Author Topic: SpaceX Dragon XL  (Read 222690 times)

Offline Orbiter

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SpaceX Dragon XL
« on: 03/27/2020 05:31 pm »
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-awards-artemis-contract-for-gateway-logistics-services

"NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, as the first U.S. commercial provider under the Gateway Logistics Services contract to deliver cargo, experiments and other supplies to the agency’s Gateway in lunar orbit. The award is a significant step forward for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and build a sustainable human lunar presence."



edit/gongora:  link to Gateway Logistics RFP thread: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=48353.0
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 07:38 pm by gongora »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #1 on: 03/27/2020 05:40 pm »
OK, this is truly news to me - there is a Dragon XL! What do we know about it?

From the NASA image it looks like a completely new design, though I'm sure it uses space tested components from Dragon. It is not a capsule, and the engine section looks like nothing SpaceX currently has.

Hard to tell from the image, but it could be the SpaceX version of the (now) NGIS Cygnus, which has a Service Module (SM) that is attached to a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM).
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Offline mainmind

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #2 on: 03/27/2020 05:40 pm »
Looking forward to hearing more about the specs of the Dragon XL but from the renders and lack of mention in the press release, it appears to be an out-bound only spacecraft with no down-mass capability. The press release only mentions delivery of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the Lunar Gateway. The renderings clearly don't show the same gumdrop shape of the Dragon Cargo or Dragon Crew capsules.

Can't wait for more information.

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #3 on: 03/27/2020 05:43 pm »
https://twitter.com/spacex/status/1243605680449130497

Quote
SpaceX will launch a variant of Dragon, optimized to carry more than 5 metric tons of cargo to Gateway in lunar orbit

Edit to add: hi-res image from NASA press release. No idea how accurate it is but it is credited to SpaceX
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 05:50 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline mainmind

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #4 on: 03/27/2020 05:43 pm »
OK, this is truly news to me - there is a Dragon XL! What do we know about it?

From the NASA image it looks like a completely new design, though I'm sure it uses space tested components from Dragon. It is not a capsule, and the engine section looks like nothing SpaceX currently has.

Hard to tell from the image, but it could be the SpaceX version of the (now) NGIS Cygnus, which has a Service Module (SM) that is attached to a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM).

My guess is Dragon Cargo derived trunk and solar arrays; RCS system with Dragon Cargo and Crew heritage; automated docking systems matching Dragon Crew; new pressurized volume to increase volume compared to Dragon capsules.

Offline GWH

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #5 on: 03/27/2020 05:44 pm »
Awesome new! So excited to finally be seeing some more Artemis awards, the delay on this one was substantial to say the least.

Now the next question, will this new version of Dragon have any relation to SpaceX HLS ascent vehicle?

On the NASA press release is this VERY interesting caption:
Quote
Illustration of the SpaceX Dragon XL as it is deployed from the Falcon Heavy's second stage in high Earth orbit on its way to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The implication here is that the cargo vessel will pack some pretty substantial delta-V, exactly what would be needed if it was to be used in one of the HLS components.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 05:49 pm by GWH »

Offline DigitalMan

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #6 on: 03/27/2020 05:44 pm »
I didn't see any indication of return cargo capability. It makes sense not to design in features that the customer does not want, but is that a capability that will be part of the crew vehicles rather than cargo?

And will these be expendable spacecraft?

edit: I see a bunch of you beat me to the punch because my wife called with a long conversation before I could hit send.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 05:46 pm by DigitalMan »

Offline Hick2

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #7 on: 03/27/2020 05:45 pm »
It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

Offline Orbiter

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #8 on: 03/27/2020 05:47 pm »
I wonder if we'll see a crew variant to this vehicle. I can't imagine Gateway being very sustainable if the only vehicle sending astronauts to-and-from Gateway was Orion.
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Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #9 on: 03/27/2020 05:53 pm »
It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

This came out of nowhere only to those who don't talk to SpaceX sources. I've known about this thing for 4 months but was explicitly told "to sit on the information".  And when a source tells me to do so as sternly as he did than I comply.

As to your other question: commonality with Crew Dragon and BOTH cargo Dragon versions for lots of systems and subsystems.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 05:56 pm by woods170 »

Offline aero

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #10 on: 03/27/2020 05:56 pm »
Can the Falcon Heavy boost an expendable stage and 5 tonnes of cargo to the gateway? ie. What will the launch vehicle be?
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Offline DigitalMan

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #11 on: 03/27/2020 05:57 pm »
It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

This came out of nowhere only to those who don't talk to SpaceX sources. I've known about this thing for 4 months but was explicitly told "to sit on the information".  And when a source tells me to do so as sternly as he did than I comply.

