Author Topic: SpaceX / NASA Collaboration - Red Dragon - Goddard Teleconference.  (Read 30619 times)

Offline Marslauncher

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« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 06:56 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Marslauncher

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Conference starts at 2pm CST..lots of people joining the call currently.

Offline Marslauncher

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Dan Lester / Phil McAlister are the speakers for todays call. -

For more on the NASA manager:
https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/?s=Mcalister

Very high call turnout... lots of people still joining.
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 07:27 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Marslauncher

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Starting now...

Harley Thronson - Giving an initial greeting to the call.

Slides will be on the University of Texas website (FISO) after the fact.

Handing over to Phil..

Is there a way to listen in?

Offline Marslauncher

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Phil starting to speak about the expanded level of collaboration with SpaceX, this will go into more detail on NASA's role will be in the mission. Does have some detail on the Red Dragon mission.

NASA is a "consultant to SpaceX" .. Has limited design input (which is good)

I don't have access to the slides currently..


Offline Marslauncher

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Online Chris Bergin

Is there a way to listen in?

They record it and will upload the slides at a latter day, per their usual route. One reporter noted he couldn't get in, so perhaps limited space. Well done to ML if so.

Online rdale

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Is there a way to listen in?

Only if invited, the telecon is not public until the archive is posted later.

http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/archivelist.htm

Offline Marslauncher

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Companies really benefitting from the collaboration with NASA on various projects.. Mutually beneficial.

Increases the likelihood NASA will have access to the capabilities in the future (unfunded agreements)

Q - Does NASA expect to do this type of unfunded project again
A - There is an on ramp to this type of project, possibility to do again but no set plans.

20 bids were submitted, down selected to 4.

Offline Marslauncher

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Mostly labor costs, NASA funded that via left over funds from COTS.

$2-3 million left over, appropriated for partnerships.

Chose SpaceX, (SpaceX has Mars aspirations!)

When SpaceX submitted proposal, generic, no fixed plans at time of submission, basic architecture plan only.

SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Frontier (Space suits), ULA - Vulcan LV, currently focused on ACES upper stage.

Offline Marslauncher

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In late 2015, SpaceX submitted the Red Dragon mission, - Could really benefit from an expanded NASA collaboration, SpaceX approached NASA for expanded collaboration (more than the 2-3 million available)

NASA created a feasibility study, cost estimates and top level mission feasibility.

Goal was Mars technology and systems.

Additional funding was identified, modified agreement to facilitate the collaboration.

SpaceX responsible for RD through flight and post flight.

6 areas,

Deep space comms, mars relay support

Mars trajectory.

EDL

Flight systems technical review.

Planetary protection.

(missed the other one)

SpaceX interested in POTENTIALLY delivering ISRU tech, Working with NASA.

Payload not set, allowing other people to submit requests.

Offline Marslauncher

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NASA will get MOST of SpaceX EDL data - Cannot get via any other means. Is what NASA gets from the mission.

Space Tech Mission Directorate - JPL, JSC and other centers - Leading tech demonstrator design and EDL.

JPL helping with Planetary Protection.

SpaceX funded mission - NASA providing on call support an limited full time, mostly civil servant.

Offline Marslauncher

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NASA's participation - Highly desired, not mission critical, higher probability of success with support. DSN a big help, something SpaceX could have done alone.

First mission opportunity 2018, missions every 26 months. Plan to be increasingly independent of NASA, eventually phasing out completely.

RD Mission architecture.

F9 Heavy, (first flight) 1st Q next year - Red Dragon will launch from Cape Canaveral - FAA license.

Nose cone jettisoned, Mars transfer orbit - 180 days to cruise - jettison trunk - EDL - Hopefully landing on Mars.

Huge success even if they *just* land on Mars. - Couple of days of data on Mars surface would be excellent.

« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 08:22 PM by Marslauncher »

Offline Marslauncher

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Mars is hard, need both Govt and Private Sector to get there.

Offline Marslauncher

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Tech needed -

Large mass payloads - 20/30 tonnes landed.

Dragon would be smaller than desired but larger than anything else.

Heavy mass - 130 Tonnes optimal.

Fast return to Earth. (Re-entry speed)

---

Feasibility study - What are the benefits for NASA..

Online Chris Bergin



Heavy mass - 130 Tonnes optimal.



That's the hat tip to the political requirement for SLS Block 2. A lot believe Block 1B, EUS and Advanced Booster could be the workhorse, but nope - they still want this Block 2 for those extra 10 or so mTs.

Sorry, just saying ;)

Offline Marslauncher

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Not a side thing, Mission functional for NASA.

Offers critical data on supersonic retro propulsion at least 10 years prior than NASA could get it, no NASA missions even on the books.

Q - What challenges have they faced so far with ITAR restrictions on international collaboration
A - Agreement has several pages on IP, Govt rights - Science data will be disseminated to academic community.


Offline Marslauncher

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Q - Planetary Protection --

A - Approval for mission is immature so far, not necessarily NASA's role, is the US Govt, NASA will have input, providing advice to SpaceX to sterilize spacecraft. - Area still in development - FAA will have a role, State Dept and NASA.

Offline Marslauncher

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Gail Allen - working with PP officer, participating as one of the partners, SpaceX has agreed to comply with NASA's guidelines / requirements.

Offline Marslauncher

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Enhances NASA's EDL capability - every opportunity makes us smarter.

Performance - Large mass - Large ballistic coefficient.
Entry Guidance - Powered flight - Supersonic retro propulsion.
Ground Guidance - How landing, rocket plumes interaction.

Will be the Dragon 2 for Commercial Crew - Stresses will not be a craft that can send humans to Mars. (too small).

SpaceX have been very good at listening to updates and suggestions (sensors on the Dragon), trades for mission success / what they want to accomplish.

Likelihood of success - High level top down - Reasonable likelihood, increased with NASA support. Both NASA and SpaceX understand it could fail, NASA felt it was a good chance of success. Aggressive timeline, worthwhile for participation.

Offline Marslauncher

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Slide 8 - Summary of NASA participation

6 technical agreements.

1) Deep space comm, Data Relay Tracking, MRN Service.
2) Deep space nav, cruise trajectories, inflight nav support. Trajectory correction maneuvers.
3) EDL - Review and advice - JPL - JSC. - Positive collaboration.
4) Aero sciences activities - takes the information and plugs in to future NASA missions.
5) Flight Systems Technical review - capture flight systems activities, help with radios and tranceivers.
6) Planetary Protection. - Govt approvals.


Offline Marslauncher

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Daily / Weekly updates - NASA - SpaceX on a technical level.

Quarterly reviews also - just to make sure on the same page with partners. (2 already) way to gauge SpaceX progress. NASA has milestones SpaceX has to meet.

No concerns so far.

Q - What risk NASA is exposed to.
A - Mostly financial and getting the data they expect.

Is SpaceX looking at taking payloads even on the 2018 mission, not sure the payload interfaces of mass available yet.

NASA has a list of payloads from the initial submission.


Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Here are the slides

Edit: added PDF version

2nd Edit: audio now available too, see this post
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 08:31 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline Marslauncher

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Potentially some cost if SpaceX will be going anyway (who pays for the payload?) unclear yet.

Q) If SpaceX are able to propose this cheaper and faster, is there any thought on if NASA would make this an agency mission?

A) No, it would have had to have been thought of and proposed many years ago.

Offline Marslauncher

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Excellent! Thanks for the slides :)

Offline Bynaus

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Offline Marslauncher

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Q) Will the EDL data be shared to ANY company NASA collaborates with?

A) NO! Tech is all SpaceX, DATA has the ability to use the EDL internally only.

Q) Will other companies have to develop their own EDL or will they get the benefit of the partnership through NASA.

A) Lawyer states IP provisions should be public. All the terms and conditions are available online.

Offline Marslauncher

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Flight data will not be disseminated, only some of the EDL.

Q / A time!

Offline Marslauncher

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Planetary Protection question - (Taking forever to get to a point....)

What kind of benefit to NASA is SLS if SpaceX able to do it without it.

Plan to convert EM1 to be around Mars instead and then test re-entry to Earth? (one persons suggestion at least)

... this question has gone all weird...

Online Robotbeat

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Holy cow, someone is making an epically long speech right now under guise of a "question." (Mostly complaining about duplication and reinventing the wheel or something?)
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 08:10 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Marslauncher

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Putting a large mass into Mars atmosphere has never been done before.. multiple capabilities allows for greater chance of success. ISS COTS as an example.


Offline Marslauncher

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Well that was it for Q/A ! :/ Everyone excited to see Elon's talk next week!

Offline DOCinCT

Here are the slides

Edit: added PDF version


Thanks as spirit.as.utexas.edu site blocked for some reason
 
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 08:13 PM by Chris Bergin »

Online Chris Bergin

Well that was it for Q/A ! :/ Everyone excited to see Elon's talk next week!

If that's the end of the event, thanks very much for the excellent notes (I know from experience that's not easy and you did great).  Everyone drop him a like or three.
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 09:29 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Marslauncher

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Yep! That concluded the teleconference :) The slides certainly help!

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Audio is now on-line too, copy attached.

Online vaporcobra

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Potentially some cost if SpaceX will be going anyway (who pays for the payload?) unclear yet.

Q) If SpaceX are able to propose this cheaper and faster, is there any thought on if NASA would make this an agency mission?

A) No, it would have had to have been thought of and proposed many years ago.

Wow, maybe I'm misinterpreting but this response seems extraordinarily arrogant.

Online rockets4life97

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Potentially some cost if SpaceX will be going anyway (who pays for the payload?) unclear yet.

Q) If SpaceX are able to propose this cheaper and faster, is there any thought on if NASA would make this an agency mission?

A) No, it would have had to have been thought of and proposed many years ago.

Wow, maybe I'm misinterpreting but this response seems extraordinarily arrogant.

I think the correct interpretation here is that for Red Dragon to become a NASA mission would require a much longer process proposal and review process. As a private SpaceX mission that isn't required.

Online Lar

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Well that was it for Q/A ! :/ Everyone excited to see Elon's talk next week!

If that's the end of the event, thanks very much for the excellent notes (I know from experience that's not easy and you did great).  Everyone drop him a link or three.
(emphasis mine because I like to tease Chris)...
Or a like or 17.

Marslauncher thank you very much for this. I was caught by surprise, didn't know this talk was coming up. Much appreciated!
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 09:08 PM 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

Online Robotbeat

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Potentially some cost if SpaceX will be going anyway (who pays for the payload?) unclear yet.

Q) If SpaceX are able to propose this cheaper and faster, is there any thought on if NASA would make this an agency mission?

A) No, it would have had to have been thought of and proposed many years ago.

Wow, maybe I'm misinterpreting but this response seems extraordinarily arrogant.

I think the correct interpretation here is that for Red Dragon to become a NASA mission would require a much longer process proposal and review process. As a private SpaceX mission that isn't required.
Not only that, but SpaceX has been preparing this capability in some form or another since at least 2010, when they announced an integrated abort system. And I think since 2012, there have been graphics floating around of Red Dragon sitting on Mars.

2010 to 2018 is pretty tight for an agency program, but possible. But the main point is there is no way NASA could do 2018 if they decided to do this now. It'd probably be at least a decade later.

My guess is a NASA version would be:
1) an order magnitude higher cost, easily
2) twice as long from initial plans to launch
3) greater chance of succeeding first try (look at skycrane and tell me that's not JPL/NASA EDL engineers showing off...)
4) but at even greater chance of being canceled before it got very far.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline whitelancer64

*snip*
 I think since 2012, there have been graphics floating around of Red Dragon sitting on Mars.
*/snip*

Close, SpaceX uploaded a video in April 2011, "SpaceX Next," with an animation of a Dragon landing on Mars, the one where it's a Dragon Cargo capsule with fire blasting out of the sides. The earliest reference I can find to the "Red Dragon" is a space.com article from July 2011.

Predated, sort of, by a mildly prophetic post on April 26 2011 by A_M_Swallow, who should probably get a clairvoyance trophy of some kind.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24179.msg729641#msg729641
« Last Edit: 09/21/2016 10:01 PM by whitelancer64 »
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Online Chris Bergin

So this thread has everything we need per the content. I was tempted to write an article, but it would literally be what is in this thread. I'll save that for part of the series we'll be working on after Mexico drops, per the roadmap series to Mars, given this is a first major step.

Online Robotbeat

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Listening to the recorded version again, and someone actually asked about MCT:
Caller: "How does this agreement blend in to SpaceX's next generation Mars landing capability?"
Phil: "Yeah, no idea. SpaceX has not shared their next generation concept and architecture with us. My understanding is Elon might make some sort of announcement at the IAC coming up soon. But, don't know."

So there's no cooperation between SpaceX and NASA on MCT at least through this agreement so far. Puts that to rest, I guess.
« Last Edit: 09/22/2016 01:34 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline mlindner

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This may be off topic, and delete the post if it is, but "I told you so".

Payload should include some form of deployable solar arrays - and the means to clean them of the dust. If there were circular sets it might be as simple as a rotating wand/brush . That and a camera and possibly a scooper arm to dig down a bit might be enough for flight 1. A good telescope to show Earth and Moon from Mars would be cool too.

A lot of people seem to be overestimating how much Red Dragon is going to do. Red Dragon will be a stripped down Dragon 2 with lots of sensors, some interplanetary comms and no scientific payload. It will not deploy a rover. It will not have solar panels (other than what's on the trunk). It will be battery powered and take a few photos. The main purpose of the mission is to get data return on EDL techniques that will input into the design of MCT. Two years is not enough time to design build and test anything fancy.

Only thing I was wrong on is that it will apparently be carrying some limited engineering payloads from NASA.
« Last Edit: 09/22/2016 03:31 AM by mlindner »
Internal combustion engine in space. It's just a Bad Idea.TM - Robotbeat

Online Robotbeat

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We still don't know what payload there may be. SpaceX still is interested in a payload but haven't narrowed down everything yet.
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 TrevorMonty

We still don't know what payload there may be. SpaceX still is interested in a payload but haven't narrowed down everything yet.
Some type of ISRU demonstrator is most likely, eg extracting oxygen from CO2.

The plus side of this mission is most payloads a not mission critical so they can be lower TRL demostrators. I hoping they can fly drone.
« Last Edit: 09/22/2016 05:44 PM by TrevorMonty »

Online Robotbeat

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We still don't know what payload there may be. SpaceX still is interested in a payload but haven't narrowed down everything yet.
Some type of ISRU demonstrator is most likely, eg extracting oxygen from CO2.

The plus side of this mission is most payloads a not mission critical so they can be lower TRL demostrators. I hoping they can fly drone.
Doesnt make sense unless they're flying a MOXIE clone.

SpaceX is going to be mining water on the surface, and their rockets are methane-based.  Since they're making the methane on the surface, they get more oxygen than they need as a byproduct of that, plus  A they'd just be duplicating the payload on NASA's 2020 rover. The likely type of payloads were shown in previous Red Mars presentations. Water extraction, in particular, would be the most useful.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline DanielW

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... SpaceX is going to be mining water on the surface, and their rockets are methane-based.  Since they're making the methane on the surface, they get more oxygen than they need as a byproduct of that, ...

Is this just assuming a fuel rich engine? If stoichiometric I would assume no excess.

Offline guckyfan

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... SpaceX is going to be mining water on the surface, and their rockets are methane-based.  Since they're making the methane on the surface, they get more oxygen than they need as a byproduct of that, ...

Is this just assuming a fuel rich engine? If stoichiometric I would assume no excess.

The engines always run fuel rich.  As the products of ISRU will be in stochiometric relation there will be an excess of oxygen. Plus an excess of nitrogen as that is filtered out from the martian air to feed pure or nearly pure CO2 into the ISRU reactors.

Offline mfck

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Thinking of a possible payload, and assuming the highest priority of this mission is EDL data, a deployable robotic arm with a sensor suite for
a) external inspection of the craft after landing, things you cannot instrument the craft itself for, like heat shield and outer shell inspection
b) landing zone probing
would seem to be appropriate.

X-Ray, Multispectral UF-IR, Terahertz, Ultrasound? 

Offline ThereIWas3

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Making methane from CO2 is really old technology;  I don't think they need to demonstrate that early on.  Robotic mining ice on Mars and getting it into a form that the Sabatier reactor can actually use is the area that needs work.
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Offline mlindner

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We still don't know what payload there may be. SpaceX still is interested in a payload but haven't narrowed down everything yet.
Some type of ISRU demonstrator is most likely, eg extracting oxygen from CO2.

The plus side of this mission is most payloads a not mission critical so they can be lower TRL demostrators. I hoping they can fly drone.
Doesnt make sense unless they're flying a MOXIE clone.

SpaceX is going to be mining water on the surface, and their rockets are methane-based.  Since they're making the methane on the surface, they get more oxygen than they need as a byproduct of that, plus  A they'd just be duplicating the payload on NASA's 2020 rover. The likely type of payloads were shown in previous Red Mars presentations. Water extraction, in particular, would be the most useful.

You shouldn't expect anything that involves interactions with the soil surface. There's nowhere to mount payloads besides on the top of the vehicle where the mounting hatch was/is. Don't expect pressure hull changes for this mission because there isn't time to re-do all those analyses. No water mining.
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Offline guckyfan

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I would like to see a small Yutu sized rover with a ground penetrating radar like Yutu had. That could determine, how deep the regolith layer over the ice is. Maybe too much to ask for 2018 though.

Offline Bynaus

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I still think there will be no surface-contact experiments, and the lander will be battery-powered. Some pictures (through the windows?) would certainly be nice.

I think there is a chance for an ISRU experiment with an internal water supply combining with atmospheric CO2, but I presume that would be quite power-hungry and thus interfere negatively with other experiments (if it draws power from the Red Dragon's batteries). Something like a methane fuel cell running in reverse.
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Online Robotbeat

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No reason to rule out ground-contact experiments. Elon even wrote a quick tweet saying you could deploy a lander with Red Dragon (sounded very confident a bout it, as if significant analysis had been done), then deleted the tweet.

I will say battery operations is supported by Phil's statements about (just) a few days surface operations, but SpaceX seems to be both changing plans on an ongoing basis and not always updating NASA on what they're doing (right away), so longer operations can't be firmly ruled out either.
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Offline llanitedave

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No reason to rule out ground-contact experiments. Elon even wrote a quick tweet saying you could deploy a lander with Red Dragon (sounded very confident a bout it, as if significant analysis had been done), then deleted the tweet.

I will say battery operations is supported by Phil's statements about (just) a few days surface operations, but SpaceX seems to be both changing plans on an ongoing basis and not always updating NASA on what they're doing (right away), so longer operations can't be firmly ruled out either.

This first Red Dragon mission will not be the only Red Dragon mission.  There are plenty of payloads they can develop for subsequent missions once past this initial demonstrator phase.
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No reason to rule out ground-contact experiments. Elon even wrote a quick tweet saying you could deploy a lander with Red Dragon (sounded very confident a bout it, as if significant analysis had been done), then deleted the tweet.

I will say battery operations is supported by Phil's statements about (just) a few days surface operations, but SpaceX seems to be both changing plans on an ongoing basis and not always updating NASA on what they're doing (right away), so longer operations can't be firmly ruled out either.

This first Red Dragon mission will not be the only Red Dragon mission.  There are plenty of payloads they can develop for subsequent missions once past this initial demonstrator phase.
Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).
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Offline john smith 19

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Holy cow, someone is making an epically long speech right now under guise of a "question." (Mostly complaining about duplication and reinventing the wheel or something?)
Identified himself as "Larry Cousins" from Berkley but mentioned he and some others had proposed  some sort of mod to the EM-1 mission to make the re-entry more Mars like to test the heat shield.

He seemed to be unaware of the fact that the building built for Apollo was for Lunar samples coming from the Moon, and in that case the "planetary protection" was for keeping Earth free from (potential) Lunar microbes or viruses. I would presume the people he cited then went on to write (or at least draft) the standards for planetary protection that NASA and SX will be using.

I always find it fascinating how SLS, a project in the 10s of $Bn still keeps saying how under funded they are and they could do with a bit more, even just a few 10s of $m, from anyone else.
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Offline Khadgars

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If Red Dragon makes the 2018 launch window, as unlikely as that is, there is still a chance.  I wouldn't expect much more than some camera's and perhaps some modified instruments already on-board or plan to be on-board for readings on local weather.

In 2020 however, I think we should start to get really excited on what can be delivered.  This all pending successful landing, which isn't a given either.  I feel like all this talk about payloads is distracting from what a huge challenge the EDL is going to be, which is the primary objective in the first place.


Offline john smith 19

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I feel like all this talk about payloads is distracting from what a huge challenge the EDL is going to be, which is the primary objective in the first place.
True. The core is the supersonic retro propulsion attempt. It seems everyone of NASA's large scale Mars plans needs it, as does SX's.

I wonder how many people realize just how low Mars atmospheric pressure is. It's about 1/160 of Earths at the surface but at 80000 ft it's down to 0.08% of Earth SL, which is about 1/3 at the same height in Earth's atmosphere.

the next question of course is how much of that velocity can they cancel with thrust alone?

Thinking about it  I'm guessing they are leaving engine start to late in the entry and relying on a fairly conventional initial stage, with PICX taking most of the brunt.
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Offline rakaydos

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I feel like all this talk about payloads is distracting from what a huge challenge the EDL is going to be, which is the primary objective in the first place.
True. The core is the supersonic retro propulsion attempt. It seems everyone of NASA's large scale Mars plans needs it, as does SX's.

I wonder how many people realize just how low Mars atmospheric pressure is. It's about 1/160 of Earths at the surface but at 80000 ft it's down to 0.08% of Earth SL, which is about 1/3 at the same height in Earth's atmosphere.

the next question of course is how much of that velocity can they cancel with thrust alone?

Thinking about it  I'm guessing they are leaving engine start to late in the entry and relying on a fairly conventional initial stage, with PICX taking most of the brunt.
There was a paper linked in another thread suggesting that supersonic retropropolsion can actually add to balistic drag (in addition to anything the rockets do by being rockets) by being sloped high-pressure zones funneling the oncoming air onto the heat shield, compressing the air the capsule is actually going through. The Superdracos are set up for that sort of approach, though not as efficently as if they were equadistant around the Dragon II perimeter.

Offline Herb Schaltegger


Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).

Except the usable-supply-of-water-on-Mars part, that is. ;) This is still a non-trivial problem to solve. Of course, SpaceX might "cheat" and send a few liters of water to Mars along with a sub-scale Sabatier reactor to process some Martian CO2 (and not coincidentally suck all the battery life from the Red Dragon, and then some).
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Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).

Except the usable-supply-of-water-on-Mars part, that is. ;) This is still a non-trivial problem to solve. Of course, SpaceX might "cheat" and send a few liters of water to Mars along with a sub-scale Sabatier reactor to process some Martian CO2 (and not coincidentally suck all the battery life from the Red Dragon, and then some).

Frankly, carrying ordinary-old water in a jug might be the best way to bring the hydrogen to Mars to start up the Sabatier stuff without the burdens of LH2 storage.  Just electrolize the stuff after landing, with the O coming in handy for LOX and O2 for astronauts later.
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...

I wonder how many people realize just how low Mars atmospheric pressure is. It's about 1/160 of Earths at the surface but at 80000 ft it's down to 0.08% of Earth SL, which is about 1/3 at the same height in Earth's atmosphere....
It's still enormous (logarithmically/relatively speaking) compared to the vacuum of space.

Also, 160th /pressure/ at the datum, but at the lower landing sites being considered, it's more like 1/100th, and given that CO2 is denser at the same pressure than Earth's air and the fact that Mars is usually around 215K, it's actually closer to 1/50th the /density/ of Earth standard pressure. If you're calculating things like ballistic coefficient, it's actually density that matters most, not pressure.

But anyway, it doesn't completely negate your point, but that's about a factor of 3 better than you suggest.

By the way, on Earth, it's very rare for any land to be below sea level, but about half of Mars is below "datum," and some parts of Mars (Hellas Basin) actually have about twice the pressure as datum... so I don't really think it's fair to pick "datum" as analogous to "sea level"... I think early landing sites and early habitation will be more like -5km, which has almost 60% higher pressure/density than datum.
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Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).

Except the usable-supply-of-water-on-Mars part, that is. ;) This is still a non-trivial problem to solve. ...
Water is, in fact, ubiquitous on Mars. It exists over the whole planet in the atmosphere and in the regolith. In levels high enough that, with enough work, you can get usable amounts of it. And this is exactly the sort of thing you'd want to demo as soon as possible.

Just doing some electrolysis and sabatier on the surface would be nearly pointless. It's well enough understood and even used today on ISS. The point of a demo isn't just to say, "Hey look, here's a bar we're supposed to jump over, let's set it on the ground and jump over it. Look how great we are!" It's to get a first try at a tech to find out where the real problems lie. Testing something you're already certain will work is a very low-value test.

Again, I bet SpaceX is shooting for that sort of payload, but they might not make it in time. It might be a test that ends up not getting enough analysis done, or isn't finished at all by the time the flight window opens up, or the whole inaugural Red Dragon mission may get pushed back because Red Dragon, that Falcon Heavy, or just SpaceX generally aren't ready.

But I doubt SpaceX would shoot for a test that doesn't try to address the water issue. (Unless they put that greenhouse on Mars, or some other feel-good demo, on Mars.)
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Offline biosehnsucht

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By the way, on Earth, it's very rare for any land to be below sea level, but about half of Mars is below "datum," and some parts of Mars (Hellas Basin) actually have about twice the pressure as datum... so I don't really think it's fair to pick "datum" as analogous to "sea level"... I think early landing sites and early habitation will be more like -5km, which has almost 60% higher pressure/density than datum.

While it's probable they'll aim for below datum (there's several advantages), if you're really optimistic about terraforming you might not want to aim *too* far below datum ;) Just so long as your colony can move uphill faster than your terraforming you should be fine though, so in reality it probably won't matter.

Offline john smith 19

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Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).

Except the usable-supply-of-water-on-Mars part, that is. ;) This is still a non-trivial problem to solve. Of course, SpaceX might "cheat" and send a few liters of water to Mars along with a sub-scale Sabatier reactor to process some Martian CO2 (and not coincidentally suck all the battery life from the Red Dragon, and then some).
Yes and no.

This paper points out there is water in the Martian atmosphere

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/reports/CB-955/washington.pdf

in sufficient quantities to do a reference mission.

I find most of the approaches to be of the chemical engineering style with very active heating systems. I keep thinking that since heat energy is such a big part of any approach if you don't have a handy nuclear reactor you should be looking at some kind of focused solar system, ideally with natural atmosphere circulation (to eliminate the fan) and some kind of "gill" valves to eliminate mechanical actuators.

Just a thought.
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Offline Herb Schaltegger


Certainly. But that isn't a reason to rule out SpaceX trying to put on some payload on this initial mission. Water ISRU is a lynchpin of this whole architecture, is low TRL, and so trying it as soon as possible is likely a priority for SpaceX (after demonstrating EDL, of course).

Except the usable-supply-of-water-on-Mars part, that is. ;) This is still a non-trivial problem to solve. ...
Water is, in fact, ubiquitous on Mars. It exists over the whole planet in the atmosphere and in the regolith. In levels high enough that, with enough work, you can get usable amounts of it. And this is exactly the sort of thing you'd want to demo as soon as possible.


Do the math on the power consumption on the Sabatier and associated hardware (collecting CO2, collecting usable quantities of pure-enough water, electrolysis, storage of O2 and H2 ... ) and then tell me on how it fit into a power-constrained Red Dragon mission at all.
« Last Edit: 09/25/2016 05:15 PM by Chris Bergin »
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Offline john smith 19

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Anytime I see a process that involves a phase change I think "Oh gosh" (or something similar). Heat capacities are in Joules/Kg for 1K temperature rises but with water it's Mj/Kg for no change of temperature. Unless you can get that back through some clever kind of clever "process intensification" design you're going to need a lot of power.

But I think the joker in the pack is that the water being harvested is not pure neutral pH tap water it'll have (depending on source) various assorted chemical species in it that can over time clog filters and corrode hardware. Ever seen a kettle's insides in a "hard" water area? Or what it does to the heater in a washing machine?

Building this kit is easy if you can assume a) Large power source b)Servicing person/robot who can change parts.

Once both are off the table life gets much tougher.   :(

Hence my interest in some kind of natural circulation, non conventional valve "solar flower" concept.
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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As to retropropulsion, the issue is an energy management program that handles turbulent hypersonic drag down to transonic low altitude transition. Part of this involves lift/drag/props trade-offs to hold the RD in "sweet spots" in the descent for max drag. The desire is to achieve precision landing and economic props utilization together.

As to EI - there are tons more ions than in Earths atmosphere at the same density, because ions penetrate deeper due to the weak magnetosphere (omitting peculiarities involving crustal fields). This can be used in interesting ways.

As to water for ISRU, the problem is in an effective means to supply water to a processing system, both in terms of payload mass, field of action (volume/surface/depth/precipitation),  and energy to support. Solve these in an acceptable scale to metric tons and you've got a beginning.

At this point in time, if you have a successful RD landing in an desirable area for a follow on landing, and you even make an ounce of GOX, that would be a triumph. Which could be built upon with the next RD capturing a picture of the other RD across from it, making a liter on the next opposition.

Offline MP99

There will be residual hypergolic propellants from the SuperDracos after landing.

Anyone who's seen The Martian knows (j/k) how easy it is to get water from these. But, more realistically, water is one of the combustion products of MMH + NTO, and produces waste heat if that's useful elsewhere in the test procedure.

Downside - water will likely be contaminated by nastier nitrogen based products of partial combustion.

Cheers, Martin

Offline guckyfan

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Anything that does not derive water the same way a later full scale architecture would, is not worth any complexity. If they really want to do anything that involves water they can bring a liter or two from earth.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Anything that does not derive water the same way a later full scale architecture would, is not worth any complexity. If they really want to do anything that involves water they can bring a liter or two from earth.

Yes. I said as much just a dozen posts back.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41231.msg1587869#msg1587869
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Offline guckyfan

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Anything that does not derive water the same way a later full scale architecture would, is not worth any complexity. If they really want to do anything that involves water they can bring a liter or two from earth.

Yes. I said as much just a dozen posts back.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41231.msg1587869#msg1587869

I read your post and to me it does not to seem like it says the same. Maybe I misinterpret it. I put the emphasis on it not being the same as producing the water locally. Especially using similar methods as for mass production later. Producing water from hypergolic propellant was, what I replied to. And that falls under the same argument. It is some kind of local water production but not at all similar to digging it out of the ground. Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later.

Or short and most clearly. Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

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Producing water from the air is similar to later methods (getting it from regolith or dirty ice) & is simple enough to put on an early mission.

Heck, a small scoop that gets some regolith and extracts some water from it also would be even more similar. Not too different than some of the instruments on Viking or MSL, but simpler.
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Offline Herb Schaltegger

Producing water from the air is similar to later methods (getting it from regolith or dirty ice) & is simple enough to put on an early mission.

Heck, a small scoop that gets some regolith and extracts some water from it also would be even more similar. Not too different than some of the instruments on Viking or MSL, but simpler.
Which again isn't at all useful for anything more than a stunt, since you'll obtain minute quantities of water from whatever a small scoop can gather (assuming SpaceX would even try to engineer such a thing for a Red Dragon demo mission). From that minute few droplets of water, you'll get ... how much methane exactly? Silly waste of resources to devote that much power, mass, and software development for such a useless activity.
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Offline Phil Stooke

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Not a stunt, a demonstration, a proof of concept. Make it work, measure results, feed back into planning for the next time. 

What would you prefer in its place?  It's not useful to just say no to something, say what you would prefer to be done.

Offline Khadgars

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Not a stunt, a demonstration, a proof of concept. Make it work, measure results, feed back into planning for the next time. 

What would you prefer in its place?  It's not useful to just say no to something, say what you would prefer to be done.

Is there a real need for a payload on the 1st flight anyway?  Mars EDL is the primary objective, a huge accomplishment if successful.  It may be worth it to forgo the payload to save mass for EDL.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Not a stunt, a demonstration, a proof of concept. Make it work, measure results, feed back into planning for the next time. 

We can do that on Earth in a lab or an environment chamber filled with CO2 and a floor covered in iron-rich soil, perchlorate salts and a tiny bit of water. In fact, it HAS been done that way.

Quote
What would you prefer in its place?

The mass/power/data required for an ISRU stunt to be devoted to longer surface life, more/higher fidelity data recording from the powered EDL phases of flight, longer surface life, or basically anything else.

Quote
It's not useful to just say no to something ...

When one has engineering experience and knowledge relevant to the discussion and knows the relatively tiny payoff for a stunt compared to how much effort and spacecraft resources necessary to carry it out, it certainly *IS* useful.
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Online Robotbeat

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Producing water from the air is similar to later methods (getting it from regolith or dirty ice) & is simple enough to put on an early mission.

Heck, a small scoop that gets some regolith and extracts some water from it also would be even more similar. Not too different than some of the instruments on Viking or MSL, but simpler.
Which again isn't at all useful for anything more than a stunt, since you'll obtain minute quantities of water from whatever a small scoop can gather (assuming SpaceX would even try to engineer such a thing for a Red Dragon demo mission). From that minute few droplets of water, you'll get ... how much methane exactly? Silly waste of resources to devote that much power, mass, and software development for such a useless activity.
Huh? So by the same measure, you think MOXIE is just a stunt?

Exactly the same argument could be made. But it's a stupid argument, because demonstrating something at the small scale is what you do to mature a technology, increase its TRL, and develop it to the point that you CAN develop a large capability.

Let's put our thinking caps on.

Not a stunt, a demonstration, a proof of concept. Make it work, measure results, feed back into planning for the next time. 

What would you prefer in its place?  It's not useful to just say no to something, say what you would prefer to be done.

Is there a real need for a payload on the 1st flight anyway?  Mars EDL is the primary objective, a huge accomplishment if successful.  It may be worth it to forgo the payload to save mass for EDL.
Red Dragon is very big, so it certainly has mass for a small payload. The real question is if they can get it all done in time, and that could very easily be "no, we have to wait for the next window."

Please look at this:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Oxygen_ISRU_Experiment
« Last Edit: 09/25/2016 07:33 PM by Chris Bergin »
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Offline mfck

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TL/DR: the payload for this flight should, imo, be a payload management and deployment system


It has been said* that RD will not have a docking adapter in the top hatch and that the conical fairing is jettisoned before TMI. While the former makes perfect sense mass- and cost-wise, I wonder if the latter will be done for mass efficiency or because there are some flight instruments planned under that fairing.

Thinking about it further, in the light of the current payload discussion and assuming that RD is not a one-off stunt, but rather a step in developing a  planetary lander platform, a service, I'd hazard a guess that the payload on this flight will be a payload rack system, that can stow, manage and deploy various payload modules; something akin to what NanoRacks are doing, but Dragon specific. Such system would have internal and external parts and must be developed and tested early. It has plenty of aspects to test in-flight, and through EDL:

- in-flight payload management, such as  power, termal, data services
- in-flight payload deployment, such as cubesats, impacters (though it'd make sense to put those in the trunk, i guess)
- during EDL this could deploy an EDL specific sensor suite, augmenting the RD flight systems and, possibly the comms.
- assuming successful landing planetary payload management and deployment could be tested.

 They could put other payloads as guinea pigs for this ride or could just put dummy devices to allow the full systems test.

If they proved such system working in the 2018 synod, there might be more than 2 SX RDs in the next one.

I don't think there will be any SX developed ISRU plant prototype on the 2018 flight. You'd want higher chances of planetside delivery for such a payload, methinks

------

* I have no idea if this is actually so


Edited for clarity
« Last Edit: 09/25/2016 10:00 PM by mfck »

Offline CuddlyRocket

Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.

Offline guckyfan

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Water has other uses than ISRU.

Not sure what you mean. Everything using local water from any source is ISRU. You are not thinking of bringing water from earth, correct?

But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.

I understand there is a need for redundancy. Still there is only one reasonable source for tens of thousands of tons of water for the main settlement. That's glacial water. For redundancy different systems for extracting it can be used.

You have a point for satellite habitats. Quite possible that those might use alternative sources for water.

Offline john smith 19

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TL/DR: the payload for this flight should, imo, be a payload management and deployment system
I like this idea. As a system it's likely to be quite mechanically complex and because of what it does need a lot of exposure to the (hostile) Martian environment.

This suggest it won't be right first time and need a few iterations, so best to get the first version on Mars ASAP, yet not a disaster if the landing fails. IOW an excellent candidate for a first mission.

Which again isn't at all useful for anything more than a stunt, since you'll obtain minute quantities of water from whatever a small scoop can gather (assuming SpaceX would even try to engineer such a thing for a Red Dragon demo mission). From that minute few droplets of water, you'll get ... how much methane exactly? Silly waste of resources to devote that much power, mass, and software development for such a useless activity.
Logically the amounts would be tiny but it would validate the design and raise the TRL level of various critical components. It would also anchor the (no doubt numerous) simulations of efficiency with actual results. Lastly it might suggest areas where more sensors are needed track specific problems with the plant.

You might be surprised how much knowledge can be extracted from a small sample. The British worked out their Plutonium extraction process from less than 40 micrograms of the actual element.

You can argue that an ISRU test is a poor use of whatever resources the RD will have, in which case you have 2 problems.

SX have stated that Martian settlement using ISRU is a major long term goal of theirs. What would you suggest that would make as big a contribution to their long term goal as early field trials of their ISRU system?

This is an SX mission. NASA  are helping, but SX ultimately decides what they take along as payload. I would expect them to prioritize SX payloads, subject to them being ready. What does NASA have that can be got flight ready for 2018?

I agree ISRU is likely to be power hungry and it's unlikely RD will deploy any kind of PV array. I'd love to see some radiation sensors inside the cabin to see what levels look like inside the "protection" of the pressure vessel. I'd really like to find some way to send some experiments along to test muscle and bone deterioration without  sending actual live specimens during the flight and landing, but I think that will be very difficult and unless someone's already working on such a plan it won't be ready in time.
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Online Robotbeat

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Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.
First of all, I'd challenge the claim that air reclamation of water can't yield enough water. It certainly can! But the same technique could be used for extracting water from ice or regolith, it's just that you would heat the regolith/ice first in a sealed enclosure and your yield would be MUCH higher. But the techniques are basically the same. Or could be, depending on exactly what approach you take.
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Offline Herb Schaltegger

Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.
First of all, I'd challenge the claim that air reclamation of water can't yield enough water. It certainly can! But the same technique could be used for extracting water from ice or regolith, it's just that you would heat the regolith/ice first in a sealed enclosure and your yield would be MUCH higher. But the techniques are basically the same. Or could be, depending on exactly what approach you take.

And again ... how do you integrate this stuff into a Red Dragon mission and how do you justify the proportionally gigantic share of the power, mass and data budget to justify it? That's the question no one has an answer for. Continuing to avoid it doesn't make it go away.

But I admit I am getting quite bored; it's like everyone loses their minds when Mars is mentioned. "Maaaaaarrss! Yaaaaaay!"
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Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Not a stunt, a demonstration, a proof of concept. Make it work, measure results, feed back into planning for the next time. 

We can do that on Earth in a lab or an environment chamber filled with CO2 and a floor covered in iron-rich soil, perchlorate salts and a tiny bit of water. In fact, it HAS been done that way.

Has to be done that way. Part of building a package is to do your best at simulating the operating environment.

And I'll be the first to say that much/many science payloads aren't as well thought out as they should have been prior to launch. Certain current missions I could call out in detail.

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What would you prefer in its place?

The mass/power/data required for an ISRU stunt to be devoted to longer surface life, more/higher fidelity data recording from the powered EDL phases of flight, longer surface life, or basically anything else.


That's going too far. And I'm certain that high fidelity vehicle performance data is already a given - SX's recent anomaly/LOM have underscored that need.

But I do agree that having a robot play with a chemistry set inside a capsule on Mars is more than a bit of a joke.

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It's not useful to just say no to something ...

When one has engineering experience and knowledge relevant to the discussion and knows the relatively tiny payoff for a stunt compared to how much effort and spacecraft resources necessary to carry it out, it certainly *IS* useful.

Is it a stunt to acquire samples in a mining flow (arm, bucket loader/trencher, coring drill with slurry pump, ...), and assay yields and impurities? Even if the scale of the operation is centimeters not meters?

Is it a stunt to precipitate atmospheric components to get mass yields for lightbulb wattage "production plant", where you can possibly validate reaction/force product with an actual static test thruster? And quite possibly redo the experiment a few hundred times, being able to visually inspect the throat for combustion products/erosion?

At which point do we move from "stunt" to "engineering test article"?

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Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.
First of all, I'd challenge the claim that air reclamation of water can't yield enough water. It certainly can! But the same technique could be used for extracting water from ice or regolith, it's just that you would heat the regolith/ice first in a sealed enclosure and your yield would be MUCH higher. But the techniques are basically the same. Or could be, depending on exactly what approach you take.

And again ... how do you integrate this stuff into a Red Dragon mission and how do you justify the proportionally gigantic share of the power, mass and data budget to justify it? That's the question no one has an answer for. Continuing to avoid it doesn't make it go away.....
How does MOXIE answer those SAME EXACT QUESTIONS?

THAT is the thing that /you/ keep avoiding. NASA is basically doing the same thing on the 2020 rover, except CO2-based instead of water-based.

So if doing a subscale ISRU demo is so dumb for SpaceX (whose architecture depends so deeply on ISRU), why is NASA doing MOXIE??

