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Tugger
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:41 pm

Interesting tidbit for future droneship landings:
Image

"Optimus Prime," as some have nicknamed it, could one day secure first stages after they land on SpaceX's autonomous spaceport drone ships. Like previous upgrades, it could cut down on costs, number of required personnel and turnaround time between launches. It could also improve safety. "Optimus Prime" refers to a character from "Transformers."

Ricky Lim, senior director of launch operations for SpaceX, told FLORIDA TODAY the device is “in the testing phase” and is a “future capability” that SpaceX plans to introduce as soon as it passes the test regimen.

“I don’t think it’s very far away” from being used, Lim said. “But it’s new.”

SpaceX did not comment when asked about its functionality and features.

(I like how they explain what Optimus Prime refers too, guess enough non-dorks read Florida Today... :D )

The pictures are from this article:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... -ship.html

Will it weld the pads to the drones deck or lock it down some other way?
Image

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moo
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:11 pm

SeJoWa wrote:
I was thinking that having actual, breathing bioware inside during reentry and touchdown wasn't a disqualifying condition! :melting:


The only people currently doing that are governments. Kinda disqualifies them from the level of competition we are talking about here :)

With each Dragon cargo mission, SpaceX are getting more data than NASA got from AS-202, Apollo 4, 5 and 6 combined. No other ISS resupply vehicle provides a pressurised return capability.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:08 pm

Tugger wrote:
Interesting tidbit for future droneship landings:
Image

"Optimus Prime," as some have nicknamed it, could one day secure first stages after they land on SpaceX's autonomous spaceport drone ships. Like previous upgrades, it could cut down on costs, number of required personnel and turnaround time between launches. It could also improve safety. "Optimus Prime" refers to a character from "Transformers."



That looks an awful lot like the gizmo under the Dragon capsule, as shown here :

Image
 
LightningZ71
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:15 pm

Looking at that contraption, and not seeing anything else out there about it, it looks to have two treads/tracks and 4 clamping arms. Perhaps they think that they have the accuracy for landing down enough to be able to land it on a robotic tracked carrier that can catch the booster as it lands. If this is the case, it saves the weight and complexity of the landing legs as the "catcher" could perform their function, and then it could roll the booster off the barge and onto the dock and maybe all the way to the refurbishment center. Again, this is just speculation based on what I'm seeing. I'd be concerned about a missed approach and the thermal load from the engine on landing.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:52 pm

No way this will "catch" any rocket. What this will do is be on the droneship tucked safely to the side. When the booster lands it will come out, position itself under it, center itself, rotate and align the corner hydraulic arms under the boosters legs, and then either weld the pads to the deck or attach itself somehow to the legs and secure the booster to the deck.

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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:00 am

It appears to be intended to grab the stage at the base where the legs attach, and stabilize it simply by virtue of its weight.
 
LightningZ71
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:17 pm

That makes a lot more sense than what I was thinking. I didn't think there was much room between the landing platform and the base of the booster after touchdown though.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:21 pm

LightningZ71 wrote:
That makes a lot more sense than what I was thinking. I didn't think there was much room between the landing platform and the base of the booster after touchdown though.


Plenty of room :)

Image

The vertical supports on the device we are talking about fold up from a horizontal position, so it can all slide under the booster and then clamp it in place. Probably has the ability to move it to the centre of the barge as well for stability, or perhaps to a given point on the barge where it has pre-existing clamping points it can hang onto, rather than any welding going on at all.

They may be just going for weight, but that would surprise me - heavy stuff tends to slide, so you need to eliminate that...
 
zanl188
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:28 pm

Good static fire at pad 39A today in preparation for SES-10 launch on Thursday. This launch will be the first attempt to refly a first stage.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:14 pm

Also the first attempt at re-landing a first stage, I believe ...
 
SeJoWa
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:32 pm

I'm pumped about this. And giddy.

"Static fire test complete. Targeting Thursday, March 30 for Falcon 9 launch of SES-10." << https://t.co/0tZ7u6gngI
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:13 pm

Looking forward to tonight! I'll be watching it live at 3:27pm Pacific time. Hoping everything goes smoothly, the weather looks good for launch today.

