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Old 6th October 2017, 05:15 AM   #121
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
No one. The BFR will be paid for using profit from the existing f9 manifest and whatever funding NASA decides to kick in. Instead of having 4 production lines (f9, dragon, BFR, BFS), they'll have only 2. BFR and BFS. As soon as BFR flies all manifests that can be moved to BFR will be. He plans to make his own, highly successful rocket, completely obsolete and replace it with the BFR system.
Right, that's what I meant when I said the BFR itself makes sense. But who will pay for it to fly to Mars? No one?

In that case I don't think it's going to happen, even if the BFR itself is successful.
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Old 6th October 2017, 05:31 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
No one. The BFR will be paid for using profit from the existing f9 manifest and whatever funding NASA decides to kick in. Instead of having 4 production lines (f9, dragon, BFR, BFS), they'll have only 2. BFR and BFS. As soon as BFR flies all manifests that can be moved to BFR will be. He plans to make his own, highly successful rocket, completely obsolete and replace it with the BFR system.
The BFR itself, perhaps. But Musk freely admits that the proposed Mars venture will require a stack of outside money. He even presented an amusing Venn diagram to illustrate the issue.

eta: Sorry, didn't see Roboramma making the same point.
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Old 6th October 2017, 08:17 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
No assumption. My original interest arose from doing the calculations: aiming low on fuel load (less than Falcon 9), ignoring the LOX entirely, ignoring the cost of assembling equipment and acquiring raw materials, and assuming 100% process efficiency. Maybe those calculations were in error, but they sat here for a fair while uncorrected.

Maybe, but it's a known energy to get your calculations going.
There's always an assumption. It's always something incredibly basic and wrong, that you could easily have caught if you'd stop to think it through instead of going "ah ha! The math fails to work out! No one could possibly have thought of this before!"

The last time I can remember doing this with you, you were griping about how an ion drive probe sent to Alpha Centauri would take ten thousand years to get there... based on the assumption that the fastest speed at which ion satellites have historically traveled is the maximum possible speed which can be attained by an ion drive. This despite space travel only working that way in videogames, and the very next paragraph of the article from which you got your numbers saying "of course, any real attempt will travel significantly faster..."

So no, I do not care about your calculations. Proposed missions to Mars have included fuel generation by the Sabatier reaction for over twenty years. People whose job it is to run the math have run the math. Prototypes have been built to prove it could work. The rocket has always been the critical hurdle, not the cubic meter of equipment needed to gradually refuel it.

Oh look, literally ten seconds of googling: http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/COSGC...Production.pdf

Looks like their bottleneck was electrolyzing enough water to keep up with their Sabatier setup.
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Old 6th October 2017, 09:07 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
....
Looks like their bottleneck was electrolyzing enough water to keep up with their Sabatier setup.
Exactly. Which is why youshould care about the calculations. Providing the materials for the reaction is where the energy source comes in.

Look at it from the point of view of the hydrogen alone -

Allow the BFR to take off from Mars with 100 tonnes of methane, requiring some 25 tonnes of hydrogen for its synthesis. It will refuel in Earth orbit for the Earth landing). 50kw per kg of H2 is the figure I'm seeing for electrolysis of water.

Now you do the calculations for how many solar panels, running for a year, it would take to produce that much H2 (if you want it quicker, you need more arrays, obviously). It would put things in perspective if you could also indicate the size and weight of the arrays chosen, allowing for the Martian ones to be considerably lighter than terrestrial.

"Science will work it out! SpaceX are smart!" is not a skeptical line of argument. They also only have 7 years, which is zip in the scheme of things.
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Old 6th October 2017, 09:38 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post

Now you do the calculations for how many solar panels, running for a year, it would take to produce that much H2 (if you want it quicker, you need more arrays, obviously). It would put things in perspective if you could also indicate the size and weight of the arrays chosen, allowing for the Martian ones to be considerably lighter than terrestrial.
Remember that because Mars is farther from the sun, you need almost twice the area of solar panels to gather the same power that you would get on Earth.
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Old 6th October 2017, 10:14 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
Remember that because Mars is farther from the sun, you need almost twice the area of solar panels to gather the same power that you would get on Earth.
Well, yeah, Then there's the dust that has hampered Rovers up there.

But from the very outset I've put an almost insanely generous slant on the calculations. I repeated them today from the standpoint of H2 generation alone and got similar results to the 'energy of enthalpy' approach. Again I omitted all the side-costs in energy terms, which are pretty considerable in reality.

But some people "don't care about calculations" apparently.

From Musks's presentation:

'The first ship to land on Mars would bring with it a "small propellant plant," which would be expanded as time went on, Musk said. He noted that a large field of solar panels would be used to power the plant, but he didn’t give any details on how this plant would be built or operated, nor how much fuel would be needed to make the return trips possible. "I won't go into detail here, but people can think about it offline," Musk said.'

Then when people "think about it offline" they get slated for 'lack of vision', or something
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Old 6th October 2017, 10:22 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
They also only have 7 years, which is zip in the scheme of things.
Or 9 years, or 11 years, or any 2 year window after that.

If the BFR is profitable without going to mars, then the mars plan can be delayed until it's easier. Maybe a nuclear reactor will be a better option, given more time to develop one for mars.
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Old 6th October 2017, 10:28 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by phunk View Post
Or 9 years, or 11 years, or any 2 year window after that.

