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Thread: SpaceX makes historic rocket landing

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: The Spiraling Sea

    SpaceX makes historic rocket landing

    As you may have heard, SpaceX's reusable rocket was used to help deliver an inflatable guest room to the International Space Station along with 7,000 pounds worth of food and cargo to resupply the astronauts.

    But the real story is that reusable rockets make space exploration literally 100x cheaper over the long term.

    This means we're that much more efficient at leveraging the resources we have out there, the resources we haven't touched yet, and eventually relocating civilization to save us from natural disaster or human-made disaster.


  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: The Spiraling Sea
    A quick closeup of the landing...


  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jun 1999
    Location: Procrastination, Australia
    Even the one where they (it) screwed up and crashed was impressive. It's hard enough to make a rocket go up in our atmosphere without flipping out and exploding, never mind landing again.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: The Spiraling Sea
    I agree...although this was obviously even more impressive...If you have the time, watch the webcast...

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2004
    Didn't the space shuttle cover the re-usable spacecraft thing decades ago, and they retired it because disposable rockets were cheaper?

  6. #6
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    From what I gather, the Dragon's appeal is that it's cheaper than both the space shuttle and the disposable rocket model, while still being resuable.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: Formby, NW England
    Plus the controlled landing means they don't have to go and get it out of the ocean.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2003
    Location: Location, Location
    The thing about the Space Shuttle is that it utterly failed to be cheaper than disposable launch systems. The Space Shuttles were mind-bogglingly complicated machines, each craft requiring tremendous numbers of man-hours spent on inspection and maintenance. The external fuel tank for the Shuttle's main engines was $50+ million a pop, none of them reusable. In the end it came out to an average of 25 grand per pound of payload put into space, which was well over 100 times more expensive than NASA was projecting it would cost in 1972.
    Simplicity is one of the largest factors (if not THE largest factor) in keeping the cost of space launch systems down, and simplicity just isn't compatible with the concept of a manned cargo-hauling space glider.

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to improve over simply putting parachutes on them a la the shuttle's boosters?

    Anyway, it's not enough to reuse. You also have to get the costs of recovery and refurbishment below the cost of simply making a new one. Shuttle refurbishment was crazy expensive.

  10. #10
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I'm sure there's hard numbers somewhere that say how much of an improvement it is or isn't.

    But just as a technical feat this is impressive to see. I've been reading about the early space program, which if you read about, you know how many factors they have to account for & how much can go wrong.

    In the end, I'm putting my money on a few space elevators connected to in-orbit spaceports.
    Then you just lift a vehicle and launch it directly into orbit.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    When I envision a space elevator, I think of something like a tram. A full loop kept in motion, bringing things down and up. This could be powered from the ground, and does a lot of great things. But there are major problems with that idea, not least that you need like 4+ times as much cord, and the main wheel would probably have to be built into a mountain.

    Most designs are more static, which lets you make it thinner in the middle, but presents an interesting problem: How do you get up and down it? Sticking a rocket on the cable car is (A) potentially dangerous to the cable and (B) makes you wonder why you even bother having a cable. There's talk of using laser propulsion, which is a great idea that may be practical someday but isn't right now, and once again makes you wonder what the cable is for. (Coming down, I suppose.) You basically cannot have a self-powered crawler - there's no way to make the math on that work. The cable's length makes running a current down it impractical, unless you can somehow get a superconductor in there, which I doubt.

  12. #12
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I think they'd have some very redundant, very fail-safe slow mechanical process that may take a week or more to raise the thing, but it addresses the practical problems... Like why bother with cords? Have regular combustion-engine wheels that slowly roll up a corkscrew track. There could be some more rapid smaller elevators in stages around the sides for personnel or emergencies or the like too. And things can be geared for going up, as I imagine to get things down it'd be easier to just get them into the upper atmosphere and parachute them off from there.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    The other problem with space elevators is the radiation the car is exposed to during the ascent/descent. It would take about five days to get to orbit height, during which time the radiation has cooked everything to a crisp - unless you add significant levels of radiation shielding, which then increases the mass of the car, giving you further problems. You've also got the fact that to be stable, the cable needs to be much thicker and the top than at the bottom, which makes the method of moving cars up and down more limited.

