Author Topic: MCT/BFR source information, please add new info as it arrives from SpaceX  (Read 45722 times)

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27025
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6917
  • Likes Given: 4879
I'm attempting to crowdsource all the various bits from Musk (and Shotwell, etc) that we know about MCT. Obviously, the info is sparse.

NSF Articles for BFR related content:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/03/spacex-advances-drive-mars-rocket-raptor-power/
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/08/battle-heavyweight-rockets-sls-exploration-rival/


This thread is not for speculation or discussion (except as it related to establishing source material). We have MCT Speculation threads for that, but with hundreds of pages, actual source material gets lost in the speculation.

MCT Speculation thread 4: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37808.0

Here's an interesting quote from the recent biography to get us started:
http://www.amazon.com/Elon-Musk-SpaceX-Fantastic-Future/dp/0062301233
Quote from: Elon
"The final piece of the puzzle for figuring out the Mars architecture is a methane engine. You need to be able to generate the propellant on the surface. Most of the fuel used in rockets today is a form of kerosene, and creating kerosene is quite complex. It’s a series of long-chain hydrocarbons. It’s much easier to create either methane or hydrogen. The problem with hydrogen is it’s a deep cryogen. It’s only a liquid very close to absolute zero. And because it’s a small molecule you have these issues where hydrogen will seep its way through a metal matrix and embrittle or destroy metal in weird ways. Hydrogen’s density is also very porous, so the tanks are enormous and it’s expensive to create and store hydrogen. It’s not a good choice as a fuel.
“Methane, on the other hand, is much easier to handle. It’s liquid at around the same temperature as liquid oxygen so you can do a rocket stage with a common bulkhead and not worry about freezing one or the other solid. Methane is also the lowest-cost fossil fuel on Earth. And there needs to be a lot of energy to go to Mars.
“And then on Mars, because the atmosphere is carbon dioxide and there’s a lot of water or ice in the soil, the carbon dioxide gets you CO2, the water gives you H2O. With that you create CH4 and O2, which gives you combustion. So it’s all sort of nicely worked out.
“And then one of the key questions is can you get to the surface of Mars and back to Earth on a single stage. The answer is yes, if you reduce the return payload to approximately one-quarter of the outbound payload, which I thought made sense because you are going to want to transport a lot more to Mars than you’d want to transfer from Mars to Earth. For the spacecraft, the heat shield, the life support system, and the legs will have to be very, very light."
« Last Edit: 10/28/2015 11:52 PM by Robotbeat »
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

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27025
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6917
  • Likes Given: 4879
Relevant from the Musk AMA:
https://www.reddit.com/user/ElonMuskOfficial
Quote
I am Elon Musk, CEO/CTO of a rocket company, AMA! ElonMuskOfficial 5 months ago
Actually, we could make the 2nd stage of Falcon reusable and still have significant payload on Falcon Heavy, but I think our engineering resources are better spent moving on to the Mars system.
MCT will have meaningfully higher specific impulse engines: 380 vs 345 vac Isp. For those unfamiliar, in the rocket world, that is a super gigantic difference for stages of roughly equivalent mass ratio (mass full to mass empty).
Quote
ElonMuskOfficial 5 months ago
Default plan is to have a sea level and vacuum version of Raptor, much like Merlin. Since the booster and spaceship will both have multiple engines, we don't have to have fundamentally different designs.
This plan might change.

Quote
At first, I was thinking we would just scale up Falcon Heavy, but it looks like it probably makes more sense just to have a single monster boost stage.
Quote
Goal is 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars. This obviously requires a very big spaceship and booster system.

Quote
The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture. Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year. Good thing we didn't do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon.

