Author Topic: SpaceX FH : USSF-52 (X-37B OTV-7) : KSC LC-39A : 28/29 December 2023 01:07 UTC  (Read 197302 times)

Offline Newton_V

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Will the X-37B goes to a higher orbit? Why Falcon Heavy?

Draft solicitation said the launch was 6,350 kg to GTO, which is just a bit too heavy for Falcon 9 to be able to do if I'm correct.

That number probably for another satellite originally thought to use this launch number.

It's very unlikely that X-37B will be able to return from GEO and land on an airport.
No.  Launch ID name/number would "disappear", not to be reused.
NROL-29, AFSPC-2, AFSPC-9, etc.

Offline russianhalo117

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Um so this is an X-37B launch . . .

https://www.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/

Quote

Department of the Air Force Scheduled to Launch Seventh X-37B Mission

Published Nov. 8, 2023
By SAF/PA Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- 
The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the United States Space Force, is scheduled to launch the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Dec. 7, 2023 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


The X-37B Mission 7 will launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, designated USSF-52, with a wide range of test and experimentation objectives. These tests include operating the reusable spaceplane in new orbital regimes, experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies, and investigating the radiation effects on materials provided by NASA.


“We are excited to expand the envelope of the reusable X-37B’s capabilities, using the flight-proven service module and Falcon Heavy rocket to fly multiple cutting-edge experiments for the Department of the Air Force and its partners,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Fritschen, the X-37B Program Director.


X-37B Mission 7, also known as OTV-7, will expand the United States Space Force’s knowledge of the space environment by experimenting with future space domain awareness technologies. These tests are integral in ensuring safe, stable, and secure operations in space for all users of the domain.


Chief of Space Operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman hailed these experiments as “groundbreaking,” saying, “The X37B continues to equip the United States with the knowledge to enhance current and future space operations. X-37B Mission 7 demonstrates the USSF’s commitment to innovation and defining the art-of-the-possible in the space domain.”


The NASA experiment onboard will expose plant seeds to the harsh radiation environment of long-duration spaceflight. Known as “Seeds-2,” the experiment will build upon the successes of prior experiments, paving the way for future crewed space missions.


Previously, X-37B Mission 6 was the first mission to introduce a service module that expanded the capabilities of the spacecraft and allowed it to host more experiments than any of the previous missions. The spacecraft carried the Naval Research Laboratory’s Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module experiment, which transformed solar power into radio frequency microwave energy, and two NASA experiments to study the results of radiation and other space effects on a materials sample plate and seeds used to grow food. The X-37B Mission 6 also deployed FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory.


The Director of the DAF RCO, William D. Bailey, praised the collaborative partnership with industry, noting, “The X-37B government and Boeing teams have worked together to produce a more responsive, flexible, and adaptive experimentation platform. The work they’ve done to streamline processes and adapt evolving technologies will help our nation learn a tremendous amount about operating in and returning from a space environment.”

Also at:
https://www.vandenberg.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/
« Last Edit: 11/08/2023 08:49 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline XRZ.YZ

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https://www.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/
Quote
the flight-proven service module
So on mass and volume side should not much different that OTV-6 launch.

The gap between the missions could be for refurbishing the service module. The vehicle should be the one from OTV-5, that's a long time for whatever additional work.

But if the original launch plan in 2020 Sept holds. Then it will not be able to use a refurbished service module due to OTV-6 was just launched in May 2020.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2023 11:13 pm by zubenelgenubi »
XQCR LLYZ GYZH HZSZ

Offline Jim

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https://www.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/
Quote
the flight-proven service module
So on mass and volume side should not much different that OTV-6 launch.

The gap between the missions could be for refurbishing the service module. The vehicle should be the one from OTV-5, that's a long time for whatever additional work.

But if the original launch plan in 2020 Sept holds. Then it will not be able to use a refurbished service module due to OTV-6 was just launched in May 2020.

Huh?  flight proven does not equate to reuse.  the service module was not recovered.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2023 11:13 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline Bean Kenobi

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https://www.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/
Quote
the flight-proven service module
So on mass and volume side should not much different that OTV-6 launch.

The gap between the missions could be for refurbishing the service module. The vehicle should be the one from OTV-5, that's a long time for whatever additional work.

But if the original launch plan in 2020 Sept holds. Then it will not be able to use a refurbished service module due to OTV-6 was just launched in May 2020.

The service module wasn't recovered, it was left in orbit before deorbiting.

