Author Topic: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread  (Read 131937 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #400 on: 02/27/2017 05:06 PM »
I'll ask around.

Got any answers?

Inconclusive. Some say it was the point of the test. Some say it was a tragic early death of a test tank. Need an official answer on the test.

Offline Burninate

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #401 on: 02/28/2017 05:56 PM »
So if all-composite tanks don't pan out (at least for O2 tanks), what kind of weight increase are we talking about?

Depends how thick the Invar liner needs to be and whether they can use its strength to reduce the weight of the composite.

If it's 1 mm thick over the area of the ship's LOX tank, that only adds about 3 tonnes.

I spent most of a year iterating my way through a projected MCT built of aluminum and moderate-pressure engines.  The case for Mars missions does close, but a few things, like 1-synod reuse, get very difficult.  I also ended up penciling in a system of additional propellant shipments sent to Mars orbit via a long SEP trip.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37808.msg1589654#msg1589654

In that analysis, the LOX tank sidewall comes in at 34mm, the CH4 tank & hab sidewall 7.5mm.  Tank skin mass for the interplanetary stage alone is  ~46 tons, hab skin mass is ~8 tons. This is not counting ribs, trusses, heatshields, vacuum insulation, vacuum flask, plumbing, engines, anything.  There's some mild sandbagging in there (in a pessimistic assumed tensile strength for aluminum) to add a margin of error.

That looks remarkably prescient. But why did the LOX tanks end up nearly 5 times thicker? They are pressed to the same flight pressure and see lower dynamic loads.
The LOX tanks end up much higher pressure than the CH4 tanks, because LOX boils at a much lower temperature than CH4, and the partial pressure of LOX is higher at the same temperature than the partial pressure of CH4.  A common thermal environment was assumed from the start;  Thermally insulating the CH4 tank from the LOX tank would presumably involve a large amount of extra mass, and maintaining a temperature differential actively...
« Last Edit: 02/28/2017 06:27 PM by Burninate »

Offline rsdavis9

Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #402 on: 02/28/2017 07:19 PM »
Without calculating it. It doesn't seem more pressure vs insulation is a good trade off for weight. Insulation can be extremely light.
bob

Online acsawdey

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #403 on: 02/28/2017 07:24 PM »
Without calculating it. It doesn't seem more pressure vs insulation is a good trade off for weight. Insulation can be extremely light.

I suspect it isn't so much insulation as the fact that if you want any insulation you need a "between" to put it in, hence you can't have common bulkhead between the tanks. Once you have separate bulkheads then yes multilayer insulation in vacuum won't add much weight at all.

Online meekGee

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #404 on: 02/28/2017 09:52 PM »
Without calculating it. It doesn't seem more pressure vs insulation is a good trade off for weight. Insulation can be extremely light.

I suspect it isn't so much insulation as the fact that if you want any insulation you need a "between" to put it in, hence you can't have common bulkhead between the tanks. Once you have separate bulkheads then yes multilayer insulation in vacuum won't add much weight at all.

Why can't you have non-structural insulation behind a liner at the top of the LOX tank?
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Online envy887

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #405 on: 03/01/2017 10:51 PM »
The vehicle needs active and passive thermal management, both are required for flying people and cryogenic fuels on the same vehicle.

If the vehicle flies with engines pointed at the sun for thermal management, then the CH4 tank will likely be warmer than the LOX tank because it's closer to the engines.

I think that the sidewall area is large enough for radiative cooling to keep both the LOX and CH4 below boiling - or at least limit the thermal energy transfer to a very small amount of boiloff which can be recycled by a small refrigeration system.

Offline Burninate

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #406 on: 03/07/2017 05:15 PM »
The vehicle needs active and passive thermal management, both are required for flying people and cryogenic fuels on the same vehicle.

If the vehicle flies with engines pointed at the sun for thermal management, then the CH4 tank will likely be warmer than the LOX tank because it's closer to the engines.

I think that the sidewall area is large enough for radiative cooling to keep both the LOX and CH4 below boiling - or at least limit the thermal energy transfer to a very small amount of boiloff which can be recycled by a small refrigeration system.

Right.  But what is "active and passive thermal management" precisely?

You also don't get to count on position relative to the Sun, necessarily, because you don't get control over that on Mars.

Offline Semmel

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #407 on: 03/10/2017 11:12 AM »
Not entirely on topi but also not entirely off as well. I want to share a story with you.

