Author Topic: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4  (Read 505299 times)

Offline kaoru

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1920 on: 04/14/2016 04:30 PM »
While your right that standardized cargo modules that can be linked together to form habitats, your size is much too small.  The BEAM module is a mere 2.36 m in diameter and 1.7 tall when compressed for a volume of ~7.5 m^3.  ISS cargo has a fairly low average density so your looking at many dozens of such modules needing to be unloaded from each ship and then linked together.  As these modules are already too large to be moved by anything other then cranes their is every incentive to go bigger as the usefulness of the modules increases as well as the speed of unloading.

I favor a module size comparable to a TEU shipping container which is  6.1 m x 2.44 m x 2.59 m totaling 38.5 m^3 roughly 5 times larger then BEAM when compressed and about twice as large as BEAM when expanded.  If a module this size expanded with the same ratio as BEAM the resulting interior space would be 80 m^3 a very generous and spacious habitat indeed.

Containers this size will necessitate a side door and a cargo bay of around 500 m^3 in which containers can be stacked and secured by bolting them to structural hard-points as in modern containerized cargo on ships, planes, trains etc etc.  This is very similar to the Space Shuttle which had 300 m^3 internal cargo bay and similar hard-point mountings.  Cargo would be loaded/unloaded by a gantry crane in the roof of the cargo bay and extends out to clear the edge of the vehicle.  First a flat bed truck is unloaded, then modules are unloaded onto the truck which take them away.

Remember we need to think about the entire SYSTEM in MCT including logistics of ground transportation on Mars, we can't just dump stuff right at the landing site, we need the habitat a safe distance of a few miles away.
This is good feedback, though I don't believe my tunnel/small cargo pallets is too small.  I sized it to be practical for a spacecraft landing on Mars.  While the idea of "cargo containers" are practical here on Earth using airplanes, it's not even remotely practical for mass limited landing spacecraft on Mars.  First, such rigid containers represent a lot of dead weight.  Add to that the weight of the crane, cargo doors, and the mechanics to support all of that.  Of course, you still have the problem of transporting all the cargo to the base site.  Obviously, the base site will not be next to the MCT as it has to launch again and you would want to avoid hot exhaust and flying rocks/debris.

My solution is to have light weight cargo "bags" or no container at all but just a light weight platform (pallet) with straps/wrap.  The dimensions would be sized according to the allowances of the tunnel (which is 2.5 m in diameter; height is dependent on the height of the cargo deck).  To transport the pallets (bags), I take a page from Mammoset.  Mammoset uses small independent mobile carriers which link up, the result being able to lift and move the most massive things (aka buildings, etc.).  Shrink the concept down and you can have a cargo transporter that is completely flexible and carry tremendous weight while being small, light, and modular for many tasks.  The cargo transporter can deploy the same way as the cargo, thru the tunnel, then assemble as a bigger carrier or a number of smaller carriers.  The only trade off with this solution is time, it will take more time to unload and transport the small cargo pallets.  However, time is something that the colonists will have plenty of.

Thinking of the cargo carrier and BEAM, the two could be married to create a rover.  For example, the base module could consist of 4 movement modules (4 wheels each with 360 degree rotation) that hard link to an expandable module (like a small BEAM) and a service module (batteries/ECLSS).  It's easily transportable, light, and practicable.

Expanding the concept, a mobile robotic "construction" worker could be formed from the modules.  This "construction" robot would have a 3D printer and could "print" an exterior structure which then have an expandable interior (aka like a tent) to form the inside.  The materials used would be Mars regolith and some kind of binder; aka Mars cement.  None of these ideas require massive or heavy equipment.

In fact, I hail from northern Canada and have journeyed to the most in-hospitable of places, the artic.  I'm used to planning trips where life and death is actually dependent on well you plan.  I actually know how to build an igloo (because all Canadians live in igloos  ;D ) and actually you could do the same on Mars.  Igloos are extremely strong structures and they can be made simply if you have the knowledge.  I could build a Mars igloo by hand (wearing a -50 degree rated snowsuit is like wearing a space suit) as long as I could form a block/brick (in a specific shape dynamically; in the snow I use a machete to carve).  On Mars, building such an igloo (which is a dome) for a small 8 foot high is easy (again assuming specific shaped blocks).  A larger dome will take more time and a ladder.  My father has done an igloo that was about 10 ft high, 20 ft in diameter with only compacted snow (using a form), a machete, a ladder, and time.  It lasted several months until it had to be knocked down for safety reasons; warm weather.  He did it at the airport as a display for the World Cup Cross Country Skiing Races hosted in my hometown (Labrador).

