Author Topic: Astrobotic Technology Annouces Lunar Mission on SpaceX Falcon 9  (Read 103131 times)

Offline wjbarnett

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First Falcon 9 lunar mission contract announced. NET December 2013

http://astrobotic.net/2011/02/06/astrobotic-technology-announces-lunar-mission-on-spacex-falcon-9/

I assume SpaceX will put this PR on their site on Monday.

Mods: I put this into the existing General SpaceX thread too, so delete if appropriate, though I noticed that previous SpaceX contracts have their own thread.
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Offline mr. mark

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Fantastic news! I really can't wait for this launch. It has always been my hope that Spacex would demonstrate BEO capability and this seems to be a great start. Can't wait until the probe pulls up and gets a closeup of the Apollo 11 landing site. Just imagine the look on the moon hoaxers faces then. lol :)

Offline simonbp

They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's scared ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...

Offline robertross

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That's cool
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Online ugordan

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They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's scared ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...

Any GLXP rover would IIRC be allowed to come within 500 meters of the Apollo 11 site, observe it with HD cameras etc from that distance, but not physically enter the site.

Offline Robotbeat

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They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's scared ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...
Looking at it doesn't necessarily mean disturbing the footprints of Neil and Buzz, unless the probe is nearsighted.
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Offline arnezami

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« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 04:16 PM by arnezami »

Offline MikeAtkinson

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I second that they shouldn't be going to 11. Not just because it should be left pristine due its high historical value, but also that site was chosen because it was boring, 15,16 or 17 would seem to be better choices.

Offline mr. mark

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This is  a great video for the lunar probe.

Offline aquanaut99

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I second that they shouldn't be going to 11. Not just because it should be left pristine due its high historical value, but also that site was chosen because it was boring, 15,16 or 17 would seem to be better choices.

I agree. The most interesting Apollo landing sites were those chosen during the J missions. But I would prefer that they land in an unexplored area. Maybe the lunar poles?

Incidentally, even if they shot up-close photos of the Apollo lunar landers and astronauts footprints, I predict that will not be enough to silence the moon-hoaxers. I'm sure they will find some ludicrous way to continue denying it (and probably accusing SpaceX of being part of the conspiracy).

Offline swampcat

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They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's scared ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...

So the ground is afraid of something?  ;D

My only concern would be how good their landing navigation turns out to be. They say they will be aiming for a 100m landing zone, but they are using untried hardware. Let's just hope they don't miss by too much.

Offline Comga

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They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's sacred ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...
Looking at it doesn't necessarily mean disturbing the footprints of Neil and Buzz, unless the probe is nearsighted.

Agreed. At 5 cm/sec they can cover ~4 km per Earth day and up to 60 km per lunar day.  They should be able to move the aim point well away from the Apollo 11 site.  They do say they will land several kilometers away.  The odds of accidentally coming down on the Apollo 11 footprints should be pretty remote.  It might help that they are planning an offset to the south, and should be landing east-to-west.

There are also good maps now from LRO so they can approach along a path that doesn't disturb any footprints.  Looks like coming "up-sun" from the West right past the ALSEP to the "big" crater would do it.
 
Overall, this is really exciting.  It is not beyond the realm of the possible, which is more than I have seen for a while concerning Moon landers.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 06:59 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Online ugordan

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It is not beyond the realm of the possible, which is more than I have seen for a while concerning Moon landers.

It's also carrying with it a very real likelihood of some failure preventing a safe landing, IMHO.

Still, it would be pretty cool to see this happen.

Offline tigerade

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Really cool news.  However, does the Falcon 9 second stage actually hold enough fuel to make it to lunar orbit, or will this require some kind of modification? 

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However, does the Falcon 9 second stage actually hold enough fuel to make it to lunar orbit, or will this require some kind of modification? 

To make it to lunar orbit? No.
To send about 2-2.5 metric tons through TLI, maybe, depends on how the actual performance of F9 so far is working out and then correct that for expected Block 2 numbers.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 07:09 PM by ugordan »

Offline Jason1701

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They really shouldn't be going to 11; that's scared ground. Any of the other sites would okay, but 11 should be left as is...

Any GLXP rover would IIRC be allowed to come within 500 meters of the Apollo 11 site, observe it with HD cameras etc from that distance, but not physically enter the site.

I'm sure they'll remain a respectful distance away. Maybe they'll circle the site. I imagine that in 50-100 years we'll have a visitor's center built around 11, but not intruding within the footprints.

@tigerade:
From Astrobiotic's website it looks like they have a pretty hefty descent stage. It looks similar to a Fregat. The F9 will probably perform only the TLI burn, and then the descent stage will do LOI and landing.

Offline Comga

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Really cool news.  However, does the Falcon 9 second stage actually hold enough fuel to make it to lunar orbit, or will this require some kind of modification? 

The Falcon 9 second stage is not anticipated to go into lunar orbit.  (Besides fuel it doesn't have the lifetime even if one wanted to take that inefficient approach.) Watch the video.  The spacecraft will do LOI, deorbit, and landing burns.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline mr. mark

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In the classroom style lander video they are saying that they are using a shuttle engine for landing. What engine would that be?

Online ugordan

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A Shuttle RCS thruster I'd guess, apparently 870 lbf thrust which sounds like the right size for this thing.

Offline rklaehn

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Well, this is certainly going to be interesting. They are planning to use a commercial off the shelf intel atom board. They did some tests indicating that it can survive cryogenic temperatures. But surely the radiation environment on the moon would be a problem.

http://astrobotic.net/2010/09/22/hibernation-recovery-for-computer-systems/
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Offline rcoppola

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This is absolutely wonderful news, and makes me wonder. This question might need to be it's own thread, unless there is one already.

Once Dragon is fitted with it's push LAS and tri-legs for vertical landing, could dragon use it's LAS propellent to handle a moon landing and lift-off? Using the last of it for de-orbit and then a traditional splashdown?

Crazy I know, but is it really? I know they won't be standing up for the decent, but with today's nav hard and software, does it matter?

Could we squeeze enough fuel to bust back out of LO?
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Offline Jason1701

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This is absolutely wonderful news, and makes me wonder. This question might need to be it's own thread, unless there is one already.

Once Dragon is fitted with it's push LAS and tri-legs for vertical landing, could dragon use it's LAS propellent to handle a moon landing and lift-off? Using the last of it for de-orbit and then a traditional splashdown?

Crazy I know, but is it really? I know they won't be standing up for the decent, but with today's nav hard and software, does it matter?

Could we squeeze enough fuel to bust back out of LO?

Sorry, no. You're talking about 3-5 km/s delta-v, which is far more than the LAS will be capable of. The LAS-equipped Dragon won't actually have that much more fuel than a Dragon Cargo, it will just be able to use it much quicker.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Deltavs.svg

Online ugordan

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Well, this is certainly going to be interesting. They are planning to use a commercial off the shelf intel atom board. They did some tests indicating that it can survive cryogenic temperatures. But surely the radiation environment on the moon would be a problem.

Quite. Latchups and other radiation effects could definitely make things "interesting" once in space.

Offline rklaehn

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Well, this is certainly going to be interesting. They are planning to use a commercial off the shelf intel atom board. They did some tests indicating that it can survive cryogenic temperatures. But surely the radiation environment on the moon would be a problem.

Quite. Latchups and other radiation effects could definitely make things "interesting" once in space.

They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do. Using radiation-hardened computers with the performance of an intel atom would probably bust their budget.

I guess they will try to shield the processor as good as possible, try to make the software fault-tolerant, and hope for the best.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 08:01 PM by rklaehn »
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They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do.

That clip was about temperature-triggered wakeup from hibernation so I'm thinking it's meant for the rover itself, not the descent system terrain tracking.

One other thing I'm unclear on. They say they're planning to return HD video from the surface of the moon. How exactly? Where will the bitrate to support that come from? On the other hand, downlinking one frame every N seconds doesn't exactly constitute "video".
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 08:18 PM by ugordan »

Offline rklaehn

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They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do.

That clip was about temperature-triggered wakeup from hibernation so I'm thinking it's meant for the rover itself, not the descent system terrain tracking.

I am sure they will do some image recognition on the rover as well. They will also have to do full hd video encoding and compression. That's the only way they can transfer significant amounts of full hd video.

Maybe the radiation environment on the moon is less severe than in flight. And certainly a reboot of the lander computer during a maneuver or during descent is much more critical than a reboot of the rover computer.

Makes you wonder if they will use an atom as well for the lander, or a top of the line rad-hardened computer...
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 08:24 PM by rklaehn »
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Offline Jorge

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They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do.

That clip was about temperature-triggered wakeup from hibernation so I'm thinking it's meant for the rover itself, not the descent system terrain tracking.

One other thing I'm unclear on. They say they're planning to return HD video from the surface of the moon. How exactly? Where will the bitrate to support that come from? On the other hand, downlinking one frame every N seconds doesn't exactly constitute "video".

Sure it does. Record onboard at high bitrate, transmit at low, playback on earth at high. They didn't say "live" HD video, did they?
JRF

Offline Mark S

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I second that they shouldn't be going to 11. Not just because it should be left pristine due its high historical value, but also that site was chosen because it was boring, 15,16 or 17 would seem to be better choices.

How about the sites planned for 18, 19, and 20?  Why retread old ground, while at the same time risking permanent damage to historic sites? Unless of course they are just going as a publicity stunt.

Mark S.

Offline rklaehn

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They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do.

That clip was about temperature-triggered wakeup from hibernation so I'm thinking it's meant for the rover itself, not the descent system terrain tracking.

One other thing I'm unclear on. They say they're planning to return HD video from the surface of the moon. How exactly? Where will the bitrate to support that come from? On the other hand, downlinking one frame every N seconds doesn't exactly constitute "video".

Sure it does. Record onboard at high bitrate, transmit at low, playback on earth at high. They didn't say "live" HD video, did they?

They specify the data requirements in great detail in the guidelines: http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/files/downloads/lunar/GLXP_Guidelines_v3_Nov_20_2008.pdf.

The minimum dataset consists of at least two 500mb "mooncast" datasets. I assume that those contain the HD ((720p) video.

"Near real time" video must be 320x240 or better.

They have up to 14 days to send back this data. Assuming they use the entire available time (not likely), that would be (2^30*8)/(3600*24*14)=7101.46709 bit/s just for the video.

