Author Topic: Grasshopper/F9R-Dev1 Derived Vehicles for Manned Suborbital Flight  (Read 11341 times)

Offline Optimistic Brian

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I'm sure someone has asked this before, but why doesn't SpaceX develop the 9R-Dev1 vehicle into a manned commercial suborbital rocket?  They could fly out of both Mojave and Spaceport America.  The suborbital industry has been severely disappointing, so it's basically wide open.

Offline dcporter

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I'm sure someone has asked this before, but why doesn't SpaceX develop the 9R-Dev1 vehicle into a manned commercial suborbital rocket?  They could fly out of both Mojave and Spaceport America.  The suborbital industry has been severely disappointing, so it's basically wide open.

I think the general assumption has been that it's not worth their time. They don't want to spend money or engineering time on something that doesn't relate to, or fund, Mars.

Offline cscott

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I'm sure someone has asked this before, but why doesn't SpaceX develop the 9R-Dev1 vehicle into a manned commercial suborbital rocket?  They could fly out of both Mojave and Spaceport America.  The suborbital industry has been severely disappointing, so it's basically wide open.

Also: the suborbital industry has been severely disappointing.  No sense throwing good money after bad.

Offline dcporter

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Also: the suborbital industry has been severely disappointing.  No sense throwing good money after bad.

(Disappointing on the supply side! The demand side, which would signify "bad money" I think, has been robust enough to keep VG in business with zero deliveries.)

Offline Optimistic Brian

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I think the general assumption has been that it's not worth their time. They don't want to spend money or engineering time on something that doesn't relate to, or fund, Mars.

That seems myopic, if it's the case.  At very least manned suborbital spaceflight gets the Overview Effect going, and regular operations of a reusable F9 first stage would certainly contribute a much higher frequency of flights to help develop the technology for the orbital side.  And there's no inherent reason suborbital couldn't be profitable, maybe hugely so.  Getting as many people into space as possible, as soon as possible, could only help spearhead this industry.

Also: the suborbital industry has been severely disappointing.  No sense throwing good money after bad.

Dcporter's response covers that pretty well - it's the suborbital suppliers that haven't come through on their flight systems.  Demand has been persistent, not to mention frustrated.  Once such services actually exist, the manifest demand would probably expand drastically.  Also, who knows, maybe an F9 first stage with legs might be capable of doing point-to-point, taking larger crews, or going higher and longer than Virgin Galactic. 

Someone should at least be exploring this.  If not SpaceX itself, then someone outside should be talking to them about a suborbital deal.  Their Mars Shot is like a huge tree, and there should be as many branches as possible off of it to maximize the benefit of each step forward they make.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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I think that suborbital tourism with F9R is not going to work, not for a lack of demand, but because it is the first stage of an orbital launch vehicle, with cost and engineering margins set for that. It would probably not be cost effective to do suborbital flights with it.
« Last Edit: 08/20/2014 02:51 PM by Elmar Moelzer »

Offline RanulfC

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I think that suborbital tourism with F9R is not going to work, not for a lack of demand, but because it is the first stage of an orbital launch vehicle, with cost and engineering margins set for that. It would probably not be cost effective to do suborbital flights with it.

But as a "basis" there's a lot going for it as a starting point. Specifically to service the Class-1...

Wait, quick "refresher" on terminology here:
Class-1 Suborbital= (Pretty much) Straight-up/Straight-down suborbital (above the Karmen line) flight. This is what BO as well as VG are/were planning where there is little to no lateral motion during the flight. (And yes even VG as a "lifting" vehicle trajectory has very little lateral motion compared to what it could do but at a significant cost in required capability)

Class-2 Suborbital= Short-Range Point-to-Point suborbital flight. Something similar to what was suggested at one point for VG operations such as launching at Spaceport America and landing the SS-2 at Las Vegas or Mojave. Not as much capability requirements at the Class-3 P2P service but more than would normally be capable of using a vehicle designed for the Class-1 market. (Also has added operations costs due to landing at different site than you took off from)

Class-3 Suborbital= "Real" Point-To-Point Suborbital flight where the "suborbital" flight can reqiure as much if not more performance than an actual orbital flight. Ideas such as P2P suborbital travel from California to Australia fall under this catagory for example.

