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Elon's interview at ISS R&D conference

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Grendal, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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  2. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Elon mentioned changes to BFR and BFS. The plan will adjust to be a smaller rocket that can do lots of things besides just focused on colonizing Mars. That way the rocket completes a project that generates funds which then allows a colonization move.
     
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  3. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #3 Grendal, Jul 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
    Dragon 2 will not be landed propulsively. SpaceX is dropping that aspect. It sounded like NASA, which is paying for crew capability, doesn't want it or it won't allow SpaceX to pass its regulatory demands. It may come back at a future time. It sounded like the legs necessary for a landing would be a major hurdle for NASA and landing without them, while possible, is prohibitive against even bothering. SpaceX has to meet NASA's goals to launch astronauts and those regulatory goals are exceptionally high.

    Here is just Elon:
     
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  4. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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  5. hockeythug

    hockeythug Active Member

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    Not going to say a negative outlook but scaled back the plans. Smarter financially.
     
  6. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    @Grendal thanks for posting a link to Elon's section of the longer video.

    The way I interpreted his comments -- and I admit this is partly my speculation -- it sounds like what NASA was going to require SpaceX to do to certify that Crew Dragon retropropulsive landings were acceptable and safe by NASA standards was so onerous that SpaceX decided it wasn't worth it and would cause excessive delays in the Crew Dragon program. So they went with the tried and true parachutes and water landing approach.

    Elon is clearly disappointed, as am I. However, I would not rule out the possibility that in the future SpaceX will do a redesign and provide the capability for retropropulsive landings.

    Also interesting was Elon's statement that SpaceX has come up with a different way to land Red Dragon on Mars, but he gave no details.

    And today after the conference he tweeted, quote: "Plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship"

    So the ITS method of doing a Mars landing remains the same.
     
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  7. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I was also interested to hear Elon talk about the risks involved with the first FH launch later this year. He said there is a real chance that the FH launch could fail, either at liftoff or shortly thereafter, because SpaceX simply cannot precisely model all the possibilities that could occur when 27 engines ignite, as well as just the challenge of synchronizing 27 engines spread across three different cores. He was clearly trying to set expectations to a realistic level.
     
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  8. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    It seems to be that BFR/BFS will be scaled back to a smaller, more multi-functional platform.

    The consensus seems to be that Red Dragon was dropped because it was a waste of time and money that would be better focused on creating the intermediary BFR/BFS system and use that for Earth, Mars, and other projects. The concept for landing D2 on Mars was not as realistic as previously thought. BFS would use something similar to the ITS concept of the entire side of the rocket for atmospheric entry. The larger surface would slow the rocket a lot more and allow for much less fuel use in the Mars landing.

    We'll get much more details at the next IAS conference.

    I don't think anything that SpaceX had planned was impossible. It just comes down to the fact that SpaceX doesn't want to be paying for everything along the way. The current plan has customers footing the bill for the new designs. It's slower but much more likely to actually happen.
     
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  9. Nikxice

    Nikxice Member

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    Have to respect Elon's brutal honesty. Many probably wish he would avoid his penchant for sometimes sounding negative (i.e. talking TSLA stock price), but he's unperturbed by the effects of reflecting all sides of an issue.
    I used to think synchronizing 9 engines would be quite a feat. A few years later, 27 engines tied up inside 3 SpaceX built boosters doesn't seem so daunting. Contrasting with the challenges the Soviets faced with their 30 engine N1 program, today's computer modeling can take away much of the uncertainty created by potential hazards such as rogue oscillations or excessive stresses. Another positive for SpaceX is their ability to simultaneously test fire FH's 27 engines in a brief hold-down test. This should give engineers plenty of data to review prior to proceeding with the first launch. The four N1 rocket failures never experienced any such test firings.
     
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  10. Ben W

    Ben W P85 #61, Roadster #108

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    #10 Ben W, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
    It seems to me that there's quite a lot SpaceX could do to reduce the risk of blowing up on the pad on the maiden flight. Specifically, throttling the side cores _lower_ than the center core for the first several seconds of flight (e.g. 80/100/80) would minimize the shear stresses, which could be the likeliest source of unexpected problems. Once they're clear of the tower (far enough that a RUD wouldn't cause damage to the pad), they could adjust the throttling back to the usual configuration (e.g. sides 100%, center 80%) to safely see how the stack holds up under the full stress load, without risking the whole launch complex. If it behaves as expected, then the next launch can try starting the side cores at 100%.

    I've also wondered why the side cores couldn't be adapted to directly bear some of the weight of the upper stage + payload. (Just add struts?) To the extent this could reduce overall mass because the shear forces would be much less, perhaps it could improve the overall efficiency.

