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SpaceX's Big Falcon Topic 2

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On 4/14/2018 at 1:39 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hopefully that'll be ironed out.  Regulations regarding video from space not enforced prior to seeing Starman in front of the Earth are now enforced.  The regulation existed for a long time and now the routine use of cameras aboard 2nd stages of rockets are falling under it.

 

Tomorrow's launch of a Falcon 9 will carry the TESS space telescope to orbit:

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TESS is a space telescope in NASA's Explorer program, designed to search for extrasolar planets using the transit method. The primary mission objective for TESS is to survey the brightest stars near the Earth for transiting exoplanets over a two-year period. The TESS project will use an array of wide-field cameras to perform an all-sky survey. It will scan nearby stars for exoplanets.

Interesting, The second stage will not be de-orbited on this mission but it will be put in a hyperbolic disposal orbit (ejecting it into interplanetary space).

The fairing will soft land in the ocean, without attempting to catch it with Mr. Steven.

Launch scheduled currently for April 16 th 2018, 18:32 - 18:33 EDT (22:32 - 22:33 UTC).

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Posted (edited)

SpaceX is starting production of the first BFR (probably the upper stage ship for grasshopper flights) at their new Port of Los Angeles location.

Today's TESS launch will be the last new Block 4 version of Falcon 9.  It'll fly a few times probably, including the next CRS resupply mission to the ISS later this year.  Block 5 will be soon to fly!

Webcast will be here:

 

From NASA it seems the SLS is being delayed yet again.  Will it ever actually fly?  Most space industry journalists doubt it.

Just going to steal a quote from an comment I've seen on nasawatch.com:
Quote

 

So, one SLS launch per year of an empty Orion capsule, for four years, at presumably something like the current $4.5 billion baseline annual funding.

One way of looking at it is that four uncrewed test flights with no major configuration changes before the first crewed flight is a far more realistic approach than the previous plan, given the specific issues that have been piling up and the general unknowns of flying a major new launch system.

From a cost-effectiveness angle though, that's three years before first flight, plus four annual uncrewed test flights, plus one or two more years for the first crewed flight, at $4.5 billion-plus per year. Ignoring the huge sunk cost, that's $36 billion ($4.5G/yr, 8 years) to $43 billion (the current overall total $4.8G/yr, 9 years) in future (and thus still optional and redirectable) costs to reach first crewed SLS/Orion flight.

Even if they were trying to, it's hard to see how they could do a better job of calling into question whether this is a wise use of near half of NASA Human Spaceflight's likely funding for the next nine years.

 

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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1 hour ago, Erik of Hazelfield said:

SC, can you please comment on Elon’s last tweets? Is he seriously suggesting they recover the second stage with a giant balloon or is it some late April’s fool joke?

https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/status/985655249745592320

Pretty sure he's serious, but wording it with his usual exaggeration.  An old idea they are probably using is the concept of a "ballute", which is a combo of a parachute and a balloon.  The problem with a simple parachute dropping from orbit at supersonic velocity is it wouldn't have the atmospheric pressure surrounding it to maintain it's shape as the 2nd stage descended into the atmosphere, twisting up and probably burning up.  So they design it to inflate and hold the shape.  I wouldn't be surprised if they have some way to steer it too, like a parafoil-shaped ballute.  Their experience with recovering the fairing, though they're yet to catch it with the ship, has probably encouraged them to make the attempt.

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Launch of TESS scrubbed for today, but Wednesday's weather is looking near 100% clear.

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21 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

Launch of TESS scrubbed for today, but Wednesday's weather is looking near 100% clear.

You wanna live-post it? I'll set an alarm on my phone.

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6 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

You wanna live-post it? I'll set an alarm on my phone.

Not sure what you mean...  Like describe the launch second by second in text??  haha, not doing that.

At the webcast youtube page, you can click on the notifications bell symbol to let youtube notify you for the start of the cast, if you're logged in.   Here:

 

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https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/05/block-5-rocket-launch-marks-the-end-of-the-beginning-for-spacex/

Finally, the last(ish) iteration of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Block 5 variant, the final major upgrade, is debuting Monday, May 7th in a launch of communications satellite for Bangladesh.  Only future modifications of F9 will likely be minor adjustments, unless something major is uncovered.  So the development team of SpaceX will be immediately moving on to producing the first BFR rocket for grasshopper tests beginning next year.

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Posted (edited)

Stream for the Bangabandhu-1 sat launch by the first Block 5 version of Falcon 9, scheduled for 5:47pm EST today  (ie starting soon).

 

From a pre-flight conference call:

Quote

Full conference call highlights

  • Really the 6th iteration of F9

  • 8% increase in thrust of S1

  • Last major revision

  • Up to 300 more flights with block 5

  • 2nd stage has block 5 engine but will operate like a block 4 for this flight

  • The interstage looks cool

  • Re-flying same block 5 core within 24 hours next year

  • Leg 2.0

  • No more aluminum grid fins

  • Elon confident that full reusability of the Second Stage is achievable.