The rover looks like it has no directional antenna. So either they rent some big receivers for the mission, or they transfer the data to the lander and send it from there using a high-gain directional antenna.
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Offline Jorge

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I second that they shouldn't be going to 11. Not just because it should be left pristine due its high historical value, but also that site was chosen because it was boring, 15,16 or 17 would seem to be better choices.

How about the sites planned for 18, 19, and 20?  Why retread old ground, while at the same time risking permanent damage to historic sites? Unless of course they are just going as a publicity stunt.

They would be going in order to win one of the bonus prizes.

http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/about-the-prize/rules-and-guidelines

Quote
$4 million in bonus prizes are available for achieving other specific mission objectives, including operation at night; traveling more than 5km over the lunar surface; detection of water; and precision landing near an Apollo site or other lunar sites of interest (such as landing/crash sites of man-made space hardware).
JRF

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The rover looks like it has no directional antenna. So either they rent some big receivers for the mission, or they transfer the data to the lander and send it from there using a high-gain directional antenna.

That's kind of my point. Even if video is recorded onboard and then played back to Earth at a snail's pace, the bitrate would still suck unless a directional antenna is used from somewhere on the Moon. The lander, an orbiting relay craft, whatever.

Offline mr. mark

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As for me this is WAY more exciting than the Super Bowl! Here is the intended flight plan just for some extra fun.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 08:59 PM by mr. mark »

Offline rklaehn

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The rover looks like it has no directional antenna. So either they rent some big receivers for the mission, or they transfer the data to the lander and send it from there using a high-gain directional antenna.

That's kind of my point. Even if video is recorded onboard and then played back to Earth at a snail's pace, the bitrate would still suck unless a directional antenna is used from somewhere on the Moon. The lander, an orbiting relay craft, whatever.

You might be able to use an omnidirectional antenna if you had a really big receiver on earth. Galileo's omnidirectional antenna was able to transfer 160 bits/s from Jupiter. But I guess most competitors are going to use some kind of relay.
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Online docmordrid

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Used a hardware encoding chip set up for;

720p (1280x720 progressive)
15 frames/sec
32 kBytes/sec bitrate   

I just encoded one of SpaceX's HD videos to those settings and it's more than adequate.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 09:10 PM by docmordrid »
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Offline rklaehn

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Used a hardware encoding chip set up for;

720p (1280x720 progressive)
15 frames/sec
32 kBytes/sec bitrate   

I just encoded one of SpaceX's HD videos to those settings and it's more than adequate.

The requirements are given in megabytes, not in seconds of footage. Better encoding means you will have more footage, but does not change the 2*500 MB requirement.

Edit: at these settings, one of the data packs would be more than 4 hours of HD video footage (or >2 hours of stereoscopic footage). I am really looking forward to this. I hope that more than one team will make an attempt.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2011 09:23 PM by rklaehn »
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Offline rklaehn

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I just read this passage in the "rules and regulations" section of the website
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/about-the-prize/rules-and-guidelines
:

The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013.

Is this new? I seem to remember that the deadlines used to be fixed.

What government-funded mission do they mean? Does NASA have a lander planned for 2013?
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Offline RocketEconomist327

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This is almost like JPL v2.0

They have worked with NASA too.  This is what NASA should do, inspire.  Good work Astrobotic but very nice job NASA.

NASA wins today.



VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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So by 2014 Astrobotic hopes to have a flight tested 80kg payload lunar lander.  That may permit the testing of small ISRU equipment and prospecting equipment.

Ten years ago there were problems getting batteries to work in Arctic and Antarctic conditions, so there may be a spin off market for the battery.

If the cols surviving computer is nuclear hard there may be other customers for it.

Offline Nomadd

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 The moon isn't that much further than geo signal wise. Just another 20db.
 They might get some sat controller or broadcaster to let them use an 18M or so backup dish, as long as they knew it could get yanked for it's regular job at any minute. I've seen some pretty nifty 1M folding dishes. It would be fun to make them vacuum and ludicrous temp variation compatible.
 Sending data to the lander like Pathfinder did should be the easiest way.  Not with Radio Shack 400mhz radios that quit when their temps get a tiny bit out of sync though. Maybe some triple redundant (cheaper than hardening) 802.something. I don't think there will be a lot of Bluetooth headsets around to interfere.

Offline Robotbeat

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Intel's Atom chip doesn't support ECC (unless that has changed in a new version). Perhaps they would be better off going with an ARM processor? They are industry standard, there are high-performance ones available, and some are available that are actually rad-hard. There are also some high-performance (dual-core, 7500 MIPS, 64-bit) rad-hard PowerPC processors that are available. But... I guess if you are willing to take a risk and only need to last a month and are able to have a little bit of shielding, and design the system to recover from errors... It's not irresponsible to go without a rad-hard CPU (but really? no ECC support?).

Are they using just one Intel Atom chip? If they are using multiples, I can imagine them doing a sort of redundant setup.
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Offline Downix

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I just read this passage in the "rules and regulations" section of the website
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/about-the-prize/rules-and-guidelines
:

The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013.

Is this new? I seem to remember that the deadlines used to be fixed.

What government-funded mission do they mean? Does NASA have a lander planned for 2013?
LADEE is for 2013, and is to study the regolith and atmosphere.  Not a lander for se, but it is to operate close to the lunar surface.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline Robotbeat

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Intel's Atom chip doesn't support ECC (unless that has changed in a new version). Perhaps they would be better off going with an ARM processor? They are industry standard, there are high-performance ones available, and some are available that are actually rad-hard. There are also some high-performance (dual-core, 7500 MIPS, 64-bit) rad-hard PowerPC processors that are available. But... I guess if you are willing to take a risk and only need to last a month and are able to have a little bit of shielding, and design the system to recover from errors... It's not irresponsible to go without a rad-hard CPU (but really? no ECC support?).

Are they using just one Intel Atom chip? If they are using multiples, I can imagine them doing a sort of redundant setup.
Replying to myself...


There is the possibility of using the cheapest rad-hard cpu (or even microcontroller) you can find for low-level control, but still use the Atom cpu for heavy-lifting. As long as you can recover very quickly from radiation strikes (i.e. quick power-cycle capability in case of latch-up, etc). If you can recover within a fraction of a second right where you left off, then having multiple radiation "events" every day is not a problem (assuming they are not permanent... latch-ups can sometimes cause permanent damage).
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Online docmordrid

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The AMD Neo X2 L625 (64/32 bit dual-core for embedded systems) has ECC.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2011 06:59 AM by docmordrid »
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Sending data to the lander like Pathfinder did should be the easiest way.

Not after you've traveled several km and lost LOS to the lander.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Sending data to the lander like Pathfinder did should be the easiest way.

Not after you've traveled several km and lost LOS to the lander.

How about a hard-line link? A light fibre-optic data cable or something? How big would the drum need to be for, say 150 to 200m?
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Offline mr. mark

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Funny this has not received even a mention on the major media outlets. No msnbc, fox news, cnn or space.com or spaceflightnow.com ect, strange? Only spaceref.com, nasawatch.com and twitter based feeds carried it.

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SpaceX are yet to announce the same news in a release so... The Astrobotic release wasn't as widely distributed as far as I can tell.

Offline Jim

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Does it say anywhere that this is a dedicated launch?

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Based on the stated mass of that thing, around 2 tons, I can't imagine being it anything else than a dedicated launch.

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Does it say anywhere that this is a dedicated launch?

The rendering from astrobiotic shows the lander as the single payload in the (mostly empty) payload fairing of the f9. So I guess that means yes.

Edit: see this lecture from Red Whittaker, at 04:08.

« Last Edit: 02/07/2011 02:42 PM by rklaehn »
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This article has a couple of bits of info: http://news.discovery.com/space/moon-rocket-private-space-110207.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Quote
There's room aboard the Falcon 9 for another 240 pounds of additional cargo, space Astrobotic Technology is selling for $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000-per-payoad fee for integration, communications and other support services.

Quote
Aside from adjusting navigation software, Falcon 9 doesn't need any modifications to reach lunar orbit, Musk wrote in an email to Discovery News.

"Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.

I find it interesting they can state with such a degree of certainty how much extra mass is available. Oh well.

Offline mr. mark

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"SpaceX are yet to announce the same news in a release so... The Astrobotic release wasn't as widely distributed as far as I can tell."

....or even add it to the launch manifest. I'm sure they will post this in the update section soon.

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....or even add it to the launch manifest. I'm sure they will post this in the update section soon.

'Cause they demonstrated always keeping the launch manifest up to date, right?

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Yes, we get it. First couple of launches of a brand new rocket weren't on schedule.

Can we repeat that a couple of more times? It is obviously such a deviation from all rocket development efforts of the past that it really does warrant extra scrutiny and definitely means that we can extrapolate from that to the future and hint that SpaceX will never be able to launch according to their manifest.
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"Yes, we get it. First couple of launches of a brand new rocket weren't on schedule.

Can we repeat that a couple of more times? It is obviously such a deviation from all rocket development efforts of the past that it really does warrant extra scrutiny and definitely means that we can extrapolate from that to the future and hint that SpaceX will never be able to launch according to their manifest".


Of course, this could be said of any and every launch provider. Just look at the current shuttle schedule as an example.

Offline wjbarnett

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Yes, we get it. First couple of launches of a brand new rocket weren't on schedule.

Can we repeat that a couple of more times? It is obviously such a deviation from all rocket development efforts of the past that it really does warrant extra scrutiny and definitely means that we can extrapolate from that to the future and hint that SpaceX will never be able to launch according to their manifest.

I think the comment above was more about SpaceX's website being sadly out of date (constantly) and it's policy of dating launches (even past ones) by the arrival of the vehicle at the launch site, rather than the planned launch date or even year.
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I think the comment above was more about SpaceX's website being sadly out of date (constantly)

Correct. Some posters should tone it down on their jumpiness to interpret everything said as an attack on SpaceX and their accomplishments.

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I think the comment above was more about SpaceX's website being sadly out of date (constantly) and it's policy of dating launches (even past ones) by the arrival of the vehicle at the launch site, rather than the planned launch date or even year.

If that's the case then I humbly withdraw my sarcasm.

Yeah, SpaceX is not PR-heavy, but it doesn't take much to keep those few web pages up to date, and definitely I'd rather have a "Vehicle ready to launch" date than a "hardware on cape" date.

This is nitpicking though - I've seen worse, and all I'd really like to see from them is contracts and launches, and they're doing very well on that.