Kaoru

Offline kaoru

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1921 on: 04/14/2016 05:09 PM »
Talking about cargo and how to unload it, you first has to get back to fundamentals.  Yes, the BFR will most likely be 15 m diameter.  However, BFS may not be 15 m diameter because of mass limitations.  A 15 m diameter upper stage/BFS is a lot of dry mass, which mean more engines and more fuel.  Of course, those engines will have to work in multiple modes, of which the nozzles and engine would have to change dramatically.  You can't get around this unless you have multiple engines for *each* mode.  This means more mass/dead weight for the other modes.  Abort engines would only be practical on Earth but not on Mars ascent (where would you abort too?).  My design speculates 4 Raptor vacuum engines with adaptable nozzle/exhaust deflector and a canting/gimbal mount in a protective nacelle.  There are no abort engines because it's not practical to have them.  It's easy to build the Raptors to be as robust as possible.  I calculate that the four engines, dry mass, propellants, and payload (as MCT goes; aka 48 person crew module, cargo module, or fuel only module which link up in orbit) which roughly is attainable by the 4 engines in all the modes.  Obviously, refueling in Earth orbit, Mars surface, and possible Mars orbit would be required.

Given this, every bit of mass has to be accounted for.  Large cargo carriers, cranes, etc. is just a Earth way of thinking.  On Mars with the gravity being .38 that of Earth, small cargo pallets weighing 150 kg on Earth could be lifted manually (57 kg) on Mars.  However, in space all the extra mass (ie. cargo carriers, cranes, doors, etc.) will require more energy in the engines (aka ISP) in order to get to Mars in a reasonable time, not to mention decelerate and land with only to launch into orbit again.  My speculation is small and light hence why I chose a 10 m diameter, 4 US Raptors, no aborts, and complicated nozzles/nacelles.

Kaoru   

Offline Paul451

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1922 on: 04/14/2016 05:56 PM »
Yes, the BFR will most likely be 15 m diameter.  However, BFS may not be 15 m diameter because of mass limitations.  A 15 m diameter upper stage/BFS is a lot of dry mass, which mean more engines and more fuel.

Que? A shorter, wider stage is closer to a sphere, therefore more mass-efficient than a longer narrower stage.

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1923 on: 04/14/2016 06:58 PM »
Yes, the BFR will most likely be 15 m diameter.  However, BFS may not be 15 m diameter because of mass limitations.  A 15 m diameter upper stage/BFS is a lot of dry mass, which mean more engines and more fuel.

Que? A shorter, wider stage is closer to a sphere, therefore more mass-efficient than a longer narrower stage.

A 15 m diameter stage could quite easily be longer as well.

When the MCT was first talked about by Elon, I thought that the most likely shape of its spaceship (now called the BFS) would be a bullet (fairing) shape of about 10 m diameter and 30 - 40 m tall. Now, I think it is likely to be bigger 13 - 15 m and 40 - 60 m tall.

To put a 15 m diameter 60 m tall stage into context, its cargo area would hold three fully expanded BA2100 or seven Falcon 9 first stages (may not quite fit lengthwise, but volume would fit). Elon has said that it will be big, and this is super big.

Offline Impaler

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1924 on: 04/15/2016 06:27 AM »

We have some evidence/conjecture for the notion that BFR is going to be 15m diameter.  MCT is going to require lots of space for vacuum bell nozzles to achieve high Isp with enough engines for redundancy, so it will probably be about the same 15m diameter.  A side-loading cargo dispenser at 15m overall diameter might have six <=5m diameter cargo pods arrayed along the outer edge, of indefinite length, around a central structural core + crane system.  We know that ISS modules have already been designed at 4.1 to 4.5m diameter for 10 to 20 tons of mass, and that MCT is targeting 100 tons 'useful cargo'  to the Martian surface.  This provides a cargo footprint that is usefully similar to the Shuttle's payloads.

Lower these standard cargo pods to the ground, and you can have vehicles drive out of their ends, just like a new automobile might drive out of an ISO container coming off the shipyard stacks in Baltimore.  ISO containers are built of the cheapest materials that will take the load of intermodal shipping, and weigh about 10% of their rated maximum load.

