Kistling a Different Tune: Commercial Space in an Alternate Key

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by e of pi, Jun 2, 2018.

Loading...
  1. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Location:
    Halfway to Anywhere
    @IncongruousGoat You can find the landing ellipse in relation to the site layout on page 22 of the payload planning guide. As you can see, they RTLS on every mission, meaning that the LAP's boostback burn is essentially the same regardless of inclination:

    [​IMG]

    The OV uses Shuttle heritage TPS, but because it's much lighter than the Shuttle, they can get away with using the lower-performance versions pretty much across the board. The sidewalls of the OV and PM are covered with Shuttle insulation blankets, which needed minimal maintenance between flights and which (given the cylindrical profile of the K-1) require less customization to each location on the vehicle. The forward heat shield is one of the two Shuttle tile materials, but I'm having trouble at this instant finding confirmation on the specific type of tile and if the TPS used on the flare was tiles or blankets. Either way, the systems used are robust and proven on Shuttle, and designed using Shuttle experience to dramatically limit the maintenance required compared to Shuttle. For instance, there are fewer custom-shaped tiles and blankets, which is also enabled by the vehicle shape, and the exchangeable payload modules carry the forward heat shield and its tiles, enabling re-flight of the OV with a second payload inside its own PM in parallel with the servicing of the first PM's tiles.

    As I understand it, the actual number of tiles replaced on a Shuttle mission was small (100 or less out of >20,000 tiles), the challenge was the total area which required inspection and the complexity of replacing a single specific tile for a carefully shaped location if a swap was required. Given that Kistler has about 2.5% as much tile area as the Shuttle, meaning less area to inspect and check, the engineering seems to add up to fly substantially more often than Shuttle did using similar materials. Using similar man-hours per square meter and tile fall out, you'd project about 17 man-days to service the TPS and replacement of something like 2 or 3 actual tiles. The simpler shape may mean even lower than that for inspection time--you could even more easily introduce some kind of robotic vision-based system, given the simpler geometry and small size.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    Dlg123, IncongruousGoat and scretchy like this.
  2. TimothyC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Before I reply to IncongruousGoat, I'd like to expand on something I touched on at the end of my prior post "Another point is that the K-1 making it to the station this early give weight to those in the Obama administration who want (as of late 2009) to hand over ISS ops to commercial providers - as it is obvious that the program has worked with one company having already gotten their vehicle on orbit, and a second being close to doing so."

    The K-1 is capable of delivering three metric tons of cargo to the station, and returning with the same load. While the Falcon9/Dragon system can match that for delivered cargo, they can't match it for returned cargo (the highest downmass for Dragon is still under two metric tons), and they certainly can't do an unpressurized cargo return that the K-1 can do with it's unpressurized cargo module (which, to be clear, is independent of the satellite delivery vehicle). Where the K-1 really shines is costs. Even if there is a 50% premium over the stated cost numbers for an ISS flight, the K-1 can put three metric tons into the ISS for just $10,000 per kilogram - a much lower cost than SpaceX is doing even now, and radically lower than what the shuttle was doing.


    Well, the November 2018 was only 25 months and 36 launches after the Amos 6 event, plus RpK is probably going to get said certification faster - as they get the vehicle back after every flight. To be fair, there are plenty of missions that the K-1 can't take because of mass and volume constraints, it becomes easy to see lots of payload flying. Smaller launchers up to the middle of the Delta II range will be hard pressed to compete, which isn't good for OSC's Pegasus.

    Something I think you are having a hard time grasping (and took me a while to fully grasp as well) is just how conservative the K-1 is. The LAP is built like a battleship and the OV is built like a tank. Almost every component on the vehicle is designed as a line replaceable unit from the OMS thrusters to the TPS. The more I read about the K-1, the less and less I think that they will need to change after a first flight. Furthermore, the number of ways that they can loose a vehicle is limited - even in the late 1990s, the vehicle GNC software explicitly had intact abort modes for both vehicles (LAP and OV) if the in-flight ignition system didn't work.

    Here is a simplified cutaway of the K-1 vehicle:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, major components are at most a single panel removal away from access, and it is easy to get to almost everything on both components. Original Kistler was 'newspace' in era, but founded by oldspace guys who had experience working on Saturn and shuttle development and wanted to do the vehicle right this time.