See photos here (before lift-off) : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhYIZj_WIAAtNiZ?format=png&name=small

and here (after landing) : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FhYG0BxWQAU1-yZ?format=jpg&name=4096x4096
« Last Edit: 11/08/2023 11:14 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline AmigaClone

https://www.spaceforce.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3583347/department-of-the-air-force-scheduled-to-launch-seventh-x-37b-mission/
Quote
the flight-proven service module
So on mass and volume side should not much different that OTV-6 launch.

The gap between the missions could be for refurbishing the service module. The vehicle should be the one from OTV-5, that's a long time for whatever additional work.

But if the original launch plan in 2020 Sept holds. Then it will not be able to use a refurbished service module due to OTV-6 was just launched in May 2020.

Huh?  flight proven does not equate to reuse.  the service module was not recovered.

So 'flight-proven' for Boeing appears to mean that the design has worked (at least once) while in flight.

Is it known if the service module is still in orbit?
« Last Edit: 11/08/2023 11:15 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline rocketenthusiast

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why is this going on FH? it has to be going to a higher orbit otherwise they would not be using the falcon heavy! is it going to MEO maybe?

Offline Jim

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why is this going on FH? it has to be going to a higher orbit otherwise they would not be using the falcon heavy! is it going to MEO maybe?

not true

Service module mass

Offline rocketenthusiast

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why is this going on FH? it has to be going to a higher orbit otherwise they would not be using the falcon heavy! is it going to MEO maybe?

not true

Service module mass
the last one had a service module too and it launched on a atlas V 501 (which the f9 beats in mass to orbit). there is no way that the service module is 10+ tons (the rough amount to need a falcon heavy)

Offline Asteroza

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The choice of F9H could just simply be flying much higher including a circularization burn to extend the mission propellant of the X-37b, assuming the tiles can handle the increased reentry speed.

But, if the spaceplane itself isn't modified. and most of the increased mass is the service module, and they are using a flight proven SM design, does that suggest the SM was previously underfueled and it's being mostly or fully fueled this time around?

Or does that mean the SM has a previously unseen capability to attach large objects (say tucking up over the wings but under the tail of the X-37b) that can fit in the remaining space of the launching rocket's payload fairing? Say something that wouldn't fit in the X-37b payload bay (or didn't need to, say an experiment that had no earth return requirement), additional PV and radiators to support a hotter/more power hungry payload, or even some sort of propellant droptank to radically increase available mission deltaV?

If there are no pictures pre-encapsulation being released, that would suggest something external has changed that they don't want shown? Does the mission patch have any interesting clues?

Offline sdsds

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[If] most of the increased mass is the service module, and they are using a flight proven SM design, does that suggest the SM was previously underfueled and it's being mostly or fully fueled this time around?

That hypothesis seems internally consistent, and also consistent with the somewhat notorious brevity of Jim's responses....
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Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit) then: that X-37B gonna have one heck of orbital manoeuvering capability. Such as huge plane changes.

Non-SM X-37B weight: 5 tons
Atlas 501 payload to orbit:  7 tons
F9 payload to orbit: 23 tons
FH payload to LEO: 64 tons

WDF will they do, with all that launch energy and service module propellants ?   :o :o :o :o

Offline Jim

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit) then: that X-37B gonna have one heck of orbital manoeuvering capability. Such as huge plane changes.

Non-SM X-37B weight: 5 tons
Atlas 501 payload to orbit:  7 tons
F9 payload to orbit: 23 tons
FH payload to LEO: 64 tons

WDF will they do, with all that launch energy and service module propellants ?   :o :o :o :o

What inclinations?

Offline LouScheffer

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit) then: that X-37B gonna have one heck of orbital manoeuvering capability. Such as huge plane changes.

Non-SM X-37B weight: 5 tons
Atlas 501 payload to orbit:  7 tons
F9 payload to orbit: 23 tons
FH payload to LEO: 64 tons

WDF will they do, with all that launch energy and service module propellants ?   :o :o :o :o
A huge fuel load is consistent with the evidence.   Various sources (such as here) indicate a maneuvering capability of 3.1 km/sec.  Assuming an ISP of 270 for pressure fed hypergolic propellants, this needs a mass ratio of e^(3100/270/9.80), or 3.23.  X-37B is suspect to mass about 5000 kg, so it needs at least 3.23 * (5000 + empty service module) kg.  This is likely 18 tonnes or more, or more than a plain F9 can lift (especially to an inclined orbit). Hence the FH.

