Author Topic: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations  (Read 165323 times)

Offline Danderman

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #100 on: 03/10/2017 03:23 PM »
Or F9B5 will be used as a testbed for some future rocket that is intended for more frequent re-use.

I would imagine that some Raptor-based stage with fewer main engines and maybe some smaller engines for fine control and a wider base may be flying down the road.

Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #101 on: 03/10/2017 03:26 PM »

Either F9B5 is capable of achieving single-dayish turnaround


Never was an F9 requirement and physically impossible.  The vehicle nor the launch site infrastructure can support it.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 03:28 PM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #102 on: 03/10/2017 03:29 PM »
Or F9B5 will be used as a testbed for some future rocket that is intended for more frequent re-use.

I would imagine that some Raptor-based stage with fewer main engines and maybe some smaller engines for fine control and a wider base may be flying down the road.


Not as a Falcon 9 nor flying from the same pads.

Offline meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #103 on: 03/10/2017 03:30 PM »
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.
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Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #104 on: 03/10/2017 03:34 PM »
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.

Time of refurbishment and time between launches are two different things.  24 hr refurb would mean that the stage is now the same as a new stage that was just offloaded from a truck and it now enters the launch flow.

Stage mate and checkout; mate to TEL and checkout; and payload mate and checkout are all basically one day operations each.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 03:37 PM by Jim »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #105 on: 03/10/2017 03:46 PM »
My impression, from Shotwell's CRS-10 press conference and other things, is that Falcon 9 Block 5 is primarily being developed to support Crew Dragon.  Man-rating, in other words. 

This version would then also, presumably, be used for unmanned launches.  But there is still that question of Block 4, isn't there?

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« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 03:47 PM by edkyle99 »

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #106 on: 03/10/2017 03:57 PM »
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elonís given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and itís not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?
Ready in theory, maybe. In practice, a BIG NO !
Being capable by design doesn't make it wise to push it that hard.
Just recovering the booster from LZ, mating the 2nd stage, doing a static fire, mating the payload, review everything and launch is optimistically a week long job.
I expect static fires to be kept until SX can do 50 successful launches in a row. Otherwise insurers will scream.
There's barely enough time to land a booster, take it to the barn, mate the 2nd stage (with a pre mated payload) and bring it to the pad in 24 hours.
A single loss of payload has a far bigger impact at SX operations than saving a week / launch.
I would expect the shortest land->relaunch cycles that F9 will achieve until its retired to be 2 weeks. That gives time for some inspections.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #107 on: 03/10/2017 04:03 PM »
Haven't seen this mentioned, but Gwynne Shotwell said this about the Falcon 9 development target:
Quote from: Gwynne Shotwell
I think Elonís given us 24 hours, maybe, to get done what we need to get done, and itís not a million people around a rocket scurrying like a beehive or an anthill. That vehicle needs to be designed to be reflown right away

So, can we assume that F9B5 will be ready to fly again the next day after a launch?
Ready in theory, maybe. In practice, a BIG NO !
Being capable by design doesn't make it wise to push it that hard.
Just recovering the booster from LZ, mating the 2nd stage, doing a static fire, mating the payload, review everything and launch is optimistically a week long job.
I expect static fires to be kept until SX can do 50 successful launches in a row. Otherwise insurers will scream.
There's barely enough time to land a booster, take it to the barn, mate the 2nd stage (with a pre mated payload) and bring it to the pad in 24 hours.
A single loss of payload has a far bigger impact at SX operations than saving a week / launch.
I would expect the shortest land->relaunch cycles that F9 will achieve until its retired to be 2 weeks. That gives time for some inspections.
I know all that.

I'm going by what GS said though.

She was very specific about "the rocket" being ready within a day, in the same sentence she was describing F9.

Make if it what you will - that's why I said it was a conundrum...

Either she's​ wrong or talking about BFR, or F9B5 is designed for next day usability (which might happen only later on) or there will be further modifications to F9.

She clearly was not talking about launching a different rocket on the next day.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 04:04 PM by meekGee »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #108 on: 03/10/2017 04:13 PM »
GS's quote was:

"Shotwell said it took SpaceX roughly four months to refurbish the Falcon 9 first stage for the SES-10 mission. In the near-term, she said, that will drop below two months, and eventually down to a single day."  (Followed by the "Elon gave us 24 hours, maybe" quote)

So you can add option #4: GS was mixing up BFR and F9.  Definitely possible.

Time of refurbishment and time between launches are two different things.  24 hr refurb would mean that the stage is now the same as a new stage that was just offloaded from a truck and it now enters the launch flow.

Stage mate and checkout; mate to TEL and checkout; and payload mate and checkout are all basically one day operations each.

A good point.

I think Shotwell and Musk are talking about stage availability only, knowing that payload mate and checkout are factors related to the payload.  Musk may also be assuming that there will be some payloads in the future that are simple enough that they could be mated and checked out quickly enough to make a 24 hour turnaround.

I don't view the 24 hour statement as an absolute, but to provide guidance on what they think is possible.  However it will be customer demand that determines if 24 hour availability actually ends up being the norm...
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Offline meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #109 on: 03/10/2017 04:31 PM »
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.

« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 05:25 PM by meekGee »
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Offline jpo234

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #110 on: 03/10/2017 06:03 PM »
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #111 on: 03/10/2017 07:14 PM »
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.

I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
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Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #112 on: 03/10/2017 07:28 PM »

1.  - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
2.  - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day"


1.  It has be stated by many different people that F9B5 is the last revision.
2.  It can't be that big of leap due to certification and the limits of the existing hardware.

