SpaceX assembles Falcon 9 rocket
First ISS lifter comes together at Cape Canaveral
The 54.9m (180ft) beast now awaits raising into the vertical, once SpaceX has carried out "a tremendous amount of welding" to assemble the rocket's launch mount and erector. The company has not yet set a date for the inaugural flight.
For ISS operations, the Falcon 9 will lift a reusable Dragon payload capsule. The first of three demo flights, a five-hour jaunt during which Dragon will orbit the Earth and parachute back for an ocean recovery, is slated for some time this year.
The second will involve a close encounter with the ISS, moving to within 10km of the orbiting outpost to "exercise the radio cross-link, demonstrating the ability of ISS crew to receive telemetry from Dragon and their ability to send a command to the spacecraft".
In 2010, Dragon will demonstrate a "full cargo mission", docking with the ISS, albeit without actually carrying any cargo.
SpaceX is contracted for 12 ISS flights at a cost of "about $1.6bn". Orbital Sciences Corporation of Virginia has also got its snout into the post-shuttle courier trough with eight launches for around $1.9bn. The company will deploy its Taurus II lifter for the missions - currently in development and scheduled to do a maiden demonstration flight in 2010. ®
Re: Moon was done w completely non existant tech
>the moon shots were done in 10 years starting from nothing.
Really? no rocket tech? no life support systems? in fact there was a huge amount of technology back to the 30s directly used on the moon missions, the "from nothing to the moon in 10 years" thing is just american propaganda (in fact a lot of german military tech was used when their scientists defected for an easy life after WW2).
Definitely not discounting VASIMR, it's the only viable option at the moment, but let's not forget the low acceleration, even at the best possible estimates a low mass (1000Kg) craft could take less than 40 days (with a big 200Mw engine), but that's one way and not decelerating, as soon as you up the mass (for living quarters and supplies) it slows down significantly, with a smaller power source and assuming you want to pause at Mars and come back again (rather than go whizzing past) you're still talking several months.
>Yes it would have radioactive decay generator onboard, no big deal.
Nope, it's a big deal, how do you get rid of waste heat in space without convection or conduction? radiation is the only option, so large radiation panels are required, that's if nuke power is "allowed" in space.
Don't forget VASIMR is actually an old technology (25 years) that is only now becoming possible, it will be years before a probe uses it (probably to Mars), even it, at maximum theoretical speeds couldn't reach alpha centauri (our closest other star system) within 4000 years, even breaking the known laws of physics and traveling at light speed would take over 4 years and that's to a system that we don't think is habitable.
So let's pretend that a Mars mission is possible within 30 years, with huge resources and multi-governmental input, let's also pretend that the craft could keep people alive for a few months, possible? OK, possible, but not probable, but even if this very unlikely set of events did happen what is the point? spending billions (trillions?) of dollars to send people to dead planets, spend the money on unmanned craft and AI systems you'll get so much more for your money, go further, get there sooner and find out more.
Moon was done w completely non existant tech
I'm not going to agree or disagree totally with either of you. But the moon shots were done in 10 years starting from nothing. Don't discount Ion or VASIMR. Yes it would have radioactive decay generator onboard, no big deal. 30,332 kg + 14,696 kg for moon modules as a reference. So about 50,000Kg for 3 dudes to the moon. @ 4000kg per load it would take 13 shuttle missions to = 1 apollo mission.
Good thing they were not stupid enough to try to use a shuttle to try to leave LEO. Now Mike, put that brain of yours to good work and figure it out using appropriate heavy lifter craft for the job. Right tool for the right job people.
6000Kg for a craft to get to mars and back, using experimental (or nonexistent) engines, working for months without a single new replacement part, if only they had you to design the ISS!
ISS ~ 230,000Kg = living spaces/recyclers/only manouvering engines
Mars mission ~ 6,000Kg = living spaces/totally self sufficient for months/accelerators and retarding/manouvering engines/every single part resilient or redundant, really do ya think? I wonder why the ISS is so big then? ballast? for a laugh?
Probably need nuclear power as that naughty old inverse square law will dramatically reduce the available solar power, plasma/ionic drives offer very low acceleration, therefore read deceleration, you'd need to start deceleraing half way there (unless you have chemical/retro, oh wait they would need to be as powerful as an engine accelerating to that speed)
And "something the size of the space shuttle" doesn't have to look like a space shuttle, fool.
So yet again.... My number are not totally incorrect, please *think* what is needed, not what you would like to need.