Author Topic: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014  (Read 156325 times)

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #160 on: 10/26/2014 03:29 am »
$5000/kg, not per ton. Missed a few orders of magnitude. :)

But yeah, I buy your point.

You read it before I edited it :)
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline CyclerPilot

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #161 on: 10/26/2014 03:36 am »
The colony will be funded at first solely by investments by governments, companies, and individuals.  The exports at first will be IP: research, video, written accounts, creative works.  There will not be a monetary return on this investment (with the exception of selling goods and services to other "investors"/colonists.)  The other return is the humanity planetary insurance policy.

As far as physical exports...  Sample returns will be dominant for decades, longer if life is found.  I can't see the limited return mass being economical for much else for a while.  Trinket Mars rocks maybe?

I could see water or propellant being a possible export but only if the MCT is returning to orbit.  This would be marginal and would just save spacex a few launches.

The problem is, if launch costs are cheap enough to build a Mars colony, then the Mars colony probably can't compete in launching goods or equipment to LEO or anywhere else in the solar system.  Earth surface?  Forget about it, much more valuable on Mars.

Regarding the return trip, I don't think it would be truly free.  Why would the martians just give away all that propellant, water, food, and oxygen?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #162 on: 10/26/2014 03:40 am »
...
Regarding the return trip, I don't think it would be truly free.  Why would the martians just give away all that propellant, water, food, and oxygen?
Because otherwise they'd have to live with someone who really doesn't want to be on Mars. Buzz kill. :)
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline GalacticIntruder

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #163 on: 10/26/2014 03:48 am »
For the record, the most expensive Earth materials are:

1. Anti-matter, $62T/g.
2. Cf-252, $27M/g. (extremely rare, no current use, but maybe if it's available)
3. Diamonds, $55K/g.
4.Tritium, $30K/g.
5. Taaffeite, $20K/g (rare, no use except gem dealers)
6. Painite, $9K/g (rare, no use except gem dealers)
7. Pu, $4K/g
8. LSD, $3K/g
9. Cocaine, $150.00/g
 
Based on research, not personal experience. 
« Last Edit: 10/26/2014 04:54 am by GalacticIntruder »
"And now the Sun will fade, All we are is all we made." Breaking Benjamin

Offline AJW

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #164 on: 10/26/2014 04:05 am »
There can be a significant difference between actual value and perceived value.  For example, a wealthy individual may be willing to pay exorbinantly for a necklace made from Martian Blueberries (hematite) as a way to flaunt their wealth.  Those 'sample returns' may start with scientific testing, but some will end up in private hands.  Look up the value of Moon rocks, valued at $50,800 per gram by a federal court.  These ships will NOT be coming back empty.  (It must be true, cause I used all caps).
We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #165 on: 10/26/2014 04:11 am »
These ships will NOT be coming back empty.  (It must be true, cause I used all caps).

Let me go further.. by the time SpaceX are actually ready to build a "Colonial Transport" they'll discover that most of the "free" space is on the way to Mars, not on the way back. That $500k/colonist will be nothing but a fond memory.. they won't be able to GIVE the seats away fast enough.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #166 on: 10/26/2014 04:14 am »
For the record, the most expensive Earth materials are:

1. Anti-matter, $62T/g.
2. Cf-252, $27M/g. (extremely rare, no current use, but maybe if it's available)
3. Diamonds, $55K/g.
4.Tritium,, 30K/g.
5. Taaffeite $20K/g (rare, no use except gem dealers)
6. Painite – $9K/g (rare, no use except gem dealers)
7. Pu, 4K/g
8. LSD, $3K/g.
9. Cocaine, $150.00/g
 
Based on research, not personal experience.
In these sorts of discussions, it's very helpful to also put down the total market for each item. For example, Painite's market probably would be swamped and the price drop dramatically if you tried to sell just one ton... You may end up with only a few million dollars!

Diamond, however, has quite a large market because marketing and because it actually has industrial uses. There's actually a ~$100 billion/year market right there (only 20-25% for industrial use).
« Last Edit: 10/26/2014 04:19 am by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline CyclerPilot

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #167 on: 10/26/2014 04:25 am »
So much new information we will be discussing for weeks.  But here was my favorite quote.  When he was asked about a spacex astronaut corps, Made me laugh.

Quote
what we should be transporting are scientists and engineers. Not pilots, really. Dragon doesn't need pilots. It obviously goes there now with just cargo. We just sent up 40 mice. They were not piloting the craft.

Offline sanman

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #168 on: 10/26/2014 04:49 am »
Oh, I know -- how about Helium-3? Oh, darn, that's the Moon and not Mars.  :-[

If any of these recently hyped magnetic confinement fusion efforts get off the ground, then maybe Helium-3 could become much more valuable for aneutronic purposes.

