Spacex CEO wants to co-build and fund huge Mars colony effort

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by RAMA, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    If he's seriously planning on doing this, it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of hiring...
     
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Speaking about bugging out--did anyone catch this last night?
    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/episodes/evacuate-earth/

    Here, the ponderous, multinational, big goverment craft is the one that worked where the one-percenters were blown all to hell on the anti-matter upstart.

    I think Rand Simberg probably fainted when he saw that one--and then fired off a nasty poison pen--er--stylus. Savior I was probably another of "kiss-of-death" Gary Hudson's ideas :) http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=46291&cpage=1#comment-296310

    Seriously, though, the more the merrier. I might want different ships to go to different destinations--although it might be best to have the rag tag fleet to draw from. At any rate, anti-matter production (even more so than nukes) is a Manhattan Project scale undertaking that would bankrupt even Gates.

    In other news, Alabama's own version of ENTERPRISE character Trip Tucker (i.e. Travis Taylor) will also be back:
    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/rocket-city-rednecks/episodes/alabama-blast-off/
    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/rocket-city-rednecks/
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    National Geographic has been running a lot of bizarrely bad programs lately, I guess their version of SyFy original movies, especially the one where the Earth stopped revolving on its axis.
     
  4. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    If you're going to post tons (and tons) of links to stuff, you could at least make sure they work.
     
  5. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They work fine for me.
     
  6. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Really? cause that one for transterrestrial just goes to an empty comment page for me. some title about 20th century progressives, but no article. And nothing relating to Elon, SpaceX, or recent discussion in this thread that I could find.
     
  7. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In the comment section.

    In case no one has mentioned it, a private company has announced a moon mission
    http://goldenspikecompany.com/

    Some interesting quotes from this link:
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30549.105

    "I was telling people that "tumblr" site was full of nonsense."
    "GS gets a FAIL on mass communications for something so EPIC."


    true--didn't make spacedaily yet..

    Big "admiration" for NASA noted in closing remarks.

    Jeff Foust tweet: "Stern: this would not be possible without our current forward-looking space policy."

    “NASA is tackling the very important and difficult challenges of human deep space exploration by developing systems including the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System. The capabilities being developed by Golden Spike compliment NASA’s deep space exploration program.” said MacCallum.

    Maybe he was being diplomatic. Other responses:

    "But they really aren't taking advantage of the Falcon Heavy."
    "I have a hard time believing a Centaur will ever be integrated with a SpaceX vehicle"

    "There's a bunch of others errors in this paper relating to the Dragon. It seems they've gotten no better information out of SpaceX than us amateurs. I think Golden Spike needs to go pay SpaceX for some mission analysis. That's the only way they'll get real numbers on the Falcon Heavy / Dragon capability."


    http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/...ts-to-fly-you-to-the-moon-for-14-billion?lite

    http://www.newspacejournal.com/2012/12/06/revisiting-the-golden-spike-questions/
    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30549.msg989264#msg989264
    http://www.newspacejournal.com/

    At about 1.4 billion...about the price of an SLS. I really don't see the savings...by Grabthar's hammer.

    Some more interesting blurbs from the net:

    "Even with this “head start” approach, the company will still need
    significant amount of money to develop this system: Stern said they
    estimate the cost to be $7–8 billion"


    "But John Pike, a longtime expert on space policy who heads
    GlobalSecurity.org, said he was "deeply skeptical" about Golden Spike's
    business plan. "If you could do it this cheap, somebody would have
    already done it," he told me.


    "Landing pod looks like-Cobra Flight Pods from 1980's G.I. Joe cartoons"

    "Except that the development cost is far more than $1.5 billion. Stern was clear that it would require multiple billions to get to the first mission. So your first 50 kilograms might cost $8 billion, and your second 50 kilograms might cost only $1.5 billion, or $9.5 billion for 100 kilograms. Hard to see how that is a bargain."

    "And why does anybody believe these numbers? I listened carefully and never heard anybody state who did their cost estimates. Were they done by an independent assessment team that has a reputation for producing accurate cost estimates?"

    This is why heavy lift matters. Had Apollo--or Constellation--been allowed to continue, you could have had real infrastructure to allow for a true moonbase with sizable rovers and an ability to DO WORK. One way or another, BEO is going to cost billions--so you might as well spend a bit more, preserve infrastructure here, and have real capabilities out there.

    Apollo allowed for a pretty good haul of moon rocks that were selected in situ and by hand no less. The LEM, already pushing it mass constraint wise, was a tank compared to this contraption. A thimble too much of regolith and you're not coming back. The LEM allowed a lander which covered more ground faster than any robotic rover before or since.

    GS is basically asking for its astronauts to dance barefoot atop a razor blade over the Pit... that's the margin you are talking about here.

    What they are selling as their plan's biggest strength is actually a weakness. No new LV capability that will allow simpler, more robust missions farther afield like SLS for comparable amounts of money.

    Therefore GS's plan is more "Flags and Footprints" than Apollo itself was--because that's all the blasted thing will hold. In retrospect--Apollo allowed more real science than GS affords.

    Were I a very wealthy investor, I would launch a Bigelow module to ISS, try to inherit that for a song--and put the other 6 billion into MCT and Skylon development.

    Remember, the big arguement against SLS was that it was too expensive--and an alternative could be found. Well, here it is--and many folks seem to take a dim view of that and question its savings too.
     
  8. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yep, for the price of an unlaunched SLS with NO PAYLOAD, you get an entire moon mission. Sounds like a deal to me.
    It's been 40 years, let it go.
    Nope, You'll have a pad queen that gets launched MAYBE once every 2 to 4 years if they can find the money to scrounge for a payload. We've been over this. Seriously, put down the Kool -Aid and start looking at the numbers.
    Agreed. Spend more on infrastructure like EELVs that cost a fraction of SLS and build up infrastructure in space like EML-2 and fuel depots. Get some real capabilities out there.
    Your seriously going to judge their plan based on virtually no details beyond an artist's rendition of a possible lunar lander?
    IF SLS were actually "comparable money" this might be true. Reality is that it will be the usual government work program over inflated costly boondoggle. NASA needs to get out of the transportation business.
    Remember, this is only phase A of Golden Spike's plan.
    Somehow I think the governments that run ISS would turn you down. Musk owns SpaceX, he might take your money, but your not getting the company. Good luck with Skylon.
    It is too expensive and the argument is that alternatives already exist. No searching needed.
    You should actually read what the folks on those forums are saying. They aren't questioning the savings.:rolleyes: They are questioning where the investments will come from. GS is asking for a lot of money up front, but still a small percentage of what NASA would need to do the same mission.

    In fact, that's why I wasn't really excited by the Golden Spike announcement on Thursday - No big investors announced with it. Just more dreamers I fear.

    As the saying still goes - "No bucks, No Buck Rodgers".
     
  9. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    The first comment I saw on it was something like, "Wow, a new startup offering vaporware and PowerPoint presentations!"

    Among my problems with it is that it's too much like Apollo, designing in mission limitations during the concept stage, specifically crew size and duration. They even consider a non-pressurized lander. They might as well go ahead and paint a Red Bull logo on the vehicle because that is a stunt.

    Their concept drawing doesn't include solar cells, so they're either going with fuel cells or batteries (probably batteries because they haven't committed to cryogenics, which would make off-the-shelf fuel cells an easy choice). If they go with batteries (Apollo's LM used 255 pounds of them) then they can't extend stay time and also virtually rule out re-usability and slow, low delta-V prepositioning of the lander.

    People have spent forty years thinking up better ways to do a lunar return, and the internet is full of ideas for it. Although such thoughts might not be official design studies, they'd still be useful, and should at least have been looked at.

    Rand Simberg was scratching his head over this proposal's listing of $100 million for crew training as a non-recurring cost.
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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  11. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Better than Golden spike which will never launch--and their costs were probably on the low side anyway. No diff in the long term.

    That's why I support SLS. It will fly to the moon before GS, or China I hope.

    There is no way to do this that isn't costly, so you might as well get as big a vehicle out of it as possible to reduce risks.
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Considering it won't be operational until 2025 at the earliest, it will probably come in dead last of a field that includes SpaceX, the Chinese and a couple of alcoholic Russians.
     
  13. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm hoping for a circumlunar flight earlier. What I try to keep telling snowjourner is that it isn't just about costs. Curiosity at over two billion cost more than a smaller Discovery class mission atop a block I sent to Europa--and cost more than an LV many times its size.

    Some DoD missions atop a Titan IV rivaled a Saturn moon shot with its payload. You could have had a lot of small, Delta II launched MER type rovers for one Curiosity--but they didn't do that because of the greater capability. At the top level, size is almost irrelevant. To go beyond LEO it will cost billions. So the first GS mission isn't 750 mil-to-1.2 billion--but 7-8 billion. It's rather like what Sea Dragon inventor Bob Truax said--often an upper stage can cost as much if not more than the simpler LV under it that doesn't need as much weight shaved off.

    Something that struck me. I think that the folks behind Golden Spike were really shocked when they were not embraced.

    I think the idea among those who wanted an excuse to launch a lot of standard LVs was to slime SLS advocates, certain NASA centers (MSFC as being 'old hat" as opposed to understanding physics for instance) with the idea being that the same folks they brainwash into being HLLV haters would fawn over the alternatives (i.e. their own products.)

    Instead, they got (almost) the same level of hostility when those concepts were at last presented.

    Could it be that they did their job too well?

    I think the well has been poisoned to the point that space professionals--due to all the sniping back and forth--have lost the respect of the public.

    Now it is true that the best way to get your own project done is to trash the other guys'--but in the rarified air that is real-space where you hear the same names cropping up, it doesn't take much to get the average Joe to throw up his hands and walk away.

    One of the comments from around the web--and this from someone who isn't much of a SLS fan:

    As for SLS, I don't think it has that much of a future, no matter what NASA does. But NASA should still persevere and build Block IA (while quietly shelving everything beyond that), because it may well be the only game in town. I no longer really believe in the commercial alternatives, TBH. SpaceX has already lost a lot of its glitter and seems to me to be going downhill fast (look at the delays and customers jumping ship).

    I don't know about that, but...

    Evolving SLS, even under cost-plus, is nowhere near as expensive as the Saturn V was back in the day. We're no longer dealing with bleeding edge tech in many ways. What's happened since Apollo is that NASA has been steadily starved for funds and proportionally takes up less and less of the federal budget.

    Like it or not, NASA is the only game in town. And since NASA's HSF is now only Orion and Orion needs SLS, we have to either support it or support NASA abandoning HSF alltogether. Which is still an option, since the UNmanned part of NASA is doing fine, and outperforming all other unmanned space exploration programs on this planet COMBINED.

    And that's the danger.

    Personally I also think that if Man returns to the moon, it will be with SLS...or not at all. The in-fighting alone will do everything in. This is why the dual mode of allowing Ares I to die and ceding LEO to Musk, with NASA going to BEO only is a reasonable enough compromise in this political environment.

    Public/private partnerships have worked before, and will work again--if only people will allow for them to have a chance to do so.
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a false equivalence considering that 1) payloads are not launch vehicles and 2) any payload large enough to justify an SLS launch is ALSO going to cost a couple billion dollars.

    Depends on how you do it. An engineer friend of the family once told me of NASA "You can do it quickly, you can do it safely, and you can do it cheaply, but you can only do two out of the three at the same time." IOW, it doesn't have to cost billions of dollars if you take your time and build up that capability quickly, or if you use a technique that doesn't require an enormous Earth Departure Stage (say, ion thrusters or VASIMRs) you can do it cheaply and relatively safely.

    The general public hasn't been paying any attention to them at all; to the extent that they had any respect to begin with, it's undoubtedly still intact.

    I doubt that very much. The Chinese space program is considerably more patient and considerably less sensitive to the kinds of political mood swings that have defined the American legislature for the past ten years. The SLS will probably begin to play around with Trans-Lunar capability right around the time the Chinese launch their first manned missionm (late 2020s or 2030s).