Space-X DRAGON (manned/unmanned) capsule.

fredymac

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Well that explains Spacex. What about Boeing? Given they are not recovering from an exploded booster I would think they would have flown both test and crewed launch in 2017. I have to agree that a rushed development tempo can frazzle nerves. It depends on removing extraneous, non-value added work and eliminating "success based" scheduling. Forcing senior management to spend time in the lab and on the production floor might help.


From the article:
Targeted Flight Dates

Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: November 2017
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2: May 2018
 

blackstar

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fredymac said:
Well that explains Spacex. What about Boeing?
Go dig around on that a bit. Boeing got a later start than SpaceX. Plus, they are a more conservatively-run company. They don't take the risks that SpaceX does.

Somebody who works with both SpaceX and ULA on rocket launches explained the two companies--and their relationship with NASA--very clearly: ULA gets paid more NOT to take risks, SpaceX gets paid LESS to take risks.
 

fredymac

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30 seconds of digging got this.

https://www.nasa.gov/content/commercial-crew-program-the-essentials/

Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) Contract
CCtCap is the second phase of a two-phase certification plan for commercially built and operated integrated crew transportation systems. Two FAR-based, firm fixed-price contracts were awarded in September 2014 following an open competition. Through its certification efforts, NASA will ensure the selected commercial transportation systems meet the agency’s safety and performance requirements for transporting NASA crew to the International Space Station. NASA awarded a total of $6.8 billion under CCtCap contracts. CCtCap Source Selection Statement.

Boeing - $4.2 billion
SpaceX - $2.6 billion
=========================

I remember watching the award announcement. Where are you getting "later start" from? I was curious why Boeing got such a larger award amount. At the time I figured Nasa had some scoring criteria in evaluating the bids and the top scored bid simply got a bigger amount. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing just cost more for doing the same amount of work over the same contract schedule period. Both Boeing and Spacex were initially targeting 2017 for manned test flights.

If Spacex achieves its objectives, it will be delivering a capability at least equal to Boeing at 62% of the price at roughly the same schedule. If the final version of the Dragon achieves powered landing, it will introduce a level of technology that operationally and economically advances the state of the art.
 

blackstar

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Later start meaning that SpaceX was adapting systems already in use for Commercial Cargo. Boeing did not have a CC contract, so they were starting from zero, SpaceX was starting from 1. You wouldn't expect them to have the exact same availability dates.
 

Michel Van

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blackstar said:
fredymac said:
Well that explains Spacex. What about Boeing?
Go dig around on that a bit. Boeing got a later start than SpaceX. Plus, they are a more conservatively-run company. They don't take the risks that SpaceX does.

Somebody who works with both SpaceX and ULA on rocket launches explained the two companies--and their relationship with NASA--very clearly: ULA gets paid more NOT to take risks, SpaceX gets paid LESS to take risks.
I guess that making there launch rocket Man rated, play also role in the delay, special for a "conservatively-run company"
For moment SpaceX do testing on the Falcon 9 FT vehicle for Man-rated flight
while United Launch Alliance manage to demonstrate that there "Emergency Detection System" for Atlas and Deltas work

Certain Boeing has backup plan if ULA not able to make Atlas and Deltas Man-rated: order a Man-rated Falcon FT at SpaceX...
 

fredymac

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Not to drag this out too much but I just wanted to fill in the blanks. Boeing received early commercial crew funding that should have helped. Spacex did a drastic re-design which basically put them back at square 1. I would say company culture and how it affects operational tempo is more at play than start dates.
 

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Grey Havoc

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Grey Havoc said:
http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14652026/spacex-red-dragon-spacecraft-mars-mission-2020

EDIT: On another note: http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14634940/nasa-spacex-dragon-capsule-falcon-9-launch-raven
 

blackstar

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Grey Havoc said:
Grey Havoc said:
http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14652026/spacex-red-dragon-spacecraft-mars-mission-2020

EDIT: On another note: http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14634940/nasa-spacex-dragon-capsule-falcon-9-launch-raven
Thanks for both those links. A few random comments:

-Red Dragon was tweeted by Elon Musk in April 2016. The 2018 launch window was always ambitious. Building new, even relatively simple spacecraft takes 3-5 years. Unless they already had a substantial head start on it, the launch date was not just optimistic, but unrealistic.

