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SpaceX's Big Falcon Topic 2

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Musk’s Tesla Roadster will be placed in a transfer orbit to Mars.

Not quite, actually. It seems it is going to a "Mars-like orbit", instead of actually going to Mars. Meaning it will probably go into an orbit that approximates Mars's orbit around the sun, or thereabouts, without actually going to Mars itself.

It is all academic, though, as the purpose of the mission is to test the functionality of the Falcon Heavy. Musk is content if his Tesla Roadster floats through space for a billion years.

As an aside, it is quite remarkable to think that this Tesla Roadster will quite possibly be the last remaining car ever produced by humans. Meaning that it will likely outlast every other vehicle ever produced in the history or mankind. If the Earth is utterly destroyed, this Tesla will still be floating serenely through space, for a visiting alien race to discover long after we are gone.

That is, unless someone else launches another car into space at some point in the future. In which case it will join the Tesla as a billion year reminder of our existence.

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Anyone else disappointed they aren't sending up a teapot? 

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9 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Not quite, actually. It seems it is going to a "Mars-like orbit", instead of actually going to Mars. Meaning it will probably go into an orbit that approximates Mars's orbit around the sun, or thereabouts, without actually going to Mars itself.

It is all academic, though, as the purpose of the mission is to test the functionality of the Falcon Heavy. Musk is content if his Tesla Roadster floats through space for a billion years.

As an aside, it is quite remarkable to think that this Tesla Roadster will quite possibly be the last remaining car ever produced by humans. Meaning that it will likely outlast every other vehicle ever produced in the history or mankind. If the Earth is utterly destroyed, this Tesla will still be floating serenely through space, for a visiting alien race to discover long after we are gone.

That is, unless someone else launches another car into space at some point in the future. In which case it will join the Tesla as a billion year reminder of our existence.

Very cool indeed. I’m assuming it’s still going to take about 3 months to reach the distance where they will then go into the pseudo-Mars orbit? In that sense it will kinda still be like going to Mars. 

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

Very cool indeed. I’m assuming it’s still going to take about 3 months to reach the distance where they will then go into the pseudo-Mars orbit? In that sense it will kinda still be like going to Mars. 

It's technically in that elliptical orbit as soon as it's second stage engines shut down leaving Earth, just on the perihelion side of it.  It's possible the second stage will remain attached to the Tesla and could restart at some point to make adjustments to the flight but I don't see why they'd want to other than to test their equipment.  We don't know anything about the specific orbit it'll be going into, other than it's a sun-orbit not a Mars-orbit, and don't know how fast it is getting to its aphelion.  Could be a fast 3-month trajectory, could be a slow 9-month one, but since the Falcon Heavy has so much thrust, and the Roadster does not mass all that much compared to FH's capacity of 64 metric tonnes to low Earth orbit, it should have a lot of thrust available to go fast there and make headlines regarding how fast to Mars a journey can be.  I think it would be wise to go as fast as possible, to demonstrate a short trip time for future customers, and potential colonists.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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7 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

It's technically in that elliptical orbit as soon as it's second stage engines shut down leaving Earth, just on the perihelion side of it.  It's possible the second stage will remain attached to the Tesla and could restart at some point to make adjustments to the flight but I don't see why they'd want to other than to test their equipment.  We don't know anything about the specific orbit it'll be going into, other than it's a sun-orbit not a Mars-orbit, and don't know how fast it is getting to its aphelion.  Could be a fast 3-month trajectory, could be a slow 9-month one, but since the Falcon Heavy has so much thrust, and the Roadster does not mass all that much compared to FH's capacity of 64 metric tonnes to low Earth orbit, it should have a lot of thrust available to go fast there and make headlines regarding how fast to Mars a journey can be.  I think it would be wise to go as fast as possible, to demonstrate a short trip time for future customers, and potential colonists.

Sorry I meant a sun orbit, just at the distance from the Sun that Mars is at. But yeah the faster the better!

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ZUMA mission launch -- queued up to the 2 minute mark before liftoff.  Rewind to hear the host talk about the details:

 

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Posted (edited)

Conflicting reports: ZUMA mission is either dead in orbit or fell to Earth.  Either way SpaceX performed "nominally" so the problem appears to have been with the satellite, or maybe it was hit by random debris or targetted anti-satellite weapon.