If the BFR is profitable without going to mars, then the mars plan can be delayed until it's easier. Maybe a nuclear reactor will be a better option, given more time to develop one for mars.
Yep, maybe. Though the one suggested upthread would be quite a beast to get to Mars and commission.

It was also pointed out that SpaceX perform some 50% of launches these days. 100% is the limit, and that would assume 'certain countries' handing over to SpaceX. There appears to be a ceiling to how much they can make, unless using the BFR for inter-city passenger trips proves feasible. I have my doubts about the latter.
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Old 6th October 2017, 12:00 PM   #129
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Quote:
<snip>

But from the very outset I've put an almost insanely generous slant on the calculations. I repeated them today from the standpoint of H2 generation alone and got similar results to the 'energy of enthalpy' approach. Again I omitted all the side-costs in energy terms, which are pretty considerable in reality.

But some people "don't care about calculations" apparently.

<snip>

It's a pity, don't you think, that with all his money Musk can't afford anyone who can do calculations?

Maybe he could hire you.
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Old 6th October 2017, 12:03 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Yep, maybe. Though the one suggested upthread would be quite a beast to get to Mars and commission.

It was also pointed out that SpaceX perform some 50% of launches these days. 100% is the limit, and that would assume 'certain countries' handing over to SpaceX. There appears to be a ceiling to how much they can make, unless using the BFR for inter-city passenger trips proves feasible. I have my doubts about the latter.

Yeah. Having a better, cheaper mode of transport can't possibly change anything. That's why Henry Ford went broke. No way he could ever sell that many cars. There aren't even enough roads to put them on.
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Old 6th October 2017, 12:04 PM   #131
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
It's a pity, don't you think, that with all his money Musk can't afford anyone who can do calculations?

Maybe he could hire you.
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Old 6th October 2017, 12:07 PM   #132
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
It was also pointed out that SpaceX perform some 50% of launches these days. 100% is the limit, and that would assume 'certain countries' handing over to SpaceX. There appears to be a ceiling to how much they can make, unless using the BFR for inter-city passenger trips proves feasible. I have my doubts about the latter.
Imo, Musk will spin Starlink off as a separate company, raise a bunch of vc for it, then contract the launch of the entire constellation to SpaceX at cut-throat rates on reflown boosters. Who needs the existing commercial launch market, when you can make your own, even bigger one? It's devious and synergistic and exactly what I think he'll do.

Edit: link for Starlink context - https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/20/sp...vice-starlink/
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Old 6th October 2017, 12:57 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Really?
Well, what I was talking about was the Isp. The Merlin-1D Vacuum only has 348 compared to 450 for a typical upper stage like the RL10 used on Centaur. This is because it burns kerosene instead of hydrogen. Even the old J-2 on Apollo had 421. In the past, Falcon had lagged behind in GTO and it looked like they needed Falcon Heavy to be competitive. But, I guess I was mistaken.

In July of this year, Falcon 9 lifted 6,761 kg to GTO. Atlas V did that back in 2012 when Falcon was only lifting half that. But it looks like they've caught up. According to the specs, Atlas V with full boosters is very close to the gross launch weight and payload to GTO of Falcon 9 so obviously that lower Isp isn't bothering them that much.

Quote:
Atlas V (ULA's nearest comparable rocket to Falcon 9) can get 8.9 tonnes to GTO - $100m/launch.

Falcon 9 can get over 5.5 tonnes to GTO with with reusabiity, up to 8.4 tonnes with a fully expendable launch - $62m/launch.
Those numbers are for Full Thrust or V1.2 block 3.
If you look at the timeline:

v1.0 block 1 was in operation in 2012.
v1.1 block 2 was in 2014.
FT block 3 was in 2016. $62 million was the standard price.
block 4 has only had one flight.
block 5 hasn't flown yet.

In 2012 the Merlin-1D had 147,000 lbs of thrust and this was used on the block 2. The engine was then upgraded to 165,000 lbs. However, it was my impression that the Merlin-1D was pushing its limits to hit the 170,000 lbs required for the Full Thrust configuration. This is consistent with the original design statements. Unfortunately, this was never going to reach the target of ten flights before overhaul.

So, now we see that the block 4 upgrade increased engine thrust to 190,000 lbs and the block 5 will increase it again to 211,000 lbs. This indicates to me that the Merlin-1D had a major redesign.

Now, the thing is that there has been no announcement of increased payload. And this is strange because we know that Musk likes to brag about future developments. It may be that the engines will be run at 80 - 85% capacity to reach the TBO. It may be that the rocket can't handle the stress of more thrust and payload and that the higher thrust would only be used in the event of an engine failure.

A Falcon 9 costs $62 million.
A Proton M costs $65 million.
An Atlas V costs $109 million.
Ariane 6 will cost $106 million.
Vulcan is shooting for $99 million.

The Atlas V will start using double stacked satellites. Ariane 64 will use double stacked satellites. I assume Vulcan will also. This is getting the price down below $60 million per satellite launch. We'll have to see what SpaceX does.

Quote:
Delta IV Heavy (ULA's nearest comparable rocket to Falcon 9 Heavy) can get 14 tonnes to GTO - $225m/launch.