At that point we can have lunar Helium-3 strip-mining which lunar colonies can then trade back to Earth to produce environmentally clean energy. Heinlein would approve.

As a result, space-based living and resource extraction technology would become so ubiquitous that colonizing Mars would be a cakewalk, and we'd expand there just to gain extra living space.



« Last Edit: 10/26/2014 04:53 am by sanman »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #169 on: 10/26/2014 05:09 am »
umm.. iPhones are worth like like $3.5M/ton profit. You don't need something exotic to see how physical trade with Mars isn't about the transport costs once you have these fantastic reusable rockets that Musk says are a prerequisite for colonization.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline sanman

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #170 on: 10/26/2014 05:30 am »
But by the time your iPhone model gets from Mars to Earth, it'd already be out of date and obsolete.  :P

Offline Dmitry_V_home

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #171 on: 10/26/2014 05:34 am »

The "Odyssey" is not going to able to handle a Falcon Heavy for the large GEO satcom flights. Also you need separate landing platforms. All the Sea Launch ships are near the end of their life cycles. The timing is not right, besides will the Russian government sell to SpaceX?

Barges are resistant to high waves?

Offline rklaehn

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #172 on: 10/26/2014 06:25 am »
Regarding the question if there are items on mars that are valuable enough for physical trade: I think we just don't know yet, and Elon doesn't either. I would suspect that the first flights will be filled with samples. And by the time the colony has a certain size, there will be something of sufficiently high value to export.

Regarding the crack cocaine answer: Elon just wants to avoid the impression that we are going to mars to strip mine it of its valuable resources because we have "used up" earth. Which is of course silly, but would probably be the main criticism of the mars colonisation effort by environmentalists.

From the last interview on aeon it seems that Elon is very much aware of the danger from radical environmentalists: Not everyone loves humanity. Either explicitly or implicitly, some people seem to think that humans are a blight on the Earth’s surface.. So he wants to bring the sane environmentalists on board by emphasising the "backup the biosphere" narrative.

The entire interview was very good. I think this was the first explicit mention of refuelling in LEO. He did not specifically mention depots in LEO. But I guess given the huge logistical advantages of depots, they will come around to that as well.

Offline MP99

Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #173 on: 10/26/2014 09:34 am »


.. and ya know, just started transcribing part 5 and I'm already contemplating self harm.

Quote from: Elon Musk
Well, I think any natural resource extraction on Mars would be - the output would be for Mars. It definitely wouldn't make sense to transport Mars stuff 200 million miles back to Earth. Honestly, if you had like crack-cocaine on Mars, in like prepackaged pallets, it still wouldn't make sense to transport it back here. It's be good times for the Martians, but not back here.

That completely contradicts what he said earlier about one-way trips:

Quote from: Elon Musk
I think it ends up being a moot point because you want to bring the spaceship back. These spaceships are expensive, okay, they're hard to build. You can't just leave them there. So whether or not people want to come back or not, is kind of - like, they can just jump on if they want, but we need the spaceship back.

If colonists can just jump on, why can't they pack the return vehicle with goods? If you were on Mars and you had the choice of sending the vehicle back empty, because no-one wanted to leave this week, or with goods that will let you buy stuff on Earth wouldn't you be packing the ship with everything you could find? The cost of transport is essentially zero because the ship was going back anyway. That's exactly the argument he just made for why one-way trips are a moot point, why is it suddenly invalid now that mining is the question?

Of course, everyone just laughs along.. no-one says anything.. because they're all so enthralled. Gag me with a spoon.

Meanwhile, the question asked was what resources would the colonists be digging up for their own use. Elon didn't answer the question, and the questioner's attempt to get him to answer the question asked was rebuffed. Now, where's that hammer, I need to hit myself with something.

Well, I don't think you can generate enough income *from the available return mass/volume* to fund the programme. If it's paying 5-10% of programme costs, then you'd take it but his point stands.

Say it costs $500m to go to Mars & back the first few times (amortise design/build of BFR/MCT/all equipment/etc/etc), and they can return 20t (or pick your own numbers). What can they pack in MCT that will earn more than $25k/kg when sold by the ton?

First trip back, Mars rocks and other items will have a high $/kg value.

It may be worth shipping back knackered equipment, again to be sold as historical artifacts. But I doubt those can be sold (in bulk) for more than they cost to produce on Earth in the first place, never mind also recovering the costs of transporting to Mars and back.

I would assume that the economics of operating Mars will be very tight, and any ton sent to Earth will require production of a substantial quantity of methalox. If the equipment to ISRU that has a limited lifetime, then a ton "wasted" sending back something with low value just hastens the time when another heavy and expensive ISRU unit has to be launched and landed.

