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SpaceX (general discussion)

sferrin

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SpaceX will try to launch the Falcon heavy rocket that got delayed last night because of high winds.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019/05/first-starlink-mission-heaviest-payload-launch-spacex/
It's just a regular Falcon. Falcon Heavy is next month.

Oops, thanks for the correction sferrin. :oops:
No prob. 36,000lbs for a regular falcon. According to the SpaceX site even a regular Falcon9 can put more into orbit than a Titan IV. :D
 

TomS

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SpaceX is considering multiple Single Stage to Orbit launches from Pad 39A to the Moon and Mars without the need for a super heavy booster.
That's not what the article says. It has a couple of parts.

1) They're considering launching Starship from new pads built within the Pad 39A Launch Complex. These would be new pads but there's a lot of land inside the Pad 39A perimeter.

2) Starship has just enough margins to do LEO, or more realistically suborbital, test flights without the Super Heavy booster. SSTO would be expendable only (no heat shield or deorbit fuel), so I really doubt they will do it. Suborbital lobs could test reentry hardware from either KSC or Boca Chica. Reusable flights to orbit (including Moon or Mars missions) need Super Heavy.

3) Unexpectedly, they are building two Starship test articles, one in Texas and one in Florida. Separate build teams that share data but are not building to the same exact design.
 

Michel Van

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I wondering can it be that Starship in SSTO mode gone replace the Falcon 9 for Leo Mission ?
or that Starship does a Suborbital flight and release a second stage with payload on top of trajectory and fly back ?

let see what Musk come up this time on probable 20 June presentation of Starship
 

Dragon029

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A few days ago Musk talked about Starship's ability to achieve SSTO:
@MillShive
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't @elonmusk state a few times that StarShip cannot do SSTO on Earth? Did I miss an update? Are the raptors more powerful than earlier thought?
@elonmusk
Replying to @MillShive
It technically could, but wouldn’t have enough mass margin for a heat shield, landing propellant or legs, so not reusable
So it seems that Starship won't be performing any SSTO missions unless weight is reduced, Raptor performance is improved further, or unless a customer or SpaceX just wants an empty Starship (that can't be landed) put into orbit for some reason.
 

Flyaway

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sferrin

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Am I missing something with these Starships in their current state? They look as structurally sound as an unpressurized beer can. o_O
 

Moose

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Unlike the TX outfit, I have a little familiarity with Coastal Steel. While they wouldn't have occurred to me for an aerospace project, they certainly know structural work.
 

Dragon029

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Am I missing something with these Starships in their current state? They look as structurally sound as an unpressurized beer can. o_O
The original plan was to have the belly of Starship be lined with longerons and for a second layer of steel skin to cover those, providing channels for methane (for a transpiration cooling system), and a rigid backbone (or bellybone?) for Starship's structure. The thermal protection system for Starship seems to have changed however, with a move towards passive hexagonal heatshield tiles and transpiration cooling only in certain hotspots where erosion is observed during re-entry testing.
Now, it's possible that the longerons and a second skin will be added to either support areas of transpiration cooling, or as a sort of common backplane that can be tapped into (allowing ceramic tiles to be swapped out with transpiration cooled steel tiles), but it's also possible that they're fully abandoning the double wall.

Instead, they may potentially rely on the cumulative reinforcement that ceramic tiles may provide (even if the tiles aren't resting on / apply load to other tiles). They may also (in addition to, or instead of) rely on internal structures, such as longerons and stringers for cargo or fuel tanker Starships, or internal walls, etc on crewed Starship. Aerial imagery of Starship construction at Boca Chica has shown some internal structures that look like stringers, but they may just be temporary alignment rings used during welding. In addition, the fuel tank bulkheads should at least apply some rigidity in the lower half of Starship.

614332

All-in-all, I think we'll get a better understanding of how they're approaching this next month when the Boca Chica Starship is slated to begin getting legs / fins (or at least the mounts for them), plus Elon previously tweeted that he'll "probably" be doing a presentation / public update on Starship on June 20th.
 

sferrin

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Unlike the TX outfit, I have a little familiarity with Coastal Steel. While they wouldn't have occurred to me for an aerospace project, they certainly know structural work.

Oh I don't doubt that. I was just wondering about the details (thanks Dragon029). In some ways this is reminding me of some aspects of Big Dumb Booster, where they'd planned on building to shipyard standards / environments rather than in clean rooms.
 

