They are opening the hatch right now on the stream if anyone here wants to watch along https://youtu.be/21X5lGlDOfg
But somewhere inside (my little star-wars/trek spirit), I wish that it was not so tricky. That we all could just travel and explore the universe.
Everybody always talk about how difficult it is in space and how much better earth is. Wish the debate would be more about all the possibilities in space or on other planets. What can we do with zero gravity? For all the bad things with living on Mars, could there be some amazing benefits, new materials and so on..
Packing up 100 people on some boats meant you could start a viable colony across some seas.
Can you still do that today?
Machining is one instance of this. You basically have to have somebody show you how to do some of it. Same thing with forging.
(At least in my experience)
Books you can make it happen. Phones are broke within 10. Desktops within 20.
Gates/Musk may be the only ones who appear to desire to have a many-generational-positive impact on Humanity.
Every one else are just egos.
Unless I am not aware of some of the greater things that ilk is doing?
Moreover, colony is a soft boundary word. I daresay that the United States (former European, now independent Colony) could survive without external trade if it came to that..what would it take for a colony on another planet to be self-sufficient? Minimally, the ability to produce items required for survival (e.g., airtight living quarters and vegetable gardens, energy, oxygen, etc).
A successful mars colony would need to have a plan to reach self-sufficiency through Martian plus asteroid resources.
Not at all. While there will be an economic and logistical incentive to reduce the dependence on imports from earth, it is not reasonable to expect the colony to fully duplicate the manufacturing capabilities of earth. There will be drugs, electronic components and human experts that will imported from earth for a very long time.
I believe a Martian colony would be successful when they achieve economic viability (import value lower than export value). This would happen well before they would reach actual self sufficiency.
Aren't there former colonies of western empires that now produce their own drugs, electronic components, and human experts? Granted, it's a bit more difficult because it requires first building the life support infrastructure or the world, whereas colonies on Earth have their life support for free. However, Mars has geologic processes that produce minerals, and people have already mapped out the chemical processes that could be conducted with in-situ resources, all the way up to production of feedstocks for making plastics like ethylene. (Also done for Venus.)
There are political reasons for self sufficiency, which can warp the market a bit.
This is mostly false and slightly true. The level of technology needed to imperfectly supply the bulk of life support needs isn't that high. Pressurized, radiation shielded homes could be built by making bricks, building structures out of masonry arches, sealing them with an airtight liner, then burying them. The chemistry for extracting breathing gasses and plastics feed-stocks out of the atmosphere dates from the industrial revolution and 20th century. Mars is much more likely to be dependent on Earth for products like microprocessors for far longer than environmental needs.
Completely balancing and stabilizing artificial ecosystems to be 100% self sustaining and recycling might take many decades. However, the elements and materials needed are all available as inputs from sources outside of the Earth.
Data has much more favorable transport costs, but there is only so much valuable data on Mars. Especially since astronomy isn't really a free market.
There might be resources on Mars that are rare enough on Earth to be worth it. I'd be interested in hearing more on those.
It seems to me like the main value of a Mars colony (human exploration, achievement, and insurance against planetary wipe-out) are abstract, and can't be exported in any real sense.
The only case for a self-sustained colony I see is some local political extremism. To prefer to live on Mars by one's own means would take some very strong Earth-incompatible views.
While rebellious space colonies has been a dependable sci-fi trope since the 50's, I am skeptical things would really work out that way given how dependent Mars would be on Earth for everything other than the very basics of self-sufficiency. I am talking about things like art (music, books, films) and the kinds of developments in science, medicine and engineering that can only be generated by having a support base of 8 billion people.
Tourism and some healthcare likewise, but that's not really an import.
That's very speculative, though. Asteroid mining is probably going to be entirely robots, and both supply of those robots and the demand for the resources are almost entire based on Earth, so it's very questionable a Mars colony will add any value there. But it's the one area where I can see the possibility.
A refueling station on Deimos, however, sounds like a much more interesting prospect.
Also have found myself really enjoying enterprise. It is by far my favorite premise of any of the Star Treks.
I'm convinced you cannot bootstrap a colony in an unhospitable place in the Solar System without ships 3-4 orders of magnitude above what we have today.
For example, it will carry substantially larger payloads than the SLS, at less than 100th the cost per launch ($15M vs $3B), and launch almost daily, vs twice a year. The Shuttle flew every couple months, at a payload cost of over $30,000/lb, vs under $100/lb for the BFR.
