Author Topic: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)  (Read 407778 times)

Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #680 on: 03/07/2013 01:27 pm »
I would expect, myself, that the price for downmass would be higher than that for upmass. If they are equal, NASA is getting a bargain.

Just about any price for downmass must be mostly profit for SpaceX.  How much does it actually cost them extra over what their expenses are with an empty Dragon being returned?

Offhand my guess at the incremental costs for downmass are
- slightly more propellant used in maneuvering on the way home (leaving the station, reentry, etc)  ... probably pretty marginal
- labor to safe the payloads (if any such safing is needed), unpack, repack for transport, etc
- earthside transport costs not otherwise  borne by NASA

What did I miss?

Higher heat shield wear if/when cargo Dragons start to get reused. Less time between heat shield replacements.

Right, I forgot that there may be incrementally more wear per return to the PICA-X due to the higher mass of the vehicle. A lot of these are hard to quantify and some seem like fairly low cost effects, although not zero.

What else would have more wear and tear? How about the lifetime of the SuperDracos? If they have to burn longer per return, they will need to be R&Red more frequently... (I remembered the fuel, LOL, but forgot the firing time on the thrusters is a finite resource as welll)


This might be case of not seeing the forest from the trees. Of course downmass has cost, because making a vehicle returnable has cost.  That's why nobody else (ATV, HTV, Cygnus, Progress) is doing it. It is convenient for NASA that SpaceX's long term goals include crew transport, but that doesn't mean that Dragon's downmass capability comes "free".

I'm not saying it's free! But I think it's not as expensive per kg as upmass, all in all.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 01:29 pm by Lar »
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Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #681 on: 03/07/2013 01:56 pm »
NASA would be stupid not to take full advantage of the available downmass capability.

No, not at the expense of upmass.  They get paid for from the the same pot of money. 

So you are saying that SpaceX has to bring 20mT of upmass cargo on 12 flights unless some of the flights are volume limited.

No, I meant that NASA can't use up the contract limit just on downmass.  It has to work out how it is going allocate downmass and upmass against the contract limit and minimums.

Offline yg1968

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #682 on: 03/07/2013 02:10 pm »
NASA would be stupid not to take full advantage of the available downmass capability.

No, not at the expense of upmass.  They get paid for from the the same pot of money. 

So you are saying that SpaceX has to bring 20mT of upmass cargo on 12 flights unless some of the flights are volume limited.

No, I meant that NASA can't use up the contract limit just on downmass.  It has to work out how it is going allocate downmass and upmass against the contract limit and minimums.

So NASA could decide to bring less than 20mT of upmass cargo and more than 3mT of downmass and still respect the contract. Correct?

Do you think that SpaceX could end up getting the maximum amount of $3.1B because it is delivering both upmass cargo and downmass return cargo?
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 02:13 pm by yg1968 »

Offline ugordan

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #683 on: 03/07/2013 02:13 pm »
Do you think that SpaceX could end up getting the maximum amount of $3.1B because it is delivering both upmass and downmass return cargo?

I thought the $3.1B limit would be a case of NASA buying more resupply flights, not a case of buying more cargo per flight. I thought the current 12 flight prices were set in stone.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #684 on: 03/07/2013 03:01 pm »

Do you think that SpaceX could end up getting the maximum amount of $3.1B because it is delivering both upmass cargo and downmass return cargo?

No, there is still is OSC allocation of about $1.6B

Offline yg1968

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #685 on: 03/07/2013 04:35 pm »

Do you think that SpaceX could end up getting the maximum amount of $3.1B because it is delivering both upmass cargo and downmass return cargo?

No, there is still is OSC allocation of about $1.6B

Space X gets $1.6B and Orbital gets $1.9B for a total of $3.5B. But the $3.1B is the maximum amount for each contract individually (not for both companies). It's not clear from the contract if this includes amounts for additionnal flights or if it's for additional return cargo downmass, etc. (it might be both). I thought that you might know how the CRS contracts work because the contracts are not clear since they are heavily redacted.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 04:41 pm by yg1968 »

Offline rcoppola

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #686 on: 03/07/2013 04:59 pm »
Shotwell was proud to say that they would obliterate the minimum cargo expectations. This is part of the commercial paradigm shift. In both the short and long term, SpaceX wants to over-deliver and not haggle about incrementals. It's what those of us who run our own competitive private businesses do.This is how you successfully compete. 

SpaceX isn't looking to say, "Hey there's your 20, have a nice day." They want and will be a flexible, reliable, extremely cost efficient NASA service provider that goes way above and beyond. And thank heavens for them.
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Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #687 on: 03/07/2013 05:14 pm »

Space X gets $1.6B and Orbital gets $1.9B for a total of $3.5B. But the $3.1B is the maximum amount for each contract individually (not for both companies). It's not clear from the contract if this includes amounts for additionnal flights or if it's for additional return cargo downmass, etc. (it might be both). I thought that you might know how the CRS contracts work because the contracts are not clear since they are heavily redacted.

