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Reusable Rockets & Flyback boosters

Reusable Rockets & Flyback boosters

One of the most impressive sights of
recent years was the synchronized landing of the Falcon Heavy boosters and
although the center core didn’t make it back simply because it didn’t have
enough ignition fluid to restart all three of a centre cores engines the overall
mission was a success. But SpaceX wasn’t the first to use this
technique and as we will see there are several other ways to get launch assets
back to earth safely without just letting them burn up in the atmosphere.
The maneuver which SpaceX use is known as a fly back and it requires the
perfect coordination of nitrogen cold gas thrusters, gimballed engine burns and
the constant adjustment of the four grid fins the heat-resistant control surfaces
to fine-tune the Falcons flight path. The first stage of a falcon 9 weighs over
14 tonnes with empty fuel tanks but it can fly with the greatest of precision
to land safely from the edge of space separating from the second stage at
hypersonic velocities and at an altitude of more than 70 kilometers the Falcon 9
navigates through unpredictable high-altitude atmospheric weather
conditions to land at a precise spot on the Earth’s surface. One other rocket can
perform a similar feat and that’s new Shepard, a sub orbital booster built by
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin. New Shepard is decorated with the image of a giant
feather which according to Bezos is a symbol of the perfection of flight. On
November 23rd 2015 new Shepard became the first rocket to fly to space and
return to make a vertical landing. Less than a month later on December 21st 2015 SpaceX’s Falcon 9 became the first booster to launch a payload to orbit
before returning also to land vertically, the age of reusable rockets
had begun but why did it take so long to see it happen. Landing a rocket presents
some serious technical challenges but the underlying reason for the delay has
been the limited market for orbital launches. In the past the launch industry
was controlled by national and international space agencies, even rich
governments have often lacked the resources to fund innovation in space
technology, repeated launch failures of a government-funded prototype with usually result in the project being canceled and this is exactly what has happened to
many of the 20th century’s most brilliant machines that we often talk
about on this channel. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk
have invested their personal fortunes into reusable boosters with the
expectation that in reducing the cost of each launch the market will grow. SpaceX
and Blue Origin are filling a niche which has been left
open by the national space agencies but reusable space vehicles were a priority
for NASA since the 1970s however once the Space Shuttle was selected America
was stuck with a design for a generation and they’re gliding orbiter turned out
to be hugely expensive and only grew more inefficient as they aged. On the
other side of the Iron Curtain there was a similar story the Buran the Soviet
space shuttle also became an all-consuming project that the USSR
ultimately couldn’t afford but why did winged space planes do such a poor job
of being what they were supposed to be a reusable affordable launch system. The
inefficiency of a shuttle design can be traced back to the decision to carry a
large set of wings and engines into orbit, the American space shuttle weighed
68 tons and the Buran weights 62 tons and both could deliver a payload of less
than 30 tons to low Earth orbit this meant that any payload delivered by the
shuttle or Buran had to be lifted with a vehicle that tripled the total mass to
orbit and that was without the booster rockets and the fuel tanks and
everything else required to get them there. Ironically
the extra weight of the crew quarters wings and heat shielding also made the
manned shuttle a dangerous way to get into orbit for every ton you accelerate to
orbital velocity you then need to decelerate a ton of mass during reentry
through friction with the atmosphere this process generates a lot of heat and
the heavy of a vehicle the more easy creates. The shuttle and Buran dealt with
this problem by being large and mostly Hollow at the point of reentry
increasing the surface area per ton for atmospheric braking but another set of
space planes reduced the aerodynamic pressures of reentry by simply carrying
a less mass into orbit small space planes have been in development since
the X-20 dinosaur first outlined in 1960 and 21st century robotic orbital
vehicles can do more with less mass. Without the need for crew quarters or
life support they can carry an even more economical payload fraction. America has two high-profile robotic space planes in development right now the Boeing X-37 or
orbital test vehicle and the Sierra Nevada corporation’s Dream Chaser both
of these launch vertically and then re-enter the atmosphere and glide to a
horizontal runway landing. Not to be outdone China is also working on a space
plane called the “Shenglong” or divine dragon. Shenlong is aerodynamically
similar to the x37 but has only appeared so far as a scaled-down version for a
2007 drop test from a Chinese Air Force H6 bomber but while small space planes
continue in slow development reusable boosters have been studied for decades
sometimes adding a long-range fly back capability beyond anything possible with
a falcon 9 or the new Shepard. The second generation of the Energia program, that
was the rocket which was to carry the brand Soviet Space Shuttle was codenamed “Uragan” or “Hurricane” and was planned as a fully recoverable vertical
take off an horizontal landing system. Like the original Energia rocket
Urgan would use strap-on boosters powered by the four chamber RD-170
engine the RD-170 was ahead of its time and designed to ignite up to 10 times
and achieving up to 20 relights in tests. Soviet engineers realized that this
relight capability made the any gear boosters suitable for reusability over
many launches. When the Urgan’s boosters separated from my main stage, it would unfold a set of wings to slow for re-entry and then maneuver for a
horizontal landing on a runway. The center core of the Urgan was also to
be fitted with wings a bit like the Buran and this was to return to earth
using the same technique as the antipodal bomber, a design first proposed
by Eugene Saenger in 1943. This would have the center core skip off the upper
atmosphere around the globe until it returned back to its launch site where
it would then land like the Buran itself on a runway.
Although the antipodal design was not followed up the winged booster design
was too good to abandon and it reappeared after the fall of the Soviet
Union as proposed booster for the Angora system. The fly back booster was called
Baikal and was essentially the same concept as the Urgan fitted with
folding wings and an air-breathing RD-33 jet engine for atmospheric flight. A
similar system was also studied by the German Aerospace Center the DLR from
1999 to replace the expendable solid rocket boosters on the Ariane 5
launcher. Each liquid fueled fly back booster or LFBB had forward canards
small rear wings and a turbofan engine giving the booster all the aerodynamic
capabilities of an aircraft. The LFBB design progressed as far as scale models
before being cancelled apparently because the hardware was becoming too
large and complex to justify the economic savings.
But ESA has recently funded a new reusable first stage booster designed at
Airbus to work with the upcoming Ariane 6 launcher. The Advanced Expendable
Launcher with Innovative Engine Economy or ADELINE uses an unusual set of
aerodynamic features to potentially achieve the most efficient and capable
fly back yet. Once the first stage fuel is expanded Adaline separates and
reenter to the atmosphere protected from the heat by the shield in the nose. Once
in the denser part of the atmosphere the booster uses wings and a pair of
propellers to maneuver to a horizontal landing on a runway. Propellers can
achieve even better efficiencies than jet engines meaning that even less fuel
needs to be reserved for the fly back. Now something which SpaceX is doing is
forcing the rest of the launch industry to re-examine their use of non reusable
launch systems. A few years ago the Russian space agency, Roscosmos said that
they didn’t see any point in developing reusable rockets but after the recent
success of SpaceX and their growing share of a market, Roscosmos is
now say they are actively looking at reusable rockets so expect to see a lot
more in the way of rockets and boosters flying back to base by themselves. So
what do you think of SpaceX and Blue origins vision of a reusable future, let
me know what you think in the comments. I would also like to thank all of our
patrons for their ongoing support and you can find out more about that in the
link now showing and also don’t forget to check out some of our other videos
too so it just remains me to say thanks for watching and please subscribe, thumbs up and share.

