Doubts Raised About Elon Musk’s Point-to-Point by Rocket Plan

BFR crew vehicle propulsion (Credit: SpaceX)

John Logsdon has spotted a potentially showstopping problem with Elon Musk’s plans to fly people point-to-point using his humongous rocket.

“It is a very attractive prospect, but I think extremely unrealistic in any relevant time frame,” Logsdon told CNBC in an interview….

Passengers on a spacecraft are subject to forces that are as much as five times the force of gravity as they accelerate into space, then are in microgravity or zero gravity for the duration of the flight. They get hit with the G-force again on landing, he said.

“The idea that a typical airline passenger would be able to go through the experience just doesn’t compute,” he said. “Musk calls all of this ‘aspirational,’ which is a nice code word for more than likely not achievable.”

However, Logsdon did say Musk’s presence and his work is healthy for the industry overall.

“I think the phenomenon called Elon Musk is fascinating and serves as a kind of beacon of hope that there is a better space future ahead of us,” he said, “and the transition from that beacon to reality will almost certainly take longer than Elon and his supporters hope.”

Read the full story.

Great Overview of the Technical Aspects of Elon Musk’s BFR

Video Caption: Elon Musk presented the latest updates on SpaceX’s long term plans for their ‘BFR’ at the IAC in Adelaide. I now have an inbox of messages asking for my take on it all so – let’s talk about the plans that he presented.

The main points are the BFR (Big Rocket) is now a lot smaller than the original design, it still uses 2 stages and refuels in orbit enabling it to go to Mars, but now it’ll also be setup as a satellite launch vehicle, cargo ship able to visit ISS and the surface of the moon. But most surprisingly, and perhaps least realistically, he pitched a new passenger design intended to carry people halfway around the Earth at hypersonic speeds.

Meet the Son of Shuttle: Elon Musk’s BFR Will Do It All

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk introduced a renamed version of his Martian colonial transport vehicle on Friday that was simultaneously shrunken somewhat in size but much larger in its ambition.

The big change in the newly renamed BFR  — for big effing rocket — involved reducing the number of first stage engines from 42 to 31 engines. Despite the reduction, the second stage booster/spacecraft would still be capable of carrying up to 100 people to the Red Planet.

The biggest change involves BFR’s scope. Not only would it the basis for building a Mars colony and moon base, it would completely disrupt terrestrial transportation by taking passengers between any two spots on Earth in less than an hour.

(more…)

Musk’s Mars 2.0 Presentation Might Not be Webcast

Well, that’s the good news. The bad news?

It’s not real clear whether the world will be able to see his presentation on Friday. There were some Tweets suggesting it would be webcast. This was followed by an official tweet from the IAF that it would not be. I’ve seen some grumbling that the reason for not webcasting it involves the state of Australia’s Internet not being especially fast.

I will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as we get them. Now back to your regular Monday programming.

Meet Starlink — The Name of SpaceX’s Mega Satellite Internet Constellation

SpaceX has applied for a trademark for the term “Starlink” as the name of its mega-constellations of Internet satellites. Elon Musk’s company’s has proposed an initial constellation of 4,425 satellites and a second constellation of 7,518 spacecraft.

Here’s how the services are described in the application, which was filed on Aug. 21:

IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Satellite communication and transmission services; wireless broadband communication services; transmission of data, voice and video via satellite; interactive satellite communication services; delivery of messages by electronic transmission; providing telecommunications connections to the Internet; telecommunications gateway services; providing high-speed wireless internet access; providing multiple-user access to the internet, global computer networks, and electronic communications networks; providing access to global information networks; telecommunications services via satellite; providing a website featuring information in the field of satellite communications; providing a website featuring information in the field of internet access via satellite; providing access to electronic databases and online information for use in retrieving satellite data, recordings, and measurements; satellite photography services

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Research and development services in the field of satellite communications; consulting services in the field of satellite communications; engineering services in the field of satellite communications; scientific and technological services, namely, research, analysis, and monitoring of data captured via remote sensors and satellites; remote sensing services, namely, aerial surveying through the use of satellites

Falcon 9 Launches U.S. Air Force X-37B

The X-37B spacecraft after landing on May 7, 2017. (Credit: USAF)

A Falcon 9 launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane this morning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the fifth launch of an X-37 vehicle and the first one by SpaceX’s booster. The first stage of the Falcon 9 successfully touched down on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the 16th recovery of a first stage.

