Another Defeat for the Railroads

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Another Defeat for the Railroads
Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, November 5, 2021 12:43 PM

Anyone want to tell me why this isn't being moved in tank cars - we're talking about 10,000 tons of propellant, oxidizer and coolant. On an on going basis. Stuff like this makes me despair

"SpaceX has begun the process of filling the many tanks at its Starship orbital launchpad in Boca Chica, requiring more than a hundred truck deliveries of nitrogen (for cleaning the interior of the tanks as well as cooling the propellants) and oxygen.

In mid-September, SpaceX began delivering cryogenic fluids to Starbase’s orbital tank farm for the first time ever. Instead of propellant, dozens of tanker trucks delivered liquid nitrogen to one or two of the farm’s tanks between mid-September and mid-October. Altogether, around 40-60 truckloads was delivered – only enough to partially fill one tank. That liquid nitrogen also appeared to be piped into two of the farm’s three liquid oxygen tanks, meaning that it may have only been used to clean and proof test them.

Combined, the farm’s seven main tanks should be able to store roughly 2400 tons (5.3M lb) of liquid methane (LCH4), 5400 tons (12M lb) of liquid oxygen (LOx), and 2600 tons (5.7M lb) of liquid nitrogen (LN2). LCH4 and LOx are Starship’s propellant, while LN2 is needed to ‘subcool’ that propellant below its boiling point, significantly increasing its density and the mass of propellant Starships can store.

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Posted by Backshop on Friday, November 5, 2021 1:01 PM

Most gas producers (Praxair, etc.) have their own fleet of trucks and are set up for them.  We don't know whether there is a rail line anywhere near the launch area.  

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Posted by diningcar on Friday, November 5, 2021 1:01 PM

Origin - Destination Please

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 5, 2021 1:53 PM

Destination Boca Chica, TX does not apperar to be served by rail.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!


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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Friday, November 5, 2021 2:07 PM

I don't see a defeat.. What's the traffic projection for this traffic? Is SpaceX a long term program? Cryogenics would be moving in private/leased tank cars anyhow. Which means X would be the ones buying from a producer such as; Airgas, Praxair, etc. with the rails just being the carrier.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Monday, November 8, 2021 9:34 AM

Does the sushi place down the street lose the fight for my food dollar when I have no interest in sushi so I never buy sushi and never will buy sushi?  Are they even interested in selling me sushi?

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Posted by Michael Vomvolakis on Monday, November 8, 2021 10:49 AM

SpaceX is planning on manufacturing the fuel for Starships in Boca Chica, meaning even if rail was an option, there would be no long-term traffic.


One of the primary goals for the Starship program is to bring the cost of spaceflight down to an absolute minimum. This can be accomplished by doing everything nesscary for the rocket to function in the same location.


SpaceX builds Starships in Boca Chica. SpaceX plans on manufacturing the fuel in Boca Chica. SpaceX even plans on landing Starships for reuse on the very same launchpad they launch from in Boca Chica.


When Starship is fully operational, there will be no expensive cross-country moves for anything like what is involved in all other current rockets.


I don't see this as a loss because their was nothing to gain to begin with.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, November 11, 2021 11:49 AM

Michael Vomvolakis
SpaceX is planning on manufacturing the fuel for Starships in Boca Chica

Isn't the proposed fuel cryomethane?  And most of the "manufacturing" selective processing of a stock like LNG?

See my upcoming post about the NPRM "revision" walking back the legalization of LNG by rail (Federal Register v.86n213pp61731ff -- seen new special provision '439' to the rule in force...

I see a number of advantages to delivering cryo fuel or feedstock to the site over sequentially compressing and refining it from pipeline.

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Posted by York1 on Thursday, November 11, 2021 12:28 PM

NASA's space program was spread out not for logistics, but for politics.

The shuttle program had boosters made in Utah, tank made in Louisiana, engines tested in Mississippi, etc.  Florida had launches, Texas had flight control, Alabama had headquarters, etc.

Most of this was due to powerful Congressmen getting projects for their states.

York1 John       

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