Author Topic: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread  (Read 6607 times)

Offline L1Fan

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Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« on: 09/22/2016 02:32 PM »
I have followed L2 for quite a while and have finally decided to step into the fray with this topic.

There has been lots of speculations regarding Red Dragon design, but, being more of an engineer than a rocket scientist, I’m more interested in potential payloads that we can expect RD missions to deliver to Mars, but I haven’t seen much discussion about them.  The latest RD news is that it can deliver up to one metric ton payload to the surface of Mars.  That is a lot of scientific project potential either from NASA, SpaceX, or anyone else.  We don’t know what will be aboard the first RD given its primary mission to make it down successfully, but if we get at least one per launch window for the next decade, it is time to be creative about what we can send. 

First, there are a few assumptions that have to be made regarding RD to support any payload.

-   RD Power:  The RD will have to produce ongoing power after landing.  This will likely be some type of
    deployable/inflatable solar array. 
-   Package deployment to the surface:  I’ve seen this discussed before in regards to a rover, but clearly there
    needs to be some means of moving payload from the interior of RD to the surface.  This would likely be accomplished
    by some type of telescoping track hoist or articulated robotic arm that can handle reasonable sized payloads and
    able to reach to the surface.  I am sure SpaceX has something creative in mind.
-   Payload Power:  Some packages may have their own solar array such as a rover, but others should be able to
    plug into the RD power grid somehow.  Do you have extension cords out the hatch or plug in to a service panel on the
    side of RD using the dexterous robotic arm?  Maybe Tesla's snake charger shown on YouTube?
-   Payload Communications:  For local payloads the RD should provide either a WiFi-type or direct cable/power
    two-way communications to various packages.  RD would handle communications to Earth.
-   Earth Communications:  NASA has plans to upgrade to a new communications orbiter in the 2020’s to handle
    the new Mars activities.  My list of payloads assumes that sufficient bandwidth will be there to support RD; however,
    HD video is unlikely until the new communications orbiter is in place.  Here is a good article from 2012 discussing
    the challenges for getting HD video from Mars.

The following is a quick list of payload options either from previous missions or mentioned elsewhere.  Hopefully people will have some great ideas that aren’t in the list or expand on the ones that are.  NASA has hinted about payloads they want to send but haven't provided any specifics.  We don’t know what will be in the first RD landing, but with future RD deliveries there should be room to try any of these payloads.
 
-   Weather Monitoring (a standard on most missions)
       o   Temperature, pressure, and wind speed and direction
       o   Viking missions seem to be the last mission with good wind speed and direction
       o   Note:  Curiosity’s wind instrument failed since landing.
-   Seismic Monitoring (NASA Insight 2018 - SEIS)
       o   The 2018 Insight mission promises to be the first successful seismic monitoring instrument.  I would
           think that for each added active seismic instrument on Mars the data value would go up dramatically
           giving detailed magnitude, direction, and location of seismic events by utilizing multiple sites
           monitoring the same events.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know where the action is?
       o   May need to move monitoring equipment away from the RD to avoid spurious signals from activities and
           thermal cycling of RD itself.  Relocate with rover or balloon?  Just a thought.
-   Soil Probe (NASA Insight 2018 - HP3)
       o   The German space agency (DLR) has created a rather cool apparatus called HP3 (<2 kg) that can bore
           five meters into the soil to characterize the soil and give detailed temperature profile by depth.
           Extrapolating accurate soil temperature profiles and thermal properties will be key to properly designing
           habitats and mining operations.  There should be one on each RD. 
-   ISRU fuel conversion test bed.
       o   This is a no-brainer for SpaceX as fuel production from local resources is a key element to their MCT plans.
-   Resource Characterization
       o   Soil analysis, ice analysis, ground radar characterization, etc.
-   Mars Exploration Rover (MER)
       o   Lots of solar powered rover types to choose from…either flown or proposed. 
       o   Satellite communications for long range?
       o   How about a semi-autonomous mini MER challenge?  The top two get to compete on Mars. 
       o   Wonder if SpaceX knows anyone at Tesla who can program a rover with kick-ass autonomous driving
           capabilities?  Won’t even have to look out for pedestrians or deal with rush hour traffic.
-   Helicopter / Drone
       o   JPL has already proposed a Helicopter Scout for the 2020 NASA rover weighing 1 kg with a 1.1 m blade
           span capable of flying 2-3 minutes a day with onboard solar cells.  It uses mostly COTS components
           including a GoPro camera.
       o   For the RD I would suggest the 360Fly 4K HD omni-directional camera (172g) rather than just the wide
           angle GoPro (Hero 4 - 88g).  Along with 4K video, 10MB stills, WiFi, Bluetooth, and designed for extreme sports,
           it can either store images/video or stream directly to the RD.  Every shot is a potential 360 degree VR
           panoramic experience with no pointing required.
       o   RD would store original data and process what gets sent to Earth.   
       o   Start with landing site videos and progress to excursions in any vertical and/or horizontal direction. 
-   Balloon
       o   There is a history of studies to bring balloons to Mars by NASA, but they never went anywhere primarily
           due to the difficulty in delivery, deployment, cost, limited lifespan, or other priorities. 
       o   RD is kind of a game changer for putting balloons on Mars and I have posted a presentation I made called
           'Planetary Balloon Missions Revisited' which leverages GoogleX's Project Loon variable altitude control
           method to a Mars balloon that I call 'Red Loon'.  The presentation re-imagines past balloon proposals to use
           variable altitude control from a design altitude all the way down to the surface of Mars or Venus.

