.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rpapo on 06/12/2017 09:36 PM
It's not rocket science.  The railroads have had the notion of standard clearance for well over a century.  As long as the rolling stock in built within the limits of the inner clearance box, and nothing outside the train impinges on the outer clearance box, everybody's happy.

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/rcbook_55515_7.pdf
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: LouScheffer on 06/12/2017 11:09 PM
The fairing envelope is there for a reason. It is the space inside the fairing that will absolutely never be impacted by fairing separation, as determined by fairing separation testing on the ground. The fairing envelope is for that reason always slightly smaller than the actual volume inside the fairing. As long as the X-37B fits inside the fairing envelope (even if it is an exact fit with the envelope) than there is no need whatsoever to check a clean separation by any other means than 'just' telemetry. No live stream camera's needed, let alone GoPro's.
This kind of thinking always makes me a bit nervous.   I agree that it should not be any problem.  But especially if this is the first payload that actually touches the envelope, you might want to check.  After all, it's at least theoretically possible that tests on the ground might not replicate exactly the conditions in flight.

Software engineers often put tests into code that are impossible by design.  For example, suppose you do some calculation that gives some result x, known to be greater than 0.  Nevertheless, you'll often see code like:

/* At this point, x is >= 0 */
if (x < 0) then
    print "This can't happen: x < 0" then stop.

These are called "assertions".  In theory, they just make your code slower and bigger, since the conditions can never be met.  In practice, they get triggered more than you might think, and they make finding the problem MUCH easier, since the bad condition (which you thought could never happen) does not propagate to cause more obscure problems later. 

So the trade space is "adding something you are pretty sure is not needed" vs "easier debugging if something goes wrong".    Especially early in the life of a product this can be a good trade, or at least one you might look at.  And rockets are always pretty early in their life.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 06/12/2017 11:48 PM

Software engineers often put tests into code that are impossible by design.  For example, suppose you do some calculation that gives some result x, known to be greater than 0.  Nevertheless, you'll often see code like:

/* At this point, x is >= 0 */
if (x < 0) then
    print "This can't happen: x < 0" then stop.


And thanks to agile and code reviews when the reviewers see it, they make you strip it out of your code because it can't happen! 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: fthomassy on 06/13/2017 04:34 AM

Software engineers often put tests into code that are impossible by design.  For example, suppose you do some calculation that gives some result x, known to be greater than 0.  Nevertheless, you'll often see code like:

/* At this point, x is >= 0 */
if (x < 0) then
    print "This can't happen: x < 0" then stop.


And thanks to agile and code reviews when the reviewers see it, they make you strip it out of your code because it can't happen!

Not any more. Now you put that assertion into your test code and never release without testing.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 06/13/2017 05:01 AM

Software engineers often put tests into code that are impossible by design.  For example, suppose you do some calculation that gives some result x, known to be greater than 0.  Nevertheless, you'll often see code like:

/* At this point, x is >= 0 */
if (x < 0) then
    print "This can't happen: x < 0" then stop.


And thanks to agile and code reviews when the reviewers see it, they make you strip it out of your code because it can't happen! 

We are a ways off topic. So, being a mod, I'll take last word... don't work at places like that if you can help it. Back on topic please
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 06/13/2017 07:06 AM
The fairing envelope is there for a reason. It is the space inside the fairing that will absolutely never be impacted by fairing separation, as determined by fairing separation testing on the ground. The fairing envelope is for that reason always slightly smaller than the actual volume inside the fairing. As long as the X-37B fits inside the fairing envelope (even if it is an exact fit with the envelope) than there is no need whatsoever to check a clean separation by any other means than 'just' telemetry. No live stream camera's needed, let alone GoPro's.
This kind of thinking always makes me a bit nervous.   I agree that it should not be any problem.  But especially if this is the first payload that actually touches the envelope, you might want to check.
No need to. The envelope boundary is determined with a very comfortable margin. The payload is just as safe in touching the envelope as it is being fully inside the envelope. Things only become unpredictable once the payload is (partly) outside the payload envelope. That will not be the case for X-37B however.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 06/13/2017 08:31 AM
I really think that people need to take some sort of chill pill about this matter. If the X-37B could not fit, comfortably and with safety margin, inside the Falcon-9's PLF, then this launch would not be happening.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lumina on 06/18/2017 06:49 PM
I have two theories regarding the announcement of this no-bid contract two months before launch.

A) That it was part of the settlement of the court case, and that this part had remained unannounced pending SpaceX hitting other certification milestones and successful DOD launches. That is, perhaps the contract was concluded a long time ago but had remained undisclosed because it was associated with the out-of-court settlement.

B) That SpaceX, as part of the process of becoming a launch provider for USAF, had/has to demonstrate that it could launch at short notice; under this theory, the X37B launch is a pop quiz and SpaceX is being "tested".
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 06/19/2017 11:27 AM
Not B
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jpo234 on 06/21/2017 06:00 PM
Quote
SecAf Wilson just said SpaceX would "go up again on August 17" so presumably that's the exact date for the X-37B launch.


https://mobile.twitter.com/SpcPlcyOnline/status/877538416593960960
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 06/28/2017 02:06 PM
Spaceflight Now (https://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/) is showing this on August 28.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: smoliarm on 07/12/2017 01:39 PM
As the second part of the year seems to be pretty packed with launches, a chart like 'FPIP' could be useful.
So here is my version.
Notes:
The chart shows Falcon launches (blue marks) from Eastern Range (SLC-39A and SLC-40) and from Western Range (SLC-4E)
along with launches by ULA and Orbital (red marks) from the same ranges - for possible scheduling conflicts.
Light brown shadings show ongoing repair work on SLC-40 ("A") and pad modifications at SLC-39A ("B" & "C").
Red frame shows closing period for Eastern Range maintenance.
Green vertical line - current date.
And the last note - on the difference between blue and red marks.
All the ULA launches have dates. Of course they are flexible (subject to change), but the planned date is defined. Therefore the red marks show these planned dates for ULA/Orbital launches, at least what we know currently.
This is not the case with SpaceX' plans, and the blue marks are mostly (with two exceptions) guesswork. This is illustrated on the example of X-37: for this launch we have two dates (Aug 17 and Aug 28), and I showed this interval with dotted blue frame. However, I did not do this for the rest of launches, this would make chart unreadable.
Basically, this chart shows only two specific moments:
a tight "knot" of 3 launches from Cape in August and a similar "knot" from VAFB in September.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ronsmytheiii on 07/26/2017 05:55 PM
check out the former OPF-1, now home to the x-37B!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXBI2Pfggx5/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 07/26/2017 06:52 PM
Quote
Changes to Eastern Range launch schedule: SpaceX CRS-12 now no earlier than 8/14; SpaceX X-37B NET 9/7; ULA NROL-52 NET 9/25.

https://twitter.com/emrekelly/status/890273595166949377
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cygnusx112 on 08/14/2017 08:56 PM
Is this launch locked into 39A or is there a chance it could go from 40 if it's ready?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 08/14/2017 08:58 PM
Is this launch locked into 39A or is there a chance it could go from 40 if it's ready?

We're about 3 weeks from the launch date.  SLC-40 is not ready.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kaputnik on 08/23/2017 05:03 PM
Quote
It's the @SpaceX fairing for X-37B!

https://twitter.com/scottishrobot/status/898939938917552128

Does this confirm vertical integration? And if it does, did we know this already?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 08/23/2017 05:10 PM
Nothing new, still mated to the LV horizontally
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: deruch on 08/24/2017 08:51 PM
From the Update Thread:
SpaceX Falcon 9 (OTV-5 (X-37B)) Static Fire at KSC 39A is NET September 1 (L2)

Static fire now August 31 per update.

With a static fire on September 1st August 31st, does that possibly indicate that the schedule will be sliding left from the previously discussed September 7th launch date?  Or is this just to allow extra time for mating given the unusual payload? 


EDIT: changed SF date per update from Chris.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Brovane on 08/24/2017 08:58 PM
From the Update Thread:
SpaceX Falcon 9 (OTV-5 (X-37B)) Static Fire at KSC 39A is NET September 1 (L2)

With a static fire on September 1st, does that possibly indicate that the schedule will be sliding left from the previously discussed September 7th launch date?  Or is this just to allow extra time for mating given the unusual payload?

Considering Monday 9/4 is a Holiday in the US, I would expect that SpaceX wanted to get the static fire out of the way before the holiday weekend. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Brovane on 08/31/2017 09:41 PM
With the Static fire out of the way, hopefully, the SpaceX team can enjoy Labor Day weekend, unlike last year. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jpo234 on 09/01/2017 08:14 AM
So why the switch to a Falcon 9?

Flexibility for the customer - USAF. Now the X-37B won't be tied to just one launch vehicle. It is possible (and even likely) that the next flight will be on an Atlas V again.

After the F9 is proven for the X-37B, shouldn't future launches be up for competition?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/01/2017 08:54 AM
So why the switch to a Falcon 9?

Flexibility for the customer - USAF. Now the X-37B won't be tied to just one launch vehicle. It is possible (and even likely) that the next flight will be on an Atlas V again.

After the F9 is proven for the X-37B, shouldn't future launches be up for competition?

Theoretically, yes. I am sure that both ULA and SpaceX will have to answer the question: "How easily can you slot us into your schedule?" The USAF will want to launch their mission when they want it launched and won't be interested in hearing about anyone's backlog.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rebel44 on 09/01/2017 09:16 AM
So why the switch to a Falcon 9?

Flexibility for the customer - USAF. Now the X-37B won't be tied to just one launch vehicle. It is possible (and even likely) that the next flight will be on an Atlas V again.

After the F9 is proven for the X-37B, shouldn't future launches be up for competition?

Theoretically, yes. I am sure that both ULA and SpaceX will have to answer the question: "How easily can you slot us into your schedule?" The USAF will want to launch their mission when they want it launched and won't be interested in hearing about anyone's backlog.

If things go well at SpaceX, backlog should be gone (or mostly gone) by the end of 2018, so it shoudnt be an issue after that
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: SimonFD on 09/01/2017 09:50 AM
Quote
Air Force preparing to launch fifth Orbital Test Vehicle mission
By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published August 31, 2017
...
This will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The fifth OTV mission will also be launched into, and landed from, a higher inclination orbit than prior missions to further expand the X-37B’s orbital envelope.
...

Bold mine

Is this because they're using Falcon 9 or could/can Atlas allow this as well?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: matthewkantar on 09/01/2017 12:27 PM
I keep hearing there will be no video from inside the fairing, after fairing sep, or at payload.realease. Can anyone tell me what secret this would reveal that isn't revealed in pictures of the payload sitting on a runway?

Matthew
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/01/2017 12:30 PM
@matthewkantar,

We don't know what kind of secret it might reveal. Keeping it that way is the whole point of the 'no camera' rule! ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 09/01/2017 12:38 PM
https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/08/31/falcon-9-rocket-fired-up-for-launch-of-military-mini-shuttle/

This link says that several cubesats will be flown either in the X-37B's payload bay or on a special adapter on the second stage.

This makes me think that the mission should be given an AFSPC designation rather than keep the OTV-5 name.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ictogan on 09/01/2017 01:21 PM
Quote
Air Force preparing to launch fifth Orbital Test Vehicle mission
By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published August 31, 2017
...
This will be the program’s first launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The fifth OTV mission will also be launched into, and landed from, a higher inclination orbit than prior missions to further expand the X-37B’s orbital envelope.
...

Bold mine

Is this because they're using Falcon 9 or could/can Atlas allow this as well?
Wikipedia puts the launch mass of X-37B at 5,400kg. Atlas V can do 8,123kg to LEO with 5m fairing even without any SRBs, so it has plenty of performance to spare for higher inclinations.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 09/01/2017 01:40 PM
So why the switch to a Falcon 9?

Flexibility for the customer - USAF. Now the X-37B won't be tied to just one launch vehicle. It is possible (and even likely) that the next flight will be on an Atlas V again.

After the F9 is proven for the X-37B, shouldn't future launches be up for competition?

Theoretically, yes. I am sure that both ULA and SpaceX will have to answer the question: "How easily can you slot us into your schedule?" The USAF will want to launch their mission when they want it launched and won't be interested in hearing about anyone's backlog.

This launch seems to have been arranged around when SpaceX had maximum backlog.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/01/2017 03:36 PM
I've just seen this story and this mission is a real turning point for SX in so many ways.

Opening up X37b flights to SX, deciding if they are going to swap SLC's for final prep for the FH maiden flight, first flight of an actual reusable payload etc.

This is one of those real "choke points" in history where so much hard work pays off.

All launches have a lot riding on them from the customers PoV but I think it's been a while since SX have had quite so much riding on one going without any significant (IRL there's always a few small glitches) mishap.

What a tremendously exciting time to be following space flight.  :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/01/2017 03:40 PM
@matthewkantar,

We don't know what kind of secret it might reveal. Keeping it that way is the whole point of the 'no camera' rule! ;D
Although technically what's probably really secret is inside the X37b's payload bay.

I doubt that will be open during separation, or for a good while after, although IIRC it also houses the PV panels for on orbit power, and the vehicle can't run on batteries too long.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: chipguy on 09/01/2017 05:13 PM
https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/08/31/falcon-9-rocket-fired-up-for-launch-of-military-mini-shuttle/

This link says that several cubesats will be flown either in the X-37B's paylod bay or in a special adapter on the second stage.

This makes me think that the mission should be given an AFSPC designation rather than keep the OTV-5 name.

The term cubesats may be a polite way to describe acquisition targets for evaluating a new sensor suite
carried by the X-37B. The deployment secrecy may be because the nature of these "cubesats" could
reveal too much about the sensors or the purpose of the system(s) they are being developed for. Or
the "cubesats" themselves may be test beds for new stealth technology to evade X-37B sensors.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: obi-wan on 09/01/2017 06:51 PM
@matthewkantar,

We don't know what kind of secret it might reveal. Keeping it that way is the whole point of the 'no camera' rule! ;D
All of the shuttle military missions were secret because they didn't want people to know which ones were really secret. I'd be willing to bet, like all the NRO missions, flight coverage will end at fairing separation "at the user's request" and we get great coverage of first stage landing! (Has there been definitive word yet on whether this will be RTLS or ASDS?)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/01/2017 06:54 PM
@matthewkantar,

We don't know what kind of secret it might reveal. Keeping it that way is the whole point of the 'no camera' rule! ;D
All of the shuttle military missions were secret because they didn't want people to know which ones were really secret. I'd be willing to bet, like all the NRO missions, flight coverage will end at fairing separation "at the user's request" and we get great coverage of first stage landing! (Has there been definitive word yet on whether this will be RTLS or ASDS?)

RTLS
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/01/2017 08:30 PM
https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/08/31/falcon-9-rocket-fired-up-for-launch-of-military-mini-shuttle/

This link says that several cubesats will be flown either in the X-37B's paylod bay or in a special adapter on the second stage.

This makes me think that the mission should be given an AFSPC designation rather than keep the OTV-5 name.

The term cubesats may be a polite way to describe acquisition targets for evaluating a new sensor suite
carried by the X-37B. The deployment secrecy may be because the nature of these "cubesats" could
reveal too much about the sensors or the purpose of the system(s) they are being developed for. Or
the "cubesats" themselves may be test beds for new stealth technology to evade X-37B sensors.

Or they might be designed to test technology to observe other satellites in orbit and use the X-37B as a test target.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Norm38 on 09/03/2017 01:38 PM
Let's hope they don't have scrubs or delays.  On Friday, the day after launch day Hurricane Irma is going to be in the SE Bahamas, on a course that will likely take it up the Florida coast in the days that follow. Models are converging on the more southerly track that isn't turning north as much.

Edit: Friday morning for the Bahamas, so they should still have Friday if needed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DOCinCT on 09/03/2017 04:04 PM
Let's hope they don't have scrubs or delays.  On Friday, the day after launch day Hurricane Irma is going to be in the SE Bahamas, on a course that will likely take it up the Florida coast in the days that follow. Models are converging on the more southerly track that isn't turning north as much.

Edit: Friday morning for the Bahamas, so they should still have Friday if needed.
As NOAA is quick to point out, the effects of a hurricane or tropical storm extend quite a distance out from the point center or track line.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: BeamRider on 09/03/2017 04:40 PM
Although the X-37B is well within the capabilities of both the Atlas V and F9, I think Spacex launching the USAF's "crown jewel" will overcome a subconscious prejudice in favor of the "big boy" ULA among the space-aware... and then the Spacex booster flies back and lands! Should be a real milestone, real or perhaps only perceived, but like they say "perception is reality". I'll bet Elon is super-uptight on this one!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 09/03/2017 05:06 PM
Although the X-37B is well within the capabilities of both the Atlas V and F9, I think Spacex launching the USAF's "crown jewel" will overcome a subconscious prejudice in favor of the "big boy" ULA among the space-aware... and then the Spacex booster flies back and lands! Should be a real milestone, real or perhaps only perceived, but like they say "perception is reality". I'll bet Elon is super-uptight on this one!
Minor nit: the X-37B is hardly the USAF's "crown jewel". In fact, it is one of the most expendable assets USAF has. X-37B is a "nice to have" platform for experimenting with new technologies. But it is not a platform that is required for day-to-day operational readiness. Unlike for example GPS birds, military comsats, military weather-sats and such.
So, there is not much risk for USAF in launching X-37B on a Falcon 9. They can afford to lose one should anything go catastrophically wrong.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: CapitalistOppressor on 09/03/2017 05:56 PM
Let's hope they don't have scrubs or delays.  On Friday, the day after launch day Hurricane Irma is going to be in the SE Bahamas, on a course that will likely take it up the Florida coast in the days that follow. Models are converging on the more southerly track that isn't turning north as much.

