Author Topic: Firefly Aerospace  (Read 49605 times)

Offline vaporcobra

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #20 on: 02/09/2018 08:42 PM »
Yayyyyy! Any NSFers planning on attending SXSW? :)

Quote
We can’t wait to see you at the #SXSW Trade Show, March 11-14! Find us at booth 405 and get a sneak peek of what we have been up to!
https://twitter.com/Firefly_Space/status/962077237775249409
« Last Edit: 02/09/2018 08:42 PM by vaporcobra »

Online Kryten

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #21 on: 02/10/2018 08:23 PM »
Firefly's website has been updated with the new version of alpha;
Quote
Firefly Alpha is designed to address the needs the burgeoning small-satellite market. Alpha combines the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram to orbit in its vehicle class. Capable of delivering 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 600 kg to the highly desirable 500 KM Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO), Alpha will provide launch options for both full vehicle and ride share customers.

Alpha will launch twice per month, a launch cadence that will enable customers to fly according to their schedule and to the orbit they desire.

PERFORMANCE
Payload LEO / 1,000 kg (LEO 28.5°, 200 km)
Payload SSO / 600 kg (SSO, 500 km)
PROPULSION: STAGE 1
Engine / 4X Reaver 1
Propellant / LOX / RP-1
Propelleant Feed / Turbopump
Combustors / 4
Thrust (vac) / 728.8 kN (163,841 lbf)
lsp (vac) / 295.7 seconds
PROPULSION: STAGE 2
Engine / Lightning 1
Propellant / LOX / RP-1
Propelleant Feed / Turbopump
Combustors / 1
Thrust (vac) / 69.9 kN (15,714 lbf)
lsp (vac) / 324.1 sec
DIMENSIONS
Stage 1 Diameter / 1.8 m (6 ft)
Stage 2 Diameter / 1.8 m (6 ft)
Payload Fairing Diameter / 2 m (6.6 ft)
Overall Length / 29 m (95 ft)
« Last Edit: 02/10/2018 08:23 PM by Kryten »

Offline vaporcobra

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #22 on: 02/10/2018 08:40 PM »
Very curious, looks like the moved entirely away from FRE-1 and FRE-2, although there might still be some heritage in Lightning and Reaver. Very much a different vehicle from alpha, as far as I can tell.

Offline gongora

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #23 on: 02/10/2018 08:46 PM »
You beat me to it.  I just got to this page in the new 2018 FAA Compendium.

Offline vaporcobra

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #24 on: 02/10/2018 08:54 PM »
Additional, a couple more details on their new R&D.

Propulsion
Quote
Alpha utilizes well established propulsion technology. Both stages use common designs: copper regen-cooled LOx/RP-1 thrust chambers, a simple tap-off cycle which drives single shaft turbopumps, nozzle-mounted turbine exhaust manifolds, and hydraulic actuators. Innovations in Firefly engines include our simple “Crossfire” injector, tap-off geometry, dual-mounted electrically actuated, trim-able propellant main valves, and ultra-compact horizontal turbopump mounting. The upper stage engine, “Lightning,” includes a turbine-exhaust cooled refractory metal high area ratio nozzle extension. The first stage “Reaver” engines feature simple single axis gimballing. Consistent with the overall Alpha vehicle design, cost and performance are traded and optimized in Lightning and Reaver components to provide the best payload performance value.

Structures
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Firefly utilizes advanced carbon-fiber composites for the entire airframe of Alpha, including the state-of-the-art, linerless, cryogenic propellant tanks. Composite materials are ideally suited to launch vehicle structures due to their high strength, low density, tailorable material properties. This allows Firefly Alpha to lift heavier payloads than a similar metal rocket.

Avionics
Quote
Firefly Avionics hardware utilizes a combination of custom designed state-of-the-art and Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) components.

Data Acquisition is accomplished using a rugged, modular Data Acquisition Chassis, which provides analog to digital conversion of all sensor data, and further packages the data and transmits to the Flight Computer via an onboard Ethernet network.

The Flight Computer incorporates all vehicle telemetry and transmits data along with video to various Earth ground stations along the flight trajectory, for the duration of the flight.

Launch
Quote
Alpha will launch twice per month, a launch cadence that will enable customers to fly according to their schedule and to the orbit they desire.

Firefly will provide a great customer experience from your initial contact with our business development team to working with your dedicated payload manager. As the program progresses the focus will switch to working with our experienced launch site operations team to support your spacecraft processing needs.

Firefly launch sites will provide our customers with a wide range of orbit options to best fit their overall business objectives. Firefly launch site facilities support both dedicated launch vehicle customers and multiple manifest customers.

Offline su27k

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #25 on: 02/11/2018 02:17 AM »
4 engines is a strange choice, no? Increased probability of engine trouble without the benefit of redundancy/engine-out capability.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #26 on: 02/11/2018 02:33 AM »
You beat me to it.  I just got to this page in the new 2018 FAA Compendium.

I wonder if they're feeding the turbopump exhaust into the nozzle to help get away with a larger expansion ratio nozzle?
Another interesting note it's almost large enough to launch a Mercury style capsule.
Though if built with modern materials something like Mercury probably would be under 1000Kg.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2018 02:34 AM by Patchouli »

Online envy887

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #27 on: 02/11/2018 03:00 AM »
4 engines is a strange choice, no? Increased probability of engine trouble without the benefit of redundancy/engine-out capability.

