SpaceChampion

SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

367 posts in this topic

I don't know what the livestream was suppose to be, but it still hasn't started yet.

SpaceX has reveals it's plan to send a crew to two astronauts around the Moon next year.

 

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We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow. Additional information will be released about the flight teams, contingent upon their approval and confirmation of the health and fitness test results.

 

Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.

 

Later this year, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, we will launch our Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station. This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, without people on board. A subsequent mission with crew is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew. By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions.

 

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the moon and return to Earth. Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral – the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions. This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.

Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.

 

My bet is on James Cameron being the paying customer.

Musk has said it'll cost paying customers approximately the same as going to the ISS.  So about ~$30million/person.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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That's insane, and absolutely amazing. Commercial spaceflight, here we come.

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2 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

My bet is on James Cameron being the paying customer.

I wouldn't have been surprised if it was, but according to the BBC story I was just reading Musk said the customers were not from Hollywood which seems to rule out Cameron.

Musk has said it'll cost paying customers approximately the same as going to the ISS.  So about ~$30million/person

It might be a lot of money, but I imagine he could get quite a few people willing to pay that.

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I wonder if Musk's comment of the price was misunderstood.  If the cost of going to the ISS is $30M per seat, with 7 seats, then a whole flight costs $210M.  The same price to the Moon for two seats would be $105M per seat.  On the other hand, I thought the ISS seat was only $20 million per seat, so that changes the equation.  $140 million to ISS, is in line with what I've seen before.  So $70 million per seat to the Moon.

Guardian link.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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How do they return to Earth? Does the Dragon have heat shields and parachutes for an atmospheric re-entry? 

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Dragon 2 has SuperDraco thrusters for supersonic retropulsion, so it can land on ground, probably the landing pad at KSC.  It does have parachutes as back-up.  It has a heat shield made from a material called PICA-X, which is based on the PICA material NASA invented but improved by SpaceX.  It's fully capable for atmospheric re-entry from Mars, Moon, or anywhere else in the solar system.

The only modification Dragon 2 will need is a communications system.  Other than that, it's base design is ready for a Moon flight, including enough protection from radiation and life support for a week in space.

 

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They're not landing on the moon, just doing a flyby.  Still an awesome trip!

Edited by Ded As Ned

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We're living in the dawn of the commercial space age, which is an incredible thing. Is SpaceX going to do a test run with their personnel around the moon or do the first space tourists get to be the guinea pigs?

 

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Posted (edited)

It's possible to do a test run without going to the Moon, or without humans.  They just have to mimic the reentry profile of the Dragon capsule on return to Earth, go to a really high Earth orbit and reenter at a speed to match or exceed what it would be from a lunar free-return trajectory. 

The going around the Moon part is fairly easy, but I think they'll wait until the paying customers are flying, because presumably being the first since Apollo is what they're paying for.  The living in the capsule for a week part SpaceX can test in Earth orbit.  The engines of the Falcon Heavy they already have a lot of experience with through the Falcon 9.

I think since they have to fly the Block 5 version of Falcon 9 seven times (as ordered by NASA) before putting crew on it for ferrying people to ISS, they'll get a lot of opportunity to test everything out.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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On 2/28/2017 at 11:15 AM, Ded As Ned said:

They're not landing on the moon, just doing a flyby.  Still an awesome trip!

Well, we haven't even had a Human flyby of the Luna in over 40 years.

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Posted (edited)

Apparently this moon mission has been in the works for the past two years, so it's not a sudden idea.

Also, several companies, including SpaceX, have applied to the relevant spectrum regulatory agencies for approximately one gillion satellites in LEO for V-band (~37 to 50 GHz) internet constellations.  Even a small piece of this market would earn SpaceX the billions needed to build it's Mars colony ships.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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What's With All The Commercial Space News?

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A lot of people in the private space sector are annoyed (some are angry) with the Trump folks since they directed NASA to look into the government side (crew on SLS EM-1 flight) of a proposed government/commercial return to the Moon. Then the "Commercial" Spaceflight Federation sold its soul and jumped on board to support SLS. There was a handshake sort of deal in place between the Alabama mafia and the commercial space folks. Apparently that deal fell through.

Suddenly Elon Musk announces his trip to the Moon. Then Virgin Galactic reveals a major restructuring and expansion of its launch plans. Then Robert Bigelow starts talking about his lunar plans. And then someone at Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin leaks something to Jeff Bezos' Washington Post about Jeff Bezos' new Amazon-delivery-to-the-Moon service. Was all of this done (in part) out of annoyance with Trump's people (probably just a little) - or is this finally the break-out in commercial space that so many people have been hoping for?