Edit: Friday morning for the Bahamas, so they should still have Friday if needed.

Lots of poor weather in the forecast before a possible Irma.  Hopefully they get a clear window.   
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 09/03/2017 08:11 PM
Although the X-37B is well within the capabilities of both the Atlas V and F9, I think Spacex launching the USAF's "crown jewel" will overcome a subconscious prejudice in favor of the "big boy" ULA among the space-aware... and then the Spacex booster flies back and lands! Should be a real milestone, real or perhaps only perceived, but like they say "perception is reality". I'll bet Elon is super-uptight on this one!
Minor nit: the X-37B is hardly the USAF's "crown jewel". In fact, it is one of the most expendable assets USAF has. X-37B is a "nice to have" platform for experimenting with new technologies. But it is not a platform that is required for day-to-day operational readiness. Unlike for example GPS birds, military comsats, military weather-sats and such.
So, there is not much risk for USAF in launching X-37B on a Falcon 9. They can afford to lose one should anything go catastrophically wrong.
Indeed.

Which is why it might also be the first AF asset to fly on a reused booster.

(Which would match a program desire to afford a low cost, quick turn/recycle rate.)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/04/2017 06:42 AM
Indeed.

Which is why it might also be the first AF asset to fly on a reused booster.

(Which would match a program desire to afford a low cost, quick turn/recycle rate.)
That was my point. Usually it's the customer who has the most riding on a launch, but in this case it's SX. Shotwell was very clear that if you're in the US launch services business you need to have a part of the NSS market and it's regular launching of $Bn payloads.  :(
Likewise any serious mishap  will put the pad conversion plans for the first FH to a NET of 2018.  :(

OTOH they have kept up a reasonable launch cadence at the Cape so their crews should be very familiar with the procedures, as well as getting pad turnaround time down.

TBH I've always wondered about LV's that launch a couple of times a year. Unless absolutely everything is documented (and Murphy's Law says something always isn't) I find it very hard to believe that a crew can settle into a routine, unless they are running continual simulations, which sounds quite expensive if you're not launching anything.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: SpaceCadet1983 on 09/04/2017 09:55 AM
Quote
Minor nit: the X-37B is hardly the USAF's "crown jewel". In fact, it is one of the most expendable assets USAF has. X-37B is a "nice to have" platform for experimenting with new technologies. But it is not a platform that is required for day-to-day operational readiness. Unlike for example GPS birds, military comsats, military weather-sats and such.
So, there is not much risk for USAF in launching X-37B on a Falcon 9. They can afford to lose one should anything go catastrophically wrong.

The X-37B may not be the USAF's "crown jewel," but it's still an important program. SpaceX better not "screw the pooch" during the launch/ascent phase.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rebel44 on 09/04/2017 10:28 AM
What is planned launch window for this mission?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/04/2017 11:12 AM
What is planned launch window for this mission?

Unknown at this time as no launch time has been published.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 09/04/2017 11:19 AM
Quote
Minor nit: the X-37B is hardly the USAF's "crown jewel". In fact, it is one of the most expendable assets USAF has. X-37B is a "nice to have" platform for experimenting with new technologies. But it is not a platform that is required for day-to-day operational readiness. Unlike for example GPS birds, military comsats, military weather-sats and such.
So, there is not much risk for USAF in launching X-37B on a Falcon 9. They can afford to lose one should anything go catastrophically wrong.

The X-37B may not be the USAF's "crown jewel," but it's still an important program. SpaceX better not "screw the pooch" during the launch/ascent phase.
Every launch they perform is important. Not just the government ones.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DOCinCT on 09/04/2017 08:16 PM
Quote
@flatoday_jdean
Weather 60% "go" for Thurs. launch of Falcon 9, #X37B from KSC; window not specified. #Irma not a factor (yet).
https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/904724331242115072 (https://twitter.com/flatoday_jdean/status/904724331242115072)
With models now showing IRMA on north coast of Cuba by Saturday morning, not a lot of options for delaying a day or two.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: tvg98 on 09/04/2017 09:17 PM
Rumour is that the launch is at 1:23 PM ET, meaning I'll miss it by six hours or so  :-\
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/05/2017 02:47 AM
Rumour is that the launch is at 1:23 PM ET, meaning I'll miss it by six hours or so  :-\
I thought it was supposed to go 3 2 1 ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: laika_fr on 09/05/2017 05:29 AM
GFS model overview :

(http://gifmaker.org/download/20170904-17-R9gfw9mo3PqjCJ4v/GIFMaker.org_2x4Clg.gif)

Irma has a little sister staying at large.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Perchlorate on 09/05/2017 09:02 AM
GFS model overview :

(http://gifmaker.org/download/20170904-17-R9gfw9mo3PqjCJ4v/GIFMaker.org_2x4Clg.gif)

Irma has a little sister staying at large.

More probably, a little brother, Jose.  That is, if "Invest 94" attains tropical storm status before "Invest 95".  The next one will be Katia.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/05/2017 10:07 AM
Is there the possibility of a delay based on the potential impact of an impending hurricane on operations to deal with a landed first stage?

I can't imagine SpaceX being particularly keen to have a stage stood upright in the path of extreme winds, so unless they're very confident they can get the stage horizontal (and probably inside) by the time the storm potentially arrives are they likely to delay the launch?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kenny008 on 09/05/2017 10:27 AM
If they don't feel that they can get the returned stage under cover in time, I guess they could also decide to ditch the first stage at sea. The opportunity to launch the payload and get it out of Florida may outweigh the advantage of delaying the launch and recovering the first stage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Zed_Noir on 09/05/2017 11:34 AM
Is there the possibility of a delay based on the potential impact of an impending hurricane on operations to deal with a landed first stage?

I can't imagine SpaceX being particularly keen to have a stage stood upright in the path of extreme winds, so unless they're very confident they can get the stage horizontal (and probably inside) by the time the storm potentially arrives are they likely to delay the launch?

If SpaceX cannot get the ASDS back to port Canaveral before Irma's arrival. Maybe they might just sail eastward to Bermuda to ride out the storm.

edit: oops forget it is RTLS.  :-[  Thanks for the reminder @StuffOfInterest
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: StuffOfInterest on 09/05/2017 11:38 AM
If SpaceX cannot get the ASDS back to port Canaveral before Irma's arrival. Maybe they might just sail eastward to Bermuda to ride out the storm.

This launch is RTLS, so ASDS doesn't play into the storm equation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: MarekCyzio on 09/05/2017 12:21 PM
I was in KSC VC Sunday and one of bus drivers asked about X-37B launch said "we won't cover it as it is at night". Not sure how reliable this information is, I have serious doubts, but passing it anyway.

Regarding Hurricane Irma. If today's models hold, CCAFS should experience tropical storm winds Sunday afternoon and hurricane force winds Sunday night. Even if launch happens late Thursday night, SPaceX should be able to get S1 horizontal before Irma arrives.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/05/2017 01:25 PM
If they don't feel that they can get the returned stage under cover in time, I guess they could also decide to ditch the first stage at sea. The opportunity to launch the payload and get it out of Florida may outweigh the advantage of delaying the launch and recovering the first stage.

Indeed - although dropping a block 3 core into the sea is a different matter to disposing of a block 4 core.

While they seem to have (what could almost be described as) a surplus of refurbish-able block 3 cores, this is (apparently) the second block 4 core; and it's worth more to SpaceX for both its future use and whatever they learn from the changes made to it.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: spacenut on 09/05/2017 01:36 PM
What time (Eastern) is the launch?  I haven't found it anywhere yet.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 09/05/2017 01:53 PM
What time (Eastern) is the launch?  I haven't found it anywhere yet.

We don't know yet.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rcoppola on 09/05/2017 01:59 PM
If Irma hit CCAFS/KSC as a Cat 5, getting that stage horizontal would be the very least of their concerns. Anybody know what the HIF at 39A was built to handle wrt weather events?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Alter Sachse on 09/05/2017 02:04 PM
What time (Eastern) is the launch?  I haven't found it anywhere yet.

We don't know yet.
04:00 UTC ?
http://spacexstats.xyz/missions/x-37b-otv-5
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 09/05/2017 02:06 PM
http://www.launchphotography.com/Delta_4_Atlas_5_Falcon_9_Launch_Viewing.html

"The next SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral will launch the fifth X-37B OTV mission for
the US Air Force from Pad 39A on September 7, in the mid-late morning EDT. The launch time will
be released closer to launch."
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 09/05/2017 02:08 PM
What time (Eastern) is the launch?  I haven't found it anywhere yet.

We don't know yet.
04:00 UTC ?
http://spacexstats.xyz/missions/x-37b-otv-5

That's a placeholder for 00:00 local time on September 7th.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: MarekCyzio on 09/05/2017 02:12 PM
If Irma hit CCAFS/KSC as a Cat 5, getting that stage horizontal would be the very least of their concerns. Anybody know what the HIF at 39A was built to handle wrt weather events?

From what I heard all hangars are designed to withstand CAT 3 sustained winds. You would need a concrete bunker to handle CAT 5. The hangar at LC-39A survived last year's Matthew with no damage so it definitely can handle some strong winds.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/05/2017 02:16 PM
http://www.launchphotography.com/Delta_4_Atlas_5_Falcon_9_Launch_Viewing.html

"The next SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral will launch the fifth X-37B OTV mission for
the US Air Force from Pad 39A on September 7, in the mid-late morning EDT. The launch time will
be released closer to launch."

The launch weather forecast mentions the morning portion being better weather, so that would fit with the window opening before noon.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kabloona on 09/05/2017 02:16 PM
If Irma hit CCAFS/KSC as a Cat 5, getting that stage horizontal would be the very least of their concerns. Anybody know what the HIF at 39A was built to handle wrt weather events?

From what I heard all hangars are designed to withstand CAT 3 sustained winds. You would need a concrete bunker to handle CAT 5. The hangar at LC-39A survived last year's Matthew with no damage so it definitely can handle some strong winds.

For reference, the highest wind speed gust recorded at the Cape during Matthew was 107 mph:

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2016/10/12/nws-melbourne-releases-stats-matthew/91978498/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: leetdan on 09/05/2017 02:18 PM
That's a placeholder for 00:00 local time on September 7th.

This probably explains the 'launching at night' rumor from a tour guide posted earlier.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 09/05/2017 05:35 PM
Is there the possibility of a delay based on the potential impact of an impending hurricane on operations to deal with a landed first stage?


The first stage is not the question here.  What all agencies with launches pending from the Cape as a Hurricane approaches CCAFS/KSC do is be in constant contact with the 45th weather squadron.  CCAFS/KSC will likely go into HURCON conditioning soon.  That kick starts a series of formal preparations to prepare for the arrival of a Hurricane.

HURCON warnings explained here: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/10/ksccape-hurcon-alert-matthew/

What the main consideration here will be is "what's the last day we can attempt to launch that, if we scrub that day, we still have enough time to get the F9 back into the HIF and let all the workers get home to safely prepare for the storm's arrival."  That will be the driving factor for launch decisions leading up to Irma's anticipated arrival.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: DaveS on 09/05/2017 05:55 PM
Is there the possibility of a delay based on the potential impact of an impending hurricane on operations to deal with a landed first stage?


The first stage is not the question here.  What all agencies with launches pending from the Cape as a Hurricane approaches CCAFS/KSC do is be in constant contact with the 45th weather squadron.  CCAFS/KSC will likely go into HURCON conditioning soon.  That kick starts a series of formal preparations to prepare for the arrival of a Hurricane.

HURCON warnings explained here: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/10/ksccape-hurcon-alert-matthew/

What the main consideration here will be is "what's the last day we can attempt to launch that, if we scrub that day, we still have enough time to get the F9 back into the HIF and let all the workers get home to safely prepare for the storm's arrival."  That will be the driving factor for launch decisions leading up to Irma's anticipated arrival.
This is starting to shape up like STS-115 11 years ago, when Atlantis was in launch countdown with the PRSD cryos loaded and in the T-11 hours built in hold. The MTT had to make a decision, risk damage to vehicle by going ahead with a single launch attempt or back out of launch countdown and rollback to the VAB. As we all know, they opted for the latter, leading to the famous half-rollback.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 09/05/2017 06:09 PM

HURCON warnings explained here: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/10/ksccape-hurcon-alert-matthew/


Realized that the article link above doesn't have all the HURCON meanings.  So here they are:

The various conditions set off a series of preparatory measures to protect and secure hardware, vehicles, and payloads to ensure they are safe and that Center/Cape workers are released from work in time to safely prepare their homes and families for a storm.

HURCON (Hurricane Condition) IV:
50 knot / 58 mph sustained winds expected within 72 hours

HURCON III:
50 knots or greater within 48 hours.

HURCON II:
Hurricane conditions are expected within 24hrs

HURCON I:
Hurricane conditions imminent/on-going.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/05/2017 09:23 PM
Has anyone tried to capture what I assume is the mission patch off of the latest pictures of the encapsulated X-37 being moved to the HIF?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 09/05/2017 09:29 PM
Transport X-37B in fairing to LC-39A HIF

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trNsXrJRDHQ
OTV-5 in fairing, Falcon Heavy's center core, a booster on the right with an apparent interstage, and some glamour shots of LC-39A and the IF at night. Amazing video, thanks for posting. I am assuming that Military Materials is a military contractor of some sort, given the access they had to make that video.
Nope: Its a Military Photo group:
https://www.facebook.com/Military-Material-1341979542582245/
https://twitter.com/MilitaryPhotos2

No clue if MM shot the video themselves or they illegally ripped content another organization/agency.

A recent Gizmodo article (http://gizmodo.com/super-secret-us-air-force-spaceplane-is-going-back-into-1799997154) uses what appear to be screenshots of this video, and they credit them as “Boeing handout photos.”

Quote
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) is being staged at Kennedy Space Center in preparation for its upcoming launch on September 7, 2017 in this September 5th handout photo (Boeing)

Sounds to me like Boeing filmed this (as the X-37B is their hardware) and then distributed it to media.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: William Graham on 09/05/2017 09:44 PM
Has anyone tried to capture what I assume is the mission patch off of the latest pictures of the encapsulated X-37 being moved to the HIF?

The insignia on the fairing is a generic logo for the X-37B programme.

There are some USAF patches for this launch on eBay - the image I've attached is from the listing below. I wouldn't expect to see a SpaceX patch design until closer to launch.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/USAF-OTV-5-X-37B-ORBITAL-TEST-VEHICLE-FALCON-9-SPACEX-BOEING-MISSION-SPACE-PATCH-/322658425279
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vaporcobra on 09/05/2017 09:46 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: russianhalo117 on 09/05/2017 09:51 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.
AFAIK, No. MM is reposting photo and video from Boeing Media Room site.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vaporcobra on 09/05/2017 10:03 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.
AFAIK, No. MM is reposting photo and video from Boeing Media Room site.

Gotcha. Anyone have a direct link to the source?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: russianhalo117 on 09/05/2017 10:25 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.
AFAIK, No. MM is reposting photo and video from Boeing Media Room site.

Gotcha. Anyone have a direct link to the source?
Most photo and video in Boeing MediaRoom requires login credentials (http://boeing.mediaroom.com/)

Chris might know where the originals are as I have no clue.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Semmel on 09/06/2017 05:33 AM
Please forgive my lack of imagination but why is there a need to keep the launch time secret for so long? We will be able to see the launch so it doesn't stay a secret. X-37B is large enough to be easily tracked even without knowing the exact launch time. What is the reason to drag this out?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: raketa on 09/06/2017 05:52 AM
Please forgive my lack of imagination but why is there a need to keep the launch time secret for so long? We will be able to see the launch so it doesn't stay a secret. X-37B is large enough to be easily tracked even without knowing the exact launch time. What is the reason to drag this out?
That NK is not sure to the last moment that is going to fly over their territory. :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 09:56 AM
Please forgive my lack of imagination but why is there a need to keep the launch time secret for so long? We will be able to see the launch so it doesn't stay a secret. X-37B is large enough to be easily tracked even without knowing the exact launch time. What is the reason to drag this out?

I imagine it's to do with other countries on orbit reconnaissance assets.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/06/2017 10:31 AM
Do we think any implications for the webcast? Eg only short notice just prior to the webcast of when it will be, or even no live webcast, just a recording later? (although I imagine there'll still be people posting on twitter when any venting is observed)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Chris Bergin on 09/06/2017 12:44 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.

Yeah, Boeing's always had a login for media (found mine again) and that's all it is. Fine to reproduce on a news media site (which we, you and MM belong to). Just credit Boeing, job done.

