Author Topic: Speculation and Discussion: Crew for first SpaceX Mars mission  (Read 23838 times)

Online jpo234

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
  • Liked: 483
  • Likes Given: 71
What crew would SpaceX send on the first manned mission?

My guess: About 10 people
* Commander/Pilot/Comms
* Pilot/BFS Engineer/Comms
* Doctor/Biologist/Cook
* Vehicle Engineer/Driver
* Chemist/ISRU Engineer
* Geologist/Scout/Driver
* Geologist/Scout/Driver
* Hab Engineer/Builder/Driver
* Biologist/Gardener/Cook
* ??
« Last Edit: 07/08/2016 01:06 PM by Chris Bergin »
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline philw1776

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 890
  • Seacoast NH
  • Liked: 499
  • Likes Given: 252
1. MD
2-6.  Flight Engineers/Ground Equipment Support Engineers
7,8: Geologist/Drilling Technicians (Martian water seekers: props to RAH)
9,10: Sundry NASA scientist/flight engineer/astronauts
11,12: Other nation sci/astros paying participants.  Various technical specialties.


Note there are no astronaut/pilots per se because the landing is too quick for pilots.  Everything automated with engineers as fixers.
NASA pays a couple billion for participation.
Other nations pay for seats.
One of 9-12 is either another MD or trained as a medic.
« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 12:45 PM by philw1776 »
“When it looks more like an alien dreadnought, that’s when you know you’ve won.”

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27110
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 7084
  • Likes Given: 4931
Generalists.
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

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6440
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1619
  • Likes Given: 1483
Quote
* Biologist/Gardener/Cook

Very important. I cannot see the first flight without a greenhouse. Also mostly dry goods which can be converted to good food by a good cook when combined with fresh produce from the greenhouse.

Online Doesitfloat

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 220
  • Detroit MI
  • Liked: 310
  • Likes Given: 129
I believe you are going to need a geneticist in short order to have a happy crew and eventually a successful colony.
We have never seen a complex organism born off the earth. Everything we know is adapted to atmospheric pressure and earth gravity. What is going to happen when those are removed.
IMHO mice will be the first study. They will be able to get 20 generations in a short amount of time.  Then how about some food. Chicken, pigs, or fish, which will make it.

Online jpo234

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
  • Liked: 483
  • Likes Given: 71
I believe you are going to need a geneticist in short order to have a happy crew and eventually a successful colony.
We have never seen a complex organism born off the earth. Everything we know is adapted to atmospheric pressure and earth gravity. What is going to happen when those are removed.
IMHO mice will be the first study. They will be able to get 20 generations in a short amount of time.  Then how about some food. Chicken, pigs, or fish, which will make it.

IMHO while these are important long term questions, I don't see them for the FIRST missions. The first missions will be about scouting and base building.
The long term questions will be tackled when the initial base is up and running.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6440
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1619
  • Likes Given: 1483
IMHO while these are important long term questions, I don't see them for the FIRST missions. The first missions will be about scouting and base building.
The long term questions will be tackled when the initial base is up and running.

This is gettin OT for this first crew thread I am afraid. But I actually believe and have stated before that the experiment with mice in martian gravity will be done even before the first flight to Mars. There will be a long term evaluation flight of MCT with crew in LEO before people are sent to Mars in it. Plenty of crew time and plenty of space to run a centrifuge with mice in Mars gravity over several generations. It is that important if you want to build a colony.

For further disussion we should find another thread though.

Online Bynaus

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 416
  • Planetary Scientist
  • Switzerland
  • Liked: 279
  • Likes Given: 179
For the very first flight, which is a technology demonstrator and shakedown mission, you are not going to need geologists, geneticists, etc. Also, I don't think you will have a dedicated "pilot" or such - SpaceX philosophy (even with Dragon 2) is that the spacecraft flies - with or without passengers.

Instead, the first SpaceX astronauts are going to be excellent problem solvers, which have shown a capability to work collaboratively under stressful situations. It would be advisable to have at least two with a medical background. All of them will have some specialities, but all of them will also know their way around all of the systems on board, as well as all the equipment that will have to be tested on Mars. I don't think they will bring 10 people. No more than 7 is my guess, most likely something like 4 or 5.

And you know what? All these people have already been born. They just don't know yet that they will be the first humans to walk on the surface of Mars.
« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 01:57 PM by Bynaus »

Online jpo234

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
  • Liked: 483
  • Likes Given: 71
For the very first flight, which is a technology demonstrator and shakedown mission, you are not going to need geologists, geneticists, etc.

