Author Topic: Speculation and Discussion: Crew for first SpaceX Mars mission  (Read 40966 times)

Online meekGee

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My prediction is that the MCT transportation system will be used to support a small first crew in a very traditional way (saturate them with supplies) and have them set up the rest of this first technology set while dependent on the supplies.

So you won't have "ISRU working and tanks are full" before the first crew launches.  This probably shortens the timeline by several synods.


Looking forward to next month...

That was my expectation too. Elon Musk stated clearly the opposite, there would be fuel ready when people land but he has changed his mind before.

But about his announcement. If this becomes a generic statement about a colony without detailed announcement of the BFR/BFS architecture it is not what was announced. It would be a let down and a retreat from his announcement. I cannot believe that yet, just from this eMail by the organizer.

If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.
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Offline mikelepage

I think what I'm looking for/hoping for is a design for a transportation architecture that implicitly (or explicitly) directs how the colonisation is going to happen.

The analogy that comes to mind for me is the 1953 Watson and Crick paper describing the structure of DNA.  The paper spends 95% of its length describing the "base-pair" structure of DNA (often depicted as the rungs on the ladder), but then they finish with a typically British understatement:  "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing that we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material."  The reason the paper is so famous is that they correctly described a structure, but that the nature of that structure had massive implications for how life perpetuates itself.

Likewise, I expect 95% of the talk will be about the details of the MCT/BFR architecture, but I'm hoping those details will have some iterative/additive element that makes it clear how and why a colony will naturally build up over time.  I'm prepared for it to actually be quite underwhelming (like the original iPhone was in some respects), but it should have some new thinking that will similarly induce a paradigm change.

Online docmordrid

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>
I'm prepared for it to actually be quite underwhelming (like the original iPhone was in some respects), but it should have some new thinking that will similarly induce a paradigm change.

If the reported details are anything near correct it'll be anything but underwhelming. To toss 100, or even 50, tonnes to the Martian surface would need a system of unprecedented scale.
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Online meekGee

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I think the scale of "underwhelm" has shifted somewhat....  :)
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Offline Aussie_Space_Nut

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My prediction is that the MCT transportation system will be used to support a small first crew in a very traditional way (saturate them with supplies) and have them set up the rest of this first technology set while dependent on the supplies.

So you won't have "ISRU working and tanks are full" before the first crew launches.  This probably shortens the timeline by several synods.


Looking forward to next month...

That was my expectation too. Elon Musk stated clearly the opposite, there would be fuel ready when people land but he has changed his mind before.

But about his announcement. If this becomes a generic statement about a colony without detailed announcement of the BFR/BFS architecture it is not what was announced. It would be a let down and a retreat from his announcement. I cannot believe that yet, just from this eMail by the organizer.

If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

I like meekGee's reasoning here. The reason why robots work so well here on Earth is that they have a human nearby. I have many years programming CNC Machines. I am yet to see a machine that can look at a drawing/model and come up with an approach, treat each feature wth the respect it needs, choose the holding technique, cutting tools, fixtures, etc, etc. SciFi robots simply do not exist except in our imaginations. I support the idea of a minimal human advance construction team. I also think that their "escape vehicle" will utilise fuel transported from Earth.

All bets off if Mr Musk has been developing AI on the side though! ;-)

Offline mikelepage

>
I'm prepared for it to actually be quite underwhelming (like the original iPhone was in some respects), but it should have some new thinking that will similarly induce a paradigm change.

If the reported details are anything near correct it'll be anything but underwhelming. To toss 100, or even 50, tonnes to the Martian surface would need a system of unprecedented scale.

Sure, and we already know that's on the cards - and they've already said people will think them crazy for attempting it.  The architecture itself will be audacious no doubt, I just meant I'm prepared for the presentation to be underwhelming in terms of new details.

(I know, I know, it's probably going to be awesome - I'm just trying not to get too hyped, okay?)


Offline Aussie_Space_Nut

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Yes the suspense is driving us all crazy.