I don't like the arrangement your proposing, I see cargo containers in a horizontal orientation with overhead crane attaching to each end and lifting/lowering them without rotation as is done in modern container ships.  At a width of 2.4 m and with half a meter between we can lay 3 containers alongside each other creating a footprint 8.3 m by 6 m (the container length).  Stacked 3 high would give a height of 7.7 m and a total of 9 containers with a storage volume inside the containers of ~300 m^3.  This container block easily fits within the proposed vehicle diameter and should fit in a vehicle as narrow as 13 m in diameter.

I also think we will see an arrangement where cargo is low and close to the ground rather then high, possibly with engines flanking the cargo hold rather then directly under it so cargo can be practically in the belly of the vehicle and as close to the ground as possible, landing gear that can squat down could bring it to practically in contact with the ground.  Propellant would be above the cargo (aka nose) and/or in flanking locations in the cord shaped spaces that don't contribute to the usable cargo bay.

Entry to the cargo bay is a simple door on the side of the vehicle and a fold down ramp.  If desirable their can even be doors on opposite sides making the whole cargo bay a tunnel (like a C5 Galaxy which is coincidentally about the logistical scale were talking about).  This also allows the cargo bay to hold alternative cargo like large monolithic vehicles for exploration or mining as they can simply drive down the ramp.  From the perspective of the door containers are in profile and the crane system only needs to extend a short distance to clear the vehicle and lower a container to a waiting truck pulled up along side.  Unloading should take only a mater of hours allowing the vehicle to get turn around rapidly, remember time IS critical because of launch windows back to Earth.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2016 06:31 AM by Impaler »

Offline RanulfC

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1925 on: 04/15/2016 09:12 PM »
Time to bring up the "Stanley Shuttle" concept again for reference, (posted here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33224.msg1134071#msg1134071, presented by TaylorR137 and loved by all who see it, no really it's a requirement :) )

VTOL take-off/landing, cargo bay on the OTHER side, (no TPS penetration with a big door, thanks) propellant tanks around, and above cargo compartment with crew compartment near the nose. Side-entry increases surface area and works both on Mars and Earth. We need an update on it from TaylorR137 at some point :)

Randy
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Offline Impaler

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1926 on: 04/15/2016 11:10 PM »
Yes that is certainly closer to what I'm envisioning, though it still has an engine directly under cargo configuration where I think that will not work due to the length of engine nozzles and the combustion chamber hardware, a rocket engine has a considerable 'root' which most folks fail to take into account when thinking about a vehicle.

I'm also doubtful of any kind of bridge/habitat being integrated into the vehicle like that of the Space Shuttle.  It's not necessary from a flight control perspective because their will not be a runway landing necessitating a forward view, Astronauts (actually computers watched by Astronauts) will control the vehicle fine from within a habitation module that is simply loaded into the cargo hold.  This will simply the vehicle by eliminating any cargo/passenger variations and simply the logistics of setting up a colony.  Travel to mars in a habitat in the cargo-hold, unload habitat onto surface, send empty ship back to Earth, rinse, repeat.

Offline raketa

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1927 on: 04/16/2016 12:51 AM »
1/If MCT will have diameter 15m, then height will be under 35 meters. It will looks more like  lunar lander, from doimension point of view.
2/Maybe they will not have retractable legs, but fixed, because  diameter and to avoid point of failure, as part of the heat shield
3/MCT maybe will have skirt deployed after landing, to have sleeves free environment to work on maintenance of engines and expand living spaces.

Offline biosehnsucht

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1928 on: 04/17/2016 02:47 AM »
I started working on this almost 2 months ago, but then didn't touch it for over a month... have recently been inspired to mess about with it some more. Fair warning, I'm not as skilled as some here.. okay.. most. These are some very rough designs.

So I shall too throw my hat into the "Armchair MCT design" ring.

This is a 15m (except Raptor nacelle protrusion) bullet-shaped "capsule", almost 50m tall. 8 Raptors surround the capsule similar to an overgrown Crew Dragon. Due to the positioning of the engines relative to the tanks, some creative design may be required (perhaps shared turbopumps or simply remote turbopumps below the tanks, feeding "up" to the engines, to avoid having pumps that just feed turbopumps).

Tanks are sized with the assumption that we will get to orbit with enough fuel to land propulsively on Earth if necessary if we launched succesfully, but otherwise must be topped off with several fueling flights (basically similar design but no cargo / crew decks, just more tanks with fuel).

Solar panels and radiators will be extended from the side of it ... someplace. Probably between the Raptor nacelles someplace. This is one of those details I'm not worrying about, along with specifics of life support systems etc. There's plenty of unused volume around the fuel tanks and other than an airlock the service deck is "empty" (since I haven't defined any space usage for specific ECCLS systems or such, just assume they'll fit in there).