       o   Eventually what SpaceX needs is a steerable airship (Aerobot) that can characterize 100’s of square miles
           in weeks rather than years and traverse places such as canyons and valleys that rovers can’t touch. 
       o   I plan to follow up with another posting with more details about balloons on Mars and how they might work.
-   Cameras (rover, balloon, helicopter, RD, robotic arm, etc.)
       o   What good is it to go to Mars if you can’t take some good selfies?
       o   Perform full inspection on the exterior of the RD and monitor activities.
       o   For the helicopter or balloon options, I expect nothing less than HD video capability for my VR experience. 
-   Mars Sample Return (MSR - Red Dragon Sample Return Study)
       o   3/9/2014 Red Dragon Study Team / NASA Ames Research Center
-   Drill Mission (20-50 m) (suggested by drzerg 9/23/2016)
       o   Mars Drilling via Dragon Capsule.  Stage drilling equipment within RD.  Drill assembly utilizes an access
           port through the RD heat shield similar to the footing pads for the landing gear.  Equipment already staged
           in place and uses RD as a drilling platform.
-   Drill Mission (2km) (Zaptec's PLASMARS Project - Requires RTG power and dedicated RD mission.)
       o   Deep Mars Drilling via Dragon Capsule.  Turns out someone has already invested a lot of research into
           how to turn a RD into a drilling platform.  A great concept with the ambition to drill up to 2km deep,
           but a bit further in the future because of the RTG and dedicated RD mission.
-   Greenhouse (suggested by user jak kennedy 9/22/2016)
       o   Years ago Elon Musk first wanted to send a greenhouse to Mars to show the world a plant growing in Martian soil
           to spur interest in colonizing the red planet.  His frustration with the cost of sending the greenhouse led to
           the founding of SpaceX.  SpaceX may have moved on, but he may still wish to revive his original project.
-   Search for evidence of life, past or present (from Wikipedia’s RD mission statement)
       o   I am conflicted on this one as one of SpaceX’s primary goals is to find the best location for the
           Mars colony.  SpaceX will get only one shot at selecting the best location and that location will
           have to be over a significant subsurface ice field.  My concern is the need to exploit the subsurface
           ice and the desire by the Planetary Protection police to prevent contamination will always be in conflict.
           Something will have to be worked out eventually otherwise no humans would ever be allowed to land in any
           location suitable for a colony.

With just this list there seems to be a lot of extra room in the RD for more.  Rather than one each I could see having a small fleet of mini rovers going off in different directions and the same can be applied to drones or balloons.    At the moment I expect people will be going crazy speculating on MCT with Elon’s presentation next week, but eventually we will get back to the Red Dragons and what they will be bringing to the game.
« Last Edit: 11/21/2016 07:01 PM by L1Fan »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #1 on: 09/22/2016 03:04 PM »
The biggest problem is the time required to develop a robotic arm, a rover, or whatever else payload you want to put on Mars. Same goes for major structural modifications to the Dragon capsule itself, there's just not enough time to start now and have anything complex ready for the launch window in May 2018. Complex payloads can be thought of for the 2020 window and beyond, of course.