[EDIT] Actually nevermind the "if" - rereading Ugordan's post I stand fully corrected - his point is well made - my bad.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2011 05:13 PM by meekGee »
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I have to admit looking at the launch manifest it looks awfully crowded. A launch in December of that year would make 6 launches. I'm not sure that is achievable with their current manufacturing base. I'm hearing talk about a additional assembly facility but, for now just rumors in the space community.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2011 05:21 PM by mr. mark »

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It's highly unlikely that this launch would occur right at the NET date anyway.

Elon said recently they are now at about 1 F9 every 3 months. In 2012 their aim is to build 1 F9 every 6 weeks.

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Nice article courtesy of msnbc.com :)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41461636/ns/technology_and_science-science/

"There's room aboard the Falcon 9 for another 240 pounds of additional cargo. Astrobotic Technology is selling the space for $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000-per-payload fee for integration, communications and other support services. "

Something wrong with the math in this part of the article.. I put the cost for that 240lbs of Excess cargo capacity at 168 million dollars??  Nice profit if they can get it but I have to believe someone messed up the zero's in the article???
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“Getting to the moon in 10 years is definitely doable,” says SpaceX vice president Chris Thompson.

From this article in 2005. http://www.spacex.com/media.php?page=42

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In 2012 their aim is to build 1 F9 every 6 weeks.

I'm hearing talk about a additional assembly facility but, for now just rumors in the space community.

Is there a rumored location?     Such as extra space at the Tesla factory?
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I'm hearing talk about a additional assembly facility but, for now just rumors in the space community.
Now that would be interesting to see but that opens up lots of questions...
Where is the cash to do this.... Will they need a dual line of friction stir welding machines...pipe bending machines for the engines/octopus.. etc..
their overhead costs..man power and development...seems pretty high right now without that much cash flow in..
IPO maybe? ;)

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Nice article courtesy of msnbc.com :)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41461636/ns/technology_and_science-science/

"There's room aboard the Falcon 9 for another 240 pounds of additional cargo. Astrobotic Technology is selling the space for $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000-per-payload fee for integration, communications and other support services. "

Something wrong with the math in this part of the article.. I put the cost for that 240lbs of Excess cargo capacity at 168 million dollars??  Nice profit if they can get it but I have to believe someone messed up the zero's in the article???
I don't know, maybe not. I assume, since Astrobotic is selling this, it's payload to the Moon (either to LLO, on the lander or even on the rover, perhaps). That's worth a lot more than payload to LEO.
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Space.com published a story on this.
http://www.space.com/10787-private-moon-race-team-signs-rocket-deal-spacex.html

Quote
SpaceX — which in December became the first private company to successfully return a spacecraft from Earth orbit — usually charges between $49.9 million and $56 million for a launch to low-Earth orbit. But it's lowering its prices for the prize.

"SpaceX is a Preferred Launch Partner, having offered substantial discount to all Google Lunar X Prize teams as a way of further fostering exploration and innovation," officials wrote on the X Prize website.

Very interesting. I wonder how many other teams will try to get an F9 ticket.

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Discovery News....

Interesting quote from a Musk email -

Quote
"Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Discovery News....

Interesting quote from a Musk email -

Quote
"Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.

The MERs were launched by Delta-II, weren't they? I think someone pointed out once that the current version of Falcon-9 is broadly in Delta-II's performance envelope.
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Offline rklaehn

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Nice article courtesy of msnbc.com :)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41461636/ns/technology_and_science-science/

"There's room aboard the Falcon 9 for another 240 pounds of additional cargo. Astrobotic Technology is selling the space for $700,000 per pound, plus a $250,000-per-payload fee for integration, communications and other support services. "

Something wrong with the math in this part of the article.. I put the cost for that 240lbs of Excess cargo capacity at 168 million dollars??  Nice profit if they can get it but I have to believe someone messed up the zero's in the article???
I don't know, maybe not. I assume, since Astrobotic is selling this, it's payload to the Moon (either to LLO, on the lander or even on the rover, perhaps). That's worth a lot more than payload to LEO.

It is definitely payload to the moon. They have some spare mass allocated on their lander. But even so it seems quite expensive.
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Discovery News....

Interesting quote from a Musk email -

Quote
"Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.

Same article I linked to here, including the same Musk quote. Is it that hard to go back a page or two and check whether something is posted already?

F9 is supposed to noticeably exceed Delta II performance, but that doesn't matter here because the two MER point is irrelevant. Spacecraft operations team couldn't handle landing two mars rovers almost simultaneously, that's why they were launched 2 weeks apart.

Offline rklaehn

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F9 is supposed to noticeably exceed Delta II performance, but that doesn't matter here because the two MER point is irrelevant. Spacecraft operations team couldn't handle landing two mars rovers almost simultaneously, that's why they were launched 2 weeks apart.

Couldn't you let the two probes fire their maneuvering thrusters directly after TMI or during midcourse correction to get them on trajectories that arrive at different days? Even a small delta-v would accumulate over the long hohmann transfer transit.
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I don't have any insight into that, apart from some WAG, but I'd say spreading the landings two weeks apart would be well outside of the propulsive capabilities of the cruise stages. A day or two, maybe - but then again, that's still not enough for the operations team.

Offline rklaehn

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I don't have any insight into that, apart from some WAG, but I'd say spreading the landings two weeks apart would be well outside of the propulsive capabilities of the cruise stages. A day or two, maybe - but then again, that's still not enough for the operations team.

For two weeks you would probably let the upper stage deploy the first probe, change the trajectory and then deploy the second probe. But do you really need two weeks? A day or two should be enough to get the first probe in a safe config where it can survive with minimal intervention.

Edit: Here is how you would do it: a straight hohmann transfer intersects the mars orbit in one point. But if you make the transfer orbit slightly more elliptical, then it intersects the mars orbit in two points. Even a very slight excess velocity compared to a hohmann transfer will lead to a large distance (=time) between the two intersection points.

Now all you have to do is to change the orbital parameters of one probe so that arrives at the first crossing point when mars is there, and of the other probe so that it misses at the first crossing point but hits on the second crossing point.

I am quite confident you could do something like this even with very modest delta-v. But you will definitely be able to do it by using a restartable upper stage such as the one from falcon 9.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2011 09:19 AM by rklaehn »
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Discovery News....

Interesting quote from a Musk email -

Quote
"Falcon 9 is capable of launching missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. Payload to the moon is about three tons and to Mars about two tons, meaning Falcon 9 could have launched the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers on a single flight," wrote Musk.

The MERs were launched by Delta-II, weren't they? I think someone pointed out once that the current version of Falcon-9 is broadly in Delta-II's performance envelope.
The Delta II Heavy is about 2/3 the mass of the Falcon 9 and uses a less efficient upper stage combination. Its more in the category of the EELVs. If they ever get a Raptor LH2 stage the Falcon 9 should turn out to be even more impressive. It is interesting that this team is using the Falcon 9 and not the Falcon 1.

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It is interesting that this team is using the Falcon 9 and not the Falcon 1.

Think of the payload (or lack of thereof) a Falcon 1e could sling to the Moon and that's requiring a 3rd stage by default.

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But do you really need two weeks? A day or two should be enough to get the first probe in a safe config where it can survive with minimal intervention.

It's not just the EDL maneuver, it's the tracking requirements, any last-minute TCMs etc before landing. Plus if anything unexpected happened on the first lander, you wouldn't have much time to apply a lesson learned for the 2nd lander. Case in point: the atmospheric density during Spirit landing was lower than expected and had the parachutes deployed just a couple of seconds later, the thing would have crashed into the ground. For Opportunity landing the timings were adjusted.

Offline rklaehn

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I don't have any insight into that, apart from some WAG, but I'd say spreading the landings two weeks apart would be well outside of the propulsive capabilities of the cruise stages. A day or two, maybe - but then again, that's still not enough for the operations team.

For two weeks you would probably let the upper stage deploy the first probe, change the trajectory and then deploy the second probe. But do you really need two weeks? A day or two should be enough to get the first probe in a safe config where it can survive with minimal intervention.

Edit: Here is how you would do it: a straight hohmann transfer intersects the mars orbit in one point. But if you make the transfer orbit slightly more elliptical, then it intersects the mars orbit in two points. Even a very slight excess velocity compared to a hohmann transfer will lead to a large distance (=time) between the two intersection points.

Now all you have to do is to change the orbital parameters of one probe so that arrives at the first crossing point when mars is there, and of the other probe so that it misses at the first crossing point but hits on the second crossing point.

I am quite confident you could do something like this even with very modest delta-v. But you will definitely be able to do it by using a restartable upper stage such as the one from falcon 9.

Here is an illustration of the concept. Blue is earth orbit, dark red is mars orbit, black is a hohmann transfer.

Green is the first MER. violet is the second MER. The orbits are pretty similar, but nevertheless intercept mars at a long distance in its orbit. In reality, the difference from a hohmann transfer to the transfer orbit would be much smaller.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2011 09:42 AM by rklaehn »
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Do you have a rough idea of the delta-V for the two trajectories? Looks 100-ish meters per second to my untrained eyeballs.

Also consider that the arriving trajectory geometry is not "free-floating", there are constraints on landing site time of day, entry angle, etc.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2011 09:48 AM by ugordan »

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Do you have a rough idea of the delta-V for the two trajectories? Looks 100-ish meters per second to my untrained eyeballs.

That would be my guess as well. But that is well within the capability of a falcon 9 upper stage.

Note that this is not to scale. For a delay of just 14 days  the intersection points would be much closer together (about (14/687)*360 = 7°), and the two orbits would be so close together that you would not be able to distinguish them.

Quote
Also consider that the arriving trajectory geometry is not "free-floating", there are constraints on landing site time of day, entry angle, etc.

Yes, there would be some constraints on the landing geometry. To really analyse this thoroughly you would need some expensive tools or a lot of time. But it does not seem completely implausible at first glance, and people are remarkably creative when designing trajectories.
« Last Edit: 02/08/2011 10:03 AM by rklaehn »
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Why you don't take the statement of Musk as it was, as a simply PR answer to a question. I don't think there are real ideas to send two probes to Mars on the same Falcon 9. Alone from the standpoint of risk management is better to use two different lifters, in the overall price of such a mission, the 50M for an additional Falcon 9 is nothing.

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Exactly. Plus, the discussion is really off topic here.

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Exactly. Plus, the discussion is really off topic here.
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I just read this passage in the "rules and regulations" section of the website
http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/about-the-prize/rules-and-guidelines
:

The competition's grand prize is worth $20 million. To provide an extra incentive for teams to work quickly, the grand prize value will change to $15 million whenever a government-funded mission successfully explores the lunar surface, currently projected to occur in 2013.

