Author Topic: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin  (Read 157541 times)

Offline butters

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #20 on: 12/03/2010 12:35 pm »
I agree with Jim and others that the Falcon X architecture is too heavy, but my point is that the concept works with regard to the performance ratio of the FX to FXH.

If they'd scale it down a notch, either by going from 3 engines per core to 2 or by going with a somewhat smaller Merlin 2, then they can hit the HLV class around 25mT, and the SHLV serves the 80-85mT range for HSF. If they tailor the design to the 100mT requirement in the authorization bill, then the single-core would be around 30mT.

Are there a lot of non-HSF payloads in the 25-30mT class? Not really. But there are some, and anything that allows an SDLV architecture to have some relevance outside of HSF helps justify the economics.

Offline alexw

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #21 on: 12/03/2010 12:51 pm »
Quote
“We’re leaning at around 1.7 million lb. thrust, although at one point we looked at what if we went to 3.5 million lb. thrust. ... <snip> ... With the baseline Merlin, which is throttle-able to 60%, SpaceX believes a version that could throttle down to around 1 million lb. (I would assume Elon means throttle 3.5 million lb. engine to 1 million lb.) could potentially equip vehicles such as the Atlas V as well as replace engines on Falcon 9.
So we now have two possible sizes for the Merlin 2, and the fact that he's willing to sell engines to other launch providers.
   SpaceX's (in)famous vehicle conference slides showed versions of Merlin 2 at both 1.2 and 1.7Mlbf (SL), the higher-thrust intended for Falcon XX.

   "Selling it to others", while not explicit, seemed possible, because there seems to be evidence that the original NASA FY2011 plan was to fund big-kerolox engine development and use that to lead to some form of heavier-lift -- for which the obvious candidates (five years down the road) would be Phase II and Falcon X.  ULA has already said that the Phase II core could start with duel-RD180 and transition to a new engine.
 
    In fact, it would seem that SpaceX would benefit strongly from selling some form of or jointly-developing "Merlin 2". NASA needs it. ULA can use it, but can't justify developing it. SpaceX may need it, but probably can't justify developing it on their own. Sharing with ULA or PWR seems out-of-character for SpaceX, but Elon is clearly very worried that if NASA gets bogged down in an SDHLV program, it will set back everyone's aspirations. Quite possibly SpaceX, PWR, ULA, and even Orbital/Aerojet (domestic NK-33 interests) would all do well in a world where NASA was a regular customer for moderately-heavier lift. They may have decided that it's a case of let's-all-hang-together-or-we'll-hang-separately.

-Alex

Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #22 on: 12/03/2010 01:13 pm »
His guarantees ain't worth a bag of beans considering how late and more expensive both Falcon 1 and 9 were from his original estimates.

He never gave price or schedule guarantees for F1 or F9, and at the time he didn't have as much financial flexibility (divorce proceedings locked up money) or as much money in the past (Tesla market cap is now >3.3 billion) which can be leveraged for low interest loans and tossed into SpaceX if he wants to. 

If you mean a gigantic bag full of solid gold beans, then I agree with you.
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Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #23 on: 12/03/2010 01:16 pm »
IThe single-core Falcon X is listed at 38mT to LEO, which is nearly within reason for the very largest military and commercial payloads of the foreseeable future. I feel this architecture is a bit on the heavy side, but if costs are reasonable enough...

I bet the 38 mT is for the non-reusable version.  Extra weight for most launches goes toward reuse.  My guess.
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Offline Nate_Trost

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #24 on: 12/03/2010 01:22 pm »
You really can't blame Elon for trying to get the US government to pay for his Mars rocket.

Offline Jim

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #25 on: 12/03/2010 01:39 pm »
His guarantees ain't worth a bag of beans considering how late and more expensive both Falcon 1 and 9 were from his original estimates.

He never gave price or schedule guarantees for F1 or F9, and at the time he didn't have as much financial flexibility (divorce proceedings locked up money) or as much money in the past (Tesla market cap is now >3.3 billion) which can be leveraged for low interest loans and tossed into SpaceX if he wants to. 

If you mean a gigantic bag full of solid gold beans, then I agree with you.

Still doesn't mean that F9 or whatever will be profitable or better than what else is out there.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #26 on: 12/03/2010 01:47 pm »
In fact, it would seem that SpaceX would benefit strongly from selling some form of or jointly-developing "Merlin 2".

As far as I know, this is the first time in print the SpaceX has ever mentioned selling an engine. Am I wrong, or has anyone from SpaceX said that in the past?
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Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #27 on: 12/03/2010 01:52 pm »
Still doesn't mean that F9 or whatever will be profitable or better than what else is out there.

True.  But there is the ABILITY to backstop, and to make guaruntees of development and early flight prices (NOT COSTS). 
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 01:53 pm by go4mars »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #28 on: 12/03/2010 01:58 pm »
Still doesn't mean that F9 or whatever will be profitable or better than what else is out there.

True.  But there is the ABILITY to backstop, and to make guaruntees of development and early flight prices (NOT COSTS). 

What ability?  He is not going to be able to use any money from tesla

Low prices don't mean squat if they don't lead to profitability.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 01:59 pm by Jim »

Offline jongoff

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #29 on: 12/03/2010 02:04 pm »
Aviation Week article....