As to your other question: commonality with both Crew Dragon and Dragon 2 cargo version for lots of systems and subsystems.

Woods, this is expendable, yes?  Is there any talk of bringing resources such as this to the lunar surface at end-of-life either under its own power or via a tug?

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #12 on: 03/27/2020 05:59 pm »
It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

This came out of nowhere only to those who don't talk to SpaceX sources. I've known about this thing for 4 months but was explicitly told "to sit on the information".  And when a source tells me to do so as sternly as he did than I comply.

As to your other question: commonality with both Crew Dragon and Dragon 2 cargo version for lots of systems and subsystems.

Woods, this is expendable, yes?  Is there any talk of bringing resources such as this to the lunar surface at end-of-life either under its own power or via a tug?

Reusable? Yes! Seems to me to be a reusable space tug, finally! Needs to be refuelable.

Offline woods170

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #13 on: 03/27/2020 06:00 pm »
It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

This came out of nowhere only to those who don't talk to SpaceX sources. I've known about this thing for 4 months but was explicitly told "to sit on the information".  And when a source tells me to do so as sternly as he did than I comply.

As to your other question: commonality with both Crew Dragon and Dragon 2 cargo version for lots of systems and subsystems.

Woods, this is expendable, yes?  Is there any talk of bringing resources such as this to the lunar surface at end-of-life either under its own power or via a tug?

Yes. Fully expendable. Both pressurized AND unpressurized cargo TO Gateway. Disposal of waste FROM Gateway. No heatshield. No soft-landing capability.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 06:02 pm by woods170 »

Offline snotis

Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #14 on: 03/27/2020 06:01 pm »
Can the Falcon Heavy boost an expendable stage and 5 tonnes of cargo to the gateway? ie. What will the launch vehicle be?

The caption on the picture from the NASA blog post:

Quote
Illustration of the SpaceX Dragon XL as it is deployed from the Falcon Heavy's second stage in high Earth orbit on its way to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

So the launch vehicle is Falcon Heavy.

Online kevinof

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #15 on: 03/27/2020 06:05 pm »
Ok . So maximize the volume and remove all the stuff you don't need (like shield, SD's etc).

aka keeping it as "cheap as chips".

It looks like the docking interface is facing against the direction of travel during launch and shares the same "nose" mounted thrusters that hide under the Dragon 2 nosecone arrayed around the docking adapter.

This came out of nowhere.  I'm very curious as to how common the systems are with Dragon 2.

I wonder if their internal work for long life deep space systems for Starship helped them with this proposal?

This came out of nowhere only to those who don't talk to SpaceX sources. I've known about this thing for 4 months but was explicitly told "to sit on the information".  And when a source tells me to do so as sternly as he did than I comply.

As to your other question: commonality with both Crew Dragon and Dragon 2 cargo version for lots of systems and subsystems.

Woods, this is expendable, yes?  Is there any talk of bringing resources such as this to the lunar surface at end-of-life either under its own power or via a tug?

Yes. Fully expendable. Both pressurized AND unpressurized cargo TO Gateway. Disposal of waste FROM Gateway. No heatshield. No soft-landing capability.

Offline Fizrock

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #16 on: 03/27/2020 06:18 pm »
2 things I noticed: 
 
1. The solar panels are identical to those used on Dragon 1. They are probably the same ones. 
2. The size and shape of the forward (I assume) pressurized section looks suspiciously like it could be a Falcon second stage liquid oxygen or RP-1 tank. Going with a wet-workshop style build would be an interesting way to save on costs.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #17 on: 03/27/2020 06:18 pm »
Existing Dragon subsystems, less complicated without a heat shield and recovery system and a reuseable booster.

This should be a very affordable way to send 5 tons to the gateway.

Very cool, very exciting.

Edit: I love that doing the upfront development of FH has attracted work.  Shows some elasticity in the market.
« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 07:12 pm by wannamoonbase »
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Offline abaddon

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Re: SpaceX Dragon XL
« Reply #18 on: 03/27/2020 06:24 pm »
This is the first big new thing (e.g. not something like fairing recovery) from SpaceX we've heard in a while, at least since the Starship announcement, that I can think of.  Exciting!

For those who continue to claim F9 & Dragon are "dead ends" and SpaceX is trying to get rid of them in favor of Starship - this is a pretty compelling counter argument.  (Yes, long term.  Not so much short term).

I've often wondered what a SpaceX version of Cygnus would look like.  Now we know!

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« Last Edit: 03/27/2020 06:25 pm by Chris Bergin »
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