I strongly disagree with this. The technology demonstrator is the unmanned flight that comes before the manned mission.
The crew will probably spend at least a full synodic cycle on Mars. Simply waiting for the ISRU plant to make enough fuel for the flight back will take a long time. I'm sure they will do prospecting, scouting and research.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Offline JasonAW3

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
  • Claremore, Ok.
  • Liked: 384
  • Likes Given: 11
1. MD
2-6.  Flight Engineers/Ground Equipment Support Engineers
7,8: Geologist/Drilling Technicians (Martian water seekers: props to RAH)
9,10: Sundry NASA scientist/flight engineer/astronauts
11,12: Other nation sci/astros paying participants.  Various technical specialties.


Note there are no astronaut/pilots per se because the landing is too quick for pilots.  Everything automated with engineers as fixers.
NASA pays a couple billion for participation.
Other nations pay for seats.
One of 9-12 is either another MD or trained as a medic.

      The mix that you've given is pretty good, but the whole interface and landing sequence takes a bit over 7 minutes, and as such, we may have a "Neil Armstrong" situation towards the end of the descent that would require manual control of the final phase of descent. 

      As such, at least two of the Flight / Ground Equipment Engineers should be pilots as well.  While it is highly unlikely that those skills would be needed, having a manual back up to the flight computers would be a really good idea.

      While NASA seems to be fixated on the small, 4 to 6 person crew concept, the larger 9 to 12 person concept seems a better psychological mix, as well as a good contingency mix.  As there is a high likelihood of at least one or more of the crew becoming ill, injured or possibly worse, having the additional crew with at least 2 medical generalist doctors in the mix, would go a long ways to minimize the chances of a disastrous mission failure.
My God!  It's full of universes!

Offline JasonAW3

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2434
  • Claremore, Ok.
  • Liked: 384
  • Likes Given: 11
IMHO while these are important long term questions, I don't see them for the FIRST missions. The first missions will be about scouting and base building.
The long term questions will be tackled when the initial base is up and running.

This is gettin OT for this first crew thread I am afraid. But I actually believe and have stated before that the experiment with mice in martian gravity will be done even before the first flight to Mars. There will be a long term evaluation flight of MCT with crew in LEO before people are sent to Mars in it. Plenty of crew time and plenty of space to run a centrifuge with mice in Mars gravity over several generations. It is that important if you want to build a colony.

For further disussion we should find another thread though.

Hmm, while it is drifting a bit, for the most part, it wouldn't be a bad idea to discuss what kinds of skill sets are most needed for the initial flights.

     Part of the discussion should be defining the actual goals of the first few missions and what needs to be done on those missions.

     First; do we want the first mission to be purely scientific, limited to environmental and geological (or areological, as the case may be) or a mix of scientific and base or colony building?

      Second; is the first crew intended to come back to Earth or stay on Mars?  A different mix of skill sets would be required for each of these two missions.

      Third; Are we talking about a short term stay of about 30 days or a long term stay between launch opportunities?  Again, a different mix of skill sets needed for each.

      Fourth; Are we talking a localized mission, not exceeding a 100 Km radius around the landing site or are we talking a mission that includes scouting for colony locations that could require a 1000 Km plus radius?  This last one affects both skill mix and crew size for safety concerns.  (Equipment and consumables are also a concern, but not relevant to this discussion).

     Currently, a mix of 9 to 12 crew people with at least 2 to 4 generalists, 7 to 10 mixed specialists including at least 2 general MDs and at least 2 semi-EMT types, mixed into the crew, seems to be the best mission mix.  Sickness, injury or worse SHOULD be expected on the first few missions, and as such a larger crew seems to stand the best chances of both completing whatever primary mission is established, as well as doing so with the least likely hood of crew losses.
My God!  It's full of universes!

Online jpo234

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 678
  • Liked: 483
  • Likes Given: 71
     First; do we want the first mission to be purely scientific, limited to environmental and geological (or areological, as the case may be) or a mix of scientific and base or colony building?

I think it will be a mix of science, scouting, prospecting and base building. They will build a base from where to research the location of the future colony. Colony building would imply, that the very first landing nails the perfect spot for the future colony. That seems unlikely.

      Second; is the first crew intended to come back to Earth or stay on Mars?  A different mix of skill sets would be required for each of these two missions.

I think so. IMHO a permanent stay requires an established colony or at least a big base. This will not be there for some decades.

      Third; Are we talking about a short term stay of about 30 days or a long term stay between launch opportunities?  Again, a different mix of skill sets needed for each.

Long term stay. I think the ISRU plant will take a long time to make the fuel for the return trip.

      Fourth; Are we talking a localized mission, not exceeding a 100 Km radius around the landing site or are we talking a mission that includes scouting for colony locations that could require a 1000 Km plus radius?  This last one affects both skill mix and crew size for safety concerns.  (Equipment and consumables are also a concern, but not relevant to this discussion).