    Of course, IANARS, so it's possible that I'm completely barking up the wrong space elevator :)
     
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  11. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    hmm...I didn't pick up on that. What did Elon say that leads you to that conclusion?

    I was very surprised to hear him advocate for a "moon base".
     
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  12. miimura

    miimura Active Member

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    I think Elon is just opening his mind to plans that other people are willing to pay for.
     
  13. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    I think this is insightful. If SpaceX is effectively going it alone to build a Mars Base, but there are a variety of people that will pay for bits and pieces of a Moon Base, the only reason SpaceX won't help make the Moon Base happen is if SpaceX is paying for it or if the Moon Base technology is clearly non-reusable or even helpful for Mars Base (which sounds flat wrong).

    If a Moon Base gets the technology and economics of Mars Base close, and there are people (governments, organizations) with money that will pay for the Moon Base, SpaceX is ready to be their UPS and get them and their stuff where they're trying to get it to.
     
  14. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I think you are right. Recently Elon has emphasized, repeatedly, that what gets most people really excited about space exploration is seeing humans do it, not robots. Sure, us space geeks think the Mars Rovers are super cool, but too many people just see them as little robots that go super slow and can't do much. In contrast, put a human on Mars and now almost everyone is paying attention and cheering them on. And of course humans can in fact accomplish much more, more rapidly than our current generation of robot explorers, but at a far higher price obviously.

    So my guess is that Elon mentioned his support for a Moon base not because SpaceX would be involved but because it is something that NASA could conceivably pull off (maybe as a joint project with ESA?) and would create public support for humans in space.

    I am sure that Elon has not changed his mind about the suitability of the Moon as the best location for a self-sustaining human colony. He believes Mars is far better suited for that purpose. But if some governments want to create a lunar station he's not going to publicly disparage that goal, he knows that keeping a good relationship with NASA is very important for SpaceX.

    I am anxiously awaiting Elon's plans for how to pay for the Mars project. It seems that the future SpaceX internet satellite constellation around Earth must be a big part of that plan.
     
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  15. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #15 Grendal, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
    Some of these videos seem to missing some sections. I'm getting it from 49:50 in this video:


    My impression is that Elon was expecting someone/government/entity to step up after the last IAC to show some potential to back the company in its ambitions. I think they received less of a response on the monetary side than they hoped for. So now they've learned a few things and are falling back to a "we're going to pay for this whole thing ourselves" plan. I think they've also opened themselves up to the idea that some entities want to do something on the Moon. If so, then SpaceX needs to be willing to take them there and get some serious profits for doing so. The US government has shown a desire to go back to the Moon and maybe NASA has mentioned this to Elon. So if SpaceX creates a super heavy lifter that can do more than colonize Mars then that system can test some of the primary technologies that ITS was based around.

    Just look at the improvements done to Falcon 9 over the years. If you extrapolate similar improvements to Raptor and the support systems then you'd have one heck of a game changing rocket with all the abilities of such a superior system thoroughly tested. With a well tested system like that, Elon could realistically generate a rocket system that could be used to colonize Mars and not have it be too fanciful.
     
  16. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    I just wish he wasn't so dismissive of Venus.
     
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  17. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks,I listened to the video at that point and I had missed something. Elon talked about making the ITS vehicle "slightly smaller" so that it could also be used for unspecified "earth orbit activities". Okay, now I'm really intrigued! :rolleyes: What could that be? A space tourist hotel in LEO? Something else?

    Your comments that such a vehicle could used to establish a Moon base and that possibly NASA could contribute to the cost of developing such a vehicle are interesting but it still seems like a diversion from SpaceX's Mars mission goal. I guess we will have to wait for the Adelaide IAC to find out more.
     
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  18. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Hello Karen. Long time no see back from the Aptera days.

    I don't think Elon is dismissive of Venus. I think he is just focused on his goals and what he thinks will work best. I am certain he's researched Venus and just chose Mars for his reasons.

    Personally, I seem to remember reading that Venus will be easier than Mars to terraform.
     
  19. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    Hi Grendal! So were you bitten by the Model 3 bug too? ;) I'm still sad about what happened with Aptera... but the efforts at making the Model 3 an energy sipper certainly caught my eye :) And my Gen1 Insight has been hitting me with big maintenance bills every year, so it's getting easier and easier to justify the purchase....

    Re. terraforming Venus, there's a whole chapter on it here:

    Rethinking Our Sister Planet (prepress).pdf
    (Lower res pdf here: Rethinking Our Sister Planet (ebook).pdf)

    The short of it: terraforming is hard, no matter where you target. But there are options. :)
     
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  20. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    Hey, who rated this funny? :(

    I think Venus's biggest problem is exactly that, the incredulity factor. Ironic, since if there's anyone who knows about the incredulity factor, it's Musk ;)
     
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