Author Topic: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.  (Read 14340 times)

Offline Robotbeat

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How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« on: 04/25/2017 12:03 AM »
We know inaugural launch of Falcon Heavy is supposed to be with a reusable upper stage. Previous concept videos showed a VTVL upper stage that could basically function as a Mars lander, especially if it used subscale Raptors like the one SpaceX has been testing. Basically, we might see a prototype mini-BFS launch THIS YEAR.


With refueling, it could possibly be sent to Mars next year with some ground equipment for mining water and producing power. A big advantage of the mini-BFS concept is it means you only need a tenth as much power and water.

Crew launch in 2018 2020.
« Last Edit: 04/26/2017 11:21 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline smfarmer11

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #1 on: 04/25/2017 12:33 AM »
I don't know, that's a lot of technology to develop in a year and a half... Let alone by this fall/winter for the FH demo.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #2 on: 04/25/2017 12:52 AM »
https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/status/847882289581359104
"Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability. Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot."

https://mobile.twitter.com/elonmusk/status/850453029987917824
"Fairing is ~$5M, but that should be reusable this year. Am fairly confident we can reuse upper stage too by late next year to get to 100%.
4:59 PM · Apr 7, 2017"

And:
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: 04/25/2017 10:33 AM by Chris Bergin »
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #3 on: 04/25/2017 12:58 AM »
Dates probably as reliable as previous estimates.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #4 on: 04/25/2017 01:09 AM »
Here's some evidence:
Quote
Trump, though, said he wanted a faster timeline. “Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term,” he said. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?”

He reiterated an accelerated timeframe later in the discussion. “I’m very proud that I just signed a bill committing NASA to the aim of sending America astronauts to Mars,” he said, again referring to the authorization act. “So we’ll do that. I think we’ll do it a lot sooner than we’re even thinking.”

- See more at: http://spacenews.com/trumps-exuberance-for-mars-faces-technical-and-fiscal-challenges/#sthash.TeuqqfLY.dpuf
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #5 on: 04/25/2017 01:15 AM »
Not to get into politics, but Trump isn't exactly a space nut. He really knows nothing about space other than what people have told him. Who would have possibly told him that it's possible to get to Mars within his first term except Musk? Musk is on Trump's tech advisory group.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline friendly3

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #6 on: 04/25/2017 01:27 AM »
Quote
How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020

Easy, put a guy that has terminal cancer with one year left to live in the Red Dragon and send him on a one way trip to Mars in 2020.
Problem solved.

Offline su27k

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #7 on: 04/25/2017 01:33 AM »
A reusable upper stage does not equal mini-BFS, it could be as "simple" as a normal upper stage with added heatshield and steerable parachute. I don't see how they could have the resources to do any BFS before they finish what is already on their plate: Block 5, FH, Dragon 2.

(And Jim has been very insistent that there's no Raptor upper stage, I think he has more credibility than Trump...)
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 10:33 AM by Chris Bergin »

Offline dcporter

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #8 on: 04/25/2017 01:36 AM »
Not to get into politics, but Trump isn't exactly a space nut. He really knows nothing about space other than what people have told him. Who would have possibly told him that it's possible to get to Mars within his first term except Musk? Musk is on Trump's tech advisory group.

Plausible connection. I think equally plausible that he was saying nonsense or was joking.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #9 on: 04/25/2017 01:39 AM »
Y'all think I'm wrong? Fight me!

A reusable upper stage does not equal mini-BFS, it could be as "simple" as a normal upper stage with added heatshield and steerable parachute. I don't see how they could have the resources to do any BFS before they finish what is already on their plate: Block 5, FH, Dragon 2.

(And Jim has been very insistent that there's no Raptor upper stage, I think he has more credibility than Trump...)
Could be, but we do not know. Previous videos have shown vertical landing.

And even with just a heatshield (and likely split flaps for steering...), it's still retiring a lot of risk for a miniBFS.

I don't think Jim was wrong even if what I'm describing here is true. Musk explicitly HAD abandoned the upper stage reuse, for instance, but plans change.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 02:11 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline topo334

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #10 on: 04/25/2017 02:32 AM »
Maybe nobody told Trump anything, perhaps he suffers from a fevered ummmm, imagination?

Offline M_Puckett

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #11 on: 04/25/2017 02:36 AM »
The best you could hope for by 2020 would be a flyby with a minimal crew.  And that would still be super damn hard.

Offline pippin

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How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #12 on: 04/25/2017 02:39 AM »
What's that "technology for mining water" and stuff? And how does this power generation work the Länder is supposed to do?
Quite a bit of unobtainium you are planning to launch next year, IMHO.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 02:39 AM by pippin »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #13 on: 04/25/2017 02:40 AM »
What's that "technology for mining water" and stuff? And how does this power generation work the Länder is supposed to do?
Quite a bit of unobtainium you are planning to launch next year, IMHO.
What makes you think SpaceX hasn't been working on it already? They were working on it for Red Dragon, which was supposed to launch next year.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 02:41 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #14 on: 04/25/2017 02:44 AM »
What's that "technology for mining water" and stuff? And how does this power generation work the Länder is supposed to do?
Quite a bit of unobtainium you are planning to launch next year, IMHO.
What makes you think SpaceX hasn't been working on it already? They were working on it for Red Dragon.
Which they said won't make the '18 window.
Also: where does it say Red Dragon will mine water. Searching for water and mining water aren't exactly the same thing.

You still thing if you throw enough money at a problem it will get solved faster but below a certain schedule you just completely waste it.
You can't just hire a few thousand highly skilled people and expect them to be up to speed in their jobs tomorrow and the whole organization in place and everything, things don't work like that.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #15 on: 04/25/2017 02:52 AM »
No, I think SpaceX has been trying to solve the water mining problem for years. Why does everyone assume SpaceX has no secrets?

Additionally, 2020 is the earliest possible. Musk is also open to sending crew before full return propellant production is up and running, as evidenced by comments relating to ITS. Idea is that crew would finish the job of getting the ISRU plant up and running. You may think this is too risky for NASA to accept, and you're probably right, but this is the sort of thing Musk would keep in mind mentally when saying 2020 is possible.


I think people just aren't very good at imagining how you actually could do this by 2020. Can't get past the giggle factor. People don't even try, because they "know" it's impossible.

2020 is the earliest possible, but 2024 gives significant margin, if taking a similar approach.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 02:54 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline FishInferno

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #16 on: 04/25/2017 02:56 AM »
One of the stated purposes of the Red Dragons is to scout out multiple sites that could be used for a colony.  This approach puts a Yuge gamble on one colony site.

Yes, SpaceX could land the first crew anywhere and then land at the permanent colony site for future missions, but Elon has made it pretty clear that from the get-go, all missions will have the explicit job of building the colony.  A one-off landing just anywhere would be a waste of resources in the long run.
Comparing SpaceX and SLS is like comparing paying people to plant fruit trees with merely digging holes and filling them.  - Robotbeat

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #17 on: 04/25/2017 03:00 AM »
It's possible SpaceX first landing site wouldn't be their last try. I think they may prefer multiple trips to agonizing over a single spot.

And what's the difference between a one-off Red Dragon and a one-off reusable FH upper stage used as a lander? Might be similar in cost, neglecting the refueling flights.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 03:01 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #18 on: 04/25/2017 03:35 AM »
Reasons to believe it:

1) Musk likes to talk about the Mars colony as a "forcing function".  I've always taken that as meaning that once there are people on Mars, people on Earth won't want to stop resupplying them because that would sentence them all to death.  Sending a small number of people on a precursor mission is a sort of insurance policy for that -- not as good as having a big colony set up, but making it more likely that SpaceX's Mars plans will go forward even if Musk goes bankrupt.  Sending the early people means they have to finish ITS and fly it regularly, and that means the big colony can get started, and that just adds more pressure to never stop flying ITS.  So, basically, hostages.

2) Musk has a history of attempting crazy plans that are just barely plausible.  As SpaceX becomes more capable, what's barely plausible expands a great deal.

Reasons not to believe it:

1) There's only weak evidence for it.  The evidence seems to be from a few quotes that have more plausible mainstream interpretations.

2) Using a mini-BFR upper stage seriously compromises the business objectives of the Falcon Heavy demo flight.  If you're flying with a methane stage, you're not really testing the baseline Falcon Heavy configuration.  You're only testing the boosters.  You're not testing the full system, with a regular upper stage.  To be a good demo flight and assure customers Falcon Heavy won't splash their payloads, you want it to use the same upper stage regular Falcon Heavy flights will use.  But regular Falcon Heavy flights won't be using a methane upper stage, or that would cause all sorts of additional issues with building customer confidence.

3) They'd need to plumb 39A to support both methane and RP-1 at the same time.  That's a bunch more complication and delay.  Do they really want to do delay the introduction of their cash cow Falcon Heavy for that?

4) They wanted to get Red Dragon to Mars for the 2018 window, but they couldn't.  If they were too busy with other things to make that, it seems implausible that they could do the much more work for a human landing by 2020.

Offline FishInferno

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #19 on: 04/25/2017 03:48 AM »
And what's the difference between a one-off Red Dragon and a one-off reusable FH upper stage used as a lander? Might be similar in cost, neglecting the refueling flights.

I was including the subsequent crew flight in your scenario for the sake of my argument. 

Dragon is already being built with most of the R&D work done, and Red Dragon requires only a few modifications to the existing design.  By using Dragons, SpaceX can scout out landing sites before an ITS or mini ITS is completed, so by the time ITS is completed, it won't have to waste time scouting different sites. (I do not believe they have a ready-to-go mini ITS for the FH Demo)
Comparing SpaceX and SLS is like comparing paying people to plant fruit trees with merely digging holes and filling them.  - Robotbeat

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #20 on: 04/25/2017 03:51 AM »
I don't know that FH will ever be a cash cow. F9 is the cash cow.

FH will already be "compromising" the upper stage to add whatever reuse mods are needed. Besides, the expendable upper stage is the one part that is least different from a F9's equivalent.

We only recently heard about the 1018 date from Red Dragon being pushed back. This whole idea of launching a mini-BFS could be the reason, actually.

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Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #21 on: 04/25/2017 03:54 AM »

Also the TEL would be limited to 3.66m stage and existing fairing which is non-ideal for any kind of mini-ITS. Anything in the fairing would be so compromised to not be worth it.

That being said I think a mini-ITS and dragon landers could support a Mars direct mission on a much shorter timeline than ITS (even without factoring the higher funding required for ITS). But the Falcon Heavy demo launch isn't going ro be that.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 04:26 AM by GWH »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #22 on: 04/25/2017 04:03 AM »
Here's some evidence:
Quote
Trump, though, said he wanted a faster timeline. “Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term,” he said. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?”

He reiterated an accelerated timeframe later in the discussion. “I’m very proud that I just signed a bill committing NASA to the aim of sending America astronauts to Mars,” he said, again referring to the authorization act. “So we’ll do that. I think we’ll do it a lot sooner than we’re even thinking.”

- See more at: http://spacenews.com/trumps-exuberance-for-mars-faces-technical-and-fiscal-challenges/#sthash.TeuqqfLY.dpuf

Nope.  You have three options 1) He got it wrong. 2) He was Incorrectting, 3) he misspoke.  You can pick more than one.  There is no way that SpaceX or anyone else can get us Mars in three years.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #23 on: 04/25/2017 04:37 AM »
If they could get a mini-ITS up and running, I am thinking it could really on be feasible on a short time line if it was a cargo variant carrying a transit hab.
Could someone else pick up that task, who? 

Offline raketa

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #24 on: 04/25/2017 05:01 AM »
I have to laugh, several weeks ago, I was ban from the forum for "fake news". I actually just make a prediction, base on Trump desire to show USA is great, that he will order to go to Mars, not to Moon.
Now it is official and SpaceX is the way to go.For 2-3 billion a year, SpaceX will deliver us to Mars probably during the second term of  Trump's presidency.

Offline tvg98

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #25 on: 04/25/2017 05:41 AM »
I have to laugh, several weeks ago, I was ban from the forum for "fake news". I actually just make a prediction, base on Trump desire to show USA is great, that he will order to go to Mars, not to Moon.
Now it is official and SpaceX is the way to go.For 2-3 billion a year, SpaceX will deliver us to Mars probably during the second term of  Trump's presidency.

It's official? There's been no indication that Congress wants to increase NASA's budget to fund SpaceX (like CC), so funding SpaceX would likely mean the termination of the SLS/Orion program. That's probably not going to happen anytime soon, so unless you know something I don't, Trump's claim that we'll get to Mars by the end of his second term should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #26 on: 04/25/2017 09:26 AM »
The best you could hope for by 2020 would be a flyby with a minimal crew.  And that would still be super damn hard.