100 thoughts on “Reusable Rockets & Flyback boosters”

  1. Its interesting that some in the comments believe that SpaceX will be the default leaders in commercial space but its also worth noting that the first to market are rarely the leaders in the following decades and as the market matures.
    Blue Origin is quite at the moment but I wouldn't rule them out in the long term. The Russians also could be leaders in this field once they consign the 60-year-old proton/Soyuz design to history, they have the technical capability and SpaceX has given them quite a shock in an area where they consider themselves to be the original leaders. It's going to be a very interesting few decades a head for space 🙂

  2. BO was not first, the karman line is hardly space. Don't praise Bezos's media stunts. Educated people should be better than normal media.

  3. Technology is not there now, nor was it ever there! It’s going to be many years before we get out there… wake up America

  4. Понятно, что за этим будущее, просто пока отстается много не решенных проблем. А ракета должна быть не только надежна, но и рентабельна.

  5. This Would have to be one of the best channels on this platform as the information ALWAYS checks out to the letter/number hope to see more great informative videos from <CURIOUS DROID> Cheers to you guys from the Land Down Under .

  6. In the future, space programs around the world will all achieve 100% reuseability and we'll look back at the age of expendables like we look back at Fords Model T, today.

  7. Great video but would be nice to show the delta clippers success. It paved the way for vertical landing and was a total success but still had the plug pulled on it.

  8. ISRO also did a scale test of its reusable launch vehicle and showed some promising results, can you do a video on that please?

  9. AND again …. NASA is absent from this .. it is too busy trying to develop its 60s Apollo on steroids obsolete technology and a rocket using repurposed engines from the 80s. NASA . stick with your robotic probes that you launch every 10 years and let the serious boys get this country back into manned space flight.

  10. you must've been a secret liaison for the government. 🙂 how do you manage to get all of these information. its a complete privilege being able to watch your episodes.

  11. I like your sensible and intelligent treatment of technical issues. Have you considred Skylon? More exciting than reusable rockets.

