SpaceX landed another rocket

Namrok
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SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Namrok » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:43 am

This was another one of their incredibly challenging mission profiles, having to spend almost all their fuel getting a satellite into a high earth orbit, and then having to use every drop left to slam the breaks as hard as possible at the last possible second. I didn't get to see the actual landing because the link to the drone ship cut out, but once it came back there it was standing perfectly upright.

How many of these fucking things do they have in the hangar right now? I know Elon tweeted out a photo of 3 or 4 saying they'd need to build a bigger hangar for all their used rockets. I think they also said they wanted to refly one during an actual mission this year or next.

If it weren't for all our social issues, I'd say we were living in the damn future. Here's hoping we can make it to Mars before we backslide into the dark ages again.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby TheDeamon » Sun Aug 14, 2016 10:01 am

Namrok wrote:If it weren't for all our social issues, I'd say we were living in the damn future. Here's hoping we can make it to Mars before we backslide into the dark ages again.
I'm more concerned about mother nature unleashing a Near Extinction Level Event on us than I am about anything happening on a social front. Although Nuclear Winter(and what would be required to cause it) is still pretty high on the list.

But yeah, I'm hoping to see his dream of getting 1 Million + People settled on a self-sufficient Mars happens before things go to shit here, as it is only a question of when, not if.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:58 pm

I favor humans' settlement of anywhere they can reach but still have serious doubts about how likely a self sufficient Martian colony will be.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Namrok » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:41 pm

I sincerely doubt we'd see a self sufficient mars colony in our lifetime. But I think it could be possible. There are a lot more problems that need solving. Growing food, gathering building materials, medical resources, manufacturing capacities, etc. We have a planets worth of industry keeping us afloat. I have no idea how long it would take Mars to not need shit like cancer treatments shipped from Earth, or microprocessors.

Maintaining breathable air I believe is a solved problem.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:47 am

I'm still not confident that sustainable life on Mars will ever happen. I've been too lazy to try figuring out the math myself and every person I encounter who says it is likely also says a space elevator is feasible -- so I dismiss the idea out of hand.

Radiation can be solved by simply digging deep enough but then you have the challenge of heavy, expensive digging equipment. You're going to need a large tunnel network in order to house all your people and equipment and the machines to get that aren't cheap. This makes the real estate problem look very non trivial to me.

The water on Mars is likely going to be as irradiated as delay. Purification is a matter I'm not very well versed in.

There is no soil on Mars so you're going to have to get clever with how you raise food. Hydroponics on Earth is still facilitated by support from organic things that already sustain themselves on the massive biosphere that already exists here. The fish or ducks that make hydroponic nutrients will need support and it starts to look like thermodynamics is working hard against you there.

So yeah. I'm still quite skeptical on the whole Mars colony thing.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby TheDeamon » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:24 am

Agreed on there being a rather long and extensive list of issues to address, and an even longer one of unknowns behind that no doubt. But until some actual attempts are made, fully cognizant of them being exactly that, an attempt. Further progress towards resolving the issue will not happen in the interim.

Science in new fields in particular tends to progress further when the experiment fails rather the expected success. One practical experiment is also going to provide exponentially more information than thousands of theoretical simulations.

The other factor here is the march of of technology, things like 3d printers are making the prospect of remote (drone) mining operations more viable as time progresses. Advances in AI, sensors, servos, and other equipment likewise helps to move the human factor out of many things.

I also think that IF we ever get to the point of having a non-earthbound permanent population over 1 million people, much of the economics of space travel will trend towards their being largely self-sufficient aside from maybe a few highly specialized goods, but mostly in terms of vanity items. This simply by virtue of the matter that leaving Earth's Gravity well is expensive. So if it is possible to obtain the needed materials in space, or on another planet(mars, or the moon) it is going to be (long-term) more profitable to manufacture and distribute outside of Earth's Gravity well.

I believe that actually is part of the SpaceX long view, they expect it to be cheaper(or at least, cost competitive) to provide foodstuffs from Mars to orbital & lunar facilities around earth than it would be to do so from earth itself. Of course, they're currently assuming those facilities haven't found solutions of their own by then.

