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Space Mars

SpaceX Has Received Permission From the US Government To Launch Elon Musk's Car Toward Mars (businessinsider.com) 225

SpaceX this week is preparing to launch Falcon Heavy, the biggest rocket in the company's history, for the first time. From a report: The 230-foot-tall three-booster launcher is scheduled to blast off Tuesday between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. ET. SpaceX says Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world. SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, wanted this test launch to happen as early as 2013, though he recently said it could end in an explosion. Instead of putting a standard "mass simulator" or dummy payload atop Falcon Heavy, Musk -- who once launched a wheel of cheese into orbit -- will put his personal 2008 midnight-cherry-red Tesla Roadster on top of the monster rocket. In an Instagram post over the weekend, Musk also revealed that the car would carry a dummy driver, which Musk is calling "Starman," wearing a SpaceX space suit. "Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring," Musk said in an Instagram post in December, adding that the company "decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel." However, all rocket payloads need a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch, and Musk's sleek electric car is no exception. The FAA granted SpaceX that permission on Friday in a staunchly formal notice, which Keith Cowing posted on NASA Watch.

SpaceX Has Received Permission From the US Government To Launch Elon Musk's Car Toward Mars

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  • Come Elon, where's your ambition? Either launch it TO Mars or not at all, I say!
  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:16PM (#56072975)

    Although this one will probably be adrift in space, I just realized that they could claim the title of the fastest car in history since it'll be zooming through space at speeds not possible on land. Too bad it won't be under it's own power.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Will it go faster than the Apollo era moon buggy though?

      Maybe they could claim fastest production car.

    • And given the design of the previous record holder [guinnessworldrecords.com] he is only slightly switching the design around replacing a pair of rockets strapped on a car with a car strapped on a triplet of rockets.

  • by Zorro ( 15797 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:17PM (#56072995)

    But not in a Corvette!

  • "Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring."

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Musk already has a Boring Company... I think he is going for something else here.

    • >. "Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks.

      My understanding is that you can make a simple "pico satellite", or in this case "pico probe" from essentially an Android phone, for a couple hundred dollars on the low end. Launch costs, however, are in the tens of thousands of dollars.

      Rather than carrying a concrete dummy load, or a car, why not carry a thousand hobbyist / university experiments? Sure it might not be successful - in which case I've

      • >> I'm probably missing something here?
        Yes,
        1) Not enough PR
        2) Cost of added complexity and certification costs
        3) Infrastructure and support costs (you need a big power supply, ground control infrastructure and manpower, communication at long distance, which require attitude control of the spacecraft, tracking, etcetcetc...)
        4) Integration onto/into the spacecraft
        5) radiation hardening: this is not your typical LEO cubesat. It goes through intense radiation.
        6) Communication bandwidth to mars distances

  • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:29PM (#56073069)
    Elon's rocket thrusts 63,800 Kg into low earth orbit. Back in the 60s, NASA's Saturn V was thrusting it's massive payload of 140,000 Kg into low earth orbit. NASA had a truly magnificent thrusting machine while Elon's flaccid little fire tube is less than half as large and powerful.
    • by joh ( 27088 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:51PM (#56073239)

      But it is much, much cheaper than the Saturn V. It's also twice as powerful than anything else flying today.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Okay so it was ridiculously expensive. But that only supports how ridiculously big and powerful the Saturn V was, it doesn't diminish it. Even though I understand all the economic reasons for retiring it, it always feel strange when we go "backwards". Like there used to be a supersonic passenger aircraft, now there's not. And when it came to rockets we didn't just take a small step backwards, like the Falcon Heavy is a huge leap forwards and we're still not back to the same lift capability they had 50 years

        • Weep ye not, for the clever chaps at NASA are developing a new series of fire tubes that will thrust their payloads upwards into the air and penetrate the atmosphere that will be almost as big as Up-Goer-Five (130,000 Kg): https://www.nasa.gov/explorati... [nasa.gov]
        • >> it always feel strange when we go "backwards".
          That's normal, don't worry.
          Civilizations all rise and fall, so id the actual western civilization

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Take it all up in one go on a massive rocket, or take it up in parts on multiple smaller and cheaper rockets.

