Author Topic: SpaceX customers' views on reuse  (Read 114559 times)

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #260 on: 11/22/2017 01:43 PM »
...
Although Jan Woerner claims to be a fan of reusability his beliefs are - unfortunately - still firmly rooted in the expendable way of thinking. For multiple decades space agencies like ESA, CNES and DLR lived-and-worked with the principle that every bit of performance of a rocket MUST be used to maximize payload capacity.
Having excess performance to - God forbid! - return the booster stage to Earth just doesn't fit their view-on-spaceflight. From contacts inside ESA and DLR it has become clear to me that both agencies have a hard time adjusting to the new reality. Both have cited STS as an example why, in their opinion, reusability might not pay-off.
Which is really silly because both agencies know d*mn well that STS cannot be compared to the current SpaceX reusability efforts.

Confirmation bias.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2017 01:44 PM by AncientU »
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #261 on: 11/22/2017 05:14 PM »
The other reuse methods are
1) engines, ie ULA SMART
2) flyback engine pods, Adeline. NB could be more than ie 1 either side of tank.
3) VTVL Eg F9R
4) VTHL eg Boeing XS1

Of all the methods I'd say VTVL is hardest to do, high probability of crashing a few before perfecting the landing. VTHL and Adeline are easier to get right first time, especially for large aircraft company like Boeing and Airbus. ESA already has some experience with the IXV spaceplane and Boeing with X37B.



Online Semmel

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #262 on: 11/23/2017 06:29 AM »
Comment from ESA head:

Quote
Woerner: Iím a fan of reusability, but not the way Elon Musk is doing it. Weíre looking at other ways. #Space17
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933269213703262208

Quote
Did he specify what other ways might be? The @elonmusk way seems to be working at least
https://twitter.com/planetguy_bln/status/933271153854025729

Quote
No, but there have been studies of recovering the engines or other elements of the first stage without a propulsive landing.
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/933271439255404544

Iím with Elon on this, in that I donít understand the issue with using fuel to land (and thus reducing payload mass). What matters is the cost to launch the payloads you want to launch, not how much you could have launched on the same rocket if expendable. (Iím assuming costs reflect reuse development costs.)

Although Jan Woerner claims to be a fan of reusability his beliefs are - unfortunately - still firmly rooted in the expendable way of thinking. For multiple decades space agencies like ESA, CNES and DLR lived-and-worked with the principle that every bit of performance of a rocket MUST be used to maximize payload capacity.
Having excess performance to - God forbid! - return the booster stage to Earth just doesn't fit their view-on-spaceflight. From contacts inside ESA and DLR it has become clear to me that both agencies have a hard time adjusting to the new reality. Both have cited STS as an example why, in their opinion, reusability might not pay-off.
Which is really silly because both agencies know d*mn well that STS cannot be compared to the current SpaceX reusability efforts.

As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.

Online woods170

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #263 on: 11/23/2017 08:07 AM »
Although Jan Woerner claims to be a fan of reusability his beliefs are - unfortunately - still firmly rooted in the expendable way of thinking. For multiple decades space agencies like ESA, CNES and DLR lived-and-worked with the principle that every bit of performance of a rocket MUST be used to maximize payload capacity.
Having excess performance to - God forbid! - return the booster stage to Earth just doesn't fit their view-on-spaceflight. From contacts inside ESA and DLR it has become clear to me that both agencies have a hard time adjusting to the new reality. Both have cited STS as an example why, in their opinion, reusability might not pay-off.
Which is really silly because both agencies know d*mn well that STS cannot be compared to the current SpaceX reusability efforts.

As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.
Two words:

Public money.

Remember when Ariane 501 auto-terminated? The public fall-out over it was significant. And when Ariane 502 had issues as well some nasty questions were asked about Ariane funding in the parliaments of France and Germany.
That repeated when the first Ariane 5 ECA was a complete failure.

