SpaceX Updates (thread 2)

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I will claim my prize! :D


Tom Mueller, SpaceX VP of Propulsion Development, confirmed at a university Q&A that MCT does indeed stand for -

Mars Colonial Transport

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From Elon's Royal Society award speech -

Not worried about CRS-1/SpX-1 engine anomaly.

Expect to launch 4-5 missions in 2013 and very confident about ramping up manufacture.

Dragon 2 will be unveiled soon (rumors abound - just crew Dragon, or a rumored larger 5 meter diameter spacecraft and possibly a different shape?)

Raptor will be a new staged combustion (SC) engine using methane/oxygen, in active development. ISP of 380 seconds

MCT is not an engine development, announcement 2013.

Expecting to demo flyback first stage by end of 2014.

Hyperloop documentation later this year. Advanced very high-speed solar-electric long distance train that runs in a vacuum tube.

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Continued -

Dragon would be useful as a general science spacecraft able to land, for anywhere in the Solar System

Longer term Dragon could be sold to 3rd parties to operate - in an airline-style model

Next goal for SpaceX - resuability - reduce cost of rocket flight from $60m to $60,000.?

SpaceX will test partial resuability of rocket next year, see full resuability in 5/6 years time.

Prefers Big Smart Booster, turbopumps are a good thing, pressure fed not sufficient for deep space.

Definitely need a new engine for going to Mars.

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what do you mean new engine for Mars? I thought Red Dragon was based on existing parts?

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Red Dragon leverages SuperDraco thrusters for landing, but someting else with a very high specific specific impulse (effiiciency) is needed for the Earth-Mars transfer vehicle.

This could be a plasma drive, and a solar powered one (SEP = solar-electric propulsion) has been in SpaceX's future plans for 5 years. Such a drive would only require a few hundred kilograms of fuel instead of a few hundred metric tons - allowing a much higher mass fraction to be cargo. SEP would also allow for cargo tugs and s MUCH faster trip because of its outrageously high exhaust velocity.

Musk has experience with solar through his Solar City company, they rolled their own 5+ kWh units for Dragon, and there are several good plasma engine designs they could use.

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Musk interview with NewSpaceWatch has this tidbit, with him discussing the in development Raptor staged combustion methane engine -

"Perhaps what's more interesting is the spaceship attached to it"

I take from this -

1) the Raptor is attached to a spaceship, not to a launcher or stage, and

2) that spaceship is possibly very different than the COTS / CCiCAP Dragon we're used to.

The size estimates for Raptor range from 150,000 lb-f thrust to over 1.5 million lb-f thrust, larger than the Saturn V's F1 engine. Very big for a second stage. A spaceship with a large methane engine is indeed well outside of the existing paradigm. Are they planning something in the Nautilus-X class? Time will tell; Musk is supposed to lay out their future plans sometime in 2013, so stay tuned....

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