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Author Topic: What are the implications of SpaceX's achievements?  (Read 2990 times)

Rgclark

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 Surprised there is little discussion of SpaceX on this forum. They are due congratulations because of their successful launch of the Dragon, docking it to the ISS, and its successful recovery after reentry.

 However, their most important accomplishment might be they showed how spaceflight can become routine:

On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/06/on-lasting-importance-of-spacex.html

  Bob Clark
« Last Edit: 14/06/2012 08:37:09 by chris »


 

Offline yor_on

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Re: On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment.
« Reply #1 on: 02/06/2012 03:13:42 »
Yeah, very impressing. We'll see what happens :)
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment.
« Reply #2 on: 04/06/2012 03:45:41 »
SpaceX, or course, has a 1.6 billion dollar contract from NASA. 

I suppose it is not clear to me the difference between a SpaceX assembled rocket and a Boeing assembled rocket, but perhaps the design is 100% SpaceX, rather than a NASA design built in large part by subcontractors.

Anyway, it is good to see some new alternatives coming into the space arena.  Part of the Dragon design is to eventually have a capsule capable of carrying people.  I wonder what the liability will be like to do so. 
 

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Re: On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment.
« Reply #3 on: 04/06/2012 06:05:03 »
Well, it is interesting to note that SpaceX has done the R&D, testing and launching on rather less than what NASA used to do a service on a shuttle. Who knows, they probably might turn a profit in a year or so. Add to that the USA finally has a method to get stuff into orbit, without paying others to do so. They used to have the best on the planet...........
 

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Re: On the lasting importance of the SpaceX accomplishment.
« Reply #4 on: 04/06/2012 07:12:37 »
The USA has never been unable to get stuff into orbit.
The USA launches a rocket into orbit every month or two.
http://www.nasa.gov/missions/highlights/schedule.html
http://www.spacecoastlaunches.com/

What NASA failed to build was a module capable of interfacing with the International Space Station.  Nor have they built a module capable of carrying astronauts (SpaceX hasn't had a manned mission yet, but it is just a matter of time).

The Space Shuttle was an excellent proof of concept. 
However, we probably did not need 5 or 6 of them to be built (1 prototype, 2 destroyed, 3 in active service till 2011)
NASA billed it as the future in Space Travel, and likely they were excellent craft, but they were extraordinarily expensive to build and maintain.   

The Delta IV rocket cost about $140 to $170 million per launch, or about a third the cost of each space shuttle launch.  The Atlas V is somewhat cheaper at $90 to $110 million per launch.

The SpaceX launches are about half that cost, or on the order of $50 Million, but somewhere around half the capacity of the other rockets too.
 

Rgclark

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Re: What are the implications of SpaceX's achievements?
« Reply #5 on: 03/08/2012 17:15:30 »
Elon Musk to Address Mars Society Convention in Pasadena.
posted Jul 20, 2012 10:05 AM by Mars Society - PR [ updated Jul 21,
2012 1:13 PM ]
Quote
The Mars Society is very pleased to announce that SpaceX Founder and
CEO Elon Musk will address the 15th Annual International Mars Society
Convention in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, August 4th during the
organization's evening banquet.
http://www.marssociety.org/home/press/announcements/elonmusktoaddressmarssocietyconventioninpasadena

   Bob Clark
 

Rgclark

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Re: What are the implications of SpaceX's achievements?
« Reply #6 on: 03/08/2012 17:46:53 »
 I've been arguing that SSTO's are actually easy because how to achieve
them is perfectly obvious: use the most weight optimized stages and
most Isp efficient engines at the same time, i.e., optimize both
components of the rocket equation. But I've recently found it's even
easier than that! It turns out you don't even need the engines to be
of particularly high efficiency.
 SpaceX is moving rapidly towards testing its Grasshopper scaled-down
version of a reusable Falcon 9 first stage:

Reusable rocket prototype almost ready for first liftoff.
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: July 9, 2012
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1207/10grasshopper/

 SpaceX deserves kudos for achieving a highly weight optimized Falcon 9
first stage at a 20 to 1 mass ratio. However, the Merlin 1C engine has
an Isp no better than the engines we had in the early sixties at 304
s, and the Merlin 1D is only slightly better on the Isp scale at 311 s. 
This is well below the highest efficiency kerosene engines (Russian)
we have now whose Isp's are in the 330's. So I thought that closed
the door on the Falcon 9 first stage being SSTO.

