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It's OFFICIAL!!

 

Precursor missions before BFS missions in the mid-2020's.

SpaceX ‏@SpaceX 
Planning to send Dragon to Mars as soon as 2018. Red Dragons will inform overall Mars architecture, details to come.

 

D2%2BLanding.jpg

 

Edited by DocM
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Wow. That's a pretty quick timeline. SpaceX still needs to do test flights; but really most of the micro-atmosphere testing can be done on the ground (and likely has) where they can tweak and rapidly prototype gear without having to send it to Space first.

 

Remember the NASA Plum Brook Facility in Sandusky, Ohio?

 

312733main_vacuum_chamber_full.jpg?itok=

 

Pretty sure SpaceX has one too, and they've put it to work ... :yes: 

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SpaceX has used Plum Brook.

 

NASA is likely to provide a hosted payload(s) and support from the centers, especially JPL and Ames who have been working on Red Dragon concepts since 2012.

 

An experiment laden Dragon 2 will be about 2.5x heavier than Mars Science Laboratory at launch, and 10-12x the landed mass of Curiosity. About 3/4 of Falcon Heavy FT's expendable capacity to Mars.

 

image1.0.JPG

 

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Very, very exciting news! Looking forward to November for sure.

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NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman,

Among the many exciting things we’re doing with American businesses, we’re particularly excited about an upcoming SpaceX project that would build upon a current “no-exchange-of-funds” agreement we have with the company. In exchange for Martian entry, descent, and landing data from SpaceX, NASA will offer technical support for the firm’s plan to attempt to land an uncrewed Dragon 2 spacecraft on Mars.

 

As the saying goes, “spaceflight is hard.” Sending astronauts to Mars, which will be one of the greatest feats of human innovation in the history of civilization, carries with it many, many puzzles to piece together. That’s why we at NASA have made it a priority to reach out to partners in boardrooms, classrooms, laboratories, space agencies and even garages across our country and around the world.


 

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Sept. 9, 2015 Gonzales-Lemke (NASA Ames) Red Dragon sample return proposal, timed for after the arrival of the 2020 Rover.

 

Presentation: PDF....

 

Phone conference: MP3....

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Interesting.  Cool how they put the ERV/MAV into the Red Dragon.  Was wondering how they were going to get off of Mars with the samples.

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This is an amendment to a current and running NASA/SpaceX Mars Agreement.

 

10 page, 3.47 MB document for viewing/download...

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/spacex_ccsc_saa_modification_1_-_redacted_1.pdf

 

Previous 2014 agreement, 16 page, 700KB document

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/saa-qa-14-18883-spacex-baseline-12-18-14-redacted_3.pdf

 

This has obviously been ongoing for awhile now....nice.....:D

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Yes, it has been going on for a while. The NASA Ames concept dates back to 2011/2012, then got real serious when Dragon 2 arrived in 2014. Then the pad abort test proved SuperDraco and the avionics package weren't limited to test stands and PowerPoint.

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I found this quite interesting...

 

Can SpaceX really land on Mars? Absolutely, says an engineer who would know

 

firststage-640x373.jpg

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket begins its reentry burn at an altitude of 70km.
NASA

 

Quote

In September, 2014, a Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida carrying a Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. The capsule carried some notable cargo, including the first 3D printer to be tested in space as well as 20 mousetronauts to study muscle loss. Yet the most far-reaching part of that mission came after the Falcon 9 deployed its upper stage and began falling back to Earth.

 

As it descended into the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere, the rocket's engines fired for its "reentry burn." A few minutes later, the first stage splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, completing one of the last flights before SpaceX began trying to land its rocket on an autonomous drone ship. But even as SpaceX was testing technology needed for terrestrial landings of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket, it was also taking some of its first steps toward landing on Mars.

 

That's because during that launch—and about 10 others since late 2013—SpaceX has quietly been conducting the first flight tests of a technology known as supersonic retro-propulsion—in Mars-like conditions. It did so by firing the Falcon 9's engines at an altitude of 70km down through 40km, which just happens to be where the Earth's thin upper atmosphere can act as a stand-in for the tenuous Martian atmosphere. Therefore, as the Falcon thundered toward Earth through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds and its engines fired in the opposite direction, the company might as well have been trying to land on Mars.

