SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip

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Rex R

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the latest space race, who be the 1st to send a 'crew' around the moon, NASA or SpaceX? my money is on Space X :).
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Rex R

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shall we speculate on the two passengers? my guess; Kate Upton & Bill Gates.
Rex
 

Mushtang

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the latest space race, who be the 1st to send a 'crew' around the moon, NASA or SpaceX? my money is on Space X :).
Rex
On a Reddit discussion someone claimed that Blue Origin would surprise everyone and end up being first. They were pretty much laughed out of the conversation.

I suppose it's possible that Jeff Bezos is the one that's paid to have SpaceX fly him around the moon. He's got enough money. Hahaha.
 

aerostadt

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I find it amazing that the WH asks NASA to look at this idea first and TRF'ers say that this is a bad idea. Then Elon Musk proposes the same idea and it is wonderful. Does anyone else see the irony here?
 

Peartree

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I find it amazing that the WH asks NASA to look at this idea first and TRF'ers say that this is a bad idea. Then Elon Musk proposes the same idea and it is wonderful. Does anyone else see the irony here?
Not really. It's important to read the *reasons* that people think that the President's idea is a bad one as well as the reasons that they think Elon Musk's idea is a good one. Let's compare the two quickly.

1) Spacecraft - on the one hand is the SLS which is often described as a rocket in search of a mission. It is a heavy lift vehicle that is currently planned to fly once every two or three years which makes it expensive, but at the same time, doesn't really have a clear mission. For the moment, the best idea forwarded is to go around the moon, but nothing substantial has been proposed after that.

-On the other hand is the Falcon Heavy which already has several heavy satellites scheduled (with deposits paid to SpaceX).

2) Proposal - The president's SLS proposal is to fly astronauts earlier than NASA had planned or recommended. In fact the proposal is to fly humans on a rocket that has never been tested, in a capsule that has never been tested, and to do so on a long duration flight that we haven't tried since the seventies. Musk's proposal is the fly around the moon on a Falcon Heavy after the Falcon Heavy has been flight tested, and after the SpaceX capsule has been flight tested, and probably after the capsule has already delivered astronauts to the Space Station.

So it isn't so much that the president's idea is the same as Elon Musk's because they both involve flying humans around the moon, the core of the argument is that the president's proposal suggests making several questionable and dangerous shortcuts that are unnecessary and may in fact be technically impossible given current spending levels and development timelines, while Musk's proposal is totally in line with current safety plans, spending levels, and development cycles.

That said, almost no one believes that the Falcon Heavy will pass all of those benchmarks in order to do that in 2018. What it does mean is that Elon Musk is deliberately tweaking Boeing's nose and challenging them to a race. And in the meantime, he literally just got hours of free publicity (again) from news media around the world.
 

Steve Shannon

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I find it amazing that the WH asks NASA to look at this idea first and TRF'ers say that this is a bad idea. Then Elon Musk proposes the same idea and it is wonderful. Does anyone else see the irony here?
Didn't the White House ask for astronauts to fly to the moon on the very first flight of the SLS with no unmanned test flights? I thought that was what people here criticized, the lack of unmanned testing, not the return to a lunar orbit.
It sounds like SpaceX will fly some unmanned test flights first, then send up humans.
 

EXPjawa

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If Musk actually pulls off this trip late in '18 and puts the flight past the moon at Christmas time, he could cheekily thumb his nose at Bezos and name the capsule "New Borman"...
 

aerostadt

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A lot of if's for Musk. His Falcon hasn't flown. The capsule has not withstood the 25,000 mph re-entry. The guidance for the re-entry corridor has got to be good. BTW we have a space lark for two fantastically rich astronauts out on a joy ride. Where is the scientific value in that!!
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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shall we speculate on the two passengers? my guess; Kate Upton & Bill Gates.
Rex
Kate looks great in microgravity, and Gates has the money to fund the trip. You might be on to something...
 

Mushtang

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Where is the scientific value in that!!
There doesn't need to be scientific value in a private company's space flight, only profit.

If we're spending tax money on NASA to do space flights there needs to be justification of for it. Flying around the moon just to say we did it again is worthless, or worth not much.

