Author Topic: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles  (Read 202250 times)

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #320 on: 06/03/2016 03:16 AM »
The Fate of Four Landed Falcon 9's - Space Pod 6/1/16

TMRO

Published on Jun 1, 2016
This week, SpaceMike asks, now that SpaceX has four landed Falcon 9 first stages, what are they going to do with them?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTi9xWQ6W6k?t=001


He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that. Instead they are taking it apart and making it the baseline for their inspections since it had been subjected to the maximum expected stresses.

Offline Mader Levap

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #321 on: 06/04/2016 11:00 AM »
He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that.
This does not say too much. You could theoretically rebuild even very damaged stage. It would just cost more (possibly more than new stage).
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #322 on: 06/04/2016 02:11 PM »
He got the thing with the damage to the stage of Flight 24 wrong (like so many). Elon Musk had already clarified on twitter that the stage is NOT too damaged to fly again, but they simply chose to not do that.
This does not say too much. You could theoretically rebuild even very damaged stage. It would just cost more (possibly more than new stage).

Also, the guy in the video doesn't actually say the stage is too damaged to fly again. He says SpaceX has "determined" that the stage *will not* fly again, not that it *cannot* fly again.

In this context, "determined" can mean "chosen" or "decided," consistent with Elon's statement that they chose not to refly it.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #323 on: 06/04/2016 02:53 PM »
I don't think that any of the recovered stages are too damaged to re-fly.  I think it's all about the amount of repair and refurbishment that would be required to get a given stage back to flyable status.

Of the recovered stages thus far, two of them would seem to have been fairly easily cleaned up, have some TPS and their grid fins replaced, and re-flown.  One of those, the OrbComm-2 booster, has historic significance and won't be re-flown; the other, the CRS-8 booster, ought to fly again this year.

On the other hand, the JCSAT-14 and Thaicom-8 boosters suffered more entry damage due to their hot entries.  They neither one of them appear to have suffered any major structural damage, so each could be re-flown, but likely with more repair and refurb required than for stages which encounter a more benign entry environment.

Elon himself mentioned two different levels of "re-flyable" in the presser after CRS-8.  He said there should be a minor refurb needed to get a stage ready to re-fly within a few months, but after a number of flights (I think he mentioned 100, but I'd believe 10 a lot more), a given stage may need more significant repair and refurb to make it flyable again.

I think we're seeing that, in its current configuration, the Falcon 9 stage one can re-fly after a cooler entry with minimal refurb, but hot entries are looking like they will need a more thorough (and expensive, and time-consuming) repair and refurb, more like Elon's many-flights refurb cycle.

The next major milestone, I think, will be iterations of heat-proofing the engine compartment to survive hot entries without requiring extensive refurb to refly the stage.  It wouldn't surprise me if they get to that point after only one or two more flights.  I'm also pretty certain that the pinstriped engines are testing various TPS materials that will be used in the future on the engine bells and other locations in the engine compartment.

So, at least that's my take on it.  Nothing will ever be labeled as non-flyable by SpaceX as long as a solid repair and refurb could get it back into flying shape, so even for stages they declare will not fly again (i.e., will be life-leaders in testing), don't expect them to be labeled non-flyable.  I mean, heck, you could make a case that the octaweb and engines from the Jason-3 launch could be reflown -- that would just be a major refurb, where new tanks would be added... ;)

(And yes, before everyone shouts me down, I am aware that Jason-3 was the last of the old v1.1 Falcon 9's  and would never have been reflown in any event -- I'm just using it to make the point that, as long as major hardware is recovered and can be refurbished/re-used, the "stage", to some degree, will be potentially re-flyable.)
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline rst

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #324 on: 06/04/2016 05:54 PM »
All Elon has actually said is that the more beat-up returned stages are the obvious ones to use for requalification testing, and also that they could still refly.

We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections. For another, looks can be deceiving. It looked to some people like SES-9 had proven that the three-engine landing burn from GTO missions didn't work. The next time they tried it, it did.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #325 on: 06/04/2016 07:39 PM »
All Elon has actually said is that the more beat-up returned stages are the obvious ones to use for requalification testing, and also that they could still refly.

We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections. For another, looks can be deceiving. It looked to some people like SES-9 had proven that the three-engine landing burn from GTO missions didn't work. The next time they tried it, it did.
Exactly! People are too quick to jump to conclusions.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #326 on: 06/04/2016 08:09 PM »
And not to mention, as we all know but begs repeating, as the cores are retuned, inspected and tested, they'll be cycling in upgrades every step of the way. More structure here, less there, leg redesign here and a fin tweak there, more ablative here, less there, new algorithms, updated valves, etc., etc..

It's sometime easy to forget that all of this is still a development program. So no matter what anyone says WRT the current crop of returned cores, by early 2017 they'll be different still upon return and evaluation.
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Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #327 on: 06/04/2016 08:17 PM »
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #328 on: 06/04/2016 08:20 PM »
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.
Well, yeh, that's my point. In fact they say that just about every time.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #329 on: 06/05/2016 01:51 PM »
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.

There have been four successful landings of an orbital rocket in the history of rocketry -- three at the time of that launch.  They probably have a bit more time to use that phraseology, especially as they are exploring the return profile parameter space.
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Offline MP99

Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #330 on: 06/05/2016 04:31 PM »


We might want to be cautious about inferring too much about how much refurb is required.  For one thing, SpaceX might not know much themselves, pending the tests and inspections.

