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What SpaceX McGregor Engineers said was going on

Discussion in 'SpaceX' started by Grendal, Sep 6, 2017.

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  1. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Multiple Updates per McGregor Engineers • r/spacex
    This comes from TGMetsFan98 on Reddit.

    3 McGregor engineers and a recruiter came to Texas A&M yesterday and I was able to learn some pretty interesting news:

    1) Yesterday (September 5), McGregor successfully tested an M1D, an MVac, a Block V engine (!), and the upper stage for Iridium-3.
    2) Last week, the upper stage for Falcon Heavy was tested successfully.
    3) Boca Chica is currently on the back burner, and will remain so until LC-40 is back up and LC-39A upgrades are complete. However, once Boca Chica construction ramps up, the focus will be specifically on the "Mars Vehicle." With Red Dragon cancelled, this means ITS/BFR/Falcon XX/Whatever it's called now. (Also, hearing a SpaceX engineer say "BFR" in an official presentation is oddly amusing.)
    4) SpaceX is targeting to launch 20 missions this year (including the 12 they've done already). Next year, they want to fly 40.
    5) When asked if SpaceX is pursuing any alternatives to Dragon 2 splashdown (since propulsive landing is out), the Dragon engineer said yes, and suggested that it would align closely with ITS. He couldn't say much more, so I'm not sure how to interpret this. Does that simply reference the subscale ITS vehicle? Or, is there going to be a another vehicle (Dragon 3?) that has bottom mounted engines and side mounted landing legs like ITS? It would seem that comparing even the subscale ITS to Dragon 2 is a big jump in capacity, which leads me to believe he's referencing something else.
     
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  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    @Grendal thanks for posting all that info, good stuff! I have also heard SpaceX employees refer to the "BFR" and it makes me chuckle every time. :D

    Most interesting thing that you posted, in my opinion, is that Boca Chica will be focused on the "Mars Vehicle". That is what I have suspected for some time now. I would think that SpaceX would want to have their own launch facility that they control completely for launching Mars missions.
     
  3. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    I like the doubling of launches for next year. Pulling off 40 would really clear out the launch manifest. I expect they will fall short of that number but it is better to push hard and fall short than to not try.

    I think the change in tactics for Red Dragon and ITS into the mini BFR (mBFR) will be a sideways atmosphere entry angle (shown on the ITS video) instead of a bottom first entry angle as a capsule has. This allows for a lot more atmospheric braking instead of using more fuel. I'm guessing that they figured out that there wouldn't be enough fuel for Dragon 2 to pull off the powered landing they envisioned. The new strategy should allow for enough fuel to complete a powered landing for Earth and Mars.

    Gwynne Shotwell said that BFR now stands for Big Falcon Rocket. Which is different from Elon's original description for BFR. :)
     
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  4. HVM

    HVM Savolainen

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    If it's like ITS (or BFR/BFS) combining second stage and dragon to a single spacecraft... ? With side mounted heat shield.
     
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  5. ccutrer

    ccutrer Active Member

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    Riiiiight..... ;)
     
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  6. wart

    wart Member

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    It's not official unless it's in writing. Because we know how Elon feels about ambiguous acronyms. :D
     
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  7. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #7 Grendal, Sep 6, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2017
    That is what makes sense unless some genius engineer came up with something very new. We saw the intent with ITS colonization craft simulation was that it had a side mounted heat shield to use atmospheric friction for braking. So you do the same thing on a smaller scale and use for Earth atmosphere as well as Mars. Call it a Super Dragon and make it good for cargo as well as people. In some ways it is combining the Space Shuttle with the original Dragon 2 concept. It seems the government, and therefore NASA, is planning something like a Moon Base. If SpaceX can tap into those plans and gain real activity with their new rocket and equipment while getting paid for that experience then it will likely speed up their Mars colonization plans. ITS was a fanciful concept that would have cost vast sums of money up front with little monetary return. mBFR can test all the equipment that can later be used for the larger ITS plans while bringing in lots of money. With reusability of the entire rocket then SpaceX can actually build an entire fleet of rockets that are already paid for. If you think about it, SpaceX has gained 15 previously flown boosters in just two years. Imagine if the government decided they would build a Moon Base and pays for 50 launches to build such a thing. The Space Shuttle had 135 launches and cost $450 million per launch (according to NASA) and an overall cost of $196 billion.

    Let's go really high and say it costs $250 million to build a mBFR. I wouldn't be surprised if SpaceX would do 50 launches for $15 to $20 billion. I think SpaceX could achieve an awful lot with a fleet of 40 or 50 mBFRs sitting around.
     
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  8. jkn

    jkn Member

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    DC-X was designed to use its flat side as a heat shield. Design has a balance problem. Center of mass should match center of lift. Large empty fuel tanks + relatively small and heavy engine at other end. Crew module in front of it would help balancing engine.

    There are many moon base designs. Here is one:
    Big permanent moonbase by 2021 using Spacex and Bigelow has been the obvious non-corrupt choice for years | NextBigFuture.com

    If Mars mission fails, try again after 2 years. If Moon mission fails, try again when ready. -> Moon base is lot faster to build.

    I have seen/heard 'Big Falcon Rocket' long time ago. It is not a new name.
     
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  9. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    (This is not an attempt to inject partisan politics into this discussion, only to objectively analyze the situation) In the past few months there has been a lot of speculation about what the current administration wants to do in space, and vague comments about going back to the Moon. Given the current administration's extreme difficulties in advancing their agenda in general (an agenda which frequently changes in unpredictable ways), the fact that Congress has to be convinced to appropriate funds for projects the administration wants to embark on, the fractured state of the Republican party (with hard line fiscal conservatives often being the swing vote), the high unfavorable ratings of the president, the acrimonious relationship between the president and Republican congressional leaders, the very high cost of establishing a permanent base on the Moon (likely hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade or more), the Republican Congressional leadership's professed goal of major tax cuts, the fact that relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey and Irma will require hundreds of billions of dollars over the next several years...

    I see no chance that the money to establish a permanent base on the Moon will be allocated during the current administration. Some token funds may be approved over the next couple of years but nothing like what is actually required to achieve that objective. And then in 2021 there will be a new administration with different space objectives.

    I hope that Elon is not expecting that the US government will provide a significant level of funding for the revised ITS (or whatever it is going to be called) architecture. I think he is smart enough to realize that he is going to have to figure out how to fund his Mars colonization plans in some other way.

    I suggest that anyone who thinks that the US is going to establish a permanent Moon base pause and wait to see if the money actually gets allocated.
     
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  10. Chet

    Chet Member

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    In any event, an unfortunate diversion of funds needed to deal with real needs here on earth.
     
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  11. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I am not advocating that any money be spent on establishing a Moon base.

    I do strongly agree with Elon that devoting significant resources to establishing a self-sustaining human civilization on Mars is a worthy goal and is essential to address multiple existential threats to the human species if it remains limited to a terrestrial existence.
     
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  12. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    #12 Grendal, Sep 7, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
    No question that it is questionable that a Moon Base will actually happen. However, I can see some funds allocated to further such an agenda. Constellation was cancelled under the Obama Administration and SLS took its place. It is possible that the Trump Administration could get SLS cancelled and re-purposed for Moon based operations. SpaceX can choose to be an outsider and let the government contractors (ULA/Boeing/Lockheed/OATV) chase the money that may become available or be themselves ready and positioned to take advantage of those funds. Either way, they can have a super heavy lift vehicle for future satellite or orbital transport needs.

    SpaceX will be building a super heavy lift vehicle. The question is who will be paying for rides on it.

    Not to get too political, but I think most would agree that the current administration is focused on a more selfish short term agenda over a long term selfless agenda to protect humanity from a possible extinction event. So definitely no Mars colonization assistance in the coming years.
     
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  13. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    #13 doug, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    I've heard frustrated early Model X owners make the opposite substitution when talking about their Falcon Wing Doors.
     
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  14. sandpiper

    sandpiper Active Member

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    I hate this argument. People always imagine that the money goes into... well... space. It doesn't. It goes to pay engineers, tradespeople, and all of the support people required to pull something like this off. And then those people spend money in their local community. And then that builds the economic base, which helps pull others up the economic ladder. The space program comes with a substantial economic multiplier.

    In terms of where to spend money, there is certainly worse. It builds the technological base and drives spinoff technologies, while improving our capacity for living & working off planet. It doesn't kill large numbers of people on the other side of the planet.
     
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  15. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

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    The "going to the moon and Mars" bit is not the really important piece. The really important piece is building rockets that are cheaper and cleaner for launching more, cheaper satellites. Satellites have been incredibly beneficial and further cost reductions will just make them more useful.
     
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  16. McRat

    McRat Active Member

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    For those who are new to the internet, let me translate this Interwebbyspeak to English:

    "Not to get too political" = "Here comes a bizarre unrelated political rant."

    Because everybody should know by now that Congress is actually in charge of spending tax dollars.
     
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  17. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    That is fair. :)
     
  18. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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  19. Grendal

    Grendal Active Member

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    Here's a fun video showcasing the excitement at the McGregor testing facility:



    From the video, I'd guess that the recent incident happened at the "small site."
     
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  20. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Love the cows. :cool: Thanks for posting, I had not seen that before. Is it new?
     
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