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SpaceX may compete for Bigelow prize

Posted by: Stellvia - Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:25 pm
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SpaceX may compete for Bigelow prize 
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Post SpaceX may compete for Bigelow prize   Posted on: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:25 pm
From Alan Boyle's 'Cosmic Log' on MSNBC:-

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6228231/#041013b


"...I was curious whether SpaceX founder Elon Musk was interested in pursuing the $50 million orbital spaceflight prize announced last week by hotel magnate Robert Bigelow. "According to Elon, we are waiting to see the final details of the prize before making a decision," Molina said."


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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:39 pm
I'm looking out to wether they will compete. When I looked at T/space's website yesterdy I detected Elon Musk's name there - he is member of an advisory committee or so of t/Space.

Since t/Space is working on the CEV Musk might be interested to prove to be able not only to get unmanned to the orbit but manned too and that he can dock to a station. This will prove his Know Hoe and increase his authority as advisor.

At all he will be interested in proving as much of the capabilities of his vehicle as possible to get orders.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:03 pm
Elon from the beginning has been public about his aspirations to send humans into space. His rockets are supposed to be manrated from the beginning (according to his website). If he isn't building actual capsules I would not be at all surprised if he isn't at least providing the ride for the winning team.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:56 am
In the Aug/Sep update on SpaceX's site they say that :

"performance to GTO & escape can be improved significantly and the burnout g load reduced by using a kick stage, such as a Star motor from ATK"

does anyone know how big an increase in payload weights can be achieved by adding a kick stage?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:50 am
Wired News wrote:
Musk told Wired News that he intends to win America's Space Prize, and that he can do it by the Jan. 10, 2010, deadline

According to this article Spacex is going to compete for the America's Space Prize:
Race for Next Space Prize Ignites
And they seem to have solved the problems with their rocket engine, it had a full duration burn without problems.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jan 18, 2005 12:22 pm
Very good news. Before this my only information was that Musk has been suspicious about the space tourism market - he has changed his mind obviously and that's quite good.

It might be the chance to win 50 million $ which would be about eight times the launch costs of one Falcon I and the chance to get a business contract with Bigelow which wold reduce SpaceX's business fluctuations.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:17 pm
Actually, it seems Bigelow Aerospace is more skeptical about space tourism than it is about space research, development, and manufacturing. It's going after these markets first.

Musk is still following the same line as Bigelow.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:25 am
Allright,

it may be their view of the general market, their estimation what market segment customers may come from but not a restriction to whom they will offer flights by their vehicles (SpaceX) or to whom they will offer time at Nautilus (Bigelow).

I have misunderstood Musk probably - by what he has been reported to have said he will have meant not his doings but his estimations about the "nature" of potential customers: touristic customers, industrial customers or scientific customers (etc.).



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 9:55 am
SpaceX has just posted an update on their website to cover the last 4 months.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 8:47 pm
The SpaceX update is very interesting reading indeed . . .

Let's whip out a crystal ball and conjecture a bit

SpaceX is looking at developing a Merlin 1 follow-up engine, the Merlin 2
Really interesting. I'm wondering at how powerful this engine could be. It might well be that Merlin 2 ends up being (ball park figure) 2.5 times as powerful as the Merlin 1B engine, while maintaining or slightly raising Isp. Such an engine would be the equivalent of the H-1b and RS-27 engines. I'll call this a Merlin 2A engine. Alternately, SpaceX could develop an engine in the 170 ton thrust range (3.8 times Merlin 1 thrust), an analog to the russian NK-33. I'll call this the Merlin 2B.

Using 8 Merlin 2A or 5 Merlin 2B engines in the first stage and one Merlin 2A (or 2-3 Merlin 1B's) in a second stage would provide a rough analog of a Saturn 1B. The Saturn 1B had a payload to LEO of 18 metric tons. This should allow SpaceX to launch full-size space station modules or a large 'big Gemini' type spacecraft. Alternately, heavy GEO satelites or a minishuttle can be lifted.

Another use for a Merlin 2A size engine could be to simplify the Falcon 5. Potentially, all 5 Merlin 1B engines could be replaced by 2 Merlin 2 engines. Falcon V is a rough equivalent to the Titan 2, which only had 2 first stage engines...

Boeing and Lockheed won't like this at all. See if I care! :D

SpaceX plans on using the Merlin 2 as a step-up to an F-1 size engine
This is longer ranged but potentially even more exciting. With the Merlin 2 as a second stage engine SpaceX would have all the engines needed for a Saturn V sized booster. I really don't see much use for this big a booster other than launching more or less complete space stations, direct earth-moon missions or (in pieces) manned planetary missions. Mars Direct anyone?

Alternately, SpaceX could use two F-1 sized engines in the first stage and a single Merlin 2A as a second stage engine. A rocket built on these lines would be a Jarvis analog. This paper project had a planned LEO payload of 38 tons. Even if it isn't man-rated Bigelow could still use it as a station launcher as, for that matter, could the ISS consortium. If the Shuttle ends up getting retired before ISS is completed this launcher might allow shuttle payloads, fitted in a suitable carrier frame, to be launched. Complete with an assembly crew if needed :D

SpaceX is certainly seems to be thinking that the sky is not the limit.

