SpaceX meets Moon (soon)

Hi,
private space company SpaceX aka Elon Musk decided to visit make a flyby around Moon in 2018.


Where to start? Well it probably began with two private citizens who were willing to pay many MANY millions of dollars to get a nice trip. Yes, space tourism, exactly.

This trip is planned to be done with Falcon Heavy which is rocket (not build yet) designed by SpaceX and is supposed to have 2/3 of thrust of Saturn V (the rocket that got Apollo to Moon). The crew will stay for about 8 days in Dragov v2 (v standing for version) capsule that is also not tested yet. Both of these things are supposed to be run later this year.

Dragon V2 in hover test [1]

The crew are definitely some rich people but as of now they are staying anonymous. At the end of this year they are supposed to start some training but otherwise the mission will be automated so they wont have to do much stuff.. also that means that they wont do much science either.. only some tests on their bodies but otherwise it really is only “sightseeing” trip.

Why this whole thing though? Well it will add lot of publicity and earn some money and it is place to test Falcon Heavy and D2 capsule[2]. The last time people went to the Moon was in 1972 and this mission is quite similar to Apollo 8 which was also such a flyby.

Otherwise we do not really know much details, SpaceX will have to do a lot to be able to accomplish this goal and right now it is behind schedule.. there were some rocket explosions which slowed the company down. We will see how it looks like in the upcoming months.

Dragallur

[1]When the rocket starts to explode and there are people on board, you need to be able to escape really fast. The capsule was not tested on rocket yet.

[2]Also if part of it is payed by somebody else.. well why refuse?

Picture source: By SpaceX Photos – Dragon 2 hover test, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46531492

Private companies take the space industry by attack

Hi,
today I want to talk about how private companies like SpaceX ,which I already talked about few times and Blue Origin for example, influence the space industry.


For many years there was NASA and only NASA. Now these days you could have noticed that SpaceX appeared, self-funded company with priority of making space cheap. Same interest has also Blue Origin, space company founded by Jeff Bezos, the owner and CEO of Amazon. (billionare as well as Elon Musk of SpaceX)

These two guys and others are aiming for cheap space which is something that NASA was never able to do. After Apollo 11 they wanted to start to use reusable rockets but it never went to perfection. The primary goal of 25 dollars per pound on the orbit of Earth, changed more into something like 25,000 dollars per one pound.

Now NASA wants to make Space Launch System and Orion capsule to get us to Mars. Noble goal it is. There is one “minor” problem. Look at NASA budget over years:

The peak is when we were trying to get to Moon

Right now NASA has about 0.5% of federal budget compared to 4.5 that got us to Moon. Estimates are that the whole Space Launch System (SLS), which is basically huge rocket, will cost in the matters of tens of billions of dollars (this is just development, see later for launch price)! (0.5% is something like 19 billions of dollars).

The thing is that there are other players, like SpaceX who can do this much easily. SLS will be using boosters RS-25 that are from 70s and throw them away after every launch while we have New Shepard of the company Blue Origin that has already been used 5 times over!

From what I have read from Phil Plait and others, SLS will probably be one huge fail. Already now it is behind schedule for its first unmanned launch, not talking about the approximation of mission to Mars (something like 2030-40) where as SpaceX is investing huge amount of money to Falcon Heavy that should be able to carry over time enough stuff to build a base on Mars. Falcon H. payload capacity is over one third of SLS though it should be able to fly several times for the same price as SLS. (I found that it would be able to make more than 5 flights for the same price on the Low Earth Orbit, thats some difference!)

The thing is that NASA is underfunded and right now it even spends money on something that may not ever be working while there are smaller players but with clear and cheaper mission.

Mind you that SpaceX is planning to design Interplanetary Transport System and Blue Origin’s New Armstrong (they are working on New Glenn right now which is one of these huge rockets anyway).

From what I have understood, the key in the future of space exploration is reusability.

Dragallur

Check out these pages for more info: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)

Btw. NASA does not plan to use SLS more than 3 time per year because otherwise they would have to build up huge facilities. Also the first version of SLS will have payload capacity of almost half the one that I counted in this post. They will have to change it a bit and add some things over time to get to the final capacity.

What is going up on Mars?

Hi,
while thinking about today’s topic I find some random stuff and decided to share it with you. So here you go, new exoplanets, tsunami on Mars, good view on Mars and SpaceX announcement.

Artist’s impression of exoplanet.


Thanks to new statistical method there were 1,284 exoplanets confirmed[1].
This is biggest number ever in one shot. There is of course lot of data form Kepler which observes stars for those exoplanets. You can not be sure always if what you saw was really exoplanet so you need more data. When uncertainity is below 1%, it is officially agreed that the planet is there. With this new method, lot of those uncertainities went below 1% so yes they were “discovered”. Other data was “thrown away” because the percentage went lower and generally this was nice breakthrough.[2]

For long time it was thought that Mars’s terrain was shaped by its ocean that later on evaporated. But the shoreline would be graduall which is not what we observe, rather exact opposite with many geological features along it. These features could rather be explained by huge tsunamis that were formed by asteroid impacts.

