‘Alien Spaceship’ looking Dragon set for Unveiling by SpaceX this Year!

by Ken Kremer on March 29, 2013

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Future Dragon spacecraft will one day touch down propulsively on the ground with ‘Alien looking’ landing legs instead of an ocean splashdown.  Credit: SpaceX

‘Alien looking’ futuristic Dragon spacecraft will one day touch down propulsively on the ground with landing legs instead of an ocean splashdown. This artists concept illustrates potential US landing on Mars surface. Credit: SpaceX

Later this year SpaceX will unveil the design of a new and upgraded version of the firm’s Dragon spacecraft that will look like “an Alien spaceship,” said Elon Musk, the CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX, at a NASA media teleconference on Thursday, March 28.

Musk announced the SpaceX plans at the briefing to mark the successful conclusion of the latest unmanned Dragon cargo carrying flight, known as CRS-2, to the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this week with a Pacific Ocean splashdown on Tuesday, March 26.

Dubbed ‘Dragon 2’, the futuristic capsule will eventually boast the ability to propulsively land on Earth’s surfaceperhaps back at the Kennedy Space Center – instead of splashing down in the Pacific Ocean beneath a trio of parachutes.

At the moment, imagery of ‘Dragon 2’ is SpaceX Top Secret ! I asked.

How is the ‘Dragon 2’ different from the current ‘cargo Dragon’?

“It’s going to be cool,” gushes Musk.

“There are side-mounted thruster pods and quite big windows for astronauts to see out,” SpaceX founder Musk explained. “There are also landing legs that pop out at the bottom. So It looks like a real alien spaceship.”

One day, Musk hopes that an advanced Dragon will ferry humans on an interplanetary journey to the alien surface of Mars. Perhaps the lucky astronauts will even visit our Curiosity.

SpaceX Grasshopper test flight successfully demonstrates touchdown on land as a prelude to future demonstration missions to recover Falcon 9 1st stages.  Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX Grasshopper test flight successfully demonstrates touchdown on land as a prelude to future demonstration missions to recover Falcon 9 1st stages. Credit: SpaceX

Dragon 2 will also enable a transition to maximize use of the capsule by significantly increasing the quantity of cargo hauled up to the ISS, Musk stated.

The SpaceX Dragon CRS-2 capsule blasted off on March 1 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It docked at the orbiting lab complex on March 3 and remained attached for 3 weeks until departing and returning to Earth on March 26.

Launching more mass to orbit will be a boon for the science research capability of the ISS, said NASA’s ISS Program scientist Julie Robinson. “We have over 200 investigations active.”

“The SpaceX flights are so important to our use of the International Space Station,” said Robinson.

Falcon 9 rocket is the launcher for both the cargo and human-rated Dragon spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX

Falcon 9 rocket is the launcher for both the cargo and human-rated Dragon spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX

With three successful Dragon docking flights to the ISS now under his belt, Musk said his goal now is to ‘push the envelope’.

Whereas initially SpaceX’s goal was to minimize risk in order to fulfil SpaceX’s $1.6 Billion commercial contract with NASA to fly 20,000 kg of sorely needed science experiments, equipment, gear, food and supplies to the ISS with a dozen Dragon cargo capsules.

SpaceX, along with Orbital Sciences Corp, are both partnered with NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services program to replace the cargo up mass capability the US lost following the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle orbiters in 2011.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the telecom that the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket is on schedule for a test flight from NASA Wallops in Virginia slated for mid-April.

Antares will launch the unmanned Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS. Read my launch site update and visit to Antares – here.

Simultaneously, SpaceX will also debut a more powerful version of the Dragon’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle later this year that eventually will be both recoverable and reusable – long the Holy Grail in space exploration.

The new Falcon 9 version 1.1 “will be a meaningful upgrade” said Musk. “It will have 60-70% greater thrust capability, greater redundancy and more engine to engine protection. It will be more robust.”

Falcon 9 v 1.1 will incorporate the significantly more powerful Merlin 1-D first stage engines that will increase the liftoff thrust to about 1.5 million pounds – and serve as the launch vehicle for ‘Dragon 2’.

Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS – shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com

Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS – shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. The Dragon capsule splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean on March 26, 2013. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com

SpaceX will also start testing the capability to recover the spent Falcon 9 first stage from the Atlantic Ocean. Thereafter SpaceX will eventually try and have the first stage fly itself back to the Cape Canaveral, Florida launch complex using the so called “Grasshopper’ version of the Falcon 9.

