Author Topic: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6  (Read 493021 times)

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #600 on: 12/25/2017 02:48 AM »
So, I figure I will add my own speculation: For a long time I thought that the off-shore launch platform was a silly idea, but the more I think about it there are several advantages.
That was my thought process as well.  I first heard of the offshore idea from reddit, and was highly skeptical.  But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Dig a channel next to the hill they made for the HIF for a boat/barge to carry the rocket to the launch pad.
Seems unlikely.

The whole area around the hill is environmentally protected wetlands.  Digging a sea channel into that area would probably upset the nesting area for sea turtles, which are an endangered species.  Note that the phrase "sea turtle" occurs 96 times in the EIS.

Also, it's a public beach, and there are state laws against developing public beaches into seaports.

If they end up with an offshore pad, I think they'll relocate the HIF and payload processing facilities along the Brownsville seaport.  Note that the Port of Brownsville already handles aircraft carriers, huge container ships, and oil drilling rigs, so BFR would be no problem.

The Brownsville seaport is just a few miles from Boca Chica.

Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #601 on: 12/25/2017 03:17 AM »
 I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is. It's the same stuff for miles out and you're not going to dry it out with some weight on top. Anything sitting on this muck out at sea is going to have ten times the problems with settling and shifting and will be more than ten times as hard to build on. Keeping it supplied and maintained will be far more difficult and expensive than a land site. Instead of a $100 million spaceport you're talking about a billion at least. There's not even close as any such thing as a surplus oil platform that's going to handle a BFR launch.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 05:31 AM by Nomadd »

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #602 on: 12/25/2017 05:22 AM »
I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is. It's the same stuff for miles out and you're not going to dry it out with some weight on top. Anything sitting on this muck out at sea is going to have ten times the problems with settling and shifting and will be more than ten times as hard to build on. Keeping it supplied and maintained will be far more difficult and expensive than a land site.Instead of a $100 million spaceport you're talking about a billion at least. There's not even close as any such thing as a surplus oil platform that's going to handle a BFR launch.

The upsides are A) distance from population, and B) not right in the middle of protected marshland.

Everything else, as you say, is the same or a bit worse.
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Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #603 on: 12/25/2017 05:28 AM »
As for all the people looking for conspiracy theories as to why SpaceX hasn't started building yet...

It's right there in plain view:  AMOS-6 happened, and they were busy with the Florida pads. 

That's all.

A pad costs about the same as the revenue from 1-2 flights.  The BC pad would be private, something they don't currently have.  It's a no brainer to build it.

If BFR will fly first from BC, that's awesome - but just makes building the Falcon pad even cheaper, since it will become a marginal cost in a larger project.

If BFR will fly first from Florida, then 39A will be down for a while, and the need for a falcon pad in BC becomes more acute.

So I expect to see construction crews in BC early in 2018.

I'm also hoping to hear about BFR pad plans.  If in BC, my money is on an off-shore platform, but with low confidence...
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Online SPITexas

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #604 on: 12/25/2017 07:00 AM »
As for all the people looking for conspiracy theories as to why SpaceX hasn't started building yet...

It's right there in plain view:  AMOS-6 happened, and they were busy with the Florida pads. 

That's all.

A pad costs about the same as the revenue from 1-2 flights.  The BC pad would be private, something they don't currently have.  It's a no brainer to build it.

If BFR will fly first from BC, that's awesome - but just makes building the Falcon pad even cheaper, since it will become a marginal cost in a larger project.

If BFR will fly first from Florida, then 39A will be down for a while, and the need for a falcon pad in BC becomes more acute.

So I expect to see construction crews in BC early in 2018.

I'm also hoping to hear about BFR pad plans.  If in BC, my money is on an off-shore platform, but with low confidence...

This guy gets it early 2018 it is folks where nearly there

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #605 on: 12/25/2017 07:16 AM »
It seems like most of the discussion on this thread has been about things other than the SpaceX Texas launch site.  Mostly because there hasn't been any direct activity on the launch site in over a year.  There has been work on Stargate, the tracking antennas and a warehouse for crane parts.  Also the highway has been widened and utility conduits have been laid along the road.  I'm just curious -- has there been any construction activity at all in 2017 on the control center, HIF or the launch pad?

No work In 5 years give er a take but yeah 1 year not much of anything except for the crane house and the antennas. SpaceX only has a few workers out there they need the Florida crew to come over, we can see some of us really want to see Contruction and so does the county judge like SpaceX said in recent articles stating 2018 will be the year which I still believe.  Im not rushing them to come over to BC but still just waiting patiently and confident theyll be here in 2018.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 07:25 AM by SPITexas »

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #606 on: 12/25/2017 12:54 PM »
I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is.

An offshore platform would be more expensive, no question.

The question is: Will the Federal Aviation Administration allow BFR to launch from Boca Chica Beach?

If SpaceX is interested in this option, it seems to me like they would have already asked the FAA to start the approval process, since that could take years to finalize.  As part of the approval process, the FAA is required to include a public comment period. So far, we haven't seen a public comment period for this.