RanulfC

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Or you could mount a couple F9R's as boosters to push a Starship into LEO with everything needed to get back down. But IIRC Musk was pretty heavily down-playing ANY SSTO talk for a good reason and 'adding' boosters is unlikely.

Randy
 

Flyaway

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Unlike the TX outfit, I have a little familiarity with Coastal Steel. While they wouldn't have occurred to me for an aerospace project, they certainly know structural work.
I thought that company didn’t exist anymore and they were all Space X employees working there now?
 

Flyaway

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Moose

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Unlike the TX outfit, I have a little familiarity with Coastal Steel. While they wouldn't have occurred to me for an aerospace project, they certainly know structural work.
I thought that company didn’t exist anymore and they were all Space X employees working there now?
I'm unclear as to their exact relationship, but based on the imagery they're definitely using people familiar with the facility and who have experience.
 

Flyaway

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Engineer charged with faking inspection reports for parts used in SpaceX rockets

A man from upstate New York has been charged with providing false inspection reports and test certifications for parts used in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, as well as vehicles from other aerospace contractors employed by the Defense Department. The misconduct was brought to light thanks to an investigation from NASA’s inspector general, the FBI, and the Air Force’s office of special investigations.
 

Flyaway

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Unlike the TX outfit, I have a little familiarity with Coastal Steel. While they wouldn't have occurred to me for an aerospace project, they certainly know structural work.
I thought that company didn’t exist anymore and they were all Space X employees working there now?
I'm unclear as to their exact relationship, but based on the imagery they're definitely using people familiar with the facility and who have experience.
Could it be same staff but different employer?
 

Dragon029

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So firstly, both fairings have been recovered (fished from the water), all 60 Starlink satellites were confirmed to be online / nominal after separation, and should now be flying with solar arrays deployed and krypton thrusters running.

But besides the Starlink mission, Musk has been busy on Twitter again, talking about Starship, Super Heavy (the first stage booster for Starship) and Starhopper (the short test rocket):

1. Starhopper is expected to have its next hop in a little over a week from today (it's recently received some kind of new feet for dampening during landing, and it should have a Raptor re-installed in the coming days).
2. SpaceX are just about to complete assembly of Raptor engine #5, and are ramping to produce a Raptor engine every 3 days this summer.
3. The 2 Starship orbital prototypes being manufactured at Boca Chica, TX and at Cocoa, FL will fly with at least 3 engines, but maybe 6.
4. Starship's design has changed from 7x sea-level optimised engines to 3x sea-level optimised (1.3m diameter bell) and 3x vacumm optimised (2.8m diameter bell) engines. The sea-level engines will be in a triangle in the middle and be able to gimbal roughly 15 degrees, the vacuum engines will be in an outer triangle, with fixed nozzles connected to or almost connected to the skin / outer diameter of the bottom of the rocket. The space between the vacuum engines will still be used as a trunk and for cargo deployment at destinations (and to help balance CG when forward cargo is loaded near max).
5. Vacuum Raptor engines are aiming for an Isp of hopefully 380, but at least 370. The vacuum engines will also only be used in vacuum / near-vacuum conditions.
6. Vacuum Raptor testing should hopefully begin in 4 months.
7. RCS thrusters on Starship will be cold gas nitrogen; for atmospheric maneuvering they'll rely predominantly or entirely on the aero surface, plus the 15 degree gimbal range of the sea level engines.
8. They're aiming for a useful payload to LEO of 150 tons, but say that, allowing for mass growth, it should at least be 100 tons.
9. The first Super Heavy booster is planned to begin construction in 3 months. It'll be transported to the launch pad (from wherever it's assembled) horizontally.
10. Super Heavy will initially only have around 20 Raptor engines (rather than the full 31) in order to risk less loss of hardware.
 

Flyaway

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Just revealed SpaceX lawsuit alleges Air Force ‘wrongly awarded’ billions to rocket competitors

The full SpaceX complaint alleges that the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center “wrongly awarded” the funds “to a portfolio of three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics.”

The Air Force awarded $2.3 billion in rocket development contracts last year to competitors Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance.

SpaceX alleges that the Air Force “determined that SpaceX’s one development launch vehicle,” or Starship, “rendered the entire SpaceX portfolio” as “high risk.”
 

sferrin

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Just revealed SpaceX lawsuit alleges Air Force ‘wrongly awarded’ billions to rocket competitors

The full SpaceX complaint alleges that the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center “wrongly awarded” the funds “to a portfolio of three unproven rockets based on unstated metrics.”

The Air Force awarded $2.3 billion in rocket development contracts last year to competitors Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance.

SpaceX alleges that the Air Force “determined that SpaceX’s one development launch vehicle,” or Starship, “rendered the entire SpaceX portfolio” as “high risk.”
By that measure New Armstrong would DQ Blue Origin, Vulcan would DQ ULA, and Omega Heavy would DQ.
 

Flyaway

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SpaceX raises over $1 billion through two funding rounds

WASHINGTON — SpaceX has raised over $1 billion in new capital this year as it embarks on the deployment of its Starlink broadband constellation, according to regulatory filings published Friday.

The launch provider turned satellite operator raised $486.2 million in one round, and $535.7 million in another, the company said in May 24 filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filings show SpaceX sold all but $18.8 million of the shares available between the two rounds. The company raised $1.022 billion in total.
 

fredymac

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Rush hour in space. Starlink satellites in orbit shortly after launch. Presumably they spread out over time.


 

Flyaway

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SpaceX raises over $1 billion through two funding rounds

WASHINGTON — SpaceX has raised over $1 billion in new capital this year as it embarks on the deployment of its Starlink broadband constellation, according to regulatory filings published Friday.

The launch provider turned satellite operator raised $486.2 million in one round, and $535.7 million in another, the company said in May 24 filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filings show SpaceX sold all but $18.8 million of the shares available between the two rounds. The company raised $1.022 billion in total.
 

Flyaway

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Not massively surprised to read this.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites spark fights between astronomy, spaceflight fans

Just a handful of hours after SpaceX successfully placed all 60 of its first Starlink v0.9 satellites in orbit, ground observers began capturing and sharing spectacular nighttime views of the spacecraft. Soon after, fans and practitioners of astronomy and spaceflight began bickering.

The topic of concern: light pollution, not from lights on the ground but from sunlight-reflecting satellites in orbit. Immediately after launch, the ‘train’ of 60 Starlink satellites were undeniably spectacular, easily visible to the eye and as bright or brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. For the most part, reactions seemed to lean more towards awe than concern, but it didn’t take long for people to begin extrapolating from 60 satellites to Starlink’s peak of ~11,900 (an increase of 200X), and some responses began to paint SpaceX’s constellation in a more negative light.
And here’s an update via NSF:



Agreed, sent a note to Starlink team last week specifically regarding albedo reduction. We’ll get a better sense of value of this when satellites have raised orbits & arrays are tracking to sun.
 
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Flyaway

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Will Starlink & Other Satellite Networks Ruin The Night Sky For Astronomers?

 

FighterJock

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Will Starlink & Other Satellite Networks Ruin The Night Sky For Astronomers?

Hopefully not, after all we had the Iridium satellites which had the same criticism as Starlink when they went up.
 

Flyaway

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SpaceX ramps up operations in South Texas as Hopper tests loom

SpaceX is working a dual test flow for its new Super Heavy and Starship systems, with construction ongoing in Florida while Starhopper prepares to restart test operations in Texas. Two orbital Starship prototypes are now in staggered stages of production while the first Super Heavy booster is set to begin construction in the next three months. However, the focus will soon return to Starhopper, as it prepares for an incremental series of untethered test hops.
 

Flyaway

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UPDATE: *No road or beach closures in Boca Chica this week*, according to staff writer Mark Reagan (@RGVReagan) of the Brownsville Herald (@BrownsvilleNews). But hopefully the Raptor(s) should be arriving soon...[emoji1696]Get ready for installation- and hops! [emoji91][emoji573][emoji267]#Starhopper #Starship

Testing is scheduled for June 3 from 2 to 8 p.m. and in the alternative on June 4 and/or June 5, from 2 to 8 p.m. Just got some new details from the county.
 