Continued:
Specifically to service the Class-1 Suborbital market where the trajctory enables faster turn-around and launch rates due to using the same facility for all operations. (Within safety margins of course) Pretty much trying to "barnstorm" space (suborbital) access.

An F9SoR (Suborbital Reusable) rocket with a passenger cabin wrapped low around the propellant tanks with permanently extended "legs" could be a pretty robust and economic "Launch Vehicle" for such missions with not a lot of major modifications to the design.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Dudely

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Wow. You just said wrapping a cabin around the fuel tanks and having permanently extended legs would not require "a lot of major modifications to the design".

Are you crazy? Yes it most certainly would.

How do you plan to land without the passengers passing out from the g forces?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Class-1 Suborbital= (Pretty much) Straight-up/Straight-down suborbital (above the Karmen line) flight. This is what BO as well as VG are/were planning where there is little to no lateral motion during the flight. (And yes even VG as a "lifting" vehicle trajectory has very little lateral motion compared to what it could do but at a significant cost in required capability)

...SNIP...

An F9SoR (Suborbital Reusable) rocket with a passenger cabin wrapped low around the propellant tanks with permanently extended "legs" could be a pretty robust and economic "Launch Vehicle" for such missions with not a lot of major modifications to the design.

I agree with Dudely that modifying anything is likely a lot of work, but I don't think you'd even need that.

There could be a market for a F9-R that has a Dragon V2 on top that just goes suborbital - just straight up.  The F9-R lands back at the launch site, and the Dragon lands nearby.  If they can achieve their goal of "gas & go" then they might be able to fly more than once a day.

Now what is the customer value of such a ride?  I have no clue.  And as is the Virgin Galactic vehicle has better views.

But it could be done with existing hardware and some new infrastructure for fast turnaround, and for a low enough price (Virgin Galactic is now $250K) they might be able to attract enough customers.  I think this would hinge on whether SpaceX sees value in flying F9-R and Dragon frequently - for whatever reason.  Because I don't think it would be a big money maker, or at least not something SpaceX could make a lot of money at... but maybe someone could license a F9-R and Dragon V2 for doing private flights?  Who knows?
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Optimistic Brian

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Right now the manned suborbital industry is looking pretty grim - which is to say, it's still nonexistent a decade after the X Prize was won, and its most prominent "provider" has become something of a joke for its profligate hype and seeming terror of flying its own fully built spaceship.  Others either seem to be going nowhere despite massive resources (Blue Origin), or else going somewhere at a measured pace due to limited resources (XCOR) that could easily evaporate at any time.  Like I said, grim.

But SpaceX already has a large, operational suborbital rocket - two, in fact: Grasshopper and F9R-Dev1.  I don't want to dismiss the challenges that would be involved in transitioning pure test rockets that have only flown to low altitudes into operational commercial rockets that fly above the atmosphere, but...why not?  It seems like common sense that fully-built, relatively well-characterized reusable rockets that are going to be repeatedly test-flown anyway, eventually to space, and that have never failed (knock on wood), could carry people.

If SpaceX isn't interested in pursuing it themselves, then how about some external entity talk to them about buying or leasing one of these rockets?  They have the core capability to provide manned suborbital flight more or less immediately, and they would have a monopoly (even if VG flies eventually, they've made it clear they're afraid of their own vehicle and won't be flying very often). 

F9R-Dev1 in particular, because it's the first stage of an orbital rocket and has a lot of fuel for down-range velocity, could go straight up and reach very high altitudes with ISS-quality views or better.  The zero-g "hang time" could be longer as well, not to mention probably carrying more people.  Also, that down-range capability makes modest point-to-point flights conceivable, although this would be a bonus rather than the main purpose I'm talking about.

