Author Topic: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?  (Read 55567 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #80 on: 06/11/2012 06:28 pm »

1.  Look at how many rich folks are willing to put funds into developing their own launch technology.

2.    Supporting a Mars mission with an existing rocket and vehicle is a) cheaper, b) less risky, c) quicker, and d) more gratifying.     Of course they'll fund it.


1.  Not an applicable analogy.

2.  Meaningless. There is no return for investors.

Of course, they won't fund it.

It wasn't an analogy, and the two parts of the paragraphs are not stand-alone sentences.  The first is an observation, and the second compares the proposition at hand to it, which makes it both applicable and meaningful.

As for ROI, none of these people are in it for a 5-year ROI.  They do it because they've got more money than they can spend, so they LIKE to do it.


Going to Mars and building a launch vehicle are two different things.  Building launch vehicles has a chance on ROI.  No one has the money to fund Mars missions
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 06:32 pm by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #81 on: 06/11/2012 06:30 pm »

There's no ROI in buying a luxury yacht either, but obviously people do.  It's just that some people find things like funding a Mars mission more gratifying than a yacht. (or they already have one)


Unsubstantiated.  No one has unfunded a Mars mission, hence, no gratification, therefore your comparison is meaningless.

Online meekGee

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #82 on: 06/11/2012 06:34 pm »

There's no ROI in buying a luxury yacht either, but obviously people do.  It's just that some people find things like funding a Mars mission more gratifying than a yacht. (or they already have one)


Unsubstantiated.  No one has unfunded a Mars mission, hence, no gratification, therefore your comparison is meaningless.

So again, you're saying that won't fund it because they haven't funded it yet.

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Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #83 on: 06/11/2012 06:52 pm »

There's no ROI in buying a luxury yacht either, but obviously people do.  It's just that some people find things like funding a Mars mission more gratifying than a yacht. (or they already have one)


Unsubstantiated.  No one has unfunded a Mars mission, hence, no gratification, therefore your comparison is meaningless.

So again, you're saying that won't fund it because they haven't funded it yet.


No, I never said that once, much less again.  Just pointing out all the flaws in your logic, such as somebody finding gratification in funding a Mars mission when no one has done it yet.

Online meekGee

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #84 on: 06/11/2012 06:56 pm »

There's no ROI in buying a luxury yacht either, but obviously people do.  It's just that some people find things like funding a Mars mission more gratifying than a yacht. (or they already have one)


Unsubstantiated.  No one has unfunded a Mars mission, hence, no gratification, therefore your comparison is meaningless.

So again, you're saying that won't fund it because they haven't funded it yet.


No, I never said that once, much less again.  Just pointing out all the flaws in your logic, such as somebody finding gratification in funding a Mars mission when no one has done it yet.


Then I'll be specific.

The question was why would anyone fund a Mars mission. "Would" used here in a conditional future-tense.

My answer was, they'd do it because of gratification.

Your response was - but there is no gratification since nobody did it yet.

Circular.

k?
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Offline mr. mark

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #85 on: 06/11/2012 07:10 pm »
Mars is a driving company goal and a motivating factor in SpaceX employee relations. They are convinced they are working towards a Mars goal. I've talked with some of them and it's the first thing out of their mouths. It's a mantra for them. I talked with one the other day discussing the MARS 1 mission. Evidently, it was all the talk on the factory floor. SpaceX employees are driven and goal motivated.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 07:15 pm by mr. mark »

Offline charliem

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #86 on: 06/11/2012 07:19 pm »
Remember the reason Elon Musk said was the main one for he ending in the launch business?

He wanted to send a mission to Mars on his own money, but it was too expensive.

You can take that as proof that no one's going to try because there's not money to make, or you can take it as proof that someone is going to do it as soon as it is affordable for billionaires.

Choose you favorite.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 07:20 pm by charliem »

Offline mr. mark

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #87 on: 06/11/2012 07:24 pm »
What SpaceX is counting on is that due to budget constraints NASA is going to need them to do some work in BEO with a focus on Mars based missions. In other words SpaceX is like a race car that is drafting behind another one (NASA). If you know something about racing you'll get my meaning.

Online meekGee

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #88 on: 06/11/2012 07:31 pm »
Remember the reason Elon Musk said was the main one for he ending in the launch business?

He wanted to send a mission to Mars on his own money, but it was too expensive.

You can take that as proof that no one's going to try because there's not money to make, or you can take it as proof that someone is going to do it as soon as it is affordable for billionaires.

Choose you favorite.


As I know the story, it was too expensive to go to Mars on existing launchers, so he got into the launch business with the express purpose of going to Mars.   Everything Elon has said to date corroborates this.

Anyway, aside from the Billionaire funded option, consider SpaceX's recent history:
"Stop talking about a rocket, build one and we'll believe you" -->
"Stop talking about a big rocket, build one and we'll believe you" -->
"Stop talking about a capsule... " etc.

This will no doubt continue. But then for the same people to say "there's no point in sending a Dragon to Mars"?

No value in validating subsystems, hardware and software?
No value in validating operations?
No PR value?  motivational value?

Hell if they can just get there in one piece it's worth their own $.
If they can land, or return w/o landing - even more so.

If you're looking for ROI within that single flight, then you're just looking wrong.
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Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #89 on: 06/11/2012 07:42 pm »

No value in validating subsystems, hardware and software?


