Author Topic: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2  (Read 379604 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Thread 2 for the above subject - which is a subject all posts must be related to.

Thread 1:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28585.0

Offline Lar

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Here's my recap of thread one (subject to derision)

Of the three sites we know of (TX, GA, FL) that SpaceX is apparently looking at, the Brownsville TX one appears to be the leading contender. Each site has advantages and disadvantages...

TX is constrained by some fairly poor available azimuths, most of which have doglegs, but it's closer to the equator than the other two. The prior thread had some very good analysis of launch paths and doglegs, with pics

TX appears to be a SpaceX only site, and the TX powers that be appear favorably disposed to SpaceX. Those are both felt to be fairly strong arguments in favor.

IF you think that downrange landings are a likely path for reuse, TX MAY offer better downrange locations that FL or GA which don't have a lot of land east of them...

EDIT: I do not think that downrange landings are a likely path. And if you want to argue the point, do it here http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31452.0
« Last Edit: 04/03/2013 04:54 pm by Lar »
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Offline Linze

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Down range could definitely be a factor when selecting a site.  Given SpaceX's plans, it may be no less important a factor than many of the other points in that summary.

In my estimation, one factor not given nearly enough credence is exclusivity.  Given SpaceX's clear plans for high launch frequencies, one finds it difficult to believe they would select any site not offering mitigation against competitor interference. 

In both of these categories, Texas would seem to have a clear, and perhaps decisive advantage.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2013 04:46 pm by Chris Bergin »

Offline Lars_J

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Down range could definitely be a factor when selecting a site.  Given SpaceX's plans, it may be no less important a factor than many of the other points in that summary.

Please stop it with the talk about downrange recovery. (if that is what you meant) SpaceX has on multiple occasions said that they are doing boost-back recovery at (or near) the launch site. There is no need to keep bringing this up as a factor.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2013 04:52 pm by Lars_J »

Offline Lar

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In my estimation, one factor not given nearly enough credence is exclusivity.  Given SpaceX's clear plans for high launch frequencies, one finds it difficult to believe they would select any site not offering mitigation against competitor interference. 

Why have they said 12 launches a year, then? That's just not "high"... yes it's a significant fraction of today's total launch frequency but it's not high :) I expect them to revise that upwards. At some point
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Linze

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In my estimation, one factor not given nearly enough credence is exclusivity.  Given SpaceX's clear plans for high launch frequencies, one finds it difficult to believe they would select any site not offering mitigation against competitor interference. 

Why have they said 12 launches a year, then? That's just not "high"... yes it's a significant fraction of today's total launch frequency but it's not high :) I expect them to revise that upwards. At some point

I'm equally curious as to why they put forward the 12 launches per year figure.  I agree with your assessment, 12 per can not be considered "high".  That figure is clearly at odds with high launch frequencies seemingly required by so many of SpaceX's plans.

At a guess, it's just a PR figure to create minimal pushback from the locals.  The actual contract will say something quite different, perhaps providing an obscure loophole through which SpaceX could quickly increase frequency.

Offline Joffan

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12 launches from Texas would be pretty high, if you also have 12 from Florida and 12 from California.
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Offline joek

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I'm equally curious as to why they put forward the 12 launches per year figure.  I agree with your assessment, 12 per can not be considered "high".  That figure is clearly at odds with high launch frequencies seemingly required by so many of SpaceX's plans.

At a guess, it's just a PR figure to create minimal pushback from the locals.  The actual contract will say something quite different, perhaps providing an obscure loophole through which SpaceX could quickly increase frequency.

Not just a PR figure.  They had to put a number on it for the FAA and environmental assessment:
Quote
FAA would issue launch licenses and/or experimental permits to SpaceX to conduct rocket launches
SpaceX proposes to launch the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy (up to two per year), and a variety of smaller reusable suborbital launch vehicles
The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy may also carry a capsule, such as the SpaceX Dragon Capsule
SpaceX proposes to conduct up to 12 launches a year

In any case, 12 launches/year is pretty darn high for the foreseeable future.  If in a few years they mind their manners and the "Texas Space Coast" is established, they probably won't have a problem expanding.

Offline Lars_J

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12 flights per year per pad seems to be maximum anticipated launch rate with the v1.1 flow (from a practical perspective)  - So it makes sense that they would establish that up front for every prospective launch site.