I just don't get why this idea hasn't gained traction.  That rocket is vastly safer, vastly simpler, and vastly cheaper than any flown in the 1960s with humans on top of it, so why are they not just strapping some cheap air-tight aircraft cabin with an ejection system to it and sending people up into the black?  I'm sure plenty of their own employees would line up for it, meaning no need initially for FAA clearance up front beyond the same usual test paperwork and the informed consent waivers. 

And while they're regularly sending their people up, and giving us all much-needed hope for our own chances of getting to go in the medium-term, they could be evolving it into something that would pass AST muster as a commercial system.

Multi-decadal Mars plans are very exciting, but come on, we can get significant numbers of people experiencing space now.

Offline inventodoc

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Since it costs millions to get things in orbit, a reusable rocket is a great idea. Propellant is something like $200k, add in other costs, you may get dollars per pound to orbit much lower .  With suborbital falcon 9, you still have the rocket overhead and are still spending $200k on propellant for a trip that would cost $2k in a longer period of time on an airplane. I'm not sure paid suborbital tourism is that compelling. When it happens, I think it will be a letdown.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2014 02:23 AM by inventodoc »

Offline zodiacchris

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Aarghh, don't say that! Suborbital will be all I can ever afford (provided my wife gives me permission to sell the house).... :-X

Offline su27k

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I just don't get why this idea hasn't gained traction. 

Well for starters F9R-Dev1 only reached 1000m so far at very low speed, while SS2 and Blue Origin's test vehicle has passed 10000m and went supersonic, I think we need to give suborbital companies some credit and some patience, there were times when SpaceX's future looked grim too.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Well for starters F9R-Dev1 only reached 1000m so far at very low speed,

F9R first stage has flown rather higher and faster than that and landed successfully, it just hasn't yet tried to land on anything solid. We don't yet know how accurate the landings were but I think the potential is pretty clear; I don't think anyone interested in using F9R tech for manned suborbital flight would limit themselves to looking at F9R-Dev1 :)

Offline Optimistic Brian

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With suborbital falcon 9, you still have the rocket overhead and are still spending $200k on propellant for a trip that would cost $2k in a longer period of time on an airplane.

That begs a number of questions.  Most centrally, you never need to achieve the kind of delta-v on a suborbital up-and-down hop that you do on the first stage of an orbital flight, so you don't need all the propellant - not unless you really want to get as high an altitude as possible, and want those ISS-quality views, which IMHO would totally be worth it, but not the only option.  Also, because you don't need the same speeds, you don't need the same weight of thermal protection, which means further savings and efficiencies.

I'm not sure paid suborbital tourism is that compelling. When it happens, I think it will be a letdown.

Given how mind-blowing streaming videos of the view from the SpaceShipOne were during the X-Prize flights, and still are even now, I think you badly underestimate how much it would change things for ordinary people (or at least ordinary 6-figure affluent people) to be able to see their planet curving beneath them under a black sky in weightlessness.   I want to go into space, now, and I can't even afford those 6-figure prices, but it can't start going down until lots and lots of people are paying those high initial prices.  So the sooner the economies of scale get going the better for me and everyone else who is impatient for space.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2014 08:10 AM by Optimistic Brian »

Offline Chris Bergin

Funny this. There were report to mods saying "The Grasshopper thread is off topic as they are talking about crazy things like suborbital!!"

Yet here we are (right idea to start a new thread). Hmmm. Let me see if I can trim out some of the other posts from the old thread into here.

Edit: And TA DAAA! That's done.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2014 09:52 AM by Chris Bergin »

Offline sghill

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Right now the manned suborbital industry is looking pretty grim - which is to say, it's still nonexistent a decade after the X Prize was won, and its most prominent "provider" has become something of a joke for its profligate hype and seeming terror of flying its own fully built spaceship.  Others either seem to be going nowhere despite massive resources (Blue Origin), or else going somewhere at a measured pace due to limited resources (XCOR) that could easily evaporate at any time.  Like I said, grim.

I've still got my money placed on Copenhagen Suborbitals (http://copsub.com/).  Those crazy Danes have the right idea for manned suborbital flight- extremely small rockets tailored to thrill seekers, not big expensive rockets like an F9 or SS2. The driver would have room enough for their ass in the clear-domed capsule, and perhaps they'd even [be forced to] jump out and parachute back Gagarin-style at apogee.

