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Old 10-01-2019, 03:46 PM   #46
K_Jameson
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I've three main areas of concern about the StarShip: timeline, design, resources.

Timeline: Musk wants to launch SS in some months. I'm worried about this short timeline. The Mk1 appears more a mock-up than an operational vehicle that should fly at 20 km altitude. And the perspective of putting mens about things like this is scary as hell, for now.

Design: SS is designed as some sort of "jack of all trades". You go to LEO, you go to the Moon, you go to Mars. This is exactly the approach that doomed the Space Shuttle. Nothing is explained about crucial details as crew security and escape. The design itself appears to be subject to constant and radical changes across the time, attesting a non-linear approach: seems that the design team proceeds via attempts.

Resources: Musk states that only about 5% of SpaceX personnel is deputed to the developing of this revolutionary spacecraft. This is astonishing because, in Sixties, NASA, for the task of developing a similarly ambitious goal, assorbed about 6% of the resources... not of a private venture, but of the most powerful Nation on Earth. I don't think I can believe that man.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:20 PM   #47
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The philosophy here is the same as an airplane or a ship. Perhaps the same as railway when it started.
It's business / profit driven, and that lowers the perception of risk.
There's little crew safety on an airplane (no parachutes) and nobody cares

It's an completely different mindset from before.
As you say, the design is fluid - iterative approach where solutions are fluid and ever improving
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:27 PM   #48
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Well, lets play some devils advocate there. You are pretty much right in your criticism, but what about trying to make sense of it, at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_Jameson View Post
 Timeline: Musk wants to launch SS in some months. I'm worried about this short timeline. The Mk1 appears more a mock-up than an operational vehicle that should fly at 20 km altitude. And the perspective of putting mens about things like this is scary as hell, for now.
Well, as I understand it, it essentially is meant to be used like that. Mark 1 whatever are (like the Ironman suits) simply development increments done with flight hardware. Which is possible because, welding steel is cheaper than carbon fiber and other stuff. Which is true. And still misleading because welding light-weight structures out of steel is a lot different to welding a cargo ship from thick steel plates. But from the structural engineering point, his gets a few important things right: The weight penalty of using steel isn't that big, while steel is much more economic for production. In some applications using steel is even lighter than other materials (eg, using aluminum for combustion engine pistons turned out to be poor choice, modern steel pistons are much lighter, thanks to improvements in alloys and forging quality)

One year ago, the Starhopper prototype did not exist. It was built and tested to flight capability in less than a year. That is a pretty great achievement of SpaceX and should not be underestimated. Their project plan is ambitious, but works much better than their earlier endeavors. Should the following flights also be in such a pace, they could really get into orbit until next year AND that with the third or fourth flight prototype iteration.

Which means: The Starship prototypes have to be produced slightly faster than the Falcon 9 stages and get their R&D improvements in similar paces. Something SpaceX has already shown that they can do that.

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Originally Posted by K_Jameson View Post
 Design: SS is designed as some sort of "jack of all trades". You go to LEO, you go to the Moon, you go to Mars. This is exactly the approach that doomed the Space Shuttle. Nothing is explained about crucial details as crew security and escape. The design itself appears to be subject to constant and radical changes across the time, attesting a non-linear approach: seems that the design team proceeds via attempts.
Well, but what if Musk doesn't think in spacecraft, but in an ecosystem of different launcher variants? In that case, the "jack of all trades" argument is no longer relevant. That what "doomed" the space shuttle in the end, was being a component of a bigger ecosystem of launchers, space stations and other infrastructure, which did not exist except this Space Shuttle. That can also happen to this BFR plan. But it could be prevented.

And still, for being so doomed, the Shuttle was a huge success. Just imagine what it could have been if done with a strategy that lasts longer than the term of a president.

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_Jameson View Post
 Resources: Musk states that only about 5% of SpaceX personnel is deputed to the developing of this revolutionary spacecraft. This is astonishing because, in Sixties, NASA, for the task of developing a similarly ambitious goal, assorbed about 6% of the resources... not of a private venture, but of the most powerful Nation on Earth. I don't think I can believe that man.
And still: This isn't 1961 anymore. The world has changed dramatically since. Especially in terms of space economics. Its no longer about being first somewhere. Its about making use of space.

And maybe you did not notice it, but SpaceX achieved something historically this summer. It was the first time a Full-Flow Staged Combustion Engine was flying. Something both USA and USSR failed to achieve despite years of development. And that with cryogenic fuels. Another level more complex than what the USSR attempted.