No attempt at dedicated launch abort is made or assumed. I make the assumption that the BFR will be so highly sensored that nothing should go wrong (if it does, no launch), and should anything go terribly wrong anyways, the MCT will either abort to launch site or suborbital somewhere using the Raptor engines, or just an unusually low orbit (where it could be refuelled or deorbited on it's fuel reserves depending on how much fuel remains). Either crew are onboarded via another craft (perhaps shrunk MCT variant with actual (Super?)SuperDraco LES and no cargo or crew/etc decks, just seating for launch), via many Crew Dragons, or simply we assume LOC won't happen or be so rare that anyone flying on it is willing to take the risk.

A central tunnel runs from the Service Deck to the Flight Deck. It does not connect directly to either the Bulk Cargo or Upper Airlock areas. Automated hatches slide horizontally into the tunnel to seal it in case of emergency between decks. The tunnel is accessed at each deck it services by an opening in the side, there is not any additional hatch in the side of the tunnel. The tunnel runs through the middle of the LOX/CH4 tanks. Power, life support, etc run along the inside of the tunnel wall.

For surface operation, a winch system combined with a platform that runs along the tunnel handrails creates an effective elevator (the winch can be used separately as well). Same type (and interchangeable) winch is available from the Service Deck airlock to the Bulk Cargo area as well as to the outside (same winch, mounted to a gantry).

Bulk cargo section has a door which operates like a giant inside out passenger van door, or a really big version of some of the doors on the ISS. It pulls in and then slides around the interior to get out of the way. When closed, any positive pressure inside vs the exterior will help keep it sealed closed. Bulk cargo section has a gantry crane which can extend outside the craft to place containers on the ground, which can then be moved by a container moving device (sort of like the wheeled devices PODS uses to deliver a container to your house). Cargo can either be intermodal-like (though probably more mass-efficient construction etc) or simply have a frame around or on it that the crane and container mover can use as if it were an intermodal container. Cargo may also not need crane at all, in which case it can be in whatever form is best packed for transport to Mars.

With the exception of the service and cargo decks, all decks are 2.5m high (which is for maximizing personal space in the cabins, ~3.5m2 x 2.5m of space should be fairly roomy as space travel goes). Service deck is 3m and bulk cargo is 5.4m. Upper airlock area is not exactly defined, other than that it should be around 2m at least (for entry into the airlock) - much of the apparently empty space up there will be taken up with various infrastructure and such.

The common decks are used for exercise, eating, and socializing, etc. The service deck contains an airlock that can either open to the exterior (and use a gantry crane or ladder/stairs to access on surface) or into the bulk cargo area (same gantry crane can allow surface access, or a ladder/stairs). The airlock in the nose is intended normally only for space use, but if necessary a tripod or similar structure can be erected above it with winch attached if there is an issue with the service deck airlock.

For the crew / passenger decks, partitions (both regular walls and door sections) are attached using L-track (like that used in aircraft or the ISS for attaching things) to make individual cabins. L-track is in both the "floor" and "ceiling", spaced radially every 15 degrees from the center tunnel to the exterior wall. L-track is also positioned along the two inner circles depicted (they are 1.5m apart, making for a 1.5m wide hallway).

Cabins along the outer wall can be only 15 degrees wide and fit a bed, whereas cabins along the inner wall will need 45 degrees (see mct_crewdeck.png blue shaded areas, the rectangle is a bed)

Some elements not depicted such as toilets / washrooms will be permanently installed at various locations, but generally the crew decks are re-configurable as needed. For couples or families, multiple adjacent sections can be made into a single large cabin but simply removing some partitions.

Not depicted is the BFR itself, but just imagine a great big giant 15m stick with a ton of Raptors under it, etc. Also not depicted are almost any details, I'm sure you noticed.

Online sanman

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1929 on: 04/18/2016 05:15 AM »
It may not be part of the existing design plan, but why couldn't MCT have some temporarily expandable section, a la Bigelow, which could be temporarily expanded during transit to Mars in order to provide necessary interior space during the months-long journey, and which could then be un-expanded or jettisoned before Mars arrival?


Offline GabrielP

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1930 on: 04/18/2016 05:54 AM »
It may not be part of the existing design plan, but why couldn't MCT have some temporarily expandable section, a la Bigelow, which could be temporarily expanded during transit to Mars in order to provide necessary interior space during the months-long journey, and which could then be un-expanded or jettisoned before Mars arrival?

