Author Topic: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3  (Read 791791 times)

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1020 on: 06/07/2016 01:42 PM »


I agree they have a plan for times when the schedule is too busy for one ASDS to handle. What it is, I don't know, but I have a guess; use the ASDS from the west coast (which gets very little use.). SpaceX could look at its schedule, see that it needs an extra ASDS for a few weeks, and just tow JRTI from California to Florida. The tow time would be about 28 days via the Panama Canal.

This would only be an interim solution for occasional times of busy schedule, and only work if the West Coast ASDS was not busy, but it'd be an option until flight rates are consistently higher than one ASDS can handle. I ought to add that it's never been an option before, and isn't now, due to the ASDS being too wide for the Panama Canal locks, but that's only true until the Panama Canal expansion opens (near the end of this month).

I think you are underestimating the amount of time needed to transit the canal, including scheduling delays and canal bureaucracy.  Especially when the new locks are newly-opened (for the rest of this year) I'd expect a good deal of unpredictable delay as the canal authority ramps up and does initial operations debugging, etc.

OTOH, your point about the new locks is a good one: it's possible that the new locks could make the transit "cheap enough" (in labor and time) to make a temporary transit worth it.

Still: If I had to place a bet, I'd wager that JRtI never leaves the Pacific.

Offline eweilow

FCC transmitter permit application for the next mission:

https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/STA_Print.cfm?mode=current&application_seq=71187&RequestTimeout=1000

ASDS position coordinates are the same as for Thaicom 8, so it looks like SpaceX has found the "sweet spot" for GTO mission landing attempts.
Does that then mean that OCISLY will be heading out to sea on what... Thursday the 9th?

Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1022 on: 06/07/2016 04:55 PM »
Quote
Does that then mean that OCISLY will be heading out to sea on what... Thursday the 9th?

Departure 5 days before launch has been standard practice for the last several GTO missions. So yes, Thursday morning departure seems likely.
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 04:58 PM by Kabloona »

Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1023 on: 06/07/2016 08:40 PM »
In the permit application I see 2 types of device;

The Myers unit is a high powered WiFi antenna, likely for the cameras.

The Quasonix unit then must be the "TC uplink," which is what - an uplink to the launcher, a satellite, the ships or ??
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1024 on: 06/07/2016 08:53 PM »
In the permit application I see 2 types of device;

The Myers unit is a high powered WiFi antenna, likely for the cameras.

The Quasonix unit then must be the "TC uplink," which is what - an uplink to the launcher, a satellite, the ships or ??

We have speculated that the the Quasonix transmitter(s) are for remote safing of the stage after landing, via a transmitter from one of the ships for sea landings, or from the Cape after RTLS landings. Also, presumably they test the "safing" command link from the pad before launch.

That would explain the two Quasonix transmitters (one at the pad, one on the ship).
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 09:07 PM by Kabloona »

Online docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1025 on: 06/07/2016 09:02 PM »
Seems either the stage or ASDS box would be line of sight and a similar range. Couldn't that be done via the stages telemetry box?  If so, then?? Stage to ASDS comms has been poo-poo'ed but if not that, what? "Television Camera" satellite uplink?
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 09:06 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1026 on: 06/07/2016 09:09 PM »
Seems either the stage or ASDS box would be line of sight and a similar range. Couldn't that be done via the stages telemetry box?  If so, then?? Stage to ASDS comms has been poo-poo'ed but if not that, what? "Television Camera" satellite uplink?

Not sure I understand your question. Can you rephrase please?

As for stage to ASDS comms, there isn't any mention of transmitting from the stage in this permit (which is for recovery ops only; flight transmissions are covered in a different permit.)

Also remember the commercial marine VSAT antennas on both the ASDS and Go Quest for satellite uplink of video, etc, which would need no special FCC permission and thus don't need mention in this application.

If the Myers transmitter is indeed the 1W box on the ASDS for wireless camera feeds sent through it to the VSAT satellite uplink, that would make sense.

