Elon Musk Talks ISS Flights, Vladimir Putin and Mars

81 Comments

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks to CBS News about the need to restore America’s human spaceflight capability, the dangers of being dependent on Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and plans to settle Mars.

  • delphinus100

    “Without doing any calculations my gut tells me that something that makes
    “the Apollo rocket look small” would have serious structural issues”

    Nova? Sea Dragon?

    It’s not as if serious engineers have never looked at something beyond Saturn V…

  • Eric Thiel

    If SpaceX shows they have a reliable transportation system to the surface to the moon, and Bigelow provides effective shelters. NASA might invest in a lunar base.

  • mfck

    IMBW, but haven’t there been some progress, both propulsion-wise and structural engineering-wise since ’62? To a point where one does not need to do a submerged launch.

    That aside, I, personally, do not believe launchers above 200 mT to LEO will ever be feasible or needed. Huge Size is almost always a sign of decline and obsolescence. Orbital Assembly, Orbital Manufacturing enabled by rapid reusability are the way to go, in my opinion. Raw material / fuel should come not from within the Earth GW, unless it us launched with something pellet-based and very efficient, like a Launch Loop…

  • Tonya

    Sure, you could launch at sea, but an aircraft carrier probably wouldn’t be the way to go. A great big rocket standing 300->400″ high on the deck, will have a fuelled mass that’s quite a high fraction of the ship itself.

    You can get a lot more stability and surface area from a big dumb lump of floating concrete. Structures such as the Phoenix caisson’s built during WWII were massive and relatively cheap.

    But any option will always be more expensive than launching from land, and I think they’ll size the rocket to use the shuttle pad they now have access to, for the simple reason it’s already built. TBD is whether they’ll use something to recover the stages at sea.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    There are two strategies for overcoming how physically large the rocket needs to be. First, you must use RP1 or methane – Saturn V used RP1 simply because an LH2 first stage would have physically too large. This may also have been another factor that pushed Raptor towards methane.
    Secondly, multi-core. It seems Falcon Heavy may well, in part at least, be a proof of concept for SpaceX. I recall a Shotwell quote mentioning that the SHL would be “at least 6-7 metres in diameter”.

  • windbourne

    I am curious. Why would you think that grasshopper would not work esp. On the first stage?

  • windbourne

    Thank. I missed that.

  • windbourne

    That made spaces kill F5 and do the F9

  • Mader Levap

    What the hell. First, I hate Senate Launch System and like SpaceX. I am just realistic. I am fan, not a mindless fanboy that see Musk as miracle-maker. I see SpaceX’s potential to change permanently space industry – it will be simply way, way later than SpaceX and their fanboys think. Space is hard and all of that.

    “I think that I am being very realistic”
    Considering you talk about things like “FH launching this year”, “ready to launch humans at end of 2014″ or “Musk will be able to retire on Mars”… not really.

    Only thing that I can see this year is recovering intact first stage after launch. And it is enough achievment in itself.

  • windbourne

    Oh, I am sure NASA will invest. They are already helping VTVL for cargo crafts on the moon. Basically, NASA is trying to rebuild America’s space program by gett I ng numerous companies involved. What I find interesting is that the republicans are fighting that.

  • windbourne

    So, even with the FH test stand built, and a projected testing in Q2, with Launch in Q3 in CA, u do not think it will happen this year?
    Personally, I think this will be second easiest thing they do. Though to be fair, I am not a rocket scientist.

  • Eric Thiel

    Once spaceX gets a few more launch pads, and has the falcon launching routinely enough (maybe 1 to 2 launches a month) then the company will have a good cash flow, more customers will see it as reliable. Then the company’s profit increases which can help accelerate research and development in other projects. As long as the falcon 9 keeps providing safe and reliable launches, Space X will probably more then double it’s workforce and facilities by the end of the decade. A falcon heavy will probably be certified by 2019 for human flights, maybe off by 1 or 2 years at the most

  • Eric Thiel

    But republicans are specifically fighting against it? I can only think of one from Texas, and I forgot the name.

  • Eric Thiel

    Hutchison is the name. It has less to do with republicans wanting to kill off space X, but rather they have their loyalty with Boeing and Lockheed. Unfortunately it’s a political game. If Musk had more lobbyist then Boeing and Lockheed, then congress would be more in favor of the new space company.

  • windbourne

    Wolf
    Shelby
    Coffman
    Hatch
    Hutc
    Hutchinson( retired, but did massive damage )
    Coryn
    Many other republicans( note that these are the neo-cons, not the tea parties ).

    There is one notable dem who joined trying to gut private space. It was Barbara something or other who’s state has next gen scope. She was afraid of losing funding for it.

  • windbourne

    Actually, they are protecting jobs in their districts. It is not just L-mart and boeing. There is atk, ball, Raytheon, etc. Then u have a number of NASA centers that are in neo-con district, so they are also fighting to kill off private space.

    Oddly, the group of congress that screams about Putin, are the ones working to kill off privates space human launch.