But Musk strongly advised that will take several test flights to demonstrate such recovery technologies.

“I really want to emphasize that we don’t expect success on the first several attempts,” Musk emphasized. “Hopefully next year, with a lot more experience and data, we should be able to return the first stage to the launch site, deploy the landing legs and do a propulsive landing on land back at the launch site.”

The overarching goal is to dramatically cut costs and increase efficiency to make space more accessible, especially in these ultra lean budget times.

SpaceX is also developing a manned version of the Dragon capsule and aims for the first crewed test flight perhaps in 2015 depending on NASA’s budget.

If all of Musk’s dreams work out, they could spark a revolutionary change in spaceflight and the exploration and exploitation of the High Frontier.

Ken Kremer

…………….

Learn more about SpaceX, Antares, Curiosity and NASA missions at Ken’s upcoming lecture presentations:

April 20/21 : “Curiosity and the Search for Life on Mars – (in 3-D)”. Plus Orion, SpaceX, Antares, the Space Shuttle and more! NEAF Astronomy Forum, Suffern, NY

April 28: “Curiosity and the Search for Life on Mars – (in 3-D)”. Plus the Space Shuttle, SpaceX, Antares, Orion and more. Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville, NJ, 130 PM

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com

Aqua4U March 30, 2013 at 12:24 AM

Way cool! Go Space-X! Victory goes to those who are bold!

Me March 30, 2013 at 1:03 AM

Hey Aqua4U..I almost copied your post in its context. At least we are on the same wave length here. Wish we had warp-drive. What a ‘blast’! We’d have one fun ride out there going places discovering the unknown.Take care..

Me March 30, 2013 at 12:53 AM

Too kool SpaceX! Go boldly where no one dares to go! Some how Star-Trek fits in here perfectly. The best space TV science show ever. Star Wars? No way. That word “WAR”…must be eliminated & the violence that goes w/it. The same w/Battle-Star- Galactica. Violence galore. SpaceX,..God Speed to you all ;-).

delphinus100 April 1, 2013 at 2:51 AM

“The best space TV science show ever.”

Star Trek was not that, it was science fiction. (though certainly the best at that on TV at the time);

” Star Wars? No way. That word “WAR”…must be eliminated & the
violence that goes w/it. The same w/Battle-Star- Galactica. Violence
galore.”

But SF, like all other fiction, relies on some sort of conflict. On one or more persons with *some* sort of problem(s) they’re trying to deal with. As writer Nancy Kress once put it, we want drama in our fiction, but not in our real lives. Stories with an element of ‘war’ (or the threat thereof…even the Trek universe involved outright warfare at times) gives you plenty of opportunities to that end. To admit that simple truism of fiction is not to ‘promote’ war or lesser-scale conflict. Indeed, it can help show exactly *why*, as Kirk once put it, it’s a thing to be avoided, much more effectively than pretending that it doesn’t exist…

Me April 1, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Yes, I did skim the full meaning(s). Guilty as charged. Look, I hate typing. My ab’rv’s show that ;-)..lol. You know., I guess people like yourself need exactness in words. But its all good though.

Conflict? Star-Trek had that. But the concept were way over the heads of S. Wars & B.Star Gal., …combind, ..period. Your going to make me explain that huh. Ok, Ok, ok! Remember though, we all have an opinion between facts & meanings & see things in our own light(s). There are many other facts & meanings Star-Trek portrayed over the other 2 tv-series/movies.

Star Trek used every day human positive & negative outlooks/ways. It is the very 1st Star-Trek series in the 1960′s I am going w/this. To me the very best out of “ALL” the rest in “ANY” decade. For instance, they had people on this 1 particular planet w/their right side of their bodies w/pure white & on their left side pure black. They then portrayed people w/the exact opposite w/black on their right side & white on the left. The 2 colors were reversed. Star Trek,(Gene Roddenberry)was showing us all the obvious of racial tensions. The whole 1960′s series had many more real life ways he portrayed to their max. BTW, I agree w/most of what you said. But I still win!…lol U take care & B kool Delph ;-)
PS: Always remember, humor is so key. It eases the tenseness out of our daily serious daily work. PEACE!

Jeffrey Scott Boerst March 30, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Sexy!

