Countdown begins: America's return to human space travel

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ThreatMatrix, May 23, 2020.

  1. ThreatMatrix

    ThreatMatrix In shambles
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    This Wednesday at 4:33PM a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket will launch a Crew Dragon capsule from KSC launch pad 39A carrying 2 astronauts for a rendezvous with the ISS marking the first time since the shuttle that America has the capability to launch humans to space. For the last nine years we've had to hitch a ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

    Facts you may not know about the mission:

    1) The Dragon is not your granddaddy's crew capsule: The capsule is spacious, easy to enter and exit, and controlled by touch panels. Crew Dragon can carry seven passengers but will rarely carry more than four.


    2) Crew Dragon can land propulsively (but it won't).
    The Crew Dragon's abort motors are built into the capsule as opposed to the launch abort towers that you normally see:
    [​IMG]
    In addition they are not using solid rocket motors but instead are using liquid fueled engines. Because of that the engines can be precisely controlled which is needed for propulsive landing. However it does take a little more time and money to qualify the spacecraft. Instead they will land in the ocean under 'chutes just like the old days. The capsule will then be reused for unmanned cargo missions. But this is how it would have looked.



    3) SpaceX has been flying cargo missions to the ISS for years. All they had to do was modify the Dragon for humans.

    4) SpaceX is cheap: A shuttle launch cost close to $2B but of course it carried more cargo. We currently pay Russia $86M per seat. Boeing, if it ever flys, will charge $90M per seat. SpaceX however, is doing it for $55M per seat.

    5) SpaceX has been busier than you know: This will be their 94th mission and the 86th for a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX has launched 36 times just this year. Of course those rockets land and are reused.

    6) Of Course I Still Love You: The landing barges that SpaceX uses have strange names. In addition to OCISLY that will recover this booster they also have the "Ms. Tree" and the "Ms. Chief". Depending on the ascent profile the boosters can land back at KSC or if a more energetic launch is required the boosters land down range on these barges. The downside of landing downrange is....

    7) Weather: The ascent will follow a course up the east coast that matches the inclination of the ISS orbit*. Because of the need for calm weather in order to recover the booster or a capsule in case of an abort the weather will need to be clear all the way up to Nova Scotia. So even if the weather is beautiful here in Florida we could still get a scrub because of down range weather.

    8) Whatever happened to Boeing?: NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to deliver six missions each to the ISS. However Boeing failed it's uncrewed test mission. It could be 2 more years before Boeing can launch a crewed mission so in the mean time SpaceX may be getting those missions. Keep in mind that Boeing also got an additional $270M because at the start of the program they said that SpaceX had a head start.

    9) I'll be there. I lived in Orlando during the Apollo missions so we could watch from our backyard. My mother had a condo on the Indian River that had a great view of Shuttle launches. So despite NASA discouraging people from coming to watch live I'll be taking a drive over to Titusville to get a good view.

    *Bonus Fact: NASA's original plan for the space station was for it to have a near equatorial orbit that matched the plane of orbits of the moon and planets. That would have allowed the station to be a platform for sending missions to the rest of the solar system. But because of budget cuts NASA was forced to partner with Russia and the International Space Station was born. However Russia's launch complexes are far north so in order for both them and us to be able to reach the ISS it's orbit has to be more polar than equatorial. And despite the partnership with Russia we bear the lion's share of the cost of keeping the thing "afloat". The ISS is funded through 2024 however the plan is to keep it going until 2030.
     
    • ThreatMatrix

      ThreatMatrix In shambles
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    • cover2

      cover2 I've grown old
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      @ThreatMatrix thats a lot of info! Had no idea we were back in this business again. I can remember the first time seeing a tv in the school house (which was akin to heresy in the 60’s and 70’s) was when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Everybody went nuts over space, rockets, and astronauts. I was caught up in it too.

      Fast forward to ‘86 and ‘03. I was home for lunch and watched the Challenger go to pieces as it launched. In ‘03 I was at an area competition cheer event In Sylvester Ga when Columbia disintegrated on reentry (I was in the car listening on the radio). Those two disasters pretty much dulled my enthusiasm for most things NASA and space related.

      I guess at my age I’m more concerned with things here on earth than what may lie beyond. I’m sure there is a significant scientific reason and I really hope it is fruitful.
       
      • AugustaGator

        AugustaGator Junior Member
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        If nothing more for the challenge.
         
      • ThreatMatrix

        ThreatMatrix In shambles
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        The economic benefits fills volumes.
         
      • cover2

        cover2 I've grown old
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        Little older space/ astronaut stuff for you. This was one of the most checked out books in the school library...

        6B66E8BC-F8A1-41DF-B83C-C107C0632D3F.jpeg
         
        • MJMGator

          MJMGator Slightly amused
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          Young Zambo
           
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          • NVGator

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            My boys love this book.
             
            • ThreatMatrix

              ThreatMatrix In shambles
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              Coincidently that's what Zambo has been wearing during the faux pandemic.
               
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              • ThreatMatrix

                ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                Some good news here. Although NASA is officially not recommending people come visit for the launch, which means not opening their viewing areas, Titusville is welcoming people to come view. Titusville, of course, sits right across the Indian River from the launch site.
                 
              • ThreatMatrix

                ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                Find A Viewing - Space Coast Launches

                If Wednesday's launch is scrubbed due to weather the next window is on Saturday.

