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  #1  
Old 01-21-2018, 11:31 PM
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Default Electron in orbit!

Hello All,

Rocket Lab's Electron launch vehicle has successfully reached orbit! This article (see: http://spaceflightnow.com/2018/01/2...ul-test-launch/ ) contains the particulars. (One unusual "First"--having rocket engines with electrically-driven propellant pumps, its second stage jettisoned a spent battery pack during ascent in order to reduce the total mass of the second stage and its multiple-CubeSat payloads.) Here (see: http://spaceflightnow.com/2018/01/2...om-new-zealand/ ) is a video of the flight.
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Old 01-22-2018, 08:40 PM
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It seems Space-X isn't the only company with a fetish for the number 9.
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Old 01-23-2018, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbzep
It seems Space-X isn't the only company with a fetish for the number 9.
Indeed--a numerologist could have a field day with that and with other numbers connected with Peter Beck (Rocket Lab's CEO) and Elon Musk, even "proving" that they're the False Prophet and the Antichrist. :-) Also:

While I like the aesthetics of the Saturn I's & IB's 8-engine layout, the "8 around 1" arrangement (which I also like) allows for a narrower airframe. Spreading the desired total first stage thrust among 9 rather than 8 engines also makes it a bit easier to design the engines for their lesser "unit burdens" (in terms of pump speeds, chamber pressure, thrust, etc.), which makes reuse-ability easier (Peter Beck has mentioned that Electron's first stage may be made reusable in the future), and:

Those small Rutherford rocket engines--possibly without their first stage nozzle extensions--could also be used to power a Philip Bono-type aerospike plug-nozzle, base-first re-entry SSTO vehicle (his designs used many small rocket engines ringed around the altitude-compensating aerospike nozzle, which gave it deep-throttling capability--by utilizing more or fewer of the engine modules--for landing). While SSTO will work, particularly if the vehicle is large enough (including with LOX/kerosene; G. Harry Stine and Gary Hudson both pointed out historic and existing rocket stages and engines that could achieve SSTO with useful payloads [Hudson's Shuttle ET with 6 or 8 SSMEs had an impressively-large payload]), Bono's basic SSTO-type configuration could also be used for smaller, two-stage reusable launch vehicles. Peter Beck has mentioned developing completely reusable launch vehicles in the future, and I wouldn't be surprised if Bono's basic SSTO configuration--utilized in TSTO or SSTO vehicles--is one potential path that he's considering.
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Last edited by blackshire : 01-24-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 01-23-2018, 08:59 PM
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It is interesting to note that the engines are "the first of its type to be primarily 3D-printed. Each Rutherford engine, including its engine chamber, injector, pumps and main propellant valves, can be printed in 24 hours.". That in itself is very impressive.

Very cool!
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Old 01-23-2018, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77fair
It is interesting to note that the engines are "the first of its type to be primarily 3D-printed. Each Rutherford engine, including its engine chamber, injector, pumps and main propellant valves, can be printed in 24 hours.". That in itself is very impressive.

Very cool!
David

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This is, in a way, a realization of K. Eric Drexler's "Engines of Creation" (in which book he discussed "assembler" nano-machines that could create--among other things he wrote of--lightsails [extremely thin, made-in-space, all-metal high-performance solar sails] and rocket engines). We don't have Dr. Drexler's assemblers yet (some experts doubt their realization), but 3D printers do much the same thing.
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Old 01-24-2018, 08:44 AM
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Finally had time to watch the full launch video. Seemed weird that the first stage just tumbled away instead of returning to land. Space-X has me spoiled! Video showed the payload fairing in view, which doesn't always make it into the camera's frame on many launches.
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Old 01-24-2018, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbzep
Finally had time to watch the full launch video. Seemed weird that the first stage just tumbled away instead of returning to land. Space-X has me spoiled! Video showed the payload fairing in view, which doesn't always make it into the camera's frame on many launches.
The vehicle moved around quite a bit, too, judging by the shifting of the Earth; I imagine that was because Electron is so small and light (its climb-out and sound, with the rapidly Doppler-shifted roar, were more akin to those of a large sounding rocket). The second stage's exhaust blew the first stage horizontal, too (its empty mass is quite low). While Peter Beck plans for eventual Falcon 9-type first stage recoveries, maybe Electron is light enough that parachute recovery--perhaps with a helicopter mid-air "snatch"--could work for its first stage? It was nice to see the payload fairing and, later, the two jettison-able battery packs fall away from the second stage.
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Old 01-24-2018, 10:58 PM
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As Vader said...

"IMPRESSIVE! MOST IMPRESSIVE!"

Later! OL J R
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Old 01-25-2018, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luke strawwalker
As Vader said...

"IMPRESSIVE! MOST IMPRESSIVE!"

Later! OL J R
I'll drink some Tranya to toast that! Electrically-pumped rocket engines might also have numerous manned and unmanned in-space applications (inter-orbit tugs, lunar and asteroid landers, etc.), which could utilize much lighter, low-pressure propellant tanks.
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Black Shire--Draft horse in human form, model rocketeer, occasional mystic, and writer, see:
http://www.lulu.com/content/paperba...an-form/8075185
http://www.lulu.com/product/cd/what...of-2%29/6122050
http://www.lulu.com/product/cd/what...of-2%29/6126511
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