-I was in a briefing last fall by a SpaceX Red Dragon guy and he was always very careful when discussing the schedule. That briefing convinced me that they were going to miss 2018. My guess is that they knew months before that they were not going to meet the launch window. The fact that they were not showing any hardware photos was also telling.

-I know NASA Mars engineers who fully expected Red Dragon to fail on its first mission but were still looking forward to the data. I think that the chances of success have now improved because they have more time to catch problems. But the probability of success is still not very high.

-All those comments aside, I still think it is great that they're going to try this. NASA does not have the money to do technology development like this. SpaceX is going to do it on their own dime. That's great. We need more of that.
 

Cifu

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blackstar said:
-Red Dragon was tweeted by Elon Musk in April 2016. The 2018 launch window was always ambitious. Building new, even relatively simple spacecraft takes 3-5 years. Unless they already had a substantial head start on it, the launch date was not just optimistic, but unrealistic.
The last Cargo Dragon (or Dragon v1, if you like) finished less than a year. Okay, the first one needed more than 18 month. But still, we are talking about a Dragon 2 (or Dragon v2) spaceship, with only minor modifications for Mars landing.

blackstar said:
-I was in a briefing last fall by a SpaceX Red Dragon guy and he was always very careful when discussing the schedule. That briefing convinced me that they were going to miss 2018. My guess is that they knew months before that they were not going to meet the launch window. The fact that they were not showing any hardware photos was also telling.
Actually the first Dragon space capsule mockup showed around 2005. So the hardware photo means anything? It's do not.
Personally I believe the main reason of the slip is not the spaceship, but rather the Falcon Heavy...


blackstar said:
-I know NASA Mars engineers who fully expected Red Dragon to fail on its first mission but were still looking forward to the data. I think that the chances of success have now improved because they have more time to catch problems. But the probability of success is still not very high.
Yet they can testing hordes of new technologies. New rocket, interplanetary flight, interplanetary communication, aerobreaking around the Mars, parachute testing in the Mars atmosphere, landing, etc.
If they make a test flight (even with small chance of succes), that's bring informations where they need to rethink the original concepts.

blackstar said:
-All those comments aside, I still think it is great that they're going to try this. NASA does not have the money to do technology development like this. SpaceX is going to do it on their own dime. That's great. We need more of that.
Agree. But need to point out how this started. The first two Falcon 1 payed by the Darpa, the NASA bring a big pile of money to the SpaceX. Still, we seen how those money are worth it.
But all-in-all, I prefer Jeff Bezos over Musk. Much less overly optimistic promises...
 

sferrin

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Cifu said:
But all-in-all, I prefer Jeff Bezos over Musk. Much less overly optimistic promises...
What he's doing is much less difficult. Now when they get the big rocket. . .(of course SpaceX is also looking at a BIG rocket. Would be awesome if they both made it into service.)
 

blackstar

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Cifu said:
But still, we are talking about a Dragon 2 (or Dragon v2) spaceship, with only minor modifications for Mars landing.

SNIP

Yet they can testing hordes of new technologies. New rocket, interplanetary flight, interplanetary communication, aerobreaking around the Mars, parachute testing in the Mars atmosphere, landing, etc.
The first thing you wrote is not compatible with the other thing you wrote--"minor modifications" is not the same as "testing hordes of new technologies."

SpaceX has indicated that the first Red Dragon would primarily be intended to land and not really do anything else. But it is still going to need a deep space communications system and other equipment. Thermal effects are different for a Mars mission, you need longer life components, more redundancy, etc. It's not extremely difficult, but it's not simple. Putting that stuff together and doing systems integration takes time.



