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Thread: SpaceX

  1. #1
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    Smile SpaceX

    Hello. I find the 'SpaceX' story an interesting one. They seem to be using landing legs to return the first stage of the rocket to hopefully be re-used.

    Question: Why has this not been done before?

    #2. I don't see other rocket builders doing the same thing. Why? Could it be that they cannot afford to do so?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorn View Post
    Hello. I find the 'SpaceX' story an interesting one. They seem to be using landing legs to return the first stage of the rocket to hopefully be re-used.

    Question: Why has this not been done before?

    #2. I don't see other rocket builders doing the same thing. Why? Could it be that they cannot afford to do so?

    Bye
    SC
    It's been worked on but some of the projects ran into various issues to do with mission profiles and budgets. DC-X successfully made landings but was hampered by political infighting and possibly being over ambitious in that the long term aim of the project was a Single Stage To Orbit(SSTO) vehicle. Details are here. DC-X did apparently provide an inspiration for the current work being done by Blue Origin. Japan had the RVT program that was successful but so far hasn't led to any further developments.

    SpaceX are limiting their work at the moment to a reusable first stage, which somewhat simplifies things. Added to which they can do testing using existing hardware and working it into other programs; i.e. testing the landing legs on the next CRS flight.

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    NASA is struggling to even have a rocket and is heavily hamstrung by political concerns, so is ESA but for different reasons, and ULA (Lockheed/Boeing) are more interested in lobbying for a monopoly so they can keep selling their current expensive launchers forever. The Russian space program has relatively little money but there's been rumblings of their budget going up, so that might change things. India has talked about reusable rockets but it's something still firmly in the future. China I don't really know about - do they have any plans?

    Basically, due to various reasons SpaceX are the only ones with the will and means to do it. They've demonstrated that any number of organizations could have done it with a modest investment, they've just chosen not to. It's kinda sad but I'm happy at least someone is trying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorn View Post
    Hello. I find the 'SpaceX' story an interesting one. They seem to be using landing legs to return the first stage of the rocket to hopefully be re-used.

    Question: Why has this not been done before?
    For one thing, it's hard. Musk has made that clear himself. He has stated he wasn't sure reusable was practical, though lately he has said he's become much more confident that it is.

    When you get down to it, you're dealing with a small margin that represents the payload, so extra mass that's going to trajectory requirements, a landing system, and the fuel for landing could use up the margin. Then too, you want a rocket that's fairly robust, so it is practical to reuse it. Incidentally, this makes more sense with a larger rocket, since the payload fraction is small.

    In early plans, the Space Shuttle was supposed to be something like this, with a fly back first stage. That got lost to budget compromises, and the whole thing became extremely expensive. And compare the development of the Space Shuttle, where they finally were going to do an engine upgrade (which would have stopped the need to rebuild the engines after each flight) right about the time it was taken out of service, to SpaceX where they've already had a major engine upgrade and are now working on a methane fuel rocket. The space shuttle should have been through at least two major design generations with more upgrades during the flight of those generations to resolve the high maintenance and high operating cost aspects. But as a government program, operating cost wasn't anywhere near their top priority, so it didn't happen.

    #2. I don't see other rocket builders doing the same thing. Why? Could it be that they cannot afford to do so?
    The most important thing has always been to get the spacecraft to orbit. The traditional aerospace companies have been getting paid plenty for military and NASA work, and don't want to rock the boat. They will only work on something new if they're getting paid for it (like various X programs). Also, there is a strong tendency by engineers to keep using what works, especially for these highly critical systems. It took somebody from outside the system to rock the boat. Musk isn't the first to try - there have been some other commercial attempts, but this is a hugely expensive and difficult market to break into. Part of the reason Musk has a chance is because the conditions are changing.

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    Musk's fortune from Solar City, and especially Tesla, has grown to the point where he can self-finance many projects. Almost $12 billion according to Bloomberg, more according to others.

    This also lets him borrow against stock to finance projects or upgrades. Gives him other funding options as well.