Of course, this a bit unfair. SpaceX can simply do the same as we do and download the project reports about the FFSC experiments done by NASA. SpaceX is standing on the shoulder of giants. Again, this isn't 1961 anymore. We have learned a lot about spaceflight since then and SpaceX has access too all this knowledge.

Still, 5% of SpaceX is really not much. But if 5% of SpaceX is devoted to the Starship project, it is a huge R&D investment, compared to other companies.
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Old 10-01-2019, 04:29 PM   #49
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The MK1 at Boca Chica is just a low-altitude prototype. The next iteration, MK2 is currently being built at Cocoa Beach in Florida. The first orbital version will be the MK3 which will be built at Boca Chica, essentially replacing the MK1. They're still working on the booster, called Super Heavy and it is required to get into orbit from Earth.

Also, the material they're using in 301 Stainless Steel, a well-known and well-used material: https://www.aksteel.com/sites/defaul...01201706_0.pdf

The reason why the MK1 looks a bit unfinished is because of the welding technique used, where they welded several pieces of steel together to form one barrel segment. They're already moving on to a single seam-welding technique which will eliminate the seams between each steel piece. The MK1 and StarHopper were just confidence builders. NASA/Boeing did the same with SLS, to test out the the new Vertical Assembly Center (VAC) at the Michoud Assembly Facility, they built and welded several Weld Confidence Test Articles.

Another thing is that all of the SS work is being done by a water tower company, hence Elon's tweet that "water towers can fly". He wasn't kidding, the StarHopper is literally a water tower with an rocket engine bolted to it. And all of the equipment used to build the SS/SH are rented, not owned.

Also, SpaceX is used to operate very lean. NASA on the other is pretty much required by law to operate rich, thanks to it being a government agency. Remember, SLS wasn't something that NASA wanted or needed, but was forced upon them by Congress, especially Alabama Senator Richard Shelby. Once the shuttle was gone, that would have been it for the Marshall Spaceflight Center (MSFC) which primarily does booster work (has done booster work since its founding back in the 60's, they're riding Werhner von Braun's Saturn legacy)
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:26 PM   #50
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Urwumpe, you were skeptical about Starship one year ago or so. A big twist here.

Last edited by K_Jameson; 10-01-2019 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 10-01-2019, 08:09 PM   #51
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Last edited by DaveS; 10-01-2019 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:00 AM   #52
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All I can say is meh.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:58 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_Jameson View Post
 Urwumpe, you were skeptical about Starship one year ago or so. A big twist here.
As I said, devils advocate.

There are many what-ifs for the program, but as I pointed out above, there could also be "What if it works out?"

Just being skeptical of something is no excuse for not looking at both sides of the story and considering what could be in favor of it.
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:15 AM   #54
4throck
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Nothing wrong in changing opinion.
I was skeptical of SpaceX but changed my mind because of the positive way they have handled setbacks.

They are quite open (for a business) and fast to move on towards solutions.
The last Starship hop test was a good example of this - engine failed to ignite, they fixed it and tested again the next day.
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:00 PM   #55
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https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-m...tastrophe.html
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:48 PM   #56
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Quote:
And a new "moral catastrophe"*: How long are we supposed to wait until we can colonize a planet for the astrobiologists to find existing rare traces of life there? Do scientists have a right to demand planetary protection for all eternity over the rest of humanity?

Maybe the astrobiologists should simply research Mars faster if they want to take a look at a virgin planet.

* Seriously: Have we turned into a species of drama queens lately just by having a terminal for the HTTP protocol everywhere we go? Is it all about attention?

Last edited by Urwumpe; 10-02-2019 at 11:19 PM.
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Old 10-03-2019, 12:23 AM   #57
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Someone's watching "Avatar" too many times.
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Old 10-03-2019, 05:45 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Urwumpe View Post
 * Seriously: Have we turned into a species of drama queens lately just by having a terminal for the HTTP protocol everywhere we go? Is it all about attention?
Yes, we have. Yes, it is.
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Old 10-03-2019, 03:19 PM   #59
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Funny how science is used more and more to generate fear and ignorance...

But it's all a matter of control. Musk will soon be free to explore the solar system, and of course others want to control and profit out of that
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Old 10-03-2019, 10:56 PM   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4throck View Post
 Funny how science is used more and more to generate fear and ignorance...

But it's all a matter of control. Musk will soon be free to explore the solar system, and of course others want to control and profit out of that
Well, even Musk has to follow the second law of spaceflight: No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

But it looks like he could get this problem solved better than NASA, by not depending on politicians to provide all of it.
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