Update/edit: I should have distinguished between new technology and new hardware. The only new technology for Red Mars would be the supersonic retropropulsion. That's the important thing. For the rest of the mission, they don't need new technology, just hardware. For instance, deep space communications equipment already exists, they just need to build something. Same with the rest of the stuff.
 

FighterJock

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Re: SpaceX Grasshopper: VTVL Falcon 9 1st stage RLV

According to NASA the docking of the Dragon capsule will be at 04:30 tomorrow morning EST in the US. That makes it 09:30 GMT UK time.
 

ZacYates

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Two people have paid "significant" deposits to make a weeklong circumlunar flight aboard an automated Dragon next year: http://www.spacex.com/news/2017/02/27/spacex-send-privately-crewed-dragon-spacecraft-beyond-moon-next-year
 

Grey Havoc

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Trying to beat that proposed NASA circumlunar mission to the punch, so to speak?
 

Archibald

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I don't think it is a good idea to replace an impossible-schedule mission (Red Dragon) with an equally hard mission (lunar Dragon).

And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.

IMHO if Red Dragon didn't made it to 2018, neither will manned lunar Dragon.

Now of course, a refurbished and unmanned Dragon 1 could do it - put a camera on the window as NASA did with EFT-1 Orion in 2014.
 

blackstar

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Archibald said:
I don't think it is a good idea to replace an impossible-schedule mission (Red Dragon) with an equally hard mission (lunar Dragon).

And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.

IMHO if Red Dragon didn't made it to 2018, neither will manned lunar Dragon.

Now of course, a refurbished and unmanned Dragon 1 could do it - put a camera on the window as NASA did with EFT-1 Orion in 2014.
The easiest interpretation is that this is SpaceX trying to position itself to get a government contract to do this task. Look at the timing, and look at the statement they released and how it mentions that "if NASA wants to purchase this circumlunar mission instead..." This is SpaceX saying "Cancel SLS and give us the job."
 

TomS

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As soon as they start building their rockets in California, Utah, Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, I'm sure Congress will approve that idea.
 

blackstar

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TomS said:
As soon as they start building their rockets in California, Utah, Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, I'm sure Congress will approve that idea.
I think they're aiming for the administration to do this. Getting it past Congress is another thing entirely.
 

Dragon029

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Archibald said:
And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.
I'm not sure about that; Red Dragon would have deviated considerably from the Dragon 2 capsule - they 100% needed the propulsive landing via Draco rockets to work, and would likely have needed to develop / integrate a supersonic drogue chute to reduce burn requirements. On top of that, they were going to be filling it with scientific equipment that had yet to be determined (which would have power, thermal and weight/balance issues), and which might have required additional apertures or hatches designed into the capsule. Lastly, they had to find a location to send Red Dragon (for scientific and safe landing purposes), with the capsule potentially requiring an autonomous landing-zone selection system to avoid landing on a boulder, etc.

With Lunar Dragon, they're taking a capsule that they've already been working on for years to accommodate a human crew, slinging it around the moon and then having it land either in the ocean or back at the cape, where if the Dracos fail, they have a redundant parachute that'll give a safe landing thanks to our thick atmosphere. Plus, if the launch gets aborted due to a hurricane or an issue with Falcon Heavy, they can launch again in 27 days. With Mars, they have to wait another 778 days for Mars opposition.
 

blackstar

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Dragon029 said:
Archibald said:
And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.
I'm not sure about that; Red Dragon would have deviated considerably from the Dragon 2 capsule - they 100% needed the propulsive landing via Draco rockets to work, and would likely have needed to develop / integrate a supersonic drogue chute to reduce burn requirements. On top of that, they were going to be filling it with scientific equipment that had yet to be determined (which would have power, thermal and weight/balance issues), and which might have required additional apertures or hatches designed into the capsule. Lastly, they had to find a location to send Red Dragon (for scientific and safe landing purposes), with the capsule potentially requiring an autonomous landing-zone selection system to avoid landing on a boulder, etc.
Responding to this part first.

