We don't have a whiteboard, so this will have to do.

1 Aug 02, 2020 08:07 pm

in response to: What's the point?

I think I’ve figured it out. Not sure I like the answer, and credit to a variety of online bloggers for giving me the idea. I’ll expand in a future long form blog, but the short answer: NASA is betting on everyone, and every architecture, in order to create a market. If that means giveaways to the big contractors, so be it–but note that suddenly SpaceX has been given a contract to deliver cargo to a space station they could deliver in one Starship load. Coincidence? I think not.

2 Jul 21, 2019 03:50 pm

in response to: What's the point?

It gets worse, as I’ve learned since the original post. "Gateway" is supposed to be in a lunar polar orbit, meaning departure for Earth can only occur twice per lunar cycle. So, all of the danger, none of the safety. A recent AIAA Forum thread on this topic brought none other than Robert Zubrin to the conversation, having recently written an op-ed about the "lunar orbital tollbooth."

4 Mar 23, 2019 06:31 pm

in response to: Seeding the Forum

It turns out battling spambots is a little trickier than I’d expected. If you discover you’ve been banned, when you register with a new email, try to ensure your username and email seem like a logical pair. Random usernames coupled with random email addresses = probable spammer.

5 Apr 08, 2018 11:43 am

in response to: Maintenance Status and Site Progress

One other item on registration…I have account verification turned on because I’ve noticed a fair number of bots viewing the site…none of which have real email addresses, so they never actually activate their accounts.

Other than you subscribing to notifications, your email address won’t be used for anything.

7 Feb 21, 2018 10:01 pm

in response to: Thoughts on the First Launch--And Math

Following up, it looks like this was closer than I’d anticipated. First, the original story: https://www.space.com/39619-spacex-falcon-heavy-roadster-to-asteroid-belt.html

Second, the SpaceX answer to why the center core crashed: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/02/14/elon-musk-explains-why-spacexs-falcon-heavy-core-booster-crashed.html

Short version: they knowingly burned the first stage center core to near-exhaustion. How else do you explain that they didn’t have enough ignition fluid? Again, it’s not as if they don’t know how much they have, and how much they need.

It seems pretty clear the plan was to go right to the edge. An interesting question would be, "Why?" I’ll speculate that the primary reason was to minimize time passing through the Van Allen radiation belt. That’s based entirely on the fact that the second article suggests SpaceX was worried about it.

This also suggests that some other speculation is also true–that SpaceX is running very lean, i.e. they don’t have sufficient engineering capacity to go answer a lot of "what if" questions, even if those questions are just basic math. The fact that Falcon 9 can handle a single engine out, but apparently not two, I’d take as further evidence.

This matters. If Falcon 9 can’t handle two engines out, that’s a revenue problem. If BFR can’t handle two engines out, that’s program-ending. And if SpaceX doesn’t have capacity to go that deep into the "what ifs" of planning, then they’re going to need lots of outside support for all those non-railroad issues necessary to build a Mars base.

Now I just need some engineers…

8 Jan 01, 2018 05:53 pm

in response to: Lockheed Martin's 2017 IAC Presentation

I’ve now had the opportunity to read the whole paper at Lockheed Martin Mars Base Camp, and am working my way through the 2016 resources. I think there may be a bit more to this than meets the eye. My sense is that LM is offering up some interesting technologies and infrastructure, but the management still won’t let them acknowledge that their concepts will be supporting rather than in the lead. Even the idea that some commercial entities will supply water to Mars orbit suggests they believe SpaceX is going to be a player; they’re just relegating them to the role of cargo supplier.

The primary problem with this entire concept is that it starts with the premise that everything should be reusable, and then proceeds to assume SLS and the ULA launchers for everything important. I count 12 expendable launches just taking MBC to MBC-Surface Ops (Figure 5) , which begs the question, "Why?" Never mind BFR, why aren’t any of those Falcon Heavies? You can’t argue Technology Readiness Level–FH will make its first flight this month, even if it blows to pieces. SLS won’t launch for at least another year, followed by a 3 year hiatus, and doesn’t even have its real second stage designed.

The only logical answer I can come up with is management not wanting to get ahead of their NASA patrons. The optimist in me says there’s an internal LM plan to make their equipment FH-compatible, to be announced as soon as NASA gives the go-ahead. The pessimist in me says LM management has ordered that using SpaceX vehicles in a leading role is off-limits. for planning. I hope that’s not the case, because I’m starting to think about how some of the SLS infrastructure could be utilized in a joint architecture–just not with SLS as the booster.

9 Oct 22, 2017 09:18 am

in response to: Lockheed Martin's 2017 IAC Presentation

I should clarify–this isn’t a criticism of the engineers giving the presentation. I think they did a fine job, within the constraints LM gave them. But overall, it seemed more like a justification for building the Deep Space Gateway as a precursor and a desperate plea for Orion.

10 Sep 15, 2017 03:26 pm

in response to: Markdown examples

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11 Sep 14, 2017 10:35 pm

in response to: Extended topic with no teaser

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12 Sep 14, 2017 04:47 am

in response to: Image topic

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