I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is. It's the same stuff for miles out and you're not going to dry it out with some weight on top. Anything sitting on this muck out at sea is going to have ten times the problems with settling and shifting and will be more than ten times as hard to build on.
Assuming SpaceX still wants to launch F9 from Boca Chica Beach, how are they going to stabilize the launch pad there? There's no mound in that area, so the ground underneath is still very wet.  Previous discussions up-thread have speculated they'll need to install legs hundreds of feet deep to stabilize the launch pad in it's current location.

With an offshore pad in 72 feet of water, the legs would need to be 72 feet longer.  Would drilling the holes for the legs be a lot harder? Not my area of expertise.

Instead of a $100 million spaceport you're talking about a billion at least.
Not sure it would be that much more.

To be clear, we're talking about a launch site that's mainly on land, with a relatively small offshore pad.

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #607 on: 12/25/2017 01:33 PM »
It seems like most of the discussion on this thread has been about things other than the SpaceX Texas launch site.
In September, Elon announced they would be phasing out their current Falcon 9 based rockets.  They now intend to use BFR for launching satellites and servicing the space station.

In addition, at Stanford, Gwynne said "Boca Chica is perfect for BFR".

In my mind, these 2 announcements question our previous understanding of the "Texas launch site".  Specifically:
With 3 existing Falcon 9 launch pads, and with Falcon 9 being phased out, do they need a 4th pad for F9?
Will the FAA allow BFR to launch from Boca Chica Beach.

There has been work on Stargate, the tracking antennas and a warehouse for crane parts.
Stargate stands for Spacecraft Tracking and Astronomical Research into Gigahertz Astrophysical Transient Emission. Note the "Astronomical Research" part of the acronym.  In fact, the university department that runs Stargate was involved in the recent discovery of gravitational waves. So they have plenty to do at Boca Chica even if the Texas launch site is delayed for years.

The 2 antenna dishes were installed for commercial crew launches from Florida.  These will track Crew Dragon in orbit.

The fact that they're building a long-term structure to house the crane could easily be interpreted as a change in direction for Texas launch site.

To be clear, I'd like nothing more than to see Falcon 9 flying from Boca Chica this time next year.  That would be awesome.  But I'm also trying to interpret the signs from SpaceX, and recently the signs for a Texas launch site seem unclear.

Offline rsdavis9

My guess:
Boca Chica is perfect for testing of BFR.
Static fires
Suborbital hops.

I think the first orbital launch of the complete system will lc-39a because of sound limits.
Also the near term reason for BFR is the launch of the LEO communication satellites which require a launch azimuth which is not compatible with Boca Chica.

So beyond testing of BFR they will need to get a waver to launch to high inclination orbits. This may never happen.
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Offline Johnnyhinbos

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SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #609 on: 12/25/2017 02:39 PM »
I might point out that even though, yes, SpaceX does now have two operational pads in FL, 39A has some special hardware, and with the advent of Crew, will have even more. I would think that SpaceX would not want to put that pad at risk unless its required for FH / Crew for the foreseeable future. This means for all intents and purposes they only have one pad on the east coast for the bulk of a huge and growing manifest. Building BC to augment that pad seems like a natural next step. Especially when the cost of building it is relatively inexpensive when compared to the cost of the assets flying out of it and elsewhere.

SpaceX has learned tremendous lessons from pad development recently and have proven their ability to not only apply those lessons, but to take advantage of the opportunity and evolve the system further.

All this points to a mature and experienced pad development crew - and one that can move (and coordinate with contractors) at a rapid pace when the time comes.

So, all that said, my personal prediction is that real BC construction efforts will begin in April 2018...
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 02:41 PM by Johnnyhinbos »
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #610 on: 12/25/2017 03:06 PM »
Agree that BC construction will happen soon, and will be to support both Falcon variants from the beginning.  The phasing out of F9/FH is overblown IMO, and also maybe in GS's view -- she said that the upgraded LC-40 pad would serve that family for next 10-20 years.

Boca Chica gives a degree of flexibility and leverage which the two pads at the Cape cannot supply.  This will increase in value as the flight rate from all companies at the Cape rises and throttles range availability.

The Texas facility also provides a proving ground for BFS and a future BFR launch facility which the Cape could stifle for political reasons.  The withdrawal of LC-39B from 'multi-use' status is such a move -- dictated, not negotiated.

Just as having a second pad at the Cape saved 2017 for them, having the robustness of a private pad in Texas will be beneficial down the road.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 03:10 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Johnnyhinbos

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SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #611 on: 12/25/2017 03:12 PM »
Plus I might add that when you have two pads in basically the same location, both are under the same constraints when it comes to range availability and weather. Not desirable with such aggressive flight plans. Having a pad in a completely different state, experiencing different weather patterns and range issues - yet able to support the bulk of the same manifests, seems like smart money...
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 03:12 PM by Johnnyhinbos »
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #612 on: 12/25/2017 03:21 PM »
Plus I might add that when you have two pads in basically the same location, both are under the same constraints when it comes to range availability and weather. Not desirable with such aggressive flight plans. Having a pad in a completely different state, experiencing different weather patterns and range issues - yet able to support the bulk of the same manifests, seems like smart money...