The login is just a throwback to years ago.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cscott on 09/06/2017 01:07 PM
Please forgive my lack of imagination but why is there a need to keep the launch time secret for so long? We will be able to see the launch so it doesn't stay a secret. X-37B is large enough to be easily tracked even without knowing the exact launch time. What is the reason to drag this out?
Prevents other nations from pre-positioning assets which may move slowly.  An orbit takes ~90 minutes, so obscuring the exact time may cause an unfriendly nation to have a particular asset on the exact wrong side of the planet (180° out of phase).  In fact, they may be delaying the choice of the exact time in order to ensure that this happens.  Some cat and mouse.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Semmel on 09/06/2017 03:17 PM
Please forgive my lack of imagination but why is there a need to keep the launch time secret for so long? We will be able to see the launch so it doesn't stay a secret. X-37B is large enough to be easily tracked even without knowing the exact launch time. What is the reason to drag this out?
Prevents other nations from pre-positioning assets which may move slowly.  An orbit takes ~90 minutes, so obscuring the exact time may cause an unfriendly nation to have a particular asset on the exact wrong side of the planet (180° out of phase).  In fact, they may be delaying the choice of the exact time in order to ensure that this happens.  Some cat and mouse.

That makes sense. Thank you!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/06/2017 03:28 PM
Space weather question re: sunspot active region 2673

Has there been any mention of whether solar activity will threaten tomorrow's scheduled launch?  AR2673 is facing Earth ("geoeffective").

AR2673 produced several M class solar flares on September 4 UTC, with the associated coronal mass ejection (CME) striking Earth today and tomorrow.

Earlier today, the same AR produced a X2 class solar flare, followed by a X9 class solar flare at 1202 UTC.  It's unknown as of my post whether or not this flare produced a CME.

http://spaceweather.com/

EDIT to add mention of today's X2 class flare, kevin-rf's post, and the gif attached to his post.

I think SpaceX just lost control of the X making machine, The sun just beltched out a long duration X2 and X9 flare...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 09/06/2017 04:08 PM
Space weather question re: sunspot active region 2673

Has there been any mention of whether solar activity will threaten tomorrow's scheduled launch?  AR2673 is facing Earth ("geoeffective").

AR2673 produced several M class solar flares on September 4 UTC, with the associated coronal mass ejection (CME) striking Earth today and tomorrow.

Earlier today, the same AR produced a X2 class solar flare, followed by a X9 class solar flare at 1202 UTC.  It's unknown as of my post whether or not this flare produced a CME.

http://spaceweather.com/

EDIT to add mention of today's X2 class flare, kevin-rf's post, and the gif attached to his post.

I think SpaceX just lost control of the X making machine, The sun just beltched out a long duration X2 and X9 flare...

As always, this is a weather factor that is monitored each launch.  There are limits for solar weather, and if those are breached, Falcon 9 won't launch.  Exactly what those limits are, I'm not 100% sure.  I know that's not a terrifically detailed answer, but that all I have.  Hopefully someone else can expand on this.

So the bottom line answer to your question is: Yes, this will be a factor for tomorrow's "go/go no" conditions.  But it's important to remember that it's always part of the "go/no go" factors.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Treasurer on 09/06/2017 04:16 PM
You're in the army now!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: titusou on 09/06/2017 04:21 PM
The video probable sourced from here:
https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/AFCM


Titus
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lars-J on 09/06/2017 04:27 PM
You're in the army now!

What's up with the grid lines in the logo - or is it simply gaps between stickers? And if they are gaps, why did they do it that way? (the gaps are too consistent to be just random poor alignment)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vaporcobra on 09/06/2017 04:29 PM
It's Boeing, so free to use.

MM is Boeing-related? I mainly just want to make sure I'm crediting and linking to the primary source.

Yeah, Boeing's always had a login for media (found mine again) and that's all it is. Fine to reproduce on a news media site (which we, you and MM belong to). Just credit Boeing, job done.

The login is just a throwback to years ago.

Thanks for the confirmation! For posterity, a Reddit user helped me find what is likely the original source on DVIDS, a distribution branch of Defense Media Activity. Includes a nice little bonus timelapse at the start :)
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/548184/otv-5-transport-b-roll (https://www.dvidshub.net/video/548184/otv-5-transport-b-roll)

Edit: looks like titusou beat me to it  ;) Also a photo of the rollout.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/06/2017 04:33 PM
You're in the army now!

Air Force actually; members of the armed services are notoriously prickly about being misidentified as being from one of the other services! ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/06/2017 04:52 PM

So the bottom line answer to your question is: Yes, this will be a factor for tomorrow's "go/go no" conditions.  But it's important to remember that it's always part of the "go/no go" factors.

The only difference is we currently have a sunspot group churning out some quite strong flares. This is not commonly the case. That said, if another strong flare occurs during the count down I would head over to the Party thread to see what the betting odds are on a scrub. I strongly doubt they launch during a large M or X class flare.

But that is a decision for SpaceX to make.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/06/2017 04:56 PM
Some info on today's large solar flare. I'm afraid it doesn't mean much to me ...

Quote
We are in an X9.3-flare folks! Largest of this #solar cycle! Massive #hamradio blackout. #GPS issues too on dayside of Earth (colors in map)

https://twitter.com/tamithaskov/status/905439724021485568
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/06/2017 06:01 PM
Ted Molczan provides pre-launch search elements for a September 7, 1400 UTC launch:
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0023.html

He refers to the NOTAMs for second stage de-orbit.  Does anyone have them and could they post them to the NSF forum?

EDIT: See here https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43585.msg1720198#msg1720198 .

Quote
The NOTAMs for the Falcon 9 second stage de-orbit suggest the possibility of a much higher inclination. My guess is that any change of inclination would occur after OTV separation.
***

Regarding orbit changes, how many burns can the second stage accomplish?

EDITed my 2nd question

EDIT 2: Add Update thread link to 2nd stage disposal NOTAM.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: mdeep on 09/06/2017 06:16 PM
Expecting media coverage to be light for this one. The team I work with is standing down on remote camera setup to focus on hurricane prep.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 09/06/2017 06:20 PM
If they can't launch before the hurricane comes in, do they demate the payload and move it to a more secure building? Or do they ride it out in the 39a HIF? Can't be an easy call because the demate and transport has risks of it own...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: wannamoonbase on 09/06/2017 07:21 PM
If they can't launch before the hurricane comes in, do they demate the payload and move it to a more secure building? Or do they ride it out in the 39a HIF? Can't be an easy call because the demate and transport has risks of it own...

I was thinking about this on my drive to work today.  I think if they attempt a launch on Thursday that they ride it out in the HIF.  Demate and transport may not be done quick enough to get out of the way of the storm in time.

Also an important point to consider is the staff that support the launch and range.  Those folks have homes and families to take care of too.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 09/06/2017 08:05 PM
If they can't launch before the hurricane comes in, do they demate the payload and move it to a more secure building? Or do they ride it out in the 39a HIF? Can't be an easy call because the demate and transport has risks of it own...

I was thinking about this on my drive to work today.  I think if they attempt a launch on Thursday that they ride it out in the HIF.  Demate and transport may not be done quick enough to get out of the way of the storm in time.

Also an important point to consider is the staff that support the launch and range.  Those folks have homes and families to take care of too.

For what it's worth, just got off the phone with Kennedy public affairs and was told of the following in terms of what the buildings are designed to withstand. Former OPFs (where X-37B and Starliner reside) and VAB are designed to withstand 125 mph winds, equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane.  The HIF at 39A is designed to withstand 150 mph winds, the equivalent of a very strong Category 4.  In that regard, based on Kennedy public information, the HIF is safer for the payload at this point.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/06/2017 10:19 PM
Based on the now-published s2 splashdown area, anyone want to speculate on the target orbit for OTV-5? The inclination looks in the 70- to 80-degree envelope to me!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: crandles57 on 09/06/2017 10:28 PM
Quote
*Update: According to Florida Today’s Emre Kelly, SpaceX confirmed the company was targeting a 5 hour, 5 minute launch window that opens at 9:50 a.m. EDT (13:50 GMT) Sept. 7, 2017.

http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/space-exploration-technologies/x-37b-set-first-launch-atop-spacex-falcon-9/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yokem55 on 09/06/2017 10:31 PM
Looking at the press kit, the only events listed are through staging and then 1st stage return. I take this to mean coverage will be just like the NROL-76 launch.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ChrisGebhardt on 09/06/2017 10:55 PM
Looking at the press kit, the only events listed are through staging and then 1st stage return. I take this to mean coverage will be just like the NROL-76 launch.

Yes.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rpapo on 09/06/2017 11:31 PM
Quote
Visiting #SpaceX's Falcon 9 that will launch the classified Air Force X-37B space plane tomorrow. Window is 9:50 to 14:55 ET. LZ-1 landing.

https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928
Does anybody have any idea why the pink and black plastic wrappers this time?  I don't recall seeing so much before.  They wrapped part of the Dragon trunk on CRS-12, but that was nothing compared to this time.  And the positions of some of those wrappers don't make a lot of sense to me, particularly the lowest pink wrapper.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: IanThePineapple on 09/06/2017 11:35 PM
Quote
Visiting #SpaceX's Falcon 9 that will launch the classified Air Force X-37B space plane tomorrow. Window is 9:50 to 14:55 ET. LZ-1 landing.

https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928
Does anybody have any idea why the pink and black plastic wrappers this time?  I don't recall seeing so much before.  They wrapped part of the Dragon trunk on CRS-12, but that was nothing compared to this time.  And the positions of some of those wrappers don't make a lot of sense to me, particularly the lowest pink wrapper.

They keep water and pests out of gaps and critical areas or the rocket, they are kinda needed with the slight drizzle coming to Florida in a few days.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/07/2017 12:13 AM
They wrapped part of the Dragon trunk on CRS-12, but that was nothing compared to this time.  And the positions of some of those wrappers don't make a lot of sense to me, particularly the lowest pink wrapper.

Actually CRS-12 wasn't that different; see attached.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: CyndyC on 09/07/2017 01:29 AM
Re: Space Weather

Happens to be a personal interest I've been following longer than I've been following SpaceX. There were IIRC 3 earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in one week immediately preceding the CRS-7 anomaly, highly unusual and still pretty suspicious if you ask me. CRS-12 is the first I've noticed solar weather included in a launch weather forecast.

There is currently a geomagnetic storm watch at level 3 (G3) through the 7th. Below are the possible repercussions. The G rating is a result of CMEs which can take some time to travel to earth IF they are earth-directed.

The X 9.3 flare is just under the X 10 flare when radio blackouts at level 4 begin, so I'm including the effects of R3 & R4. Solar flares travel at the speed of light so the effects on radio transmissions are immediate.

It's unknown as of my post whether or not this flare produced a CME.
It's my impression it's the other way around. CMEs are or are not associated with solar flares. I suggest the links in fine print at the bottom of the page at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

The question remains what are the Falcon 9 avionics dependent upon? It has already been established that direction & orientation are pre-programmed, and no commands are transmitted from the ground. Telemetry downlinks are still in question, but what about GPS? I believe Jim has stated pre-programming is based solely on timing, not on GPS.


 






Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/07/2017 01:54 AM
The question remains what are the Falcon 9 avionics dependent upon? It has already been established that direction & orientation are pre-programmed, and no commands are transmitted from the ground. Telemetry downlinks are still in question, but what about GPS? I believe Jim has stated pre-programming is based solely on timing, not on GPS.

Isn't the flight termination system based on GPS?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cppetrie on 09/07/2017 03:17 AM
The question remains what are the Falcon 9 avionics dependent upon? It has already been established that direction & orientation are pre-programmed, and no commands are transmitted from the ground. Telemetry downlinks are still in question, but what about GPS? I believe Jim has stated pre-programming is based solely on timing, not on GPS.

Isn't the flight termination system based on GPS?
Yes it is.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/02/25/auto-destruct-safety-system-seen-as-key-to-ramping-up-launch-tempos/
Quote
The on-board safety system, relying on Global Positioning System satellite navigation data,

And

http://www.patrick.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1095084/air-force-eastern-range-innovates-expedites-access-to-space/
Quote
These configurable software-based rules are reliant on redundant flight processors using data from Global Positioning System and inertial measurement unit navigation sensors

Edit: added links to full articles
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Semmel on 09/07/2017 08:41 AM
The question remains what are the Falcon 9 avionics dependent upon? It has already been established that direction & orientation are pre-programmed, and no commands are transmitted from the ground. Telemetry downlinks are still in question, but what about GPS? I believe Jim has stated pre-programming is based solely on timing, not on GPS.

I am pretty sure the AFTS is using GPS as well as the landing targeting. So if there was a problem with GPS due to the solar storm, I would expect a launch abort due to AFTS constraints. Which is quite fortunate as it would prevent the first stage from landing on top of the VAB by accident.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 09:30 AM
Let's face it, the spacecraft will just be travelling through ionised ratified upper atmosphere; all the really nasty stuff will be directed onto the magnetic poles by the magnetosphere. If the Falcon-9's IU electronics aren't able to handle this, then SpaceX has serious problems in its engineering department!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: eeergo on 09/07/2017 10:03 AM
Let's face it, the spacecraft will just be travelling through ionised ratified upper atmosphere; all the really nasty stuff will be directed onto the magnetic poles by the magnetosphere. If the Falcon-9's IU electronics aren't able to handle this, then SpaceX has serious problems in its engineering department!

?

What about neutrals? Ionospheric radio distortions?

This can be assessed for sure, but you don't just handwave away the strongest solar flare in 10 years.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/07/2017 10:37 AM
I think the biggest issue is radiation hardening of electronics. Early on SpaceX did not rad hard everything, not sure what level they are at now. During (emphasis During) a flare the X Ray numbers go up, I suspect they have a threshold for background radiation levels they do not want to exceed due to the risk of mis-behavior, single event upsets and resets of the avionic electronics.

Btw A quit glance shows two strong M class flares this morning (which are now over).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 10:44 AM
What about neutrals? Ionospheric radio distortions?

That might lead to telemetry blackouts but as the spacecraft doesn't uplink commands from launch or mission control during the ascent phase, that shouldn't be a problem.

What matters is whether the electronics can handle travelling through a charged medium and, possibly, whether the radio interference (which is occasionally spiking into the mildest levels of shortwave black out at the moment) would degrade the GPS signals that let the core manage its autonomous landing sequence.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: eeergo on 09/07/2017 11:09 AM
What about neutrals? Ionospheric radio distortions?

[...] whether the radio interference would degrade the GPS signals that let the core manage its autonomous landing sequence.

Exactly, even if telemetry dropouts are admissible (which maybe they don't want to risk), which would only be true if AFTS is fully active in this flight -presumably so-, AFTS itself needs a good GPS link for its computations, not just for landing.

The accelerated CME after the X9.3 flare will also contain neutral particles that may greatly increase high-altitude dosages in this timeframe, even in non-polar latitudes (where most of the charged particles are deflected). Again, maybe it's not a factor, but you can't blame that a priori on SpaceX's weak electronics.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: TaurusLittrow on 09/07/2017 11:20 AM
This image (from the 1970 film "Marooned") was posted on another unrelated NSF forum thread, but heck...approaching hurricane and the last-minute launch of a lifting body. You get the picture.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/07/2017 12:14 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: edzieba on 09/07/2017 12:22 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
They're the same 'yellow strapping' supports seen during rollout (https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928). OTV may need extra support, it was originally designed for vertical integration rather than horizontal, so solely cantilevering from the payload adapter may not be healthy for it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/07/2017 12:30 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
They're the same 'yellow strapping' supports seen during rollout (https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928). OTV may need extra support, it was originally designed for vertical integration rather than horizontal, so solely cantilevering from the payload adapter may not be healthy for it.

Thank you - looks like an additional support bracket with a yellow fabric sling on it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Semmel on 09/07/2017 12:36 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
They're the same 'yellow strapping' supports seen during rollout (https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928). OTV may need extra support, it was originally designed for vertical integration rather than horizontal, so solely cantilevering from the payload adapter may not be healthy for it.

Usually, the payload and the fairing do not have an internal connection. If X-37B requires a support for horizontal integration, it implies that there is also an internal structure, connecting the fairing to  X-37B. Much like the adapter of Ariane 5 where there is a support ring between payloads that connects to the fairing. Seeing a fairing deployment would be interesting for this launch as we would see the internal structure. But of course, we will not see that.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 09/07/2017 01:23 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
They're the same 'yellow strapping' supports seen during rollout (https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928). OTV may need extra support, it was originally designed for vertical integration rather than horizontal, so solely cantilevering from the payload adapter may not be healthy for it.

Usually, the payload and the fairing do not have an internal connection. If X-37B requires a support for horizontal integration, it implies that there is also an internal structure, connecting the fairing to  X-37B. Much like the adapter of Ariane 5 where there is a support ring between payloads that connects to the fairing. Seeing a fairing deployment would be interesting for this launch as we would see the internal structure. But of course, we will not see that.
The only internal connection between X-37B and the fairing is the payload adaptor. The X-37B connects to the payload adaptor. The fairing connects to the payload adaptor as well. This was discussed ad-nauseum starting from here: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37727.msg1646197#msg1646197
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: toruonu on 09/07/2017 01:58 PM
Some cool details on what the X-37B does up there....Hall Effect Thruster testing. Normally it's "Shhh, it's a secret" with this vehicle.

I understood that this is part of what OTV-4 did, not OTV-5.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: toruonu on 09/07/2017 02:05 PM
At around T+4:30 you can see the fairing falling towards earth doing a lot of flipping :) Quite well visible.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 09/07/2017 02:05 PM
Titanium grid fins deployed.

That new grid fins feeling.

Those are the old Aluminum grid fins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 02:11 PM
Typically, how long after launch does the USAF release confirmation of spacecraft separation?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: haywoodfloyd on 09/07/2017 02:11 PM
Because of the coverage restrictions we were able to watch the complete first stage return process.
And what a beautiful return it was!
Well done SpaceX.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jabe on 09/07/2017 02:11 PM
At around T+4:30 you can see the fairing falling towards earth doing a lot of flipping :) Quite well visible.
and at 3:55 :)
jb
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 09/07/2017 02:11 PM
Typically, how long after launch does the USAF release confirmation of spacecraft separation?

