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SpaceX's Big Falcon Topic 2

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24 minutes ago, The Great Unwashed said:

Sorry, for the double post, but what does everyone make of NASA's decision to conduct workplace safety reviews at SpaceX and Boeing because Musk smoked some Mary Jane on a podcast?

Bridenstine is a royal prick, so does this appear to be a move on his part to push back against SpaceX, or is the announcement par for the course when something like this happens?

I don't think it will interfere with SpaceX's normal launch schedule, but will delay plans for the uncrewed test launch of the Crew Dragon. Just hadn't seen any chatter about it here so was wondering if it just isn't that big a deal

Rumours are that Boeing used some of their political clout to get some politicians to lean on NASA to take these actions. SpaceX is currently ahead of Boeing to take the first commercial crew to the Space Station.

Also, if BFR aka Starship becomes operational Boeings cash cow, the SLS, is going to become an instant dinosaur.

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This is unlikely originating from Bridenstine.  Like FNR said probably Boeing, and from them their bought and paid for congressmen calling up NASA and ordering them to do this.  Bridenstine is very good on commercial space.  Tomorrow he will be announcing commercial contracts to land payloads on the Moon.  This is years before NASA's previous plans to get back to the Moon using traditional cost-plus contracting with the likes of Boeing, Lockheed, Northrup-Grumman, etc. if Congress had ever bothered to allocate money towards it.  I don't know where the money is coming from for this, so the news tomorrow should be a surprise -- but I wonder if they're gutting some other program like Earth Science missions in order to fund it.   But I don't think Bridenstine is as climate-change denying as he is portrayed to be.  Behind the scenes he was instrumental is passing legislation requiring the Defense Department to report on the effects of climate change on military installations and strategic battle plans.  He's said what he said in order to be nominated, then said a different thing in the confirmation hearings.  He is a politician, but at least one that is a big fan of NASA and wants it to actually accomplish things on the human exploration side of its mandate.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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NASA Admin Bridenstine announced a $2.6 billion max program for Commercial Lunar Payload Services -- ie. delivery of payloads to the moon, maybe someday.  There is not an actual order for payload delivery to the Moon, but there might be at some point, and these 9 companies would have an opportunity to bid on contracts:

 

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SSO-A SmallSat Express looking to launch today at about 1:30pm EST

Stream:

 

 

ALSO today:  Osiris-Rex arrives at Asteroid Bennu

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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CRS-16 Dragon Cargo Resupply mission to the ISS
 

Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled so instead of landing on the landing pad at KSC the booster stage ditched into the ocean just offshore.

 

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Elon Musk has confirmed speculation that the new design for Starship and Super Heavy (aka BFR upper and lower stages respectively) are metal, moving away from the carbon composite design SpaceX was previously working on.  No mention of specifics on why but he did imply it was counter-intuitive that the new design would be lighter than the carbon composite.  Probably due to thicknesses and supporting structures required for each, metal at that scale comes out ahead.  But the tanks itself, and structures like the aerodynamic fins, are speculated by SpaceX watchers to remain composites.    We'll see some Starship prototype photos in about 4 weeks!!

One has to wonder if the hull will be a metal alloy, will it be magnetic?  Will it be possible to walk on the outside of it with magnetic boots like Worf and Picard in Star Trek:  First Contact?  :-D

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Next three launches:

GPS III-2 - tomorrow likely (21st and last mission for the year) - expended booster stage to get to a Medium Earth Orbit (20200 km × 20200 km, 55.0°).

Iridium 8 - January 8th.  Landing on JRTI drone ship in Pacific.

DM-1 - January 17th - Dragon Demo-1 uncrewed demo for the Commercial Crew program.  Landing on OCISLY drone ship in Atlantic.

 

 

 

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Maybe it was cheaper to make them from metal, even with the mass penalty. Back in the early 1960s there was a proposal for a truly enormous sea-launched rocket (the Sea Dragon) that would have been made from steel to help keep the cost down. 

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On 12/23/2018 at 12:57 AM, Winter Bass said:

Maybe it was cheaper to make them from metal, even with the mass penalty. Back in the early 1960s there was a proposal for a truly enormous sea-launched rocket (the Sea Dragon) that would have been made from steel to help keep the cost down. 

It's actually about the strength / weight ratio at cryonic temperatures.  Cost of materials isn't a huge part of the price of a rocket..  But it is stainless steel:

It'll remain unpainted and polished to a mirror sheen.  It's going to look so retro!

 

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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14 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I'm intrigued by the idea of a "semi-permanent" base there.

It's worth discussing.  There is a military advantage of placing a base on the Far side of the Moon -- you can shoot down incoming ships coming towards Earth from anywhere else in the Solar System.  I know someone who suggest this might be a reason China wants a Farside base.  You can effectively blockade Earth from competitors out in the solar system mining asteroids or Jovians moons for rare earth elements or lithium -- which China has huge financial interests in.  Just being militarily there would dissuade anyone else doing the same thing to blockade China.  So I'd expect a future militarization of the lunar Farside from China, Russia, the U.S., and Europeans as a mutual deterrent.

This Chang'e 4 mission is on the Lunar South Pole though, and slightly over the edge to the Farside.  China deserves applause for reaching the Farside, but it is far more significant about being at the south pole where the data is suggestive that there are lots of hydrogen rich deposits that are assumed to be water ice there.  I don't know if this mission in particular is capable of determining the truth of that, but it is interesting, being the first rover there.
 

 

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Starhopper completed outer shell assembly at least -- I imagine that have to install all the avionics and test sensors now.  Expected testing to begin in 4-8 weeks.

 

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Blue Origin's New Sheppard 10th launch.

Uncrewed, but inching closer towards crewed launches later this year.  This one contained some NASA payloads delivered to space for a few minutes, but suborbital so they come right back down again.

Their larger New Glenn rocket if successful would be a competitor for Falcon Heavy, but not for Starship which is so much more larger.

Speaking of Starship, the short test vehicle recently assembled for fit checks in Texas toppled over today in high winds.  I guess the benefit of working with steel is it is not terribly difficult to repair compared to aluminum or carbon fiber composites.

 

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