TerryG March 30, 2013 at 3:51 AM

Thanks for attending the teleconference and for your questions Dr Kremer, it was highly informative especially the discussion of the Dragon check valve anomaly.

Elon’s comment are summarized:

There was a very tiny change to three of the check valves on the oxidizer tank. They were different from ones that flew previously, and they got stuck. We were able to write some new software in real time and upload that to Dragon to increase pressure upstream from check valve and release it. We had difficulty communicating with the spacecraft, as Dragon was starting to drift, but we worked with the Air Force to get higher powered dishes to communicate with Dragon and upload the software. This is spacecraft version of the Heimlich maneuver. Once the valves got unstuck, they worked very well.

The valves had a tiny design revision change from the supplier. You need a magnifying glass to see the difference. The supplier made some mistakes and we didn’t catch. We ran the system through low pressurization tests, and it didn’t get stuck, but didn’t run them through the high pressurization functionality tests. We’ll make sure we don’t repeat that error in the future.

We need to revert the valve to what it used to be. We’ll do some checks to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

It’s great to work with NASA. NASA was so cool, I was far more anxious than NASA was. We have one cool customer.

End of summary.

The customer would have been confident the anomaly was understood and resolved before permitting Dragon to approach ISS, but still, there’s a lot to be said for conducting pressurization tests over the full range of operational pressures.

Ken Kremer March 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM

you’re welcome. this is topic of my upcoming story

Olaf2 April 1, 2013 at 7:46 PM

“The valves had a tiny design revision change from the supplier. You need a magnifying glass to see the difference.”

You need a magnifying glass to see the difference!

Are they telling us that something that has the width of a hair in a “critical” system can completely make the mission a loss? And this is not a design flaw?

What if during the launch phase a bird smashes into that rocket, and those components gets a beating with the same micro change? Is that called redundancy?

For me redundancy means that 1 out of 4 pods fail not 3 out of 4. Even with a faulty component, it should be still designed in such a way that this very critical systems operated. Maybe not 100% but it should be available during the critical time.

Of course as a private company, they do not have to tell the real truth, just make up some stuff via PR and their followers will just eat it without questioning because that is what keeps the money flowing: Media exposure, always good for business.

krenshala April 1, 2013 at 8:13 PM

How can it be a design flaw when the problem is the installed valves *did not meet the design specifications*! If the valves met the specs and did this, I would agree with you, but since they didn’t I really don’t see how you can justify your comment.

Olaf2 April 1, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Is that you you would design a critical system? Garbage in = garbage out?
The problem is that this design fault is the size of a human hair. That is no excuse that the complete system completely fails. The solution could be as simple to have a hammer hammering on that valve just prior to make it operate. Or heat it at that very spot.

TerryG April 2, 2013 at 1:48 PM

If it helps, try thinking of the Hubble Space Telescope before COSTAR was fitted. The design was very good, the testing of parts before flight…..not so much.

Olaf2 April 2, 2013 at 4:49 PM

I have been thinking about the Hubble.

I really doubt that you can test this. If it is a critical component sooo sensitive that an unseen-able small change can make it faulty then it is not going to show up in test results predictably.

However the good thing is that it is going to improve the design. But it will come with a additional cost. Additional testing means more people more equipment and special handling like a bigger safe space. Plus the additional paperwork to report these tests.

justatinker March 30, 2013 at 3:55 AM

Folks:

If you like what you see coming out of SpaceX, find out how your state and federal Representatives feel about the space program in general and SpaceX specifically. Give them a piece of your mind accordingly. You’d be surprised at how responsive they are on an issue with just a few people chiming in (and I know we can do better than that :)).

tinker

Warren White March 30, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Throughout it’s life, Nasa’s priority is to distribute pork to the proper Congressional districts and corporations to secure and grow it’s funding…

* Caltech’s JPL is about space science, technology, exploration

* SpaceX is about private enterprise efficiency, innovation, spirit towards providing affordable space access to America and space exploration’

* Big govt Federal Agency Nasa is about propagating/expanding itself, sustaining it’s dead wood center/HQ overhead via distributing earmarked pork

You can be an advocate of rational/efficient/effective space science/technology/exploration… or you can be an advocate of big govt Nasa.. but not both.

Michael Fernandez March 31, 2013 at 9:58 PM

This guy must really hate pork.