Is this new? I seem to remember that the deadlines used to be fixed.

What government-funded mission do they mean? Does NASA have a lander planned for 2013?

The deadlines used to be fixed.  See http://www.parabolicarc.com/2010/08/11/teams-angered-proposed-google-lunar-prize

For back-story, prior to about six months ago, the Grand prize was scheduled to decrease in magnitude from $20 million to $15 million at the end of 2012, and then end (expire with no payout) at the end of 2014, seven years after the initial announcement.  The X-Prize Foundation then decided to arbitrarily changed the rules three years in, and it took them a while longer still to then finish the rule set.  I'm not even sure that the rules are really "finished", even today.

So, this ended up being at least a +$5 million rule change for Astrobotic, if they launch as planned in 2013 and succeed, assuming that they could never have launched by 2012.

If they (or SpaceX) encounter delays of some kind, pushing their launch past December 2013 (not hard to imagine), Astrobotic initially would have received $0 from GLXP.  Now, they will still potentially be eligible for $20 million, and it begins to look like a +$15  to +$20 million rules change for them (or any other team that never stood a chance of succeeding by 2014).

You can imagine how difficult fundraising in late 2007 (when the prize was announced) might have been, with a hard 2012/2014 cutoff, for a team with a credible 5-to-6-year timetable to fund, design, build, launch, test, and operate the system.

Keep in mind that this would have been just after the first, fairly catestrophic test of Falcon 1 on Omelek (bleeding fuel through a rusty B-nut) followed by a failure of the stage separation on the second test (when fuel slosh at altitude was ignored).

Making a 5-year gamble on an unproven Falcon 1, much less a (then paper) Falcon 9, much less a (still paper) stretched Falcon 1E, would have been a hard sell to investors looking to actually win the prize.  The next-closest-priced launch option, for realistically-sized systems, would have been a Russian Dnepr at $18 million - $25 million, significantly decreasing the payout-to-investment ratio, and getting worse every month with the sinking dollar.

Teams that would have stood a realistic chance at success (and there have never been very many) but requiring a payout exceeding launch and fabrication costs would likely not have even competed at all under those terms, particularly as the rules changes concerning scope needed to win kept coming all through 2008, with no hint of permanent resolution any time soon.  Only teams with significant funding that was independent of success or failure (such as guaranteed academic funding from CMU, PR deals, a wealthy donor/benefactor, etc.) would have been able to even *get* to the rules changes in August 2010.

Maybe an adroit investor could have predicted the rules change when it became pretty clear that no team could actually claim the prize by 2012, or maybe the GLXP/XPF people wanted teams who would build better business plans and/or be willing to endure a likely net loss.  Maybe Larry and Sergey will do whatever it takes to prevent the prize(s) from expiring without being claimed.  It's hard to know.

Personally, I wish they'd published a complete, hard rule set to begin with, and stuck to it.  I think changing the rules halfway through is a poor way to run a contest, even one of this kind, and makes me wonder what the other X-Prize competitors have endured.

Offline Robotbeat

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At least in this video, they are using an Arduino microcontroller package to boot up the Astrobotic rover when the Sun rises:

I love Arduinos. :) So cheap (the board they show cost $30 or less fully integrated) and easy to use! (and already flown in space, I might add)

What they have shown in that video could be duplicated in an afternoon.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2011 07:14 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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I love Arduinos. :) So cheap (the board they show cost $30 or less fully integrated) and easy to use! (and already flown in space, I might add)

What they have shown in that video could be duplicated in an afternoon.

Would that stuff need to be hardened to work on the Moon? Remember this is exo-magnetosphere.  There are going to be a lot of high-energy betas and photons flying through the rover from the sun; I'd bet those would do disagreeable things to elements like EPROMS and switches.
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Offline Robotbeat

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I love Arduinos. :) So cheap (the board they show cost $30 or less fully integrated) and easy to use! (and already flown in space, I might add)

What they have shown in that video could be duplicated in an afternoon.

Would that stuff need to be hardened to work on the Moon? Remember this is exo-magnetosphere.  There are going to be a lot of high-energy betas and photons flying through the rover from the sun; I'd bet those would do disagreeable things to elements like EPROMS and switches.
I don't know. It's probably one of those things where they're just going to wing it, or they think they can get away with not hardening it. Was the Apollo computer hardened?

If you have the system hooked up to a watch-dog circuit that will do a hard reboot if it stops responding (and/or fails a check-sum, etc), then you can probably get away with a lot.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2011 08:25 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline mr. mark

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New update on lander. New users guide including first 3 moon missions launched with Falcon 9 and target dates.
http://astrobotic.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/AstroboticTechnologyPayloadUserGuide_v2.0.pdf
« Last Edit: 03/03/2011 09:18 PM by mr. mark »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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That lander can deliver 210 kg of payload to the Moon.  (No rover)  If anyone is planning any ISRU experiments.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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For those wondering about the Processors, the BRE440 is a Rad Hard PowerPC processor and at 133MHZ executes 266MIPS.

http://www.broadreachengineering.com/newsroom/news-releases/press-release-january-28-2010/

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Any talk of a MO?

This SCREAMS for it.

VR
TEA
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

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At least in this video, they are using an Arduino microcontroller package to boot up the Astrobotic rover when the Sun rises:

I love Arduinos. :) So cheap (the board they show cost $30 or less fully integrated) and easy to use! (and already flown in space, I might add)

What they have shown in that video could be duplicated in an afternoon.
Oh boy, solid state drives!  Those hold up well in hard radiation environments. :P Only joking.  This is really cool.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2011 12:37 AM by rjholling »

Offline mr. mark

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Lander update. Excellent update including testing milestones.

« Last Edit: 04/26/2011 04:30 PM by mr. mark »

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Another lander update looks like things are progressing..

"Within two weeks, all the parts of Astrobotic Technology Inc.’s lunar rover and lander should be machined and in the planetary robotics bay at Carnegie Mellon University, and, in two months, the vehicle should be in California undergoing structural integrity testing."

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/innovation/2011/05/astrobotic-ontrack-for-moon-mission.html
« Last Edit: 05/11/2011 09:03 PM by mr. mark »

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Lander structrual assembly and shipping....Things are moving along.


« Last Edit: 06/27/2011 03:26 PM by mr. mark »

Offline Jim

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Some OSHA rules for working under suspended loads were violated in that video.

Offline jimvela

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Some OSHA rules for working under suspended loads were violated in that video.

I was thinking the same thing myself.  I'd be in **BIG** trouble for that anywhere I've processed hardware.

Offline mr. mark

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Question: Will the Astrobotic lander be flown in the interstage or will it be released from the trunk underneath Dragon? The reason I'm asking is that the lander supports (legs) do not seem to fold up.
« Last Edit: 06/27/2011 05:03 PM by mr. mark »

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Uh, it's a dedicated F9 flight.

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Ok got you so, It's a fairing based mission. Any ideas on how large the lander is compared to the fairing diameter?
« Last Edit: 06/27/2011 05:10 PM by mr. mark »

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Ok got you so, It's a fairing based mission. Any ideas on how large the lander is compared to the fairing diameter?

http://astrobotic.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Astrobotic-Payload-Specifications.pdf

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The internal space of the F9 fairing it 4.6m. The wides point of the lander seems to be 3.5m, that would give something like 45 cm of space to each side.

Offline Robotbeat

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Violating OSHA rules is what college is all about. "Do not look into laser with remaining eye."

It's all fun and games until someone gets their hair caught in the lathe...
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Offline baldusi

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I do wonder why do they use the lander's engine to do the TLI burn. The Falcon 9 can't do a TLI?

Online ugordan

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The Falcon 9 can't do a TLI?

Falcon 9 will do the TLI burn. What it can't do is an LOI burn.

Without going into another argument about what "2 restarts" for MVac actually means, the upper stage is dead within a couple of hours after launch, the batteries are dead and LOX probably boiled off.

Offline baldusi

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The Falcon 9 can't do a TLI?

Falcon 9 will do the TLI burn. What it can't do is an LOI burn.

Without going into another argument about what "2 restarts" for MVac actually means, the upper stage is dead within a couple of hours after launch, the batteries are dead and LOX probably boiled off.
You're right. I misread the mission graph on the Payload's User Guide.

Offline kevin-rf

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Violating OSHA rules is what college is all about. "Do not look into laser with remaining eye."

It's all fun and games until someone gets their hair caught in the lathe...

Nit, Do not look into Laser with remaining good eye...

(says the guy that had to break out the eye wash bottle last week because of the 40 year old Euphorbia Tirucalli next to the desk)

Not to nit, but not having a job the regularly involves playing with cranes, what are the obvious OSHA violations in the video? Does it involve the playing on and around it while it is suspended by a crane with no blocking to prevent it from crushing someone?
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Offline Jim

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Does it involve the playing on and around it while it is suspended by a crane with no blocking to prevent it from crushing someone?

Yep

Offline Patchouli

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Well, this is certainly going to be interesting. They are planning to use a commercial off the shelf intel atom board. They did some tests indicating that it can survive cryogenic temperatures. But surely the radiation environment on the moon would be a problem.

Quite. Latchups and other radiation effects could definitely make things "interesting" once in space.

They probably don't have much choice. They need some serious computing power for the realtime image recognition they plan to do. Using radiation-hardened computers with the performance of an intel atom would probably bust their budget.

I guess they will try to shield the processor as good as possible, try to make the software fault-tolerant, and hope for the best.

Maybe use also use a watch dog timer and reset the processor if it latches up.
The rest of the memory could be ECC which should offer some protection.
The Flash drives maybe run something like a raid 5.
They also could have a couple of more robust 8 bits uCs doing the actual flying.
The small uCs could maintain control if the main computer has to reboot and there are OSes that can boot in under 1 second.
« Last Edit: 06/28/2011 01:49 PM by Patchouli »

Offline kevin-rf

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Maybe use also use a watch dog timer and reset the processor if it latches up.
The rest of the memory could be ECC which should offer some protection.
The Flash drives maybe run something like a raid 5.

You make it sound like this isn't standard kit for anyone who does realtime OS's, I am sure they are already doing all of that and much more...
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Offline Robotbeat

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Maybe use also use a watch dog timer and reset the processor if it latches up.
The rest of the memory could be ECC which should offer some protection.
The Flash drives maybe run something like a raid 5.

