Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future  (Read 10911 times)

Online Chris Bergin

SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« on: 02/05/2012 03:11 am »
Wasn't enough for a standalone article, so added it in the middle of this SLS article (it was a good match due to the angle on secondary payloads):

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/02/sls-dod-market-secondary-payloads-potential/

There's a quote sent to us from SpaceX (who are being very helpful) included.

Offline tigerade

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #1 on: 02/05/2012 03:33 am »
Quote
When SpaceX were asked if there was still a future role for Falcon 1/1e following this switch, the company’s communications director Kirstin Brost Grantham told NASASpaceflight.com: “Current plans are for small payloads to be served by flights on the Falcon 9, utilizing excess capacity. This is a very cost effective solution for small satellite launch needs.”

It's a good quote, and what it tells me is there isn't much of a future for Falcon 1e.  If SpaceX can launch small satellites just fine as secondary payloads on the F9, then there isn't much need for the F1e.  I don't think F1e will be flat-out canceled but I think it's in the abyss of "indefinitely postponed".

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #2 on: 02/05/2012 03:36 am »
The article is good, as usual, but why the thread when the "SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future" is no future?

Are we going to start with the Monty Python dead parrot skit again?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online Chris Bergin

Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #3 on: 02/05/2012 03:42 am »
The quote is related to its future (or lack thereof). I'm not going to make such a definitive statement on a thread title when the quote starts with "currently".
« Last Edit: 02/05/2012 03:43 am by Chris Bergin »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #4 on: 02/05/2012 04:02 am »
To be viable launching small satellites as secondary payloads on Falcon 9s require NASA to permit CRS missions to carry secondary payloads.  The ban on using Shuttle for satellite launches and problems getting permission for COTS-2/3 to carry a secondary payload make me very suspicious that permission will be granted.

I suspect that SpaceX will either have to launch small satellites on dedicated Falcon 9 and/or use Falcon 1/1e launch vehicles.  Even if this is not their current plan.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #5 on: 02/05/2012 12:13 pm »
I suspect that SpaceX will either have to launch small satellites on dedicated Falcon 9 and/or use Falcon 1/1e launch vehicles.  Even if this is not their current plan.

Or decide the market segment is not worth enough to go after and cede the market to Orbital, Vega, and Dnepr.
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Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #6 on: 02/05/2012 01:07 pm »
The ban on using Shuttle for satellite launches and problems getting permission for COTS-2/3 to carry a secondary payload make me very suspicious that permission will be granted.


those are totally unrelated subjects and shuttle has nothing to do with this topic.

Offline Blackjax

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #7 on: 02/05/2012 02:37 pm »
To be viable launching small satellites as secondary payloads on Falcon 9s require NASA to permit CRS missions to carry secondary payloads. 

I am not seeing what you base this on.  A quick perusal of their manifest shows something like 18-20 non NASA flights of the Falcon 9 in just the next 5 years.  Regardless of whether NASA permits it there would seem to be quite a few secondary payload opportunities available.  Further, their goal has always been to push volume operation of standard hardware so if they were to need additional launches I'd expect them to jump on the opportunity to boost the flight rate of the rocket they are already flying and start bundling smaller payloads on additional Falcon 9 launches. 

That being said NASA approval would certainly help.  I'd note that the difficulty getting NASA to agree might be partly related to it being a largely unproven system that is still in testing phases.  Once it is through all that and has some operational history under its belt NASA might be a little less white knuckle about adding complexity.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #8 on: 02/05/2012 02:44 pm »
The ban on using Shuttle for satellite launches and problems getting permission for COTS-2/3 to carry a secondary payload make me very suspicious that permission will be granted.


those are totally unrelated subjects and shuttle has nothing to do with this topic.

The Falcon 9 is the proposed replacement for the Falcon 1.  NASA banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches would force SpaceX to find an alternative low cost means of launching the payloads.  An obvious method is to use Falcon 1/1e.  Consequently the Shuttle is having a side effect on the management of the Falcon 1's future.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #9 on: 02/05/2012 03:07 pm »

I am not seeing what you base this on.  A quick perusal of their manifest shows something like 18-20 non NASA flights of the Falcon 9 in just the next 5 years.{snip}

The number of available launches can depend on whether ORBCOMM and Iridium are friends or rivals.

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #10 on: 02/05/2012 03:13 pm »
Wasn't enough for a standalone article, so added it in the middle of this SLS article (it was a good match due to the angle on secondary payloads):

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/02/sls-dod-market-secondary-payloads-potential/

There's a quote sent to us from SpaceX (who are being very helpful) included.


