Author Topic: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations  (Read 164464 times)

Online RonM

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2287
  • Atlanta, Georgia USA
  • Liked: 1101
  • Likes Given: 873
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #80 on: 03/09/2017 06:27 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.

Yes, we won't really know for several years. Currently, NG is a PowerPoint rocket while F9 is operational. By the time NG is flying payloads, F9 Block 5 will be a workhorse with years of operational history.

Offline cambrianera

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1426
  • Liked: 307
  • Likes Given: 249
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #81 on: 03/09/2017 06:29 PM »
I don't really get the need for this thread, there are already threads where this has been discussed.  Also based on the first two posts it seems to be for rampant speculation, not updates.  Landing cradles and barge flyback of Block 5, really?  You seriously think that might happen?  RTLS of GTO missions?  This is Block 5 of Falcon 9, not ITS.

You were 100% right, this thread is gone wild...
Oh to be young again. . .

Offline Formica

  • Rocket Boi
  • Member
  • Posts: 67
  • Richmond, CA
  • Liked: 61
  • Likes Given: 422
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #82 on: 03/09/2017 06:32 PM »
From my perspective, based on publicly available information, Block 5 will be entirely evolutionary, and it's objective is design stability. Elon stated Block 5 is all about reusability and reliability improvements, and commercial crew requires seven flights before NASA will put people on it. These are both well established facts.

Based on these two facts, I believe there will be no cradles, barge flybacks, tank or stage size changes, etc. Block 5 will be a rocket that's a lot like what we see today that might have a bit more payload capacity and takes less time and resources to fly again than Block 3 does (four months per Shotwell for 1021, the booster being reused for SES-10).

That's my speculation 😁 I personally would like to know more about Block 4: whether we've seen it already and how it differs from Block 3, whether FH demo 1 will be all Block 3 or perhaps be a Block 4 core with two Block 3 boosters, etc. Not knowing this agitates my space nerdiness 😛
I'm just a space fan, please correct me if I'm wrong!

Offline old_sellsword

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 632
  • Liked: 530
  • Likes Given: 461
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #83 on: 03/09/2017 06:40 PM »
That's my speculation I personally would like to know more about Block 4: whether we've seen it already and how it differs from Block 3, whether FH demo 1 will be all Block 3 or perhaps be a Block 4 core with two Block 3 boosters, etc. Not knowing this agitates my space nerdiness

I agree with you, I'm more interested in this Block 4 that they're going to slip in before they introduce F9B5. My guess here is that 1032 was the first Block 4, mainly due to its full-duration burn at McGregor.

My speculation is that Block 4 introduces FH side booster compatibility, so Falcon Heavy side boosters will really just be Falcon 9 Blocks 4 or 5. The Thaicom 8 booster (1023) was definitely Block 3, so I'm curious as to whether or not they gave it an official overhaul and completely upgraded to Block 4, or if it's just a one-off thing that doesn't have a real name.

As for the center cores, I bet they get their own Block system, i.e. Falcon Heavy Block 1.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8051
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4297
  • Likes Given: 859
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #84 on: 03/09/2017 06:57 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.

BO's advantages are also its Achilles heel.  When as a company you're born with unlimited funding and no operational constraints, this is not a good thing. It permeates the corporate DNA.  Remember that to this day (and the next couple of years) BO doesn't have to meet a launch window, loft a payload, deal with... anything, really.

It is only natural that NG, being a brand new rocket, with no baggage, and 20/20 hindsight, will be a better rocket.  I mean, doh.  F9 had to create the reusable world into which NG fits.  Even NG's potential market for other constellation is driven by SpaceX push into that market.

But that's the problem with a follower - it can only follow to where the leader was a few years ago.

BO threw it all onto NG which will beat FH, but by that time, SpaceX is deep into something that much much bigger.  ITS is not just a bigger rocket.  It's a world-builder.

In short, if both companies execute to plan, SpaceX will be just fine, and get to do Mars colonization.  The rest is irrelevant.

« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 06:58 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline JamesH65

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 733
  • Liked: 450
  • Likes Given: 8
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #85 on: 03/09/2017 07:24 PM »
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8051
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4297
  • Likes Given: 859
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #86 on: 03/09/2017 07:48 PM »
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.

