Author Topic: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin  (Read 157522 times)

Offline go4mars

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #40 on: 12/03/2010 02:56 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. 

Especially true if he can build reusability into such a large system.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 03:02 pm by go4mars »
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Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #41 on: 12/03/2010 02:59 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.

That's why I said collateral.  He could use the money instead to give free toe-nail polish to everyone on earth.  The bank wouldn't care.  It doesn't matter since the bank could take his other assets (TESLA) and sell them (of course at a discount).  If he could make the interest payments then they wouldn't care.  If he can't make his payments, then they would take his collateral.  It's not like car loans are for appreciating assets. 

« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 03:03 pm by go4mars »
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Offline Nate_Trost

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #42 on: 12/03/2010 03:16 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.

That's why I said collateral.  He could use the money instead to give free toe-nail polish to everyone on earth.  The bank wouldn't care.  It doesn't matter since the bank could take his other assets (TESLA) and sell them (of course at a discount).  If he could make the interest payments then they wouldn't care.  If he can't make his payments, then they would take his collateral.  It's not like car loans are for appreciating assets. 



Wrong, the bank will evaluate the business plan for the money and also the quality of the collateral. Tesla stock is not good collateral, there is no guarantee it won't nosedive and is likely currently overvalued. Stock as collateral on loans has strict obligations on status and pricing.

Offline go4mars

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #43 on: 12/03/2010 03:19 pm »
Wrong, the bank will evaluate the business plan for the money and also the quality of the collateral. Tesla stock is not good collateral, there is no guarantee it won't nosedive and is likely currently overvalued. Stock as collateral on loans has strict obligations on status and pricing.

I'm not saying the would lend $1 to $1 against it. 
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 03:20 pm by go4mars »
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Offline zaitcev

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #44 on: 12/03/2010 03:24 pm »
...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.
Don't kid yourself. What he is essentially doing here is aiming to replace traditional engineering contractors, by letting Marshall to rule the development and Michoud to build the thing. Thus incentices remain the same. Before, we were promised a change in cost per kg. Now we are not getting any [1]. Instead, Elon is promising savings in the cost of the program to the government, which is not the same. The end result of these plans is going to be SpaceX elbowing out Boeings and positioning themselves at the gravy trough, but not any development of sustainable infrastructure in space or any general spacefaring capabilities.

---
[1] Or a gradual reduction along the historic trends that ULA was delivering without SpaceX anyway.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 03:25 pm by zaitcev »

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #45 on: 12/03/2010 03:35 pm »
What he is essentially doing here is aiming to replace traditional engineering contractors, by letting Marshall to rule the development and Michoud to build the thing.

Michoud is not an organization, it is a facility.  It was a place where LM was building ET's.  It is the place were Boeing was to build the Ares I upperstage.  It is the place where LM is building Orion structures. Michoud was were LM proposed building Atlas V phase II wide body boosters.

Offline butters

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #46 on: 12/03/2010 03:36 pm »
What he is essentially doing here is aiming to replace traditional engineering contractors, by letting Marshall to rule the development and Michoud to build the thing. Thus incentices remain the same. Before, we were promised a change in cost per kg. Now we are not getting any [1]. Instead, Elon is promising savings in the cost of the program to the government, which is not the same. The end result of these plans is going to be SpaceX elbowing out Boeings and positioning themselves at the gravy trough, but not any development of sustainable infrastructure in space or any general spacefaring capabilities.

I disagree. I think it's just "the art of the possible" with respect to the government space program. NASA isn't going to let SpaceX take charge of SHLV development and provide it as a commercial service. SpaceX would like to exist in a world where that is possible, but it isn't.

So positioning themselves at the gravy trough for pieces of the propulsion architecture is the best they can do. That's the way NASA wants to operate for super-heavy lift, and SpaceX has no choice in the matter. NASA is the customer, and the customer is always right.

SpaceX can operate as a commercial service in the commercial satellite market and perhaps in the commercial crew market. That's where their clean-sheet, vertically-integrated approach can pay dividends in $/kg.

Offline b ramsey

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #47 on: 12/03/2010 04:04 pm »
Here is a link to the Falcon X & Falcon X heavy and Merlin 2 pdf

Offline go4mars

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #48 on: 12/03/2010 05:17 pm »
3.5 million pound thrust engine!  I'd like to see that!
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #49 on: 12/03/2010 05:30 pm »
Elon isn’t going to get money for a hydrogen upper stage for F9...

Given that the Raptor will open up GTO and BEO destinations for heavier F9-launched spacecraft, I suspect that (so long as SpaceX get some momentum going) they should be able to get private funding for the development.  It is a fairly straight-line product development.
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Offline simonbp

Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #50 on: 12/03/2010 08:14 pm »
So, here's my parsing of Musk's comments:

First, he appears to describe a 20-ft diameter core stage with 2x Merlin 2, 3x standard (12-ft) Falcon 9 first stages as boosters with 1x Merlin 2, and an unknown upper stage.

Next, he scales that up by replacing the F-9 boosters with two more 20-ft stages, cross-fed to the core. This vehicle would have a GLOW of 10 Mlb, and appears similar to the Falcon X Heavy design previously shown.

Also note that he (separately) suggests a scaled-down version of Merlin 2 to replace RD-180...
« Last Edit: 12/03/2010 08:14 pm by simonbp »

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Offline alexw

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Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #52 on: 12/03/2010 09:11 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.
    Anything for which the low-end cost estimate is $11.5 billion to bring into operation is not something that we "pretty much already have".