          The massive rocket means you don't have to do in-orbit rendezvous and assembly. Multiple smaller rockets means a single failure is less costly, and with SpaceX they can potentially be re-used to reduce costs even further... But your astronauts better like IKEA furniture.

    • At least Elon's little red rocket works, while Saturn V's ancient corroded fuel lines prevent it from ever going up again. Unless perhaps NASA procures some solid blue fuel for it.

    • We really need to hear about flacid rockets from the man with Gypsy Hands,lol

  • "That seemed extremely boring" - Says the guy who literally founded and runs The Boring Company.

  • No other car company has rockets.

  • by tgibson ( 131396 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @05:07PM (#56073365) Homepage

    I was curios at how Musk's rocket stacked up to the rocket that sent us to the moon. From New Atlas [newatlas.com]:

    the two-stage Falcon Heavy has nine Merlin 1D main engines in each of its first stage elements burning supercooled liquid oxygen and kerosene to produce 5,548,500 lb of thrust. Then the second stage takes over with its single Merlin 1D engine to punch 210,000 lb of thrust

    That's remarkable when compared to the Atlas and Ariane rockets of today, but now let's look at the Saturn V. Its S-IC first stage has five Rocketdyne F1 engines that, when set loose, generate a staggering 7,610,000 lb of thrust as it burns kerosene and liquid oxygen.

    Then comes the S-II second stage with its five Rocketdyne J-2 putting out 1,155,800 lb of thrust from a mix of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. But where Falcon Heavy has already used up its stages, the Saturn still has its S-IVB third stage and its single J-2 engine that can manage a respectable 225,000 lb of thrust.

    Lots of other interesting information in the article such as size of payload and cost.

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      Yeah. The single payload is ~1/2 that of a Saturn V, but we can launch 11-12 of 'em for the same cost.

      • I still do not understand how NASA lost the blue prints for the Saturn V including the F1 engines. Since it used the same fuel as the Falcon engine.

        Heck they had to reverse engineer the blueprints for the F1 engine, or maybe that was just the compressor engine (not sure) from the one they had left sitting out side on exhibit.

        Seems to me we could have made some improvements over the last what 45+ years at pretty reasonable prices.

        Guess that is one of the problems with government, since it is not their
        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @06:53PM (#56073981) Homepage

          I still do not understand how NASA lost the blue prints for the Saturn V including the F1 engines. Since it used the same fuel as the Falcon engine.

          It's a myth.

          (This is) a claim John Lewis made in his 1996 book, Mining the Sky, that he went looking for the Saturn 5 blueprints a few years ago and concluded, incredibly, they had been "lost."

          Paul Shawcross, from NASA's Office of Inspector General, came to the agency's defense in comments published on CCNet -- a scholarly electronic newsletter covering the threat of asteroids and comets. Shawcross said the Saturn 5 blueprints are held at the Marshall Space Flight Center on microfilm.

          "The Federal Archives in East Point, Georgia, also has 2,900 cubic feet of Saturn documents," he said. "Rocketdyne has in its archives dozens of volumes from its Knowledge Retention Program. This effort was initiated in the late '60s to document every facet of F 1 and J 2 engine production to assist in any future restart."

          Shawcross cautioned that rebuilding a Saturn 5 would require more than good blueprints.

          "The problem in recreating the Saturn 5 is not finding the drawings, it is finding vendors who can supply mid-1960's vintage hardware," he wrote, "and the fact that the launch pads and vehicle assembly buildings have been converted to space shuttle use, so you have no place to launch from.

          And the final reason it won't be rebuilt even if you disregard all that and cost is that it would never get a man-rating today. It'd be like trying to get a T-Ford approved by modern safety standards, it would fail spectacularly. It was good enough 100 years ago, the Saturn V was good enough 50 years ago, but it wouldn't fly today. And I don't think anyone is ready to grandfather it in...

