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SpaceX Falcon 9 FT - Inmarsat 5 F4 - LC-39A

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Grendal, Apr 25, 2017.

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  1. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    We have a date and a time. The satellite just arrived at the Cape for preparation and integration.

    May 15 - Monday
    Launch window: 2320-0010 GMT (7:20-8:10 p.m. EDT)
    Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
    A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Inmarsat 5 F4 communications satellite for Inmarsat of London. Inmarsat 5 F4 will be the fourth satellite in Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. The spacecraft was originally supposed to launch on a Falcon Heavy rocket. Delayed from April 30. [April 7]

    This will be an expendable launch with no recovery attempt. This will be the heaviest satellite launched by a Falcon 9 to GTO. It is heavier than the EchoStar 23 that was the last expendable launch.

    Here's the wiki on Inmarsat:
    Inmarsat - Wikipedia

    Inmarsat's page for the satellite:
    The I-5 satellites - Inmarsat

    Here's an article about Inmarsat dropping SpaceX to get this satellite up. Obviously there was a negotiation and F9 FT could get it where it needs to go in expendable format:
    Citing SpaceX delays, Inmarsat moves satellite launch from Falcon Heavy to Ariane 5 – Spaceflight Now
     
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  2. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    I am surprised how a heavy satellite that was originally planned for Falcon Heavy can be accommodated in F9 ?

    Does that mean FH can hurl even more larger payloads to GTO ?
     
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  3. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Absolutely. F9 has made significant improvements since its first version back in 2010. Falcon Heavy (being a three core version of the F9) has also had significant improvements in its theoretical launch capabilities.

    Falcon 9 v1.0 statistics
    3400 kg to GTO (theoretical since it never tried for a GTO launch) = 7500 pounds

    Falcon Heavy v1.0 statistics (with satellite launches sold)
    6400 kg to GTO = 14,100 pounds

    Falcon 9 FT statistics (expendable)
    8300 kg to GTO = 18,300 pounds <5500 kg to GTO with recovery = 12,125 pounds>

    So you can see that the F9 FT is a lot better than the original FH concept. I've mentioned before that part of the delay for FH is the fact that the F9 was able to launch a lot of the payloads originally slated for FH.

    Falcon Heavy (expendable)
    26,700 kg to GTO = 58,800 pounds!

    In comparison the
    Space Shuttle was 24,400 kg to LEO.
    F9 FT is 22,800 kg to LEO.
    FH is 63,800 kg to LEO.
    Saturn V was 140,000 kg to LEO.
    ITS will be 450,000 to LEO with booster and ship recovery.
     
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  4. evp

    evp Nerd

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    Darn it, I can't find the data I really need to answer the question properly. The satellite weighs 6100kg. Falcon 9's advertized mass to GTO is 8300kg, so it's comfortably under that limit, but clearly not under the mass limit for recovering the booster. Falcon Heavy can put 26,700kg into GTO, so my sense is that the Falcon Heavy could launch that satellite to GEO and recover all three cores, two returning to Canaveral and one to OCISLY. In fact, Falcon Heavy could send 2-1/2 times that mass to Mars. There's another mass threshold in there where the two outriggers are recovered but the center booster is lost, but I can't find that information anywhere.
     
  5. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    Great set of data, guys. It is amazing how much they were able to improve upon the original design on both F9 and FH.

    I put this in a simple table format for easy consumption. I also took liberty in extrapolating a few of those data missing from Grendal and evp's posts:

    Untitled.png
     
  6. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    How much of a bargain do you think Inmarsat got by launching with an F9 FT rather than FH or Ariane 5?

    Has SpaceX said when they plan to first bring an unmanned Dragon 2 in for a powered landing? If not any thoughts on that and how long after a successful test they use that for a COTS mission? Thanks.
     
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  7. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    The 8300kg to GTO number is likely a notional number, with zero fuel margins, and needs a Block V booster/upper stage (which isn't flying yet).
    Its a very good question if this launch is already using a Block IV booster/upper stage. If Block III can handle 6100kg to GTO (even if its sightly sub syncronous) its a very big deal, as there would still be Block IV and Block V upgrades coming.
    The fact that this was originally scheduled for Falcon Heavy suggests that payloads this heavy must be expendable even with Block V booster, hence would go to Falcon Heavy (which can RTLS all 3 cores with performance to spare on such light payload for FH).
    The sole reason for those expendable missions is FH isn't flying yet.
    If a customer requests a 6 ton to GTO launch today, he will likely be given only a FH option.
    Falcon 9 FT = F9 Block II. Its amazing how much extra performance SpaceX has been able to extract out of the same hardware with modest changes.
     
  8. miimura

    miimura Active Member

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    Once they have new Block V boosters flying, you could use the older landed cores as expendable because they're obsolete. They're not useless, but they would only be good for LEO or lighter GTO reusable missions.
     
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  9. mkjayakumar

    mkjayakumar Active Member

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    expendable as in throw your garbage in the sea? Why can't he metal and other stuff be recycled? or disposed off more ecologically?
     
  10. jkn

    jkn Member

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    "The launch aboard an Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana, is expected by the middle of 2017, officials said."

    Perhaps no bargain was needed...
     