I feel like that kid who keeps getting told "we will see" when they ask for a bicycle for Christmas, and it gets put off for like 5 years!

Offline Zed_Noir

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I think there's virtually zero chance that the first crew to land on Mars won't include at least one NASA astronaut (if not several). How that gets worked out, I have no idea, but I'm sure it will.
Think the presence of a token NASA PERSON depends on how the folks at Hawthorne and at the Hill are getting along plus some substantial NASA incentives. And no civil servant will be the first person stepping onto Mars from a BFS.


Offline mikelepage

I think there's virtually zero chance that the first crew to land on Mars won't include at least one NASA astronaut (if not several). How that gets worked out, I have no idea, but I'm sure it will.
Think the presence of a token NASA PERSON depends on how the folks at Hawthorne and at the Hill are getting along plus some substantial NASA incentives. And no civil servant will be the first person stepping onto Mars from a BFS.
I find it curious that you think the inclusion of a NASA person would be "token".  It's not like they spend a decade training for these things or anything ::) I would expect the first crew will be 100% NASA people, or at least, 100% US citizens trained at NASA astronaut training centres, what with ITAR and all.  Training up astronauts is expensive and SpaceX has no need to duplicate that process in house.  At least, not for the foreseeable future.

Offline guckyfan

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I find it curious that you think the inclusion of a NASA person would be "token".  It's not like they spend a decade training for these things or anything ::) I would expect the first crew will be 100% NASA people, or at least, 100% US citizens trained at NASA astronaut training centres, what with ITAR and all.  Training up astronauts is expensive and SpaceX has no need to duplicate that process in house.  At least, not for the foreseeable future.

The problem is that I believe NASA would not make that decision more than 2 years before the flight, that is after the first unmanned MCT has landed. No 10 year training, more like "hop on or stay home".

SpaceX doing a base or start colonization will require a totally different type of people than a NASA astronaut.

Offline Zed_Noir

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I think there's virtually zero chance that the first crew to land on Mars won't include at least one NASA astronaut (if not several). How that gets worked out, I have no idea, but I'm sure it will.
Think the presence of a token NASA PERSON depends on how the folks at Hawthorne and at the Hill are getting along plus some substantial NASA incentives. And no civil servant will be the first person stepping onto Mars from a BFS.
I find it curious that you think the inclusion of a NASA person would be "token".  It's not like they spend a decade training for these things or anything ::) I would expect the first crew will be 100% NASA people, or at least, 100% US citizens trained at NASA astronaut training centres, what with ITAR and all.  Training up astronauts is expensive and SpaceX has no need to duplicate that process in house.  At least, not for the foreseeable future.
If as you say the crew will be 100% NASA personnel, then by definition the mission is a NASA mission.

SpaceX will field a corps of Astronauts with transferable skill-sets over multiple missions unlike the NASA method of choreography and rehearsals for each mission task. In other words as spacecraft crewman instead as constructors or as technicians for unique experiments.

Are you serious about your ITAR reference? That no non-US citizen will be allow on the 1st Mars flight. While expecting experiments & instruments from foreign governments and companies to be embarked.

Since the whole point of the MCT system is Mars colonization. A non-International crew for the first BFR wave will not help with recruiting colonist outside of the US. Figure at least 2 BFR in the 1st wave for safety & redundancy reasons.

Offline AncientU

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I think there's virtually zero chance that the first crew to land on Mars won't include at least one NASA astronaut (if not several). How that gets worked out, I have no idea, but I'm sure it will.
Think the presence of a token NASA PERSON depends on how the folks at Hawthorne and at the Hill are getting along plus some substantial NASA incentives. And no civil servant will be the first person stepping onto Mars from a BFS.
I find it curious that you think the inclusion of a NASA person would be "token".  It's not like they spend a decade training for these things or anything ::) I would expect the first crew will be 100% NASA people, or at least, 100% US citizens trained at NASA astronaut training centres, what with ITAR and all.  Training up astronauts is expensive and SpaceX has no need to duplicate that process in house.  At least, not for the foreseeable future.

