SpaceChampion

SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

351 posts in this topic

Do you see how resources even close to the expenditures of those 10 years 59-69 are being lavished on mars missions now?

It's not just that we might have in principle the knowledge and technology. You have to test such stuff in practice, usually a many times. I am not saying we might not fly to Mars within the next 50 years. But if we could have, why didn't we really bother in the last 40 years? And did not even keep going to the moon to improve our knowledge and tech for manned spaceflight? Why should the resources suddenly drop down that were lacking in the last 40 years? Because Elon Musk is a magician? I have my doubts but with the tight timeframe suggested most of us will hopefully live to see it (or not).

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The fact that it has been half a century since we went to the moon is a coin with two sides. On the one hand, it's true that some experience has been lost, but on the other, think about the technology of the 1960s. The state-of-the-art Apollo Guidance Computer ran at a blazing 2MHz and had an expansive 4KB of RAM and a stunning 74KB of read-only memory. It is literally not possible to find a consumer device that is so slow today: even the watches are hundreds of times faster and have thousands times more storage. They did most of the engineering on paper, drawing the designs by hand and most calculations were also done by a human mind with maybe some rudimentary tools and approximations. Compare this to modern design and engineering wherein one can make a detailed simulation of everything before even touching the physical materials. Likewise, our knowledge of materials science has greatly progressed since then as has our knowledge of chemistry and everything else I can think of related to space travel. The fascinating thing is that they've some how managed to achieve what they did at all -- even given the resources devoted to them, it was an incredible feat.

What Musk is promising is ambitious and I doubt that he'll hit his targets on schedule, but it is not impossible. I think he'll probably be late, but, unless something really unexpected gets in the way, within 5-8 years there should be an unmanned vehicle that lands on Mars and comes back and within 10-12 there will be human beings on Mars.

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If by resources you're talking dollars then Musk is proving the cost of rocketry can be lowered 100x to 1000x.  No one else has done that.  The ideology of how to do these things is 99% of what's been holding it back.  Musk is not a magician, he just sees with more clarity than most in the space industry.

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22 hours ago, Jo498 said:

Do you see how resources even close to the expenditures of those 10 years 59-69 are being lavished on mars missions now?

It's not just that we might have in principle the knowledge and technology. You have to test such stuff in practice, usually a many times. I am not saying we might not fly to Mars within the next 50 years. But if we could have, why didn't we really bother in the last 40 years? And did not even keep going to the moon to improve our knowledge and tech for manned spaceflight? Why should the resources suddenly drop down that were lacking in the last 40 years? Because Elon Musk is a magician? I have my doubts but with the tight timeframe suggested most of us will hopefully live to see it (or not).

The resources that went to the Apollo missions in the 60's were diverted into the Vietnam War and bombing the snot out of Cambodia. 

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6 minutes ago, maarsen said:

The resources that went to the Apollo missions in the 60's were diverted into the Vietnam War and bombing the snot out of Cambodia. 

And between, say 1980 and 2015? There is a long overlap between the Vietnam war and the Space program and a lot of time passed since that war. So this can hardly be a main reason for very little happening in the last 30 years. Except for practical things like satellites and unmanned probes. A simple reason seems to be that those are much cheaper and more efficient for most things we want to actually do in space.

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What I remember of the 70's and early 80's is stagflation.  Again this was a direct result of massive spending on the Vietnam War.  Government spending on anything but social programs  was not politically expedient  for a long time. And yes I am glad to see the resurgence in spending on space matters. 

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One of the interesting points WaitButWhy makes in one of the Musk articles is that rather than asking "Why didn't somebody do it sooner?" or, in this case, "Why didn't they just continue on this path?" it is often more worthwhile to ask why somebody did what was actually done in the first place. The usual reason for doing something does not apply: the unexplored is not something you can summarize with a quarterly profit number. The space race was exactly that: a race. The Soviet Union had beaten the US to several achievements and Americans wanted to catch up. Once it became clear that the Soviets couldn't go much further than probes and satellites, there was no motivation to keep pouring resources into it. That doesn't mean it wasn't worth doing: for humanity as a whole, the overall benefits of pushing boundaries usually outweigh the costs... but these benefits are usually not positioned in such a way that the investors are guaranteed to get a large share of them. If there is no race, then one needs an individual or group willing to gamble substantial resources on a long-term and uncertain outcome.

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What Musk brings to the table is reusable rockets. If every plane exploded shortly after landing, flying would be pretty damn expensive too.

