Community > Forum > The Spaceflight Cafe > Where to put a commercial space port?

Where to put a commercial space port?

Posted by: Lourens - Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:56 pm
Post new topic Reply to topic
 [ 22 posts ] 
Where to put a commercial space port? 
Author Message
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:56 pm
So, SpaceX is looking to build a third launch site, next to Canaveral and Vandenberg, because they have lots of rockets to launch (and presumable don't want to keep waiting for some Air Force satellite to go up first or such too often). They're looking at various sites. Where would you put a third launch site? Why there?

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 900
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:42 am
Were money no object, I would look at South Texas along the Gulf coast. As far South as I could go somewhere between Corpus Cristi and Port Isabel.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Member
Space Station Member
avatar
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:22 pm
Posts: 266
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:20 am
I like the suggestion of Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands. Easier to ship to than Kwaj, though still obviously worse than anywhere else in the US. More inclinations available without overflying land, unlike Texas which just has a keyhole between Cuba and Florida. Farther south than anywhere in the continental US, for maximum free velocity for escape missions.

The EIS is the tough part, though. You'd have to buy a lot of people off to fly regularly from the coast of a tropical island. The first time you drop a rocket on a tourist reef you're in trouble.

Sea Launch had a good idea, if not the best hardware. According to folks I talked to at the FAA, they had the easiest launch license process ever, since their e sub c was basically 0. Big floating platforms are common, and may be cheaper than buying a tropical island and permission.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 900
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:05 am
You only have to get above 25 miles and you can overfly anywhere you like. Legally. Insurance wise, they will still have kittens, but its just money...

Yeah, floating 12 miles out and launching is the cheapest route, but sea conditions and weather will play hell with your flight schedule. It will greatly slow down your launch turn around times too. And there is probably a practical limit to the size of vehicle you can launch from a floating structure. ICBM? no problem. Soyuz, Ariane, Falcon-Heavy? Not so much.

Oil platforms have been suggested.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:55 pm
Well, I'm not sure about the floating structure. A Falcon Heavy weighs 1400 tons, while the largest ships can carry up to 500,000 tons. I doubt this baby would notice if a Falcon Heavy launched from it weight-wise, and at 380x60m there should be enough space as well (the current F9 launch site at Cape Canaveral is circular and about 350m in diameter).

With respect to the sea state, sure, put it in the Southern Ocean and it'll roll, but in the tradewind area north of the ITCZ? Say east of Cuba? And what if you built it like a huge catamaran? Those are much more stable.

At around 100M$ it's not cheap, but in the same order of magnitude of what they're currently paying for a launch site. Furthermore, it doesn't have to move; they can ship the rocket directly from Texas after testing on a separate ship, and just leave the platform out there, maybe moving around a bit to avoid bad weather or move closer to the equator for very heavy launches. And no range issues ever, which is kind of important if you want to launch at the rates SpaceX is planning to...

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Member
Space Station Member
avatar
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:22 pm
Posts: 266
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:38 pm
JamesG wrote:
You only have to get above 25 miles and you can overfly anywhere you like. Legally. Insurance wise, they will still have kittens, but its just money...

You can't overfly anywhere you want, legally, at any altitude. Getting a lunch license is a part of the legal framework, and if the place you overfly puts your e sub c (expected casualties) too high, you don't get a launch license.

This is specifically for American companies, but I haven't seen any sign of there being a non-American SpaceX any time soon. They also can't say "we'll launch in another country", as the FAA claims jurisdiction over launches by American companies regardless of where the launch takes place.


Back to top
Profile
Spaceflight Participant
Spaceflight Participant
avatar
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:08 am
Posts: 87
Location: Mojave Desert California
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 20, 2011 6:21 pm
South Point on the Big Island of Hawaii. There you could easily do ground launch or sea launch, at 18-19 degrees Lat, it's way closer to the equator than Texas or Florida, lot's of open ocean surrounding it, acres of inexpensive land and has a paved road to the area. Plus, how many people would like to live in this beautiful area on Hawaii?


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:15 pm
Posts: 900
Location: Columbus, GA USA
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:40 am
Hawaii is nice. I change my "vote" for Hawaii. lol.

Ben wrote:
You can't overfly anywhere you want, legally, at any altitude. Getting a lunch license is a part of the legal framework, and if the place you overfly puts your e sub c (expected casualties) too high, you don't get a launch license.


Tell me how you are supposed to put something into orbit without overflying a populated area?

My comment was in regards to international law and the requirement for flight plans and airspace approvals. The capricious and arbitrary regulations of the FAA are an entirely different matter.


