Author Topic: Grasshopper/F9R-Dev1 Derived Vehicles for Manned Suborbital Flight  (Read 11343 times)

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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