You make it sound like this isn't standard kit for anyone who does realtime OS's, I am sure they are already doing all of that and much more...
Intel Atom doesn't support ECC. Flash drives (larger ones, at least... not usually thumb drives) generally has integrated RAID-like technology built into each device.
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Offline baldusi

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They stae in the Payload Planners Guide that their computer is a BRE440.

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The only thing that dosen`t meet deep space rad hard specs is the SD card.

Offline kevin-rf

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They stae in the Payload Planners Guide that their computer is a BRE440.

btw spec sheet: http://www.broadreachengineering.com/products/bre440-radhard-cpu/
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Offline Downix

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They stae in the Payload Planners Guide that their computer is a BRE440.
Not a bad choice, not my personal choice.  I've dealt too long with PowerPC, honestly sick of them.  Give me a nice AT697F.
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Offline Patchouli

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They stae in the Payload Planners Guide that their computer is a BRE440.

btw spec sheet: http://www.broadreachengineering.com/products/bre440-radhard-cpu/


That's good I think it would be kinda crazy to risk the mission using non rad hardened CPU esp one that does not support ECC memory.

The flash and ram are more likely to get struck by a high energy proton then the CPU.
There's more of them so they represent a much larger target.
« Last Edit: 06/29/2011 03:46 AM by Patchouli »

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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The only thing that worried me about their design was the use on a SD card for mass storage that is not radiation hardend. The dram ECC memory they are using is also a rad hard version. GEO Sats use mag disk storage not flash because of their inherent rad tolerant storage medium. The basic difference between the two and the reason Astrobotic went with flash is weight, a few grams to several kilos.

Offline Patchouli

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The only thing that worried me about their design was the use on a SD card for mass storage that is not radiation hardend. The dram ECC memory they are using is also a rad hard version. GEO Sats use mag disk storage not flash because of their inherent rad tolerant storage medium. The basic difference between the two and the reason Astrobotic went with flash is weight, a few grams to several kilos.

They probably could use off the shelf SSD's or even SD cards in Raid 5 or 6.
Raid 6 would be the best since it's for mission critical applications.
This way the data should survive getting a few bits flipped by a cosmic ray or even one drive being rendered non functional.
It can be implemented in software if you are willing to take a performance hit.

Still the biggest worry I'd have is a latchup of the read write logic vs altercation of the flash memory.

Offline ChileVerde

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Apparently still going.

Quote
http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/ground/astrobotic.html

Robotic Explorers May Usher in Lunar 'Water Rush'
11.15.12

The American space program stands at the cusp of a "water rush" to the moon by several companies developing robotic prospectors for launch in the near future, according to a NASA scientist considering how to acquire and use water ice believed to be at the poles of the moon.

"This is like the gold rush that led to the settlement of California," said Phil Metzger, a physicist who leads the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab, part of Kennedy's Surface Systems Office. "This is the water rush."

Collecting the water, or at least showing it can be collected, is where the Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology comes in. The small company signed on in April for the third phase of a Small Business Innovative Research deal that continues research work to develop technologies NASA may need to harvest space resources in the future.

The company already is far along in its development of a rover that will work on its own. There is a deal in place with SpaceX to launch a lander and rover on a Falcon 9 rocket in October 2015. Astrobotic is competing against several other companies for the Google Lunar X-Prize, an award worth up to $30 million funded by the Internet search engine company.

"Our intent is to land on the surface of the moon in October 2015 and find water," said John Thornton, president of Astrobotic.

<snip>
"I can’t tell you which asteroid, but there will be one in 2025," Bolden asserted.

Offline go4mars

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Looks like this disappeared from the manifest.  Anyone with knowledge care to post an elaboration? 
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I am also curious if it is still a go, it's less than a year from now (October last I heard).

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The Astrobotic website has a June 26th press release, so it must still be active?


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http://www.newspacejournal.com/2014/06/19/astrobotic-offers-other-glxp-teams-a-ride-to-the-moon-but-does-it-have-a-ride-of-its-own/

Quote
A company spokesperson declined to provide additional details about the company’s launch arrangements. “We have no public update to the status of the launch at this time,” Lauren Schneider, director of communications for Astrobotic, said late Wednesday in an emailed response to an inquiry earlier in the day. SpaceX media relations did not respond to a question about Astrobotic’s launch plans Wednesday.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2014 05:42 PM by savuporo »
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Thanks for posting that article.

Offline alang

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Regarding the battery lifetime of the second stage: has anyone got an idea of the mass penalty of a wraparound solar panel (dragon v2 trunk style) sufficient to prolong falcon second stage battery life?

Offline Prober

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Regarding the battery lifetime of the second stage: has anyone got an idea of the mass penalty of a wraparound solar panel (dragon v2 trunk style) sufficient to prolong falcon second stage battery life?

you looking for something like a super light solar panel?
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Online guckyfan

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Regarding the battery lifetime of the second stage: has anyone got an idea of the mass penalty of a wraparound solar panel (dragon v2 trunk style) sufficient to prolong falcon second stage battery life?

How long do you want it to work? For Lunar orbit injection? The bigger problem may be the RP-1 getting too cold.

Offline rpapo

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I would worry about the LOX getting warm as much as the RP-1 getting cold.

Unless my memory is failing me completely, there has never been a spacecraft with non-hypergolic chemical propulsion that remained usable beyond a few hours after lift-off.  I was going to say the Apollo Service Module, but then looked it up and found it had a hypergolic engine too.
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Offline savuporo

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Unless my memory is failing me completely, there has never been a spacecraft with non-hypergolic chemical propulsion that remained usable beyond a few hours after lift-off.
absolutely correct. the record is something like 12 hours, by Centaur.
reigniting a lox/rp rocket after long coast is nontrivial, even if you managed to retain propellants.
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Offline nadreck

Unless my memory is failing me completely, there has never been a spacecraft with non-hypergolic chemical propulsion that remained usable beyond a few hours after lift-off.
absolutely correct. the record is something like 12 hours, by Centaur.
reigniting a lox/rp rocket after long coast is nontrivial, even if you managed to retain propellants.
It is non-trivial but that or relighting CH4/LO2 is needed soon for a variety of reasons and I expect that SpaceX will end up developing that technology before anything bigger than the FH flies.
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Offline Danderman

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FWIW, the original Blok-D had an nominal on orbit lifetime of 30 days, for lunar missions.


Offline ChrisWilson68

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Unless my memory is failing me completely, there has never been a spacecraft with non-hypergolic chemical propulsion that remained usable beyond a few hours after lift-off.
absolutely correct. the record is something like 12 hours, by Centaur.
reigniting a lox/rp rocket after long coast is nontrivial, even if you managed to retain propellants.
It is non-trivial but that or relighting CH4/LO2 is needed soon for a variety of reasons and I expect that SpaceX will end up developing that technology before anything bigger than the FH flies.

Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Offline savuporo

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FWIW, the original Blok-D had an nominal on orbit lifetime of 30 days, for lunar missions.

I would be interesting to know what the actual longest coast time for RD-58 in space has been. Commercial GTO flights take around 6-7 hours max.

Its important to understand though that this is not a single simple engineering issue - battery life, prop boiloff, materials degradation, residuals, electronics robustness etc all drive this variable, and jump from a few hours to a few days carries significant engineering costs and inevitably also mass penalties. So a GTO mass optimized stage would be configured substantially differently from a lunar orbit capable stage.

Sorry for OT.
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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.

I believe it's not the TLI burn that's in question.  That's similar to putting a satellite in GTO.  The question is how it gets the delta-v to go from there into lunar orbit.

Online TrevorMonty

Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.

I believe it's not the TLI burn that's in question.  That's similar to putting a satellite in GTO.  The question is how it gets the delta-v to go from there into lunar orbit.
The lander should have enough DV to go from TLI to lunar surface.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.

I believe it's not the TLI burn that's in question.  That's similar to putting a satellite in GTO.  The question is how it gets the delta-v to go from there into lunar orbit.
The lander should have enough DV to go from TLI to lunar surface.

Well, it could be made to have enough delta-V, but that would just put that much more burden on the lander.  I think someone was asking about it to see if that burden could be removed from the lander.  And the answer seems to be no, it can't, so the lander will have to do it.

Offline baldusi

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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.
I believe you are not quite clear on the terms. Falcon 9 would make a single burn of its upper stage, until the upperstage and payload are on TLI. For reasons of efficiency that's done as fast as possible on the opposite side of the Earth as is the Moon. After that, the whole stack will take a few days of coasting until they are close to the Moon. During those days, a couple of adjustment maneuvers might be required.
Once they reach the gravity field of the Moon, they are still going too fast to be captured by the Moons gravity. Depending on initial conditions, without some serious retropropulsion at that time you either crash the moon, get deviated to some Earth orbit or you return to Earth (the famous Free Return Trajectory that saved Apollo 13).
Having a stage that can do a burn four or five days after initial launch is not something easy, and certainly nothing that's usual since even the most complicated missions to Earth orbit are 9hrs top. Thus, the Falcon 9 upper stage would be probably dead by that time and the Astrobotic lander would have to do the retropropulsion by itself. Since the upper stage would be dead mass for the trajectory correction maneuvers, the logical thing would be that the payload separates from the upper stage as soon as it shuts down.

Offline thydusk666

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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.
I believe you are not quite clear on the terms. Falcon 9 would make a single burn of its upper stage, until the upperstage and payload are on TLI. For reasons of efficiency that's done as fast as possible on the opposite side of the Earth as is the Moon. After that, the whole stack will take a few days of coasting until they are close to the Moon. During those days, a couple of adjustment maneuvers might be required.
Once they reach the gravity field of the Moon, they are still going too fast to be captured by the Moons gravity. Depending on initial conditions, without some serious retropropulsion at that time you either crash the moon, get deviated to some Earth orbit or you return to Earth (the famous Free Return Trajectory that saved Apollo 13).
Having a stage that can do a burn four or five days after initial launch is not something easy, and certainly nothing that's usual since even the most complicated missions to Earth orbit are 9hrs top. Thus, the Falcon 9 upper stage would be probably dead by that time and the Astrobotic lander would have to do the retropropulsion by itself. Since the upper stage would be dead mass for the trajectory correction maneuvers, the logical thing would be that the payload separates from the upper stage as soon as it shuts down.

Hi Baldusi, I don't believe that is correct (emphasis mine).

You would do your TLI roughly when the Moon rises above horizon.

You need to set your apogee to where the Moon will be when you get there, not where it is at the time of the burn. Hence TLI burn is not done at spacecraft/Moon opposition, but rather at 90-120-ish degrees.