Base building and localized mission. Once the base is up and running (a few missions later), global scouting for the colony site.

     Currently, a mix of 9 to 12 crew people with at least 2 to 4 generalists, 7 to 10 mixed specialists including at least 2 general MDs and at least 2 semi-EMT types, mixed into the crew, seems to be the best mission mix.  Sickness, injury or worse SHOULD be expected on the first few missions, and as such a larger crew seems to stand the best chances of both completing whatever primary mission is established, as well as doing so with the least likely hood of crew losses.
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

Online guckyfan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6440
  • Germany
  • Liked: 1619
  • Likes Given: 1483
Long term stay. I think the ISRU plant will take a long time to make the fuel for the return trip.

I would agree, it seems to me this would be the way to go. But Elon Musk has said they won't send crew before fuel ISRU is up and running and return fuel is ready.

But I agree it will be a full synod stay and they will be there when the next crew arrives. Some would stay with the new crew, some would go back. With fuel ISRU active and supplies plenty with 100t payload vehicles a two year stay is well doable. The passenger volume for 100 people will be very large as a base for 7 to 12. The skills of people sent will be selected fitting for the goals. I expect a permanent base from the first landing will be the goal set by Elon Musk.

Crew size will depend on how they send them up. I expect MCT will launch with crew but maybe not on the first few flights. If they use Dragon they may send only 7 on the first flight but that is a really small group.

Offline philw1776

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 890
  • Seacoast NH
  • Liked: 499
  • Likes Given: 252
1. MD
2-6.  Flight Engineers/Ground Equipment Support Engineers
7,8: Geologist/Drilling Technicians (Martian water seekers: props to RAH)
9,10: Sundry NASA scientist/flight engineer/astronauts
11,12: Other nation sci/astros paying participants.  Various technical specialties.


Note there are no astronaut/pilots per se because the landing is too quick for pilots.  Everything automated with engineers as fixers.
NASA pays a couple billion for participation.
Other nations pay for seats.
One of 9-12 is either another MD or trained as a medic.

      The mix that you've given is pretty good, but the whole interface and landing sequence takes a bit over 7 minutes, and as such, we may have a "Neil Armstrong" situation towards the end of the descent that would require manual control of the final phase of descent. 

      As such, at least two of the Flight / Ground Equipment Engineers should be pilots as well.  While it is highly unlikely that those skills would be needed, having a manual back up to the flight computers would be a really good idea.

      While NASA seems to be fixated on the small, 4 to 6 person crew concept, the larger 9 to 12 person concept seems a better psychological mix, as well as a good contingency mix.  As there is a high likelihood of at least one or more of the crew becoming ill, injured or possibly worse, having the additional crew with at least 2 medical generalist doctors in the mix, would go a long ways to minimize the chances of a disastrous mission failure.

I don't see where pilots will be useful.
SX knows where the MCT will land.  This is not 1969 electronics.  Pilots did not take over and fly the Space Shuttle during critical, precise Earth re-entry.  The MCT will do a minimal last seconds landing burn way too precise and fuel economical for a pilot to be useful.  Starting with crew dragon SX will not have any pilots.  So far every Mars landing has been without pilots.  Ten years from today and beyond, astronaut/pilots will be an extinct species.
“When it looks more like an alien dreadnought, that’s when you know you’ve won.”

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3242
  • Florida
  • Liked: 1625
  • Likes Given: 177
As far as pilot/commander actions during landing it would be more like the commander/pilot tapping a finger on a location on the screen telling the BFS to "land here" overriding the automated system's choice for landing location. A manual control of such a large vehicle will never be a fully manual capability. It will always require a significant amount of computer and IMU support.

As far as getting crew into orbit from Earth if Dragon is used then 2 Dragon flights for a crew size of 12 to 14.

The idea of having paying passengers is probably a good one. In that for $500M per person NASA or other foreign gov organization can send astronauts on the First Manned Mars Landing. Four passengers could pay for the complete flight costs $2B. If NASA spent the same as it is currently spending in 2 years on SLS/Orion then they could send 6 astronauts for a total payment to SpaceX of $6B. SpaceX could even conceivable make a profit on the flight and still send 6-8 of their own astronauts. A BTW NASA spending this money would happen after SpaceX showed the system can get to Earth orbit and to travel and land at Mars (unmanned). Also it would take a congressional action as well which could limit the amount to as little as $1B and just 2 passengers. Also this is pure speculation of what could happen during the post initial MCT Mars (unmanned mission) in 2022 or latter. I doubt congress will believe in the system until it actually flies and lands on Mars.