A landing with a Dragon is easier. The hard part is keeping them alive until ITS can get them back. It would require to reactivate the 2018 unmanned RedDragon mission. Probably doable if they delay commercial crew and leave that first flight to Boeing. Not that I believe they will do that but it is possible. They would need to land 3 or 4 RedDragons with supplies in 2020.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #27 on: 04/25/2017 09:33 AM »
We know inaugural launch of Falcon Heavy is supposed to be with a reusable upper stage. Previous concept videos showed a VTVL upper stage that could basically function as a Mars lander, especially if it used subscale Raptors like the one SpaceX has been testing. Basically, we might see a prototype mini-BFS launch THIS YEAR.


With refueling, it could possibly be sent to Mars next year with some ground equipment for mining water and producing power. A big advantage of the mini-BFS concept is it means you only need a tenth as much power and water.

Crew launch in 2018.

I see no way the methane architecture would launch this year with Falcon Heavy. I see it much more likely, in fact I believe that is what it will be, the reusable upper stage announced for next year, will be a methane architecture. 4m diameter is just fine to optimize capabilities and should be within what can be put on the TEL with only running methane propellant pipes up. But in time to do a launch to Mars in the 2018 window? It will need at least an unmanned landing before they send people relying on it. Even if they land with RedDragon, they need the supplies for survival, so fully depend on that stage landing on Mars.

Offline Jarnis

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #28 on: 04/25/2017 09:58 AM »
Have none of you considered that Trump was joking? That seemed obvious to me.

To me the underlying message was "ya NASA guys should probably pick up the pace a bit, your stuff is taking hilariously long".

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #29 on: 04/25/2017 12:02 PM »
He repeated it three times. Trump is not a space but. Someone must have told him something. Doesn't mean it will happen, of course.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Online wes_wilson

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #30 on: 04/25/2017 12:10 PM »
Assuming a working and fully reusable 2nd stage I wonder if there's an option for limited missions using just the F9 and FH architecture and some staging events.   

1st FH launches a manned Dragon to land at Mars.
2nd FH launches a reusable 2nd stage to land at Mars.  (yup, issues there too)
(or another variation might be re-fueling the 2nd stage in orbit and flying them there together)

On Mars Dragon gets put back on the 2nd stage which provides the trip home. 

One big obvious gotcha is existing 2nd stage using Kerlox and Mars ISRU should be Methalox; but maybe that's an argument for seeing Methalox on the 2nd stage eventually. 

Love the topic of the thread but I struggle to grok that if someone goes to Mars by 2020 it could be on anything but some variation of an F9/FH architecture.  SpaceX takes risks, but it would seem cavalier to send people on something without some degree of flight history.   



@SpaceX "When can I buy my ticket to Mars?"

Offline rockets4life97

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #31 on: 04/25/2017 12:41 PM »
Elon is more willing to take risk than many others in the industry. However, a crewed Red Dragon is simply too risky. SpaceX is making the bet on ITS for crewed missions to Mars (and beyond). They don't want to de-rail ITS by a failed crewed Red Dragon.

If the Trump administration came to Elon and asked how to get people on Mars faster, I expect he'd say fund ITS at 1 Billion for 10 years and we'll launch by a crewed 2024.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #32 on: 04/25/2017 12:50 PM »
I'm not saying a crewed Red Dragon. I'm suggesting the reusable upper stage of Falcon Heavy may be a kind of prototype for a subscale BFS.
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Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #33 on: 04/25/2017 01:17 PM »
Here's some evidence:
Quote
Trump, though, said he wanted a faster timeline. “Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term,” he said. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?”

He reiterated an accelerated timeframe later in the discussion. “I’m very proud that I just signed a bill committing NASA to the aim of sending America astronauts to Mars,” he said, again referring to the authorization act. “So we’ll do that. I think we’ll do it a lot sooner than we’re even thinking.”

- See more at: http://spacenews.com/trumps-exuberance-for-mars-faces-technical-and-fiscal-challenges/#sthash.TeuqqfLY.dpuf

Nope.  You have three options 1) He got it wrong. 2) He was Incorrectting, 3) he misspoke.  You can pick more than one.  There is no way that SpaceX or anyone else can get us Mars in three years.

Getting to Mars is easy. Getting BACK is the hard part, by far.

Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #34 on: 04/25/2017 01:30 PM »
Elon is more willing to take risk than many others in the industry. However, a crewed Red Dragon is simply too risky. SpaceX is making the bet on ITS for crewed missions to Mars (and beyond). They don't want to de-rail ITS by a failed crewed Red Dragon.

If the Trump administration came to Elon and asked how to get people on Mars faster, I expect he'd say fund ITS at 1 Billion for 10 years and we'll launch by a crewed 2024.

The fastest way is definitely a subscale BFS on FH. Perhaps even with an Al-Li LOX tank. That still has many tech barriers (Raptor, cryo refueling, cryo storage, long-term ECLSS, ISRU props, etc...) but at least they don't need to 2-3 years building a whole new factory, test facility, and launch pad before they can even START building and testing hardware.

Most of the required tech are things SpaceX could have (and almost certainly has) been working on behind the scenes to some extent. Not to the extent of flight-ready hardware, but at least proof-of-concept level.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #35 on: 04/25/2017 01:31 PM »
If what I'm proposing here is Musk's idea, then the plan IS to get the crew back, but it's possible the return trip might not happen until the next window.

With ITS, the plan was to send the propellant plant and robots on a previous uncrewed ITS, then finish any necessary assembly or fix any problems with crew when the crew arrives. This accelerates the timescale,  as you don't need to perfect automation in a provable way before sending the ITSes. Proving automation could take a decade or more.
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #36 on: 04/25/2017 01:33 PM »
Quote from: Robotbeat
I think SpaceX has been trying to solve the water mining problem for years. Why does everyone assume SpaceX has no secrets?

But what secrets could they possibly have? What the planetary science folks have discovered about Mars is pretty much open source--all people have equal access to the data, and there's no obvious, easy way to get a bunch of water. Attempts to use ground penetrating radar to find shallow aquifers has pretty much had negative results, so far. Part of the problem is that Mars is actually quite a bit colder than the Moon, so its cryosphere extends much deeper.

NASA has been doing a lot of research on mining techniques for Mars lately. The overall strategy seems to be to design for average conditions in order to be guaranteed of success. The main discovery so far is that it's going to be a harder, more mass intensive process than people have previously speculated.

Humans on Mars by the end of President Trump's term? No way, even by 2024. We would be lucky to see a human on the Moon's surface in that time.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #37 on: 04/25/2017 01:36 PM »
"What the planetary science folks have discovered about Mars is pretty much open source--all people have equal access to the data, and there's no obvious, easy way to get a bunch of water."

False. The planetary science folks I've talked to think there are easy methods to get water.

Yes there is. We've fairly recently come to the conclusion that virtually the entire surface of Mars is covered by regolith with at least 2% absorbed water, with some sites having far more. SpaceX may have been testing mining robots in simulated Martian conditions.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 01:38 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #38 on: 04/25/2017 01:44 PM »
If what I'm proposing here is Musk's idea, then the plan IS to get the crew back, but it's possible the return trip might not happen until the next window.

With ITS, the plan was to send the propellant plant and robots on a previous uncrewed ITS, then finish any necessary assembly or fix any problems with crew when the crew arrives. This accelerates the timescale,  as you don't need to perfect automation in a provable way before sending the ITSes. Proving automation could take a decade or more.
The return trip being later is plausible, but I can't envision Musk being willing to send crew ahead of the ISRU propellant production equipment. And I can't envision that equipment fitting on one or even 5 Red Dragons - the mass and volume requirements likely dictate at least a fairing-sized volume and 10x the mass that Red Dragon can land, just to make fuel for a mini-BFS.

IMO that precludes any crewed mission without a vehicle at least 5 meters in diameter capable of landing on, and once refueled, returning from Mars.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #39 on: 04/25/2017 02:17 PM »
"What the planetary science folks have discovered about Mars is pretty much open source--all people have equal access to the data, and there's no obvious, easy way to get a bunch of water."

False. The planetary science folks I've talked to think there are easy methods to get water.

Yes there is. We've fairly recently come to the conclusion that virtually the entire surface of Mars is covered by regolith with at least 2% absorbed water, with some sites having far more. SpaceX may have been testing mining robots in simulated Martian conditions.

My point exactly: getting a few percent water out of dirt does not fit the standard English definition of "easy". Easy would be pulling up to a Martian lake and pumping out water, or at least sinking a shallow well and pumping up liquid water.

Anyways, even if SpaceX is working on autonomous mining rovers, I can see why they might want to keep some design details proprietary, but why keep the very idea that they're working on such rovers a secret?

IOW, it's unlikely that President Trump let slip some inside information. Much more likely that he can't even keep the difference between the Moon and Mars straight in his head.

Does Donald Trump actually know where Mars is?
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Offline meberbs

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #40 on: 04/25/2017 02:49 PM »
My point exactly: getting a few percent water out of dirt does not fit the standard English definition of "easy". Easy would be pulling up to a Martian lake and pumping out water, or at least sinking a shallow well and pumping up liquid water.
We are talking about space nothing fits the standard definition of "easy." Compared to other problems, this doesn't seem like a particularly hard one. Put some soil in an oven at 20-30C. Pump the air from the oven (with the boiled off water) to a separate chamber at about 10x pressure (0.1 atm) Harvest the condensed water. There are obviously more details than that and other approaches as well, but while this is very important it doesn't seem hard on a relative scale.

Anyways, even if SpaceX is working on autonomous mining rovers, I can see why they might want to keep some design details proprietary, but why keep the very idea that they're working on such rovers a secret?
Same reason many aspects of ITS were kept secret. Releasing details of their plans at early stages of R&D doesn't help anything and will confuse people especially when the final product inevitably looks completely different.

As for the general topic of this thread, there is no way they are planning to send humans in 2020. It would be way more reckless than putting humans on EM-1, even with volunteers for a suicide mission, the backlash on a likely failure would delay their plans far more than any slight increase in their pace if things go well.

He repeated it three times. Trump is not a space but. Someone must have told him something. Doesn't mean it will happen, of course.
Trump repeating something doesn't mean it is based on any sort of reality. I shouldn't need to list examples here of all the things he has said repeatedly that are known to be false. Probably what he was told is that NASA's long term plan is Mars, and he decided he wanted that now, because of course he does. And he has no idea why it is a horrible idea to even attempt on that schedule (to the extent that a serious attempt is even possible).
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 02:57 PM by meberbs »

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #41 on: 04/25/2017 02:51 PM »
Did not EM promise an update on the Mars Architecture by the end of the month?

Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #42 on: 04/25/2017 02:52 PM »
Anyways, even if SpaceX is working on autonomous mining rovers, I can see why they might want to keep some design details proprietary, but why keep the very idea that they're working on such rovers a secret?

They don't keep it secret. Look at the RedDragon Mission Objectives from slide 15 of the IAC presentation.

Identify and characterize potential resources such as water.
Demonstrate key surface capabilities on Mars.

They just don't blare out we are going it all alone. We build that City. The intent is hoping to get others to join in.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #43 on: 04/25/2017 03:17 PM »
"Did not EM promise an update on the Mars Architecture by the end of the month?"

Maybe 'mentioned an update' would be a better way to phrase it.  If everything I mentioned that I might do was taken to be a promise I would be in serious trouble.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #44 on: 04/25/2017 04:24 PM »
Anyways, even if SpaceX is working on autonomous mining rovers, I can see why they might want to keep some design details proprietary, but why keep the very idea that they're working on such rovers a secret?

They don't keep it secret. Look at the RedDragon Mission Objectives from slide 15 of the IAC presentation.

Identify and characterize potential resources such as water.
Demonstrate key surface capabilities on Mars.

Right. That's what everybody says. Nothing there that implies they've got prototype rovers practicing mining water.

And it's not like SpaceX/Musk is bashful about announcing future technologies. How many decades now has Falcon Heavy been on the drawing board? MCX? Hyperloops? Rovers would seem comparatively easy. There's plenty of electric car and even autonomous driving tech at Tesla that could transfer over potentially, maybe. Yet, nothing specific in this regard, as far as I've heard. But I don't follow SpaceX particularly closely, so correct me if I'm wrong.
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Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #45 on: 04/25/2017 04:39 PM »
Rovers would seem comparatively easy. There's plenty of electric car and even autonomous driving tech at Tesla that could transfer over potentially, maybe. Yet, nothing specific in this regard, as far as I've heard.

