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SpaceX Updates (Thread 4): F9, FH & Dragon

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http://www.spacenews.com/article/military-space/39020falcon-9-v11-appears-on-fast-track-to-qualify-for-air-force-missions

Falcon 9 v1.1 Appears on Fast Track To Qualify for Air Force Missions

WASHINGTON ? With its successful launch of the Thaicom-6 commercial telecommunications satellite Jan. 6, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) appears to have met the U.S. Air Force?s requirements to bid for national security launches and challenge the market incumbent, United Launch Alliance (ULA) of Denver.

While Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX has not received formal certification to launch operational national security satellites aboard its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket, Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, told SpaceNews Jan. 7 he has not seen anything from the vehicle?s three flights to date to prevent that from happening.

SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin said via email that the company believes the Falcon 9 v1.1 has now met the three-flight certification requirement for the Air Force?s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

If the rocket is certified, SpaceX would become the first new competitive entrant in the EELV program, which is used to launch virtually all operational U.S. national security satellites. Today nearly all of those missions are launched aboard ULA?s Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, and, coupled with soaring costs, has made the EELV program a lightning rod for criticism.

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Shelton has said repeatedly he is pleased with ULA?s record, but thinks the price of launching rockets is too expensive. In a speech to students at George Washington University here Jan. 7, he praised Elon Musk, SpaceX?s chief executive.

?I don?t doubt that guy anymore, by the way,? Shelton said. ?What he says, he?s going to do.?

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Looks like the recent successes are going to be paying off!

 

 

Falcon 9 Rocket Will Deliver JCSAT-14 Satellite to Orbit

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was awarded a contract with SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation of Japan to launch the JCSAT-14 communications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket in the second half of 2015.

 

http://www.spacex.com/press/2014/01/10/spacex-awarded-launch-contract-leading-asia-pacific-satellite-operator

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Many launch operators are extremely worried about SpaceX. Article in French, translation not by me, but it lools close (my French is a bit rusty.)

http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2014/01/08/reinventons-le-programme-ariane-pour-rivaliser-avec-les-americains_4344804_3232.html

LET'S REINVENT THE ARIANE PROGRAM TO COMPETE WITH THE AMERICANS

by: Jean-Yves Le Gall (Pr?sident du Centre national d'?tudes spatiales (CNES) (President of the National Centre for Space Studies) [President of Arianespace 2007 to April 2013]

The three perfectly successful launches of the new American launcher Falcon 9, developed and operated by SpaceX, founded in 2002 in a Californian garage, bring many questions.

Indeed, it is the first time in history that a private corporation has managed to successfully fly ? and on the first try, too - a space launcher conceived with an antipodal/totally different approach to what has been done before.

These successes call out to us especially since SpaceX has announced their intent to dominate this industry, at a time where Europe has begun, at the initiative of France, the development of future launcher Ariane 6, which aims to enter service early next decade, and so will have SpaceX launchers as competitors.

VERY ATTRACTIVE PRICING

In coming months, Europe will have to decide on the final commitment to Ariane 6, as SpaceX has demonstrated that is can occupy the land (serve the market) with commercial launches at very attractive prices.

If we compare the SpaceX launcher to its competitors, it differs in three ways. First, it is perfectly adapted to government payloads: NASA and DoD satellites are an important part of its launch manifest, and an even greater one of its revenues, as the American government is willing to pay more for its own launches than is billed to commercial clients.

Second, its reduced size and ease of implementation lead to especially low operations costs that make it formidably competitive for commercial satellite launches: the last two Falcon 9 launches have brought the USA back to this market, from which they had been absent for many years, due to the lack of competitiveness and availability of their classic launchers.

Finally, its technical definition and industrial organization has, since the beginning, been designed with the goal of minimizing development and operations costs: instead of being a cutting edge technology launcher, the Falcon 9 uses proven technology engines that were easy to develop and inexpensive to industrialize/mass produce, and there are very few sub-contractors involved in launcher construction, which reduces production costs.

THE SPACE RACE

To sum it up, where classical methods have failed ? in the past ten years, the USA has terminated development of many classic launchers, after wasting many billions of dollars on them - , the Falcon 9 may well bring the USA back as leaders of the Space Race, while today they share it with Russia and China for government launchers and Europe occupies it for commercial launches.

Not to mention that SpaceX has been working on evolved versions of its launchers that, as soon as this year, might fly in an even more powerful version that might eventually be reusable, bringing down launch prices even more ? something that the Space Shuttle was never able to do, even though it had been designed to do just that!

Such an evolution would mean heavy consequences for Europe with, on the one hand the loss of market share and on the other, the embrittlement of our autonomous access to space that depends on the commercial success of our launchers, given the relatively limited number of European government satellite launches.

