Author Topic: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities  (Read 217208 times)

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #400 on: 06/13/2022 08:40 pm »
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

Vulcan is not the size of Superheavy and its miles away.

NASA is right to be concerned, I suspect that DOD also wants some assurances as some of the planned payloads need to use LC39A.

A problem with a fully fueled Superheavy could be very destructive.  Even LC49 north of LC39B may be a concern for that pad.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't have a right to be concerned--I think they DO.

However, what I'm wondering whether NASA raised this issue previously? If they did & SpaceX ignored their concerns, then that's on SpaceX. But if not, then why not, and why should SpaceX have to pay for a concern that was raised after-the-fact?

Also, are you saying the Vulcan launch infrastructure is miles away from the AtlasV/Starliner launch infrastrucutre? If so, then I agree there's no reason for NASA to require similar steps from ULA. But if not, then even if Vulcan won't be as big as the SH/SS stack, there'd still be a substantial risk of damaging the ability of Starliner to launch if an early Vulcan vehicle goes kablooey a few hundred feet away, no?
The other reason the concern is high may be that Starliner is not yet crew-qualified. If Starliner were already operational, loss of the ability to launch Crew Dragon would not be as big a problem. If this factors into NASA's reasoning, then they might not want to risk 39A with a Starship launch attempt until Starliner-1 is ready to fly.

That makes sense.  But I think timing will work out more or less fine for that.  Go go go Boeing!
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #401 on: 06/13/2022 09:33 pm »
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

Vulcan is not the size of Superheavy and its miles away.

NASA is right to be concerned, I suspect that DOD also wants some assurances as some of the planned payloads need to use LC39A.

A problem with a fully fueled Superheavy could be very destructive.  Even LC49 north of LC39B may be a concern for that pad.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't have a right to be concerned--I think they DO.

However, what I'm wondering whether NASA raised this issue previously? If they did & SpaceX ignored their concerns, then that's on SpaceX. But if not, then why not, and why should SpaceX have to pay for a concern that was raised after-the-fact?

Also, are you saying the Vulcan launch infrastructure is miles away from the AtlasV/Starliner launch infrastrucutre? If so, then I agree there's no reason for NASA to require similar steps from ULA. But if not, then even if Vulcan won't be as big as the SH/SS stack, there'd still be a substantial risk of damaging the ability of Starliner to launch if an early Vulcan vehicle goes kablooey a few hundred feet away, no?
The other reason the concern is high may be that Starliner is not yet crew-qualified. If Starliner were already operational, loss of the ability to launch Crew Dragon would not be as big a problem. If this factors into NASA's reasoning, then they might not want to risk 39A with a Starship launch attempt until Starliner-1 is ready to fly.

That makes sense.  But I think timing will work out more or less fine for that.  Go go go Boeing!
If I were SpaceX I would not want my KSC Starship launch schedule to be contingent on the Starliner-1 schedule. On the other hand, If I were SpaceX or NASA I would want an alternative launch pad for Dragon (crew and cargo) regardless of any added risk caused by Starship.

I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #402 on: 06/13/2022 09:36 pm »


I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

Off the top of my head:  LC-36A, 12, 13, 15?, SLC-4E
« Last Edit: 06/13/2022 09:36 pm by Jim »

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #403 on: 06/13/2022 09:49 pm »


I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

Off the top of my head:  LC-36A, 12, 13, 15?, SLC-4E

Plus LC-40 (AMOS-6 accident); Wallops Pad 0?
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Offline EL_DIABLO

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #404 on: 06/13/2022 09:53 pm »
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

Vulcan is not the size of Superheavy and its miles away.

NASA is right to be concerned, I suspect that DOD also wants some assurances as some of the planned payloads need to use LC39A.

A problem with a fully fueled Superheavy could be very destructive.  Even LC49 north of LC39B may be a concern for that pad.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't have a right to be concerned--I think they DO.

However, what I'm wondering whether NASA raised this issue previously? If they did & SpaceX ignored their concerns, then that's on SpaceX. But if not, then why not, and why should SpaceX have to pay for a concern that was raised after-the-fact?

Also, are you saying the Vulcan launch infrastructure is miles away from the AtlasV/Starliner launch infrastrucutre? If so, then I agree there's no reason for NASA to require similar steps from ULA. But if not, then even if Vulcan won't be as big as the SH/SS stack, there'd still be a substantial risk of damaging the ability of Starliner to launch if an early Vulcan vehicle goes kablooey a few hundred feet away, no?
The other reason the concern is high may be that Starliner is not yet crew-qualified. If Starliner were already operational, loss of the ability to launch Crew Dragon would not be as big a problem. If this factors into NASA's reasoning, then they might not want to risk 39A with a Starship launch attempt until Starliner-1 is ready to fly.