However, whatever is going on the 2018 attempt must be basically ready to go right now. As you said, something off the shelf, a backup experiment or sensor that was built for some other mission. That is something that can then be put in the 2018 Red Dragon, mounting brackets for it designed, power and comm lines routed, etc.

The Ames Red Dragon has deployable solar arrays on the nose of the Red Dragon, however, that might not work out if the nose cone is discarded during launch, as is described in the current mission ops plan, since the solar arrays would need to be protected during EDL on Mars.

If that's the case, then I strongly believe the 2018 Red Dragon will be a basically stock Dragon v2 except with no docking mechanism on the nose, and it will only be an EDL demonstrator, perhaps with some short-lived battery powered experiments on board, much like the ESA's Schiaparelli EDM lander is doing.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline L1Fan

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #2 on: 09/22/2016 03:57 PM »
Quote
If that's the case, then I strongly believe the 2018 Red Dragon will be a basically stock Dragon v2 except with no docking mechanism on the nose, and it will only be an EDL demonstrator, perhaps with some short-lived battery powered experiments on board, much like the ESA's Schiaparelli EDM lander is doing.

Good points on the minimal payloads for the first RD.  Even though the support hardware will likely not be in RD 2018, I was trying to point out what some of the future capabilities might be to support a fuller payload manifest.  With a plan to send a RD every 26 months, I suspect they are already working the issues now.

For RD 2018 I would like to point out we are talking about Elon Musk.  I cannot for a second believe he is going to drop a RD on the surface of Mars and not have the ability to get a 'selfie'.  Beyond the PR aspect of it I think it would be crucial to have an external inspection of the craft to see how it did during entry...internal sensors and fixed external cameras just isn't going to cut it.  I would also be surprised if they didn't have plans for at least a demonstration minimum solar recharge capability since it would be critical to support future missions.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #3 on: 09/22/2016 04:12 PM »
I don't have any inside information, but...

"there's just not enough time to start now and have anything complex ready for the launch window in May 2018."

As has been pointed out repeatedly, they have been planning missions along these lines for at least 5 years (and publishing or presenting on it), so we have no way of knowing how much work has already been done.  It may very well be that these things can't be done on the first flight, but it's not because the time's too short.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #4 on: 09/22/2016 04:35 PM »
I don't have any inside information, but...

"there's just not enough time to start now and have anything complex ready for the launch window in May 2018."

As has been pointed out repeatedly, they have been planning missions along these lines for at least 5 years (and publishing or presenting on it), so we have no way of knowing how much work has already been done.  It may very well be that these things can't be done on the first flight, but it's not because the time's too short.

SpaceX is going to put whatever hardware in it it wants to and has planned to. I assume this is more about what payloads can be added to it.
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
"There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules." - Larry J

Offline dror

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #5 on: 09/22/2016 05:08 PM »
I have followed L2 for quite a while and have finally decided to step into the fray with this topic.
...

And what a great first post !
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
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Offline jak Kennedy

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #6 on: 09/22/2016 05:33 PM »
Something I don't see in L1Fan's list is a greenhouse. A greenhouse on mars was Elon's original goal before he founded SpaceX although it might be no bigger than gallon or two.
I also agree with everything Phil Stooke said that this has been thought about for a while.

I doubt it is possible but it would be nice if the trunk could be used as a geostationary satellite with laser comms in Mars orbit. The solar panels don't seem optimal but I have no idea on the power they could produce at that distance. If the Dragon has to be light for entry maybe there could be capacity for fuel and thrusters in the trunk. At some stage they will almost certainly need good comms from Mars to Earth.

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #7 on: 09/22/2016 07:02 PM »
Really interesting thread starter and obviously a lot of work involved with creating it! Many thanks!

And topic moved to SpaceX Mars on request.