Participation by other organizations other than than SpaceX (paying customers probably) would make the primary SpaceX crew one of operation and maintenance with some cross training in base setup. Any scientific including geological survey would be by the customers except maybe some cross training again for a rough geological survey needed for base locating and setup.

The question is how many crew will be needed for the basic support functions (Command, daily operations, setup and maintenance). There also is as mentioned a medical support requirement but whether it would be a computer Expert System assisted regular crew or an actual person could still be debated.

Think of a crew size of 6 being the minimum for operations and maintenance from evidence of ISS. Since the systems will be more automated and even more redundant with the experience of ISS to make the hardware lower maintenance 6 total should be able to do it. That leaves 6 to 8 possible passengers "scientists" that could be supported.

Online Ionmars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 764
  • North Carolina, USA
    • The Mars Pioneer
  • Liked: 207
  • Likes Given: 473
Possible additions: video film-maker; M.D. Specialized in aerospace medicine.

Philosophy: Every passenger trained to operate every machine. One Specialist with in-depth knowledge of every machine.

Manuals:  Google access to Earth libraries; "100 uses for duct tape."  :)
« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 10:43 PM by Ionmars »
* Mars' orbit: a convenient service station for an asteroid-sized spaceship en-route to Ceres. *

Offline CuddlyRocket

What crew would SpaceX send on the first manned mission?

Diverse with respect to gender, race and possibly sexuality. Not disability though. Mostly American, but other nationalities if some nations are willing to cough up the cash. Telegenic and articulate (yes, professionally competent in a relevant skill, but the two are not incompatible and PR will be a relevant skill).

First; do we want the first mission to be purely scientific, limited to environmental and geological (or areological, as the case may be) or a mix of scientific and base or colony building?

I think you've got your priorities the wrong way round here! That might be the way NASA would think, but SpaceX is all about a colony - its priority will be base or colony building. Scientific research will likely be limited to applied research in support of that goal or that carried out on behalf of organisations willing to pay for it.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9032
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 5720
  • Likes Given: 3815
I love this thread!

I think Heinlein had it right, specialization is for insects, and as with SiaSL, each crew member needs to be trained in EVERYTHING. There will be accidents, deaths, temporary disasters, etc with the crew possibly divided, temporarily stranded, etc, and the truck factor[1] needs to be very high. 

We have the internet and compact storage and comms, so it makes sense to take the sum of human knowledge with us, and have experts on tap back on Earth, but in an emergency (for at least certain classes of emergency) you do not have time to consult the manual, you need at least basic familiarity with the equipment that is reflexive.

I like the OP list of skills but everyone needs everything at least a little. (I do agree with others upthread that piloting the MCT itself may not be AS important, but I think there will be a lot of piloting to do, if only UAVs or hoppers, or etc...

1 - IT joke, look at the skills needed for your project. If someone is the only person with a given skill, you are at truck factor one. One truck hitting one person and your project is dead in the water....
« Last Edit: 07/07/2016 02:07 AM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline ThereIWas3

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 618
  • Liked: 264
  • Likes Given: 213
Scientific research will likely be limited to applied research in support of that goal or that carried out on behalf of organisations willing to pay for it.

I think the Musk way of looking at it is that exploring Mars for scientific purposes, learning about the origin of planets, etc, is a good project for the settlers to undertake once they are there.   The early mssions will be about building the infrastructure to support a population that includes such scientists.  Early geologists will be there to help locate resources.

On the earliest missions, I would take the approach the Navy does in training submarine crews (at least, how they used to do it):  Everyone on board can perform every job on board in an emergency, in addition to their specific assigned duty.   That does not mean that everyone on board can do everything the physician can in an operating room, but they will have had some amount of paramedical training.  Zubrin's oringinal plan was that everyone be good at two main jobs.

I once asked a member of the crew on one of those recreations of a 16th century square-rigged sailing ship why they carried (in the old days) such large crews of a couple hundred men, when these days they could sail the ship with a crew of under 20..  The answer was, "for spares".  People fall overboard, and a square-rigged ship can't turn around to pick you up.
"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline su27k

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 707
  • Liked: 435
  • Likes Given: 47
Even something as "simple" as going to the ISS will require two demo flights: one unmanned demo and one manned demo. So you can bet NASA will require a manned test flight first, i.e. no paid customers, no foreigners, no scientists, just enough astronauts and engineers to do a viable mission, # of people is probably 4 to 6 given past mission designs. And they won't stay on Mars for long if an immediate return is at all possible, just a quick look around, plant a flag, then back. The intention is to verify the whole system works with people in it, the other stuff can be left to later missions.

Tags: