Spacex has twelfth successful launch and musings on reuse, refueling and geosynch orbits

SpaceX delivered another commercial communications satellite to orbit early Sunday, completing its second launch in just over a month for Hong Kong-based AsiaSat.

SpaceX confirmed the rocket deployed its payload as planned 32 minutes into the flight, earning the Falcon 9 a 12th successful flight in as many tries since 2010.

Because the launch was to a high orbit more than 20,000 miles up, the Falcon 9 booster did not have enough extra fuel for SpaceX to try flying it back to a soft ocean landing for recovery.

Goatguy noted that the not enough fuel for reuse from Geosync

Did not “have enough extra fuel” to fly back.

“I told you so” would be both childish and appropriate.

Really – I [Goatguy] think all the compromises that deal with returnable launch vehicles require “mass, mass, and more mass” – whether as with the space-shuttle that mass was a combination of high-durability titanium for the solid-rocket-boosters (which were both recoverable, and re-useable after substantial remanufacture), and the space-shuttles mass-invested-in-wings-and-heat-shield-tiles … or, if it is invested in heat-shields for the “wrong way pointed” engines as they come hurling through the atmosphere, firing to decelerate, requiring the mass of fuel to accomplish the braking maneuver.

Mass, is mass.

And the point there is, that the venerable (and let’s be honest: totally, completely awesome, technologically!) Space Shuttle supposedly couldn’t be made economical because its launch cost was too high, because it promise of fly, land, recondition, repeated cycle was too expensive, because things got damaged (those darn tiles) along the way back, and so on. And it required all that stuff because it was WAY more massive (as a return vehicle) because it had to house all the goodies, and a big arm, and a bunch of engines, and all the rest. Yet, we must assume that hundreds, if not thousands of simulations of mission, refueling, reconditioning, timing and costing were done; maybe there are arbitrary things in the design of a Space Program that aren’t left to the minimization or optimization of a mathematician’s integral calculus equations, but … I’m pretty sure that in the end, there are going to be some really significant problems that are as yet either unanticipated, or even more cynically, anticipated, but suppressed that will keep the “great dream” from coming to profitable, $1,000 per pound, delivered to LEO, pricing.

Nextbigfuture comment

There is the concept of fuel depots in low earth orbit. Reusable rockets could refuel in low earth orbit to go to Geosynch and back. So those users who are will to go cheaper to geosynch would use refueling or orbital tugs for final Geosynch placement.

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