(Question about Raptor)
Quote
Thrust to weight is optimizing for a surprisingly low thrust level, even when accounting for the added mass of plumbing and structure for many engines. Looks like a little over 230 metric tons (~500 klbf) of thrust per engine, but we will have a lot of them :)
« Last Edit: 06/18/2015 03:01 AM by Robotbeat »
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 MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 453
  • Likes Given: 53
Some rather old information: Elon Musk lecture at the royal aeronautical society 16 Nov 2012

[Question about MCT/Raptor.] Every now and again I just throw something out, just for fun. I can confirm that the name of the engine is Raptor. I'd like to announce maybe some details about the engine next year. Perhaps, what is even more interesting is the spaceship that that's attached to. [Does the M stand for Mars?] "You've gotta.. you show a little leg, but not all of it."
(http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-interview-at-the-royal-aeronautical-society-2012-11-16)

[Question about MCT engine.] MCT is not an engine. We're only doing one engine, one major engine, and that's the Raptor engine, which is the methane engine. We're going to talk more about the details of that next year, but we're not doing another engine.
(http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-lecture-at-the-royal-aeronautical-society-2012-11-16)

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27025
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6917
  • Likes Given: 4879
http://www.askmen.com/entertainment/right-stuff/elon-musk-interview.html
Quote from: Musk
“We’re looking at our Mars transporter being around 15 million pounds of thrust,”
(I think this is around 2014? Can someone else date this for me? The date is important because MCT/BFR/Raptor have clearly being evolving since Musk first started talking about them...)
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 anonymousgerbil

  • Member
  • Posts: 29
  • Liked: 22
  • Likes Given: 55
http://www.askmen.com/entertainment/right-stuff/elon-musk-interview.html
Quote from: Musk
“We’re looking at our Mars transporter being around 15 million pounds of thrust,”
(I think this is around 2014? Can someone else date this for me? The date is important because MCT/BFR/Raptor have clearly being evolving since Musk first started talking about them...)

the html source on the page has:
  <meta name="live_date" content="2014-04-10">
 

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 453
  • Likes Given: 53
Various twitter references

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/342566837852200960
6 Jun 2013
Quote
No near term plans to IPO @SpaceX. Only possible in very long term when Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly.


27 Nov 2012
Quote
But if humanity wishes to become a multi-planet species, then we must figure out how to move millions of people to Mars.


27 Nov 2012
Quote
Millions of people needed for Mars colony, so 80k+ would just be the number moving to Mars per year http://news.yahoo.com/huge-mars-colony-eyed-spacex-founder-elon-musk-120626263.html

Online dror

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 549
  • Israel
  • Liked: 122
  • Likes Given: 346
My favorite,

Quote from: Musk

I mean, if you do a densified liquid methalox rocket with on-orbit refueling, so like you load the spacecraft into orbit and then you send a whole bunch of refueling missions to fill up the tanks and you have the Mars colonial fleet - essentially - that gets built up during the time between Earth-Mars synchronizations, which occur every 26 months, then the fleet all departs at the optimal transfer point.

Elon Musk at MIT
http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-at-mits-aeroastro-centennial-part-2-of-6-2014-10-24
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Offline Semmel

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1127
  • Germany
  • Liked: 812
  • Likes Given: 2271
This is a very important thread thank you!

Could I make the suggestion that Robotbeat creates an overview in his first post? Infos, sorted by date and with a link to its source?

Here is a starter of what is collected so far:

2015 Jan 06: 380 vac ISP source

2015 Jan 06: sea level and vacuum version of Raptor source

2015 Jan 06: Single stick, no 3-core version source

2015 Jan 06: 100 metric tons of useful payload to the surface of Mars source

2015 Jan 06: Hoping to reveal project end of 2015 source

2015 Jan 06: 230 metric tons of thrust (~500 klbf) for Raptor source

2014 Oct 24: on-orbit refueling source

2014 Apr 10: MCT will have 15 million pounds of thrust (at liftoff ?) source

2013 Jun 06: Need millions of people on Mars source

2012 Nov 27: 80000+ people per year going to Mars source

2012 Nov 16: name of the engine is Raptor source

2012 Nov 16: Raptor is a methane engine source


« Last Edit: 06/21/2015 10:23 PM by Semmel »

Offline MikeAtkinson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Bracknell, England
  • Liked: 453
  • Likes Given: 53
Here are my notes from about a year ago (some duplication with the information above):

we started hearing about Elon Musk's aims as regards to sending humans to Mars. On 20th March 2012 he told the BBC [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17439490] "Land on Mars, a round-trip ticket - half a million dollars. It can be done,", not initially but as a long term aim for a mature system.

"My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars - this is very important - so you don't have to carry the return fuel with you when you go there," he told the BBC.
"The whole system is reusable, every bit - nothing is thrown away. That's very important because then you're just down to the cost of the propellant. And then of course the smart move is pick the propellant that is the lowest energy cost.”
The system seems to consist of a large launch vehicle and a spaceship which carries people between earth orbit and Mars. This launcher is currently unnamed but often called the Big Falcon Rocket, the spaceship is called the MCT, which stands for Mars Colonial Transporter.

By November 2012 [http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-interview-at-the-royal-aeronautical-society-2012-11-16] he told Royal Aeronautical Society in London that he envisaged a colony of 80,000 people, but that initially the pioneering group would be fewer than 10 people. In a later Twitter Elon clarified this “Millions of people needed for Mars colony, so 80k+ would just be the number moving to Mars per year”

The MCT would not be a cycler or carry a Dragon capsule instead he told SPACE.com [http://www.space.com/18596-mars-colony-spacex-elon-musk.html] “I think you just land the entire thing.”

“To establish life on Mars I think that you really ultimately need to be able to carry millions of people there and millions of tonnes of cargo. So you really need a fully reusable Mars transportation system which is yet a more difficult step than creating a fully reusable Earth system.” Elon Musk told the 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention [https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9blyqTwX44E]

On 9th December 2013 Elon Musk told Dr Crystal Dilworth [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diFftgLbsDI] “Mars is, if you have a low energy trajectory, like a minimum energy trajectory is about 6 months. I think that can be compressed down to about 3 months, and it gets exponentially harder as you go lower than that - 3 to 4. It's important to actually be at that level because then you can send your spaceship to Mars and then bring it back on the same orbital synchronization. Earth and Mars synch up every two years and then they're only kinda in synch for about 6 months. Then, you know, they're really too far apart. So you've got to be able to go there and back in one go. That's important for making the cost of travelling to Mars an affordable amount.”

On 19th February 2014 Tom Mueller told a crowd at the “Exploring the Next Frontier: The Commercialisation of Space is Lifting Off” event talking of the BFR said “It's going to put over 100 tons of cargo up to Mars. That's what it takes to get to Mars”. Elon told Joseph Gordon-Levitt  on his 3rd February 2014 show “HitRECord on TV” that “It would be about 100 times the size of a large SUV “ and that it would be capable of transporting 100 people at a time.

Before any manned landing several cargo flights might be needed, Gwynne Shotwell told the Space Show [http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2212-BWB-2014-03-21.mp3] that the MCT “"would have to throw a bunch of stuff before you start putting people there. ... It is a transportation system between Earth and Mars.", When asked when SpaceX Mars missions would happen, she said “Lots of work to do, Elon says 12-13 years, will shoot for that timeframe”

[http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/03/spacex-advances-drive-mars-rocket-raptor-power/] The Big Falcon Rocket, also known as the BFR and Falcon X is thought to have a 10m diameter and 9 Raptor liquid methane/oxygen engines with about 450 metric tons (tonnes) of thrust each. In an expendable configuration it would have a payload of 150-200 tonnes to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), if both first and upper stage where reusable payload would be 75-100 tonnes to LEO. Including the upper stage the Inserted Mass in LEO (IMLEO) would be 125-150 tonnes.

Offline GregA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
  • Liked: 254
  • Likes Given: 58
In the Gwynne Shotwell interview on the Space Show last year, she answered a question about the challenges for SpaceX in 10 or 11 years.

"We should have really great progress on our Mars vehicles." The challenges are "Turning those R&D vehicles into production vehicles, finding enough launch sites where you can get a lot of people moving, or at least planning for the launch sites to get a lot of people moving, and launching.".

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=2212
45m40...ish

Also a presupposition there are that there is more than one "vehicle" they'll have designed.
And a plan that has enough people going each cycle that multiple sites are needed.
« Last Edit: 06/23/2015 09:50 AM by GregA »

Online dror

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 549
  • Israel
  • Liked: 122
  • Likes Given: 346

Gwynne Shotwell, At 3:53

"...the Mars colonial transporter,  we're gonna have to build that rocket on the launch site..."
« Last Edit: 06/24/2015 08:52 PM by dror »
"If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. "
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

Offline UberNobody

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 121
  • Liked: 58
  • Likes Given: 47
So I've been looking over all the older videos where Musk talks about Mars, and I found a couple interesting bits in his talk at AIAA 2011.  Keep in mind, this is "old" and plans change, but I think there is some useful information.