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Member
Space Station Member
avatar
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:22 pm
Posts: 266
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:57 am
Yes well, the airspace is the trivial portion of the governmental approval.

As Socrates said, "When you understand Ec, you are halfway to orbit."


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
User avatar
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:47 am
Posts: 521
Location: Science Park, Cambridge, UK
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:04 am
Lourens wrote:
Well, I'm not sure about the floating structure. A Falcon Heavy weighs 1400 tons, while the largest ships can carry up to 500,000 tons. I doubt this baby would notice if a Falcon Heavy launched from it weight-wise, and at 380x60m there should be enough space as well (the current F9 launch site at Cape Canaveral is circular and about 350m in diameter).

With respect to the sea state, sure, put it in the Southern Ocean and it'll roll, but in the tradewind area north of the ITCZ? Say east of Cuba? And what if you built it like a huge catamaran? Those are much more stable.

At around 100M$ it's not cheap, but in the same order of magnitude of what they're currently paying for a launch site. Furthermore, it doesn't have to move; they can ship the rocket directly from Texas after testing on a separate ship, and just leave the platform out there, maybe moving around a bit to avoid bad weather or move closer to the equator for very heavy launches. And no range issues ever, which is kind of important if you want to launch at the rates SpaceX is planning to...


That is a seriously big boat!

A launch platform I would think would be much cheaper than the $100 for that. You don't anywhere near as much space, or all the gubbins associated with the tanker side of things. Do need fuel storage, but you would need that on land anyway.

I think it would be a very good option!


Back to top
Profile
Spaceflight Participant
Spaceflight Participant
User avatar
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 1:35 am
Posts: 59
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:52 am
Why not Spaceport American in New Mexico?

Favorable government environment and land already set aside.

_________________
The Magic Helmet


Back to top
Profile
Space Station Commander
Space Station Commander
avatar
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:44 am
Posts: 707
Location: Haarlem, The Netherlands
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:47 am
Because you'd have to get clearance to launch towards Texas, Mexico and other population centres, which is probably not that easy. Vandenberg has the same problem, but if I understand correctly it's mainly used for polar and high-inclination orbits, for which you can launch southward over the Pacific.

So, the perfect location would be on a coast, close to the equator for launches to GEO, with a big chunk of ocean or empty land to the east and either south or north.

The only drawback I can see to Hawaii is that it is quite far away, and perhaps the residents and the tourists are not going to be too happy about the noise. A platform on legs has to be on a continental shelf, close to the coast, as the sea has to be less than about 500m deep and the ocean floor drops away from the US very quickly. For polar launches a platform off the coast of Nova Scotia might work, but it's too far away from the equator for equatorial orbits. They could probably also build a launch tower off of the Florida coast, just far enough away from Canaveral to not have to worry about other launches. A floating launch platform is more flexible though.

_________________
Say, can you feel the thunder in the air? Just like the moment ’fore it hits – then it’s everywhere
What is this spell we’re under, do you care? The might to rise above it is now within your sphere
Machinae Supremacy – Sid Icarus


Back to top
Profile
Space Walker
Space Walker
avatar
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:12 pm
Posts: 137
Location: Sacramento, CA
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:11 pm
140,000 feet


Back to top
Profile WWW
Space Station Member
Space Station Member
avatar
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:16 pm
Posts: 335
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:24 pm
Only good enough for small launches; you couldn't launch a Falcon IX Heavy from a nearspace airship.

Hmmm, F1 comes in at under 28 tonnes GLOW, and F1e comes in at 35 tonnes... would take some modifying though for horizontal drop launch, and you'd want to optimise both engines for vacuum operation. I don't think it's feasible using a Falcon rocket; however, certain existing rocket stages might be. Might be an avenue worth checking out.

JP, it helps to have technicians around a spaceport, and at the moment no-one's trying to actually put people in nearspace.


Back to top
Profile
Spaceflight Participant
Spaceflight Participant
avatar
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:08 am
Posts: 87
Location: Mojave Desert California
Post Re: Where to put a commercial space port?   Posted on: Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:37 am
Not too many residents on that rural part of the 'Big Island' and fewer still are the tourists that mostly go to the other islands or the Kona Coast on the west side of the island over the mountains and that would actually be an additional 'tourist attraction' seeing a launch.

'Perfect location'...the coast there has more than two thousand miles of ocean to the north, south, and east, it's far closer to the equator than Texas or Florida and the climate on that part of the island is relatively dry as it borders the Kau Desert, and yes, there are areas of Hawaii that are hot and dry.


Back to top
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ] 
 

Who is online 

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests


cron
© 2014 The International Space Fellowship, developed by Gabitasoft Interactive. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy | Terms of Use