Rob V Mackelenbergh March 30, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Nice Ken !!

hold12 March 30, 2013 at 11:39 AM

SpaceX never disappointed me. They carried out everything they planned.

Warren White March 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Can you say that of Nasa?
* In the 40 years and $500 billion Nasa spent on US manned space since Apollo, not a single American has gotten beyond low earth orbit, and Nasa leaves itself incompetent/incapable of crewing or even resupplying our own space station….

* Nasa promised gullible taxpayers/Congress a $7 million/launch ‘cheap, safe, reliable access to space’ shuttle… then delivered a $1.6 billion/launch boondoggle which killed 2 crew and had chronic and multi-year service outages… the most unaffordable/unsustainable, dangerous, unreliable space vehicle in history..

* While Nasa blew $15 billion on it’s miserably failed/cancelled Constellation
project, SpaceX produced vastly superior boosters/capsules for only $300
million…

* The new SpaceX Falcon Heavy lifts TWICE the shuttle payload for less than
1/10th the shuttle per-launch cost.

* The entire 12 flight SpaceX contract is for less than a single $1.6 billion
shuttle flight.

Yet even now, instead of leveraging the proven, available, vastly superior/efficient SpaceX boosters and capsules, Nasa is wasting 60+ billion more taxpayer dollars on the unneeded, unsustainable, unaffordable SLS/Orion earmarked pork boondoggle…wasting a decade more for what will probably never fly, and will cost $billions/launch if it ever does..

We should make massive cuts, downsize Nasa, and instead directly fund Caltech’s JPL for probes, and SpaceX for boosters and manned space..With a private industry based US space program, taxpayers would get 10 times as much done for 1/10 the cost of top heavy, red-tape Federal agency Nasa.

The US space program is too important to be further entrusted to our wasteful, bloated, pork driven Federal Govt. Taxpayers, space advocates, should put their $s where it does the most good.

Josh Trutt March 30, 2013 at 4:55 PM

The problem is that NASA isn’t a person. It is an organization whose “CEO” and “investors” change every few years, bringing with them different priorities. That said, Elon has made it pretty clear that Spacex would have gotten nowhere without NASA. Their experience, their assets, their funding and their government connections have proved invaluable it seems. Even this past trip: if Spacex had been launching a commercial satellite, do you think they would have been able to “borrow” USAF satellites to communicate with Dragon when it started to drift? Over the next few years if Spacex has continued success, perhaps NASA will reorganize to better complement what Spacex offers. My hope is that they will cooperate on a Mars mission. I dont necessarily want NASA to be smaller, I just would like to see their money better-spent.

Aaron Agassi April 1, 2013 at 7:06 AM

In general, broad based partnerships between public and private enterprise, indeed both for profit and NGO’s, are well demonstrated to be the most effective and productive, for the economy as well.

hold12 March 30, 2013 at 6:53 PM

NASA was a political playground for decades and their projects was dictated by politicians. I would not blame them for this.

Warren White March 31, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Come on… Check the Nasa budget by year, with attention to the column ’2007 constant dollars’…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA

“Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what
conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan

I cannot understand those so brainwashed that after 40+ years of massive Nasa waste, futility, incompetence, pork, they still want to ‘double down’ on more decades and $100s of billions on big, bloated, pork driven Federal Agency Nasa.

Torbjörn Larsson March 30, 2013 at 7:24 PM

As others note, you can’t compare NASA and its products with a company and its products.

For a counter-example in your religious looking Gish gallop of irrelevancies and simplifications, ISS is a highly successful collaboration project and lab facility. And no “objective” scientists decries it to my knowledge – which is presumably why you never give references – there is a lot of NASA statistics on its many projects.

Should US et cetera space politics be handled differently? Sure, even here in Sweden we have made a mess of it, an even larger mess (no industrialization). But putting up these “if only” lists is meaningless. You can do that in any political or industry area.

The problem is that the history of NASA, and space in general, is so complex, with politics, military, industry and science involved. Add the recent businesses of tourism and what not, and you get a many faceted jewel of an area. It is unlikely that there is one simple way to manage it all.

Commercial space is one promising way that the dead hand of governments will be pushed away.

Warren White March 31, 2013 at 6:00 PM

- there is a lot of NASA statistics on (ISS’s) many projects.

==== ==

Torbjorn… you trust the Nasa PR BS spin for being objective?

The Shuttle’s purpose was to service the ISS…and ISS’s purpose was to give the shuttle something to do..both Nasa jobs programs..