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  11. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    Older boosters that land can be remanufactured into FH side boosters (the 2 FH Demo Launch side sticks have been remanufactured), so why can't they be remanufactured into F9 Block V boosters, yes this likely can be done.
    At the very least, the engines seem to be coming out just fine out of those landings and can be reused separately.
    Expendable launches are only being done because SpaceX is late on its entire schedule due to the 2 failed launches.
    Most of the cost of a new booster is the engines and some other harder to make components. The booster skin isn't so expensive.
     
  12. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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    Another amazing thing in these figures is the shock and awe of Saturn V. Those things were nuts and flew half a century ago, designed with tracing paper, sweat and lots of smarts. Also, hand welded F-1 rocket nozzles. Respect!
     
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  13. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I'll start with your first question. Probably not much, if any. From Inmarsat's perspective, it doesn't matter at all what rocket takes the satellite up. The company was willing to spend more to go with Arianne because of just a delay. SpaceX doesn't like losing boosters but the threat of going to Arianne forced SpaceX to do an expendable launch. I do know that SpaceX has a base price of $62 million for an F9. Depending on where the satellite is going and how heavy it is determines the price. So SpaceX probably charged exactly the same or just a little less for the expendable F9. My guess? I'd bet that Inmarsat paid $85 million to $90 million for this launch.

    Second question. SpaceX is building four D2 capsules. One will be used for mid-flight abort test. Definitely parachutes to prove the safety. The second will be for the unmanned mission to the ISS. That will probably have some cargo instead of people. Again, parachutes to prove the standard system works properly. The third will bring the first astronauts and will also be parachutes only. SpaceX has a fourth D2. I'm not sure what the plan is for that one except being the second astronaut flight. Since NASA is paying for all of this then SpaceX will be forced to negotiate with NASA. The only thing I can think of is that SpaceX convinces NASA to allow them to reuse one of these D2's for a cargo mission and NASA allows them to take the chance on a powered landing with their returned cargo. Other than that, SpaceX will be paying out of their own pocket for any and all powered landing testing. I fully expect NASA to work with SpaceX as long as they aren't paying any extra to do it.

    All of that leads into when an astronaut can be on a powered D2 landing. NASA is not going to allow SpaceX to test powered landings with their astronauts. They are going to want to see a number of successful powered landings without astronauts. I'm expecting that NASA will work with SpaceX to test the system. I'll expect them to want to see at least 10 successful powered landings before they would be willing to risk an astronaut. The reality is that NASA doesn't really care about powered D2 landings. They just want their astronauts back on Earth safely. So there isn't a lot of motivation from NASA to get D2 doing what Elon and SpaceX want it to do. SpaceX will need to convince NASA to allow testing.
     
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  14. bxr140

    bxr140 Member

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    Exactly.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, geocomm assets are revenue producers. As a first order price trade, the $$$ saved on a later launch can be offset (at least partially) by the lost revenue over that time period.

    Second order is asset demand: There are times when a spacecraft needs to go into service asap to fill service gaps. Comsat operators have their own customers to satisfy, and often those customers simply can't tolerate service interruptions. Sometimes operator A even needs to lease transponder space from other operator B to bridge their asset gaps, which of course is a terrible way for operator A to make money...

    Third order is new or unique service situations. If someone has a higher def DTH broadcast spacecraft, or an order-of-magnitude bigger DTH internet spacecraft, getting on orbit before a competitor can mean a lot in the long run. Double or nothing if it's tied to some event, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics.
     
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  15. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    The static test fire for the Inmarsat launch is scheduled for May 11th.
     
  16. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    It ends up in the ocean but not because they had an option to bring it back and didn't but because that is the only way the satellite makes it to the desired orbit.

    You apparently don't know that hundreds if not thousands of satellites have been launched into space by rockets that then fell into the ocean. That is the way it was.

    SpaceX is the first and only launch provider that isn't' doing that on all of their launches.
     
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  17. bxr140

    bxr140 Member

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    Technically, the Russians have been chucking spent hardware into Kazakhstan and Siberia all this time, not into the oceans. o_O

    Rumor has it the hardware goes to good use being repurposed for Kazakh shacks and stuff, so you could make an argument that the Russians were into reusing rocket parts long before Elon came along. :rolleyes:
     
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  18. e-FTW

    e-FTW New electron smell

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    This I gotta see!
     
  19. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    #19 dhanson865, May 7, 2017
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
    Fair enough, sometimes land is under the path. Mea Culpa :oops:

    Still I got the impression mkjayakumar thought someone was driving a van over to the dock and dumping stuff over the side of the seawall on a foggy night as opposed to rocket parts falling out of the sky onto whatever happened to be below their path when they ran out of fuel.

    I was just trying to educate him since the tone of his "why don't they recycle the metal" comment seemed as though he didn't realize whats up.
     
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  20. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    Reusing raw aluminium or aluminium sheets is peanuts compared with reusing raw structures.
    The vast, vast majority of the cost in making a rocket is in shaping the raw materials into the desired precise form for a rocket.
    What matters is saving labour, factory time, energy. Saving the raw materials probably comes in the very last place.
    So that Russian recycling is much like the rebuilt Shuttle SRBs that costed just about as much as making a brand new one.
     

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