Now I don’t think the first versions of the BFR will achieve those goals, but the crazy part is they are achievable. Reusability drives costs rapidly down towards to the cost of fuel, which is under $1M per launch.
The problem Elon faces is refurbishment costs. It seems premature to think that the BFR and Starship can fly ten flights with only minor refurbishment, and fly one hundred times before replacement. But the benefits of reuse are so huge that even if they fly only ten times each launch costs can be less than a Falcon 9.
It's all conjecture obviously. The point is that we probably don't need to carry all our heavy tools and infrastructure up there- we just need to find new (hopefully better) ways of creating the stuff we need.
Think about Mars as redundancy site for the human race.
So many of the industrial processes that we've developed assume a huge interconnected network of supplies. To make Mars self sufficient you'd have to reinvent a huge chunk of the modern industrial system while also trying to keep your small population of colonists from dying. It's a monumental challenge with today's technology.
Which is inversely correlated with the chances of it coming in any particular timeframe.
I'm the biggest fan of colonizing Mars, but my children know that if Daddy ever has the chance he is going to Mars to suffer, not to play. Mars will be hard and unforgiving. Life will be horrible for the first two generations at least. At no point will it ever be better than life on Earth.
And yet, I'll be the first in line.
This reminded me of computer tech in its first approximation: hard and unforgiving. It took about 2 generations to make it into a ubiquitous mobile device. In about four generations AI will make space colonies possible. "And AI shall produce acomodations for adventurous humans and preserve them". Space seems first and foremost the realm of AI, embodying our outreach. We won't actually go to space unless a planet is discovered and farmed to be hospitable.
Nuclear war is the big one. Mars colonization would be less about preserving human life, per se, and more about preserving an operational duplicate of the peak state of human civilization.
That’s the point.
Funny, but extremely high altitudes of the atmosphere of Venus could fit the bill in the context of places in the Solar System. Temperatures and pressures are around room temperature and pressure there. The thick atmosphere of Venus provides some radiation protection, and water can be extracted from the clouds of sulfuric acid droplets there. You couldn't directly breathe the air, but oxygen could be produced in-situ, and bags full of breathable atmosphere would be buoyant, so you could easily suspend cloud cities there just by using the atmosphere inside the environment domes.
People who have been thinking about this are way ahead of you. There are plenty of minerals on the surface. We should be able to build remotely piloted mining equipment using phase change materials (like water) to shed heat. To cool the equipment off, we just haul it back to the high altitude base before the phase change material tank runs dry.
Also a very tiny amount of people are working on space right now (maybe 500,000 between NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, ESA, ISRO, JAXA, etc). That's 0.00625% of the world's population.
It's hard to imagine there's an economic case for Mars or the Moon while Antarctica remains undeveloped.
Not that there would be much going on without the treaties, but it would likely be commercially viable for oil exploration or maybe mining.
There are also other reasons. You can't learn about the possibility of life on other planets in Antartica, and seek to answer one of the greatest questions of all time: "are we alone?". You can't closely study another planet in Antartica. You can't be a brave new explorer seeing incredible places for the very first time in Antartica. There are far less new scientific and engineering challenges in Antartica whose solutions will greatly benefit everyone here on Earth. And so on.
Note, these things are true for any next-gen space endeavor in our corner of the solar system. It doesn't have to be Mars, or even just Mars. For example, we could build larger and more advanced facilities and machinery in LEO, while also building a small base on the moon and exploring Mars for the first time.
That's an argument against research on Antarctica, but that's the one thing humans do there.
I think settling Mars will and should happen, but anyone who doesn’t realise it will be thousands of times more expensive, risky and dependent on external support than eg Antarctica I think isn’t really grasping the difference in scale of the problem.
Wasn't there a fair bit of difficulty involved in building fleets of sailing ships and exploring the Earth? As it so happens, the reward for doing so was to become dominant in the new global geopolitical context. There's an incentive to keep up in the new expansion of context to keep from being left behind and engulfed in a larger context. The potential total population of the solar system, even based on just on foreseeable technologies, asteroid resources, and solar power could easily be in the hundreds of billions. Fusion power increases that potential by orders of magnitude.
It seems silly to be trying to rush to a place that wants to kill you when we have a great place here already that we could just stop messing up.
These aren't mutually exclusive things. And make no mistake: Many things involving ocean travel prior to the industrial revolution literally involved rushing to places that want to kill you, via another place that wants to kill you. Isn't rushing to a place that wants to kill you another kind of "doing things that don't scale (at first)?" If it means eventual geopolitical dominance in a future larger context, there will be wealthy nations willing to foot the bill.
In Roman times, the British Isles were also a significant source of lead.
There is a good chance that creating the tech for the later will make the former possible, but not vice versa.
We could have been there probably decades ago if not so much money was wasted on waging pointless wars across all the countries of Earth.
But then: would we even have the technology of rocketry, microchips and all the other stuff without the military need for them in the first place?
In contrast, rocketry seems practically easy, it's just an engineering problem in comparison. You exercise literally trillions of transistors just to send an emoji to a friend, and yet the modern world we've built makes all that seem trivially easy. Not because it is easy, but just because we've invested a ton of effort into building and optimizing every bit and piece of it. We're already on some Nth generation of smartphones (retina displays, quad-cores, GPUs, LTE, etc, etc, etc.) whereas we're really not on that many generations of rockets, certainly less than a dozen, maybe only half a dozen depending on how you count. Once we get rolling with reusable rockets the iterations on development will speed up and we'll progress faster. And we'll get to a place where what seems like an adventure into the barren wilderness today will become merely routine and ubiquitous. Just as today using computers or flying on a jet aircraft thousands of miles seems routine and ubiquitous.
As for the benefits of space exploration and colonization I expect a lot of them will come in ways that people won't expect. A greater appreciation for what we take for granted here on Earth, for example. A tree on Mars is a treasure to be protected and revered, as is clean air and water. On Earth it's not much different, but we don't take care of the gifts we have to the degree they deserve. We dirty our air and pollute our water, we overfish our oceans, etc. Similarly, advanced off-Earth habitats are going to need to seriously invest in things like renewable energy, energy storage, recycling, end-to-end stewardship of the "CHON-cycle", and all that stuff. Here on Earth we can be reckless and treat topsoil, groundwater, and phosphorous as practically unlimited resources we abuse and discard all too readily. We kill our bug populations indiscriminately, etc. On, say, Mars they will need to be very thoughtful and careful about every single one of those things. They'll need to treat their resources as the precious and limited things they actually are. Which is true of here too (we're draining our aquifers like there's no tomorrow, but there is a tomorrow). Those habitats will drive development of technologies and solutions which will be incredibly valuable here on Earth as well, and may help drive us toward a more mature relationship with our environment and our use of resources.
Life is weird.
It's mind boggling how apt humans are to what should be impossible.
It's something that you should consider viewing if you have the chance. The cinematography alone is worth the price of admission // rental.
So yes, war is a horrendous waste and terrible detriment to humanity, but even war has had some beneficial side effects.
beside everything else, getting retro-rockets work well at hypersonic speeds is a key to landing on Mars (I really loved the de-facto SpaceX propaganda series "Mars". Even better than "Martian" for me. The only slight disappointment is the cop out at the very end).
Did you notice ULA's reusable/refuelable ACES is aimed squarely at BEO?
And if SpaceX and Blue Origin bid for the 2 LOP-G resupply flights, they'll bid reusable launchers and claim significant cost savings.
Sounds like everyone has reusable stuff in their plans. Believe what you want!
Also, saying "If you don't want to see that point I can't really help that" is not going to result in a good conversation.
Escape velocity of Mars is less than half Earth's or about double the moon's.
That said: All the constraints on making it reusable and safe for humans are also a key factor why Space Shuttle was so expensive. With SpaceX's rockets not all parts need to resist the stress of reentry etc.
The 're-used' aspect of the Shuttle involved massive re-fits which took months for each vehicle. It was like having to send your car back to the manufacturer for a total rebuild (often including engine change) every time you went for a drive. SpaceX is a massive improvement in this respect.
So also a complete rebuild, with reuse occurring at the segment level, not of the whole booster assembly.
Additionally, SpaceX is serious about Starship/BFR. That's fully reusable and will be capable of going to the Moon (or even Mars) and back fully reusably: https://twitter.com/JaneidyEve/status/1102023437206388736
I'm in my 30s: My goal here is to live on Mars. SpaceX's colony is aimed at being able to support 1M people, with something like 80,000 leaving Earth each Mars transit window on a BFR/Starship. Save some money now, wait 20-30 years for them to get the initial hard colony built and then buy my ticket.
Might not work, but I think I'll at least get close. You can definitely aim higher than watching them send people to ISS! That'll happen in the next few months/years, but so much more is happening after that, like the 7 people going around the Moon, or the first Mars launches on Starship, etc!