Offline savuporo

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There are many strategies to get to Moon and land there, even recent orbiter probes have used a bunch of different trajectories. For example see LADEE trajectory, LRO and Artemis

Here is a one of comparison papers between using WSBs, phasing orbits, direct injection etc:
http://www.agi.com/downloads/resources/white-papers/a-comparison-of-lunar-landing-trajectory-strategies-using-numerical-simulations.pdf
Hop's always colorful illustrations about how to get to the moon here:
http://hopsblog-hop.blogspot.com/2013/08/lunar-ice-vs-neo-ice.html

Bottom line, at the bare minimum you need 700m/s, normally quite a bit more for the LOI, and then you need to add trajectory corrections, margins and whatnot. And of course the landing itself.

The lander would have to have a very substantial Delta-V reserve, and all burns starting with trajectory correction would have to be hypergolic, none of the existing rocket upper stages can help you there. ( EDIT: Well. Briz and Fregat would - if and when they work )

EDIT: another nice paper dissecting all options for GLXP-type vehicles to actually burn themselves to the moon
https://upcommons.upc.edu/pfc/bitstream/2099.1/9666/1/memoria.pdf
Start from chapter 1.1.2 or so.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2014 05:09 PM by savuporo »
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Offline baldusi

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Getting back on topic, this thread is about an Astrobotic mission supposedly launching in 2015.  They have to launch in 2015 to have any chance to win the GLXP, which is the whole point of the mission.  I think we can all agree SpaceX will not have any engine other than Draco and SuperDraco that will be able to restart to do a lunar insertion burn before the end of 2015, yes?  So Falcon 9 itself won't be putting the Astrobotic payload into lunar orbit.

Could a Falcon 9 just continuously burn it's second stage engine for a TLI burn?  Or restart it shortly after entering LEO?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.  It's just that they are offering payload services to the Moon and seem quite confident in accepting money for the job.
I believe you are not quite clear on the terms. Falcon 9 would make a single burn of its upper stage, until the upperstage and payload are on TLI. For reasons of efficiency that's done as fast as possible on the opposite side of the Earth as is the Moon. After that, the whole stack will take a few days of coasting until they are close to the Moon. During those days, a couple of adjustment maneuvers might be required.
Once they reach the gravity field of the Moon, they are still going too fast to be captured by the Moons gravity. Depending on initial conditions, without some serious retropropulsion at that time you either crash the moon, get deviated to some Earth orbit or you return to Earth (the famous Free Return Trajectory that saved Apollo 13).
Having a stage that can do a burn four or five days after initial launch is not something easy, and certainly nothing that's usual since even the most complicated missions to Earth orbit are 9hrs top. Thus, the Falcon 9 upper stage would be probably dead by that time and the Astrobotic lander would have to do the retropropulsion by itself. Since the upper stage would be dead mass for the trajectory correction maneuvers, the logical thing would be that the payload separates from the upper stage as soon as it shuts down.

Hi Baldusi, I don't believe that is correct (emphasis mine).

You would do your TLI roughly when the Moon rises above horizon.

You need to set your apogee to where the Moon will be when you get there, not where it is at the time of the burn. Hence TLI burn is not done at spacecraft/Moon opposition, but rather at 90-120-ish degrees.
You're more right than me, of course. Well, I didn't wanted to go into specifics. What I tried to say in non technical terms was that for the Oberth effect efficiency you want a single powerful burn at perigee (i.e. on the opposite of where you want your apogee to be). Of course the Moon will move around while you reach it. What I never seem to get right is if the moon orbits in the same direction or the opposite of the Earth's rotation. From what I remember most TLI are done on a retrograde orbit to get the free return. Thus, the moon would actually catch on you?

Offline nadreck


You're more right than me, of course. Well, I didn't wanted to go into specifics. What I tried to say in non technical terms was that for the Oberth effect efficiency you want a single powerful burn at perigee (i.e. on the opposite of where you want your apogee to be). Of course the Moon will move around while you reach it. What I never seem to get right is if the moon orbits in the same direction or the opposite of the Earth's rotation. From what I remember most TLI are done on a retrograde orbit to get the free return. Thus, the moon would actually catch on you?

While this oversimplifies it, think that the difference between ending up in a prograde lunar orbit or a retrograde lunar orbit is simply the time it takes for the moon to move a little more than its own diameter along its orbital path.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline oiorionsbelt

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There are many strategies to get to Moon and land there, even recent orbiter probes have used a bunch of different trajectories. For example see LADEE trajectory, LRO and Artemis


or the LCROSS method :)

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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One super-scary way to reduce lander mass is lithobraking.

Basically, build a lander that looks a bit like the MSR landing pod - air-bags around a tetrahedral pod. Then have the TLI trajectory Moon-intercepting. A relatively simple solid-propellent retro-motor blasts off lots of the energy, then the probe deploys the landing bags and uses friction with the Moon's surface to slow to a stop. Then the airbags deflate and the way the pod opens ensures that the instrumentation is always the right side up, no matter what attitude it finally stopped rolling.

This also allows for U/S disposal because it will just crash into the lunar surface a few minutes and several dozen miles behind the lander.
« Last Edit: 12/11/2014 09:40 AM by Ben the Space Brit »
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Offline nadreck

It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline deruch

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One super-scary way to reduce lander mass is lithobraking.

Basically, build a lander that looks a bit like the MSR landing pod - air-bags around a tetrahedral pod. Then have the TLI trajectory Moon-intercepting. A relatively simple solid-propellent retro-motor blasts off lots of the energy, then the probe deploys the landing bags and uses friction with the Moon's surface to slow to a stop. Then the airbags deflate and the way the pod opens ensures that the instrumentation is always the right side up, no matter what attitude it finally stopped rolling.

This also allows for U/S disposal because it will just crash into the lunar surface a few minutes and several dozen miles behind the lander.

With such minimal gravity and no atmosphere to provide air resistance, how big a bounce do you imagine that would have?
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Offline Zappa

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This news item today suggests a reschedule by as much as a year:

http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2014/12/11/astrobotics-lunar-landing-mission-date-may-change.html

They continue to tout themselves as the first commercial lunar landing, however there was another team who announced they are launching in the Summer.  Either they are postponing launch until 2016 and counting on the other team not launching and the Xprize deadline being moved back or they are announcing they are launching earlier in 2015, perhaps this Spring.  They are announcing the new launch date next week.

Offline savuporo

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yeah Barcelona moon team has an actual launch contract on CZ-2C in June 2015, on a Change'3-derived lander.
CGWIC stands a chance of "winning the commercial moon race".
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Offline Galactic Penguin SST

yeah Barcelona moon team has an actual launch contract on CZ-2C in June 2015, on a Change'3-derived lander.
CGWIC stands a chance of "winning the commercial moon race".

IIRC they too have slipped the launch date some time ago - not sure if it's still in 2015.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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This news item today suggests a reschedule by as much as a year:

http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2014/12/11/astrobotics-lunar-landing-mission-date-may-change.html

They continue to tout themselves as the first commercial lunar landing, however there was another team who announced they are launching in the Summer.  Either they are postponing launch until 2016 and counting on the other team not launching and the Xprize deadline being moved back or they are announcing they are launching earlier in 2015, perhaps this Spring.  They are announcing the new launch date next week.

They're definitely not going to announce an earlier launch.

First of all, the company was quoted as saying about the upcoming announcement that they will launch within the next two years.  If they were moving the launch date earlier, they wouldn't make a comment that suggests a later date.

Secondly, they've been saying all along that they're riding a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher, but they have yet to show up on SpaceX's manifest.  Since SpaceX shows a full manifest for 2015 and much of 2016, if they really were launching in 2015, they would be on the manifest by now.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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With such minimal gravity and no atmosphere to provide air resistance, how big a bounce do you imagine that would have?

One-sixth of Earth isn't 'minimal' gravity. What matters is the loss of energy in the first bounce. So long as the lander comes out of the contact with significantly less than escape energy, then it doesn't matter much - especially for what is very much a 'shot into the dark' non-precision landing (as I characterise the Google Luna X-Prize).

The necessity of reduction of energy is why I edited in the retro-package to my description. However, I feel that a single-use expendable rocket pack would not violate the KISS requirement for such a mission.
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Offline savuporo

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yeah Barcelona moon team has an actual launch contract on CZ-2C in June 2015, on a Change'3-derived lander.
CGWIC stands a chance of "winning the commercial moon race".

IIRC they too have slipped the launch date some time ago - not sure if it's still in 2015.

They talked about the slip to Jun 2015 in Sept 2013, and as of now everyone that tracks launch schedules still lists them there.

But yeah
27. (Varsi's Law) Schedules only move in one direction.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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yeah Barcelona moon team has an actual launch contract on CZ-2C in June 2015, on a Change'3-derived lander.
CGWIC stands a chance of "winning the commercial moon race".

IIRC they too have slipped the launch date some time ago - not sure if it's still in 2015.

They talked about the slip to Jun 2015 in Sept 2013, and as of now everyone that tracks launch schedules still lists them there.

But yeah
27. (Varsi's Law) Schedules only move in one direction.

The last update from Barcelona Moon Team, either on the Google Lunar X-Prize page or on their own web site, was 10 months ago.  They were giving regular updates before that.  I'd expect to start hearing more from a team as their launch approached, not 10 months of silence.  I think the silence makes it likely BMT aren't really going to launch in 2015 at all.

Offline Robotbeat

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bouncing doesn't make much sense on the Moon. Airbags only help to at most 30m/s, maybe less, so you already have to be VERY close. Also, all those airbags and petals mean a lot of mass overhead. 30m/s of extra propellant is a lot less. Better off just using the tried-and-true lander method. Kick stage to drop out of orbit, then thrusters for the rest.
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bouncing doesn't make much sense on the Moon. Airbags only help to at most 30m/s, maybe less, so you already have to be VERY close. Also, all those airbags and petals mean a lot of mass overhead. 30m/s of extra propellant is a lot less. Better off just using the tried-and-true lander method. Kick stage to drop out of orbit, then thrusters for the rest.

If you bounce enough times, sooner or later you'll encounter a mountain or crater wall at close to 90 degrees and then you'll lose a lot more than 30 m/s.  ;D

Offline ChrisWilson68

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bouncing doesn't make much sense on the Moon. Airbags only help to at most 30m/s, maybe less, so you already have to be VERY close. Also, all those airbags and petals mean a lot of mass overhead. 30m/s of extra propellant is a lot less. Better off just using the tried-and-true lander method. Kick stage to drop out of orbit, then thrusters for the rest.

