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SpaceX (general discussion)

RanulfC

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RanulfC

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(Note even though I have some "issues" vis-a-vis Musk's plans this must be said)
What's he doing that doesn't meet your approval? :confused:
How long do you have? :)

Really, he's in a hurry to get to Mars and getting to Mars will make us an "multiplanetary" which is bunk. RHH had it right and for the right reason; Once you're in orbit you're half way to anywhere. So in essence you need to get the cost TO ORBIT down and then work on the rest. Starship, (the actual one) and BFR are aimed and designed for getting lots of people and equipment to Mars but that doesn't directly translate into lower cost to orbit. Especially if it, (and it would) saturates the market too early. It is essentially the same problem(s) I had with Mars Direct because it IS Mars Direct only with a private spacecraft.

People on Mars, (or for that matter on the Moon) don't actually matter in the short term. People in LEO doing things IN LEO and making a reason to lower the cost to get to LEO are what matter. IMO, (so take it for what it's worth :) ) you really don't even need it to be initally 'economical' to have people in orbit 24/7/365 because the question of "what do they do to make money" isn't correct. The question is more "I have 20 people in orbit all the time, what do YOU need and what are you going to pay me to do it?" is more accurate.

I fully understand Elon's desire to go to Mars before his time, but I don't want to go to Mars or the Moon... I want to go to Mars AND the Moon, have a 'summer' home in the clouds of Venus, see Jupiter rise on Ganymede, etc, etc. That's not going to happen unless we build up a robust and sustainable interplanetary transportation system and 'direct' flights isn't going to do that.

Beyond that I could complain about tossing the Falcon series once Starship come "on-line" (mostly because I'm not convinced it WILL come on-line in the way he's proposing ATM) and some design and operational kibitzing but in general I'm eager to see what he and the others actually have planned and more importantly what they actually accomplish. Like many people whom actually are DOING something I'll toss in my 0.2 cents when I can but I'm not going to try and joggle anyones elbow because I've got enough issues making my house payment let alone trying to privately finance a space program. That will NOT prevent me from having my opinions though :)

Randy
(Edit: And thanks for asking because I've been 'daydreaming' what I'd say if asked on this for the better part of the day so now I've got THAT off my chest I'm better :D )
 

fredymac

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If we're tossing 2 cents on the table here's mine.

If Starship/Superheavy succeeds, NASA's entire manned space program will be rendered obsolete. The contrast with a fully reusable launch system equivalent to the SLS in capacity will make it impossible to ignore the cost comparison. Public interest will be galvanized by a successful launch and the single digit $Millions vs multiple $Billions in launch cost should finally spark a political re-ordering in future space development.

There is nothing SLS can offer that SHS couldn't do at a 100x savings. SHS is intended to put 100-125 tons into LEO in a fully reusable configuration. Cost to orbit could surpass the $100/pound target. With orbital refueling, Starship can carry 100 tons to the moon, land, and then return to Earth.

Picturing the contrast between an Orion capsule heading to the Moon with a Starship coasting next to it is both comical and poignant because it is what is at stake. If Musk prevails, he will wipe out 50 years of frustration.
 

Michel Van

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The coming Years will be very interesting

Next Starship/Superheavy and follow up 18 meter ø version.

We have Blue Origin New Glenn what Jeff Bezos labels as "Medium" launch rocket
So we will see with New Armstrong something in payload size of NOVA class lift rockets

Next to that are India study Saturn V size booster

And China do R&D on Long March 9 a Saturn V size rocket
While China private space flight industry follow SpaceX success, special Link Space.

i make since years the joke that if NASA astronauts land again on Moon.
They will be backseat passengers on SpaceX/Blue Origin spaceships,
while needing a visa for Chinese passport check on Moon Arrival
and go then to stay overnight in India lunar resort...

...Seems my joke stops to be funny
 

RanulfC

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If we're tossing 2 cents on the table here's mine.

If Starship/Superheavy succeeds, NASA's entire manned space program will be rendered obsolete. The contrast with a fully reusable launch system equivalent to the SLS in capacity will make it impossible to ignore the cost comparison. Public interest will be galvanized by a successful launch and the single digit $Millions vs multiple $Billions in launch cost should finally spark a political re-ordering in future space development.

There is nothing SLS can offer that SHS couldn't do at a 100x savings. SHS is intended to put 100-125 tons into LEO in a fully reusable configuration. Cost to orbit could surpass the $100/pound target. With orbital refueling, Starship can carry 100 tons to the moon, land, and then return to Earth.

