NASA to SpaceX

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#1 NASA to SpaceX

Post by bernomatic » Thu, 02 Mar 17, 13:49 pm

February 27, 2017
RELEASE 17-010
NASA Statement About SpaceX Private Moon Venture Announcement
The following is a statement on SpaceX’s announcement Monday about a private space mission around the moon:

“NASA commends its industry partners for reaching higher.

“We will work closely with SpaceX to ensure it safely meets the contractual obligations to return the launch of astronauts to U.S. soil and continue to successfully deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

“For more than a decade, NASA has invested in private industry to develop capabilities for the American people and seed commercial innovation to advance humanity's future in space.

“NASA is changing the way it does business through its commercial partnerships to help build a strong American space economy and free the agency to focus on developing the next-generation rocket, spacecraft and systems to go beyond the moon and sustain deep space exploration.”

-end-


Press Contacts

Tabatha Thompson / Kathryn Hambleton
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-4811 / 202-358-1409
tabatha.t.thompson@nasa.gov / kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov


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Sounds like a glowing endorsement to me :lol:
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#2 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by luke strawwalker » Thu, 02 Mar 17, 23:18 pm

Sounds like "Guido" making a threat to me...

Nothing that happens between NASA and its "contractors" happens, if you'll forgive the pun, in a vacuum... NASA doesn't just issue "congratulatory statements" like that, especially not after a few days or week or whatever it's been since the announcement by SpaceX...

When you learn to read between the lines, what they're subtly saying is, "Congratulations on your announcement, but if you do ANYTHING to show us up and make NASA look bad in front of Congress and the President, like say, shooting a couple paying tourists around the Moon before we can even get our SLS/Orion off the ground into LEO, we'll make sure you pay for it... like, say, we'll make life a living hell making sure you meet your "contractual obligations" on commercial crew development and ISS resupply contracts... and we'll fix it so you'll NEVER get a gubmint contract again... space is NASA's sandbox-- we just ALLOW you to play in it, and we can disallow you just as easily".

Now of course all the smiling stuffed shirts would NEVER admit to such a thing, but this is what's going on "behind closed doors". The fact that President Trumps people are asking NASA for a feasibility study of moving up EM-1 and making it MANNED and sending it to loop around the Moon rather than waiting on EM-2 in 2021 to do it, since EM-1 is scheduled to fly (perhaps, if it doesn't slip, which isn't saying much) sometime in late 2018 or 2019 (more likely at the earliest) on an unmanned shakedown cruise of SLS and Orion... then NASA will sit on their collective asses for another THREE YEARS before sending a crew looping around the Moon ala Zond 5 (1968) and returning to Earth on a free-return trajectory. WHO KNOWS WHAT will happen after that... nothing is scheduled OR budgeted...

I think that the powers that be (PTBs) within NASA are getting worried... and rightfully slow. The glacial, hell, FOSSILIZED pace that Orion (which has been in development now for THIRTEEN YEARS with only one unmanned hop on a Delta-IV Heavy to show for it) and SLS development (which has been in development for SEVEN years now, not even counting all the previous work done on "shuttle derived" solutions over DECADES prior to the 2010 cancellation of Ares I and Ares V under project Constellation) has gotten the attention, if even in a "backroom" sort of way, of the new President, and he wants answers. Of course NASA isn't a front-burner issue, nor will it be. But, for the bureaucratic hacks and career gubmint managers running NASA, it's very much on THEIR front burner. They KNOW that Elon Musk has President Trump's ear in space matters... I wouldn't be surprised if this "announcement" is some sort of a 'trial balloon' or "shot across the bow" to NASA from Trump and his people to let NASA know, "yall have dithered long enough-- time to *oops you said word #1 or get off the pot-- you're in danger of becoming irrelevant." In the language of politics, NASA, after having a huddle of its "main culprits" A-team, has come back issuing this statement, basically saying, "we're not going without a fight, and we can make a hell of a lot of problems for SpaceX (and by extension any other 'commercial' contractor doing business with us) who crosses us. It's all part of the back-n-forth of Washington, agency, and industry insiders... what goes on in those "smoke filled rooms" we used to hear about...

