"moonshot" reality tv show for $500M?

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kunkmiester
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"moonshot" reality tv show for $500M?

Postby kunkmiester » Mon May 30, 2011 1:37 am

Had this thought, mostly as an interesting way to get back to the moon. SpaceX is the big key in this though, since:

Dragon mission to ISS(close approximation to putting a crew capsule on a transfer vehicle) is $113M

Falcon 9X is $100-150M, figuring probably $120M for what I'm looking at

Base price of a Falcon 9 is $54M.

With modern tech, a lunar transfer vehicle with fuel should be well below the 9X's wieght to LEO. Crew goes up in a Dragon, lander gets in there, probably as a separate 9 launch.

Doing something like a Bigelow for the transfer vehicle makes it much lighter and allows a very comfortable volume. 120+113+60=$293M for launchers. Considering SpaceX's successes with Falcon, I'd say $200M would be reasonable for developing the transfer vehicle and the lander, both of which can use already existing technology. So, $500 million for a moonshot. Certainly less than $1 billion.

Money? Reality TV. This would be quite different than most shows, but with an international audience, it would most likely be able to at least offset some of the costs for the billionaire crazy enough to fund it. Also add the price paid by various universities to put their professors on flights. If the transfer vehicle and the (hopefully single stage)lunar landers are reusable, then the costs of such can be spread out over a longer period if desired. It's $16M per person to put a loaded Dragon in orbit(SpaceX's estimate of $113M per launch to ISS), possibly lower if any kind of mass production happens--that's well within the realm of the current crop of space tourists. Say, $20M to cover other costs. Still a bargain for a trip to the moon.

I'm sure there are missions such a transfer vehicle can do in orbit, or even out of orbit, but not going to the moon. :lol: I've got a simple setup in Sketchup I worked on tonight--small rocket, fuel tanks topped by an inflatable habitat--one or two rings with docks for ships, landers and Dragon capsules, trusses swing out inside to hold it all rigid against acceleration. Should all fit in a SpaceX fairing. I don't think you'd get the lander in there too, but it might fit with the Dragon.

Sound crazy?
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rjaypeters
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Postby rjaypeters » Mon May 30, 2011 2:19 am

Include in your estimates the costs of putting on the show. I hope less than 1% of what you have already estimated.

Perhaps the fun part would be who should go. BTW, is it a return mission? It makes a difference in whom I would recommend to fly. Perhaps a lottery for one crew member?

EDIT: Perhaps contact the X Prize Foundation to create a new Lunar X Prize and include coverage of each competing team for a financial boost?
"Aqaba! By Land!" T. E. Lawrence

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Skipjack
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Postby Skipjack » Mon May 30, 2011 3:19 pm

I think that you would not even need a separate lunar lander once Dragon has its pusher escape system, which according to Elon Musk will enable it to land on any solid surface in the solar system (with a gravity of earths or less I suppose that means).
All you would need then is a fuel depot on the moon (another dragon packed with fuel) and a way to easily refuel the Dragon in situ on the moon. If all these circumstances are met, then a Dragon should be sufficient to land and take off again, especially with less people on board (e.g. only two or three). I have not done the math (because of a lack of data), but refueling might not even be necessary with only 3 people on board.
For the return to earth, just water- land with the dragon on parachutes, as it will do initially anyway.
In any case, this means that there is no need to develop a separate lunar lander.
The transfer stage should not be that big of a problem, I suppose. I guess you would need another stage to return, or a stage that does both bring dragon there and then return it. I am not quite sure about what would be the better option there. Probably the latter.
My estimate is that a minimum of 3 regular falcon launches, or two regular and a Falcon Heavy (which I guess you mean with Falcon 9X) launch should be sufficient.
That means that 500M should be very much in the ballpark.

kunkmiester
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Postby kunkmiester » Mon May 30, 2011 7:43 pm

I was seeing the stuff on the lander method with the emergency rockets, but wasn't sure about talking about using them at this point, especially if they need refueling on the moon. Just needing the Dragons would be rather nice though, and would be more viable when a permanent base is of interest and fuel processing facilities have been constructed for reliable fuel supply on the moon--the big worry there.

I was seeing the transfer vehicle having enough fuel for the return trip. A second trip would involve two launches--one for the dragon, and one for any extra fuel and parts needed to get the transfer vehicle ready for another trip. This would be another reason to use a purpose built lunar lander--if the TV and the LL use the same rocket motor, you reduce the need for parts and such.
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Skipjack
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Postby Skipjack » Mon May 30, 2011 8:40 pm

Well one thing would be a as cheap as possible one time stunt for a TV- show, the other would be a sustainable lunar architecture.
The problem is that for a TV- show the former might be more interesting, though I agree that for the long term a more sustainable architecture with a reusable transferstage or transfer vehicle even might be more desirable.
Unfortunately TV shows these days are lucky if they survive a season.