Flyaway

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NASA says SpaceX readying Crew Dragon capsule for possible piloted test flight by end of year

In parallel with an on-going failure investigation, SpaceX is readying downstream Crew Dragon spacecraft for flight in hopes that corrective actions can be implemented in time to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station before the end of the year, a senior NASA manager said Tuesday.
Speaking to the NASA Advisory Council, Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said the capsule originally intended to carry the first astronauts will now be used for the in-flight abort test and another downstream capsule, originally planned for the first operational Crew Dragon flight to the ISS, will serve as the Demo 2 vehicle.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview with CBS News last week that SpaceX’s perceived lack of candor in the immediate aftermath of the test failure was not acceptable and promised more timely updates in the future.
“The communications that came from that, in my view, from their side was very poor, and it can’t happen again that way,” he said. “People need to get a better understanding earlier in the process, and NASA needs to be involved in making sure they’re communicating what’s happening.”

But, he added, “what we don’t want to do is get out wrong information because we went too fast.”
 

Dragon029

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Gwynne Shotwell had a presentation at MIT yesterday (no video of it yet) where she gave some new information:

1. Out of the 60 Starlink satellites launched, 56 are working fine and propelling themselves to their intended orbit (NORAD has released tracking data that shows this nicely), but 4 satellites are misbehaving and have not began their climb yet. That said, SpaceX does have communication with those satellites, so it may just be a matter of doing some remote software debugging. If worst comes to worst (and they have a propulsion system failure) they'll de-orbit themselves in the next couple of years through drag.

2. SpaceX plans to have Starship make its first flight in 18 months. It's unclear what that means however; she could be talking about the prototypes at Boca Chica / Cocoa, or she could be talking about the first operational Starship. Gwynne has historically also been quite cognizant about "Elon time", but it's unclear if that 18 months is her or Elon's estimate.

3. Gwynne says that SpaceX will put cargo on Mars in less than 5 years (potentially around when Artemis is planned to [hopefully] put humans on the Moon again).

Also, following the launch of https://www.starlink.com/ some people noticed that there's a https://www.starship.com/ website with this:
screenshot-starship.com-2019.05.30-14-14-39.png

The domain registration is hidden / owned by http://perfectprivacy.com/ so we don't know if it's a fan site, official, or unassociated with SpaceX / real space travel. The official Starlink website has no clear ties to SpaceX in its domain registration info either though.

Regardless though, we have Elon expected to give a presentation on Starship on the 20th of June, so we might see that page become the face of Starship. Rumour is that the Earth-to-Earth suborbital transport plan is going to be talked about quite a bit, so they may use the page to advertise a consumer service being launched in the next few years (perhaps just tourism suborbital flights unless they've made political progress in arranging launch sites elsewhere in the world).
 
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Dragon029

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Yet even more news / commentary:

Elon's just stated on Twitter that the wings / flaps design of Starship is changing again, but he says it won't affect schedule much.

I figure that the main issue will have been with the rear fins and actuator reliability, unnecessary weight, etc. I highly doubt they'll abandon the belly-first re-entry mechanic, but I think they're going to be aiming to rely more on Raptor engine gimballed thrust for achieving high pitching moments and will aim to have a more reliable landing leg system (whereas the current design has the potential for a rear fin actuator to seize and prevent legs being placed where needed). Maybe the legs will go back to begin integrated into the fuselage, but I'm doubtful, as rear cargo / having a 'trunk' is rather useful, and legs might infringe on that unless they're in 'pods' coming off the side. Maybe they'll still have fins like now, with legs on the ends, but perhaps they'll have a smaller chord or span and be fixed, while other control surfaces are used to maintain aerodynamic control.

Elon also mentioned that for point-to-point suborbital flight on Earth, 2 to 4 more Raptors would be needed (presumably he'd be swapping the 3x SL + 3x VAC engines to 7x SL or 9x SL engines). "You can go surprisingly far, even with low lift/drag". "Distances of ~10,000 km with decent payload seem achievable at roughly Mach 20".
 

Michel Van

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Elon also mentioned that for point-to-point suborbital flight on Earth, 2 to 4 more Raptors would be needed (presumably he'd be swapping the 3x SL + 3x VAC engines to 7x SL or 9x SL engines). "You can go surprisingly far, even with low lift/drag". "Distances of ~10,000 km with decent payload seem achievable at roughly Mach 20".
They muss replace the 3 Vacuum Raptors with Sea level Raptors, for decent they could use aerodynamic "bouncing" on top of atmosphere like original Sanger and Dyna Soar proposal
it's extent the Range even further
 
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