NASA is worried IMHO with good reason. SLS and Orion are going to be ENORMOUSLY expensive, and the slow-rolled Chinese space program on Viagra flight rates they have planned for SLS will ENSURE that SLS will be *THE* most expensive space launch system ever conceived. There will be NO amortization of the workforce or the infrastructure needed to support the SLS capability over multiple launches per year, like there was with shuttle (no glowing example of cost effectiveness in its own right-- it made the "super expensive" Saturn V look downright affordable by comparison!), because with one launch every 2-3 years (at most, according to all present schedules) each launch and each mission will have to carry the burden of MULTIPLE YEARS of overhead and personnel costs as part of its mission costs... SLS is already going to be around a BILLION bucks per launch, and that's just the costs for the launcher itself, not including the payloads (if any are ever funded and developed) or the mission costs. We know from the shuttle program that despite NASA's assertion that each launch was "only about $450 million", that basically when one divides the attributable (not total-- we'll never know the TOTAL shuttle program costs due to creative accounting on NASA's part during the SSF/ISS era, when they shuffled money around that had been allocated to SSF/ISS to the shuttle program when it was in trouble and needed additional, but unforthcoming, funding, and then did the opposite and shuffled money from the shuttle program into stalled SSF/ISS development when they couldn't get Congressional authorization for additional funding to help those programs over a hump). Anyway, the "final driveout price" of the shuttle program divided by the 135 total flights made comes out to about $1-1.2 billion per flight, IIRC. In the end, it would have been cheaper to continue flying Saturn V's for EVERY SINGLE SHUTTLE LAUNCH, which could have orbited FIVE TIMES the payload capacity of the shuttle on EVERY FLIGHT. SLS will be WAY more expensive than shuttle ever dreamed of being, because 1) shuttle amortized the overhead costs of keeping the lights on at MSFC, KSC, JSC, and MAF every year over at a minimum 2-3 flights per year, and sometimes many more (up to 8 IIRC, which was the highest flight rate shuttle ever achieved IIRC), and 2) Shuttle was at least PARTIALLY reusable, in that you got the orbiter, boosters, and SSME's back, although the standing army and huge costs of refurbishment meant it was cheaper to simply build new ones than refurbish the old ones for reuse (especially in the case of the SRB's-- SLS made the mistake of keeping THE most expensive part of the entire shuttle system, and now will use it in EXPENDABLE fashion-- no more SRB recoveries-- they'll be allowed to crash into the Atlantic and sink after every mission til they're gone... of course ATK wants a billion bucks to develop the new "Advanced" composite SRB's to replace them, and they'll probably get it, if SLS survives). It's been YEARS (2010-11) since SLS was approved and NASA was 'ordered' to develop it, yet NO payloads for it have EVER been funded, and no missions for it beyond the first two 'test' missions have ever been scheduled or funded. SLS has already slipped its original first launch date (just like the shuttle system before it did, ultimately slipping from the original plans for launches as early as 1977 early in the program, to a firmer date of 1979 once the program was well underway, and eventually slipping to 1981 before a shuttle ever actually flew.... which is something I anticipated happening YEARS ago simply based on historical precedent) and now is scheduled for an unmanned flight test (EM-1) on SLS sometime in late 2018 (but that's likely to slip again by all accounts, and it probably will).

The 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 is approaching in 2019, and politically what better way to say "America is great again" than launching a crew to loop around the Moon in 2019 on SLS/Orion?? NO WAY they could do the unmanned test mission in 2018 and turn around and do a manned mission in 2019, hence the White House question to NASA "can you make EM-1 manned?" even with the implied year-long 'slip' built in from 2018 to 2019... NASA is studying the issue, but in all likelihood the answer is "no" (and it SHOULD be "no" until NASA has proven that SLS/Orion works as advertised-- this isn't 1968 anymore, the Russians aren't weeks away from launching another Zond around the Moon, this time potentially manned, to steal NASA and America's thunder and claim they "got to the Moon first"... I could only imaging the fallout of having a couple astronauts (NASA has already said they'd probably only launch 2 in the 4 person Orion on a manned EM-1) tumble off into space or die from a failure on SLS/Orion with no backup available on an ill-advised "commemoration mission" around the Moon in a more or less unproven Orion... It might finish manned exploration for good...

