Author Topic: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations  (Read 102798 times)

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #180 on: 03/12/2017 06:12 PM »
So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.

You're looking at this backwards.  Those recovered rockets are assets that don't have to be built again and again in the future.

Expendable rockets waste everything.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Online kevinof

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #181 on: 03/12/2017 06:27 PM »
That's the old airline quote but their aircraft are usually financed so yes they lose money every hour they are idle. With Space X recovered boosters aren't costing them anything in financing and a flyable refurbished booster means they don't have to go build a new one.

So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.

Online DAZ

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #182 on: 03/12/2017 06:42 PM »
That's the old airline quote but their aircraft are usually financed so yes they lose money every hour they are idle. With Space X recovered boosters aren't costing them anything in financing and a flyable refurbished booster means they don't have to go build a new one.

So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.

Actually, it's not that they're losing money it's that they are not making money. The more they fly the more money they can make.

It costs money to store them, transport them and to refurbish them. If you were to not spend this money and of course not fly them you would not be losing this money. But obviously, if you don't spend this money then you can't make money from these used boosters. The idea obviously is to spend as little money as possible to reuse them.

There is a truism that goes like this. You will spend 90% of your money to get the last 10% of your performance. Without knowing exactly what all the various cost factors are you can't determine when you are approaching this point. It could very likely be as others have pointed out that the goal is 24 hours to refurbish the boosters and they are then put back into the processing line like a new booster would be. The fact that it may take an additional week for this use booster to eventually be used is not really a factor in reuse as these additional times and costs are the same as for a new booster.

Online macpacheco

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #183 on: 03/12/2017 07:19 PM »
So SX will likely have to contend with storing perhaps 30 boosters (including FH components) at the Cape.

Assuming a booster costs 30M that would be 900M tied up in idling hardware. And not just idling, being actively worked on for refurbishment (otherwise it would be used). Every minute the booster isn't flying it's losing money. And a lot.
After the first flight the boosters are fully paid up assets. The only truly negative cost is storage. Neither one of us have the numbers, but I'm pretty confident that the 4 months duration on refurbishing SES-10 was cheaper than making a new booster any ways.
You must prove that partial reuse is worse than fully expendable. I believe you can't prove that in a credible way.
Cherry picking biases studies doesn't count.
I wouldn't be surprised if refurb is down to 1 month in less than a year from now. And when I say 1 month, it doesn't mean someone is working on the booster for 30 days, just that 1 month is the time until the booster is available to mating with a 2nd stage and static firing. Actual resources consumed like isn't very proportional to the duration of the refurb.
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Offline dror

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #184 on: 03/12/2017 07:25 PM »
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #185 on: 03/12/2017 07:37 PM »
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?

If their goal is 24 hours from landing to when the stage is ready for payload integration, that pretty much means the stage is not leaving the launch area.  If there is an issue with the stage that has to be dealt with, like an engine change out or tanks need to be revalidated, then the stage could be shipped somewhere.

But otherwise they appear to be planning for all refurbishment to be happening either at the landing site, the payload integration facility, or points between.
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 Folgers25

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #186 on: 03/12/2017 08:04 PM »
Does "improved reusability" for B5 means that they need to have facilities to support refurbishment in every launch site or will it be done in Hawthorn and Mcgregor?
What are the necessary facilities in the lanch sites?

They are putting some work into facilities. SpaceX is leasing the old Spacehab building at the port and plan to build another hangar next to it. In addition to that, they have a hangar at LZ-1.
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Online nacnud

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #187 on: 03/12/2017 08:09 PM »
You probably want to refurb the boosters away from landing and launch sites as those buildings would be evacuated during launching and landing operations.

Offline Zardar

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #188 on: 03/12/2017 08:46 PM »
How do we expect to see B5 cores debut?
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2, or will they take the less-risky option of flying one stage first?

I've added a poll (my first poll!) to facilitate some discussion/analysis of this sub-topic.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42510.0

Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #189 on: 03/13/2017 12:06 AM »

Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,

It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.

Offline old_sellsword

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #190 on: 03/13/2017 12:10 AM »

Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,

It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.

What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.

Online Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #191 on: 03/13/2017 05:33 AM »
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,
It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.
What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.

The 2nd stage would have it's own evolutionary path to follow that is separate from what pushes it uphill, and for all we know it reached it's final configuration before the 1st stage did.  The 1st stage is far more complicated than the 2nd stage, with some of the improvements being focused specifically on reusability.
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 old_sellsword

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #192 on: 03/13/2017 10:12 AM »
Will SpaceX first launch a B5 S1 together with a B5 S2,
It isn't question.  There is no mixing blocks.  Both will be produced and flying together.
What about when they refly landed boosters with new second stages? Those old first stages should be Block 3, and the second stages could be Block 4.

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.

The 2nd stage would have it's own evolutionary path to follow that is separate from what pushes it uphill, and for all we know it reached it's final configuration before the 1st stage did.  The 1st stage is far more complicated than the 2nd stage, with some of the improvements being focused specifically on reusability.

Previous Block changes included both stages; stretching both stages, changing stage separation mechanisms, upgrading engines.

There's really no evidence that a Block upgrade is solely for a first stage, especially with what Jim just said.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #193 on: 03/13/2017 10:17 AM »
To NASA two aspects of block 5 are important. One is the change to Merlin turbopumps to eliminate cracks. The other is a frozen design which relates to the whole rocket, not the booster. So I believe they will do one revision change.

