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Falcon 9 / Dragon

Discussion in 'Science' started by MoorKhan, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Member

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    You realise there are already people living in appalling conditions on Earth - extreme poverty, overcrowding, malnutrition, etc. Sure, they may not be your first choice for colonisers, but consider that a lot of historical colonisation was done by people in similar conditions.

    If you offered families currently at risk of selling their children in to child marriages / child labour an alternative of a few thousand dollars and their child being sent to Mars I imagine you could get a huge amount of takers very quickly. Look at the risks people are willing to take to flee places like Syria at the moment for the chance to try and build a better life for themselves.

    Additionally, space travel has such a huge cost because of the tiny margin of failure that is considered acceptable by the population in the developed countries capable of launching rockets. If you dropped the success target to 95% or 90%, you could probably strip out a huge amount of expensive redundancy and engineering - and offer some extra danger pay, or adjust the media perception of how bad a failure is, and you would probably still get a huge number of signups.

    Hell, if you offered me a free ticket to visit the space station with no danger pay and a 90% success rate I'd probably take it right now.
     
  2. RobRoySyd

    RobRoySyd Member

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    Of course that makes sense, well at first glance. Aside from all the technical challenges though the biggest threat to our happy existence on this piece of rock is us. We've already had several attempts at Earth 1.1 on this planet. Many idealists have tried establishing colonies based on utopian dreams and none seem to have ended well.
    I would argue before we consider Earth 2.0 we need to work on Homo Sapiens 2.0.
     
  3. Strange1

    Strange1 Member

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    After burning 90 million tonnes of methane to get the 10,000 rockets to Mars we will be glad we have somewhere else to live :p
     
  4. RobRoySyd

    RobRoySyd Member

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  5. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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  6. Strange1

    Strange1 Member

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  7. RobRoySyd

    RobRoySyd Member

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    Apart from the amount being insignificant you also need to consider where the methane is coming from. If it's from a source that'd be vented to the atmosphere anyway then burning it into CO2 which is less harmful than methane its a win.
     
  8. BlueRaven

    BlueRaven Brute force & optimism

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    Typical Folbro class. :lol::thumbup:

    I just want to clarify this point, "CO2 is less harmful than methane", in terms of accelerating climate change. Methane itself is no more toxic than CO2 in similar concentrations (though it is a lot more reactive :)).
    The stuff is so ludicrously abundant due to natural anaerobic decay that human activity actually accounts for a relatively small atmospheric input (relative to, say, carbon dioxide or oxides of nitrogen).

    The majority of human-induced methane production is due to agriculture & animal husbandry, which is currently going straight into the atmosphere (although I believe people are working on ways to change this).
    A significant percentage comes from organic fermentation in landfills and waste processing facilities, some of which gets collected and processed as "biogas", but this is still pretty rare and I doubt it could be refined into rocket propellant. :)

    A small portion of total production gets used for residential & commercial heating, cooking and transport (LNG use in commercial vehicles is increasing, but still very small compared to CNG/LPG).
    An awful lot of the stuff gets burned as a by-product of petrochemical drilling and refining operations.

    TL;DR - All human-induced production and use of methane currently involves either dumping it straight into the atmosphere - where it's worse than CO2 - or burning it, which produces mainly CO, CO2, and water vapour if my chemistry serves me correctly. :)
    I don't think rockets will make a big difference. Indeed, if some bright spark figures out a way to refine propellant-grade methane from agriculture/landfill-grade methane, it could quite literally be the "fuel of the future".

    EDIT: RobRoy, I agree about humans themselves being the biggest impediment to dreams of utopia.
    Perhaps the harsh conditions of a new colony on a different planet might enforce their own discipline?
    If that sounds an awful lot like "we'll sort it out when we get there", you're probably right.
    I'm just spitballing though, and I suppose harsh conditions are part of the problem not part of the solution.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2016
  9. chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    And how would this be better on Mars? Plus the constant threat to your life, and never any "free movement".

    And I also think that for this project you would not want to have failed personalities, but the strong and successful. How would you motivate such people to give up their success stories and change them to a miserable, funless life on a desert planet with no atmosphere and no "nature", and even pay a few hundred thousands $$ for the torture?

    Sure, a few would go, but "millions"? I doubt.
     
  10. BlueRaven

    BlueRaven Brute force & optimism

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    Sounds like the last big night I had in Sydney after the lockout laws came in.

    zing

    Why do people want to be astronauts?
    Why do people jump out of planes, or climb mountains, or race things?
    Why do they volunteer to join the military, or the emergency services?
    Why do they volunteer as doctors or civil engineers or schoolteachers in some tinpot war-torn developing country?
    Why do people go to school for years to learn a trade or profession?
    Why do people suddenly decide to switch trade/profession and do something else?