Offline drzerg

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #8 on: 09/23/2016 03:05 AM »
for soil probe thing. you can put some big drill inside dragon with no major modification of the vehicle. it can start do from inside through a small hole in heat shield or even do that hole by itself. data from 20-50 m deep in mars soil will be very important for future colonization. especially water appearance in soil.

Offline L1Fan

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #9 on: 09/23/2016 03:58 AM »
for soil probe thing. you can put some big drill inside dragon with no major modification of the vehicle. it can start do from inside through a small hole in heat shield or even do that hole by itself. data from 20-50 m deep in mars soil will be very important for future colonization. especially water appearance in soil.

Definitely should be on the list.  The Zaptec's 2 km approach is certainly on the extreme for RD.  The 20-50 m depth you mentioned should be achievable with some creative hardware.  It does bug me that all of our assessments of Mars so far is literally scratching the surface.  What does the deeper soil have to tell us when it hasn't been exposed to the harsh environment for millennia?   For example, do the toxic perchlorates persist with depth?  What about ice content and temperature by depth?  Good questions that a good drilling could answer.

Offline rakaydos

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #10 on: 09/23/2016 05:02 AM »
So the plan is to drill a core sample, and rather than deploy the drill out of the vehicle, the drill must first core it' way through the vehicles own pressure vessel and heat shield?

I see how it woud simplify deployment, but how feasible is that? Would the drill still be in shape to dig a core sample afterward?

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #11 on: 09/23/2016 05:44 AM »
So the plan is to drill a core sample, and rather than deploy the drill out of the vehicle, the drill must first core it' way through the vehicles own pressure vessel and heat shield?

A small opening in the pressure vessel is not that hard to make. They would have to drill through the heat shield but that is not a serious obstacle.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #12 on: 09/23/2016 01:54 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.
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Offline L1Fan

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #13 on: 09/23/2016 01:57 PM »
So the plan is to drill a core sample, and rather than deploy the drill out of the vehicle, the drill must first core it' way through the vehicles own pressure vessel and heat shield?

Consider using the landing leg tech to design an access port through the base of RD.  When retracted, it is already engineered to be an integral part of the heat shield.  The foot pad parts could be re-engineered for an access port...think of a latched door to a car's gas tank but double-latched for RD's sake.  The drill housing is already attached to the base of the RD internally.  Just release the latches on the access port and extend the drill head.

Moving the drilling assembly out of RD just doesn't seem practical.  If the drilling equipment is all internal, then it already has all of the anchoring/bracing it needs and has the weight of the RD itself to put behind it and everything should be hooked up and ready to go.  The hard part of assembling and testing everything would have already been done on Earth.

I would envision a stepped approach to drilling where a meter a day would not be unreasonable, but this would be dependent on power demands and availability.  It should be designed for this stop-and-go method anyway so that proper soil analysis can be performed on the samples.  After max depth was achieved there should be a way to monitor temperature by depth similar to the HP3 approach for long term monitoring.

Online JamesH65

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #14 on: 09/23/2016 02:01 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

Offline Jim

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #15 on: 09/23/2016 02:47 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
A.  University would have only bench test beds of instruments.  They don't go and fund flight instruments and build them only to have them sit on the shelf.
b.  When NASA selects a spacecraft for a mission, the funding for the spacecraft includes the instruments.

So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #16 on: 09/23/2016 05:44 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
>
So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

Aviation Week...

Quote
Among the candidates identified for 2018 is a prototype Mars helicopter to provide stereo color images of surface targets at 10 times the resolution available from orbit, a “Rover Environmental Monitoring Station” to transmit “daily and seasonal reports” on weather and ultraviolet radiation at the surface and a group of atmospheric-dust sensors. Also on the list is a compressor developed for the “Moxie” In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) oxygen-recovery experiment planned for the 2020 rover that would feed the dust sensors “if not integrated with [the] SpaceX ISRU plant.”
« Last Edit: 09/23/2016 05:46 PM by docmordrid »
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Online JamesH65

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #17 on: 09/23/2016 06:28 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
A.  University would have only bench test beds of instruments.  They don't go and fund flight instruments and build them only to have them sit on the shelf.
b.  When NASA selects a spacecraft for a mission, the funding for the spacecraft includes the instruments.

So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

I didn't say flight ready. Pretty sure the word prototype was in one sentence, although I did say ready to go, which was a mistake, as I didn't mean that. Prototype was what I meant.

Offline Jim

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #18 on: 09/23/2016 06:50 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
A.  University would have only bench test beds of instruments.  They don't go and fund flight instruments and build them only to have them sit on the shelf.
b.  When NASA selects a spacecraft for a mission, the funding for the spacecraft includes the instruments.

So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

I didn't say flight ready. Pretty sure the word prototype was in one sentence, although I did say ready to go, which was a mistake, as I didn't mean that. Prototype was what I meant.

Bench testbeds is even further removed.  They have to have an idea of the spacecraft to know how to build the prototype

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #19 on: 09/24/2016 02:51 AM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
>
So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

Aviation Week...

Quote
Among the candidates identified for 2018 is a prototype Mars helicopter to provide stereo color images of surface targets at 10 times the resolution available from orbit, a “Rover Environmental Monitoring Station” to transmit “daily and seasonal reports” on weather and ultraviolet radiation at the surface and a group of atmospheric-dust sensors. Also on the list is a compressor developed for the “Moxie” In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) oxygen-recovery experiment planned for the 2020 rover that would feed the dust sensors “if not integrated with [the] SpaceX ISRU plant.”
If you read the rest of that article, it backs up Jim's point:
"Even so, according to an internal document prepared late last year, NASA identified 62 payload options for SpaceX missions to Mars in 2018 and beyond, including 20 for the 2018 opportunity. None was found ready to fly, and none had funding."
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Online JamesH65

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #20 on: 09/24/2016 01:04 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
A.  University would have only bench test beds of instruments.  They don't go and fund flight instruments and build them only to have them sit on the shelf.
b.  When NASA selects a spacecraft for a mission, the funding for the spacecraft includes the instruments.

So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

I didn't say flight ready. Pretty sure the word prototype was in one sentence, although I did say ready to go, which was a mistake, as I didn't mean that. Prototype was what I meant.

Bench testbeds is even further removed.  They have to have an idea of the spacecraft to know how to build the prototype

Dragon 2 was 'launched' a couple of years ago now. RD missions have been discussed for years also.

But the point remains - people are not starting from nothing. They have 'something' which they need to engineer to fit, not develop from scratch.

Offline Negan

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #21 on: 09/24/2016 04:18 PM »
I vote for a Mars ascent vehicle. They are rocket builders after all.
« Last Edit: 09/24/2016 07:16 PM by Negan »

Offline smfarmer11

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #22 on: 09/27/2016 05:24 AM »
If they were going to add a mars ascent vehicle to the inside of the Dragon, they would most likely go for some variation of a sample return mission. Such a variant of dragon with a sort of launch silo using the docking port serving as the top hatch. This would necessitate some sort of sample collection device. However, I can't see this being ready in the time frame before the 2018 Mars transfer window. However it would be a great addition to a red dragon farther along the line, as part of a sample return architecture, and could possibly be paid for by NASA.

Online redliox

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #23 on: 09/27/2016 08:27 PM »
Has anyone asked Elon in his speech yet about plans for Red Dragon?
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline Jim

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #24 on: 09/27/2016 08:48 PM »
Please, everyone: unless you have specific knowledge that SpaceX hasn't started work on something, don't base your argument on SpaceX "not having enough time." SpaceX most certainly has been working on things like rovers already. We don't know how far along such things are. But it's safe to assume that if they're planning on flying something like that in 2018 that they didn't start just yesterday. So "not enough time" isn't a valid argument.

Not just SpaceX. Google Lunar X prize entrants have hardware, many Universities likely have prototype HW (Worth reading Roving Mars for some idea who might have equipment ready to go). Usually the only reasons this stuff is not complete/in use is nothing to install it in and no way to launch it.

No, not true.
A.  University would have only bench test beds of instruments.  They don't go and fund flight instruments and build them only to have them sit on the shelf.
b.  When NASA selects a spacecraft for a mission, the funding for the spacecraft includes the instruments.

So, in summary.  There is no back log of flight ready instruments ready waiting for launch opportunities.