At a couple of million, the thrill sports set could buy these things up like rich men with their race cars.  David Brin has a nice description of such a race in "Existence."
« Last Edit: 08/21/2014 01:08 PM by sghill »
Bring the thunder!

Offline QuantumG

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They're not doing that anymore.. which is a shame. It was actually unique and didn't require wider cores than it seems they're capable of doing.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline meekGee

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I doubt SpaceX needs the headache of dealing with thousands of customers...

But if someone wants to operate an F9S1/Dragon joyride, and SpaceX trusts them, then why not.

The economics look iffy though
« Last Edit: 08/21/2014 03:31 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline JasonAW3

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They're not doing that anymore.. which is a shame. It was actually unique and didn't require wider cores than it seems they're capable of doing.

If I remember, they first went to an Apollo style capsule after the first design, and now are looking at using a Mercury style capsule.

I'm kinda pulling for these crazy Danes!
My God!  It's full of universes!

Offline oiorionsbelt

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I doubt SpaceX needs the headache of dealing with thousands of customers...
Unless they are bookings for MCT :)

Offline RanulfC

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Wow. You just said wrapping a cabin around the fuel tanks and having permanently extended legs would not require "a lot of major modifications to the design".

Are you crazy? Yes it most certainly would.

Currently the Grasshopper has a single Merlin engine and the legs are already permanently extended with, as you'll note from this picture (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Spx_Grasshopper_03.jpg) and extended thrust structure where a series of cabin supports could be attached. There is also the consideration that the whole "Grasshopper" vehicle is not an "F9" but a test prototype which is basically built from parts. So far I'm not seeing how you arrived at your conclusion...
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How do you plan to land without the passengers passing out from the g forces?

On the way up? The reentry? The landing? Engine throttling will have to come into play at some point and more than one engine will be needed to get a payload beyond the Karman line but this is engineering which SpaceX has shown a more than marginal capability in doing.

I agree with Dudely that modifying anything is likely a lot of work, but I don't think you'd even need that.

It will take work but the entire "basis" is already in existance and that's a huge start.

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There could be a market for a F9-R that has a Dragon V2 on top that just goes suborbital - just straight up.  The F9-R lands back at the launch site, and the Dragon lands nearby.  If they can achieve their goal of "gas & go" then they might be able to fly more than once a day.

This is what Blue Orgin was planning for their Suborbital Class-1 Vehicle, and it was pointed out time and time again that re-stacking the vehicle along with processing from landing to launch (gas-n-go is not going to be happening any time soon and not something two seperate LANDED vehicles that have to be mated to launch is going to suitable for) I have a lot of doubts about SpaceX pursuing that operational approach.

You really want one vehicle for the whole operation from take off to landing to speed up ground operations.

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Now what is the customer value of such a ride? I have no clue. And as is the Virgin Galactic vehicle has better views.

As to the former let me suggest those interested take look at these papers:
http://mae.engr.ucdavis.edu/faculty/sarigul/AIAA_2003_0909_revised_Sep03.pdf
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20010032279.pdf
http://www.futron.com/upload/wysiwyg/Resources/Whitepapers/Suborbital_Space_Tourism_Revisited_0806.pdf
http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/media/Suborbital_Reusable_Vehicles_Report_Full.pdf

Pretty key points for "customer-value" were excitment of the ride (vertical take-off/landing were actually prefered) good-views and window size, ("mind-blowing-view" mentioned above) and the *best* money is on providing at least some "out-of-the-seat" time during free-fall. Downers were high physical needs, (for example VG is going to be pushing 9Gs during reentry and most Class-1 profiles have this problem due the steep reentry angle) and limited "experiance" during the flight.

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But it could be done with existing hardware and some new infrastructure for fast turnaround, and for a low enough price (Virgin Galactic is now $250K) they might be able to attract enough customers.  I think this would hinge on whether SpaceX sees value in flying F9-R and Dragon frequently - for whatever reason.  Because I don't think it would be a big money maker, or at least not something SpaceX could make a lot of money at... but maybe someone could license a F9-R and Dragon V2 for doing private flights?  Who knows?