  12. I get competition sparks advancement and price reduction. But if all these agencies and rich bitches put their heads together on a plan for order of priority, shared technology and pooled some of the funds we would be miles ahead

  13. It's kinda interesting that you do not touch the most important question: "Is there any reason to reuse a booster" we have 0 evidence that reusability saves any money right now.
    In the case of the SS it did cost a lot of money, SpaceX keeps it's economic informations a secret soo yeah right now it's nothing but a pr gag sorry.

  14. I think that SpaceX's way to brake the 2nd stage is very full cunsuming because it is active reactor as compared to a PASSIVE, air braking glyder

  15. I think that with Space X thinking outside of the box, everybody has to get out of the box to be competitive. What we are seeing is a rocket as visualized by a computer wonk and his cars are the same way. A Tesla car probably has more in common with your i phone than other cars.

  16. Seems like the only way to have a truly returnable, reusable system is if we develop some sort of enveloping bubble technology to protect the spacecraft. A form of force-field or something akin to a plasma torch to at least puncture the atmosphere in the direction of travel. Would also be useful for faster flying aircraft.

  17. Mixing conceptual proposals /mock-ups with actual working prototypes is a bit misleading. For example, a rocket with folding wings must trade off volume needed for fuel in exchange for mechanical wing rotation systems. That looks nifty, but has anything like that actually made an orbital return?

  18. If I were the president, I wouldn't give NASA 1$. They are the most useless agency of the government. I don't know how they can justify a 20 billion dollars budget!

  19. If the BFR flies. There is Nothing else in the world even research wise that comes close to it. It .will rule the Superheavy launch market for decades. Or till SpaceX goes even bigger….

  20. if you're interested in how to pronounce it correctly in Russian, I would glad to send a voice record via whatsup or whatever. Pardon my intrusiveness

  21. Could someone please explain why they don’t simply use parachutes? Wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier? is it a weight issue?

  22. Evolutionary endeavours should be money no object if the nowhow exists .human progress is stunted for the sake of marketable Base pleasures .

  23. Is the cost of the fuel to land a rocket cheaper than having it splash in the sea and retrieving it from there? It's more weight to start with and that not good. It would be interesting to see the math on this. If you let it burn out all its fuel and splash in the sea, they would not have to be so big and weigh more at the start. Do Not answer this unless you have the math to back it up. Anyone fool can say yes or no and not know the real answer.
    Why are we forgetting about history? It has shown us the reusing rockets is not cost effective and ends with a fireball.

  24. The last option is ingenious, less weight, less friction, small size, detachable reservoir, single ignition engine, etc… But i think the fans are a bad addiction of complexity, i would aim to another moving source.

  25. Well, I don’t think this is worth pursuing, for all the extra things you have to add for a flyback booster you’re removing potential payload space

  26. 9:26 – 9:50. I don't think Roscosmos believed what they said:"there's no point in employing resusable rockets" . I don't think , this concept hasn't been thought of by NASA scientists too. Both U.S.A. and Russia have been engaging in space activities for many decades now. It is not very much probable that they missed it , or that they have not already tested this. Sorry , but I can't believe this. It is much more likely, it was just a matter of policy to prevent expansion of space activities, and now that it has been clearly shown it is effective and possible , just by tinkering a bit more with engineering , they have bitten their tongues.
    I am pretty sure , near space exploration(solar system ) is quite possible just by revamping existing technologies and with no new scientific knowledge. And it is not only reusable rockets. Brilliant engineers could find many more simple and elegant solutions.

  27. When was the Energia-2 Urugan first seriously proposed, as a paper study? Did ideas about giving the core booster wings ever advance seriously beyond a paper proposal?

  28. One should do a doco about the Russian N-1 Rocket. It has been 50 years, why is there so little about it on YouTube?

  29. I bet the benefits of a reusable rocket are marginal. The thing needs to carry fuel to land itself which probably could be used to push more cargo. I would use a slow parachute for the expensive pieces (engines?) and abandon the coke can part.

  30. ULA and ESA will happily keep burning taxpayer money, trying to keep their outdated tech alive.
    The new Ariane 6 booster looks flashy, but appears to be overly complicated and expensive. It would be time for ESA to ditch the Ariane 6 program now.

  31. The Russian's 'Engergia II' flyback boosters were an excellent idea with one huge flaw: They flew backwards. The nose of the fly-back booster really should be the end where the heavy engines are located, thus allowing the lightweight tank to act more of a 'tail' so that the vertical/horizontal tail structures could be made smaller / lighter. Two side fairings would slide over the engines, in a clamshell-like fashion, creating an aerodynamic nose cone for the returning booster.

  32. Great video, though I wouldn’t even compare New Shepard to Falcon 9. It’s like saying riding a bicycle to the end of the street and back beats a truck delivering tons of goods to another country and back, simply because the bicycle was first. You could almost argue SpaceX’s Grasshopper programme beats New Shepard on that metric. Other than that, superb video, thanks!