(and lol that this is at -3, I'm just excited about stuff okay? no need to bury it deep underground and hate it so much!)
Realistically, Starship won't fly regularly until around the mid 2020s and even that beast of a ship won't be cheap enough to commercialize space properly. I think you'll have to wait until Starhip's successor or the Blue Origin equivalent (~2040, ~15m diameter) for any chance to go.
If SpaceX manages the feat of launching the Starship for $50 million (unlikely, probably 2-3x more) and carry 100 people, it still means 500k/ticket. And that's just launch, for actual missions you'd need operational support, extra space (ie fewer passengers) for life support etc. So maybe around 2030-2035 you'd be able to ride around the moon for a few days (like the pre Apollo 11 missions) for $1.5 million.
If the successor rockets manage to lower the cost further, maybe around 2045 you'd be able to spend a week on the moon for 500k, or a weekend in low earth orbit for 200k? Maybe that rocket will make it possible to take a trip to mars for $1 million? I'd imagine rent would be pretty expensive there as well.
These are certainly not middle-class prices, but if you sell your house instead of leaving it to your children, or don't have children, or are pretty very well-off it's not unrealistic. You'd also have to make sure you're in tip-top health at 60-something though, so some luck would still be required.
But thank you for the idea of longer term goals - "Experience zero-gravity and see Earth from outer atmosphere" is now on the list.
Oh my it's not a one-way ticket! Those people selling 1-way tickets were scammers. A key tenet of SpaceX seems to be that you can come home to Earth whenever you want, or at least when the planets align for a fast journey. They will need to transport a lot of Starships back to Earth, and as long as they are like 30% empty it works out for people to come home any time at all. I'm banking on that too, coming back to visit Earth in the future.
> when you are 60 is scary.
Yeah okay, it is a bit scary to think about now. But I don't think it will be scary then. Should be just like airplanes now - that's the goal for SpaceX anyway.
> But thank you for the idea of longer term goals - "Experience zero-gravity and see Earth from outer atmosphere" is now on the list.
Woo! You are welcome!
(And you can argue that it's not the same "zero gravity", but using the fake Einstein quote "Everything is relative".)
Yes, that's the plan as described by Elon! Maybe not "all at once" but over the course of some days/weeks, yes.
> I’m not sure that’s realistic due to the [lack of] economic incentives involved
Every Mars thread someone pops in to say this, but it simply isn't true. There are major economic incentives to go to Mars, and selling tickets is #1 of hundreds. There are basically infinite ways of making money by going to Mars and I'm really upset that the HN crowd is so dedicated to the line that there's no money on Mars. There's trillions of dollars on Mars.
With tickets priced at $200,000 or so as Elon has described, each Starship should have launch-day revenues of $40,000,000 if each ones carries 200 people. Wowza that's solid, no? And it's just tickets so far we're talking about, no science research or other goods or services or plans or anything at all, just consumer tickets.
There's plenty of money to be made.
Edit: I guess I've been banned? I'm no longer allowed to post on HN this morning. Here's my response to the post below.
I think we are on different pages here. I'm not talking about tourism, I'm talking about people who will build libraries, write books, dig for oil or whatever, innovate new solar panels, build houses, create industries, make movies, build new spaceships to the stars, go to the poles and think about philosophy, create new electronics, work on particle physics, etc.
> (a) people who can afford 200k and (b) people willing to risk a possible one-way trip.
Yes? There ought to be tens of millions of such people in 20-50 years. Why wouldn't there be? Elon gave us half a century notice to save our money. We're doing it. If they build it, we'll be ready to come.
> curious to hear examples
Okay. The Mars Colony seems like the first stepping stone into future solar system exploration. There will be significant opportunities there to build new products and drive new frontiers. I'll come back and write some specific examples soon, but I see it as far more economically interesting than Europe coming to North America in the long run: the possibilities are seriously endless, given the resources available, the lack of commercial claim to them, and the incredible rarity and quantity of those resources can change our ideas about what can be reasonably built by humans/robots in our lifetimes.
200k might be an ok ticket price for some, but you’re talking about the overlap of: (a) people who can afford 200k and (b) people willing to risk a possible one-way trip.
You’re talking about tickets as if this is space tourism: space tourism is a loop around the moon. We’re not going to have Mars “tourism” in the near future. These proposed hundreds of passengers are in for high-risk exploration.
That is false. Where are you getting your info? Falcon 9 costs a lot less than that to deliver cargo to LEO! And the price is dropping every day.
