Author Topic: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now  (Read 28649 times)

Offline go4mars

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First off, F1e seems even more unlikely now imo.

This thread may be too preliminary since F9 may itself be a lot different in another 5 years, but...

It seems to me that if stratolauncher can get a loaded dragon to orbit, it could probably eat some of F9's lunch.  It has the potential to make F9 prices increase (assuming the market stays the same size) since now people and places need to be devoted to supporting each separate system.  Especially if an additional commercial pad is added beyond what they already have. 

When Elon talks about pricing, he usually says something along the lines of "Assuming a minimum flight rate of X".  Well?  Does the minimum flight rate now drop to where the near/mid-term cost for each system disadvantages F9/FH (or its successor)?  Or are the markets separate enough? 

It isn't as bad as it could be; common assembly lines and common components/component overlap will surely help on the production and testing side for SpaceX, but capital costs for pads plus maintenance and related staff will go up. 

I imagine Paul Allen covers the costs on the stratolaunch "pad" side, and he can handle F9 eating some of the stratolaunch business for a while, but how much impact do you think lower flight rates will have on F9+FH pricing? 

Also, up for discussion: 
Will F9 flights cost less than a stratolaunch?   

And:
If a pad-based rocket needs to grow larger to become reusable, it can grow larger.  It needs bigger pad infrastructure and more expensive transportation methods. 

If a stratolaunch rocket needs to grow larger to become reusable, it needs a bigger carrier aircraft (perhaps a bigger hurdle?). 
 
Also:
Market factors for F9 vs stratolaunch related to tourism:
If I wanted a week in orbit with my wife, a low orbit would suffice.  A dragon launched by stratolauncher should be sufficient for that.  Beginning orbital tourism that way puts less money at risk for the financiers vs. paying to design and build a station/hotel in a higher orbit that is more expensive to get to and return from (in terms of energy and complexity).  So is stratolauncher intended to minimally impact F9 by creating its own market?  Would the increased use of dragon for tourism offset the increased costs associated with F9 infrequency?
« Last Edit: 12/15/2011 03:01 pm by go4mars »
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Online Zed_Noir

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #1 on: 12/15/2011 03:29 pm »
Something like a beef-up F1e could be hang on a multiple ejector rack to launch several light weight LEO comsat in different orbital planes on a single Stratolaunch sortie with several F1plus.

However if Paul Allen wants something like this, he will have to funded it. Don't see SpaceX developing a F1e follow-on with their current plans.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #2 on: 12/15/2011 03:51 pm »
In 5 years the plane will have just started flight testing and 10 years it may have finished testing with the rocket we have now labeled a Falcon 5.

So really, the time scale is to short to impact the Falcon 9, though it may steal engineering resources from the Falcon 9 during the period.
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Offline beb

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #3 on: 12/15/2011 03:54 pm »
Frankly I don't see Stratolauncher working. The White Knight seems too flimsy to handle a real rocket, payload intergration looks like it would be a nightmare and I don't see much advantage to launching from 30,000 versus launching a slightly larger rocket from the ground. Fuel, as jim has pointed out many times, is cheap.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #4 on: 12/15/2011 04:02 pm »
...
So really, the time scale is to short to impact the Falcon 9, though it may steal engineering resources from the Falcon 9 during the period.
Not stealing anything. SpaceX is a subcontractor, not a partner. Thus, SpaceX can hire more engineers for this project than they otherwise could because they are being paid for by this revenue stream (i.e. not an internal SpaceX project with internal funding like Falcon Heavy is).
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Offline Garrett

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #5 on: 12/15/2011 04:21 pm »
...
So really, the time scale is to short to impact the Falcon 9, though it may steal engineering resources from the Falcon 9 during the period.
Not stealing anything. SpaceX is a subcontractor, not a partner. Thus, SpaceX can hire more engineers for this project than they otherwise could because they are being paid for by this revenue stream (i.e. not an internal SpaceX project with internal funding like Falcon Heavy is).
agree with Robotbeat here. I've seen several people make the comment that Stratolaunch will put a strain on SpaceX resources. I can't see how people come up with that opinion. You might as well be saying that companies in general should refuse extra customers. Where's the logic in that?
Also, I doubt SpaceX will be deeply involved in this until the initial studies and tests have been done on the carrier aircraft, which probably won't be anywhere near completion for another 4 years. If I were to speculate further, that'll probably transition nicely with engineering resources being freed up at the end of the Falcon Heavy development cycle.
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Offline catiare

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #6 on: 12/16/2011 09:34 pm »
A few years ago I saw a concept similar to this one by tSpace. One of the benefits compared to taking off from the ground was that the capsule did not required escape rockets as it was already airborne which reduces mass requirements and does not require any launch pad with associated infrastructure.