First the off-topic part:
Some of my colleges were on a workshop about cryogenic vacuum systems the last days. The workshop was for detector systems operated at cryogenic temperature but most of the stuff they told me applies to all kinds of vacuum systems, cryogenics or not.
For example, if a device contains a ball bearing, the vacuum would evaporate the lubricant, which would lead to a failure of the ball bearing, not to mention a contamination of the vacuum. What you have to do is to (and I kid you not) coat the ball bearing halves with gold and replace the balls with rubies. Gold because it is soft and self-lubricating and rubies because they conduct heat pretty well so that a large temperature differential between the ball bearing halves is prevented. As someone without experience in vacuum systems, stuff like that is utterly unexpected and unpredictable.

Now the on-topic part:
SpaceX will operate its ITS and many Mars-surface machinery in near vacuum. Many of them also in cryogenic environments due to the fuel cooling. After hearing the story above, I realize that there is a whole zoo of knowledge regarding vacuum systems that SpaceX needs to develop and get experience with before they can send their ITS ship to Mars. They dont want to have it fall apart half way to Mars because they overlooked some stuff unique to vacuum systems. Of course, they are professionals and probably have many people with lots of experience in vacuum systems. But still, its some task and knowledge base that I completely underestimated so far. Do they have large vacuum testing and development facilities? I find this quite fascinating to be honest. The ISS Canadarm team must have tons of experience with stuff like that..

PS: please dont see this as concern trolling. Its not, I am generally fascinated by the difficulties concerning vacuum system. Really unexpected!

Offline Rei

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #408 on: 03/10/2017 12:11 PM »
Vacuum compatibility of materials is not a secret  :) There's a nice database you can search over here:

http://outgassing.nasa.gov/

I have a lot of hope for ionic liquids in the future (they remain liquid without relevant outgassing even at zero air pressure).  Currently very expensive, but prices are dropping; there's nothing that *fundamentally* renders them expensive, it's just finding good organic synthesis route and getting enough of a market established for bulk production.  They're particularly promising for Venus ISRU; if you do water scrubbing you have to get all of the water vapour back out of the air (if atmospheric constituents ar reaching equilibrium with your water than your water is reaching equilibrium with the atmosphere), but if you scrub with ionic liquids (which are almost universal solvents, you can tune them in endless ways), nothing evaporates to the air stream.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 12:16 PM by Rei »

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #409 on: 03/10/2017 12:41 PM »
Just for clarification, in the SpaceX ITS presentation they showed the same ITS booster landing in the cradle and repeatedly taking off in quick succession to fuel the ITS spaceship in orbit. Was that just done to illustrate the refuelling concept, or is the intention truly to have the exact same booster land and take off again with as little as a day turnaround time 5 times in a row?

I fully understand the concept of getting maximum reuse out of the same booster in order to bring the average cost per use down as much as possible, but surely the risk of some malfunction caused by one of the repeated launches and atmospheric re-entries could scupper the entire mission?

Are we realistically perhaps rather looking at 5 separate boosters, each taking off one after another to refuel the spacecraft, and then those 5 boosters getting reused for each new ITS launch? But getting refurbished in-between launches?

Then you are still looking at full reuse, but you have a group of 5 boosters per upper stage, used to launch and fuel it for each Mars trip. And these 5 get reused the next month again, for the next ITS launch, etc.

Surely relying on just ONE booster to repeatedly launch and land at a daily cadence is a somewhat unrealistic goal to aim at or what?
« Last Edit: 03/10/2017 12:44 PM by M.E.T. »

Offline spacenut

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #410 on: 03/10/2017 01:00 PM »
Maybe ITS is too big and needs to be scaled down, like some people have said, to say 50 passengers or 50 tons to Mars instead of 100 passengers or 100 tons of cargo.  Yes it will take longer, but scaling down, and developing a large in space SEP tug, much of the cargo can be transported like a "slow boat to China".  Then smaller launchers like FH could launch fuel to a fuel depot weekly or monthly, and build a huge depot.  Multiple ITS can launch, refuel at the depot and go to Mars during the Synod. 

Again, a smaller BFR to launch fuel to a depot, then a 3 core heavy version to launch ITS.  I know this isn't what they are doing, but a single stick BFR can do double duty to the Moon and and refueling a depot.   I would opt for a 9 Raptor engine BFR with a 27 engine Heavy.  Maybe even an 18 engine BFR to use the existing Pad 39A facilities.  Just MHO. 

