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Reusing Boosters: Launch, Land, and Re-Launch

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Grendal, May 16, 2016.

  1. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Okay. Now SpaceX has three of these. Elon said at the news conference after the CRS-8 landing that they would re-launch one of these in June. Hopefully we'll see some activity happening with these in the near future. The first step is a multi-burn static test fire to test the engines.

    We also know that the first one (Orbcomm) is going to be going to Hawthorne and parked outside the factory. SpaceX is just waiting on permits and an okay from the city and the FAA.

    3 boosters.jpg 3 booster barn.jpg
     
  2. Chris TX

    Chris TX Active Member

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    Oh look, it's a DIY Falcon Heavy kit!
     
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  3. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Booster and worker.jpg

    Just a perspective on the amazing accomplishment that this is:

     
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  4. HVM

    HVM Savolainen

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    rel.jpg




    height_f9.jpg
     
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  5. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Alright. We're getting testing of used stages happening at McGregor:

    SpaceX test fires returned Falcon 9 booster at McGregor | NASASpaceFlight.com

    I also found out and mentioned in another thread that SpaceX has very recently signed a contract with a customer for the first re-use flight later this year. The details of who and when are unknown at this point. It has been said that the CRS-8 booster will be the first one to be re-used.
     
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  6. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    This really makes a lot of sense, and not just for cost reasons. How many people would feel safer on the 10th flight of a 757 or on the very first test flight at the factory?
     
  7. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    SpaceX has posted a video of a full burn test with this booster:



    It should be noted that this booster is one of the "hot landing" boosters (JSAT14) that had a lot of reentry damage. So SpaceX is not taking the easy road with re-usability. They are pushing the envelope as to be expected with one of Elon's companies. If this had been a launch instead of a test burn it would have gotten its payload into orbit.
     
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  8. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    This is the flip in the paradigm of getting to orbit and into space that others have mentioned, and that I'm eager to see. Today, we view the second user of a rocket as somebody needing to take a discount for taking on the additional risk of a used rocket taking their payload to space.

    At some point, we'll have enough re-used rockets and enough flights and reflights of them, that the discounts will go to first payload / first users of a rocket. In effect - first launch payloads will get a cheaper rate, because they are also the testers that prove that the particular rocket was correctly and completely manufactured. Reusable rockets, if it's only SpaceX that has them, are going to turn the economics of getting into orbit upside down twice over.

    Once when they get to fly (nearly) free rockets for the 2nd and later missions.

    The second time, when they get to charge more for the 2nd and later missions, due to improved odds of success / lower insurance rates / etc. Talk about good for the gross margin - cost for the mission drops dramatically, and the market pricing power increases.


    Everybody not getting to reusable rockets soon enough will be unable to compete economically. I'd say this includes nations, not just private companies.
     
  9. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I suspect you're correct about economic competition, but an awful lot of space expenditures are politically driven. That will keep Russia, China, Japan, Europe and ULA going for some time.
     
  10. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    I agree that the politically driven nature of many expenditures, will keep many nations participating for a long time. The ah-hah for me is that at some point, no level of commitment will be adequate to continue in the field without also getting reuse started.

    The scale of improvement is so large, reuse may be nice-to-have today. It won't be nice-to-have in the future - it'll be mandatory to remain competitive (whether competition is defined in terms of profitability, or in terms of putting adequate quantities of space based resources into orbit to keep up with other nations).
     
  11. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    JSAT14 hot landed booster has now been fully fired three times in the last three days. So the re-usability testing is now going at full (ludicrous) speed. I expect it will happen seven more times during the next week. That will be the ten burn re-used booster test that Elon has talked about.
     
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  12. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Spectacular!
     
  13. Matias

    Matias Active Member

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    Interesting article about economics of reusability

    SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9: What are the real cost savings for customers? - SpaceNews.com

    I don't quite understand why you need so many lauches/year to make reusability economically feasible.

    Is the premise, that you need enough launches/year to make production line cost efective and since reusability reduces the need for new rockets, you need tens of lauches/year to keep production line running at economical rate?
     
