Sunday, February 9, 2020

Space Force

A story that has hardly gotten wide attention even here, under the SW to NE approach to Patrick Air Force Base, is that the base will be renamed as Patrick Space Force Base, or, Patrick Space Base or something like that in the coming weeks.  The announcement last Friday said the name change would be within 30 days.
"It's exciting, but it is kind of fast. But it's been good," Brig. Gen. Douglas Schiess said. He said Space Force leadership was making sure "we are an agile service without a lot of bureaucracy to be able to get after what the nation needs us to do in continuing to be a space power."

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which has overseen the majority of the nation's rocket launches since the 1950s, soon will be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Schiess said. Patrick is about 20 miles south of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and helps support operations at the station.
As most of you know, launch activity has picked up quite a bit in the last couple of years.  The 45th Space Wing, based on Patrick AFB, has demonstrated that it can handle a pace of one rocket launch per week and even support two launches in one day. In 2018, the installation handled 24 launches, and 48 are scheduled for 2020, so far.  Space Force bases, in addition to the two here, will include Buckley, Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases in Colorado, along with Los Angeles and Vandenberg Air Force bases in California.

We're looking forward to tonight's 11:03 PM (EST) launch of an Atlas V carrying the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission.  Chances of acceptable weather are up at 90%.  Later this week, we could be having the next SpaceX Starlink launch.  Teslarati reports:
The fourth launch of upgraded Starlink v1.0 satellites and fifth dedicated launch overall, SpaceX’s next Starlink mission – deemed Starlink V1 L4 – is currently set to lift off no earlier than (NET) 10:46 am EST (15:46 UTC) on February 15th. As usual, the mission’s Falcon 9 booster will attempt to land aboard drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), while SpaceX recovery ships Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief may attempt to catch both Falcon payload fairing halves for the third time ever.
Work on the Space Launch System (SLS) booster has passed another milestone with positioning the booster vertically for test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.  In addition, last week four RL10 engines were delivered to Stennis for testing and integration into the Artemis upper stage.  The RL10 is well-established engine, but the tests will verify the integration of the engine into the Exploration Upper Stage.

NASA infographic


  1. Cool for Patrick AFB, soon to be Patrick SFB. Excellent.

    Now if they would just get rid of the Defense Race Relations Institute and replace it with something real.

    My niece works at Patrick in the Morale and Welfare office. My Godson/nephew has a job through the FLNatGuard as an overseer for civilian contractors on the Cape.

    I wonder how much this will affect the local economy.

    As to the SLS upper stage engine. The RL-10. Been around since, well, 1962. Only recently has an attempt been made to use additive and CNC processes to reduce the number of parts and the amount of labor in assembly and machining.

    Almost like Aerojet-Rocketdyne hasn't been tasked to lower costs. Hmmmm...

    Recap. SSME/RS-25.. is just a reworked J-2, from Saturn 2nd, 3rd stage fame.

    And now the RL-10... Is NASA ever going to allow/require innovation and change?

    Where are the aerojet nozzled engines? Where are the CNC/Additive/modern process engineered engines?

    SpaceX can do it, why can't Rocketdyne?

    1. While I was putting this together, I ran across an article on NASA rejecting a proposal from Blue Origin for a "low cost replacement" for the RL-10.

      Full text here

      "And instead of opening upper stage bidding into a formal bidding process, NASA decided to stick with Boeing's version of the Exploration Upper Stage. Because this was a non-competitive process, NASA had to justify it with the new document."

      "This design was based upon Blue Origin's BE-3U rocket engine, a modified version of the motor that powers the New Shepard launch system, which will also fly in the upper stage of the company's New Glenn rocket. A single BE-3U engine has more thrust than four RL-10 engines combined. So Blue Origin likely proposed an upper stage powered by a single BE-3U engine."

      Apparently it's not Rocketdyne, it's NASA.

    2. I remember when SpaceX offered to provide engines for NASA. Nope.

      Then there's the whole F-1B debacle. Proven capability to build F-1 engines using modern processes, would have made them as cheap or cheaper than SSMEs or RL-10s. But... nooo....