It's not like they would instantly have 36 missions per year with 3 active pads. Not for a long time - and it seems doubtful that they would reach a flight rate of 12/year at VAFB, even if they would capture the entire market.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2013 09:49 pm by Lars_J »

Offline Robotbeat

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They could do more, of course. But that's in "everything awesome happens" land, from a demand standpoint.
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Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #10 on: 04/03/2013 10:50 pm »
12 flights per year per pad seems to be maximum anticipated launch rate with the v1.1 flow (from a practical perspective)  - So it makes sense that they would establish that up front for every prospective launch site.

It's not like they would instantly have 36 missions per year with 3 active pads. Not for a long time - and it seems doubtful that they would reach a flight rate of 12/year at VAFB, even if they would capture the entire market.

ULA doesn't do 12 per year from VAFB, and they have the entire DOD market. Given a decreasing DOD budget, I would expect fewer launches, not more.

Texas is supposedly for non-DOD / NASA launches. It's only cost effective if Bigelow actually has a LEO space station that requires lots of launches for re-supply and tourists each year. Unfortunately, I see this as very unlikely to happen this decade.

It isn't needed to support Mars missions. Why build a whole separate pad for that, when a few extra integration buildings near the existing launch sites would do just fine. Remember, they can roll the LV out to the pad in a few hours, max. The long pole is testing and integration. If they need to launch every week from a single east coast pad, that is technically possible if the range assets aren't busy.

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #11 on: 04/04/2013 03:02 am »
I'm equally curious as to why they put forward the 12 launches per year figure. 
I suspect they don't want to rock the boat. 

Once they get the ball rolling, environmental and other concerns will ease somewhat.  At that point, they can apply for a higher launch rate with a greater chance of success.

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #12 on: 04/04/2013 03:11 am »
I'm equally curious as to why they put forward the 12 launches per year figure. 
I suspect they don't want to rock the boat. 

Once they get the ball rolling, environmental and other concerns will ease somewhat.  At that point, they can apply for a higher launch rate with a greater chance of success.
If they can do 2 or more launches in the 15 hour launch window for a given day then that would be good. That would seem to me a reasonable way to do more than 12 launches a year and that would keep the launch rate still to just 12 per year.

Offline douglas100

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #13 on: 04/04/2013 08:18 am »

Texas is supposedly for non-DOD / NASA launches. It's only cost effective if Bigelow actually has a LEO space station that requires lots of launches for re-supply and tourists each year. Unfortunately, I see this as very unlikely to happen this decade.

I agree that numerous Bigelow launches are unlikely in the near future. But also, azimuth restrictions make launching from Texas to a Bigelow station in a 40 degrees inclination orbit problematical.

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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #14 on: 04/04/2013 02:54 pm »
12 flights per year per pad seems to be maximum anticipated launch rate with the v1.1 flow (from a practical perspective)  - So it makes sense that they would establish that up front for every prospective launch site.

It's not like they would instantly have 36 missions per year with 3 active pads. Not for a long time - and it seems doubtful that they would reach a flight rate of 12/year at VAFB, even if they would capture the entire market.

ULA doesn't do 12 per year from VAFB, and they have the entire DOD market. Given a decreasing DOD budget, I would expect fewer launches, not more.

Texas is supposedly for non-DOD / NASA launches. It's only cost effective if Bigelow actually has a LEO space station that requires lots of launches for re-supply and tourists each year. Unfortunately, I see this as very unlikely to happen this decade.

It isn't needed to support Mars missions. Why build a whole separate pad for that, when a few extra integration buildings near the existing launch sites would do just fine. Remember, they can roll the LV out to the pad in a few hours, max. The long pole is testing and integration. If they need to launch every week from a single east coast pad, that is technically possible if the range assets aren't busy.


The key here and is probably the major item for seeking such a launch site in Texas is range availability. The Cape range  requires a 3 day down time between range activities. The cape range is very active with lots of different types of vehicles and activities. So having an exclusive range that has no problems or a minimum of problems in scheduling a launch date is a very big advantage for a commercial launch business.

Offline muomega0

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #15 on: 04/04/2013 03:17 pm »
12 flights per year per pad seems to be maximum anticipated launch rate with the v1.1 flow (from a practical perspective)  - So it makes sense that they would establish that up front for every prospective launch site.

It's not like they would instantly have 36 missions per year with 3 active pads. Not for a long time - and it seems doubtful that they would reach a flight rate of 12/year at VAFB, even if they would capture the entire market.

ULA doesn't do 12 per year from VAFB, and they have the entire DOD market. Given a decreasing DOD budget, I would expect fewer launches, not more.

Texas is supposedly for non-DOD / NASA launches. It's only cost effective if Bigelow actually has a LEO space station that requires lots of launches for re-supply and tourists each year. Unfortunately, I see this as very unlikely to happen this decade.

It isn't needed to support Mars missions. Why build a whole separate pad for that, when a few extra integration buildings near the existing launch sites would do just fine. Remember, they can roll the LV out to the pad in a few hours, max. The long pole is testing and integration. If they need to launch every week from a single east coast pad, that is technically possible if the range assets aren't busy.


The key here and is probably the major item for seeking such a launch site in Texas is range availability. The Cape range  requires a 3 day down time between range activities. The cape range is very active with lots of different types of vehicles and activities. So having an exclusive range that has no problems or a minimum of problems in scheduling a launch date is a very big advantage for a commercial launch business.

What is the selection criteria?

Draft List of Selection Criteria for a new Site

    The potential for placing crew/cargo/satellites on equatorial, low, high and polar orbits and the performance penaties
    Proximity of the equator
    Site Availability
    Site with a surface area large enough to ensure launch safety
    A deep-water port with sufficient handling facilities
    An airport capable of receiving long-range aircraft (with a landing strip of xxx meters)
    As short a distance as possible between the launch base and manunufacturing/assembly 
    Cost to relocate manufacturing/assembly to the launch site
    Local and state contributions
    Federal or National Costs

-------------------------------

So lets examine performance penalties on a generic basis.
10 to 100 kg/flight  (one site versus another).
$1000 to $5000/kg
so per flight, the penalty ranges from $10K to $500K.
For 10 flights per year, thats 100K to 5M, 200K to 10M/year.

Note that if the flight rate is lower the $/kg goes up....

Over 3 decades, that is  6M to 300M.....

One can see how the projected mission set from the pad could have an impact on the cost to taxpayer with only a 100 kg mass penalty between sites, from minimal to substantial.

Offline MP99

The key here and is probably the major item for seeking such a launch site in Texas is range availability. The Cape range  requires a 3 day down time between range activities.

If we buy into SpaceX eventually wanting to do a huge rate of launches, would there be a three-day turnaround if two consecutive launches were of the same launcher?

cheers, Martin

Offline Lurker Steve

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #17 on: 04/04/2013 08:07 pm »
The key here and is probably the major item for seeking such a launch site in Texas is range availability. The Cape range  requires a 3 day down time between range activities.

If we buy into SpaceX eventually wanting to do a huge rate of launches, would there be a three-day turnaround if two consecutive launches were of the same launcher?

cheers, Martin

Yes, why not reserve the range for a 3-day period and launch each and every day. Then turn the assets over to the next launch provider. Then the only issue is the weather.

Florida isn't really the "Sunshine state", but the rest of the gulf states get their fair share of storms as well.


Offline go4mars

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #18 on: 04/05/2013 12:26 am »
State budget and taxation tendencies, workforce culture, proximity to Mars.  ;)
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Online CapitalistOppressor

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 2
« Reply #19 on: 04/05/2013 11:13 am »
In my estimation, one factor not given nearly enough credence is exclusivity.  Given SpaceX's clear plans for high launch frequencies, one finds it difficult to believe they would select any site not offering mitigation against competitor interference. 

Why have they said 12 launches a year, then? That's just not "high"... yes it's a significant fraction of today's total launch frequency but it's not high :) I expect them to revise that upwards. At some point

I'm equally curious as to why they put forward the 12 launches per year figure.  I agree with your assessment, 12 per can not be considered "high".  That figure is clearly at odds with high launch frequencies seemingly required by so many of SpaceX's plans.

At a guess, it's just a PR figure to create minimal pushback from the locals.  The actual contract will say something quite different, perhaps providing an obscure loophole through which SpaceX could quickly increase frequency.

It's not just a PR figure.  It's all they require at this point, and that number does not include suborbital flights.

More to the point, SpaceX has been open about the likelyhood of expanding in the future.  The Texas legislature was begging him to move the entire company to Texas (which Elon said wasn't going to happen), and Elon responded by saying that eventually SpaceX would be building the large cores near the pad. 

Large cores are not in the environmental impact statement either, so it's implied that more launch activity will take place in the future.  The locals are also openly discussing their hope that SpaceX will be doing manned flights from there in the future, so again everyone involved seems to anticipate future expansion beyond what is mentioned in the initial permit.

There is zero need for SpaceX to put in an application for hundreds of launches per year.  But there is no evidence that they would have trouble getting the necessary permits if they desire to do so in the future.

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