Sorry, I was getting my billions mixed up.  I believe the number of flights is the 20 already contracted and is fixed.  The difference between current and max contract amounts is for items such as power for experiments, late installation, early removal and down mass.

CRS was patterned after NLS I.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 05:16 pm by Jim »

Offline R.Simko

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #688 on: 03/07/2013 05:52 pm »

Space X gets $1.6B and Orbital gets $1.9B for a total of $3.5B. But the $3.1B is the maximum amount for each contract individually (not for both companies). It's not clear from the contract if this includes amounts for additionnal flights or if it's for additional return cargo downmass, etc. (it might be both). I thought that you might know how the CRS contracts work because the contracts are not clear since they are heavily redacted.

Sorry, I was getting my billions mixed up.  I believe the number of flights is the 20 already contracted and is fixed.  The difference between current and max contract amounts is for items such as power for experiments, late installation, early removal and down mass.

CRS was patterned after NLS I.

Thanks Jim for making how the CRS contracts work clearer to us.

Offline baldusi

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #689 on: 03/07/2013 06:03 pm »
I would expect a call-off price for services, yes. I guess I had forgotten that the CRS award was that far back, and as a competitive tender I don't recall if there were any other offers of downmass, so SpaceX would have had to guess a little on their offer. But it was apparent even then that the other international partners were providing plenty of upmass, so I would still have thought the downmass would have a premium.
Orbital (albeit, their offer was taken later), did offered to have a returnable version of Cygnus. They were told to concentrate on the disposable version. If you look at it, it might or might not have been a bad decision. They are getting one supplier with downmass capability (Dragon) and another with atmospheric disposal and plenty of pressurized module (Cygnus). Of course HTV does supply lots of pressurized, unpressurized and atmospheric disposal. But the retirement of the ATV does generates a logistical problem (on top of the Shuttle's).
On the other hand, they might have thought that they would have had an American crewed vehicle by now that could supply alternative downmass (probably Ares I + Orion, or commercial crew). I don't know also, what life horizon for the ISS they were expecting when they told that to the ISS. May be they thought they were going to deorbit it by 2017, so it was not such a hit. As of now, if we take a reasonable 2025 as a deorbit date, they might have a downmass limitation until they have commercial crew. And if Dragon is chosen, they will have a single system risk for downmass. Even if Cargo Dragon and Dragonrider are kept as separate systems, thy will share lots of systems and the same LV.

Offline R.Simko

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #690 on: 03/07/2013 06:17 pm »
I would expect a call-off price for services, yes. I guess I had forgotten that the CRS award was that far back, and as a competitive tender I don't recall if there were any other offers of downmass, so SpaceX would have had to guess a little on their offer. But it was apparent even then that the other international partners were providing plenty of upmass, so I would still have thought the downmass would have a premium.
Orbital (albeit, their offer was taken later), did offered to have a returnable version of Cygnus. They were told to concentrate on the disposable version. If you look at it, it might or might not have been a bad decision. They are getting one supplier with downmass capability (Dragon) and another with atmospheric disposal and plenty of pressurized module (Cygnus). Of course HTV does supply lots of pressurized, unpressurized and atmospheric disposal. But the retirement of the ATV does generates a logistical problem (on top of the Shuttle's).
On the other hand, they might have thought that they would have had an American crewed vehicle by now that could supply alternative downmass (probably Ares I + Orion, or commercial crew). I don't know also, what life horizon for the ISS they were expecting when they told that to the ISS. May be they thought they were going to deorbit it by 2017, so it was not such a hit. As of now, if we take a reasonable 2025 as a deorbit date, they might have a downmass limitation until they have commercial crew. And if Dragon is chosen, they will have a single system risk for downmass. Even if Cargo Dragon and Dragonrider are kept as separate systems, thy will share lots of systems and the same LV.

That's why I would love to see two commercial crew providers with no commonality, that can provide both crew and cargo delivery and return.
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 06:20 pm by R.Simko »

Offline yg1968

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #691 on: 03/07/2013 08:05 pm »

Space X gets $1.6B and Orbital gets $1.9B for a total of $3.5B. But the $3.1B is the maximum amount for each contract individually (not for both companies). It's not clear from the contract if this includes amounts for additionnal flights or if it's for additional return cargo downmass, etc. (it might be both). I thought that you might know how the CRS contracts work because the contracts are not clear since they are heavily redacted.

Sorry, I was getting my billions mixed up.  I believe the number of flights is the 20 already contracted and is fixed.  The difference between current and max contract amounts is for items such as power for experiments, late installation, early removal and down mass.

CRS was patterned after NLS I.

Thanks that's very helpful.