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Postby D Tibbets » Mon May 30, 2011 9:38 pm

I think the launch escape motors is way to small to serve as either a lunar decent or assent motor. For launch escape the thrust is plenty, but the burn duration and net delta V is possibly in the range of ~ a few hundred MPH. Without looking it up I'm guessing the thrust needed to deorbit and make a controlled landing on the Moon is at least several thousand MPH. Remember that using these escape rockets during Earth landing needs only slow the descent speed controlled by the parachutes, to a more comfortable touchdown speed that avoids the need for water landings.

I seriously doubt that a single Falcon 9 could carry the transfer vehicle. Perhaps a total of 4-5 launches would get the required mass to LEQ. And, don't forget that SpaceX is tentatively planning a bigger booster made up of, I believe, tree Falcon 9 first stages.

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Skipjack
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Postby Skipjack » Mon May 30, 2011 10:07 pm

Dan, SpaceX has already stated that they will no require parachutes for land landings by eploying the LES rocket engines.
The parachutes will then only serve as a backup system. Elon Musk has also stated on several occasions that Dragon "will be able to land on any solid surface in the solar system" (I assume that means with earths gravity or less).

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Postby Skipjack » Mon May 30, 2011 10:11 pm

I seriously doubt that a single Falcon 9 could carry the transfer vehicle.

If they were to use only a single Dragon, then the stage could probably fit on a single Falcon 9, but as I said, I have not done the math. I know that SpaceX was planning a lunar flyby mission long before the announcement of the Falcon Heavy.

And, don't forget that SpaceX is tentatively planning a bigger booster made up of, I believe, tree Falcon 9 first stages.

Yes, that would be the aforementioned Falcon Heavy. If the transferstage does not fit onto a single Falcon 9, it will fit onto the Falcon Heavy for sure.

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Postby kunkmiester » Mon May 30, 2011 11:23 pm

Last I knew, the "heavy" made of three 9s was the "Falcon 9 X." Not sure where exactly I got that from. "X" seems to be for the next stage, with the bigger engines. Google is my friend when it cooperates. :oops:

Someone said, I believe on here, that the heavy could carry the Apollo stack "dry," which is to say no fuel. If it's capable of that, than a modern design should be just fine with just the TV and LL. A Dragon based lander would be interesting, but even if possible, is probably far enough in the future to preclude it in planning this endeavor.
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Skipjack
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Postby Skipjack » Mon May 30, 2011 11:47 pm

Not sure where exactly I got that from. "X" seems to be for the next stage, with the bigger engines.

Yes the X is the next bigger vehicle after the Falcon Heavy. The Heavy is basically three Falcon 9 first stages with cross feeding of fuel to the core stage.

A Dragon based lander would be interesting, but even if possible, is probably far enough in the future to preclude it in planning this endeavor.

Considering that a lander would also have to be designed and built first, I believe that a Dragon with landing capabilty might actually be closer.

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Postby Betruger » Tue May 31, 2011 8:12 am

The way readers at NSF talk about it, it sounds like there might be some significant reasons for not using Dragon as a lander on at least a few bodies. IIRC the Moon comments had something about spalling the heat shield with regolith, and Mars the usual - enough atmosphere to require heat shield but not enough to slow the capsule aerodynamically.

Don't have a link for these, but it was right around the time that recent video came out. Where they first explicitly illustrated Dragon landing on Mars.

seedload
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Postby seedload » Tue May 31, 2011 10:57 am

I would love to see a TV Reality show where they trick people into thinking that they are going to the moon.

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Postby Skipjack » Tue May 31, 2011 11:56 am

If you were to use a separate Dragon as a lander, then you would not even need a heatshield...
The moon has very little gravity though and if you consider that and the power that the engines for the LES would have, it would still be possible to slow the capsule down completely. With the heatshield gone, the whole thing would be even lighter.
As I said, Elon Musk seems to believe that it is viable. So why should I doubt that?

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Postby MSimon » Tue May 31, 2011 12:03 pm

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Postby Skipjack » Tue May 31, 2011 12:41 pm

Ok, cleaning up some misunderstandings here.
There is not Falcon 9X.
There is the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy. SpaceX has plans for a Falcon X some time in the future (if there are customers for that).

The Falcon Heavy consists of 3 Falcon 9 first stages. The basic version has 55 tons to LEO.
http://www.spacex.com/falcon_heavy.php
They also want to try cross feeding of fuel from the two outer stages to the central core which would make the rocket effectively a 3 stage vehicle. With that they would get some 70 tons into LEO.

There was an older table with SpaceX earlier plans floating arround on the web:
http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/08/spacex ... r-125.html
This showed several other LV configurations including a FalconX. I think that this table can be considered outdated though.
The FalconX would use a yet to be developed Merlin 2 engine which would be much bigger (1.2 million pounds) thrust. I do believe though that a Falcon Heavy is the safer vehicle, due to its engine out capability.
According to their old table, the Falcon X would also have had only 38 tons into LEO, which is less than what the Falcon Heavy does, even in the basic version. So it is interesting to see how they will adjust their future plans.

Anyway, the older table and the newly annonced Falcon Heavy seem to have caused quite a lot of confusion among people.
Personally, I am still wondering whether SpaceX is planning on building the Merlin2. It seems to be pointless for anything other than the largest planned LVs, the FalconX Heavy (125tons) and the Falcon XX (140 tons).


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