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Boeing/DARPA re-usable space plane: 10 launches in 10 days?

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by e-FTW, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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  2. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    Looks like this design is remniscent of Space Shuttle that is boosted by a rocket, except this is a much smaller version.

    The question is, what happens to the booster rocket? does it land back?
     
  3. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I'm no expert but yeah, it's kind of shuttle-like except the booster has the wings so it does land. The smaller rocket is like the second stage of an F-9 and has the payload to be delivered to orbit. The booster does use an AeroJet engine, designed for the shuttle. Actually, to me, it's reminiscent of a Pegasus rocket that is carried aloft by an L-1011 and launched from 40,000 ft. Except in this case jet is replaced by a winged booster (and no human crew).
    Overall, I think it's interesting as an experimental craft but seems more expensive than the F-9 in $/kg to orbit. Shuttle engine was expensive to operate. I suspect because of fuel type, LH2. We'll see if this does any better.
     
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  4. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #4 Grendal, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
    There is no booster rocket. It's a SSTO (single stage to orbit) with wings for a gliding landing. The little booster thing on the back is the second stage with the payload attached.

    I am not a rocket scientist but my instincts are saying that this won't work. SSTO has always been the holy grail of rocketry and it has never been pulled off. The Merlin 1D has the best thrust to weight ratio of any engine created. The Raptor will likely be the best thrust to weight and efficiency of any engine ever created and it probably still couldn't get this thing to orbit or near orbit. If possible, it would take something like Raptor to pull it off.

    Secondly, why? Fundamentally, this is a teeny tiny F9 with wings so that you have less reentry damage. Now you have F9. It works. It's reusable. You can launch 15 times the payload and still reuse the booster. This doesn't really exist at all and DARPA is just handing Boeing $150 million to experiment with the idea.
     
  5. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I'm not convinced it's an SSTO. That's why I made the Pegasus reference. I see nothing that indicates the winged part (Boeing calls it a booster) is expected to achieve orbit. That's what the second stage does.
    Totally guessing that what the USAF wants is a quick capability to put something light (<1000 kg) into LEO. Land, rinse, repeat.
    This is kind of a bigger more expensive version of the little rocket they used to launch from an F-15 (I think that's what it was). But no people, so less safety risk.
    Again, just a guess.
     
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  6. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    Honestly the payload is delivered by the 2nd stage and so this should be considered as a two stage delivery system ?

    Also as you said the glide and rentry system is it really needed, given that SpaceX has already demonstrated spectacularly many times the landing of a rocket stage on a very small foot print, instead of a lengthy runway needed for the Boeing design
     
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  7. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    I should have quoted Grendal's post for my reply !
     
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  8. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #8 Grendal, Jun 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
    Yeah. I suppose I was a little ambitious to consider this was a SSTO. So it is really a winged booster stage. Overall my point that it makes no sense still stands. The reality is that DARPA could have given the $150 million to SpaceX and had them recreate the Falcon 1 with their current knowledge from F9 to pull from. SpaceX could apply their recovery technology and have the F1 booster land for reuse. The second stage could boost the small payload to orbit. I doubt it would cost SpaceX even $100 million to come up with the plans for such a thing. I'd go with $10 million to $20 million. Just sayin'.....

    Yes. SpaceX is already doing this at a much larger scale. As I mentioned to Sparky, if they needed a smaller version then have SpaceX dust off the Falcon 1 and bring the lessons learned from F9 onto that program for DARPA. The plan would probably work and cost an order of magnitude less than any Boeing design.
     
  9. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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    Thanks for the replies, especially those that read the article. It is a long one. :)
    Yes, it was the F-15, the engine is a SSME, etc.

    Am really curious to see if the rinse-wash-and-repeat in a single day is possible. Then cost per launch...
     
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  10. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    You may well be right, however...I'm not sure Elon would think that was a worthwhile project for SpaceX to undertake. What does it do to advance his goal of creating a self-sustaining colony on Mars? From a technology point of view, nothing. It might generate additional revenue, which could be useful of course. But it might not generate much additional revenue. Could be more of a distraction than anything else.

    Let Boeing play with DARPA's money. I am dubious that this vehicle will ever become a reality.
     
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  11. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    IMHO the entire point to this project is to shovel more money into ULA so Sen. Shelby can get more money into his district.

    My projected project plan:
    1. Darpa requires 10 launches in 10 days.
    2. SpaceX and everyone else think it's impossible and stupid. All except one don't bid.
    3. ULA says "Sure, no problem"
    4. ULA gets contract.
    5. Years pass, many millions spent.
    6. ULA: "Um, it's impossible. We can do 10 launches in 2 years for $3B if you buy them all up front".
    7. DARPA: "Since no one else bid, OK, here's the money."
    8. ULA: "We want it in Bitcoin".
    The job goes to the lowest (or only) bidder.
     
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  12. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    This is a Boeing project. The rest is still accurate though.

    I expect that Boeing will fail to actually build anything but get more money and then after two more payouts (of $100+ million each) the idea will be scrapped.
     
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  13. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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    Well it's settled then: boondoggle it is!
     
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  14. GoTslaGo

    GoTslaGo Learning Member

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    Dumb question. Isn't this kind of what Virgin Galactic is doing? (I know not to orbit...)
     
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  15. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Not really dumb at all. Kinda sort of yes. This is a sub-orbital too. <And actually, VG isn't even going to the Karman line anymore.> Back to your question. The better way to think about this is that this is a small first stage booster with wings. VG's payload is tourists and needs to have life support. VG is more of a rocket plane than a booster. I do get your connection between the two though.
     
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