Author Topic: Proposed ITS Cargo Modules to Initiate a Chemical Industry on Mars  (Read 25356 times)

Offline speedevil

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The purpose of the unhinged lower panel is to allow the entire heatshield side of the spaceship to be produced as one piece. When we proposed this as an option in the paper, we didn't know that SpaceX would want to develop this capability. Apparently they do.

What are you basing this on?
Just the pictures of the hinged 'fairing' of the cargo vehicle?

Offline Valerij

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From my point of view, the concept of the proposed cargo module has two very serious problems. The first is that the production of fuel on Mars must be deployed as quickly as possible, since it is necessary to return the ITS to Earth for the next flight. To allocate a large number of ITS ships exclusively for the delivery of modules of the fuel complex will be difficult. The second problem is that to start working with such a large cargo module it is necessary to have heavy and bulky equipment on Mars. At the initial stage of development of Mars, the availability of such equipment there is unrealistic.
   
According to the attached scheme, to ensure the flights of twelve ITS it is necessary to have a complex of twenty-eight cargo modules. And twenty-four of them are used exclusively for the storage of products and intermediate materials. And this does not include the necessary energy source and infrastructure for the construction and maintenance of the complex.
   

   
It seems to me that most of the elements of the fuel complex are better mounted on the Earth, under the fairing 2-3 copies of the ITS, leaving a passage in the middle. In the central pass, load a nuclear reactor on a cart, a universal transport and construction rover and materials for assembling a fuel complex. For their unloading a small crane, located above the entrance hatch, is necessary. As technological capacities of a fuel complex to use fuel and oxidizer tanks of these ITS, their other capacities.
   
Produced fuel can be directly loaded into the ITS, standing on the launch pad. To this end, next to each of them will need to place a small heat exchanger and supply them with a coolant. As a result, it will be possible to create a fuel complex on Mars in just 2-3 flights of ITS, while ensuring further development of the colony by the energy of the reactor and a small construction and transport infrastructure.

Offline Lar

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I don't see this "build a chemical industry" proposal as being how the first ISRU fuel is produced, but rather how to ramp up an industry once your (single load?) ISRU plant is producing fuel and oxidizer. The diagram you show is at a relatively late stage, and there is useful propellant produced well before that many loads are required.

Your organization certainly makes sense as a possible configuration for the first load pilot plant, though. Whether it's exactly right would be a matter of working the trades and trying to engineer it, but it struck me as not that far off.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Valerij

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The diagram you show is at a relatively late stage, and there is useful propellant produced well before that many loads are required.
So I'm talking about this. It seems to me that it would be justifiable to sacrifice two or three ITS at the first stage to build a complex for the production of fuel at the first stage. And there is no point in bringing to Mars 24 huge storage tanks for fuel storage while expanding this complex. The complex for the production of fuel simultaneously produces raw materials, from which it is possible to make fiberglass and carbon plastics. Using this material it becomes possible to build a building such as a huge hangar for an airship. And in this hangar, it will be possible to build both fuel storage tanks and other large modules necessary for the construction and maintenance of the colony.
   
Large reservoirs with effective thermal insulation will be a mass product for the Martian industry. Therefore it is necessary to learn as soon as possible how to do them locally, from local materials, and not to bring them from Earth.
   

Offline DaveH62

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Wouldn’t it be ironic if Musk started an oil and gas industry on Mars, while trying to replace it on earth.

Great thread. You guys are doing great stuff.

Offline Lar

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The diagram you show is at a relatively late stage, and there is useful propellant produced well before that many loads are required.
So I'm talking about this. It seems to me that it would be justifiable to sacrifice two or three ITS at the first stage to build a complex for the production of fuel at the first stage. And there is no point in bringing to Mars 24 huge storage tanks for fuel storage while expanding this complex. The complex for the production of fuel simultaneously produces raw materials, from which it is possible to make fiberglass and carbon plastics. Using this material it becomes possible to build a building such as a huge hangar for an airship. And in this hangar, it will be possible to build both fuel storage tanks and other large modules necessary for the construction and maintenance of the colony.
   
Large reservoirs with effective thermal insulation will be a mass product for the Martian industry. Therefore it is necessary to learn as soon as possible how to do them locally, from local materials, and not to bring them from Earth.
   

