Author Topic: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion  (Read 312812 times)

Offline JamesH65

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #60 on: 03/09/2017 10:23 AM »

*ALL* SpaceX has to do is increase reliability as fast as possible to close to Atlas levels, get cadence and predictability down pat, and prove out that reuse lets them get their costs to 30M a launch or so... *ALL* they have to do is all of that and there isn't much room for a 150M a launch provider except for very high end specialty/government payloads.


and, and, and, and......

Yeah, and if a frog had wings

The bet would be straight up.  There is no weasling out with odds.  Either you put up or ....

And becoming the American Proton doesn't count.  That is a pyrrhic victory.

Lots of AND's and yet, here we are, I believe SpaceX have already achieved quite a few AND's that people didn't think they could do.  Can they keep achieving AND's?

BO and SpaceX are both run by very (very) clever people, with very clever teams behind them. Both come from a agile background, both want results quickly, at least one of them has an colossal amount of money to play with.

The market IS going to change. Whether ULA survives the change, well, I suspect they will. But perhaps not in their current form. 

There is a parallel in science. Science relies on questioning and change, not blind belief. Copernicus, Newton, Einstein. All step changes in the description of the world around us. All required scientists coming in and shaking things up.

If ULA think they are doing everything right, and nothings need to change, and they can just continue the way they are, they are relying on blind faith they are right. That is a bad place to be.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #61 on: 03/09/2017 11:06 AM »
I doubt that Blue Origin can upset SpaceX. SpaceX has the Raptor coming which will be a far superior engine to BE-4. They have the manufacturing experience to pull even on production.

What might happen is that they have to concentrate on an equivalent of the New Glenn ahead of ITS. I am sure their plan is to have it and cancel the Falcon family but after ITS.

In one vision of the future the F9 Block 5 might not be around for too long. If SpaceX decided that they need something similar to the New Glenn. Since they already have one in stealth development. The ITS Spaceship could be modified into a configuration that matches the Falcon Heavy/New Glenn class performance.

Using 9 regular Raptors and removing everything in front of the propellant tankage. Insert an interstage fairing. Build a upper stage using the ITS Spaceship tooling with a Vacuum Raptor. You could even use the current SpaceX payload fairing with an adapter fairing. Voila the SpaceX version of the New Glenn. Just fractionally more powerful with 9 Raptors in the core.

SpaceX can later combine the upper stage and payload fairing into unitary biconic reusable unit. Yes, I have created a demi-BFR design.




Online IanThePineapple

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #62 on: 03/09/2017 11:38 AM »
That would cost so much in design and pad changes, SpaceX will never do that. I'm almost certain Block 5 will not be the last version, but SpaceX would never completely rebuild F9. Too much money and pad downtime as they upgrade the pads.

Offline JamesH65

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #63 on: 03/09/2017 01:19 PM »
That would cost so much in design and pad changes, SpaceX will never do that. I'm almost certain Block 5 will not be the last version, but SpaceX would never completely rebuild F9. Too much money and pad downtime as they upgrade the pads.

And yet SpaceX have specifically said the Block 5 will be the last iteration of F9....

(Note, there will be changes in block 5 craft, just the minor bug fixes and improvements that that always happen)

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #64 on: 03/09/2017 01:31 PM »
Someone should ask SX reps at a press, if they are going to build a raptor based rocket for commercial use (other than the ITS rocket).

My guess is, eventually - yes, but not soon. Once they have the block 5 F9 set, the R&D teams could either get 100% focused on ITS, or split effort between it and a smaller methane/raptor based rocket. The won't rush either. Maybe at least 10 years in the future and together with a different launch pad.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #65 on: 03/09/2017 02:13 PM »
Someone should ask SX reps at a press, if they are going to build a raptor based rocket for commercial use (other than the ITS rocket).

My guess is, eventually - yes, but not soon. Once they have the block 5 F9 set, the R&D teams could either get 100% focused on ITS, or split effort between it and a smaller methane/raptor based rocket. The won't rush either. Maybe at least 10 years in the future and together with a different launch pad.

A lot will depend on when EM wakes up with a random idea.  He's the controlling owner, he can largely decide what he wants to do.

Regarding Block 5, they can keep calling it Block 5 for a long time and just make minor changes as time goes on.  For all we know the Block 5 has the same fuselage/body/structure of FT with changes to the bolt on parts.

