Poll

Will there be an unmanned test flight around Luna before they send people around Luna?

Yes
55 (51.9%)
No
51 (48.1%)

Total Members Voted: 106

Voting closed: 06/18/2017 07:13 PM


Author Topic: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight around Luna before manned flight around Luna?  (Read 6016 times)

Offline guckyfan

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I vote no. There is no need to do one. The risks are mitigated by Crew Dragon flying to the ISS and Falcon Heavy flying a number of missions first. Given the plentiful data on how PicaX performs from LEO they can trust models for reentry with lunar return speed.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 07:13 PM by Lar »

Offline sdsds

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #1 on: 05/19/2017 09:33 AM »
I agree there is no need for one but believe it is likely they will conduct such a mission anyway. Yes it will incur costs but those will be outweighed by the benefits.
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Offline TaurusLittrow

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #2 on: 05/19/2017 10:24 AM »
I vote no. There is no need to do one. The risks are mitigated by Crew Dragon flying to the ISS and Falcon Heavy flying a number of missions first. Given the plentiful data on how PicaX performs from LEO they can trust models for reentry with lunar return speed.

Exactly. This is like sailing around the world. Pay for the boat and travel at your own risk (well, once the FAA signs off). Seriously though, Apollo 8 circumnavigated the moon (with three astronauts and national prestige aboard) w/o a prior unmanned lunar loop. That was half a century ago and presumably the technology for deep space communication and navigation has advanced since then. Besides, just last week NASA was considering "manning" EM-1 w/o a full up test of the heat shield or ECLSS and only decided against it because of financial (not technical) reasons. So I vote no. "You pays your money and you takes your chance."

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #3 on: 05/19/2017 01:08 PM »
I'm really torn on this one but in the end voted yes.

Unlike Apollo 8, there's no pressing reason to rush this. Elon has said about commercial crew that he wants to do everything possible to ensure their safety, surely the same goes here?

I fully agree they don't have to do an unmanned mission, but why take the risk?

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #4 on: 05/19/2017 01:18 PM »
While I voted no,  I always felt that it would be a great marketing stunt if the first launch of the heavy sent a pre-flown dragon on a free-return trajectory around the moon.
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Offline clongton

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #5 on: 05/19/2017 01:28 PM »
SpaceX has already said there will be an unmanned flight as part of the certification process. It will be the very first flight of Dragon2. There is no way that SpaceX would do anything so dumb as to make the very first flight of Dragon2 be a manned circumlunar mission.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #6 on: 05/19/2017 02:07 PM »
SpaceX has already said there will be an unmanned flight as part of the certification process. It will be the very first flight of Dragon2. There is no way that SpaceX would do anything so dumb as to make the very first flight of Dragon2 be a manned circumlunar mission.

I vote no. However that's because I'm interpreting the poll as "will there be an unmanned flight AROUND THE MOON" rather than "will there be some unmanned test flight before the first manned one"  ... I kind of see the D2 sequence as

The FH test flight
Unmanned flight of D2
Unmanned flight of D2 that docks at ISS (these two may be combined)
Manned flight that docks at ISS (all three on F9)
Manned flight that goes around the moon (on FH)

But I may be wrong.

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Online rockets4life97

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #7 on: 05/19/2017 02:35 PM »
I kind of see the D2 sequence as

The FH test flight
Unmanned flight of D2
Unmanned flight of D2 that docks at ISS (these two may be combined)
Manned flight that docks at ISS (all three on F9)
Manned flight that goes around the moon (on FH)

But I may be wrong.

I agree. One thing I'd add is think they'll be at least 3 and probably more FH flights before they will put a crew on top.
It does raise an interesting question about whether FH and F9 are different enough that Dragon should fly with FH once before crew are on top.

Offline Negan

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #8 on: 05/19/2017 04:31 PM »
I say no because I see no reason why it wouldn't already have been announced as part of the plan.

Edit: And my interpretation of the question is the same as Lar's.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 04:34 PM by Negan »

Offline ZachS09

There should be an unmanned test flight because, in my opinion, that's the logical path to take before putting men aboard the Gray Dragon.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #10 on: 05/19/2017 05:46 PM »
There should be an unmanned test flight because, in my opinion, that's the logical path to take before putting men aboard the Gray Dragon.

See above. A test flight of WHAT? All the elements in the stack together?

If all of the following are true

FH test works (and maybe even slings a D1 around luna)
FH missions lofting birds work
F9 unmanned test of D2 to ISS works
F9 manned test of D2 to ISS works

is it really necessary to have an unmanned FH/D2 that slings the D2 around luna?  My answer is no, not needed. Elements were tested.