As to irradiated water, it isn't the "water" that would be the problem. It would be the materials dissolved in it which would be. The purification processes to remove those substances isn't exactly cheap, and then you have a bunch of radioactive material to dispose of. Which is why irrigators simply won't touch it on earth(well, that and general radiation phobia in the public at large) as it is "too expensive" for their taste. Municipal providers haven't encountered the situation yet, but that still goes back radiation-phobias in the public at large.

Would you knowingly drink "remediated" water that used to be radioactive? How about eating food produced by crops grown using that same water? (This ignores the reality that just about everyone on earth has probably consumed water molecules that were irradiated at some point in past billion years)
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Tue Aug 16, 2016 8:20 am

TheDeamon wrote:Agreed on there being a rather long and extensive list of issues to address, and an even longer one of unknowns behind that no doubt. But until some actual attempts are made, fully cognizant of them being exactly that, an attempt. Further progress towards resolving the issue will not happen in the interim.

Science in new fields in particular tends to progress further when the experiment fails rather the expected success. One practical experiment is also going to provide exponentially more information than thousands of theoretical simulations.
Yes and at exponentially more cost, too. When dealing with new orders of magnitude, very little of historical precedent is going to be helpful in assessing the likelihood or feasibility of anything.
TheDeamon wrote:The other factor here is the march of of technology, things like 3d printers are making the prospect of remote (drone) mining operations more viable as time progresses.
I don't know why 3D printing is relevant. Getting things to be the right shape is trivial compared to the raw cost of getting a single gram of anything off of Earth. Mining equipment must be strong and strong materials are heavy and weight is the only expense that matters with space flight. Materials that are conducive to 3D printing tend to have more ductility which is also terrible for mining.

Remote mining will require an up-front cost of heavy materials which are prohibitively expensive.
TheDeamon wrote:Advances in AI, sensors, servos, and other equipment likewise helps to move the human factor out of many things.
Not really helpful since the discussion is human settlement of Mars.

You can have the best servos in existence driven my the smartest software ever devised and it will not change anything. The weight of the equipment needed to start anything is all that matters.
TheDeamon wrote:I also think that IF we ever get to the point of having a non-earthbound permanent population over 1 million people, much of the economics of space travel will trend towards their being largely self-sufficient aside from maybe a few highly specialized goods, but mostly in terms of vanity items. This simply by virtue of the matter that leaving Earth's Gravity well is expensive.
Duh.
TheDeamon wrote:So if it is possible to obtain the needed materials in space, or on another planet(mars, or the moon) it is going to be (long-term) more profitable to manufacture and distribute outside of Earth's Gravity well.
Duh again.

The whole point is that the up-front cost of being capable of using extraterrestrial materials itself is crazy expensive. People seem to be glossing over this detail.

The Falcon Heavy rocket SpaceX promises (but hasn't delivered yet) is said to bring the cost of lifting a single kilogram of cargo into low Earth orbit down to $1,700. According to this dilly, http://www.bostoncenterless.com/resourc ... ulator.htm , enough tungsten carbide to make teeth on a continuous miner will weigh something like 6447kg. That's over $10Million to move just one component of one piece of mining equipment which will need constant replacement.

There are trace amounts of tungsten on Mars but even discovering veins large enough to mine there will likely be on the order of billions of dollars and then actually getting it will be billions more (if you find it). You will still have to send the initial mining equipment needed to get the Martian minerals out and refine them.

You're already dealing with an expense in time and money that far exceeds the attention span of any modern human endeavor before you can get enough native tungsten to keep mining for more native tungsten --- to say nothing of the other stuff you're going to need.
TheDeamon wrote:As to irradiated water, it isn't the "water" that would be the problem. It would be the materials dissolved in it which would be. The purification processes to remove those substances isn't exactly cheap, and then you have a bunch of radioactive material to dispose of.
Sure, whatever. Like I said, I'm ignorant here. My point is that nobody's presented a compelling argument as to why any water on Mars would be of any use within a year of humans touching down on the surface. It's entirely possible that my ignorance makes me incapable of recognizing a compelling argument if presented with one.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby TheDeamon » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:19 pm

The 3D printing is relevant in the context of machines starting to reach the point of building other machines like themselves. Of course, there is the raw materials chain to work through as well, it will need to be processed once mined, then the processed ore needs to be refined, and so on before it could be sent through something like a 3D Printer. But considering SpaceX for example is 3D printing Titanium Rocket Engines, I would say that the technology exists, it just isn't very optimal at this time.

There is a lot of "tail" involved in all of this. And yes, the individual parts are anything but cheap. The time scales involved don't help, but when you have several multi-billionaires pooling resources to try to make progress happen on the commercial front while the Government likewise continues on its own endeavors(which often provides revenue for those previously mentioned billionaires), it is possible it could happen, as they fully acknowledge the time frames involved. So long as they don't die before significant progress is made.

But this all still circles back to the chicken and egg kind of problem. Gaining that initial "(industrial) foothold" in space is going to be godawfully expensive and undoubtedly will run into the tens of billions of dollars. But the thing is, the people/corporations or nations who pulls it off are going to be in a very economically dominate position for a very long time unless they monumentally screw the pooch.

Nobody disputes the "startup costs" are huge, what is in dispute is how fast the ROI would be. I'm in the camp that says the return would be massive if it's implemented properly. But the payout may take a couple decades to see.

Due to that same high cost of getting things into orbit, it also creates a perverse disincentive for better space access at that point(if it's the same entity doing industry and access), as better access from Earth means more competition from earth based sources, and that means you can't charge as much for your in-orbit manufacturing capabilities.

Although there are conceptual constructs that allow them to game even that, as a lot of that manufacturing in space would be for a far simpler product: Rocket Fuel. Why boost it into space from earth when it can be created in space in the first place? Just have it stop somewhere to switch the payload to another rocket, or refuel the rocket it is already on. The spacers will need the fuel anyway regardless, and the Earthers still have to make it to LEO at the least, which is currently the most expensive part. If they buy the spacer made fuel along the way, that's great too.

In that vein, I expect the first large scale mining operations in space, should it happen in our lifetime, will be for water-ice and/or silicates. Water is useful in its own right, but splitting it into it's constituent parts gets you (the most corrosive) rocket fuel. Silicate is great because it's mostly silicon(great for solar cells, or as a "cheap" but bulky insulator in space), and oxygen which is good because you want to be able to breathe, and is handy to have if you plan to burn other things.

Which puts the first true likely industries in space as rocket fuel, and possibly solar cell/array manufacturing(although in the latter case, many of the other requisite parts/elements would initially source from Earth).
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:37 pm

TheDeamon wrote:Gaining that initial "(industrial) foothold" in space is going to be godawfully expensive and undoubtedly will run into the tens of billions of dollars. But the thing is, the people/corporations or nations who pulls it off are going to be in a very economically dominate position...
This is simply not true.

There is never going to be an economic advantage to space colonization for anybody on Earth.

There can be economic advantage to the first Martians who survive on Mars. They will be at an advantage over new Martian settlers. But they will always be disadvantaged compared to people who don't have to worry about expensive pressurized buildings to not die and who can grow edible nutrients on accident.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Namrok » Tue Aug 16, 2016 3:53 pm

Ishpeck wrote:
TheDeamon wrote:Gaining that initial "(industrial) foothold" in space is going to be godawfully expensive and undoubtedly will run into the tens of billions of dollars. But the thing is, the people/corporations or nations who pulls it off are going to be in a very economically dominate position...
This is simply not true.

There is never going to be an economic advantage to space colonization for anybody on Earth.

There can be economic advantage to the first Martians who survive on Mars. They will be at an advantage over new Martian settlers. But they will always be disadvantaged compared to people who don't have to worry about expensive pressurized buildings to not die and who can grow edible nutrients on accident.
Pretty much. I keep wondering what industry would be advantaged in space. There is always the possibility we might discover advanced materials which can only be manufactured in zero/microgravity. It's also possible these materials could be so valuable, for such essential functions that the cost to produce them in space is viewed as necessary. Especially if they possess any wartime function. In such a case, the 1/4 gravity of Mars would make a more efficient location for growing and launching food or raw materials over the Earth. The Moon even more so.