SpaceX is going to earn about 10% of their profits on flights like this.
 

aerostadt

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There doesn't need to be scientific value in a private company's space flight, only profit.

If we're spending tax money on NASA to do space flights there needs to be justification of for it. Flying around the moon just to say we did it again is worthless, or worth not much.

SpaceX is going to earn about 10% of their profits on flights like this.
Interesting! One kind of stunt is bad, but the same kind of stunt done by someone else is terrific.

This is all provided that the Falcon 9 will be ready on time. So far, the failure rate for the Falcon 9 is the worse for any manned vehicle. Go back and look at the last failure of the Falcon 9 on the pad. I sure would not want to pay for a performance that looks like that.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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A lot of if's for Musk. His Falcon hasn't flown. The capsule has not withstood the 25,000 mph re-entry. The guidance for the re-entry corridor has got to be good. BTW we have a space lark for two fantastically rich astronauts out on a joy ride. Where is the scientific value in that!!
I think there is still a lot to be tested out, and it's not likely to be done in 2018. But there must be a serious plan to actually do it if there are already "substantial deposits" paid for the trip.

This is a private, for-profit company, so there's no need justify the trip as being for scientific value. It can be for economic value --- profit for the company. And I'm sure that any trip of this kind yields a lot of value in terms of engineering, procedures, and other know-how for future missions.

I think it's a pretty exciting thing. So that's another thing of value to come out of it if it actually happens and if it succeeds. It's inspiring.
 

aerostadt

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Likewise, the SLS and Orion capsule are going to be used for manned space flight with the capability for deep space missions.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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A trip like this would be amazing. Any launch into space on an orbital or even suborbital flight would be thrilling for a passenger. But then to leave the earth and watch it slowly recede, while the moon grows bigger and bigger in front of you every day... Wow... The close approach around the moon, with all of the details of the lunar landscape passing by outside the window... And then the blistering hot reentry! Incredible!

On the other hand, there would be a lot of downtime in a very cramped capsule. These are not professional astronauts, the spacecraft is automated, and there may not be a lot to do to pass the time. Even if your co-passenger were to be Kate Upton, after a whole week, you might get tired of her pooping in a ziplock bag right next to you.
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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Likewise, the SLS and Orion capsule are going to be used for manned space flight with the capability for deep space missions.
Yep. You'll get no argument from me on that. I'm very excited to see what we can accomplish with SLS and Orion.
 

Rex R

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I would imagine that there will be experiments/ tasks for the 'space flight participants' to keep them occupied during the trip. also note that crew dragon is sized for 5 - 7 crew so it isn't that small.
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neil_w

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ThirstyBarbarian said:
Even if your co-passenger were to be Kate Upton, after a whole week, you might get tired of her pooping in a ziplock bag right next to you.
You just won the internet for today. 😂
 

Mushtang

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There doesn't need to be scientific value in a private company's space flight, only profit.

If we're spending tax money on NASA to do space flights there needs to be justification of for it. Flying around the moon just to say we did it again is worthless, or worth not much.

SpaceX is going to earn about 10% of their profits on flights like this.
Interesting! One kind of stunt is bad, but the same kind of stunt done by someone else is terrific.

This is all provided that the Falcon 9 will be ready on time. So far, the failure rate for the Falcon 9 is the worse for any manned vehicle. Go back and look at the last failure of the Falcon 9 on the pad. I sure would not want to pay for a performance that looks like that.
Not at all. One kind of "stunt" using taxpayer money is bad, but the same kind of profitable venture done by a private company is pretty cool.

I'm not interested in the government spending my money on something that brings no value to us. If there's good experience to be gained, which will be used on Mars missions or deep space flights, or whatever, then it's not just a stunt. If there's good material to be mined and brought back, or if there's good information to be learned, then I'm all for it. But to do it just to say we did it, not worth the tax money it would take.

A private company spending their own money to take some rich people on a joyride is none of my business. I'll enjoy watching it happen, and I'll wish the best for SpaceX in that they're successful and they make money, but how much money they make is up to them and if they lose money that's on their shoulders (and the stock holders).

It's the difference between watching NASCAR races and watching your son race his friends in a car you own. One is going to effect you much more than the other.
 

boatgeek

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Interesting! One kind of stunt is bad, but the same kind of stunt done by someone else is terrific.
I think the key here is "paid". If NASA could get people to pay to be on the Orion and fund a significant chunk of development, more power to them. Heck, I'd be OK with them auctioning off a seat on each manned test flight. Actually, something pretty similar happens in the Russian space program, where tourists can (or could, not sure if it's still rolling) pay for a seat on an ISS re-crew mission. But if NASA has program goals, I expect the flights to be in line with those goals.
 

georgegassaway

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Article about this on NSF:

"SpaceX to fly two private individuals on a Dragon 2 lunar mission"

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/02/spacex-two-citizens-dragon-2-lunar-mission/



I have to do some other stuff right now. I will mention that the heat shield is good for the higher speed of re-entry from a lunar flight.

Oh, also, no way this would happen in late 2018. Maybe 2019, probably more realistically 2020. SpaceX is not as good at predicting future schedules as they are at landing reuseable booster rockets (or at least, not their claimed public schedule announcements) . Falcon Heavy has been scheduled to fly "in six months" for nearly 4 years now. Although I do think FH will finally fly in the next six months X 2 (6 X 2 = In the next 12 months).
 
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georgegassaway

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Interesting! One kind of stunt is bad, but the same kind of stunt done by someone else is terrific.
You are comparing Apples and Orange hair.

One was NASA having a carefully laid out plan and schedule for testing SLS-Orion without a crew on the first flight, with a POLITICIAN who did not ASK NASA ABOUT THIS beforehand, telling NASA screw that, fly it with a crew TO THE MOON. Causing a greater risk for mission failure and loss of crew by politically pressuring NASA to speed up the process. "Go Fever!"

And oh by the way NO EXTRA MONEY to expedite it more safely, and NO nominee for new administrator for NASA either, their true interest in the U.S. space program is JUST that much (that little). NASA plans to do the first crewed SLS-Orion mission on the second SLS launch. Which would be lunar. That was BEFORE a politician started ordering NASA around to do something they had calmly and carefully decided NOT to do.

Anyone remember how it was speculated that the reason why NASA did NOT delay the STS-51-L fatal Challenger mission, despite the cold weather, was because the State of the Union Speech was that night (delayed due to the accident) and supposedly Ronald Reagan's speech would point to the historic nature of that mission with the first Teacher in Space onboard? Well, I have never believed that the White House actually pressured NASA. But NASA *may* have felt pressure (of their own) to launch for that reason, even though not asked. I'm not blaming, just impossible to ignore.

What can NOT be ignored is that at least Christa McAuliffe would not have died on that flight if not for politics. Specifically Senators Jake Garn, and Bill Nelson. BOTH of them WEASELED their way onto shuttle flights, Garn in Aprii l985, and Nelson January, 1986 on the mission before Challenger. Had they NOT done that, McAuliffe would have flown sooner than 51-L, and lived. Although I'm sure a 7th crew member would have been aboard Challenger in any case, but at least not as many schoolchildren would have seen that accident live on TV as many schools did because of the first Teacher in Space.

But I use the above as examples of why POLITICIANS should NOT SCREW WITH with NASA's plans. Of course, NASA has to get congressional approval to carry out various missions, and the funding to do so. But once approved, there should not be any MEDDLING or PRESSURE from politicians that could affect safety (in a bad way at least). Yet it was political clout, holding the purse strings, that explains why NASA felt pressure into having to let Garn and Nelson fly as the first citizens in space (even if technically it was called something else as a whitewash), to get "first hand experience" for the committees thy were on. No, those were the ultimate political junket/joyrides and their used their political power to get seats they did not deserve.

Now, onto the other hand..... "commercial spaceflight". From this wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight#History_of_commercial_space_transportation

Development of alternatives to government-provided space launch services began in earnest in the 2000s. Private interests began funding limited development programs, but the US government later sponsored a series of programs to incentivize and encourage private companies to begin offering both cargo, and later, crew space transportation services.
So, that's what SpaceX is. A company that builds launch vehicles and spacecraft. Offering launch services to not only the US Government (like the ISS resupply missions to ISS, and Dragon-2 coming up for Commercial Crew), but also to launch satellites and spacecraft for commercial customers.

And in this case.... they are offering commercial launch services not just for a payload, but for people who can pay to fly. Now, if SpaceX was planing to fly those people FIRST, before they flew NASA crews to ISS, that would be bad. But they plan to do that after a few NASA crew missions to ISS. Long as it does not interfere with or delay the Dragon-2 crewed missions to ISS, it should not matter who else they may also launch. Now if SpaceX got delayed preparing all the NASA Dragon-2 Spacecraft due to squeezing in the one for this mission, then that would be a problem. Current plans are for one commercial crew mission a year to ISS, and three CRS supply missions. So if they can crank out a 5th Dragon (two Dragon-2's) each year, that'd be OK. One of these days they will re-use a refurbished previously flown Dragon Spacecraft, more likely for a CRS mission than a crewed mission (BTW - Dragon 2 is the crewed version, so no way would any CRS Dragon-1 be used for this lunar flight).

Exploration aspects...... it's a commercial flight. If I buy a ticket to fly on a plane that flies over the north pole, I'm not really exploring the North Pole, though I'd really enjoy seeing it below if it was a clear day. But as long as I paid for it, and used a commercial service for it, without affecting any customers waiting ahead of me, whats the problem. What WOULD be a problem would be for NASA to accept money to send specific individuals into Space. Which is why the millionaires who have gone to ISS flew with the Russians and stayed on the "Russian side" of ISS.

Now, I will say if I went on a long mission around the moon and back, I would personally try to come up with some ideas of some experiments to try along the way. Or ask for help in coming up with ideas (Reddit would explode). Hey, if I had the $ to go, I could just as easily pay another million or two to have some lightweight safe-enough experiment package carried in the "trunk" under the spacecraft, maybe some little satellite to slowly eject out back (spring-loaded) on the way to the moon, or whatever. Or if not that, something inside the cabin, if it would be safe enough. So, I would not be surprised if those two people did something beyond being just a tourist, but I won't expect it either.

Now having said all of the above, I'm not 100% on this thing. It seems a bit screwy. And whoever goes, they are going to be running a significant risk. Of course all spaceflight is a risk one way or another. And most importantly it's THEIR choice. They wont have some politician with no skin in the game (not HIS rear end onboard!) affecting the plans for their launch or meddling in the safety preparations or moving up the schedule for THEIR flight.

This is all provided that the Falcon 9 will be ready on time.
As I said earlier, no way it'll happen in 2018. SpaceX is going to have a hard time getting the first Commercial Crew flight done before the end of 2018, never mind the 2nd one. There is a "joke" about "Elon time", but I tired of that excuse, oh, about 6 months ago, and 6 months before that, and 6 months before that, and 6 months before that.......

So, the SpaceX schedules that do matter more are the ones they they are contractually obligated to meet, which unfortunately they have not met for several timelines for Commercial Crew. But the same is true of Boeing and their "Starliner" slipping too. A big difference there being that SpaceX has launched and successfully recovered 9 Dragon-1 spacecraft launched into orbit, plus a ground abort test. Boeing has not launched any version of a Starliner.

So far, the failure rate for the Falcon 9 is the worse for any manned vehicle.
Mercury-Atlas: Two failures out of nine flights (22%). Fortunately nobody onboard during those two failures (MA-1 and MA-3).

Apollo: Sixteen with crews onboard, one killed three crew members (Apollo-1) the other came CLOSE to killing its crew(Apollo-13). That’s 6.25% fatal, combined 12.5% near-fatal or fatal and with loss of mission.

Falcon-9: IIRC 30 flights (31 vehicles). One inflight failure (3.3% flight failures), one on-ground failure (31 vehicles), combined total of 6.6% lost vehicles/payloads. No crews on board.

My math tells me Mercury-Atlas was the worst (22%), Apollo crewed spacecraft second worst (6.25% fatal, 12.5% near fatal & mission failure).