Kacific Selects SpaceX to Launch Broadband Satellite

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

PORT VILLA, Vanuatu, 5 September 2017 (Kacific PR) – Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific) has selected SpaceX as the launch provider for its Kacific-1 satellite, which is being built by The Boeing Company.

Kacific-1 will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9, a two-stage orbit-class rocket designed from the ground-up for maximum reliability and reusability.

“SpaceX has a breadth of vision that appeals to us,” says Christian Patouraux, Kacific CEO. “The company is committed to changing the way people think about space and the possibilities it represents. Signing with SpaceX as our launch service provider is a major step towards delivering our own vision. We look forward to seeing Kacific-1 atop a Falcon 9 Rocket in 2019.”

“SpaceX is proud to partner with Kacific on the milestone launch of the company’s first satellite, Kacific-1.” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. “We appreciate their confidence in our proven capabilities and look forward to delivering their satellite to orbit.”

In February 2017 Kacific placed an order with The Boeing Company for the Kacific-1 satellite. Based on the reliable 702 satellite platform, Kacific-1 is designed to deliver high speed broadband via 56 narrow Ka-band beams, with the most powerful signal level ever achieved in a commercial satellite in the South East Asia and Pacific regions.

House Space Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Private Lunar Exploration

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

House Subcommittee on Space Hearing
Private Sector Lunar Exploration

Thursday, September 7, 2017 – 10:00am
2318 Rayburn House Office Building)

Hearing Purpose

NASA is supporting private sector exploration of the Moon through various programs. The private sector is also investing their own funding in the hopes of serving a future market for transportation, cargo delivery, and surface operations (including in situ resource utilization). Moon Express plans to launch a mission to the Moon later this year or early next year. Astrobotic recently announced a mission in 2019. Blue Origin disclosed its “Blue Moon” concept last spring. The United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have also indicated plans to operate in cislunar space in the near-future. The Hearing will review these efforts, and NASA’s role, in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities that they present.

Witnesses:

  • Mr. Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems, NASA
  • Mr. Bob Richards, founder and CEO, Moon Express, Inc.
  • Mr. John Thornton, chief executive officer, Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
  • Mr. Bretton Alexander, director of business development and strategy, Blue Origin
  • Dr. George Sowers, professor, space resources, Colorado School of Mines

Save

First Look at Launch Complex 39A Crew Access Arm

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe walk down the Crew Access Arm being built by SpaceX for Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe walk down the Crew Access Arm being built by SpaceX for Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The access arm will be installed on the launch pad, providing a bridge between the crew access tower and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon – or Dragon 2 – spacecraft for astronauts flying to the International Space Station on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The access arm is being readied for installation in early 2018. It will be installed 70 feet higher than the former space shuttle access arm on the launch pad’s Fixed Service Structure. SpaceX continues to modify the historic launch site from its former space shuttle days, removing more than 500,000 pounds of steel from the pad structure, including the Rotating Service Structure that was once used for accessing the payload bay of the shuttle. SpaceX also is using the modernized site to launch commercial payloads, as well as cargo resupply missions to and from the International Space Station for NASA. The first SpaceX launch from the historic Apollo and space shuttle site was this past February.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, with a goal of once again flying people to and from the International Space Station, launching from the United States. Boeing is building the CST-100 Starliner to launch on an United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41. For information on Boeing and ULA’s work on Space Launch Complex 41, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/crew-access-arm-installed-for-starliner-missions.

NASA’s Space Act Agreements with SpaceX, Boeing, ULA & Sierra Nevada


NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with SpaceX, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The four companies have been involved with NASA’s Commercial Crew and Commercial Resupply Services programs.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)
(more…)