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Elon Musk announces details of "Interplanetary Transport System" at IAC

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ThirstyBarbarian

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EDIT: The title of the thread has been changed to indicate the conference has now happened and the details have now been released. The original post, which was before the conference, follows below. New links to the conference materials are further down in the thread.

Remember Elon Musk alluding to plans for SpaceX to develop a Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) and saying that he would announce more complete details at this year's International Astronautical Conference? Well the IAC is next week, and Musk has confirmed he will be talking about the system at the conference.

According to the article below, they have decided to change how they refer to the system. Because the system could be used for many other types of missions, not just to Mars, it is being renamed the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). Whatever you choose to call it, the idea is a system large enough to transfer many tons of cargo or very large numbers of people to places in the solar system, such as Mars.

SpaceX has a history of big announcements that take a lot longer than expected to pan out. But they also have a history of making good on plans that everyone thinks are impossible, even if it takes longer than their rosy predictions. Who knows if this will be elaborate vapor-ware or not? I still get excited about these kinds of announcements, and i'm really looking forward to hearing about this system!

And if it is just vaporware, I hope it at least comes with snazzy "artist's impressions" and concept videos! Blue Origin recently released their artist's impression of their proposed New Glenn rocket, and little more than that, so I hope SpaceX can win the artist's impression race and do better than that crappy Blue Origin infographic!

Here is the article about the name change and the announcement announcing coming announcements!

http://www.space.com/34115-spacex-mars-colony-spaceship-elon-musk.html
 
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SaturnV

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I read it. I think the only problem of Musk is where he will find the money for such flights. If a manned flight has 10 unmanned that are ...incredibly much money. If he can cheat a bank to grant him 300 billion and then depart for Mars bank will not be able to return the money in any way :)
 
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Cabernut

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I believe it will be more than a dream. The return of the DeLorean was a vaporware dream with lots of artist renderings. This is real. A real entrepreneur with real money(some of it ours :)) and the will to make it happen. Musk is a dreamer yes, but also a doer.

I'm optimistic about the outcome of this. SpaceX doesn't make Musk a lot of money but it's what he's determined to do. I wouldn't mind if some of my taxes went to help fund up-and-coming space companies like Blue Origin, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX. ULA has enough though.

Now, the Mars One mission on the other hand... That, I'm very skeptical about. I honestly doubt that will ever see the light of day.
 

SpaceManMat

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Now, the Mars One mission on the other hand... That, I'm very skeptical about. I honestly doubt that will ever see the light of day.
Mars One could still happen, they just need to ask SpaceX for a lift...
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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I believe it will be more than a dream. The return of the DeLorean was a vaporware dream with lots of artist renderings. This is real. A real entrepreneur with real money(some of it ours :)) and the will to make it happen. Musk is a dreamer yes, but also a doer.

I'm optimistic about the outcome of this. SpaceX doesn't make Musk a lot of money but it's what he's determined to do. I wouldn't mind if some of my taxes went to help fund up-and-coming space companies like Blue Origin, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX. ULA has enough though.

Now, the Mars One mission on the other hand... That, I'm very skeptical about. I honestly doubt that will ever see the light of day.
I agree Musk is a doer and has made a success in three different industries where what he was trying to do was said by experts to be impossible.
 

Larry Curcio

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My enthusiasm for such projects is blunted by the rocket equation, which says that DeltaV goes up with only the logarithm of the amount of propellant one can stuff in a system. And yes, staged rockets help, but the advantage is small. Effective exhaust velocity is what gets you there, and little progress has been made on that front.
 

KidRockET

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Well first he'll have to...

Figure out how to get off...

Of the pad in one piece...
 

Cabernut

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My enthusiasm for such projects is blunted by the rocket equation, which says that DeltaV goes up with only the logarithm of the amount of propellant one can stuff in a system. And yes, staged rockets help, but the advantage is small. Effective exhaust velocity is what gets you there, and little progress has been made on that front.
Until you change propellants or design. I must disagree in part. The advantage of stages is massive. I'm sure before Sputnik they thought the amount of fuel needed to get to the Moon was unrealistic.

With regard to exhaust velocity alone, it's not exactly analogous to thrust. Take the Ion thruster for example. Exhaust velocity up to 50km/s but thrust is measured in millinewtons.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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My enthusiasm for such projects is blunted by the rocket equation, which says that DeltaV goes up with only the logarithm of the amount of propellant one can stuff in a system. And yes, staged rockets help, but the advantage is small. Effective exhaust velocity is what gets you there, and little progress has been made on that front.
We'll have to see what they announce next week. I bet it won't be a revolutionary new propulsion system, so it probably does rely on massive amounts of fuel. I would speculate that it will be a system that requires multiple launches for a single mission, and some of those will be for refueling in orbit.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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Well first he'll have to...

Figure out how to get off...

Of the pad in one piece...
It is ironic to be announcing these ambitious plans when the Falcon 9 is grounded right now, the crewed Dragon has not flown a crewed mission yet, and Falcon Heavy hasn't flown yet. Musk is an optimist!
 

Winston

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Well first he'll have to...

Figure out how to get off...

Of the pad in one piece...
Exactly what I was thinking. What a bizarre failure that appeared to originate outside the rocket on the erector.
 

SpaceManMat

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It is ironic to be announcing these ambitious plans when the Falcon 9 is grounded right now, the crewed Dragon has not flown a crewed mission yet, and Falcon Heavy hasn't flown yet. Musk is an optimist!
A combination of optimistism, thinking several steps ahead of everyone else and publicity.
 

Peartree

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I've been assuming that a "planetary transport system" is probably in some way related to Buzz Aldrin's plan for a "Mars Cycler."
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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As promised, Elon Musk made his presentation to the IAC today and outlined a system for flying as many as 100 people at a time to Mars. It's a pretty interesting talk. I watched the full presentation live on the SpaceX website, and now the videos are up on YouTube.

Here is a short animation of how the system would work for a trip to Mars.

[video=youtube;0qo78R_yYFA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA[/video]

And here is the full presentation to the IAC.

[video=youtube;azwNjXpycyM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azwNjXpycyM[/video]
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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According to what Musk said in the presentation, SpaceX is planning to send some form of mission to Mars in every window of opportunity from now on. Mars and Earth are close together every 26 months, and the next opportunity is in 2018. They are planning to send a Dragon capsule to Mars at that point to demonstrate the ability to land using a powered descent (no parachutes). Then they'll do another mission in 2020, 2024, 2026, etc.
 
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