At 24:00, Elon talks about solar electric propulsion as an accelerator for MCT.

At 32:30, Elon talks about widening the departure window for Mars, or alternatively placing MCTs in highly elliptical parking orbits throughout the 26 month gap.

I don't have time to get direct quotes right now.  Maybe later.
« Last Edit: 06/26/2015 07:37 AM by UberNobody »

Offline GregA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
  • Liked: 254
  • Likes Given: 58
Gwen Shotwell also said it in the interview linked 2 posts above.

4:25 "So we're looking at solar-electric propulsion. I think we're gonna umm, look at some other interesting IN-space propulsion technologies..."

Offline cscott

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2522
  • Liked: 1715
  • Likes Given: 656
Raptor related:
http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=47400
Quote
Raptor  directly  contributes  to  the  rapid  advancement  of  oxygen-rich  and  full-flow  staged  combustion  and additive  manufacturing  technologies  for  the  United  States—enhancing  U.S.  industrial  capability.  Further, the  engine  enhances  state-of-the-art,  high-performing  EELV-class  propulsive  capabilities  for  future  flight engine  systems  to  support  commercial  and  NSS  applications  in  accordance  with  Fiscal  Year  2015 National  Defense  Authorization  Act  (FY15  NDAA),  Section  1604.    The  flexibility  of  the  Raptor  design enables the technology to be applied to existing EELV-certified launch vehicles.
That last sentence hints that Raptor might be used for a Falcon-class (EELV) rocket, in addition to the BFR.

EDIT: And yes, this may be just referring to possibilities, not actual plans; keeping the door open in case the government wants to drop dollars in SpaceX's lap.   But let's keep the discussion on the discussion thread, I'm just posting the words as they came from the horse's mouth here.
« Last Edit: 06/27/2015 09:25 PM by cscott »

Offline Llian Rhydderch

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 855
  • Terran Anglosphere
  • Liked: 547
  • Likes Given: 5288
Some of this is new info, I believe:

re 3D printing of engine components:
 - big cost-reduction technology for  SpaceX;
 - print integral cooling channels in thrust chamber nozzles;
 - use titanium inconel alloy;
 - printing allows them to make things that cannot be made by any other means
  ==> lighter and cheaper than traditional means

For the "next-generation engine":
 - deep-cryo methalox engine on Raptor, cooling both methane and LOX to near their
   freezing points, rather than near their boiling points, as is typical;
 - "trying to print as much as possible";
 - biggest limitation is the size envelope; limitation on size of the components.
 - can print turbopump components and many of the critical parts of the injector
 - helps with speed of development (avoid casting interations of several months)

SOURCE:  Musk talk 6 July 2015 at ISSRD conference, link, at 54:25 -- 57:10 during the Q&A.
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6384
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1608
  • Likes Given: 1415
Hans Koenigsmann in an Interview after CRS-7 on german TV ZDF on rocket reuse. It is available for viewing at least for a while from within Germany or using a proxy.

http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek#/beitrag/video/2452860/ZDF-heute-journal-vom-21-Juli-2015

The interview with Koenigsmann starts a 21:40

Quote
Flugzeuge fliegen 20,30 Jahre. Ich glaube nicht, daß es möglich ist, das so lange zu machen, aber zumindest 100mal ist unser Ziel hier.

Airplanes fly 20,30 years. I don't believe it is possible, to make it that long, but at least 100 times is our goal.

Otherwise that interview, while quite good for those who do not know SpaceX, yielded nothing of interest for us.

Offline GregA

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 489
  • Liked: 254
  • Likes Given: 58
In another thread Lobo was asking about the BFR term vs MCT.

I don't think the Moon is a necessary step, but I think if you've got a rocket and spacecraft capable of going to Mars, you might as well go to the Moon as well - it's along the way. That's like crossing the English Channel, relative to Mars. So, it's like, if you have these ships that could cross the Atlantic, would you cross the English Channel? Probably. It's definitely not necessary, but you'd probably end up having a Moon base just because, like, why not, ya know. It terms of the key technologies, obviously it would be great to have some sort of fundamental new thing that's never existed before and pushes the boundaries of physics, that'd be great, but as far as the physics that we know today, I actually think we've got the basic ingredients - they're there. I mean, if you do a densified liquid methalox rocket with on-orbit refueling, so like you load the spacecraft into orbit and then you send a whole bunch of refueling missions to fill up the tanks and you have the Mars colonial fleet - essentially - that gets built up during the time between Earth-Mars synchronizations, which occur every 26 months, then the fleet all departs at the optimal transfer point. I think we have - we don't need any sort of thing that people don't already know about, I believe. I believe we've got the building blocks, but the mass efficiency is extremely important. So, having better heat shields, that obviously are reusable.

http://shitelonsays.com/transcript/elon-musk-at-mits-aeroastro-centennial-part-2-of-6-2014-10-24
(links to video)

and this from 2005 which treats the BFR as its own entity:

In past talks Musk has hinted at the development of something called the “BFR” (where B stands for “big” and R for “rocket”), a heavy-lift vehicle far larger than the Falcon family of vehicles. At SpaceVision2005 Musk disclosed that the BFR, in its current iteration, would use “multiple” Merlin 2 engines. The BFR would be able to place 100 tons in low Earth orbit, putting it in competition with NASA’s planned shuttle-derived heavy-lift launcher. The BFR is so big, Musk said, that it’s too large for the BFTS at their Texas test site...

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/497/1

All that said... look a few posts up here, and Gwynne Shotwell says "...the Mars colonial transporter,  we're gonna have to build that rocket on the launch site..."

Offline sublimemarsupial

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 386
  • Liked: 258
  • Likes Given: 3
Direct quote from Elon implying no second stage, just booster and mars spacecraft from an article in GQ:

"Well, there's two parts of it—there's a booster rocket and there's a spaceship. So the booster rocket's just to get it out of Earth's gravity because Earth has quite a deep gravity well and thick atmosphere, but the spaceship can go from Mars to Earth without any booster, because Mars's gravity is weaker and the atmosphere's thinner, so it's got enough capability to get all the way back here by itself. It needs a helping hand out of Earth's gravity well. So, technically, it would be the BFR and the BFS." As in "Big frakking Spaceship."

http://www.gq.com/story/elon-musk-mars-spacex-tesla-interview?utm_source=10370

Offline ScepticMatt

  • Member
  • Posts: 36
  • Liked: 20
  • Likes Given: 82
tidbit about soot on BFR (via Twitter):

Quote
Tom Mueller ‏@lrocket  28 Dec 2015
@Robotbeat @grinich @elonmusk When we convert to LOX/Methane for Mars rocket then frost will keep both tanks clean
Quote
Tom Mueller ‏@lrocket  28 Dec 2015
@Robotbeat @grinich @elonmusk Yes, I can confirm MUCH less soot with methane
Quote
@SpaceJosh @Robotbeat @grinich Kero much worse under any condition than CH4.  For CH4 sooting dependent on OF and slightly on pressure

https://twitter.com/lrocket/status/681556076731351040
« Last Edit: 01/20/2016 01:35 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Burninate

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1129
  • Liked: 343
  • Likes Given: 72
Shotwell mentioned about BFR a few months ago at the South Summit 2015 (Oct 7-9), in Madrid, " [Falcon Heavy] This one is about 4M pounds of thrust, and the mock... the vehicle that takes us to Mars will be three or four times that size"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omBF1P2VhRI?t=10m46s

(original video, mostly Spanish-language conference proceeding, but Shotwell's voice still appears beneath a title graphic for the first ten minutes, though not her face.  The video I linked above seems to have been created a while after this one was promoted, and does a proper cut to her presentation alone)

I also vaguely remember her mentioning offhand that they were developing a 180-210t to LEO superheavy launcher.  I've been trying to find the interview, but can't turn anything up.
« Last Edit: 01/20/2016 01:33 PM by Chris Bergin »

Tags: