Author Topic: ITS Tankers for ISRU/Storage  (Read 1288 times)

Online sanman

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ITS Tankers for ISRU/Storage
« on: 09/30/2016 08:22 AM »
Could ITS tankers landed on Mars - like say, on the initial test flights - begin immediately producing and storing Methane and LOX for eventual return flights on the next launch opportunity?

How long would it take to produce enough Methane+LOX to fill the tanker for return flight?
What is the duration of a typical launch window?

If a tanker was launched from Earth at the leading edge of a launch window, then could it arrive and also produce enough Methalox in time for re-launch and return flight by the tail-end of the same launch window?

What other types of ISRU+storage could tankers be used for? Could they similarly be repurposed for N2+O2 production?

When we talk about chemical production plants on Mars, can the tankers adequately serve in these roles - whether for Methalox or anything else - at least for the early period during a colony's bootstrapping effort?


Could/should tankers be sent to the asteroid belt, or nearby moons, or other places to harvest resources out there, perhaps spending all of their time in space as flying gas-stations?

If so, then where are the best places to send them? And to harvest what types of resources? Could Ammonia be harvested from comets/icy-bodies for some useful purpose?

Since a lot of asteroids are rubble piles, how could tankers be modified/adapted to ingest rubble/ore and smelt it in place before transporting it back? Could the standard 200kW solar array be adequate for smelting, or would you need something much more powerful, like even a nuclear reactor?



Offline Dante80

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Re: ITS Tankers for ISRU/Storage
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2016 08:44 AM »
I don't think that the tankers are designed with a 200kw solar array in mind (never mind a cargo hold or an ISRU component). They are simpler, cut down unmmanned versions of the spaceship built for rapid LEO refuelling, Earth re-entry and rapid re-usability/turnaround.

I can imagine someone paying SpaceX for custom variants or applications, fit for specific missions (like filling a NEO or cislunar depot for example). This is not something that SpaceX themselves would go after though, the purpose of the starting architecture is to be as lean and mean as possible (for the goals attached of course).
« Last Edit: 09/30/2016 08:51 AM by Dante80 »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: ITS Tankers for ISRU/Storage
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2016 09:10 AM »
Having these tankers in LEO would create a lot possibilities for F9 and FH if they had Raptor US.

Online sanman

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Re: ITS Tankers for ISRU/Storage
« Reply #3 on: 09/30/2016 09:30 AM »
I don't think that the tankers are designed with a 200kw solar array in mind (never mind a cargo hold or an ISRU component). They are simpler, cut down versions of the spaceship built for LEO refuelling and Earth re-entry.

Yeah, but was imagining there'd be enough standardization among these models to potentially allow the 200kW solar array to be fitted onto the tanker, to perhaps use it for ISRU or space-harvesting.

If you send tankers to Mars early on with panels attached, then this could power your Sabatier/ISRU to create fuel reserves, or reserves of breathing gas (N2+O2), etc which would be readily available for future arrivals. It seems to me that ISRU and relaunch are something you want to validate and measure early on, because there's a whole lot riding on that. By getting data on ISRU performance ASAP, then you'll be able to use it to optimize your process.
 
If robot tankers could eventually harvest resources in space, above the laborious gravity wells, then those resources (eg. fuel, air) could be made available at cheaper cost than flying them up there. They could also enable travel to places farther out in the solar system, even if most of these are unmanned voyages.

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