After all the tests and studies are done, and after Raptor gets a full blown test for both sea level and vacuum versions, they may scale down their Mars vehicle and make it more robust.   Even then with a scaled down ITS, a very large in space transport system could be built like NautilusX, but larger, to ferry between earth and Mars all the time, using ITS to launch components for a transporter for ITS.  Again, that could be continuously refueled for use between synods. 

Offline spacenut

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #411 on: 03/10/2017 01:09 PM »
Oh, even with the huge ITS requiring 5 ITS launchings for refueling to go to Mars, this still makes sense to build a huge fuel depot shaded by solar panels.  Multiple launches for the fuel depot can be done in the 18 month time frame.  Even one a month could refuel 3 ITS for them to refuel going to MARS during the 6 month synod.  So Three BFRS for 3 to go to MAR with three BFRS each launching 5-6 times to the depot, could be doable with only 3 ships built.  Over time and as more are built, the fuel depot expanded or have two depots over time for redundancy. 

Online RonM

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #412 on: 03/10/2017 01:23 PM »
Just for clarification, in the SpaceX ITS presentation they showed the same ITS booster landing in the cradle and repeatedly taking off in quick succession to fuel the ITS spaceship in orbit. Was that just done to illustrate the refuelling concept, or is the intention truly to have the exact same booster land and take off again with as little as a day turnaround time 5 times in a row?

I fully understand the concept of getting maximum reuse out of the same booster in order to bring the average cost per use down as much as possible, but surely the risk of some malfunction caused by one of the repeated launches and atmospheric re-entries could scupper the entire mission?

Are we realistically perhaps rather looking at 5 separate boosters, each taking off one after another to refuel the spacecraft, and then those 5 boosters getting reused for each new ITS launch? But getting refurbished in-between launches?

Then you are still looking at full reuse, but you have a group of 5 boosters per upper stage, used to launch and fuel it for each Mars trip. And these 5 get reused the next month again, for the next ITS launch, etc.

Surely relying on just ONE booster to repeatedly launch and land at a daily cadence is a somewhat unrealistic goal to aim at or what?

ITS is landing back at the launch pad for rapid reuse. If SpaceX was going to use different boosters they would have the boosters land somewhere else while another booster was being moved to the pad.

Online meekGee

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #413 on: 03/10/2017 01:55 PM »
Not entirely on topi but also not entirely off as well. I want to share a story with you.

First the off-topic part:
Some of my colleges were on a workshop about cryogenic vacuum systems the last days. The workshop was for detector systems operated at cryogenic temperature but most of the stuff they told me applies to all kinds of vacuum systems, cryogenics or not.
For example, if a device contains a ball bearing, the vacuum would evaporate the lubricant, which would lead to a failure of the ball bearing, not to mention a contamination of the vacuum. What you have to do is to (and I kid you not) coat the ball bearing halves with gold and replace the balls with rubies. Gold because it is soft and self-lubricating and rubies because they conduct heat pretty well so that a large temperature differential between the ball bearing halves is prevented. As someone without experience in vacuum systems, stuff like that is utterly unexpected and unpredictable.

Now the on-topic part:
SpaceX will operate its ITS and many Mars-surface machinery in near vacuum. Many of them also in cryogenic environments due to the fuel cooling. After hearing the story above, I realize that there is a whole zoo of knowledge regarding vacuum systems that SpaceX needs to develop and get experience with before they can send their ITS ship to Mars. They dont want to have it fall apart half way to Mars because they overlooked some stuff unique to vacuum systems. Of course, they are professionals and probably have many people with lots of experience in vacuum systems. But still, its some task and knowledge base that I completely underestimated so far. Do they have large vacuum testing and development facilities? I find this quite fascinating to be honest. The ISS Canadarm team must have tons of experience with stuff like that..

PS: please dont see this as concern trolling. Its not, I am generally fascinated by the difficulties concerning vacuum system. Really unexpected!
:) as folks have said, vacuum compatibility is well known, for example to people designing robotic systems that work in vacuum for the semiconductor industry.

Actually, though, those are "very high vacuum" systems, and the vacuum is higher than that found in space near near a satellite.

The Mars environment, happily, is not even considered low grade vacuum. There's enough atmosphere to prevent cold welding, to keep many lubricants working, to convect...  And, you don't worry about molecular contamination.

This is one of the many reasons Mars colonization is  easier than moon and asteroids. Designing for full vacuum, while understood, is very difficult, and requires a lot of trade offs.
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Offline Nathan2go

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #414 on: 03/20/2017 03:49 AM »
Maybe ITS is too big and needs to be scaled down, like some people have said, to say 50 passengers or 50 tons to Mars instead of 100 passengers or 100 tons of cargo.  ...