If you bounce enough times, sooner or later you'll encounter a mountain or crater wall at close to 90 degrees and then you'll lose a lot more than 30 m/s.  ;D

The point of the 30 m/s limit is that the acceleration on the first bounce will destroy your payload if your speed is much over 30 m/s.

Offline Vultur

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bouncing doesn't make much sense on the Moon. Airbags only help to at most 30m/s, maybe less, so you already have to be VERY close. Also, all those airbags and petals mean a lot of mass overhead. 30m/s of extra propellant is a lot less. Better off just using the tried-and-true lander method. Kick stage to drop out of orbit, then thrusters for the rest.

If you bounce enough times, sooner or later you'll encounter a mountain or crater wall at close to 90 degrees and then you'll lose a lot more than 30 m/s.  ;D

The point of the 30 m/s limit is that the acceleration on the first bounce will destroy your payload if your speed is much over 30 m/s.

Is it really that low??? That's only about freeway speed... I would have thought those huge airbag systems on Pathfinder were a lot more powerful than that.

EDIT: I wonder if you could do a lot better if it was specifically designed to survive extreme deceleration... the HARP Project people managed to shoot electronics/sensors out of a naval gun, IIRC, and that's some pretty crazy g forces.
« Last Edit: 12/13/2014 08:49 PM by Vultur »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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bouncing doesn't make much sense on the Moon. Airbags only help to at most 30m/s, maybe less, so you already have to be VERY close. Also, all those airbags and petals mean a lot of mass overhead. 30m/s of extra propellant is a lot less. Better off just using the tried-and-true lander method. Kick stage to drop out of orbit, then thrusters for the rest.

If you bounce enough times, sooner or later you'll encounter a mountain or crater wall at close to 90 degrees and then you'll lose a lot more than 30 m/s.  ;D

The point of the 30 m/s limit is that the acceleration on the first bounce will destroy your payload if your speed is much over 30 m/s.

Is it really that low??? That's only about freeway speed... I would have thought those huge airbag systems on Pathfinder were a lot more powerful than that.

From the Wikipedia article on Mars Pathfinder:

Quote
They were designed and tested to accommodate grazing angle impacts as high as 28 m/s. However, as the airbags were designed for no more than about 15 m/s vertical impacts, three solid retrorockets were mounted above the lander in the backshell.

Offline notsorandom

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The landing method being discussed is very similar to the first landing Luna 9. On that probe rockets were used to slow the lander down when it got near the surface. Once it was close enough the lander was ejected from the carrier and it used airbags to slow down and come to a stop. It impacted at about 6 m/s, much slower than we are talking about here, and bounced a few times.

Offline Proponent

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The point of the 30 m/s limit is that the acceleration on the first bounce will destroy your payload if your speed is much over 30 m/s.

Is it really that low??? That's only about freeway speed... I would have thought those huge airbag systems on Pathfinder were a lot more powerful than that.

A long time ago, I compared of the masses of air-bag and rocket deceleration systems.  The analysis was rough, but it indicated that at speeds higher than a couple of tens of meters per second, a rocket system is likely to weigh less than an airbag system.

Quote
EDIT: I wonder if you could do a lot better if it was specifically designed to survive extreme deceleration... the HARP Project people managed to shoot electronics/sensors out of a naval gun, IIRC, and that's some pretty crazy g forces.

Well, the penetrator probes on Deep Space 2 were designed to survive impacts at about 200 m/s.  I vaguely recall reading about a lunar penetrator (Japanese, maybe?) that was designed to survive impact at about 300 m/s.  In either case, you've still got to kill of a lot of speed somehow.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Well, the penetrator probes on Deep Space 2 were designed to survive impacts at about 200 m/s.  I vaguely recall reading about a lunar penetrator (Japanese, maybe?) that was designed to survive impact at about 300 m/s.  In either case, you've still got to kill of a lot of speed somehow.

There's also a lot of kinetic energy that has to go somewhere.  Most of that is going to go into heat.  Your spacecraft has to survive not just high g-forces but also a sudden burst of intense heat.


Offline ChrisWilson68

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New date late 2016.
http://lunar.xprize.org/press-release/two-google-lunar-xprize-teams-announce-rideshare-partnership-mission-moon-2016

From the article:

Quote
Both sides will benefit with HAKUTO obtaining a ride to the moon and Astrobotic securing an important customer for its long-term lunar delivery service venture. This joint contribution would be reflected in a share of the prize purse.

Does this mean that HAKUTO isn't contributing any upfront cash to Astrobotic?  Only a share of the prize if HAKUTO wins?  If that's the case, it's a great deal for HAKUTO but a really terrible one for Astrobotic.  It doesn't help them with their main problem of coming up with the money to pay for a launch, and HAKUTO wasn't going to get to the moon without this deal, so if HAKUTO wins and gives Astrobotic a share, it means both rovers reached the surface but HAKUTO's was faster across the finishing line.  So without the deal, Astrobotic would have gotten 100% of the prize.  Astrobotic can only benefit in the event their lander works perfectly but their rover entirely fails.

Offline enzo

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Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.

Offline nadreck

Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.

I totally agree that Google and SpaceX may help leverage these entries and may even have helped this collaboration happen.

but the nitpicker in me has to point out that if you imagine two circle that overlap, one being SpaceX and one being Google then the Google circle has a radius that is 301/2 times (~5.477) the SpaceX one and while 7.5% of the area of the SpaceX circle is in the overlap only ~0.25% of the Google circle is in the overlap area.

EDIT: [fp]fixed my math[/fp]
« Last Edit: 02/24/2015 04:38 PM by nadreck »
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Offline Lar

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Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.

I totally agree that Google and SpaceX may help leverage these entries and may even have helped this collaboration happen.

but the nitpicker in me has to point out that if you imagine two circle that overlap, one being SpaceX and one being Google then the Google circle has a radius that is 301/2 times (~5.477) the SpaceX one and while 7.5% of the area of the SpaceX circle is in the overlap only ~1.369% of the Google circle is in the overlap area.

I think that's a fancy way of asserting that SpaceX cares more about Google than Google does SpaceX, given the investment size and market cap sizes?

If so, I don't think money is the only way to measure this. PR value here is huge and probably has more impact that pure dollar amounts.
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Offline nadreck

Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.

I totally agree that Google and SpaceX may help leverage these entries and may even have helped this collaboration happen.

but the nitpicker in me has to point out that if you imagine two circle that overlap, one being SpaceX and one being Google then the Google circle has a radius that is 301/2 times (~5.477) the SpaceX one and while 7.5% of the area of the SpaceX circle is in the overlap only ~1.369% of the Google circle is in the overlap area.

I think that's a fancy way of asserting that SpaceX cares more about Google than Google does SpaceX, given the investment size and market cap sizes?

If so, I don't think money is the only way to measure this. PR value here is huge and probably has more impact that pure dollar amounts.

Hmm, no, I didn't have that in mind, it was the simple idea of the overlap. Google is the 800 pound gorilla SpaceX the excitable black Lab.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline nadreck

Ok, put it another way, if SpaceX does something that amounts to an out of pocket expense for SpaceX of $5M to help this project along (though benefits from having tested something it might have had to put that much or more up for anyway) and Google puts up $5M in cash, then SpaceX will have committed 30 times the share of their enterprise to the project as Google. Maybe it works out to $2M and $8M respectively (or any other numbers) but Google probably gets a much higher benefit from the PR as you point out than SpaceX does. SpaceX doing this gets some good PR, but, in the minds of many people, it is what SpaceX does, for Google to accomplish something in space (or enable it) that is just one more "new area" that Google opens up to Molly and Joe Sixpack (Molly née Treehugger).
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline nadreck

Or one other way to think about it, if SpaceX should unilaterally do something that represents an out of pocket expense of $10M, then since Google holds 7.5% of SpaceX that means Google's share of that $10M is $750,000. But $750,000 is 0.000208% of Google's market cap, and $10M is 0.0833% of SpaceX's inferred market cap.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Offline Zed_Noir

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Anyone know if SpaceX is still giving a 10% discount for GLXP entrants? Also does that applied for a re-flown Falcon 9?

Offline Moe Grills

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Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.
EDIT: [fp]fixed my math[/fp]

I wonder why Astrobotic Tech is not directly mentioned in your post?
Sure, any GLXP money won by Astrobotic Tech, or anybody, would not cover the cost of launch, but are the team members of Astrobotic Tech devoid of imaginative solutions to pay off the balance? TV specials on Japanese TV? Streaming video on the internet with Paypal access? etc etc etc?

BTW, even if the Astrobotic Tech lunar hardware shatters on the Moon instead of making a survivable surface contact, that will still be a historic revolutionary milestone in spaceflight. And that partial success can be financially exploited by Astrobotic, Google and SpaceX.
« Last Edit: 02/25/2015 04:23 PM by Moe Grills »

Offline nadreck

Regarding the cost of launch, this mission takes on special significance. It is big publicity for both SpaceX and Google, which are now 9% linked. My guess would be, if the collaboration can't afford the launch, SpaceX does everything it can to provide a wholesale price on a used stage.
EDIT: [fp]fixed my math[/fp]

I wonder why Astrobotic Tech is not directly mentioned in your post?
Sure, any GLXP money won by Astrobotic Tech, or anybody, would not cover the cost of launch, but are the team members of Astrobotic Tech devoid of imaginative solutions to pay off the balance? TV specials on Japanese TV? Streaming video on the internet with Paypal access? etc etc etc?

BTW, even if the Astrobotic Tech lunar hardware shatters on the Moon instead of making a survivable surface contact, that will still be a historic revolutionary milestone in spaceflight. And that partial success can be financially exploited by Astrobotic, Google and SpaceX.

I am not sure if you are referring to my post where I wrote:

I totally agree that Google and SpaceX may help leverage these entries and may even have helped this collaboration happen.

but I took it as a given that that HAKUTO and Astrobotic were 100% committed to this already and that their commitment level was, potentially insufficient to meet the needs but that Google and SpaceX had interests in helping them along.  But the point of my being involved in the discussion with that post and the three later ones responding to Lar was trying to point out the difference in the relationship and commitment level between SpaceX and Google.
It is all well and good to quote those things that made it past your confirmation bias that other people wrote, but this is a discussion board damnit! Let us know what you think! And why!