I guess SpaceX could work on the rocket that goes under the Stratolaunch as well as all the logistics after that.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #7 on: 12/16/2011 09:46 pm »
...
So really, the time scale is to short to impact the Falcon 9, though it may steal engineering resources from the Falcon 9 during the period.
Not stealing anything. SpaceX is a subcontractor, not a partner. Thus, SpaceX can hire more engineers for this project than they otherwise could because they are being paid for by this revenue stream (i.e. not an internal SpaceX project with internal funding like Falcon Heavy is).
agree with Robotbeat here. I've seen several people make the comment that Stratolaunch will put a strain on SpaceX resources. I can't see how people come up with that opinion. You might as well be saying that companies in general should refuse extra customers. Where's the logic in that?
Also, I doubt SpaceX will be deeply involved in this until the initial studies and tests have been done on the carrier aircraft, which probably won't be anywhere near completion for another 4 years. If I were to speculate further, that'll probably transition nicely with engineering resources being freed up at the end of the Falcon Heavy development cycle.
Put me down as agreeing as well. I think SpaceX will focus on their resources on their main core business. Though they are wise as to not miss any opportunity that comes up such as Stratolaunch. This is going to be a huge aircraft project for Rutan  and Allen, no pun intended…
« Last Edit: 12/17/2011 11:49 am by Rocket Science »
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Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #8 on: 12/16/2011 09:50 pm »
A few years ago I saw a concept similar to this one by tSpace. One of the benefits compared to taking off from the ground was that the capsule did not required escape rockets as it was already airborne which reduces mass requirements and does not require any launch pad with associated infrastructure.

I guess SpaceX could work on the rocket that goes under the Stratolaunch as well as all the logistics after that.
The CXV capsule engines were to do an escape burn if needed. I never found out though what the expected thrust was of thoughs engines.

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #9 on: 12/17/2011 12:24 am »
A few years ago I saw a concept similar to this one by tSpace. One of the benefits compared to taking off from the ground was that the capsule did not required escape rockets as it was already airborne which reduces mass requirements and does not require any launch pad with associated infrastructure.

I guess SpaceX could work on the rocket that goes under the Stratolaunch as well as all the logistics after that.
The CXV capsule engines were to do an escape burn if needed. I never found out though what the expected thrust was of thoughs engines.

The "original" CXV of 2004/5 time frame did use six abort engines, and as I recall, I sized them for about 3Gs.  That would make them about 5K lbf each.  Frankly, the principal reason for using a LAS at all was to dump the RCS/OMS propellant as quickly as possible in order to land light and without flammables on-board. 

As we developed the proposal for COTS 1.0, we concluded that it wasn't necessary to have a rocket-powered LAS.  There were essentially no credible combination of failures that would result in detonation (vs. deflagration) when in flight, so there was no overpressure threat, only a thermal one, which was mitigated by the spacecraft TPS.  We ended up proposing separating the spacecraft (which was much smaller than the "original" CXV) using pneumatic pushers.  Then we simply jettisoned the service module that contained the propellant tanks.

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #10 on: 12/17/2011 10:06 am »
So... if air-launch negates the need for a LAS, that makes Dragon presumably non-optimal, as it is dragging along a LAS for soft-landing (eventually).
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Offline ChefPat

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #11 on: 12/17/2011 11:38 am »
So... if air-launch negates the need for a LAS, that makes Dragon presumably non-optimal, as it is dragging along a LAS for soft-landing (eventually).
Why would you not need the landing capability if you were air launched?
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #12 on: 12/17/2011 12:28 pm »
So... if air-launch negates the need for a LAS, that makes Dragon presumably non-optimal, as it is dragging along a LAS for soft-landing (eventually).
In a crewed air launch we would still need an EDS and an escape system. If you are really going to have "a bad day", then we will need it for the carrier aircraft crew as well. This is another one of the complexities with this system, LOV and possible LOC for two systems. Those are a couple of reasons that I don't think this is the "best" approach. Heck, for once I agree with Griffin... Scary :o
« Last Edit: 12/17/2011 12:36 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline krytek

