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Merc14

SpaceX Super Rocket

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SpaceX is planning on building a rocket that can lift 150metric tons (20 more than NASA'a SLS) for a fixed price of $2.5B so why is NASA pursuing SLS which costs far more to build?

Will SpaceX Super Rocket Kill NASA's 'Rocket to Nowhere'? (Op-Ed)

R.D. Boozer | February 10, 2014 07:00pm ET

R.D. Boozer is an astrophysics researcher, member of the Space Development Steering Committee, host of the Astro Maven blog and author of the bookicon1.png "The Plundering of NASA: an Exposé" (lulu.com, 2013). He contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The private spaceflight company Space X plans to build a rocket so big it would "make the Apollo moon rocket look small,"the company's CEO, Elon Musk, announced on "

"on Feb. 3.

The huge rocket would ultimately send colonists to Mars, but what would SpaceX do in the meantime? The company's primary focus right now is giving NASA astronauts access to the International Space Station (ISS) on American vehicles, drastically lowering pricesicon1.png to Earth orbit versus what the Russians are charging, Musk said

Continues here: http://www.space.com...l-nasa-sls.html

Edited by Merc14
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coool. the guy in charge of this is also the guy who created pay pal i think, unless im mistaken.

watch this great vid to see what hes about on ted talks

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coool. the guy in charge of this is also the guy who created pay pal i think, unless im mistaken.

That´s correct.

Edited by toast
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They have already delivered supplies to the ISS and brought back materials (not sure where the contract stands) and are working up to delivering astronauts. http://www.spacex.com/dragon

They also have the Grasshopper that launched to 325 meters, hovered and then landed back on its pad.

[media=]

it[/media] is scaled to go much bigger.

So far they have done everything they promised and as far as I know they are on budget so kudos. I really think that NASA needs to be at the no-profit pointy end of research and let businesses like these do been there done that stuff like going back to the moon. Pass tech on and be a partner when needed but aim for the really cutting edge, no profit potential missions that open the doors to new things.

Edited by Merc14
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The Falcon Heavy, Saturn 5 lift capability to LEO:

[media=]

[/media] Edited by Merc14

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SpaceX is planning on building a rocket that can lift 150metric tons (20 more than NASA'a SLS) for a fixed price of $2.5B so why is NASA pursuing SLS which costs far more to build?

[snip]

Yes, non-expert that I am, I tend to agree with Mr Boozer's opinion.

The Wikipedia article about the Falcon rocket family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_%28rocket_family%29) says that SpaceX's proposed Falcon XX would be able to lift 140 tons to Low Earth Orbit. But the article said Elon Musk had clarified back in 2010 that "...the potential launch vehicle design configurations...were merely conceptual "brainstorming ideas", just a "bunch of ideas for discussion," and not financed SpaceX projects..."

It seems things have moved on in the last three years.

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The Falcon Heavy, Saturn 5 lift capability to LEO:

[media=]

[/media]

With respect, not quite. The Falcon Heavy should be able to get 53 tons to Low Earth Orbit. The Saturn V could manage 120 tons to Low Earth Orbit.

Having said that, I'm mightily impressed with what SpaceX has achieved so far. And I'm also impressed with the technology intended for the Falcon Heavy. In particular, the propellent crossfeed process considerably improves the rocket's efficiency: fuel from the outer boosters is fed into some of the engines of the core booster, as well as feeding their own engines. This means that the outer boosters use up their fuel faster, but it also means that when they're empty and cast off, the core booster will still have near-full tanks. This is quite a lot more efficient than having each booster feed only its own engines.

Also worth considering: while the Falcon Heavy can only lift half the weight of a Saturn V into Low Earth Orbit, two Falcon Heavies would be sufficient to perform an Apollo-style manned lunar landing: one FH launches the crew in the Dragon spacecraft, while the other launches the lunar lander and the fuel to send the combined spacecraft to the Moon.

And the Falcon Heavy is expected to launch this year: 2014.

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With respect, not quite. The Falcon Heavy should be able to get 53 tons to Low Earth Orbit. The Saturn V could manage 120 tons to Low Earth Orbit.

Correction noted, thanks.

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You're welcome. :-)

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They also have the Grasshopper that launched to 325 meters, hovered and then landed back on its pad.

[media=]

it[/media] is scaled to go much bigger.

That is such a cool piece of video...

Incidentally, Grasshopper is similar to what NASA engineers first had in mind for landing Apollo astronauts on the Moon. Early plans involved actually landing the Command and Service Module on the Moon, with another stage underneath doing the work for the landing. The problem the engineers ran into was exactly how to back a rocket like that down on to the surface of the Moon, especially when the astronauts would be on their backs and unable to see the ground beneath them. Plus the stack would have been very vulnerable to landing on an uneven surface.

The Lunar Module was a much better and neater concept.

The fact that SpaceX is managing this with computers is still impressive, but it gives an idea of how complex it is to land a tall rocket on a small target, particularly when you have unpredictable variables like wind.

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Huge Reaction Mass rockets are NOT the way forward... the way forward are small (ish) payloads delivered into Near Earth Orbit, and from there to their final destination. MUCH cheaper, look at the Sabre Engine and the Skylon.

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Huge Reaction Mass rockets are NOT the way forward... the way forward are small (ish) payloads delivered into Near Earth Orbit, and from there to their final destination. MUCH cheaper, look at the Sabre Engine and the Skylon.

Skylon is designed to carry 15 tons into low earth orbit and is years away whereas SpaceX is talking about launching 165 tons into space. Reusable is definitely the way to go (see Grasshopper) but I think some mix of the two technologies is the way forward for now.

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Huge Reaction Mass rockets are NOT the way forward... the way forward are small (ish) payloads delivered into Near Earth Orbit, and from there to their final destination. MUCH cheaper, look at the Sabre Engine and the Skylon.

Look at the space shuttle, that was EXACTLY the argument used to justify that, and look how well that turned out... hugely expensive, unreliable and dangerous. It almost never launched on time, killed two crews and never came close to achieving the launch rate it was supposed to... 50 a year (it only managed 134 in 30 years).

I do agree with you that the time for fully re-usable vehicles will come... eventually, but we can't stop launching and just sit around twiddling our thumbs until the technology is mature enough.

As for the economics, I suspect that it will be a VERY long time before a small launcher like the Skylon will be able to compete with a big dumb booster like the Falcon Heavy or the SLS for lofting large payloads.

NASA estimate that for a manned mission to Mars they will need 7 block II SLS launches, that's a total of 910 tonnes to LEO... that would require 61 Skylon launches. Worse still, because the Skylon will only carry smaller sections of the craft the job of constructing the Mars vehicle in LEO will be more complex, more time consuming almost certainly require more hazardous EVAs, all of which will add to the expense.

Skylon, or something similar WILL have it's time, but for the foreseeable future at least, it will be alongside the behemoths, not instead of them.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf
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