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#1 2018-05-15 17:55:37

Oldfart1939
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Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Our trusty leader & mentor is never at rest:

https://www.weeklystandard.com/robert-z … ce9cd02e34

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#2 2018-05-15 19:04:19

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

I can't help feeling Bob is fighting old battles that were long lost.  NASA isn't going to Mars, probably not even the Moon, before anyone else and if other people get there first, their missions will be largely redundant.  America has a space programme, it just happens to be a (or rather several) private sector space programme(s). 

Robert Zubrin did some marvellous work in the past showing how we can settle Mars, but he was kind of bound up in the Apollo mindset, thinking it was all a matter of convincing NASA to "get on board". I really don't know how many times NASA has to say "we don't want to get on board" before people get the message.   The message is that NASA is a kind of multi-billiion dollar science club. It's not interested in doing colonisation, only "science" (and it has a rather old fashioned, boyish 1950s conception of how you do "science"). 

Remember since the last American was on the Moon NASA have had about $1000 billion to play with. They could easily have put together Mars or lunar colonisation programmes if that is want they really wanted to do. But that is the last thing on their minds.

Oldfart1939 wrote:

Our trusty leader & mentor is never at rest:

https://www.weeklystandard.com/robert-z … ce9cd02e34


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#3 2018-05-15 19:50:07

Oldfart1939
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Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Louis-

All Bob is suggesting is a GOAL DIRECTED PROGRAM. Tuna cans are a dead horse at this juncture.

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#4 2018-05-15 22:40:17

Oldfart1939
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Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Why is NASA so slow?

https://youtu.be/jGZagqJ833c

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#5 2018-05-16 07:11:32

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
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Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

louis: Zubrin came up with Mars Direct after President at the time George H. W. Bush gave NASA an order to get humans to Mars. NASA instead came up with a laundry list of everything under the Sun, with a price tag that Congress would never approve. Martin-Marietta asked their engineers to come up with a plan to do what the President asked, nothing more, and at a price Congress would approve. Zubrin and his partner David Baker were one of the teams, they did come up with said plan. Many within NASA got exited, did want to do it. But Congress was worried NASA would try to manipulate it to be the full 90-Day Report with it's full $450 billion price tag, in 1989 dollars. Today, some within NASA think they're still working the 90-Day Report.

Don't criticize Zubrin. His plan was what the President at the time wanted. The big boss.

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#6 2018-05-16 07:40:25

JoshNH4H
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From: New York, NY, USA, Earth, Sol
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,314
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Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

It's interesting how so many of our discussions are still indexed to the politics of that particular moment in 1990 (28 years ago!).  What might a Mars Mission Architecture indexed to the politics of 2018 or 2020 look like?


-Josh

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#7 2018-05-16 08:40:00

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

I was referencing his article of this month, not criticising his past work which was very good. My "criticism" such as it was, was that he is naive in thinking NASA can be "brought on board" for a Mars settlement project. They can't.

RobertDyck wrote:

louis: Zubrin came up with Mars Direct after President at the time George H. W. Bush gave NASA an order to get humans to Mars. NASA instead came up with a laundry list of everything under the Sun, with a price tag that Congress would never approve. Martin-Marietta asked their engineers to come up with a plan to do what the President asked, nothing more, and at a price Congress would approve. Zubrin and his partner David Baker were one of the teams, they did come up with said plan. Many within NASA got exited, did want to do it. But Congress was worried NASA would try to manipulate it to be the full 90-Day Report with it's full $450 billion price tag, in 1989 dollars. Today, some within NASA think they're still working the 90-Day Report.

Don't criticize Zubrin. His plan was what the President at the time wanted. The big boss.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2018-05-16 08:41:04

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Exactly like Space X's mission architecture! There is nothing else in the offing.

JoshNH4H wrote:

It's interesting how so many of our discussions are still indexed to the politics of that particular moment in 1990 (28 years ago!).  What might a Mars Mission Architecture indexed to the politics of 2018 or 2020 look like?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#9 2018-05-16 08:45:59

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 2,792
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Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Mmmm? Indexed?