> Why you would ever think that 40M$ worth of tickets to bring a BFR on Mars would be profitable?
There's no need to be condescending. First, I did not state at any point that $40M per launch would be profitable! Please don't make things up and say I said them. I merely stated a large source of revenue. I said there would be other sources as well, I made a big point about that!
Elon has stated many times that the Starship/BFR would cost less to launch than the Falcon 1, amortized over many reusable launches. Falcon 1, not even Falcon 9. So the cost of launching a Starship would be dramatically lower than your made-up numbers.
I'm guessing that this is what it felt like. We're at the dawn of a new space age.
The Falcon Heavy launch is still the highlight for me but this one is probably more important, simply because it's so normal and routine now and paves the way for drastically cheaper crewed orbital flights.
Just in case anyone is unaware of the most notable exception:
DC-X has been a major inspiration and proof-by-example for commercial reusable rocket efforts. Its technical achievements and focus on aircraft-like low-cost operations showed a path out of (or into?) the darkness.
Turns out, both of the video streams for the 2 side rockets were actually of the same rocket! You can go back and watch the corrected footage of both landing at once, but it was funny when many watching along (myself included) were like "wow they are so identical" only to find that it was the same footage!
Edit: I didn't know that three boosters were supposed to land. That probably would've blown my mind if it had succeeded ^^
They setup the landings so that they are on a trajectory to hit the ocean, and only if everything goes right do they then adjust course to the landing pads. This gives them an additional failsafe which the center booster took advantage of here. Instead of crashing into an expensive barge in the ocean, it just splashed down into the ocean purposely missing the barge.
 is a diagram that kind of shows what this looks like for land based landings, but it's very similar for barge landings too.
And don't worry, they are going to be flying Falcon Heavy again soon-ish, so there's another chance to land all 3!
Probably a quad/octocopter - I know they've used one before for footage.
Third booster was supposed to land on a droneship - it was a near miss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXd5UHFuZVI
It needed to relight three engines, it ran out of igniter before lighting more than one.
Why is this specific mission new?
- This will be one of the first vehicles developed by a private entity to launch people into space, rather than a nation. That represents a huge step "down" the ladder of who has access to space. First, it's only nations. Later, it's large companies and entities. Down the line a little bit medium-sized companies will have access to space and wealthy individuals. Then we'll get down to small companies and fairly well-off individuals. Finally, we'll reach a point where everyone can afford to make trips to or through space. This is a huge first step on the ladder.
- The first stage of this vehicle was a booster that autonomously landed itself on a drone-ship, allowing it to be recovered and refurbished quickly and cheaply. Re-use of this first stage has the potential to drastically lower the cost to get humans (and stuff) into space. SpaceX has already pretty radically altered the launch provider scene by causing all players to lower costs across the board. And they can do that while maintaining very healthy margins if they get re-use right. Eventually, as other competitors (like Blue Origin) enter the market with re-usable launchers the price will fall further toward the new marginal cost, which is drastically lower.
Both of these things have the power to be the first steps into a world where there's a radically expanded access to space for people and companies. All this is happening at the same time that there are a number of other exciting developments in the space industry (NASA planning to start the Lunar Gateway; SpaceX thinking about how to plan to colonize mars; Bigelow planning to launch commercial space stations; Blue Origin about to enter the scene with a very exciting new launch vehicle), it feels (to me, anyway) like we're on the cusp of another big leap forward.
Just because something is a natural development doesn't mean we don't get to be excited when it happens.
I think airplanes becoming a mode of mass transit were a natural development. It probably seemed like a pretty exciting development as that transition was happening.
Similarly, once you have computers it seems natural to develop a global interconnected network of them. I was pretty excited when that was taking off!
Also, just because the ordering is natural doesn't mean the timing is natural. We've expected these kinds of developments to happen in space for a long time. But we didn't know when they would happen. It was thought that this change might happen in the 70's or 80's. Others thought it might be as far off as 2040 or 2050.
The fact that we're seeing some real tangible evidence of progress _now_ is super exciting.
Nor have they actually put anyone in space.
The first stage landing is great, but again it's not new -- SpaceX have been doing this for a few years now. Last year's Falcon Heavy, especially the two rockets landing simultaneously on live tv, felt very futuristic. This isn't anywhere near as impressive as that from a "wow" perspective . The MaxQ abort test probably will be, especially if live-streamed.
Scientifically, in the last 10 years we've landed on comets, brought bits of asteroids back to earth, driven a rover on an asteroid, landed on the far side of the moon, explored rocks billions of miles away.
