Dawn of the Era of Reusable Rockets !!!

Us Texans not only can boast of making the U.S.A. energy independent for the first time in seven decades , we also are home to SpaceX launches in Boca Chica, and Blue Origin launches in Van Horn, Texas (Culberson County, West Texas ).

Wed. Dec. 11 at 9:00 AM CST / 15:00 UTC, a Blue Origin, New Shepard launch is scheduled, WATCH IT AT BLUEORIGIN.COM AND BE A PART OF THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA OF REUSABLE ROCKETS !!!

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12 thoughts on “Dawn of the Era of Reusable Rockets !!!”

  1. JJ:
    but rockets aren’t reusable?

    Nope.  Historically, rockets were either disposable fireworks or, in military applications, from the days of the ancient Chinese and Congreve to the V-2 and intercontinental ballistic missiles and space launchers, considered a kind of artillery.  The V-2 was sold to the Nazi military as an alternative to ultra-long range artillery which would be less expensive, have twice the range with comparable accuracy, and be more flexible than monster guns such as the Paris Gun of World War I.  (Walter Dornberger’s book, V-2, is very clear about this, and observes that the V-2 actually met all the requirements it promised.  It wasn’t a super-weapon to end the war, but that’s not what it was pitched as, but a propaganda fantasy of the Nazi leadership as collapse drew near.)

    Just as you don’t re-use an artillery projectile, rockets were not re-used.  Since making an effective long-range missile is a dodgy business, a very high priority is reducing weight, and making things expendable lets you build them lighter, since they don’t need to withstand the stresses of re-entering the atmosphere, carry fuel to land, or require heavy landing hardware which does not contribute to the primary mission.

    Still, it has been obvious to everybody since the 1950s that if you want to lower the cost of transportation to space, throwing away the ship every time is an insane way to go.  What would a one-way ticket on a transatlantic flight cost if they threw away the airliner after every flight?  Von Braun’s popular articles in Collier’s in the early 1950s already envisioned reusable shuttles for transportation to orbit.

    The U.S. Space Shuttle was pitched as a “reusable spacecraft”, but it was such a marginal design crippled by cost-cutting that it ended up costing more than expendable boosters.  It was not so much reusable as “rebuildable”, with months of work required refurbishing the orbiters between flights.  It still discarded its External Tank on every flight, which was about as big as a 747.

    Reusable concepts had been studied and even flown (for example, the DC-X in the early 1990s), but it wasn’t until SpaceX and Blue Origin took a pragmatic, “get it done” engineering approach to the problem that genuine, practical reusability was demonstrated.  What’s interesting is that neither company required any real breakthrough technology.  The kind of powered landing performed by Falcon 9 and New Shepard could have been done at any time after the full deployment of the GPS constellation in 1995.  The reality is that NASA could never have done such a project because they weren’t willing to fail as many times as SpaceX to get it right (during the teething phase of recovering the first stages, Elon Musk said as kerboom followed kerboom, “At least we’re getting bigger parts back each time”), and no legacy aerospace contractor would invest the money to develop it without being paid by NASA or the Pentagon.

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  2. ctlaw:
    once SpaceX is approved to launch crew missions, will they bifurcate: new launch hardware for crew missions; and reused hardware for cargo, satellites, etc.?

    I don’t know what the current Commercial Crew agreement states regarding re-use of Falcon 9 boosters.  According to this August, 2018 Teslarati article, SpaceX have stated that they do not intend to re-use Crew Dragon capsules for crewed missions.  However, since it is expected that they will transition to using the Crew Dragon model of spacecraft (reconfigured for cargo) during the CRS-2 contract, it is likely they will recycle used crew spacecraft into cargo craft which they can subsequently launch several times.

    Interestingly, under the original CRS contract, NASA retained the right to request all-new flight hardware (Falcon 9 and Dragon) for cargo resupply missions.  This was subsequently relaxed, and the CRS-13 mission in December, 2017 was flown with a reused booster and now reuse of both boosters and cargo Dragon spacecraft is routine.

    The CRS-2 contract allows providers (Boeing and SpaceX) to propose re-use of capsules, and Boeing (whose Starliner CST-100 thumps down on land with airbags) explicitly plans to re-fly their capsules up to ten times.

    As Rand Simberg pointed out when SpaceX started recovering Falcon 9 first stages, it’s not implausible that eventually launch customers will ask for a discount for flying on unproven launchers as opposed to flight-tested hardware.

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  3. Now that Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Elon Musk (SpaceX), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic, Arizona) have done the “heavy lifting” of developing the technology (and spending billions of dollars in the process), it seems only a matter of time before competitors jump in. The “SPACE RACE” is back on !

    Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk , and Richard Branson are true visionaries, God bless them.

    My opinion for what happens next BESIDES MORE COMPETITION FROM PLACES WE NEVER IMAGINED, will be a head fake to Mars, a stutter step toward the Moon, THEN DIRECT MISSIONS TO ASTEROIDS FOR MINING AND COLONY BUILDING. http://www.asterank.com/ TRULY EXCITING TIMES !!!

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  4. Did they reschedule the launch? It is an hour to 15:00 UTC but the web site has it will be live in 112 minutes which will be closer to 16:00 UTC.

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  5. It’s not reusable, but another frontier in the New Space era is low-cost access to space for small satellites (CubeSats and similar architectures) via piggy-back launches on other missions, dedicated launches with a large number of payloads, and emerging “smallsat” launchers such as Rocket Lab’s Electron, which just completed its 9th consecutive successful orbital launch last week, and will be attempting to introduce recovery of the first stage via a parachute and mid-air snag on future missions.

    Earlier today, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched the 48th successful mission of their Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), carrying a radar imaging satellite as the primary payload with nine piggy-back payloads.  Here is a video of the launch, with lift-off around 24:00 and video of deployment the payloads starting at 40:00.

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  6. If you haven’t watched one of these launches LIVE, you miss the suspense … will the fog lift, are all systems go, etc., — these machine/systems/people ARE TRULY MODERN MIRACLES.

    Thank you John Walker for showing companies like Rocket Lab’s Electron, — from what I read they are setting up to launch in Virginia  — proof the competition is heating up !

    Who will be the first to mine/colonize an asteroid? http://www.asterank.com/

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