Picturing the contrast between an Orion capsule heading to the Moon with a Starship coasting next to it is both comical and poignant because it is what is at stake. If Musk prevails, he will wipe out 50 years of frustration.
As always "IF" is the biggest two letter word in the world :)

In context though SLS was never anything BUT a political creature mandated by Congress and solely supported and required by them. That NASA "may" be able to make something out of it in the end is pretty much a testament to making lemonade when given a lemon. That NASA has managed to get some actual progress out of it AND avoided Congress trashing that progress by the usual means speaks volumes about how much NASA has grown since Apollo.

YMMV as usual :)

Randy
 

RanulfC

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The coming Years will be very interesting

Next Starship/Superheavy and follow up 18 meter ø version.
Cart/horse, chicken/eggs and all that lets get to the point where the first production Starship and Superheavy fly shall we? ;)

We have Blue Origin New Glenn what Jeff Bezos labels as "Medium" launch rocket
So we will see with New Armstrong something in payload size of NOVA class lift rockets
Same and lets keep in mind it has yet to be shown there's either the need or market support for that much payload.

Really, I know I'm a voice in the wilderness here but can we keep in mind that despite it being almost 60 years since Gagarin flew to orbit we as species and technology are still at a very, VERY early stage of space flight. While it's pretty easy to look at the number and make the claim that aircraft development in the same amount of time went from flying a total of 120ft to supersonic and transcontinental flight the comparison is totally false. We are in reality closer in progress on the operational and economic side to the early post WWI years with some of the right technology but far from an assured or steady market or economic situation. We had the capability in the late 1940s/early 1950s to build and operate 747/C5 class aircraft but didn't for sound economic and operational reasons. The same applies here.

Next to that are India study Saturn V size booster

And China do R&D on Long March 9 a Saturn V size rocket
The question though is do we really NEED a Saturn V class rocket and payload capability or do we need regular and inexpensive access to orbit. The two while not mutually exclusive are also not automatically the same for a reason.

While China private space flight industry follow SpaceX success, special Link Space.

i make since years the joke that if NASA astronauts land again on Moon.
They will be backseat passengers on SpaceX/Blue Origin spaceships,
while needing a visa for Chinese passport check on Moon Arrival
and go then to stay overnight in India lunar resort...
...Seems my joke stops to be funny[/QUOTE]

While the 'joke' was probably not really funny from the start, (love you anyway man ;) ) the question is more "when" and "if" since we can't assume they would go to the Moon without far more economic and other incentives that currently exist. Again, (and I can't believe I'm saying/writing this but going it over and over again it actually IS the best way to put it) it's NOT the size of your launcher/payload that is important but what you can do with it economically and operationally.

As I noted before Elon has an agenda that pretty much requires this approach but that in no way makes it the BEST or even the smartest way to do things. If it works as planned and blows open space I will have no heartburn or complaints. If it doesn't there's going to be another 'space-crash' and I've been through enough of those already to want to see another one.

Randy
 

RanulfC

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And somewhere in Texas we hear the conversation:
"Is it on backwards? It looks backwards."
"Look we only put "This End Up" on it, who's got the plans? Where are the plans?"
"The plans only say "write This End Up here" on the drawings, does it really look backwards?"

Elon: "Looks great folks!"

"Ok, it's good" (sighs of relief all around) :)

Randy
 

Flyaway

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Thing is it’s very easy to sit here and criticise what Musk is doing, but on the other hand I don’t see anyone else trying to build a reusable spaceship.
 

Archibald

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As I noted before Elon has an agenda that pretty much requires this approach but that in no way makes it the BEST or even the smartest way to do things. If it works as planned and blows open space I will have no heartburn or complaints. If it doesn't there's going to be another 'space-crash' and I've been through enough of those already to want to see another one.
Spot on. Musk is trying to marry "Saturn V HLV" with "full-reusability" and the end result - a brute force approach - is so huge, so massive, it can only be justified by a grand scale onslaught on Mars. Although it could be very interesting for the Moon, too, admittedly.
But that's only the human exploration part of space.

Commercial space might think it is a little oversized.

I mean, the 747 is an outstanding aircraft, but for Ryanair or Easyjet low-cost short-haul airlines it would be completely overkill. Which mean: there is room for smaller RLVs just like there is is room for much smaller airliners bar 747 or A380 (fortunately enough).

Musk somewhat acknowledged this recently when he admitted that Falcon 9 and Heavy might not be replaced by Starship-Super-heavy.

Also for space tourism / passenger transportation (suborbital, orbital, cislunar, whatever) Starship is really huge. Finding enough people to fill all these seats won't be an easy task.

Whatever, if that works, Musk will have accomplished full-reusability the Bono / Truax way (king size) rather that "The Rocket Company DHC-1" style. Starting with an enormous vehicle with a huge payload.
 