Not worrying.... estimating and comparing...

There's good reason to believe NG development will be faster.  Again, because they don't have to deal with pesky operations while developing.  And they don't have to figure out which direction to go...  F5?  Octaweb?  Barges?   SpaceX had to really innovate and figure out which of many directions to go to, while maintaining a balance with operations, keeping customers happy, etc.   BO doesn't have all of that. BO doesn't have to change direction - they are aiming for FH, very clearly.

However, at the end of the day, all they'd have built is what they perceive as a "better FH".  Which may or may not be so, but by the time it flies, they will have succeeded (maybe) in beating SpaceX at what SpaceX has already moved on from...

There's good reason to believe that by the time NG flies for the first time, SpaceX would already have a constellation in place.

That's the problem of the "follower".   China is trying to beat the US.  In some ways, being "fast followers" condemns you to always thinking in terms of "me too".  Same thing here.

Back to Block 5....

« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 07:55 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2912
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 660
  • Likes Given: 1065
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #87 on: 03/09/2017 08:09 PM »
Why does any of this need to be SpaceX versus BO.

I'm a space fan, if they both succeed then all of space nerds win.  I don't care what rocket or fuel or billionaire funds it.  I just want a moon base.

As for practical matters, by the time NG sees a launch pad the F9 family could have 100 launches under it's belt and be flying 20+ times a year.  BO will have a lot to learn to get to catch level of maturity.

We'll get to watch, so that's fun.
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline alang

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 216
  • Liked: 77
  • Likes Given: 6
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #88 on: 03/09/2017 08:35 PM »
Weird thread. People worrying about BO's rocket. And yet it hasn't been built or flown yet. It may indeed be a 'better' rocket than F9,but it still got 10 years of development to get through (I'm estimating the same amount of time it's taken F9, I see no reason why it wont be a similar order of magnitude). But once it is done, so what?  We have to assume they will reach similar levels of reusability, and probably refurbishment costs as well. So overall more expensive to launch as fuel costs will be higher. So it is going to have its market share, and F9/H is going to have it's own.

Meanwhile both companies are working on next gen - ITS and NA, again aimed at different markets.


As an aside, I wonder if CommX will use NG to launch some of their satellite fleet - they may need the capacity.

Not worrying.... estimating and comparing...

There's good reason to believe NG development will be faster.  Again, because they don't have to deal with pesky operations while developing.  And they don't have to figure out which direction to go...  F5?  Octaweb?  Barges?   SpaceX had to really innovate and figure out which of many directions to go to, while maintaining a balance with operations, keeping customers happy, etc.   BO doesn't have all of that. BO doesn't have to change direction - they are aiming for FH, very clearly.

However, at the end of the day, all they'd have built is what they perceive as a "better FH".  Which may or may not be so, but by the time it flies, they will have succeeded (maybe) in beating SpaceX at what SpaceX has already moved on from...

There's good reason to believe that by the time NG flies for the first time, SpaceX would already have a constellation in place.

That's the problem of the "follower".   China is trying to beat the US.  In some ways, being "fast followers" condemns you to always thinking in terms of "me too".  Same thing here.

Back to Block 5....

I'll apologise in advance for reasoning from analogy: my IT experience suggests that development teams are prone to discard or not even appreciate the existence of non functional requirements a.k.a. "pesky operations" when trying to declare victory via a shoddy delivery.
SpaceX on the other hand is subject to a hard discipline that could serve them well in the ITS design.
What could defeat them would be the ITS team being treated like royalty and given license to ignore operational experience.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8051
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4297
  • Likes Given: 859
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #89 on: 03/09/2017 08:45 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.

BTW - on the BO side, OneWeb says 80 units per NG launch. I think that jives with ~20 CommX units per F9 launch, give or take.

I agree btw that "one orbital plane per launch" is a nice and round goal.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2017 08:54 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9931
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 6743
  • Likes Given: 4524
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #90 on: 03/10/2017 02:18 AM »
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.

I think you're underestimating how fast SpaceX (even with their time dilation) can do ITS. Yes, composites are hard but this is their third vehicle[1], the engine is in test and they get better with development all the time as their capital and facilities expand.

