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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.

Posted by: RGClark - Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:47 pm
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SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon. 
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Space Walker
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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:07 pm
JamesHughes wrote:
I'm only quoting what Musk said! IIRC he said the parachutes would be a backup to the powered landing system. That's how I understood it anyway, for the manned system at least.


Hi James,

I honestly hope you are right because this would be awesome. But how on earth are the going to land a 3000kg vehicle with 4 downwards facing thrusters which only produce 90 pounds of thrust each. I also don't understand why they would hull up a parachute and a lot of extra fuel just for landing, a complete waste of precious cargo space i my opinion.

cheers,

c.


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:16 am
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9MaFqZUQkE

About 6m50s in to the clip. "Propulsive landing"


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:54 am
Sounds very cool :-)

Can't wait to see that one!

SpaceX is really cooking up a lot ideas and hardware!


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:34 am
Hmm.. quite interesting! So powered landing it is ;) I really wonder how they are planning to pull this one off!


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:22 pm
I reckon Elon Musk has taken a peek at Armadillo, Masten and Blue Origin and thought - "I can do that....."

He is the chief designer.....so I guess he comes out with the ideas and gets people to make them happen. Must make it easier to decide stuff rather than have endless committees.


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:40 pm
I could imagine they will use a launch abort system bit like the "Max Launch Abort System", a system underneath the capsule instead of on top. Might be possible to combining a LES and landing system, would make sense.


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:47 am
In regards to the Dragon being able to perform BEO missions, Elon Musk, and I presume the SpaceX engineers, believe it can. Elon mentioned the success of the heat shield on the Dragon reentry about 8 and 1/2 minutes into Wednesday's post flight press conference. He said the Dragon heat shield was designed to survive even worst case Mars and lunar return trajectories, and from the performance during the flight SpaceX is confident it could be used for that purpose. He then said this opens up possibilities for the Dragon as a potential replacement for the Orion capsule, presumably for circumlunar missions:

NASA and SpaceX Press Conference After Falcon 9 Launch with Dragon Aboard Part 1.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9MaFqZUQkE

And in a later portion of the post flight conference about 4 minutes in, in response to a question Elon says anything the Orion spacecraft can do the Dragon can do and actually more since the Dragon heat shield is sufficient for even Mars return trajectories. And therefore he says for any missions being considered by NASA for the Orion capsule, the Dragon capsule should also be considered:

NASA and SpaceX Press Conference After Falcon 9 Launch with Dragon Aboard Part 4.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOfj-k_Irpc


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:51 am
Another major consideration is the reduced development costs SpaceX has been able to accomplish compared to the usual way of doing things. In this part of the post flight news conference a questioner notes the development cost for Falcon 9, which he implies includes that of the Dragon, was in the range of $400 million, while for the Orion capsule, over $4 billion:

NASA and SpaceX Press Conference After Falcon 9 Launch with Dragon Aboard Part 4.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOfj-k_Irpc

The comparison might be a little unfair in that SpaceX has said it might take an additional $300 million to man-rate the Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule, mostly due to an escape system and flight tests.
But still even then you're talking about multiple times more in development costs by the "old space" companies.


Bob Clark

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Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


Last edited by RGClark on Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:10 pm
IIRC, there was some talk from SpaceX some time back about combining the LES and the descent system, that may be what they are planning.

As to the costs - Musk seems to have really got NASA over a barrel! If someone is providing a service for a 10th of the cost of the government, it's the governments duty to the taxpayer to use that service, unless there are very good reasons not too.

Can anyone think of any reasons? (apart from man rating, which is going to be done)

No, me neither.


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:37 pm
Making sure that old-space companies don't lose their contracts, so that they will continue to be able to make campaign contributions and employ voters, so that the relevant Senators' jobs remain secure. I don't think Musk has any beef with NASA, he kept talking up their programme management skills in that press conference. The problem is that NASA doesn't decide whether to spend money on SpaceX or on Shuttle-derived technology; it gets the money together with instructions on whom to give it to, and those instructions are written by the politicians in Washington.

So, what SpaceX needs to do, is to make it known far and wide that they are in fact the much cheaper option. While there are quite a few Americans that will benefit from a Shuttle-derived job creation/protection plan, there are many more Americans who don't benefit from it, but do pay for it. If Musk can put enough of the public eye on this wasting of their tax dollars, then it becomes that much more difficult for the politicians to support it, and the chances of SpaceX getting a contract increase.

I have to say that I'm not sure that Musk is the right guy to do that, he looks more like an intellectual engineering type (which he is, of course) than like an ordinary guy worried about the government wasting his tax dollars. On the other hand, it would be extremely difficult to convince the general public to care anyway, so maybe they should just concentrate on getting as much of the commercial market as possible, plus anything they can get from NASA, and then go on a private mission to Mars...

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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:00 am
It may be that this is the kick up the arse that the older companies need to get their own operations down to the costs of SpaceX.

But while NASA stills throws out big bucks to them, I doubt it.

I think Obama being given that tour of SpaceX must have worried a lot of these older, expensive companies...