          • Thank You I stand corrected ;)
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The other big problem is that the Saturn V was designed in English measurement units. These days most serious engineering is done in metric. So even updating the design with some newer parts, or basing a new rocket on it, would require a lot of work just to deal with the units and converting paper designs to digital.

        • They didn't lose the blueprints, they have them archived. The problem is that they're on huge poorly-organized piles of microfilm and paper, not in modern CAD files, they specify parts and materials that haven't been produced in half a century, obsolete manufacturing processes that nobody left knows the details of, using manufacturing equipment that was scrapped or repurposed decades ago, and of the people who knew the thousands of little unspecified details about how to go from blueprint to working product

          • Are you aware that the mighty F-1 engine is being revised, with the F-1B being developed as a possible booster engine for the SLS, right?

            • Thank you for bringing the F-1B up, I did not mention that. If I recall right they were re creating the compressor engine from the F1 for the F-1B work. I just seem to recall a documentary about it so you know what I don't know anything for sure ;).

              But I stand corrected about the other F1 items;)

              Just my 2 cents ;)
              • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

                I know my knowledge is mostly from articles I’ve read. If there’s a documentary I’d like to be to see it.

                The biggest impression that stuck out to me was that the original F1 had several sections where it had the parts that *could* be manufactured by machine. And then they were welded together, and the “weld” was probably as big as the part. I think the best word to describe the engineers reaction when they examined one of the welds on an unfired F1’s was “awe”

          • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

            The Saturn V is not manufacturable today, and it's not due to "missing blueprints", it's just hopelessly obsolete.

            This, but another reason that I heard that we couldn't manufacture a Saturn V any more is because the originals where built by hand. Since most of the original craftsmen that work on the Saturn V have passed on those skillsets died with them.

            I'm sure that given enough time and money we could reinvent the skills required, but that time and money could be better used to come up with better systems.

  • The pictures show a car mounted in rather emtpy space.
    https://www.popularmechanics.c... [popularmechanics.com]

    I was under impression that a rocket launch is a lot of shake, vibration and gforces. How is a car like that going to survive it and more importantly, would it break apart and cause damage to the launch vehicule? Not to mention the batteries (likely they will discharge them?)

    What can go wrong with this idea?

    • Well, this test will answer those questions and more. I'm sure the car will have all sorts of sensors mounted all over for data collection.

    • I was under impression that a rocket launch is a lot of shake, vibration and gforces. How is a car like that going to survive it and more importantly, would it break apart and cause damage to the launch vehicule?

      You should look more closely at the photo. There's a cone-shaped thing underneath the car. The car is bolted to it. It's not going to move with respect to the rocket until that cone-shaped thing lets it go after it leaves geosynchronous orbit (when the Air Force test criteria are satisfied).

      Not to mention the batteries (likely they will discharge them?)

      Nobody has said, but I'm assuming the batteries have been removed entirely. Perhaps not though. If not, they will certainly discharge, which is irrelevant. They may also outgas, which might be relevant. If they do

  • I mean they don't own the rights to space... Is it because it's being launched through US airspace?

  • This makes me think of the beginning of the movie Heavy Metal.

  • Just a couple days delay! I'll be in Florida starting on Thursday, and want to see this, dammit!
  • His car on Mars will collide with one of NASA's robots, and insurances will fight in the court for years!
  • So launching a car is fun and all but why not use the launch for some sort of useful scientific instrument instead? Something that might not otherwise get into orbit and do it gratis. Doesn't have to be anything sophisticated or expensive. Sure it might blow up and whoever built the instrument will need to understand that going in but then we aren't wasting a launch on something that even Elon will admit is ridiculous. Is there nothing that weighs a ton that could do something useful if it makes it into

  • Geico should "provide car insurance for mars vehicles" and run a joint ad campaign. They could put a "gecko" in the space suit.

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