Author Topic: Space X  (Read 95392 times)


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Re: Space X
« Reply #320 on: February 23, 2021, 06:51:58 PM »
I don't doubt it.  Musk is no rocket scientist, but he doesn't have to be. 

Actually, I think you can say he is, at this point. Maybe an unconventional path to get there, but as lead rocket designer for SpaceX, and based on any reports I could see from people around him, he can hold his own with rocket engineers no problem. Nobody knows everything, but to pretend he doesn't know what he's doing and isn't a real rocket guy just because he didn't have some piece of paper or some job with some title at Boeing before this seems missing the forest for the trees to me. Self-education is still education, and doing is better proof of competence than diplomas.

Yea, if he said something stupid about satellites it's most likely because he was simplifying for an audience.

When the Falcon 1 reached Space it put Elon in an extremely elite group of people who'd created a privately funded orbital launch system, right now its Rocket Lab Electron, Northrop Minotaur, then you have a couple of tiny air launched vehicles form Virgin Orbit and Northrop Pegasus. Bezos has spent many billions and hasn't come close to orbit,  barely reaching 1/10th the necessary velocity with a sub-orbital toy.

Since then he's helped lead the design choices that created

1) The worlds leading launch system Falcon 9 that dramatically cut the cost of space access by ... choosing to use ten engines per launch. Yes, Falcon 9 was far cheaper than the competition before reusability  because of the decision to design with a liquid fuel engine sized for mass manufacture. It's also cheaper because he didn't make the costly mistake so many others did (Arianespace, SLS, ULA) in adding solid boosters, or using a poor fuel as hydrogen as the first stage propellant.

2) Only then did his team master hypersonic retropropulsion to enable first stage re-use and recovery, using both RTLS and recovery ships. It's the first time cost effective re-use has ever been done for space launch.

3) Then he built the worlds biggest active rocket, the Falcon Heavy.

4) And now they are building the world first fully re-usable launch system, Starship. If you compare the design decisions between the Space Shuttle and Starship, you'd have to conclude Elon is a genius just from those.
a) Using identical engines for both stages means they can be efficiently mass manufactured. The Shuttle SRBs were $70M each, and it's Hydrogen engines were $75M each (double that now for SLS), Raptors will cost less than $1M each.
b) No expensive solid rocket boosters
b) No heavy hydrogen tanks and engines, instead burning dense methane that fits in smaller, lighter tanks and doesn't evaporate over time  like hydrogen does.
c) No expensive fragile materials like the Shuttle heat tiles and it's aluminum frame, just super cheap stainless steel with much higher heat resistance with carefully located heat shield material on hot spots that can be easily replaced.
d) No massive single stage stack to reach the Moon or Mars, instead cheap refueling in low orbit significantly increases velocity (shortening interplanetary trips)  and allows for delivering much larger ($100 ton+) payloads.
e) The robust heat resistance allows for aerobraking into Mars, saving huge amounts of fuel and again substantially increasing tonnage of payload landed.
f) Methane can be made anywhere in the solar system, especially on Mars. This saves another massive amount of launch fuel and increases payloads yet again.

5) Oh, and there is Starlink. There were discussions of satellite constellations before but Musk is actually making this happen. Test results have been fantastic, as has launch cadence. Elon has literally put more satellites into space than anyone on this planet at this point, so I'm  going to guess he knows a bit about how they work even if his real focus is launch systems and manned exploration of Mars.

Musk may say idiotic things on a regular basis, but as a rocket designer he's neck and neck with Von Braun as the greatest in world history. The world is full of rocket engineers who've made grand plans and done nothing, and lots of them work at Boeing turning government dollars into nothing but pork.

I agree with everything youíve written and will also add that Starlink is probably going to make Elon one of the wealthiest people this century. Itís going to be hugely successful. So many areas basically have a government sponsored monopoly (and terrible) ISP. Itís past time for a step change so everyone can get excellent internet for a cheap price.