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Post SPACE X website updated   Posted on: Thu Dec 16, 2010 3:45 am
Space X just updated their website with a very nice compilation of pictures and story of their last flight. No new video yet, but I hope that is coming soon.

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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:53 am
Space launch, manned or unmanned is a small niche market compared to the rest of US defense and tech expenditures. That is why the big primes are not losing any sleep over Commercial Crew.

Being a "maverick" and "shaking things up" is not how you get anywhere in US politics and its government's procurement system. In fact its a guaranteed way of getting excluded from the process.

For all the hype, Space X is really just more of the same. Look at who is on the board and in its key executive positions. Lots of ex USAF and NASA. Look at their hardware. Conservative refinement of existing technology. Look at the their funding and revenue. The government. The Falcon 9 is about as "commercial" as a Delta, Ariana, or Soyuz.


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 19, 2010 11:34 am
RGClark wrote:
This page has this link to a video of a panel discussion at the Space Manufacturing Conference 14 held in October this year:

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010
The Moon, Mars, or Asteroids: The Future of Extraterrestrial Resources.
http://newpapyrusmagazine.blogspot.com/ ... -next.html

About 12 minutes in, one of the panel members made an interesting
comparison between what is considered to be a profitable mine on Earth
and what the LCROSS data suggests is available near surface in some
shadowed craters on the Moon. He said a mine on Earth might be
profitable if you can make in the range of $150 per ton of material
excavated. But judging from the LCROSS data, the minerals available in
shadowed craters might value in the range of $1,000,000 per ton of
excavated material.
This might be sufficient justification for some mining companies to
pay for a low cost exploratory lander mission. For instance the Dnepr
rocket can lift 550 kg to TLI at a cost of $10 to $13 million. This
might be sufficient mass for a lander with a descent rocket with just
simple instruments such as a APXS and infrared spectrometers and radio
transmission capability.


The estimates from the value of minerals in shadowed craters on the Moon stems from the LCROSS mission results that showed precious metals within the impacted crater such as gold and silver:

SCIENCE -- October 21, 2010 at 2:05 PM EDT
Moon Blast Reveals Lunar Surface Rich With Compounds.
BY: JENNY MARDER
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/201 ... water.html

Here mission scientist Peter Schultz says the amount of silver would not be enough for mining, but does not mention the amount of gold:

October 21, 2010 | Contact: Richard Lewis |
NASA-engineered collision spills new Moon secrets
http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2010/10/lcross

The amount of gold is potentially startlingly high. LCROSS suggest it could be as high as 1.6%, thousands of times higher than what might be available in even the richest gold mines on Earth:

REPORT
LRO-LAMP Observations of the LCROSS Impact Plume.
Science, 22 October 2010: Vol. 330 no. 6003 pp. 472-476
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6003/472.abstract

The full-text of the article is not free on the site. This Google cache page though has a HTML version that shows the abundance amounts for the various chemicals detected:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/s ... clnk&gl=us

If the actual amount is anywhere close to this amount then this would provide mining opportunities for gold even when you take into account the much greater transportation costs for getting it from the Moon.
What HAS to be done, like yesterday, is to send lander missions to confirm those startling amounts indicated by the LCROSS mission. The LCROSS readings for gold are only upper bounds. It needs to be determined if the actual amounts are really close to that. If so, then this is a real game changer. People have been asking what is the real "killer app" for space travel? IF the LCROSS results are true then you have it right there, lunar mining. Even more, this is in fact a killer app for beyond Earth orbit space travel as well!

Bob Clark

_________________
Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Post Re: SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for low cost trips to the Moon.   Posted on: Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:59 pm
JamesG wrote:
Space launch, manned or unmanned is a small niche market compared to the rest of US defense and tech expenditures. That is why the big primes are not losing any sleep over Commercial Crew.

Being a "maverick" and "shaking things up" is not how you get anywhere in US politics and its government's procurement system. In fact its a guaranteed way of getting excluded from the process.

For all the hype, Space X is really just more of the same. Look at who is on the board and in its key executive positions. Lots of ex USAF and NASA. Look at their hardware. Conservative refinement of existing technology. Look at the their funding and revenue. The government. The Falcon 9 is about as "commercial" as a Delta, Ariana, or Soyuz.


May not be purely commercial, but it's lot more commercial than the current incumbents. Crew transport is good advertising, as is commercial satellite. How long before even the military realises it can put 10 times the hardware in orbit for the same launch cost and uses that to push down the prices of the current launches? Or goes with SpaceX?

But I doubt SpaceX is that interested in military launches. I get the impression Musk is only interested in crewed stuff in the long run, and commercial satellite launch and COTS are his path to that - and it should give him the cash he needs for whatever purposes he has in mind.

re: Conservative refinement. Nothing wrong with that. It works, as shown by recent events, and is the cheapest route to orbit using the current known tech. Also nothing wrong with having ex-Nasa,/USAF people one board (they know the ropes and how to work the system), but as Musk himself said, he is in charge, chief architect etc, and what he wants to get done, gets done. No committee work! His purpose is to get humans in space, not to make money for shareholders, unlike the incumbents, and so far he is doing quite well at it with the conservative approach.


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