Rhinocrates

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I'm heartened by Musk's 'build a little, fly a little, build a little more, fly a little more' path to a genuine goal rather than endless cycles of 'powerpoint, cancel, powerpoint, cancel'. It's a feeling I had back at the end of the Cold War - that I was alive when history was being made. It's happening again.
 
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sferrin

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I'm not sure what's more amazing. The ship, or that you can jam that much crane into something you can drive down the road. I've seen Grove 7550s several times (we even used one to move a big autoclave) but this is like it's big brother.
 

fredymac

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For the price of a NASA Powerpoint, Musk can send you to the Moon. Actually, as an individual, you could never afford to commission a NASA Powerpoint (unless you are a billionaire). On the other hand, if Musk succeeds you may be able to watch the rim walls of Tycho Brahe crater glide beneath you.

"IF" indeed is a mighty hurdle. When an organization has its very existence on the line, it provides some serious motivation. When the guy in charge has his personal stature at risk, it focuses all his attention. No matter how much money a bureaucracy has, when the managers score points feuding over internal office memo's, it is no surprise cost and schedule go out the window.

And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
 

sferrin

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And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
There are still people who will bitch. That much success makes insecure people feel small. There are many who go out of their way to attack him just to make themselves feel better.
 

_Del_

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RanulfC said:
The question though is do we really NEED a Saturn V class rocket and payload capability or do we need regular and inexpensive access to orbit. The two while not mutually exclusive are also not automatically the same for a reason.
I think this is absolutely a point worth making. I also think it might be a tad short-sighted.

I am not Musk's biggest booster (bad pun had to be made), but if he delivers, you might see a paradigm shift of sorts: to this point, satellite design has been heavily dictated by weight because of the exorbitant costs. If you can bring costs down substantially, it might not matter that a future refined Falcon grants a lower $/lb rate: there may be a shift at some price point toward heavier satellites which trade weight gain for capability/longevity/survivability. And that might make heavy or super-heavy lift essential.

There are a lot of things one might want in a spacecraft/satellite that are simply abandoned right now because of weight and the extremely high $/lb rates. Commercial space programs exist, so clearly the market can bear the current costs. If prices come down substantially, maybe adding more fuel for longer missions, physical shielding against collisions with space debris, perhaps shaping and even thick RAM for certain customers becomes much more attractive. You may start to see design compromises take advantage of the lower $/lb to achieve greater capability and cost to the extent we can drive down price -- and that will require higher payload to orbit capabilities than designs that are strictly weight-driven.

Does it really matter that I can get a microsat to orbit with a Pegasus launch for substantially lower-$/lb if Pegasus doesn't loft enough payload to carry the design/capabilities that I'm willing to pay for?
 

TomcatViP

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And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
There are still people who will bitch. That much success makes insecure people feel small. There are many who go out of their way to attack him just to make themselves feel better.
Don't forget that he does represent a threat for all state subsedized monopoly in that sector across the world. Doing so he also become the target of corrupt politicians that his actions are threatening to cut them away from a sensible source of profit.

All to say that Elon has everything to be a state enemy of some.

And you know how they do it nowaday: just like yesterday... discredit, isolate and incriminate.
 

Flyaway

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And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
There are still people who will bitch. That much success makes insecure people feel small. There are many who go out of their way to attack him just to make themselves feel better.
Space X wouldn’t be in the position they are now without the public money they got from NASA for commercial cargo and crew to ISS.
 

sferrin

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And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
There are still people who will bitch. That much success makes insecure people feel small. There are many who go out of their way to attack him just to make themselves feel better.
Space X wouldn’t be in the position they are now without the public money they got from NASA for commercial cargo and crew to ISS.
It wasn't a donation. NASA paid for a service. That's like complaining that Apple got money because I bought an iphone.
 

chimeric oncogene

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An honest-to-god rocketship. Looks like it was ripped right out of Colliers magazine (kinda-sorta) or a Buck Rodgers cover.

Surprising how merry-go-round the design feels. After decades of discussion about the merits of biconics, lifting bodies, parawings, double-deltas and more; and decades of slathering rockets in bright orange foam, black carbon-carbon tiles, and Al-Li alloy... They've come back to fins and steel.

(presumably also covered with thermal protection in the production vehicle, but you get the idea)

Man will conquer space soon. This time. This time for sure... Sniff... sniff...

1569688402265.png
 
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Flyaway

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And once again, this is being done by private individuals without their hands in my pocket. Even if I didn't approve, it ain't my money.
There are still people who will bitch. That much success makes insecure people feel small. There are many who go out of their way to attack him just to make themselves feel better.
Space X wouldn’t be in the position they are now without the public money they got from NASA for commercial cargo and crew to ISS.
It wasn't a donation. NASA paid for a service. That's like complaining that Apple got money because I bought an iphone.
Didn’t say it was a donation, and doesn’t change my point.
 