It doesn't nothing of the sort.  Dragon as it exists can not perform the mission

Offline DaveH62

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #90 on: 06/11/2012 07:42 pm »
I think the best Mars financial model is dependent on continued commercial success, and winning part of commercial crew.
At that point they will have the credibility to sell a NASA science mission. If they can stick to a ~500 million cost for a solid mission that should be fundable even in a flat funding environment.

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #91 on: 06/11/2012 07:43 pm »
As I know the story, it was too expensive to go to Mars on existing launchers,

Still is.

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #92 on: 06/11/2012 07:44 pm »
I think the best Mars financial model is dependent on continued commercial success, and winning part of commercial crew.
At that point they will have the credibility to sell a NASA science mission.

That still doesn't mean the vehicle can perform the mission.

Online meekGee

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #93 on: 06/11/2012 08:10 pm »
The question is whether you want to emphasize doing it sooner, sending off a "minimally modified" Dragon, or you whether you want to wait untill you built a purpose-built, somewhat Dragon derived, Mars vehicle.

Clearly, the purpose-built lander will be a better vehicle...   The only thing we're talking about here is whether the value of sending off the minimally modified Dragon is worth the expense, and how they'll fund it.

Since it's SpaceX's vehicle and rockets, my estimate is "yes" even if it's on their own $, but that with some creative thinking they can even get some or all of the $ from interested parties.

How minimal is "Minimal" depends on the mission they'll decide to do.
a) one-way trip
b) two-way trip
c) landing

Each of these has different amounts of value in the categories we discussed above. In case of EDL there is value even if there's only partial success.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 08:19 pm by meekGee »
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Offline mr. mark

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #94 on: 06/11/2012 08:18 pm »
SpaceX will most likely go to Mars when NASA asks them to go. If Dragon is the vehicle of choice then it will meet the criteria that NASA has instructed it to do.   
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 08:18 pm by mr. mark »

Online Mongo62

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #95 on: 06/11/2012 09:22 pm »
The question of whether a Red Dragon style mission should use a near-stock Dragon or a Dragon-derived Mars lander probably comes down to cost vs benefit.  What is the total mission cost of a near-stock Dragon plus launcher (presumably a Falcon Heavy) plus one-tonne payload, versus the total mission cost of a Dragon-derived Mars lander (presumably a lot more expensive than a near-stock Dragon) plus launcher plus several-tonne payload?  Is the ratio of mission costs greater or less than the ratio of payload masses?

There are other factors as well -- for example, the payload on the Dragon-derived Mars lander would presumably have much better access to the Martian environment, while the payload on the near-stock Dragon would be capable of arriving years earlier -- but I assume that the cost per tonne of payload to the Martian surface would be the largest single factor.

Of course there is nothing to prevent sending a near-stock Dragon for one or more Mars oppositions, and then a Dragon-derived Mars lander on subsequent oppositions.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 09:27 pm by Mongo62 »

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #96 on: 06/11/2012 09:29 pm »
The question is whether you want to emphasize doing it sooner, sending off a "minimally modified" Dragon, or you whether you want to wait untill you built a purpose-built, somewhat Dragon derived, Mars vehicle.

Clearly, the purpose-built lander will be a better vehicle...   The only thing we're talking about here is whether the value of sending off the minimally modified Dragon is worth the expense, and how they'll fund it.

Since it's SpaceX's vehicle and rockets, my estimate is "yes" even if it's on their own $, but that with some creative thinking they can even get some or all of the $ from interested parties.

How minimal is "Minimal" depends on the mission they'll decide to do.
a) one-way trip
b) two-way trip
c) landing

Each of these has different amounts of value in the categories we discussed above. In case of EDL there is value even if there's only partial success.


They don't have the money or resources to spare for such a mission.   They have other commitments to keep before there is "free time" for such a mission.

And there is no value for just EDL because there is no data returned for no or partial success.

Some objective thinking needed about Spacex, instead of assuming Spacex can and will do everything.
« Last Edit: 06/11/2012 09:52 pm by Jim »

Online meekGee

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #97 on: 06/11/2012 11:01 pm »
The question of whether a Red Dragon style mission should use a near-stock Dragon or a Dragon-derived Mars lander probably comes down to cost vs benefit.

SpaceX has Mars as a prime driver.  And they want it within their lifetime.

So cost to them is more than just $.   It's also "how long will it take", and "how many resources (e.g. development team time) does it require".

As Jim correctly points out - they're resource limited in many ways.  So suppose a purpose-built lander is more cost effective, but can only happen in 6 years, whereas a minimally-modified one can be launched in 2.   That's 4 years of advanced knowledge, and that's tangible, even if not in "straight" dollars.

Also, remember that cost != price.   Their price incorporates amortized equipment, overhead + profit.   The incremental cost of another rocket or another capsule, especially when they are masters of their own schedule, is going to be a lot lower.

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Offline DaveH62

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #98 on: 06/12/2012 12:17 am »
I think the best Mars financial model is dependent on continued commercial success, and winning part of commercial crew.
At that point they will have the credibility to sell a NASA science mission.

That still doesn't mean the vehicle can perform the mission.
Correct.

Offline Jim

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Re: A Dragon derived general purpose Mars lander?
« Reply #99 on: 06/12/2012 12:22 am »
but can only happen in 6 years, whereas a minimally-modified one can be launched in 2. 

No, that is my point, they can't do it in 4 years much less two.

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