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This is so far just speculation but it looks like SpaceX was experimenting with the descent and actually attempted to hover above the deck of the ship.  With previously successful landings the rocket does a "hoverslam" which is attempting to reach zero velocity right at the moment the landing legs touch down.  Hovering above the deck would give them more flexibility to correct the landing if needed.  But hovering appears to have used up all the oxygen in the tanks, which is the why the smoke is black as it touches down (camera cuts off before it tips over).  Musk confirmed it ran out of oxygen early.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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ok, posting this only 20 minutes before the scheduled launch so unlikely you're seeing this on time; but here's the webcast of the CRS-9 mission launching a Dragon cargo run to the ISS.

http://www.spacex.com/webcast

A beautiful launch and landing.  Look how pristine the landed stage looks:

SpaceX has also picked which first stage booster will be relaunched for the first time.  Spoilers: It was the one from the CRS-8 mission to ISS that was landed in April on the drone ship.  Relaunch in September or October.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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That was beautiful.  Everything going to plan.  Very excited by what they are dong now and for the plans for Mars.

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The Mind inhabiting the Drone Ship has a twitter account:

 

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Nice video of the launch / landing synced with animation tracing the path of the Falcon 9 stages during flight.

 

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SpaceX is simply doing amazing stuff at the moment. I wish Musk would disinvest his time and effort from Tesla, Solar City and other stuff that are not nearly as exciting as his Mars plans.

Anyway, I see they are now requesting permission for three landing pads, in order to land all three cores of the Falcon Heavy simultaneously  in December. Awesome stuff. Because landing one rocket at a time is apparently no longer impressive enough.

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Well, he's merging Tesla and Solar City now, and released the Tesla Plan Part Deux just yesterday.  More EVs in additional vehicle classes (another SUV, pick-ups, semis, buses), ride-sharing making owning a Tesla vehicle pay for itself, something about making the Gigafactory as a product (are they selling the design to other companies, building them and selling the physical plants or what?  Most likely I think perhaps making Gigafactories as solar powered factories renting out space to other manufacturers, with Tesla becoming a utility). 

I think it is plenty exciting, and I'm sure his personal wealth in Tesla will eventually be reinvested into furthering the Mars plan some day.  I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla also will develop surface transportation and energy infrastructure for Mars colonies some day.  With SpaceX also intending to enter the satellite internet market, his Earth focused businesses are very much part of the equation to make Mars happened financially.

Not long now to wait for his talk at the IAC meeting revealing the BFR / MCT transportation architecture for Mars.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Launch of a commercial satellite tonight by a Falcon 9, with a landing on the drone ship scheduled.  Lift-off scheduled for 1:26AM EDT (526GMT) with launch coverage starting 20 minutes before.  Watch here. Or here.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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That they managed to return the first stage from GTO is very impressive.

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Satellite operator SES will be flying it's SES-10 satellite aboard a Falcon-9 with reuse of a previously flown first stage.  SES is a long time customer of SpaceX and was its first to contract a satellite launch on F9 back in 2013.  Flight will be some time in the late September to mid-October period.  The reflight of the first stage will be the one that landed on April 8 after sending a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.  SES probably received at least a 30% discount for the flight, based on comments SpaceX officials made earlier in the year, though SES had been pressing for a much steeper discount.

The Raptor methane/oxygen engine is currently undergoing testing at SpaceX's MacGregor test site in Texas.  Should be getting video in a few months about it in operation.

Elon Musk's presentation of the MCT design will be on September 27th at the 67th International Astronautical Congress, this year in Mexico.  Titled: "Colonizing Mars - A deep technical presentation on the space transport architecture needed to colonize Mars".

This guy's voice is soporific, but good video reviewing what is known about the MCT so far, though the images he uses were just for convenience of having something there, they are not at all correct -- the MCT lander will not have wings, so ignore it:

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Ugh.  Amidst fueling up oxygen for a static fire test of the Falcon 9 with commercial payload scheduled to launch Saturday, an explosion destroyed the payload, the F9 rocket (not a previously landed one) and damaged equipment on the launch pad.  Too early to tell what was the ultimate cause but Musk speculated it was something a problem with the fueling equipment on the pad.

For NASA it would be a year or two to get back in business, but for SpaceX they can figure out the problem in days and be ready to launch again in 2-6 months.  Main problem is damage to the launch pad 40.  The other pad, 39A, is a month or so away from being ready for launch Falcon Heavy's first flight, so perhaps that will be accelerated and use for Falcon 9 launches.

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