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Comment Shoot a Dragon around the Moon (Score 1) 89

The Falcon Heavy is scheduled to do a demo launch in November. I would not be surprised if they put a Dragon 2 capsule on it to do the unmanned flight test at the same time. If they do, it would be cool if they launched the Dragon around the moon. SpaceX has a history of doing experimental landings during real launches. Launching a Dragon atop of FH would be more efficient than just having a dummy payload and going around the Moon would certainly make the launch worthwhile.

Comment Re:Why Better than Parachute? (Score 1) 206

The atmosphere on Mars is roughly 100 times thinner than on Earth so you can use a parachute to slow you down but only to a limited extent. The largest supersonic parachute ever used was foe the Curiosity rover mission. Good video here. Not practical for a manned mission due to the snap of the parachute opening at that speed(9 Gs) would break necks. It only slowed the rover to 320 kph and needed a rocket to land.

Comment Gun laws do save lives (Score 1) 819

If more guns make you safer, then the US should be the safest country on earth yet last year there were 12,236 deaths and a further 24,755 injuries from shootings(3.53 per 100,000). This casualty toll includes 640 children aged 0-11 killed or injured by guns.

Canada has outstandingly low gun casualty statistics. In 2009, there were 0.5 deaths per 100,000 from gun homicide — only 173 people. Still, the ownership is comparatively high — there are 23.8 firearms per 100 people in the country.

There is no legal right to possess arms in Canada. It takes sixty days to buy a gun there, and there is mandatory licensing for gun owners. Gun owners pursuing a license must have third-party references, take a safety training course and pass a background check with a focus on mental, criminal and addiction histories.

Licensing agents are required to advise an applicant's spouse or next-of-kin prior to granting a license, and licenses are denied to applicants with any past history of domestic violence. Buyers in private sales of weapons must pass official background checks.

Canadian civilians aren't allowed to possess automatic weapons, handguns with a barrel shorter than 10.5 cm or any modified handgun, rifle or shotgun. Most semi-automatic assault weapons are also banned. As a result of exemptions, several kinds of assault weapons are still legal in Canada, although this has been the source of some controversy.

You would think there would be more crime in Canada as almost no one carries a concealed weapon yet the per capita rate of all crimes is much lower than the US

Comment Flacon Heavy will land two boosters on land (Score 1) 129

Falcon Heavy will benefit most from the reusable technology. It uses two Falcon 9 first stages as boosters. The flight profiles will allow the two boosters to land back at their landing pad. They also have the option of recovering the central on the drone ship which is harder but we can see that they are getting closer with each attempt.

Submission + - New metallic glass creates potential for smart windows

frank249 writes: A B.C. engineering lab has created metal-coated glass that transmits up to 10 per cent more light than conventional glass and opens the door to windows that function as electronics. The most immediate use of the technology is to create windows that can be programmed to absorb or reflect heat, depending on the needs of a building’s occupants. Adding electronic control to windows will allow you to change the amount of light and heat passing through to more effectively use the energy provided by the sun naturally,

Lead investigator Kenneth Chau credit films like Iron Man or Star Trek with providing them inspiration. “There is a dream that we can make glass smarter,” he said. “These films give us concepts to strive for; the hard work is uncovering the science to make it happen.” All those hours spent watching Star Trek are now starting to look like a “pretty good investment,” he said.

The results were published this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

Comment Re:same number of launches planned as UAL (Score 2) 42

The point of the second article was that SpaceX wants to Dramatically Accelerate Its Launch Frequency and, if all goes as planned, the company will achieve a launch rate of once every two to three weeks. They have 40 Falcon 9 missions and 6 Falcon Heavy missions on their manifest. The more launches, the more chances for problems but for now the only constraining factor appears to be the number of cores they can produce. They need 61 cores for their current manifest (40 x1 F + 7 x3 FH) so even if they increase production to 30 cores per year, it will still take over 2 years to produce all the cores they need for their current manifest.

Comment Elon Musk knows why we must go to Mars and a plan (Score 1) 310

Elon Musk knows that the only way to ensure the long term survival of mankind is to start a colony off Earth. While NASA is constrained by the whims of Congress, Musk said the hell with waiting and started SpaceX so he could build his own rockets. SpaceX announced in May 2015 that they are positioning Dragon V2 spacecraft variants—in conjunction with the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle—to transport science payloads across much of the solar system, in cislunar and inner solar system regions such as the Moon and Mars as well as to outer solar system destinations such as Jupiter's moon Europa. Details include that SpaceX expects to be able to transport 2,000–4,000 kg (4,400–8,800 lb) to the surface of Mars, including a soft retropropulsive landing using SuperDraco thrusters following a limited atmospheric deceleration. When the destination has no atmosphere, the Dragon variant would dispense with the parachute and heat shield and add additional propellant.

SpaceX began development of the large Raptor rocket engine for the Mars Colonial Transport[MCT] before 2014, but the MCT will not be operational earlier than the mid-2020s. SpaceX have not yet publicly released details of the space mission architecture nor all the system components of the MCT, nor a timeline for earliest MCT missions to Mars. Elon Musk hopes to unveil the space mission architecture at the International Astronautical Congress in September 2016.

We know a few basic things about the SpaceX Mars architecture:

Two stages to orbit. First stage is a single booster with many Raptor engines which returns to launch site for reuse. Second stage is the Mars Colonial Transport, comprising a pressurized cabin section and a propulsion section, also powered by multiple Raptor engines.

