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Old 29th September 2017, 09:21 AM   #1
GlennB
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More on Musk's Mars Mission Machinations

"Elon Musk has unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow his company SpaceX to colonise Mars, build a base on the moon, and allow commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

The spacecraft is currently still codenamed the BFR (Big Farkin' Rocket). Musk says the company hopes to have the first launch by 2022, and then have four flying to Mars by 2024."

linky


One thing that always springs to my mind with the idea of landing a BFR on Mars is where to land it, especially if it's scheduled to take off again later. My guess (and it's only that) is that you wouldn't plan to land on raw Martian rock, and would need a purpose-built landing/launch pad. After all, I don't see SpaceX landing their rockets on Earthly rock and dirt.

If that's a fair assessment then that pad would need to be built without a BFR to ferry in the equipment and it would have to be constructed through a series of 'conventional' missions.

Thoughts?
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Old 29th September 2017, 09:24 AM   #2
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Mmmmm!
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Old 29th September 2017, 09:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
One thing that always springs to my mind with the idea of landing a BFR on Mars is where to land it, especially if it's scheduled to take off again later. My guess (and it's only that) is that you wouldn't plan to land on raw Martian rock, and would need a purpose-built landing/launch pad. After all, I don't see SpaceX landing their rockets on Earthly rock and dirt.
I don't think that comparison is apt. On earth, landing on a pad isn't a big deal. The pad is probably among the least of your costs. So you might as well. But that's not true on Mars. Building a pad on Mars is suddenly very expensive. It's probably easier to adapt the rocket to landing on dirt (which shouldn't be that hard) than it is to build a landing pad. The fact that it's not worth doing that adaptation for rockets landing on earth doesn't really tell us much, because it's so cheap to make a landing pad here.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
After all, I don't see SpaceX landing their rockets on Earthly rock and dirt.
...
Thoughts?
I think I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their plans to land rockets. After all, I don't see anyone else landing their rockets on anything.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:06 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I don't think that comparison is apt. On earth, landing on a pad isn't a big deal. The pad is probably among the least of your costs. So you might as well. But that's not true on Mars. Building a pad on Mars is suddenly very expensive. It's probably easier to adapt the rocket to landing on dirt (which shouldn't be that hard) than it is to build a landing pad. The fact that it's not worth doing that adaptation for rockets landing on earth doesn't really tell us much, because it's so cheap to make a landing pad here.
It was the idea of dust and rocks being blasted sideways into the landing legs and damaging them that mostly bothered me when visualising this. Also the chance of one or more legs happening to land on a rocky outcrop or in a depression.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:16 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
It was the idea of dust and rocks being blasted sideways into the landing legs and damaging them that mostly bothered me when visualising this. Also the chance of one or more legs happening to land on a rocky outcrop or in a depression.
Having to adapt to an uneven surface is going to be critical. It doesn't even have to be an outcropping, even just a gentle slope requires the legs to be uneven in balance, or the rocket can tip over. And they don't just have to be able to change lengths, they'll have to be able to pick the right length for each leg. So that needs to be engineered, and it's not trivial. But it's also just engineering, we're not bumping up against any limits of physics or even our understanding of it.

But these legs have to be strong enough to hold up a friggin' interplanetary rocket. A little dust and pebbles aren't going to be a problem.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I don't think that comparison is apt. On earth, landing on a pad isn't a big deal. The pad is probably among the least of your costs. So you might as well. But that's not true on Mars. Building a pad on Mars is suddenly very expensive. It's probably easier to adapt the rocket to landing on dirt (which shouldn't be that hard) than it is to build a landing pad. The fact that it's not worth doing that adaptation for rockets landing on earth doesn't really tell us much, because it's so cheap to make a landing pad here.
So we're finally going to land rockets the way 50s sci-fi flicks promised us? I've been waiting for that all my life!
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
So we're finally going to land rockets the way 50s sci-fi flicks promised us? I've been waiting for that all my life!
We already have, here on earth. If you overlook the fact that the landing struts (or whatever you call them) weren't those cool swept fin shapes.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
We already have, here on earth. If you overlook the fact that the landing struts (or whatever you call them) weren't those cool swept fin shapes.
Yeah that doesn't count.
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Old 29th September 2017, 10:38 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
So we're finally going to land rockets the way 50s sci-fi flicks promised us? I've been waiting for that all my life!
I assume you've seen the SpaceX stage 1 rocket returning to Earth after launching a stage 2?

And we landed a rove on Mars by having a platform with four rockets at the corners winch the lander down onto the ground.
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Having to adapt to an uneven surface is going to be critical. It doesn't even have to be an outcropping, even just a gentle slope requires the legs to be uneven in balance, or the rocket can tip over. And they don't just have to be able to change lengths, they'll have to be able to pick the right length for each leg. So that needs to be engineered, and it's not trivial. But it's also just engineering, we're not bumping up against any limits of physics or even our understanding of it.

But these legs have to be strong enough to hold up a friggin' interplanetary rocket. A little dust and pebbles aren't going to be a problem.
Yep. Trials in reasonably suitable areas of New Mexico or Nevada or wherever is a fair approximation of the Martian target area?
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I assume you've seen the SpaceX stage 1 rocket returning to Earth after launching a stage 2?
But it didn't have fins! FINS!

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Old 29th September 2017, 11:14 AM   #13
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did he get an offer from Rocketman to carry some cargo on a direct flight from North Korea to the US?
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:32 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
But it didn't have fins! FINS!

Fins do make spaceships faster. Proven fact.
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:34 AM   #15
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It sure does for those that can also operate in an atmosphere.
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:41 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
One thing that always springs to my mind with the idea of landing a BFR on Mars is where to land it, especially if it's scheduled to take off again later. My guess (and it's only that) is that you wouldn't plan to land on raw Martian rock, ...

Thoughts?


Isn't that exactly what we did with the lunar landers?

I suspect the pads on Earth are more an issue of, on Earth, there's a lot more stuff that can catch fire. The Moon and Mars? Not so much.
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:47 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
So we're finally going to land rockets the way 50s sci-fi flicks promised us? I've been waiting for that all my life!
NASA has been landing rockets vertically since Surveyor I landed on the moon in 1966. All six successful Apollo landings were made vertically on an unprepared surface. All took off again safely.

As for fins, 1950s movie-makers copied those from the only example of a large rocket then existing, the German V2 missile. They even incorporated stock flight footage as it was cheaper than filming their own rocket. Now where have I heard that idea before?
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
We already have, here on earth. If you overlook the fact that the landing struts (or whatever you call them) weren't those cool swept fin shapes.
Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I assume you've seen the SpaceX stage 1 rocket returning to Earth after launching a stage 2?
Originally Posted by Didymus View Post
NASA has been landing rockets vertically since Surveyor I landed on the moon in 1966. All six successful Apollo landings were made vertically on an unprepared surface. All took off again safely
Boo! Shut up! Stop breaking my beautiful dream with your facts!
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:53 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
Isn't that exactly what we did with the lunar landers?
Tiny mass and tiny rockets in comparison. Also squat in design making them more stable, and much lower gravity to contend with.

Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
I suspect the pads on Earth are more an issue of, on Earth, there's a lot more stuff that can catch fire. The Moon and Mars? Not so much.
Inflamable stuff on the SpaceX landing pads?
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Old 29th September 2017, 11:54 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Didymus View Post
NASA has been landing rockets vertically since Surveyor I landed on the moon in 1966. All six successful Apollo landings were made vertically on an unprepared surface. All took off again safely.
Moon. Small landers. Not BFRs.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:10 PM   #21
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Forgive me if I am skeptical about a Mars project where the founder names his rocket after an item in a freaking Computer game.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:16 PM   #22
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Don't forget the hyperloop.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:26 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Moon. Small landers. Not BFRs.
I agree but the snag isn't just the change of scale. There is a fundamental difference between landing an almost empty first stage and landing a cargo-carrying vehicle. The situation becomes worse if the BFR is expected to land on Mars with enough residual fuel to take off again.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:33 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Moon. Small landers. Not BFRs.
Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Tiny mass and tiny rockets in comparison. Also squat in design making them more stable, and much lower gravity to contend with.

Why is it necessary to land the entire rocket? Why can't they leave the BFR in orbit as a station, and use a smaller Apollo-style lander to get on and off the planet? Obviously it'll need to be bigger than Apollo due to the higher gravity and larger fuel requirement, but nowhere near as big as a full interplanetary rocket.

Quote:
Inflamable stuff on the SpaceX landing pads?

Desert plants and brush surrounding the landing pads; dead, dried bits of which often blow onto the pads.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:48 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
Why is it necessary to land the entire rocket? Why can't they leave the BFR in orbit as a station, and use a smaller Apollo-style lander to get on and off the planet? Obviously it'll need to be bigger than Apollo due to the higher gravity and larger fuel requirement, but nowhere near as big as a full interplanetary rocket.
From the article:

"For a trip to Mars, he said the craft would be able to hold about 100 people in 40 cabins."

He's planning to land these people, not just have them in orbit while a few recon the surface.
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Old 29th September 2017, 12:51 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Didymus View Post
I agree but the snag isn't just the change of scale. There is a fundamental difference between landing an almost empty first stage and landing a cargo-carrying vehicle. The situation becomes worse if the BFR is expected to land on Mars with enough residual fuel to take off again.
They're planning to produce fuel and LOX for relaunch in situ in advance of the landings, at least for those BFRs that need to relaunch.

Which is another interesting engineering issue.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:06 PM   #27
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I think a lot of disparate elements of that article are being exaggerated in hyperbolic ways to cast scorn upon the entire concept.

First off. The project is code-named BFR. How many specific conclusions we can draw from that seems questionable.

He is proposing four missions, starting in 2022, and hopefully finishing those four in 2024.

He plans to have two of them include crew.

I don't think it is quite reasonable to frame it as if he is planning to land forty-cabin passenger liners right away. I expect that is rather farther down the pipeline.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:18 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Didymus View Post
NASA has been landing rockets vertically since Surveyor I landed on the moon in 1966. All six successful Apollo landings were made vertically on an unprepared surface. All took off again safely.

As for fins, 1950s movie-makers copied those from the only example of a large rocket then existing, the German V2 missile. They even incorporated stock flight footage as it was cheaper than filming their own rocket. Now where have I heard that idea before?

That's the thing. We won't be satisfied until we can giant single-stage rockets with fins and portholes that can take off and land vertically. Also, we need all female astronauts to wear cone bras.

That we we can take our flying cars to the local town's spaceport to see all the excitement.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:29 PM   #29
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Also, always avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:29 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
That's the thing. We won't be satisfied until we can giant single-stage rockets with fins and portholes that can take off and land vertically.
I forgot about the portholes. Yes, they need to be round portholes.

Quote:
Also, we need all female astronauts to wear cone bras.
Sorry, can't agree on that one. Their breasts should be as curved as the elegant sweep of the rocket's tail fins.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:31 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by portlandatheist View Post
Also, always avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
Always avoid asshat atheists
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:33 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Sorry, can't agree on that one. Their breasts should be as curved as the elegant sweep of the rocket's tail fins.
Don't forget the purple wigs.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:44 PM   #33
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"Elon Musk stated publicly in July 2017 that "It actually ended up being way harder to do Falcon Heavy than we thought. ... Really way, way more difficult than we originally thought. We were pretty naive about that."[12] The current initial test flight is intended to be no earlier than November 2017."

The BFR is not the Falcon Heavy, and the Falcon Heavy is touted to use RP-1 (kersosene) as its propellant. Are kerosene and liquid methane interchangeable, or will the BFR head for Mars using methane?
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:44 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Forgive me if I am skeptical about a Mars project where the founder names his rocket after an item in a freaking Computer game.
That's the awesome part. Scientists have already made use of pop culture references in naming stuff.
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Old 29th September 2017, 01:51 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
He is proposing four missions, starting in 2022, and hopefully finishing those four in 2024.

He plans to have two of them include crew.
Musk is saying that he will bring people to Mars five years from now? If so, I think that that is unrealistic optimism. Maybe he has a crazy eccentric cell in his brain that sometimes causes him to say crazy things like that.

Now I get dogpiled, right?
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Old 29th September 2017, 02:09 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
Don't forget the purple wigs.
Hair color is per individual taste. But haircuts should be bobbed or off the shoulder, to allow easy donning of bubble helmets.
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Old 29th September 2017, 02:22 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Hair color is per individual taste.
What are you talking about? If I've learned anything from sci-fi, it's that people in future societies will all look alike.
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Old 29th September 2017, 02:32 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
What are you talking about? If I've learned anything from sci-fi, it's that people in future societies will all look alike.
That's precisely why hair color must vary. That's the only way to tell people apart.
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Old 29th September 2017, 02:39 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
What are you talking about? If I've learned anything from sci-fi, it's that people in future societies will all look alike.

Except for the ones who all look different.
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Old 29th September 2017, 02:49 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Except for the ones who all look different.
I don't know what you're talking about, sir. Get out!
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