If Zuma has anything to do with gathering intelligence on the North Korea situation, China could have used it's previously demonstrated anti-sat capability on NK's behalf.  Or claims that it failed is deliberate misinformation to cloak what the US government is doing with it.  Wild speculation, but that's all I got right now.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Posted (edited)

I didn't know this before, but the faring on the Zuma mission was built by Northrup Grumman, who also built the Zuma satellite.  There were issues with the faring a few weeks ago, which is why the mission was delayed.  Now it is being said this is the source of the failure -- the faring failed to separate properly.  The video seems to show at least one half of the faring flying away from the upper stage, but no indication of the other half.  On the other hand, it may have been (more likely I think) the payload adapter that was the problem.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Falcon Heavy still on the pad...

Here's a view looking down at it from space!

Info on the wet dress rehearsal today, which might proceed with static fire if the rehearsal goes well:

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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NASA's miniature nuclear reactor apparently tested without a hitch, so that's good news. They designed it for Mars habitation but the applications obviously are universal (eh!?!).

Jace has noticed a lack of attention devoted to the Martian turf. Isn't the sand/dirt going to be like ungodly coarse because of no weathering?

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The Martian regolith is weathered.  Plenty of winds, though weak, but enough to smooth the edges.  It's the Moon that has the abrasive regolith.  Also there is cycles of melting and freezing, especially at the poles (dry ice and water ice), that will weather the rocks.  Past flowing liquid water is a certainty.  Impact-induced melting would release floods of water too even in present times.  The water is there, just got to clear off the top layers of dust and scoop it up by the truck-full.

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On January 6, 2018 at 10:07 AM, The Mance said:

Anyone else disappointed they aren't sending up a teapot? 

^^^Brilliant!!!

 

“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too ...
 
 
I would send some beautiful, functional, shiny new musical instruments like a Spanish Guitar, a Flute, a Sax, a Violin, some Bongo Drums and a Harmonica. Maybe include Neil Pearts sticks and Steven Tylers bandanna while im at it.

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SpaceChampion, what are your thoughts on the electron rocket that launched out of New Zealand yesterday?  Pretty impressive, there are many other companies, not just SpaceX in this game now, which is great IMO.  Obviously SpaceX is the largest and most advanced, but the more companies we have getting into civilian space markets, the better it'll be for all.

 

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21 minutes ago, SerHaHa said:

SpaceChampion, what are your thoughts on the electron rocket that launched out of New Zealand yesterday?  Pretty impressive, there are many other companies, not just SpaceX in this game now, which is great IMO.  Obviously SpaceX is the largest and most advanced, but the more companies we have getting into civilian space markets, the better it'll be for all.

 

Jace knows, for one. She's glad that the old fucks are dying so that our first contact won't be made on the U.S.S. Mountain Dew!

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16 hours ago, SerHaHa said:

 

That's an informative video.  Interesting that they power the engine with batteries that they jettison along the way!  It's interesting but it doesn't seem like it would scale up for a bigger vehicle like Falcon 9 or BFR.  Maybe for the second stage or a spacecraft the BFR could release.

I saw a few days ago a facebook acquaintance announce she's joined Rocket Lab as their new head of launch operations.  Previously she worked at XPrize Foundation with their Google Lunar XPrize program, but before that she was mission operations lead for SpaceX.  I think they have good people who know what they are doing.

I know that financial analysts who track the space industry are anticipating a large niche market for small satellites (<600kg) and microsats (<100kb) and nanosats (<10kg), but these seems to be mostly as constellations of dozens or hundreds of sats working together, so bigger rockets are going to be more economical to fly even as a secondary payload, especially with SpaceX reducing launch costs considerably.  It's just cheaper to carry 100 nanosats up at once than a few at a time.  However there is a tiny window of time between now and when SpaceX theoretically blows up the market, with the huge capacity and cheap cost of BFR (if expectations for that holds), during which companies like Rocket Lab can emerge and bring in revenue long enough to expand their share and build bigger vehicles later.  I don't know what the likelihood of that when it seems you need a big pile of cash like Jeff Bezos has to build the really big rockets and catch up to SpaceX.  But Rocket Lab seems to have done well attracting investors so far.  They're probably less funded than SpaceX was 12 years ago when it started flying (and crashing) the Falcon 1, but their list price is less than the Falcon 1 (which crept upwards in price a few million before the rocket was discontinued).  A cheaper rocket combined with the existence of more companies looking to put up smaller satellites might open that window for them.