These are the findings that lead to define for Ariane 6 specifications that are related to Falcon 9?s: a perfect adaptation to the launch of European government satellites, eased launch of commercial satellites, simplified design and tightened industrial organization to significantly reduce launch costs.

WE MUST REACT

It is clear that today, the USA are challenging us to compete with them by showing us the way with a system that puts into practice all those recommendations. And while, for many years, we feared competition from emerging economies with their cheap labor, competition is instead coming from the USA and their ability to innovate and to challenge themselves.

This situation bring back memories of the world of IT/computers in the early 70s, shaken by the coming of new companies that had one thing in common ? they all came out of garages in California. 40 years later, the space launcher industry, today considered a sovereign (government/national) industry, may well know the same upheaval.

Europe's space launch supremacy was hard-won/very expensive. Ariane 5 is the best launcher in the world, due to its reliability, conquering launch after launch since 2003, and it will remain the best since Europe has decided to support its operation and its adaptations to the evolving market.

As such, we must react to SpaceX?s challenge and move forth with the development of Ariane 6. The goal isn?t to make yet another Ariane launcher, but rather to reinvent Ariane development by taking the same turn that IT did in the 70s and SpaceX is taking now. This is the lesson we learn from the Californian garages.

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Neat pic taken by F9's upper stage before Thaicom-6 was deployed....

Thaicom6EarthView.jpg

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When SpaceX have built up their flight record and possibly recovered several stages...

Any thoughts about how other launch providers will respond? R&D? Legal mechanations? Scorched earth shock & awe?

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They will take what cost reduction schemes they can until R&D can catch up, but by then SpaceX will be flying theor next generation methane fueled launchers, the next-gen Dragon and deep space MCT spacecraft.

Using methane gives very close to liquid hydrogen performance without the need for the very expensive cryogenic hardware, and it doesn't have the boil-off problems that make fuel depots and long missions tough. This leaves toxic hypergolic fuels like the hydrazine famuly, which work but are inefficient and very hard to handle.

The SpaceX Raptor methane staged combustion engine (650,000 lbf thrust sea level / ~690,000 lbf vacuum) for the Saturn V-class superheavy most are calling "Falcon X" starts component testing at NASA Stennis in Mississippi early this year. Russia's RD-0162/0164 methane engine for Soyuz V is in develipment.

All we hear about methane engines elsewhere is a small one from XCOR, and they're focussed on their spaceplane and piston liquid hydrogen pumps for a ULA upper stage.

Otherwise, from the US and other nations/major companies it's <crickets>

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DocM, where'd you ever see cost-efficient LH2 rockets? for example, hypergolics have comparatively low Isp, but their compactness & capability to throttle thrust up/down highly accurate & safely make possible to drop drag + gravity losses into bottoms. i very doubt Methane's advantages over RP-1 & Hypergolics.

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Using methane gives very close to liquid hydrogen performance without the need for the very expensive cryogenic hardware, and it doesn't have the boil-off problems that make fuel depots and long missions tough. This leaves toxic hypergolic fuels like the hydrazine famuly, which work but are inefficient and very hard to handle.

completely incorrect: 

 

Methane has a boiling point of ?161 ?C (?257.8 ?F) at a pressure of one atmosphere.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane

+ oxidizer out there is LOX, so there'll be gotten Just yet another cryogenic rocket. actually, only niche i can see is to use Methane for low-power upper stages. seems it has good odds to beat Hydrogen: LH2 is worst choice to gain powerful thrust because of problems to cool engines.

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Cryogenic begins at -150?C.

Liquid hydrogen:. ?252.87 ?C (?423.17 ?F)

Liquid methane: ?164 to ?160 ?C (?263 to ?256 ?F)

Liquid methane is barely cryogenic and liquid hydrogen is deeply so. Enough so that it presents storage issues liquid methane does not.

For in-space propulsion the really big deals are Specific Impulse (Isp) and storability.

Isp is a deal breaker, being similar to miles per gallon in a car, and even a few points matter a lot, Since we're talking hydrogen vs methand vs hypergolics here are their numbers,

Liquid Hydrogen+LOX: 455

Liquid Methane:+LOX: 380

MMH+NTO4: 336 (hypergolic)

(MMH: monomethyl hydrazine (toxic)

NTO4: nitrogen tetroxide (toxic)

LOX: liquid oxygen

Also, nitric acid (hypergolic, toxic)

Hydrogen is the clear Isp winner, with methane second. Both will deliver much more "mpg" than NTO4+MMH, which are also highly toxic - complicating ground operations, but with hydrogen there are storage issues.