    As noted, the K-1 uses a combination of shuttle derived TPS (tiles and blankets), and some minor sections of ablator. I can't find the PDF at this moment, but Kistler in the early 2000s even had concepts of blisters on the OV to allow test flights of new TPS systems in actual entry environments.

    As was noted, the Landing ellipse is centered only a couple of kilometers away from the processing facility, which is only two and a quarter kilometers from the launch site. The trajectory differences between a boostback from polar, and one from a 45 degree orbit are therefore minor at best.
     
    Dlg123, e of pi and IncongruousGoat like this.
  3. LordandsaviorKloka Son of Gondor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    Location:
    middle of New York
    I asked this earlier but.....

    As of TTL’s present,is the American manned space access gap over?
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  4. Bahamut-255 Space Lover

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    A good point here, though there is the 'Vested Interests' to factor in, who will be determined to protect their States jobs in this particular industry - and with it, their Votes come election time - many of which do carry a lot of clout AFAIK.

    Kistler, SpaceX, and any others who might make it, will still need some time to build up their respective reputations, which IMHO, will take them past 2009-11 before they're in a position to really capitalise on it.

    So while this [what I believe will be at least two successful Private Space Enterprises] should certainly help the case for Commercial Space, there's still a very long way to go.


    Well, IOTL, STS was retired in 07/2011, and as of 01/2019 the US still doesn't have Independent Manned Space Access. Mainly due to chronic lack of funding in it's early days thanks to said Vested Interests mentioned earlier as far as I'm concerned.

    How Kistler can shake things up here? I for one can't say at this time, but to venture a guess, I'd suspect no massive change here.


    A question of my own. How will Kistler's success here affect SpaceX's ambitions - chiefly those of Elon Musk - ITTL in the years to come?
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  5. TimothyC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Well, we're about to hit the budget that killed Constellation, so that question is certainly on everyone's mind. How do the post-Constellation discussions go when there is something fully reusable already flying?

    Something that becomes apparent when you dig into the history of Kistler as a part of RpK is how much they were reliant on existing aerospace firms. Every major component was outsourced, as was vehicle construction/integration as well as - and this is critical - vehicle operations. That's right, the only thing RpK is actually doing is management and marketing.

    Go back and look at who is doing vehicle integration and ops, and then look at this nice chart of the launch corridors - including the one that would be used to the station from the Nevada launch site - that comes to us from the 2002 Kistler environmental impact statement via AMERICAN ROCKET NEWS

    [​IMG]


    That's a good question. I would point out that even in early 2009 Musk was talking about a fully reusable Falcon 9. The idea is obviously there, what happens when SpaceX has to compete with a fully reusable competitor? What does this do to Falcon Heavy? How much energy that has gone toward other targets (Starlink, ITS/BFR/TLA ect.) can/will be repurposed?
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  6. IncongruousGoat Armchair Rocket Scientist

    Joined:
    May 27, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Unless and until Kistler start offering a cheap cargo/passenger service to Mars, Musk's ambitions will be completely unaffected. SpaceX was founded explicitly to act as a forcing function for the colonization of Mars, and anything else they do is done towards that end.

    Now, the execution of those ambitions is another matter entirely. SpaceX are going to be launching less ITTL, at least for the first few years (Kistler will be taking some of their business), which means they're going to have fewer launches with which to experiment, as well as lower cash flow and a smaller R&D budget. This in turn means that their launch vehicle design efforts are going to be delayed compared to OTL, and the final design of whatever BFR equivalent they come up with may be designed differently. Starlink might be butterflied, but they're going to have to do something outside of their satellite launch business to raise money for Das Marsprojekt, so they're going to have to diversify in some way.

    Which is going to be advantageous for them in the short term, since they can get to market in volume a lot faster than SpaceX can. The long term is somewhat less rosy. SpaceX are going to be at a significant advantage in R&D and design iteration pace, simply because of the advantages conferred by vertical integration, not to mention manufacturing costs of new hardware. Unless Kistler either A: manage to kill SpaceX before they can get a foothold in the launch market (which seems unlikely), or B: start moving as much as possible in-house (also unlikely, for institutional reasons), they're going to be in a bad way 10 years down the line. In the meantime, though, they're in a good position to completely dominate the polar/sun-synchronous and rideshare segments of the launch market, and there's also a good chance they'll be able to get a vehicle that can compete with Falcon 9 if they get moving on it quick enough. They might also have better luck than SpaceX with competing for Air Force and NRO launches, what with the OldSpace pedigree, but I don't know if K-1 is capable of delivering that class of large, heavy payload.
     
    Obi wan Kenobi and Dlg123 like this.
  7. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canterlot
    Yeah...the problem with that is how much payload you give up for Falcon 9 if you make it fully reusable directly. With stronger competition from RpK, however, they might not go straight from Falcon 9 to Starship, but go for an intermediate "SFR" rocket with some Starship technology (e.g., Raptor engines), but smaller and only intended for Falcon 9-level payloads of ~20 tones to LEO (versus the ~100 of Starship). If nothing else, they might not have the resources to go straight for Starship, and there's a much more obvious business case in that payload range that can help them move forwards.
     
    Dlg123 and IncongruousGoat like this.
  8. TimothyC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Well, that's Musk's goal. He's been able to get away with a lot OTL because he's leading the pack on new rocketry. ITL, he's not - he's playing the roll of a fast follower which means that while there is a visible path forward for reuse (for example, RpK is using parachutes just like the first Falcon 9 launches, but they are also keeping the stage under control with RCS thrusters for the period between boostback cut-off and drogue deployment) he's still stuck playing catch-up until he gets both stages reused.

    Not only might they be facing a reduced budget, but to match RpK, they will need to get second stage reuse going - which is something that SpaceX historically have not done, and will use up their EDL people's time that otherwise may have historically gone to post-Falcon work.

    Something that should be kept in mind. The Falcon that they are going to start with - 1.0 is not the one that can deliver five and a half metric tons to GTO on a recoverable flight, but one that can, fully expended, throw 4.5 tons. To move into the large market, and to support a reusable second stage, they will need to build Falcon Heavy, and they might need it sooner than they historically did. That buys RpK a bit more room than they otherwise would have, and there is no reason to think that RpK's investors will let them stand still.

    Could they even afford anything not derived from what they have built? To compete with RpK in the LEO market they need a reusable second stage, and to leverage that stage in the GTO market, they need Falcon Heavy. Combine that with the fact that they are a follower not a leader, and anything beyond Falcon might be seen by investors as a distraction.
     
    Obi wan Kenobi and Dlg123 like this.
  9. TimothyC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Something I forgot to mention (and thus I am sorry for the double post) is that the Extended payload module is only about six inches too short to take Gary Hudson's XV crew vehicle. Furthermore, the COTS contracts called for a crewed version, and RpK did show off some renders of the crew vehicle:

    [​IMG]
     
    Dlg123 and Polish Eagle like this.
  10. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Location:
    Halfway to Anywhere
    I love all the discussion today! I'm working on the OV landing post, then some of the post-flight coverage. Not sure if that'll go up tonight or tomorrow.

    Well, TTL's present is December 22, 2009. Thus, the current US manned space access gap hasn't even begun. The actions taken over the next year will determine how long one will be, or if one ever exists at all. ;)
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  11. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canterlot
    I think you're overstating how important a reusable second stage is to SpaceX and Falcon 9. The Falcon 9 isn't directly competing with the K-1; even in the 1.0 version, it's a much larger and more powerful rocket that can lift much larger payloads. Sure, it might not get that many commercial LEO payloads...and losing Iridium and Orbcomm would hurt...but the main customers of SpaceX have been NASA, which is going to be dropping contracts anyway (and perhaps larger contracts, if the success of RpK makes it harder for commercial opponents to fight...well, a man can dream, anyway...), and GTO payloads, where Kistler is not capable of competing without a major development program. There the only people it has to worry about are the same old Ariane and Proton, who I don't see adapting very much whether or not RpK is also a player. Of course, GTO payloads are difficult to launch on a fully reusable vehicle, so having an expendable stage is not such a burden there.

    Will SpaceX flirt with second-stage reuse? Undoubtedly. Will it actually do it? I don't think so, not for Falcon 9. The result is not very competitive in either the LEO or GEO markets. For GEO a bigger rocket is wanted; for LEO a smaller one is more economical.

    Musk has a really strong ability to convince people to go along with him. Especially if the market proves as strong as it did historically, I think he could very well get support, particularly if they begin the "SFR" program earlier as they realize Falcon 9 isn't really suited to second-stage reusability but at the same time they can't just move straight on to Mars. An interim step, as it were.
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  12. IncongruousGoat Armchair Rocket Scientist

    Joined:
    May 27, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    There's been a lot of talk about Kistler stealing payloads and business from SpaceX, but after taking a look at what, exactly, SpaceX was launching up through the end of 2016, it's not really the case. I count precisely four primary payloads on SpaceX's manifest that could be launched on K-1 (CASSIOPE, Orbcomm-OG2-1, Orbcomm-OG2-2, and Jason-3), and one of them was contracted to SpaceX back in 2005 and, in the end, launched at an 80% discount (CASSIOPE). For 2017 onward, it's been long enough that one or both of the companies will have developed new non-OTL hardware, and the question of who's poaching launches from who isn't as easy to answer with the information available right now.
     
    Obi wan Kenobi and Dlg123 like this.
  13. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canterlot
    Well, Iridium NEXT launches didn't start until 2017, but it was contracted out in 2010. That's literally the kind of payload K-1 was designed to launch, so RpK has at least some chance of snagging that contract instead of SpaceX--it's still six months in the future from the most recent update. If nothing else, Iridium might split launches between Kistler and SpaceX as a risk-reduction strategy.
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  14. IncongruousGoat Armchair Rocket Scientist

    Joined:
    May 27, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    Launching using Falcon 9 v1.0 might be cheaper for Iridium than K-1, interestingly enough. K-1 can only launch 3 Iridium-NEXT satellites at a time due to payload and volume constraints. At an optimistic $17 million per launch (and I think the figure is closer to $20 million), this comes out to $5.67 million per satellite for launch. Compare this to Falcon 9 v1.0, which can launch 10 Iridium satellites at a time for $54.5 million, which comes out to $5.45 million per satellite. Falcon 9 not having flown much at all isn't an obstacle either, since the constellation won't be launching until 2017 anyways. That said, I think they'll split launches between the two for risk-reduction. It would line up with what Iridium did for the first constellation, where they split launches between 4 different launcher families (Delta II, Proton-K, Rokot, and Long March 2C).
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    Dlg123 likes this.
  15. LordandsaviorKloka Son of Gondor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2017
    Location:
    middle of New York
    It’s 2009. How are you going to butterfly away the gap,short of ASBs adding 25 missions to the shuttle schedule?
     
    Dlg123 likes this.
  16. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Location:
    Halfway to Anywhere
    I'll point out again that $56.5 million is the low end of F9 costs. We know what Iridium launches cost: the actual Iridium contract was for $492 million when awarded, for 70 satellites. The final launch cost for 75 satellites has been pretty close to that same cost, with the discounts SpaceX offered them for accepting reuse pretty much cancelling out the launch of two satellites originally planned for Dnepr and 3 more orbital spares for good measure. That's a cost per satellite of $7.02 million in 2010, and a delivered cost per satellite of $6.56 million. In the end, the differences between the launch cost are pretty negligible compared to another benefit of dual providers: ensuring a better chance you get the constellation up on time. Originally, the launches were to have happened between 2015 and 2017. That ended up happening in the two year period between Jan 2017 and Jan 2019--about a year and a half to two years behind schedule. If splitting the launches between F9 and K-1 can help keep to the early end of the launch range, that generates years worth of additional revenue.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    Dlg123 and IncongruousGoat like this.
  17. IncongruousGoat Armchair Rocket Scientist

    Joined:
    May 27, 2018
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    This is a good point, but I was also being optimistic with Kistler's pricing. As has been mentioned previously, Kistler is in many ways an OldSpace company, and I expect that their actual contracted prices differ from their published prices as much as SpaceX's do, for many of the same reasons (extra handling costs, range considerations, additional services, etc.). Both are still better than ULA, who at this point didn't have a published price, period.

    In any case, my point was that we shouldn't just write off Iridium-NEXT to being launched on K-1.

    EDIT: But I'll remember to keep this in mind the next time I go to do a cost comparison
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    Dlg123 likes this.
  18. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Location:
    Canterlot
    Well, I only wanted to point out that K-1 is capable of launching Iridium satellites--it's why I said "There's a chance" and not "Oh, Kistler is totally nabbing this one instead". It just seemed like a significant miss from your list, even if the actual launches didn't fall in your window.
     
    Dlg123 and IncongruousGoat like this.
  19. TimothyC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Easy. As late as mid 2010, United Space Alliance was proposing, as a part of CCDev2 to fly out the remaining orbiter hardware life over 10 missions (one each in 2012 and 2013, and two per year from 2014 through 2017). These ten missions would 'close the gap' until some other crew vehicle came online (be it commercial or Orion). All of the hardware (solid motor segments, ETs, spares, ect) would be procured by the end of 2015, and stored. By only flying ten missions they could avoid any OMDPs. Crew training would be reduced to flying the same few astronauts over the missions, and simulator time. It would have been a fixed-price contract at ~$1500 million. Mission architecture would be frozen, as all flights would have been MLPM flights with the CoG of the payload inside a rather limited range, simplifying mission planning. Shuttle EVA training would be limited to contingency ops (such as closing the doors). In the end, it was not selected. While I can't find the data on this proposal online directly, the info I have comes from Jenkins III-483 to III-487.

    Edit: The other option is the RpK crew vehicle I posted an image of earlier.

    Edit 2: When it comes time to look at CRS-2 however, the numbers are a bit crazy. The "Operational recurring cost per actual kg of cargo delivered to the ISS" for SpaceX is, as of 2017, $89,000. Even if we triple the 150% number (IE $30 million per flight) of Kistler, the cost per kilo is still about a third of the SpaceX number.

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20170008895.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    Dlg123 likes this.
  20. RanulfC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2014
    TimothyC wrote:
    Yep that looked familiar :)
    https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-an-alternate-key.444836/page-2#post-17614068

    By “take” do you mean have a version where the “Crew Space” from the XV is installed in an “extended, extended” payload module? Because it’s a wee bit shy more than just “6-inches’ to fitting the actual CV.

    As for the K1 “competing” with the F9 other than some LEO payloads and NASA COTS contracts there’s no real area of ‘competition’ between the two. With a fully reusable K1 flying quite a bit before they get an even semi-intact F9 first stage back, SpaceX will still have shown the overall ‘cost’ of spaceflight can be brought lower. One could hope that they might take some ‘lessons’ from Kistler but it’s not a given. Since the Falcon-9 design (and attempted recovery system) is already built and pretty ready for flight any changes to give a chance for success through flight 5 (last V1.0 booster) is unlikely. It’s not like SpaceX was not aware of the need for a controlled, stable entry to have the booster survive to reach parachute deployment. They were (rightly) more worried at this point in proving the basic design and flight systems. Recovery had always been planned as a ‘bonus’ for the early flights and flights 1-5 gave enough aerodynamic and reentry data to show that added control systems were needed to have the booster survive reentry. F9-V1.1 provided these systems though I will point out that before the installation of the grid fins the RCS wasn’t enough for fine control to counter issues such as the Flight 6 roll.

    In the end SpaceX was moving away from parachutes less because they were not effective, (they would have been capable had the booster survived to a place where they could be deployed properly) but there were large concerns over how much damage the booster would take due to their placement and how the landing was planned. The success of the K1 will only highlight these questions and issues as due to the way the F9-V1.0 landing was to take place: The parachutes would have deployed from the interstage once the booster had ‘stabilized’ in free-fall with and ‘engine down’ positioning so that the booster would impact the water engine first, (which was highly expected to damage the engine bell if not the entire engine) and after which the booster would fall over damaging or destroying the booster structure. (Which happened after the ‘successfully’ ocean landed V1.1 boosters later on) While the engine damage could possibly be avoided by a last minute short ‘retrofire’ this would not solve the toppling problem.

    IncongruousGoat wrote:
    Somewhat but they are ‘stuck’ with the V1.0 till they can design and build the V1.1. In general they are going to be ‘behind’ the curve here and it will be rather more obvious TTL than OTL.

    The design was more aerodynamic and had better RCS as well even before the inclusion of the grid-fins. They needed to have the V1.0 stages fail to really understand this. (Arguably they should NOT have needed it since the information was/is widely available but...)

