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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 6:28 am 
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SpaceX launched the Zuma ”mystery payload” but it was lost. Although no official comment is forthcoming so far due to the sensitive nature of the payload it appears - based on leaks - that the payload failed to separate from the second stage once the fairing had opened.
Northrop Grumman provided its own payload adaptor for this mission so it remains unclear whether it was a SpaceX or NG hardware failure.

The payload is cautiously described as a ”spy satellite” and ”possibly costed billions of dollars”.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:38 am 
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Which I am uncertain about, since "payload lost" is the perfect descriptor for a fully functional spy satellite.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:32 am 
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KDahm wrote:
Which I am uncertain about, since "payload lost" is the perfect descriptor for a fully functional spy satellite.

Funny, that was the first idea that popped into my Single malt marinated 20th century Neanderthal mind.
You might want to seek help?
:lol: :lol: :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 9:37 am 
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The following statement is from Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX:

“For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.

“Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight. We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks.”


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:56 pm 
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Someone’s come up with an alternate hypothesis. Conspiracy theory perhaps but a bit interesting.

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valuearb 15 hours ago | parent | favorite | on: SpaceX payload code-named Zuma failed to reach orb...

"Legit conspiracy theory time. How do you put a satellite in orbit without anyone knowing about it? You hide it with another satellite!
Apparently, during the first launch window for Zuma back on November 15, a secretive US satellite tracked as "USA-276" was due to fly directly overhead under conditions ideal for a rendezvous. USA-276 itself is secretive and unusual, having passed as close as four miles from the ISS. It seems like the NRO (or whoever actually built it) has a lot of confidence in their control over that satellite and its maneuverability.
The rescheduled launch window for Zuma seemed to rule out a rendezvous with USA-276; the launch inclination was expected to be similar, but the satellite wouldn't be passing overhead at the time. However, several days of launch delays coincidentally moved Zuma's launch window closer and closer to lining up with USA-276's orbit. The earlier launch windows could have been decoys, intended to suggest a willingness to launch away from USA-276 when it remained their goal the whole time.
What are the reasons for this? Well, if USA-276 is meant to be a highly maneuverable satellite, it could potentially burn through fuel quickly. Testing the ability to refuel an unmanned spy satellite would be highly valuable. If you made the rendezvous quickly, you could claim your refueling drone was "lost" and it would be hard to disprove. We're not yet at the point that civilians can track the exact location of every satellite at all times without government help (hell, we can still lose highly advanced jumbo jets in the middle of the ocean). Once the refueling drone is docked with USA-276, they would be tracked as a single object in orbit.
Why claim it's lost, then? To try to hide that you have this ability. That's especially relevant when you consider the repeated close passes USA-276 has made to the ISS. It seems like a satellite meant to surveil other satellites, which would be more valuable if it had ample fuel and could make orbital changes more frequently. You'd only get one real shot at it before the element of surprise is lost, but if you had a maneuverable satellite with ample fuel on board, you could go take close-up photos of a few Russian satellites before they realized what you were doing. Hell, maybe even get close enough to grab one and deorbit it."

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:31 pm 
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Micael wrote:
Someone’s come up with an alternate hypothesis. Conspiracy theory perhaps but a bit interesting.

Quote:
Snip

Well, given the cost of launching something, it would have to be a fairly expensive satellite to justify refueling it instead of simply launching a new version. Cameras and antennas are expensive, but not that expensive.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:54 pm 
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KDahm wrote:
Micael wrote:
Someone’s come up with an alternate hypothesis. Conspiracy theory perhaps but a bit interesting.

Quote:
Snip

Well, given the cost of launching something, it would have to be a fairly expensive satellite to justify refueling it instead of simply launching a new version. Cameras and antennas are expensive, but not that expensive.

There was talk years ago of a class of ”spy satellites” more advanced than the normal imaging ones such as the Keyhole series, these being referred to as ”Misty”, ”Misty 2” and so on. As I recall it there was some huff-huff in congress about the cost which was in the 9 billion range (9.5 or something like that).
If we assume that the costs have gone up then perhaps we’re looking at. 10+ billion dollar satellite, which could make it worth it. Hypothetically.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:28 am 
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KDahm wrote:
Micael wrote:
Someone’s come up with an alternate hypothesis. Conspiracy theory perhaps but a bit interesting.

Quote:
Snip

Well, given the cost of launching something, it would have to be a fairly expensive satellite to justify refueling it instead of simply launching a new version. Cameras and antennas are expensive, but not that expensive.

Recon-grade cameras are that expensive. The estimated cost for a single KH-11 is about $3 billion. Falcon 9 missions are, what, $100 million or so? If the launch cost itself is low enough, servicing makes a lot more sense than replacing the satellite. Not only is the servicing cheaper, but you also save because you don't have to buy a bunch of spare satellites which you might not use.