Red Dragon would have been minimal payload. I heard a SpaceX official who was directly involved in RD give a presentation last fall where he said that they were not planning on much payload at all, the primary goal was simply getting it to the surface. They wanted to minimize any other requirements, including batteries and comms.

Now Gwynne Shotwell has said that they are "in discussions" with some people who may want to put some instruments on RD. But I would assume that their default position is to keep everything to a minimum. It's a tough mission, so they don't want to make it tougher.

One additional thing: when this guy gave his presentation last fall, he was very cautious about the 2018 launch date. It was pretty clear reading between the lines that they did not expect they could meet that, but were not ready to announce the slip. There is a pattern to how SpaceX misses deadlines--it is not just that they miss deadlines, but they wait until the last possible moment before announcing a deadline slip. I think this is a management technique so that everybody keeps working hard trying to meet a deadline even if it is unrealistic.
 

sferrin

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Dragon029 said:
Archibald said:
And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.
I'm not sure about that; Red Dragon would have deviated considerably from the Dragon 2 capsule - they 100% needed the propulsive landing via Draco rockets to work, and would likely have needed to develop / integrate a supersonic drogue chute to reduce burn requirements. On top of that, they were going to be . . .
Did they already cancel this then? ???
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
Dragon029 said:
Archibald said:
And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.
I'm not sure about that; Red Dragon would have deviated considerably from the Dragon 2 capsule - they 100% needed the propulsive landing via Draco rockets to work, and would likely have needed to develop / integrate a supersonic drogue chute to reduce burn requirements. On top of that, they were going to be . . .
Did they already cancel this then? ???
Pushed from the 2018 launch window back to 2020.
 

blackstar

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Dragon029 said:
Archibald said:
And yes they are equally hard, because lunar Dragon is manned - Red Dragon wasn't, but distance was much greater.
I'm not sure about that; Red Dragon would have deviated considerably from the Dragon 2 capsule -

SNIP

With Lunar Dragon, they're taking a capsule that they've already been working on for years to accommodate a human crew

SNIP
Your comments are similar to comments I've seen over the years when people try to characterize what SpaceX is doing, but I think they're overly simplistic.

The gist of the argument seems to go like this: SpaceX is already building a crewed vehicle that can do X, Y and Z, so adapting it to do A, B, or C is "relatively easy."

I've seen people make that argument about the original Dragon cargo capsule, for instance, claiming that it was already pressurized, already had rendezvous and docking equipment and other stuff, and really "only" needed to test an escape system and then it would be ready to carry crew. Except that SpaceX later announced that they would have to do some substantial updates--pretty much developing a new spacecraft--to meet the crew launch requirements.

I saw people make the same argument about Dragon with regards to sending humans (not simply an empty cargo hold) to Mars. People claimed that Dragon with the SuperDracos "already" had that capability.

(As an aside, I also saw people make the same claim about Falcon Heavy--that since it was "simply" three Falcon 9's bolted together, it would be easy to do.)

And now you're pretty much making the same argument regarding this circumlunar mission, that it is relatively straightforward because they've already got most of it done. (Except that they have never launched anything out that far, an operational capability that they might want to demonstrate robotically before doing it with humans.)

Several of these claims have already been essentially disproven by experience: if these things were as easy and straightforward to do as outsiders claimed, then why the delays? Why was Falcon Heavy promised in 2013 and not flown yet? Why hasn't a crewed Dragon flown yet? Why is RD delayed? I think the answer to all of these questions is that none of this stuff is as simple and straightforward as the outsiders claim. The hardware for each of these missions has to be specialized and that takes time to do. Couple that with the fact that SpaceX already has a pretty full plate, with trying to recover from the accidents, trying to launch a backlog of commercial customers, trying to get reusability for their first stage up and running, trying to develop new launch sites, and trying to develop the crewed Dragon. That's a lot of stuff to do and adding on things like Red Dragon and now this circumlunar mission is probably straining their capacity.