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #113 on: 03/10/2017 07:32 PM »
Another option is: "we don't accurately understand what the long pole in the tent is for refurbishment, but it's not an inherent property of the rocket." A variant: "we don't accurately understand the scope of changes called a 'Block', and Block 5 means GSE interfaces are fixed, but there might be on-going low level tweaks to materials, part robustness, etc in response to wear patterns observed."

I think both of these deficiencies in *our* knowledge are far far more likely than the president of SpaceX mis-speaking.

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #114 on: 03/10/2017 07:46 PM »
I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
What if most of the "refurb" is actually non destructive testing, just in case replacement of some components, and a relatively minimal truly critical refurb work ?
Once 2nd and 3rd reflights happen successfully, and testing doesn't show problems beyond what was already expected, then some testing and refurb can be safely retired.
We know essentially nothing about how critical and how complex the work performed was. Just how long it took.
Its easy to be pessimistic or optimistic depending on how you interpret GS and EM's statements.
We just don't know.
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Offline meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #115 on: 03/10/2017 07:49 PM »
I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
What if most of the "refurb" is actually non destructive testing, just in case replacement of some components, and a relatively minimal truly critical refurb work ?
Once 2nd and 3rd reflights happen successfully, and testing doesn't show problems beyond what was already expected, then some testing and refurb can be safely retired.
We know essentially nothing about how critical and how complex the work performed was. Just how long it took.
Its easy to be pessimistic or optimistic depending on how you interpret GS and EM's statements.
We just don't know.

That would make sense, but would imply that quick turnaround of F9 is closer than we think, door #2.
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Offline rsdavis9

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #116 on: 03/10/2017 07:57 PM »
I think gwynn was talking about f9 turn around and just stated the eventual goal in general that elon's said a number of times. 24 hr turn around. She just strung the two together and we are parsing every word she says beyond what a human person came accurately express. They probably don't know how far f9 will get in terms of turn around time.

Aircraft have huge amounts of flight history, have conservative hours until check of some system or bearing or rebuild.
Boosters will eventually get there. Its going to take awhile. This is assuming that the design is frozen and it flies enough. Something that may never happen because of the rapid innovation of new booster designs.

« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 09:17 PM by rsdavis9 »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #117 on: 03/10/2017 08:39 PM »
So....

A. - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
B. - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
C. - GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.

"C" can be ruled out, since both Musk and Shotwell have been consistent on what they have been saying.  No daylight between them.

"A" can be ruled out by virtue of what Musk has stated about the Block 5 being the last major revision to the Falcon 9.

"B" is likely the closest, but I don't see it so much as a "major leap" as that it addresses the issues they know of today from a design standpoint - iterative improvements.

As to the refurbishment time decreasing, that I see is part of learning over time what their maintenance check periods should be.  Let's all remember that there won't be that many rockets flying compared to the commercial aircraft industry, even when the commercial aircraft industry was young.  Not even our experiences with the Shuttle orbiter will be able to provide enough guidance on 1st stage stresses and component wear.  So they are planning on not overcommitting - unusual for them I know...   ;)
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Offline jpo234

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #118 on: 03/10/2017 08:55 PM »
Hey, I agree with the assessment that this is seemingly an over-aggressive statement.  I wasn't the one that made it though. A pretty senior SpaceX exec did.

If you re-read the quote and context, she's talking about the same rocket.  Not "launch some rocket the next day".

It may well turn out to be door #3 - that she's flat out wrong.  Though why she'd choose to go there when nobody asked her to, I don't know.
I think Jim is right. What she meant is, that the refurbishment should take 24 hours. After the refurbishment the stage is ready again to enter the launch flow which will take a few days. The time line without unforeseen delays could look like this:

* Day 0: Launch with RTLS
* Day 1: Refurbishment
* Days 2..4: Stage mate, TEL and payload mate (according to Jim)
* Day 5: Next Launch

Add some buffer days and the round-trip time becomes a week.

I have no problem with this timeline that you wrote out, but it doesn't solve the conundrum.

GS said the first reused stage took 4 month to refurbish, and they'll work it down to 2 months.  But then they're aiming for 1 day, with minimal manpower.

I think we're all in agreement that the current stage can't even come close to doing this.  There are also very vocal voices saying "there will be no major revisions beyond F9B5".

So....

- Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
- GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
- GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.
Have a look at the time line. 24 hours refurbishment time enables about one flight per week (because of the other, non-refurbishment activities). The 24 hours are the time it takes to stuff the stage back into the pipeline.
This would nicely reconcile the statement by Gwynne Shotwell and Jim.
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Offline old_sellsword

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #119 on: 03/10/2017 09:16 PM »
So....

A. - Either GS's statement is referring to future planned revision beyond F9B5 (So F9B5 is not the last revision), or
B. - GS's statement means F9B5 is a much bigger leap forward than people imagine, and is designed to eventually support "being refurbished in about a day" - never mind if it gets launched right away, or
C. - GS's statement is wrong.

That was it.  I didn't make any statement as to which option is more likely.

"C" can be ruled out, since both Musk and Shotwell have been consistent on what they have been saying.  No daylight between them.

Just because they're saying the same thing doesn't mean they're both right. We all know SpaceX likes to shoot for extremely lofty goals, just listen to Elon during his IAC speech when he mentions "upwards of a thousand spaceships waiting in orbit" for the Mars transfer burn. I'd argue that this one day refurbishment remark falls into the same category of yet another one of SpaceX's idealistic goals, not a realistic timeframe we're likely to see for at least a decade.

Trying to reconcile statements like this with the current state of affairs is a waste of time frankly.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 09:22 PM by old_sellsword »

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