I agree that SpaceX needs to stabilize the design and fly it, fly it a lot.  Also, stabilizing the pads so they aren't being tweaked and modified will greatly help their launch cadence.
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Online Coastal Ron

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #66 on: 03/09/2017 03:04 PM »
One rocket company doesnt crumble to dust just because an other rocket company has a better or cheaper rocket. Especially not foreign ones. SX and BO might take a big part of the launch pie, but they will not eat the entire cake. Not even close. They might dominate the USA launch market though.

You have to think of this from the customer standpoint.

Do customers want lower launch prices?  Absolutely.

Do customers want to be locked into only one or two launch providers?  No.  Even today they make sure to spread around their business so that multiple launch providers can be available.

However Blue Origin is now an extra launch provider being added to the mix, so customers could feel justified in deciding to eliminate one of their previous backup providers.  Who, we don't know.  Yet.

For ULA the problem is that they will have a launcher that will be priced far below what they currently charge, but they require commercial customers in order to keep their launch rate high enough to be profitable.  ULA will have to find new customers that will want to abandon their previous backup providers, even though they won't know the reliability of the new Vulcan rocket.  Oh, and ULA will be offering an expendable rocket, while SpaceX and Blue Origin will be offering reusable ones, which could end up being not only a pricing challenge, but down the road it could end up being a competitive disadvantage.  The future is cloudy for them...
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 meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #67 on: 03/09/2017 03:20 PM »

It'll be a world with daily launches, manned and unmanned.


Not in this or the next decade.
This decade is almost over....

My prediction:

By 2025:

First ITS flew, multiple are being built.

Constellations are airborne, launch rates approaching 1/day.

Well, if you include all launches, manned and unmanned, then let's see:

SpaceX is targeting 20+ launches this year already. Probably around 50 launches per year by 2019, when they have 4 launch sites in operation. So that's already a launch a week, just from SpaceX, before this decade is out.

Add all other operators, and you are probably up to 2 launches a week, on average. A launch every third day, in other words. I guess you're correct that this could quite conceivably triple in cadence by the end of the 2020's, to a launch a day.
I was counting CommX launches assuming F9.

Just that is crazy.  That's why I still think an integrated reusable sat deployer has to happen, or else how are you going to launch 12000 sats?

5 year life span ==> 2400/yr

20 per fairing ==> 120 launches/yr

Once every 3 days, just on the CommX side.

So either the constellation plans don't have a way to be launched, or we're going to see changes to the launch vehicles.

*This is assuming the VLEO sats can last 5 years, or else the launch rate increases.

It also means they are fine waiting for 5 years for full capacity.

What about other constellations?  Some will wait for new Glenn. Some might ask for a ride.  Will SpaceX launch them?

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

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Online whitelancer64

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #68 on: 03/09/2017 03:24 PM »
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Online meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #69 on: 03/09/2017 03:30 PM »
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large
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Online whitelancer64

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #70 on: 03/09/2017 03:34 PM »
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large

I don't see how that's a justification for the assumption that they can only fit 20 satellites on the rocket.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline gospacex

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #71 on: 03/09/2017 03:42 PM »
One rocket company doesnt crumble to dust just because an other rocket company has a better or cheaper rocket. Especially not foreign ones. SX and BO might take a big part of the launch pie, but they will not eat the entire cake. Not even close. They might dominate the USA launch market though.

Did you see what's happening with Russian launch rate lately?

2012: Proton 11, total 29
2013: Proton 10, total 36
2014: Proton 8, total 37
2015: Proton 8, total 29
2016: Proton 3, total 19

Online meekGee

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #72 on: 03/09/2017 03:57 PM »
*snip*

Why 20/fairing?  Because these are not cubesats.  They need to talk to cellphones, which makes them even larger. The AO compatibility issue will not make them smaller or lighter either. They'll be at least as large as the LEO sats IMO.

F9 will have to RTLS to support these launch rates. So it's not drowning in performance.

The sats are probably a small spacecraft bus with large deployable antenna(s). We will know for sure when SpaceX unveils their design.
My guess is they will be made so that one launch can deploy all the satellites for a particular orbital plane.
Per the FCC permit application, the initial deployment will consist of 32 orbital planes with 50 satellites per plane. Subsequent deployments to an additional 51 orbital planes, with 50 or 75 satellites per orbital plane.
That's the LEO sats.

There's a certain minimum power required to sustain all the individual connections they want to have, at the data rates they want.  This will determine battery size, and in turn solar panel size.

They will need the main down antenna, and at least two uplinks to the LEO sats. (RF? Optical?)

I somehow this will end up large

I don't see how that's a justification for the assumption that they can only fit 20 satellites on the rocket.
The LEO sats were half a ton+, and meter-scale+...