So, it's nice that SpaceX spends it private money to land (and occasionally fail to land) F9 booster stages. But the average European tax-payer (note my use of the word "average") will not like the prospect of "their" money being spent on failed booster landings.

Even getting enough public funding authorised for the "safe" development option (Ariane 6 as currently being developed) has been a big problem.

But I digress. This thread is after all about SpaceX customers' views on reuse.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 09:28 AM by woods170 »

Online Semmel

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #264 on: 11/23/2017 10:40 AM »
Although Jan Woerner claims to be a fan of reusability his beliefs are - unfortunately - still firmly rooted in the expendable way of thinking. For multiple decades space agencies like ESA, CNES and DLR lived-and-worked with the principle that every bit of performance of a rocket MUST be used to maximize payload capacity.
Having excess performance to - God forbid! - return the booster stage to Earth just doesn't fit their view-on-spaceflight. From contacts inside ESA and DLR it has become clear to me that both agencies have a hard time adjusting to the new reality. Both have cited STS as an example why, in their opinion, reusability might not pay-off.
Which is really silly because both agencies know d*mn well that STS cannot be compared to the current SpaceX reusability efforts.

As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.
Two words:

Public money.

Remember when Ariane 501 auto-terminated? The public fall-out over it was significant. And when Ariane 502 had issues as well some nasty questions were asked about Ariane funding in the parliaments of France and Germany.
That repeated when the first Ariane 5 ECA was a complete failure.

So, it's nice that SpaceX spends it private money to land (and occasionally fail to land) F9 booster stages. But the average European tax-payer (note my use of the word "average") will not like the prospect of "their" money being spent on failed booster landings.

Even getting enough public funding authorised for the "safe" development option (Ariane 6 as currently being developed) has been a big problem.

But I digress. This thread is after all about SpaceX customers' views on reuse.

Well its not entirely off topic because customer views on reuse are linked to competitor views on reuse. And if Ariane Space would go the same route as SpaceX: Develop a cheaper launch vehicle (like Ariane 6), that is just fine as an expendable but conduct practically free landing tests, I dont really see the problem with funding agencies. Especially, because the tests do not require much extra hardware than what delivers the payload. For public funding in Europe, there is a great distinction between funding that is used to buy hardware and funding that is used to pay people. If landing attempts are essentially hardware free and would cost a few dozen or so extra people, its actually a good situation. Something like that would even be encouraged!

Maybe they cant jump over their own shadow and say "I must admit I was wrong about reuse and Musk way may actually be the correct path". Which even now is not a proven fact, but highly likely given SpaceXs history and potential future. So if BFR/BFS works and is as economical as SpaceX claims, this would definitely and forever destroy the argument "Reuse of rockets doesnt work or is at least uneconomical, see Shuttle". Customers would have a hard time explaining their shareholder why they would NOT launch on BFR, once it is proven. As a consequence, expandable vehicles would almost exclusively run on national payloads of their respective country.

Offline Kosmos2001

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #265 on: 11/23/2017 01:09 PM »
As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.

Working or not, the stage is lost. Why don't give a try and do some tests?

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #266 on: 11/23/2017 01:18 PM »
As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.

Working or not, the stage is lost. Why don't give a try and do some tests?

And this 'Musk' approach works no matter which reuse technology one thinks is preferable. 
So, relax Jan, and watch the kaboomy goodness.
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Offline Kosmos2001

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #267 on: 11/23/2017 01:30 PM »
As a European, it hurts to see this happening. I agree with your assessment. Which hurts even more. They fear, that if they built a launch vehicle that is supposed to land like F9 it would crash a few times before it works, like F9. That is a absolute no no for them. It has to work the first time or they would not try it. I am unsure why that is though.

Working or not, the stage is lost. Why don't give a try and do some tests?

And this 'Musk' approach works no matter which reuse technology one thinks is preferable. 
So, relax Jan, and watch the kaboomy goodness.