I'm not dissing SpaceX. I'm pointing out that claims that their existing hardware can "easily" be stretched to do things that it was not originally designed to do are inaccurate. They have to invest in those new things and build in the capability, and that takes people hours and money.
 

Dragon029

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To be clear, I'm not saying that launching people around the moon less than 2 years from now, on a rocket that's never flown before is easy or likely to happen on schedule.

What I was trying to argue is that even though Red Dragon's 2018 date was tenuous, there's still a good chance that (if reality broke and Mars stayed in opposition) it could have occurred later in 2018, or in 2019. With Lunar Dragon, they'll have literally dozens of windows to launch this mission before Red Dragon gets its next chance.

Yes, having humans on board adds considerable engineering challenge, but remember that this isn't NASA or a government contract; this is two wealthy individuals who seem like the type who would be happy to accept risks and sign waivers.

Having fatalities doesn't look good to investors and other potential customers, but we didn't stop using the Space Shuttle after Challenger, nor did the Soviets / world stop using the Soyuz after Soyuz 11, and hell, even Virgin Galactic is continuing with their mission.

So again, will Lunar Dragon happen on schedule in 2018? Probably not. Will it see delays on the scale of Red Dragon (or of Falcon Heavy)? I think the chances are low and that it'd take something like a repeat of AMOS-6 (in terms of a disaster with a very difficult-to-diagnose cause).
 

blackstar

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Dragon029 said:
Yes, having humans on board adds considerable engineering challenge, but remember that this isn't NASA or a government contract; this is two wealthy individuals who seem like the type who would be happy to accept risks and sign waivers.
So there are actually limits to that--it might not be entirely up to them. I have heard that some high wealth individuals who run corporations actually have clauses in their contracts that limit what they can do, including certain risks. The reason is that if the health of the company is linked to the health of the individual, the company does not want that individual jumping out of airplanes or racing Formula One cars. Similarly, although a person might be able to sign a waiver that says "If you injure me in a launch accident I promise not to sue you," the waiver may not extend to that person's heirs or immediate family and they may be able to sue. Of course, it all depends on the individual, but in fact it might be more complicated for some wealthy people to take extreme risks than for non-wealthy people, because a lot more other people have a stake in their health (and wealth).

I heard that come up a number of years ago during discussion of space tourism. Yeah, there were wealthy space tourists, but there were also other people who probably wanted to go and could have afforded it but who were prevented from doing so for various reasons.
 

blackstar

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Dragon029 said:
SNIP

1-What I was trying to argue is that even though Red Dragon's 2018 date was tenuous, there's still a good chance that (if reality broke and Mars stayed in opposition) it could have occurred later in 2018, or in 2019. With Lunar Dragon, they'll have literally dozens of windows to launch this mission before Red Dragon gets its next chance.

SNIP

2-Having fatalities doesn't look good to investors and other potential customers, but we didn't stop using the Space Shuttle after Challenger, nor did the Soviets / world stop using the Soyuz after Soyuz 11, and hell, even Virgin Galactic is continuing with their mission.

3-So again, will Lunar Dragon happen on schedule in 2018? Probably not. Will it see delays on the scale of Red Dragon (or of Falcon Heavy)? I think the chances are low and that it'd take something like a repeat of AMOS-6 (in terms of a disaster with a very difficult-to-diagnose cause).
1-We agree that they'll have a lot of launch windows whereas the Mars windows open only every 26 months. I'd note that SpaceX did say the end of 2018. That's actually very ambitious when you consider all the things that they need to do before then. That includes things that SpaceX did not acknowledge in their announcement. (For instance, they have never sent anything beyond GTO, and so they might want to do an unmanned test flight on the same trajectory first.)

