Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 14 2018, @03:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the busy-little-rockets dept.

SpaceX will attempt to launch five Falcon 9 rockets in April. This includes an International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission and a mission to launch Bangabandhu-1, Bangladesh's first satellite. The Bangabandhu-1 launch is planned to be the first to use SpaceX's Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket, which may be the final major iteration of Falcon 9 before replacement by BFR.

At a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel, Elon Musk said that SpaceX could test the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) "spaceship" as soon as the first half of 2019. The spaceship is the second stage of the complete BFR rocket, would be capable of reaching orbit without the first stage booster, and alone has over 50% more thrust than an entire Falcon 9.

The initial tests would likely be similar to the Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing tests.

Also at USA Today, MarketWatch, and SpaceNews.


Original Submission

Related Stories

City Council Approves SpaceX's BFR Facility at the Port of Los Angeles 10 comments

All systems are go for SpaceX's BFR rocket facility at Port of Los Angeles after City Council OKs plan

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a plan allowing SpaceX to build and operate a facility at the Port of L.A., where the Hawthorne space company will produce its next-generation BFR rockets and spacecraft.

The vote gives formal approval to a plan that got the greenlight last month from the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners.

During a presentation to the council, L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino said the project could result in up to 700 new jobs.

Under the terms of the deal, SpaceX will have an initial 10-year lease with two additional 10-year extension options. The company's initial rent will be $1.38 million a year, with annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index, but it can offset a total of $44.1 million in rent by making improvements to the Terminal Island site at Berth 240 in its first 20 years of tenancy.

Previously: SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles

Related: SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More


Original Submission

SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles 17 comments

The Mayor of Los Angeles has announced that SpaceX will begin production of the BFR at the port of Los Angeles:

SpaceX can start building its "Big Fucking Rocket," now that it has officially found a home in LA. Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced on Twitter that the private space giant "will start production development of the Big Falcon Rocket (the spacecraft's tamer name, apparently)" at the port of Los Angeles. SpaceX designed the 348-foot-long behemoth to fly humanity to the moon, Mars and beyond. It will be able to carry up to [150] tons in payload, whereas Falcon Heavy can only carry [63.8] tons. "This vehicle holds the promise of taking humanity deeper into the cosmos than ever before," he added, along with an illustration of the company's massive interplanetary spacecraft.

The massive cylindrical body of the BFR's fabrication mold has been photographed at a tent at the Port of San Pedro (compare to this earlier photo of the main body tool):

Finally, it's worth noting just how shockingly busy the BFR tent was on both April 13th and 14th, as well as the 8th (the first day Pauline visited the facility). With upwards of 40 cars parked at the tent, it's blindingly clear that SpaceX is not simply using the tent as a temporary storage location – alongside the arrival of composite fabrication materials (prepreg sheets, epoxy, etc) from Airtech International, SpaceX undeniably intends to begin initial fabrication of the first BFR prototypes in this tent, although they will likely eventually move the activities to the Berth 240 Mars rocket factory. That's certainly not a sentence I ever expected to write, but it is what it is.

The BFR's height may be elongated from its planned total of 106 meters.

Related: SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s
SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More


Original Submission

SpaceX Plans to Fly a Passenger Around the Moon Using BFR 14 comments

After a previously planned flight around the Moon using a Falcon Heavy fizzled out, SpaceX has announced that it will send a private passenger around the Moon using a BFR launch vehicle. More details will be announced on Monday:

On Thursday evening, without any advance notice, SpaceX tweeted that is had signed the world's "first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle." Moreover, the company promised to reveal "who's flying and why" on Monday, September 17. The announcement will take place at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.

There were only two other clues—tweets from Elon Musk himself. Was the rendering of the Big Falcon Spaceship in SpaceX's tweet new? Yes, Musk said. And was he the passenger? In response to this, the founder of SpaceX simply tweeted a Japanese flag emoji. This would seem to be a strong clue that the passenger is from Japan. Or maybe Musk was enjoying the epic Seven Samurai movie at that moment.

By announcing this on Thursday, and waiting four days to provide more details, the company has set off a big guessing game as to who will fly. Of course that is an interesting question, but we have many other questions that we'd like to see answered before that. We've included some of those questions below, along with some wild and (slightly) informed guesses. Musk even answered one of them for us.

The design of the BFS has apparently changed to include three prominent fins and an underside heat shield.