Which leaves the two Quasonix transmitters for remote safing, one at the pad and one on GO Quest.

(PS...the "TC" abbreviation in the application may be short for "telecommand" uplink, ie from ground/ship to stage after landing, for remote safing.)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommand
http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Engineering_Technology/Onboard_Computer_and_Data_Handling/Telemetry_Telecommand
« Last Edit: 06/07/2016 09:52 PM by Kabloona »

Offline CJ

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1027 on: 06/07/2016 10:03 PM »


I agree they have a plan for times when the schedule is too busy for one ASDS to handle. What it is, I don't know, but I have a guess; use the ASDS from the west coast (which gets very little use.). SpaceX could look at its schedule, see that it needs an extra ASDS for a few weeks, and just tow JRTI from California to Florida. The tow time would be about 28 days via the Panama Canal.

This would only be an interim solution for occasional times of busy schedule, and only work if the West Coast ASDS was not busy, but it'd be an option until flight rates are consistently higher than one ASDS can handle. I ought to add that it's never been an option before, and isn't now, due to the ASDS being too wide for the Panama Canal locks, but that's only true until the Panama Canal expansion opens (near the end of this month).

I think you are underestimating the amount of time needed to transit the canal, including scheduling delays and canal bureaucracy.  Especially when the new locks are newly-opened (for the rest of this year) I'd expect a good deal of unpredictable delay as the canal authority ramps up and does initial operations debugging, etc.

OTOH, your point about the new locks is a good one: it's possible that the new locks could make the transit "cheap enough" (in labor and time) to make a temporary transit worth it.

Still: If I had to place a bet, I'd wager that JRtI never leaves the Pacific.

I'm assuming (always a dangerous thing) that the rules for the enlarged locks will be the same as for the current locks (which will remain); you can get expedited, no-wait transit via paying an extra fee. Worth it, if you're in a hurry (I've been on ships that have done it). You're probably right regarding debugging the new locks, but I suspect that'll be largely behind them by fall. For transit, you'll still have to wait for a grouping going your way (they use a convoy system for the cut, etc), but that's a few hours, not days.
I also based my voyage on 6 knots max, though there are reports that JRTI was seen at 7 off Mexico, where it'd also be dealing with an oncoming current. 

My hypothetical scenario was SpaceX, now with two pads at the Cape, plus some processing improvements, finds itself looking at a launch a week for several weeks (none with RTLS margins),  but nothing out of Vandenburg. In such a case, they might decide to move JRTI to the Cape. Or, for the first FH launch (Assuming that's out of the cape). Doing so might be preferable to losing a core or delaying some launches. I was assuming that JRTI had a dedicated tug (Rhea) so the cost of moving would be minimal (basically just fuel), but apparently I was wrong because Rhea if off Panama right now.

My further guess is that, long term, the solution will be a few ASDS V 1.1; an improved ASDS (based on lessons learned operationally) that are owned hulls, have some of what's currently above deck (fuel cells, electronics boxes) below decks, and are perhaps slightly longer (to allow duel FH landings). And, perhaps, self-propelled and capable of trailing the support ship.




Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1028 on: 06/07/2016 10:23 PM »
My further guess is that, long term, the solution will be a few ASDS V 1.1; an improved ASDS (based on lessons learned operationally) that are owned hulls, have some of what's currently above deck (fuel cells, electronics boxes) below decks, and are perhaps slightly longer (to allow duel FH landings). And, perhaps, self-propelled and capable of trailing the support ship.

I feel Self-Propelled and Dual Landings will not be considered because you never want to risk blowing up more stuff than necessary.

Offline mme

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1029 on: 06/07/2016 10:40 PM »
My further guess is that, long term, the solution will be a few ASDS V 1.1; an improved ASDS (based on lessons learned operationally) that are owned hulls, have some of what's currently above deck (fuel cells, electronics boxes) below decks, and are perhaps slightly longer (to allow duel FH landings). And, perhaps, self-propelled and capable of trailing the support ship.