   Falcon X single-stick would not be cheap, yes, but there's no reason to think it's $10-billion-dollar expensive. 6m tooling, transportation infrastructure to Florida, pad mods, the minimal competencies of building and flying a large kerolox rocket demonstrated.  Merlin 2 is harder to predict -- we've heard the $1 billion-to-develop figures, and that certainly could have technical showstoppers -- but a few other Mlbf-class kerolox engines have already had a long flight history.

    Conceptually, this is not difficult. ULA's been offering to do it for the better part of a decade, with similar cost estimates. Yes, it's counter-intuitive, shuttle flies already, but the numbers speak volumes.
         -Alex

Offline friendly3

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #53 on: 12/04/2010 02:35 am »
I just hope Elon's potential success about this project won't be tied to "Obama’s likely second term"...

Offline MP99

Re: Aviation Week: SpaceX & HLV
« Reply #54 on: 12/04/2010 07:58 am »
transportation infrastructure to Florida


Quote
“the only logical place” for final vehicle assembly remains Kennedy Space Center. “When you build a vehicle that big, it minimizes logistics; you can re-use the space shuttle pads and conceivably even make the tanks at Michoud

cheers, Martin

Offline brihath

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #55 on: 12/04/2010 10:49 am »
I read the article in my AW&ST mag last night.

I wonder how much research Elon Musk has done into market needs for heavy lift.  Since there have been discussions in other sections of this forum, particularly SLS regarding the lack of a sustainable demand for large payloads, I wonder if he has had access to different information that takes him down this path.  Given his business acumen, I doubt he would expend much time and money on studies and designs that have no market.

Thoughts on this, anyone?

Offline pathfinder_01

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #56 on: 12/04/2010 12:28 pm »
I read the article in my AW&ST mag last night.

I wonder how much research Elon Musk has done into market needs for heavy lift.  Since there have been discussions in other sections of this forum, particularly SLS regarding the lack of a sustainable demand for large payloads, I wonder if he has had access to different information that takes him down this path.  Given his business acumen, I doubt he would expend much time and money on studies and designs that have no market.

Thoughts on this, anyone?


He isn't building the HLV. He is just supplying parts (Engines maybe boosters) for it. A NASA contractor would be assembling the rocket. If there were demand for a commercial HLV of this size he would build it himself rather than go through NASA. He does have plans of his own HLV but they are more of PowerPoint than of hardware. (And could likely stay that way if space-x goes public or if the investors get a greater say).

A good example would be there isn't much demand for extra large cargo planes(guppy) compared to regular cargo planes. However a company that makes airplane parts would be foolish not to find ways to integrate as many parts used for other planes into the guppy so that it can sell them.

The Merlin 2 he mentioned would be used for more than just SLS. If SLS and Falcon both use the same engine then economies of scale can kick in such that SLS costs less than it would if it used an engine that no one else used and his falcon 9 likewise benefits.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2010 12:59 pm by pathfinder_01 »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #57 on: 12/04/2010 01:58 pm »
If it comes down to a straight race to build a 1Mlbf+ kerolox engine, it would be interesting to see how SpaceX does against the established might of PWR.

Apart from SpaceX's Merlin-2 and PWR's RS-84 what other competitors for the contract might there be? Has Aerojet got anything of comparable capability? Might a license-built Russian design be considered?
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Offline baldusi

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #58 on: 12/04/2010 02:04 pm »
I know the ISS is already built, but I heard a number of a 100B project. I'm assuming that 20B where supply flights. I'm wondering, if having a cheap HLV wouldn't allow to trade manufacturing cost to launch cost. If the 300M per 150tn that Musk proposes is achievable, you'd have a $2,000/kg. At that price it might be better to use heavier but cheaper materials to build the station and satellites and pay a higher launch cost. For a space station it would save a lot in design costs (I think some ISS designer was quoted saying he wouldn't ever design a space with a 20tn launch limitation).
This might also apply to the Falcon X proposal. If they can get a 100M launch of 38tn, the increase in tonnage might not be from bigger satellites but from cheaper satellites. The insurance cost of a communication satellite alone can be 38M. If you can use cheaper and safer design, but heavier, it might be reasonable to do that trade off.

Offline AlexCam

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Re: NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin
« Reply #59 on: 12/04/2010 04:55 pm »
I know the ISS is already built, but I heard a number of a 100B project. I'm assuming that 20B where supply flights.

The 100 billion number is very subjective. It was an estimate by one source of the project over the entire lifetime. Depending on which costs you want to include, it can be more or less for it. When you take the Shuttle fixed costs into account, flights to the station (assembly and supply) by the Shuttle alone are much higher than 20 billion. If you only take Progress, ATV, HTV up to now, the number is much smaller than 20 billion.

Quote
I'm wondering, if having a cheap HLV wouldn't allow to trade manufacturing cost to launch cost. If the 300M per 150tn that Musk proposes is achievable, you'd have a $2,000/kg. At that price it might be better to use heavier but cheaper materials to build the station and satellites and pay a higher launch cost. For a space station it would save a lot in design costs (I think some ISS designer was quoted saying he wouldn't ever design a space with a 20tn launch limitation).
This might also apply to the Falcon X proposal. If they can get a 100M launch of 38tn, the increase in tonnage might not be from bigger satellites but from cheaper satellites. The insurance cost of a communication satellite alone can be 38M. If you can use cheaper and safer design, but heavier, it might be reasonable to do that trade off.

Launch costs are normally a fraction of the total costs of a space related project. If we factor out the Shuttle fixed costs (this is a unique situation), this also applies to the ISS and likely will apply to all other programs in the future.

A 150mt space station model which is procured, developed and built as part of a government program will likely cost several billion dollars.

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