I think the very first plant has to be a single load. That means power, any mining or drilling equipment, any preconditioning, reactors, and in process storage, as well as pumps, plumbing, etc. all have to fit in the cargo hold of a single BFS. The BFS itself can be the tankage, yes.

This proposal is for later. Even 2 or 3 loads is later than what you send first. IMHO.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline rakaydos

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The diagram you show is at a relatively late stage, and there is useful propellant produced well before that many loads are required.
So I'm talking about this. It seems to me that it would be justifiable to sacrifice two or three ITS at the first stage to build a complex for the production of fuel at the first stage. And there is no point in bringing to Mars 24 huge storage tanks for fuel storage while expanding this complex. The complex for the production of fuel simultaneously produces raw materials, from which it is possible to make fiberglass and carbon plastics. Using this material it becomes possible to build a building such as a huge hangar for an airship. And in this hangar, it will be possible to build both fuel storage tanks and other large modules necessary for the construction and maintenance of the colony.
   
Large reservoirs with effective thermal insulation will be a mass product for the Martian industry. Therefore it is necessary to learn as soon as possible how to do them locally, from local materials, and not to bring them from Earth.
   

I think the very first plant has to be a single load. That means power, any mining or drilling equipment, any preconditioning, reactors, and in process storage, as well as pumps, plumbing, etc. all have to fit in the cargo hold of a single BFS. The BFS itself can be the tankage, yes.

This proposal is for later. Even 2 or 3 loads is later than what you send first. IMHO.
If they think they can get decent landing accuracy, I could see having the mining/drilling bots, and piping in the second bfs, where they can unload and use it as extra tanks, but have all the fuelmaking equipment in the first ship.

Offline niwax

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Since a major part of your plan is "wasting" upper stages on storage modules, would it be possible to use some kind of balloon arrangement? Instead of 24 essentially empty storage tanks, fill a ship with 50t of high tensile strength balloons and inflate them with the necessary gasses on mars. Maximum pressure for space efficiency isn't exactly an issue when you have the entire planet for yourself. Also, you could probably cut down on final product tanks and use the rocket itself for some. It's unlikely, at least in the short term, that a rocket would land and immediately take off again. As for longer term storage solutions, plastic tanks can be produced locally and even buried to enable liquefied storage without worrying about heat from the sun.

EDIT: Quick back of the envelope calculation shows that a 10m radius sphere stores about 6t of oxygen per bar of pressure at 0°. A single layer of mylar that size weighs just 12.5kg. A typical plastic at 1g/cm² and 1mm thickness would weigh 1250kg.
« Last Edit: 02/20/2018 11:11 AM by niwax »

Offline biosehnsucht

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To add onto the idea of inflatable / pop up tanks : you could probably build some kind of folded frame that unfolds / extends along with the tank to provide a bit more stability than the tank itself would have. It might significantly increase mass for the tank, but the starting mass is pretty low so it's probably not a big deal.

The hard part would be the mechanism for deploying / placing these since you can't simply just inflate them where they sit...

Well maybe you could a few. BFS lands, jaw pops open, you've got about half the payload volume exposed, so you could expand some inflatable tanks from the sides in a couple of places ...

However I think that inflatable tanks without some kind of Bigelow style protective layers might be a bad idea since it would be pretty high risk to chance not having any micrometeorites puncture them. Though even just having a fold out roof above the inflated tank would probably work fine, chances of damage from sideways seem pretty low.

Offline niwax

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Once there are humans there able to build larger infrastructure, protection becomes fairly simple. Dig a hole big enough to drop the bottom half in, cover up the top half with a sheet of plastic, possibly even made in-situ. Should reduce stresses on the tank significantly too.

Spherical gas tanks on earth are often just placed in a cradle, that could be an option. Build a four-armed foldable cradle with the deflated tank in the middle and valves at the center. Drop it and unfold, the balloon the expands to fill out the cradle.

Offline john smith 19

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However I think that inflatable tanks without some kind of Bigelow style protective layers might be a bad idea since it would be pretty high risk to chance not having any micrometeorites puncture them. Though even just having a fold out roof above the inflated tank would probably work fine, chances of damage from sideways seem pretty low.
A data point.