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #13 on: 12/17/2011 02:18 pm »
So... if air-launch negates the need for a LAS, that makes Dragon presumably non-optimal, as it is dragging along a LAS for soft-landing (eventually).
In a crewed air launch we would still need an EDS and an escape system. If you are really going to have "a bad day", then we will need it for the carrier aircraft crew as well. This is another one of the complexities with this system, LOV and possible LOC for two systems. Those are a couple of reasons that I don't think this is the "best" approach. Heck, for once I agree with Griffin... Scary :o

Any guess as to  how far away from the mothership the rocket is supposed to ignite? I'm thinking if it's far enough there shouldn't be a problem.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #14 on: 12/17/2011 02:27 pm »
So... if air-launch negates the need for a LAS, that makes Dragon presumably non-optimal, as it is dragging along a LAS for soft-landing (eventually).
In a crewed air launch we would still need an EDS and an escape system. If you are really going to have "a bad day", then we will need it for the carrier aircraft crew as well. This is another one of the complexities with this system, LOV and possible LOC for two systems. Those are a couple of reasons that I don't think this is the "best" approach. Heck, for once I agree with Griffin... Scary :o

Any guess as to  how far away from the mothership the rocket is supposed to ignite? I'm thinking if it's far enough there shouldn't be a problem.
If you look at the video, it is almost within seconds of launch. My worst case senarion is while still mated, now that would be a bad day...
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Offline Lee Jay

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #15 on: 12/17/2011 03:06 pm »
Just as a reminder, here is a Pegasus XL launch.


Offline go4mars

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #16 on: 12/17/2011 04:16 pm »
As we developed the proposal for COTS 1.0, we concluded that it wasn't necessary to have a rocket-powered LAS.  There were essentially no credible combination of failures that would result in detonation (vs. deflagration) when in flight, so there was no overpressure threat, only a thermal one, which was mitigated by the spacecraft TPS.  We ended up proposing separating the spacecraft (which was much smaller than the "original" CXV) using pneumatic pushers.  Then we simply jettisoned the service module that contained the propellant tanks.
Fascinating!  So the main reason that non-propulsive landing guys use rocket-powered LAS is to empty RCS tanks quickly?   

Just making sure I read that right.  I have long held a different assumption based on the solid-fuel tractor-towers of yesteryear.

Frankly, the principal reason for using a LAS at all was to dump the RCS/OMS propellant as quickly as possible in order to land light and without flammables on-board. 
« Last Edit: 12/17/2011 04:21 pm by go4mars »
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Offline go4mars

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #17 on: 12/17/2011 04:24 pm »
If you are really going to have "a bad day", then we will need it for the carrier aircraft crew as well. This is another one of the complexities with this system, LOV and possible LOC for two systems.
So do think stratolaunch aircraft will have a thermally protective crew ejection system?   Might it be flown as a drone instead? 
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #18 on: 12/17/2011 04:35 pm »
If you are really going to have "a bad day", then we will need it for the carrier aircraft crew as well. This is another one of the complexities with this system, LOV and possible LOC for two systems.
So do think stratolaunch aircraft will have a thermally protective crew ejection system?   Might it be flown as a drone instead? 
We can only comment on what was presented which shows a crewed carrier aircraft.  If is to be then ethically they need to be protected with means of escape in some form. Airborne carrier sled concepts from years ago were unmanned. It could be remote piloted or programmed with waypoints as a drone as well. We need to minimize risk to crew as much as possible and eliminated when not needed at all. Do we risk a crew to launch a satellite or cargo? With Shuttle the goal was to separate crew and cargo/payload.
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« Last Edit: 12/17/2011 04:53 pm by Rocket Science »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: Impact of Stratolaunch on F9 demand 5-10 years from now
« Reply #19 on: 12/17/2011 04:41 pm »
It seems to me that if stratolauncher can get a loaded dragon to orbit, it could probably eat some of F9's lunch. 

I don't see the "lunch" that would be eaten.  SpaceX has talked, for the better part of  a decade now, about its big backlog, but it has only successfully launched two missions with paying customer payloads in all that time.  It has launched nothing at all for more than a year.  Meanwhile, many of the payloads listed on its early backlogs have disappeared or been launched by others. 

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