Why were all the previous space stations were junked, de-orbited.. Almaz, Salyuz, Skylab, Mir, etc… and why NASA wanted to de-orbit
ISS as soon as it was completed..

The ISS has cost over $200 billion… enough to educate over 1 million PHDs.. what could we have discovered, gained from a million PHDs? Cure for cancer? Green energy?

Quality Space science is dependant on extremely pure, clean, vibration less, gravity less environments… exactly what you DON’T HAVE when smelly, moving, clumsy humans are around..

The burden is not on me to justify the ISS.. it is on you to list the SPECIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS made with it that justified the $200 billion+ cost, and which COUNDN’T HAVE BEEN DONE FOR 1/100th the cost by unmanned vehicles and without risking human lives.

gopher652003 April 1, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Errr… those stations were deorbited because they’d served their useful lifetime. Skylab, for instance, was a temporary station from the beginning, lacking the ability to remain in orbit for a long time. As for Mir, well, among other age related maladies that the station had, metal eventually fatigues when exposed to high energy cosmic rays. Would you want to be an astronaut in a slowly disintegrating tin can? No? Me neither.

The ISS on the other hand wasn’t funded by congress significantly past the revised completion date. Several other large projects weren’t funded properly either (such as JIMO, which was cancelled). Oops. The Augustine commission recommended several courses of action to deal with NASA’s budget shortfall. Among them was deorbiting the ISS. The cancellation of Constellation was the option that was eventually adopted to temporarily “fix” NASA’s budget woes.

You really need to read a little bit more about these subjects before commenting on them. It’s like you have 10% of the knowledge required to converse well on this subject, but you’re assuming you know everything there is to know. Spend a few months reading heavily, and then come back and talk to us again.

Once you know more about this subject, you’ll be embarrassed going back and reading the comments you’ve posted on this page.

zkank March 31, 2013 at 5:11 AM

Warren White wrote in his first bullet: “…and Nasa leaves itself incompetent/incapable of crewing or even resupplying our own space station….”

I enjoyed your post, but you’re not implying that NASA/USA owns the ISS, are you?

Warren White March 31, 2013 at 5:36 PM

zkank
you’re not implying that NASA/USA owns the ISS, are you?

==== ==
When I took my MBA courses, there were 2 tracks.. private/business and public..
Private took classes in accounting, inventory, management, etc… things related to generating VALUE, efficiency, results.
Public MBA took clases in public relations…
the lesson? Public enterprises are all about protecting/expanding their resource inputs…results matter ZERO to Govt/Nasa… only spin and perceptions.. and providing pork…

When it suited PR, the space station was project ‘Freedom’.. a US only project… when ‘Freedom’ lost support, cynical Nasa mananagement spun it to the ‘International Space Station’.. with a mantra of ‘we can’t let our international partners down’…

Nasa is all about protecting/propagating/expanding itself.

newSteveZodiac March 31, 2013 at 10:19 AM

You could write a much longer list of all the amazing achievements of the 60s. The difference then was the driver,fear. As far as the US government was concerned communist ICBMs threatened the very existence of the US and orbital dominance was a “whatever it costs” priority, that later extended to d**k waving and the moon. When the cold war fizzled out, the space race lost that huge military driver and NASA became as “complex” as you’d expect such a large government organisation to be.

Unless N Korea or Iran suddenly develop orbital platform capability I can’t see NASA regaining that driver so it will remain bureaucratic, however, it does have a truly vast repository of science and engineering knowledge and experience which it can share (or sell) for the benefit of all the private companies, something they would never do themselves.

Warren White March 31, 2013 at 5:42 PM

newSteveZodiac

You could write a much longer list of all the amazing achievements of the 60s. The difference then was the driver,fear.

==== ==

Disagree… Federal Agency Nasa was formed in late 1958 from small components taken from military (Redstone), small depts (NACA), academia (JPL)…

It just took a few years for Big Govt sloth, incompetence bureaucracy cynical pork/waste to take hold… geniouses like Von Braun had a chance to flourish before Fed Agency BS took over… Von Braun would never have been hired at Nasa… could never have become productive.

Remember that after it got the Saturn V, Nasa HQ took Redstone away from Von Braun, stuffed him in a windowless office at Nasa HQ until he quit.

Govt always weeds out the innovative, productive, crushes spirit.. only losers/drones/lazy chumps work for Govt.

