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Old May 30 2012, 01:29 AM   #91
Hyperspace05
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

sojourner wrote: View Post
Oh, it's heavier, but not a Heavy. Just don't blur it when talking about someone developing a "heavy" launcher. Falcon Heavy is definitely good enough for pretty much any need we might have in the near future and due to commonality with Falcon 9 it may acheive economies of scale that make true Heavies redundant.
My point was merely that you yourself were blurring the 'heavy' definition - since you included 70 mt instead of the previously commonly held definition of 100 mt. (from the Saturn V era)

But I agree with you otherwise. 50 mT will be enough for any exploration of the solar system (manned or not) that we want to do. If the FH becomes available at a low cost, then we can finally concentrate on building true spacecraft instead of dicking around with launch vehicles.
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Old May 30 2012, 01:40 AM   #92
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

^agreed.
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Old May 30 2012, 06:20 AM   #93
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

sojourner wrote: View Post
^Not SpaceX. In fact, I can't think of any company that is. Who are you thinking of?

Despite it's name, the Falcon Heavy is not a "heavy" launcher. "Heavy" is generally applied to a launcher that can get in excess of 70 metric tons to orbit. Falcon Heavy is only projected for 53 metric tons.
I'm confuzzled. Last time I said I suspect that SpaceX are up to developing a heavy launcher if they get the opportunity, you countered me by saying they already have one.

I didn't mean Falcon Heavy. Note that I didn't say “already has designed and is planning to launch this year”. I said “interested in developing”. Based on their concept designs, Musk's personal goals for his company and some of his latter comments, he and SpaceX are definitely interested in developing such rockets whether there are any money in it for them or not. Whether they can develop them is another matter.

But given the price of the SLS program, the money NASA would pay for a deep space mission would probably be enough to fund such project.
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Old May 30 2012, 08:12 AM   #94
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

I would have to review exactly what I said at the time you're referring to. I may have been wrong then if I claimed that Falcon Heavy is a Heavy launcher.

The closest SpaceX has come to interest in a SLS class launcher was a presentation they had showing what it might look like should NASA contract them to build one for the SLS program. Currently there is no evidence that SpaceX is working on such a vehicle nor any components that could be applied to one really. They have enough on their plate with developing reusable Falcon 9/H and manned Dragon anyway.
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Old May 30 2012, 05:21 PM   #95
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

I presume you are referring to the old (& disavowed) presentation with the Falcon X and Falcon XX:
http://images.spaceref.com/news/2010/spacex.charts.jpg

Yeah, Both the FX & FXX clearly were marketed to NASA for the SLS contract(s). That goes for the Merlin 2 engine as well.

While FX & Merlin 2 might happen eventually, they are clearly on the back burner - especially with the focus now being on a reusable F9. (Where 9 smaller engines is actually an advantage)
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Old May 30 2012, 06:42 PM   #96
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

Those have to happen if Musk has any intention of fulfilling some of the things he has said so far. He is repeating over and over that one of his goals is Mars, and while Falcon Heavy can carry Martian payloads, it doesn't quite cut it. This and the other things that he have been mumbling are strongly suggesting that he intends to work on those (or similar ones) once he gets the opportunity.

Obviously, that's not now, since SpaceX is barely managing to start fulfilling its flights, and obviously, they might never reach the point where they would. But you can't say that they can't, you can't say that people counting on SLS don't have a slight reason to be worried, and you can't say that profit is required – Musk has even stated in the past that he's not hurrying for an IPO because it might interfere with plans that do not involve making a profit.
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Old May 30 2012, 10:08 PM   #97
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Those have to happen if Musk has any intention of fulfilling some of the things he has said so far. He is repeating over and over that one of his goals is Mars, and while Falcon Heavy can carry Martian payloads, it doesn't quite cut it. This and the other things that he have been mumbling are strongly suggesting that he intends to work on those (or similar ones) once he gets the opportunity.
If the FH can loft 53 mT payloads, you can be sure that is is enough for a Mars program. Many other technologies will be required, sure - but lift to LEO will not be a bottleneck.