Also Mars is going to be these weeks in oposition to Sun and basically really close to Earth, on about 1/2 of AU. The closest it could be would be about 1/3 of AU because its orbit is kind of excentric. If you want to see it well, just take a telescope and with good one you should be able to see even some of its geological features. If you get to see (if it is possible for normal people) Olympus Mons, say hello from me 😉

After SpaceX landed second time on the barge, Elon Musk stated that they want to land on Mars in the year of 2018, which is in two years! They have really lot of work to do so lets see where they will be in that time! (Read more here on the blog of Phil Plait)

Dragallur

[1]Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other stars.
[2]From the data we also know that 550 are probably rocky and 21 are in habitable zone.

Space NEWS #9 (SpaceX landing!)

Hi,
in one post I already talked about the company SpaceX which is founded by Elon Musk who is a billionair and fan to Mars colonization. Right now SpaceX often delivers food and other goods on ISS helping NASA. Musk wants to make flying to space a lot cheaper and the first step for this is reusable rocket, right now to deliver one kilogram on Earth’s orbit costs about 20,000$.


I already mentioned how the company was able to land on one particular spot which was a great breakthrough. Since this would be in long term quite dangerous (to land over on continent where it could hit someone), it was needed to try this on the ocean. In the mission with Jason-3 there was some damage and the rocket exploded.

booster on the barge

SpaceX learned from their mistakes and yesterday they actually landed on a barge. The barge was named “Of Course I Still Love You” and trust me it was a real challenge, not only the last steps but also the whole process before, the barge is small compared to the vastness of ocean and yet, they were able to land just few meters next to the right spot.

Here is the link for the landing, this should left you wondering, how far can we get?

Dragallur

 

Space NEWS #7.5

Hi,
7.5? Wut? Well today I will just continue with the Jason-3 satellite which was launched yesterday.


So yesterday in the evening Falcon 9, the launch vehicle of SpaceX carried Jason-3 to low earth orbit. This is somewhere between 160 and 2,000 kilometers, yes there is such a big difference.

For Jason-3 it is 1,336 km above Earth’s ocean and before it rotates once around Earth it takes him about 2 hours.

I was watching the launch on NASA TV at the time of the launching. While there was lot of fog so I could see only the top of Falcon 9, still when the flames started to burst everything went kind of red and white.

Falcon was able to fly faster than 2,000 km/h if I remember correctly. Jason-3 was successfully deployed and now it will take 6 months before it will be fully operable because all the instruments must be calibrated and then it will work with Jason-2 which orbits several kilometers above.

Image of Jason-3 Launching.As I mentioned in the last post, it is going to measure the height of oceans. Jason will be able to cover 95% of Earth’s oceans in 10 days, amazing.

After the deployment, SpaceX tried to land Falcon on ship named: Just Read The Instructions. Sadly they were not able to make it, everything was going well but then the collet was not working properly and Falcon fell on one side instantly exploding. What is important is that they can learn from mistakes, and that is really important.

Dragallur

Picture is from NASA page

 

Space NEWS #7

 

Hi,
today I am bringing space news before it is too late because today the launch vehicle Falcon 9 is going to send Jason-3 satellite on orbit.


 

Jason-3 is international satellite which is going to observe oceans for at least 3 years with goal of 5 years.

Such a monitoring is extremely important and Jason will specialize for the sea level rise, human impact on oceans, prediction of hurricanes and improvement of marine navigation.

Jason is going to be launched TODAY in the evening. Since all of you are from different parts of the world I can only say that it is going to be in 18:42:18 of Greenwich time. It is definitely going to be available on NASA TV.

Also what is important is that Falcon 9 is going to try to land on ship so it can be reused. This is extremely important because it can extremely lower the price of space flights.

To watch the last Falcon 9 of SpaceX landing, watch this, it is amazing.

Dragallur

Picture of Falcon 9:

Falcon 9 v1.1.jpg

SpaceX

Hi,
today I will write about Space X which is a first privately founded company which launched and recovered rocket from low Earth orbit. Also SpaceX was the first private company to launch rocket for ISS, the Interational Space Station.


It is company which was created in the year of 2002 by Elon Musk who is a billionaire and also the man behind PayPal and Tesla motors.Elon Musk Net Worth
The company goals are:
Make a much more cheaper space launching and traveling. Already competition had to lower all kinds of things that need to be done for launching because SpaceX is creating everything on one and only site in California which makes it lot cheaper. Musk thinks that he can make the launch of one kilogram for 1,100 dollars.
Another goal was stated by Musk in the year of 2011 that he wants to take people to Mars in 10-20 years. And later on to create self-sustaining colony.
In June 2015 SpaceX asked goverment for permission of project which would access internet to rest of planet.
For now the company has signed contract with NASA so that they will send rockets to ISS with supply and they will have there safe vehicle if something went wrong. Also this would enable 7 people to be present at the same time on ISS.
Now SpaceX is developing Dragon V2 which is manned version of Dragon spacecraft. It should be the safest spacecraft built.

Dragallur