Mike Egan March 31, 2013 at 1:24 PM

The only people to blame for NASA difficulties are the populist politicans who have no view beyond back yard politics and the next election

Warren White March 31, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Come on… Check the Nasa budget by year, with attention to the column ’2007 constant dollars’…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA

The bloated, wasteful, pork driven Federal Agency we call Nasa has stayed between 12 and 20 billion dollars EVERY ONE of the 50 YEARs since Apollo..

Elon Musk could have us affordable space, lunar colonies, Americans on mars with even $10 billion…

It is crazy to not blame a Federal Agency for it’s cost/performance results…

Our Federal Govt is bankrupting us, and yet some still have some deep, unquestioning emotional attachments to Federal Agencies like Nasa who don’t give a damn about taxpayers or results… just pumping more pork to propagate/expand their little empires.

“Somehow liberals have been unable to acquire from life what
conservatives seem to be endowed with at birth: namely, a healthy skepticism of the powers of government agencies to do good.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan

gopher652003 April 1, 2013 at 1:41 PM

You do realize that the entire US space program runs on less than half of NASA’s budget, right? The rest of the “waste” of NASA is maintaining various bits and pieces of infrastructure… like the DSN that SpaceX and other companies use to communicate with their spacecraft. (NASA also spends a moderate amount of money on aeronautics research unrelated to their space activities.)

Saying that SpaceX would do fine without NASA is like saying that the US ground service of UPS would do fine without government built interstate highways. UPS could never afford to build the highways vital to their business (they suck off the teet of the government in that regard), and SpaceX could never afford to build the infrastructure necessary to launch their rockets.

I love SpaceX and I think NASA is inefficient, but you need to take a
step back from your hatred and bias and take a look at the world as it
truly is, not as you dream it to be… either in your daydreams or your
nightmares.

Glen Benjamin March 31, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Let me point out some facts. First off Skylab came down due to heating of atmosphere before shuttle was ready. Second constellation ares one was great until cancelled. In fact it was the choice to be built by columbia commission.
Third, NASA has produced so many spinoffs that generates seven dollars or every dollar spent. Number two behind entertainment industry. In fact each year a book comes out with spinoffs. Fourth ISS produces great science. Too bad it is beyond your comprehension.

Obama wasted 700 billion. A small percentage Could have been used to return to the moon and on to mars.

Warren White April 1, 2013 at 1:07 AM

NASA didn’t develop tang, Velcro, transistors, Teflon, GPS, computers, microchips, cell phones, carbon
fiber…..or much of anything else

Giving NASA credit for the
technology it uses/touts is like giving a rooster credit for sunrise.

http://www.fas.org/spp/eprint/jp_950525.htm

Federation of American Scientists: NASA
Technological Spinoff Fables.

” A closer examination of the spinoff record
would provide little comfort for space advocates. … So rather than being an
unusually good investment paying 7:1 or 22:1 for each dollar invested, NASA has
an astoundingly bad 1:10 payoff — about a factor of 100 worse than the
commercial economy as a whole.

Rick Holcomb March 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Am I the only one who thinks the angle of the D2′s landing rockets is pretty extreme? I’m sure they know what they’re doing but the rocket exhaust seems to be more sideways than down. That has to affect effiency.

Torbjörn Larsson March 30, 2013 at 7:12 PM

I think that loss is why the new design has ” side-mounted thruster pods”, making it more like the CS100 proposal.

Aqua4U March 30, 2013 at 9:15 PM

I wondered after that too Rick, but don’t know enough about the centralized shock wave compression effects (reflected supersonic rocket exhaust) to be sure about the lift efficiency. That said, it does appear more stable and possibly a lighter and simpler mechanism than gimbal controlled rocket engines?

Rick Holcomb March 31, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Hmm… I assume gimbal controlled descent engines are a non-starter. I just wonder if thrust controlled engines might still be stable if pointed in a more down direction, Of course, this an ‘artists rendition’ so who knows if this in any way an accurate portrayal.

Aqua4U March 31, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I was thinking in terms of the multiple shock waves wrapping around and under the vehicle and suspending it aloft similar to a common ‘home show’ demonstration where a ping pong ball is levitated and held in place with a blast of air from below. In this case that ‘blast of air’ created by the multiple inverted jets and confluence of shock waves below the vehicle.