Another alternative to using that would be to just launch it separately and have MCT dock with it in LEO before heading out.
Would it then be possible to just leave it in orbit around Mars then pick it up again on the way back? (fully reusable and all that...)

Online sanman

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1931 on: 04/18/2016 07:33 AM »
It may not be part of the existing design plan, but why couldn't MCT have some temporarily expandable section, a la Bigelow, which could be temporarily expanded during transit to Mars in order to provide necessary interior space during the months-long journey, and which could then be un-expanded or jettisoned before Mars arrival?

Another alternative to using that would be to just launch it separately and have MCT dock with it in LEO before heading out.
Would it then be possible to just leave it in orbit around Mars then pick it up again on the way back? (fully reusable and all that...)

Wouldn't that then alter the flight-trajectory away from the Mars-Direct approach favored by Musk, and also add risk to the mission?

Maybe if the walls of the mid-section could swing outward like Elon's gull-wing doors, then some expandable hab could mushroom outwards.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1932 on: 04/18/2016 07:35 AM »
Mars-Direct? What's Mars Direct about MCT?
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Online sanman

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1933 on: 04/18/2016 09:48 AM »
I thought MCT is supposed to fly to Mars directly, with no stops in between (like what Zubrin originally suggested)

Online JamesH65

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1934 on: 04/18/2016 12:40 PM »
I thought MCT is supposed to fly to Mars directly, with no stops in between (like what Zubrin originally suggested)

No-one really knows (publically) what Musk has in mind.

Offline Pipcard

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1935 on: 04/18/2016 01:25 PM »
I thought MCT is supposed to fly to Mars directly, with no stops in between (like what Zubrin originally suggested)
It will probably get refueled in Earth orbit, unlike MD. Otherwise you either have a vehicle that is "mass-starved" for its intended purpose or a launcher that is impractically huge for ground handling.
« Last Edit: 04/18/2016 01:26 PM by Pipcard »

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1936 on: 04/18/2016 03:26 PM »
The Moon MethaLOX ISRU thread got me thinking about the MCT as passenger service vehicle from Earth to Moon surface. For a short trip < 1week the volume needed per passenger is lot less than the volume per passenger needed for a Mars trip. If The MCT is designed for a crew volume area of 2000-3000 m^3 to support the transport of 100 passengers to Mars how many person could be sent on a short trip to just the Moon?

My estimate was numbers of passengers as low as 250 and as high as 750.

2000m^3/8m^3(per person) = 250
3000m^3/4m^3(per person) = 750

Offline TomH

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1937 on: 04/18/2016 04:24 PM »
The Moon MethaLOX ISRU thread got me thinking about the MCT as passenger service vehicle from Earth to Moon surface. For a short trip < 1week the volume needed per passenger is lot less than the volume per passenger needed for a Mars trip. If The MCT is designed for a crew volume area of 2000-3000 m^3 to support the transport of 100 passengers to Mars how many person could be sent on a short trip to just the Moon?

My estimate was numbers of passengers as low as 250 and as high as 750.

2000m^3/8m^3(per person) = 250
3000m^3/4m^3(per person) = 750

What would they do? Would all of them be trained as astronauts? If they are tourists, you may have problems with them wandering off. OTOH, I could see a tourism vendor using the first several flights to carry expandable modules for a hotel, along with extra cargo, setting up a base, then offering vacation travel to the Heavenly Honeymoon Hotel.

I would surely go and take my wife if we could afford it.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1938 on: 04/19/2016 07:26 PM »
Impaler:
The shown engines are based on engines capable of being used on Mars or Earth as needed, somewhat on the described Raptors, something of the Merlin, with a little SSME thrown in so they are probably representative :)

While it shows a "cockpit/flight deck" area it's probably more of an observation area and/or 'cap' point for the ladder from the crew area to the cargo deck. The illustrator was going for a "Shuttle" look to indicate that it would be a reusable space vehicle after all so from that point-of-view it makes sense even if it's not actually the control area of the vehicle :)

The "crew-in-hab-in-cargo-bay" concept is nice but I'm of the mind that the basic MCT design will be based on the BFS which in and of itself will be more than just a cargo hold and propellant tankage. So it would stand to reason the basic BFS design would be capable of more than just hauling cargo.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Lars-J

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Re: MCT Speculation and Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #1939 on: 04/20/2016 06:34 AM »
BFS?

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