Yup. 
Only reason it isn't well along in construction is a bit of 'remodeling' they needed to do on LC-40.
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Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #613 on: 12/25/2017 03:44 PM »

I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is. It's the same stuff for miles out and you're not going to dry it out with some weight on top. Anything sitting on this muck out at sea is going to have ten times the problems with settling and shifting and will be more than ten times as hard to build on.
Assuming SpaceX still wants to launch F9 from Boca Chica Beach, how are they going to stabilize the launch pad there? There's no mound in that area, so the ground underneath is still very wet.  Previous discussions up-thread have speculated they'll need to install legs hundreds of feet deep to stabilize the launch pad in it's current location.

With an offshore pad in 72 feet of water, the legs would need to be 72 feet longer.  Would drilling the holes for the legs be a lot harder? Not my area of expertise.

The land where the pad is penciled in is dry with 4 to 8 foot dunes covering it. The warehouse mound site was swamp. And a giant chunk of concrete the pad will be is a different matter than a relatively thin warehouse foundation. The concrete might act as the surcharging mound, it might not need surcharging or they might sink 200 big piles.
 
 An ocean pad launching almost 5,000 tons of rocket isn't something you can pick up at the surplus store and isn't something that will be easy to mount to a sea floor that's sedimentary muck for a thousand feet down. And, all offshore construction is ridiculously expensive compared to onshore. I think a billion is a very conservative estimate.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 06:34 PM by Nomadd »

Offline Kansan52

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #614 on: 12/25/2017 04:19 PM »
Is there any reason why the launch site can't be built to handle F9, FH, and BFR?

Flame trench built to handle a BFR. The launch mount able to handle Reaction table and BFR launch/landing mount.

Hmm,  launch/landing mount, LLM?

Offline Nomadd

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #615 on: 12/25/2017 04:43 PM »
Is there any reason why the launch site can't be built to handle F9, FH, and BFR?

Flame trench built to handle a BFR. The launch mount able to handle Reaction table and BFR launch/landing mount.

Hmm,  launch/landing mount, LLM?
Every time I try to type something, I realize it's a lot more complicated than I realized. It's the whole "We figured a Heavy would just be strapping 3 F9s together" thing again. It might turn out that just having two different launch points and flame trenches would be a lot easier and cheaper.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 04:43 PM by Nomadd »

Offline Wolfram66

I'm not sure why people think this seabed would be any easier to build on than land is. It's the same stuff for miles out and you're not going to dry it out with some weight on top. Anything sitting on this muck out at sea is going to have ten times the problems with settling and shifting and will be more than ten times as hard to build on. Keeping it supplied and maintained will be far more difficult and expensive than a land site. Instead of a $100 million spaceport you're talking about a billion at least. There's not even close as any such thing as a surplus oil platform that's going to handle a BFR launch.

Not to mention what the vibration effects on the gumbo of the gulf will be.

Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #617 on: 12/25/2017 04:46 PM »
Is there any reason why the launch site can't be built to handle F9, FH, and BFR?

The current EIS doesn't allow it.

Yes, they could ask the FAA for additional approvals to do this, but that process could take years to finalize. 

Also, as part of the approval process, the FAA is required to include a public comment period. Since we haven't seen a public comment period for additional approvals, this suggests that SpaceX has not asked for FAA approval to launch BFR from Boca Chica Beach.

Offline AncientU

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #618 on: 12/25/2017 05:20 PM »
Get the site up and running, and allow the benefits of the commerce and publicity begin to flow.  Will be a much more amenable environment to amend the EIS.
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Offline Dave G

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Re: SpaceX Texas launch site Discussion and Updates - Thread 6
« Reply #619 on: 12/25/2017 05:31 PM »
It might turn out that just having two different launch points and flame trenches would be a lot easier and cheaper.

If they allow it.

In 2015, SpaceX requested to increase the amount of soil needed to stabilize the launch area.  This additional request came after the final EIS, and was submitted through the Army Corps of Engineers.  There was a public notice and comment period, after which they removed the project plans from their web site.

I hadn't expected them to remove the documents, so I didn't download a copy.  I keep regretting that. But I did read the document. It discussed agreements where SpaceX promises not to develop certain areas of those wetlands in exchange for allowing them to use more soil surcharge in the mound.

A local news article also reported on these new wetlands mitigation agreements.
Quote from: The Monitor article by Kristen Mosbrucker
While a permit was issued for 3.3 acres of water to be covered in Sept 2014, the newest project design requires an additional 2.13 acres of wetlands for the launch site.

If approved, the total direct impact for the immediate environment stretches to 5.43 acres. In exchange, the company was also required to preserve 50-acres of high quality tidal flats, or wetlands as part of its environmental mitigation efforts. Now if permitted, the company would have to compensate with 54-acres of land preserved.

This is another reason that makes me skeptical BFR will be allowed to launch from Boca Chica Beach.


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