I suppose then the answer is that they don't see a future role at this time, but they are keeping the F1/F1E in reserve in case they cannot launch secondary payloads on CRS missions, and decide they don't want to add them to dedicated F9 missions.


So we could still see them (f1/f1e) fly although its unlikely.
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Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #11 on: 02/05/2012 03:52 pm »
  NASA banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches would force SpaceX to find an alternative low cost means of launching the payloads.  An obvious method is to use Falcon 1/1e.  Consequently the Shuttle is having a side effect on the management of the Falcon 1's future.

Wrong.  Again you come to the wrong conclusion.  There is nothing (a policy, a statement,  etc) that states NASA is banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches.  Especially since  secondary payloads (even deployable) were added to shuttle missions all the time (see Starshine, Pansat, Mightysat, simplesat,etc)

Once again, you don't know what you are talking about.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #12 on: 02/05/2012 03:56 pm »
I don't know why SpaceX would want to continue this program. 

Falcon 1 flew from 2006 to 2009.  It failed three times in five attempts and managed to orbit only one small satellite that later failed to function properly in orbit.   Falcon 1 recorded  one of the all-time worst orbital launch vehicle performance records.  Only India's GSLV rivals its futility among modern rockets that have flown more than twice.  Consider that Iran's Safir has succeeded three times in four attempts.

 - Ed Kyle 


Offline dcporter

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #13 on: 02/05/2012 04:08 pm »
Falcon 1 recorded  one of the all-time worst orbital launch vehicle performance records.

My impression was that they had gotten their act together by the end, and that they canceled it for economic reasons. Its legacy of solid engineering can be seen (as I understand it) in the F9 which is 2/2 so far.

I'll draw a line in the sand to allow proper refutation: I think that future F1 flights would have shown an admirable success rate.

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #14 on: 02/06/2012 03:33 am »
I don't know why SpaceX would want to continue this program. 

Falcon 1 flew from 2006 to 2009.  It failed three times in five attempts and managed to orbit only one small satellite that later failed to function properly in orbit.   Falcon 1 recorded  one of the all-time worst orbital launch vehicle performance records. 

 - Ed Kyle 

Those are the facts, but that is a particularly harsh and skewed way of viewing them.  They went the "build a little, fly a little" route, even if they had full-up rockets.  The second and third failures had rather simple fixes, as witnessed by the quick turn-around for the fourth flight.  The fifth flight went fine, and the payload performance is irrelevant.

I go with what kevin-rf said.  They tried "build it and they will come" but we were all too slow.  (I would try again to propose with the F1e if I could.)  Resources seem to be better applied elsewhere, particularly on their $1.6B CRS sale.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2012 03:40 am by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #15 on: 02/06/2012 04:14 am »
I go with what kevin-rf said.  They tried "build it and they will come" but we were all too slow.  (I would try again to propose with the F1e if I could.)  Resources seem to be better applied elsewhere, particularly on their $1.6B CRS sale.

If co-manifesting is cheaper than a dedicated Falcon 1e, which seems to be the case, then really there are only two possible clients for Falcon 1e.

-Responsive Space Launch

-Low mass payloads that need dedicated launcher for one reason or another.

My uninformed guess is SpaceX will keep it in the catalog, when anyone asks for it they will try to sell them on F9 co-manifest because of the higher profit.  If someone is willing to order enough F1e to make it worthwhile to start the line again they put a F1 pad in California, Florida or both.
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Offline go4mars

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #16 on: 02/08/2012 01:24 pm »
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Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #17 on: 02/14/2012 10:06 pm »
There is also the possibility of flying the 4 engine Stratolauncher from the ground. It might not make economic sense, or Paul Allen may hold the rights to it.

Given that the Russian Dnepr isn't that much more costly than Falcon 1, and it has 4 times the capacity, and it can't get many customers, perhaps the market just isn't that big.

« Last Edit: 02/14/2012 10:07 pm by Danderman »

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #18 on: 02/14/2012 11:06 pm »
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/rockets/elon-musk-on-spacexs-reusable-rocket-plans-6653023?src=rss

This article implies that Falcon 1/1e will not be developed. 

Enough with the implications.  SpaceX has STATED that the F1e will not be developed in the forseable future.  And they can forsee all the way out to 20 or so launches.  :-)
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Danderman

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #19 on: 03/16/2012 05:50 pm »
Perhaps some other company could obtain the rights to launch Falcon 1 vehicles, under license to SpaceX. Maybe SpaceX is too busy to market Falcon 1, but another company could.