Falcon 9 Heavy will be able to get 22 tonnes to GTO - fully expendable - $90m/launch.
That may be a problem. An Ariane 6 costs $106 million to lift 12 tonnes to GTO. Taken at face value, a Falcon Heavy would then be half the price. However, Ariane 6 will have a double stacked payload. If you double stack the payload on Falcon Heavy you'd have a slight advantage but to really make use of that capacity it seems like you'd need to triple stack.
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Old 6th October 2017, 01:21 PM   #134
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
It's a pity, don't you think, that with all his money Musk can't afford anyone who can do calculations?
Then why don't they publish them? It's not like somebody else is going to step in and steal the idea.
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Old 6th October 2017, 01:23 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
Raptor currently sits at around twice the power of a Merlin
Yeah, looks like it. Back in 2013 they were talking 661,000 lbs thrust. By 2015 it was down to 510,000. In 2016 they were talking 670,000 lbs in vacuum which would be at least 3x the current vacuum Merlin-1D. Now, it looks like we are down to double the size. The design is somewhat leading edge so some teething problems don't surprise me.

Quote:
and more or less the same size - hence 31 engines on the booster. And I disagree that you would still fly F9 for regular missions. Musk talked explicitly about cannibalizing the F9 production line. As soon as the BFR flies, F9 production will shut down and people unwilling to fly BFR will be forced to rely on the remaining re-flown F9 boosters. IMO within 3 - 5 years of BFR entering service, the remaining F9 boosters will be mothballed.
Yeah, that's what wikipedia says:

Rather notably, Musk also announced that the new BFR launch vehicle is planned to entirely replace both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles as well as the Dragon spacecraft in the existing operational SpaceX fleet in the early 2020s, initially aiming at the Earth-orbit market

I'm not seeing how that would work. How could you replace a 1.3 million lb rocket with one weighing 9.7 million lbs? That seems delusional. And even more delusional seems to be the notion that SpaceX could either afford to design or build one of these. I'm not seeing it.
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Old 6th October 2017, 01:30 PM   #136
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I can think of a manned mission to moon. We could build gigantic radio telescope dish antennae in a few of the craters on the far side. That way you don't get radio noise from Earth. And probably some of those craters are a good approximate shape. There's no wind or rain to damage them so I assume they could be made of fairly light materials. I could see that as a real mission. I can't see the idea of colonists to Mars as a real plan. I can't see giving up Falcon 9 as a real plan. Falcon 9 still makes sense even if you replaced the Merlins with Raptors.
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Old 6th October 2017, 02:02 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Then why don't they publish them? It's not like somebody else is going to step in and steal the idea.

Good question.

Obviously, if they don't, no one is going to believe they can build rockets.
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Old 6th October 2017, 02:24 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
Remember that because Mars is farther from the sun, you need almost twice the area of solar panels to gather the same power that you would get on Earth.
Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Well, yeah, Then there's the dust that has hampered Rovers up there.
I have it on the authority of an ISF member or two that we already have folks in place to clear dust off the panels.
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Old 6th October 2017, 02:46 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Eh?? Interesting. How does a thin (it has been described as "a laboratory-grade vacuum") help with radiation shielding?

" Five meters of soil will provide the same protection [for the Mars One hab] as the Earth's atmosphere-- equivalent to 1,000 g/cm2 of shielding." link
Anyone who described it as a "laboratory grade vacuum" doesn't know what they're talking about. It'd be a quite dirty vacuum.

The atmosphere of Mars provides shielding a little bit better than Earth's magnetic field does in LEO, varying depending on altitude:
https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages...hp?id=PIA03480
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Old 6th October 2017, 02:56 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
No. Mars has a (thin) atmosphere which helps with radiation shielding for one, plus easily extracted CO2 without the need for mining equipment. Bring a few tons of H2 with you and you don't even need to move water ice for the return.

At 39% earth gravity, Mars should have less deleterious effects on human physiology in the long term while still allowing fairly easy escape from the gravity well (thin atmosphere helps here again)
The LH2 required would take up more volume than the CH4 you make from it. You would need to build your spacecraft with a liquid hydrogen tank larger than its fuel tank, and the primary reason to use methane in the first place is to avoid having to deal with liquid hydrogen.

Mars has glaciers of water ice, and any long term stay is going to require tapping those anyway. It doesn't make sense to devote so much effort to avoiding it.

As for gravity: yeah, you get reasonable amounts of gravity without having to deal with rotating habitats. But also: the gravity well is not that significant. If Mars was an airless body and you had to land and launch with rockets, the cost due to the gravity well would be on par with the cost due to orbital mechanics in sending a spacecraft out to a main belt asteroid, the main difference being that Mars can be reached in just a few months. However, Mars isn't airless, so on top of being a shorter trip, it's actually far cheaper to land on than a main belt asteroid. And the plentiful CO2 means that you can use more compact, easier to handle methane fuel instead of LH2.

There are near-Earth asteroids, but the same orbital mechanics mean that low cost windows to these are only open very rarely...decades apart in some cases. Additionally, they are closer to the sun and have had any ices they once had baked out of them.
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Old 6th October 2017, 03:09 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by barehl View Post
A lot? The project started in 1991 and NASA became involved in 1994.
Luna 9 and Surveyor 1 performed propulsive landings on the moon in 1966.


Originally Posted by barehl View Post
They put more than that into Ares and more than that into Titan IV. The aerospike engine was an interesting idea. Single stage, not so much.
Ares 1-X alone cost nearly half a billion, despite just being a Shuttle booster past its expiration date with a dummy fifth segment and mass simulator second stage. I never said they did better with subsequent projects, I actually pointed out they have been even worse.