At any rate, despite the grandstanding by SpaceX and the growing capabilities of some of the other commercial space providers, NASA is still on it's 'slow roll' program schedule and doesn't want *anybody else* rocking the boat. IF SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy later this year, or even early next year, with a 70 tonne to orbit capability (same as SLS mark 1) and it costs a FRACTION of what SLS does, the questions obvious to everyone will be "WHY are we still funding NASA's decades long experiment in shuttle derived rockets capable of doing the SAME THING that Falcon Heavy can do for a FRACTION of the cost??" NASA's worried about that, but they already have dreamed up their answers-- "too small, can't handle a big enough payload fairing for Mars missions, etc. etc. etc-- we have to have our OWN SUPER-ROCKET!" People, especially Congresscritters looking for aerospace jobs back in their home districts and wanting to reward the powerful aerospace lobbyist's companies, will buy that argument and keep the gravy train rolling, and NASA knows that. A SpaceX shot around the Moon in a manned Dragon 2, though-- that will be harder to wave away. NASA apologists have used the excuse for years that "Dragon isn't designed for deep space missions-- ONLY NASA can do a lunar mission!" and other such nonsense to "wave off" plans SpaceX has discussed (and other more open minded folks have suggested that NASA simply buy ALL their spacecraft from SpaceX, either for astronauts to ISS or to the Moon and elsewhere in deep space...). IF SpaceX WERE to fly a couple PAYING TOURISTS, not "highly trained NASA astronauts with "the right stuff" around the Moon in their Dragon 2, potentially within months to a year of FINALLY getting NASA's go-ahead to fly astronauts to the ISS on Dragon 2, it would pretty much throw egg all over NASA's face, especially when their "own highly advanced Orion MPCV deep space vehicle" was either just flown or just about to fly UNMANNED on its first test mission... and again, a vehicle that's been in design for THIRTEEN YEARS (more like 15 by that point in time!) The question would immediately spring to mind, "WHY do we need to keep funding NASA to build Orion when SpaceX has just demonstrated the SAME CAPABILITY to get astronauts to the lunar vicinity at a FRACTION of the cost and time (in development)??

I think either way the chickens are going to come home to roost for NASA. Nobody really will admit it yet. Instead of adapting, they intend to ride the 'gravy train' until it goes off the cliff, AGAIN (ala Project Constellation) and finally ends up canceled for good. NASA isn't REALLY interested in going anywhere or doing anything-- they're content to fly astronauts on Russian Soyuz's to the ISS until the thing is either falling apart or defunded, which Congress shows no signs of being interested in doing. NASA can't afford to do any exploration program and ISS concurrently-- that's a given, because Congress won't increase the money to fund it. That's why there's no payloads and no missions scheduled for SLS. NASA has been running Orion on a slow-roll since 2004 when it was approved; true development suffered due to repeated weight scrubs and redesigns imposed by the failed Ares I design before its ultimate cancellation in 2010... NASA Administrator Griffin did a "scorched Earth" policy on the shuttle infrastructure, ordering capabilities and facilities be destroyed at the soonest opportunity when they were no longer needed to support the final flyout of the shuttle missions in 2011, to prevent the shuttle program from being "resurrected" via various extensions, as was talked about at the time. Orion FINALLY flew on a Delta IV Heavy, unmanned, in late 2014 for its first test. Of course that begs the question, "Why not fly Orions to ISS on DIVH, obviating the need for Soyuz and Russian launches to carry OUR astronauts to ISS?" NASA's pat answer-- "DIVH is not man-rated and cannot be man-rated." The Commercial Crew Program has been underfunded since the get-go; it's never been a Congressional favorite-- NASA tolerates it because it frees them of responsibility for developing a capability to launch astronauts to ISS, and gives them an "escape hatch" because if anything happens, "it's the contractor's fault!" NASA has been 'slow rolling' the commercial crew development as well, because they're NOT going to allow CCDev to pay off before SLS flies... it would be an embarrassment to NASA. SO, since SLS has fallen behind, they simply slow things down in the CCDev side of things to hold the commercial manned launch capability back until SLS flies. A TOTALLY COMMERCIAL "paying tourist" jaunt around the Moon in Dragon 2, which "NASA PAID FOR AS PART OF CCDEV" (to their way of thinking) is simply unacceptable-- ESPECIALLY BEFORE NASA itself can fly SLS MANNED, or right around the time NASA FINALLY flies an SLS PERIOD!