Regardless of the motivation(s) or timing, a lot of very interesting and important things just happened in commercial space. Too bad their trade group, CSF, has sold out to the Dark Side.

The Alabama mafia mentioned is the congresscritters from that state plus the management of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, who have most at stake with making sure the overly expensive SLS rocket survives.

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Posted (edited)

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin announces its first customer will be Eutelsat in 2021-2022 for the New Glenn rocket, which is comparable to Falcon Heavy (though entirely methalox propellant, and only ~75% of the thrust of a FH.  No definitive numbers of payload mass to LEO or GTO).  And released a video.  This will look familiar.

The main advantage of New Glenn is that it's 2nd stage is more powerful than FH's 2nd stage.

However, a third stage is being designed for New Glenn, potentially giving Blue Origin an advantage on maximum payload mass (~5 to 10 years from now by which time SpaceX would be well into testing of it gigantic ITS ship and booster).  There is rumours of 70mt-100mt range, while FH is 54mT.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Bezos announced a second customer, satellite constellation OneWeb, for an initial five launches on the New Glenn rocket.  This is in addition or supplement to OneWeb's other contracts with Virgin Galactic and Arianespace (launching Russian Soyuz rockets from French Guiana as well as the future Ariane 6).

Not surprising Blue Origin would be booked, OneWeb's CEO hates Musk, and SpaceX's constellation would be a direct competitor.  Also SpaceX was a part of OneWeb sat project under a different name before Musk decided he could do it better.

 

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On 3/8/2017 at 8:28 PM, SpaceChampion said:

Bezos announced a second customer, satellite constellation OneWeb, for an initial five launches on the New Glenn rocket.  This is in addition or supplement to OneWeb's other contracts with Virgin Galactic and Arianespace (launching Russian Soyuz rockets from French Guiana as well as the future Ariane 6).

I'm baffled by these developments. C'mom their first methalox engine is just starting trials (who said it doesn't need any refinement). The rocket exists only in paper and they are hammering contracts!? Who is insuring OneWeb? Is Blue Origin offering the launches for free? I'm in the feeling we are in presence of some kind of bubble. Too much cheap money around, too much.

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Posted (edited)

A legless (since it's expendable) Falcon 9 is set to fly tonight 1:34 AM out at KSC LC-39A.  No landing, first stage goes straight into the ocean after lofting the upper stage carrying the Echostar-23 sat to GEO for South American internet and TV.   This will be one of last Block 3 rockets SpaceX flies.  A couple more in the pipeline though.  The improved Block 5 version, probably ready in the summer, will have sufficient thrust to make landing the first stage for this type of mission possible.

Next launch is a reusable booster, in fact first time a booster will be reflown, to deliver the SES 10 sat later this month, scheduled for March 27th.

 

Update: Launch scrubbed due to weather.  Snowpocalypse strikes again!  (high winds)

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Technical webcast for the launch:

Hosted webcast if you want a little more background info:

 

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Posted (edited)

Apparently the autonomous drone ships that serve as landing platforms for F9 first stages will soon have a robot that will roll out after a landing, and clamp on to the engines to fix the rocket in position for shipping back to port.  That robot is a Roomba like autonomous machine that, consistent with SpaceX's delightfully geeky naming style, will be called the Optimus Prime.  Click on the link to see it partially constructed aboard the Of Course I Still Love You.

 

The next launch, of the SES-10 commercial sat, is targeted for March 29th, using a F9 first stage previously flown to launch the CRS-8 mission to the ISS.  Should this be safely landed a second time, the most important milestone in reusuability will have been achieved, validating SpaceX's economic model.
 

The Dragon v1 spacecraft used on the CRS-10 mission to ferry cargo to the ISS returned to Earth and splashed down in the ocean on Sunday.  On April 9th this year a Dragon v1 capsule will be reflown for the CRS-11 mission.  Another milestone, proving to NASA that Dragons can be reused, and saving SpaceX the cost of building new copies of each capsule for all future cargo missions, of which there's another 9 contracted.  The company should have about 10 used Dragons available to refurbish, though not all will due to saltwater damage to electrical components of some of the early capsules.  Word is SpaceX has 3 or 4 set aside for reflight.

Successful reuse of the Dragon v1 will allow SpaceX to speed up manufacturing of the Dragon v2 capsule for crew ferrying services to ISS... and around the Moon!  Dragon v2's will also be used for cargo missions everywhere from LEO to Mars.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Posted (edited)

I don't know why I've never read this thread before - whenever I feel like the world is a bit shit now I'm going to read about space because it always makes me feel better 

Edited by Theda Baratheon

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