Several things:
1. Have long said that NASA won't pass up a ride that they can actually afford, so NASA will be on board. 
2. The Astros would quit en mass if BFS left without them.
3. Extensive NASA training... but for what?  Is NASA's legacy training the right stuff?
4. Hands on software development/IT/modern computing environments will probably be number one on skills list.  Is NASA selecting Astros for this skill set (since their systems use fairly antiquated computing resources)?
5. Hands-on hardware development/CAD/additive manufacturing/carbon composite repair/cable harness repair/cryogenic systems and similar shop floor/test facility/launch operations skills will be essential.  Is NASA selecting for these skills?

NASA Astro's are incredibly qualified for what they do -- truly the best and brightest.  But, are they selected and trained for SpaceX's class of systems and way of doing business?  I'd suggest that the best candidate pool for establishing early outposts on Mars is currently working in Hawthorne, McGregor, etc. 
« Last Edit: 08/22/2016 12:12 pm by AncientU »
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Offline guckyfan

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There will be no commander from NASA, no pilot. They can send a geologist, a biologist a flight surgeon, if they have that kind of astronauts in training.

But they have people with foresight at NASA. Maybe without talking too much about it, they will start training the right kind of people, that will be ready to go when the chance comes and that have tasks to do once they get to Mars.

Online Robotbeat

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My prediction is that the MCT transportation system will be used to support a small first crew in a very traditional way (saturate them with supplies) and have them set up the rest of this first technology set while dependent on the supplies.

So you won't have "ISRU working and tanks are full" before the first crew launches.  This probably shortens the timeline by several synods.


Looking forward to next month...

That was my expectation too. Elon Musk stated clearly the opposite, there would be fuel ready when people land but he has changed his mind before.

But about his announcement. If this becomes a generic statement about a colony without detailed announcement of the BFR/BFS architecture it is not what was announced. It would be a let down and a retreat from his announcement. I cannot believe that yet, just from this eMail by the organizer.

If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

I like meekGee's reasoning here. The reason why robots work so well here on Earth is that they have a human nearby. I have many years programming CNC Machines. I am yet to see a machine that can look at a drawing/model and come up with an approach, treat each feature wth the respect it needs, choose the holding technique, cutting tools, fixtures, etc, etc. SciFi robots simply do not exist except in our imaginations. I support the idea of a minimal human advance construction team. I also think that their "escape vehicle" will utilise fuel transported from Earth.

All bets off if Mr Musk has been developing AI on the side though! ;-)
True for CNC machines, but with 3D printers with dissolvable supports, you can throw in a drawing file any which way and it'll work.

Anyway, that's not the sort of robots SpaceX will be sending. For example: Imagine a big roomba that scoops up regolith randomly from a designated area and plops it into a processor that extracts the 1-4% absorbed water. Or a remotely commanded rover that pulls out a rolled up solar array, maybe plops some regolith on the end of it to keep it down or maybe drives stakes into the ground.

Fairly simple stuff, and doesn't have to be purely autonomous.
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Online meekGee

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Even the 3D printer can't work for 2 years w/o a person.

A semi autonomous Rover will also need a helping hand, but sometimes it might be saved with assistance from Earth (e.g. if stuck in a ditch) and sometimes not (e.g. jammed mechanism), but maybe you just send 5 of them, and fix them later when people arrive.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2016 02:41 pm by meekGee »
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Online launchwatcher

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If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

If they're playing off of this part of Zubrin's script, no autonomous regolith mining is needed - they'll bring a tank of hydrogen and synthesize methane and oxidizer from the H2 they bring plus the CO2 in the martian atmosphere.   Only robotics needed will be whatever it takes to set up the power system (either spreading out solar cells and dusting them off every so often, or hauling a fission reactor to a safe distance and turning it on).   

Offline DanielW

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My prediction is that the MCT transportation system will be used to support a small first crew in a very traditional way (saturate them with supplies) and have them set up the rest of this first technology set while dependent on the supplies.

So you won't have "ISRU working and tanks are full" before the first crew launches.  This probably shortens the timeline by several synods.


