Author Topic: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?  (Read 9597 times)

Offline Ludus

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If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?

« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 03:08 AM by Ludus »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #1 on: 04/14/2017 03:48 AM »
If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?
One very important limiting factor is that there aren't enough payloads to require a launch every day.  It isn't necessary.  Pushing to have such an unnecessary capability would drive up costs (you would need more people and more launch infrastructure) for no good reason.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline RDMM2081

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #2 on: 04/14/2017 03:54 AM »
I think one obvious answer is availabilty of cores.  My question is: will this be achieved through "truly rapid" turnaround of launched/returned cores, or a steady pipeline of alternating refurbished cores on some known interval timeline.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #3 on: 04/14/2017 06:09 AM »
If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?
One very important limiting factor is that there aren't enough payloads to require a launch every day.  It isn't necessary.  Pushing to have such an unnecessary capability would drive up costs (you would need more people and more launch infrastructure) for no good reason.

 - Ed Kyle
While lack of payloads is a reasonable concern, SpaceX has a solution in the works that will solve that problem for the forseeable future- the CommX Internet Constelation. They need to put up 800 satelites just to do initial tests and bring the system online- Then they need to put the rest of the constelation up before those first 800 decay out of VLEO, then replace the decaying ones, then replace the rest, then replace the replacements...

...yea, payloads wont be an issue.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #4 on: 04/14/2017 07:15 AM »
I think range availability has been an issue and delays with the payload readiness.
The former in particular will be an "interesting" challenge to work out.

Online AncientU

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #5 on: 04/14/2017 10:43 AM »
If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?
One very important limiting factor is that there aren't enough payloads to require a launch every day.  It isn't necessary.  Pushing to have such an unnecessary capability would drive up costs (you would need more people and more launch infrastructure) for no good reason.

 - Ed Kyle

You mean, like reusability?
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Offline Oli

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #6 on: 04/14/2017 11:10 AM »
While lack of payloads is a reasonable concern, SpaceX has a solution in the works that will solve that problem for the forseeable future- the CommX Internet Constelation.

Whether that will work out on the scale envisioned by SpaceX is anyone's guess.

Offline Lar

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #7 on: 04/14/2017 11:37 AM »
While lack of payloads is a reasonable concern, SpaceX has a solution in the works that will solve that problem for the forseeable future- the CommX Internet Constelation.

Whether that will work out on the scale envisioned by SpaceX is anyone's guess.
Fair point, but SpaceX is betting that it will. What's the track record on betting against SpaceX (other than bets about WHEN things happen) so far? Not zero, SpaceX has shifted approaches before and will again, but not that good, IMHO.
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"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline joncz

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #8 on: 04/14/2017 12:03 PM »

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?



https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40997.0


Offline Oli

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #9 on: 04/14/2017 12:03 PM »
While lack of payloads is a reasonable concern, SpaceX has a solution in the works that will solve that problem for the forseeable future- the CommX Internet Constelation.

Whether that will work out on the scale envisioned by SpaceX is anyone's guess.
Fair point, but SpaceX is betting that it will. What's the track record on betting against SpaceX (other than bets about WHEN things happen) so far? Not zero, SpaceX has shifted approaches before and will again, but not that good, IMHO.

They still have to fulfill the promise of creating new markets. The reason SpaceX was able to break into the launch market in the first place was because the dominant players had given up on that.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 12:04 PM by Oli »

Offline Lar

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #10 on: 04/14/2017 12:11 PM »
They still have to fulfill the promise of creating new markets. The reason SpaceX was able to break into the launch market in the first place was because the dominant players had given up on that.
True. And that's a qualitatively different sort of promise than the technical one of "we are going to make S1 reusable" or "we are going to land Crew Dragon on land" etc... but still, what's their record. This may be off topic to bottlenecks, though. For this topic maybe just assume the demand, and focus on what process improvements are needed?
"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

Offline jcliving

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #11 on: 04/14/2017 02:07 PM »
While discussing the 24hr turnaround is interesting, the relevant topic is what is the current bottleneck.  The three general categories for launch rate are the availability of launch platforms, the availability of launch slots, and the availability of payloads. Given the launch manifest backlog, payloads are not a limiting factor.

The key determining factor for availability of platforms is reuse.  There is not a single vendor that can produce 50+ platforms per year.  The only way to achieve this is reuse.  Spacex has finally started to make progress with reused vehicles.  The willingness of customers to reuse the booster is limiting reuse, but that will fade over the next year or two with continued success.  The production of second stages and fairings do limit the availability of platforms.  The only way to have platforms available for 50+ launches a year is to reuse all three.  Even if they achieve this goal, will the production of the inter-stage limit platforms?

Having two available launch sites instead of four does limit the availability of launch slots, but it may not be a limiting factor if platforms are the bottleneck.  Four available launch sites are clearly part of the plan to maximize launch slots during a year.  Obviously, the suitability of a launch site for a given mission affects the number of available slots.  I am encouraged by the automation that reduces the responsibilities of the range.  This should reduce the frequency of cancellation, but I have no idea how frequently the automation will help.