I didn't say flight ready. Pretty sure the word prototype was in one sentence, although I did say ready to go, which was a mistake, as I didn't mean that. Prototype was what I meant.

Bench testbeds is even further removed.  They have to have an idea of the spacecraft to know how to build the prototype

Dragon 2 was 'launched' a couple of years ago now. RD missions have been discussed for years also.

But the point remains - people are not starting from nothing. They have 'something' which they need to engineer to fit, not develop from scratch.

wrong.  No Dragon 2 or RD accommodations have been provided to the instrument community.

Offline inonepiece

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #25 on: 10/01/2016 03:25 PM »
Could a 2020 / 2022 (or later) Red Dragon mission build a landing pad to help bootstrap a future ITS landing?

Elsewhere people have commented that it's difficult to see how the ITS upper stage could land on an unprepared surface and then be reused, because the engine nozzles would be subject to damage from flying surface debris.

One alternative proposed is that in the first ITS missions, the upper stage will not be reused.  That doesn't seem Musk's style to me: it would be to discard an expensive resource where there is likely an alternative that does not do so.  I can imagine him saying "an interplanetary spaceship isn't the cheapest Mars habitat you could imagine".  So perhaps instead RD will prepare the way?  How might that be done in a suitably minimal way?

I noticed there was one suggestion here (not in the context of RD).
« Last Edit: 10/01/2016 03:30 PM by inonepiece »

Offline biosehnsucht

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #26 on: 10/02/2016 06:27 AM »
Metal plates... ? Rather difficult to place and move, not to mention massive (how many RD flights is it going to take to land all the plates?)...

Instead, build a Roomba-style rover, with a grader attachment on the front, which goes out, pushes stuff around, then returns to the RD and recharges as needed. You could give it some solar panels of it's own so it can slow charge to a point at which it can return to RD for "fast" charging from it's larger arrays, in case, like many a Roomba, it doesn't always make it back before running out of juice.

Land the RD near the intended site, and send this guy out to smooth things over. Back and forth, over and over again, covering and recovering the same ground...

It might take a few years, but this guy will have nothing but time ...

If you need more mass to make grading effective, give it a scooping device and bucket to weight itself down...

Offline Jim_LAX

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #27 on: 10/02/2016 04:45 PM »
Adding a frenell lens could allow the robot to sinter the smoothed regolith into a glass like surface.
"I don't go along with going to the Moon first in order to build a launch pad to go to Mars.  We should go to Mars from Earth orbit."

Online JamesH65

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #28 on: 10/02/2016 08:01 PM »
wrong.  No Dragon 2 or RD accommodations have been provided to the instrument community.

Not the point I was making, but that unfortunately is to be expected with your replies. The instruments exist, in various shapes or forms, some theoretical, some with prototypes. They need to be engineered to fit. They now have RD to fit to, they may not have been supplied, yet.


(Note, had to crop a load of previous post so this would post without errors, so some context removed)




Offline Jim

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #29 on: 10/02/2016 08:52 PM »
wrong.  No Dragon 2 or RD accommodations have been provided to the instrument community.

Not the point I was making, but that unfortunately is to be expected with your replies. The instruments exist, in various shapes or forms, some theoretical, some with prototypes. They need to be engineered to fit. They now have RD to fit to, they may not have been supplied, yet.


Existing means there is hardware ready to install.  It does not mean " in various shapes or forms, some theoretical, some with prototypes." 

There are difference of years between "ready to install"  and " in various shapes or forms, some theoretical, some with prototypes." 
« Last Edit: 10/02/2016 08:57 PM by Jim »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Red Dragon Payloads Discussion Thread
« Reply #30 on: 10/02/2016 09:56 PM »
Last week I asked a few planetary scientists. They told me that they weren't doing RD payloads. Nor did they know of anyone doing a payload.

Its a tight knit community. They talk a lot to each other. If there is a payload, will know about in in less than a day.

Some have even suggested to SX payloads. Real simple to integrate ones. That would work with existing power and interface. And are almost literally "bolt on". So it's not for lack of trying. (SX, if you're listening and haven't heard, ask anyone and they'll route you to some small but sweet "deals" ;) ).

To qualify such for flight, they should have started a year ago (or more). And we are coming up to some hard limits soon.

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