  14. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I'd be more impressed if the formulas in the cost table were correct and if they included costs more accurately.

    C != A*B, C = A*(1-B) to start.

    Then there's the issue that they equate the cost or the rocket and the cost of the launch. That completely leaves out processing costs, range costs, fuel, etc. Including those costs wouldn't make the savings for SpaceX greater, but it would make the analysis more credible.

    I also don't see why SpaceX should make their launch price significantly lower after some initial incentive pricing for the first few reuse launches. I'm doubtful that complex vehicles like aircraft, ships, trains, and rockets have fewer failures on their initial trip than on later ones. We use words like "shake down cruise", "test flight", etc. for a reason.

    Finally, SpaceX sells launches, not rockets, so if they can do a launch for less money, it's profit. Arianspace, as a multi-government organization, may feel that maintaining a large production line, and high employee count is essential, but I don't see how that applies to SpaceX. It's a bit difficult for me to see how building a complex device like a rocket for one time use is obviously cheaper than reusing it, even if it's only for a few reuses.
     
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  15. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    So SpaceX, or possibly commenters, have dropped the satellite designation for reused boosters. For example I used JCSAT-14 booster to designate the booster returned from the JCSAT-14 launch. That will make no sense in a reuse scenario since the booster will likely be lofting a different satellite. So the current decision is to use the description of its initial flight number as its designator. So here is a list of current boosters/cores and what we know about them:

    F9-0020 was the first and is now sitting outside the factory in Hawthorne waiting to be stood up for display. It has a set of dummy engines now. Maybe SpaceX will reuse the used engines in some way.

    F9-0023 was the first successful drone ship landing. It has been said that this is the booster designated for the first reuse launch. It is in excellent shape. It will be re-flown this year if everything goes as planned.

    F9-0024 was the first hot landing booster. It received the most damage of all currently returned boosters. It will not be re-flown and will be the test mule for abuse and will be thoroughly tested as we are describing in this thread. It's been fully re-fired at least three times so far.

    F9-0025 was the second hot landed booster. It is also pretty beat up. I expect that it will be re-flown to prove a beat up booster can still work too.

    F9-0027 was the second RTLS booster. It's in great shape and should be up for a reuse flight.

    F9-0028 was the first GTO booster that is not been thoroughly abused. SpaceX did a single engine burn that reduced the damage on this one.

    So we have six landed boosters in nine months. Four are available for reuse at any time. The current stats are a 60% success rate of 6 successful landings out of 10 tries. The next try, Amos-6, will be the heaviest GTO satellite to date. Elon mentioned early this year that he expected a 70% success rate for this year.
     
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  16. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    There is a mystery booster parked outside of the Hawthorne factory. It has apparently come in from Florida for an unknown reason. I'm hoping it is the first reuse booster coming in to be integrated with a new second stage. It is currently unknown which booster this is. As best it can be determined it has come in from Florida though and is a used booster.

    Mystery booster.jpg
     
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  17. BluestarE3

    BluestarE3 Active Member

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    To make a matching set to go with the other one already on display there? :)
     
  18. ggr

    ggr Roadster R80 537, SigS P85 29

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    Since they can't transport it with the second stage attached, I don't see why they'd have to ship it back to Hawthorne to do the integration. Also, what makes you think it came in from Florida? Maybe it's a brand new one just waiting for the right time to head east. They might have needed the space in the factory, since it only has room for three boosters at a time.
     
  19. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Good questions. Facebook SpaceX has lots of "inside" posters and they have lots (200K participants) of people along the booster traveling route that saw that this booster is coming from Florida. No one, including insiders, know why this is in Hawthorne or they aren't talking. I'm just hopefully guessing as to the reason it is there. We know that a reusable flight is going to take place in the coming months. Since this is new territory, no one can know what the process is for what a reuse booster will do prior to reuse except for SpaceX personnel.
     
  20. RubberToe

    RubberToe Supporting the greater good

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    Nope, clearly a cleverly disguised Faraday Future mule driving around.

    RT
     
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