That depends on the business/funding source that drives it.  Say NASA wants a commercial launch vehicle to complement the SLS:  SLS can put 130 tons in LEO, or send around 55 tons to the Moon & 45 tons to Mars.  Maybe they would want an alternate source with exactly the same BEO capacity.  For methane-O2, that's about 160 tons to LEO.

Maybe NASA would really like a commercial Earth departure stage that can dock on orbit with 130 ton SLS payloads, and send them to Mars, with no propellant transfer required.  That departure stage would mass around 250 tons in LEO for methane-O2 (182 tons for LH2-O2).

Better yet, it's less threatening to SLS if NASA would to buy LOX from an orbiting tanker to re-fuel an SLS stage (i.e. to replace the nuclear-thermal stage shown in NASA last Mars Design Reference Mission, DRM5).  They'd need about 120 tons to supply a stretched SLS upper stage which arrived with 100 tons of payload and 20 tons of LH2.

Of course SpaceX could offer NASA any of the above services using multiple launches of a smaller rocket, but then there is the added risk of extra on-orbit docking and/or propellant transfers.  Given their history, NASA will want both O2 and LH2 from a depot, so the depot will have even more development required.  Instead, having NASA pay for the development of BFR/ITS would be a better next step.  After the rocket is built, depots can be developed later, and maybe private industry can fund some Mars flights and base building.

Again, a smaller BFR to launch fuel to a depot, then a 3 core heavy version to launch ITS.  I know this isn't what they are doing, but a single stick BFR can do double duty to the Moon and refueling a depot.
With economies of scale, the 3-core heavy version is also a cheaper way to supply the depot (one-big launch is cheaper than 3 little ones).  So the main reason to build a smaller rocket is that you think there is a good sized market for payloads that size.  Remember that the Saturn V (130 tons to LEO) was only barely large enough for Lunar missions (for two person crews).

I think the 300 ton LEO size of ITS is a good choice for base building, but 120-250 tons would compliment SLS better.   I agree that it makes sense to start with a small mission mass and build up.  However, rather than making the rocket much smaller, I think it makes sense to post-pone on-orbit refueling and Mars lander re-use.  Just build a 100 ton capsule-style expendable lander which can be thrown to Mars by a single launch of an ITS (re-usable first stage and expendable 2nd stage, like F9).  Such a capsule would only really have 50 tons of useful payload, but it would be shorter, thus easier to unload on Mars.  Use a dozen or so of those landers to build up the base before starting flights with 300 ton re-usable ITS landers. 

A Mars program that starts with 2-3 flight per year each for SLS and ITS, will be more politically acceptable than one with many more flights for SpaceX and no role for SLS.
« Last Edit: 03/23/2017 11:31 PM by Nathan2go »

Offline Rei

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #415 on: 03/20/2017 07:36 AM »
The Mars environment, happily, is not even considered low grade vacuum. There's enough atmosphere to prevent cold welding, to keep many lubricants working, to convect...  And, you don't worry about molecular contamination.

This is one of the many reasons Mars colonization is  easier than moon and asteroids. Designing for full vacuum, while understood, is very difficult, and requires a lot of trade offs.

What lubricants which can't tolerate a hard vacuum do well at ~600 Pa?  Curiosity, for example, uses Castrol Braycote 601 EF, which is also used on ISS (hard vacuum tolerant).

Also, I'm not following the logic, because whatever you send to Mars has to spend a long time in hard vacuum in-transit. Unless you send it as pressurized cargo, which comes at a significant mass penalty.

Online meekGee

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #416 on: 03/20/2017 10:01 AM »
The Mars environment, happily, is not even considered low grade vacuum. There's enough atmosphere to prevent cold welding, to keep many lubricants working, to convect...  And, you don't worry about molecular contamination.

This is one of the many reasons Mars colonization is  easier than moon and asteroids. Designing for full vacuum, while understood, is very difficult, and requires a lot of trade offs.

What lubricants which can't tolerate a hard vacuum do well at ~600 Pa?  Curiosity, for example, uses Castrol Braycote 601 EF, which is also used on ISS (hard vacuum tolerant).

Also, I'm not following the logic, because whatever you send to Mars has to spend a long time in hard vacuum in-transit. Unless you send it as pressurized cargo, which comes at a significant mass penalty.