At the moment, the most likely way I see a Mars mission happening is if SpaceX, or perhaps a consortium of companies (Bigelow?), put one together and offer to sell it to the US government. Wanting to show the world that America is still capable of such things, Congress will find the money - or else other countries will buy the seats. At what cost would Congress refuse to pay? Could a mission be done today for under $10 billion?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#10 2018-05-16 09:46:46

Oldfart1939
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Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

The "consortium of companies" is probably the way it WILL work out. But the progress being made by the private sector is making NASA less and less relevant. The next step for SpaceX will be the first flight of the Dragon 2 human space vehicle, as an unmanned first flight; then the abort demonstration; and finally by end of the year (hopefully!), the first human flight to the ISS aboard the new U.S. designed built vehicle. There are also 2 more Falcon Heavy flights tentatively scheduled for 2018 as well. Maybe the circumlunar flight could come off in 2019, if Musk changes his mind re: human rating the Falcon Heavy.

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#11 2018-05-16 10:52:15

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 3,078
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Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Beware: 

Spacex is doing crew Dragon to a NASA contract,  and must play by NASA's rules or lose the contract.  NASA doesn't want Boeing embarrassed,  being one if its favored contractors,  while Spacex has sort-of muscled-in to the game.  This thing is behind schedule,  and not because of Spacex.  If it weren't for NASA's drawn-out schedule and requirements-creep on Spacex but not Boeing (the parachute water landing instead of propulsive on land with legs),  crew Dragon could have flown 2+ years ago.

My point:  the game is rigged for favored contractors.  Spacex can win only if it proves in test to be far and away better than Boeing,  in public,  where the results cannot be covered up.  THAT is why the schedule has been drawn out so long,  and why asymmetric requirements creep has been thrown into the mix.  Once they fly,  the rigged game is over.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#12 2018-05-16 12:59:39

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

I think I've seen estimates of around or under £10 billion.  A lot would depend on how you divide the development costs of the BFR. Of course - as there are other uses to which it can be put. Of course a lot of those development costs e.g. re the engines and propellant tank have already been sunk. So you have to ask if you are doing the accounting from now, or taking into account historical? 

Ball park figures from here on in:

BFR/BFS development costs - $1 billion

Manufacture of BFR/BFS x 8 (4 for mission and 4 for testing/pilot): $1.6 billion

Building Mars propellant plant: $0.5 billion

Building Rovers for Mission:  $0.5 billion

Purchasing/producing PV panels
and associated equipment:     $ 1 billion

Life support and other equipment
(development and manufacture):  $ 1 billion

Mars Mission ground control/support -  $ 0.5 billion

Training of crew/Mars simulator/pilot missions: $1 billion

Paying NASA launch pad fees/coms support - $0.5 billion

Contingencies/additional costs: $1 billion

TOTAL: $8.6 billion. 

I am struggling to think of what other costs might be involved and of course we don't yet know what proportion of these costs could be offset through sponsorship, sale of experiment room on the BFS, and sale of regolith etc on return.

There are some costings from Brian Wang here:

https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/10/s … aunch.html


Terraformer wrote:

Mmmm? Indexed?

At the moment, the most likely way I see a Mars mission happening is if SpaceX, or perhaps a consortium of companies (Bigelow?), put one together and offer to sell it to the US government. Wanting to show the world that America is still capable of such things, Congress will find the money - or else other countries will buy the seats. At what cost would Congress refuse to pay? Could a mission be done today for under $10 billion?


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#13 2018-05-16 17:26:18

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
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Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

I've read Zubrin's entire letter, and agree with it. Why criticize? Remember, BFR is not going to fly any time soon. It's a pipe dream. SpaceX has gotten funding for it from the military, so it will proceed. But Falcon Heavy took years to complete. According to Wikipedia

Concepts for a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle were initially discussed as early as 2004. SpaceX unveiled the plan for the Falcon Heavy to the public at a Washington DC news conference in April 2011, with initial test flight expected in 2013.
...
Musk mentioned Falcon Heavy in a September 2005 news update, referring to a customer request from 18 months prior.

So Falcon Heavy took 14, 12½, or 7 years to complete, depending which you count from. Even though serious work on BFR has begun, I expect BFR will take a decade to complete. And we saw with Shuttle, one vehicle intended to do everything for everyone is not the answer. BFR will require infrastructure on Mars before the first one arrives, so we need something more modest to send a construction crew to build that.

Zubrin called for a commercial service to transport crew to the Lunar surface and back. NASA could focus on building something on the Moon. That's an excellent approach.