I think it's safe to say that F9 v1.1 was designed from the ground up to be recovered, and they have goals for every relevant component for reuse, refurbishment, or discard with replacement.

Some will need to be redesigned to meet those goals. Hopefully, nothing critical will be beyond redesigning.

Cheers, Martin

Offline Avron

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #331 on: 06/05/2016 04:58 PM »
in any of Elons public talks, tweets or statements, has he used the term "Refurbish'.

Yes once in term of a refurbished Dnepr missile

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #332 on: 06/05/2016 05:18 PM »
He also talks about rapid and complete reuse of the rocket and has said over and over again that they need to achieve no less than that.

Offline rsdavis9

Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #333 on: 06/05/2016 07:45 PM »
How about instead of these stages needing refurbishment it is merely a case that the stages are more valuable to just take apart and learn from. I'm sure there are a ton of rocket engineers that would just love to get there hands on a used stage to refine their calculations of reliability and such. They don't have a lot of demand for used stages right now.
With ELV best efficiency was the paradigm. The new paradigm is reusable, good enough, and commonality of design.
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Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #334 on: 06/05/2016 08:31 PM »
How about instead of these stages needing refurbishment it is merely a case that the stages are more valuable to just take apart and learn from. I'm sure there are a ton of rocket engineers that would just love to get there hands on a used stage to refine their calculations of reliability and such. They don't have a lot of demand for used stages right now.
Well of course and that is what they essentially said. They were taking them apart instead of reflying them because they want to analyze them and learn from what they find.

Offline OpelGT

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #335 on: 06/06/2016 12:11 AM »
Is there room for another Falcon-9 S1 booster in the hangar or has SpaceX taken one back to CA/TX?






Offline JamesH65

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #336 on: 06/06/2016 09:46 AM »
They referred to the last landing as "experimental landing" in the webcast for a reason.

There have been four successful landings of an orbital rocket in the history of rocketry -- three at the time of that launch.  They probably have a bit more time to use that phraseology, especially as they are exploring the return profile parameter space.

Four successful landings of an orbital rocket BOOSTER. The 1st stage does not go into orbit.

The Shuttle was an orbital rocket. That's landed loads of times.

Offline CorvusCorax

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #337 on: 06/06/2016 10:10 AM »

Four successful landings of an orbital rocket BOOSTER. The 1st stage does not go into orbit.

Well, if you wanna be precise, so where the Shuttle SRB's - although they did more of a "controlled splashdown" than a "landing".

The Shuttle was an orbital rocket. That's landed loads of times.
Although without it's main fuel tank.

I think you are right, although the Shuttle is hardly comparable to the Falcon9 as far as how they approached the problem, it had a higher rate of reuse than the current iteration of the Falcon 9 (with merlin upper stage) will ever have.

Even financially, I think the price of the Shuttle fuel tank (that was never recovered) compared to the price of the complete launch vehicle was smaller than the price of the Falcon9 second stage (which will for not be recovered in its current form) compared to the price of the whole F9 rocket.

However if you look at absolute prices, the whole Falcon 9 launch vehicle costs just roughly as much as a single space shuttle external tank did, so in the "millions expended per kg payload/flight" metrics the Falcon9 wins even if its flown fully expendable.

All this "comparison" and "who did it first" is a can of worms, because you always end up comparing peaches with apples.

If you classify the Falcon9 1st stage as merely a suborbital booster, then even Blue Origin landed one before they did - yet its hardly comparable as certain diagrams have aptly visualized.

Offline envy887

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #338 on: 06/06/2016 03:15 PM »
All this "comparison" and "who did it first" is a can of worms, because you always end up comparing peaches with apples.

If you classify the Falcon9 1st stage as merely a suborbital booster, then even Blue Origin landed one before they did - yet its hardly comparable as certain diagrams have aptly visualized.
Big can of worms, but relevant discussion in the reuse thread...
The Shuttle Orbiter landed many times, but was neither a orbital rocket (i.e. complete launch vehicle) nor an orbital class booster. It was a reentry vehicle with orbital engines. The SRBs were orbital class boosters but they were never landed (or barged), they splashed. Blue Origin hasn't flown a orbital class booster, nevermind landed one.

To my knowledge, SpaceX is the first to land (or barge) a heavy lift orbital class booster. It's not interesting because of who was the first to do it, but because it is indeed a novel accomplishment.

Offline Jim

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Re: Refurbishment of Used Stages/Vehicles
« Reply #339 on: 06/06/2016 03:36 PM »

Big can of worms, but relevant discussion in the reuse thread...
The Shuttle Orbiter landed many times, but was neither a orbital rocket (i.e. complete launch vehicle) nor an orbital class booster. It was a reentry vehicle with orbital engines. The SRBs were orbital class boosters but they were never landed (or barged), they splashed. Blue Origin hasn't flown a orbital class booster, nevermind landed one.

To my knowledge, SpaceX is the first to land (or barge) a heavy lift orbital class booster. It's not interesting because of who was the first to do it, but because it is indeed a novel accomplishment.


It doesn't matter if landed or splashed or orbital or suborbital.

Only SRB's and Blue Origin have reused their hardware.  Landed stages that aren't reused are a novel but meaningless accomplishment.

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