 However, I was surprised when I did the calculation that because of
the Merlin 1D's lower weight, the Falcon 9 first stage could indeed be
SSTO. For the calculation we'll need the F9 dry mass and propellant
mass. I'll use the Falcon 9 specifications estimated by GW Johnson, a
former rocket engineer, now math professor:

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011
Reusability in Launch Rockets.
http://exrocketman.blogspot.com/2011/12/reusability-in-launch-rockets.html

 The first stage propellant load is given as 553,000 lbs, 250,000 kg,
and the dry weight as 30,000 lbs, 13,600 kg.

 I'll actually calculate the payload for the first stage of the new version of
the Falcon 9, version 1.1. The Falcon Heavy will use this version's first stage
for its core stage and side boosters. SpaceX expects the Falcon 9 v1.1
to be ready by the end of the year.

 Elon Musk has said version 1.1 will be about 50% longer:

Q&A with SpaceX founder and chief designer Elon Musk.
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW
Posted: May 18, 2012
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120518musk/

 I'll assume this is coming from 50% larger tanks. This puts the
propellant load now at 375,000 kg. Interestingly SpaceX says the side
boosters on the Falcon Heavy will have a 30 to 1 mass ratio. This
improvement is probably coming from the fact it is using the lighter
Merlin 1D engines, and because scaling up a rocket actually improves
your mass ratio, and also not having to support the weight of an upper
stage and heavy payload means it can be made lighter.

 So I'll assume for this SSTO version of the Falcon 9 v1.1 the mass
ratio is 30 to 1, which makes the dry mass 13 mT.

 To estimate the payload I'll use the payload estimation program of
Dr. John Schilling:

Launch Vehicle Performance Calculator.
http://www.silverbirdastronautics.com/LVperform.html

 It actually gives a range of likely values of the payload. But I've found 
the midpoint of the range it specifies is a reasonably accurate estimate
to the actual payload for known rockets.

 Input the vacuum values for the thrust in kilonewtons and Isp in
seconds. The program takes into account the sea level loss. SpaceX
gives the Merlin 1D vacuum thrust as 161,000 lbs and vacuum Isp
as 311 s:

FALCON 9 OVERVIEW.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon9.php

 For the 9 Merlins this is a thrust of 9*161,000lb*4.46N/lb = 6,460
kN. Use the default altitude of 185 km and select the Cape Canaveral
launch site, with a 28.5 degree orbital inclination to match the
Cape's latitude.

 Input the dry mass of 13,000 kg and propellant mass of 375,000 kg.
The other options I selected are indicated here:



Then it gives an estimated 7,564 kg payload mass:

=====================================
Launch Vehicle:         User-Defined Launch Vehicle
Launch Site:    Cape Canaveral / KSC
Destination Orbit:       185 x 185 km, 28 deg
Estimated Payload:       7564 kg
95% Confidence Interval:         3766 - 12191 kg
=====================================

 This may be enough to launch the Dragon capsule, depending on the mas
of the Launch Abort System(LAS).


     Bob Clark

 
 

Rgclark

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Re: What are the implications of SpaceX's achievements?
« Reply #7 on: 28/08/2012 12:05:26 »
Elon Musk to Address Mars Society Convention in Pasadena.
posted Jul 20, 2012 10:05 AM by Mars Society - PR [ updated Jul 21,
2012 1:13 PM ]
Quote
The Mars Society is very pleased to announce that SpaceX Founder and
CEO Elon Musk will address the 15th Annual International Mars Society
Convention in Pasadena, California, on Saturday, August 4th during the
organization's evening banquet.
http://www.marssociety.org/home/press/announcements/elonmusktoaddressmarssocietyconventioninpasadena

Elon Musk "Mars Pioneer Award" Acceptance Speech - 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention.

  Bob Clark
« Last Edit: 28/08/2012 12:07:22 by Rgclark »
 

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Re: What are the implications of SpaceX's achievements?
« Reply #7 on: 28/08/2012 12:05:26 »

 

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