                The astronauts will be arriving in Tesla Model X's. Also they will be wearing new space suits designed by SpaceX.
                [​IMG]

                On the technical side SpaceX will be doing something different for this launch. Typically the rocket is fueled before astronauts board. The old reasoning was that fueling was dangerous and they wanted no one near. SpaceX argued that their fueling was safer and in any case the astronauts were safe in the capsule which has the abort system that would carry them far away in the event of a RUD (Rapid Unplanned Disassembly) . NASA agreed.
                 
              • AugustaGator

                AugustaGator Junior Member
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                RUD!
                 
                • ThreatMatrix

                  ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                  Speaking of acronyms, Musk famously hates them
                  How Elon Musk Declared War On Acronyms - OfficeChai
                  Actual Memo is in the link

                  How Elon Musk Declared War On Acronyms
                  Posted on January 13, 2016 by Bart Eshwar

                  Acronyms. So Space X CEO and all-round badass Elon Musk really hated them. They made him go fml and wtf. So when employees at Space X were having conversations about how the JTB was going to impact the TKRM of the VSR, Musk stepped in.

                  In an incredibly direct memo to his Space X staff, Musk raged on the acronym. “Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to conversation”, he scolded. “No one can actually remember them and people don’t want to seem dumb in a meeting, so they just sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees.”

                  He set out a pretty clear ultimatum – any acronym that was to enter the Space X glossary would have to be approved by him. He also directed that all existing acronyms that couldn’t be reasonably justified would be scrapped.
                   
                  • Gatordiddy

                    Gatordiddy Well-Known Member
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                  • bradgator2

                    bradgator2 Internet Bully
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                    I prefer the direct spacex channel:

                    SpaceX

                    “watch demo-2 launch”
                     
                    • Gatordiddy

                      Gatordiddy Well-Known Member
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                      I opened both and it looks like the same people talking...
                      They mentioned lightning in the area may be an issue.

                      Florida weather in the late afternoon... who scheduled this? :)
                       
                    • Gatordiddy

                      Gatordiddy Well-Known Member
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                      aborted... well, poop.

                      May 30th I guess...
                       
                      • ThreatMatrix

                        ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                        No launch today. I found a pretty good viewing spot - could see launch pad. Weather wasn't terrible but lightning showed up south east of the launch pad. I'll try again Saturday.
                        Launch windows are pretty tight. The ISS is orbiting every 90 minutes so you have to launch when the ISS is overhead in order to rendezvous. And by the next orbit the launch site has moved something like a 1000 miles. So today the ISS was passing over KSC around 4:30. Tomorrow it will be a little earlier, By Saturday it will be around 3:30. So they could wait a few more weeks until it's in the morning. But they figure why wait. Could have bad weather any time of day.
                         
                        • ThreatMatrix

                          ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                          Not looking like the weather is going to cooperate this weekend. A frustrating thing is that while we wait for DM2 to launch it is holding up testing of the StarShip in BocaChica.
                          StarShip will be a using a new engine that has never been tried before. The Raptor engine runs on Methane. Rockets typically run on Hydrogen (the Shuttle) or RP1 aka rocket fuel which is refined kerosene. Saturn V ran on RP1 as does the Falcon rocket that's launching DM2. But Methane is easy to make on Mars so Elon went with Methane. The Raptor is also a Full Flow Staged Combustion cycle engine. Without going into the particulars of rocket engine design let's just say it's the first of it's kind to fly. But fly it has on a demo called starhopper that did a 150m hop last year. That proved the engine.
                          Starship requires 6 Raptors. SuperHeavy that Starship rides on requires 31. That's a lot but have no fear Elon is building one every two weeks and will be down to a few days once production ramps up. So right now in Boca Chica they have been static fires with a raptor attached to a StarShip and they are ready to do a 150m hop with that. But they want to wait until DM2 has flown before they do the test. It wouldn't be a good look for the thing to blow up (RUD) right before the DM2 flight.
                          But here's the amazing thing about SpaceX. Right after they do the 150m hop they are going to do a flight to 26,000 feet. At that point they'll stick 3 raptors on Starship. And it gets better. SpaceX thinks that once they work out the kinks with Starship the SuperHeavy will be easy to build. As Elon says it's just fuel tanks with engines attached. Then they will launch the whole thing into Orbit and he hopes to do that by the end of the year. The pace at which SpaceX operates is supersonic compared to any of the old school contractors. Boeing is 5 years behind on SLS and it's using Shuttle engines and Shuttle boosters. SpaceX will probably orbit a totally new rocket before SLS even gets off the ground.

                          Here's a picture of a Starship (sans nose cone) on the test stand. On the top is a weight that simulates the weight of the nose cone. It's landing legs are hidden under the engine skirt. Also you can see in the picture to the left Starhopper that did the hop test to prove the Raptor. This pick was taken right before a static test. To the right you see methane being vented and burned off. (it caught the grass on fire). That's SN4. SN5 which will go to 26k feet will have a nose cone and fins and is partially built already. As is SN6 which presumably do the orbital flight.
                          [​IMG]
                           
                          #19 ThreatMatrix, May 28, 2020 at 10:50 PM
                          Last edited: May 28, 2020 at 11:08 PM
                          • ThreatMatrix

                            ThreatMatrix In shambles
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                            Oops. SN4 blows up during static test. On to SN5.
                             
                            #20 ThreatMatrix, May 29, 2020 at 8:18 PM
                            Last edited: May 29, 2020 at 8:34 PM

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