Shuttle had redundancy and engine-out capability with only 3 engines, so they would have some - just not to the extent that a 7+ engine design would.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #28 on: 02/11/2018 03:08 AM »
Engine redundancy is not really an option in this LV class or necessary.

Offline vaporcobra

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #29 on: 02/11/2018 05:31 AM »
Engine redundancy is not really an option in this LV class or necessary.

The only operational smallsat launcher would beg to differ, with nine first stage engines :P

Online ringsider

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #30 on: 02/11/2018 06:51 AM »
Engine redundancy is not really an option in this LV class or necessary.

The only operational smallsat launcher would beg to differ, with nine first stage engines :P

I am not sure this launcher concept is in the same class as Electron with 150kg payload - 1000kg makes it a competitor to Vega (1500kg).

Offline su27k

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #31 on: 02/11/2018 08:30 AM »
4 engines is a strange choice, no? Increased probability of engine trouble without the benefit of redundancy/engine-out capability.

Shuttle had redundancy and engine-out capability with only 3 engines, so they would have some - just not to the extent that a 7+ engine design would.

But Shuttle stack has more than 3 engines, they have 2 big SRBs helping the liftoff. At liftoff each SSME only contributes 1/17 of the total thrust.

Offline Kosmos2001

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #32 on: 02/11/2018 06:11 PM »
Did they drop the idea of aerospike finally? And methane IIRC?

Edit:

Firefly's website has been updated with the new version of alpha;

It is interesting how they did round to the first decimal when they wrote the value of Isp. I'd bet that their Isp in m/s for the first stage is 2900 and 3178 for the second one.
« Last Edit: 02/11/2018 06:32 PM by Kosmos2001 »

Offline Prettz

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #33 on: 02/11/2018 09:58 PM »
Did they drop the idea of aerospike finally? And methane IIRC?
And pressure-fed engines. Basically everything that made the original Firefly Alpha really interesting to me. It seems pretty standard now. Well, a tap-off cycle with RP-1 is unusual. Has anyone tried that before?

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #34 on: 02/11/2018 10:57 PM »
Did they drop the idea of aerospike finally? And methane IIRC?
And pressure-fed engines. Basically everything that made the original Firefly Alpha really interesting to me. It seems pretty standard now. Well, a tap-off cycle with RP-1 is unusual. Has anyone tried that before?

My guys tried making it work for a client but went back to a conventional GG.  I have no doubt it can be done but am not sure it is worth the effort, especially when you need to throttle.  My experience is that you want to decouple engine components from one another to keep development cost and risk under control, not tie them together more tightly. 

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #35 on: 02/12/2018 12:37 AM »
I wish someone other than that Chinese firm would have the guts to just copy the Falcon 9 recovery method. These smallsat launchers, if they're flying more than a dozen times per year (let alone 24 like Firefly or 100 like RocketLab...), really ought to be at least partially reusable.
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

Offline msat

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #36 on: 02/12/2018 01:10 AM »
RL might not be expending any resources at this time on reuse (I don't know if this is actually true), but I would not at all be surprised  if that changed down the road. Since they tend to keep their cards close to their chest, they at least give the [refreshing] outwards appearance of being laser focused. Despite having successfully launched a payload into its planned orbit, formidable challenges still lay ahead just to attain their stated goals. Reusability might very well come later just as it did for SpaceX. And while SpaceX may have stated publicly that was always their intent, it may have quietly been RL's as well, and even if it wasn't, it doesn't mean they could never have a change of heart. Time will tell if this holds true for Firefly too.

Offline gongora

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #37 on: 02/12/2018 01:21 AM »
I wish someone other than that Chinese firm would have the guts to just copy the Falcon 9 recovery method. These smallsat launchers, if they're flying more than a dozen times per year (let alone 24 like Firefly or 100 like RocketLab...), really ought to be at least partially reusable.

They may not have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on developing reuse right now.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #38 on: 02/12/2018 01:40 AM »
I wish someone other than that Chinese firm would have the guts to just copy the Falcon 9 recovery method. These smallsat launchers, if they're flying more than a dozen times per year (let alone 24 like Firefly or 100 like RocketLab...), really ought to be at least partially reusable.

They may not have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on developing reuse right now.
...and that's why you essentially copy SpaceX instead of trying to do something else clever. And also: don't need that much to do what Masten and that Chinese company are doing. But I'm satisfied to know that Firefly at least paid lip service to reuse in the past.
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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

Offline Patchouli

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Re: Firefly Aerospace
« Reply #39 on: 02/12/2018 01:47 AM »
Did they drop the idea of aerospike finally? And methane IIRC?
And pressure-fed engines. Basically everything that made the original Firefly Alpha really interesting to me. It seems pretty standard now. Well, a tap-off cycle with RP-1 is unusual. Has anyone tried that before?

The only tap-off cycle engines I know of or the J-2S and BE-3 both which burn hydrogen.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2018 01:48 AM by Patchouli »

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