One niche for small launchers like Rocket Lab's Electron rocket is they can provide constellations with single sat replacements for dead sats more quickly than waiting for a ride with SpaceX, Blue Origin or another launch provider.  Those constellations need to be put in place first though.  There are companies like Planet that put up flocks of nanosats on the regular basis, and the video even mentioned them (the reference to "dove") as one of Rocket Lab's customers.  When Falcon 1 was flying, SpaceX couldn't really find many customers for it.  All the interest then was for Falcon 9.  Rocket Lab might find the same thing.  The market is different now, but we'll have to see.

If SpaceX's BFR and Blue Origin's New Armstrong expand the scope of the kinds of things we do in space, creating opportunity for whole new businesses like much cheaper space tourism / cruise ships going around the Moon, solar power sats, settlements in orbit, asteroid mining, and Mars settlements, then I can see that instead of the launch market being a limited zero-sum game for aerospace companies today, it could jumpstart a positive-sum space economy that would leave plenty of room for additional groups like Rocket Lab to thrive in.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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The government shutdown affected SpaceX's plans too, because range safety at Pad LC-39A is managed by the Air Force.  So SpaceX's operations crew had to stand down from Falcon Heavy preparations.

However that's all changed now.  SpaceX got back to work in the past couple of days, and today the static fire finally happened.

 

 

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Well, speaking of Rocket Labs, this is what they put into orbit on that launch on Sunday: a big disco ball. Awesome! New Zealand's first contribution to the orbital community is a dance floor ornament.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11981271

Quote

Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck has put an geodesic sphere into orbit which he hopes will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky.

The ''Humanity Star'' is an oversize carbon fibre sphere much like a disco ball that is one metre in diameter and should be visible with the naked eye anywhere in the world.

What is effectively New Zealand's first satellite, was launched on Sunday on the company's Electron rocket which reached orbit carrying other payload as well.

The Humanity Star has 65 highly reflective panels. The sphere spins rapidly, reflecting the sun's light back to Earth, creating a similar effect as a disco ball that can be seen in the night sky.

Rocket Lab's calculations show Humanity Star will likely be visible in the night sky in New Zealand from late February, though it is still settling into its orbit so the company can't pinpoint it just yet.

Beck said he wanted the star to help people understand and improve life on Earth.

''The Humanity Star is a reminder to all on Earth about our fragile position in the universe. The project aims to draw people's eyes up and encourage them to look past day-to-day issues and consider a bigger picture, including the role space will play in the future of our species,'' he said.

"We must come together as a species to solve the really big issues like climate change and resource shortages."

The Humanity Star orbits the Earth every 90 minutes and is visible from everywhere on the planet at different times.

Let us dance, dance, dance into the future.

I hate to bring nuttiness into this thread, but I wonder what the flat-Earthers will make of the sudden appearance of a disco ball in space, that they can see with their own eyes?

Edited by The Anti-Targ

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I don't really see the Business Case for the Electron, to be honest. They cannot compete on a cost/kg to orbit basis with SpaceX, and the one advantage that they claim to offer - which is rapid launch without long waiting lists - will erode pretty quickly once Spacex really hits its stride. To launch their constellation SpaceX will be launching multiple times a week, and with rapid reusability they will have excess rocket cores in abundance in a few years time.

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SpaceX's next launch is the GovSat 1 on an expendable Falcon 9; a previously flown Block 3 variant obsolete once they start flying Block 5, so no need to recover this. Target launch date is Jan 30th.

After that, Falcon Heavy will probably launch some time in early to mid-February.  Apparently tickets are being sold by Kennedy Space Center at a steep price to reserve a good viewing spot.

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

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