Nothing specific. I mentioned a likely reason if you care to read my post.

Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #46 on: 04/25/2017 05:20 PM »
... Easy would be pulling up to a Martian lake and pumping out water, or at least sinking a shallow well and pumping up liquid water.

Anyways, even if SpaceX is working on autonomous mining rovers, I can see why they might want to keep some design details proprietary, but why keep the very idea that they're working on such rovers a secret?
Water might be easily accessed from glaciers in some areas by drilling a few meters down and pumping down a hot fluid (gas or liquid) like warmed CO2. The hot fluid melts the glacier and the pump pressure lifts liquid water back to the surface.

But, they don't need automated water mining at all if they ship the methane for the first few return flights from Earth. Water mining equipment would likely require a dedicated cargo shipment, and that vehicle could simply carry methane and wait to return later when fuel production is running. LOX can be sourced directly out of the atmosphere or electrolyzed from CO2.

Offline scienceguy

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #47 on: 04/25/2017 10:00 PM »
Didn't Trump talk to Elon some time ago? How do we know he didn't ask Elon if he could get to Mars by the end of his presidency?
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #48 on: 04/25/2017 11:45 PM »
Didn't Trump talk to Elon some time ago? How do we know he didn't ask Elon if he could get to Mars by the end of his presidency?
More like the other way around. Musk offered it to Trump, maybe when space policy came up.
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Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #49 on: 04/26/2017 09:45 PM »
I think a Mars flyby with a crew of two or so is possible by 2020, while landing would be much more difficult in that same timeframe.
Would take several FH launches and refueling (which is probably the main new tech for Spacex to develop for that).

Offline topo334

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #50 on: 04/26/2017 09:54 PM »
As interesting as this spec. forum is, remember that Trump wanting NASA on Mars by 2020 is as realistic as Trump's wall and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Ain't. Gonna.Happen. Big hat. no cattle.
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Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #51 on: 04/26/2017 10:06 PM »
I think a Mars flyby with a crew of two or so is possible by 2020, while landing would be much more difficult in that same timeframe.
Would take several FH launches and refueling (which is probably the main new tech for Spacex to develop for that).

A fly-by could probably be done with two FH launches and no refueling.

Offline spacenut

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #52 on: 04/26/2017 10:12 PM »
I think it will happen, but probably not by 2020 unless several billion are poured into it. 

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #53 on: 04/26/2017 11:25 PM »
I think it will happen, but probably not by 2020 unless several billion are poured into it.
I only consider 2020 a possibility, but a remote one. They really could accomplish it given enough money and risk acceptance. And even with a bunch of money, things would have to go right for them.

But 2022 and 2024 are more achievable.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 02:48 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #54 on: 04/27/2017 12:49 AM »
I think a Mars flyby with a crew of two or so is possible by 2020, while landing would be much more difficult in that same timeframe.
Would take several FH launches and refueling (which is probably the main new tech for Spacex to develop for that).

A fly-by could probably be done with two FH launches and no refueling.
2x FH launch 2x Dragon 2's on TMI. One Dragon has life support system, food and water stores. The other has a single crew member. After TMI, the two Dragons dock nose to nose, sharing power and resources. One Dragon has a high gain antenna in the Trunk module and the other Dragon carries ejectable Cubesat probes. With one Astronaut, the two Dragons should have enough room and supplies to make the Mars flyby mission and return to Earth. 2x Dragons should also have enough delta-v for maneuvers. I've also thought about using a third, windowless Dragon 1.0 modified to be a docking node/storm cellar/logistics module. Specs? the Dragon Node has no heatshield but it features a docking port at both zenith & nadir of the capsule so that all Dragons can dock inline in a 'train' configuration.

The Node Dragon would feature solar cells mounted on the capsule hull and additional insulation and polyethylene radiation shielding so the Node can function as a solar storm shelter. These three Dragon pressure hulls should feature enough habitable volume for two crew members for the long Mars flyby mission. There would still be enough mass potential for a Falcon Heavy to send both it and a full crew Dragon on TMI.
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Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #55 on: 04/27/2017 01:17 AM »
I think a Mars flyby with a crew of two or so is possible by 2020, while landing would be much more difficult in that same timeframe.
Would take several FH launches and refueling (which is probably the main new tech for Spacex to develop for that).

A fly-by could probably be done with two FH launches and no refueling.
2x FH launch 2x Dragon 2's on TMI. One Dragon has life support system, food and water stores. The other has a single crew member. After TMI, the two Dragons dock nose to nose, sharing power and resources. One Dragon has a high gain antenna in the Trunk module and the other Dragon carries ejectable Cubesat probes. With one Astronaut, the two Dragons should have enough room and supplies to make the Mars flyby mission and return to Earth. 2x Dragons should also have enough delta-v for maneuvers. I've also thought about using a third, windowless Dragon 1.0 modified to be a docking node/storm cellar/logistics module. Specs? the Dragon Node has no heatshield but it features a docking port at both zenith & nadir of the capsule so that all Dragons can dock inline in a 'train' configuration.

The Node Dragon would feature solar cells mounted on the capsule hull and additional insulation and polyethylene radiation shielding so the Node can function as a solar storm shelter. These three Dragon pressure hulls should feature enough habitable volume for two crew members for the long Mars flyby mission. There would still be enough mass potential for a Falcon Heavy to send both it and a full crew Dragon on TMI.
Replace the node Dragon with a dedicated support module with Dragon 2s docked to each end, and that's about right. Should be reasonably easy to build off something like Cygnus.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #56 on: 04/27/2017 01:37 AM »
Absolutely true. Though I was only suggesting 3x Dragon hulls so as to keep the whole supply chain in-house with SpaceX. If one was to do something with only Dragon and another Habitat; they could do worse than 1x Dragon Rider and a double or even triple-barrel Cygnus as the Hab module. Though I would advocate encasing it in layers of Kevlar and mylar for extra thermal and micrometeorite protection.
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Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #57 on: 04/27/2017 02:01 AM »
SpaceX isn't going to do this on their own, it would take some NASA money. Which is a lot more likely to be forthcoming from Congress if Orbital and ULA get some. Maybe a super Cygnus on DIVH to LEO rendezvous with Dragon on FH, doing a combined TMI burn after docking.

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #58 on: 04/27/2017 02:13 AM »
Can we get a human to Mars by 2020? Yes (technically). Can we get a human to Mars alive by 2020 and then return him to Earth alive (possible after 2020)? I'm skeptical. Safely? I'm very skeptical. I thought the mission of NASA's Cis-Lunar Habitat will be to figure out how to keep humans alive in deep space without succumbing to radiation sickness, cancer, dementia, muscle and bone loss (partly solved IIRC), social isolation, etc. And to do that there also needs to be a life support system robust enough to last the journey in the same harsh environment. The proving grounds missions are really important before sending humans beyond LEO. I don't see them being completed before 2020.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 02:24 AM by Jimmy_C »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #59 on: 04/27/2017 02:53 AM »
I don't get the idea of exposing people to space radiation just to see how bad it is to expose people to space radiation. Hyperbolic articles (and individuals looking for funding) aside, we are confident the astronauts will be fine for during of the mission. If we're going to expose people to space radiation for tests, they might as well be exposed while doing a Mars mission (and not TOO high exposure, so we'll have to land them on the surface...).

FWIW, I also wasn't imagining Dragon (Red or otherwise) to be used anywhere in this architecture with the sole exception of perhaps an extra safety measure for launching crew to orbit. Everything else would be just like full scale ITS. And the idea is an uncrewed mini-ITS sent in 2018 with cargo, not a Red Dragon as Red Dragons don't fit enough cargo. Perhaps 2 mini ITSes using atmospheric water mining to minimize risk and development time (the water mining equipment could be used for regolith processing once crew are on hand, but not strictly necessary for capturing enough water.).
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Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #60 on: 04/27/2017 03:20 AM »
How far along do you or anyone else think SpaceX is on long duration  life support etc that could actually outfit a mini-ITS (which may or may not be on the drawing board) for the journey?
A dragon 2 and cygnus or similar derived hodge podge might be likely... a fully integrated mini-ITS imo is just crazy for those time frames.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #61 on: 04/27/2017 03:39 AM »
How far along do you or anyone else think SpaceX is on long duration  life support etc that could actually outfit a mini-ITS (which may or may not be on the drawing board) for the journey?
A dragon 2 and cygnus or similar derived hodge podge might be likely... a fully integrated mini-ITS imo is just crazy for those time frames.
If you want details about this, I suggest you try L2. SpaceX has not been idle, and the IAC talk definitely did not show everything they've been working on.

I don't see why Cygnus would be better. If you have the life support systems, might as well integrate them into the mini-ITS/reusable upper stage that you'd need for an ascent vehicle. They have 3 years from now to do it. That's plenty if they have already done preliminary work on it.

This whole idea is contingent on the idea that SpaceX has been working on more behind the scenes than they've mentioned fully publicly. There is some evidence for that, and SpaceX kept that huge composite ITS engineering pathfinder tank secret before the IAC, and that thing is huge. And we know for a fact that Musk wants the upper stage reused for FH already on the FIRST FLIGHT, and that previous reuse concept video showed an ITS-like vertical landing with an implied flip from the entry position to the landing position. If it also happens to be based off of the subscale Raptors, then it's essentially a mini-ITS already. And even if it isn't, it can help retire some of the reentry risk of mini-ITS.

Again, 2020 would be the Elon optimistic timescale of everything going right. In reality, if this were the actual plan, 2022 or 2024 would probably end up being the real dates for first landing due to inevitable technical problems or delays.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 03:57 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #62 on: 04/27/2017 03:41 AM »
We'll find out when the SpaceX website is updated with the new "economical" ITS data and when Falcon Heavy gets closer to flight.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #63 on: 04/27/2017 04:32 AM »
SpaceX isn't going to do this on their own, it would take some NASA money. Which is a lot more likely to be forthcoming from Congress if Orbital and ULA get some. Maybe a super Cygnus on DIVH to LEO rendezvous with Dragon on FH, doing a combined TMI burn after docking.

If Elon has secret plans to land people on Mars in 2020, those plans certainly don't involve Cygnus or Delta IV.  As long a shot as it is for SpaceX to land people on Mars in 2020, 2022, or 2024, it would be a much longer shot if Cygnus or Delta IV were part of the mix.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #64 on: 04/27/2017 05:00 AM »
A fly-by could probably be done with two FH launches and no refueling.
Would be slow transit, though. I don't think that would be very comfortable and there would be worries about radiation. I would do a few FH launches more (probably still cheaper than a single SLS launch) and make it a fast transit, sling around and return. Probably right about the need to refuel. One might be able to do enlarged second stages and dock those together somehow instead. Would be a lot of wasted mass going to Mars, but would probably be technologically less challenging. If money is not a problem and you can afford a few launches extra, it probably does not matter.

Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #65 on: 04/27/2017 05:10 AM »
If you want details about this, I suggest you try L2. SpaceX has not been idle, and the IAC talk definitely did not show everything they've been working on.

I don't see why Cygnus would be better.

And we know for a fact that Musk wants the upper stage reused for FH already on the FIRST FLIGHT, and that previous reuse concept video showed an ITS-like vertical landing with an implied flip from the entry position to the landing position. If it also happens to be based off of the subscale Raptors, then it's essentially a mini-ITS already. And even if it isn't, it can help retire some of the reentry risk of mini-ITS.
Yes had L2 and let it lapse, may need to renew.

Cygnus *could* be better based on nextstep partnership already in place for deep space hab development.  Could be a Hodge
Podge  of other suppliers too, cygnus just being an example of one. Only building a cargo carrier mini-Its isolates the scope and allows for less contiguous tasks on critical path.
 Disimilar systems may be a plus too,  maybe not.

As for the original F9 reuse video... well things change. At this point its a coin toss as if they are developing that or parachutes. And to be blunt I think a Raptor upper stage showing up on a test  flight on a long delayed rocket that is losing customers (or on the verge of) is just crazy talk, especially when pad 2qork is already a driving constraint for not just FH but also D2  access tower.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 05:13 AM by GWH »

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #66 on: 04/27/2017 06:24 AM »
SpaceX certainly isn't going to land anyone on Mars by 2020, but it is just inside the realm of possibility that they could do an Inspiration Mars style flyby in the 2020-plus timeframe. If Red Dragon proves to be a reliable surface lander, by 2030 it is also in the realms of possibility that one could land a small crew on Mars by 2030 or so, to rendezvous with a pre-positioned surface habitat - also probably Dragon & Inflatable derived. The Red Dragon's crew would have been living in a jettisonable Hab module for the outbound trip. The Ascent Vehicle could be a Dragon-derived craft that was fueled by Solar & RTG powered ISRU, rising to rendezvous with another Dragon-derived Earth Return Vehicle waiting in Martian orbit; docked to a small Hab that would be jettisoned before Earth entry.