Any 'new commercial space age' started at least 7 years ago when spacex started being paid for these types of launches - a commercially developed rocket being used for commercial purposes, but companies have had access to space for decades - everytime I point a BGAN at the sky to get communications in the desert I'm using a private company's infrastructure.
If you're just talking about a new crewed space exploration age, SpaceX has immense promise, but that's all it is - promise. Once it is delivering people to orbit, which a 50 year old technology currently does, and hopefully progresses further, then that's great. But this is just another minor step on the road.
If America was still launching people to the ISS on Apollo, and a Chinese company did a test flight to the ISS using SpaceX technology, I very much doubt there would be as much excitement as there is for this launch.
If dearMoon puts private people round the moon, the first people to leave LEO for 50 years, I'll be ecstatic. But I'm also cautious -- SpaceX announced a crewed lunar flyby for launch in 2018.
Cool! I agree, but did anyone claim it was the first step?
Magellan or Captain Cook weren't the first steps of their day, either. Nor were the Apollo missions first steps. The Mercury missions had come first!
Why can't we be exciting, and have that feeling of exploration for each step? Why should only the first step be exciting? I reject the notion and would argue that every step in pushing our boundaries further out is exciting.
> The first stage landing is great, but again it's not new -- SpaceX have been doing this for a few years now
I feel like you and I have different time-horizons for what counts as "the dawn of a new space age". When areoform said we were at that dawn I didn't take it to mean on this day we are at that dawn.
The dawn of a new age takes a while. This decade is the dawn of a new space age, not necessarily this specific day. At least, that's how I interpreted the comments.
Yes, the person I responded to said
"This is a huge first step on the ladder."
This is a tiny step. Come summer when there's actual people on board then yes, it's a significant step towards forward movement, having being going pretty much nowhere since the 70s.
I think the biggest step recently, beyond landings or space flight or even a lunar return mission, is the live streaming of launches on youtube. SpaceX feels more futuristic and accessible because they drive that engagement, something not seen since the days of Challenger in 86.
I disagree about the dawn. The dawn of the space age was October 4th 1957.
> "This is a huge first step on the ladder."
Ha! Fair enough! The person you responded to was me, and I did write that.
I guess "first step" was not actually an important part of my claim, so I didn't think about it as I was writing it.
I'd agree that I should have written "this is a huge next step on the ladder", and not claimed it as the first step.
> This is a tiny step. Come summer when there's actual people on board then yes, it's a significant step towards forward movement, having being going pretty much nowhere since the 70s.
Eh, I think of the launch today, the in-flight abort, and DM-2 as all part of the same step. Fair enough if you don't consider it "done" until DM-2. I probably won't consider the step "done" for a couple of years (when commercial crew is as routinized as commercial cargo and booster re-use), but I would definitely consider today a major milestone.
It's the first operational flight of the hardware!
> The dawn of the space age was October 4th 1957.
Sure, that's true. I mean, it's pretty semantic at this point, but areoform had originally written: "We're at the dawn of a new space age."
I was using that as my reference for being at dawn. I think it's pretty reasonable to say we're right at the cusp of an exciting decade of development in space, in a way that we haven't been for half a century.
I'm not going to stop being excited about that!
We can easily, within few years forget how hard is a particular achievement. Remember how fast Apollo flights started to be considered boring. Or we may turn to those who work on complex problems as we speak, imagine how hard would it be for ourselves doing that and appreciate and honor actual work which leads to these demonstrations. The choice is definitely ours to make.
Not to mention that it's increasing the number of countries and rocket designs that can send people to and from the ISS. Without alternate launch providers, if some flaw were to be found in Soyuz or political issues begin to get in the way of launches, then the US could find itself unable to get astronauts to and from the ISS safely.
Boeing is also in this race, and will be sending up humans to space in their Starliner soon as well, it's still up in the air which will get to the with humans on board ISS first.
Supposedly, it was $23 million in 2007. but Russia raised the prices since then. The cost of the Soyuz to the Russians could well be lower than SpaceX still.
I think people are making it larger than it is because doing something and commercializing something are completely different things.
The first flight in a plane was awesome, but not if we just stopped there. Currently SpaceX is somewhere along the line between the Wright Brothers and the Boeing 707. It may be "only price reductions", but once those price reductions hit a critical mass, it enables a whole world of possibilities. SpaceX is already talking about using their next rocket in a similar way to airlines now. Launching a bunch of people from one place into orbit, then landing in another place on the same planet for extremely fast flights across the world. They are talking about creating Moon and Mars bases. Those are things that won't ever happen if we keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars per launch, because the economics of it just won't ever work out.