Related: How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019
SpaceX to Begin BFR Production at the Port of Los Angeles
2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration


Original Submission

SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s 16 comments

The United Launch Alliance's CEO Tory Bruno has been making his case for the upcoming Vulcan rocket and Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage. The system could compete against SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and BFR in the mid-2020s:

The maiden flight of the Vulcan currently is targeted for the middle of 2020. Two successful commercial launches are required as part of the government certification process, followed by a required upper stage upgrade to improve performance, either moving from two to four Centaur RL10 engines or using a different set of engines altogether. If all goes well, ULA will introduce its new upper stage in 2024, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, that Bruno says will revolutionize spaceflight. "This is on the scale of inventing the airplane," Bruno told reporters during the media roundtable. "That's how revolutionary this upper stage is. It's 1900, and I'm inventing the airplane. People don't even know what they're going to do with it yet. But I'm confident it's going to create a large economy in space that doesn't exist today. No one is working on anything like this."

The Vulcan will stand 228 feet tall with a first stage powered by two engines provided by either Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, or Aerojet Rocketdyne. Blue Origin's BE-4 engine burns methane and liquid oxygen while Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR-1 powerplant burns a more traditional mixture of oxygen and highly refined kerosene.

[...] ULA plans to begin engine recovery operations after the Vulcan is routinely flying and after the ACES upper stage is implemented. Bruno said the engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage and getting them back every time, with no impact on mission performance, will pay big dividends. SpaceX, in contrast, must use propellant to fly its Falcon 9 stages back to touchdown. Heavy payloads bound for high orbits require most if not all of the rocket's propellant and in those cases, recovery may not be possible. As a result, SpaceX's ability to recover rocket stages depends on its manifest and the orbital demands of those payloads.

"Simplistically, if you recover the old booster propulsively then you can do that part of the time, you get all the value back some of the time," Bruno said. "Or, you can recover just the engine, which is our concept, and then you get only part of the value back, about two thirds ... but you get to do it every single time because there's no performance hit. So it really turns into math."

ULA expects to fly at least 7-8 more Delta IV Heavy rockets between now and the early 2020s, with some Atlas V launches happening concurrently with the beginning of Vulcan launches in the mid-2020s.

The U.S. Air Force has just awarded ULA a $355 million contract to launch two Air Force Space Command spacecraft, and SpaceX a $290 million contract to launch three GPS Block III satellites.

In addition to testing BFR with short hops starting in 2019, SpaceX plans to send BFR into orbit by 2020. The company is leasing land in Los Angeles, reportedly for the construction of BFR rockets.

Related: SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News
Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX
Zuma Failure Emboldens SpaceX's ULA-Backed Critics; Gets Support from US Air Force [Updated]
SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
(1)
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @05:39PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @05:39PM (#652513)

    At a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel, Elon Musk said that SpaceX could test the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) "spaceship" as soon as the first half of 2019.

    ... and if you believe that's what the F in BFR stands for, I've got a fu^h^h Falcon bridge to sell you :)

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday March 14 2018, @05:44PM (9 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @05:44PM (#652516)

    > as soon as the first half of 2019

    Mr Musk likes to set highly aggressive goals.
    If that thing flies in 2019, that will already be pretty good.
    I would not bet money I can't afford to lose, that it will fly before H2 2020

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday March 14 2018, @08:18PM (8 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday March 14 2018, @08:18PM (#652574) Journal

      BFS is the smaller part of the complete BFR, although it is very important since it will be landing and taking off from Mars and other destinations, and can reach orbit by itself.

      Possibly the most important component, the Raptor rocket engine [wikipedia.org], has been in development for years and has been test firing lately.

      The first tests of the BFS could be very rudimentary, such as taking off, flying a few hundred feet, and then landing. Later they will launch it suborbitally to test reentry + heat shields.

      People cite previous missed deadlines like Falcon Heavy or crewed missions to the ISS. Falcon Heavy was dependent on an evolving Falcon 9. Crewed missions require SpaceX to convince NASA that the Falcon 9 + Dragon capsule are very safe.

      SpaceX is now focusing on BFR [techcrunch.com] following the Falcon Heavy maiden launch. The Falcon 9 Block 5 development is just about finished as well, with the first one launching the Bangabandhu-1 as mentioned in the summary.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 1) by Derf the on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:08PM

        by Derf the (4919) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:08PM (#652593)

        Once they land this first upcoming Falcon 9 Block 5 (on April 5) they still have a center booster et al of the Falcon Heavy Block 5 (in manifest for June 13) to land before I expect the full engineering team can be focused onto the BFG.
        My guess, first BFG flight/hop Oct 2019.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:14PM (3 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:14PM (#652598)

        Not disagreeing, because we all know that past performance (under different constraints) is no guarantee of future results.