Offline Jim

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #12 on: 04/14/2017 02:25 PM »
.  I am encouraged by the automation that reduces the responsibilities of the range.  This should reduce the frequency of cancellation, but I have no idea how frequently the automation will help.

The "frequency of cancellation" was already rare. The automation was more in cost savings than in preventing delays.  There was only one case of causing a delaying the last 5 years or so.

Again, you are over estimating the effect of this on launch rates.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 02:28 PM by Jim »

Online stcks

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #13 on: 04/14/2017 02:28 PM »
.  I am encouraged by the automation that reduces the responsibilities of the range.  This should reduce the frequency of cancellation, but I have no idea how frequently the automation will help.

The "frequency of cancellation" was already rare. The automation was more in cost savings than in preventing delays.  There was only one case of causing a delaying the last 5 years or so

What is meant by "frequency of cancellation" ?

Offline Jim

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #14 on: 04/14/2017 02:30 PM »
.  I am encouraged by the automation that reduces the responsibilities of the range.  This should reduce the frequency of cancellation, but I have no idea how frequently the automation will help.

The "frequency of cancellation" was already rare. The automation was more in cost savings than in preventing delays.  There was only one case of causing a delaying the last 5 years or so

What is meant by "frequency of cancellation" ?

He thinks that range instrumentation problems have caused frequent launch cancellations.

Offline jcliving

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #15 on: 04/14/2017 02:39 PM »
.  I am encouraged by the automation that reduces the responsibilities of the range.  This should reduce the frequency of cancellation, but I have no idea how frequently the automation will help.

The "frequency of cancellation" was already rare. The automation was more in cost savings than in preventing delays.  There was only one case of causing a delaying the last 5 years or so.

Again, you are over estimating the effect of this on launch rates.
Given everything I wrote, did you really decide to pick on this minor part of my diatribe?  Thank you for the clarification.  The purpose of my entire post was to summarize the project dependencies and the project components that help identify where the bottleneck exists.

Offline Ludus

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #16 on: 04/14/2017 02:43 PM »
If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?
One very important limiting factor is that there aren't enough payloads to require a launch every day.  It isn't necessary.  Pushing to have such an unnecessary capability would drive up costs (you would need more people and more launch infrastructure) for no good reason.

 - Ed Kyle

I don't think Elon Musk's references to 24hr turnaround as a goal implies daily launches. In the current context you're right, that's just not required. It seems to be a concrete standard for rapid reusability: "gas and go". If you can achieve 24 hr turnaround in theory, you can relaunch without refurbishing or replacing any components and you have an efficient process to handle the cores after recovery.

Offline Jim

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #17 on: 04/14/2017 02:46 PM »

The key determining factor for availability of platforms is reuse.  There is not a single vendor that can produce 50+ platforms per year.  The only way to achieve this is reuse.

Wrong, the upper stage is single use and so 50+ "platforms" per year will have to be produced.  Since this has to be done there is no reason that  50+ first stage "platforms" can't be produced per year either.  So reuse is not mandatory.

Given the launch manifest backlog, payloads are not a limiting factor.

Yes, they are.  They are not all instantly available and many have yet to be constructed.  Further more, even if they were built, they wouldn't necessarily available for given launch slots.  There are spacecraft crew availability, tracking sites, processing facilities, testing facilities at the factory and many other factors playing into payload available. 

There is a launch queue and a payload missing a slot doesn't mean others can move up or one can come in to fill the slot, unless the slot is a year or so away from launch.
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 02:53 PM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #18 on: 04/14/2017 02:49 PM »

Given everything I wrote, did you really decide to pick on this minor part of my diatribe? 

Because you reposted the same wrong information

Offline edkyle99

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Re: What are the bottlenecks to ramping up launch cadence?
« Reply #19 on: 04/14/2017 03:00 PM »
If SpaceX next reusability goals are 24hr Booster turnaround and rapid reuse of S2 and farings, what are the limiting factors to very frequent launches?

Could the current launchpads have 2 or more HIFs so there could be parallel processing?
One very important limiting factor is that there aren't enough payloads to require a launch every day.  It isn't necessary.  Pushing to have such an unnecessary capability would drive up costs (you would need more people and more launch infrastructure) for no good reason.

 - Ed Kyle
While lack of payloads is a reasonable concern, SpaceX has a solution in the works that will solve that problem for the forseeable future- the CommX Internet Constelation. They need to put up 800 satelites just to do initial tests and bring the system online- Then they need to put the rest of the constelation up before those first 800 decay out of VLEO, then replace the decaying ones, then replace the rest, then replace the replacements...

...yea, payloads wont be an issue.
Falcon Heavy could put up all 800 of those satellites in a handful of launches, if the new 60+ tonne LEO capability is legit.  It could be done in less than ten launches, probably. 

At any rate, the business case for these Little-LEO constellations has been deemed shaky by industry analysts.  Terrestrial alternatives have won every time previous things were attempted.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/14/2017 03:03 PM by edkyle99 »

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