They still aren't done, and it's no guarantee that they will be able to ever get prices down low enough, but at least they are trying, and making good headway toward it.
Of course what SpaceX does is not the same thing as Magellan's trip around the Earth, but it's absolutely an important milestone. It reduces costs on something very expensive, it reuses rockets in a way that wasn't possible before (this is the part that makes it arguably more innovative than Magellan), and it finally gives the US its own capability to go to space again. It was a bit embarrassing how dependent the US had become on Russia since the Space Shuttle's retirement.
But the Soyuz was absolutely also a fantastic feat. It may be small, but it's been the world's primary workhorse for manned space travel to LEO. It's far more reliable than the Space Shuttle (2 lost crews vs none for the Soyus on far more flights, I believe). And the US has nothing remotely comparable. Until now.
I had not heard of this 80-person shuttle-bus, that sounds pretty crazy!
I wonder how much was a serious proposal, and how much was an artist allowed to daydream.
Rather than ditching in the sea, the rocket landed back on earth and could in theory take up another payload a few days later, which is much cheaper and more efficient. It opens up space to a lot of other uses.
Compared to the cost and use of the shuttle (nominally reusable but not so much in practice), or other disposable rockets, this is a large step forward in reliability and efficiency, which will enable things like travel to Mars at low cost (by refuelling in orbit with multiple reusable vehicle launches for one mission).
Also, increasing the diversity of crew transfer vehicles is very helpful. Right now there are 4 different varieties of cargo vehicles that visit the station (Progress, HTV, Cargo Dragon, and Cygnus). This diversity means that delays or periods of downtime with any one of the cargo delivery systems can be made up for via the others, as has happened in the past. The same resiliency has not existed for some time in regards to crew transfer vehicles. Given that there was a failure during an attempt to launch a Soyuz capsule last year which put a serious strain on the station (potentially putting it in jeopardy of being left uncrewed for some time) you can see that this is a serious issue.
Additionally, Crew Dragon is the first new crewed spacecraft to visit the station that was designed within the last decade, or, indeed that was designed this century. Soyuz is reliable but it has a great many constraints and shortcomings, many of which can't be alleviated without moving to a new design. It's refreshing to see that we as a species still have the capability to build new crewed vehicles with new capabilities and new designs rather than simply shuffling about as custodians of legacy vehicles designed and built by previous generations.
Even more excitingly, the Crew Dragon was launched by a vehicle which landed the first stage, and will have its first stage be reused on a future flight. The Soyuz rocket/capsule is a remarkably inexpensive way for crew to get to orbit, but those low costs are due mainly to sticking with an old design (all the R&D has long been amortized) and reliance on inexpensive Russian labor. Falcon 9 is already cost competitive with the Soyuz and has the potential to be even cheaper as Falcon 9 first stage reuse becomes more common. As reusable rockets become more common and familiar, and as their design improves with increasing use and follow-on generations (Blue Origin's New Glenn, SpaceX's BFR/Starship, etc.) costs will continue to fall and access to space will open up. Which will bring about a new space age where many more people visit orbit per year, space stations become much larger and more advanced, and our capabilities in spaceflight are in general much greater than they are today.
All of this creates this overblown achievement feeling. This has been done 40 years ago!
What private company was sending people into space on reusable rockets 40 years ago?
Yeah, I do wonder: https://youtu.be/goh2x_G0ct4?t=24
I think how they feel probably depends on their perspective, their financial situation, their susceptibility to public relations, and so on. Let's say everything goes "great," and there are a million people living on Mars in 50 years. Will it matter to people dying in a war, or ailing next to an open sewer, or what-have-you back on Earth that there's some depressed Martians trapped in smelly cans and covered in perchlorate- and iron-laden dust 4 to 12 light minutes away? I don't think it will.
I think that when many of us "wonder" or "imagine" what people felt like when they watched or participated in these events, what we're really doing is projecting the relief and and other pleasant emotions that we experience when we imagine them, when we use imagining them as an escape fantasy to cope with our own anxieties, to that imagined audience.
Frank Borman actually went to the Moon, and his feelings about it, are definitely situated inside of his own perspective: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/655/the-not-so-great-unknow...