The point that many SLS detractors (such as myself) often try to make is that we should cancel SLS, and spend that $$$ on in-space and mars-related hardware. Using commercial crew and cargo to LEO should allow NASA to build actual exploration hardware - because right now there is *nothing* in the works. SLS and Orion is taking up all of NASA's development budget - and once they are completed they will have nothing to do for years, since there is no payloads/mission hardware in the works at the moment.
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Old May 30 2012, 10:38 PM   #98
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

Yeah, the planned flight rate for SLS is ridiculously low and yet NASA still has no real payloads for it. Designing a rocket that will be built and flown only once every couple of years is madness.
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Old May 31 2012, 05:53 AM   #99
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

I found some additional hi-res glory shots - amazing detail in the hi-res links:


Hi-res: http://i.imgur.com/TCfdV.jpg


Hi-res: http://i.imgur.com/GCxim.jpg


Hi-res: http://i.imgur.com/1PA3s.jpg

And a fish-eye view of the interior:

Hi-res: http://i.imgur.com/8sFJ8.jpg
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Old May 31 2012, 06:12 AM   #100
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Those have to happen if Musk has any intention of fulfilling some of the things he has said so far. He is repeating over and over that one of his goals is Mars, and while Falcon Heavy can carry Martian payloads, it doesn't quite cut it. This and the other things that he have been mumbling are strongly suggesting that he intends to work on those (or similar ones) once he gets the opportunity.
That doesn't suggest they have any need for a heavy lift vehicle. Quite the opposite in fact, Musk probably envisions a spaceflight architecture based around the reusable Falcon 9H and dragon-derived orbiters. There isn't a whole lot you could do with a single HLV that couldn't be more efficiently accomplished with three MLVs, especially if the smaller rockets are reusable.
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Old May 31 2012, 06:18 AM   #101
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
Those have to happen if Musk has any intention of fulfilling some of the things he has said so far. He is repeating over and over that one of his goals is Mars, and while Falcon Heavy can carry Martian payloads, it doesn't quite cut it. This and the other things that he have been mumbling are strongly suggesting that he intends to work on those (or similar ones) once he gets the opportunity.
That doesn't suggest they have any need for a heavy lift vehicle. Quite the opposite in fact, Musk probably envisions a spaceflight architecture based around the reusable Falcon 9H and dragon-derived orbiters. There isn't a whole lot you could do with a single HLV that couldn't be more efficiently accomplished with three MLVs, especially if the smaller rockets are reusable.
Once the reusable F9 is operational, the FH will be using the same reusable 1st stage as boosters. Their reusable work applies to future variants of both the F9 and FH.
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Old May 31 2012, 06:47 AM   #102
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

Hyperspace05 wrote: View Post
If the FH can loft 53 mT payloads, you can be sure that is is enough for a Mars program. Many other technologies will be required, sure - but lift to LEO will not be a bottleneck.
Hm, right, that's true. You can send and return people to and from Mars, even settle it with Falcon Heavy rockets. Heavier launchers aren't necessary, I even figured you wouldn't need too many FH launches for a small base. My bad. Sorry.

Wouldn't heavier launchers be cheaper in terms of fuel though? FH can lift five times what F9 can, and uses, what, three times more fuel? If you:
1. Developed full reusability all the way to Mars.
2. Increased the size of the rocket/engines.

Elon Musk's vision for half-a-million round trip to Mars starts to sound less insane.

And even without the full reusability, the rockets themselves are only third of the price. Though FH has the advantage of being built from F9 parts, so an even heavier one might be unsustainable.
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Old May 31 2012, 07:13 AM   #103
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

There is always an optimal point when it comes to launch vehicle size for $$$/lb to LEO.
- Make the launch vehicle too large, and it will be very expensive and fly rarely
- Make the launch vehicle too small, and you have to launch too often, and with tiny pieces

Personally I think 40-50mT is a pretty good point - especially when it is made up of the same components of smaller launch vehicles. The more frequently you fly a booster, the more confidence you have in it, and the cheaper it will become due to mass production.

BTW, the propellant cost of a rocket launch is just in a tiny fraction of the total launch cost of a rocket. (1-2%, or even less) The hardware and man-hours is what makes up the vast majority of the launch cost.
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Old May 31 2012, 07:16 AM   #104
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

BTW, tomorrow morning Dragon will depart ISS and re-enter the atmosphere.

Here is the current timeline: http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20120530

Dragon Return Timeline 5/31/12 - (times are approximate and subject to change)

Time (Pacific) - Event

01:05 Dragon uninstalled using station's robotic arm
03:10 Dragon released by the robotic arm
03:11 Dragon's Draco thrusters fire departure burns
04:07 Unlatch/close/latch GNC door holding sensors
07:51 Dragon's Draco thrusters fire deorbit burn
08:09 Dragon's trunk is jettisoned
08:35 Dragon's drogue parachutes are deployed
08:36 Dragon's main parachutes are deployed
08:44 Dragon lands in the Pacific

All of this will be covered by NASA TV: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
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Old May 31 2012, 09:29 AM   #105
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

The only part of today's procedures I really worry about is the jettisoning of the trunk. Something they haven't done before. If something goes wrong there it's automatic loss of vehicle.
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