But we are stuck at a certain bottleneck right now, where these materials, if they exist, won't be discovered until space industry becomes economically feasible. And that won't happen until the launch cost per pound comes down by at least another order of magnitude, possibly two. Not like people aren't working on that problem though.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:31 pm

Namrok wrote:But we are stuck at a certain bottleneck right now, where these materials, if they exist, won't be discovered until space industry becomes economically feasible. And that won't happen until the launch cost per pound comes down by at least another order of magnitude, possibly two. Not like people aren't working on that problem though.
The Verne Gun is cute because it can double as a nuclear disarmament propaganda piece. Really temporary, though.

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/r ... p#vernegun

A Lofstrom loop has received more serious attention (probably because of its similarity to the crackpottery of the Space Elevator).

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/r ... #lofsgtrom

Although it doesn't presume magical tensile strength the way the Space Elevator concept does, it _does_ still rely on unheard of materials to weather reality.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby TheDeamon » Tue Aug 16, 2016 5:08 pm

Ishpeck wrote:
TheDeamon wrote:Gaining that initial "(industrial) foothold" in space is going to be godawfully expensive and undoubtedly will run into the tens of billions of dollars. But the thing is, the people/corporations or nations who pulls it off are going to be in a very economically dominate position...
There is never going to be an economic advantage to space colonization for anybody on Earth.
That depends on a number of things that still exist only in the realm of theory right now. However, there also are plenty of things we use daily today that people believed would never exist even as recently as 30 years ago. A lot can change in just a decade, let alone two or three.

As to economic advantage: How ready access to large quantities of precious metals and "rare earths" that make the existing known (already mined, and in the process of being mined) seem paltry by comparison? IIRC, there are 1 or 2 asteroids that could practically double the gold supply on earth, by themselves. Which isn't to mention platinum group metals, silver, nickel, and so forth. But yes, getting the equipment into orbit in the first place, never mind out to where that material is, would be godawfully expensive currently, to the point of not being worth it. (Concerns about crashing the precious metals market aside)

As to the rest:
Namrok wrote:Pretty much. I keep wondering what industry would be advantaged in space. There is always the possibility we might discover advanced materials which can only be manufactured in zero/microgravity. It's also possible these materials could be so valuable, for such essential functions that the cost to produce them in space is viewed as necessary. Especially if they possess any wartime function. In such a case, the 1/4 gravity of Mars would make a more efficient location for growing and launching food or raw materials over the Earth. The Moon even more so.

But we are stuck at a certain bottleneck right now, where these materials, if they exist, won't be discovered until space industry becomes economically feasible. And that won't happen until the launch cost per pound comes down by at least another order of magnitude, possibly two. Not like people aren't working on that problem though.
It is increasingly seeming to me that as processors and (solid state) memory design delves deeper and deeper into "3D Layering" of their chips, it it very possible that they're going to one industry that could see a very significant benefit to manufacturing said chips in a micro or otherwise low gravity environment. Which then goes back to silica mining, because they'd need a whole bunch of silicon and obtaining it "locally" rather than from Earth would be more long-term viable. :)

But that runs us around another circle where someone would first need to setup a lab or otherwise complete a series of experiments that demonstrate that a low gravity process creates a significant improvement over their standard gravity counterparts. Although I think that actually is a somewhat long-standing line of research that has been ongoing for years at this point, even if previous generations of processor/chip design was very 2-dimensional in most respects.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:21 pm

TheDeamon wrote:
ishpeck wrote:There is never going to be an economic advantage to space colonization for anybody on Earth.
That depends on a number of things that still exist only in the realm of theory right now. However, there also are plenty of things we use daily today that people believed would never exist even as recently as 30 years ago. A lot can change in just a decade, let alone two or three.
You're starting to sound like diefortheswarm. He used to argue that faster-than-light travel was inevitable because of inane distractions like Moore's Law.