IIRC a NASA survey found there were 395 new craters over 5m (resolution limit of orbiter) on Mars over the course of a year.

It's true that could be atypically high, and Mars low pressure means a rock to make a 5m hole would be much smaller than one coming through Earth's atmosphere,  but that's a significant number. The question then becomes "How many more were too small to show up on orbiter imagery?" Maybe looking at the "limb" of the atmosphere would show them as they hit the entry interface, but I'm not sure how many orbiters look in that direction.
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.

Offline speedevil

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IIRC a NASA survey found there were 395 new craters over 5m (resolution limit of orbiter) on Mars over the course of a year.

It's true that could be atypically high, and Mars low pressure means a rock to make a 5m hole would be much smaller than one coming through Earth's atmosphere,  but that's a significant number. The question then becomes "How many more were too small to show up on orbiter imagery?" Maybe looking at the "limb" of the atmosphere would show them as they hit the entry interface, but I'm not sure how many orbiters look in that direction.

To a first order, mars atmosphere is 1% as dense as earth.
It's 100kg/m^2 or so.
This means that asteroids smaller than about 100kg/m^2 or so don't hit the surface at speed, and are mostly or totally burned up or slowed to the point they are falling rocks.
For stuff with a density of 4kg/l, this is about 2.5cm.

This is sufficiently rare that it's not much of an issue, if you're considering punctures of balloon tanks. in the short term.

Offline john smith 19

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To a first order, mars atmosphere is 1% as dense as earth.
It's 100kg/m^2 or so.
This means that asteroids smaller than about 100kg/m^2 or so don't hit the surface at speed, and are mostly or totally burned up or slowed to the point they are falling rocks.
For stuff with a density of 4kg/l, this is about 2.5cm.

This is sufficiently rare that it's not much of an issue, if you're considering punctures of balloon tanks. in the short term.
If I'm following your logic correctly there is a lot of between 5m (what Mars orbiters can see) and 2.5cm.

IDK maybe there are natural processes that filter out rock sizes below 5m and bigger than 2.5cm from entering Mars atmosphere. I don't know what they are but I accept they might exist.

However if they don't that's quite a wide range between "What we can see" and "What can cause us damage."

This is relevant for mission planning as the worst case scenario is one of those tanks full of propellant gets hit and a years (or more) worth of production disappears into the Martian atmosphere.

The obvious answer is the same as for the surface radiation issues. Get inside a tunnel or cave or bury it ASAP.  However that complicates the loading on the structure.

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.

Offline Ionmars

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Just crawled out of my work cave and discovered people have recently posted interesting comments on this thread. Will attempt to respond to some of them.
After landing, Mars pioneers will require our continued support.

Offline Ionmars

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Has anyone considered or have there been orbital searches for crude oil on Mars?
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 If oil were discovered deep under the Mars surface, it would give Mars bases chemical industry a real shot in the arm! Not to mention being a source of methane.
The time period when Earth-like conditions probably existed on Mars was several billions of years ago and is posited to have lasted only a few hundred million years. Not really enough time to evolve the cellular organisms we have on Earth that are reeky quite complex. For this reason, significant petroleum deposits are unlikely on Mars.

From Wikipedia "Petroleum:"
(Petroleum)  consists of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other organic compounds....A fossil fuel, petroleum is formed when large quantities of dead organisms, usually zooplankton and algae, are buried underneath sedimentary rock and subjected to both intense heat and pressure."

The active geological conditions that create oil deposits also ended several billion years ago. This adds to the unlikelihood of oil deposits on Mars.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2018 04:43 AM by Ionmars »
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Offline Ionmars

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The release of the vessel may be easier on Mars surface. We proposed a "vessel grappler" that could remove the vessel from the side. Also the half-fairing is a removable panel rather than hinged, so it is removed and set aside.
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Sorry if this was answered elsewhere, but how would these grapplers or the crane in your paper be delivered to the surface?

One approach would have us design "kits" of component parts to assemble a large crane or a vessel-grappler. The parts would have to be small enough to fit inside the cargo bay of a BFS/spaceship and must fit through a cargo bay door. (A good reason for doors to be as large as feasible) A small crane would unload parts, as pictured by E. Musk. Components of a large crane pr a VG may require multiple spaceship landings.