The U.S. Air Force forecast an 80 percent likelihood of good launch weather for Thursday evening. Winds are forecast around 14 mph with a 5 percent or less chance of rain at the start of SpaceX’s possible launch time, according to The Weather Channel.

That number drops to 40 percent Friday because of the front end of the storm that has been battering Texas this week.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry with it an SES Satellites product meant to bolster communications coverage in Central and Latin America.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/spa ... story.html

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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:43 pm

This launch and landing will be extremely important for SpaceX - if it fails, there will be heavy repercussions, as everything will be centered around the fact that this booster is not new, and any failure will lead to serious doubt.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:51 pm

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KarelXWB
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:07 pm

moo wrote:
This launch and landing will be extremely important for SpaceX - if it fails, there will be heavy repercussions, as everything will be centered around the fact that this booster is not new, and any failure will lead to serious doubt.


They have been refurbishing the first stage for almost a year now, it better performs as expected.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:18 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
moo wrote:
This launch and landing will be extremely important for SpaceX - if it fails, there will be heavy repercussions, as everything will be centered around the fact that this booster is not new, and any failure will lead to serious doubt.


They have been refurbishing the first stage for almost a year now, it better performs as expected.


And a brand new booster shouldn't blow up during a static fire test, but did...
 
zanl188
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:47 pm

2 for 2 on this 1st stage booster! Good Job SpaceX!
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SeJoWa
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:48 pm

* Congratulations to the entire SpaceX team *

What an amazing feat of daring engineering and perseverance. Rinse, test, and repeat.
Also, more money in the kitty by virtue of having hoisted another satellite into orbit.
I hope this year sees many more routine flights.

Wow.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:03 pm

A beautiful launch. I do wonder how much refurbishing the stage cost them. After all, the space shuttle, while reusable, cost insane amounts per launch nevertheless.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:06 pm

The Shuttle was an insanely complex system to maintain, and a great engineering challenge too. Very much worth reading about. If it hadn't been for the cold war, I don't think the funds would have been found.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:33 pm

HUZZAH! As just an enthusiast, witnessing this first for humanity (agreed, a bit over the top) made me excited the same way the first time the shuttle launched. A huge step forward. We debate CFM vs P&W endlessly. How about debating SpaceX vs whomever in 20 years (assuming I make it).
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:54 am

So they nailed it again.

Now I just wonder why it took them so long to refurbish that booster?
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:14 am

Looks like SpaceX also managed to recover the nose cone for the first time:

But during a press conference after the launch, SpaceX CEO announced another bit of exciting news: for the first time, the company has also managed to land the rocket's nose cone as well. "That was definitely the cherry on the cake," said Musk.

The payload faring, or nose cone, shelters the rocket's cargo—in this case, the SES 10 telecom satellite. The 16-foot diameter faring is large enough to fit a bus inside, and it costs about $6 million to make one. So, rather than let it "smash into a million tiny pieces," says Musk, SpaceX used thrusters and steerable parachutes to bring the two halves of the faring back safely for reuse.


http://www.popsci.com/spacex-landed-an- ... et-tonight
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:32 am

Congratulations to Space X! A real milestone.

To compare with the costs of re-using the Shuttle, surely to compare it would be instructive to know what percentage of the costs and manpower were dedicated just to the STS engines, compared to the whole vehicle and all it's systems? And throw in the costs of recovering and refurbishing the SRB's too.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:14 am

Congrats SpaceX! Excellent job! :D Looking forward to many new successful flights.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:56 am

When comparing to the STS, I think a lot of the cost of refurbishing the STS was incurred by the heat shield - correct me if I am wrong. Since Falcon 9 does not enter orbit, this is of no concern for it.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:08 am

aviationaware wrote:
When comparing to the STS, I think a lot of the cost of refurbishing the STS was incurred by the heat shield - correct me if I am wrong. Since Falcon 9 does not enter orbit, this is of no concern for it.


The Falcon 9 first stage is still going fast enough that heat damage is a primary concern, and needs a reentry burn to slow the vehicle down to limit the temperatures involved. Falcon 9 first stage can be travelling at anything between 50% and 75% of orbital velocity, depending on the mission, at point of separation.