As to the thread, I'm not seeing a lot of issues, yes it went alll over everywhere but it's a very thought provoking thread. We live in interesting times.

1 - F1, F9 being 1 and 2..... 3.5 if you count FH as "half a development project"
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27759
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7657
  • Likes Given: 5097
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #91 on: 03/10/2017 02:39 AM »
All Blue Origin has done is suborbital hops. They've done VTVL, sure, but ultimately what they've done is not greater than x-15 so far. People are assuming Blue Origin's plans will go off without delays, which is unlikely in this industry. Blue Origin has actually suffered delays. Heck they started before SpaceX!

As far as SpaceX's strategy:

Well, there isn't actually a lot of revenue in space launch. It's a generally low-margin endeavor. That's why SpaceX has been investing in this crazy megaconstellation. Elon does not have the luxury of being worth $73 billion. SpaceX has to generate its own revenue for the most part. The constellation is far from guaranteed, but it could provide more revenue for SpaceX than Blue Origin will have from Bezos' bankrolling.

So it makes sense actually for SpaceX to pursue exactly the strategy they did: they climbed the value chain all the way to the top instead of trying to get all their revenue in competition with rockets that Bezos could afford to give away.

And I think ITS is not as far away as people think it is. SpaceX has an uncanny to push thing further than people thought possible. And Bezos' wealth is a good motivator: SpaceX will have to work harder, as this is the first time SpaceX is really getting challenged by someone who isn't the status quo.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3545
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 1121
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #92 on: 03/10/2017 02:52 AM »
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.

Offline wannamoonbase

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2912
  • Denver, CO
    • U.S. Metric Association
  • Liked: 660
  • Likes Given: 1065
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #93 on: 03/10/2017 04:52 AM »
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.

I believe you are incorrect.  They were flying (trying) to make the Falcon 1 successful, then announced the Falcon 5 which somewhat quickly turned into the Falcon 9. 
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2958
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 4382
  • Likes Given: 284
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #94 on: 03/10/2017 05:17 AM »
When Falcon 9 was announced SpaceX hasn't even TRIED to launch anything into orbit. They didn't have a launch pad or main propulsion or manufacturing or test facilities anywhere close to ready.

It flew only 4 years and 9 months after being announced.

I believe you are incorrect.  They were flying (trying) to make the Falcon 1 successful, then announced the Falcon 5 which somewhat quickly turned into the Falcon 9. 
The Falcon 9 was announced 5 months before the first Falcon 1 launch. The Falcon 5 was announced more than 2 years before the first F1 launch. I can't tell what you think is incorrect or really make much sense of your post.

Offline rsdavis9

Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #95 on: 03/10/2017 12:22 PM »
So does everybody think that block 5 will have the new copv's? Will spacex restore the original fueling procedures? How much will they test the new copv's and fueling procedures?

To me that is most interesting part of block 5. Sure there will be tweaks to ensure easy and reliable reuse.
1. Some change to ensure restart has fuel and not bubbles. I know this caused problems with a couple of the hot landings.
2. Improvements to the legs?
With ELV best efficiency was the paradigm. The new paradigm is reusable, good enough, and commonality of design.
Same engines. Design once. Same vehicle. Design once. Reusable. Build once.

Offline jpo234

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 856
  • Liked: 660
  • Likes Given: 98
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #96 on: 03/10/2017 02:11 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?
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32003
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10629
  • Likes Given: 317
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #97 on: 03/10/2017 02:20 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?

No

Online envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3545
  • Liked: 1749
  • Likes Given: 1121
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #98 on: 03/10/2017 02:42 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?

That's the goal. It's not going to happen this year even if B5 flies.

Online meekGee

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8051
  • N. California
  • Liked: 4297
  • Likes Given: 859
Re: F9 Block 5 Updates, Discussions, and Speculations
« Reply #99 on: 03/10/2017 03:20 PM »
We seem to have us a conundrum here....

Either F9B5 is capable of achieving single-dayish turnaround (not immediately, but without major revisions) or F9B5 is not the last iteration, or GS has no idea about F9's future.

Hmmm....
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 03:21 PM by meekGee »
ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Tags: