Author Topic: Falcon Heavy Test Flight  (Read 10779 times)

Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #150 on: May 06, 2019, 08:07:06 AM »
The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

So 10% didn't. Were they stunts too?

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The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

They were developing a launch vehicle. It wasn't up to them to design and develop a payload. That's not what SpaceX is doing. Regardless of the payload, they still proved the launch vehicle, which was the point.
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Offline smartcooky

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #151 on: May 06, 2019, 08:14:37 AM »
The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

The fact remains that more than 1 in 3 have failed

The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

This claim is false; that has been explained to you multiple times. Why do you keep repeating it?

1. They offered free launches. No-one took them up on that. Its pretty hard to launch a meaningful payload if no-one wants to take you up on the offer?

2. They are developing the spacecraft. It is not the spacecraft developer's responsibility to go the extra mile and come up with a meaningful payload just to satisfy the narrow-minded and the humorless.

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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #152 on: May 06, 2019, 10:52:13 AM »
If they had launched it with a plain old mass simulator as a pure engineering flight, would that have been acceptable? Just disappointing? I get the feeling the objection is more with the spectacular 'stunt' than the lack of payload per se.
"There's this idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid. My arse! Bloke who was a professor of dentistry for forty years does NOT have a debate with some eejit who removes his teeth with string and a door!"  - Dara O'Briain

Offline Peter B

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #153 on: May 06, 2019, 11:09:56 AM »
Dalhousie

As I already posted at Reply #111:

= = = =

With the greatest of respect, perhaps it would be more illuminating to compare like with like. In the case of Falcon Heavy this means comparing it with other launchers which feature side-mounted boosters which are a significant proportion of the size of the first stage (or are common core boosters). Why so? Because of the additional problems such launches face when compared with single-stack rockets - stresses on the connections between the boosters and core stages during acceleration especially when they're operating at different thrust levels, separation mechanisms, and aerodynamic effects are just three which come to mind. So what were the payloads of the various FH equivalents:

Angara A5: mass simulator (success)
Ariane 5: live payload (failure)
Delta IV Heavy: boilerplate (failure)
Long March 5: unclear (success, although there were problems during launch)

Have I missed any? But even so, that's a far lower proportion of live payloads for this style of rocket, suggesting that first flights for these sorts of rockets are less attractive than they are for single-stack rockets. And, judging by the success rate, for good reason.

The trouble is you are not comparing like at like.  And you are being selective with data

I would humbly lay the same charge against you.

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First of all Long march 5 and Delta IV heavy were not failures.

First, please quote me where I said the LM5 was a failure.

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Unless you equate slight under performance while still achieving orbit to be failure.

Second, sure, the initial D5H launch got into orbit. But this article suggests the various payloads were not placed in anything near the orbits intended: https://spaceflightnow.com/delta/d310/050316rootcause.html

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That first burn of the Pratt & Whitney RL10 upper stage engine was supposed to...reach an initial parking orbit around Earth where a pair of university-built nanosatellites would be released into space...But even though the stage fired much longer than planned it still failed to reach a stable orbit, deploying the nanosats into a suborbital trajectory...

The [second] stage ran out of fuel about two-thirds of the way through the [circularisation] burn, leaving the instrumented satellite simulator payload -- the rocket's main cargo for this test flight -- with an orbit featuring a high point of 19,600 nautical miles (36,400 km), low point of 9,600 nautical miles (19,000 km) and inclination of 13.5 degrees. The orbit's low point was 10,000 miles off the target and inclination was 3.5 degrees higher than planned.

So instead of a circular 19,600nm orbit, it has a perigee of 9,600nm, and its orbital inclination is off by 3.5 degrees. How many clients would call either of those satellite outcomes a success, or even a "slight failure"?

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Secondly, of your four examples , only two are parallel boosters, Ariane 5 and Delta IV.  Angara 5 and LM5 both had four small strap-ons, a very different configuration.

Third, you are wrong about the size of the Angara 5 boosters. They are the same URM-1 rockets as the first stage of the Angara 5.

Fourth, you are quibbling about the size of the LM5 boosters. They are more than 85% of the mass of the LM5 first stage. In my post you quoted above, I used the phrase "...significant proportion of the size of the first stage..." for a reason.

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LM-7 also had 4 strap-ons, functional payloads, and was successful.

Yes, I'm happy to accept that. Thank you for pointing it out. That makes the list:

Angara A5: mass simulator (success)
Ariane 5: live payload (failure)
Delta IV Heavy: boilerplate (failure)
Long March 5: unclear (success, although there were problems during launch)
Long March 7: unclear (success)

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If we are going to consider small strap on boosters as significant then we could consider the fact that Atlas V has many versions with different numbers of small strap-ons.

Come on, those chaps are nowhere near the same size as the first stage they're bolted to. So no, I'm not considering them.

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If only large parallel boosters are comparable then the Space Shuttle and Titan variants IIIC/D/commerical, 34D and IV need to be thrown into the the pool. 

STS-1 - functional,crewed mission (success)
IIIC – boiler plate MOL and reflown Gemini (unmanned) – success (suborbital)

No. Its first launch was 18 months earlier than the MOL flight, with no payload recorded, and yes a success.

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IIID – KH-9 – success
III Commercial – two comsats – success
34D – two comsats – success
IV – missile detection – success

Oh, come on, you're trying to credit each Titan family as something completely new? That all of the knowledge gained from launching the members of earlier Titan families counted for nothing when launching the first member of a new family?

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1) Standard practice is to launch a useful payload on 1st launches. 
2) Most first launches are successful.
3) SpaceX had seven years to come up with one.  But they didn't.

If no one wanted to place a payload on top of the Falcon Heavy, what were they supposed to do? Steal a satellite?

How is this not an If I Ran The Zoo argument?
« Last Edit: May 06, 2019, 11:13:01 AM by Peter B »

Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #154 on: May 06, 2019, 03:58:40 PM »
1) Standard practice is to launch a useful payload on 1st launches.

The use of the term 'standard practice' suggests this is an industry guideline or somesuch. It isn't. There have been many first (and other) launches that were no more than engineering tests. SA-1, SA-5 and AS-201 spring to mind. SA-1 had dummy upper stages. SA-5 was simply a test flight of a live S-IV second stage, and AS-201 was just to look at how the liquid hydrogen behaved during orbital coast and restart. No payload as such on any of them. The first Falcon Heavy can be considered an engineering test of the rocket with some good PR attached. If SpaceX had refused a functional satellite launch just to do the PR I'd be more inclined to agree with your characterisation but they didn't. They had no takers for funtional payloads, so they stuck their own on. And in doing so they created some nice imagery. And now they've had someone who wanted to launch a satellite on their now proven hardware.

The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

Okay.  Fine.  For now, I'll accept your argument that the best they could come up with was a "stunt" with a car.  Totally meaningless PR.  No other value to the launch at all.  Pure fluff. 

So what?  Why would that be an issue?  Who would care?

Offline bknight

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #155 on: May 06, 2019, 04:24:14 PM »
"Why would that be an issue?"
Rather like I thought many posts ago.
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Offline Zakalwe

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #156 on: May 07, 2019, 04:58:44 AM »


How is this not an If I Ran The Zoo argument?


Exactly. I made the same point earlier in the thread.
Elon Musk seems to invoke strong feelings, both positive and negative, in people and those people seem to find all sorts of routes to express their emotions. To me, this is just another way of doing this.....denigrating the FH launch just because it wasn't "worthy" enough in their opinions.

Personally I thought that it was an epic way to have a laugh. It also had a side effect of getting masses of publicity. I expect that legions of future engineers will say that seeing Spaceman in the roadster with Earth's reflection mirrored in his faceplate and on the panels of the car was the spark that started them on their career path.

Not everything in life has to be worthy. Would we still be talking about the FH launch if all they did was send a block f concrete into some random orbit?  The world would be infinitely duller if people didn't do things just for a giggle every now and then.
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Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #157 on: May 07, 2019, 10:45:39 AM »


How is this not an If I Ran The Zoo argument?


Exactly. I made the same point earlier in the thread.
Elon Musk seems to invoke strong feelings, both positive and negative, in people and those people seem to find all sorts of routes to express their emotions. To me, this is just another way of doing this.....denigrating the FH launch just because it wasn't "worthy" enough in their opinions.

Personally I thought that it was an epic way to have a laugh. It also had a side effect of getting masses of publicity. I expect that legions of future engineers will say that seeing Spaceman in the roadster with Earth's reflection mirrored in his faceplate and on the panels of the car was the spark that started them on their career path.

Not everything in life has to be worthy. Would we still be talking about the FH launch if all they did was send a block f concrete into some random orbit?  The world would be infinitely duller if people didn't do things just for a giggle every now and then.