    Elon had already been hinting at parachutes and a water landing being an ‘interim’ system at best. As noted above there are some real issues facing the Falcon-9 doing that regularly. Finding a way to recover the booster “intact and dry” was a major concern in reducing the turn-around time between launches so it’s likely SpaceX still goes with propulsive, dry land landing. The K1 will prove a good example of ‘boost-back’ for RTLS as well.

    Of course what IS going to be a ‘problem’ for SpaceX is that their “learning curve” takes place during 9 flights over 4 years and assuming a similar schedule for the K1 it is highly likely that their “flight” program has the majority of those flights ending in BOTH stages being recovered each flight. Further, (and this IS actually important enough to the capabilities of the K1 versus any other launch vehicle even the Shuttle, enough so I’d expect RpK to actually schedule and RUN just such a test) the K1 was designed with and has fully intact abort recovery which the F9 does not nor does any ‘expendable’ booster. So I would fully expect that one of those ‘launches’ will see the K1 brought out to the pad with a payload bay full of breakable glass, eggs and even a few ‘animal’ passengers who will be ‘launched’ off the pad only to have the main engines ‘fail’ shortly thereafter and the second stage rocket away with full recovery of both stages. And a showcase of none of the item in the payload bay being broken or killed.

    Actually it may be FAR more likely that RpK WILL get certified very early on compared to OTL SpaceX. After all NASA OTL gave them $135million under the Space Launch Initiative Program in 2001, including a launch contract for unspecified “instrument” tests which if read correctly “promised” NASA would pay to fully finish the K1 and flight test it. (Later dropped) Followed by the support announcement in 2004 and it was obvious that a large majority of NASA management was ‘rooting’ for Kistler and the K1 despite the odds. There is quite a bit of circumstantial but valid evidence that NASA TTL may very well greenlight K1 operations and payloads after only a few flights.

    And as TimothyC notes it was very much designed with maintenance and ease of refurbishment in mind in an already rather conservative design.

    But by the same token lowering the cost to LEO, (which arguably the K1 is doing even though it will have some expensive initial costs) actually lowers the cost to get to Mars and this has always been the achillies heal of Musk’s “Mars Direct-ish” ambitions. OTL the very fact that Musk/SpaceX “appears” to be alone as front-runners, (yes that’s in ‘quotes’ because it IS appearance) has given them a huge amount of leeway and credibility they won’t have TTL. Including the basic concept of little or no orbital infrastructure or capability build up and requiring heavy lift assets.

    Well Musk will continue to fund the end-goal as long as he can and probably like OTL he’ll have other interests as well. He may need to put more effort into some of them to back up SpaceX. On the plus side this may mean some of the many “marginal” projects that have expressed ‘interest” in using SpaceX for launch services for things like “Mars One” will be more pressured into “put-up-or-shut-up” on funding. (Or at least have to offer a realistic plan)

    No that doesn’t parse actually. You’re going to see a lot of those ‘partners’ finding ways to reduce costs and/or load share just as most aerospace companies are doing today due to SpaceX’s business model. It’s neither impossible nor unlikely that Kistler will change as well and both innovation and R&D were part of the original business and unlikely to fade away. Again the big paradigm ‘change’ TTL is the simple fact that SpaceX is clearly not always “right” in the way they do things as they appear in OTL.

    The K1 is not capable of those payload but then again it IS the “K1” which was specifically designed for servicing a LEO market. K2, K3, etc were/are in there someplace but the main point was to prove full reusability and recovery-and-refurbishment timelines. Another thing to worry SpaceX IS that the K1 was a VERY conservative design, and it is now a “proven” conservative design which means it is a LOT easier to convince investors that with marginal and/or audacious changes vastly more can be accomplished. How tough would it be to take the LAP and double its size? Pretty straight forward AND unlike the Falcon the K1 can actually accept boosters if you want to go that route. Similar with the OV though you get into having to reentry more like a lifting body than ballistic the parallels between the OV and XV-CV are obvious. I point out below that the supposed ‘disadvantages’ of using multiple propellants in an LV are not as bad as some would suggest as long as you don’t fall for the hydrogen hype.

    Now OTL they never proved it but assuming it’s no harder than what SpaceX is doing, (and arguably given the design used likely much easier) Kistler can easily have a flight available rate two to three times that of SpaceX which actually makes a huge difference. Specifically since we’ve been told they will have a second LV ready in a few months. Arguably this means that the K1 can “do” any mission that SpaceX can do at around twice the cost of any ‘single’ launch, (the cost is closer to about 1.5 to 1.75 due to cost sharing of the launch costs) and that’s before anyone raises the obvious utility of a “Kistler Space Tug” or SEP satellite hauler. What makes it more likely is the fact they can be very ‘near-term’ since Kistler has a ‘proven’ system and fairly (for a rocket) rapid turnaround time.

    The biggest way the K1 can compete with the Falcon-9 is not head to head but by gradually shutting them out of the LEO market though I doubt it would come to that.

    I’d keep in mind that “OldSpace” may be a bit slow but they are FAR from stupid and they have longer histories and deeper pockets than “NewSpace” does. That they ARE slow to react is a blessing for NewSpace but it doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t react eventually.

    In General I’ll note that “Constellation” IS dead but neither the K1 or F9 have anything to do with it. COTs in general does since it now “allows” NASA to buy rides on “private” rockets to deliver people and cargo to the ISS which was ‘unserviceable’ by ARES-V or the general Constellation architecture, (just as Griffen planned) and since Constellation was specifically aimed at BLEO work, (which Congress was balking at) by 2009 it was clear that a new focus was needed for NASA and the upcoming “Space Launch System” would fill that bill. From the Congressional point-of-view it’s perfect as it never has to actually fly to have money spent on it. In fact it’s better if it does not in fact fly. “Post” Constellation was never about capability or practicality and ‘reusability’ was never a considered factor. THE main and only points was to keep ‘something’ going in the proper districts and ensure that neither COTs nor the ISS interfered with or effect that ongoing ‘something.

    As an aside on “multi-propellant” launch vehicles I’ll note it isn’t all THAT difficult to design and build them. While as designed SpaceX couldn’t use a methalox stage on the F9 due to the size of the Raptor they’re actually designing smaller versions so the only argument for not doing so it the one they are using OTL which is that the F9 is an ‘interim’ vehicle they plan on tossing once they have a version of the BFR/S anyway. The other issue is the assumption of using liquid hydrogen, (for performance obviously) which in fact DOES significantly increase cost and complexity so much so that the Delta-IV (arguably a single liquid propulsion LV) is not unexpectedly the most expensive LV on the market :)

    I’ll toss out that in my general reading on the subject that if one could adapt the VacMerlin to run on LOX and cryo-cooled, (LOX temperatures) propane requires no tankage or upper stage changes, (lengthening helps but not needed) but performs over 80% better than kerolox. Given the Merlin’s design, (pintle injector specifically) adaption should be rather straight-forward and payload performance greatly enhanced. The overall impact in cost and complexity is absolutely minimal but zero interest. Oh you can make it on Mars and it stores vastly better than methane but don’t tell the Zubrin fans :)

    E of pi wrote:
    Which means my comment will be late as usual. Well there’s something to be said for consistency no?

    LordandsaviorKloka wrote:
    You have an obvious fully reusable LV that, (needs to be demonstrated but that’s actually pretty easy, but for manned missions the question is getting the crew away from a malfunctioning vehicle, can the K1 OV do that?) has all aspect intact abort capability. It’s hard to wrap ones mind around but this is a VERY big deal regarding manned access to LEO and it alone opens up a HUGE amount of suggested operations and markets that something like the Falcon-9/Dragon and/or Shuttle do not. (Not a dig but abort capable and intact abort capable by LV design ARE different) Depending on how it’s designed a ‘crew’ OV can carry between 4 to 6 without much redesign. If you’re willing to do the redesign, (and/or improve either or both LAP/OV performance) you can probably hit 8 or more in honest-to-God “airliner” safety. Again look at how much NASA OTL was willing to bend over backwards to keep Kistler in the game and where they could pretty easily go to NOT buy seats from the Russians. Lastly it is obviously NOT competing with SLS but IS addressing Congressional concerns for support of the ISS. How ‘fast’ could things get done if NASA is obviously more ‘helpful’ than hindering? To paraphrase “T/Space”:

    Semper Audacem!

    Randy
     
Loading...