The kaboomy goodness still exists anyway in Ariane family, the only difference is that there are no cameras nearby.  ;D
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 01:30 PM by Kosmos2001 »

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #268 on: 11/23/2017 02:39 PM »
The difference between customers and competitors is simple.

Customers had to see it (to overcome inertia), but once they did, they're switching over.

Arianne and ULA have to overcome years of ridicule and dismissal, and then face the prospect of being a decade behind, since neither has an architecture that fits, and both are invested in new projects that they would have to abandon.

So instead they come up with these "smart reuse" ideas, which had they come from SpaceX they would have been laughed out the door.  ULA for example loves showing how the benefit of reuse is limited if the US is expended, but has no problem touting a system where the entire airframe of the first stage is expended.

Customers OTOH are looking simple at the reliability outlook of a pre-flown rocket, weighing in considerations such as scheduling, and easily make a decision.

In short, it's an instituted and personal ego issue.
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Offline Ludus

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #269 on: 11/23/2017 03:47 PM »
Itís a different thing for Elon Musk to joke about expecting some RUD events or making some craters and a bureaucrat using public funds and responsible to political pressure. Musk put out a video montage of SpaceX best crashes. Imagine DOD, NASA, ESA or one of their subcontractors doing that. It may be perfectly understandable rationally but crashes will be used by political opposition and the images will look like evidence of failure and mismanagement to some people. Musk can joke about it because heís using his own money and isnít endangering lives. A politician or bureaucrat knows they canít get away with the same attitude no matter how rational it may be.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 03:52 PM by Ludus »

Offline Rebel44

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #270 on: 11/23/2017 04:01 PM »
Itís a different thing for Elon Musk to joke about expecting some RUD events or making some craters and a bureaucrat using public funds and responsible to political pressure. Musk put out a video montage of SpaceX best crashes. Imagine DOD, NASA, ESA or one of their subcontractors doing that. It may be perfectly understandable rationally but crashes will be used by political opposition and the images will look like evidence of failure and mismanagement to some people. Musk can joke about it because heís using his own money and isnít endangering lives. A politician or bureaucrat knows they canít get away with the same attitude no matter how rational it may be.

A few years ago this argument would be stronger than its now.

In 2017/2018 they might be able to get away with some recovery failures, by pointing out at SpaceX as an example.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 05:21 PM by Rebel44 »

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #271 on: 11/23/2017 04:38 PM »
Yup.  But that's where the lack of strategic thought comes in.  Neither Vulcan nor A6 are optimized for fly-back.

And besides, by that time, investing in new rockets smaller than FH would be of limited value. Single payload will get larger and constellations will be the majority of the business.

And neither player is capable of doing development in a cost-effective way.

I can't imagine that customers, existing and new, are not adjusting their 5-10 year roadmaps to use this new class of rockets.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #272 on: 11/23/2017 04:49 PM »
Two words:

Public money.

Remember when Ariane 501 auto-terminated? The public fall-out over it was significant. And when Ariane 502 had issues as well some nasty questions were asked about Ariane funding in the parliaments of France and Germany.
That repeated when the first Ariane 5 ECA was a complete failure.

So, it's nice that SpaceX spends it private money to land (and occasionally fail to land) F9 booster stages. But the average European tax-payer (note my use of the word "average") will not like the prospect of "their" money being spent on failed booster landings.
Superficially your argument makes perfect sense.

Except it's not the new-rocket-goes-bang that annoy the taxpayers.

It's the failure to deliver the payload to orbit. That (from their PoV) is a total waste of money.

WRT this thread SX customers are not bothered by those booster stages smacking into the deck of the ASDS because AFAIK in every case the payload achieved orbit.

All recovery attempts happened after the booster had carried out its primary task, which it never failed to do.

So I'd suggest European taxpayers and ULA stockholders should be fine with the fact that sometime the recovery might fail, as long as the payload gets where it needs to go, and long term the stage recovery works. It's gong to be a whole new rocket stage (at least) anyway. Design recovery issues into it from day one.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #273 on: 11/23/2017 07:56 PM »
Only SX has RTLS firmly in plans. To the degree they can make high flight frequency work for the customer, such that the limiting factor in missions is the booked availability of F9US as a fully saturated resource.