Beyond being an epic gag, this launch pushed the envelope and provided some vital engineering data.  This gave them a chance to demonstrate long coast capability on the US, which is vital for natsec launches.  They pushed the payload to an aphelion past Mars.  It wasn't just PR, although it made for a good PR opportunity. 

But following Dalhousie's argument to its logical conclusion, test flights with mass simulators (whimsical or not) are somehow ... bad, or a waste of money.  That the right course of action when introducing a new vehicle is to always fly with a live, multi-million dollar payload and trust that this launch won't regress towards the mean.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #158 on: May 13, 2019, 06:20:35 PM »
1) Standard practice is to launch a useful payload on 1st launches.

The use of the term 'standard practice' suggests this is an industry guideline or somesuch. It isn't. There have been many first (and other) launches that were no more than engineering tests. SA-1, SA-5 and AS-201 spring to mind. SA-1 had dummy upper stages. SA-5 was simply a test flight of a live S-IV second stage, and AS-201 was just to look at how the liquid hydrogen behaved during orbital coast and restart. No payload as such on any of them. The first Falcon Heavy can be considered an engineering test of the rocket with some good PR attached. If SpaceX had refused a functional satellite launch just to do the PR I'd be more inclined to agree with your characterisation but they didn't. They had no takers for funtional payloads, so they stuck their own on. And in doing so they created some nice imagery. And now they've had someone who wanted to launch a satellite on their now proven hardware.

The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

Okay.  Fine.  For now, I'll accept your argument that the best they could come up with was a "stunt" with a car.  Totally meaningless PR.  No other value to the launch at all.  Pure fluff. 

So what?  Why would that be an issue?  Who would care?

Why is it an issue? Because there are far too many people who think that this was the biggest thing since Apollo 11. Because there are too many people who swallow the false justification that first launches are risky for payloads.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #159 on: May 13, 2019, 06:23:21 PM »


How is this not an If I Ran The Zoo argument?


Exactly. I made the same point earlier in the thread.
Elon Musk seems to invoke strong feelings, both positive and negative, in people and those people seem to find all sorts of routes to express their emotions. To me, this is just another way of doing this.....denigrating the FH launch just because it wasn't "worthy" enough in their opinions.

Personally I thought that it was an epic way to have a laugh. It also had a side effect of getting masses of publicity. I expect that legions of future engineers will say that seeing Spaceman in the roadster with Earth's reflection mirrored in his faceplate and on the panels of the car was the spark that started them on their career path.

Not everything in life has to be worthy. Would we still be talking about the FH launch if all they did was send a block f concrete into some random orbit?  The world would be infinitely duller if people didn't do things just for a giggle every now and then.

Beyond being an epic gag, this launch pushed the envelope and provided some vital engineering data.  This gave them a chance to demonstrate long coast capability on the US, which is vital for natsec launches.  They pushed the payload to an aphelion past Mars.  It wasn't just PR, although it made for a good PR opportunity. 

But following Dalhousie's argument to its logical conclusion, test flights with mass simulators (whimsical or not) are somehow ... bad, or a waste of money.  That the right course of action when introducing a new vehicle is to always fly with a live, multi-million dollar payload and trust that this launch won't regress towards the mean.

Because, over the past 30 years, nine times out often, they have. Not counting sub-variants (some of which have carried extremely valuable payloads, like New Horizons).


Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #160 on: May 13, 2019, 08:23:15 PM »
1) Standard practice is to launch a useful payload on 1st launches.

The use of the term 'standard practice' suggests this is an industry guideline or somesuch. It isn't. There have been many first (and other) launches that were no more than engineering tests. SA-1, SA-5 and AS-201 spring to mind. SA-1 had dummy upper stages. SA-5 was simply a test flight of a live S-IV second stage, and AS-201 was just to look at how the liquid hydrogen behaved during orbital coast and restart. No payload as such on any of them. The first Falcon Heavy can be considered an engineering test of the rocket with some good PR attached. If SpaceX had refused a functional satellite launch just to do the PR I'd be more inclined to agree with your characterisation but they didn't. They had no takers for funtional payloads, so they stuck their own on. And in doing so they created some nice imagery. And now they've had someone who wanted to launch a satellite on their now proven hardware.

The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

Okay.  Fine.  For now, I'll accept your argument that the best they could come up with was a "stunt" with a car.  Totally meaningless PR.  No other value to the launch at all.  Pure fluff. 

So what?  Why would that be an issue?  Who would care?

Why is it an issue? Because there are far too many people who think that this was the biggest thing since Apollo 11. Because there are too many people who swallow the false justification that first launches are risky for payloads.

We have had nearly 50 years of false starts, empty promises and broken dreams, and finally, FINALLY someone is putting his money where his mouth is and really pushing towards BEO human space exploration, and is showing the world that he means what he says. You're damn skippy that launching a car beyond Mars orbit, a feat that captured the imagination of the world, is the biggest thing since Apollo 11.

The fact that it is, is not Musk's fault. It is the fault of those who were SUPPOSED to be getting us out of LEO failing to do it for nearly 50 years. I think that your ire is misplaced.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2019, 08:28:28 PM by AtomicDog »
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Offline smartcooky

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #161 on: May 14, 2019, 02:29:08 AM »
1) Standard practice is to launch a useful payload on 1st launches.

The use of the term 'standard practice' suggests this is an industry guideline or somesuch. It isn't. There have been many first (and other) launches that were no more than engineering tests. SA-1, SA-5 and AS-201 spring to mind. SA-1 had dummy upper stages. SA-5 was simply a test flight of a live S-IV second stage, and AS-201 was just to look at how the liquid hydrogen behaved during orbital coast and restart. No payload as such on any of them. The first Falcon Heavy can be considered an engineering test of the rocket with some good PR attached. If SpaceX had refused a functional satellite launch just to do the PR I'd be more inclined to agree with your characterisation but they didn't. They had no takers for funtional payloads, so they stuck their own on. And in doing so they created some nice imagery. And now they've had someone who wanted to launch a satellite on their now proven hardware.

The fact that 90% of first launches, not including variants, in the past 30 years, have carried meaningful payloads.

The fact remains that they had seven years to come up with some better than a stunt with a car.

Okay.  Fine.  For now, I'll accept your argument that the best they could come up with was a "stunt" with a car.  Totally meaningless PR.  No other value to the launch at all.  Pure fluff. 

So what?  Why would that be an issue?  Who would care?

Why is it an issue? Because there are far too many people who think that this was the biggest thing since Apollo 11. Because there are too many people who swallow the false justification that first launches are risky for payloads.

We have had nearly 50 years of false starts, empty promises and broken dreams, and finally, FINALLY someone is putting his money where his mouth is and really pushing towards BEO human space exploration, and is showing the world that he means what he says. You're damn skippy that launching a car beyond Mars orbit, a feat that captured the imagination of the world, is the biggest thing since Apollo 11.

The fact that it is, is not Musk's fault. It is the fault of those who were SUPPOSED to be getting us out of LEO failing to do it for nearly 50 years. I think that your ire is misplaced.



Amen to that



NASA and the US goverment had the chance to push on with Lunar exploration in 1972. If they had, there might well have been a permanent human presence on the Moon by the 1980's, with the first missions reaching Mars by the mid-1990s.

Instead, they chose to end it in favour of the dead-end that was STS.

Politics and pork got in the way of science and human space exploration in the 1970's. We  must not let that happen again, which is why private enterprise of the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin will be the way forward.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2019, 03:35:06 AM by smartcooky »
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Offline Jason Thompson

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #162 on: May 14, 2019, 04:58:43 AM »
Because there are too many people who swallow the false justification that first launches are risky for payloads.

This has been pointed out already, but in the case of the Falcon Heavy, those people 'swallowing it' were the people building the satellites who were swallowing it from the engineers at SpaceX who told them it was a risky launch to stick a satellite on. If the engineers building the thing tell me there's a good chance it will fail, why would I risk it? SpaceX offered a free launch on their new rocket despite the risk and no-one took them up on it. That surely is pretty much the end of this argument.
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Offline ka9q

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #163 on: May 14, 2019, 05:51:19 AM »
As I've said before, even I would probably not be interested in a free launch if it took me into a random, useless solar orbit. Low earth orbit, yes. Geostationary orbit, most definitely. Even a Mars-intersecting trajectory, though it would take considerably more effort to plan and develop (I know a German group that would jump at the opportunity). But not solar orbit far from any planet.

Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #164 on: May 14, 2019, 08:47:13 PM »
As I've said before, even I would probably not be interested in a free launch if it took me into a random, useless solar orbit. Low earth orbit, yes. Geostationary orbit, most definitely. Even a Mars-intersecting trajectory, though it would take considerably more effort to plan and develop (I know a German group that would jump at the opportunity). But not solar orbit far from any planet.

This is the objection I understand the least. 

If they had found a customer with a real payload, they would have put that payload in the customer’s desired orbit.  Why would they have done anything else?