They may or may not fly older revisions on reuse flights for an overlap period.

Offline Johnnyhinbos

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #194 on: 03/13/2017 10:26 AM »
SpaceX has said that the COPV issue short term fix was done through changes to the loading process and that the long term fix was via hardware changes. Therefore, if Block 5 is the final iteration for the F9 system, then any hardware changes to the pressurization system will need to be rolled up into Block 5. This alone proves there will be Block 5 changes to the second stage and could very well explain why a new second stage structural test stand has appeared at McGreggor...
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Offline MP99

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #195 on: 03/13/2017 11:39 AM »


Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing. And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume, you could probably fit in the existing fairing (though we already know SpaceX is building another fairing).

Who said "nothing is allowed to change"? Saying Block 5 is the last major variant of Falcon 9 is not the same as saying nothing (including the fairing) will change. At a minimum, I expect the fairing and probably the payload adapter to change. Also, we also know that SpaceX is pursuing some vertical integration capability.

If the fairing is volume limited, they might do something to integrate it more with their dispenser / adapter. Maybe hard points in the adapter which supports the fairing, which might allow more of the internal volume to be used.

I had considered that the adapter might be integrated with the fairing and retained through to deployment, but that would only make sense if they moved towards US recovery on those flights.

Cheers, Martin


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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #196 on: 03/13/2017 12:04 PM »


Semmel: Why would they only do 20 satellites per launch??? OneWeb is doing 80 on New Glenn, and Falcon Heavy has a bit more payload. Falcon Heavy is cheaper per kilogram than F9, and has less hardware expended per kilogram than F9 or New Glenn. For the same number of upper stages produced, SpaceX can launch almost 3x as much payload to LEO. And only have one fairing pair to recover (or build) instead of 3.

Seriously, stop with this artificial constraint of just 20 satellites per launch.

No, I dont think so. If you accept the premise that F9B5 is the last version and nothing is allowed to change, FH will not help.

Maybe they will use FH for the internet constellation, but I wouldnt count on it. Because you would need a bigger fairing. I dont even think 20 sats will fit inside the current fairing. Also the current integration process has the payload suspended and raised on the fairing. Because of that, F9 or FH is not capable of launching more than 10 mT inside a fairing. Therefore, if you buy the premise that F9B5 will be frozen, a new fairing is off the books and FH will not help.
False. We already KNOW that SpaceX is building a larger fairing. And these satellites are small. Around half a ton and thus probably less than a cubic meter in volume, you could probably fit in the existing fairing (though we already know SpaceX is building another fairing).

Who said "nothing is allowed to change"? Saying Block 5 is the last major variant of Falcon 9 is not the same as saying nothing (including the fairing) will change. At a minimum, I expect the fairing and probably the payload adapter to change. Also, we also know that SpaceX is pursuing some vertical integration capability.

If the fairing is volume limited, they might do something to integrate it more with their dispenser / adapter. Maybe hard points in the adapter which supports the fairing, which might allow more of the internal volume to be used.

I had considered that the adapter might be integrated with the fairing and retained through to deployment, but that would only make sense if they moved towards US recovery on those flights.

Cheers, Martin
I was thinking exactly that - a much lower cost and weight fairing that does not enclose the payload without touching it, but is more of a cover, anchored to the dispenser assembly.

I know they said they're done with S2, but the amount of launches is staggering, and the incentive is high..
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Offline Jim

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #197 on: 03/13/2017 01:14 PM »

I've never heard the 2nd stage being referenced as going through the same upgrades as the 1st stage, so I think "block changes" for the 1st stage are limited to just the 1st stage.


No, block changes cover the whole vehicle.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #198 on: 03/13/2017 01:25 PM »
To NASA two aspects of block 5 are important. One is the change to Merlin turbopumps to eliminate cracks. The other is a frozen design which relates to the whole rocket, not the booster. So I believe they will do one revision change.

They may or may not fly older revisions on reuse flights for an overlap period.

I can imagine SpaceX flying out a few missions with the current recovered cores then move right to everything being block 5 reuse after those start flying.

If they are going to be significantly easier to refurbish then reuse the older cores will be less cost effective.  Also, only way to get good with the block 5's is to re-use them.

Edit: When I worked in manufacturer the night mare was when you had more than 1 revision of any product in flow at a time.  It's possible but adds a lot of effort to keep things straight.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2017 01:36 PM by wannamoonbase »
Excited to be finally into the first Falcon Heavy flow, we are getting so close!

Offline intrepidpursuit

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #199 on: 03/13/2017 05:45 PM »
Everything SpaceX has said so far leads me to believe that all reuse so far has been considered testing. SES-10 will be considered a reuse test as well, just as every many other flights have had operational missions and reuse testing together. Turn around operations have been exploratory and not aimed at speed or even accuracy primarily, but at discovery.

Once Block 5 is out, reuse become operational. At that point they will aim to reduce S1 production and refly where possible. They will then be testing and flushing out operational turnaround times and flushing out bugs in the process. Undoubtedly the contracts are setup with operational reuse in mind and it will no longer be up to the customer where their stage comes from.

We have never seen the whole F9 flow in operational mode at this point. If they can't start achieving 2 week turn around and regular reuse within a short time after B5 is flying, then I'll start to worry. Right now, they are still finishing putting all the pieces in place.

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