This would likely only be a 2 or 3 person 'Flags & Footprints' 3 or 4 week stay on Mars - similar to a mission proposed by Robert Zubrin back in 2011. Some would sneer at it as not being worth the effort. But I would disagree - it would be people on fricken' Mars, for heavens sake - done with an intelligent and ameliorating use of existing launchers and spacecraft, coupled with some new hardware development. It could be a mere precursor to the bigger and better things that Elon's ITS and maybe NASA were going to do later...
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Offline su27k

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #67 on: 04/27/2017 09:16 AM »
Assuming for the moment that it is Musk who put the idea in Trump's head, I don't see why it has to be Raptor upper stage, I mean if you have the president's ear you might as well pitch your biggest plan, instead of a severely scaled-back plan, especially given your biggest plan wouldn't cost that much in terms of government budget. The timeline in the Mars presentation already fulfills the "at worst, during my second term" part, for the "try and do it during my first term" part I think they can postpone the BFR booster and focus on BFS instead, assuming it can indeed do SSTO, they can use SSTO tanker BFS to fill up a SSTO cargo BFS and do a small cargo run in 2020. The timeline gives "Ship Testing" between mid 2018 to the end of 2019, so meeting the 2020 window is not entirely out of question, if the SSTO assumption holds.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 09:25 AM by su27k »

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #68 on: 04/27/2017 11:17 AM »
A fly-by could probably be done with two FH launches and no refueling.
Would be slow transit, though. I don't think that would be very comfortable and there would be worries about radiation. I would do a few FH launches more (probably still cheaper than a single SLS launch) and make it a fast transit, sling around and return. Probably right about the need to refuel. One might be able to do enlarged second stages and dock those together somehow instead. Would be a lot of wasted mass going to Mars, but would probably be technologically less challenging. If money is not a problem and you can afford a few launches extra, it probably does not matter.
2 FH can do a 100 day transit with 2 Dragons and a small hab. But that's not enough volume if they land, and has no way to return (not a big problem for a flyby, but SpaceX doesn't seem interested in a flyby).

A small BFS on FH solves both volume and return issues, but with a lot more low-TRL technology.

Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #69 on: 04/27/2017 05:43 PM »
What is this "Mini ITS", btw? Or a Raptor upper stage? Where does all this unobtainium come from only three years from now when SpaceX can't even get FH up and running in five?

As of today there isn't even a fully functioning and tested Raptor engine, subscale or not, let alone all these new spacecraft, stages, ground infrastructure etc.

This is one of the most nonsensical discussions I've ever seen on this site.

Offline spacenut

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #70 on: 04/27/2017 05:53 PM »
We geared up and fought WWII at impressive speed.  Several hundred ships, thousands of tanks, planes, trucks, landing craft, guns, etc.  With enough money, people, and urgency, things can get done.  Just like Apollo.  Plans for Apollo were in the works before Kennedy made his famous speech, money just spead up the process. 

Personally NASA back in the 1960's might even had done is a little cheaper.  Johnson moved NASA headquarters to Houston.  He also had much of NASA spread over several states.  This was a political move to get those states senators and representatives on board with funding for NASA.  If things were more centrally located like at the Cape or using existing facilities like at Marshall, costs may have been brought down and still accomplished the mission.

Offline pippin

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How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #71 on: 04/27/2017 06:09 PM »
All of the major components for Apollo except for KSC launch infrastructure were already being worked on, facilities in place, people staffed at a significant scale etc and still it took more than twice as long as this with all the money in the world being poured into it.

This discussion is nonsense.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 06:12 PM by pippin »

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #72 on: 04/27/2017 07:11 PM »
Crew in 2020 means a test flight in 2018, which means flight hardware rolling to KSC one year from right now. Unless the coming ITS updates includes notice that they are testing a ITS precursor vehicle Grasshopper-style at McGregor this summer (or something equally surprising), sending it to Mars in 2020 with crew is completely and totally implausible.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #73 on: 04/27/2017 07:35 PM »
Maybe someone has already stated this, but I don't think SpaceX wants to send humans to Mars by 2020.  That would be a gigantic distraction to create a sub-optimal effort that if anything would hobble their better Mars plans.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Ludus

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #74 on: 04/27/2017 07:36 PM »
It seems like an effort to put people on Mars before and independently of ITS would make things harder for ITS rather than easier.

Any form of reusability for the S2 would help not just the ITS design process but the Constellation project since farings and S2s are the next big cost once the Booster cores are rapidly reusable.

Taking the reusable S2 and trying to make it into a Mars lander though would seem to just pull peoplecand resources from the ITS on a timeline not very different from what's already announced for ITS.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #75 on: 04/27/2017 08:23 PM »
Maybe someone has already stated this, but I don't think SpaceX wants to send humans to Mars by 2020.  That would be a gigantic distraction to create a sub-optimal effort that if anything would hobble their better Mars plans.

Of course they don't want to do something senseless like that. But a few trucks full of money would make it worth the effort. Plus they could even learn something on the way.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #76 on: 04/28/2017 12:57 AM »
It seems like an effort to put people on Mars before and independently of ITS would make things harder for ITS rather than easier.

Any form of reusability for the S2 would help not just the ITS design process but the Constellation project since farings and S2s are the next big cost once the Booster cores are rapidly reusable.

Taking the reusable S2 and trying to make it into a Mars lander though would seem to just pull peoplecand resources from the ITS on a timeline not very different from what's already announced for ITS.
It would essentially have to be a miniature ITS in order to work. It would be a prototype of ITS.

People have this mistaken notion that the idea here is to hobble something together using Dragons and such. That is not what I'm suggesting.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 12:58 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #77 on: 04/28/2017 01:51 AM »
Maybe someone has already stated this, but I don't think SpaceX wants to send humans to Mars by 2020.  That would be a gigantic distraction to create a sub-optimal effort that if anything would hobble their better Mars plans.

Of course they don't want to do something senseless like that. But a few trucks full of money would make it worth the effort. Plus they could even learn something on the way.

Just like throwing money at the SLS won't speed it up much at this point, I don't think throwing money at SpaceX could speed up their ITS plans much.  Kind for the same reasons 9 women can't make a baby in one month...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #78 on: 04/28/2017 02:17 AM »
Crew in 2020 means a test flight in 2018, which means flight hardware rolling to KSC one year from right now. Unless the coming ITS updates includes notice that they are testing a ITS precursor vehicle Grasshopper-style at McGregor this summer (or something equally surprising), sending it to Mars in 2020 with crew is completely and totally implausible.
Consider these facts:
1) Musk has been obsessed with 2nd stage reuse for a long time now. From hints I've heard, they've done some interesting experiments with the 2nd stage after the primary mission is accomplished.
2) 2nd Stage reuse was the assumed goal for a while, and was part of that one Falcon 9 reuse video. It looks a heck of a lot like a small BFS.
3) SpaceX got an Air Force Contract for Raptor development that explicitly stated it was for an upper stage for Falcon Heavy. The subscale Raptor they tested is the right size for such an upper stage. It's not just a BS stunt they pulled for the IAC talk, the test was a critical part of meeting the requirements for the USAF contract. Now was SpaceX lying about wanting to build a Falcon Heavy upper stage using Raptor? I SINCERELY doubt that. They may have changed their minds later (next point), but they were not BSing the Air Force. You really don't want to BS people with guns and bombs. I'd bet they had at least some initial design of this Raptor stage that they showed the Air Force while they were proposing this contract. And most likely, if they did have such a design, it was reusable. These aren't all certainties, but they do seem likely to me. And it is a fact that the contract contained such language. Anyone want to disagree with me here?
4) Musk tweeted: "Really tempting to redesign upper stage for return too (Falcon Heavy has enough power), but prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket" in July of 2016. That's less than a year ago, and BEFORE their 2016 on-pad explosion. Skipping straight to the "Mars rocket" is pretty ambitious even before that significant setback.
5) Musk tweeted in March that "Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability. Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot."
This is a change back from 8 months prior. There are more comments that suggest that SpaceX is serious about this and hope for success in this aspect sometime next year. It's quite possible they had started preparing for a reusable stage prior, perhaps even finalizing designs and starting fabrication only for it to be put on hold as Musk ups the ante to full scale ITS. Then, the failure happened, IAC happened, SpaceX was able to do 1st stage reuse and now are reviving this second stage reuse effort (quite possibly based on Raptor). This is significant. If SpaceX thinks they can attempt reuse of the upper stage by the end of summer or fall, that means they're not starting from scratch but are picking up previous efforts. I mean, unless you think they believe they can go from expendable upper stage to reusable upper stage in just 5 months with no previous work...
6) The IAC timeline already shows "Spaceship testing" in 2018. So suggesting a much smaller version could be ready for flight using the subscale engine they've already tested is keeping with this timeline. Only, it could be done orbitally much sooner since under the assumptions in this thread, it'd be launched on Falcon Heavy, essentially the reusable upper stage but with a place for crew and/or cargo (or simply stretched for propellant, if it's a tanker variant).
7) Elon Musk announces a more economic update to ITS that can be done without causing the company to go bankrupt. This being done at basically the same time that Musk announced the INAUGURAL Falcon Heavy will attempt upper stage reuse, expecting upper stage reuse to be effective by sometime next year.

This all points to one possible way Musk could convince himself that a crewed landing by 2020 is actually possible, though far from likely due to all the things that have to work perfectly for that date to be met.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #79 on: 04/28/2017 02:20 AM »
Maybe someone has already stated this, but I don't think SpaceX wants to send humans to Mars by 2020.  That would be a gigantic distraction to create a sub-optimal effort that if anything would hobble their better Mars plans.

Of course they don't want to do something senseless like that. But a few trucks full of money would make it worth the effort. Plus they could even learn something on the way.

Just like throwing money at the SLS won't speed it up much at this point, I don't think throwing money at SpaceX could speed up their ITS plans much.  Kind for the same reasons 9 women can't make a baby in one month...
SpaceX was already planning ITS spaceship flight testing next year. The difference of this thread is it'd be much smaller and launched on a rocket that's already built and partially acceptance tested in McGregor as we speak.

You CAN speed up the time it takes to give birth to a baby if you're willing to give birth to a smaller baby (and if some of those 9 women are neonatal nurses and doctors).
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #80 on: 04/28/2017 02:24 AM »
All of the major components for Apollo except for KSC launch infrastructure were already being worked on, facilities in place, people staffed at a significant scale ...
Well the KSC launch infrastructure is already in place in this case. SpaceX's facilities are in place, and has over 5000 (or is it 6000?) employees, which is definitely "at a significant scale." And from what I can tell, SpaceX HAS been working on the major components to this already and were already planning for flight testing the ITS spaceship in 2018.
Quote
This discussion is nonsense.
Not at all.

Let's wait and see what Musk is proposing for an update to ITS.
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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #81 on: 04/28/2017 02:33 AM »
A "smaller" ITS is a completely different vehicle.
Where does KSC have that infrastructure you are mentioning for this? GSE for the methane stages and everything included.
Last time I looked not even the infrastructure for FH was competed and now you are suggesting they are shutting down that pad again soon to build something new for a Mars stunt using a nonexistent vehicle three years from now just because someone throws money at them?
You are suggesting the government could throw so much money at them that Musk would scrap his existing business including pissing off customers who are already waiting for their long delayed flights just to do this?

Why?

Plus, last time I looked at his Instagram account Musk seemed to have other priorities right now.

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #82 on: 04/28/2017 02:34 AM »
What is this "Mini ITS", btw? Or a Raptor upper stage?
You mean the Raptor upper stage in SpaceX's Raptor contract with the Air Force?
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Where does all this unobtainium come from
How is this unobtainium? SpaceX went from first successful launch of Falcon 1 in 2008 to first launch and RECOVERY of Dragon in 2010, just 2 years.

Quote
As of today there isn't even a fully functioning and tested Raptor engine, subscale or not
There is a functioning subscale Raptor. It has been test-fired, including the powerhead. The Raptor engine was tested in 2016 (though, like BE-4, its pieces have been tested years ago already), I'm suggesting it could be ready for use in 2018. By comparison, the BE-4 has not been test-fired yet but is expected to be tested here sometime in 2017, but ULA expects Vulcan to launch in 2019.

Quote
This is one of the most nonsensical discussions I've ever seen on this site.
You must not visit this site very much, then.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #83 on: 04/28/2017 02:36 AM »
A "smaller" ITS is a completely different vehicle.
Where does KSC have that infrastructure you are mentioning for this? GSE for the methane stages and everything included.
Last time I looked not even the infrastructure for FH was competed and now you are suggesting they are shutting down that pad again soon to build something new for a Mars stunt using a nonexistent vehicle three years from now just because someone throws money at them?
You are suggesting the government could throw so much money at them that Musk would scrap his existing business including pissing off customers who are already waiting for their long delayed flights just to do this?

Why?

Plus, last time I looked at his Instagram account Musk seemed to have other priorities right now.
You're just trolling, now. Not contributing to the conversation. Let's just wait and see what Musk will announce.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #84 on: 04/28/2017 02:41 AM »
Red Dragon was also scratched from 2018. I half-wonder if it's because they've decided to cancel Red Dragon to focus on accelerating this (proposed) subscale BFS instead.

2018 does happen to allow exceptionally low-energy transfers to Mars.
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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #85 on: 04/28/2017 02:47 AM »
A contract is just paper. Where is that stage?
And regarding reuse, Musk himself said that what they are doing with the upper stage on FH is just a very wild shot at the problem. They are just starting to figure this out and look at how long it took for the first stage. 7 years between first flight of an F9 and the first reflight of a recovered stage. This is not something they'll compress to just a few months for the upper stage, especially since the problems involved are completely different.

How is this unobtainium? SpaceX went from first successful launch of Falcon 1 in 2008 to first launch and RECOVERY of Dragon in 2010, just 2 years.
No, they did not.
This is the whole misconception behind all of this discussion here.
SpaceX did NOT start development of F9 and Dragon and stuff only after the first F1 launch, they had already worked on them for many years when F1 first flew.

If they already had a methane stage flying or at least some Raptors or several operational pads so that they can easily spare one for a year or actually had done any manned flight or actually had flown FH, but so far they have done none of this and have enough other priorities.

Quote
Quote
This is one of the most nonsensical discussions I've ever seen on this site.
You must not visit this site very much, then.
You mean this site is full of nonsense? Nah, mostly really good stuff here.
Granted, I typically avoid discussion threads so my impression of NSF might be a bit skewed.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 02:51 AM by pippin »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #86 on: 04/28/2017 02:53 AM »
A contract is just paper. Where is that stage?
Stop. Let me do a poll of what you think my opinion is.
Am I:
1) Saying that SpaceX WILL accomplish a crewed landing in 2020, that everything has been proven?
2) Saying that Elon Musk thinks they WILL most likely accomplish a crewed landing in 2020?
3) Saying that Elon Musk might think it's not impossible to accomplish a crewed landing in 2020 (though 2024 much more likely), contingent on the idea that SpaceX MIGHT already have been working on related stuff they haven't been public about yet?
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #87 on: 04/28/2017 02:55 AM »
..
SpaceX did NOT start development of F9 and Dragon and stuff only after the first F1 launch, they had already worked on them for many years when F1 first flew....
They got the COTS award in 2006. So "years" as in "two years." (Yes, they had done some stuff related to Dragon... for instance, they bought some sort of mockup of a spacecraft from I think some British company, but it was completely unrelated to the capsule design SpaceX ended up going with. SpaceX also had to prepare their COTS proposal, so they had some preliminary work there, too.)

Likewise, I'm saying it's possible SpaceX has already put in a lot of work for this. They're definitely less open about their activities than they were in the early days, when they'd have tour videos of their factory, frequent blog posts with pictures, etc.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 02:58 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #88 on: 04/28/2017 02:57 AM »
A contract is just paper. Where is that stage?
Stop. Let me do a poll of what you think my opinion is.
Am I:
1) Saying that SpaceX WILL accomplish a crewed landing in 2020, that everything has been proven?
2) Saying that Elon Musk thinks they WILL most likely accomplish a crewed landing in 2020?
3) Saying that Elon Musk might think it's not impossible to accomplish a crewed landing in 2020 (though 2024 much more likely), contingent on the idea that SpaceX MIGHT already have been working on related stuff they haven't been public about yet?

I really don't care what your opinion is but _my_ opinion is that (insanities like suicide missions aside) there is no way that SpaceX could land a crew on Mars by 2020 no matter what happens or is being tried, including throwing 100% of the US federal budget at them. And that Musks knows that very well and has no such plans.

2024 might be something he might be convinced to do if you throw REALLY lots of money at him, in all other cases my opinion is he will just continue to do what he's currently doing: building a space business and evolving it towards being able to land people on Mars ASAP with no too clear schedule, yet, of when that actually will be.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 03:09 AM by pippin »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #89 on: 04/28/2017 03:12 AM »
A contract is just paper. Where is that stage?
Stop. Let me do a poll of what you think my opinion is.
Am I:
1) Saying that SpaceX WILL accomplish a crewed landing in 2020, that everything has been proven?
2) Saying that Elon Musk thinks they WILL most likely accomplish a crewed landing in 2020?
3) Saying that Elon Musk might think it's not impossible to accomplish a crewed landing in 2020 (though 2024 much more likely), contingent on the idea that SpaceX MIGHT already have been working on related stuff they haven't been public about yet?

I really don't care what your opinion is but _my_ opinion is that (insanities like suicide missions aside) there is now way that SpaceX could land a crew on Mars by 2020 no matter what happens or is being tried, including throwing 100% of the US federal budget at them. ...
Suicide missions not required if you send sufficient supplies and later an ascent vehicle. See? There is a way.

If that bothers you, remember this is exactly how Musk determines his optimistic timescales for what's possible. If it's not LITERALLY physically impossible, then he'll say it's possible. And that's my point. I agree 2020 is incredibly far-fetched. But given the way Musk thinks, he probably considers it a physical possibility (though very unlikely).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #90 on: 04/28/2017 03:23 AM »
Suicide missions not required if you send sufficient supplies and later an ascent vehicle. See? There is a way.
Can send as many supplies if you want if you die on a failed landing or if your untested equipment you cobbled together in two years then doesn't last for 5 years on Mars.
Medical aspects aside because we simply don't have enough data to know whether you will still be able to live on earth after an extended stay on Mars with it's low gravity.
So you'd have to be prepared to die on the mission which in my book makes it a suicide mission.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 03:24 AM by pippin »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #91 on: 04/28/2017 03:30 AM »
...
So you'd have to be prepared to die on the mission which in my book makes it a suicide mission.
That makes it literally no different than what Elon Musk already presented at the IAC talk.

And I quote:
"Are you prepared to die? If that's okay, then you're a candidate for going." --Elon Musk. Source: http://www.theverge.com/2016/9/27/13080836/elon-musk-spacex-mars-mission-death-risk

Your objection applies just as much to the regular ITS plan.


...and now the thread is COMPLETELY derailed.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 03:33 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #92 on: 04/28/2017 03:39 AM »
...
So you'd have to be prepared to die on the mission which in my book makes it a suicide mission.
That makes it literally no different than what Elon Musk already presented at the IAC talk.

And I quote:
"Are you prepared to die? If that's okay, then you're a candidate for going." --Elon Musk. Source: http://www.theverge.com/2016/9/27/13080836/elon-musk-spacex-mars-mission-death-risk

Your objection applies just as much to the regular ITS plan.
Depends on when ITS is going.
Give them another 15 years and there'd be more time for research so you can reduce uncertainty.
Quote
...and now the thread is COMPLETELY derailed.
That's what it's been from the very beginning.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #93 on: 04/28/2017 03:57 AM »
If you have a problem with the way SpaceX approaches risk, please discuss it in another thread.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline zodiacchris

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #94 on: 04/28/2017 04:44 AM »
Hmm, the way that SpaceX approaches risk, they will probably be sending a wheel of cheese to Mars in 2020. The concept of crew to Mars in 2020, specifically using raptor technology and a mini-ITS, does strike me as somewhat random, and not supported even hint wise by what Elon has said. Bringing a second stage back Hail Mary style does not seem to imply that there is a semi developed mini ITS in the woodwork somewhere.
They also haven't send a passenger up in a cargo dragon with a rigged up life support system even though they could have done that since 2012, instead they are crossing all their Ts and dotting their Is, and have NASA astronauts fly them next year.
So yes, this thread's topic is a very unlikely and long shot, so don't be surprised if people voice their scepticism. I have valued your postings in the decade that I have been on NSF and give you cudos for a lot of good ideas and insights, but don't get to carried away with this one   :)

Offline Semmel

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #95 on: 04/28/2017 05:39 AM »
Robotbeat, what is this thread about? Showing Musks though process and how he set the bug in Trumps ear to get people to Mars in Trumps first term?

Offline meberbs

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #96 on: 04/28/2017 05:59 AM »
A contract is just paper. Where is that stage?
Stop. Let me do a poll of what you think my opinion is.
Am I:
1) Saying that SpaceX WILL accomplish a crewed landing in 2020, that everything has been proven?
2) Saying that Elon Musk thinks they WILL most likely accomplish a crewed landing in 2020?
3) Saying that Elon Musk might think it's not impossible to accomplish a crewed landing in 2020 (though 2024 much more likely), contingent on the idea that SpaceX MIGHT already have been working on related stuff they haven't been public about yet?
I really hope the answer is "none of the above" because you would have to ignore multiple direct statements from both Musk and SpaceX to come to any of those conclusions. Anyone with L2 membership knows SpaceX is working on more than what is obviously visible including what is known in L2, but it is also known that they are still on sub-scale Raptor development, and in the phase of tank design that involves blowing up large pressure vessels. 2024 was the absolute best case as of the IAC announcement, and Musk clearly knew then that even with unlimited funding, it would likely slip. Claiming that they secretly have a design ready to go that can launch humans to Mars in 2020 is absurd.

I would like to ask what in the world makes you think that Elon Musk believes there is any path that leads to humans on Mars in 2020?

Offline pippin

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #97 on: 04/28/2017 06:08 AM »
If you have a problem with the way SpaceX approaches risk, please discuss it in another thread.

I have absolutely no problem with the way SpaceX handles risk. To the contrary, I believe they have a very sensible way of approaching risk which is why I don't believe they are even remotely considering any of the things you are proposing here WRT landing people on Mars in 2020
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 06:09 AM by pippin »

Offline savuporo

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #98 on: 04/28/2017 06:17 AM »
Getting to Mars is easy...
No
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #99 on: 04/28/2017 08:23 AM »
I don't get the idea of exposing people to space radiation just to see how bad it is to expose people to space radiation. Hyperbolic articles (and individuals looking for funding) aside, we are confident the astronauts will be fine for during of the mission. If we're going to expose people to space radiation for tests, they might as well be exposed while doing a Mars mission (and not TOO high exposure, so we'll have to land them on the surface...).

It's not just radiation but also being able to mitigate against loss of mental performance, loss of muscular and skeletal structure, reduced kidney/immune system/other organ performance, etc. Not to mention having a high performance life support system that doesn't require much maintenance, equipment that can be relied upon, the ability to fix issues that arise, etc. The risk to the crew is greatly reduced with a relatively quick ability to abort and having the option to get replacement parts or supplies from Earth quickly. Imagine if a grave design or logistical flaw was discovered in route and a part from Earth could save the crew if they were still in orbit. Being sure one understands as much as possible beforehand isn't just prudent but necessary. The unknown unknowns are what proving ground missions help uncover.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #100 on: 04/28/2017 08:37 AM »
It's not just radiation but also being able to mitigate against loss of mental performance, loss of muscular and skeletal structure, reduced kidney/immune system/other organ performance, etc. Not to mention having a high performance life support system that doesn't require much maintenance, equipment that can be relied upon, the ability to fix issues that arise, etc. The risk to the crew is greatly reduced with a relatively quick ability to abort and having the option to get replacement parts or supplies from Earth quickly. Imagine if a grave design or logistical flaw was discovered in route and a part from Earth could save the crew if they were still in orbit. Being sure one understands as much as possible beforehand isn't just prudent but necessary. The unknown unknowns are what proving ground missions help uncover.

None of the equipment tests require exposure to higher radiation. Much easier and more efficiently done in LEO, potentially even attached to the ISS.