And a big chunk of the STS's refurb cost was the fact that the "reusable" SRBs were anything but - they had to be stripped completely, cleaned, inspected and then the solid fuel had to be recast. Basically all you got when the SRBs were "reused" was the metal tube segments being reused, everything else was brand new.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:26 am

In the future, SpaceX even wants to recover the second stage:

At this point, the only part of the Falcon 9 that hasn't been recovered for reuse is the upper stage—the smaller booster that carries the payload into orbit after the liftoff booster separates. And Musk is interested in recovering and recycling that part as well.


http://www.popsci.com/spacex-landed-an- ... et-tonight
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:35 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
In the future, SpaceX even wants to recover the second stage:

At this point, the only part of the Falcon 9 that hasn't been recovered for reuse is the upper stage—the smaller booster that carries the payload into orbit after the liftoff booster separates. And Musk is interested in recovering and recycling that part as well.


http://www.popsci.com/spacex-landed-an- ... et-tonight


Recovering the second stage is going to be impressive, as thats going to have a loooooot of delta-v to get rid of, so they will either have to do one heck of a reentry burn or the stage is going to take some serious heat on its way back down.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:37 pm

moo wrote:
Recovering the second stage is going to be impressive, as thats going to have a loooooot of delta-v to get rid of, so they will either have to do one heck of a reentry burn or the stage is going to take some serious heat on its way back down.


Would it be possible to use a heat shield?
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:12 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
Would it be possible to use a heat shield?


I'd think that this kind of tech might be the way to go for a 2nd stage. But I'm probably wrong because SpaceX keep proving me wrong (which is awesome). I had been thinking that the fairing halves would always be way beyond economic recovery and that in 20 years time we'd be thinking it wasteful that we throw them away every frikkin' time after getting used to having the rest of the rocket back again.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:40 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
moo wrote:
Recovering the second stage is going to be impressive, as thats going to have a loooooot of delta-v to get rid of, so they will either have to do one heck of a reentry burn or the stage is going to take some serious heat on its way back down.


Would it be possible to use a heat shield?


You cant use anything that will get in the way of the engine, as any method of landing other than a vertical landing (as done with the first stage) means you have to ensure the entire structure is capable of handling loads other than directly down through the centre of the stage, which means more added weight. Sure, an inflatable heatshield could be discardable but there may be a margin of error in there that isnt acceptable.

I think they will simply add more fuel to the stage and do a harder reentry burn.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:00 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
So they nailed it again.

Now I just wonder why it took them so long to refurbish that booster?


This is my great-great-grand-fathers Axe.
Only the haft has been replaced, and then the head.... and much later another haft.
;-)
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:02 pm

Further to KarelXWBs post, Musk has just posted on Twitter that they may try a second stage recovery on the Falcon Heavy demo flight, which is now scheduled for late summer.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:48 pm

moo wrote:
The Falcon 9 first stage is still going fast enough that heat damage is a primary concern, and needs a reentry burn to slow the vehicle down to limit the temperatures involved. Falcon 9 first stage can be travelling at anything between 50% and 75% of orbital velocity, depending on the mission, at point of separation.


Nonsense...The Falcon 9 first-stage does a return to land recovery when separation velocity less than aprrox. 5000 km/hr, which is about 20% of orbital velocity and can do a landing on the ocean recovery barge up to approx. 9000 km/hr, about 35% of orbital velocity...and never travels much faster than that.

KarelXWB wrote:
In the future, SpaceX even wants to recover the second stage:.


Next we will be talking about landing and recovering the payload fairings for re-use ;)
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:28 am

Small update on the Falcon Heavy status:

Falcon Heavy test flight currently scheduled for late summer.


Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability. Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot.


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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:28 pm

KarelXWB wrote:
So they nailed it again.

Now I just wonder why it took them so long to refurbish that booster?


Amazing achievement for SpaceX. Truly just outstanding engineering and operations all the way around. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

There was a Reddit thread recently (sorry, can't find link) where someone claiming to be an intern gave a lengthy post about the booster refurbishment process. The intern's statements would supported Elon's comment that recovering the booster was a "dog catches car" moment. They had spent so much time working on the booster recovery that they hadn't built the processes for what to do next.

For instance, Priority #1 was getting the payload to orbit and booster recovery was a bonus. So, there was still plenty of single-use hardware on the booster that was never intended to be disassembled. Simply running the assembly procedure in reverse wasn't practical. They also started finding assembly hardware with no part numbers and no record in the Bill of Material. I'm guessing that would be things like shims and consumables.

I'm sure they will continue evolving their design and processes to facilitate faster re-use in the future.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:05 am

Not only were the refurbishing processes not ready or even written, but they wanted this launch to go flawlessly, so they apparently worked furiously on every last detail to make it go on rails. It worked, but then it took 4 months to refurbish the stage (which is already not bad).

Of course Musk's goal is to have them ready to be flung again the same day... (Is he expecting to launch rockets on a daily basis?)

So there's still a big learning process ahead of them. They need to know how to refurbish the stage quickly and efficiently, by changing only what needs to be changed, knowing what can and cannot be salvaged, and using this knowledge to bring modifications to the next generation of Falcon rockets.

What comes next might not be as exciting or headline-worthy as what they just did, but it will be very interesting and crucial to their business model.
They now need to demonstrate cheap-and-cheerful reusability and progressively bring the cost and time of refurbishing down to as little as possible.
They're getting very close to their goal.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:52 am

Francoflier wrote:
Of course Musk's goal is to have them ready to be flung again the same day... (Is he expecting to launch rockets on a daily basis?)

They're getting very close to their goal.


They are miles away.
At the moment they are below the process for shuttle reuseability ( and on a much less complex system.)
i.e. parts lifetime is a couple of flights. parts fail from overload / damage and not planable fatigue or lifelimits.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:29 pm

WIederling wrote:
They are miles away.
At the moment they are below the process for shuttle reuseability ( and on a much less complex system.)
i.e. parts lifetime is a couple of flights. parts fail from overload / damage and not planable fatigue or lifelimits.


You seem very pessimistic. In my opinion, what SpaceX have achieved so far is extremely impressive. I have faith in Elon Musk and SpaceX - they seem to set pretty steep goals, and have blown the naysayers out of the water with their achievements.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:11 pm

One huge advantage of being to return and refly boosters, and possibly most/all of the launch components, is they can use better and better materials if needed, higher costs can be amortized across multiple launches instead of all at once. They can make the launch heavier than needed, such as assign a Falcon Heavy, to "cover" the additional weight that is added to allow recovery and reuse.

Aviation has functioned like this for all its existence. First the lightest weight, limited life elements were used as the only goal was to prove it was possible. Then heavier and more durable systems were developed and weight increased and speed and usability rose together as turnaround times decreased.

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SeJoWa
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:15 pm

WIederling wrote:
Francoflier wrote:
Of course Musk's goal is to have them ready to be flung again the same day... (Is he expecting to launch rockets on a daily basis?)

They're getting very close to their goal.


They are miles away.
At the moment they are below the process for shuttle reuseability ( and on a much less complex system.)
i.e. parts lifetime is a couple of flights. parts fail from overload / damage and not planable fatigue or lifelimits.


From what I gather, they're actually designing for 100+ launches. The [soon to be deployed?] improved rocket engines should go a long way. I haven't got too many details yet, but it comes from Elon Musk.

Example - they're planning on replacing the aluminum alloy grid fins with Ti parts - largest such forgings in the world. That seems like quite an expense if reuse were limited to low single digits.
 
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Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:21 am

JetBuddy wrote:
WIederling wrote:
They are miles away.
At the moment they are below the process for shuttle reuseability ( and on a much less complex system.)
i.e. parts lifetime is a couple of flights. parts fail from overload / damage and not planable fatigue or lifelimits.


You seem very pessimistic. In my opinion, what SpaceX have achieved so far is extremely impressive. I have faith in Elon Musk and SpaceX - they seem to set pretty steep goals, and have blown the naysayers out of the water with their achievements.


