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SpaceX updates (Grasshopper RLV)

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neoadorable    405

nice, thanks a lot for posting all those. the engineers seem to be enjoying themselves over there :laugh:

sounds like the solar panels can make a huge difference, and i applaud the project obviously, but looking at that crew vehicle...man, she's kinda small for a Mars mission. we need the Nautilus X pronto with a huge VASIMR engine on the back. or NERVA.

but of course i remain a SpaceX devotee (Y) keep forgetting to send for that model we talked about, will wish list it on Amazon in a few minutes

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DocM    16,819

Fort a beyond Earth orbit mission Dragon would be a crew taxi up/down to a larger transit vehicle with habs, a galley, toilets, exercise gear etc. On one of the major space forums a big topic of discussion is if SpaceX has, or soon will have, most of the required tech to build such structures. The consensus is yes.

In terms of propulsion Musk has shown a preference for nuclear powered electric and nuclear thermal propulsion, but strateigically placed fuel depots are cheaper and don't require government regulatory or financial involvement.

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DocM    16,819

Space.com published a neat image of the Dragon/Falcon 9 system compared to other spacecraft, but they missed a few things, si I did a bit of a mashup. Now included are the size of their crew cabins (green), the crew compliment, and the sixe of te disposable mission modules (purple) used in Soyuz and Shenzhou. Enjoy.

post-347280-0-71115800-1326235092_thumb.

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neoadorable    405

thanks for the updates Doc. so if i follow you correctly in my enfeebled state, Dragon will simply deliver the crew to something bigger, like Nautilus X maybe? or a Bigelow ship? i thought Dragon was supposed to go all the way to Mars. and does the Outer Space treaty regulate nuclear power? i thought it was just nuclear weapons testing and other WMD's. can't think of a reason why even something like the REAL Orion would be forbidden if it was assembled and launched from orbit.

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DocM    16,819

Dragon is a crew/cargo spacecraft capable of 3 tons inside, 3 tons in the trunk - not big enough for modules or Nautilus parts, but it will be able to land on other worlds..

The Falcon launcher family can do 10.5 tons now, 16-53 tons by 2013, and perhaps 75-140 tons a few years later. Falcon Heavy (53 tons) is where we can start talking major missions.

Nuclear power in space is fine - reactors need more work to shrink them and RTG's are used all the time. Nuclear weapons are a no-no.

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DocM    16,819

The February 8th launch has been posponed. The possible new date has not been defined, but possibilities center around March 20th because of logistics related to other spacecraft.

The reason is an abundance of caution in this post P-G catastrophe environment. They're going to do a series of software regression tests to make sure new software updates haven't broken anything on Dragon or the ISS, and they're going to check for any new EM interference they may cause.

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neoadorable    405

thanks a lot Roscosmos, you've helped set the cause of space back a couple of years...geniuses. i'm sorry, i don't mean to be negative or go too hard on them, i know it wasn't malicious...but now we're getting perfectly solid mission delayed because of that nonsense. and thanks for the very detailed breakdown of lift capabilities, helpful as always!

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DocM    16,819

http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

2012 | Year of the Dragon

January 23, 2012

Today marks the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar, and this year, SpaceX's Dragon will become the first privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.

Space travel is one of the most difficult of all human endeavors, and success is never a guarantee. This flight introduces a series of new challenges and new magnitudes of complexity; if even the smallest thing goes wrong, we will be forced to abort the mission.

What is guaranteed, however, is our commitment. There will be challenges along the way, but SpaceX will again make history and become the first private company to send a spacecraft to the Space Station. We take this responsibility very seriously and will not stop until we succeed.

Dragon is a spacecraft unlike any other. Not only is it the first privately developed spacecraft to successfully return from Earth orbit, but it is also the only reusable spacecraft in operation today. In the coming days, we'll take a closer look at some of Dragon's advanced technologies in celebration of the Year of the Dragon and the opening of a new era in space travel.

In the meantime, checkout the interactive panorama below for a look inside Dragon in its cargo configuration, as it will be on its first mission to the International Space Station:

Panorama of Dragon cargo racks....

post-347280-0-16425000-1327370409.jpg

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DocM    16,819

Tweet from Elon today -

@elonmusk Elon Musk

Design completed for bringing rocket back to launchpad using only thrusters. Yay. Wings r just dead weight in space.

Which indicates the landing will be done using a cluster of SuperDraco thrusters from the crew Dragon, not the main engines.

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DocM    16,819

"SLC-4 SpaceX Falcon Launch & Landing Complex" !!

(Vandenberg AFB, California - the Falcon 9 & Falcon Heavy site under construction)

Getting ready for the reusable launch vehicles. Nice :)

(Photo: Kim Keller)

post-347280-0-52939900-1327631386_thumb.

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neoadorable    405

Now that's a hopeful sign right there. Its great we have vehicles that can actually land on their own power again.

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DocM    16,819

Not yet, but sure heading that way.

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DocM    16,819

Dragon's SiperDraco launch escape/landing engine firing!!

To get 120,000 lbs of axial thrust they'd need a lot more nominal thrust, meaning that each SuperDraco would have about the same thrust as the Apollo Sercice Module main engine - and Dragon will have 8 of them.

Jeezzzz....

http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=20120201

SPACEX TEST FIRES ADVANCED NEW ENGINE

Hawthorne, CA ? Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has successfully test fired SuperDraco, a powerful new engine that will play a critical role in the company?s efforts to change the future of human spaceflight.

?SuperDraco engines represent the best of cutting edge technology,? said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Technology Officer. ?These engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history and enable it to land propulsively on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy.?

The SuperDraco is an advanced version of the Draco engines currently used by SpaceX?s Dragon spacecraft to maneuver on orbit and during reentry. As part of SpaceX?s state-of-the-art launch escape system, eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the Dragon spacecraft will produce up to 120,000 pounds of axial thrust to carry astronauts to safety should an emergency occur during launch.

NASA?s Commercial Crew Program awarded SpaceX $75 million in April of last year to begin work developing the escape system in order to prepare the Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. Less than nine months later, SpaceX engineers have designed, built and tested the engine.

In a series of recent tests conducted at the company?s Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, the SuperDraco sustained full duration, full thrust firing as well as a series of deep throttling demonstrations.

SpaceX?s launch escape system has many advantages over past systems. It is inherently safer because it is not jettisoned like all other?

escape systems. This distinction provides astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the launch,?not just in the first few minutes. The eight SuperDracos provide redundancy, so that even if one engine fails an escape can still be carried?out successfully.

SuperDracos can also be restarted multiple times if necessary and the engines will have the ability to deep throttle, providing astronauts with precise control and enormous power. In addition, as a part of a recoverable Dragon spacecraft, the engines can be used repeatedly, helping to advance SpaceX?s long-term goal of making spacecraft more like airplanes, which can be flown again and again with minimal maintenance between flights.

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DocM    16,819

A NASA article on SuperDraco. Repetitive bits edited out, new info stays.

Full blast power in 100 milliseconds?

Gawd....talk about an 'A' ticket ride :p

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/spacex_superdraco.html

SpaceX Test Fires Engine Prototype for Astronaut Escape System

>

Nine months after CCP awarded SpaceX $75 million to design and test its Dragon spacecraft with a launch abort system, the company test fired its SuperDraco development engine to demonstrate its capabilities of keeping an astronaut crew safe during launch and ascent. The engine produced full thrust within approximately 100 milliseconds of the ignition command. It also fired for 5 seconds, which is the same amount of time the engines would burn during an emergency abort.

>

SuperDracos are powered by the same propellant that powers the 18 Draco thrusters Dragon will use to maneuver in orbit and during re-entry. To achieve the power necessary to quickly carry the spacecraft out of harm?s way, engines would burn through propellant 200 times faster than the engines Dragon uses for orbital maneuvers.?

>

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neoadorable    405

Impressive, that's tons of thrust but also tons of fuel. Time to go back to planning my Valkyrie shuttle...

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DocM    16,819

Dragon already has enough fuel to run these babies - its fuel tanks hold 1,290 kg, and they could grow a bit. Running at 200x the rate of "regular" Draco's just means they drink instead of sipping - Draco is a very low fuel use thruster.

Landing Dragon only requires 20-25% throttle, and the whole idea is not to need the launch escape. As for the non-axial thrust: about 22,000 lb-ft each, and they're only about the size of a family-size soup can.

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DocM    16,819

Twitter post -

@elonmusk Elon Musk

The sheer size of Falcon Heavy is mind-blowing. It could literally send a fully loaded London bus to the moon.

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DocM    16,819

A better angle of the assembled Dragon with its new trunk (unpressurized cargo module) and one of the solar panel covers.

c2c3complete.jpg

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neoadorable    405

Thanks, nice pix, looks pretty impressive with the trunk. However, I don't mean to shoot Elon down or anything, but a fully loaded London bus isn't that much. We'll need a lot of launches to put together a moon base at that rate. We need 150 tons to the moon!

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DocM    16,819

Well, a Dennis Trident Double-Decker is about 15 metric tone empty - about the same as an Apollo lunar lander.

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DocM    16,819

The Vandenberg AFB SLC-4E hangar is progressing....

post-347280-0-84213200-1329260153_thumb.

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DocM    16,819

From the latest CCDev report

Another recent milestone was SpaceX?s ?Crew Accommodation Concept Prototype and In-Situ 1? milestone. For this event, SpaceX completed prototypes of the Dragon spacecraft?s crew cabin, seats, and control panel layout. NASA astronauts participated in trial evaluations of the crew cabin and provided feedback to SpaceX. The data will be used to refine their prototype designs to improve usability, reduce the chance of human error, and improve functionality in preparation for a second astronaut evaluation trial scheduled later this year.

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DocM    16,819

One of Dragon's recent Commercial Crew milestones was to build a prototype cockpit and get feedback from the Astronaut Corps on the layout and any changes that need to be made. The below photos are of that prototype.

The main controls are digital touch panels above the upper (command) deck. Seats up to seven, or four with cargo in the lower deck instead of seats. The lighting is all LED for power savings. The safety belts are by G-Force Racing, and the seats are custom molded.

The bottom pic is of 3 crowded souls inside of a Soyuz TMA for comparison.

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post-347280-0-57454600-1329726818.jpg

post-347280-0-10542800-1329726826.jpg

post-347280-0-34827800-1329726835_thumb.

post-347280-0-15914600-1329727102.jpg

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DocM    16,819

Dragon C2/C3 mated with Falcon 9 #3 in the hangar. Note the solar panel pontoon not present on previous Dragons. There are two that cover solar arrays with a total capacity of 5.0 kwh (Soyuz = 1.3 kwh.)

A wet dress rehearsal (WDR) is due soon; out to the pad, fill the tanks, check systems, empty them & roll back to the hangar for a checkup. After the WDR comes a 4 second hot-fire test of the F9's nine Merlin engines.

Software tests continue both at the Cape and at ISS - too much depends on this flight to have a bug crop up & be missed like with Phobos-Grunt etc.

Amh_lfXCMAAgmWR.jpg

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