Offline pippin

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How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #101 on: 04/28/2017 12:30 PM »
It's not just radiation but also being able to mitigate against loss of mental performance, loss of muscular and skeletal structure, reduced kidney/immune system/other organ performance, etc. Not to mention having a high performance life support system that doesn't require much maintenance, equipment that can be relied upon, the ability to fix issues that arise, etc. The risk to the crew is greatly reduced with a relatively quick ability to abort and having the option to get replacement parts or supplies from Earth quickly. Imagine if a grave design or logistical flaw was discovered in route and a part from Earth could save the crew if they were still in orbit. Being sure one understands as much as possible beforehand isn't just prudent but necessary. The unknown unknowns are what proving ground missions help uncover.

None of the equipment tests require exposure to higher radiation. Much easier and more efficiently done in LEO, potentially even attached to the ISS.
Oh, sure.
But it still takes time.
Or, as one kid from a big consultancy once said in a project I was on:
"What else do. we need for milestone x?"
"600 more hours of endurance testing"
"Can we do it till Friday?"
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 12:31 PM by pippin »

Online envy887

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #102 on: 04/28/2017 02:49 PM »
Getting to Mars is easy...
No
Try not snipping the context next time.

Getting to Mars isn't as easy as walking down the street, but it's WAY easier then going there AND coming back in one piece.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #103 on: 04/28/2017 04:23 PM »
I asked this over on the main Missions to Mars thread, but perhaps there will be insights here as well....

I've read a lot of studies on Martian ISRU, but I haven't seen many clear figures on what's realistic for a reusable ISRU unit.

Let's say I have a reusable methalox vehicle which can deliver up to 40 tonnes of payload to the Martian surface in a 10 meter long, 4 meter wide cross section. I want to deploy the ISRU unit out of the cargo bay and onto the surface (potentially using a robotic arm), use it to refuel my vehicle's tanks, then re-stow the unit back inside and take it back to orbit. Once in orbit, the vehicle will transfer excess propellant to a tanker before re-entering, landing at a new location, and starting over.

The number of useful cycles varies with the dry mass of the ISRU unit. That is, a heavier ISRU unit needs to be able to survive more autonomous refueling cycles than a lighter one.

Doable?

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #104 on: 04/28/2017 05:03 PM »
It's not just radiation but also being able to mitigate against loss of mental performance, loss of muscular and skeletal structure, reduced kidney/immune system/other organ performance, etc. Not to mention having a high performance life support system that doesn't require much maintenance, equipment that can be relied upon, the ability to fix issues that arise, etc. The risk to the crew is greatly reduced with a relatively quick ability to abort and having the option to get replacement parts or supplies from Earth quickly. Imagine if a grave design or logistical flaw was discovered in route and a part from Earth could save the crew if they were still in orbit. Being sure one understands as much as possible beforehand isn't just prudent but necessary. The unknown unknowns are what proving ground missions help uncover.

None of the equipment tests require exposure to higher radiation. Much easier and more efficiently done in LEO, potentially even attached to the ISS.

That is true for some of the equipment. That is why Bolden once said that he would cancel Orion/SLS if ISS was prematurely ended. There are a lot of questions that need answered before we can leave LEO for a long period of time. I once saw on the NSF forum a NASA timeline of issues/technology readiness/human biology experiments needed to be completed. However, I can't seem to find it. If you (or anyone) know what I'm referring to, please point me in the right direction!

However, it is a fact that some hardware cannot survive beyond LEO. You do need more radiation hardened electronics for BEO travel. Material properties degrade faster in higher-radiation environments too [1]. Temperature swings are larger [2]. Thus understanding the breakdown rate in cis-Lunar space would help predict the amount/type of replacement parts needed (and whether those replacement parts have limited shelf life too). It would not be nice to find out 3 months away from Earth that the alloy chosen for the hoses in my CO2 scrubber became brittle and started leaking.

Even if the issue could be foreseen, engineers and process managers are human. Mistakes and oversights happen. SpaceX is not immune to them (nor is any company-this is not a fault of SpaceX). So proving the technology in the intended environment (BLEO) while being relatively close to Earth is a good idea.


[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S104458039900042X
[2] http://www.space.com/28961-nasa-orion-capsule-first-flight-interview.html
« Last Edit: 04/28/2017 05:14 PM by Jimmy_C »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #105 on: 04/29/2017 05:13 AM »
It's not a mystery what hardware survives beyond LEO and what doesn't. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of spacecraft designed, built, launched, and operated for years in that environment. We understand it well.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 05:13 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline vapour_nudge

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #106 on: 04/29/2017 06:32 AM »
The best you could hope for by 2020 would be a flyby with a minimal crew.  And that would still be super damn hard.
I'm a pessimist concerning Mars and a realist. Flying by Mars is not the same as getting a crew there. When I fly to Europe I fly over many countries but I wouldn't tell people I've been there. I consider it impossible that anyone would even flyby Mars by the end of 2020 let alone land there. Come on, it's only two & a half years away.
Going to somewhere suggests to me you've walked around and experienced it, I've changed flights in Dubai but I don't consider that a visit
Even the proposed upcoming flyby of the Moon is really just a visit to deep(er) space with some great views of the Moon, Earth and the vastness and blackness of the universe. It's not the same as going there and experiencing it

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #107 on: 04/29/2017 06:41 AM »
It's not a mystery what hardware survives beyond LEO and what doesn't. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of spacecraft designed, built, launched, and operated for years in that environment. We understand it well.

E.g. Cassini. Saturn has far higher radiation than Mars and she has been operating there for 13 years.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 06:42 AM by TomH »

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #108 on: 04/29/2017 08:37 AM »
Crew in 2020 means a test flight in 2018, which means flight hardware rolling to KSC one year from right now. Unless the coming ITS updates includes notice that they are testing a ITS precursor vehicle Grasshopper-style at McGregor this summer (or something equally surprising), sending it to Mars in 2020 with crew is completely and totally implausible.
Consider these facts:
1) Musk has been obsessed with 2nd stage reuse for a long time now. From hints I've heard, they've done some interesting experiments with the 2nd stage after the primary mission is accomplished.
2) 2nd Stage reuse was the assumed goal for a while, and was part of that one Falcon 9 reuse video. It looks a heck of a lot like a small BFS.
3) SpaceX got an Air Force Contract for Raptor development that explicitly stated it was for an upper stage for Falcon Heavy. The subscale Raptor they tested is the right size for such an upper stage. It's not just a BS stunt they pulled for the IAC talk, the test was a critical part of meeting the requirements for the USAF contract. Now was SpaceX lying about wanting to build a Falcon Heavy upper stage using Raptor? I SINCERELY doubt that. They may have changed their minds later (next point), but they were not BSing the Air Force. You really don't want to BS people with guns and bombs. I'd bet they had at least some initial design of this Raptor stage that they showed the Air Force while they were proposing this contract. And most likely, if they did have such a design, it was reusable. These aren't all certainties, but they do seem likely to me. And it is a fact that the contract contained such language. Anyone want to disagree with me here?
4) Musk tweeted: "Really tempting to redesign upper stage for return too (Falcon Heavy has enough power), but prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket" in July of 2016. That's less than a year ago, and BEFORE their 2016 on-pad explosion. Skipping straight to the "Mars rocket" is pretty ambitious even before that significant setback.
5) Musk tweeted in March that "Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability. Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot."
This is a change back from 8 months prior. There are more comments that suggest that SpaceX is serious about this and hope for success in this aspect sometime next year. It's quite possible they had started preparing for a reusable stage prior, perhaps even finalizing designs and starting fabrication only for it to be put on hold as Musk ups the ante to full scale ITS. Then, the failure happened, IAC happened, SpaceX was able to do 1st stage reuse and now are reviving this second stage reuse effort (quite possibly based on Raptor). This is significant. If SpaceX thinks they can attempt reuse of the upper stage by the end of summer or fall, that means they're not starting from scratch but are picking up previous efforts. I mean, unless you think they believe they can go from expendable upper stage to reusable upper stage in just 5 months with no previous work...
6) The IAC timeline already shows "Spaceship testing" in 2018. So suggesting a much smaller version could be ready for flight using the subscale engine they've already tested is keeping with this timeline. Only, it could be done orbitally much sooner since under the assumptions in this thread, it'd be launched on Falcon Heavy, essentially the reusable upper stage but with a place for crew and/or cargo (or simply stretched for propellant, if it's a tanker variant).
7) Elon Musk announces a more economic update to ITS that can be done without causing the company to go bankrupt. This being done at basically the same time that Musk announced the INAUGURAL Falcon Heavy will attempt upper stage reuse, expecting upper stage reuse to be effective by sometime next year.

This all points to one possible way Musk could convince himself that a crewed landing by 2020 is actually possible, though far from likely due to all the things that have to work perfectly for that date to be met.

I really like this posting. It has so many ideas that I've never thought of, and they all make a lot of sense.

This could mean, that essentially, by 2019, they could have a spacecraft in the size of a F9-US powered by a raptor engine, capable of carrying cargo (including fuel) or maybe later crew to orbit, and land it and resuse it quite fast.

This much smaller version of ITS, let's call it OTS (orbital transportation system) just to give it a name, could be superior to the Dragon and Dragon 2 capsule, essentially rendering those capsules obsolete (OTS would be fully reusable, with already flight proven hardware for the first stage. Essentially, the OTS could look like a small X33 being the second stage of a rocket.

I don't know, what SpaceX will pull out of their sleeves at the FH-demo launch, but maybe they'll surprise us.

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #109 on: 04/29/2017 10:05 AM »
This much smaller version of ITS, let's call it OTS (orbital transportation system) just to give it a name, could be superior to the Dragon and Dragon 2 capsule....the OTS could look like a small X33 being the second stage of a rocket.

Very interesting. X-33 is likely too wide. My guess is the shape might be more like X-34, X-37B, or X-40A. But then, it might look very much like a miniature ITS, landing on its tail and not on wheels or skids. Come to think of it, a plate like TPS shield a la ITS or STS could protect the engine bell and landing on skids at Edwards might be the simplest way to recover this thing with such a short development period. Also, the location is pretty well positioned for landing. I know that doesn't lend itself to Lunar or Martian landings, but it might be easier for the time being. To actually use on another celestial body they must have rocket thrust.

« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 10:37 AM by TomH »

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #110 on: 04/29/2017 10:21 AM »
It's not a mystery what hardware survives beyond LEO and what doesn't. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of spacecraft designed, built, launched, and operated for years in that environment. We understand it well.

E.g. Cassini. Saturn has far higher radiation than Mars and she has been operating there for 13 years.

Cassini doesn't have CO2 scrubbers, oxygen or water systems, food storage and reheating, ammonia coolant loops. There are a lot of different requirements for human life support that are irrelevant for probes doesn't need. How can the technology on Cassini support a human life for 2-5 years without maintaince? Maybe some of the constitute parts would be useful, but there are lots of unknowns. For example: How might a valve in Cassini's propulsion system work in an oxygen atmosphere when used for water reclamation? Could there be cheaper, lighter, and more flexible alternatives too? That's what missions in CIS-Lunar space can determine.

Experience with high endurance, low maintenance, highly reliable ECLSS is very low. ISS's systems often need frequent repairs; why don't they have equipment that doesn't need repaired if it's a solved engineering problem? Even if you think you know how to build it, actually building a life support system, accounting for unforeseen defects or design flaws, and optimizing it will take years. The Mars-bound astronauts better be close to a safe haven (Earth) if a malfunction leads to a grave situation. NASA's approach is prudent.

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #111 on: 04/29/2017 10:34 AM »
The significant difference between LEO and deep space (especially a place like Saturn) is radiation. Your assertions that non-radiation elements of deep space will have mysterious detrimental effects on basic hardware, effects which don't exist in LEO, are fallacious.
« Last Edit: 04/29/2017 10:39 AM by TomH »

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #112 on: 04/29/2017 03:33 PM »
This much smaller version of ITS, let's call it OTS (orbital transportation system) just to give it a name, could be superior to the Dragon and Dragon 2 capsule....the OTS could look like a small X33 being the second stage of a rocket.

Very interesting. X-33 is likely too wide. My guess is the shape might be more like X-34, X-37B, or X-40A. But then, it might look very much like a miniature ITS, landing on its tail and not on wheels or skids. Come to think of it, a plate like TPS shield a la ITS or STS could protect the engine bell and landing on skids at Edwards might be the simplest way to recover this thing with such a short development period. Also, the location is pretty well positioned for landing. I know that doesn't lend itself to Lunar or Martian landings, but it might be easier for the time being. To actually use on another celestial body they must have rocket thrust.