      Just like ULA has had lots of opportunity to update its legacy rockets with new tech and new materials but... nooo...

      Same old same old is not the way to innovate.

      That's how it lead us to buying Russian engines for our main lifters for so long.

      Top men. Absolutely brilliant. I feel that my tax dollars are well accounted for, how about you?

  2. I will continue to cheer on SpaceX. NASA is moribund and led by fools whose interest is only in maintaining the status quo of the pork brigade forever.

  3. Look at how successful gun control has been in the US: almost no innovation in the everyday personal defense weapon, the handgun, in 100 years. For instance, there could be less-lethal bullets poisoned with a disabling compound like jellyfish sting, and lower density so they don't overshoot as far. This could be delivered by a much smaller round in a magazine holding fifty.

    The moon landing was a stunt. NASA now exists to prevent US citizens from attaining the ultimate high ground. All the frontier you could want is only 100 miles away -- straight up. How does that ceremonial toast go, 'Next year on Mars'?

    1. Look at how successful gun control has been in the US: almost no innovation in the everyday personal defense weapon, the handgun, in 100 years. I've seen this counter-argued before. There has been a lot of innovation, in materials, ease of manufacture, hand labor removal, and general improvements. We get better running handguns today than we did even 25 years ago without meticulous hand filing and fitting. The only thing that really hasn't changed much is the size of the different calibers and that's more related to what was available 100 years ago being well suited to its purpose and to the capabilities of human beings. How many adults could hand hold and accurately fire a handgun much bigger than 50 caliber, which we have now? Not my diminutive wife. An everyday carry gun in .308 Win or .338 Lapua? Nope.

      NASA's problem is it's an arthritic bureaucracy - and I've been saying that since 1980-something. It exists now to shuffle tax money around to select friends in select districts. If they get anything done (the Mars rovers, or Juno probe, for example) it's despite the administrators' best efforts.

    2. NASA stopped innovating with manned space flight in the mid 70's.

      Their greatest successes past that were really with robotic probes and telescopes.

      As to 'where's my wunderweapon stun gun?' Simple. Ask any cop how effective beanbags, baton rounds, rubber rounds, tasers, taser rounds (yes, taser shotgun rounds exist, really, 12 gauge taser rounds...) are against subjects.

      30% totally or mostly not effective. 30% somewhat effective. 40% effective.

      As to tranquilizer darts, ever watch a wildlife or vet show? Even knowing the exact weight of an animal, tranqs are tricky. Each animal reacts differently to tranqs than other similar animals. Placement of the tranq is critical, has to get into the blood stream quickly. And even if the tranq works, then you have to monitor the animal for negative effects like lack of respiration, overheating, and on and on.

      Best solution, really? Shoot them with a kinetic energy projectile. Best way to deliver a kinetic energy projectile? With a gunpowder-burning gun.

      It's why, even today, you can cap someone's buttocks with a flintlock pistol. Or a percussion-cap pistol. Or an early auto-loader. Or the latest plastic-fantastic.

      Every attempt to make a better 'round' than the cartridge round currently, from GyroJets to caseless ammo, has met with less than acceptable success.

    3. You say S&W -> Glock. I say horses -> jet airplanes, telegraph -> cell phone, nothing -> pocket supercomputer, nothing -> Internet, Jules Verne From the Earth to the Moon -> doing it, library reference desk -> google, Henry Ford -> Toyota.

      Yet we still can't build a poisoned .22 short, because personal self-defense innovation is banned by extremely effective gun control. Remember those 'guns made in state X are not subject to federal regulation within state X' laws? Nobody ever trusted those to work, did they? Did you hear of even one single firearm
      that was made expecting to be under their protection?

      Jellyfish sting acts instantly, with disablement far greater than lethality. There's already a handgun and cartridge system to make bullets for, with better penetration and better range-limiting:

  4. NASA (head shake)! Figures that they are holding things back to benefit their "buddies".

    Looking at that infographic, SpaceX will be able to put 100 tons on the Moon with two or three launches. One to launch the Moon bound craft and one or two refueling launches. And that will happen in a 24 hour period.

    There are too many companies on the government teat. DRAIN THE SWAMP!