So 4 per plane, 5 deep?  I mean, 20 is a ballpark estimate.  Suppose it is 30?

We'll see.
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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #73 on: 03/09/2017 04:26 PM »
How's this for being ambitious with (presumably block 5) booster 'refurbishment':

Here's a write-up of Gwynne Shotwell's remarks yesterday:

http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/

Contains some extra detail, such as:

Quote
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.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 04:33 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #74 on: 03/09/2017 04:55 PM »
How's this for being ambitious with (presumably block 5) booster 'refurbishment':

Here's a write-up of Gwynne Shotwell's remarks yesterday:

http://spacenews.com/shotwell-on-spacex-launch-backlog-we-will-definitely-catch-up/

Contains some extra detail, such as:

Quote
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.

2 months is adequate, 1 month would be incredible and likely produce more boosters faster than they can fly them.

Keep in mind the quantity of boosters they may have in rotation.  4 boosters in rotation on a 2 month turn around would yield a launch every 2 weeks.  A rate they haven't been close to sustaining yet.

SpaceX is a long way from needing a sub 1-month turn around on a booster.

« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 04:56 PM by wannamoonbase »
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #75 on: 03/09/2017 05:38 PM »
They will have 2 pads soon, they will need 3 boosters for FH. One month should still do well though. But a much shorter time will mean less man hours. It might then be done with people from the pad crew instead a separate crew. Plus max a handful specialists.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #76 on: 03/09/2017 05:46 PM »
This thread has me more concerned that I would have thought possible when starting to read through it.

So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

A more robust defensive strategy might have been to move to a New Glenn sized Raptor-powered rocket by 2020,  leaving ITS to wait for the 2030's. That would have meant that Blue Origin's New Glenn would be obsolete before its first flight, forcing them to waste even more time and money to go straight for a New Armstrong, if there was even a market for an Armstrong at that point.

That might have given SpaceX the time to build the ITS under far less pressure, while dominating the launch market for the next decade with their "Raptor Glenn" equivalent.

Instead, Elon has decided to jump straight from Falcon to ITS, which, as some have pointed out above, means that there is now a gap for Bezos to exploit until ITS comes online. And if ITS is delayed until say 2030, which is not at all impossible, then SpaceX is left with the inferior Merlin based Falcon Heavy as their only alternative offering to New Glenn.

Hence the continuing questions around the potential necessity (whether Elon is considering it right now or not) of a Raptor based upper stage for the future Falcon Heavy, to keep them going until ITS sees the light of day.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 05:47 PM by M.E.T. »

Online Lars-J

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #77 on: 03/09/2017 06:04 PM »
So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

Why? Because Bezos has far more resources (personal wealth) at his disposal. He can afford to take his time to tinker and build something "right". Musk/SpaceX never had  that luxury, they needed to deliver results quickly for customers and learn as they went.

But that still assumes that Bezos will be successful. There are lots of gotchas involved in building an orbital launch vehicle and even more so a partially reusable one, as SpaceX has discovered.

New Glenn is still years from flying. A lot can change.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 06:05 PM by Lars-J »

Offline cscott

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Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #78 on: 03/09/2017 06:07 PM »
F9 and New Glenn will compete on overall efficiency and cost, not merely pounds to orbit.  Let's see how they stack up in actual cost effective $/orbital pound once New Glenn is flying.  It's a bit premature to be calling F9 the "inferior" rocket.

Online whitelancer64

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates and Discussion
« Reply #79 on: 03/09/2017 06:23 PM »
This thread has me more concerned that I would have thought possible when starting to read through it.

So, in the hypothetical event that Bezos does succeed in doing to SpaceX what he did to many other first-mover companies in other industries, what is it that SpaceX would have done wrong, in hindsight? Why is Bezos able to move forward with a superior rocket to Falcon, while SpaceX is still trying to perfect Falcon a decade or more after their first flight?

*snip*

Hence the continuing questions around the potential necessity (whether Elon is considering it right now or not) of a Raptor based upper stage for the future Falcon Heavy, to keep them going until ITS sees the light of day.

SpaceX has had a few missteps, the losses of CRS-7 and Amos-6 are probably the worst - failures bite very hard and will throw a big wrench into even the best laid plans. Starting projects that become dead-ends due to changing plans are another, like the Falcon 5, F9R-Dev2 and building a launch site at Spaceport America it has never used, and so on. Constantly tinkering with / improving the rocket is either a bug or a feature, depending on your perspective.

I disagree that the New Glenn is a superior rocket to the Falcon. It's bigger, but not necessarily better.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

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