In that case its the competition between expendable second stage vs expendable LV, as the booster cost gradually disappears into a portion of the total fixed costs of a launch.

Both ULA and the Ariane Group don't need to dominate the market, they just need to get within "striking distance" for customers to consider.

For both they need a new vehicle, for different reasons. That does not put them within striking distance.

Like BO's NG, downrange booster recovery with minimal propulsive loss of payload does get them there. Both know this, and can take action. Multiple ways. While AG is first to consider it, it is hamstrung by the past which will cause it to expensively fall behind, at a time when it could move quite rapidly (sad part about woods170's post up thread).

ULA is in a different situation. The parents insist on a "crawl walk run" that requires a biddable NSS next gen w/indigenous LRE first. Likely after they get it, downrange booster reuse is the next step, and their vehicle strategy is more amenable to adaption "after the fact". (And unlike A6, they don't have to fully burden with an entirely new large solids program that is mandatory for two classes of launch vehicle, as well as starting with a LRE designed for highly economic reuse from the start.)

The fallback for minimal NSS redundancy in both cases could be a solids only vehicle with no reuse, which if both fail at reuse economics execution might allow for a low development and sustaining cost option, never intending to compete with commercial launch providers that would thoroughly undercut them on cost/flight frequency.

It may be that government need splits off from commercial forever at this point, because the lack of need/desire/budget to compete forever rents the economic fabric globally. And that you have a smaller handful of providers with commercial market share at a fraction of the price of dedicated national ones, who are painfully subsidized to maintain minimal flight rate.

To avoid this bifurcation/obsolescence, one will need to decide expeditiously which way to go. Delaying will push up the development cost and down the cost recovery fast. Customers also will quickly view reuse as a harbinger of longevity of a provider they could choose, and might discard those who appear to be unskilled at it.

Offline Exastro

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #274 on: 11/23/2017 09:15 PM »
Quote
It may be that government need splits off from commercial forever at this point, because the lack of need/desire/budget to compete forever rents the economic fabric globally. And that you have a smaller handful of providers with commercial market share at a fraction of the price of dedicated national ones, who are painfully subsidized to maintain minimal flight rate.

How long can a boutique provider of expendable NSS launches survive in a world in which BFR and NG are flying frequently with demonstrated reliability and low cost?

Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #275 on: 11/23/2017 10:14 PM »
ULA says it needs ten flights per year to survive, half of which need to be commercial because of the paucity of USG launches.  That is where the rub exists... must compete in the commercial market to remain viable.

ArianeGroup may find itself in a similar situation, where a handful of flights are guaranteed by Europe's national program's, but there is still a significant fraction (again, maybe half) that must be toe-to-toe competed.

So, boutique might work when subsidies are high, but that doesn't appear to be a future prospect.
« Last Edit: 11/23/2017 10:15 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #276 on: 11/23/2017 11:20 PM »
Quote
It may be that government need splits off from commercial forever at this point, because the lack of need/desire/budget to compete forever rents the economic fabric globally. And that you have a smaller handful of providers with commercial market share at a fraction of the price of dedicated national ones, who are painfully subsidized to maintain minimal flight rate.

How long can a boutique provider of expendable NSS launches survive in a world in which BFR and NG are flying frequently with demonstrated reliability and low cost?

Long enough to transition to another stage/step. Which we cannot see at this point, because we need to have those handful "settle out" first.

We can begin to see the outlines of what comes next, but the first movers aren't guaranteed to prosper, although they've earned the right to be the first to attempt it. If they all fail, you fall back to "something".

Many scenarios to encompass NSS need are possible. NSS need itself is changing - right now getting up rapidly a fresh set of assets. Examples might include comprehensive contracts requiring priority to having a dedicated provider running a launch service with its own set of vehicles obtained from a non-compete commercial launch provider.