Thing is I don't see the F9R or D-V2 as applicable for suborbital work because they are not designed to the needs of the job. (See Above) It would have to be somewhat of a point design and as much "off-the-shelf" as possible hence the idea of adapting the Grasshopper engineering article as a basis to work from.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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I doubt SpaceX needs the headache of dealing with thousands of customers...

But if someone wants to operate an F9S1/Dragon joyride, and SpaceX trusts them, then why not.

I suspect that's a key point though and the one that's going to prevent anyone using an actual F9R/Dragon V2 for such activities because pretty much ANY "bad-press" such an operation would generate is going to be media linked to SpaceX no matter who the operator is. I don't think SpaceX could afford the PR hit any time soon.
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The economics look iffy though

It seriously depends on who's crunching the numbers AND the baggage attached to everything that was used to arrive at those numbers in the first place. In most cases the "operations" are looking to be something like a two week vacation package with resort, dinning, etc, and a "space-flight" thrown in. This is VGs plan. XCOR on the other hand is "attaching" their flights to people already on vacation which looks to have some advantages including a pretty high "through-put" rate of passengers (despite only carrying one person per flight) and higher flight rate though I don't see them hitting "gas-n-go" operations near term either.

In terms of actually bringing the costs of operations down enough to bring the overall cost WAY down the easiest route I can see actualy would run afoul of customer "perception" issues that might make it non-viable. Pretty much you "just" have to reach a bit over Mach-5 in a near vertical climb to reach the Karman line and you CAN do that with some tricked-out military surplus turbojet engines with maybe a small rocket engine to sustain velocity when the jets cut out. And the deepth of experiance with jet engines and aircraft operations would lend itself to reducing overall operations cost to the point of being 'noise' in the pricing.

The main problem is/was that "jet-engines" then makes the whole thing seem more mundane and generates less customer excitment. Enough so that a flight on a "rocket" powered vehicle seems a better "deal" even if it doesn't actually go above the Karman line. (This is part of what XCOR is counting on in early Lynx flights)
Considering there are people out there enough for a viable case to be made for BALLOON flights to be considerred "space" flights that might not be as true as it seemed earlier though.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Mader Levap

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I just don't get why this idea hasn't gained traction.
Too much hassle, too small gain.
Be successful.  Then tell the haters to (BLEEP) off. - deruch
...and if you have failure, tell it anyway.

Offline WindyCity

Musk has stated publicly that he's not interested in pursuing the suborbital tourism business. He's not against it, but it doesn't fit his mission. Maybe 50-75 years from now, he (or his successors/heirs) will start up tourist flights to Mars.

Offline AJW

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Let's just bring GH1 out of retirement and install seats in rings around the stage.  For an extra fee they'll send up a quadcopter to record a video to take home with 'Ring of Fire' playing in the background.  Afterwards there will be a BBQ at the farm next door where you can get photos taken with the cows.  Run this all through an independent company, maybe 'Brown Pants Entertainment'.  Expand into other unique thrill rides.

Offline Optimistic Brian

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Let's just bring GH1 out of retirement and install seats in rings around the stage.  For an extra fee they'll send up a quadcopter to record a video to take home with 'Ring of Fire' playing in the background.  Afterwards there will be a BBQ at the farm next door where you can get photos taken with the cows.  Run this all through an independent company, maybe 'Brown Pants Entertainment'.  Expand into other unique thrill rides.

Exactly - that's what I'm talking about.  No perfect design needed, just bootstrap what you've got.  You're being facetious, but you've actually touched on something true.

Maybe SpaceX itself isn't organizationally minded to do these sorts of things because they're a heavy industry, but they've created a capability and someone should step in to utilize it.  It's just painful seeing such possibilities just sit there waiting for someone to figure out they can do this stuff.  I'd be trying to do it myself if I had any money, experience, or business skills whatsoever.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2014 03:17 AM by Optimistic Brian »

Offline CameronD

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Let's just bring GH1 out of retirement and install seats in rings around the stage.  For an extra fee they'll send up a quadcopter to record a video to take home with 'Ring of Fire' playing in the background.  Afterwards there will be a BBQ at the farm next door where you can get photos taken with the cows.  Run this all through an independent company, maybe 'Brown Pants Entertainment'.  Expand into other unique thrill rides.