    It's good to be rich.
    Last edited by docmordrid; 2014-Mar-10 at 11:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    The most important thing has always been to get the spacecraft to orbit. The traditional aerospace companies have been getting paid plenty for military and NASA work, and don't want to rock the boat. They will only work on something new if they're getting paid for it (like various X programs). Also, there is a strong tendency by engineers to keep using what works, especially for these highly critical systems. It took somebody from outside the system to rock the boat. Musk isn't the first to try - there have been some other commercial attempts, but this is a hugely expensive and difficult market to break into. Part of the reason Musk has a chance is because the conditions are changing.
    That has been the problem; the market in space launchers has been pretty stagnant and until COTS efforts to stir it up hadn't really succeeded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Musk's fortune from Solar City, and especially Tesla, has grown to the point where he can self-finance many projects. Almost $12 billion according to Bloomberg, more according to others.

    This also lets him borrow against stock to finance projects or upgrades. Gives him other funding options as well.

    It's good to be rich.
    And don't forget SpaceX has a very healthy order book as well.

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    It's great that at least some folk with visions beyond 'make myself richer tomorrow' are able to get rich.

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    The guy is quite inspiring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marsbug View Post
    It's great that at least some folk with visions beyond 'make myself richer tomorrow' are able to get rich.
    I think there are two kinds of rich people basically; those who look at their big pile of money and simply want to keep that pile or make it bigger. Then you have the ones who look at it and think; 'probably should find something useful to do with that'.

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    It seems pretty obvious Musk's goals are revolutionizing transportation and energy, at least in terms of affordable solar installations. It'd be interesting to see the electric jet aircraft concept he talked about a few years back.

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    SpaceX main competitor for the commercial launch market will be China says SpaceX

    http://www.space.com/23207-spacex-co...ion-china.html

    "We really feel at SpaceX that the competition is going to be the Chinese space program,"

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    SpaceX main competitor for the commercial launch market will be China says SpaceX

    http://www.space.com/23207-spacex-co...ion-china.html
    I think that was an effort to light a fire under US legislators and get them take commercial crew seriously and stop the seemingly endless cycle of incomplete projects that's stalled NASA for years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    It seems pretty obvious Musk's goals are revolutionizing transportation and energy, at least in terms of affordable solar installations. It'd be interesting to see the electric jet aircraft concept he talked about a few years back.
    I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't see a high speed (similar to modern airliners or faster) electric aircraft with usefully long range as a physical possibility, given the current technological capability. Aircraft are much more sensitive to weight and energy density than cars, and electric is significantly worse than turbines in both areas.

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    New article on SpaceX rockets Concepts & Designs

    http://www.spaceflight101.com/spacex...-concepts.html

    While focusing on the evolution of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch system and the implementation of re-usable rocket technology, SpaceX has also been working on concepts and designs for future heavy-lift and super-heavy lift rockets. SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk are aiming at manned flights to Mars in the next two decades which will require powerful launch vehicles that can send payloads of up to 100 metric tons to Mars.

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    Elon was on 60 minute recently
    http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-...ld-fail-2014-3

    2008 was a very bad year for him:
    http://www.space.com/25355-elon-musk...interview.html

    There was a blurb about him wanting to produce the worlds largest battery factory:
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/elon...-factory-36222

    That may be his biggest achievement yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Musk's fortune from Solar City, and especially Tesla, has grown to the point where he can self-finance many projects. Almost $12 billion according to Bloomberg, more according to others.

    This also lets him borrow against stock to finance projects or upgrades. Gives him other funding options as well.

    It's good to be rich.

    I wonder if he might want to keep the battery plant, and sell Tesla itself off to GM or Ford, so he can concentrate on rockets. I imagine automobile manufacturing caused him even more headaches than the Falcon did--more pressure to mass produce.

    Most folks avoid aviation/aerospace due to huge up-front costs, as we saw with the Very Light Jet debacle. Musk didn't pack it in like Beal did--he stuck it out.
    Last edited by publiusr; 2014-Apr-11 at 10:32 PM.

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    SpaceX passes another hurdle for it's space port

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/new...a4bcf6878.html

    A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessment regarding proposed rocket launches in Cameron County has brought SpaceX another step closer to planting its flag on Boca Chica Beach, officials indicated Thursday.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    SpaceX passes another hurdle for it's space port
    Actually, it's Cameron county's hurdle to attract SpaceX. Although, it does keep Boca Chica on the list of possibilities for SpaceX.