Olaf2 April 1, 2013 at 7:53 PM

I really doubt that, because Mars only has 1% of Earth’s atmosphere which means it is basically vacuum. The rockets angled at 45 degree means that it loses 30% of its power and requires 30% more fuel.

Also when the rockets fire under a 45 degree away angle there is no cushion under the rocket exhaust will actually suck the atmosphere from underneath it away. Also that shock wave is directed away from the lander not under the lander.

The only reason why you would have a 45 degree angle is when you already reuse the existing rockets and when there is no problem when you have enough fuel. Of course this will only be stable if all thrusters actually work and none got stuck at that critical phase.

Mike Egan March 31, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Surely thrust vectoring was well developed in the development of the British ‘Harrier’ aircraft and could be applied to this craft

DocMordrid March 31, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Not really thrust vectoring as in the movable nozzles & vanes of the Harrier, but differential thrust as in very deep individual throttling of the two SuperDraco thrusters in each of Dragon 2′s four pods.

delphinus100 April 1, 2013 at 2:58 AM

It would indeed effect efficiency. But I have to think it was balanced against the difficulty of mechanically arranging to have the exhausts point straight down from the sides of a cone shape, and not be an aerodynamic issue on ascent, as well as remaining within the bow shock of the heat shield on re-entry.

Conventional launch escape towers also have rockets that point off-axis to protect that which they’re meant to save, below them…

David A Walker Jr March 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Nice write up Ken!

Ken Kremer March 30, 2013 at 4:07 PM

good to see you here Dave. Note : Antares launch site is less than 4 h drive from Philly

marcosanthonytoledo March 30, 2013 at 4:21 PM

A land landing vehicles means a faster turn around for space mission,resupply and rescue right on SpaceX.

momaknowsbest March 30, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Have you heard about Disclosure Project and Dr. Steven Greer? If not I hope that you will look at The efforts todisclose tht we already have electro magnetic anti gravity craft back engineered from Space craft that we downed in the late 40′s. Tthe premeir of the documentary sirius.neverendinglight is exsposing that humanity has been kept from knowing this because of the fossil fuel industry.
The trailer is ont he website siriusdisclosure (.) com Please we have the technology to have already been exploring space in record time and have not needed fossil fuels for 50 years.

Joey Traina Jr March 31, 2013 at 3:30 AM

It is hard to take someone seriously after they mention spacecraft that we supposedly downed in the 40s. Do you really believe that? Also hard to take you seriously with your awful grammer and punctuation…

momaknowsbest March 31, 2013 at 3:57 AM

@Joey You are so right about being taken seriously. My fingers do not work very well at timesand then I made the mistake of being in a hurry too. I do know that Disclosure Project is worth looking into. I do not know how to edit the post after it has already been posted. Please do not let my gramatical errors leave one thinking that the 2 minute trailer sirius.neverendinglight(.)com is not worth viewing and yes I do believe there were downed craft in the 40′s.

newSteveZodiac March 31, 2013 at 10:24 AM

oops! it’s “grammar”

Joey Traina Jr March 31, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Oh the irony. Got me on that one lol.

Bobby Hudson March 30, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Space X has proven that taking risk in the pursuit of exploration is worth the expenditures. With each success we gain much knowledge as well as from failures. They have demonstrated the true American spirit in all of us,the United States of America.

Aqua4U April 1, 2013 at 10:30 PM

If you recall, when Curiosity landed the Sky Crane’s rocket exhaust(s) kicked up and deposited dirt, dust and pebbles on the decks of the rover even though it’s cantilevered rockets were pointed at an outward angle with the Sky Crane suspended some 25 feet above the rover.

True, Mar’s atmosphere is only ~0.75% that of Earth and that pressure depends on the season, atmospheric dust density and time of day. But the rocket exhaust itself _will_ create a localized pressure gradient or bubble of gases for the lander to descend upon.

Bottom line is that I’d like to see a computer sim. of the possible effects.

Olaf2 April 2, 2013 at 5:02 PM

As far as I can see the dust is sideways. The landing camera was not directly pointing under the belly down.

Also they have 2 types of descent engines, 4 that straight points down and 4 that are used at the last moment pointing sideways to prevent exhaust on the rover. That pointing sideways was not 5 degrees.

There is not an exhaust bubble that soften the landing.

Aqua4U April 3, 2013 at 12:23 AM

LOL!

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