Or someone could put together a company to launch Falcon 1.

Offline Blackjax

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #20 on: 03/16/2012 07:23 pm »
Perhaps some other company could obtain the rights to launch Falcon 1 vehicles, under license to SpaceX. Maybe SpaceX is too busy to market Falcon 1, but another company could.

Or someone could put together a company to launch Falcon 1.

I doubt the reason they don't offer it is that they are 'too busy to market it'.  A better explanation is: why would they want to when it will face steep price competition from the rest of the SpaceX launchers? 

That being said, not every prospective client cares about cost, but in those cases clients will probably largely shop based on reliability, and will prefer launchers/providers with extensive flight histories (which the Falcon 1 does not have).

It just isn't competitive compared to other existing and near term options so why bother trying to rationalize still using it?  It served its purpose as a testbed to prove out their technologies, time to move on.

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #21 on: 03/16/2012 08:37 pm »
Perhaps some other company could obtain the rights to launch Falcon 1 vehicles, under license to SpaceX. Maybe SpaceX is too busy to market Falcon 1, but another company could.

Or someone could put together a company to launch Falcon 1.

I doubt the reason they don't offer it is that they are 'too busy to market it'.  A better explanation is: why would they want to when it will face steep price competition from the rest of the SpaceX launchers? 

That being said, not every prospective client cares about cost, but in those cases clients will probably largely shop based on reliability, and will prefer launchers/providers with extensive flight histories (which the Falcon 1 does not have).

It just isn't competitive compared to other existing and near term options so why bother trying to rationalize still using it?  It served its purpose as a testbed to prove out their technologies, time to move on.

Better answers have been provided before.  SpaceX would need to do a total redesign to use the new Merlin-1d engines.  No significant market has emerged.  It was expensive to maintain and hard to use the Kwajalein launch facility, and they can't launch out of KSC or VAFB without more expensive rework like adding an FTS.   Weight these reasons as you will and add your own. 

I was told that SpaceX would reconsider the F1e if there was a firm need and, I assume, available resources.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #22 on: 03/18/2012 11:15 am »
If the satellite is being launched as a secondary payload then the Falcon 9 will have to go in the right direction.  The Cape Canaveral launches are presumably for equatorial orbits.  Most Vandenberg launches are likely to be polar orbits but they seem to be mostly for Iridium.

Cubesats going into polar orbits are going to have to search for a launch vehicle.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #23 on: 03/18/2012 11:26 am »
  NASA banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches would force SpaceX to find an alternative low cost means of launching the payloads.  An obvious method is to use Falcon 1/1e.  Consequently the Shuttle is having a side effect on the management of the Falcon 1's future.

Wrong.  Again you come to the wrong conclusion.  There is nothing (a policy, a statement,  etc) that states NASA is banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches.  Especially since  secondary payloads (even deployable) were added to shuttle missions all the time (see Starshine, Pansat, Mightysat, simplesat,etc)

Once again, you don't know what you are talking about.

That all depends on how seriously NASA took Retired Adm. Hal Gehman's comments to a House committee about the Columbia Accident, "Separate the cargo from the people as soon as possible."
http://articles.cnn.com/2003-09-04/tech/sprj.colu.house.hearing_1_orbital-space-plane-shuttle-flights-top-shuttle-managers?_s=PM:TECH

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 1/1e future
« Reply #24 on: 03/18/2012 11:41 am »
  NASA banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches would force SpaceX to find an alternative low cost means of launching the payloads.  An obvious method is to use Falcon 1/1e.  Consequently the Shuttle is having a side effect on the management of the Falcon 1's future.

Wrong.  Again you come to the wrong conclusion.  There is nothing (a policy, a statement,  etc) that states NASA is banning SpaceX from adding secondary payloads to manned launches.  Especially since  secondary payloads (even deployable) were added to shuttle missions all the time (see Starshine, Pansat, Mightysat, simplesat,etc)

Once again, you don't know what you are talking about.

That all depends on how seriously NASA took Retired Adm. Hal Gehman's comments to a House committee about the Columbia Accident, "Separate the cargo from the people as soon as possible."
http://articles.cnn.com/2003-09-04/tech/sprj.colu.house.hearing_1_orbital-space-plane-shuttle-flights-top-shuttle-managers?_s=PM:TECH

Those payloads flew on the shuttle after Gehman said that and what he said is OBE.  Gehman was referring to primary payloads.  My initial statement stands.
« Last Edit: 03/18/2012 11:42 am by Jim »

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