It's probably important for us to face this phenomenon square on, to check in with what's really going on with our "dreams of space" or sense of Solar "manifest destiny." There's a reason that space-age propaganda seems so successful, both in its own time, where its object was removed from us only by the impassable gulf of 10 km/s, and now, when it is behind the second impassable gulf of nearly 60 years. If that reason is escapism, we should possibly check in with what it is we think we're escaping from, what we actually, really, fear. If our hope is in a fantasy, perhaps it indicates that we feel our reality is hopeless.
They are going to send the whole thing up a second time (I believe they will be using this EXACT Crew Dragon capsule after it comes back down), but this time they will abort the launch mid-flight around max Q which will trigger the capsule to eject safely away from the explosion behind it.
It's going to be quite the sight, and if everything goes to plan the first stage will basically be blown up and the dragon capsule will rocket away in a "Cool guys don't look at explosions" style!
It's pretty rocking.
Should be interesting either way!
IIRC we know stage 2 is going to be mostly a mass simulator, but not much else.
Watching a launch live in 1080p? With footage from the craft and booster? Truly amazing.
Is there a difference?
if advances in space travel are to be done by private means, does paying company profits become the new tax to do the things that government previously did?
Is there a presumption that the rich/corporations "know whats best" for humanity?
It has multiple configurations, one for crew, one for cargo, and possibly others.
This launch was significant as it was the first time they sent the crew configuration up as a demo and had it do automated docking procedures to dock (the old dragon had a more complex and manual docking procedure).
For simplicity sake, they tend to refer to this one as "Crew Dragon" to signify that it's in the crew configuration.
The progression of Falcon 9 rockets is:
* Falcon 9
* Falcon 9 V1.1
* Falcon 9 Full Thrust (also called V1.2 for a small period of time)
* Falcon 9 Fuller Thrust (I think this one was renamed to Block 4 at some point, but I distinctly remember hearing it called "Fuller Thrust" at first)
* Falcon 9 Block 5 (the current version and one that launched this capsule)
And their Dragon capsule has gone through several names as well:
* Dragon (the first version)
* Dragon CRS (an extended version with additional space)
* DragonLab (never flown as far as I know)
* Dragon 2 (cargo only I believe)
* Crew Dragon (the current one that just flew up to ISS, also technically a "Dragon 2" but with a different internal configuration.)
That being said, we should take a step back and stop drinking the Elon Musk Koolaid. This has been done flawlessly by Russian Soyouz hundreds of times over the last decades (with almost no failures).
This has also been done with the Shuttle.
Prior to this, the USA did not have the capability to transport astronauts to orbit without working with Russia, and if Russia were to just decide no longer to cooperate for arbitrary diplomatic reasons, we'd be screwed. As you know, the shuttle program was halted some time ago and the vehicle was a total cow the whole time it was in service.
So whereas this has been done before on a technical level, this represents a substantial increase in the USA's actual present space capability, and a major step in reversing the decline of the USA's competence in space.
737 first flight was in 1967.
Both B-52 and Tu-95 first flights were in 1952, both still in service today.
Sometimes problem is solved, and there is no need to solve it again, it would be insane for Russia to abandon Soyuz and develop something new at huge cost.
- SpaceX already sent multiple times almost the same capsule to the ISS before for cargo. Today's launch is just a small modification of those ones.
- Soyuz is mundanely sending astronauts all the time to ISS.
No it wasn't. I think you misunderstand what today's mission was about and what it opens for the future. Today's launch was a major departure from Normal SpaceX Activities. Launching a human-rated capsule to space is no "small modification".
> Soyuz is mundanely sending astronauts all the time to ISS.
They have exactly zero (0) vision or plans or constructed spaceships intended to start a Mars Colony. This makes SpaceX activities different from Russia activities in a pretty clear way. When SpaceX achieves a milestone it's a direct stepping stone to colonizing Mars. When Russia sends cosmonauts to the space station, they are sending cosmonauts to the space station and have no future plans. The two things are very different.
This is a private company.
Elon is the CEO but this victory is about the SpaceX team, not him.
One thing I remind myself is that Elon really didn't start Tesla. He's been snow balling off initial success and continues to accelerate thanks to collaboration with brilliant people.
Elon didn't start Tesla but he wanted to start a car company when he heard that another company had just started with the same idea so he joined them instead.
Since then he saved Tesla by taking over and investing his own money.
> He's been snow balling off initial success and
I'm sorry but that is just insane. The company was not very successful when he took over, so 'snow balling of early success' is just nonsense.
> continues to accelerate thanks to collaboration with brilliant people.
So like all successful business people/inventors in the history of the world?