Of course, no Saturns failed, but see how shortsighted it is to pay attention only to the launch and not the spacecraft safety as well.

There were two fatal shuttle accidents but those were 135 flights, two fatal missions, so 1.5% (four times SAFER than Apollo!).

What will the Falcon-9 rate be when it has its 100th flight? Dunno. What will SLS' rate be at 100 flights? I know exactly, it will never make 100 flights. If it was launched at a "fast pace" of once every 2 years (it could be one every 3 years), it would only make 15 flights in thirty years, and would no doubt be replaced by something far more practical by then. I mean, there has been a realistic chance all along that it could be cancelled as it is a massive boondoggle, and still could be.

My bigger concern with a first flight of Orion taking a crew around the moon would be something critical happening along the way, crippling the spacecraft so there were only hours to do something, and it's a six day-trip (No lunar module lifeboat as with Apollo-13). Which is one big reason why it would be very dangerous and stupid to do a first flight of Orion to the MOON, and not LEO where it could be safely back on the planet in an HOUR if necessary (And I am also leaving out the BAD IDEA of flying a crew onboard the first launch of SLS in the first place). Which is why NASA did NOT plan to do such a foolhardy thing for flight #1.


BTW - Soyuz-1 which crashed and killed cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, was a certain example of politics over safety. Komarov himself expected to die on that flight.

Prior to launch, Soyuz 1 engineers are said to have reported 203 design faults to party leaders, but their concerns "were overruled by political pressures for a series of space feats to mark the anniversary of Lenin's birthday."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_1

Also see: "GO FEVER" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_fever

In the US space industry, "go fever" is an informal term used to refer to the overall attitude of being in a rush or hurry to get a project or task done while overlooking potential problems or mistakes. "Go fever" results from both individual and collective aspects of human behavior. It is due to the tendency as individuals to be overly committed to a previously chosen course of action based on time and resources already expended (sunk costs) despite reduced or insufficient future benefits, or even considerable risks.
 
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Rex R

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when I was growing up the SF authors (from what I recall) all expected that space exploration would be done by private companies looking for profit, much like SpaceX. wasn't till the 70's or so that folks started looking at gov. for space exploration.
Rex
 

ThirstyBarbarian

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Maybe to pass the time on this long journey, SpaceX could offer an in-flight movie. Maybe avoid Apollo 13.
 

Cabernut

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Failure of Challenger was not due to politics external to NASA, but due to INTERNAL politics at NASA that prevented peon engineers from being listened to at a critical time.

Responsibility of NASA flights ultimately lies with NASA. They have the authority to launch who they want, when they want. Point fingers all you want at politicians but who ultimately gives the "go/no go"?
 

Mushtang

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Failure of Challenger was not due to politics external to NASA, but due to INTERNAL politics at NASA that prevented peon engineers from being listened to at a critical time.

Responsibility of NASA flights ultimately lies with NASA. They have the authority to launch who they want, when they want. Point fingers all you want at politicians but who ultimately gives the "go/no go"?
Exactly, except when NASA decides to GO and should have aborted the flight, and something bad happens, people see it as a failure of the country. It wasn't a NASA failure it was the United States that lost a rocket.

When something goes wrong with a SpaceX launch people will just think that one company screwed the pooch.
 

Bkdoubleu

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shall we speculate on the two passengers? my guess; Kate Upton & Bill Gates.
Rex
I hope I am one......you can visit Blue Origin website and sign up for seats when they come due (to at least leave atmosphere). I signed up for four tickets. Not sure I would ride Space X booster but Blue Origin looks safe as safe can be. Under comments on the application I wrote, "are you sure you can launch invertebrate animals" I don't get to.
 

BuiltFromTrash

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So far, the failure rate for the Falcon 9 is the worse for any manned vehicle. Go back and look at the last failure of the Falcon 9 on the pad. I sure would not want to pay for a performance that looks like that.
Not sure where you get your information. Maybe you should do some research before you post.
These are the stat for 2016: https://www.spacelaunchreport.com/log2016.html#rate
Note that some vehicles may not have comparable sample size and as such, comparing them may skew findings.
If someone has better a better source, please post it.
 
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