IMHO, that's what that statement means... WAY more going on "behind the camera" than what we see in front of it...

Later! OL J R :)
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#3 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by bernomatic » Thu, 02 Mar 17, 23:53 pm

In a way you are right, but what Elon Musk sees and you may not, is Jeff Bezos. There may be someone else also, I'm not sure. But the rich guys are playing now and NASA better watch out out be left in the dust. To these guys it's more than national pride, it's about self image. They know the other is working on getting out into space. They aren't going to let the other guy get there first and NASA be dammed.
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#4 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by luke strawwalker » Fri, 03 Mar 17, 06:56 am

bernomatic wrote:In a way you are right, but what Elon Musk sees and you may not, is Jeff Bezos. There may be someone else also, I'm not sure. But the rich guys are playing now and NASA better watch out out be left in the dust. To these guys it's more than national pride, it's about self image. They know the other is working on getting out into space. They aren't going to let the other guy get there first and NASA be dammed.
Yeah, to an extent... but Bezos is YEARS away from flying ANYTHING beyond suborbital tourist hops for the ultra-rich, and SpaceX knows that... What SpaceX is talking about doing is WAY beyond anything that Bezos can do in the foreseeable future.

Now, Bezos has his own "ace in the hole", in that the Air Force has chosen his BE-4 methalox engine to replace the Russian RD-180 on Atlas V, and word is it's got the inside track for the "Vulcan" launcher beyond that (which is basically Atlas V Phase 2 proposal from years ago-- take the larger Delta IV tank size and reapportion it for heavier propellants (instead of the LH2/LOX used in Delta IV to feed it's RS-68) and top it off with an ACES hydrogen burning stage. Basically he's getting the Air Force to pay for his big engine development. That's smart, because at some point he'll be able to leapfrog SpaceX with the big engine. SpaceX will need Raptor and a larger successor to Merlin to compete at that point. Like I said, smart...

Sorta like the difference between the short term game and the long term game...

As for NASA, they have nobody to blame but themselves. All these studies I post, proves the point, that NASA has been "studying" the question over and over and over again since at least the mid-late 60's (how to do a Mars mission, or even a "permanent" presence on the Moon) and they keep getting the SAME ANSWERS, but they either 1) don't believe it, or 2) can't sell it (get it funded). SO, they keep looking for some "magic bullet" to solve their problems when it's basically a problem of funding... Of course, NASA HAD all the hardware to do Mars in 1972, but they CHOSE to throw in behind the Space Shuttle, thinking some golden age of cheap weekly spaceflight was just around the corner, and traded what they had in the bargain. Now 50 years later, the whopping mistake that was is plain for ALL to see...

What I don't understand is WHY NASA didn't build their own equivalent of Falcon 9 YEARS ago... if a "bunch of kids" (commercial new-space company) can do it, NASA SHOULD have had the technology and capability to do it themselves YEARS ago... If NASA had come out with their own version of Falcon 9 by 2010, we'd be having a VERY different discussion right now! Instead, NASA seems HOPELESSLY mired in the past, set on building a super-gigantic rocket out of super-expensive old shuttle parts that they'll have to build super-expensive new copies of once the existing stuff is gone (since it's being flown to destruction) and they don't even have any friggin' payloads or missions for it! Then, to top it all off, they're proceeding at a glacial pace that even an anemic snail with a toe fungus could outrun, and spending billions in the effort...

Elon and Bezos ARE passing them by... NASA is great about starting stuff, but never finishing it, then leaving it to gather dust on a shelf somewhere or, more recently, selling it off to wily investors... For instance, SpaceX's Merlin rocket engine got its start as a NASA experimental engine called "FASTRAC". RS-68 was basically NASA's design for a souped-up Space Transportation Main Engine originally proposed as part of the National Launch System (NLS) proposals after Challenger (which morphed into the Advanced Launch System (ALS) once the NLS program studies were terminated in the early 90s). NASA experimented and pioneered the design of inflatable habs in the 90's, shelved the technology before any flight demonstrators were built for lack of funding, and finally sold the technology to Bigelow, who is now selling the finished product back to NASA (and planning his own space hotels at some point). The study I just did this afternoon shows an RL-10 engined lunar lander designed to run on methane... which WAS ORIGINALLY the plan for Constellation for Orion's Service Module, but the methane engine didn't survive til the ink was dry. Now Bezos is building the BE-4 methane/propane powered engine... which will be a terrific big booster engine...

The "cutting edge" passed from NASA to industry a long time ago as well... most of the booster and propulsion innovators went to industry in the NASA 'brain drain' of the 70's and NASA never really has gotten that capability back. Thing is, they went to work for Lockheed and Boeing and Martin Marietta and North American/Rockwell and Thiokol ATK and the other big aerospace conglomerates who were providing the "commercial" services to NASA as contractors assembling what NASA sent them blueprints to build... which was basically the same-old same old... It took the Challenger disaster to 'shake the tree' enough to get the Air Force moving and get companies seriously looking at expendable vehicles again. The Air Force went back to "old reliable" (the Titan III and morphed it into Titan IV) but it proved just as expensive as shuttle, which is to say, ridiculously expensive, so they FINALLY put out for a new expendable launch vehicle, and started the EELV program. Atlas V and Delta IV were the winners. NOTE that NEITHER OF THEM were designed to use LARGE SRB's from the beginning! BOTH were designed around the common core LRB principle of strapping 3 identical cores together for the "heavy" configuration. If the AIR FORCE realized that large solid rockets were a huge reason for the expense of Titan IV and moved away from that, then WHY did NASA choose to stick with large solids which are INHERENTLY LIMITING to the program because they're NOT upgradeable or scalable... (not without HUGE expensive programs to build larger SRB's or totally change to different infrastructure). Delta IV got there first with the 3 core version, and Atlas's 3 core version was never built. LITTLE solid rocket boosters (monolithics) came in to "supplement" the capabilities of the rockets (as they did on Delta before and eventually Atlas, and I've seen plans for a Titan II with small solids like Delta II as well...)

Anyway, I REALLY hope that SpaceX can get Falcon Heavy up this year, and can get Dragon 2 flying with people, NASA or otherwise, in the near future (this year or next, most likely "next" from what I've been reading). It will REALLY shake things up and light a fire under some collective asses that have been sitting in the comfort zone for FAR too long...

As for SLS, I just don't see that thing being supportable for the long haul... It'd be about like buying, licensing, insuring, and buying fuel and a barn to store it, a brand new semi-truck, just because you haul your lawnmower over to your Grandmother's twice a year to cut her grass... and the rest of the time it sits. Just maintaining the CAPABILITY to crank out SLS's is going to cost a fortune, and only flying on every 2-3 years, well, that's going to get someone's bang/buck ratio meter off-scale low... If it DOES survive (on sheer inertia or because NOBODY in gubmint can imagine doing anything differently-- the shuttle mafia is VERY MUCH still in position, alive, and kicking!) I can't see it flying beyond what the existing SRB casings and SSME's will support. Supposedly there's enough shuttle hardware (SRB casings and SSME's) for six flights. I don't think it'll even last that long, myself... it's simply going to be too expensive. These things aren't like building cars, where when business is slow you just furlough everybody and send them home, shutter the plant, and wait for enough orders to build up to call everybody back, turn the lights on, and go back to making new cars (or rockets). Doesn't work that way. The shuttle "standdowns" in the wake of Challenger and Columbia cost HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars to just keep the shuttle program ALIVE, even though they were flying *nothing* at the time! SLS is going to be that *times ten*... Sure, it's a smaller 'standing army' but you'll have Michoud cranking out a core every other year and Stennis testing a pair of SSME's a year and Thiokol cranking out a pair of SRB's every other year, etc. etc. etc. Sounds like a LOT of VERY EXPENSIVE "wrench polishing" to me and not much to show for it. All those guys will get paychecks every week whether they're building something or not... They'll still have to keep the lights on at all those places, still have to have guys working at KSC, whether they're assembling and launching one vehicle every 2-3 years or not, etc... all that COSTS BIG MONEY, for a rocket that basically has NO USE scheduled for it and NO PAYLOADS OR MISSIONS BUDGETED AND ALLOCATED for it... I just don't see that lasting very long... It'd be like GM keeping the Corvette factory open and everybody on the payroll and all the machinery in place just to crank out say 3 new Corvettes a year... how much do you think those cars would have to cost to pay for THAT?? Now imagine building one Corvette every THREE years, and having to make enough off it to pay for keeping the factory open and the employees paid all that time...

THAT is SLS.

IF SpaceX can get Falcon Heavy up, and crewed Dragon up and running successfully, I think it will go a LONG way to putting SLS and Orion out to pasture, especially once it becomes clear that 1) SLS/Orion is going to be BREATHTAKINGLY EXPENSIVE to maintain the capability to fly, 2) SLS/Orion, after well over a DECADE of development, STILL cannot perform any meaningful deep space missions without BILLIONS of dollars more and years (more like a decade) MORE development to produce an in-space propulsion stage, advanced composite SRB's, and probably a new second stage as well, and 3) NO such missions are even scheduled beyond tentative proposals, and 4) NO payloads have been budgeted or developed, which will require BILLIONS more in development and probably a decade to complete, test, and flight certify before any REAL missions can be done! Besides, as I mentioned before, NASA simply CANNOT afford to do *anything* exploration-wise AND continue the ISS program at the same time-- just as they never could develop a SHUTTLE SUCCESSOR while continuing to operate the shuttle program as well... (despite several efforts along those lines). Hell they couldn't even get major shuttle upgrades like advanced flyback LRB's or anything else for that matter... the best they ever managed was the super light weight tank (SLWT) program to cut excess weight out of the ET design by switching to aluminum-lithium alloy...

SLS block 1 really gets you basically *nothing* in and of itself... it meets the preliminary goal of a 70 tonne to orbit vehicle, but it STILL needs a dedicated in-space propulsion stage to perform any realistic missions... sure the Delta IV Upper Stage is serving as an "interim in space propulsion stage" but it's very limited-- a real in space stage needs longer loiter times (less boiloff of hydrogen) and more propulsive power and larger propellant tankage. Orion, unlike Apollo, was designed around a MUCH SMALLER and LESS CAPABLE service propulsion system (SPS) and simply DOES NOT have the capabilities that Apollo did, like braking itself into lunar orbit (LOI burn) and blasting itself back out of lunar orbit on course for Earth (TEI burn). It can do one or the other, NOT BOTH. It needs a STAGE or PAYLOAD with sufficient propulsion to brake it into lunar orbit... (which is why the Altair lander was SO friggin' big, harking back to the days of FLO-- because it braked the stack into LLO and then did powered descent and landing (PDL) on the Moon as well!) To get to SLS block 2, will take at least 2 MAJOR development programs-- advanced composite SRB's, and a full-on in-space propulsion stage, and most likely, a THIRD program for a large upper ascent to orbit propulsion "second stage" for SLS, basically like the S-II stage on Saturn V, in order to get to the full 130 tonne variant required for the advanced missions NASA has concocted for Mars, etc. PLUS, it STILL doesn't pay for payload development programs for habs, landers, EDL techology for manned spacecraft at Mars, advanced propulsion (NTR, etc) and power generation (nuclear surface power reactors) for Mars, rovers, etc. ALL those are extra programs that have to be funded... NASA basically has the hubcaps and the tires and just apparently is content to HOPE that the money for the REST OF THE CAR will be forthcoming... LOL:)