As always, meet/secure a need in a way that leverages common in-use capability without compromise of missions.

Only until it becomes common and in-use can you assess "leveraging" and "compromises". ELVs/solids, things like XS-1 might suffice til then.

ULA says it needs ten flights per year to survive, half of which need to be commercial because of the paucity of USG launches.  That is where the rub exists... must compete in the commercial market to remain viable.

ArianeGroup may find itself in a similar situation, where a handful of flights are guaranteed by Europe's national program's, but there is still a significant fraction (again, maybe half) that must be toe-to-toe competed.

So, boutique might work when subsidies are high, but that doesn't appear to be a future prospect.

Keep in mind you also need to maintain proficiency as well as cost. The less you fly, not only is it more costly, but your LOM increases, and you can only trade off so far by increasing costs of the LV/GSE to offset this.

ULA has a different set of issues - there are others, possibly NG that have sats and might compete with own launchers for them - what if an entire contract specified acceptance on orbit? Do they need to bid an entire LV/SC plus replacement all in one?

AG has a higher concentration of aerospace involvement spread/balanced over other countries than ULA/NG/others. It becomes more precarious, thus the increased need for commercial.

Take note of related interesting vehicle strategies by SNC - they speak of Dreamchaser possibly flying out of US on an European LV. How far might that extend if pushed? To other vehicles? An extension of the above mentioned NSS provider, possibly with the means to secure it?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #277 on: 11/24/2017 06:52 AM »
How long can a boutique provider of expendable NSS launches survive in a world in which BFR and NG are flying frequently with demonstrated reliability and low cost?
Indefinitely of course, as they are not being driven by any need to make an economical vehicle, merely one that completely satisfies their govt sponsors and never fails. Launch price inflation or "assured access" charges then become part of the landscape.

How before people start (and keep) pointing to them as a stupid design, given that booster stage recovery and reuse is now a reality, not a pipe dream, is another matter.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #278 on: 11/24/2017 06:58 AM »
Many scenarios to encompass NSS need are possible. NSS need itself is changing - right now getting up rapidly a fresh set of assets. Examples might include comprehensive contracts requiring priority to having a dedicated provider running a launch service with its own set of vehicles obtained from a non-compete commercial launch provider.

As always, meet/secure a need in a way that leverages common in-use capability without compromise of missions.
The fundamental problem with National Security Space requirements is the word National

It implies a launch system under direct control of relevant country or block of countries.

Current VTO TSTO rockets are so bound up with the intimate details of their entire GSE that it's virtually impossible to deliver a complete system to another country without telling them so much about it that it would violate ITAR restrictions, not to mention their deep ICBM heritage.

That points to a radically different architecture to any current vehicle, otherwise the market will remain desperately fragmented.

The questions are who will be the first to recognize this? Who will be the first to come up with a plan to do something about it? Who will succeed in implementing their plans?

However that is a topic for another thread.

What I think some of SX's competitors are missing is that the baseline has fundamentally shifted. Booster stage recovery and reflight is no longer a hypothesis or a concept, it has now happened.

Turning the question on its head. Knowing that recovery and reuse is possible why would you not  design in R&R friendly features to your new booster design from day one? Not necessarily for immediate use but available once its flight qualified for you target market.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2017 07:25 AM by john smith 19 »
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Online AncientU

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Re: SpaceX customers' views on reuse
« Reply #279 on: 11/24/2017 11:34 AM »
...

Turning the question on its head. Knowing that recovery and reuse is possible why would you not design in R&R friendly features to your new booster design from day one? Not necessarily for immediate use but available once its flight qualified for you target market.

For both Vulcan and Ariane 6, and probably Soyuz 5 and others, day one has already passed.  Not too late for a reset, IMO, but quickly becoming so.

« Last Edit: 11/24/2017 11:34 AM by AncientU »
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