MCT is refueled in earth orbit by multiple propellant tankers after expending its initial propellant load during launch. After refueling, MCT departs for Mars and performs a propulsive entry, descent, and landing on Mars. MCT is refueled for the return trip using methane and oxygen produced on Mars. It returns to Earth and lands propulsively. Both stages are 100% reusable. Nothing is jettisoned.

We also know that SpaceX will send Dragon spacecraft to Mars (using Falcon Heavy) before sending the first MCTs, which will be unmanned cargo ships for landing habitation modules and other surface hardware in preparation for the arrival of the first humans.

We don't yet know some of the technical details, including the number of Raptor engines on each stage and the precise stage diameter. We don't know how many distinct variants of the MCT will be produced (cargo, tanker, etc.) and exactly how they will be configured.

But mostly, we don't know the business model: Is this a hobby project funded by their commercial launch business, or is there a profit-making opportunity inherent to the Mars plan? To what extent is SpaceX banking on substantial funding from NASA, who might be able to buy rides from SpaceX long before they are able to send astronauts to Mars using their own equipment?

I don't know if the business model will be clarified as well as the technical architecture when Elon does the reveal in September. That's the part that has space enthusiasts genuinely scratching our heads.

Comment MCT: What we know (Score 1) 101

reposted from ARS Technica

We know a few basic things about the SpaceX Mars architecture:

Two stages to orbit. First stage is a single booster with many Raptor engines which returns to launch site for reuse. Second stage is the Mars Colonial Transport, comprising a pressurized cabin section and a propulsion section, also powered by multiple Raptor engines.

MCT is refueled in earth orbit by multiple propellant tankers after expending its initial propellant load during launch. After refueling, MCT departs for Mars and performs a propulsive entry, descent, and landing on Mars. MCT is refueled for the return trip using methane and oxygen produced on Mars. It returns to Earth and lands propulsively. Both stages are 100% reusable. Nothing is jettisoned.

We also know that SpaceX will send Dragon spacecraft to Mars (using Falcon Heavy) before sending the first MCTs, which will be unmanned cargo ships for landing habitation modules and other surface hardware in preparation for the arrival of the first humans.

We don't yet know some of the technical details, including the number of Raptor engines on each stage and the precise stage diameter. We don't know how many distinct variants of the MCT will be produced (cargo, tanker, etc.) and exactly how they will be configured.

But mostly, we don't know the business model: Is this a hobby project funded by their commercial launch business, or is there a profit-making opportunity inherent to the Mars plan? To what extent is SpaceX banking on substantial funding from NASA, who might be able to buy rides from SpaceX long before they are able to send astronauts to Mars using their own equipment?

I don't know if the business model will be clarified as well as the technical architecture when Elon does the reveal in September. That's the part that has space enthusiasts genuinely scratching our heads.

Submission + - NASA Officials admit that the SLS is a vehicle without a mission plan

frank249 writes: NASA spaceflight.com reports that NASA officials admitted that the Space Launch System is a vehicle without a mission plan. An 'all hands' meeting was held to discuss uncertainty about the SLS. Its first test flight with humans aboard has already been delayed once, and the schedule for the SLS’s tests are shaky — there is no definitive launch schedule for the rocket beyond its first uncrewed test flight, which is slated for Sept 30th, 2018. After that, the SLS's next flight dates are mostly tentative, and the rocket doesn't have any definitive mission plans — only the promise of going to an asteroid and then to Mars someday.

Part of the problem is that the SLS is expensive, The cost of developing the SLS through 2017 is expected to total $18 billion and each launch is going to cost somewhere between $500 and $700 million. By comparison, Elon Musk has said that that SpaceX could build the Mars Colonial Transporter(MCT) , a vehicle in the 140-150 t payload range, for $2.5 billion, or $300 million per launch. Coincidentally Musk recently said he has a plan to send humans to Mars by 2025.

Comment Does Musk's Plan make the NASA's SLS Redundent? (Score 1) 101

NASA officials admitted today the Space Launch System — the agency’s next big rocket — is a vehicle without a mission plan NASA Spaceflight reports. The agency acknowledged what is essentially an empty flight manifest for the SLS at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, during an all-hands meeting on Monday.

The meeting was held to discuss uncertainty about the SLS. Its first test flight with humans aboard has already been delayed once, and the schedule for the SLS’s tests are shaky — there is no definitive launch schedule for the rocket beyond its first uncrewed test flight, which is slated for September 30th, 2018. After that, the SLS's next flight dates are mostly tentative, and the rocket doesn't have any definitive mission plans — only the promise of going to an asteroid and then to Mars someday.

The SLS was born out of NASA's now-defunct Constellation program, an effort aimed at returning humans to the Moon. Though it was once considered the replacement for the Space Shuttle program, the group far exceeded its budget. President Obama cancelled the initiative in 2010, and out of its ashes, the SLS concept was created — both as a way to salvage parts of Constellation and to provide NASA with a primary vehicle for sending astronauts deep into space. It was also a way to save the jobs of thousands of NASA employees who had been working on Constellation.

But the SLS is expensive, and NASA's budget is at the lowest it has been in decades, even with the new budget allotment of $19.3 billion for the 2016 fiscal year. The cost of developing the SLS through 2017 is expected to total $18 billion. And once the rocket is built, each launch is going to cost somewhere between $500 and $700 million, which makes it unlikely that the rocket will carry astronauts more than once a year.

By comparison, Elon Musk has said that that SpaceX could build the Mars Colonial Transporter(MCT), a vehicle in the 140-150 t payload range, for $2.5 billion, or $300 million per launch. If Musk is going to build the MCT anyways, does NASA need to continue the SLS?

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