IF SpaceX, on the other hand, can get a 70 tonne SLS block-1 equivalent Falcon Heavy flying successfully, and by definition at a FRACTION of the cost of SLS, I think there's gonna be a LOT of uncomfortable questions asked, and SLS will end up being history. If they can "fulfill their contractual obligations" and get a crew to ISS, and then use their "spare capacity" to send a couple tourists around the Moon SUCCESSFULLY, then I think Orion will be well and truly dead. Even if nothing ever comes of it, and we settle for Falcon Heavy, I think eventually things will shift towards perhaps NASA settling for Orion on Falcon Heavy or something along those lines, and settle on a 70 tonne to orbit capability to construct their Mars mission plans around (and lunar plans if any, which IMHO is a necessary first step-- if we can't stay on the Moon for months at a time, how do we EVER think we'll stay on Mars for a year and a half at a time?) If NASA develops the technology to transfer cryogenic propellants in orbit (LOX/LH2), then a depot-based architecture presents itself and you only NEED 70 tonnes of launch capability, because you launch all your Mars mission spacecraft DRY of propellant and send up a tanker to refuel a depot that then fuels up your outbound ships. ANY rocket capable of launching propellant to orbit in a meaningful quantity can then support that infrastructure, so long as they can get to the depot with a load of fuel and the equipment necessary to dock with it and transfer it over. A depot can then support any number of missions to ANYWHERE... robotic outbound spacecraft to the outer planets and moons can refuel its hydrogen stage for the Earth departure, Mars ships, Moon ships, vehicles to Lagrange point stations, vehicles to go repair future space telescopes in solar orbit away from Earth, etc. It opens up the gates for you.

Later! OL J R :)
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#5 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by bernomatic » Fri, 03 Mar 17, 19:12 pm

As Bezos mentioned, once they have New Shepherd flying, the rest is mostly upscaling. About six months ago, Blue Origin started touting their larger New Glenn. A you mentioned, it is larger than most of the stuff we can reasonably expect to bee out in the next ten years. Musk had to answer with something or look like they were stick in the NASA abyss.
And speaking of the NASA abyss, don't count them down and out yet either. If President Trump starts getting the notion that one of the ways he can MAGA is to get us back into space, we may see many changes at NASA and a brighter outlook.
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#6 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by luke strawwalker » Sat, 04 Mar 17, 02:50 am

Well, time will tell I suppose...

Personally I don't get too excited about these "press releases" anymore when it comes to aerospace... there have been SO many "false starts" and efforts that went NOWHERE but were spoken of as if they were accomplished historical fact when they were released that I just have a jaded outlook anymore. I'll get excited when it ACTUALLY HAPPENS. Til then it's all "just talk". Sorta like a lot of rocketry vendors over the years LOL:)

As for NASA, you might be right... I wouldn't count on it, but anything is POSSIBLE. Likely not PROBABLE IMHO...

Later! OL J R :)
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#7 Re: NASA to SpaceX

Post by bernomatic » Mon, 06 Mar 17, 23:19 pm

I see where Mr. Bezos has, like I expected, responded to the lunar orbit raise by Mr. Musk. I grant you that this could all still be vapor ware, but I have an idea that this won't be settled till one does what he has stated and the other has g gone bust.
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