I feel Self-Propelled and Dual Landings will not be considered because you never want to risk blowing up more stuff than necessary.
That and the boosters will likely RTLS as they will separate low and slow.
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Offline CJ

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1030 on: 06/07/2016 11:48 PM »
My further guess is that, long term, the solution will be a few ASDS V 1.1; an improved ASDS (based on lessons learned operationally) that are owned hulls, have some of what's currently above deck (fuel cells, electronics boxes) below decks, and are perhaps slightly longer (to allow duel FH landings). And, perhaps, self-propelled and capable of trailing the support ship.

I feel Self-Propelled and Dual Landings will not be considered because you never want to risk blowing up more stuff than necessary.

IMHO, you have an excellent point on dual landings and the risk factors, so I happily concede that point. 

I don't see the connection regarding self-propelled? How would that be placing anything more at risk (anything more than otherwise is)? The only things keeping the current ASDSs from being self propelled are limited fuel bunkerage and, perhaps, safety regs.  The later could, theoretically, be worked around via having a single crewman aboard for port and transit, equipped with a joysitick controller. No extra engines or drivetrain needed; if I'm reading the specs on those thrustmasters correctly, the four of them would provide sufficient thrust. You'd still need a support ship, but this would spare them the tug costs. (or... build a support ship out of a tug, so it could do both jobs).

I think I also goofed in calling the next generation of ASDS V 1.1; one reflection, the current ASDS are upgrades from the original (bow walls, blast walls, etc) so those would be V 1.1,  so maybe a next generation would be V 1.2.

That and the boosters will likely RTLS as they will separate low and slow.

That's a very good point for the first FH launch, though for later launches, it would probably (IMHO) depend on the payload and mission requirements.


Offline AC in NC

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1031 on: 06/08/2016 01:05 AM »
I feel Self-Propelled and Dual Landings will not be considered because you never want to risk blowing up more stuff than necessary.

IMHO, you have an excellent point on dual landings and the risk factors, so I happily concede that point. 

I don't see the connection regarding self-propelled? How would that be placing anything more at risk (anything more than otherwise is)? The only things keeping the current ASDSs from being self propelled are limited fuel bunkerage and, perhaps, safety regs.

That fuel bunkerage was what I was thinking about.  Right now they just have to fuel generators.  I strongly suspect the landings are now good enough that you can begin to discount the idea of a catastrophic lawn dart scenario.  However, given SpaceX bare bones approach to many of these decisions, I suspect they are happy with the tug setup.



« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 01:10 AM by AC in NC »

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1032 on: 06/08/2016 02:20 AM »


Still: If I had to place a bet, I'd wager that JRtI never leaves the Pacific.

I'm assuming (always a dangerous thing) that the rules for the enlarged locks will be the same as for the current locks (which will remain); you can get expedited, no-wait transit via paying an extra fee.

Just-in-time transits are limited to one per day in each direction, and there's a daily auction for the price.  You need to win the auction to take advantage of it.  Regular transit delays have been four to eight days.

I just don't think the timing is going to work out to make this useful.  FH will be tested in Dec with two or thee core RTLS. 

We've also looked hard for any sign there would be a near-term addition to the ASDS fleet, and have not found any evidence.  We know where all of the MARMACs are.

Again, if I were to bet: the fleet stays the same size and on the same coasts until the end of 2016.

Offline IntoTheVoid

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1033 on: 06/08/2016 05:16 AM »
I think I also goofed in calling the next generation of ASDS V 1.1; one reflection, the current ASDS are upgrades from the original (bow walls, blast walls, etc) so those would be V 1.1,  so maybe a next generation would be V 1.2.

Why do you think it would be V1.2? Especially if they make it capable of self-propulsion to the landing site, it would very clearly be called the ASDS Full Thrust.  8)
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 05:18 AM by IntoTheVoid »

Offline darkenfast

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1034 on: 06/08/2016 10:08 AM »
I think the information that we are missing is: what does it cost to lease, modify and outfit a Marmac-300 (or similar) barge?  As ships of their tonnage go, they are pretty cheap, but it is still a good bit of money by the time it's in service as an ASDS.  I think they will eventually need a second one on the East Coast if they are as successful as they expect to be.

Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1035 on: 06/08/2016 12:14 PM »
Darkenfast: not *quite* that simple: the existing MARMAC barges are all in use, as far as we can tell.  To make another ASDS, it may [*] be necessary either to have another one built from scratch (or convince someone else to build it, if they want to continue to lease not own), or else create a new "class" of ASDS based on another barge type.  And if they make another class, they have to account for the ongoing operations impact of having multiple types of ASDS.  They also have to weigh the opportunity cost of building another right now *before* any lessons learned (from FH, for instance).  Any changes they make to the ASDS platform have to be multiplied across all the ships in their fleet.

And you left out ongoing operations costs, once the ASDS is outfitted.  That may include lease of additional support ships, as well as the costs to have your metal and electronics continue to be submerged in/exposed to corrosive salt water day after day.  Boats leak money as long as they are in or near the water.


[*] There are two MARMACs which aren't ASDSes.  One of them (MARMAC 300) is the former JRtI; our assumption was that there is some good reason it was decommissioned and replaced, like hull weakness or some such, so it's not likely to ever be reconstituted as an ASDS.  The other one we are watching, but has just been refitted for another non-SpaceX job so is unlikely to become an ASDS in the near term, although it's possible it might get another chance after its current job is done.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 12:21 PM by cscott »

Offline JamesH65

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1036 on: 06/08/2016 12:48 PM »
Surely there must be other likely barges that could be used? Or are barges this size (or larger) a rarity?

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1037 on: 06/08/2016 01:51 PM »
Darkenfast: not *quite* that simple: the existing MARMAC barges are all in use, as far as we can tell.  To make another ASDS, it may [*] be necessary either to have another one built from scratch (or convince someone else to build it, if they want to continue to lease not own), or else create a new "class" of ASDS based on another barge type.  And if they make another class, they have to account for the ongoing operations impact of having multiple types of ASDS.  They also have to weigh the opportunity cost of building another right now *before* any lessons learned (from FH, for instance).  Any changes they make to the ASDS platform have to be multiplied across all the ships in their fleet.

And you left out ongoing operations costs, once the ASDS is outfitted.  That may include lease of additional support ships, as well as the costs to have your metal and electronics continue to be submerged in/exposed to corrosive salt water day after day.  Boats leak money as long as they are in or near the water.


[*] There are two MARMACs which aren't ASDSes.  One of them (MARMAC 300) is the former JRtI; our assumption was that there is some good reason it was decommissioned and replaced, like hull weakness or some such, so it's not likely to ever be reconstituted as an ASDS.  The other one we are watching, but has just been refitted for another non-SpaceX job so is unlikely to become an ASDS in the near term, although it's possible it might get another chance after its current job is done.
I don't think ASDS duty is more difficult on a barge.  In fact it is probably lighter, since the barge is barely loaded.  (Though it dies make oceanic trips).

The main reason they switched barges is that they did a "make before break".

Also if the operator had 3 barges, and 2 of them have been taken away on a semi permanent basis, I'd expect the operator to commission at least one more...
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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1038 on: 06/08/2016 03:13 PM »
Has anyone tried just straight up contacting Marmac and asking them?
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Offline Kabloona

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Re: SpaceX's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship Discussion Thread 3
« Reply #1039 on: 06/08/2016 03:29 PM »
Has anyone tried just straight up contacting Marmac and asking them?

Ummm....yes, some time ago. My source at McDonough Marine told me they are not currently building/refitting any more ASDS barges for SpaceX and he doesn't know of anyone in their area near New Orleans who is, though he mentioned Weeks Marine as having the capacity to do so.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39766.msg1523336#msg1523336

He did opine that at some point SpaceX *might* want to build/refit their own barge, and that it would take maybe 5-7 months for a refit, or 12 months for a ground-up build, but he has no knowledge of any such plans.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2016 03:44 PM by Kabloona »

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