Author Topic: Speculation and Discussion: Crew for first SpaceX Mars mission  (Read 40967 times)

Online Robotbeat

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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.
$5 it'll be like 6 people stepping onto the surface simultaneously.
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Offline Eric Hedman

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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.
$5 it'll be like 6 people stepping onto the surface simultaneously.
If it is, people will examine the video closely to determine which boot actually hits the surface first.  There will be arguments about it for the next one hundred years

Offline Zed_Noir

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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.
AFAIK the only people trained for BLEO missions were the Apollo crews & the future EM-2 Orion crew.

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Depending on the crew size and required positions, government astronauts can be the experienced flight crew and SpaceX engineers can be the mission specialists.
Traditionally the flight crew is the vehicle command crew with the commander as final authority aboard. So it should be SX flight crew with a NASA mission specialist. Otherwise it is a NASA mission.

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Online meekGee

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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.
$5 it'll be like 6 people stepping onto the surface simultaneously.
If it is, people will examine the video closely to determine which boot actually hits the surface first.  There will be arguments about it for the next one hundred years

Simple solution - the Barge effect.   6 people standing on a ramp.  Video cuts out.  Video returns.  6 people standing on the surface.  Done.
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Online LM13

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Simple solution - the Barge effect.   6 people standing on a ramp.  Video cuts out.  Video returns.  6 people standing on the surface.  Done.

Even if you do that, people will look at photographs of the first footprints or look at the boots in museums to see which footprint was made first or which boot shows the most exposure to Martian regolith.  Come to think of it, unless the crew intentionally purges any accelerometer data their suits might collect (for navigation purposes), someone could infer which of them hit the surface first by reading that.

People to this day are arguing over the circumstances of Columbus's birth in an effort to lay claim to the credit for his trip--if some group that identifies with some particular crew member, there will be people trying to prove by any means necessary that Their crewmember deserves all the credit. 

Offline mikelepage

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.
Correct.  Which means MCT/BFR has supplanted SLS, which will give SpaceX the huge sums of money needed to fulfil their ambition of driving for a Mars colony.

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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.

Heck, who can really know?  From what I understand, ITAR has been a huge hindrance to international collaboration by US companies in the past, with non-US citizens required to leave certain meetings just because.   

I'm also just going off the likely progression from the status quo, which starting next year is crew Dragon transporting NASA astronauts, and there will probably be agreements made with ESA, JAXA etc so other astronauts can ride crew Dragon as well.  But just because SpaceX is building crewed Dragon doesn't mean they can stick one of their employees on if there's a spare seat, (although I wouldn't be surprised if Elon talks his way into going to ISS for a week).

Is that really going to change when SpaceX actually builds and demonstrates (uncrewed) MCT and BFR, with Red Dragons already doing ISRU to produce propellant on Mars?  Does congress change the rules once SpaceX is actually preparing for a manned mission? (I'm thinking unstoppable force versus immovable object ;) ) Honestly I doubt SpaceX decides to make all the food from scratch when they can just use the same provider NASA does.  Why build their own olympic sized swimming pool and their own corps programs so they can practice donning space suits and going for space walks to do things on the outside of MCT, or do they just use the same facilities and knowledge base that NASA already has?

Elon has said pretty clearly in the past that it isn't some kind of company dogma that they can do everything better themselves - it wasn't even their intention to build most of their rockets in house - if there's a cheaper, better way to do xyz, they'll use that.

Online meekGee

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Simple solution - the Barge effect.   6 people standing on a ramp.  Video cuts out.  Video returns.  6 people standing on the surface.  Done.

Even if you do that, people will look at photographs of the first footprints or look at the boots in museums to see which footprint was made first or which boot shows the most exposure to Martian regolith.  Come to think of it, unless the crew intentionally purges any accelerometer data their suits might collect (for navigation purposes), someone could infer which of them hit the surface first by reading that.

People to this day are arguing over the circumstances of Columbus's birth in an effort to lay claim to the credit for his trip--if some group that identifies with some particular crew member, there will be people trying to prove by any means necessary that Their crewmember deserves all the credit.

Unless SpaceX says: To avoid having a single person be "first", we've intentionally purged this data from the one second that matters.  Have at it, the data is gone.
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Offline DanielW

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I can only hope that the first words from the surface of mars are "As you saw and heard I have now stepped onto the surface of Mars and that concludes today's broadcast." ;-) Just competent nerds doing nerdy things for me.

Offline Eric Hedman

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I suspect it is likely that there will be a ladder down to the surface that people can only traverse one at a time.  I think the mission commander should go first.  They'll all get a participation trophy for being on the mission.  They don't need one for stepping on the surface at the same time.  And I would expect a short speech that is of the caliber of Neil Armstrong's immortal words.

Offline Ionmars

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Simple solution - the Barge effect.   6 people standing on a ramp.  Video cuts out.  Video returns.  6 people standing on the surface.  Done.

Even if you do that, people will look at photographs of the first footprints or look at the boots in museums to see which footprint was made first or which boot shows the most exposure to Martian regolith.  Come to think of it, unless the crew intentionally purges any accelerometer data their suits might collect (for navigation purposes), someone could infer which of them hit the surface first by reading that.

People to this day are arguing over the circumstances of Columbus's birth in an effort to lay claim to the credit for his trip--if some group that identifies with some particular crew member, there will be people trying to prove by any means necessary that Their crewmember deserves all the credit.
This is what a six-sided die is for.  :)
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Offline raketa

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Fuel ISRU is an integral part of the MCT architecture. MCT cannot fly without it. They need to carry the equipment on the first flights, nominally in 2022. They cannot defer it to anyone in general.

There's a certain set of technologies that have to go together, and it's not a small set:

Rocketry
EDL
Power
On-surface ice mining
ISRU
Habitats
Surface technology (e.g. vehicles, tools)

And it's very difficult to bootstrap it all robotically.

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...
Yes I express same opinion several month ago, small crew that build return capability.

Online meekGee

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There should be a betting market for predictions such as these...  :)
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Online Lar

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There should be a betting market for predictions such as these...  :)
There is, it's on Reddit.  /r/HighStakesSpaceX
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline CuddlyRocket

If it's a SpaceX mission, then the commander will be a SpaceX employee. The company will want someone in command who's answerable to them and not with loyalties to some other organisation. As SpaceX is a US company, and given ITAR etc, the commander will be an American. The first person to set foot on Mars will probably be the commander; the public will expect it for one thing. The safest course of action is to send one person first - it certainly won't be the entire crew; someone will have to remain in the ship as back-up.

Online meekGee

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The first person to set foot on Mars will probably be the commander.

That's the thing that always bugged me with Star Trek...   But yeah.
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Offline apirie98

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I think this whole "whose mission is it?" thing comes down to how the mission is initially contracted. If it's NASA paying SpaceX for a BFS for transportation to Mars for NASA astronauts as part of a NASA programme to location X of NASA's choosing, for NASA's own (probably scientific) purposes, then yes it's a NASA mission.

If it's SpaceX selling seats on a BFS for transportation to location Y on Mars that they have specified and NASA tags along by buying seats, then it's a SpaceX mission. Even if NASA buys every available seat on the BFS it wouldn't automatically make it their mission because the only thing they have bought is the ability to put their astronauts on-board. They may still conduct their own activities on Mars, but the mission of getting to Mars itself (from the transportation point of view) is still that of SpaceX.
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Offline IRobot

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Possible additions: video film-maker; M.D. Specialized in aerospace medicine.
Probably 2 M.D., each one focused on different areas, but both able to perform a surgery.
Especially useful if one of them is the one having the surgery :)

I agree that a media specialist becomes priority if a crew over ten is flown. Same is done with Volvo Ocean Race boats, where the 11th men is a media crew member. He is not only responsible for obtaining images and video, but also to process them and down select for satellite uplink, which will be similar in a crew to Mars.

Sponsors will expect an excellent coverage, could even possibly include ejecting and flying a drone while landing, to obtain an external perspective on the historic event.
« Last Edit: 08/23/2016 12:00 pm by IRobot »

Offline Doesitfloat

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The first space tourists paid millions to go the ISS.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were one or two tourists on the flight.

Offline IRobot

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The first space tourists paid millions to go the ISS.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were one or two tourists on the flight.
They would have to have a very valuable skill, either engineering or MD.

Online Lar

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The first space tourists paid millions to go the ISS.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were one or two tourists on the flight.
They would have to have a very valuable skill, either engineering or MD.

Why? They are just going to sit there for the duration.
Because that's not affordable on the first flight... everyone has to be doing myriad useful things or someone that can and will do so should have been sent....
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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