_Del_

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Space X wouldn’t be in the position they are now without the public money they got from NASA for commercial cargo and crew to ISS.
Most commercial companies wouldn't be in the position they are now without paying customers...
 

sferrin

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Didn’t say it was a donation, and doesn’t change my point.
Of course it does. There isn't a company on the planet that doesn't depend on customers.
 

Michel Van

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in good old time of pulp Science-Fiction
the Heros build there Rocketship in backyard


James B. Settles’ cover for the October 1948 issue of Amazing Stories


Boca Chica 2019
 

Dragon029

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So some info from the Starship presentation:

First of all, the current Mk1 prototype that's just been assembled will have a dry mass of apparently nearly 200 tons, but they expect to be able to drive that down to 120 tons through design and manufacturing optimisation; right now they only have around 5% of SpaceX working on the Mk1 Starship, so as Commercial Crew Dragon, etc wraps up development and testing they'll be able to dedicate a lot more towards that Starship optimisation. Elon also claims that 110 or even ~100 tons is possible, but he sounded doubtful that it'd be achievable. As an example of that optimisation though, quite soon they plan on producing Starship hulls via a continuous reel of steel (which is normally cut into plates at their supplier's factory) and use a single continuous weld, giving them more strength and therefore allowing thinner steel to be used.

Regardless, here are the slides that were shown (note that in the first one the 85t isn't a reference to anything, it was just an outright error by the media team):

1569733049743.png
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They didn't discuss Earth-to-Earth, or the recently mentioned hypothetical 18m, etc diameter architectures, nor did they going into any real further detail about internal cabin designs, ISRU development, Martian landing site selection, etc.

He did mention however that in a month or two, Mk1 would perform its maiden flight, and at around the same time, Mk2 would finish assembly, Mk3 would begin assembly at Boca Chica, and that Mk3 / Mk4 might each only take around 2 months to construct. He pointed out that they only really began construction of the Mk1 about 4 or 5 months ago following the decision to swap from composite to steel about 12 months ago (nevertheless, 2 months is optimistic).

He also stated that the Mk1 isn't expected to reach orbit, but rather that this would be done with Mk3 or Mk4, in about 6 months (assuming they get built in 2 months, etc). Mk1 will however demonstrate the full horizontal-to-vertical flip maneuver required to land. Elon also mentioned that while Mk1-4 will use cold gas thrusters, the Mk5 and onward will likely swap over to CH4+LOX thrusters in order to improve the ISP of the RCS thrusters, and to provide more thrust for performing the flip-manoeuvre without really needing the gimballing of the Raptor engines.
 

Flyaway

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FighterJock

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That is quick, six months to orbit. And with a crew early next year as well? Starship is certainly coming on faster than I first thought.
 

Dragon029

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I don't think he said manned flight would be early next year; that'd (if all goes to plan) just be when Mk3 or Mk4 make their first orbital flight, which I highly doubt would be manned. Later in 2020 it might happen though.
 

Michel Van

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Quick math about capacity of Starship
after 8 refuels in orbit 1470 tons (270t and 1200t LCH4 LOX)

It's able to bring 150 tons payload to Moon surface in Direct, means no parking orbit. but needs refueling on Moon
Form a Mars mission, it will be a Hohmann Trajectory with 18 months stay on Mars.
it got fuel reserve to enter elliptical orbit around mars before landing, but needs refueling on Mars

Starship is able to get to Jupiter and Saturn, but flight time would be years not months,
Around 6 years to Saturn, here it could land on Titan, but need refueling.

on Refueling
Mars and Titan would be Ideal für Starship since hydrocarbons and oxygen are present
The Moon is problem since nobody found hydrocarbons there.
but Musk made very interesting note in presentation that Raptor burns 1 ton LCH4 with 3.5 tons LOX
according earlier notes the Raptors have mixture ratio of 3.8
makes 1200 tons propellants = 315 tons LCH4 and 885 tons of LOX

with reduce payload to 100 tons for Moon surface and 50 tons LCH4 in reserve, refuel with 140 ton LOX from lunar production.
it would return back to Earth with 50 tons payload
if SpaceX use Lunar Lox or use a way to scope Oxygen from Earth upper atmosphere and store that in Low Orbit
it would reduce the need for Refuel launches to 2 with LCH4
 

Archibald

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That's the neat thing with LOX, the O/F ratios in the 3 range. 1 hydrocarbon needs 3 LOX to burn. In the end the amount of fuel is small when the amount of oxidizer (LOX) is huge.
Of course kerosene / peroxide is even better: O/F ratio of 7 !
 
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