Well, it would certainly take the "Tower of Terror" concept to a whole new level:  ::)



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_Terror_II
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Optimistic Brian

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The test flight explosion doesn't change my views on this.  They're flying it right now as a test vehicle precisely to tease out potential problems, and if it's eventually safe enough to fly astronauts to orbit, it will be safe enough to fly passengers on low-velocity suborbital flights.

Offline AJW

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Remember that any astronauts will be in a capsule with a LAS tested to improve the likelihood that the would survive a failure of the first stage.  Once you have gone this far, might as well pay for the E ticket and go orbital.

Offline RanulfC

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I just don't get why this idea hasn't gained traction.
Too much hassle, too small gain.

Depends actually, "Barnstorming" was never more than a marginal business not even when aircraft companies sponsored events but it kept aviation in the forefront of peoples minds both before and after WWI.

Of coures the X-Prize and SS-1 pretty much put an extreme lower limit on participation even on a shoestring which as far as I know no one is trying to repeat seriously. I'm not sure anyone has actually sat down and looked at a minimum "Space-Jenny" type vehicle for the purpose. (And we need to keep in mind that the Jenny itself was a "multi-purpose" design itself)

Nope, I'm wrong about people having looked at mimimalist designs:
http://langkasa-norul.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-design-and-operation-of-suborbital.html#!/2013/05/the-design-and-operation-of-suborbital.html

http://langkasa-norul.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-solves-family-of-suborbital-vehicles.html#!/2013/08/the-solves-family-of-suborbital-vehicles.html

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline QuantumG

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Depends actually, "Barnstorming" was never more than a marginal business not even when aircraft companies sponsored events but it kept aviation in the forefront of peoples minds both before and after WWI.

That's more than you can say about suborbital tourism, right now.
I hear those things are awfully loud. It glides as softly as a cloud. What's it called? Monowhale!

Offline RanulfC

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Depends actually, "Barnstorming" was never more than a marginal business not even when aircraft companies sponsored events but it kept aviation in the forefront of peoples minds both before and after WWI.

That's more than you can say about suborbital tourism, right now.

Actually the "demand" has been there but without anything flying and getting (and keeping) media and people's attention the active interest has dropped greatly. No one has found or designed  a 'cheap-and-easy' vehicle for the role. Partially because such a vehicle is of highly limited utility for anything OTHER than "sub-orbital-tourism" :)

Then again the general "utility" of the Jenny was pretty limited but the fact that it had an existing transportation network to tap into (destinations, markets, etc) where as suborbital vehicles (especially the "Class-1" suborbital flight vehicles) do not is a major inhibiting factor.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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They're (CS) not doing that anymore.. which is a shame. It was actually unique and didn't require wider cores than it seems they're capable of doing.

But as I understood it the pilot position was just about made-to-order the worst take-off position for a vertical launch which is probably why they changed out :)

... For an extra fee they'll send up a quadcopter to record a video to take home...

Ok along with this and watching "Planes" (yes I'm a bit behind in movies) would actually make a lot of sense... And goes a long way to explaining why the Rocket Racing League failed... This is the "NASCAR-generation" where the audiance wants/needs/requires lots and lots of direct feed-back from their entertainment. You'd pretty much need more to market a "suborbital" tourism ride (especially one that doesn't even get to "space" officially) including outside "feeds" from things like balloons, quad/multi-copters and external and internal cameras.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline JasonAW3

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You know, a suborbital mission would allow another company, like SNC to test out their idea of an escape system in simulated real world condirtions, with a high probability of being able to repeat with teh same stage and craft within a few days.

This would also allown both SNC and SpaceX to work out any adaptor issues that they might have for a real space mission.
My God!  It's full of universes!

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