  33. "One other rocket can perform a similar feat"….. I think my English can prove that wrong.. ORBITAL != SUB-ORBITAL.. seriously stop comparing the two!! It's like comparing apples and oranges

  34. Mazing. Rocket land on tail without burning tail off. Rocket stay vertical all the time and apply just the right amount of thrust to slowly descent.

  35. YO! Elon and Jeff, invest some of your funds into my space program. It can propel me in just three stages.
    It will boost:
    – My bank account
    – My spending power
    – My way of living

  36. I believe the Boran was not made to be reusable, and I dont even believe it was reusable. The boran was made because Soviet spies told the Kremlin that the shuttle had a huge storage bay, and the Soviet union thought that there was no need for the us to have such a big storage bay on a space vehicle, they thought the us was putting weapons in space. So they copied the space shuttle in order to be able to do the same, however the boran only launched once or twice, before it was decomissioned.

  37. I want to see the Baikal boosters used once. The Russians have to do something to remain competitive, and they have the skilled engineers to do so.

  38. Not mentioned is the 1970’s proposal called “Flyback F-1” – making the Saturn V first stage reusable with added shuttle type wings and manned nose section (similar to the later Energia II center core concept).

  39. @Curious Droid – I think it's important to note that SpaceX and Blue Origins only exist through government funding… Elon's personal monetary investment is next to non-existent compared to the government subsidies… private individuals do not and can not engage in any speculative innovation, because it's not profitable – it's always the public that funds these, without exception. So the idea that there's not enough funding for NASA is laughable. The only difference is who benefits – the public, or some specific individuals?

    We don't have exact numbers on all of the investments into things like spacex – but we do know for sure that Musk's personal investment is in the millions, and government subsidies are in the several BILLIONS (the LA Times reported it to be 5.4 Billion from the government subsidies alone, and 100 million from Musk) – and this is not even getting into any of the contracts granted by various areas of the government (which are at minimum 70% of contracts to spacex)… it's just the same privitization scam they've been pulling for 80+ years. They've just shifted government services from serving the people to serving profits for some undeserving twats and their progeny.

  40. That ADELINE thing is already canceled.
    We are "looking" at reusability with 10 millions in budget and "futur plans" for a smallscale non-commercial launcher.
    I'm French, and I can tell you that ESA is pathetic. They have more secured funding and bigger than SpaceX, and deliver so much less… National/European agencies everybody o/

  41. Blue origin is a joke. They are trying to use basic manufacturing processes that they learned in school. But it doesn't work in the real world think outside the box please and move on.

  42. Only 1 1/2 years later, reusability is not a vision any more. But SpaceX is still the only one doing it and most others are a faaar way off while SpaceX is already working on the next technology with Startship.

  43. Elon Musk, did it again, first with Tesla, nobody was interested in electric cars, after Tesla success nobody laughs. Now Reusable Rockets and flyback boosters nobody was interested, after SpaceX did it, now everyone is interested.

  44. Always sort of wondered why a first rocket stage like the S1-C couldn't be made with wings, a tail section, landing gear, and a cockpit with a pilot, and literally be flown back to earth like a shuttle after main engine cutoff and staging…why hasn't this idea been explored?

  45. The mind boggles.
    I wonder if Jeff Bezos could afford to fly his rockets if he paid his taxes and paid his employees a decent wage?

  46. Seems that props for fly back might be the best option, esp if they can be powered electrically via solar panel, or some other method that doesn't require any heavy fuel..Esp since it doesn't really matter how long it takes to get back to it's landing strip after deploying it's payload into space…So what if it takes 4-6 hours instead of 1-2 to get back….It's already done it's job, so the most fuel-weight efficient method to return it to base seems the most intelligent option…..Although chutes might be less weight/less complicated, you're at the mercy of the winds, so a powered option would seem to be the best…Just how to reduce the weight cost of that power plant is the tricky part..It just seems like we are kinda scratching around the real solution, which no one has thought of yet…
    Overall, it's clear that unmanned is the way to go for delivering satellites, etc. to earth orbit..No point risking human lives, not to mention having all that extra weight inherent in anything manned

  47. Curious Droid I Ithik you missed Mig-105 spiral project 1976 .Check out wiki

  48. 5:35.. the characters and flag is mirrored. This confirms two things, aliens exist, they use rare view mirrors, oh and I guess they also read Chinese.

  49. DLR:
    "Hey guys we developed this new awesome two Stage reusable Spaceplane that runs on clean Hydrolox fuel, this can catapult us to the forefront of Space Exploration and show the world what Europe and
    Germany are able to do."
    German public:

  50. Anda , pero no ha echo un hoyo al salir ni llegar y eso que el terreno era mas blando que la lava petrificada de la luna…lo digo por la misión apolo.

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