Online TrevorMonty

Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., maker of Japanese soft drink Pocari Sweat, wants to put a "time capsule" can on the lunar surface. They've teamed with startups Astroscale and Astrobotic to start The Lunar Dream Capsule Project.
The hope is for water mined from the moon in future to be added to powder in this can to make the first moon drink.

The video is worth a watch.
http://www.space.com/30326-moon-as-billboard-soft-drink-can-capsule-announced-video.html

http://thehullabaloo.com/science-27/japanese-company-to-advertise-soft-drinks-on-the-moon-1095.html

Launching summer of 2016, which the best news yet.

Offline savuporo

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Just to be clear here, as this thread title continues to be misleading. Astrobotic CEO has confirmed there is no booked launch for a SpaceX Falcon 9

http://aviationweek.com/space/mexico-buys-ride-moon
Quote
Astrobotic has a published price of $1.2 million per kilogram to deliver payloads to the lunar surface, which is well within Mexico’s price range. The exact size and mass of the AEM payload is still to be determined, depending on the results of the agency’s RFP, according to Astrobotic CEO John Thornton.
..
The company has planned a launch with SpaceX, but has not booked the mission yet, Thornton says. That could be important, because the X Prize Foundation has extended the deadline for a lunar landing by one year, to Dec. 31, 2016, and stipulated that at least one contestant must have scheduled a launch by the end of this year.

In terms of real world launch manifest bookings, 2016 should be pretty much spoken for.

And here is the roundabout ( but obvious ) explanation of why the launch has not been booked
Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic signs Mexican Space Agency for trip to the moon
Quote
Signing Mexico up as a customer also moves Astrobotic one step closer to having enough paying customers to win it the now-8-year-old Google Lunar XPrize it has been pursuing since it was created...
Astrobotic and CMU are still pursuing that prize and hope they can get enough private payload customers in the next year to pay to lease a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX and launch some time in 2016.

In other words, Astrobotic has not been able to secure funding or financing for actually paying for the launch themselves, and they hope to get other agencies/organizations to pay them enough so that they can pay SpaceX.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2015 04:45 PM by savuporo »
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Online RonM

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Just to be clear here, as this thread title continues to be misleading. Astrobotic CEO has confirmed there is no booked launch for a SpaceX Falcon 9

http://aviationweek.com/space/mexico-buys-ride-moon
Quote
Astrobotic has a published price of $1.2 million per kilogram to deliver payloads to the lunar surface, which is well within Mexico’s price range. The exact size and mass of the AEM payload is still to be determined, depending on the results of the agency’s RFP, according to Astrobotic CEO John Thornton.
..
The company has planned a launch with SpaceX, but has not booked the mission yet, Thornton says. That could be important, because the X Prize Foundation has extended the deadline for a lunar landing by one year, to Dec. 31, 2016, and stipulated that at least one contestant must have scheduled a launch by the end of this year.

In terms of real world launch manifest bookings, 2016 should be pretty much spoken for.

And here is the roundabout ( but obvious ) explanation of why the launch has not been booked
Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic signs Mexican Space Agency for trip to the moon
Quote
Signing Mexico up as a customer also moves Astrobotic one step closer to having enough paying customers to win it the now-8-year-old Google Lunar XPrize it has been pursuing since it was created...
Astrobotic and CMU are still pursuing that prize and hope they can get enough private payload customers in the next year to pay to lease a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX and launch some time in 2016.

In other words, Astrobotic has not been able to secure funding or financing for actually paying for the launch themselves, and they hope to get other agencies/organizations to pay them enough so that they can pay SpaceX.

Too bad they're not ready to go. SpaceX might give them a deal on the RTF launch.

Offline savuporo

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Too bad they're not ready to go. SpaceX might give them a deal on the RTF launch.
Not that simple. Even if they were ready, there are other payload operators around with existing revenue and funds to pay for the discounted launch opportunity, if it actually were available.
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Offline BrianNH

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Quote
Signing Mexico up as a customer also moves Astrobotic one step closer to having enough paying customers to win it the now-8-year-old Google Lunar XPrize it has been pursuing since it was created...
Astrobotic and CMU are still pursuing that prize and hope they can get enough private payload customers in the next year to pay to lease a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX and launch some time in 2016.

This is the first time I have heard of anyone "leasing" a rocket.  It will be great to see leased, reusable rockets if that works out.

Offline DatUser14

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With Chris's permission, an update on this mission. Its now launching on ULA (I assume Atlas) https://www.astrobotic.com/2017/7/26/astrobotic-and-united-launch-alliance-announce-mission-to-the-moon

Quote
Astrobotic and United Launch Alliance Announce 
Mission to the Moon
July 26, 2017

Rust Belt Company, Astrobotic selects ULA to launch its Peregrine Lander in 2019 for lunar mission 50 years after Apollo 11

Pittsburgh, PA – Astrobotic and United Launch Alliance (ULA) proudly announce today that Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander will be onboard a ULA launch vehicle in 2019, during the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

“Astrobotic is thrilled to select a ULA launch vehicle as the means to get Peregrine to the Moon,” said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. “By launching with ULA, Astrobotic can rest assured our payload customers will ride on a proven launch vehicle with a solid track record of success.  Together, our two organizations will honor the past and trail blaze the lunar future.”

This effort is a big step in realizing Astrobotic’s goal of creating a Rust Belt based international gateway to the Moon.  The Peregrine Lunar Lander will fly 35 kilograms of customer payloads on its first mission, with the option to upgrade to 265 kilograms on future missions.  Already 11 deals from six nations have been signed for this 2019 mission.  The first mission in 2019 will serve as a key demonstration of service for NASA, international space agencies, and companies looking to carry out missions to the Moon.  This announcement comes as Astrobotic continues to advance Peregrine toward flight, with the preliminary design review of the vehicle having already taken place in November 2016.

“Technical credibility and signed deals remain key differentiators for Astrobotic as a lunar delivery company.  Our customers and partners know that our 10 years of lunar lander development work has made us the world leader in this market,” said Thornton.

“We are thrilled that Astrobotic has selected ULA to launch the Peregrine Lander to the Moon,” said ULA president and CEO, Tory Bruno. “The Moon is the next great frontier, but in a different way than when Neil Armstrong landed there. Enabling technologies like those from Astrobotic will allow people to live and work in the space between here and the Moon and take advantage of all those resources in a way that is sustainable.”

ULA joins a world-class team of mission partners led by Astrobotic.  These partners include NASA, who is providing Astrobotic access to some of the best spacecraft engineers and facilities in the world, as part of NASA’s Lunar CATALYST Program; Airbus DS, who brings world-class spacecraft experience in human spaceflight and exploration and leverages previous lander development work with the European Space Agency; and Deutsche Post DHL Group, the world’s leading mail and logistics company, who is the “Official Logistics Provider for Astrobotic’s First Mission to the Moon.”

###

About Astrobotic:
Astrobotic Technology Inc. is a lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company’s spacecraft accommodates multiple customer payloads on a single flight, offering flexibility at an industry-defining low price of $1.2 million per kilogram. Astrobotic is an official partner with NASA through the Lunar CATALYST program, has 23 prior and ongoing NASA contracts, a commercial partnership with Airbus DS, a corporate sponsorship with DHL, 11 deals for its first mission to the Moon, and 110 customer payloads in the pipeline for upcoming missions.  Astrobotic was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.

About ULA:
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 115 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. For more information on ULA, visit the ULA website at www.ulalaunch.com, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321). Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/ulalaunch, twitter.com/ulalaunch and instagram.com/ulalaunch.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 04:48 AM by gongora »
Where can I apply for SpaceX fanboy?.

Offline wjbarnett

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Wow, I can't believe I opened this thread back in 2011. I'm surprised Astro has the funds to afford a ula rocket, but maybe it's ridesharing in some way. Regardless, SpX has lost a potentially high visibility customer, since this is also their Lunar Xprize mission (though..., maybe not, since Google nor the Xprize got any mention in the PR...huh?)
« Last Edit: 07/26/2017 05:26 PM by wjbarnett »
Jack
Twitter: wjackbarnett

Offline GWH

It's a ride share.

Offline Comga

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Wow, I can't believe I opened this thread back in 2011.
I'm surprised Astro has the funds to afford a ula rocket, but maybe it's ridesharing in some way.
Regardless, SpX has lost a potentially high visibility customer, since this is also their Lunar Xprize mission (though..., maybe not, since Google nor the Xprize got any mention in the PR...huh?)

Doesn't the 2019 launch date put it beyond eligibility for the Google Lunar X Prize?
That could be why it's not mentioned.

We could do some simple scaling estimates to generate a mass for a lander capable of carrying 35 kg to the lunar surface and compare that to the TLI capability of, say, and Atlas 5 401, and see if it's a candidate for a ride share.
The statement about launching during the July window when Apollo 11 flew suggests a dedicated launch.

GWH: On what basis to you make your definitive statement?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline meberbs

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Wow, I can't believe I opened this thread back in 2011. I'm surprised Astro has the funds to afford a ula rocket, but maybe it's ridesharing in some way. Regardless, SpX has lost a potentially high visibility customer, since this is also their Lunar Xprize mission (though..., maybe not, since Google nor the Xprize got any mention in the PR...huh?)
Astrobotic dropped out of the competition last year, the deadline for having a launch contract was the end of 2016.

SpaceIL still is technically in the competition with a contract with SpaceX, but their launch is not until 2018 now, and the prize deadline is end of this year, so they are effectively out of the running as well.

Offline GWH

https://www.astrobotic.com/configure-mission

First mission in palyload guide is listed as ride share from leo. You can even price it out with their site.

Offline savuporo

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With Chris's permission, an update on this mission. Its now launching on ULA (I assume Atlas) ...

Okay, they said they 'selected a launcher' before, without any actual launch booking. Is this now a signed deal or is it just more of a 'selecting a launcher' ?
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Offline Phil Stooke

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"(though..., maybe not, since Google nor the Xprize got any mention in the PR...huh?)"

Astrobotic officially withdrew from the Lunar X Prize competition when it became impossible for them to launch by the deadline. 

http://www.spacenewsmag.com/commentary/graduating-from-the-google-lunar-x-prize/

They are flying independently and no longer connected to GLXP.  Nor to SpaceX, making this thread inappropriate for further updates on Astrobotic's mission.
« Last Edit: 07/27/2017 10:25 PM by Phil Stooke »

Online gongora

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This mission doesn't seem to exist anymore.  Astrobotic now has a flight with ULA.  Locking thread.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 04:46 AM by gongora »

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