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Submission + - SpaceX disapointed in lack of NASA Mars funding & looks for own landing site

frank249 writes: Elon Musk says that NASA legislation 'changes almost nothing about what NASA is doing. Existing programs stay in place and there is no added funding for Mars,' Musk is absolutely correct on two counts. First, an "authorization" bill does not provide funding. That comes from appropriations committees. Secondly, while Congress has been interested in building rockets and spacecraft, it is far less interested in investing in the kinds of technology and research that would actually enable a full-fledged Mars exploration program.

In other news, Spacenews reports that SpaceX has been working with NASA to identify potential landing sites on Mars for both its Red Dragon spacecraft starting in 2020 and future human missions. SpaceX, working with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, had identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising — Arcadia Planitia. Those landing sites are of particular interest, he said, for SpaceX’s long-term vision of establishing a human settlement on Mars, but he said the company wouldn’t rule our sending Red Dragon spacecraft elsewhere on the planet to serve other customers. “We’re quite open to making use of this platform to take various payloads to other locations as well,” he said. “We’re really looking to turn this into a steady cadence, where we’re sending Dragons to Mars on basically every opportunity.” The Red Dragon spacecraft, he said, could carry about one ton of useful payload to Mars, with options for those payloads to remain in the capsule after landing or be deployed on the surface. “SpaceX is a transportation company,” he said. “We transport cargo to the space station, we deliver payloads to orbit, so we’re very happy to deliver payloads to Mars.” Fans of the book/movie "The Martian" would be happy if SpaceX does select Arcadia Planitia for their first landing site as that was the landing site of the Ares 3.

Comment NASA could get to Mars sooner with SpaceX (Score 1) 279

Spacenews reports that SpaceX has been working with NASA to identify potential landing sites on Mars for both its Red Dragon spacecraft starting in 2020 and future human missions. SpaceX, working with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, had identified several potential landing sites, including one that looks particularly promising - Arcadia Planitia.

Those landing sites are of particular interest, he said, for SpaceX’s long-term vision of establishing a human settlement on Mars, but he said the company wouldn’t rule our sending Red Dragon spacecraft elsewhere on the planet to serve other customers. “We’re quite open to making use of this platform to take various payloads to other locations as well,” he said. “We’re really looking to turn this into a steady cadence, where we’re sending Dragons to Mars on basically every opportunity.”

The Red Dragon spacecraft, he said, could carry about one ton of useful payload to Mars, with options for those payloads to remain in the capsule after landing or be deployed on the surface. “SpaceX is a transportation company,” he said. “We transport cargo to the space station, we deliver payloads to orbit, so we’re very happy to deliver payloads to Mars.”

Fans of the book/movie "The Martian" would be happy if SpaceX does select Arcadia Planitia for their first landing site as that was the landing site of the Ares 3.

Comment Re:How much to re-create Apollo? (Score 2) 317

I agree. The money would be better spent in SpaceX's ITS interplanetary Booster/spaceship program which would only cost $10 Billion to develop and $62m per launch. The ITS Spaceship could land 100 tons on the moon and return. ITS could also land 100 tons on Mars and return if refueled in situ.. SpaceX does not want to be seen as a competitor to SLS but ITS economics make it hard to ignore.

Comment Previously announced on 1 Sept (Score 5, Informative) 39

The tunnel crack problem was discovered in Jan 2015 so they have had awhile to work on it. This was first revealed on 1 Sept 2016 in the Commercial Crew program update.

'NASA Program officials anticipate SpaceX will encounter additional delays on the path to certification. For example, in January 2015, the tunnel that provides a passageway for astronauts and cargo between the Dragon and the ISS was reported to have cracked during the heat treatment phase of the manufacturing process. As a result, SpaceX delayed qualification testing by approximately one year to better align the tests as SpaceX moves toward certification. SpaceX has also experienced ongoing issues with stress fractures in turbopumps that must be resolved prior to flight.23 Additionally, SpaceX has not yet completed parachute system level testing which may reveal issues that would require redesign that could further delay the test flights. Accordingly, we anticipate additional schedule slippage and do not expect certified flights by SpaceX earlier than late 2018.'

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.

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