Commentary is welcome. I'm just an interested outsider with imagination.

Cheers,
ErikM :twisted:


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:01 am
Seen from the point of your post SpaceX may be beating Scaled Composites/Mojave Aerospace Venture in development as well as at the markets - SpaceX will be Microsoft but Scaled won't.

Scaled will have a huge success suborbital but if SpaceX succeeds within five years in launching five people to the orbit the suborbital market may slow down early I suppose.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:54 pm
erikm wrote:
SpaceX is looking at developing a Merlin 1 follow-up engine, the Merlin 2
Really interesting. I'm wondering at how powerful this engine could be. It might well be that Merlin 2 ends up being (ball park figure) 2.5 times as powerful as the Merlin 1B engine, while maintaining or slightly raising Isp. Such an engine would be the equivalent of the H-1b and RS-27 engines. I'll call this a Merlin 2A engine. Alternately, SpaceX could develop an engine in the 170 ton thrust range (3.8 times Merlin 1 thrust), an analog to the russian NK-33. I'll call this the Merlin 2B.


I have seen a quote elsewhere (I believe on a previous SpaceX update) that the Merlin 2 was meant to only be about a 15-20% improvement over the Merlin 1 (this was before anything was mentioned about the 1B though), and was mostly due to refinements in their engine technology, which was developed too late to be fitted into the original idea.
Basically, along the idea's of "if we could start designing an engine from scratch again, this is how we would do it.", and hence why it is being used as a model for the future F-1 class engine.

Quote:
Another use for a Merlin 2A size engine could be to simplify the Falcon 5. Potentially, all 5 Merlin 1B engines could be replaced by 2 Merlin 2 engines. Falcon V is a rough equivalent to the Titan 2, which only had 2 first stage engines...


Again, I don't believe it is that significant a re-design - more likely that all the engines would be swapped out on a 1-to-1 basis, allowing the Falcon V to launch in the 8-10,000 range.

Quote:
SpaceX plans on using the Merlin 2 as a step-up to an F-1 size engine
This is longer ranged but potentially even more exciting. With the Merlin 2 as a second stage engine SpaceX would have all the engines needed for a Saturn V sized booster. I really don't see much use for this big a booster other than launching more or less complete space stations, direct earth-moon missions or (in pieces) manned planetary missions. Mars Direct anyone?

Alternately, SpaceX could use two F-1 sized engines in the first stage and a single Merlin 2A as a second stage engine. A rocket built on these lines would be a Jarvis analog. This paper project had a planned LEO payload of 38 tons. Even if it isn't man-rated Bigelow could still use it as a station launcher as, for that matter, could the ISS consortium. If the Shuttle ends up getting retired before ISS is completed this launcher might allow shuttle payloads, fitted in a suitable carrier frame, to be launched. Complete with an assembly crew if needed :D


This is where it gets much more interesting. A good point to note right now is that the F-1 engine is the biggest engine ever developed in America, and is three times more powerful than the current largest single liquid rocket motor in use in the US now, which is the Boeing Delta IV's RS-68 engine - so basically, as much launching power as the Delta IV Heavy in one rocket.

Personally, if they do develop a rocket of this size, I think it would be extremely unlikely to launch in multi-engine configurations, or at least not in the short term. The biggest commerical payloads peak at about 20,000 kg (which is just below the capacity of the Space Shuttle), and a single F-1 based engined rocket could do this. I'm a little surprised they're going for something this ambitious, the engine-out capability was useful, and I can't see them developing a new Saturn V anytime soon.

However, to move onto more interesting things, is the time scale. SpaceX has more or less officially announced that they will be, by themselves, competing for the Bigelow Space Prize, which needs to be won before the end of the decade.

In the update, Musk commented that the F-1 engines development should begin in about a year, or early 2007, after all of the development for the Merlin 2 has been completed (which will act as the base for all of the research, and so the completion of the engine should be relatively quick). This means it is conceivable that SpaceX will have the rocket ready to launch in say, mid 2008 - time enough to use it for the Space Prize.

The slightly sad fact is that it means they probably won't attempt something like our Gemini clone - they have about 5 times the weight allowance to play around with, to make something slightly better instead.

Interesting times indeed.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 03, 2005 7:37 am
SpaceX are still some way from launching Falcon 1, their latest posts on their website are saying late summer from Vandenburg after the last Titan launch, it still has to undergo more testing before then. I was a little surprised about this as I thought that they would be launching sooner going on their last updates. But they have been a bit quiet about what they have been up to, so maybe they have been having a few unanticipated problems.

They have also recieved a $100m contract from USAF which will run to 2010 for unlimited launches (whatever that means). Nice to see the military tossing them a few crumbs.

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stori ... 919&EDATE=

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 03, 2005 8:19 am
erm, never mind, gonna read that article first.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 03, 2005 11:02 am
The article sounds a little bit as if there will be time between the last tests and the launch. It say that the final test will done in the next weeks. We have beginning of May currently and the tests may be complete at the beginning of July.

May be that no launch is possible in July because of other projects of the militaire. More informations would be interesting - may be that the delay has organizational and coordinational reasons only.

I have been waiting for the March launch and thought it may occur last month or now at least.



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