Maybe when he gets to the mythical stage where a person can go to Mars for $0.5m (including the cost of the equipment to keep them alive for the rest of their life), that becomes easier, but by then the shere volume of return cargo coming back will put incredible pressure on the average $/kg value.

Dunno, maybe the specifics of that "crack" one-liner would actually close, but it doesn't really matter.

Cheers, Martin

Offline MP99

Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #174 on: 10/26/2014 10:12 am »


.. and ya know, just started transcribing part 5 and I'm already contemplating self harm.

Quote from: Elon Musk
Well, I think any natural resource extraction on Mars would be - the output would be for Mars. It definitely wouldn't make sense to transport Mars stuff 200 million miles back to Earth. Honestly, if you had like crack-cocaine on Mars, in like prepackaged pallets, it still wouldn't make sense to transport it back here. It's be good times for the Martians, but not back here.

That completely contradicts what he said earlier about one-way trips:

Quote from: Elon Musk
I think it ends up being a moot point because you want to bring the spaceship back. These spaceships are expensive, okay, they're hard to build. You can't just leave them there. So whether or not people want to come back or not, is kind of - like, they can just jump on if they want, but we need the spaceship back.

If colonists can just jump on, why can't they pack the return vehicle with goods?

Clearly he's thinking of a dedicated cargo run from Mars to Earth when answering the 2nd question, not using the return trip from a colonization run. The return trip from a colonization run is not really "free", it can happen only because the colonists have already paid for the flight from Earth to Mars, so it's fair for them to take the return trip without paying extra. But for anyone else they need to pay a price otherwise they would be ripping of the colonists taking the forward trip.

The question is how can this be reconciled with the $500k ticket price, since a colonist would probably need half a ton of mass budget, this gives a price per kg of $1k/kg for the trip from Earth to Mars, well below the street price for street prices for cocaine (or gold) listed by Robotbeat. So it looks to me if $500k ticket price is achievable, then there may be some market for cargo runs assuming mining cost on Mars is a lot lower than Earth.

I don't understand how the colonist can buy all the equipment they need (spacesuit(s), hab, tools, everything they need for the rest of their life that they can't make on Mars) for half-a-mil.

Costs of transport will have to be a fraction of that.

Cheers, Martin

Offline Silmfeanor

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #175 on: 10/26/2014 10:21 am »
Can we PLEASE NOT talk about the economics of Mars Colony export in this thread? Thanks.
Interpreting the words being said can be done in the relevant threads.

Offline Nilof

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #176 on: 10/26/2014 10:53 am »
I created a separate thread here to continue the discussion on goods exports from Mars.
« Last Edit: 10/26/2014 10:53 am by Nilof »
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Offline clongton

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #177 on: 10/26/2014 11:09 am »
WRT the tanker/depot question, back in the day of DIRECT we had designed the JUS to be capable of being one. The difference between a depot and a tanker is whether of not it is refillable on orbit. We started out using the JUS as a tanker. IOW spacecraft would dock, fill up and depart. Once the tanker's propellant load was expended it would deorbit for disposal in the Pacific ocean. We envisioned using lessons learned to convert future tankers into depots that could be refueled on orbit. We had specific plans for the tanker mode because that was easy. The conversion to depots however is actually hard so we only had concepts for that.

It would not surprise me to see Elon thinking on the same lines because we've (DIRECT Team) already been there - done that. It's a good plan.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
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Offline inventodoc

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #178 on: 10/26/2014 11:10 am »
People should be careful about inferences they are making. He never said that they expect a BFR flight in 5 years or some of those other things. He said 'possibly' and 'as soon as' and things like that. It seems like those statements get morphed into firm expectations that eventually lead to a let down. I see a lot of that on the forum and in this same thread.

I'm not surprised about second stage reusability for falcon because it seemed really hard to do and still have useful payload. I really liked that they think they can try for full reusability with BFR.

Offline Llian Rhydderch

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Re: Elon Musk-SpaceX Interview at MIT AeroAstro, Oct 2014
« Reply #179 on: 10/26/2014 11:26 am »
not necessarily. Just cooling it to near its freezing point would improve its density enough to be worth it. Remember, an increase in density means a reduction in tank size and thus tank mass.

Sure, but I thought a defining characteristic of a liquid phase is that it doesn't exhibit an appreciable change in volume/density with reduction in temperature.
How much improvement do you get from cooling LNG to just above freezing?
Almost 7% greater density for methane. Similar subcooling for oxygen can get up to 14% improvement in density.

Thanks, Robotbeat!  I wonder if any NSFers have one of those cool phase diagrams as functions of temperature and pressure for pure methane that they might share.  Actually, the one for LOX would be interesting too. 

I remember those diagrams for water/steam from a long-time-ago thermodynamics and stoichiometry course.
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

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