8 thoughts on “Launch Range Tracking Improvements”

  1. I think another step would be to have standardized satellite buses, kinda like how you have standardized containers, the fact that you need to optimize each upper stage for specific payloads is a huge expense. It should be like the server rack market where you have 1U, 2U, etc and you can only use one of those standard sizes. I think it would also make it a lot easier to fit disparate payloads on the same satellite.

    1. AFAIK this has largely happened although by de-facto not by ISO at least for the big commercial GEO birds. Presently there are the Boeing-702 (formerly Hughes HS-xxx series) and Space Systems Loral SL-1300 and SSL-700 series platforms. Optimize your upper stages and fairings for these and you’ll capture a fairly hefty segment of the market…

  2. Another thing would be to, like, have higher integration with the satellite vendor in terms of reports so you could accurately track satellite production status, so you can more easily schedule the launches.

  3. Also, in SpaceX’s case, I think 27 engines on Falcon 9 is just asking for trouble to happen. Just making the engines twice as powerful would basically half the number of engines and with 5 booster engines they would still have engine out capability.

  4. NASA has been developing AFSS at their electronics development lab at KSC for more than a decade. Mitchell Burnside Clapp had the foresight to put some money into the effort under the ALASA program. When I was at DARPA, we decided to support the development, get the design Safety Approved by FAA/AST (it is already accepted by NASA and the 45th), and then put the design on the DARPA open catalog website. The target unit cost is in the low five figures, almost two orders of magnitude less than the traditional flight safety system (just the onboard part – the ground infrastructure an personnel add even more).

    This was the lowest-hanging fruit in the range modernization world, and SpaceX did a tremendous job in pushing the first one through. What’s even better is that the 45th was extremely supportive of the effort. The last thing they can afford is a “range modernization” effort that duplicates the way things have always been done, but with (more) modern electronics.

  5. It’s worth remembering that AFSS isn’t exactly new, and has even been used operationally – including destroying a rocket in flight.

    The rocket it destroyed was a F9R-dev1 test flight out of McGreggor, that suffered an engine sensor issue in 2014 and deviated from course.

    Glad to see AFSS being adopted by the ranges.

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