Catching a rocket

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Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2023 12:53 pm

Re: Catching a rocket

Post by Wrenn »

Loki wrote: Mon Jul 01, 2024 8:49 pm On a planet where any number of countries and companies now routinely put cargo into space
Don't quote me on this number but I believe that in 2023 SpaceX launched over 90% of all the worlds cargo to orbit. Admitedly a lot of that was Starlink but still, I think they got this launch thing figured out.
SpaceX has taken 4 flights to barely get a barely controlled empty vessel there with zero fuel reserves and has discovered that their ship can't safely de-orbit.
SpaceX operates differently to traditional rocket companies which I think confuses people and ends with headlines like "SpaceX Rocket explodes and fails miserably".

Don't think of this or any of the previous launches as attempts to complete a commercial mission. These are scientific experiments designed to test ideas and gather data, just done on a much larger scale than we see from other rocket companies. A traditional company frontloads effort and expense at the start so when you finally see a launch they have spent 10 years doing exhaustive testing and design reviews. SpaceX prefers to starts launches ASAP. I mean, for a ridiculous example, Starhopper, the first prototype of Starship related stuff, was built in a paddock by welders from a water tower construction company!

They will launch while the rockets is still being designed to get as much data as early on as they can. They iterate rapidly. Between launch 4 and launch 5 of Starship they will be making over 1000 changes to the rocket design. They are not expecting to do commercial launches in 2024. All launches this year at least are to help improve the design.

In flight 4 they launched with old hardware, knowing that the forward flaps had potential to collect plasma pockets and suffer damage. They have already redesigned the flaps for future hardware but they launched this one anyway because its not intended to succeed, its purpose is to gather data. The more critical failure points they can find as early as possible the better, and there are many fail points you dont find until you launch a bunch as we saw with Shuttle.
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2023 6:04 pm

Re: Catching a rocket

Post by Loki »

At a billion a shot I'm not buying the "SpaceX does it differently, rapid prototyping donchaknow".

At a billion a shot just to discover the next fail point i call it incompetence. Most likely not coming from the engineers.

And I'm dead sick of the "reusability" argument as it appears it is significantly more expensive to reuse SpaceX boosters than it is to make new ones. Musk is so efficient and cost effective i suspect the USA can't afford him any more.

Hopefully they get a useable vehicle that suits their needs out of all this.
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