Looking forward to next month...

That was my expectation too. Elon Musk stated clearly the opposite, there would be fuel ready when people land but he has changed his mind before.

But about his announcement. If this becomes a generic statement about a colony without detailed announcement of the BFR/BFS architecture it is not what was announced. It would be a let down and a retreat from his announcement. I cannot believe that yet, just from this eMail by the organizer.

If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

I like meekGee's reasoning here. The reason why robots work so well here on Earth is that they have a human nearby. I have many years programming CNC Machines. I am yet to see a machine that can look at a drawing/model and come up with an approach, treat each feature wth the respect it needs, choose the holding technique, cutting tools, fixtures, etc, etc. SciFi robots simply do not exist except in our imaginations. I support the idea of a minimal human advance construction team. I also think that their "escape vehicle" will utilise fuel transported from Earth.

All bets off if Mr Musk has been developing AI on the side though! ;-)
True for CNC machines, but with 3D printers with dissolvable supports, you can throw in a drawing file any which way and it'll work.

Anyway, that's not the sort of robots SpaceX will be sending. For example: Imagine a big roomba that scoops up regolith randomly from a designated area and plops it into a processor that extracts the 1-4% absorbed water. Or a remotely commanded rover that pulls out a rolled up solar array, maybe plops some regolith on the end of it to keep it down or maybe drives stakes into the ground.

Fairly simple stuff, and doesn't have to be purely autonomous.

I suspect rovers won't be in it for early missions. If you are sending a reactor, just land on an area with known ice and directionally drill for both water and reactor cooling. Admittedly I have no idea how the drill would work but I think the it is a solved problem in the oil industry.

Online meekGee

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If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

If they're playing off of this part of Zubrin's script, no autonomous regolith mining is needed - they'll bring a tank of hydrogen and synthesize methane and oxidizer from the H2 they bring plus the CO2 in the martian atmosphere.   Only robotics needed will be whatever it takes to set up the power system (either spreading out solar cells and dusting them off every so often, or hauling a fission reactor to a safe distance and turning it on).

That's true too.

There are several ways I guess to avoid "bootstrapping robotically", which I think is difficult.
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Online Robotbeat

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If we're talking about just enough propellant for an evac-to-earth of a minimal crew, then you can send the fuel from earth, since you're using MCTs.   Clearly not a sustainable practice, but still easier than trying to set up a working power and ISRU plant using robotics - I think.

But who knows.  Maybe they can pack a nuclear reaction in an MCT, a bunch of autonomous miner-rovers, and the only reason we're finding it difficult to imagine is that we're not thinking big enough.

If they're playing off of this part of Zubrin's script,
They're not.
Quote
no autonomous regolith mining is needed
Musk says they're going to do it.
Quote
they'll bring a tank of hydrogen and synthesize methane and oxidizer from the H2 they bring plus the CO2 in the martian atmosphere.
Huge mess having to deal with a tank of liquid hydrogen big enough to fully fuel up BFS. This isn't just a small ascent stage, it's a huge rocket.
Quote
Only robotics needed will be whatever it takes to set up the power system (either spreading out solar cells and dusting them off every so often, or hauling a fission reactor to a safe distance and turning it on).
Musk says that robots will be needed for mining water on Mars before the first crewed trip.

EDITED to be less snarky because I missed your "if" at the beginning of your post. ;)
« Last Edit: 08/22/2016 03:11 pm by Robotbeat »
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Offline RonM

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SpaceX and NASA have a good working relationship, why not continue it. NASA and other space agencies have trained astronauts waiting on BLEO missions. If the government chips in some funding and expertise, SpaceX will gladly accept. They might also include an astronaut from the ESA, Japan, or a Russian cosmonaut to make it an international mission.

Depending on the crew size and required positions, government astronauts can be the experienced flight crew and SpaceX engineers can be the mission specialists.

To prevent arguing about national pride over who first steps on Mars, it should be one of the SpaceX mission specialists representing the private citizens of the Earth.

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