If cargo modules are employed for early flights, parts would be packed into cargo modules and the modules unloaded by crane or VG. In either case, humans would assemble any large and complicated machine (not self-deployed).

 
After landing, Mars pioneers will require our continued support.

Offline Ionmars

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The purpose of the unhinged lower panel is to allow the entire heatshield side of the spaceship to be produced as one piece. When we proposed this as an option in the paper, we didn't know that SpaceX would want to develop this capability. Apparently they do.

What are you basing this on?
Just the pictures of the hinged 'fairing' of the cargo vehicle?
Based mainly on a logical construct. The purpose is two-fold. First, we want to reuse the fairing of a vehicle returning from outer space at high speed. So when the fairing or fairings open on Mars or in outer space to release a module, they close up again. The fairings are returned to Earth with the vehicle, automatically saving them for reuse. Second, the fairings represent a large surface area, so we want them attached to the vehicle during atmospheric reentry. We are using the side of the spaceship for drag to reduce speed price to retropulsion and landing.

In addition, other hers have also proposed hinged fairings as a way to release a module or a stage. I recall seeing this in a proposal from Orbital ATK a few years back, but I can't give a specific reference.
After landing, Mars pioneers will require our continued support.

Offline Ionmars

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From my point of view, the concept of the proposed cargo module has two very serious problems. The first is that the production of fuel on Mars must be deployed as quickly as possible, since it is necessary to return the ITS to Earth for the next flight. To allocate a large number of ITS ships exclusively for the delivery of modules of the fuel complex will be difficult. The second problem is that to start working with such a large cargo module it is necessary to have heavy and bulky equipment on Mars. At the initial stage of development of Mars, the availability of such equipment there is unrealistic.
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There are definitely problems and you are right to point out that the first landings may not be able to unload modules. There will have to be an initial  build-up of equipment and supplies before the first humans arrive and afterwards as well. The "kit" for constructing large machines (mentioned above) may be one approach to initial cargo landings. We can unload modules only when we have equipment to do so. We may also require large equipment, such as a TEL, to relaunch spaceships back to Earth.

When you say "allocate a large number of ITS ships exclusively for the delivery of modules," please remember each module is jam-packed with equipment to be unloaded. Only then does the pressurized module itself becomes a secondary payload to set up the chemical complex or to employ as a habitat or greenhouse. Thus the theme: to land on Mars' surface the largest feasible mass and volume of usable payload in every cargo flight.
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Offline Ionmars

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,,,
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It seems to me that most of the elements of the fuel complex are better mounted on the Earth, under the fairing 2-3 copies of the ITS, leaving a passage in the middle. In the central pass, load a nuclear reactor on a cart, a universal transport and construction rover and materials for assembling a fuel complex. For their unloading a small crane, located above the entrance hatch, is necessary. As technological capacities of a fuel complex to use fuel and oxidizer tanks of these ITS, their other capacities.
   
Produced fuel can be directly loaded into the ITS, standing on the launch pad. To this end, next to each of them will need to place a small heat exchanger and supply them with a coolant. As a result, it will be possible to create a fuel complex on Mars in just 2-3 flights of ITS, while ensuring further development of the colony by the energy of the reactor and a small construction and transport infrastructure.
Yes. What you are saying applies to the first landings, where each cargo ITS/BFS will have to deliver multiple types of equipment and supplies. No specialized modules until we can unload them.

We discovered the large numbers of vessels required during the project and addressed this in the Conclusions. It was a major finding.
After landing, Mars pioneers will require our continued support.

Offline Ionmars

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I don't see this "build a chemical industry" proposal as being how the first ISRU fuel is produced, but rather how to ramp up an industry once your (single load?) ISRU plant is producing fuel and oxidizer. The diagram you show is at a relatively late stage, and there is useful propellant produced well before that many loads are required.

Your organization certainly makes sense as a possible configuration for the first load pilot plant, though. Whether it's exactly right would be a matter of working the trades and trying to engineer it, but it struck me as not that far off.
Agreed.
After landing, Mars pioneers will require our continued support.

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