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#14 2018-05-16 17:38:41

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

Why criticise? Because anything that stands in the way of Mars settlement should be criticised and trying to revive the idea that NASA will play any active role in Mars settlement (beyond providing comms and launch pads) is unhelpful in my view. It's a distraction, and a possible impediment as NASA may use it as a way to block Space X.  There are definitely forces at work like COSPAR who want to stop Space X in its tracks and I think COSPAR has a lot of influence over NASA.

RobertDyck wrote:

I've read Zubrin's entire letter, and agree with it. Why criticize? Remember, BFR is not going to fly any time soon. It's a pipe dream. SpaceX has gotten funding for it from the military, so it will proceed. But Falcon Heavy took years to complete. According to Wikipedia

Concepts for a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle were initially discussed as early as 2004. SpaceX unveiled the plan for the Falcon Heavy to the public at a Washington DC news conference in April 2011, with initial test flight expected in 2013.
...
Musk mentioned Falcon Heavy in a September 2005 news update, referring to a customer request from 18 months prior.

So Falcon Heavy took 14, 12½, or 7 years to complete, depending which you count from. Even though serious work on BFR has begun, I expect BFR will take a decade to complete. And we saw with Shuttle, one vehicle intended to do everything for everyone is not the answer. BFR will require infrastructure on Mars before the first one arrives, so we need something more modest to send a construction crew to build that.

Zubrin called for a commercial service to transport crew to the Lunar surface and back. NASA could focus on building something on the Moon. That's an excellent approach.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#15 2018-05-16 17:53:26

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,430

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

IMHO- I believe that SpaceX has learned a lot since making the Falcon Heavy timeline predictions. Yes, Musk is ever the optimist, but he's undoubtedly learned how to moderate a bit. That said, I agree with Zubrin, that a smaller scale pioneer mission is mandatory for success with the bigger rockets. The BFS upper stage may well fly in test hops in the desert next year, but I'm not going to turn blue holding my breathe, either.

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#16 2018-05-16 18:25:07

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 3,590

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

We all know that Musk's predictions are inspired by hope as much as flowcharts. Space X's development has been uneven...sometimes it seems to reach its goals a lot quicker than the nay-sayers said.  Test hops in 2019 will mean we are definitely on target for a 2022 cargo launch.

Oldfart1939 wrote:

IMHO- I believe that SpaceX has learned a lot since making the Falcon Heavy timeline predictions. Yes, Musk is ever the optimist, but he's undoubtedly learned how to moderate a bit. That said, I agree with Zubrin, that a smaller scale pioneer mission is mandatory for success with the bigger rockets. The BFS upper stage may well fly in test hops in the desert next year, but I'm not going to turn blue holding my breathe, either.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#17 2018-05-16 19:20:48

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 12,211

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

I can agree on the disappointment of decades of Exorbitant spending with the outcome being less direct than that of a batch of rovers and orbiters for mars. Its the human interaction from partners that we gained that is priceless as we were able to do all of the build without bring in conflict to the station and it still did science.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_spaceflight

I did like the Rockwell shuttle original plan but they did still build much of the next version:

North_American_Rockwell_P333.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Review_of … _Committee

https://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/home/index.html

There has been alot of water under the bridge to which it was not in an outline format so that we can connect the dots from what was done to going to mars but what was done will apply to the journey.

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#18 2018-05-16 20:33:06

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,409
Website

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

louis wrote:

Why criticise? Because anything that stands in the way of Mars settlement should be criticised and trying to revive the idea that NASA will play any active role in Mars settlement (beyond providing comms and launch pads) is unhelpful in my view. It's a distraction, and a possible impediment as NASA may use it as a way to block Space X.  There are definitely forces at work like COSPAR who want to stop Space X in its tracks and I think COSPAR has a lot of influence over NASA.

International law prohibits launching anything into space unless it's sponsored by a country. The United States has recently assigned the FAA to regulate commercial space, but NASA still has a lot of control. And NASA definitely controls any human anything beyond LEO. You don't want to get NASA onboard, but without that, NASA will stop SpaceX or anyone else from leaving LEO.

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#19 2018-05-20 02:52:42

elderflower
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Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 825

Re: Zubrin letter to Bridenstine

You can swap countries. In some cases there will need to be a huge capital spend on facilities, but not all.

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