That's precisely what I've proposed here. A composite methalox drop-in upper stage would outperform the current kerolox upper stage in every way, while still reserving reuse propellant. Plus, a heavier upper stage makes Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 MECO a lower-velocity affair, assisting recovery.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #113 on: 04/29/2017 05:15 PM »
Bah wings.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #114 on: 04/29/2017 10:33 PM »
Bah wings.

Actually, it wouldn't need wings.

Just give it some lifting body shape, which helps at reentry and gives it some gliding capability, and when it is close enough to the surface, fire up some superdracos, which will be the systems LES aswell (in case of launch escape is required, the superdracos fire up, move the OTS sideways away from the malfunctioning booster, fire up the raptor and try to burn up all the fuel (landing a full OTS might not be preferable).

this way, OTS is even capable to land on Mars ;) and launch again from there.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #115 on: 04/30/2017 01:11 AM »
How did this become a thread about some weirdly shaped ITS variant? What's wrong with just using the regular ITS shape?

I guess it's better than what this thread was about immediately before that.

Carry on.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #116 on: 04/30/2017 01:40 AM »
Wings for Earth good, wings for Mars meh...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Jimmy_C

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #117 on: 04/30/2017 01:55 AM »
The significant difference between LEO and deep space (especially a place like Saturn) is radiation. Your assertions that non-radiation elements of deep space will have mysterious detrimental effects on basic hardware, effects which don't exist in LEO, are fallacious.

Temperature swings can be a problem. In an interview with Space.com [1] the program manager for Orion, Mark Geyer, said "When you go out past the moon, the temperature swings are much greater, and [the heat shield] is susceptible to cracking." Extreme temperature swings can cause metal fatigue as well [2]. Any spacecraft carrying humans BEO will be the largest and heaviest object sent by humans into deep space (the current record holder is Apollo IIRC); it may undergo stresses that other space probes do not have to deal with. A human-rated system will also need powerful cooling systems as well as heaters to deal with these issues with functioning (non-inert) systems; space probes use these systems but are obviously more optimized for deep space than humans.

The distance from Earth also impacts logistics and maintenance. According to a paper [3] from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, "it will be more difficult to estimate the failure rates of systems and components for a deep space vehicle." This can be done in LEO at ISS, but it can also be done at a cis-lunar research lab. According to a paper presented to the International Conference on Environmental Systems [4], "As seen through the activation and utilization of regenerative ECLSS on-board the ISS, unintended interactions and integration issues often arise with the deployment of new technologies."

To be gain experience that the systems indeed work, they need to be tested in an environment similar to Earth-Mars transit. According to another paper on NASA's website [5], "E-M L1/L2 provide a near-earth deep space location beyond the Van Allen Belts that could serve as a demonstration and test site for long duration human space exploration missions within (relatively) easy return to earth." Testing ECLSS technology in this area of space allows the equipment to be validated for the longer and more dangerous trip to Mars while being insulated against logistics and maintenance problems.

[1] http://www.space.com/28961-nasa-orion-capsule-first-flight-interview.html

[2] http://papers.sae.org/740277/

[3] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015914.pdf

[4] https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/ttu-ir/bitstream/handle/2346/59732/ICES-2014-233.pdf

[5] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20120009459.pdf

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #118 on: 04/30/2017 02:08 AM »
How did this become a thread about some weirdly shaped ITS variant? What's wrong with just using the regular ITS shape?

I guess it's better than what this thread was about immediately before that.

Carry on.

Would you give it any lifting body characteristics at all? Earth and Mars entries both will require a lot of -ΔV from aerodynamic drag, though the flight profiles will have to be very different. On Earth, the ability to glide offers ability for airplane-like landing (with skids possibly better than wheels), while on Mars the ever increasing angle of attack at low altitude to maintain lift as V bleeds off could requires some modicum of aerodynamic profile that does generate that lift.

In that this is likely an experiment to obtain data, I imagine that what flies may not look like the final design. I know you believe they may have been working on this for longer than most think, but still, it has to be pretty prototypical in nature. If so, I have to wonder if they have strayed from pure cylindricality. If it does have the mini-raptor that you believe it might, does it have a larger diameter to accommodate the lower density CH4?  (IDNT it can be longer due to bending loads on total LV.) What kind of overall design do you think it might be? Would any landing legs be like F9-S1 or like ITS? If it cannot land on Vac engine, will it have Super Dracos, fore or aft? Do you have a TPS plate to shield the main nozzle, jettison the nozzle, jettison most of the nozzle and use the remnant as a SL engine? How do you envision the thing?
« Last Edit: 04/30/2017 02:26 AM by TomH »

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #119 on: 04/30/2017 02:16 AM »
Just for some comparison. And the X-37C is an interesting size:




Offline Nathan2go

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #120 on: 04/30/2017 02:19 AM »
Let's say I have a reusable methalox vehicle ... I want to deploy the ISRU unit ... then re-stow the unit back inside and take it back to orbit. ...
Doable?
Probably not.  The NIMF (Nuclear thermal rocket using Indigenous Mars Fuel), which Zubrin discusses in "The Case for Mars", would be great for that.  The "fuel" (really propellant) was simple liquid CO2, which is super easy to get on Mars.  With an Isp of only 260s though, it will be challenging to build an SSTO that has good payload capability, and it certainly can not fly non-stop from Mars surface to Earth.

If you want to make chemical fuel (e.g. methalox or  CO/O2), then that takes a lot of energy.  Zubrin and NASA DRM-5 assume the fuel plant will have nuclear power and will be remotely located and non-retrievable (i.e. no radiation shielding).  If you like the solar option, then plan to invest a lot of man-hours setting up the PV panels, even robotically, plus many months to collect enough energy.

An additional problem is that for Methalox (which is a much better propellant combo than CO/O2, with Isp=380s), you also need hydrogen.  Zubrin and NASA DRM-5 assuming you'll bring a load of LH2, just enough for one mission.  Maybe it's also possible to dig for perma-frost, then melt and electrolyze the water to make hydrogen (i.e. more man-power).

I think Methalox propellant production on Mars is something that happens at a permanent base, not an austere landing site for a temporary stopover.
« Last Edit: 04/30/2017 02:24 AM by Nathan2go »

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #121 on: 04/30/2017 02:24 AM »
I asked this over on the main Missions to Mars thread, but perhaps there will be insights here as well....

I've read a lot of studies on Martian ISRU, but I haven't seen many clear figures on what's realistic for a reusable ISRU unit.

Let's say I have a reusable methalox vehicle which can deliver up to 40 tonnes of payload to the Martian surface in a 10 meter long, 4 meter wide cross section. I want to deploy the ISRU unit out of the cargo bay and onto the surface (potentially using a robotic arm), use it to refuel my vehicle's tanks, then re-stow the unit back inside and take it back to orbit. Once in orbit, the vehicle will transfer excess propellant to a tanker before re-entering, landing at a new location, and starting over.

The number of useful cycles varies with the dry mass of the ISRU unit. That is, a heavier ISRU unit needs to be able to survive more autonomous refueling cycles than a lighter one.

Doable?

Not sure this is on topic here either but why would you want to do this? Why wouldn't you deliver an ISRU unit and leave it there, running? If you want to do multiple sites, deliver multiple units.

Picking things up and taking them back to orbit isn't how you colonise things.
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Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #122 on: 04/30/2017 04:04 PM »
How did this become a thread about some weirdly shaped ITS variant? What's wrong with just using the regular ITS shape?

I guess it's better than what this thread was about immediately before that.

Carry on.
Size? The regular ITS cannot be launched on Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy; a smaller one with bisymmetry rather than trisymmetry could.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #123 on: 04/30/2017 04:07 PM »
I asked this over on the main Missions to Mars thread, but perhaps there will be insights here as well....

I've read a lot of studies on Martian ISRU, but I haven't seen many clear figures on what's realistic for a reusable ISRU unit.

Let's say I have a reusable methalox vehicle which can deliver up to 40 tonnes of payload to the Martian surface in a 10 meter long, 4 meter wide cross section. I want to deploy the ISRU unit out of the cargo bay and onto the surface (potentially using a robotic arm), use it to refuel my vehicle's tanks, then re-stow the unit back inside and take it back to orbit. Once in orbit, the vehicle will transfer excess propellant to a tanker before re-entering, landing at a new location, and starting over.

The number of useful cycles varies with the dry mass of the ISRU unit. That is, a heavier ISRU unit needs to be able to survive more autonomous refueling cycles than a lighter one.

Doable?

Not sure this is on topic here either but why would you want to do this? Why wouldn't you deliver an ISRU unit and leave it there, running? If you want to do multiple sites, deliver multiple units.

Picking things up and taking them back to orbit isn't how you colonise things.
Orbital propellant transfer seems much simpler, in principle, than trying to land a ship and refuel on the surface from a fixed depot. Too many variables with the latter. If you have a dedicated ship that is refueling itself via ISRU on the surface and then meeting other vehicles in orbit, they can always be sure of having enough fuel to get back into orbit before they ever commit to EDL.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #124 on: 04/30/2017 04:18 PM »
How did this become a thread about some weirdly shaped ITS variant? What's wrong with just using the regular ITS shape?

I guess it's better than what this thread was about immediately before that.

Carry on.
Size? The regular ITS cannot be launched on Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy; a smaller one with bisymmetry rather than trisymmetry could.
Dont know why it'd need bisymmetry. The reason ITS has trisymmetry is for the landing legs. Just two landing legs wouldn't work very well!

I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).
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Offline RonM

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #125 on: 04/30/2017 04:59 PM »
I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #126 on: 04/30/2017 06:11 PM »
I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.
The problem is the amount of fuel you'd need to take.

My preferred architecture is to send a large, fluffy expandable hab, packed with supplies, with its own propulsion bus. Send the lander, which has its own propulsion and its heat shield, alongside. After TMI, the two rendezvous for the outgoing trip.

Immediately before entry, all the consumables and all but the barest margin of propellant is transferred from the hab's propulsion bus to the lander, and the lander does an aerocapture-to-circularization while the propulsion bus does a propulsive orbital insertion with the fluffy hab. They rendezvous and transfer propellant and consumables back to the propulsion bus, with the lander carrying only the fuel it needs for a minimum-weight EDL and SSTO. Once that is complete, they rendezvous, transfer propellant back to the lander for the homeward journey, and the propulsion bus is discarded while the lander sends the hab homeward.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #127 on: 04/30/2017 06:18 PM »
I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.
Pretty small if you had one or two cargo ITSes beforehand and/or in parallel carrying power and ISRU equipment. I'm thinking like 3 total mini-ITSes: 2 cargo and one crew. 30-45 tons of payload each.
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Offline RonM

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #128 on: 04/30/2017 06:50 PM »
I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.
Pretty small if you had one or two cargo ITSes beforehand and/or in parallel carrying power and ISRU equipment. I'm thinking like 3 total mini-ITSes: 2 cargo and one crew. 30-45 tons of payload each.

That's a good way to get the initial base started while still working on the full-size ITS.

No reason for Congress to fund the colonization of Mars, but they might chip in some cash for the mini-ITS as long as NASA astronauts get to do the flag-and-footprints thing. Then SpaceX can use the new Mars infrastructure and start working on their colonization plans.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #129 on: 05/01/2017 01:57 PM »
Wings for Earth good, wings for Mars meh...
Wings (or any winged-like shape) make the lander fluffier on entry, which means terminal velocity is lower, which means you don't need as much propellant for landing. Which means you can afford to bring along your fuel for ascent. Which means you have abort modes and don't need to carry a rover for transfer to an MAV.

All-around a very good choice.

Would you give it any lifting body characteristics at all? Earth and Mars entries both will require a lot of -ΔV from aerodynamic drag, though the flight profiles will have to be very different. On Earth, the ability to glide offers ability for airplane-like landing (with skids possibly better than wheels), while on Mars the ever increasing angle of attack at low altitude to maintain lift as V bleeds off could requires some modicum of aerodynamic profile that does generate that lift.

In that this is likely an experiment to obtain data, I imagine that what flies may not look like the final design. I know you believe they may have been working on this for longer than most think, but still, it has to be pretty prototypical in nature. If so, I have to wonder if they have strayed from pure cylindricality. If it does have the mini-raptor that you believe it might, does it have a larger diameter to accommodate the lower density CH4?  (IDNT it can be longer due to bending loads on total LV.) What kind of overall design do you think it might be? Would any landing legs be like F9-S1 or like ITS? If it cannot land on Vac engine, will it have Super Dracos, fore or aft? Do you have a TPS plate to shield the main nozzle, jettison the nozzle, jettison most of the nozzle and use the remnant as a SL engine? How do you envision the thing?
The lander needs thrusters for the landing, since it cannot land on even a mini Raptor Vac. The ITS is supposed to have ten-tonne RCS thrusters, so these would work very well as landing engines. If you use winglike extensions to drive down terminal velocity, you can place the landing thrusters biaxially in the wings and land this way:




Let's say I have a reusable methalox vehicle ... I want to deploy the ISRU unit ... then re-stow the unit back inside and take it back to orbit. ...
Doable?
If you want to make chemical fuel (e.g. methalox or  CO/O2), then that takes a lot of energy.  Zubrin and NASA DRM-5 assume the fuel plant will have nuclear power and will be remotely located and non-retrievable (i.e. no radiation shielding).  If you like the solar option, then plan to invest a lot of man-hours setting up the PV panels, even robotically, plus many months to collect enough energy.