First, liquid hydrogen is cryogenic so that takes expensive hardware and storage or it'll boil off easily. Second, it is a very tiny molecule that will infiltrate most materials it touches, degrading them over time. As a result special materials or coatings are required.

Bottom line: liquid hydrogen hardware dramatically ups costs.

Methane gives "good enough" Isp, much higher than hypergolics, and does not have near the storage issues of hydrogen.

The hypergolics low Isp is a problem, but toxicity alone is why most companies and nations are actively developing replacements for them. They greatly complicate ground opetations, and crashed hypergolic stages have killed civilians (China, mitric acid+hydrazine).

These advantages over hypergolics and hydrogen are enough that, in addition to SpaceX, Russia is now developing the RD-0162/0164 methane engines for the future Soyuz 5 launcher.

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http://www.braeunig.us/space/propel.htm

My understanding with methane propellent is that since the density is higher than hydrogen, it would require less storage volume in a fuel tank. A storage tank with less volume would mean a rocket with less mass.

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Hypergolics are only choice for long-lasting missions, if to say of chemical propellants.

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You are truely clueless.

http://www.braeunig.us/space/propel.htm

My understanding with methane propellent is that since the density is higher than hydrogen, it would require less storage volume in a fuel tank. A storage tank with less volume would mean a rocket with less mass.

That's known as bulk density and yes, methane is better than liquid hydrogen.

Methane: 801 kg/m^3

Hydrogen: 358 kg/m^3

and for SarK0Y's sake

MMH: 972 kg/m^3, but for long missions or fuel depots it'll freeze solid as a rock without heavy extra insulation heaters in the tank. Not to mention its highly toxic.

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http://www.braeunig.us/space/propel.htm

My understanding with methane propellent is that since the density is higher than hydrogen, it would require less storage volume in a fuel tank. A storage tank with less volume would mean a rocket with less mass.

 it'd be heavier than Hydrogen, but Methane looks better in terms of thrust because there needs less volume to cool engines. In short, at greater thrust, we could hope upon mass savings too.

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You are truely clueless.

That's known as bulk density and yes, methane is better than liquid hydrogen.

I gave it my best shot! ;-)

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You are truely clueless.

DocM, it's truly fascinating comment from you :) how long do you Hope to store Methane in the spacecraft at stable state?

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I gave it my best shot! ;-)

relax, it was to me :)

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I gave it my best shot! ;-)

My first line was aimed at SarK0Y. Sorry for the friendly fire.

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DocM, it's truly fascinating comment from you :) how long do you Hope to store Methane in the spacecraft at stable state?

A lot longer than you can hydrogen, which requires active cooling and heavier insulation to prevent boil-off, then there is th problem of hydrogen infiltration damage which requires many expensive materials that methane doesn't need.

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No sweat Doc.

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this comparison has no ground because Hydrogen never has been used for long-lasting missions. if you want to store Methane for days/weeks/months/.., you need active cooling. where'd you mind to take energy for, DocM???

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Methane would take less cooling & insulation to store long term than hydrogen.

FYI, until the recent move towards methane every proposed fuel depot design was for hydrogen, and the problems associated with hydrogen was why they weren't done.

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Regarding the proposed SpaceX Brownsville, Texas spaceport.

This launch facility would initially be very similar to their Vandenberg Air Force Bade site, launching Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and F9-R, but Musk has made it clear the area would also get a new factory for building much larger rockets and Brownsville would be the launch site.

http://m.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_b64c8912-7b2e-11e3-a927-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm

Delving into SpaceX Files: Cameron County property acquisitions detailed

The proposed site of a facility for Elon Musk?s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., where the world?s first privately-owned commercial rocket-launching complex would be located, consists of 87 acres in four tracts along state Highway 4 at Boca Chica Boulevard.

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? PARCEL 4: SpaceX already has leased this tract of about 56.5 acres as its primary launch site, and purchased about 27 acres.

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The goal is to initiate unmanned launches at the site by the fourth quarter of 2015, according to public records about the proposal.

>

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Methane would take less cooling & insulation to store long term than hydrogen.

FYI, until the recent move towards methane every proposed fuel depot design was for hydrogen, and the problems associated with hydrogen was why they weren't done.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/testfacilities/cryo.html So far from the least valuable result.

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That confirms my point. Depots using deep cryo fuels like H2 suffer the most boiloff, and this is lessened with CH4. You need less cooling and insulation, and that reduces power demands.

Also note it doesn't mention any on-orbit tests of depot tech using H2. It's been tested at a very basic level in space, mainly a used Centaur stage a few years ago, but not anything really functional That is what I meant by being "done."

That said, ULA has a depot proposal - but no funding.

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NASA released a video of last months parachute test!

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