Every rocket is different somehow than all rockets that came before it.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #11 on: 05/19/2017 07:07 PM »
I vote no. However that's because I'm interpreting the poll as "will there be an unmanned flight AROUND THE MOON" rather than "will there be some unmanned test flight before the first manned one"  ... I kind of see the D2 sequence as

The FH test flight
Unmanned flight of D2
Unmanned flight of D2 that docks at ISS (these two may be combined)
Manned flight that docks at ISS (all three on F9)
Manned flight that goes around the moon (on FH)

But I may be wrong.

That was my intended question. It is based on the assumption that qualification and the first crew flight to the ISS goes first, then the moon flight. Maybe that headline was short to express it unequivocally. My post, the first in the thread, where I explained why I vote no, should claify it somewhat.

Offline Lar

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I vote no. However that's because I'm interpreting the poll as "will there be an unmanned flight AROUND THE MOON" rather than "will there be some unmanned test flight before the first manned one"  ... I kind of see the D2 sequence as

The FH test flight
Unmanned flight of D2
Unmanned flight of D2 that docks at ISS (these two may be combined)
Manned flight that docks at ISS (all three on F9)
Manned flight that goes around the moon (on FH)

But I may be wrong.

That was my intended question. It is based on the assumption that qualification and the first crew flight to the ISS goes first, then the moon flight. Maybe that headline was short to express it unequivocally. My post, the first in the thread, where I explained why I vote no, should claify it somewhat.

Thanks for the clarification, I edited the thread title and the poll question to reflect that.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline hop

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is it really necessary to have an unmanned FH/D2 that slings the D2 around luna?  My answer is no, not needed. Elements were tested.
Some elements significantly different from LEO flight: Cruise GNC, tracking, telemetry and thermal control, reentry GNC and TPS. Whether this requires a dedicated test flight is obviously suggestive, but putting crew on the first one is clearly higher risk.

I voted yes, but a BLEO test flight on a non-lunar trajectory could also cover a lot of the unproven territory.

edit:
Radiation environment is another potentially big one.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 08:13 PM by hop »

Online TrevorMonty

I vote Yes. Dragon needs to proof its self BLEO and the heat shield.

Online intrepidpursuit

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ISTM that they could test most of the BLEO functions in LEO - GNC, tracking, thermal control - even if you wouldn't otherwise need the enhanced capabilities in LEO. Long range communication and telemetry wouldn't get a full workout, but a loss of telemetry wouldn't not equal a loss of mission. As others have mentioned, there is enough TPS data from lots of LEO reentries that they can have a high level of confidence in lunar velocity performance.

Apollo tested the rocket and the spacecraft, but didn't send it to the moon before they put people on it. They added the LEM for the first time with people and made other configuration changes. I think we are in the same territory here.

NASA has no problem putting people on the first launch of anything they build. Assuming the first D2 missions have BLEO capabilities on board for testing, I think the risk level here is pretty low.

Offline rpapo

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NASA has no problem putting people on the first launch of anything they build.
Had no problem.  Today's NASA is not your grandfather's NASA.
« Last Edit: 05/19/2017 09:10 PM by rpapo »
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline robert_d

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Apollo tested the rocket and the spacecraft, but didn't send it to the moon before they put people on it. They added the LEM for the first time with people and made other configuration changes. I think we are in the same territory here.


Not quite true: "LM-1 was built to make the first unmanned flight for propulsion systems testing, launched into low Earth orbit atop a Saturn IB. This was originally planned for April 1967, to be followed by the first manned flight later that year. But the LM's development problems had been underestimated, and LM-1's flight was delayed until January 22, 1968, as Apollo 5. At that time, LM-2 was held in reserve in case the LM-1 flight failed, which did not happen."


Offline Khadgars

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Even though the launch vehicle and spacecraft will have been tested, they will never have been tested in this environment.  I vote yes.

Offline DavidH

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Re: Unmanned Grey Dragon test flight before manned flight?
« Reply #19 on: 05/19/2017 10:08 PM »
There should be an unmanned test flight because, in my opinion, that's the logical path to take before putting men aboard the Gray Dragon.

See above. A test flight of WHAT? All the elements in the stack together?

If all of the following are true

FH test works (and maybe even slings a D1 around luna)
FH missions lofting birds work
F9 unmanned test of D2 to ISS works
F9 manned test of D2 to ISS works

is it really necessary to have an unmanned FH/D2 that slings the D2 around luna?  My answer is no, not needed. Elements were tested.

Every rocket is different somehow than all rockets that came before it.
Which part of this tests the ability to navigate to and around the moon with sufficient precision (and the ability to make course corrections) to make it back? I don't guess it needs to be a Dragon.
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