Then I watch a SpaceX livestream and realize, eh, not so much. ;)
1. Land rocket.
2. Reuse rocket.
3. Colonize Mars.
4. Get Webpack to work the way we want.
Regarding rockets I think ULA management was probably just sucking our tax money and putting some rockets up every now and then.
I really wish we can replicate Elon's way of vision and execution in many different fields. How awesome would the world be if we could scale Elon?
It's still risky. If it's true that reliability hasn't changed at all, then it's even more likely that we're going to see a string of failures rather than a single isolated incident. That will be the true test: can we take that in stride, or will others get the last word?
So far, SpaceX's reliability is not great, but they keep going.
Falcon 9s and Dragons are an evolution of tried and true rocket engineering principles, even capsules are much safer at reentry than the shuttle. Delta showed that type can be launched with a high degree of safety. SpaceX has the advantage of getting returned equipment back from space to learn from and improve.
Going forward, it might be to our advantage to own it rather than hide it. Yeah, it's dangerous. So let's risk the danger! We courageously do our best and launch ourselves into orbit, and some of us die, but progress marches forward.
I'm not sure if that type of message would have a better or worse impact than shielding everyone from the idea that disaster will strike till it happens. It could go either way.
With the ITS this will be a much bigger problem, because the ITS will not have such a lunch escape.
So far, everything SpaceX has done is working to greatly expand the window of "survivable failure". Remember on one of the early Falcon 9 flights when one of the 9 first stage engines literally disintegrated and the rocket kept flying? How many other rockets flying today can do that?
So, no, I don't expect we'll see people die in a SpaceX capsule. When was the last time someone died in a Soyuz?
The very last few seconds add in data from a radar altimeter. Per the post-launch press conference, this time they added some special paint to the landing pad to give a better radar return. I imagine the steel deck of the ASDS already gives a pretty good radar return.
https://youtube.com/watch?v=PFoOqqSIYpw around 22:28 mark
In fact, the speed settles at 18,000 km/h after the landing.
As it happens, most of the profits in space are in communication satellites, which is why SpaceX is attempting to launch its own LEO constellation.
Some have speculated that if SpaceX can't launch their satellite constellation then they will have bet the farm and lost. However, I think people underestimate what may happen to demand when the cost of access to space drops to dollars/kg from tens of thousands of dollars/kg.
It's hard to figure anyone being motivated to build much infrastructure in Mars orbit, so I'd like to see some real infrastructure in Earth orbit. Meaning hundreds of semi-permanent residents, rotation for artificial gravity, capturing asteroids and comets to have bulk raw material, setting up some limited manufacturing there of pure space craft. All in a place where help from or escape to Earth is fast and relatively easy. Get to where sending a colony fleet to Mars is a modest stretch of existing capabilities, not a wild reach involving inventing dozens of new fields.
Likewise at Mars, once we have a base there we should permanently keep a fuelled return ship on standby anyway. If there's a problem with a launching or incoming vessel, it would be available to help.
Musk has build the ITS so that it is a transport ship that can reliable establish surface to surface transportation. Maybe eventually it will make sense to have tugs and refueling stations in orbit. This will only happen if there is a reason to fly very often.
Elon is building the cheapest possible thing that can get the job done.
> anything goes wrong anywhere, it's almost impossible to fix or send help when it can only come from Earth Surface.
The idea is that multiple ITS will fly at the same time, they will be able to exchange people before landing on Mars if one of the ITS has problems.
That's true, but I had always figured that the infrastructure construction would need to be an actual profitable business outside of a planned colonization of Mars. Perhaps it would make sense to build or assemble satellites, or mine asteroids for rare earth metals or something like that.
Also, when dream chaser becomes operational, there will be a strong sense of REAL progress.
Edit to clarify, I'm referring to the drastic cost reduction reusability gives to reaching orbit, as the parent of this post says. I am saying there are a lot of other desirable, profitable ventures, other than settling Mars, that cheap access to space makes achievable.
If he was in it for the money he never would have started a rocket company.
The claim is that Richard Branson wa asked how to become a millionaire after he'd start Virgin Atlantic, and answered "you become a billionaire and start an airline".
The way it's put there, it sounds like it had already been around a while. It's possible Branson was the first person to apply it to airlines. I see a lot of people attributing it to Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines, but can't find anything actually quoting him on it. He did say, "A lot of people came into the airline business. Most of them promptly exited, minus their money," which is pretty similar in spirit.
That's easy. Musk is not your run-of-the-mill average predatory capitalist - he seeks profit for the sake of humanity and not for his own coffers.
(No, that does not excuse ripping off his workers)
True believers thrive. I wish there was a way to find true believers without burning out a bunch of kids.
Got your human backup population. Much closer to Earth so if something goes wrong (asteroid) they can just wait it out and pop back down when it all settles down.
Living on Mars? Seems too tricky. Got to get back up the gravity well if you want to leave.
On Mars you have an atmosphere that gives you unlimited CO2 and Nitrogen. Plants can grow in compressed atmosphere. Mars has dirt that can be cleaned to grow plants. Mars has tons of H20 that means you can make rocket fuel and you have enough water for the people living there.
On mars you have the materials need to build radiation resistant living quarters (lots of dirt). Doing the same for a space station is incredibly difficult and expensive.
Mars gravity is pretty easy to overcome, specially because you can produce rocket fuel on mars. Ships can land, drop people and cargo, refuel and fly back.
What about the distance? Its not really a huge problem. Are you talking about time delay?
That's not to say orbital habitats are a bad idea as such. We're going to need them. Its just that on their own they don't really solve the problem.
He doesn't seem to think much of Mars settlement.
But I gather that he did research the stuff about orbital habitats and such.
I imagine they'd send helpful/scientists that would be worth something.
To me maybe when you fire a plume of exhaust like that it forms a shield around the rocket... not sure.
From (again, not definitive) knowledge, the rocket fires to slow down (boostback), a re-entry burn, then a landing burn. Indeed, there's info from the horse's mouth here: