They appear to shoot the entire vehicle out of a cannon-like container, then air-ignite the booster. I can't think of another launch vehicle that does this. The US did this sort of launch for the Sprint anti-ballistic missile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msXtgTVMcuA
Long March 11 is based on solid rocket motors and is much smaller than Long March 5 (roughly equivalent to a Delta IV Heavy or an expendable Falcon 9) which uses kerosene and oxygen for the first stage and hydrogen and oxygen for the second stage.
The sequence goes like this:
- the missile is ejected from the silo by mortar system, that generates a huge amount of gasses under the missile to push it out, acting on a piston part located right under the missile
- the missile jumps out of the silo and the piston is ejected sideways via a small solid rocket motor
- some wiring harnesses and what looks like guide wheels is ejected from the missile
- the first stage engines of the missile (in this case liquid & hypergolic) are ignited and the missile starts to climb
This technique keeps the silo pretty much intact, which is nice for an ICBM acting as a space launch vehicle. Also IIRC for war use, it was theoretically possible to reload the silo and fire another missile before a retaliatory strike could destroy it, causing all kinds of havoc in cold war scenario planning.
A device that can carry several tons to GEO and to start in a slanted position along a mountain would be a very different beast than a usual rocket.
To say nothing about building several miles of an excessively straight maglev bridge along a mountain which is likely not that straight, and also highly visible.
The problem is getting out of the thickness of the lower atmosphere. That’s why rockets go up before they go sideways.
>They appear to shoot the entire vehicle out of a cannon-like container, then air-ignite the booster.
They have an interesting launch platform, maybe they are trying to limit the damage to equipment? As it is their strategy seems relatively gentle to their launch platform. This could give them faster turnaround on launches.
It seems like something that could be done with little fundamentally new technology. Demonstrating the real-world application of the synthesis and use of fuel off-planet would be a major milestone in space exploration. To top it off, bringing back the first samples from Mars would be a major feather in the cap of any nation or corporation.
To me, getting that set of technologies to an operational level is one of the biggest reasons to go (back) to the Moon. It's cheaper to send demonstrators there, and easier to troubleshoot them.
Once we can do ISRU refueling reliably, the solar system will become dramatically more accessible (to robots, and eventually humans).
You'd have to use a completely different type of ISRU for the Moon, and mining for it on the Moon (i.e. scraping a permanently shadowed crater near a lunar pole) is a lot harder than on Mars where you can just suck in some of the atmosphere. There's not nearly as much commonality as you might think.
The only equivalent option I know of for the moon would be to collect water ice and break it down to oxygen and hydrogen. The process involved would be quite different.
The layers of soil we'd have to cover our buildings in really got me!
I read about tech a few years back that simulates the entire atmosphere in about 5cm. Photos of rooms with these lights looked like skylights. "Real" sunlight is probably very important for mental health.
Because we have all the resources we need on Earth to build a base on Mars, and if we make good use of ISRU ("live off the land") on Mars, we can get a lot of what we need right there. See for example synthesising methalox from Martian resources; marscrete; making glass and other chemical processes... Zubrin's "Mars Direct" book goes into many details here.
Building a reusable booster capable of launching vehicles that can do the Mars transfer is much more economical than building intermediate stages like orbital gateways or asteroid mines.
That's not to say mining asteroids is a bad idea though -- there are other companies looking at this too!
Mars has gravity and can use our normal mining and manufacturing, it's straightforward to dig in with shovels for shielding. Launching from Mars is easier, so it's a probable path to the belt.
I don't see economical viability for the Earth in any of these scenarios. Maybe only the straight breakthrough in zero-g autonomous mining and return of precious metals from the belt to Earth.
With so many going to, already at, or already been to Mars, it seems like they should be able spare a probe for Venus.
Mars will never be a place anyone sane would want to be. But Cloud City floating 50 miles above Venus! Who could resist?
Venus is hard unless you want to just stay in orbit. Surface temperature that's steady right around 872F (tin melts at 449.4F, lead at 621F, zinc at 787F) and a surface pressure that is equivalent to being under 3000 feet of water.
Sure, something in orbit over Venus could do some mapping and stuff but meh, Mars could have harbored life like we find on Earth now at some point in its past, we can hang out for months or years taking photos from orbit and the ground, on the ground missions can last months or years instead of hours (Venera 12 sent data back for 110 minutes, it could have for longer but was out of range of its orbiter after 110 mimutes) or days that evne modern equipment would be able to survive before you started having multiple failures. Best case you'd have to land something akin to a submarine with expendable coolant and buy some time as you consumed coolant but realistically you aren't going to get more than a couple of days if that on the surface.
Something like a balloon is just as likely to fail as it is to succeed given we have no way to realistically test one before sending it and even then, it's still going to collect very limited amount of data, not much more than the Russians already collected via the various Venera missions.
Arguably, it would, it would just require the collector to take a dip in the denser parts of the atmosphere. It might be tricky though, and generally the less moving parts a misson has, the better.
Balloons don't need to deal with wind forces. They go where the air goes.
More important, though, is that on Mars you're in Nowheresville. Cold, dusty, airless, dim, with possibly unhealthily-low gravity.
Polyethylene is just carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, all available at altitude.
The ROI must be awful. Just think about the cost to get there and the chance of anything of value coming back... a big time net loss no doubt.
I wish I could buy the hype but I’m just not seeing it.
Why move west, across the Mississippi? It's just open prarie and Indians.
Why go camping? It's just dirt and bugs and carcinogens from cooking fires.
Why climb mountains? People get killed all the time in horrible accidents.
2. It'd be a great testing/research site for wild science experiments like artificial creatures and stuff that would go very badly if not contained on Earth.
Mars has demonstrated high amusement value. That has sustained all the missions thus far. It's all we have any prospect for in decades to come. God knows we'll need a lot as our ecosystem folds up around us.
That's too broad an assumption. In truth, it'll depend on WHAT you are trying to manufacture and if you can keep it on Mars and send its product/output back to Earth. I'm not going to try to predict what stuff we'll want in the future because I don't know. But it's too early to dismiss the possibility of "real utility".
Asteroid mining, maybe not so much, depending on how much it can be automated. The problem there quickly becomes how not to saturate demand and drive down prices to the point that the material's not worth transporting. Probably the only solution, ultimately, is to create enough demand in situ to absorb excess capacity.
It's impossible to tell what Mars could offer in full, but we do know one of them upfront: surviving a meteor, Yellowstone, a pandemic, or any one of many ways that the entire species could be wiped out.
We could survive a Yellowstone eruption much, much, much more easily in Antarctica than on Mars.
Mars is interesting, but not as a place to live.
Microwave ovens do have nothing to do with space I'll give you that, however the microwave oven was effectively invented by Percy Spencer and Raytheon, while working for Raytheon, working on defense related contracts for radar in 1945 and space exploration from its infancy has been hand in hand with defense/military research.
>GPS satellites operate under remote control
GPS is a direct result of space exploration. Without space exploration, there would be no GPS. Without GPS we'd be producing considerably less food (farming relies heavily on GPS now), there would be far less international shipping (international shipping as it is now, does not work without GPS), without GPS Uber and Lyft would not exist, without GPS the global economy would be drastically different. All because we spent money on space exploration.
>don't cure cancer,
There has been gobs and gobs of cancer research conducted on ISS. Here's some https://www.issnationallab.org/blog/cancer-research-on-the-s...
We have no idea of what we might discover on Mars. Imagine if we find living extremophiles, their genes could be worth a million times their weight in gold (if they are even DNA based) and the discovery alone would be worth every cent we've ever spent on space exploration as a species.
GPS, likewise, has nothing to do with space exploration. They build them on the ground, and shoot them into orbit, end of story. Further, they don't result in more food production, they just increase profits of tractor owners producing the same amount of food.
Any cancer research conducted aboard the ISS is naked opportunism.
These read like a parody of actual arguments, that taken seriously would lead a reasonable person to conclude instead that all space exploration is pointless. It is fortunate that none would.
Um, there are experiments you can do in microgravity that you absolutely can not do on earth.
For one there's no convection due to different relative densities, virtually no no hydrostatic pressure exists, crystals grow larger and more pure which allows for all sorts of things (like far more efficient semiconductors), alloys made in microgravity are more uniform and perform better, etc etc so on and so forth.
We get it, you hate space, that doesn't mean it isn't a gold mine of future innovation.
I don't hate space. I just really hate nonsensical, fallacious, and dishonest claims. Promoting falsehoods poisons the well, making legitimate motivations suspect.
It’s a wonderful way to demonstrate power without starting a war.
That's a pretty decent ROI.
Who do the inheritors of Mars sell it to? And what do they swap for it?
The algorithm has developed the current forms that can actually plan ahead and try to push through the gaps of 'nothingness' to keep filling the space.