  • Gaining data about 2nd stage entry now. They transmit to the Iridium constellation

  • Will add thermal protection system to 2nd stage

  • Fuel costs $300,000-400,000. Still hoping to get the marginal cost of a Falcon 9 launch down to $5-$6 million.

  • first stage 60 percent of cost, 2nd stage 20, fairing 10, everything else 10

  • Expecting no unnecessary action between flights. Fold up legs, attach 2nd stage and go.

  • First block 5 to 10 flights most likely next year. Big milestone Elon says.

  • Need to take this booster apart after this flight since it's the first Block 5

  • Human rated rockets must be overdesigned by 40% for crew safety

  • Boca Chica will be re-dedicated to BFR

  • 30 to 50 Block 5 cores planned

  • SpaceX charging $50 million for flight proven flight, instead of $62 million for a new one.

  • NASA can be a pain in the ass sometimes

  • Load and Go issue has been overblown. CAN load fuel and then have astronauts board

  • Massive amount of research and testing in COPV 2.0. Most advanced pressure vessel ever developed by humanity.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Posted (edited)

Launch aborted as soon as the computer took control of the rocket.  Apparently so many things shut down they're still struggling to figure out what was the cause.

Officially scrubbed until tomorrow at 4:14PM EST.

Amazing Falcon Heavy didn't have this kind of thing happen, as was highly likely.  We will see it fly tomorrow I'm sure!

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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13 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

Launch aborted as soon as the computer took control of the rocket.  Apparently so many things shut down they're still struggling to figure out what was the cause.

Officially scrubbed until tomorrow at 4:14PM EST.

Amazing Falcon Heavy didn't have this kind of thing happen, as was highly likely.  We will see it fly tomorrow I'm sure!

 

Silly question, this is a launch from Canaveral?  We’re at the beach and I wonder if we can see it here?

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2 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Silly question, this is a launch from Canaveral?  We’re at the beach and I wonder if we can see it here?

Not silly, could have been a polar launch from Vandenburg.  But it a sat for Bangladesh, so it's got to get to geosynch to hover over that longitude.  So it's launching from KSC, LC-39A.

Should be a great view!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

Not silly, could have been a polar launch from Vandenburg.  But it a sat for Bangladesh, so it's got to get to geosynch to hover over that longitude.  So it's launching from KSC, LC-39A.

Should be a great view!

Random question SpaceChampion. 

You ever play Kerbal Space Program?

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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24 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

Random question SpaceChampion. 

You ever play Kerbal Space Program?

I haven't.  I'm not really a gamer.  Or when I am I spend too much time on it, so decided not to be one.

I know it's popular amongst people at SpaceX and space fans in general though.

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That was great.  The video section in the middle showing how much this means to the people of Bangladesh was amazing.   They must have been freaking out a little when the mission was scrubbed yesterday, but happy now that they have their own satellite.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

I haven't.  I'm not really a gamer.  Or when I am I spend too much time on it, so decided not to be one.

I know it's popular amongst people at SpaceX and space fans in general though.

Dang. I was hoping you could give me some tips on how to dock with space stations (I'm too stubborn to watch the YouTube Videos)

Oh well. After enough dead Kerbals I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.

Edited by A True Kaniggit

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I found this rather interesting bit about reusable rockets and SpaceX:

Quote

Forbes

If you go through the R&D costs of developing a reusable launch vehicle, the opportunity costs (in terms of fuel used for return and the lost revenue opportunity for more payload to orbit) of returning the launcher to the first stage, and the costs of refurbishment between flights, generally accepted practice shows that you have to re-use the booster or launch the vehicle 5–10 times before you make your money back if you account for all the costs.

Many papers have been written on this topic and this is a well established ‘rule of thumb’. This doesn’t even account for the price reduction that many customers flying on a ‘used’ first stage will likely demand.

Thus I am thinking that very few, if any, of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stages are going to be re-used for more than 3 or so flights and that SpaceX will therefore not break even on the reusability portion of the equation.

Why then would SpaceX want to have a landing reusable rocket? Two reasons.

First, this is an obvious Mars landing technology and if this is one of SpaceX’s goals (as I believe it is since this was the main reason that the company was started), the landing system development costs can be counted against a number of other accounts not related to reusability.

Secondly, and I think that this is the dominant answer, reusability allows a marked increase in flight rates. Reverse engineered financial models of SpaceX show that to reach a good strong positive cash flow, they need more than the traditional 10–12 launches per year that sized rocket has demonstrated. Reusability should easily double the amount of flights possible from a mere production and logistics standpoint.

With reusability, 20–25 flights a year puts SpaceX into a much more positive cash flow position and thus I believe that this is a very important driver. I believe that the first stage has been identified as one of the bottle necks to flying more often mainly due to its production, transport and attendant infrastructure. Reusability is a great brand image generator, but, more importantly, it enables SpaceX to double their flight rate and make more money, all the while preparing for Mars landings with the reusability technology.

IIRC None of the Falcon 9's have been flown more than twice at this point. But it still could be worth it if it ultimately allows for a much higher schedule of launches.

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