The results are good. Rocket landing like a rocket on stream of fire was every boys dream in the 50ties.

But at the moment too much happens too close to destructive limits.
So they have to go over each and every part with a fine comb to find defects.
( shuttle shew much less damage after landings.)
Percentage of actually reusable parts seems to be rather limited.

They need to get away from thermal damage during the return/reentry phase.
They need to get a much better grip ( as in massively reduce ) on landing shock.

If you look into the changeover to titanium for the gridfins there is probably a very hard reason to do so.
( All forced decissions are cloaked in positive reasoning. Look at Boeing's MoO :-)
The Al thingies sustained damage, are too heavy. too big, too much drag while folded, .. ...?
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:06 am

JetBuddy wrote:
WIederling wrote:
They are miles away.
At the moment they are below the process for shuttle reuseability ( and on a much less complex system.)
i.e. parts lifetime is a couple of flights. parts fail from overload / damage and not planable fatigue or lifelimits.


You seem very pessimistic. In my opinion, what SpaceX have achieved so far is extremely impressive. I have faith in Elon Musk and SpaceX - they seem to set pretty steep goals, and have blown the naysayers out of the water with their achievements.


Not pessimistic at all, just realistic. Have a look here and here.

They will get there, but it will take time.
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:39 am

Francoflier wrote:

Of course Musk's goal is to have them ready to be flung again the same day... (Is he expecting to launch rockets on a daily basis?)
l.


I seem to recall a relatively recent Tweet from Elon that he was expecting a 24 hour turnaround eventually.

The process of refining the flight hardware and refurb process is ongoing and won't have an end date IMHO, it's something I do on a daily basis and encourage my team to consider on every thing they do, albeit on a completely different type of equipment/industry.
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aviationaware
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:23 am

On another note, I wonder what antitrust may have in store for SpaceX - when they manage to build and refly the rockets regularly. Boeing was broken up for basicaly the same thing back in 1934; and Tesla is having some antitrust problems as well for building and selling cars.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:42 am

Elon Musk Plans Rapid Shift To ‘Flight-proven’ Falcon 9s
Apr 4, 2017 Frank Morring, Jr. | Aviation Week & Space Technology
...
After recovering the stage for the first time following a space station resupply mission in April 2016, SpaceX trucked it back to its plant in Hawthorne, California, for inspection and refurbishment. Engineers tested it at the company’s facility in Texas before it was shipped back to Florida for relaunch.

Musk says SpaceX will inspect and refurbish boosters at facilities already acquired near its launchpads in the future.
...
Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of Luxembourg-based SES, says his company is considering using reflown boosters on two more SpaceX launches, and suggests that the March 31 success has SpaceX’s competitors “quaking in their boots.”

“We worked very, very closely with SpaceX, and that’s probably really why we’ve done more of these types of missions with SpaceX than anybody else,” he says. ...
http://aviationweek.com/space/elon-musk ... -falcon-9s
 
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Tugger
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:08 pm

aviationaware wrote:
On another note, I wonder what antitrust may have in store for SpaceX - when they manage to build and refly the rockets regularly. Boeing was broken up for basicaly the same thing back in 1934; and Tesla is having some antitrust problems as well for building and selling cars.

Well there is significant competition now for launch systems: ULA (Boeing and Lockheed), Roscosmos, ESA, SpaceX, SeaLaunch (are they still running?), and potentially Blue Origin in the future. And any of the established ones can develop re-usability if they target it. There is no reason to break up anybody, in fact the only one that really may have needed breaking up was ULA since it was granted essentially monopoly power years ago which SPaceX successfully fought.

On the car side, the building and selling thing is really just a legislative thing, not really "anti-trust". Many (most?) businesses and industries sell the product they build directly to the customer. Automotive became a carve out due to local dealers and political pressures.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:27 pm

Market forces in the space launch business will do wonders. Lets hope governments don't impede the opportunity.
 
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Re: SpaceX - Tests, Launches, Developments

Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:54 am

SpaceX released a photo of the recovered booster:

Image
SES-10 Mission | Falcon 9 First Stage Landing by SpaceX, on Flickr
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