  • Eric Thiel

    Basically laissez fair capitalist don’t work in congress, they seem to be working for corporations and other competitive government entities. Looks like Musk needs to show that’s his technology is more effective, if his new facility brings jobs to that part of Texas then maybe he can get a few neo-cons to his side.

  • windbourne

    actually, I can not imagine a worse situation. The old private space, counted on large numbers of jobs. That of course leads to massive expenses. SpaceX is about NOT creating loads of jobs. As such, there is next to nothing that spaceX can replace.

    SpaceX wants to get FH, along with human flight, up and running, AND to showcase the new MCT. Once they have FH and human flight going, it will be next to impossible for CONgress to continue funding of SLS, esp. in light of the coming debt crunch.

  • Mader Levap

    Argument is simple, we did not seen any FH hardware yet (no photos etc). It does not mean it does not exist, of course, but in my opinion this indicates delays. And only one quarter from testing to being on launch pad? No way. My bet is on 2015 for actual first maiden launch of FH.

  • Mader Levap

    Oh, I don’t doubt they can achieve that. Eventually.

  • windbourne

    Or simply use an old oil rig. We have loads of those in the gulf.

  • windbourne

    My understanding is that it uses the exact same cores.
    The FH has no real special hardware, other than how to tie these together. And lets wait and see about the 2015. If it takes that long, then I will accept that Mars will be 2030 or later.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “Simple – you do not bring to Mars useless waste of resources at all.”
    How do you avoid taking the ageing process to Mars?.
    Are you suggesting that if someone arrives on Mars at age 30, that when they reach 65 they should be shipped off planet?. A silly rhetorical question, of course you are not suggesting that. People grow old, people get ill, how will a young Martian colony cope with these facts of life?.

    I suspect that you are thinking too cautiously with regard to SpaceX’s chances of success. Your notion of “realistic” could easily be assessed as pessimistic or conservative.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “A falcon heavy will probably be certified by 2019 for human flights”
    FH carrying a DragonRider is no different, from a human safety viewpoint, than F9. A few successful launches of FH and there’s no reason it should not receive the same certification as F9.

  • Mader Levap

    Young martian colony will need each and every able pair of hands for long, long time. Who knows, maybe 35-year old martian colony can afford few retirees. Maaaaybe.
    And ill people that cannot be healed on-situ of course will be shipped off. Unless Earth gravity will be more dangerous than staying on Mars.

  • Saturn13

    Nice to hear Musk still says 2 years for crew. I reread the SAA they have and they were suppose to have a pad abort in Dec. ’13. So they are behind schedule. The added parachute test may have caused the delay. That was to test the new abort parachutes. They may get back on schedule with the in flight abort at the end of this year. The SAA says they will only charge NASA $30 million. That includes the launch vehicle. This is the best launch deal that SpaceX has ever come up with. I wonder if the rocket will still steer straight or will have to be destroyed, since the capsule will depart at a lot of air resistance. The SAA introduction says they give options of a crew flight in ’15 and a crewflight to ISS at the end of ’15 making Dragon Rider NASA operational in ’16, a full year before what NASA says Crew will be ready. But all the optional milestones has been blacked out. This may mean NASA is not going to do them and crewed flight will be on the next round. I hope that does not cause a delay.
    The SAA can be read at the document library of NASA.gov commercial section.

  • http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/ Robert Clark

    Well said. Trying to save money by cutting commercial space is a bad move both politically and financially to American companies.

    Bob Clark

  • http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/ Robert Clark

    I would still take the 2015 first launch of the FH. If Musk maintains the plan to do lunar mission using it, that will still show commercial fight can do such BEO flights orders of magnitude more cheaply than the discouraging NASA estimates for such missions.
    That will be a positive not just for lunar missions, but for Mars and asteroid missions as well.

    Bob Clark

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “Unless Earth gravity will be more dangerous than staying on Mars.”

    Now you’re getting it. If you’ve there 10 or 20 years, will there ever be any possibility of a return to Earth. What about people born on Mars – will Martians ever be able to come to Earth?.

    “Simple – you do not bring to Mars useless waste of resources at all.”

    It’s not going to be a military camp, you know, or a scientific outpost. I’m wondering if your cautious pessimism comes from a lack of personal intellectual and emotional commitment to the idea. At the end of the day, it’s not about the best or most efficient way of creating such a colony, though that would be nice, it’s about actually getting it done. A new civilisation, a society of Martians and terrestrial emigrants on a new world.

  • Mader Levap

    ” I’m wondering if your cautious pessimism comes from a lack of personal intellectual and emotional commitment to the idea.”
    Indeed, this lack of emotional investment allows one to make objective evaulation of plausibility of an idea.

    “It’s not going to be a military camp, you know, or a scientific outpost.”
    It is going to be place where it is very hard to survive, especially in first decades. This is enough.

  • Aerospike

    While I agree more or less with your general assumptions about time frames, I wonder if you considered all the “variables” for your assumptions.

    Point in case: if a transport capability between Mars and Earth exists, that makes it more economic/efficient to send old/ill people back to Earth instead of supporting them on Mars, then the whole point is moot because that capability would work both ways: it would be no problem to simply get some additional supplies/personnel from Earth to deal with the ill/old.