In hard vacuum, surfaces lack the normal monolayer(s)  of volatiles, which are sometimes referred to as "lubrication" and which cause materials to behave in "normal" ways.

So when considering hard-vacuum robotics (as you do in semicon applications), things become more difficult.

You can say that "they are well understood", but with the crazy amount of engineering that will have to happen for Mars equipment, it's a problem.

Vacuum lubricants exist, but you don't want to lubricate every two surfaces that may come together, or every surface that might degrade in hard vacuum.

These phenomena don't happen at 600 PA.

For this reason, you'd want to keep the cargo bay at Mars pressure and temperature range. (Which by BFSs design is very easy)
« Last Edit: 03/20/2017 10:03 AM by meekGee »
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Online su27k

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #417 on: 03/31/2017 04:42 PM »
From robbak's transcript of SES-10 post launch press conference, "E" is Elon:

Quote
Robinson Manuel , with the New York Observer, Could you give us an update on the development of the Interplanetary Transport System, and what's next in terms of - what's the nex component to be tested following the carbon fuel tank and the Raptor engine?

E: I think we'll provide an update on the design of the Interplanetary Transport System - Interplanetary Transport System also includes the propellant depot on Mars - that's why it's sort of - I actually usually don't like the word 'system', but we can't call it a rocket if it includes a propellant depot. So the Mars planetery transporter or Mars Transporter, ir Interplanetary Transporter - We've come up with a number of desibn refinements, and I hope I'll be ready ot put that on the Website withing a month or so.

RM: Just want a follow-up The timeframe has shifted since Gh, I was wondering if if yuo guys had any updated timeframe of when you think that firstmission will be launched - If I'm correct, the first one is uncrewed amd I right

E: Yes the first one will be uncrewed, I don't want to steal thunder from that announcement. I'm pretty excited about the upgrades strategy since Gh, it makes a lot more sense, it's - we have to not just get it done technically, but figure out how to get this done without going bankrupt. So it's like, our goal is to get people on Mars before we're dead, and the company is dead. So like, either one of that. Ideally, the first. We don't want to take so long that dead by when that happens, and we don't want to kill the company in the process. So we have to figure out not just solve the technical issues, but the economic issues. I think the new approach is going to be able to do that. Hopefully.

Can't wait to see how they address the economic issues, let the speculation begin...
« Last Edit: 03/31/2017 04:43 PM by su27k »

Offline Kansan52

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #418 on: 03/31/2017 05:00 PM »
"Ideally, the first. We don't want to take so long that dead by when that happens, and we don't want to kill the company in the process."

I find comfort in this statement. There are plans for SX to continue after Mars Elon. No pyrrhic victory planned.

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: ITS Development Updates and Discussion Thread
« Reply #419 on: 04/01/2017 06:57 AM »
From robbak's transcript of SES-10 post launch press conference, "E" is Elon:

Quote
Robinson Manuel , with the New York Observer, Could you give us an update on the development of the Interplanetary Transport System, and what's next in terms of - what's the nex component to be tested following the carbon fuel tank and the Raptor engine?

E: I think we'll provide an update on the design of the Interplanetary Transport System - Interplanetary Transport System also includes the propellant depot on Mars - that's why it's sort of - I actually usually don't like the word 'system', but we can't call it a rocket if it includes a propellant depot. So the Mars planetery transporter or Mars Transporter, ir Interplanetary Transporter - We've come up with a number of desibn refinements, and I hope I'll be ready ot put that on the Website withing a month or so.

RM: Just want a follow-up The timeframe has shifted since Gh, I was wondering if if yuo guys had any updated timeframe of when you think that firstmission will be launched - If I'm correct, the first one is uncrewed amd I right

E: Yes the first one will be uncrewed, I don't want to steal thunder from that announcement. I'm pretty excited about the upgrades strategy since Gh, it makes a lot more sense, it's - we have to not just get it done technically, but figure out how to get this done without going bankrupt. So it's like, our goal is to get people on Mars before we're dead, and the company is dead. So like, either one of that. Ideally, the first. We don't want to take so long that dead by when that happens, and we don't want to kill the company in the process. So we have to figure out not just solve the technical issues, but the economic issues. I think the new approach is going to be able to do that. Hopefully.

Can't wait to see how they address the economic issues, let the speculation begin...

Elon's statement seems to hint at a shift of the timeline to the right, allowing for the development costs to be spread over a longer period of time - probably so that the satellite network can start generating the necessary cash to fund the ITS program.

So might we see something like a 5 year delay on the original milestone dates?

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