This is also consistent with their desire to try a wider variety of orbits.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2023 02:15 pm by LouScheffer »

Offline rocketenthusiast

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit) then: that X-37B gonna have one heck of orbital manoeuvering capability. Such as huge plane changes.

Non-SM X-37B weight: 5 tons
Atlas 501 payload to orbit:  7 tons
F9 payload to orbit: 23 tons
FH payload to LEO: 64 tons

WDF will they do, with all that launch energy and service module propellants ?   :o :o :o :o
A huge fuel load is consistent with the evidence.   Various sources (such as here) indicate a maneuvering capability of 3.1 km/sec.  Assuming an ISP of 270 for pressure fed hypergolic propellants, this needs a mass ratio of e^(3100/270/9.80), or 3.23.  X-37B is suspect to mass about 5000 kg, so it needs at least 3.23 * (5000 + empty service module) kg.  This is likely 18 tonnes or more, or more than a plain F9 can lift (especially to an inclined orbit). Hence the FH.

This is also consistent with their desire to try a wider variety of orbits.
wasn't that on the original x-37b?
also if it was 18 tons it would prob be recoverable center core!


Offline lrk

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit)

We can't rule out a high energy orbit, even if the heat shield is limited to entry from LEO.  They could be carrying enough prop to transfer from GEO to a sufficiently low orbit.  Or multi-pass aerobraking from GTO down to a low orbit. 

Offline Emmettvonbrown

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Ultra-very-basic BOTE calculations. Just for the fun of it. Trying to max out FH 64 tons payload to LEO capability, with only a 5 tons X-37B... and the biggest "service module" between them... mass fraction 0.95, specific impulse 319 seconds, that's pressure-fed storable: the late Delta II AJ10  stage...

9.81*319*ln((58000+5000)/(2900+5000)) = 6497 m/s of delta-v. 

Say what you want, but that's enough for a climb to GEO (4100 m/s) and then, getting down (2400 m/s ). Both propulsively.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2023 07:38 pm by Emmettvonbrown »

Offline LouScheffer

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit)
We can't rule out a high energy orbit, even if the heat shield is limited to entry from LEO.  They could be carrying enough prop to transfer from GEO to a sufficiently low orbit.  Or multi-pass aerobraking from GTO down to a low orbit. 
Assuming the heat shield is only good for LEO speeds (7788 m/s or so), and X-37 has stated 3100 m/s of delta-V, then what orbits can it return from (assuming FH launches into the initial orbit):

GTO (200 x 37000): This works fine.  Takes about 2450 m/s to re-circularize, then re-enter.

GEO (35800 x 35800):  Does not work.  Takes about 1500 m/s to get back to GTO, then about 2450 to circularize at bottom.

GPS (20200 x 20200):  Does not quite work.   Takes about 1435 to get perigee down to 200 km, then 2074 to re-circularize.

Molniya (200 x 40000) Works fine.  Just need about 2530 to circularize at perigee.

Of course the heat shield may be somewhat better than LEO only.  Also, if they are adventurous they could use aerobraking to circularize.  If so they could return from the more aggressive orbits in this group.

Offline AstroWare

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Well then, it's gonna be one heck of a fuel load. Since X-37B heatshield is the limit (so no GTO / GEO ultra high energy orbit)
We can't rule out a high energy orbit, even if the heat shield is limited to entry from LEO.  They could be carrying enough prop to transfer from GEO to a sufficiently low orbit.  Or multi-pass aerobraking from GTO down to a low orbit. 
Assuming the heat shield is only good for LEO speeds (7788 m/s or so), and X-37 has stated 3100 m/s of delta-V, then what orbits can it return from (assuming FH launches into the initial orbit):

GTO (200 x 37000): This works fine.  Takes about 2450 m/s to re-circularize, then re-enter.

GEO (35800 x 35800):  Does not work.  Takes about 1500 m/s to get back to GTO, then about 2450 to circularize at bottom.

GPS (20200 x 20200):  Does not quite work.   Takes about 1435 to get perigee down to 200 km, then 2074 to re-circularize.

Molniya (200 x 40000) Works fine.  Just need about 2530 to circularize at perigee.

Of course the heat shield may be somewhat better than LEO only.  Also, if they are adventurous they could use aerobraking to circularize.  If so they could return from the more aggressive orbits in this group.

Why would you consider aerobraking 'adventurous' in this context? Other spacecraft have performed multi-pass aerobraking. Without heat shields. It seems that for this spacecraft it is a pretty straightforward way to lessen the loads on the heat shield for the final reentry.

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