        But a project the scale of BFR has so many dependencies that it's pretty optimistic to think they may test such a major subsystem in barely 15 months.
        It is rocket surgery. SpaceX has a blooper reel of learning moments, and they don't necessarily want to add too much to it, by rushing past reviews that would avoid fireworks.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:56PM (2 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:56PM (#652623)

          You talk as though 15 months would be starting from scratch. They started working on the BFR years ago - at the very least the Raptor engines and composite oxygen tanks have already been built and tested, and I assume there's lots of other stuff they've built already as well, that didn't make for such impressive PR photos. It's quite possible that at this point they're pretty much down to assembling the parts and building the structural frame and shell. In which case 15 months to have finished assembly and static testing wouldn't seem all that ambitious.

          • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:08PM (1 child)

            by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:08PM (#652632)

            I know that it didn't just start. But there's just so much you can sim before you build, when a lot of your company is still working on FH and Block5.
            But I also know that it takes well over a year from the time you have the first full-scale elements being assembled, to the time you actually try to fly. There's a lot of stuff which has to come together, fit together, work together, and a monster list of testing scenarios.

            If Elon posts a picture of a prototype tomorrow, I'll believe it might maybe fly next year.

            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 14 2018, @11:05PM

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 14 2018, @11:05PM (#652661) Journal

              There's a lot of stuff which has to come together, fit together, work together, and a monster list of testing scenarios.

              Oh, come on. Can't be more complicated than putting together an IKEA piece, can it? (grin)
              After all it was you that designed that lot of stuff, so you know the shit.

              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:42PM (2 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:42PM (#652616)

        Do you have a source for that "reach orbit by itself" bit? I hadn't seen that, and it would be very impressive. Obviously, it'll need to do so from Mars, but that's a much smaller challenge than on Earth.

        Falcon 9 Full Thrust: 29t to LEO, including the max of payload of 23t plus the second stage and fairing, using 518t fuel. 18t fuel per 1t to LEO
        Falcon Heavy: 64t payload, or 70t total to LEO with (guessing that all three boosters carry a standard full fuel load) 1,340t fuel. 20t fuel per 1t to LEO
        BFR Spaceship: 85t ship carrying 1,100t fuel. Even assuming no payload, that would be 13t fuel per 1t to LEO.

        That would be a pretty impressive improvement considering that methane and RP-1 offer roughly the same specific impulse.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:01PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:01PM (#652627) Journal

          https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/76e79c/i_am_elon_musk_ask_me_anything_about_bfr/dodec8l [reddit.com]

          Will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance. Those are fairly easy on the vehicle, as no heat shield is needed, we can have a large amount of reserve propellant and don't need the high area ratio, deep space Raptor engines.

          Next step will be doing orbital velocity Ship flights, which will need all of the above. Worth noting that BFS is capable of reaching orbit by itself with low payload, but having the BF Booster increases payload by more than an order of magnitude. Earth is the wrong planet for single stage to orbit. No problemo on Mars.

          BFS without booster can do point-to-point suborbital "airline" flights, and it can apparently get into orbit, albeit with a small payload and possibly worse $/kg than the complete rocket with booster.

          Looking at the Falcon 9 and BFS numbers:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFR_(rocket) [wikipedia.org]

          Empty mass: 85,000 kg (187,000 lb)
          Gross mass: 1,335,000 kg (2,943,000 lb)
          Engines: 7 × Raptor (4 × vacuum, 3 × sea level)
          Thrust: 12.7 MN (2,900,000 lbf) total

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9 [wikipedia.org]

          Mass: 549,054 kg (1,210,457 lb)
          First stage thrust: FT (late 2016): 7,607 kN (Block 5 is 7-8% percent higher)
          Second stage thrust: FT: 934 kN

          The Raptor rocket engine [wikipedia.org] has 2-3 times the thrust of the Merlin 1D.

          So the BFS, which is a "second stage", has over 12 times the thrust of the Falcon 9 second stage, and over 50% more than the complete Falcon 9 Block 5.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:46PM

            by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:46PM (#652649)

            Thanks, nice to hear it straight from the horse's mouth. I hope he can pull it off.

            A 27% reduction in propellant per ton would still be quite impressive though.

            Oh, and FYI the Wikipedia page you linked is still is still describing the original interplanetary BFR, not the new, smaller design with only two atmospheric engines.

            Also, it might not be a good idea to use those vacuum engines in an atmosphere - it sounds like using rocket bells optimized for less than ~40% of ambient pressure will result in flow separation, which can cause bell damage or control difficulties.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:52PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @09:52PM (#652620)

    A dozen launches a day, but you won't be on any of them unless you pass the test of genetic purity: you must be pregnant will Elong's Musky seed.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:02PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday March 14 2018, @10:02PM (#652628) Journal

      And even then your child will become just another Martian slave.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @11:08PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14 2018, @11:08PM (#652662)

        Elong pays his harem well, and all women are gold diggers.

(1)