That makes sense.  But I think timing will work out more or less fine for that.  Go go go Boeing!
If I were SpaceX I would not want my KSC Starship launch schedule to be contingent on the Starliner-1 schedule. On the other hand, If I were SpaceX or NASA I would want an alternative launch pad for Dragon (crew and cargo) regardless of any added risk caused by Starship.

I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

That's reasonable but NASA is the one that should be on the hook for the costs of making SLC-40 crew capable.


1) I think SpaceX has a long term lease for a notional Pad 49 just to the north of 39A. Has SpaceX submitted plans to build that out & has NASA approved of those plans? It seems like the best long term solution will be to build out 49 and designate that as a 100% SS/SH facility.

That is my sense as well.

Lots of room to build several pads at LC-49, and it's reasonably far away from everything else. Use LC-39A sparingly while Falcon 9 is still in operation (which is going to be for at least a decade).

Quote
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

That's a great question.

It's going to be several years before LC-49 is operational, it needs to go through an EIS first. With only 5 orbital launches/yr at Boca Chica they can't afford to wait for that to be ready, they need to be able to use 39A in the meantime.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2022 10:15 pm by EL_DIABLO »

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #405 on: 06/13/2022 11:00 pm »
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

Vulcan is not the size of Superheavy and its miles away.

NASA is right to be concerned, I suspect that DOD also wants some assurances as some of the planned payloads need to use LC39A.

A problem with a fully fueled Superheavy could be very destructive.  Even LC49 north of LC39B may be a concern for that pad.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't have a right to be concerned--I think they DO.

However, what I'm wondering whether NASA raised this issue previously? If they did & SpaceX ignored their concerns, then that's on SpaceX. But if not, then why not, and why should SpaceX have to pay for a concern that was raised after-the-fact?

Also, are you saying the Vulcan launch infrastructure is miles away from the AtlasV/Starliner launch infrastrucutre? If so, then I agree there's no reason for NASA to require similar steps from ULA. But if not, then even if Vulcan won't be as big as the SH/SS stack, there'd still be a substantial risk of damaging the ability of Starliner to launch if an early Vulcan vehicle goes kablooey a few hundred feet away, no?
The other reason the concern is high may be that Starliner is not yet crew-qualified. If Starliner were already operational, loss of the ability to launch Crew Dragon would not be as big a problem. If this factors into NASA's reasoning, then they might not want to risk 39A with a Starship launch attempt until Starliner-1 is ready to fly.

That makes sense.  But I think timing will work out more or less fine for that.  Go go go Boeing!
If I were SpaceX I would not want my KSC Starship launch schedule to be contingent on the Starliner-1 schedule. On the other hand, If I were SpaceX or NASA I would want an alternative launch pad for Dragon (crew and cargo) regardless of any added risk caused by Starship.

I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

Remember that they're allowed to fly FH from the same pad, without any separation.

They'll have to evaluate the risk of FH failing on ascent right on the pad vs. SH failing on ascent a certain distance away.  That's why I think BC will have to launch first, maybe even a couple of times, before they're allowed to launch from 39A.

I think it won't take long before SH surpaases FH in its ability to clear the pad.  With the extra engine-out capability, it won't be long before it overtakes F9 as well.

Also remember how integrated SH has become into the NASA space program.
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Online DanClemmensen

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #406 on: 06/13/2022 11:38 pm »

I'm not NASA or SpaceX, so this is an uninformed gut feeling.  In the entire history of space flight, how many times has a launch pad been lost catastrophically for any reason?

Off the top of my head:  LC-36A, 12, 13, 15?, SLC-4E
Thanks, Jim. This says to me that NASA is right to require that CCP should not depend on a single pad. Either get Starliner working or be able to launch Crew Dragon from more than one pad, and until one of those two requirements are met, don't risk 39A more than necessary.

What about CRS? Right now we still have both Cygnus and Cargo Dragon, but Cygnus' status in unknown after the last Antares launches. Can Cargo Dragon launch from more than one pad?

Offline gemmy0I

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #407 on: 06/14/2022 12:25 am »
What about CRS? Right now we still have both Cygnus and Cargo Dragon, but Cygnus' status in unknown after the last Antares launches. Can Cargo Dragon launch from more than one pad?
I believe it's been publicly stated that SpaceX considers itself able to launch Cargo Dragon (2) from either pad at present. However, the fact that they have always chosen to launch it from 39A thusfar suggests that they consider that to be the easier option, likely because the crew access arm makes late-loading of cargo straightforward.

