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DocM

SpaceX Updates (thread 2)

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Awesome pic and pick.... Brownsville can use a pick-me-up and it's a cheap area to live as well.

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NASA administrator Gen. Charles Bolden visited Hawthorn today. Note they have the 2010 1st Dragon and the DragonRider evaluation unit. Attendees at the recent Mars conference hinted strongly that the SuperDraco thrusters in those "noses" will be throttleable between 5% and 100%, an outstanding range for a rocket engine of its capability.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1206/14bolden/

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, capping a tour of SpaceX facilities to thank employees for their part in making the first mission by a private company to the International Space Station a success.

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thanks for all the updates as always Doc. i really like Bolden, he's not only a decorated astronaut himself, but he's more of straightalker than prev admins and not so wishy washy.a lot of this is pointing to a Mars mission. I really hope we can still do it this decade, especially if China steps up to the plate.

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SuperDraco firing on its new vertical test stand.

Best guesses are that the nozzle is about 8" and the chamber about 12" x 14", producing about 24,000 lbf of thrust each. It also seems to have an active cooling system for the throat & nozzle. And to think that DragonRider will have eight of these suckers.

https://twitter.com/...831794103664640

Just fired our Superdraco escape rocket engine at full thrust! Needed to carry astronauts on Dragon

post-347280-0-78209700-1340063536_thumb.

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thanks for all the updates as always Doc. i really like Bolden, he's not only a decorated astronaut himself, but he's more of straightalker than prev admins and not so wishy washy.a lot of this is pointing to a Mars mission. I really hope we can still do it this decade, especially if China steps up to the plate.

Thanks to DocM as well! I am still excited!!!

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The new Merlin 1D firing. Imagine 9 (Falcon 9), or 27 (Falcon Heavy), of these things going off at once.

The citizens of McGregor, Texas (site of the SpaceX test center) are gonna need a lot of notice :)

That said - they seem to have simplified this thing a lot. It's about 1/3 lighter and much cheaper to make - the latter because of the use of explosive hydro-forming instead of machining to make the basic shapes of the thrust chamber and the nozzle.

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wow it's actually awesome to see the states fighting over that.

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rockets are always awesome but Doc knows what i want...my VTOL Valkyrie shuttle, and i want it NOWWW!

Valkyrie.jpg

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Just doing some reading on Mars missions.

These Guys,(http://mars-one.com/en/) are ambitious but its good to see they will be using SpaceX for most of their plan.

Doc their NASA missions to Mars being talked about using the Falcon heavy. http://www.space.com/12489-nasa-mars-life-private-spaceship-red-dragon.html Do you know if it is just talk or if it is going to happen?

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A Red/Ice Dragon mission of some type is in competition for a launch in 2018. There was a NASA labs conference a week ago in Houston where Red Dragon, Ice Dragon and Red Dragon-MSL (using the Mars Science Laboratory re-entry and atmospheric trajectory) were discussed at great length.

The conference went well for the Dragon proposals as the interest was high for the idea of a cheap, mass producible lander that could deliver at least a metric ton of experiments; 3x-4x the current capability, and maybe more.

Another advantage for Dragon is that it's massively overbuilt for the mission; it's designed for 1 atmosphere pressurization, but for Mars it won't need that margin. As a result they can turn the metal fabricators loose to cut & weld in recessed boxes in its hull to hold multiple rovers. Add an extensible ramp, winch, and a pop-off panel for each and you're in business.

Want to do a Mars sample return mission? Put a pop-off panel where the docking adapter goes at the top and a big tube down the center of Dragon with a rocket in it. Let the rovers grab the samples, then a robot arm retrieves them for placement in the return vehicle. When it's full launch it from the tube submarine-style. The attached image is pretty blurry, it's a video frame grab off a projector, but it should give you the general ideal. This was one of the proposals at the conference.

If the SuperDraco abort & landing thrusters deliver anywhere near the performance (120,000 lbf of axial thrust) and throttle-ability (5-7% to 100%) they are expected to it's going to be a compelling option.

post-347280-0-12742200-1340773583.jpg

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hahaha as usual Doc has all the knowledge! But you didn't answer plugged's question. i definitely think it's going to happen, big time.

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At this point Mars-One is a concept, not a project. It can't go beyond that until 1) Falcon Heavy flys, and 2) Dragon proves its ability to fly the Mars supersonic retro-propulsion re-entry profile by doing it. The SuperDraco thrusters and PICA-X heat shield are key. PICA-X would get the Red Dragon down to a speed of about Mach 2.4 at an altitude of 1 kilometer, then the SuperDraco's would take over and fly an inclined path to scrub speed then land.

Then a lot of balloons, not just Mars-One's, go up. It establishes supersonic retro-propulsion as a valid Mars entry technique, something NASA has never had the money to test, and the SuperDraco thruster design as a way to do it. Clusters of upscaled SD's could potentially land pretty heavy hardware.

I didn't answer NASA beyond Red/Ice Dragon variants because there isn't one. Other than those everything is up in the air because of budget issues. They can't even make up their minds about next-gen rovers; lots of talk, but no budget with which to walk.

IF Congress were to grow a brain (unlikely) and 1) close un-needed NASA centers & consolidate others, and 2) cancel the bloatware $38B Space Launch System super-heavy launcher, and perhaps Orion because several commercial spacecraft** make it redundant, they'd have several $billion a year to persue them and Mars using existing launchers and Falcon Heavy when it's ready.

** DragonRider. CST-100, Liberty etc.

Liberty being a stealth spacecraft project coming into the light, based on the Orion hull design but made of composites, so it's much lighter and launchable on much smaller rockets - meaning SLS not required. ATK and Astrium building the launcher, which was known, and ATK & Lockheed Martin are working on the Liberty capsule and related systems.

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thanks for clarifying that Doc, that is all true...the recent successes of commercial space have shown we have alternatives, but i still don't mind SLS/Orion, as you know i subscribe to the more the merrier...

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I mind SLS/Orion because commercial would require less funding and, in the case of Dragon, has a leg-up on flight history. $10-20B there would get a lot of results, and redudancy - no more putting all our eggs in a single spacecraft. Challenger & Columbia should have taught us that lesson.

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I understand why NASA wants their own "private" backup, but if this commercial space thing works, and it seems to me very much like it does, then their SLS and Orion is just money down the drain, the commercial versions seems to be both better and cheaper. (At least what SpaceX is showing looks very promising)

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Congress is the main stick in the mud, as usual. In order to fully fund SLS and Orion the $800 million request for commercial crew was reduced to about $550 million, meaning only 2 fully-funded and 1 half-funded proposals will be paid for. Others can participate, but only by paying their own way. Everyone would still get access to the NASA test centers though; Ames, JPL, Johnson, Marshall, Glenn etc.

The early bets are SpaceX (duh!) and Boeing-Bigelow's CST-100 for full funding and either Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spaceplane or ATK-Ariane's Liberty for the half funded slot.

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Link....

Reusable rocket prototype almost ready for first liftoff

SpaceX's Grasshopper testbed for a reusable rocket booster could fly soon from the company's Texas test facility on a short hop designed to demonstrate its ability to take off and land under thrust on a launch pad.

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RELEASE: 12-233

NASA COMMERCIAL PARTNER SPACEX COMPLETES DRAGON DESIGN REVIEW

HAWTHORNE, Calif. -- NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed an important design review of the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft. The concept baseline review presented NASA with the primary and secondary design elements of its Dragon capsule designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.

SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Through CCDev2, NASA is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.

In the June 14 review conducted at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., SpaceX provided details about each phase of a potential crewed mission. This included how the company plans to modify its launch pads to support such missions, Dragon's docking capabilities, the weight and power requirements for the spacecraft, and prospective ground landing sites and techniques. The company also outlined crew living arrangements, such as environmental control and life support equipment, displays and controls.

"SpaceX has made significant progress on its crew transportation capabilities," NASA CCP Manager Ed Mango said. "We commend the SpaceX team on its diligence in meeting its CCDev2 goals to mature the company's technology as this nation continues to build a real capability for America's commercial spaceflight needs."

Safety was a key focus of the review. The SpaceX team presented NASA with analyses on how its SuperDraco launch abort system would perform if an emergency were to occur during launch or ascent. The review also outlined plans for getting astronauts away from danger quickly and safely on the way to low Earth orbit, in space and during the return home.

"The successful conclusion of the concept baseline review places SpaceX exactly where we want to be -- ready to move on to the next phase and on target to fly people into space aboard Dragon by the middle of the decade," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk.

All of NASA's industry partners, including SpaceX, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities under CCDev2.

While NASA works with U.S. industry to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket, to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration of deep space. Designed to be flexible for launching crew and cargo missions, Orion and SLS will expand human presence beyond Earth and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

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Dragon C2+ compilation video - plus a few stills of hellfire

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post-347280-0-52616800-1342573969_thumb.

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hahahaha awesome pics Doc, nothing like nice rocket engines firing!

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Now that it's official that SpaceX has won a full CCiCAP award for commercial crew they've put out a new video. Propulsive landing all the way down baby....

First full up flight in the 2014-2015 timeframe.

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There are two stated SuperDraco tests under CCiCAP; a pad abort and a flight abort - probably at Max-Q.

For tests they'd probably start out tethered like Masten and Armadillo do, hovering then setting back down. That'll probably progress to a Soyuz style landing under chutes, firing at the last minute, before attempting a full prop landing. They showed the Soyuz style landing in a video 2-3 weeks ago.

Here's the SpaceX NewSpace 2012 video showing the 'chutes & rockets landing. Judging from the captions a full end-to-end test is in the plan too.

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AWST interview with SpaceX's Gwynne Shotwell confirming the much upgraded F9 v1.1 will have an octagonal + center engine arrangement instead of the 3x3 tic-tac-toe of F9 v1.0. This puts the thrust loads closer to the tank skins, which more evenly distributes them, and lightens the thrust structure (engine mount). The center engine adds to steering and, in the future, landing capability for a reusable / landable F9.

http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:04ce340e-4b63-4d23-9695-d49ab661f385&plckPostId=Blog%3A04ce340e-4b63-4d23-9695-d49ab661f385Post%3A8039e573-151a-434a-808d-bb5a8a3ad59b

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