Until you answer that question, I see no reason to try to answer your kind of silly questions (silly because the answers are obvious...).
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 Herb Schaltegger

Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.
First of all, I'd challenge the claim that air reclamation of water can't yield enough water. It certainly can! But the same technique could be used for extracting water from ice or regolith, it's just that you would heat the regolith/ice first in a sealed enclosure and your yield would be MUCH higher. But the techniques are basically the same. Or could be, depending on exactly what approach you take.

And again ... how do you integrate this stuff into a Red Dragon mission and how do you justify the proportionally gigantic share of the power, mass and data budget to justify it? That's the question no one has an answer for. Continuing to avoid it doesn't make it go away.....
How does MOXIE answer those SAME EXACT QUESTIONS?

THAT is the thing that /you/ keep avoiding. NASA is basically doing the same thing on the 2020 rover, except CO2-based instead of water-based.

So if doing a subscale ISRU demo is so dumb for SpaceX (whose architecture depends so deeply on ISRU), why is NASA doing MOXIE??

Until you answer that question, I see no reason to try to answer your kind of silly questions (silly because the answers are obvious...).

We're not talking about MOXIE. This is what is known as a "strawman argument." You can do better than this, Chris. The topic at hand is Red Dragon. Until you grasp that, I'm out.
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Maybe taking a bit of time away is a good idea, you guys. BETEO, please.
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Even extracting the water from the atmosphere is not helpful in that respect as it cannot yield the amounts of water for fuel ISRU and supplying a base later. ... Only producing the water in the same way that will be needed for ISRU later is going to give really useful data. Everything else is more PR.

Water has other uses than ISRU. Granted, any process to produce water in the quantities needed for ISRU will likely also produce the water for other purposes. But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process, and there may be a need to produce water in small quantities using compact equipment; perhaps in satellite habitats or on long-range rovers?

In general, I'm suspicious of the idea that there is one 'best' way to do anything. Especially in a new environment, diversity is a strength and safeguard.
First of all, I'd challenge the claim that air reclamation of water can't yield enough water. It certainly can! But the same technique could be used for extracting water from ice or regolith, it's just that you would heat the regolith/ice first in a sealed enclosure and your yield would be MUCH higher. But the techniques are basically the same. Or could be, depending on exactly what approach you take.

And again ... how do you integrate this stuff into a Red Dragon mission and how do you justify the proportionally gigantic share of the power, mass and data budget to justify it? That's the question no one has an answer for. Continuing to avoid it doesn't make it go away.....
How does MOXIE answer those SAME EXACT QUESTIONS?

THAT is the thing that /you/ keep avoiding. NASA is basically doing the same thing on the 2020 rover, except CO2-based instead of water-based.

So if doing a subscale ISRU demo is so dumb for SpaceX (whose architecture depends so deeply on ISRU), why is NASA doing MOXIE??

Until you answer that question, I see no reason to try to answer your kind of silly questions (silly because the answers are obvious...).

We're not talking about MOXIE. This is what is known as a "strawman argument." You can do better than this, Chris. The topic at hand is Red Dragon. Until you grasp that, I'm out.
We're talking about MOXIE because the same reasons apply.

Why bother with the power, mass, etc, of MOXIE when it's just a 1% subscale demo?

Because the technology is critical to surface crewed missions on Mars, and the technology must first be matured and shown that it works in the real environment. Just like MOXIE, they can't just say it'll work in the lab, because it's too critical of a technology to just hope it works for the first time at full scale. And a subscale demo is the fastest way to mature the technology.

The same exact logic applies to SpaceX doing an ISRU demo. But whereas NASA has only baselined oxygen ISRU for initial missions, SpaceX has baselined both methane and oxygen ISRU, which means they need to extract water (and Musk has explicitly said they need to mine water robotically on the surface before any crewed missions). SpaceX's timeline is even more compressed than NASA's, so it's critical they demonstrate it in some form as soon as possible. Maybe they'll make it in 2018 (I wouldn't count on it, but hey), maybe they'll do it in 2020.

Does that answer your questions in a satisfactory manner?
« Last Edit: 09/26/2016 01:22 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline CuddlyRocket


Water has other uses than ISRU.

Not sure what you mean. Everything using local water from any source is ISRU. You are not thinking of bringing water from earth, correct?

Sorry, I'm so used to thinking of ISRU in terms of propellant manufacture, I forgot it's not restricted to that! And no, I'm not thinking of water from Earth.

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But, I'd want a back-up water supply using an entirely separate process...

I understand there is a need for redundancy. Still there is only one reasonable source for tens of thousands of tons of water for the main settlement. That's glacial water. For redundancy different systems for extracting it can be used.

More than redundancy; which can just mean two or more of the same system. I mean an entirely separate system. Two different systems for extracting glacial water (though useful in themselves) don't help if something unexpected makes it unusable. But it doesn't have to have the same capacity.; just keep people alive and healthy until things can be sorted out.

Offline john smith 19

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Is it a stunt to acquire samples in a mining flow (arm, bucket loader/trencher, coring drill with slurry pump, ...), and assay yields and impurities? Even if the scale of the operation is centimeters not meters?

Is it a stunt to precipitate atmospheric components to get mass yields for lightbulb wattage "production plant", where you can possibly validate reaction/force product with an actual static test thruster? And quite possibly redo the experiment a few hundred times, being able to visually inspect the throat for combustion products/erosion?

At which point do we move from "stunt" to "engineering test article"?
Indeed.

In theory we know how to make an ISRU unit work but test on Earth already showed problems with the prototype hardware. The nearest analogy in terms of mechanical complexity to this is (I think) the ECLSS stuff on the ISS. The gross chemistry and physics is well understood. But then you throwin all those  "trace" air pollutants (some of which humans seem very sensitive to). Then you throw in the dust clogging caused by some of the filter pellets being pulverized over time and so on.

Validating what SX thinks will happen against what does happen is pretty important.

I think this will be complementary  to MOXIE

BTW this telecon may have been the first open announcement of this project but it's been running for about a year with NASA on board (and probably somewhat longer inside SX) so I would not rule out ISRU hardware already under construction.
« Last Edit: 09/26/2016 04:16 PM by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

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