Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : KSC LC-39A : 9 December 2021 (0600 UTC)  (Read 84216 times)

Offline Comga

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Discussion thread for IXPE launch.

Successful launch December 9, 2021, at 1:00am EST (0600 UTC) on Falcon 9 (booster 1061-5) from Kennedy Space Center LC-39A to equatorial LEO orbit.  Fairing halves were new.  The booster landed on ASDS JRTI.



July 08, 2019
CONTRACT RELEASE C19-018
NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Groundbreaking Astrophysics Mission
 
NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, which will allow astronomers to discover, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most exotic astronomical objects in our universe. 

The total cost for NASA to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

IXPE measures polarized X-rays from objects, such as black holes and neutron stars to better understand these types of cosmic phenomena and extreme environments.

The IXPE mission currently is targeted to launch in April 2021 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. IXPE will fly three space telescopes with sensitive detectors capable of measuring the polarization of cosmic X-rays, allowing scientists to answer fundamental questions about these turbulent environments where gravitational, electric and magnetic fields are at their limits.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The IXPE project office is located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and is managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


IXPE Updates Thread (Space Science Section)
« Last Edit: 12/09/2021 02:30 pm by gongora »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2019 09:28 pm »
~300kg, 540-km circular orbit at nominal 0° inclination
« Last Edit: 07/08/2019 09:29 pm by gongora »

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #2 on: 07/08/2019 09:29 pm »
It is hard to state how astonishing this is.

IXPE is specifically designed with the X-ray mirror assemblies held 4 meters from the polarization sensing X-Ray detector arrays by an extendable boom, so that it can fold into the small volume of the Pegasus.  Its mass is within the capacity of Pegasus

It was also planned to launch into a 0 degree inclination orbit to minimize its exposure to the South Atlantic Anomaly.  This was another reason to use Pegasus, with Stargazer flying out of Kwajalein to a launch position over the equator.

NSF member OneSpeed calculated that the "Block 5" Falcon 9 could put 1800 kg into an equatorial orbit by combining the circularization burn with the enormous plane change.  This is many times the mass of IXPE.

It will be most interesting to see what changes are made to IXPE given the enormously larger mass and volume capacity of the Falcon 9.

(Farewell Pegasus)


Edit:  The extendable boom is visible in the image posted by gongora.
The spacecraft is a Ball Aerospace smallsat with heritage to the Green Propellant Infusion Mission launched last month on Falcon Heavy #3 as part of STP-2.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2019 02:14 am by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #3 on: 07/08/2019 09:35 pm »
https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1148344032051040256
Quote
To add to this: NASA says SpaceX can use a previously flown booster on this mission.

IXPE is a small satellite, but this launch contract is less than what NASA paid for for the still-pending Pegasus XL launch of ICON ($56.3M in a 2014 contract). Think about that…
« Last Edit: 07/08/2019 09:36 pm by gongora »

Online whitelancer64

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #4 on: 07/08/2019 09:36 pm »
Quote
The total cost for NASA to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

Hot diggity. Cheaper than a Pegasus XL launch.

And that's with NASA's red tape. Is this the lowest (at least publicly known) paid price for a Falcon 9 launch ever?
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline scr00chy

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #5 on: 07/08/2019 09:46 pm »
Is this the lowest (at least publicly known) paid price for a Falcon 9 launch ever?
Yes. I made a list recently of public F9/FH launch prices. But prices for commercial launches are usually
undisclosed.

Let me know if you find any mistakes or know of another launch with a known price and I'll add it.

Online toren

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #6 on: 07/08/2019 09:49 pm »
Interesting.  Up to now, SpaceX has largely realized the benefits of reuse in logistics - clearing up their backlog and having boosters on tap for short(er) notice launches.  Seems they are now beginning to use those benefits for noticeable price reductions.  Could do nasty things to margins at ULA, Arianespace, et. al...

Online abaddon

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #7 on: 07/08/2019 09:55 pm »
Seems like this is the new price of F9 moving forward for a "regular" launch not requiring a new or expended booster (each of which might independently add a premium).  Presumably IXPE doesn't require special processing beyond what is normally done for a regular communications satellite.

This is a very compelling data point to suggest that SpaceX is indeed actually lowering launch price, not just holding firm against inflation.


Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #8 on: 07/08/2019 10:30 pm »
It would not surprise me if SpaceX wholesales some of the ~1.4 ton excess capacity to someone like Spaceflight Services.
NSF member JonGoff has published some ideas on scavenging the reserve fuel from upper stages, too.
$50.3 M might not be their total revenue.
But then again, they could do that.


Edit: spelling
« Last Edit: 07/08/2019 10:39 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #9 on: 07/09/2019 01:02 am »
I do wonder if Virgin Orbit can be competitive with F9 in such missions if they get LauncherOne to certification....
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Offline cscott

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #10 on: 07/09/2019 02:01 am »
Context for IPXE mission:
https://spacenews.com/nasa-selects-x-ray-astronomy-mission/
Quote
IXPE was one of three finalists selected by NASA in July 2015 in the latest round of the Small Explorers program, intended for small space science missions with a cost cap, excluding launch, of $125 million. The other two finalists were an all-sky infrared survey spacecraft called SPHEREx and another X-ray polarimetry mission, the Polarimeter for Relativistic Astrophysical X-ray Sources, or PRAXyS.

The total cost of IXPE, including launch and operations, will be $188 million, according to the NASA announcement. The release did not indicate what vehicle would launch IXPE, but previous presentations about the proposed mission stated it was designed to launch on an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL, a vehicle that has been used by NASA for other small space science missions.

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #11 on: 07/09/2019 03:28 am »
I do wonder if Virgin Orbit can be competitive with F9 in such missions if they get LauncherOne to certification....

LauncherOne seems to be a little underpowered for this one (not by much). For payloads that can go on the smallsat launchers they could save a lot of money in the future.  Pegasus is just not competitive anymore.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2019 04:02 am by gongora »

Online LouScheffer

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #12 on: 07/09/2019 03:44 am »

NSF member OneSpeed calculated that the "Block 5" Falcon 9 could put 1800 kg into an equatorial orbit by combining the circularization burn with the enormous plane change.  This is many times the mass of IXPE.

Here's a simple way to figure out the capacity of F9 to such an orbit.  First, find circular velocity at 540 km, about 7600 m/s.

Then find a 27.5 degree plane change (usually the first stages can get rid of about 1o of inclination).   It's about 3612 m/s.  The circularization part of this burn will add very little, since the direction is different.

If applied straight ahead, this delta-V would be beyond escape, and correspond to a C3 of about 11.

Now you can go the LSP performance calculator, and plug in C3=11, and see what payload you can get.   (You actually need to use C3=10, that's as far as F9 goes, and then get plots and extrapolate.  I guess they never planned for payloads this light.)  This gives about 750 kg for RTLS and 2100 kg for ASDS recovery.

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #13 on: 07/09/2019 03:52 am »
I do wonder if Virgin Orbit can be competitive with F9 in such missions if they get LauncherOne to certification....

LauncherOne seems to be a little underpowered for this one (not by much).  For payloads that can go on the smallsat launchers they could save a lot of money in the future.  Pegasus is just not competitive anymore.

The LauncherOne Service Guide lists its capability as ~460 kg to ~540 km at 0 degrees inclination, the target orbit for IXPE.
The IXPE spacecraft is ~320 kg, so it is well within the capability of LauncherOne.

However, the IXPE mission was designed for the capabilities of Pegasus.
While LauncherOne could carry it as is, as can a Falcon 9, the question is what cost savings could be achieved by designing to the full capability.

And if LauncherOne really meets the projection of $10-12M after certification, it would certainly have been competitive for this small payload.
But it's not there yet.  It's more than a "paper rocket" but it not yet a proven one.


But this thread is about a SpaceX launch.  There are other threads discussing competitors, current and future.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Comga

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #14 on: 07/09/2019 03:57 am »

NSF member OneSpeed calculated that the "Block 5" Falcon 9 could put 1800 kg into an equatorial orbit by combining the circularization burn with the enormous plane change.  This is many times the mass of IXPE.

Here's a simple way to figure out the capacity of F9 to such an orbit.  First, find circular velocity at 540 km, about 7600 m/s.

Then find a 27.5 degree plane change (usually the first stages can get rid of about 1o of inclination).   It's about 3612 m/s.  The circularization part of this burn will add very little, since the direction is different.

If applied straight ahead, this delta-V would be beyond escape, and correspond to a C3 of about 11.

Now you can go the LSP performance calculator, and plug in C3=11, and see what payload you can get.   (You actually need to use C3=10, that's as far as F9 goes, and then get plots and extrapolate.  I guess they never planned for payloads this light.)  This gives about 750 kg for RTLS and 2100 kg for ASDS recovery.

Clever

So if SpaceX did an RTLS with just IXPE on board, and recovered the fairing halves, the launch price would only have to cover the second stage, fuel (which Musk says is a rounding error) and operations.
That sounds like even less than $50M worth.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #15 on: 07/09/2019 04:02 am »
The LauncherOne Service Guide lists its capability as ~460 kg to ~540 km at 0 degrees inclination, the target orbit for IXPE.
The IXPE spacecraft is ~320 kg, so it is well within the capability of LauncherOne.

I guess I shouldn't try to read graphs when I'm tired, I somehow switched the meanings of the axes.

Offline Star One

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #16 on: 07/09/2019 07:57 am »
Quote
The total cost for NASA to launch IXPE is approximately $50.3 million, which includes the launch service and other mission-related costs.

Hot diggity. Cheaper than a Pegasus XL launch.

And that's with NASA's red tape. Is this the lowest (at least publicly known) paid price for a Falcon 9 launch ever?

You say red tape. I say no doubt important paperwork & checks that support a successful launch.

Online smoliarm

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #17 on: 07/09/2019 10:47 am »
Is this the lowest (at least publicly known) paid price for a Falcon 9 launch ever?
Yes. I made a list recently of public F9/FH launch prices. But prices for commercial launches are usually
undisclosed.

Let me know if you find any mistakes or know of another launch with a known price and I'll add it.

A little correction to "GPS-III Contract #2" entry:
The original contract value was $96.5 M, later it was modified with additional $5.6 M, as noted here.
So the total = $102.1 M

Also, you mentioned AFSPC-44 contract (for Falcon Heavy) in NROL-85/NROL-87 entry, but there is no entry for AFSPC-44 in Falcon Heavy section.

Not a correction, just may be worth mention - the original value of STP-2 was $165 M.
And the value of $160.9 M may reflect discount for "used" boosters.

Great list, thanks for sharing!

Offline Rismagi

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #18 on: 07/09/2019 11:37 am »
Is this the lowest (at least publicly known) paid price for a Falcon 9 launch ever?
Yes. I made a list recently of public F9/FH launch prices. But prices for commercial launches are usually
undisclosed.

Let me know if you find any mistakes or know of another launch with a known price and I'll add it.

Some SpaceX payloads contracted to be launched on Falcon 1 ended up on Falcon 9:

CASSIOPE - about $12 million (20% of normal price) - first commercial mission and first Falcon 9 v1.1 flight

ORBCOMM - $42.6 million for 2 launches

Formosat-5 - $23 million

Offline scr00chy

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA IXPE : April 2021
« Reply #19 on: 07/09/2019 11:44 am »

A little correction to "GPS-III Contract #2" entry:
The original contract value was $96.5 M, later it was modified with additional $5.6 M, as noted here.
So the total = $102.1 M

Also, you mentioned AFSPC-44 contract (for Falcon Heavy) in NROL-85/NROL-87 entry, but there is no entry for AFSPC-44 in Falcon Heavy section.

Not a correction, just may be worth mention - the original value of STP-2 was $165 M.
And the value of $160.9 M may reflect discount for "used" boosters.

Great list, thanks for sharing!

Thank you! I've implemented your suggestions.

BTW, Spaceflight Now mentions 185 million as the original price for STP-2 but I think it's a mistake/typo.


Some SpaceX payloads contracted to be launched on Falcon 1 ended up on Falcon 9:


Yeah, I know, I purposefully didn't include them since they don't reflect actual F9 prices.

---

Anyway, this is off topic here, so if you'd like to discuss the list more, please use Reddit where I posted it a week ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/SpaceXLounge/comments/c6lf3l/i_made_a_list_of_f9_and_fh_contracts_with_known/
« Last Edit: 07/09/2019 11:50 am by scr00chy »

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