I would guess about 20 minutes after launch if it was an LEO mission.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Johnnyhinbos on 09/07/2017 02:13 PM
Titanium grid fins deployed.

That new grid fins feeling.

Those are the old Aluminum grid fins.
Thank you - I didn't think those were the new fins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jgoldader on 09/07/2017 02:13 PM
The commentator noted clouds were a concern (obviously didn't delay the launch).  When FTS was all done by-hand (or by RUD), cloud cover was obviously important in the LCC.  But does AFTS change that equation at all?  Will there come a time when the only real cloud concerns in the LCC will involve lightning?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: eeergo on 09/07/2017 02:14 PM
At around T+4:30 you can see the fairing falling towards earth doing a lot of flipping :) Quite well visible.
and at 3:55 :)
jb

I'm pretty sure those are ice chunks, you can see them throughout the exo-atmospheric portion of the booster return video.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 09/07/2017 02:15 PM
The commentator noted clouds were a concern (obviously didn't delay the launch).  When FTS was all done by-hand (or by RUD), cloud cover was obviously important in the LCC.  But does AFTS change that equation at all?  Will there come a time when the only real cloud concerns in the LCC will involve lightning?
They used (and still use, for other rockets) radar for FTS, not visible-light tracking, IIRC.  So I don't think the cloud rules are linked to FTS.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Comga on 09/07/2017 02:16 PM
Titanium grid fins deployed.

That new grid fins feeling.

Those are the old Aluminum grid fins.

The stringers give it away
https://i.stack.imgur.com/AJXoW.jpg (https://i.stack.imgur.com/AJXoW.jpg)

But in Chris' defense, they do look like new Aluminum grid fins  ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Pete on 09/07/2017 02:17 PM
The commentator noted clouds were a concern (obviously didn't delay the launch).  When FTS was all done by-hand (or by RUD), cloud cover was obviously important in the LCC.  But does AFTS change that equation at all?  Will there come a time when the only real cloud concerns in the LCC will involve lightning?

The main reason to avoid flying through clouds is that they contain rocks*
.
.
.
*Hit a suspended raindrop at mach1.1, and you will think you hit a rock!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: guckyfan on 09/07/2017 02:18 PM
The commentator at the SpaceX webcast mentione titanium grid fins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/07/2017 02:18 PM
Mam, those clouds looked pretty menacing in the video feed... Did make for a dramatic image though at T-0!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 09/07/2017 02:22 PM
Typically, how long after launch does the USAF release confirmation of spacecraft separation?

I would guess about 20 minutes after launch if it was an LEO mission.
They will, I would imagine, wait until some time after insertion into orbit, so as not to give away the ascent time.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: NX-0 on 09/07/2017 02:23 PM
Upon landing at LZ-1, there is always a cloud.
Is this:
A. Dust on the pad itself being kicked up
B. Exhaust from RP-1/LOX
C. Burning off the fancy SpaceX logo paint job.
D. Hope and dreams of SLS going up in smoke
E. Something else
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 02:24 PM
Given that the re-entry of the upper stage is in the sea in between Australia and Antarctica, I'm imagining that the upper stage would have performed a northerly dog-leg of some kind.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/07/2017 02:26 PM
Upon landing at LZ-1, there is always a cloud.
Is this:
A. Dust on the pad itself being kicked up
B. Exhaust from RP-1/LOX
C. Burning off the fancy SpaceX logo paint job.
D. Hope and dreams of SLS going up in smoke
E. Something else

Mostly B, some A, with a small amount of C
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jet Black on 09/07/2017 02:27 PM
Burning Russian Trampolines.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 09/07/2017 02:28 PM
I suppose if this isn't a direct injection, we might have a while to wait for a circularization burn?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 02:29 PM
We probably won't ever hear of it; all we'll know is 'spacecraft deployed' and then, around three years from now, OTV-5 landing at the SLF!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kdhilliard on 09/07/2017 02:31 PM
The commentator at the SpaceX webcast mentione titanium grid fins.

At T+3:43 (23:39 in the video): "There you saw the grid fins just opened up.  These grid fins are recently moved to be made out of titanium.  Which is a much higher temperature material than aluminum and thus better able to stand the high temperatures of reentry."

I don't know if he wasn't aware that they were using old stock, or if he only meant to state that they have started manufacturing new grid fins out of titanium without meaning to imply that they were using the new design on this flight.

~Kirk
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 09/07/2017 02:33 PM
We probably won't ever hear of it; all we'll know is 'spacecraft deployed' and then, around three years from now, OTV-5 landing at the SLF!

You make a good point. For each OTV mission, the United States Air Force tends to push the limits further and further. So, I'm going to agree with your opinion and believe that OTV-5 will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility a little less than three years from now.

Maybe during August 2020.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/07/2017 02:35 PM
The commentator at the SpaceX webcast mentione titanium grid fins.

At T+3:43 (23:39 in the video): "There you saw the grid fins just opened up.  These grid fins are recently moved to be made out of titanium.  Which is a much higher temperature material than aluminum and thus better able to stand the high temperatures of reentry."

I don't know if he wasn't aware that they were using old stock, or if he only meant to state that they have started manufacturing new grid fins out of titanium without meaning to imply that they were using the new design on this flight.

~Kirk

That's a bit of an ambiguous statement, but it has to be referring to the fact that they are going to move to titanium. It's visibly clear that the grid fins were the old aluminum design with the ablative material that fouls that camera during reentry.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/07/2017 02:35 PM
We probably won't ever hear of it; all we'll know is 'spacecraft deployed' and then, around three years from now, OTV-5 landing at the SLF!

You make a good point. For each OTV mission, the United States Air Force tends to push the limits further and further. So, I'm going to agree with your opinion and believe that OTV-5 will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility a little less than three years from now.

Maybe during August 2020.
Would be pretty cool to see it towed up to a ramp beside Dream Chaser for a "photo-op"! 8)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: JMS on 09/07/2017 02:36 PM
It is a bit confusing. The commentator did say say these were titanium grid fins though they clearly appear to be the aluminum fins.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: obi-wan on 09/07/2017 02:40 PM
Did anybody notice the terminal countdown seems to have switched from a "call and response" format to a "scripted call"? e.g., you used to hear the launch director call "(console designation), verify vehicle in startup" and get a reply "vehicle is in startup". This time you just hear the "vehicle is in startup" call, and it seemed like many of the calls were by the person I'm assuming is the launch director. Comments?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/07/2017 02:40 PM
It is a bit confusing. The commentator did say say these were titanium grid fins though they clearly appear to be the aluminum fins.

No, the commentator said that SpaceX is now using titanium grid fins for vehicles currently in production, not that this particular booster was equipped with them. It's a subtle difference but it's there.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/07/2017 02:41 PM
We probably won't ever hear of it; all we'll know is 'spacecraft deployed' and then, around three years from now, OTV-5 landing at the SLF!

You make a good point. For each OTV mission, the United States Air Force tends to push the limits further and further. So, I'm going to agree with your opinion and believe that OTV-5 will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility a little less than three years from now.

Maybe during August 2020.

Well, if the mission of X-37B is really responsive testing and return of experiments there has to be a point of diminishing returns on mission duration.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/07/2017 02:49 PM
We probably won't ever hear of it; all we'll know is 'spacecraft deployed' and then, around three years from now, OTV-5 landing at the SLF!

You make a good point. For each OTV mission, the United States Air Force tends to push the limits further and further. So, I'm going to agree with your opinion and believe that OTV-5 will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility a little less than three years from now.

Maybe during August 2020.

Well, if the mission of X-37B is really responsive testing and return of experiments there has to be a point of diminishing returns on mission duration.

Isn't OTV-6 meant to be launching in 2018 on Atlas V, I am sure there was something about a launch in 2018 when OTV-4 landed earlier this year.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Helodriver on 09/07/2017 02:55 PM
After that successful LZ-1 landing we will now get to see just how fast a landed booster can be de-erected and stowed.  Nothing like an approaching C5 hurricane to impel the ground crew to run their procedures sharply and efficiently.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kansan52 on 09/07/2017 02:57 PM
Isn't OTV-6 meant to be launching in 2018 on Atlas V, I am sure there was something about a launch in 2018 when OTV-4 landed earlier this year.

Could be the reason they switched to the Falcon. They got an earlier ride. Just a guess.

The more likely explanation is the quote came from someone that wasn't informed about the change.

Would be interesting to have both OTV's in orbit at once. Guess it would depend if ground support could handle receiving data from both.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 09/07/2017 02:58 PM
It is a bit confusing. The commentator did say say these were titanium grid fins though they clearly appear to be the aluminum fins.

No, the commentator said that SpaceX is now using titanium grid fins for vehicles currently in production, not that this particular booster was equipped with them. It's a subtle difference but it's there.
"There you saw the grid fins just opened up.  These grid fins are recently moved to being made out of Titanium."  I mean, it's not a big deal (at all), but the commentator clearly misspoke and the statement was that "these" grid fins are Titanium.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lar on 09/07/2017 03:17 PM
I agree with the interpretation that the presenter did say these fins were Titanium.
I agree with the interpretation that they sure looked like the old style aluminum ones so the presenter erred.

I am not sure that a lot of back and forth about this relatively minor point will help us learn much so can we be done?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/07/2017 03:20 PM
Isn't OTV-6 meant to be launching in 2018 on Atlas V, I am sure there was something about a launch in 2018 when OTV-4 landed earlier this year.

Could be the reason they switched to the Falcon. They got an earlier ride. Just a guess.

The more likely explanation is the quote came from someone that wasn't informed about the change.

Would be interesting to have both OTV's in orbit at once. Guess it would depend if ground support could handle receiving data from both.

Speculation: Concurrent OTV missions would allow 1 flight to handle long-duration experiments and engineering tests, while the other OTV supports the shorter-term or more time-sensitive experiments and tests.

Or, they could fly to different orbital inclinations, again to support different missions.

Or...other possibilities that I haven't thought of!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/07/2017 03:24 PM
Isn't OTV-6 meant to be launching in 2018 on Atlas V, I am sure there was something about a launch in 2018 when OTV-4 landed earlier this year.

Could be the reason they switched to the Falcon. They got an earlier ride. Just a guess.

The more likely explanation is the quote came from someone that wasn't informed about the change.

Would be interesting to have both OTV's in orbit at once. Guess it would depend if ground support could handle receiving data from both.

Speculation: Concurrent OTV missions would allow 1 flight to handle long-duration experiments and engineering tests, while the other OTV supports the shorter-term or more time-sensitive experiments and tests.

Or, they could fly to different orbital inclinations, again to support different missions.

Or...other possibilities that I haven't thought of!

Wouldn't having both vehicles in orbit at the same time be an experiment in itself?

By the way would this vehicle going into a high inclination orbit likely to put it over any particular countries?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/07/2017 03:24 PM
Or...other possibilities that I haven't thought of!
This flight will not be as long as previous flights and OTV-6 will lift off in 2018 after OTV-5 lands.

Or sometimes tea leaves are just leaves...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/07/2017 03:25 PM
Has there been any word on the deployment of the small sub-satellites I believe we were informed this flight was carrying as well?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Norm38 on 09/07/2017 03:26 PM
Well, if the mission of X-37B is really responsive testing and return of experiments there has to be a point of diminishing returns on mission duration.

Unless duration IS the experiment.  But isn't ISS a better platform for long duration exposure experiments?  Of course, the Air Force doesn't have to share what they're doing on the X-37B.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Skyrocket on 09/07/2017 03:30 PM
Has there be any word on the deployment of the small sub-satellites I believe we were informed this flight was carrying as well?

I have heard nothing by now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cscott on 09/07/2017 03:47 PM
Did anybody notice the terminal countdown seems to have switched from a "call and response" format to a "scripted call"? e.g., you used to hear the launch director call "(console designation), verify vehicle in startup" and get a reply "vehicle is in startup". This time you just hear the "vehicle is in startup" call, and it seemed like many of the calls were by the person I'm assuming is the launch director. Comments?
I think there are multiple radio nets, and we usually hear both the call and the response net, but this time we were only hearing one of them. The LD did mention that "second stage callouts are on LDNET" which we presumably couldn't hear on the broadcast because sssh secret.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Svetoslav on 09/07/2017 03:53 PM
Almost two hours post-launch, and not official confirmation on whether the launch was successful?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: RonM on 09/07/2017 03:59 PM
I agree with the interpretation that the presenter did say these fins were Titanium.
I agree with the interpretation that they sure looked like the old style aluminum ones so the presenter erred.

I am not sure that a lot of back and forth about this relatively minor point will help us learn much so can we be done?

Agreed, nothing to learn from these minor errors during the webcast. The presenter is reading from a script, so it's not always going to match up during a live event.

Anyway, it's more important to get the payload in orbit than getting all the details right on a live PR event.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/07/2017 04:06 PM
Almost two hours post-launch, and not official confirmation on whether the launch was successful?

"#OTV5 | #AirForce newly launched #X37B space shuttle has separated from #SpaceX Falcon 9 upper stage to begin a long duration mission in LEO"

https://twitter.com/Military_Flight/status/905802037840969730


"#Boeing-built X-37B OTV-5 mission successfully launches for @usairforce @AFSpace on @SpaceX Falcon 9."

https://twitter.com/BoeingDefense/status/905822393280720896
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: dnavas on 09/07/2017 05:12 PM
I'm curious as to how long it takes to stow the returned booster given Irma....
Apparently the Cape is closing tomorrow?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Scylla on 09/07/2017 05:35 PM
Does this S1 have the new retractable legs. If so, should reduce time needed to go horizontal.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/07/2017 07:39 PM
If we ever get to mod the S2 we could have a fully reusable system with the X-37B! 8)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/07/2017 07:49 PM
Does anyone know if the X-37B orbiters have official names or designations? Do they have any distinguishing markings? And do we know for sure which orbiter went up this flight?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Semmel on 09/07/2017 08:26 PM
From SpaceX's homepage.

Looks like there are new clamps on the top of the TEL?
They're the same 'yellow strapping' supports seen during rollout (https://twitter.com/nova_road/status/905550802797948928). OTV may need extra support, it was originally designed for vertical integration rather than horizontal, so solely cantilevering from the payload adapter may not be healthy for it.

Usually, the payload and the fairing do not have an internal connection. If X-37B requires a support for horizontal integration, it implies that there is also an internal structure, connecting the fairing to  X-37B. Much like the adapter of Ariane 5 where there is a support ring between payloads that connects to the fairing. Seeing a fairing deployment would be interesting for this launch as we would see the internal structure. But of course, we will not see that.
The only internal connection between X-37B and the fairing is the payload adaptor. The X-37B connects to the payload adaptor. The fairing connects to the payload adaptor as well. This was discussed ad-nauseum starting from here: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37727.msg1646197#msg1646197

I know and I absolutely agree. I know perfectly well how that the payload is held by the fairing alone during integration. Thats the main reason for the limited launch mass of F9 and FH. The dV would in principle allow for heavier birds but the structure of the fairing does not. Thats why all this talk about 50 mT to orbit on FH is bogous unless a new even heavier fairing is considered including an upgraded the payload adapter.

However, there WAS an additional clamp for this launch around the fairing while being horizontal. The speculation by edzieba was that this was required by X37B. If that was the case, then X37B is too heavy to be carried by its butt horizontally. So the load path through the payload adapter wouldnt work for X37B because its structurally too weak, not the payload adapter or the fairing. So if it is structurally too weak, and an additional load path through the fairing to the additional clamps was required there has to be additional internal structure.

I dont think that the fairings stopped being able to support their own weight when held by the payload adapter when before that, they could carry their own weight plus the payload and the adapter for integration. So either the additional clamps are completely useless and superfluous or there is additional internal structure connecting the fairing to the payload. I dont see any other explanation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: abaddon on 09/07/2017 08:48 PM
However, there WAS an additional clamp for this launch around the fairing while being horizontal. The speculation by edzieba was that this was required by X37B. If that was the case, then X37B is too heavy to be carried by its butt horizontally.
Maybe there's normally a little "wiggle" in the PLF, and since the X-37B is so wide, they wanted to be extra careful to dampen any movement of the PLF?  I have no idea if that's plausible, but it seems more likely to that the additional clamp was to dampen movement of the PLF, than to support the payload somehow.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/07/2017 08:53 PM
Does anyone know if the X-37B orbiters have official names or designations? Do they have any distinguishing markings? And do we know for sure which orbiter went up this flight?

I hope Chris G or Ed or JCM or Jim (EDIT or S_G_1962) can chime in...but my understanding, as of the OTV-4 landing, is no.  There are no distinguishing markings, labels, nose art  :), etc., to tell the 2 different OTVs apart.

Note the way that Chris G worded his article--the assumption is that OTV-4 was the 2nd flight of the 2nd OTV, and this flight is the 3rd flight of the 1st OTV.
***

There was a different distinguishing characteristic about this launch campaign, noted in Chris G's article--the previous 4 OTV flights were processed at Astrotech Titusville.  This launch campaign used the Boeing facilities in OPF-1.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/07/2017 08:57 PM
Going back through the update thread postings, I found no mention during the countdown about the space weather conditions.