The only thing that I am still not sure about is if Spacex can bring 12mT upmass and 12 mT downmass during its 12 flights and say that it has fulfilled its 20mT upmass and 3mT downmass obligations because it has exceeded the required combined total of 23mT (20mT +3mT). Shotwell implied that this was the case but I still don't know for sure if that is true. 

Offline Joffan

The contract talks about fulfilling the contract value of the 20t of upmass and the 3t of downmass. These may not have the same value per ton, but the implication as I read it is that the combined value of services is what is required. So imagine for simplicity that 1t of upmass is $2m and 1t of downmass is $3m, then the transportation contract value would be $49m, and any combination of upmass and downmass that reaches that value fulfills the contract.

That doesn't mean that no more cargo is allowed after that. It just means the minimum value has been fulfilled.

(There are complications to that also, when the cargo is volume-limited, meaning that extra value will accrue to that flight to represent the "lost" mass transport potential.)
« Last Edit: 03/07/2013 09:01 pm by Joffan »
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Offline CuddlyRocket

I recall Elon being a bit miffed that SpaceX was paid less for their cargo trips than Orbital therefore doubtful that there was any intent to give NASA a 'sweet' deal.

I suspect that Elon being 'miffed' was more about giving that impression to the media so that they would be more likely to cover the story; which, after all, does underline that SpaceX is cheaper!

Offline joek

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #694 on: 03/08/2013 02:22 am »
The only thing that I am still not sure about is if Spacex can bring 12mT upmass and 12 mT downmass during its 12 flights and say that it has fulfilled its 20mT upmass and 3mT downmass obligations because it has exceeded the required combined total of 23mT (20mT +3mT). Shotwell implied that this was the case but I still don't know for sure if that is true. 

NASA may order more or less.  This is IDIQ, and nothing was "purchased" by execution of the CRS contract--that is done through individually competed and awarded task orders* (as Jim stated same model as NLS, give-or-take a bit); e.g., see (emphasis added):

Quote from: SpaceX CRS Contract, pg. 26
INDEFINITE QUANTITY (FAR 52.216-22) (OCT 1995)

(h) This is an indefinite-quantity contract for the supplies or services specified and effective for the period stated in Clause I.A.2. The quantities of supplies and services specified in the Schedule are estimates only and are not purchased by this contract.

(i) Delivery or performance shall be made only as authorized by orders issued in accordance with Clause II.A.7, FAR 52.216-18, Ordering (Oct 1995). The Contractor shall furnish to the Government, when and if ordered, the supplies or services specified in the Schedule up to and including the quantity designated in the Schedule as the "maximum." The Government shall order at least the quantity of supplies or services designated in the Schedule as the "minimum."


* edit: Dragon and Cygnus have dissimilar capabilities--they only share pressurized up-mass capability--so not all task orders will be competed...
DragonCygnus
Pressurized upyesyes
Pressurized downyesno
Pressurized disposalnoyes
Unpressurized disposalyesno
Unpressurized upyesno
Unpressurized downnono
« Last Edit: 03/08/2013 03:31 am by joek »

Offline Jason1701

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #695 on: 03/08/2013 03:55 am »
Some notes from a presentation today:
-1.1 qualification tank on structural stand in Texas will be rebuilt as next Grasshopper, with flight-like landing legs
-First 1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas late March
-After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
-Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change.

Offline mlindner

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #696 on: 03/08/2013 03:56 am »
Some notes from a presentation today:
-1.1 qualification tank on structural stand in Texas will be rebuilt as next Grasshopper, with flight-like landing legs
-First 1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas late March
-After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
-Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change.

Is there an audio or video recording of this presentation?

Offline 2552

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #697 on: 03/08/2013 04:03 am »
Some notes from a presentation today:
-1.1 qualification tank on structural stand in Texas will be rebuilt as next Grasshopper, with flight-like landing legs
-First 1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas late March
-After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
-Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change.

Anything on the status of the second or third 1.1s, or how the 1.1 production rate is shaping up generally?
« Last Edit: 03/08/2013 04:06 am by 2552 »

Offline Jason1701

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #698 on: 03/08/2013 04:04 am »
Some notes from a presentation today:
-1.1 qualification tank on structural stand in Texas will be rebuilt as next Grasshopper, with flight-like landing legs
-First 1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas late March
-After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
-Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change.

Is there an audio or video recording of this presentation?

No, it was pretty informal. And 2552 - I didn't ask specifically, but see my post in the "where are the engines" thread.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: SpaceX: General Falcon and Dragon discussion (Thread 7)
« Reply #699 on: 03/08/2013 04:04 am »
Some notes from a presentation today:
-1.1 qualification tank on structural stand in Texas will be rebuilt as next Grasshopper, with flight-like landing legs
-First 1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas late March
-After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
-Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change.
Woah, VERY informative (and great idea about "landing" on the water... I've thought about the same exact thing in a different context). Answers a lot of speculation. Pretty crazy they're going to be testing reuse techniques on the /first/ v1.1 flight! That should be pretty soon!
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