At SLC-40, they would presumably need to rig up something like they used to use for Dragon 1 (and like Cygnus uses), with some sort of "mobile temporary clean room" draped over the capsule to provide access to its side hatch while it's laying down horizontally on the transporter-erector. (This, incidentally, would mean late-loaded cargo would need to be loaded horizontally and handle the raising to vertical before launch, but they did that in the past for Dragon 1 so presumably that's not a problem for most or all payloads.)

They can also, in theory, launch Dragons to the ISS from SLC-4E at Vandenberg (with a small dogleg that is well within Falcon 9's capabilities). This was considered during the AMOS-6 stand-down as an option for a quicker return to flight, but ultimately decided against since they were close enough to getting 39A finished when the rocket itself would've been ready to return to flight.

Offline su27k

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #408 on: 06/14/2022 01:30 am »
I can understand that NASA is not happy with using Launch Complex 40 for both Falcon 9 and Super Heavy. The question for me is, did they pay SpaceX to keep that redundancy? I am quite sure, they won't have Super Heavy and Facon at the pad at the same time. What legal basis does NASA have for such a request? After all, it is no cost plus contract.
I don't know (or much care) about the "legal basis". NASA sees risk to ISS operations, and they are exploring ways to mitigate the risk.

The "legal basis" would determine who gets to pay for the mitigation, I don't see how NASA can saddle this cost on SpaceX, given:
1. No such requirement when SpaceX flew 1st FH from the pad
2. No such requirement for Vulcan flying from Starliner's pad

And if you think about it, the reason NASA doesn't have redundancy with Commercial Crew right now is because of Boeing, so why should SpaceX pay for the additional redundancy?

Online ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #409 on: 06/14/2022 08:37 am »
2) Someone mentioned over on Reddit that Vlucan Centaur is slated to be using the same launch pad/facility as the one used by Atlas V & Boeint's Starliner. I don't know if there are other pads capable of launching an Atlas V w/ crewed Starliner. But if not..... is NASA requiring ULA & Boeing to do a similar risk-avoidance exercise?

Vulcan is not the size of Superheavy and its miles away.

NASA is right to be concerned, I suspect that DOD also wants some assurances as some of the planned payloads need to use LC39A.

A problem with a fully fueled Superheavy could be very destructive.  Even LC49 north of LC39B may be a concern for that pad.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't have a right to be concerned--I think they DO.

However, what I'm wondering whether NASA raised this issue previously? If they did & SpaceX ignored their concerns, then that's on SpaceX. But if not, then why not, and why should SpaceX have to pay for a concern that was raised after-the-fact?
 

I find this totally incomprehensible.

In any other regulated industry the potential effects on adjacent facilities would have been assessed, high level risk control measures agreed and panels like ASAP consulted during the proposal stage. For major concerns about a rather obvious scenario to surface well into construction would suggest that NASA has a badly broken safety management system.

Offline edzieba

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #410 on: 06/14/2022 10:37 am »
given:
1. No such requirement when SpaceX flew 1st FH from the pad
2. No such requirement for Vulcan flying from Starliner's pad
Not a given.

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #411 on: 06/14/2022 12:22 pm »

I find this totally incomprehensible.

In any other regulated industry the potential effects on adjacent facilities would have been assessed, high level risk control measures agreed and panels like ASAP consulted during the proposal stage. For major concerns about a rather obvious scenario to surface well into construction would suggest that NASA has a badly broken safety management system.

A.  This isn't a regulated industry
b.  It is not a safety issue.

Online meekGee

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #412 on: 06/14/2022 12:37 pm »
given:
1. No such requirement when SpaceX flew 1st FH from the pad
2. No such requirement for Vulcan flying from Starliner's pad
Not a given.
Ok, but just common sense.  Two examples of higher risk rockets that launch directly from a crew pad.

So the risk is accepted elsewhere, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be eliminated if possible.

So what I don't understand is why indeed the two pads are so close. Something about the foundations?  Or maybe it's "far enough"?

And how does this come up only now? Who exactly is expressing concern, and who was working with SpaceX on the plans?
« Last Edit: 06/14/2022 12:44 pm by meekGee »
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Online ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #413 on: 06/14/2022 01:17 pm »

I find this totally incomprehensible.

In any other regulated industry the potential effects on adjacent facilities would have been assessed, high level risk control measures agreed and panels like ASAP consulted during the proposal stage. For major concerns about a rather obvious scenario to surface well into construction would suggest that NASA has a badly broken safety management system.

A.  This isn't a regulated industry
b.  It is not a safety issue.

A. Its a high hazard industry. Id still expect to see equivalent processes, be they external or internal (NASA) regulation.
B. Assessments of safety and operability issues are usually closely entwined. Delete the word safety if you like Jim, but Id still be mighty surprised to find out that NASAs management system was so poor as not to consider the effect of a failure on adjacent critical infrastructure prior to authorising construction work.

Offline edzieba

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #414 on: 06/14/2022 01:33 pm »
given:
1. No such requirement when SpaceX flew 1st FH from the pad
2. No such requirement for Vulcan flying from Starliner's pad
Not a given.
Ok, but just common sense.  Two examples of higher risk rockets that launch directly from a crew pad.

So the risk is accepted elsewhere, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be eliminated if possible.

So what I don't understand is why indeed the two pads are so close. Something about the foundations?  Or maybe it's "far enough"?

And how does this come up only now? Who exactly is expressing concern, and who was working with SpaceX on the plans?
Why do you think it has "only come up now", or that no other launch provider has not gone through the same process? This sort of thing is not new (even the Reuters article does not make any claims of recency beyond "recent months"), nor a surprise, nor abnormal. Nor would Falcon Heavy, Vulcan, etc have 'skipped' basic questions like "if something goes wrong, what impact would this have on your other launch systems and how do you intend to mitigate those impacts to minimise loss of contracted capability?".
« Last Edit: 06/14/2022 01:59 pm by edzieba »

Offline Jim

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #415 on: 06/14/2022 01:33 pm »

A. Its a high hazard industry. Id still expect to see equivalent processes, be they external or internal (NASA) regulation.
B. Assessments of safety and operability issues are usually closely entwined. Delete the word safety if you like Jim, but Id still be mighty surprised to find out that NASAs management system was so poor as not to consider the effect of a failure on adjacent critical infrastructure prior to authorising construction work.

No.
NASA turned over 39A to SpaceX.  They run it.  NASA as a customer of SpaceX services is raising an issue.   This is not NASA manager of the KSC Spaceport that has an issue.  NASA KSC does not manage the risk of SpaceX facilities.  It is NASA CRS and NASA CCP looking at this risk.

Online ThatOldJanxSpirit

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #416 on: 06/14/2022 01:53 pm »

A. Its a high hazard industry. Id still expect to see equivalent processes, be they external or internal (NASA) regulation.
B. Assessments of safety and operability issues are usually closely entwined. Delete the word safety if you like Jim, but Id still be mighty surprised to find out that NASAs management system was so poor as not to consider the effect of a failure on adjacent critical infrastructure prior to authorising construction work.

No.
NASA turned over 39A to SpaceX.  They run it.  NASA as a customer of SpaceX services is raising an issue.   This is not NASA manager of the KSC Spaceport that has an issue.  NASA KSC does not manage the risk of SpaceX facilities.  It is NASA CRS and NASA CCP looking at this risk.

Ive got to accept what you say Jim.

Ive been responsible for island facilities that are operated by another entity (in other high haz industries) and the buck has always stopped with the site, not the tenant.

At least Im no longer surprised that such nonsense can occur.

Offline rcoppola

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #417 on: 06/14/2022 02:07 pm »
I'm only surprised it's taking this long to be reported on. After all, the pad has already been moved once, further away from the HIF.

Starship is a monster of a vehicle. NASA (CCP) must have been super concerned about this all along but we're just hearing about it now for some reason.

I'm curious how you would go about hardening 39A against Starship? Heck, I'm still wondering if the tree line is too close to the OLM?
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Offline steveleach

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #418 on: 06/14/2022 02:17 pm »
This is probably a dumb question, but what exactly is involved in hardening launch infrastructure (which is presumably already hardened against a very close failure of a fully-fuelled rocket) against a slightly more distant failure of a significantly larger rocket?

How does the level of protection required scale with the size of the vehicle, and with the distance from the incident?

Offline Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Cape 39A Starship launch/landing facilities
« Reply #419 on: 06/14/2022 02:21 pm »
Is anyone concerned about how close this is to the current F9/H launch facility?  If there was a SH/SS accident shortly after liftoff, flaming debris could rain down on the F9/H facility.  In fact, I can't think of two launch pads so close to each other anywhere.  Say it ain't so....much of a problem.

LC-17 had the two pads relatively close to each other. Granted Starship/super heavy going boom is a lot more energetic than Delta II and probably not as close as starship is to the main 39A pad, but still close proximity.

Closer, actually. The SS and F9 pads will be about 1,000 feet apart. SLC-17A and B were 500-600 feet.
« Last Edit: 06/14/2022 02:21 pm by Orbiter »
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