 

These test flights were classic SpaceX—flying a primary mission, such as delivering cargo to the International Space Station, but also piggybacking other technology demonstration missions on top of it. The company has also found ways to build Earth-based systems that will also translate to Mars. The Dragon 2 spacecraft, built to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, has eight SuperDraco thrusters to power its launch abort system if the capsule must quickly separate from its rocket during an emergency. But SpaceX also plans to use the same thrusters for supersonic retro-propulsion in the Martian atmosphere.

 

Quote

Before these recent tests, however, engineers weren't sure whether this kind of advanced propulsion would work. NASA and US universities had tested supersonic retro-propulsion in computational fluid dynamics simulations and small-scale air-in-air wind tunnel tests, but not live flights. Understandably, a lot of engineers were concerned about the stability of a vehicle during the turbulent period when its rocket engine fired directly into an atmosphere it was rushing into at supersonic speeds.

 

SpaceX began testing supersonic retro-propulsion as far back as September 2013, when the company first flew its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, v1.1, which had about 60 percent more thrust than the original. But even as this vehicle made its maiden flight—a test flight really—SpaceX started collecting data on a controlled descent in the Martian-relevant conditions of the upper atmosphere. A year later, amid growing interest from NASA, a space agency WB-57 airplane and a Navy NP-3D Orion aircraft trailed the Falcon as it reentered the atmosphere to capture images and thermal data.

Among those eagerly watching the flight tests was Bobby Braun, an aerospace engineer at Georgia Institute of Technology, who has led a joint research effort with SpaceX and NASA to study supersonic retro-propulsion. "I have access to all of that data, and I’ll tell you that it's worked like a charm every time," he told Ars. "The stability was manageable, and while there are still some issues, there are no showstoppers."

 

Quote

Just three months after that September 2014 test flight with government planes collecting data, NASA had seen enough, too. It signed a Space Act Agreement with SpaceX, saying it would provide assistance with deep-space navigation and communications if the company would share its flight data. If NASA were to try to conduct that kind of test on its own, the cost would probably exceed $2.5 billion or $3 billion, Braun said. "It’s a great deal for NASA, in my opinion, and it’s a great deal for SpaceX."

 

more at the link...

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/04/spacex-has-already-demonstrated-its-key-mars-landing-tech-with-the-falcon-9/

 

Commercial Rocket Test Helps Prep for Journey to Mars

video is 2:37 min.

 

Quote

Published on Oct 17, 2014
NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.

 

 

I don't think it was a coincidence that the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) testing was canned at the same time as this announcement was released (Mars joint mission).

 

This is a good deal, availability of a huge NASA data base with specialists, and particularly, the high cost of DSN operations (Deep Space Network).

 

:D

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LDSD's parachute failed miserably in its last test, not exactly instilling confidence.

 

OTOH, SpaceX has been flying big boosters through LDSD's work environment, and worse, with scary success.

 

SpaceX's landing team are now the go-to guys for supersonic retro-propulsion. Period. No contest. Not even close.

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:D

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Little bit of a positive and negative rant/info to add here. Something that I need to get off my mind that's relevant to the topic.

 

I took my Final Exam in Algebra last night. What's funny about this is that I ran afoul of my Professor in a completely unique way that turned into an argument. Remember the rule about "not hacking off your Professors"? I've gone one better and bruised his ego without meaning to.

 

One of the questions on the exam was "Calculate the weight of someone weighing 150 pounds on Earth if they were standing on Mars. How much would they weigh?" No problem. Mars' gravity is 0.38:1 compared to Earth; so I fed it into my calculator and it came out as 57 pounds (150*0.38=57). Space nuts like us know these things; especially when it comes to our favourite places.

 

My answer was marked incorrect.

 

So I challenged the answer in the Exam; and I provided the reasoning behind my challenge; as well as the factual data from a number of scientifically valid sources, including NASA and the ESA.

 

To prove the point further, I directed my Professor to the University of Montana who has Mass Body Calculators for every major and many minor Planetary and Sub-Planetary Body in the Solar System. These are the tools that Universities use to design their gear that will be going places. These aren't just there for show, they serve a purpose.

 

For all of my attempts to reverse the incorrect answer (which I'm viewing as an injustice to my grade at this point), and to provide sound, scientifically valid data to support my position, my Professor's math wasn't coming out the same way and therefore he was right and was wrong; and I owed him an apology. That's the short and long of it. He wouldn't budge.

 

I realize that it's quite a petty thing -- one wrong answer surely won't make much of a difference? And no, it didn't; I passed my exam and did fine. My point is that my Professor is representative of a problem that I have observed in the OldSpace versus NewSpace "war" (if there is such a thing), just on a difference scale. The "old guard" can't or won't accept corrections. "What they think they know is what they know, and that's that,". The mentality that a whippersnapper would have the audacity to challenge them on anything?? Absurd!

 

So yeah ... let the naysayers and the "Old Guard" keep being as closed-minded as they want. Those of us who want to do things the "new way", because it's better, we'll do it if for no other reason but that we're showing you that it can be done this way in spite of you. We'll do these things because you said we couldn't.

 

Here we come, Mars. Hope you're up for some real, living Humans. See ya soon!

 

:yes: 

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Now I am curious as to what that guy 'thought' the answer should have been.

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1 hour ago, Unobscured Vision said:

Little bit of a positive and negative rant/info to add here. Something that I need to get off my mind that's relevant to the topic.

 

I took my Final Exam in Algebra last night. What's funny about this is that I ran afoul of my Professor in a completely unique way that turned into an argument. Remember the rule about "not hacking off your Professors"? I've gone one better and bruised his ego without meaning to.

 

One of the questions on the exam was "Calculate the weight of someone weighing 150 pounds on Earth if they were standing on Mars. How much would they weigh?" No problem. Mars' gravity is 0.38:1 compared to Earth; so I fed it into my calculator and it came out as 57 pounds (150*0.38=57). Space nuts like us know these things; especially when it comes to our favourite places.

 

My answer was marked incorrect.

 

:yes: 

The trouble is, and this unfortunately relevant in every profession, that if someone truly thinks they are right it can hinder progression an awful lot. Is there any getting through to the guy? Perhaps asking if he can show his method?

 

Odd thing is I've just been on 3 different websites from a google search. One says 57, one says 56.5 and one says 56.3!

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A WayBack Machine moment

 

This started as various concepts at Ames in 2011, 3 full years before the NASA-SpaceX Space Act Agreement started in 2014. 

 

Nature, 2011
http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111107/full/479162a.html

 

In a presentation at NASA late last month, SpaceX and space agency officials discussed sending Dragon to Mars


Sample return (Red Dragon) and an ice drill (Ice Dragon) were the initial concepts. 

 

Since about 2013-2014 Zaptec of Norway, which  has a plasma drill concept, has been talking to Ames who published this in 2014,

 

http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/pdf/2594.pdf

 

Zaptec ZapSpace page
http://www.zaptec.com/zapspace/#zapspace-1

Edited by DocM
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17 hours ago, John. said:

The trouble is, and this unfortunately relevant in every profession, that if someone truly thinks they are right it can hinder progression an awful lot. Is there any getting through to the guy? Perhaps asking if he can show his method?

 

Odd thing is I've just been on 3 different websites from a google search. One says 57, one says 56.5 and one says 56.3!

It depends on your elevation at Mars. There's a curious phenomena that takes place on some smaller bodies -- the lower the elevation, the less gravity there is. Mars is like that. The higher elevations, the gravity is actually a bit higher because of the added mass. It's not much, but it's measurable depending on where you are. At Olympus Mons is where the effect is really noticeable. It's astounding how massive that mountain really is.

 

Visual aids:

mars_90W_triple_print.jpg

mars_90W_freeair_print.jpg

The reason the Mons are represented as "big white splotches"? Because the gravity data exceeded the limits of the detectors. Truth is they aren't really sure how strong the gravitational differences are in those areas; but they're likely to be in excess of +1% and closer to +5% of standard Martian gravity. That 0.38 becomes a 0.394 now (@ 5% increase; or, +0.014 -- substantial enough to need to account for it.) :yes: 

 

And no, Professor never did email me back. /shrug

 

[EDIT] References are here: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/details.cgi?aid=4436

Edited by Unobscured Vision
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Good article in Aviation Week, worth a read.

 

http://www.aviationweek.com/space/nasa-outlines-mars-red-dragon-deal-spacex

 

NASA Outlines Mars 'Red Dragon' Deal With SpaceX

 

NASA expects to spend “on the order of $30 million” helping SpaceX send a modified Dragon vehicle to the surface of Mars in the 2018 planetary launch window, but the entry, descent and landing (EDL) data alone it may obtain in return would be a bargain at 10 times the price.

 

Officials believe an amendment to NASA’s unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with the ambitious spaceflight company could someday help the agency land heavy payloads on Mars using supersonic retropropulsion. NASA already is using infrared photography to study the technique on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first-stage landings.

 

Expanding that work to Mars with onboard cameras, sensors—and perhaps even imagery collected from below by one of the two NASA rovers operating on the planet—would be extremely useful to engineers at the space agency who are trying to figure out how to land 20-ton payloads there.

 

“If we had a complete stand-alone technology demonstration mission, it would be an order of magnitude larger than this [in cost],” says Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA headquarters.
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SpaceX will decide what the payload will be, but NASA has already developed a list of instruments and other gear it would like to send to Mars, if the company can accommodate them in the 2018 window or later. Among them are Mars-weather sensors, instruments to analyze atmospheric dust, and experimental in situ resource utilization gear.

 

Regardless of how the Red Dragon collaboration works out, McAlister says it is a harbinger of the way NASA wants to conduct spaceflight operations in the future. SpaceX is one of four companies with “nonreimbursable” SAAs awarded in December 2014. The “Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities” (CCSC) effort was designed to make private-sector hardware and skills available to NASA exploration programs. 

 

“That is inherently beneficial to the nation,” says McAlister. “It is inherently beneficial to NASA. The goal of the CCSC agreements was to help accelerate these private-sector activities so that in the future NASA could just buy services.”

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Now we're talking. Forward momentum. :yes: 

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Regarding the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities program in the article above, this is from Dec. 23, 2014. [ ] = my notes.

 

Quote

 

NASA announced Tuesday the selection of four U.S. companies to collaborate with NASA through unfunded partnerships to develop new space capabilities available to the government and other customers. The partnerships build on the success of NASA's commercial spaceflight initiatives to leverage NASA experience and expertise into new capabilities.

 

The Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC) initiative is designed to advance private sector development of integrated space capabilities through access to NASA’s spaceflight resources and ensure emerging products or services are commercially available to government and non-government customers within approximately the next five years.

 

The companies selected for the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities and their projects are:

 

  • [Orbital]ATK Space Systems, in Beltsville, Maryland, is developing space logistics, hosted payload and other space transportation capabilities.[Cygnus-based vehicle habs, small stations, logistics modules, solid boosters & thruster packs]

 

  • Final Frontier Design, in Brooklyn, New York, is developing intra-vehicular activity space suits. [Advanced commercial spacesuits]

 

  • Space Exploration Technologies, in Hawthorne, California, is developing space transportation capabilities that could be used to support missions into deep space. [F9/FH/BFR-BFS]

 

  • United Launch Alliance, in Centennial, Colorado, is developing new launch vehicle capabilities to reduce cost and enhance performance. [Vulcan-ACES]

 

“Companies in all shapes and sizes are investing their own capital toward innovative commercial space capabilities,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These awards demonstrate the diversity and maturity of the commercial space industry. We look forward to working with these partners to advance space capabilities and make them available to NASA and other customers in the coming years.”

>

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Pretty sure ULA's out of the picture for this Mission Scenario now. Shame, really. And NASA throwing some funding into the pot means they want to ensure this one happens. It's SpaceX; so it was pretty much a done deal anyway. ;) 

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CCSC is the run-up to a cislunar and BEO COTS program, and Red Dragon is just the opening shot. NASA is already working proposals for a high data rate deep space data & comms network, starting with Mars.

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