Was it at all mentioned in the public coverage?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/07/2017 09:57 PM
One more pair of questions for our assembled experts.

Is there enough pubic information, including the Notice to Mariners re: 2nd stage disposal to:

Estimate how much of an inclination change that the second stage could accomplish AFTER injecting the OTV into an orbital inclination of approximately 43 degrees, on a de-orbit burn?

Or, estimate how much of an inclination change poleward could the second stage yaw steer on ascent from a trajectory that otherwise would proceed to a 43 degree inclined LEO?

Thank you very much in advance for any insight or answers that you can share.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/07/2017 10:12 PM
I enjoyed the nonchalant webcasting with the perfect launch and landing.

It launched at 7am Hawthorne time, he may have needed another cup of coffee.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/07/2017 11:15 PM
Thanks for the great article William complete with a trip down Shuttle memory lane! :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 09/07/2017 11:52 PM
Does anyone know if the X-37B orbiters have official names or designations? Do they have any distinguishing markings? And do we know for sure which orbiter went up this flight?

I hope Chris G or Ed or JCM or Jim can chime in...but my understanding, as of the OTV-4 landing, is no.  There are no distinguishing markings, labels, nose art  :), etc., to tell the 2 different OTVs apart.

Note the way that Chris G worded his article--the assumption is that OTV-4 was the 2nd flight of the 2nd OTV, and this flight is the 3rd flight of the 1st OTV.
***

There was a different distinguishing characteristic about this launch campaign, noted in Chris G's article--the previous 4 OTV flights were processed at Astrotech Titusville.  This launch campaign used the Boeing facilities in OPF-1.
As these missions have progressed, the U.S. Air Force has provided less and less information.  During the first flights, pre-launch images of X-37B being encapsulated within its fairing were provided, but not during the most recent two flights.  During the first three flights, the specific spacecraft "tail number" being used was specified, but not during the subsequent flights.  And so on. 

 - Ed Kyle
To be expected.

The initial flights were a proof of concept. Subsequent missions explored capabilities/scope.

Perhaps these later missions might require things that would become apparent if too visible?

Why beg inconvenient scrutiny?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: yg1968 on 09/08/2017 02:15 AM
William's article updated to where we are (good launch and landing), but pending USAF release on good S/C Sep for the X-37B.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/09/spacex-first-x-37b-launch-falcon-9/

When they arrives, it'll be posted here and then it's mission success and you can all do your one post of congrats, per tradition :)

Can already thanks those who provided coverage, not least Steven (and his technical support, Leo) :)

Great article!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: pstephens on 09/08/2017 02:58 AM
William's article updated to where we are (good launch and landing), but pending USAF release on good S/C Sep for the X-37B.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/09/spacex-first-x-37b-launch-falcon-9/

When they arrives, it'll be posted here and then it's mission success and you can all do your one post of congrats, per tradition :)

Can already thanks those who provided coverage, not least Steven (and his technical support, Leo) :)

Small correction needed near the end of the article:

Quote
So far in 2017 SpaceX has conducted twelve successful Falcon 9 launches, with the rocket’s next missions slated for early October.

I believe that should be thirteen successful Falcon 9 launches for the year, not twelve.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Hyperion on 09/08/2017 05:28 AM
Quote

I believe that should be thirteen successful Falcon 9 launches for the year, not twelve.

Y, I think so.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_and_Falcon_Heavy_launches#2017
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Steven Pietrobon on 09/08/2017 06:43 AM
Titanium grid fins deployed.
Those are the old Aluminum grid fins.

Thanks for the correction. The commentator was talking about Titanium grid fins which is what got me confused.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/08/2017 08:48 AM
Does anyone know if the X-37B orbiters have official names or designations? Do they have any distinguishing markings? And do we know for sure which orbiter went up this flight?

I hope Chris G or Ed or JCM or Jim can chime in...but my understanding, as of the OTV-4 landing, is no.  There are no distinguishing markings, labels, nose art  :), etc., to tell the 2 different OTVs apart.

Note the way that Chris G worded his article--the assumption is that OTV-4 was the 2nd flight of the 2nd OTV, and this flight is the 3rd flight of the 1st OTV.
***

There was a different distinguishing characteristic about this launch campaign, noted in Chris G's article--the previous 4 OTV flights were processed at Astrotech Titusville.  This launch campaign used the Boeing facilities in OPF-1.
As these missions have progressed, the U.S. Air Force has provided less and less information.  During the first flights, pre-launch images of X-37B being encapsulated within its fairing were provided, but not during the most recent two flights.  During the first three flights, the specific spacecraft "tail number" being used was specified, but not during the subsequent flights.  And so on. 

 - Ed Kyle
To be expected.

The initial flights were a proof of concept. Subsequent missions explored capabilities/scope.

Perhaps these later missions might require things that would become apparent if too visible?

Why beg inconvenient scrutiny?

As for being too visible, well you still see them on landing. They didn't have an issue showing us the Hall thruster in place when OTV-4 landed.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kaputnik on 09/08/2017 09:00 AM
This was the 40th F9 launch (of all variants)- seven years after the first flight.
Atlas V took eleven years to reach its 40th flight.
It's not as bit a difference as I had thought actually. Somehow the SpaceX steamroller feels faster. I suppose the early days were actually very slow compared to now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ugordan on 09/08/2017 09:10 AM
I suppose the early days were actually very slow compared to now.

Zero launches in 2011. certainly qualifies as slow...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Welsh Dragon on 09/08/2017 09:58 AM
This was the 40th F9 launch (of all variants)- seven years after the first flight.
Atlas V took eleven years to reach its 40th flight.
It's not as bit a difference as I had thought actually. Somehow the SpaceX steamroller feels faster. I suppose the early days were actually very slow compared to now.
41st actually (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_and_Falcon_Heavy_launches), not counting Amos-6. Graphing the launches of both vehicles is illustrating actually. For the first 8 or so launches, the pace was virtually identical. After that, Falcon 9 picked up the pace, and Atlas V... didn't really. Interesting to see the stand downs after CRS7 and Amos-6, without that, the difference would be even more significant.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/08/2017 10:09 AM
This was the 40th F9 launch (of all variants)- seven years after the first flight.
Atlas V took eleven years to reach its 40th flight.
It's not as bit a difference as I had thought actually. Somehow the SpaceX steamroller feels faster. I suppose the early days were actually very slow compared to now.

OTV-5 was F9's 41st launch  ;)

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/08/2017 11:40 AM
Here's a different visualisation to remind us just how big a F9 S1 is:

Quote
Fixed the landing photo from today. This ain't no baby rocket. @NASASpaceflight

https://twitter.com/flyin_beaver/status/905965700778385409

I haven't checked the scale myself. Couple of comments on twitter saying this makes Elon 7+ feet tall?!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/08/2017 11:57 AM
Looks a bit over-scale compared to photos of recovered stages.

A quick Photoshop (why do I do these things?!) with a second Elon added at about the same height as the people on deck.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: woods170 on 09/08/2017 11:58 AM
I suppose the early days were actually very slow compared to now.

Zero launches in 2011. certainly qualifies as slow...
The early years were slow for both Falcon 9 and Atlas. Both had just 4 launches in the first 3 years of flying.

However, things change dramatically beyond that. Falcon 9 flew 39 successful missions in it's first 7 years. Atlas 5 flew 19 successful missions in it's first 7 years.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: dnavas on 09/08/2017 01:36 PM
Does this S1 have the new retractable legs. If so, should reduce time needed to go horizontal.

Regardless, stay safe, it's not worth your lives or your family's safety.  If a raging sea is coming to reclaim its loss, let one go....
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/08/2017 01:55 PM
Titanium grid fins deployed.
Those are the old Aluminum grid fins.

Thanks for the correction. The commentator was talking about Titanium grid fins which is what got me confused.
They looked liked the old aluminum grid fins to me while watching deployment during the landing sequence and left me raising my brow thus-sly ala Spock ???
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: vanoord on 09/08/2017 03:01 PM
They looked liked the old aluminum grid fins to me while watching deployment during the landing sequence and left me raising my brow thus-sly ala Spock ???

The new grid fins don't have the two stringers running along them - the ones for OTV-5 did have the stringers.

Unless these are titanium fins cast to the same pattern as the 1st generation fins, they're aluminium.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: guckyfan on 09/08/2017 03:10 PM
Unless these are titanium fins cast to the same pattern as the 1st generation fins, they're aluminium.

They were painted white. No reason to paint titanium fins. It was just a small slip by the narrator.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Coastal Ron on 09/08/2017 03:12 PM
They looked liked the old aluminum grid fins to me while watching deployment during the landing sequence and left me raising my brow thus-sly ala Spock ???

The new grid fins don't have the two stringers running along them - the ones for OTV-5 did have the stringers.

Unless these are titanium fins cast to the same pattern as the 1st generation fins, they're aluminium.

The new titanium ones also have scalloped edges, and these were flat. Also, the new one ones deploy slower, are larger, and are not painted white.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/08/2017 03:33 PM
The fact that all we have to talk about is how the host misspoke=flawless mission... Gets another attaboy SpaceX from me! :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rockets4life97 on 09/08/2017 03:43 PM
I expect we'll be seeing the "old" gridfins on RTLS missions for some time. I expect they have a stockpile and are willing to do some slight refurbishment on used ones as this is likely more cost effective then throwing them away (in favor of the titanium ones on all missions).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 09/08/2017 03:51 PM
I expect we'll be seeing the "old" gridfins on RTLS missions for some time. I expect they have a stockpile and are willing to do some slight refurbishment on used ones as this is likely more cost effective then throwing them away (in favor of the titanium ones on all missions).
IF Al Grid Fins need refurb at all from LEO missions ! Just because they do need refurb on higher energy missions does NOT mean any refurb at all is needed on all missions.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/08/2017 04:35 PM
The next launch of the X-37B OTV-6 is slated for a 2019 launch on the Atlas V.

Quote
At least one more X-37B flight, OTV-6, is on the books for liftoff on an Atlas 5 rocket in 2019 on the so-called Air Force Space Command-7 launch.

Source link below.

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/09/07/spacex-beats-hurricane-with-smooth-launch-of-militarys-x-37b-spaceplane/
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Archibald on 09/08/2017 06:13 PM
Congrats to SpaceX. Both first stage and X-37 are reusable. With the fairing soon to be reused.

Now only the second stage is expendable.  ;)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: HVM on 09/08/2017 06:27 PM
Any word if SpX had time to secure B1040.1?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: octavo on 09/08/2017 06:48 PM
Any word if SpX had time to secure B1040.1?
L2

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43611.msg1720877.msg#1720877
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rockets4life97 on 09/08/2017 07:40 PM
Any word if SpX had time to secure B1040.1?
L2

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43611.msg1720877.msg#1720877

Take that as a yes. If SpaceX didn't, it would be news worthy and likely find its way into an article on the main site.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: gongora on 09/08/2017 07:45 PM
Any word if SpX had time to secure B1040.1?
L2

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43611.msg1720877.msg#1720877

Take that as a yes. If SpaceX didn't, it would be news worthy and likely find its way into an article on the main site.

That post said they're working on it, we haven't had anything posted yet saying they're complete.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/08/2017 08:17 PM
Superb news that it's lifted off.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Coastal Ron on 09/08/2017 09:19 PM
This story says that SpaceX "was moving quickly to secure" the first stage. 
http://spacenews.com/cape-canaveral-facilities-prepare-for-hurricane-irma/
My guess is that means lifting it onto the work stand.  I don't see how they could do more. I could be wrong.

They are trying to get the core inside a building before the storm. We'll see if they can do it, otherwise I would imagine they have a plan for lashing it down in some way.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/08/2017 09:41 PM
They are trying to get the core inside a building before the storm. We'll see if they can do it, otherwise I would imagine they have a plan for lashing it down in some way.
Half fill the RP-1 tank with water?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 09/08/2017 09:54 PM
They are trying to get the core inside a building before the storm. We'll see if they can do it, otherwise I would imagine they have a plan for lashing it down in some way.
Half fill the RP-1 tank with water?

I'd set it onto the booster mount, use the lifting beanie cap the crane uses and guy wires bolted to the surrounding concrete. I wonder if the current stand was designed with this in mind? If so, there could be recessed padeyes set into the concrete already.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rocketguy101 on 09/09/2017 05:19 AM
The thought just struck me: it is strange to see discussion about securing a rocket booster after it landed before a hurricane hits the area when a few years ago it would be at the bottom of the Atlantic and nobody would give it a second thought...wow!  8)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/09/2017 09:40 AM
Half fill the RP-1 tank with water?
Neat idea.

But I think those legs are designed to cope with landing a near empty stage, not anything close to full weight.  :(

Best to get inside a building ASAP.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: topopesto on 09/09/2017 10:49 AM
Is state to recover the fairing in this mission?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/09/2017 11:25 AM
Super-smooth launch and landing, top work by SpaceX and great commentary here at NSF, for which thanks.

The grid fins (which I want to call feathers) seemed to be making light work of steering; gentle adjustment rather than big rotations, which is how you want it. Maybe the first two burns did a good enough job of putting everything on target.
SX have talked about improving the flight software to get a narrower dispersion on the landing angles, but I think that's meant to be part of the Block 5 upgrade.

This sounds very academic but it's got huge payoffs if they can do this every time.

More controlled thermal environment means less TPS erosion.

Less landing propellant for for landing process

Possibly less mass for the grid fin power package.

Bottom line. More mass to the US for either propellant or payload.

The later nudges up the payload figure a bit more, although it already exceeds the payload to LEO of every Atlas V variant that has flown so far (until the double engine centaur variant flies) and the straight Delta IV Medium to LEO.

Leaving the US payload the same and increasing the propellant load gives you more scope for escape missions or any US recovery attempts.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 09/09/2017 12:27 PM
Half fill the RP-1 tank with water?
Neat idea.

But I think those legs are designed to cope with landing a near empty stage, not anything close to full weight.  :(

The first thing they do is set it on the booster mount to remove the legs. We're discussing options *IF* there should be a situation with insufficient time to remove the legs, get it on the transporter and back to a hanger. In such a case, a ballasted stage isn't a bad idea, but you might not want to fill with water in a structure not meant to hold it. You'd have to carefully clean and dry the tanks and plumbing to remove water before reuse.

I still think guy wires tied off to the beanie cap 90 or 120 degrees around the booster mount is a viable approach to this kind of contingency.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: cscott on 09/09/2017 12:56 PM
Is state to recover the fairing in this mission?
The Go Quest/Go Searcher support ships did not leave port, according to our ASDS tracking thread, and are currently tied up further inland than usual to ride out the storm.  So very unlikely there was any fairing recovery attempt, as I believe the Go * ships need to be over the horizon to collect fairing telemetry for even unsuccessful or "water landing" attempts.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: ZachS09 on 09/09/2017 01:06 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abnJLGTqhIQ

I wonder if that instantaneous puff of condensation at 6:52 in addition to those more persistent vapor streaks at the base is the moment it crossed Mach 1.

I'm guessing that the "instantaneous puff of condensation" also means the incoming sonic boom just before the landing burn.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Herb Schaltegger on 09/09/2017 01:18 PM
I'm guessing that the "instantaneous puff of condensation" also means the incoming sonic boom just before the landing burn.

Well, it means the stage is transonic. The boom is caused by the stage being supersonic, with an expanding shock cone (cones, in this case) emanating from points on the stage as it's descending.  The puff of condensation is cause by the stage going transonic in humid air. 

See below for a (not very readable) explanation. You'll get the gist, probably. You'd need a good 400-level college class in compressible fluid dynamics to follow the math. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl–Glauert_singularity
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 09/09/2017 04:30 PM
This story says that SpaceX "was moving quickly to secure" the first stage. 
http://spacenews.com/cape-canaveral-facilities-prepare-for-hurricane-irma/
My guess is that means lifting it onto the work stand.  I don't see how they could do more. I could be wrong.

 - Ed Kyle

Motivation is a wonderful energy focusing mechanism...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: topopesto on 09/09/2017 06:51 PM
Is state to recover the fairing in this mission?
The Go Quest/Go Searcher support ships did not leave port, according to our ASDS tracking thread, and are currently tied up further inland than usual to ride out the storm.  So very unlikely there was any fairing recovery attempt, as I believe the Go * ships need to be over the horizon to collect fairing telemetry for even unsuccessful or "water landing" attempts.

Ok, thanks!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kch on 09/09/2017 07:03 PM
I'm guessing that the "instantaneous puff of condensation" also means the incoming sonic boom just before the landing burn.

Well, it means the stage is transonic. The boom is caused by the stage being supersonic, with an expanding shock cone (cones, in this case) emanating from points on the stage as it's descending.  The puff of condensation is cause by the stage going transonic in humid air. 

See below for a (not very readable) explanation. You'll get the gist, probably. You'd need a good 400-level college class in compressible fluid dynamics to follow the math. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl–Glauert_singularity

Wiki (and other) addresses are often troublesome -- the last part gets left off the clickable link.  If you click the Insert Hyperlink button in the reply editor, then insert your address between the tags, it gets the whole address:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl–Glauert_singularity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl–Glauert_singularity)

:)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: john smith 19 on 09/09/2017 07:26 PM
Well, it means the stage is transonic. The boom is caused by the stage being supersonic, with an expanding shock cone (cones, in this case) emanating from points on the stage as it's descending.  The puff of condensation is cause by the stage going transonic in humid air. 