Re the idea of rendezvousing before anyone notices, this actually gives them an opportunity to pull a bait-and-switch. Refuel, leave the empty tank where it was, then fly off while everyone is looking at the refueler. Won't work forever, but it might buy you a couple of weeks.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:37 am 
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That's another bit of fun SpaceX is causing. It used to be even with extremely expensive payloads launch costs were a substantial fraction of the overall cost. Now with base prices below 100 million, it's gonna go crazy. Instead of spending thousands on engineering a strut to shave a few vital ounces, you just use a piece of angle or the certified equivalent. The cost of failure drops as well, so it might be worth saving enough you could buy two sats and launches and still be below the old cost of one. Prpbably not for a billion dollar spy sat, but for most work...spending the dough on a good sat and making it refillable like was mentioned here will also be more appealing.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:10 pm 
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Kunkmiester wrote:
That's another bit of fun SpaceX is causing. It used to be even with extremely expensive payloads launch costs were a substantial fraction of the overall cost. Now with base prices below 100 million, it's gonna go crazy. Instead of spending thousands on engineering a strut to shave a few vital ounces, you just use a piece of angle or the certified equivalent. The cost of failure drops as well, so it might be worth saving enough you could buy two sats and launches and still be below the old cost of one. Prpbably not for a billion dollar spy sat, but for most work...spending the dough on a good sat and making it refillable like was mentioned here will also be more appealing.

You're getting a little bit carried away here. Yes, cheaper launch costs do open up new options. But the engineering culture is still going to be very focused on the old way, and $100 million is not small change. In terms of cost/lb (from wiki numbers) Falcon 9 FT is basically the same as Proton-M. The only customer who has seen a dramatic fall in launch costs is the US government, who couldn't use Proton-M. (Well, mostly. You know what I mean.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:52 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
Kunkmiester wrote:
That's another bit of fun SpaceX is causing. It used to be even with extremely expensive payloads launch costs were a substantial fraction of the overall cost. Now with base prices below 100 million, it's gonna go crazy. Instead of spending thousands on engineering a strut to shave a few vital ounces, you just use a piece of angle or the certified equivalent. The cost of failure drops as well, so it might be worth saving enough you could buy two sats and launches and still be below the old cost of one. Prpbably not for a billion dollar spy sat, but for most work...spending the dough on a good sat and making it refillable like was mentioned here will also be more appealing.

You're getting a little bit carried away here. Yes, cheaper launch costs do open up new options. But the engineering culture is still going to be very focused on the old way, and $100 million is not small change. In terms of cost/lb (from wiki numbers) Falcon 9 FT is basically the same as Proton-M. The only customer who has seen a dramatic fall in launch costs is the US government, who couldn't use Proton-M. (Well, mostly. You know what I mean.)


The Proton-M has about double the launch insurance costs compared to the F9. So if you have a $200M Satellite you will pay a extra $10M per launch for the extra insurance.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/10/18/protons-competitiveness-threatened-high-insurance-costs/

The reliability issues with the Proton have really hurt it in the Commercial market side.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:23 am 
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brovane wrote:
ByronC wrote:
Kunkmiester wrote:
That's another bit of fun SpaceX is causing. It used to be even with extremely expensive payloads launch costs were a substantial fraction of the overall cost. Now with base prices below 100 million, it's gonna go crazy. Instead of spending thousands on engineering a strut to shave a few vital ounces, you just use a piece of angle or the certified equivalent. The cost of failure drops as well, so it might be worth saving enough you could buy two sats and launches and still be below the old cost of one. Prpbably not for a billion dollar spy sat, but for most work...spending the dough on a good sat and making it refillable like was mentioned here will also be more appealing.

You're getting a little bit carried away here. Yes, cheaper launch costs do open up new options. But the engineering culture is still going to be very focused on the old way, and $100 million is not small change. In terms of cost/lb (from wiki numbers) Falcon 9 FT is basically the same as Proton-M. The only customer who has seen a dramatic fall in launch costs is the US government, who couldn't use Proton-M. (Well, mostly. You know what I mean.)


The Proton-M has about double the launch insurance costs compared to the F9. So if you have a $200M Satellite you will pay a extra $10M per launch for the extra insurance.

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/10/18/protons-competitiveness-threatened-high-insurance-costs/

The reliability issues with the Proton have really hurt it in the Commercial market side.

That doesn't really disprove my point. If you're flying cheap missions, then the insurance costs go down, and Russian rockets have been in the same ballpark as SpaceX since SpaceX was set up. Particularly as Proton's insurance wasn't that high 5 years ago.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:06 am 
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It seems like the big change will come if SpaceX manages to get BFR up and running as envisioned.
That should bring down launch costs notably, even for large/heavy items.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:29 pm 
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the static test fire of the Falcon Heavy is been delayed, currently rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon (1/20/2018).

if they're able to place the roadster in a Mars orbit do you think it'd be possible for a later mission to recover it and land it on Mars? as an electric car it wouldn't have any issue driving on mars other than the lack of decent off-road capability.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:03 pm 
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Marko Dash wrote:
if they're able to place the roadster in a Mars orbit do you think it'd be possible for a later mission to recover it and land it on Mars? as an electric car it wouldn't have any issue driving on mars other than the lack of decent off-road capability.

IIRC it's not supposed to go into Mars orbit - it's supposed to pass Mars on its way into heliocentric orbit.

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