Quote
NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin

SpaceX will respond to NASA’s heavy-lift launch vehicle study with concepts that can carry 150 tons to orbit and cost no more than $300 million per launch.

Outlining SpaceX’s approach to the contract—one of 13 trade-study awards made by NASA in early November to look at innovative launch vehicle concepts and propulsion technologies—CEO Elon Musk says only plans that embrace economic, political and technical solutions will work.
>



I read the article last night.  While it was interesting, there were several sections that didn't parse at all, or didn't make sense.  But there were some interesting tidbits in all that.  If we have to build a mega-jumbo rocket, I'd rather see one that has a fighting chance of being affordable.  Of course, I wish more that Elon got the "depot" meme.

~Jon

Offline jongoff

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #30 on: 12/03/2010 02:09 pm »
Aviation Week article....


Based on a roughly evenly split $10 billion budget for heavy lift, with half for the boost stage and half for the upper stage, “we’re confident we could get a fully operational vehicle to the pad for $2.5 billion—and not only that, I will personally guarantee it,” Musk says. In addition, the final product would be a fully accounted cost per flight of $300 million, he asserts. “I’ll also guarantee that,” he adds, though he cautions this does not include a potential upper-stage upgrade.

His guarantees ain't worth a bag of beans considering how late and more expensive both Falcon 1 and 9 were from his original estimates.

Yeah, unlike Ares I which is flying right on time and right on the money.  Safe. Simple. Soon. and all that.  Why trust those private rocketeers who've actually completed a successful vehicle development within my lifetime, when you can trust the "professionals"...

Offline MP99

Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #31 on: 12/03/2010 02:26 pm »
Of course, I wish more that Elon got the "depot" meme.

Hmm, that seems a bigger leap for them than just scaling up what they've already achieved, ie launchers.

Edit: although they'll need Mabny of those techniques to reach Mars, regardless of whether they use depots or not.

cheers, Martin
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 02:27 pm by MP99 »

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #32 on: 12/03/2010 02:29 pm »
SLS is a technological lower risk (and probably schedule-wise as well), yes, but it is quite a stretch to write that "we have" SLS. Especially since the final configuration for SLS has not yet been decided. Nor is it a 100% certainty at this point.

If its a Jupiter configuration that is. I should have been more specific (and also a non 5 seg srb config). If its that then we do pretty much already have it, albeit you still have to build it all of the elements except the thrust structure are already in existence. F9 to BFR is a bit more of a jump, especially due to a new engine being built.
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Offline Chris-A

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #33 on: 12/03/2010 02:39 pm »
Elon isn’t going to get money for a hydrogen upper stage for F9, but he could be stirring the SLS pot.

The current politics do not favor the depot meme.

Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #34 on: 12/03/2010 02:42 pm »
What ability?  He is not going to be able to use any money from tesla

He can walk into a bank today, and say "I have a billion dollars worth of tesla stock that I want to use as collateral for a loan." 

Until SpaceX does an IPO, profitability is secondary.  For now its still a rich guys hobby (getting to Mars).  If he can have it partially subsidized by tax-payers in a win-win scenario, then there is no problem. 
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Offline go4mars

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #35 on: 12/03/2010 02:44 pm »
  Of course, I wish more that Elon got the "depot" meme.
~Jon

Depots are most effective with the best cost/kg.  $300 million for 150 tons sounds to me like he does get it. 
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 02:44 pm by go4mars »
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Offline Nate_Trost

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #36 on: 12/03/2010 02:50 pm »
He can walk into a bank today, and say "I have a billion dollars worth of tesla stock that I want to use as collateral for a loan."

Uh, no. Nobody is going to lend him a billion dollars to build a rocket with no commercial application.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #37 on: 12/03/2010 02:50 pm »
He can walk into a bank today, and say "I have a billion dollars worth of tesla stock that I want to use as collateral for a loan." 

I doubt he can do that.  The IPO produced substantial restrictions on what he can do with his Tesla stock.

Offline butters

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #38 on: 12/03/2010 02:51 pm »
As I've said before, the odds are much greater that SpaceX would be contracted to supply Merlin 2 (or similar) than to provide a complete SHLV.

SpaceX won't be taking over Michoud to build large-diameter stages. *If* SpaceX gets the engine contract, Boeing/Lockheed/ULA would get the stage contract, and MSFC would of course manage the integrated vehicle.

If SpaceX wants to build an SHLV of their own, then they will have to pay for it themselves, perhaps minus the large kerolox booster engine. NASA won't let them deliver SLS an an in-house solution.

Offline jongoff

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #39 on: 12/03/2010 02:54 pm »
Elon isn’t going to get money for a hydrogen upper stage for F9, but he could be stirring the SLS pot.

The current politics do not favor the depot meme.

It favors it enough to have gotten it approved in the law of the land as something that NASA can and should spend money demonstrating...

...but as I said, as far as I can tell, I haven't given Elon that "good ol' depot religion" yet.  At least AFAICT.  That said, just because he's trying to make sure that SpaceX has a shot at money NASA spends on HLVs doesn't necessarily mean that HLVs are the only method he's a fan of.  So who knows.  Maybe he is a closet depot supporter, but just is more savvy at playing the politics than I am.

~Jon

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