    I hope I see space elevators during my lifetime, but I think the apocalypse is more likely.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2005
    Location: Not Kansas
    I thought this guy explained pretty well why space elevators aren't exactly feasible; at least, not for the foreseeable future.

    https://youtu.be/_2M73aXuORI

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I think they'd have some very redundant, very fail-safe slow mechanical process that may take a week or more to raise the thing, but it addresses the practical problems...
    Yeah, but there's no real candidate for that position, even if we could build the elevator itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Like why bother with cords?
    We're literally talking about a giant cord, and yes, one of the major counter-arguments is why bother with it? What does it accomplish that a rocket doesn't?

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Have regular combustion-engine wheels that slowly roll up a corkscrew track.
    That requires fuel - literally more fuel than you can carry. You can't pump the fuel up - you'd need regular pumping stations which would in concert use up more fuel than they could provide. There's basically no way around that problem except sending rocket loads of fuel up top, which in turn would be less efficient than just using rockets to carry your payload in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by nicked View Post
    The other problem with space elevators is the radiation the car is exposed to during the ascent/descent.
    Eh, the car can be "shielded" - in most cases all you really need to do is put your passengers inside your payload. I'm more concerned about the cable itself.

  16. #16
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    By no cord I meant not cords lifting anything, but that wasn't the sticking point about needing some massive physical structure one way or another anyway.

    The fuel would be laser power.

    I'm not about to presume I've thought of anything that very smart people haven't already thought a lot about and know the ins and outs of though.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    By no cord I meant not cords lifting anything...
    I understood perfectly well what you meant, but the counter-point remains. IMO, lift is the one useful thing the cord might theoretically do. (That's what it does in a normal tram or elevator, after all.) Take that off the table, and the cord is even more pointless. Why does a lift system need a static cord there?

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    The fuel would be laser power.
    You cannot internally combust - your idea - a laser. You can theoretically use a ground laser to generate thrust, but once again, that technology isn't particularly dependent on the presence of the cord. Basically that version of the space elevator can be seen as dependent on a technology whose existence would most likely make it obsolete. Finally you could use a laser to generate power, but again the photovoltaics themselves generate more weight than lift. I suppose that last is at least theoretically solveable?

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I'm not about to presume I've thought of anything that very smart people haven't already thought a lot about and know the ins and outs of though.
    I really think that super structures just fire the imagination. People like them, practical or not.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Aw forget all that check this out:

    http://www.breakthroughinitiatives.org/News/4

  19. #19
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    That sounds promising and cool. We may be able to see planets outside our system in my lifetime after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pyrian View Post
    You cannot internally combust - your idea - a laser.
    Sheesh, "fuel" metaphorically/rhetorically, in quote marks, to mirror your phrasing. Of course it's not literally the fuel, but the power supply.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    When I address both what you said and the more reasonable thing you may have meant, it's too late to come back with just "that's not what I meant". It's not like I didn't foresee and address that possibility.

  21. #21
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    It wasn't really to explain. I'm mostly saying that because when I was originally typing that I was going to put "fuel" in quote marks, but it became a pain to open up the stupid window for symbols on my phone and scroll over to the quote marks. It's more than just what I meant, but my intended symbology to mark it that my phone was fighting me on, and it looks better to say that than do a late edit. Chalk it up as frustrated typing on a phone sometimes.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2009
    Location: The Spiraling Sea
    Fly me to the moon … Ok https://t.co/6QT8m5SHwn

    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 27, 2017

    SpaceX plans to send two people around the Moon in 2018!

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Location: Canuckistan GWN
    They'll never make it past the Chem Trails.

  24. #24
    Moderator and Priest
    Registered: Mar 2002
    Location: Dinosaur Ladies of the Night
    And even if they could, the Van Allen belt would fry 'em like an egg on a sidewalk.

    No one's really been to the moon, you know. We're trapped here, on this flat monolith located on the back of a giant turtle floating through the phlogiston loaded aethers.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Cologne
    Nonsense, we live inside a sphere. Don't believe me? Just dig a hole and you'll see. But you're too scared! That's how they have taught you.
    Cellular Cosmogony is the truth!

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