You're going to have to come up with a far more compelling argument than "3D printers and plasma TV's" to justify this, dude.
TheDeamon wrote:IRC, there are 1 or 2 asteroids that could practically double the gold supply on earth, by themselves.
You talking about this?

http://fortune.com/2015/07/20/asteroid-precious-metals/

Because 1) That's not mars, 2) it doesn't need humans, 3) getting these metals is completely different than self-sufficient space colonization, 4) it's not even certain how much actual worth-while metal is in these rocks.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby TheDeamon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:32 pm

Ishpeck wrote:You're starting to sound like diefortheswarm. He used to argue that faster-than-light travel was inevitable because of inane distractions like Moore's Law.

You're going to have to come up with a far more compelling argument than "3D printers and plasma TV's" to justify this, dude.
They're examples of existing technology that is likely to be some of the "gateway" technology to make a space-faring economy viable in the first place.

I'm fully aware that a lot of this currently is basically going "1) Spend enough money to fully fund several small nations for several years. 2) ????? 3) 'Magic Happens' 4) Profit."

But I also think we're very near the technical capability of making it work, the only part we do not have at this is the economics to make it viable, which results in the financial inability to "spend enough money to full fund several small nations for years."

"Steps 2 and 3" are going to be a hell of a lot more than one or two steps, but that's something we're not really going to be able to fully understand until we start trying to. As there are a list of "known unknowns" that are going to be hard to quantify fully until such a time happens.
TheDeamon wrote:IRC, there are 1 or 2 asteroids that could practically double the gold supply on earth, by themselves.
You talking about this?

http://fortune.com/2015/07/20/asteroid-precious-metals/

Because 1) That's not mars, 2) it doesn't need humans, 3) getting these metals is completely different than self-sufficient space colonization, 4) it's not even certain how much actual worth-while metal is in these rocks.
The (space based) infrastructure needed in order to launch a remote drone mining operation on such an asteroid would as a consequence require or create much of the same Infrastructure that would be needed for Martian colonization. The only meaningful difference is how close the "human operators" are to where the operations are happening at, and how involved they need to be. But it also still stands that the "natural first market" for materials obtained in space is going to be in space itself, because once again, getting out of gravity wells ins't cheap. So if they have the ability to obtain precious metals in space, someone is then going to try to find a way to use those precious metals in space without needing to bring it down to Earth first. This is the way economics and commercial innovation works. You identify an inefficiency, and you make money from making it more efficient.

An existing industry that would directly benefit from such things would be orbital satellites. If they were built in orbit(either in whole, or in part), they can be built bigger(launch vehicle size is no longer a constraint, likewise structural integrity under high-G forces is less of an issue), more robust(heavier and reliable), and once the market matured, more cheaply using space-based assets for that construction than having someone on the ground become involved.

It doesn't happen over night, but its how development has happened in frontiers and other less-developed regions the world over throughout history.

Which takes us back to, if you think mining of that asteroid is going to eventually become economically viable, everything else as generally outlined is going to happen as a follow-on consequence of that. Nearly all of the technologies needed to accomplish that task will be directly applicable to everything I talked about previously. In some cases, they'd even help make such a mining expedition even more cost competitive. As once again, using fuel and other resources obtained in space would be less costly than using the same materials obtained from earth. Once production operations began for that given resource.
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Re: SpaceX landed another rocket

Postby Ishpeck » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:10 pm

TheDeamon wrote:The (space based) infrastructure needed in order to launch a remote drone mining operation on such an asteroid would as a consequence require or create much of the same Infrastructure that would be needed for Martian colonization.
You can bring asteroids to Earth for very little effort. A well-timed nudge can bring things well into reach of terrestrial mining equipment. Just a little bit of math and rocket fuel and you get the minerals from a single launch without having to carry much off the planet. None of this sets up for Martian colonization.

Moreover, the costs (in delta-v's) of moving humans off of the planet are _ludicrous_. Orders of magnitude higher than the costs of shipping mining robots. So even if you can send robots to an asteroid and have them send back gold nuggets at a profit, that proves jack shit about your ability to put people on Mars for any period of time.

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