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I'm not sure here, but I think weather could play a major role in disrupting launches, greater than with jet liners, right? And not just due to windy conditions (which planes can better withstand up to a certain point), but also rough waters.

Another issue is noise. I don't see rockets happening that close to shore in large cities. A long pad-to-city commute, with ship trip included, would be another inconvenience.




Maybe. Rockets can actually fly through a variety of rough weather conditions. Indeed, they can even survive being struck by lightning (as Apollo 12 was). However, they are not, as a rule, designed to do so. And because they are multi-million dollar equipment that are only used once before being discarded it's easier to simply avoid launching in weather that might be too severe.

However, in practice a rocket could be designed to fly in much more severe weather than is allowed for most launches today, it just takes designing it to do so. Because of the huge cost of rockets today designing a rocket to fly through adverse weather would add additional additional manufacturing cost onto each launch, which is not a good tradeoff. But if you can ammortize that over many flights, then it's not a big deal.

Think about ICBMs and SLBMs. Do you think there is someone sitting in a Minuteman bunker looking at the weather, ready to tell the launch officers just after they've turned their keys "sorry fellas, I've overriden your orders, we can't launch today, the weather is too crummy, oh well, better wait until tomorrow, if there is one"? No, missiles are designed to launch on a moment's notice, and be capable of successfully hitting their targets even if the local weather is terrible. Their designed to be able to launch through thunderstorms and experience only a small percentage of losses in the most unusual conditions. Similarly, any orbital rocket can be designed to be able to launch through most typical severe weather events, with only a small percentage of conditions (compared to today) requiring a scrub because it would endanger mission success.

The degree to which SpaceX will do such a thing is unknown, but it's within the realm of possibility.

Also, it should be noted that a major reason weather has a historical role in disrupting launches is because one of the best locations for launches in the US (Florida: Easterly coast, as close to the equator as possible) is also one of the few places on Earth with the most thunderstorm activity (roughly one out of five days in Florida has a thunderstorm). The vast majority of other locations on Earth don't experience nearly the same level of launch-risk inducing severe weather.


> sorry fellas, I've overriden your orders, we can't launch today, the weather is too crummy, oh well, better wait until tomorrow, if there is one

This cracked me up! :o)

I can sort of see a Monty Python-esque sketch or something in front of me know. Hilarious, thanks for the laugh!


ICBMs also typically launch from underground, which helps a bit with the noise and maybe even the weather. Also, you'd have to dig a pretty wide hole to make it land-able and reusable.


Presumably several ICBMs are launched at a particular destination at the same time; unlike a payload of paying passengers an ICBM's payload is somewhat fungible so more risks can be taken.


Plenty of ICBMs launch above ground, e.g., Russia's rail-mounted arsenal.


Punching through the atmosphere layer at speeds that are economical when every two extra minutes spent there waste more than one km/s of precious delta-v make every storm look tame. But solving the control problem for the "suicide burn" landing? I would not be so sure about that.


I don't think it's a suicide burn. The upper stage of the BFG has separate engines for vacuum (4) and atmosphere (2). The two atmospheric engines are only used for landing so, unlike the Falcon 9/Heavy, they can probably be throttled down far enough so the thrust equals the weight. The suborbital earth transport rocket (which is super hypothetical at this point) would presumably have these features too.

Another way to say this is that suborbital flight requires sufficiently less Delta v that you can afford to have engine diversity.


Given enough thrust even pigs can fly, so I'd say it's just a matter of more struts and much bigger RCS. Since we're talking suborbital, mass penalty isn't that bad.




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