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    Attraction is over, we're into the wedding rehearsal. SpaceX has acquired so much property at and around Boca Chica, even developing a Mars Crossing subdivision, that their going elsewhere is vanishingly unlikely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by docmordrid View Post
    Attraction is over, we're into the wedding rehearsal. SpaceX has acquired so much property at and around Boca Chica, even developing a Mars Crossing subdivision, that their going elsewhere is vanishingly unlikely.
    Interesting, so I had to look it up. Apparently you are right.
    According to this view, it's a lot more than the 46 acres for the launch facilities.

    From what I can gather from various searches, that 46 acres is being given up by the wildlife refuge for this. So; I guess it is a big thing.

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    Between bought and leased it's quite large. This local article runs down the building sizes etc.

    http://m.valleymorningstar.com/news/....html?mode=jqm

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    SpaceX has signed on the dotted line for another launch site

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/pr...4,5,6,15,17,34

    NASA signed a property agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., on Monday for use and occupancy of the seaside complex along Florida's central east coast. It will serve as a platform for SpaceX to support their commercial launch activities.

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    Falcon Heavy to launch early next year

    http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1404.../#.U06WQqKpx1E

    "We'll make great use of this pad, I promise," said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, in remarks to the media moments after signing the lease. "We've had architects and our launch site engineering [team] working for many months on the sidelines. We will launch the Falcon Heavy from here first -- from this pad -- early next year."

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    Nice article on SpaceX pushing the boundaries

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/...ng-boundaries/

    SpaceX is continuing to advance the technology that is aimed at creating a fully – and rapidly – reusable launch system, with the recent addition of two key milestones towards that goal. While the F9-R Dev-1 rocket enjoyed a debut hop at the McGregor Test Facility in Texas, the first stage of the Falcon 9 v1.1 – that successfully lofted the CRS-3 Dragon en route to the ISS – achieved a soft splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

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    Elon Musk sues the US government

    http://www.universetoday.com/111535/...unch-monopoly/

    Elon Musk, CEO and founder of the upstart commercial launch venture SpaceX, announced at a press conference today, Friday, April 25, that SpaceX is filing suit against the Federal Government to protest and break the US Air Force’s awarding of lucrative launch contracts for high priority national security satellites to a sole rocket provider – United Launch Alliance (ULA) – on a non competitive basis.

    The gloves are officially off in the intensely mounting duel over multibillion dollar Air Force military launch contracts between SpaceX and ULA.

    “The official protest document will be available Monday, April 28th at www.freedomtolaunch.com and will be filed with the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.,” said SpaceX in an official statement.

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    Indeed, if this was in the EU, just gifting the contract to one supplier would be illegal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Indeed, if this was in the EU, just gifting the contract to one supplier would be illegal.
    At the very least the USAF is going to be forced to explain why they handed out this huge exclusive contract just when ULA actually have some competition.

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    Some more discussion
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/ind...opic=34552.375

    "Elon's contention is not that the F9 had to be certified while the Atlas and Delta did not, but that *after* being certified the F9 was not considered and ULA was sole-sourced to the exclusion of SpaceX. Is that correct? If so he may have a case."

    Typical example of pushing the goalposts back. First, he was thrown off the West Coast under the aegis of range safety. Then we had the Aerospace Corp--that was behind the EELVs, throw out the white paper critical of commercial space.

    Musk is finally fighting back. He really needs to be careful. We saw how ugly things got in the pre-ULA days with Boeing employees stealing info from LockMart.

    If I were Musk, I might double the number of security guards. A rag left in an Ariane engine caused an LV failure. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1768/2

    And sabotage can take even less.

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    Interesting talk by SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell (video in article - duration 30 mins) with Q&A session. Article also is worth a read.

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/04/spa...mation-on.html

    "Will space travel be as ubiquitous as air travel? [SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell] does not think it will be as ubiquitous. She does not believe the costs will ever get quite as affordable as air travel. But it will increase thousands of thousandfold. Right now the cost to get to the ISS - to LEO - is 67 million dollars per seat and we'd like to see space travel, we'd like to see folks going be able to get to Mars for a couple of hundred thousands, maybe half a million Dollars.

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    More developments on the air force contract, this time questions by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and the 2nd to Department of Defense Inspector General Jon T. Rymer

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/04/...ct/#more-52223

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