See below for a (not very readable) explanation. You'll get the gist, probably. You'd need a good 400-level college class in compressible fluid dynamics to follow the math. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prandtl–Glauert_singularity
Amazing picture of the Hornet condensation cloud.

TBH when you've got a term that can lead to a division by 0 (as that equation can) you should realize "This is not physically real," but it kept the maths doable on a slide rule in the early years of the 20th Century, which is when I think it originates from (people forget that supersonic flow has been under study a lot longer than supersonic flight has been possible in an aircraft).   :(

Completely OT but it does suggest a basis for some kind of wacky dehumidification system. All you need do is collect the water before it has a chance to re vaporize.   :)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Asteroza on 09/11/2017 01:21 AM
As an update, we're told the booster is off the LZ-1 pad via their expedited post landing processing which was initiated for the previous landing (CRS-12: The faster processing was a L2 note. Chris G asked Hans. Hans confirmed).

Great work by the LZ-1 team.

Is there a rough time period for how long expedited post landing processing takes to clear the landing pad?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: AncientU on 09/11/2017 11:03 AM
As an update, we're told the booster is off the LZ-1 pad via their expedited post landing processing which was initiated for the previous landing (CRS-12: The faster processing was a L2 note. Chris G asked Hans. Hans confirmed).

Great work by the LZ-1 team.

Is there a rough time period for how long expedited post landing processing takes to clear the landing pad?

It was tucked away two days after landing. 
Exact work hours would be informative if anyone here can share.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: FutureSpaceTourist on 09/11/2017 03:00 PM
Quote
DEIMOS IMAGING‏ @deimosimaging 6m6 minutes ago
Replying to @SpaceX

#DEIMOS2 caught Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone1 at around 15:58 UTC, September 7, less than 2hours after #Falcon9's first stage landed there!

https://twitter.com/deimosimaging/status/907255552153194496 (https://twitter.com/deimosimaging/status/907255552153194496)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Rocket Science on 09/21/2017 03:46 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle
Or a new "cloaking device"? ??? ;D
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/21/2017 03:51 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Would it be possible for the F9 to have put it in an orbit like ORS-5 where there are no qualified amateur observers actually able to see it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/21/2017 04:38 PM
OTV5 has a Hall Effect engine. How much could they have used that to change the spacecraft's inclination and/or apogee in the time since launch? Enough to make it difficult to predict where the spacecraft would be?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rsdavis9 on 09/21/2017 04:43 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Would it be possible for the F9 to have put it in an orbit like ORS-5 where there are no qualified amateur observers actually able to see it.

So is there a sun synchronous orbit that makes satellite viewing difficult?
I would assume if one half is in daylight that would help and if the dark half is over the pacific...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/21/2017 04:46 PM
OTV5 has a Hall Effect engine. How much could they have used that to change the spacecraft's inclination and/or apogee in the time since launch? Enough to make it difficult to predict where the spacecraft would be?

That was OTV-4 that had this, there was no mention of such an engine on this one.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kansan52 on 09/21/2017 05:01 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Is this any longer than normal compared to other OTV missions?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 09/21/2017 05:03 PM
My money is on the 2nd stage substantially changed the target inclination from the booster trajectory.
And X-37B has radar absorbing material, making it nearly impossible to detect it (helped by the sheer distance from the ground it flies at).
Its a secret space plane for a reason.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: hkultala on 09/21/2017 05:24 PM
My money is on the 2nd stage substantially changed the target inclination from the booster trajectory.
And X-37B has radar absorbing material, making it nearly impossible to detect it (helped by the sheer distance from the ground it flies at).
Its a secret space plane for a reason.

An basis for the claims about the radar-absorbing materials?

No reliable source seems to claim so.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/21/2017 05:50 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Is this any longer than normal compared to other OTV missions?

<snip>
Looking back through the SeeSat-L archives:

OTV-1 launched April 22, 2010
1st usable observations made May 20, 2010
Ted Molczan wrote a great summary of the "discovery" process in this post:
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2010/0190.html (http://www.satobs.org/seesat/May-2010/0190.html)

OTV-2 launched March 5, 2011
1st observation March 9, 2011

OTV-3 launched December 11, 2012
1st observation 19 minutes after Centaur MECO

And, there have been times when the OTV has been "lost" for some time after an orbit change.

<snip>
ADD: OTV-4 launched May 20, 2015
1st observation May 25, 2015
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Tomness on 09/21/2017 06:00 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

I hope they don't find it... Silence is Golden and Secret can't stay a Secret if its known.... I think these Observations just allows other to find it quicker....
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 09/21/2017 07:12 PM
My money is on the 2nd stage substantially changed the target inclination from the booster trajectory.
And X-37B has radar absorbing material, making it nearly impossible to detect it (helped by the sheer distance from the ground it flies at).
Its a secret space plane for a reason.

An basis for the claims about the radar-absorbing materials?

No reliable source seems to claim so.

Any reliable sources would be under threat of jail time if they said anything. Stealth is nothing new. Not putting some stealth on a space plane would be incompetence in my view.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Prettz on 09/21/2017 07:36 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: macpacheco on 09/21/2017 07:46 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kansan52 on 09/21/2017 07:54 PM
Thanks 'z'!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 09/21/2017 09:04 PM
How would "stealth" (radar absorbant materials) help X-37B avoid detection by amateur observers who are looking for it in optical wavelengths?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: rpapo on 09/21/2017 10:28 PM
If the orbiter were painted or coated with something radar absorbent, then there would have been obvious streaking visible on the orbiter after landing.  We have seen no such thing.

And as noted above, it would not help at all against a flock of amateurs with telescopes.  The only thing that would help with that would be black paint.  But you would get the same streaking effect after reentry with something like that.

Yet the only discoloration we've seen so far was of the same type as the Space Shuttle had after reentry.  For the same reasons.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Comga on 09/22/2017 02:17 AM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Would it be possible for the F9 to have put it in an orbit like ORS-5 where there are no qualified amateur observers actually able to see it.

So is there a sun synchronous orbit that makes satellite viewing difficult?
I would assume if one half is in daylight that would help and if the dark half is over the pacific...

There is, but it has nothing to do with ground features like the Pacific.  (The Pacific ocean is not in constant sunlight or darkness.)

A noon/midnight orbit would be very difficult for ground observers to spot.  The only time it will be illuminated against a dark sky would be at very high latitudes, like above 80 degrees North and South. Not many observers there, or outdoors for long periods at night.

That's not saying that OTV-5 could have been placed there.  It would have been one heck of a plane change to get to the required 97 or so degrees from an East coast launch.  Someone ran the model for me once and said that the Falcon 9 has less than 2 mTons capacity with a plane change that large.  The X-37 is over 5 mTons.  YMMV but it doesn't sound possible.

On the other hand, a very high inclination orbit, but still prograde, might keep it hidden for quite a while. 
OTV-5 launched at 9 AM "local solar time" (10 AM daylight saving time)  It flew "towards noon".  A sharp "left" turn could keep it's visibility pretty far north and south where it could stay for many weeks.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Prettz on 09/22/2017 04:01 AM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.
It was more of a rhetorical question, since both are impossible.

Besides, the X-37 has to keep its payload bay doors open all the while it's in space.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/22/2017 07:47 AM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Would it be possible for the F9 to have put it in an orbit like ORS-5 where there are no qualified amateur observers actually able to see it.

So is there a sun synchronous orbit that makes satellite viewing difficult?
I would assume if one half is in daylight that would help and if the dark half is over the pacific...

There is, but it has nothing to do with ground features like the Pacific.  (The Pacific ocean is not in constant sunlight or darkness.)

A noon/midnight orbit would be very difficult for ground observers to spot.  The only time it will be illuminated against a dark sky would be at very high latitudes, like above 80 degrees North and South. Not many observers there, or outdoors for long periods at night.

That's not saying that OTV-5 could have been placed there.  It would have been one heck of a plane change to get to the required 97 or so degrees from an East coast launch.  Someone ran the model for me once and said that the Falcon 9 has less than 2 mTons capacity with a plane change that large.  The X-37 is over 5 mTons.  YMMV but it doesn't sound possible.

On the other hand, a very high inclination orbit, but still prograde, might keep it hidden for quite a while. 
OTV-5 launched at 9 AM "local solar time" (10 AM daylight saving time)  It flew "towards noon".  A sharp "left" turn could keep it's visibility pretty far north and south where it could stay for many weeks.

Wasn’t there statements beforehand about the F9 having plenty of excess performance with this launch?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Mader Levap on 09/22/2017 10:51 AM
Any reliable sources would be under threat of jail time if they said anything.

Using that excuse, you can make up anything about everything claimed to be secret.

I think these Observations just allows other to find it quicker....

Do you seriously think that "others" (presumably Russians and Chinese) rely on USA amateur's observations? ::)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/22/2017 01:51 PM
Do you seriously think that "others" (presumably Russians and Chinese) rely on USA amateur's observations? ::)
Actually, it has always surprised me they don't contribute information to the amateur observing community on these secret US payloads. Not so much as a full TLE (that might give away capabilities on how fast they can or can not find and track something) but you know, I would use these search parameters.

Makes one wonder... Of course on a recent NK ballistic missile Russia basically claimed it wasn't an ICBM test by only tracking the first stage... Did they miss the second stage? or was it deliberate subterfuge?

Edit: btw, A good portion of these amateurs are not in the US, or US citizens. It is a very international thing...
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/22/2017 04:23 PM
Do you seriously think that "others" (presumably Russians and Chinese) rely on USA amateur's observations? ::)
Actually, it has always surprised me they don't contribute information to the amateur observing community on these secret US payloads. Not so much as a full TLE (that might give away capabilities on how fast they can or can not find and track something) but you know, I would use these search parameters.

Makes one wonder... Of course on a recent NK ballistic missile Russia basically claimed it wasn't an ICBM test by only tracking the first stage... Did they miss the second stage? or was it deliberate subterfuge?

Edit: btw, A good portion of these amateurs are not in the US, or US citizens. It is a very international thing...

I doubt they want to tip off their hands to the US as regards their tracking capabilities.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Kaputnik on 09/22/2017 09:48 PM
Three weeks after launch, the searching civilians at Seesat-L have yet to find OTV-5.  I wonder if it might be in a higher inclination orbit than expected.

 - Ed Kyle

Would it be possible for the F9 to have put it in an orbit like ORS-5 where there are no qualified amateur observers actually able to see it.

So is there a sun synchronous orbit that makes satellite viewing difficult?
I would assume if one half is in daylight that would help and if the dark half is over the pacific...

There is, but it has nothing to do with ground features like the Pacific.  (The Pacific ocean is not in constant sunlight or darkness.)

A noon/midnight orbit would be very difficult for ground observers to spot.  The only time it will be illuminated against a dark sky would be at very high latitudes, like above 80 degrees North and South. Not many observers there, or outdoors for long periods at night.

That's not saying that OTV-5 could have been placed there.  It would have been one heck of a plane change to get to the required 97 or so degrees from an East coast launch.  Someone ran the model for me once and said that the Falcon 9 has less than 2 mTons capacity with a plane change that large.  The X-37 is over 5 mTons.  YMMV but it doesn't sound possible.

On the other hand, a very high inclination orbit, but still prograde, might keep it hidden for quite a while. 
OTV-5 launched at 9 AM "local solar time" (10 AM daylight saving time)  It flew "towards noon".  A sharp "left" turn could keep it's visibility pretty far north and south where it could stay for many weeks.

Wasn’t there statements beforehand about the F9 having plenty of excess performance with this launch?

Excess performance to a nominal LEO, yes. The OTV is half the mass of a Dragon, for example. But going to a different orbit changes the payload capacity by a huge amount.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Comga on 09/23/2017 03:13 AM
Wasn’t there statements beforehand about the F9 having plenty of excess performance with this launch?

Excess performance to a nominal LEO, yes. The OTV is half the mass of a Dragon, for example. But going to a different orbit changes the payload capacity by a huge amount.

I told you.
Someone did a model of the payload capacity of an F9 with a 28 deg plane change. It dropped below 2 tons. East coast launches are limited to ~57 deg so Sun synchronous is almost 40 deg more.
There is a large difference between "more than enough power" and a 40 deg plane change. That's not possible.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: hkultala on 09/23/2017 06:25 AM
Wasn’t there statements beforehand about the F9 having plenty of excess performance with this launch?

Excess performance to a nominal LEO, yes. The OTV is half the mass of a Dragon, for example. But going to a different orbit changes the payload capacity by a huge amount.

I told you.
Someone did a model of the payload capacity of an F9 with a 28 deg plane change. It dropped below 2 tons. East coast launches are limited to ~57 deg so Sun synchronous is almost 40 deg more.
There is a large difference between "more than enough power" and a 40 deg plane change. That's not possible.

Staging velocity was about 5900 km/h or 1640 m/s at 65km. The 1st stage rose to 136km.

Assuming boostback burn was done horizontally, this means it had 696.5 joules of vertical kinetic energy per kilogram, which means 1.18 km/s vertical velocity during staging.

This means it had 1.14 km/s horizontal velocity during staging.

From the video we see that the boostback burn is not done exactly horizontally but slightly downwards, so it had more than 1.18 km/s vertical velocity during staging, so it had slightly less than 1.14 km/s horizontal velocity during staging. Lets say 1.1 km/s.


40 degrees plane change practically means this initial 1.1 km/s horizontal velocity from the first stage is to 40 degrees wrong direction.  cos(40) = 0.766

So, for this 1.1 velocity the first stage gave it it only  0.766 * 1.1 km/s = 0.84 km/s is "useful work", 0.257 km/s wasted.

This 0.257 km/s is a very small amout of wasted delta-v.


Inclination change is relatively cheap when it's done early enough (immediately after staging of rocket with low-impulse 1st stage). It's very expensive when it's done late.



Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Pete on 09/23/2017 12:13 PM
Staging velocity was about 5900 km/h or 1640 m/s at 65km. The 1st stage rose to 136km.

Assuming boostback burn was done horizontally, this means it had 696.5 joules of vertical kinetic energy per kilogram, which means 1.18 m/s vertical velocity during staging.

This means it had 1.14 m/s horizontal velocity during staging.


Argh!
Ye canna just omit the "k" in "km/s", and assume the audience will fill it in fer ye!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OneSpeed on 09/23/2017 09:18 PM
Inclination change is relatively cheap when it's done early enough (immediately after staging of rocket with low-impulse 1st stage). It's very expensive when it's done late.

Taking launch from the Cape to equatorial as an example (28° plane change), the burn needs to be over the equator, which is well after the first S2 shutdown. So, very expensive. I don't know the orbital parameters for OTV-5 yet, but once it is spotted, it may be possible to infer more.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Lars-J on 09/23/2017 10:56 PM
Inclination change is relatively cheap when it's done early enough (immediately after staging of rocket with low-impulse 1st stage). It's very expensive when it's done late.

Taking launch from the Cape to equatorial as an example (28° plane change), the burn needs to be over the equator, which is well after the first S2 shutdown. So, very expensive. I don't know the orbital parameters for OTV-5 yet, but once it is spotted, it may be possible to infer more.

LEO inclination changes can be done at any point in the orbit. It is only for GTO elliptical orbits where you really have to do it over the equator, otherwise your apogee is is not going to be over the equator.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 09/23/2017 11:06 PM
Inclination change is relatively cheap when it's done early enough (immediately after staging of rocket with low-impulse 1st stage). It's very expensive when it's done late.

Taking launch from the Cape to equatorial as an example (28° plane change), the burn needs to be over the equator, which is well after the first S2 shutdown. So, very expensive. I don't know the orbital parameters for OTV-5 yet, but once it is spotted, it may be possible to infer more.

LEO inclination changes can be done at any point in the orbit. It is only for GTO elliptical orbits where you really have to do it over the equator, otherwise your apogee is is not going to be over the equator.

Orbital mechanics allow the plane change at any time, but at booster sep the vehicle is only about 100 km downrange and an immediate dogleg to SSO inclinations will trace the upper stage IIP over some highly populated areas.

To get SSO inclinations out of the Cape would require waiting until the upper stage is well out to sea and likely nearly to Newfoundland, more than 1,000 km downrange, where it will be much nearer orbital velocity.

If it was going to SSO, it makes way more sense to launch it from Vandy. It's not like it will be hidden from anyone of importance for long.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/24/2017 06:04 PM
Could OTV-5 have been spotted, if it has its much fainter than expected.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0115.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: hkultala on 09/24/2017 07:29 PM
Staging velocity was about 5900 km/h or 1640 m/s at 65km. The 1st stage rose to 136km.

Assuming boostback burn was done horizontally, this means it had 696.5 joules of vertical kinetic energy per kilogram, which means 1.18 m/s vertical velocity during staging.

This means it had 1.14 m/s horizontal velocity during staging.


Argh!
Ye canna just omit the "k" in "km/s", and assume the audience will fill it in fer ye!

typoes, and now fixed. But at least I don't use millitesla as unit of mass like most people here.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OneSpeed on 09/25/2017 12:34 PM
LEO inclination changes can be done at any point in the orbit. It is only for GTO elliptical orbits where you really have to do it over the equator, otherwise your apogee is not going to be over the equator.

Again using launch from the Cape to equatorial LEO as an example (28° plane change requirement), by changing 28° at an orbital node (over the equator), an equatorial orbit is achieved directly (diagram 1). This is what I modelled for Comga.