    People are complex, and I think you should give them a bit more credit.
    Just in this thread alone, you've had several answers from people along the lines of "I'd go in a heartbeat".
    Do you not think your viewpoint might be a bit narrow? :)
     
  11. RnR

    RnR Member

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    I don't think millions is impossible, but space travel really have to be cheap and safe for this to happen, so not for a while.

    However I think a steady stream of 'colonists' will make the journey, perhaps turning from an initial trickle to a decent flow once good facilities have been established and there is still no news about humans being demon possessed or portals to hell...

    The very first few thousands are likely to go through vigorous mental checks and testing. Maybe every colonist will go through some checks for a long time. I know Australian research/support staff wanting to go to Antarctica for 6 months have these checks.
     
  12. chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    But why, why, why? Why would anybody change this beautiful blue planet with a life threatening desert - for the rest of his/her life? The previous colonists, those who went from Europe into the "New World" were motivated by a better life, opportunities to become rich, freedom from political and religious oppression. But what is there to gain on Mars?
     
  13. RobRoySyd

    RobRoySyd Member

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    I'd add that many of those new settlers of the American Mid West died.
    I'd also add that most of the new settlers to this country arrived in chains.
    Those who came to leave behind the horrors of two world wars weren't entirely happy with their new life here, even those from The Motherland.

    There's been many attempts by those driven by an ideology to establish colonies on this planet. All failed. The only ones that have endured were / are driven by theology. Only the ascetic communities exist in harsh environments and none of those are colonies, no reproduction. All the communities at the "ends of the earth" are only barely hanging on. The Inuit, the Amerindians and the native peoples of this country.

    I've engaged in several potentially lethal activities simply for the pleasure of the experience. I think you and others are failing to grasp the difference between exploration and colonization .

    In any case most of the credible short and medium term threats to our species on this piece of rock are manageable. We already have the technology to deal with AGW, asteroids and diseases. Certainly we should invest more, much more.

    There's a number of threats in the medium to long term that moving to Mars will be of little to no help in our survival:

    • A wandering neutron star. Sorry Elon but the entire Solar System is going to get squished to fundamental particles.
    • Our Sun in it's dying phase. It'll toast this planet, Mars will fare better but we could do liposuction on our sun to extend it's life by orders of magnitude. It'll at best take millions of years to suck enough mass off it. We should get started soon.
     
  14. Strange1

    Strange1 Member

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    I wouldn't worry about it too much, it's not going to happen any time soon.
     
  15. RnR

    RnR Member

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  16. _slappy_dn

    _slappy_dn Member

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    I would go in a heartbeat
     
  17. Quadbox

    Quadbox Member

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    I seem to have lost my source, but further to Gwynne Shotwell's interview during the week where she implied the fault seems to have been procedural rather than a problem with the rocket itself, I've seen someone else mention that it seems to have been related to them testing out a faster fuelling procedure with the superchilled LOX and liquid helium being loaded concurrently.

    Presumably the LOX managed to boil some of the helium somewhere during loading and all hell broke loose. (or come to that, the other way round, the helium froze some of the LOX). They're pretty much the first team anywhere to use deep-cryo LOX in a rocket context.

    Great that it's not a rocket issue, and great that they've worked out the root cause. Hopefully some procedural changes will stop it ever happening again.
     
  18. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    I'm with chainy, I dont see the attraction of Mars beyond simply going there to say we can do it. I'm all for the exploration trip, but to make a permanent base I see as a horrible for most people, of course I'm sure there are others that are keen.

    Imo a moon base or colonising siberia/Antarctica seems more plausible.
     
  19. RobRoySyd

    RobRoySyd Member

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    Latest news from SpaceX on the anomaly:

    http://www.spacex.com/news/2016/09/01/anomaly-updates

    The liquid helium is carried in a COPV tank inside the LOX tank. Makes sense except the boiling point of helium (-268.9 °C) is lower than the freezing point of oxygen (-218.8 °C). Two potential problems. The LOX could be frozen by the helium or pressure from the boiling helium could cause the tank to rupture especially during loading. The latter seems to be what happened although SpaceX still aren't certain.
     
  20. Quadbox

    Quadbox Member

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    That's not the most current information btw. Elon did a tv interview about a week and a half ago. It was oxygen freezing around the helium tanks. Appears that solid oxygen's (well, solid oxygen in whatever phase that was anyway, oxygen's got quite a few known solid phases) quite happy to react with the carbonfibre. He's stated that flights will be resuming mid december (though it is elon giving a timeframe :p).

    Sounds like they'll either load the helium tanks before loading oxygen in future, or something of that sort. The tanks dont store liquid helium in flight, just very high pressure gasseous helium. Presumably they were loading it liquid for efficiency reasons, and so the loading mechanism doesnt need to be that astronomically high pressure. As elon said, noone's ever encountered this particular problem in spaceflight before, so it's a bit left field.
     

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