2-Yes, we agree on that. However, I'd also add that there have been companies that took big risks (sometimes for really stupid reasons) and were destroyed as a result. Look at ValuJet. I only bring that up to point out that people talk about companies willing to take risks that government agencies will not, and while that is true, it is only true in some instances. Similarly, some failures that might sink a government program might not sink a company, but the same is true in reverse as well--Challenger did not stop NASA, but suffocating James Cameron during his flight around the Moon might ruin SpaceX.

3-I'm not sure that your comparison of the possible delays is an apples to apples comparison. The reason is that although missing a launch window for Mars is a 2-year delay and missing a launch window for the Moon is a 1-month delay, the real issue is not the windows themselves but the programmatic factors. The lunar Dragon has to have a life support system that will not fail. That might take years to develop, so they could blow through many lunar launch windows.
 

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http://www.universetoday.com/133549/begins-red-dragon-delayed-2-years-2020/

"And whenever Red Dragon does liftoff, it will carry a significant “science payload” to the Martian surface, Shotwell told me at the pad 39A briefing.

“As much [science] payload on Dragon as we can,” Shotwell said. Science instruments would be provided by “European and commercial guys … plus our own stuff!”

There's just a bunch of stuff in this article that really has me scratching my head. For one thing, the landing alone is really difficult. So why would they want to complicate the entire mission by adding payloads? Also, stating that they are going to use a recycled Dragon for the Red Dragon mission seems pretty dubious. RD is going to require a whole bunch of special mods (like comm, power, etc.). You'd really want something that you built up from scratch, not something you need to alter. All of this sounds like stuff that will prevent a 2020 launch.

So last fall we got a briefing on Red Dragon from a SpaceX guy. He was very cautious in what he said. He would not firmly commit to the 2018 launch date, which convinced me that they were not going to make that date. But he also said some reassuring things, like they would not put any science payload on the vehicle because that would require power, and power meant more batteries, and batteries meant more mass, and that would complicate the entire system. (The power system was going to be designed to last from Mars arrival to landing and a little beyond, but that was it--and it was primarily to power telemetry, not any additional systems.) Plus, there would be no holes cut in the vehicle, etc. But now Shotwell is talking about putting science payloads on Red Dragon. That complicates the design.

And... well, you can see the iterations here. If they pushed RD from 2018 to 2020 because they needed to concentrate on other things like Crew Dragon and Falcon Heavy, then they seem to be negating that schedule gain by adding complexity to the mission. Simply LANDING is going to be tough enough, so they should be going as simple as possible. Prediction: they will miss 2020 as well.
 

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http://www.spudislunarresources.com/blog/a-commercial-human-flight-to-the-moon/
 

Grey Havoc

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https://science.slashdot.org/story/17/07/19/2035232/spacex-pulls-the-plug-on-its-red-dragon-plans
https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-appears-to-have-pulled-the-plug-on-its-red-dragon-plans/

Michel Van said:
Here Interview of Elon Musk at ISS 2017 Conference 7/19/17
He explain why Dragon 2 abandon land landing and Red Dragon will have a different landing system for Mars.
Also about boring Tunnels in L.A. (people are delight about that project), Tesla and Space Industrialization

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqYPmshyCDU
 

Michel Van

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yep, but it's replaced by something bigger

In response to journalist Jeff Foust of SpaceNews,
Elon Musk replied on Twitter that SpaceX chose to cut development of propulsive landing for Dragon 2, and thus Red Dragon,
in order to jump directly into exploration of propulsively landing “a vastly bigger ship” on Mars.
Musk original Message on Twitter
Plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship
Let's call that design temporary "Red Godzilla"

source
http://www.teslarati.com/spacex-skipping-red-dragon-vastly-bigger-ships-mars-confirms-musk/
 

Grey Havoc

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Michel Van said:
Let's call that design temporary "Red Godzilla"
That would be a handy reporting name until we get a more official designation on it. ;D
 
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