If the burn was instead performed at maximum declination (28° latitude), the orbital plane would have been tipped sideways by 28° (diagram 2). The resultant orbit would have an inclination of 38°. If I had been trying to achieve equatorial orbit, any burn at maximum declination would have increased inclination, and been counter-productive. If I had been trying to increase inclination, then I would have obtained only a 10° change in declination for a 28° plane change.

Lastly, if I had been trying to increase inclination, and the burn had been performed at the equator, the resultant orbit would have a 56° inclination, nearly 3 x better (diagram 3). In short, yes you can change plane at any point in a low earth orbit, but changing plane is not the same as changing inclination, unless you do so at the equator.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 09/25/2017 12:55 PM
LEO inclination changes can be done at any point in the orbit. It is only for GTO elliptical orbits where you really have to do it over the equator, otherwise your apogee is not going to be over the equator.

Again using launch from the Cape to equatorial LEO as an example (28° plane change requirement), by changing 28° at an orbital node (over the equator), an equatorial orbit is achieved directly (diagram 1). This is what I modelled for Comga.

If the burn was instead performed at maximum declination (28° latitude), the orbital plane would have been tipped sideways by 28° (diagram 2). The resultant orbit would have an inclination of 38°. If I had been trying to achieve equatorial orbit, any burn at maximum declination would have increased inclination, and been counter-productive. If I had been trying to increase inclination, then I would have obtained only a 10° change in declination for a 28° plane change.

Lastly, if I had been trying to increase inclination, and the burn had been performed at the equator, the resultant orbit would have a 56° inclination, nearly 3 x better (diagram 3). In short, yes you can change plane at any point in a low earth orbit, but changing plane is not the same as changing inclination, unless you do so at the equator.

More concisely: you have to intersect a plane in order to burn into that plane, and you can only intersect the equatorial plane over the equator.

However, every non-SSO orbit intersects every SSO plane once per orbit: as long as you launch at the right time of day, you don't have to wait to cross the equator to burn into a specified SSO.

I'm not sure why X-37B would go to an equatorial orbit; yes, it good for hiding from amateur observers, but it's also terrible for looking at anything on the ground which is about the only reason to hide from amateur observers. A SSO orbit far from the terminator is also well hidden and much more useful.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OneSpeed on 09/25/2017 01:33 PM
I'm not sure why X-37B would go to an equatorial orbit;

I'm not suggesting it would, I was just trying to show why it is advantageous to perform plane change at the equator.

However, every non-SSO orbit intersects every SSO plane once per orbit: as long as you launch at the right time of day, you don't have to wait to cross the equator to burn into a specified SSO.

You don't, but the more extreme the latitude of the burn, the more expensive it is.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/25/2017 02:03 PM
Could OTV-5 have been spotted, if it has its much fainter than expected.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0115.html

Ted Molczan's followup gives some search TLE's but cautions it could also fit TecSar (08002A / 32476) which was last observed in the spring of 2016.
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0118.html 

So, if it is OTV-5 and it is fainter than expected, could this indicate a deployable test of optical stealth technology. Something along the lines of Teledyne's famous patent? https://www.google.com/patents/US5345238
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: hkultala on 09/25/2017 02:04 PM
I'm not sure why X-37B would go to an equatorial orbit;

I'm not suggesting it would, I was just trying to show why it is advantageous to perform plane change at the equator.

It is not advantageous to perform plane change at the equator.

it is very unadvantageous to perform plane change at the equator, but it is necessary when the target inclination is zero.

However, every non-SSO orbit intersects every SSO plane once per orbit: as long as you launch at the right time of day, you don't have to wait to cross the equator to burn into a specified SSO.

You don't, but the more extreme the latitude of the burn, the more expensive it is.

No, it's not. The higher velocity you perform the burn, the more expensive it is.

Changing the inclination early during the launch is cheap.
First going to orbit speed to wrong inclination and then changing inclination is very expensive.

Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: envy887 on 09/25/2017 02:53 PM
I'm not sure why X-37B would go to an equatorial orbit;

I'm not suggesting it would, I was just trying to show why it is advantageous to perform plane change at the equator.

It is not advantageous to perform plane change at the equator.

it is very unadvantageous to perform plane change at the equator, but it is necessary when the target inclination is zero.

For the specific case of going from a circular 28 degree LEO to a circular SSO at same altitude, this is incorrect.

It may help to visualize the various planes, but it comes down to this: the angle between a 28 degree orbit and SSO is greatest at highest latitude. When crossing the equator, there is a velocity component in the direction of the SSO, while at highest latitude the orbits are very nearly perpendicular.

However, is is still FAR cheaper to do the change while suborbital instead of waiting to cross the equator.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/25/2017 05:01 PM
Could OTV-5 have been spotted, if it has its much fainter than expected.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0115.html

Ted Molczan's followup gives some search TLE's but cautions it could also fit TecSar (08002A / 32476) which was last observed in the spring of 2016.
http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0118.html 

So, if it is OTV-5 and it is fainter than expected, could this indicate a deployable test of optical stealth technology. Something along the lines of Teledyne's famous patent? https://www.google.com/patents/US5345238

Here’s a further follow up on the matter.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0120.html

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0121.html

And this.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0123.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/25/2017 05:49 PM
Here’s a further follow up on the matter.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0120.html

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0121.html

And this.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0123.html

As the thread progresses, it seems they are more and more convinced the sighting is TecSar and not OTV-5.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/25/2017 05:50 PM
Here’s a further follow up on the matter.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0120.html

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0121.html

And this.

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0123.html

As the thread progresses, it seems they are more and more convinced the sighting is TecSar and not OTV-5.

That’s certainly how I read it.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Comga on 09/25/2017 06:56 PM
For the specific case of going from a circular 28 degree LEO to a circular SSO at same altitude, this is incorrect.

It may help to visualize the various planes, but it comes down to this: the angle between a 28 degree orbit and SSO is greatest at highest latitude. When crossing the equator, there is a velocity component in the direction of the SSO, while at highest latitude the orbits are very nearly perpendicular.

However, is is still FAR cheaper to do the change while suborbital instead of waiting to cross the equator.

Pardon me
This was in answer to the question of whether NRO could have put OTV-5 into an orbit hard to track visually.
The hardest by that criterion could be a noon/midnight sun synchronous orbit.
I used the CCAFS to zero inclination calculation as a ROM on payload capacity of an F9 to that orbit. knowing that it was not a very good way to estimate it.  I did that because it's not a serious question, so not worth troubling our very capable modelers for a precise answer.

Thanks to all for the good insights into the orbital issues, and looking forward to if and when OTV-5 is positively identified.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 09/25/2017 08:14 PM
My money is on the 2nd stage substantially changed the target inclination from the booster trajectory.
And X-37B has radar absorbing material, making it nearly impossible to detect it (helped by the sheer distance from the ground it flies at).
Its a secret space plane for a reason.

An basis for the claims about the radar-absorbing materials?

No reliable source seems to claim so.

Any reliable sources would be under threat of jail time if they said anything. Stealth is nothing new. Not putting some stealth on a space plane would be incompetence in my view.

wrong.

a.  It is a spaceplane for landing.  Its shape has nothing to do with it use on orbit
b.  This very shape is not stealthy
c.  X-37 can only carry 500lbs, that does not mix with stealth
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 09/25/2017 08:15 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.

No, it makes no sense.  There is no such thing as a spray on stealth coating
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 09/25/2017 08:18 PM

Inclination change is relatively cheap when it's done early enough (immediately after staging of rocket with low-impulse 1st stage). It's very expensive when it's done late

That is not a inclination "change" before it is in orbit, that is a dog leg
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 09/25/2017 08:27 PM
In short, yes you can change plane at any point in a low earth orbit, but changing plane is not the same as changing inclination, unless you do so at the equator.

Wrong

What is meant by a dog leg.  It is during ascent before the vehicle is orbital.   The vehicle flies out at a certain azimuth and then steers to another one which changes the inclination.  The only limitation (other than propellant) is that the vehicle can not go to a lower inclination than the latitude it is at during the maneuver.


Also, inclination change does not have to be at the equator.  That is just the most efficient place for the maneuver,.  other locations are not as efficient and are subject to the above limitation.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: old_sellsword on 09/25/2017 08:33 PM
In short, yes you can change plane at any point in a low earth orbit, but changing plane is not the same as changing inclination, unless you do so at the equator.

Wrong

What is meant by a dog leg.  It is during ascent before the vehicle is orbital.   The vehicle flies out at a certain azimuth and then steers to another one which changes the inclination.  The only limitation (other than propellant) is that the vehicle can not go to a lower inclination than the latitude it is at during the maneuver.


Also, inclination change does not have to be at the equator.  That is just the most efficient place for the maneuver,.  other locations are not as efficient and are subject to the above limitation.

Jim, does this maneuver require yaw (RAAN) steering? I believe you’ve stated before that Falcon 9 doesn’t have that capability.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/25/2017 08:42 PM
RE: "observability" from the ground and "stealth"

If the USAF is making an effort to make the X-37B low-observable, what can be done without using any advanced materials or techniques (stealth)?

Does the X-37 have to orient itself in a similar way to Shuttle while in orbit?

IIRC, Shuttle on-orbit in independent flight, was most often oriented with the payload bay facing Earth.  The more reflective whlte blanketed/tiled surfaces faced the ground observers, while the black belly tiles faced outer space.

Thus, Shuttle was one of the brightest satellites in LEO.

What if the X-37 is orbiting with the black underside tiles facing Earth?  That would make its observed magnitude fainter--a lower albedo.

Or, what if the attitude is tail facing Earth?  It's a smaller surface area, less area to reflect sunlight.

An example: if the reflectivity is reduced to approximately 16% of the "normal" brightness, the apparent magnitude is reduced by 2.  A second magnitude satellite becomes a fourth magnitude satellite.

Nothing fancy, just basic physics and astronomy.

Just a thought--and certainly not a claim to be "the answer."

Math EDIT
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: meberbs on 09/25/2017 08:51 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.

No, it makes no sense.  There is no such thing as a spray on stealth coating
F-35 paint is classified, guess why.
http://www.businessinsider.com/where-f-35-gets-classified-features-2015-5
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jirka Dlouhy on 09/25/2017 09:42 PM
Is any information about Cubesats in this flight?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/25/2017 09:53 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.

No, it makes no sense.  There is no such thing as a spray on stealth coating
F-35 paint is classified, guess why.
http://www.businessinsider.com/where-f-35-gets-classified-features-2015-5

Because it absorbs radar. Of course, we aren't talking about radar observations here, but optical.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: meberbs on 09/25/2017 10:27 PM
So do you think the stealth coating is overtop or under the various thermal protection materials?
Perhaps on top, and burns up during re-entry and reapplied before each mission.
X-37B has a pretty cozy ride up, only gets cooked on the way down.
Pure speculation of course. But would make sense.

No, it makes no sense.  There is no such thing as a spray on stealth coating
F-35 paint is classified, guess why.
http://www.businessinsider.com/where-f-35-gets-classified-features-2015-5

Because it absorbs radar. Of course, we aren't talking about radar observations here, but optical.
That quote tree is based on discussion of radar stealth.

Spray on optical stealth for space is pretty obvious (black paint), so I am pretty sure that isn't what Jim was referring to either.

Last on the list of observation methods would be IR, and control of IR with paint is a consideration in spacecraft thermal design anyway. The RF paint is the obscure one that I wouldn't have guessed existed either if I hadn't heard about it before.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 09/25/2017 10:59 PM
Is any information about Cubesats in this flight?

Nope not a thing they are proving as mysterious as the X-37B.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/26/2017 12:38 AM
That quote tree is based on discussion of radar stealth.

Spray on optical stealth for space is pretty obvious (black paint), so I am pretty sure that isn't what Jim was referring to either.

Last on the list of observation methods would be IR, and control of IR with paint is a consideration in spacecraft thermal design anyway. The RF paint is the obscure one that I wouldn't have guessed existed either if I hadn't heard about it before.

Raised eyebrow... You are going to paint thermal tiles? Also, "black" is not a perfect solution, most blacks will reflect some light. Many C-Type (carbonaceous) asteriods are very "black" and where still found optically. Just because something meets the definition of black does not mean you won't see it if you shine a light on it.

A simpler way to make a satellite "stealthy" to visual observers is some sort of sun screen (umbrella) that shadows the satellite and reflects the incoming solar light away from earth. It has been discussed many times, an actual patent was even filed that is often discussed every time this is brought up. I linked it up thread.

Most obvious explanation is, it is not where we think it is. At this point, everyone is still guessing what orbit it ended up in.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OneSpeed on 09/26/2017 01:16 AM
In short, yes you can change plane at any point in a low earth orbit, but changing plane is not the same as changing inclination, unless you do so at the equator.

Wrong

What is meant by a dog leg.  It is during ascent before the vehicle is orbital.   The vehicle flies out at a certain azimuth and then steers to another one which changes the inclination.  The only limitation (other than propellant) is that the vehicle can not go to a lower inclination than the latitude it is at during the maneuver.

Are you sure you are answering my post? I've said nothing about dogleg manoeuvres in this thread.

Also, inclination change does not have to be at the equator.  That is just the most efficient place for the maneuver,.  other locations are not as efficient and are subject to the above limitation.

Yes, that's exactly what I've said a couple of times upthread, I even provided an example.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: meberbs on 09/26/2017 02:35 AM
That quote tree is based on discussion of radar stealth.

Spray on optical stealth for space is pretty obvious (black paint), so I am pretty sure that isn't what Jim was referring to either.

Last on the list of observation methods would be IR, and control of IR with paint is a consideration in spacecraft thermal design anyway. The RF paint is the obscure one that I wouldn't have guessed existed either if I hadn't heard about it before.

Raised eyebrow... You are going to paint thermal tiles? Also, "black" is not a perfect solution, most blacks will reflect some light. Many C-Type (carbonaceous) asteriods are very "black" and where still found optically. Just because something meets the definition of black does not mean you won't see it if you shine a light on it.
Was not my original suggestion, I was just countering Jim's claim that there is no such thing as spray on stealth coating. Whether this is a good idea or necessary is a separate issue that I truly don't have an opinion on.

I don't think anyone has ever claimed that any stealth system is perfect, but black is definitely more effective than white for optical stealth in space. That point doesn't change even if there are more effective methods that are just different like what you suggested.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: JamesH65 on 09/26/2017 09:30 AM
That quote tree is based on discussion of radar stealth.

Spray on optical stealth for space is pretty obvious (black paint), so I am pretty sure that isn't what Jim was referring to either.

Last on the list of observation methods would be IR, and control of IR with paint is a consideration in spacecraft thermal design anyway. The RF paint is the obscure one that I wouldn't have guessed existed either if I hadn't heard about it before.

Raised eyebrow... You are going to paint thermal tiles? Also, "black" is not a perfect solution, most blacks will reflect some light. Many C-Type (carbonaceous) asteriods are very "black" and where still found optically. Just because something meets the definition of black does not mean you won't see it if you shine a light on it.
Was not my original suggestion, I was just countering Jim's claim that there is no such thing as spray on stealth coating. Whether this is a good idea or necessary is a separate issue that I truly don't have an opinion on.

I don't think anyone has ever claimed that any stealth system is perfect, but black is definitely more effective than white for optical stealth in space. That point doesn't change even if there are more effective methods that are just different like what you suggested.

Clearly there is such a thing as spray on stealth paint.

And for optical stealth, just use vantablack. That stuff doesn't reflect anything. Well, 99.96% absorbency. So 0.04% reflection. Also works as thermal camouflage.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Mike_1179 on 09/26/2017 01:05 PM
Stealth is about much more than “hard to see it”

A stealth aircraft needs to communicate, and waveguide antennas are big, flat, metal plates. You put one of those on the outside of your vehicle and it will light up great on radar. Stick it underneath all of your fancy radar-absorbing structure and communication signals can’t get to it. A frequency-selective surface which allows communication transmission with limited loss but absorbs (not reflects) other frequencies is not spray-on.

There’s more to stealth than smooth edges, black paint and microwave-attenuating coverings.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: SmallKing on 09/26/2017 01:10 PM
Ted said the current 37B orbit is about 7 deg from the expected RAAN. So, how much energy the Falcon 9 wasted to reach this orbit?
http://satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0118.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/26/2017 01:57 PM
Ted said the current 37B orbit is about 7 deg from the expected RAAN. So, how much energy the Falcon 9 wasted to reach this orbit?
http://satobs.org/seesat/Sep-2017/0118.html
The consensus in following SeeSat posts seems to be they recovered TecSar and it is not OTV-5.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Jim on 09/26/2017 03:56 PM

Clearly there is such a thing as spray on stealth paint.

And for optical stealth, just use vantablack. That stuff doesn't reflect anything. Well, 99.96% absorbency. So 0.04% reflection. Also works as thermal camouflage.

Not spray on
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Skyrocket on 09/26/2017 05:20 PM

Clearly there is such a thing as spray on stealth paint.

And for optical stealth, just use vantablack. That stuff doesn't reflect anything. Well, 99.96% absorbency. So 0.04% reflection. Also works as thermal camouflage.

Not spray on


And it would give the satellite a huge IR footprint.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/26/2017 06:22 PM
I will also remind you of history of the X-15 and it's 'pink' spray on ablative thermal insulation. It was an attempt at send the X-15 higher and faster. It was also a total flop, when burning off it charred,  leading to excessive  local heating, increased drag, and covered the windows with soot.

Any "stealth" coating applied (be it by hand or sprayed on) to OTV-5 will have similar negative impacts as it burns off. The soot will create localized hot spots, it will char leading to increased drag, if it doesn't burn off evenly it could lead to asymmetrical drag at hypersonic speeds (with loss of control), and then cover with soot sensors needed for a safe landing.

That is why many here (like Jim) think the whole idea of applying a stealth coating/paint/tar/spit balls to the vehicle is bonkers.

Don't forget, Stealth does not work very we at long wavelengths (low frequency). When the vehicle is much shorter than the 1/4 wave, it will act like a short dipole (re radiate the energy). Over the horizon early warning radars operate at these longer wavelengths. That is also why everyone is saying stealth will not buy you much.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/27/2017 10:03 AM
IIRC, thermal resistance has always been a huge issue for most low-observability materials.

Are there any practical active systems that could be used?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: garcianc on 09/27/2017 12:54 PM
Please forgive me if this is an ignorant question but, hearing all this speculation about stealth techniques got this old military man thinking. Doesn't this vehicle have solar panels? It would seem to me that making those stealth would be tough.

For whatever is worth, from my experience as a submariner, the best stealth method is the most basic: hide.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: jpo234 on 09/27/2017 01:06 PM
Please forgive me if this is an ignorant question but, hearing all this speculation about stealth techniques got this old military man thinking. Doesn't this vehicle have solar panels? It would seem to me that making those stealth would be tough.

For whatever is worth, from my experience as a submariner, the best stealth method is the most basic: hide.

The USAF’s Secret X-37B Space Plane is Powered by a Deployable Solar Panel (http://inhabitat.com/the-usafs-secret-x-37b-space-plane-is-powered-by-a-deployable-solar-panel/)
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 09/27/2017 01:07 PM
Please forgive me if this is an ignorant question but, hearing all this speculation about stealth techniques got this old military man thinking. Doesn't this vehicle have solar panels? It would seem to me that making those stealth would be tough.

For whatever is worth, from my experience as a submariner, the best stealth method is the most basic: hide.

Simple answer on the solar panels, is they are always pointed at the sun, so you only see the back side in shadow. You can make them so no light goes through the structure.  The long answer to that is as you head towards sunset in orbit, the angle of reflection off of them will at some point intersect with the ground (which is in shadow) so you will get a flare. Now deliberately controlling the flare angle by tilting the panels up a little as you head towards the terminator would prevent that at the cost of some power generation.   

I agree, up to this point OTV-5 is using the best method possible. Hiding!

That said this OTV-5 mania has me checking every bright satellite. Then I checked Heavens-Above and it is ISS or some spent stage ;-) FWIW: ISS should have a very bright east coast pass tonight, it will have an elevation of about 87 degrees over boston at around 7:45ish.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Zed_Noir on 09/28/2017 06:24 AM
My speculation is that the X-37B could have a deployable non-symmetrical EM shade on a boom on the opposite side of the solar array. That also reduces the visual footprint of the vehicle.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 10/08/2017 07:35 PM
Seesat-l news, a few days old:

Russell Eberst reports single sighting of an unknown bright satellite on the morning of October 3 (magnitude +2.7 if I understand his table correctly), possibly OTV-5: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Oct-2017/0007.html

Ted Molczan then generated search elements for an assumed, quasi-55 deg. inclined orbit here: http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Oct-2017/0009.html

Search tips:
Quote
It is recommend to use wide field optics, or on favourable passes, the unaided eye. Avoid observing close to the predicted intersection with Earth's shadow.

(My note: This is definitely differing from assumptions of a 43 deg. inclined orbit elsewhere, such as www.heavens-above.com .)

No further observations mentioned on Seesat-l between October 3 and today, October 8.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 10/16/2017 06:44 AM
Have a look at the picture in reply #637 page 43 kindly posted on the Secret Projects Forum in this thread, notice the X-37B model in the background. Me thinks perhaps that model should have been taken down before people started shooting off photos of official visits to Global Strike Command.

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5232.0.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 10/16/2017 10:36 AM
Do you need to be logged in or something? Reply 637 in that thread no longer has the picture. At least on a mobile device.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 10/16/2017 12:14 PM
Do you need to be logged in or something? Reply 637 in that thread no longer has the picture. At least on a mobile device.

Yes sorry. Because I am always logged in I forgot.

Apparently another poster said the same model featured in a 60 minutes documentary two years back so it obviously isn’t as intriguing as thought.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kOy0fI4bB0
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kdhilliard on 10/16/2017 01:06 PM
Do you need to be logged in or something? Reply 637 in that thread no longer has the picture. At least on a mobile device.

Yes sorry. Because I am always logged in I forgot.

Apparently another poster said the same model featured in a 60 minutes documentary two years back so it obviously isn’t as intriguing as thought.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kOy0fI4bB0

The X-37B discussion starts at 22:20.  The model, seen from several different angles, is shown from 22:34 to 23:16.  This 60 Minutes episode, "The Battle Above (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/rare-look-at-space-command-satellite-defense-60-minutes/)", aired on 26 April 2015.

~Kirk
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 10/16/2017 10:41 PM
Some others online have picked up about that model X-37B now.

https://mobile.twitter.com/FG_STrim/status/919941483851079680
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: SpaceCadet1983 on 10/27/2017 08:30 PM
The Boeing X-37B mock-up is in HQ Air Force Space Command not Global Strike Command.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: astropl on 11/03/2017 01:10 PM
Quote
On the evening of 2017 Nov 02 UTC, Russell Eberst made new observations of the bright UNID he spotted on the morning of 2017 Oct 03 UTC, that we suspect is OTV 5.

The following circular orbit fits Russell's timed positions, one each on Oct 03 and Nov 02:

OTV 5 suspect                                            403 X 404 km
1 77203U 77203A   17306.77911249  .00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    08
2 77203  63.5883 190.6553 0001000   0.0010   0.1122 15.54162386    02

It should be recovered easily in the above orbit. The eccentricity could be somewhat greater, in which case there will be small time and cross-track errors.

I would like to perform a bit more analysis to assure myself this is OTV 5, before I assign the ID: OTV 5 (USA 277), 2017-052A / 42932.

OTV 5 most likely was inserted into an approximately 43 deg parking orbit. My guess is that the second stage of its Falcon 9 booster performed the manoeuvre to change the inclination, which I intend to attempt to verify.

Russell's relevant observation reports:

http://satobs.org/seesat/Oct-2017/0007.html

http://satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2017/0007.html

Russell, what was its approximate magnitude on Nov 02, prior to entry into the penumbra?

Ted Molczan

Link (http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2017/0009.html).
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Comga on 11/04/2017 02:23 AM
63.588 deg inclination if this one is correct.  Unexpected, but an interesting inclination - not far from Molniya orbit inclinations (63.4 deg), though obviously those satellites are in 12 hour orbits versus OTV-5's likely 1.5 hour orbit.

 - Ed Kyle

But doesn’t any orbit at 63.4 degrees inclination have a fixed argument of perigee, where the apogee and perigee do not roll around the orbit, as it is not a function of semi-major axis (orbit altitude)? Even if the orbit is only slightly elliptical the apogee could remain over a fixed latitude.  You could get a somewhat longer “hang time” or a somewhat lower perigee over a specific target once a day with that inclination.

Do we need a better determined orbit to see what the apogee and perigee are over?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: OneSpeed on 11/04/2017 05:30 AM
63.588 deg inclination if this one is correct.  Unexpected, but an interesting inclination - not far from Molniya orbit inclinations (63.4 deg), though obviously those satellites are in 12 hour orbits versus OTV-5's likely 1.5 hour orbit.

 - Ed Kyle

If it is correct, it's over the Himalayas right now.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: meberbs on 11/04/2017 05:52 AM
63.588 deg inclination if this one is correct.  Unexpected, but an interesting inclination - not far from Molniya orbit inclinations (63.4 deg), though obviously those satellites are in 12 hour orbits versus OTV-5's likely 1.5 hour orbit.

 - Ed Kyle

But doesn’t any orbit at 63.4 degrees inclination have a fixed argument of perigee, where the apogee and perigee do not roll around the orbit, as it is not a function of semi-major axis (orbit altitude)? Even if the orbit is only slightly elliptical the apogee could remain over a fixed latitude.  You could get a somewhat longer “hang time” or a somewhat lower perigee over a specific target once a day with that inclination.

Do we need a better determined orbit to see what the apogee and perigee are over?
You need the orbit period to be an integer fraction of a sidereal day for that to matter (usually 12 hours) Otherwise the earth rotating underneath it means that when it reaches apogee the longitude directly underneath it will be (effectively) random. The special inclination for Molinya eliminates J2 perturbation on the argument of perigee, but this is not important if your orbit period isn't correlated to the Earth's rotation to begin with.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Star One on 11/04/2017 09:31 AM
Further to the above.

Quote
I did an attempt this evening. Unfortunately, the sky deteriorated rapidly after
sunset. Quite hazy conditions, but stars visible on the photographs and video.

Video (WATEC + 1.8/50 mm) and photo camera registered nothing around the 18:20
UT pass. I had shadow ingress predicted for 50 degrees elevation in the N-NW
near 18:21:00 UT.

If weather cooperates, new attempts tomorrow and the day after tomorrow (when I
should have a good near-zenith pass).

- Marco

http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2017/0011.html
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 11/04/2017 01:53 PM
HYDROPAC 3033/2017 (GEN) 

WESTERN SOUTH PACIFIC.
SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS SPACE DEBRIS
   071754Z TO 072226Z SEP, ALTERNATE
   081754Z TO 082226Z AUG IN AREA BOUND BY
   51-00S 077-10E, 44-44S 160-09E,
   58-59S 161-33E, 65-20S 078-27E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 082326Z SEP 17.

( 051942Z SEP 2017 )

(Map attached to quoted post)

If the orbital inclination were increased from the parking orbit inclination by the 2nd stage in a second burn, followed by release of the OTV payload, and then followed by the 3rd disposal burn of the 2nd stage into this warning area, then this could explain why the disposal area over the deep southern "Southern Ocean" did not match the expected orbital inclination derived from the Northern Atlantic Notices to Airmen/Mariners.  (I believe this was noted at the time of the warning postings.)

The disposal area warning appears to match an 63.6 deg. orbital inclination.  What do our satellite observing experts think?

How many orbits after launch would the 2nd stage re-entry have been?

How much delta-v would the 2nd stage have to expend to change orbital inclination from 43 deg. to 63.6 deg.?
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: kevin-rf on 11/05/2017 12:37 AM
Yaogan and NOSS, etc., the multisatellite SIGINT formations that orbit around 1,000 km or so circular, are around the same inclination (63.4 deg).  This orbit is used to avoid a "gradual increase in orbital eccentricity" caused by perturbations in Earth's gravity, according to Wiki.  Perhaps a strong hint at whatever test payload(s) is/are on board.

 - Ed Kyle
Instead of some prototype...

Maybe, the low orbit will give what ever is in that payload bay a good view of all these fancy satellites and space (debris) around 63 degrees.. Kinda like ORS-5, or some covert SIGNIT. Maybe the 63 degrees doesn't require the near constant surveillance that is being done with the GEO.

Just a wild guess. 
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 11/06/2017 02:30 AM
How much delta-v would the 2nd stage have to expend to change orbital inclination from 43 deg. to 63.6 deg.?

According to Ted Molczan, a lot!  See: RE: OTV 5 search elements (http://www.satobs.org/seesat/Nov-2017/0015.html)
Quote
The search orbit I posted for the 63.6 deg inclined OTV 5 suspect is too far in plane from the estimated 43 deg parking orbit of OTV 5, to have been manoeuvred there by the Falcon 9 second stage. The burn angle would have been nearly 45 deg, requiring an orbital manoeuvre with delta-V in excess of 5800 m/s.

More details follow in his post about searches using the search elements supplied on November 3.
Quote
Russell Eberst and David Hopkins report that the OTV 5 suspect was a no-show in the search TLE that I posted, which casts serious doubt on the reliability of that orbit.

And, Russell Eberst's November 2 observation was likely of another "lost" satellite:
Quote
Russell has suggested that his Nov 02 UTC sighting may have been of an old NOSS object. NOSS 1-7 (E) (86014E / 16624) appears to correlate.

However, I do note that Mr. Eberst does not call his observation of October 3 into question.

And, we still apparently have a 2nd stage that de-orbited along a final trajectory with an orbital (suborbital?) inclination substantially greater than 43 deg.

The amateur search continues, I presume!
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: aero on 11/06/2017 03:55 AM
Quote
How much delta-v would the 2nd stage have to expend to change orbital inclination from 43 deg. to 63.6 deg.?

delta-v = v * sin (alpha) , alpha is the angular change in inclination.
delta-v = v * sin(20.6 deg)
delta-v = v * 0.36, approximately.

so it depends on the slowest velocity that the second stage reached which happens at apogee.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: deruch on 11/06/2017 04:15 AM
It would be really funny if the Air Force has tasked someone to follow posts by amateur observers and then every time someone catches a glimpse of the vehicle, they perform a maneuver to change the orbit.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: Ted Molczan on 11/06/2017 12:29 PM
Quote
How much delta-v would the 2nd stage have to expend to change orbital inclination from 43 deg. to 63.6 deg.?

delta-v = v * sin (alpha) , alpha is the angular change in inclination.
delta-v = v * sin(20.6 deg)
delta-v = v * 0.36, approximately.

so it depends on the slowest velocity that the second stage reached which happens at apogee.

I agree with your numeric result, for a manoeuvre at the equator in a circular orbit. The precise formula is delta-v = 2 * v * sin (alpha/2), but for small alpha, your version is close enough. However, alpha would only be the change of inclination for a manoeuvre at the equator, where RAAN (right-ascension of the ascending node) would not change. The case in question would have required a manoeuvre at a latitude other than the equator; therefore, both inclination and RAAN would have changed.

The search orbit (now probably defunct) that I derived from Russell Eberst's observations was:

1 77203U 77203A   17306.77911249  .00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    08
2 77203  63.5883 190.6553 0001000   0.0010   0.1122 15.54162386    02

Based on NOTAMs, OTV 5 was targeted for a 43 deg inclination orbit. Assuming same altitude as the above 77203 orbit, the parking orbit at the time of launch on Sep 07 would have been as follows:

1 77202U 77202A   17250.58750000  .00000000  00000-0  00000-0 0    09
2 77202  43.0000  82.2000 0001000   0.0000  44.3000 15.54162000    05

Propagating the 77203 elements to the epoch of the 77202 elements yields RAAN near 31.3 deg. Therefore, a manoeuvre from the 77202 parking orbit to the 77203 final orbit would have required increasing the inclination from 43 deg to 63.6 deg, but also decreasing the RAAN from 82.2 deg to 31.3 deg.

The following formula is applicable to a change of both inclination and RAAN:

cos(alpha) = cos(INC1) cos(INC2) + sin(INC1) sin(INC2) cos(RAAN1 - RAAN2)

For the above case, alpha would have been about 44.7 deg, requiring delta-V of about 76% of initial velocity, or more than 5800 m/s.

The manoeuvre could only have occurred at a point of intersection between the orbits, which for the above case would have been near 42.5 deg N descending (true anomaly ~99 deg) or 42.5 S ascending (true anomaly ~279 deg). Alpha would have been the same for both.

Ted Molczan


Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: LouScheffer on 11/06/2017 01:01 PM
Quote
How much delta-v would the 2nd stage have to expend to change orbital inclination from 43 deg. to 63.6 deg.?

delta-v = v * sin (alpha) , alpha is the angular change in inclination.
delta-v = v * sin(20.6 deg)
delta-v = v * 0.36, approximately.

so it depends on the slowest velocity that the second stage reached which happens at apogee.

I agree with your numeric result, for a manoeuvre at the equator in a circular orbit. [But...]

For the above case, alpha would have been about 44.7 deg, requiring delta-V of about 76% of initial velocity, or more than 5800 m/s.
There are lots of practical problems here, but suppose the stage made a left turn right after staging.  Then the orbit change would be MUCH cheaper, particularly since Falcon stages at a low velocity.

The first stage provides something like 2600 m/s.  If it's aimed 20 degrees from where you want it, the component in the desired direction is 2600*cos(20) or about 2443 m/s.  So the second stage has only to make up 157 m/s or so, easily within its capabilities.

I think there are at least two problems with this.  First Falcon has never demonstrated such steering.  Second I think (without calculation) this would take the stage over the northeast USA and Canada, where (a) people could see it, and (b) it might be a hazard.   

But in theory they could change at any time in the ascent, not just right after staging.  The longer they wait, the more expensive it is.  But the second stage has a lot more delta-V than needed (something like 2800 m/s for GTO flights) so some compromise might be possible - wait long enough to miss the land masses, but short enough to keep the delta-V plausible.
Title: Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : X-37B OTV-5 : September 2017 : DISCUSSION
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 01/18/2018 09:01 PM
Re: amateur satellite observer's observations (or not) of the OTV-5 flight of an X-37B: A thought.

Has anyone thought of asking as many amateur astronomers as possible to participate in a "maximum effort" to find it?

(I'm sure the Air Force knows where it is, and I'm almost 100% sure that one or more of our "frenemies" is tracking OTV-5/USA-277, but if they shared their observations, "that would be telling."  But it's rare for a satellite in (assumed) LEO to go so long without confirmed observations and an orbit derived by the amateur satellite observing community.)

(See 02:18 in the YouTube clip.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygLg-7G0Xp0