An additional problem is that for Methalox (which is a much better propellant combo than CO/O2, with Isp=380s), you also need hydrogen.  Zubrin and NASA DRM-5 assuming you'll bring a load of LH2, just enough for one mission.  Maybe it's also possible to dig for perma-frost, then melt and electrolyze the water to make hydrogen (i.e. more man-power).
Yeah, methalox ISRU plans typically involve two or more rovers that dig up regolith, dump it into a (fixed) hopper, and then process the regolith to extract water. Water content in plain Martian soil is fairly high, high enough to crack into hydrogen.

Coming up with a way to do that all in a reusable package is...challenging.

You'd need to have your air collection and propellant processing systems bolted into your payload bay, and then you'd need your soil collection and water extraction module (CEM) to be lifted out of the payload bay and dropped on the ground on a Canadarm-type system. The CEM, in turn, must deploy a rover or two to dig up soil and dump it into the hopper, crush and heat the soil, condense the steam, and pump it up a hose into the onboard processing system. After many, many such cycles, the rover(s) need(s) to return and reattach to the CEM, which is then lifted back into the payload bay by the fixed arm so that the whole craft can return to orbit to fuel another vehicle.

I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.
Pretty small if you had one or two cargo ITSes beforehand and/or in parallel carrying power and ISRU equipment. I'm thinking like 3 total mini-ITSes: 2 cargo and one crew. 30-45 tons of payload each.
If you do two vehicles stripped of all but 3-4 seats each, then you could have a total of around 260 cubic meters of space. It's that open activity space that you really need for an extended mission. You could also take along a BEAM or two on the outgoing journey to carry extra pressurized payload, then discard it in Martian orbit once you've used the consumables.

Docked nose-to-nose, you could even spin them up very gently to simulate Martian gravity.

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #130 on: 05/02/2017 06:21 AM »
The ITS is supposed to have ten-tonne RCS thrusters, so these would work very well as landing engines. If you use winglike extensions to drive down terminal velocity, you can place the landing thrusters biaxially in the wings and land this way:

Are you going to land it that way on both Earth and Mars?

Offline su27k

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #131 on: 05/02/2017 08:06 AM »
I was indeed thinking of a smaller BFS on top of FH. 5.6m in diameter instead of 12m (plus fins).

How large would the payload to Mars be on this mini-ITS? It would only need to carry a crew of four plus supplies to do a NASA-style exploration mission.
Pretty small if you had one or two cargo ITSes beforehand and/or in parallel carrying power and ISRU equipment. I'm thinking like 3 total mini-ITSes: 2 cargo and one crew. 30-45 tons of payload each.

That's a good way to get the initial base started while still working on the full-size ITS.

No reason for Congress to fund the colonization of Mars, but they might chip in some cash for the mini-ITS as long as NASA astronauts get to do the flag-and-footprints thing. Then SpaceX can use the new Mars infrastructure and start working on their colonization plans.

I don't think SpaceX will seek NASA funding for mini-ITS (if there is such a thing), they'll just pitch the full ITS plan. Whether it's for colonization or flag-footprints doesn't matter to congress, what matters is how much. The full ITS plan cost of $10B is very cheap if you consider it's for 8 to 10 years and as a public-private partnership SpaceX would be expected to pick up at least 1/3 of the cost. The annual cost to NASA would be lower than the current Commercial Crew funding, congress doesn't even need to cancel SLS/Orion.

If SpaceX is indeed interested in mini-ITS, I think they'll seek funding from USAF's EELV Launch Service Agreement program (continuation of their Raptor contract), they can sell it as their version of ACES.

Offline sevenperforce

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #132 on: 05/02/2017 02:59 PM »
The ITS is supposed to have ten-tonne RCS thrusters, so these would work very well as landing engines. If you use winglike extensions to drive down terminal velocity, you can place the landing thrusters biaxially in the wings and land this way:

Are you going to land it that way on both Earth and Mars?
Absolutely. The landing thrusters are set to permit aggressive propulsive landings on Earth with margin for downmass, so in the much lower Martian gravity, they have LOTS of power. The mini-ITS could refill its propellant tanks from a tanker in Martian orbit, then perform EDL, landing on its thrusters with more than enough fuel for a direct ascent return to Earth. You only need a fuel fraction of 68% for Martian SSTO and 84% for direct ascent to Earth entry with EDL reserves.

Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #133 on: 05/03/2017 08:30 PM »
My thoughts on a SpaceX accelerated timeline of a manned mission to Mars, it's a little long so be patient.
For SpaceX to accomplish the whole task in a 2020 or even 2022 timeframe alone I think there would be  just too much for them to take on themselves.  What would be more feasible I feel is taking on the launch, and landing hardware and leave the transit and surface habitats to someone else so those aspects can be developed on their path and not as one fully integrated system.
The Dragon 2 is nearing completion of its development, and should be able to function in deep space and able to land crew on Mars.  As such I think it would be an integral part of the transportation system .

The missing component for SpaceX is a long duration upper stage capable of landing large masses and volume on Mars, and as described by Robotbeat a miniature version of the ITS Spaceship could accomplish this with Raptor propulsion and carbon fiber construction.  Personally I don't feel there is sufficient evidence to suggests that this will fly in the next year, but think it could be developed in short order as a crash program.  For the suggested mission architecture below this stage I'd suggest would come in two variants: a 5m Falcon Heavy Upper stage Replacement with a traditional fairing, and an integrated fairing biconic vehicle with a hinged or disposable nose cone.  The Upper stage replacement may not be reusable, but the biconic vehicle certainly would.  In terms of appearance it would very much look like a scaled down ITS spaceship.

Surface and transit habitats I think would best be provided by those already engaged in the NextSTEP program, perhaps in a competition format.  The use of a traditional fairing would be specific to allow for expendables such as Bigelow. As at least some of the development in this area is underway, one would hope it could be accelerated.

Dragon 2 would be used as an Earth Ascent capsule for crew, dock in orbit to a refueled methalox Upper Stage+ Transit hab, and then be used as Mars Descent vehicle.  A 2nd Dragon 2 on Mars would be carried as a payload on a Mini-ITS spaceship landed, the MITS  to be used as the ascent booster for the Dragon Capsule.  This same ascent capsule can then dock with the space habitat and in turn be used to return crew to Earth surface. An alternative to the MITS booster would be a hypergolic fueled propulsive trunk based stage for the Dragon, this would be capable as a lunar lander/ascent stage but may be an unnecessary step.

In this scheme ISRU would be used to optionally recover the landers, however the ascent vehicle would need to allow for sufficient store propellant to ascend.  A second tanker or L2 staging may be required, about 40mT of landed prop, & Dragon Capsule should be sufficient for the ascent vehicle.  ISRU wouldn't be a driving force for return due to unknowns in development.

Proposed timeline (which looks a little ludicrous typing it out):
Tomorrow: Provide funding for development of Raptor US/MiniITS spaceship. Provide funding to get the habitat programs accelerated.
2018: Red Dragon to Mars - throw some funding to this and accelerate the program by any means necessary to gain the required EDL data and test of the lander. 
2018: Dragon to orbit moon - test out the crewed systems in deep space
2018/9: Testing of habitat prototype 1 by docking to ISS
2019: Test flights of MITS spaceship, including an unmanned landing and ascent from lunar surface
2019: Test flight of MITS spaceship and habitat on lunar flyby?
2020: Launch fleet of MITS landers: one habitat, one ascent vehicle, and one propellant tanker to refuel transit hab in orbit
2020: Crewed transit hab to depart to Mars later in the window. 
2021: The MITS landers and tanker arrive first, and building off the data from the 2020 Dragon lander and a little luck.  After confirmation of success (or failure) of surface habitat landing and deployment the go/no-go is given to the crewed transit hab to either continue on a free return trajectory OR inject to low Mars orbit.  The Dragon 2 capsule now lands the crew in the vicinity of the hab and ascent vehicles.
 
Time line after this would be follow up missions and development and testing of the ITS proper.
Thoughts?  I think it's more than a little crazy to say the least, but at least allows for a minimal amount of testing in the correct environment.

Offline TomH

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #134 on: 05/03/2017 10:42 PM »
GWH,

I'm not seeing the value of taking capsules to the surface and back if if Robotbeat's mini-ITS also exists. If you feel like you must have it, why not leave it in LMO with extra CH4 and O2 for re-propping the OTS via MOR and prior to TEI?

Depending on length of stay, that prop may need to arrive after the landing and prior to Mars launch, due to boil off concerns.

In transit boil off prevention needs to be better addressed as well.
« Last Edit: 05/03/2017 10:51 PM by TomH »

Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #135 on: 05/04/2017 12:08 AM »
The value in the capsule is primarily in that it is a standalone crew transportation vehicle, and one that will be proven out by the time of this theoretical mission.  That vehicle is just another payload as far as the booster, or ascent stage is concerned.
A fully integrated crew carrying lander like the ITS spaceship, or a downsized derivative, required that as the stage is being developed ALL the crewed features & systems need to be developed with it.  This also can't be tested landing on Mars by 2018 unless it is already well underway to flight at that date. I disagree here with Robotbeat that a Raptor Upper stage will be tested on the first FH, proof in the very standard looking interstage on the core we've seen.

So the idea is to keep the functions and system separate, the upper stage/lander is for carrying payloads only whether that cargo is a habitat or a crew vehicle.  You also benefit a little by having a separate and dissimilar system where crew can temporarily evacuate to, such as an event like an ammonia leak from the coolant system like what happened in the ISS. An uncrewed lander can get away with a more risky landing, such as the 3 engine suicide burn employed by the F9 on GTO missions.

This way, at least the way I see it, the habitat, upper stage/lander, and then crew lander & ascent vehicle can all be developed on their own separate paths, as non contiguous tasks.  I also think any efforts beyond a bare bones cargo carrying mini-ITS spacecraft are over and above what is needed and an even larger diversion from the ITS than the hodge-podge architecture of Dragon 2, Cygnus/Bigelow/Other transit hab, and mini-ITS cargo vehicle I've described.

Regarding your point on boil off on the surface, yes that may be an issue and mean that the ascent vehicle needs to be based entirely off a hypergolic + Super Draco derived stage.  A pricey adder, although would be very useful in the long run to enable Dragon landers to destinations without an atmosphere.
The in transit issues will need to be addressed for the ITS as well, and as such this would be a test run of the methods used there.

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Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #136 on: 05/05/2017 11:36 PM »
I've wondered how feasible a Draco system modified to use LOX and hydrazine would be? Or even hydrazine and very high-pressure gaseous oxygen - though with the right pressure/temperature combo, O2 would become liquid anyways. Modification for the Dracos would likely be a sparkplug type ignition system. Creating the LOX or O2 would be a relatively simple ISRU procedure of sucking in the Martian CO2 and 'cracking' it to get the oxygen.

The vacuum specific impulse of LOX/UDMH should be about 330 seconds - which aint too bad. If the Dragon Ascent vehicle didn't have to carry down the ascent oxidizer to the surface first time around, this would be a mass-saving. If there wasn't enough internal volume for all the propellants; perhaps the Ascent Dragon could be equipped with conformal tanks. We should probably assume that the Ascent Dragon would be a single-use vehicle that would climb to Martian orbit to meet another Dragon Earth Return Vehicle that is attached to a transit Hab module.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2017 11:38 PM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline GWH

Re: How SpaceX may get crew to Mars by 2020.
« Reply #137 on: 05/06/2017 06:20 AM »
What if they simply used a shortened F9 upper stage?  Maybe a second bulk head so they can seriously insulate the RP1 from freezing coupled with active heating?  Would that be totally crazy? For the bare minimum 4.1 km/s dV and with a 6.4mT D2 + 1mT payload, 2.5mT tank mass (total stage dry mass 3mT) that requires a total of 25mT prop, 7.5mT of which is RP1, and total required tank length is 2m.

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