Originally Posted by barehl View Post
What choice did they have? The only option was Titan IV which wasn't phased out until 2005. It was replaced when Delta IV Heavy came online in 2004. It was the only vehicle with a manipulator arm and until Dragon the only vehicle that could return payload. The Obama administration extended the shuttle for another year in spite of the risk because it was the only way to get the station built.
Er...why are you talking about Titan IV in the context of a Shuttle replacement that never existed? They should have replaced it with a new system that's not ridiculously expensive to operate. The Shuttle completely failed to achieve its flight rate, cost, and safety goals, and shouldn't have operated for 10 years before being replaced with a new vehicle taking the lessons learned into account.


Originally Posted by barehl View Post
Well, at least they did cancel Ares 1 with its $1 billion price tag. Falcon 9 is much cheaper. The Obama administration didn't want Ares V; it was a holdover from the Bush administration and as you say, Congress wouldn't let them kill it. I'll have to be honest though. If there actually was a super heavy lift mission then Ares V with the advanced boosters using F-1B engines would look pretty good. The only possible competitor would be Falcon X based on the Raptor engine in a triple stack. That should be in the same lift class.
Ares V would only lift 38 metric tons more than the scaled-down ITS, and a small fraction of the full scale version. After their experience with Falcon Heavy development, it seems very unlikely SpaceX would develop another 3-core booster (especially with the volume limits the diameter would impose at the higher payload), they'd just develop a larger booster.


Originally Posted by barehl View Post
SpaceX wouldn't exist without the commercial resupply contract from NASA. That was the one thing the Bush administration got right. Obama expanded on that with commercial crew which also seems to be moving forward. Without those contracts, SpaceX would be bankrupt rather than developing the Raptor engine. As I recall, the military is funding Be-4 and Vulcan. I also can't give SpaceX too much credit because of how bad Falcon 9 is for geosynchronous due to not having a proper upper stage. We'll see how the re-usability works out.
NASA only bought launch services, the Falcon 9 design is SpaceX's. NASA didn't impose any requirements on vehicle design and operations apart from how they impacted the payload. And Falcon 9's GTO payloads, even reusable, are right in the same range as the Atlas V, which does have a high energy upper stage. It's a quite capable geosynchronous satellite launcher, which is why 5 of their 13 launches so far this year have been geosynchronous satellites (including a 5300 kg satellite on a reusable launch, which is beyond the capacity of an Atlas V without boosters), and they have 4 more scheduled for this year.
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Old 6th October 2017, 03:17 PM   #142
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FULL Elon Musk’s Speech at SpaceX 2017 Event

To quote War of the Worlds, "I had my first inkling of the gulf between his dreams and his powers."
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Old 6th October 2017, 03:35 PM   #143
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Originally Posted by barehl View Post
I can think of a manned mission to moon. We could build gigantic radio telescope dish antennae in a few of the craters on the far side. That way you don't get radio noise from Earth. And probably some of those craters are a good approximate shape. There's no wind or rain to damage them so I assume they could be made of fairly light materials. I could see that as a real mission. I can't see the idea of colonists to Mars as a real plan. I can't see giving up Falcon 9 as a real plan. Falcon 9 still makes sense even if you replaced the Merlins with Raptors.
You can't replace the Merlins with Raptors. Methane is lower density than RP-1 and the Falcon 9 has already stretched about as far as it can go due to bending loads and aerodynamic issues, so the poorer mass ratio would eat up a bunch of the specific impulse advantage. Also, the higher thrust of the Raptors would make landing the stages nearly impossible. There's not much improvement to be squeezed out of Falcon 9, to go any further they need a larger diameter.

The BFR is 2.4 times the diameter, designed from the ground up with the lessons learned from Falcon 9, and is a fully reusable system that doesn't throw away an upper stage with every flight or require chasing down fairings and fishing them out of the ocean. It's not at all unthinkable that it will end up being cheaper to launch than the Falcon 9, or that they'll find investors willing to pay for it.

As for the lunar radio telescopes...that's always been a lousy idea. They would be stuck looking at a narrow patch of sky determined by the moon's rotation, they would be subject to day/night temperature extremes, the problem of nighttime power supply, and lunar dust, and they would still be exposed to interference from ground propagation and human activities on and around the moon, not to mention the haze of electrostatically charged dust that rises and falls with the sun. And landing mass on the moon is difficult. You would be able to put far more hardware at the Earth-sun L4 or L5 points (or an interferometric pair at both!), far away from Earth and its interference and with steady temperatures, uninterrupted solar power, and a view of the entire sky blocked only by the sun and distant planets.
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Old 6th October 2017, 03:59 PM   #144
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Then why don't they publish them? It's not like somebody else is going to step in and steal the idea.
Why should they? What do they have to gain?

Did NASA publish all the technical details and calculations for the Apollo program within a few days of JFK announcing "We choose to go to the Moon"?

Did they do this for the Space Shuttle when Nixon announced in 1972 that "the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system"?

And don't even try arguing that it was different because of secrecy. Even if it wasn't sensitive information, in both these instances I have cited, NASA only had a general outline of how they were going to achieve these goals. If you know anything at all about the Apollo Program you will know that what they ended up doing bore only a passing resemblance to the initial idea, Direct Ascent, and other ideas such as EOR and LSS went across drawing boards and were subject to calculations before they were discarded and they ended up with what they did....Lunar Orbit Rendezvous.

In essence, all Musk has done is give us some general outlines... they don't come with details, and nor should they.
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Old 6th October 2017, 04:17 PM   #145
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Why should they? What do they have to gain?

Did NASA publish all the technical details and calculations for the Apollo program within a few days of JFK announcing "We choose to go to the Moon"?

Did they do this for the Space Shuttle when Nixon announced in 1972 that "the United States should proceed at once with the development of an entirely new type of space transportation system"?

And don't even try arguing that this is different because of secrecy. Even if it wasn't sensitive information, in both these instances I have cited, NASA only had a general outline of how they were going to achieve these goals. If you know anything at all about the Apollo Program you will know that what they ended up doing bore only a passing resemblance to the initial idea, Direct Ascent, and other ideas such as EOR and LSS went across drawing boards and were subject to calculations before they were discarded and they ended up with what they did....Lunar Orbit Rendezvous.

In essence, all Musk has done is give use some general outlines... they don't come with details, and nor should they.
For that matter, the stuff he's already given: plots and numbers on vehicle delta-v versus payload, benefit of using aerodynamic braking at Mars, vehicle performance, etc, is more than anyone has reason to expect. Putting information together for publication takes time and effort with little return. They probably have packages of information to show to potential investors and such, but those are probably NDA'd and full of sensitive or irrelevant details on matters not particularly related.

The notion that they haven't even done basic power budget analysis of their design (or did them, found they didn't close, and are pushing ahead with something that is going to lose them enormous amounts of money and doom their Mars plans) just because they haven't publicly discussed those issues in detail is really quite silly.
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Old 6th October 2017, 04:40 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
Luna 9 and Surveyor 1 performed propulsive landings on the moon in 1966.
What does that have to do with a full sized rocket in Earth gravity? These aren't related. We built a lunar lander and actually landed it on the Moon in 1969. Notice that it didn't lead to Earth landing craft. In fact, the only vehicles I can think of that would be similar would be NASA's free flying lunar landing simulators. Those actually did operate in Earth gravity. I doubt anything from that went into DC-X.

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Ares 1-X alone cost nearly half a billion, despite just being a Shuttle booster past its expiration date with a dummy fifth segment and mass simulator second stage. I never said they did better with subsequent projects, I actually pointed out they have been even worse.
I'm not sure what your point is. Each individual Titan IV cost half a billion. We launched 39 of those.

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Er...why are you talking about Titan IV in the context of a Shuttle replacement that never existed? They should have replaced it with a new system that's not ridiculously expensive to operate. The Shuttle completely failed to achieve its flight rate, cost, and safety goals, and shouldn't have operated for 10 years before being replaced with a new vehicle taking the lessons learned into account.
I'm not sure what you are talking about. When the Challenger accident happened, the military became worried that the Shuttle fleet might be grounded indefinitely or even pulled out of service. Back in 1965 they had rejected the Saturn IB because the Titan III was half the price. But, with the Shuttle in jeopardy they became desperate for an alternative. They poured money into developing Titan IV, essentially blowing whatever savings there had been from Titan III.

In hindsight, it would have been easier just to keep making the Saturn IB. You are correct that with the cancellation of Venture Star there was no replacement anywhere in sight for the Shuttle. So, after the Columbia accident, the Bush administration was desperate for a replacement. We ended up with Ares. Again, in hindsight, they could have more easily developed Atlas V into a human rated vehicle. But, Atlas V was powered by Russian engines. There was Delta IV but it was only half the size of a Saturn IB and Delta IV Heavy wasn't cheap. Again, in hindsight they could have built a rocket based on the F-1. However, until Dynetics actually resurrected the F-1, I doubt anyone in the industry thought it was possible. It seems that the real thing that could be criticized is skipping the well tested request for proposal and evaluation with milestone process in favor of Ares. But that blame is solely Bush's.

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Ares V would only lift 38 metric tons more than the scaled-down ITS, and a small fraction of the full scale version. After their experience with Falcon Heavy development, it seems very unlikely SpaceX would develop another 3-core booster (especially with the volume limits the diameter would impose at the higher payload), they'd just develop a larger booster.
I was only talking about the original Falcon, Falcon X, and Falcon XX plan. You can see the original SpaceX illustrations.

Quote:
NASA only bought launch services, the Falcon 9 design is SpaceX's.
I don't know what point you think you are making. NASA put out a request for proposals for resupplying the space station (COTS). They got 20 proposals in March, 2006. One of those was SpaceX.
NASA narrowed this down to six in May 2006. One of those was SpaceX.
NASA then chose two to fund through 2010. One of those was SpaceX.
SpaceX got $396 million to design and build Falcon 9 and Dragon.
When this was demonstrated in 2013, SpaceX got $1.6 billion for 12 resupply missions.

In 2010, NASA did a request for proposals for crew services (ccDev).
Five companies got funding during ccDev 1. SpaceX was actually a sixth but didn't get money because Falcon 9 was already being funded.
In ccDev 2, NASA funded five companies. SpaceX got $75 million.
In CCiCap, SpaceX got $440 million.
During CPC 1, SpaceX got $9.6 million.
In 2014 it was decided that SpaceX could receive up to $2.6 billion in crew services.

During COTS 2, in 2016 SpaceX received at least six more resupply missions.
This doesn't count the military options for up to $1 billion for SpaceX.

Could SpaceX have designed and built Falcon 9 without NASA funding? Absolutely not.

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Old 6th October 2017, 04:47 PM   #147
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Can't they synthesize RP1 from CO2 and water? It's just hydrocarbons. So if a rocket is designed to use RP1 why not make the right fuel for it?
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Old 6th October 2017, 05:02 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
It's not at all unthinkable that it will end up being cheaper to launch than the Falcon 9, or that they'll find investors willing to pay for it.
I doubt seriously they can scare up that much money. Cheaper than Falcon 9? You've been guzzling the Musk koolaid. There is no possibility of that.

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As for the lunar radio telescopes...that's always been a lousy idea. They would be stuck looking at a narrow patch of sky determined by the moon's rotation
Narrow? It would cover at least 80% of the field. You're only missing small areas near the poles.

Quote:
they would be subject to day/night temperature extremes, the problem of nighttime power supply, and lunar dust, and they would still be exposed to interference from ground propagation and human activities on and around the moon, not to mention the haze of electrostatically charged dust that rises and falls with the sun. And landing mass on the moon is difficult. You would be able to put far more hardware at the Earth-sun L4 or L5 points (or an interferometric pair at both!), far away from Earth and its interference and with steady temperatures, uninterrupted solar power, and a view of the entire sky blocked only by the sun and distant planets.
Except for the things you've left out. You get a natural parabola in gravity but not in space. The frame required to supply the outline and a tensor field to shape the dish at L4 or L5 would not be small or light. So, it would require substantial thrust to rotate. During half the lunar month, the bulk of the moon would block the sun. Nothing would block the sun at L4 or L5. That doesn't sound very practical.
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Old 6th October 2017, 05:31 PM   #149
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Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
Can't they synthesize RP1 from CO2 and water? It's just hydrocarbons. So if a rocket is designed to use RP1 why not make the right fuel for it?
It's doable:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fische...ropsch_process

It's a much more complex process though, and would be less efficient and require a lot of equipment to separate out and reprocess fractions that end up too light or too heavy, deal with unwanted side products, etc. Methane is the simplest molecule you can produce with carbon and hydrogen, and it's easier to ensure that it's what you get at the end.

Also, methane is itself a higher performance fuel, and it allows the staged combustion cycle that SpaceX is using in the Raptor which gives them a reusable system with much higher performance than the Merlin. Additionally, liquid methane and LOX can be stored for long periods in the same tanks with a bit of insulation between them to keep the methane from freezing (their liquid ranges overlap slightly, at least at atmospheric pressure), it's very hard to do the same with RP-1 and LOX because of the temperature difference between the two.
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Old 6th October 2017, 06:07 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
The notion that they haven't even done basic power budget analysis of their design (or did them, found they didn't close, and are pushing ahead with something that is going to lose them enormous amounts of money and doom their Mars plans) just because they haven't publicly discussed those issues in detail is really quite silly.
I think the notion is that they don't actually have Mars plans that they will lose money on, because they don't have the money to go to Mars. The rocket,
as planned, can get to Mars and so talking about using it to do so is good publicity, but only that.

If that's what's happening here then it certainly makes sense to gloss over any potential problems.

I hope not, but so far no one has even responded to my question about what the actual business plan is. Who are the intended customers for this Mars mission?

I'm a big fan of SpaceX, but if there's no market to do something, the technical ability to do it isn't all that meaningful.
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Old 6th October 2017, 06:25 PM   #151
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Originally Posted by barehl View Post
Cheaper than Falcon 9? You've been guzzling the Musk koolaid. There is no possibility of that.
Yes, the rocket will be more expensive to develop and build (hugely so)
Yes the rocket will cost more to launch.

But you aren't understanding what is meant by cheaper. Musk is talking about $/kg to LEO or GTO. If SpaceX are able to achieve their stated aim of making BFR a 100% reusable rocket, then the costs fall dramatically. All it would cost is propellant and some refurbishing ... and propellant is cheap, it makes up a relatively small fraction of the cost of a launch... less than US$240,000

Also, you have to fact in that BFR is expected to be able to lift a payload of 550 tonnes to LEO. Compare that with Falcon 9H which will lift 64 tonnes (you will need to launch 8 or 9 of these to match the payload to LEO of a single BFR launch) and the with Falcon 9FT, 23 tonnes (would require 24 Falcon 9FT launches).

Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations....

Falcon 9FT - 24 launches @ $62m per launch = $1,408m

Falcon 9H - 8½ launches @ $90m per launch = $765m

So, if BFR is less than $1.4bn/launch, its cheaper per kg->LEO than Falcon 9FT, and if its less than $765m/launch, its cheaper per KG->LEO than Falcon 9H.

NOTE:

Launch cost of a Space Shuttle as of 2011 was about $450m
Launch cost of a Saturn V was $1,160m in adjusted $ (2016)
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Old 6th October 2017, 06:43 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I hope not, but so far no one has even responded to my question about what the actual business plan is. Who are the intended customers for this Mars mission?

I'm a big fan of SpaceX, but if there's no market to do something, the technical ability to do it isn't all that meaningful.
Let me try to answer that question with some questions (not best practice I know, but here goes)

Who is/was the market for the following?

Pioneer
Voyager
IRAS
Chandra
Kepler
ISS
HST
JWST
Galileo
Cassini
MSL
New Horizons

I don't mean those who paid for these missions/probes, I mean what was their business plan for each of these? These missions together cost multiple billions of dollars. What was their RoI in dollar terms on those missions?
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Old 6th October 2017, 07:02 PM   #153
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Yes, the rocket will be more expensive to develop and build (hugely so)
Yes the rocket will cost more to launch.

But you aren't understanding what is meant by cheaper. Musk is talking about $/kg to LEO or GTO. If SpaceX are able to achieve their stated aim of making BFR a 100% reusable rocket, then the costs fall dramatically. All it would cost is propellant and some refurbishing ... and propellant is cheap, it makes up a relatively small fraction of the cost of a launch... less than US$240,000

Also, you have to fact in that BFR is expected to be able to lift a payload of 550 tonnes to LEO. Compare that with Falcon 9H which will lift 64 tonnes (you will need to launch 8 or 9 of these to match the payload to LEO of a single BFR launch) and the with Falcon 9FT, 23 tonnes (would require 24 Falcon 9FT launches).

Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations....

Falcon 9FT - 24 launches @ $62m per launch = $1,408m

Falcon 9H - 8½ launches @ $90m per launch = $765m

So, if BFR is less than $1.4bn/launch, its cheaper per kg->LEO than Falcon 9FT, and if its less than $765m/launch, its cheaper per KG->LEO than Falcon 9H.

NOTE:

Launch cost of a Space Shuttle as of 2011 was about $450m
Launch cost of a Saturn V was $1,160m in adjusted $ (2016)
BFR's the scaled down version of the ITS proposed last year, 9 m diameter and only capable of launching 150 metric tons. However, they actually hope to get the incremental launch cost lower than a Falcon 1. Not cost per kg, total cost of performing one additional launch with a working vehicle. That'd be similar to the fixed costs of launching the Falcon 9 or Heavy, with cleaner burning fuel and a vehicle designed from the ground up with lessons learned from the Falcon 9.

If it doesn't turn out to be pathologically maintenance heavy (the Raptor testing so far is promising), they should easily get the total cost per launch (including that of the vehicle, amortized across all the launches during its lifetime) below that of a partially-reusable Falcon 9 launch. That second stage is expensive. Recovering the fairings is expensive, and they're going to be more work to refurbish after a dunk in ocean water. The bigger fully-reusable ship takes more propellant to fly, but they'll be succeeding even beyond their stated goals if propellant costs become significant.
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Old 6th October 2017, 09:28 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Exactly. Which is why youshould care about the calculations. Providing the materials for the reaction is where the energy source comes in.

Look at it from the point of view of the hydrogen alone -

Allow the BFR to take off from Mars with 100 tonnes of methane, requiring some 25 tonnes of hydrogen for its synthesis. It will refuel in Earth orbit for the Earth landing). 50kw per kg of H2 is the figure I'm seeing for electrolysis of water.

Now you do the calculations for how many solar panels, running for a year, it would take to produce that much H2 (if you want it quicker, you need more arrays, obviously). It would put things in perspective if you could also indicate the size and weight of the arrays chosen, allowing for the Martian ones to be considerably lighter than terrestrial.
Where are you getting these requirements? Why 100 tonnes of methane - 300 tonnes of propellant? Why a year? Did someone say that was their plan? Why not 26 months, the actual length of time between launch windows? Are these just arbitrary numbers that you don't think will work?

But, know what, screw it, fine. A hundred tonnes of methane a year, because reasons.

That's 25E3 kg H2. At 50 kWh per kg, it comes out to 1.25E6 kWh total.
Divided by 365, we need 3425 kWh per day.
On earth, a square meter of typical solar panel can generate 1 kwh/day. Mars is about half that, so 3.5E3 kWh turns into 7E3 m^2 of paneling.
Googling around, you can buy rollable solar panels that weigh about a kilogram per square meter.
So, to generate 300 tonnes of propellant per year, you need to land with 7 tonnes of solar paneling.
Seven metric ****tons of solar panels is an awful lot of solar panels, but it's well within reasonable weight requirements.

Quote:
"Science will work it out! SpaceX are smart!" is not a skeptical line of argument.
Neither is obstinate pessimism. SpaceX does not have a history of ambitious projects which ultimately fail because of glaring logistical oversights. They do have a history of ambitious projects which ultimately succeed despite the conclusions of grumpy naysayers on the internets.

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Old 6th October 2017, 11:41 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Let me try to answer that question with some questions (not best practice I know, but here goes)
No problem. I'll try to address what seems to be your point, as it's clear to me that you are trying to say something about the issue that I actually brought up and not just raising a red herring. If I'm misinterpreting you, please feel free to correct me:

I think you are suggesting that just like NASA developed and payed for the Voyager probes without expecting to make money out of it, Musk may be planning to do the same thing for these Mars missions.

If that's his intention I applaud him and I'm all for it. I don't think he has the funds to do that, however. Nor do I think he has actually stated that goal.

Anyway, the way I see it so far there are a few options:

1. Musk plans to pay for the Mars program himself, out of the profits that SpaceX makes doing other things. That might just be viable, depending on how much business SpaceX can get doing other stuff. For instance if they can actually pull of the idea of replacing intercontinental flights.

2. The people who go to Mars will pay their own fare, and this will pay for the costs of the program, over the life of the program.

3. Musk plans to supply the vehicles for, say, NASA to use to explore Mars. Just like NASA pays for payloads to the space station, they might pay SpaceX to use their rockets to send payloads to Mars. SpaceX could see a return on investment by supplying a service to government funded science.

4. Some combination of all of the above.


But however it's funded, the money has to come from somewhere. Do you disagree? Do you think that I've missed some options?
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Old 7th October 2017, 12:58 AM   #156
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
No problem. I'll try to address what seems to be your point, as it's clear to me that you are trying to say something about the issue that I actually brought up and not just raising a red herring. If I'm misinterpreting you, please feel free to correct me:

I think you are suggesting that just like NASA developed and payed for the Voyager probes without expecting to make money out of it, Musk may be planning to do the same thing for these Mars missions.

If that's his intention I applaud him and I'm all for it. I don't think he has the funds to do that, however. Nor do I think he has actually stated that goal.

Anyway, the way I see it so far there are a few options:

1. Musk plans to pay for the Mars program himself, out of the profits that SpaceX makes doing other things. That might just be viable, depending on how much business SpaceX can get doing other stuff. For instance if they can actually pull of the idea of replacing intercontinental flights.

2. The people who go to Mars will pay their own fare, and this will pay for the costs of the program, over the life of the program.

3. Musk plans to supply the vehicles for, say, NASA to use to explore Mars. Just like NASA pays for payloads to the space station, they might pay SpaceX to use their rockets to send payloads to Mars. SpaceX could see a return on investment by supplying a service to government funded science.

4. Some combination of all of the above.


But however it's funded, the money has to come from somewhere. Do you disagree? Do you think that I've missed some options?
Pretty much agree with this. I do understand that all expenditure has to be funded from somewhere, but everything does not have to have a fiscal return... sometimes knowledge, and the downstream benefits we get from that knowledge are the return.

If every person and every organisation on the planet proceeded from the premise that no money is spent on anything unless they get a financial return, then how do missions and projects like the ones I listed get done? What about projects like the Large Hadron Collider (cost $6.4bn to build, and over $1bn annually to operate), or the LIGO Array ($620m to build from 1994 - 2002 an an additional $490m to run in the 15 years since first light). How much money have these two projects returned to the investors. How about all the huge astronomical telescopes, the GTC, Keck, LBT, HET, SALT, Subaru @ Mauna Kea, MMT, the VLT group of telescopes. These facilities cost tanker-loads of money to build and more tanker-loads of money to run. How much money do the investors get back for the money they put in?

If the whole human race took that attitude, there would be no vision, no innovation and no development. We'd be one step up from the apes, still living in caves.
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Old 7th October 2017, 01:23 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Pretty much agree with this. I do understand that all expenditure has to be funded from somewhere, but everything does not have to have a fiscal return... sometimes knowledge, and the downstream benefits we get from that knowledge are the return.

If every person and every organisation on the planet proceeded from the premise that no money is spent on anything unless they get a financial return, then how do missions and projects like the ones I listed get done? What about projects like the Large Hadron Collider (cost $6.4bn to build, and over $1bn annually to operate), or the LIGO Array ($620m to build from 1994 - 2002 an an additional $490m to run in the 15 years since first light). How much money have these two projects returned to the investors. How about all the huge astronomical telescopes, the GTC, Keck, LBT, HET, SALT, Subaru @ Mauna Kea, MMT, the VLT group of telescopes. These facilities cost tanker-loads of money to build and more tanker-loads of money to run. How much money do the investors get back for the money they put in?

If the whole human race took that attitude, there would be no vision, no innovation and no development. We'd be one step up from the apes, still living in caves.
It could be argued that doing things to feed the mind, not just the body, is the defining characteristic of human beings that distinguishes us from all other animals.

I would put the exploration of space in the same category as art, literature and music: things that we do to enrich our lives.
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Old 7th October 2017, 02:31 AM   #158
smartcooky
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
It could be argued that doing things to feed the mind, not just the body, is the defining characteristic of human beings that distinguishes us from all other animals.

I would put the exploration of space in the same category as art, literature and music: things that we do to enrich our lives.
I put pure science in the same category. We spend billions of dollars building a 27km long circular, underground atom smasher to try to discover what happened 13.8 billion years ago at the beginning of the Universe.

Why? Why do we need to know this? How does confirming Higgs' God Particle theory improve our everyday lives?
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Old 7th October 2017, 03:42 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Let me try to answer that question with some questions (not best practice I know, but here goes)

Who is/was the market for the following?

Pioneer
Voyager
IRAS
Chandra
Kepler
ISS
HST
JWST
Galileo
Cassini
MSL
New Horizons

I don't mean those who paid for these missions/probes, I mean what was their business plan for each of these? These missions together cost multiple billions of dollars. What was their RoI in dollar terms on those missions?
Those were scientific research programs sponsored by government agencies with no requirement for financial gain. Their "business plan", essentially, was "tax revenue and issue debt".

The corresponding plan in this case would be, "privately funded scientific research, paid for by siphoning profits from some other business venture, and taking out massive loans. Or maybe crowd funding".
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Old 7th October 2017, 03:49 AM   #160
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Those were scientific research programs sponsored by government agencies with no requirement for financial gain. Their "business plan", essentially, was "tax revenue and issue debt".

The corresponding plan in this case would be, "privately funded scientific research, paid for by siphoning profits from some other business venture, and taking out massive loans. Or maybe crowd funding".
But where is the monetary return?
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